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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 June Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for June 2012.

We've received a few emails recently asking us questions about this, that and the other, so instead of having a larger article as we normally do, this month we're running a number of smaller articles to answer some of these questions.

YouTube feature

Imagine a quiet square in the middle of a quaint village. Mothers pass by pushing prams, the postman drives through on his way to a delivery, and a man on a bike pushes a big red button below a sign that says "Push to add drama". Find out what happens next....

Enjoy!

Rob Zorn

 

Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! Lovely spam!

Regardless of whether you love or hate Monty Python's spam sketch, chances are you hate getting spam.

A number of readers have recently noticed an increase of spam emails entering their inboxes. These include messages from Kiwibank asking you to log in to your account, requests to help dying billionaires, job offers, massive lottery winnings, inheritance scams, and so forth.

Spam quantities seem to ebb and flow – some months you'll receive just a few, and others months they'll come flooding in. But they seem to have been on the increase of late.

While it may look like our filters are missing a lot of these, you can be assured that the vast majority of spam emails sent to your account are being intercepted and trashed. Filters work by assessing each and every email against certain known spam criteria, and will filter off an email if it scores highly enough on the spammy scale.

But spammers are clever. Usually they're sending through insecure servers all around the world and they change their sending locations regularly, which makes it impossible to trace them (and deal to them the justice they deserve). They're also aware of how filters work and constantly change the characteristics of their messages, making it a real challenge for our spam filters to catch absolutely everything because it's harder for them to tell a spam from a legitimate email, and if we tighten things up too much a higher percentage of legitimate emails could be rejected as spam.

The bottom line is, spam will always be with us unless someone thinks of a miracle cure. Best to try not to let is spoil your day.

View this article on its own...

Printing from the net 

Another question we have recently received was about printing just parts of the Online Informer. It may be a digital world, but some people just feel better when they can have something on paper. Printing out just a section of the Actrix Online Informer is easy to do, and there are a number of different ways to do it. What's more, these methods can be used for printing nearly anything on the internet. Having articles and web-pages in print form can be very handy, especially for things like directions or recipes.

In terms of printing an article from the Online Informer, we generally include a link at the end of main articles which allows you to view that particular article on its own. If you ever want to print one of these off, simply click that link, then click File and then Print in your browser. These links are usually only for the larger articles, but if there's something else you want to print off, there are two different ways to do it. Again, these methods can be used for printing just about anything online.

The first option is to use your mouse to select the text you want to print, then click File and then Print. A box with printer properties should appear, and under the heading (or something similar) Page Range, you have the option of ticking Selection. This means your printer will only print the portion you have selected or highlighted.

The second option is to use your mouse to select the text you want to print, and then copy and paste the selected text into another program such as Microsoft Word. You can then print the article as you would any other Microsoft Word document. This option also lets you format the document before you print it.

Happy printing!

View this article on its own...

IPv4 and IPv6 

One switched-on reader has asked us a couple of questions about IPv4 and IPv6.

So first a little context (jargon alert many readers will want to skip this)

Every device, such as a computer, ipad or mobile phone, that connects to the internet has a unique address called an IP (Internet Protocol) address, a series of numbers specific to that device. When your device communicates with other devices over the internet, small packets of data are transferred between your device and whatever it's communicating with. Just as a postman needs your address before he can deliver your mail, so your device needs a unique address before it can communicate over the internet.

Until recently, devices had been assigned an IPv4 address. When IPv4 was designed, every device on a network had its own specific IP address, which meant every device could communicate with every other device on that network and on the internet. An IPv4 address, which looks something like this: 192.168.47.254, has 232 possible combinations (or 4,294, 967, 296). However, some smart chap realised that even though that provided more than four billion possible unique combinations, we were going to run out of IPv4 addresses pretty soon.

To conserve IPv4 addresses, routers began recycling IP addresses by assigning the same addresses to connected devices. This meant a number of devices that were connected by a private network shared a single address. While this slowed down the rapid decrease in available addresses, it hampered communication as devices on one of these private networks weren't able to effectively communicate with specific devices over the internet.

