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Actrix Online Informer – May 2016

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 – best little ISP in New Zealand

Welcome to the March Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for May 2016. This month we take a look back at April Fools Day – how it came about and a New Zealand prank stories that made us laugh!

We also look at an article recently posted online about being addicted to social media. Is that you? Do you need to join a SocialMedia-aholics group? 


YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is a prank pulled by YouTube in 2012, where they offered users their complete catalogue of videos on DVD! There was also an "interactivity kit" which allowed you to post (literally) your comments to the creators of YouTube.

A short history of April Fools Day (featuring cows in nappies)

The first day in April each year is known as "April Fool's Day" – it showcases numerous online pranks, pranks between co-workers and family members and is potentially the only day of the year you would get away with the daft behaviour that it initiates. Before we highlight to you some of the best online pranks of 2016, let's discuss in brief the history of April Fool's Day.

There are actually many tales as to how this day came about. This one seems the most likely, or at least the most entertaining for us to share with you. It dates back to 1564, when France formally changed its calendar to the modern Gregorian version, and thereby moved the celebration of the New Year from the last week of March to 1 January instead. Those who chose to ignore this change in France and therefore still celebrated New Year's week on 1 April were then to be known as "poissons d'Avril", French for "fools". Whether this be the true origin or not is hard to tell as online there are literally dozens of stories about how this day came about.

One of the most memorable pranks for 2016 in New Zealand was the cow nappy announcement:

"There are too many cows making too much waste for our environment to handle. Cow nappies are a simple way to keep that waste off the land and out of our waterways," said Green Party co-leader James Shaw. Yes that's right, the Green Party announced at member's bill that to reduce environmental degradation as a result of dairy intensification they were requiring all cows to wear nappies. The announcement went as follows…

"Cow number 1s and 2s are responsible for degradation of our waterways through run-off and leaching. Cow nappies will keep our water safe from pollution. Organic fair trade, gluten-free, kale hemp nappies have been developed by local community groups and are available in calf, heifer and bull sizes. Cow nappies save our environment and provide good green jobs.

"Not only are these nappies biodegradable and carbon neutral they also neutralise methane emissions. The best thing is that cow nappies are 100 percent sustainable. Just whip them off Daisy at the milking shed and add them to your permaculture biodynamic compost bio digester. No need for artificial fertiliser. With the number of cows in New Zealand right now, there's plenty of demand for cow nappies.

"The material they are produced from – organic kale hemp – can even be grown on the roof of the Beehive. New Zealanders are leaders at finding solutions to the world's problems – it's in our number 8 wire attitude. Years from now, people will be saying New Zealanders have a cow nappy attitude, that's how ground-breaking these things are," said Mr Shaw.

More April Fools in New Zealand

In New Zealand we don't tend to go as far as the Americans when it comes to April Fools, but that doesn't mean we don't know how to pull a prank or two. Here are some interesting New Zealand-related media releases that just happened to be released on April Fools Day 2016!

And here are a few more stories from around the world for your inspiration:

Addicted to social media? Try an e-fasting plan

Stuff, 5 April 2016

Social media is a double-edged sword, providing both benefits and drawbacks.

Social media may be becoming more pervasive in our lives and habit-forming, but rather than seeking solace through social media our time can be utilised more effectively in more gratifying activities of life.

So some rehabilitative action may be warranted. Perhaps even "e-fasting".

How to unplug from social media

Fasting is defined as the practice of abstaining from food. Electronic fasting (e-fasting) can be seen as abstention from electronic devices and services, such as smartphones and social media.

In order to put an end to the obsessive behaviour towards social media, it is important to try to abstain from it or at least regulate usage occasionally.

Total abstinence from social media may not possible, but the following five tips (in no particular order) could help to alleviate social media addiction, in the form of e-fasting.

1. Abstain from social media

Decide on a specific day when you will stay clear of social media. This might increase your anxiety in the short term, but the time away will enable you to perform other activities.

If you can do it for one day, then next time try two days or a weekend. When you get back to your social media, you can establish a better disciplined access routine.

