June '06 Topics
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June '06 Topics
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The Internet has been the most fundamental change during my lifetime and for
hundreds of years. Someone the other day said, "It's the biggest thing since Gutenberg," and then someone else said
"No, it's the biggest thing since the invention of writing."
June '06 Topics
How long was I in the army? Five foot eleven.
June '06 Topics
Computers will never take the place of books.
You can't stand on a floppy disk to reach a high shelf.
June '06 Topics
June '06 Topics
This newsletter has been produced to help you
get the most out of the Internet,
Welcome to another Actrix customer newsletter. My goodness, where does a month go?
Of course, exciting news this month has been the impending de-regulation of Telecom and access for other ISPs to the local loop. This is tremendous news because it means that Actrix can get its own access to the copper that feeds into your home. Up until now, ISP access has been restricted pretty much to re-selling whatever Telecom was willing to let us have, but because they controlled the copper, they controlled speeds and set prices. With that barrier out of the way, ISPs can do a whole lot more, and have increased control over what they sell.
It's too early to tell at this stage what the end results will be, and it's going to take some time for all this to come into effect, but increased competition, and the real ability to compete, is going to see much better broadband offerings for the New Zealand end-user. This has certainly been the case in other countries, such as Britain and Australia, where proper unbundling has taken place.
If you're confused by what all the jargon means, the following article in the New Zealand Herald explains the issues in question and answer form in a reasonably straightforward way. Once you get past the terminology, the concepts aren't so hard to follow.
Web mail, where you log into a web site to send and receive e-mail, has been around for a long time, and there are many free web mail providers out there vying for your attention, each attempting to out-do the other in providing you with the most sublime online web mail experience.
Ultimately, web mail isn't as convenient as using your normal Actrix e-mail address, but there are times when it is handy to have an e-mail address that is more disposable or less personal.
This month we'll look at a few of the larger generic web mail providers out there. Next month we'll have a look at two or three that offer a more specialised service.
What's in it for them?
Most of what web mail providers offer may indeed be free to the end user, but it's still big business (Microsoft bought Hotmail back in 1997 for $400 million, for example). Some will advertise directly to you while you're logged in. Others will offer you advertising newsletters, and of course, the more users they can boast, the more they can charge their advertisers. Sometimes you'll be enticed to upgrade to a premium service for a modest fee.
Mostly, though, it's about numbers and capturing you for the long haul. Web mail sites will offer you extra features that they hope will make you log in and stay all day. The longer they can keep you (and millions of others) as users, the more likely they will be to derive some financial benefit from you somewhere along the line.
Web mail works independently of your e-mail program, so it has a few advantages. The first advantage is that you can access it from anywhere. If you're at an Internet café, or at a friend's computer, you can't get to your e-mail program, but you can log into your web mail account and use your web mail e-mail address.
Web mail is also handy for those times when you need a secondary e-mail address in order to avoid spam, or perhaps to maintain some anonymity. The good thing about web mail is that it's free, so closing one e-mail address down and starting up a new one is easy enough to do.
Be warned, though, using a web mail address doesn't mean you're completely anonymous. If you make a nuisance of yourself, you can still be traced by the information about your computer that is given to the web mail site when you connect to it.
The disadvantages are that you can't use web mail to access messages you have already downloaded to your computer via your e-mail program on the computer you usually use. Also, because the web mail service is free, the provider usually doesn't have any qualms about attaching a brief line or two of self promotion to the footer of your outgoing messages.
And it can be a little slow on dialup. Web mail servers tend to be pretty busy, and they can take a little time to move from page to page.
Owned by Microsoft, Hotmail is the world's largest free web-based e-mail service, mostly by virtue of the fact that it's the longest running. It's been around the since 1996.
Features include spam and virus filtering, two megabytes of online storage for New Zealand users, MSN chat and an online calendar which you can share if you're popular enough for your contacts to be concerned about your schedule.
