2021 Newsletter: 47/121 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Second Cab off the Rank

Congratulations to the Friday Forum for being second in the race to return to face-to-face meetings at the SMSA on Friday, 14th May 2021.

Those present included: Ron Ferguson, President, Oldrich (Olin) Brychta, Terry Eakin and Tim Kelly.

The President said, "We set up the computer and got it operating, and then went through the process of updating it.

However, because it had not been used for quite some time, there were too many updates to complete before closing down at noon.

Consequently, more updating will be required at the next meeting on Tuesday 18 May 2021 [at the Tuesday Group]."

We thought that the Update saga might take some time.

— Ed.

Meetings This Week

Main Meeting - Tuesday, 25 May - TBA, L1 Carmichael Room

We hope to have this face-to-face meeting at the Club's meeting rooms PLUS a Zoom setup for absent attendees.

Meeting (and Zoom) details later by e-mail.

— Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Digital Photography - Friday, 28 May - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - noon

The Sydney PC User Group is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Digital Photography Meeting.

Time: May 28, 2021, 10:00 am Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney.

Join the Zoom Meeting at:


Meeting ID: 835 7352 9283

Passcode: 598740

The Meeting topics include:

Let's meet some of these tiny, agile cameras with enormous capabilities.

  • Medical Endoscope cameras when precision is paramount.
  • Industrial Borescope cameras for when the going gets tough.

Members' Photo Invitation: Choose an "old" photo of a person, place or event and email it by May 19 to johnlucke12@gmail.com for reminiscing and comment.

Q & A Forum.

Over to you for general discussion.

I am hoping to see you there.

— John Lucke

Meetings Next Week


Schedule of Current & Upcoming Meetings ‡

32 2021/05/01 — 14:00-17:00 — 01 May, Sat — Penrith Group, Penrith Public Library
33 2021/05/11 — 17:30-20:30 — 11 May, Tue — Programming, L1 Woolley Room or via Jitsi
34 2021/05/14 — 10:00-12:30 — 14 May, Fri — Friday Forum, L1 Carmichael Room
36 2021/05/15 — 13:30-16:30 — 15 May, Sat — Web Design, L1 Woolley Room or via Zoom
37 2021/05/18 — 09:30-12:30 — 18 May, Tue — Tuesday Group, L1 Woolley Room
38 2021/05/25 — 17:30-20:30 — 25 May, Tue — MAIN Meeting, L1 Carmichael Room or via Zoom
39 2021/05/28 — 09:30-12:30 — 28 May, Fri — Digital Photography via Zoom

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

Tech News:

Ecovacs sticks it to Dyson with robotic vacs and its new DEEBOT T9+

See the iTWire article by Alex Zaharov-Reutt | Monday, 17 May 2021 15:41.

If you want to terminate dust in your home, then a T-800 is definitely going overboard, but the robot Deebot T9+ is what Ecovacs says you need for an almost entirely hands-free deep cleaning experience.

Quote from Wikipedia: The Terminator, also known as a Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 or the T-800, is the name of several film characters from the Terminator franchise portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger and numerous actor stand-ins digitally overlaid with Schwarzenegger's likeness — Ed.

With Dyson, the market leaders in handheld stick vacuums and its new V15 Detect and green laser getting a lot of attention, its competitors have had to become clever in finding ways to offer real differences in technologies that both don't suck — and really do.

While Dyson does offer a robotic vacuum cleaner in Japan, other companies have been working on bringing robotic vacuums into homes across the world. ECOVACS ROBOTICS claiming to be the market leaders in robotic vacuums, also just launched what it calls an industry-first product in the DEEBOT T9+.

The company tells us that for those conscious of improving domestic health and hygiene, ECOVACS' range of intelligent robotic vacuums means users open the door to the dust-free home they demand.

We're told the flagship T9+ delivers an almost entirely hands-free cleaning experience that maximises time-saving convenience and minimises dust exposure and dispersal, a crucially important factor, especially to those who may be particularly sensitive to dust with allergies or hay fever.

The robot drops off its dust, dirt and debris to the Auto-Empty station for a whole month before the ECOVACS Home App notifies the user that it needs changing. What is more, the dust bag will snap shut upon removal to ensure no harmful particles escape or are inhaled. The user essentially will never see (nor breathe in) the debris collected at any stage throughout the cleaning cycle.

On top of this and other advanced features, including a vibrating mopping attachment and impressive mapping and in-app capabilities, the product boasts an industry-first feature with in-built, mobile air freshening!

