February 2009 Topics  









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    February 2009 Topics  
















    Quote of the month  

"The Internet is the end of civilizations, cultures, interests and ethics."

– Official Iraqi government statement











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 February 2009 Actrix Online Informer!

Welcome to the February Actrix Online Informer. We hope you're enjoying summer. In case you're new to Actrix, the Actrix Online Informer is produced monthly and sent free to all customers. The purpose of the Informer is to help you get the most out of the Internet. While we will occasionally have articles explaining some of our products, we make a conscious effort to keep advertising to a minimum. Having said that, this month we've included an article on moving up to broadband. A lot of people email in with queries about what we have to offer and what they need to do to get faster Internet. It can be a bit confusing because broadband works a bit differently to what dialup customers are used to. Hopefully, by presenting the information in a question and answer format, we've been able to make things reasonably simple to understand.

Our help desk staff assist people through the move to broadband all day every day, so they're pretty good at helping you through it. Give them a call if you'd prefer to have things explained to you in person. It's free (0800 228749).

Rob Zorn

Google Maps and Street Level

Most of us are probably aware that Google's new mapping service has been in the news a fair bit lately. This is mainly because of its great Street Level view feature which allows you to virtually walk down a street just about anywhere and look right and left into shops or houses. A number of people have complained that their privacy has been invaded or that they've been snapped in embarrassing positions or locations.

However, most people who have used Street Level will tell you it's pretty harmless in most cases. I've had a virtual walk up and down my own street and have not seen anything I wouldn't have by walking up and down it in the real world. In fact you can see a good deal less.

Street Level can have some real uses. You could use it, for example, to see what someone's house looks like before you go there, but mostly it's just great for playing around.

Google Maps and Street Level are very easy to use. First, just go to www.maps.google.co.nz. You'll end up looking down on a map of New Zealand. You can zoom in or out of the map using the slider bar over on the left of the page. At any time, you can use your mouse to drag the map in any direction, just as if you were sliding it across a table top. You can also choose whether to view in map, satellite or terrain modes, depending on what you want to know about what you're looking at. The switches for these are at the top right.

The further in you zoom, the more detailed things get. Once you've zoomed in on wherever you want to virtually be, you can turn Street Level view on by simply dragging the little orange man at the top of the zoom slider and dropping him on the desired location on the map. Suddenly you'll find yourself standing on the street. Drag the map to look in different directions, and click the white arrows to move further into or out of the view.

In fact you can activate Street Level view at any stage, no matter how much you are zoomed in or out. Simply drag and drop that little orange man. If you're bored, a great game to play is to zoom right out so all of New Zealand is below you, and then drag and drop him onto random locations and see where you end up. You can find yourself in some beautiful remote spots, or smack in the middle of a big city. It's a bit like having your own malfunctioning tardis!

If you want to go to a specific address, just type it into the Address bar above the map. Include number, street name, suburb and you'll go right there. Because this works for just about anywhere (in New Zealand or the world!), it's a great way to re-visit houses you used to live in to see how much they've changed. It was fun, for example, to go back to 6 Cameron Avenue in Sydney, Australia and see that the pine tree I fell out of when I was four-years-old is still there.

Once you've finished playing with Street Level, you may want to check out some of the serious Google Map tools. The Get Directions feature, for example, is pretty sophisticated. You can enter two locations to get directions between them. You can even say whether you want directions for walking or driving and whether you want to avoid highways or tolls. Once you have the directions worked out there's even a feature to email them to others so no one will miss your party.

For a full set of Google Map features, including how to use them, see http://maps.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=68259.

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Moving to broadband in questions and answers

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. Here's the basic facts broken down into questions and answers.

How does the quality of Actrix broadband stack up against the competition?

In terms of the speed and reliability of Actrix broadband, we are second to none. In fact, in the 2008 Consumer ISP Survey, Actrix had the highest customer satisfaction level in the Broadband category (along with Service/Support).

How much will broadband cost me?

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 up to 140MB. 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.

What do you mean "bundled with tolls"?

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 – at our special rates – rather than your current tolls provider. Subscribing to Actrix Tolls entitles you to the $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/. if you check our tolls pricing comparison chart and you'll see we're pretty competitive.

Changing you to Actrix Tolls can all be done at our end once we have your consent. 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.

How do Actrix broadband costs compare?

A wide variety of pricing plans exists among ISPs, but it's difficult to find anyone offering a cheaper price, or more monthly data at broadband entry levels. Here is a brief comparison of some entry level plans.

