2020 Newsletter: 35/89 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)


Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Face-to-Face Meetings for July Cancelled:

Because of the uncertainty of our members wishing to attend face to face meetings, I suggest that we advise our members that face to face meetings for July have been cancelled.

— Ron Ferguson,

Meetings This Week:

Programming - Tuesday, 14 Jul - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

We will be running this meeting using Zoom; details later by e-mail.

Hi Team,

See the Progsig Meeting Reports:


The next meeting is on Tuesday the 14th of July 2020 at 6 pm.


Steve OBrien

Web Design - Saturday, 18 Jul - 1:30 pm (2:00 pm meeting start) - 4:00 pm

We will be running this meeting using Zoom; details later by e-mail.

Hi Everyone,

We could have had a face to face meeting this month, but I thought caution was a better option. We should be able to have our first face to face meeting in August if all goes well.

Our next meeting will be on the 18th of July at 2 pm via Zoom. I will send the details on Friday.

Some of the group have been looking at placing videos on a page. We had a look at how you can add media to a page a few years ago in March 2015, so this month we can review how we can get audio and video on to a webpage.

I also found a note on how to make loading a background image faster, and we can see if it works.

So I hope to see you all on the 18th.

Steve South

Meeting Next Week:

Tuesday Forum - Tuesday, 21 Jul - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - noon

Rooms are available for this meeting.

Meeting cancelled, as per the notice, above.

The usual Q&A and other discussions.

Current & Upcoming Meetings
(This Month's Face-to-Face Meetings Cancelled):

45 2020/07/04 — 14:00-17:00 — 04 Jul, Saturday — Penrith Group
46 2020/07/10 — 09:30-12:30 — 10 Jul, Friday — Friday Forum, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms
47 2020/07/10 — 12:30-15:30 — 10 Jul, Friday — Communications, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms
48 2020/07/14 — 17:30-20:30 — 14 Jul, Tuesday — Programming SIG, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms
49 2020/07/18 — 13:30-16:30 — 18 Jul, Saturday — Web Design, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms
50 2020/07/21 — 09:30-12:30 — 21 Jul, Tuesday — Tuesday Forum, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms
51 2020/07/24 — 09:30-12:30 — 24 Jul, Friday — Digital Photography, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms [ Discontinued ]
52 2020/07/28 — 17:30-20:30 — 28 Jul, Tuesday — Main Meeting, L1 Carmichael + Dowling Rooms

ASCCA (and related) News:


Dear Seniors Card Holder [ your actual name goes here if you receive this e-mail — Ed. ],

Welcome to the July edition of EXTRA!

This month I am thrilled to inform you of some exciting new deals for our Seniors Card members.

Now may be the perfect time to think about welcoming a pet companion to your household with RSPCA offering a 50% discount to Seniors Card members who adopt a golden oldie cat or dog aged over eight years old.

Along with Woolworths, IGA is now offering a five per cent discount off gift cards which can then be used for your weekly groceries. This discount is an excellent way for seniors to shop locally and support their community. For more information on how to purchase the discounted gift cards visit the Seniors Card website.

Finally, with COVID-19 restrictions easing in NSW, you may be wondering how this affects your day-to-day life. We know seniors need to be more careful to stay healthy, and you can read more about staying COVID-safe at the COVID-19 advice for seniors page.

I hope the information and offers in this month's newsletter are beneficial to you. As we navigate through this pandemic together, stay connected and look after yourselves in whatever way you can.

Yours sincerely,

Geoff Lee MP
Acting Minister for Sport, Multiculturalism,
Seniors and Veterans

Tech News:

“Don't Worry: Windows 10's Control Panel Is Safe (For Now)”:

See the How-To Geek article by CHRIS HOFFMAN | @chrisbhoffman | 9 JULY 2020, 6:40 am EDT.

Is Microsoft about to remove the Control Panel from Windows 10? That's how some websites are spinning recent news. But that just isn't true. Here's what is going away — and what's really going on with the Control Panel.

Say Goodbye to the System Screen (Probably)

In a new testing build of Windows 10, Microsoft has removed the System page from the Control Panel.

This change appeared in Insider Preview build 20161, released on July 1, 2020. It will likely appear in stable versions of Windows 10 around either November 2020 or May 2021.

The Settings > System > About page in the Settings app provides all the same information. There's a new "Copy" button that lets you copy the device information to your clipboard for easy copy-pasting, too.

The System page is a very visible part of the classic Control Panel, but its loss won't be felt very deeply. All of its information is found on the equivalent page in the Settings app. Whenever an application tries opening the System Control Panel page, Windows will automatically open Settings > System > About instead.

It's One Page, Not the Whole Control Panel

Yes, the System page is going away — probably. It's worth noting that Microsoft sometimes removes things in favour of the Settings app and restores them during the development process. Microsoft is testing this change.

