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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 everyone to another month and another Actrix Online Informer. The year is now well and truly underway, and summer should start any day now. We hope you had a good break and that you're now back in the swing of things, with 2012 shaping up to be a good year.

YouTube feature

This month's video feature is a great example of the fine line between genius and just a little bit crazy. Theo Jansen is a kinetic sculptor who makes some rather impressive creatures out of PVC-pipes and plastic bottles. His sculptures harness the power of the wind and walk on their own (that's the genius part). However his vision of setting these sculptures free and living on through them after he dies is just a tad wacky in a charming way. It's life, Theo, but not as we know it!

Enjoy!

Rob Zorn

 

Free stuff!

by Rob Zorn

This month we present you with some of the best free software you can download and install on your computer. Everything in this list is completely free. Some are trial versions that have their own options to upgrade to the complete version, but everything should be of some value. All of these programs run on Windows, but many are compatible with Macs and some even suitable for any Linux users out there.

Some of these are useful, some will save you time and money, and some are just toys. Who doesn't like free stuff?

But please note you always download from the Internet at your own risk. And here at Actrix we can't offer support for any of these programs. That said, any problems you may encounter would probably be answered with a simple Google search.

A further word of warning!

When you see the word "FREE" on the internet you might be a little suspicious, and rightly so. Some sites will offer you something for free, only for you to find out after filling out forms and giving away personal information that it's all free but only after you've paid the one off administration fee. Other sites load free downloads with malware and spyware that infect your systems and compromises your security.

Make sure your computer's anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are always running and don't download anything that's remotely suspicious. Try Googling the name of whatever you want to download. Chances are you're not the first person to come across it, and there's bound to be information around on whether it's safe.

And now for the free stuff!

Lavasoft (Antivirus & Antispyware)
This anti-virus and anti-spyware program may only be a trial version, but user reviews suggest it's just as good as the paid version. The program can be used for scanning your computer for viruses and spyware, but it also doubles as a shield preventing them from getting on your computer in the first place.

Another two free security downloads suggested by our Help Desk are Malwarebytes and Microsoft Security Essentials. Both of these are effective protection programs, keeping your computer free from viruses, trojans and spyware.

Ccleaner
When your computer needs a good clean-up, turn to Ccleaner. It cleans out all the useless files and registry entries stored on your computer (that can distract it and keep it unnecessarily busy) and gives your system a good dust-up.

 

 

Defraggler
Made by the same people who made Ccleaner, Defraggler is software for defragmenting your computer. A hard drive tends to become fragmented over time, meaning different bits of programs and data become stored in different places on your hard drive which slows your computer down as it deals with stuff. Defragmenting puts everything back together and thus streamlines your system's thought processes and gets everything running back up to speed.

 

 

Recuva
Again, made by the same people who made Ccleaner and Defraggler, Recuva is a tool for getting back that file you just accidentally deleted. Whether you emptied your Recycle Bin too soon or lost data when your computer crashed, Recuva is there to recover those files. It can even be used on a memory card or USB storage device.

 

 

OpenOffice
OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. Open source means it's free for anyone to use and there's a big community of open source enthusiasts behind it constantly working to improve it. OpenOffice is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages, such as those ones produced by nasty old Microsoft.

 

 

VLC Media Player
VLC Media Player is a simple video and music player than can play virtually any video, regardless of the format. There's usually no need to download codecs to get all those various videos to play. VLC media player has just about every codec in the world built in and even plays DVDs. You'll often find VLC will work fine when your other video player (such as that one by nasty old Microsoft) struggles.

 

 

Freemake Video Converter
Promising no limitations, Freemake offers this converter that will turn any of over 200 video file types into any other video file, making them suitable for YouTube, your iPhone, an Android device, or to burn to a DVD or Blu-ray disc. It will even take video direct from over 40 websites and convert them for you.

 

 

Filezilla
FileZilla is a premium open-source FTP client. FTP (file transfer protocol) is what is used to connect to websites behind the scenes so you can upload and download files to change web pages etc. If you're just starting out with building websites, FileZilla is a great tool that's easy to use.