Actrix: $27.95 (bundled with tolls) per month for up to 140MB per day (approx 4GB per month)
Telecom: $29.95 per month for 500MB per month
Orcon $34.95 (bundled with tolls) for 1GB per month
Slingshot $29.95 (bundled with tolls) for 2GB per month.

What's the difference between dialup and broadband?

The main difference between broadband and dialup, of course, is the speed. With broadband, it is possible to have much faster speeds because a different technology is used. The other difference is that the Internet is always on (as long as your broadband modem is switched on). This means, as soon as you fire up your computer, you're online.

Can I use the phone while I'm connected to broadband?

Yes you can!. 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 pick up the phone while you're online and your connection won't drop.

Do I need a special modem for broadband?

Yes, you do need to purchase a special modem. You can't use the internal one that probably 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 computer's case off or do anything radical. If you purchase a modem from us, we'll ship it to you already preconfigured with your unique settings. This makes things even easier. When it arrives give us a call. We'll activate your account from our end, talk you through plugging it in and, hey-presto, you're online with broadband.

How much does a broadband modem cost?

At this stage we sell three different modems; A single-port Dynalink modem for $84.95 (best for people with one computer), a multi-port Dynalink 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. Prices quoted include GST but not postage and packaging.

Is broadband billed the same way as dialup?

Broadband is billed in a different way. Rather than being billed according to how long you're online, it's all about traffic. 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.

What's different about the way Actrix allocates traffic?

Most ISPs allow you a certain amount of traffic per month and once you have used it, they throttle your speed back for the rest of the month unless you pay more. The Actrix approach is 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 6pm that night. if you go hell for leather and quickly use up your allocation after 6pm, we'll throttle you back again, but only until 2am the following morning. This is known as "Double Happy". If you're on the 70MB plan, for example, we actually allow you that 70MB twice each day (140MB).

Over all, however, the Actrix daily, rather than monthly approach 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.

Can I easily change plans when I'm on broadband?

Most people moving from dialup start on the basic plan. If you are unsure whether the 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.  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. If you decide to change plan, just click on the price of the new plan you would like, select existing customer, and follow the on screen instructions. Alternately, feel free to give the helpdesk a call on 0800 228749.

Are the any installation charges?

With broadband plans there will be a one-time installation fee charged not by Actrix, but by Telecom. Usually a basic installation will cost $99.00 (inc GST), but if you decide to sign up for a 12-month contract with us then we will pay this for you.

Will I need to get a technician in?

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, 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 12-month contract, reducing the fee to just $149.00. We can also organise all this for you as part of the deal.

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.

Will I need filters on other stuff connected to phone lines in the house?

Yes, but these aren't expensive or complicated. You will need to have an ADSL filter put on each phone jack that has a device connected to it such as a phone, fax machine or Sky Digital decoder. 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.

How long will it take to get up and going?

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 your broadband is up and going. There are sometimes 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 and 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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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).


Peter writes: A couple of items regarding the Informer:

1. AM-Deadlink, which you might recall you said that PC World had given a good write-up, and you might also recall that I said that I had installed and 4,000+ bookmarks rated as 'OK'. Over the last weekend (without personally checking all 4,000+ !) I came across eleven dead links. I was suspicious about AM-Deadlink when it ran so fast that I couldn't see it pinging that number of sites in the time.

2. Regarding Jo who is having problems getting a website up, it is not necessary with Actrix to use an FTP program because files can be transferred directly without a hassle via the User Homepage. I find that the free programme HTML-kit is good for writing, setting up and checking web pages prior to sending to the Actrix server. For the setting up of forms and such on my website, which required a file in the server software, I found Actrix staff MOST helpful.

Have a good Christmas all at Actrix, and keep up the good work in 2009.

Hi Peter, and thanks for the feedback. I am sorry to hear that AM-Deadlink was a fizzer. You're also quite right about the fact that you do not need an FTP program to transfer files up to your free Actrix user website. Every Actrix customer can have one of these and they're accessible under My Actrix on the Actrix home page. Using the web-based upload facility is pretty easy, and there is a page of instructions on how to make your free website here: http://www.actrix.co.nz/page.php?id=91. However, the free user homepages are not to be used for business purposes.

You're also right in that if you need a few extra bells and whistles, such as an email feedback form, you can usually have some special files added to make this possible. The first think to do would be to email support@actrix.co.nz with a description of the function you need, and they'll advise you from there. It's good to hear that you found staff helpful with regards to this.


