Actrix Online Informer – March 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.
Welcome to the March Actrix Online Informer
Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for March 2014. This month we take a nostalgic look back at a range of technologies that have since become obsolete. Many of these technologies were revolutionary and significantly changed our lives, but are now completely useless.
We also introduce you to our online blog, and showcase some of the stories we've been running over the last couple of months. You can check out our blog here.
This month's YouTube feature shows just how robust the popular Go-Pro camera is. The Go-Pro is a small camera used by a wide range of people, from extreme sports athletes to deep-sea divers, to record what they do, and give viewers the chance to experience more closely what they experience. This video was taken from a camera used by a skydiver who dropped it before he could jump out of the plane. What happens to the camera after it's been dropped is worth watching.
It almost seems as if Apple is bringing out a new edition of the iPhone every couple of months. You wait in line for the newest version, equipped with even more features than the last, but by the time you leave the shop and get it home, there's already a new version on the market. It's hard to one of the remain the admirable technological elite when that keeps happening!
This has been a common theme throughout modern history. Certain technologies and gadgets catch the public eye, rocket to stardom, and then get cast aside as consumer tastes change and the technology becomes more innovative.
So here's a nostalgic look back at some of the technologies that once changed the world, but are now almost useless.
Perhaps maps are a slightly controversial starting point. Maps are still useful, and we'll probably never really get rid of them, but with the rise of GPS, and even applications for smartphones, paper maps are certainly becoming a thing of the past that just flap around in the wind annoyingly when you're lost.
An advantage of a paper map is it's always there... you never have to worry about poor connection speed, a weak signal from a satellite or a low battery. But the advantage of GPS technology and smartphones is the features your maps now hold. You can get detailed directions from one location to another. It's also possible to have a map of every street in the entire world in your hand, something the paper version could never achieve. You also have functions which find your current location (handy when you're lost), and live tracking, so you can see exactly how far away that turn-off is.
While there are still a few movie rental stores scattered around the place, they too are becoming a thing of the past. These days there are two other popular ways of watching the latest movies from the convenience of your own home.
The first way is the illegal way. With better technology and increasing internet speeds, pirating movies has become easier, faster and more convenient. In the time it would take to drive down to your local store, choose a DVD, pay and drive home, you could have downloaded and already started watching just about any movie out there.
The other way is just as convenient, and legal too. Online movie rentals are becoming more popular, and as more websites offer rental services, the prices are getting cheaper. In the States you have companies like Netfilx, which let you watch any movie or TV series for a monthly payment. While Netfilx isn't available in New Zealand (yet), you can still hire movies from iTunes, Flicks and Quickflix.
You can't help but look back at floppy disks and laugh. In their heyday the floppy disk was a genius invention which could store all your important documents and presentations, but you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who still uses them. In fact, it has been years since technology stores even sold computers which could read floppy disks.
But that's not the only reason. At most, a floppy disk could store 1.4 megabytes of data. At the time that was a folder of notepad or Word documents, plus a PowerPoint presentation or two. Today, that's not even enough data to hold half a song, or even some 10 second videos.
These days you can pick up a 50 gigabyte USB stick that fits neatly in your pocket. That's the equivalent of more than 36,000 floppy disks.
This one may be a bit premature, but there's no doubt the end is in sight for dial-up internet. Most internet service providers still offer dial-up services, including Actrix, but with broadband also becoming faster and more affordable, there's just no point putting up with the slow speed dial-up has to offer. These days a reasonable broadband speed can be up to 200 times faster than dial-up.
Another problem with dial-up is it has to dial into your internet service provider using your phone line. So unless you have a second phone line dedicated to your dial-up internet, you have to choose between using the internet or having an operational landline.
The Commodore 64
We thought we couldn't make a list of obsolete forms of technology and not mention the Commodore 64 (C64). The C64 is an 8-bit home computer introduced in January 1982 by Commodore International. Many people claim it's the highest selling computer of all time.
The C64 took its name from its 64 kilobytes of RAM (working memory), and had favourable sound and graphical specifications compared to the other available computers such as the Apple II.
Costing just $595, Commodore was selling more than 2 million units per year. At one stage, they were building more than 400,000 units a month.
Can you remember the last time you sent or received a fax? While some may still prefer fax for personal reasons, most businesses around today don't even own a fax machine. Sending messages and large documents was made so much easier and more practical with the rise of email.
If you've visited our new website recently, you may have noticed we now have a blog. The aim is to update it regularly with news and stories from New Zealand and around the world. Here's just a short summary of some of the stories we've featured over the past months.
