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December 06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Actrix near tops Consumer survey!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) The newsletter almost has a new name!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) How secret is my surfing?

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Melbourne Cup 1600 Promotion Winners

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) It was five years ago today...

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home

 

 

 

Past Articles

Individual articles from Past Actrix Newsletters are archived in alphabetical order.
Click here to access the index in a new window.

 

 

 

 

Past Newsletters

November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002
December 2001
November 2001
October 2001
September 2001
August 2001
July 2001
June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
January 2001
December 2000
November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000
December 1999
November 1999
October 1999

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Actrix near tops Consumer survey!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) The newsletter almost has a new name!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) How secret is my surfing?

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Melbourne Cup 1600 Promotion Winners

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) It was five years ago today...

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home

 

 

Recommend Actrix and win credit!

 

Save a bundle with Actrix Tolls!

 

Thinking about a domain name?

 

Actrix Web Hosting

 

 

 

 

 

December 06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Actrix near tops Consumer survey!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) The newsletter almost has a new name!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) How secret is my surfing?

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Melbourne Cup 1600 Promotion Winners

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) It was five years ago today...

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home

 

 

 

Actrix Contact Info

Actrix Help Desk
0800-228-749
support@actrix.co.nz

 

Help Desk Hours
8 am - 11 pm
Seven Days

 

Actrix Accounts
0800-228-749
accounts@actrix.co.nz

 

Accounts Hours
8:30 am - 5 pm
Monday - Friday

 

 

 

 


"The Internet is so big, so powerful and so pointless that for some people it is a complete substitute for life."
- Andrew Brown


 

 

 

December 06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Actrix near tops Consumer survey!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) The newsletter almost has a new name!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) How secret is my surfing?

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Melbourne Cup 1600 Promotion Winners

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) It was five years ago today...

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home

 

 

 

 

 


"For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press three."
- Alice Kahn


 

 

 

Essential Sites

Virus Myths

Get Virus Help

Common
E-mail Hoaxes

Dictionary/
Thesaurus

Windows Update

How Stuff Works

Internet Movie
Database

SearchNZ

Currency
Converter

World Time Zones

Actrix Tolls

Actrix CyberJet

Quoteland

Urban Legends

Rules of Rugby

Web Design

Child Safety Online

NZ Info

NZ Legal Advice

Maori.Org.Nz

Free Online
Security Check

Anything For You

Wise's NZ Maps

NZ Domain Names

NZ White Pages

NZ Yellow Pages

NZ Internet History

Wikipedia

Calling the
Actrix Help Desk

 

 

 

 

 


December 06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Actrix near tops Consumer survey!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) The newsletter almost has a new name!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) How secret is my surfing?

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Melbourne Cup 1600 Promotion Winners

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) It was five years ago today...

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home

 

 

 


"Money is much more exciting than anything it buys."
- Mignon McLaughlin


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Actrix near tops Consumer survey!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) The newsletter almost has a new name!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) How secret is my surfing?

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Melbourne Cup 1600 Promotion Winners

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) It was five years ago today...

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 06 Topics

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Actrix near tops Consumer survey!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) The newsletter almost has a new name!

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) How secret is my surfing?

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Melbourne Cup 1600 Promotion Winners

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Readers' forum

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Interesting sites

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Cyberspace news snippets

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) It was five years ago today...

littlebluearrow2.gif (882 bytes) Bringing it all back home

 

 Actrix Newsletter December 2006 

This newsletter has been produced to help you get the most out of the Internet,
and to keep you, as an Actrix customer, informed of developments and services within the company.

Questions and comments about the newsletter can be e-mailed to editor@actrix.co.nz
Other inquiries should be e-mailed to support@actrix.co.nz

Actrix near tops Consumer survey! 

Welcome to the latest customer newsletter. It's only just about December, but already the shops are reminding us about how many shopping days are left before Christmas. We plan to get another newsletter out before the 25th, so we'll leave our best Christmas wishes until then.

The latest Consumer survey into customer satisfaction with ISPs is out, and we're very pleased with Actrix's results. It would be all very well for us to blow our own trumpet about how hard we work to keep customers happy, but it's even better when a reputable magazine holds an objective survey and rates us one of the best in the country in terms of happy customers for the second year running!

