Actrix Online Informer – July 2016
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.
Welcome to the June Actrix Online Informer
Welcome to the Actrix Online Informer for June 2016. This month we explore a few ways you can offer your computer of Mac a health check, and get it running at a reasonably good speed again.
Our second feature article is a list of apps for Android and iPhone that the whole family will either enjoy or find incredibly useful.
In this month's YouTube feature, we learn what happens when you tip a tonne of Mentos into a swimming pool full of Coca Cola. You probably already know that coke tends to go a little crazy when you drop a Mentos into a bottle, but we doubt you've seen what happens when a billion are dropped into a Coke swimming pool.
The wait is over: boosting the speed of your PC and Mac with a few easy quick-tips
Nobody has time to sit there waiting for their computer to get its act together. Whether you're waiting for your PC or Mac to start up, loading a browser, or starting a program, these tips should help speed things up for all those suffering with slow computers.
Keep it fresh
Yes, you really do need to install those updates your computer keeps nagging you about. Keep all your software up to date, including web browsers, printers, application drivers (such as the drivers that allow you the use of your mouse and keyboard), anti-virus software, and then of course the computer itself.
Clean up those cookies
Upon visiting a web page, your browser will automatically store (or 'cache') small files temporarily on your computer. You can track down these files in your Temporary Internet Files folder. Cookies on the other hand are small snippets of information regarding your personal details and browsing history.
With time, either of these seemingly small pieces of information and the processes in which they are stored can put unnecessary weight on your computer. In the settings menu of your browser you should have the option to clear your browsing data, clear your cache, and/or clear cookies.
Shut down those startups
How fast your computer starts up depends on several matters, one of which is the number of programs that are scheduled to start up when you first turn your computer on. Because so many of these programs start running invisibly in the background, you'll find that the startup time becomes increasingly longer over the lifespan of your computer. Sometimes programs can even crash if you start them too early. Not cool.
Disable these by searching 'startup options' in the start box and following the prompts. Be careful which programs you give permission to start upon turning on your computer in future when installing them for the first time.
Do a regular Disk Cleanup
Disk Cleanup finds and then removes temporary files on your computer; files which you might not know are no longer needed. If you have more than one drive or partition on your computer, you will be prompted to choose which drive you want Disk Cleanup to clean.
In File Explorer right-click the hard drive you wish to perform a Disk Cleanup on, and go to properties. You should see a Disk Cleanup button beside a circle/pie shaped diagram referring to the disk space of your selected drive. Click this and follow the prompts.
Bloatware no more
If you take a good look through the array of programs installed on your computer, there's a good chance you'll find several that you have yet to use (and probably have no desire to in future). These can typically be bloatware, and you can easily uninstall by right-clicking the necessary culprits and following the prompts.
Keep an eye out for those pesky add-ons such as extra web toolbars and unwanted anti-virus software; the kind you generally don't realise you're receiving with some downloads. These can be smartly deleted, but you should always be careful to read and understand what you are ticking and receiving when downloading or installing new software.
Six practical apps for the modern Kiwi family
With so many apps on the marked (both paid and free) it is almost inevitable that we will each of us spend an unnecessarily painful amount of time trialling various apps until we find one that performs as it says in the description. Let us do a little of the hard work for you. We have a brilliant little collection of highly practical, no-fuss apps ready to make your life easier with a single download. The kind that will end up comfortably seated on your home screen.
MMGuardian Parental Control (iPhone & Android)
As the title suggests, this is a highly effective parental control app that allows you to protect your child's phone directly from your own. MMGuardian offers you the option to block incoming calls and texts, keep an eye on suspicious or hateful texts, and control which apps can be used and when on your child's smartphone.
In emergency circumstances, you are also able to lock your child's phone entirely with a single text message.
There are a myriad of other options for personalising the restrictions placed on your child's phone. You can opt to receive a daily report on their phone usage too, which means no more expensive cell phone bills for you.
Locale (Android only)
This app is for those of us who have found ourselves caught in the awkward position of having our cell phones beeping at us during a meeting, movie, or Church service.
