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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 May Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for May 2012.

Last issue we featured an article on Facebook's and Google's privacy policies, and gave you some tips and pointers on how to manage your private information.

It seems as if the public's perception of Facebook is getting worse. Increasing amounts of people are closing their accounts and leaving the social media giants every day. Some are leaving social media altogether, but others are turning to alternatives. This month look at some of these alternatives to Facebook.

YouTube feature

This month's clip explains some of the rules of Facebook etiquette. Join Alice and Timmy as they use Facebook, the electric friendship generator, to show what not to do when using the social media site.


Rob Zorn


Facebook alternatives

by Rob Zorn

In the last couple of years, public perception of Facebook has really changed. While many still treasure it as their social lifeline, increasing amounts of people are distancing themselves from the social-media goliath. The greatest reason more people are leaving Facebook seems to be privacy, or a lack of it. Facebook has been copping some serious flack for its dictator-like privacy policies which give it ownership of all your information, and in some cases, risk passing that information on to other companies.

But while many are leaving social media altogether, others are moving to alternatives. This month we're going to look at alternatives to Facebook.

It is important to note that social networking was around long before Facebook. The reason Facebook and social networking are almost synonymous today is because Facebook got it right. The features they offered were what people wanted, so people flocked to the service and made it the popular site it is today. Accordingly, the majority of social networking sites still around have generally based themselves on Facebook, including as many similar features as they can without breaking copyright. So it will be unusual (with exceptions) if any of the alternative sites in this article contain something Facebook doesn't, or hasn't had before.

What's different about these other sites is their focus, and how they control the information you upload.

Google Plus

A few years ago, when Facebook's position as the royal party of social networking seemed unassailable, Google launched its own social network, Google Plus (or Google+). Despite being in an invite-only testing phase, it amassed over 25 million users in its first month.

Not one to do things by halves, Google had built its own network from the ground up. It took everything good about Facebook, combined it with some key elements from other networks and built a social hub of interaction that had Facebook scared.

At the heart of Google Plus is 'Circles', the idea that you can organise friends, family, acquaintances and whoever else into different circles, depending on how you want to interact with them. This allows you to view and publish posts with whichever group you wish.

Their privacy policy also leaves Facebook red-faced. You have complete control over the information uploaded. You decide which circles of friends can view different posts and you can even prevent them from sharing with anyone else. You can also control how other people can find you.

Learn more about Google Plus.


An acronym for "Blog early, blog often", Bebo was launched in 2005 and is enjoying a significant following. Bebo's main focus is the younger demographic of social networkers, with features that reflect their audience.

Of note is the fact that the majority of Bebo's features are run by third-party clients. For example, their chat service is run by Windows Live, their video service by AOL and Skype, and their music sharing by

Bebo is also one of the few social networking sites that defaults your profile to private, a welcome feature for those looking to escape Facebook's anti-privacy hands. However their privacy policy is confusing at times, and changing the security features (if you can find them) can be a bit of a mission.

Learn more about Bebo. is a blogging site that lets users set-up and manage multiple blogs, as well as choosing to follow blogs by others. The site is well organised and very easy to use.

With so many format options available, numerous users have turned their Wordpress blogs into functioning websites. also has a plethora of plug-ins, small packets of software which let you tinker with every aspect of the site, from design to special features.

It is important to note the distinction between and The former is the free online service, while the latter is a paid service that allows you to download the software and run your blog from your own personal server. More plug-ins and features are available to users of the

Learn more about


LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site. As well as being a handy place for career development and networking, LinkedIn is also a thriving community of entrepreneurs and business folk.

You sign up and fill out your profile as much as you can – jobs you have had in the past, details of your qualifications, skills, interests and knowledge, links to your website, blog and other online profiles.

You can search for people to connect with by name or organisation, or have LinkedIn scan your email account for people you are likely to know. LinkedIn differs from other online networks in that is a bit stricter about how you connect with other people. You must state how you know a person before you are able to connect with them.

One of the most useful elements of LinkedIn are the groups, which are based on subjects and issues, or on a geographical basis. The latter can be particularly handy especially if you would like to find out what business people locally think about an issue just request to join the group and post your questions.

Learn more about LinkedIn.


These are just a few of the more popular social networks out there, but there are so many more. Here's a small list of some other networks with rather interesting focuses (click the titles to visit the sites).


Diaspora aims to be a distributed network, where totally separate computers connect to each other directly. You download and install the free software which allows you to completely format your own profile. You can then use the program to reach out and connect with other Diaspora users.

