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May '06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Welcome to the May 2006 Actrix customer newsletter!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Better broadband choice at Actrix

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Open Source - No secret herbs or spices

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Things to do when your ISP is down

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home


Past Articles

Individual articles from Past Actrix Newsletters are archived in alphabetical order.
Click here to access the index in a new window.


Past Newsletters

April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
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February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
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November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
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May 2000
April 2000
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February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999



May '06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Welcome to the May 2006 Actrix customer newsletter!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Better broadband choice at Actrix

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Open Source - No secret herbs or spices

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Things to do when your ISP is down

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home


Recommend Actrix and win credit!


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May '06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Welcome to the May 2006 Actrix customer newsletter!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Better broadband choice at Actrix

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Open Source - No secret herbs or spices

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Things to do when your ISP is down

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home


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"Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren't so exciting."
- Bill Gates


May '06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Welcome to the May 2006 Actrix customer newsletter!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Better broadband choice at Actrix

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Open Source - No secret herbs or spices

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Things to do when your ISP is down

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home



The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
-Ellen Parr


Essential Sites

Virus Myths

Get Virus Help

E-mail Hoaxes


Windows Update

How Stuff Works

Internet Movie



World Time Zones

Actrix Tolls

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Urban Legends

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Web Design

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Anything For You

Wise's NZ Maps

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Calling the
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May '06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Welcome to the May 2006 Actrix customer newsletter!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Better broadband choice at Actrix

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Open Source - No secret herbs or spices

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Things to do when your ISP is down

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home



Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused.































































May '06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Welcome to the May 2006 Actrix customer newsletter!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Better broadband choice at Actrix

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Open Source - No secret herbs or spices

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Things to do when your ISP is down

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home




























































































May '06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Welcome to the May 2006 Actrix customer newsletter!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Better broadband choice at Actrix

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Open Source - No secret herbs or spices

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Things to do when your ISP is down

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home


 Actrix Newsletter May 2006 

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.

Questions and comments about the newsletter can be e-mailed to
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to

Welcome to the May 2006 Actrix customer newsletter 

Out with the old, and in with the blue!

Welcome to another newsletter. The first thing you'll probably notice is that there's definitely a newer-bluer look about things. The observant amongst you will have noticed similar changes to the Actrix home page ( which have included a new logo, strap line and colour-scheme. We're still working on a general re-design for the whole Actrix site, and you can expect the pages to change again in a few months, but we felt it was time for at least some change. We hope we've gone some way towards freshening things up a bit.

I'd like to say thanks to all those who sent me personal e-mails last month after my announcement about leaving Actrix. I really appreciated them. Many of you also took the opportunity to compliment the help desk and other departments, and that was appreciated too. I put together a summary of some of the nice things that were said and put it out on the office e-mail list. The comments were pretty encouraging, and served as a good shot in the arm.

Anyway, here we are again. I hope there's something for you in this issue, and that not too much will have changed other than the colours.

Rob Zorn

Better broadband choice at Actrix 

Those of you who have been paying attention to media coverage regarding broadband in New Zealand will be aware that things are beginning to change. For a long time ISPs have been frustrated by their inability to offer a competitive range of broadband products because of the high price and inflexibility of the way in which the product is wholesaled by Telecom.

After considerable interest from the Commerce Commission and quite a few public comments from government mentioning regulation, there has been some movement at last. The wholesale price of broadband has come down a little for ISPs (a lot for business plans, and a little bit for residential), and this has resulted in a little more freedom in what ISPs can offer.

The changes weren't all we were hoping for, but it's been a good start. There's still not a whole lot of variety we can offer in the way of speeds because Telecom controls that, but ISPs do have control over what they will charge, and what traffic allowances they will include with the plans. 

In determining our new set of plans, our concerns have been as follows:

  1. Offer a wide range of plans providing customers with as much choice as possible.
  2. Offer a low level cost effective entry plan to make the transition to broadband as painless as possible.
  3. Provide a system whereby customers are able to enjoy high speeds all the time instead of being choked back once their monthly traffic allowance is used up.

