Actrix Online Informer – October 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.
Welcome to the September Actrix Online Informer
Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for October 2014. This month we look at how to spring clean your computer. Yes, even computers need a spring clean, both inside and out, to get rid of the dust and old files, and get it running like new again. This month we look at cleaning the hardware, and next month will take a good look at cleaning your software. We also have an update about some cool new features at Actrix, including our exlcusive tool Faceblock.
Is it true that one human year is equal to seven dog years? Do sunflowers really track the sun across the sky? Did the Brontosaurus even exist?
In this month's YouTube feature Hank Green answers those questions and more in a quick-fire video that empties "your brain of 50 common misconceptions, myths, rumours, and old wives tales about science" in under eight minutes.
At Actrix we believe our customers are looking for more personal engagement – with real people when they seek support. We are aware many organisations are making it harder to ring to speak to customer services, and some even force you to use their online channels first. We know mutual satisfaction is created when your queries are handled in a prompt manner and we've made this a top priority.
New service improvements mean less waiting
In our last update we announced a new call handling system was being deployed at Actrix, and those who've rung recently have experienced the difference. We're delighted to announce real benefits to our customers who find themselves needing Real Kiwi Service, so here's what to expect now when you contact Actrix:
We want to help ensure you receive the service that you are expecting from us. If you know of a friend, family member, or business associate who might appreciate this level of service, please send them our way with confidence.
We are excited to announce Actrix Faceblock: an exclusive tool which allows you to have better control over how your Actrix internet connection is used by allowing you to limit access to Facebook at various times.
Actrix Faceblock is ideal for parents and students alike: parents may wish to create blackout times during dinner or homework time, for example. Many students have also expressed interest in having a central way to toggle the potential distraction of Facebook on and off.
Faceblock is able to be activated from a mobile phone or your work computer. Activation blocks access to Facebook via your Actrix connection for the period of time you choose. There is no requirement to be at home, so it's great for working parents who have children at home after school.
Right now, Faceblock is offered on a non-commit trial basis to all customers who think they can make use of such a clever tool.
To sign up for Actrix Faceblock, check out http://go.actrix.co.nz/faceblock.
We're now in the middle of spring, which means the weather is getting warmer (supposedly), we get to enjoy more daylight hours, and it's also time to give the house a spring clean. A good spring clean means you brush away the dusty cobwebs and look forward to enjoying the warm weather in a cleaner environment.
Interestingly, we recommend you consider giving your computer the same kind of treatment. Depending on how old your computer is, chances are it's covered in hidden dust and grime and bloated with unnecessary files, empty folders and outdated programmes that all come together to make it run slower than molasses.
But when your computer gets slow or clunky, that doesn't mean you need to think about buying a new one. With a few tweaks, scans and updates, you can have your computer running smoothly again.
So here are a few tips for spring cleaning your computer. This month we'll focus on the hardware – the physical stuff your computer's made of, including the keyboard, mouse, screen and case. We'll look at the software next month.
Step 1 – the keyboard
Start by turning the computer off and unpluging everything. It might pay to move it to an area where you can get all around it too. You don't want to be doing this in a confined space or with lots of cords restricting your movement.
The keyboard is regularly overlooked when it comes to cleaning, but if you take a look at your keyboard now, you'll probably see why it's important to look. Go on, get your face nice and close to the keyboard, and you'll see bits of food, dust and other unidentified particles sitting between the keys. It makes sense, since the keyboard is the part of your computer most commonly touched, so it's more likely to be bacteria laden and in need of a clean. Luckily, the keyboard can be cleaned very easily with a few household items.
First, we want to get rid of the dust. Find yourself a soft-bristled brush and give the keyboard a sweep. It should be able to move over the keys removing the dust without actually pushing the keys. That should get rid of most of the dust, but some can often remain where the brush's bristles can't reach. If you can get one, use a can of compressed air to get in those hard to reach places.
