2019 Newsletter: 57/66 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

“Comms SIG Raspberry Pi 4 — a disappointing demo”:

The Raspberry Pi 4 produces a 4K HDMI output at home, but it looked like 1000 x something at the Club. We are not sure if our projector accepts HD (1920 x 1080) input, but I'd be surprised if it doesn't. There should be some scope to improve the screen resolution there.

At least the various programs including Chromium and Firefox ESR worked perfectly on the Linux variant, Raspbian (derived from Debian).

Sound was unfortunately missing. This probably means that it needs some tweaking of the configuration file, /boot/config/txt. I remember trying various parameters to get it to work at home, such as "hdmi_drive=2" and "hdmi_force_edid_audio=1" etc.

We'll check with the Official Raspberry Pi Site to get the exact parameters to try and give it a go again at another SIG.


Meetings This Week:

Programming - Tuesday Nov 12th - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

My apologies for missing the October Meeting without notice. Thanks to Bob for having a key to the projector and Andrew for sending me the meeting notes.

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

The Prog Sig reports are up for September & October 2019, in the usual place :


The next meeting will be on Tuesday Nov 12 at 6pm. We'll see some new microprocessor applications and programming examples.

Hopefully see you on the 12th of November.

As always, please bring a project or topic to discuss.


Steve OBrien

Web Design - Saturday Nov 16th - 1:30 pm (2:00 pm meeting start) - 4:00 pm

Hi Everyone,

Saturday the 16th November is our last Web Design group for the year.

So, lets talk about what we can do next year. Bring your ideas and we can plan what topics and activities we undertake next year.

To finish off the year, I have a few videos by Jen Simmons, Mozilla Developer. One is on how to improve your images for the web and one on using Firefox Grid Inspector which should be interesting.

Mozilla Web Developer
Web Developer at Mozilla

See you all on Saturday the 16th,

Steve South
Web Design Coordinator

Meetings Next Week:

Tuesday Forum - Tuesday Nov 19th - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - 12 noon
Digital Photography - Friday Nov 22nd - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - 12 noon

Current & Upcoming Meetings:

79 2019/11/02 - 14:00-17:00 - 02 Nov, Saturday - Penrith Group
80 2019/11/08 - 09:30-12:30 - 08 Nov, Friday - Friday Forum
81 2019/11/08 - 12:30-15:30 - 08 Nov, Friday - Communications
82 2019/11/12 - 17:30-20:30 - 12 Nov, Tuesday - Programming
83 2019/11/16 - 13:30-16:30 - 16 Nov, Saturday - Web Design
84 2019/11/19 - 09:30-12:30 - 19 Nov, Tuesday - Tuesday Forum
85 2019/11/22 - 09:30-12:30 - 22 Nov, Friday - Digital Photography
86 2019/11/26 - 17:30-20:30 - 26 Nov, Tuesday - Main Meeting

87 2019/12/07 - 14:00-17:00 - 07 Dec, Saturday - Penrith Group
88 2019/12/10 - 17:30-20:30 - 10 Dec, Tuesday - Programming
89 2019/12/13 - 09:30-12:30 - 13 Dec, Friday - Friday Forum + lunchtime visit to StarBar
90 2019/12/13 - 12:30-15:30 - 13 Dec, Friday - Communications
91 2019/12/17 - 09:30-12:30 - 17 Dec, Tuesday - Tuesday Forum + lunchtime visit to StarBar



Greetings all,

Our concerns go out to those who are facing bushfires and suffering from the drought and water shortages or who have friends and relatives living through these incredible challenges.

Please find the November newsletter at the Club's website.

With the 21st Australian Technology Conference for Seniors — our annual two day conference, our get together for learning opportunities and networking — it is not surprising that this issue [ the November ASCCA Newsletter — Ed. ] deals mostly with the conference. We have experts from many fields to share information with us.

Kathryn Greiner AO will open the conference.

See who our main sponsors are — our sincere thanks to them and to our other sponsors.

A full list of speakers — that's what you have been waiting for isn't it?

There is also a report about the SWADE WA, SWADE NT and SWADE NSW projects.

