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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
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Actrix – New Zealand's first Internet Service Provider

Welcome to the November Actrix Online Informer

Welcome everyone to the November 2010 Actrix Online Informer.

As most of you are probably aware, unfortunately, the phishers have been busy again this month. A series of hoax emails has turned up, some purportedly coming from Actrix and bearing our logo, warning that your account is about to be suspended, or that someone has suspiciously used your account from different locations. The emails provide a link you can click so you can enter your user name and password. By providing these personal details, so they say, you'll save your account from being closed or whatever.

Of course these are phishing attempts designed to get you to reveal your user name and password so your account really can be abused, so in this Actrix Online Informer we provide a little more about what these emails are and why you sometimes receive them. See below.

This month's featured YouTube video is of a woman talking on her cell phone. Now it's not shocking to see a woman talking on her cell phone while walking down the street. It is shocking, however, when the woman is an extra in a silent film from 1928. This clip from Charlie Chaplin's The Circus is getting the internet abuzz and spreading at viral speed. Some are saying it's proof time travel is possible after all!

Rob Zorn


A brief history of the net

by Rob Zorn

Can you remember what you were doing when Elvis died or when John Lennon was shot? What about the first time you heard about the incredible internet?

Some of us have grown up not knowing a world without the internet, but most of us can probably remember back to life before Google (and some of us doubted the whole interweb thing would catch on anyway, after all what practical uses did it have?).

But today, the world is dependent on the internet, and most of us would have to admit that we are as individuals too. We use it every day to check emails, play Farmville or bid on those limited edition AC/DC playing cards on TradeMe. But do we really know what the internet is, or why it was invented? Here is a brief overview of the history of the internet and some of the milestones that have made it what we know and love today.

1958 – In the beginning...

After the Soviet Union launched  the first artificial earth satellite Sputnik, the US Department of Defence formed an agency to determine how the United States could gain the lead in military science and technology. A problem the agency identified was the risk a nuclear strike would have on military communication, so they sought to solve the problem by creating a network whereby communication could continue should the United States ever get nuked. They began by creating a network between their research facility and a number of universities, which they called the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). Eventually scientists and academics got in on the act and started publishing papers on how this network could be improved, and before long the ARPANET would become the internet we depend on today.

1972 – Its first words...

In light of the original purpose of the internet, to assist in communication, two computer engineers sought to find a way one computer could send a message in text-form to another computer. They took a program that existed for internal messaging and adapted it to be able to send messages to external sources. Little did they know they had just invented email. Within a year, over three quarters of all activity on the ARPANET was email.

1979 – Spam spam spam....

While it would have inevitably happened anyway, there is someone you can blame for all the annoying and unwanted spam emails your inbox collects. His name is Gary Thuerk, and he is credited with sending the internet’s first spam email. At the time, he was an employee of Digital Equipment Corporation, who invented the minicomputer, and he sent an email to 400 other ARPANET users advertising the new range of minicomputers and inviting them to come see a product demonstration.

1986 – The internet grows to 5000 host computers.

1987 – The number of hosts doubles to 10,000.

1988 – Stomach bug...

Computer science student Robert Morris is credited with creating the first computer virus. Today it’s referred to as the Morris Worm, and it infected more than 6000 computers, which at the time was nearly 10 percent of all internet users. It caused no physical damage, but did a good job of clogging up the net, costing users hundreds of thousands of dollars in computer time.

1989 – The internet arrives in Godzone...

The first commercial Internet Service Provider in New Zealand begins operating out of Wellington. It had started with some really clever chap mucking about with computers in his garage and creating a network for his friends and fellow students, but he developed it to the point where it could be offered as a paid service. He named it Actrix, based on the words "Active" and "Unix" – the operating system his network ran on.

1987 – The number of internet hosts reaches 100,000

1998 – Google

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two PhD students from California, knew there was a better way of searching for information on the internet. They developed Google, a search engine that ranked different websites according to their popularity, their number of pages, and their importance. They also started working out of a garage with no money or employees, and now own one of the biggest and richest companies in the world.

1999 – Yo ho me hearties...

At the tender age of 18, Shawn Fanning was infamously credited as the face of internet piracy when he developed Napster, a peer-to-peer software program that enabled users to swap Mp3 music files on their computers for free. Various record labels got fairly miffed over this and took Napster to court. In 2001, they were eventually successful in getting the site shut down. However, the whole ordeal threw music piracy into the public eye, and numerous copy-cat sites were launched, keeping music piracy alive and revolutionising the way the music industry looks at marketing and sales – the smart ones anyway.

