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Actrix Online Informer – December 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 December Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for December 2016. This month we share some practical tips and advice for securing your digital life in half an hour... from choosing passwords to encrypting your data.

Our second feature article looks at some useful tips for making your searches on Google more effective.


YouTube feature – Canion Shijirbat: Graphic animation and Choreography

This month's YouTube feature is an incredible video of a talented dancer who entered Mongolia's Got Talent 2016 with a performance that certainly showcases the artistic possibilities of today's technology. Pre-animated visuals he designed himself play behind him on a screen as he dances in time with the story.

All this shows us that a classic performance can be completely transformed through the use of inventive, imaginative and totally inspiring technology!

Get your digital life secure in half an hour

What if we told you you could have total digital privacy in less than an hour? Did you ever imagine it could be so easy to encrypt your way to freedom from trackers and hackers? This article offers a few quick-fire tips to help you take control of your digital security, from mobile to desktop and beyond:

Double the security on your Gmail account

Have you ever stopped to think just how much personal information you have laying around your Gmail inbox? Tickets, password reset links, private exchanges and even card details are scattered throughout old emails... this is a hacker’s version of paradise!

We'll put it this way: if your email is compromised, then you can pretty much guarantee everything else will be. Yes... everything.

The best way to ensure the security of your Gmail is to implement a two-step verification process. It's easy to set up with this step by step tutorial:

Google 2 Step Verification 

Hackers might be able to break down one one stage of your security, but they’ll find it altogether impossible breaking through two!

'Hide' your hard drive

It's simple to keep your hard drive a secret by simply encrypting it! All the data on your disk will have built-in encryption capability. Follow the links below for either Windows or Mac:

Set up a password for your phone... or two!

The harder it is to break into your device the better! Think of your phone as a front door... if it's relying on a tiny little chain to prevent break-ins from happening, then you're probably in trouble! Do more than an obvious pin or pattern – use a long, complicated password in conjunction with other unlocking methods for best protective results.

Never the same password

Even the great Mark Zuckerberg had his accounts all hacked at one stage. The reason: his password was "dadada" – everywhere! Such a simple, repetitive password was just begging to be hacked. As we've noted in previous articles, it doesn't take a computer that's compromised you long to sail through all the characters on your keyboard and figure your password out!

If you want total security across all your online accounts then you've got two steps to put into action: make the password difficult to crack, and change it up every time.

We are only human and therefore not the best at remembering a dozen odd passwords, so that's why they invented wonderful password management applications and browser add-ons such as 'LastPass'. LastPass randomly generates long, complicated passwords for all your chosen accounts and allows you access (through the application) with one master password. Should anyone manage to crack the password to any one of your accounts (doubtful), LastPass would have completely different passwords for all the others!

Have any of these tips got you rushing to top up the security on your devices? Are there any you already knew about, or any you'd like to share with us? Stay tuned for more privacy and security tips from in the future!

Snappier searching: three tips and tricks for browsing

What good is a vast cyberspace-full of helpful information if it's simply too tricky to access? Would you like to learn a few tricks that could shave minutes – maybe even hours – of your online browsing sessions?

Here are our our three top-tips for a more effective browsing experience that will bring you the results you want much faster (and more accurately).

One OR the other

This one is perfect for those moments when we can't recall if the subject we're searching for is one thing or the other. An example might be a search for a full name of which we might only be sure of the first or second names.

You can search variants and achieve a variations of results in one go by simply typing 'or' between each variant search word.

Synonym search results

Sometimes we need 'very' or 'best' results when we hunt for information online. Synonyms are deeply embedded within our language... but they're a little hard for our internet browsers to understand outside the specific phrase you've typed.

If you directly type a synonym in your search (for example, 'delicious cookie recipe'), then your browser will try and find that exact phrase rather than finding you an appropriately delicious cookie recipe.

To ensure you're not getting 'the delicious cookie recipe' and are, in fact, receiving delicious cookie recipe results... you're going to need to use this symbol: '~' with your phrase.

As per our example before: 'delicious ~cookie recipes'. It's that simple!

Website specific search results

Have you ever read something on a website that you've needed later, but could never find again? It's so easy to lose your place in a website these days – especially considering how vast and complex some of them can be! It is, however, totally possible to locate that content again in a generic internet browsing session if you can remember the name of your website.

To locate content in a specific website, simply type 'site:' and then the website into the Google search bar of your browser and THEN the keyword or phrase you can remember from the content you're trying to find again. This one is perfect for anyone who's ever lost a blog that they'd like to read again!

For example: Informer. Find out more detail here.

We'd like to keep you updated on more tips and tricks for effective, time-saving browsing in the future. Watch this space for more articles that will see your searches producing perfect results.

