2020 Newsletter: 53/54 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour
WEEKLY NEWSLETTER 14 - 19 SEPTEMBER 2020

Hello and Welcome,

Survey Results:

So far, we have had 28 responses.

67.9% or 19 have said No resumption of face-to-face meetings yet.

32.1% or 9 have said Yes to resumption.

Of those who said No, 77.3% or 17 respondents preferred restarting in January over 22.7% or five who liked November.

[ Possibly should be 89.5% or 17 respondents preferred restarting in January over 10.5% or two who liked November. That's a total of 19 saying No instead of 22 — Ed. ]

— Steve South

Meetings This Week:

Tuesday Forum - Tuesday, 15 Sep - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - noon

We have cancelled this meeting until further notice.

Web Design - Saturday, 19 Sep - 1:30 pm (2:00 pm meeting start) - 4:00 pm

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

Meeting Next Week:

Main Meeting - Tuesday, 22 Sep - TIME and SPEAKER to be ANNOUNCED

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

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 ]

ASCCA News:

Have You Tried the Be Connected Courses?

Hello from ASCCA, the Australian Seniors Computer Club Association.

It was only about seven months ago that I was making plans to use the Be Connected courses for free lessons at the ASCCA Sydney Office. But then COVID-19 arrived and, sadly, I had to cancel.

Meanwhile, the eSafety Commission has been busy adding more and more free courses to the Be Connected website. The newest ones have introductions to MyGov, Online Banking and Buying and Selling Online. The quality and scope of this free learning material are outstanding, and it would be a shame if some people were unaware of it. The material is suitable for beginner and intermediate users.

Please click here for some important detail about the Be Connected system and three ways that you might choose to use it, including how ASCCA can help.

The courses are at https://­beconnected.­esafety.­gov.­au/.

If some of this seems a bit tricky, send me an email and suggest a time for a phone call where I can assist you.

Mark.

Mark Young
SWADE NSW Project Officer

Level LG | 280 Pitt Street | Sydney | NSW | 2000
P: (02) 9286 3871 | W: www.ascca.org.au
E: markyoung@ascca.org.au
FB: www.facebook.com/ASCCAau | www.facebook.com/SWADEASCCA
M: 0413 425 430

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:

Aussie Broadband should level with users about price rise

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Monday, 07 September 2020 10:27 am.

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

ISP Aussie Broadband has informed its users that it will be increasing its prices after the end of November, but the reason for the increase appears to have changed from what was initially stated.

The note about this is dated 3 August on the provider's site but was only sent to users on 5 September (I am an Aussie Broadband subscriber). Why the delay in sending this email around?

NBN Co announced a few days back that it would be extending its 40% additional wholesale connectivity virtual circuit capacity offer at no extra cost to ISPs until the end of November.

When managing director Phillip Britt made the original announcement about the price rise back in July, he said the company had seen its customers settle into a pattern of using about 10% more bandwidth than originally predicted pre-COVID. He believed this reflected "permanently changed behaviour".

But the most recent notice — the one I got on 5 September — says I can continue at the same price I pay now ($99 per month for 100/40 Mbps) if I am agreeable to having my upload speed — not download speed, mind you — cut by half.

Else, the notice states, I would have to pay an extra $10 per month.

So what is the issue? Downloads? Or uploads? It is indeed a little confusing.

Further, the 5 September notice says that the company is losing money on a lot of plans like mine. That sounds a bit crazy — how does a company stay in business while it is continually losing money?

As I have written before, I think the company is using the COVID-19 issue as an excuse to slip a price rise through. When Britt wants, he can explain things very simply. Surprisingly, he is choosing not to do so now.

Read more »

Aussie Broadband offers its reasons for price rises on some plans

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Tuesday, 08 September 2020 08:29 am.

ISP Aussie Broadband has responded to the points raised in these columns on Monday about its decision to raise prices. The response was sent to me.

Given that the op-ed in question ran as a regular article, the company has been afforded the same treatment.

The response has been used in full, with only minor tweaks for style and grammar.

“[We] understand the confusion, but let's try to make it really clear:

We are only increasing prices for plans that are not currently making any money, or on which we are losing money. This decision mainly affects our 100 Mbps plans and legacy plans that have been around for a while.

We are not making any money on these plans for several reasons, including:

Customers in the 100-speed tier are using more peak-time data than NBN Co has allowed for in its wholesale product, and thus we're paying "overage" to avoid congested services. As a comparison, people on 100 Mbps plans use about 100% more peak-time data than those on 50 Mbps plans yet NBN Co only has 60% more CVC included.

Other costs across the network and business have also gone up.

We've held off introducing this price rise because of COVID-19, but we've reached the point where we really have to go ahead.

It is our commercial choice to aim for a congestion-free network; other ISPs will be making other commercial choices about the quality of their product versus price.

To address your specific concerns:

In July, we flagged our worries about the CVC construct and how it causes uncertainty for ISPs because customers' usage patterns are continually changing, and predicted that it would affect prices in the future. That is part of the reason why our prices are increasing.