Do you know what Mobile Phone Porting is? What preparations should we have in place, long before we need them? You will have to come to the conference to find out!

I hope to see you on 13 & 14 November at Rydges World Square Hotel, Sydney.

Regards, Nan

Nan Bosler, AM
Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association

Empowering Australian seniors through technology

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

Tech News:

“MS-DEFCON 4: It's time to install the October patches”:

ASK WOODY + Windows Secrets

ISSUE 16.40.1 | 2019-11-05 | MS-DEFCON 4: Add the October patches — By Woody Leonhard

October was a tough patching month, starting with the re-re-release of an "out of band" patch that nobody needed.

The screams of pain have largely subsided and the bugs in October's patches are reasonably well known. That means it's time to patch — just make sure you're well informed before taking the dive.

In particular, if you're running Windows 7 or Server 2008 and haven't patched since May, you're wide open for a new attack based on our old nemesis BlueKeep. This time, the attacks are very real.

Details in Computerworld. Discussion (free!), help, and commiseration on the AskWoody Lounge.


“Malwarebytes introduces version 4.0 for Windows: new UI, faster engine, lighter footprint”:

See the iTWire article by Alex Zaharov-Reutt | Wednesday, 06 November 2019 08:32.

Promising "50% less CPU usage", Malwarebytes' new version 4.0 for Windows PCs promises to be "smarter, faster and lighter" than ever before while dealing with modern malware and online threats.

Malwarebytes. The company bills itself as "the leading advanced endpoint protection and remediation solution", and it has launched the latest edition of its flagship premium consumer product, Malwarebytes 4.0.

The company is claiming the new version is "substantially smarter, faster and lighter", and also "comes with significant improvements enabling faster scans and detections to help catch more malware than ever before", with a "dramatic overhaul of the user experience" that makes it "more intuitive and informative".

There's also a new detection engine called Katana, which Malwarebytes naturally bills as its "smartest detection engine yet".

Malwarebytes has a couple of videos available to watch, but as they are set to private on Vimeo, I can't embed them here — but you can see both at the Malwarebytes Premium page here.

So, what is Malwarebytes claiming about Katana?

We're told that its "zero-hour technology examines the behaviour of new, often polymorphic, threats, and blocks them before traditional antivirus (AV) even recognise they exist".

Malwarebytes 4.0 is claimed to "go beyond traditional AV solutions by applying multiple layers of protection and detection, including proactive ransomware technology, malicious website protection and anti-exploit capabilities.

"These features combine to deliver the holistic defence across multiple attack vectors necessary to protect users in today's evolving threatscape and are backed by Malwarebytes' powerful linking technology, renowned for its ability to remove all traces of malware from an infected machine."

Akshay Bhargava, Chief Product Officer at Malwarebytes said: "Polymorphic threats have changed the game in cybersecurity. By the time traditional antivirus creates a signature for these threats it can be too late. Cybersecurity providers need to stay ahead of the game by recognising potential threats before they can cause damage."

"Malwarebytes 4.0 is designed to block these evolving threats in record time using innovative detection technology. Our new intuitive user interface helps customers more easily engage with their cybersecurity. Furthermore, the new engine is optimised and requires 50 percent less of the CPU while scanning."

Here are the key features of Malwarebytes for Windows 4.0:

  • Improved zero-hour detection — pinpoints new threats as they arise and before they can wreak havoc on a user's device
  • Expanded malware detection — blocks even more malware for improved protection
  • Signatureless behavioral detection — identifies the latest variants of dangerous malware families that use signature evasion through runtime packing, obfuscation and encryption, offering instant protection against new threats that traditional AV has a hard time detecting
  • Faster threat definition process — streamlines the publishing of new definitions, reducing the time it takes to protect Malwarebytes' users from new threats
  • Completely redesigned user interface that is intuitive, more informative and simple
  • Threat statistics — allows users to see what Malwarebytes is doing for them in real-time and get a first-hand view of what threats are coming at them (and being blocked)
  • Cybersecurity news — dynamic feed keeps users informed of the latest threats and other security topics
  • Easier updates — more automation means that users receive the latest protection with less effort on their part

As always, Malwarebytes is available as a free download, but the free solution is reactive, relying on you to run the app to clear malware that may have made its way onto your PC.