The wide range of plans

By breaking our plans up into two components (speed and traffic allowance) we've been able to significantly increase our broadband product range which means greater choice for customers. If you don't use the Internet a lot, but still want faster access, you can choose a plan that's higher on speed and lower on traffic. If you download a lot and speed is important as well, then you can go for a plan that has a higher offering in both respects. Wherever you are in between those extremes, there'll be a way for you to mix and match to get the plan that suits you best.

The range of plans is detailed in the table below. If you want broadband, but you're not sure what plan is best for you, feel free to call our help desk (0800-228749) for advice. If you tell our helpful staff about how you tend to use the Internet, they'll happily suggest a plan which will suit you best.

New Actrix broadband plans
Connection speed
daily limit
daily limit
daily limit
daily limit
daily limit
Quick: 256Kbps/128Kbps*
(approx. 5x faster than dialup)
$27.95 $39.95 $49.95 $59.95 Not
Fast: 2Mbps/128Kbps
(approx. 40x faster than dialup)
$37.95 $49.95 $59.95 $69.95 Not
Faster: 3.5Mbps/128Kbps
(approx. 60x faster than dialup)
$47.95 $59.95 $69.95 $79.95 Not
Blistering: 3.5Mbps/512Kbps
(approx. 60x faster than dialup, but pretty fast upstream as well)
$67.95 $79.95 $89.95 $99.95 $144.95

The low cost entry plan

Our cheapest plan starts at just $27.95 per month (and that's not a whole lot more than our top-end dialup plan). It allows 35 Megabytes of traffic per day. While this may not seem a lot to a seasoned downloader, it will be ample for many people who are still on dialup and who are considering broadband. The average web page is less than 100 kilobytes, so this means on our entry plan you could visit at least 350 web pages a day (though if you are downloading big images or other files this will reduce pretty quickly). If you're into music, the traffic allowance would let you download around 10 average sized mp3s per day.

The good thing about the way our plans work, though, is that once you've hit your daily limit, you don't pay any more. Your speed is just reduced to 64kbps (kilobytes per second), which is still faster than dialup, until 2 am the next morning.

*The 256Kbps/128Kbps plan is only available if you agree to pay by direct debit or credit card.

The daily traffic limit

Most ISPs work on a monthly system. You get a certain amount of traffic per month, and when you've used that up, you either get cut down to 64kbps for the rest of the month, or you have to pay more money to get your speed back again. The Actrix system avoids both of those problems. If you hit the system hard with a lot of downloads, we'll knock your speed back for the rest of the day when you hit your limit. This helps reduce the drain on our network resources, of course, but it also allows customers to manage their downloads better.

What also tends to happen is that those customers with a seriously developed downloading habit will begin hitting the system in the wee small hours of the morning leaving more network resources available later in the day for those of us who keep saner hours.

But no matter what your downloading patterns are, you know that if you have a full day and hit your limit, everything's going to be back to normal by tomorrow. No extra fees, and no long waits at the end of the month! And of course, there are 17 different plan combinations available in the table above, meaning that, with a little thought, you can choose the plan that's just right for your typical daily traffic needs.

Signing up

Residential customers find more information and an online signup form at

Business customers should go to

There are sometimes some associated, one-time sign-up costs depending on the term you choose, and you will need to also bring your tolls to Actrix in order to get the discounted rates. You'll find more information about these matters on the information pages mentioned.

Open Source - No secret herbs or spices 

The latest version of Windows XP - $535.00…
Microsoft Office Basic Version - $319.00…
Finding an alternative operating system and free tools and software? Well… priceless.


This article has been written because open source software is an interesting and important aspect of computing and the Internet. Many people enjoy open source software and benefit from it. If you decide to experiment with it, however, you do so at your own risk. Actrix cannot promise support for difficulties you encounter, and accepts no responsibility for damage of any kind that may result.

It's not hard to understand why software is so expensive. Think of the incredible things it can do and imagine all the hours and expertise put into developing it, and it's no wonder we're willing to pay about as much for the programs we run as we are for the computers that run them.

But what if there was a community of experienced developers out there who just wanted to develop great software for its own sake, and who were happy to share it around without cost?

