Sept '05 Topics
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Sept '05 Topics
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Happiness is your dentist telling you it won't hurt,
and then having him catch his hand in the drill.
Top 10 Viruses
This newsletter has been produced to help you
get the most out of the Internet,
We're a little late with the newsletter this month due to a few other Actrix projects that have been quite demanding in terms of time.
The foremost of these has been the transfer of our existing JetStream customers to an Actrix-based equivalent such as CyberJet. Basically, Telecom is withdrawing what has been known as its JPP (JetStream Partnering Programme) which was where Telecom provided the bandwidth and network for JetStream, and Actrix provided Internet services (e-mail address, browser direction etc) to its customers. Because Telecom is withdrawing the service, each JetStream customer has to be migrated so that they can now use Actrix's network and bandwidth. It's been quite a project to contact every single customer for their Telecom account and billing details, so they can be submitted to Telecom for smooth release and changeover. It's been largely successful, though, and during August several hundred have come across. Many hundreds more are scheduled to make the change during September.
Our CyberJet plans have been well-received, and it is good to read what people have said about them in various Internet forums. Our point of difference is that we offer a daily cap on our plans rather than a monthly one. This means that heavy users only get penalised for the day they've been overly-active, rather than having to wait a whole month to have their speed restored. Ready to make the move to broadband? You can read about our CyberJet plans at http://www.actrix.co.nz/domestic/highspeed/cyberjet.php.
We welcome some new staff members this month. Andrew Chan and Darren Kerr are new to the help desk replacing Lalith DeSilva who has moved on to bigger and better things, and Nick Staines who'll will be heading off to England for his OE. We also welcome David Davenport-Brown as a new account manager on our sales team.
I hope you find something of interest in this month's newsletter. Welcome Spring, and go the All Blacks for the Tri-Nations!
There are a number of reasons why you might want to consider getting yourself a domain and web site. Some people do it in the interests of cool-ness, and some in the interests of professionalism. Its pretty cool when your e-mail address is email@example.com. Likewise, its professional and reassuring when you can e-mail your customers from firstname.lastname@example.org and point them to your web sites online product catalogue. Its also a whole lot cheaper to maintain a web site than it is to reprint glossy brochures.
Perhaps you've been thinking about enhancing your online presence (either personally, or professionally) but you haven't quite been sure how to make a start. If so, you've come to the right place. In this article, we'll try and de-mystify the process into three main steps. It's all probably easier and cheaper than you might think.
The domain name
The key to it all and the first thing you need to worry about is the domain name. This is the part that comes after the @ in an e-mail address, and after the www. in a web address. The most obvious example I can think of, of course, is actrix.co.nz. Other examples are stuff.co.nz and connections.net.nz.
Your domain name can be absolutely anything you like as long as it is composed of letters and numbers, is 67 characters long or less and isnt already taken. Names (either business or personal) are popular for domains, as are words that reflect the content of the intended web site. Some suggest that short names (e.g. imdb.com instead of internetmoviedatabase.com) are best because theyre easier to type, but it is also a good idea to have your subject or name recognisable, so when choosing a domain name, my suggestion is to find some middle ground between recognisability and brevity.
The most straightforward way of securing a domain name for yourself is via your ISP. The Actrix help desk (0800-228749) can tell you instantly whether a name is available, and they can book it for you on the spot. They can also advise you about whether to use .co.nz (company), .org.nz (non-profit), .net/nz (Internet, network or tech-related) and so forth.
You can also register overseas domains that simply end in .com or .net, but these are more expensive and you should have a compelling reason before you get one. Why hide that your site is in New Zealand?
Actrix will charge $44.95 per year for your domain name, with an initial set up fee of $35.00. We then pay the Domain Name Commission on your behalf, and also put the necessary configurations onto our servers so that your domain name works on the Internet. As part of the service we'll also get your domain working as an e-mail address and talk you through setting up your e-mail program to send and receive e-mail using it. Any e-mail program can do it. Once you have a domain name you can start using all sorts of e-mail addresses: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We can set things up so that all these e-mail addresses can be checked at the same time (in other words, all the e-mail goes to the one place) or we can have e-mail for each address going to different places. There's lots of flexibility.
Designing the web site
You could stop there and just use your domain name as an e-mail address, but if youve gone that far, then youre only a hop, step and jump away from the ultimate testament to your tech-savvy-ness, a web site.
Whether youre going to build it yourself (and it isnt that hard) or employ someone else, your first personal or business site should probably be pretty modest; three or four pages limited to text and a few images. If the initial time or money you spend proves worthwhile, you can always expand your horizons. It is way too easy to spend hundreds of hours or thousands of dollars on something that turns out not quite to be what you thought you might possibly have originally wanted... maybe.
