2020 Newsletter: 7/54 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Meetings This Week:

Programming - Tuesday Feb 11th - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

Hi Team,

See the Progsig Meeting Reports:


The next meeting is on Tuesday 11th February 2020, 6pm, SMSA.


Steve OBrien

Friday Forum - Friday Feb 14th - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - 12 noon

We can discuss Microsoft's new Edge browser features (as mentioned below in Tech News:)

Plus the usual Q&A and other discussions.

Communications - Friday Feb 14th - 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

The usual Q&A and other discussions.

Web Design - Saturday Feb 15th - 1:30 pm (2:00 pm meeting start) - 4:00 pm

Hi Everyone;

Our next meeting is February 15th.

Last month we ran out of time to look at BitBucket and Github so this month we'll have a detailed look at both.

BitBucket is the Australian version of Microsoft's Github. Both are version control hosting platforms using GIT and both have free hosting plans. Both platforms allow you to create, edit and deploy code. You can have others collaborate and edit the code, keeping each edit as a separate version until it's reviewed and merged into the original code.

GIT, on which both platforms are based is a "distributed version control system". It has a DOS based code editor and allows users to keep a repository of any changes made to the code so you don't lose sight of the changes. The platforms bring this code into a windows environment. In some of the videos we will see that you can use the platforms without resorting to GIT code. It would appear to be a great way for us to collaborate on projects and see what changes other members have made.

Hope to see you all on Saturday the 15th.

Steve South

Meeting Next Week:

Tuesday Forum - Tuesday Feb 18th - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - 12 noon

Current & Upcoming Meetings:

 7 2020/02/01 — 14:00-17:00 — 01 Feb, Saturday — Penrith Group
 8 2020/02/11 — 17:30-20:30 — 11 Feb, Tuesday — Programming SIG, L1 Woolley Room
 9 2020/02/14 — 09:30-12:30 — 14 Feb, Friday — Friday Forum, L1 Woolley Room
10 2020/02/14 — 12:30-15:30 — 14 Feb, Friday — Communications, L1 Woolley Room
11 2020/02/15 — 13:30-16:30 — 15 Feb, Saturday — Web Design, L1 Woolley Room
12 2020/02/18 — 09:30-12:30 — 18 Feb, Tuesday — Tuesday Forum, L1 Woolley Room
13 2020/02/25 — 17:30-20:30 — 25 Feb, Tuesday — Main Meeting, L1 Carmichael Room
14 2020/02/28 — 09:30-12:30 — 28 Feb, Friday — Digital Photography, L1 Woolley Room


“ASCCA Pitt St Sydney Courses
February March April 2020”:

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

Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association
Level LG, 280 Pitt St SYDNEY 2000
(02) 9286 3871

ASCCA acknowledges the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and their connection to land, waters and community.
We pay our respects to them, their cultures, and to their elders past, present and emerging.

Tech News:

“Veteran tech journo predicts the last days of IBM are nigh”:

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese | Monday, 03 February 2020 11:19.

Tech giant IBM will sell one of its remaining divisions and disappear into the company it acquired last year — open source firm Red Hat — the veteran technology scribe Robert X. Cringely says in his annual tech predictions.

Cringely, one of the first Apple employees and the author of Accidental Empires, the only history of the computer industry, makes about 10 predictions at the beginning of each year. At the same time, he also goes over his previous year's guesses to see what he got right.

Last week, IBM's shares got a big boost after chief executive Ginni Rometty stepped down and Arvind Krishna, former head of IBM's Cognitive Computing unit, was announced as the next CEO.

Cringely said Rometty was a failure, but mainly because she was unlucky. "She bought 57 companies in her time running IBM. How many of them can you name? How many of those acquisitions can you say were successful? Red Hat, maybe?" he asked.

Of IBM's three divisions — Global Technology Services, Global Business Services and Red Hat — Cringely said GTS would probably be sold by the Western summer.

"Either it will go to private equity (depends on the total debt load) or it will be sold to HPE or maybe to Oracle. Either way, it's not a likely success story, but Rometty has no real choice. IBM is, at this point, smoke, mirrors, and buybacks. The GTS windfall will land in Ginni's final quarter, juicing her payout, which might be the major point of the deal," he said.

