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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 January Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for January 2012.

The Informer has come out a little early this month so you can enjoy what we've got for you before signing off for the festive season (in case you haven't already).

This month we look back at 2012 and give you all the lists, stats and numbers you need to remember the year that's been. We also look at some of the best Christmas websites that'll make your Christmas something special.

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is not for the faint-hearted. Great pranks are starting to appear all over YouTube, and this Brazilian effort is certainly one of the best. Unsuspecting people think they're stepping into an elevator, but have their world rocked when strange things start to happen. I won't give anything more away!


Rob Zorn

Looking back at 2012

One of my favourite parts of ending a year and starting a new one is looking back at the year that's been and finding the highlights, the lowlights and everything in between. So here you'll find a list of big moments of 2012, a couple of top ten lists and even a few cases of "what were they thinking?".

So sit back and enjoy the best of 2012.

Top Youtube videos

Every year there seems to be a video or two that takes the world by storm, and in 2012 you certainly can't look past South Korean rapper Psy's Gangnam Style. Psy's infectious music and ridiculous style of dancing rocketed him to international fame and made him a household name. His video also became the most watched video on YouTube ever, and will most certainly be the first video to crack 1 billion views.

Other honourable mentions include Felix Baumgartner's record-breaking space jump, a rap battle between Obama and Romney, 5 people playing the same guitar and one father's unorthodox response to his daughter's abusive Facebook post.

View the top Youtube videos of 2012.


Google Zeitgeist

According to Google, there were more than 1.2 trillion searches in 146 different languages in 2012. That's more than 170 searches per person on the planet.

In 2012 the world was caught up by the deaths of celebrities like Whitney Houston and Michael Clarke Duncan. We also searched for world events like the Royal Wedding and the Olympics.

The top list for 2012 is as follows:

  • Whitney Houston
  • Gangnam Style
  • Hurricane Sandy
  • iPad 3
  • Diablo 3
  • Kate Middleton
  • Olympics 2012
  • Amanda Todd
  • Michael Clarke Duncan
  • BBB12.

Besides the top 10 overall searches, Google's Zeitgeist also lists the most popular images, athletes, events, TV shows, people and more. Some of the interesting highlights include Jeremy Lin as the most popular athlete, The Hunger Games as the most searched-for feature film and the iPad 3 (followed by Samsung Galaxy S III) as the most popular item in the category of consumer electronics.

There's even an option to search by country, so you can select New Zealand from the list and see what your fellow Aotearoians have been searching for.

View Google's Zeitgesit.


Top tech trends of 2012

Every year technology seems to surpass our expectations, and the rate at which new technologies are being developed is moving at a blistering pace. 2012 was the year of the smart phone, and saw Apple and Samsung going head to head to capture that ever-increasing market.

Some of the biggest tech trends of 2012 include:

  • touch-screen computing
  • increased social network integration
  • the increasing popularity of Android
  • voice control.

Read more about the top tech trends.


Facebook trends and chatter

Despite suffering backlash after backlash from the public for its ever-changing privacy settings, Facebook was still the world's social network of choice in 2012. And to sum up how people chose to use the service, Facebook has put together a number of stats and graphs on what we talked about, where we visited, and what we liked.

They've made a list of the top books we talked about, the movies we watched, the places we visited, the events we attended (or wished we could).

The lists do have a distinct American feel to them, but they still offer insights into the year that's been.

View Facebook's lists.


The best/worst typos, mistakes, and corrections of 2012

From presidential campaigns to newspaper classifieds, 2012 has not had a shortage of typos and mistakes, though perhaps the most famous is presidential candidate Mitt Romney misspelling "America". With a budget well into the millions, you'd think the man could afford someone able to spell the name of the country he's wanting to govern.

But the best typo has to be a sentence published in the Los Angeles Times, which read, "Butt cracks eventually appeared in Lamb's public persona". Classic!

View the worst typos and corrections of 2012.


Time's Top 10 everything of 2012

But arguably the best summary of the year that's been is Time magazine's compilation of the best top-ten lists of everything.

