April 07 Topics
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"I sit looking at this darn computer screen all day long, day in and day out, week
after week, and think: Man, if I could just find the 'on' switch..."
April 07 Topics
"It can be shown that for any nutty theory, beyond-the-fringe political view or strange religion there exists a proponent on the Net."
April 07 Topics
"I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous - everyone
hasn't met me yet."
April 07 Topics
The Actrix Online Informer is published each to help keep
Actrix customers up-to-date with what's happening on the Internet, and to
help ensure they have every opportunity to benefit from it.
Actrix - New Zealand's first Internet Service Provider
The long Indian summer continues as we receive day after day of gentle, warm and sunny weather. If you're worried that you might be getting too much sun, or you're bored with sitting outside enjoying it, we have some good news for you. With the user homepage allocation increasing from 5 to 20 megabytes, now's a great time to start fiddling around with that web page you've been putting off. Your user homepage is a great place to make a start and we hope you find this month's introduction to the upload interface helpful.
If not, then feel free to skip it and get down to the interesting sites.
We hope this year is shaping up well for you. It better be, the first quarter is already over!
As we mentioned last month, most Actrix customers are entitled to some free web space for their own non-business site. You can have up to 20 Megabytes of personal space as part of your connection deal. It's already set up for you - all you have to do is log in and upload.
User homepages are a good place to begin experimenting with your first website outing, but 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.
When you're ready to begin, 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 website to your personal web space. To see how your site looks, just go to http://users.actrix.co.nz/yourusername/.
Writing and Designing
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 don’t 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 websites online that offer tutorials in how to produce your first 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.
If you want, you can also use a "wysiwyg" program to make web pages. Wysiwyg is short for "What you see is what you get". FrontPage and DreamWeaver are the most common, but these are expensive to purchase. You can download some free HTML editors, and Coffeecup is one that I highly recommended. You can download a 30 day trial from www.coffeecup.com, but if you want to keep using it for more than 30 days, it will cost you US$49. Other html editors recommended by the help desk crew include:
Mike Cooper: NVU (pronounced N-View) has a wysiwyg interface and is a completely free open source program available from http://www.nvu.com/index.php. It's useable on Windows, Mac and Linux.
Pete Cranston: Araneae is basically a glorified Notepad that automagically distinguishes between various pieces of HTML using colour coding which is pretty handy. No wysiwyg, but completely free from http://www.ornj.net/araneae/.
Eric Waterson: PSPad is fairly simple and easy to use. It has highlighted syntax in source code, but no wysiwyg. Freeware from www.pspad.com/en/.
Damian Kissick: Crimson Editor is a free source code editor for Windows that's quite small (can be copied on one floppy) - no wysiwyg - http://www.crimsoneditor.com/.
Jim Breen: What could be easier than the old NS Composer now renamed, updated and bundled with SeaMonkey browser for Win, Mac and Linux. The price is right at $0.00 - http://www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/.
I don't really recommend it, but you can also use Microsoft programs like Word and Publisher to make html pages. Create the pages so they look the way you want them, and then choose to save the pages as HTML. The reason I don't recommend programs like Word and Publisher is that they're not primarily tools for producing web pages. When they do save as HTML, they tend to create very bloated and inefficient code which makes them larger in file size (longer to download) and they often use Microsoft's version of HTML which doesn't work all that well in browsers other than Internet Explorer.
As you're looking around for a program you may want to download and use, you may come across "FTP." This is short for "file transfer protocol", and is the process used to transfer web pages from your machine to the website. For Actrix User Homepages, you don't need to worry about whether your chosen program has FTP ability. The user interface found under My Actrix will allow you to upload the files you need without FTP, and FTP doesn't work with the homepages anyway. The programs will still be fine for creating the pages, whether they have FTP built in or not.
Basic uploading tips
Main page: The first and most important thing to know is that your main page should be called index.html or index.htm. When a browser comes to your website, this is the page that it will find and load by default. So, when you've designed your main page, save it with either of those names.
