January 2008 Topics  









    Past articles  









    Past Online Informers  









    January 2008 Topics  









    Actrix contact info  









    Essential sites  














    January 2008 Topics  
















    Quote of the month  

"It's important for us to explain to our nation that life is important. It's not only life of babies, but it's life of children living in, you know, the dark dungeons of the Internet."

- George Bush










    January 2008 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 January Actrix Online Informer!

Welcome to the January Actrix Online Informer.

It is a bit early to be calling it the January Informer, but we wanted to wish all our customers a merry Christmas, and all the best for the holidays and new year. Thanks indeed for your custom this year.

Please stay safe and well and enjoy some slow down time with your families and loved ones. We hope 2007 was good for you and that 2008 is even better.

Helpdesk hours

The Actrix Helpdesk will be closing at 7:00pm on the following days:

Thursday December 20th
Monday December 24th
Monday December 31st

The Helpdesk will be closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The network will be monitored and an after hours service will be operating during times when the Helpdesk is closed, so if you have a query or problem please leave a message, name and number, and we will contact you as soon as possible.

Rob Zorn

Online shopping tips 

Okay, so you're all organised and have all your Christmas presents bought already, and a set of tips for online shopping may seem a little late. However, Christmas is a good time to think about how to shop online safely. So much great stuff can be bought online nowadays, and with a little common sense, you should be quite safe. If you were a little hesitant to hand over your plastic details online this year, perhaps it's something you could consider for next time. There's lots of stuff you can purchase online that is hard to get in a brick and mortar store, so it is worth considering. Sure you hear some horror stories, but the vast majority of online transactions are secure enough, especially if you know what you're doing, and the concepts are pretty easy on the whole. Here are some things to think about.

  1. Make your purchases from well known outlets that have been around for a while. Big overseas companies like Amazon have been around for donkey's years and have their security systems down pat. But always go to the sites yourself by typing in the web address or using your own browser bookmarks. Be really careful clicking links to merchant sites that come in emails as these can take you to fake and dangerous sites made to look like the real thing.
  2. Don't respond to unsolicited offers that come via email, especially if the offer is too good to be true. These e-mails are often phishing scams, where the link connects to a site that downloads some type of malicious software onto your computer.
  3. Never respond to emails asking you to click a link to come and log in to confirm your account details. This is almost always a scam, and no legitimate firm will do it.
  4. Order from secure websites, which can usually be identified by a locked padlock or unbroken key icon in your web browser, and which start with https: in the web address. If a site is secure, the data you enter is encrypted which means that it can't be read by a third party, even if it is intercepted.
  5. Don't give out unnecessary information. If you're buying something online, there is no need for the vendor to know your bank account number.
  6. Don't send your credit card number by email. Emails are unencrypted and pass through lots of different servers, at multiple places en route. Any technician with good access to these servers can read or take a copy of whatever passes through.
  7. Check with your credit card company about its policy regarding fraudulent use. In most cases, you won't be liable for debts where your credit card details are stolen. The vendor will usually be legally responsible for making sure your details remain secure, and for verifying that a credit card is being legitimately used before they accept payment. If your details are stolen and used for unauthorised purchases, and the vendors didn't attempt to verify your authenticity, then the credit card companies will usually pursue the debt with them and not with you. Please do check this with your credit card company to be sure.
  8. Some people just use the one card for online purchases, and make sure it has a very low credit limit. That way very little damage can be done before the card is maxed out. if you're still nervous about using your card online, this is something you might want to consider.

'Moving to Broadband' explained 

Most people understand by now that 'broadband' means faster internet, but the regular inquiries to the help desk and to the Actrix Online Informer's Forum section reveal that there is still a bit of confusion out there about how to get it and what's involved in the move.

The main difference between broadband and dialup, of course, is the speed. With a dialup modem your speed is restricted to 56 kilobits per second. There is just no way to make the modem itself work any faster. With broadband, it is possible to have much faster speeds because a different technology is used. You can have your speed increased or decreased by your ISP without having to change equipment. The other difference is that the Internet is always on (as long as your modem is switched on). This means, as soon as you fire up your computer, you're online. You don't have to wait for your modem to connect and make the squawking budgie sounds. The other beauty of broadband is that it uses the top spectrum of your phone line's copper, leaving the bottom spectrum free to make phone calls. With broadband you can use the phone while you're online.