But the System page isn't the entire control panel. And one Control Panel page being swapped out for an equivalent Settings page isn't a sign that the whole Control Panel is vanishing any time soon.

The Control Panel Is Still Packed With Useful Settings

The Control Panel can't be removed any time soon because it's full of useful settings that aren't found in the Settings app.

Even tasks that do have screens in the Settings app — like configuring your display at Settings > Display — have links that take you to the Control Panel for more advanced settings and information.

Yes, Microsoft is slowly porting settings from the Control Panel to the Settings Interface. Microsoft has been doing that for years — it's taking forever, and it almost certainly won't be done any time soon.

Here's what Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc, Senior Program Manager of the Windows Insider Program, wrote in the Windows Insider blog post announcing the change:

“There will be more improvements coming that will further bring Settings closer to Control Panel. If you rely on settings that only exist in Control Panel today, please file feedback and let us know what those settings are.”

At This Rate, It'll Take Decades to Kill the Control Panel

Microsoft is slowly, slowly, slowly moving settings from the Control Panel to the Settings app.

Microsoft is moving at absolutely glacial speeds here — Windows 8 featured a "PC Settings" interface in addition to the Control Panel and was released in 2012. That was eight years ago. Windows 8 was surely in development for a few years; Windows 7 was released in 2009. After all, Microsoft has likely been working on a modern replacement for the Control Panel for a decade now.

Okay, let's all pretend Windows 8 never happened. That's what Microsoft wants to do, after all.

Windows 10 was released in 2015, so it's been five years since the stable release of Windows 10. We're still nowhere near close to having a single settings interface. In 2020, it's five years later, and we're talking about a single screen being removed from the Control Panel in favour of the Settings app.

At this rate, it'll be a miracle if Microsoft can even consider removing the Control Panel from Windows before the year 2030.

Please, Just Give Us One Settings Interface!

We're actually in favour of Microsoft axing the Control Panel.

Wait, let's try that again: We think Windows 10 should have a single settings interface like every other sensibly designed operating system. The current system, where some parameters are scattered across the Settings app, and some are scattered across the Control Panel, is ridiculous. It's been confusing ever since Microsoft introduced the PC Settings app in Windows 8 back in 2012.

Whatever interface that is, we're okay with it. A modern Control Panel redesigned so it can work with touch, with all the settings the classic Control Panel has? That would be great. A Settings app that's just as powerful and fully featured as the Control Panel? That's fine, too. But let's pick one, so people don't have to use both!

All the chatter about the Control Panel going away is a distraction. With the slow state of progress on the Settings app, Windows 10's developers couldn't remove it any time soon even if they wanted to.

We'll have plenty of warning before Microsoft removes the Control Panel from Windows 10, and it won't happen any time soon.

Read more »

“What's the Difference Between Linux and Unix?”:

See the How-To Geek article by DAVE MCKAY | @thegurkha | 7 JULY 2020, 6:40 am EDT.

Linux took its inspiration from Unix, but Linux isn't Unix — although it's definitely Unix-like. We will explain the major differences between these two famous operating systems.

Same Difference?

Linux is a free and open-source operating system. Unix is a commercial product, offered by a variety of vendors each with its own variant, usually dedicated to its own hardware. It's expensive and closed source. But Linux and Unix do more or less the same thing in the same way, right? More or less, yes.

The subtleties are slightly more complicated. There are differences beyond the technical and architectural. To understand some of the influences that have shaped Unix and Linux, we need to understand their backstories.

The Origins of Unix

Unix is over 50 years old. It was developed in Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) assembly language on a DEC PDP/7 as an unofficial project at Bell Labs, then owned by AT&T. It was shortly ported to a DEC PDP/11/20 computer, then steadily spread across other computers at Bell. A rewrite in the C programming language led to the 1973 Version 4 of Unix. The rewrite was significant because the characteristics of the C language and compiler meant it was now relatively easy to port Unix to new computer architectures.

In 1973, Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie presented a paper about Unix at a conference. As a result, requests for copies of Unix poured into Bell. Because selling operating systems fell outside of AT&T's permitted scope of operations, they couldn't treat Unix as a product which led to Unix being distributed as source code with a license. The nominal costs were enough to cover the shipping and packaging and a "reasonable royalty." Unix came "as is," with no technical support and no bug fixes. But you did get the source code — and you could modify it.

Unix saw a rapid uptake in academic institutions. In 1975, Ken Thompson spent a sabbatical from Bell at the University of California, Berkeley. Along with some graduate students, he started adding to and improving their local copy of Unix. Outside interest in the Berkeley additions grew, leading to the first release of the Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD). BSD was a collection of programs and system modifications that could be added into an existing Unix system, but it wasn't a standalone operating system. Subsequent versions of BSD were entire Unix systems.

