2019 Newsletter: 48/66 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Meetings This Week:

Tuesday Forum - Tuesday Sep 17th - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - 12 noon

Tim Kelly will talk about some interesting computer programs/apps and how to use them in Windows 10 and maybe using the Apple TV.

After that, we'll have a short tutorial on Gmail. It's just a matter of logging in online (or creating a new user account) and then getting used to its editor. We'll also show you how to use some features of the app including the use of Cc (Carbon Copy) and Bcc (Blind Carbon Copy).

Alternatively, you can edit your emails in another editor completely (like Word, Wordpad or even a text editor like Vi) and just copy/paste the results into Gmail before hitting the "Send" button.

There'll be time for a Q&A session, too.

Web Design - Saturday Sep 21st - 1:30 pm (2:00 pm meeting start) - 4:00 pm

Hi Everyone;

Our Web Design meeting is Saturday the 21st at 2 PM.

Our last meeting was cancelled due to a major booking of the whole school.

Not that we were informed about that until very late in the week.

So this month we will attempt to continue our look at writing mode.

See the note from the last notice:

In June we had a look at the Transform property and this month I thought we could look at its big brother writing mode. Bruce Lawson once said its the World Wide Web not the Wealthy Western Web in reference to the fact that so often designers ignore the fact that there are four major language types and only one writes left to right top to bottom. Writing mode is used to place content in a way that suits the language of the reader.

For us it can be used to create some impressive visual effects especially when combined with Flex and Grid start and end properties for justifying and aligning items.

Last month we looked at Snap and if time is on our side, we may have a look at some JavaScript alternatives if your browser refuses to snap.

See you next Saturday.

Unfortunately, I have just got out of hospital with viral bronchitis but I should be well enough to attend.

Steve South

Can you see anything when hovering over this text?

If not, it might be because you need to set the "HTML MODE" for viewing emails on your device. Or, your device is not capable of allowing "hovering".

Maybe you need a "long tap" on the text. But then, if you're covering the text with your finger, how are you supposed to read what's under it?

In any case, we might be able to discuss possible solutions at the Web Design SIG to this fundamental web and email problem in the tap-and-swipe age.

Sorry if you've been kept in the dark all this time with the non-performing advice: "Hover to reveal".

Here's hoping that the meeting can suggest something … anything — Ed.

Meetings Next Week:

Main Meeting - Tuesday Sep 24th - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

Some predictions from Alex:

Also we have Acer coming in August, Laser coming in September and Nokia in October, with companies like Google, Telstra, Symantec and others due to present this year, too — just sorting out the specific dates for those, but Acer, Laser and Nokia are locked in …

Digital Photography - Friday Sep 27th - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - 12 noon

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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Tech News:

“Brave vs Vivaldi — Which Browser is Better?”:

Referred by Roger Foulds: See the 5 min 57 sec YouTube video comparing the Brave and Vivaldi browsers.

Brought to you by Tom Spark Reviews — Ed.


“Android User? Delete These Apps Now”:

See the INFOPACKETS article by John Lister on September, 10 2019 at 04:09PM EDT.

Nearly half a million users have been infected with "The Joker" malware through the Google Play store. The malware is particularly nasty and works by signing users up to premium services without their knowledge.

The malware, spotted by researcher Aleksejs Kuprins, was found in 24 apps with a combined 472,000 downloads — though more apps may be found later. As of this writing, the 24 known apps have been removed from the Google Play store. (Source: techradar.com)

Infected Apps Need to be Removed

If you have any of the following apps installed on your phone, they should be removed immediately.

The infected apps list is as follows:

  • Advocate Wallpaper
  • Age Face
  • Altar Message
  • Antivirus Security — Security Scan
  • Beach Camera
  • Board picture editing
  • Certain Wallpaper
  • Climate SMS
  • Collate Face Scanner
  • Cute Camera
  • Dazzle Wallpaper
  • Declare Message
  • Display Camera
  • Great VPN
  • Humour Camera
  • Ignite Clean
  • Leaf Face Scanner
  • Mini Camera
  • Print Plant scan
  • Rapid Face Scanner
  • Reward Clean
  • Ruddy SMS
  • Soby Camera
  • Spark Wallpaper

Scam Happens Out Of Sight

As is a familiar story with Android malware, most of the apps claimed to perform a simple task, and it appears to be delivered as promised. The problem was what happened behind the scenes.

