January 2009 Topics  









    Past articles  









    Past Online Informers  









    January 2009 Topics  









    Actrix contact info  









    Essential sites  














    January 2009 Topics  
















    Quote of the month  

"When I took office, only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the Worldwide Web... Now even my cat has its own page."

– President Clinton, during announcement of Next Generation Internet initiative, 1996











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 2009 Actrix Online Informer!

Welcome to the January Actrix Online Informer. We're getting this Online Informer out just before 25 December so we can wish you all the merriest of Christmases and all the best for the new year. We would like to sincerely thank all our customers for their loyalty and support, and we hope you've been happy using our Internet products.

Please enjoy your holidays, whether you're travelling or having some quiet time at home. This month we've included a few short pieces that you might find helpful over the break.

Rob Zorn

Holiday helpdesk hours

The Actrix helpdesk will be closing at 7:00pm on Wednesday 24 and Wednesday 31 December. The helpdesk will be closed on Christmas Day and New Years day. An after hours service will be operating during these times, if you have a query or problem please leave a message, name and number, or E-mail support@actrix.co.nz and we will contact you as soon as possible.

Checking your email while on holiday

We hope you are able to have a decent break over the festive season and, if so, that you travel safely. Here's how to keep track of your email while you're away.

Actrix provides each customer with online access to their email. WebMail provides e-mail access whilst away from your normal home or office computer. It can be used from any location in New Zealand or worldwide as long as the computer has access to the Internet: e.g. at an Internet cafe, or a friend's computer (even if they're not with Actrix - shame on them).

To get to Actrix WebMail just go to www.actrix.co.nz and look for the My Actrix login box Ė located on right hand side of the Actrix Homepage. Enter your username (which is just the first part of your email address). Enter your password into the next field and click Login.

There are a number of things you can do with your account inside My Actrix, but the first thing you should notice is a big box telling you whether or not you have new mail. This is there to save you time if you haven't got any new mail. Pages like WebMail work hard as they have to pull in lots of data from other places, and it can be a little slow. This is often an issue from Internet cafes where there isn't enough bandwidth for everyone.

If you have new mail, click the big box and you'll land at a web page showing all the e-mails you have received since you last downloaded to your home computer.

Remember that WebMail will not allow you to access e-mails you have already downloaded to your home computer as those e-mails are no longer on the Actrix system. New messages will be in bold type, and messages that have already been read via WebMail will be in normal type. Message markings such as the paperclip for an attachment, and the ! for a priority message are all displayed as well.

Most of a normal email program's features are included with WebMail, including Reply and Forward. Attachments can be viewed and downloaded as well. There is also a functional address book allowing you to store addresses online. This is helpful as you can enter other people's email addresses before heading away on holiday, which saves you losing the piece of paper you wrote them on!

A search feature is available so you can sift through your messages for a certain word or topic. You can also create folders to sort and store your mail. Just remember that when you get back to your home computer, you won't be able to get to those folders, so only use this feature while you're away, or if you use WebMail all the time (and some people do). The Options feature allows you to change the way your emails look or are displayed.

If you delete a message using WebMail it won't be received on your machine once you return home and check your mail with your normal e-mail program. The Trash folder (in the folder list on the left) is turned on by default and anything you delete using WebMail goes there (and is permanently deleted automatically after seven days). If you refresh the folder list or log back in again after deleting something the Trash folder should have a 'purge' option you can use to manually (and permanently) delete everything. If you want to get something back out of Trash that hasn't been permanently deleted yet, you can go in and manually put it back into your inbox so that your e-mail program will be able to see it again at home.

You can also use WebMail to access your Spam folder (also in the folder list to the left). This is where our Spam our filters send all the spam they catch. Feel free to have a look at what you've missed out on, but remember, a lot of spam isn't pleasant.

There is a WebMail Help menu which has a mine of information presented in a relaxed easy to read style to assist you in finding your way around. Alternatively the Actrix Helpdesk can assist you with WebMail inquiries Ė 0800 228 749.

E-mail on the go is never easier than with Actrix WebMail. If you think you might need to use it, have a bit of a play with it before you head off on your trip. Send yourself a message or two with it, explore the different menus available and familiarise yourself with how the system works. It might even be worth planning a trip just to test it out!

There are also times when some well-meaning friend sends you an e-mail with an enormous load of attachments (party photos are a classic example) and this e-mail takes forever to download on dialup, or just gets stuck half way, meaning any new e-mail behind it is inaccessible. With Actrix web mail, you can simply log into your account online, find the e-mail that's a problem, and then delete it. When you go back to your email program, you'll find the problem gone.