Linking to images and other pages: When you're making a website it's really helpful to keep in mind that, at least at first, everything is in the same directory on your hard drive. When you've saved index.html somewhere, also save any images you want on that page in the same directory along with any future pages you create that you want to link to from your main page. This makes it easy to also upload them into the same directory so that a web browser knows exactly where to find the images it needs to display in your web pages and the pages it needs to link to.
The process should go something like this.
The Actrix User Homepage system calls folders "directories" but it means the same thing.
Keep your images small: Before you insert images into your web pages, you will probably need to make them smaller than they currently are. Many digital cameras save images at well over a megabyte each, and this is way too big for web page use. Images should be reduced to around 20-30 kilobytes each if possible. Up to 100 kilobytes each might be okay for broadband viewers, but people on dialup will get frustrated and aren't likely to stick around at your website waiting for images to appear.
You can reduce image file size by making dimensions smaller, and by increasing the amount they are compressed. There's an Actrix Online Informer article from back in November called Downsize my photos that provides some ways just about anyone should be able to do this
Working with sub directories
As your webpage expands, you may want to think about incorporating some sub-directories into it. A lot of designers, for example, put all their images in a single directory, and all the pages that have to do with a certain topic in a single directory. If you're just starting out and have only a few pages and a few images to worry about, then don't let this distract you, but if you're planning something larger in scale, subdirectories will help you keep your files organised and able to be found more easily.
Just remember that things in different directories will need to be linked to differently. If a page wants to display an image that is in the same directory as itself, the code would be <img src="imagename.jpg"> If the page wanted to insert an image from a different directory, the code would be <img src="directoryname/imagename.jpg">. This sort of thing is called a pathway, and will probably be the thing that frustrates you most when using different directories, but once you get it, it's pretty logical and straightforward.
As an aside, most people who are into web design will tell you that at first, the simplest things seemed to go wrong, and they would spend ages poring over code they'd written trying to find out where the mistake was. Usually it was just a misplaced " or / in a pathway, and once they'd found the problem (and kicked themselves for having missed something so simple) they never made the same mistake again. If this happens to you when you're starting out, don't worry - you're normal, and these days you have the advantage of being able to "google" whatever your problem is. Be sure others have struggled with the same thing.
Using the interface
Once you've logged into My Actrix and chosen the User Homepage feature, the interface will open up before you. If you've never uploaded anything before, it should all be blank, and it will be connected to your root directory by default. Your root directory is the main one where your home page (index.html) will go. You can use the Upload Files feature on the right to browse for and find individual files to upload. Just click the Browse button to navigate to the files you want. When you've selected them (up to five at a time) click the Upload button and up they go. Files uploaded will now appear in the main screen to the left of the interface, with any existing directories included at the top.
If you're just doing a simple web page, that should be all that's needed. Now you're ready to go to your homepage at http://users.actrix.co.nz/yourusername/ to see the result. If you're happy, you can start sending that link out to friends and family if you want them to see your latest handiwork.
For those feeling advanced enough to start using sub-directories, the Make New Directory tool allows you to do just that. The "Create in" tool below it allows you create a directory inside a directory you've already created, if you want to get that complicated. Just remember that in creating directories, you basically want to replicate at your website what you've done on your hard drive.
Doing other stuff with uploaded files
The User Homepage interface also allows you to do a few other things with files you've uploaded. Each file or directory appears with a tick box next to it. You can use the tickbox to select one or more files to either delete, rename or move, and the tools for these functions appear to the top of the interface.
Listing in the index
There is an online index of existing Actrix user Homepages. If you'd like to include your home page, click the Options link over to the left. This will allow you to add your page, as well as up to 80 words of description. If you'd like to see examples of pages that currently exist, see http://users.actrix.co.nz/.
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).
Shirley May writes: Is there any way of getting rid of a message I get everyday (and some days at least 3 times) that says messages I never sent were blocked?