2. Self-regulate

Set some rules that only allow you to connect to social media at specific times of the day. For example, browsing for a limited time in the evening or not browsing when in bed.

3. Limit checks on social media

It is not a good idea to keep checking social media pages without a specific aim. The algorithms of social media feeds are designed to keep users hooked by projecting information higher in feeds, based on users' past interactions. Think of the urge to check incessantly and consider whether it is important or can wait for another time.

4. Disable alerts and notification

This will mean that you are not constantly reminded of messages by your social media platform. Adopting a pull-based approach of your notifications over a push-based approach will lead to fewer interruptions too. This should reduce the desire to check social media constantly.

5. Remove social media apps from your smartphone

If disabling alerts and notifications does not do the trick, consider deleting social media apps completely from your smartphone. As most people access social media platforms from their smartphone, removing these apps would mean less ease of access. You will then only have access to social media from a personal computer.


The aim of e-fasting is to enable you to reclaim your life, achieve a balance of life and not become hostage to social media.

As with any diet or fasting regime, there's no one-size-fits-all formula, but the self-control and discipline tips I've listed should go some way to reducing your social media addiction. E-fasting has the potential to become a new fad to treat social media addiction and detox your life.

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!

Primate – Primate is all about making new friends and forging new connections. Find friends in your vicinity who share similar interests to you!

Fake Name Generator – With 37 languages and 31 countries, the Fake Name Generator is the most advanced name generator on the internet. Generate names, addresses, social security numbers, credit card numbers, occupations, UPS tracking numbers, and more absolutely free. The website also advises about good uses for the names you create.

A Good Movie To Watch – Do you sit down for a cruisy night with a pizza and Netflicks and then spend forever deciding what to watch? This generator is the perfect website for you to bookmark. It allows you to place in your location and then suggests (either by most popular or at random) a movie for you to watch. Decision made.

Can I Stream It? – is a free service created by Urban Pixels that allows you to search across the most popular streaming, rental, and purchase services to find where a movie is available. If the movie you're looking for is not available, just sign-up, set a reminder and voila they will shoot you an email when your chosen service makes the movie available. It's simple and fast. – works by counting backwards in sleep cycles. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle leaves you feeling tired and groggy, but waking up in between cycles leaves you feeling refreshed and alert! Put in the duration you want to go to sleep and it will calculate when you need to go to sleep, giving around four options.

How Many People Are In Space Right Now? – Ever sit and wonder, "How many people are in space right now?"…. no, probably not…. But now that we have mentioned it, you are intrigued, right? Jump on the website and have a look at the personal profiles of people who are currently hanging out amongst the stars.
Nothing for 2 minutes – We live in an incredibly fast paced world. There are always things to do and always people waiting on us. Every so often though, you need to regroup and focus on nothing for 2 minutes. Open up this website and do the test. 2 minutes… that's all it takes.
Are You Getting Old? – Do you think time is catching up with you? Perhaps it's already overtaken you and left you in the dust. Do the years seem to be going ridiculously quickly now? There's a reason for it. You're getting old.
Weave Silk – This is totally a time killing website. Here you can draw interactive generative art. You can use different colours to draw the picture and you can save the pictures you draw.
Awwwards – Achieving a well designed logo requires really hard work. This web page shows us 99 of the most creative logos online. Brilliant.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Netflix crackdown in New Zealand takes hold

Netflix warned in January that people outside the United States trying to watch content on the American catalogue would find it difficult to reach the service through VPN, but it seems to have taken three months for the crackdown to really be felt in New Zealand.

Click here for more.

Tired at work in the afternoon? Turn off your phone at lunchtime

f work is leaving you drained, try turning off your smartphone at lunchtime. A study found that those who played on their phone during their lunch break were more tired during the afternoon than those who went for a walk or read a book. This may be because they used up more mental energy - or simply because their eyes were strained or their necks were cricked.

Click here for more.

Why NZ industry must work together to slow the tidal wave of spam

The "hush-hush" attitude of professional services firms and their IT providers when they experience a data security breach is adding force to the tidal wave of cyber-attacks continuing to devastate New Zealand businesses.

