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 August Actrix Online Informer
Welcome to the August 2010 Actrix Online Informer. I hope there's something of interest for you in this issue.
Is the Internet bad for us? Probably in a number of ways, but there's also no denying its benefits. This month we do a quick round up of the goods and the bads.
This month's featured YouTube video: Damien Walters doing what only Damien Walters can do. Actually, I can do all that stuff too. I just choose not to.
When good net turns bad
by Rob Zorn
Few could argue that the Internet hasn't had an enormously beneficial impact on the way we live and interact with each other. By going online we can can have face-to-face conversations with people on the other side of the world and access a plethora of information from recipe ideas to breaking news stories. We can even catch a replay of the big game we missed because the in-laws came over for dinner.
But as useful and as valuable as the Internet might be, there are some who argue the Internet also has a dark side.
Dr Susan Blackmore, a Psychology Professor at the University of West England, says the Internet is making us dumb and that governments' drive to incorporate the Internet into education just makes children mentally lazy. How? By encouraging them to rely on the single click of a button for information.
While some might argue that Google is one of the most practical and influential tools of our generation, Dr Blackmore and a number of respected intellectuals, including a Nobel Peace Prize winner, say Google is “dumbing down” this generation and the next by preventing them from mentally retaining information. Instead of memorising important information, we are relying on Google and the Internet to remember it all for us.
Others argue that the Internet offers us too much information and overloads us, making it nearly impossible for us to distinguish the useful stuff we read from the worthless. Have you ever tried to leave Wikipedia after reading just a single article? Every page has an overabundance of hyperlinks that whisk you away to other pages, and it’s not long until you’ve forgotten what you came to look up. Personal experience of Wikipedia leaves me with nothing more than a wasted hour and a seemingly infinite amount of open tabs on my Internet explorer. But how much of this information that we read do we actually retain?
Further questions are raised, especially with sources like Wikipedia, about the quality of information found online, and whether we should be retaining the information we read at there all! We have all heard the warning not to believe everything we read on the Internet. Wikipedia, being an open source site which allows anyone’s contribution, has been known to contain less-than-accurate information that could mislead the gullible and the ignorant into believing Elvis is still alive or that David Beckham was a Chinese goalkeeper in the 18th century.
Just as we need to be wary of what we take from the Internet, we need to be careful about what we put on the Internet. Just ask record-breaking Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps who nearly lost millions of dollars in sponsorships after a photo was uploaded of him smoking marijuana.
Then there's John Sawers, who nearly lost his job as head of the British Secret Intelligence Service after his wife posted photos and personal information about them on Facebook.
A quick Google search will give you a whole list of anecdotes about people losing jobs and court cases over information posted on Facebook. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81 percent of divorce cases in the past five years have included evidence from social networking sites. Some cases have even been determined according to evidence pulled from Facebook or Twitter.
And one thing many Facebook users are unaware of is that by uploading a photo to your account, you waive all ownership rights over that photo to Facebook, who are legally allowed to keep it and use it as they see fit. So a word of warning: always read the fine print and get to know privacy settings. You could save yourself some embarrassment.
Another negative implication of social networking, some say, is the effect it can have on our “real” social lives. They say a number of problems can occur when we're communicating using vehicles like Facebook. Comments are more spontaneous and less thoughtful, humour and sarcasm are more likely to be misunderstood, and excessive users run the risk of forgetting social etiquette.
These problems could have an impact on our everyday lives by causing degradation of conversation, misunderstandings, and ruined friendships. Neuroscientist Susan Greenfield goes so far as to argue that social networking websites might even be responsible for "short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity."
However valid these detrimental aspects of the Internet are to our intellectual health and social adequacy, the Internet is not going to change, except to get more "Internetty". As technology develops and new phases and fads come and go, we will continually have people reminding us of the hazards we face every time we Google, wiki, F-Book and tweet. And we'd be silly if didn't at least listen.