Well there is. The open source movement has been around for a long time, producing all sorts of alternative software from operating systems and office tools to editors and instant messengers. The sort of stuff they're releasing these days for free is getting better and better, and is gaining an ever increasing community of enthusiastic users.

Open source software is growing in popularity for all sort of reasons, but the main one is, of course, the cost. There simply isn't one in most cases, and unlike shareware, there's little in the way of restrictions or strings attached. Some also use it because they don't like the way big companies have muscled in and tried to monopolise the software that runs the Internet. Geeks tend to love it because it gives them so much more control over what they can do on their own computers. Many users also argue that it is more secure than Windows operating systems.

What is Open Source and why is it free?

In basic terms, source code is the stuff that a program is made out of at its most basic level. Once written, source code is "compiled" into a program that can be used by a computer. Once a program has been compiled, it is very hard to work out anything about its source code. It's a bit like how once a piece of chicken has been covered in muck and deep-fried, it would be quite difficult to work backwards and determine the exact nature and quantity of its secret herbs and spices.

A commercial software company will attempt to keep its source code secret so that others can't use it, or learn any "tricks of the trade" from it, just like a restaurant chain might guard its chicken recipe.

By contrast, open source programs have their source code deliberately released so that others can see it, work with it, and even change it for their own purposes. The code is usually released under a general public license (GPL), which allows anyone to change or improve the software as long as they release their changes back to others who might be interested. It's a bit like a team of chefs all working together and pooling their ideas so they can make a better piece of chicken for all. It's not about money. It's about results.

For the average user, though, the GPL doesn't matter. Most just want to use the software, and they wouldn't have a clue how to make changes to its source code anyway.

Why do Open Source enthusiasts consider it superior?

Because it is so easy to "look under the hood," so to speak, peer review tends to happen naturally. Any bugs, flaws and vulnerabilities are found and announced by the open source community, and somebody then comes up with a fix. In proprietary systems, all the code is secret, so a lot of good natured experts that could find flaws don't. If the bad guys find the flaws before the good guys (as frequently happens), they can use those flaws for their own evil purposes such as creating effective viruses or programming malicious web sites, and they certainly won't work towards getting them fixed. Open source enthusiasts tend also to be an idealistic lot, often believing that if everyone helps each other, we'll all be better off, even financially.

Exponents of the proprietary method argue that keeping their source code secret makes it harder for hackers and virus writers. Even without access to the source code, hackers continually find exploitable flaws in Windows and Internet Explorer. Imagine what they could find if they could see into the very heart of the recipe! They also argue that the profit motivation works just as well in the software arena as it does in any other commercial sphere. Better software is developed by the motivation to be better than your competitors, and that can't be achieved as easily if we're all sharing ideas.

Linux Desktops

By far the most popular open source software would be Linux desktop operating systems. These alternatives to Windows will run on any PC. They’ll do pretty much anything Windows will do, but they’re free to install, use, update and add to.

Because so many developers have worked on the basic Linux source code to produce their own versions, there is plenty of choice. Linux comes in all sorts of flavours which are called “distributions”. They’re all reasonably similar, though some are definitely better-geared for newcomers. Mandriva ( and Ubuntu ( are easy to install, and resemble Windows pretty closely in the way they work.

Forecastfox - Get international weather forecasts from, and display them in a customisable toolbar. (

Adblock - Block things like images and flash so that pages load faster. (

PDF Download – Allows you to choose if you want to view a PDF file inside or outside the browser. (

Colourful Tabs – Shows each open tab in a different colour and makes them easy to distinguish. (

MeasureIt - Draw a ruler across any web page to check the width, height, or alignment of page elements in pixels. (

SiteAdvisor – Warns you about web-based security threats including spyware, adware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, phishing, online fraud and identity theft. (

IE Tab - Embeds Internet Explorer inside a Firefox tab. This will allow you to run Windows Update, something you can't normally do with Firefox. (

StumbleUpon - Shares with you the best-reviewed sites on the web that you may not have thought to search for.

Bork Bork Bork! - View web pages or mail as spoken by the Swedish Chef. (This and other humorous plug-ins available at

The real Linux power-users swear by more advanced versions such as Debian or Gentoo. These are a lot less similar to Windows and probably aren’t the best for new comers to open source.

