2021 Newsletter: 22/121 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Meeting This Week

Programming - Tuesday, 9 Mar - 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 March 2021, at 6 pm.

Alex will run the meeting and send out the invite email; I can't make it this time (thanks, Alex).


— Steve OBrien

Meeting Next Week

Web Design - Saturday, 20 Mar - 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

Current & Upcoming Virtual Meetings

17 2021/03/09 — 17:30-20:30 — 09 Mar, Tue — Programming, via Jitsi
21 2021/03/20 — 13:30-16:30 — 20 Mar, Sat — Web Design, via Zoom
22 2021/03/23 — 17:30-20:30 — 23 Mar, Tue — MAIN Meeting, via Zoom
23 2021/03/26 — 09:30-12:30 — 26 Mar, Fri — Digital Photography, via Zoom


Tech News:

Windows 10 update will hide this useless feature — it won't be missed.

Referred by Jeff Garland: See the LaptopMag article by By Sean Riley 27 Feb 2021.

Now you see 3D Objects; now you don't.

Given the breadth and scope of Windows 10, there are always going to be features that some of us don't use. Those can be forgiven and, for the most part, easily ignored.

Not so with the 3D Objects folder, which is prominently displayed when you open File Explorer or look in the Quick Access bar. But with the Windows 10 21H2 update coming later this year, Microsoft is finally ready to join the rest of the world in giving up on 3D and will make the 3D Objects folder disappear (via TechRadar).

For the dozens (dozens!!) of 3D fans out there, don't worry; the folder isn't ceasing to exist. It is merely receding into the quiet backwaters of File Explorer. To reveal it in the future, you will either need to click "Show all folders" or type %userprofile% in File Explorer.

While the 3D Objects folder probably wasn't causing anyone too much frustration, it was simply cluttering things up with minimal usage, so I'll certainly be happy to see it gone when the Windows 10 21H2 update arrives.

Read More »

Apple Suffers Malware Scare.

See the Infopackets article by John Lister on March 2 2021, at 01:03 pm EST.

Apple says it has dealt with the risk from a newly-discovered piece of malware affecting macOS. It's a reminder that macOS isn't wholly immune from malware — that may have been the point of the attack.

Security company Red Canary discovered the malware and dubbed it Silver Sparrow. It says data from Malwarebytes showed it was present on 29,139 computers. (Source: redcanary.com)

It appeared to target computers that have the M1 chip. That's an Apple produced processor designed specifically for Macs. It combines multiple functions on a single chip, the idea being to increase efficiency and make the computer carry out key operations much more quickly.

Apple could stop the spread of Silver Sparrow because it uses digitally signed security certificates for software developers (similar to how HTTPS works) to authenticate and prove software has not been modified and is therefore not malicious. It was able to revoke the digital certificates for the account used to deliver the malware, meaning in theory, the installation would fail and not install on any new machines.

Malware 'Phones Home' Hourly.

Most common malware on Macs is designed to deliver unwanted ads, often to scam money from advertisers who don't realise their ads are being shown in an underhanded way that's unlikely to bring great results.

However, researchers say Silver Sparrow had the potential to be more serious. It's designed to hide and even self-destruct if necessary. It also checks a "command-and-control" server hourly to see if the creators have issued any new instructions. That could allow it to deliver more dangerous malware to the already-infected machine.

One possibility is that the creators weren't quick enough to exploit this potential before Silver Sparrow was discovered. Another theory is that the creators were demonstrating their ability to breach Mac security. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Age-Old Debate

How secure Macs are compared to Windows PCs is an oft-debated topic in the tech world. One argument is that the way the operating system and software works is inherently more secure (and less buggy) than Windows.

The counter-argument is that attackers put more of their energy into Windows PCs because the potential pool of machines to infect and exploit is much greater. In reality, it's probably a combination of the two.

Read More »

IBRS reports 'no new normal'. For ICT to remain relevant, it 'must embrace the fourth-wave of ICT and the imperative of change'.

See the iTWire article by Alex Zaharov-Reutt Wednesday, 03 March 2021 12:01 pm.

Australian businesses expecting the hassles of the COVID-19 pandemic to vanish in 2021 are in for a rude shock, according to business analyst firm IBRS, which has also released a new report on the future of the IT space.

We're told the IBRS report, titled Trends for 2021-2026: No new normal and preparing for the fourth-wave of ICT, "outlines misconceptions businesses have regarding the timeline of the pandemic. A new, fourth-wave of ICT architecture is emerging in response to the challenges that will linger after the vaccine rollout."

