June 07 Topics
Individual articles from Past Actrix Online Informers are
archived in alphabetical order.
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"The Internet? Is that thing still around?"
June 07 Topics
"You know you're a geek when... You try to shoo a fly away from the monitor with your cursor. That just happened to me. It was scary."
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"Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals
dying of nothing."
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The Actrix Online Informer is published each month to help keep
Actrix customers up-to-date with what's happening on the Internet, and to
help ensure they have every opportunity to benefit from it.
Actrix - New Zealand's first Internet Service Provider
Welcome to another Actrix Online Informer. This month we feature an article on backing up your e-mails and other important documents. We'll follow this in later months with some shorter product reviews. There's also a bit of news about some Actrix products: Hardware and the coming CA Security Suite. Have a look at these and keep your eye on our website for more information about the CA Security Suite. We'll let you know as soon as it's available.
Oh, and there are changes coming for the Actrix website itself as well. Just you wait and see.....
There's nothing worse than that sinking feeling when you realise that you've just deleted an important e-mail, or saved the wrong version of a file over another file that you've spent weeks working on. "If only I'd made a back-up!" you scream. "If only I could turn back time!"
Backups are something we really only think about when it's too late. They're something we always plan to get around to sorting, but somehow, most of us never do. Perhaps this article, and material to come in later Online Informers will prompt you to take some action before you have that inevitable melt-down at the worst possible time.
There are several back up options available ranging from automated online backup services, to third party programs to a little known back up program that comes as part of Windows XP. This month we'll have a look at a manual way to back your stuff up, as well as the automated back up/restore wizard that comes as part of XP. In subsequent months we'll include some short reviews of other programs and services you could also consider.
Doing it manually
Fortunately, Outlook Express, which most of us use, stores all your e-mails and address book as files on your computer, and you can find them easily enough so that they can be copied onto a floppy, flash drive, portable hard drive or DVD/CD manually. While you're there you can also grab copies of any important files in My Documents (or anywhere else) and also copy them to your back up.
The first thing to think about is what to put your backed up files on, and what to do with them once you've done that. I'd recommend either a portable USB flash drive or a USB portable hard drive. Both can be easily plugged into and out of your USB ports and are reasonably cheap compared with the cost of lost data. Prices for various sizes of flash drive (suitable for smaller backups) are available from Actrix Hardware here. If you have lots of data to save, a portable hard drive will have a lot more room. Prices and choices are available here.
Other options include writing to a CD or DVD, but these involve slightly more hassle.
Once you have your data backed up onto something, you need to think about what to do with it. Keeping it in a nearby drawer will mean your data is recoverable if your computer fails, but that might not be much help if your house burns down, or you have a significant theft. It's best to get the data to another location. You could take it to work (or home if you're backing up stuff at work) or give it to a friend to keep, for example.
Best of all, use a remote service where you can upload your backups to someone else's secure servers, but we'll get to that later.
Finding your files
This can be the fun part. Outlook Express saves your email in what are known as .dbx files. When you find these on your hard drive, there will be a .dbx file for each of the mail folders you have created in Outlook Express. These are kept in a folder somewhere under your personal settings. If you want to look for them manually, use Windows Explorer to look under Documents and Settings, your user account name on your computer, then Local Settings/Application data/Identities/. Somewhere in there you should find a folder called Outlook Express that will house your .dbx files.
Windows can be set to hide important files, and you may not be able to find your Outlook Express files if this setting is on. To unhide your files, go to Control Panel/Folder options/ and select the View tab. Make sure the dot is in the "Show hidden files and folders" radio button.
If you can't find your .dbx files manually, you can set Windows to search for them, but your files must be unhidden, or Search won't find them. Right-click on your Start button and select Search. Put *.dbx in the "File or Folder Name" field (the * indicates we're looking for all .dbx files) and select My Computer in the "Look in" field. Click Search and Windows should grind away until it finds and displays the folder containing your .dbx files. Make a note of where they are so you can find them more easily next time.