By February 2011, all the available combinations of IPv4 addresses were either allocated or used up. You may have noticed that the internet didn't come crashing down around us, and that's because of IPv6. An IPv6 address, which can look something like this: 2001:5c0:1000:b::1d67, has a possible 2128 combinations (or 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000), which probably means we aren't going to run out of unique addresses any time soon.

IPv6 works by assigning a subnet of these addresses to every router that it can then use as a pool to assign to its devices, eliminating the private network problem that exists in IPv4.

So what does this all mean, and how does this affect Actrix customers?

Currently IPv4 and IPv6 are running in unison. While IPv6 is definitely the way forward, IPv4 will be around for the foreseeable future. The majority of routers these days are able to continue running IPv4 addresses as well as the new IPv6, so there's no need to rush out and upgrade your router.

Actrix will be implementing what is known as Dual Stack, which means every customer will get both a single IPv4 address and an IPv6 subnet allocation, so older technologies still using IPv4 will work alongside newer technologies using IPv6.

Furthermore, when you use a device to connect to the internet, most web browsers have been programmed to try an IPv6 connection by default. If this doesn't work, it will fall back to an IPv4 connection.

There is no foreseeable sudden cut-off to IPv4. Eventually all devices will utilise IPv6, but you will likely see little to no change in online functionality and service.

View this article on its own...

Internet security report 

Internet security giant Symantec, the company that developed Norton Anti-Virus, has released its annual report on the state of internet security. The report is over 50 pages long, so we've summarised some of the more interesting parts. You can read the full report here.

Interesting points include:

  • In 2011, the number of vulnerabilities decreased by 20 percent. A vulnerability is a weakness in an operating or security system that acts as an access point for a virus or hacker to infiltrate and cause damage.
  • Mobile vulnerabilities increased by 93 percent in 2011.
  • The number of malicious attacks continued to skyrocket by 81 percent.
  • More than 5.5 billion malicious attacks were blocked.
  • The number of web attacks blocked per day increased by 36 percent to 4,595.
  • The number of unique malware variants, or different types of viruses, increased to 403 million.
  • Spam levels dropped to their lowest level in three years, from 62 billion in 2010 to 42 billion in 2011.
  • 75 percent of emails sent in 2011 were spam.
  • Personal information (identities) relating to 232.4 million people was exposed, with hacking responsible for 80 percent of these.
  • For every data security breach, an average of 1.1 million identities were exposed.

Symantec has made a short video that sums up their findings, which you can view here.

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!