But before the baby gets thrown out with the bathwater and someone organises an Internet boycott, consider this: In January 2010, American Dan Woolley was trapped when his hotel collapsed around him during the Haiti earthquakes. Paramedics couldn’t get to him, so he used his iPhone to download a medical application that showed him how to diagnose and treat his injuries. He was rescued 65 hours later and made a full recovery, all thanks to the Internet.
As we mentioned in the June Actrix Online Informer,
due to increasingly sophisticated attempts by Spammers it's now more
important than ever that your Actrix account has a strong password that is
kept secure. We have also updated our minimum requirements for all passwords
created or changed.
In light of this, we'll be adding an 'insecure password' warning to My Actrix that will appear when you log in if your password is deemed too weak. Please go back and have a read if you need more information. The warning message you would see is displayed right, and will be accompanied by the message:
Actrix is implementing a new security policy to enforce stronger, more secure passwords for our users. MyActrix has detected that your current password does not meet our requirements, and may leave you open to having your account compromised. Please click the image or here to visit our password change page, or for more information take a look at this Online Informer.
So if you see this message, don't panic, but if it does pop up for you it's a sign you really do need to change your password. A link will be provided to the Change Password page that provides links to instructions on how to update your settings with a new password.
We're starting off by displaying this warning only to those with really insecure passwords but we'll be tightening the criteria over the next month.
Changing your Actrix Password
You can change your main account password by logging into My Actrix on the Actrix homepage (www.actrix.co.nz). Then click 'My Info' in the menu at the top, and then 'Change Passwords'.
To change the password for a mailbox instead of your main account you will need to log out and then log back in with the username and password of the mailbox you want to change.
You will also need to change the password in the account settings of your email program and in your dialup and/or broadband settings.
We have a number of help pages specifically designed to assist you with this.
If you're having trouble, or can't remember your password, give our help desk a call on 0800 228749.
How to check your CyberJet usage
Depending on the products you use there are ways online to check your CyberJet usage information and statistics. CyberJet Broadband customers automatically have a "CyberJet usage page" they can access through My Actrix.
To check your usage just log in to My Actrix with your username and password then select the CyberJet Usage option from the My Actrix menu on the left (or My Info menu at the top).
This page shows the size of your CyberJet traffic allowance, how much you have currently used, and when your allowance next resets.
It also has graphs showing your average speed over the past 24 hours and seven days, plus a 'Last 30 Days' graph which displays the total traffic (both upload and download) used for each of the past 30 days, along with the total and daily average.
If you find you're regularly going over your allowance and being rate limited or charged for excess usage you might need to think about upgrading. For information on all the current CyberJet plans and traffic allowances available click here. (Don't forget; if you can’t find the plan you want, try the Custom plan tool to mix and match the ideal speed and allowance to suit you.)
If you have any questions or suggestions about this usage page please feel free to get in touch via email@example.com or give us a call on 0800 ACTRIX (228-749).
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, feel free to contribute. Please also note that questions and answers may turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).
Tony writes: Whenever I respond to an email on Microsoft Outlook, that person and their email address gets automatically placed into my 'Contacts' listing without my sanction. How do I stop this from occurring? Keep up the good work with your Monthly Informer Great reading!
Hi Tony, and thanks for your kind words. This one is a common complaint but there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution. By default Outlook is only supposed to do this for emails with digitally encrypted signatures (this is to make it easier for you to send encrypted replies). If it's doing it for every single email, then you may have the “Add Contacts” add-in installed. This is supposed to be an extra feature you have to download and install. However, many users in online forums complain that Outlook automatically adds to their Contacts even though they don’t have the add-in installed. You can check whether you have the Add-in under Tools/Trust Center/ Add ins. And instructions for removing add-ins can be found here.
If you can’t get rid of this behaviour, some people suggest turning off auto-complete. This will stop people’s email addresses automatically appearing when you type into the “To” field. You can do this under Tools/Options. Select the Preferences tab. Click Email options, then click Advanced email options. Untick the box that says “Suggest names while completing…”
Gordon writes: I write a newsletter for a small organisation I belong to and email it to about 20 people using the Bcc field. Occasionally the odd person suggests I haven't sent them a newsletter. I know I have and use, File, Properties, Details, to readily see who I have sent the email to. What I wish to do is print a copy of the 'Details' page showing to whom I have sent an email as proof (and stuff it up their left nostril, politely of course). Is it possible to do this?