It is well known that Dyson has earned its status as a market leader with a commitment to innovation; likewise, ECOVACS claims to bring the same authority to the robot vacuum space with machines that reshape possibilities in technology-driven cleaning.

The DEEBOT OZMO T9+ retails for A$1299 and is available at JB Hi-Fi, Godfreys Vacuums and The Good Guys.

Read More for these headings: — Ed.

So, what is more info on what the T9+ offers?

A Luxurious Cleaning Experience with Built-in Air Freshener

Powerful In-depth Cleaning Performance with impressive suction, OZMOTM Pro 2.0 and Auto-Empty Station

Optimal solutions for precision cleaning and protection

Upgraded ECOVACS HOME App Debuts 3D Map with Improved Obstacle Avoidance and Navigation Technology

A Summary of the 9-in-1 upgraded features include:

  • All-new mobile Air Freshener experience is more refreshing
  • OZMO Pro 2.0 oscillating mopping experience is quieter than ever
  • Auto-Empty Station included for an effortless experience
  • 3000Pa strong suction for a more powerful clean
  • TrueDetect 3D 2.0 for a Smarter Clean
  • TrueMapping 2.0 for more accurate mapping
  • Updated 2D map experience for more precision
  • New 3D map experience for a more realistic map experience
  • Renewed ECOVACS Home App for a more convenient map experience

ECOVACS also has its DEEBOT OZMO T8 AIVI, also retailing for A$1299 from Godfreys, JB HiFi and Bunnings.

Read More »

Security Keys Could Kill The CAPTCHA

See the Infopackets article by John Lister on May 18 2021, at 12:05 pm EDT.

Humans as a whole spend 500 years each day completing CAPTCHA challenges, according to a new estimate. The company behind the claim says USB security devices would be a more sensible way to confirm somebody is a human.

The data from Cloudflare is about CAPTCHAs: Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Its tests include recognizing a string of letters on an unclear background or picking out images that contain a particular thing, such as a boat or traffic light.

The idea is to limit automated visits to a web page or form submissions, such as restricting attempts to bring down a web page or often to prevent spam from being submitted on a page with user-generated content (such as comments). The tests are supposed to be simple for a human but difficult for a computer, often combining image recognition and reasoning.

32 Seconds To Beat

Cloudflare says its studies show the average person takes 32 seconds to complete a CAPTCHA. It calculates that, based on the assumption of users seeing one every ten days, the total time spent each day is around 500 years. (Source: cloudflare.com)

It says this brings a string of problems beyond wasted time, including frustration on small-screen devices, accessibility challenges, and cultural confusion. The appearance and name of things like taxicabs and fire hydrants vary widely around the world.

"I Am Human" Test Remains

Instead, it's proposing a two-stage test. The first is the familiar ticking a box to confirm "I am human." That may sound a ridiculous test, but in practice, an online "robot" will usually predictably move the cursor without the slight unpredictable wobble of a human operating a mouse or tapping a screen.

The second stage would be for the user to either plug in (via USB) or tap (via NFC) a security device similar to a USB memory stick. The device wouldn't have any unique identifier but would contain code to confirm it was genuine. (Source: hexus.net)

While such a set-up should work in practice, it's likely to be a chicken-and-egg problem. Users are unlikely to get such a device until it's widely accepted by websites. But websites are unlikely to require it (or even make it an alternative to CAPTCHAs) until many users have the devices.

Read More »

Another Dodgy Windows 10 Update Has Been Pulled

Referred by Jeff Garland: See the Kotaku article by Alex Walker | Monday, May 10th, 2021 | 9:00 pm.

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Windows 10 issued a new update, and not long after it hit public release, Microsoft had to pull it back.

The latest offender was "Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. — SCSIAdapter —", a Windows-recommended driver for AMD users. The problem? The driver stopped some users' PCs from booting, and the patch has since been pulled from the Windows Update list.

But the real problem here, as noted by Windows Latest, is that Windows Insider users had already flagged the driver as dodgy. It was bad enough that users had to resort to some command line kung fu to nuke the update, which is a whole nightmare that nobody should have to go through.

Read More »

Windows 10 has a built-in ransomware block; you just need to enable it

Referred by Jeff Garland: See the PCGamer article by Paul Lily, 17th May 2021.

It turns out there is a mechanism in Windows Defender that can protect your files from ransomware.

