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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 July Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for July 2012.

This month we have a couple of smaller articles for you on protecting your system from the dangers of spam, and also a detailed "how to" guide for dumping Facebook.

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is a culmination of thousands of still frames, some long cold nights and a few early mornings out under the beautiful southern hemisphere skies of New Zealand. Shot over the last couple of months around the volcanic plateau of the Tongariro National Park in the central North Island, this clip showcases some of New Zealand nature's more spectacular displays.

Do we not live in most beautiful country on earth?


Rob Zorn


Can it be dangerous to open spam emails?

These days spam is seen as a necessary evil of having an email address. No doubt you've received countless requests from Nigerian Princes (how many princes can one country have?) claiming they want to share millions of dollars with you. Either that or you've won a fortune in a Spanish lottery you've never entered, or some pharmacist has certain "growth" pills that'll change your life. Regardless, receiving spam is usually not dangerous in itself… but what you do with it could be.

Generally a spam email will be looking to achieve one of two things. The first is to install something (usually  some form of virus) on your computer, and the other is to get you to visit a certain site, where they will either try to get access to your personal information or swindle you out of your hard-earned money.

First things first – never click a link in a spam email, or any email for that matter, unless you're positive you know where it's going and you trust the sender. Simple.

Often you'll get fake emails from banks, especially Kiwibank for some reason, telling you to sign in to your account because it's been suspended or some such nonsense. This is a nasty trick to get you to enter your account details at a site mimicking the bank's site, which gives the spammer access to your money. As a rule, banks will never send you an email with a link to their website. If you ever suspect it might be a scam, but want to be sure, never use the link provided. Use Google to get to their website and sign in there. That way you know you're using the legitimate site. Or you can give your bank a call and ask them about the email. Use that same rule with everything, including Facebook.

A simple safe motto is "if in doubt, chuck it out". Delete that email without even opening it.

In the good old days, simply opening and reading spam emails posed no dangers at all. But as virus technologies got more and more sophisticated, this is no longer the case. Technically, the technology exists to allow a virus to install itself on your computer just from you opening an email.

While a scary thought, much has been done to prevent it from happening on your computer. A computer that is running up-to-date versions of Windows and Outlook won't have a problem because the most recent software has shut down the vulnerabilities these viruses exploit. Likewise, updated anti-virus software is ideal protection against viruses and other unwanted malicious software.

So here are a few simple rules for emailing:

  • keep your versions of Windows, and Outlook up to date by checking your Control Panel and setting to auto-update
  • keep your system clean of viruses and spyware by running anti-virus and spyware checkers on a regular basis. Keep those up to date too
  • never open an attachment unless you're positive you know what it is and that you trust the sender
  • never click on a link in an email message unless you're positive you know where it's going and that you trust the sender
  • Don't believe everything you read in email. PayPal and Kiwibank and whomever else will not be asking you to verify your account by email – it's most likely a scam to get your credit card number.

View this article on its own...

How to dump Facebook 

Public opinion of Facebook has certainly changed in the past year or two. While some have been more than happy for Facebook to play a bigger part in their online lives, others have distanced themselves from the social media mogul, intent on protecting their privacy.

There's no doubt Facebook has become more invasive. Nowadays nearly every website has the option of signing-in using your Facebook account, giving Facebook access to more personal information about what you do and where you go online. What's more, Facebook is capable of capturing information about what you've been doing online, without even being signed into your account. This allows them to bombard you with advertisements tailored to your interests, but also opens up the possibility of tracking your passwords for other sites, such as banking and emails. Now I don't know about you, but I consider that a serious invasion of privacy.

Facebook enjoyed a massive rise to fame, but as more and more allegations arise of privacy invasions, people seem to be abandoning the site in droves. If you'd like to join them, here are a few tips to getting Facebook out of your life.

If you've ever tried to delete or deactivate your account before, you'll know it's a hard thing to do. Facebook has cleverly made it hard to leave.

