logo0004.jpg (15783 bytes)

This document is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution.
Past newsletters may be viewed at http://editor.actrix.gen.nz/newsletters/
This newsletter has been produced to help you get the most out of the Internet and to keep you,
as an Actrix customer, informed of developments and services within the company.
Questions and comments about the newsletter can be emailed to editor@actrix.co.nz
Other inquiries should be emailed to support@actrix.co.nz

Scams Plague the Internet

Based on an article by Tom Stein and published in The San Francisco Chronicle 7 September 1999.

Bill Banks, a 42-year-old financial planner from New Jersey, was in the market for a new set of golf clubs. Like many of today's wired consumers, he jumped onto the Internet to check out the best deals. He now wishes he hadn't.

Banks' foray led him to a small Internet company called Gary Player Direct Inc., named after the famous golf pro. Impressed with the look of the Web site and the Gary Player name, Banks placed a credit card order for $719 in April.

The clubs arrived a few weeks later, but after testing them out at his local golf course, Banks decided they weren't for him. The company had promised a 60-day money-back guarantee, so he shipped the clubs back and waited for his Visa statement to be credited. Four months later, he's still waiting -- and fuming.

"I've phoned their customer service number countless times, but mostly I've just been hung up on or disconnected," he said. "If this was a traditional retailer, I could go to the shop and stand in front of them and demand satisfaction," he said. "But in cyberspace, I feel I don't have any control."

The number of online fraud complaints leaped from 1,280 in 1997 to 7,752 last year, according to the Internet Fraud Watch, a consumer watchdog group in Washington. Susan Grant, who directs the organisation, expects to tally well over 10,000 complaints this year.

A number of consumer groups, such as the Internet Fraud Watch and Better Business Bureau Online, are popping up to educate the public about the perils of conducting business in cyberspace. For the most part, these groups believe in the power of the Internet and the convenience it offers consumers. They just want to make sure people are aware of the risks and take the proper precautions.

One piece of advice is to question out-of- this-world claims made on Web sites. "If it's too good to be true, it probably is," said Pat Wallace, president of the Bay Area chapter of the Better Business Bureau, based in Oakland.

The most flagrant piece of Internet fraud Wallace has encountered was a Web page hosted by a fly-by-night company called National Research Inc. The site was offering 12,000 free computers and all consumers had to do to receive one was send $20 to a certain post office box in Muskegan, Michigan.

"This was a pure scam," said Wallace. "They were cashing $20 cheques from anyone they could, and then they dropped off the face of the Earth."

Cash and cheques are the worst way to purchase goods and services over the Internet, according to experts. Cash, checks or money orders don't offer the same protection that a credit card does. Once a cheque or money order is cashed, there is little to no chance of restitution. Credit cards [make] up a minuscule 8 percent of all fraudulent transactions, while cheques and money orders made up 38 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

In an effort to make Internet shopping less risky for consumers, the BBB (Better Business Bureau Online) two years ago unveiled an online reliability program. As part of the program, a representative from the agency visits each company, no matter how big or small, at its place of business to determine whether it can indeed deliver on what it promises on the web site.

"We need to meet the people and ascertain the company has a real physical presence, and is not just a bunch of screens," said Steve Salter, project director for BBBOnLine.

So far 3,700 companies, such as Lands End, Staples, eBay and CDNow have received the seal of approval, while several hundred others have been turned down.

CYBERSHOPPING TIPS
  • Do business with companies you already know and trust.
  • Don't judge reliability by how nice or flashy a Web site may seem.
  • Look for the company's physical location, including the mailing address and phone number.
  • Determine the level of the company's security measures and privacy policies before submitting credit card or personal information.
  • Be extra cautious about deals that seem too good to be true.
  • Pay by credit card, not cash or cheque.
  • Print out a copy of your order and confirmation number for your records.
  • Know your rights. The same laws that protect you when you shop by phone or mail apply when you shop in cyberspace.

Actrix CityLink Promotion

Old faithfuls may remember an article I wrote on CityLink a number of months ago. If you'd like to view that article to learn more about CityLink, it is available at http://editor.actrix.gen.nz/newsletters/9911.htm.

