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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 February Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for February 2013.

Hopefully you're back into the swing of things after a well-earned break over Christmas and the New Year.

This month we look at what's happened in New Zealand since the Skynet law passed in 2011, and we answer a few questions from some of our readers about Skype and e-cards.

We also feature an article about some rather dumb criminals who got themselves caught through Facebook.

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is a collection of some of the funniest parts from the BBC's Walk on the Wildside series, which sees up-and-coming comedy writers provide voice and narration for wildlife footage... definitely something the kids will enjoy (kids especially like flatulent gorillas)!


Rob Zorn

Skynet piracy law

The first prosecution under the new copyright laws with regards illegal downloading of music/films on the internet is about to start in Christchurch.

For those that don't remember, the Skynet law allows copyright holders to communicate with internet service providers (ISPs) in New Zealand and request information regarding their customers who have illegally downloaded content from the Internet.

Under the law, ISPs are required to issue a warning notice to the copyright infringer. Once three of these notices have been issued to the same person, that person can be called to appear before court tribunal, where damages up to the amount of $15,000 can be awarded. Since the passing of the Skynet law, ISPs have issues thousands of these notices to copyright infringers.

However, Actrix is delighted to confirm that we have not been asked to serve a single notice to any of our customers.

In one case, The Recording Industry Association (RIANZ) sought about $2700 from a Wellington student whose internet account was allegedly used without her knowledge to download five songs worth $11.75. That case had also appeared destined for a formal hearing.

RIANZ estimated each song might have been uploaded 90 times by other Internet users after they were illegally downloaded to the woman's computer, resulting in $1075 in damages, and asked for an additional $1250 "deterrent" plus the reimbursement of fees.

However, copyright experts say the ability of RIANZto claim for unproven losses that could have resulted from the uploading of pirated songs has yet to be tested. The Justice Ministry has said that is one of the matters that will have to be decided by the tribunal.

Law firm Baldwins said last month that it had acted for the Wellington student and another alleged pirate against which RIANZ had sought an award of $4675 for illegally sharing 11 songs. Both those cases appear to have been dropped because of technicalities.

Read more about Skynet and the upcoming cases.

Customer questions 

We regularly get questions sent to us from readers wanting to know more about aspects of the Internet. Over the holiday break we received a few from different readers, and we've included them here with our answers.

If there's ever a question you can't find an answer to, send an email to editor@actrix.co.nz and we'll see what we can do.

Is using Skype a big drain on our datacap?

Judging by our research, this is a popular question, but there's no simple answer. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the amount of data your skyping uses, such as the quality of the bandwidth available to both you and the person you call, the network conditions in between and the technology your computer uses.

However, the beauty of Skype is that it automatically selects the best settings depending on these factors (and others) to ensure you get that fine line between best quality and high data usage.

According to Skype's website, the average Skype call uses around 3MB for one minute of calling. Click here for a more detailed breakdown of Skype calls and data usage.

Another issue or question we ran into while researching this question was the common misunderstanding of Skype being free. To clarify, when Skype says its software is free, they mean you can download the software at no cost, but depending on how you intend to use it, you may have to part with some money.

Currently, the feature which allows you to make video calls from one computer or mobile to another is free, and you are able to use it as much as you like without paying. However, it does not mean that heavy usage won't eat into your allocated Internet data allowed by your ISP.

There are also some Skype features that will cost you money, such as calling landlines from your computer.

Are E-cards safe?

E-cards (electronic cards) are similar to standard greetings cards, except you send them over email. There are a number of sites that offer these for free, but the technology has come into a bit of disrepute regarding how safe sending and opening e-cards can be.

The main way an e-card could be of danger to you or your computer is if spyware, spam or a virus is hidden in the card. Opening such a card could result in your computer displaying obscene images, barraging you with pop-up ads, launching adult websites, or sending bogus e-cards to those in your address book that appear to come from you.

As scary as that sounds, there is no reason to believe that sending an e-card to a friend from a legitimate website will result in them receiving a virus. There are many safe places online from which so send e-cards, including 123Greetings, egreetings, SomeEcards and American Greetings.

