2020 Newsletter: 36/89 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,


Dennis Richard

3.12.1944 - 2.7.2020

Husband to Carol and much-loved father to Sophia and Celia.
Doting grandfather to Ella, Jonah, Sienna and Oliver.

May God grant him eternal rest.

Dennis Campanella at the meeting welcome desk

“We are saddened to report the passing of Dennis Campanella on 2nd July 2020. Dennis was a long time member of our club, serving on the committee for a number of years but will be best remembered as the friendly face welcoming members to our Main meetings and selling tickets for the lucky door prizes.
Rest in peace, Dennis.

He had only recently appeared on one of our remote Zoom com­mu­ni­ca­tions Main Meetings.

Dennis was the Group Secretary for several years and was an active long term member of the Sydney PC & Technology User Group and will be sadly missed.”

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,

Meeting This 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.

We'll have the usual Q&A and other discussions.

Meetings Next Week:

Main Meeting - Tuesday, 28 Jul - 10:30 am (11:00 am meeting start) - 12:30 pm

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

Our 11:00 am July 28th Main Meeting will Zoom Camtasia from the USA.

Over $3,500 worth of Camtasia Video Editing Software prizes still to be won.

— Alex

Penrith Group - Saturday, 1 Aug - 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

We have cancelled this meeting until further notice.

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

53 2020/08/01 — 14:00-17:00 — 01 Aug, Saturday — Penrith Group


Tech News:

“New organic materials 'unlock' faster, more flexible mobiles, electronic devices, say researchers”:

See the iTWire article by Peter Dinham Wednesday, 15 July 2020 11:21 am.

Mobile phones and other electronic devices made from an organic material that is thin, bendable and more powerful are now a step closer, according to researchers at the Australian National University (ANU).

The ANU researchers, led by Dr Ankur Sharma and Associate Professor Larry Lu said the research would help create the next generation of ultra-fast electronic chips, "which promise to be much faster than current electronic chips we use."

"Conventional devices run on electricity — but this material allows us to use light or photons, which travels much faster," Dr Sharma said.

"The interesting properties we have observed in this material make it a contender for super-fast electronic processors and chips."

"We now have the perfect building block to achieve flexible next-generation electronics."

Associate Professor Lu said they observed "interesting functions and capabilities in their organic material, previously unseen."

"The capabilities we observed in this material can help us achieve ultra-fast electronic devices," Associate Professor Lu said.

The team say they were able to control the growth of "novel organic semiconductor material — stacking one molecule precisely over the other."

"The material is just one carbon atom thick, a hundred times thinner than a human hair, which gives it the flexibility to be bent into any shape. This material will lead to its application in flexible electronic devices," Associate Professor Lu said.

In 2018 the same team developed a material that combined both organic and inorganic elements, and the ANU says now, they've been able to improve the organic part of the material, allowing them to remove the inorganic component altogether.

"It's made from just carbon and hydrogen, which would mean devices can be biodegradable or easily recyclable, thus avoiding the tonnes of e-waste generated by current generation electronic devices," Dr Sharma said. "While the actual devices might still be some way off, this new study is an important next step and a key demonstration of this new material's immense capabilities."

The research has been published in the journal Nature: Light Science & Applications.

Read more »

“UK excuse for Huawei ban just does not hold water”:

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Wednesday, 15 July 2020 11:18 am.

Author's Opinion
The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

If we are to believe the excuse being trotted out by the UK for changing its stance on the use of gear from Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies in its 5G networks, then semiconductors made by one company are not as safe as those made by another company — though they are all made to the same specs.

And if you believe that, then I have a massive gold mine in my suburb, Doncaster, that I am willing to sell for just $121.

This excuse is the essence of the "security" issue that has been raised by Britain after being pushed by the paranoid US after the latter put in place measures that would prevent Huawei from placing orders with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturer, the company from which it has been buying 98% of the semiconductors it needs. This is Iraq war-grade deceit.

The new American strictures put in place last month make changes in the country's Foreign Direct Product Rule. These restrict the selling of equipment made using American technology — even by firms outside the US — to any company that is blacklisted by the US Department of Commerce.

America makes the vast majority of the chip-making equipment and design software. But there are other sources, both European and Asian. And given that Huawei has deep pockets and also has the added force of being a Chinese entity, it is not in any way unreasonable to conclude that it would cut a deal somewhere to keep its main business going.

At present, only South Korea's Samsung and TSMC make the most advanced semiconductors, the ones that are 7nm in size. There has already been a report saying that there was a deal brewing between Huawei and Samsung, whereby Huawei would give up part of its share in the smartphone market by spinning off its smartphone unit so that it could be taken up by Samsung. And in return, the report said, Samsung would provide it with the chips it needs, all made using European equipment.

