2021 Newsletter: 29/121 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Meetings This Week


Meetings Next Week


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
27 2021/04/13 — 17:30-20:30 — 13 Apr, Tue — Programming, via Jitsi
28 2021/04/17 — 13:30-16:30 — 17 Apr, Sat — Web Design, via Zoom
30 2021/04/23 — 09:30-12:30 — 23 Apr, Fri — Digital Photography, via Zoom
31 2021/04/27 — 17:30-20:30 — 27 Apr, Tue — MAIN Meeting, via Zoom


Tech News:

Learn something new with these best-selling online courses.

Browse the new iTWire Shop.

Learn something new with these best-selling online courses.

There's never been a better time to learn something new from the comfort of your own home, and you can find the best and most popular e-learning courses right here at rock-bottom prices. Whether you're interested in learning how to create apps and websites, harness financial tools that can save you money, create your own business from scratch or even play the piano, you'll find what you're looking for in our extensive collection of educational packages.


The much-awaited iTWire Shop is now open to our readers.

Visit the iTWire Shop, a leading destination for stylish accessories, gear & gadgets, lifestyle products and everyday portable office essentials, drones, zoom lenses for smartphones, software and online training.

PLUS Big Brands include Apple, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sennheiser and many more.

Products are available for shipping to any country.

We hope you enjoy and find value in the much anticipated iTWire Shop.

[ Sounds very interesting — Ed. ]

Read More

Five ways to keep your computer from slowing down.

Referred by Jeff Garland: See the PopSci article by David Nield | March 21, 2021.

Don't let your machine succumb to old age.

Neither you nor your gadgets can escape the passage of time. But when it comes to your computer, you can at least make sure it has a long and full life by minimising some of the creeping effects of old age.

Some regular maintenance can work wonders, so don't just sit back and accept the gradual slowdown of your desktop or laptop.

Regularly audit your installed apps.

The main difference between the bright and shiny new computer you unboxed on day one and the sluggish, wheezing beast you might find yourself with after five years is all the applications you've loaded on to it.

Regularly review your list of installed programs, and keep in mind that just because you've installed something, it doesn't mean it has a right to sit on your hard drive until the end of time. The only apps you should have are those you're frequently using, so take note of what those are and get rid of the rest. Remember, you can always download and reinstall a program should you change your mind.

On Windows, open Settings via the cog icon on the Start menu; choose Apps and then Apps & features. You can sort programs by size or by when they were installed, so you'll be able to see tools you may have forgotten. To remove an app, select it from the list and then choose Uninstall.

On macOS, open the Applications tab in Finder, then drag the app down to the dock's Trash icon. If you downloaded the program from the Mac App Store, you could also remove it from the Launchpad window. Press and hold the Option key until the icons start jiggling, then click the small x button next to the application you want to remove.

Keep an eye on free storage space.

One sure way to slow down your machine is not to give it enough space to work. Along with removing apps you don't use, you should always make sure that there's a good chunk of storage available on the local hard drive — around 20 per cent at least if you can manage it.

In File Explorer on Windows, you can click This PC on the left to see how much room is left on your local drives. On macOS, open the Apple menu and choose About This Mac, then open the Storage tab.

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to freeing up disk space on your computer. It's just a question of monitoring what you have on your disk and deleting what you don't need — from old documents to installation packages. Consider moving files you don't regularly access to the cloud or an external hard drive. Just make sure you always have two copies of your most important files for backup purposes.

Don't let programs overstep their mark.

The default settings in plenty of programs allow them to do whatever they want as soon as they're installed on your system, including running in the background whenever your computer is on. Allowing your favourite programs to do this means they can jump into action without you having to launch them manually each time. However, it's best to keep the number of applications that do this down to a minimum, as the more apps you have running in the background, the slower your machine will become.

To see which apps are overstepping their mark on Windows, right-click on a blank part of the taskbar, choose Task Manager, then More details. On macOS, use Spotlight by typing Cmd + Space and launch Activity Monitor.

If there are apps that shouldn't be on these lists, there are two things you can do. First, check inside the applications themselves to see if there's a setting you can disable to prevent them from running automatically. If you can't find any, stop them from starting up with your operating system — on Windows, switch to the Start-up tab in Task Manager, and on macOS, go to Users & Groups, then Login Items in System Preferences.

