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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 September Actrix Online Informer

Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for September 2013.

This month we feature an article on harnessing Google's full potential. There are a number of tricks and tips that'll let you find exactly what you want without having to scroll through pages and pages of irrelevant search results.

We also feature an exciting announcement from our Customer Service team about extending technical support to smart phones and tablets. These devices are becoming much more prevalent in the home, and Actrix is one of the few Internet Service Providers keeping up with the times by offering support on these devices too.

YouTube feature

This month's YouTube feature is just a wee bit disturbing. It's an original commercial for one of Remco's toys – Baby LaughAlot. Notice how even the narrator is driven mad and convulses in fits of manic laughter!

Enjoy!

Rob Zorn

Google tips and tricks

Where's the first place you go when you need to find the answer to any question?

If you said the Encyclopaedia Britannica, it's time to get with the times, because the rest of the world turns to Google.

Google is by far the most popular search engine, propelling it to become one of the world's largest companies. The name "Google" has even entered the dictionary as a verb to describe looking something up on the internet. But for all its popularity, the majority of its users don't know how to harness Google's full potential. So here are a few tips and tricks for getting more from your search engine experience.

Find exact phrases

Sometimes you might want to find a search result based on an exact phrase. By default, Google will break down your search query into individual words, and if a website contains any or all of those words, it will appear in the search results.

However, if you want to find an exact match, and have Google only display the search results with those exact words in the same exact order, put your search query in quotation marks.

For example, I was recently listening to the radio and heard a song I liked but had never heard before. I wanted to find out what the song was called so typed in just a single line of the song, ("No more turning away from the weak and the weary"). Using quotes meant Google would only return search results that contained the word "lyrics" and an exact copy of "No more turning away from the weak and the weary". Turns out it's by Pink Floyd.

Get the local time, anywhere

This one's nice and simple – just type "what is the time in Hawaii", and above all the search results, a small box appears with the exact time and date. You can try it anywhere, including suburbs too.

The Concise Google Dictionary

Google can also be used as a dictionary. If you want to know the meaning of a word, just type "define" and then whatever word you want, and Google will define it for you. And just like any good dictionary, it gives you a pronunciation key, the type of word it is, and a range of different definitions.

Search a specific site

Sometimes you know the information you're after is somewhere on a specific website, but you don't know where. And if that site doesn't have a search function, that makes it even harder to find.

Google actually lets you set a specific website you'd like to search. Then you'll only get results contained on that site. To do this, type the search term you're looking for, followed by "site:www.stuff.co.nz". In this case, you'll only get search results that show where those terms are contained on the Stuff website. You can replace "www.stuff.co.nz" with any website you like.

Related image search

Something we discovered while researching for this article is a related image search. This feature lets you search the entire internet for a specific image. Google will also analyse the image for you, and offer you a selection of images that are very similar to yours.

To use this feature, go to Google Images, and drag an image from your computer to the search box.

Actrix Customer Services support for smart phones and tablets

Actrix is proud to offer extended Customer Services capability around smart phones and tablets as these devices become more prevalent in the home. It has been a defined plan of Actrix to continue to meet growing customer demand in providing core support for new online devices.

Bernie Wong She, Head of Customer Services, said, "We sensed some customers needed help to have these devices set up properly and to talk to someone whom they could trust if they ran into difficulties."

The way the Internet is being accessed is changing significantly and is paralleled by the growth in the number of online devices per household. The BBC released these interesting findings last month around the use of Internet in homes in the UK:

  • the rise of smart phones and tablets was bringing teens out of their bedrooms and back into family rooms
  • most people now multi-tasked in front of TV using the portable devices available, further fuelled by the quality of larger TV's with better viewing capabilities
  • more than 50 percent of TV watchers would distract themselves from the TV with texting, phone calls, social media or even watching YouTube and other online streaming sites
  • women were more likely to multi task while watching TV
  • approximately 50 percent of adults in the UK now have a smart phone: up from 27 percent just 2 years ago. Tablets have doubled from 11 percent to 24 percent in 12 months
  • 20 percent of UK homes have more than 6 devices which are connecting to the internet
  • 85 percent of tablet owners keep the device at home, and 91% of parents said their children use a tablet at some stage.

Actrix sees these trends as closely aligned to the experiences of Actrix customers in New Zealand.

While many ISP's still only provide support for their modem and the broadband connection, Actrix looks at the requirement from the customer's perspective. What we believe our customers are after is their devices connected seamlessly and for someone to be available to walk them through how they all work should they require help and guidance. "We have noticed many of our customers are not familiar with these new devices and with our help can quickly become confident in how to use them," says Bernie.

For assistance with your smart phone or tablet please contact Actrix Customer Services – 0800 ACTRIX.

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!

