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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 June Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for June 2013.

This month we look at a couple of great tricks you can play on people with their computers. We also take a brief look at Facebook Mobile, and suggest five ways to make your Facebook use secure.

YouTube feature

We weren't sure whether to laugh or cringe when watching this month's YouTube feature. Some poor guy in China is driving his scooter and crashing into everything from cars, other scooters and even a truck. But it's the way the clip ends that makes it worth watching. We are also assured by whoever uploaded the video that the poor guy wasn't seriously injured.


Rob Zorn

Five security tips for Facebook Mobile

In May this year it was reported there are more than 751 million people who use Facebook on their mobiles. That's more than twice the population of the United States, or 167 times the population of New Zealand.

If you're one of the 751 million, you'll know that being able to check Facebook on your phone can be very handy, especially for messaging your friends, managing pages and killing time while waiting at the bus stop. But chances are your Facebook browsing isn't as secure as it could be. Here are five tips to make sure your Facebook account stays safe.

Lock your device

This one may seem obvious, but more than 30 percent of people don't use passwords to protect their mobile devices. Having a password or lock-code is your first line of defence if your phone is lost or stolen. This not only protects your Facebook account, it also protects other potentially sensitive information, including your emails, photos, banking info and personal texts.

You can take this tip a step further and set your phone to delete all its stored information after a number of failed attempts to break the code. Be careful with this step though, and make sure you write your password down somewhere safe.

Use different passwords

Did you know three-quarters of internet users select the same password for all their sign-in accounts? What's more, the most common passwords are the most obvious, with "123456" and "password" being the most popular.

By throwing a few more digits in, or even mixing it up with a number or two, you can drastically increase the security of your password. If you do use a similar password for all your accounts, try making small changes to each one related to the account they're used for. That way you can easily remember all your passwords without making it easy for someone to access all your accounts.

Turn on secure browsing

Facebook has offered a secure browsing option since 2011. Without an HTTP Secure (HTTPS) connection, your data is open to sneak attacks any time you use free Wi-Fi (i.e., in a Starbucks, hotel lobby or Wellington airport).

The downside is that an HTTPS encryption can slow down your Facebook experience, which is already a common complaint on mobile.

Enable login notifications and approvals

If you enable login notifications and approvals, Facebook will send you a notification every time your account is accessed from a new location or from a new device. This is a great way to make sure your account is only accessed by you.

You'll have to assign names to your most used devices, and then you'll get a warning if someone enters your account on an unfamiliar computer, phone or tablet. And if someone breaches your account, you'll receive instructions for resetting your password and securing your account.

Again, you can take this further by enabling approvals, which means Facebook will ask you for a special code every time you try to access your account from a new device.

Use "Trusted Contacts"

This is a recent innovation from Facebook, which asks you to select a small group of reliable friends, and in the event you can't access your account, and even security questions aren't helping, Facebook will send different codes to these friends. When you put these codes together, you can access your account again.

So choose come friends that you know you'll be able to contact quickly, and also friends who won't mind sending you a code at the drop of a hat. This option is labour-intensive for you and others, but it's a good last-ditch at getting into your account if it has been compromised.

So what kind of security measures do you use?

Computer pranks

We know April Fool's Day has come and gone, but we also know you don't need an excuse to pull some neat pranks on your friends and family. These tricks are simple, will have you in fits of laughter, but best of all, they're really easy to do and require little or no technological know-how.

Unclick-able desktop

This one is an oldie, but a goodie. Basically you end up with a computer where nothing can be clicked, even though it looks like all the icons and buttons are right there.

First you'll need to take a screenshot of your computer screen by pressing the "Print Screen" button on your keyboard (sometimes written "Print Scrn" or "Prt Sc"). Now go to an image editor, such as Paint, and paste the image (Ctrl+V). You should see an image of your screen appear. Next, save the image as a BMP. When saving the file, you should be able to select BMP as a format option.

You'll then want to make your saved image the background of your screen. To do this, click the Start button, then Control Panel, then Appearance and Personalization, then Personalization, and then Desktop Background.

Click Browse and navigate to your saved image and press OK to set it as your background. You're almost done now! Right-click on your desktop and click View. In the list of options that appears, make sure the option to show icons is un-ticked.

And there you have it, now the icons on the desktop can't be clicked! Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour while your friends, family and co-workers get more and more frustrated with their computers.

Accidental shutdown

This one's very simple, but quite effective. Basically you end up creating a folder that whenever it's opened, forces the computer to shutdown or go to sleep.

To start, right click anywhere on your desktop, select New and choose Shortcut from the list of options. A small window will appear, asking where you'd like the shortcut to point to. If you want the computer to shut down, type shutdown.exe in the box, and click next. If you want the computer to sleep, copy and paste Rundll32.exe Powrprof.dll,SetSuspendState Sleep into the box.

Then choose a name for the shortcut. You don't want to call it shutdown or sleep, because then everyone will know what the shortcut does. So change it to something like Do not open so no one can blame you for the prank because you told them not to do it.

Now you want to make the shortcut look like a folder. To do this, right-click the shortcut and select Properties, and on the box that pops up, click Change Icon....

