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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 October Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for October 2013.

This month we discuss backing up your valuable information, and offer a few tips and recommendations for making sure your family photos and important documents are safe. We also have a small collection of weird lists just to aid you in your procrastination.

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is an ad featured on Māori Television about drug driving. Three Māori boys find themselves in a situation familiar to most kids growing up in New Zealand – sitting outside in the car, waiting for one of their dads to come out and drive one of them home. The only thing is, the dad has been blazing, and the kids know it.


Rob Zorn

Backing up your valuable information

We received an email last month from a reader wanting to know more about different ways to back up information and documents. At around the same time Stuff ran a story about a family whose laptop and external hard drive was stolen, which contained all their family photos and videos. So this month we're going to look at the best ways to back up what matters to you.

Backing up refers to making a duplicate copy of your digital information, and storing it separately to where your original information is kept. That way if something bad happens to the original documents or information you can restore the broken or missing data from your back up.

Having a back up of your important information is always a good idea, especially in this digital age. So if you've got folders of family photos, emails and important documents sitting on your computer, back them up or risk losing them altogether!

There are a number of buck up options available, and this month we'll look at two: an external hard drive or cloud storage. External hard drives are usually small boxes that plug directly into your computer. They then act just like another folder on your computer, and let you copy and paste or drag your files across. All that information is stored on that separate hard drive, and ready for you to copy back should something happen to the original file.

Cloud storage is similar, except your files are uploaded to a server via the internet. Popular cloud storage companies include DropBox, SugarSync and Google Drive. Sites like these have easy instructions and will usually give you a free trial.

Let's have a closer look at both these options and run through their advantages and disadvantages.

External hard drives: Advantages

1. Cost

External hard drives are relatively cheap – you can pick one up between 1-2 terabytes at Dick Smith Electronics for between $100-$150. They are also a one-off investment, so once you've paid there shouldn't be any more costs in using it. 1-2 terabytes is quite a bit, by the way.

2. Simple

External hard drives are very easy to use, and require no additional technological knowhow. If you can use a computer, you can use one of these. To back stuff up, you only need to copy and paste, or even just drag and drop the files from your computer. Simple as.

3. Fast

External hard drives are fast. Thanks to the increasing quality of technology and even faster transfer speeds, you could back up your photo albums and entire HD movie collection in a matter of hours.

4. Space

These days external hard drives range in size from around 1-5 terabytes. A terabytes is roughly a thousand gigabytes, or a million megabytes. With today's digital cameras, let's assume your average photo is 4 megabytes. That means on a 1 terabyte hard drive, you can store more than 262,000 photos.

External hard drives: Disadvantages

1. Safety

External hard drives can be lost or stolen. In the Stuff story we mentioned, the family had all their photos stored on an external hard drive which sat next to the computer. When the thieves stole the computer, they stole the hard drive too, which really defeated the purpose of the backing up.

Also, external hard drives can be quite sensitive. A friend of mine had his hard drive knocked off his desk by his dog. The jolt of the hard drive hitting the floor wiped all the information he had stored on it.

2. Security

Your average external hard drive doesn't offer a form of encryption. This means anyone who gets you hard drive can simply plug it in to their computer, and access all the data you'd copied across.

3. Connection

External hard drives need to be connected to your computer, so your backed up data can only be accessed when plugged in.

Cloud storage: Advantages

1. Access

With cloud storage you can access your files anywhere. Most cloud storage services offer software which gives you access to your files no matter where you are. You can access your photos via a mobile phone or a laptop PC. It can be at the office or at a beach.

2. Updates

With cloud storage you can set up software on your computer to automatically update certain locations on your computer. This means you don't have to remember to re-upload your data if you make changes – it'll happen automatically.

3. Security

Cloud storage encrypts your files securely. This means only you, or whoever you give the password to, can access the data.

4. Sharing

You can share your files with friends and family, just by sending them a link to a specific file or folder. This means they can't access all your information, or see what you've got stored, only the stuff you give them direct links to. Great for securely sharing photos and documents without risking losing them.

5. Cost

Cloud storage is also very cheap, though usually requires ongoing payments as you rent the space. Many cloud storage services even offer you a significant amount of space for free, and give you the option of paying a little more to get more space.

Cloud storage: Disadvantages

1. Speed

Cloud storage transfer speeds can be slow, and are dependent on the quality of your internet speed. If you have terabytes of data that you want to store in the cloud, you'll need to be patient, as that much data can take up to a week to transfer.

2. Cost

While the space is generally cheap to rent, and you often get some space for free, it does require you to sign up and pay regular amounts.