However, if you do receive an e-card and you're not sure if it's safe to open, here are a few clues for spotting one that's bogus:

  • spelling mistakes, such as "congratulation!" or your name misspelled
  • errors in the message, such as it saying you sent a card, not that you received one
  • the sender isn't someone you know
  • the sender has an odd name (Joe Cool, Agatha Tragonawar, Card Sender, Secret Admirer, etc).

So if you're sending an e-card, make sure it's from a reputable website and read any fine print they might throw at you.

If you receive an e-card, make sure it's from someone you know. After all, why would someone you didn't know be sending you a card?

And if in doubt, throw it out.

Eight dumb criminals caught through Facebook

Originally published on Mashable.com.

1. "Running from the cops lol – near Terre Haute"

Chris Crego of Lockport, New York, was arrested for assault in 2009 after a bar fight. When he didn't show up for sentencing, police issued a warrant for his arrest – turns out, though, he'd already fled the state.

It didn't matter. A quick Google search was all it took. Lockport police easily tracked down via both Crego's Facebook and MySpace accounts, where Crego had updated his current location to Terre Haute, Indiana, his place of employment and – here's the kicker – even his work hours. He had also posted his wanted picture from a newspaper back in Lockport.

2. The classic "siphon gas from a cop car and share it on Facebook" manoeuvre

Twenty-year-old Michael Baker, from Jenkins, Kentucky, was jailed after he posted a photo of himself on Facebook siphoning gas from a local police vehicle.

The photo shows Jenkins flipping the bird while swiping fuel from a Jenkins Police Department squad car. The photo circulated through the town of 2000, and before long, Jenkins was charged with theft for unlawful tanking and spent the night in the slammer.

The incident didn't seem to embarrass him or deter his Facebook habit. After he was released, he posted this on his Facebook page: "yea lol i went too [sic] jail."

3. #boobytrap

Two men were arrested in April 2012 for planting deadly, medieval-like booby traps along a popular hiking trail near Provo, Utah.

Benjamin Rutkowski, 19, and Kai Christensen, 21, were tipped off to police after they chatted to each other about the traps through – what else? – Facebook. The men claimed they had set up the traps to kill animals, not people, but the police weren't buying it.

One of the traps in particular was designed to swing a grapefruit-sized rock, armed with wooden spikes, at whoever set it off.

4. Always log out

A woman in Martinsburg, West Virginia, came home to discover two diamond rings missing. She also noticed that someone had logged into Facebook on her computer – and had forgotten to log out.

The burglar, 19-year-old Jonathan Parker, was easily tracked down and the stolen jewellery was returned.

5. Glamour mug shot

Nineteen-year-old Rodney Knight Jr, of Washington, DC, broke into Washington Post reporter Marc Fisher's home in January 2011. After nabbing a coat, petty cash and a laptop, Knight logged into Fisher's son's Facebook account and posted a photo of himself with the soon-to-be-stolen goods.

Knight's freebie mug shot led to his arrest a few days later. He pleaded guilty to both burglary and carrying a pistol without a license.

DC police officer Kyle Roe dubbed Knight the "most stupid criminal" he had ever encountered.

6. Beach blues

Maxi Sopo was just excited about his vacation to Cancun. Granted, it was more of an "escape from the law" than a vacation – the 26-year-old had just defrauded a handful of Seattle banks out of $200,000, after all. But it didn't mean he shouldn't document his time on the beach for all his friends back home to see, right?

In the midst of all the excitement, Sopo made the rookie mistake of adding a former Justice Department official to his list of friends on Facebook. The result? Less beach bars, more iron bars.

Sopo's constant updates made it easy for police to find him. He pleaded guilty to four counts of bank fraud and was sentenced to 33 months in prison.

7. Be careful who you "Like"

A registered sex offender was arrested in Bluefield, Virginia, early last year after an unfortunate "liking" incident gave away his location.

Dyllan Naecher, 29, fled to Virginia after he became wanted in the state of Maryland. In an attempt to keep a close eye on the local police force, Naecher's girlfriend, 22-year-old Samantha Dillow, "liked" the Tazewell Police Department's Facebook page. The "like" gave police direct access to her account, which conveniently included a picture of Naecher. After a bit more digging, Tazewell officers found the pair's address and arrested both the next day.

