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 September Actrix Online Informer
Welcome to spring and the September 2010 Actrix Online Informer. I often get emails from customers experiencing software and hardware problems that aren't internet-related and remember getting similar types of calls when I worked on the help desk. Unfortunately we can't be much assistance there because it's not our core business, but there is a lot of help available online for free. This month I thought a summary of just some of what's out there might be a good idea.
This month's featured YouTube video: Breakfast at Ginger's – golden retriever dog eats with hands.
Getting computer help online
by Rob Zorn
The Actrix help desk (and the Actrix editor) often get help requests from customers experiencing problems with their software. We're more than happy to help if the software came from us, or if it is related to the Internet. However, we're not really able to help when that isn't the case. It's not that we don't care, of course. It's just that the appropriate people to give you support for non Internet related things are those who supplied you the software or hardware.
But don't despair. You're not alone. We've probably all experienced those moments where we've been ready to throw our computers out of the window in a single frustrated heave; Whether it's too slow, asks too many questions, or just won't cooperate.
Sometimes these instances are simply unavoidable. But more often than not, these is something you can do before your computer leaves the building through a second-story window. One of the first things to do is type your problem into Google, or your search engine of choice. If a program keeps giving you an error message, type it into Google accurately. Chances are someone else has had the problem and posted it on a forum somewhere where other kind and knowledgeable souls have provided answers.
Failing that; here are a couple of the best places online to help you identify and fix those problems. Also included below are some websites that will teach you how to get the most out of your software, and hopefully avoid problems occurring.
Computer HopeComputer Hope is a website dedicated to helping people solve whatever problems they might be having with their computer. What’s good about this site is the vast number of ways you can go about getting help. You can enter key words into the site's search engine and be presented with a whole list of related articles that will answer your questions.
You can also check out the discussion forums and see if anyone else has been having the same problems as you. With forums on all computer related subjects from Macs and malware to Windows and websites, chances are you’ll find your answer here. And the next time your computer throws a multi-syllabi jargon at you, use the Computer Hope Dictionary.
Computer Hope also deals with all operating systems, so whether you’re running Windows, Linux, or a Mac, you’ll be covered.
CyberTech HelpMuch like Computer Hope, CyberTech Help is there to answer all your computer questions. What sets CyberTech apart, however, are its tutorials and downloads. The tutorials offer users a step-by-step guide to identifying problems and finding answers on a whole range of subjects.
The downloads page offers a collection of files that are free to download. These range from media players to spyware removal programmes and are definitely worth checking out, even if you’re not experiencing any problems.
There are lots of tech forums out there you can join for free where computer problems are discussed and solved. Some will let you read them without signing up, but some will not let you see discussions unless you become a member.
What's good about forums is that there are real human people to interact with, so you get a range of points of view, and you can ask questions for clarification. I've highlighted CNET because it's relatively easy to use, well-known and popular. You can read discussion for free, but you have to become a member if you want to post to the forum. There are lots of topics available, but you can also type your problem into the search box.
But while it's good to know how to get yourself out of a problem on your computer, it’s just as important to know how to avoid certain problems altogether. So here’s a list of sites that teach you how to get the most out of your computer software.
Microsoft Support and Microsoft TrainingThese two sites are very similar in the way they offer tutorials and lessons in how to use Microsoft Office applications, such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. While Microsoft Support has an emphasis on troubleshooting and technical problems, Microsoft Training has a greater focus on educating users to make themselves familiar with each application and how to use it.
You can even choose to view tutorials from previous releases, such as Office 2003 or Office 2007.
Home and learn
Home and learn is a UK site especially pitched at beginners. So if you're new to computers and looking for something pretty basic this might be a good starting point. The usual suspects are covered (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc - but not the 2007-10 versions) along with a few others such as PHP and web design. The Beginners Computing tutorials cover all sorts of basics for XP or Vista such as setting the date, setting up toolbars and heaps more.
In Pictures online tutorials are based on pictures, not words because "They're the easiest way to learn computer subjects." There's no complicated multimedia, just pictures that show exactly what to do. This one includes both 2003 and 2007 versions of Microsoft applications, but also has a lot more such as web layout, Open Office and even a bit of web programming.
