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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
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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 2013.

This month we feature a small notice from our CEO, Howard Lewis, on the recent earthquakes. We also look at the popular photo-sharing app Snapchat, and offer a warning for its users. Then we list some of the coolest and most unusual TradeMe auctions.

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature shows an interesting experiment conducted with capuchin monkeys. Two capuchin monkeys are placed in cages next to each other, and asked to perform the same task. While one monkey is rewarded with boring cucumber, the other is rewarded with grapes. What happens next makes great viewing. Why not try the same experiment on your children? I confess it cracked me up. Why do I feel like the cucumber monkey? Do I need therapy? Maybe I just need grapes...


Rob Zorn

A message from the CEO

We appreciate you will know about the major series of earthquakes which hit the Central New Zealand recently.

As you may be aware our operations are based in Wellington. We want you to know that all our services continued uninterrupted during the major shakes. Reported customer impact has been negligible and as best we can ascertain, the only impact was with customers who lost power for all of their services.

Actrix invested in new technology for its network late last year and concurrently moved to a compliant earthquake strengthened building. These decisions have paid off for us in that they have helped sustain service to you.

Chorus, our provider of the copper and fibre to most of New Zealand, and CityLink, who provide much of our fibre in the Wellington CBD, both confirm no service impacting issues, but there may be delays in provisioning new services in the Wellington area as exchanges are checked for structural damage.

Our immediate focus is on our staff and their wellbeing along with our customers.

If anyone is in need of any assistance, please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to assist if we can (0800 228 749).

We will provide you with regular updates via our Twitter and Facebook accounts so that you are kept informed of developments.

If you have any specific requests/requirements, or even just feedback, we always welcome your view, please feel free to email me on or talk to one of our support team on 0800 228 749.


Howard Lewis
Actrix Networks Ltd

Snapchat warning

Snapchat is a photo messaging application which lets users take a photo and send it to one of their contacts. The sender can also specify how long people are able to view the image before the application automatically deletes it and it's lost forever.

Or is it?

Snapchat has recently come under a little flack when a forensic scientist closely investigated the app. What he discovered was the app doesn't actually delete the photos at all. Instead, it renames them and converts them into a format that is unreadable to other apps. This makes the photo unsearchable and untraceable, unless you're someone with a little technological know-how.

Does this matter?

We think so. At the beginning of the year, there were more than 200 million photo messages, or snaps, being sent every day worldwide. By now that number may have doubled, tripled, or earned another zero. The app is extremely popular.

Also, users are under the guise their snaps are being deleted. When there's no fear of being caught due to a lack of evidence, people do silly things, and it didn't take long before people began sending snaps of an overtly sexual nature. Furthermore, nearly all of Snapchat's users are aged between 12 and 23, a demographic not entirely renowned for its decision-making.

When questioned about their application, Snapchat responded by saying on their blog, "If you've ever tried to recover lost data after accidentally deleting a drive or maybe watched an episode of CSI, you might know that with the right forensic tools, it's sometimes possible to retrieve data after it has been deleted. So… you know… keep that in mind before putting any state secrets in your 'selfies'."

Snapchat doesn't think it's a big deal, but there are many who do, and for good reason. Data stored on a mobile phone is incredibly hard to completely delete, because it's stored in places the normal user doesn't know exist. And since mobile phones swap hands so regularly these days, it becomes more and more likely unsuspecting people have nude photos of strangers stored on their phones (but surely not you).

So if there's a snapchat user in your household, make sure they're aware their photos aren't actually being deleted.

Best TradeMe auctions

Buying and selling stuff on TradeMe is one of the great New Zealand pastimes. There's always a bargain to be had, and there's always someone willing to pay at least a dollar for whatever junk you've collected in your garage.

Over the years, the online auction site has seen some pretty strange auctions. People will try to sell almost anything on the site, from election votes and spouses to body parts and supernatural beings. TradeMe has some pretty strict rules when it comes to selling outlandish items, but here is a list of some of the funniest, weirdest and most entertaining auctions seen on the site.

Often TradeMe pulls down the auction pages once the auction has been completed, so where we can we've included links to the original listing.

Scary washing machine (

This auction was for a second-hand washing machine that worked well, it just leaked a little. To try and get a little more money for his Fisher and Paykel toploader, the seller included quite a creative description.

According to the auction page, this is the loudest and most violent washing machine the seller had ever encountered. So much so, it was capable of creating a portal to another dimension. The seller was nearly sucked through the portal, along with his shoes, pants and favourite iron. Apparently there were dinosaurs in this other dimension, and even they were scared of the noises the washing machine was making.

The seller described the sound as being "a bit like the tortured howls of 1000 undead writhing in the sulphury pits of hell mixed with a train with carriages full of scrap iron sliding down the road with no wheels, on fire, into a bell factory".