Marcus writes: I had an IT chap put on some security on my PC a while ago but it has lapsed. I tried to update it and am not sure whether I have entered the right site or have downloaded a nasty. I have included a few screen shots in a Word document. Is this program legit? It keeps wanting me to update e.g. register, including payment. Is this a good system or do you have any suggestions for protection? The downloaded system keeps giving me a firewall alert telling me to upgrade which then takes me to the registration (payment screen). It also tells me I have lots of bad viruses, spyware etc on my PC. Any advice you or any one else can give gratefully received. Have a great new year. Regards, Marcus

Hi Marcus, It does appear from your screen shots that you are infected with some spyware known as 'System Security'. It gives you all sorts of fake warnings about infections you don't actually have – in an attempt to scare you into handing over some money and your credit card details. You need to get this off your machine as soon as possible. If you feel confident, you could download and run a legitimate spyware detector/remover such as Spybot which you can get for free at www.safer-networking.org/en/download/index.html. This may get rid of it. If it doesn't, or youíre not confident downloading and running Spybot, then I suggest you take your computer to a professional and have 'System Security' removed. Your yellow pages should help you find someone nearby offering this sort of service.

You can find out more about 'System Security' at http://www.411-spyware.com/system-security-removal. Some manual removal instructions are also provided, but I would not recommend you follow them unless you know what you are doing as they involve making alterations to your all-important registry.

I hope that helps.


Matthew writes: Dear Editor, In my Outlook Express (6) I have created a new folder under Local Folders named "Family" to which I have moved a number of emails concerning my family. I would like to save this folder, with many entries, in one hit to a different partition on my hard drive named "E" ( to later burn it to a disk). I looked at the help file of Outlook Express and followed the instruction to compact the folder. When I go back to the file menu the item "save as" is greyed out and I cannot save this folder (family) to my hard drive. Is there a way to save an Outlook Express folder to the hard drive? Thanks, Matthew.

Hi Matthew, There are various ways to save a local email folder to your hard drive. The hardest part is finding where Outlook Express keeps folders on your hard drive. Once you locate them copying and pasting them anywhere you like is pretty easy and just done the standard way. Google will give you lots of pages that instruct on how to do this such as the one here.

If this, or similar pages of instructions don't work for you, there is a more manual method that might be easier. Open Outlook Express and click on your folder in the Folder list so that all of its emails are displayed. Then minimise Outlook Express by clicking on the two little squares to the top right. Use your mouse to resize Outlook Express so that it takes up about half your screen.

Open Windows Explorer and browse to the folder you want to save the emails in. Minimise Windows Explorer and use your mouse to resize it so it takes up the other half of your screen.

Click one of the emails in the email list in Outlook Express and then click Ctrl-A. This should select all the emails in the folder you want to save. Then simply use your mouse to drag them from Outlook Express to the desired folder in Windows Explorer. They will now be in your new folder and, handily, they also remain in Outlook Express.


Tina writes: Please can you help me. I have two emails with photos in the outbox, and want to delete them, as I can't send them for unknown reasons away. They were supposed to go to Europe, and I wonder if their email has trouble. Each time a window comes up reminding me of them. When I go to it, I am in trouble, ending the computer. Regards, Tina.

Hi Tina, This sort of thing can be a real nuisance. I think the most likely thing happening is that the files you are trying to send are just too big. So Outlook Express spends all its time trying to send them, and can't cope with the demand. Hence the computer hangs when you try to go in and delete them. However, if that were the case, then you probably wouldnít be able to be sending me emails as Outlook Express would try to get those ones off before it sent any others. Hmmmmm.

Anyway, the first thing you could try is to put Outlook Express in offline mode. You can do this by clicking online/offline which is down the bottom of the program towards the right. You can also switch into offline mode under the File menu. This may stop Outlook Express trying to send those emails. If it stops tying itself up in knots, it may let you in to delete them.

The second possibility is that those emails you are trying to send have become corrupt. That may explain why you are able to send me emails even though your outbox is hung on those other ones. If so, then the only way to fix the problem is to delete Outlook Expressís Outbox.dbx file. This isnít as drastic as it sounds, but you may want to get someone to help you.

All you have to do is find the Outbox.dbx file and delete it. Donít worry, Outlook Express will create a fresh new file when it re-starts.

The best way to find the Outbox.dbx file is to search your hard drive for it.

Make sure Outlook Express is not currently open and click on Start, and then Search. The screen that appears will give you a few options on the left; click on "All files and folders".

