2020 Newsletter: 48/89 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Committee News:

To judge the feelings of Members, we would like you to indicate your preference for restarting face-to-face meetings.

Steve South has produced an anonymous online Poll with only two questions in the Attendance Survey:

  • Q1: Do you wish to attend face-to-face SPC&TUG Meetings from October?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Q2: If No, when?
    • November
    • January

Please go to the SPC&TUG Attendance Survey to have your say.

Ron Ferguson,
President and

Steve South,

Meeting This Week:

Penrith Group - Saturday, 5 Sep - 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

We have cancelled this meeting until further notice.

Meetings Next Week:

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

Hi Team,

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

See the Progsig Meeting Reports:



— Steve OBrien

Friday Forum - Friday, 11 Sep - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - noon

We have cancelled this meeting until further notice.

Communications - Friday, 11 Sep - 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

We have cancelled this meeting until further notice.

Current & Upcoming Meetings:
(Face-to-Face Meetings for September Cancelled)

61 2020/09/05 — 14:00-17:00 — 05 Sep, Saturday — Penrith Group
62 2020/09/08 — 17:30-20:30 — 08 Sep, Tuesday — Programming SIG, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms
63 2020/09/11 — 09:30-12:30 — 11 Sep, Friday — Friday Forum, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms
64 2020/09/11 — 12:30-15:30 — 11 Sep, Friday — Communications, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms
65 2020/09/15 — 09:30-12:30 — 15 Sep, Tuesday — Tuesday Forum, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms
66 2020/09/19 — 13:30-16:30 — 19 Sep, Saturday — Web Design, L3 Norman Selfe + (?) Rooms
67 2020/09/22 — 17:30-20:30 — 22 Sep, Tuesday — Main Meeting, L1 Carmichael + Dowling Rooms
68 2020/09/25 — 09:30-12:30 — 25 Sep, Friday — Digital Photography, L1 Woolley + Lawson Rooms [ Discontinued ]


Tech News:

“Researchers Can Duplicate Keys from the Sounds They Make in Locks”:

See the Research article by Jason Kottke 18 August 2020.

Researchers have demonstrated that they can make a working 3D-printed copy of a key just by listening to how the key sounds when inserted into a lock. And you don't need a fancy mic — a smartphone or smart doorbell will do nicely if you can get it close enough to the lock.

The next time you unlock your front door, it might be worth trying to insert your key as quietly as possible; researchers have discovered that the sound of your key being inserted into the lock gives attackers all they need to make a working copy of your front door key.

It sounds unlikely, but security researchers say they have proven that the series of audible, metallic clicks made as a key penetrates a lock can now be deciphered by signal processing software. The sounds will reveal the precise shape of the sequence of ridges on the key's shaft. Knowing this (the actual cut of your key), a working copy of it can then be three-dimensionally (3D) printed.

How Soundarya Ramesh and her team accomplished this is a fascinating read.

Once they have a key-insertion audio file, SpiKey's inference software gets to work filtering the signal to reveal the strong, metallic clicks as key ridges hit the lock's pins [and you can hear those filtered clicks online here]. These clicks are vital to the inference analysis: the time between them allows the SpiKey software to compute the key's inter-ridge distances and what locksmiths call the "bitting depth" of those ridges: how deeply they cut into the key shaft, or where they plateau out. If a key is inserted at a non-constant speed, the analysis can be ruined, but the software can compensate for small speed variations.

Read more »

“Twenty-five years ago today: Microsoft launched Windows 95”:

See the ZDNet article by Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft | 24 August 2020 — 12:17 GMT (22:17 AEST) | Topic: Windows.

During a year when every day feels like Monday, the passage of time is harder than usual to calculate (at least for me). But today is a milestone worth marking: On August 24, 1995, Microsoft officially launched Windows 95 and Internet Explorer 1.0.

Since that launch, the company has rolled out many additional Windows iterations, though none of them anywhere near as grandly (and like, as costly) as Windows 95.