Basic everyday web sites are built using a language called HTML. HTML is so simple to understand that an eight-year old can master it, and many of them do. It is written in plain text so you dont need any special software to write it, and there aren't too many weird symbols or anything. Its principles are easy to grasp and there are a large number of web sites online that offer tutorials in how to produce your first web site from scratch. A good basic online guide can be found at http://www.w3.org/MarkUp/Guide/, but there are literally thousands of similar sites, and a quick Google search on HTML tutorial, will help find the one that is just right for you.
Even for the completely uninitiated, basic font, and background colours, adding click-able links and placing images can probably all be learned in an evening. The hardest part about coming up with something that looks good is mastering the elements and principles of style and design, and a quick waltz around the Internet is proof of that. There are millions of sites designed by those who have quickly learned the basic ideas behind HTML, but who haven't found the time to develop an understanding of colours and placement.
If youre working on a site of your own, have a look at what others have done. Find a site or two that you like the look of and try and do something similar yourself, whilst keeping things simple. As a rule of thumb, stick to a few well-matched colours, and keep the size of images small so they dont take too long to download.
There is software specifically designed for designing web sites in HTML. They allow you to put the site together just the way you want it, and all the HTML is done for you behind the scenes. Dreamweaver and Microsoft FrontPage are the two used mainly by professional designers, but they are expensive to buy. Simpler free or free-trial programs are also available to be downloaded from the web. Coffeecup is a popular one that offers a free trial version at www.coffeecup.com. The good thing about a program such as this one is that you can download it, play around with it for a while, and if you decide that HTML is not for you, it hasn't cost you anything.
Those without the time for do-it-yourself HTML may want to use the services of a web designer. These can be located via the Yellow Pages (try looking under Internet web site development) or online at www.yellowpages.co.nz. You may want to ring around to find someone who offers budget packages for first-timers. You can expect to pay between $300 and $600 for a basic 3-4 page site from a budget designer, but bells and whistles would be few.
Hosting the web site
The last thing to worry about is actually getting the site onto the web. To achieve this, you need to have your site hosted on a computer (in this case one called a web-server) that is already on the web. Again, Actrix can help in this regard. For as little as $12.50 per month we'll make sure your web site stays up, and that it works when people type in your web address. Your domain name gets added to our name (or dns) servers which propagate your domain name all around the world, so people anywhere can get to it by typing in your web address.
Actrix will also provide you with your own password-protected access to your site. You normally do this using an FTP (file transfer protocol) program. The principles of FTP are also very simple, and the various programs out there (plenty are free) are child's play to use. The FTP program just makes a temporary connection between your computer and the web server. It will allow you to choose a file on your hard drive and upload it to your web site with little more than a click or two of your mouse. Again, our help desk will happily give you a few tips to get you started.
Most Actrix customers are entitled to some free web space for a non-business site. Five Megabytes of personal space comes as part of your connection. This may be a good place to experiment with your first web site outing. It doesnt cost you anything beyond what youre paying for connectivity, and its a good opportunity to experiment, and learn. Without spending a cent youll soon know whether designing your own web site is really what you want to do.
When you're ready to experiment and you think you have some web site files ready to upload, log into My Actrix on our main web page (www.actrix.co.nz). Inside My Actrix you'll find a link called User Homepage. This will allow you upload your own web site to your personal web space. To see how your site looks, just go to http://users.actrix.co.nz/yourusername/. There are a couple of provisos. You can't use this personal space in conjunction with a domain name, and you can't use this space for business purposes. The web address you get is probably not the most professional look for a business anyway, but personal web space is a fine way to publish your resume or upload family news and photos for friends and family to access from overseas.
Okay, so that's a basic introduction to the three main elements of getting a domain and web site. Of course there's more to it, but at least you should now know where your thinking needs to go. If you have further questions, you can e-mail email@example.com and I'll see what I can do to help. Perhaps a few of these will turn up in next month's Forum section.
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).
Eddie writes: Dear Editor. It has always been my understanding that I should have a "firewall" such as "Zone Alarm" etc. or some sort of antivirus preventative. I was told very recently, I don't need Zone Alarm. Is this true? I did have zone alarm & now I don't. The reason it was deleted is because my computer does not have the capacity to operate zone alarm & to function properly i.e freezing often, operates slowly, very slowly etc. Regards, Eddie
Hi Eddie, There isn't a definite right and wrong answer to the question of whether you need a firewall. It is always preferable to have one, but you need to weigh that up against the obvious performance issue. If you're just on dialup then you probably don't really need one. Hackers are more interested in people with fast connections, and there are plenty of vulnerable fast connections out there for them to target.