The Age: Oddspot
www.theage.com.au/oddspot – Every day or two Australian newspaper The Age adds a paragraph to this web page reporting some of the oddest news stories you will ever read. Such stories include a man named Obi-Wan Kenobi being arrested for fleeing the scene of a crash, or a truckload of spilled hollandaise sauce causing major traffic delays. The back-catalogue of odd news makes for some great time-wasting too.
The eyes have it
www.theeyeshaveitgame.com – This game tests your knowledge of cartoon eyes. While many might deny having such a knowledge, the game's surprisingly fun. You're given the outline of a cartoon character, ranging from Spongebob Squarepants to Sonic the Hedgehog, and a collection of different cartoon eyes, the aim is to match the character to the correct pair. There's even a gift shop...
Flip title
http://fliptitle.com – This site offers you the function of flipping text upside down. How is this handy or useful, you might ask? There are a number of things you can do with flipped text, such as make your passwords uber-strong, create interesting comments and updates for your Facebook page, and even encrypt download links and email addresses online. The site claims you can also use it to "freak your friends", but I think it'll only confuse them.
Physics Fact-book
http://hypertextbook.com/facts/index-topics.shtml – Definitely a site for the braniacs out there. This is a massive collection of facts, figures and articles on all things physics. Want to know more about the density of Saturn, or the fractal dimensions of broccoli? It's all here, and is actually written in a rather easy-to-understand way. So do some reading and get ready to impress your friends with your new-found knowledge.
Table of COW-ntents
www.clasohm.com/cows/guide.html – This site is cowlection of cow puns and images of cows made in notepad using only punctuation marks. Most of the puns are truly awful, but many of the cow pictures are quite clever, and some even cowlector's items. However, this site is really just another case of someone with way too much time on their hooves.
TV fan fiction
www.fanfiction.net/tv/ This site houses one of the largest collections of tv fan fiction on the internet. When a particular tv show either gets cancelled or takes an unpopular direction, some die-hard fans of the show write their own stories, involving the same characters. Here you'll find fan fiction on any tv show, from classics such as Star Trek and Saved by the Bell to today's Grey's Anatomy and Big Bang Theory.
The orphanage of cast-off mascots
www.lileks.com/institute/orphanage/ – This site is filled with cast-off mascots – humanoid creatures who once served as advertising emissaries in newspapers and magazines. Most of these products are dead, leaving their mascots orphaned. Now it's your turn to help. I'm calling on the citizens of the web to adopt a cast-off mascot and affix him to your own page (Click, hold, and save).
Moral DNA
www.moraldna.org/ Moral DNA is a personality test which reveals our moral values and the way we prefer to make decisions about what's right. The test was designed to help humanity understand how we make good decisions and do the right thing. It's an odd thought to think something as simple as a few questions can paint a picture of our conscience. Over 50,000 people from all over the world have already completed the test, so why not take part in this unusual social experiment?
Cooking light
www.cookinglight.com/cooking-101... – Every cook, being human, errs, bungles, botches, and screws up in the kitchen once in a while. The creative cook can often cook her way out of a kitchen error, but the smart cook aims to prevent such creativity from being necessary. Here are 25 ways to be smarter every time.

The quest for every beard type
www.dyers.org/blog/beards/beard-%20types/ This is one hairy dude! Every winter he grows his beard, and come spring, he shaves it off, but not before attempting as many different facial hair styles as he can along the way. The list of styles so far is rather impressive, and includes such classics as the anchor, insector, Klingon and an impressive handlebar.

 

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Government to crackdown on cyber bullies: New laws to crackdown on cyber bullying are to be fast-tracked by the government. Chief coroner Judge Neil MacLean this week linked online harassment to New Zealand's high rate of youth suicide and backed the proposed law changes. Click here for more.

Smartphones to replace Snapper cards: Wellingtonians who are also customers of 2degrees should be able to tag on and off buses using the latest smartphones, as an alternative to Snapper cards, from later this week. Click here for more.

Identity service to be extended to private sector: Consumers could be using RealMe, a proof-of-identity service developed by the Government and marketed by New Zealand Post, to open bank accounts, arrange loans and deal with utilities and government agencies online, later this year. Click here for more.

Kiwi high flier in tech sector:Wellington-born super-saleswoman Geraldine McBride has chipped the glass ceiling in the business software industry by being appointed president of SAP's 12,500-strong North American business. Click here for more.

Powerful surveillance cameras can read texts: Surveillance cameras are now so powerful that they were able to zoom in on individual spectators at the Rugby World Cup and read their text messages. Click here for more.

Parents and gaming: If the results from the latest research done by the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association are anything to go by, it seems that New Zealand parents are embracing computer and video games as an educational tool. Click here for more.

Privacy Commissioner: employers seeking Facebook access: Some job applicants are being asked by potential employers to allow access to their Facebook page, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff says. Click here for more.

Young New Zealanders concerned about unauthorized access to personal information: Seventy percent of New Zealanders aged 18-34 years surveyed for the latest Unisys Security Index said they are extremely or very concerned about unauthorised access to their personal information, a result that has contributed to the highest level of overall concern reported in New Zealand since the study was launched in 2006. Click here for more.

Digital TV taken up by 84 percent of households: New Zealand television starts to switch to digital reception in less than five months – and 84 percent of households are ready for it. Click here for more.

Kiwis pay up for popular TV shows: New Zealanders are probably paying the highest prices in the world to watch hit series such as Desperate Housewives, CSI and Downton Abbey, according to Sky Television. Click here for more.