It is a fibre optic network that winds its way through most of Wellington's central city streets providing an advanced yet low cost communications network for local business and government enterprises. It is designed to allow anyone in central Wellington the opportunity to be connected electronically to each other and to the world at local area network speeds. Actrix would like to offer a choice of packages aimed at making the benefits of Wellington's high speed fibre-optic network even more desirable. We have three basic option, each without any Actrix set-up costs.
Actrix Option One
$149 incl GST per month
500 free megs of traffic
20 cents/MB extra traffic
12 Month Service Level Guarantee
Recommended for CityLink Corporate Plus, and Corporate Lite. No installation fee for Corporate Lite.
Actrix Option Two
Flat rate $1100/month incl GST
12 Month Service Level Guarantee
Recommended for CityLink Corporate Plus, and Corporate Lite
CityLink Special Offer
Corporate Plus Dedicated 10Mbps Internet access with WIX installation, now just $3,125 and $345 per month +GST

Corporate Lite 10 Shared 100Mbps Internet access. Installation now free and $295 per month +GST

The promotion is valid until 1 July. If you'd like to know more, please contact either David Harding-Shaw (dave@actrix.co.nz) or Rachel Hiscock (rachel@actrix.co.nz) at Actrix, or Coral McLennan (coral@citylink.co.nz) at CityLink.  Coral may also be contacted by phone on (04)9170200 or 021-669-313.

To find out more about CityLink, visit their website at www.citylink.co.nz or click the CityLink logo above.

Those Dastardly Disconnects!

Disconnects have got to be one of the biggest banes of the Help Desk world! Nothing disgruntles a customer as quickly as a run of unexpected disconnects, and there are few things more disheartening than a lost download. Contrary to popular belief, and despite what message your platform my pop up at you when a disconnect occurs, Actrix does not actively bump people off the line. We reserve the right to do it sometimes, but in all my time here, we have never done it on purpose.

Occasional disconnects are bound to happen due to irregularities along the phone line. When it rains, or when it's cold and damp, line conditions will be much worse and disconnects will be more common. If you're in a rural area, or close to electric fences, you are more likely to have disconnect and/or speed problems. Your distance from your local telephone exchange can also play a part. I remember dealing with one customer over many evenings. It turns out he was being disconnected because he was too close to the exchange!

Now disconnects are a fact of internet life. It will happen to everyone occasionally. This is just the nature of the internet beast. Everyone will drop a connection now and then, but what can be done if you're one of those poor people against whom events and conditions have really seemed to conspire?

Disconnected?

20 Windows Error Codes
  • WinErr 001: Windows loaded - System in danger
  • WinErr 002: No Error - Yet
  • WinErr 003: Dynamic linking error - Your mistake is now in every file
  • WinErr 004: Erroneous error - Nothing is wrong
  • WinErr 005: Multitasking attempted - System confused
  • WinErr 006: System price error - Inadequate money spent on hardware
  • WinErr 007: Horrible bug encountered - Who knows what has happened?
  • WinErr 008: Window closed - Do not look outside
  • WinErr 009: Window open - Do not look inside
  • WinErr 010: Unexplained error - Please tell us how this happened
  • WinErr 011: Keyboard locked - Try anything you can think of.
  • WinErr 012: User error - Not our fault. Is Not! Is Not!
  • WinErr 013: Operating system overwritten - Please reinstall all your software. We are terribly sorry.
  • WinErr 014: System crash - We are unable to figure out our own code.
  • WinErr 015: Error recording error codes - Additional errors will be lost.
  • WinErr 016: Virus error - A virus has been activated in a dos-box. The virus, however, requires Windows. All tasks will automatically be closed and the virus will be activated again.
  • WinErr 017: Mouse not found - A mouse driver has not been installed. Please click the left mouse button to continue.
  • WinErr 018: Error buffer overflow - Too many errors encountered. Additional errors may not be displayed or recorded.
  • WinErr 019: Time out error - Operator fell asleep while waiting for the system to complete boot procedure.
  • WinErr 020: Insufficient Memory - Only 50,312,583 Bytes available.  
One common cause of disconnects is modems connecting at too fast a speed for current conditions which leads to your modem frequently having to re-negotiate its speed. Often this fails and the line is dropped. You cannot at all rely on your local phone lines to be able to match the maximum speed of your modem (hence Telecom will guarantee you no more than a 9.6K connection). With a 56K modem, you should not expect a connection speed of more than 48k, and if you do achieve more, you can expect more frequent disconnects. Try dropping the maximum speed of your modem (under modems/properties in your Control Panel). If that stops the disconnects, then local phone line quality is most likely the problem.

