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.
Welcome to the January Actrix Online Informer
Welcome to the first Actrix Online Informer for 2010.
We're absolutely chuffed with the story that ran on TVNZ's 6pm ONE News programme on 23 December. It said Actrix was not only New Zealand's first internet provider; it's now also the best, according to Consumer NZ!
"Their customer service, their speed, the connections. You know, they're [customers] are very pleased with all of that," she said.
It's great to have the hard work we put into reliability, value for money and good customer acknowledged, and we're grateful to all those who made their thoughts known to Consumer NZ.
Lots of things are going on with Facebook and privacy issues at the moment, and the changes Facebook has made are significant. If you're a user, make sure you get your head around them so you keep a handle on your privacy. There are a number of stories in this month's Cyberspace news snippets section that will help.
I hope this year's a good one for you.
What else was best in 2009?
One thing I particularly enjoy about this time of the year is that the internet becomes littered with lists of 'best ofs' or 'top tens' for the year just past. Such lists are often amusing, often informative and completely and utterly usually just someone's opinion. It can be just as much fun to disagree with them as it is to agree, but what I like most is that there will always be at least one or two things on a list that I haven't heard of. This becomes a great way to discover something new, watch a film I hadn't heard of or listen to music by an artist I didn't know was there (or still there).
So here are a few end of year 'best of' lists. Because this is also the end of a decade (being the tenth year of the noughties) there are a few 'best of the decade' lists included as well.
NZ's top YouTube videos for 2009
The things that Kiwis looked at most on YouTube during 2009 included TV stars Bill and Ben riding a goat, the Air New Zealand cabin crew in body paint and dear old Susan Boyle.
Quirky clips we liked included roller babies and a funky wedding entrance dance, but over all we tended to search for tunes. Our top five viewed videos were all music clips.
The Smashproof hit single Brother was the most viewed Kiwi-made video and second overall behind Susan Boyle, followed by J Williams' Ghetto Flower clip. Pulp Sport's Bill and Ben's I'm on a Goat parody was the third most-watched in the Kiwi-made video section.
YouTube also examined billions of queries people typed into the search field and identified the fastest-rising searches each month. In April it was Susan Boyle, in June and July it was Michael Jackson and this month so far Tiger Woods takes the title.
The top five international and top five local YouTube clips can be viewed at the link provided above.
At each year's end Google takes a look back at the happenings of that year, the people, events and memories that made the year unique. It examines the billions of queries people around the world have typed into Google search to discover the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times.
To compile the 2009 Year-End Zeitgeist Google used data from multiple sources, including search terms, Google Trends and internal data tools. All of the search queries used are anonymous and no personal information is included.
Except where noted, all of the search terms are the most popular for 2009, ranked in order of the queries with the largest volume of searches this year. In some cases, the "fastest rising" queries or the most popular searches conducted in 2009 are ranked and their popularity increases are compared to 2008.
Use the links on the left side of the page to discover more and more about what Google Zeitgeist tells us about ourselves.
And while we're talking about Google... most are already probably aware of this, but if you click "I'm feeling lucky" with an empty search box, Google presents you with a timer counting down by the second to 2010 I wonder what will happen when it hits 0 seconds.
The top 10 tech trends of 2009
According to this CNN story there weren't many huge improvements to technology in 2009. The year's big tech names – Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon – all existed before January. Instead, they say, 2009 was the year technology changed us.
"At year's end, we're connected to each other and to the Internet like never before. In 2009, we carried tiny computers in our pockets, through which we fed the Internet constant real-time info about where we were and what we were doing.
"Our app-laden phones helped us manage our on-the-go lifestyles; our books fell off the shelves and into e-readers; our televisions and video games unchained themselves from home entertainment centres; and our mobile updates helped organize protests and even threaten governments.
"We could have done any of these things in 2008. But we embraced in unprecedented numbers a digital-centred life in 2009."
Facebook memology: top status trends of 2009
Facebook has come out with its own list of popular terms, based on data from the millions of daily status updates of its users. Dubbed Facebook Memology, the company analysed one- to four-word phrases within the status updates of 2009. They went even further, though, taking "bursts of activity" and other factors into account.
Facebook provides a very detailed analysis of its top 15 status trends, but most are self-explanatory. The number one trend was Facebook apps, specifically the discussion of FarmVille in status updates. It seems that particular game has taken Facebook by storm. I don't play it but I'm always getting requests from friends to help them with a pig or cow or lemon tree or something.
Even though Internet users don't use Facebook as much as they use Google, lists like these are quite revealing about what we're thinking about. This list of 15 is really quite interesting.