It's more of a powerpoint-style presentation, with great and pertinent info than an actual detailed report. The highly-respected IBRS, short for Intelligent Business Research Services, which describes itself as a "boutique Australian ICT advisory company" in business since 2002, has plenty more information (and the full report) to share with companies willing to engage it for those services.

The firm's "Future of Work" expert and IBRS advisor, Dr Joseph Sweeney, said improvements in IT departments were required because customer organisations will remain threatened by sporadic coronavirus incidents for some time yet.

"Even though we have vaccines, COVID-19 will continue to pop up unpredictably for another two years at least, causing organisational disruptions, supply chain interruptions, financial uncertainties and employment risks wherever it rears its head." Dr Sweeney said.

"IT organisations have a critical role to play to help businesses survive by changing the way they operate. Essentially they need to overcome the inability to react quickly to change, do away with long implementations and launch business performance improvement initiatives."

Fourth-wave ICT will comprise many changes geared towards increasing efficiency and response times while reducing risks. These changes include:

  • Prioritising business performance over delivery perfection
  • Throwing out excessive controls in favour of efficient ones
  • AI disappears as a topic for businesses but gets embedded in SaaS solutions.
  • Low-code goes beyond just software development.
  • In total, the report includes eight principles of change, some of which Dr Sweeney said were more complicated than they appeared at first glance.

"Many CIOs are under-estimating the long-term changes to expectations of ICT groups. In particular, non-staff are increasingly engaged in the process of digitisation of all aspects of the business. These changes are not just 'low-code' software development."

[ See the Wikipedia description of the term "low-code" development platform — Ed. ]

Read More »

Google Chrome update to patch serious zero-day.

See the ComputerWeekly article by Alex Scroxton, Security Editor Published: 05 Feb 2021 16:15 pm.

A serious heap buffer overflow vulnerability means Google Chrome users should patch their browsers as soon as possible.

Google is moving to patch a serious zero-day vulnerability in Google Chrome that, if exploited, could enable arbitrary code execution on a target system.

Assigned CVE-2021-21148, the bug is described as a heap buffer overflow in the V8 component of Chrome before version 88.0.4234.150. According to Google, it was initially reported on 24 January 2021, and an exploit may already exist in the wild.

No further details of the issue have been made available at the time of writing, and there have been no reports of compromise via the vulnerability. Nevertheless, the US government's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has advised users to upgrade to version 88.0.4324.146 for Windows, Mac and Linux at their earliest convenience.

Users should update to Version 89 ASAP — Ed.

The 1879 Proof was shown to be wrong.

Read More »

Fun Facts:

Some Surprising Facts about the Four-Colour Theorem.

See the 56m42s Mathematical Myths YouTube video by Prof Chris Budd, Professor of Geometry at Gresham College in the UK, on 11 Feb 2020.

He talks about some Mathematical Myths, especially about the so-called Four-Colour Theorem.

So-called? We thought it had been proven (by computer) in the 1970s.

Well, yes and no.

In graph-theoretic terminology, the four-colour theorem states that the vertices of every planar graph can be coloured with at most four colours. No two adjacent vertices receive the same colour, or for short: Every planar graph is four-colourable.

The 1879 Proof was shown to be wrong.

However, Maps are not planar graphs because they have lakes and oceans, which, by convention, are coloured blue. That restricts the freedom of colouring countries, which means that maps will usually take five or more colours instead.

It doesn't work for Maps.

This map needs five colours.

Very interesting — Ed.

Broken RJ45 Connectors

I know it's been YEARS since we worried about our broken RJ45 Ethernet connector at the Club's meeting place in Pitt Street.

But I have one at home, and it drives me crazy.

You have to hold the connector into the back of the PC whenever you're changing the video connector. Otherwise, you're sure to bump it out and lose your local network connection! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I don't have a screen for each of my Desktop Computers. Who does?

Here's the problem — a little broken piece of plastic that holds the RJ45 connector in place when in use:

The broken plastic piece holding the connector in place.

Anyway, I came across these Bunnings items for sale: (so cheap!)

A pack of 10 RJ45 connectors.

Some customer comments (2 to 1 against):

A few customer comments.

The essential crimping tool to attach the connector to the cable:

The RJ45 Crimping Tool.

Well, next time I'm in Bunnings, I'll have a look.

[ AFTER the vaccine, obviously. ]

— Ed.

Meeting Location & Disclaimer

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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