Hi Gordon, There doesn’t seem to be any way to print the File/Properties/Details box, and you can’t copy and paste its text either. The only option left you might be to take a screen shot of those properties and send the picture to the person who’s nostril is concerning you. It’s not too difficult to do this using the “print screen” feature on your keyboard. This sends an image of your current screen into your computer’s memory. You can then use the Paint program to trim the image down to just the Properties/Details box.
Easy instructions for doing this can be found here. I hope that helps a bit.
Jack writes: My computer tries to make me compact my messages in Outlook Express daily or occasionally may miss a day. Is there anyway that I can prevent this as it always takes several minutes to complete this compacting. Can you suggest a cure for this problem. Kind regards, Jack
Hi Jack, There’s no way to turn compacting completely off in Outlook Express (OE) and that’s probably a good thing. OE stores email etc in a database and compacting is important for a database to stay healthy and not expand to the point where it becomes corrupt. However, you can change a few settings to make compacting a little less onerous for you.
Click Tools/Options/Maintenance and check the "Compact messages in the background" box. This then allows you to set other options such as amount of wasted space, delete news messages, etc A low setting such as "Compact messages when there is 3% wasted space" should reduce the time compacting takes, but you could experiment with that. You would save even more time by checking "Empty messages from the 'Deleted Items' folder on exit" which prevents deleted items from building up.
Liz writes: In the space of only one day, all three of my social networking sites have asked me for a new login. This has happened before. Do you happen to know if they automatically do this on say a monthly basis for security reasons? It's driving me mad as the message/option comes up 'have you forgotten your password' or some such similar request when I've been the same user and username for years! It's a bit freaky to say the least. Liz
Hi Liz, If it’s happened all on the same day, I would suggest your browser is more likely to be the culprit than the networking sites. In other words, for some reason it has forgotten the user names and passwords you set it to remember. This can happen if you tell your browser to delete private data, or clear it’s cache, if it installs a newer version of itself, or if you haven’t been to the site for a while. However, from my own experience, it sometimes happens for no reason at all that I can determine.
I'm pretty sure there’s no blanket procedure for social networking sites to automatically log you out once per month for security reasons and, of there was, it would be very unlikely for them to do this all on the same day. Hopefully, knowing it is probably your browser, and not the social networking sites doing weird things may make this a little less freaky-sounding.
Karen writes: Should I do anything about this e-mail [National Bank Online Banking Login Security Update] apart from delete it – that is, should I warn anyone? I don’t actually have a National Bank account at all. Apart from that, I noticed that various spelling and punctuation errors. How do these scammers get a .co.nz email account?
Hi Karen, This is your typical phishing scam email sent out by the millions in the hopes of fooling people who may have National bank accounts. These are so common now that you probably don't have to warn anyone about it. Our filters catch most of these but every now and then one slips through. You’re right not to reply and you’re best of just deleting it (and any like it that come through in future.
The spammers don’t actually have an NZ account. They’ve just set their email address settings to make it look like they do. It is very easy to do this sort of thing which means it pays always to be careful. The poor spelling etc is another clue that the email is a scam, but phishing attempts can also appear well written.
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Cyberspace news snippets
What's been happening in the online world?
Monkey business: Forget hanging around and watching climate change. Lee Suckling talks to the team behind an online social network that aims to teach children about a greener, less purchase-driven future. Click here for more.
Judge calls bluff on online gambling site: The poker news websites went wild. "New Zealand Court Backs Poker" proclaimed gamblingonlinemagazine.com. "In a groundbreaking ruling a New Zealand court has delivered a huge blow to opponents of online poker, and poker in general," said pokernewsboy.com. Click here for more.