Essentially, Locale uses AI to manage your sound settings. From there it can automatically adjust your volume depending on your location (among other things). Set things up once and forget about it. Arrive at work and waltz into the meeting with peace of mind as Locale sets your phone to vibrate, switches on the wifi, and temporarily changes your wallpaper to a generic nature photo (instead of that hilarious snapshot of you and your friends/family at the costume party).
Crossy Road (iPhone & Android)
Join over 120 MILLION players worldwide in playing what is possibly the most fun game ever to grace a mobile phone: Crossy Road. Hipster Whale's classic touch screen game went viral this year, and was reigning supreme at first place on the Google Games list!
Crossy Roads allows you to play as a pixelated little chicken hopping across a road whilst avoiding trucks, cars, and birds of prey. It's genius in its pure simplicity, and it provides a satisfactory amount of fun for however long you choose to play. This game is perfect for adding a little joy to all the short waits you endure daily. Waiting for a bus? Waiting for a friend while they use the bathroom? Got angsty kids who need a pastime to keep them happy during the road trip?
Have a couple of games of Crossy Road.
OurGroceries (iPhone & Android)
Never forget the milk again.
Be kept updated automatically with a grocery list synced instantaneously between yourself and your partner. Add or subtract items on the list at a whim between yourself and all others included in your grocery group.
In addition to providing a totally practical shopping list application, OurGrocieries sets helpful reminders and alerts when items have been updates. Check off your items as you shop to let all interested parties know the food is in the bag!
The app also works in a web browser, so you can send your shopping list from your laptop to your phone instantly.
Indeed (iPhone & Android)
Find jobs using Indeed, the most comprehensive search engine for jobs.
Whether you're on the hunt for a job or you're listing one, you definitely need Indeed. This single application harvests listings from various companies and job boards such as Seek and TradeMe, and it compiles them for you when you apply simple keyword search.
As some job listings can often present misleading titles, Indeed allows you to search by skill rather than title. For example, a graphic designer might search 'Adobe Suite', and find themselves an admin job featuring some Adobe work rather than a specific graphic design role (which might be harder to obtain). You can save your searches to be notified about new listings at leisure.
Indeed also allows users to list jobs too. It's an excellent all-rounder!
My Fitness Pal (iPhone & Android)
Unlike your typical fitness app that focuses solely on how many squats you did this morning, My Fitness Pal is a brilliant tool that offers you nutritional awareness and helps you achieve totally achievable diet plans.
The app comes loaded with a huge library of food information. Basically any item you pick up at your local Kiwi grocery store will be sitting in your app, and portions are impressively practical in their customisability.
Enter in a few of your measurements and apply them to a goal (weight or simply improved nutrition) and My Fitness Pal will do the math for you. All you have to do is enter what you eat!
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?
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Cyberspace news snippets
What's been happening in the online world?
We asked Snapchat, what's it like growing up in New Zealand?: Snapchatters shared their views on growing up Kiwi, as part of the School Report series. Click here for more.
New global help desk for technology sector could create 300 jobs in Wellington: Over the next two years up to 300 jobs will be created at a new global call centre in central Wellington, believed to be in office space in the Old Bank Arcade. Click here for more.
Woosh Wireless internet gets the cut: Woosh Wireless will turn off its internet services to Southland on Friday. In October last year, Woosh Wireless said it would cut down operations in New Zealand and continue service to rural Southland. Click here for more.
NCEA pathways made clearer with new Massey Uni credit-tracking app: Massey University staff member Julian Rosser, who headed the team that developed the NCEA Credsta credit calculator app. Click here for more.
InternetNZ encourages broadband shoppers to look under the hood: Different prices, quality and policies mean it's easy to get in a tangle comparing broadband services. Click here for more.
Google Maps removes clouds, clears up view in 700-trillion pixel upgrade: Google Maps has had a colossal, 700 trillion-pixel makeover, introducing cloudless maps and high-resolution imagery for more than 1 billion monthly users. Click here for more.
