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Actrix Online Informer – July 2014

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 – best little ISP in New Zealand

Welcome to the July Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for July 2014. This month we celebrate the internet's 25th birthday by taking a look back at how some of our favourite websites used to look. From Google to Facebook, you might be shocked and surprised to see how ugly these websites used to be (or how our standards for what we think looks cool have risen).

We also round things off with 10 interesting facts we're certain you didn't know about Facebook.

YouTube feature

In this month's YouTube feature we meet Frane Selak, who, depending how you look at it, is easily the worlds luckiest or unluckiest man. His story has to be seen to believed, but it involves crashing trains, falling from planes and winning the lottery. Wikipedia on Frane Selak.


Rob Zorn

How your favourite websites used to look

The world-wide-web turned a quarter of a century old this year – in which time the Berlin Wall came down, we've witnessed one of the worst financial crises ever and the All Blacks finally won another World Cup. To celebrate, here's something you may have forgotten from the last 25 years – how some of your favourite websites used to look.


While the company's design doesn't seem to have changed a whole lot, its services and capabilities sure have. Created by Stanford PhD students Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Google officially launched in 1998, and the interface was so simple because the founders didn't know HTML and were looking for a quick design.


The video sharing website that brought us hits like "Charlie bit my finger" and "Sneezing panda" first launched in February 2005 with a practically empty interface and no evidence of videos. The first video uploaded to the site was created by one of YouTube's founders, Jawed Karim, and was titled "Me at the Zoo." It was a 19-second clip of him in front of elephants at the San Diego Zoo.


Facebook – or should I say Thefacebook – was created by Mark Zuckerberg in February 2004. As the original interface indicates, the site was only available for Harvard University students, which eventually expanded to today's billion users across the world. The interface also featured the image of a man's face in the upper left hand corner, a digitally manipulated photo of Al Pacino.


An acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle," Yahoo was the product of another Stanford duo, Jerry Yang and David Filo. In March 1995 the site was heralded as the first online navigational guide to the web. The original interface featured a simple search bar and hyperlinks to other websites, but soon became a sleek, personalised news website.


The Mecca of online shopping can trace its roots back to 1995, when it was primarily an online bookstore. Jeffrey Bezos named the site after the Amazon River. The original site contained small text and icons, which still informs its most recent design.


This barely recognisable design was the first concept of co-founder Jack Dorsey back in July 2006. It featured the word "Twttr," which was inspired by Flickr and SMS shortcode (which always includes five characters). Although the interface design has changed at least six times in the last five years, that hasn't deterred its more than 100 million users.

New York Times

While the history of the print publication dates back to 1851, its website only traces back to 1996. As you can see, the interface features a smaller webpage and only one photo, as opposed to the much larger and photo-heavy site we visit today.


Launched in August 2003 as a competitor to Friendster, MySpace's original design was pretty bland. When MySpace skyrocketed to popularity between 2005 and 2008, News Corp. bought the social networking site for $580 million. Although it holds the former title of most-visited site on the Internet, MySpace has sharply declined in the past few years. The site recently sold to Specific Media and Justin Timberlake for a miniscule $35 million.


This not-very-attractive-looking grey homepage grew into the world's largest auction site, connecting the world through the commerce of buying and selling. Founder Pierre Omidyar actually wanted to call it echobay.com, but as the domain was already registered to a gold mining company, he shortened it to eBay.


Touted as the professional social network, LinkedIn was launched in 2003 by Reid Hoffman. In the United States alone it boasts more than a billion users, some 29.9 percent of the population, and displayed a surprisingly sophisticated homepage from the very start.


The comprehensive online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia has altered forever how entire generations access information. While it hasn't changed dramatically since its inception in 2001 in terms of appearance, the site now hosts more than 30 million articles.


Enticing internet users with the offer of a free CD-ROM, Apple.com is a world away from its current incarnation, but already demonstrates the company's dedication to the colour white. The Apple eMate 300 advertised on the right of the page was a short-lived digital assistant from 1997 to 1998.