It was recommended you only buy the washing machine if you're completely deaf, hate your neighbours or need a cheap washing machine.

Rocky (

Following the February earthquakes in Christchurch, one unfortunate resident discovered an enormous 30 tonne boulder had rolled down a hill and lodged itself in his house. Determined to make the most of the situation, he decided to sell "Rocky" on TradeMe.

He listed Rocky as a landscaping feature, and while the auction gathered a number of views, there wasn't much bidding happening. That was until an anonymous someone contacted the seller and offered to throw in a seven-night stay for four at the Rocky Point Lodge on Norfolk Island, including airfares.

It didn't take long for the bidding to start, and for Rocky to become a household name. Even a Facebook page was created for him, and quickly collected nearly 3000 likes.

Eventually Rocky sold for a whopping $60,000. He was bought by NZSki, who relocated him to their ski filed near Mt Hutt. What's more, the seller donated all the money to the Christchurch Earthquake Relief Fund.

Tana Umaga's handbag (

After losing the 2014 Super Rugby final, Tana Umaga and a few Hurricane's team mates were drowning their sorrows in a Christchurch bar. As the story goes, Chris Masoe lost his temper with a fellow patron and started getting a little aggressive. To calm him down, Tana Umaga grabbed the handbag from the woman seated next to him and hit Chris Masoe over the head, damaging the cellphone inside and Chris Masoe's pride.

The owner of the handbag decided to sell up, thinking the incident would at least add an extra ten dollars to the auction. Little did she know the auction would become the most viewed auction on TradeMe to date. More than a million people logged on to witness the sale, which was eventually completed for a ridiculous $22,750 to a woman in Whanganui.

Comfort hug (

This guy had nothing real to sell, so he decided to sell a professionally delivered hug instead. Considering the nature of some of the types of people on the internet, he was very careful to lay out some robust terms and conditions. These included:

  • this is a 100 percent non-sexual hug
  • the duration of the hug is decided by the hugee, up to a maximum of 1 minute
  • the hug can be received by a male or female (men need support as well)
  • this is a human to human hug (I will not hug your pet or farm animals)
  • The recipient must be genuine (no covering themselves with marmite, jelly etc)
  • if purchasing for someone else please ensure they want this hug – hugs are not transferable.

Unfortunately we're not sure how much the hug sold for, but we do know it sold for more than the "therapeutic slap" that was listed the next day.


In honour of people's witty and clever selling techniques and some of the strange things people have tried to sell, TradeMe now has a section dedicated to cool auctions. You can find that at the top-right-hand corner of the Trade Me homepage.

Here are just a few more strange and popular auction titles we had to include:

Check these out at your own risk!


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!

Worst named tech products – When a company creates an innovative new piece of technology, they want to think of a name for it that makes it sound fancy, sleek and sexy. They want a name that invokes a desire in consumers to purchase the product and encourage their friends to buy it too. They want a name that will make the product cool. They don't want a name that reminds people of toilets, certain body parts or that  is un-pronounceable.
Worst tech products ever imagined – Following on from the above, here are some of the worst tech products ever imagined. For every great gizmo that is created, there are dozens of flops that surround it. However, we rarely hear about the failures. Instead, we hear about all the great gadgets of the year, the decade, the millennium, and so on. But what about the flops? What about those truly remarkable failures that will stand the test of time in technological history?
The amazing iOS6 maps. Not. – Apple's latest operating system, iOS6, took a new approach to Google Maps. They created a new system which lets you view streets, buildings and landmarks in 3D, as if you're literally flying above them. While a great idea, there are some serious flaws to the system, as this site loves to point out.
Punish your children using Facebook – Social media can be a powerful tool. While you're probably using it to connect with friends, it's also helpful when trying to discipline your kids. No, we're not talking about taking away their Internet privileges — that would be too easy. Embarrassment, however, can act as an amazing motivator. And there's no better vehicle for parental-driven embarrassment than Facebook.
Purrsonals – Are you a cat-lover looking for that special someone to join you in your life's journey? You need to check out Purrsonals, the Internet's only dating site exclusively for cat lovers. Users can register for free, and even create their own blog to tell the world about all their cats.
Sports fails – When done right, sports represent the pinnacle of human grace, strength and coordination. When not done right, it shows just how uncoordinated and embarrassing it can be. For every amazing goal, try or home run, there's a shot to the nuts, botched play or a moment of complete incompetence. But often those moments are the best to watch. Thankfully YouTube has immortalised these moments for us to watch over and over and over and over again.
Learn Braille – Braille is a language used by the blind to read. It allows the blind to run their fingers over a series of dots, which represent letters and numbers. So if you're interested in a challenge and thinking about learning more about Braille, check out this site.
Unique projects – Got a bit of spare time coming up? Looking for something to do? This site has plans for a whole range of projects to get involved in, from constructing fold-out tables and chairs to making your own yoghurt, hammocks and wine racks.

