Actrix Newsletter August 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
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


How Can I Change my Actrix Password?

Last month we featured an article on password safety. We looked at how easy passwords are to crack (if someone is determined enough) and we learned about how everyone is a target for password cracking no matter how insignificant they think you are, or how little they use the net. You can access that article here. This month I thought it would be a good idea to write a short article on how you can go about changing your Actrix password, and that also covers whatever else you might need to think about when making such a change.

The Member's Section of Actrix Web Site: This is the best way for you to change your password. It's easy, and it only involves you, so it's the way that has the most security attached to it. You can make the change when there is no one else around and no one else needs to know anything about what you're doing. With passwords, security is what it's all about, so this is certainly the method I'd recommend.

To change your password using the Actrix Member's Section:

  1. Point your browser to and put your user name and current password into the Member's Account Log in fields. (Obviously you're going to need to know your current password to use this method.)
  2. Once you're into the Member's Section, click the Change Password link over on the left hand side.
  3. Enter your current and new passwords into the required fields (remember to mix capitals, lower-case, letters and numbers).
  4. Click the Change Password button.

It's pretty much that easy.

What If I Have Forgotten My Current Password?

If you aren't sure what your current password is, then you aren't going to be able to use the Member's Only section of the Actrix web site. What's worse is that in order for you to use the Internet, your password must be saved in your dialup settings which means that anyone with access to your computer can log onto the net as you.

If this is the case, you need to call the Actrix help desk (0800-228749) and ask them to re-set your password. They have a procedure they will use to make sure you are who you say you are, and that you have the authority to change the password for the account. If you call for this reason, please have a nice new cryptic password ready for yourself or be prepared to ask the help desk technician to generate one for you randomly.

What's a Good Way of Coming Up with a Cryptic Yet Memorable Password?

I touched on this last time. One good way is to use the Mnemonic method; ie, to think of a phrase that means something to you, and only to you and then to use it's first letters to form a password. For example, if you were a Mork and Mindy fan (and this was so long ago that your kids wouldn't have a clue) you could take the phrase "Mork from Ork was played by Robin Williams," and make the password Mf0wpbRW. This method leaves you with a pretty random looking password, but it is still reasonably easy to remember. In this example, I changed the letter "o" to a zero, and capitalised the proper nouns (names). Remember that your password should be between 6-8 characters. It should contain a mixture of letters and numbers, and a mix of upper case and lower case letters.

If I Change My Password, What Else Should I Be Aware Of?

You need to keep in mind that changing your password affects two things: Your dialup access to the Internet and access to your e-mail mailbox. Changing your password automatically affects both of these, so you will need to update your settings in both areas.

Updating your password settings in Dialup Networking is reasonably easy, though it seems that every time Microsoft releases a new version of Windows, the Dialup Networking settings are hidden in a different place. For Windows 98 you would double-click My Computer to get to the Dialup Networking folder. Under Windows ME you can find it by clicking the Start button, then Settings. Under Windows XP you can most easily find Dialup Networking by clicking Start, then Settings, then Network Connections.

Actrix has a reasonably detailed Help menu available for customers directly from our web site. Customers a little unsure of how to handle changing their password settings are encouraged to have a go themselves (see picture). As stated, the help desk are always there to help you out of a pickle. If you're really not confident, give them a call and they'll talk you through the change over the phone. Their number is 0800-228749.

To update your password settings in Outlook Express:

  1. Click Tools and then Accounts
  2. Make sure the Mail Tab is clicked in the Internet Accounts box (there are four tabs: All, Mail, News and Directory Service).
  3. Click once on your account to select it, and then click Properties on the right-hand side.
  4. Click the second tab (Servers) and change your password.
  5. Click Apply, and then Okay and then Close.

If you're not confident doing this or if something goes terribly wrong, give the help desk a call. The settings in e-mail programs are their bread and butter. They could talk you through them in their sleep. If you use an e-mail program other than Outlook Express, don't worry, the help desk will most likely be familiar with it.

How Soon Do Password Changes take Effect?