Diaspora gives you complete control over all the information you include in your account. Aware of the flack Facebook has taken recently, the creators of Diaspora came out saying, "Our distributed design means no big corporation will ever control Diaspora. Diaspora will never sell your social life to advertisers, and you won't have to conform to someone's arbitrary rules or look over your shoulder before you speak."


Snabbo is a free social network just for the Baby Boomer generation. The name "Snabbo" is an acronym for Social Network Allowing Baby Boomers Only. Driven by nostalgia for the "good old days", members are encouraged to use a photograph taken any time during the 1940's through the 1980's as their profile page picture. The more information members provide about their past, the more likely someone can rediscover them. Snabbo's "Find Friends" feature is able to successfully search for a person even if all you can remember is their nickname when you knew them in school.


Habbo is a social networking site for teenagers with 200 million users. Habbo was previously called Habbo Hotel, and mimics a virtual hotel which users enter. They can chat in chat rooms that are mocked up to be cinemas, restaurants and dance clubs, with virtual bots bringing you drinks and serving your table.


This social network aims to be to Muslims what Facebook is to others – but without all that is considered "haram" or forbidden in Islam, such as gambling and alcohol advertisements, pornography or sexy images.

Salamworld is still in development, but is aiming to be operational in July 2012. The network aims for 50 million users within three years.

Ning / SocialGo

Ning and SocialGo take a far different approach to social networking, allowing you to create your own social networks, essentially making them both a social network of social networks. Part of the beauty of these is that you can create and discover social networks based on your interests.

The idea is similar to Facebook's Groups, although Ning gives you more control over your network.

SocialGo is a little more complex. Rather than populating an existing network with you profile, as is the case with most social networks, your profile becomes the network, allowing you to create a central hub for a particular theme or interest that others can connect their profiles to. Organisations and business can even integrate its social networking features (like video chat or instant messaging) into a already existing website.

Although there is an entry-level free network option, SocialGo's premium user created network is priced at $25 a month.

View this article on its own...


What's new

A new, more customer-friendly type of web address is coming...

The word "dotcom" has always been synonymous with the internet and domain names. But, despite being the most popular, the .com domain has for a long time been only one of many top level domains, and a new programme from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will see the number of available top level domains explode well into the hundreds.

Soon you may be checking out the newest film release at a .movie website, ordering dinner from, or booking a hotel room at www.auckland.hilton.

With such a dramatic change to the internet landscape, brand owners should all be asking: how to get the most value from their brands with new top level domains; how to prevent others from registering their brands as gTLDs; and how to monitor the hundreds of new domain registries for new subdomains that may be of concern...

To keep reading click here to view the full National Business Review article.


Helpful tips

Your Actrix Mailbox quota

With the uptake of Broadband allowing people to email larger files with ease, some customers may find their mailbox filling up unexpectedly. Actrix Mailboxes have a default limit of 100MB which should be plenty, but if you're frequently sending or receiving large files and attachments, or tend to leave messages on our servers things can accumulate pretty quickly which can create issues.

In a nutshell an email mailbox is just like one in the physical world in that it can only store so much information; in the case of email this is comprised of files and attachments, messages sent and received, deleted messages, etc. If you fill your Actrix mailbox past the limit (100MB by default) it will no longer be able to accept new mail and any messages sent to it will be returned to the sender.

You can check the current usage of a mailbox at any time by simply logging into MyActrix and going to MyInfo then Mailbox Usage. You will be presented with a usage bar that looks something like this.



There are several common scenarios that could make your mailbox to eventually become full, including:

  • receiving large volumes of emails in a short space of time
  • storing emails with large attachments in Actrix Webmail
  • using IMAP or Webmail to check your Actrix email address (without deleting old messages)
  • using POP3 and storing emails on the server in addition to your email client.

If you find yourself in a situation where your mailbox is full but you would rather save the more important or precious emails rather than deleting them, there are ways around this.

POP3 users (the majority of people) will be using a standard email client such as Outlook Express or Mozilla Thunderbird to check their mail, in which case their emails are already stored locally on their computer.

With IMAP accounts you can choose to store emails on your computer locally by saving the emails or moving them to a local folder in your email client.

In Webmail it's important to remember that emails in the Trash, Sent and Spam folders, as well as any custom folders you may have created, also count towards the limit of your mailbox. Regularly deleting or archiving lesser important emails from these folders is a great way to keep things under control.

