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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 August Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the August 2011 Actrix Online Informer. It's August, which means spring is just a month away!

I hope you'll find something of interest this time around. We're continuing our theme from last month with another article on online collaboration. May sound complicated to some people, but the purpose of these articles is to show just how easy it actually is to use the Internet to make life easier and enhance your productivity. PBWorks is something just about anybody could use.

Last month we also featured a short piece on a common phone scam here in New Zealand, and more can be read about that this month in the Security and Safety section of Cyberspace News Snippets. If these guys haven't called you yet, chances are they will.

YouTube feature

I have two videos to feature this month. I couldn't decide between them so here they both are. Each is from one of those America's Got Talent type shows, which I would probably watch more often if they always had stuff like this. The first is of a 12-year-old girl yodelling her heart out. The second is two young girls who put an interesting spin on Take Me Out to the Ball Game. I laughed out loud at this last one, which doesn't necessarily guarantee you will. Don't watch it if you're big on manners.

Rob Zorn

 

Peanut butter wikis

by Rob Zorn

Last month we did a comparison between Google Docs and Microsoft’s Office Web, both of which allow users to create and share documents online. Both are great tools allowing committees, groups, or business staff to work together in a shared environment.

This month we’re going to have a look at another great, free service that’s easy to use for people wanting to collaborate online: PBWorks.

PBWorks is an online wiki service. Basically, it allows you to create a wiki – which is a place where members of a group can log in, upload documents, discuss those documents (or anything else they need to talk about) create web pages about topics of interest and so forth. Members can log in and make changes and additions or just download the documents they need – such as the latest meeting minutes that have been uploaded in Word.

No special web programming skills are needed.

Creating a PBWorks wiki is supposed to be as easy as creating a peanut butter sandwich, which is where the PB comes from in their name.

The person setting up the wiki just needs to create a free account at http://pbworks.com. Click the Log in button to get started and this will give you the opportunity to create a new account. During this process you can give your wiki a name which will become part of your wiki’s new web address. For example, you could choose a name like nzonlinetalkers, and your web address would become http://nzonlinetalkers.pbworks.com.

During the set up process you can decide whether your wiki will be visible to anyone coming to that address, or you can restrict it so that only people you invite and approve can see it. Another alternative is to set it up so anyone in the world can read it, but only members can log in and make changes or upload documents, etc.

Creating users

The person setting up the wiki becomes the administrator and when they invite others to join, those others can be assigned one of a number of levels of access. They can be set to be administrators with the same powers to create and delete pages, invite other users, etc, as the person setting up the wiki, they can be set to have access only to upload stuff, or they can be given read only access – meaning they can see what’s there but are unable to change it.

PBWorks has an “Invite Users” tool which lets you enter the email address of someone you want to invite to join. The system automatically sends them an email with very simple instructions about how to create their own account at your new wiki. There’s also a “Request access” feature which allows visitors to the wiki to send the administrator an automatic email asking to join. The administrator can then decide whether to let that person take part or not.

Creating pages

The administrator can edit the home page of the wiki. This is the page visitors will see, or users will land at when they log in. The home page could explain what the wiki is about or it could contain simple instructions for new users. It’s easy to do, and works pretty much like Word or any other word processor.

Each page comes with a View or Edit button. Click Edit, and type in your content. Use the tools to set the colours and sizes of headings and text, insert tables, make hyperlinks etc. If you do know a little HTML, there’s also a button allowing you to access the code directly but, as stated earlier, no special skills are needed to edit pages.

Any number of new pages can be created by clicking the Pages & Files button. For example you could create an “About Us” page, “Latest News”, “Our Constitution” or whatever. Pages created get automatically added to a Navigator pane on the right of the home page which makes it really easy for users to find them.

Various themes and colour schemes are available too, which means you can change the look and feel of your wiki with a few simple mouse clicks.

Discussion

Each page has a comments feature at the bottom of it allowing users who visit the page to share their thoughts about that page. This feature could really save your group some meeting time. You could upload a new idea to a page and invite members to comment on it. You could also use it to ask and answer questions like “Does anyone remember what we decided to do about such and such at our last meeting?”

Each time someone adds a discussion item or contributes, an email automatically gets sent to all the members so they know a discussion is going on that they may want to take part in. This also happens when new pages are created or content is changed. When a user sets up their account to take part, they can set how often they want to receive these emails ranging from every time something happens – to just one email once a week containing all the changes.