Windows 10 comes with its own baked-in anti-virus solution called Windows Defender, and it is enabled by default when setting up a new PC. At the very least, that affords you some basic protection against the many malware threats out in the wild. But did you know there is an added optional layer that can keep your pictures, videos, work documents, and other files safe in the event of a ransomware infection? The caveat is that you have to manually enable ransomware protection in Windows 10.

Or, more specifically, a feature called 'Controlled folder access.'

Read More »

Seven things you didn't know you could do in Outlook

Referred by Jeff Garland: See the DigitalTrends article by Arif Bacchus May 18, 2021, 9:45 am PST.

The chances are good that you've used Microsoft Outlook one way or another for sending an email or scheduling a meeting. But while these are the most common tasks that you can get done in Outlook, there are some tricks that you can leverage to improve your experience.

To recall an email is one "trick" which we've covered before, but there is also colour-coding emails or setting different time zones. We've spent some time digging through the menus for you and showing you all that plus more.

Without further ado, here are seven things you didn't know you could do in Outlook on the desktop and Outlook on the web.

Read More »

Fun Facts:

20 Computer Facts You Probably Don't Know

See the ComputerCPR article by computercpr | Aug 18, 2017.

Computers are a critical part of our daily lives. In the last two decades, computers have revolutionized business, relationships, and shopping and given rise to a whole new era of marketing and connection. By now, you probably know a computer is an incredible machine, but did you know just how amazing? Here's a list of the top 20 computer facts you might not know:

1. The First Computer Weighed More Than 27 Tons

Her name was ENIAC, and she took up a modest 1800 square feet of space.

2. About 90% of the World's Currency Only Exists on Computers

This means only about 10% of the global currency is cash.

3. The First Computer Mouse was Made of Wood

Doug Engelbart invented it in 1964.

4. About 70% of Virus Engineers Work for Organized Crime Syndicates

This gives new weight to the importance of anti-virus and anti-malware software and excellent virus removal services.

5. The First Known Computer Programmer was a Woman

Her name was Ada Lovelace, and she lived in England, where she worked as a mathematician and writer. She is famous for working on the "Analytical Engine."

6. Some of the Biggest Computer Brands Started in Garages

This is true for Apple, Microsoft, and HP.

7. People Blink Less When They Use Computers

While the average person blinks about 20 times a minute under normal circumstances, people on computers only blink about seven times a minute.

8. Hackers Write About 6,000 New Viruses Each Month

These viruses are designed to target a wide selection of operating systems, so learning to avoid viruses and malware is essential!

9. More Than 80% of Daily Emails in the U.S. are Spam

Delete these emails immediately, and don't click any links or attachments they might contain to keep your data safe.

10. MyDoom is the Most Expensive Computer Virus in History

The virus cost an estimated $38.5 billion in damage and came about in January of 2006. Shortly after that, it earned a name for itself as the fastest-spreading virus ever.

11. The Parts for the Modern Computer Were First Invented in 1833

Charles Babbage put them together, but the first modern computer came about 120 years later.

12. The First Gigabyte Drive Cost $40,000

It was released in 1980 and weighed 550 lbs. How's that for a portable drive?

13. The Case of the First Macintosh Computer Includes 47 Signatures

On the inside of the device, Macintosh's entire 1982 division signed the case.

14. The Worst U.S. Security Breach of All Time Happened Because of a USB Stick

Someone found the stick (which a foreign intelligence agency infected) in a parking lot and plugged it into their computer. The computer had links to the U.S. Central Command. The attack happened in 2008 and resulted in the theft of thousands of classified and unclassified documents. The Pentagon spent about 14 months cleaning up the damage from the worm.

15. A Single Computer Catches 50% of all Wikipedia Vandalism

This computer has a 90% accuracy rate.

16. Computers Sort 95% of Mail

The U.S. Postal Service still hires individual employees to sort through addresses that are too sloppy for computers to understand.

17. MIT Has Computers That can Detect Fake Smiles

These computers can tell between genuine smiles and frustrated smiles.

18. Computers Might Soon be Able to Tell What Dogs Think

These computers are under development by a Scandinavian company. A prototype is purported to be available.

19. Russia Engineered a Computer That Ran on Water

The computer was built in 1936 and was meant to solve partial differential equations.

20. Disney Fired John Lasseter for Pushing Computer Animation

He's now the CCO of Pixar.

Computer Facts Everyone Should Know

Computers have come a long way in recent decades, and these computer facts showcase all the weird, wild, and unbelievable aspects of that transformation!

Read 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.
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