Actrix received a 90% overall rating which was considerably ahead of the other larger ISPs that we would consider to be our main competitors, and in an environment where only 66% of people indicated that they were satisfied with their ISP, we think that's a pleasing endorsement on the work we put into customer care.

Two areas in which we are specifically mentioned as being amongst the best in New Zealand are customer service and help desk support. For several years we have had the policy of only hiring help desk people who are genuinely warm and helpful. How much we have come to like them as people by the end of interviews is as important as any technical skills they may have, and that policy has really paid off for us. We've thought for a while that we have the best help desk in the country, and it is good to have them acknowledged.

We came second in the country in terms of broadband provision with a respectable 96% satisfaction rating, and this is a real endorsement of our large and capable tech team who put in some long and dedicated hours to make sure all those ones and zeroes flow through the pipes at the best speeds possible.

So, we're glad you're happy and we hope you remain so. According to the Consumer article, a lot of people out there are with another large ISP that they're just not satisfied with. They'd love to move but feel trapped. If you know someone like that, tell them about Actrix. We can't remove all of the problems associated with changing ISPs, but we've got a bunch of caring and capable guys on the help desk that they could at least speak to. They'll do their best to make things as simple and easy as possible.

 


The newsletter has a new name!

Well almost. We have a shortlist, and a final decision isn't far away. We received nearly 500 suggestions and some have been very good indeed (and others made us wonder what some customers have been smoking!).

I agree with Mary Curtin who wrote in and suggested we just call the newsletter "Bob" because management go on and on for ages before they settle on a new name for anything. Wise words, Mary! We won't be calling the newsletter "Bob" but there has been some managerial discussion to say the least.

Thank you to all who participated, and to all who took the opportunity to say some kind or interesting things about the newsletter at the same time. There were just far too many e-mails to respond to each as I would have liked.

We'll contact the winner over the next week or so, and we'll certainly announce their name next month. That person will get the $150 New World Christmas hamper delivered, and six months of free Internet.

We do have a second prize winner, however. Congratulations to Tony Hartfield whose e-mail entry was chosen at random. We'll be contacting you soon to arrange delivery of your $100 Christmas hamper from New World.

So thanks again. The competition is now closed.

 


How secret is my surfing? 

You've probably heard a number of times by now that you' re not nearly as anonymous as you think you are online. Even if your computer is completely free of spyware, information about you tags along and gets handed over to various servers in exchange for the web pages and other files you download.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. If your computer wasn't identifiable to some extent, there would be no way to get web pages, movies, podcasts or e-mails to you. It' s often a good thing, too, that some sites recognise your computer and are able to tailor what they display especially for you. Shopping sites you regularly visit, and sites that you have some sort of membership at are good examples.

But there can be a fine line between what' s necessary for a site to know and invasion of your privacy. In the worst case, it could be possible for a site to compile quite a profile of you and your habits over time (possibly even including your name, location and e-mail address).

There exist companies such as DoubleClick that have as their mission constructing a massive database full of megatrillions of bits of information about surfers that have been gleaned over the years. DoubleClick consistently denies that it wants to identify individuals, but there is little doubt that it could know a lot of specific information about a lot of specific individuals if it wanted to. And DoubleClick is just one of the more well-known of many.

There are two main ways that information about you or your computer travels around with you. The first is your IP address, and the second is by means of "cookies".

Your IP Address

An IP address is a unique set of four numbers allocated to your computer by your ISP, and used to identify it online. The Actrix mail and web servers use your IP address to get the pages you request back to you. Broadband connections are "always on". This means you usually have the same IP address. If you use dialup, your Actrix will allocate you a different IP address each time you connect, unless you have a special arrangement to always have the same one.

Every web server will keep records of which IP addresses it sends pages to, and ISPs like Actrix will keep records about which IP addresses were allocated to any customer at any given time. This is how the police and Internal Affairs are often able to catch people that visit illegal sites. They obtain warrants and then match our server' s records about which IP addresses it sent pages to with the records of who had the offending IP address at the time. Hey-presto, you' re busted!

Every time you visit a site, your IP address is recorded. If you provide any personal details, it is quite possible for site owners to keep a record of the personal details that go with your IP address. If you have broadband, and therefore a fixed IP address, it is even easier to record identifiable data about you.