 

 

Keepass
This software is a vault for your passwords. It uses high-end encryption to keep them safe from everyone but you. It will even create some strong passwords for you, so access to sites and servers is even more secure, but you only need to know the master password to get access to everything. You only have to remember one password instead of twelvety.

 

 

7-zip (Archiver)
The user interface of 7-Zip won't bowl you over, but the power to pack files into 7z, TAR, ZIP and more will. That pales in comparison to the amazing number of archives it can unpack, as well as the amount of different files and formats it can work with and compress.

 

 

Copernic (PC search engine)
Copernic is a search engine for your computer. It looks not only at everything on your hard drive (network drives are only searched in the Pro version), but also the contents of those files, and even attachments to e-mails. This could be a great help when you're searching for that email or document you know you wrote or read – but you just can't remember where you put it.

 

 

Revo Uninstaller
Uninstalling programs with their own uninstallers often tends to leave things behind, which can be annoying. Run Revo for programs you really want to be fully rid of. It'll then go back and check for extras to delete, even bits left in the registry (which can slow your computer down).

 

 

FoxIt Reader
FoxIt has long been a favourite PDF reading alternative. In addition to its "no bloat" claims, the software lets you add notes to PDF files and convert PDF contents to text.

 

 

Audacity
Audacity is open source software for recording, mixing and editing sounds with hundreds of nifty features. It'll even let you to convert your vinyl record collection to mp3 (if you still have a record player).

 

 

Clementine (Music player)
For those of you who feel iTunes just takes over your whole computer, check out Clementine, a classic multi-platform music player, as an alternative. It supports multiple formats, plays Internet radio, and will copy music to any USB-based media player, even the iPhone or iPod.

 

 

CopyTrans
CopyTrans can do more than just transfer music and video to your iPod or iPhone; it can actually transfer files off your device to your computer, something iTunes won't let you do. The full suite of tools can also move your iTunes from one PC to another (even a Mac), and handle all photos on your iPod/iPhone as well.

 

 

Sweet Home 3D
This program lets you create a 2D floor plan of your home or office, and Sweet Home 3D will, as the name implies, convert it into a three-dimensional space. How cool is that!

 

 

EULAlyzer
End user license agreements, or EULAs, are seldom read. Those reams of text they say you should peruse before clicking okay when you install software are full of gobbledygook and legal mumbo-jumbo. EULAlyzer will look at the copy for you and check for "interesting words and phrases" that might need your attention. This could save you suddenly discovering you've agreed to hand over your firstborn in exchange for the right to use a program.

 

View this article on its own...

MyActrix – Managing your Actrix account

The 'Manage your account information' feature of My Actrix allows you to interact directly with our database and change your contact details. If you've moved or changed your PO box you don't need to call the help desk (though you're always welcome to), you can just log in here and update the details yourself. Log in to My Actrix at the Actrix home page.

Changing Passwords
You can also change your password here. You will need to know what your current one is, of course, before you can change it, and you can only change the password you're currently logged in under. If you want to change the password for one of your mailboxes you can do this under your main account log in, but you'll need to select Manage Your Actrix Services to do that (see below).

Check Statements
This option let's you check your statements. Not sure about a bill or whether or not it's been paid? You can find out here.

Mailbox Usage
The option allows you to check your mailbox usage. By default you're allowed 100MB for each mailbox and if yours is full, people sending email to you will receive a bounce message telling them you can't receive email because you're over-quota. This feature allows you to check how much space each mailbox under your account is using, and would be a good place to check if you think you're not receiving emails anymore and wondering why.

Tolls Usage
This page shows a list of unbilled toll calls; that is a list of calls made since your last Actrix Tolls invoice. We aim to keep this information as up-to-date as possible and the page is updated daily with call information generally available within 24 hours.

CyberJet Usage
This page shows the size of your CyberJet (Actrix broadband) traffic allowance, how much you have currently used, and when your allowance next resets. It also has graphs showing your average speed over the past 24 hours and seven days, plus a 'Last 30 Days' graph which displays the total traffic (both upload and download) used for each of the past 30 days along with the total and daily average.

If you find you're regularly going over your allowance and being rate limited or charged for excess usage you might need to think about upgrading. For information on our current plans and how to change just click here.

For more tips and tricks click here for an Actrix Online Informer article about MyActrix.

