2019 Newsletter: 14/66 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Meeting This Week:

Main Meeting - Tuesday Mar 26th - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

March Main Meeting - Sydney PC and Technology User Group

This month we have two special guests - Angus Muffet from ShopBack in the 6.30pm to 7pm time slot, and then Matthew Ranocchiari, Community Expert and Clara (Product Advisor), both from the Microsoft Store from the 7.15pm to 7.50pm timeslot.

I will be in Paris for a smartphone launch so I won't be there, but our guests have awesome stuff to show you:

Our first presenter is Angus Muffet from ShopBack.


Founded in 2014, and introduced to Australia in May 2018, the company bills itself as "the smarter way to shop online", where you are promised "as much as 30% cashback on your online purchases, access to the latest coupon codes, deals and offers at over 950 top stores". These include the likes of retail giants Amazon, Woolworths Online, David Jones and Booking.com.

Muffet said: ShopBack is a "one-stop lifestyle platform" that has already "enabled consumers across the country to earn hundreds of dollars every month in rewards, simply by shopping for their favourite everyday brands via the website or app".

Our second presenters are Matthew Ranocchiari, Community Expert and Clara (Product Advisor).

The Microsoft Store

Join them as they explore how to best leverage PowerPoint for interactive experiences through creating engaging, powerful and eye-catching presentations.

In this presentation Clara and Matthew will explore:

— Advanced techniques around data visualisation

— Design suggestions and features to help the team to efficiently find ways to visually present their graphics and media

— Tips and techniques including Design ideas!

With regards to a raffle prize, Microsoft will be supplying:

— Microsoft draw string bag

— Microsoft water bottle

— Bing coffee cup

— Microsoft Insider scarf

I'll deliver an extra prize or two to Josephine who will bring them along on the night for me.

So, please come along, there are two great presentations to enjoy!

In April, we will be joined by Huawei who will showcase their latest smartphones and technologies, and in May we have both Optus with their 5G presentation and Synology who will tell us all about NAS storage drives.

So please don't miss any of these meetings!

Cheers and best regards,


Meeting Next Week:

Penrith Group - Saturday Apr 6th - 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Meetings This Month:

16 2019/03/02 - 14:00-17:00 - 02 Mar, Saturday - Penrith Group
17 2019/03/08 - 09:30-12:30 - 08 Mar, Friday - Friday Forum
18 2019/03/08 - 12:30-15:30 - 08 Mar, Friday - Communications
19 2019/03/12 - 17:30-20:30 - 12 Mar, Tuesday - Programming
20 2019/03/16 - 13:30-16:30 - 16 Mar, Saturday - Web Design
21 2019/03/19 - 09:30-12:30 - 19 Mar, Tuesday - Tuesday Forum
22 2019/03/22 - 09:30-12:30 - 22 Mar, Friday - Digital Photography
23 2019/03/26 - 17:30-20:30 - 26 Mar, Tuesday - Main Meeting

24 2019/04/06 - 14:00-17:00 - 06 Apr, Saturday - Penrith Group

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Tech News:

“Windows 7 versus Windows 10: Here comes the big push”:

Referred by Jeff Garland: See the ZDNet article by Steve Ranger | March 17, 2019 -- 23:00 GMT (10:00 AEDT) | Topic: Enterprise Software.

There's nothing like a looming deadline to concentrate the mind — something that applies as much in tech as it does in journalism.

Microsoft recently revealed that Windows 10 has burst through the 800 million users mark. And while it's dangerous to read too much into these very broad statistics, it does seem that there has been an uptick in migrations in recent months. While it took nearly nine months to go from 600 to 700 million users, it took only five-and-a-half to get from 700 to 800 million. Sure, that's not as fast as it was in the early days (when consumers had the option to upgrade for free), but it suggests there is some additional momentum out there (see the chart below).

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)

One obvious reason for this uptick in Windows 10 adoption is the rapidly looming demise of Windows 7, which goes out of mainstream support in less than a year.

There are still hundreds of millions of PCs out there running Windows 7, many of them in businesses where the operating system has been a reliable workhorse for nearly a decade. My colleague Ed Bott has an excellent list of your options if you're still on Windows 7.