2000 – There are 10 million websites on the internet in February, and 20 million by September.

2003 – Facebook

In 2003 while sitting in his dorm at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg hacked into the university’s server and stole the information he needed to create Facebook. He originally intended for it only to be available to students at Harvard, but as popularity and demand grew for Facebook, it was extended to a number of other universities before going international. Today, Facebook boasts over 500 million active users, half of which log on to the site at least once a day.

2006 – There are an estimated 92 million websites online.

2007 – At least a billion people use the Internet according to Internet World Stats.

2010 – The number of internet users world wide is just under 2 billion at 1,966,514,816 (or was that 1,966,514,817?).

So there you have it, a brief overview of some of the internet’s more significant achievements. There are a number of others that missed the cut but we had to draw the line somewhere.

View this article on its own... 

Why do I receive hoax emails?

Hoax emails are frequently sent in the same manner as spam messages and usually have subject headings like "Security Alert" or "Account maintenance". Basically these are fake emails designed to get you to log into a bogus website so that important personal details (e.g. banking or internet user names and passwords) can be harvested – this type of cyber-crime is called "phishing".

Sometimes I get a hoax message that isn't addressed to me. Why is that?

It is very common for spammers and phishers to include lots of e-mail addresses in the 'To' field, the 'CC' (circulating or carbon copy) field and the 'BCC' (blind carbon or circulating copy) field of an email. If your email address has been included in the BCC field, it will turn up for you looking as if it was addressed to someone else.

How did they get my address in the first place?

Spammers and phishers 'harvest' e-mail addresses in a multitude of ways. The most common way is to send out little robot programs that trawl every website and newsgroup they can find recording every e-mail address they come across. They also collect emails that have been forwarded to lots of people so they can copy out the e-mail addresses, and they offer free newsletters to anyone who will sign up with their email address. Once they have the addresses, they are quickly sold and traded to other spammers and phishers. Sometimes they just set up a computer program to send their spam to a list of email addresses made up of the most common user names and a popular ISP domain names.

What do I do if I receive a hoax message?

If you receive a suspicious or hoax message it is important you do not reply, open any attachments, or click on any links contained in the message. Reputable companies won't contact you in this way.

Click Here for a past Actrix Online Informer which dealt with this issue in more detail.


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!

Chat danger – "The Chatdanger website has been created to inform young people about the potential dangers and ways of keeping safe in interactive areas online, such as chatrooms, instant messenger, online games and email, and also via mobile phones. The aim of the site is very much to inform and empower users of these services, so they can use these services safely, and not at all to discourage people from using them."
Send an email from the grave – The Great Goodbye allows you to prepare emails or pre-record sound or movie files to be sent to your loved ones (or perhaps your not so loved ones) upon the event of your death. You open one of three levels of accounts, upload your stuff, and then give the activation code to someone you trust (you really, really trust). That person activates the release of your material upon your untimely demise.
Six secrets restaurants don't want you to know – Here are six insider-tips from within the restaurant business. They may make you think twice about going out for dinner – or at least what you order. Food for thought!

Photo fun time wasters – How good a visual judge of character are you? This page on the Smoking Gun's website allows you to match various real life mug shots with what you think were their alleged crimes or weapons of choice.
Freally – Now this is a great idea. The "Freally" people want to help save the planet by encouraging us all to give stuff away rather than throw it in a landfill. So if you have something you no longer want, open a Freally account and offer it to anyone who wants to come pick t up. And, of course, you can also use Freally to find free stuff you might want. To start, keep zooming in on New Zealand on the map and you'll soon see where stuff is being offered in your area.
The Ultimate Intelligence Test – Unlike weight and height there is no absolute measure of intelligence. Nonetheless, over the decades, scientists have devised tests that can show that one person is smarter than another just as surely as Olympic events can shed light on how far you can jump. The Ultimate Intelligence Test is a series of 12 cognitive tasks to test your planning, reasoning, working memory and attentional abilities to the limit. It is brought to you by Cambridge Brain Sciences in collaboration with New Scientist and the Discovery Channel. It's extremely well-presented and lots of fun... at first.
2010 CHOICE Shonky Awards – Australia's Choice magazine has held the 'Shonky Awards' for five years now. A bit like our Fair Go, the magazine finds some of the more dubious products and services on the market and gives them a bit of a drubbing online.
25 of the most inspiring quotes ever spoken – An inspiring quote may be just what you need to turn your day around. Here are 25 of the most inspiring quotes ever spoken or written. Choose your favourite and memorise it for the next time you feel like giving up or taking the easy road.
Why we should be scared of Happy Meals – It's not just the stuff of urban legend. New York artist Sally Davies took a Happy Meal sized McDonalds burger and fries, put it on her living room table to see what would happen. She's photographed the said meal every day and the results are remarkable. It appears the burger and fries look exactly on the same on day 1 as on day 137. Hungry yet?
Atlas Obscura – Atlas Obscura is a catalogue of the singular, eccentric, bizarre, fantastical, and strange out-of-the-way places that get left out of traditional travel guidebooks. Entries include St Alfred's Tower, the Merenid Tombs and the Monument to Enemas!