A second common cause of disconnects is modem incompatibilities. To lessen the chance of this you should try to be sure you have the latest firmware/drivers for your modem. You should definitely not assume that just because you have purchased your modem or computer recently that it came with the latest drivers. Modem drivers are being updated and improved all the time, and if you are having modem difficulties, it is best to upgrade your modem drivers before you blame anything else. Try entering your modem into a search engine to find a site where you can download the latest drivers.
Try searching at sites like www.56k.com which has a wealth of information on 56k modems as well as an excellent trouble shooting guide. Www. windrivers.com has a big list of hardware manufacturers and their websites where the latest drivers can usually be found. Downloading and installing the latest drivers for your modem is usually an easy step-through process. 56k.jpg (3214 bytes)
The statement, "My modem works fine with that other ISP but not with you," is not particularly helpful. Every modem will be compatible with someone's system, but there isn't a modem produced yet that is perfectly compatible with every system.

A third cause of frequent disconnects is line noise. Unplugging everything connected to your phonelines may help: caller ID boxes, extension telephones, cordless telephones, other modems, fax machines etc. Unplug your laser or deskjet printer from the wall outlet. Surge protectors and noise filters may also impair your phone line. If the problem goes away, you have something in your house causing the disconnects. It may seem silly, but you could even try taping your phone cord away from all electrical appliances.

If the line noise is not coming from within your home, it may be occurring because of something between your house and your local exchange. It is always worthwhile to ask your phone company to check your line for noise. If possible, get them to come out to your house and physically check it rather than just checking it from the central office.

Sometimes a loose or defective cable will cause disconnects. Make sure serial connections are tight, adapter pins aren't bent and that there are no cracks or nasty twists in the cable. Examine your cable carefully. It might even be a good idea to replace it, or experiment with swapping it around with another one.

Other Possible Disconnect Causes

Call Waiting - If you have call waiting and it is not disabled, an incoming call will usually cause your internet connection to drop. Because the phone will not ring when this happens, it is not always immediately apparent that an incoming call was the cause of the disconnect. In New Zealand you need to dial *52 before the connection number to disable call waiting (#29 if you are a Saturn customer). You can add this to the phone number in your dialup networking, but perhaps the best way is to put it into your dialling properties (or telephony) and make sure that dialling properties box is ticked in your dialup networking program.

Hardware Conflict - If your internal modem card is configured in conflict with another COM port (and believe me this happens too often) it may seem to work fine for a few minutes, and then it will simply freeze. If you find that describes your situation, you may want to consult a software expert or computer shop.

Automatic Disconnects - Your modem may be set to disconnect after a certain period of inactivity. Within the Windows platform, under modem properties, there is a setting for this. It is usually twenty minutes by default, and it is unlikely that this setting is causing frequent disconnects. In order to be thorough, though, it is a good idea to uncheck this setting.

Generally speaking, you should be able to hold your connection as long as you wish. There will always be occasional disconnects, because we are dealing with phone lines pushed to the very limit of their capacity when using the latest generation of modems. However, you should not get repeated disconnects. If you do, then something is not right and perhaps this article will help you work through some steps to isolate and correct the problem.

The latest Actrix promotion Has taken off very well! We have offered every school in New Zealand free internet access. On top of that we have offered every school student's family in New Zealand a One Cent Per Minute Plan already loaded with a $10 credit. On top of that, we promise to give back to the student's school, 10% of all the future money they spend using the Internet with Actrix Networks Ltd. On top of that, we are giving away $1000s worth of computer equipment to the schools with the highest ratios per student of Actrix sign-ups.

The level of interest and response has been very good with schools all over the country coming on board, so keep your eye out for notices if you have children at school, because we are also extending the offer to existing Actrix families.

If you'd like to know more about this promotion, click the animated Norrie link above.

