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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 February Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the February 2011 Actrix Online Informer. We hope 2011 has gotten off to a swinging start for you. Thanks to all those who took the time to write in with their best wishes over Christmas. It's good to hear positive feedback and that you're pleased with the services we offer. We may not be the biggest ISP in New Zealand. We'd rather concentrate on being the best, so your feedback, both positive and negative, is always welcome.

This month's featured YouTube video is called My blackberry is not working. It's a fruity sketch starring Ronnie Corbett and Harry Enfield that makes fun of our current technological world. There is a little of the usual "British humour" if you know what I mean. By the way, Orange, is a popular cell phone company in the UK and Europe.

Rob Zorn

 

Putting your computer on a diet

by Rob Zorn

The new year has been chugging along for a few weeks now, and chances are, like me, you're struggling to keep your New Year's resolutions. After a bit too much Christmas cake and bubbles many of us have promised ourselves we'll save more money, lose weight, drink less or give up smoking in the year ahead, which is always easier said then done. However, when it comes to helping your computer lose weight, it could be simpler than you think.

By removing some of the electronic gubbins that builds up as a result of being online, you could speed up your machine's performance and put off that inevitable crash. This month we're going to look at how you can clean out your computer by archiving old email messages, removing temporary internet files, and using online storage.

Archiving your emails

If you use Microsoft Outlook for managing your email, archiving your old emails is a great way to clear up space and boost performance. While each email may only take up a very small amount of space, they quickly add up, so archiving them to personal folders on your computer is a good way to get some room back.

Archiving your emails is a very simple process, and you can even set Outlook automatically to archive your emails after they've been sitting there for a certain amount of time. When you archive your emails, you remove them from Outlook and store them on your computer in what is called a .pst file, or a Personal Storage Table. This not only clears up space, but is also a great way to back up your important emails.

Whenever needed, the .pst files can be turned back into emails again.

There are numerous online tutorials on how to archive your emails, but one of the better ones is Microsoft Office’s own Outlook tutorial.

Don’t forget to set Outlook to automatically archive your old messages to save you the hassle of having to do it every time your inbox gets too full!

Removing temporary internet files

Every time you browse the internet, your computer picks up and stores a number of files that you probably don't think much about. Every page you visit is actually downloaded to your machine, and when you move on to another page, not everything is deleted. Your browser also stores a lot of images and things from web pages you visit, mainly so that when you return those pages it can serve up the images etc, without having to download them again.

Another type of file your browser continually gathers is a cookie, which is a piece of text information that lets certain websites know you’ve visited them before. Cookies can hold information about your online preferences, authenticating your online identity, or storing the contents of an online shopping cart. All these files are stored in a temporary storage area on your computer called your browser cache.

There are a few ways you can delete your cookies and other files your web browser has stored on your computer, and modern browsers make it pretty easy.

In Firefox, for example, click Tools, and then click "Clear private history". This will let you tick boxes to clear your cache, remove all cookies, delete your history etc. You can even set what time period you want, from the last hour to "Everything". You can do something similar in Internet Explorer by clicking Tools/Delete browsing history, and in Opera by clicking Tools/Delete private data.

There are other ways to remove cookies and other temporary internet files, if your browser doesn't yet have these features. About Cookies is a site that shows you how to delete all cookies etc, no matter which browser or operating system you use. It also gives you a detailed run-down of what cookies really are, what they do, and the recent laws and legal debates about them. It even gives you a recipe for baking chocolate walnut cookies (the biscuit kind, not the computer kind).

Another way to remove cookies and other temporary internet files is by downloading a program to do it for you. Often these programs come with features to do all sorts of cool and interesting things to make your computer a little faster. One such program is Ccleaner (originally short from crap-cleaner), which is available for free from http://www.piriform.com/.  Ccleaner not only removes cookies, but can also delete your browser history and empty your recycle bin and system caches.

There are a whole bunch of other features that are definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately, Ccleaner only operates on Windows operating systems, but a similar program for those using Mac computers is called Onyx, and can be downloaded for free at: www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/system_disk_utilities/onyx.html.

We believe these programs are safe to use but, of course, you download and install anything off the Internet at your own risk.

