October 2007 Topics  









    Past articles  









    Past Online Informers  









    October 2007 Topics  









    Actrix contact info  









    October 2007 Topics  









    Essential sites  









    October 2007 Topics  









    Quote of the month  

"The Internet is a shallow and unreliable electronic repository of dirty pictures, inaccurate rumours, bad spelling and worse grammar, inhabited largely by people with no demonstrable social skills."

- Adam's list, an unconfirmed but highly trusted secondary source










    October 2007 Topics  















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.

Questions and comments about the Actrix Online Informer can be e-mailed to editor@actrix.co.nz
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to support@actrix.co.nz.

Actrix - New Zealand's first Internet Service Provider

Welcome to the October Actrix Online Informer!

Welcome to the October Actrix Online Informer.

I hope there's an article here that is of interest to you. If not, skip on down to the Interesting Sites and move on.

Unfortunately, and for the first time since 1999, we have to announce that we will be skipping an issue. Due to circumstance beyond my control I will be out of action for a month and unable to produce the November Online Informer. Hardened Informer addicts will have to hold out until about this time in December. I'm sorry about that, but at least I'll be back in time to wish you all a merry Christmas.

Rob Zorn

Daylight Savings changes 2007

As you are probably aware there have been changes to the Daylight Savings law in New Zealand which will take effect this year. Clocks will go forward an hour a week earlier than usual - on the last Sunday in September (29th) - and back an hour on the first Sunday in April (6th), instead of the third Sunday in March.

What you may not be aware of is that your computer may not automatically adjust the time for these changes unless it has been updated. What is required to update your computer varies from system to system but we have compiled a few basic tips available in the Help section of the Actrix web site. Click Here to go there now.

Some more good, free downloads 

Last month we did a quick round-up of some free programmes you can download from the Internet to use instead of others you might normally have to pay for. As promised, this month, we've included a few more.

Check last month's article for more information about why some programs are free.

RoboForm (www.roboform.com/): This program was suggested by John Mayes after a recent article on password security. It's a great approach to the problem of generating and remembering a variety of passwords. The passwords are accessible direct from the browser in encrypted form and it is only necessary to remember a master password. There is a limited free version but the paid version is cheap. According to the website it was named PC Magazine Editor's Choice, and CNET Download.com's Software of the Year. It's spyware free, and people tend to say good things about it if you Google it. 2.7 Megabytes to download.

Spybot - Search & Destroy (www.safer-networking.org/en/index.html): Spybot - Search & Destroy detects and removes spyware, the nasty programs that track your surfing behaviour to create a marketing profile that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies. There's a pretty good tutorial at the website to show you how to make the program work, and there's also a list of all the application's features. It can also clean usage tracks if you don't want others using your computer to see what you have been working on. About 7 megabytes to download.

FreeMind (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page): Here's something a little out of the ordinary, but still quite useful. Freemind is a mind mapping software program which lets you brainstorm and link together ideas quickly, creating maps of concepts similar to what you might do on a whiteboard. It could be quite useful when putting together ideas for a new project or organising a brainstorm  into a piece of writing. Much better than a pencil and paper, and there's a lots of information about the program's features at the web page. 7.8 megabytes to download.

Gadwin PrintScreen (www.gadwin.com/printscreen/?prnscr): Although you can easily capture an image of whatever is on your screen by just pressing the PrintScreen key, the image you're left with usually has to be edited down to get just the part of it you want. With a program like Gadwin PrintScreen, you can easily do this without having to worry about using another editing program. With Gadwin PrintScreen running, just press the PrintScreen Key, and up pops a console with your screen grab all ready to be edited. A number of nifty editing tools are included so you can crop, colour and re-size your image before saving it in a number of formats. Change the source to rectangular area and the program lets you select just a portion of the screen to capture.  4.5 megabytes to download.

