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Actrix Online Informer – September 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.

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Welcome to the September Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for September 2016. This month we explore the issue of cyber bullying, and how parents can be vigilant against this malicious activity.

Our second feature article is all about protecting our eyes from harmful light emitted from our screens and phones. We spend a lot of time in front of screens, which can be detrimental on our eyes, but there are a few tips, tricks and apps that can help.


YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is about a very serious scientific experiment - what would happen if you filled up a swimming pool with water balls, and then jumped in? Somehow this group of people happens to have a ridiculous amount of time on their hands (and water balls) and they conduct the experiment for us. The result looks quite fun!

Cyber bullies: keeping our kids safe on the internet

The internet is a vast chasm of content that opens up ground-breaking possibilities for information, entertainment, and interaction. It's understandable that parents might be somewhat terrified by the fact that their child is able to possess the World Wide Web in their pockets: who knows what dangers lurk within?

Ironically enough, it just so happens that amid the more strictly addressed dangers of this digital wonderland (scams, stalkers and viruses), it would seem that other children tend to pose one of the greatest threats to your own young'uns.

Despite their sweeping claims to 'anti-harassment policies', social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can do little to protect your child from their own peers.

Online friends of your child have endless access to whatever information or pictures he or she has chosen to share online: an open invitation for cruel comments. Behind the scenes, kids can choose to use private messaging as a tool with which to deal great damage through a more sneaky medium.

Bullies feel safe and somewhat confident before their screens. While they might not be so bold as to speak cruel words to your child's face, they often hold nothing back when pouring negativity out upon a keyboard – using a computer to attack a victim simply removes empathy from the equation.

Kids also have the benefit of online anonymity to protect themselves from any consequences they might have incurred for dealing verbal, physical and emotional damage in person. Social media sites can't stop you from creating a fake alias.

Additionally, 'proof of age' is never required to join most social media sites, so your child could be signed up to be social with an older, crueller crowd.

Social media isn't the only window through which bullies target your child. Online gaming, no matter how friendly and colourful the overall look of the game, can be just as dangerous as Skype or Facebook's Messenger. Take note of the games your child chooses to play: while some might ditch the rules in favour of the crueller crowd, there are several child-friendly games that have ensured reliable safeguards are in place to protect players from negativity and harassment. Club Penguin is one such game: users can be blocked for inappropriate/curse words, foul play, and bullying – victims need only report it.

At the end of the day, it is absolutely vital for parents to maintain open communication with their children when it comes to letting them create accounts online. You should be your child's first point of contact if comments get hurtful and messages get negative. You don't necessarily have to be online-friends with your child across all their favourite sites, but they do need to allow you permission to interject should their online socialisations go askew.

Consider setting up the computer your child might use in a family room where you can freely monitor their online activity. For your child, a little embarrassment at their parent witnessing their online escapades is temporary... but secretly suffering at the mercy of a cyber-bully, on the other hand, can cause deep set, lasting effects. Take care out there and keep your kids cyber-safe.

Easy tips to protect your eyes from screens

There's nothing worse than blurry vision and a headache after a long day before your screen. Sometimes long periods of staring at screens are required of us (especially for those of us in IT related positions), but in most cases we simply spend too much time glued to the screens of our phones.

You might even find a few minutes of staring at a screen before bed dramatically affects your ability to fall asleep. One quick peek at your inbox could mean an hour of tossing and turning! Whatever the case, your eyes are the ones paying the price your screen time. The good news is that there are some wonderfully simple applications we can use to help maintain healthy eyes while getting the most out of our tech.

But before we get stuck into these magic apps, it's important to have an understanding of the harmful source of the problem when it comes to staring at screens for long periods of time.

Have you heard of a little thing called blue light? Blue light is naturally emitted from our shining sun throughout the course of the day. Blue light triggers the part of our brain that encourages us to stay awake. You might like to go ahead and read a more detailed explanation about blue light, it's a rather interesting read!

Phone and computer screens were designed to emit this very light, thus encouraging us to stay awake using them well into the evening. The key to keeping your peepers at peace around bed time is eliminating this blue light with a simple exchange of colour: swap that blue light for warmer reddish light and dim that brightness.

Apps that can save your eyes from sleep-defying damage

For your desktop computer, you might want to give f.lux a whirl. F.lux is a fantastically simple little piece of software with the singular purpose of saving your eyes from potential screen damage. It "makes the colour of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day", in their own words.

