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Sydney Harbour
WEEKLY NEWSLETTER 15 - 20 FEBRUARY 2021

Hello and Welcome,

Meeting This Week

Web Design - Saturday, 20 Feb - 1:30 pm (2:00 pm meeting start) - 4:00 pm

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

— Steve South

Meetings Next Week

Main Meeting - Tuesday, 23 Feb - Time: TBA

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

— Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Digital Photography - Friday, 26 Feb - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - noon

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

— John Lucke

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

ASCCA News:

Newsletter for February 2021

Hello everyone.

Happy New Year!

Firstly, we're sending our very best wishes to Nan Bosler, who celebrated her birthday last week!

Secondly, we are pleased to link to the first ASCCA Newsletter for 2021. We trust everyone managed personal situations and enjoyed the festive season as best as you could.

A lot has happened in the last two months and continues to change very rapidly on a day by day basis, especially here in WA!

ASCCA continues to remain flexible in its support of all its affiliated Clubs and members.

Inside the Newsletter, you will find —

  • News from two member Clubs — OAM for Sue Martin from Avalon and media recognition for Peter Cumic of Berri
  • Dr Scott Hollier's first contribution — responding to queries from his ASCCA Conference presentation
  • ASCCA Announcements — and there's a raft of them!
  • Cyber Security warning on passwords
  • Shades of SWADE — WA

If you have a story about your Club or members that you think other Clubs and members may like to read, please feel free to send it in — we'd love to share what is happening throughout our Club Network.

So, for now, all the best and let's get working together to make up for 2020!

Warm regards,

Jenny

Jennifer Willcox,
President

Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association
Level LG, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
PH: 02 9286 3871
ascca@ascca.org.au
www.ascca.org.au


Tech News:

Here are 5 Free Software Programs That Are Actually Great for 2021.

Referred by Jeff Garland: See the 8m02s YouTube video by the TechGumbo channel.

If you want free software for your computer, you have many choices. To separate the good programs from the bad, I'll show you five free software programs for Windows, macOS, and Linux that are actually great! A few of which were recommended by viewers in the comments of prior videos.

The criteria for this year is simple. The program must be truly free of cost and open source with the source code freely available to the public to view, modify and distribute for any purpose.

Here are the topics:

  • Privacy-Friendly Web Browser
  • Cross-Platform Media Player
  • Office Suite (MS Office Alternative)
  • Disk Space Cleaner
  • Best Code Editor

Useful Links:

Waterfox — https://www.waterfox.net/

SMPlayer — https://www.smplayer.info/

OnlyOffice — https://www.onlyoffice.com/desktop.aspx

BleachBit — https://www.bleachbit.org/

Visual Studio Code — https://code.visualstudio.com/

TechGumbo is a leading source for the technology that we use each day. Whether it's discussing computer operating system tricks, the latest tips for your mobile phone, finding out about the newest gadgets, or letting you know about the best free software for your computer, TechGumbo has boundless topics on technology for the astute YouTube viewer.

Watch More »

NBN Co's HFC product is a dog's breakfast, claims Tasmanian RSP.

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Monday, 08 February 2021 10:18 am.

One of former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's contributions to the national broadband network, the HFC network, has been termed a dog's breakfast by a retail service provider.

Damian Ivereigh, the chief executive of the Launceston-based RSP Launtel, said in a blog post that HFC was the worst product that the NBN Co was selling. It is far worse than fixed wireless, with the latter technology having had some of its congestion issues fixed recently.

At the start of February, the NBN Co said it would stop providing new connections on the HFC network from 2 February onwards due to an acute shortage of network termination devices.

This is not the first time the HFC service has been hit by issues that have delayed new connections.

In November 2017, the NBN Co said it would halt the provision of new HFC services for between six and nine months while it fixed technical issues affecting the speeds that could be delivered on the network.

The company had to switch the technology used for connections in at least two Melbourne suburbs due to these technical issues.

Ivereigh, CEO of Launtel, one of the few RSPs who is not afraid to point out issues with the NBN, said the HFC services dropped out many times every day. "The NTD lights start flashing, and your service is down until it can resync with the HFC Node".

A second problem he listed was that the NTD had to be plugged in and connected before a service could be provisioned, meaning that multiple contacts were needed with the client.

"Even then, we see many provisioning attempts fail because apparently, the signal levels are too low. This then requires an NBN technician to go out and install a new NTD. This can be on an NTD that had an active service just days previously," he said.

A third issue that Ivereigh identified was that the NTD was not fixed to the wall as was done for fibre connections and fixed wireless, so tenants would often take the NTD with them when they moved house.

But this was counter-productive because the NTD would not work at another address and often ended up being thrown away. An NBN technician had to be sent out to install a new NTD.

He mentioned the delay in the supply of NTDs, which was disclosed by the NBN Co on 1 February but had been an issue in earlier months. "The net result is appointments for a new or a replacement NTD is typically two to three months out. It has become so bad that there are no appointments available at all to be booked on many occasions. We then have to raise a ticket with NBN Co to get that fixed (two to three days' delay)," he said.

Another problem was that NBN Co's systems often showed that multiple NTDs were on a single site, even though only one was there.

"There is no way to line up which NTD is the real one — they don't list any identifying feature in the NBN Co provisioning portal that we can tie up with what the customer can see on the box itself (e.g. the MAC address). So we spend hours trying one NTD, failing and then having to try the other," Ivereigh wrote.