Joseph's Jargon

This week, in recognition of the many brave souls venturing out onto the Internet for the first time, some really basic definitions:

Application An application is a special kind of file that performs tasks. Many applications can be used to make other files called documents. For example, Microsoft Word is a word-processing application that you could use to write a letter. The letter you write is a document.
Close When you have finished working with a file you need to close the file. You can do this by clicking on the close button on the top-right of the file’s window. This is a small button with an "X" on it.
NOTE: If you open more and more files without closing any, the computer will start to slow down. This will make it more difficult for you to do your work.
Disk The computer stores all its files, including all your work, on magnetic disks. Files can be stored on floppy disks, or they can be stored on a hard disk that is inside the computer system. It is a very good idea to keep one copy of your important documents on a floppy disk, and another copy on a hard disk that is inside the computer system. That way if you lose your floppy, you will still have a copy of your work on the system.

Business Solutions with

Force Technology has a Customer Relationship Management solution for individual or small business use. Introducing Maximizer, from Multiactive Software Inc (www.maximizer.com)

Maximizer has always helped people to manage customer information to their best advantage. Now, Maximizer is the complete customer information manager for single sales people and small workgroups

With Maximizer it’s easier than ever to

  • track every detail about your customers, prospects and vendors
  • stay in contact through mail, telephone, fax, E-mail and the Web
  • manage your time and schedule effectively

Some of the additional features of Maximizer include:

  • E-Commerce - create a professional Web site and start accepting orders and inquiries online! The information is automatically entered into your Maximizer database, so you’ll never miss an order.
  • Custom Report Writer - analyse contact information quickly and easily
  • Enhanced E-mail Centre - manage all of your electronic correspondence
  • Related Entries - link contacts for efficient project management
  • Company Library - store sales and marketing information in a central location
  • Personal Window - store information not related to a specific contact

Maximizer's main features are:

  • Easy Data Access - Search on any piece of data in the database including text, notes, user defined fields, last name, first name and many more.
  • Communication Convenience - The Maximizer Action menu includes “schedule to-do’s”, “make a call”, “write a letter” and   “send an email” features. Most common tasks can be done by dragging and dropping. Prepare and send personalised letters, faxes and emails. Maximizer will even print envelope labels!
  • Built in Word Processor - Create correspondence that can be attached to an Address Book entry, or can be used in a template for mail or fax merges. Spelling and Thesaurus included!
  • Handy Scheduling - View appointments and tasks by day, week, month or two-month option. The schedule information can be printed to many standard organisers such as DayTimer, DayRunner, Franklin, FiloFax and others.
  • Customisation - Personalise Maximizer by having favourite workspaces, column setups. Change fonts and colours in a selected window. Fully searchable User Defined Fields can be added quickly and easily.
  • Personal/Company Journal - Create Journal entries to keep track of personal matters, work related expenses and so forth.
  • Data Reports - Report on information in your customer database or design your own custom report with ReportSmith.

For Actrix customers Tracker Maximizer 5.0 is available from Force Technologies for   $445+GST. Installation and Training (if needed) $250+GST.

To order, phone Force Technology on 0800 536723 (fax: 0800 836723) or email gordon@forcetech.co.nz. You can also order through the Force shop at http://forcetech.safeshopper.com.
PC Requirements - Windows 95 or 98, 16 Mbyte RAM. Windows NT 4.0 32 Mbyte RAM.

max.jpg (9874 bytes)

Double-Click When you are told to double-click on an object, it means this: Use your mouse to position the pointer over the object, then press and release the left button on the mouse twice in quick succession.
NOTE: The time between the first and second clicks must be very short. If you find that you can’t double-click fast enough, ask someone to show you how to change the speed of your mouse.

Drag When you are told to drag an object, it means this: Use your mouse to position the pointer over the object, then PRESS AND HOLD DOWN the left button on the mouse, and use the mouse to move the pointer to the desired part of the screen, then release the button. The object will move with the pointer – That is, it will be dragged across the screen.
Drive A drive reads and writes the information that is stored on a disk. The drive that reads and writes information on a floppy disk is called the A-Drive or the Floppy Drive.
The drives that read and write information on hard disks are called hard drives.
Folder A folder is a special type of file that is used to store and organise other files. Folders can contain documents, applications, and other folders. A folder’s icon looks like a little manila folder. Folders are also known as directories.
Right-Click When you are told to right-click on an object, it means this: Use your mouse to position the pointer over the object, then press and release the right button on the mouse once.