10 things you probably didn't know about Facebook

Last month we looked at 10 things you probably didn't know about the internet – this month we bring you 10 things you probably didn't know about Facebook. Enjoy!

  1. You can set your language settings to "Pirate". Just go to Settings, then Language, and choose English (Pirate), and all the standard Facebook terms will be translated into pirate talk – Aaaaaar me hearties.
  2. If "Pirate mode" isn't to your liking then try "Upside-down Facebook" instead. Again, go to Settings, then Language, and choose English (Upside Down) – it might be a good one for pranking your friends who leave their computers unattended while logged in to Facebook.
  3. Apparently back when Facebook was still relatively young, developers left bizarre messages on the bottom of every page. "That's a negative, Ghostrider. The pattern is full," was one such example, with other random messages referring to quails also inserted in the fine print.
  4. Facebook actually owns a number of anti-Facebook domain names including: "I hate the Facebook like button", "Like button sucks" and "I hate Facebook credits."
  5. A third of all divorce filings in 2011 contained the word "Facebook".
  6. For a while Facebook offered anyone $500 if they could hack past the security settings.
  7. Internet entrepreneur Steve Chen worked at Facebook for a few months before quitting to set up a small website called YouTube!
  8. The average Facebook user has 130 friends.
  9. A 2013 survey of Facebook users found that 25 percent had been "dumped" via Facebook (via their significant other updating his or her relationship status).
  10. According to the Guinness Book of Records, on 30 March 2013, Guru Shri Rajendraji Maharaj Jaap Club (India) achieved the most comments ever made on a Facebook post. A whopping 15,626,405 people decided to have their say on his page.

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!

Uncomfortable Moments With Putin
http://uncomfortablemomentswithputin.tumblr.com/ – Russian President Vladimir Putin has never been one to shy away from a photo opportunity. The internet went crazy when he released a bunch of shirtless photos of himself riding horses in the Russian wilderness. However, it appears not everyone is so thrilled to have their photos taken with the Russian leader, and this small site has the proof.

936 little blobs
http://abstrusegoose.com/51 – We think of a lifetime as a very long amount of time. But when you consider that the average lifespan is 936 months, and when you see your life represented as 936 little blobs on a page, you realise how short it really is. And even more depressing is seeing what other more famous people had accomplished in their lifetime by the time they were your age.

Awesome people hanging out together
http://awesomepeoplehangingouttogether.tumblr.com/ – Getting a photo of yourself with a famous person is pretty cool. But managing to get two famous people in the same photo is even cooler. This site has a whole bunch of photos of famous people hanging out together. There's a photo of Chuck Berry and Lorde, of Kurt Godel and Albert Einstein, and there's a photo of Patti Smith and Lou Reed.
www.wimp.com – If you've ever had a few minutes to kill, and not known what to do, this might be the site just for you. Every day a bunch of some of the best new YouTube videos is added to the site with a brief description. All of the videos are family friendly, so it's great for the kids too.
Internet in real time
http://pennystocks.la/internet-in-real-time/ – There are a few companies that make serious money through the internet. Facebook and Google have their own advertising schemes, Apple has its App Store, Netflix has its subscribers and Amazon has one of the largest online stores on the internet. But if you've ever wondered how much money these companies are actually making, check out this site, which gives you a real-time indication of their revenue.
Cannes Lions Advertising Awards
http://winners.canneslions.com/2014/index.cfm – Cannes Lions is the world's biggest annual awards show and festival for professionals in the creative communications industry. This site features the shortlists and winners for some of the best commercials in the past 12 months. These ads are hilarious, thought-provoking and quite genius.
The Luis Suarez Biting Game
http://games.usvsth3m.com/the-luis-suarez-biting-game/ – The controversial biting incident at the FIFA World Cup is only a week old, and already someone's created a game that lets you test whether you're a better biter than Luis Suarez. How many players can you bite before you get hit with the yellow and red cards? Be warned, this game features a little bit of blood!
Making celebrities look ugly
www.newscientist.com/blogs/nstv/2012/05/best-illusions-of-the-year-making-brad-pitt-look-ugly.html – Brad Pitt may look attractive when seen head on. But an illusion that presents photos viewed in your peripheral vision shows how pretty faces can quickly look ugly. The effect was discovered accidentally by a psychology student while looking at photos for another experiment. He went on to study the illusion with colleagues who discovered that the distortion occurs when the eyes of a series of photos are aligned and presented quickly in succession. The transformation is caused by differences between faces that follow each other, for example big eyes will seem to bulge if preceded by squinting eyes. Clear as mud?
Hello Run
http://hellorun.helloenjoy.com/ – Hello Run is a great browser-based game that lets users navigate their way around a maze of tunnels using the mouse or keyboard controls. The game is very simple, and the point is to get as far through the maze while avoiding obstacles and lasers. Despite its simplicity, it's extremely addictive, so don't start unless you intend to give up the rest of your day. By the way, our record is 11. What's yours?
Just Delete Me
http://justdelete.me/ – Have you ever created an account for something, but then wished you hadn't, and wanted to delete it? You're not alone. These days if you want to purchase something online, or ask a question in a forum, you need to register to create an account. That's the easy part. The hard part is deleting that account, which can prove to be a nightmare. This site has a collection of hundreds of different sites that offer account registrations, and tells you the method for deleting your account on each. Simple!