3. Trust

Basically, with cloud storage you're handing your data over to a company somewhere. They'll store it for you, but that requires a certain amount of trust on your part that it'll be looked after well and not sold to third-party companies. That would be a worst case scenario, but is theoretically possible.

Our recommendations

Both external hard drives and cloud storage have their own pros and cons, which is why we recommend using both. Having your data on a hard drive plugged into your computer is handy, and lets you quickly flick files back and forth. Having an automatic backup to your cloud storage means you don't need to make transfers from your computer to your hard drives and cloud storage too.

Then, if something were to happen to your hard drive, you can sleep easy knowing all your data is safely stored where it can't be stolen or dropped.

Next month we'll look at options for backing up to your own hard drive.



Interesting time wasting lists

There's no denying the internet is a fantastic resource and time saving tool. Need to know the answer to a question or settle an argument? You use Google or Wikipedia. Need to contact someone? Send them an email. Need to buy something? Look at TradeMe.

That said, the internet is also a wonderful time waster so if you're feeling an urgent need to procrastinate, here are a few weird and interesting top lists that will add no benefit to your life other than a few minutes of deliciously wasted time. Enjoy!

10 people who survived falling from extreme heights

From window washers taking one-too-many steps backwards to sky divers whose parachutes wouldn't open, these people have felt gravity's pull like no others.

Read the list.

12 worst predicted endings to Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is currently one of the most talked about shows on TV, and at the time of writing this, there's only one episode left in the entire series. The internet is rife with predictions of how the show is going to end, and a few celebrities (people we've never heard of) have submitted what they think would be pretty funny endings. By the time you read this, the real ending will be known, but that it still might be interesting to look at some suggestions about how it could have gone.

Read the list.

Top 10 things from movies that you wish were real

It's hard to watch Iron Man without wanting a super suit of your very own, and impossible to watch Star Wars without thinking how cool it'd be to own a light sabre. Or think of how handy the neuraliser from Men in Black would be?

Read the list.

11 tips for outrunning the cops

We certainly don't encourage you to run from the cops – but if you're ever in a situation where you're innocent and you'd rather not stop for the red and blue flashing lights, here are a few tips to postpone your incarceration so you can continue doing good unimpeded.

Read the list.

Top 10 crazy structures made with Lego

Most of us probably played with Lego as kids and built amazing structures to show to our friends, parents or anyone else who would pay attention. However, while most of us became adults and continued our love of building by playing games like Minecraft, some continued to play with Lego well into adulthood.

Read the list.

Top 10 gadgets that we don't really need

The following are far from awesome inventions and most of them make us scratch our head wondering if it's the inventors who are stupid for creating such pointless gadgets, or us as consumers who buy the things?

Read the list.

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!

Alex Chiu's immortality rings
www.alexchiu.com/eternallife/index.html – The secret of immortality – many claim it's a myth, some believe it's attainable, and many are searching for the answers. Well, if you want to live forever, all you have to do is buy a pair of Alex Chiu's immortality rings. Alex started posting regular photos of himself to show he wasn't ageing but they've stopped and no one knows why.
Bermuda Triangle
www.bermuda-triangle.org/ – This website is a conspiracy theorist's one-stop shop. It covers all modern conspiracies, from the Bermuda Triangle to Bigfoot and Jack the Ripper. Just don't call them conspiracy theories – to these people they're anything but! These are mysterious phenomenon that can only be explained by extra-terrestrials and worm holes into parallel universes.
Fake moon landings
www.cs.indiana.edu/~kapadia/moon.html – The makers of this site have pored through thousands of photos and hours of footage to prove to you that NASA never landed on the moon. Some of the things they've found are yet to be explained by NASA, including the presence of Yoda in one photo, a traffic light on the moon, and the fact that if you rearrange the letters in "Neil Armstrong," you get "Strong Men Liar."
Real (Strange) Laws
www.dribbleglass.com/subpages/laws.htm – You have the right to remain silent. You have the right an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, join the club. You also have the right to browse through this vast collection of real (goofy) laws. For example, did you know in Alabama, dominoes may not be played on Sunday? Or that it's illegal to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on in North Dakota?
Ghost towns
www.ghosttowngallery.com/ – This site hosts an impressive collection of photos of ghost towns and historic places in the United States. There are photos of completely abandoned "western towns", old mines and mills, cemeteries and much more. Some even let you take a 360 degree tour.
One Word Wordsearch
http://toys.usvsth3m.com/one-word-wordsearch/#MTAsU1VOLDIzMTQyNQ== – A one word wordsearch sounds easy right? All you have to do is find a single word in a jumble of letters. Child's play! Except it's a lot harder when the rest of the puzzle is made up of letters from the same word. This site lets you make your own one word wordsearches too.
The duct tape guys
www.octanecreative.com/ducttape/suitcase_interface/index.html – The duct tape guys, Tim Nyberg and Jim Berg, are two everyday guys who have dedicated their lives to duct tape. As the authors of a six books documenting hundreds of real and wacky uses for duct tape, Jim and Tim are constantly on the lookout for wildly creative uses of "the ultimate power tool."
The Periodic Table of comic books
www.uky.edu/Projects/Chemcomics/ – It seems as if nearly every comic book mentions a different element from the periodic table – whether it's Doctor Solar's underwater hydrogen bubble or Superman defeating the Superbug, who turns everything into mercury, nearly every element from the periodic table is accounted for, and you can see them all here.

