2019 Newsletter: 47/48 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Meetings This Week:

Programming - Tuesday Sep 10th - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

Bring along your electronics / programming project or technical issues for our 'informal but informative' presentations and discussion.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday September 10 at 6pm. We'll see some new microprocessor applications and programming examples.

See the SIG reports page for past meetings.

Steve OBrien

Friday Forum - Friday Sep 13th - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - 12 noon

The rash of Ransomware throughout the US has Steve Gibson talking about the need for Anti-Virus programs to look out for any "unusual" encryption running on Windows. That might at least be able to slow the headlong ransomware disasters happening everywhere. Some Municipalities have IT Insurance which will pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars to the criminals to supply a decryption key.

Even if they get their files back, it's usually weeks before the Counties can get back to normal computer access again.

Indeed a disaster.

Will they ever be able to bring these criminals to justice? It all hinges on the anonymising features of Crypto currencies. In the past, any money transfers could easily be traced. But not now.

Plus the usual Q&A and other discussions.

Communications - Friday Sep 13th - 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

The usual Q&A and other discussions.

Meetings Next Week:

Tuesday Forum - Tuesday Sep 17th - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - 12 noon
Web Design - Saturday Sep 21st - 1:30 pm (2:00 pm meeting start) - 4:00 pm

Current & Upcoming Meetings:

63 2019/09/07 - 14:00-17:00 - 07 Sep, Saturday - Penrith Group
64 2019/09/10 - 17:30-20:30 - 10 Sep, Tuesday - Programming
65 2019/09/13 - 09:30-12:30 - 13 Sep, Friday - Friday Forum
66 2019/09/13 - 12:30-15:30 - 13 Sep, Friday - Communications
67 2019/09/17 - 09:30-12:30 - 17 Sep, Tuesday - Tuesday Forum
68 2019/09/21 - 13:30-16:30 - 21 Sep, Saturday - Web Design
69 2019/09/24 - 17:30-20:30 - 24 Sep, Tuesday - Main Meeting
70 2019/09/27 - 09:30-12:30 - 27 Sep, Friday - Digital Photography

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“ASCCA Newsletter September 2019”:

Greetings all,

Happy Father's Day to all those who are fathers, grand-fathers or those who have given care in the place of fathers. Enjoy your special day.

The September issue of the ASCCA Newsletter is now available. In this issue you will note the dates of the next Members' Forum and the Annual Conference. Mark your diary now so that you don't miss out.

SWADE NSW's Digital Mentoring project has got off to a great start. Read about the successful first Be Connected Digital Mentor training session held by ASCCA.

There is a reminder about date, time and venue for the Members' Forum. This event is being held because the Clubs have asked for information about how to GROW their clubs. It is a forum so you will have the opportunity to voice your helpful suggestions and/or ask questions. Please register if you are planning to attend; it will help with catering, and it is free.

Welcome to a new club — Darwin Mens' Shed and to two new Directors who have joined the ASCCA Board.

Manly Computer Club has undertaken a Young Mentors intergenerational program. I believe there may be just a few new places available for seniors who may wish to join the program. Whether they are new to technology or already knowledgeable, there is always something new to learn.

Now this is what you have been waiting for: an introduction to some of the speakers for the 21st Australian Technology Conference for Seniors! All of your favourites will be there, including Microsoft, Google, and Apple, plus Charlie Brown & Alex Zaharov-Reutt.

Read about the workshop that launched the Digital Mentors' Handbook developed by QUT with support from Australia Post and how to secure a free copy for your club trainers.

STOP PRESS! Closing date for the Digital Photography Competition has been extended to 30 September. [Oops, sorry for the email glitch.]

Do you have a story to share with other clubs? Well, what are you waiting for? I often have space available for stories and perhaps your story will be just what I need.

Regards, Nan

Nan Bosler,
Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association

“ASCCA Pitt St Sydney Courses
September October November 2019”:

Greetings all,

Our new course program has now been released.

