2021 Newsletter: 16/121 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Meetings This 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 below:

Digital Photography Invitation

Advising all Sydney PC & Technology User Group Members:

You are invited to join the Digital Photography Zoom presentation at 10:00 am on Friday, 26 February 2021.

Join this Zoom Meeting at — https://us02web.zoom.us/­j/­83573529283
Meeting ID: 835 7352 9283
Passcode: 598740

This Zoom meeting will include:

  • BARGAINS: Point & Shoot cameras with phone attached. We'll check some of the best at various price points - all below $400.
  • Uncovering these great features of the free FastStone Image Viewer: Red-eye removal and full-screen Video player.
  • Choose an old B&W photo from your area and email it to johnlucke12@gmail.com for interest and discussion.
  • Q and A, General discussion and more.

Look forward to seeing you there.

— John Lucke

Meetings Next Week


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:

Australia gets Zucked, leaving news outlets scrambling.

See the Crikey article by KISHOR NAPIER-RAMAN FEB 18, 2021.

Twitter from Junkee


Well, damn, turns out that they weren't bluffing. This morning, Australians woke up to a newsfeed without news. Facebook has made good on its threats to block all news content in Australia overnight, hours after the government's proposed media bargaining code, which forces tech companies to pay outlets, passed the lower house.

It's been a chaotic morning in the media world. Editors and news directors have been locked in frantic morning meetings. Soothing statements quickly pumped out. Facebook's ban has been both blunt and arbitrary, dragging pages nobody would consider news into its fight with the Australian government.

And if the tech giant doesn't back down, the situation could cause massive disruption in an already turbulent Australian media landscape.

Read More »

Microsoft's next major Windows 10 update focuses on improving remote work.

Referred by Jeff Garland: See THE VERGE article by Tom Warren | @tomwarren | Feb 18, 2021, 3:30 am EST.

Microsoft breaks from tradition to deliver a different kind of Windows update.

The next major update to Windows 10, version 21H1, will be delivered in the first half of 2021 and focuses on improving remote work scenarios. Microsoft traditionally delivers two major Windows updates per year, with most of the bigger features dropping in the spring and a smaller update in the fall. While IT admins are used to this approach, Microsoft appears to be reversing this cadence for 2021.

"Windows 10, version 21H1 will have a scoped set of features improving security, remote access and quality," explains John Cable, Microsoft's head of Windows Servicing and Delivery. "The features we are releasing in this update are focused on the core experiences that customers have told us they're relying on most right now." These improvements will include:

  • Windows Hello multicamera support sets the default as the external camera when both external and internal Windows Hello cameras are present.
  • Windows Defender Application Guard performance improvements, including optimizing document opening scenario times.
  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) Group Policy Service (GPSVC) updating performance improvement to support remote work scenarios.

The Windows camera changes mean you'll soon be able to plug in an external Windows Hello camera and get the benefits of facial detection on a laptop that already has a Windows Hello camera built-in. Currently, Windows doesn't support this scenario well, and it means cameras like Logitech's Brio do not work correctly with devices like Microsoft's Surface range that also have Windows Hello cameras.

Microsoft's other improvements for this 21H1 version are clearly designed for IT admins to improve support for remote working. This includes improving document opening times for Microsoft's built-in anti-virus software and performance improvements for the management and configuration side of Windows.

This 21H1 update will also install very quickly, much like a monthly cumulative update to Windows. Microsoft has started testing this 21H1 update with beta testers today, and it's planning to make it available to all Windows 10 users "later in the first half of this calendar year."

Microsoft is also expected to deliver a larger Windows 10 update later in 2021. The company is planning a "sweeping visual rejuvenation of Windows," which is codenamed Sun Valley. Microsoft is planning to detail its next significant changes to Windows at a special event in the coming months.

Read More »

Arrests in Ukraine hit Windows Egregor ransomware gang.

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Monday, 15 February 2021 07:01 am.

In France and Ukraine, law enforcement authorities have joined forces to arrest several people in Ukraine who used the Windows Egregor ransomware to make money.

A report in the French publication France Inter (in French) on 12 February said the authorities had traced ransom payments paid in bitcoin to Ukraine individuals.

