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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.

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Actrix – New Zealand's first Internet Service Provider

Welcome to the August Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for August 2012.

This month we talk about Wikipedia, how it works and why it's useful. We also have a response to an email we received from a reader, who wants to know how to manage the emails the different social networks send her.

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is a great example of one of those combination-sports that you wouldn't really believe until you saw it in action. Who would have thought that adding a parachute to a pair of skis would make such an exciting sport? The mounted cameras are great for giving you the feeling you're doing it yourself from the safety of your own computer.

After watching a clip like this, I'm wondering how these crazy people practice their sport. Surely you can't just jump off a cliff and hope to land at the bottom in one piece? Definitely not one to be tried at home!


Rob Zorn


Wonderful Wikipedia

Where would you go if you wanted to find out the average size of an ostrich egg, or how many times Brazil has won the World Cup, or what the pancreas does?

Nowadays, rather than going to the garage and unboxing all 32 dusty volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica, most people turn to Wikipedia, the free internet encyclopaedia.

The name Wikipedia is a portmanteau of wiki (a type of collaborative website, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning "quick") and encyclopaedia. Currently Wikipedia has more than 22 million articles, is available in 285 different languages and is managed by volunteers all over the world. The English version alone has more than 3.9 million articles, a word-length fifteen times that of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and has more than 100,000 regular contributors. Wikipedia is the sixth most popular site on the internet, receiving 2.7 billion monthly page views from the United States alone.

Jimmy Wales, the man credited with founding Wikipedia, said his vision was to create "a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge."

What makes Wikipedia interesting is that it's open sourced, which is why some people are not such big fans of the site. Being open sourced means anyone can contribute to it, anyone can create a new page and anyone can edit it. And Wikipedia haters say this is where the site loses its credibility. If anyone can edit and change information, there's no guarantee that anything on the site is factually accurate at any given time.

This is a fair point. I had a friend who was arguing with his wife about the recipe for authentic guacamole. He was adamant it had lemon juice in it, but she argued it didn't. He looked it up on the internet and discovered he was wrong, but rather than admitting that to his wife, he edited the Wikipedia page for guacamole to say lemon juice was an essential ingredient. She still thinks she lost.

What my friend committed is known as Wikipedia vandalism, and it happens a lot. Generally there are no restrictions on editing pages. Some pages are protected and can only be edited by members, but the vast majority are sitting there unprotected.

However, the majority of pages are closely monitored, and studies have shown Wikipedia vandalism is not long lasting, and in most instances, is fixed within a few hours. My friend in the guacamole argument checked the next day to undo his crime, but found someone had already deleted his edit.

Furthermore, in 2005 Nature magazine ran an investigation to compare Wikipedia with the online Encyclopaedia Britannica. The results showed that Wikipedia came very close to the same level of accuracy as the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and that they both shared a similar rate of errors.

Other critics of the site have questioned the quality of the writing. They argue that everyone who writes on a subject must have an opinion or bias which will affect the information they include on the page. Furthermore, people will write about what they know, so subjects related to popular culture will receive far more attention than lesser known subjects.

While many see this as a shortfall, others consider this the beauty of Wikipedia. Wikipedia's purpose is not to be just another encyclopaedia, but rather to reflect the general knowledge of internet users at the time. So while hundreds of people may have edited Lady Gaga's or Johnny Depp's Wikipedia page and included their own opinions and biases in doing so, the fact so many people from different walks of life are involved means it all gets balanced out. All the different opinions are represented, and the end result is one that reflects them all.

Interesting pages

Along with all the pages you'd expect to be included on Wikipedia, there are some pages that'll have you scratching your head, wondering why anyone would ever put any time into writing such a ridiculously irrelevant article or list.

These include pages dedicated to:

View this article on its own...

Stopping LinkedIn and other social media emails 

Most forms of social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc.) are extremely popular. You'd be hard pressed to find someone in New Zealand who hasn't used a form of social media. Apart from your grandmother of course.

While most would agree that social media is great for socialising, organising, marketing and wasting time, it can all get a little overwhelming at times, especially when your inbox is receiving a gazillion emails a day from each of your social media accounts.

One reader wrote to us last month and told us about a problem she was having where, every day, she was receiving emails from the social network. After putting LinkedIn on her Block Sender list, the emails started piling up in her Junk mailbox. She asked us if there was a better way to block these emails.

LinkedIn is a social networking site designed to help improve your business contacts. You can lists details about yourself and your expertise and it functions as a sort of directory. However, when you join, LinkedIn asks for your email programme's address book and then emails all your contacts inviting them to join. This is why so many receive LinkedIn invitations, even though they have no desire to open a LinkedIn account. Unfortunately, you're a little powerless to do anything about this, other than contacting LinkedIn and telling them you're really annoyed that they do this. You can do that at, but you have to put something in the search field before they'll let you use their Contact Us page.