To back these files up, simply right-click on each one and copy them to memory. Next, scroll down your folder list and right-click to paste them to you portable flash or hard drive. If you ever need to restore them, say after a crash, just reverse this process and copy them back from your portable drive to your .dbx folder.
You can use the same process for backing up other important documents. Simply use Windows Explorer to browse to your My Documents folder (or wherever else you put your important stuff) and copy and paste to your portable drive the documents you want to back up. If you're going to be doing this regularly, you may want to think about putting the target files in the same directory in My Documents so that you only have to copy and paste a single folder.
If you're a manual sort of person you could do this once per week, and it wouldn't take up too much time. However, there are automated ways to do it under Windows XP.
The Automatic XP way.
Windows XP comes with its own backup program. It is installed automatically with XP Professional, but XP Home users (probably most of us) will have to install it from our Windows CD. If it's installed already you will find it under Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Backup. If it's not there, you'll need to follow the following procedure to install it:
Once installed, the Backup program should appear in the System Tools folder explained above, and you can click it to start the program.
Click Next to skip past the opening page, choose Back up files and settings from the second page, and then click Next. You should see the dialogue box shown below which will allow you to choose what to back up.
You might be tempted to click All information on this computer so that you can back up every bit of your data. Think twice before choosing this option, though, as your backup will probably add up to many gigabytes, and you'd probably be backing up a heap of unnecessary stuff.
For most people, the My documents and settings option is a better choice. This preserves your data files (including e-mail messages and address books) and the personal settings stored in the Windows Registry. If you have lots of stuff to back up (and you'll be surprised at how quickly it mounts up) this option may leave you with a back-up file that's too big for a flash drive, and if you want to take the backup off the computer, you may need to think about a portable hard drive.
If several people have user accounts on your computer, you could select Everyone's documents and settings. This option backs up personal files and preferences for every user with an account on the computer. Again, you're probably going to end up with a pretty big file.
If you know that you have data files stored outside your profile or you just want to back up a few important files, click Let me choose what to back up. This option takes you to the Items to Back Up page shown in the next image.
This option doesn't automatically find your e-mail files, so you will need to know where they are and browse to them yourself, but it does allow you to easily find other important documents such as those within your My Documents folder, and you can select individual files to include in your back up.
Select the My Documents check box to back up all the files in your personal profile, or you can double-click each item on the left to expand it, and then check the folders or files you want to save over on the right. This is advisable if you want to reduce the size of your backup file by not including stuff that isn't important to you.
Decide where to store your backup
After you've selected all the files you want to back up, click Next, and Windows will ask you to specify a backup location. Backup assumes you're going to save everything in a single file; you just have to choose a location for that file and give it a name.
By default, Backup proposes saving everything to your floppy drive (drive A). Although that might have made sense 10 years ago, it's hardly a rational choice today as you'd need a caseload of 1.44Mb diskettes for the average backup.
Instead, your best bet is to click Browse and choose any of the following locations:
After you've chosen a backup location, enter a name for the file, and click Next and then Finish to begin backing up immediately.
Setting an automatic backup scheduleIf you think you're organised enough, you can repeat these steps once a week and perform regular backups when you're ready. If you're not sure you'll remember, you can set up an automatic backup schedule. To do this, don't click Finish as mentioned above. Instead, click the Advanced button. Leave the Backup type as Normal and click Next. Leave the How to Backup page as it is. Don't disable the Shadow copy box, for example, as this allows files to be backed up even if you're working on them.
Click Next until you come to the When to Back Up page. Choose Later, and then click Set Schedule to open the Schedule Job dialogue box shown in the figure right.
This example shows the settings for a weekly backup on Friday afternoon at 5:30 (just about the time you're pouring your first gin and tonic). You can set almost any schedule you want by poking around in the extensive set of options available in this dialog box. After you click OK to save your changes, Windows XP runs the backup automatically at the specified time. Just remember to leave your computer turned on!