Cookies

The second way tabs are kept on you is via cookies. These are little text files that many sites write to your hard drive. The next time you come to the site, it can read the cookie it left last time and tell such things as how long it has been since your last visit. Cookies can also record, for example, what ads you were shown last time, so that you can be shown something new this time. Cookies are text files only, so they can't do any harm to your computer, but they can be a privacy risk.

Cookies are not supposed to be able to be read by any site or domain other than the ones that set them. However, there are various ways web programmers can get around this, which is concerning. Some web sites with log ins, for example, use cookies to store your user name and password. Anyone able to steal your cookie could theoretically pose as you, or log in as you and see whatever else was stored about you at the site in question.

Modern browsers allow you refuse or be warned before cookies are written to your hard drive. Look under Tools and then (Internet) Options and check the security category. Browsing can become a nuisance with cookies turned off, though. Many sites won't let you in, or will repetitively ask you to accept their cookie first. The best practice is to allow cookies, but to be mindful about what information you hand over online. Don't create password protected accounts at sites other than those whose reputation rests on how well they protect your private data. Banking sites, Trade Me, eBay, PayPal and My Actrix, for example, should all be okay.

Cookies can also be flushed or deleted. Your browser will have a Delete cookies button somewhere under Tools/Options/Security, and you can delete them as often as you like without doing any real harm.

The most recent versions of Firefox and Opera come with a "Delete private data" feature under the Tools menu. When ever you're finished a surfing session you can use this to delete your cookies, History and Temporary Internet files with a single mouse-click.

More about cookies: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cookie.htm.

Proxy servers

Some proxy servers can be used to help guard your anonymity online. Instead of connecting directly to a web site, you connect to the proxy server and it then connects to the web site on your behalf. The web site only sees the proxy server and doesn't know who the page or file it is handing over is going back to. Consequently it can't give you cookies. Proxies aren't a complete guarantee of privacy, of course. They too keep records, so if you're not sure you can trust whoever is running the proxy server, you haven't really gained much in terms of assured privacy, and their administrators are still subject to demands from legal authorities.

You can easily Google lists of free anonymous proxy servers to connect to as well as information about how to configure your browser to use them.

The-cloak (www.the-cloak.com)

The-Cloak gives you the functionality of an anonymous proxy server without having to change browser settings. Enter the desired web address into their interface and the-Cloak will sit between your computer and the page, preventing anyone (except for The-cloak, of course) knowing anything about you. You will find that the free service slows your browsing down a little due to bandwidth restrictions. The paid service is faster and costs about 2.5 cents per megabyte, though you have to purchase blocks of at least a Gigabyte (1024Mb) at a time.

Torpark(www.torrify.com)

Torpark is a modified version of Firefox developed by Hacktivismo, an international group of computer security experts and human rights workers. It enables its users browse the web anonymously by connecting only to the TOR network which encrypts all data between itself and your browser. This means not even an ISP can see what's passing through its servers on the way to you. Torpark also causes the IP address seen by any website to randomly change every few minutes.

Torpark takes no special installation and can be run from a flash USB memory stick. This means you can effectively remove it completely from your machine, and use it to keep yourself anonymous wherever you go. There are some drawbacks to its use including a slower browsing speed and individual websites not being able to store customised settings.

Mute anonymous file-sharing (http://mute-net.sourceforge.net)

Normal file-sharing services such as Kazaa and Limewire work by setting up a direct connection between your computer and someone else's so that files such as mp3s or movies can be exchanged. In order for this occur, your IP address needs to be known to the other computer. The RIAA in America has been able to catch so many file-sharers by posing as a song swapper and legally forcing ISPs to give them the personal details for the IP addresses they connect to.

Not that Actrix encourages illegal file-sharing, but if you're concerned about anonymity while swapping legal files, this may be a service you want to consider.

Mute avoids direct connections by using the computers of others joined to its network as part of the route a file will take to get to you. You can see the computer you're connected to, but you can't see the one that it is connected to. The IP addresses where files are located are also replaced with randomly generated virtual addresses, so nobody can really tell who is sharing what or from where.

