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    Quote of the month  

"Software suppliers are trying to make their software packages more user-friendly... Their best approach, so far, has been to take all the old brochures, and stamp the words, 'user-friendly' on the cover."

- Bill Gates










    May 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
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to

Actrix - New Zealand's first Internet Service Provider

Welcome to the May 2008 Actrix Online Informer!

Welcome to the May Actrix Online Informer. Once again I hope you'll find something of interest in this month's edition. I would like to point out that Actrix, always the innovators, released a fantastic new product on 1 April that's got the competition licked! If you missed the announcement, you really should check it out and try the quick, free trial. You can read more about CyberClean here.

Rob Zorn

New Actrix broadband plans 

We've changed our range of broadband plans to provide faster connections at lower prices. The old favourites remain but we've replaced our 2Mb range with new Full Speed (up to 8Mb) download plans at the old 2Mb price. To view the new range of plans available click here.

To sign up for Actrix Broadband just click here to be taken to the Actrix Broadband page, then click the price tag for your desired plan and follow the on screen instructions.

Some readers may still be a little uncertain about what's involved with signing up for broadband. An article from the January Actrix Online Informer may help put things in perspective. If you still have questions and wish to talk to one of our support staff about Actrix Broadband please feel free to E-mail or give us a call on 0800 ACTRIX (228-749) between 8am and 11pm, 7 days.

Writing courteous emails 

This article by Dave Thompson appeared in The Press on 22 April. Its advice is excellent. In fact, I wish I'd written it -Ed.
Thanks to The Press and to Dave for permission to use the story.

Like any communication system, there are basic rules to consider when writing emails.

These days email has become the communication of choice, allowing near-instantaneous communication between people in a society that is fast losing the ability to communicate on a personal level.

Not that long ago, communication was about etiquette, good manners and ceremony while these days there seems to be none of these things. We have all heard the modern stories; people admitting to an affair or being made redundant via email. This was unthinkable a few generations ago. Email is a passive-aggressive medium – you can say what you like without fear of the other person hitting you, or yelling and screaming at you.

Like any communication system, there are basic rules to consider, and, because no-one is really taught how to email, people just copy what their friends or colleagues do. There are dos and don'ts, just like the old school days of learning the correct way to address letters and memos (though back then no-one seemed to know whether to put the address on the left, the middle, or on the right).

In cyberspace, this is called "netiquette", and is vitally important if you want others to think of you as computer literate.

So, for the sake of humankind here is my email guide:

Keep emails brief
As a rule, be brief unless you intend to bore the recipient to tears. Most people use email as a quick means of communication and don't expect to find a message that takes 10 minutes to read. Keep in mind, in cyberspace, people's attention spans are shorter than, um, what was I saying?

Avoid bling
Silly picture backgrounds and smiley faces are out. The last thing people think when they get an email with a sunset background and emoticons blinking all over the place is: "Wow, this person really has their emailing skills together". Most of us think: "How embarrassing".

Not only does unnecessary bling detract from your message, it makes some people physically ill with all that movement.

Clean fonts, please
Avoid coloured text and please, please, please don't use comic sans as your font. This makes people think you just graduated a badly taught community computing class. Users generally don't like reading messages in large, coloured, non-standard fonts. Keep it simple; use standard fonts and colours.

Use plain text
If you have the option to send email in plain text, you should do it – not only is it far more readable, there is less chance of a virus or script hiding in there. Your friends (if you still have any) will respect you for it.

Be discreet
If sending emails to multiple recipients, try to use the group (or list) feature, or BCC (blind carbon copy). This prevents recipients getting messages with a zillion addresses listed at the top. Email lists are great because you can have hundreds of addresses in a list, yet send the mail to just one master address – check your help files on how to do this. The BCC feature sends emails to addresses you put in the To field, but prevents each recipient from seeing who else the message went to. Either of these methods works well, though lists are better for larger groups. One advantage of keeping recipients anonymous is obvious – some businesses are always looking for potential clients, and what better (but sad) way to find them than swiping someone else's email database.