The only piece of extra equipment you need is a broadband modem. You can't use the one that shipped with your computer. Installing the new modem is pretty easy. It just plugs into the back of your computer. You don't need to take the case off or do anything radical.

The only other thing to keep in mind is that broadband is billed in a different way. Rather than being billed according to how long you're online, it's all about traffic with broadband. That means you get allocated a certain amount of traffic for the fee you pay. Traffic is the amount of kilobytes of material you download or visit such as web pages, emails and other downloads. Most ISPs allow you a certain amount per month and then they throttle your speed back for the rest of the month unless you pay more. The Actrix approach is more unique in that we allow you an allocation per day. When you have used up your day's lot, we throttle your speed back until 2 am the following morning. This means you don't have long periods at the end of the month where you're struggling along at dialup speed even though you've paid for broadband.

I asked Brian Dennehy from the Actrix support team to write more about what Actrix offers in terms of broadband plans, and what the processes are for getting it at your place.

The prices and plans

The broadband plans Actrix offers start at $27.95 per month (bundled with Tolls) and increase from there depending on your needs. The base plan gives you a speed of 256Kbps, which is roughly five times faster than dial up, and a daily traffic allowance of 70MB. In other words, this plan is ideal for people who are just wanting to use the connection for looking at a few websites, checking on emails, and the like each day.

If you are unsure whether this plan would suit you, then rest assured there is always the option to change to one of our other plans further on down the track if you need to. If you do happen to use more than your 70MB on any given day, your connection is simply slowed down to 64Kbps (slightly faster than dial up) until 2:00am the next day, when the connection resets and you are back on your faster broadband speed again. For more information on our different broadband plans, it would be best to have a look at this link: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=144.

For information about how to extend your full speed for a small fee go to: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=227.

The tolls bundle

The $27.95 quoted above only applies if you also agree to sign up for Actrix Tolls. All this means is that your toll calling will be charged through Actrix, rather than your current tolls provider, at our special rates. Subscribing to Actrix Tolls entitles you to a $10.00 monthly discount on any Actrix CyberJet broadband plan. In other words, where the base broadband plan would have usually been $37.95 per month, subscribing to Actrix Tolls brings it down to $27.95. More information on Actrix Tolls can be found by visiting http://www.actrixtolls.co.nz/.

This is something that happens automatically as part of our process if you sign up for the broadband/tolls bundle. You don't need to do anything at all, so don't worry about having to change your phone number or anything like that. The crossover is seamless.

Installation charges

With broadband plans there will be a one-time installation fee charged by Telecom. Usually a basic installation will cost $99.00 (inc GST), but if you decide to sign up for a 9-month contract with us then we will pay this for you. A technician won't need to visit your premises for a basic installation, as your broadband service will be activated from your local telephone exchange. However, even with a basic installation you will need to have an ADSL filter put on each phone jack that has a device connected to it. In other words each phone jack that has a phone, fax machine, Sky Digital decoder, or anything else plugged into it will need an ADSL filter. These filters can be purchased from Actrix for $12.50 each. The filters simply plug into your phone jack and have 2 sockets on them; one that says "Phone" and one that says "ADSL". Your telephone, fax machine, Sky Digital decoder, or other device will plug into the "Phone" side of the filter, and your broadband can plug into the "ADSL" side.

However, if you happen to have a monitored burglar alarm or anything else that is hardwired into your telephone circuit, you will need a full installation where a technician will visit your premises and install a dedicated jack point for your broadband connection. A full installation usually costs $249.00, but we'll pay $100 towards that if you take up a 9-month contract, reducing the fee to just $149.00.

For more information on the different installation options and what is required for each, please see this link: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=40#1.

Modem costs

The second one-off cost that may apply is the broadband modem you will need for the connection. The modems that we sell start at $84.95 (plus postage and packaging) and will arrive to you fully configured according to your individual settings so that when your connection is ready you can just plug the modem in, tell your computer it is there (which, in most cases, happens automatically), and then give us a call. We'll activate your account from our end, and hey-presto, you're online with broadband.