Tree octopus
http://zapatopi.net/treeoctopus – This site is dedicated to saving the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. Unlike its water-dwelling ancestors, this unusual species prefers to live in trees in North America. The site has some great photos and videos of actual sightings of the creature, as well as a list of things you can do to help prevent the tree octopus from becoming extinct.
What's your Chinese name?
www.mandarintools.com/chinesename.html – Ever wondered what your name would be had you been born to Chinese parents? This neat site explains how Chinese names are structured, what the different characters mean, and even lets you create your own name in Chinese. It also tells you a little about the year you were born and why that's significant.
The history of Pong
www.pong-story.com/intro.htm – Pong was one of the first video games ever to be created, and still remains a timeless classic. Based on Tennis, the objective is to move your stick, or 'paddle', to prevent the ball passing your side of the screen. This site describes the game's origins, and also explores how Pong led to the popularity of video games today.
The MegaPenny Project
www.kokogiak.com/megapenny/default.asp – Visualizing huge numbers can be very difficult. People regularly talk about millions of miles, billions of bytes, or trillions of dollars, yet it's still hard to grasp just how much a "billion" really is. The MegaPenny Project aims to help by taking one small everyday item, the United States penny, and building on that to answer the question: "What would a billion (or a trillion) pennies look like?"
Road signs: Men at Work
www.elve.net/rmen02.htm – Chances are you drive past a road-work sign every day, but have you ever actually taken the time to inspect the signs properly? This site has collected images of all sorts of road working signs from all around the world, and even goes into a little detail about which countries have stolen designs from other countries for their own signs.
Literal answers to rhetorical questions
http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/gradgrind.html – People commonly ask empty rhetorical questions that rarely receive any sort of sensible answer. When you have had your surfeit of poetical whimsy and are ready for some good, hard facts, come here to be set straight. The world would be much improved if those engaging in windy musings were more often brought up short by a nice, sharp definition or a pointed rebuke.
A bit of algorithmic boogie-boogie
www.langston.com/psl-bin/Compose.cgi – When you access this neat site, it scans your IP address and converts those numbers into musical score. You can listen to your very own custom-written piece of music, which is also given a rating on its energy and predictability. The site even gives you a chord chart, so you can play along to the music at home.
Unclaimed Baggage
http://unclaimedbaggage.com – Nearly 45 years ago, one clever man discovered he could buy unclaimed baggage from airlines, train companies and coaches. After making a hefty profit by selling the stuff, he decided to quit his job and sell unclaimed baggage full time. Now his sons have taken over the business, which is booming. There are some interesting stories here, and some unusual items that have been left behind.

The Pencil Pages
http://pencilpages.com – The Pencil Pages have become a resource not only for pencil collectors or enthusiasts, but many others who have an interest in information related in some way to pencils. Its online curator claims to have been contacted by historians, authors, artists, museum curators, movie producers, archaeologists, scientific journals, government officials, reporters, publishers, pencil makers and many others seeking pencil-related information, but we think he might just be making that up.

Animal Astronauts
http://ham.space.umn.edu/kris/animals.html – This site is dedicated to our furry friends who have risked life and paw to make the journey into space. Flicking through the lists, it looks like the Russians preferred to send dogs, while the United States preferred monkeys. And that's about the most interesting thing we could find on this site.

Cyberspace news snippets

What's been happening in the online world?

New Zealand

Kiwis suffer $4.4m internet fraud losses: A handful of New Zealanders have been blackmailed over the past few months after taking part in "naked video chat sessions" with overseas fraudsters, says cyber-safety organisation Netsafe. Click here for more.

New sub-sea internet cable by 2015?: A plan to lay a new $350 million submarine communications cable linking New Zealand, Australia and several Pacific Islands to the United States has taken a step forward. Click here for more.

Google 'Trekker' hits Abel Tasman track: Aliens have not invaded the Abel Tasman National Park - that ET-looking figure is a Google Trekker. Click here for more.

'Google' fraud probe: New Zealand-based GoogleDirectory lists thousands of companies – but there's no link to the internet giant and now the police are involved. Click here for more.

PlayStation 4's NZ release date confirmed: The PlayStation 4 will be released in New Zealand on November 29, it has been confirmed. Click here for more.

Business loses $18k in email intercept scam: New Zealand companies are being warned of a new business to business email intercept scam after one Auckland business was defrauded of more than $18,000 in their payment for supplies to a South Korean company. Click here for more.

General

Why you shouldn't trust internet comments: The "wisdom of crowds" has become a mantra of the internet age. Click here for more.

Google Maps introduces ads: Google Maps, one of the most popular apps on all Android and iPhone devices, has succumbed to the pressures of the marketplace. Click here for more.

More kids being injured by falling TVs: A US study has found children are now twice as likely to be squashed by a falling TV than 20 years ago. Click here for more.

