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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 editor@actrix.co.nz
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to support@actrix.co.nz.

Actrix – New Zealand's first Internet Service Provider

Welcome to the April Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the April 2011 Actrix Online Informer. We hope there's something of interest for you this time around. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to all those affected by the tragic earthquake in Japan.

YouTube feature

This month's featured YouTube video is called "Mountain bike race in urban Chile. The first person perspective provided by the rider's helmet cam helps you experience every glorious and frightening detail.

The Valparaiso Cerro Abajo Race is a legendary urban bike race I've seen described as "more extreme than skydiving out of an exploding F-18 piloted by Charlie Sheen" The rider has to brave jumps, stray dogs, and flights of stairs along the steep downhill path. And I think he's doing it in a suit!

Rob Zorn


Promoting your cause using social media

by Rob Zorn

When it comes to how useful social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are, there are a number of different opinions. Some people are happy to whittle away the hours playing Farmville and following the tweets of the rich and famous. Others view it as a waste of time and a cheap compromise for authentic social interaction. However, it cannot be denied that social networking has phenomenal potential. Never before has any medium given users the opportunity to communicate with other users on such a large scale.

Less than a decade ago the idea that one would be able to reach an audience that numbered over 650 million with a few clicks of a mouse was laughable. Not even television had that potential. However, with the increasing popularity of Facebook and Twitter, this has never been more possible, and it didn’t take long for people to realise that these networks could be used for more than just socialising. Nowadays it’s rare to find a company or organisation that doesn’t have its own Facebook page or horde of Twitter followers (Tweeps).

A couple of New Zealand-based Facebook pages that are dedicated to causes or promotions include It's our turn to shout, dedicated to alcohol law reform, Breastfeeding NZ, and, of course, The All Blacks,

Using Facebook and Twitter to promote your business, your organisation, or your cause is easy, economical and effective. Every hour 7.5 million users sign-in on Facebook and 4 million tweets are sent. So whether you’re self-employed, manage a sports team, are on the school-board, or you're holding a garage-sale, there’s something in this for you. Facebook lets you choose what sort of page it will be, e.g. for a cause, business, artist, brand etc with its Create a Page feature.

Generally, what you find with people making the most of social networks is that they use Facebook to create their audience, and then use Twitter to communicate with their audience. Creating the Facebook page is as easy as following a few simple instructions. The hard part is creating and maintaining an audience.

A place to start if you want to attract an audience is to make your Facebook page easy to find. When you create your page, fill in as much information as possible regarding who you are and what you are aiming to promote. Facebook automatically sorts its pages into categories so that people know where to find what they want. Also, each Facebook page offers users the chance to “Like” that page, which effectively makes them a fan of that page. This allows potential clients or customers to follow you and receive any updates that you post on your page. Further, whenever someone becomes a fan of your page all of their friends see that they have become a fan, which helps spread the word about your page. Once you get 25 “Likes” or fans, Facebook will replace the random and complicated URL to your page with a username, making it even easier for people to find.

Making your page stand out is a good way to attract an audience. Every Facebook page is laid out identically, so there will be little variation between your page and everyone else’s unless you put some effort into sprucing it up. A splash of colour and some material that they can interact with, be that a video or photos, and you’ll stand out. But you can go even further than that – Facebook offers users a vast number of applications that let your fans interact with your page in different ways that aren’t otherwise accessible. With these 'apps' you can create surveys and opinion polls to find out what your audience wants: you can create newsletter sign-up forms for people who want more information; you can even create a live-chat environment that people can engage to discuss relevant information. There’s even a nifty app called FBML (Facebook Markup Language). This app writes code similar to html but is exclusive to Facebook, and with it you can limitlessly customise your page.

Here’s a useful link that illustrates a number of ways to really make your page stand out: http://facebookflow.com/get-more-facebook-page-likes/

So once you’ve got an audience, you need to maintain it. Actively communicating with your audience is paramount, but here’s the tricky part: if you bombard them with updates and messages, they’ll quickly “un-Like” your page; but offer too little interaction and they’ll forget why they became a fan in the first place. The trick is to keep the communication relevant and attractive, to feed them enough but keep them wanting more.