No funnies
Forwarding pictures of monkeys doing stupid things might have been funny in 1995. But here's the thing, we've seen them. Sending them around for a zillionth time doesn't make them any funnier.

No heartbreaks
Don't forward those purposely heart-breaking stories of dying kids who can be saved if you forward the message to all your friends because Microsoft will pay a dollar for every email sent. Newsflash – Microsoft, or anyone for that matter, aren't monitoring your emails and, even if they did, they wouldn't be paying money every time you send one.

Do your homework
If you get an email warning you that a new virus is going around, and CNN and Norton say it is the worst one ever – you are part of the problem if you forward it to your friends. Do your homework first; you'll find these messages (like those above) are a hoax.

Clean before forwarding
If you are forwarding a message, clean the text before your message – include only what is necessary to keep the thread going. Sending a message with twenty other messages tagged onto it is seen as lame.

It's common sense, really. If you think something should be on this list, send me an email, but please disable those backgrounds and emoticons first.

Dave Thompson runs PC Anytime, a computer services company based in Christchurch.

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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 (


Steve writes: Hi I just wanted to say thanks for the link to Craigslist in the last newsletter. We want to buy a RV in Canada for a trip around US/Canada for six months and the site had some great private vehicles for sale. Regards, Steve

That's great Steve, and thanks for saying so. It's good to know that one of the interesting sites was also of practical use.


Christine writes: Dear Rob, We have recently bought a new computer running Windows Vista Ultimate. Our problem is that when we print a web page it prints in a very small sized font (looks like 8), but printed emails come out as they are on the screen. Is this a setting within the browser, and if so how do we change it? With thanks, Christine.

Hi Christine, If you've got Vista Ultimate, you've probably also got the most up-to-date version of Internet Explorer (IE), which now includes some new print settings. I'm not sure which method you're using to print, but try clicking the little down arrow next to the printer icon over to the top right of the IE browser. This should allow you to select "Print Preview" which is where the new settings can be found. By default, the browser seems to be set to "Shrink to fit", which is a handy new feature designed to stop the old problem of the right hand side of the page not printing because it is too wide for your printer.

With the Print Preview pane open, you can use the drop-down menu to change the setting from "Shrink to fit" to "100%". The pane will automatically preview how the page will look when you print it. By changing the view to "100%", you may find the print area now extends off the right hand side. If so, there are a couple of things you could try. The first is selecting a percentage that works for you. For example, "80%" or "90%" may make the area small enough without reducing the font size too much. Perhaps a more workable solution, however, is to change the page orientation from portrait to landscape. You’ll see two little icons over to the top left of the print preview pane that allow you to switch back and forth between the two, with the end result showing in the preview area.

Because web pages are normally set in a landscape format, that is their wider than they are high on the screen, I recommend always printing them in landscape, no matter what browser or method. I hope that helps.


Bill writes: Rob, I would be grateful for some help. Over the years using Internet Explorer I have built up a rather large list of "Favorites" They seem to be listed in the order they were entered. I would like to list them alphabetically so that they are more easily accessed. I have not found a way to do this. The option "Organize Favorites" provides no way to achieve it.

One of your early users I fully subscribe to the "Consumer" listing of the company as being at the top of support services. Congratulations! Bill

Hi Bill, You'd think with all the improvements to Internet Explorer that Microsoft has made that it would have occurred to them to put the ability to sort the order of your favourites on the Organize Favorites dialogue box, but no, that would just be too sensible. However, it is easy to organise your favourites in alphabetical order – in fact it's so simple it is easy to miss. Simply click Favorites, and then right-click on any one of the favourites appearing in the list. In the sub-menu that pops up, click "Sort by name". Bob's your uncle.

Thanks for your kind words about Actrix, too Bill, and for your customer loyalty over the years.