As Christopher Plummer put it so adroitly in the movie Syriana: "There is more than one way to light Europe." The FDPR restriction can be got around by not using American equipment to make semiconductors; Japanese firms Tokyo Electron and Hitachi High-Technologies are just two names that suggest themselves as alternative sources of high-quality machinery.

The Economist highlighted the fact that one of the significant difficulties the Americans face in policing the sale of semiconductors — to find if any rogue operation is meeting Huawei's needs — is the fact that the business is spread around the globe.

There has even been a report that the recent announcement by TSMC that it would set up a factory in Arizona was so that it could move its American equipment to the Arizona plant and then use material from other countries to make semiconductors in Taiwan. Those could, of course, be supplied to Huawei without any violation of American rules.

Those who say that these are unlikely trading partners should bear in mind that even when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, the Arabs continued to trade with Tel Aviv. Ultimately, money is the only thing that tilts the scales.

The Economist also cites the fact that the chief of Samsung, another major player in the semiconductor industry, toured its new factory in Xian, China recently. Samsung has indicated that it does not intend to ignore China when it comes to this branch of its business. And it could use non-American equipment to avoid any run-ins with Washington.

As a last resort, companies holding patents on tool-making could always shift their patents abroad and avoid American restrictions altogether. All these factors put together could, in the end, drive part of the semiconductor industry out of the US, not exactly the outcome that power brokers in the US expect.

So would that then lead to a deterioration in the standards to which semiconductors are made? Rubbish.

None of these methods of supplying Huawei would result in inferior products reaching the Chinese 5G giant. So the announcement by Britain's National Cyber Security Centre technical experts that there were no alternatives for semiconductor supply in which the UK had sufficient confidence is pure hooey. Is there something wrong with Samsung? Or TSMC? Or Japanese equipment? Or European equipment?

But who will ask any questions? People just drink the Kool-Aid and stay in their state of somnolence.

The NCSC also claimed that Huawei would no longer have access to the technology on which it currently relies — this is nothing but an out-and-out lie.

If anyone in Britain had cojones, they would come out and say, "Hey look, we can't take the pressure from the US, we are going to fold, we have sold our souls to the Americans, and if they ask us to build our networks with chestnuts, we will do so.

"But please do not stand in the way of a trade deal with us, we are on the verge of penury." The decision is political from start to finish, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cronies lack the guts to say so.

Read more »

“The Superstrata Is an Insane Made-to-Order 3D-Printed Carbon Fibre Bike.”

See the Review Geek article by CAMERON SUMMERSON @summerson 13 JULY 2020, 10:00 am EDT.

Carbon fibre bicycle printed on 3D-printer

3D-Printed Bike

When it comes to bikes, finding the right size is crucial — especially when you're going to spend thousands of dollars on that bike. If you get the sizing wrong, you'll ultimately be in for a world of discomfort. But a new startup brand called Superstrata wants to change that with its truly customized completely bespoke bike.

Everything about this bike is fascinating to me, because not only is each one wholly customized for its rider's build based on specific measurements, but it's an entirely 3D-printed unibody design. That means the entire frame is created with a single pass. Like many other high-end bikes, both the frame and fork are full carbon fibre.

One of the many benefits of carbon-fibre bicycles is that the carbon layup can be tuned to enhance or reduce certain ride qualities. For example, a stiffer layup will lead to a more efficient power transfer, but often also a harsher ride. Similarly, a more compliant layup will offer a more comfortable ride, which frequently comes with a compromise on stiffness. Manufacturers are continually finding new ways to combine these two for the best of both worlds.

With the Superstrata's unibody design, however, the company was able to think outside of the box both in terms of layout and design. I'm an avid cyclist and can't say I've ever seen another bike quite like the Superstrata. The overall design is very forward-thinking, as it nixes the seat tube and relies on the seat stays for structural rigidity.

While the gearing hasn't been ironed out, I was told that there would be multiple versions of both the Terra and Ion to choose from, including flat bars and drop bars, along with numerous tyre-size options. Because the frame and fork are both 3D printed for each customer, users will be able to choose from a racier 700×28 wheel/tyre combo up to a beefier gravel-friendly 650×50. I imagine that the frames designed for the larger tyre size will also be compatible with smaller sizes — again, a very popular trend with modern one-and-done bikes — making for a truly versatile bike.

The Terra will be available starting at $2,799 and the Ion at $3,999, but early birds who buy through the Indiegogo campaign can snag either bike for half off. The campaign starts today, with the company delivering the first bikes in December of this year.

