Actrix Newsletter November 2000

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.
Past newsletters may be viewed at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/
Questions and comments about the newsletter can be emailed to editor@actrix.co.nz
Other inquiries should be emailed to support@actrix.co.nz

 

Web Searching (Part 2)

Last month, you may recall, we looked at the various ways in which different search engines work, and how they rank pages for presentation to the searcher. You will recall that there were basically two types, search engines and directories. This month I want to look more closely at "true" search engines and how you can use Boolean logic and other "tricks" to save a lot of searching time.

To use search engines effectively, it is essential to apply techniques that narrow results and push the most relevant pages to the top of the results list. The main search engines that use these types of techniques are AltaVista, Northern Light, Google, Excite and Go. These search engines don't appear as "user-friendly" as search sites like the very popular Ask Jeeves, but when used properly, they can give better and much more specific results.

Read the stuff on Boolean logic slowly if you're new to searching. It isn't half as complicated as it sounds.

Identify Keywords

When conducting a search, obviously, you need to break down the topic into key concepts. For example, to find information on what is happening with Napster's battle against the Recording Industry of American Artists, the keywords might be:

          Napster      RIAA      MP3

Entering these three words together would probably be a big mistake. The search engine would return you all pages it found containing any single one of those words. This is where Boolean logic comes in so handy.

Norrie says........

Always listen to the wise geek!

"Don't be foolean,
use the Boolean!"

Boolean Logic

There are two types of Boolean logic: full and implied. Full Boolean logic uses the words AND, OR and NOT. Implied Boolean logic uses the symbols + or -.

Boolean AND: In order to make sure our search engine returns only pages that contain all three of those words, we could use implied or full Boolean logic by entering either of the following into the search field:

Implied:  Napster  +RIAA  +MP3
Full:  Napster  AND  RIAA  AND  MP3

The search engine will not return pages with just the word Napster. The search engine will only return pages where the words Napster, RIAA, and MP3 all appear somewhere within the same web page. Thus, the "Boolean AND" helps to narrow your search results as it limits results to pages where all the keywords appear.
Boolean AND NOT: AND NOT tells the search engine to retrieve web pages containing one keyword but not the other. For example if we wanted to find information on dolphins (the aquatic mammal), but not be bombarded with webpages devoted to Miami's American football team, we could use either implied or full Boolean logic as follows:

Implied: dolphins  -Miami
Full: dolphins  AND NOT Miami

The above examples instruct the search engine to return web pages about dolphins but not web pages that are likely to be about the Miami Dolphins. Use AND NOT when you have a keyword that has multiple possible meanings (such as "dolphin" in this case). The need for AND NOT often becomes apparent after you perform an initial search. If your search results contain heaps of irrelevant results (e.g., Saturn the communications company rather than Saturn the planet), try using AND NOT to filter out the undesired websites.


Boolean OR: Linking search terms with OR tells the search engine to retrieve web pages containing any, some or all keywords. We could use either implied or full Boolean logic as follows:

Implied: Including two or more words with nothing surrounding or separating them is equivalent to OR.
Full: Parrots OR budgerigars OR Cockatiels

When OR is used, the search engine returns pages with a single keyword, several keywords, or all keywords. Thus, OR expands your search results. Use OR when you have common synonyms for a keyword. You can surround OR statements with parentheses for best results. To narrow results even further you can combine OR statements with AND statements.

For example, the following search statement locates information on purchasing a used car:

(car OR automobile OR vehicle)  AND  (buy OR purchase)  AND  used

Note: Use AltaVista's Simple Search for implied Boolean (+/-) searches, and use AltaVista's Advanced Search for full Boolean (AND, OR, AND NOT) searches.
Phrase Searching

Surrounding a group of words with double quotes tells the search engine to only retrieve documents in which those words appear side-by-side. Phrase searching is a powerful search technique for significantly narrowing your search results, and it should be used as often as possible.

E.g.    "John F. Kennedy"    "New Zealand"    "global warming"

You can even combine phrase searching with implied Boolean (+/-) or full Boolean (AND, OR, and AND NOT) logic.

Implied:  +"heart disease"    +cause
Full:  "heart disease"   AND  cause

The above example tells the search engine to retrieve pages where the words heart disease appear side-by-side and the word cause appears somewhere else on the page.

 

NOTE ON IMPLIED BOOLEAN LOGIC (+/-): When a phrase search is combined with additional keywords using implied Boolean logic (+/-), you must put a plus or minus sign before the phrase as well as the other keywords. Do not put a space between the plus sign and the word.

+"Blowing in the Wind"   +Dylan


Plural Forms, Capital Letters and Alternate Spellings (Truncation)


Most search engines interpret lower case letters as either upper or lower case. Thus, if you want both upper and lower case occurrences returned, type your keywords in all lower case letters. However, if you want to limit your results to initial capital letters (e.g., "Ernest Rutherford") or all upper case letters, type your keywords that way.