Dear Rob, In your April Informer under "Reader's Forum" there is a complaint about the rising number of spam emails. What spam? I might get two per week and say: Actrix, well done! Kind regards, Jurgen.

Thanks Jurgen, our techs put a lot of time and effort into tweaking the spam filters on the mail servers. It's a delicate process and one they have to really be on the ball about to make sure they only filter out the bad stuff. It's a thankless task, often, too, as spammers are clever and "sneak a few past the goalie" quite often and the techs may get blamed for that.

To be fair to all, though, the spam burden will vary from customer to customer. Some are much more prone to spam for all sorts of reasons – they may have lots of email addresses, or have their email address appear on lots of websites. People like that will get hit harder and experience more spam than others who use the web less often.


Rob, I was for years protected by Mailwasher, but a while ago I lost contact and I am not succesful in getting it back. Probably I didn't pay mine contribution in time?. I would love to have my protection back, can you help me? Thank you, Gerard.

Hi Gerard, Yes, Mailwasher is a pretty cool product developed by Nick Bolton, a New Zealander. It lets you connect to your mailbox and delete spam and other rubbish before your mail program connects and downloads it. It's still available for free from, though the free version has some limitations (can only be used with one email address etc). The full version costs about $US30.

Mailwasher is also good for connecting to your mailbox and deleting any big emails that may be clogging up a dialup download, and it can also be used to send bounces back to spammers and scammers so that they think your mailbox doesn't exist. I'm not sure whether that answers your question about getting it back. If not, let me know.


Russell writes: Hi, my friend has just purchased a computer and I have been helping him set it up. On the Outlook Express screen we have lost the Folders Column on the left hand side of the screen and it does not matter what we do, we can not retrieve it. Would appreciate any help thank you, Russell.

Hi Russell, It might be that the folders column is simply turned off and you need to turn it back on again. Click View and then Layout and place a tick back in the folders bar box.


John writes:  Hi, Is there a simple method of printing out the Outlook Express address  book in alphabetical order? Regards, John

Hi John, Yes, there is. Try this method:

  1. Select Tools/Address Book from the menu in Outlook Express.
  2. To change the sort order, select View | Sort By from the menu and select the order you prefer.
  3. You can choose just to print certain contacts. To select multiple (individual) contacts, hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on them. If you want to print all address book entries, no selection is necessary.
  4. Click the Print button in the toolbar.
  5. Click Options to select the paper size and orientation you prefer.
  6. Under Print Style, select the desired layout.
    • Memo outputs all the information about the contacts.
    • Business Card prints names, company names, email addresses and phone numbers.
    • Phone List creates a list of phone numbers (home, business, mobile, fax and others) for the contacts.
  7. Click Print and you're away!

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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!

Password meter - "This application is designed to assess the strength of password strings. The instantaneous visual feedback provides the user a means to improve the strength of their passwords, with a hard focus on breaking the typical bad habits of faulty password formulation."
16 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School Don't you sometimes wish you had known some of things you have learned over the last few years a bit earlier? Well, here are 16 brief lessons in life skills that they should have taught more directly at school (though maybe they did and we weren't paying attention). Youth is wasted on the young!!
Creative 404 error pages - "When you end up following a dead or incorrect link or mistype a URL, you are likely to end up on a 404 error page. It doesn’t have to be a bad experience, though. We have prowled the web for funny and original takes on this classic error page. Here are 20 of the best. Let yourself be inspired! (Note that some of the images below are partial screenshots. Click on the provided links to view the complete 404 pages.)"

