2021 Newsletter: 56/121 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

Meetings This Week

Main Meeting - Tuesday, 22 Jun - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

Details to be supplied by email.

— Alex

Digital Photography - Friday, 25 Jun - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - noon

This meeting will be via Zoom; details later via email.

Hear about all the newest digital photography topics.

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

We'll also talk about the new topic of Photobooks.


— John Lucke

Meeting Next Week

Penrith Group - Saturday, 3 Jul - 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm at the Penrith City Library

The meeting starts typically with a Q&A session around the table to enable members to share problems, advice and computer tips.

The group will then discuss any other technology or computer topics of interest.

— Jeff Garland

Schedule of Current & Upcoming Meetings ‡

40 2021/06/05 — 14:00-17:00 — 05 Jun, Sat — Penrith Group, Penrith City Library
41 2021/06/08 — 17:30-20:30 — 08 Jun, Tue — Programming, L1 Woolley Room or via Jitsi
42 2021/06/11 — 10:00-12:30 — 11 Jun, Fri — Friday Forum, L1 Carmichael Room
44 2021/06/15 — 09:30-12:30 — 15 Jun, Tue — Tuesday Group, L1 Woolley Room
45 2021/06/19 — 13:30-16:30 — 19 Jun, Sat — Web Design, L1 Woolley Room or via Zoom
46 2021/06/22 — 17:30-20:30 — 22 Jun, Tue — MAIN Meeting, L1 Carmichael Room or via Zoom
47 2021/06/25 — 09:30-12:30 — 25 Jun, Fri — Digital Photography via Zoom
48 2021/07/03 — 14:00-17:00 — 03 Jul, Sat — Penrith Group, Penrith City Library

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

Tech News:

Windows 11 Leaked — Let's Check it Out.

See the YouTube video by Britec09 17 Jun 2021.

So does this confirm the release of Windows 11? It's too early to say, and it could be a glorious hoax.

It certainly has a lot of Windows 10 coded into this so-called latest version of Windows. Only time will tell whether this is the real deal.

Windows 11?

This screenshot shows the new "Snap-To" method under Windows 11.

It looks like you can hover over the Minimise/Maximise button to select the Snap-To destination. That is easier than dragging and hitting the left or right screen edges.

But whether this is the genuine Windows 11, we'll have to wait until the official reveal on June 24th 2021, to see.

— Ed.

Watch More »

The new submarine cable map visualises more than $8 billion in new cable investments over the next three years.

See the iTWire article by Chris Coughlan Tuesday, 15 June 2021 15:55.

TeleGeography, a global telecommunications market research and consulting firm, has launched its 2021 Submarine Cable Map, sponsored by Telecom Egypt.

Under-sea cables

The under-sea cables around Australia.

TeleGeography says the map visualizes 464 global cables and 1,245 landing stations, as well as major future deployments. The map further analyses the changing dynamics in the market and the influence of new players on submarine cable investments.

TeleGeography states that content providers' share of total capacity surged from less than 10% before 2012 to 66% in 2020. Unlike previous cable construction booms, content providers like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft are taking a more active role in the submarine cable market. These companies alone have such incredible demand for data centre traffic to drive projects and route prioritisation for submarine cable systems. Google alone has more than 15 subsea cable investments globally.

TeleGeography Research Director Alan Mauldin said We're excited to launch our latest Submarine Cable Map and thank Telecom Egypt for supporting it this year. The 2021 map illustrates a market that's experiencing more deployments with new and diverse players. Over the last decade, we've seen content providers emerge as disruptors, ramping up investments to meet global demand for their services.

The submarine cable market has never been so dynamic, and we're thrilled to showcase our data and analysis on all things subsea cable.

TeleGeography claims that there is no shortage of cable facts hidden throughout this map. Take this stat; for example, over 1.3 million km of submarine cables spanning the globe would wrap around Earth more than 30 times end-to-end. Of the 464 cables displayed in this 2021 edition of this map, 428 are active, and 36 are planned. Out of these planned cables, 19 are brand new to TeleGeography's map, boasting a combined length of 103,348 km.