New Internet Explorer exploit discovered
According to Microsoft, users are encouraged to upgrade to IE 11 or download a fix-it tool.
The number of attacks exploiting a yet-to-be-patched vulnerability in Internet Explorer has increased dramatically over the past few days, indicating the exploit is no longer used just in targeted attacks against particular groups of people.
The vulnerability affects Internet Explorer 9 and 10 and was publicly revealed on Feb 13 by researchers from security firm FireEye who found an exploit for the flaw being served from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) website. Security researchers from security firm Websense later reported that the same vulnerability was being exploited from the compromised website of French aerospace association GIFAS (Groupement des Industries Francaises Aeronautiques et Spatiales).
'Major' Apple Security Flaw Discovered in iOS, OSX
A major flaw in Apple devices could allow hackers to intercept email and other communications that are meant to be encrypted, the company says.
Apple released a fix late last week for mobile devices running iOS, such as iPhones, iPads and iPods. While many will update automatically, users are advised to run a software update on their Apple devices (Settings > General > Software Update).
The company said it will issue a software update "very soon" to cut off the ability of spies and hackers to grab email, financial information and other sensitive data from Mac computers.
Confirming researchers' findings that the security flaw in mobile devices also appears in notebook and desktop machines running Mac OS X, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said: "We are aware of this issue and already have a software fix that will be released very soon."
Once that fix came out, experts dissected it and saw the same fundamental issue in the operating system for Apple's personal computers.
That started a race, as intelligence agencies and criminals will try to write programs that take advantage of the flaw on Macs before Apple pushes out the fix for them.
Password strength and security
There have been numerous password breaches throughout the world this year with several high profile companies being hacked and having passwords and other sensitive information taken.
There is never a better time to make sure all your passwords and data are safe. There was an article on stuff in the last few days with some tips on staying safe and making sure your passwords are strong and hard to break, which we have linked to below.
If you do have any questions regarding security then give our support team a call of 0800-228749.
To find out more, read Stuff's guide to protecting internet accounts.
Scammers strike with fake IRD site
Overseas scammers using a fake website nearly identical to the Inland Revenue Department's are preying on Kiwis in one of the most sophisticated attacks NZ officials have seen.
IRD is working with the National Cyber Security Centre and the New Zealand Police e-crimes division to remove the site and others like it.
The latest scam appeared last week, sending out emails with a link to the bogus website for customers to lodge online tax refunds, with the promise of quick payment for refunds of $600 or less.
The branding and layout of the site mimic the real IRD one, and it instructs potential victims to give their IRD numbers, bank and credit card details and personal contact and address information – including their driver's licence number.
Facebook scammers hit new low
Facebook scammers have hit another low, posing as a cancer sufferer to con people into giving them donations. The scammers have set up a fake Facebook page on behalf of ill Hamilton mother Jennifer Doolabh and asked for money.
On her real Facebook page, Mrs Doolabh warns her family have never asked for anything.
Please note: Actrix supplies links to these sites for your interest and possible use. We cannot endorse or take any responsibility for their contents.
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Cyberspace news snippets
What's been happening in the online world?
Kiwi flavour to latest tech-expo: Kiwis are to get their own consumer electronics event to showcase the latest technology in New Zealand. Click here for more.
Push to keep kids safe online: A "world-leading" resource to educate school students on internet privacy and safety has been launched in Wellington. Click here for more.
Plan for cops to wear cameras: The Police Association and Labour have backed police having cameras on them – but say the Government should wear the cost. Click here for more.
Microsoft hopes users get friends to leave XP: Microsoft plans to end support for Windows XP on April 8, but there are still many users whose computers run the outdated software. Click here for more.
Google takes over Nasa's Hangar One: If you were Google, what would you do with a 32,516-square-metre hangar that was originally built to house helium airships for the US Navy? Click here for more.
Virgin Atlantic crew pilots Google Glass: Google Glass, the wearable computer that doctors and schoolchildren are experimenting with, is now making its way into the airline industry. Click here for more.
Drone competition for quality of life: The United Arab Emirates hopes to start using drones to fly government documents to citizens and is offering a US$1 million (NZ$1.2m) international prize for unmanned aircraft that can improve the quality of life in the oil-rich Gulf state. Click here for more.
Major study confirms cellphone use is safe: Cellphones do not increase the risks of childhood cancer or leukaemia, a comprehensive study has found. Click here for more.
The rapidly disappearing personal computer: The headquarters of iCore Networks has not seen a desktop computer in five years. Click here for more.