In its quest to devour the web, Google's killing the sites that serve up song lyrics: The search giant/plundering tech carnivore has inked a multi-year deal with the licensing clearinghouse LyricFind, which will let the search giant display the full song lyrics for millions of artists in a "knowledge box" module at the top of the search page. Click here for more.
See You Skype: 8 Alternatives That Are Worth the Hype: Skype might be good enough for your Grandma, but can it really be trusted for your business communications? Click here for more.
Grieving family dealing with the loss of mum and social media backlash: Strickett-Craze's uncle Warren Strickett said it had also been a harrowing week for his sister Erica Strickett, Hannah's mother. The family's grief has not been helped by some of the comments being made on social media, he said. Click here for more.
Florida shooting: Why I quit social media, leaving behind 50,000 followers: I used social media pretty well. I strategically built a Twitter following of over 50,000. My LinkedIn has 2500. I kept my Facebook for people I had met, liked and wanted to stay in touch with. Click here for more.
Facebook news feed changes to rank posts from friends and family above 'liked' pages: Facebook will make changes to its news feed rankings, highlighting posts from friends and family over those from publishers and brand pages that users have "liked". Click here for more.
Block NZ use Facebook to hire minimum-wage tradies: Registered Master Builders NZ say an advert from one of the competing teams on The Block NZ seeking tradies to work for minimum wage offers "a very low rate". Click here for more.
Facebook increasingly a part of the Taranaki criminal's toolkit: The use of Facebook has been linked to at least three cases which have been before the New Plymouth District Court in recent weeks. Click here for more.
Apple vs. Android vs. Amazon vs. Microsoft
Microsoft readies Windows 10 update: The first-year anniversary of the Windows 10 launch is still about a month away but the next major iteration of the company's operating system is coming soon. Click here for more.
Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft won't be biggest in 20 years: Top VC: America's most valuable technology firms such as Microsoft and Google are unlikely to maintain their leading positions in the next 20 years, a top Silicon Valley venture capitalist and former Apple executive has warned. Click here for more.
Privacy / Security
How to protect your data in hotels, airports and other public spaces when travelling: Some hackers are employing hard-to-notice tactics to steal your information from public places. Click here for more.
The best encryption apps for your smartphone: The topic of smartphone security and secure communication is front and centre these days, thanks to the battle between Apple and the FBI over opening up an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, mass shooters. Click here for more.
Apple, Android, BlackBerry phones: Which is more vulnerable to hackers? "The tech industry tries to build the most secure products possible," says Harvey Anderson, chief legal officer at computer security company AVG Technologies. There's no real way for consumers to protect themselves against the privacy concerns raised by possible government-mandated backdoors in mainstream phones on the market today. Click here for more.
The Weird, Wide Web
What's wrong with the web and do we need to fix it?: There are three main problems with the web: openness; censorship; and archiving of information. Click here for more.
Meet the internet's 'greatest liar' whose hoaxes have fooled millions: You would think that, after two decades, Tommaso Debenedetti would have tired of hoaxes. Click here for more.
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.
Kiwi kids flock to Facebook: Two-thirds of New Zealand children aged six to nine are using social networking sites for kids, according to a survey. Click here for more.
'Tupac alive in NZ' – hackers hoax US website: PBS officials say hackers have cracked the network's website, posting a phony story claiming dead rapper Tupac Shakur was alive in New Zealand, and a group that claimed responsibility for the hacking complained about a recent "Frontline" investigative news programme on WikiLeaks. Click here for more.
Darby in anti-piracy ad backlash: Rhys Darby has posted a statement saying he does not support the government's controversial copyright law change. Click here for more.
Editorial: New copyright law deserves to get a fair go: It is understandable that the Commerce Minister responded somewhat tartly to United Nations criticism of internet copyright legislation that will take effect in September. Click here for more.
Govt refuses to budge on internet law: The Government says it will not alter its internet copyright legislation, despite UN criticism that such laws are an attack on human rights. Click here for more.
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