The frequency of these emails can also be changed later under their personal settings.

Uploading documents to share

The “Pages & Files” tab also provides the ability to create new folders in much the same way as you would on your hard drive at home. For example you could create one called Minutes, and upload your minutes there as Word documents. That way users could simply download them (which means you don’t have to send them around to everyone by email) and they would always have access to past copies. Similar folders could be created for other categories of documents, or for documents relating to particular sub-committees or whatever.

A folder for images might be a good idea too. For example, you could invite everyone who took photos at the last conference to upload them there. People interested in the photos could go and see them, and those not interested wouldn’t have to. This is much better than sending heaps of photos around by email to people who may or may not want to go to the trouble of having to download them all. Each free PBWorks wiki comes with two Gigabytes of storage space, which is a fair bit, and I know of people who have created wikis just for themselves as individuals so they can upload documents to them as a form of free online backing up – or as a way to send someone a large file without having to use email.

These are just some of the ways a PBWorks wiki could help your group, but it is just the beginning. If it looks like something you could use I would encourage you to make a peanut butter sandwich, set yourself up a free account and have a bit of a play.

There’s lots more to learn, and PBWorks has made it pretty easy. Lots of people with limited computer and internet skills use them every day, and once you make a start, things start to fall into place pretty quickly. And, of course, PBWorks would love you to spend money with them and upgrade to a premium account which has some pretty whiz-bang extra features, but for most of us just wanting a better way to collaborate as a group online, the free accounts will do nicely.

http://pbworks.com/content/personal+features is a good place to start.

View this article on its own...

Looking to move to broadband?

If you're considering the change from Dial-up to broadband, there are a few things you will need to think about first.

1. Choosing a plan

Actrix offers many different broadband plans that cater to both residential and business customers alike; it's simply a matter of finding a plan that suits your needs best.

The basic broadband plan is $32.95 per month (when bundled with Actrix Tolls) which gives you full speed download & 128kb upload (more than 20x faster than dialup) with 3GB per month to use before the speed is reduced (excess usage fees are optional). 3GB is a fair bit if you just do light web surfing and email. It's also an ideal starting point for those unsure which plan to select.

On the other hand if you're the type of person who likes to download a lot of music or movies, or play a lot of games online, then there are a variety of plans that have faster upload speeds, feature larger traffic allowances, include additional benefits, or all of the above. The full range of plans can be found here.

You may notice that the monthly broadband costs mentioned on our website include a discount for subscribing to Actrix Tolls as well. What this means is that if you decide to sign up for Actrix Tolls we'll give you a $10.00 discount on your normal monthly broadband cost, plus you also get to take advantage of our great toll calling prices. More information on Actrix Tolls can be found here.

2. Transfer your phone line

Residential customers can now bundle their Homeline and SmartPhone services with Actrix broadband and Tolls and receive one simple account.

If you move your line we'll keep your existing phone number, include all the normal features, and you can add SmartPhone services like Call Minder, Call Waiting and Caller ID; all by simply transferring your existing line to Actrix. More information can be found here.

3. Choosing a modem

In order to use the broadband connection, you will need to have a broadband modem. We currently offer three types of modems:

  • A single-port modem designed for one computer priced at $84.95
  • A multi-port modem designed for up to four computers priced at $99.95
  • And a wireless modem designed for as many computers as you need priced at $139.95.

More information about the different modems we offer can be found here.

4. Installation types

There are two different installation types for broadband; the Basic Installation and the Full Installation with Wiring.

Basic Installation
This is free if you sign up for a 12 month minimum term. It is the ideal option for those who have less than five phone jacks in use around their property, who do not have a PABX phone system (which some businesses may have), and who do not have a monitored burglar alarm system. With a Basic Installation you will need an ADSL line filter for each device you have plugged in. These simply plug into the phone jack and you connect your telephone or other device through the filter so that the broadband signal doesn't interfere with the telephone signal and vice versa.

Full Connection and Wiring
If you do have five or more phone jacks in use, or if you have a monitored burglar alarm or PABX phone system, then you will need the Full Connection & Wiring Installation which costs $169.00 if you sign up for a 12 month minimum term. You do not need any ADSL line filters with a Full Connection & Wiring Installation.

More information on broadband Installation Types can be found here.

5. Sign up

Once you have decided what you what kind of broadband Plan, Modem, and Installation you will need, it's simply a matter of filling out our online Sign Up form here.