Google anonymiser

Google uses a cookie to save your personal settings such as what language you want documents in, how many result you like displayed on the page and what level of filtering on content you think appropriate. This cookie allows Google to recognise you each time you come back.

Google is therefore able to keep a record of every request its users make, and over the years admits to having built up a formidable database of typical user behaviour of its search engine, including their likely names if they've googled themselves (and who hasn't?).

Whether or not they have something to hide, a lot of people are concerned about handing over their search habits. The Google Anonymiser can be used to reset the part of the Google cookie that identifies you to a string of zeroes. At http://www.imilly.com/google-cookie.htm  you can save a "bookmarklet" that you can click each time you visit Google to reset your cookie. After you' ve done so, you can enter your search term and Google won't know anything about who' s making the request.

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Melbourne Cup 1600 Promotion Winners 

Congratulations to Estelle Cainey, Andrew Kibblewhite, Kathy Ruffell, Peter Martin and Sarah Middleton who have won six months free Internet in the Actrix 1600 promotion we did for Melbourne Cup day. An algorithm was used to choose these four names from amongst all those who picked the winning horse n the sweepstakes. Congratulations. Didn't I say last month that we enjoy giving things away?


 


Readers' forum 

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).

--

Joan writes: Hi Ed, I would like to know about my email address. For years I have had actrix.gen in it, now I see that everyone has actrix.co, Why is this? I do seem to get the odd occasional email addressed to the latter.

Hi Joan, This is something we haven't been asked for a while, so thanks for bringing it up again, as others might be wondering.

Actrix was New Zealand's first ever commercial Internet Service Provider. We began in 1989. At that time there was a limited number of second level domains (the .co bit) available: .ac denoted academic, .mil denoted the military, .govt denoted government, and .gen (short for general) included just about everything else. There wasn't yet a .co domain.

Now that there is a .co second level domain, Actrix has appropriately included itself there and the two domains are, in effect, interchangeable. Whether your email address appears as @actrix.gen.nz or as @actrix.co.nz makes no difference. Either will work as well as the other at any time, and do exactly the same thing.

--

Keith writes: I found your newsletter spam info really interesting but it does not quite explain an apparent spam problem I am having at the moment. Can you help me? I am receiving a lot of error messages for e-mails that have been blocked or failed delivery etc but none of them are mine. They all refer to my web address as the original sender but the e-mail prefix is garbage, for example ddt @ shoez.co.nz or sed @ shoez.co.nz, where ddt or sed is nothing to do with us.

Hi Keith, Thanks for your e-mail. This is something I could have mentioned in my articles, but didn't. Your e-mail is a good opportunity to cover it in the Forum section. Basically, what's happened is that a spammer has found your domain name and is using it to make fake e-mail addresses in the "from" field of the e-mails he is sending.

If he puts ddt@shoes.co.nz in his e-mail program settings as the reply address when he sends out spam, then it will turn up at all his recipients as having come from an e-mail address at your domain. Anyone who replies to it (and there wouldn't be many) or any bounce messages that result because his spam e-mails couldn't be delivered will come back to that address. And every few hours he will change the from address to something different such as sed@shoez.co.nz. This just makes whatever spam he is sending harder to trace.

And he's probably not doing this himself. The spam probably originates from a trojan virus that is on somebody's machine that is programmed to find domains and send spam e-mails from randomly generated and changing e-mail addresses at the domains it finds. Please note that this doesn't mean that you have a virus, but somebody else sure does.

The reason all these bounces come to you is that your e-mail address is the default for your domain. Anything that comes in for @ shoes.co.nz that our servers don't know how to deliver goes to the default or root e-mail address. This is so that you don't lose important e-mail that might be slightly wrongly addressed.

I hope that make some sense.

--

Colleen writes: Along with others I am being swamped with spam mail. e.g. I opened 20 email yesterday and only about 6 of them were actually for me. This becomes time consuming as I block the sender as I delete. My question is, though I have used the message rule to block non imaged spam, creating a rule not to download it from the server, it doesn't seem to have made any difference. Any suggestions as to why that might be?

Hi Colleen, That's less than a 75% spam ratio, so you aren't doing too bad, though hopefully by now you'll have noticed that we've been able to make some real strides recently against this festering problem, as we announced last week.