Wearable transmitter turns palms into interface: The world could be at your fingertips, thanks to a new wearable, gesture-based gadget. Click here for more.
Nine technologies that faded into history: As the Mac powers into its fourth decade, we take a look at products and technologies that dropped out on the path to longevity the have not been so lucky to survive and faded into the annals of high-tech history. Click here for more.
Casinos battle online gambling rise: Many experts believe online wagering is the future of gambling, but the casino industry is increasingly divided on the issue. Click here for more.
California pushes for phone kill switch: Legislation unveiled Friday in California would require smartphones and other mobile devices to have a "kill switch" to render them inoperable if lost or stolen - a move that could be the first of its kind in the country. Click here for more.
'I was attacked for wearing Google Glass': When a woman showed off her Google Glass the other night at a San Francisco bar called Molotov's, the result was explosive - and reflected a growing debate over whether the cutting-edge device that mounts a computer and camera on a wearer's face goes too far and breaks the social contract. Click here for more.
Printers capable of making guns: Three-dimensional printers can already make guns, and may soon allow people to create gold, gems, food or drugs in their living rooms, the Customs Service has warned. Click here for more.
Bitcoin reputation on the line: With the shutdown of Tokyo-based Mt. Gox, once the world's largest exchange for digital currency transactions, other companies in the Bitcoin universe worked to defend the nascent industry's reputation. Click here for more.
Webcam spies get an eyeful of nudity: Britain's top spy agency has been literally peeking in on private webcam use and discovering a great deal of "undesirable nudity", the Guardian reports. Click here for more.
Termites inspire builder robots: The termite, typically reviled as the wood-eating nemesis of buildings and homes, has ironically inspired a new batch of construction robots. Click here for more.
The mystery behind computer speed: It used to be that megahertz and gigahertz were what sold computers. But clock speeds long ago stabilised around a few gigahertz and the new attraction is the number of cores. Click here for more.
Will smart guns transform the industry?: One of California's largest firearm stores recently added a peculiar new gun to its shelves. It requires an accessory: a black waterproof watch. Click here for more.
Wireless charging edges closer: The prospect of being able to recharge devices such as smartphones and cameras wirelessly has edged closer after two international standards bodies merged. Click here for more.
Journalist sues police who questioned drone: A journalist has filed a lawsuit alleging that Hartford police officers violated his free-speech rights by questioning his use of a remote-controlled aircraft to record images of a car wreck. Click here for more.
Google outs new guide for Glass Explorers: Glass Explorers are funny people. Google knows this, and now it has drawn up a guide on how not to be a Glasshole. Click here for more.
Windows designer moves to new job: Julie Larson-Green, one of Microsoft's most senior women executives and a leading force behind the latest design of Windows, is moving to a new job in charge of harmonising the look and usability of Microsoft's wide range of software. Click here for more.
Finding yourself in the new Google Maps: Google has released an overhauled version of its map app which focuses on full-screen maps and discovery features. Click here for more.
Cortana combines best parts of Siri, Now: Microsoft is late to the game when it comes to putting a digital assistant on its phones, but the wait might be worth it. Click here for more.
The question 'who am I?' feeds quiz craze: For a compulsive online quiz-taker like Chrissy Noh, the temptation was too great to resist: "Which sandwich are you?" Click here for more.
Mums not as annoying online as thought: In 2012, thousands of beleaguered Facebook users sick of baby pictures found their tonic: an extension for Google's Chrome browser called UnBaby.me. Click here for more.
Zuckerberg most generous in 2013: Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were the most generous American philanthropists in 2013, with a donation of 18 million shares of Facebook stock, valued at more than US$970 million (NZ$1.17 billion), to a Silicon Valley nonprofit in December. Click here for more.
With fresh design, Facebook delivers Paper: It's about time, Facebook. With Paper, the social network has undergone a Cinderella transformation that finally gives users a mobile devices application they can enjoy looking at as much as they enjoy using. Click here for more.
LinkedIn opens 'Influencer' blogs: LinkedIn is attempting to become more like Facebook by encouraging all members to generate a steady stream of shareable articles, a perk once available only to well-known business personalities. Click here for more.
What's up with Facebook's latest purchase?: The world's biggest social network has bought mobile messaging service WhatsApp for NZ$22.9 billion in cash and stock. Click here for more.
Does my WhatsApp love affair have to end?: When I used WhatsApp to tell my family about Facebook's US$19 billion (NZ$22.9 billion) purchase of the company that makes my favourite app, I punctuated the message with a string of crying emojis (cartoon faces). Click here for more.