One final word of advice – WebMail from Internet cafes is always a risk. Machines in public places can contain key-logging software to steal your password. There's no need to be too paranoid, but don't deal with sensitive or really private matters from Internet cafes. And make sure you change your password as soon as you get home.

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Setting up a vacation message

While you are away and not responding regularly to emails, it can be a good idea to set up a vacation message that automatically gets sent in reply to emails you receive. This lets your correspondents know you are away and not ignoring them.

The vacation message system is available in My Actrix (see article above) under Miscellaneous Options. You can set the subject of your auto-reply (something like "Thanks for your message" or "I'll get back to you soon") and can put in whatever you'd like as the body of the email.

Your incoming mail arrives and is stored in your inbox as usual. To unset your vacation message just return to vacation messaging in My Actrix and click the Remove button

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 turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).


Kevin writes: Hi there, Always enjoy your newsletter, in particular interesting sites. However, on opening link to World Fact Book, the headline screamed at me a majestic offer to improve my manhood! Then I checked out the footy on BBC sports and blow me down (is that rude?) there was another one. Based on the fact that these are good reputable sites that would clearly be of interest to kids, why on earth would they go down the track of resorting to this sort of nonsense? I know of course this is clearly out of your hands etc – just curious as to why even the good stuff is now getting grubby, Keep up the good work, Regards, Kevin

Hi Kevin, Thanks for your kind words, and I hear you, brother. When I just went to the Fact Book I got the banner telling me I was the millionth visitor (a lie) and that I should click the banner to claim my prize (fat chance). I'm not sure I can answer your question except to say these websites are probably in an advertising deal with some company that feeds them rotating advertising banners. They may not know what's coming and probably don't have much control over it. It may be their website hosting company that is in such a deal making them even less in control.


Peter writes: "Internet littered with abandoned sites." I recall seeing a programme which scanned one's bookmarks/favourites and reported on sites no longer available. Anyone know what it might have been/is?

Hi Peter, I did a bit of a Google – and it seems there are programs out there that do just that. AM Deadlink might be one to try. It's small and free and gets a good review from PC World.

The program is available here: www.aignes.com/deadlink.htm.

The PC World review is at: www.pcworld.com/downloads/file/fid,22977-order,1-page,1-c,alldownloads/description.html.


Last month Brian Dennehy, from Actrix Support, suggested downloading an older version of Adobe reader might help a customer with a problem. The following response is from another customer, Jim.

Hi Brian, Just a comment on your response to an emailed query in December's Online Informer. I do quite a bit of reconditioning old PCs for various folk who just want the basics and don't have much money. Often I install an old version of any given software because these run better (for obvious reasons) on old operating systems like Win 98. The first place I look is: www.oldversion.com.

For example, they have versions of Acrobat Reader from 2 (1.4 MB) right through to 8.11 which weighs in at a massive 22.3 MB – truly the greatest example of bloatware in the known universe. I think it was your Accounts emails that put me onto Foxit, which I now install on every PC I set up. Pass on my thanks.

Your caveat regarding the need to scan files still holds, but as yet I've never struck problems at this site. Regards, Jim


Jane writes: Speaking about spam, do you know of a free anti-spam program I could download? I'm sick of getting the same ones through or do you have any other ideas, please to help with this? Thanks and Happy Christmas to you all at Actrix. Jane

Hi Jane, One popular anti-Spam program is Mailwasher. It was developed by a New Zealander and is very easy to use (http://mailwasher.net).

It works by connecting to your mailbox and showing you the headers of everything thatís there. You can then delete any emails you donít want before you open up your email program. You still have to deal with them, but at least you donít have to download or view them.

You can also set Mailwasher up to bounce spam emails back to the sender giving the impression that that your email address is invalid so theyíll (hopefully) take you off their list. We ask that you donít use this feature, though. Thereís very little point in that itís very hard to get off a spam list, and all it does is increase server load. Spammers use fake sending addresses most of the time so your bounce wonít get through. All it will do is generate another bounce and so on.

The Mailwasher trial version is free, but can only be used with one email address. You can pay to upgrade to more and better features.

Actrix also offers CyberFilter, which is a lot more radical, but well-suited to some domestic users. It works by not allowing anything through to you unless you have "whitelisted" the sending address. Emails from addresses you blacklist get deleted automatically, and all others get held until you log in and either approve or reject them. You can find out more about CyberFilter at http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=68.


Jo writes: Hi there, Just wanted to ask a couple of questions about getting a website online as I had a few problems. In a nutshell a friend made my site for me (using Publisher 2003) and we contacted the hosting company - who then started talking about FTP client software (which I didn't have). They then talked about a free one (Filezilla). I sent the website files by e-mail and the hosting people then said they would have to convert the files to html and this would take a while (which it did).