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Kiwi toddlers have big online footprint, says survey: New Zealand families are at the forefront of the international trend to upload prenatal ultrasound images, tweet pregnancy experiences, make online photo albums of children from birth, and even create email addresses for babies, international internet security company AVG says. Click here for more.

Privacy body eyes online fakes: Authorities are investigating whether New Zealand should follow California's lead and make it a criminal offence to impersonate others including politicians on the internet, notably via Twitter and Facebook. Click here for more.

Documentary celebrates 21 years of internet in NZ: An anecdotal online documentary focusing on the 21st birthday of the internet in New Zealand has launched, aiming to be a resource "not just for geeks". Click here for more.

Government to review 'wild west' internet: Justice Minister Simon Power has ordered a review into the ''wild west'' of the internet, he announced today. The Law Commission will examine the adequacy of regulations around how the internet interacts with the justice system. Click here for more.

Police investigate social media: New Zealand police - coming soon to YouTube and Twitter? Click here for more.

Caught in the web... Facebook brings thieves to heel: A baklava burglar, a tiki thief and a man who swiped a bottle of Gran's Remedy for smelly feet - these are the master criminals who will rue the day Facebook was invented. Click here for more.


Facebook wants data dandruff: Mark Zuckerberg preaches 'radical transparency', but what is he hiding? Click here for more.

Facebook unveils 'groups' feature and user controls: Facebook has introduced a raft of features aimed at giving users more control over their personal data. Click here for more.

Twitter user threatened over speed camera tweets: South African police have threatened a Johannesburg Twitter user with arrest for using the social media site to tweet regular updates on police road blocks and speed cameras. Click here for more.

Online health sites 'need tighter rules': Online health information and disease-risk tests can mislead, confuse and create needless anxiety, and governments should do more ensure the people who use them know what they are buying, experts say. Click here for more.

Web solutions for lonely hearts: Australians are now able to get anonymous feedback on their awkward dating experiences with the help of a new website. Click here for more.

Police hail twitter blitz: Greater Manchester Police hailed its decision to put details on the twitter website of all 3205 incidents it handled over a 24-hour period as a success, saying it had highlighted the difficulty of the job. Click here for more.

Are we smarter or stupider with the internet?: Our online reading habits are making us stupid and unable to read anything longer than a paragraph or two, according to research in London. But New Zealand psychologists reject that notion, saying we are actually getting more intelligent because of the screeds of information available to us at a click of a button. Click here for more.

Reforming Nigeria's '419' email scammers: The most foolish argument I've heard from the never-ending efforts to discourage young Nigerians from cybercrime is that money isn't everything. Click here for more.

Miners' rescue among top Web events: The rescue of Chile's trapped miners has become one of the most-watched Web events in recent memory, according to an internet monitor Click here for more. sold, but at a loss?:, widely considered to be among the most valuable web addresses in the world, was sold for US$13 million ($17 million) by its bankrupt owner, Escom LLC. Click here for more.

Germans say Nein to StreetView: Internet giant Google says more than 244,000 Germans have asked that their homes be made unrecognizable in its Street View program, scheduled to launch in Germany next month. Click here for more.

Surfing the net good for workers and for business: Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, as well as music and online video sites like YouTube, are the most productive ways employees can relax at work, according to new Melbourne University research. Click here for more.

Internet the new face of warfare?: A new Air Force manual for cyberwarfare describes a shadowy, fast-changing world where anonymous enemies can carry out devastating attacks in seconds and where conventional ideas about time and space don't apply. Click here for more.

Ancient Biblical icon to go online: The Dead Sea scrolls, containing some of the oldest-known surviving biblical texts, are to go online as part of a collaboration between Israeli antiquities authorities and Google, developers said today. Click here for more.