I love both tech and bikes, so I look forward to seeing where things go for Superstrata. At some point, I genuinely hope I get the opportunity to throw a leg over one and spend some miles seeing what it's all about. I'll make sure to let you all know about it when that day comes.

Read more »

“Zoom Video Conferencing a Major Risk on Windows 7”:

See the Infopackets article by John Lister on 13 July 2020 at 02:07 pm EDT.

Windows 7 computers running the Zoom videoconferencing tool are at risk from a "zero-day" vulnerability. It's a reminder of the dangers of an outdated operating system.

The problem will be fixed in a patch by Zoom itself rather than from Microsoft. Microsoft dropped support for Windows 7 on January 14 this year, meaning it doesn't offer security updates or fix any bugs.

A zero-day vulnerability is one that is known by somebody other than the developer or manufacturer before a fix is ready. In effect, the developers have "zero days" of head-start distributing the fix before people can start trying to exploit it.

Rogue File Unlocks Remote Access

Exactly how the bug worked is being kept secret, for now, to avoid tipping off more cybercriminals. What is known is that it involves trying to get users to open a file attachment, for example, in a bogus e-mail.

If Zoom is installed on the computer, the file uses the security flaw to give a hacker remote access and execute arbitrary code — in effect, to take control of the machine. (Source: 0patch.com)

An independent researcher discovered the bug and reported it to security specialist 0patch, which in turn disclosed it to Zoom.

One in Five Still on Windows 7

It's arguably the highest-profile bug to affect Windows 7 since Microsoft withdrew security support. The Statcounter site estimates that as of last month, just under 20 per cent of people with a Windows PC were still running Windows 7. (Source: statcounter.com)

Every time Microsoft drops security support for an old version of Windows, it creates a dilemma for the company. If they leave flaws unpatched, they risk a sizable number of users being affected — particularly with malware that spreads from machine to machine.

On the other hand, continuing to patch older systems past the scheduled date reduces the incentive for people to upgrade. The problem was particularly significant with the phasing out of Windows XP when a high proportion of people were deterred by the terrible reception to Windows Vista and never upgraded.

Read more »

Fun Facts:

“An Introduction to Knots”:

See the Stanford University paper by Giovanni De Santi on 11 December 2002.

An Introduction to the Theory of Knots
Giovanni De Santi
December 11, 2002

1 Knot Theory

Knot theory is an appealing subject because the objects studied are familiar in everyday physical space. The subject matter of knot theory is familiar to everyone, and its problems are easily stated, arising not only in many branches of mathematics but also in such diverse fields as biology, chemistry, and physics. It is often unclear how to apply mathematical techniques even to the most fundamental problems. We proceed to present these mathematical techniques.

1.1 Knots

The intuitive notion of a knot is that of a knotted loop of rope. This notion leads naturally to the definition of a knot as a continuous simple closed curve in R3 [ standard 3-D space — Ed. ].

Such a curve consists of a continuous function f : [0, 1] --> R3 with f(0) = f(1) and with f(x) = f(y) implying one of three possibilities:

1. x = y

2. x = 0 and y = 1

3. x = 1 and y = 0

Unfortunately, this definition admits pathological or so-called wild knots into our studies. The remedies are either to introduce the concept of smoothly-changing values or to use straight-line segmented curves instead of smooth curves in the definition. The simplest definitions in knot theory are based on the latter approach.

Definition 1.1 (knot) A knot is a simple closed polygonal curve in R3.

The ordered set (p1, p2, . . . , pn) defines a knot; the knot being the union of the line segments [p1, p2], [p2, p3], . . . , [pn-1, pn], and [pn, p1].

Definition 1.2 (vertices) If the ordered set (p1, p2, . . . , pn) defines a knot, and no proper ordered subset defines the same knot, the elements of the set, pi, are called the vertices of the knot.

Unfortunately, after this, it gets slightly more complicated — Ed.

However, here's a "simple" Knotty problem you might like to try, referred by Steve OBrien, Leader of the Programming SIG.

— Ed.

“Did you know that there are NO knots in 4 Dimensions?”:

Apparently, in 4 dimensions, any knot can be unwound, thus becoming a simple loop; in other words, the un-knot!

Here is a 3m37s YouTube video showing how that might appear.

See, below, where the bottom loop is lifted magically into the fourth dimension and comes back the other side of the top loop.

We can now unwind it.

Voilà no knot!

Here is a 4D knot       Now the 4D-Knot is undone via 4D magic

Wow! 4D Magic — Ed.

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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