How to draw cartoons - "First time learning how to draw? If so, don't sweat it! It's actually a lot easier than you think. You can learn how to draw cartoons right here, right now. With these simple step by step drawing lessons you'll be be improving your drawing technique in record time – and this goes regardless of your previous experience."
Steve's Tech Guide - Steve's Tech Guide is a blog that offers help, news, advice, tips and tricks, and guides with computer hardware, software, repairs, technology, and electronics. It's is devoted to guiding its readers through the wonderful world of computer technology and electronics while maintaining quality content that is useful time and time again.
Morse code mnemonics - Okay, this one might be a little geeky, but interesting and fun for some. It's a way of usijng mnemonics to quickly memorise morse code, and it only takes a couple of minutes. It works by matching the morse code element (e.g. _... which is B) with its phonetic equivalent (in this case "Bravo") and then giving you a menemonic to help you remember. In this case it would be "YEAH, clap clap clap), which is associated with saying "Bravo". The YEAH represents the dash and the clap clap clap represents the dots. Clear as mud? It'll make more sense when you read the Wikipedia entry itself.
Odd things around the world - How do you know whether or not your spouse is trying to kill you? What would it be like if hippies ruled the world? What are the ten most bizarre auctions ever conducted online? You'll find answers to all these questions and more at this site in the form of some real and some Photoshopped images. Clever and lots of fun. When you open some of the items, links to lots more appear on the right.
Menu made - I met someone recently who swears by this site. "Do you find yourself turning up at the supermarket several times each week, trying to get some ingredients together for a meal? Do you feel like you are stuck in the same rut of a few favourite meals that you trot out each week or each time it is your turn to cook?" Menu made is a New Zealand site which,after you enter some personal information about your budget and what things you don't want to eat, generates a weekly or fortnightly menu for you, complete with shopping lists and recipes. The meals are designed to be reasonably easy to make, and nutritionally balanced, and the menus always change. Do the short the tour and sign up for a free trial account. After the trial, you will need to pay to carry on (about $3/week) but at east you get a chance to try before you buy.
Flat Earth Society - This is the FAQ page of the Flat Earth Society's web forum. It provides a little insight into what they believe and why. Antarctica as a continent doesn't exist, the stars and planets are only 3,000 miles away, and airline pilots deliberately mislead when it comes to flight times. Everything we think we know about the world being round is all part of a worldwide government conspiracy, and the motive is probably money. A map of the flat earth is provided here. And, of course, Wikipedia can give you a whole lot more background.
Fast food ads vs reality - "Each item was purchased, taken home, and photographed immediately. Nothing was tampered with, run over by a car, or anything of the sort. It is an accurate representation in every case. Shiny, neon-orange, liquefied pump-cheese, and all." At the foot of the page there are links to some fast food reviews that are also quite well written and amusing.


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Superhacker convicted of international cyber crime: Self-taught Whitianga computer whiz Owen Walker has admitted being involved in international botnet conspiracies. Click here for more.

Mum's warning over Bebo: Police believe missing Christchurch teenager Marie Davis may have been abducted or fallen victim to foul play as the inquiry into her disappearance enters its second week with no sign of the 15-year-old. Click here for more.

Kiwis ahead of their time, study confirms: Jock Phillips, general editor of online encyclopedia of New Zealand Te Ara, has started a blog that lists all the things little old New Zealand is top of the world at. Click here for more.

Blackmailing NZ hacker back in prison: An international computer hacker who tried to blackmail a US school teacher is back in prison after his sentencing was stopped at midpoint in Auckland today. Click here for more.

New Zealand ISPs forced to police internet piracy: Internet service providers took a big step towards becoming internet police courtesy of a new copyright law passed in Parliament last week. Click here for more.

Rules may change under Nats' net policy: National leader John Key has not ruled out the possibility of using regulations to get Telecom to play ball with the party's proposed national fibre optic network. Click here for more.

Parents use spyware to keep watch on kids: New Zealand parents are spying on their children with special software secretly reading every Google search, website hit, chatroom conversation, email and MSN message and even every keystroke the child makes. Click here for more.

Phishing scam hits South Island universities: South Island universities have been targeted in a "spear phish" campaign aimed at stealing staff and student login details. Click here for more.


British man wins record internet libel damages: A British property executive has won record internet libel damages from a court, in one of the country's first cases stemming from online harassment by a business rival. Click here for more.