Hi Shirley May, the short answer is - not really. A spammer somewhere has your e-mail address and is sending spam as if it came from you. This is so that he doesn't have to deal with the bounces, and also to help hide his identity. You're not unique. He has just about everybody else's e-mail address as well and is doing the same thing to most people. You will probably find the phenomenon comes and goes depending on how often it's your address that's used. If you really wanted you could change your e-mail address, but it would only be a matter of time before it started happening again - and it could be a lot worse than three of these a day!
Lesley writes: Some of my recipients tell me I have sent an attachment even when I haven't and it often is just a tiny brown leaf shape in the middle of the page!
Hi Lesley, this probably has to do with your html/stationery settings. You must be set to send with a built in stationery template in Outlook Express that has the brown leaf graphic in it (there's one called Leaves and that's probably it). For some of your recipients (depending on their e-mail program and settings) this will show up as intended as part of the e-mail. But some of your recipient may have settings that disallow display of such images and if so the image will often turn up as an attachment.
Stationery settings can be found in your options – if you want to have a closer look at what’s going on: Click Tools, and then Options. On the Send tab you can check the "HTML" radio button of the sending format option, or the "Plain text" radio button which will mean all your future messages will go in plain text only (no stationery).
If the HTML button has the dot in it, click the Compose tab and see if there is a tick in the "Mail" checkbox under Stationery. If so, you’re set to use stationery of some sort, and the name of the stationery should also appear there. You can click the Select button to choose other stationery, or untick the "Mail" checkbox to stop using it. I hope that helps.
(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!
|Your visual DNA
http://dna.imagini.net/friends/ - Get to know yourself! This site takes you through a series of pictures and asks you to select what most appeals to you. At the end it gives you a bit of a breakdown of what those choices reveal about your personality. It's not ground-breakingly original stuff, but it's an interesting way of presenting an old idea. Quite enjoyable!
www.fun-with-words.com/tom_swifties_history.html - A Tom Swifty is where an adverb relates both properly and punningly to a sentence of reported speech. Sound complicated? Even if you don't get the grammar, you should get the puns: "The doctor had to remove my left ventricle," said Tom half-heartedly.
|Strangest deaths in history
www.neatorama.com/2007/03/12/30-strangest-deaths-in-history/ - We've covered strange deaths before but this page has more of them and better pictures. Death by belly slam? Death by sheep? Death by beard? Perhaps the Grim Reaper has a sense of humour after all.
| UFO Crawler
www.ufocrawler.com/search/ - With UFO Crawler, it's now a whole lot easier to find whatever truth is out there. This is a great way to find out whatever you want to know about the paranormal from alien abductions to ghosts and UFOs. Searches return enough links to keep believers occupied for hours..
| Animated Stereogram
www.militantplatypus.com/blog/884/animated-stereogram/ - remember those eye-crossing stereogram pictures that reveal hidden images when you look at them funny? Well this one moves! And once you get it, you just can't make it stop.... It's a big image and takes some time to load.
www.conservapedia.com/ - The great thing about the web is that everybody has an opportunity to provide alternatives. This one has been set up by a body mistrustful of Wikipedia due to a perceived anti-American, anti-Christian bias. It works similarly to Wikipedia in that anyone can contribute. Just be sure you read the site's Commandments first!
http://eastpointpolice.org/SelfArrestForm.htm - Talk about efficiency! The East Point Police help you to help them save time and money by arresting yourself via this form. It even has sections for you to read yourself your rights, and enter a plea. While you're waiting for them to turn up, you can spend some time taking your own fingerprints, too. The only thing missing is a section on what to do if you find yourself resisting your own arrest. No, I don't think it's serious.
|Things other people accomplished
when they were your age
www.museumofconceptualart.com/accomplished/ - Enter your age and click "Display Accomplishments" to see what others had accomplished by the time they had used up the same number of years as you. If you like you can add your own accomplishments, or accomplishments of someone you know about, and the site's creator will consider them for inclusion.
|Auto comic strip maker
www.wittycomics.com/make-comic.php - This site provides you with the tools to make your own comics. You can choose to set characters and background, and then add whatever dialogue and narration you like. If you become a member you can save comics and give them titles. This could come in handy if you're a really funny person but pretty "pants" at drawing.
http://eatsshootsandleaves.com/ESLquiz.html - Think you're a bit of a wizz with punctuation? Do people come to you for help with where to place commas and apostrophes? Well, let's see how good you really are.