We're OK, says InternetNZ: The Charities Commission has never raised doubts about continuing InternetNZ’s status “as far as we know”, says chief executive Vikram Kumar. Click here for more.
Police warn women over 'cyber casanova': A man police describe as a cyber-casanova has been wooing New Zealand women into allowing him to use their addresses to receive goods bought with stolen credit cards. Click here for more.
'I'm just dying to download it' : Can taking away someone's Internet access be enough to put their life in danger? One man thinks so. The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill is currently before the commerce select committee. Click here for more.
NZ behind, so we download more: A lack of timely and legal access to movies and music is encouraging New Zealanders to illegally download them, says a New Zealand entrepreneur. Click here for more.
Macrons for domains: Macrons will be available in New Zealand Internet domain names for the first time from Monday, enabling te reo Maori to be correctly used in domain names, in time for Maori Language Week. Click here for more.
Facebook flick hits the screens: David Fincher's The Social Network will be the opening night film at the New York Film Festival. Fincher's eagerly anticipated movie about Facebook and its young co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, will kick off the festival on September 24 at Alice Tully Hall. Click here for more.
Facebook: a divorce lawyer's dream: Forgot to de-friend your wife on Facebook while posting holiday shots of your mistress? Her divorce lawyer will be thrilled. Oversharing on social networks has led to an over-abundance of evidence in divorce cases. Click here for more.
Australia declares Google Wi-Fi snooping illegal: Google broke Australia's privacy law when it collected private information from wireless networks, the country's privacy commissioner says. Click here for more.
Beating email addiction: For many, life now revolves around the inbox. The great irony is that technology was supposed to make work a lot easier and give us more free time. Instead, it's done the reverse. Click here for more.
Gillard to stick with web filter despite disquiet: New Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will push ahead with controversial plans for a mandatory Internet filter despite acknowledging public concerns that it will interfere with ''legitimate use'' in the country. Click here for more.
Nana, get off my Facebook: The risk of receiving a dreaded Facebook friend request from your parents or even grandparents is on the increase, according to a new study. Click here for more.
Wikileaks founder comes out of shadows: He is the scarlet Pimpernel of cyberspace whose website has been responsible for some of the most explosive scoops in recent years. But ever since an American soldier was arrested for allegedly leaking video footage of an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has stayed out of the spotlight. Click here for more.
Wake up, check Facebook – 39% of women users 'addicts': Americans are increasingly obsessed with Facebook and many young women check their page even before using the bathroom in the morning, according to a poll released yesterday. Click here for more.
Social networkers worried about privacy – poll: Half of Americans who have a profile on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace are worried about their privacy, according to a new poll. Click here for more.
UK killer fan page withdrawn: A Facebook fan page that glorified a dead killer has been removed by its creator, after it drew sharp criticism from Britain's prime minister and put the social networking site in an uncomfortable situation Click here for more.
Off the record tweet goes public: A "deeply off the record" tweet from NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell was posted on Twitter today in an embarrassing gaffe in which he appeared to call Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard a "ranga". Click here for more.
Man claims to own 84% of Facebook: Facebook has moved to overturn a New York judge's recent order temporarily blocking any transfer of the company's assets, as the world's No.1 social networking responds to a lawsuit by a New Yorker claiming to own 84 percent of the company. Click here for more.
Online anonymity - a licence to behave badly: Just as the real world has complex rules that define our behaviour towards one another (eg, "Your place in a supermarket queue cannot be maintained with a basket containing a solitary banana") there are rules for online interaction, too. Click here for more.
Skin-whitening Facebook app launched in India: Skincare group Vaseline has introduced a skin-lightening application for Facebook in India, enabling users to make their faces whiter in their profile pictures. Click here for more.
Dating website used fake profiles: The operator of Mt Hawthorn-based dating website Red Hot Pie has been ordered by the Federal Court to disclose to its users that it operated 1371 of its own profiles on the website. Click here for more.
