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Actrix Online Informer – November 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.


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 November Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for November 2014. This month we feature part 2 of our short series on giving your computer a spring clean. 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 up old programs and software, and claiming back some space on your hard drive.

We also take a brief look at some of the worst status updates your friends insist on putting up on Facebook every day.

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is short but sweet. It looks like it's a video from a security camera in a golf shop. We don't want to give too much away. Something unusual happens, but that's not the highlight... the best bit is the reaction of the two guys involved.

Enjoy!

Rob Zorn

Spring clean your computer (part 2)

Last month we had an in-depth look at how to give your computer a thorough spring clean. We mainly focussed on the hardware, like your keyboard, mouse and screen, and this month we'll take a closer look at the software.

One thing that seems to be universal when it comes to computers is they get slower as they get older. Over time they get a build-up of old files and unnecessary programs that make them seem to sometimes crawl when trying to do simple things.

Thankfully this doesn't mean you have to purchase a new computer just to get back up to speed. Chances are all your computer needs is a spring clean to get it purring. We've put together a short list of things to do on your computer, and while most of these apply specifically to Windows PCs, they can be done on a Mac too.

Step 1: Get up to date

Before you do anything, it's a good idea to head to Windows Update and make sure all your software is up to date – drivers, service packs, security updates, and so on.

To open Windows Update, click Start (bottom left Windows button) and head to your Control Panel, then click System & Security, and you'll see Windows Update there. If it's been a while since you've run any updates, you should see a list of important and optional updates. Click the ones you'd like to install (if you're not sure, just select them all), and then click the Update button. You might need to restart your computer once the updates are all done to complete the process.

If you're still on Windows Vista or XP, it might also be a good time to consider an upgrade. Windows 8 has been out for a while now, and it's pretty good. It's faster, more secure, and has a number of useful new features.

Windows 8 did introduce a new interface that's not everyone's cup of tea, but it's easy to get it looking like an older version of Windows if that's what you're used to.

Step 2: Uninstall unnecessary programs

Over time you'll undoubtedly get an annoying build-up of programs and apps that'll be slowing your computer down. Maybe you needed a program for a one-off project, but haven't got around to uninstalling it yet. All these programs sit there clogging your system (and may start up and run in the background when you switch on), so going through your installed programs and getting rid of anything unnecessary is a good idea.

Windows has a built in tool to let you see what programs are installed, and easily uninstall anything you don't need. Go to your Control Panel, select Programs, and then Programs and Features to see all the programs installed on your computer.

To uninstall a program, just click it once, and then click the Uninstall/Change button near the top of the window. This'll take you through the process of removing the program and deleting the files.

A word of caution... if you don't know what a program is or what it does, it's a good idea to Google it before uninstalling it. You don't want to lose something important, so it pays to tread carefully.

Another good idea would be to check the programs that are being launched at startup. Every time your computer turns on it automatically opens a selection of programs. If you have too many unnecessary programs being opened at startup, it'll slow your computer right down.

To edit which programs are launched at startup, click your Start button, and type msconfig into the search bar. This'll open a System Configuration box, with a Startup option near the top. Select this to see which programs are being launched, and uncheck anything that's unnecessary. Again, if you're not sure, Google it. If you're still not sure, it's probably best to leave it how it is.

Step 3: Reclaim hard drive space

If you're starting to run out of space on your drive, it's time to take a really good look at what might be causing it.

Windows has a built-in tool called Disk Cleanup which will help you reclaim a ton of your hard drive space. It'll show you exactly what's taking up so much space on your machine, organised by folder, file type, and more. To access the tool, just type Disk Cleanup into the search bar in the Start menu. You'll then have the option of choosing which drive on your computer you'd like cleaned up.

It'll also pay to go through your folders, deleting any old files that you don't need.

Step 4: Do some maintenance

Now it's time to really dig in and start cleaning up the stuff that's slowing down your machine. If you don't already have the fantastic CCleaner maintenance tool, download it now and run through its cleaning process. You can download it for free here.