There are a few options for ditching Facebook for good. The first is a temporary deactivation. If you just want a break, or think you might change your mind in the future, you can temporarily deactivate your account. This doesn't delete it, it just hides it. People won't be able to visit your profile, you won't be on other's friends lists, and all your information will disappear.

Temporarily deactivating your account is easy.

  • Log in to your account, and in the upper right corner on your home page, click the down arrow, and then account settings.
  • On the left, choose Security from the list of options, and you'll see the link to deactivate your account at the bottom of the page.
  • After clicking that link, you'll arrive at a page that asks you if you're sure you want to deactivate your account? You will see a group of your friends appear in very large photos, enticing you to remain. Confirm that you are sure by clicking the appropriate button.
  • Check the box to describe why you are deactivating, and fill in the text box to "explain further" (optional).
  • Make sure you check the box for "Email opt out." Doing this lets you opt out of receiving future emails from Facebook. If you don't select this, your friends can still invite you to events, tag you in photos or ask you to join groups. Opting out prevents them from sending emails and notifications anymore.
  • Press the "Deactivate" button, enter your password to confirm you own the account, and your account will now be hidden from other viewers on Facebook.

If you do change your mind and decide you want your account back, all you have to do is sign in to Facebook using your account details, and your account will reappear, just how you left it.

If you wish to permanently delete your account, you have two options.
The first is to do it yourself.

  • Log in to your account, and in the upper right corner on your home page, click the down arrow, and then Help. In the help page, type "delete my account" in the search bar.
  • Click the first option that appears, entitled "How do I permanently delete my account". This gives you a couple of paragraphs to read and at the end it says, "If you'd like your account permanently deleted with no option for recovery, log in to your account and fill out this form."
  • After clicking that link you will be reminded that this is a permanent deletion and that your account cannot be reactivated and none of the content or information you have added can be retrieved.
  • Follow the steps, such as entering your password, email, and Captcha code, and click Okay. A small box will pop up telling you your account has been deactivated, and will deleted in 14 days if you don't change your mind. If you do change your mind, simply log in within those 14 days and your account will be reactivated.

The other option for deleting your account is to email Facebook directly.

  • Send an email to privacy@facebook.com, requesting Facebook delete your account.
  • You should receive notification in the next few days letting you know this has been done. If you don't hear back from Facebook within a week, email them again, and cc support@facebook.com and info@facebook.com into the email. This should get their attention.
  • Again, don't log in to your account for 14 days to avoid reactivating your account.

And that's how to get yourself free, folks.

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!

That's my face!
www.thatsmyface.com – Ever wanted your own action figure? With this site you upload a couple of photos of yourself which the site scans and then creates a 3D model of your face. Then you can chose to put that face on anything, including models, masks or even your very own personalised action figure, which isn't as bad gift idea.
Rate my turban
www.ratemyturban.com – In the name of turban fashion all around the world, Rate my Turban was created to share fashionable turban styles and to inspire turban-wearers to put a little more effort and pizzazz in their headware. You upload a photo of yourself wearing your turban, and other users give you a rating out of ten. Believe it or not, this site is now the number one turban site in the world.
Recycle your socks
www.wikihow.com/Recycle-Your-Socks – If you're wondering what to do with that top drawer crammed full of odd socks, wonder no longer. Wikihow has put together a list of 31 different things you can do with your old socks. These range from the functional (dust rags, drink cozzies etc) to the slightly odd (sock dolls and horse bandages). There's bound to be something here you can do to creatively get rid of yours.
Toilet seat museum
www.unusualmuseums.org/toilet/ – When you think of museums, you think of the Louvre or Te Papa. You certainly don't think of Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Art Museum. Well Barney has been creating these "works of art" for well over 30 years and now has over 700 differently decorated toilet seats.
International forum for the study of itch
www.itchforum.net – The International Forum for the study of itch is a multidisciplinary international award-winning association of clinical practitioners, researchers and scientists dedicated to improving our understanding and treatment of all things itchy.
Ugly mailboxes
http://uglymailbox.com/ – Ugly mailboxes is a showcase of some of the world's most creative and ugly mailboxes. From hotdog cars and icecream vans to robots and turtles, these are some seriously ugly mail receptacles. Fairly self explanatory really...
Sword swallowing and its side effects
www.bmj.com/content... – This is an actual study performed by the British Medical Journal evaluating information on the practice and associated ill effects of sword swallowing. Reading some of these so called "ill effects" makes you wonder why anyone would ever take up the sport at all. Each to his own.
Shakespearean insults
www.pangloss.com/seidel/Shaker/index.html – Ever been in an argument and the opportunity's arisen to slay your opponent with the perfect insult, but nothing's come to mind? This site hosts the entire collection of Shakespearean insults from all of his plays and poetry. At the click of a button you're given a random insult, and the work it was taken from. Anyone who doesn't enjoy this site is a rump-fed ronyon! (Taken from Macbeth).
Save the words
www.savethewords.org/site.swf – This site is dedicated to all those words that are slowly dropping out of every day use. To save the words, you can register and adopt them for free. However, once adopted, you are charged with using that word as much as you can in every day conversation. Such a responsibility should not be taken lightly.