My questions are – why would they have needed to convert to html – surely since we used a web publishing software it should have been in html already? What benefit is there is having the FTP client software? and Now that I'm up and running how do I update – do I need to e-mail files and wait again or is there a better system? Cheers, Jo

Hi Jo, HTML is pretty simple stuff in concept, but there is a little bit of a knack to it. Some programs are good for producing HTML documents, like FrontPage, Dream Weaver and a few others, and some are not. Publisher is really designed for producing desktop stuff which is very different from designing a web page. You can't really approach it the same way because HTML is a bit stricter about how things can be laid out. Publisher's feature of saving in html doesn't work very well because it has to produce very complicated coding to get what you've designed in a desktop publishing environment to work as a web page.

The images on websites, for example, usually aren't part of the web page. They exist somewhere else (usually in an images directory) and the HTML code tells the page how and where to display them. Desktop publishing has the images actually present, and there is all sorts of potential for this to go wrong when converting from desktop environment to web.

I would never recommend using Publisher or Word or any program not designed to be an HTML editor. If you want to try a free one, NVU has a good reputation. http://net2.com/nvu/.

I haven't seen the files Publisher produced for you, so I can't comment with certainty, but I'm not surprised they didn't work very well and needed to be re-done.

FTP (file transfer protocol) allows you to connect directly to your website. So if a file needs changing or updating, you do that at your computer, connect to the site using FTP, and transfer the corrected file up. It then overwrites the existing one and your changes are live. It's very simple to do and saves you having to wait for (and pay, presumably) the company to make the changes. Filezilla is a very good program for this and one I use all the time.

There's a short introduction to HTML we put in a past Online Informer, http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/htmlstuff.htm,  but it's very basic and a little dated now. If you Googled "HTML tutorial" or something you'd find endless free help understanding and using it. There's also a brief introduction to getting a site set up with Actrix at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/0509getweb.html.


Paula writes: We have this Winweb system pop up over and over again. It tells us that someone is trying to get credit card details through Mozila Firefox. How can we get rid of this? Thanks, Paula

Hi Paula, It looks like you have a Winweb Security Spyware infection. WinWeb is a fake security program that actually tries to steal your data, not protect you. You need to get rid of this pretty smartly. It's also a general pain in the neck with the pop-ups, and will slow your computer down. The warnings about someone stealing your data are probably false.

More information about it can be found at www.2-spyware.com/remove-winweb-security-2008.html.

I would download and use a program like Spybot Search and Destroy. You can get that free from www.spybot.com/index2.html. Spybot should be able to find it and remove it. Look at the report Spybot gives you after you've run it.

If spybot doesnít find and remove it, you may have to take your machine into a specialist who should be able to remove it for you, such as your local computer repair store.

If youíre not confident running spybot, our helpdesk can probably talk you through it, but to save time, at least download the program first. Install and run it yourself (it's quite safe) if you can. If not, the help desk can be reached on 0800 228749.

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Interesting 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!

Top 10 fascinating secrets taken to the grave
http://listverse.com/history/top-10-fascinating-secrets-taken-to-the-grave – "Taking secrets to the grave is nothing new and eventually we will all most likely have a few secrets we take with us – perhaps to protect others or maybe to protect our own reputation or legacy. Some secrets, because of the historic consequences, or the attention given to them over the years, turn into a kind of mystery. This list consists of 10 such secrets that have been taken to the great beyond."
The 100 best films of 2008
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article5229263.eceThe Times and Times Online critics picked their favourite films of the 2008. Here is what they. Do you agree with their selection? What do you think they missed? What were your favourites? Click the film titles to read the reviews, and have your say.
www.addictionary.org/ – "Addictionary is a site for word lovers and those who like to see our beloved English language grow in serious or humorous ways. [It was built] to empower word-play and to help lovers of word-play showcase and market their cleverness and creativity to the world." You can browse recent entries, subscribe to the Word of the Day or make your own contribution.