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

MP claims IT report falls short: Concerns that New Zealanders and Australians are paying over the odds for software, digital entertainment and computer gadgets are back under the spotlight. Click here for more.

Coastlines NZ surf brand catches SAP software wave: Kiwi surf and beach brand Coastlines has announced a partnership with software firm SAP, allowing the company to run all of its operations in the cloud. Click here for more.

Dotcom party comes down hard on Copyright Law: People wanting to watch TV blockbusters such as Game of Thrones at the same time as the rest of the world will benefit from changes to copyright law proposed by the Internet Party. Click here for more.

Wellington IT pros… What are YOU earning?: The first half of the year saw certain areas in demand in Wellington in IT, widely renowned as the tech capital of New Zealand. Click here for more.

Auckland IT pros… What are YOU earning?: The first half of 2014 was busier than usual in Auckland's IT recruitment market, even in January, traditionally the quietest month of the year. Click here for more.

IT jobs in NZ… What's in demand?: New projects were the key drivers of demand for IT professionals across New Zealand in the last six months, according to the latest report from specialist recruitment consultancy Robert Walters. Click here for more.

T1red of p@sswords? Y0u @re Nt @lone!: Good thing she doesn't need a password to get into heaven. That's what Donna Spinner often mutters when she tries to remember the growing list of letter-number-and-symbol codes she's had to create to access her various online accounts. Click here for more.


US auctions 30,000 bitcoins from raid: The US Marshals Service has auctioned off about 30,000 bitcoins seized during a raid on Silk Road, an internet black-market bazaar where authorities say illegal drugs and other goods could be bought. Click here for more.

Google execs in Cuba to promote open internet: A team of top Google executives is visiting Cuba to promote open internet access, according to a dissident blogger who says she met the group in Havana. Click here for more.

Playable Kickstarter-funded games hit 100: Backing a project on Kickstarter is always a gamble. Even if a crowdfunding campaign gains traction and meets its funding goal, there is never any guarantee that the project and its associated rewards will ever be delivered. Click here for more.

Big US broadcasters crush internet upstart: The United State's Supreme Court's ruling against Aereo is a huge deal - not because it'll upend the American TV industry, as some may have hoped, but because of the disruption it won't cause. Click here for more.

Social Media

Are you as happy as Facebook says you are?: Are you as happy as your Facebook page says you are? A new short film satires how people report their setbacks on Facebook. Click here for more.

Anger at Facebook's emotion experiment: A recently published study that manipulated Facebook News Feeds has sparked outrage among users who are criticising the ethics behind the experiment, which was conducted by Facebook and several universities. Click here for more.

Would you use Facebook for work chats?: Facebook is reportedly building an at-work version of its social network, according to TechCrunch. Click here for more.