However if you are still having trouble deciding which options would be best for you, feel free to contact our friendly Support Team on either support@actrix.co.nz or 0800 228 749 any time between 8am and 11pm, 7 days a week, and we help you choose the plan that best suits your needs.

View this article on its own...

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!

Amazing electron microscope shots
http://melodymaker.posterous.com/amazing-electron-microscope-shots – Bacteria on the surface of the human tongue and lots of other surrealistic close-up shots feature in this sample from the book Microcosmos by Brandon Brilln. "This book includes many scanning electron microscope (SEM) images of insects, human body parts and household items. These are the most amazing images of what is too small to see with the naked eye."
Virtually the Sistine Chapel
www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html – Now this is pretty amazing – and thanks to John McGregor for suggesting its inclusion here. With this virtual model, you can examine all the painting work adorning the walls and ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Use your mouse to drag the view around and scroll in and out with your mouse wheel. Or click on the plus or minus signs to the lower left to zoom in and out.
Daily routines
http://dailyroutines.typepad.com/daily_routines/ – How writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days. These daily routines are excerpts culled from books, newspapers, magazines etc, that reveal how many famous people structured their days and what they did to get the job done. To the right is a menu of categories if you'd prefer to browse the entries according to a particular theme. I'm not sure whether to recommend this site as potentially inspiring you to greater things, or as consoling you with the knowledge that lots of successful people were as weird in their daily habits as you and me. Especially you!

What do you love?
www.wdyl.com/# – "Google has rolled out a tool that mines the internet for blogs, pictures, videos, and more based on [your] answer to the question "What do you love?" writes the New Zealand Herald. It's really just a whole lot of Google applications appearing on the same page but it's still pretty useful.
13 things a burglar won't tell you
www.rd.com/13-things/13-things-a-burglar-wont-tell-you/ – Here's a page from Reader's Digest that explains in brief just how burglars think and operate. They're based on interviews with actual burglars. When you've read these 13, there's a link to eight more. At the bottom of the page are links to further set of 13 facts about various other topics.
We Choose the Moon
http://wechoosethemoon.org – We Choose the Moon is an interactive recreation of the first mission to the Moon. It's divided into 11 stages, each containing animation, archival photos, video and mission audio to bring the Apollo 11 experience to life. Use the mission tracker and navigation buttons to move backwards and forwards through the mission at your own pace. And the further into this you go, the cooler it gets.
The 50 worst movies ever
www.empireonline.com/features/50-worst-movies-ever/ – Here's a list of the 50 worst movies ever as voted on in an Empire magazine poll. For each you're told who's responsible for it (producer/director) why it's on the list, what redeeming features it might have, and what at least one critic said about it. Thanks fully, I've never heard of most of them...
Rules of rugby
http://activenewzealand.com/resources/all-about-new-zealand/rules-of-rugby/ – I confess to being as rugby mad as the next bloke or blokess, and I watch the game a lot. Nevertheless I confess to being confused more often than not about why penalties have been awarded, and this seems to have gotten worse over the last few years as rules have changed. This website attempts to decipher the rules of New Zealand’s national sport so you won’t "confuse a ruck for a scrum when following 'the rugby'". I thought it a timely addition with the World cup coming up.
Warts
www.warts.org/ – With all the billions of pages on the Internet – of course there's one dedicated to wart. All sorts of warts in all sorts of places. Now you can find out all you need to know about your embarrassing affliction so you have to spend less time explaining your problem to that health professional you see most often!
Disapproving rabbits
www.disapprovingrabbits.com/ – Move over LOLCats and I can has cheezburger; here come the Disapproving rabbits. They're cute, they're fluffy and some have lop ears – but they never approve. No, never.

 

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

ISPs to charge rights holders in file sharing law: Internet providers will be able to charge rights holders to process allegations of copyright infringement under a controversial law designed to prevent illegal file sharing. Click here for more.

Copyright law too expensive – Labour: The Government has seriously underestimated the expected costs and uptake of a controversial law designed to prevent illegal file sharing, the Labour Party says. Click here for more.

Judge backs internet providers: Movie studios, record companies and other rights holders are the beneficiaries of a new copyright regime and should bear the cost of its set-up, says a District Court judge specialising in technology. Click here for more.

Online shopping leaves retailers hurting: Among the responses to the latest BNZ confidence survey is a suggestion that online shopping is making the drop in retail spending worse. Click here for more.