In the box labelled "All or part of the file name" type in: *.dbx - Make sure the "Look in" field is set to look in your C: drive, and then click on Search. It may take a few minutes, but the search should bring up a few results including Outbox.dbx.

Rename Outbox.dbx to Outbox.old or something similar by right-clicking the file name and selecting "Rename" from the menu (or just delete it).

Close down the Search window and open Outlook Express. You should now have a brand new Outbox completely clear of any emails that were causing problems!

See how you go, and I hope that helps!


Rosco writes: Hi, Kevin's comments about the rubbish adverts accompanying The World Fact Book reminded me of my visit. I was the millionth visitor weeks ago and again today when I visited via http://www.bartleby.com/151/. I remembered I'd been to The World Fact Book site via www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook before. It takes longer getting there and much of the text is the same. But... weeks ago, and again today the bartleby version still has Helen and Michael as PM and deputy whereas the CIA version has had John and Bill in the positions since at least December. Looks like the money from adverts cant match that from the US govt. Maybe there's a more direct way of accessing the CIA version.

Thanks for your comments, Rosco. Looks like the CIA website has a permanent re-direct on it. And what do you know, I was the millionth visitor to the bartleby site today too. Lucky aye!?

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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 stupidest thieves
http://listverse.com/crime/top-10-stupidest-thieves/ – Sometimes the best planned crimes can go horribly wrong, either by accident or through stupidity. This is a list of 10 really stupid thieves. Some are so incredibly dumb they're like characters from comedy movies.
Correlation diagram generator
http://en.genzu.net/sokan/ – I'm not sure what's going on here other than that the site's originator does "not assume the responsibility concerning the trouble at all." You enter the names of five people and then a correlation diagram is generated showing the nature of the relationships between all the people. It's all chance of course, though you can tell some sort of calculation is going on behind the scenes. Sometimes the results are surprisingly accurate. Mostly they're just nonsense. Endless fun! See the home site (http://en.genzu.net/) for more bizarre generators.
www.foodista.com/ – Foodista is an online cooking encyclopedia based on the wiki concept. That means anyone with an account can edit recipes and make them better – rather than have multiple versions of the same recipe. Combinations of foods, recipes, techniques and tools are all covered, and users can upload their own photographs. The hope is to revolutionise how people learn and share about food and cooking.

How to rebuild your computer and reinstall Windows from scratch
www.labnol.org/software/rebuild-computer-and-reinstall-windows/6130/ – "If you are planning to rebuild a 'slow' computer by reinstalling Windows (XP or Vista) from scratch, here's a pre-installation checklist and some time saving tips. Your existing data on the Windows PC will not be affected even if you do a clean install instead of repair or upgrade." Note: This is only recommended for the experienced and confident. Actrix cannot be responsible for what happens if you try this, and provides no guarantees.
100 Freeware software applications
www.nextora.com/100-best-freeware-software.php – Here's yet another list of free programs for download. Categories include web browsers, download managers, chat and voice, office packages, security, video and sound, and many more. And the usual disclaimer applies again. It's a useful list, and much of what's on offer is familiar and respected. However, Actrix doesn't endorse or support any of the programs. You download and install at your own risk.
2008 in images
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2008/12/2008_the_year_in_photographs_p.html – This collection of a20 images is amazing, with each more stunning than the one before. Forty are presented per page, so when you get to the end of the first lot, click Next Entry. Not all the images are pleasant viewing, but the worst ones do not appear unless you click to deliberately display them. The images are quite large, too, so pages may load very slowly for those without broadband.
Which book?
www.whichbook.net/ – This is a really good idea. To the left your given a list of book characteristics. If you click them a slider appears that you can move left or right acording to what you like in a book. You can use four of these before clicking Go! to receive a list of books that fit your choices. For each a short synopsis is given along with a short extract. If you live in the UK, you can click the Borrow button to see which libraries have it.
50 things we know now (we didn't know this time last year)
http://www2.tbo.com/ – "Well, well, well. Wasn't 2008 a newsy little year? Believe it or not, stuff happened that had nothing to do with the presidential election, gas prices or Michael Phelps. Not that you'd have an easy time sifting through all the media debris to find the information that actually meant something. With so many distractions, you probably didn't hear that using Facebook makes you a better employee, or that drinking wine can help you avoid lung cancer, or that doing tai chi makes life easier for asthmatics. (Unless you do it in a public park wearing something approximating pajamas, of course. Then you just look silly.)"
http://www.spreeder.com/ Ė "Welcome to spreeder! To begin... paste in the contents of what you'd like to read, or just click the spreed! button to try it out. Click on the "tutorial" link to learn how to use spreeder to increase your reading speed. Click the settings link to change things like wpm (how fast words are flashed), chunk size (number of words flashed at a given time), background color, and much more."
Cannon Challenge
http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/future-weapons/games/cannon/cannon.html – Thanks Big Dave, for sending suggesting this one. Big Dave says it's the most fun he's had online in ages. You get just 15 shots using your tank to take out enemy targets. If you're successful you can move on to the next level. It takes a bit of experimenting with elevation and velocity settings, but you get the hang of it after a while.


