This newsletter has been produced to help you get the most out of the Internet,
and to keep you, as an Actrix customer, informed of developments and services within the company.
Past newsletters may be viewed at
Newsletters are now archived by article at
Questions and comments about the newsletter can be e-mailed to
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to


Setting Your Computer's Home Page

Whatever browser you are using, whether it be Explorer, Netscape or Opera, you can load your own home page settings. Your home page is simply the Internet site that your browser is set to go to when you start it up. Your home page may be set to, or it may be set to load the Actrix page on start up. Whatever it is set to, it is easy to change, and there may be good reason to consider doing it yourself.

NZ CityIs there a web site you check daily, or one that you go to often? Perhaps it would be a good idea for that to be set as your home page. There are plenty of sites that are specifically designed to function this way. One excellent New Zealand site for this purpose would be NZCity ( This site has fresh news articles every day as well as your horoscope, weather reports for your city, a tv guide (channels 1-4), a New Zealand search feature and web directory, lotto numbers and a whole lot more. The page can be customised so that it loads your particular desired settings: your horoscope, your city's weather and so forth. Starting the day with NZ City is a little like starting each day with your favourite newspaper.

STUFFStuff is a similarly suitable site, though perhaps it's a little more news oriented. Another similar one would be NZoom ( Large Dot Com companies such as Microsoft and Netscape have customisable pages you can set as your home page, as do the major search engines such as Yahoo and Google. If you use Hotmail regularly, then perhaps setting that as your homepage would save you time each day. Maybe you run a small business and do banking on a daily basis. Setting your bank's web site as your home page might be an idea if so. Below are some links you might like to use:

The site that I use personally is the NASA picture of the day site: This site shows a different picture from outer space each day, and provides a simple explanation for it. One side value of this is that the pictures make great wallpaper, which means I can vary the appearance of my desk top regularly and with ease.

If you know how to write basic html code (see Norrie the Nerd's home page) then one idea is to make a page of your own, perhaps containing links to a variety of your favourite sites. This could be uploaded to your Actrix free home page space, and then set as your browser's home page.

To set your home page in Internet Explorer:

  1. With Explorer open, click on Tools on the menu bar.
  2. Click Internet Options in the drop down box that appears. This will bring up a box called Internet Options. This box has a number of tabs on it, the first of which is called General.
  3. Enter your desired home page address into the home page address field.
  4. Click the Apply button in the bottom left-hand corner and then Okay.

You're done, simple as that. Close down Explorer and open it up afresh to test whether you typed the address in correctly.

If you're using Explorer on a Macintosh try Edit/Preferences/Browser Display....

To set your home page in Netscape Navigator 4.7:

  1. With Navigator open, click on Edit on the menu bar.
  2. Click Preferences in the drop down box that appears. This will bring up a box called Preferences.
  3. Click on Navigator in the category space to the left. This will bring up an area to the left where a number of options can be changed.
  4. Enter your desired home page address into the home page location field.
  5. Click the Okay button at the bottom.

You're done, simple as that. Close down Navigator and open it up afresh to test whether you typed the address in correctly.

If you're using Navigator on a Macintosh try Edit and then Preferences. Select Navigator in the category field to the left, and enter the home page address into the home page location field.

Opera 5.01 allows you to set two types of home pages, one for the window you're currently in (temporary), and one "global home page." To set either of these home pages using Opera, simply click Navigation on the toolbar, and then click on Set Home Page.


The Actrix Services Section

Are you fully aware of the services available to Actrix customers under the Services section of our web site? If not, it might be a good idea to surf on over and have a look. Just go to our home page and click the Services link.

With Actrix Web Mail you can access whatever mail is in your mail box using the web instead of your e-mail program. It's not as efficient or handy as using and e-mail program, but it is designed to be there for you should you ever need to get to your mail from someone else's computer. You can read, delete, reply to and forward e-mail from the web mail page.

With the Online Help Desk you can send an e-mail directly to our support team requesting assistance.

With the Online Payment Form you can enter your credit card details securely to pay your Actrix invoices.

The Add a Mailbox Link takes you to a page where you can add another e-mail address to your account. It explains how many you're entitled to, how to create them on the Actrix server, and how to configure Outlook Express to be able to use them.

With View Account Details you can find out all sorts of things about your account, including your usage over the last few months, outstanding invoices, block time remaining (One Cent Per Minute Accounts) and much much more.

There are a number of other features there to such as help with Internet Content Control, and a vacation e-mail answering service. Just a hint, though, don't try the Monthly Volume Statistics link unless you are on an account type that pays for traffic rather than time. If you're unsure about this, you can assume you do not pay for traffic, so the link will be no good to you.


