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.
Welcome to the December Actrix Online Informer!
Welcome to the December Actrix Online Informer.
I hope this issue finds you well, and that things are starting to gently wind down where you are. We should get another Informer out before the end of the year, and we'll wish you all the best for the holiday season then. It's been a good year for Actrix, and we hope it's been a good one for you too.
Congratulations to the following people who signed up to CA Security Suite and won a copy of NZ Monopoly Here and Now, the special Actrix Edition.
There are some things you just can't imagine ever happening. One of those would have been Dave Harding-Shaw leaving Actrix. Sadly, however, Dave will soon be moving to greener shores (well even more mountainous ones, anyway) and worked his last day on 23 November.
Dave has been with Actrix since way back in the early 90s when he was just a lad. In fact, I first came across him about then when, as an Actrix customer, I brought my computer in to have it looked at by the help desk (it was a small company, and you could do that in those days). This tall teenager sauntered in with green hair in the tallest punk-spikes I had ever seen. I think he was dragging an enormous skateboard behind him at the time.
These days he's traded the skateboard for several other vehicles, all of which go fast, but now he's leaving all that behind to devote himself to his other great passion – mountain-biking. He and Anna are off to Bolivia where he'll work as a guide to tourists, leading them through some of the most dangerous trails in the world. I can't imagine a job for which he would be better suited.
Actrix has grown a hundredfold or more since those early days, and Dave has always been in the middle of everything. In the words of our General Manager, George Reedy, he has made significant contributions to the success of the company. His knowledge, passion and support for everything will be hard to replace.
As a senior manager, Dave has been responsible for product development, customer services and business sales. He's led the implementation of our strategy for excellence in customer care and his dedication to high standards as been a big part of why we now excel in that area. He has also managed our communications with customers, upgraded our tolls offering, represented the company at forums dealing with Telecom, and dressed up as a skeleton for our last Friday 13th work gathering.
I know many customers have had dealings with Dave over the years, too, and will be sorry to see him go. If you want to wish him well, feel free to drop him a line at email@example.com.
And you never know; he may be back one day.
So Dave, tally ho, old boy, and look after yourself. We have no doubt you'll quickly make a lots of new friends over in South America (especially once you've learned the local word for beer) but whatever you do, don't forget your friends back here in God's Own.
So, it's that time of year again. All those Christmas presents to buy, and so little time to think and find inspiration. Well don't despair. There are heaps of websites out there to help you find the perfect gift, even for those friends and loved ones who already seem to have everything. I thought I'd round up a few of what I think are the most interesting (and if my friends and loved ones are reading, these are things I would like!). Check the websites for many, many more. All you need is a credit card and an internet connection!
Here is a seven-point summary on how to deal better with email. Please click here for the full article by Scott H Young which has a lot more information, including some suggestions for overcoming your email shortcomings.
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).
Jenny writes: Over the past few weeks I have had major problems with sending emails to people using Xtra as their provider. Sometimes they are received, but it is very spasmodic. Needless to say this is very frustrating. The messages appear to be sent - no non-delivery messages. Are you able to explain what the problem is?
Hi Jenny, What's happening is that some legitimate emails are being filtered off into the Xtra recipient's spam folder. If the Xtra recipient doesn't know to check that folder regularly, they may be missing a fair bit of legitimate mail. Xtra customers affected by this issue should be able to access these messages from their Spam folder. Alternately they can add your e-mail address to a list of approved senders to prevent legitimate messages being marked as Spam. It's not something we can do for them, but they should go to http://xtra.co.nz/help/0,,15013,00.html for Xtra's instructions on how to add an email address to a list of approved senders.
Xtra is aware of the issue and has referred all queries regarding email and spam filtering to Yahoo! Unfortunately Actrix is yet to receive any response from Yahoo! regarding this issue. We will continue to contact them until it has been resolved. The Internet Service Providers Association of New Zealand (ISPANZ) is also aware of the issue and Actrix is working with ISPANZ to find a resolution that will restore full email service between ISPANZ members and Xtra / Yahoo! customers.
For your/their convenience, here are the relevant questions and answers from the Xtra page on this issue.
Q. Email I was expecting is missing, what has happened to it?
Q. Many legitimate emails are going straight into the Spam inbox. How can I change this?
I hope that sheds some light on things.
Kevin writes: I'm using PowerDVD software to watch DVDs on my laptop. Unfortunately, an update to the software seems to have limited it to playing DVDs from only one region. As I have DVDs from both regions 2 and 4, this is a bit limiting. Is there anything I can do to undo these changes, or do you know of any other (inexpensive) software that would allow playing DVDs from multi-regions?