At this stage we sell 3 different modems; A single-port Dynalink modem for $84.95 (best for people with one computer), a multi-port NetComm modem for $99.95 (best for people with more than one computer), and also a Dynalink wireless modem for $139.95 (best for people with more than one computer who want to have the freedom of connecting wirelessly). For more information on modems, the page to look at is http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=40#2.


Because getting you ready for ADSL means Telecom making a change at your local exchange, there is often a short waiting period. In most cases, it takes about two or three working days from the time we receive your application until the time that you are online. There are occasional longer delays, such as when there aren't sufficient ports available at your exchange, but these are rare.

What about rural areas?

There can be problems getting ADSL to work in rural areas, mainly due to the quality of the copper network away from more populated areas as well as the distance between you and your local telephone exchange (the general distance threshold is around 4.5KM). If you're unsure, we do have a line checking tool that we can use to get an indication of whether ADSL is possible for you or not (and sometimes a "likely" is the best the tool can give us).

What about if my phone line is with Telstra Clear?

If your line is an actual TelstraClear line on its telephone network, unfortunately you will not be able to sign up for broadband with Actrix. However, if your line is simply a Telecom line resold by TelstraClear, then we should be able to put through an order and get you up and running on broadband. Generally speaking, phone numbers starting with a "9" are TelstraClear lines, but any other number is usually a Telecom line being resold by TelstraClear.

If any of this is confusing or if it just seems like quite a bit of information to absorb, please give the helpdesk a call on 0800 228 749 and choose option 3 for Support. We'll talk it over with you and help you find the plan that suits you best.

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The seven deadly sins of instant messaging 

Here is a seven-point summary on how to deal better with instant messaging. Please click here for the full article by Scott H Young which has a lot more information for chat addicts.

  1. Do not use it
    It's hard to envision, but life without IM is possible.
  2. Do not make yourself available 24/7
    If you really can't let go of chat, designate IM office hours. Limit yourself to two hours maximum a day and give yourself a curfew.
  3. Do not expect a response
    The beauty of IM is that it lets you have “slow conversations,” allowing people to respond whenever they want.
  4. Do not send urgent requests
    Just because someone is online at 2am doesn’t mean that person is available for a work or family emergency.
  5. Do not be a buddy slut
    According to the Pareto principle, you spend 80 percent of your chat time with 20 percent of your buddies. Identify the buddies you don't chat with anymore and delete them.
  6. Do not broadcast your screen name
    Never ever put your screen name on a website, blog, or social networking profile. This keeps your buddy list short and prevents stalkers from creeping you out.
  7. Do not forward chat messages to your phone
    I call this the electronic dog leash feature. If you have it on, turn it off now. Free yourself, run wild, and go play.

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).


Rob and Robyn write: Hi Rob, We wonder if this email forwarded below is a suspicious email. We have not sent anything to arrowhedge and don't know anyone of that address. We haven't opened the attachment, of course, but wonder if this could be some intrusion as there seems to be a typical spam address later in the notes. We have AVG security so hope that hasn't been breached. Thanks, Rob and Robyn.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Barracuda Spam Firewall" postmaster@arrowhedge.com
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2007 9:43 PM
Subject: **Message you sent blocked by our bulk email filter**

Hi Rob and Robyn, What you have here is annoying, but nothing serious to worry about. Spammers have lists of email addresses that they have "harvested" from around the place, and sometimes they use one of these addresses as a sending address. This means they don't get the bounces, and it also makes them a little harder to trace. Because they've used your email address as a sending address, this bounce has come back to you.

It's interesting that the username in the address that's bounced is the same as your username. Spammers do all sorts of bizarre things like this. Perhaps they've set up a program to randomly grab your username and combine it with a different email address to send to, which is why you've only gotten one bounce rather than several. Seems odd, but if they're doing this with millions and millions of addresses, then some are bound to work.

This sort of thing pretty much happens to everyone (it's hard to keep your email address off a spammer's list) and you'll probably find it comes and goes over time.

The attachment in this case is probably just the spam email sent on your behalf, and not a security intrusion, but it could possibly be something more sinister. If it was a virus, your AVG would most likely have spotted it. It's best to just delete the email without trying to open the attachment, of course. I hope that makes some sense.


