August '05 Topics
Individual articles from Past Actrix Newsletters are archived in
August '05 Topics
Actrix Contact Info
Actrix Help Desk
Help Desk Hours
Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings
- they did it by systematically killing all those who opposed them.
Top 10 Viruses
This newsletter has been produced to help you
get the most out of the Internet,
It's been quite a month! Bomb blasts in London would have to mark the low point, but excellent results for the All Blacks against the British and Irish Lions was definitely a high point.
I was heartened by BBC report in the New Zealand Herald about users getting more careful about what they do online. It seems the message is getting through that it is dangerous to click on unknown e-mail attachments, and not everybody who asks you for your password has your best interests at heart. People are also becoming more careful to avoid spyware which is also encouraging news. In general, people do seem to be becoming more aware of what the dangers are and how they can be avoided.
If this trend continues, there's a good chance we will see a decline in the dangers. After all, spam only continues to be a problem because the spammers find it worth doing. I can only imagine that it is users very new to the Internet that respond to it. If they had been around online for any reasonable length of time they would be as annoyed by it as the rest of us and wouldn't give it the time of day. I'm hopeful that as the Internet becomes more and more central in all of our lives (and I'm sure that's going to happen) online scams, spam and security pitfalls will lessen, at least as we know them. Levels of user sophistication will gradually rise to the point where they no longer become profitable. Or am I over-estimating the intelligence of the general population world-wide?
We've done a bit of a clean-up and re-design of the page where past articles are archived. Some of them had become a little out of date and needed to be culled. You can see the changes at http://editor.actrix.co.nz/byarticle.
We've also added a link on that page that goes to another page listing Interesting Sites from the past (those that still exist). Interesting Sites is usually one of the most read parts of the newsletters, so I thought readers might like such an archive. It will be a work in progress though. So far I've only managed to archive past sites from 1999 and 2000. I'll keep chipping away at it as time allows.
Exciting news from us here at Actrix is that we are now able to offer customers broadband direct. In the past we've had to provide JetStream on Telecom's behalf. Now we're able to provide the service directly. Telecom called it JetStream. We call it CyberJet. It's the same product, but now we have some control over how it's delivered, which means we can come up with our own plans. We think we've managed to find a good point of difference in our approach and we can truly say - 'Actrix CyberJet, just like JetStream, only better." Please see the article below!
June 2005's newsletter contained an article entitled What is Broadband and When Will I Need It? The article attempted to cover some of the issues involved with the term "broadband" that we've been hearing so much about. It explained what it is, roughly how it works, how you could get it and why you would want to.
We also covered how things were changing and how ISPs are now able to provide DSL broadband directly to the public instead of just on behalf of Telecom. The best news of all is that we reckon we've come up with some broadband plans that stand head and shoulders above what our competitors are offering. More on that, of course, below.
The type of broadband we're talking about is called DSL and it works over your existing copper phone line. Telecom marketed the product under the brand name JetStream. Actrix can now provide this product for you under the brand name CyberJet.
The advantages of Actrix CyberJet broadband
As covered in June's article, there are a number of really significant advantages to getting Actrix CyberJet broadband. These include:
How much $$$ and how fast is it?
I could rattle on about technical terms like "asynchronous" and "jiggerhertz" or I could explain at length the difference between bits and bytes, but most people will be concerned with just these two things. What will I get, and what will it cost?
Actrix has three residential CyberJet plans available1:
CyberJet 256 Home: about 4-5 times faster than dialup, $39.95
If you've been struggling along on dialup for the last few months or years, then its the 256 Home Plan that you might want to consider. Imagine how much better Internet use would be if the Internet worked 4-5 times faster! All those things that were slow and tiresome on dialup suddenly become everyday possibilities: downloading mp3s2 or movies, playing games with people all around the world, finding those images you need for your hobby or school project, visiting all those sites of interest without having to wait twiddling your thumbs, listening to radio stations from around the world, making telephone calls across the Internet, chatting without lag, sending and receiving digital photos, watching video streams and movie trailers. The list goes on and on.
You don't do half those things? If you're on a dialup connection, I'm not surprised! It is agreed that the Internet is the most important development over the last 100 years. Its life-enriching potential is beyond comparison. For $39.95 that potential is yours in abundance!
