2021 Newsletter: 79/121 — 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 4 October as per NSW Health orders. Further details on reopening to be advised on our website.

For enquiries during this time, please contact:

Library: library@­smsa.org.au

Venue Hire / Administration: venue.hire@­smsa.org.au

SMSA Events: tkc@­smsa.org.au

Our staff are working from home during this period. The SMSA phone has been diverted to a mobile and we can assist you over the phone if needed: 02 9262 7300.

We encourage everyone to regularly check the list of hotspot locations and alerts on the NSW Health website and follow their advice.


Meeting TODAY

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

Hi everyone,

Our Web Design meeting is next Saturday the 21st at 2 pm via Zoom.

This month I found some free courses, mainly on Web Design, but other topics are available.

We can also look at a set of developer tools. It has over 50 different sets of codes you can adjust and use for free.

I found another Instagram tutorial this time on how to search Google like a pro.

Here are the details:

Time: Aug 21, 2021, 02:00 pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney

Join Zoom Meeting:


Meeting ID: 870 3471 3666

Passcode: webdesign

Hope to see you all there,

— Steve South

Meetings This Week

Main Meeting - Tuesday, 24 Aug - 5:30 pm (6:00 pm meeting start) - 8:00 pm

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

— Alex

Digital Photography - Friday, 27 Aug - 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.

— John Lucke

Meeting Next Week

Penrith Group - Saturday, 4 Sep - 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 ‡

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
64 2021/09/04 — 14:00-17:00 — 04 Sep, 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:

Vocus repairs Australia Singapore Cable within 13 days

See the iTWire article by Kenn Anthony Mendoza Thursday, 19 August 2021 at 12:46.

The Australia Singapore Cable (ASC), which incurred a cut, has been repaired, with services restored in just 13 days — a process which would typically take months, according to telecommunications company Vocus.

Vocus says the ASC is a fibre cable system with a capacity of up to 60 terabits per second (Tbps), stretching 4,600 kilometres between Perth and Singapore, with connections to Christmas Island and Indonesia.

Last 1 August, Vocus reported that the cable was cut off the coast of Perth after a container ship allegedly dropped its anchor in a cable protection zone.

The disruption impacted services passing into and out of Perth, while services between Christmas Island, Jakarta, and Singapore remained operational.

Vocus' operations command centre, field technicians, and submarine cable maintenance partners were immediately deployed to the Perth cable landing station. The team confirmed a break to the cable approximately 10km off Perth's coast, at a water depth of 27m.

Vocus IP services and traffic were immediately re-routed where possible. They remained operational as traffic destined for Asia was temporarily routed through Australia's east coast via Hong Kong and the United States.

Vocus' engineers optimised traffic out of Perth to Singapore via an alternate cable system.

Vocus engaged with its marine repair partner, SubCom, and deployed its repair vessel, CS Reliance, to start repairs.

After obtaining all the required permits and approvals, the CS Reliance began repairs last 5 August — just four days after the break. Scuba divers and a remotely operated vehicle were deployed to identify both ends of the cable break, and the faulty segment was hauled.

By 9 August, just four days after commencing repairs, the south portion of the break had been spliced, while a section of new cable was laid toward the north end of the break. Bad weather in the region slowed repairs, and repair operations resumed last 11 August.

Vocus commenced testing the cable soon after, and regular services were restored as of 13:36 AEST last 13 August.

From the time the cable was cut on Sunday 1 August to the resumption of standard services, Vocus staff and the crew of the CS Reliance worked continuously throughout turbulent weather to complete the repairs.

Because the CS Reliance was already in the area, repairs were conducted in record time — a significant effort that usually would take months was completed in just 13 days.

Read More »

Firefox Takes Aim At Cookies

See the InfoPackets article by John Lister on August 18 2021, at 10:08 pm EDT.

Firefox has added a new feature letting users remove all traces of visiting a website, including cookies. It builds on the browser's existing technology that makes it harder for a single site to track users across the web.

Both features aim to tackle the problem that tracking and other records of online activity come from various sources. Visiting a particular site creates several pieces of data on a computer. At the same time, cookies are made more complicated because the site that places them on a computer isn't always the same as the site that accesses and uses the cookie.

Total Cookie Protection

The existing feature, which rolled out in February, is called Total Cookie Protection. It affects the way cookies are organized on the user's computer. In simple terms, they are organized into separate buckets (or perhaps that should be "cookie jars") by the site the user was visiting when the cookie was placed.

That means online businesses can't create a single cookie to track activity across multiple sites and will find it harder to link together data from different cookies on the user's machine. It's by no means foolproof but should reduce unwanted tracking.