Brian writes: Dear Rob, I write a lot of articles using Microsoft Word and wondered if there is a method or programme which might help me in using phrases in Latin or French. What I would like to do would be to be able to highlight a phrase or sentence of English then select a language to translate it into. Is this possible, and how can I do it?

Hi Brian, Hmmmm, I've never come across a request like this before (also, help with Word is a little outside an ISP's scope). However, I understand Word does come with a plug in that can connect to a translation service called World Lingo, but I've not much idea about the ins and outs of this. There's some information about it on the Microsoft site here.

If that doesn’t work out for you, there are lots of free translation sites online. I’ve listed a couple for you, but again, feel free to enter something like “Translate English into Latin” into Google to investigate further.

Google Translate

There's also Google's free toolbar which does translations, and you can get it at http://toolbar.google.com. It doesn't sit in Word, but it would be there for you to use and then copy and paste back into Word.


Frances writes: Is one more vulnerable to spam, viruses, etc if one is on broadband than dialup? At the moment we are on dialup, and are only online for very short periods. But I assume this is not the case if one is on broadband.

Brian Dennehy from the Actrix help desk responds: Hi Frances, When you have a broadband connection, you will have a separate broadband router that usually sits beside your computer somewhere. Generally speaking, most broadband routers have their own form of security called a firewall that helps to filter any data being sent from or received to your computer. Because of this extra layer of security on top of what you already have on your computer, broadband connections could be considered safer than dial up connections as the likelihood of something bad happening is decreased. Being on broadband will have no effect on the amount of spam you receive.

However, all the above doesn't mean that your dialup connection is any less safe.  Of course, this is assuming you have a good firewall and an anti-virus program running on your machine, which is important even if you are on dialup. The broadband router simply provides one extra layer of protection to keep you out of harm's way.

Hopefully this makes sense, but if there is anything else we can help with then please give us a call on 0800 228 749 or send an email through to us on support@actrix.co.nz.


Caron writes: Dear Rob, I always enjoy your newsletters and find something useful to apply to our business. It was great to see you feature two golf gifts in your gift lineup in the last newsletter! You mentioned that "these are personal picks and if your family was reading that you would be happy to receive any of the selection..." on that note - at www.golfdownunder.co.nz we have Exploding Golf Balls for only $7.90 and Wobbly Golf Balls for the same price. They can be with your friends and family within 1-2 days!

I like that people on the Actrix Help Desk never laugh at me when I phone. Keep up the good work! Thanks and regards,

. 17 Albert St., (opposite the Stamford Plaza Hotel)
Ph: 307-7081

Hi Caron, and thanks for your kind words about the Actrix Online Informer and the help desk. They're a good bunch of guys and girls. I have a love hate relationship with golf. I used to love it, but it always hated me. However, the exploding golf balls sound like they could almost make it fun again. -Ed


Eleanor writes: Hi there. Could you help me stop this happening? When new emails arrive for me, often (but not always) they are already open. I would prefer this not to happen as it spoils the fun, and is potentially sensitive if the wrong person is looking over my shoulder! Thank you.

Hi Eleanor, I think what you’re referring to is the preview pane, usually to the bottom right of Outlook and Outlook Express, that automatically previews the email without you fully opening it. It is easy to turn the preview pane off so that it no longer appears, and so that you can only see the message sender and subject until you deliberately open it yourself.

To turn off the message preview pane in Outlook Express:

  • Select View | Layout... from the menu
  • Make sure Show preview pane is not checked
  • Click OK.

In Outlook, click View, then Reading Pane, and then click the 'Off' option.

That should do the trick.

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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!