There’s also an endless supply of programs that can be downloaded to run on Linux, and the most you’ll ever pay is a distribution charge of a few dollars. A wide variety of programs are included with the install, and others can be freely downloaded later as needed.

Moving to Linux

Moving to Linux is a big step. Unless you're clever enough to partition your hard drive, it's going to mean a re-format, and erasure of all your Windows stuff. It's something you might want to think about before rushing into, and a smarter move might be to first experiment with Linux on an old second-hand PC before you make any permanent changes to your main machine.

Knoppix Linux ( is designed to run from a CD and will temporarily take over your PC and run it as if it was a Linux system without altering anything on your hard drive. This makes it an ideal starter option. If you don't like it, remove the CD and re-start your machine. Everything will be back to normal.

There are lots of avenues of support open to novice Linux users. LUGs (Linux User Groups) exist all over the country, and are pretty good sources of free advice as well as free copies of Linux and open source programs. Linux users tend to want others to join them, and will happily talk "newbies" through solutions to the problems they faced themselves. Information about Linux in New Zealand and LUGs around the country can be found at

You'll probably also find that someone at your local computer store is a bit of a Linux expert who may be able to help you with advice and copies of open source software on CDs. This could save you a fair bit of download time.

Open Source under Windows

You don't have to go the whole hog and move to Linux before you can benefit from open source software. A number of programs have been developed that will happily run under Windows. The most famous of these is the web browser Firefox which is becoming a very popular alternative to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Because it's open source, the flaws in Firefox tend to get found and quickly fixed. It's also less of a target for hackers because it's much less commonly used than Internet Explorer. But what's really great about Firefox is that because the source code is available, it's easy for developers to come up with enhancements (called plug-ins or extensions) that you can download and install. This makes it a whole lot more customisable and fun than the browser you might be used to right now. Some of these plug-ins are mentioned in the callout box to the right.

Another open source program that is very popular and runs under Windows is Open Office, a fully working but free alternative to the more expensive suites of office programs commonly available. You can download it for no cost from It comes with a word processor that can open, work on and save documents in Microsoft Word or other proprietary formats (so you can swap documents with someone using WORD). It has a spreadsheet like Excel, an HTML editor like FrontPage, a drawing program, and more. It can be a little clunky at times (there's still some room for development) but it's fine for everyday use.

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Readers' forum 

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 (

Arne writes: Just a quick question of no great importance. I thought e-mail addresses had to be exact to be delivered. I use a yahoo address (aah_knee). I am happy to not get much spam but some of it is to an address that is not that close to mine, (eg aah_free_at_last_ii). Why does it come to me? Thanks! Arne.

Hi Arne,

What spammers tend to do is send the same spam to a whole list of e-mail addresses. Typically, they'll put one address in the "To" field and a whole lot more addresses in the CC (carbon copy) or BCC (blind carbon copy) fields. If your address was in the BCC field, it won't display. Instead, the e-mail will turn up in your mailbox looking like it has been sent only to the e-mail address in the "To" field.

You're right in that an e-mail address has to be exact in order for the e-mail to be delivered. It's just that the e-mail has been copied to your e-mail address in a hidden way. Often these lists of addresses that spammers use are in alphabetical order. You must be included in a group that starts with "aah" which makes it look like an e-mail might have been delivered to you wrongly just because your e-mail address is close to the one that appears in the "to" field.

I hope that helps make some sense of it.


Along similar lines, Sue writes: Hello Rob, For weeks we have been getting all these emails about shares and garbage. They are coming through on an e-mail address that is not ours. I was wondering if you can stop them coming through. I put a block on them every time they come through but they seem to be changing their email address by a few letters each time. They are so frustrating. At first I was sending them back but they come unknown.

Hi Sue, Yeah, these sorts of spam e-mails are a real nuisance, and though the Actrix filters catch the vast majority of stuff, there will always be ones like these that sneak through. They're being sent to an address other than yours, but your e-mail address has been included in the BCC field (along with many others, no doubt) and that's why they're turning up for you though addressed to someone else.