For customers that need a lot of storage for their email we also offer 300MB and 1GB mailbox upgrade options, for more information on these take a look here.

A previous tip 'How do I clear large e-mails from my mailbox?' also deals with how to get around large messages blocking your mailbox (particularly for Dial-up customers), click here to take a look at that now.

If you have any questions about this topic please feel free to contact our friendly Support Team on either or 0800 228-749 any time between 8:00am and 11:00pm, 7 days a week.

Tip Index

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!

Would I survive a nuke? Ever wondered if Wellingtonians would survive if a nuclear bomb was dropped in Auckland? Enter your location, choose the size of the bomb and the nearest big cities to find out if you'd survive a nuclear attack. The site contains a disclaimer that states they aren't liable if you don't survive a nuclear attack, not that there'd be anything you could do if that situation ever eventuated.
Art for the sky This site is a gallery of artwork as seen from the sky, with most of the artwork created using human beings as its paint. Some were created for political reasons, others for aesthetics, and others just for fun. "Art For the Sky opens hearts, instils vision and changes the way we see the world."
Apple developer Ever wanted to design and create your own ioS spps for iPhones or iPads? At this site you'll learn everything you need to know. You will learn the basics of programming, the language that powers all iOS apps and frameworks. You will learn how to create a simple iOS app, how to test it on a device, and how to submit an app to the App Store.
Duct tape fashion Home of the original Duct Tape Wallets and Duct Tape Accessories! This is the place for duct tape, duct tape activities, and more! You'll find duct tape wallets, duct tape hats, coloured duct tape, and duct tape books! The site has been featured on CNN, The Game Show Network, in Time magazine, and Rolling Stone magazine.
How to win fairground games – Ever been to a fair or carnival hoping to impress your lady-friend (or manny-friend) by winning them a giant soft-toy? Those fairground games look so easy... How hard could it be to knock over a stack of cans, or throw a dart through a balloon, or get the ring over the post? Here's everything you need to know to beat the carnies, win a soft-toy, and impress your very special person.
Retrevo: User manuals Retrevo is an online store for electronic devices of all sizes, and this particular page has over 100,000 user manuals for different electronic devices, covering over 1000 different brands. So next time you want to figure out how to program your microwave or change the bulb in your oven, chances are you'll find out how here.
Stealth search engine – If you're worried about large corporations like Google invading your privacy, Stealth is the search engine for you. Unlike Google, Stealth doesn't track you, it doesn't record your searches or your IP address, it won't bombard you with targeted ads and it won't force cookies onto your system. Minimise your internet footprint!
Abbey Road crossing webcam– This site gives you a direct link to a webcam that views the same crossing the Beatles' used for their iconic album cover. It also has hours of archived footage where you can view hundreds of re-enactments by fans of the band's crossing.
Freemake – True freeware at a new level! Freemake offers freeware in the truest sense of the word: no feature or time limitations, no hidden costs. Convert video to multiple formats with the free Video Converter and Video Downloader, and listen to unlimited free music with the Audio Converter and Music Box, plus heaps more.

The best and worst of 2011 This is a collection of everything you need to know about last year. Taken from 90 sources online, offline, and everywhere else, this is the biggest collection of top-ten lists, gadgets, celebrity gossip, and other assorted useless tidbits of knowledge about 2011.


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Te Papa selects show for global audience: Virtual tours of the art of Te Papa will be available from today to enthusiasts around the world. The national museum has joined Auckland Art Gallery in offering part of its collection online through the Google Art Project. Click here for more.

Inquiry on school use of broadband: A select committee inquiry is likely to be held into whether schools are well able to take advantage of the new teaching and learning opportunities created by ultrafast broadband. Click here for more.

Facebook derails Timaru party: Facebook has been blamed for another out-of-control party in Timaru. Neighbours reported fighting, abuse and broken bottles as police struggled to shift a crowd of about 150. Click here for more.

Top NZ tweeters as voted by you: Online experts have nominated New Zealand's Top 50 Tweeters – a mix of those who contribute laughs, expertise or encouragement. Click here for more.

Mobile commerce on the rise: Mobile commerce in New Zealand is a "huge opportunity" and is likely to create a shift that would see decreasing foot traffic at bank branches. Click here for more.

Underage Facebook users prove vulnerable: Up to half of children aged 10 to 12 are using Facebook, even though the social networking site is supposedly restricted to those 13 and older. Click here for more.