The Actrix CyberJet point of difference
Now the one thing that worries ISPs a little bit about giving their customers broadband access to the Internet is that some users are going to go "hell for leather" and download stuff at a constant rate of knots. If too many do this all at once, it will start eating into resources to the detriment of other users. So what the ISP typically does is introduce a cap or a throttle. Once a user has downloaded 10 gigabytes of traffic in a month, their connection speed is throttled back to 64kb/s (a little bit faster than dialup but not much) until their billing month is over and their full speed allocation is restored (until they've done another 10 gigabytes).
At Actrix, we believe we've thought of a better and fairer way to handle this problem. We won't restrict your download traffic by the month, we'll do it by the day. On the 256K Home plan we'll allow you to download 350 megabytes (enough to fill up half a CD with data, or roughly 100 mp3s) in one day, and then we'll restrict your speed to 64Kb/s until Midnight that night. On the stroke of Midnight your speed restriction disappears and you're free to hammer our bandwidth again until you've downloaded your daily 350 megabytes once more. On the 1MB Home plan we'll allow you 700 megabytes (a whole CD, or about 200 mp3s) before we restrict your speed for the rest of the day. On the 2MB Home plan we'll only restrict you after a whole Gigabyte (1.5 CDs or about 300 mp3s).
We think this is a lot fairer. If you have a period of heavy Internet use (and it really has to be pretty heavy before you hit 350 megabytes in a day) you only have to wait until midnight before your speed restriction ends (instead of having to wait until the end of the month). The average user won't use 350 megabytes in a day and so won't notice any restrictions at all. Conceivably then, our 256 Home CyberJet plan could allow up to 10.5 gigabytes of downloaded traffic before any speed restrictions were imposed. The amounts are even higher for the 1MB Home and 2MB Home plans.
The other advantage to this system is that the heavy downloaders will start going crazy with their downloads around Midnight when the rest of us sane people are in our beds, and when there is a lot more spare bandwidth to go around.
What other costs are there?
Connection Fee: Normally $99.00, but free until 30 September
if you commit for six months.
What conditions are there?
There are really only two conditions. First, in order to get the discounts mentioned above you have to sign up for six months. You don't have to pay in advance, but you'll be charged an early disconnection fee of $99.00 if you cancel your CyberJet rate within six months of the date you sign up for it. Second, you also have to accept Actrix as your telephone toll calls provider. That's easy and can be done via an online signup form. Unlike some of our competitors, we don't require a minimum monthly spend on tolls. In fact, it doesn't matter if you never make a toll call at all. If you don't wish to move your tolls to Actrix, you can still have the plans and discounts above, but there will be an extra charge of $10 per month on your CyberJet account.
How do I sign up?
Just go to our CyberJet signup page and choose the appropriate signup form (existing or new customer). Fill it out and click Submit and we'll start processing your application immediately. We'll e-mail you to let you know when you will be connected and when you can expect your modem to arrive. There's a bit of co-ordinating involved, and the whole process usually takes about a week. We can usually update you on the status of your order if you request it during that time, and, of course, our great, free helpful help desk is available to talk you through any problems.
So if you're thinking about making that next move when it comes to Internet speed, now is the time to take advantage of these offers. The Internet is a much more exciting and useful place when it's faster. There's only one disadvantage, really. Once you've experienced high-speed, you'll never be satisfied on dialup again.
If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send me an e-mail with the word "Forum" in the subject line. I'll try and get an answer to you by return e-mail, and will also post the answer here for the benefit of others who may have a similar question or problem. By the same token, if you read something here and think you may have something to suggest, please feel more than free. Please also note that questions and answers may also turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).
Ken writes: Hi Rob, We will be shortly exchanging houses for a couple of weeks with a couple in Christchurch. We would like them to be able to use our computer and email if needed. My question is: Is there any way we can stop them looking at our folders? We don't have much worth looking at, but even so it would be best not to put temptation in their way. We have Windows XP which we keep up to date. Regards and thanks for your always interesting bulletins. Ken
Hi Ken, With Windows XP, it is pretty easy to set up multiple user log-ins, so I asked Steve Trayhorne from Support to put some instructions together. They contain a fair few graphics so I thought I'd put them on a separate page. If anyone would like to know how to protect data by setting up multiple users on XP, click here.
