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Actrix Online Informer – November 2015

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 November Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for November 2015. This month we take another look at Windows 10, which has been out for a wee while now and has started getting some pretty good reviews. We look at some of the new features that might just tempt you to upgrade yourself.

We also feature an article that was sent to us by one of our readers about identifying hoax news stories. It certainly makes for some interesting reading!

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature comes courtesy of "How Ridiculous", a Trio of Aussie guys based in Perth who are passionate about sport, trick shots and helping children living in poverty. They do crazy tricks and shots with sports equipment, and have even broken a Guinness World Record (featured in the video) for "greatest height from which a basketball is shot". They shot a basketball (after 5 hours of attempts) from 415 feet from the Gordon Dam in Tasmania.

"How Ridiculous" partners with Compassion, a Christian aid organisation, to help children in poverty. A pretty awesome group of guys, who as their name suggests, do some pretty ridiculous stuff!

Welcome Windows 10!

In September we wrote a short article about Windows 10, and attempted to answer the question many people had asked us – should we upgrade to Windows 10? You can read that article here.

If you're using a PC that's not running Windows 10, chances are you've been getting that regular popup from your taskbar encouraging you to make the upgrade. The notification tells you that more than 100 million devices have made the upgrade to Windows 10, and so should you. Well, we've taken a closer look at Windows 10, and have collected a few more thoughts about the design and functionality it offers.

First up – if you're running Windows 8 and not liking it, we think you'll like Windows 10. Why? Because it is head and shoulders better than Windows 8.1 – at least for the traditional PC users. It banishes the full screen apps and the metro start screen and focuses on the classic Windows style – yes PC users, the Start Menu is back! It is back on the bottom left of the screen where it should be. It still has some features of Windows 8, like the Live Tiles apps but has a traditional Windows feel too, which people are familiar with.

If you don't want any of the Windows 8 design (the tiles and apps) then these can be turned off and your old desktop will be back to its original state. Mix it up and have a bit of both. The choice is yours. Those reviled Windows Store apps from Windows 8 haven't been eradicated—but they have been changed to be more user friendly.

Cortana, Microsoft's clever digital assistant on Windows Phone 8.1, makes the jump to PCs with Windows 10, where she assumes control of the operating system's search functions. Ask her text or voice commands and she will sort via online information to find what you are after – quite a clever lass! She can search your hard drive, OneDrive and business files. Give her filters, i.e. "Find pictures from the Christmas Party last year" and she will perform.

Internet Explorer is still available but with Windows 10 is the release of the Edge browser. A brand new, purpose built system that is sleek, quick and stylish.

You asked for it and they delivered! Virtual multiple "desktops" feature in Windows 10. No need for the two monitors on your desk at work. Windows 10 allows you to switch between multiple desktops and lets you split the screen and see two at once.

Notifications are one of the coolest features of modern operating systems, with popups reminding you of all sorts of useful information. The Action Centre is an archive of pop ups so you won't forget what updates need doing etc, and it's also a quick access spot for activating Bluetooth or connecting to a VPN. There's also an option for shifting the interface to Tablet Mode.

Windows 10 introduces overhauled Mail and Calendar apps that are vastly better than their Windows 8 counterparts. While the Windows 8 apps were pokey, the Windows 10 variants are speedy and responsive, and they manage to fit much more info on the screen while still being friendly to mice cursors and fat fingers alike. The new apps also dynamically shift their interfaces to fit nicely into windows of all shapes and sizes.

Another great feature is that you can switch your screen to a Windows 8-like mode. This is great for users of touchscreen devices and tablets. This is a more efficient way to browse than having the standard Windows 10 set up. Switching between these two interfaces is easy so can be changed as you switch devices or switch from doing one thing on your device to the next. Hybrid devices will intelligently switch between the two modes depending on whether you have a keyboard attached.

In tablet mode, the Start menu expands to fit the full screen, as do Windows apps. If you'd like to force a switch, the new Action Centre has a dedicated "Tablet Mode" button that you can enable or disable at your own discretion.

The Control Panel is back in one spot, which users will inevitably be stoked about. Windows 8 split the settings in the Control Panel meaning you had to check two different places. Who has time for that?

Are you using Windows 10? Tell us about your experience!

