January 2015 topics  





    Past articles  





    Past Online Informers  





    January 2015 topics  





    Actrix contact info  





    Essential sites  





    January 2015 topics  





Actrix Online Informer – January 2015

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 January Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for January 2015, and thank you for your loyal support throughout the year. We with you a merry holiday season with friends and family, and a wonderful 2015!  

This month we provide a follow-on from our recent articles on spring cleaning your computer with a quick look at a few ways you can speed up your Mac.

We also look at some of the most popular searches us Kiwis have been typing into Google over 2014, and give you some advice on setting up a "Holiday Reminder" in your emails, in case you're heading abroad.

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is a short video taken of one of the craziest intersections we've ever seen. This 4-way intersection in Ethiopia has more than 6 lanes of traffic coming from all directions, but has no road markings or traffic lights. You'd think it would be accidents galore, and yet everyone just waits patiently for a gap before going on their way.


Rob Zorn

How to clean and speed up your Mac

A couple of months ago we featured a couple of articles on giving your Windows PCs a spring clean. We received a great response to the articles, but a number of people asked us to do something similar for Mac users. We heard you, we listened, and here you go!

If your Mac has been running a little slower than normal, it might be time to give it a spring clean too. However, before we go installing new software and deleting old files, it's definitely a good idea to back up your system first! If you're an experienced Mac user, you'll know all about Time Machine, Apple's awesome back up programme. If you're not familiar with Time Machine, look it up – because it could come in very handy one day.

Click here to learn more about Time Machine.

One of the best ways to get your Mac cranking like it did the day you brought it home is to add more RAM. This can be a relatively cheap and super effective way to boost performance, but shouldn't be attempted if you don't know much about computers. Luckily, there's still a lot you can do to rid your Mac of its sluggish ways.

Step 1: Reduce log-in items

If your system is slow to start up, then you might have too many apps and programs set to launch when you log in. Go to System Preferences > Users & Groups and then click on the Login Items tab to see a list of the apps that open when you boot your Mac. Uncheck the apps you don't need at startup.

Step 2: Clean your memory

When you system is dragging, the first place you should go to for answers is the Activity Monitor. The Activity Monitor is a built-in application that shows which of your open applications are using the most system resources. Click on the Memory tab at the top and then sort the list by Memory to see which apps are occupying the most memory. Close any apps that are using a considerable amount and you should see performance improve.

There are also a number of memory-optimisation apps that can help you keep an eye on your memory usage and free up memory resources. Memory Diag installs an icon in the menu bar and lets you click a button to empty any cached material and lower compressed memory in an effort to improve performance. It's particularly useful after you close a memory-intensive app because it will clean up the caches the app left scattered in system memory. Also helpful are the apps which Memory Diag lists that are using a significant amount of memory.

Memory Clean is similar to Memory Diag. It lets you purge caches and other needless items to free up more memory, but it lists in the menu bar the amount (or percentage, if you so choose) of free memory you have at any given moment. The figure it displays is dynamic, giving you something akin to real-time monitoring of your memory usage, and the figure will turn red should it dip below a threshold that you set.

Step 3: Clean your hard drive

You don't have to be a photographer or filmmaker or musician to find that your Mac's hard drive is nearing capacity. (Of course, if you have large libraries or photos, videos, and songs, then you'll arrive there sooner.) As with memory, you can turn to a built-in application or some inexpensive third-party apps to clean up your hard drive.

The built-in application is Disk Utility, which you can use to repair disk permissions. When you install an app on your Mac, the piece of software arrives as part of a package of files, including permissions that tell OS X which users can do what things with specific files. Over time, these permissions can get changed, resulting in your Mac lagging, freezing, or crashing. Repairing disk permissions, in the most basic terms, amounts to reshuffling and re-dealing these permissions so that they return to their rightful place.

Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to repair disk permissions.

Repairing disk permissions may or may not have a large effect on the overall performance of your Mac. A more likely culprit of sluggish behaviour is your hard drive is simply too full. And it's a near certainty that you have files stashed on your hard drive that are just taking up space. Thankfully, there are a number of apps that can help you find and remove useless files on your hard drive, including HD Cleaner and CleanMyMac2.