NZ On Screen
www.nzonscreen.com/ – "In 2007 NZ On Air initiated the NZ On Screen project as an integral part of its digital strategy. Since 1989 NZ On Air has funded over 15,000 hours of local television production. Much of this content, as well as thousands more hours supported by broadcasters, film investors and other funding sources, is not easily accessible to the public. NZ On Screen is unlocking the treasure chest, providing access to the wealth of television, film, music video and new media produced in NZ, along with knowledgeable background information."
Unnecessary knowledge
www.unnecessaryknowledge.com – Unnecessary knowledge is a website full of unnecessary knowledge. Click refesh endlessly to be served up one snippet of irrelevant trivia after another. Actually, these little factoids are often quite interesting.
Daily routines
http://dailyroutines.typepad.com/daily_routines/ – Want to know how to be more productive by better spending your time? These daily routines are "culled from books, newspapers, magazines, and websites and reveal how prolific authors, successful scientists and others of note ordered their days.
Investigating atheism
www.investigatingatheism.info/ – Lately the world has seen a spate of books on atheism which have gotten many people thinking. This well-designed, easy reading site appears to take an objective look at the issue, explaining the various types of atheism and presenting both the strengths and weaknesses of each variant, and of the general concept itself.
Password checker
www.passwordmeter.com/ – "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."
What were the authors thinking?
www.funny2.com/literature.htm Ė "Racing through space at unimaginable speeds, Capt Dimwell could only imagine how fast his spaceship was going." That's just one example of these truly awful pieces of writing. There are many, many more.
The Top 10 Everything of 2008
www.time.com/time/specials/2008/top10 – This is Time Magazine's list of the best of all sorts of things, together with descriptions and photos. There is surely something for everyone. Topics range from Animal Stories and Awkward Moments to Oddball News Stories and Scientific Deiscoveries.


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

The world can see your home: Big brother is watching – and New Zealanders appear to be enjoying being watched. They have shown an "overwhelming response" to images of their neighbourhoods going live on a new online mapping service, according to Internet giant Google. Click here for more.

Hackers continually at the gate: Four New Zealanders ranging from a teenage boy to a senior citizen went about their online day-to-day tasks on poorly secured computers yesterday in an experiment on security. Click here for more.

Web searches feed health fears: Health information online is breeding a generation of cyberchondriacs – people who needlessly fear the worst diagnosis after surfing the net, say researchers. Click here for more.

Spam on rise after brief reprieve: In the world of spam, what goes down must come up. Two weeks after the shutdown of web hosting firm McColo, which saw a two-thirds drop in spam worldwide, spam numbers are creeping up again. Click here for more.

We are what we google: Rob Muldoon once said that Kiwis who emigrated to Australia raised the IQ of both countries. That might have been true in the 1980s, but the tables have now turned, at least according to the search engine Google. In 2008 it seems like it's the intelligent Kiwis who have left our shores for Australia. Click here for more.

Thumbs down for dial-up: Kiwis are world champions at checking e-mails, but drag the chain with rusty dial-up Internet connections. Click here for more.

Microsoft busts pirates selling on TradeMe: Microsoft says a New Zealand-based website has been selling counterfeit software across four continents, shipping the software from China. Click here for more.

New look for Stuff.co.nz: "Our planned enhancements to Stuff.co.nz early in the new year will significantly improve the user experience and position us for even greater growth in 2009 and beyond," said Stephen Smith, Group Head of Digital for Fairfax Media. Click here for more.


Britney tops Yahoo search for fourth year straight: She did it yet again: Britney Spears was the most popular search term on Yahoo for the fourth year in a row - her seventh time topping the list. Click here for more.

Too much TV and web bad for kids: Spending a lot of time watching TV, playing video games and surfing the web makes children more prone to a range of health problems including obesity and smoking. Click here for more.

Wikipedia aims for less-scary editing: Concerned that many would-be contributors to Wikipedia are being scared away, the foundation that runs the internet encyclopedia is getting a US$890,000 grant to try to make the editing process more user-friendly. Click here for more.

Technology is rewiring our brains, claim boffins: What does a teenage brain on Google look like? Do all those hours spent online rewire the circuitry? Could these kids even relate better to emoticons than to real people? These sound like concerns from worried parents. But they're coming from brain scientists. Click here for more.

Warning over internet painkillers: UK experts have warned of the dangers of purchasing drugs online after a study showed wide availability of strong painkillers over the internet. Click here for more.

New domain to be web's phone book: From 3 December companies will be able to buy addresses associated with a new web domain. Click here for more.

Israeli Website advises using wisdom of Quran: A new Web site launched by an Israeli university professor and his Bedouin students aims to address life's everyday quandaries from the perspective of an ancient sacred text: the Quran. Click here for more.

Obama urged to create White House cybersecurity chief: Inadequate cybersecurity is posing an unacceptable risk to US national security, according to a report released Monday that recommends President Elect Barack Obama create of a new White House post to fix the problem. Click here for more.

Google, Mozilla Heat Up Browser Wars: The flurry of activity in recent days surrounding the Web browser market makes it feel more like 1998 than 2008. Now if only we had the economy of 1998, too. Click here for more.