Music pirate launches new assault on US: The internet entrepreneur credited with the dubious honour of all but inventing online piracy has revealed he is to launch a fresh attempt to bring free music to millions of US web users. Click here for more.

Is texting worse than TV?: Teens spend hours texting and socialising on Facebook. And it's driving their parents nuts. Click here for more.

Celebs paid to tweet: Australian celebrities are being offered as much as $10,000 (NZ$13,000) for a single tweet endorsing products to their thousands of Twitter followers, say sponsorship experts. Click here for more.

Who'd Be a Web Scientist?: Bill Thompson thinks you can treat the web as an object of scientific study. Click here for more.

Facebook tries to tell the story between two friends: Facebook is rolling out a new breed of Pages called Friendship Pages that pull together the public wall posts, comments, photos (based on tags) and events that two friends have in common. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Bad guys lie in wait online: In days gone by, we skipped gaily through parks and walkways in traditional Kiwi bare feet without fear of standing on used needles, prophylactics or broken beer bottles. Not so today. And so it is with the internet. Click here for more.

Russian talent turning to cybercrime: Now Americans are talking about another Russian underworld stunner, Kristina Svechinskaya, one of 37 people charged this week for their part in an Eastern Europe-based bank-hacking scheme. Click here for more.

Trade Me virus affects thousands: Thousands of Trade Me users have contracted a computer virus through the popular auction site. The virus has caused significant computer problems and some suspect it has stolen their credit card details. Click here for more.

Parent survey says social networks don't protect kids' privacy: Most parents think their children share too much information online -- and that search engines and social networks aren't doing enough to protect privacy, according to recent poll results. Click here for more.

Free stuff limited: Every time a new version of the anti-virus software AVG comes out I get a barrage of questions about whether it is any good and should one upgrade and how come it is free and what's the catch and how can it be as effective as the competition and, well, you get the idea Click here for more.

'Ban naughty countries from the net': Countries in Eastern Europe and Africa that harbour cyber criminals should be locked out of the global internet until their governments do something to reduce the threats, the former chief technology officer at the US National Security Agency says. Click here for more.

Facebook keeps 'deleted' photos for years: Even if you delete incriminating photos on your Facebook profile, the company is keeping them accessible to anyone online for up to 30 months. Click here for more.

Two million US PCs recruited to botnets: More than 2.2 million US PCs were found to be part of botnets, networks of hijacked home computers, in the first six months of 2010, a report says. Click here for more.

Profits killing personal privacy: Personal privacy is in danger of being killed off by the profit-making motives of firms which hold our data, security expert Bruce Schneier has warned. Click here for more.

Computer virus 'mastermind' arrested: Dutch authorities have announced an arrest in Armenia of the alleged mastermind behind a computer virus crime group whose server network was dismantled in the Netherlands a day earlier. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Sick PCs should be banned from the net says Microsoft: Virus-infected computers that pose a risk to other PCs should be blocked from the net, a senior researcher at software giant Microsoft suggests. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Man jailed over computer password refusal: A teenager has been jailed for 16 weeks after he refused to give police the password to his computer. Click here for more.

Google boss: 'Creeped out by Street View? Just move': Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said that if you don't like Google Street View cars photographing your house, you can "just move." Click here for more.

More than 7,000 people tagged in record-setting photo: More than 7,000 festival-goers recently set a Guinness World Record – simply by logging on to Facebook. 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.

Dolphin-for-sale hoax angers SPCA, DoC: The hoax sale of a dolphin on the Trade Me website has angered the SPCA, which says it has never been inundated with so many complaints. Click here for more.

New Zealand still way down in rankings for broadband usage: New Zealand continues to wallow in the basement of global broadband uptake thanks to Telecom, internet experts say. Click here for more.

E-mail makes office workers lazy: The explosion in e-mail use risks creating a generation of unfit, overweight office workers, say experts. Click here for more.

Sober worm comeback poses as schoolfriend pic: Virus writers have created a duo of email worms which pose as pictures of old schoolfriends. The Sober-O and Sober-P worms were bulk mailed to thousands of potential victims overnight in an attempt to seed infection. Click here for more.

Firefox hits 100m downloads: There's reason to crack open the champagne at the Mozilla Foundation today after Firefox browser downloads reached the 100m milestone. 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 ( or to the Accounts Department (

Take care through November!

Rob Zorn 


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