Click here to read or download the course program in PDF format.

Some people have reported that the above link does not work for them. If so, try this one:


Jean Martin

Empowering Australian seniors through technology

Level LG | 280 Pitt Street | Sydney | NSW | 2000
P: (02) 9286 3871 | W: www.ascca.org.au
E: training@ascca.org.au
FB: www.facebook.com/ASCCAau

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Tech News:

“Volocopter's 2X eVTOL records a first with flight at Helsinki International Airport”:

Referred by Roger Foulds: See the Techcrunch article by Darrell Etherington | @etherington / 11:31 pm AEST · August 30, 2019.

Electric helicopter
eVTOL Volocopter air taxi sans pilot

The Volocopter 2X air taxi vehicle is now the first electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) craft to fly at an international airport, fully integrated into the same airspace as other commercial passenger craft. It performed this key milestone flight at Helsinki International Airport, in a demonstration mission that showed it successfully integrated with both traditional air traffic management and air traffic management systems designed specifically for aircraft with no pilot on board controlling the vehicle manually.

The test is intended to show that air traffic management systems, which are designed for both traditional piloted flight and autonomous aircraft (including air robotaxis), can operate in concert with one another, even in areas with dense sky traffic — including over cities.

Volocopter, which recently unveiled a new version of its eVTOL, which it intends to be the version that goes into commercial service once it launches for paying customers, ran tests at Helsinki airport along with AirMap, Altitude Angel and Unifly, all providers of air traffic management services for unpiloted aerial craft. Through the test, they determined that the Volocopter systems work well with each provider, which is a key step toward gaining certification for commercial flight.

The German startup will be flying its 2X vehicle at an event in Stuttgart on September 14, but its next major milestone will be unveiling the new VoloCity commercial craft and its prototype VoloPort take-off and landing facility in Singapore later this year.

Read more »

“What to do when Windows can't run EXEs”:

See the AskWoody article by Fred Langa | ISSUE 16.31.0 · 2019-09-02.

Executable program files are the beating heart of Windows and most applications.

So when Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 can no longer properly run files with the .exe extension, it's serious trouble! Here are four fixes that can help.

Plus: Several weaknesses hobble Win10's print-to-PDF applet.

PC sidelined by weird executable problem

AskWoody Subscriber Colm Brangan's PC somehow ran into the deep weeds — and now he can't find his way out. (Colm's PC is running Win7, but Windows 10 and Win8.1 can suffer the same fate.)

"My Windows 7 Home Premium system has stopped working properly. None of the EXE files will run. (I can still get to the Internet via links.) Launched apps stop with a ShellExecuteEx has failed Error Code 1155. I can't reboot with a USB-based rescue drive because setup.exe will not run, and right-clicking an application doesn't show a Run command.

"As my laptop is old, I don't have the option to choose UEFI boot; it needs the Legacy bios. I have the original re-installation disk and your excellent article on 'Win 7's no-reformat, non-destructive reinstall.' [Langa.com]. Your help, please! All other avenues, including Microsoft and Dell, have failed."

That's a frustrating problem, to be sure. But it might be easier to correct than you think.

A typical Windows7/8/10 setup contains between 3,000 and 5,000 executable files — just for Windows. So if the OS truly can't run any EXE files (say, through a system-level file-association/-permissions error), it wouldn't run much at all.

But your PC does run — just very weirdly! That suggests your PC's system-level EXEs are more or less OK and still working, but EXEs you click on (or otherwise trigger through the user interface) are not.

This suspicion is buttressed by the "ShellExecuteEx has failed Error Code 1155" message. Although this isn't a very specific error code, it at least suggests that something's preventing the Windows user interface (the "shell") from working properly with the OS.

The question is, what's that "something"? Although this behavior is sometimes caused by malware, it's also a valid software setting that can be invoked via a software or user error — or even deliberately as a prank! (Do you have a practical joker in the vicinity?)