Every year they release this massive list of lists, and cover everything from sporting moments, celebrity mishaps, best/worst tweets, best advertisements, most popular music and most watched movies.

View Time's top 10 of everything.

Best Christmas sites 

Last month we featured an article on ways to make your Christmas one to remember. Seeing as this issue of the Informer is coming out a little earlier than normal, and you may be rading this before Christmas, we thought we'd build on that recent article and give you a list of some of the best Christmas themed websites on the internet.

So without further adieu...

Saint Nicholas
www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/home/ – How well do you really know Santa Claus? We're not talking the fat jolly man who lives at the North Pole, rather the original Saint Nicholas after whom Father Christmas was named. This site is dedicated to educating you on who the real man was and what he did to be remembered every Christmas.
North Pole
www.northpole.com – This site has a little something for everyone. The kids can explore Santa's secret village with one of the reindeer and write letters to Santa, the parents can use the recipes to make all sorts of Christmas treats, and teachers can print off calendars and games for their students. Definitely worth checking out.
Santa's net
http://www.santas.net/aroundtheworld.htm – This site gives a little history of Christmas traditions around the world. There's even a section on New Zealand, although the author appears to have done no research about us whatsoever. Apparently, New Zealanders can relate to the Christmas story because we are all shepherds and our country doesn't have a single motel. Um, what?
The Christmas Truce
www.firstworldwar.com/features/christmastruce.htm – On 24 December 1914, the Allied troops and the German soldiers of the First World War found themselves calling for a cease-fire so both sides could celebrate Christmas. Soldiers from either side exchanged gifts with each other and even sang a few songs before rejoining the fight the next day. This site gives a detailed description of what is seen as a shining episode of sanity from among the bloody chapters of World War One.
Ugly Christmas lights
www.uglychristmaslights.com/ – Do you enjoy driving around viewing all the different Christmas decorations on people's lawns? Or do you detest the tackiness of meaningless bulbs strung from roofs and gutters? Either way, you'll enjoy this site, dedicated to the ugliest Christmas lights ever created.
Photographing Christmas lights
http://strobist.blogspot.co.nz/2006/12/how-to-photograph-christmas-lights.html – If you're driving around the neighbourhood this Christmas and you see a light display that just takes your breath away, this blog post will tell you everything you need to know about photographing the lights. Getting a good shot can be trickier than you might think, especially if you're planning to submit it at www.uglychristmaslights.com (see above).

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!

Prank Bot
www.prankbot.com/ – Are you a die-hard prankster who is just too lazy to think of their own materials? This site has the answer for you, my lazy friend: prank from the comfort of your computer chair! Is there someone in your life who deserves to be pranked? Simply choose a prank, enter your details and watch the prank unfold!
Sandals and Socks
www.sandalandsoxer.co.uk/ – Just like tucking your shirt into your underpants or walking around with your tags showing, many people consider wearing socks under sandals to be a fashion faux pas. And if staring at photos of such an abomination is your idea of fun, this site will be right up your alley.
Click and clone
www.learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/tech/cloning/clickandclone/ – This site lets you live out that life-long ambition of being a geneticist by giving you all the tools necessary to clone a mouse. Developed by the University of Utah, your task is to create a genetically identical clone of Mimi, a brown female mouse. What fun!
www.monobrow.com – If you don't have one yourself, chances are you'll know someone who does. This site is dedicated to monobrows. There are games, quizzes, movies and even a "Monobrow of the week" feature. Dont' forget to buy the official monobrow t-shirt too!
Paper crafts
www.yamaha-motor.co.jp/global/entertainment/papercraft/index.html – Yamaha have created a section of their website to teach you origami. Except this isn't your standard origami where you might make a bird or a boat. This is the kind of origami where you make motorcycles and exotic animals from around the world.
Skyhigh Airlines
www.skyhighairlines.com – Skyhigh Airlines is arguably the worst airline in the world. Their planes don't run on time, they treat their passengers like battery hens and the CEO has let his exorbitant salary go directly to his head. As well as flying people, they also ship livestock, so you could find yourself sharing a stall with a cow.
World Rock-Paper-Scissors Society
www.worldrps.com – The World Rock-Paper-Scissors Society was created to serve the needs of rock-paper-scissors players all over the world. The site has tips for rigging games, variations of the rules and even a documentary. You would be wise never to say "It's just a game"!
Pavement Terror
www.backfire.co.uk – This clever chappie used to be a delivery man in England. After figuring out how to backfire his van, he'd pull up beside unsuspecting passengers, backfire his vehicle and photograph their reactions. Some classic photos here, even more impressive considering this was before the time of digital photography.