Hi Kevin, There are a number of free DVD players out there that ignore region coding. You could use Google to search for one, or put DVD player into the search box at www.sourceforge.net (a large repository of free software) and see what you get. I also asked our help desk guys whether they had any recommendations:
Rhys: I personally use a little program called DVD43. It sits in the system tray and removes the region settings (and decrypts) on the fly. So you could keep using PowerDVD to play your DVDs. Also check out http://www.videohelp.com/tools/sections/region-free-tools as it has a few other tools in case DVD43 doesn't work out.
Damian: It's not so much the DVD software limiting the playing of different regions, but the DVD drive itself. You are traditionally limited to changing the region code so many times before the last change becomes permanent. On PowerDVD and Windows, when you change between the zones, it warns you about this and I think it even counts down the amount of changes left.
It is possible to reflash some DVD drives but I don't know how successful that is these days with newer drives. However, there is some software out there that can bypass the restriction. See www.dvdidle.com/dvd-region-free.htm but it's about US $39.95 if you want to buy it (there's a 'lite' version that is cheaper but only plays for a few minutes).
Paul writes, Hi Rob, this may be of interest to readers of the Online Informer. Belarc Advisor will analyse your computer's operating system (OS), processor, system make/model, drives, display adaptors, printer/s among other (tech) things and create a report in your browser. The report details your virus protection and version, your network connection, IP address plus details and software keys for OS and installed programs. Checks your OS version and if Microsoft will advise if security patches are up to date. Is a freebie and the file download is 1.42MB. Handy to have all this info in one place.
http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html, Cheers, Paul
Thanks Paul. I've not used the program myself, but I have heard from others that it is pretty good, especially for getting an idea on why your computer might be behaving as if it were a little sick. -Ed.
Dave writes: I am thinking of taking up the Actrix broadband, $27.95 offer but please explain, what is meant by the term ”when bundled with Actrix Tolls”. Our tolls, both national and international, are currently with Telecom.
Brian Dennehy, from the Actrix Help Desk responds: Hi Dave, Thanks for your inquiry. "When bundled with Actrix Tolls" simply means that if you sign up for CyberJet as well as Actrix Tolls, then $27.95 is the discounted price of the plan. Without signing up for Actrix Tolls, the plan is $37.95. In other words, bundling the CyberJet plan with the Actrix Tolls service gives you a $10.00 discount on your CyberJet plan per month, and means that your toll calls will go via Actrix in future, rather than via Telecom. Please note, though, that you don't have to change your phone or number or anything. It's something that happens automatically as part of the process after you sign up to the bundled deal.
For a full list of the different plans that we have for CyberJet, please visit this link: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=144.
Also, for a list of our different Toll calling rates, please visit this link: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=49.
Hopefully that makes things clearer. Regards, Brian.
Another Paul writes: Here's an interesting site: Unit Converter - www.unit-conversion.info/.
Thanks Paul, I've added it to the Essential Sites section appearing to the left of each Actrix Online Informer. -Ed.
(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!
Moving movie moments for men
Woman: "Are YOU crying?"
Man: "Sniff; no, no, I just got some of this, ah, zesty popcorn powder in my eye. Uh, yeah. I'll be fine."
Here are 25 movie moments that could make men cry. Click on individuals in the array of small pictures for each one. There's a large image for each, as well as a description of the scene. For those men really out of touch with their feelings, there's even an explanation of why they should feel choked up.
Ye olde English sayings
www.rootsweb.com/~genepool/sayings.htm - Thanks Matt, for suggesting this one. Here you'll find a whole lot of reported origins for common English expressions such as "son of a gun", "turning the tables", and "eating humble pie". The site is open for comments, and lots of people write in challenging some of the origins or suggesting alternatives. This adds interest, but also suggests you should take what you read here with a "grain of salt".
rice with your vocabulary|
http://freerice.com/ - Here's a great quiz type site for people who enjoy words, or reckon they have a pretty good vocabulary. You're given an almost endless series of multiple choice questions about word meanings, and some are pretty difficult. Each time you correctly guess the meaning of a word, the site, via its advertisers, will donate ten grains of rice to the world's hungry. There's an FAQ page that explains how the system works.
The Last Supper in detail|
http://www.haltadefinizione.com/en/cenacolo/look.asp - Many of us may never get to see The Last Supper in our lifetimes, but this sort of web-programming means we can at least get to see it close up and in great detail! It takes a while to load, and may be a struggle on dialup, but once it's all there, slide the viewer over the image to look at the painting really close up. Zoom in or out as much as you want. And if you want more on some new codes and puzzles reportedly found within the painting, check this Discovery News story.
NY Girl of of my dreams|
www.nygirlofmydreams.com/ - New Yorkers rally to help online Romeo, went the Stuff headline: "A tale of online love inspired usually cynical New Yorkers this week to help a young man find the girl of his dreams after he spotted her on a crowded subway train." Read the story behind the site here. See boys? That's how it's done.