London bins track you via smartphone: Remember the "smart" rubbish bins that popped up around London a few years ago? Click here for more.

UK bars 'spy-bins' from tracking people: Officials have demanded that an advertising firm stop using a network of high-tech trash cans to track people walking through London's financial district. Click here for more.

Google buys patents on virtual image tech: Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry said it sold Google part of a patent portfolio involving the superimposition of virtual images on real-world photos. Click here for more.

Ballmer retires as Microsoft struggles: Steve Ballmer, a passionate salesman who has been a central figure at Microsoft for more than three decades, unexpectedly announced his retirement as chief executive on Friday, ending a controversial 13-year reign in which the world's largest software company lost its position as the dominant force in computing. Click here for more.

Internet age sparks digital disorders: The morning's topic glowed on a big screen: Social Media Burn-out. Click here for more.

Social Media

Facebook to buy voice recognition app maker: Facebook plans to buy the maker of a speech recognition and language translation app, providing technology that could bolster the social networking company's mobile efforts. Click here for more.

Likes create 'herding' effect, study finds: Positive opinions are more influential than negative ones, at least on the internet. Click here for more.

Hanging out in style: Skype has a huge hold over video calling. It is becoming a verb - you "skype" someone just as you "google" something. Click here for more.

Twitter apologises to Aussie trolling victim: Twitter has apologised and is set to discuss trolling with Australian police after a Sydney woman endured weeks of horrific threats from fans of the rapper, Tyler Okonma. Click here for more.

My friends don't use Facebook: I'm a teenager living in New York. All of my friends have social networks - Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, etc. Facebook used to be all I could talk about when I was younger. Click here for more.

YouTubers log off briefly to delight fans: Video killed the radio star, the '80s song goes but the star-power of today's most popular YouTube performers translated easily to real-life appearances in Sydney on Sunday. Click here for more.

LinkedIn to open service for high schoolers: LinkedIn will soon open up its online professional networking service to high school students as part of an effort to help steer their collegiate careers. Click here for more.

Virus targets social networks in new fraud twist: In the world of cyber fraud, a fake fan on Instagram can be worth five times more than a stolen credit card number. Click here for more.

Beyonce can spell, Justin Bieber kant: In Twitter's music realm, Beyoncé wins the spelling bee. The worst, grammatically tweeting? DJ Pauly D, along with Snoop Dogg, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj. Click here for more.

Why I hacked Mark Zuckerberg: Nothing is supposed to show up on your Facebook Wall unless it's posted by you or your friends. Click here for more.

Antisocial networking the new cool: There's an assumption that young people are always connected and online, but while most of us certainly know how to use social media, the glamour has well and truly worn off. Click here for more.

Four things to remember on social media: What can seem like a harmless comment among friends or an innocent "status update" about the fun you are having when really you should have been at work, can end in disaster. Click here for more.

Social media has security analysts worried: Mike Fey, chief of technology at cybersecurity giant McAfee, recently asked a classroom of young kids if they knew their parents' online passwords. Click here for more.

Buzzers are not heard, but tweet for money: In Indonesia's capital Jakarta, a buzzer is not an alarm or a bell, but someone with a Twitter account and more than 2000 followers who is paid to tweet. Click here for more.

Millions of images for Facebook: Facebook is fast becoming a one-stop-shop media company offering services for advertisers. Click here for more.

Apple and Android

Apple wins patent battle: Some older Samsung Electronics Co. mobile devices face a sales and import ban in the United States after a U.S. trade panel ruled for Apple Inc. in a high-profile patent infringement case. Click here for more.

Apple to unveil thinner iPad model: Apple is preparing to introduce a new, thinner iPad, sources familiar with the plans say, as the company works to stay atop the increasingly crowded tablet- computer market. Click here for more.

Launch of the new iPhone is nigh: If you're a fan of Apple, mark September 10 on your calendar. That's when the company is reportedly unveiling the next iPhone. Click here for more.

Apple launches charger trade-in programme: Apple iPhone users answering their smartphone while it's plugged in to the mains using third-party or counterfeit mains chargers are at risk of electrocution, techday.com has reported. Click here for more.

Is the new iPhone gold?: Full disclosure: We've been seeing the gold iPhone rumours for weeks now but have largely been brushing them aside. Click here for more.

Apple battles scope of e-books injunction: The United States offered to ease the terms of a proposed civil injunction against Apple for conspiring to raise e-book prices, but the company said the revised proposal is still designed to "inflict punishment" and must be rejected. Click here for more.

Smart app follows cats: When his mum's cat went missing, Wellington designer Zach Freiberg wanted to help, so he created a feline-tracking smartphone app. Click here for more.

Copyright vs Piracy

Pirate Bay celebrates 10 years with new browser: File sharing site The Pirate Bay set sail 10 years ago. While the site and its founders have had plenty of legal trouble along the way, like Keith Richards, they refuse to abandon ship. Click here for more.