Effectively communicating over Facebook can be a complicated process. Fortunately, there’s a program called Tweetdeck which can connect you with your fans over a number of different social networks, from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and MySpace. Tweetdeck lets you set up any number of updates to go out to all your fans on any social network. You can even write the updates in advance and programme Tweetdeck to send them out at specific times, taking out some serious hassle!

The ways to promote your page and maintain an audience are only limited by your imagination. If you can think of a way to customise your page, chances are someone out there has already figured it out or written the app to get the job done. The internet is full of guides and tutorials for effective marketing over social networks, so no excuses!

View this article on its own... 

Broadband rate limiting explained

We've been getting feedback indicating some customers aren't quite sure what rate limiting means in regards to their broadband connection, and what other options there may be. So we thought we'd provide an article addressing those questions.

Most Actrix broadband customers are on a plan with either a set monthly or a set daily traffic allowance. A traffic allowance is how much data (web pages, emails, videos, images, etc) you are allowed to download/upload per month or per day. Rate limiting kicks in when you reach the end of this allowance (e.g. your 10GB per month, 400MB per day, etc, according to the plan you're on).

When you're rate limited your connection speed is reduced to 64Kb (a little faster than dial-up) until the next time your traffic allowance resets. Customers on a monthly allowance will have their speed reduced for the remainder of their billing month, while customers on a daily allowance will have their speed reduced until the next daily reset time (which is normally 2am). In other words, we don't ordinarily charge you for extra traffic (data you download/upload) after your allowance is exceeded, we just slow you down.

However, there are other options.

Customers on plans with a monthly traffic allowance can choose not to have their speed reduced and opt to pay for excess usage instead. That means your broadband connection will always run at full speed but there will be charges for extra traffic (data you download/upload) over and above your normal allowance. This is useful if it is more important to always have the fastest connection possible rather than a fixed monthly fee.

If your broadband connection seems to be going slow chances are you have been rate limited. You can easily check this through My Actrix, just go to www.actrix.co.nz, enter your username and password to log in, and then select the 'CyberJet Usage' option from the menu on the left. If you have been rate limited there will be a message telling you so and advising your next reset time.

There are also graphs available showing what you've used over the past day and seven days with the periods you were rate limited displayed in a different colour. There's also a 30 day history which details your usage per day and total for the period. This should give you an idea whether the plan you're on is best for you.

If you frequently exceed your traffic allowance you might want to consider moving to a plan with a monthly allowance, or upgrade to a higher allowance plan. More information on the plans available can be found here.

As always if you're unsure how your plan works or have any questions about the other options available please feel free to get in touch with us via support@actrix.co.nz or give us a call on 0800 ACTRIX (228-749) between 8am - 11pm seven days.

View this article on its own...

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!

Index of commonly confused words
http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/UsageGlossary.htm – "Here in [About.com's] Glossary of Usage you will find more than 200 sets of commonly confused words – with links to definitions, examples, and practice exercises that should help you keep these words straight. When done you can test your understanding of these words with [their] Review Quiz: Commonly Confused Words and Quiz on 20 Commonly Confused Words."
The 36 rules of life
http://gotfunny.leroysjokes.com/553/the-36-rules-of-life/ – Here are 36 things you absolutely must know before you can really understand what life's all about. Those of us with a few years under our belts will agree that "experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognise a mistake when you make it again." Another of my faves is, "If you had to identify in one word the reason why the human race has not achieved its full potential, that word would be meetings."
The Gladys Dwindlebimmers Ralston Gallery of the Unidentifiable
www.dearauntnettie.com/gallery/ – The Gladys Dwindlebimmers Ralston Gallery of the Unidentifiable, under the able direction of Dr Tulip A Pandowdy, was formally opened on 14 June 1954, and has now been brought online. Click the images in the gallery for a larger picture and some commentary. There's certainly some interesting stuff here, but I'll let you decide how seriously you want to take things.

