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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 December Actrix Online Informer

As we wrap up the 2011 year, management and staff at Actrix would like to thank all customers for their loyalty and support. Once again it has been a pleasure to bring you your gateway to the information superhighway. We wish you all the best for the holiday season. We hope you have a good break and look forward to partnering with you into 2012. What a strange election it was, but it's not our place to comment any further. We hope you'll get a kick out of our round up of interesting, if not altogether practical, Christmas present possibilities.

YouTube feature

If you're like me, you've experienced a thousand deaths by PowerPoint, where your brain slowly turns to mush watching someone's really boring presentation. This month we feature a short video of a guy making excellent use of PowerPoint.  This is one presentation I would have enjoyed being at!

Rob Zorn

 

Fun but probably useless Christmas presents

by Rob Zorn

Okay, December is upon us and we're all beginning to feel that pressing need to find presents for our loved ones that are a little bit unique. Whether that's you or not, I suspect you'll find this article to be of virtually no help whatsoever.

Once again we've scoured the net to find the most interesting or unique present possibilities. We've done that because it's funny to see some of the new products ingenious inventors have come up with, but it would surprise us very much if any readers actually bought any of them. Except for that wand-thing, which I kinda like...

Kymera magic wand

The Kymera magic wand can control most of the electrical devices in your house by learning from your existing remotes. The really cool thing is that it uses few buttons. You can turn things on and off by flicking the wand up and down, and control volume by just turning it clockwise or anti-clockwise, etc. It can do lots more, too.

Warning: if you order one of these you'll probably end up annoying the heck out of your loved ones or flatmates by being too busy casting remote controlled spells and turning things on and off to actually watch anything on TV.

There are videos all over YouTube showing how this things works and it comes with a booklet of professional wizard wand movement techniques.

Order via Amazon.

Heath potion bottle necklace

Love being a gamer? Tell the world! This necklace is hand-sculpted from polymer clay in the shape of a health potion – a staple of many video games. There is a tattoo-style banner across the front that says, "GAMER."

The potion bottle is painted in acrylics and the cork given texture and depth inside the bottle, while still having an 8-bit look. The charm is coated in a clear, shiny glaze and hangs from a silver-plated, soldered-link chain with a pinch clasp.

Order via Much Needed Merch.

Custom-crocheted/knit beard hat

This lumberjack hat will keep you warm in a super fun way! The hat itself is crocheted and the beard and moustache are knit. All of the hat is made with 100% acrylic yarns, and no beards are actually harmed in the making of them.

The hats are custom-made to your desire and can be ordered in any colour, but the beard is only available in brown, black, red (orange-brown), blonde (yellow). One size will fit most adults.

Order via Warmest Wishes 2 You.

Octopus creature cup

"Creeping around in the bottom of your cup, the octopus is up to no good. He'll be a little startled if you catch him, and who knows what he's doing if you don't. As you drink the Octopus will emerge."

Cups are handmade, dishwasher safe and microwavable. They'd provide hours of endless fun startling your coffee-drinking mates, or just serving as an interesting conversation starter. Your friends will be dying to know why you actually purchased them.

Order via Creature Cups.

Zombie brand brains soup

Anyone who watches TV knows the zombie apocalypse is coming one day. But are you prepared? If a zombie knocks on your door wanting to eat your brain, you may be able to negotiate a better deal by offering him or her some "Zombie Brains Soup".

The ingredient list includes: water, frontal lobe, parietal lobe, various other lobes, cerebellum, thalmus and frontmarginal gyrus – among other things.

Disclaimer: As the vendors have not yet been authorised to sell canned human brains, they are offering the packages as a fun money box so you can start saving for when you need the real deal.

Order via Meninos.

Ten ton lampshade

Every ageing roadrunner fan needs one of these. This lampshade looks like it's been ordered from Acme, and come right out of Wile E Coyote's accessory kit.

Parents ordering one of these should be prepared for debates with their children about why the old Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner cartoons were so much better than whatever incomprehensible nonsense animators seem to be dishing up nowadays.
 

Order via Meninos.