Google The Future? Only on April 1: If you rushed to the Internet to book one of airline Virgin Blue's "no chair fares" for half price as advertised in Australian newspapers on Tuesday, you might have found one message on its Web site: April Fools! Click here for more.

Loss of web pages like 'book burnings': Taking old websites off the internet can be compared with burning books, says The National Library of Australia. Click here for more.

Craigslist hoaxers arrested after house looted: The perpetrators of a hoax online classified ad that led to a man's house being looted as he watched helplessly have been tracked down and arrested. Click here for more.

Volunteers For Spam: Security vendor hires 50 volunteers to be spammed as much as they can manage, and then have them blog about it. Click here for more.

US man gets $2.6m for domain name: A US man has sold the domain name for $2.6m – after maintaining the site for just $20 a year since 1994. Click here for more.

Policing internet 'not ISP's job': The head of one of Britain's biggest internet providers has criticised the music industry for demanding that he act against pirates. Click here for more.

Learning from technology: The head of the government agency which promotes technology in schools says good things will come out of growing use of computers and the internet by children. Click here for more.

Cyber risk 'equals 9/11 impact': The US homeland security chief has made a heartfelt plea to Silicon Valley workers to stand up and be counted in the fight to secure the cyber highway. Click here for more.

Net gains and pains for journalism: The web has changed journalism for ever says Bill Thompson. Click here for more.

U.S. presidential election can be hacked: This year, the US will pick a new president using electronic voting machines that can be hacked, security experts said Thursday at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. Click here for more.

Experts split on 'cyberterrorism' threat: International experts have called for greater cooperation to fight threats to computer networks but differ on the definition of cyberterrorism, with a top British security official describing it as a "myth". Click here for more.

Watchdog wants global drive against online abuse: Hundreds of child abuse websites around the world could be shut down if countries worked together to tackle the problem, an internet watchdog said. Click here for more.

Young workers 'expect access to Facebook': Most managers will eventually have to relent on allowing staff to access social networking websites such as Facebook at work, a leading internet expert says. Click here for more.

Email snooping powers for Aust bosses: Australian companies may soon be able to intercept the emails and internet communications of their employees without their consent. Click here for more.

Action urged to keep net neutral: Tough action is required by US regulators to protect the principles that have made the net so successful, a leading digital rights lawyer has said. Click here for more.

Don't Be Evil, or don't lose value?: As Google comes under ever increasing scrutiny for the power it has over our lives, the Web giant is tiptoeing back from its long-held corporate motto, Don't Be Evil. Click here for more.

Woman pleads guilty to online 'hit': An American woman who advertised online for a hitman to kill her lover's wife has pleaded guilty to the murder-for-hire scheme. Click here for more.

Electronic communication changes language: "Technology's certainly affected language and increased our vocabulary," University of Queensland lecturer in language and comparative cultural studies, Dr Peter White, said. "What about Google - it's a verb now." Click here for more.

China becomes world's largest internet population: China has surpassed the United States to become the world's largest internet-using population, reaching 221 million by the end of February, state media said on Thursday. Click here for more.

Begging to be Spammed: As part of a month-long experiment, McAfee challenged 50 volunteers to generate as much spam as they could. To no one's surprise, it's easy going. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Children ignoring online safety rules: Millions of children who use social networking sites are exposing themselves to unnecessary risk by leaving personal details open for all to see, communications watchdog Ofcom said. Click here for more. will force paedophiles to register email addresses: "Wacky" Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, will today unveil plans to jail paedophiles who supply police with false email details, or fail to declare new addresses they register. Click here for more.

Fraud rampant in social networks: Social networking websites are fast becoming a key target for online fraud, according to a new report. Click here for more.

Men fall harder than women for internet fraud, study finds: When it comes to being taken in by internet fraudsters, men have a knack for losing cash, according to a new report from the US Internet Crime Complaint Centre. Click here for more.