Capital broadband plan likely to go-ahead: A Wellington City Council proposal to deliver high-speed broadband to every household is expected to get the thumbs-up from councillors. Click here for more.
Critics say spam law will achieve little: A law to tackle spam e-mails was passed last night, but critics say it will do little to combat the millions of unwanted messages sent into inboxes each year. Click here for more.
Banks seek domain change to combat online fraud: Banks want a new internet classification to help combat online fraud, currently costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Click here for more.
Broadband up 30pc, dial-up dips: The pace at which New Zealanders took up broadband did not budge an inch last year, even as debate raged over unbundling and Government moves to split up Telecom. Click here for more.
Waking up to virtual funerals: Maureen Murray had only just arrived home from one funeral when she learned she had another - this time on the other side of the world and for her only brother. Click here for more.
Blogger accuses Canterbury police of corruption: Ten Canterbury police officers have been targeted by an internet blogger making unsubstantiated claims of corruption against them. Click here for more.
Web scheme costs woman $23,000: A woman who lost more than $23,000 to a website get-rich-quick scheme has warned others not to get sucked in when the American company returns to New Zealand next week. Click here for more.
NZ fifth in spam cup - ahead of Australia: New Zealand has the Bledisloe Cup, the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy and the netball World Cup, and now we are beating our Australian cousins at spam. Click here for more.
Report highlights NZ's broadband woes: A report by the Ministry of Economic Development is critical of the state of telecommunications in New Zealand, in particular the prices paid by private consumers and buinesses, and the lack of high-end broadband services. Click here for more.
For sale: 'most useless website': "Do not believe all the other ads for websites that tell you all it needs is a bit of investment and time – Rubbish – it's a bottomless pit, I tell you. May as well set your dollars on fire," [the] advert reads. Click here for more.
Online addict dies after 'marathon' session: An obese 26-year-old man in northeastern China died after a "marathon" online gaming session over the Lunar New Year holiday, state media said on Wednesday. Click here for more.
Fragrant future beckons for web: Within a decade the net will be able to deliver smells as fast as it does data, predicts a report. Click here for more.
Internet slimming pills warning: The illicit availability of appetite suppressant pills online is fuelling a slimming obsession and putting lives at risk, experts warn. Click here for more.
Google to Aaron: we can hear you :): After just one day on the ground, Stanton's blog traffic monitor showed that someone from inside the Googleplex had clicked on his site. Click here for more.
Wikiscandal: This latest scandal, at one of the Web's most viewed sites, involves a prominent editor who forged his credentials and faked having a doctorate. Click here for more.
SEC Cracking Down on Spam 'Pump and Dump': The SEC has suspended securities trading of 35 companies as part of a new crackdown on market manipulation via spam. Click here for more.
Privacy bodies back Google step: Privacy bodies have welcomed Google's decision to anonymise personal data it receives from users' web searches. Click here for more.
Scotsman wins spam compensation: Most people just grumble and hit delete, but when Gordon Dick received an unwanted spam message advertising Internet services, he decided to fight back. Click here for more.
Internet name system in growing danger: The internet's key site identity system is in mounting danger from new techniques that could cause havoc by turning it into a free-for-all market, the World Intellectual Property Organisation WIPO has warned. Click here for more.
Tech Firms Push to Use TV Airwaves for Internet: A coalition of big technology companies wants to bring high-speed Internet access to consumers in a new way: over television airwaves. Key to the project is whether a device scheduled to be delivered to federal labs today lives up to its promise. Click here for more.
Stop surfing, make friends, Indian students told: One of India's top engineering schools has restricted Internet access in its hostels, saying addiction to surfing, gaming and blogging was affecting students' performance, making them reclusive and even suicidal. Click here for more.