Of course, should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to restore something from back up, open the XP Backup program and choose Restore files and settings rather than Backup files and settings. This will allow you to browse to your most recent back up, and restore things to the way that were at that time.
Next month we'll have a look at an online backup service or two. These allow you to download programs that will automatically connect to remote servers and back your stuff up off site. It costs, but it sure is handy!
For this article I acknowledge the Windows XP Backup Made Easy tutorial by Ed Bott, from which some of what is included here has been adapted.
If you haven't checked out Actrix Hardware yet, you really should!
We first got the idea of setting up a special site like this for our customers because of the demand for all the sorts of equipment required to run at full speed on the Internet, but we thought we'd take it a step further and lots of other computer related hardware as well. Customers can purchase PCs, laptops, MP3 players, TVs, projectors, digital cameras, memory cards and anything else they need.
We have had a great response to the site so far. We would like to thank those customers that have already visited, and all newcomers, by continuing our opening special of a 5% discount on all items sold until the end of June.
Even though your e-mail is protected from viruses and spam by software on our servers, we still recommend you run security software on your own PC too. After all, you can never be too safe, and some viruses and malware can get to you by ways other than through e-mail.
Actrix has now partnered with Computer Associates to provide customers with the CA Internet Security Suite. The CA Internet Security Suite provides comprehensive protection against viruses, hackers, identity thieves, spyware, spam, offensive websites and other online threats that can jeopardise your privacy, your data, and your PC's performance. It combines easy-to-use, award-winning, business-strength technology with preconfigured settings and automatic updates that take the guesswork out of keeping your PC safe. The CA Security Suite is installed on your PC and runs unobtrusively in the background keeping you safe from Internet Nasties.
The CA Security Suite includes:
* Certified by Virus Bulletin
There are some system requirements, but most people's PCs should be able to run the software without problems. To make it even easier for you to have the best security protection there is no large up front cost. The suite will be available to all Actrix customers for $6.95 per month and will do away with your need for any other security or filtering programs.
The CA Security Suite will be available within the next few weeks. Keep
your eye on our website (www.actrix.co.nz)
for more information, and an announcement about availability.
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).
Sue writes: Hi Ed We have dial up connection but we are wanting broadband. Do we go through Actrix or Telecom? Please let me know how we go about everything. Regards, Sue.
Hi Sue. If you are wanting to sign up for broadband, you can definitely do it through Actrix. In fact, we positively encourage it, and there's no need to go to Telecom at all. Our broadband plans start off at $27.95 depending on what you want, and can be found at the following link: http://www.actrix.co.nz/domestic/highspeed/cyberjet.php.
Please feel free to have a browse through the above mentioned information, and if you wish to sign up for broadband simply click on one of the "Sign Up" buttons and it will take you through the online sign up form. We've tried to make the information as simple as we can, but if you would like us to help clarify what anything means, give our helpdesk a call on 0800 228 749 and one of the team will be glad to help out. If you can give us an indication of how fast you want your connection to be, and how much you use the Internet, we can make some plan recommendations.
Here's a little background:
Graeme writes: How do I change my Autofill password (which I've forgotten)? I use Internet Explorer. Thanks, Graeme
Hi Graeme, When you enter a user name and password at a website, Internet Explorer may ask if you want it to remember them for next time. Click on Yes and it will automatically fill in the password next time you enter that user name. But if you put a tick in the "Don't offer to remember any more passwords" box that pops up at the same time, then Internet Explorer will stop asking you. You can turn this feature on and off by clicking Tools/Internet Options. Select the Content tab, click on the AutoComplete button, and put a tick in Prompt me to save passwords.
To delete an individual saved password entry (if you have the feature turned on), go to the log in box on a web page and double-click the user name field. Your saved AutoComplete entries will drop down. Use the arrow keys to scroll to the one you want to delete, and press the Del key.
Unfortunately, there's no way to tell what the actual password you have saved is. If you really need to re-set that, you may need to contact the site you're logging into.