Most search engines interpret singular keywords as singular or plural. If you want plural forms only, make your keywords plural.

A few search engines support "truncation" which allow variations in spelling or word forms. The asterisk (*) symbol tells the search engine to return alternate spellings for a word at the point that the asterisk appears. For example, civil* returns web pages with civil, civilise, civility, and civilisation. Chem* would return web pages with chemical, chemistry, chemically, etc. You should not, however, truncate with less than the first four letters of any word.


Title Searching

Title searching is one of the most effective techniques for narrowing results and getting the most relevant websites listed at the top of the results page. A web page is composed of a number of fields, such as title, domain, host, URL, and link. Searching effectiveness increases as you combine field searches with phrase searches and Boolean logic. For example, if you wanted to find information about George Washington and his wife Martha, you could try the following search:

Implied:  +title:"George Washington"    +President   +Martha
Full:  title:"George Washington"   AND    President   AND   Martha

The above "title search" example instructs the search engine to return web pages where the phrase George Washington appears in the title and the words President and Martha appear somewhere on the page. As with plus and minus, there is no space between the colon (:) and the keyword.

These search sites support Boolean logic:

Alta Vista
www.altavista.com

 

Northern Light
www.northernlight.com

 

Google
www.google.com

 

Excite!
www.excite.com

Go!
www.go.com

Domain Searching

In addition to the title search, other helpful field searching strategies include the domain search, the host search, the link search, and the URL search. The DOMAIN SEARCH allows you to limit results to certain domains such as websites from the United Kingdom (.uk), New Zealand (.nz) educational institutions (.edu), or military sites (.mil) and so forth.

Implied:  +domain:uk   +title:"Queen Elizabeth"
Full:  domain:uk   AND   title:"Queen Elizabeth"

Implied:  +domain:edu   +"lung cancer"    +smok*
Full:  domain:edu   AND  "lung cancer"    AND  smok*


URL Searching

The URL Search limits search results to web pages where the keyword appears in the URL or website address. A URL search can narrow very broad results to web pages devoted to the keyword topic.

Implied:  +url:halloween   +stories
Full:  url:halloween   AND  stories


Link Searching

Use link searching when you want to know what websites are linked to a particular site of interest. For example, if you have a home page and you are wondering if anyone has put a link to your page on their website, use the Link search. For example, if we wanted to find all the sites that have the Actrix main site as a link we would enter the following into the search field:

link:www.actrix.co.nz

Dr. Seuss Explains Why Computers Crash:

If a packet hits a pocket
                    on a socket on a port,
and the bus is Interrupted
                    at a very last resort,
and the access of the memory
                    makes your floppy disk abort,
Then the socket packet pocket
                    has an error to report.
~~~~~
If your cursor finds a menu item
                    Followed by a dash.
And the double-clicking icon
                    puts your window in the trash,
And your data is corrupted
                    cause the index doesn't hash,
Then your situation's hopeless
                    and your systems gonna crash!
~~~~~
If the label on the cable
                    on the table at your house
says the network is connected
                    to the button on the mouse,
but your packets want to tunnel
                    to another protocol,
that's repeatedly rejected
                    by the printer down the hall,
and your screen is all distorted
                    by the side effects of gauss,
till your icons in the windows
                    are as wavy as a souse,
then you may as well reboot
                    and go out with a bang,
'cuz sure as I'm a poet
                    the suckers gonna hang!
~~~~~
When the copy of your floppy's
                    getting sloppy in the disk,
And the macrocode instructions
                    cause unnecessary risk,
Then you'll have to flash the memory
                    and you'll want to RAM your ROM,
Quickly turn off the computer
                    and be sure to tell your Mom!

Buy Your New Vodafone Prepay through Actrix Networks

Get a Free Hands-free Headset

and

Go into a Draw to be one of Five to Win
$149.00 Free Airtime!

That's right! Actrix have teamed up with Digital Mobile to bring you the following great deal on Vodafone prepay mobile phones - exclusive to Actrix customers! Purchase any one of these six prepay phones using the Actrix online order form and you will receive a hands-free headset free of charge. You'll also go into a draw to be one of five to win $149 free airtime with your purchase.

Nokia 5110
Nokia 3210
Ericsson T10s
Alcatel DB
Motorola v2288
Sagem RC912

Here's how it works:

Check out the offer at www.actrix.co.nz/DigitalMobile where you can learn all about the phones, their benefits and features, and about the offer itself in more detail. Go to the online order form, fill it out and click submit. Your phone will be shipped to you within 48 hours by overnight courier, and you will be billed through your Actrix account. It's that simple!

This promotional offer ends on 30 November, so you will have to be quick. Please see the terms and conditions at the web site, and be advised that we will not process orders from customers who are more than a month behind in their Actrix payments.

 


Dean Moor here provides another valuable and interesting article, but takes a slight departure from our regular schedule of articles on hacking, to talk about viruses.

Viruses!

Hi Folks,

Look, I am sorry to do this to you but, instead of hacking, this month, I have decided to take this opportunity to make a request.

As many of you may have probably guessed by now, I am in the computer trade, namely security. A part of security (a major one at that) is ensuring systems are free of vulnerabilities. During the course of the last month I have had far too many call outs to preventable problems! A virus has caused every single one of these problems.

Now before many of you switch off, as I know many of you have heard this all before, I want to make a few simple points. I receive a list of the top ten most prevalent viruses in the world each week, and I am concerned to see that almost all of those on the top ten are not new!

The most disconcerting thing is not so much that people are being infected with viruses, but the fact that many do not have a virus scanner of any description, and even fewer update their definitions anywhere near enough. For example, I have recently seen one computer running a well known antiviral Program, but the virus definitions were 5 years out of date, another was four months out. Well, as you may have guessed the one that was 5 years behind was in a terrible state - lets just say 144 infected files! The four month old definitions had let three viruses through, one of which was a Trojan, one installed another (Called a Dropper) and the third was potentially destructive (mainly because it had not reached is trigger date).

Click the picture links:


Norton Antiviral Site, Update your Definitions, Search for Virus Information, and once again some free tools to use.


A free anti-virus program


McAfee: Another well-known virus solution provider

Now, let us see, there are approximately 20-30 new viruses discovered each day. For every day you do not update your antiviral Software that is how many viruses you ARE NOT protected against. The math is simple, the longer you leave updating, the greater the risk of being infected. Especially today, as the internet and emails become more popular, there are more people using these tools, and therefore more possible sources of infection. Even tonight, as I write this, I have just got back from a job where an email was received, opened, and forwarded, in that short time at least three people were infected.

Now what makes things even worse is the way virus creators have started working. It is no longer necessary to run an attachment to infect yourself with most of the new viruses. They are embedded (or included) in the actual email, so just opening them releases the nasty virus hiding inside. You see, because of cases like the recent LoveBug (that I am sure everyone heard about) people are starting to become wary of attachments. This has driven the creators of the viruses to find other ways of infecting your system.

Let's take the Kakworm virus for example. Now believe it or not, this virus is in Script format (for those not into web design, this refers to a small script to carry out a specific purpose that is included in a web page or rich text email). The kakworm script is the part that is attached to all outgoing emails. Now when someone opens the infected email, your computer must read the code of the email to know what to display where, and during this process the virus script (which is included in the actual email body) is also run. You see, most computers cannot tell the difference between a malicious piece of code and a regular piece of code. They just aren't that clever yet! Now, getting back to the virus, Your computer has just unknowingly run a small program that "drops" or installs two new files onto your hard drive. Now the virus is complete, and from this moment on, all outgoing rich text emails (the default format for most modern computers) include this little piece of code, which will do the dastardly deed of infecting unwary recipients.

Now for the good news, the defense. If you remember the very first article I wrote, and you are up to date with your Windows updates, you are safe from the Kakworm virus. Microsoft has released an upgrade through their Upgrade Site that prevents all viruses such as the Kakworm from being run. However, there are yet more viruses similar to this one, and many still to come that your computer may not stand a chance against.