Japan tsunami, before and after: zoom-able satellite images
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/03/110316-zoom-satellite-pictures – Zoom in and out of satellite pictures of Japan before and after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake spawned a deadly tsunami on 11 March. (Also see: 20 "unforgettable" pictures of the tsunami.) Mouse over the images to access zoom tools. "Home" icon returns picture to fully zoomed-out view.
The ultimate Facebook tips and tricks guide
http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2011/03/the-ultimate-facebook-tips-and-tricks-guide/ – "Facebook now boasts over 500 million (active) members (that's one in every 13 people on earth) and everything from your Mountain Dew Code Red to your sneakers has a fan page). Facebook is becoming an integral (and at times, claustrophobic) part of how we access the Internet. So, how to best handle this beast? We’ve got a slew of tips and tricks on how to try to tame the Facebook monster."
Show us your long drop
www.showusyourlongdrop.co.nz/ – This website was set up to showcase all the creative long drops that popped up around Christchurch after the quake. Its creator says, "This... was my way of supporting Christchurch during this tough time and you have all made me proud with your resilience and good sense of humour. I have never been more proud to be a Cantabrian!".
Here's what the most average person in the world looks like
http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2011/03/heres-what-the-most-average-person-in-the-world-looks-like – "National Geographic went about collecting statistics on the world's population (which currently stands at 7 billion). Know what they found? Apparently, the most average/typical/frequent person on this planet is male, 28-years-old and is Han Chinese in ethnicity (with 9,000,000 alive). But they didn't stop there. Taking images from 190,000 of those fitting the criteria, researchers created a composite image to show what the most average person looks like."
Awkward family photos
http://awkwardfamilyphotos.com/ – "Childhood friends Mike and Doug began the blog after Mike saw an awkward vacation photo hung in his parents' house. Realizing there were probably plenty of other people out there with their own awkward family images, the two friends decided to create a friendly place where everyone could come together and share their uncomfortable family moments. Thus, Awkward Family Photos was born. The authors started by posting a few of their own childhood photos and those provided by friends, and the site quickly took off and became an internet sensation; it now receives millions of hits daily and submissions from around the world."
This is true
www.thisistrue.com/ – Randy Cassington writes a a weekly column featuring weird-but-true news stories from around the world. Many of these stories are archived at this website – like the woman who had her husband's ashes made into an egg timer when he died so he could still "help" in the kitchen. You can also sign up for stories of human weirdness to be sent to you each week by e-mail for free.
Lateral science
www.lateralscience.co.uk/ – Lateral Science, by Roger Curry, contains a plethora of quirky articles on science and engineering subjects. Many are historical and quite surprising. It's a great site for science-heads, but kids, don't try any of this stuff at home!


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Google wants Kiwis, but in Sydney : Google says it plans to take on about 80 software developers from Australia and New Zealand this year, but any Kiwi candidates will need to be prepared to move to its nearest engineering centre in Sydney. Click here for more.

Web of opportunity: The internet is still an untapped resource for most Kiwi businesses but those that have taken the plunge are singing its praises. Click here for more.

Ultra Fast Broadband on hold?: InternetNZ CEO Vikram Kumar says its organisation has heard that the government may call a halt the Ultra Fast Broadband initiative following last week’s earthquake in Christchurch. Click here for more.

NetHui to gather internet stakeholders: InternetNZ is hoping a three-day conference will attract representatives of various sectors that are “stakeholders” in the internet, to discuss a broad range of internet-associated topics. Click here for more.

Google searches are R18: Technically, New Zealanders under 18 are not allowed to use Google's search engine and its internet services. Click here for more.

Net to get faster, but strings attached: Access to the country's new ultra-fast broadband network could cost up to $80 a month - but there may not be a huge breakthrough in speed, leaked documents reveal. Click here for more.

Put your firm's best online face forward: Websites have become the most-seen faces of many businesses, but are New Zealand organisations putting their best face forward? Click here for more.

Trade Me keen to curb dodgy dealers: Trade Me could require professional traders to identify themselves on its site but says it will need the full weight of the law to crack down on dodgy dealers. Click here for more.