Seeking millionaire
www.seekingmillionaire.com/ -
Now here's a site I wish I'd known about when I was working on my first million.
"Are you rich, successful and tired of dating sites that do not work for you? Our website is designed specifically for you to meet wealthy, successful, attractive or beautiful singles."
By the way, I've started work on my second million. The first million didn't work out.
Ask 500 people
www.ask500people.com/ - Now this is pretty interesting. People ask a question (any question at all) and anyone visiting the site can post a yes/no answer. There's a live map that updates in real time as soon as anyone posts, and if you answer, you'll see a flag pop up on your part of New Zealand within seconds. You have to create an account to ask a question, but you can answer without. Just click the green 'Vote' tab to the top right of the map (it's hard to see). What a great way of canvassing world opinion quickly and easily!
Don't try and buy the blue cup!
http://producten.hema.nl/ - ...and if you do, back away from your computer quick! This site is all in Dutch, but that isn't really important right now. It's an animation on what might happen if the items on the screen were really there, and you accidentally gave one a knock. The site takes a little while to load, but the ingenuity behind what happens might make it worth the wait. Now, who's going to clean all this up?
Cool word illusions
www.marcofolio.net/other/15_cool_word_illusions.html - These are like optical illusions, but just a lot wordier. How the page works is pretty self-explanatory, and you'll be amazed at what you see and don't see each time you look.
Twelve principles for finding lost objects
www.professorsolomon.com/12principles.html - It's not whatever you've lost that's lost. You're the one who's lost. That's just one of Dr Solomon's 12 principles for locating a misplaced object. Follow these steps, and he's sure things will all come right. If you need something to fill all those extra hours you'll have because you're no longer looking for things, why not try some of his free books which you can download in PDF format. How to Make the Most of a Flying Saucer Experience looks to be a doozey!
Kitchen myths
www.pgacon.com/KitchenMyths.htm - "We've all heard of urban legends, those plausible sounding but false stories that circulate so widely on email and news groups, such as the old lady who microwaved her cat or the Nieman-Marcus $250 cookie recipe. There are several web sites devoted to researching and exposing these fake stories. The same sort of thing happens in the world of food and cooking, although on a much smaller scale. This page is my answer."
50 Top 10 Lists of 2007
www.time.com/time/specials/2007/top10/0,30576,1686204,00.html - "The powerful, the profound, the painful and the peculiar: These are the most noteworthy news events of the year [According to Time]: Top 10 News Stories, Top 10 Underreported Stories, Top 10 TIME.com Photos, Top 10 Editorial Cartoons, Top 10 Asia Stories, Top 10 Mideast Stories, Top 10 Religion Stories, Top 10 Crime Stories, Top 10 Oddball News Stories," and many many more.
Memorise anything
http://howto.wired.com/wiredhowtos/memorize_anything - "For any type of memorization, it's important to realize that the human brain works very differently then external storage devices (slips of paper, a computer, etc). It recalls nearly exclusively by association. That's the bad news, it's very hard to recall a condensed sliver of information associated to nothing at all by rote. The good news is that as opposed to computers or paper, there is almost unlimited space."
On the day you were born
www.kakophone.com/kakorama/EN/index.php - So, I was born on a Wednesday at a time when a dozen eggs cost $0.53 in the US. Eight Days a Week was the number one song and my Chinese astrology sign is "Snake in the wood." If I had been born on Mars I would be just 22 years old. So obviously, you enter your date and year of birth and this site will invoke a page with a few facts about the world on the day you made your entry. There are also options to see what was happening in the sky at the time, and, for the really curious, what would be different had you been born on Mars (with options to also check the same for other planets.
Sensing Murder, Sensing a scam
www.sillybeliefs.com/murder.html - Whatever your views on the paranormal and speaking to the dead, Sensing Murder has often been a good watch, especially in the way the history of the murders is covered. In the latest series, the show has featured Nigel Latta, a well known New Zealand psychologist who often works with the worst types of criminals (and is certainly no bunny). Many may have felt his endorsement of the psychics' honesty lends some credibility to the show and to the paranormal. Sceptics are quick to point out that not one murder has been solved as a result of paranormal intervention. At this section of the Silly Beliefs website, the sceptics' view is presented, along with some interesting interaction with Mr Latta himself.


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Auctioneers in Trade Me apology: Auctioneers who attacked Trade Me as too risky to use have since apologised for making the claim. Click here for more.

'Ethical' Kiwi hacker keeps Microsoft busy: A lone New Zealand hacker has triggered a security scare that had Microsoft software engineers in the United States working through their Thanksgiving holiday weekend to fix a design flaw in Windows software. Click here for more.