8. Catch me if you can

Convicted thief James Tindell, of Oregon, was tired of the court-ordered drug treatment he had accepted to avoid prison. So naturally, he packed up his bags and left the state – but not without a little virtual taunting.

Tindell, apparently eager to boast about his escape from Oregon, updated his Facebook profile almost constantly as he drove across the country. He directed many of the sneery posts toward his probation officer – "Fresh out of another state," he wrote in one. "Catch me if you can." In another, he avoided all discretion entirely: "I'm in Alabama."

As luck would have it, Tindell was pulled over for speeding soon after. The officer ran his license and immediately found the warrant that had been issued for his arrest.

Tindell was ordered to reimburse the state $2600 for his flight back to Oregon and was sent to prison for 30 months.

We're sure no New Zealanders are this dumb...


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!

The Inky Fool
http://blog.inkyfool.com/ – Most people use words everyday, but how much do we really know about the words we speak? This blog explores all the hidden meanings of common words and phrases, explores their origins, and even re-introduces great words that seem to have fallen out of the English language.
Art of the Stars
www.nakshart.com – Art of the Stars uses your IP address to draw a picture of the Star constellation directly above you at any given time. No matter where you are in the world or at what time you check the site, you'll be able to tell exactly where you are under the night sky.
Lost Worlds Fairs: Atlantis
http://lostworldsfairs.com/atlantis/ – Ever wanted to explore the lost city of Atlantis? Well now's your chance! This interactive site takes you on the journey 20,000 leagues under the sea to the great city, and on the way you're offered a humorous history lesson on why the city was built and what happened to it to make it disappear.
www.wonderhowto.com/ – Ever wondered how to flirt like a pro? How to cut a beer bottle in half? How to steal a Guinness world record? How to turn your car into an armoured tank. How to levitate a Zippo flame. How to detect nukes. WonderHowTo.com is a delicious buffet of engineering, ingenuity, and curiosity with an addiction factor of 10/10.
www.zergnet.com/ – This enthusiasts' site is dedicated largely to science fiction and fantasy fans, but has tremendous appeal for people of all tastes. The Top 10 Life-Changing Movies, the Best Movies that Could Become Real, the Top Freak-Out Gamers of All Time: you're bound to find these news pieces and behind-the-scenes stories interesting.
www.2leep.com – 2Leep stands out because it is a hub of thousands of fascinating blogs and photo collections from around the world. See videos of trucks being lifted by the wind. See bizarre furniture and pet hairdos. See Bob Dullam's homemade batmobile. See the worst celebrity twins of all time. The content is so dynamic at 2Leep, you'll want to visit twice a day to see the updates.
Urlesque's top 100 Internet videos
www.urlesque.com – This site assembles hundreds of bizarre links into one site for convenient browsing. What makes Urlesque special is the editorial efforts behind the scenes: these folks sift through piles of drivel to choose only those links that really have maximum universal appeal. See the most iconic Internet videos of all time, skydiving in a kayak, porta-potty pranks, people who live in grass houses, homemade hovercrafts, bar mitzvah rap music, the entire office lip-synching to Harvey Danger, and the now-famous Roomba-riding cat.
Cute Overload
http://cuteoverload.com – Cuteoverload.com is a photo blog of user-submitted pet photos and videos. The objective is to showcase the adorable and endearing qualities of our four-legged and avian family members. Whether you're a softy at heart, or a macho tough guy, you're guaranteed to get your daily dose of "awwwwwwww" at this addictive photo website.

There, I fixed it
http://failblog.cheezburger.com/thereifixedit – See some outlandish examples of how to fix automobile steering, toilet problems, and home renovations. These are not Photoshopped images... every submission here is a candid photo of real-life DIY nightmares. This safe-for-work site is guaranteed for good chuckles, and you could probably show this to your boss and have him laugh with you too.

http://despair.com/ – Here is sarcasm and cynicism, made beautiful. As an antithesis to motivational posters, Despair.com takes inspirational photography and captions it with negative and cynical slogans. The effect is splendid, and is guaranteed laughter in offices everywhere.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Global blockbuster for Kiwi developer: It had been a difficult day for Alyssa. She was deep under the surface of the earth, alone, with only a few oranges to eat and no idea where she was. Click here for more.