Step 4: Take out the trash

Of course, you can manually search through your Downloads folder via Finder and delete the files you no longer need. And Finder lets you search for large files. To do so, open Finder and select the volume you'd like to search. Next, choose File > Find (or hit Command-F). Click on the Kind pull-down menu and select Other. When the "Select a search attribute" window opens, check the box for File Size, uncheck any other boxes, and click OK. Change the "equals" pull-down menu option to "is greater than" and then change KB to MB. Enter a minimum files file size such as, say, 100MB. You can then delete any files that show up on the list that you no longer need – or move them to an external drive at the very least.

Top Kiwi Google searches of 2014

Originally published at Stuff.co.nz, 17 December 2014.

Kiwis want to know how to draw but seem to have a good handle on twerking.

Those were just a few of queries revealed by the most searched terms on Google by New Zealanders in 2014, giving a snapshot of the stories and trends that have captured the nation's imagination this year.

The Fifa World Cup was the most searched term by Kiwis on Google this year, closely followed by comedian Robin Williams, who took his own life in August, and the Commonwealth Games.

Kiwis seemed to want to get better at art, as the most popular "how to" search was how to draw - the same as in 2013.

Meanwhile, "how to twerk" held its spot at number eight on that list but vanished completely from the "what is" list after being the most searched "what is" in 2013.

Twerking is a form of dancing involving people – predominantly woman – gyrating their hips at great speed.

It was replaced by Ebola for the top "what is" spot, with what is love, what is gluten and what is ALS all trailing behind – the latter being spurred on by the rise of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

The most searched news item was the Malaysian Airlines crash – including both the MH17 and MH370 crashes.

Cyclone Lusi and Scottish Independence were second and third but in fourth was the story of Alex from Target.

Alex was an adorable teenager working at the American department store Target, who shot to internet fame when someone snapped a photo of him and posted it to Twitter with the hashtag #AlexFromTarget.

He gained 100,000s of followers on Twitter almost solely for his good looks, appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and gained widespread popularity among fawning teenage girls.

He was clearly popular in New Zealand, with more news searches about him than Ukraine, the Wellington earthquakes or the Ebola outbreak.

The most searched New Zealander was – predictably – Lorde.

All Black Aaron Smith was in second, perhaps as much for his Snapchat prowess as his play on the field. The little half back had a series of rather large and explicit photos of himself leaked online in August.

Radio host and journalist Rachel Smalley was the third most searched for Kiwi after calling New Zealand women "heifers" and "a bunch of lardos" live on air.

Jesus made it back to the top of the "who is" search list after slipping to fourth in 2013, while who is Shiva and who is Macklemore also made the top five.

Curiously, two New Zealand places where nothing really happened during 2014 snuck into the "where is" top 10. "Where is Kawau" and "where is Balclutha" were in eighth and ninth spot respectively.

Football appeared popular in New Zealand, with five of the top 10 sports searches related to the game.

The recipe for pancakes again topped the list of searched recipes, followed by banana cake and chicken.

New Zealand top searches:

  1. Fifa World Cup
  2. Robin Williams
  3. Commonwealth Games
  4. Malaysia Airlines
  5. iPhone 6
  6. Jennifer Lawrence
  7. Charlotte Dawson
  8. Flappy Bird
  9. Spark
  10. Ebola

Top "how to" searches:

  1. Draw
  2. Meditate
  3. Crochet
  4. Screenshot
  5. Kiss
  6. Pronounce
  7. Sing
  8. Twerk
  9. Knit
  10. Dream

Top "what is" searches:

  1. Ebola
  2. Love
  3. Gluten
  4. ALS
  5. Sustainability
  6. Illuminati
  7. Science
  8. Paleo
  9. Tahini
  10. Bipolar

Top news item searches:

  1. Malaysian Airlines crash
  2. Cyclone Lusi
  3. Scottish Independence
  4. Alex from Target
  5. Ukraine news
  6. Robin Williams' death
  7. Ebola outbreak
  8. Wellington earthquake
  9. Cyclone Ita
  10. Lunar eclipse

Top Kiwis searched:

  1. Lorde
  2. Aaron Smith
  3. Rachel Smalley
  4. Lisa Lewis
  5. Mark Hunt
  6. Joseph Parker
  7. Benji Marshall
  8. Chris Cairns
  9. Mona Dotcom
  10. Stephen Donald

Top sports searched:

  1. Fifa World Cup
  2. All Blacks
  3. BBC Football
  4. Commonwealth Games
  5. WWE
  6. Arsenal
  7. EPL
  8. ESPN
  9. Ronaldo
  10. Soccernet

Setting up a Holiday Message

If you're going away these holidays and won't be checking your email for a while you can set-up a vacation message, or auto-reply on your Actrix email address. That way people emailing you will know you won't be getting back to them as quickly as usual. There is no charge for this service.