The problem for you here, though, is that spammers rarely send from the same address twice. For this reason blacklisting or blocking with message rules is no longer an effective way of stopping spam. Spammers have been wise to this technique for some time, so they send images with varying names (as you have noted), and they change enough of their sending details regularly enough to make e-mail programs believe that they haven't come from an address that's been blacklisted.

--

Regarding our recent articles on spam, Kurt writes the following: Hi Rob, Regarding spam getting through the ISP mail server filters, I use Mozilla Thunderbird as my mail client and it does a great job finding "Junk Mail". All the mail identified as Junk has been 100% accurate and over the last few months as I have highlighted mail as Junk manually, it has learned the rules and added them to the filter so that at the moment it is picking pretty well 100 percent of the Junk mail that is sent to me.

--

And we've had a few bits of feedback on last month's article about down-sizing photos:

Owen writes: I enjoy your newsletter with all the interesting info and gossip. With regards to your tips on digital pics there are some things which I find invaluable. Jpegger - this is great for viewing pics and has a great facility for reducing pic size via the save routine: www.vallen.de/freeware/.

Jpegcrops is an excellent cropper where you can crop a series of pics from one directory to another and get the size you require without any fuss: http://ekot.dk/programmer/JPEGCrops/.

Shayde writes: Hi, Ed, Quick note about reducing picture sizes. The best and easiest tool out there especially with the popularity of trademe and posting photo's for auctions is the MS powertoy tool. Check out http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/learnmore/tips/eschelman2.mspx.  It's a small easy download and I think it beats any other method hands down. Cheers, Shayde.

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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!

Darwin Online
http://darwin-online.org.uk/ - "This site contains Darwins complete publications and many of his handwritten manuscripts. There are over 50,000 searchable text pages and 40,000 images. More than 150 ancillary texts are included, ranging from reference works to reviews, obituaries, descriptions of the Beagle specimens and related works for understanding Darwin's context. Free audio mp3 versions of his works are also available." Thanks Mike for suggesting this site.
Urinal sculptures
www.clarkmade.com/urinals.html - My how we've evolved! I think the Bluebell would have to be my favourite, and at just $6500 US dollars I'm thinking of having one shipped over and installed. Actually, I can't work out how I feel about these. Are they really cheesy, or quite attractive. Either way, it almost sort of seems a shame to...
Toilet paper wedding dresses
www.cheap-chic-weddings.com/wedding-contest-2006.html - To keep things balanced after including a site about attractive urinals for men, it's only fair that we also include one on toilet paper wedding dresses for women. This contest is apparently held every year, and some of the the entries are pretty amazing. But you really wouldn't want a wet wedding day.
Most addictive game
http://peretfamily.com/media/text/mostaddictinggame.html - So simple to play, so deceptively difficult to master, and definitely very addictive. You just want to play one more time to see if you can last that little bit longer. Apparently US Airforce pilots have averaged more than 60 seconds!
The ten best ghost photos ever taken
http://duggmirror.com/offbeat_news/Top_Ten_Best_Ghost_Photographs_Ever_Taken/ - Part of the text at the site states: So far as I can tell, these are the real deal. Meaning that they've been sifted through with a fine-tooth comb by people who know photography and have withstood all scrutiny. These are the pictures that simply can't be explained, or at least haven't yet according to anything we can explain currently."
Ask philosophers
www.amherst.edu/askphilosophers/ - You ask the question, and philosophers answer. A question features each day, but you can choose topics from the menu on the left to see past questions which have been asked and what answers have been offered by really brainy people. It's simple, really, like life, the universe and everything.
Omnipelagos
www.omnipelagos.com/ - Omnipelagos finds the shortest paths between any two things, sort of like the Kevin Bacon Games, or 'Six Degrees of Separation'. You can perform your own search using the two input boxes at the top of the page. Just add people, places, things, events or concepts and click the 'Search' button.
Song meanings
www.songmeanings.net/ - Some people just listen to the music, and others really enjoy discussing what a song's lyrics may mean. If you're into the latter then you could enjoy a site like this. You have to become a member to contribute to discussion, but anyone can come along and read what has been discussed. There's a fairly extensive index, and, while meanings aren't usually explained all that well, it can be interesting to read what some people think they mean.
What celeb is your perfect match?
www.whatceleb.com/ - This is all supposed to be based on ancient Chinese wisdom (just like a whole lot of other things). You enter some details about yourself (nothing personal) and get returned the celebs that would be your most suitable love partners. Quite disappointing, really. I got Monica Lewinsky, when I really wanted Kate Moss.
Now and then: how places change
www.ghostphotos.dreamhosters.com/ - This one is really quite interesting. A fellow has found some old photos and taken new ones today with the camera in the exact same location. It really shows how much the world can When you firstto, the old one is superimposed on to new one. However, there's a slider at the top left of the page that lets you fade the superimposed older photo in or out. Pretty neat!