Build the Enterprise
www.buildtheenterprise.org – This website is every science fiction fan's dream! They propose to build a life-size replica of Star Trek's The Enterprise. They claim all the technology already exists, but I think I'd remember if someone had invented warp drives, tachyon particle tractor beams or tele-portation devices.


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Spotify: New music service explained: Finally, it's here. Two years ago I discovered Spotify – a streaming music service – while in Britain. Because of IP identification it hasn't been accessible within New Zealand, but just last week, we got a surprise pass and Spotify is now open to Kiwis. Click here for more.

Weak competition caps data: Broadband data caps may be more generous in Australia than New Zealand because of stronger competition between Australia's "much larger number" of internet providers, says Sydney-based analyst Market Clarity. Click here for more.

NZ internet address system may open up: The ".nz" internet address system could be opened up to allow people and businesses to register any prefixes in addition to the usual ones of ".co.nz" and ".net.nz", the non-profit company that runs New Zealand's cyberspace has suggested. Click here for more.

Pirates off the hook after 'third strikes' lapse: Two people who received "third strikes" for pirating music over the internet under the controversial "Skynet" copyright law have been let off the hook. Click here for more.

What Kiwis are googling: It was the show that everybody loves to hate which also proved to be the show everybody loved to search, with Google searches for The GC increasing by more than 300 percent in the past month. Click here for more.

Simple steps to up your cyber security: A few simple steps can stop almost all of today's cyber security threats, according to Microsoft New Zealand's corporate affairs manager Waldo Kuipers. Click here for more.

Facebook's 'check in' hotspots revealed: Facebook's top "check-in" locations suggest Auckland is a city obsessed with sport and gambling. The social media giant has released Auckland's top five social landmarks using data derived from where people check in using their Facebook accounts. Click here for more.

Teen duo find apps lucrative: A pair of Garin College students with a knack for the digital and an eye on the future have made thousands from creating apps, and they are only just getting started. Click here for more.

Kiwi appointed to Internet Society board: Wellington-based internet governance specialist Keith Davidson has been elected to the main board of the Internet Society – an international organisation that promotes open standards on the internet. Click here for more.


Sleep and tech don't mix: You're lying wide awake. You reach over to your mobile phone, a flash of light is emitted as you press the home button. It's 1am. You say to yourself, "If I go to sleep now, I'll still get six hours sleep". Click here for more.

Techno-toddlers skype their parents: Toddlers are skyping their parents and emailing their drawings as technology links the playroom to the office. Click here for more.

Energy assets in front line of cyber war: Global energy infrastructure is more vulnerable than ever in an escalating cyber war thanks to "sons of Stuxnet" electronic missiles, which can be created from the virus designed to sabotage Iran's nuclear programme. Click here for more.

