Welcome to the Actrix Newsletter November 1999

This newsletter has been produced to help you get the most out of the Internet and to keep you, as an Actrix customer, informed of developments and services within the company.
Questions and comments about the newsletter can be emailed to editor@actrix.co.nz
Other inquiries should be emailed to support@actrix.co.nz

Past newsletters may be accessed at http://editor.actrix.gen.nz/newsletters/

Internet Code of Practice

I wonder how many of our customers are aware that there is a New Zealand Internet Code of Practice.

This code was developed and administered by the Internet Society of New Zealand (ISOCNZ) of which Actrix was a founding member. In fact our very own senior technician, John Vorstermans, was instrumental in drawing up the draft code, co-ordinating input from ourselves, fellow ISP's

and other groups and companies with an interest in the Internet. He currently still chairs the Technology Committee.

Actrix is proud of its early involvement with the Internet Society of New Zealand (ISOCNZ) and of its status as a founding signatory of the Code of Practice. We believe it demonstrates a commitment to high standards as well as an early perception of the power of the Internet, and its need for self-regulation and responsible use. It is our hope that all ISP's in New Zealand will one day be signatories to the Code of Practice.

Our policy at Actrix is that the Internet should be available and open to all New Zealanders so that everyone can benefit and be enriched by its international communications and information potential. Wherever there is potential for use, however, there is also potential for abuse, and we believe it is incumbent upon Internet Service Providers to acknowledge the need for regulation. Freedom of speech, of course, is an important right that ought to be protected. At the same time we believe that adult, or any potentially harmful sites, should operate within responsible guidelines that protect the young or impressionable. It was acknowledgement of such responsibilities that led Actrix and others within the industry to develop the Code of Practice.

You can view the Code of Practice at http://www.isocnz.org.nz/code.htm or you can click the golden link here or on our initial homepage. The Code of Practice defines objectionable material, outlines complaints and disputes procedures and provides further information about Internet standards of conduct.
The Internet Society of New Zealand also provide "12 Commandments" of Internet use that explain your rights and responsibilities as an internet user and which also give "netiquette" guidelines. You can view these "Twelve Commandments" at http://www.isocnz.org.nz/principl.htm.

Lastly, Actrix customers concerned with restricting what those in their care can see or visit on the Internet should pay particular attention to the Content Control article included in this newsletter.
The Ongoing Y2K Saga- Checking Your Software

In the last issue of this newsletter we looked fairly briefly at ways in which you could test and fix or replace your computer's BIOS. It was good to get feedback from customers, most of whom were able to run the BIOS testing program successfully. For those who had trouble running "Norton 2000 Test and Fix" we have added a second and simpler test program called "CTBIOS" that you might like to try.

An equally important aspect of this whole Y2K drama that has to be addressed is the compatibility of your software. Even if your BIOS is fixed and Y2K compliant, some of your software may still have problems recognising the year 2000.

My first recommendation would be for you to see that you have the latest version of everything possible. Even if you do, however, it would be sensible to check the websites of your various programs for any Y2K statements, patches or downloadable "fixes."

Users of Internet Explorer 3 or 4 will especially need to do this, as will users of early versions of Netscape. Microsoft has released a Year 2000 Product Analyzer which is a small program you can download and install which will scan and report on any Microsoft products resident on your hard drive. It only works on Windows 95/98 or NT however.

It is fairly easy to determine which version you are using for just about any program made to work with Windows. Open the program, click on Help, and then select "About."

To summarise:
  • Please visit and work through our Y2K pages. These can be accessed via Customer Services at our web site. Click on the Y2K Project logo. We provide a number of useful tips and links.
  • Replace your browser with the very latest version possible by using the download links provided courtesy of Actrix.
  • Check the web sites for each and every program you use, no matter who produced it, and download any patches or "fixes" or follow any other described procedures for checking your software.
  • See the Useful Downloads section of this newsletter if you anticipate having trouble downloading large files.

Lastly, the inevitable disclaimer: The links to the programs and pages we provide are just that. How well these analyzers and fixers actually work when the year 2000 rolls in is fully the responsibility of those who produced them.