NBN Co charges us a different wholesale price on the 100/20 plan to what it offers on the 100/40 plan, which is why we can offer to adjust your upload speed down and have the plan remain at the same price.

If we were using COVID-19 as an excuse to put this price rise through, we'd be doing it for all our other speed plans (12/25/50/250/1GB), but we're not. The inclusions with those wholesale speed tiers are enough for us to be making some profit on those plans (at the lower speeds, customers don't use as much data and the high-speed plans have much more prominent inclusions from NBN Co in the wholesale bundle).

As an example, NBN Co's next change to the CVC inclusions is in May 2021, and we believe the usage pattern we see on the 50/20 unlimited will make it through until then.”

— Katrina Salhioui, media and communications officer, Aussie Broadband.

Read more »

Stop Buying Inkjet Printers and Buy a Laser Printer Instead

See the How-To Geek article by CRAIG LLOYD | @craigelloyd | UPDATED 4 SEPTEMBER 2020, 8:04 pm EDT.


Laser printer by Brother

Are you sick and tired of how slow your inkjet printer is? Does it seem like the ink always runs out? Do yourself a favour and replace that hunk of junk with a quality laser printer.

You may think that laser printers are meant for the business world and have no use in a residential setting, but you'd be woefully incorrect. Laser printers are taking homes by storm, and here's why.

Toner Lasts Way Longer Than Ink

While Inkjet printers use ink, laser printers use toner, which consists of a powder mixture mostly made up of plastics that melt when heated up and then bond to the paper. The use of toner is why printed documents come out nice and warm on a laser printer.

Ink cartridges don't last very long and have some pretty strict expiration dates. Toner cartridges, on the other hand, can last for several years. It's just plastic dust, after all, so there's nothing inside that is susceptible to drying out quickly and going bad. Laser printers are an excellent option for those who don't print very often.

Furthermore, you can get a ton of mileage out of a single toner cartridge. On the high end, an ink cartridge can print about 300 pages, whereas a toner cartridge can print a few thousand pages before it starts to get low. That's a huge difference.

Laser Printers Are Cheaper to Operate

A lot of people think that laser printers are incredibly expensive, but they're actually on par with most inkjet printers — and sometimes even cheaper.

For example, you can get an excellent quality Brother laser printer for well under $100, which is a steal considering that's just a one-time purchase for something that you'll own for years. There are other great laser printers under $200, too, if you want extra features like scanning or colour, but even that sub $100 model supports wireless networking, AirPrint, and Google Cloud Print.

Plus, toner cartridges are a better value overall when it comes to cost per page. This full set of HP ink cartridges is $45 and will yield about 190 pages at most — this will cost you around $0.24 per page. This Brother toner cartridge is a bit more expensive at $54, but it will print up to 2,600 pages, which comes out to an impressive $0.02 per page.

Laser Printers Print Way Faster

Laser printer by Hewlett-Packard

Speed may not be of the essence for you most of the time, but more often than not, you want to quickly print off a document and have it ready to go in as little time as possible. Speed is where laser printers shine.

This HP OfficeJet inkjet printer can print out up to 8.5 pages per minute. On the other hand, the Brother laser printer we linked to above can pump out up to 32 pages per minute, making the laser printer almost four times faster than its inkjet brethren.

There's Very Little Reason to Own an Inkjet Printer

For most people, an inkjet printer is overkill. Unless you regularly need to print out beautiful colour photos or documents, a laser printer can get the job done just as well.

And even if you print out the occasional colour document or photo, you're probably better off ordering prints online or going to a local print shop. You'll pay more when it comes to cost per page, but if you only need to print out a few high-quality photos now and then, that extra cost is negligible at best.

For the most part, your at-home printing will most likely consist of just black-and-white documents. And even then, you probably don't print that much, so a single toner cartridge can potentially last you several years. In contrast, ink cartridges will eventually expire and dry up. Long-life makes laser printers a perfect option for a residential setting.

Read more »


Fun Facts:

Why is there no equation for the perimeter of an ellipse?

See the 21m:04s YouTube video by Matt Parker 5 September 2020.

There is a simple equation for the circumference of a circle.

Comparing circle and ellipse circumferences

See the picture, above. Let our ellipse have semi-axes a and b (corresponding to the radius in a circle).

The area of a circle is pi·r^2, and the area for an ellipse turns out to be pi·a·b, as we might expect.

The circumference of a circle is 2·pi·r, so, you'd think that there should be a similar equation for the ellipse.

Unfortunately, not. There doesn't seem to be any such formula.

Even the great mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan only offered approximations. His first formula is pi·[3(a+b) - √(3a+b)(a+3b)].

In the video, it is claimed to give error rates like 0.005% for ellipses with an eccentricity of 3.5 or less.

[ The eccentricity shows how "squashed" the ellipse is. In terms of a and b, it's equal to √(a^2-b^2)/a. ]

Please watch the video to learn more about the attempts to solve this intriguing problem.

Watch more »


Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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