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    Quote of the month  

"The Internet is the end of civilizations, cultures, interests and ethics."

– Official Iraqi government statement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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

Actrix – New Zealand's first Internet Service Provider

Welcome to the March 2009 Actrix Online Informer!

Welcome to the March Actrix Online Informer. You're probably all settled back at work now and we hope that's going well. If not, why not kick back for half an hour and enjoy the latest Actrix Online Informer? If you particularly like the Interesting Sites section, or like your internet on the silly side, then, boy, do we have an issue for you. 30 sites that didn't make the cut is a collection of sites I just didn't quite feel I could use, but were too weirdly or wackily good to throw away completely.

For those who enjoyed last month's article on Google Maps (and I know some of you have been virtually touring big time!) check out the stories about Google Maps in the Weird Wide Web section of Cyberspace News Snippets.

Rob Zorn

30 sites that didn't quite make the cut

One of the hardest things about producing the Actrix Online Informer each month is choosing the 10 lucky sites that will make the cut and be included in Interesting sites. It's hard some months because I have so many to choose from, and in other months it can be a real struggle to find enough.

I try to get a general mix each month with a few serious and a few less so, and it's always good to throw in one or two that are quite bizarre. So some sites get rejected because I think they'll only appeal to a few readers. Others aren't used because they're just too silly, though a few readers would probably have really enjoyed them.

Here are a number of sites that didn't quite make it for whatever reason.

Maim that tune: Are you plagued by Stuck Tune Syndrome? Do you have a tune stuck in your head you just can't get out? Take heart friend, for your suffering is over. The Maimograph Machine, through complex analysis and calculation, will find an even catchier tune to counter-act the one you already have.

Odd spot: Here is a collection of Odd Spot news from the Melbourne Age. Each day a lot of papers like to print a short quirky bit of news to make you smile or shake your head in wonder.

The quest for every beard type: This guy's been growing a beard every winter for some years now, and every spring, he tries to see how many variations he can check off from a chart of 35 facial hair types.

The Holy Church of Bacon: "We worship the religion known as Baconism. It is in your best bacony interest to join us and to spread our greasy goodness!"

Website gender analyser: Genderanalyser  uses artificial intelligence to determine if a web page is written by a man or woman.

100 most common English words: See how many of the 100 most common words in the English language you can guess in five minutes. The list was compiled using the Oxford English Corpus, used by the makers of the Oxford English Dictionary, which contains over two billion words of written English.

Logo Motto: This website randomly combines famous logos with famous tag lines, so you get stuff like the American express logo, with "Cats ask for it by name." Can be quite funny.

Toaster museum: "The revelation that somebody collects toasters often leads to the same reaction: awkward pause, nervous laugh, then: "...Toasters?" They simply call you crazy. Well, and sometimes I think they are right!" What do you mean you think they're right?

Kuku klock: Here's an online alarm clock you can set to wake you up while you take a snooze at your desk. You can even choose what sound will wake you.

Screamin' beans: Not sure what this is about. Someone really hates baked beans, or Heinz... Definitely in the too silly category.

Shakespeare insult kit: This engine randomly combines Shakespearean words and phrases to produce excellent insults, thou gorbellied, ill-breeding barnacle!

The price of beer in 208 countries: "The only price comparison website worth drinking to as well as the only travel and short-break holiday guide you really need."

People around the world: Pick a country then use this tool to trigger an image search using Google’s option to show faces of people from that country.

Instant rim shot: Here's a way to really enamour yourself to your workmates. Click this button every time you say something really funny.

The Devil's rope: "Working hard to maintain a site that everyone can enjoy, especially those students, teachers, and historians who may need information about barbed wire." Definitely one for the 'Who Cares?' category.

Ugly mailboxes: For all those who have looked at people's mailboxes and thought, "What were they thinking?"

World Toilet Organisation: The WTO is a global non-profit organisation committed to improving toilet and sanitation conditions worldwide. Where would we be without them?

Weird inventions: An indoor sundial? Wedgie-proof underpants? A fruitcake powered Christmas tree? I think someone's taking the mickey...

Is it Christmas?: This is a handy device to help you keep track of which day it isn't.

French manhole covers: Here's yet another reason to admire French civil engineers.

The inscrutable 8-Ball revealed: a procedure for disassembling a Magic 8-Ball. The authors caution readers not to follow or emulate the directions as harm may ensue.

A dot for every second in the day: This tool helps you get a feel for time. At one dot per second, it's a visual representation of a day slipping away.