Google's big changes to shopping business: Google has unveiled major changes to its shopping business that will likely prove controversial in the e-commerce world. Click here for more.

Giants warn of threats to free, profitable internet: US officials and high-tech business giants have launched an assault against what they view as a massive threat to the internet and to Silicon Valley's bottom lines: foreign governments. Click here for more.

Eye computer at your fingertips: Remember that odd-looking Google Glasses prototype the search giant has been pushing since April and that co-founder Sergey Brin has been wearing to practically every event since? Click here for more.

Talking cars for road safety: As a safety demonstration, it was a heart-stopper: A Ford Taurus was seconds away from cruising through an intersection when suddenly a row of red lights pulsed on the lower windshield and a warning blared that another car was approaching fast on the cross street. Click here for more.

Technology gives voice to worker brain strain: Computers are pushing us to unprecedented levels of work achievement and productivity, so it's only fitting that they can now be used to monitor ''cognitive overload'' at the desk. Click here for more.

Computers, sex trump cellphones in poll: When given the choice, most people around the world would give up their cellphone rather than their computer and would prefer to live without social networking rather than television, according to a new global survey. Click here for more.

China goes after web anonymity with new rules: China released proposed changes to its Internet law on Thursday that aim to further eliminate anonymity on the Web and expand control over the companies behind the country's boisterous microblogging scene. Click here for more.

UK council lifts gag on nine-year-old food critic: A nine-year-old blogger has won a food fight with authorities in her Scottish town, after an online outcry prompted officials to lift a ban on posting photos of her school lunches. Click here for more.

Windows users struggle with redesign: As Microsoft prepares to show the world what its new Windows 8 can do on the next generation of high-powered tablets, initial reviews of the new operating system on existing hardware underscore the challenges the company faces with the radical redesign of its flagship product. Click here for more.

Phones gain ability to learn by touching: There's a form of extra-sensory perception called psychometry, whose practitioners claim to learn things about objects by touching them. Smartphones set to be released this month by Samsung and Sony will have some of that ability: they'll learn things when you touch them to pre-programmed "tags". Click here for more.

Kogan browser stunt a slippery slope?: Australian online electronics retailer Kogan created a internet-wide splash last week with the announcement on their blog of an Internet Explorer (IE) "tax" on purchases to encourage their users to upgrade to a more modern browser in order to avoid a 6.8 percent surcharge. Click here for more.

Strange things we ask the internet: Google Analytics, for the uninitiated, is a nifty tool that keeps track of traffic to websites - once you install it, you can see statistics including how many people are visiting your site, where they are located, and what methods they use to find the site. Click here for more.

Social Media

Let's rock – Queen of Twitter fires up jubilee: "OK, fire up the Bentley. Let's rock." Thus tweeted "Elizabeth Windsor", comic online alter ego of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, as the flesh-and-blood monarch was about to depart Buckingham Palace for a solemn church service to mark her Diamond Jubilee. Click here for more.

Facebook comments, ads don't sway most users: Four out of five Facebook Inc users have never bought a product or service as a result of advertising or comments on the social network site, a Reuters/Ipsos poll shows, the latest sign that much more needs to be done to turn its 900 million customer base into advertising dollars. Click here for more.

Facebook explores opening up to under 13s: Though Facebook bans children under 13, millions of them have profiles on the site by lying about their age. The company is now testing ways to allow those kids to participate without needing to lie. Click here for more.

Facebook to let users vote on privacy changes: Facebook is letting its nearly 1 billion users vote on changes to its privacy policy. Click here for more.

Facebook's smartphone? Dumb idea: There are two ways to make money in the smartphone business. There's Apple's way, and then there's everyone else's way. Click here for more.

Face up to social media reality: Would you want technology and information powerhouses such as Facebook and Google trawling through your photos and using facial-recognition software to identify you? Well, like it or not, they already do. Click here for more.