If you are changing your password, you need to be aware that the Dialup Networking change is immediate, but the change to your mailbox password could take two or three hours to come into effect. This is because (in very simple terms) too much is constantly changing on the server that looks after mail settings, so it can't update itself on the fly. Instead, it stores all changes requested of it, and then it rolls over every three hours and implements all the changes in the queue.

What this means is that if you change your password and disconnect from the Internet, you will need to make sure that you have changed your Dialup Networking passwords settings or you will not be able to re-connect to the Internet. However, you may need to keep you old e-mail password settings for a few hours, changing them as soon as you notice that the old ones cease to work. The easiest way of dealing with this problem of time difference is to go about changing your password as the last thing you do before shutting down for the night. By next morning, all your password changes should have taken effect and you can begin using them.

Did you know that the Internet is growing so fast that If you tried to read every document on it, then for each day's effort you would be a year further behind in your goal?


The Actrix Links Page

Customers, especially those new to the Internet, occasionally write or call asking whether there's a good resource or collection of interesting and useful places to start exploring online. I'm always happy to point them to the Actrix Links page. This page has been set up as a exactly such a resource. It contains over 350 links to interesting or useful places on the Internet and would serve as a great launching place for you or your family if you wanted to get better familiar with what the World Wide Web has to offer. All the links are arranged in categories such as Buy and Sell, Political, General Interest, Culture, Travel, Knowledge, Tools, Downloads etc. You should be able to find something there that interests you. If not I'm always keen to hear of the types of sites or categories you might want added.

You can check out the Actrix Links page by pointing your browser to


Before Computers...

An application was for employment,
A program was a TV show,
A cursor used profanity,
A keyboard was a piano!

Memory was something that you lost with age,
A CD was a bank account,
And a floppy disk was something
Terribly wrong in your back.

Compress was something you did to garbage,
Not something you did to a file.
And if you unzipped anything in public,
You'd be in jail for awhile!

Log on was adding wood to a fire,
Hard drive was a long trip on the road.
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived,
And a backup happened to your commode!

Cut - you did with a pocket knife,
Paste you did with glue.
A web was a spider's home,
And a virus was the flu!

I guess I'll stick to my pad and paper,
And the memory in my head.
I hear nobody's been killed in a computer crash,
But when it happens, they wish they were dead!

Hoax: Life is Beautiful

Symantec Security Response encourages you to ignore any messages regarding this hoax. It is harmless and is intended only to cause unwarranted concern.

This hoax was first circulated in Portuguese. English, French, Italian and German versions have also been recorded.

The English version reads as follows:


This information arrived this morning, from Microsoft and Norton. Please send it to everybody you know who accesses the Internet.

You may receive an apparently harmless e-mail with a PowerPoint presentation called "Life is beautiful.pps." If you receive it DO NOT OPEN THE FILE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, and delete it immediately.

If you open this file, a message will appear on your screen saying: "It is too late now, your life is no longer beautiful", subsequently you will LOSE EVERYTHING IN YOUR PC and the person who sent it to you will gain access to your name, e-mail and password.

This is a new virus which started to circulate on Saturday afternoon. WE NEED TO DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO STOP THIS VIRUS. UOL has already confirmed its dangerousness, and the antivirus Softs are not capable of destroying it. The virus has been created by a hacker who calls himself "life owner", and who aims to destroying domestic PCs and who also fights Microsoft in court! That's why it comes disguised with extension pps. He fights in court for the Windows-XP patent.


Obviously this warning is a hoax. By getting you to send the bogus warning on to others, the originator of the hoax gets you to behave just like a virus sending itself on to others. Here are two good sites you can use to check on the authenticity of virus warnings.



Installation of Debian GNU/Linux Step by Step

by John Anderson

John has been hampered a little this month by ill health. We apologise for not being able to bring you this month's Linux installation article. Please tune in next month instead.