Are you living in a computer simulation?: "The Simulation Argument is perhaps the first interesting argument for the existence of a Creator in 2000 years."

Verbotomy: Invented words created by Verbotomy writers.

Cemetery symbols: Exploring the meaning of cemetery symbols and other graveyard mysteries. Click 'Previous entries' at the foot of the page for more.

Kevin's bottle cap collection: Yep, not only is Kevin bottle cap mad, he's also just mad about sharing!

Secrets in websites: When a you browse the web, a fair amount of code is transferred from a server sitting in a cold lonely data-centre to your computer. It's mostly serious business, but sometimes developers like to embed small jokes, and traditions.

Dishwasher salmon: Poaching fish in the dishwasher is a virtually foolproof way to shock your friends, prepare a succulent meal and do the dishes.

Google logos: This guy loves Google's special limited edition logos and he's collected as many as he can.

Duck travels: We've all thought about doing this at some stage. C'mon, admit it!

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The contentious new copyright clause

As readers may be aware, revisions to the Copyright Act – due to become law soon – are causing some concern both for Internet service providers and for customers.

The main bugbear is section 92A which reads as follows.

Internet service provider must have policy for terminating accounts of repeat infringers

(1) An Internet service provider must adopt and reasonably implement a policy that provides for termination, in appropriate circumstances, of the account with that Internet service provider of a repeat infringer.

(2) In subsection (1), repeat infringer means a person who repeatedly infringes the copyright in a work by using 1 or more of the Internet services of the Internet service provider to do a restricted act without the consent of the copyright owner.

We'll leave aside questions of whether this is a fair requirement to lump onto ISPs. After all, is your phone company required to keep a record of the prank or threatening phone calls you make and deal with you if you've been bad? Is your electricity company required to police your power usage to make sure you're not doing anything dodgy with appliances?

It seems most people, including the government, assume it is a fair requirement and the precedent is in place in that it is widely accepted that ISPs have the responsibility of protecting customers from spam and viruses, as much as it is in their power. ISPs seem to have accepted this.

There are a few other reasons for concern with this new clause, and they affect both ISPs and customers.

The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPANZ), for example, calls Section 92A "a poorly constructed law designed to force ISPs to cut off the Internet access of those accused of repeat infringement of Copyright.” They note that the Select Committee considering the original Bill rejected this approach, but the previous Government reinserted the clauses in a last minute action, "making New Zealand a guinea pig for experimental cyberlaw.”

ISPANZ is calling on the new Government to take corrective action. They say that under Section 92A, ISPs will have to disconnect organisations such as businesses, public libraries and government agencies as a result of accusations that an employee has used their computers for illegal downloading. The customer may be innocent, there may be an error, or the downloading may well have been done by a virus. Everyday Kiwis whose computers may have been inadvertently hacked may have their Internet access terminated.

This can be a real risk, especially to businesses that are very dependent on the Internet to function. They may find themselves being taken down through a wrongful accusation, or on the basis of one employee's downloading that they knew nothing about.

ISPs can find themselves in a terrible position.

ISPANZ President Jamie Baddeley says, "Under Section 92A We'll be damned if we do and damned if we don't. We'll be faced with dealing with an accusation, not proven, of a copyright infringement and making a very difficult judgment call. If we decide in favour of our customers, we risk being sued by global media powerhouses. If we decide in favour of the rights-holder and disconnect a customer from the Internet, we risk being sued by customers for breach of contract. Disconnecting customers goes against everything we do."

"The worrying thing is that it's not the ISPs that carry the bulk of the market that are targeted by copyright holders. It is smaller, more innovative ISPs, who are ill equipped to deal with a major legal battle."

Baddeley notes support on this issue from every major ICT group in the country, including the Telecommunication Carriers' Forum, The NZ Computer Society, The Telecommunications Users Association of New Zealand, InternetNZ, and others. Other groups, including a group of artists, have also come out against Section 92A.

Like most ISPs, Actrix recognises the benefits of copyright and believes in protecting people's intellectual property. However, we feel there must be a better way than asking ISPs to stop connectivity on the basis of accusation alone.

In response the Internet Society of New Zealand has released a draft code of practice aimed at clarifying sanctions against illicit downloaders of copyright works. It's 29 pages long and already copping a fair amount of criticism for being "legally opaque”. Copyright holders' representatives say it swings the balance too much back in favour of the customer.

We'll be keeping an eye on the draft code, and hopefully we can bring you an update on developments next issue.

