2021 Newsletter: 33/121 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

HOT NEWS: See the April 2021 Online Survey results — Steve South.

Please note that these Online Survey results indicate a strong preference to defer restarting face-to-face meetings this month and that we wait until next month, May 2021.

In any case, to avoid disappointment, DO NOT ASSUME THAT NORMAL MEETINGS HAVE RESUMED unless official announcements are made by the President — Ed.

Are you an Exidy Sorcerer user from the 1970s?

— First published on Feb 6, 2021. —

— Can you help? —

From: Michael Borthwick, Swinburne University:

I am undertaking a Masters thesis at Swinburne University that explores Exidy Sorcerer microcomputer user groups in Australia. I have taken oral history testimonials from a number of former members of the Sydney Sorcerer User Group. They have told me that as their group wound down, it was absorbed into the Sydney PC Users Group.

I am seeking information about any materials which might have been transferred into your archives, such as meeting minutes, newsletters or other details. Bank records from the 80s might give an indication of when this merger took place, as I understand that the SUG may have had some surplus funds.

Perhaps you have an archivist or could put an item in your newsletter in case you still have members who once used the Sorcerer and might have memories of their activities in that club. Of particular interest is the 'live-in' weekends that they held.

— Michael Borthwick

Read all about the Exidy Sorcerer in the Wikipedia article. They seemed to be quite expensive for the time, 1978 to 1980. The introductory price was US$895 (equivalent to $3,508 in 2019).

If anyone has any interesting details, please send an e-mail to Michael Borthwick in Melbourne.

Some glimpses from a 1979 edition of ETI Magazine:

Showing Dick Smith presenting an Exidy Sorcerer computer

Some Sydney computer club listings from 1979

I'm trying to erase the blurred paragraphs in the 1st photo using PhotoPad:

Showing Eraser Tool crashing

"The eraser tool will not work on layers larger than 1141296816 x 0."

That's One Billion, 141 Million, 296 Thousand and 816 Bytes (?) !! times ZERO !!

Welcome to PhotoPad. Scroll down for the FREE version.

— Ed.

Meetings This Week

Programming - Tuesday, 13 Apr - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

Hi Team,

We will be running this meeting normally (face-to-face) or using Jitsi; details later by e-mail.

See the Progsig Meeting Reports:


The next meeting is on Tuesday 13th April 2021, at 6 pm.


— Steve OBrien

Web Design - Saturday, 17 Apr - 1:30 pm (2:00 pm meeting start) - 4:00 pm

Hi Everyone,

Our Web Design meeting is returning Face to Face on Saturday Week the 17th, at 2 pm.

Now, I will try and run it as a Zoom meeting at the same time for anyone who can't make it to SMSA. I have been experimenting with a wireless phone camera for the Zoom meeting to see everyone in the room.

This month I thought we could have a look at Pseudo-elements. It's a method in CSS to allow us to style a part of the selected element. For example, we could use it to style the first line or first letter in a paragraph.

We can also have before and after elements which allow us to insert content before or after an element.

— Steve South

Meetings Next Week

Tuesday Forum - Tuesday, 20 Apr - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - noon

We'll have the usual Q&A and other discussions.

Digital Photography - Friday, 23 Apr - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - noon

Hear about all the newest digital photography topics. Meeting via Zoom — Details later by e-mail.

And, of course, there will be the usual Q&A and other discussions.

— John Lucke

Schedule of Current & Upcoming Meetings †

24 2021/04/03 — 14:00-17:00 — 03 Apr, Sat — Penrith Group
25 2021/04/09 — 10:00-12:30 — 09 Apr, Fri — Friday Forum, L1 Carmichael Room
26 2021/04/09 — 12:30-15:30 — 09 Apr, Fri — Communications, L1 Woolley Room
27 2021/04/13 — 17:30-20:30 — 13 Apr, Tue — Programming, L1 Woolley Room or via Jitsi
28 2021/04/17 — 13:30-16:30 — 17 Apr, Sat — Web Design, L1 Woolley Room or via Zoom
29 2021/04/20 — 09:30-12:30 — 20 Apr, Tue — Tuesday Group, L1 Woolley Room
30 2021/04/23 — 09:30-12:30 — 23 Apr, Fri — Digital Photography, L1 Woolley Room or via Zoom
31 2021/04/27 — 17:30-20:30 — 27 Apr, Tue — MAIN Meeting, L1 Carmichael Room or via Zoom

† As decided after assessing the Members' wishes (on resumption of face-to-face meetings) via the latest Online Survey.