Putting blocks on them isn't an easy solution. As you mention, they change the sending address slightly each time to avoid blocks, and if we were to put a comprehensive block on them, we'd end up blocking someone's legitimate e-mails somewhere along the line. That's why spam filters work best on the basis of content.

The Actrix spam filters are designed to learn, and you can report spam to them by sending the spam e-mails (as attachments) to, with the word SPAM in the subject line. This will help the filters learn what customers consider to be spam, and over time will lead to even better filtering. Please be aware, though, that this may not automatically result in the annoying e-mails being blocked, but it will help in the long run.

By the same token, if you're finding the occasional legitimate e-mail ending up in your spam folder, you can send that as an attachment to, with the words NOT SPAM in the subject line.

To forward an e-mail as an attachment in Outlook Express, right-click on the e-mail in your inbox and then left-click on "Forward as attachment."


Peter writes: Hi Rob and crew, Had a problem with downloading attachments on Outlook Express satisfactorily solved by one of your operatives this morning. Thanks very much. It all hinged on removing the tick in the box controlling opening files which "potentially could contain a virus".

My query is:- what criteria are applied to distinguish between attachments which have such a potential and those that do not? And where does Actrix's filtering system fit into this scheme of things? Why should a copy of a set of Rules of an international Society be suspect?

Since to date there has been only one sole sender to activate this bar on my system, should I perhaps re-tick the appropriate box once I have downloaded his attachments (which I know independently to be safe) in order to restore the protection level until I have a further communication from him when I can de-tick it again to see just what he has to say?

Any information on this and related topics would be most appreciated. Regards Peter

Hi Pete,

It's sometimes hard to explain fully the way that Microsoft thinks, but I'll shed what light I can. A few years ago, Outlook and Outlook Express suffered from a vulnerability that allowed some malicious code in e-mails to run automatically as soon as the e-mail was viewed in the preview pane (i.e. you didn't even have to click an attachment). That flaw has been fixed in later versions, but that was about the time this new feature started turning up as the default.

It's not a bad idea, but in general, the tendency has been for this setting to be a little over-zealous, and just about anything attached has been blocked, including simple jpeg and gif images. Word documents are often blocked by this setting too, as they can potentially include embedded viruses. Perhaps that's why your set of rules were blocked.

Actrix's filters will check any attachments for viruses as well as the e-mails themselves, but of course, your Outlook Express program doesn't know that. The filters on our servers do catch just about everything malicious, but it is possible that a new virus could make it through before the filters know about it, which is why you should still have your own virus protection on your machine, and which is another reason Outlook Express's default blocking setting could be justified as a good thing.

My advice regarding this setting, though, is to leave it unticked. But this is only provided you have your own anti-virus software that you keep up-to-date, and that you also have the latest versions of Outlook Express installed with all the latest patches available from If you have all that in order, then you could probably safely do without the nuisance that this setting can sometimes be. However, now that you know about it, and can easily turn it on and off, there's no harm in that either. Outlook express will deliver to you an attachment that it blocked, once you remove the tick, so you're not in danger of losing anything.


Teresa writes: Hi there Rob, Just a little funny know when you pass on an internet address and you hate to have to say "www" well this is a classic.

I was speaking to my sister who was just getting the hang of the computer world and I was passing on an internet address and I said "now write this down, '' and oh, don't forget the www at the beginning".

Then she replied "now..... is that spelt d-u-b d-u-b d-u-b ?? (No, she's not a blonde!!) Cheers, Teresa

Excellent, thanks Teresa. I think we can all remember those first days on the web and how confusing it seemed at first. Please assure your sister that we're only laughing at her in a good-natured understanding way. -Ed.

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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!