He said it was common to see packet loss on an HFC service, which appeared to worsen until the flow ultimately stopped. "We suspect NBN Co resets something in the node to fix it. Gives a whole new meaning to the standard IT trick of rebooting your equipment to fix things," he commented.

THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I'VE BEEN EXPERIENCING LATELY — Ed.

Read More »

As always, every day should be Safer Internet Day, and in 2021, it's today, 9 Feb.

See the iTWire article by Alex Zaharov-Reutt Tuesday, 09 February 2021 02:56 am.

The Australian eSafety Commissioner, and separately, Sophos and LogMeIn have shared security advice for Safer Internet Day 2021.

Safer Internet Day. The Australian eSafety Commissioner says that on this day, "the world comes together with a shared vision of making online experiences for everyone".

The Commissioner's site has information on the day, info for young children and school students, for family and friends, and the workplace and community, as well as pertinent research on the digital lives of Aussie teens. It also has a picture and songbook for younger children showing cute sugar glider possums teaching about safe digital device usage and more, and you can find these resources, free, here.

Sophos says the day serves "as a reminder to check your online security practices and make sure everyone is cyber-safe."

We're told that "Nearly all Australians (99%) accessed the internet in 2020 — up from 90% in 2019. With internet usage rising at an exponential rate this past year (in part driven by growth in remote working) and as we all spend more time online, whether that be for work, study or play, it has never been more important to brush up on cyber hygiene."

Paul Ducklin, the principal research scientist at Sophos, has provided his top tips on how to be cyber safe:

1. If you own a website, make sure it's secure.

For many small businesses in countries with strict lockdown, online sales are the only way to keep trade alive at all, due to "click-and-collect" regulations.

As a result, many small businesses have enabled online purchasing for the first time over the last year, with web developers reporting a rush to implement online payment mechanisms in the early months of the pandemic.

If your business has a website, even if it's only a modest one, go back and review the site's security and any payment collection services.

If you can afford it, get a third-party to do the review so you get an independent opinion of what has been set up well, which parts could be improved, and which parts, if any, need urgent attention. (You can be sure that the crooks are regularly "testing" your server, even if you're not.)

If you are running a website via HTTP only, perhaps because the information you're providing is public anyway and you don't think it needs encrypting, please upgrade to HTTPS for the greater good of all.

If you don't manage your website, speak to your hosting service — any reputable provider will be happy to answer your questions, and won't get in the way of an independent security assessment.

2. If you shop online, take care before you share your card data.

It's just a few minutes' work to make an old-school written copy of the emergency contact numbers and email addresses for organisations such as your bank, card issuer or insurance company. That way you will have access to them even if you lose your payment card or your phone gets stolen.

These days, many banking apps have a 'quick lock' option that allows you to freeze and unfreeze access to your account or payment card in seconds. In an emergency, such as if you think you put your card number into a phoney site or you misplace your card, you can block access to it right away, even before you call up to ask the bank for advice.

3. Educate your friends and family.

Lots of occasional web users have become heavy consumers almost overnight. Many people who previously just used the internet to read the news or check emails are now using it in multiple ways every day, including meeting up for chats with groups of people they don't know well, if at all.

Talk with your friends and family about good online security practices. Advise them on how to spot scams no matter how they arrive.

Cybercriminals are taking advantage of people being at home to make predatory phone calls; are abusing home deliveries to send scams via SMS, and are taking advantage of people trying to download health advice or set up vaccine appointments.

Meanwhile, Lindsay Brown, vice-president of the Asia Pacific and Japan at LogMeIn, also shared some interesting information.

He notes that "Australian consumers lost over $175 million to scams in 2020 while businesses reported 1057 data breaches. As cyberattacks continue to rise and target unprepared victims, it is important to ensure your cybersecurity hygiene — and of those around you — is up to scratch against modern-day threats."

He also shared three tips on how you can stay safe online:

1. Stop reusing passwords and make them more complicated!

...

2. Layer your security with multi-factor authentication (MFA).

...

3. Use a dark web monitoring tool.

Read More »


Fun Facts:

Thunderbird has a New Problem.

Thunderbird has now been updated to version 78.7.1 as at 9 Feb 2021.

Those mysterious crashes which were occurring every day this year seem to have stopped. *SEE BELOW:

However, it now has a new problem: You can't click links in e-mails.

What?

Yes, the mouse pointer correctly changes to a "hand" when you hover over a link, but clicking it does nothing.

See the Mozilla Support page:

Check that the operating system's default browser is specified.

Every operating system allows the specification of a default browser that will be launched (for example) when a hyperlink in a message is clicked. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and other browsers check this setting by default when they start up and prompt you to set them as the default. Sometimes, however, this setting goes awry, and your computer forgets which browser is the default. To fix this problem, you need to reset the default browser on your system.

Firefox

See Make Firefox your default browser for instructions. Then restart Thunderbird.

Internet Explorer

See Microsoft's article Make Internet Explorer your default browser for instructions. Then restart Thunderbird.

[ That shows how old this advice is! — Ed. ]

Edge

See Microsoft's article Make Microsoft Edge your default browser. Then restart Thunderbird.

I changed the default browser from Vivaldi to Microsoft Edge. Then the links did work.

But, changing it back to Vivaldi, the same problem returned.

I finally tried that old IT standby, the reboot. And now it works OK again!

Sigh.

— Ed.

PS: *Just saw another Crash Report from Thunderbird — It's still not fixed!


Meeting Location & Disclaimer

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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