Online service to keep the 'mate' in flatmate: A group of Wellingtonians has developed a free online service designed to take some of the angst out of flatting. Click here for more.


Gmail messages vanish for about 150,000 : Google has restored email service and messages to some of the users who had found their old emails deleted. Click here for more.

Diary of a teenage eBay fraudster: An Australian teenage fraudster who masterminded an elaborate eBay rip-off while at high school kept a journal detailing his illegal activities. Click here for more.

Online study kills uni life: The push towards web-based learning at universities has halved student attendance rates in some courses and dramatically increased working hours for lecturers, a survey of academics has found. Click here for more.

Computer expert says US behind Stuxnet worm: A German computer security expert said he believes the United States and Israel's Mossad unleashed the malicious Stuxnet virus. Click here for more.

Charlie Sheen sets new Guinness World Record for Twitter: Charlie Sheen may or may not be "winning," in life, but he has won a rare honor: the "Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers" Guinness World Record. Click here for more.

Product test: Which browser prints best?: Printing from the web can be perilous. Each browser interprets pages differently, and what emerges from your printer can sometimes look nothing like what you saw on the screen. Click here for more.

France fines Google: France has fined Google NZ$193,000 for collecting private data from wireless networks when its camera-equipped cars gathered footage for its on-line map service Street View. Click here for more.

The 'right to be forgotten' online: When it comes to privacy, the Internet has long been something of a Wild West but that that is starting to change, with regulators in Europe and the United States beginning to pull in the reins. Click here for more.

Technological changes may lead to 'reading divide': The rapid rise of e-books could lead to a "reading divide" as those unable to afford the new technology are left behind, even as US reading and writing skills decline still further. Click here for more.

How the net transformed bullied boy: The boy who retaliated against a younger student at school after an apparent bullying attack has been transformed from a victim to an online hero. Click here for more.

Mozilla unleashes privacy-aware Firefox 4: A fast, sleek new version of Firefox has been released to vie with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 (IE9) and Google Chrome. Click here for more.

Steve Jobs responsible for 'killing' music, says Bon Jovi: Eighties rocker Jon Bon Jovi has slammed Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, saying is "killing" the music industry with iTunes. This is despite the fact that Bon Jovi albums, singles, podcasts and even audio books are available in the iTunes store. Click here for more.

Web helps people locate loved ones in Japan quake: Searching the internet on sites such as Google, Twitter and their local variants has become more effective in finding loved ones than sifting through wreckage following Japan's devastating tsunami. Click here for more.

Google execs given millions in bonuses: Google has awarded nearly $9 million (NZ$12m) in bonuses and another $50 million (NZ$67.3m) in equity to four top executives of the internet giant, according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Click here for more.

Young should help older net users: Less than half of UK over-55s are using the internet, a survey suggests. Click here for more.

Google blames China for Gmail problems: Problems with Gmail in recent weeks are the result of increased snooping by the Chinese government terrified that recent revolutions in north Africa will somehow spread east. Click here for more.

Spam kings sought after takedown: After the dismantling of the world's biggest spam network, investigators seek who was behind the Rustock botnet. Click here for more.

Social Media

Facebook valued at $65b: Investment firm General Atlantic is investing in Facebook, valuing the leading social network at US$65 billion. Click here for more.

Facebook 'public' says watchdog: The Press Council has rejected a complaint against the Herald on Sunday by a man upset a picture off the social networking site Facebook was used in print. Click here for more.

Dismissed as a joke, Twitter revolutionises communication: Whether you think Twitter is the greatest thing to happen to communications since Gutenberg or the worst, there's plenty of evidence to support your views. Click here for more.

Facebook status update helps stop burglary: Can Facebook save lives? Here's video evidence, telling the story of college student Nitesh Bhakta, who spotted hooded burglars in his living room. He quickly grabbed his laptop and slipped undetected into the attic as the intruders tied up his grandmother and sister and then ransacked the house. Click here for more.