This should clean up some of those extra caches, temporary files, log files, and other things strewn about your system. While you're at it, set it to run on a schedule so you don't have to worry about it ever again.

Step 5: Defragging your computer

Defragging is a simple maintenance process that should help speed up your computer. When your computer stores information in your drives, it does so in "blocks" that are ordered sequentially from one side of the drive to the other. Fragmentation happens when those files get split between blocks that are far away from each other. The hard drive then takes longer to read that file because it has to "visit" multiple spots on the drive. Defragmentation puts those blocks back in sequential order, so there's no need to jump around the entire drive just to read a single file.

If you're running Windows 7 and Windows 8, your computer should be automatically defragging your hard drives for you on a schedule, so you shouldn't have to worry about it yourself. To make sure everything's running smoothly, open up the Start menu or Start screen and type "defrag." Open up Windows' Disk Defragmenter and make sure it's running on a schedule as intended. It should tell you when it was last run and whether your drives have any fragmentation.

If you're on Windows XP, you'll need to defragment your drives yourself. Just open the Start menu, click Run, type Dfrg.msc and press Enter. You'll open up the Disk Defragmenter, from which you can defragment each of your drives individually.

Apart from that, the only maintenance you need to do is keep your antivirus program turned on and up to date.

12 Facebook statuses that just need to stop

Originally published on Mashable.

Look, it's understandable – we've probably all made at least one of these statuses in our Facebook timelines. We're human, we err – but come on, enough is enough.

You probably encounter these face palm-inducing status styles on a daily basis. We've rounded the most offending examples in hopes to inspire change.

Do you have your own set of status updates that you hate seeing on Facebook? Let us know!

1. Braggy relationship status

2. The attempt to make mundane tasks sound interesting status

3. The detox/cleanse/health food junkie status

4. The sad sack status

5. The chain letter hoax status

6. The overly aggressive passive aggressive status

7. The threatening Facebook status

8. The friend purge status

9. The bored status

10. The false information about Facebook status

11. The spoiler status

12. The vague status

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!

Shoutcast
www.shoutcast.com – Ever just felt like listening to a particular genre of music? Shoutcast is a great site that streams thousands and thousands of radio stations, right to your computer. The cool thing is the stations are all organised by genre and location, so if you want to listen to Brazilian electronica, contemporary reggae or Britpop, it's all right there. There's also a helpful search function, to help you find the perfect station.

IKEA hackers
www.ikeahackers.net – Ikea sells some great stuff, and this site lets people share some of the cool alterations they've made to IKEA products to make them look better and even more useful. There are also instructions for combining products to make some pretty cool stuff, including home theatre systems, funky storage unites and even a castle-bed for the kids.