Clipomatic (http://www.mlin.net/Clipomatic.shtml): Ever been working away and copied something to your computer's memory, only to find that you've forgotten and copied something else there when you go to paste it? Clipomatic is a clipboard cache program. It remembers what was copied to the clipboard and allows you to retrieve it, even after you've copied something else there instead. Clipomatic will automatically monitor your clipboard and record its changes. When you want to paste an old item, you just put the keyboard cursor where you would like to paste and press Ctrl-Alt-V. A menu pops up with your clips - you can select one with the mouse or with a single keystroke. The menu then disappears, and the item is pasted.

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The fantastic Fuel Card!

Save 4 cents per litre off the pump price every time you fill up at Caltex or Challenge, without having to go to the supermarket first!

Actrix is the exclusive telecommunications partner for Fuel Card provider CardPlus. So as an Actrix customer you can get a CardPlus Fuel Card and receive a range of great benefits:

  • An everyday fuel discount card.
  • 4 cents per litre discount off the pump price for petrol and diesel.
  • Half price car wash. Based on 12 carwashes per year, this saves $42.
  • The fuel card entitles you to exclusive extra value vouchers on tyres, coffee, window repairs, brakes & exhausts and pizzas, that entitles you to extra savings of over $100. Plus $1,000 off all cars, 4x4 wagons and utes from AutoSelect.
  • No supermarket purchase necessary.
  • Up to 40 days free credit.
  • No transaction fees.
  • Can have multiple cards linked to one account.
  • Only $10 annual card fee.

You must be an Actrix customer in order to receive the card. Find out more on our website and sign up!

The Spam Act 2007

The Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act 2007 (Spam Act) came into effect on 5 September 2007, and there has been some concern from a number of quarters, particularly those in business, about its implications. There have been some misunderstandings, too, to the extent that some people are worried they might be liable for a $200,000.00 fine for sending an e-mail to Aunty Doreen that she didn't ask for.

While there are some legitimate concerns for people in business who market their products electronically (not necessarily a bad thing), most of us don't have anything to worry about. The Act only applies to commercial electronic emails or text messages; that is those that promote or market goods or a services.

So, to be clear, the Spam Act does not make it illegal to send unsolicited messages. In fact, section 6 of the Act, after defining what a commercial message is, gives some examples of what one isn't. It is fine, for example, for an organisation to send e-mails to its members about such matters as the status of their membership. An email from a club to its members about the club's recent activities is also fine, providing goods or services are not being marketed at the same time.

The Act is also concerned about how mailing lists are derived. They can't be harvested, for example, which refers to software trawling the Internet looking for e-mail addresses. Obviously, such addresses would belong to people who have had no opportunity to express their consent to receive messages so e-mailing or texting them would amount to nuisance.

Commercial messages can be sent to people who have given their consent to receive them, and the meaning of consent is reasonable in the Act. Besides the obvious "express consent" there is also what is known as "inferred consent."

If someone sees my email address on a website that includes a description of my position and business activity, and there is nothing on the site that forbids electronic contact, then it is perfectly legitimate for that person to send me a commercial email or text as long as the message is relevant to my advertised business activity. It would not be legitimate for my email address to be sent messages offering to sell me Viagra, or the secrets of Shamanism or whatever.

If you are going to send someone an electronic message that is commercial in nature, and you're sure you have their express or inferred consent (be careful here because the onus in on you to prove they consented), there are some new requirements. Your email or text message must clearly state who the email comes from, and how the organisation and the person sending the message can be contacted.

The email must come with an unsubscribe function that works in the same way as the message. In other words, if your message is an email, they must be able to unsubscribe by email. If it's a text, they must be able to unsubscribe by text. Requests to unsubscribe must be actioned by the sending party  within five days.

So, to conclude, if you're in business and you use texts or emails to market your products, you should definitely have a read of the Act and possibly get some legal advice. It's not too long or difficult, and is available online here: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/browse_vw.asp?content-set=pal_statutes (under U in the index on the left of the page).

If you regularly send emails out to a database of people, but the emails aren't commercial in nature (e.g. club or organisation newsletters) then you shouldn't have anything to worry about. Just make sure the people receiving them are all members, or have consented to receive the newsletters if they're not.

