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Top 10 Viruses
This newsletter has been produced to help you
get the most out of the Internet,
Welcome to what is technically the last newsletter for the year (only technically, because I hope to get January's out before Christmas). I hope you've had a good year and that your plans for the wind-down into Christmas (or wind-up, more likely) are going well.
A little while ago we solicited input from Actrix customers about our web site. We had plans to re-vamp it that didn't completely eventuate. A lot of work has been done by our web development team in producing a new back-end to the site that should improve its usefulness and usability manyfold, but plans for a new look and feel got delayed a little.
We're pleased to announce they're back on the agenda, though, and our marketing team is keen to hear from any customers who have suggestions or comments about the site or about our logo (which we're also looking to upgrade). If you have any thoughts, please put cyber-pen to cyber-paper and e-mail email@example.com. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
This month, and over the coming months, I thought I'd do a series of short reviews on what's available to New Zealanders who want to download music legally from the Internet. It's easy enough to get copyrighted music via peer-to-peer sources (P2P), but in most cases this is illegal and deprives the artist of any income as a result of their work. P2P connections have also often been associated with viruses and spy-ware.
What better place to start than with Amplifier?
Amplifier (www.amplifier.co.nz) has been around since 1999 making it one of the oldest download services running anywhere in the world. It currently has 75,000 subscribers (almost half of which log in from overseas), and grows by around 2000 members a month.
Amplifier unashamedly restricts itself to New Zealand performers and music. You wont find any overseas performer there, no matter how popular they are. They offer over 7000 tracks for download, as well as more than 1200 CDs that can also be purchased for delivery over the site. Altogether over 1300 New Zealand performers are represented.
All Amplifier staff are active in the NZ music industry as performers, producers, managers and DJs. Together they see their role as supporting and promoting New Zealand music as well as running a business.
Anyone at all with recorded music can set their own page up on Amplifier and get assistance selling their music and promoting themselves, so there's a wide variety of music there.
Songs generally cost $1.99 each, and are downloaded in 256Kbps mp3 format. This means they are easily played in any player, including your iPod. This is a significant advantage over other online music providers such as Coketunes or Digirama which provide the downloads in WMA format. Most software players will handle WMA okay, but your iPod certainly won't.
Whole CDs can be downloaded from Amplifier and some can also be physically ordered online. They are delivered within a few days, provided they are in stock. CD prices seem a little lower than in retail stores, but a $4.00 postal charge needs to be factored in.
Their catalogue is extensive, however, and its a lot easier to peruse and listen to audio samples online that it is in a retail music shop. Its a great place to find the latest NZ music as well as stuff by those great bands you used to listen to back in your university days in the 80s whose albums arent so easy to find in the retail stores.
The site is intuitive to use. Browse by artist, title or genre, listen to streamed samples (lo-fi) and if you like the song or album, simply click to add it to your shopping cart. When youre ready you can click on purchase and then either download the songs, or use the form to send in an order for a CD delivery.
I particularly liked the chart stream feature. This is found to the left of the home page. Click this to begin playing through the list of popular downloads while you get on with other things on your computer. If you hear something you particularly like, you can search for and stream more stuff by that artist.
Other enhancements to free membership include: free video-streaming and weekly newsletters, weekly competitions, and NZ music news.
Coming up, Coketunes, Digirama, and maybe even iTunes if they get their act together in New Zealand in time.
A couple of customers have asked recently about an e-mail they've received from Gemma Brown who purportedly got their e-mail address from a chain letter or out of the CC field of an e-mail she came across. "Gemma" claims to be doing some serious research into chain e-mails and asks that if you have any more, that they be sent to her at the e-mail address she specifies.
On the surface this seems a little plausible, and people who have sent stuff to the address did not get mysteriously infected with a virus, or have their identity stolen. E-mails sent to her didn't bounce, so they must have gone somewhere.
But does Gemma exist, and is she really doing this research project? If it is a hoax, then what is the point of it all?