If you use a Microsoft e-mail program like Outlook or Outlook Express, these can be set up to send and receive your Hotmail, though new users are now charged a fee for this service.
Some of the downsides are the fact that, because it has millions of subscribers already, getting the user name you want isn't easy. Be forewarned, email@example.com and all its derivatives are already gone.
YAHOO MAIL - www.yahoo.co.nz
Yahoo Mail has been a popular alternative to Hotmail since 1997, and also boasts many millions of users all around the world.
It comes with all the standards including virus and spam protection, an online calendar, Yahoo chat, address book and a notepad. Their online storage capacity tops Hotmail's at 1 Gigabyte (1042 megabytes), but the real advantage for New Zealand users is that you can use @yahoo.co.nz as your e-mail address. This has freed up a lot of user names that were taken under the yahoo.com model, but alas, nzhotstud and all its derivatives are again already gone.
GMAIL - www.gmail.com
Launched in 2005 by Google, GMail is the latest major web mail service provider. It was voted #2 in PC World's Top 100 products of 2005, right after Firefox, and it's easy to see why. GMail includes a large 2.5 Gigabytes of storage space (and this is increasing all the time) and its innovative new features have set its competitors scrambling to keep up.
GMail has all the usuals plus a number of excellent extras such as a vacation responder and the very practical "conversational e-mail format" which combines an initially sent e-mail with all its various replies back and forth into one e-mail in your inbox making following a protracted e-mail conversation much easier.
To join GMail, you have to be invited by a current member or request GMail to send a text message with a signup code to your cell phone. You can do that at the site. This process helps verify you are a real person and not a spammer. Spammers love to use web based e-mail services because they're cheap and relatively anonymous.
You can also access GMail via WAP, and even via the PS2 web browser in a limited capacity.
NZOOMAIL - www.nzoomail.co.nz
Nzoomail was originally run by TVNZ, as part of its Nzoom.com web site, but now functions a standalone New Zealand based web mail service.
It has less options than some of the bigger providers, but certainly all you need for a basic e-mail service. One feature is that Nzoomail will automatically retrieve email from up to three of your existing web mail accounts if you want it to. That's pretty handy for keeping your e-mail all in the one place.
It also offers a choice of three or four other domain names you can use for your e-mail address if you don't want to use @nzoomail.co.nz as your e-mail address.
Actrix Web Mail
Some customers may not realise that they have automatic access to their Actrix e-mail on the web. If you go to the Actrix homepage (www.actrix.co.nz) and log into My Actrix with your user name and password, you will be able to check and reply to any new messages in your Actrix mailbox.
This is handy for a number of reasons. People travelling can still use their Actrix e-mail address because they can log into Actrix web mail from anywhere in the world. The same goes for access to your Actrix mail if you're using someone else's computer.
There are also times when some well-meaning friend sends you an e-mail with an enormous load of attachments (party photos are a classic example) and this e-mail takes forever to download on dialup, or just gets stuck half way, meaning any new e-mail behind it is inaccessible. With Actrix web mail, you can simply log into your account online, find the e-mail that's a problem, and then delete it. When you go back to your e-mail program, you'll find the problem gone.
Keep in mind, though, that in accessing your Actrix e-mail this way you are bypassing your e-mail program. You won't be able to see messages you've already downloaded to your e-mail program, and anything you delete via web mail will be gone for good. (It won't be in Outlook Express's Deleted Items folder when you go look for it later).
Lastly, when you use Actrix web mail, you're able to check on your spam situation. All Actrix customers automatically have a spam folder but you can really only access that folder online. If our spam filters think one of your e-mails is definitely spam, they'll channel it off to this folder where it will sit for 7 days before being automatically deleted.
It pays to check this folder occasionally just in case (on the miniscule off chance) our spam filters are a little too strict, and accidentally put something you wanted in there. It's also a good place to check if you've been expecting something in e-mail that hasn't arrived.
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).