A new box should appear, with the option to Look for icons in this file. In the top box, copy C:\Windows\System32\shell32.dll, and then click OK at the bottom, and a selection of new icons should appear. Just choose the icon that looks like the folder, and you're done!

Warning: if you do play this prank, we recommend choosing the Sleep version rather than the Shutdown version. Shutting the computer down increases the risk of the user losing any programmes and files they had open before clicking the shutdown link. The sleep version just puts the computer to sleep without actually exiting any programmes.

Broken mouse

This is by far the easiest prank to pull. All you need to do is find a piece of tape and stick it over the censor on the underside of someone's mouse. They'll be wiggling their mouse around wondering why it's not responding. Perhaps you could turn it into a game, and every time someone has to stand up to check their mouse is plugged in the back of the computer, you get a point.

And if someone's still using an ancient mouse that has a ball inside, try taking the ball out and putting tape over the censors inside.

We accept no liability for computer hardware damaged by frustrated prankees!

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!

Scrambled eggs still in the shell!
www.instructables.com/id/Scrambled-Eggs-still-in-the-Shell-/ – This site gives you everything you need to know to make scrambled eggs without having to take the shell off first. While not entirely practical, or much of a time-saver, it does make a neat party trick, and apparently it's quite a delicacy in Japan.
They will eat you
www.theywilleatyou.com – When chemical waste from a factory seeps into the ground of a nearby cemetery, its residents wake up and they are hungry. This fun game sees you running through the cemetery dodging the brain-starved zombies. Beat the clock and you'll survive, but get bitten three times and you won't.
Old Spice saves the world
http://kbhgames.com/8790/old-spice-%7C-dikembe-mutombos-4-1-2-weeks-to-save-the-world/ – The old-spice guy only has four and a half weeks to save the world. This game lets you play as the old-spice guy, retired NBA star Dikembe Mutombo, whose job it is to stop a catastrophic event that might have happened if an ancient civilization was as smart as we think.
YouTube Comedy
www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLbpi6ZahtOH69fB15IOvGUwbf_NsWl0ab – This month YouTube celebrated Comedy Week, and so made a collection of the most famous comedy videos of all time. You're bound to have seen some of these before, and we've even featured a few of them in the Informer, but they're all worth watching again. And again.
Basic sign language: first 100 Signs
http://lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/concepts.htm – This page contains links to about a hundred basic signs that are frequently used between parents and their young children. Remember, there is much more to learning sign language than just memorizing signs. Sign Language has its own grammar, culture and history – it takes time and effort to become skilled. But you have to start somewhere if you are going to get anywhere – so dive in and enjoy.
Into the Arctic
http://intothearctic.gp/ – According to this site the Arctic is under pressure from oil companies seeking to exploit its fossil resources. They see the melting of the sea ice, not as a warning, but as a business opportunity. Take a journey into the Arctic and explore for yourself its natural wonders, the threat of the encroaching oil industry, and follow the struggle to Save the Arctic.
http://ampergram.com/ – Ampergram is a new online experience that lets you write text made up of letters taken from photos other people have taken with instagram. The site also lets you download or share your text with your friends on Facebook. Take a look, write your name and save it for a cool custom background on your computer.
Pen spinning
http://www.penspinningonline.com/en/home/ – For most people, twiddling pens is something we did to get through all those boring classes in school. But for some, it's a fine art that has seen them spend countless hours perfecting their craft. Some of what these people can do is just freakish, and quite enjoyable to watch. This site even has a few tutorials and lessons so you can start practiing too.

Metric Conversions
www.metric-conversions.org/ – Do you know how many ounces are in a cup of flour? You might, but it's not likely, which is why this website is so handy! You can enter any amount of any variable, such as weight, distance, temperature or speed, and select your output and it'll convert it right then and there. There's also a mobile app that goes with the site, so you can make your conversions on the go.

Kick my habit
www.leedsbuildingsociety.co.uk/resources/kick-my-habits/ – We all have those guilty pleasures in our lives that are weighing us down, whether that's literally, in the case of junk-food and takeaways, or financially. This site was designed to give you a little extra motivation to stop those troublesome habits by showing just how much they're costing you, and how much money you would save if you were able to stop.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Small SME internet presence a concern: Half of all small to medium-sized Kiwi businesses do not have a website, a survey on digital readiness shows. Click here for more.

'Mega Conspiracy' a white-out: Lawyers working for Kim Dotcom have called on the United States Congress to investigate the US Justice Department's prosecution of MegaUpload, alleging it may have been influenced by political campaign funds. Click here for more.

New trend for ex-texters: They're cheap, you can write as much as you want and you know straight away if someone's read your message. Click here for more.

Web intruders put family ties to the test: They're a voracious bunch are the Brobyns. The family can easily chew through 150 gigabytes of internet data a month. Click here for more.

Historic Kiwi photographs to be digitised: If your job is to stop national treasures being lost overseas, is allowing them to rot away in a dusty New Zealand corner a preferable outcome? Click here for more.

App helps travellers spend a penny: Adam Hutchinson is helping travellers in New Zealand find their way to the toilet. And he's doing it for free. Click here for more.