Apple SupportIf you own a Mac, this site is definitely worth checking out. It has a whole bunch of video tutorials you can watch on how to get the most out of your Mac. It also has a collection of articles on all aspects of owning and operating a Mac, including photos, movies, and music, so certainly worth a read.
With computer technology constantly changing and evolving, it can be hard to keep up-to-date with the latest software and technological know-how. Technology pages on the Stuff New Zealand Herald websites are great places to help you keep up with changing technologies. They have sections ranging from gaming to gadgets and are pretty good at making technical stuff interesting for the average New Zealander. You can also read reviews of new software and the latest products, as well as important, and sometimes quirky, news in the world of technology.
Actrix Internet help
If you go to the Actrix homepage and click the Online Help button in the top menu, you’ll find a host of frequently asked questions, tips, and answers to all things internet. There are also a number of tutorials you can take that help you learn more about the services Actrix provides. And of course you can always check out the archive of past Actrix Online Informer articles and forums.
And if you still need help in real time, our help desk number is 0800 228749. Email us at email@example.com.
More dodgy emails
It seems we've had another round of dodgy emails, many purporting to come from Actrix announcing something like "We" are upgrading our web mail service and deleting all web mail accounts that don't seem to be used to make room for new accounts. Emails like this (and there have been several variations on a theme) invite you to email back your personal details or go off and log in somewhere to stop your account being deleted. Customers have been emailing and asking whether these are legitimate, but of course they aren't.
We would never ask you to put your personal details and passwords in an email. Emails are as open as postcards when they travel across the Internet so they should never contain sensitive information. That's why all reputable companies make it a policy never to ask you for your password in email. That should be a red flag, whether an email appears to come from us, from your bank, from Trade Me or whatever.
Another email that has been turning up claims to have photos of my wife attached. That's really interesting because I don't have a wife. What is attached could be a virus, but I understand it is actually just a picture of Viagra with a price list and a link to a site where you can buy the drug.
Another email getting through our filters occasionally has been around for a while and is known as the McScam. It claims to be from McDonalds offering you $50 if you will complete an online customer satisfaction email. Apparently the link provided takes you off to a fairly legitimate looking site but eventually they will attempt to trick you into giving them your credit card details. Apparently some trusting soul over in Western Australia has lost thousands!
Always be doubly suspicious of emails promising you unbelievably good deals, or threatening a catastrophe (such as your account being deleted) if you don't respond with personal information. Beware of emails that come from people you don't know that have attachments. In most cases you can safely delete and ignore these emails. If you're worried an email might be legitimate and important, give whoever is supposed to have sent it to you a call.
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).
Hi Actrix. I have received an email purporting to be from you guys. It asks for my password which always makes me feel uncomfortable. It is threatening dire results for ignoring it, which seems uncommercial. Is it legit? I would also like to change the name on the emails going out from me. Can you fix this for me? I look forward to your reply. Regards, Ian
Hi Ian. No, that email was not from us. It's a typical phishing attempt, and we'll never ask you for your password in an email. Well-spotted.
The name that goes out on your email is a setting local to you.
To change it open Outlook Express, click Tools and then Accounts. Double click on your account in the big white box, or if there's only one account there click the Properties button on the right. Change the display name to whatever you like.
Keep clicking Next until you come to the Finish button. That should take care of it.
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!
Cyberspace news snippets
What's been happening in the online world?
Scorned lover vents hate online: A scorned lover using Facebook to impersonate her ex-partner is ruining the man's life, his family say. Click here for more.
Facebook 'friend' steals TV contestant's identity: A person Amelia Gough trusted as a Facebook friend ended up stealing her photos and using them to create fake MySpace and Twitter pages in her name. Click here for more.
Ernie Newman steps down from TUANZ: Telecommunications Users Association NZ CEO Ernie Newman has resigned after 12 years in the role. Click here for more.
The periodic table of Kiwi Twitterers: From pavlova with kiwifruit to The Lord of the Rings, Kiwis are known worldwide for diverse reasons. But we are also becoming prolific on another stage - Kiwis are tweeting like never before. Click here for more.