The reincarnation station - It is widely accepted by many that when you die, you come back again as something else, and what you come back as depends on how virtuously you have lived your current life. Whilst I think the jury is still out on that, it is fun to do online tests to see what one might come back as, should re-incarnation be what really happens. I didn't think I was that bad a chap, but I'm coming back as a penguin. Oh well, could be worse.
Zoom in - Here's a great New Zealand map site that is free to use. Type a suburb or street name into the search field and you'll be given a set of clickable links to various places in the country with that name. Click on the map itself to zoom in. Nice and easy to use, and reasonably quick to load.
The infinite cat project - " It all began innocently enough when a user on an Apple help web site posted a picture of his cat, Frankie, contemplating the beauty of a flower. Shortly afterwards another user posted a picture of his cat bristling at the image of Frankie on the monitor. I decided this was too much fun and advanced the concept as The Infinite Cat Project which is, simply, cats regarding cats regarding cats in an electronic milieu."
LOST TV - the unofficial fan site - This site is the first unofficial fan site for the Lost television show. If you're a fan, you'll really enjoy the pictures, discussions, theories and plot summaries. It's best use is probably for reading about the episode you've just watched (to be sure you caught everything that happened) but be warned, the spoilers for future episodes are hard to resist.
What should I read next? - "Enter a book you like and the site will analyse our database of real readers' favourite books (over 20,000 and growing) to suggest what you could read next. It's a bit like browsing the bookshelves of a (very) well read friend! (You can register on the results page and build your own favourites list)."
Most popular myths in science - Cats don't always land on all fours. Lightning strikes twice all the time. Men don't actually think about sex every seven seconds, or at least researchers think that's an over-statement. The next button is down below each image.
Cooking downunder with Pat Churchill - Pat Churchill is a New Zealander now living in Melbourne, with an extensive background in daily newspaper journalism and corporate relations work. She's been writing about food for 30 years, and her site reflects that. It's well-written with lots of practical tips, interesting articles and inviting recipes. If you're a foodie, this site is for you. It appeals to the epicurean in all of us.
Items Elvis owned - Who wouldn't want to own the stuff that Elvis once owned? All the items on this web page were at one time owned by The King, and many of these come from people's collections or are items that were personally given to them. There are even items of underwear! Some interesting galleries are included for Graceland and for Elvis' private plane. I certainly wouldn't mind owning that!
Tasty Insect Recipes - "Disclaimer: The Department of Entomology at Iowa State University is not responsible for gastric distress, allergic reactions, feelings of repulsion, or other problems resulting from the ingestion of foods represented on these pages." Feelings of repulsion? Now why would that be? Chocolate chirpie chip cookies almost sound delicious!
The very silly webloid news - Bizarre photos, strange news stories, bogus homepages and untrue confessions... the Webloid News has it all. It's a bit sillier than some of the better news parody sites, such as The Onion, but it's also a little cleaner, I think, and this is a family newsletter.

Cyberspace news snippets

New Zealand

1.24m internet subscribers in NZ : New Zealand had about 1.24 million internet subscribers by September last year, according to a Statistics New Zealand survey. Click here for more.

Porn domain may get the boot: Wellington's Vivian Street used to be the place to go for sex in the capital but this week the Michael Fowler Centre down the road has been the scene of a skirmish over plans to set up a web address for a virtual red light district. Click here for more.

It's the economy, stupid: Without broadband, NZ is nothing more than a farm at the bottom of the world. Click here for more.

'Phishing' assault on Trade Me: Hackers have mounted an electronic attack against Fairfax's newly-acquired $700 million internet auction site, Trade Me. Click here for more.

NZ still a straggler in broadband race: New Zealand continues to wallow near the bottom of broadband uptake rankings despite Telecom's doubling of customer numbers in 2005, OECD statistics show. Click here for more.

Hunting for treasure in maps: What did a place look like 10 years ago, what memories do people have of it and who lives there now? These are some of the questions people might be able to routinely ask of anywhere they visit if young Wellington internet start-up ProjectX takes off. Click here for more.

Web monitors traffic jams: Sitting in a traffic jam on the way home from work could be a thing of the past if commuters log on before setting out. Click here for more.

Telecom web rules change under fire: Telecom's move away from a standard measure of minimum broadband speeds is drawing fire from its resellers and the internet watchdog. Click here for more.

Online dating comes out of closet: These days online dating is out of the closet and it's more likely that rather than being sworn to secrecy, the best man will propose a toast to Click here for more.


Learning to love Web 2.0: The BBC is not alone in embracing Web 2.0, as this mixed bag of tools, services, design guidelines and programming languages is generally known. Click here for more.

