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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 December Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for December 2013.

This month we offer our beloved readers some advice on getting Christmas presents for a few of those friends and family that are impossible to buy for. We're sure you'll find a few of our ideas very useful!

We continue our discussion on backing up your valuable information with a few responses from some of our readers who suggest even more ways to create backups. We also give you all a little office update, talking more bout our recent move, and the broadband services we have to offer.

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is a little long, but definitely worth all 11 minutes. Being a professional beatboxer is quite an obscure profession, and unless you're into thumping speakers and big bass drops, it can be quite tedious to have to listen to.

However, this Australian gentleman presents his beatboxing skills in a very entertaining way, culminating in him playing all the instruments of a great jazz band simultaneously using only his mouth and a microphone.


Rob Zorn

Christmas present ideas

Every year, without a doubt, there's someone on your Christmas list that you have no idea what to buy. Whether it's the mother-in-law, your nephew or your great aunty once removed, there's always someone that's just impossible to buy for.

So this year we thought we'd help you out by coming up with a few suggestions based on some of their likes and interests. What's more, all these can be purchased online, in time for Christmas Day.


Gift ideas for technophobes

There's a technophobe in every family. They're the kinds of people who try to call someone on the tv remote and would use an iphone as nothing more than a paper-weight. So why not take it upon yourself to welcome them to the 21st century with these cool tech-related gift ideas that even a technophobe would love.

USB Can Cooler and Warmer
Simply plug this handy device into your computer's USB port and keep any beverage nice and toasty or cool as ice. Simply flip the switch on the back of the device to alternate between heating and cooling.
Find out more.

Apple iPod classic
There's a reason iPods outsell all other personal media players: the brilliant interface requires very little brainpower to operate and your beloved technophobic friend or relative will never need to crack open the manual. Consider the sharp screen and oodles of storage added bonuses.
Find out more.

Paper Airplane Conversion Kit
Crash and burn? Not these paper airplanes. A clip-on motor and propeller makes any folded 747 a high-flying success. This clever conversion kit includes a handheld charger to give folded paper planes some extra turbo power.
Find out more.


Gift ideas for book loves

Katana Bookends
The pen is mightier than the sword, as someone who has never tried to fend off a claymore-wielding assailant with a biro said. Fortunately you can have the best of both worlds with this magnetic set of bookends – slip the metal sleeves inside your books, and the katana hilt and blade will hover in place as if by magic.
Find out more.

Kobo Mini
The cheapest ebook reader around, the Kobo Mini has a dinky 5 inch screen that'll fit perfectly in a pocket. And it has all the skills of its bigger cousins, with a touchscreen and Wi-Fi connectivity, plus access to an ebook store with over 3.5 million titles. And unlike Amazon's Kindles, it supports the EPUB format – so you can borrow ebooks from your local library.
Find out more.

Dead Mark Bookmark
Poor old Mark. There he was, minding his own business, reading a book when all of a sudden the pages shut and he was squashed flat. Still, at least his death wasn't meaningless – he can live on as a bookmark.
Find out more.


Gifts for coffee lovers

Coffee is a big big deal to certain people, and any one of these gifts will have that coffee-loving family member in you

Handpresso Auto Ese
The ideal gift for espresso-chugging motorway mile-eaters, the Handpresso is a proper coffee-maker that connects to a standard 12v in-car cigarette lighter and fits snugly in a cup-holder. Pop in an espresso cartridge and some cold water then plug it in and wait for the beeps – in a matter of minutes you'll have a 'real' cup of coffee right there in your motor.
Find out more.

The Black Blood of the Earth
A concentrated coffee drink made through the cold-water extraction of the oils and essences of ground beans, Black Blood of the Earth contains between 20 and 40 times the caffeine of regular coffee and none of the bitterness. It's ideally enjoyed cold (either straight up in a shot glass or mixed with milk) and lasts up to three months in your fridge.
Find out more.

Philips Senseo
Coffee snobs may look down their noses at pod-based machines, but they're certainly a step up from pouring boiling water over a teaspoon of freeze-dried Nescafe. This compact Senseo-based machine from Philips is currently available at a low, low price, and unlike many pod coffee makers it can brew two cups of the good stuff at once.
Find out more.


Gifts and gadgets for gamers

Pac-Man Ghost Lamp
This adorable remote controlled Pac-Man ghost lamp can glow up to 16 different colours and can be set to flash, dim, fade or even strobe, for mini raves in your bedroom. All you need are some mysterious pills and cherries to munch on.
Find out more.

