Actrix Newsletter April 2002

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/
Newsletters are now archived by article at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle/
Questions and comments about the newsletter can be e-mailed to editor@actrix.co.nz
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to support@actrix.co.nz

 

Cutting Down on Your Help Desk Reliance

Nobody at Actrix is going to deny that there are times when it is difficult to get through to the help desk. With the help of our own inimitable Jim Breen, I've listed below a few things you can think about that may cut down the number of times you have to find yourself in a frustrating phone queue.

Now, my aim is not to discourage your use of the help desk. Every Actrix customer is entitled to call the help desk as often as they like for free. You are more than welcome to. However, we've gleaned a few tips for you here that represent some of the most common call causes. In a lot of cases customers may find that they can help themselves quite quickly without needing to call the support team at all.

Suggestions:

1.
Set http://www.actrix.co.nz as your homepage so you can keep up with latest developments which are posted there most days. You can then also get familiar with the things you can check yourself from there. All the Actrix plan types are described under the Domestic menu. If you want to find out about them, a few clicks is all it takes.

2.Go to the Actrix homepage and enter the Members Account section (you'll need your username and password)/ You'll find all sorts of things you can do with your own account in there.

3. If you are getting multiple e-mails or cannot download an e-mail try using the Actrix Webmail feature. You can usually delete the offending mail from there yourself.

4. Use the Contact Us link to send an email for routine matters or non-urgent inquiries.

5. If you have lost your invoice you can print it out yourself under Members Account/My Info/Statements.

6. While you're in the Members Section, check that your postal address is current and update it using My Info/Edit my Account/ Change contact details.

7. If you are getting disconnected after checking e-mail, go to Tools/Options/Connections and untick the box that says "Disconnect after sending and receiving." This is a very common problem.

8. If you do need to call, and you really have no idea what is going wrong, try restarting the computer and try connecting again before calling Support. Many problems are simply caused by software having got itself into knots. This can also help if you're finding your Internet traffic has slowed after you've been online for a little while. If you have one of the more "economical" software modems that rely on your computer's processor for their grunt, then they too can get themselves tied up in knots, especially if there's a load on your processor. Simply disconnecting and re-connecting can make all the difference (for a little while).

9. Have the computer switched on when you call Support.

10.Be at the computer with the phone when you call.

11. Know what your username or account number or email address is.

12. Keep track of what error messages you were receiving when the problem occurs. Write them down before you call if you can.

13. Remember that we give support for Internet related problems and that we are not a computer support centre. We can't help with things like printers, scanners, and any other programs you may have installed such as ICQ, Realplayer, Word etc.


Congratulations to Actrix Free Time Winners!

by Amber McEwen
(Marketing)

Congratulations to our 50 winners who won either 6 months free Internet or had 5000 minutes added to their account simply by registering to pay their Actrix account automatically by credit card. Our winners were spread from Auckland in the north to Queenstown in the south.

CyberByte 1 Winners CyberByte 30 Winners CyberByte 100 Winners CyberByte 300 Winners
Deon, Lower Hutt
Wayne & Gayla, Whangarei
Desmond, Wellington
Ian, Auckland
Karen, Nelson
John, Christchurch
Lloyd, Napier
Jane, Queenstown
Jim, Auckland
John, Taupo
Vijaya, Wellington
Peter, Auckland
Murray, Wellington
A&T Williams, Nelson
Graeme & Isobel, Te Puke
B Paul, Paeora
Yvonne, Porirua
D Summers, Morrinsville
Myles, Christchurch
Darryl, Hamilton
Fred, Wellington
Keith, Tauranga
David, Paraparumu
Ashley, Christchurch
Rob, Christchurch
T Sawers, Taupo
Neil, Wellington
Andrew, Auckland
Neal, Auckland
Doug, Takanini
Bill, Wellington
Tony, Wellington
Linda, Auckland
Bill, Palmerston North
John, Auckland
Amjad, Auckland
Andrew, Queenstown
Andrew, Auckland
Shirley, Wellington
David, Wellington

It is very simple to pay your account automatically by credit card. All you have to do is log into the Members Account Login section on our website and go to My Services/Payment Options/Automatic Credit Card Payments and follow the instructions. As your monthly bill may change from time to time Actrix will advise you via an e-mail statement of the amount we are to deduct. This gives you time to call our Help Desk to query your account, or stop payment if necessary. So although this system is fully automated you remain in control. So register your credit card details with us today and you wont have to worry about paying your Actrix bill on time again!

