April 2009 Topics  









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    April 2009 Topics  









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    April 2009 Topics  
















    Quote of the month  

"I have it on good authority... if you type Google into Google... you can break the internet.

– from the very wonderful IT Crowd











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 April 2009 Actrix Online Informer!

Welcome to the April Actrix Online Informer. This issue we were going to provide an article updating what had happened with the contentious Section 92A of the Copyright Act due to come into force on 27 March. However, there was so much contention about this piece of legislation that the Government has announced it will scrap Section 92A and rewrite it from scratch.

While ISPs certainly don't endorse the breaking of copyright or theft of intellectual property, the general feeling was that this legislation was not going to achieve its goals, and that ISPs would find themselves in a very difficult situation enforcing an unpopular law within parameters that were not clear. Ultimately consumers would be the biggest losers as costs of implementing such a policy, especially in difficult times, would probably have found their way back to customers.

Occasional Dominion Post columnist, Pat Pilcher, has written a short opinion piece that covers the issues reasonably well and in layman's terms. Check it out if you'd like to know more.

Sanity prevails – RIP Section 92A

Don't forget to have a good look through Cyberspace news snippets. There are often some really helpful stories there. This week for instance there's one on some good websites to help with your budgeting and one on how to tell whether your computer is infected with a virus.

Rob Zorn

Fun and more with YouTube

Most of us have heard of YouTube, a video sharing website where internet punters can upload video clips that anyone else can watch. This month we'll have a quick look at the history of YouTube and then at some of its uses.

YouTube was started by three employees of Internet payment company, PayPal, back in February 2005. In yet another unbelievable dotcom fairy story, YouTube was bought by Google in 2006 for US$1.65 billion.

All sorts of content is available on YouTube, including movie and television clips and music videos, as well as amateur stuff like blogs and short original videos. It's mostly uploaded by individuals, although corporations sometimes also offer their material via the site.

Anybody at all can watch the videos at YouTube and its free, but you have to become a registered user before you can upload videos of your own.

Videos containing potentially offensive content are available only to registered users over the age of 18 and videos containing defamation, pornography, copyright violations, and material encouraging criminal conduct are prohibited. It is extremely popular, with six billion YouTube videos having been viewed in January 2009 alone.

Copyrighted material is not supposed to be uploaded to YouTube, and uploaders are shown a copyright warning before they add a video. Nevertheless a fair bit of protected material does get added. The site has a system called Video ID, which checks uploaded videos against a database of copyrighted content with the aim of reducing violations, but at the end of the day, it is up to the offended company to issue a take down notice if anything they own is found on YouTube unapproved. Videos are also restricted to 10 minutes in length.

YouTube has a number of uses. Obviously, the first one – and this is something pertaining to most aspects of the Internet – is simply for you to indulge your interests. No matter what you're interested in, chances are somebody will have uploaded a video about it. To test this I entered "How to grow mushrooms" into the search bar, and was overwhelmed with results. It's also a great way to catch up on live performances and rarities by your favourite music performers. Seven out of the top ten video downloads of all time are of music.

If you have time on your hands on a rainy Sunday afternoon, head over to YouTube (www.youtube.com), think of something that interests you, and go nuts. You can use it with dialup but it will work a whole lot better with broadband. If you do have dialup and the videos don't download quickly enough for you to play them, pause them for a while until the download bar has moved all the way to the right, then hit play again.

Each time you request a video, YouTube will also provide you with links to similar ones or to videos uploaded by the same person, so one thing can lead to another and that rainy Sunday afternoon will be eaten up in no time! You can't save videos you play on YouTube, unfortunately, so if you really like something, you have to go back and watch it again.

One of the great things about YouTube videos is that they can easily be added to your own website, and this is the second important use I would like to point out. It's called embedding and anyone is allowed to do this.

Each YouTube video is accompanied by a piece of HTML (the simple programming language web pages are made out of), which can be used to embed it anywhere else, just as I've done with the one accompanying this article – though Pachelbel will probably be turning in his grave. This can be done with a few mouse-clicks into your website code and you can do it with existing videos or videos you upload especially for this purpose. It's a great way of sharing information about your website's topic, or videos with family members who are overseas – and you can avoid all the hassle of having to have streaming software and videos hosted at your own website.

If you don't want to have the video played form your website you can simply link to it with a normal hypertext link that will take a browser to the video at the YouTube site. Each video also comes with a direct link (URL) in a box to the right of the video. This is different from the embedding code. You can also link to a specific point in a YouTube video if it's long and you just want to share part of it by adding something like #t=1m08s to the end of the URL in your code. This would take you directly to a point 1 minute and 8 seconds into the video. Note that this doesn't work for embedding.