Tech News:

Arm releases details of the new architecture for the following 300 billion chips.

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Thursday, 01 April 2021 06:18 am.

Chip designer Arm has released details of its new Armv9 architecture, which "will form the leading edge of the next 300 billion Arm-based chips".

The British firm, which was acquired by GPU vendor Nvidia in a deal announced in September 2020, primarily designs chips for smartphones, tablets and smart devices.

Arm said on Tuesday the new architecture was being introduced in response to what it characterised as "global demand for ubiquitous specialised processing with increasingly capable security and artificial intelligence".

More than 100 billion Arm-based chips have been used over the last five years, the company said, adding, "At the current rate, 100% of the world's shared data will soon be processed on Arm; either at the endpoint, in the data networks or the cloud".

Arm chief executive Simon Segars said: "As we look toward a future that AI will define, we must lay a foundation of leading-edge compute that will be ready to address the unique challenges to come".

"Armv9 is the answer. It will be at the forefront of the next 300 billion Arm-based chips driven by the demand for pervasive specialised, secure and powerful processing built on the economics, design freedom and accessibility of general-purpose compute".

To boost security, the Armv9 roadmap has introduced what it calls the Confidential Compute Architecture. This "shields portions of code and data from access or modification while in use, even from privileged software, by performing computation in a hardware-based secure environment".

Armv9 will also introduce the concept of dynamically created Realms, which can be used by all applications in a region that is in neither the secure nor the non-secure worlds.

"For example, in business applications, Realms can protect commercially sensitive data and code from the rest of the system while it is in use, at rest, and in transit," the company explained.

To cater to the pervasive need for artificial intelligence, Arm said it had partnered with Fujitsu to create Scalable Vector Extension technology that drives the world's fastest supercomputer known as Fugaku.

As an extension of this, Arm said it had "developed SVE2 for Armv9 to enable enhanced machine learning and digital signal processing capabilities" across more applications.

"Addressing the demand for more complex AI-based workloads is driving the need for more secure and specialised processing. This will be the key to unlocking new markets and opportunities," said Richard Grisenthwaite, senior vice-president, chief architect and fellow, Arm.

"Armv9 will enable developers to build and program the trusted compute platforms of tomorrow by bridging critical gaps between hardware and software while enabling the standardisation to help our partners balance faster time-to-market and cost control alongside the ability to create their own unique solutions".

Read More »

Facebook may be leaking data, but facts are still sacred.

See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Tuesday, 06 April 2021 05:41 am.

Claims that a leak of 533 million Facebook users' user data has just taken place is a bit of a stretch. A significant part of this data has been out on the Web for a long time.

The people who want to obtain it have been buying the data and using it to make money. They will now be able to get the same data — plus that of a few million more — free.

Tech security specialist Matthijs Koot was one of the few people to point out that the data of 370 million users became public in January/February this year.

And, he wrote, the only countries listed among the 533 million that were absent from the earlier leak were Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, Sudan and Syria.

"That set surely does not look random/coincidental. Not sure how to explain," he added.

Hysteria over these kinds of incidents is typical. Nobody has raised why people are so stupid to post all their personal details on a site like Facebook — or any site for that matter.

People all over the world love to blame technology companies for anything and everything. I am willing to grant that in many cases; they do have a point.

Sites like Facebook offer free services and, in turn, use individuals' data to make a buck. People who assume that Facebook has some obligation to treat them like honoured guests are stupid.

When the Cambridge Analytica "scandal" broke, there was a vast amount of hysteria as well. But when Elizabeth Denham, Britain's Information Commissioner, issued a report last October that found the company had used "in the main, well-recognised processes using commonly available technology" to create what it sold to the Trump campaign, few publications bothered to report it.

The story told was that CA, working with Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan, had used 50 million Facebook users' personal data, which he "scraped" illegally, to influence the results of both the British Brexit vote and the 2016 US election.

There was much sensational reporting by journalist Carole Cadwalladr who wrote about it in 2017 titled The great British Brexit robbery.

Cadwalladr's reporter colleagues at the Guardian, who worked on the story, were sceptical about it as well and privately said it was being pushed on them by senior editorial staff.

She has made no statement about the ICO report. She won several awards for her so-called exclusives. Whether she will return them now and acknowledge that her reporting mainly was hype remains to be seen.