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

New Year's means rush of online daters: New Year's Eve has galvanised many single New Zealanders into action, with online dating activity increasing dramatically over the last week, says one dating website. Click here for more.

Who Googled what?: Games, Bebo, YouTube and Trade Me topped New Zealanders' searches on Google in 2008, but the results also reveal a curious year of internet searches, the Sunday Star-Times has reported. Click here for more.

Kiwi broadband performance improved in 2008: report: Industry investment drove continuous improvement in New Zealand's national broadband performance during the past six months, a report prepared for the Commerce Commission says. Click here for more.

$100k penalty for Kiwi spammer: One of three New Zealand citizens has admitted his part in an international spamming operation and will pay a penalty of $100,000 plus costs of $7,666. Click here for more.

Driver: I was misled on toll website safety: One of 980 motorists who sent banking details across an insecure link to a toll road website says he was misled into believing it was secure. Click here for more.

Concern over new downloading laws: Opponents of an illegal-downloading law that comes into force next month fear it could see people disconnected from the internet without proof they are breaking copyright rules. Click here for more.

'Virulent' virus takes down Health Ministry email system: A mutating virus has caused the Ministry of Health to shut down its email system while it labours to find an answer to the near week-long infection that is affecting internal PCs and which "may affect some external services". Click here for more.

Cyber bullying provokes street attack: Frustrated victims of cyber bullying are lashing out at their online provokers on the streets of Nelson, while police are urging them to seek help before taking internet feuds into their own hands. Click here for more.

Learn to be happy online: Auckland university students are going to be taught how to be happy through a new website. The CALM (Computer Assisted Learning for the Mind) website focuses on positive psychology, the science of looking at what makes people truly happy. Click here for more.

Selling online still good business, says Buy NZ Made: The demise of Ferrit may have seemed ominous for the Kiwi online sales experience, but operators of a Buy NZ Made website, say there's still money to be made selling online. Click here for more.

New Zealand's YouTube stars: With 15 hours of content uploaded every minute, getting noticed on YouTube is a hard ask. Here are some Kiwis that managed it. Click here for more.


Google snaps secret Porsches: Google's all-seeing roaming cameras have captured images of a clandestine high-altitude road test featuring a fleet of new Porsches. Click here for more.

Fatal flaws in Aussie web censor plans: Trials of mandatory internet censorship in Australia will begin within days despite a secret high-level report to the country's Government that found the technology simply does not work, will significantly slow internet speeds and will block access to legitimate websites. Click here for more.

UK housewives rule in online time: A survey of more than 27,000 web users in 16 countries has shown that the Chinese spend the largest fraction of their leisure time online. However, UK housewives spend even more than China's average – 47%. Click here for more.

Website age ratings 'an option': Film-style age ratings could be applied to websites to protect children from harmful and offensive material, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said. Click here for more.

Five online dating types to avoid: Your passive-aggressive aunt bought you a Match.com subscription for Christmas. While your first impulse was to hit her with a brick, you've always been curious about online dating. "What the heck?" you figure. "I'll write an ad and take a look around." Click here for more.

Aussies charged in Nigerian web scam: Two Queenslanders have been charged over recruiting people to a Nigerian scam which netted the fraudsters more than A$4.3 million (NZ$5.2 million). Click here for more.

Teens flaunt sex, drugs on MySpace: Many young people who use social networking sites such as News Corp's MySpace do not realise how public they are and may be opening themselves to risks, but the sites may also offer a new way to identify and help troubled teens. Click here for more.

Teens hide sex, boozing after busybody's MySpace visit: Many teenagers cleaned up their MySpace profiles, deleting mentions of sex and booze and boosting privacy settings, if they got a single cautionary email from a person named "Dr. Meg." Click here for more.

China to 'clean up' the internet: The Chinese authorities have launched a fresh campaign to get rid of unhealthy, vulgar and pornographic content on the internet. Click here for more.