 


Cyberspace news snippets

New Zealand

Auction websites to get code of practice: Trade Me and the Consumers' Institute are teaming up to create a code of practice for auction websites. Click here for more.

Student sells off the earth for OE: The unusual auction has attracted thousands of curious web surfers and advertisers from around the globe, with companies, individuals and even rock bands among the early purchasers of countries. Click here for more.

NZ officials keep eye on e-gambling: Officials from more than 30 countries, including New Zealand's high commissioner to Britain Jonathan Hunt, attended a half-day conference near London to discuss ways to regulate the global internet gaming industry. Click here for more.

Internet job ads overtake newspaper: Internet-based job advertising has overtaken the traditional newspaper-based adverts for the first time. An ANZ Bank survey shows a 7.5% growth in total job advertising in the September quarter. Click here for more.

Action urged on cyber-bullying: An internet safety group wants Christchurch teachers to take responsibility for preventing text and internet harassment and bullying in schools. Click here for more.

NZ Post plans for online market: New Zealand Post plans to develop an online marketplace to help small and medium-sized enterprises export goods and services online, with possible financial backing from the Government. Click here for more.

Dangers of staff emails underlined: ...chief executive of a publishing company who accidentally sent an email to all the invitees to a technology conference referring to them as "dull as dishwater, propeller-headed techie nerds". Click here for more.

General

Hell.com hath no takers: The Internet domain name Hell.com failed to be bought via a live auction Friday, which organizers had hoped would bring bids of more than $1 million. Click here for more.

Amnesty calls for action on internet freedom: Amnesty International is calling on the bloggers of the world to unite to defend the freedoms of their brother bloggers in countries such as China, Iran, and Tunisia. Click here for more.

Online Christmas shoppers waste billions in company time: British business could lose more than seven billion pounds in the run-up to Christmas as employees waste company time browsing the internet for presents, employment experts said today. Click here for more.

Browser wars - IE7 and Firefox 2.0 virtually equal: Life has just got a little easier for the world's web surfers with the release of the shiny new Internet Explorer 7 and equally good-looking Firefox 2.0 web browser. Click here for more.

Disillusioned online daters turn to matchmakers: Online daters, disappointed by potential partners lying about their age, weight or marital status, are turning to professional matchmakers to find love. Click here for more.

Web reaches new milestone: 100 million sites: Netcraft, an Internet monitoring company that has tracked Web growth since 1995, says a mammoth milestone was reached during the month of October. Click here for more.

Internet bill of rights proposed: A bill of rights for the internet age has been proposed at a United Nations' conference in Athens. Click here for more.

Spammers go island hopping to bypass filter: Anti-spam researchers at security company McAfee have discovered a new spamming trend nicknamed 'spam island-hopping'. Click here for more.

'Enemies of the internet' named: A list of 13 "enemies of the internet" has been released by human rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Click here for more.

Websites face four-second cut-off: Shoppers are likely to abandon a website if it takes longer than four seconds to load, a survey suggests. Click here for more.

Piracy losses fabricated - Aussie study: A draft study commissioned by the Australian Attorney General's office finds that the music and software industries attributes sales losses to piracy without any evidence to back their claims. Click here for more.

In-car Internet hits the road: In the end, his 17-year-old daughter found a place to park online -- and she didn't even have to leave the van to do it. Click here for more.

US Government study: Web 1 percent porn: About 1 percent of Web sites indexed by Google and Microsoft are sexually explicit, according to a U.S. government-commissioned study. Click here for more.