Wheedle says it will relaunch soon: Trade Me rival Wheedle will relaunch "within weeks" with a redesigned and better website, says managing director Carl Rees. Click here for more.

Google captures snapshot of city's recovery: Google Maps has updated its aerial photography of Christchurch, capturing a snapshot of the city's recovery. Click here for more.

Watch out for scams warns Trade Me: Trade Me bosses are warning users to be vigilant about online scammers after people using New Zealand's biggest online market were targeted. Click here for more.

Kiwi phone hacking fears played down: Fears that Kiwi smartphones could be hacked are purely theoretical, a New Zealand telecommunications expert says. Click here for more.


Under the hood of tech reviews: Technology reviewer for Consumer NZ, Hadyn Green says the question he's most often asked is "how much does Apple pay you?" Click here for more.

Samsung sells 100 million Galaxy S series: Samsung says global sales of its Galaxy S smartphones have surpassed 100 million units since the first model in the series was released less than three years ago. Click here for more.

'Smart' appliances are stupid: Smart appliances get no love. Every year at the Consumer Electronics Show, the world's gadget makers unveil a slate of refrigerators, ovens, and washer-dryers that they insist have been infused with superior intelligence. Click here for more.

A console classic in your pocket: With 2012 marking the first drop in global sales in more than a decade, Christmas provided a much needed sales boost for games, consoles and PCs. Click here for more.

Doors closing for tax dodge schemes: Tax loopholes used by multinationals to avoid paying billions of corporation tax could be closed within two years, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's top tax official told BusinessDay. Click here for more.

Skype founder browses globe for next tech earner: Niklas Zennstrom, co-founder of internet phone service Skype, believes the next hot tech business will just as likely spring from Istanbul or Sao Paolo as from Silicon Valley or the coolest districts of London. Click here for more.

Christian site takes aim at porn industry: The founders of the world's "#1 Christian Porn Site" xxxchurch.com are looking to establish a New Zealand branch to take their message of love to adult entertainment expos. Click here for more.

Are e-visits as good as office appointments?: E-visits to the doctor? According to a US study, they may be just as effective as in-person office visits for uncomplicated ailments such as sinus infections and urinary tract infections – and much cheaper. Click here for more.

Playboy fined over easy-access websites: Britain's media watchdog has fined Playboy 100,000 (NZ$191,000) for failing to protect children from accessing two of its UK-based pornographic websites. Click here for more.

Take care, downloading's child's play: Adults making online purchases using a smartphone is one thing. A child accidentally spending your hard-earned cash on an electronic game is quite another. Click here for more.

How Google became a great place to work: A few years ago, Google's human resources department noticed a problem: A lot of women were leaving the company. Click here for more.

Governments fishing for more user data: Google is being pulled into an increasing number of police and government investigations around the world as authorities seek to learn more about the people who use its internet search engine, email and other services. Click here for more.

'Safe sexting' apps criticised: Teenagers are "sexting" using apps they think will protect their pictures, but which experts have warned are riddled with security flaws. Click here for more.

Assange savages WikiLeaks film: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange says a film about his whistle-blowing website is propaganda designed to fan the flames of a war against Iran. Click here for more.

Social Media

Zuckerberg promises surprises: Are you ready for the Facebook smartphone? You are? Sorry, you might be disappointed. It might not be on the way. Then again, it might be. Confused? Click here for more.

Family reunion thanks to Facebook: An man has been reunited with his sister 65 years after the siblings were separated in foster care thanks to a 7-year-old friend who searched Facebook. Click here for more.

$100 charge to message Mark Zuckerberg: Would you pay US$100 (NZ$120) to message Mark Zuckerberg? Facebook says it's testing some "extreme price points" to let users pay to have their messages seen by people who are not their friends. Click here for more.

Melbourne to Twitter: Screw Sydney: Twitter executives have been urged to "screw Sydney" and set up shop in Victoria as Melburnians urge the social media giant to ditch the harbour city and head south. Click here for more.

Social networking sites to suit all Kiwis: Research by Nielsen suggests 80 per cent of online Kiwis visit Facebook each month, while Twitter is the third most popular social media site in the country, with 431,000 people visiting it in October. Click here for more.