'Brutal attack' overkill for Facebook rumours : A Hamilton woman angered by comments made by a former friend on social networking website Facebook responded by smashing the woman's computer and pulling out a clump of her hair. Click here for more.
Life unplugged: Many Kiwis refuse to join social networking sites like Facebook. But as the online community grows, it's becoming even tougher to stay away. Jehan Casinader confronts his social networking nightmare and meets others who are doing the same. Click here for more.
Lush asks for help outing his imposter: Broadcaster Marcus Lush has become the latest celebrity to fall victim to a Facebook faker. The RadioLive morning show host asked his fans for help to track the imposter down. He wrote on Twitter: "I need help getting rid of a Facebook imposter, any ideas?" Click here for more.
Google's Gmail service provides Kiwi users with free phone calls to the US : New Zealanders can make free calls to the United States and cheap calls to the rest of the world through an internet phone service now available through Google's email service, Gmail. Click here for more.
YouTube used for stealth tobacco marketing - study: Tobacco companies have turned to video-sharing website YouTube to market their products, new research from Otago University reveals. Click here for more.
Pacific Fibre 'definitely happening': The capital needs of home-grown oceanic cable project, Pacific Fibre, have shrunk to just $150 million, says one of the founders of the project to create a competing cable to Telecom's Southern Cross cable joint venture, linking Australasia with the Internet's nerve centre, the US. Click here for more.
Police warn of internet stranger danger: Police will warn a Hastings-based internet user after he befriended more than 50 Invercargill schoolgirls, including falsely arranging to meet one girl, via social networking site Facebook. Click here for more.
IRD warns about email tax scam: An email advising eligibility of a tax refund from Inland Revenue should be deleted immediately, the tax department says. Click here for more.
In Facebook age, affairs not secret anymore: Affairs were once shadowy matters, illicit encounters whispered about and often difficult to prove. But in the age of Facebook and Twitter and lightning-fast communication, the notion of privacy is fast becoming obsolete. Click here for more.
Too much 'screen time' harming children: Exposing children to too much ''screen time'' is causing obesity, sleep disorders, and less brain activity, a leading psychologist has told a forum in Auckland today. Click here for more.
Brits waste billions on Facebook, Twitter: Employees who fritter time away on Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites are costing British businesses billions, new research suggests. Click here for more.
Many Americans don't want broadband: The majority of Americans do not favour making affordable high-speed Internet access a government priority, according to a study released by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Click here for more.
Germany watching StreetView closely: The German government said on Wednesday it will scrutinize Google's promise to respect privacy requests by letting people opt out of its "Street View" mapping system and that it would be ready to intervene if necessary. Click here for more.
WikiLeaks readies release of more files: WikiLeaks spokesman Julian Assange said his organisation is preparing to release the rest of the secret Afghan war documents it has on file. Click here for more.
Teen internet addicts more prone to depression: study: Teenagers who are "addicted" to the internet are more than twice as likely to become depressed than those who surf the Web in a more controlled manner, a study published Monday found. Click here for more.
Messy online history cleaned up - for a price: Haunted by a revealing photograph from your drink-mad office party posted on Facebook? Berated by an ex-lover on a blog posting? Or is your business being skewered online by a vindictive customer? Then Gary Powers is waiting to hear from you. He can help. Click here for more.
Net neutrality protest at Google: About 100 protesters march on Google's headquarters to denounce its open internet plan and urge it to honour its "don't be evil" motto. Click here for more.
Facebook failed to tell police about paedophiles: Facebook management failed repeatedly to reveal the activity of an international child pornography syndicate operating on their site and ignored continuing admissions by one of the ring's Australian members. Click here for more.
Should parents 'friend' their kids?: Three quarters of parents questioned in a Nielsen survey said they are friends with their children on the popular social networking website which boasts 500 million active users. But a third admitted they are worried they are not seeing everything their children are doing on the web. Click here for more.
Teens toy with death online: It's dangerous, sometimes deadly and is played almost exclusively by children and young teens. It's called the choking game and YouTube has served up a new twist to what the experts warn is literally dicing with death. Click here for more.
Hey boss, get off my Facebook – it's the law: Ever thought twice about posting a party picture on Facebook, fearing it could someday hurt your chance at a dream job? Click here for more.