Photos of the amazing and gruesome world under a microscope
http://io9.com/photos-of-the-amazing-and-gruesome-world-under-a-micros-1291328130 – Some of the strangest and weirdest sights in the universe are right in front of our eyes. The microscopic universe is full of beautiful and terrifying sights, including monsters and treasures. This page lets you check out some of the greatest microscopy images of all time, from the head of a embryonic Zebrafish to the foot of a fly, these images are sure to amaze and disgust.

Reverse speech
http://reversespeech.com/ – Reverse speech is the phenomenon of hidden backward messages in speech. Apparently it's something we all do without knowing it. This guy believes he has the answer to reading and understanding our reverse speech, which allows him to know what we're thinking, and whether we're telling the truth. He also thinks he deserves the Nobel Prize for his research, but we think that's a bit of a stretch.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Greens make new bid to ditch 'Skynet' law: The Greens are calling for the "Skynet" copyright law to be scrapped after a study shows three-strikes laws are ineffective. Click here for more.

Kiwi charities get free Office 365: New Zealand's 27,000 organisation strong charity sector has been given a multi-million dollar boost with Microsoft donating its Office 365 productivity suite to each one in New Zealand. Click here for more.

App deal puts 2.6 billion in reach: A Silicon Valley business has signed a deal with a Hamilton website and software development company, putting New Zealand customers using its services in reach of 2.6 billion mobile computing devices and smart phones. Click here for more.

Dotcom challenges public to MW3 battle: Kim Dotcom will play Call of Duty against Digital Nationz attendees in the name of charity, expo organiser Vector Arena has announced. Click here for more.


When going viral sucks: Gain more followers. Add more friends. Increase your Klout score. Get more page views. Get more likes, more subscribers. Go viral. You want that, right? Everyone wants something like that. Click here for more.

Four Google services you're not using fully: Many of us use the obvious Google services: search, Gmail, Drive and Calendar. However, the company has a host of other products that may surprise you with what they can do. Click here for more.

Aussie watchdog cracks down on 'free' apps: Australia's competition watchdog is cracking down on potentially misleading "free" computer games and apps that trick children into spending their parents' money on in-game purchases, such as gem stones, tickets and doughnuts. Click here for more.

New Google spin-off to tackle immortality: Google is looking for the Fountain of Youth in its latest expansion beyond internet search. Click here for more.

YouTube to launch offline videos: We've all been there. You're whizzing along on a train watching a brilliantly funny cat video on YouTube when the internet signal drops out. Click here for more.

Google releases digital wallet app for iPhones: Google is bringing its digital wallet to the iPhone in its latest attempt to upstage Apple on its own popular device. Click here for more.

New York seeks to delete phony online reviews: A perfect hotel? An amazing restaurant? Teeth whitener that leads to romance? Such things may only truly exist in online reviews, and New York's attorney general says many of them are fakes, just as more consumers searching for guidance are starting to bite. Click here for more.

Social Media

Twitter tweets it'll go public: Twitter is going public. The short messaging service aptly tweeted today it has filed confidential documents for an initial public offering of stock. Click here for more.

Facebook facial recognition under scrutiny: US officials will examine changes to Facebook's privacy policy to determine whether they violate a 2011 agreement with federal regulators, a Federal Trade Commission spokesman confirmed Wednesday after certain changes drew fire from privacy advocates. Click here for more.

The superstars who don't use Twitter: Plenty of people don't get Twitter, but none is as young and famous as Jennifer Lawrence. Click here for more.

Facebook is using your photos in ads: Facebook users' profile data, including their photo, name and personal information, can show up as part of a Facebook ad their friends may see on the site. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

Welcome to not-so-low-cost iPhone: It is being promoted as Apple's low-cost iPhone that will help it break into markets such as China – but Kiwi buyers are unlikely to find it especially cheap. Click here for more.