Music meets social at the new MySpace : The new MySpace is pretty. It incorporates many of the trends in modern web design and social media – big visuals, responsive design, easy discovery – and gives them a clear focus: connecting through music. And it really works. Click here for more.

Bieber tops Lady Gaga to rule Twitter: Teen heartthrob Justin Bieber with his hordes of fans known of Beliebers has become the King of Twitter, topping fellow pop star Lady Gaga as the user with the most followers. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

Apple any day still seems like good advice: It is possible to explain how the cultural, commercial and corporate juggernaut known as Apple became so uncool so quickly. It is much harder to understand why. Click here for more.

Smartphone skin cancer apps raise concerns: Smartphone apps designed to detect skin cancer have been shown to be unreliable and could fool people into thinking a cancerous mole is benign, says new research published today. Click here for more.

Google pulls 'Make Me Asian' app: Make Me Asian, an app that allowed users to slant their eyes and don a rice paddy hat, received much backlash over its stereotypical depictions. Click here for more.

Copyright vs Piracy

Hobbit already snared by pirates: The instalment of Sir Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy has already fallen victim to video pirates. Click here for more.

Fears Megabox will eat other site's revenue: Kim Dotcom says his new Megabox music service won't be ready for six months, delaying what critics fear could become a fresh legal stoush. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Super-cyber security NZ-UK alliance: Britain and New Zealand are creating an alliance to defend the internet and cyberspace, the two countries foreign ministers announced in Auckland today. Click here for more.

Homeland Security says Java still poses risk: The US Department of Homeland Security reiterated advice for computer users to disable Oracle's widely used Java software for surfing the web, saying it still poses risks to users after the company released an emergency update over the weekend. Click here for more.

Warning after theatre site hack: International hackers have increasingly begun targeting New Zealand business websites, with even the Auckland Theatre Company subject to virtual hostage-taking. Click here for more.

Activists hack Mexican army website: The hacker movement known as "Anonymous Mexico" has posted a statement condemning "the bad government" on the press section of Mexico's Defense Department website. Click here for more.

North Korea behind cyberattack on newspaper: South Korea says that the North was behind a cyberattack last year against a conservative Seoul newspaper critical of Pyongyang. Click here for more.

'Crapware' won't crap out: Crapware is the annoying software that worms into your computer without your knowledge. You can get it when you buy your PC – software companies pay PC makers to install the stuff on new machines – or when you download some ostensibly useful program from the Web. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Obama dashes Death Star dreams: The Obama administration dashed the hopes of Star Wars geeks across the galaxy by rejecting an official petition calling for the US government to build a Death Star, the fictional planet-destroying space station featured in the Star Wars movies. Click here for more.

Death Star strikes back after Obama snub: Having refused to build a moon-sized battle station in space – and worse, invoking the power of the Force without so much as a nod to the Dark Side – the Obama administration should have expected some mockery at the hands of the Galactic Empire. Click here for more.

Infamy for stolen iPhone photo couple: A simple photo of an unwitting couple has catapulted them to almost overnight infamy. Click here for more.

Every inch counts: Subway fails to measure up: When it comes to Subway, size matters, as the restaurant chain discovered when Australian Matt Corby hit its Facebook page seeking to find out why his sandwich didn't measure up. 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.

Net users wake up to price of indiscretion: New Zealanders are employing "reputation protection" companies to eliminate inappropriate content about them on internet sites such as Facebook, fearing it could damage their employment or dating prospects. Click here for more.

Internet pushes NZ's boundaries in 2007: The internet can be used for a lot of things, from harmless messages to friends and sharing of photos to the more harmful – hurting others, and even ourselves. Click here for more.

Google puts New Zealand on the World Wide Maps: Internet giant Google is filming streets in New Zealand towns – and raising privacy concerns. Click here for more.

Trade Me pulls hair: Trade me has pulled from sale a lock of hair purported to be from the head of Diana, Princess of Wales for breaching its rule against selling body parts. Click here for more.

Hatebook starts anti-social networking trend: Tired of phoney online friends? Make enemies instead. Riding on the popularity of social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, new websites are poking fun at online friendships that connect you to the people you like, by turning attention to the ones you don't. 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 February, and have a wonderful break!

Rob Zorn


Copyright 2013 Actrix Networks Limited | Contact: editor@actrix.co.nz