Hello and Welcome,
SMSA Closure Update
SMSA will remain CLOSED until at least Monday 2 August as per NSW Health orders. This applies to the Library and all Venue Hire and Administration functions. Further details on reopening to be advised on our website.
We're all experiencing challenging times with the pandemic and the current lockdowns. There are many free resources available for you to access if you are feeling anxious or need support. Here are just a few:
Sydney Mechanics' School of Arts
280 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
NSW Transport News
Stay at home. Avoid non-essential travel.
You know the drill by now. Stay home, wear those masks and keep your distance if you must go out, and avoid all non-essential travel including travel on public transport.
Stay at home orders remain in place for residents of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, Shellharbour, Blayney, Cabonne and Orange.
To minimise transmission of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta strain, all our public transport services in these regions (including some school buses) are running at reduced frequency and capacity — click here for more details.
The public transport services that are still operating are there to support authorised workers and people who need to travel for essential reasons. If that's you, remember to:
- Wear a mask
- Sit/stand only on green dots
- Stay home if you feel unwell
Thanks for doing the right thing and following health and travel advice.
Hang in there, NSW.
Meeting This WeekMain Meeting - Tuesday, 27 Jul - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm
We will be holding this meeting via Zoom; details later via email.
Meeting Next WeekPenrith Group - Saturday, 7 Aug - 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 ‡
48 2021/06/05 — 14:00-17:00 — 03 Jul, Sat — Penrith Group, Penrith City Library
49 2021/07/09 — 10:00-12:30 — 09 Jul, Fri — Friday Forum, L1 Carmichael Room
51 2021/07/13 — 17:30-20:30 — 13 Jul, Tue — Programming, L1 Woolley Room or via Jitsi
52 2021/07/17 — 13:30-16:30 — 17 Jul, Sat — Web Design, L1 Woolley Room or via Zoom
53 2021/07/20 — 09:30-12:30 — 20 Jul, Tue — Tuesday Group, L1 Woolley Room
54 2021/07/23 — 09:30-12:30 — 23 Jul, Fri — Digital Photography via Zoom
55 2021/07/27 — 17:30-20:30 — 27 Jul, Tue — MAIN Meeting, L1 Carmichael Room or via Zoom
56 2021/06/05 — 14:00-17:00 — 07 Aug, Sat — Penrith Group, Penrith City Library
‡ As decided after assessing the Members' wishes (resumption of face-to-face meetings) via the latest Online Survey.
ABC rejects FOIA request for details on data sharing with big tech.
See the iTWire article by Sam Varghese Friday, 23 July 2021, 10:47 am.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has rejected a Freedom of Information request from a security researcher seeking information on its sharing of data through iview. This service allows users to see programs that have already been broadcast or, in some cases, yet to go to air.
Dr Vanessa Teague, a researcher who runs the infosec outfit Thinking Cybersecurity, lodged a request on 16 June, seeking complete information on data-sharing agreements signed by the ABC. These involve third parties who have access to iview data, including Google, Facebook and customer data hub and enterprise tag management firm Tealium, and any other firm to whom the broadcaster has granted access.
In a tweet, Dr Teague said she would be asking for an internal review of the decision on her FOIA request.
1/4: Update. @ABCaustralia refused my FoI on iView data sharing.
- @ABCaustralia, which we own & pay for, has committed to selling ("sharing") our data to Google, Facebook & others, without asking us;
- they refuse to say what they're sharing with whom.
She made the request amidst a push by the taxpayer-funded broadcaster to make logins compulsory for iview from 1 July for reasons that it has not yet fully divulged. An ABC spokesman was only willing to say that this was meant to help users of the service by notifying them of content they were interested in, based on what they had been watching.
Though asked about it, the ABC has been silent as to why the logins were not then made voluntary so that those who did not require this babysitting could use iview without having to register.
On 1 July, when asked about the logins, the ABC said the implementation had been put off for at least six months. This statement was made in response to a media query and was not openly stated on the corporation's website.
Despite the postponement, the ABC is still running promos, fronted by Charlie Pickering, the presenter of the program The Weekly, to lobby viewers to sign up for online accounts.
In response to Dr Teague's request, the ABC said it could not divulge details because its arrangements with these companies were exempted under section 45 of the FOI Act. After all, disclosure could lead to legal action against it for breach of confidence.