All my faves|
www.allmyfaves.com/ - Actually, this is a really good idea, and maybe you won't have to do it yourself since this guy's already done it for you. He's created a webpage which organises all his favourite websites in categories. Presumably he's set this up as his browser's homepage and as soon as he's online he can click to go wherever he wants. It's certainly more effective than using browser toolbars. Initially I included the site just because of the idea, but there are actually a lot of interesting links to click as well.
NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists
www.nzarh.org.nz/ - We've featured a site or two on religions of the world over the last couple of Online Informers, so Dave, one of our customers, has suggested we also feature one on rationalism. Sounds like a good idea to me. Visit the About and History pages to find out more about the Association, and then have a look around for the interesting and thought-provoking links. Looking for a marriage celebrant, but you don't want someone religious? You've come to the right place.
Gone but not forgotten|
www.fiftiesweb.com/dead/dead-people-2007.htm - Not sure whether a certain celebrity or politician is still alive? Here's a site where you can check who's still here and who's shuffled off this mortal coil. I'm not sure what would motivate someone to want to maintain a site such as this one, but hey, I'm not sure about a lot of things.
Universal decision maker|
www.sylloge.com/5k/entries/162/ - Should you or shouldn't you? It can be difficult to decide, and tossing a coin to come up with an answer is so last century. At this web page, you think of a decision you need to make and then click the Start button. A little 'Yes spider' and a little 'No spider' then start a race. In 10-15 seconds, the winning spider lets you know what you should do. I presume the code behind the site ensures a random result each time, but if you're really letting something like this make your decisions, then my guess is that doesn't really matter.
Time travelling email|
www.futureme.org/ - Ever wanted to email yourself in the future? Want to preserve a snapshot of who you are right now and have that arrive in your inbox in a year's time? At the Future Me site, you can do just that. What a great way to give yourself a surprising chuckle (or wake-up call) in the future, because you'll probably forget you sent it. You can choose whether to make your email private, but what's also interesting is reading some of the 'public but anonymous' emails others have sent themselves.
What's been happening in the online world?
ISPs agree to block child porn websites: The Internal Affairs Department has begun working alongside Internet service providers to block access to websites dedicated to child pornography. Click here for more.
Council sells carbon credits on Trade Me: Palmerston North City Council is selling carbon credits on Trade Me, thought to be a New Zealand first for a local authority. Click here for more.
New Icann chairman is a Kiwi: Wellington barrister Peter Dengate Thrush doesn't expect his life to change much after being elected as the first non-American chairman of Icann, the US-based body that sets policy for the Internet addressing system worldwide. Click here for more.
Hacker apologises for skewing Herald free speech poll: A person has apologised for hacking an nzherald.co.nz poll on the state of freedom and free speech in New Zealand, wildly changing the result. The result of the poll - asking "Is NZ becoming a less free and democratic country?" - was running at about 80 per cent "yes". Click here for more.
New Zealand Broadband Result Encouraging: The Wireless and Broadband Forum are encouraged by the results of the latest OECD survey of Broadband Connectivity. While New Zealand had been languishing in the bottom quarter in recent years, the current position at 20 out of 30 is a vast improvement considering the massive initiatives being implemented in other countries. Click here for more.
Firm to monitor NZ's broadband: The Commerce Commission is contracting UK company Epitiro Technologies to measure the quality of broadband internet services provided in New Zealand. Click here for more.
Political webcasts in danger: Songs, videos and cartoons with a political edge are likely to fall foul of the Electoral Finance Bill if they are published in cyberspace. Click here for more.
EU seeks to outlaw internet terrorism: Inciting, recruiting and training for terrorism on the Internet will be made a criminal offence punishable by minimum sentences throughout the European Union under proposals to be adopted next week. Click here for more.
Saga launches networking site for the over-50s: Saga, a UK-based insurance and holiday company for the over-50s, has launched a social networking Web site for silver surfers in a bid to emulate the huge popularity of MySpace, Bebo and Facebook. Click here for more.
Loving the internet: Rather than looking for their perfect match, one in four Americans say the internet can serve as a substitute for a significant other, according to a poll. Click here for more.
Emailing 'all' among top office peeves: Work colleagues who spend their day gossiping, organising their home lives, or who press "reply all" on emails are among the biggest nuisances in the office, according to a new survey. Click here for more.
Woman murdered after answering Craigslist ad: A Minnesota woman was killed after answering a nanny job advertised on Craigslist. It is the first murder on the site, which offers free classified ads hawking just about anything you can imagine. Click here for more.
Spam scammer locked up: A New Jersey man was sentenced to more than two years in prison for helping send 'spam' e-mails to more than 1.2 million America Online subscribers. Click here for more.
Wikipedia not a publisher: A French judge has ruled that Wikipedia is not responsible for defamatory content it hosted on its website. The open source encyclopedia was facing action for damages from three people described as homosexual by the website. Click here for more.