Six easy ways to tell if that viral story is a hoax

Last month one of our readers sent us a link to this article, which we thought addressed a significant issue, especially at a time when events and news stories are going "viral" on the internet.

In an age where everyone's carrying an HD camera around with them on their pocket, ready to film that next crazy event, it can be hard to tell which stories are fake, and which aren't. To make it more complicated, there are so many tools and apps out there that can doctor or change images and videos, making the fake stuff even easier to believe.

This article from Gizmodo looks at a few stories that have been altered and exaggerated to get more attention, and gives you a few ways you can check to see if the story is real, or if it's a hoax.

Published on Gizmodo, 21 September 2015

"And so it begins … ISIS flag among refugees in Germany fighting the police," blared the headline on the Conservative Post; "with this new leaked picture, everything seems confirmed". The image in question purported to show a group of Syrian refugees holding ISIS flags and attacking German police officers.

For those resistant to accepting refugees into Europe, this story was a godsend. The photo quickly spread across social media, propelled by far-right groups such as the English Defence League and Pegida UK. At the time of writing, the page claims to have been shared over 300,000 times.

The problem is, the photo is three years old, and has precious little to do with the refugee crisis. In fact, it seems to be from a confrontation between members of the far-right Pro NRW party and Muslim counter-protesters, which took place in Bonn, back in 2012. A number of news outlets tried to highlight the hoax, including Vice, the Independent and the Mirror, as did numerous Twitter users.

But news in the digital age spreads faster than ever, and so do lies and hoaxes. Just like retractions and corrections in newspapers, online rebuttals often make rather less of a splash than the original misinformation. As I have argued elsewhere, digital verification skills are essential for today's journalists, and academic institutions are starting to provide the necessary training.

But ordinary people are also starting to take a more sophisticated approach to the content they view online. It's no longer enough to read the news – now, we want to understand the processes behind it. Fortunately, there are a few relatively effective verification techniques, which do not require specialist knowledge or costly software. Outlined below are six free, simple tools that any curious news reader can use to verify digital media.

Read more.

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!


StumbleUpon – Experiencing boredom? Experience the endless amazement of StumbleUpon. It's similar to flicking TV channels. You select the categories you want to see and then can rate what they show you. A great place to explore when you need to kill time in a waiting room.

Hyperbole and a Half – Hyperbole and a Half is a blog that was created by Allie Brosh, a young woman with a talent for telling stories through detailed Microsoft Paint drawings. It's a wonderfully colourful and comedic site to browse through. If you love whimsical drawings of dogs, rainbows and other things, then you're bound to really fall in love with this one.

Fact Slides – Want to know random facts about random topics? From the octopus to pandas, pollution to water – there are so many topics with so many facts! A great place to visit before going to a pop quiz at the pub. Jump online and discover things you never knew... such as the fact that baby pandas can poop up to 40 times a day, or that the largest earthquake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5 in Chile back in 1960.
Colossal – Launched in 2010, Colossal is a Webby-nominated blog that explores art and other aspects of visual culture. Colossal won the Utne Media Award for Arts Coverage in 2013 and is ranked by Technorati as one of the top 50 blogs on the web. Each week you'll find 15-25 posts on photography, design, animation, painting, installation art, architecture, drawing, and street art. Colossal is also a great place to learn about the intersection of art and science as well as the beauty of the natural world.
Organised Christmas – Christmas is slowly creeping up and this is a one stop site for everything to make the planning process a little easier. It has printable PDFs that you can complete and fill in, and offers all sorts of advice on managing every aspect of the silly season, from handling the family hordes descending upon your door to making sure everyone gets a present they're actually going to enjoy. Get organised and get ready for the carols.
Stickk – Is it difficult for you to stick to goals? If yes, then let Stickk help you reach them. It makes use of commitment contracts to empower you to better your lifestyle. From anything health related like losing weight or quitting smoking, to customised goals. This website is your own personal assistant in the journey of life.
Tech Radar – Techradar calls itself the home of technology – and once you've visited the site, you'll see why! Every electronic device available has been featured here, complete with expert reviews and customer comments to help you find the right technology for you... from iPhones and bluetooth speakers to virtual reality and even a whole section on "how tos".
Trip It – Planning an overseas holiday with lots of flights, hotel booking and day trips? What do you do if you get to your destination and have to filter through hordes of emails to find the hotel address or your flight number? TripIt lets you put it all in one spot. You can share your itinerary with others too. A good idea to pass it on to Mum and Dad so they know your whereabouts while you're on your OE.
Fill the silence – Ever find yourself in an awkward pause in the middle of the conversation? Everyone's looking at their feet, too scared to make eye contact with anyone else in the group for fear of making the situation even more awkward? Well this site is the cure – fill that silence with these random facts about anything and everything... and they're all cleverly drawn on little snippets of paper.
Shiba Sommelier – This slightly unusual site follows a Shiba Inu who has a particular fondness for wine and cheese. The site features a stack of photos of this high-class dog enjoying some of the best wine and cheese from around the world. And yes, it's been to New Zealand too, where it enjoyed a 2012 Millton Opou Vineyard Chardonnay from Gisborne.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Xero warning following customer accounts 'compromised': Xero customers are being asked to reset their passwords after a handful of accounts were "compromised". Click here for more.