Singapore Airlines Suites Class
https://medium.com/travel-adventure/what-its-like-to-fly-the-23-000-singapore-airlines-suites-class – Singapore Airlines has recently introduced a new way of flying, called Suites Class. It's even a step above First Class, and makes air travel as comfortable as you can imagine. The food looks incredible, the service impeccable, and the fact you have a massive bed to hang out on watching movies and playing games is the cherry on top. This lucky chap has documented his journey in Suite Class, and it's worth a look.
Dinosaur News
www.dinosaurnews.org – Are you a fan of dinosaurs? Dinosaurs may generally be extinct, but this website lets you stay in touch with our Jurassic friends by keeping you up-to-date on the latest news about them. Subscribe to their daily newsletter, check out the photos, or read about the latest research and discoveries to do with Dinosaurs.
Little-known animal facts
http://guff.com/15-little-known-animal-facts-to-brighten-your-day – There are some pretty incredible animals out there! Some are cute, others intelligent, and some just a little bit weird. This page has collected a bunch of interesting facts about different animals that we bet you didn't know already. For example, the giraffe is able to lick the inside of its ear, and whales communicate with accents. Who knew?
Owl Camouflage
www.boredpanda.com/camouflage-owl-photography/ – When owls hunt, they use their silent wings and the cover of night to capture their prey. During the day, however, they have tremendously successful camouflage that helps them stay hidden from daytime predators. It's astounding how well these owls' feathers help them blend in with their surroundings, but that's not all they do. Owls can puff themselves up or slim themselves down as needed to match various elements of their environment and avoid detection. Can you find the owls in all of these images?
If Ron Swanson quotes were motivational posters
www.buzzfeed.com/juliapugachevsky/if-ron-swanson-quotes-were-motivational-posters#452ax1k – Ron Swanson is a TV character from the popular show Parks and Recreation who has an interesting view on life. He's what you'd call an "outdoors man", loving activities like hunting and fishing, and has an intense hatred of the government and office work. This page has taken his more memorable quotes and presented them as motivational posters. If you want to know more about Ron Swanson, just YouTube him... you won't regret it.
Presidents of the United States: Before and after their terms in office
www.boredpanda.com/before-and-after-term-us-presidents/ – Being the President of the United States must be a stressful job. It makes you one of the most powerful people in the world, and that kind of stress can have its toll on the body. Just look at these photos taken before and after these men served as president... this looks like the kind of job that will age you fast!
Bizarre (and offensive) vintage ads
http://all-that-is-interesting.com/20-bizarre-vintage-ads – We've just found our new favourite website! It won't take long after visiting this site for your senses to be overloaded while your consciousness attempts to retreat into the recesses of your brain to prevent itself from overheating. We spent a good ten minutes just staring at this site, taking it all in. Make sure you have your speakers turned on too for the complete experience. They're only offensive that "how un-politically correct" kind of way.
Dead pixel test
www.doihaveadeadpixel.com/ – Your computer screen is made up of millions of pixels that display a certain colour, and when they're all put together, produce an image. This site will check your screen to see if any of those pixels are no longer responding, which could be visually impairing your screen. Follow the instructions to see if you've got any dead pixels holding you back.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Giant cat appears on Auckland Google map: The internet's obsession with cats has stretched to tracks marked on Google Maps. Click here for more.

Network for Learning in a thousand schools: A thousand New Zealand schools have now switched to the Network for Learning (N4L), an internet service provided by Spark and funded directly by the Education Ministry. Click here for more.

Sky goes on-demand with Neon: Sky Television will launch an internet television entertainment service called Neon in December. Click here for more.

Dotcom loses appeal on assets reveal: Kim Dotcom has lost a fight over listing his assets as part of a civil case brought against him by American movie studios. Click here for more.

General

Google bolsters artificial intelligence efforts: Google is expanding its artificial intelligence initiative, hiring more than half a dozen leading academics and experts in the field and announcing a partnership with Oxford University to "accelerate" its efforts. Click here for more.

Can Gmail's new Inbox app conquer yours?: Gmail's new Inbox app displays attachment thumbnails, pre-sorts emails and includes features such as bulk actions, reminders and pins. Click here for more.

Google's replacement for Gmail video: A decade ago, Google took the wraps off Gmail, the popular email service used by hundreds of millions the world over. Click here for more.

$678 million mystery virtual reality venture: Search giant Google, along with several other interests, just invested more than half a billion dollars in a mysterious venture called Magic Leap, a company that, based on various reports, is working on technology focused on the virtual reality and augmented reality space. Click here for more.

Google music service adds mood to mix: Google's music-subscription service will try to anticipate its listeners' mood swings as it amplifies its competition with Pandora, Spotify and other popular services that play tunes over the Internet. Click here for more.

Family time without digital distractions: Most nights when our family sits down to dinner I hear the pinging of smartphones tempting my wife and me from the table. Click here for more.

Microsoft provides tools to fight Ebola: Microsoft will provide free cloud-computing and research applications to qualified medical researchers working on the Ebola virus, the software company's chief executive said on Monday. Click here for more.