Competition boosting NZ's broadband speed: The performance of New Zealand's broadband services is continuing to improve a report by the Telecommunications Commissioner finds. Click here for more.

Proposed internet suppression law change dropped: Internet New Zealand has welcomed a decision to drop a proposed law change that would have made internet service providers (ISPs) criminally liable for name suppression breaches by their customers. Click here for more.

Online guide for tribes: Move over Google Maps – here comes Maori Maps, making it possible for Maori to find their way back to their cultural homes thanks to a new website. Click here for more.

Catch me if you can: Illegal downloaders: A new law to stop the illegal download industry begins in September. Andrew Laxon discovers who might get caught - and who still might get away with piracy. Click here for more.

Kiwi businesses do better online: The New Zealand economy could grow by at least 5 per cent if all Kiwi businesses owned a website, a year-long study of the nation's digital economy has shown. Click here for more.

Competition boosting NZ's broadband speed: The performance of New Zealand's broadband services is continuing to improve a report by the Telecommunications Commissioner finds. Click here for more.

General

Snooping cases get go ahead: A US judge says Google overstepped its bounds by enabling its vehicles to 'snoop' on wifi connections while taking photos for its Street View mapping feature. Click here for more.

Internet helps with losing weight – study: People tend to lose a little more weight with online help than with traditional weight loss programs, a Japanese study said - but combining the Internet with in-person contact appears to be the most effective in keeping extra kilograms at bay. Click here for more.

Unwanted visitors follow Google mistake: Google Maps has no doubt added ease and convenience to many consumers' lives. Except for one. Click here for more.

Is email dying?: Is email going the way of the handwritten letter? Click here for more.

Al Qaeda threatens cyber-jihad: Al Qaeda is pressing followers to mount a "cyber-jihad" against the West following Osama bin Laden's death. Click here for more.

Traffic light plan for online music search results: A music body wants online search results to steer fans to legal download sites. Click here for more.

Stuxnet could evolve into new threat - US : US government cyber security experts are warning that the Stuxnet virus could become more menacing, more than a year after it surfaced in an attack believed to be targeted against Iran's nuclear program. Click here for more.

Beware of dark side to good ideas – top scientist : "The internet is capable of producing misleading information, pornography, violence, sedition and now we've got to the stage where the internet can be intercepted and corrupted. There's no doubt that cyber-terrorism is one of the big threats of the modern age." Click here for more.

Online self-diagnosis on the rise: An epidemic of cyberchondria has doctors warning patients to steer clear of self-diagnosis. Click here for more.

Exam cheats use internet to share answers: When Zhang, an average student in college, got set for the Graduate Record Exam in Beijing this year, she felt so unprepared that she skipped the exam entirely. Click here for more.

Social Media

Pope joins the twitterverse: Pope Benedict has tweeted for the first time, announcing the Vatican's news portal. Click here for more.

Google targets Facebook with new social service: Google, frustrated by a string of failed attempts to crack social networking, has launched a new service called Google+. Click here for more.

Twitter users send 200m messages daily: Twitter users are sending 200 million tweets a day, up from 65 million a year ago, the micro-blogging service said. Click here for more.

I'm bringing MySpace back, declares Timberlake: Justin Timberlake apparently wasn't satisfied with playing a social media impresario in the movies; now he's becoming one in real life. Click here for more.

Facebook in decline? Business has never been so good: So much for the demise of Facebook. Reports that the social networking site has begun to see a decline in its user numbers in its most established markets were rather undermined by yesterday's data from the authoritative market research group Nielsen, which suggested Facebook's popularity was continuing to grow strongly in some markets. Click here for more.

Shy Kiwis still share on social networks: A social media project that asked New Zealanders to "share everything" has revealed that while they are willing to share what is going on, there is also self-censorship. Click here for more.

Google+ users are nearly all male: Here's an interesting tidbit from the Google+ stats trackers: Three quarters (or more) of Google+ users are male. Click here for more.

Facebook to become R18 in Australia?: Ways to force Facebook to give parents access to their kids' profiles will be discussed today by Australian state and federal attorneys-general in a meeting that will also examine an 18+ Facebook age limit. Click here for more.

Generation Y so connected, but oh so lonely: The link between Generation Y's online lives and unhappiness revealed. Click here for more.

Facebook's Zuckerberg meets PM John Key: When Prime Minister John Key arrived at Facebook headquarters in San Jose today there was a surprise member of the line-up to greet him - founder of the $US80 billion Facebook empire, Mark Zuckerberg. Click here for more.