The response said, in part: "Staff consulted have advised that each of the agreements contain information which was given and received by the ABC on the understanding that it would be treated in confidence."
"The information in the documents has the necessary quality of confidentiality. It is only known to a limited group and is not common knowledge or in the public domain."
"The information in the documents was communicated and received based on a mutual understanding that it would be treated by the ABC as confidential. Each of the documents contains clauses requiring that confidence be maintained."
Nokia and Xantaro drive UK fibre expansion with alternative service providers.
See the iTWire article by Chris Coughlan Thursday, 22 July 2021, 9:26 am.
Nokia announced expanding its relationship with Xantaro encompassing next-generation fibre access to connect more than two million UK homes with broadband speeds up to 10 Gigabit per second.
Nokia provides its next-generation fibre access technology to channel partner and service integrator Xantaro, supplying more than ten alternative service providers. These projects span Great Britain, from South West England, parts of London, the North of England to Scotland and Wales.
Alternative service providers (AltNets) build their businesses on full-fibre deployments in areas with slow or no broadband availability in urban and rural environments. Nokia supports these AltNets to increase broadband connectivity speed and fibre penetration in the UK with market-leading technology, enabling GPON, XGS-PON and 25G PON in a single unit.
This technology gives service providers the flexibility to select the most appropriate deployment model in each use case and provides long term investment protection. Xantaro also has access to Nokia's IP and Optical solutions and devices for consumers and enterprises, delivering WiFi 6 and mesh WiFi coverage inside buildings.
Nokia UK & Ireland sales director Paul Alexander said, "We are delighted to be able to support alternative service providers with our fibre technology through our partner Xantaro." Together with their knowledge of this market segment and their technical expertise, our technology form an excellent one-stop solution for AltNets to bring gigabit connectivity where there currently is none.
Xantaro sales director Rob Hamnett said, "Working with Nokia, we can offer AltNets the same leading technology that big nationwide telcos around the globe are building their infrastructure on." While subscribers benefit from a reliable Gigabit broadband service, the AltNets get a solution that grows with demand and provides a clear path towards future evolution of their fibre network, from 1 Gigabit up to 25 Gigabit speed.
Microsoft moves Windows into the cloud with Windows 365.
See the iTWire article by Stephen Withers Thursday, 15 July 2021 17:34.
Available from 2 August 2021, Microsoft 365 is Windows 10, and later this year, Windows 11 running in Microsoft's cloud and accessible via personal and corporate devices.
Significantly, Windows 365 delivers "the full Windows experience," according to Microsoft.
Unlike some hosted desktop systems, Windows 365 preserves apps, data and settings across settings (sic) to get the familiar personalised experience.
It can be used via a web browser or a Remote Desktop client.
"With Windows 365, we're creating a new category: the cloud PC," said Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella.
"Just like applications were brought to the cloud with SaaS, we are now bringing the operating system to the cloud, providing organisations with greater flexibility and a secure way to empower their workforce to be more productive and connected, regardless of location."
Windows 365 is part of Microsoft's response to hybrid working.
"Hybrid work has fundamentally changed the role of technology in organisations today," said Microsoft corporate vice president for Microsoft 365 Jared Spataro.
"With workforces more disparate than ever before, organisations need a new way to deliver a great productivity experience with increased versatility, simplicity and security. Cloud PC is an exciting new category of hybrid personal computing that turns any device into a personalised, productive and secure digital workspace. Today's announcement of Windows 365 is just the beginning of what will be possible as we blur the lines between the device and the cloud."
Windows 365 also addresses issues that were already apparent before the pandemic hit.
It stores data centrally, reducing the risk associated with lost or stolen devices.
It allows temporary or seasonal workers access to corporate systems without providing them with new hardware or putting them through security hoops before allowing them to use their own devices.
It makes it easier to provide people in creative, analytics, engineering or scientific roles with the computing power and applications they need.
Administrators aren't faced with learning how to use new management tools, as cloud PCs can be managed through Microsoft Endpoint Manager.
SMEs can purchase Windows 365 directly or through a cloud service provider and may choose to engage systems integrators or managed service providers to help them deploy and operate it.
