May 07 Topics
Individual articles from Past Actrix Online Informers are
archived in alphabetical order.
Past Actrix Online Informers
May 07 Topics
May 07 Topics
Actrix Contact Info
Actrix Help Desk
Help Desk Hours
"Remember, the problem is not that people are stupid; the problem is that modems are cheap."
May 07 Topics
"On the negative side, I've been getting charged for a ton of stuff I didn't order lately.
On the positive side, I did win that 'Who's Got the Best Password' contest on AOL last week."
May 07 Topics
"To me, truth is not some vague, foggy notion. Truth is real. And, at
the same time, unreal. Fiction and fact and everything in between, plus some things I can't remember, all rolled into
one big thing. This is truth, to me."
May 07 Topics
The Actrix Online Informer is published each month 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
This month we return to the browser theme and do a bit of a comparison of the main ones out there. Each has its own set of devotees, but the reality is that they've copied each other's good points to such an extent that they are all now pretty similar.
We also take a bit of a look at Actrix WebMail. Lots of customers inquire about how they can access their Actrix e-mail while away from their main computers or travelling overseas. We resurrect and update an article Mike Cooper wrote a few years ago that takes you through some of WebMail's features. It's also a good way to delete any big e-mails you've received that are clogging up your downloads through Outlook or Outlook Express.
Not much in the way of forum questions this month. The help desk also reports that there don't appear to be any major issues affecting customers generally, and I guess that is a pretty good sign.
We hope there's something of interest for you in this month's Actrix Online Informer, and that your next two thirds of 2007 are just peachy!
For the last few years, Internet Explorer's dominance as the browser of choice has been under small but persistent threat. 'Boutique browsers' such as Opera, and particularly Firefox are now becoming more mainstream because users say they have better features. Some enthusiasts like them simply because they just aren't Microsoft. Many Firefox users choose that browser because it is open source which they say makes it more secure, and easier to make add-ons and plug-ins for. Its rapid rise has largely been due to the loud applause given it by the open source crowd.
Firefox and Opera' rise in popularity has had Microsoft running scared, and though it often criticised its competitors' unique features as "trivial" the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE7) now incorporates them all. In fact, the "browser war" of the last couple of years has meant that each browser has pretty much copied the best features of the others, and there is now very little difference between the later versions of each.
If you can use one browser brand, you can use another with little needed in terms of personal adjustment. There's no problem having more than one browser installed on your PC. In fact you could use them all at the same time if you wished even to access the same websites at the same time.
If we had to recommend just one...
While Firefox is the main challenger to Internet Explorer, my opinion is that the latest version of Opera (9.2) still leads the way in terms of unique and useful features. These include the ability to make notes about pages you're visiting and refer back to them later, the "paste and go" feature that saves time and a click or two when you're pasting URLs into the address bar, and the fast forward button which analyses the available links on a page and automatically loads what it thinks is the next logical one for you. I also like Opera's ability to quickly change "skins" and colour schemes which gives the browser a whole new appearance. You can do this with Firefox too under Themes, but it isn't quite as quick and easy.
Opera also comes with "mouse gestures" loaded by default. You can perform various functions such as back, forward and refresh simply by holding the right mouse button down and jerking in a specified direction. This is a pretty cool feature that is going to catch on. You can download it as a special add-on for Firefox and IE7.
So how do the browsers compare speed-wise? After all, the most important thing a browser can do is load web pages quickly, especially on dialup where waiting times can be agonising.
We did some pretty rough and ready speed tests involving local and overseas websites we hadn't visited before, and with carefully cleared caches.
The results were very close on a 3Mb cable broadband connection, so if you have broadband, there's probably not a lot of point changing browsers for speed reasons alone. Firefox averaged 8.1 seconds for a full page load. IE7 and Opera came in equal on 8.7 seconds.
However, it was a different story on a 56K dialup connection. Firefox and Internet Explorer (44 seconds and 45 seconds respectively) were easily pipped by Opera at just 32 seconds. If you're on dialup, this may be another reason to consider Opera.
Please note, however, that these tests weren't terribly scientific and should be seen as indicative only.
Just how much of the browser market each has is difficult to determine for sure, and depends on who's saying so. Firefox claims it has 12% of the world browser market, and Opera says it has achieved 5% market share in some countries. We asked the techs to give us a breakdown of the percentage of times our homepage is accessed by each browser, and the results are as follows:
MS Internet Explorer (IE5-IE7) 91.3 %
While these figures are probably a good snapshot of the browser market in New Zealand, overseas use of Firefox and Opera is likely to be considerably higher.