Spam surges to unprecedented levels: No, you're not imagining things. You have been getting a lot of spam lately. Click here for more.

Web chief warns of domain name chaos: Plans to fast-track the introduction of non-English characters in website domain names could "break the whole internet", warns ICANN chief executive Paul Twomey. Click here for more.

Court okays broad internet immunity: Individuals who use the internet to transmit information from another source may not be held to account if the material is considered defamatory, the California Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a reversal of an appeals court's decision. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Trapping hackers in the honeypot: It is rare that you would willingly let vandals and burglars into your home but a controlled environment like a honeypot computer lets you do the technological equivalent in relative safety. Click here for more.

How well do you know PC security?: To find out if you are security savvy or simply a sucker, answer the questions in our quiz and find out how much you know about staying safe when using the web. Click here for more.

Web sleuths erase online past: The web is often described as a permanent record of our most incriminating dalliances, brought to the fore by little more than a quick Google search. Click here for more.

Online scams target the wealthy: High-income earners are being preferentially targeted by online "phishing" scams, research has shown. Click here for more.

New Online Ad Techniques, Old Challenges: As the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said last week in a filing with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), "The Web's default state is now 'Privacy/Off Surveillance/On.'" Click here for more.

IE and Firefox blighted by fake login flaw: The latest versions of both Firefox and Internet Explorer are vulnerable to an unpatched flaw that allows hackers to snaffle users' login credentials via automated phishing attacks. Click here for more.

Viral News

Virus writers target web videos: The growing popularity of online video has caught the attention of malicious hackers and hi-tech criminals. Click here for more.

Virus creators target Wikipedia: The virus writers created a page on the German Wikipedia that linked to a fake fix for a new version of an old malicious Windows worm. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Microsoft warns of 'critical' security holes: Microsoft has issued five "critical" security patches to fix flaws in its software that the company warned could allow attackers to take control of a user's computer. Click here for more.

AVG anti-virus stays free: Users of a free version of GRISoft's AVG anti-virus software have begun receiving pop-up messages this week warning that their package would no longer be supported from 15 January. Click here for more.

Mac News

Unpatched bug bites Apple Mac OS X: Isn't this only supposed to happen to Windoze users? Click here for more.

Unix, Linux and Open Source

Linux fan gets refund for uninstalling Windows XP: A Sheffield man has won a refund from Dell for not installing Microsoft's Windows XP on a laptop he bought from the PC giant. Click here for more.

Path to Firefox 2.0 is Cleared: Mozilla has updated its now legacy 1.5.x Firefox browser to version 1.5.0.8, with fixes for three critical security flaws. Click here for more.

Ubuntu, Sun Get Closer on Linux: Canonical, the commercial sponsor of the Ubuntu distribution and Sun are expanding their existing partnership to Sun's x86 hardware. Click here for more.

Microsoft makes claim on Linux code: And sets alarm bells ringing in open source community Click here for more.

The Weird, Weird Web

Want to diary your death? Ask online: With Halloween looming, 'tis the season to be morbid and people wishing to know their expiry date can indulge in some online trick-or-treating at websites which predict the date of their death. Click here for more.

Andy Murray conducts online vote to choose a new hairstyle: Murray, who is currently preparing to play Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters, has become known for his curly mop. Click here for more.

 

 


It was five years ago today...

Each month we dredge through our archives to pull out stories from the Actrix Newsletter of exactly five years ago. Sometimes these stories will show just how much the net has changed in such a short time, and sometimes they'll be included just because they're interesting.

Net experts agree that its impact keeps unfolding: On 15 January 1992, Tim Berners-Lee wowed a roomful of physicists with the first public demonstration of the World Wide Web. The world has never been quite the same. Click here for more.

Technologies That Changed 2001: Part 1: Analysts list Internet and network security among the most important enterprise technology breakthroughs of the past year, according to an informal poll by NewsFactor Network. Click here for more.

The techno-thrill is gone: After Sept. 11, we know digital wizardry can't save the world - or even distract us from horror. But don't trash those gadgets yet. Click here for more.

 


Bringing it all back home

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 (support@actrix.co.nz) or to the Accounts Department (accounts@actrix.co.nz).

Have a great Christmas break!

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