I've previously written a couple of commemorative posts about the Windows 95 launch. In 2010, I remembered being part of the Windows 95 launch audience on the grounds of the Microsoft Redmond campus. In 2015, I looked back at how the Windows franchise had changed since the Windows 95 launch.

Right now, massively orchestrated in-person launches like the Windows 95 one are nearly unfathomable. The period leading up to the launch of a new Windows release has changed so completely over the past 25 years. It's hard for many to remember — or even believe — that many testers installed Windows 95 test builds weekly from loads of diskettes to have a chance to test the new features ahead of time.

Will there ever be another launch like the Windows 95 one? Highly unlikely, I'd say, given Microsoft's focus on the cloud and the way new Windows releases have become little more than blips on the Redmond radar screen.

If you want to reminisce via some fun Windows 95 memorabilia, check out Stephen Chapman's BetaCollector.com blog for everything from Windows 95 beer, to beta tester letters and launch programs.

Read more »

“Optus claims first 2300 MHz + 3500 MHz 5G carrier aggregation call”:

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Wednesday, 26 August 2020 11:26 am.

Australia's second-biggest telco Singtel Optus has teamed up with Swedish telecommunications equipment provider Ericsson to make what it claims is the world's first 2300 + 3500 MHz 5G non-standalone carrier aggregation call.

A statement from the company said the demonstration was carried out in Sydney using the Samsung Galaxy S20 5G handset range.

"5G carrier aggregation is a significant technology milestone that provides us with the ability to combine two spectrum frequencies with improving and extending the coverage, speed and capacity of our 5G network," said Lambo Kanagaratnam, Optus managing director Networks.

"When using carrier aggregation, customers will see an improved experience when using data-hungry applications and services, such as high-resolution video streaming, AR/VR and downloading large files."

"It will also ensure that these applications run seamlessly when our 5G network is in high demand and being used by many customers simultaneously."

"We are ambitious in our 5G network rollout, and together with our technology partner, Ericsson, this testing has further demonstrated how carrier aggregation can and will play an important role in optimising the capacity of our network."

Optus said the demonstration showed "the benefits of utilising both spectrum frequencies simultaneously [which was] a significant increase in the average and peak 5G speeds. Customers, with an eligible handset, will benefit from as the capability becomes available across Optus' Sydney and Melbourne 5G dual-band network later this year."

Martin Wiktorin, Head of Ericsson Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines and Global Customer Unit, Singtel, said: "Ericsson is pleased to be working with Optus in deploying 5G TDD-TDD carrier aggregation [ 'time-division duplexing' — Ed. ] on 5G ‡NSA. 5G TDD-TDD carrier aggregation on 5G NSA allows Optus to combine its mid-band spectrum to deliver its customers higher 5G peak speeds and is an essential step towards building Optus' 5G network."

"The Galaxy S20 5G and Note20 5G have introduced to our customers, a range of completely new experiences which extend from the handset design and chipsets, through to the incredible network performance in Australia," said Garry McGregor, vice-president, Mobile Division, Samsung Electronics Australia.

"We are committed to working with our partners to build on many years of investment in calibrating our devices for the Australian market."

Read more »

What is Dual Mode 5G? See explanation by Oppo.

‡NSA (Non-Standalone Access) and SA (Standalone Access) are the two 5G network modes.

NSA relies on the 4G network facilities to provide more speed and higher data bandwidth. A 5G-enabled smartphone will connect to 5G or 4G network depending on conditions.

On the other hand, SA is the true 5G network, where the 5G network has its dedicated 5G facilities to provide enormous speed improvements and minimal network latency (delay). The 5G SA network is independent of the 4G network.

— Ed.

“New Tab Groups in Google Chrome 85 and Microsoft Edge”:

Tab Groups in Google Chrome:

First, check your Chrome version. Go to Help | About Google Chrome; the version number should be 85.0.4183.83 or higher.

Then, in a new tab, enter "chrome://flags" and search for "tab groups".