The Queen signs up to Flickr: Queen Elizabeth II is joining other proud parents starting Monday in showing off and sharing her photo albums - and those of the House of Windsor - on the online Flickr photo site. Click here for more.
Websites take on bogus reviewers: Customer review sites are a useful way to find out about products and services, and for the businesses themselves they can be a valuable source of publicity. But a number of spam reviews sweeping the web are damaging local firms who depend on them to help make or break their reputation. Click here for more.
We're running out of Internet addresses: According to statements from prominent Internet thinkers this week, we may run out of Internet protocol -- or IP -- addresses in less than a year. Click here for more.
Twitter and Scientology: Don't use the 'S'-word: When he walked past a Scientology centre on a trip to London last year, a councillor from Cardiff cannot have expected that his reaction would end up fuelling another big hoo-hah over free speech on the Internet. Click here for more.
Tens of thousands of alleged Afghan war documents go online: A whistle-blower website has published what it says are more than 90,000 United States military and diplomatic reports about Afghanistan filed between 2004 and January of this year. Click here for more.
Twitter says growth surging internationally: More people outside of the US have registered for Twitter accounts than people in the US, the company said on Thursday. Click here for more.
Security and Safety
US moves to detect cyber attacks: The US government is launching a programme nicknamed "Perfect Citizen" to detect cyber assaults on private US companies and government agencies running critical infrastructure, the Wall Street Journal said in its online edition. Click here for more.
Identity fraud takes new twists: academic: A leading academic says identity theft is on the increase using a number of new techniques many of us may have never heard of. Click here for more.
Private surfing: The Internet means that what you do in your own home is not as private as you might think. One of the biggest threats faced these days by the casual Internet surfer is loss of privacy. Click here for more.
Australians lose A$1.3bn in online fraud: One in 10 Australian Internet users have lost money to online identify fraud over the past year with losses totalling A$1.3 billion ($1.6 billion), according to the VeriSign Online Fraud Barometer figures released today. Click here for more.
Aussie hacker pleads guilty: An Adelaide man has pleaded guilty to unleashing a global virus to capture the bank details of people worldwide. Click here for more.
Celebrities hit in Hell Pizza hack: A pizza company's customer database has been hacked and the details of several celebrities stolen. Click here for more.
Facebook launches online safety webpage: Facebook has launched a webpage devoted to staying safe on the Internet. The "Safety Page" will highlight news and initiatives focused on ways people can keep data secure at the world's leading online social-networking community. Click here for more.
Virus writers picking up new Microsoft attack: The Windows attack used by a recently discovered worm is being picked up by other virus writers and will soon become much more widespread, according to security vendor Eset. Click here for more.
The Weird, Wide Web
Tea-leaf reader sees a digital future: The invention of the tea bag almost killed the art of tea-leaf reading but the Internet is giving it new life. Click here for more.
Get out your decoder ring, but don't get excited : The Pentagon's new US Cyber Command has embedded a 32-character string of secret code in its logo, causing a stir among bloggers and curious techies. Click here for more.
The cyber Cyrano: The world of Internet dating can be fraught. But, for a fee, a ghost writer will rewrite your online profile with the promise of making you more attractive to others. How does it work? 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.
Kiwi children the world's greatest 'cyber athletes': New Zealand children are among the world's greatest "cyber athletes" and this country is one of a dozen that lead the way in using computers in education. Click here for more.
Biggest 419 bust in history: It is the biggest 419 bust in history, and may result in drastic reductions of scam mails. Click here for more.
Net users change habits to avoid spyware: Nine out of 10 Internet users say they have changed their online habits to avoid spyware and other Internet-based threats, according to a study released this morning. Click here for more.
Russian spammer murdered: Notorious Russian spammer Vardan Kushnir was found bludgeoned to death in his Moscow apartment on Sunday. Click here for more.
eBayer seeks to exorcise voodoo cuddly toy: ...offload the voodoo devil cuddly toy on eBay before it decapitates the entire clan in an blood-splattered slashfest of mindless, knife-driven violence. 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to the Accounts Department (email@example.com).
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