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!

Geonet – New Zealand has certainly been shaking a lot more than usual lately. You can keep track of our country's seismic activity on this website.

Modcloth – Modcloth is a treasure trove of quality retro-inspired clothing that's guaranteed to be different to whatever fashions you see sported around town these days. If clothes aren't what you're after, then their gift section could provide some perfect Christmas pressie inspiration! There's plenty to choose from.

Super Foods NZ – SuperFoodsNZ is a New Zealand-based online store that has all the health and wellbeing products you could ever need. They have a wide range of quality products, including health supplements, weight loss (HCG diet products), Herbal medicines, healthy food, teas, personal skin care, sugar free sweets and drinks.

Kaboompics (Kaboom Pics) – 'Do anything you want with them' photos for your wallpaper, social media banner, or business. Some great Christmas ones here too if you're a 'make your own cards' kind of person.

Forvo – Forvo is a super handy online pronunciation dictionary that will sound out words in different languages!

Google Play Movies – It's not Netflix, but it does have a huge range of very recent films you can buy and keep forever! Movies can be played on any device – super efficient for anyone on the move.
Instaread – With Instaread, you can get the summaries and key takeaways of New York Times bestsellers in 15 minutes. Perfect if you just want the gist of a story or do not have time to finish one.
Snopes – Snopes attempts to give accurate information about rumours and urban legends on a variety of topics. Very handy tool for checking some of those fake Facebook news articles.
Kauri Nest B&B – Next time you're travelling in Whangarei, check out the Kauri Nest B&B. You'll be surprised with the feeling of being in a lovely spacious villa in the countryside; yet you can walk 7-10 minutes along  and over the Hatea River past the marina to the town basin with its five cafes, art galleries, and much more – and from there it's only 3-5 minutes to the CBD.
Wellington Live (Facebook Page) – Whether you live in the capital or not, this Facebook feed seems to have an extremely accurate finger on the pulse! Tremors, evacuated buildings, police chases, robberies, and the odd photo of an especially beautiful day in Welly – this page has it all!

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Palmerston North brothers develop rugby simulator claimed to be "most advanced" in the world: TIn a Palmerston North garage, two brothers are working on what they believe is the world's most realistic rugby simulator. And they are not just stopping there, having just received a grant to make the simulator holographic. Gabe and Cain Redding set up Biological Systems Modelling and started developing the simulator software 10 years ago. Click here for more.

Website encourages shoppers to buy online while staying local: A website is encouraging Christmas shoppers to support family businesses by making it easier to find small shops around New Zealand online. Shay Starrenburg launched the Shop Small website after she struggled to find small New Zealand-based business online to buy from. Click here for more.

SMEs without a website 'miss out': More than half of New Zealand's small businesses have no website, placing them at a competitive disadvantage, BusinessNZ says. Just 41 per cent of New Zealand small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) had a business website, up from 34 per cent in March last year, a survey by accounting software business MYOB shows. Less than a quarter of the more than 1000 SMEs surveyed had a social media presence. Click here for more.

Hamilton kid Daniel Andonov an Instagram influencer: Hamilton high school student Daniel Andonov gets paid to post pictures of products on his Instagram page, which has over 19,000 followers. Each week, a package or two of clothing arrives in the post for Daniel Andonov. He is not a serial shopper, he is a social media influencer. The 17-year-old Hamilton high school student gets paid to post pictures of products on his Instagram page, which has over 19,000 followers. Click here for more.

Drones could soon be answering the emergency call, according to Kiwi professor: Self-piloting drones controlled by artificial intelligence could be used as emergency responders by as early as next year, according to an Auckland University of Technology professor. Drones will soon be delivering hot pizza, mapping and possibly even providing internet for remote areas currently beyond the internet's reach. Click here for more.


Google Home is promising, but still a work in progress: Google has said that the promise of Google Home - its smart voice-activated speaker - is that I won't have to break my stride to find a light switch, change the channel, search for music or type something into a search bar again. But the Google Home stops short of that vision right now. Click here for more.

Reddit boss admits to editing users' posts amid pro-Trump troll attacks: Steve Huffman, the chief executive of Reddit, knows he has some explaining to do. Huffman, also a Reddit co-founder, has landed in hot water after admitting that he used his administrative powers to secretly edit user comments that were critical of him on r/The_Donald — a popular, pro-Trump forum (or "subreddit"). He swapped all mentions of his own username with the names of the pro-Trump group's leaders, meaning that expletive-laden posts aimed at him looked instead as if they were insulting the group's leaders. Click here for more.