The Death Bar

Geeky-clean provides epic hygiene for the common gamer! Their slogan is nerd soap made by a nerd for nerds.

Now fans and supporters of the Empire can strike back by washing the stink of rebel scum off their hands with a Death Bar soap! It smells just like the "Dark Side Cookies" Mama Palpatine used to make. Weighing in at 2 oz, it's a perfect addition to your bathroom counter.

No Alderaanians were harmed in the making of this product.

Order via Geeky-clean.

Marshmallow shooter

This clever pump-action device shoots sweet, edible miniature marshmallows more 10 metres. The easy-to-refill magazine holds 25 marshmallows (or foam pellets, not included) for fast, nonstop action. The barrel and magazine are top-rack dishwasher safe.

The product comes with a small parts choking warning, and we also suggest purchasers do not attempt to catch flying marshmallows in their mouths. Remember, it's only fun until someone gets a marshmallow in their eye.

Order via Hammacher Schlemmer.

Vertical turntable

This turntable mounts to a wall, playing records vertically. Ideal for limited space, it secures records to its platter with a locking mechanism for smooth, uninterrupted play. The turntable uses a two-speed belt drive to spin 33 1/3- or 45-speed LPs while the ruby-tipped stylus picks up the nuances of vinyl recordings. Two built-in 5-watt speakers with volume control produces clear sound. As it runs on four included AA batteries, it can be placed anywhere on any wall or horizontal surface without the need for a power outlet.

Order via Hammacher Schlemmer.

Sudoku cube

After the phenomenon of the Sudoku puzzle comes the Sudoku cube. Because we all know someone (else) who is a Sudoku nut, this might be one of the few things here you'd actually want to buy.

Based on the Rubik's cube the Sudoku cube is made of numbers instead of colours. This makes a demanding challenge that even the best Sudoku player will need extra skill to solve. It's perfect for fans of Sudoku who can continue playing the game, just in a different format.

Order via I Want One of Those.

Dr Who: Dalek projection alarm clock

The Zeon Dr Who Dalek-shaped projection alarm projects the time onto any surface.

It also features the Daleks' famous, 'Exterminate', 'Hover' and 'Gun' as sound effects. Base and time display glows blue and speech indicators flash white.

If you were a Dr Who fan as a kid, this thing just might scare you awake!

Order via I Want One of Those.

After curry wipes

We all know someone who likes to dabble in the world of the volcanic vindaloo or the red hot rogan josh, but the next day... That's where the 'Ring of Fire' soothing curry wipes come in particularly handy.

You get 40 large moisturising wet wipes in a convenient re-sealable tube that will douse even the most savage after-curry flames! After Curry Wipes are great gift for those that like it hot, but can't always handle the revenge! Heaven help you if you've eaten more than 40 curries!

Order via Present Finder.

Daily office dares

The Daily office dares pad is something that will liven up the office, a pad of 365 hilarious office pranks and dares for you to try out on your colleagues.

It has a range of dares from wild and wacky to something a little more subtle to keep you and your colleagues entertained, one for each day of the year. Once you've done the dastardly dare, tear it out and get ready for the next one!

This little pad would make a perfect stocking filler gift, or it could just be something to read while you wait in line down at the unemployment centre.

Order via Present Finder.

View this article on its own...

Revealed: The worst passwords of 2011

Stuff, 21 November 2011.

This post was originally published on Mashable.

Pro tip: choosing "password" as your online password is not a good idea. In fact, unless you're hoping to be an easy target for hackers, it's the worst password you can possibly choose.

"Password" ranks first on password management application provider SplashData's annual list of worst internet passwords, which are ordered by how common they are. ("Passw0rd", with a numeral zero, assent [mildly] smarter, ranking 18th on the list).

The list is somewhat predictable: sequences of adjacent numbers or letters on the keyboard, such as "''qwerty and "123456", and popular names, such as "ashley" and "michael", all are common choices. Other common choices, such as "monkey" and "shadow", are harder to explain.

As some websites have begun to require passwords to include both numbers and letters, it makes sense varied choices, such as "abc123" and "trustno1", are popular choices.

SplashData created the rankings based on millions of stolen passwords posted online by hackers.