However, if you don't have a firewall, the truth is you are pretty defenceless, and if a hacker decides to go for you you're not even going to know he's had a try. And no one can guarantee you that some kiddie-hacker might not want to have a go just for the fun of it. Zone Alarm can cause problems, especially on older machines, and for safe online computing, it's recommended you consider upgrading to something a little more powerful, perhaps.
Steve writes: Hi Rob, Every time I go to update my AVG Update I get a message saying the "...AVG server is too busy and unable to download...". This was happening from time to time a few months ago, but the problem has got a lot worse in the last few weeks. I installed AVG after the recommendation from Actrix, and by and large it has been problem free. Is there a technical problem with using AVG presently? Are there too many people using it? is there any other free antivirus software available that Actrix is aware of and could recommend?
Steve Trayhorne, from the Actrix help desk responds: The problem you describe is quite common of late and is really due to AVG limiting the connections for customers using their Free version. Quite understandable as they need to make sure they are able to provide full service to their subscribed customers. There are four ways to approach this:
I hope this information is of assistance. Regards, Stephen Trayhorne
Anne writes: Hi there Rob, My query deals with downloading programmes from the internet. Recently I somehow lost one of my favourite fonts Black Chancery. I used it often, especially making cards on Publisher. It disappeared from the 'fonts' facility and by chance I found a notice on Publisher saying that Black Chancery was no longer available. Can you throw any light on how this could have happened? Can it be retrieved? I found Fonts Free on the internet but when I attempt to download, a sign comes up saying that if I download this program it may harm my computer. Is this program safe? At the moment the icon is sitting on my desktop but I thought it prudent to seek your advice about this one. Thanks, Anne
Josh Simpson from the Actrix help desk responds: Hi Anne, This is a little outside of what we normally provide support for, but we'll see if we can help. You could try checking in the "c:\windows\fonts" folder on you computer and see if you can find the font Black Chancery (It may be called "BLKCHCRY.TTF"). If it's not there you will need to get a new copy from the Internet and copy or save it into the "c:\windows\fonts" folder. That particular font can be found on a few "Free fonts" web sites such as http://www.dafont.com/en/font.php?file=black_chancery. After it is copied into the fonts folder is should become available to all windows programs.
As for the warning, this is a general warning that Internet Explorer gives for all downloads. To be sure the best course of action would be to virus scan the downloaded file before you open it. This can usually be done by right-clicking on the file and selecting "Scan for virus" (or something similar). If it detects a virus, just delete the file and find a different web site to download from.
I hope that helps. Josh Simpson, Actrix Support
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!
Virtual shopping mall saves time: "We're not advocating that it's going to replace [High St] retail shopping as you or I know it - that's very much a social thing for some people - but a lot of people simply like the convenience of doing it from home..." Click here for more.
Industry group says anti-spam bill isn't fair: Non-profit society InternetNZ says the Government's anti-spam bill, tabled in Parliament last week, will place unfair costs on internet service providers. Click here for more.
ISP lobby group wants faster, cheaper broadband: ISPANZ says it will educate its users and the public on the issues it faces, and will not hold back for fear of punitive action from Telecom or wait for some measure of commercial relief to be offered. Click here for more.
Firm bans workers from online auction website: Carter Holt Harvey workers have been banned from accessing the Trade Me website while at work. Click here for more.
Poachers out to get Trade Me's big sellers: A new online auction website is aiming to poach market leader Trade Me's biggest sellers. Click here for more.
'Lost or stolen' website an instant hit: A Whakatane couple have created a website that will hinder people selling stolen goods. Click here for more.
Dating website weeds out beauty from the beast: A new online dating service is attempting to weed out the wonderful from the weirdos by allowing only beautiful people to join up. Click here for more.
Over 1m internet subscribers in NZ: New Zealand had about 1.24 million internet service provider subscribers by March this year, according to Statistics New Zealand. Click here for more.
Democrats push for age limit on Web porn: Report shows top porn consumers between the ages of 12 to 17. Click here for more.
Oldest known Bible to go online: A manuscript containing the oldest known Biblical New Testament in the world is set to enter the digital age and become accessible online. Click here for more.
Elderly Americans lose millions to Internet scams: Scams involving Internet auctions, as well as identity theft, lotteries, prizes and sweepstakes, top the list of fraud complaints by older Americans, who lost $152 million to con artists last year... Click here for more.
Catholic podcast makes waves: Catholic podcast takes on Harry Potter, Batman and magic... Click here for more.
Internet takes soldier into delivery room: Sgt. William Hamrick II witnessed the birth of his daughter Monday. That may seem unremarkable - except that Hamrick was 6,000 miles away in Iraq. Click here for more.
Universal medium: Tim Berners-Lee on the future of the web. Click here for more.