We can be fairly certain that it is a hoax. There is absolutely nothing on the web anywhere about such a research project, and the domain associated with her e-mail address (www.research-project.org) has had an "under construction" image on it for quite some time. Also, the domain was registered by someone using an e-mail address from Who-Remembers-Me.com, a site that has been the subject of a large number of spamming complaints.
There could be a couple of motivations behind such a hoax. People who start hoax virus rumours simply derive a thrill out of getting so many people to do something (e.g. forward the hoax mail to all their friends). For them, it satisfies some infantile need to fool lots and lots of people, and this could be something similar.
A second reason for the hoax (and it's the e-mail address of the domain registerer that suggests this most plainly) would be the harvesting of e-mail addresses for spamming purposes. Obviously they already have your e-mail address, but the CC fields of those chain e-mails that get churned tirelessly around the Internet are a rich source of real e-mail addresses for spammers. "Gemma" says she wants a million e-mails. If "she" got 5 unique e-mail addresses per e-mail "she'd" be doing pretty well.
Our advice, then, is not to forward all your chain e-mails on. In fact, if you're forwarding e-mails on to a large number of people, put their addresses in the BCC field. That way they can't be so easily harvested.
Oh, and Gemma, if you read this and I've done you a disservice, please drop me a line and let me know.
If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send me an e-mail with the word "Forum" in the subject line. I'll try and get an answer to you by return e-mail, and will also post the answer here for the benefit of others who may have a similar question or problem. By the same token, if you read something here and think you may have something to suggest, please feel more than free. Please also note that questions and answers may also turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).
Pat writes: I believe Actrix provides members with a free 'home page' but I can't figure out how to get one set up. Does the web site have instructions for setting up this home page - preferably simple instructions for people like me who are not very savvy with a computer? And can these home pages be linked to search engines like Google and Yahoo?
Hi Pat, The user home pages are really just space for you to put a web site. There's not a whole lot there we could add to help you with that unless we were to explain how to do HTML etc. Were we to do that, we'd just be doubling up unnecessarily on what's out there on the web in abundance.
If you wanted to get a web site up, I'd suggest you do a Google search on HTML tutorials etc, and get a feel for creating a web site. It isn't too difficult. Here is a good one: www.w3schools.com/html/. You don't need any special tools or programs, though you may need something to edit your images a little. Simple HTML can be created using Notepad, which comes standard with Windows. Your web site's address would be as follows: http://users.actrix.co.nz/yourusername.
Your free personal web space is an ideal place to test your skills and experiment, mainly because it is free and no one will take much notice of it until you publicise it. Once you have some knowledge of how to create a web site, using the upload facility will be pretty straightforward, but you'd be in a better position to ask more specific questions which we'd be happy to help you with.
Yes, you can submit your personal home site to Google and Yahoo, and they would be included in search engine results if you did so.
Those wanting to upload a site to their personal web space should log into My Actrix on the Actrix homepage, and choose User Homepage.
Carol writes: Hi there Can you please tell me how I can check and send emails on someone else's computer, or at an Internet cafe? Thanks.
Hi Carol, Actrix provides each customer with online access to their e-mail. When you're
at someone else's computer or in a cyber cafe, all you need to do is go to our homepage
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that this is separate from the e-mail that has already been downloaded to your home computer. Only new e-mails will appear in your inbox (new since the time you last downloaded e-mail) and you won't be able to see any items you sent from home, or that you have stored in mail folders on your home computer.
Bert writes: Hello Rob Can you explain why when I was downloading a program from the Internet and my connection speed was 52.0KBPS it was only downloading at 5.67 kb/sec.? A message that came up informed me that downloading time would depend on connection speed, but there seems to be a big difference between the two speeds. Regards, Bert.
Pete Cranston from the Actrix Help Desk responds: Hi Bert, The difference here is in the jargon. When your computer connects to the Internet the connection speed is reported in Kbps or Kilo bits per second, while download speeds reported by most software are in the format KBps or Kilo Bytes per second. A "bit" is generally thought of as the smallest unit of data whereas a "Byte" is eight bits stuck together. It's an annoying distinction that the general public probably could have done without, but since the two are used quite often it's a good piece of jargon to understand.