This is why I urge you to make sure you are up to date with your protection. Now, if I have left some of you behind with my terminology, do not worry, for next month I shall be picking up where I left off with the security side of things, and most of the terms used in this article will be covered then.

I have included a few links to virus protection sites here and the current Top Ten list below for your information, but I really don't care if you get nothing else from this article other than the message - UPDATE and STAY THAT WAY. Doing this will save you both time and money in the future!

Thank you.

Dean Moor
StarTech
www.startech.co.nz


This is an anti-virus program I personally recommend (and sell!).



Trend Micro, Have a real time Virus Tracker, very interesting, and an excellent Virus Encyclopaedia plus some free tools

10 Most Prevalent In-the-Wild Malware Surveyed by Trend US
(week of: 06/11/2000 to 12/11/2000)

1. VBS_KAKWORM.A A Nasty Trojan That is embedded in an email! Just viewing this email will infect you!
2. TROJ_MTX.A
3. TROJ_BYMER
4. JOKE_RABBIT
5. TROJ_QAZ.A
6. JS_SEEKER.A
7. TROJ_SKA
8. VBS_LOVELETTER.AS Yep, still going strong! Last week this little beauty was number 1
9. JS_SEEKER.B
10. VBS_NETLOG.WORM

 

Some Useful Sites, and Some that Make You Wonder!
http://www.bbspot.com is a very entertaining site that presents you with an alternative to the daily news that always seems so bad. This collection of seriously written silly articles sure tickled my funny bone. Be warned though, some of it gets a little twisted. My favourite? "Head-Hunting Firm Decapitates 250."
www.kakaporecovery.org.nz - One of New Zealand's most threatened bird species, the kakapo, has entered the computer age with the launch of a new Kakapo Recovery Programme website by the Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark. The new website has been jointly developed by Comalco New Zealand, Forest and Bird, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) to increase understanding of New Zealand's distinctive green 'parrot of the night'.
http://www.phonespell.org/ - Ummm, perhaps you'd like to join the three million or so, so far, who have visited this site and entered their phone number to see how many different things it potentially spells. Perhaps...
http://www.adflip.com/ - This is an interesting, nostalgia-filled site for those of us who grew up during the sixties or seventies... It's like a giant archive of printed ad material, some of it quite modern. Worth a browse for a few moments. See what memories it brings back for you!
http://www.stairwell.com/stare/ - Stare Down Sally - Please don't visit this site or take on its challenge until you are quite completely and absolutely sure that you no longer have a life!
Don't forget that Actrix have a multitude of useful, interesting and/or fun links for you to try. One way to get the most out of the Internet is to explore it with your browser, learn from it, and use it to enhance your life. You can find these links, assembled under many, many different categories by clicking the "News and Links" button on our home page. This is also where Actrix will post the latest technical news items, or anything that we feel our customers ought to know about what might be currently going on with our company or network.

Introducing Actrix Web Design Services

Norrie's Nerd Words

Congratulations this month to the ten Norrie the Nerd chocolate bar winners for October: Joan Carter, Donald Gordon, Pascal Sigrist, Lyndsay McMillan, Alan Murgatroyd, Trevor Adair, Julie Herbert, David Merton and Colin Lundy!

For those who don't know me, my name is Norton Theodore Nerd III, and I am Actrix Networks Ancient Geek! Each month I try and find some excuse to give away Norrie the Nerd chocolate bars to Actrix customers. Recently I've been asking questions about my life story which you can read at my home page: http://www.actrix.gen.nz/users/norrie. This month I thought I'd do something different (mainly to thwart the little team of clever cookies who pounce on the newsletters as soon as they arrive, fire off the answer to my question, and win themselves a chocolate bar every month).

Good on 'em, but this time, the challenge is going to be a little harder. I want to know about your favourite sites on the net, or about sites that you think are really interesting and worth sharing with others. Email me the URL to a site you think I might find useful or funny. The best ten entries will receive a Norrie the Nerd chocolate bar courtesy of Actrix. Email your entry to norrie@actrix.co.nz. No porn sites, thanks. Enough of those seem to turn up as spam!!

The Internet is becoming an increasingly diverse experience - simple text and static pages have given way to dynamic content and streaming multimedia. E-commerce has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Technology is updating constantly to provide a better, faster, and more useful online world for everybody.

Actrix, as one of New Zealand's leading ISP's, is at the forefront of this new technology, and in the best possible position to meet your needs. Actrix can provide all the services and information for you to be set up, without the need for you to deal with a third party. Furthermore, the whole process can be conducted entirely online, and at no obligation.

Why use Actrix Web Services? Because Actrix, as a national ISP, provides the full range of services, allowing you to access all aspects of online activity in one place.

We have three distinct web design packages on offer, the first of which is described below:

The Start-Up Templated Web Site $599 incl GST
This is for new and inexperienced users who wish to set up a web site on the internet, of up to 3 (approx. A4) pages in size. Everything you could possibly need is taken care of. The site design, the web hosting on the Actrix servers, a dial up connection and a domain name (free for the first year).

This service can be requested online and will be based on an existing template design. You will pay a fee of $599 incl GST (due on completion) for up to 3 pages. Actrix will then complete the website within 14 working days if your site presents no complications.

To find our more, visit our online web design page at http://webservices.actrix.co.nz. You can place an order or request more information there.

Congratulations are in order for Anton DeWaal, the Actrix customer who won a digital camera from Force Technology last month, simply for inquiring about the Maximiser Customer Relations Management software on offer from Force Technology. If you'd like to learn more about how Maximiser might be able to help your business, consult the October newsletter!
ed.gif (2321 bytes) Bringing It All Back Home
And so the thirteenth Actrix newsletter comes to a close. Thank you to all those who have written in to express their appreciation, make suggestions, or just to comment. My e-mail door is always open at editor@actrix.co.nz. I am particularly interested in hearing ideas about internet related topics that interest or bewilder you.

Yours,

Rob Zorn

Actrix - http://www.actrix.co.nz
Norrie the Nerd - http://www.actrix.gen.nz/users/norrie
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Actrix Support - support@actrix.co.nz (0800-228749)
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