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.
Welcome to the March Actrix Online Informer
Welcome to the March 2011 Actrix Online Informer.
The staff at Actrix are deeply saddened by recent events in Christchurch. Our sympathy and concern goes out to those who have lost loved ones, and those who have been traumatised or injured. We admire the wonderful efforts of the rescue crews and everyone working to care for and support those around them.
We are disappointed to hear of scammers taking advantage of people willing to donate online in a crisis. Please be careful and only donate to organisations that you are confident are legitimate such as Red Cross, The Salvation Army or Ngāi Tahu.
A special thank you to those customers of ours who are also members of Consumer NZ and took the time to give us good review. Read about the Consumer NZ ISP survey results below.
This month's featured YouTube video is actually three videos. Most of us would have seen the All Blacks showing off their skills. We've probably heard about the Warratahs making fun of them like the good sports they are. I suspect that at least one of the previous videos benefitted fro some electronic enhancement, but this is probably not so for the Newlands Boys who showed some pretty awesome ball skills of their own. And they've got some great advice about what Brian McKechnie should have done facing that underarm bowl. Good on ya, boys!
Thanks also to all those who wrote in after last month's main story about putting your computer on a diet, suggesting that CCleaner, a program recommended in the article, is not free. A closer examination of the download site confirms that CCleaner is in fact free. However, there is a button there tempting you to click on a $24.95 option for extra online support. This button, probably by design, looks like an amount you have to pay before you can download, but it isn't. You can ignore that button and go ahead and download the program for free. Apologies to those who were misled; I should have been clearer.
The new Internet Explorer 9
by Rob Zorn
As early as 2003, Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) had become established as the world’s number one choice of web-browser with 87 percent of all internet users using it to surf. However, the rapid rise of other browsers about that time (such as Firefox and Opera) forced Internet Explorer into a race that commonly became known as "Browser Wars".
Browsers became pitted against one other; trading blows with upgrades and features that claimed to have more than the rest. One gets the feeling that at that time, Microsoft didn't take the threat seriously enough, and Internet Explorer’s popularity began to fade as other browsers started offering more features and better speed. It's popularity finally dropped to less than a 50 percent market share in 2008.
Even IE7 (2007) and IE8, launched in 2009, did little to claw back Microsoft's market dominance. The smaller browsers had been copying all the best features from each other, and though these versions of IE included most of the neat things the others were doing (like tabbed browsing and built in search bars) they just didn’t have enough to make them stand out from the crowd.
However, last month saw the pre-release of IE9, and things may be about to change. Lance Ulanoff, Editor-in-Chief of PCMag.com, had looked closely at IE8 and was of the opinion that Internet Explorer’s time as the number one web browser was up. Then, when given the chance to review IE9, all he could say was "Oh, the game is on!"
What’s new with IE9?
IE9 not only brings new features to the browser table, like a slick new space-saving interface, it also offers a fine-tuned selection of some of the best features other browsers have offered. The main aspects IE9 addresses are speed and privacy, two commodities that are becoming increasingly important in the world of browsing.
In terms of speed, Microsoft says IE9 has a streamlined design that "emphasises aesthetic simplicity without taking away from its functionality". This is a good thing. My experience with IE has been that it is just "too big", loaded with features I never wanted and slower to load and operate as a result. Other browsers like Opera and Firefox seemed much nippier and less prone to stall. But by default IE now offers you the basics you need to surf the net, and gives you the option of customising your browser with extras depending on your personal preferences. Its Add-on Performance Advisor shows which third party add-ons may be slowing down performance and then lets you to disable or remove them.
It also offers a few features that allow you to complete your online activities a little faster, such as being able to search in the navigation bar and pin your favourite sites directly to your desktop.
In terms of security, IE9 offers advanced tracking protection. When you're surfing the web, many sites attempt to track your activity as you travel from one site to the next. By doing so, they know the types of products you buy and the videos you watch, so they know what kind of ads to throw at you. IE9 lets you make a Tracking Protection List which allows you to limit the amount of communication that goes on between your browser and these types of sites.
Finally, IE9 also offers users a Download Manager which keeps a running list of the files you are downloading from the internet. Other browsers have had this useful feature for a long time while, with IE, you often didn't know what was happening with your downloads or where they had gone. The Download Manager has built-in protection software which alerts you if a file you’re attempting to download has the potential to cause your computer harm. Good feature!
Is there any bad news?
Unfortunately, IE9 will only run on Windows 7 or Vista, not on XP or previous versions of Windows, and, of course, it is still not compatible with Mac computers. Users have also reported problems trying to make the transition from other web-browsers to IE9, claiming its simplicity makes it impractical. I guess for some the bells and whistles of modern browsers are catching on!
The other thing is that if you're not an IE user, any features that are really great will soon turn up in Firefox, Opera, Chrome, or whatever is your browser of choice. "Browser Wars" has literally become a case of “anything you can do, I can do better.” The browser to have released the latest upgrade may seem to pull ahead temporarily, but the others will soon follow.