If enough people complain, LinkedIn may change their practice, and stop sending out unsolicited invitations.  However, I wouldn't hold my breath as doing this is probably one of their more prominent growth strategies.

But here's the hook. You can block emails from LinkedIn (under your account settings) if you become a member. This sort of amounts to annoying you to the point where you get so annoyed you join to stop them annoying you. This may also be something you choose to complain to them about.

The key isn't to blocking these emails, rather it's stopping them from being sent. This is easy to do, but can be hard to figure out, so here's how to stop social networks bombarding your inbox with unnecessary emails.

Once you've opened an account, editing your notification settings in LinkedIn is easy. Here are the steps:

  1. Sign in to your account.
  2. Hover the mouse over your name in the top right-hand corner, and click SETTINGS.

From here you can select the types of messages you want to receive, and their frequency, as well as who can send you emails.

On the panel on the right, you can turn on/off LinkedIn announcements and invitations.

Here are some ways to stop unwanted emails from other social media services.


By default, Facebook will send you an email for just about anything. If your friend's mother's cat has a birthday, you'll receive an email letting you know. If your little sister's boyfriend adds you as a friend, you'll get an email. And it all gets a little much after a while.

To change your account settings in Facebook so you won't receive so many emails, sign in to your account, and click the arrow at the top right of the page next to the account button. On the list that appears, click Account Settings, and on the new page that appears, select Notifications from the menu on the left.

On this page you'll see a list of different categories that Facebook will send you emails for. To the right of each category is a link named "edit". Click the "edit" link and you'll see a list of check boxes for more specific notifications.

All you have to do is go through each list and uncheck the things you don't want to receive an email for. If you don't want to receive any emails from Facebook, uncheck every box, and don't forget to click "save changes" in every list.


Twitter is also just as easy:

  1. sign in to your account
  2. click your profile button on the top right-hand corner and select SETTINGS
  3. from the menu on the left, click EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS

From here you can select which messages you'd like to receive. Unticking all the boxes will mean no emails will be sent to your account.


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!

Star Wars weather – Some Star Wars fan with too much spare time has put together this site which takes the weather forecast from any city in the world and tells you which planet or city from Star Wars it most closely resembles. Apparently the average Wellington day in winter is not to different from the weather on the planet Endor: temperate, but grey and cloudy.
Animal sounds in different languages – Different languages use different words and sounds to describe the noises animals make. For example, in English we make a "buzz" sound to describe a bumblebee, but in Japan they make a noise that sounds like "boon boon". Who'd have thought there would be such different ways languages mimic these noises.
Mr Top 10 – Mr Top 10 is an expansive collection of Top 10 lists. It's great if you're after a random list, like the top 10 amazing swimming pools or worst hockey players or dangerous South African snakes. If you're after something a little more specific, there's the top ten ways to treat fungal infections, the top 10 wonderful and weird scientific breakthroughs of 2011 or the top 10 most expensive teas.
The periodic table of videos – Tables charting the chemical elements have been around since the 19th century, but this modern version is a little different in that it has a short video about each one. All 118 elements of the periodic table have a short video which tells you a little more about that element, and includes stories, examples and experiments.
Big red button – Take this warning seriously! Do not push the big red button! It starts off simple... there's one button and you push it. Then another button, so you push that too. Then another and another, and before you know it you've spent the last half hour pushing red buttons. And they get harder to push too. So don't push the red button!
Headless historicals – Headless historicals are dolls inspired by people throughout history who died in rather horrible ways. Each doll is dressed according to how they might have appeared during the peak of their success, while their bodies display the manner in which they died. So if you're ever stuck for a gift idea, why not pick up a charred Joan of Arc or a headless Marie Antoinette.
100 greatest books for kids – Running out of material to read the kids? Fret no longer! This site has listed the top 100 books to read your kids. Each book gets a wee synopsis as well as an age recommendation and a list of awards the book has won, so all you need is a library card. The site even has a checklist for you to download so you can map your progress as you traverse this collection.
Weird converter – Ever wondered how many coke cans you'd need to match the weight of a blue whale? Or how many small intestines you'd need to cover the length of a football field? This site is like a currency converter, but for completely unrelated items. Hours of educational fun to be had here folks!
This is how to do stuff – This site takes some of the more important questions people have been asking, such as how to make a million dollars or walk on water, and offers some rather simple answers that'll have you kicking yourself for not having thought of them. They might not be the answers you were hoping for, however.