Okay, let's stop all the technical stuff and have a look at some videos.

Some great YouTube videos

Here are some YouTube videos you might want to check out to get started.

If you'd like to open an account and do more with YouTube, the site features a fairly substantial help centre with lots of instructions and tutorials, many with videos of their own to show you how to get things done.

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Unsubscribing multiple email addresses

The Actrix Online Informer is sent to each main email address and mailbox email address in our customer database, unless that address has been unsubscribed. If you'd like to unsubscribe entirely from the Actrix Online Informer, you can do that at our Unsubscribe tool. Have your username and password ready and click https://my.actrix.co.nz/myservices/misc/newsletter.php.

However, there are a number of customers who check other mailboxes (email addresses) as well as their main one. These people will be getting more than one copy of the Actrix Online Informer announcement each month, which is probably not necessary.

There is a setting people with multiple Actrix email addresses can change so that just one address receives the Actrix Online Informer announcement. After you've decided which address should keep receiving it, you can unsubscribe your other email addresses by following these steps:

  • Open your web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc) and go to http://www.actrix.co.nz/.
  • Log in to MyActrix with the username and password of the email address or mailbox you would like to unsubscribe.
  • Go to MyServices at the top of the window, and then navigate down to Misc Options, and then left click Newsletter Settings.
  • Uncheck the box that says "I wish to receive the Online Informer" and click on Change.
  • Left click Logout on the left hand side.

Repeat this process for any other email addresses you would like to unsubscribe, and next time the Informer announcement is sent out you should only receive one copy.

If you would prefer to speak to someone over the phone about this, give us a call on 0800 228 749 any time between 8:00am and 11:00pm.

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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).


Dave writes: Hi Rob, I have recently upgraded my computer and now I don’t have any Internet or email anti virus program. In the past I have had expensive commercial ones but over the last three years have tried free downloads e.g. AVG and Nod 32. Both I found to be successful.

As I am a Senior citizen I ask my younger friends and workmates for advice. Their consensus of opinion is that these days, Servers have very good filters in place to stop spam and viruses etc. and my friends don't use anti virus programs. I have always been with Actrix and found you guys very helpful. Please advise me of your antispyware and the protection Actrix as our Server gives me against viruses and spam etc. Kind regards, Dave.

Hi Dave, Thanks for your kind words. Actrix has very good virus scanners on its mail servers and these are kept up-to-date fastidiously. However, new viruses can emerge at any time, so there’s no way any ISP can guarantee something won’t get through. The important thing to remember is that viruses and spyware installers don’t come to your computer just by email. They can also connect to you straight across the Internet, be lurking at websites, or infect you from a CD/DVD or memory stick you put in one of your disk or USB drives.

If you've upgraded your computer, your version of Windows probably now has an automatic firewall installed. You should check this is turned on in your control panel at the very least. We also recommend that you use your own anti-virus program. AVG and Nod 32 (and quite a few others that are free) work very well, don’t cost anything and usually install and run without problems.


Howard writes: Hi Rob, I have an occasional problem that you may be able to assist with. When I am away from home I access emails through Actrix WebMail. However if my family is still at home and they check our email, anything new is inaccessible to WebMail. So in order to see the emails before they check I have to get in first. If I miss out and an important email is downloaded at home there doesn't appear to be a way of me accessing it, which sometimes is a problem for my business. Can you assist with this?

Hi Howard, What you describe happens because, by default, your email program is set to delete an email off our server once it has been downloaded, so it's no longer there when you log into WebMail. There is no way of accessing it remotely because it now only lives on the computer it was downloaded to – i.e. your home machine.

There is one thing you could do. You can change the setting in your email program at home so that it leaves copies of emails on the server. This would make them still available when you log in remotely, even if they have been downloaded at home. This change won't be noticed at home, because your email program will only download new emails. It will completely ignore anything it has already downloaded.

Exactly where these settings are can vary slightly according to which version of Outlook or Outlook Express you have, but you should be able to work out how to get to them. Try Tools/Accounts/. Then double-click your email address or account in the box to open the Account Settings dialogue box. Go to the Advanced Tab and tick the box "Leave a copy of messages on the server". If you’re using Outlook you may have to click the “More Settings” button before you can get to the Advanced tab.

The problem this might cause is that unless you’re logging in remotely and deleting stuff that’s no longer needed, your email inbox on our server will start to get pretty full. Eventually, you’ll go over quota and email to you will bounce. So it would be up to you to be vigilant.