Epic Facebook failures that ruined lives
I really wanted to include Fail Blog's top ten fails of 2009, but couldn't as this is a family newsletter. However, this other list of terrible mistakes people have made by putting too much information on Facebook appeals nearly as much to ones sense of Schadenfreude.
Note to selves: If you've just told your boss you're sick or too depressed to work, don't splash pictures of yourself laughing and giggling on the beach on Facebook.
Pictured left is Sir John Sawers, who was due to be appointed chief of MI6, Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, until his wife posted Facebook photos revealing where they lived and who their friends were.
In our Cyberspace news snippets section this month we link to several stories about Facebook privacy settings and issues. One in particular has some good advice about this sort of thing.
Books and films
On this page well-known film critic Roger Ebert lists what he thinks are the ten best mainstream films and the ten best independent films of 2009 and why. There may be one or two here that you might decide to go and see, or rent out on DVD.
This is Publisher's Weekly's list of the top 100 books of 2009, chosen out of 50,000 volumes. There's a top ten overall list, and then the best books in a number of categories including fiction, non-fiction, poetry, mystery, science-fiction, comics etc. A further link is provided to the 100 best children's books.
At the two links above you'll find The Times Online's guides to the top 100 films and top 100 books of the decade.
The most popular repurposing tricks of 2009
I think this page was compiled by MacGyver fans. Repurposing is squeezing extra and usually clever uses out of everyday objects. Here you'll find a look back at some of the most popular repurposing ideas posted to the Lifehacker site during 2009.
I'm not sure whether my favourite is the cat haven made of bookshelves or the outlet hanging charge station made out of a used plastic bottle. The mugger's wallet is also a pretty cool idea. Whatever the case you can vote for your favourite at the site.
If you are a MacGuyver fan, you can also see a list of the top 10 tricks MacGyver would be proud of at the Lifehacker site. Not sure they're all from 2009, but they are pretty nifty.
The brands that experienced the most phishing attacks in 2009
Avira has published a top list of brands that experienced the most phishing attacks in 2009. The top three brands according to their chart are PayPal with 32,205 threats followed by Chase Bank with 25,901 threats and eBay with 18,738 threats. Each threat in this case refers to a unique internet address that was being used to phish data from users. Man, those phishers are busy!
Below the article is a set of links to more stories about phishing, including explanations of what it is and how it works. Or you can check out our Online Informer article on phishing from March 2008.
The biggest controversies of 2009
Here we have the 12 biggest controversies of 2009, a "month-by-month review of the clashes, scandals, debates, and disputes that drove opinion in 2009." They're mostly American moments, but many of them have been of international interest.
"From President Barack Obama's historic inauguration to Tiger Woods' surreal fall from grace, 2009 has proved to be a tumultuous time in American history. As the year comes to a close, The Week takes a look back at the political controversies, celebrity scandals, and public outrages that most defined the last year of this decade."
YouTube videos are provided with of the ten controversial topics, and at the foot of the page are links to a few other lists, though not necessarily from 2009. I'm intrigued by what could be on the Top 10 Sesame Street controversies list.
The top ten everything
Typically, Time magazine has to do everything better than everybody else. Not content to offer its views on the best of this or that for 2009, they list the best of everything! It must have taken them all year just to compile this list.
We get music albums, the best news stories in various categories, awkward moments, break ups, buzz words, fashion faux pas an many many more. Click items in the list to go to stories about them.
The ten most influential internet moments of the decade
And what could be more appropriate than finishing up this article with a list of the most important internet moments of the last ten years? Almost always, says the iWire site presenting this list, the events chosen were enablers of future products, future trends, future means of sharing our lives.
The internet has come a long way since 2000 and its impact on our lives is probably greater than we realise. I look forward to writing this article again in 2019!
Setting up a Vacation MessageIf you're going away these holidays and won't be checking your e-mail for a while you can set-up a vacation message, or auto-reply on your Actrix email address. That way people emailing you will know you won't be getting back to them as quickly as usual. There is no charge for this service.
You can also use Vacation Messaging if you use a special domain name for your email address (e.g. email@example.com) that points to an Actrix email address. To do so enter your firstname.lastname@example.org address into the "From" field.
To get to Vacation Messaging, click Services in the main menu on the Actrix home page, and then Email/Vacation Messaging in the dropdown menu. Click the login to My Actrix link, enter your user name and password, and it's all pretty easy from there.
Don't forget to remove the auto-reply when you get back, though. You can do it using the same process as outlined above. When you log back in, however, there will be a button available allowing you to remove the auto-reply with a single mouse click.
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).