More Emoticons

Last month we featured a handful of amusing emoticons and, judging by feedback so far, these were pretty well received. So, we've found a few more for you.
:-) Smile ;-) Smile with a wink
:<}) User with moustache, smiling :-|| Mad
:-( Sad :' -( Crying
:-)) Really happy :-D Big grin
:-* A kiss :-P~ A lick
:-o Wow! or I'm surprised :-P Sticking out your tongue
:-/ Perplexed =:O Frightened (hair standing on end)
=8O Bug-eyed with fright :-} Embarrassed smile
:-)<>>>>> Basic smiley with a necktie ;-^) Tongue in cheek
%*@:-( Hung over >:) Perplexed look
.) Keeping an eye out for you 8:-) Glasses on forehead
8:[ Normal smiling face of a gorilla 0:-) Angel
]:-|[ Robot :-] Vampire
(:V) Duck 3:-o Cow
(_8-(|) Homer Simpson C|:-= Charlie Chaplin
=|:-)= Abe Lincoln *<:-) Santa Claus
-:-) User sports a mohawk (:)-) Scuba diver
:-'| User has a cold :-{} User with heavy lipstick
:-)8 User is well dressed >:-< Mad
*#:-) Scotsman wearing his tam %-^ User is another Picasso
oooo(0) (0)oooo Toes (-_-) Secret smile
{:-) User wears a toupee }:-( Toupee in an updraft
:-7 User just made a wry statement :-* User just ate something sour
<|-) User is Chinese <|-( User is Chinese and doesn't like these kinds of jokes
C=:-) User is a chef @:-) User is wearing a turban


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!

Take Off Pounds - For some, pies and cakes are an occasional guilty pleasure. For others, a meal isn't finished until the dessert tray comes out. If you've indulged and you'd like to neutralise the calories before they end up around your waistline, try the WebMD Dessert Wizard, one of several Health E-Tools at the site. Enter what you had for dessert, how much, and what form of exercise you'll use to work off those calories (running, walking, etc.) ... hit calculate and you'll find out how long you have to exercise to counteract the effects of, say, a giant slice of lemon meringue pie. The results aren't generally going to make you happy - unless you have heaps of spare time to exercise!
Airshow Action Photo Gallery - This site should keep aviation enthusiasts happy and distracted for hours. It features over 2000 aerial action photographs of aeroplanes from various eras, and sorted into all sorts of categories. Most or all were taken by Peter Steehouwer. Thanks very much to Philip Sutton for sending in this site suggestion.
World Wide Words - Thanks to Rosalind McKenzie for sending in this fascinating site suggestion. In fact it was hard to tear myself away and get back to work. Anyone fascinated by language and the development of words and phrases will find this interesting. Here you can find out the origin of words and phrases such as dogsbody, chunder, dwile flonking, girl's blouse and blackmail. There are endless sections, essays and categories, and you can even subscribe to the interesting weekly newsletter for free.
Computer Terms Explained - Pretty much just as the title reads. There are lots of terms gathered here under various categories. Scroll down a bit to the FAST REFERENCE section for the best collection/selection. Even if you're not into technical terms, the things like the cheat sheets and tech quotes sections are valuable and/or amusing.
MetaSpy - Ever wonder what the rest of the world is searching for? Not quite as much sex and Britney as we've been led to believe... At this site you can catch a glimpse of some of the Internet searches being performed on MetaCrawler at this very moment! The page automatically refreshes every 15 seconds. MetaSpy exposed is the unfiltered version, also available at the site.
Play with Your Name Online
Here are three sites at which you can do interesting things with your name: - Your name in hieroglyphics! - Your name in Braille! - Your name in Chinese!
Online Word Search Puzzles - For over 50 years, the Herr family has been making fresh, delicious snacks. Today, they serve ten states throughout Northeastern U.S.A. But that's pretty irrelevant and uninteresting for us Kiwis. What might be more interesting is their online Word find puzzles. Okay, you have to find words that only have to do with the Herr product range (like "cheesecurls" and "hearthstyle") but true Wordfind lovers shouldn't complain.
Popular Baby Names - What's in a name? Quite a bit, judging by the creativity (or lack thereof) displayed by American parents. This site isn't the cutest site on the block, but you'll find it's a great way to waste some time. Type in any name and see where it ranks. You can discover the top 1000 names for any decade this century and you can find a year-by-year breakdown of baby names from 1996 to 2001. So what was the most popular moniker in 2001? It wasn't Destiny, Princess, or even Unique, though they all cracked the top 1000.
Please Do Touch the Exhibits - The Exploratorium is a fascinating collection of online interactive exhibits that you can control with your mouse while you test things like your depth perception, ability to distinguish pitch and so forth. The activities are designed to enhance your understanding of how your mind and senses work. There are various categories such as Seeing, Hearing, Mind, Life Science etc. Fascinating stuff.
ExRx.Net - ExRx (Exercise Prescription) on the net is a resource for the exercise professional, coach, or fitness enthusiast. consists of over 1000 pages, most of which are conveniently indexed in the Exercise and Muscle Directory link on the opening page. This site is actually pretty impressive, not just because it's free. It's just so easy to use and to navigate through. I was impressed by the beginner's guide, and generally by the way in which information flows from the simple to the more complex.
25 Most Interesting WebCams - "EarthCam, the leading webcam portal site and aggregator of more than 5,000 webcams from around the world has released its first list of the world's most interesting webcams selected by a prestigious panel of industry experts. The top 25 webcams selected include unique, interesting sites that most people would never have the chance to see in person, including Big Ben live, an insider's view of the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow, a "quickie" wedding at the renowned A Little White Chapel in Las Vegas, breathtaking views from a safari setting in South Africa and under the sea in Waikiki." Personally, I really enjoyed the collections of apparent ghost cam-captures at Willard Library.
GSM Arena - With the incredible selection of units and plans on offer out there, surely, one of the most confusing activities facing people today is the selection of a suitable cell phone. At GSM Arena all the major brands and models are described in detail with handy comparison charts provided. Simply select the brand name from the menu on the left and take it from there!