Who wants to see a rerun on television?: Sky Television's revelation that New Zealand broadcasters may be paying the highest rates in the world, per capita, for hit television series such as CSI, Downton Abbey and Desperate Housewives seems like an own goal as it faces a Commerce Commission probe. Click here for more.

What can be done about NZ TV?: In our imminent digital TV future, Sky should pay towards the production of local programmes, suggest seasoned TV watchers. Click here for more.

General

UK court tells ISPs: block Pirate Bay: Britain's High Court has ordered the country's internet service providers to block file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, the UK's main music industry association said on Monday. Click here for more.

How the mouse sees: Remember mechanical computer mice? They had a little ball underneath that had to be cleaned periodically to stop accumulated gunk from interfering with operations. Click here for more.

A window to get off the email trail: Imagine having a small window open on your desktop or smartphone where you could communicate with your project team in real time, without having to send, copy, forward, or archive emails. Click here for more.

Internet suffix expansion process delayed: The organisation in charge of expanding the number of Internet address suffixes – the ".com" part of domain names – is apologising for delays but says it's favouring "quality, not speed." Click here for more.

Online sharing, how much is too much?: Whether it is photos, personal status or unwanted comments, most Americans think people 'overshare' personal information online and a third admit not everything they post is true. Click here for more.

Alternatives to YouTube catch on: Like many musicians looking for that big break, 24-year-old Angeleno Felice Lazae turned to YouTube for years to promote her songs, and with modest success, at one point getting more than 100,000 views on her cover of an Alicia Keys hit. Click here for more.

Google vs. Bing - what's the difference?: There are other options to Google out there if you want them – but to be honest, you probably will be disappointed. Click here for more.

Jaw-dropping 121-megapixel pic of Earth: Need something to put things into perspective for you today? Suggestion: the largest single-shot photo of Earth ever taken. Click here for more.

Social Media

Should you backup your social media?: Picture this. You've created a Facebook page for your business, you're building a following and they are very engaged. They promote your business on their "walls" and "like" your posts. Or maybe you've developed a strong community on Twitter and this is driving traffic to your website and converting prospects into sales. Click here for more.

Mum fights Facebook with Facebook : When Denise Abbott's 13-year-old daughter Ava wouldn't stop talking smack and stirring up drama on Facebook, the Ohio mother decided to employ a punishment to fit the crime. Click here for more.

Marine discharged for Facebook posts : A US Marine sergeant who wrote in a Facebook post that he would not follow orders from President Barack Obama will be discharged from the military on "other than honourable" terms, a Marine spokesman says. Click here for more.

Facebook asks for organ donor status : Tired of the long wait for a new kidney, Michael Shelling, a 50-year-old video game marketing consultant based in San Diego, decided to take a more active role in the search. Click here for more.

Facebook in a facelessworld: Fathers, brothers and husbands sometimes restrict the ability of women to harness the internet and social networks. Click here for more.

Experts dislike Facebook speech ruling: A US judge has ruled that clicking the 'like' button on Facebook is not constitutionally protected speech. Click here for more.

Doubts don't slow Facebook behemoth: Facebook may be a social network but its also very much a business, and now that its going public, the company will be under the microscope of investors. Click here for more.

Twitter agrees to Do-Not-Track option: Twitter will honour requests from users who do not want their online behaviour tracked, the company said on Thursday, in contrast with Web companies such Google and Facebook whose business models rely heavily on collecting user data. Click here for more.

Why millions refuse to like Facebook: More than 900 million people worldwide check their Facebook accounts at least once a month, but millions more are Facebook holdouts. Click here for more.

Keeping your dirty laundry offline: We've all been witness to it, a relationship that you realise is going to end before the individuals themselves seem to know. Click here for more.

When does catching up become stalking?: I was feeling nostalgic, and I searched online for my college boyfriend, whom I had not spoken to in about 15 years. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

How Apple legally sidesteps billions in taxes: A published report says Apple uses subsidiaries in Ireland, the Netherlands and other low-tax nations as part of a strategy that enables the technology giant to cut its global tax bill by billions of dollars every year. Click here for more.