It is also on sale for personal and business users, whereby bulk purchases mean a lower per copy price, as is the case with software in the security industry.

Buying Malwarebytes Premium turns on proactive mode, where Malwarebytes works to proactively target, prevent and remove malware that tries infecting your computer, and is especially useful for family members who have no idea what they're doing and who would otherwise call you for help when something goes wrong, but naturally is useful for anyone using a traditional computer.

Read more »

“Paradise ransomware:
Now victims can get their files back for free
with this decryption tool”:

Referred by Roger Foulds: See the Zdnet article by Danny Palmer | November 1, 2019 — 12:07 GMT (23:07 AEDT) | Topic: Security.

This ransomware-as-a-service has been causing trouble for victims since 2017 - but now they don't need to pay to retrieve their files.

Victims of Paradise ransomware can now retrieve their files without giving in to the demands of cyber criminals thanks to a newly released decryption tool.

Researchers at cybersecurity company Emsisoft have released a free decryption tool for Paradise — a ransomware sold 'as-a-service' on the dark web which has been locking the networks of victims and holding them for ransom since September 2017.

Paradise ransomware is typically delivered inside a malicious zip attachment in phishing emails. Once the user opens the file, the ransomware unpacks itself and encrypts files on the affected computer, adding extensions including ".paradise", ".2ksys19", ".p3rf0rm4", and ".FC".

SEE: 10 tips for new cybersecurity pros (free PDF)

The ransomware also deletes backups for maximum impact in an effort to pressure the victim into paying the bitcoin ransom — the price of which is set by the individual attacker.

However, now, thanks to the free decryption tool, victims of Paradise can now retrieve their files without paying bitcoin to cyber criminals.

The decryptor for Paradise is the latest decryption tool to come from Emsisoft; researchers also recently released a decryptor for WannaCryFake ransomware.

Ransomware attacks have remained successful throughout 2019 because victims are giving in to the demands of cyber criminals and paying the ransom in exchange for the return of their files.

That's despite warnings from the authorities to not give in to the extortion demands, because not only does paying up show hackers that ransomware works, the ransom payment could be used to fund other criminal activity.

SEE: Ransomware: 11 steps you should take to protect against disaster

Organisations like local governments, schools and universities and hospitals and healthcare providers have often found themselves being targeted by ransomware attacks, which in some cases now see the criminals demand hundreds of thousands of dollars in Bitcoin for the return of the network.

In many cases, however, ransomware attacks can be prevented from doing damage in the first place by following standard cybersecurity procedure. Organisations should patch operating systems and software applications, so that they're protected against criminals exploiting known vulnerabilities.

Failure to patch is one of the most common means of ransomware and other malware successfully compromising systems, alongside insecure remote desktop protocols (RDP) being left exposed to the internet with default login credentials.

Read more »

“Five Things You Probably Didn't Know GPS Could Do”:

Referred by Roger Foulds: See the Smithsonian article by Alexandra Witze | Knowable Magazine | smithsonian.com | November 1, 2019.

Scientists use the navigation system to measure and monitor many aspects of our planet

You might think you're an expert at navigating through city traffic, smartphone at your side. You might even hike with a GPS device to find your way through the backcountry. But you'd probably still be surprised at all the things that GPS — the global positioning system that underlies all of modern navigation — can do.

GPS consists of a constellation of satellites that send signals to Earth's surface. A basic GPS receiver, like the one in your smartphone, determines where you are — to within about 1 to 10 meters — by measuring the arrival time of signals from four or more satellites. With fancier (and more expensive) GPS receivers, scientists can pinpoint their locations down to centimeters or even millimeters. Using that fine-grained information, along with new ways to analyze the signals, researchers are discovering that GPS can tell them far more about the planet than they originally thought it could.