For example, it's possible your PC is now in kiosk mode (aka "display," "lockdown," or "assigned access" mode), all of which turn a standard PC into a more-or-less display-only device. IT departments may employ kiosk mode in a controlled way to prevent unauthorized changes. But, again, malware, pranksters, or software error might trigger this limiting mode in an unexpected or uncontrolled way, effectively locking you out of your own PC. (See links at the end of this text for more info.)

Most browsers also have some form of kiosk mode, suppressing menus and controls. This might explain Colm's comment that he can still use Internet links. (Again, see the end of this item for more information.)

There can also be problems with Windows' security settings or a malfunction in Windows Attachment Manager, which is supposed to block only unsigned Web-based executables (MS info).

You get the idea: there are many ways to mess up a PC's handling of executables.

But whatever the cause of this problem, you probably can recover via one of the following four steps. The only initial prep is the usual: ensure, if possible, that all your essential files are safely backed up and out of harm's way. (If you don't have a current backup and can't run an EXE-based backup tool, at least copy/paste your important files to a safe location — or use a self-contained, self-booting backup tool [ example: Google search ] to safeguard your most important files.)

Windows 10's PDF-writer creates new typos

AskWoody subscriber David was unhappy — he thought his copies of the newsletter were arriving riddled with glaring typos and misspellings. He even mailed back a sample to prove his point.

And indeed, the copy he sent back was full of nonsense words and jumbled text that made the whole thing read like an uncorrected early draft. We're not perfect here, but these were numerous, blatant errors that made the text look like a ransom note. Yikes!

A little spelunking showed what was going on.

David had saved the original email as a PDF, apparently using the print-to-PDF function built into Windows. As it turns out, the Windows PDF-conversion software is not the world's finest; it's easily confused by some fonts, line breaks, hyphens, letter styles (especially italics), and such. When the PDF software stumbles, it sometimes produces duplicated syllables, mangled punctuation, nonsense words, or other errors.

Bottom line: If you use Windows' built-in print-to-PDF option, expect some conversion errors and plan on proofreading the final document carefully!

Read more »

“What's the Difference Between FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS?”:

See the How-To Geek article by CHRIS HOFFMAN | @chrisbhoffman | UPDATED MARCH 30, 2018, 11:01PM EDT.

Whether you're formatting an internal drive, external drive, USB flash drive, or SD card, Windows gives you the choice of using three different file systems: NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. The Format dialog in Windows doesn't explain the difference, so we will.

A file system provides a way of organizing a drive. It specifies how data is stored on the drive and what types of information can be attached to files — filenames, permissions, and other attributes. Windows supports three different file systems. NTFS is the most modern file system. Windows uses NTFS for its system drive and, by default, for most non-removable drives. FAT32 is an older file system that's not as efficient as NTFS and doesn't support as big a feature set, but does offer greater compatibility with other operating systems. exFAT is a modern replacement for FAT32 — and more devices and operating systems support it than NTFS — but it's not nearly as widespread as FAT32.

NT File System (NTFS)

NTFS is the modern file system Windows likes to use by default. When you install Windows, it formats your system drive with the NTFS file system. NTFS has file size and partition size limits that are so theoretically huge you won't run up against them. NTFS first appeared in consumer versions of Windows with Windows XP, though it originally debuted with Windows NT.

Compatibility: Works with all versions of Windows, but read-only with Mac by default, and may be read-only by default with some Linux distributions. Other devices — with the exception of Microsoft's Xbox One — probably won't support NTFS.

Limits: No realistic file-size or partition size limits.

Ideal Use: Use it for your Windows system drive and other internal drives that will just be used with Windows.

File Allocation Table 32 (FAT32)

FAT32 is the oldest of the three file systems available to Windows. It was introduced all the way back in Windows 95 to replace the older FAT16 file system used in MS-DOS and Windows 3.

Compatibility: Works with all versions of Windows, Mac, Linux, game consoles, and practically anything with a USB port.

Limits: 4 GB maximum file size, 8 TB maximum partition size.