You would also be advised to add an unsubscribe function to your email or text so that anyone not wanting to keep hearing from you can quickly and easily let you know. After all it's not just about what you can and can't do legally - it's also about avoiding being a nuisance.

Lastly, there is a lot more to the Spam Act than is covered here, and this brief article is not intended to provide an exhaustive overview. Any decisions you make about sending electronic messages should be based on your own understanding of the Act and legal advice as appropriate.

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The CA Security Suite is here!

Actrix provides Virus and Spam protection for you on our e-mail servers, however we also recommend you run security software on your own PC too. After all, you can never be too safe, and net-nasties can come to you in other ways than via email.

Actrix has partnered with Computer Associates to provide you the CA Security Suite. The CA Internet Security Suite provides excellent protection against viruses, hackers, identity thieves, spyware, spam, offensive websites and other online nasties in one easy to use package.

Sign-up now for a free 30 day free trial! We're so confident in the CA product that if you're not happy and wish to cancel within 30 days there will be no charge.

The CA Security Suite includes:

  • Anti-Virus Detects 100% of viruses (Certified by Virus Bulletin)
  • Anti-Spyware Targets spyware before it targets you
  • Personal Firewall Stops intruders cold
  • Anti-Spam Blocks unwanted spam
  • Parental Control keeps offensive websites out
  • Free phone and e-mail support from the Actrix helpdesk, and access to the CA website.

Just install the modules that you want. All this for just $6.95 per month. You can find out a little bit more and sign up at our website here.

Readers' forum

If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send us 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).


Steve writes: I enjoyed the password article in a recent Online Informer. It said we couldn't use non-numeric/non-alphabetic characters except "_", "-" and "+" because Actrix's system [NOW] doesn't allow that. I'm interested in know WHY the whole range of those other characters has been barred.

Hi Steve, Certain non alpha-numeric characters could potentially be used by clever hackers to insert code fragments into the username or password system which are then run to do unwanted things. This is why we have placed limitations on the characters that can be used. The chances of potential disruption are negligible but removal of unnecessary characters reduces the risk. We still believe there are more than enough options without them to create a good, strong password.

There are security features and programming techniques that could be employed to counteract the potential exploitation of non alpha-numeric characters but, as with most computer security systems, they are only secure until an ingenious individual thinks of a way to thwart or by-pass them. Keeping up-to-date with security techniques, patches, etc is the most common and reliable defence (and we certainly do that), but removing the legitimate use of the characters themselves takes this one step further.


Donna writes: When I log in I don't automatically get the Actrix site. I get toggle instead. Why?

Hi Donna, I'm guessing you're referring to the website that first comes up when you go onto the Internet with your browser. This is a personal setting on your computer that is very easy to change. If you use Internet Explorer, click Tools and then Internet options. The Internet options box will come up, and the very first setting on the General tab is for your Home page. Simple replace whatever is there with http://www.actrix.co.nz.

If you're using Firefox, the setting is found under Tools/Options/Main.


I have two computers, one a lap top and the other a desk top. Is there any way of having the same contents from the "Inbox" and "Sent Items" in both computers?  Thanks Allistair

Hi Allistair, yes, there is a way. What you can do is set the email programs on each of your computers to use IMAP rather than POP as the mail type. POP (short for Post office Protocol) downloads your mail to your local email program and then deletes it from your mailbox on the Actrix mail server. IMAP, on the other hand, leaves it all there so that you can see it when you connect to your mailbox from a different computer (but make sure that one is also set to IMAP or it will download and delete your mail when it connects).

IMAP has some real advantages, not the least of which is the ability to check your mail from different computers. Any subfolders you create using IMAP to store your different e-mails in are actually created on the server, so they'll also be there when you connect from your other computer.

You can also set your mail program to save your sent items in a Sent Items folder on the server. This means that everything you send from one computer will also be there in that same Sent Items folder on the server when you access your mail from a different computer. Unfortunately, I have found, that Outlook refuses to do this, however. It saves sent items in a local folder regardless of whether or not I set it to save them in the server-based Sent Items folder. This means I can't access my sent items from different computers. I have found that Thunderbird does it very well, though.