Free calls coming for WhatsApp: WhatsApp will add free voice-call services for its 450 million customers later this year, laying down a new challenge to telecom network operators just days after Facebook Inc scooped it up for US$19 billion (NZ$23b). Click here for more.
Apple and Android
A 30-year legacy for Apple's Mac: Much of the tech world celebrated the 30th anniversary of Apple's original Macintosh computer last week. Click here for more.
Apple security flaw allows hackers to beat encryption: A major flaw in Apple devices could allow hackers to intercept email and other communications that are meant to be encrypted, the company says. Click here for more.
All wrapped up in wearable devices: Huawei Technologies Co., China's biggest smartphone maker, unveiled its first smart bracelet while Samsung Electronics Co. introduced wristwatches based on its Tizen operating system at the Mobile World Congress. Click here for more.
App trains your brain to have 20/7.5 vision: Everybody wishes they had super powers. The big problem with that shared ambition, however, is that super powers do not exist. Not unless you count super human vision. That does exist, and a new app promises to help you attain it. Click here for more.
Apple issues fix for security flaw: Apple has issued fixes for a security flaw in its Macintosh computers that allows hackers to intercept data such as email. Click here for more.
Copyright vs Piracy
Artists confront the web's pirates: For a few months Hannah Price was famous. More precisely, she was internet famous. Click here for more.
Parents revive privacy battle with Facebook: A group of American parents, backed by child advocacy and privacy groups, plans to ask a US federal appeals court to throw out a settlement with Facebook over its use of children's images in advertisements. Click here for more.
Security and Privacy
Bitcoin cyberattack a big warning to users: A massive cyber attack from unknown sources that has been spamming bitcoin exchanges is highlighting some of the dangers people can encounter when they exchange cash for digital currencies like the bitcoin, experts said on Wednesday. Click here for more.
Security updates for Windows, Adobe Shockwave: Adobe and Microsoft have issued patches to fix critical security flaws in their software. Microsoft's February Patch includes seven patch bundles addressing at least 31 vulnerabilities in Windows and related software. Adobe pushed out an update that fixes two critical bugs in its Shockwave Player. Click here for more.
Researchers uncover cyber spying campaign: A computer security software firm has uncovered what it calls the first cyber espionage campaign believed to be started by a Spanish-speaking country, targeting government agencies, energy companies and activists in 31 countries. Click here for more.
Opposition parties offer Dotcom a lifeline: Kim Dotcom could be saved from extradition by Opposition MPs who have promised to review his case should they win the next election. Click here for more.
Hackers can crash iPhones with SnapChat: A cyber security researcher has discovered a vulnerability within the Snapchat mobile app that makes it possible for hackers to launch a denial-of-service attack that temporarily freezes a user's iPhone. Click here for more.
White hat hackers to gather in Tokyo: Computer security experts from Japan and abroad will gather in Tokyo later this month to discuss cutting-edge measures against cyberattacks. Click here for more.
Gadgets being hacked in Sochi: Say you're going to Sochi for the Winter Olympics. You've magically found a hotel that's actually complete and not full of rubbish and construction equipment. Click here for more.
360 million credentials stolen: A cybersecurity firm has reported it's uncovered the theft of credentials from some 360 million accounts and the details are available for sale on cyber black markets. Click here for more.
The Weird, Wide Web
Apple Olympic's forbidden fruit: It's hard to find fruit on the menu in Sochi's Olympic Park - and Apples are definitely not welcome. Click here for more.
Selfies a head lice heaven: Selfies are so fun. You've got your cool background - ideally, a sun-soaked beach or a compelling urban environment - and you've got your cool friends. Ideally lots of them. Click here for more.
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.
Government deletes $340m broadband initiative: A $340 million Broadband Investment Fund (BIF) established by the Labour government has been axed, the Government announced today. Click here for more.
Editorial row engulfs Wikipedia: The online user-generated encyclopaedia Wikipedia is considering a radical change to how it is run. It is proposing a review of the rules, that would see revisions being approved before they were added to the site. Click here for more.
It's raining romantic men online: Sydney's single women looking for love this Valentines Day should take heart – the man drought may turn out to be a flood – well, online at least. Click here for more.
I got scammed online: It began with an email. One new message. It ended in despair. Sitting in the office, the email came from a mate. One of my most trusted friends. The day was slow. Everywhere bad news. Click here for more.
Microsoft steps up browser battle: Microsoft has stepped up the battle to win back users with the latest release of its Internet Explorer browser. The US software giant says IE 8 is faster, easier to use and more secure than its competitors. Click here for more.
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