Facebook chat proves a piece of cake: Speedy signs East Tamaki owner Brent Neighbour spends half an hour each week updating his franchise's Facebook page with offers and tidbits of information. Click here for more.

Facebook stalker jailed for 4 years: A US man who trawled women's Facebook pages searching for clues that allowed him to take over their email accounts was jailed for four years. Click here for more.

Fugitive's Facebook taunt to police backfires: A fugitive from upstate New York who taunted police on his Facebook page to 'catch me if you can. I'm in Brooklyn' has been arrested. Click here for more.

Facebook tackles face-recognition privacy concern: Facebook has made it easier to opt out of facial-recognition technology. Click here for more.

Google's new assault on Facebook: Getting to grips with Facebook's new - and probably most serious - rival, Google Plus. Click here for more.

Extremists flocking to Facebook for recruits: When the English Defence League (EDL) sprang to life two years ago, it had fewer than 50 members - a rough-and-tumble bunch of mostly white guys shouting from a street corner about what they viewed as uncontrolled Muslim immigration. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Security researchers discover 'indestructible' botnet: More than four million PCs have been enrolled in a botnet security experts say is almost "indestructible". Click here for more.

Phishers switch focus to targeted attacks: Cybercrims are switching tactics from traditional email-based mass security threats to lower volume targeted attacks, according to a report by Cisco Security Intelligence Operations. Click here for more.

Cybercrime fight hurt by apathy, law enforcement hurdles: General public apathy and collaboration with the law enforcement community assure that cybercrimes of all sorts will continue to rise. That was one of the conclusions from a congressional hearing this week called "Hacked Off: Helping Law Enforcement Protect Private Financial Information." Click here for more.

IRD warns of hoax emails: The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) is again warning people about hoax emails supposedly sourced to the department. Click here for more.

How much is your stolen credit card worth?: The online trade in credit card details, email addresses and tools used in cyber attacks is growing, an investigation has revealed. Click here for more.

50,000 Kiwis fall victim to computer virus scam: A call from a persistent phone scammer caught Shirley Wright at "a weak moment". Click here for more.

Evil '666' auto-whaler tool is even eviler than it seems: Hackers have created a fake tool especially designed to exploit the laziness of the most clueless and unskilled phishing fraudsters. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Microsoft sorry for Winehouse tweet: Microsoft has apologised for a "tweet" that has been blasted for seeming like a blatant effort to cash in on the death of 27-year-old British singer Amy Winehouse. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Mother-in-law's toxic manners email goes viral: A stern email from a woman to her future daughter-in-law criticising the young woman's manners has gone viral in Britain, spurring debate about who's right. Click here for more.

Site victim of 'high-speed morons': Labour's launch of a website to promote its new tax policy hit an embarrassing technical snag on its first day. Click here for more.

Aussie mum investigated for listing kids on eBay: An Australian mother who listed her children for sale on the Internet had her joke backfire when authorities were called in to investigate, police said Sunday. Click here for more.

Double Rainbow guy running for president via Facebook: Paul Vasquez is better known to the Internet as the "Double Rainbow Guy." He lives in a mobile home just outside of Yosemite National Park, tinkers in organic farming and alternative energy, and is famous for his exuberant appreciation of nature's post-rain light display. 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.

Heaven or hell? How will technology shape our future?: ...we will live longer and banish disease; we will be more intelligent and quicker-witted with photographic memories and the ability to go days without sleep. Click here for more.

Blogger proves one red paper clip can indeed buy a house: Taking a paper clip and turning it into a house sounds like a cheesy magic trick or a phony instance of resourcefulness on the 1980s TV show "MacGyver." Click here for more.

Who's reading your e-mail?: New plans to scan e-mails for illegal images of child abuse may give the appearance that children are being safeguarded but they may not be as effective as they first seem. Click here for more.

US 'worst' for online child abuse: The IWF study also said that some sites that contain the illegal content remain accessible for up to five years despite being reported to relevant authorities. Click here for more.

Tom Cruise wins TomCruise.com: Tom Cruise has won his domain namesake, TomCruise.com, from notorious cybersquatter Jeff Burgar. 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. The best place to send requests for support is the Actrix Help Desk (support@actrix.co.nz) or to the Accounts Department (accounts@actrix.co.nz).

Take care through August and keep rugging up warm!

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

 

Copyright © 2011 Actrix Networks Limited | Contact: editor@actrix.co.nz