Girls prefer girly websites: official: A study by Glamorgan University Business School's Department of the Fairly Bleedin' Obvious has concluded that it's not just a website's subject matter that determines whether it appeals more to guys or gals... Click here for more.
Bush administration objects to .xxx domains: The Bush administration is objecting to the creation of a .xxx domain, saying it has concerns about a virtual red-light district reserved exclusively for Internet pornography. Click here for more.
Endangered species products for sale on the net: Endangered animal products are being sold illegally on the internet by criminal gangs and unscrupulous traders in Australia, an animal rights group says. Click here for more.
Silver surfers ready to storm shops: Silver surfers are about to burst through the doors of the virtual shopping mall, so retailers must be ready to cater for them, a new report says. Click here for more.
The Web aided my homework: Stewart is one of scores of experts from academia, government and elsewhere offering free advice to students needing homework help - as long as they're motivated by curiosity and aren't merely lazy. Click here for more.
Whose net is it anyway?: Is it time to take control over the net away from the US government, asks technology analyst Bill Thompson? Click here for more.
Virtual adultery: The anonymity, ease and affordability of the internet make it a cheater's dream. Click here for more.
Web used to trace deadly spider: A woman from Cornwall used the internet to identify a poisonous spider after she was bitten by one hidden in bananas bought from a local supermarket. Click here for more.
Computer worm hits NZ: A fast-moving computer worm that has shut down computers across the United States, Germany, Australia and Asia has infiltrated New Zealand. Click here for more.
Worm mocks convicted Sasser author: A new virus mocking the creator of the Sasser worm is spreading across the net. The Lebreat-D worm drops an image of recently convicted virus writer Sven Jaschan onto user's hard drives... Click here for more.
Computer worms turn on each other in 'botwar': Computer worms that have brought down systems around the world in recent days are starting to attack each other, Finnish software security firm F-Secure says. Click here for more.
Security and Safety
Hackers look outside Windows for flaws: "We are seeing a trend to exploit not only the Windows, but other vendor programs that are installed on potentially large number of systems..." Click here for more.
Nigeria cracking down on e-scams: By day they flaunt their smart clothes and cars and hang around the Internet cafes, trading stories about successful cons and near misses, and hatching new plots. Click here for more.
Home PC face security onslaught: There are so many malicious programs prowling the web that there is a 50% chance that a vulnerable Windows machine will be found and compromised after just 12 minutes online. Click here for more.
ID theft ring escapes shutdown: Discovered by US security fim Sunbelt Software, the scam used keyloggers to steal data stored by Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser. Click here for more.
Spam, Eggs, Baked Beans, Spam, Spam and Spam
Spammers to face fines up to $500,000 under new bill: The Government today introduced legislation to fight spam which will deter New Zealand junk email senders with fines up to $500,000. Click here for more.
Hasta la Vista, baby: Virus writers have created proof of concept viruses targeting the scripting language behind prototype versions of Vista, the next version of Windows. Click here for more.
Apple blunder gives gates iPod royalty: Apple Computer may be forced to pay royalties to Microsoft for every iPod it sells after it emerged that Bill Gates's software giant beat Steve Jobs' firm in the race to file a crucial patent... Click here for more.
New IE browser catches up with rivals: Over the past few years, the company has made security improvements and added a pop-up blocker but not much else. Click here for more.
Apple buys NZ domain as download wars begin: Apple has moved a step closer to launching its long-awaited iTunes online music store in New Zealand, taking over the itunes.co.nz domain name from a Dunedin businessman who first registered the web address. Click here for more.
Apple mouse marks a mighty change: Apple Computer Inc. can take credit for pushing the envelope of computer design with its elegant Macintosh. Its software is years ahead of the rest of the industry. Click here for more.
Unix, Linux and Open Source
PHP, Perl and Python on the wane?: A trio of open source scripting languages are waning in popularity among developers at precisely the time big-name IT companies are adding their support. Click here for more.
The Weird, Weird Web
eBayer auctions ad space on corpse: You are bidding for the sole right to advertise on my corpse....as soon as my corpse is discovered and otherwise legally available to you. Click here for more.
Last month's help desk humour section got some good responses so I looked around to find a little more.
Why we should feel sorry for tech support people
Tech Support: "OK Bob, let's press the control and escape keys at the same time.
That brings up a task list in the middle of the screen. Now type the letter 'P' to bring
up the Program Manager."
Overheard in a computer shop:
Customer: "Can you copy the Internet for me on this diskette?"
I work for a local ISP. Frequently we receive phone calls that go something like this: Customer: "Hi. Is this the Internet?"
Some people pay for their online services with cheques made payable to "The Internet."
Customer: "So that'll get me connected to the Internet, right?"
Customer: "My computer crashed!"
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).