Pat writes: Hi Rob, I received this today, but it looks like just another hoax to me, sent to fill up cyberspace - am I right? Pat
Hi Pat, Yep. Emailed postcards are often masks for nasty viruses, but this particular warning just seems to be made up. By getting you to send it on to your friends, you act like a virtual virus. Thatís the joke. Annoying, but ultimately harmless.
You can check on this sort of thing at www.snopes.com, like the sender of this email lyingly suggests they have, and you'll find that it is indeed a hoax.
Victor writes: Hi, Could you please tell me how to get rid of Personal Security and also how to stop Internet Explorer from crashing?
I did a bit of a search on Personal Security. It appears to be a fake anti-spyware program that installs itself on your computer without your permission. It them automatically attempts to terminate any security programs you have installed that may help to remove it. Once started (and it seeks to install itself in your start up menu) it displays a variety of infections your computer allegedly has, but will state that it will not remove them unless you first purchase the program. These "infections" are either fake warnings or legitimate programs that, if deleted, could cause you other problems. Therefore, you shouldn't act on any of the files it states are infections.
There is a website with instructions about removing Personal Security that says it is designed to help beginning users with these sorts of problems. Bleeping Computer has removal instructions for Personal Security here: www.bleepingcomputer.com/virus-removal/remove-personal-security. If you find these a bit challenging, you may want to find someone more confident to help you.
While Bleeping Computer appears to be a legitimate site, I also have to stress that I have not tried this removal process myself, so you if you follow the instructions, you do so at your own risk. If you're unsure about proceeding, Iíd take your machine in to a computer shop for a good spyware overhaul.
Internet Explorer crashing could be caused by any number of issues. Iíd get the Personal Security one seen to first. You might then find IE works fine.
Frances writes: Hi Rob, Can you please tell me if you consider this is safe to try?
Many thanks, Frances
Hi Frances, According to C-Net, SpeedUpMyPC is spyware free, and its claim to be available through Tucows is legitimate, so it is probably safe to use. However, I was disturbed by the fact that a visit to the link you provide resulted in some pop-up advertising in my browser. Truly legit companies tend to avoid doing that. I also found a page of user reviews which gave it an average of 2 stars out of 5, which isnít a great look. One user warned it installed pop-ups (but he could be mistaken that this software was the source) and other users reported that it worked fine. However, to really use it properly, I think, costs US$29.99, so the more I think about it, the more I think stay away.
See the user reviews at: http://download.cnet.com/SpeedUpMyPC-2009/3000-18487_4-35697.html#rateit.
Please note: Actrix supplies links to these sites for your interest and possible use. We cannot endorse or take any responsibility for their contents.
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Cyberspace news snippets
What's been happening in the online world?
TradeMe pulls cash auction: An Auckland man came up with an unusual way of circumventing parental well-meaning, listing their strings-attached cash gift on auction website TradeMe. Alex Dyer, 25, started the auction for his $10,000 last Friday with a $1 reserve. Click here for more.
Website makes Kiwi rite of passage easier: Learning to drive over the summer holidays has long been a rite of passage for Kiwi teenagers Ė and a nerve-wracking experience for the parents teaching them. Click here for more.
Florist faces landmark cyber-crime court case: The first hint of trouble for florist Natasha Sefton-Zachan was when customers told her Google Maps had her phone number wrong. So the businesswoman from Taradale near Napier went online to find out what was going on. Click here for more.
Online shoppers go back to basics: Trampolines, tents, barbeques, and bikes were among the most searched items on online auction site Trade Me as New Zealanders head into Christmas. Click here for more.
Kiwi spammer fined $260,000: A New Zealander accused of being the mastermind of the world's largest online spam operation, which could send 10 billion emails a day, has been fined A$210,000. Click here for more.
Crowded Reality in web TV show : Reality-TV shows have become all the rage and three Wellington friends have high hopes their website-driven drama will snap up a slice of the action. Click here for more.
Defending the humble email: Even with all the fuss about Twitter and Facebook it's still email that dominates our working days. Here's why it's not so bad after all. Click here for more.
Savvy kids access adult worlds online: Even a minimally savvy youngster can figure out how to access violent or explicitly sexual content in some virtual or internet worlds, the US Federal Trade Commission said. Click here for more.
Hitler's war record put online: A British genealogy website has put Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's World War 1 military service records online, alongside those of more than a million other soldiers who fought for Germany. Click here for more.
Logging off after death: Sunniva Geertinger was devastated when her boyfriend took his life early this year. To make matters worse, his Facebook account proved almost impossible to put to rest, haunting her with new wall-posts from network pals and holiday photos from the past. Click here for more.
