2021 Newsletter: 10/34 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

The 2021 Survey

Steve South has created a survey to see when Members would like to re-start face-to-face meetings. There are questions about all of our meetings to find out what meetings Members would attend.

Here is a link to the Google docs Survey:


If you haven't voted yet, please fill out this important Survey.

The results will be revealed next week.


— Ed.

Meetings This Week


Meeting Next Week

Programming - Tuesday, 9 Feb - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

Hi Team,

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

See the Progsig Meeting Reports:


The next meeting is on Tuesday 9th February 2021, at 6 pm.


— Steve OBrien

Current & Upcoming Virtual Meetings

 9 2021/02/09 — 17:30-20:30 — 09 Feb, Tue — Programming, via Jitsi
13 2021/02/20 — 13:30-16:30 — 20 Feb, Sat — Web Design, via Zoom
14 2021/02/23 — 17:30-20:30 — 23 Feb, Tue — MAIN Meeting, via Zoom
15 2021/02/26 — 09:30-12:30 — 26 Feb, Fri — Digital Photography, via Zoom


Tech News:

Thunderbird keeps Crashing

Since the release of Version 78.6.1 (January 11, 2021) I have been experiencing daily crashes of the e-mail client, Thunderbird. However, it doesn't seem to affect the running of the program.

All that happens is that a Popup appears offering to send details to Thunderbird (and promising feedback if you include your e-mail address).

So far, no feedback has been sighted.

Here's the Popup:

This shows the Thunderbird Crash message.

Any suggestions?

— Ed.

How Smart is AVG?

Here is what AVG has found:

AVG says I'm at Quakers Hill.

Quakers Hill is 40 Km North-West of the Sydney CBD.

I am near Sutherland, 33 Km South of the CBD.

Here's a rough layout of Quakers Hill, the CBD and Sutherland:

How far between Quakers Hill and Sutherland?

By Pythagoras' Theorem, the Hypotenuse^2 = side1^2 + side2^2.

Side 1 = 33 + 20*sqrt(2).

Side 2 = 20*sqrt(2).

Thus, the Hypotenuse^2 = (33 + 20*sqrt(2))^2 + (20*sqrt(2))^2 = 1089 + 2*660*sqrt(2) + 800 + 800.

This comes to 2689 + 1320*sqrt(2) or 4555.7619…

The square root gives 67.496 Kms.

ONLY 67.5 Kms out as the crow flies. That's a FAIL for AVG — Ed.

Windows 10 Bug Crashes Your PC

Referred by Jeff Garland: See the YouTube video by Channel Britec09, 19 Jan 2021.

Windows 10 has more bugs than a roach infestation. Now people are at significant risk for a bit of code that can be used as an exploit to crash people's computers by causing a blue screen of death (BSOD). In my testing, it crashed the computer and made it non-bootable, and it had to be repaired. This code is scary stuff, and people run the risk of losing data when the computer crashes like this.

Ed. — WARNING: Do NOT run this code on your computer.

Credit for finding the bug goes to Jonas Lykkegaard.

For more information, please read the Bleeping Computer article.

Watch More »

Reset Australia says 'Google's egregious threats prove regulation is long overdue.'

See the iTWire article by Alex Zaharov-Reutt | Friday, 22 January 2021 14:09.

Although Google has come to a deal to pay French publishers for news, Google Australia is threatening to withdraw Google Search and services from Australia, with Reset Australia's Chris Cooper suggesting that regulation is the answer.

As noted in colleague Sam Varghese's article entitled: "Google signs French deal to pay newspapers for snippets", French authorities have signed an agreement with Google for the search company to pay publishers for the use of news snippets in search results.

Sam's article has details of the agreement, as well as a link to his story on Australia's effort to get Google to pay having progressed to a Parliamentary Senate hearing.

His story about Google's unwillingness to accept Australia's desires is here.

Google Australia's MD, Mel Silva, has laid out her case in an open letter (including a video statement) here, as well as linking to Silva's statement at the Senate hearing, here.

In response, Chris Cooper, executive director, Reset Australia said:

"Today's egregious threats show Google has the body of a behemoth, but the brain of a brat".

"When a private corporation tries to use its monopoly power to threaten and bully a sovereign nation, it's a surefire sign that regulation is long overdue".

"Internet search is necessary for society and the economy. Google enjoys the enormous advantage of being a giant in the space but thinks it can eschew the responsibility. That's not how things should work".

"Google runs a service that is entangled in the day-to-day running of society. Energy companies, transport companies, logistic enterprises — all are heavily regulated and respect that this is part of their licence to operate".

"The Australian Government needs to stand firm and set an example for governments around the world".

"In democracies, it is the people who set the rules for corporations, not the other way around," Cooper concluded.

Read More »

Fun Facts:

Mathematician Finds Easier Way to Solve Quadratic Equations.

See the Popular Mechanics article by CAROLINE DELBERT DEC 8, 2020.

  • A mathematician at Carnegie Mellon University has developed an easier way to solve quadratic equations.
  • The mathematician hopes this method will help students avoid memorizing obtuse formulas.
  • His secret is in generating two roots together instead of keeping them as separate values.

Quadratic equations are polynomials that include an x^2, and teachers use them to teach students to find two solutions at once. The new process, developed by Dr Po-Shen Loh at Carnegie Mellon University, goes around traditional methods like completing the square and turns finding roots into a simpler thing involving fewer steps that are also more intuitive.

Here's Dr Loh's 3m48s explainer video.

Quadratic equations fall into an interesting doughnut hole in education. Students learn them beginning in algebra or pre-algebra classes, but they're spoonfed examples that work out very quickly and with whole-number solutions. The same thing happens with the Pythagorean Theorem. Most school examples end up solving out to Pythagorean triples, the small set of integer values that work cleanly into the Pythagorean Theorem.

Dr Loh's Method:

Solving the Quadratic the new, easy way

Suppose you have the following equation to solve:

x^2 - 8x + 12 = 0.

You need the product of the solutions to be 12 and the sum to be 8.

We could try (1 and 12), (2 and 6) or (3 and 4).

Since the product is + 12, (-1 and -12), (-2 and -6) and (-3 and -4) also give a product of + 12.

SUCCESS: Trying 2 and 6, the expression (x - 2) * (x - 6) becomes x^2 - 8x + 12 which is the correct answer.

But six possible pairs of numbers to try — that's a lot of guesswork!

And we thought Mathematics was an exact science.

"Normally, when we do a factoring problem, we are trying to find two numbers that multiply to 12 and add to 8," Dr Loh said. Those two numbers are the solution to the quadratic, but it takes students a lot of time to solve for them, as they're often using a guess-and-check approach.

Instead of starting by factoring the product, 12, Loh begins with the sum, 8.

If the two numbers we're looking for, added together, equal 8, they must be equidistant from their average, 4. So the numbers can be represented as 4 - u and 4 + u.

We know the product of the solutions is 12, so when you multiply the two expressions, 4 - u and 4 + u, the middle terms cancel out, and you come up with the equation:

16 - u^2 = 12 or 4 = u^2.

When solving for u, you'll see that positive and negative 2 each work. When you substitute those integers back into the expressions 4 - u and 4 + u, you get the two solutions, 2 and 6, which solve the original polynomial equation.

It's quicker than the classic foiling method (First, Outer, Inner and Last terms) used in the quadratic formula — and there's no guessing required!

Read More »

Meeting Location & Disclaimer

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

Information for Members and Visitors:

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