Where to get 'em
Firefox Version 184.108.40.206 is a 5.9 Megabyte download from www.mozilla.com.
Opera 9.2 is a 6.2 Megabyte download from www.opera.com.
Internet Explorer: If you have Windows Automatic Updates turned on (check in your Control Panel) Windows will automatically be downloading the update to Internet Explorer 7 whenever you are online and at some stage you can expect that little box to turn up in the bottom right hand corner proudly announcing that you're now ready to install IE7, and that may have happened already. If you can't wait you can download it from http://www.microsoft.com/windows/. It's about 15 Megabytes, but the size of your download may vary according to your operating system.
What's new in Internet Explorer 7?
Add-ons, Extensions and Widgets
Each of our three browsers has a host of downloadable extras that you can make part of your browser. IE7 generally calls them Add-ons, Firefox calls them Extensions (and sometimes IE7 does too), and Opera calls them Widgets. Each has around a thousand or so to choose from, and they have to be downloaded separately. There's a wide scope available so have a browse of what's on offer. Check out the Editor's picks or the Most downloaded sections for the best ones.
Internet Explorer 7
Find them under Tools/Manage Add-ons. Some that might be worth checking out are:
IeSpell - checks your spelling in text-input boxes on a web page.
Firefly - a Web Browser made specifically for kids. Parents can load in pages that they've approved and kids can only surf those pages.
SurfVCR - records your Web surfing session and plays it back to you like a movie.
Find them under Tools/Add-ons. Some that might be worth checking out are:
FoxyTunes - places remote controls for your favourite media player within Firefox so you can control your music without leaving the browser.
SiteDelta - highlights changes made to a website since your last visit.
ProCon Predator - filters web pages containing explicit content automatically based on the website's text.
Find them under Widgets/Add widgets. Some that might be worth checking out are:
GMail checker - checks your Gmail account for new messages every five minutes.
Circular Tetris - adds a new spin to the popular Tetris game. Instead of horizontal bars to organise on the fly, you're challenged by circular walls!
Do-too to do lists - allows you to make lists of things to do. It's sort of like online post-it notes!
Screen ruler - a useful tool for web designers and others too. Simply click the grid in two places to measure the distance in pixels between the points.
World Clock - displays the time for you in various cities around the world.
If you're a browser junky who's tried them all but not quite found the one that looks just right, you might want to try Browser Bob. Browser Bob software provides you with a browser template which you can add your own graphics and colour scheme to. Design your own buttons and logos and place them exactly where you want them, and include or exclude features as you see fit. You can add sound, advertising banners and even pictures of yourself for backgrounds.
The build function allows you to create an executable install file which you can then give to others so they can use your totally unique browser too. Now that could put an interesting spin on the birthday and Christmas presents you give this year!
It's reasonably easy to work your way through the functions, and you could have a simple browser installed and working just minutes after you download the program, but there's enough there to keep the tech-minded intrigued and busy for many hours.
There are three different versions each with a free 30 day trial. The basic version comes with a 30 day fully working trial and costs $US99/NZ$145 if you decide to keep it.
You can find out more and download Browser Bob at www.browserbob.com.
This is an updated version of an article by Mike Cooper which originally ran in February 2003.
Text messaging, pagers, mobile phones - communication on the move is an increasingly important part of our everyday lives. E-mail is no exception to this rule and the Actrix WebMail system is available to provide access to your new e-mail messages when you're not able to be at your home computer.
This article will take you on a brief tour of the Actrix WebMail system and identify some of its major features.
Why Would You Need WebMail?
WebMail provides e-mail access whilst away from your normal home or office computer. It can be used from any location in New Zealand or worldwide as long as you have an Internet accessible computer: e.g. at an Internet cafe, or a friend's computer (even if they're not with Actrix - shame on them).
How to Get There
To get to Actrix WebMail just go to www.actrix.co.nz and look for the My Actrix login box - located at the top right hand side of the Actrix Homepage. Enter your username (which is just the first part of your e-mail address). Enter your password into the next field and click Login.
The Main View
There are a number of things to do with your account inside My Actrix, and the first thing you should notice is that there's a box telling you whether or not you have new mail. This is there to save you time if you haven't got any new mail. Pages like WebMail work hard as they have to pull in lots of data from other places, and it can be a little slow. This is often an issue from Internet cafes where bandwidth is not abundant.
