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Online Informer – March 2017

The Online Informer is published each month to help keep 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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Actrix – best little ISP in New Zealand

Welcome to the March 2017 Online Informer

Welcome to the Online Informer for March 2017 – we hope you're year is shaping up nicely.

YouTube feature – Movie bloopers that were too good to cut

Accidents happen, but if you're in a movie sometimes accidents can turn out to be amazing. This video traces some of the cinematic moments that happened by accident but were not edited out bcause the director thought they actually contributed to the scene.

Watch the video.


The best and worst of 2016

Now that we're a couple of months or so into 2017, it's a good time to do a bit of a round up of the inevitable 'best of' and 'worst of' sites for 2016.

Google Zeitgeist 2016

One of the best places to start is always Google's Zeitgeist, a snapshot in time of what people are searching for on Google all over the world. It's an interesting way to people-watch, and since Google is the most-used search engine on the Web, it's a great way to get some behind the scenes data and statistics on what people are searching for. How else would you find out, for example, that 'raccoon' was a top search term in January 2016, and that Makiivka in the Ukraine was the city in which people most searched for the term. Click 'See 2016's breakout searches' to drill down to the individual terms that were most popular, and then to find out more about each term.

Time Magazine's Top 10 of Everything

Well it's not really everything, but there's a fair bit of interesting stuff to learn about at Time's Top 10 of Everything, especially if you click 'Full List' in the main menu. Topics include best songs, worst songs the top 10 video games and even J K Rowling's 10 biggest Harry Potter revelations. Links to similar Top 10s for 2014 and 2015 are also available.

The Best of Lifehacker 2016

Lifehacker has been improving people's lives by gathering and sharing advice and guides about better ways to get stuff done for many years. This is the Best of Lifehacker 2016 has a number of sub-categories of 2016's best life hacks. These include: how to guides; food hacks; DIY projects; personal finance advice; interviews; uses and macgyver tips; and many more.

National Geographic

National Geographic's Best of 2016 has some truly gorgeous photographs, many of animals in the wild. Click the first link on the page to see the 52 best photos or scroll down for individual categories such as: Best underwater photos; Best animal photos; Best travel photos, Pictures we love; and Most moving.


BuzzFeed is "the leading independent digital media company delivering news and entertainment to hundreds of millions of people around the world". It's Best of 2016 section is more a collection of interesting things that happened, often in the entertainment world, last year. Topics include: If You Thought 2016 Was Full Of Celebrity Deaths, You Should See 1977; 21 Amazing Hair Products That Changed Our Readers Lives In 2016; 11 TV Shows We Stopped Watching This Year; 16 Times Fast Food Needed To Be Stopped In 2016; This Is What Happened When We Showed Non-Australians Photos Of Australia In 2016; and The 30 Most Important Cats Of 2016. Be warned, Buzzfeed can be a little irreverent and we should include a language warning. 

Golden Tomato Awards 2016

Rotten Tomatoes is probably the most prominent and trusted movie/tv review site. It's Golden Tomatoes Awards 2016 honours the best viewing a number of different categories. And what I love about sites like this is how they alert you to movies and shows that are worth seeking out (to download or on something like Netflix) that you may not have heard about otherwise.

C-Net's Best of Tech 2016

In its Best of tech 2016 section, C-Net reviews 69 of the best or most promising gadgets and tech stuff to have surfaced last year from Snapchat spectacles to Alienware and Apple's iPhone. Full reviews for each product are provided.

16 reasons why 2016 was the worst year ever

Pennlive acknowledges the hyperbole in this title. "Those years with the Black Plague were definitely worse, as were the ones with world wars. The point is, though, that there were a lot of people who were not having a good time [in 2016]." Celebrity deaths, Brexit, The US election, Extreme weather and Everyone freaking out about Ghostbusters are just some of the 16 reasons why 2016 was the worst year ever

The worst of pop culture

The Verge website  "looks back on some of the most awful, inexplicable entertainment we experienced in 2016 – the "how did this get made, and why did we suffer through it?" memes, moments, and movies that made our jobs harder and our lives sadder."