Bot-boy caught in his own net: Extradition to the United States is a distinct possibility for the software whiz who was bullied at Mercury Bay Area Primary, home-schooled from age 13, and five years later finds himself the centre of attention of FBI and Dutch investigators. Click here for more.

'No point' to new subsea cable: The cost of laying a government-subsidised submarine cable to Australia to break the Southern Cross Cable Network's near monopoly on international bandwidth to and from New Zealand may be as low as $100 million, industry experts say. Click here for more.

Website to tackle youth depression: The interactive website, www.thelowdown.co.nz, has been created to help young New Zealanders understand and recover from depression. Click here for more.

The best of online shopping: When you've memorised your credit card number, expiry date and three-digit security code, there's a good chance you're doing a fair amount of shopping online. I love the convenience the internet lends shopping. Here are some of my favourite online shopping websites. Click here for more.

Welly firm looks for student to send to Google: One Wellington high school student will get a trip to Google's headquarters in Silicon Valley thanks to the relationship local developer SilverStripe has built up with the software giant. Click here for more.

Kiwi warns against US Internet scheme: A man who lost more than $5000 in an American company's get-rich- quick web scheme is warning others to steer clear of its seminars held in Christchurch this week. Click here for more.

Pupils target teacher in Web hate page: Intermediate pupils set up a hate page on Bebo targeting a young teacher, with postings he said included hoping he died and went to hell. Click here for more.

Patients use internet to challenge doctors: One fifth of patients are challenging their doctors' advice or diagnosis using knowledge gained from the internet, a survey suggests. Click here for more.

Customers' internet losses covered by bank: A major bank has turned up the heat on its rivals by taking responsibility for any online fraud. Click here for more.

UK journalist beat NZ authorities to alleged spammers: A British radio journalist and a Danish geek beat professional investigators in New Zealand to the home of an alleged "spammer" in Christchurch. Click here for more.

NZ police, FBI continue international cyber crime operation: New Zealand police are still working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in an international investigation over a multi-million dollar cyber crime ring alleged to involve a Whitianga teenager. Click here for more.


Demise of Internet Greatly Exaggerated?: A new research study warns that the Internet could stagger under the weight of the digital media clogging its pipes. Click here for more.

UK net numbering project starts: Staying in touch via phone or web could soon get easier as work starts on a way to unite the internet and the telephone network. Click here for more.

Woman seeking baby info breaks child porn ring: A woman who stumbled on evidence of child abuse while looking for information about babies on the internet helped Spanish police break a child pornography ring. Click here for more.

Celebrity spam gang whips up a storm: A copycat spam gang has launched an effort to compromise PCs that rivals the botnet created by the infamous Storm Worm Gang. Click here for more.

Australians unleash true selves online: Symantec's Identity Survey, conducted by Woolcott Research, found Australians typically had more than 10 virtual identities. They included profiles on sites like MySpace and YouTube, email accounts, game avatars and characters in virtual worlds. Click here for more.

Ad targeting improves as Web sites track consumer habits: Based on the weather reports and restaurant listings you check out online, Yahoo Inc. has a good idea where you live. Based on searches you've done, the Web portal might also know where you want to go. Click here for more.

Al Qaeda-Linked Web Sites Proliferating: There are now about 5,600 Web sites spreading al Qaeda's ideology worldwide, and 900 more are appearing each year, a Saudi researcher told a national security conference on Tuesday. Click here for more.

Some Surprises In Yahoo's Top Tech Search Results: What do YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook and iTunes all have in common? You might be surprised to know that the four popular Web sites are the top four tech-related search terms on Yahoo. Click here for more.

Net vigilantes target MySpace mum: Authorities are investigating whether an inflammatory blog purporting to be the work of a mother blamed for driving a neighbour's teenage daughter to suicide is just another hoax in a sorry saga of hoaxes or the real thing. Click here for more.

Wikipedia charged over Nazi symbols: A left-wing German politician has filed charges against online encyclopaedia Wikipedia for promoting the use of banned Nazi symbols in Germany. Click here for more.

New Bill Demands ISPs Report Online Child Exploitation: The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed a new bill putting ISPs on notice they face big penalties for not reporting child pornography and other illegal exploitation of children online. Click here for more.