The Paint Game
www.iamcal.com/games/paintgame – How well do you know your colours? We're not talking about reds, greens and blues... we're talking Russian Velvets, Mexican Mosaic and Martian Skies. Take the quiz to see if you can match the colour name to the right colour. Definitely harder than it sounds.

Atomic Zombie
http://www.atomiczombie.com –Interested in modifying your bike? This site is great for turning a standard bicycle into something quite different. There are instructions for all sorts of modifications that someone with little technical skill would easily be able to master, so check it out and see what you could do to pimp your ride.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Car thieves boast on Facebook: Car thieves boasting the Facebook nicknames "Makeuwalk" and "Jackeduaride" are being sought by police in connection with thefts from Wellington car parks. Click here for more.

driPhone trademark battle rumbles on: Apple has offered the Hamilton inventor behind the waterproof smartphone case called driPhone an undisclosed wad of cash to change the name in New Zealand. Click here for more.

Top Kiwi Google searches: Marmite, Val: From One Direction to the Olympics, Korean pop music to life's big questions, Google's top-trending searches show what was on the minds of Kiwi internet users this year. Click here for more.

Kiwis in $1b Facebook cybercrime bust: Ten people including an unknown number in New Zealand have been arrested over an international cyber crime ring involving US$850 million (NZ$1.01 billion), the US Justice Department and the FBI say. Click here for more.


Google execs face jail over bullying video: An Italy prosecutor has asked an appeals court to uphold jail sentences for three Google executives charged with violating the privacy of an Italian boy with autism by letting a video of him being bullied be posted on the site in 2006. Click here for more.

UN internet talks deeply divided: Talks over possible new UN regulations for the internet are deeply divided, with Russia and others advocating for more government control, while a US-led bloc warned against rules that could restrict freedoms in cyberspace. Click here for more.

Talking tablets: Good, better, best...: As tablets increase in range and fall in price, there's never been a better time to buy. But how to find one that suits your needs? Click here for more.

Outrage predicted over Google tax avoidance: Google avoided about US$2 billion in worldwide income taxes last year by shifting $9.8b in revenues from its non-US subsidiaries into a Bermuda shell company, Bloomberg reported. Click here for more.

TV ads may soon be eyeing you up: Imagine this: You're having an argument with your partner while watching television, and suddenly an advertisement comes on for marriage counselling. Click here for more.

Google to charge for Web-based Apps software: Google will no longer offer its Web-based office productivity software free to small businesses, the Internet company's latest move to expand revenue beyond its core advertising services. Click here for more.

Classic games now an art form: Thirty years ago, they were machines in the corner of the pub. Today they're art. Click here for more.

UN's internet plans exposed: If the 1500 delegates huddled into a Dubai conference centre to thrash out a new global telecommunications treaty didn't know how it felt to be on a reality TV show, they do now. Click here for more.

UN group to pick global emergency number: Negotiators at a conference on UN telecommunications regulations say they've found one bit of common ground – how to call for help. Click here for more.

Making texting while driving 'safe': Helicopters and motorcycles have inspired Australian Army Second Lieutenant James Edge-Williams to come up with a chorded keyboard prototype that may make safe texting while driving a possibility. Click here for more.

Victory for internet openness: The world's major internet companies, backed by US policymakers, got much of what they wanted last week when many nations refused to sign a global telecommunications treaty that opponents feared could lead to greater government control over online content and communications. Click here for more.