War and tweets: War and technology have long travelled an intertwining path, with war changing technology and technology changing war. War brought us barbed wire. Technology brought us sarin gas. War brought us the internet. Technology brought us atomic bombs. Click here for more.

How to stop Facebook snooping on you: Privacy advocates are mounting a campaign against Facebook's recently announced plans to extend their harvesting of users' personal data beyond the Facebook site. Click here for more.

Status update: Facebook not so diverse: Facebook, the world's most popular social network, released statistics on the makeup of its workforce that do not reflect the demographics of its users around the globe. Click here for more.

Russia asks Twitter to block accounts: Russia has asked Twitter to block access to a dozen accounts it deems "extremist", the head of the country's telecoms watchdog said, as Moscow seeks greater control over internet sites based beyond its borders. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

Apps bring speed reading to the digital age: Speed reading has been around for more than half a century, but new apps are bringing the technique into the digital age, helping users breeze through books faster. Click here for more.

Snowballing your fun...: Gearing up for the snow season can be costly, but some gadgets will make life easier on the slopes or add an extra element of fun. Click here for more.

Security and Privacy

NSA release first transparency report: The US government on Friday for the first time released data on the scope of some of its most sensitive foreign intelligence-gathering efforts, saying that it had targeted nearly 90,000 foreign persons or organisations for surveillance through US companies last year. Click here for more.

Google begins editing European results: Google has begun deleting some search results at the request of its users, following a court ruling that European Union citizens have a right to ask for the removal of embarrassing personal information that pops up on a search of their names. Click here for more.

Net neutrality protest arrest at Google campus: A protest by a group calling itself Occupy Google resulted in the arrest of 10 people late Tuesday night after they refused to leave the Internet giant's campus, according to police. Click here for more.

US will allow EU citizens to sue over data: President Barack Obama's administration will push the US Congress to enact legislation to give European Union citizens the right to sue in the United States if they think their private data has been released or misused, the US attorney general has said. Click here for more.

Dating site exposed 254,000 Aussie lonely hearts: Australian online dating company Cupid Media breached the Privacy Act by failing to take reasonable steps to secure the personal information of 254,000 Australians held on its dating websites, the privacy commissioner has found. Click here for more.

Indie labels turn to EU over YouTube row: Music trade association Impala has asked European Union antitrust regulators to intervene in a row with Google's YouTube over its paid streaming music service, saying some conditions demanded by the company were anti-competitive. Click here for more.

Experts reveal police hacking methods: Law enforcement agencies across the globe are taking a page out of the hacker's handbook, using targets' own phones and computers to spy on them with methods traditionally associated with cybercriminals, two computer security groups have said. Click here for more.

US warrantless bulk surveillance ruled legal: A federal judge has affirmed the legality of the US government's secret, warrantless bulk phone and email data collection in denying an Oregon man's motion to dismiss his terrorism conviction. Click here for more.

Heartbleed: Hundreds of thousands vulnerable: Two months after Heartbleed, 300,000 web servers are still vulnerable to the OpenSSL vulnerability. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Seinfeld's guide to internet etiquettevideo: You might not want to actually follow his advice. Apart from the bit about filming a concert with an iPad. You should follow that one. 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.

Is Anne Tolley more risky than a junkie?: What do Amy Winehouse and Anne Tolley have in common? The troubled singer and our education minister both feature in the top 10 most "dangerous" internet searches in New Zealand. Click here for more.

Kiwis spend less time online: New Zealand adults spend nearly 50 percent less time on the internet than other adults worldwide, a new survey shows. Click here for more.

Google Street View nabs Dutch muggers: Dutch police have arrested twin brothers on suspicion of robbery after their alleged victim spotted a picture of them following him on Google's Street View map application. Click here for more.

Wikipedia entries slag off Palmerston North: References to gang violence and crime on Palmerston North's Wikipedia page have seen overseas investors and professionals shy away from the city. Click here for more.

Trade Me grudge lands man in home detention: A man who began a vendetta against a senior employee of online auction site Trade Me after being banned from the website was today sentenced in Wellington District Court to home detention. 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 July!

Rob Zorn


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