New smartphone the 'gold standard': Apple's latest iPhones will come in a bevy of colours and two distinct designs, one made of plastic and the other that aims to be "the gold standard of smartphones". It can even read your fingerprint. Click here for more.

Yahoo tunes into mobile video with new app: Yahoo is auditioning for a bigger role on iPhones and iPads with the release of its first mobile application tailored for watching video on touch-control screens. Click here for more.

Prizes for first to crack 5S fingerprints: Hackers are gearing up for the iPhone 5S release with a contest to crack the device's first-ever fingerprint scanner, a high-tech feature that Apple says makes users' data more secure. Click here for more.

Hackers 'crack' Apple's fingerprint scanner: Just days after Apple made the iPhone 5S available to the public, a group of hackers claimed that they had already cracked the phone's Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Click here for more.

Apple lays down law to advertisers: Chief executive Tim Cook, video site YouTube and any references to glitches or hacking - these are just some of the words Apple bans its iPhone distributors from using in advertisements for the new iPhone 5. Click here for more.

iOS 7 install errors give users grief: Apple's servers were overwhelmed by the number of people updating their software overnight, causing users around the world installing iOS 7 to experience delays or outright failure. Click here for more.

Copyright vs Piracy

Google claims 'fair use' of digital books: A federal judge appeared to favour Google's legal defence of its digital books project, which could imperil efforts by authors seeking to block it. Click here for more.

Spain readies hefty jail terms over piracy: Spain can jail for up to six years the owners of websites that link to pirated content under a measure it approved on Friday as it tries to keep off a US list of countries where copyright is violated most. Click here for more.

Industry sounds alarm on piracy: The music and movie industries are sounding the alarm again on online piracy, saying illegal downloads are on the rise and search engines like Google aren't doing enough to stop them. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

China's Little Brothers cleanse online chatter: In a modern office building on the outskirts of the Chinese city of Tianjin, rows of censors stare at computer screens. Their mission: delete any post on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, deemed offensive or politically unacceptable. Click here for more.

Judge almost shut down NSA surveillance: Government officials for nearly three years accessed data on thousands of domestic phone numbers they shouldn't have and then misrepresented their actions to a secret spy court to reauthorise the government's surveillance program, documents released Tuesday show. Click here for more.

Google loses Street View privacy appeal: A federal appeals court rejected Google's bid to dismiss a lawsuit accusing it of violating federal wiretap law when its accidentally collected emails and other personal data while building its popular Street View program. Click here for more.

Hackers take over athlete's web life: Ultra-marathon runner Lisa Tamati is warning people of identity theft after having her entire online life hacked. Click here for more.

China crackdown ploy to nail critics: China's crackdown on online "rumour-mongering", widely seen as a tool to halt criticism of the ruling Communist Party, has chilled political discourse, with high-profile bloggers saying they have reined in sensitive posts for fear of detention. Click here for more.

Pakistan's censors get help from Canada: In a nondescript, creeper-draped building in the capital of Islamabad, a small team of men is purging Pakistan's internet. Click here for more.

France calls for EU to regulate web giants: France is pushing for the European Union to regulate global internet companies like Google, Amazon.com and Facebook more aggressively, to counter their growing dominance over online commerce and services. Click here for more.

Australia main conduit for cyberattacks: Australia is emerging as a major conduit for targeted cyberattacks, a report shows, as online criminals shift their gaze towards Asia. Click here for more.

LinkedIn users allege they were hacked: LinkedIn, owner of the world's most popular professional-networking website, has been sued by customers who claim the company appropriated their identities for marketing purposes by hacking into their external email accounts and downloading contacts' addresses. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Nipple unlocks new iPhone: Reviewers have hailed Apple's fingerprint sensor as a game changer, but already tech-heads have cracked it and creatively spoofed some of its abilities. 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.

John Key's cyber setback: National Party leader John Key has suffered a cyber setback in his bid to become Prime Minister, after being labelled "clueless" by internet search engine Google. Click here for more.

Spying on your spouse? Think twice: Suspicious spouses who use spy software to track phone calls and text messages on their cheating partner's cellphone may be breaking the law. Click here for more.

Google Chrome needs more polish: Google's new Chrome browser isn't as polished as its name would suggest but it cements the search giant's position as the tech industry's new "800-pound gorilla" and adds another nail in Microsoft's potential coffin. Click here for more.

Porn dethroned as web gets social: Social networking sites are the hottest attraction on the internet, dethroning pornography and highlighting a major change in how people communicate. Click here for more.

Making scents online: What should this Web page smell like? Tech companies with a nose for business are trying to find out. 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 October,

Rob Zorn


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