 

Netscape Certificate Expirations

Some of the older versions of Netscape came with built in Verisign security certificates which now need to be updated. Customers using Netscape versions older than 4.06 (which was released in August 1998) may find that they are unable to make secure transactions on the net, or that an expiration box will appear each time they try to access a secure site. The expiration of the Verisign certificates is normal, but it may well still be a nuisance.

Netscape encourages its users, especially those with versions 4.05 or earlier, to update to the latest version (4.72). This can be done at their website (www.netscape.com) by clicking the download arrow.  

If you have trouble with large downloads for whatever reason, you can order Netscape on cd for little more than a shipping fee.

Technical News

At Actrix we have recently taken positive steps to improve services. On Saturday April 15 we brought on-line a second Mail and POP server. These provide an improved back-up. Both servers will be working in parallel so that we can ensure very speedy performance for both the sending and receiving of email messages.

Should one server have a problem it can then be easily taken off-line for repairs while the other server keeps running without any interruption to services. Both these servers are currently in the same location but it is also planned that shortly they will be housed in separate locations, one in Wellington and one in Auckland in case of any regional problems.

On Saturday we also upgraded our primary DNS server, ensuring that we can continue to guarantee both excellent security and efficient services in this area.

Easter/Anzac Help Desk Hours

For the entire Easter/Anzac break, Actrix support will be available only between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m (that's from Good Friday 21 April right through until Anzac Day Tuesday 25 April). Starting Wednesday the Support crew will be back into full swing and we will resume our usual 24 hour coverage.

You can contact our support team by phone on 0800-228749, or you can email support@actrix.co.nz.

Norrie's Nerd Words

nbaby.gif (11154 bytes)

Actrix Web Design and Maintenance

Actrix's award winning design team can develop a web site that meets your specific needs - whether you just need a few pages or much larger complex web sites. Each web site is custom built with your specific requirements in mind. Your site will be unique - not chosen from a list of preset designs that have been used over and over again. We cater to all formats of web design.

Please talk to us about your needs and to view some examples of our work. We can also provide a full written quote.

But building a web site is only part of the task. Once you have a web site its important to maintain it. For most businesses it is imperative to have your web site kept current as it is a source of timely information for your customers. Out of date links or contacts will reflect badly on your company and often results in the loss of potential customers, whilst current customers become frustrated by your lack of effective communication through this medium. Our web team is able to ensure that your site is kept up to date and makes sure you get the most out of your web presence. We can also aid you in maintaining your web site yourself. Contact Actrix for pricing information at support@actrix.co.nz.

Paul Walker

Our head-designer Paul Walker at one of his favourite Actrix designed sites - http://www.91zm.co.nz/

Even as a baby I was never scared of challenges! Above is a picture of me with my first ever computer that I built myself out of an old nappy crate and a play-pen abacus. All I had to do was grab the nearest mouse, and Bill was my uncle!
I was really chuffed to see that my web site received over 1000 separate visits during the first two weeks after it was unveiled. Thanks to all those who visited and who got their friends and contacts from all over the world to stop by. It was great to look at the stats and see so many hits from overseas. I don't mind sharing!

For those of you who don't know, my web site is primarily devoted to explaining in very basic terms how any Actrix customer can make and publish their own free website. There are also some pictures of me dispensing wisdom and advice to many famous people. If you are interested in learning a little html, and/or publishing your own web site, let me show you how, for free! You can access my web site at http://www.actrix.gen.nz/users/norrie/.

In good time (between technical emergencies, audiences with famous people, ham sandwiches and black coffee) I will also be publishing my memoirs, my life story so far. I'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I am still accepting challenges. If you can stump me on an internet-related technical issue, I promise to send you a six-pack of chocolate fish, courtesy of Actrix Networks Ltd. Your Actrix account will also receive a $10 credit. You do have to know the answer yourself, though. Please don't feel you have to be some sort of expert to have a go. I just might surprise you!
My Back Pages

Once again it's "So long," from Norrie and me. I hope you found something here that was either fun or useful. Next month I hope to write a little on how an ISP actually works, and what happens between the time you click Connect and the time you log off. I'll also be including some pictures. Jeremy will have some great information on free and useful downloads for you next time too.

Until then,

Yours,
Rob Zorn
editor@actrix.co.nz