New subsea cables have been deployed across every global route grouping, with more systems expected in the coming three years. The Intra-Asian route is expected to experience the most investment, with a projected $1.6 billion in new cables to be launched.

The map covers Singapore and Tokyo hubs in the Asia Pacific region and has little detail on hubs in Australia.

TeleGeography's Submarine Cable Map is available to order as a physical piece or explore as an interactive version reference. View the interactive map here.

Read More »

Windows 10's Weather Widget Is a Mess. Is Windows 11 Next?

See the How-To Geek article by CHRIS HOFFMAN | @chrisbhoffman | JUN 15, 2021, 6:40 am EDT.

Have you heard about the big new interface changes in Windows in June 2021? No, we're not talking about the Windows 11 announcement Microsoft is teasing. We're talking about that buggy new weather widget popping up on more than a billion Windows 10 PCs.

Why Is It So Blurry?

Windows 10's Weather widget — technically called the News and interests widget — makes a terrible first impression on many PCs. It's just so blurry. Why is the text so blurry?

The real question isn't why it's so blurry, of course. The real question is why Microsoft rolled out the taskbar weather widget to everyone's Windows PCs in such a buggy state.

As Windows Latest points out, Microsoft was aware of the blurriness (and other issues) before this feature was released. The issue was even apparently fixed in a preview build. But Microsoft shoved this feature out of the door to everyone in an unpolished form rather than making it work right first.

RIP Windows 10's Weather App

Okay, Windows 10's Weather app isn't dead yet, but it seems dead to Microsoft. If you click the weather information in the Weather widget you'll see the weather on MSN.com in your web browser.

This isn't a surprise. The Weather widget is designed to push MSN on Windows 10 users.

Read More »

Trojan Shield: How the FBI Secretly Ran a Phone Network for Criminals.

See the Vice article by Joseph Cox 8 June 2021.

New court records detail how the FBI turned encrypted phone company 'Anom' into a honeypot for organized crime.

For years the FBI has secretly run an encrypted communications app used by organized crime to surreptitiously collect its users' messages and monitor criminals' activity on a massive scale, according to a newly unsealed court document. In all, the elaborate operation netted more than 20 million messages from over 11,800 devices used by suspected criminals.

The news signals a major coup for law enforcement: ordinarily, agencies either shut down or crack messages on an already established service, such as Phantom Secure or Encrochat, two similar encrypted messaging networks. But in this case, the FBI took control of a communications company called Anom in its infancy and turned that into a wide-reaching honeypot, with the suspected criminal users instead of coming to them.

"The FBI opened a new covert investigation, Operation Trojan Shield, which centred on exploiting Anom by inserting it into criminal networks. And working with international partners, including the Australian Federal Police (AFP), to monitor the communications," the unsealed court record reads, referring to Anom, the app at the centre of the investigation. Seamus Hughes, a researcher at George Washington University, shared the document with Motherboard.

The AFP began going public with the contours of Anom Tuesday morning local time and announced it had started making arrests with data pulled from the honeypot.

In 2018, the FBI arrested Vincent Ramos, the CEO of Phantom Secure, which provided custom, privacy-focused devices to organized criminals. In the wake of that arrest, a confidential human source (CHS) who previously sold phones on behalf of Phantom and another firm called Sky Global was developing their own encrypted communications product. This CHS then "offered this next-generation device, named 'Anom,' to the FBI to use in ongoing and new investigations," the court document reads. While criminals left Phantom, they flocked to other offerings. One of those was Anom; the FBI started what it called Operation Trojan Shield. It effectively operated a communications network targeted to criminals and intercepted messages running across it.

The FBI, AFP, and CHS built the Anom system in such a way that a master key silently attached itself to every message sent through the app, enabling "law enforcement to decrypt and store the message as it is transmitted," the document reads.