Minecraft Torch
We'll admit it. We're still scared of the dark. It's not our fault, we've just got vivid imaginations. The second the bedroom lights are off we leap into bed and cover ourselves with our duvet of invincibility. If only we had this officially licensed Minecraft torch to keep evil creatures away.
Find out more.

Nerdtendo Gamebooze Flask
What better way to show off one's allegiance to gaming than by sipping sweet nectar from a Game Boy-inspired hip flask. Whether its Capri Sun or straight Vodka, your tipple will taste all the sweeter for it. Note: not compatible with Game Boy cartridges.
Find out more.

Well that about sums-up our list of gift ideas. If you're still stumped, check out this great list of 14 last-minute gifts for everyone you forgot about.

Backing up your valuable information: Responses

Over the last couple of months we've run a small series of articles on backing up your important information. The first article (read it here) looked at hosting your information externally, and compared using cloud storage with using an external hard drive. Last month we looked at backing up your information on your own hard drive by creating a partition. (read it here).

After our last article we received a number of responses from people who not only appreciated the information we'd shared, but offered their own advice for backing up. There were a couple of solutions that we'd missed, so we thought we would share those too.

Norman wrote:
Even though I'm 91, I'm still following your helpful tips. On the issue of backups, you haven't mentioned copying to a DVD which can then be retrieved on any PC. I've done several things that way. May be less sophisticated than your methods but it works for me.

Our response:
Norman's method of burning his data to DVDs can be a very effective way to create a backup. DVDs have plenty of space for storing photos, videos, documents and music, and are also cheap as chips to buy.

There are a few problems with backing up to a DVD though. For one, DVDs are relatively small, so if you aren't particularly organised, they can be easy to lose – especially if you don't label them. DVDs can also be scratched and permanently damaged, and usually can't be overwritten, meaning your backups can't be updated to the same DVD.

Litchy (a backup aficionado) wrote:
Further to your very useful articles on backing up – and in particular to creating a new partition on one's hard drive – may I tell you what I do. I load all my programs as normal on to my C drive. Then I created a partitioned drive which I happen to call my D drive.

Then, I move 'My Documents' files and any other personal data files to my new D drive – and D drive now becomes my default drive automatically for My Docs. Then I regularly make a new 'Drive Image' backup of my C drive.

The advantage of doing this is that if I manage to stuff my C drive up, get a virus or whatever, and have to recover my saved Drive Image – my personal stuff on D drive remains intact and untouched. Thus I can experiment with different programs – some suspect – to my heart's content in the knowledge that within 15 minutes I can have a recently saved image backup and running.

Our response:

Office update

Over the last 18 months we have moved to a new building that is rated at 98 percent of the building code, and we also have a brand new data centre, a new Cisco network and we recently released our new website at have had great positive feedback from many customers on the new website, so if you haven't had a chance to view it already please do so – we would love to hear your feedback too!

Actrix is always striving to keep improving in all facets of our services so that we continue to provide the high level of personal service you experience and also to make sure we continue improving our service to you.

Over the next 12 months we hope to be offering value added services such as on-line backup, a security program that will allow parents to restrict the amount of time their children are on Facebook, plus more.

We are also providing UFB Plus which is our unique and complete Ultra Fast Broadband solution to our customers who have fibre running past their homes and businesses. If you would like more information, this can be found at or you can talk to one of our team on 0800-228749.

If you would like to come in and visit the new office and data centre please feel free to get in touch with us and we will give you a tour and introduce you to the team.

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!

Down to the wire – Welcome to Down to the Wire, the story of New Zealand's Internet and how it changed our Nation. Featuring video interviews with over 50 Internet personalities and players brings alive a journey that has revolutionised our lives and shaped our future. Enjoy exploring the website, get connected and please don't hesitate to contribute.