You'll notice below the 'Leave messages' tickbox there's an option to keep a copy of all messages on the server but delete them after so many days. You could set this to delete messages older than however many days you're going to be away, and that way you can access your mail while you're gone but you shouldn't have to worry about manually deleting everything later. If you get lots of large messages in a short period of time it is still possible to exceed your quota but it's much less likely.

Exactly where these settings are can vary slightly according to which version of Outlook or Outlook Express you have, but you should be able to work out how to get to them. Try Tools/Accounts/. Then double-click your email address or account in the box to open the Account Settings dialogue box. Go to the Advanced Tab and tick the box "Leave a copy of messages on the server". If you’re using Outlook you may have to click the “More Settings” button before you can get to the Advanced tab.

I hope that helps you sort things.


Noeline writes: Sorry to be a pain but the copyright thing confuses me a little... If it's not changed as you hope it to be, does that mean if my son copies and pastes stuff from the Internet for his homework for example to use later etc etc is that what you mean by copyright? Can you just clarify or give me some examples that we wouldn't be allowed to do? thanks, Noeline.

Hi Noeline, No pain at all. While there are issues with copying and pasting information and pictures off the Internet, kids doing their homework is not really what the new copyright clause is concerned about. Nobody would be keen to cut your connection off because, as long as it is just about homework, then no one is being commercially disadvantaged.

What the copyright clause is concerned about is people downloading material that they would normally have to pay for so someone is missing out on the profit they are entitled to. The most obvious cases of this would be downloading movies and songs instead of going out and renting DVDs or purchasing music CDs.

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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 worst things in nature
http://listverse.com/nature/top-10-worst-things-in-nature/ – "Nature provides for almost all of our needs and it is as diverse as the stars in the sky. But there is a dark side too. Nature also contains some of the most awful things you can imagine - worse than anything conjured up by Stephen King! This list looks at ten of those things."
A random number
www.arandomnumber.com/ – This chap is conducting an experiment to see what numbers he will get if a bunch of people pick a random number between 1 and 100. He guesses there will be preference towards certain numbers over others. He decided to also add some extra questions to see if different patterns arise in, for example, males and females. Once he has a good number of submissions he will publish them on this page.
An interactive map of Springfield
http://adn.blam.be/springfield/ – If you're a Simpsons fan, and deep down most of us probably are, you might enjoy this interactive map of their hometown. Explore the various sites from the cartoon and how they all relate to each other. When you're bored with that, click on the links to some articles like "Where is The Simpsons' Springfield?" or "Everything about the Simpsons Movie".

www.clerkdogs.com/ – "At Clerkdogs, we believe that humans give the best movie recommendations. That’s why we’ve invented an entirely new engine powered by humans, not algorithms. Our unique database is so intuitive and conversational; it's a lot like interacting with a great clerk in a top quality-video store." Type in a movie title and get recommendations about similar ones. It works pretty well.
What does one TRILLION dollars look like?
www.pagetutor.com/trillion/index.html – "All this talk about 'stimulus packages' and 'bailouts'... A billion dollars... A hundred billion dollars... Eight hundred billion dollars... One TRILLION dollars... What does that look like? I mean, these various numbers are tossed around like so many doggie treats, so I thought I'd take Google Sketchup out for a test drive and try to get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like."
Regifting Robin
www.regiftable.com/regiftingrobinpopup.html – First, pick any two digit number, then subtract both the first and second digits from that number. Click Next, pick a gift and click Next again. The site guesses which gift you picked perfectly each time. It had me stumped for a while. There's no interaction with the site except for clicking the Next button, so it really does seem to read your mind. When you figure out how it's done, you'll probably thank your maths teacher nine times.
Crazy fads
www.crazyfads.com/ – This site lists all the most popular fads from the past (and present) arranged by decade. "Find out what was popular when your parents were kids, or take a nostalgic trip down memory lane from your own childhood." Hula Hoops, streaking, goldfish-eating, piercings, The Macarena, low-rise jeans – they're all there. See if you think there are any they've missed.
Bible contradictions
www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/inconsistencies.html – The Infidels website lists a large number of instances in which the Bible appears to contradict itself. But are 143 of them dealt with by this website?
20 ridiculous complaints made by holidaymakers
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/picturegalleries/5005019/The Telegraph newspaper presents 20 of the most ridiculous complaints made by holidaymakers to their travel agent, taken from research by Thomas Cook and ABTA. The beach was too sandy?
Reincarnation station
www.reincarnationstation.com/ – So, when you come back in the next life what will you be? This site asks you a series of questions to determine how naughty or nice you are and then predicts what life form you will take when you are reincarnated. Handy to know!