There were now two major flavours of Unix, the AT&T stream and the BSD stream. All other Unix variants, such as AIX, HP-UX, and Oracle Solaris, are descendants of these. In 1984, some of the restrictions on AT&T were released, and they were able to productize and sell Unix.

Unix then became commercialized.

The Genesis of Linux

Seeing the commercialization of Unix as a further erosion of the freedoms available to computer users, Richard Stallman set out to create an operating system founded on freedom. That is, the freedom to modify the source code, to redistribute modified versions of the software, and to use the software in any way the user saw fit.

The operating system was going to replicate the functionality of Unix, without including any Unix source code. He named the operating system GNU and founded the GNU Project in 1983 to develop the operating system. In 1985, he founded the Free Software Foundation to promote, fund, and support the GNU project.

All areas of the GNU operating system were making good progress — apart from the kernel. The GNU project developers were working on a microkernel called the GNU Hurd, but progress was slow. (It is still in development today, and getting closer to a release.) Without a kernel, there would be no operating system.

In 1987, Andrew S. Tanenbaum released an operating system called MINIX (mini-Unix) as a teaching aid for students studying operating system design. MINIX was a functional, Unix-like, operating system, but it had some restrictions, especially with the filesystem. After all, the source code had to be small enough to ensure it was adequately covered in a single university semester. Some functionality had to be sacrificed.

To better understand the inner workings of the Intel 80386 in his new PC, a computer science student called Linus Torvalds wrote some simple task-switching code as a learning exercise. Eventually, this code became an elementary proto-kernel that became the first Linux kernel. Torvalds was familiar with MINIX. His first kernel was developed on MINIX using Richard Stallman's GCC compiler.

Torvalds decided to make his own operating system that overcame the limitations in the designed-for-teaching MINIX. In 1991, he made his famous announcement on the MINIX Usenet group, asking for comments and suggestions on his project.

Linux isn't really a Unix clone. If Linux were a clone of Unix, it would be Unix. It isn't; it is Unix-like. The word "clone" implies some small part of the original is cultivated into a new cell-for-cell replica of the original. Linux was created afresh, to have the look and feel of Unix, and to fulfil the same needs. It's less a clone, and more a replicant.

But either way, Linux was a kernel looking for an operating system; GNU was an operating system looking for a kernel. In hindsight, what happened next seems inevitable. It also changed the world.

Ed. — Read more topics from the article:

Who Does the Development?

Standards and Compliance

Trademarks and Copyright

Differences In Use

Stick Shift vs. Automatic

Read more »

Fun Facts:

“Josephine Rolls the Dice”:

Last week's puzzler:

Here is a little dice-rolling game to test your knowledge of probabilities.

Josephine rolls the dice

Yes, yes, we know. Dice — plural, Die — singular.


The possible outcomes are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Multiply the average outcome by 90, and you should get the answer.


The average outcome is 1/6 of (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6) or 1/6 of 21.

That comes to 21/6 or 7/2, i.e. 3.5 points.

Naïvely, you might think 3 is the average throw. Unfortunately, not.

Then all you have to do is calculate 90 × 3.5 or 270 + 45 = 315 — a slightly unexpected total.

— Ed.

“Is .9999… Really Equal to 1 or Not?”

It's the age-old question in Maths: Is .9999… (with infinitely many nines) really equal to 1 or not?

The way to attack this problem is "Do you believe that this infinite decimal has a value or not?"

If you do, then we can find a Mathematically consistent value in the following steps:

Let F (for Frederick) = .9999… (1)

Then, multiplying (1) by ten gives: 10F = 9.9999… (2)

Subtracting equation (1) from (2) gives:

9F = 9 or F = 1.

Similarly, let's try infinitely many nines to the left:

Let G (for Georgina) = …9999 (3)

Multiplying (3) by ten gives: 10G = …99990 (4)

Subtracting (3) from (4) gives:

9G = -9 or G = -1 [ Getting rather weird, here. — Ed. ].

Finally, let's try infinitely many nines to the left and the right.

Let W (for Whatever) = …9999.9999… (5)

Multiplying (5) by ten gives 10W = …9999.9999… (6)

Subtracting (5) from (6) gives:

9W = 0 or W = 0.

Very interesting.

If F = 1 and G = -1, then the sum (which is W) should equal 1 - 1 = 0, which it does.

Thus, our Mathematics is entirely consistent.

See the following 5m29s YouTube video by James Tanton explaining the above steps in detail. [ Warning: Prepare to turn down the rather high volume in this video. ]

If, however, you do not think that these expressions have a value, you may assume that they are "undefined".

The Mathematics is then also consistent ( undefined + undefined = undefined ).

Amazing — Ed.

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

Information for Members and Visitors:

Link to — Sydney PC & Technology User Group
All Meetings, unless explicitly 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: We provide this Newsletter "As Is" without warranty of any kind.
The reader assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and subsequent use of its contents.