Android users can invest in a little app called Twilight which works in a similar fashion to Flux. The app comes with handy pre-set profiles such as 'bed reading', but you can customise and save your own according to preference. Both these apps can be set to automatically turn themselves on and off again depending entirely on the time of day. Control the times yourself, or synchronise them to change with the rising and setting of the sun.

IPhone and other Apple products don't tend to allow apps the freedom to toy with display settings. To get a similar feature on your Apple phone you can search through your display settings for a little feature called 'Night Shift'. Similar concept to Flux: set the light to be warmer and enjoy the option of having it scheduled if and as you so wish. If you aren't seeing this feature, perhaps your phone is not up-to-date.

A few quick-fire tips to finish:

  • Remember the 20-20-20 rule – every 20 minutes take a 20 second break from your screen to rest your eyes upon something at least 20 metres away. This will relax your eye muscles so you can keep screen-staring.
  • Blink and drink: blink often and drink plenty of water to keep those eyes hydrated.
  • Clean your screen, otherwise your eyes will ache as they constantly have to stare through dust and dirt on your monitor or phone screen.

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!

Mighty Ape – Mighty Ape is possibly New Zealand's best online shopping site. The online shop began in 2008 where it has been voted NZ's best online shopping site, best site for games and best overall site (NetGuide web awards 2012). Mighty Ape sells games, books, movies, music, toys, home and office, computers, electronics, hobbies, collectibles and clothing.

StumbleUpon – StumbleUpon is the easiest way to discover new and interesting web pages, photos and videos across the Web. Select your interests and repeatedly 'stumble' across an internet's worth of relevant, interesting content.

bookabach (book a bach) – Kiwi's can either book or rent out their baches nation-wide at attractive, affordable prices. Baches are located in great spots and provide perfect opportunities for escapes.

CarJam – Get comprehensive vehicle history and 'Money Owing' reports by simply entering the licence plate of any given vehicle in New Zealand. Extremely helpful for second-hand car buyers browsing TradeMe.

GeoNet – Was that an earthquake or a truck rolling by? You can confirm an earthquake by viewing this instantly-updated website of seismic activity in New Zealand. You can also report the severity of an earthquake in your region to help the website provide folks with more accurate data.

Treat Me – Not quite 'Grab One' or '1 Day Sale', this online temporary-deal-sale website offers Kiwis experiences and services rather than products. Treat Me is a great way to project your business to a broad audience of consumers.
360 Cities – Enjoy the beauty and interactivity of high quality 360 x 180 degree panoramas from a unique collection of around-the-world 360 photography. Zoom in to an incredible level of detail and explore courtyards, alleys, streets, buildings, and rooftops.
Techquickie (Tech Quickie YouTube Channel) – Learn about the latest cool technology in only a couple minutes! Hosted by Linus Sebastian of 'Linus Tech Tips'.
TED-Ed (YouTube Channel) – TED-Ed is committed to creating lessons worth sharing. As an extension of TED's mission of spreading great ideas, TED-Ed is growing a library of TED-Ed animations created to educate on topics: the kinds of things you didn't know you needed to know.
Pocket – When you find content online that you want to view or read, but the kids are making too much noise or your lunch break is just about to end, Pocket lets you save it for later – so when you do have a few quiet minutes, you can open up all the content you've saved throughout the day.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Teachers upskill in technology to keep pace with today's student: Some Waikato teachers are driving to Auckland or Rotorua for a course that shows how they could use technology in their classroom. But that could change if enough of them apply to bring a satellite site for The Mind Lab by Unitec to the region. Click here for more.

Political hopefuls pushed off Facebook forums: At least two Hamilton resident groups have cautioned council candidates and their families against posting to their Facebook pages. Click here for more.

Taranaki Facebook troll's sentence overturned on appeal: A judge who ordered a defendant to read out insulting comments he had made about him on Facebook during sentencing has been given a rap on the knuckles by the High Court of New Zealand. Click here for more.

Ikea out of reach, but Kmart to open online store in NZ: Kiwi Ikea fans must wait longer for their retail fix after the popular furniture and homeware retailer appears unlikely to provide them access to its planned online store in Australia. Click here for more.


Google debuts new video chat app to rival Skype and FaceTime: Google nailed email with the 2004 introduction of Gmail. Now it's the No. 1 form of electronic correspondence. Click here for more.