Google launches curated music streaming in NZ: Google has launched curated music stations for Google Play Music in New Zealand. Click here for more.

Huawei's smartwatch available in NZ: Huawei has released its first smartwatch in New Zealand as it joins the race to get consumers to buy wearables. Click here for more.

Tech entrepreneur aiming high with camera designed to capture life's moments: New Zealand company meMINI is emerging as more than a start-up as its founder takes his wearable camera technology to the next stage. Click here for more.

Google's latest phones available in New Zealand: Google's latest phones are on sale in New Zealand with prices starting at $759 for the 5X and $1099 for the 6P. Click here for more.

Latest Apple TV available in New Zealand: Apple's fourth generation of Apple TV is available to order in New Zealand, with deliveries starting from November 2. Click here for more.

Race is on for Waikato app: A mobile app inspired by the Amazing Race could help raise the Waikato's profile with tourists. Click here for more.

Barely half of small firms satisfied with broadband connection: Small businesses have become less satisfied with their internet connections over the last six months according to a survey of just over 1000 firms. Click here for more.


Internet's biggest fan became its fiercest critic: Jonathan Harris has spent much of his time lately doing two things: writing computer code and meditating. Click here for more.

Five hints and tips for Gmail: Getting control of your email account is one of the best things you can do for your digital life. Click here for more.

Internet is getting less and less free: Surveillance, attacks on digital speech, outright censorship and imprisonment are making the internet less and less free, an annual Freedom House study has concluded. Click here for more.

Smartphone app helps blind people get around: Previously, when Chieko Asakawa navigated her way across her university campus, she used her white cane to identify obstructions with her ears alert to recognisable sounds and intuition in full power to keep track of her location. Click here for more.

Google finally smarter than humans: When Google parent company Alphabet reported eye-popping earnings last week, its executives couldn't stop talking up the company's investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Click here for more.

Don't be mean to tech companies: It's a tough life being a tech company. You diligently work away at amazing products only for people to say they "suck". Click here for more.

GIFs are for everybody now: Instagram's new Boomerang feature isn't a GIF-maker, but it thinks like one: The tool makes one-second videos out of a burst of photos. Click here for more.

Goodbye lightswitch, hello smartphone: Imagine controlling your home lighting from the comfort of your couch, switching them to red for a thriller movie or ramping up the brightness to aid concentration. Click here for more.

How to spot a fake online review: Do you trust online reviews? Now that Amazon is suing more than 1000 people who allegedly offered to write glowing product reviews for cash, you might reasonably be concerned. Click here for more.

Cars struggling with consumer tech: The car industry has never been very good with the consumer side of technology and now it's under siege from tech companies. Click here for more.

Social Media

Facebook apologises for iPhone battery drain issues, releases partial fix: Facebook has apologised for bugs in its app which ate up users' iPhone battery power even when they weren't actively using the app, and has released what appears to be a partial fix in an update. Click here for more.

Woman uses Instagram to expose 10 years of online sexual harassment: Many women who experience online sexual harassment cope by deleting inappropriate messages and trying to forget about them. Mia Matsumiya, a professional violinist based in Los Angeles, chose to save them. Click here for more.

The rise of the female YouTube star: The first-ever national tour of female internet celebrities was held recently, with girls and their dads flocking to the "Girls' Night In". Click here for more.