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!

Devastating explosions!
http://devastatingexplosions.com/ – Ever feel that irresistible urge to blow something up but don't have the resources to make an explosion you can really be proud of or keep hidden from the neighbours? With this site, all you need is a mouse to detonate that dynamite and send a fireball sky-high. This is a much safer alternative for you pyromaniacs out there.
iheard
http://iheard.com.au/ – This site was created to dispel the many myths, rumours and fanciful claims about cancer. Ask any cancer related question and your query will be reviewed by our team of scientists, clinical advisors, researchers and cancer prevention and support experts who will give you accurate, evidence-based answers.
The 46 most important photos of 2011
http://www.buzzfeed.com/fjelstud/the-46-most-important-photos-of-2011 – 2011 was quite a year! As we head into 2012, it's important to take some time to ponder and reflect on the images that really impacted our lives over the past twelve months. Or not...
Savage Chickens
http://www.savagechickens.com/ – This site features daily cartoons of chickens (and other assorted strange characters) drawn on sticky-notes. Some are actually rather funny, and scrolling through the back-catalogue of old cartoons is a great way to kill time.
Need a problem?
http://www.needaproblem.com/en/ – Are you happy? Do you live a contented, carefree life? How boring that can be! What you lack are contrasts. You need problems to solve. At this site you can buy your own problems, ranging from trivial issues to nearly impossible conundrums.
Newseum
http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/ – Want to know what the headlines are in Tokyo or Amsterdam today? Place your mouse over any city on the world map and you'll be presented with all the major headlines of the day.
Airtoons
http://www.airtoons.com/ – This site is a collection of cartoons that parody airline safety cards. Most safety instructions on planes come with some unusual pictures but no captions, so the cartoonist has merely filled in the blanks. You won't be able to read airline safety instructions in the same way ever again!
Follow Up Then
http://www.followupthen.com/– Do you have an email that needs to be sent in three hours but you're scared you'll forget? Do you need a reminder to ring someone tomorrow evening? Check out Follow Up Then, which lets you set up reminders that'll be delivered straight to your inbox or phone just when you need it.
News archive
http://www.archive.org/details/1Day – This site lets you view the TV news as it's being delivered around the world. You have access to thumbnails of each channel, and just holding your mouse above each channel will let you preview it before you decide to watch. Great for getting your international news in a hurry.

What happens online in 60 seconds?
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2398097,00.asp – This infographic provides an illustration of what happens online every minute, from the amount of wall-posts on Facebook (79,364) to the amount of successful website hacking attempts (12 out of 416). Useful stuff…

 

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Crims caught out online: A brassy burglar seemed to have got away with a Christmas daylight robbery – till 11,000 Facebook users joined forces to catch her. Click here for more.

Fewer complaints about daily websites: A "growing tide of complaints'' about daily deal websites has abated but both the industry and the Commerce Commission are claiming credit for the improvement. Click here for more.

'Skynet' notices lack mandatory details: Efforts by the music industry to crack down on internet piracy have suffered a setback after it emerged that some copyright infringement notices issued to internet users under the controversial "Skynet" law may not be worth the paper they are written on. Click here for more.

Hackers put NZ information at risk: A data breach at a private American intelligence company has put the credit card information and personal details of several New Zealand companies and government agencies at risk. Click here for more.

The social web's news picks of 2011: Here are some of the stories from the New Zealand Herald site that were among the most shared, liked, tweeted and clicked on by social media users in 2011. Click here for more.

Most Googled food in NZ this year: Google have just released the list of the top ten foods searched for in NZ this year. Click here for more.

NZ river wins best satellite photo award: A satellite image of a twisting Canterbury Plains river has beaten images of flooding in Australia, Palm Island in Dubai, Ground Zero in New York and protests in Egypt to be dubbed the satellite picture of the year. Click here for more.

Kiwi's software wows Google, Nasa : What began as a side project has gone global after a New Zealand student's software was picked up by Google and NASA. Click here for more.

General

Internet overuse could cause brain damage: A recent study by researchers in China showed that too much internet usage - to the point that it's an addiction - can cause structural damage to your brain. Click here for more.