Facebook photos help to incriminate bigamist: A word of caution to any would-be bigamists who may be reading this: if you're posting photos of your second wedding to Facebook, you might want to make sure your first wife can't see them. Click here for more.

Con artists taking advantage of Facebook: The popularity of Facebook has spawned a cottage industry of con artists. Click here for more.

Schoolboy spread invitation to 200k on Facebook: NSW Police say they have identified a schoolboy as the person behind spreading a young girl's birthday party invitation to more than 200,000 people online. Click here for more.

Social network addicts look to calm the update storm: Social networking fanatics deluged by updates and posts are turning to services that promise more intimate communities increasingly tied to real world activities. Click here for more.

Facebook more popular than porn: Social networking sites are more popular with UK internet users than pornographic ones, according to new figures from Experian Hitwise. Click here for more.

Is Facebook making you depressed?: Add "Facebook depression" to potential harms linked with social media, an influential doctors' group warns, referring to a condition it says may affect troubled teens who obsess over the online site. Click here for more.

Facebook invite causes party woes: Never advertise a party on Facebook is the advice of a woman whose quiet flat warming in Wyndham at the weekend spiralled into drunken disorder and mayhem. Click here for more.

Facebook fear for schoolkids: Parents of boys at a Sydney private school have been urged to monitor their sons' use of Facebook, with a warning that any mistakes they made in teenage years could be permanently recorded on the internet and catch up with them later in life. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

E-mail snooping crackdown urged: UK Ministers must do more to stop internet service providers (ISPs) snooping on private e-mails without consent, an ex-cyber security minister has said. Some ISPs have trialled software that intercepts and scans e-mails to target ads. Click here for more.

Internet banking security breach alert: A Governmen watchdog has warned of a "highly critical" security breach affecting devices used to protect internet banking transactions and workplace networks. Click here for more.

Cyber war risk is here and now, author claims: Others dispute danger, but agree on the need to be prepared for attack. Click here for more.

Hackers target business secrets: Intellectual property and business secrets are fast becoming a target for cyber thieves, study by security firm McAfee says. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Microsoft can't wait for IE6 to die: “Friend's don't let friends use Internet Explorer 6," Microsoft said this week in launching a new site that tracks the progress of pushing IE6 market share below 1%. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Half a million Germans rally in support of 'Baron von Googleberg': A huge online campaign has rallied in support of former German defence minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who resigned on Tuesday after being stripped of his PhD for plagiarising large sections of his thesis. Click here for more.

'Cut and die': the web loves to hate Rebecca Black: Within a week, 13-year-old Rebecca Black has managed to simultaneously become the most popular and the most hated person on the internet. Click here for more.

Acronym fever gets official stamp: OMG! The exclamatory online abbreviation has won the approval of the Oxford English Dictionary. 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.

Trade Me fans fear worst: The people who "make Trade Me what it is" have hit out at the $700 million buy-out, fearing it will ruin New Zealand's most popular website. Click here for more.

Thousands fall for Hotmail prank: ...a chain e-mail is making the rounds: Microsoft will soon charge all Hotmail account holders, it claims... Click here for more.

Zombie PCs menace mankind: Cybercrooks are developing more sophisticated techniques to steal confidential data. Click here for more.

419er mugged by rubbers: Here's a refreshing new angle on the 419 advance fee fraud email: a "show me the money" variant which takes our beloved English language round the back of the bike sheds and gives it a right shoeing. Enjoy: Click here for more.

No backdoor for Vista - MS: Microsoft's developers have stepped forward to dismiss suggestions that the next versions of Windows might feature backdoor features to allow police access... Click here for more.

Bringing it all back home

Thanks again for reading the Actrix Online Informer. Feedback can be sent to me via the e-mail address listed below. Please limit this to comments/suggestions regarding the newsletter. Non-forum requests for support should go to the Actrix Help Desk (support@actrix.co.nz) or to the Accounts Department (accounts@actrix.co.nz).

Take care through April!

Rob Zorn


Copyright © 2011 Actrix Networks Limited | Contact: editor@actrix.co.nz