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

NZ plugged into secret internet: A leaked American study into military actions in Afghanistan reveals New Zealand is quietly plugged into the world's most secret internet allowing access to the Pentagon's battle plans at strategic and tactical level. Click here for more.

More Kiwis being stung by scams: Kiwis are swindled out of an average $2500 a year after falling for elaborate frauds and efficient scams, the Consumer Affairs Ministry says. Click here for more.

Net pals to meet after 10 years: A young Christchurch man will fly to the United States to meet his former fiancee for the first time after an internet relationship spanning nearly a decade. Click here for more.

Chance of copyright solution 'fluffed': Judith Tizard, architect of section 92a of the Copyright Act, says the National Government has fluffed an opportunity to craft a Kiwi solution to the problem of music and movie piracy by telling internet service providers (ISPs) that the controversial clause may be rewritten. Click here for more.

NZ ranks 16th in telco survey: New Zealand ranks among the top 20 in the world in a survey of phone, computer and internet technology developments. Click here for more.

NZ court papers can be served via Facebook, judge rules: A High Court judge today approved the serving of court papers via Facebook, the popular social network website, in what is thought to be a New Zealand first. Click here for more.

Govt bid to simplify online auction rules: Work has started on updating consumer law to provide more protection for sales made on internet auction sites. Click here for more.

InternetNZ board resigns en masse: Less than nine months after it was appointed, the executive board of InternetNZ has resigned en masse, vacating its positions on March 31. Click here for more.


Google letting cash 'pile up': Google plans to let its cash "pile up" as it weathers the economic recession, Chief Executive Eric Schmidt has said. Click here for more.

Al Gore says domain .eco logical: The former US vice president, Al Gore, is backing the creation of a new green .eco domain name. Dot Eco applied to create the domain which would then be used to host sites supporting environmental causes. Click here for more.

Wikipedia vandals: The things they say about MPs and the battle to stop them. Click here for more.

Firefox went ton up in bugs in 2008: Firefox had more vulnerabilities than Internet Explorer last year, but zero-day threats to the Mozilla browser were fixed more quickly than those affecting IE. Click here for more.

Cybersquatting cases hit record in 2008: Scarlett Johansson and the Blackberry were two of the many famous people, companies, and gadgets to stop others from profiting from their well-known names online. Click here for more.

Internet scammer gets 19 years: A Nigerian undergraduate has been sentenced to 19 years in prison for obtaining US$47,000 (NZ$91,000) from an Australian woman by convincing her over the internet that he was 57-years-old, white, and madly in love with her. Click here for more.

Budget planning online: These days it's important to be financially savvy, so here are some websites to keep your wallet full of money. Click here for more.

Hi, it's me. I'm dead: When Jerald Spangenberg collapsed and died in the middle of a quest in an online game, his daughter embarked on a quest of her own: to let her father's gaming friends know that he hadn't just decided to desert them. Click here for more.

Social networks 'are new e-mail': Status updates on sites such as Facebook, Yammer, Twitter and Friendfeed are a new form of communication, the South by SouthWest Festival has heard. Click here for more.

Stephen Fry: The internet and Me: Stephen Fry – wit, writer, raconteur, actor and quiz show host – is also a self-confessed dweeb and meistergeek. As he confesses, "If I added up all the hours I've sat watching a progress bar fill up, I could live another life." Click here for more.

Movie site hopes to stream its 1 million titles: IMDb founder Col Needham said the massively popular movie database has set as its major goal for the future to add one-button streaming for all of the 1.3 million titles it indexes. Click here for more.

Report Says Spam Arms Race Escalating: The bad guys are recovering from the loss of McColo and learning how to prevent being taken down so easily again. Click here for more.

Gmail Users Get an 'Undo Send' Option: Whoops. Didn't mean to send that e-mail? Google has rolled out another feature designed, evidently, to help protect users from themselves: An "Undo Send" option for its Gmail service. Click here for more.

Google forced into u-turn over street view images in UK: Internet giant Google has been forced to remove dozens of images from Street View, its controversial mapping service, after complaints from users who felt it breached their privacy. Click here for more.

Children work round web controls: British parents grossly underestimate how much time their children spend on the net, suggests a report. Click here for more.

Australia's web blacklist leaked: The secretive internet filter blacklist held by the communications watchdog ACMA has been leaked, revealing the government has understated the amount of banned web pages by more than 1000. Multiple legitimate businesses and websites have also been banned including two bus companies, online poker sites, multiple Wikipedia entries, Google and Yahoo group pages, a dental surgery and a tour operator. Click here for more.