Online storage

Experts agree, the fuller your hard drive gets, the slower and flakier your computer will become. A great way to reclaim some precious space on your hard drive is to invest in online storage. While you could fork-out some serious money for a portable hard-drive instead, there are a number of reasons why online storage is worth thinking about for those big files you seldom use but don't want to delete.

When stored on your computer or on a portable hard drive, your files and folders are susceptible to corruption and damage. Also, if you get burgled, break your computer or spill coffee into your portable hard drive, your important files could be irreversibly lost. By uploading your files to an online storage provider, you can be sure you’ll always have access to them no matter whose computer you're at, and there's no chance of accidentally corrupting your files. It's not that expensive. Many providers will give you five Gigabytes of space (which should be ample for most) for as little as NZ$7-8 a month.

TopTen Reviews has reviewed the major online storage providers and tested numerous aspects of their services, including security, price, support, and access, making it really easy to pick the one most suitable for you.

View this article on its own... 

How to check your personal Spam folder

Did you know you have your own personal Spam folder on our email server, and do you know how to check it?

As you're probably aware, every e-mail that passes through the Actrix mail servers is assessed by our spam filters for its likelihood of 'spammishness'. Each email is assigned a points value according to how many 'spammish' characteristics it has. This will put it into one of three categories. If it receives very few points, it is likely to be a legitimate e-mail and it is allowed through to your mailbox. If it receives enough points to make us think it is highly likely to be spam, it will get filtered off into each individual customer's Spam folder where it will remain for one week before being completely obliterated. If it receives enough points to make it definitely spam, it is simply killed on the spot by the filters.

We've put a lot of work into the spam filters and they almost always get it right. However, it is remotely possible that they might occasionally filter off a legitimate email to your Spam folder. So it does pay to check this once per week, especially if something you've been expecting hasn't arrived.

Checking your personal, individual Spam folder is easy. Go to the Actrix homepage at www.actrix.co.nz and log into My Actrix with your user name and password. Once inside, click on WebMail and Spam Folder. Once inside WebMail, you can click the link to your Spam folder over on the left-hand side. Use the WebMail Move tool to move it to your inbox, and it should download to your computer the next time you check your email.

Currently, one of the most common techniques spammers use to evade spam filters is to send you an image of some text rather than text itself. A filter can look for certain patterns in written words and catch spam more easily that way, but it doesn’t have a human brain, and can’t actually read a picture. Lots of legitimate e-mails also have pictures in them, so the spam filter errs on the side of caution and lets the picture through, and that's one reason you will probably still be receiving some spam. The spammers also change the size and name of the pictures they send very frequently so that filters can't learn to recognise them that way either.

Spammers also include random words of text in their e-mails. This reduces the ratio of known spam words in an e-mail making it harder for the filter to be sure. Because machines can't read and make sense of writing the way humans can, they can't tell sense from gibberish.

Want to know more? Check our Spam FAQ. It's a few years old now, but most of it's still relevant.

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!

Whenago
http://www.whenago.com/ – "The WhenAgo.com web site aims to provide quick, convenient and entertaining access to historical information about what happened in the past on a given day. It has been designed not only for the history enthusiasts but also people interested in movies, music, sport and many others tidbits."
Canterbury Quake Live
http://quake.crowe.co.nz/ – Thanks to O C Smith for sending this one in. The site's creator, Chris Crowe, says, "The GeoNet website provides visitors with basic information regarding the earthquake and aftershocks. My site takes a raw data feed from GeoNet and displays it in a more user-friendly format. We update from the GeoNet site every five minutes."
Text-to-speech
http://www.oddcast.com/home/demos/tts/tts_example.php?sitepal – I'd have to say this doesn't seem to work all that well, but it's an interesting concept. You type in some text and you can then choose to have it spoken to you in a variety of accents. This is the sort of thing that will probably work brilliantly in a few years' time and will have all sorts of wonderful uses.