Content Control

If you are concerned about what may be able to be viewed on the internet with your computer, there are a number of things you can do.

Firstly, if you use Internet Explorer 4 or 5 you can set the content option of your browser to exclude such things as nudity, offensive language, violence or sexual content to various levels, but it will only work for sites that have agreed to be rated by The Recreational Software Advisory Council on the Internet. You can learn more about the RSACI at

http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html.

To set your content option go to Start/Settings/Control Panel/Internet or Internet Options/Content and click Enable. For Mac users the path is Edit/Preferences/Web/Browser/ Ratings. You can then set the content controls to the level you require and protect your settings with a password.

Secondly, there are a number of content control programs you could try. NetNanny sells for around $21US, but a fully workable demonstration version can be downloaded from

http://www.netnanny.com/.

Click on the Evaluation tab. NetNanny is well-supported with plenty of information available at their website on how it is to be used and installed.


Cyber Patrol sells for around $30US, but again, a free trial version is available from

http://www.cyberpatrol.com.

Cyber Patrol is also well-supported by its web site.

If you're concerned about content control you may want to familiarise yourselves with these sites and download the trial versions for evaluation.

Helpdesk News

The Actrix Helpdesk is open 24 hours a day during the week and until 10:30 p.m. during weekends. The Helpdesk is there to help you with such things as connection and set-up problems, and it can also handle most account inquiries. You can email the helpdesk at:

support@actrix.co.nz

or you can phone the helpdesk on:

8019922 (Wellington)
0800228749 (Nationwide)

The helpdesk will be closed on Christmas  Day and Boxing Day, but will be open on New Year's Eve.

Useful Sites and Downloads

Each month we hope to bring to your attention one or two sites which we believe provide either information or downloads that will be useful to you as our customers.

It should be noted, however, that while we are happy to bring these sites and programs to your attention as part of our service to you, we cannot take responsibility for them; nor can we support them from the Actrix helpdesk.

Download Facilitator Programs
Headlight Software have produced a program called "GetRight." It is available for Windows users (95/98/nt/3.1) at http://www.getright.com/. When downloaded and installed it
automatically takes over whenever you set your browser to download a program from the Internet. The beauty of "GetRight" is that it will allow your browser to resume a download that times out or has been interrupted for some reason, even if your computer has had to shut down. The file is almost 2 megabytes in size, but those who are not confident that their browsers can handle such an operation can download the "GetRight" Setup Loader (182kb) which is available at http://www.getright.com/setuploader.html.

There is plenty of "How to" information at the "GetRight" site and the program claims to be Y2K compliant. I have used it successfully though I have not tested the Setup Loader. "GetRight" is shareware which means that while it can be downloaded free of charge, people who use it regularly are asked to pay for it. Another download manager that is completely free (providing you don't mind advertising popups while you download) is available at http://www.netvampire.com/. I am not at all familiar with this program, however.

30 Days Free Encyclopaedia Britannica

Encyclopaedia Britannica has been on the Internet for a good number of years. These days it is available to subscribers at $5US ($9NZ-$10NZ) per month. The Encyclopaedia Britannica sites (http://www.eb.com/ and http://www.britannica.com/) are worth checking out however, especially when you need to find good information fast. There are a number of free search
features that turn up fairly detailed information on a chosen topic at the http://www.britannica.com/ site. At present they are also offering a free 30 day subscription at http://www.eb.com/.
Technical News

Main changes this month have been the upgrading of the hardware that our authentication server runs on. This should result in faster username and password verification when dialing into Actrix.

Last month we reported that we had upgraded our Wellington firmware to enhance modem compatibility on the 0867 numbers. We are pleased to announce that similar upgrades have now taken place in Auckland and Christchurch.

Currently we are in the process of upgrading the hardware for our Web, NT, Unix and Mail Servers in order to be sure we can keep up with future demands.

Norrie the Nerd Fears No Challenge!

Here at Actrix we reckon we have some of the best technical and support people in the world. In fact, our "techo" Norrie says he is the best, but our humility prevents us publicising that too widely.