Net dumbs us down: Nobel prize winner: New Nobel laureate Doris Lessing has used her acceptance speech to rail against the internet, saying it has "seduced a whole generation into its inanities" and created a world where people know nothing. Click here for more.

Expert says 'exodus' to virtual worlds will change society: The appeal of online virtual worlds such as Second Life is such that it may trigger an exodus of people seeking to "disappear from reality," an expert on large-scale online games has said. Click here for more.

Almost all email now spam: About 95 percent of emails this year - up from 70 percent in 2006 - were classified as junk messages, according to a report from US security firm Barracuda, Agence France Presse reported. Click here for more.

International cyber spying named top threat for 2008: A study released last week warns of a rise in international cyber spying, labelling it the single biggest threat to the enterprise in 2008. Click here for more.

More Americans Googling themselves: In a report Sunday, the Pew Internet and American Life Project said 47 percent of U.S. adult Internet users have looked for information about themselves through Google or another search engine. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Watch Out For The Online Shopping Grinch: Throughout this holiday season, experts are predicting that more people than ever will duck the malls and shop with their computers. But the comfort and ease that make online shopping so appealing have a dark side. Click here for more.

Dutch regulator slaps spyware purveyors with €1m fine: In 2005, the two unnamed businessmen distributed software called DollarRevenue among millions of internet users. Approximately 450 million software files were installed on 22 million computers in the Netherlands and abroad. Click here for more.

Hackers hijack web search results: A huge campaign to poison web searches and trick people into visiting malicious websites has been thwarted. The booby-trapped websites came up in search results for search terms such as "Christmas gifts" and "hospice". Click here for more.

QuickTime bug opens XP, Vista to attack: Security researchers warn that attack code targeting an unpatched bug in Apple's QuickTime has gone public, and added that in-the-wild attacks against systems running Windows XP and Vista are probably not far behind. Click here for more.

Five security threats best avoided in 2008: Some interesting pieces of security knowledge came about this year. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Opera Files EU Complaint Over Microsoft: A small Norwegian maker of Web browsers, backed by an industry coalition, has filed the first complaint against Microsoft to the European Commission. Opera Software said it has complained that Microsoft illegally ties its Web browser, Internet Explorer, to its dominant Windows operating system. Click here for more.

Portuguese firm 'Microsoft' to auction name: ortuguese company Microsoft Lda. plans to put its brand name and business up for sale on online auction site eBay tomorrow with a starting price of US$1 million, says its chief executive, Ricardo Carvalho. Click here for more.

Mac the News

Another month, another monster Apple security update: Including Monday's fixes, Apple has patched approximately 200 bugs in the nine security updates it has issued so far during 2007. Four of the nine featured fixes for more than 40 different vulnerabilities. Click here for more.

Unix, Linux and Open Source

Firefox 3.0 beta 2 due by year's end: Mozilla says developers have handed off the second beta of Firefox 3.0 to internal testing, and will ship the next preview of the open-source browser before the end of the year. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Website ranks stupid holiday gifts: From Mother Teresa breath spray to a screaming rubber chicken, manufacturers come up with stockings full of stupid gifts in time for the holidays with one website dedicated to finding the most idiotic. Click here for more.

Santa's Australian travel plans go online: The plans for Santa's flight across Australia on Christmas Eve will be displayed on a new website to help parents, pilots and children plan for his journey, authorities say. 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 may overtake e-mail in 2003: A message-filtering service warned this week that spam will exceed legitimate e-mail traffic by July. MessageLabs says e-mail threats, including viruses and spam, are increasing at an "alarming rate." MessageLabs says that about 30 percent of all e-mail sent in November was spam, a figure that's actually smaller than other recent estimates. Click here for more.

Spammer gets junk mailed: A US bulk emailer is threatening legal action after so-called "anti-spammers" signed him up for lots of junk mail. Click here for more.

Tattoos, Britney top Web search list: If Japanese cartoons, music-sharing and tattoos were on your mind the last time you did a Web search, then you're onto the latest trend. Those were among the most popular Internet searches in 2002, according to the folks at search engine Lycos. 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 January, and again, all the best for the new year!

Rob Zorn


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