Papers past
http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast – Papers Past is an easy-to-use National Library resource. It "contains more than one million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 61 publications from all regions of New Zealand."
Knoword
http://knoword.org – "Knoword is a game of quick thinking, smart decisions and great words. It focuses on teaching and advocating proper spelling habits, as well as good observational, analytical and typing skills. With its fast-paced, addictive gameplay and a competitive and comprehensive player ranking system , Knoword pushes the limits on contemporary puzzle games and provides its players with a truly rewarding experience."
33 entertaining 404 error pages
http://mashable.com/2011/01/16/funny-404-error-pages/ – 404s are those pages you often end up with when you mistype a web address or when a page no longer exists. "Landing on an error paging while surfing the Internet is usually an unpleasant experience, but some web designers add a bit of sunshine to the world with their quirky 404 error pages." Click the Play button to see them as a slideshow.
Snap
www.snap.org.nz – Snap is a website set up by the New Zealand Police that lets people register the serial numbers of valuable items so they can be easily accessed after a burglary. People buying second-hand computers and televisions can then check the serial numbers in the database to see if the items are stolen.
Interior Desecrations
www.lileks.com/institute/interiors/index.html – "Welcome to Interior Desecrations, a brutal examination of the unlovely, unattractive, unlivable and unforgivable homes of the 1970s. All eras have some bad taste, of course – but it took the 70s to make bad taste triumphant and universal. It took the 70s to convince everyone to stick foil wallpaper on the wall, paint the bathtub purple, smother the floors in shag so deep it tickled the tops of your ankles, and hang art that managed to clash with everything, including itself."
Quirkology
http://www.quirkology.com/UK/index.shtml – "Ever wondered how your surname has influenced your life? Or wished that you could tell if someone is lying? Professor Richard Wiseman has spent 20 years exploring the backwaters of the human mind and going to places where mainstream scientists fear to tread. The result is Quirkology." The site is designed to help sell his book, but you can still read about his interesting experiments by clicking "Experiments" in the menu.
Shakespearean Insulter
www.pangloss.com/seidel/Shaker/ – Most of us have probably heard of the Shakespearean insult generator, an online tool that insults you by combining Shakespearean phrases. This one, however, replicates the actual insults found in the plays, and tells you which play it's from. Wow, no one could write an insult like The Bard!

 

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Phishing scam nets drivers' licences: The New Zealand Transport Agency is offering to waive the fee for a replacement driver's licence for victims of an online phishing scam. Click here for more.

NZ websites being targeted by child porn peddlers: New Zealand is among 30 countries being targeted by child porn peddlers who are setting up links on business websites that click through to child abuse material. Click here for more.

Facebook users now in majority: More than half of New Zealanders have an online profile, half of those check it daily and one in 10 admits to being addicted to it. Click here for more.

Trade Me clients hit by scam: TradeMe customers are the victims of the latest online scam by fraudsters operating out of Russia. Click here for more.

Creator of 'best website in world' dies: Author, contrarian academic and web entrepreneur Denis Dutton died yesterday, aged 66. The professor of philosophy at Canterbury University had been diagnosed with prostate cancer but continued working until his health deteriorated quickly a week ago, his son Ben said. Click here for more.

Facebook friend now a foe: A Rotorua woman's Facebook whinge about wanting to leave work became an invitation to burgle for a "friend". Click here for more.

General

McDonald's reconsiders blocking gay websites : McDonald's will make a decision today about its internet filtering system after complaints of gay websites being blocked through the restaurants' new free Wi-Fi service. Click here for more.

Man quits job, sues spammers: Daniel Balsam hates spam. Most everybody does, of course. But he has acted on his hate as few have, going far beyond simply hitting the delete button. He sues them. Click here for more.

Queen's Facebook page littered with abuse: We are not amused. Just four days after its debut, the British Monarchy's Facebook page has been peppered with abusive comments, forcing the site's moderators to launch a deleting blitz. Click here for more.

Email marketing secrets: You know the feeling. Just as you click 'send' and dispatch an email to someone you want to impress, you feel a wave of regret because you have skewed some vital detail and cannot retrieve the messed-up message. Click here for more.

Lawyer turns spammer-hatred into income: Daniel Balsam hates spam. Most people do, of course. But he has acted on his hate as few have, going far beyond simply hitting the delete button. He sues them. Click here for more.

Cyber attacks could create 'perfect storm': Attacks on computer systems now have the potential to cause global catastrophe, but only in combination with another disaster, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said in a report. Click here for more.

Solving the web address dilemma (IPv6): There are just a few hundred million IP addresses left worldwide. Click here for more.

Thousands disconnected as floods sink telcos: Telecommunications networks in Queensland are being hammered by the floods, with several exchanges offline and more outages expected as back-up batteries run out in power-affected areas. Click here for more.