Cyberspace News Snippets

Americans Support E-mail Monitoring: A survey released recently finds Americans are worried about criminal activity on the Internet and willing to let law enforcement agencies intercept suspects’ email despite misgivings about privacy protections. The survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found 73 percent of those surveyed were worried about criminals using the Internet to plan and carry out crimes, with 43 percent very concerned. Click the link below for more:

Cyber Threat More Dangerous than Military Attack: Our national infrastructure is now more at danger from cyber attacks than it is from any military threat, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook declared to the House of Commons last Thursday night. It's a good example of open government: pointing out to any would-be antagonists.... Click the link below for more:

Are You using Your Actrix Personal Home Page?

Each Actrix user is entitled to their own personal web site. Are you making the most of this free service? Norrie the Nerd has written a little about how you can use the system, and he'd be more than willing to answer your questions if you have them. Check out his user home page at There is also an index page of users here. Our policy is only to add users to the index who request it. If you would like your home page to be added to the Index, you can let either me or Norrie know.

MS and Its Terms of Embarrassment: According to the terms of use of Microsoft's Passport service, the company has the right to "use, modify, copy, distribute, ... or sell" your personal information. The statement -- which bounced around news sites and chat rooms this week -- seemed to confirm what people had always suspected about Microsoft: It wants to own everything, including your e-mail. But on Wednesday, a spokesman for the company said that greed had nothing to do with it. Click the link below for more:,1367,42811,00.html

Internet Revolution Only Just Beginning: (New Zealand's InfoTech) The Internet revolution is just beginning – that was the message delivered to Comdex in a speech by chief executive of Internet software firm Inktomi David Peterschmidt. "Every one of you is making its history." Mr Peterschmidt highlighted what he claims are five essentials that will define going forward with the Internet. Click the link below for more:,1008,738490a1897,FF.html

Microsoft Outlook to Ban Attachments: In a desperate move to counter the influx of email viruses springing up all over the world, Microsoft's latest version of Outlook will ban more than 30 types of files from being sent as attachments. Is the prevention a cure? Following a spate of high-profile email virus attacks in recent years, Microsoft's Outlook 2002. Click the link below for more:

The Top Ten Words Submitted to in Order Are: Jobs, Sex, Cars, Real Estate, Employment, Maps, Cars, New Zealand, Genealogy, Personals. I imagine this probably provides a reasonable indication of New Zealanders and their net use. I am not sure, however, how the word "Cars" managed to fill both the number 3 and number 7 slots.

Dot On Forehead To Replace Computer Mouse, Says Entrepreneur: If technowhiz Jim Richardson has his way, the Naturalpoint TrackIR will soon be found on desktops throughout the world. Here's how it works: A user affixes a disposable dot to his forehead or glasses. A device containing four LEDs and a camera is plugged into his computer. The LEDs shine an invisible beam of light off the dot. As the user moves his head, the camera and the Tracker's software cause a pointer to travel across the computer's monitor, much like a mouse does. Now on sale for $99US.

Apple's OS X: Don't Bite Yet: What does Apple know that you don't? OS X (meaning 10) is the most extensive revision of Apple's core software since the Mac made its debut in 1984. Although it went on sale on Mar. 25, Apple won't ship new Macs with OS X loaded until sometime later this year. It turns out there's a good reason for this, and Mac owners are strongly urged to hold off. Click the link below for more:

Internet Nut Changes Name to .Com: An Israeli Internet enthusiast, Tomer Krrissi, has formally changed his name to Tomer .Com out of apparent love and respect for the World Wide Web. .Com, as his friends call him, reckons his unusual moniker is something of a babe-magnet. The 25-year-old is a computer programmer and software engineer from Ramat-Gan in Israel, whose motto is, "I know I will make it."  Click the link below for more:

Chinese to Launch Hack the USA Campaign: The recent political stand-off between China and the USA over the spy plane incident is not over yet. Chinese and American crackers have vowed to continue waging a cyber war, with the Chinese set to launch a "Hack the USA" campaign beginning on May Day. While the politicians try to settle the dispute diplomatically, an Internet war between the two countries is brewing. Click the link below for more:

Bill Gates No Longer Richest Man on Planet: Bill Gates is no longer the richest man on the planet. Thanks to the DoJ and the recent fall in tech stocks, poor ole Bill will have to make do with 37.5 billion. He had lead the world for three years thanks to his huge share holding in Microsoft but now new king of the castle is publicity-shy head of Wal-Mart S Robson Walton - worth a staggering 45.3 billion. The figures come courtesy of the Sunday Times Rich List, which lists the 1,000 richest folk in the UK. Aside from Bill's "downfall" though, the list makes depressing reading for some folk in IT... Click the link below for more:


Hacking 101.5 - Firewalls and Packets

by Dean Moor

I am again grateful to Dean Moor for this next article in his series on hacking and security. To many it is a fascinating topic. It really would be a good idea for those interested but new to computers or the net to read over Dean's articles in previous newsletters. -Editor

Hi Folks, well, so far we have discussed what the "Bad Guys" of the internet can do to your machine, and how they do it. How about for the next couple of months, we discuss what you can do to protect yourself.