However, it appears the sleeping giant has awoken and Microsoft is actively pursuing its dominant position once again. That can only be good for competition, and for all browsers in the end.
The official release date for IE9 has not yet been announced but it probably isn't far away. Modern computers running Windows Vista or 7 should automatically download and install it when it comes out, or you'll be able to download it from the Microsoft website. In the meantime, a test version, which has already been downloaded over 27 million times, is available at http://windows.microsoft.com/ie9.
Actrix tops Consumer NZ internet providers survey again!
For the second year running, Actrix has been rated by Consumer NZ as the country's best Internet Service Provider!
More than 12,000 Consumer NZ members rated their ISPs for overall performance, customer service and connection problems. Actrix has been among the top performers since 2006. This year 98 percent of our customers, who responded to the survey, rated our overall performance as good or very good.
Actrix was the only provider to have both fewer-than-average problems and better-than-average service in every category. Our customers were also among those who reported the least problems with disconnections, dropouts, slower-than-expected speeds and unexpected charges for excess usage.
Our management and staff put a lot of time and effort into making sure our products and services are the best they can be and, once again, we're chuffed to have had that hard work recognised.
However, if you're not completely satisfied with the service you receive from Actrix please let us know. We always appreciate knowing what we are doing well (or maybe not so well), so feel free to give us a call on 0800 228-749 or E-mail email@example.com.
One interestingly aside to come out of the Consumer NZ survey was that less than 4 percent of this year's respondents used dial-up, compared with 50 percent in 2005. The numbers on dial-up may not reduce much further; many say they can't get ADSL broadband and other options like satellite are either unavailable or too expensive.
Please note: Actrix supplies links to these sites for your interest and possible use. We cannot endorse or take any responsibility for their contents.
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Cyberspace news snippets
What's been happening in the online world?
Thinking about the what-ifs: Blog: As our building started shaking violently, I dove under my desk. Click here for more.
Quake donation scam surfaces: The Ministry of Consumer Affairs says scammers are using the Christchurch earthquake to take advantage of the good will of New Zealanders. Click here for more.
Iwi's broadband plan: A collection of Northland-based Maori have joined forces to build the first iwi-run broadband network. Click here for more.
Rural broadband has to be done 'properly': Quit the grizzling about who might build the $280 million rural broadband network and let's just get on with it, farmers say. Click here for more.
Inflight mobile, internet too high for mass appeal: Air New Zealand's launch of inflight mobile and internet services is unlikely to herald a flood of passengers surfing the web or chatting on their phones while in the air while charges remain sky high, analysts say. Click here for more.
Online aid to untying knot: Two Christchurch men are launching a new service for divorcing couples – on Valentines Day. Click here for more.
Kiwi online shoppers' details stolen: As many as 9000 New Zealanders may have had their credit card and personal details stolen after the Lush cosmetics website was hacked. Click here for more.
Trade Me stops Rugby World Cup scalpers: The Trade Me auction website has stepped in to stop people from selling Rugby World Cup tickets online for profit. Click here for more.
Police called in after cyber rage incident: Police were called when an "aggro" seller on internet auction site Trade Me threatened a potential buyer. Click here for more.
Parents take revenge on cyber bullies: More parents are becoming involved in cyber-bullying, taking up disputes involving their children, a federal parliamentary committee has been told. Click here for more.
It's official - internet addresses have dried up: Thirty years after the first Internet addresses were created, the supply of addresses officially ran dry on Thursday. Click here for more.
'Googleganger' is word of the year: Have you ever Googled your name and come up with a Canadian porn star, a Chilean accountant and a Scottish chicken farmer? And none of them was you? These people are your googlegangers Click here for more.
WikiLeaks nominated for Nobel Prize: A Norwegian lawmaker has nominated WikiLeaks for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, saying that its disclosures promote world peace by holding governments accountable for their actions. A Nobel prize expert says a win for the whistleblower is unlikely. Click here for more.
International recognition for Queensland cyberheroes: The team of Queensland police responsible for saving more than 60 children from sexual exploitation around the world has been recognised for breaking an international cabal of paedophiles, once considered untouchable in the secretive world of cybercrime. Click here for more.
Alarm sounded over Dr Google's diagnosis: Doctors are warning of catastrophic consequences after new research revealed four in five Australians are turning to the web for health information and nearly half of those are using Dr Google to make a self-diagnosis. Click here for more.
Street View puts world's best galleries online: Art lovers will be able to stroll through some of the world's most famous galleries at the click of a mouse after Google launched a website using Street View technology to put the venues online. Click here for more.
Are governments closing the net around web freedom?: While the internet in Egypt has been re-established, the decision to cut off mobile and web networks was near-unprecedented. Does this mean that the "democracy" and "freedom" so often talked about in relation to the internet is under threat? Click here for more.
HTML: A standard without boundaries?: Neil McAllister looks at what recent moves mean for developers. Click here for more.