Barbara writes: I have installed on my computer Nortons Anti-Virus 2006. Is it necessary for me to also have Ad-Aware and SpyBot which are also installed or would Nortons be sufficient? Many thanks, Barbara.
Hi Barbara, Because spyware and adware are changing all the time, there isn't a straightforward answer to this one. I'd say you can probably get by without the free spyware eradicators if you have Nortons Anti-Virus 2006 installed. It's a good quality commercial product that is well supported and it is probably a little better on the whole than the free ones in comprehensively identifying and dealing to spyware.
This is not to say that the free ones aren't also good and useful. You'll usually find that if you run more than one anti-spyware feature, each will pick up a little something that the other might have missed.
You could conduct a little experiment yourself. Make sure each of the three is up-to-date, then do a spyware scan with Nortons. After that, run each of the free programs and see if they pick up anything Nortons missed. That might give you your answer!
Julie writes: I have more of a comment than a question. While downloading emails on Outlook Express I was frequently cut off with the message "Your server has unexpectedly terminated the connection". This was driving me mad as when I tried again it had to go right back to the start of downloading. So I phoned the Actrix help desk, and they suggested looking at the messages in Web Mail and deleting any really large ones, and then going to Outlook Express. This has saved me hours of frustration - best piece of advice I have been given. Many thanks. Julie
Hi Julie. Yes, this is a valuable thing to remember. Sometimes people send you e-mails with large attachments, and these can cause problems when Outlook express tries to download them. The download sometimes gets hung. Every time you go back and try again the same thing happens. What's worse is that you never get to see any of the e-mails behind the big one, and any e-mails before it will be downloaded again each time you try, because Outlook Express doesn't remove them from your mailbox until it has managed to get everything down.
Customers experiencing this difficulty can log into My Actrix on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz) and choosing Web Mail. This allows you to look at all the contents of your mailbox without having to download anything to Outlook Express. This is handy for spotting the big e-mail that's causing the problem, reading it if needed, and then deleting it. Just be aware that if you do this, the e-mail you delete is permanently gone.
Libby writes: Hi, I am envious of people who can get broadband. One of the disadvantages of living out in the countryside! I get the usual excuses about the quality of lines, blah, blah, blah. Waiting for something to download through dialup is seriously getting to my sense of humour.....*sigh*. Anyway my query is about getting a "string" that would open up the speed of my dialup. I have heard about this, but do not fully understand how to do this. Could you help me with this because I'm about to go ballistic next time I try do download something that'll take three hours instead of 20 minutes! Libby
Hi Libby, A modem string is just a little line of code that is added to your modem's settings. In most cases, a string will make your modem go faster by slowing it down a little. Putting it very simply, on a bad line, your modem will often overwork itself and end up doing an even worse job. Modems (yours and the Actrix modem it's connected to) are always negotiating and re-negotiating speeds between themselves depending on line conditions, and where these are bad the modem is often busier doing this than it is transferring data.
A string will often force the modem to slow down a little bit. As a result it handles the fluctuating line conditions better and re-negotiates less. Ironically, the result is often a faster flow of data than if it was allowed to go at full pace.
Strings will differ depending on your modem type. You're best off calling the Actrix help desk (0800-228749). They can find out what your modem is, and they'll usually be able to find a string to enter into the settings. Adding the string is easy to do, and usually just takes a few mouse-clicks. There are no guarantees, but it may help.
Judy writes: Hello Rob. I was interested that, in response to a question in the May newsletter, you mentioned that "CC" refers to "carbon copy". While I know the Americans use this explanation and are indeed very old-fashioned in their formatting of text, you might be interested to know that the 1978 Australasian edition of The Typewriting Dictionary refers to the extension of CC as "copy circulated to" (page 31). I think you'll agree that this is a much more relevant usage these days? And "BCC" can be used as "blind copy circulated".
Well, you learn something every day, and I will try and think of it as "Copy Circulated" from now on. - Ed.