If the dust if more of a serious problem, and there's still a problem after using the brush and air-can, get your vacuum cleaner and attach the brush to the hose. This'll help you scrub off those stubborn dust bunnies, and make sure you follow up with the soft brush or air can again to make sure it's all gone.
Regular use of a keyboard is more than enough to breed a whole lotta bacteria and filth on your keys. If you want to get rid of those germs it pays to disinfect your keys, but be wary about using certain types of disinfectant sprays – most sprays are quite strong, and you don't want to keep your hands in contact with them for very long. Some sprays are labelled "electronic friendly", so use these if possible.
A good solution is isopropyl alcohol, which is relatively cheap. Don't use ethyl, which is harsher, unless you want to take the letters off your keyboard. If it's around 60 percent alcohol, that should be fine. Take a little alcohol solution and moisten an old rag or a paper towel with it. Don't pour it onto the keyboard... a wet paper towel is more than enough. Scrub it over the tops of the keys, and use a wet cotton swab to go down in between the keys.
If you're feeling brave, take a look at the towel and swab. Gross!
Step 2 – the mouse
Your mouse spends the day skittering across your desk and it can track plenty of dirt. Use the same alcohol solution we used to clean the keyboard and dab it on a swab and run it over the underside of the mouse and through any cracks and crevices. Then take a cloth dipped in the solution and go over the body of the mouse and the cord.
If you're using an older mouse that still uses a ball to track movements, remove the underside of the mouse and take out the ball. Give it a good wipe down too, and then use a swab to clean the inside of the mouse. Pay special attention to the sensors that make contact with the ball. Give these a good clean and you may notice your mouse moves more easily across your desk and responds better too.
Step 3 – the screen
I don't know about you, but it really bugs me if there are smears on my computer screen! Luckily screens are easy to clean too. Start with a rag and spray a household cleaner onto the rag, and run it over the outer edges of the screen. These are usually made of plastic, so it's ok to use a little elbow grease to get rid of anything stubborn.
You'll need to use a new cloth to clean the screen itself. Microfiber cloth is ideal becuase it's anti-static technology means it doesn't leave a lint residue on the screen, and it's soft enough that it won't scratch the surface. Give the screen a good wipe of any visible dust, dirt and grime
Don't press hard on the screen or try to scrub it. You might damage it and cause discoloration next time you turn it on.
The trick to cleaning screens is to be gentle and patient.
Step 4 – the rest
The rest of your computer is easy to clean. Take the same cloth you used to clean the outside of the computer and run it over the surface of your hard-drive casing and any cords you use too.
While dust inside your computer can slow it down and cause some its components to fail, cleaning the inside of your computer is another story. It involves removing panels which in many cases means voiding your warranty, so we recommend you make sure you know what you're doing before making an attempt to clean inside.
If you'd like to what needs to be done and how to do it, WikiHow have created this easy to follow guide.
Please note: Actrix supplies links to these sites for your interest and possible use. We cannot endorse or take any responsibility for their contents.
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Cyberspace news snippets
What's been happening in the online world?
Te Papa exhibits used in app trial: Wellington startup Stqry is changing the way people view exhibitions, and the global revolution starts at Te Papa before being launched at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in the US. Click here for more.
Baboom capital raising now 'open-ended': Baboom, the online music venture founded by Kim Dotcom, has scrapped the deadline for its A$4.5 million (NZ$4.97m) capital raising, which it now says is open-ended. Click here for more.
Google Maps enters third dimension: If you cannot afford a house in Auckland, you can now at least ogle them on your computer in 3-D. Click here for more.
Ultrafast broadband network set to expand: The four companies building the ultrafast broadband network have expressed some interest in helping to expand the network to a further 5 percent of the population. Click here for more.
Out with the .co and .org, and in with the .nz: Thousands of Kiwi websites are planning to ditch the "co" and go with simpler new rules heralding changes to web addresses. Click here for more.
A domain by any other name...: If you thought you had obtained the best possible New Zealand domain name for your business, stand by to be screwed. If that was some time ago, then stand by to be really shafted by a greedy inept authority you have had no control over. Click here for more.