Ideal Use: Use it on removable drives where you need maximum compatibility with the widest range of devices, assuming you don't have any files 4 GB or larger in size.

Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT)

The exFAT file system was introduced in 2006 and was added to older versions of Windows with updates to Windows XP and Windows Vista. exFAT is optimized for flash drives — designed to be a lightweight file system like FAT32, but without the extra features and overhead of NTFS and without the limitations of FAT32.

Like NTFS, exFAT has very large limits on file and partition sizes, allowing you to store files much larger than the 4 GB allowed by FAT32.

While exFAT doesn't quite match FAT32's compatibility, it is more widely-compatible than NTFS. While Mac OS X includes only read-only support for NTFS, Macs offer full read-write support for exFAT. exFAT drives can be accessed on Linux by installing the appropriate software. Devices can be a bit of a mixed bag. The PlayStation 4 supports exFAT; the PlayStation 3 does not. The Xbox One supports it, but the Xbox 360 does not.

Compatibility: Works with all versions of Windows and modern versions of Mac OS X, but requires additional software on Linux. More devices support exFAT than support NTFS, but some — particularly older ones — may only support FAT32.

Limits: No realistic file-size or partition-size limits.

Ideal Use: Use it when you need bigger file size and partition limits than FAT32 offers and when you need more compatibility than NTFS offers. Assuming that every device you want to use the drive with supports exFAT, you should format your device with exFAT instead of FAT32.

NTFS is ideal for internal drives, while exFAT is generally ideal for flash drives. However, you may sometimes need to format an external drive with FAT32 if exFAT isn't supported on a device you need to use it with.

Read more »

“How can I force my Windows 10 laptop to update?”:

Forwarded by Jeff Garland: See The Guardian article by Jack Schofield | Thu 5 Sep 2019 17.00 AEST.

Windows Update tells Frank that Windows 10 is up to date, but he still needs to install a new version.

“Why does my HP Pavilion laptop tell me that Windows 10 is up to date, but at the same time tells me I'm running a version that's nearing the end of support, and recommends that I update to the most recent version?” Frank.

First, some background. Microsoft used to provide new versions of Windows every three or more years, and support them for 10 years. Examples included Windows XP and Windows 7. They didn't change unless Microsoft released a service pack update, such as Windows 7 SP1.

When it launched Windows 10 four years ago, Microsoft switched to delivering "Windows as a Service" (WaaS). Now the operating system is updated every month, at no charge, with two "milestone" releases each year. These are named after their intended release dates, such as Windows 10 1809 and 1903. (The March update, 1903, was actually released in May.)

Thanks to WaaS, there are no more expensive "big bang" updates, which used to cause large organisations enormous pain and left some of them clinging to obsolete versions of Windows for more than a decade. Smaller, more frequent updates are much easier to handle, especially using tools such as WSUS (Windows Server Update Services), SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) and WUfB (Windows Update for Business). They are a bit of a pain for some home users, but Microsoft is trying to alleviate any problems.

With WaaS, Microsoft also changed its support system. It now has a Modern Lifecycle Policy where basic versions of Windows 10 are only supported for 18 months. You have lost the 10 years of support, but your support now continues for ever, as long as you keep installing new versions of Windows 10. In reality, "for ever" means for as long as your device can run them.

The net result is that Microsoft is still supporting at least three versions of Windows, but the three will usually have been launched about six months apart, instead of three years apart.

Where you are

You are, I deduce, running Windows 10 version 1803: this was released on 30 April 2018, and reaches the end of its supported life on 12 November 2019. So Windows Update is telling you, correctly, that this version is up to date.

However, you have failed to install either of the two latest milestone releases, 1809 and 1903. You therefore have an up-to-date version of an out-of-date version of Windows 10. Your current version does not need updating, it needs replacing. This is what you should do.

You are in much the same position as someone who is still running an up-to-date version of Windows 7, having skipped later releases. The main differences are that the timescales are much shorter and the upgrades are now free.