You can also use Vacation Messaging if you use a special domain name for your email address (e.g. user@domain.co.nz) that points to an Actrix email address. To do so enter your user@domain.co.nz address into the "From" field.

To get to Vacation Messaging, click Services in the main menu on the Actrix home page, and then Email/Vacation Messaging in the dropdown menu. Click the login to My Actrix link, enter your user name and password, and it's all pretty easy from there.

Don't forget to remove the auto-reply when you get back, though. You can do it using the same process as outlined above. When you log back in, however, there will be a button available allowing you to remove the auto-reply with a single mouse click.

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!

Every noise at once
http://everynoise.com/engenremap.html – Our online maestro Tom on the Actrix Support team found this cool site which helps you discover new music genres and artists. With EveryNoise nothing is left to the imagination, from Danish Pop to Memphis Hip Hop. The site works by clicking a genre, or searching by artist. You're presented with a brief audio preview of the genre and can then explore related artists.

Crime Reports
www.crimereports.com – Crime Reports lets you keep an eagle-eyed view on your neighbourhood – but only if you live in Canada, the United States or the United Kingdom. The site blends Google Maps with local police data, pinpointing where crimes have recently occurred and which types of crimes they were. Each crime features a send-to-a-friend link so you can let your neighbours know what's going on, and you can create email alerts to stay informed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. So while it's not of much use to us New Zealanders, it still makes for some interesting viewing.

https://filethis.com/ – Connect FileThis to the various services you use each month – banking, credit cards, utilities and the like – and it'll automatically pull in your statements and paperwork from each one, storing it all for you online, on your computer or in one of several popular cloud-based storage services. There's a free plan that connects to six services, with 12- and 30-connection plans running between $2 and $5 (USD) per month.
http://forgotify.com – Streaming music service Spotify proudly boasts more than 20 million songs in its catalogue, but the truth is that no one's listened to nearly a quarter of those tracks. Forgotify finds those unheard songs and gives them an ear. Even if you don't end up with great stuff, just think how happy Mustafa Chaushev will be that some hipster in the United States finally listened to his masterwork.
http://genius.com – Once known as RapGenius, the site is in the midst of reinventing itself as a place where news, historical documents and cultural artefacts can all be annotated by the crowds. (You might even see some creators swing by to mark up their own work.) But it's still at its best as a place to dissect the meaning of your favourite song, down to every line.
Have I Been Pwned?
https://haveibeenpwned.com – Have I Been Pwned? collects the email addresses and usernames exposed by various high-profile hacks to let you know if your personal data has been compromised. Simply enter an email address or username you commonly use and the site will cross-check it against recent data breaches, telling you which companies leaked your data and which types of data have been leaked.
Haiku Deck
www.haikudeck.com – While Microsoft PowerPoint is still the standard program for making presentations, using its cluttered interface kind of feels like being trapped in a cubicle. Haiku Deck, by comparison, is actually fun to use, and doesn't demand much know-how in order to start creating sharp-looking slideshows. Keep it in mind the next time you need to make a presentation outside your nine-to-five.
http://glyde.com – When it comes to selling your gadgets and video games, Glyde looks to split the difference between auction sites and trade-in sites. The result is that you'll generally make more money than you would from a trade-in site, with less of a hassle than going through the listing process at auction sites. Once someone commits to buying your stuff, Glyde will also ship you a pre-labelled box to fill up and send out.
http://flapmmo.com – The Flappy Bird craze hit its peak around February of this year, but you'll still find a fair amount of people playing FlapMMO – arguably the game's cleverest spin-off. It's just like the original game, requiring you to tap a button to flap between vertical pipes, except there are dozens of other people controlling their own birds, trying to survive for longer. It's funny to see all these birds engaged in this hopeless struggle – and kind of sad when you get good enough to leave them behind.
www.fitocracy.com – Billing itself as a "health and fitness social network," Fitocracy turns working out into a game, letting you unlock achievements, take on "quests," duel other Fitocracy members and level up along the way. You can join a team of other Fitocracy users based on which goals you're trying to accomplish, facilitating discussion and encouragement between your team and your online coach.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Trade Me buys Viewing Tracker company: A one-man software business that lets property managers accept appointments to view rental properties online has been bought by Trade Me. Click here for more.