Norman writes: My old faithful finally gave up the ghost and I've acquired a modern computer with Windows XP Home. On the old one I had a ZoneAlarm firewall, but I notice that Windows XP has its own built in firewall. How does the Microsoft firewall compare with ZoneAlarm? Is it safe to leave it alone or should I disable the Microsoft firewall and install the ZoneAlarm one? Non-technical words of one syllable please, Rob, as I'm 82 and a novice at this game. Regards, Norman
Hi Norman, If you're connecting to the Internet using just dial up, then the XP firewall is probably sufficient. You can never guarantee anything, but dialup connections are not usually the target of hackers. They prefer to try and exploit fast connections, and there are plenty of unsecured ones out there for them to pick on.
That said, Zone Alarm is probably a better form of protection. It blocks traffic both in and out of your computer which means it will alert you before it will allow one of your own programs to go and do something stupid. XP Firewall only blocks incoming traffic. Also, Zone Alarm has some performance issues, but seems to work very well on XP Home, and if you have a faster computer you should find Zone Alarm performs fine.
If you can be bothered, I reckon it would be good to download and run Zone Alarm, but if you fear installation hassles then you're probably quite okay without it.
John writes: Hi. Not sure if you can help or not. Each time my PC does an auto up date, it identifies a media player up date for installation. I do it and it confirms all is ok. But then the exact same up date appears on the next check . It seems that A. it is not installing or B. it is not recognised as installed. How can I sort this out? Thanks, John
Hi John, I understand the failure of this Critical Update for Windows Media Player Script Commands (KB828026) has been common recently and I have also experienced it. There are a few comments on the Internet but no definitive answer seems available at this stage. My third attempt to install the patch did seem to succeed. My suggestion is to make sure you have downloaded and installed the latest Media Player and optional updates.
When you go to www.windowsupdate.com,
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? Click here to e-mail and let me know and receive a free Norrie the Nerd chocolate bar courtesy of Actrix!
Cellphone gifts lure children for sex: A child internet safety group is warning parents that sexual predators may send their children pre-paid cellphones in order to develop a relationship. Click here for more.
Capital open to hackers: About 50 Wellington corporations have unsecured wireless networks that are sitting ducks for hackers... Click here for more.
Teen on hacking charges: "If I shouldn't be in there, why is it so easy to get in?" Click here for more.
Telecom casts long shadow: The latest OECD report is damning of New Zealand's telecommunications industry as usual, but it has made Telecom quite happy. That's enough to make some of us industry watchers nervous. Click here for more.
Passengers can surf onboard: Long-haul bus passengers with Auckland touring firm Explorer can now check their email and surf the web on board, a service managing director Darryl Cooper believes is a world first. Click here for more.
Kiwi children the world's greatest 'cyber athletes': New Zealand children are among the world's greatest "cyber athletes" and this country is one of a dozen that lead the way in using computers in education. Click here for more.
Call to toughen code on internet fraud: The New Zealand Bankers Association is reviewing its code of practice, sparking a call from the banking ombudsman for it to address internet fraud. Click here for more.
ISP code lacks main backers: A code of practice for internet service providers is entering its final stages. However, its future is uncertain with neither of the two largest ISPs committing to supporting a voluntary code. Click here for more.
'Wonder cures' banned on website: Medsafe asked internet trading site Trade Me to remove several auctions for the aromatherapy weight loss patch Trimpatch, after The Dominion Post questioned if they were legal. Click here for more.
Employee denies cyber-sabotage: An alleged cyber-saboteur at a Christchurch company has become the first case in New Zealand to test tough new computer-crime laws. Click here for more.
UK prefers broadband to dial-up: Broadband has officially overtaken dial-up as the most popular way for Britons to connect to the internet, government statistics show. Click here for more.
The Internet transforms modern life: In 1994, people had to call the bank to check their balances. Or inquire in person, or wait for a paper statement to arrive in the mail. Click here for more.
P2P is the new bong: Bongs are not illegal. In fact, if you're one of the many consumers who prefer to smoke their tobacco through a water pipe... Click here for more.
