Actrix Newsletter March 2002

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 http://editor.actrix.co.nz/
Newsletters are now archived by article at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/
Questions and comments about the newsletter can be e-mailed to editor@actrix.co.nz
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to support@actrix.co.nz

 

Using the BCC Field in E-mail

If you're reasonably new to e-mail, you may not be familiar with how to use your e-mail program's CC and BCC fields. This small article will look at what these fields mean and how to use them specifically in Outlook Express.

The CC Field

When you click the "Create Mail" or "New Mail" button in your e-mail program, whether it's Outlook Express or not, no doubt you've noticed the CC field. CC stands for Carbon Copy. You would normally use this field to include the e-mail address of someone you wanted to receive a copy of the e-mail you are sending. For example, if you were part of a work team and you were e-mailing your boss about something, you would put your boss's e-mail address in the e-mail's "To" field, and if you wanted your workmates to be aware of that e-mail, you might put their e-mail addresses in the "CC" field. Your e-mail would then be sent to both your boss and your workmates at the same time. All recipients would be able to see exactly who the e-mail was sent to (in this case the boss) and they would be able to see everyone that received a copy of the e-mail. The picture below demonstrates how Outlook Express displays information about who the e-mail was sent to. In this case I sent an e-mail to myself, and copied it to my friend Norrie. I can clearly see that in the Outlook Express display. The snapshot is taken from the grey bar just above the Outlook Express display window.

The e-mail's headers also tell me that the message was sent to rob@actrix.co.nz and copied to norrie@actrix.co.nz at the same time.

From: "Rob Zorn" <editor@actrix.co.nz>
To: <rob@actrix.co.nz>
Cc: <norrie@actrix.co.nz>
Subject: test

(You can check an e-mail's headers in Outlook Express by right-clicking on the e-mail in your inbox and leftclicking on Properties.)

The BCC Field

Okay, so what if I want to send an e-mail to someone, and copy it to someone else, but I don't want the person I'm sending it to to know that someone else is receiving a copy? That's where the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) field is used. Most of the time you would use the BCC field when you are being sneaky about something. If you were having a dispute with a colleague and you wanted to copy your boss in on your e-mail dealings with that colleague, but you didn't want your colleague to know you were doing that, then you would put your boss's e-mail address into the Blind Carbon Copy field (after checking on relevant privacy laws). I use the BCC field when I am dealing with someone and for whatever reason I want to keep a copy of the e-mail on another computer. If so, I would send the e-mail with an e-mail address in the BCC field that is only checked by the computer I want the copy of the e-mail on. It's easier for me to hide the fact that I am doing that than to explain to whoever as to why I cam copying someone else in on the e-mail. I'm not being sneaky; it's just more convenient for me not to have to explain.

So, who sees what?

You have to be careful using the BCC field if you're being sneaky. Plenty of people mix up which e-mail address goes where and end up revealing their sneakiness to the very person they were trying to conceal it from. By the way, I'm not endorsing sneakiness here. The BCC field has legitimate uses and it's up to you to decide when it's appropriate to use.

Using the hypothetical example above. If I put rob@actrix.co.nz into my e-mail's "To" field, and norrie@actrix.co.nz into the BCC field, then Rob would receive the e-mail, but would not know that Norrie has been copied in. Norrie will receive an e-mail in his inbox that doesn't have his e-mail address on it. Instead it appears as below.

Now if Norrie sees that, he should right away be able to tell that his e-mail address has been put into the BCC field. It's pretty obvious as an e-mail has appeared in his inbox that is clearly addressed to someone else. This may ring a bell for some of you who have noticed you have received Spam messages that don't appear to be addressed to you. Obviously they are being sent to someone else and your e-mail address has been included in the BCC field.

As I said above, Rob would not know that Norrie had been copied in on the e-mail, even if he checked the headers. The headers on his e-mail would simply omit any mention of who was included in the BCC field.

If Norrie checked the headers on his version, he would see something like the following:

Received: by ragas.actrix.co.nz (mbox norrie)
Delivered-To: norrie@actrix.co.nz
Message-ID: <011201c1b34d$48eed570$4d1560cb@ZORNCAT>
From: "Rob Zorn" <editor@actrix.co.nz>
To: <rob@actrix.co.nz>
Subject: test BCC

This information tells him that the e-mail was delivered to him (Norrie) even though it was addressed to someone else (Rob), a clear sign that his e-mail address was in the BCC field.

If that is too confusing, then perhaps we can simplify it as follows. If you don't want someone to know that the e-mail to them is being copied to someone else, put their e-mail address in the "To" field. The person who's e-mail address you put into the BCC field will know what is going on.

