2020 Newsletter: 1/89 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Meetings This Week:

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

We can "Check for updates" on our Windows 10 desktop machine.

"Patch Tuesday" isn't until 14 January, so we wouldn't normally expect updates to be waiting.

And then we can have the usual Q&A and other discussions.

Communications - Friday Jan 10th - 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

The usual Q&A and other discussions.

Meetings Next Week:

Programming - Tuesday Jan 14th - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm
Web Design - Saturday Jan 18th - 1:30 pm (2:00 pm meeting start) - 4:00 pm

Current & Upcoming Meetings:

1 2020/01/04 - 14:00-17:00 - 04 Jan, Saturday - Penrith Group
2 2020/01/10 - 09:30-12:30 - 10 Jan, Friday - Friday Forum
3 2020/01/10 - 12:30-15:30 - 10 Jan, Friday - Communications
4 2020/01/14 - 17:30-20:30 - 14 Jan, Tuesday - Programming
5 2020/01/18 - 13:30-16:30 - 18 Jan, Saturday - Web Design
6 2020/01/21 - 09:30-12:30 - 21 Jan, Tuesday - Tuesday Forum
7 2020/01/24 - 09:30-12:30 - 24 Jan, Friday - Digital Photography
8 2020/01/28 - 17:30-20:30 - 28 Jan, Tuesday - Main Meeting


Tech News:

“ProtonMail adds encrypted calendar to its mail service”:

See the TechRadar article by Anthony Spadafora 3 January 2020.

ProtonCalendar is now in beta and paid users can test it out for themselves.

In an effort to provide consumers with more privacy-focused alternatives to Google's products, ProtonMail has added a new encrypted calendar to its email service.

The company's new ProtonCalendar is currently in beta and all paid ProtonMail users will now be able to access and use the new service that will be open to all users once it exits beta in 2020.

ProtonMail also launched its own VPN service back in 2017 called ProtonVPN as part of the company's ongoing mission to help users better protect their privacy online. In addition to ProtonCalendar, the company is also planning to launch its own cloud storage service and office software to provide consumers with a privacy-focused alternative to Google Drive and Google Docs.

CEO of ProtonMail, Andy Yen explained how the company is the polar opposite of Google in a statement, saying:

"Our goal is to create and make widely accessible online products [that] serve users instead of exploiting them. Like ProtonMail, ProtonCalendar is engineered to put user privacy first, and in that respect we are the polar opposite of Google. With the launch of ProtonCalendar beta, we move one step closer to providing a full suite of services [that] can replace Google for users who want more control over their data."


ProtonCalendar is tied to a user's ProtonMail email account and the new service has a clean interface that allows users to view their calendar by month and day with color-coded event types.

The company's new offering will be familiar to users who have used Google or Microsoft's calendars before. However, ProtonMail had decided to put privacy at the heart of ProtonCalendar by encrypting event titles, descriptions, locations and participants so that neither the company nor third parties can view the contents of user's calendar entries.

Businesses or consumers that are interested in encrypted email will likely also be interested in other privacy-focused products which is why ProtonMail's decision to expand into calendars, VPNs, cloud storage and documents makes a great deal of sense.

If you're a paid ProtonMail user, you can try out ProtonCalendar for yourself now while free users will have to wait a bit longer to test out the company's new encrypted calendar service.

Read more »

“Windows 10 Updates Could Get Big Change”:

See the Infopackets article by John Lister on December, 27 2019 at 01:12PM EST.

Microsoft may be planning to change the way it issues updates for Windows 10. It could help break the cycle of updates fixing previous problems and introducing new ones.

Windows 10 represents a shift in the way that Windows Updates are applied. In addition to frequent updates to fix bugs and add features, the biggest changes are saved for two major updates each year. The idea is that Windows 10 will be updated indefinitely, rather than introducing a totally new edition.

This replaced the previous model of each edition of Windows getting a "Service Pack" of updates every year or two and then eventually being phased out as a completely new Windows was released.

Windows 10 Updates Problematic

It's fair to say the new system hasn't always gone smoothly, particularly with how updates are tested before they are rolled out to the public. This is particularly an issue with multiple versions of Windows 10 in use, often on overlapping schedules.

That's been blamed for the almost comical situation where each new update aims to fix a problem created by the last, only to bring its own new problems. In turn, it makes it difficult to get around major bugs by simply rolling back to a previous update.

New Features Could Be Optional Download

The Windows store recently got a new entry of an app named "Windows Feature Experience Pack." At the moment it's just a dummy app that's effectively a placeholder. However, since first appearing it's now represented by a "download" icon.

While it's totally speculation at the point, analysts believe it's a sign Microsoft is splitting the development process so that updates to the basic code of Windows itself are treated separately to the addition of new features.