The world's best, according to Google – Ever wondered what the best food in the world is? Or the best movie? What about the best animal or country? Wonder no longer. Some genius has taken all those questions, typed them in to Google, and given us the first result that's appeared. Again, they're usually not the answers you'd expect.


Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

PlayStation rage killing and maiming children: Young men are getting so caught up in gaming consoles they are lashing out at children, sometimes with deadly consequences. Click here for more.

Are video games really to blame here?: I'm a parent and a longtime gamer, with two teenage children (18 and 13), and I have never, ever lashed out at them if they interrupted me playing a video game. Ever. It's just not an acceptable thing to do. Click here for more.

Kim Dotcom joins TVNZ7 funeral: Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom joined a mock-funeral procession to protest the demise of TVNZ7 and speak out about the extradition case against him. Click here for more.

Football fascinates Kiwis in June: While New Zealanders took to Google last month to find out more about the Euro 2012 football tournament, we were also intrigued by Miley Cyrus. Click here for more.

'Sexting' growing issue for Kiwi teens: An increasing number of New Zealand teenagers are seeking help when relationship breakups lead to "sexting" material going viral. Click here for more.

Broadband no saviour of broadcasting: So TVNZ 7 is dead. Long live public broadcasting. It was evident more than a year ago, when the Government said it would not continue the funding for TVNZ 7, that the channel could not be revived. Click here for more.

Buying online is coming into fashion for retailers: Going to a store for a fashion fix is so 2011 – high street retailers Hallensteins and Glassons are now selling their clothes on auction website Trade Me. Click here for more.

Kiwis still facing web blackout: As many as six hundred and fifty New Zealand homes and businesses could lose access to the internet at 4pm on Monday, InternetNZ has warned. Click here for more.

Paper reveals Govt copyright advice: Government officials appear keen to liberalise copyright laws according to a briefing given to Communications Minister Amy Adams, which was released under the Official Information Act after an appeal by her Labour counterpart, Clare Curran. Click here for more.

New Zealand a better place thanks to the internet – report: Thinking of turning back time and getting rid of the internet? It is probably not a good idea, according to two reports commissioned by InternetNZ. Click here for more.

Wellington WiFi service to get upgrade: Citylink, the company that runs Wellington's free council-backed Wi-Fi service, cbdfree, hopes to entice more paying customers on to its overlapping paid WiFi network by making it faster, "less clunky" and more convenient. Click here for more.


Software to help fight human trafficking: Jade Software's crime-fighting division, Wynyard Group, has donated software to an organisation probing human trafficking. Click here for more.

Google brings 3D Lego world to Chrome: Marking the 50th anniversary of the Lego brick in Australia, Google Chrome and Lego have teamed up to create Build – a program that lets you build 3D Lego creations and place them on a map. Click here for more.

Google picks US over China: When Google decided to build its Nexus Q home entertainment device in Silicon Valley rather than in China, it was not fretting about the bottom line. It was fretting about speed. Click here for more.

Leap second causes glitches for major sites: After an extra second was added to the clock at the weekend to better align it with the Earth's rotation schedule, a whole slew of websites from LinkedIn, Foursquare and Reddit to Mozilla, Yelp and Gawker sites experienced technical issues. Click here for more.

Has Apple hit a Glass ceiling?: Five years ago, after waiting in line at the Apple Store for much of the day, I finally got my hands on the first iPhone. I rushed home, plugged it into iTunes, signed my life away to Apple, and activated service with AT&T. As I swiped and multi-touched over the next few hours, I felt the modern world come into focus. Click here for more.

There will never be a used digital market: As much of North America swelters in record-setting temperatures this week, Europe has coolly delivered a legal ruling likely to create additional headaches for the sun-drenched continent. Click here for more.

Official information changes for digital age: Sweeping changes to the acts that cover the release of Government information may include making information easily available on websites. Click here for more.

Consumers crack the QR code: If you are a follower of fashion you'll know those strange looking black squares with Escher-like patterns can take a smartphone user to a website or to YouTube just by snapping their picture. Click here for more.

Social Media

Embarrassing status updates exposed: A new website created by a British teenager highlights the dangers of revealing private information on social networking services. Click here for more.

Comedian backs bomb joke tweet: Comedian Stephen Fry has attended a court hearing to support a British man appealing his conviction over a tweet saying he would blow a snowed-in airport "sky high". Click here for more.

Twitter shares info on government demands: Twitter will provide biannual reports about US and foreign government demands for information about its users, just as Google has been doing for the past two years. Click here for more.

Finals football spurs Twitter record: Twitter says its users fired off more than 15,000 tweets per second when Spain scored its fourth goal in the European Championship final, setting a sports-related record on the social networking site. Click here for more.