Accessing the BCC Field

Outlook Express does not display the BCC field for e-mails by default. To get the BCC field to appear,  open up a fresh new e-mail. Click the View Menu and then click a tick next to "All Headers" in the drop down menu. From now on all your new e-mails will have the BCC field included by default. To stop the BCC field from appearing, just click the View menu again in a freshly opened e-mail and click to remove the tick.

 


Changes at Actrix

We are half-way through the process of transferring everyone onto our new plan structures, this will continue until the 10th March by which time all customers will be on the new plans. I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback and suggestions. Most of your comments have been positive and have focused around the design of the new website (with the daily news snippets being a real favourite!) and the 6 and 12 month loyalty discounts also proving popular.

We are also getting flooded with Direct Debit forms as many people are realising how easy paying by direct debit really is. So remember to get your form into us before the 16th March and be in to win one of 40 free dial-up accounts. The winners will be published in our April newsletter.

CyberByte 1 Clarification
We have had lots of questions about the $2 charge we are imposing on our CyberByte 1 customers. Due to customer feedback we will start charging you the $2 fee when your current balance runs out. When you next add block time to your account we will automatically start charging you the $2 fee. If you have already paid us this monthly service fee, it will sit in your account and won't be activated until you next top up your block time.

Best regards,
Amber McEwen
Actrix Networks Marketing
amcewen@actrix.co.nz


Six More Microsoft Vulnerabilities!

by Jeremy Fairbrass

Microsoft has recently released a cumulative patch for Internet Explorer, which contains fixes for six different vulnerabilities in the web browser. They are recommending that everyone with Internet Explorer installed on their computer download the patch. The most serious of the vulnerabilities would potentially allow an attacker to run code on another user’s computer.

While it's probably unlikely, in the real world, that an attacker would manage to hack into your computer by taking advantage of one of these vulnerabilities, we would agree with Microsoft that it is highly recommended to download and install the patch anyway. You can download it directly from www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/downloads/critical/q316059/default.asp and you can read more about it at www.microsoft.com/technet/security/bulletin/MS02-005.asp.

It's always very important to implement the various security patches, fixes and updates that are released by any software developer (whether Microsoft or not), as they usually make the software safer, more stable or better in some way. This is especially true for security patches that fix vulnerabilities that could potentially allow an hacker to get into your computer. As such, it's always a good idea to visit the websites of the different software programs that you use every now and then, to check for any important updates. Microsoft have a special web page that lists all of the available updates and patches for your version of Windows and Internet Explorer. The address to this page is http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com. You can also get to it by clicking the Tools menu in Internet Explorer, and selecting "Windows Update".

We also recommend that people make sure they have the latest version of Internet Explorer itself installed. Later versions of IE have many bug fixes and security patches built in already. The latest version of IE is version 6, and is available from www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/downloads/ie6/default.asp. However, if for some reason you'd rather stick with version 5, you should make sure you have the latest "Service Pack" for it, because the Service Packs also include many bug fixes and security patches. Internet Explorer 5.5 Service Pack 2 is available from www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/downloads/recommended/ie55sp2/default.asp.

Lastly, on a related note, Microsoft have also recently released the "Windows 2000 Security Roll-up Package 1", which is a very important collection of virtually all of the Windows 2000 security patches issued since the release of "Windows 2000 Service Pack 2". All users of Windows 2000 are strongly encouraged to download and install this Roll-up Package, which is available at www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/critical/q311401/default.asp. You will need to have "Windows 2000 Service Pack 2" installed first - this is also a highly recommended security update for Windows 2000, available for download at www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/servicepacks/sp2/default.asp.


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. Got a site you think would be neat to share with other readers? Let me know and receive a free Norrie the Nerd chocolate bar courtesy of Actrix!

Congratulations to last month's chocolate bar winners who correctly identified one of the top misspellings via Google Search for 2001. They were: Amber Smith, Cindy Hassan, Malcolm Parker, Claire Humphries, N Glover, Adam Groenewegen, Malcolm Fraser, Antony Purcell, Dorothy Morrissey, Michele Dunlop, Jan Hill, Lee Lawrence, John O'Rourke,   . Congratulations to those who won chocolate by using the distance calculator to work out the distance between Wellington and Youngstown Ohio (13909 km). They were Hamish Seaward, Debbie Furnell, Florence Cornwall, Kelly Rowlands, Lez Williams, Russell Fraser, Bob Denniston, Jennifer Loynes, Ian Hayley, Jim Ballard, Ron Bremner, Felix Ko, Rosemary Melvin, Alastair Blyth, Tony Moore, Ray Banfield, Andrew Humphries, David Henderson, J Gash, Peter Benson, Wayne Chapman, Gavin Kidd, Sue Townsend, Andrew Hewett, Eric Lord, Colin Bellett, Aaron Cash, Gail Simpson, Kevin Connell, D Vedder, Tim Loughnane, Mrs Keane, Rex Livingstone, Sue Johnston, The Conways, Caroline Whitehouse Mark Zentfeld, Andrew Chester and Mark Harris. Another chance to win this month. See below!