Tab Group settings

Change the Defaults to "Enabled" and restart Chrome.

You can now create groups of tabs with like webpages in them.

As a test, open any two tabs with webpages you would like to group.

Right-click on the first tab and click on "Add tab to group". Choose "New group" the first time. A circular icon will then appear to the left of this tab, and clicking on it will let you name the group.

Then, right-clicking on the second tab allows you to choose either "New group" or the group you have just created.

The groups appear among the tabs, with a coloured underline linking the tabs in each group. When not looking at a tab in one group, you can click on the names of other groups to collapse each of them down to just the group name. You can't collapse the tabs belonging to the current group.

Tab Group example:

Here is an example of three groups, showing the space-saving and convenience of tab groups.

There are two tabs in the SydPC group, two in Bob and three in the Factors group.

Tab Group examples

Tab Groups in Microsoft Edge:

The above description also applies to the Microsoft Edge browser, except that you enter an initial "edge://flags" to get to the settings page.


These groups do not collapse when you click on the Group names.

You will, however, notice a "Close group" option. Please do not click on this, thinking that it means collapse groups. It will close all the tabs in the group. If you do this to all the groups, the browser itself will close.

— Ed.

Fun Facts:

“Why Doesn't The U.S. Use The Metric System?”:

See The Fact Site article by Michelle Gabriel, 2020.

Sadly, the United States will probably never be able to adapt to completely using the Metric System, even though it is significantly easier to understand, and the rest of the world uses it.

Why will the United States never adapt, you ask? Well, the most straightforward answer is that it would take too much time and money — and that the Metric system is used almost as often as the Imperial system.

Let me explain the stubbornness of America:

When the discussion of switching unit systems arose in Congress in 1975, the passage of a bill favouring the metric system was thwarted by big businesses and American citizens who didn't want to go through the time-consuming and expensive hassle of changing the country's entire infrastructure.

Many also believed that the United States should keep its particular system, setting it apart from other countries and symbolizing its status as a leader rather than a follower.

What even is the Metric system, and what does America use instead?

Ruler showing inches and centimetres

Most countries use the Metric System, which uses the measuring units such as metres and grams and adds prefixes like kilo, milli and centi to count orders of magnitude.

In the United States, we use the older Imperial system, where things are measured in feet, inches and pounds.

This split system exists for reasons, but arguments about how to create a good national standard of measurement go back to 1790.

The metric system is appealing because it's so easy.

The metric system is based on a measure of 10.

It allows conversions from different units more easily — merely moving a decimal point either to the left or to the right.

For example, 1 millimetre is equal to 0.001 metres; a centimetre, which is a unit 10 times larger than a millimetre, is 0.01 metres.

The basis of the Imperial system is significantly less fluid, and numbers vary wildly as there is no set rule to each measurement.

The United States is metric, or at least more metric than most of us realize.

Despite the national controversy, American manufacturers have put out all-metric cars, and the wine and spirits industry abandoned fifths for 75-millilitre bottles.

The metric system is, quietly and behind the scenes, now the standard in most industries, with a few notable exceptions like construction.

Its use in public life is also on the uptick, as anyone who has run a "5K" can tell you.

America has been creeping towards metrification almost since the country was founded.

In Conclusion

In modern times, most have accepted a joint unit system — teaching children in school both the traditionally used IS system and the metric system that most of the rest of the world uses.

It is why U.S. measuring sticks, or rulers, often contain both inches and centimetres.

Unfortunately for metrics fans, widespread acceptance of everyday use also means that there likely will be no official phasing out of the US system anytime soon.

Read more »

Reader comment:

James 17 June 2020

Rather interesting, but in the UK (namely Scotland) we use a mixture of both. Examples would be: We use miles for distance and MPH when driving. For short measurements, we use metric, e.g. mm, cm, metres. But if it's a person's height we use feet and inches! For a person's weight, we use stones and ounces!

How confusing is that!

— Ed.

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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