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Readers' forum 

If you'd like to ask a question or request some help on any Actrix or Internet-related matter. Simply send us 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 turn up under the Helpful Tips section on the Actrix home page (www.actrix.co.nz).

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Rosina writes: Great reading in the Actrix Online Informer. Thank you. Just making some comments. Recently, I've had two instances when I've done my email work through my Actrix webpage even when at home.

On tirst occasion my usual practice of emailing .jpegs of up to 5MBs wasn't working as usual. Though slow on dialup, they usually went without any trouble. But error messages were bouncing onto my screen saying the connection had been lost, then the process would start again, and again and again. Your technician, thank you, suggested I could try sending them through Actrix Web Mail and away they went and met the deadline. Brilliant and after a couple of days of go slow or whatever, we are back to normal again.

On the second occasion, on a website I participate in regularly, things got a bit personal when I started receiving 13MB .jpegs from the other person. On dial-up it isn't much fun. Then, I hit on the idea of going into Actrix Web Mail and was able to delete the other half dozen large .jpegs before they started downloading.

So, I guess what I'm saying, is that it can come in handy to do it through the Actrix website, not just when you're away from your own machine. Hope this makes sense. Cheers, Rosina.

Thanks Rosina. Yep, those are great uses for Actrix Web Mail. Rosina is responding to an article in the January 2009 Actrix Online Informer.

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Monica wrote: Dear Editor, Is there any charge, other than the cost of the calls, for using Actrix for Toll Calls?

Hi Monica, No, there are no extra charges at all other than the costs of the calls. If you’re moving to Actrix tolls to get a better broadband deal with Actrix there are no fees involved with tolls there, either – and no minimum of calls you need to make.

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Ione writes: I have an old account with Actrix and two computers linked to it For some reason my old computer no longer can be connected to Actrix. Seems the password I had on it (the automatic one) no longer applies. Can I get the password sent to me by e-mail? Or should I call a specific number to get it? Thank you heaps, Ione.

Hi Ione, We generally don't send passwords by email. Who knows who might get a hold of or see that email. You're best off calling the help desk on 0800-228749 and they will tell it to you over the phoe or re-set it for you – after a reasonably robust process to make sure you are who you say you are. It may also be that the dialup networking on your old machine is having some problems. If you talk to the help desk and get your password sorted, but things still don't work, you may want to ask them about that too.

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Interesting 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!

Top 10 bizarre afterlife experiments
http://listverse.com/bizarre/top-10-bizarre-afterlife-experiments/ – "This list includes some interesting and sometimes intriguing experiments that have attempted to prove or disprove one of the most important questions ever faced by humanity: Is there life after death?"
Lie detection tests
http://www.fox.com/lietome/lightmantests/ – How much do you know about lying and just how good do you think you are at discerning when someone's telling you porkies? Put your lie-detecting skills to work in these four challenging tests.
Student bloopers
www.snopes.com/humor/lists/student.asp – "Youngsters are more than capable of mangling what they've been taught in school, often in the most hilarious fashion." Richard Lederer's "list of howlers" makes for amusing reading, such as "The four gospels were written by John, Paul, George and that other guy." However, this is a Snopes page dedicated to debunking online myths. After you've enjoyed the list of bloopers, enjoy reading about how authentic they really are.