Internet shoppers 'in the dark': Many consumers do not understand their rights or the potential risks when buying goods online, according to the Trading Standards Institute. Click here for more.
Government staff sacked for web breaches: Over 130 UK public servants have lost their jobs due to breaches of IT policy over the last three years, government figures show. Click here for more.
Cyber-jihad fails to materialise: A much hyped cyber-jihad by Islamist s'kiddie hackers on Western websites failed to materialise on Sunday. Click here for more.
Militants refine web tactics: Islamist militants are becoming more skilled at tailoring their message to specific audiences, including women and children, and Western societies are struggling to find a response. Click here for more.
Police swoop on 'hacker of the year': The Swedish hacker who perpetrated the so-called hack of the year has been arrested in a dramatic raid on his apartment, during which he was taken in for questioning and several of his computers confiscated. Click here for more.
Teen hacker arrested for stealing virtual furniture: Dutch police have made their first arrest of an online thief - a 17-year-old accused of stealing virtual furniture from rooms in the Habbo Hotel - a popular teenager networking web site. Click here for more.
But will it survive a dip in the bathtub?: The battle to persuade us all finally to abandon the familiar spine-creased paperback in favour of words on a flickering screen was ratcheted up several degrees yesterday with the launch by Amazon of its long-awaited electronic book-reading device christened Kindle. Click here for more.
Net gridlock by 2010 study warns: Consumer demand for bandwidth could see the internet running out of capacity as early as 2010, a new study warns. Click here for more.
How the web shaped the Australian election: The Australian election campaign has shown the internet is becoming an integral part of the political landscape, with politicians, activists and comedians all using it to have their voice heard. Click here for more.
Google's candid camera snaps Australia: Take extra-special care of your appearance when walking around Australian city streets this summer, as one nose pick or bum scratch could be immortalised on Google Maps forever. Click here for more.
Young warned over social websites: Millions of young people could damage their future careers with the details about themselves they post on social networking websites, a watchdog warns. Click here for more.
So I Married a Spyware Installer: When Shawn Macleod of Austin, Texas, suspected his estranged wife was engaging in some kind of suspicious behavior, he installed a spyware program on her computer to monitor her e-mails and web behaviour. He now faces four years in jail. Click here for more.
Social networkers warned of risk: A quarter of the 11 million Britons who use social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook may be leaving themselves open to identity fraud. Click here for more.
Aussie teens sexually harassed online: More than a third of teenage girls in Australia have been sexually harassed via the internet, and more than a quarter admit cyber-bullying other girls, according to a new survey. Click here for more.
Banks open to sharing Govt ID system: Customer identification is an important issue for banks but they say it is "early days" in terms of adopting an online ID system proposed by the Government. Click here for more.
What makes a good password?: We are leaving ourselves open to fraud online because of the passwords we use, says a campaign group. So what makes a good password? Click here for more.
Get out of my Facebook - how the web can haunt you: Millions of young people have made themselves vulnerable to identity theft as well as putting their future academic and professional prospects at risk by recklessly posting personal information on the internet, Britain's privacy watchdog warns in a report published today. Click here for more.
Microsoft defends Facebook purchase: Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer says his firm's acquisition of a 1.6 per cent stake in socialising website Facebook for $US240 million ($NZ316m) was an important investment, not a mistake. Click here for more.
Mozilla upgrades Firefox: Firefox has released an update, fixing bugs that had been causing the browser to crash at startup, render web pages improperly or disable add-ons for some users. Click here for more.
Spain's blogging gran: "Today it's my birthday and my grandson, who is very stingy, gave me a blog." So reads the first entry by one of the world's oldest bloggers, Maria Amelia Lopez, who, at the age of 95, has surprised herself by a sudden conversion from web-illiterate to cyber-celebrity. Click here for more.
Internet cheese on the block: Wedginald, the English cheddar cheese that has become a star of the Internet as it matures live on screen, is up for auction with the proceeds going to charity. Click here for more.
419er fears unsolicited intergalactic email: A short but illuminating 419 email which demonstrates why, when attempting to negotiate a $9.5m transfer deal, it's better to talk by phone. 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.
Scientists plan to shake hands via Internet: Scientists in Britain and the United States will try to shake hands on Tuesday. No big deal one might think — only they will be 3,000 miles apart, using the Internet to connect them. Click here for more.
Why Can't Hackers Be Stopped?: The battle between malicious hackers and system administrators is a never-ending tug-of-war between constantly evolving adversaries. Every time administrators seem to have gained the upper hand, their nemeses change in surprisingly agile ways. Click here for more.
Want to know what people email to Saddam Hussein?: An insight in what people want to tell Saddam Hussein comes from the pitifully poor security setup on the Iraqi President's main web page. 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to the Accounts Department (email@example.com).
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