Parenting Tips
www.parentsoup.com - You get a user's manual every time you buy an electrical appliance, but ironically enough one doesn't come with that most important addition to your household, a child. That's where Parent Soup can help - look here for quizzes and tools handy for parents. You'll get baby-name finders and selectors as well as quizzes to determine, for example, whether or not you've really discussed sex with your teenage child. Sorry, but you're still going to have to burp your baby by hand.
Picturing the Century
www.nara.gov/exhall/picturing_the_century/galleries/galleries.html - "One Hundred Years of Photography from the National Archives," commemorates the end of the 20th century with a selection of photographs from the vast and varied holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). NARA photographs vividly capture the sweeping changes of the last one hundred years. They depict both the mundane and high political drama, society's failings as well as its triumphs, war's ugliness as well as its bravery. This exhibition is arranged in chronological "galleries" as well as seven "portfolios" of talented photographers well represented in NARA's holdings."
Secrets of the FBI
www.the-fbi-files.com - Take a look at secrets of the past, present and possible future as these sharp-eyed researchers uncover documents through the Freedom of Information Act that would keep Mulder and Sculley busy for another few seasons. The site looks authentic enough and claims that all its files are also available at the FBI website. Boy o boy, the FBI really had a problem with Elvis's manner of dress...
Mind Tools
www.mindtools.com - Mind Tools helps you to understand the general skills and techniques which will help you to excel in your career, whatever your profession. There are dozens of effective gimmicks to exercise memory, decision-making, stress control, speed reading, self-hypnosis, creativity, concentration, and a whole lot more that I forget... Free chocolate, courtesy of Actrix to anyone who can name one type of mnemonic for improving memory. Send your answer to editor@actrix.co.nz and confirm your postal address when you do.
New Zealand Penguins
www.penguin.net.nz - If you're a penguin-lover (and who could blame you) then you'll love this site. There are sections on all aspects of penguins from serious information to fun games and puzzles. What I found fascinating about the site was the webcam section. One of the features is an infrared picture from inside a penguins nest that updates every 90 seconds. Thanks to Bruce McKinlay for this site.
Bonehead Awards
http://bonehead.oddballs.com - This site resembles a little the Darwin Award site, and should be appreciated by the same crowd. It awards "bonehead of the day" to people in the news who do, well, bonehead type things. One example is the New Zealand psychic who gave out lucky Lotto numbers like 48, 52 and 60. Each award (and they do several a day) is documented with a link to a reputable news story online.
The Amazing World of Colorgenics
www.colorgenics.com/intro.html - Do this short test by clicking the colours you feel most in harmony with in order to receive a breakdown of your personal profile. I found it pretty accurate, but being a born-again skeptic, I tried it again clicking colours at random. That time the profile didn't fit at all. Oh well, I'm sure there is a rational explanation. Don't let my experience colour yours!
The Belarc Advisor
http://www.belarc.com/Download.html - This free program download comes with the recommendation of customer John Stanley. It's a small download that should only take a couple of minutes over a 56K modem. It does a quick scan of your computer and then makes a web page which it loads into your browser for you, which lists info about your computer such as type of hard drives, RAM, version of Windows, the programs you've got installed, printers, network paths, etc etc. Very useful all if you're wanting a nice summary of your computer.
Could You be Psychic?
http://psi.mindscape.org/bi/gotpsi.shtml - Think you might have a psychic gift? This web site presents several tests for you to complete as part of their research into psychic abilities. If you think you might be gifted, why not have a go at confirming that. You have to register, but that's quick, easy and private. It turns out I'm not very pre-cognative - but I already knew that. :-)
Magic Eye
www.magiceye.com/index.htm - Remember those pictures that were doing the rounds a few years ago where you stare at them for a while until the three dimensional internal image inside begins to show itself to you? This site is from the official creators of "stereograms." It contains sections on how they work, helpful tips on how to see them better and so forth. There is a small archive of a dozen or so stereograms in the "Image of the Week" section, and a whole lot more under the Samples link. Thanks, Linda Jenkins, for this one.
Translated Al Qaeda Manual
www.usdoj.gov/ag/trainingmanual.htm - The Al Qaeda manual at this site was located by the Manchester (England) Metropolitan Police during a search of an Al Qaeda member's home and relate
s to the "Declaration of Jihad." The U.S. Department of Justice is only providing selected chapters from the manual because it does not want to aid in educating terrorists or to encourage further acts of terrorism.
Text-To-Speech Research
www.research.att.com/~mjm/cgi-bin/ttsdemo - This site gives you the chance to have some fun while you assist AT&T with their text-to-speech research project. You enter in some words, and select whether you want a female or male voice. Click submit and after short time a small wav file will be downloaded to your computer which will then automatically play in your default media player. I have to say, the project seems to be working well so far, and the return voice copes with difficult words pretty easily, even with people's names. Now's your chance to get yourself a recording of voices from either sex saying nice things about you!