Read the full article, including the complete list of the 25 worst passwords.

 

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!

What did David Bain actually say?
http://helenfraser.com.au/forensic/index.htm#transcription – This is a fascinating site for those interested in the David Bain case. When he calls Emergency Services, some hear him tell the attendant, "I shot the prick" and take this as a crazed confession. Listening to the call, it certainly sounds like he's saying that, until you're told he may be saying something else (and then when you listen, it sounds like he was saying that) – and maybe he wasn't saying anything at all. It's a fascinating lesson in forensic phonetics. Read the related Stuff story.
German advertising
www.icanhasinternets.com/2011/10/german-advertising/ – After that fairly serious site (above) let's return to the realm of the completely silly with this collection of German advertisements for an employment agency. They present a whole lot of jobs you could find yourself in, presumably by failing to take advantage of their services.
Introduction to human evolution
http://humanorigins.si.edu/resources/intro-human-evolution – "Human evolution is the lengthy process of change by which people originated from ape like ancestors." This fascinating, plain language page, by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, presents the scientific evidence revealing how the physical and behavioural traits shared by all people originated over a period of approximately six million years. Video and lots more included!
The history of the Internet in a nutshell
http://sixrevisions.com/resources/the-history-of-the-internet-in-a-nutshell – "Considering how much of an influence the Internet has in our daily lives, how many of us actually know the story of how it got its start? Here's a brief [and very visual] history of the Internet, including important dates, people, projects, sites, and other information that should give you at least a partial picture of what this thing we call the Internet really is, and where it came from."
Wretched Writers Welcome
www.bulwer-lytton.com/ – "Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels. The contest (hereafter referred to as the BLFC) was the brainchild (or Rosemary's baby) of Professor Scott Rice, whose graduate school excavations unearthed the source of the line 'It was a dark and stormy night'." .
Suitcases left behind
http://www.suitcaseexhibit.org/indexhasflash.html – When Willard Psychiatric Center in New York closed in 1995, workers discovered hundreds of suitcases in the attic. Many appeared untouched since their owners packed them decades earlier before entering the institution. Their contents bear witness to the rich, complex lives their owners lived prior to being committed to Wiilard. Use the 'Suitcases' item in the lower menu to choose an inmate, but don't forget to check out the other interesting menu items.
Iconic photos recreated in LEGO
http://flavorwire.com/214369/iconic-photos-recreated-in-legos – "The historically minded artist Mike Stimpson lends a tinge of childhood innocence to legendary moments in a collection that uses LEGOs to recreate famous photos (and one famous painting). By placing the original pictures side-by-side with his versions, he simultaneously pays homage to and updates these classic images,"
The horrors of pre-anaesthetic surgery
http://thechirurgeonsapprentice.com/ – "Surgeons are amongst the highest paid professionals in the medical world today. They are the ‘miracle-workers’ of the 21st century, providing blood transfusions, heart transplants and prosthetic limb replacements in order to save and transform the lives of their patients.... At the beginning of the 17th century, 'chirurgeons' [surgeons] were closely related to barbers and other craftsmen who learned their trade through apprenticeships." Click 'Read the casebooks' to get started – not for the feint-hearted.
Weird news from National Geographic
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/archives/weird/ – Now this is fascinating stuff! National Geographic posts daily stories of weird and wonderful news discoveries ranging from satellite photos of ancient ruins in the Sahara, through to one-eyed sharks, through to new life forms found at the bottom of the Dead Sea!

Foodily
www.foodily.com/ – Foodily claims to be the world’s largest recipe network, bringing together a continuou styyle=s feed of recipes from across the web. Foodily goes beyond sharing or saving recipes by including your friends in those everyday conversations about what to cook and eat.

 

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Social media and NZ's minor parties: Yesterday, I did a quick analysis of the two major parties' social media outgoings. Here are my impressions of the minor parties' efforts. Once again, it's alphabetical. Click here for more.

NZ teen's Facebook threat sparks US alarm: A Canterbury student had Texas authorities on alert for hours after posting a message saying he would "go to school and shoot everyone" Click here for more.

