2021 Newsletter: 74/121 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

New Date Set for Our 2020/21 AGM

In regard to the continued lockdown due to COVID and in discussion with our group's committee, it has been decided to defer our AGM until Tuesday, 23 November 2021.

— Ron Ferguson

SMSA Closure Update

SMSA will remain CLOSED until at least Monday 30 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.


Meetings This Week

Programming - Tuesday, 10 Aug - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

Hi Team,

We will be running this meeting using Jitsi; details later by email.

See the Progsig Meeting Reports:


The next meeting is on Tuesday 10th August 2021, at 6 pm.


— Steve OBrien

Friday Forum - Friday, 13 Aug - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - noon

We'll have the usual Q&A and other discussions. [ Meeting cancelled — See SMSA message above. ]

— Tim Kelly

Meetings Next Week

Tuesday Group - Tuesday, 17 Aug - 9:30 am (10:00 am meeting start) - noon

We'll have the usual Q&A and other discussions. [ Meeting cancelled — See SMSA message above. ]

Web Design - Saturday, 21 Aug - 1:30 pm (2:00 pm meeting start) - 4:00 pm

We will be running this meeting using Zoom; details later by email.

— Steve South

Schedule of Current & Upcoming Meetings ‡

56 2021/06/05 — 14:00-17:00 — 07 Aug, Sat — Penrith Group, Penrith City Library
57 2021/08/10 — 17:30-20:30 — 10 Aug, Tue — Programming via Jitsi
58 2021/08/13 — 10:00-12:30 — 13 Aug, Fri — Friday Forum, L1 Carmichael Room Cancelled
60 2021/08/17 — 09:30-12:30 — 17 Aug, Tue — Tuesday Group, L1 Woolley Room Cancelled
61 2021/08/21 — 13:30-16:30 — 21 Aug, Sat — Web Design via Zoom
62 2021/08/24 — 17:30-20:30 — 24 Aug, Tue — MAIN Meeting via Zoom
63 2021/08/27 — 09:30-12:30 — 27 Aug, Fri — Digital Photography via Zoom

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

Tech News:

What Is Google Tensor, and Why Is Google Making its Own Processor?

See the How-To Geek article by JOE FEDEWA | @tallshmo | AUG 3, 2021, 11:00 am EDT.

Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro Phones

Google's Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro Phones

If you've shopped for a smartphone, you probably know the name Qualcomm Snapdragon. Qualcomm powers the vast majority of Android phones. But now Google has made its own processor, and it's called Tensor.

Google is joining the ranks of Apple — and Samsung, to a lesser extent — as a phone maker that produces its own processor. Typically, companies such as OnePlus, LG, and even Samsung, manufacture phones that use processors from Qualcomm or Mediatek.

Following Apple's Lead

Apple has been making its own processors for iPhones since the very beginning. The company is even transitioning Mac computers to its own chips. This allows Apple to do things with iPhones that aren't possible if they used other chips. It's a very deep level of integration between hardware and software.

Google has historically been known for its software, but the Pixel phones and devices like the Google Nest Mini were its first steps toward making its own physical devices. Now, it's following in Apple's steps and making an essential component for those devices.

What Is Google Tensor?

In the most basic definition, Google Tensor is simply a system-on-chip (SoC) or what is commonly referred to as a processor. It's the same thing as a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 or an Apple A14 Bionic. These are all chips that power their respective devices.

Power is a very simplified purpose of a processor. The Google Tensor chip also contributes to photo and video processing, voice-to-speech translation, and much more. Tensor will allow devices to run more machine learning and AI tasks without burning up.

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty specifications of the Google Tensor chip, we don't know all the details at the time of writing. The chip is alleged to be 8-core, five-nanometer, and ARM-based. According to 9to5Google, it was co-developed with Samsung.


When Will Tensor Be in Devices?

The first devices to feature Tensor will be the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Google has already teased these smartphones, and it is expected to show them off this Fall officially. The Pixel 6 series will launch along with Android 12 sometime in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Read More »

Plex versus Kodi: Which Is Better for Home Streaming?