So in order to calculate the maximum possible speed for your connection you need to divide the connection speed by eight: i.e. 52Kbps (Kilo-bits per second) = 6.5KBps (Kilo Bytes per second) .
This means the maximum burst or peak speed for your connection in this example is 6.5KBps (Kilo Bytes per second), the average speed will be slightly lower.
For the record, 52.0Kbps / 5.67KBps is above average for a dial up connection.
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? Click here to e-mail and let me know and receive a free Norrie the Nerd chocolate bar courtesy of Actrix!
E-commerce about to go ape: In the wilderness that is e-commerce in New Zealand, TradeMe is the 900lb gorilla suddenly facing challenges from all sides. Click here for more.
Site to attract expat Kiwis home launched: New Zealand Now was designed to provide expat Kiwis with information and resources to clearly demonstrate why returning home is such a good proposition. Click here for more.
Back to basics for net users: The Internet Safety Group has launched a six- month campaign to educate New Zealanders on online security and how to protect their computers from information theft. Click here for more.
AA gets smart with online travel maps: Finding the toilets, somewhere to eat or automatic teller machines anywhere in New Zealand will be a lot easier from today. Click here for more.
Shoplifters fingered on web site: A Palmerston North supermarket is putting names and faces to shoplifters on a website for other shopkeepers. Click here for more.
Inflight internet a step closer: Passengers flying to and from New Zealand could soon be able to check their e-mail and surf the Net using their in-seat TVs, thanks to a satellite that is due to be launched this week... Click here for more.
Workers spend 551,000 years reading blogs: About 35 million workers - one in four of the labour force in the United States - spend 3 1/2 hours, or 9 per cent, of their working week on blogs, the survey found. Click here for more.
Jail for eBay phishing fraudster: Using these stolen eBay credentials the gang would then access the accounts of vendors with a reliable, recommended sales history and assume their eBay identity. Click here for more.
Wikipedia may go to print: Entries from Wikipedia, the popular free online encyclopedia written and edited by Internet users, may soon be available in print for readers in the developing world, founder Jimmy Wales said on Monday. Click here for more.
US youths use internet to create: A large swathe of young Americans use the web to create and share content as well as use other people's content for their own creations, says a report. Click here for more.
Your stories: How the Net changed us: When CNN.com asked readers how the Internet has changed their lives, the e-mail in-box filled with stories from people who have used technology to keep in touch or find new ways to do business. Click here for more.
Grandpa sued over grandson's downloads: A 67-year-old man who says he doesn't even like watching movies has been sued by the film industry for copyright infringement after a grandson of his downloaded four movies on their home computer. Click here for more.
US retains hold of the internet: The US has won its fight to stay in charge of the internet, despite opposition from many nations. Click here for more.
Spammer jailed for £1.6m net scam: Peter Francis-Macrae, of St Neots, Cambs, was found guilty of threatening to kill and blackmail. Click here for more.
UN predicts 'internet of things': "It would seem that science fiction is slowly turning into science fact in an 'Internet of Things' based on ubiquitous network connectivity," said the report. Click here for more.
Online dating services accused of fraud: "Hiding behind Match.com's portrait of online success is a very big, very dirty secret," the Los Angeles lawsuit claims. Click here for more.
Search engine use on the rise: The number of people who use Internet search engines to find information has jumped over the last year, claiming a solid No. 2 spot behind e-mail among online tasks, a new study finds. Click here for more.
E-mail virus volumes down but danger increases: An anti-virus company reckons the number of viruses being sent by e-mail is continuing to fall -- but according to security experts, better targeting of attacks means the overall threat of infection has increased. Click here for more.
Fake FBI virus catches net users: A Windows virus that warns users about illegal net use is spreading online. Click here for more.