Worst passwords of 2016

Splashdata announces what it's found to be the worst passwords of 2016. Shame on you if you're one of the 10 percent of people who use one of the 25 worst passwords. Staggeringly, 4 percent of people use the worst password ever: 123456. Tips for good passwords are also provided.


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!

St Patrick's Day: facts, meaning, pictures and videos – Every year on 17 March, the Irish and the Irish-at-heart across the globe observe St Patrick's Day. What began as a religious feast day for the patron saint of Ireland has become an international festival celebrating Irish culture with parades, dancing, special foods and a whole lot of green. This History Channel web section tells you all you need to know to understand and celebrate the day correctly
A soft murmur – You'll love this website if you have noisy disturbance around you and you'd like a little calm. Just plug in your headphones and select the kind of ambient sounds you would prefer (rain, wind, waves, thunder, birds and much more). Then select the intensity of your chosen sound and relax.

Project Alexandria – Project Alexandria is the Pandora's Box of books. Basically it's a recommendation tool for book lovers. Enter a book title or your favourite author's name to get up to five recommendations based on similar books or authors – presented as a linked web. Then click those to see the web develop further. As much fun as falling down a Wikipedia hole

Is it normal? – Humans always tend to get a bit skeptical because it seems the grass is always greener on the other side, isn't it? This is a community that lets users ask questions anonymously and get response from others to understand how they perceive things and situations.

Eat this much – Eat this much was created to save you time and energy while also giving you complete control over the meal planning process. Caloric and macro targets, recipes, grocery lists and a growing food database are all here to help you create your best meal plan.

Dog vision – Ever wondered what a dog pictures when it sees something? It definitely wouldn't be able to visualise the amazing rainbow you marvel at. This website lets you upload an image and it renders the image to reflect what a dog would see. Great for those wanting to empathise more closely with their canine friends.

Timelapse – Watch how a place has changed over a period of three decades through a series of satellite images from Google Maps. You can use the "Explore our World" link to watch the timelapse of any location on the planet or watch the preset timelapses.

Random.Org – This website allows you to generate all sorts of random stuff. It could come in really handy if you want to decide something by flipping a coin, but you don't have a coin. It also lets you roll any number of dice – very handy for when you pull those board games out on a rainy day and the dice are missing. Lots more as well.

All Day – This is just a collection of seemingly random articles, mostly hitsory-based. The only thing they seem to have in common is that they are really interesting. Menu categories include Extraordinary, Creepy, Bizarre, Uplifting, Survival, Explore and Video. You'll be here 'all day' if you're the curious type.

Listverse – According to the site's creators: "Listverse – the original Top 10 site – serves over 30 million pages a month to more than eight million readers. We publish lists that intrigue and educate, specialising in the bizarre or lesser-known trivia. Every day we present three or more new, unique lists."

The deep dark web

Note: We include this article for your interest and because we believe in the freedom of information principles upon which the Internet was built. This article is not an endorsement or encouragement for you to behave in illegal or immoral behaviour.

Did you know that deep in the bowels of the Internet there exists a dark underbelly network of websites and services that is not accessible to search engines?

It's known as the Dark Web and, while it can be dangerous to visit, it's not all bad. The fact that it's described as 'dark' is more about the fact that it's hidden, not that it's always a "wretched hive of scum and villainy" as one Independent Business Times article put it.

The Dark Web exists beyond the general 'surface web' allowing users to be completely anonymous online. It's where Edward Snowden shared information with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. It's how users in countries like China can access blocked sites like Facebook. Where pro-anorexia and neo-Nazi sites are shut down regularly on the surface web – they are free to thrive on the Dark Web.

The Dark Web and its content are deliberately hidden from search engines. In fact it can only be accessed if you download and install a special Dark Web browser such as TOR.

And a warning before you go any further. Once you get into the Dark Web, you *will* be able to access all manner of websites. This means that you could be a click away from sites selling drugs and guns, and – frankly – even worse things. It's not illegal to access the Dark Web, but it's possible to do a number of things once you're there that could get you jail time. 