Sensational claims about Facebook will continue to be published. It would be good to bear in mind that the company is not extracting anybody's data at gunpoint; the user willingly gives it up. It's time to take personal responsibility and stop laying all the blame on a company with just one objective: to make as much money as it can for its shareholders.

Read More »

How to type special characters on a Windows PC.

Referred by Jeff Garland: See The Verge article by Barbara Krasnoff | Updated Apr 1, 2021, 10:31 am EDT.

You just have to know how to do it.

Here's the situation: you're typing a report for work, and you suddenly have to write the phrase "Jones née Berkowitz." Or you are adding a phrase in Spanish and need to use the word "años." How do you add the special characters to the letters?

Special characters (also known as diacritical marks) may be more common in certain languages, but there are plenty of circumstances in which English speakers may need to use them. But because they are so rare in English, native English speakers may not have learned how to add those marks to documents, emails, or other writings. It's not difficult to add them to your Windows document, although it's not quite as smooth an operation as on a Mac, where all you have to do is hold the appropriate key down. (In fact, once upon a time, you would have had to look up the symbol character codes...)


The easiest way to add diacritical marks to a document is to enable the Windows touch keyboard. (Thanks to Ed Bott from ZDNet for first leading me to this method.) The touch keyboard automatically appears if you're using a Windows tablet or using a PC in tablet mode. If you don't have a touchscreen, you can use the keyboard icon that appears in the taskbar on the right side near the date. Don't see it? This is how you get it:

  • Right-click on the taskbar.
  • Click on the "Show touch keyboard button."

Now, when you want to use a special character:

  • Click on the touch keyboard icon.
  • The touch keyboard will appear. Long press (with your mouse button or, if you have a touchscreen, your finger) on the letter you want to use.
  • You'll now see several extra keys showing the ways you can type that letter with different symbols. Select the one you want, and it will appear on your document.
  • If you want to enter an emoji, click on the emoji key (on the left of the "space bar").

Other methods:






If you're an English speaker who is multilingual and uses special characters a lot, you may want to try the US International Keyboard. This International keyboard maps your keyboard to allow you to add special characters more easily. (Thanks to "shiroledat" for the tip.)

First, you need to add the US International Keyboard to Windows:

  • Go to Settings > Time & Language > Language.
  • Look for "Preferred languages" and (assuming you're an English speaker in the US) click on "English (United States)." Then click on "Options."
  • Look for the "Keyboards" section, which (if you've never been there before) will probably only contain a single keyboard icon labelled "US / QWERTY." That's the keyboard map you're now using. Click on "Add a keyboard" just above it.
  • In the pop-up menu that appears, scroll to "United States-International / QWERTY" and click on it.

Now you always have the choice of using either the standard US keyboard or the US International Keyboard. You can see which one is active in the lower-right side of your taskbar, near the date. It will either read "ENG / US" or "ENG / INTL." You can click on that to switch from one to the other, or just hit Windows key+space bar.

Use United States-International keyboard



Read more »

Fun Facts:

Ytree for LINUX.

I've wanted the equivalent of Ztree for Windows to run on LINUX for a long time now but thinking there probably is no such program.

The program.

However, good old Google found one free program, ytree, by Werner Bregulla.

The source file "ytree-2.03.tar.gz" (124 kB / Jan 01, 2021) can then be downloaded and installed onto LINUX.

This program comes with a list of LINUXes that it supports, but UBUNTU was not one of them.

So I just had to uncomment various ones one at a time to see what worked. It turns out that the SUN version (using gcc to compile the source code) did work.

Bulk delete.

I needed a good bulk delete program on a LINUX machine this afternoon when it said, "Only 500 MB left etc..."

Yes, I hadn't been deleting the temp files used by my factoring programs, and now they'd built up to 223 GB, yes, Gigabytes.

Here is a screenshot showing ytree deleting a lot of files called "s". I rename them to not count among the "spairs.something" files when calculating file sizes. It's complicated.

Anyway, the shot shows 154 "s" files totalling 16 GB!

Ytree for LINUX

It looks just like Ztree, but you have to hit "L" instead of carriage-return to Log on to a new directory.

It takes a little time to get used to the subtle differences.

If you're using Ztree on Windows and are considering switching to LINUX, I just thought you'd like to know about the fantastic ytree program.

— Ed.

Meeting Location & Disclaimer

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

Information for Members and Visitors:

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