Rad URLs – Want to know what the most popular articles on the internet are at any time? This site collects and orders links to articles based on how many times they're each shared on social networks, including Facebook and Twitter. This is cool because there's always something interesting to read, and it's great to be able to catch up on any news you may have missed.
Free documentaries – If you love free stuff and documentaries, you'll love this website which has collected and collated an awesome assortment of free documentaries you can watch any time. There are hundreds of documentaries and short films to watch, with topics ranging from sport and crime to conspiracy theories and war.
Clothing stain removal – There's nothing quite as annoying as getting a stain on your favourite shirt. This site has a neat chart which offers a unique way to remove all the different kinds of stains you can think of. So next time you get shoe polish on your trousers, or mustard on your shirt, make sure you visit this site.
19 things that are instant deal breakers on a first date – The creators of this page conducted a very scientific study into the biggest and baddest deal breakers for taking someone out on a first date. Their list includes things like not using an accurate photo in your dating profile and continuously talking about your old relationships, and each deal breaker is accompanied by a funny animation.
Plankton Portal – Plankton are a critically important food source. No plankton = No life in the ocean. This site takes a closer look at one of the ocean's smallest organisms, and explains just how important they are to the survival of just about every other organism in the ocean.
Constitute – This site has listed and recorded the constitutions of pretty much any and every country you cant hink of, and lets you read and compare the different rules and statutues each country was founded on. New Zealand isn't listed, probably because we don't have a constitution, though a number of our Pacfic neighbours specifically mention us in their own consitutions.
Museum of forgotten art supplies – Welcome, artists and aficionados alike, to the brand new home of The Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies, where tools of the trade that have died or have just about died a slow death are cheerfully exhibited – as well as those that perhaps don't get invited out to dinner as much as they used to!
Crapper Mapper – This fun and slightly disturbing quiz tests your knowledge of international toilets. People use different shapes and styles of toilets all around the world, so this quiz shows you a range of different types and shapes, and you have to guess the country it's from.
I Quit! – Looking for new employment? Time to quit your job? Quitting your job in a professional way can be quite a delicate process, so hundreds of thousands of people around the world have used one of these free resignation letter samples to quit their jobs since 1999. Now it's your turn! .

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Palmy all a-twitter with big Gigatown hopes: Internet 100 times faster than a standard broadband connection is within reach for Palmerston North, as the city jumps on the Gigatown bandwagon. Click here for more.

Get Home Safe app across the ditch: A smartphone app designed by a Kiwi entrepreneur which monitors users and ensures they get home safe has launched in Australia. Click here for more.

Decisions galore with broadband: Choosing a broadband plan involves getting immersed in a minefield of jargon and sifting through a multitude of options. Click here for more.

Mobile shopping on the rise: One in four mobile shoppers has been influenced by Facebook when buying online, with more than half swayed by some form of online promotion. Click here for more.

Daily deal boom waning: Daily deal sites have experienced an eight-fold increase in sales volumes since 2010, but as the market matures the boom is waning, a new survey shows. Click here for more.

TV recycling tops 100,000: More than 100,000 televisions have been recycled by RCN e-Cycle as part of the TV TakeBack initiative, with the entire country switching to digital transmission this weekend. Click here for more.

Corrections coy over Dotcom jailing: The Corrections Department is ducking allegations that prison authorities attempted to entrap Kim Dotcom and denied him basic hygiene at Mt Eden prison. Click here for more.

Essential for kids to be online, despite dangers: Parents willingly expose their children to the dangers of the internet because it is essential for them to be online, a visiting internet expert says. Click here for more.


Netflix orders four Marvel TV shows: Netflix is ramping up its original programming lineup with four new television series and one miniseries from Disney's Marvel unit, known for its success with The Avengers franchise based on super hero comic books. Click here for more.

Satellite falls, out of fuel: The European Space Agency says that one of its research satellites that ran out of fuel will most likely crash to Earth into the ocean or polar regions. Click here for more.

Smart home at your fingertips: If you have a smartphone or tablet and a wireless network, you're already halfway there to turning your home into something out of The Jetsons. Click here for more.

Social Media

Twitter stock slides after bumper debut: Twitter's stock slid more than 7 percent on its second trading day, after the popular short messaging service saw a huge first-day pop in what turned out to be a smooth public debut. Click here for more.

Twitter deemed suitable for Islamic investment: Shares in Twitter Inc have been found eligible for investment by Islamic funds, according to IdealRatings, a company that screens stocks to determine whether they meet Muslim principles. Click here for more.

Twitter in celebrity spat with Facebook: Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga are the most followed celebrities on Twitter, yet the pop stars have even more "likes" on Facebook. Click here for more.

Vietnam fines social media 'propaganda': Vietnam will hand out fines of 100 million dong (NZ$5814) to anyone criticising the government on social media, under a new law announced this week, the latest measure in a widening crackdown on dissent by the country's communist rulers. Click here for more.

Skype censorship blocked in China: Microsoft has made it harder to monitor calls and chats over its Skype phone service in China, a freedom of expression advocacy group said, as the Chinese government steps up censorship of the internet. Click here for more.