See the ReveiwGeek article by SUZANNE HUMPHRIES | @yeah_books | JAN 4, 2021, 8:00 am EDT.


Comparing PLEX and KODI

Plex and Kodi are competing streaming media centres that people use to enjoy their collections of movies, TV shows, pictures, and music. While they both offer the same core functionality, their features vary wildly, so we figured we'd take a look at both to see what makes them tick and which one is better.

Having a home-streaming setup is a great thing, which is why it's worth taking a moment to learn about the two most popular options. A media centre gives you a way to centralize your personal digital media files, like the movies and music you've acquired over the years, and easily access and view them on your TV or other devices.

Plans and Pricing

Plex offers a free server-and-client model that's easy to use. All you have to do is download the Plex Media Server onto the device where you store your media, connect your media files, install and log into the app, and voilá! You're ready to go.

Plex also has a premium subscription service, dubbed Plex Pass, as an optional upgrade. There's a $4.99 monthly plan, a $39.99 annual plan, and a $119.99 lifetime plan, and they all unlock an impressive array of features.

On the other hand, Kodi is a free local media player that runs on your computer, TV, mobile device, or streaming device. And because it's free, you won't ever have to worry about any of its functionality being locked behind a paywall. Every feature is always available to you, and you're even free to hop in and add some of your own since it's open-source.

Plex's Features

A Plex Media Server can store all of your movies, TV shows, photos, podcasts, news, and web shows, and it enables you to set up multiple profiles if you need. Because of its server-and-client design, you can access your Plex library from pretty much any platform and device in your home. And, if you set it up correctly, you can even access it when you aren't on the same network, which makes it great for use on road trips.

Kodi's Features

Kodi is an open-source local media player that offers similar functionality to Plex, enabling you to centralize your collection of music, movies, TV shows, and photos. However, it's better suited for use in your home theatre — whether via a Raspberry Pi or media centre computer that's connected to your TV. It doesn't natively share your library with other devices or sync your library across multiple devices (though it is possible to set this up if you've got the know-how).

The Verdict

So, there you have it. While Plex and Kodi are both solid options for your home streaming setup and do a great job centralizing your media, they each have a unique feature set that's aimed at slightly different audiences. So, it's up to you to discern which one is a better fit for your needs (or maybe you'll decide you want to use both).

Plex is beautiful, boasts impressive device compatibility, and enables you to access and share your media library from multiple devices over the web. It's easy enough for anyone in your family to use and offers a robust premium plan to those who want more features. But, it lacks customization options and locks some of its best features behind said premium plan.

On the other hand, Kodi is free and open-source with powerful personalization options that are rewarding to those who have the know-how. It also has a healthy add-on ecosystem and is well-suited for dedicated home theatre setups. However, you can't access your content if you're away from home (at least not without great effort), and it doesn't offer the slick out-of-the-box usability that Plex does.

Still unsure? They're both free, so why not download each of them and determine which one works better for you.

Read More »

The ISS is Now Stable After Docked Russian Module Unexpectedly Fired Thrusters

See the ReviewGeek article by SUZANNE HUMPHRIES | @yeah_books | JUL 30, 2021, 2:30 pm EDT.

ISS joined by Nauka

ISS joined by Russian Module, Nauka

Russia's Nauka Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM) successfully connected with the International Space Station on Thursday, July 29. Not long after, however, the flight control team noticed the module's thrusters were unexpectedly firing, temporarily pushing the station out of orientation.

Russian cosmonauts were preparing to open the hatches that would connect the Nauka to the ISS. The ship's movement thrusters started firing, and the space station began losing attitude control. That was problematic.

The ISS needs to maintain a certain attitude to keep its signal with geostationary satellites and communicate with Mission Control. The station's positioning needs to stay the same so that its solar arrays can optimally collect power. Its structure was also in jeopardy, as it was assembled in microgravity and designed to work in zero gravity. If its position was shifted too much, stress from G forces could cause cracks or other structural issues.