Cyberspace News Snippets

New Zealand

Government pleased with GenXP : Education Minister Trevor Mallard is trumpeting the success of the government's digital opportunities project GenerationXP. Since the GenerationXP project began last year, students in eight schools across West Auckland and Gisborne have gained new IT skills with six students from Gisborne's Lytton High School achieved Microsoft MOUS Master certification after passing all five application exams in the programme. Click here for more.

Brandcops to Police Web: Auckland's Brandcops is out to police brand-security and integrity on the Internet as more people flock online. The company says it will alert brand-owners to online misuse and brand-damaging activity. Click here for more.

Phone that Talks and Stalks: You've been PXT it didn't hurt a bit), said the e-mail subject line. More spam, I thought. But imagine my shock to find I had been sent a photo of myself walking down the street earlier in the day. I don't like having my photo taken at the best of times - and this PR stunt to show off the features of a new mobile phone with plug-on camera got right up my nose... Click here for more.

Tracking System for Web site Visitors will be Unique to NZ: New Zealand Internet users are to be guinea pigs for a new tracking system. Internet measurement firm RedSheriff, which previously had a low profile in New Zealand, was endorsed this week by an online media industry group* as the preferred supplier of Internet tracking. Click here for more.


New Browsers Take On Internet Explorer: While Microsoft still dominates the Web browser market, its market share has slipped slightly over the past few weeks, following the launch of two new browsers. Internet Explorer 6.0 is the most popular browser on the Web with a market share of 46.4 percent, a rise of 1.7 percent since April. Click here for more.

Cyber-Attacks by Al Qaeda Feared: Late last fall, Detective Chris Hsiung of the Mountain View, Calif., police department began investigating a suspicious pattern of surveillance against Silicon Valley computers. From the Middle East and South Asia, unknown browsers were exploring the digital systems used to manage Bay Area utilities and government offices. Click here for more.

Computers Come of Age: It has been a long journey from the early days of computing and as the billionth PC is shipped, the industry reflects on how things have changed and what the future holds for home computing. Twenty-five years ago computers were big and capable only of very simple word processing and basic spreadsheets. Click here for more.

Music Labels Giving In To Net: Increasingly desperate to woo customers away from an Internet music piracy party that shows no signs of abating, several major record labels have resolved to make more music legally available for less money online - even if it means sacrificing lucrative CD sales. Click here for more.