Pete writes: I'm using Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Vista. Out of the blue a dialog box sometimes appears stating: "Internet Explorer has stopped working." What's going on?
Hi Pete. This seems to be a known issue, and Microsoft say it is a problem caused by other non-Microsoft software. It is especially common for users who also have Omnipage pro installed (a type of character recognition program), though I'm not sure we can blame Omnipage as this never happened before, and it seems to happen for some people with Canon printers installed as well.
The Fix: Go into Control Panel, and choose "Internet Options", under the "Advanced" tab, press the "RESET" button at the lower right, then Ok.
Hopefully, upgrades to IE7 will fix this problem in the future.
(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!
|Free grid paper PDFs
www.incompetech.com/graphpaper/ - This is a free online service where you can design and produce PDFs of all sorts of different paper. One the PDF is generated, you can print it out and/or save it for future use. Options include music stave paper, graph paper, engineer's paper and many more. Set the size and colours of lines and objects yourself!
|Thinking chess machine
http://turbulence.org/spotlight/thinking/chess.html - Here's a site where you can play chess against a computer. The chessboard graphics themselves aren't very flash, but what is really interesting is that you can watch the computer out-think you. The visual thought-lines reveal how how quickly the machine finds out how best to humiliate you. It's intimidating!
www.attract-o-meter.com - Just how attractive are you really? Would you go out with you? Answer these questions honestly and you'll receive a numerical index of how alluring you are. "Are you catch of the day, or a smelly old trout?"
| At last, a real UFO!
www.coasttocoastam.com/gen/page2022.html?theme=light - "Last month (April 2007), my wife and I were on a walk when we noticed a very large, very strange 'craft' in the sky. My wife took a picture with her cell phone camera (first photo below). A few days later a friend (and neighbor) lent me his camera and came with me to take photos of this 'craft'. We found it and took a number of very clear photos." Well, the photos are very clear, and the story is compelling, but somehow I just don't know...
| Word allusions
www.officepredictor.com/mind/ - There are some clever word and visual tricks on this page. There's not a whole lot there, but you can click the link to "more stuff like this" at the bottom of the page to access more stuff like that - such as how sexy your name is, and what colours tell you about your personality. My goodness, where would we be without the Internet?
|10 totally stupid online business ideas that made someone rich
http://nichegeek.com/10_totally_stupid_online_business_ideas_that_made_someone_rich - These ideas are really dumb, and should never have worked. Or at least that's what we tell ourselves because we really wish we'd thought of them.
|The David Bain case
http://www.crime.co.nz/c-files.asp?ID=88 - Joe Karam's book made me think he probably didn't do it, but I don't think the evidence that Robin did it is all that compelling either. It's a fascinating case, and recent developments should keep us all talking around the water-cooler for a while. If you want to be in on the conversations but it's been a while since you read the books, this website should bring you back up to speed in no time.
|Dead fairy found
www.lebanoncircle.co.uk/DeadFairy.htm - I knew there were fairies at the bottom of my garden, and this should at last silence all those who thought I had become unhinged. What appears to be the mummified remains of a fairy have been found in Derbyshire, England. We've got wings, teeth, skin, and even flowing red hair. Hah! I think this story did appear around 1 April, though...
|Old house in the woods
www.timebomb2000.com/vb/showthread.php?t=242869 - Suppose you were walking through the woods, and you come across a huge old abandoned house. Would you go inside? Well this chap did, but he had permission, and was sensible about where he stepped. I don't know why it's so fascinating to go on a tour of an old dilapidated house, but it just is.
www.quiz.co.uk/ - Most of us love trivia quizzes. I think that's so because each question is an opportunity either to dazzle our friends with obscure knowledge even we don't know why we have, or to poke fun at our friends when they get answers wrong. If you're a quiz night regular, then sites like this one can help brush up your skills. Just google "trivia quiz" to find lots more.
Website to be set up for victims of hacking: New Zealanders will soon be able to report computer security breaches they have suffered such as hacks, viruses and trojans anonymously online. Click here for more.