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!
micro waved water do to plants?
http://rense.com/general70/microwaved.htm - For her science fair project, a girl took filtered water and divided it into two parts. The first part she boiled on the stove, and the second she heated to boiling in a microwave. Then after cooling she used the water to water two identical plants to see if there would be any difference in growth. Oh dear...
to do before you die
http://www.2dobeforeidie.com/2dolists.htm - At this site people have sent in their lists of things they want to do before they die. It might be a great source of ideas for your own list. Lots of people want to come to Australia and New Zealand, and there's the usual romantic stuff, but I'm a little mystified as to why running naked through the desert features so often.
|All World Knowledge Base
www.allworldknowledge.com/knowledgebase/index.html - This site boasts a modest collection of articles explaining various things, and is a wonderful example of how a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, or how if you don't know about something, there's no harm in just making stuff up. In cricket "the winning team is the one whose members are still conscious after five days." Indeed!
|The Lost Gospel of Judas
www9.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/ - An ancient Coptic manuscript dating from the third or fourth century, containing the only known surviving copy of the Gospel of Judas, has been restored and authenticated after being lost for nearly 1,700 years. This National Geographic site lets you read all about it. Fascinating stuff.
|The secrets of Scientology
www.xenu.net/ - Is your body really just a receptacle for a trillion year old thetan, and can Scientology's expensive auditing system really change your life? Or is it all just a pipe dream? Tom Cruise knows, but if he's not answering your fan mail either, you can always find out about Scientology at a site like this one.
|Learn piano online with Piano Nanny
www.pianonanny.com/ - Now you don't have to fork out anymore for expensive lessons where that elderly lady in a shawl comes around and slaps your fingers with a ruler while you try to learn scales (or was that just my childhood?). These free lessons are supposed to be pretty comprehensive. You will need a portable piano keyboard that you can bring to the computer, though.
|Chernobyl Speed Girl
www.kiddofspeed.com/chapter1.html - This site was suggested by John McGregor. A girl rides her motorbike (a Kawasaki Ninja for those who want to know) through Chernobyl. Some interesting and sad pictures and commentary are included (and yes, there's a lot more about the motorbike too). It's been 20 years since the Chernobyl disaster, and things will be desolate there for many years to come, but it's good to see nature fighting back a little bit too. Thanks John.
www.blockfrenzy.com/ - This is a really simple and fun game, and highly addictive in that "I gotta try again because I can surely do better than that" kind of way. Once you get the hang of it, it does become a bit easier, but there are no complicated rules or key-strokes.
|Think without the box
http://thewicked.sgblogging.com/wicked/ - "Loved reading detective novels? Now you get to do the detective work yourself! The Wicked is, among other things, a riddle. You start at the beginning with only your own fragmented understanding of what is going on, and you have to trudge your way through the levels until you finally complete it or give up. Every level comes with hint that will point you to the next level. It is up to you to interpret those hints. All which is needed are your wits and keen eye sight [and a little bit of knowledge about how web pages work - Ed]. Good luck, and have fun!"
|The Wayback machine
www.archive.org/web/web.php - "Browse through 55 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago. To start surfing the Wayback, type in the web address of a site or page where you would like to start, and press enter. Then select from the archived dates available. The resulting pages point to other archived pages at as close a date as possible."
Call for net check service: Non-profit society InternetNZ is considering setting up an independent service that would let people check the speed and quality of their broadband connections online... Click here for more.
The degrading world of the cyber-bully: Internet humiliation, intimidation and threats are the main vehicles for cyber-bullying, according to a survey of more than 13,000 teenagers. Click here for more.
Internet rivals break out champagne: Telecom's jubilant internet service provider rivals were last night hopeful of a rapid beginning to significant increase in broadband competition. Click here for more.
Untangling broadband, local loops and regulation: What is broadband? What is all the fuss about? Local loop? What happened? What next? Click here for more.