Taos Hum – The 'Taos Hum' is a low-pitched sound heard in numerous places worldwide, especially in the USA, UK, and northern Europe. It is usually heard only in quiet environments, and is often described as sounding like a distant diesel engine. Since it has proven undetectable by microphones or VLF antennae, its source and nature is still a mystery.

The society for barefoot living – The purpose of this organisation is to educate the public about the benefits of going barefoot, to promote barefoot acceptance worldwide, and support those who seek the joy, freedom and health benefits of going barefoot. Lose those shoes, baby!

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Company's Facebook post offends: A company condemned for a Facebook post referring to a person with Down syndrome as a "retard" has apologised but said it is disappointed with the Advertising Standards Authority decision. Click here for more.

Refugee families get IT help: Palmerston North refugee families are getting access to free computers to help their kids keep up with their schoolmates as iPads and computers become a central part of classroom learning. Click here for more.

Beware of fraudulent shopping sites: Most of us think we're smart enough to avoid being fooled by illegitimate online retailers. We look for "https" (the s denoting secure) in URLs, and always check the security certificate before buying. I've been shopping online for more than 10 years, and I've never come across any fraud... until last month. Click here for more.

New subsea internet cable floated: Former Alcatel-Lucent executive Remi Galasso has convinced regional economic development agency Northland Inc to take seriously his plan to lay a new US$350 million subsea cable across the Pacific. Click here for more.

Kiwi ATM hacker dies at 35: A prominent New Zealand hacker who discovered a way to have ATM machines spit out cash and was set to deliver a talk about hacking pacemakers and other wireless implantable medical devices has died in San Francisco. Click here for more.

Hacker explains tricks of the trade: It takes him seconds to hack his way in. Before we even know what is going on he is watching us surf the internet, tracking our movements, and shutting our connections down at will. Click here for more.


Snapchat's fun with a few regrets: A picture paints a thousand words, but what if that picture self combusts? Click here for more.

Big names behind the big ideas: Ever wonder why so many smartphones look similar, or why every website now sports a Facebook "Like" button? Click here for more.

Brain activity decides what goes viral online: Ever heard of the temporoparietal junction? No, it's not a train station, nor is it a '60s-style rock group. The TPJ, as it's also known, is the area of the brain that gets activated when we're thinking about how to share something and who to share it with. Click here for more.

Yahoo shuts down internet relic AltaVista: Once up on a time, there was a popular search engine called AltaVista. It lives no more. Click here for more.

Google revives Roswell conspiracy: Internet users' attention turned to aliens with Google reviving the controversy over 66-year-old Roswell UFO sightings with a new "doodle". Click here for more.

Fake reviews may be pervasive, study finds: Consumers often turn to the internet to research a product before buying. Fake reviews are always a concern, and the problem may be bigger than previously thought. Click here for more.

Navigating technology together: Leticia Barr started the blog Tech Savvy Mama about five years ago, after her mother-in-law offered a hand-me-down computer to Barr's daughter, who was 4 at the time. Click here for more.

Inventor of computer mouse dies: Doug Engelbart, a visionary who invented the computer mouse and developed other technology that has transformed the way people work, play and communicate, has died. He was 88. Click here for more.

Could the Firefox phone help save the web?: Mozilla, the nonprofit behind the Firefox web browser, will launch its first Firefox smartphone this week in Spain. Click here for more.

Technology for the elderly: Tech companies have made hundreds of gadgets and applications for smartphone-addicted teenagers and young professionals. But now, there's technology just for grandparents. Click here for more.

Is facial recognition the new fingerprint?: In recent years, when North Dakotans go to get their driver's license pictures taken, they're asked to take off their glasses because the state's facial-recognition software requires them to do so. Click here for more.

Are smartphones emasculating after all?: 'Is Your iPhone Turning You Into a Wimp?' is the provocative title of an article from Harvard Business School's Monday newsletter, Working Knowledge, and in it you can hear echoes of Google's Sergey Brin's contention that smartphones are "emasculating". Click here for more.

Beating the geo-blocking rules: It has been months in the works, but the Australian Parliament has finally outed its recommendations into how the government can best tackle geo-blocking of digital goods, therefore halting the tech rip-offs being perpetrated onto consumers. Click here for more.

How to stay safe online: By the time you read this, your Facebook search has probably changed, dramatically. Replacing the simple "search for a person or a page" search that Facebook has run for years, Graph Search lets you delve into the depths of Facebook with a huge degree of control. Click here for more.

Between beta and better is a beautiful thing: The word "beta" used to be stodgy computer jargon. Then it occupied the corners of our screens. Now it has its own T-shirts. And it's not just for software any more – all sorts of things can be in beta, apparently, including people. Where did it come from? Click here for more.