Social media spurring China liberalisation: The rise of social media in China will lead to liberalisation, and as more people go online China's government will be powerless to halt the changes, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, says. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

Big, curvy iPhones coming: Apple Inc is developing new iPhone designs including bigger screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, Bloomberg reported, citing a unnamed person familiar with the plans. Click here for more.

Hundreds of millions at stake in retrial: In what has become a ritual, US District Judge Lucy Koh last week finished off a pretrial hearing in the patent showdown between Apple and Samsung by removing her reading glasses, looking down at the armada of lawyers and asking plaintively, "You sure you want to do this?" Click here for more.

Smartphones seen tripling to 5.6b by 2019: The number of smartphones in the world is forecast to triple to 5.6 billion globally by 2019, accounting for more than 60 per cent of cellphones. Click here for more.

Copyright vs Piracy

Film group backs antipiracy curriculum: When it comes to learning about the evils of internet piracy, Hollywood studios and the major music labels want kids to start young. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Cyber 'war game' to test London banks: Thousands of staff across dozens of London financial firms will be put through a "war games" scenario to test how well they can handle a major cyber attack, people familiar with the matter said. Click here for more.

Wales: US spying harms internet freedom: The United States' alleged large-scale surveillance of global communications networks will badly harm the US cloud computing industry, the founder of Wikipedia said on Thursday. Click here for more.

Did Snowden use other NSA workers' passwords?: Former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden used login credentials and passwords provided unwittingly by colleagues at a spy base in Hawaii to access some of the classified material he leaked to the media, sources said. Click here for more.

Adobe user data found online after hack: A computer security firm has uncovered data it says belongs to 152 million Adobe user accounts, suggesting that a breach reported a month ago is far bigger than Adobe has so far disclosed and is one of the largest on record. Click here for more.

Hacking is now a part of our digital lives: Hacking is making headlines yet again as the shadowy world of international espionage and intrigue is exposed to the glare of the media spotlight. Click here for more.

Privacy activists find new home in Berlin: SANCTUARY: The Reichstag building, seat of the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, is pictured though a flag depicting fugitive former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Click here for more.

Assange a 'New York Times problem': Julian Assange isn't about to walk out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London, despite fresh claims by US officials that he's unlikely to face charges for publishing top secret documents. Click here for more.

NSA fingered in Dotcom scandal: Kim Dotcom's lawyers have accused the government's electronic spy agency and police of deliberately withholding information crucial to their court case. Click here for more.

UN backing universal privacy right: The UN General Assembly's human rights committee has unanimously adopted a resolution sponsored by Brazil and Germany to protect the right to privacy against unlawful surveillance, following months of reports about US eavesdropping abroad. Click here for more.

Stalking complaint filed against McAfee: Anti-virus software entrepreneur John McAfee has been evicted from his Portland apartment and hit with a civil stalking complaint. Click here for more.

Adobe breach notifications stretched out: Adobe says it is taking longer than expected to warn customers about a massive data breach that compromised data on tens of millions of people, leaving some in the dark 10 weeks after the attack was discovered. Click here for more.

Spies worried by 'doomsday' cache: British and US intelligence officials say they are worried about a "doomsday" cache of highly classified, heavily encrypted material they believe former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has stored on a data cloud. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

PETA against cyborg cockroaches: A science education kit that lets children implant electrodes into a cockroach's brain and then control the beetle with a smartphone app has the protest group, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, up in arms. Click here for more.

Motorola plans smartphone receiver tattoo: Google-owned smartphone maker Motorola has applied for a patent for an "electronic tattoo" on people's necks that doubles as a mobile microphone, lie detector and digital display. 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.

Big ISPs score poorly: Telecom and Vodafone are among the worst-performing Internet service providers, according to a Consumer New Zealand survey. Click here for more.

How Google knows everything about you: Google knows just about everything about you – even if, in the unlikely event, you've never used their search engine. Click here for more.

China sacks drunk official outed on internet: China's ministry of transport has fired an official in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen after photos and video clips of his drunken misbehaviour in a seafood restaurant appeared online. Click here for more.

Study shows how spammers cash in: Spammers are turning a profit despite only getting one response for every 12.5m e-mails they send, finds a study. Click here for more.

Net addiction declared disorder : Do you spend more than six hours a day on the internet, suffer withdrawal symptoms if your server crashes and obsessively check your email? You could have internet addiction disorder. 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 December, and have a very merry Christmas!

Rob Zorn 


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