Amber McEwen
Actrix Networks Ltd


April is the Cruelest Month
Yep, More Viruses

by John Anderson

It looks like April is going to be a busy month internationally for viruses. In the last fortnight there have been several major worms which are spreading through the world, and New Zealand. At the current rate, we will probably see at least another five major viruses before the end of the month.

We cannot emphasise enough that every user of the Internet must update and scan their computer at least once a week. At the moment, if you're a frequent user, I would suggest doing this every three days.

And never, never open an attachment without asking yourself the following questions:

1) Do I know the sender?
2) Am I expecting this attachment?
3) Do I really need to open this before updating my virus scanner?

Here are a few of the top viruses at the moment, already received by Actrix staff:

W32.MyLife.B@mm

This mass mailing worm arrives with the subject line "bill caricature", and has a badly spelt message. When you run the attachment "Cari.scr" it displays a cartoon and attempts to delete files. You can find out more details here.

W32.MyLife@mm

The first version of the MyLife virus arrives with the subject line "my life ohhhhhhhhhhhhh". When you run the attachment called "My Life.scr", under certain conditions, it will delete files. Details are available here.

W32.FBound.gen@mm

This is another mass mailing worm that has been particularly persistent. It arrives with an attachment called patch.exe. While it does no known damage to a system, it does email itself to everybody in your address book. Further details about this virus can be found here.

W32.Gibe@mm

This virus contains the following text:

From: Microsoft Corporation Security Center
Subject: Internet Security Update
Message:
Microsoft Customer,
this is the latest version of security update, the update which eliminates all known security vulnerabilities affecting Internet Explorer and MS Outlook/Express as well as six new vulnerabilities.


The attachment with this virus is called Q216309.exe. The payload for this worm is that it e-mails itself to addresses held in your computer and it also installs a Trojan, which will allow people to access your computer from another computer without your permission.

Summary

This month's picks rely on the user to click on the attachment before activating. To get around this, the e-mails encourage the receiver to click on it. This type of attack is called social engineering. Putting patches on your computer is good thing, so you do it. Unfortunately every time you run an attachment on Windows, that attachment can do what it likes, where it likes.

To avoid viruses, remember the following:

1) Keep virus definitions up to date and scan regularly.
2) Watch out for attachments which you are not expecting.
3) Really watch out for attachments. Full stop.
4) Bad spelling should ring alarm bells.
5) Joke e-mails are great, but will you still be laughing when they have erased those files that your computer needs to work?
6) Microsoft DOES NOT EMAIL PATCHES AND FIXES!


Interesting Sites (Click the picture links to access the 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? Let me know and receive a free Norrie the Nerd chocolate bar courtesy of Actrix!

Congratulations to last month's chocolate bar winners who correctly identified a memory technique from the Mind Tools site. There were just too many to mention them all, but I hope they all enjoyed their free chocolate!