For Auckland mates, podcasting not the worst idea after all: Two guys in a flat in Grey Lynn, central Auckland, watching a movie and bantering about a Skype call they're going to make later. Nothing unusual about that. Click here for more.

Google loon balloons float over capital: A cluster of balloons floating past Wellington overnight appear to be nothing more than internet "loon balloons". Click here for more.

Kiwi's 3D-printed record player a worldwide hit: A working vinyl record player made with a 3D printer by an innovative Kiwi is gaining worldwide attention. Click here for more.

Wellington tops internet 'maturity': Wellington businesses are leading the way making the most use of the internet, according to research by non-profit company The Digital Office. Click here for more.

Tech titans tell Kiwi startups 'it's okay to be ambitious': Silicon Valley's biggest brains think Kiwi entrepreneurs are quickly catching up to them. Click here for more.


Tech is ruining our memory, but why?: Two people walk into a seminar: one takes photos, video and an audio recording of the presentation, while the other takes hand-written notes. Which person do you think will better recall the information? Click here for more.

YouTube rewinds your 2014 favourites: Kind of a crazy year. 2014. You may not realise how many strange and wonderful things popped up on our collective radar until you see this recap from YouTube. Click here for more.

Uber blocked from Brazil to California: Uber Technologies has hit an increasing pileup of regulatory and legal hurdles this week, with its mobile application challenged from India to California. Click here for more.

Tech summit addresses industry's lack of diversity: US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson spent most of this year pressuring the technology industry into facing up to the glaring scarcity of women, blacks and Latinos at companies renowned as great places to work. Click here for more.

Is the internet a 'human right'?: The computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web has called for affordable access to the internet to be recognised as a human right, as a report showed that billions of people still cannot go online and government surveillance and censorship are on the rise. Click here for more.

Gangnam becomes hot spot for startups: The uber-trendy Seoul neighbourhood made famous by the Gangnam Style K-pop hit is known for status-conscious people, plastic surgery clinics and Ivy League prep schools. Now it's making a name as a bustling centre for tech startups. Click here for more.

Spain's Google News to go dark over tax video: Google says it will shut down its Google News service in Spain to prevent publishers' content from appearing on it - ahead of a new law requiring the internet search company to pay Spanish news organisations for linked content or snippets of news. Click here for more.

Sleep cycles disrupted by electronic devices: Bedrooms are supposed to be a place of temptation for adults. But it seems we are succumbing to a temptation of a different kind, with almost half the population unable to resist the urge to take laptops and other electronic devices into bed, thereby setting themselves up for a bad night's sleep. Click here for more.

Study: Teens doing less homework: The internet could be to blame for a drop in homework hours done by teens throughout the developed world, according to a report from the OECD. Click here for more.

Memewhile ... how cats won the internet (and helped kickstart the Arab Spring): The world's oldest two-faced cat died in the US last week. The passing of Frank-and-Louie, as he was known, was noted by news outlets an astonishing 1.3 million times. Posts on social media quite possibly outnumbered grains of sand on Bondi Beach. Click here for more.

US rules may clip drone wings: Americans shopping for toy remote-controlled airplanes or helicopters may find, sometime in the near future, that they come with unexpected accessories: A raft of new regulations. Click here for more.

What it takes to make Kickstarter's staff pick you: Entrepreneurs and other users have been seeking the secret to getting their projects selected as a "Staff Pick" - a designation that one of Kickstarter's 98 employees can give a project based on his or her personal tastes. Click here for more.

Social Media

Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou is closing gender gap: Thanks to this 27-year-old, the social scrapbooking site has lifted the number of female software developers it employs by 5 per cent in one year. It's not a huge increase but she had no particular target, quota or even affirmative action in sight. Click here for more.

Apple vs. Android vs. Amazon

Amazon introduces 'make an offer' service: For the first time, the largest US online retailer is letting some third-party sellers offer an option where interested buyers can make an offer on an item lower than the listed price. Click here for more.

Ex-Apple engineer's app turns an iPad into a Mac display: Duet Display is an app designed to get you some extra use out of your iPad. Click here for more.