Click the WebMail and Spam Folder link to open up your webmail. You should be able to see all the e-mails you have received since you last downloaded to your home computer.
Remember that WebMail will not allow you to access e-mails you have already downloaded to your computer as those e-mails are no longer on the Actrix system. New messages will be in bold type, and messages that have already been read via WebMail will be in normal type. Message markings such as the paperclip for an attachment, and the ! for a priority message are all displayed as well.
Most of a normal e-mail program's features incorporated, including Reply and Forward. Attachments can be viewed and downloaded as well. There is a functional address book allowing you to store addresses online. This is convenient if you want to enter your e-mail addresses before heading away on holiday. It also saves losing the piece of paper you wrote them on! You can fiddle around with importing and exporting address books if you wanted to, but we'll leave that for now.
A search feature is available so you can
sift through your messages for a certain word or topic. There is even a
calendar feature for managing appointments and dates into the future - for
those travelling enter your flight itinerary! You can also create folders to
store your mail by category. Just remember that when you get back to your
home computer, you won't be able to get to those folders, so only use this
feature while you're away, or if you use WebMail all the time for getting to
your Actrix mail.
In particular look through the Options screen which will allow you to configure how WebMail displays messages, set up an automatic signature for your outgoing messages, highlight messages from particular senders and much more.
If you delete a message using WebMail it won't be received on your machine once you return home and check your mail with your normal e-mail program. The Trash folder is turned on by default and anything you delete using WebMail goes there (and is permanently deleted automatically after seven days). If you refresh the folder list or log back in again after deleting something the Trash folder should have a 'purge' option you can use to manually (and permanently) delete everything (although there are no warnings or confirmation dialogues). If you want to get something back out of Trash that hasn't been permanently deleted yet, you can go in and manually put it back into your inbox so that your e-mail program will be able to see it again at home.
You can turn Trash off by going to Options - Folder Preferences and set Trash Folder to 'Do Not Use Trash'.
There is a WebMail Help menu which has a mine of information presented in a relaxed easy to read style to assist you in finding your way around. Alternatively the Actrix Helpdesk can assist you with WebMail inquiries - 0800 228 749.
E-mail on the go is never easier than with Actrix WebMail. If you think you might need to use it, have a bit of a play with it before you head off on your trip. Send yourself a message or two with it, explore the different menus available and familiarise yourself with how the system works. You never know - it might even be worth planning a trip just to test it out!
One final word of advice - WebMail from Internet cafes is always a risk. Machines in public places can contain key-logging software to steal your password. There's no need to be too paranoid, but don't deal with sensitive or really private matters from Internet cafes. And make sure you change your password as soon as you get home.
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).
Last month Lesley wrote in about a problem with her e-mail where messages she sent often seemed accompanied by a small brown-leaf attachment. Our response included some instructions for changing the html and stationery options for outgoing emails in Outlook Express.
We hope those instructions were helpful, but if not, Pam has written in with the following advice.
Hi there, With reference to Lesley's problem and attachments - I had this problem when upgrading my AVG anti-virus program from 6 to 7 and then again after I upgraded this year to 7.5.
To fix this I used the instructions from Cloudeight which were put out in 2004 but were still applicable earlier this year. These Instructions can be found at www.thundercloud.net/infoave/avg-alert.htm.
Thanks Pam. -Ed
(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!
|The 10 most magnificent trees in the world
http://www.neatorama.com/2007/03/21/10-most-magnificent-trees-in-the-world/ - There are probably hundreds of majestic and magnificent trees in the world, but this site has found ten that are pretty amazing, including one you can drive through, and one with a built in ladder. A good selection of pictures is included for each.
http://aol.beliefnet.com/story/76/story_7665_1.html - At this website you get asked 20 questions on your beliefs about God, morality and salvation. Once done, 27 religions or variations are listed in the order to which you conform the most. The higher each appears on this list, the more closely it aligns with your thinking. Faiths range from secular humanism and non-theism to Scientology and Mormonism.
|The 23 most talked about celebrity nose jobs
http://www.tinyurl.com/2ynwbf - Just how far will some celebs go in pursuit of the perfect snozz? This site provides a gallery of before, after and maybe shots of famous people who've decided mother nature needed a helping hand to make them all that they could be. Is it too frivolous to take seriously? Who nose?