That said, not all the sites are of evil intent. Some sell legitimate products, e.g. weird shaped carrots and/or pretzels, or just bizarre stuff like pills that make your wishes come true. One person we read about purchased a "mind blowing experience" and received a dustbuster in the mail two days later. And some people use the Dark Web simply because privacy is really important to them.

But the Dark Web can be a dangerous place and, again, we don't recommend you visit unless you know what you're doing. Scam sites abound as do a lot of individuals you wouldn't choose to play with at lunchtime.

If you do decide to venture out, Google some guides about how to keep safe (and there's a fair bit to do to really keep safe). A few rules of thumb include never using your real name or email address when you register, and never use your credit card (the Dark Web generally uses the anonymous Bitcoin as its currency). In fact don't give out any personal information at all. If you absolutely must download something (and we wouldn't suggest it if you don't know what you're doing), scan the file using something like VirusTotal or your own security software before opening it.

We don't expect many reading this will want to visit the Dark Web, but we hope you have enjoyed learning that it's there. And if you do visit, you do so entirely at your own risk.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?


Trump's FCC pick quickly targets net neutrality rules: In his first days as President Trump's pick to lead the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai has aggressively moved to roll back consumer protection regulations created during the Obama presidency. Read more.

This podcast is so boring it puts people to sleep, and that's why insomniacs love it: The problem with a good podcast is that it is interesting. That is, it's a problem if you're an insomniac trying to lull yourself to sleep. And that's where Sleep with Me comes in. The podcast is, intentionally, as boring as possible, and it has thousands of listeners. Read more.

Facebook's internet drone takes flight: Facebook says it has completed a successful test flight of a solar-powered drone that it hopes will help it extend internet connectivity to every corner of the planet. Read more.

Alaming levels of online abuse for women: Emily Writes is no stranger to online abuse. She's been called names, had misogynistic comments directed at her and had her parenting skills criticised – all by strangers on the internet. Read more.

Google, Bing move to block illegal UK sites: Internet users will find it harder to search for illegally streamed live football matches, pirated music and other creative materials under a new plan to crack down on piracy websites. Read more.

New Zealand

Czech company backs down after using Māori symbols in pokie game: A Czech Republic company has taken down its Māori themed gambling game after accusations of cultural appropriation. The game, titled "Māori", was released late in December and featured Māori imagery and a rendition of the haka Ka Mate. Read more.

The Kiwi tech firm developing the world's first My Bitcoin Saver: Software developer Webscope is the mastermind behind KiwiSaver-like initiative My Bitcoin Saver. Co-founder Sam Blackmore talks development and the firm's unique work-flow processes. Read more.

New Tinder-type app for breastfeeding mums wanting to share milk with each other: A new mobile app will connect breastfeeding mothers and allow them to share their milk. It means women with too much milk will be able to donate it to others in their area, instead of letting it go to waste. Read more.

Online info for shearing industry: The World Shearing and Woolhandling Championships proved an ideal forum to seek feedback on a new online resource for shearing contractors and farmers. Read more.

Businessman seeks up to $10m for shopping domain names, assets: An Auckland businessman is auctioning off the domain name and its associated domain names which he believes could reach up to $10 million. Read more.

Chorus on drive to upgrade ADSL: Chorus is boosting efforts to switch customers using ADSL copper-based broadband services to faster VDSL or fibre technology as it faces increasing competition to its telecommunications network. Read more.

Kiwis' broadband habits revealed: Chorus has released figures on the country's broadband habits for 2016, which indicate an ever-growing appetite for internet data. Read more.

Social media

Twitter will block abusive users from setting up new accounts: Twitter knows it has a problem with online abuse, and says there are three more changes it's making to help users deal with it. The social network said in a blog post that it's cracking down even more on repeat abusers who make new accounts to continue trolling people who have blocked them. Read more.

Facebook to develop app for television set-top boxes: Facebook is creating an app for television set-top boxes, including the Apple TV, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Read more.