Helen Clark email scam in circulation: Along with Nigerian princes, private loan firms, and sob story scammers, Helen Clark has been added to the junk mail list. Click here for more.
Get a grip and avoid buyer's remorse: Buying a new piece of technology is fun, from doing the research to the unboxing of the device when you get home. Click here for more.
A Closer Look: Your (online) life after death: Sure, you have a lot to do today - laundry, bills, dinner - but it's never too early to start planning for your digital afterlife, the fate of your numerous online accounts once you shed this mortal coil. Click here for more.
Good smart, bad smart - the joys of tech: You want to lose weight and track your physical activity, so you buy an Apple Watch that constantly records your vital signs. Click here for more.
Website tally hits 1 billion: If Tim Berners-Lee is the father of the World Wide Web, he's just had his billionth child. Click here for more.
Evan Thornley causes stir with 'sexist' comments: Australian technology entrepreneur and former Victorian MP Evan Thornley says he "stuffed up" when he told a Sydney technology start-up conference that women were "often relatively cheap" to hire compared to men. Click here for more.
Facebook working on private sharing app: Facebook is reportedly working on a new app designed to encourage private content sharing - by making the process even more personal. Click here for more.
Drag stars dress down Facebook name rule: San Francisco drag queens are sparring with Facebook over its policy requiring people to use their real names, rather than drag names such as Pollo Del Mar and Heklina. Click here for more.
More victims emerge from scammers prowling Facebook: The number of people being scammed through Facebook has almost doubled in the year to date, with fraudsters increasingly prowling popular buying and selling groups. Click here for more.
How to access your drafts and lists in the new Twitter app: Twitter released an iOS 8 friendly update last week that included a new profile design and interactive notifications. Click here for more.
Model sisters sue Snapchat over pictures: Snapchat will be hoping this lawsuit lasts about as long as one of its pictures. The phone application – which deletes images after 10 seconds or less - is being sued by two sisters who, they claim, unwittingly became the face of the operation. Click here for more.
I tried out Cuddlr: the 'Tinder for cuddling': Scrolling around Charlie Williams's new app, Cuddlr - proudly billed as the "Tinder for cuddling" – you get the sense that maybe Williams hasn't spent a whole lot of time online. Click here for more.
Smart policing counting on tweeting cops: Social media and technology are must-have tools for police, according to leading law enforcement agencies in the United States. Click here for more.
What's up with Ello, the anti-Facebook?: By now, you've probably heard something about Ello, the ad-free, invite-only, independent social network that has seemingly gone viral over the last week. Click here for more.
Apple vs. Android vs. Amazon
Eight things to know about iOS 8: With the hype of the iPhone launch all over, the focus for Apple fans moves to the software that runs on the company's popular devices. Click here for more.
Apple lets you delete U2 after outcry: Apple users are no longer stuck with a free U2 album they don't want. Apple gave away U2's new album Songs of Innocence to half a billion users of its iTunes software last week, to a chorus of outraged customers who didn't want it on their devices. Click here for more.
iOS 8 software bug affects health apps: Apple said a bug in its HealthKit health and fitness application platform prevented its release along with the launch of its iOS 8 operating system for iPhones and iPads. Click here for more.
Apple's biggest iOS release: Apple's new mobile operating system launched overnight to a mix of anticipation and frustration. Click here for more.
How to get iOS 8 and keep your photos: If you've tried downloading iOS 8, or know anyone who has already done so, you're probably familiar with the biggest complaint: The download is huge. Click here for more.
Apple releases iOS 8.0.2 to fix earlier fail: Apple has issued a new version of its operating system update that it believes will fix a problem that prevented some buyers of its new iPhone 6 smartphones from making calls. Click here for more.
Amazon expands hardware lab: Amazon.com will boost staffing at its secretive Silicon Valley-based hardware unit by at least 27 percent over the next five years as it tests internet-connected "smart" home gadgets such as a one-button device to order supplies. Click here for more.