Click here for more.

Xero signals new direction with NZ small business health check initiative

Small business in New Zealand will have access to an "unprecedented level of data" unveiled by Xero, in the form of Xero Signals. According to the Kiwi cloud accounting firm, the initiative is based on aggregated data from almost 10,000 businesses across New Zealand and surveys of approximately 500 nationally representative small businesses and 1300 Xero customers.

Click here for more.

2016 New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards - And the finalists are…

A record number of new companies from across New Zealand have entered the 2016 Hi-Tech Awards. Hi-Tech Trust Chair Wayne Norrie says the standard of entries is the highest yet seen in the 22 years that the event has been held.

Click here for more.

First New Zealand industry-accredited computing degrees announced

Institutions now offering accredited and industry-endorsed computing degrees include AUT University, Eastern Institute of Technology (EIT), Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT), Massey University, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) and Whitireia New Zealand.

Click here for more.


People interpret identical emojis differently

Hannah Miller, a third-year PhD student at the University of Minnesota, posted the findings on the GroupLens blog. Miller said she researches human-computer interaction, studying how to design technology to improve quality of life and social interaction.

Click here for more.

This optical illusion will have you questioning what you actually know about colour

If, thanks to the surge of optical illusions sweeping the world of late, you feel like you have no idea how your brain actually works, prepare to feel even more confused.

Click here for more.

Google's Chrome browser scraps support for XP, Vista, older versions of Mac OS X

The push for us to upgrade our old computers continues, with the latest version of Google's Chrome web browser dropping support for operating systems prior to Windows 7 and Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks.

Click here for more.

Panasonic launches 4K Smart Ultra HD 2016 TV range

Panasonic New Zealand has announced the first of its 2016 line-up of 4K Smart Ultra-High Definition (UHD) TVs. Panasonic's new generation of 4K Smart Ultra HD TVs offer advanced smart features and easy-access content, improved image quality, brightness, colours, and new 'Switch Design' pedestals.

Click here for more.

A week with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro

Apple's latest iPad Pro packs the internals of the 13-inch model in the same space as the 9.7-inch iPad Air. Prices start at NZ$1050. The 9.7-inch iPad Air is more expensive than many laptops, but then Apple says it's more powerful. After a week of using it as my main, but not only, computer, it's clear some people will find it more useful than a laptop.

Click here for more.

Social Media

How Facebook is trying to get you to share more personal information

Facebook, like an old "friend" from high school who wants to get coffee and catch up some time, wishes it knew more about your personal life. At least, that's according to a couple of reports this week outlining a sharp decline in "original," personal posts from its users, and what Facebook is trying to do to reverse the trend.

Click here for more.

Sneaking social media time

Almost half of Kiwis in the workforce are checking their social media pages on their mobile phones at work, while a third think it is OK to use their phones while driving.

Click here for more.

Facebook vents direct complaints to cyberspace, not problem solvers

Maybe your coffee was terrible or you thought one of the kids at school was picking on your child. Is a Facebook rant your first response? Keyboard warriors are sharing their frustrations online, often before they go to the people who could fix them.

Click here for more.

How to read your 'secret' Facebook messages

A "secret" Facebook Messenger inbox may contain messages you have no idea you received and may even want to read. It turns out you don't always get a notification to alert you when someone you are not friends with on Facebook sends you a message.

Click here for more.

Apple vs. Android vs. Amazon vs. Microsoft

It's on ... Amazon targets Netflix with stand-alone streaming service

Amazon is taking on Netflix and Hulu with its own stand-alone video streaming service, just weeks before Netflix raises prices for longtime subscribers.

Click here for more.

iPhones last just three years says Apple

If your iPhone conks out after three years, you might feel shortchanged. But for Apple it's all part of the plan. On its website, the US technology firm admits it expects the mobile devices to last only 36 months.

Click here for more.

What is Amazon thinking with its crazy-expensive e-reader?