Wikipedia aims for diversity: As the encyclopaedia nears its 10th birthday on Saturday, its leaders are seeking a more diverse group of editors - specifically, women, people in developing countries and people with expertise in assorted disciplines. Click here for more.

JFK library to put all its records online: The presidential library commemorating the life of US President John F Kennedy is digitising every scrap of paper, video, audio and artefact it possesses. Click here for more.

Do Web users fear the digital Reaper?: When Jeremy Toeman set up Legacy Locker, an online service to handle people's digital assets when they die, his concept was widely hailed as a brilliant innovation that would become an overnight success story. Click here for more.

Email: 10 fascinating facts: You may use it everyday, but how much do you know about email? Do you know who sent the first message? What the biggest webmail provider is in the US? What about the most common Hotmail password? Click here for more.

Pope to Catholics online: It's not just about hits : Pope Benedict has told Catholic bloggers and Facebook and YouTube not to see their ultimate goal as getting as many online hits as possible. Click here for more.

World internet population hits two billion: The number of internet users worldwide has mushroomed to reach the two billion mark, the head of the UN's telecommunications agency, Hamadoun Toure, said. Click here for more.

Egypt quits net to stifle protest: Internet connections across Egypt appear to have been cut, as authorities there gear up for a day of mass protest. Click here for more.

Web surveys map global disease: Organisations are tracking millions of web searches in an attempt to predict global disease. Click here for more.

Social Media

Facebook denies shutdown rumour: Facebook has been forced to deny it is shutting down later this year, after a rumour of its demise shot around the world over the weekend. Click here for more.

Facebook's earnings revealed: Facebook earned US$355 million (NZ$470m) in net income in the first nine months of 2010 on revenue of US$1.2 billion (NZ$1.58b), according to documents that Goldman Sachs is providing to clients. Click here for more.

Website ranks most influential tweeters: Actor Ashton Kutcher has more than 5 million and when singer John Mayer closed his account his devotees numbered 3.7 million but having a huge following on Twitter is no guarantee of being influential. Click here for more.

Facebook stirs up new row with nursing mothers: Facebook has sparked a fresh row with nursing mothers by deleting a page for a breastfeeding support group followed by thousands. Click here for more.

Facebook investment 'values firm at $50bn': Facebook has reportedly raised funds from Goldman Sachs and a Russian investor in a deal valuing the social networking site at $50bn (£32.3bn). Click here for more.

Facebook worm spread via photo album chat lure: A new worm that spreads using a photo album chat message lure began proliferating across Facebook over the weekend. Click here for more.

Mum 'playing on Facebook' while baby died: A Colorado mother who told police her 13-month-old son drowned in the bathtub while she was playing a game on Facebook was charged last week with child abuse resulting in death. Click here for more.

Remove personal details from Facebook: expert: A security expert is warning users of Facebook to remove their home address and mobile phone number from their profile as the website now gives third parties access to that information. Click here for more.

Facebook doesn't rule the world - yet: You sometimes hear Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg talking of his noble ambition to "connect the world", as if there are parts of the globe full of withdrawn folk who are unable to form relationships and are waiting for him to ride to their rescue with photo sharing, instant messaging and interminable games of Farmville. Click here for more.

Twitter is full of regional 'accents': The language Americans use on Twitter can indicate where in the country they're living, researchers have found. Click here for more.

Facebook's death: Greatly exaggerated: It seems hard to even fathom that anybody would believe this, but the internet has been buzzing with stories alleging that on 15 March Mark Zuckerberg is going to give it all up and shut down Facebook. Click here for more.

Facebook the new fast track to divorce courts: While Facebook's social network has undoubtedly changed lives and opened doors, married couples are discovering it can also lead to private detectives and divorce lawyers. Click here for more.

Self-destructive twits: Used cleverly, social-media phenomenon Twitter is a powerful networking tool helping to teach a generation of technophiles to be succinct. In the hands of twits, however, it can be a - sometimes hilariously - destructive force. Click here for more.

Facebook 'like' clicks to turn into paid advert: Facebook users who check in to a store or click the "like" button for a brand may soon find those actions retransmitted on their friends' pages as a "Sponsored Story" paid for by advertisers. Click here for more.