Test for online IQ testers: Taking online IQ tests can be a dumb move, the Commerce Commission says. The watchdog investigated 20 complaints from people who had unwittingly signed up for text subscription services when taking online IQ and love compatibility tests. Click here for more.

Major cyber spy network uncovered: An electronic spy network, based mainly in China, has infiltrated computers from government offices around the world, Canadian researchers say. Click here for more.

'Cybercrime exceeds drug trade' myth exploded: A leading security researcher has unpicked the origins of the myth that revenues from cybercrime exceeds those from the global drug trade, regurgitated by a senior security officer at AT&T before Congress last week. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

ID Theft Threat Grows With 1M Already Hit in '09: A new report shows identify theft is off to a rapid start this year -- and the figures could be even worse than expected. Click here for more.

Lawmaker Targets Internet Companies on Privacy: A top lawmaker in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday said he is working to develop a bill to impose mandatory guidelines on Internet companies to protect user privacy, because the current voluntary approach is falling short. Click here for more.

Warning from web founder: Governments and corporations are tracking the sites you visit, and the founder of the World Wide Web says you should be worried. Click here for more.

How to tell if your PC is infected: Computer-virus infections don't cause your machine to crash anymore. Nowadays, the criminals behind the infections usually want your computer operating in top form so you don't know something's wrong. Click here for more.

Botnet back-up gives glimpse into hackers' world: Getting hacked is like having your computer turn traitor on you, spying on everything you do and shipping your secrets to identity thieves. Click here for more.

Teens get online sexual approaches: About 25 percent of secondary school students say they have been aggressively sexually solicited online, according to a survey by the internet safety organisation Netsafe. Click here for more.

Holes in the machine: Conficker.C, also known as Downup, Downadup and Kido, spreads among computers running most variants of the Windows operating system and turns them into nodes on a multi-million member "botnet" of zombie computers that can be controlled remotely by the worm's as yet unidentified authors. Click here for more.

Cybercops: Keeping ahead of online crims: In an anonymous-looking business park just outside Reading town centre in the UK is a room where row upon row of specially trained computer analysts sit staring at a bank of screens. Click here for more.

Computer mega-worm could be nastiest ever cybercrime tool: The fast-moving Conficker computer worm, a scourge of the internet that has infected at least 3 million PCs, is set to spring to life in a new way on Wednesday - April Fools' Day. That's when many of the poisoned machines will get more aggressive about "phoning home" to the worm's creators over the internet. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Microsoft confirms IE8 kill switch in Windows 7: Microsoft on Friday confirmed that users will be able to remove Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), as well as several other integrated applications, from Windows 7. Click here for more.

Web browsers battle at festival: Microsoft is ignoring web standards and should use its position to promote competition among browsers, the chief technology officer at Opera has said. Click here for more.

Will the Latest Internet Explorer Regain Share?: Microsoft got IE8 out on time, but if it wants to recover any of its lost market share, the next version after that will have to be a whole lot better. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Web preferred over partner: German twenty-somethings would ditch their spouses and do without a car in a heartbeat if they had to choose between having them or Internet access or a mobile phone, according to an industry study. Click here for more.

Costly error sees school trailer sold for $1 on eBay: Education officials in Pennsylvania are red-faced after making a costly mistake on eBay. Click here for more.

Metallica's Lars Ulrich illegally downloads own album: Metallica drummer and notorious Napster naysayer Lars Ulrich has admitted he illegally downloaded his band’s latest album from a file-sharing website. Click here for more.

Home invader caught with pants down: When a stranger broke into Silicon Valley executive David Prager's house, he did not call police or reach for a gun - he logged on to Twitter and set up a live video stream. Click here for more.

Fat, ugly, but plenty of dates: Peter Oakes was only joking when he advertised for a "goddess with boat" but he has three of them lined up for a date this week. 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.

'War of the worms' has erupted: A "war" between authors of different computer worms has erupted in cyberspace, opening up the potential for a growing wave of e-mails clogging computer networks, IT professionals said yesterday. Analysts said one reason for the proliferation of computer worms and viruses over the past week was a spat between the authors of at least two of these bugs. Click here for more.

Federal e-mail cyber-alert system unveiled: WASHINGTON - Homeland Security officials unveiled on Wednesday a new cyber-alert system to help protect the nation from attacks on computer-based networks and to prevent any attacks elsewhere from affecting cyberspace. Click here for more.

Spam rage drives some e-mailers to extremes: Charles Booher was so mad, he did what others have longed to do: He told a spammer to stop - or else. But the Silicon Valley tech worker went too far, prosecutors say. Last year, he allegedly threatened to shoot and torture an employee of a Canadian company that spammed him... 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 April!

Rob Zorn


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