However, he did not give GTS much chance of lasting long. "Whoever buys GTS will be a big winner for a few years. The losers will be all the IBMers who go with that deal," Cringely said.

"There will be massive layoffs of redundant staff, salespeople, and support teams. Profits will soar as the IBM staff is fired. The new owners will create a cash cow to pay down the purchase price while expanding their IT footprint. But supporting data centers and large integrations of hardware are so last century…"

Cringely predicted that the Cloud unit would also be hawked to someone by summer in 2021. Jim Whitehurst, the current head of Red Hat, would become the head of what was left of IBM.

"Whitehurst will turn IBM into Red Hat, which will take HQ to North Carolina and mean most of the remaining GBS staff will be gone in a year," he said.

"That's because software is everything for Red Hat, which means certifications proving staff can actually do what they are being paid to do."

"But IBMers don't believe in certifications; they are IBMers. In the end, nothing can be done for these people, so the answer will be to release anyone without the proper certifications, helping Red Hat realign the company in 2021."

What would remain under the IBM name would be GBS — but that also would not last long, Cringely predicted, adding that he would give his reasoning for this forecast in another prediction soon.

Read more »

“How can I copy 1,400 DVDs to a new hard drive?”:

Referred by Jeff Garland: See The Guardian article by Jack Schofield | Thu 6 Feb 2020 19.00 AEDT.

Harry has data backed up to DVDs, but wants to copy the files to a hard drive. Is there a quick way to do it?

Over the years, I have been backing up files to writeable DVDs. I probably have around 1,400 of them. Now I want to transfer their contents onto a single 10TB USB hard drive. Can you and your erudite readers recommend the quickest solution?

Is there a DVD recorder that can load 10 to 20 DVDs at a time and automatically copy them onto said 10TB hard drive? Also, are there any issues with the formats needed to ensure access to my data for another 10 years or more?


I expect many of us still have lots of optical discs stashed away, because CDs and DVDs were the most economical way to store data for 20 to 30 years. Just cutting one disc a week could get you over the 1,000 mark, though I assume most of them would have been recopied and recycled before now.

The CD-R recordable format, storing 702MB, was launched in 1982, when my IBM PC/XT's hard drive stored 10MB. We didn't get DVD+RW discs storing 4.7GB each until about 1998, when 4GB was a reasonable size for a hard drive. A decade later, an Amazon receipt tells me I bought a 500GB Western Digital My Book for £62.20, so I was probably switching from optical to digital disks some time around 2008, if not before.

In theory, we might have switched from DVD to the new Blu-ray discs instead, because a Blu-ray can store either 25GB (single-layer) or 50GB (dual-layer) on archival discs. However, by the time Blu-ray writers became affordable, we already knew that external hard drives were going to win the storage wars. They were getting bigger and cheaper at a rapid pace. Today's 8TB and larger drives confirm that we were right.

Schofield's First Law of Computing says: Never put data into a program unless you can see exactly how to get it out. I didn't think to mention storage, or the effort it might take to retrieve it. Technically, your data is accessible, but the sheer volume of DVDs means it's not very practical. Moving it to a hard drive makes sense, but there's no obvious way to do it. Buying specialised hardware would be expensive, while doing it manually could take a long time.

Over the years, many commercial systems have sported multiple DVD drives, sometimes with hoppers or robot arms to feed in the discs. But most were aimed at large corporations or service providers, and very rarely at home users.

Multi-DVD systems usually targeted either the disc duplication or data sharing markets. Products aimed at the first enabled companies to create lots of identical DVDs at once. Products aimed at the second were file servers, somewhat like giant jukeboxes. They enabled companies to share data from large numbers of DVDs or BDs [ Blu-ray Discs ], or create "cold storage" backups that could last for 50 years. Facebook, for example, developed a server to store 10,000 Blu-ray discs, and demonstrated the system in a three-minute YouTube video.