| April Fools' Day jokes
http://aprilfools.urgo.org/2007.html - Tattoos for toddlers, GMail Paper and the BBC's sniff screen technology - they're all here at this collection of online 2007 April Fool's day stories. There are lots of them for this year, and also links to collections from previous years.
| Spelling tests
www.bored.com/badspelling/index.php - How bad a speller are you? Here are five spelling quizes to help you find out. Your results are compared with others who have taken the same quiz. The average is about 38 right out of 50, so there's a target to beat. The site sees American spellings as correct, by the way.
is more famous?
www.famousr.com/ - This site provides a couple of tests around fame. The main test presents you with two actors or actresses and you have to click which is the more famous. The site will tell you whether you're right or wrong and present you with the next choice - though who decided on this subjective comparison in the first place is a mystery. You can use the "Compare Two Actors" tool to check on a duo of your own choice. There's also a test called "Who's that guy?" which present you with a more obscure actor, and you have to pick his biggest role.
|100 things to do before you die
http://brass612.tripod.com/cgi-bin/things.html - Well, here's 100 things you might like to think about doing before you die. There might be a few in there that you'd prefer to think about not doing. Tick the boxes for all the ones you've done, and click the button to find out how you're doing in life.
www.wikihow.com/Main-Page - "WikiHow is a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest how-to manual. With your contributions, we can create a free resource that helps people by offering clear, concise solutions to the problems of everyday life. wikiHow currently contains 18,378 articles written, edited, and maintained primarily by volunteers. Please join us by writing a new page, or editing a page that someone else has started."
www.worldmapper.org/ - "Worldmapper is a collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest. There are 366 maps, also available as PDF posters. Use the menu or click on a thumbnail image to view a map." Look at the size of America when it comes to fast food!
www.strangemag.com/ - You've just got to love this sort of stuff, even if you can't believe a whole lot of it. The haunted boy, the Loch Ness Monster was an elephant, dog heads being kept alive, showers of blood, reanimating the dead and Tasmanian Tigers terrorising Portland!
Clark suffers mild technological cringe: Prime Minister Helen Clark emerged from a tour of Microsoft's headquarters in Seattle with a mild dose of technological cringe. Click here for more.
Shopping on the net a big hit with Kiwis: Over a million New Zealanders now shop online, with flights the most popular purchase, figures show. Click here for more.
Lawyers study implications of Hayes Trade Me sentence: Lawyers are pondering the implications of Trade Me cracker Mark Hayes' three-year fraud sentence, confirmed on appeal late last year. Click here for more.
Pacific accused of being haven for online fraudsters: The Pacific Islands are known by tourists for their coral reefs and sandy beaches, but computer security professionals are starting to see them in a different light. Click here for more.
Regulator gives Telecom NZ copper date: Telecom New Zealand has been given until June 12 to specify terms and conditions, other than price, under which it proposes to provide a co-location service to other operators as part of the unbundling of the copper local loop. Click here for more.
Pets get own online matchmaking market: Think on-line dating is for the dogs? It is now. Click here for more.
New Zealanders keen on frequent internet use: A study just released shows New Zealanders have taken to the world wide web in a big way. Click here for more.
Kiwis concerned over identity theft: New Zealanders are more concerned with identify theft than other forms of personal, financial, national or internet security. Click here for more.
Wikipedia fights vandalism: If you looked up stingrays on Wikipedia last week, you would have learned that, as well as living in tropical coastal waters and reproducing in litters of five to 10 offspring, the cartilaginous marine fish also "hate Australian people". Click here for more.
Spam: it sucks like a tarpit: Spam sucks. That is the conclusion reached by a roomful of scientists at MIT on Friday after hearing a bunch of new research papers pitched at dealing with the problem. Click here for more.
Click here to give 'em the flick: Forget handwritten notes passed around class, terse phone calls and SMS - MySpace is now the tool of choice for teens looking to give their lovers the flick. Click here for more.
419ers take Kent minister for £12k: The Rev Robert Nooney met a man claiming to be a Nigerian trainee pastor called David in a Christian chatroom. They duly got chatting about a "multi-faith church and soup kitchen" Nooney was planning to set up in Thanet, and David generously offered to fund the operation from a £7.5m inheritance. Click here for more.
Trial in 419-related murder under way: trial underway in the US will detail how one scheme claimed the life of a Tennessee minister whose wife is accused of gunning him down after it came to light she fell victim to Nigerian-style swindlers. Click here for more.