InternetNZ dials up fresh push for Enum trial: InternetNZ will push again for a public trial of Enum, the phone numbering system which will help low-cost Internet calling reach the general public. Click here for more.
English wary of broadband plan: National Party deputy leader Bill English has ruled out supporting widespread government investment in national broadband infrastructure because it would "crowd out" existing operators. Click here for more.
Trade Me clocks up its 100,000,000th auction: The item was a cellphone pouch with characters from the animated movie The Nightmare Before Christmas. It sold for $10 through a "Buy now". Click here for more.
NZ has lots of hackers - report: There are more computer hackers per head of population in New Zealand than anywhere else apart from Britain, a new report on "cybervandalism" across 10 countries has found. Click here for more.
NZ music charts embrace legal downloads: Not before time, some might say, the official New Zealand Music Chart will begin logging sales of digital music. Click here for more.
ISPs to help more with spam: Internet service providers would have to warn customers and help them if they found out their computers had been hijacked and were being used to send out spam, under a voluntary code being put to ISPs by InternetNZ. Click here for more.
Spammers Are Due For A Surprise: Some of the worst spammers in the United States could be in for a rude surprise shortly, as Unspam Technologies has taken the first steps in tracking them down, with help from the ISPs. Click here for more.
Spammers Find New Ways Around Filters: The seemingly endless creativity and intense effort of spammers is as admirable as it is a waste of talent. As soon as spam filter vendors get the hang of blocking image-based spam, the spammers find a new method to completely invalidate it. Click here for more.
Under siege, users declare 'email bankruptcy': Despite the proliferation of email management gizmos such as the BlackBerry, some users are finding their growing inboxes so insurmountable they have been forced to declare bankruptcy. Click here for more.
Many more 'charged up by net than sex or chocolate': In his The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's internet is Killing our Culture and Assaulting our Economy (not, admittedly, a nifty title) Andrew Keen argues that the world is being wrecked by the glut of noisy views, "news" and the permissive licentiousness of the internet. Click here for more.
Web entrepreneur is a little too Keen on the bad aspects of the net: Web entrepreneur Andrew Keen's book The Cult of the Amateur: How Today's Internet is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy hasn't even hit the shelves yet and already it is causing rabid debate around the world. Click here for more.
E-mail 'Domesday Book' compiled: The library is asking everyone in the UK to forward an e-mail from their inbox or sent mail box representing their life or interests. Click here for more.
Global net use makes rapid rise: The net is helping to close the digital divide between industrialised nations, suggests a report. Click here for more.
Australian call for internet copyright laws: Australian laws must be drastically updated to protect consumers' rights to access information on the internet, says a legal expert. Click here for more.
Encyclopaedia to list all 1.8m species: From apples to zebras, all 1.8 million known plant and animal species will be listed in an internet-based 'Encyclopaedia of Life' under a $100 million project, scientists have said. Click here for more.
Schoolboy scammer caught again: A schoolboy convicted of swindling some £250,000 through internet scams has been caught again despite being out on bail and banned from selling goods. Click here for more.
Online retail 'years away' from saturation: E-commerce is moving "full steam ahead" and is years away from saturation, with double-digit growth expected for several years, according to an online retail industry report published today. Click here for more.
What is this thing called Web 2.0?: It has often been said by industry watchers that time flows faster when it comes to the development of the internet. Click here for more.
Finding myself through online identities: Today's online services give us new ways to decide who we are, says Bill Thompson. Click here for more.
Labor: Broadband central to Australia 2.0: Labor leader Kevin Rudd has reinforced the importance of a high-speed national broadband network, describing it as the missing cog in the nation's future economic wheel. Click here for more.
Young women dominate UK net scene: Young women are now the most dominant group online in the UK, according to new research from net measurement firm Nielsen/NetRatings. Click here for more.
Study: Web can encourage exercise: People who spend their days in front of a computer may want to check out some fitness-related Web sites, according to a study published Monday. Click here for more.