Men blamed for spyware surge: In some instances differences between men and women's PC usage patterns seem very small but in other cases there is a significant distinction... Click here for more.
Net TV poised to make the switch: Last month the BBC said that it would launch an internet service allowing people to download its TV shows for later viewing. Click here for more.
Turks set up alternative internet: A Turkish group which wants the US out of the Internet, is pushing for the development of a second internet network. Click here for more.
Cops Watched Sex Offender's Blog: Law enforcement agents tracking then-fugitive sex offender Joseph Duncan had been carefully monitoring the suspect's weblog in the hopes that he would reveal his whereabouts... Click here for more.
Blogs on the bombs: Your boyfriend has just left you? Tea. You've just been told you've got cancer? Tea. Coordinated terrorist attack on the transport network bringing the city to a grinding halt? TEA DAMMIT!" Click here for more.
How much does Google know about you?: ...its rapid expansion is also prompting concerns that the company may know too much: what you read, where you surf and travel, whom you write. Click here for more.
Rethinking online: Rupert Murdoch finally figures out what makes the internet tick. Click here for more.
FTC targets porn e-mail operators: Federal regulators accused seven companies Wednesday of hiring others to send illegal e-mails with pornographic messages to tempt consumers to visit adult Internet sites. Click here for more.
The internet is doing nicely without its own UN: Who runs the internet? Who cares? As long as your internet browser sends you to the right location in cyberspace, the technical workings of the World Wide Web aren't really of much concern. Right? Click here for more.
Biggest 419 bust in history: It is the biggest 419 bust in history, and may result in drastic reductions of scam mails. Click here for more.
Buzzwords slow to grab US surfers: Buzzwords to describe the latest trends on the net, such as "RSS", "podcasting" and "phishing", are largely unknown to US web users, according to a survey. Click here for more.
Downloading 'myths' challenged: People who illegally share music files online are also big spenders on legal music downloads, research suggests. Click here for more.
Bagle shanghais PCs for zombie army: A new version of the Bagle virus is attempting to turn PCs into zombies for use in cyberattack networks. Click here for more.
Fake news spreads email virus: The Kedebe-F worm spreads itself through email posing as breaking news stories about the supposed arrest of the author of the Mydoom worm and the death of Michael Jackson... Click here for more.
Teen admits creating Sasser worm: A German teenager confessed to creating last year's Sasser worm -- which wreaked havoc on hundreds of thousands of computers - as he went on trial on charges including computer sabotage, a court official said. Click here for more.
Sasser creator avoids jail term: He evaded a jail term as he was tried as a minor since he was 17 years old when he wrote the worm. Click here for more.
Security and Safety
Beating cyber crims: As Mastercard and Visa customers worldwide discovered last week, even the most secure computer networks can be compromised. Click here for more.
Hacking for dollars: Today, they use their skills for profit. They hunt for security flaws and find ways to exploit them, hijack computers and rent those out for use as spam relays, or participate in targeted attacks that steal sensitive information from individuals or spy on businesses. Click here for more.
Net users change habits to avoid spyware: Nine out of 10 internet users say they have changed their online habits to avoid spyware and other internet-based threats, according to a study released this morning. Click here for more.
Hackers Grow Armies of Zombie PCs: Attackers are becoming increasingly aggressive as they look to grow their zombie armies of infected PCs, according to antivirus vendor McAfee. Click here for more.
Write down your password today: In years gone by scribbling down passwords on Post-It notes was often cited as a top security mistake but the sheer volume of passwords people are obliged to remember means people often use easily-guessed login details... Click here for more.
Web users still at risk from fraud: More than half of UK PC users admit to using the same password on many different sites, according to new research. Click here for more.
Spyware 'calling home' volumes soar: Outbound spyware transmissions from infested machines accounted for up to eight per cent of total outbound web traffic in pilot tests of a new managed spyware screening service. Click here for more.
Spam, Eggs, Baked Beans, Spam, Spam and Spam
Spam can help prod people to better health - study: Spam can be good for you if it comes as a steady stream of emails nagging about healthy habits, Canadian researchers say. Click here for more.
China signs anti-spam pact: China - the world's second biggest producer of spam behind the US - has signed up to an international agreement to crack down on unsolicited email. Click here for more.