Those who were taken into custody are said to be affiliates of the Egregor group, with some being logistical and financial support providers.

The report said the operation had begun in the western autumn last year after several reports were made to Europol.

Both Egregor's sites, on the web and the dark web, are down at the moment. Egregor has been operating as a ransomware-as-a-service setup.

This case is the second in 2021 of law enforcement authorities going after ransomware operations.

In January, the FBI took down the Windows ransomware NetWalker on the dark web and arrested a Canadian who was using the malware for attacking companies.

Contacted for comment, Brett Callow, a ransomware researcher with New Zealand-based Emsisoft, said: "More success! This arrest may well have a broader impact as enforcement action undoubtedly serves as a deterrent.

"For example, after NetWalker's operation was disrupted, another group decided to cease operations, citing that as the reason and handed us their keys, enabling us to create a decryptor to help past victims."

Read more »

Nine signs $30m+ deal with Google for the use of its news content.

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Wednesday, 17 February 2021 at 10:41 am.

Nine Entertainment, owner of several well-known newspapers which it bought from the now-defunct Fairfax Media, has signed a letter of intent for a five-year deal with Google in return for more than $30 million in cash per annum for the use of its news content.

The development was reported by the Nine-owned Sydney Morning Herald. It came ahead of the government's moves to legislate to make payments for the use of Australian news content compulsory.

The cash that Nine gets is expected to be much more than what Seven News Media was able to extract from Google. The Age, the SMH and the Australian Financial Review are the three leading newspapers owned by Nine.

The ABC, SBS, Guardian Australia and News Corporation Australia are the remaining well-known media outlets that have not yet signed up with Google's News Showcase, which the online advertising giant unveiled on 5 Friday.

On Monday, Seven West Media announced it had signed a deal to be part of Google's News Showcase, an initiative launched in Australia on 5 February, a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke to Alphabet and Google boss Sundar Pichai.

Before it signed up Seven, Google secured deals with Crikey, The Saturday Paper and Australian Community Media, publisher of The Canberra Times.

The news media code, officially known as News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, has been devised to force Google and Facebook to negotiate with news publishers. And to reach agreements on how much they should pay for using Australian news content.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a statement on Tuesday: "It is encouraging to see recent reports that news media businesses and digital platforms are now reaching commercial agreements. That's against the backdrop of the Code being introduced into Parliament on 9 December 2020 and receiving the backing of the Senate Economics Legislation Committee."

Read More »

Fun Facts:

Are You Brave Enough to Eat 3D-Printed Steak?

See the ReviewGeek article by ANDREW HEINZMAN | @andrew_andrew__ | FEB 14, 2021, 1:13 pm EST | 1 min read.

Israeli company Aleph Farms is the first to 3D-print a ribeye steak using proprietary bioprinting technology and cultured animal cells. Cuts of the cultivated meat could sell for $50 each, but only after FDA approval.

The Aleph Farms ribeye steak comes closer to a 'real' cut of beef than other cultivated meats, thanks to precise 3D bioprinting and a system that mimics animals' vascularization. Nutrients can spread across the cut during this process, granting the steak a familiar shape and texture.

But Aleph Farms isn't reinventing the wheel. Like other companies, Aleph Farms starts its cultivated meat with a decellularized vegetable scaffolding — basically a steak-shaped blob of vegetable that's stripped of its cells and DNA. Decellularization is essential to growing meat, and the process could help grow human organs or remove the DNA from transplant organs to prevent rejection.

Alt-meats have only grown more popular since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet lab-grown meats are still unavailable outside Singapore and a few other countries. While the FDA has a regulatory framework for selling cultivated meat, no lab-grown meats have been approved for sale in the United States. Like farmed meats, the FDA needs to track cultivated meat's growth to protect public health and oversee cultivated meat labelling to ensure that customers aren't confused about the food's origins.

Fortunately, companies like Aleph Farms expect FDA approval in the next two years. Aleph chief executive Didier Toubia says that the company is continuously in talks with the FDA. While bringing the operating to a global scale will take a long time, the lab-grown ribeye could hit store shelves before the end of 2022.

Read more »

Meeting Location & Disclaimer

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

Information for Members and Visitors:

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All Meetings, unless explicitly stated above, are held on the
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