Computer viruses hit one million: The number of viruses, worms and trojans in circulation has topped the one million mark. Click here for more.

Pets, romance, and secret shoppers: They're each among the top ruses used by Internet scam artists in 2007, according to a comprehensive report on online crime just issued by the Internet Crime Complaint Center, or IC3. Click here for more.

Paypal to block 'unsafe browsers': Web payment firm Paypal has said it will block "unsafe browsers" from using its service as part of wider anti-phishing efforts. Customers will first be warned that a browser is unsafe but could then be blocked if they continue using it. Click here for more.

We Caught You Naked! Spam scam gets personal: Cyber criminals have used every trick in the book to sucker computer users into clicking links that will infect their machines. But spam levels are on the up as a new outbreak has raised alarms with internet security specialist Marshal - because some people think they've been caught on video naked. Click here for more.

Trojan attacks jump 300% in six months, says study: Cyber-criminals are behind a dramatic rise in stealthy programs called "trojans" that infect computers to sell rogue software, send unwanted email or steal personal data, a study has found. Click here for more.

Thieves set up data supermarkets: Web criminals are stepping back from infecting computers themselves and creating "one-stop shops" which offer gigabytes of data for a fixed price. Click here for more.

Is it Right For Hackers to Fight Fire With Fire?: Fed up with the Storm worm, white-hat hackers decided to take matters into their own hands, raising ethical questions in the process. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Yahoo, Microsoft Bid Talk Heating Up: Yahoo is not opposed to Microsoft's (bid for the Web media company, as long as it is at the right price, Yahoo's board said on Monday in a letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Click here for more.

Microsoft willing to walk away from Yahoo: Microsoft is prepared to walk away from its US$43.6 billion ($55.44 billion) bid for Yahoo if the two sides can't agree on a price, says chief executive Steve Ballmer. Click here for more.

Microsoft unveils its web vision: Microsoft has lifted the lid on a new web service called Live Mesh, designed to connect a multiplicity of devices and applications online. Click here for more.

Mac the News

Mozilla boss takes a bite out of Apple over Safari: Mozilla CEO John Lilly has blasted Apple for including the Safari browser for Windows in its software update. He says it tricks Windows users into downloading the new browser by bundling it with updates for iTunes and QuickTime. Click here for more.

Unix, Linux and Open Source

Who Writes Linux? There Are a Lot of Unknowns: A new report breaks down who the big contributors are, and which companies are responsible for the most growth. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

40-gigabit internet connection used to dry laundry: Spokesman Hafsteinn Jonsson said that Lothberg – the only 'home user' to experience such incredible line-speed – used the massive router for her washing. "She mostly used it to dry her laundry," he told Swedish website The Local. Click here for more.

Boring couple sue Google over photos: An American couple is suing Web goliath Google, claiming photos on Google's popular mapping website violated their privacy, devalued their property and caused mental suffering, media reports say. Click here for more.

Coming soon: The Church of Googlology?: Those among you who are inreasingly concerned at Google's inexorable rise to total domination of Planet Earth would do well to check out this report into the vast number of domain names the search monolith has acquired, many of which indicate its sinister future intentions. 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.

Survey: Sweden beats U.S. as top Web-savvy nation: Sweden has overtaken the United States as the Web-savviest nation on the planet, a survey showed on Tuesday. One other European country, Denmark, was also more aggressive in taking advantage of the Internet than the United States, according to research carried out by IBM and the intelligence unit of British magazine The Economist. Click here for more.

Online Fraud Complaints Triple: Complaints about fraud perpetrated online tripled in 2002, and auction fraud continues to be the most frequently reported offense, according to figures from the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC). Click here for more.

More spam than ever: Anti-spam firm Brightmail recorded a 4-percent month-on-month increase in the amount of spam detected by its Probe Network. More alarmingly, compared to the same month last year, the amount of spam detected has almost doubled. 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 ( or to the Accounts Department (

Take care through May!

Rob Zorn 


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