Dotcom puts legal defence costs at $62m: Kim Dotcom says the legal costs of defending himself and his former MegaUpload business against United States copyright charges will top US$50 million (NZ$62m). Click here for more.


Obama creates White House internet adviser: The White House is creating a new senior adviser position to focus on internet and privacy policy, and Nicole Wong, a lawyer known for her work at Google and Twitter, is a leading contender for the job, a source familiar with the situation has said. Click here for more.

Silicon Valley snarky blogs make comeback: Silicon Valley is taking itself a tad too seriously, and a few of its shriller residents have taken note. Click here for more.

How to fix common Windows 8 problems: Microsoft is preparing an update to Windows 8 for release later this year. It says the changes are designed to address complaints and confusion with the new operating system. Click here for more.

Adobe shifting to subscriptions: Adobe says it is moving to an online subscription-based model for the software package it sells to designers, web developers, video editors and other creative professionals. Click here for more.

Google Glass can take photo with a wink: If you see someone wearing Google Glass wink at you, you might want to get out of the way because they're probably not flirting with you. Click here for more.

Me, myself and the internet: Our lives are increasingly spent with a screen between ourselves and the rest of humanity, because apparently, that's what we want. Click here for more.

You can count on unhappy people: Friendly, upbeat people are a pleasure to work with – except when they don't reply to your emails. Click here for more.

Software firm seeks tech-staff with autism: German software giant SAP AG says it plans to recruit people with autism to take make full use of their talents to process information. Click here for more.

The ancient Mayas meet the modern internet: Researchers began decoding the glyphic language of the ancient Maya long ago, but the internet is helping them finish the job and write the history of this enigmatic Mesoamerican civilization. Click here for more.

Social Media

YouTube channels to pay for: YouTube is set to announce within a few weeks a series of channels that will require payment. Click here for more.

Twitter adds security measure to logins: Twitter is adding an extra security measure to users' accounts in an effort to prevent unauthorised logins. Click here for more.

Poll: Teens migrating to Twitter: Twitter is booming as a social media destination for teenagers who complain about too many adults and too much drama on Facebook, according to a new study about online behaviour. It said teens are sharing more personal information about themselves even as they try to protect their online reputations. Click here for more.

Facebook sued over Eminem song: Eminem's song publisher is suing Facebook and an ad agency, saying they copied music from one of the rapper's songs. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

Get smart on apps to add to your gadget: The range of content available plays a huge part in determining how useful and enjoyable you find your shiny new smartphone or tablet. Click here for more.

Budget iPhone launching this year: report: A new budget version of the iPhone is set to launch this year, according to an ETrade Supply source. Click here for more.

App of the Week: Dictionary.com: When it came to learning the meaning and spelling of obscure and unusual words at school I didn't always learn as quickly as I would have liked. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

How to secure USB drives and other portable storage devices:For all their convenience, misplaced or stolen storage devices often result in the loss of confidential data. To protect against embarrassing, costly and damaging data breaches, take these steps to protect your employees' portable storage devices. Click here for more.

'White hats' probe cyber security flaws: He's 26, likes industrial and electronic music, has a bleached-blonde Mohawk haircut and sometimes, Mikhail Davidov said, he starts his day "at the crack of noon." Click here for more.

'Irrational' hackers are growing US security fear: Cybersecurity researcher HD Moore discovered he could use the Internet to access the controls of some 30 pipeline sensors around the US that were not password protected. Click here for more.

Chinese hackers got data from Google: Chinese hackers who breached Google's servers several years ago gained access to a sensitive database with years' worth of information about US surveillance targets, according to current and former American officials. Click here for more.

Some US utilities under constant cyber attack: Several power utilities say they face a barrage of cyber attacks on their critical systems, a report by two Democratic lawmakers found echoing warnings from the Obama administration that foreign hackers were trying to bring down the US power grid. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Super Charles becomes a hero of the web: One moment he was sitting on his porch eating McDonald's. The next he's an internet hero, being lauded as Cleveland's Superman and with his face plastered on a new range of T-shirts. Click here for more.

Teen develops algorithm to diagnose leukaemia: Brittany Wenger isn't your average high-school student: she taught a computer how to diagnose leukaemia. 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.

Children increasingly tech-savvy – survey: A survey of more than 600 New Zealand kids shows what many parents will already know - they are increasingly tech-savvy and using new media in ever higher numbers. Click here for more.

Internet can save some '$721 a year' on fuel: The price of petrol is driving people in rural areas to use the internet rather than their cars, says rural broadband provider Farmside. Click here for more.

Tuhoe invest $1m in broadband network: The 2020 Communications Trust and Tuhoe iwi are building a $1 million WiFi network for schools, marae and homes in the Ureweras. Click here for more.

Facebook users warned about ads: Credit companies are using the Facebook social networking site to target young people, a debt charity has warned. Click here for more.

Spam King does a runner after $306m fine: Spam King Sanford 'Spamford' Wallace and partner Walter Rines, fined a total of US$234 million, have done a disappearing act. 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 June,

Rob Zorn


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