Unease over how the net is run: While stability and security remain an important objective, today no one seriously questions the fact that internet governance extends far beyond technical concerns. Click here for more.

Thousands more file sharers sued: Recording industry watchdog IFPI is taking legal action against 2,000 people in 10 countries across Europe accused of sharing music files. Click here for more.

Australia shifting to broadband at pace: The rapid switch to broadband internet connections is continuing in Australia. Click here for more.

Hollywood to sell movies online: Hollywood studios will start selling digital versions of films such as "Brokeback Mountain" and "King Kong" on the Internet this week, the first time major movies have been available online to own. Click here for more.

Rising singer underscores internet music revolution: Instead of travelling round the country, Thom acquired a webcam for £60 ($170) and announced a run of 21 gigs to be performed on consecutive nights in the basement of her flat in Tooting. Click here for more.

Search users 'stop at page three': Most people using a search engine expect to find what they are looking for on the first page of results, says a US study. Click here for more.

Poll: Web plays bigger role in life decisions: Nearly half of U.S. users of the Internet went online for help with major life decisions such as finding a college for their child or looking for a new place to live... Click here for more.

Judge: Employee Web surfing not unreasonable: Surfing the Web at work is equivalent to reading a newspaper or talking on the phone, an administrative law judge said in recommending the lightest possible punishment for a city worker accused of disregarding warnings to stay off the Internet. Click here for more.


New Trojan encrypts data, demands ransom: First adware, then spyware, now ransomware... Click here for more.

Virus writers at war: The confrontation between virus writers and the anti-virus industry is escalating, with malware authors also going after fellow VXers. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

BBC used to entice cyber victims: If users click on the link, they are taken to a fake website that installs a piece of software that can monitor online financial activity. Click here for more.

Why phishing reels punters in: To tech savvy punters most phishing sites are obviously bogus. But a recent study by academics at Harvard and Berkeley reveal that 23 per cent of users only look at the content of sites when deciding whether they are legitimate or not. Click here for more.

Germany arrests ring of cyber identity thieves: German police have arrested seven members of an international gang of so-called "phishers", who hacked into computers of internet banking customers and raided their accounts. Click here for more.

Sudoku used as bait for adware download: It's common practice for hackers to attempt to trick users into visiting maliciously constructed websites by offering either warez or smut. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Bad web browser bug gets patched: Security firms have released patches for a critical loophole in Microsoft's browser that leaves users open to attack. Click here for more.

Keeping up with security: ...for the second time in three months, outside programmers took matters into their own hands by quickly releasing their own fixes, days ahead of the official Microsoft patch for its market-dominant Internet Explorer browser. Click here for more.

IE 7 Is 'Layout Complete': Microsoft's next-generation browser, Internet Explorer 7 (IE7), is rounding the corner and getting the "spit and polish" it needs as it heads into the stretch run of its final release. Click here for more.

Unix, Linux and Open Source

Open source as a way to boost jobs: The Australian Computer Society has emphatically come out in support of open source software... Click here for more.

Is Dapper Drake the One?: The next release of Kubuntu Linux is named Dapper Drake. Click here for more.

Firefox under fire from multiple security bugs: The Mozilla Foundation has warned of a slew of critical vulnerabilities to its popular Firefox web browser and related products. Click here for more.

Linux Malware On The Rise: Assuming you're safe from viruses and other malware just because you are on a non-Windows platform is a big mistake... Click here for more.

The Weird, Weird Web

Little piggy cam becomes web hit: A webcam in Cornwall which has been showing the lives of a farrow of newborn piglets is proving to be an international success. Click here for more.

Man using Web to barter paper clip for house: Kyle MacDonald had a red paper clip and a dream: Could he use the community power of the Internet to barter that paper clip for something better, and trade that thing for something else - and so on and so on until he had a house? Click here for more.


A little levity

Things to do when your ISP is down

  1. Dial 911 immediately.
  2. Open the curtains to see if anything has changed over the past two years.
  3. You mean there's something else to do?
  4. Work.
  5. Re-introduce yourself to your immediate family.
  6. Get that kidney transplant you've been putting off.

Bringing it all back home

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 ( or to the Accounts Department (

Take care through May!

Rob Zorn