IMAP has some disadvantages, too. The main one is that it tends to mean you need a very large inbox, and you may find yourself having to pay for extra space very soon. The standard size for your Actrix mailbox is 100Mb. This may seem like a lot, but you'll find you fill it very soon, especially if you're creating lots of subfolders and storing emails with attachments. You can upgrade to more space for reasonable fees. See: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=65.

Changing to IMAP is a little more complicated than I've made it sound here, so you may want to do a little further research on your own by googling "POP or IMAP" or something. You may want to start here: http://www.entourage.mvps.org/glossary/pop_imap.html.

You'll find the settings for POP or IMAP under Tools/Accounts in most email programs.


Steve writes: I've got this 'browser warning' popping up on my screen which suggests I download some programme or something that will clean my computer out, which I didn't realise was dirty. Have you heard of it and what is it? thanks Steve

Hi Steve,

These sorts of pop-ups used to be really common before browsers came with built-in pop-up blocking, and you're right to be wary of anything that pops up inviting you to download something. Commonly these warnings say you've got spyware on your machine, so please download our spyware tool. What they don't tell you is that the spyware tool is in fact spyware, adware or whatever. It may even be something much worse, such as a virus or trojan which will open your machine up to someone else's control.

I have a number of recommendations.

  1. Don't even download anything that comes by way of a pop-up invitation.
  2. Do download and run either Ad-aware or Spybot (mentioned in this month's free programs round up), or even better, sign up to try the CA Security Suite.
  3. Turn your pop-up blocker on. In Explorer this setting is under Tools/Popup blocker. In Firefox it's under Tools/Options/Content/Block pop up Windows.
  4. Have your Windows Firewall turned on (Start/Control Panel/Security Centre) or make sure you have a third party firewall installed such as Zone Alarm. Firewalls stop remote computers connecting to you without your knowledge.
  5. Make sure you have an anti-virus program installed - see the free software list from last month's newsletter, or even better, sign up to try the CA Security Suite. These should warn you if you're about to install something undesirable.


Barbra writes: I have Kodak Easyshare software. To download 'Picasa' do I have to go into Add/Remove and uninstall the Kodak Easyshare Software? I have been told 'Picasa' is much easier to use.

Hi Barbara, This one's outside our Internet expertise in that we just don't know about what peculiarities there might be with any software you have installed. But as a generalisation, Picasa is fine to download and use beside any other imaging/photography software, and you shouldn’t have to remove the Kodak stuff before you can download and use it. If you do want to uninstall the Kodak software, make sure first that you don't need it to get the photos down off your camera!

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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!