Cyberspace News Snippets

Pope says Internet 'Wonderful' but Needs Regulating: The Internet caters to the best and worst of human nature and needs regulation to stop depravity flooding cyberspace, Pope John Paul said Tuesday. The 81-year old Pontiff, who last year sent his first message over the Internet, praised it as a "wonderful instrument" that should be used to spread the word of God and encourage global peace. Click here for more.

Pope says Technology Shouldn't Tempt Man to Play God: Pope John Paul II said Tuesday not all advances in biotechnology were morally right and urged mankind to resist the temptation to play God. "Life cannot be considered a possession or private property even if the potential we have today to improve its quality could make people think they are the masters of it," said the pope, 81, the leader of some one billion Roman Catholics. Click here for more.

Net Closes in on Car Thieves: Car owners will be able to track stolen vehicles over the internet using a system to be available nationally from next month. "If someone discovers their car has been stolen they can log on to the internet, find out exactly where it is and get on to the police". Click here for more.

Turning Macs on Thievery: Every year about 400,000 computers are stolen in the United States. Only 3 percent are ever recovered. But after his sister's iMac was taken during a burglary, a Houston man was able to get it back using remote-control software, expert help from friends on the Net, a large dose of luck and some incredible naiveté on the thief's part. Click here for more.

Spammers Know What we Want, Don't They? (NZ Herald): Money, pornography, weight loss - is that all we're interested in? Surely we're not gullible enough to be taken in by spam. An analysis of the spam I've received in the past week provides an alarming snapshot of net culture. Click here for more.

Researchers Address Gender Gap in Computing: The challenge of recruiting female engineers, long a problem for high-tech companies, begins as early as kindergarten, according to new research. "Women have made great advances in medicine and law and some in politics, but it has really been the hard sciences and the field of technology where women have not broken the barriers" . Click here for more.

Six Principles for Leading During Uncertain Times: Even the best executives can feel like they're daring the impossible these days. Here are effective leadership techniques to consider. Click here for more.

One-Third of Surveyed Students Have Met Internet Chat Pals (NZ Herald): More than 20 per cent of New Zealand children aged between 7 and 10 have met a stranger they encountered on the internet, a study revealed today. The study by the Internet Safety Group interviewed more than 2500 school students about their use of the internet, making it the largest study on the topic in New Zealand and one of the largest internationally. Click here for more.

If Office XP's So Great, How Come Microsoft Uses Word 97?: A white paper that describes security enhancements in Office XP was created by Microsoft on a word processor that is two generations old, a security expert said.  Click here for more.

Microsoft Offers Fix for Six IE Vulnerabilities : Microsoft released a patch to correct six new security vulnerabilities in its Internet Explorer browser, including one that could let a hacker run any program on a victim's computer. The patch, released Monday, covers three critical and three moderate vulnerabilities in the free Internet software. The vulnerabilities affect the three latest versions of Internet Explorer, including the version found in Windows XP.  Click here for more. The Microsoft Security Bulletin, with links to the "cumulative patch" can be found here.

NZ Software Spy Line Nabs Internet Porn Traders: Computer software that tracks web surfers who enter certain internet chat channels is helping to catch traders in child pornography. The software is used only in New Zealand but has helped to bust international porn pedlars .  Click here for more.


Debian Gnu/Linux - A User's Perspective

by John Anderson

Thanks, John, for your article. John Anderson works on the Actrix help desk, and is continuing his series on Linux. -Ed.

It's been two months since I purchased my Pentium 233 on which to run Debian GNU/Linux, and it has been quite a learning curve. However now I can say I'm getting a handle on how things fit together. In this article I will go through the experience of getting a running system that's as usable as my Windows setup. It's been fun getting to know a new system and also moving towards being able to solve problems for myself, something I've often not being able to do with various Microsoft difficulties over the years.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact me at janderson@actrix.co.nz.