Azure Virtual Desktop remains available for organisations that require greater customisation and flexibility.
The Hubble Telescope Is Back Online, but It's Not Out of the Woods Yet.
See the ReviewGeek article by SUZANNE HUMPHRIES | JUL 16, 2021, 12:53 pm EDT.
After spending several weeks offline in safe mode, the Hubble Space Telescope was finally brought back online. NASA shared the tremendous update in a Twitter post. After spending the past month troubleshooting the issue, NASA has determined that the Power Control Unit (PCU) was to blame.
"The Hubble Space Telescope backup payload computer was successfully brought online after a successful switch to backup hardware. Following a short checkout period, the science instruments will be brought back to operational status. nasa.gov"
Initially, NASA thought the shutdown was caused by an aging memory module but was recently able to figure out the actual cause. The PCU is what continuously powers the telescope's payload computer. The catch is that if the constant 5V flow fluctuates or falters even for a moment, the telescope automatically pauses its operations, which is what happened in this situation.
NASA's team made multiple attempts to reset and otherwise troubleshoot the PCU, all to no success. At that point, NASA decided to switch to the telescope's backup hardware formally. Although that's a desperate measure to take, it seems to have done the trick!
In a recent press release, NASA stated that its team is now working to recover the scientific instruments on the telescope, which were also stored in safe mode. That will take several hours. Once the instruments reach stable operating temperatures and can be adequately calibrated by NASA's team, Hubble will resume regular activity.
The 31-year-old telescope has been working hard for decades to help us further explore and understand our universe. Hopefully, its successor, the James Webb Telescope, will remain on track for its launch later this year; the two together will help us gather even more information about space at large, take even more stellar photos, and lessen the burden on the aging Hubble.
Why You Should Use RingCentral Video Instead of Zoom Basic for Your Small Business.
See the How-To Geek article SPONSORED by RingCentral | JUL 20, 2021, 6:00 am EDT.
Are you looking for a good video meeting service for your small business? RingCentral Video has a great free product that stacks up well against competitors like Zoom because meetings are often longer than 40 minutes.
RingCentral has been around for a long time as a great VoIP phone system for small businesses and a powerful fax service. Still, they've more recently started offering their video call system as a standalone product, and it's worth a look.
Note: If you need a full-featured phone, messaging, and video service, you can always upgrade to RingCentral MVP, but today, we're talking about RingCentral Video Pro and its free video conferencing solution.
RingCentral Does Everything You Need.
When you decide to switch to RingCentral Video Pro, you will not miss out on any key feature that you're used to since it's all there. Want to invite dozens of people, use a virtual background to hide your messy office, or let people dial in from a phone? No problem! It's all included.
The free version of RingCentral scales up to 100 participants, which is enough for almost any small business for a regular meeting. The paid version offers more, but it's unlikely that any small business will need thousands of people watching at a time. For the majority of people, the free version is probably all you'd need.
RingCentral Free Allows 24-Hour Meetings Compared to 40-Minute Meetings for Zoom Basic.
RingCentral Smart Switch Lets You Seamlessly Switch Between Devices.
RingCentral Works Natively in Chrome and Microsoft Edge, No App Required.
There's Even More If You Upgrade.
We think that it's a lot more likely that people will be interested in upgrading to RingCentral MVP. Because it's a full messaging, video, and phone system that has unlimited calls, voicemail-to-text, and audio conferencing, and it can even handle faxing if you need that for some reason. We've been using RingCentral MVP for a long time, and it's a perfect solution for VoIP for your small business.
Interesting Member-provided Computer Links
— Jeff Garland
Changing YouTube from displaying 4 videos per line to 5 videos per line sometimes takes THREE clicks.
Last week we revealed that you can hit the ‡ menu button to change from displaying 4 videos per line to 5 videos per line on YouTube pages.
At the same time, the vertical menu shrinks sideways.
However, we discovered that sometimes it doesn't give you 5 videos per line.
But hitting the ‡ button three times does do the job.
I can't explain it, either.
Googling for an explanation just came up with a two-hour video showing how to make a YouTube video.
"In YouTube when do you get four videos per line and when do you get five?"
How to Make A YouTube Video for Beginners START to FINISH! (2h05m52s).
Meeting Location & Disclaimer
~ 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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