21 settings, techniques and rules all new camera owners should know
http://digital-photography-school.com/21-settings-techniques-and-rules-all-new-camera-owners-should-know – "I spoke with a family friend recently who had just bought a new point and shoot camera. She came up to me with her camera when no one was watching and embarrassedly asked me if I could tell her what all the little icons on the dial on top of her camera meant. This article explains what each of these most common digital camera modes means and does. Knowing them can take your shots to the next level."
The official website of the British monarchy
www.royal.gov.uk/ – More than 30 years after she sent her first email, the Queen has unveiled a new version of her website. The revamped site displays the royals' past and future engagements on an interactive Google map. Other features include direct links to royal video clips on YouTube, job listings and a new section on the royals' animals.
The Weird Body Quiz
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/10/31/health/20081031_WELLQUIZ.html – Take the New York Times Well quiz to test your weird body knowledge. Answer each of the 10 questions, then click Submit to see whether you're correct. You'll then be given the right answer and a little more information about each weird body fact.
How to stop picking your nose
http://www.wikihow.com/Stop-Picking-Your-Nose – See? This is what I love about the Internet – no end of helpful advice! Here is a web page dedicated to helping you overcome this vile habit. There are also some tips and warnings, and a high-class video to really get you motivated. Like all good step by step programmes, it all starts with you acknowledging that you have a problem.
Eleven great hidden things Google can do that you should know
http://www.smashingapps.com/2009/01/13/11-great-hidden-things – "Google.com is not only for searching the stuffs. In addition to providing easy access to billions of web pages, Google.com has many amazing features to help you to find exactly what you’re looking for. Some of the most useful features that you can use in your daily life are discussing below."
This is why we are fat
http://thisiswhyyourefat.com/ – I know that nothing's simple and few things are clear cut, but one reason why we're overweight has got to be the preponderance of high-calorie foods that probably weren't around quite as much a few decades ago. I mean, do we really have to first wrap the hot dog in cheese and then ground beef and then bacon before we can enjoy it? What about a deep-fried peanut butter-covered brownie wrapped in cookie dough? Don't forget to check out the archive for more beastly feasts (link at top of page).
Famous left-handers
www.indiana.edu/~primate/left.html – Here's a site for all you left-handers out there who feel bad because you're not as good as us right-handers. There are lots of famous south-paws listed under categories such as: U.S. Presidents, Politicos, Authors, Musicians, Artists, Actors, Athletes and Miscellaneous. I notice Ned Flanders is missing...

 

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Copyright laws cause for concern: During a recent re-run of a famous Simpsons' episode "Treehouse of Horror XI," I burst out laughing when, in the opening montage of various horror spoofs, Lisa Simpson walks out the door of the family home dressed as Marilyn Munster with a book on Copyright Law tucked under her arm. Shortly thereafter, a vigilante mob descends on the family and slays them all, except for Lisa who escapes. I had no idea intellectual property protection extended to immunity from death-by-pitchfork from unruly mobs! Click here for more.

Government deletes $340m broadband initiative: A $340 million Broadband Investment Fund (BIF) established by the Labour government has been axed, the Government announced today. Click here for more.

New Zealand bolts net filtering regime into place: If you thought that net filtering and grandiose firewalls were the exclusive preserve of West Island (or "Australia", as the locals like to call it), think again. New Zealand is showing that it, too, is ready to play its part in the great Antipodean censorship stakes. Click here for more.

Draft copyright code disputed by both sides: A draft ISP Copyright Code of Practice, aimed at clarifying sanctions against illicit downloaders of copyright works, has been released for public comment – and internet industry sources are already critical of the effort. Click here for more.

Internet law change 'unjust' :Their mouths may have been taped shut but the protest message rang clear a call for the Government to remove or delay "unjust" changes to internet copyright laws. Click here for more.

Pressure on to spell out broadband plans: Communications Minister Steven Joyce is under pressure to reveal details of the Government's $1.5 billion broadband network scheme which promises to take super-fast fibre optic internet direct to homes. Click here for more.

Fairfax Media fights Conficker worm: Fairfax Media is fighting a Conficker infection that it says is causing intermittent problems around all divisions. Click here for more.

General

Suffering password fatigue?: There is a common strain of amnesia floating around the desks of those sun-kissed and briefly stress-free workers fresh from summer holidays. Frequently this affliction causes normal, intelligent employees to lose all grasp of their faculties when confronted with a password prompt screen on the first day back at work. They simply cannot remember their passwords and they have to call a helpdesk to reset them. Click here for more.

Google users get bogus warning on site searches: Computer users doing Google searches during a nearly one-hour period over the weekend were greeted with disturbing but erroneous messages that every site turned up in the results might be harmful. Click here for more.

Microsoft steps up browser battle: Microsoft has stepped up the battle to win back users with the latest release of its Internet Explorer browser. The US software giant says IE 8 is faster, easier to use and more secure than its competitors. Click here for more.

Spammers Working to Regain Lost Ground: Spam levels, which fell sharply when botnet host McColo was taken down in November, will bounce back to pre-McColo levels by the end of January, according to Google's Adam Swidler. Click here for more.

Editorial row engulfs Wikipedia: The online user-generated encyclopaedia Wikipedia is considering a radical change to how it is run. It is proposing a review of the rules, that would see revisions being approved before they were added to the site. Click here for more.

Internet Crosses the Billion-User Mark: In December, the total global Internet audience surpassed one billion users, according to Internet traffic measurement firm comScore (NASDAQ: SCOR). In a new report, the research firm said that the Asia-Pacific region continues to claim the lion's share, accounting for 41 percent of Internet users worldwide – about 416 million. Click here for more.