Microsoft would like everyone to be on the same version of Windows, and it would not be economic to support 10 or 20 different versions. It is therefore using the end of support — and the end of security fixes — to push users into updating their systems, even though the Windows 10 Enterprise version of 1803 will be supported for another year (until 10 November 2020).

These PCs are less of a burden because large organisations use tools such as WSUS to update thousands of PCs, rather than each one downloading the code separately. Either way, Microsoft must still be producing security fixes for 1803; it just won't let you have them.

Read more »

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Fun Facts:

“Pizza, anyone?”:

If you have a Pizza with radius 'z' and thickness 'a', what is its volume?

Hover to reveal


“What's with the number 6174?”:

This is a strange one.

You start with any 4-digit number. Re-arrange the digits to form the largest and smallest numbers. Subtract the smaller number from the larger one and then repeat.

The sequence ends either with a zero (if you choose a number like 0000 or 1111 etc.) or with the number 6174 which produces 6174 again, so loops forever.

In 1949, The Indian Mathematician D.R. Kaprekar discovered this interesting property of the number 6174, which was subsequently named the Kaprekar constant. This pattern breaks down for 5-digit numbers, which may converge to 0 or one of the 10 constants 53955, 59994, 61974, 62964, 63954, 71973, 74943, 75933, 82962, 83952.

Math teachers need "to know more than the text book,"says Alfred Posamentier, Professor Emeritus of City College, describing this number on YouTube.

Here are three examples — 5623, 5624 and 5625:

5623 : 5623 ⇒ 6532 - 2356 = 4176 # 1
5623 : 4176 ⇒ 7641 - 1467 = 6174 # 2
5623 : 6174 ⇒ 7641 - 1467 = 6174

5624 : 5624 ⇒ 6542 - 2456 = 4086 # 1
5624 : 4086 ⇒ 8640 - 0468 = 8172 # 2
5624 : 8172 ⇒ 8721 - 1278 = 7443 # 3
5624 : 7443 ⇒ 7443 - 3447 = 3996 # 4
5624 : 3996 ⇒ 9963 - 3699 = 6264 # 5
5624 : 6264 ⇒ 6642 - 2466 = 4176 # 6
5624 : 4176 ⇒ 7641 - 1467 = 6174 # 7
5624 : 6174 ⇒ 7641 - 1467 = 6174

5625 : 5625 ⇒ 6552 - 2556 = 3996 # 1
5625 : 3996 ⇒ 9963 - 3699 = 6264 # 2
5625 : 6264 ⇒ 6642 - 2466 = 4176 # 3
5625 : 4176 ⇒ 7641 - 1467 = 6174 # 4
5625 : 6174 ⇒ 7641 - 1467 = 6174

They took 2 steps, 7 steps and 4 steps respectively to get to 6174. No 4-digit number takes more than 7 steps (2184 of them). But why so few steps required, I wonder?

Some take just one step to get to 6174:

0026 : 0026 ⇒ 6200 - 0026 = 6174 # 1
0062 : 0062 ⇒ 6200 - 0026 = 6174 # 1
0136 : 0136 ⇒ 6310 - 0136 = 6174 # 1
0163 : 0163 ⇒ 6310 - 0136 = 6174 # 1
0206 : 0206 ⇒ 6200 - 0026 = 6174 # 1
0246 : 0246 ⇒ 6420 - 0246 = 6174 # 1
0260 : 0260 ⇒ 6200 - 0026 = 6174 # 1
0264 : 0264 ⇒ 6420 - 0246 = 6174 # 1
0316 : 0316 ⇒ 6310 - 0136 = 6174 # 1
0356 : 0356 ⇒ 6530 - 0356 = 6174 # 1
0361 : 0361 ⇒ 6310 - 0136 = 6174 # 1

See an interesting short 3min 41sec YouTube video on this number on the Numberphile Channel.

Some of the comments below the video are hilarious.


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Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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