Shops and pubs move to block cellphones: Some shops are pushing back against the intrusion of gadgets into our lives. A pub and several bookshops in Britain have both taken steps to stop customers spending time on their phones rather than having a beer or browsing a book. Click here for more.

Deus Ex 'Mankind Divided': video game scores political points by tackling tough issues: in 2027, society has become divided by hatred, prejudice, and fear after mechanically-augmented people all over the world suffered extreme psychotic delusions, lost control, and killed millions. Click here for more.

Social Media

Paul Henry Show's Verity Johnson abused: 'It doesn't matter what you wear, or what you do': The Paul Henry Show's Verity Johnson admits she was "shocked" when a middle-aged woman began yelling profanities at her on Auckland's K-Road. Johnson, a presenter on the morning show, said that while she wouldn't ordinarily think to make a video detailing her experience, she realised the woman "probably thought I'm a sex worker." Click here for more.

Social media for dummies: Facebook changed the world. Then there was Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and who knows what's next down the social media pike. Click here for more.

I started my business from a Facebook post: With employment hard to come by and bills to pay, she posted in her local Facebook group, which then had around 1000 people in it, about her experience in corporate administration. Click here for more.

Twitter has a really good anti-harassment tool - and it's finally available to everyone: Twitter's automated moderation tool hides tweets that are abusive, threatening or spammy. Click here for more.

Harambe meme flood hits zoo staff hard: Jokes and memes around Harambe, the gorilla shot dead after a child fell into its enclosure, aren't funny and are upsetting staff, Cincinnati Zoo's boss says. Click here for more.

The personal details Facebook uses to target ads to you: TPeople may not know that Facebook allows users to opt-out of advertisements based on their use of outside websites and apps. Click here for more.

Why celebrities are leaving social media: cyber bullying can happen to anyone...even internationally beloved celebrities. Click here for more.

Apple vs. Android vs. Microsoft

The Apple and Microsoft ad battle is back: After a few years of truce, Apple and Microsoft are back with an advertising war, this time over the vital question of what exactly is a computer. Click here for more.

Apple and Samsung still dominate tech industry: Apple and Samsung together have generated 100 percent or more of all operating profits among makers of premium-priced smartphones. Click here for more.

Hands on: Microsoft Hololens augmented reality headset: Picking up where Pokemon Go leaves off, Microsoft's Hololens delivers a new way of looking at the world. Virtual reality is stealing the headlines this year as the major VR headsets finally hit the shelves, but in the long term I suspect augmented reality will have a greater impact on our lives. Click here for more.

Security and Privacy

Smartphones, wi-fi change the rules for parental control: Several thousand families have signed up to use an internet filter that is designed to block pornography and harmful internet content, the country's third largest internet provider says. Click here for more.

Christchurch woman loses more than $20,000 to con artist: A Christchurch fitness instructor says she has been "destroyed" by a con artist who accessed her computer remotely and stole more than $20,000. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Five myths about the web: As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, it gets more and more difficult to imagine life without it. And although our world certainly has been transformed by the web's capabilities, its history includes some persistent myths and comically naive predictions. Click here for more.

Nasa to make all its research available free on the Internet : Normally such material is hidden behind a paywall, meaning that it is often out of reach for the lay enthusiast. The EU has also said it hopes to make all its research available free from 2020. 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.

Kiwi kids flock to Facebook: Two-thirds of New Zealand children aged six to nine are using social networking sites for kids, according to a survey. Click here for more.

'Tupac alive in NZ' – hackers hoax US website: PBS officials say hackers have cracked the network's website, posting a phony story claiming dead rapper Tupac Shakur was alive in New Zealand, and a group that claimed responsibility for the hacking complained about a recent "Frontline" investigative news programme on WikiLeaks. Click here for more.

Darby in anti-piracy ad backlash: Rhys Darby has posted a statement saying he does not support the government's controversial copyright law change. Click here for more.

Editorial: New copyright law deserves to get a fair go: It is understandable that the Commerce Minister responded somewhat tartly to United Nations criticism of internet copyright legislation that will take effect in September. Click here for more.

Govt refuses to budge on internet law: The Government says it will not alter its internet copyright legislation, despite UN criticism that such laws are an attack on human rights. 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 September!

Rob Zorn 


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