Facebook app centre eases browsing: There's more to Facebook apps than Angry Birds and Pinterest, but many users wouldn't know that because there hasn't been a good, central way to find them. Click here for more.

The harsh reality of social media: What if Facebook didn't exist? Or Twitter? Or Google? Go on, try it on. Surely to utter such an idea is internet heresy. Click here for more.

What will it take to kill Facebook?: Facebook is culture. It's etiquette. It's inside our language and our love lives. And it changed us all in eight short years. Our relationship with mainstream Facebook? It's complicated. Click here for more.

Who controls social networks?: In the world of Facebook, users are either kings or lemmings. That's the conclusion of a new study, the largest to analyse how information spreads across social networks-and who does the spreading. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

Apple misleads over iPad ability: Apple deliberately misled Australian consumers when it claimed its latest iPad was compatible with the high speed 4G broadband network, a judge has found. Click here for more.

Apple iOS6 embeds Facebook: Fresh off a disappointing initial public offering, Facebook is getting a big boost from Apple, which is building the social network deep into its iPhone and iPad software. Click here for more.

School uses iPads, iPods in class: IPads and iPods are being rolled out out at Timaru's Bluestone School as teaching tools and principal Ian Poulter says many other schools are doing the same. Click here for more.

Gadgets deep fried in the name of art: Sizzling smartphones and beer-battered iPads are just some of the digital delicacies on offer in 'Deep Fried Gadgets', a new series of works by artist Henry Hargreaves. Click here for more.

People using iPhones during sex – study: Which would you rather give up for a weekend – sex or your iPhone? 15 percent of respondents to one study said they would choose a romance-free weekend rather than go without their beloved device. Click here for more.

Copyright vs Piracy

Kim Dotcom's Megaupload servers 'too big': The size of Kim Dotcom's Megaupload servers has made disclosing the evidence against him near impossible in the allotted time, New Zealand Crown lawyers have argued. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Cyber-security fundamental for business: The email account of a Nelson nurse had been hacked and all the contacts in her online address book received a message saying she'd been robbed at knifepoint in the Philippines. Click here for more.

LinkedIn passwords hacked: Business social network LinkedIn said it is investigating reports that more than six million passwords have been stolen and leaked on to the internet. Click here for more.

Scam warning after LinkedIn leak: Auckland lawyer Rick Shera, better known to most Kiwis as a frequent commentator on the Megaupload case and other copyright issues, believes he was among an estimated six million people worldwide to have their LinkedIn social networking passwords leaked or hacked. Click here for more.

Hacked companies take controversial steps: Frustrated by their inability to stop sophisticated hacking attacks or use the law to punish their assailants, an increasing number of US companies are taking retaliatory action. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

'Facecrook' site wants arrests, not friends: A US sheriff's office has a new website that's looking for arrests instead of friends. "Facecrook" features the names, photos and last locations of fugitives wanted by the Bergen County Sheriff's Office in New Jersey. 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.

Retailers deny that internet shopping is a threat – yet: Getting up early for a garage sale is one of the great New Zealand Saturday pastimes. But garage sales, second-hand bookshops and even purveyors of new goods have discovered a real rival in internet trading. Click here for more.

Coping with death on the web: Some may regard the idea of messaging condolences to someone electronically as inappropriate but to those growing up on Facebook and MySpace it is becoming second nature. Click here for more.

US arrests internet 'spam king': A man nicknamed the "spam king" for allegedly sending out millions of junk e-mails has been arrested in the US. Click here for more.

Rock star says piracy battle is lost: Major record labels are still fighting the piracy battles of 1997 according to a leading rock musician and digital rights activist. Click here for more.

'World's most hated blogger' hiding out in Australia: A failed real estate speculator who created a popular Web site touting his exploits has begun threatening to sue his critics and claims to be in hiding in Australia. 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 (support@actrix.co.nz) or to the Accounts Department (accounts@actrix.co.nz).

Take care through July!

Rob Zorn


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