Simpsonise yourself
http://simpsonizeme.com/ - Ever dreamed of being a guest star, or even a regular on The Simpsons? Yeah, me too. Well, here's the next best thing. You can upload a photo and have it "simpsonised". Then just tweak it a bit and there you are. Okay, the eventual likeness will probably be pretty lame, and I doubt they base it much on the photo you upload, but it's as close as most of us are ever going to get.
World beard and moustache championships
www.worldbeardchampionships.com/Gallery/gallery.html - This is the gallery of cntestants and champions from the latest World Beard and Moustache Championships. There's some real talent there, as you will see. If you'd like to find out more about the competition and maybe get yourself entered, you can find out more at the homepage here: http://www.worldbeardchampionships.com/.
You are exactly here
www.atlasoftheuniverse.com/universe.html - The universe is big, like really, really big - so big that the stuff we're seeing at the very edges happened 14 billion years ago. This site attempts to give you a bird's eye view, and then lets you zoom in until you eventually get to the Milky Way, and then our sun. It's quite mind-boggling.
From abracadabra to zombis
http://skepdic.com/contents.html - This site, courtesy of the Skeptics Dictionary, has scientists debunking just about everything. Nothing is spared, not even angel therapy, feng shui, the face on Mars, ouija boards, numerology and Amway.
Left-handers day
www.lefthandersday.com/index.html - Left handers day was August 13, so we're a bit late with this one. It's a site dedicated to the annual celebration of left-handers' superiority. All year round they "fit in with home and office layouts designed for right-handers' comfort, put up with doors, cookers, sinks, computer mice, keyboards and desks that are efficient for right-handers to work at etc" so I guess it's only fair that we let them have a website.
21 ways to add more hours to the day
www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/21-ways-to-add-more-hours-to-the-day.html - "A twenty five hour day isn’t coming any time soon. As long as your feet stay planted on the ground here, twenty four is all you’re going to get. However, with a bit of skill you can squeeze out a couple more hours to add to your day. Here's how."
Dine Out New Zealand
www.dineout.co.nz - Browse restaurants for amateur reviews, and sign-up to leave your own. "When it comes to dining out, it's always very easy to stick with what you know. Trying somewhere new can be a bit hit and miss - you don't want to pay out good money for a mediocre experience, or mismatch the restaurant to the occasion. How can you minimise the mediocre and maximise the great dining experiences?"
How do people think of these things?
http://www.atelier-v.ch/umdenken/sites/06.html - They say that necessity is the motherhood of invention, but that doesn't explain these inventions. Most are for things to use instead of stuff that could be bought cheaply and for much less trouble. There's something about many of the ideas that you just have to admire, though. Unfortunately, the site is in German, so most of us will have to get the idea from the pictures.
Games for the brain
www.gamesforthebrain.com/ - Are you really smart but in need of a bit of humbling? These games should do the trick. Particular favourites for me are Counterfeit where you have to spot the difference in paintings that appear not have any differences, and Masterpieces where your memory of which paintings came in which order is humiliated. Lots of fun ways to keep yourself occupied for a while all by yourself.


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Businesses 'may not need web': Sir Gil Simpson told the Small Business Expo at the Christchurch Convention Centre yesterday that it was not economic for some businesses to have a website. Click here for more.

Spam law brings more junk mail: Consumers are being inundated with last-ditch, mass spamming efforts as companies seek permission to keep sending them messages after a new anti-spam law kicks in. Click here for more.

Net dater cons lonely women: An unemployed transient swindled lonely and vulnerable women he met on the internet out of thousands of dollars. Click here for more.

NZ spies uncover cyber attacks: Government departments' websites have been attacked, information has been stolen and hard-to-detect software has been installed that could be used to take control of computer systems, Security Intelligence Service director Warren Tucker said. Click here for more.

Depressed offered online treatment: University of Otago researchers are trialling online depression treatment in a programme that coincides with World Suicide Day today. Click here for more.

Blog: Trade Me's travel play: Trade Me's long-anticipated travel website, Travelbug, went live yesterday with listings from around 1500 travel providers around the country. Click here for more.

Flood of spam complaints for Internal Affairs team: The Government's anti-spam team received 155 complaints from the public about spam e-mails during the first week that the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Act was in force. Click here for more.

China denies role in NZ cyber attack: The Chinese Government denies it is involved in attempts to hack into New Zealand Government computer systems - despite strong hints that its spies' activities had been detected. Click here for more.


Anorexics snared in web trap: Dangerous eating disorders are being promoted and glorified on popular social networks such as Facebook and YouTube - and health experts feel powerless to stop it. Click here for more.

When the net is watching you: Click reporter David Reid asks why search engines are so keen to keep hold of our personal data. Click here for more.

Online shrines for 'death networking': With online sperm and egg trade and social networking sites like Bebo, Facebook and MySpace, we already create and date on the Internet - so why not "cremate" online too? Click here for more.

State of Play: The game of love: People play games for many reasons, but increasing numbers are finding that they are a great way to size up potential partners. Click here for more.

New tool mines Wikipedia trustworthiness: Because anyone can edit Wikipedia, the Web encyclopedia's reliability varies wildly. Now a computer science professor hopes to give users a better baloney detector: software that flags questionable lines in Wikipedia entries. Click here for more.