Air NZ to boost online options: Air New Zealand passengers will be able to change or cancel their flights online later this year and check-in and select their seats over the internet. Click here for more.
Changing net is changing us: For the past six years, Cole has been tracking usage and some of his findings have been surprising. Click here for more.
Lion Man's internet love hoax: "This is what people do. They do silly things," Busch told Sunday News. "There is no need for it." Click here for more.
Seek and destroy - Trade Me: Trade Me plans to shake up the online recruitment market by undercutting the listing fees of market leader Seek by 70-80 per cent when it introduces a jobs category on its website later this year. Click here for more.
NZ online for porn, sheep: Our "She'll be right" attitude may be just a sham, too, since New Zealanders also take first place for "happiness" and "misery". Click here for more.
Website ordered to remove ad lampooning Telecom: Telecom has stopped an international website from distributing a spoof advertisement that has children pouring bile on the company instead of praise. Click here for more.
Google puts everywhere in NZ on the map: Its maps are of comparable quality to those put online by Wellington start-up Zoomin and established national mapping firm Wises. Click here for more.
Open-source guru talks up Firefox: Born in England and raised in Auckland, Goodger is on the cutting edge of the open-source software movement and currently works on two of the hottest internet properties - Firefox and Google. Click here for more.
Net censorship spreads worldwide: Repressive regimes are taking full advantage of the net's ability to censor and stifle reform and debate, reveals a report. Click here for more.
Hacker fears 'UFO cover-up': He says he spent two years looking for photographic evidence of alien spacecraft and advanced power technology. Click here for more.
Growing concern over Internet addiction: For some, the Internet it has become an addiction, adversely affecting their lives and their family's lives. Click here for more.
Worldwide survey estimates 694m adult web users: Calculating the worldwide growth of the web remains largely a matter of guesswork... Click here for more.
We're Running Out of IP Addresses: The growing popularity of smartphones and other gadgets with Internet connectivity is sucking up all of the available IP addresses, and it's beginning to impede emerging Internet markets around the world. Click here for more.
Irish the Web's loneliest users: Google Trends, which works out how many searches have been done via the Internet search engine on particular terms, showed the word "lonely" was entered most frequently by Internet users in Ireland. Click here for more.
Survey: Workers would give up coffee for Web: It should come as no surprise that most Americans with Internet access at work do some personal Web surfing on the job. A new survey finds that half of them would rather give up their morning coffee than forgo that ability. Click here for more.
Intelligent net; How scientists are trying to bring meaning to the web : Phrases like "increased intelligence", "next generation" and "bringing meaning to the web" are being bandied around by researchers, exhibitors and delegates alike. Click here for more.
Coming soon: The Web toll: New laws may transform cyberspace and the way you surf it. Click here for more.
Web inventor warns of 'dark' net: The web should remain neutral and resist attempts to fragment it into different services, web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has said. Click here for more.
Privacy worries over web's future: The next phase of the web could face "big privacy" issues, a senior UK academic has warned. Click here for more.
EU to tax e-mail, text messages?: European Union lawmakers are investigating a proposed tax on e-mails and mobile phone text messages as a way to fund the 25-member bloc in the future. Click here for more.
All quiet on the malware front: Virus-ladened emails hit record low... Click here for more.
Trojans are the New Model Army: Amateur virus writers are going the way of amateur athletes, morris dancing and the May Pole, according to a survey by Panda Software. Click here for more.
Beware of 'Badware': If FunCade, Jessica Simpson Screensaver, UnSpyPC or "Winfixer" is installed on your computer, chances are your machine is spying on you. Click here for more.
Big holes in net's heart revealed: Simple attacks could let malicious hackers take over more than one-third of the net's sites, reveals research. Click here for more.
Online Predator Pleads Guilty: "Parents and guardians need to know -- and this is yet another reminder - that dangerous predators prowl on the Internet and prey on our children," U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said in a statement. Click here for more.