Why Your PC is No Better than a $15 Wristwatch: Working behind the scenes, a small government agency headquartered outside of Denver operates a network of 14 servers capable of changing the operating systems on your PC--and millions of others--in less than a second. These servers interact with susceptible computers some 550 million times a day. Yet most people don't know they exist, the special protocols that control them, or even the nature of their mission. Click here for more.

The Record Labels' New Target - Joe Blow?: Record labels hell-bent on strangling unauthorized music copying on the Internet are considering widening their legal efforts to include lawsuits against individuals, according to industry sources. The move comes as the industry wrestles to contain the effects of peer-to-peer software applications that allow consumers to link their PCs into massive cooperatives where millions of music titles can be found and copied for free. Click here for more.

Music Labels Plant Online Decoys, Mull Lawsuits: The music industry is adding more firepower to its arsenal in the fight against online piracy, planting 'decoys' on free peer-to-peer services and considering lawsuits against individual song-swappers, sources said Wednesday. Many large record labels have resorted to what is known as 'spoofing,' by hiring companies to distribute 'decoy' files that are empty or do not work in order to frustrate would-be downloaders of movies and music. Click here for more.

EBay to buy PayPal for $1.5B in Stock: Internet auction giant eBay said Monday it is buying online payment facilitator PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock in a long-rumored deal that would mark the end of eBay's rival, in-house electronic payment program. Separately, eBay released second-quarter earnings early, posting results that beat Wall Street expectations. EBay's net profit more than doubled to $54.3 million, or 19 cents per share, on revenue of $266 million, in the quarter ended June 30. Click here for more.

Internet Father Warns of its Problems: And with it comes responsibilities for everyone -- people who use the Internet, technicians who build it, businesses that make money off it and governments that try to control it. Cerf, an early developer of the Net, believes too many people remain unconnected even though the number of Internet-ready devices may soon outnumber people. Click here for more.

Microsoft's New Frontier: Your Home: In an executive convention center deep in Microsoft's Redmond campus, a set of rooms has been remodeled to demonstrate the company's home of the future. An iris scan unlocks the door, and the house greets you with a female computer voice as the shades are raised and the lights automatically adjusted to suit your preferences. Click here for more.

A New Code for Anonymous Web Use: Peer-to-peer networks such as Morpheus and Audiogalaxy have enabled millions to trade music, movies and software freely. A group of veteran hackers is about to unveil a new peer-to-peer protocol that may eventually let millions more surf, chat and e-mail free from prying eyes. Click here for more.

Spam Attacks Growing: Three one-hundredths of a penny -- that's the per-message cost for sending out spam e-mail. To put it a more realistic way, you can hit 25 million mailboxes for a mere $7,999. At least that was the price, a spammer based in Niagara Falls, N.Y., used to charge for its Grand Slam Package. Click here for more.

Don’t Type That: Yahoo Edits E-mail: What does Yahoo Mail have against mocha? That’s what users of the company’s free e-mail service may be wondering if they try to send a message using the word “mocha” and discover that while in transit, “mocha” mysteriously changes to “espresso.” To protect users from malicious code, Yahoo uses an automated filter to swap out a handful of words such as “mocha” that pertain to Web code known as JavaScript. Click here for more.

Sites May Pay Search Engines for Placement: Do you want to let the search engine do the shopping? Many Americans use the Internet for the same reasons they turn to the Yellow Pages - to learn about a product or to make a purchase. But what many online shoppers don't realize is this: When search results pop up on screen, the Web sites listed first may not be the ones most relevant to their queries. Rather, the top positions often go to sites willing to pay search engines top dollar for prominent placement. Click here for more.

Windows Wire

Microsoft Starts Meter Running: To get regular upgrades, businesses will pay by the year: Having the latest Microsoft software on the computers at Charter Bank was never a huge priority for Tom Robertson, chief information officer at the Bellevue-based lender. The computers were upgraded only as needed, and some still run on the 7-year-old Windows 95 operating system. Click here for more.