Women say no to pink tech toys: Advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi has put down in black and white what plenty of women around here have been thinking for ages: we want technology but we don't want it coloured pink or encrusted with fake gemstones. Click here for more.

Online buddies are fair weather friends: Having a huge network of online buddies does not mean you have any more close friends than the rest of us, a British researcher said. Click here for more.

BT set to study internet novices: BT is setting up an initiative to find out why some people resist using the internet. The project will employ psychologists to closely study a small group of people to reveal what stops them joining the net-using majority. Click here for more.

Chinese man dies after three-day internet session: A Chinese man dropped dead after playing internet games for three consecutive days, state media said, as China seeks to wean internet addicts offline. Click here for more.

Websites let anybody be banker to world's poor: Fuelled by last year's Nobel Prize for a man nicknamed "banker to the poor," microlending to small businesses in the world's poorest countries is booming as individuals discover they can be their own mini World Bank. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Honesty the best online policy: Regular columnist Bill Thompson says firms should tell customers when their computer security has been breached. Click here for more.

Cyber crime tool kits go on sale: Malicious hackers are producing easy to use tools that automate attacks to cash in on a boom in hi-tech crime. Click here for more.

"Storm worm" adds millions of computers to botnet: The authors behind a specific strain of malware are trying every trick in the book to get users to succumb to their ill-meaning plans. You name it, they've used it: weather news, personal greetings, reports that Saddam Hussein is still alive, reports that Fidel Castro is dead, sexy women, YouTube, and even blogs. The group seems hellbent on creating the largest botnet to date, and they just might do it. Click here for more.

Simple plan to beat hackers: A Kiwi company says it has come up with a new way of linking computers over the internet that it believes could turn it into another Google. Click here for more.

China warns of virus-tainted e-cards: China has warned internet users to be wary of downloading virus-infected mooncake greeting cards ahead of the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival after a wave of internet worms hit hard-drives last year. Click here for more.

Hi-tech crime 'is big business': Internet crime has become a major commercial activity, reveals a report by computer security company Symantec. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Computers will get more personal says Microsoft UK boss: William Gibson, the godfather of cyberspace, said recently that the increasing rate of technologically driven change meant that even he found it difficult to predict what the future might look like. Click here for more.

Unix, Linux and Open Source

Flaw Still Shadows Firefox: Sometimes it takes more than one or even two kicks at the can to fix a security issue even when the source code is open. Click here for more.

The Weird, Weird Web

Kung fu monks battle gobby net ninja: Monks at China's Shaolin Temple are vociferously demanding an apology from an anonymous Japanese internet user who suggested that a single ninja had once whupped the asses of the kung fu masters at the martial art's spiritual home. Click here for more.

Linking President to penis could put Pole in prison: A Polish computer programmer could face up to three years in jail for linking a Polish word for penis to the presidential website. Click here for more.


It was five years ago today

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.

Spam Versus Technology: The Battle Rages On: Everyone with an e-mail account receives the entreaties: A deposed prince needs a reliable bank account in which to stash his loot; a marketing genius wants to share his method for securing easy riches; and, of course, an amateur cameraman has caught Britney Spears doing something she insists is beyond the pale of her experience. Click here for more.

Hey Buddy, PayPal Me a Quarter?: Next time you have a few bucks to spare, how about giving it to a woman who needs cash to divorce her husband? Or the theater student who wants to make films "in the tradition of Jackass," MTV's raunchy stunt/comedy show? Click here for more.

Keeping women in the tech industry: While initiatives to recruit more females in the tech industry have received publicity, one UK Government committee has suggested that more also needs to be done to retain women. Click here for more.

Bringing it all back home

Rob ZornThanks 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 (support@actrix.co.nz) or to the Accounts Department (accounts@actrix.co.nz).

Take care through October!

Rob Zorn


Copyright © 2007 Actrix Networks Limited | Contact: editor@actrix.co.nz