That could mean Windows Update is used simply to deliver the code updates and plug any security bugs. Meanwhile new features would instead be downloaded individually, perhaps in a similar way to installing applications. (Source: techradar.com)

Windows Could Become "Freemium" Product

The most immediate effect would be that it would be easier to set a computer to automatically run the latest Windows code, which would ideally have any known problems or security plugs fixed, without automatically getting extra features that might introduce compatibility problems.

More cynical analysts suggest it could also pave the way for a new pricing structure in which "Windows 10" itself always remained free to keep up-to-date but new features could carry a fee.

Read more »

“Inside the Brotherhood of the Ad Blockers”:

Referred by Jeff Garland: See the Getpocket article by Adrianne Jeffries [ Originally published on May 10, 2018, by Bloomberg Businessweek ].

For the advertising industry, ad blocking is an existential crisis. For the Pi-hole community, it's a sport.

Anyone who works in the $200 billion digital advertising industry should be scared of people like Mark Drobnak, because the ad blocker he uses is way more powerful than yours. The college freshman says it feels as though everyone at Rochester Institute of Technology, from his roommate to his professors, has installed some way to ward off online ads. Drobnak is one of the die-hards who goes further, working with a handful of comrades to build what they call "a black hole for advertisements." His parents say the one he built them works great.

Pi-hole (as in "shut your…") is a free, open source software package designed to run on a Raspberry Pi, a basic computer that's popular with DIYers, fits in the palm of your hand, and retails for about $35. Most ad blockers have to be installed on individual devices and work only in web browsers, but Pi-hole blocks ads across an entire network, including in most apps. (Two big exceptions, both for technical reasons, are YouTube and Hulu.) It can't block ads inside Facebook, but it can stop Facebook from following you around the web. It'll let you play Bejeweled without seeing ads between games, watch Mr. Robot ad-free in the USA app, stream NPR with silence in place of the sponsor messages, and avoid the banner ads that have become common on internet-connected TVs. If friends come over and connect to your Wi-Fi, it'll block ads for them, too.

Drobnak discovered Pi-hole in high school in 2015, after he and his siblings had already used their Raspberry Pi to play tic-tac-toe, program an elaborate light show, and monitor their respective addictions to electronics. The ad blocker, created by a Minnesota programmer named Jacob Salmela, was 2 years old and still fairly rudimentary. Less than a month after installing it at home, Drobnak hacked together a web interface to let users more easily block or whitelist sites. Two months later, Salmela invited him to join a tiny, all-volunteer development team. "Ads are annoying," Drobnak says. "Pi-hole gives you control over that."

Read more »

Fun Facts:

“Almost all integers contain the digit '3'”:

Last week's puzzler:

How many integers contain the digit '3' do you think? About a tenth? More? Less?


Think of each digit position and ask how many choices of digit there are excluding the digit '3'.

Multiply these values together and you'll get the number without a '3', so just subtract that number from 10n.

That'll be the number of integers up to 10n that do contain a '3'.


Take n-digit integers. We can choose any of 9 digits in each place, excluding the digit '3', namely 0-2 or 4-9.

Therefore, multiplying 9 n-times gives a total of 9n integers up to 10n which contain no digit '3'.

So the number which do contain a '3' must be 10n - 9n out of the total of 10n integers.

Forming a fraction, we get (10n - 9n) / 10n or 1 - (9/10)n, but as n -> ∞, (9/10)n -> ZERO.

This means that "almost all" integers will contain the digit '3'.

We should not really be surprised. Just think of the many millions of digits in really large integers.

For the "average integer" of this size, sooner or later you're bound to run into a '3'.

Even at the low end (say 200 digit numbers), (9/10)200 is 0.00000­00007­05507­91086­55332­57… already very small.

So, the proportion containing a '3' has risen to 99.99999­99294­49208­91344­66742… %.



“Can you make a 44-digit prime from these numbers?”:

Here's an interesting little number puzzle:

Take the numbers from the 11 years of the last decade (2010, 2011, ... , 2020). Can you re-arrange them to make a 44-digit prime number?

If not, can you prove that it's impossible?

For example, using this (unshuffled) ordering: N = 20,­102,011,­201,220,­132,014,­201,520,­162,017,­201,820,­192,020

We get N = 22 × 5 × 11 × 97 × 14,669 × 152,393 × 488,­577,539,­403,449 × 862,­474,116,­392,591 so that's definitely not prime.


Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

Information for Members and Visitors:

Link to — Sydney PC & Technology User Group
All Meetings, unless specifically stated above, are held on the
1st Floor, Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney.
Sydney PC & Technology User Group's FREE newsletter — SubscribeUnsubscribe
Go to Sydney PC & Technology User Group's — Events Calendar
Changing your e-mail address? Please e-mail your new address to — newsletter.sydneypc@gmail.com
DISCLAIMER: This Newsletter is provided "As Is" without warranty of any kind.
Each user or reader of this Newsletter assumes complete risk as to the accuracy and subsequent use of its contents.