Not Lovin' It: McDonald's campaign rebuked: Fast food giant McDonald's has been given a ticking off after launching an email marketing campaign aimed at children. Click here for more.

Social Media

Seinfeld 2.0: what would Jerry do today?: Seinfeld's critics often describe the program as being a waste of time, and finally, here's the proof. Perhaps. Click here for more.

Tweeters 'could be military targets': Social media users whose tweets and online posts comment on a military operation could be regarded as legitimate military targets. Click here for more.

Facebook poised to roll out more privacy controls: Facebook is trying to make its privacy controls easier to find and understand in an effort to turn the world's largest social network in to a more discreet place. Click here for more.

Facebook friends can be trouble: It may be time to start pruning that Facebook friend list if you want to stay out of trouble at work. Click here for more.

Twitter offered Instagram $525m deal: report: Weeks before he accepted a US$1 billion offer from Facebook Inc, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom had verbally agreed to sell his photo-sharing company to Twitter Inc for US$525 million in March – but then called off the deal. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

Apple Australia map glitch: Australian police have warned travellers off using Apple's troubled iPhone mapping software after several motorists became stuck in a snake-infested, desert corner of the country while using their phone for directions. Click here for more.

Father's app tackles cyberbullying: Technological innovation means children are more digitally connected than ever before and, sadly, more exposed to cyberbullying. Click here for more.

Google Maps app released for iPhone: Google has released a new Maps app for Apple iOS, allaying the concerns of many irritated and lost users of Apple's own mapping application. Click here for more.

Copyright vs Piracy

Skynet Law: 15 downloaders on third strike: The first judgments under the controversial 'SkyNet' law that is designed to help stamp out music piracy are edging closer as the wraps come off another service, Pandora, that lets people listen to music legally online. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Privacy fears over apps for kids: The United States Government is investigating whether software companies that make cellphone apps violated the privacy rights of children by quietly collecting personal information from mobile devices and sharing it with advertisers and data brokers, the Federal Trade Commission has said. Click here for more.

Password ban makes sense: Research in Motion, which makes the BlackBerry line of smartphones, has 106 passwords which can't be used to sign into its BlackBerry 10 operating system. Click here for more.

UN internet focus on security, not freedom: The International Telecommunication Union, a special UN organisation that is "committed to connecting all the world's people," just completed 10 days of largely closed-doors meetings in Dubai, where the agenda seemed more aimed at controlling global communications. Click here for more.

Millions have data leaked, stolen worldwide: The number of people who had personal information hacked, leaked or lost jumped by 40 per cent to 160 million this year, according to consulting firm KPMG. Click here for more.

Hollywood hacker jailed for 10 years: A federal judge has sentenced a man who hacked into the personal online accounts of Scarlett Johansson, Mila Kunis and other women to 10 years in prison. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Man mistakes hot iron for phone: A Polish man has gone to extreme lengths to get out of doing the ironing by burning the entire side of his face after mistaking the iron for a telephone. 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.

Ancient computer found on seabed: An astronomical instrument built by the ancient Greeks in the second century BC has turned out to be a complex computer for calculating the relative position of the sun, the moon and the planets. Click here for more.

Spam: now made in China: The politics of unwanted email is changing with China set to overtake the US any day now as the originator of most inbox clutter. Click here for more.

Spam doubles, finding new ways to deliver itself: Hearing from a lot of new friends lately? You know, the ones that write "It's me, Esmeralda," and tip you off to an obscure stock that is "poised to explode" or a great deal on prescription drugs. Click here for more.

Papers battle online news sites: Not since the internet began has there been so much free quality newspaper content on the web. You will have to make the most of it because the current bonanza might not last forever. Click here for more.

Sex.com thief released from prison: In yet another twist in the extraordinary tale of Sex.com, the con-man who stole the world's most valuable domain has been released from jail – in order to locate the millions of dollars he owes the original owner. 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 December, and have a wonderful break!

Rob Zorn


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