Movie makers yet to move on piracy: Movie studios are still sitting on their hands as the music industry begins cracking down on internet piracy. Click here for more.

Neighbours split over council broadband plan: Plans to bring Auckland's broadband network into the future have divided some neighbourhoods. Click here for more.

Labour proposes Ministry of ICT: Labour is proposing a single network regulator for telecommunications and broadcasting. Click here for more.

Trade Me's shares offered at $2.70: Trade Me's much-anticipated share offer will open on November 17 to raise $363.5 million from investors in New Zealand and Australia. Click here for more.

Facebook photo used to bait men: Police have released a photograph of a woman allegedly used by a Christchurch man to lure men into online relationships. Click here for more.

Online dating: the fun and the glum: Men who turn to online dating treat it as an endless buffet where they are in control. But there are slim pickings for women, who are more likely to forgive flaws in their search for true love. Click here for more.

Kiwis making most of online bargains: The strong New Zealand dollar is a headache for exporters, but imports are surging as Kiwi shoppers flock to overseas websites. Click here for more.

Kids have sophisticated online lives: More than half of New Zealand children are "social media adults" before they reach their teens, an internet security firm says. Click here for more.

NZ internet a 'deterrent' to online TV: Netflix, a popular United States service that lets customers stream movies and television shows over the internet to their TV or computer for a flat US$8.99 monthly fee, has slated the internet in New Zealand and says it has no plans to offer its service here. Click here for more.

General

CIA following Twitter: In an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, in an unassuming brick building, the CIA is following tweets - up to 5 million a day. Click here for more.

Amazon introduces lending library for Kindles: Amazon.com says that it is starting a lending library for Kindle owners, letting them borrow one electronic book per month. Click here for more.

iTunes a 'digital vampire', says Townshend: The Who's Pete Townshend has branded Apple's iTunes a "digital vampire" that profits from music without supporting the artists who create it. Click here for more.

Hacktivists unmask child porn site visitors: The online "hacktivist" group Anonymous claimed on Wednesday to have published the internet protocol addresses of nearly 200 visitors to child pornography forums. Click here for more.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on the internet's future: Censorship is the biggest threat to the development of the internet, according to Wikipedia's founder Jimmy Wales. Click here for more.

Troll-attack campaign goes viral: A campaign to highlight the abusive misogyny of anonymous posters online has gone viral. Click here for more.

Consumer Watchdog: Festive buying at home: The ritual of Christmas shopping could be gone in as little as 10 years as the internet's grip on consumers tightens. Click here for more.

Boost for new net address scheme: Efforts to shift the internet to a new addressing system have been boosted by US internet service provider Comcast. Click here for more.

Google chairman blasts net copyright bills: Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt blasted proposed legislation to tighten online copyright regulation, saying the bills would lead to censorship of the Internet. Click here for more.

Google offers rare peek into Web searches: Google has offered a detailed glimpse into its secret process of ranking Internet websites, publishing for the first time a list of recent tweaks to its closely guarded search algorithm. Click here for more.

EU: Countries can't impose Internet filters: A European Union court says Internet service providers cannot be required to install filters that would prevent the illegal downloading of files. Click here for more.

Revealed: The worst passwords of 2011: Pro tip: choosing "password" as your online password is not a good idea. In fact, unless you're hoping to be an easy target for hackers, it's the worst password you can possibly choose. Click here for more.

Social Media

Fake Facebook page 'identity theft': A woman accused of impersonating her ex-boyfriend on a fake Facebook page and posting inflammatory comments can be prosecuted for identity theft, a US judge ruled, in a case that could have wider implications for cyber-speech. Click here for more.

Stores ignore Facebook complaints: Stores may use Facebook to reach out to customers, but when customers reach back, they're ignored. Click here for more.

600,000 Facebook accounts compromised daily: Facebook has revealed in a blog entry that about 600,000 log-ins every day are compromised. Click here for more.

Study: More women, traditional media are blogging: The blogosphere – arguably the first engine of the new-media age – is becoming more female, while traditional media is homing in on the blogging action, a new study says. Click here for more.