Installation
Installation is relatively painless. I purchased the Debian GNU/Linux Bible by Steve Hunger which came with a CD-ROM. I could also have just made my own floppy disks by downloading them from the web. Anyway, the process for me was bug free. The menu system helpfully explains each step, from partitioning the hard drive to installing the modules or drivers for the hardware, to setting up an Internet connection. My CD-ROM, Modem, Network Card and Graphics Card were all recognised. After about an hour of tinkering I had a functional setup. I must admit I played around quite a bit more than that. I recommend doing a very basic installation and then adding to it progressively through the use of packages.

Package Management
Post-Installation there are still a host of applications that can be added. Debian makes this so much easier with packages. There are literally 1000s available. If you want to add a GUI or graphical user interface (pretty stuff), then just use dselect to install X Windows. The package system will warn you when you're about to remove something important and will also install additional packages needed by the program you are installing. The simplicity of installing packages is one of the great benefits of Debian.

Window Maker

GUI
This can be take a while to configure, although I'm told it's getting easier. I've found the program XF86Setup works for me every time. If you like variety then GNU\Linux is for you. There are many different Windows Managers that you can use, each with their own unique feel, I really found that Window Maker offered all I really needed. I haven't spent too much time looking at the full desktop suites available like GNOME and KDE. Although a recent install on another machine of KDE had me drooling, I'll be looking into this for the next article.

Mail and the Web
Here was where the acid test took place. I first tried Balsa, because it was light and it was part of the base install. Unfortunately it proved to be true to its name and was not at all sturdy. So, with reluctance I tried Netscape 4.77 and this did the trick. The e-mail system works well and allows all the funcitionality I had from Eudora. Browsing was slow on Mozilla, although I have yet to try Galeon or Konqueror which strip out a lot of the excesses of Mozilla. However browsing with Netscape proved to be nippy, even on my humble 33.3 K modem. I've also noticed that I stay connected longer with GNU/Linux, I've upgraded my distribution in about 4 hours and not been disconnected during that time. Overall a success and there are a wide range of other mail clients and browsers I can experiment with.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)

Graphics
The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is impressive. I've used Paint Shop Pro before and played around with a few other graphics programs. The GIMP is clean and functional and allows for varying levels of complexity. Touching up some of the wedding photos from the weekend proved to be a doddle, but you can see under the hood that there is a lot of potential for more complex operations. The only loss is the humble GIF file, which is patented and so unavailable unless you purchase a license from UniSys.

Networking
I set up a small LAN at home with the aid of someone more experienced. I admit I would have probably been lost without their help. They helped me configure my two machines so that they could talk across the network. We then set up a system so that both machines could share the Internet. We had to modify some text files to get it running, but within an hour, including time for reading documentation, we were ready to go. You can also quite easily configure a Firewall using a system called IP Chains. Firewalls help secure the system from external attack. I've tried setting up Internet Sharing between two Windows machines before and it failed dismally.

Wrapping it up
So, is the system as usable as my Windows one? Well, I still have to get sound working, currently one of the weaker areas with Linux. However I've managed to transfer the majority of my use to Debian, and the joy of it is, I know how to fix problems and can always learn more from the huge amount of knowledge available on the web. I've had some difficulties, but with a few investigative techniques I've managed to isolate the problems and fix them (sometimes with a little help from my friends). So, you ask, is there anyone to help me? Well, in fact there is. Here are a couple of Linux User Groups. Please let me know if you find any others.

Dunedin - http://dunedin.lug.net.nz/
Wellington - http://wlug.paradise.net.nz/
Hamilton - www.hamlug.org/

Next month, I'll look at Office Applications and Desktops for Linux.

John Anderson


Bringing It All Back Home

Thanks for stopping by and visiting the Actrix Newsletter. Once again I hope there was something of benefit for you here.

Please be aware that I will be on vacation until 20 March.

Comments and suggestions for the newsletter are welcome at any time. Simply e-mail me on editor@actrix.co.nz. However, if you are having internet-related computer problems, please e-mail the help desk (support@actrix.co.nz) or call them on 0800-228749. That's what they're there for, and that's where their particular skills lie. Some of you may have already noticed that I am handing many such requests on to them already. It is nice to hear from you and I like to help, but some days I get so many, that I simply can't answer them all.

All the best for March, and I'll catch you next month.

Rob Zorn
editor@actrix.co.nz
http://editor.actrix.co.nz