Facebook to allow users to hide their indiscretions: The days of fretting over whether your potential new employer might find all those embarrassing pictures of your drunken nights out on Facebook are coming to an end. Click here for more.
Doctors told: Beware Facebook flirts: A British medical organisation that advises doctors on avoiding malpractice cases is warning them not to respond to messages from patients on social networking sites such as Facebook. Click here for more.
Whispering tweet nothings on 100 first dates : Throwing open her love life to the wit of Twitter, Sarah Stokely admits to early nerves. After a slough of failed first dates, she has cast herself as guinea pig in an online experiment: 100 dates during summer, 100 shots at love or loss, and all fired from the reaches of the internet. Click here for more.
9 steps to Facebook privacy: Over the past week, Facebook has been nudging its users - first gently, then firmly - to review and update their privacy settings. You may have procrastinated by hitting "skip for now," but Facebook eventually took away that button and forced you to update your settings before continuing to use the site. After finally accepting Facebook's recommendations or tweaking the privacy settings yourself, though, you might have made more information about you public than what you had intended. Click here for more.
Blogging mum under fire for tweet after son's death: A Florida mother is being criticised by bloggers and Twitter users for posting a tweet less than an hour after her 2-year-old son drowned in a swimming pool at her home. Click here for more.
The yin and yang of cybersecurity: On the Internet, the good guys and the bad guys are inextricably connected. But what happens when one side gets the upper hand? Click here for more.
Social networks and kids: How young is too young?: Status updates, photo tagging and FarmVille aren't just for adults or even teenagers anymore. Researchers say a growing number of children are flouting age requirements on sites such as Facebook and MySpace, or using social-networking sites designed just for them. Click here for more.
Firefox 3.5 edges ahead in browser race: In the unceasing race for market share, Mozilla's Firefox has edged ahead of Microsoft's Internet Explorer, at least according to one statistical snapshot of which browser versions web surfers use. Click here for more.
Security and Safety
Facebook exposes your posts to the world: Facebook users may be in for a rude awakening this week following a revamp of privacy settings that prompts them to post their status updates and personal information directly to the internet for everyone to see. Click here for more.
TradeMe warns of Christmas scams: 'Tis the season to be scammed, with New Zealand's leading online auction site warning people not to trust any requests for instant international cash transactions from online traders. Click here for more.
How fake sites trick search engines: Even search engines can get suckered by internet scams. With a little sleight of hand, con artists can dupe them into giving top billing to fraudulent websites that prey on consumers, making unwitting accomplices of companies such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. Click here for more.
Facebook forms board on online safety: Social networking site Facebook said it has formed an advisory board comprising five Internet safety organisations to consult on issues related to online safety. Click here for more.
Internet safety for children targeted: Lessons in using the internet safely are set to become a compulsory part of the curriculum for primary schoolchildren in England from 2011. Click here for more.
Latest Spam Attack: Phony Swine Flu Warning: Antivirus firm warns of e-mail that solicits registration for a fake "H1NI vaccination profile." Click here for more.
Australia's cyber-predator threat: An online sexual predator who flew to Westeran Australia and was caught climbing into a child's window is one of many disturbing cases recently revealed by Australian police. Click here for more.
The Weird, Wide Web
Muppets take the web with Bohemian Rhapsody: Since debuting last week, the Muppet parody of the classic music video of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody has been viewed more than 8.6 million times on YouTube. Click here for more.
Man Loses Facebook Bet, Friends Shoot Up His Big Screen TV: As the owner of more than 100 inches worth of television, this video makes me cringe. But itís also quickly becoming a hit on YouTube. The backstory is quite simply that a Redskins fan told his Facebook (Facebook) friends that they could shoot his TV if the Saints beat his team last Sunday. Click here for more.
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.
Prime Minister hosts online chat: Helen Clark's typing skills were put to the test last night as she answered questions from New Zealanders in an online chat session marking the fifth anniversary of her Labour-led Government. Click here for more.
Online church pulls in crowds: Cardiff-born Simon Jenkins, who created the Church of Fools with friend Steve Goddard, is amazed at its success. Click here for more.
Microsoft says Firefox not a threat to IE: Just days after the launch of open-source browser Firefox 1.0, Microsoft executives defended Internet Explorer, saying it is no less secure than any other browser and doesn't lack any important features. Click here for more.
5000 Apple religious nuts camp outside London store: MORE THAN 5000 followers of Steve Jobs encircled a sacred site in Regent Street in Londinium over the weekend as a new holy of holies was opened. Click
here for more.
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 (email@example.com) or to the Accounts Department (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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