Nadella say no gender pay gap at Microsoft: Satya Nadella, the Microsoft Chief Executive who ignited a firestorm of protest earlier this month by suggesting women should not ask for pay raises, said on Monday that men and women are paid equally at his company. Click here for more.

Social Media

Facebook's anonymous message board app: Facebook is taking the wraps off a new app for iOS called Rooms that brings people together around their interests. Click here for more.

Twitter replaces passwords with phone numbers: App users will no longer have to remember passwords if Twitter has any say. A Twitter product for developers called Digits will let users log into apps with a phone number. Click here for more.

Tinder to swipe beyond dates: Tinder users will soon be able to pay for extra features that may not be related to dating. Click here for more.

Facebook sues lawyers for dubious lawsuit: Facebook and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg have sued several lawyers who have represented Paul Ceglia, claiming they helped the upstate New York entrepreneur pursue a fraudulent lawsuit to extort a 50 percent stake in the social networking company. Click here for more.

Facebook facts: pages, groups and profiles?: With several overlapping features, Facebook's Pages, groups and profiles leave many users confused. Click here for more.

Facebook's advertising revenue soars in 3Q: Facebook grew its advertising revenue by 64 percent in the third quarter, helped by a boost in mobile ads that are becoming an increasingly large chunk of the social networking giant's overall advertising business. Click here for more.

Apple vs. Android vs. Amazon

Apple reports hacking attacks on iCloud: Apple says its iCloud server has been the target of "intermittent" attacks, hours after a security blog said Chinese authorities had been trying to hack into the system. Click here for more.

Apple issues security warning for iCloud: Apple has posted a new security warning for users of its iCloud online storage service amid reports of a concerted effort to steal passwords and other data from people who use the popular service in China. Click here for more.

Lollipop: Android 5.0 coming in November: Google says that the latest version of its popular Android mobile operating system (5.0, dubbed "Lollipop") will become available next month, including a feature that will automatically encrypt users' data. Click here for more.

iOS 8.1 offers tiny tweaks: Apple has released another update to its mobile operating system that features several changes including bringing back the beloved camera roll. Click here for more.

Snapchat weaves ads into messages: Snapchat says it will begin weaving ads into the popular service for sending ephemeral smartphone messages but won't be "rude" to its members. Click here for more.

Hands on OSX Yosemite: Some of us are still sharing 80GB monthly data caps with our flatmates - but OSX Yosemite, the new version of Apple's operating system for Macs is worth the 5GB of data it will take to download it. Click here for more.

Security and Privacy

Hackers may have infiltrated Apple's iCloud: Chinese authorities are attacking users who are connecting to Apple's iCloud website in what appears to be a surveillance push to steal users' login credentials, according to a Chinese censorship monitoring group. Click here for more.

Study: Harassment common in online life: A new study confirms what many internet users know all too well: Harassment is a common part of online life. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Millions view Supreme Court dogs spoof: A comedy sketch with dogs portraying members of the US Supreme Court – picture Ruth Bader Ginsburg as a Chihuahua – had scored more than two million YouTube views by Thursday, drawing attention to the high court's secretive ways via some cheap laughs. 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.

Email rules in the quest for work: Michele Olney was horrified when she heard someone advocating good old-fashioned doorknocking as the way to get a job. Click here for more.

Ghost-Twitterers abound: Often time-poor and rarely social media-savvy, New Zealand CEOs are following in the footsteps of celebrities and politicians and hiring experts to "ghost-Tweet" for them. Click here for more.

Spammers make $5600 a day: Tech-savvy Europeans are earning thousands of dollars a day for spam campaigns selling illegal penis pills, fake anti-virus software and counterfeit luxury products. Click here for more.

Stop wasting time online: Whether others are to blame by bombarding you with emails and instant messages, or you just get engrossed in your favourite forum, the result is the same, wasted hours. Click here for more.

Online advertising 'overtakes TV': Online advertising spending in the UK has overtaken television expenditure for the first time, a report has said. 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 November!

Rob Zorn
editor@actrix.co.nz
http://editor.actrix.co.nz 

 

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