Pointless spam ruling the inbox: This is my seventh year of spam surveys - my annual trawl through internet sewers in search of meaning about the human condition, its motivations and frailties. And, if possible, to determine the spam trend of the year. Click here for more.

Spam levels climb as criminals replace crippled botnets: Four weeks after spam levels plummeted when a rogue hosting company was yanked off the internet, junk mail volumes are again up, says a researcher. Click here for more.

No Passing Grade For U.S. in Cyberwar Test: The United States is unprepared for a major hostile attack against vital computer networks, government and industry officials said on Thursday after participating in a two-day "cyberwar" simulation. Click here for more.

Aussie couple lose home via Facebook: A legal move believed to be a world first has opened the way for New Zealanders to be served legal documents through their Facebook sites. Click here for more.

Love, loss and the world wide web: "Starting up a business is similar to falling in love," said Loic Le Meur, organiser of the Le Web conference that brought the cream of Europe's web developers together in Paris this week. Click here for more.

Man vs 'human flesh search engine': A man who lost his job and was harassed by strangers after his infidelity to his late wife was detailed online has won China's first case against internet vigilantism. Click here for more.

Bash Bush site sells on eBay: The internet entrepreneur behind an online video game inviting users to throw footwear at US President George W Bush says he sold the property on eBay in just four days. Click here for more.

Severed cable disrupts net access: Internet and phone communications between Europe, the Middle East, and Asia have been seriously disrupted after submarine cables were severed. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Know your viruses: I am often amazed (and sometimes disturbed) by some of the well-intentioned, but totally off-the-mark information presented as gospel on the internet. There are hundreds of forums bursting with sometimes funny, sometimes entertaining and often dangerous solutions to common, everyday problems. Click here for more.

US shuts down 'scareware' sellers: More than one million Americans have been caught out by a ruse peddling fake security software, say US authorities. Click here for more.

Spammers get personal with 'spear phishing' attacks: Yes, guys, those spam emails for Viagra or baldness cream just might be directed to you personally. So, too, are many of the other crafty come-ons clogging inboxes, trying to lure us to fake websites so criminals can steal our personal information. Click here for more.

Yahoo to delete 'online behaviour' data faster: Yahoo will shorten the amount of time that it retains data about its users' online behaviour - including internet search records - to three months from 13 months and expand the range of data that it "anonymizes" after that period. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Windows internet share drops below 90 percent: The number of Windows users surfing the web fell below 90 percent for the first time, making for Microsoft's biggest market share drop in the past two years, according to new statistics. Click here for more.

IE share slips under 70%, Firefox surges past 20%: The market share of Microsoft 's Internet Explorer (IE) dropped under the 70% mark last month for the first time since web metrics vendor Net Applications started keeping tabs on browsers, says the company. Click here for more.

OS and Browser Stats are Milestones, Not Omens: Traffic stats show a continued decline in Microsoft's browser and operating system dominance, but it's hardly panic time in Redmond. Click here for more.

Microsoft to sell full range of web software: Microsoft will soon launch a full range of online versions of its software products, including the Office suite. Click here for more.

Microsoft Admits IE Still Flawed: Barely a day after Microsoft updated its Internet Explorer browser to patch no less than four separate vulnerabilities, a new flaw has emerged that could allow remote code execution. Click here for more.

Mac the News

Apple Recommends Antivirus for Mac Users: Apple Macs have long had a reputation for being free of the viruses and malware that often plagues Windows. But even Apple is now admitting that its users could benefit from protection from security threats. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Man trademarks ;-) emoticon: A Russian businessman has trademarked the combination of semicolon, dash and bracket that make up a winking face 'emoticon' in texts and emails. Click here for more.

Half of women prefer web to sex, says survey : Many women would rather surf the net than have sex, according to an Intel-sponsored survey. 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.

Where the Net Is Heading in 2004: Making forecasts about the Internet is always a dangerous business. The Web has stubbornly defied conventional wisdom in all manner of areas. Clothes and other high-touch goods would never sell online? Wrong. Everyone would have broadband by 2005? Wrong again. Click here for more.

Bored teens blow £80m in e-shopping spree: Three "bored" German teenagers blew a staggering £80 million in just two hours after they ran amok in an online spending spree. Click here for more.

What should I do if the Internet goes down?: [Humour] Every year we grow more and more dependent on the Internet. But would you know what to do if your connection suddenly went down? 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 have a great year!

Rob Zorn


Copyright © 2009 Actrix Networks Limited | Contact: editor@actrix.co.nz