Amazon gets on board with movie system: An Amazon.com executive says the retailer has signed a deal with a Hollywood studio to sell movies that can be downloaded from an online "locker" system. Click here for more.

YouTube eyes gadgets, channels to boost viewers: YouTube is looking to increase viewership on its online video service by making the service available on an array of connected devices and by adding new content. Click here for more.

World's thinnest wire a quantum leap forward: Australian physicists have invented the world's narrowest silicon wire - 10,000 times thinner than a human hair - with the same capacity to conduct electricity as a traditional copper wire. Click here for more.

Snapped: camera thieves meet their match: A Melbourne man had given up the idea of getting back his stolen camera when he discovered a website that can locate any camera based on information stored in online photos. Click here for more.

Five tech trends to watch in 2012: 2012 promises to be a very busy year in all things digital, but, as with any annum, there will be just a handful of big, memorable trends. Click here for more.

Dutch court orders ISPs to block Pirate Bay: A Dutch court has ordered two major internet service providers in the Netherlands to block their customers from accessing The Pirate Bay website or face large fines. Click here for more.

Bidding starts on next-gen domain names: Bidding will soon begin for words and brand names such as ".sport," ".NYC" and ".bank" to join ".com" as online monikers. Click here for more.

Vatican.xxx web address snatched up: The Vatican has confirmed an unknown buyer had snapped up the internet address vatican.xxx, a domain combining its name with an extension reserved for pornographic content. Click here for more.

Most pirated movies of 2011: We usually rely on year-end box office numbers and movie critics to determine which films most captivated our hearts and attention, but cinematic demand can also be seen by looking at the most illegally downloaded movies of the year. Click here for more.

Web domains to get major overhaul with custom names: It is now possible to register almost any word as a web address suffix. Familiar endings like .com and .org could potentially be joined by the likes of .pepsi, .virgin or .itv. Click here for more.

Social Media

Man suing Facebook fined $5000 by court: A man who is suing for part ownership of Facebook has been fined US$5000 (NZ$6273) for failing to fully comply with a court order to give experts access to his email accounts. Click here for more.

Facebook advertising sparks backlash: Facebook advertising has ramped up a step, as sponsored stories begin to appear in users' news feeds. The adverts, marked "featured", pop up in the same way a post from a friend or group would. Click here for more.

Twitter lashes out at Google search changes: Twitter has lashed out at changes Google unveiled for its search engine, describing the changes as "bad" for consumers and for web publishers. Click here for more.

Facebook hacked by Ramnit worm: More than 45,000 Facebook accounts have been hacked using the Ramnit worm, which had been used to steal names and passwords from the accounts, which were held by people mostly from Britain and France. Click here for more.

Google gets more personal with searches: Google is sifting through the photos and commentary on its blossoming social network so its Internet search results can include more personal information. Click here for more.

Facebook's newest frontier: inside the car: At restaurants, at movies and at the office, checking Facebook has become a regular habit for many of the Internet social network's more than 800 million users. Now that habit has reached a new frontier: the automobile. Click here for more.

New Facebook app lets dead live on: If I Die is a Facebook app that makes sure, even if you die, your social self can still send out your last wishes and post messages to your friends years after you're gone. Click here for more.

Facebook slated over confusing privacy policy: Facebook has to explain better to users what happens to their personal data and give them more control, according to the data commissioner in Ireland, home to the website's international headquarters. Click here for more.

Father heard of son's murder on Facebook: A British police force has apologised after it confirmed that the father of an Indian student shot dead in Manchester found out about his son's murder on Facebook. Click here for more.

What your Facebook pic reveals: The crux item on your Facebook page is, of course, your profile photo. It's the telling image that accompanies your every post, summing you up in one revealing thumbnail. Click here for more.

Better tweets needed in 2012: Celebrities may resist the urge to send a stream of consciousness on Twitter in the new year, after famous people tweeted their way into trouble on everything from boxer briefs to breastfeeding in 2011. Click here for more.

Need a new kidney? Try Facebook: Facebook and other social media sites are quickly becoming a go-to place to find a generous person with a kidney to spare, according to the people asking for help and some national organisations that facilitate matches. Click here for more.