Norrie, however, doesn't know all that much about humility and that's why he's willing to take the world on. He is laying down the challenge to anyone who thinks they might be a bigger nerd than he is.

In short, the challenge is that if you can stump Norrie

Sign a Friend and Receive a Credit!

If you have friends that are interested in connecting to the internet, you can refer them to Actrix and earn yourself a credit on your Actrix account. It's simple; for every friend that you sign up with us, we will credit your account with the value of their first monthly bill.

If you sign a friend onto our Dialup 1 plan, you will get a credit of $7.95. If your friend signs onto Dialup 2, you will receive a credit of $34.95. You can sign up as many friends as you like - provided they are new customers to Actrix. So when your friend pays their first monthly bill, we will credit your account at the beginning of your next billing period.

Actrix reserves the right to withdraw your credit if the friend's account is not maintained over a period of 3 months.

To sign a friend, he or she can either go to the Sign Up page (under Products and Hardware on our main page) or your friend can call us and we will sign them up over the phone. In each case they will need to let us know YOUR username (e.g "username@actrix.co.nz"), otherwise the credit can't be given.

                           

with a technical question, then Actrix will send to you a mystery prize of a six-pack of chocolate fish. Yes, we really and truly will because we have that much confidence in Norrie the Nerd. As you can see, the mystery concerning this prize has more to do with why on earth Actrix would choose chocolate fish than it has to do
with the actual nature of the prize. Some things are  best just accepted for what they are.

The Rules of the Challenge:

1. Norrie the Nerd will only accept challenging questions that are internet related, problem related, and which have to do with servers, computers and anywhere in between. An example might be a changed setting that produces some bizarre result, though we warn you that Norrie is extremely good at bizarre results. Norrie will not comment on politics, tell you how to vote on Saturday or explain why Telecom do the things they do.

2. You must know the answer to the challenge yourself. That is, Norrie the Nerd is seeking a personal challenge. He considers himself far too important to stoop to everyday helpdesk issues.

3. All challenges must be in by Wednesday 15 December. They can be sent

to me at editor@actrix.co.nz. Go on, we dare you!

4. Norrie's decisions about whether your challenge has really stumped him or not are final. So are his decisions on whether or not you really do know the answer to your own challenge.

5. No extra correspondence will be entered into, and you may not specify either white or pink for  the marshmallow inside your chocolate fish.

Are you up to Norrie's challenge? Would you like the dubious honour of being The Actrix Community's biggest Nerd? Go on, we dare you!

Wellington's CityLink
This month's Actrix Product focus is Citylink.

The CityLink Connection was built in 1995, sponsored by the Wellington City Council. It currently has 20 shareholders including many of the leading key New Zealand communications and Internet organisations. It is a fibre optic network that winds its way through most of Wellington's central city streets providing an advanced yet low cost communications network for local business and government

enterprises. It is designed to allow anyone in central Wellington the opportunity to be connected electronically to each other and to the world at local area network speeds.

A connection to a single shared fibre will give you access to 10Mb of internet bandwidth via Actrix. You could also use a Citylink connection for your own purposes such as connecting  two or more buildings together for your own high speed private network.  The upfront costs for Citylink may be higher, but the ongoing costs are considerably lower (see below).

To gain access to Citylink's fibre optic network you just be in the Wellington Central Business District (CBD) and the fibre optic cabling needs to be already in your premises or in close proximity to your site. Currently, Citylink offers services within more than 140 high rise CBD buildings and the list keeps growing.

Citylink features and fees are detailed below:

  • Actrix connection fee of $200 (if router supplied by the customer)
  • $149 monthly traffic fee (includes 500 megabytes of traffic). Excess traffic 35c per megabyte.
  • 12 month contract: $6250 installation fee, $345 per month + GST
  • One IP address for your network router
  • One dual ethernet router
  • Free local Wellington traffic to selected sites
  • 10Mb connection to Actrix
  • Citylink Service level agreement

Much more detailed information about Citylink is available at their website.

You can also contact Actrix for more information or email info@citylink.co.nz.