Keep your programs trim and healthy.

Keeping your apps up to date will fix bugs and security vulnerabilities, but most importantly, it'll help them stay speedy. Most programs will handle this automatically for you, but it's worth double-checking that there aren't any outstanding updates you've missed.

You should also make sure that your programs aren't collecting any bloat as well — by this, we mean add-ons that you might no longer need, older versions of software still hanging around, or installation packages that you haven't deleted.

This is especially important for your web browser. Every once in a while, check-in on the extensions you've got installed and remove the ones you no longer need, as having too many of these can seriously slow down this type of program.

Run a reset now and again.

Just like your programs, you should also keep Windows and macOS up to date at all times. Microsoft and Apple make this difficult to avoid. Still, you can make sure you're on the latest version of your operating system through Update & Security in Windows Settings or Software Update in macOS System Preferences.

Something else to consider is regularly resetting your computer and returning it to its factory-fresh state. This process is easy, but it'll eat up some of your time — it wipes out all but the bare bones of your operating system, so you'll need to backup all your files and reinstall all your programs afterwards. But In doing that, a full reset also clears out redundant data, gets programs back to their original state, and removes all bloat and clutter from your machine. It may sound like a radical alternative, but it's often worth an hour or two of inconvenience to get a clean slate.

On your Windows computer, head to Update & Security, then Recovery. Microsoft has full instructions you can refer to if you get lost along the way. Apple also has a complete guide to help you in this process, which starts by rebooting your Mac while holding down Cmd+R, then run the Disk Utility from the list that appears.

[ Resets are pretty dangerous. Make sure you've got all of your emails backed up first — Ed. ]

Read More »

The Strong consumer segment drives the Australian PC market to 11.8% growth in 2020.

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Tuesday, 23 March 2021 07:03 am.

The Australian PC market — desktops, notebooks and workstations — grew by 11.8% year-on-year in 2020 to reach a total of 4.87 million units, the technology analyst firm IDC says, adding that this trend will reverse in 2021 with a fall of 4.4%.

The company said the primary growth was in the consumer segments, which saw a 29% increase, while the commercial sector saw a fall of 2%.

Notebooks were in great demand in both consumer and commercial segments, with 29.3% and 11% growth, respectively.

But the shipments of desktops declined by 8.6%; the consumer segment grew by 27.8%, but the commercial segment fell by 26.6%.

"Companies are moving away from desktops to notebooks to allow for a hybrid work environment," said Reynard Lowell, IDC Australia's associate market analyst for PC devices.

"The consumer market saw huge demand as PCs became the most used devices at home, and households are slowly moving to a 1 PC per person model."

"Gaming PCs also saw huge growth as people are looking for indoor entertainment and the successful launch of Nvidia's new RTX 3000 series enticed enthusiasts to upgrade."

Fourth-quarter shipments were hit by a component shortage which led to a 1.4% decline.

Said Lowell: "The consumer market will continue to remain strong. However, the commercial market is expected to start to slow as organisations remain cautious about buying. A stronger second half of the year is expected once there is more certainty and stability in the economy."

Read More »

Robocallers Fined $225M; May be Blocked by Carriers.

See the Infopackets article by John Lister on March 23 2021, at 01:03 pm EDT.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined two telemarketers a record $225 million for unlawful automated "robocalls." The offenders, who used names including JSquared Telecom and Rising Eagle, made around a billion such calls in five months.

The fine isn't just a record for robocalls but is also the largest ever issued by the FCC for any reason. (Source: cnbc.com)

The calls claimed to offer health insurance plans from well-known legitimate providers. The calls were made on behalf of several companies, at least one of which has already been sued for its telemarketing violations.

Do Not Call List Abused.

Posing as the legitimate provider was likely unlawful, as was the fact the telemarketers knowingly called people who'd signed up to Do Not Call lists. One of the telemarketers admitted intentionally targeting those people as it was more profitable to do so — likely because they were more likely to answer the phone, assuming incoming calls would be legitimate.

However, what the FCC issued the fine for was a violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act. The telemarketers had unlawfully manipulated phone systems so that the recipients of calls saw bogus information about the supposed caller. Doing that with the intent of causing harm or gaining financially is against the law.

To make things worse, a genuine business whose ID was among those faked by the scammers was overwhelmed with people calling to complain after receiving the misleading calls.