Amazon's Kindle Oasis, released Wednesday, has a US$290 price tag -- and, at least to me, offers some interesting cues about how the company's hardware strategy has evolved.

Click here for more.

Apple finds a way to make people care about the planet

Apple's recent efforts to trumpet its green initiatives have largely been about supply chain and manufacturing, but on Thursday the company unveiled a splashy new initiative aimed at its millions of customers.

Click here for more.

Clinton Carpene: How secure is your smartphone's lockscreen?

The fact that the FBI managed to hack the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter without Apple's help raises questions about whether PIN codes and swipe patterns are as secure as we think.

Click here for more.

Six of the best iPhone SE accessories

It's been just a couple of weeks since Apple released the iPhone SE, a device to appease to the iPhone-loving crowd who don't want a giant phone. The phone itself is ... fine. Nothing innovative and new, but that's alright. Those of you who went out to buy one, or plan on doing so in the near future, probably want to kit out your new device with some extra bits and pieces.

Click here for more.

Security and Privacy

'Impostor' email spike as scammers pretend to be your boss

Australians are being urged to think twice before transferring funds or handing over sensitive information at work amid a global spike in business-focused spear-phishing attacks, with scammers duping employees by pretending to be senior management.

Click here for more.

The best encryption apps for your smartphone

The topic of smartphone security and secure communication is front and centre these days, thanks to the battle between Apple and the FBI over opening up an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, mass shooters.

Click here for more.

Apple, Android, BlackBerry phones: Which is more vulnerable to hackers?

"The tech industry tries to build the most secure products possible," says Harvey Anderson, chief legal officer at computer security company AVG Technologies. There's no real way for consumers to protect themselves against the privacy concerns raised by possible government-mandated backdoors in mainstream phones on the market today.

Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

How my Apple Watch saved my life

I woke up feeling a bit odd. I strapped on my Apple Watch, unlocked the iPhone, and then felt for my pulse on my right wrist. Soon I was in the hospital cardiac unit for observation and treatment.

Click here for more.

People are taking pictures on the UK's first designated 'selfie bench'

A council in Wales installed two seats facing the road, apparently to give people weary of the ocean view another option – and allow them to comfortably take a seaside selfie.

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.

Internet's new boom arrives in Kiwiland: Are rising internet company stocks globally just another false "dotcom" dawn or should Kiwi companies be doing all they can to jump on the bandwagon? Click here for more.

Fibre ready homes 'anything but': Some new homes built in areas marketed as "fibre ready" do not have the wiring to support ultra-fast broadband, says an industry standards group. Click here for more.

NZ up in global IT rankings: New Zealand has improved its position in global rankings measuring how countries take advantage of new technology, moving closer to overtaking Australia. Click here for more.

TradeMe cheat vows to repay: A woman accused of scamming more than $10,000 from Trade Me online shoppers says she will repay her victims. Click here for more.

Groceries not high on online shopping list: The number of Kiwis shopping online is at an all-time high, but picking up the milk and bread is not top of the shopping list. Click here for more.

New Zealand territory world leader in cybercrime: The tiny New Zealand territory of Tokelau has become a world leader in cyber-crime. Click here for more.

Online buyers lose $100,000: Nearly 40 people who bought cars on Trade Me have lost a combined $100,000 after the seller put his company into voluntary liquidation. Click here for more.

Be sociable for success: Small businesses need to think about faster bandwidth and the rise of social networking when setting up online, says a business lecturer. Click here for more.

Average Kiwi has 124 Facebook friends: UMR Research says 70 percent of Kiwis' Facebook friends are people they haven't seen since school, and 35 percent are friends with someone they've never met in person. Click here for more.

Broadband connections double in five years: Fixed broadband connections have more than doubled in the last five years, to reach 61 percent of households, latest research has revealed. Click here for more.

ISPs could recoup just $2 per copyright notice: Internet service providers may end up being able to recoup as little as $2 for sending out detection, warning or enforcement notices under the controversial online file-sharing amendments to the Copyright Act; but they may persuade government to let them charge as much as $28. 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 May!

Rob Zorn 


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