Aust IT price gouging inquiry concludes: A year-long Australian inquiry into the pricing of IT products, which includes the likes of game pricing on Steam, has concluded. Click here for more.

Founder of Russia's biggest search engine dies: Ilya Segalovich, the co-founder of Russia's largest search engine, Yandex, has died, the company said on Sunday. He was 48. Click here for more.

How it feels to be sued by a patent troll: A growing number of technology startups are being threatened with lawsuits over broad patents they allegedly, and inadvertently, infringed. Click here for more.

Social Media

Facebook pushes search feature to more users: Users who may have grown frustrated with Facebook's rudimentary search feature are getting an updated version designed to make it easier to find people, places and photos on the site. Click here for more.

How your Facebook can make you an NSA target: How does the National Security Agency choose who to target for surveillance? Click here for more.

Arrest after online threats to UK campaigner: British police on Sunday arrested a man in connection with online threats made toward a feminist campaigner, a case which has ignited calls for social media platforms to institute stronger protections against verbal abuse. Click here for more.

Shouting back at Twitter rape threats: When UK journalist and co-founder of The Women's Room Caroline Criado-Perez spearheaded a campaign to replace Charles Darwin's image with Jane Austen's on a British banknote, her efforts were rewarded by a sustained Twitter attack from some of the more repugnant turds excreted by society's sulphurous bottom. Click here for more.

The secret deals that make YouTube buffer: If you ever find yourself having to wait for YouTube to buffer videos, but ads load just fine, then don't worry, you're not alone. Click here for more.

Diplomacy in 140 characters: Among world leaders who engage in twiplomacy – the use of Twitter for diplomatic relations – President Barack Obama wins superlatives for the most followers but Pope Francis is the most influential, according to a new survey by Burson-Marsteller. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

Access to Apple developer site partially restored: Apple has partially restored its main website for developers, eight days after shuttering it in response to a cyber attack that prompted a harried upgrade to prevent future breaches. Click here for more.

Motion-controlled app-store: Like waving a wand, new apps are bringing a bit of magic to computers, enabling users to zoom, pan and control the action with hand gestures. Click here for more.

Copyright vs Piracy

Dotcom extradition 'totally one-sided': Kim Dotcom is being subjected to a "one-sided" extradition process that the New Zealand courts must address to preserve individual rights, his lawyer says. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Gay activists cyberattack Nigerian govt: Nigeria's Ministry of Information says it has defeated a cyberattack on its government website by foreign gay-rights activists. Click here for more.

Crooked cops abuse FBI database: It's billed by the FBI as "the lifeline of law enforcement" – a federal database used to catch criminals, recover stolen property and even identify terrorism suspects. Click here for more.

Hacker term is misunderstood: Hacker: It sounds vicious and destructive, just like the malevolent electronic villains it is used to describe. Click here for more.

Crackdown takes toll on hackers: Digital activist and journalist Quinn Norton says hacker group Anonymous has survived dozens of arrests in the United States, but there are a "lot of broken spirits" in the US following the crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement. Click here for more.

Hackers steal South Korea military secrets: A mysterious group of computer hackers has spent four years spying on the South Korea military, US security software maker McAfee has said, citing evidence uncovered from malicious software samples. Click here for more.

Software experts warn of car-hacking: Car hacking is not a new field, but its secrets have long been closely guarded. That is about to change, thanks to two well-known computer software hackers who got bored finding bugs in software from Microsoft and Apple. Click here for more.

Royal baby emails no bundle of joy: Security experts are warning people to be cautious of malicious software circulating via email around news of the royal baby. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Man gets fake FBI child porn alert, arrested for child porn: A man is fooled by an Internet virus into going to a police station to pay a fine for child pornography. He gives the police his computer to examine. They allegedly find child pornography on it. 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.

Trade Me in court for "black market": Trade Me is being sued for an undisclosed sum in damages by an importer who claims it did not do enough to prevent counterfeit versions of his goods being sold in online auctions. Click here for more.

Bubble bursts for Kiwi social network: The New Zealand-backed social network for adults, iYomu, has closed its doors. Even offering a US$1 million prize to encourage membership to its site didn't give the company the legs to last a year. Click here for more.

Te reo going live on Google: Māori will soon join Afrikaans, Zulu and even Klingon as an optional language setting on the website Google. Click here for more.

Nearly every Kiwi online in 25 years – NetSafe speaker: New Zealand has one of the highest rates of internet penetration in the world, at 80.5 per cent in March this year, according to the International Telecommunications Union the seventh-ranked country on monitoring website Click here for more.

Spam experiment overloads inboxes: Surfing the web unprotected will leave the average web user with 70 spam messages each day, according to an experiment by security firm McAfee. 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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