Marks missing from smartphone schools app: Parents will have instant access to each school's Education Review Office reports, enrolment zones and emergency evacuation plans in the first smartphone application developed by the Education Ministry – but academic results have been left out. Click here for more.

iiNet verdict good news for Kim Dotcom: Kim Dotcom may be able to breathe a little easier following a landmark Australian High Court ruling that found internet provider iiNet was not responsible for illegal file sharing by its users. Click here for more.


Favourite gadgets ready to gather dust: The relentless march of technology makes today's shiny new gizmo tomorrow's wardrobe clutter. Check out these gadgets destined to become digital dinosaurs. Click here for more.

Australian court finds Google ads deceptive: Internet search engine Google has been found guilty of posting misleading and deceptive ads, with an Australian court upholding an appeal by the competition watchdog. Click here for more.

Rich smartphone users less likely to play: Wealthier smartphone users are less likely to play games or tweet and will opt for news, travel or finance apps, according to a new study. Click here for more.

Banking, shopping and job hunting online: Banking and keeping track of finances, shopping and searching for jobs are the main tasks of Internet users around the globe, according to a new international survey. Click here for more.

Top 10 iPhone hacks: Is it really Apple's way or the highway? It depends on how far you're willing to go in tweaking your iPhone or iPad. Jailbreak hacks have been around since the iPhone first came out, and it's worth noting that many of them have since found their way into the official Apple software. Click here for more.

Google Art Project premieres upgrades: High tech merged with high culture at The Art Institute of Chicago when Google announced an upgrade to its Google Art Project initiative, adding thousands of works in dozens more countries. Click here for more.

Minecraft creator's next game announced: Minecraft creator Markus "Notch" Persson has unveiled his next project, 0x10c, a parallel universe where the space race never ended but continued with the ultra-wealthy and mega-corporations taking over. Click here for more.

How to get started with Quickflix in NZ: Quickflix is the new subscription television service site just launched in New Zealand.If you're thinking about trying out Quickflix, here's how to get a free trial. Click here for more.

KONY 2012 sequel to launch this week: Non-profit Invisible Children announced it would release a sequel to KONY 2012, the most viral video in internet history, later this week. Click here for more.

Google in the gun as victims fight back: Consumer complaint websites set up to name and shame companies that provide inadequate services and products have become a hotbed for hate attacks that are ruining people's businesses and livelihoods. Click here for more.

Can new services stamp out piracy?: Most media pirates I've met – and I include myself in this – employ the same old arguments to justify their actions. Click here for more.

Banking faces its digital revolution: With one in three Kiwis owning a smartphone, banks are expanding their apps, small programs which act like a mobile bank, and have juicy extras such as using the phone's GPS to track down the nearest ATM. Click here for more.

The dark face of online shopping: Is there a dark side to buying from foreign retailers online? Who pays the hidden price for this cornucopia of cheap stuff, being dispatched with an urgency once reserved for wartime cables? Click here for more.

Taming the email onslaught: Email has revolutionised the way we communicate. In today's connected world you've always got mail. So here's some tips on handling the deluge. Click here for more.

Social Media

Facebook responds to Yahoo patent suit: Facebook fired back in its legal battle with Yahoo by accusing the Web pioneer of infringing 10 of Facebook's patents, according to a court filing. The counterclaim from Facebook comes after Yahoo sued Facebook for patent infringement last month. Click here for more.

Privacy rules make poachers gamekeepers: When you 'like' something on Facebook or read an online newspaper, perhaps a dozen or more companies are squirreling away data on your tastes, your habits, whether you're male or female, old or young, gay or straight. Click here for more.

China lifts microblog controls: China's two biggest microblog sites have resumed normal service after a three-day ban on posting comments that sparked complaints about censorship amid the country's worst high-level political crisis in years. Click here for more.

US student expelled for profane tweet: Austin Carroll was fighting insomnia when the teenager turned to Twitter for relief and casually dropped the F-word multiple times, apparently to demonstrate to his followers that the expletive would fit almost anywhere in a sentence. Click here for more.

Web surfers to pay online using Facebook: A one-click online payment system using Facebook and Twitter that could boost Internet sales for newspapers, music vendors and other low-priced goods and services is being tested by a major European media company, according to its developer. Click here for more.

'Stalker' app pulled after 'rapist tool' outcry: An iPhone app that essentially allowed users to stalk women nearby using location-based social networking service Foursquare has been pulled from the iTunes app store by its developer after an outcry of criticism. Click here for more.