Online Volleyball
http://macmo.no/spill/ - This game is a a fun diversion for a while, though it's harder than it looks. You get to be the green jellybaby playing against the red jellybaby in a sunny beach setting. Use your arrow keys to get your jellybaby under the ball, and use the up arrow to spike and block!
Underground France - Virtual Tour
http://triggur.org/cata/ - 180 miles of tunnels underneath Paris are lined with the bones and skullsof an estimated 7,000,000 people who died in the 10th Century! The first mile of these tunnels are open to the touring public. Here's an interesting picture discovery tour of these Paris catacombs.
News of the Weird
http://www.newsoftheweird.com/ - Here's a giant repository of idiocy, odd happenstance, dumb criminals, unusual acts, peculiar pastimes, queer occurrences, freakish tragedies, quirky anecdotes, erratic behaviour, strange tales, and last, but not least, weird news. Click the "The News" link to access the archive. A free daily mailing of weird news is available too if you want to sign up.
Find a Kiwi
www.findakiwi.co.nz - This is another site recommended by Malcolm. Find a Kiwi is a simple to use website that allows you to find out what your old school and college friends are doing now and where they are now living. The Find a Kiwi database lists 2,858 NZ Secondary and Primary Schools, Colleges and Universities.
Old Friends
www.oldfriends.co.nz - Here is another site very similar to Find a Kiwi listed above. This site was submitted by Kirsty Russell. Use OldFriends to find out what your old friends are doing now. They list over 2500 New Zealand Schools. OldFriends is FREE to use - click the map to begin!
Top Secret Recipes
www.topsecretrecipes.com/ - There are all sorts of interesting recipes, legends about American food chains, and tidbits of information here. Learn how to copy the taste of famous fast food in your own kitchen. Click the Recipes link to find the archive of recipes.
Earth Files
www.earthfiles.com/ - This site reports on international news and concentrates mainly on that which is strange in a scientific way, particularly with regards to the environment. Of particular interest is the section on Real X-Files. Those into ghosts may be interested in the interview with security guards at the September 11 crash site in Pennsylvania.
Conspiracies!
www.nzweb.co.nz/dir.asp?cat=/Society/Issues/Conspiracy/ - This page, hosted in New Zealand, contains links to everything you would ever want to know about conspiracies. Did you know that President Clinton contracted AIDS by injection and that the Bible foretold this? Did you know that President Lyndon Johnson engineered the assassination of JFK? If you would like to "know" these sorts of things, then this is the page for you.
The Best Site Ever
www.shibumi.org/eoti.htm - This is claimed by some to be the best site ever on the Internet. Well, what can I say? Thank you to Julian Winston for the link.
Quack Watch
www.quackwatch.com - Your Guide to quackery and alternative medicine! Quackwatch, Inc., a member of Consumer Federation of America, is a nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to combat health-related frauds, myths, fads, and fallacies. Its primary focus is on quackery-related information that is difficult or impossible to get elsewhere.
UFOs, Mysteries and Phenomena
www.anw.com/mysteries.htm - Are you an alien abductee, but don't realise it? Your answers to the 52 questions regarding common indicators of alien abduction may be very revealing. Find a link to the questions at this site, as well as a host of other sites about this sort of stuff.
Egyptian Mythology
http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/archange/ - Thank you Sonja Hickey for this site which should be of interest to anyone fascinated by Egyptology or archaeology. Find out about the different gods and pharaohs and learn all about embalming. You can even e-mail Sekhet yourself! What I really loved was the way the little light comes on when you mouse-over links!

Cyberspace News Snippets

Windows Wire

"Ghost" haunting XP computers unmasked: Some home computers pre-installed with Microsoft's Windows XP and Office XP software have been found sneakily inserting words into documents. According to Microsoft, this mysterious behaviour can be explained by the built-in voice recognition software, which may be installed and activated by some computer retailers as a default option. Click here for more.

Optimise and tweak Windows XP with Tweak-XP: Totalidea Software has released Tweak-XP, an application that adds 22 time-saving productivity improvements to Windows XP. In addition to tuning Windows XP to run faster and block annoying pop-up ads in Internet Explorer, Tweak-XP's easy-to-use functions let you tailor the Windows interface to meet your personal needs. Click here for more.

The Penguin Roars

Linux to have a breakout year: Making its annual Top 10 IT predictions for 2002, IDC on Thursday forecasted that hype surrounding Web services would reach a fever pitch, that Linux would have a "breakout year," and that IT spending would see a gradual upswing beginning no later than mid-year. Click here for more.

IT-Director: Linux Gets Even More Friendly: It is difficult to keep some things out of the news. For example, legal cases against large software companies and developments in the area of storage management have crossed the electronic wires in ever increasing numbers. Click here for more.

MacNews

New 10GB iPod; iPod contact management software debuts: Apple today introduced a second iPod model with twice the storage capacity as the original device. The 10GB iPod enables users to store up to 2,000 CD-quality songs. Also, Apple has released free software that adds the ability for iPod users to download and store contact lists with up to 1,000 names and addresses. Also, users wanting to add a custom look for their iPods can now get them custom-engraved with laser etching. Click here for more.

iMacs now in 'volume production: At today's Macworld Expo keynote address in Tokyo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted that the company is now in shipping the new flat panel iMac in volume. Jobs said that Apple is shipping more than 5,000 iMacs per day, and hope catch up with demand soon. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Watch out: Viruses will only worsen Survey : Sam Costello, Framingham Corporations were hit with a monthly average of 113 virus infections for every 1000 PCs they owned in 2001, according to the seventh annual survey of virus prevalence in the enterprise conducted by ICSA Labs, a division of security services firm TruSecure. Click here for more.

Teen Girls Say They're Net-Savvy: Most teen-age girls consider themselves to be the savviest computer user in their home - better than their brothers and, naturally, way better than their parents. Indeed, more than half the girls questioned in a new survey said they can chat, flirt and even read parents' e-mail without them catching on. Almost 20 percent say they could hack into a school computer. Click here for more.