Over the last decade, faster and more accurate GPS devices have allowed scientists to illuminate how the ground moves during big earthquakes. GPS has led to better warning systems for natural disasters such as flash floods and volcanic eruptions. And researchers have even MacGyvered some GPS receivers into acting as snow sensors, tide gauges and other unexpected tools for measuring Earth.

"People thought I was crazy when I started talking about these applications," says Kristine Larson, a geophysicist at the University of Colorado Boulder who has led many of the discoveries and wrote about them in the 2019 Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. "Well, it turned out we were able to do it."

Here are some surprising things scientists have only recently realized they could do with GPS.

1. Feel an earthquake

For centuries geoscientists have relied on seismometers, which measure how much the ground is shaking, to assess how big and how bad an earthquake is. GPS receivers served a different purpose — to track geologic processes that happen on much slower scales, such as the rate at which Earth's great crustal plates grind past one another in the process known as plate tectonics. So GPS might tell scientists the speed at which the opposite sides of the San Andreas Fault are creeping past each other, while seismometers measure the ground shaking when that California fault ruptures in a quake.

Most researchers thought that GPS simply couldn't measure locations precisely enough, and quickly enough, to be useful in assessing earthquakes. But it turns out that scientists can squeeze extra information out of the signals that GPS satellites transmit to Earth.

Those signals arrive in two components. One is the unique series of ones and zeros, known as the code, that each GPS satellite transmits. The second is a shorter-wavelength "carrier" signal that transmits the code from the satellite. Because the carrier signal has a shorter wavelength — a mere 20 centimeters — compared with the longer wavelength of the code, which can be tens or hundreds of meters, the carrier signal offers a high-resolution way to pinpoint a spot on Earth's surface. Scientists, surveyors, the military and others often need a very precise GPS location, and all it takes is a more complicated GPS receiver.

2. Monitor a volcano

Beyond earthquakes, the speed of GPS is helping officials respond more quickly to other natural disasters as they unfold.

Many volcano observatories, for example, have GPS receivers arrayed around the mountains they monitor, because when magma begins shifting underground that often causes the surface to shift as well. By monitoring how GPS stations around a volcano rise or sink over time, researchers can get a better idea about where molten rock is flowing.

Before last year's big eruption of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, researchers used GPS to understand which parts of the volcano were shifting most rapidly. Officials used that information to help decide which areas to evacuate residents from.

3. Probe the snow...

4. Sense a sinking...

5. Analyze the atmosphere...

Read more »

Fun Facts:

“Factors of Factorials”:

Today we'll have a look at the usual factorial numbers (the product of the numbers from 1 to n).

For example, factorial(5) = 1x2x3x4x5 = 120, abbreviated to 5! in maths books. These are very interesting numbers.

Have you noticed how many trailing zeros these numbers have?

Take 50! This number is 30,­414,093,­201,713,­378,043,­612,608,­166,064,­768,844,­377,641,­568,960,­512,000,­000,000,­000 (65-digits long).

Multiplying all the numbers up to 50 should maybe result in 5 trailing zeros (one each for multiplying 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 along the way). But there are 12 instead!

How is this possible?

Aha! We're forgetting that there are also factors of 5 in 5, 15, 25 etc. And there are plenty of twos (in 8, 16 etc) to make up a few more 10s in the product.

Another interesting fact occurs when you use a power of two as the factorial.

Factorial 64 has 63 factors of 2 in the product, just one short of the number 64 itself.

The same question: There are only 32 even numbers in the product, so where do all these extra factors of two come from?

Well, you guessed it: There are 4s, 8s, 12s and 16s etc. all contributing more factors of two.

In fact, if you count the powers carefully, there are 1+2+4+8+16+32 (that's 63) powers in total. Paper and pencil time — please check it out.

And finally, here are all the factors of 1024!, showing the tail-end of the 2640-digit number itself. [ Have a glance at the number of trailing zeros. ]

The factors of factorial 1024
Factors of 1024! (a 2640-digit number)


PS: This also gives you a handy list (to memorize) of all the primes below 1024.

Did you count the 253 trailing zeros on our number, 1024! ?

You can check that that's right because there's a factor of 5^253 among all the factors (and plenty of twos to match, making up the 253 final zeros that we see).

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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