Social Media

Drowning in a sea of messaging apps: We've got too many ways to talk digitally. WhatsApp, HipChat, Slack, Facebook Messenger and more. Just when I thought I had more than enough methods for pinging and texting, Microsoft upended the communication basket. The software giant announced Microsoft Teams, a workplace tool for multiple people to chat and collaborate online. Another week, another way to communicate that promises to make me faster, smarter, more responsive. When will it end? Click here for more.

Facebook Messenger: You've got ads: Ads are coming to Facebook Messenger as Facebook looks to wring sales from its popular messaging service. Starting this week, businesses will be able to buy ads in the Facebook News Feed to reach people they've interacted with. The ads route Facebook users to Facebook Messenger. Marketers will also be able to reach people who have started conversations with them on Facebook Messenger. Click here for more.

Twitter ideal for being a jerk: OPINION: I love Twitter. I use it every day. I've made a number of friends using the service, and often have interesting exchanges with an even larger number of colleagues and smart people. It has been essential to my career; it's hard to imagine doing my job without Twitter or some similar tool for connecting with the public. Click here for more.

Apple vs. Android

Apple out of touch with both fans and average consumers : CApple is looking more and more like it's lost its way. Revenue and earnings are falling. Sales of all its major products are in decline. Numerous individual products are getting long in the tooth, waiting years for updates. Even for products that are getting refreshed, the updates are underwhelming. Click here for more.

Android's dominant alliance shows signs of weakness: The Android operating system for smartphones is one of the most successful technologies ever created. Apple sparked the smartphone revolution, but Android spread it to the masses. The software backed by Google powers more than 85 per cent of the roughly 1.5 billion new smartphones sold each year. Click here for more.

Microsoft introduces Slack rival to lure chat users: Microsoft unveiled a team-chat service that works with its cloud-based Office and Skype products, aiming to take on Slack. The new product is "designed to facilitate real-time conversations and collaboration while maintaining and building up that institutional knowledge of a team", said chief executive Satya Nadella. The product has team chat, private messages and voice and videoconferencing. Click here for more.

Security and Privacy

Hackers might be a pain, but we need them, expert says: Sure, they might take your credit card information, stop you from watching Netflix and figure a way to use any key fob to access your car, but don't think too poorly of hackers. Their mindset drives innovation that benefits humanity, said inventor, futurist - and hacker - Pablos Holman. "You need that discovery process to get every new technology," he said, noting hackers' propensity to disassemble new gadgets immediately. Click here for more.

Cyber bullying prosecution figures released by Justice Minister Amy Adams: A man imprisoned for sending images of a half naked ex girlfriend to work colleagues is among seven people jailed since new cyber-bullying laws came into force. Already, 89 criminal charges have been laid related to online harassment and seven people have been jailed using the Harmful Digital Communications Act, which has been in place since July 2015. Click here for more.

Who should really be in control of our data?: Privacy campaigners have a new champion from the unlikeliest of places, and its name is Facebook. Often on the receiving end of accusations that it pushes the boundaries of acceptable user-profiling in order to hoover up as much information as possible, the social network last week blocked a major car insurer from using Facebook profiles to set car insurance premiums. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Virtual reality to treat phobias: You can't move. Your hands are immobilised on the arms of a chair as the masked dentist leans closer, his drill shrieking. Sound like your worst nightmare? It's OK: you're safe in virtual reality. Dentist drills, spiders, needles and heights- people can now be treated for their phobias with virtual reality. Click here for more.

Internet is a scarier place for women than for men, report finds: A new report on online harassment highlights how the internet can be a scarier place for women than for men. Women are more likely to be distressed by the harassment they face online and to self-censor themselves, according to the report published on Tuesday by researchers at Data & Society. The study found that nearly half of internet users have been targeted by some form of online harassment. 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.

Social media and NZ's minor parties: Yesterday, I did a quick analysis of the two major parties' social media outgoings. Here are my impressions of the minor parties' efforts. Once again, it's alphabetical. Click here for more.

NZ teen's Facebook threat sparks US alarm: A Canterbury student had Texas authorities on alert for hours after posting a message saying he would "go to school and shoot everyone" Click here for more.

Movie makers yet to move on piracy: Movie studios are still sitting on their hands as the music industry begins cracking down on internet piracy. Click here for more.

Neighbours split over council broadband plan: Plans to bring Auckland's broadband network into the future have divided some neighbourhoods. Click here for more.

Labour proposes Ministry of ICT: Labour is proposing a single network regulator for telecommunications and broadcasting. Click here for more.


Bringing it all back home

Thanks again for reading the Actrix Online Informer. Feedback can be sent to me via the e-mail address listed below. Please limit this to comments/suggestions regarding the newsletter. The best place to send requests for support is the Actrix Help Desk ( or to the Accounts Department (

Take care through December!

Rob Zorn 


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