Microsoft Reveals Media XP Details: Microsoft on Tuesday gave an official name to an upcoming version of Windows XP that aims to make the PC a permanent part of the home entertainment center. Originally code-named Freestyle, this entertainment version of Windows--which will go by the name Windows XP Media Center Edition--will appear on new PCs and PC hybrids in time for the holidays, the company revealed on Tuesday. With Windows Media Center, consumers will be able to use a TV remote control to catalogue songs, videos and pictures, as well as check TV listings. Click here for more.


How OS X Could Rescue the PC Biz: If 19th century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche were alive today, would he declare the PC dead -- as he did God in the late 1800s? He'd certainly have a good case. For the most part, developers have been cranking out me-too software in the past several years. No wonder PC sales have collapsed. The machine Bill Gates and his fellow techies once declared would save us all has become a bore. Click here for more.

Bushels of New iMacs Piling Up: Apple Computer, which initially could not meet demand for its new flat-panel iMac, now appears to have the opposite problem. Retailers and distributors who had to wait weeks after the product's January introduction to get their hands on the desk lamp-shaped desktops now find the machines piling up as the consumer PC market slows to a crawl. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Book by Famous Hacker Describes Tricks of the Trade: Barred by the terms of his probation from messing with computers, ex-convict hacker Kevin Mitnick has turned to writing about them, baring the tricks of his former trade in a forthcoming book. An advance copy of the book, "The Art of Deception," describes more than a dozen scenarios where tricksters dupe computer network administrators into divulging passwords, encryption keys and other coveted security details. Click here for more.

Microsoft Unwraps New Initiative, Code Names: Microsoft over the past week has quietly unveiled details about a key new security initiative code-named Palladium, giving the first glimpse into its plan to deliver on its promise of "Trustworthy Computing." Named after a protective statue of the Greek goddess of wisdom, "Palladium" is being used to describe a broad-based security system for the Windows operating system that will involve both hardware and software. Click here for more.

E-mail Encryption Software Vulnerable to Hackers: The world's most popular software for scrambling sensitive e-mails suffers from a programming flaw that could allow hackers to attack a user's computer and, in some circumstances, unscramble messages. The software, called Pretty Good Privacy, or PGP, is the de facto standard for encrypting e-mails and is widely used by corporate and government offices, including some FBI agents and U.S. intelligence agencies. Click here for more.

Hacker Mailing List Goes Corporate: The most influential e-mail list among computer hackers is going corporate. BugTraq, the place where most of the world’s most influential computer hazards are made public, was purchased Wednesday by Symantec Corp. for $75 million cash. Click here for more.

The Penguin Roars

The Cult Of Linux: According to Linux legend, a revered teacher and researcher told Linus Torvalds that he "would not get a high grade" for his creation. Thankfully for millions of devoted users and thousands of blue-chip customers, Torvalds went ahead with his development of the Linux operating system. Click here for more.

The Weird Weird Web

The Dark Side of eBay: To say that eBay has a devoted following is like saying the Beatles were liked by some teenage girls. While true, the statement does not reflect the full scope of fans' zeal. Analysts love the company, competitors fear its power, and users flock in ever-greater numbers to its homespun marketplace. Click here for more.

Most Internet Sackings Linked to Visiting Porn Sites: Three-quarters of staff dismissed for inappropriate Internet use were downloading porn in the workplace, according to a survey published yesterday. Nearly 75% of companies have taken disciplinary action against staff for Internet misuse, with a quarter having dismissed workers. Of those, 69% were fired for pornographic web sites. Click here for more.

Wrong Phone Number Costs Gateway: PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) . Computer giant Gateway Inc. has been hit with a $3.6 million jury verdict for a wrong number that flooded another company's toll-free telephone line with calls from thousands of angry Gateway customers. Click here for more.

Bringing It All Back Home

Thanks again for reading the Actrix newsletter. Did you enjoy it? Were there things about it you didn't like? If so, I'd love to hear from you. You can drop me a line via the e-mail address listed below.

Please be aware that I have a pretty steady workload these days. In my spare time I'm also the Actrix Operations Manager, so I can't always respond very quickly with advice on problems. You'd do better to e-mail the help desk on If you have Accounts-based queries, I'm not at all the person to ask them about. Try

Take care through August,

Rob Zorn