The Joker malware is specially crafted to only work if the user's SIM card is registered in one of 37 countries, including the US, Brazil, Australia and most of Europe and Asia. All of these countries have mobile networks that allow users to subscribe to digital services, with the charges applied to their monthly phone service fee or taken out of a pay-as-you-go credit balance.

The compromised apps are set up to receive encrypted instructions from a remote server, making it less likely they'll be spotted by security scans. The app will then usually display a screen with the app logo while "loading." In fact, this was when the nefarious activity was happening behind the scenes.

Malware Scans Incoming SMS

Once activated, the malware secretly loads a subscription page (which the user can't see) and signs up to a service. It then continues working in the background, looking for a confirmation code sent via SMS text message — something that's designed to be a security measure.

The malware intercepts the message, copies the code and provides it to the subscription service as if the user had typed it in. The user is then hit with a monthly charge, which is usually quite small — around $7.40 USD in one case. (Source: medium.com)

The scheme appears to go for a large number of victims while keeping the individual amounts small enough that there's less chance of people spotting the scam, unless they check their bills carefully.

Read more »

“Win10 Search, High CPU Lag Plague Latest Update”:

See the INFOPACKETS article by John Lister on September, 6 2019 at 02:09PM EDT.

The latest Windows 10 update (KB4512941) has produced two different problems. Some users report the search function is no longer working, while others have found their processors under immense strain.

The problems stem from an update which itself fixed several problems with a major Windows 10 Update release in May, also known as Windows 10 version 1903. Note that users who do not have Windows 10 version 1903 won't have KB4512941 installed. You can find out which version of Windows 10 you have by clicking Start, then type in "winver" (no quotes) and hit enter. It will say the version number followed by the build.

The first problem with KB4512941 involves the built-in search tool in Windows 10 that lets users search across all files on their computer. Although the search box is still available in the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen, affected users no longer get a window showing search results. Instead, they simply get an unresponsive black box displayed.

Windows 10 CPU Persistently High

The other problem is that some users are finding their CPU use persistently high. When they look at the Task Manager for details, they find the Cortana voice assistant tool is listed as using around 40 percent of the CPU.

This consistently high processor use can lead to devices heating up, sluggish processing, fans running consistently and mobile device batteries draining quickly. In this specific case, some users are reporting a drop in frame rate as their computer struggles to keep up with refreshing the screen, resulting in glitchy animations and video playback.

Technical analysis suggests both problems may result from the same bug, namely that the built-in Windows Search for the computer itself and Microsoft's online Bing search are no longer interacting smoothly. (Source: techradar.com)

Removing Latest Update a Workaround

Microsoft hasn't commented on the problems beyond saying it's investigating the issue and will provide an update later on.

In the meantime, the only solution appears to be manually rolling back the update. To do that, users can click Start, then click the cogwheel (Settings) icon, then choose "Update & Security" followed by "View update history" and then "Uninstall updates." The update to remove is KB4512941.

This is only really worth doing for users who are finding either the search or CPU problems particularly troublesome. KB4512941 does fix some other bugs which may be more problematic. However, this is a "feature update" only, so uninstalling it shouldn't have any security implications. (Source: microsoft.com)

Read more »

“281 'Nigerian scammers' arrested around the world”:

See the iTWire article by David Heath | Thursday, 12 September 2019 10:15.

Authorities in ten countries have arrested hundreds of suspects accused of involvement in Business Email Compromise schemes, with stolen funds totalling over US$120 million.

The FBI announced that partner organisations around the world have disrupted a major Business Email Compromise scheme.