MF Digital's Ripstation 7000 Series CD/DVD/BD ripper should do what you want, but it costs $4,595, including the built-in PC. It uses a robot arm to pick up discs and drop them into a DVD tray. Products like this are aimed at radio and TV stations, publishing empires and educational institutions that needed — perhaps still need — to convert a lot of old discs into digital format. They are not expensive compared with the cost of humans doing it manually.

I'm not sure if MF Digital's cheaper Music CD Ripping Station would do the job because you don't need to rip your discs, just copy them to a hard drive. However, I suspect £1,699.56 is more than you want to pay for a one-off job.

Read more »

“How to Enable Microsoft Edge's New Crapware Blocker”:

See the How-To Geek article by CHRIS HOFFMAN | @chrisbhoffman | JANUARY 31, 2020, 2:33PM EDT.

Microsoft Edge has a new crapware blocker, but it isn't enabled by default. It's currently available in the beta version of Edge, but should arrive for everyone using the Chromium-based Edge browser with the stable release of Edge 80 in early February.

"Potentially Unwanted Apps" Are Crapware

This browser feature blocks "potentially unwanted apps," which are also known as "potentially unwanted programs." PUPs include obnoxious features like adware, trackers, browser toolbars, cryptocurrency miners, and other junk you almost certainly don't want on your PC. PUPs have been called "malware with a legal team." You give permission to install this junk when you click through the license agreement, so it's not technically malware.

Microsoft won't be blocking crapware downloads by default in Microsoft Edge, so you have to know it exists and head into Settings to find it. There's a quick toggle that will force Edge to block this junk. It works similarly to the hidden option that makes Windows Defender block crapware on your desktop.

Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers already block potentially dangerous downloads, but this option makes Edge go even farther and block some junkware it would normally allow.

How to Block Potentially Unwanted Programs in Edge

To enable the crapware blocker in the new Microsoft Edge, click menu > Settings.

Click the "Privacy and services" option in the left pane.

Scroll down to the bottom of the list here. Under Services, enable the "Block potentially unwanted apps" option.

(If you don't see this option, you haven't upgraded to Microsoft Edge 80 yet. To see which version of the new Microsoft Edge you have, click menu > Help & feedback > About Microsoft Edge.)

You can now close the Settings page. Microsoft Edge will be more aggressive about blocking downloads that contain potentially obnoxious software.

Read more »

Fun Facts:

“Killing Maths Mosquitoes with Atomic Proofs”:

This note is based on the Standupmaths video by Matt Parker entitled: "Killing Maths Mosquitoes with Atomic Proofs: roots of two, Fermat and prime numbers."

In other words, you don't have to invoke complicated mathematics to prove simple theorems.

But it might be interesting.

Take the statement that every root of 2 (square root, cube root etc.) is irrational. In other words they can't be expressed as integer fractions.

The usual proof that √2 is irrational starts with assuming the opposite. Let √2 = a / b, with integers a and b having no common factor.

We'll prove that this leads to a contradiction.

Squaring both sides gives 2 = a2 / b2. Or 2b2 = a2.

The left hand side is even (it has a factor 2), so the right hand side must also be even. Hence a2 is even, so a must be even (say 2k) as well.

Then 2b2 = (2k)2 or 2b2 = 4k2. Cancelling 2 from both sides gives b2 = 2k2.

This means that b is even by the same argument as above, thus giving the contradiction "a and b are both even".

So √2 is irrational. QED.

A similar argument could prove it for any root of 2, but let's use Fermat's Last Theorem instead.

Let the nth root of 2 = a / b, or n√2 = a / b for n > 2.

We show that this, too, leads to a contradiction.

Raise both sides to the nth power: 2 = an / bn.

Then 2bn = an, or: bn + bn = an. Fermat's Last Theorem (which has now been proved) shows that this equation has no solution for n > 2.

Hence the contradiction.

Thus the nth root of 2 (for n > 2) must be irrational. QED.

Amazing — Ed.

“University Science Building has Periodic Tables”:

Periodic Tables in Uni Science Building with Element information on them
Periodic Tables in the Science Building


Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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