Are tailored trends ruining twitter? : It's been almost a month since Twitter unveiled Tailored Trends, a recalibration of the old Twitter trends algorithm designed to "tailor Trends based on your location and who you follow on Twitter". Click here for more.

Facebook, Yahoo tie up, settle lawsuits: Facebook and Yahoo have struck a broad advertising partnership as part of a final settlement of duelling patent lawsuits, technology blog AllThingsDigital cited sources close to the pact as saying on Friday. Click here for more.

Steve Jobs tapped France for pre-internet ideas: The man who turned Apple into a web-connected empire of consumer gadgets drew some of his inspiration from a table-top box that wired French households to networked information way before the arrival of mass Internet, a French telecoms engineer says. Click here for more.

Facebook weapons page shut down: Members of a Melbourne-based Facebook group selling and trading deadly weapons have panicked this morning after The Age revealed its existence to police. Click here for more.

Twitter user quits over Wimbledon ridicule: Ignorance is bliss, as the saying goes... but perhaps not on Twitter. A 21-year-old Englishwoman was the butt of jokes on the social networking site after she tweeted on Sunday: "Is Wimbledon always held in London?" Click here for more.

New Zealand's burgeoning social media industry: Social media is exploding and smart young Waikato companies are cashing in on the burgeoning industry of building marketing strategies for social media platforms. Click here for more.

Social media fuels low self-esteem, anxiety: Social media may do more harm than good when it comes to personal wellbeing, a small study from the University of Salford in the UK indicates. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

Switch off your lights by smart phone: If you tried to future-proof your house 10 years ago with all the smart-house technology available, you might be "sitting on a dinosaur". Click here for more.

Saving money via phone apps: Buried in debt? Struggling to stick to a budget? On the hunt for the best deal? Cue the infuriating catchcry of the smartphone-obsessed: "There's an app for that!" Click here for more.

An app a day may keep the doctors away: The exploding popularity of health and medical apps is ushering a new wave of sometimes unwelcome visitors into the doctor's surgery. Smartphones and tablets (the screen kind, not the pill kind) have become mobile diagnostic devices. Click here for more.

Copyright vs Piracy

Judge refuses to throw out Dotcom case: The raid on internet mogul Kim Dotcom's multimillion dollar mansion might have been legally invalid but he still is vulnerable to charges after a US judge rejected a request to throw out the case. Click here for more.

EU drafts bill to speed up music copyright pay: The European Union has drafted a new bill to combat music piracy and strengthen copyright protection which would force companies that manage music rights to pay artists their royalties more speedily. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Cyber specialist 'teaches good guys bad tricks': Chief executives are increasingly interested in training up for the fight against cyber criminals, hackers and disgruntled IT workers, a Wellington cyber-crime specialist says. Click here for more.

Al-Jazeera show's Twitter account hacked: The Twitter account of Al-Jazeera's English-language social media show has been hacked by supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Click here for more.

Internet Doomsday: Virus could lurk in your computer: Internet users scanning their Twitter feeds or Facebook accounts today might want to add one more quick click to check their computer for malware. Click here for more.

Privacy risk from ads in apps rising: Some advertising networks have been secretly collecting app users personal details over the past year and now have access to millions of smartphones globally, US-based mobile security firm Lookout said. Click here for more.

London ready to fight off Olympic hackers: Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, the fastest men in the world, storm over the line together in the 100-metres final of the London Olympics – a photo finish. As they eagerly look up for the result, a political message from a rogue hacking group fills the screen as the world looks on in disbelief. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Filmmaker chats with past self: A video created by a US filmmaker that shows him talking to a younger version of himself thanks to creative editing is making its way across the Internet. Click here for more.

Dog-fight over Pomeranian Sammy's site: A war of websites featuring a cute Pomeranian pooch named Sammy has become a bone of contention between his owners that has resulted in a US$500,000 lawsuit. 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.

Are gadgets, and the Internet, actually addictive?: When the users of BlackBerries could not send or receive e-mails for 11 hours in April because of a glitch in the system, hospital administrator Paul Levy pronounced it a "national disaster" because of all the BlackBerry "addicts" forced into withdrawal. Click here for more.

Google cookies will 'auto delete': Google has said that its cookies, tiny files stored on a computer when a user visits a website, will auto delete after two years. Click here for more.

Fast food brands hit kids online : Fast food brands are getting around laws banning the promotion of unhealthy snacks online, research suggests. Click here for more.

Internet blamed for Shanghai teen pregnancies: Nearly half of the pregnant teens in China's financial hub, Shanghai, met their partners on the Internet, according to China's state media. Click here for more.

Cyberspace: it's the new toilet wall: The internet has given people the anonymity to say what they like – as rudely as they like, writes Andrew Stevenson. 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 August!

Rob Zorn 


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