Anti-Kony group releases follow-up to viral video: The group Invisible Children has released a new video as a follow-up to the viral Kony 2012 film aimed at focusing global awareness on atrocities attributed to Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for more.

Court reinstates case against YouTube: A US appeals court has revived a five-year-old copyright case against YouTube, finding that a jury might conclude that the online video service knew it was infringing rights when it allowed the distribution of videos of popular television shows and other programs. Click here for more.

Marine faces discharge over Facebook post : A Marine who posted on Facebook that he would not follow orders from President Barack Obama should be dismissed from the military with a less-than-honourable discharge, a Marine Corps review board ruled. Click here for more.

Hillary Clinton embraces web parody: Texts From Hillary, a hot new Tumblr featuring a sunglasses-clad, all business Hillary Clinton checking her mobile on a military plane, got a guest submission from an unexpected source: Secretary of State Clinton herself. Click here for more.

Facebook boosts patent arsenal: Facebook will pay Microsoft Corp US$550 million (NZ$676.9m) for hundreds of patents that originated with AOL, beefing up its intellectual property arsenal. Click here for more.

How George became an online superstar: Actor and Internet sensation George Takei turned 75 last Friday. For nearly 50 years, George Takei has been famous for his portrayal of Hikaru Sulu on the original '60s television show Star Trek. Takei appeared as Sulu for three seasons and six subsequent movies. Click here for more.

Facebook hits 901 million mark : Facebook says it has 901 million users, making it likely that it will pass the 1 billion mark well before the end of the year. Click here for more.

Ex-lover punished for Facebook revenge: A jilted boyfriend who put nude pictures of his former lover on Facebook has been sentenced in Sydney to six months' jail - the first social networking-related conviction in Australian history and one of just a handful in the world. Click here for more.

Social media blurs home, office lines: Politics has been redefined by it; wars have been organised with it; movies have been made about it. Social media may have revolutionised the way people connect, but workplace experts warn these sites can blur the boundaries between home and work life, with serious consequences. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Anti-virus can't keep up with threat onslaught: Is anti-virus good enough to protect against today's threats? The short answer is no, anti-virus is not good enough, yet consumers can't afford not to use it when one new piece of malicious software, or malware, is released every two seconds. Click here for more.

Hacking democracy: why Bender is great : In 2010, Washington DC unveiled its state of the art internet-based electronic voting system. To demonstrate it, it held a unique public trial: a mock school board election in which people were invited to test the new system and even, they challenged confidently, try to compromise its security. Click here for more.

Major security camera privacy breach: Thousands of people all over the world could be watching Martha get ready for bed right now. But Martha isn't an entertainer. She's an elderly woman, and she almost certainly doesn't know that the inside of her home is being broadcast on the web. Click here for more.

New privacy laws not safe enough, say pundits: Some possible safeguards have been left out in proposed legislation under which private companies could get access to taxpayers' personal information. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

'Text lane' just for laughs, but issue serious: The sidewalk lanes for the digitally distracted may be a joke but officials in Philadelphia want the public to know the issue is no laughing matter. Click here for more.

Teen sells kidney for gadgets : Authorities have indicted five people in central China for involvement in illegal organ trading after a teenager sold one of his kidneys to earn money to buy an iPhone and an iPad. Click here for more.

Twitter saves carjacked man stuck in car boot: Twitter has become an unlikely superhero in a bizarre carjacking case in Johannesburg, South Africa. 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.

Shopping on the net a big hit with Kiwis: Over a million New Zealanders now shop online, with flights the most popular purchase, figures show. Click here for more.

Aimless Internet surfing costs us two days a month: Computer users waste up to two days a month surfing in cyberspace for things they don't need, a survey claims. Click here for more.

Google's April fools' offering: high-speed internet through your toilet: Presiding over a company with a market value of $143 billion apparently gives Silicon Valley's most famous billionaires a good sense of humor and a case of corporate potty mouth. Click here for more.

Pacific accused of being haven for online fraudsters: The Pacific Islands are known by tourists for their coral reefs and sandy beaches, but computer security professionals are starting to see them in a different light. Click here for more.

Wikipedia fights vandalism: If you looked up stingrays on Wikipedia last week, you would have learned that, as well as living in tropical coastal waters and reproducing in litters of five to 10 offspring, the cartilaginous marine fish also "hate Australian people". 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. The best place to send requests for support is the Actrix Help Desk ( or to the Accounts Department (

Take care through May!

Rob Zorn 


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