Twitter 'failing' on child abuse, Ceop watchdog warns: The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) has urged Twitter to address its fears that some paedophiles use the site to discuss abuse and link to pornographic images. Click here for more.

Facebook 'dead by morning' post alerts police: A Utah woman used Facebook to seek help after she and her 17-month-old son were held hostage at a residence for nearly five days, police said. Click here for more.

Why Facebook's finally getting religion on the privacy issue: Facebook is going to start giving its members more of a say in how their personal data is used, thanks to some pressure applied by Irish and U.S. authorities. Click here for more.

Indonesian charged with blasphemy for atheist post: Indonesian police say a civil servant who posted "God does not exist" on Facebook faces a maximum penalty of five years behind bars for blasphemy. Click here for more.

YouTube hits four billion daily video views: YouTube, Google Inc's video website, is streaming four billion online videos every day, a 25 percent increase in the past eight months, according to the company. Click here for more.

Can you count on your Facebook friends in a crisis?: Young adults may have a lengthy roster of social networking friends, but a new survey suggests many have little confidence those friends will support them in times of great need. Click here for more.

Twitter much more than social says Doresy: Twitter is much more than a social network and has no time to waste worrying about newcomers like Google+, says co-founder Jack Dorsey. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Cyberbullying a problem around the globe: More than 10 percent of parents around the world say their child has been cyberbullied and nearly one-fourth know a youngster who has been a victim. Click here for more.

Alert over mobile phone hijacking flaw: Flaws in the technology powering most mobiles could allow hackers to gain remote control of phones and instruct them to send text messages or make calls, according to an expert on mobile phone security. Click here for more.

Cyber attacks could wreck world oil supply: Hackers are bombarding the world's computer controlled energy sector, conducting industrial espionage and threatening potential global havoc through oil supply disruption. Click here for more.

Cyber criminals launch underground search engine : A new service aims to be the Google search of underground websites, connecting scammers to a vast sea of web forums that offer an array of dodgy goods and services, from stolen credit card numbers to identity information and anonymity tools. Click here for more.

Mainly Microsoft

Xbox assembly workers in China threaten mass suicide over jobs dispute: Dozens of workers assembling Xbox video game consoles climbed to a factory dormitory roof, and threatened to jump to their deaths, in a dispute over their jobs. Click here for more.

Microsoft security – you've come a long way, baby: Microsoft products are much more secure than they were 10 years ago, security experts say. Click here for more.

The Year of Microsoft: How the former tech giant can reclaim its throne in 2012. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

The reel cost of broken hearts: Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned! A Waikato teacher is selling her ex-boyfriend's GPS fishing co-ordinates on Trade Me, hoping the co-ordinates will be bought by a "nice guy" who deserves them more than her ex-boyfriend. Click here for more.

File-sharing recognised as official religion in Sweden: All around the world file-sharers are being chased by anti-piracy outfits and the authorities, and the situation in Sweden is no different. While copyright holders are often quick to label file-sharers as pirates, there is a large group of people who actually consider copying to be a sacred act. Click here for more.

Food company to help pets lose weight: The world's biggest food group Nestle has launched an online programme inviting pet owners to team up with their furry friends to lose weight. 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.

FBI warns of assassin spam scam twist: The FBI is warning of a new twist in the saga of scam emails that suggest a "hitman" is on the trail of the recipients. Click here for more.

Music industry threatens ISPs over file sharing: The music industry has opened up a new front in the war on online music piracy, threatening to sue internet service providers that allow customers to illegally share copyrighted tracks over their networks. Click here for more.

How the net changed the ancient art of the con: As well as creating new forms of criminal activity, such as spamming, the rising importance of computer networks has witnessed many forms of traditional crime reappearing under slightly different guises. Click here for more.

Spam surge drives net crime spree: The tussle between computer security companies trying to protect your PC and the bad guys that try to compromise it is often characterised as an arms race. Click here for more. Click here for more.

Online sites offer help for holiday grief: As excitement over the holidays builds so does the dread for millions of people grieving loved ones, sparking a rush to websites offering advice on how to cope with what can be a blizzard of emotions. 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 February!

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

 

Copyright © 2012 Actrix Networks Limited | Contact: editor@actrix.co.nz