Facebook facing 20 years of privacy audits: report: Facebook will agree to independent privacy audits for 20 years under a proposed settlement with US regulators. Click here for more.

Facebook 'plans privacy overhaul': Social network Facebook will ask users to opt into future changes to the way it uses their personal information, the Wall Street Journal says. Click here for more.

Why Facebook is better for business than Google+: Google+ may develop over time but for now it doesn't come close to the services Facebook offers businesses. Click here for more.

Facebook stops porn spam flood: Facebook says it has stopped most of the spam that has flooded many users' pages with pictures showing graphic sex and violence. Click here for more.

Twitter opens window into user activities: Twitter has finished adding features that let users see who likes their posts and what the people they follow are doing at the popular microblogging network. Click here for more.

Facebook shrinks degrees of separation to four: Facebook reduces the six degrees of separation between any two people to only four, a study finds. Click here for more.

Facebook adding more advertisements: Facebook is adding more advertisements to popular social networking website, under the guise of "sponsored stories". Click here for more.

Social media: Not just another click on the wall: In these days of rampant social media, misconduct outside the workplace, once forgotten or laughed about the next day, is now recorded, videoed, tweeted about, only to be on YouTube the same day and forever on your work record. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Hacked off with a life online: Rowenna Davis tells how an email hacker ruined her life and then tried to sell it back to her. Click here for more.

35 million online game accounts exposed : Steam – one of the world's largest distribution networks for online video games – has been hacked, leaving the user accounts of 35 million vulnerable and potentially exposing their credit card details and billing addresses to hackers. Click here for more.

Scam hits 4 million computers in 100 countries: US authorities have charged seven people living in Estonia and Russia with using malicious software to hijack millions of computers worldwide to redirect Internet searches toward online ads. Click here for more.

Kids and technology: The new rules of online safety: Between smartphones, social networks, tablet PCs and Internet-ready gaming systems, today's families are more connected than ever, with schools, libraries and organizations nationwide increasingly rolling out programmes devoted to extolling the virtues of technology. Click here for more.

Scam targets Kiwibank, ASB customers: Kiwibank says scam phishing emails pretending to be from banks appear to have increased in recent weeks. Click here for more.

Why online anonymity is an illusion: Being anonymous online is a powerful tool. Leaving aside lower case anonymous users, in the last month, the Anonymous online hackers' movement has targeted a pepper spraying policeman, released 38,000 emails of a US Department of Justice investigator and threatened (then retracted the threat) to release the names of collaborators with a Mexican drug cartel. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Internet Explorer's share drops below 50 percent: Internet Explorer can no longer claim more than half of the web's traffic, as of October, ending more than a decade of the default Microsoft browser's reign. Click here for more.

Bill Gates not bothered by Jobs' jab: Microsoft founder Bill Gates coolly parried some harsh criticism from late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, in an interview with ABC television, saying their professional rivalry was positive. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Cow pics, farm tips on new social network: Instead of uploading pictures of friends and family, members of a new Argentine social network share photos of soybean fields and press the "like button" on the latest tractor models. 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.

Internet job ads overtake newspaper: Internet-based job advertising has overtaken the traditional newspaper-based adverts for the first time. An ANZ Bank survey shows a 7.5% growth in total job advertising in the September quarter. Click here for more.

Hell.com hath no takers: The Internet domain name Hell.com failed to be bought via a live auction Friday, which organizers had hoped would bring bids of more than $1 million. Click here for more.

Browser wars - IE7 and Firefox 2.0 virtually equal: Life has just got a little easier for the world's web surfers with the release of the shiny new Internet Explorer 7 and equally good-looking Firefox 2.0 web browser. Click here for more.

Web reaches new milestone: 100 million sites: Netcraft, an Internet monitoring company that has tracked Web growth since 1995, says a mammoth milestone was reached during the month of October. Click here for more.

Internet bill of rights proposed: A bill of rights for the internet age has been proposed at a United Nations' conference in Athens. Click here for more.

Andy Murray conducts online vote to choose a new hairstyle: Murray, who is currently preparing to play Slovakia's Dominik Hrbaty in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters, has become known for his curly mop. 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 December and save some pudding for me!

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

 

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