It also means users can clear all the cookies placed by a particular site, whether a cookie is designed for that site or placed on behalf of a third party such as an advertiser.

Forget Everything

The new feature lets users clear all data created by visiting a site. It's activated by viewing browsing history, right-clicking on an entry for a particular site, then selecting "Forget About This Site." (Source: arstechnica.com)

Doing so clears all cookies set by the site (including third-party cookies),, removes them from browsing history, and deletes any locally stored files such as code scripts or cached images. The idea is to simplify it to carry out a task that currently involves multiple steps and some potentially time-consuming searches.

The feature comes with Firefox version 91, which also catches up with Chrome on secure websites. Firefox will now take any site address and look for a secure (https://) version by default. Only if it can't find one will it load the insecure (http://) version. (Source: xda-developers.com)

Read More »

ZTE's Latest Phone Has an Invisible Selfie Camera, Arrives in the U.S. on September 9th

See the ReviewGeek article by ANDREW HEINZMAN | @andrew_andrew__ | AUG 16, 2021, 1:06 pm EDT.

ZTE 30 5G Phone

Under-Display Camera on ZTE 30 5G Phone

ZTE recently announced the Axon 30 5G, a $500 smartphone and the company's latest attempt at under-display camera technology. The Axon 30 5G launched in China earlier this month, but ZTE now confirms that it's planning a U.S. and global release for September 9th.

We tested the ZTE Axon 20 5G last year, and its under-display camera wasn't all that impressive. The display area above the camera had a low pixel density (200 PPI) and looked more distracting than a hole-punch camera, and of course, photo quality sucked.

But ZTE says that it's addressed these issues in the Axon 30 5G, which features a 400 PPI display area above the selfie camera. It also uses a new 7-layer transparency structure in its display, which should allow more light to reach the camera and improve photo quality. And like Samsung or Oppo, ZTE probably uses computational photography to artificially increase the contrast and sharpness of under-display camera images.

Along with its fancy selfie camera, the ZTE Axon 30 5G features a 6.92-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate and FHD+ resolution. It runs on a Snapdragon 870 chipset and minimum 6GB of RAM (up to 12GB), plus 55-watt wired charging for its 4,200mAh battery (though it lacks wireless charging). These specs are impressive for the price and should offer performance similar to the pricier ZTE Axon 30 Ultra 5G.

ZTE hasn't opened pre-orders for the Axon 30 5G at the time of writing, though the device's product page is live on ZTE's website.

Read More »

Good News: This Giant Asteroid Probably Won't Hit Earth (NASA Thinks)

See the ReviewGeek article by CORY GUNTHER | @xguntherc | AUG 15, 2021, 2:00 pm EDT.

Asteroid Bennu

Asteroid Bennu probably NOT going to impact Earth

According to NASA, asteroid Bennu is one of the most hazardous known asteroids in our solar system. And now, thanks to a recent visit by a NASA spacecraft, we're hearing the chances of it colliding with Earth are higher than originally thought.

Initially, NASA didn't think it was much of a concern and said there was only a 1 in 2,700 chance of a collision, but now we have a little more information to go on. Based on the latest calculations from data gathered during NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission, which sampled the hazardous asteroid, Bennu has a higher chance of hitting Earth, possibly, but probably won't.

So, you're telling me there's a chance! A study based on the findings was published this week in the Icarus journal. Apparently, between now and the year 2300, Bennu has a 1 in 1,750 chance of impacting Earth. That's still pretty slim, and researchers don't believe the change is big enough to worry too much about Bennu.

Originally, the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission was to collect a sample from Bennu and return it to Earth. However, during its more than two-year visit, NASA gained valuable insight about nearby asteroids, their trajectory paths, and can achieve better calculations on movement.

The asteroid will make its next closest approach to Earth in 2135, so we don't have anything to worry about, at least not yet.

Read More »

Fun Facts:

Good News for those without Smart-Phones

In these days of lockdowns, you might need to shop at the supermarkets.

But what if you don't have a Smart-Phone to scan the QR code at the store?

The NSW Government has set up a web page to enter your Name and Phone number and produce your own QR code.

Then the supermarket employee checking the door will scan your QR code to get your details before admittance.

Great idea.

I tried it out and got this partial code to show you:

NSW Govt supplied QR code

NSW-supplied QR code with name and phone number

All we have to do now is use the QR code to get into the supermarket.

Now you won't have to order food online and stretch it out for two weeks. You can top up your supplies any time you like.

Note from Lois of Hornsby:

This morning, a letter in the SMH, Wed 18th August, says not a single supermarket has a scanner to read them. I hope that changes. Lois.

— Ed.

Meeting Location & Disclaimer

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

Information for Members and Visitors:

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