Graph showing rise to 800 M Windows 10 users
Rise to 800 M Windows 10 users.

Some organisations may be willing to stick with Windows 7 even after the end of mainstream support, but that does come at a cost — which will increase the longer they stick with it. Paying through the nose for additional support on an old and creaky set of software won't make financial sense to many organisations for very long. Many organisations will also have a policy of only using software that's still within mainstream support.

Some will have other pressures: in the UK, for example, the government has told the NHS that it must have Windows 10 upgrades complete by January 2020 or risk missing out on funding for upgrades.

Read more

“Nvidia Jetson Nano addresses mass-market ML [ Machine Learning — Ed. ]”:

See the iTWire article 19 March 2019 Written by Stephen Withers.

GPU giant Nvidia has revealed the Jetson Nano, a tiny AI computer for use in mass-market products.

So far, most applications of machine learning in the physical world have involved expensive equipment such as autonomous vehicles and industrial robots, so it hasn't mattered that the necessary computing power hasn't been particularly cheap.

But attention is turning to adding ML to mass-market products such as video surveillance systems, home robots, visual inspection systems for factories, and enterprise IoT projects.

Potential buyers are sensitive to price, putting earlier hardware "out of reach", according to Nvidia senior manager of product for autonomous machines, Jesse Clayton.

So we have seen the introduction of Intel's Neural Compute Stick 2 and Google's Coral Edge TPU*.

*See the Wikipedia TPU Article: "A tensor processing unit (TPU) is an AI accelerator application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) developed by Google specifically for neural network machine learning".

Now Nvidia has entered this part of the market with the Jetson Nano.

This 70x45mm module incorporates a 128-core Maxwell GPU plus a four-core ARM CPU, along with 4GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage, plus support for up to 12 camera inputs, two video inputs and an array of I/O interfaces.

The hardware is capable of decoding up to 16 streams of 720p video, eight 1080p streams, two 4K streams (all at 30fps) or one 60fps 4K stream. This means it can, for example, monitor eight full HD security cameras simultaneously, performing object detection on all of them.

Nvidia is highlighting two particular selling points in addition to the low (US$129) price.

Firstly, the Jetson Nano runs the same software as the rest of the Jetson family, including support for deep learning and machine vision, as well as higher-level functions such as depth estimation, object detection and gesture recognition.

Secondly, it runs a wider range of modern AI software than the Intel Neural Compute Stick 2 or the Coral Edge TPU, and in most cases it runs it more quickly. One exception is Google's MobileNetV2 computer vision software, which runs faster on the Edge at low resolution. However, the Jetson Nano can run it at higher resolutions (including 1920x1080).


So it has also released the US$99 Jetson Nano Developer Kit, available immediately from Nvidia's website and its distributors around the world.

Showing the Jetson Nano Developer Kit (credit-card sized PCB)
Nvidia Jetson Nano Developer Kit.

It uses the same GPU and CPU, but incorporates USB, HDMI and Ethernet ports, and is compatible with various sensors and other devices designed for the Raspberry Pi, including those from Adafruit, Clayton said. Adafruit's Blinka library works with the kit.

Read more

“Firefox Finally Blocks Autoplay Videos”:

See the Infopackets article by John Lister on March, 21 2019 at 03:03PM EDT.

Firefox is to stop websites from playing videos automatically when a user visits a page. By default, autoplay will only be allowed if the sound is muted.

The move by developers Mozilla is designed to tackle the problem of unwanted noise when somebody is simply expecting to read an article. This is a particular problem with sites that carry video ads or news sites that automatically play a video report, even if it isn't related to the story the user was expecting to read.

The new default takes effect in version 66 of Firefox, which is getting a public release this week. The videos will still be playable but only if the user actively clicks on a play button that will appear on or by the video.


Good riddance

Submitted by Dennis Faas on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 15:53

Sites that autoplay videos (with sound) alongside written content are extremely annoying. Cnet.com is notoriously bad for this. Their current layout eats up 1/3 of the page for autoplaying videos next to their content which may or may not have anything to do with the content. Download.com is even worse with video ads that play automatically as soon as you scroll down the page. No thanks!

Read more

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Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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