90,000 sex offenders axed in MySpace clean-up: About 90,000 sex offenders have been identified and removed from the social networking website MySpace, company and law enforcement officials said today. Click here for more.

It's raining romantic men online: Sydney's single women looking for love this Valentines Day should take heart – the man drought may turn out to be a flood – well, online at least. Click here for more.

Facebook murder suspect found dead: Greater Manchester Police who warned female users of Facebook not to contact a man suspected of murdering his ex-girlfriend have discovered a body, which they believe to be his, in a derelict building in London. Click here for more.

Do you speak geek?: For n00bs, internet chat can often be snarky and sometimes downright leet. If you're feeling confused, it's time to learn the lingo. Click here for more.

Judge dismisses Google lawsuit : A couple who sued Google for including pictures of their home in the Street View programme have their case thrown out. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Security software or protection racket?: Symantec and McAfee pay software makers to install free trial versions of their suites on computers subsidising the cost of new computers in the knowledge that most consumers and small businesses will be reluctant or technically unable to uninstall the software and shop around once their initial subscription expires. Click here for more.

I got scammed online: It began with an email. One new message. It ended in despair. Sitting in the office, the email came from a mate. One of my most trusted friends. The day was slow. Everywhere bad news. Click here for more.

Cybercrime threat rising sharply: The threat of cybercrime is rising sharply, experts have warned at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Online theft costs $1 trillion a year, the number of attacks is rising sharply and too many people do not know how to protect themselves, they said. Click here for more.

Does Your Browser Prevent Clickjacking?: Last year, no one even knew what Clickjacking was. Today, browsers claim to prevent it. Does it work? Click here for more.

Online Trust: A Thing of the Past?: "The wages of piracy are death," said my friend Jim, brandishing a totally illegal Armalite rifle, instantly frightening the Chinese bartender into a state of paralysis. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Microsoft bounty for worm creator: A reward of $250,000 (£172,000) has been offered by Microsoft to find who is behind the Downadup/Conficker virus. Click here for more.

Mac the News

Mac malware warning: Malware attacks are turning the Web upside down, and complicating the efforts of security vendors and users to cope with the threats. Click here for more.

Black Hat: Macs Under Attack?: A security researcher says a new vulnerability could pose danger to Macs and iPhones. But we're still waiting for the proof. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Doh, a deer: Google Map's mea culpa: Google has 'fessed up to an accident involving one of its cars and a deer - an incident that was captured by the car's special camera and later included on the Street View feature on Google Maps. Click here for more.

Google Street View's dunny relief: Google has swiftly yanked an image from its mapping service showing a man sitting on his outhouse dunny in an inner-city Melbourne backyard. Click here for more.

Swiss police bust dope farmers with Google Earth: Swiss police said they stumbled across a large marijuana plantation while using Google Earth, the search engine company's satellite mapping software. Click here for more.

Kiwi blokes logging on to PMS: Kiwi blokes who fear their partner's hormonal hissy-fits are keeping tabs on their "time of the month" with online reminders. About 10,000 New Zealanders have signed up to American site PMSBuddy.com, which sends email warnings when Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is due to hit. Click here for more.

Marriage end 'posted on Facebook': A woman found out her six-year marriage was over when her husband posted it on the internet, a court heard. Emma Brady, 35, said she learnt of the divorce when her spouse changed his Facebook status to read: "Neil Brady has ended his marriage to Emma Brady." Click here for more.

Laugh or cry when dating online: Rachel Goodchild interviewed hundreds of New Zealand internet daters while researching Eighty-Eight Dates. Their best yarns are sprinkled through the book and five are extracted here. 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.

'How I lured paedophiles online': How do paedophiles operate on the net? In our weekly Real Time series, Rachel O'Connell tells how she posed as a chatroom child. Click here for more.

Clinton's gift to Internet age: only 2 e-mails: The archives of the Bill Clinton presidential library will contain 39,999,998 e-mails by the former president's staff and two by the man himself. "The only two he sent," Skip Rutherford, president of the Clinton Presidential Foundation, which is raising money for the library, said on Monday. Click here for more.

Gates forecasts victory over spam: Spam will be a thing of the past in two years' time, Microsoft boss Bill Gates has promised. Spammers – senders of bulk e-mail that mostly offers dubious products or pornography – were innovative, he said. Click here for more.

Bringing it all back home

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

Take care through March and see you next month!

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

 

Copyright © 2009 Actrix Networks Limited | Contact: editor@actrix.co.nz