UK study: Passwords often easy to crack: Computer passwords are supposed to be secret. But psychologists say it is possible to predict a password based on the personalities of users or even what is on their desks. Objects around the office may not seem important. But they may help someone to crack your computer password and masquerade as you, sending e-mails, accessing files and even plundering your online bank account. Click here for more.

Swain to ask minor parties for e-bill help: Commerce minister Paul Swain will door-knock minor parties over Easter to see if they will expedite the knowledge economy enabling Electronic Transactions Bill, but anti-hacking legislation before the election remains uncertain. Click here for more.

Tech Head Scoop

IP Addresses Will Run Out by 2005: Space on the current generation of the internet will run out by around 2005 unless the European Union states speed up plans to roll out a new IP version, a European Commission report warns. The Commission argues EU moves to speed up rollout of Internet Protocol version 6 (Ipv6) would provide a boost to Europe's current position as world leader in mobile communications. Click here for more.

The Weird Weird Web

Scientists test first human cyborg : A British university professor has been fitted with cyborg technology enabling his nervous system to be linked to a computer. Click here for more.

Face recognition - for your cat : So your cat keeps bringing dead (or half dead) animals in to your house. What do you do? Obviously, you set up a digital camera to monitor the cat door and lock her out if she has something in her mouth. Click here for more.

Web Surfing Gives You Goldfish Brains: Spending too much time on the Internet can leave you with an attention span of about nine seconds the same as that of a goldfish. This is because of the addictive nature of web browsing, the BBC reported, quoting a study by an expert at MIT. Click here for more.

Web Rage Hits the Internet: More than half of all internet users admit to losing their rag with the net at least once a week, according to a Mori study. High on people's stress meter is the length of time it takes websites to appear, help buttons that do not offer any help and requests for personal details before being allowed into a site. Click here for more.


Linux - Open Office

by John Anderson

Thanks, John, for your article. John Anderson works on the Actrix help desk, and hopes to contribute articles to the newsletter over the next few months, particularly with a focus on Linux. John is also keeping us up-to-date with his own progress coming to grips with this operating system. -Ed.

Unfortunately, this month's article has to be a short one. You can expect much more from me next month. I downloaded Open Office several weeks ago. The installation was painless, and professional. While I waited for my machine to run through the setup, the slideshow utility ran through the capabilities of the product. Since then I've used it to write several articles and documents with complex formatting and only once or twice had to look around for what I wanted. I've still yet to explore all the capabilities of this huge product. I will update you further as I explore all the possibilities.

Next month, I'll be starting a new segment on installing Debian/GNU Linux. We're also working on providing installation CDs at cost for those who are interested in trying Linux.

If you are interested in installing Linux, try these links:

Debian Planet - http://www.debianplanet.org/
Linux Newbie - http://www.linuxnewbie.org/
Linux and Debian Documentation - http://www.debian.org/doc/

And fresh information about Open Office can be found here:

Open Office - http://www.openoffice.org/

If you have any questions about Linux, please contact me at janderson@actrix.co.nz.

A Little Levity

Ten Axioms for the Internet

10. In Gates we trust.
9. A journey of a thousand sites begins with a single click.
8. You can't teach a new mouse old clicks.
7. Don't byte off more than you can view.
6. What boots up must come down.
5. C: is the root of all directories.
4. Oh, what a tangled Web site we weave when first we practice...
3. Too many clicks spoil the browse.
2. The geek shall inherit the earth.
1. Will Windows will never cease?


You Know It's Time To Join E-mailers Anonymous When:

You wake up at 3 am to go to the bathroom and stop to check your E-mail on the way back to bed.

You turn off your modem and get this awful empty feeling, as if you just pulled the plug on a loved one.

You spend half of the plane trip with your laptop on your lap... and your child in the overhead compartment.

You decide to stay at university for an additional year or two, just for free Internet access.

You find yourself typing "com" after every full-stop, when using a word processor.com

You refer to going to the bathroom as downloading.

You can't call your mother... she doesn't have a modem.

You check your mail. It says "no new messages" - so you check it again.

You move into a new house and decide to netscape before you landscape.

You start tilting your head sideways to smile.

After reading this, you immediately want to e-mail it to someone.


Bringing It All Back Home

Thanks for visiting the Actrix newsletter. Once again I hope there was something of benefit for you here.

I apologise that it's a little late due to the fact that I was on leave for much of March. I am really grateful to John Anderson for his extra help this month which made it possible to get this newsletter out at all by the end of March.

Always remember your questions and comments about the newsletter are more than welcome.

Rob Zorn
editor@actrix.co.nz
http://editor.actrix.co.nz