Google search finds missing child: A nine-year-old girl, allegedly kidnapped by her grandmother, has been found using a mobile phone signal and Google Street View. Click here for more.

The Internet comes to your car's dashboard: Cell phones and TVs converging with the Internet? That's so 2008. The next big tech trend may be the marriage of computer technology to your car or truck. Click here for more.

Web 2.0 is so over. Welcome to Web 3.0: Social-networking companies such as MySpace and Facebook have loyal fan bases, but they're not exactly minting money. Click here for more.

Are you an internet addict?: If you suffer withdrawal symptoms when away from your email or find yourself surfing the net late into the night – every night – help is at hand. Internet addiction is now considered a clinical disorder in some parts of the world. Click here for more.

Watch out Wikipedia, here comes Britannica 2.0: In a move to take on Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica is inviting the hoi polloi to edit, enhance and contribute to its online version. Click here for more.

Internet buckles under online Obamamania: US President Barack Obama's inauguration was billed as the biggest new media event in history and the millions of netizens around the world did not disappoint, with internet and mobile networks brought to their knees by people accessing and uploading videos, photos, tweets and text. Click here for more.

White House website gets instant change: At precisely 12:01 p.m. EST, the White House website, the online bastion of the Bush administration for the past eight years, was updated to reflect President Barack Obama's assumption of office. Click here for more.

Wife murdered for Facebook status: A man murdered his estranged wife after becoming "enraged" when she changed her marital status on Facebook to "single". Click here for more.

Security and Safety

The Dangers of Web Access: As companies rely more heavily on the Web in their move toward Enterprise 2.0, they face an increasing number of security and network problems. Click here for more.

Careful what you search for: Internet search engines know a lot about their users – maybe too much. Do we really care? Click here for more.

Warning over kids' holiday photos on internet: Experts are warning parents not to put holiday snaps of their children online because they could end up in a child porn collection. Click here for more.

Fake Celeb Profiles in Spam Attacks: Just one day after hackers broke into the accounts of 33 Twitter users, including President-elect Barack Obama, spammers have launched attacks using fake profiles of celebrities. Click here for more.

Technology alone can't keep kids safe online, says report: A task force charged with assessing technologies for protecting children from unwanted contact online has concluded that no single approach is foolproof and that parental oversight is vital. Click here for more.

Downadup virus exposes millions of PCs to hijack: A new sleeper virus that could allow hackers to steal financial and personal information has now spread to more than eight million computers in what industry analysts say is one of the most serious infections they have ever seen. Click here for more.

The Web's Latest Threat: Smarter 'Zombies': As if zombie PCs – computers taken over by hackers and used to distribute spam and malware – weren't already bad enough, they are now harder to prevent than ever before. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Beware Microsoft Update E-mail: In the wake of two well publicized zero-day exploits (define) of Microsoft software, spammers have revived an old attack - sending out a fake e-mail from Microsoft urging recipients to click on the links to patch their systems. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Pita bread Jesus for sale on TradeMe: A Hamiltonian is selling a piece of pita bread that they say looks like Jesus Christ. Click here for more.

What's that smell? Website spots odours: A Japanese website can help you find out just what that intriguing scent is. The smells on the site include "steam coming out of a rice cooker", "used socks in summer", "cats with halitosis" and "a toasty odour of cow dung". Click here for more.

US man arrested over hooker-review website : Columbus police have arrested a man they say was responsible for a website where customers could post reviews of prostitutes. 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.

What the net did next: It's 2004 and the internet is set to become the basis for just about every form of communication, according to net pioneer Vint Cerf, and he should know what he is talking about. Click here for more.

Nigerian 419ers run dry: There are clear signs that easy life has turned tough on Nigeria's con men and that 419 scammers – after the Nigerian Penal code fraud section – are struggling to make money. Some reports out of Africa seem to confirm that the bogus appeals are falling on stony ground. Click here for more.

Sp@m: the myst.eries xp1ained!!!: Verity Stob has travelled deep into Essex to meet Sam ĎThe Spamí Osborne, Englandís first spamillionaire.) Inside the house, I expected a typical wealthy Essex businessmanís abode... Click here for more.

Bringing it all back home

Thanks again for reading the Actrix Online Informer. Feedback can be sent to me via the e-mail address listed below. Please limit this to comments/suggestions regarding the newsletter. Non-forum requests for support should go to the Actrix Help Desk (support@actrix.co.nz) or to the Accounts Department (accounts@actrix.co.nz).

Take care through February and see you next month!

Rob Zorn


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