App to fight street harassment in New York: Exasperated by the wolf whistles and cat calls that seem to be the universal welcome for women passing construction sites? New York City is creating an app for that. Click here for more.

Review: Norton's Tablet Security for Android: With the rise of tablet computers, inevitably we're going to see viruses and malware designed to catch unprotected owners. So it makes sense to protect your investment with some form of anti-virus software. Click here for more.

Nokia accuses Apple of Siri bias over smartphone answer: The debate over "what is the best smartphone ever?" took an unexpected twist after Apple's voice-activated assistant Siri appeared to favour the iPhone's rival. Click here for more.

Copyright vs Piracy

Game of Thrones is pirates' favourite: HBO's hit series Game of Thrones looks set to become this year's most pirated TV show. Click here for more.

Russian start-up to kill peer-to-peer downloads: Russian based "Pirate Pay" could quickly find itself becoming the darling of the entertainment industry after claiming they are able to create a piracy free future. Click here for more.

Pirate Party from Germany to New Zealand: Bruce Kingsbury is in a shed full of children. They are tapping away at Facebook and free games on a mix of machines with an average age of about 8, the same as the children. Click here for more.

Dutch court bans Pirate Party links to The Pirate Bay: The Netherlands' Pirate Party has been ordered to stop publicising ways to circumvent blocks to The Pirate Bay. Click here for more.

The Pirate Bay hit by DDoS attack: File-sharing website The Pirate Bay (TPB) has been hit by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. The site has been largely inaccessible for the last 24 hours, and the service is intermittent in the UK. Click here for more.

The rise and rise of the UK Pirate Party: The UK Government's mandated ISP blockade of The Pirate Bay may be backfiring the back of increased public awareness, which is in turn generating a significant amount of interest in the UK Pirate Party. Click here for more.

RIAA wants $72 trillion from LimeWire: e Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is asking the courts to force LimeWire to cough up a staggering US$75 trillion in damages. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Google 'aware of data scoop': A Google engineer who wrote a computer program capable of collecting personal data from people's home wireless networks, told at least two other Google employees about it, although the company asserted it did not know, a US government report shows. Click here for more.

US cybersecurity bill passes in House: The US House of Representatives has passed a cybersecurity bill that would allow the government and companies to share information about hacking, but which has raised privacy concerns and a veto threat from the White House. Click here for more.

Hubbub over rights greets Google Drive : Google is already facing spasms of suspicion and confusion as it tries to persuade people to entrust their personal documents, photos and other digital content to the company's new online storage service. Click here for more.

Hacking: How Hollywood can get it wrong: Video game graphics, silly buzzwords and even two people typing frantically on the same keyboard at once - Hollywood has often had a bit of fun when it comes to computer hacking. Click here for more.

The password dilemma: Think about all the accounts you have online that require a password: email, Facebook, Twitter, Paypal, a multitude of forums, a handful of bank accounts. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

Student sells his own name on TradeMe: A cash-strapped Auckland student has started a Trade Me auction where the winning bidder will be legally allowed to give him a new middle name. 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.

English wary of broadband plan: National Party deputy leader Bill English has ruled out supporting widespread government investment in national broadband infrastructure because it would "crowd out" existing operators. Click here for more.

NZ music charts embrace legal downloads: Not before time, some might say, the official New Zealand Music Chart will begin logging sales of digital music. Click here for more.

Schoolboy scammer caught again: A schoolboy convicted of swindling some 250,000 through internet scams has been caught again despite being out on bail and banned from selling goods. Click here for more.

What is this thing called Web 2.0? It has often been said by industry watchers that time flows faster when it comes to the development of the internet. Click here for more.

Virtual holidays – not as good as the real thing: No passport is required, the flights are free and there's no carbon footprint. Gemma Bowes books a virtual package tour of cyberspace. 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 June!

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

 

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