Scam Callers May Be Blocked.

The fine was approved unanimously by all four FCC commissioners. Acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that despite the record fine, the FCC needs to do more. She announced a new "Robocall Response Team", bringing together legal and technical experts to identify current gaps in both laws and enforcement. (Source: fcc.gov)

The FCC also sends final warning letters to six call service providers believed to be offering robocall services that break the law. The letters give them 48 hours to stop any unlawful activity. If they don't, the FCC's first step will be to authorize phone carriers to block all providers' calls.

Read More

Firefox 86 Introduces Total Cookie Protection.

See the Mozilla Blog article by Tim Huang, Johann Hofmann and Arthur Edelstein on February 23, 2021.

Today we are pleased to announce Total Cookie Protection, a major privacy advance in Firefox built into ETP Strict Mode. Total Cookie Protection confines cookies to the site where they were created, preventing tracking companies from using these cookies to track your browsing from site to site.

Total Cookie Protection by Mozilla.

Total Cookie Protection creates a separate cookie jar for each website you visit. (Illustration: Meghan Newell)

Cookies, those well-known morsels of data that web browsers store on a website's behalf, are useful technology and a serious privacy vulnerability. That's because the prevailing behaviour of web browsers allows cookies to be shared between websites. That enables those who would spy on you to "tag" your browser and track you as you browse. This type of cookie-based tracking has long been the most prevalent method for gathering intelligence on users. It's a key component of mass commercial tracking that allows advertising companies to build a detailed personal profile of you quietly.

In 2019, Firefox introduced Enhanced Tracking Protection by default, blocking cookies from companies that have been identified as trackers by our partners at Disconnect. But we wanted to take protections to the next level and create even more comprehensive protections against cookie-based tracking to ensure that no cookies can be used to track you from site to site as you browse the web.

Our new feature, Total Cookie Protection, works by maintaining a separate "cookie jar" for each website you visit. Any time a website, or third-party content embedded in a website, deposits a cookie in your browser, that cookie is confined to the cookie jar assigned to that website, such that it is not allowed to be shared with any other website.

Besides, Total Cookie Protection makes a limited exception for cross-site cookies when needed for non-tracking purposes, such as those used by popular third-party login providers. Only when Total Cookie Protection detects that you intend to use a provider will it give that provider permission to use a cross-site cookie specifically for the site you're currently visiting. Such momentary exceptions allow for strong privacy protection without affecting your browsing experience.

In combination with the Supercookie Protections we announced last month, Total Cookie Protection provides comprehensive partitioning of cookies and other site data between websites in Firefox. Together these features prevent websites from "tagging" your browser, thereby eliminating the most pervasive cross-site tracking technique.

To learn more technical details about how Total Cookie Protection works under the hood, you can read the MDN page on State Partitioning and our blog post on Mozilla Hacks.

Read More »

Fun Facts:

Pronounced "Cricket", what is a Cricut?

See the 23m49s YouTube video on the Cricut Maker machine.


Cricut is a 2-dimensional printer.

It's a drawing and cutting machine, like a printer, but with X and Y movements.

You could even draw electronic circuit layouts if you wish.

Typical uses include drawing logos onto paper, cutting around outlines or making any of dozens of artistic displays, such as making a framed number for your house.

Create a House Number.

It comes with lots of attachments like pens and cutters etc.

There are larger versions which can do T-shirts, for example, but they are getting a little pricy.

There are three models: the Joy, the Explorer and the Maker. The Cricut Maker is the most expensive model, at around the US$350 - $400 range.

See the 12m21s YouTube video explaining the various Cricut versions.

If you are a dedicated "maker", you will love all of these machines.

— Ed.

Watch More »

Meeting Location & Disclaimer

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

Information for Members and Visitors:

Link to — Sydney PC & Technology User Group
All Meetings, unless explicitly stated above, are held on the
1st Floor, Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney.
Sydney PC & Technology User Group's FREE Newsletter — SubscribeUnsubscribe
Go to Sydney PC & Technology User Group's — Events Calendar
Are you changing your e-mail address? Please e-mail your new address to — newsletter.sydneypc@gmail.com.
DISCLAIMER: We provide this Newsletter "As Is" without warranty of any kind.
The reader assumes the entire risk as to the accuracy and subsequent use of its contents.