Copyright and piracy

No harsh penalties for Aussie downloaders: Australians will be blocked from accessing popular overseas websites hosting pirated movies and TV shows but would escape punishment for downloading illicit content under copyright law proposals being presented to federal cabinet on Tuesday. Click here for more.

Pirate Bay taken down after police raid: Swedish file-sharing website The Pirate Bay was taken down after Swedish police seized servers and computers from a server room in Stockholm. Click here for more.

Pirate Bay has 'no soul' says co-founder: So this is how it may end for the Pirate Bay: two of its founders imprisoned, its offices in Sweden raided, its website bounced from the internet. Click here for more.

Abbott govt issues piracy ultimatum to ISPs: Australians caught downloading illicit content will be warned to stop and internet companies will be compelled to help film and music companies take legal action against repeat copyright infringers, under government changes. Click here for more.

YouTube: death threats don't trump copyright: An actress who says she got death threats over a performance used in an anti-Islam YouTube clip has made enemies of Google and Hollywood, which say her bid to erase it from the internet is making "Swiss cheese" of US copyright law. Click here for more.

Security and Privacy

'Hackers' demand Interview not be released: A group that claimed to be responsible for the massive computer hack at Sony Pictures Entertainment demanded that the company cancel the release of The Interview, a comedy that depicts an assassination plot against North Korea's leader. Click here for more.

FBI: 'No attribution' to N Korea in hack: A senior FBI official says that the agency has not confirmed widely held suspicions that North Korea is behind the unprecedented cyber attack on Sony's Hollywood studio. Click here for more.

Introducing automatic password changers: A French-American start-up launched an automatic password changer in an attempt to remove the all-too-human frailty that has rendered the phrase "computer security" a worrying oxymoron, leading a rival US software firm to launch a similar service. Click here for more.

Eight lessons from the Sony Pictures hack: While movie giant Sony Pictures Entertainment is dealing with one of the biggest known corporate-hacking incidents to date, the rest of the world is learning. Click here for more.

North Korea linked to Sony hack after all: United States investigators are once again saying North Korea was behind the cyber attack on Sony's Hollywood studio. Click here for more.

Sony hackers' 9/11 threat not credible: Two US security officials cast doubt on a threat against theatres planning to show Sony's controversial movie about an assassination of the leader of North Korea, but police across the America vowed to take extra precautions. Click here for more.

Hackers post alleged police passwords: A group claiming to be Anonymous has posted what it claims are New Zealand police officers' email passwords online in retaliation for Swedish authorities' seizure of a popular file sharing site. Click here for more.

Sony threatens to sue for publishing emails: A lawyer representing Sony Pictures Entertainment is warning news organisations not to publish details of company files leaked by hackers in one of the largest digital breaches ever against an American company. Click here for more.

Google faces $21m fine for privacy violations: Google could be fined up 15 million (NZ$21.4 million) if it does not stop violating the privacy of Internet users in the Netherlands, the Dutch data protection agency said on Monday. Click here for more.

Anonymous targets Sweden over Pirate Bay: A "hacktivist" group using the Anonymous banner claims it has leaked official login details of Swedish government email accounts as payback for last week's raid that shut down The Pirate Bay. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Know your teen's acronyms: Parents who consider themselves text savvy because they know the meaning of the acronyms LOL and OMG should think again. 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.

TradeMe pulls cash auction: An Auckland man came up with an unusual way of circumventing parental well-meaning, listing their strings-attached cash gift on auction website TradeMe. Alex Dyer, 25, started the auction for his $10,000 last Friday with a $1 reserve. Click here for more.

Website makes Kiwi rite of passage easier: Learning to drive over the summer holidays has long been a rite of passage for Kiwi teenagers and a nerve-wracking experience for the parents teaching them. Click here for more.

Florist faces landmark cyber-crime court case: The first hint of trouble for florist Natasha Sefton-Zachan was when customers told her Google Maps had her phone number wrong. So the businesswoman from Taradale near Napier went online to find out what was going on. Click here for more.

Kiwi spammer fined $260,000: A New Zealander accused of being the mastermind of the world's largest online spam operation, which could send 10 billion emails a day, has been fined A$210,000. Click here for more.

Crowded Reality in web TV show : Reality-TV shows have become all the rage and three Wellington friends have high hopes their website-driven drama will snap up a slice of the action. 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 January, and happy new year!

Rob Zorn


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