'Honeypot' carries sting: A California company wants to let thousands of users collaborate to disable the websites spammers use to sell their wares. Click here for more.
Russian spammer murdered: Notorious Russian spammer Vardan Kushnir was found bludgeoned to death in his Moscow apartment on Sunday. Click here for more.
Has Microsoft Partnered With a Known Spyware Company?: Even while Microsoft continues to push forward with their "anti-spyware" effort, new evidence indicates that they have teamed up with known spyware company Hotbar. Click here for more.
Microsoft Downgrades Claria Adware Detections: Microsoft's Windows AntiSpyware application is no longer flagging adware products from Claria Corp. as a threat to PC users. Click here for more.
Microsoft Shifting Adware Approach?: On Friday, Microsoft (Quote, Chart) put out a statement, saying the re-evaluation had taken place at Claria's request back in January. Click here for more.
Jobs calls family of stabbing victim: Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs personally called the family of a 15-year-old New Yorker to offer his condolences after the teenager was killed last week during a fight over an iPod... Click here for more.
Unix, Linux and Open Source
How schools can get free software: The UK government's school computing agency, Becta, has said schools could save costs by switching to what is known as open source software. Click here for more.
Red Hat holes less severe than Windows - study: Red Hat is making hay from a report on system security vulnerabilities that apparently gives Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) a clean bill of health. Click here for more.
The Weird, Weird Web
eBayer seeks to exorcise voodoo cuddly toy: ...offload the voodoo devil cuddly toy on eBay before it decapitates the entire clan in an blood-splattered slashfest of mindless, knife-driven violence. Click here for more.
Free Beer for Geeks : Their inspiration wasn't just to get drunk, but to see what happens when an open-source structure is applied to a universally known product like beer. Click here for more.
Come Again? Sometimes, especially when conversing on the phone, people misunderstand each other. In a Computer or Internet help desk setting this can be frustrating for all parties. We certainly don't mean to poke fun at those unfamiliar with technology, but sometimes it's just too funny. Okay, we do mean to poke a bit of fun, but only in a good-humoured way.
Tech Support: "Customer Support, this is Nick, how can I help
Tech Support: "Type 'fix' with an 'f'."
Tech Support: "Tell me, is the cursor still there?"
Customer: "Right, this computer's gone all crazy. It's blinking,
beeping, and doing all sorts of stuff!"
A lady was using a power strip to plug her computer and other devices into. Windows was completely frozen, and she was unable to shut down the machine by using the power button. She mentioned the power strip, so I told her to flip it off. She said, "Ok, I gave it the finger. I feel better."
Tech Support: "Ok, ma'am, do you see the button on the right hand
side of your mouse?"
A lady struck up a conversation with me on an aeroplane.
Working as an ISP phone tech, I get calls from a good deal of customers who think we
Tech Support: "Now click on 'OK'."
One time I was trying to set up a customer's e-mail program. I walked him through setting up an account with the incoming and outgoing server names set to "mail," but it didn't work. I tried again, and it still didn't work. I was starting to right out of ideas, and then the customer said, "If my mail server name is 'male,' does that mean my girlfriend's server is 'female'?"
Customer: "Now what do I do?"
Tech Support: "Sir, I need you to click just once on your dialup
My mother called one night because her ISP had a new phone number, and she wanted to know how to update her connection information. I led her step by step through the procedure, finishing with, "So next time you run the e-mail client, it'll just dial the new number. But don't do that now because we'll get disconn--"
Tech Support: "Ok, ma'am, I need you to do a ctrl-alt-del."
Tech Support: "What seems to be the problem?"
Tech Support: "No, Sir...clicking on 'Remember Password' will NOT help you remember your password."
Tech Support: "Ok, in the bottom left hand side of the screen,
can you see the 'OK' button displayed?"
Tech Support: "Hi, how can I help you?"
Tech Support: "I need you to boot the computer."
Thanks again for reading the Actrix newsletter. Feedback can be sent to me via the e-mail address listed below. Please limit this to comments/suggestions regarding the newsletter. Non-forum requests for support should go to the Actrix Help Desk (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to the Accounts Department (email@example.com).