This time I'd like to talk about firewalls. Firewalls (such as Zone Alarm, Black Ice etc) are programs you can load onto your computer to make you more secure from incoming nasties.

Before I get into the basics of a firewall, however, I must explain what packets are.

When you send information to others, your computer first takes the data you are ready to move across the Internet (such as an e-mail or web page request) and breaks it into smaller pieces, called packets. These packets are each numbered, and are stamped with information concerning who the packet is from, where it is going, and how many packets there are in total.

Then your computer sends this information to the Internet. Your computer examines each packet, finds the 'TO' address, and asks nearby computers on the Internet to see which are not busy, and if that computer can forward the packet.

When a computer responds, the packet is sent to that machine, which makes similar contact with other machines and where this process is repeated until your data reaches its destination.

It is important to note that the same computer(s) probably will not handle all of the outgoing packets. Some of the computers that 'volunteer' may actually be out of the way, depending on how busy the internet is at the time.

Therefore it is possible that many of the last packets sent will actually arrive at the destination before some of the first packets, depending on which computers handled what packets. However, the difference is often measured in milliseconds, and is not noticed.

At the receiving host computer (the one you sent your information to) the message is reassembled. The receiving host then checks that all data has arrived, and ensures that the packets are complete and undamaged, much like a warehouse would with new stock. Should any packets be missing or damaged replacement packets are requested from the sending machine. Once the packets are all accounted for, they are reassembled and processed. As seen in the demo below.

Click Here to Start Demo
(You may want to click this a couple of times in order to follow it fully.)

Now, what does this have to do with a firewall? Simple; the firewall is generally placed in front of all other programs on you computer, between you and the Internet. All incoming packets must first pass through the firewall before they can be processed by your machine. This is where your rule-sets come into effect.

Say for example, you wish to allow all web pages from Actrix, but nowhere else. Your firewall will examine each WWW packet that approaches your computer to ensure that the sender's address in the packet header matches the one you set in your firewall rules. If the addresses match, the packet is let through, otherwise, it is rejected. The same process is followed for all packets that come in, regardless of the type or size. All must be accepted by the firewall to be processed by your machine.

The same process is followed for out bound packets (information you are sending) Each packet is examined by your firewall to ensure that the receiver's address is listed in the firewalls rule-set, and should any be denied, those packets simply will not go anywhere.

Your firewall can also block certain ports (electronic gates into and out of your computer) as well. Using the same methods as above with packet filtering, your firewall can see which port the information is leaving on, or coming into, and either allow or disallow the information, as seen in the diagram below.

Image supplied by

Now, although the firewall appears to be all you need for the security of your computer, I urge you to reconsider. As you can see in the diagram above, a few ports are left open. This must be done to allow some traffic through, and as such, your computer, although safer, is still vulnerable to attack. Next month I will discuss further security applications that you can use to add to the features of a firewall.

Safe Browsing and Good Luck. Most of all Have Fun.

Dean Moor


Dialup Networking Error #1 Error: 691
By John Kontopos

691 - Access denied because username and/or password is invalid on the domain.

The Error 691 Screen

CAUSE - This error will occur if you use a bad user name or password. Remember that passwords are case-sensitive; you may have a problem with upper/lower-case.

1. Verify that you have entered the correct password.
2. Check the Caps lock key to make sure it isn't accidentally on.
3. Try connecting again; if this doesn't solve the problem restart the machine and re-attempt the connection.
4. If all the above fails call the Actrix helpdesk (0800-228749).


Actrix and the ORBS Blacklist

It has recently come to our attention that Actrix Networks has been included on a database of ISPs who encourage or allow Spam (unsolicited bulk-e-mailing) by allowing "open relay" on their servers. The database and related website is administrated by an organisation known as ORBS.

Despite its inclusion on the ORBS database, Actrix Networks does not allow "open relay" on its servers, and never has. Actrix does not, and never has, encouraged SPAM. Actrix Networks is taking steps to ensure its name is removed from the ORBS database.

