Readers' Forum - February 2006

from the February 2006 Actrix Newsletter

If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send me an e-mail with the word "Forum" in the subject line. I'll try and get an answer to you by return e-mail, and will also post the answer here for the benefit of others who may have a similar question or problem. By the same token, if you read something here and think you may have something to suggest, please feel more than free. Please also note that questions and answers may also turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).

an writes: I thought you might like to publish this in your next newsletter - I really have to thank the support people on the Help Desk at Actrix. They are marvellously patient and there has been no problem that they haven't been able to help me with. I began using computers some 15 years or so ago, mostly word-processing then, and taught myself the rest to the point of using computers at home and where I worked. I can do most things now - eventually - and as I am 65 I am quite proud of my knowledge. Not the technical jargon - just tell me something once in reasonably simple language and I can remember it. So to have a staff who put up with my queries, guide me and manage not to make me feel a fool is great. We go overseas each winter and all I do is get hooked up to my cell-phone over there with the help of your staff and I can keep control of our small business here in N.Z. There have been many helpers - Nick, Peter, Phil, Josh, Andrew etc. - and I cannot praise their knowledge and support enough. Keep on looking after us oldies!   - Jan Fletcher"

Hi Jan, thanks for taking the time to send this in. There's nothing worse than calling a help desk and being made to feel silly or like you're an inconvenience. We really try hard to have a support crew that are truly interested in people, and who remember that not everyone has the knowledge or confidence with computers that they do (else why would they be calling a help desk?). It's good to have customers acknowledge that. I'm quite proud of our boys (there aren't currently any girls on the help desk itself), and we went to a lot of trouble to select the right ones. They can be called on 0800-228749 any time between 8 am and midnight, seven days per week. 

Dear Rob, I have an old computer with Windows 98 on it, I started it up with no keyboard (the keyboard is connected to a laptop) and the screen said, NO KEYBOARD FOUND, PRESS ANY KEY TO CONTINUE. Thought this is an interesting wee snippet, maybe almost funny, well it made me laff anyway. - David.

Excellent, David. Heh heh heh.

David writes: Rob, I am thinking of buying a lap top, but cannot understand how I would use the thing away from base. What do I do when I get to my hotel room? Plug it into the phone socket - and do what? Can I connect with Actrix? If so, how? What if I were using it abroad? What number would I have to use if calling from say, Europe? Help, please! Regards, David.

Hi David, Using your laptop as you travel around New Zealand shouldn't generally be a problem at all. Just as with a desk-top computer, your laptop should be set-up to automatically dial the Actrix connection number which is 086722874. Wherever you go in New Zealand, that number should work when you plug the modem line into a phone jack and connect as normal. Your user name and password are also stored in your computer's modem settings, so again, your laptop will know exactly what to do. One problem that you may find occasionally is toll-bars on hotel/motel phone lines that won't let you dial any number starting with 0. This is becoming less of a problem as hoteliers recognise that people need to connect whilst on the move, but you may want to check on dial in capability before you book.

Dialling in from overseas is a lot more problematic. One way would be to set your modem to connect to Actrix via an international toll call but this really isn't recommended. Dial-up modems usually struggle to cope with this, and it is expensive. Better options are to use a cybercafe or get a temporary account in the country you're in with a local provider there, and then use that to log into Actrix Web Mail at www.actrix.co.nz, so that you can use your e-mail. Then there's global roaming (Actrix CyberRoam) which allows you to connect directly to Actrix via AT&T's global network in over 50 countries around the world. This will cost you an additional $6.75 per hour. You can read more about CyberRoam at http://www.actrix.co.nz/business/connectivity/businessdialup.php#cyberroam, and our help desk can help you with the set-up (0800-228749). 

Craig writes: When my partner moved in with me a few months ago, she brought her own PC along…. she is on a different ISP to Actrix. If I purchased CyberJet, how will her PC work on the same phone-line as mine? If she switched to Actrix herself (and our PC’s are in separate rooms in the house), do we need two lots of hardware?

Hi Craig, As long as one of you is on dialup, there should be no problem if the other has DSL (CyberJet) broadband. DSL broadband effectively splits your phone line in two. The top frequency half becomes a permanent broadband connection between your PC and the Internet. The bottom frequency half stays like a phone line so you could be connected to Actrix using CyberJet and your partner's computer could be dialling up to any ISP she liked at the same time as you were online (or vice-versa).

You could not each have broadband with different ISPs on the same line, however. To have two different broadband connections at the same house would require two separate phone lines (one for each), and each computer would also have to have its own dedicated router. However, each could use their own phone line to connect to a different ISP than the other. The last option might be to have the two computers networked so they both utilise the same broadband connection. This would save money whilst still achieving each user's independence.