Since then, however, ground teams were quickly able to right the station and regain attitude control. No information was released regarding the seriousness of the situation. By Thursday afternoon, NASA officials held a briefing teleconference. Joel Montalbano, NASA's space station program manager, said, "Until you exhaust all your contingency plans, you're not really starting to worry. And we didn't do that today."

Unfortunately, the event caused a delay for Friday's scheduled launch of a Starliner spacecraft, which had already dealt with a previous delay in December of 2019 driven by software problems. Boeing has agreed to a second test mission of Starliner, which NASA moved to no earlier than Tuesday, August 3, at 1:20 pm EDT from Florida. If that goes according to plan, we can expect to see Starliner dock with the ISS on Wednesday, August 4.

In the meantime, Russian cosmonauts are continuing to integrate its large Nauka ship with the ISS. It features crew quarters and an airlock for scientific experiments. Neither the Russian crew nor the crew aboard the ISS was ever in danger from the thruster firing, and Mission Control Houston is now (more) closely monitoring the station in its orbit.

Read More »

Interesting Member-Provided Computer Links

Windows 11: What to know about the beta download, new features, device compatibility, price and more

Windows 11 Creating an installation drive takes time

Windows 11's release is coming, but it's missing some key features

Windows 11 looks a little different. Here's what's changing

Windows 11 vs. Windows 10: Every big difference

Windows 11 Preview vs. Windows 10: Benchmarks compared

Windows 11 Features we think you'll really like (and how they work)

— Jeff Garland

Fun Facts:

An Interesting Trigonometric Sum

See the 12m47s YouTube video showing the sum of two reciprocals.

They would like to find the sum of:

1/sin2(18°) + 1/sin2(54°)

See if you can simplify it yourself, and then watch the video. It's quite an interesting procedure.

Let's try three reciprocals instead.

I can then try my new free Decimal Basic program from Japan.

This version gives you 1,000 digits of accuracy.

Wow! That beats the usual 17-digit accuracy using 64-bit arithmetic.

All you do in the Basic program is use:

"OPTION ARITHMETIC decimal_high"



The second allows you to use degrees instead of radians in trigonometrical expressions.

Unfortunately, their trig functions still only give 17-digit values.

The solution is to find an equation using sin(10°) and sin(30°).

We can then use the triple-angle formula for sin(3α) and the Newton Iteration Method to calculate the results to 1,000-digit accuracy.

The well-known double angle formula is: sin(2α) = 2sin(α)cos(α).

The triple-angle formula is: sin(3α) = 3sin(α) - 4sin3(α).

So, putting 3α = 30°, lets us find sin(α), which is sin(10°).

Sin(30°) is 1/2, so the equation we use is 1/2 = 3x - 4x3.

This yields solutions to 3α = 30°, 150° and 210° giving the three values sin(10°), sin(50°) and sin(70°).

Here, rounded to 120 decimal places, are the reciprocals of their squares and, finally, the surprising sum:

1/sin2(10°) = 33.1634374775­2635842648­4889641639­0369104659­8980487459­6096276948­8815247824­8678922913­1421768450­8515570269­9044606394­4378389505…

1/sin2(50°) =  1.7040881910­4184734593­9659753093­1115045043­2409093917­2739497844­6476931771­5780864856­1657767070­7780222761­1328057927­9793690700…

1/sin2(70°) =  1.1324743314­3179422757­5450605267­8515850296­8610418623­1164225206­4707820403­5540212230­6920464478­3704206968­9627335677­5827919795…

....... SUM = 36.0000000000­0000000000­0000000000­0000000000­0000000000­0000000000­0000000000­0000000000­0000000000­0000000000­0000000000­0000000000…


By not using arithmetic this time, but using algebra, can you show that the sum is exactly 36?

It looks like a pretty sure bet!

An interesting problem,

— Ed.

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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