Global net censorship 'growing': The level of state-led censorship of the net is growing around the world, a study of so-called internet filtering by the Open Net Initiative suggests. Click here for more.
Google to list top 100 searches: The chart, part of the search system's trends service, will be refreshed several times a day using data from millions of searches, the company said. Click here for more.
Learning to Live With Spam: Pew research finds users have gotten smarter about spam and are learning to deal with it, in more ways than one. Click here for more.
Internet moms: Getting the best of both worlds: Superwoman? Perhaps. But Jenni is one of an increasing number of stay-at-home moms who are using the Internet to have it all. Click here for more.
Three gangs behind spam barrage: The barrage of spam that caused havoc with e-mail systems in New Zealand and worldwide last year was probably caused by three small gangs at most, says an anti-spam expert. Click here for more.
Virtual holidays - Not as good as the real thing: No passport is required, the flights are free and there's no carbon footprint. Gemma Bowes books a virtual package tour of cyberspace Click here for more.
Female Bloggers Face Threats: What Can Be Done?: "I will never feel the same. I will never be the same," Sierra wrote after the threats surfaced. Click here for more.
One in 10 web pages laced with malware - Google: A five-strong Google research team found that 450,000 pages, out of a sample of 4.5 million pages, contained scripts to install malicious code, such as Trojans and spyware on vulnerable PCs, the BBC reports. Click here for more.
A decade of online banking - and online fraud: "It's so much easier to steal from a bank online than to hire a Ford Cortina and put a stocking over your head... And there's no danger of a granny clobbering you over the head with her brolly." Click here for more.
Feeling left out? Get your PC infected today!: In an experiment, a security researcher bought a Google ad campaign to promote a site ostensibly offering to infest visitors' Windows PCs with computer viruses. Click here for more.
The evolution of a giant: Microsoft is showing signs that it is willing to evolve but it needs to do much more to survive in the networked age, argues Bill Thompson. Click here for more.
Is Microsoft Update Infecting You?: Tens of millions of Microsoft users get their security updates from the Microsoft Update service. But a researcher at security firm Symantec is alleging that users could potentially get something more than they bargained for. Click here for more.
Firefox giving Microsoft plenty to think about: Since its launch three years ago, Mozilla's Firefox web browser has shown the world that open-source software can challenge the establishment. Click here for more.
Firefox users urge Dell to preinstall the browser: With Dell's announcement that it will offer Ubuntu Linux on some systems, the petition to put Firefox on new PCs has climbed to second place on IdeaStorm. Click here for more.
Microsoft: Open Source Infringes on 235 Patents: Claims that the Linux operating system infringes on third-party patents have been around for years, as well as news that Microsoft owns a portion of those patents. Click here for more.
Judge in tech trial says he 'doesn't know what a website is': When an expert witness was called to testify on IT-related matters, the technologically-challenged legal beagle became worried. "Will you ask him to keep it simple?" Click here for more.
Each month we dredge through our archives to pull out stories from the Actrix Newsletter of exactly five years ago. Sometimes these stories will show just how much the net has changed in such a short time, and sometimes they'll be included just because they're interesting.
Pope gives Internet his blessing: Pope John Paul is putting his faith in the Internet. In his weekly address at St. Peter's Square Sunday, the 81-year-old Pontiff said: "I've decided, therefore, to propose a big new theme for this year: "The Internet - a new forum for proclaiming the Gospel." Click here for more.
Six arrested over 'Nigerian e-mail' fraud: Six people were arrested in South Africa over the weekend on suspicion of being involved in the infamous "Nigerian" e-mail and letter fraud. Click here for more.
XP Updates Start to P.O. Users: One of the purported user-friendly features of Microsoft's new operating system is turning out to be user-annoying. As many as three times a week, on average, XP users see a little window pop-up at the bottom of their computer screens announcing the availability of another new update for their system. Click here for more.
Thanks again for reading the Actrix Online Informer. 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 (email@example.com) or to the Accounts Department (firstname.lastname@example.org).