Until Actrix's name is removed, however, a very small number of ISPs around the world might bounce e-mail that comes to them with an Actrix e-mail address. This is because if an ISP is a subscriber to ORBS, its mail servers will refuse to handle mail from any ISP that is on the ORBS database.

We apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused. Please be assured that we are seeking a speedy resolution to the situation.

Interesting Sites (Click the picture links to access the sites)

Please note: Actrix supplies links to these sites for your interest and possible use. We cannot endorse or take any responsibility for their contents.

Innovative Lives

Innovative Lives

This site examines the innovative lives of a variety of inventors. It looks at the inventions as well as at the types of innovative and therefore inspirational lives the inventors lived.

Trade Me Kiwi

Trade Me - NZ Auction site

Trade Me gets great reviews by staff here at Actrix who have used it. Trade Me is New Zealand based, easy to use, and reasonably comprehensive in the stuff that it offers. You do have to register to participate, but this is simple to do. Good services are offered such as reliability reports on various traders.

How Stuff Works

How Stuff Works

An excellent site for the kids, or for anyone curious. There is no end to the amount of topics here, ranging from fuel gauges to missile systems, to Easter to dieting. If you've ever wanted to know how something works, and you've wanted it explained to you as simply as possible, then this is the site for you. 

Kids' National Geographic

National Geographic for Kids

This looks like a fairly safe and worthwhile place to leave the kids, though, as Norrie recommends, you're best off taking the time to visit a site like this with them yourself. There are amazing facts,   photo-tricks, challenges, videos and so forth. Bright and colourful enough to arouse and hold interest for a while.

Space Weather!


SpaceWeather is a site dedicated to the daily monitoring of solar flares, geomagnetic storms, Earth's aurora, and events in space that may or will impact upon earth. Go here to learn about meteor storms, solar flares etc. There's a nice little archive of past stories with pictures too.

Absolute Tabs!

Absolute Tabs

This site offers a large tablature archive which includes guitar tabs, bass tabs, and drum tabs. There are free guitar lessons and tutorials, easy downloads and links to other great tab sites. Absolute tabs caters mainly for people wanting to play rock music. It contains a reasonably comprehensive alphabetical index, and enthusiasts are encouraged to submit tabs of their own.

Movies for Guys

Movies for Guys

Movies For Guys is a site dedicated to movies guys typically like to see, though I couldn't see any good reason why you would have to be a guy to benefit. I did try and find a Movies for Girls site, but there doesn't seem to be one. Anyway, don't be put off by the title. Anyone interested in reviews of Hollywood movies might enjoy the site. You're just a little more likely to bump into Arnold Schwartzenegger than you are Jane Austin.


Breaking News From Space

New pictures beamed back from the Hubble Space Telescope are offering a detailed view of the spiral galaxy M51, better known as the Whirlpool Galaxy.  That's pretty exciting in itself, the experts say, but they add that the latest photos also show a "dust disk" in the Whirlpool's nucleus, which may be providing fuel for a nuclear black hole. One thing we know is that the pictures, provided by the Hubble Heritage Program, sure are pretty.

NZ Cuisine

NZ Cuisine

Wondering about some new recipes, or what wine to serve with whichever dish? This New Zealand cuisine site has a host of categories and combinations to explore ranging from dishes like goat's cheese and grilled figs, through to food better suited to a less esoteric palette. There are restaurant and cafe reviews from around the country, advanced site search features and a whole lot more.

Security Tracker

Security Tracker

This site, operated by, aims to report purely on computer security vulnerabilities, nothing else. The site is billed as offering readers access to free "pure and simple" data about IT security without routing users to the usual portal service. The site lists and categorises recent vulnerabilities, provides exploit information, and indicates available solutions.

Monitor Camera

Monitor Camera

MonitorCamera.Com has some fast but wacky technology that will actually take a picture of you right from your computer monitor. It's really  quite amazing and you should definitely give it a try.


Martindale's Reference Desk

A site full of links to all sorts of helpful reference tools and resources. There are more links than you can count here, to science information, sports, fun and games and so on. If you need information about anything; chances are you'll find help here.


Bringing It All Back Home

EditorAnd so ends another newsletter. I really hope you found it enjoyable or useful.

Each month, content is always a struggle; not because there isn't a wealth of stuff to write about, but because of the wide range of reader interests and knowledge. I try to include material that is simple and basic as well as stuff that is a little more advanced. Striking a balance is not always easy. So, if you have suggestions, or if there is something that intrigues you, let me know and I'll see what I can find out or commission in the way of information. I have always been grateful for this sort of feedback, even from the grumpy ones who think the newsletter is way too hard or way too lightweight.

Regardless, your feedback is always welcome.


Rob Zorn
Editor - Actrix Newsletter