Lady Gaga crowned Queen of Twitter: ady Gaga has dethroned Britney Spears as "Twitter Queen" with more than 5.7 million followers on the microblogging site and promised no online celebrity nonsense during her reign. Click here for more.
Cameron Diaz hot bait for online traps: Actress Cameron Diaz has topped a McAfee computer security firm list of the most dangerous online celebrities. Click here for more.
Who will save the world when the web goes down?: On a Thursday evening in December a remarkable attack by a shadowy group of hackers briefly paralysed Twitter. For two hours anyone who typed www.twitter.com into their Internet Explorer's address bar was re-routed to a simple black screen showing a green flag and the words: "This site has been hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army." Click here for more.
Facebook alternative Diaspora eyes launch date: An open alternative to Facebook will be launched on 15 September, the developers of the project have said. Diaspora describes itself as a "privacy-aware, personally-controlled" social network. Click here for more.
Older users flocking to Facebook, Twitter: Nancy Ehrlich was nearing 50 and frustrated, teaching at her small Pennsylvania town's elementary school with colleagues who didn't share her love of technology. Then, last summer, she found Twitter. Click here for more.
Facebook Places just too much information? Here's how to opt out: With the launch of Facebook Places, users need to figure out if this service is a cool new tool or an overbearing feature best avoided. Click here for more.
Facebook is trying to trademark 'face': Facebook, which has gone after sites with the word "book" in their names, is also trying to trademark the word "face," according to court documents. Click here for more.
Security and Safety
Online counselling help useful but 'risky': Online therapy is now available at the click of a computer mouse or by cellphone, but experts warn users to check providers' credentials before committing to any treatment. Click here for more.
2010 a bad year for malware - McAfee: The world's No 2 security software maker said production of malware, which can harm computers and steal user passwords, reached a new high in the first six months of 2010. Click here for more.
Call to improve password security: The growing power of graphics cards might mean passwords have to get longer to stay secure, suggests research. Click here for more.
Be careful what you tweet: Nothing said online is really private, says Bill Thompson. Click here for more.
5 tips to protect yourself on Facebook: After news hit this week that Facebook developers are furiously trying to fix a bug that lets spammers harvest users' names and photos, the issue of online safety has reared its ugly head again. Click here for more.
More cracks appearing in PC defences, warns IBM: IBM has reported that the number of discovered cracks that hackers could exploit in computer software surged in the first half of the year. Click here for more.
Facebook users warned over 'dislike' scam: Computer security firm Sophos has warned that scammers are duping Facebook users with a bogus "Dislike" button that slips malicious software onto machines. Click here for more.
Microsoft patches 'critical' crack in Windows: Microsoft has released an emergency patch for a "critical" crack in Windows operating system software that could let hackers take control of computers over the internet. Click here for more.
The Weird, Wide Web
Bible all a-Twitter: A devout Christian in Britain is gathering a flock of followers over Twitter, thanks to an ambitious plan to summarise the Bible in daily tweets. Click here for more.
Wife learns of husband's secret wedding on Facebook: Dread of the unknown hung in the air as Lynn France typed two words into the search box on Facebook: the name of the woman with whom she believed her husband was having an affair. Click here for more.
Chinese copies of NZ websites: Duplicates of dozens of New Zealand university and polytechnic websites have appeared on the internet in the Chinese language, upsetting tertiary authorities who are trying to find out why. Click here for more.
: 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.
Girls prefer girly websites: official: A study by Glamorgan University Business School's Department of the Fairly Bleedin' Obvious has concluded that it's not just a website's subject matter that determines whether it appeals more to guys or gals... Click here for more.
Silver surfers ready to storm shops: Silver surfers are about to burst through the doors of the virtual shopping mall, so retailers must be ready to cater for them, a new report says. Click here for more.
Web used to trace deadly spider: A woman from Cornwall used the internet to identify a poisonous spider after she was bitten by one hidden in bananas bought from a local supermarket. Click here for more.
eBayer auctions ad space on corpse: You are bidding for the sole right to advertise on my corpse....as soon as my corpse is discovered and otherwise legally available to you. 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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