Security and Safety
Email 'get rich quick' scams double in October: It warns surfers to disregard spurious "work from home opportunities" received via junk mail which are normally designed to lure naive users into criminal enterprises. Click here for more.
Australians go zombie hunting: zombie-hunting program has been launched by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), in a bid to identify infected computers which have Australian internet addresses. Click here for more.
Less Than Half of Consumers Feel Safe Shopping Online: While people are getting generally concerned, they're not quite sure what actionable items they can do when they are at risk." It's easy to understand why consumer concern is increasing in light of some other findings in the survey. Click here for more.
Password-stealing keyloggers skyrocket: Hackers are on target to release more than 6,000 keystroke loggers in 2005, a 65 per cent increase from the 3,753 keyloggers released last year... Click here for more.
Can You Spot The Phish Attack?: ...only 4 percent of users can spot a phished e-mail 100 percent of the time. That's a very sobering thought as the holiday season is upon us and Americans flock online for their shopping needs. Click here for more.
Microsoft unveils more online services: Windows Live and Office Live will give users much of the functionality of the software giant's two most-profitable products, but without the complexity of installing and maintaining the software in computer hard drives... Click here for more.
Say hello to Windows Defender: On debut the product will protect against a range of threats including rootkits and keystroke loggers as well as spyware applications, according to a posting on a Microsoft engineering teams' blog. Click here for more.
Gates calls for new Microsoft web strategy: Microsoft Corp must change its business to better compete against an array of new competitors offering technology and services on the Internet... Click here for more.
Microsoft removing Sony BMG malware from PCs: Microsoft said it would remove controversial copy-protection software that CDs from music publisher Sony BMG install on personal computers, deeming it a security risk to PCs running on Windows. Click here for more.
Mac takes bite out of Windows: Hardly a week goes by that I don't hear from a friend or colleague with a monumental Windows problem. I tell them I'm glad to help, on one condition... Click here for more.
Unix, Linux and Open Source
Firefox gains ground on IE: More than one out of 10 surfers use Firefox as a browser, according to a study by web analytics firm OneStat.com. Click here for more.
Open source turns money-spinner: Open source code, written by a community of thousands of software developers, has always been made freely available. But there are ways of making money from it... Click here for more.
Linux worm targets PHP flaw: Virus writers have created a Linux worm which uses a recently discovered vulnerability in XML-RPC for PHP, a popular open source component used in many applications, to attack vulnerable systems. Click here for more.
The Weird, Weird Web
Pet radio station latest thing to hit LA: DogCatRadio.com, run out of a caravan in the hills above Los Angeles, is designed to keep pets engaged and amused while owners are at work all day (or night). Click here for more.
Alleged techie killer Googled 'neck snap break': Robert Petrick's is also alleged to have visited a website called "bloodfest666", downloaded a document entitled "22 ways to kill a man with your bare hands." Click here for more.
Chinese firm defends selling moon land: ...the Lunar Embassy started selling domain names for the "extra-terrestrial Internet", which the company says will eventually include websites with such endings as .lunar, .space and .uranus. Click here for more.
Man flogs debt on eBay: SAVE TIME - NO REASON TO TRUDGE THE STREETS/INTERNET WONDERING HOW TO GET YOURSELF INTO DEBT, IT HAS BEEN TAKEN CARE OF FOR YOU. Click here for more.
Town renamed Secretsanta.com: Officials in the northern Idaho town of Santa, Idaho, have voted to rename the 115-person hamlet Secretsanta.com to hype an online gift exchange management service. Click here for more.
I thought readers would want to know about this email virus. Even the most advanced programs from Norton or McAfee can not help you with this one. It appears to affect those who were born 1950 or earlier.
Virus name - C-NILE VIRUS.
Thanks again for reading the Actrix newsletter. Feedback can be sent to me via the e-mail address listed below. Please limit this to comments/suggestions regarding the newsletter. Non-forum requests for support should go to the Actrix Help Desk (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to the Accounts Department (email@example.com).