Would you pay for YouTube?: YouTube has unveiled a paid version of its video-sharing service, as the Internet giant tries to make the website more profitable and fend off competition from other premium content sites. Click here for more.

Facebook finally kills your frustrating hidden inbox: Facebook is finally killing the frustrating "feature" that has seen users miss hundreds of important emails. Click here for more.

Facebook's plan to take over the web: A spate of headlines from the past several weeks have outlined some very ambitious plans: Facebook is building a real-time news tool that could kill Twitter. Facebook's testing shopping products that could take on Amazon. Facebook's making its own YouTube. Click here for more.

Facebook hopes to replace YouTube: Facebook says it is testing an array of features aimed at getting people to watch more videos at the leading social network. Click here for more.

No-one knows why Facebook blocked the phrase 'everyone will know': On Monday, a Redditor named "System_Requirements" made a mysterious discovery: If you try to post "everyone will know" on someone else's Facebook page, the system would block you indefinitely. Click here for more.

Facebook tests in-app shopping features in a new frontier for social media: Facebook Inc wants its users to shop for clothes and other products from their mobile phones without ever leaving its app. Click here for more.

Your Facebook profile image can now be a video: Facebook rolled out updates to mobile profile pages to enable users to better personalise their profiles and more easily control their privacy settings. Click here for more.

Apple vs. Android vs. Amazon vs. Microsoft

Apple and Google top the world's 'best brands': Technology companies rule the branding game, with Apple and Google taking out the top spots in the 16th Interbrand "best global brands" report. Click here for more.

Apple TV device to have gaming focus: Apple will make gaming a key part of an Apple TV product it is expected to unveil at an event on Thursday, according to a New York Times report. Click here for more.

10 signs you're a phone zombie: We're all addicts now, that's a given. Who doesn't go into a fit of panic when their phone is momentarily misplaced? Click here for more.

Has Apple abandoned computers?: Apple has released a plethora of new devices lately, refreshing its iPhone range, releasing a new iPad and an Apple TV device. Click here for more.

Security and Privacy

The dark side of wearables: How they're secretly jeopardizing your security and privacy: The seductive lure of activity and health wearables make it easy to forget, or ignore, the inherent security and privacy risks involved. Click here for more.

Google's smart home campaign lets the houses do the talking – literally: If it wasn't enough for Google to control your work life, the tech company now wants to rule your home life as well. Click here for more.

While you watch Netflix, it watches you: Netflix subscriber may have noticed that the list of suggested titles that pop up constantly change with the online service. It's not by chance. Click here for more.

The perfect password that's also easy to remember: The first thing you learn when you try to create a good password is that your memory is pretty terrible. The second thing you might learn is that you're really bad at being random. Click here for more.

90% of Android phones are not secure: Apple fans have got used to shaking their heads at Android users when it comes to security. Being the bigger market, smartphones running Google's Android operating system are the primary target for creators of malware, or malicious software. Click here for more.

Facebook starts using your web browsing history to target ads: Facebook has this week stepped up efforts to make a buck off its 1.5 billion monthly active users. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Kids can now go to preschool online: Can 4-year-olds learn what they need to know by sitting in front of a computer for 15 minutes a day? Click here for more.

He bought for $18 - and owned it for a minute: Ex-Googler Sanmay Ved was the lucky buyer of, if only for a minute. 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.

Privacy body eyes online fakes: Authorities are investigating whether New Zealand should follow California's lead and make it a criminal offence to impersonate others including politicians on the internet, notably via Twitter and Facebook. Click here for more.

Documentary celebrates 21 years of internet in NZ: An anecdotal online documentary focusing on the 21st birthday of the internet in New Zealand has launched, aiming to be a resource "not just for geeks". Click here for more.

Government to review 'wild west' internet: Justice Minister Simon Power has ordered a review into the ''wild west'' of the internet, he announced today. The Law Commission will examine the adequacy of regulations around how the internet interacts with the justice system. Click here for more.

Police investigate social media: New Zealand police - coming soon to YouTube and Twitter? Click here for more.

Caught in the web... Facebook brings thieves to heel: A baklava burglar, a tiki thief and a man who swiped a bottle of Gran's Remedy for smelly feet - these are the master criminals who will rue the day Facebook was invented. 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 November!

Rob Zorn 


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