Operation reWired, a months-long, multi-agency effort to disrupt and dismantle international business email compromise (BEC) schemes, resulted in 281 arrests, including 74 in the United States, officials announced. Arrests were also made in Nigeria [167], Turkey [18], Ghana [15], France, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom. The sweep resulted in the seizure of nearly $3.7 million and the disruption and recovery of approximately $118 million in fraudulent wire transfers.

In announcing the arrests, the US Department of Justice observed that the scams went considerably wider than the rather dodgy "I'm a princess and my husband died, I need to get $10M out of the country" emails that we all see regularly.

Instead, they pointed to a variety of identity theft and fraudulent tax returns schemes. "In unraveling this complex, nationwide identity theft and tax fraud scheme, we discovered that the conspirators stole more than 250,000 identities and filed more than 10,000 fraudulent tax returns, attempting to receive more than $91 million in refunds," said Chief Don Fort of IRS Criminal Investigation. "We will continue to work with our international, federal and state partners to pursue all those responsible for perpetrating this fraud, preying on innocent victims and attempting to cheat the U.S. out of millions of dollars."

In outlining the extent of the offences, the DoJ pointed out that, BEC scams are related to, and often conducted together with, other forms of fraud such as:

  • "Romance scams," where victims are lulled into believing they are in a legitimate relationship, and are tricked into sending or laundering money under the guise of assisting the paramour with an international business transaction, a U.S. visit, or some other cover story;
  • "Employment opportunities scams," where victims are convinced to provide their PII (personally identifiable information) to apply for work-from-home jobs, and, once "hired" and "overpaid" by a bad check, to wire the overpayment to the "employer's" bank before the check bounces;
  • "Fraudulent online vehicle sales scams," where victims are convinced they are purchasing a non-existent vehicle and must pay for it by sending the codes of prepaid gift cards in the amount of the agreed upon sale price to the "seller;"
  • "Rental scams," where a scammer agrees to rent a property, sends a bad check in excess of the agreed upon deposit, and requests the overpayment be returned via wire before the check bounces; and
  • "Lottery scams," where victims are convinced they won an international lottery but must pay fees or taxes before receiving the payout.

Operation reWired follows a successful Operation WireWire in 2018, which led to 74 arrests and the seizure of US$2.4 million.

"The FBI is working every day to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that target our businesses and our citizens," said FBI Director Christopher Wray. "Through Operation reWired, we're sending a clear message to the criminals who orchestrate these BEC schemes: We'll keep coming after you, no matter where you are."

Read more »

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Fun Facts:

“The 3n + 1 Problem”:

Have you seen the "3n+1" problem, also known as the Collatz conjecture? Sometimes this sequence ends in a few moves, but some numbers go on through very large numbers and still not converge to '1'.

Wikipedia: The Collatz conjecture is a conjecture in mathematics that concerns a sequence defined as follows: start with any positive integer n. Then each term is obtained from the previous term as follows: if the previous term is even, the next term is one half the previous term. If the previous term is odd, the next term is 3 times the previous term plus 1. The conjecture is that no matter what value of n, the sequence will always reach 1.

Paul Erdös (a great 20th Century Hungarian mathematician) said about the Collatz conjecture: "Mathematics may not be ready for such problems." He also offered $500 for its solution. Jeffrey Lagarias in 2010 claimed that based only on known information about this problem, "this is an extraordinarily difficult problem, completely out of reach of present day mathematics."

Experimental evidence:

As of 2017, the conjecture has been checked by computer for all starting values up to 87 × 260 which is the enormous number 100,304,170,900,795,686,912.

See Eric Roosendaal's 3x+1 path records page.

The current record-holder is

X = 71,­149323,­674102,­624415

The maximum size of the intermediate number = 9055,­383924,­226744,­340579,­466230,­337749,­396932

Verified by the yoyo@home project [2017].


Anyway, on a lazy Sunday afternoon get out a large sheet of paper and a pen and try a few runs.

Try an easy one like 100 first: 100, 50, 25, 76, 38, 19, 58, 29, 88, 44, 22, 11, 34, 17, 52, 26, 13, 40, 20, 10, 5, 16, 8, 4, 2, 1. Quite a long run.


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Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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