Warning on search engine safety: Some net searches are leading users to websites that expose them to spam, spyware and other dangerous downloads, reveals a report. Click here for more.
Robbed by the spy in her PC: Customers will lose confidence in online banking if more banks don't introduce simple security measures, police national e-crime manager Maarten Kleintjes says. Click here for more.
Company: Hackers can crack top antivirus program: Symantec Corp.'s leading antivirus software, which protects some of the world's largest corporations and U.S. government agencies, suffers from a flaw that lets hackers seize control of computers to steal sensitive data, delete files or implant malicious programs, researchers said Thursday. Click here for more.
Next Explorer more secure: Microsoft's next version of Internet Explorer will tackle many of the criticisms levelled at the current version, especially over security, says the head of Microsoft's Internet Explorer division. Click here for more.
Bill Gates wishes he weren't so rich: "I wish I wasn't. There is nothing good that comes out of that..." Click here for more.
Microsoft may delay Vista again: Microsoft Corp.'s long- awaited release of the upgrade to its flagship Windows operating system will likely be delayed again by at least three months, research group Gartner Inc. said Tuesday. Click here for more.
Adieu FrontPage, Hello Expression: FrontPage has been a part of Microsoft Office for several versions, but beginning with Office 2007, if you want to do some heavy-duty Web page editing, you will need a whole new, stand-alone product that Microsoft has just begun beta testing. Click here for more.
The Surge in Mac Attacks: The SANS Institute and independent researchers have all recently published reports slamming Mac security. Click here for more.
Apple updates to defend against OS, app and QuickTime flaws: Apple last week advised users to upgrade following the discovery that various versions of Mac OS X, Safari web browser, Apple Mail and other products are affected by multiple security vulnerabilities. Click here for more.
Open source advice changed: The original guide, released in March, raised the hackles of the open source community and Green MP Nandor Tanczos by describing open source software licence terms as "infectious". Click here for more.
New Firefox 2.0 Features Line Up For Release: Mozilla developers continue to make progress on the highly anticipated Firefox 2.0 browser. Click here for more.
Knife-wielding devil teddy bear rampages through eBay: ...a terrified eBayer is attempting to offload a satanic teddy bear which, well, let's get it from the horse's mouth. Click here for more.
Is this the dullest spam ever?: ...the following is a refreshing change indeed from the usual "here's that fantastic mortgage offer I promised to forward - you owe me a beer" or "great to see you last night - here's where you can get a bigger organ" line of attack. Click here for more.
NZ 'definitely not for sale': An Australian man, obviously a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock, tried to flog off Aotearoa on online auction site eBay. Click here for more.
There was once a young man. In his youth, his desire was to become a great writer. When asked to define great, he said, "I want to write stuff that the whole world will read, stuff that people will react to on a truly emotional level, stuff that will make them scream, cry, howl in pain and anger!" He now works for Microsoft writing error messages.
My husband and I are both in an Internet business, but he's the one who truly lives, eat, and breathes computers. I finally realised how bad it had gotten when I was scratching his back one day. "No, not there," he directed. "Scroll down..."
While my brother-in-law was tapping away on his home computer, his ten-year-old daughter sneaked up behind him. Then she turned and ran into the kitchen, squealing to the rest of the family, "I know Daddy's password! I know Daddy's password!" "What is it? her sisters asked eagerly. Proudly she replied, "Asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk!"
Lawyers and computers have both been proliferating since 1970. Unfortunately, lawyers, unlike computers, have not gotten twice as smart and half as expensive every 18 months.
I stopped at a florist shop after work to pick up roses for my wife. As
the clerk was putting the finishing touches on the bouquet, a young man
burst through the door, breathlessly requesting a dozen red roses.
"I'm sorry," the clerk said. "This man just ordered our last bunch."
The desperate customer turned to me and begged, "May I please have those roses?"
"What happened?" I asked. "Did you forget your wedding anniversary?"
"It's even worse than that," he confided. "I crashed my wife's hard drive!"
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).