Facebook friend now a foe: A Rotorua woman's Facebook whinge about wanting to leave work became an invitation to burgle for a "friend". Click here for more.

Hackers and hippies: The origins of social networking: People that have been to see last year's blockbuster The Social Network, could be forgiven for thinking that the rise of sites like Facebook started just a few years ago. But to find the true origins of social networking you have to go further back than 2004. Click here for more.

Pitfalls emerge as social media takes off: Promoting a business on social media is attractive because the up front costs are lower than traditional forms of advertising, but it is a competitive environment as businesses jostle for brand awareness and an engaged community of fans and followers. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Probe into net directory for stalkers: A website that allows stalkers to look up the names and addresses attached to landline and mobile numbers is being investigated by Australian privacy and communications watchdogs. Click here for more.

Don't lose yourself to identity theft: If the idea of someone sorting through your garbage bin looking for old telephone bills, tax information, car registration forms or anything else with your personal details sounds fanciful, then think again. Click here for more.

Internet the new face of warfare?: A new Air Force manual for cyberwarfare describes a shadowy, fast-changing world where anonymous enemies can carry out devastating attacks in seconds and where conventional ideas about time and space don't apply. Click here for more.

Risks of cyber war 'over-hyped': The vast majority of hi-tech attacks described as acts of cyber war do not deserve the name, says a report. Click here for more.

Global computer virus scam busted: Computer hackers in eastern Europe who used computer viruses to steal usernames and passwords teamed up with associates who opened bank accounts in the US to snatch at least US$3 million ($4.1 million) from American bank accounts, authorities said Thursday in announcing charges against more than 60 people. Click here for more.

Israel tested Stuxnet on Iran, with US help: report: US and Israeli intelligence services collaborated to develop a destructive computer worm to sabotage Iran's efforts to make a nuclear bomb, The New York Times reported on Sunday. Click here for more.

Firefox, Chrome adding 'Do Not Track' tools : The Firefox and Google Chrome browsers are getting tools to help users block advertisers from collecting information about them. Click here for more.

Cybercrooks selling stolen credit cards for just $2: Cyber criminals are selling stolen credit card details for as little as US$2 each and renting computer networks for spam for $15 as part of a vast online black market, according to a new report. Click here for more.

Internet providers are the new secret police, says report: More and more European Union member states are delegating online policing to private companies and Internet service providers, according to a report released Wednesday. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Aussie inventor takes on Microsoft: Ric Richardson, the "man in a van" battling Microsoft in a patent suit worth hundreds of millions of dollars, has something to be excited about after an appeals court ruled in his favour. Click here for more.

Firefox grabs lead in Europe: Mozilla's Firefox browser has overtaken Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the leader in Europe, the first time Microsoft's browser has lost its top spot in a major market, a web analytics firm StatCounter said. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Online media empire built on funny cat photos: Boredom and funny cat photos were catalysts for Ben Huh to create one of the Web's fastest-growing media companies. Click here for more.

Female tech influencers and their... hairstyles?: The most notable women in technology probably don't spend all day thinking about hairstyles and dinner parties. But according to a bright pink infographic making its way around the web, you can tell a lot about some of the world's most tech-savvy women based on their hairdos and extracurriculars 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.

Detroit spammer faces slammer: Two years plus for penis pill merchant. Click here for more.

Blackmailers target $1m website: Mr Tew's encounter with the net criminals began on 7 January when he received an e-mail threatening to bombard the site with data unless he paid a ransom of $5,000 (£2,800). Click here for more.

New worm relies on old trick: "There are a lot of people who are going to be very unhappy on the third of February," said Professor Merrick Furst from the Georgia Tech College of Computing. That's when the Kama Sutra computer worm will begin destroying critical files on infected computers. . Click here for more.

Scams 'dupe millions in Britain': As many as five million people may have been lured into responding to con artists, according to new research. Click here for more.

Man sues over chatroom humiliation: An Ohio man who claims that he was humiliated by two other participants in an AOL chatroom has sued the two men for causing emotional distress and the ISP for failing to stop the alleged abuse, according to a report from Law.com. Click here for more.

Terry Schiavo's hospital gown appears on eBay: Terry Schiavo's hospital gown is no longer available on eBay. That took about 15 minutes. 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 February!

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

 

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