Port hills fire: Orange hearts show social media support: Kiwis are showing their support for those affected by the Port Hills fire and the firefighters working to put it out by making a statement on social media. Facebook users are changing their profile photos to an image of an orange heart on a black background as a tribute. Read more.

New Facebook project aims to strengthen journalism: Among other things, the project aims to tackle the fake news issue that flared during the US presidential election and its aftermath. The project will foster collaboration with news organisations. Read more.

Traversing the social media minefield: As evidenced by the numbers of celebrities who've forsaken social media, or who have handed the keys to their accounts to their PR teams -- fame and fortune are not effective defenses against an all-out assault by faceless trolls. Read more.

You should be afraid of Facebook: Facebook - launched, in Zuckerberg's own words five years ago, to "extend people's capacity to build and maintain relationships" - is turning into something of an extraterritorial state run by a small, unelected government that relies extensively on privately held algorithms for social engineering. Read more.

How to hide your true feelings from Facebook : First, Facebook wanted you to "like" things. Then, Facebook gave you an array of emotions: wow, haha, love, sad and angry. Choose an emotion instead of just a like, and your friends get a better sense of how you feel about their posts. But doing so also tells Facebook something about you. Read more.

YouTube is cutting those annoying 30-second ads next year: Google will scrap the unskippable 30-second advertisements that sometimes play before YouTube videos, BBC reports. The bad news? It'll only happen next year. Read more.

Security and privacy

Up to 130,000 Xtra emails at risk after Yahoo hack: Spark says 130,000 customer email addresses may have been compromised in Yahoo's massive data breach. Read more.

Six ways to keep you and your devices secure in the gig economy:The "gig economy", where workers take on ad hoc jobs or are engaged as independent contractors has clear benefits for firms. Employers save on training, capital expenses and have a ready pool of potential candidates. But on the flipside, workers are taking on more risk. Whether it's insecure connections, risky payments, or just bad internet hygiene, you and your devices may be exposed. Read more.

Privacy watchdogs say Windows 10 settings still raise concerns: European Union data protection watchdogs said they were still concerned about the privacy settings of Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system despite the company announcing changes to the installation process. Read more.

Fake Netflix app can read your messages: With more than 44 million subscribers in 41 countries, Netflix is one of the most popular apps in the world. But before you think about downloading the app, you might want to double check it is the official version. Read more.

The weird, wide web

Behold Tiny Trumps: New memes showing the President in a smaller light are the latest to take the internet by storm: No matter how much the President works to prove himself as a big leader, there's always those willing to bring him down to something a little smaller, the Daily Mail reports. Read more.

Worst Valentine's Day gift ever?: Hopefully on this Valentine's Day you did a bit better than this poor woman. Instead of a beautiful bouquet of flowers, her husband gave her two packets of Homebrand Plain Wholemeal Flour along with an ace of hearts card. Read 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. It's also cool to check whether predictions made look like they might be coming true.

Kim Dotcommando: Life's no game: To the FBI, he's a criminal colossus. To his friends and business partners, he's a genius. To his family in New Zealand, he's dad. Read more.

Online Cupids often miss their mark: Combing dating websites for that perfect love match can be very frustrating, and a group of US psychology professors have released a report explaining why there is no substitute for meeting face-to-face. Read more.

Huge payoff from ultrafast broadband predicted: New Zealand's $3.5 billion investment in an ultrafast broadband network will reap economic benefits worth nearly $33b over 20 years, according to a study carried out by Bell Labs in the United States. Read more.

Facial recognition to replace passwords?: Remembering complex passwords could be a thing of the past if facial recognition technology takes off – but is it as secure as a password and does it work? Read more.

Caution on Twitter urged as tourists barred from US: Holidaymakers have been warned to watch their words after two friends were refused entry to the US on security grounds after a tweet. Before his trip, Leigh Van Bryan wrote that he was going to "destroy America". He insisted he was referring to simply having a good time – but was sent home. Read more.


Bringing it all back home

Thanks again for reading the 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 Help Desk ( or to the Accounts Department (

Take care through March!

Rob Zorn 


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