"A user of Anom is unaware of this capability," it adds.

But first, the FBI and their source needed to establish Anom as an option in the criminal underworld. As Motherboard showed in a years-long investigation, using sources around Phantom and FBI files, Phantom was particularly popular in Australia. The CHS introduced Anom to his already trusted distributors of mobile devices, who were in turn trusted by criminal organizations, the document reads. Three people in Australia who had previously distributed Phantom, "seeing a huge payday," agreed to sell these Anom devices then, the document adds. With this, "the FBI aimed to grow the use of Anom organically through these networks," it reads.

Earlier on Monday, before obtaining the court record, Motherboard reviewed Anom's social media presence. The company's Reddit account first announced the company's existence two years ago, according to a since-deleted but cached Reddit post that Motherboard found.

"Introducing Anom — an Ultra-Secure Mobile-Cell-Phone Messaging App for Android," the announcement read. "Your Confidentiality, Assured. Software hardened against targeted surveillance and intrusion — Anom Secure. Keep Secrets Safe!"

Anom started to grow, with initially 50 devices distributed in Australia and the AFP able to monitor the phones. It was slow at first, but soon word of the new devices spread, with Anom gathering several hundred users a year later, the document continued.

A third country also got involved in the investigation and provided the FBI with Anom user data three times a week.

"This data comprises the encrypted messages of all of the users of Anoms with a few exceptions (e.g., the messages of approximately 15 Anom users in the U.S. sent to any other Anom device are not reviewed by the FBI)," the document reads.

Read More »

Fun Facts:

NASA, Not Unlike Pink Floyd, Will Soon Land on the Dark Side of the Moon.

See the ReviewGeek article by SUZANNE HUMPHRIES | @yeah_books | JUN 11, 2021, 1:36 pm EDT.

The Moon

The far side of the Moon.

NASA recently selected three winning payload projects as part of its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative, part of its Artemis program. Two are set to land on the far side of the Moon (which faces away from Earth) to collect data about the region for future launches.

Humans haven't done much exploring the far side of the Moon. None, actually, until 2019, when China's Chang'e-4 mission [ Nationalgeographic wants your email address to continue reading after the first page — Ed. ] touched down to study the body's soil and subsurface structure and to further lunar science in general. Likewise, the two payloads from NASA will explore various factors that will help determine whether or not the area is safe to be used as a destination for Artemis' future astronauts, who would potentially be going to Mars.

One project from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory — the Farside Seismic Suite —will land in the Schrödinger impact crater. It will use two seismometers to collect data about the Moon's tectonic activity. It will also note any movement caused by small meteorites and study the Moon's internal structure.

The payload goals will complement those of the other set to land on the lunar dark side. That one, named the Lunar Interior Temperature and Materials Suite, will be equipped with two instruments capable of investigating and analyzing the Moon's electrical conductivity and internal heat flow.

The one proposal not landing on the moon's dark side — dubbed Lunar Vertex — is slated to land on Reiner Gamma, a large lunar swirl visible from Earth. Though scientists still don't have much of an understanding of lunar swirls, they think the swirls are anomalies caused by the Moon's magnetic field. That's what that mission intends to study, using an onboard magnetometer, and what we learn from it could provide more insight into the Moon's interior (and core).

The three proposals were submitted to NASA's Payloads and Research Investigations on the Surface of the Moon (PRISM) call in 2020. The three teams behind each submission are still hammering out the details with NASA regarding project financing. Whatever those details end up being, NASA's goal is to have them on the Moon in 2024.

These selections add to our robust pipeline of science payloads and investigations to the Moon through CLPS. We will build on our capabilities to enable more significant and better science with each PRISM selection. And to prove technology that will help pave the way for returning astronauts to the Moon through Artemis, said Joel Kearns, deputy associate administrator for exploration in NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

[ Dark Side? Dark Side? There is no Dark Side of the Moon — Ed. ]

Read More »

Meeting Location & Disclaimer

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

Information for Members and Visitors:

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