Googling for the perfect juror: When picking a jury, lawyers always try to stack the panel with people likely to take their side. Now, some are taking the vetting process to a new level: they're quietly trawling social networks and other sites to ferret out the most intimate details of potential jurors' lives, from their sexual orientation to their income level and politics. Click here for more.
Accused win battle to delete web history: Australian newspapers have been ordered to remove old articles from their websites after a court ruled they might interfere with a fair trial. Click here for more.
The curse of spam: Several readers have written in, asking what they can do about spam. Sadly, the answer is not much. Spam is one of those modern-day inconveniences that we are just going to have to live with. Click here for more.
Radiohead surprises fans with early online album release: Radiohead has once again broken music industry convention, this time by releasing digital versions of its eagerly awaited studio album a day earlier than promised. Click here for more.
Is the internet changing us?: The internet has transformed society but now some experts claim it has changed our personalities, making us grandiose and impulsive. Click here for more.
Which Zuckerberg is Facebook's father?: Mark Zuckerberg's dad has proclaimed himself the "Father of Facebook" in a postal campaign to boost the client list of his small-town dental practice in the US. Click here for more.
Man jailed for Facebook curse : Nigerian police say a man was jailed after making a Facebook comment that put a curse on a governor in northern Nigeria. Click here for more.
Zuckerberg friends Facebook movie star: he Oscar-nominated movie The Social Network paints an unflattering portrait of Mark Zuckerberg but the Facebook founder apparently doesn't hold a grudge. Click here for more.
No Facebook friends for Obama girls: Michelle Obama says her daughters aren't on Facebook, and that's the way she likes it. Click here for more.
Facebook, Google size up Twitter takeover: Google Inc and Facebook Inc, plus others, have held low level takeover talks with Twitter that give the internet sensation a value as high as US$10 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported. Click here for more.
Should spies spend more time on Twitter?: With unrest and chaos apparently having taken Egypt's rulers and Western states by surprise, governments and spies are increasingly looking to social media like Twitter to detect political threats in advance. Click here for more.
Call to make Facebook R18: The mother of a 14-year-old girl at the centre of an Australian "sexting" scandal has called for Facebook to be banned for under-18s. Click here for more.
Facebook launches pages redesign: Facebook has begun rolling out a full redesign of Facebook Pages. The changes will make the Pages look and operate more like user profiles. Click here for more.
Japan may send tweet-bot to space: Lonely astronauts on the International Space Station may soon be getting an android friend from Japan -and for the folks back home, it will tweet. Click here for more.
Facebook 'civil union' option applauded: Gay users have welcomed Facebook's addition of civil unions and domestic partnerships. Click here for more.
US teen hires hit-man on Facebook: A teenager faces 11 to 22 years in prison after agreeing to a plea agreement on charges he used Facebook to try to hire a hit man to kill a woman who had accused him of rape. Click here for more.
Ten memorable Twitter rants: "All the world's a stage." When William Shakespeare penned that famous phrase back in the early 1600s, it's a fair assumption he never had something like Twitter in mind. Click here for more.
Facebook 'friends' cause stress, research finds: People with the most Facebook "friends" are more likely to feel stressed out by the site, according to researchers. Click here for more.
Security and Safety
Internet Explorer users exposed to hackers : Microsoft has issued a global warning that there is a security hole in Internet Explorer that allows hackers to install malicious scripts. Click here for more.
Kournikova worm turns 10: Friday, 11 February, marked the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of the Anna Kournikova worm. The malware spread by tricking users into opening a mail message that supposedly contained a picture of the famous Russian tennis beauty. In reality, the malware harvested a victim's Outlook address book, forwarding fresh copies of itself to every contact it found there. Click here for more.
UK cyber crime costs £27bn a year – government report: The figures, published for the first time, are a mid-range estimate and the real cost could be much higher. Click here for more.
Google accuses Microsoft of stealing: Google is accusing Microsoft of cheating as the two duel for internet search supremacy, but Microsoft denies the charge, saying it's just using all the tools avail able to lessen its rival's dominance. Click here for more.
The Weird, Wide Web
Public servant sacked for Googling 'knockers': How much privacy does an employee have when using a work laptop at home? 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.
NZ second biggest web user in world: New Zealanders are the second-biggest users of the internet in the world despite poor broadband uptake, new statistics show. Click here for more.
Study shows one in eight gets offensive emails: The scale of harassment over the internet has been revealed for the first time by an official study in the UK. Click here for more.
OFT warns of online dating scams: In fact, once these cads and cadesses hook their victim, they then start asking for cash (so, a bit like marriage, ed). Click here for more.
Zombie PCs growing quickly online: Most zombies are recruited by viruses and trojans. Some of these backdoors into computers are installed if users visit the wrong website in so-called drive-by downloads but many are e-mailed and rely on naive users opening infected attachments. Click here for more.
Web suicide pacts sweep Japan: The number of Japanese people who killed themselves after making suicide pacts forged over the internet almost doubled last year. 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).
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