Aimless workers lose two days a month in cyberspace: LONDON: Two out of three web users lose significant portions of their time to irrelevant web browsing, a study has found. Click here for more.
Weblogs 'need content warnings': Readers should be warned when they are reading blogs that may contain "crude language", a draft blogging code of conduct has suggested. Click here for more.
First Amendment extends to MySpace, court says: A judge violated a juvenile's free-speech rights when he placed her on probation for posting an expletive-laden entry on MySpace criticizing a school principal, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. Click here for more.
Turkey to block 'insulting' Web sites: A parliamentary commission approved a proposal allowing Turkey to block websites that are deemed insulting to the founder of modern Turkey, weeks after a Turkish court temporarily barred access to YouTube. Click here for more.
Spam epidemic could make email obsolete: Due to increasing levels of spam, companies may soon have to look beyond email as the primary method of communicating with employees and customers, according to a new study. Click here for more.
Wikipedia: battleground of the new millennium: Wikipedia, the famed hive mind reference database written by anyone who feels like having a go, has suffered a few military-related hiccups in recent days. Click here for more.
Is The Web Ready For HTML 5?: If Mozilla, Opera and Apple's Safari browser have their way, the HTML specification could be getting its first major point update in a decade. Click here for more.
Web counting tools 'need change': The way web audiences are measured could be ripe for an overhaul, according to two reports out this week. Click here for more.
Virginia Tech students hit social sites after shooting: Many students at Virginia Tech on Monday turned to message boards and social networking sites to try to find out what exactly was happening on campus during a shooting spree that ended with 33 dead. Click here for more.
Amateur sleuths keep cold cases alive: With the authorities struggling to solve so many cases, thousands of volunteers are using the internet to try to match the missing with the unidentified. Click here for more.
China aims to further tame Web: Chinese President Hu Jintao on Monday launched a campaign to rid the country's sprawling Internet of "unhealthy" content and make it a springboard for Communist Party doctrine, state television reported. Click here for more.
Your sons and daughters 'at same risk' from online predators: Parents are being warned their sons are just as likely to be targeted by internet predators as their daughters, with a survey revealing boys are less hesitant to reveal personal information online. Click here for more.
Employee web use a major security risk for companies: Social networking sites are not only biting into workplace productivity - they can also pose a major security risk, new research shows. Click here for more.
Warning over scam advertising website: The Commerce Commission is warning of an Austrian-based advertising firm that is allegedly tricking businesses into advertising contracts worth thousands of dollars. Click here for more.
Teens Are Protecting Themselves Online: The majority of teens themselves actively manage their online profiles to keep the information they believe is most sensitive away from the unwanted gaze of strangers, parents and other adults. Click here for more.
Search service tracks your online habits: Google has introduced a new service which critics say allows the company to more easily collect data on its users' web surfing habits. Click here for more.
Virus gets nastier, raising fears of fresh spam flood: Another deluge of spam emails looks set to hit New Zealand, as a computer virus hijacks computers around the world. Click here for more.
Malicious code rise driven by web: The number of new pieces of malicious software has doubled in the last year with the web being used increasingly to distribute the code, a report says. Click here for more.
Browser aims to open up the web: The key developers behind forthcoming changes to the Firefox browser reveal their plans for how the popular program will change. Click here for more.
A Linux for the rest of us?: Serial entrepreneur Peter Dawe, who helped bring the internet to the UK, is launching a "safe" Linux distro tailored for the technophobe. Click here for more.
Free Internet through your toilet: Code-named "Dark Porcelain," Google said its "Toilet Internet Service Provider" (TiSP) works with Microsoft Corp.'s new Windows Vista operating system. But sorry -- septic tanks are incompatible with the system's requirements. Click here for more.
Swedes battle to name daughter Metallica: Sadly, though, some poor Swedish kid is called Oliver Google Kai. 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.
Study: Nearly 10,000 duped by Net scams last year: Nearly 10,000 Americans reported losing $18 million in online scams last year, according to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center's annual report. Click here for more.
Black Mac' Shrouded in Gray Area: Very little is known about the mysterious computer, which seems to have been designed for military or spying purposes. It has been "Tempest-shielded" to prevent it from radiating electromagnetic signals, which can be snooped on. Click here for more.
Enforcing laws in a borderless Web: The rapid expansion of the Internet has left international legal affairs in its wake, and disagreements over how to apply local laws to the World Wide Web are increasing despite treaties such as the World Intellectual Property Organisation... 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to the Accounts Department (email@example.com).