Slimmer's anger over weight-loss site's fraud: A woman is outraged that personal photos chronicling her weight loss have been used without her permission in an online advertisement to promote a slimming drug because it "makes a mockery" of her journey. Click here for more.

Security and Safety

Dotcom's 'cutting edge' encrypted email: When the government came knocking because Edward Snowden used Lavabit's encrypted email service, it did the sensible thing and shut itself down. Click here for more.

Can corporate suicide stop the NSA?: When the US government orders a communications company to give up its data, the firm has two basic choices: resist, and risk its leaders going to jail, or comply, and break faith with its customers. Click here for more.

Not guilty plea in biggest US hacking case: A Russian man accused of being part of the largest cybercrime ring ever prosecuted in the United States has pleaded not guilty to charges that could send him to prison for decades. Click here for more.

Dalai Lama's Chinese site infecting visitors: A prominent computer security firm has warned that the Dalai Lama's Chinese-language website has been compromised with malicious software that is infecting computers of visitors with software that could be used for spying on its visitors. Click here for more.

NSA to cut administrators by 90 per cent: The National Security Agency, hit by disclosures of classified data by former contractor Edward Snowden, said it intends to eliminate about 90 per cent of its system administrators to reduce the number of people with access to secret information. Click here for more.

Aussie service finds, destroys stolen info: An Australian IT security firm has promised to alert clients to their stolen private information being found on the internet almost as quickly as it is posted. Click here for more.

Google patents system for tracking what you see: If we're all going to be wearing internet-connected headsets in the future, why not charge advertisers for what we see, and how it makes us feel? Click here for more.

UK destroys Guardian drives over Snowden: British government officials ordered the destruction of hard drives at the Guardian offices in London that purportedly contained information relating to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger has revealed. Click here for more.

China censors critical bloggers on Sina Weibo: Bestselling Chinese author Murong Xuecun had 4 million followers on his Twitter-like microblog when his account mysteriously disappeared in May. Click here for more.

Officials defend GCSB web secrecy: Ministers could use powers granted under proposed new spy laws to compel internet companies to provide technical assistance to the Government Communications Security Bureau, and no-one might ever know, officials have confirmed. Click here for more.

Google knows what you're doing tomorrow: Google has taken the next step in its transformation from a web-search engine to the Star Trek computer. Click here for more.

Two-factor authentication: double or nothing: We've long been told that choosing "strong" passwords is the key to online security. Click here for more.

NSA 'bugged UN headquarters': The US National Security Agency has bugged the United Nations' New York headquarters, Germany's Der Spiegel weekly says in a report on US spying that could further strain relations between Washington and its allies. Click here for more.

Cyber crime experts warn of security issues: Smartphone and tablet users are unwittingly sharing their personal data with strangers, including cyber criminals who could use it to go on an online buying spree, police warn. Click here for more.

The Weird, Wide Web

20 injured at LG promotion gone wrong: LG might want to consider making its next smartphone bulletproof after 20 people were reportedly injured by BB guns in a publicity stunt for its latest handset. Click here for more.

Chubby Checker can sue HP over genital app: The musician famous for the Twist dance style can sue Hewlett Packard over allegations that the tech company used his trademarked name "Chubby Checker" on a software app that purports to measure a man's genitals. Click here for more.

Boyfriend Tracker app raises stir in Brazil: Brazilians were outraged when they learned their country was a top target of the US National Security Agency's overseas spying operation, with data from billions of calls and emails swept up in Washington's top secret surveillance program. 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.

Fake doctor's notes for sale over internet: Workers who pull a sickie are buying fake medical certificates over the internet in the name of their doctor. The site sells "professional-looking" fake notes and certificates from New Zealand general practitioners, "on official doctor's notepaper, with a doctor's stamp". Click here for more.

Life without Web virtually impossible: Studies have revealed our love-hate relationship with the Internet, with most unable to imagine life without it – except for the 16 percent who have never ventured online. Click here for more.

Kiwi children becoming 'complicit sex victims' online: New Zealand children as young as 12 are willingly sending inappropriate images of themselves to adults contacted on the internet, a conference has been told. Click here for more.

Google snaps liars, cheaters and slackers: A day after its launch, Google's Australian Street View has already uncovered a lying neighbour, sprung a cheating spouse and snapped a man sleeping on the job, as armchair explorers pick apart the invasive new mapping tool. Click here for more.

F-word gets Whakatane censored in cyberspace: The pronunciation of "Whakatane" and its close proximity to the offensive F-word word has seen the town censored in cyberspace. A visiting tourist was astounded that he could not search for "Whakatane" on the district council's own online service, because the word was considered vulgar. 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 September,

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

 

Copyright © 2013 Actrix Networks Limited | Contact: editor@actrix.co.nz