Life changing app for the blind: Jonathan Mosen, who has been blind since birth, spent his evening snapping photos of packages in the mail, his son's school report and labels on bottles in the fridge. In seconds, he was listening to audio of the printed words the camera captured, courtesy of a new app on his Apple iPhone. Click here for more.
Copyright vs Piracy
Aussie anti-piracy push 'will see higher prices': Australians would pay more to legally download music and movies under federal government proposals to tackle online piracy, with the vast bulk of the extra revenue flowing to overseas companies rather than the local production sector, according to two of the country's top economists. Click here for more.
Dear Rupert: Google hits back over piracy: Google has hit back against criticisms by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, arguing the US internet giant has done more than "almost any other company to help tackle online piracy" and denying its online search power is anti-competitive. Click here for more.
Security and Privacy
Govts pressure Google for more user info: Google said it was facing increasing pressure from governments around the world to reveal user information in criminal investigations amid ongoing revelations about national surveillance programs. Click here for more.
Open Internet gaining ground on web rules: Months of debate and more than 1 million comments about rules for web traffic may have moved US regulators to consider tougher standards for wireless networks that connect smartphones and tablets. Click here for more.
FCC presses experts on mobile 'net neutrality': US Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler urged consumer advocates and wireless industry representatives to address how wireless carriers might be allowed to "reasonably manage" their internet networks. Click here for more.
Regulators prep 'right to be forgotten' guide: European regulators are working on guidelines for appeals from people whose requests to remove information from search results under their name have been turned down by search engines such as Google. Click here for more.
GCSB clarifies 'Project Speargun': The Government Communications Security Bureau has tightened its defence over claims of mass surveillance by confirming the term "Project Speargun" was used to describe an abandoned element of a proposed cyber defence system. Click here for more.
The entire Australian web can be monitored: Australia's spy agency could soon have the power to monitor the entire Australian internet after new anti-terrorism laws passed the Senate on Thursday night. Click here for more.
Google gets new EU privacy guidlines: European data privacy regulators have handed Google a package of guidelines to help it bring the way it collects and stores user data in line with EU law after six regulators opened investigations into the internet giant. Click here for more.
Shellshock bug exploits Bash flaw: A new security vulnerability found in everything from iPhones and laptops to light bulbs and web cameras has been dubbed by security experts as worse than Heartbleed, the bug found earlier this year that affected almost every device. Click here for more.
Aussie govt 'bullied' to pass security laws: Controversial anti-terrorism laws expected to pass in the Australian Senate as early as this week will give the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation the power to monitor the entire internet, the government has confirmed. Click here for more.
The man who found the web's 'most dangerous' bug: It was a bug that lurked in software found on hundreds of millions of devices for 21 years, leaving them vulnerable to hackers, who may have known of its existence. Click here for more.
Bash may be bigger threat than Heartbleed: A newly discovered security bug in a widely used piece of Linux software, known as "Bash", could pose a bigger threat to computer users than the "Heartbleed" bug that surfaced in April, cyber experts have warned. Click here for more.
EU may probe Google's non-search services: Google, the target of an EU antitrust investigation into its internet search engine, may face further scrutiny over its other services following several complaints. Click here for more.
The Weird, Wide Web
Gosling baby inspires Twitter parody: The newborn daughter of actors Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes already has a Twitter account. Click here for more.
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.
New internet copyright law on the way: A solution to the thorny issue of policing copyright laws on the internet is on the way, Commerce Minister Simon Power said today. He released submissions on a proposed three phase process to allow copyright holders to pursue those who breach their rights. Click here for more.
Using Twitter to prevent suicides: A new Twitter feed has been set up to promote suicide prevention in New Zealand. Click here for more.
Facebook Lite now in NZ too: Facebook has released a slimmed-down version of its social networking website. Click here for more.
Faster rural internet a step closer: Faster internet is on the way for rural New Zealand after the Government outlined speed and coverage targets. Click here for more.
Not enough Facebook friends? Buy them: Who says you can't buy friends? An Australian online marketing company is selling friends and fans to Facebook members after offering a similar service to Twitter users. Click here for more.
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