Court Snuffs Internet Smut Law: Nearly nine years after Congress passed the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), a Philadelphia federal court judge ruled Thursday that COPA is unconstitutional. Click here for more.
Dating site asks 'are you hot enough?': Jason Pellegrino (an 8.2 on the attractiveness scale) says the problem with Internet dating services is not enough really hot-looking people. Click here for more.
Wikipedia rival makes its debut: Citizendium, a self-proclaimed "citizens' compendium" of general knowledge, works much like Wikipedia in that anyone can submit information. Click here for more.
Call for blogging code of conduct: Support for a blogger hounded by death threats has intensified with some high profile web experts calling for a code of conduct in the blogosphere. Click here for more.
Musicians: Keep the Web neutral: Some said they do not want to pay. The Web, they said, has allowed many unknown musicians to put their music online, giving fans instant access to new music and giving bands greater marketing capabilities. Click here for more.
Rough, but there's little lost in Google translation: In Google's vision of the future, people will be able to translate documents instantly into the world's main languages, with machine logic rather than expert linguists leading the way. Click here for more.
ID theft forecast: Gloomy today, worse tomorrow: Virtually every trend line for identity theft is bad news, a research analyst said as she released a survey showing that 15 million Americans were victimised during a recent 12-month span. Click here for more.
How not to fall victim to internet fraud: If criminals steal money from your bank or use your credit card remotely, the chances are you're to blame. Click here for more.
'Surge' in hijacked PC networks: The number of computers hijacked by malicious hackers to send out spam and viruses has grown almost 30% in the last year, according to a survey. Click here for more.
Many net users 'not safety-aware': Fewer than half of the UK's 29m adult internet users believe they are responsible for protecting personal information online, a survey suggests. Click here for more.
Protect your children from online predators: While the Web allows kids the freedom to make friends, play games and research homework with the click of a button, it can pose a potential danger as online predators, cyberbullies and scam artists ply their trade. Click here for more.
Staying safe without anti-virus: For a long time anti-virus software has been in the front line when it comes to stopping malicious programs infecting PCs. Click here for more.
Patch Tuesday Surprise: It would seem Microsoft has nothing to fix. Ok, stop laughing. Next Tuesday is the second Tuesday of the month, the traditional patch day for Microsoft... Click here for more.
Surprise, Microsoft Listed as Most Secure OS: Microsoft has the fewest holes and was fastest at plugging them, according to Symantec's security report. Click here for more.
Tories want open source Whitehall: The [British] government could save more than £600 million a year if it used more open source software, the shadow chancellor has estimated. Click here for more.
Red Hat Strikes Back With Next Generation Linux: The latest flagship release arrives as Red Hat faces new pressure from rivals. Click here for more.
Beryl: Eye Candy For the Linux Desktop: Ever wanted to take the window open on your desktop and set it on fire? If you happen to be running Linux, you're in luck. Click here for more.
Cats to help thwart net spammers: Pictures of homeless cats and dogs could soon be helping users get access to secure websites and services. Click here for more.
Hole in pyjamas reveals internet plagiarism: Candidates for British universities have been caught red-handed copying their applications from the internet after hundreds mentioned "burning a hole in pyjamas at age eight" on their online entrance forms. Click here for more.
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.
UK study: Passwords often easy to crack: Computer passwords are supposed to be secret. But psychologists say it is possible to predict a password based on the personalities of users or even what is on their desks. Click here for more.
Scientists test first human cyborg: A British university professor has been fitted with cyborg technology enabling his nervous system to be linked to a computer. Click here for more.
Web surfing gives you goldfish brains: Spending too much time on the Internet can leave you with an attention span of about nine seconds - the same as that of a goldfish. Click here for more.
Web rage hits the internet: More than half of all internet users admit to losing their rag with the net at least once a week, according to a Mori study. Click here for more.
Thanks again for reading the Actrix Online Informer. 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 (email@example.com) or to the Accounts Department (firstname.lastname@example.org).