2021 Newsletter: 112/121 — PreviousNext — (Attach.)

Sydney Harbour

Hello and Welcome,

AGM News

Announcing the new Club Committee for 2022:

Steve South,

Anthony Robinson,

Tim Kelly,

Jeff Garland and

Bob Backstrom.

The Committee will meet sometime in December to decide officer positions — President, Secretary, Treasurer etc.

These positions couldn't be decided at the AGM because Tim Kelly was absent.

It seemed inappropriate for the general membership to "allocate" portfolios, even though the Constitution hinted at such a procedure. That would have worked at a face-to-face AGM, but very difficult via Zoom.

The Club would like to record their sincere thanks to the former President and Secretary, Ron Ferguson, and to the former Committee member, John Rose.

— Ed.

Meeting This Week

Penrith Group - Saturday, 4 Dec - 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.

[ This meeting is suspended during the current COVID-19 Lockdown period — Ed. ]

— Jeff Garland

Meeting Next Week

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

We'll have the usual Q&A and other discussions.

— Tim Kelly

Schedule of Current & Upcoming Meetings ‡

80 2021/11/06 — 14:00-17:00 — 06 Nov, Sat — Penrith Group, Penrith City Library Suspended
81 2021/11/09 — 17:30-20:30 — 09 Nov, Tue — Programming via Jitsi
82 2021/11/12 — 10:00-12:30 — 12 Nov, Fri — Friday Forum, L1 Carmichael Room Cancelled
84 2021/11/16 — 09:30-12:30 — 16 Nov, Tue — Tuesday Group, L1 Woolley Room Cancelled
85 2021/11/20 — 13:30-16:30 — 20 Nov, Sat — Web Design via Zoom
86 2021/11/23 — 17:30-20:30 — 23 Nov, Tue — MAIN Meeting via Zoom
87 2021/11/26 — 09:30-12:30 — 26 Nov, Fri — Digital Photography via Zoom
88 2021/12/04 — 14:00-17:00 — 04 Dec, Sat — Penrith Group, Penrith City Library Suspended
89 2021/12/10 — 10:00-12:30 — 10 Dec, Fri — Friday Forum, L1 Carmichael Room Cancelled
91 2021/11/09 — 17:30-20:30 — 14 Dec, Tue — Programming via Jitsi

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

Tech News:

Windows 10 Updates Slowed Down

See the Infopackets article by John Lister on November 24 2021, at 02:11 am EST.

Microsoft is to switch to updating Windows 10 once a year. It's good news both for those hoping to use it for years to come and for those who'd prefer Microsoft to stop making changes for the sake of it.

When Windows 10 debuted, Microsoft adopted batching most non-security updates into two releases each year. The plan appeared to be that this schedule would effectively go on forever, with Windows 10 being the last new "edition" of the system. That has been ditched with the release of Windows 11, leaving some questions over future updates.

Windows 10 & 11 Updates Synchronized

Microsoft has now confirmed the major updates will slow to once a year for both Windows 10 and Windows 11. While Microsoft hasn't said so publicly, it seems part of the reason is that it's making very few significant changes to Windows 10 now, and there might not be enough to make more frequent updates worthwhile. (Source: theregister.com)

The move will be welcome news to users who've encountered problems with Windows 10 updates, particularly a frustrating vicious cycle where something goes wrong in an update, a fix is released, but the fix breaks another feature.

Microsoft has also confirmed its support plans for Windows 10. Those using Home and Pro editions that get the forthcoming November 2021 update will get support for the next 18 months, while those on Enterprise and Education will get support for the next 30 months. (Source: windows.com)

2025 Deadline Holds

Support will continue on a rolling schedule, meaning users who get the scheduled update in late 2022 will extend their support period, and so on.

Officially Microsoft is only committing to supporting Windows 10 as a whole until 14 October 2025. At that point, it will face a familiar dilemma if a large proportion of users are still running the system, particularly if hardware requirements make it impossible for many to get Windows 11.

If Windows 10 is still widely used in 2025, it seems highly unlikely Microsoft would axe security updates and leave the system open to attack. However, the more often it extends support deadlines, the fewer incentives users have to upgrade to later editions of Windows.

Read More »

Microsoft Still Pushing Edge Browser Hard

See the Infopackets article by John Lister on November 22 2021, at 01:11 pm EST.

Microsoft has confirmed it is blocking third-party tools designed to overcome several ways it pushes people towards the Edge browser. It affects tools such as EdgeDeflector, which works on Windows 10 and 11.

The tools aim at the way Windows and some built-in Microsoft applications use links to web pages. Rather than simply linking to a page address, they start with "microsoft-edge://" and open automatically in the Edge browser. This overrides the user's chosen default browser for opening web links.

Once Edge opens with the page in question, it also displays a request to set Edge as the default browser. Critics say this could confuse users who either agree by mistake or assume an important reason to switch (beyond Microsoft wanting to boost its user numbers).

Firefox Adopted Tool

Examples of such links are in the search tool in the Start Menu for Windows 10 and 11. The new Widgets feature in Windows 11 that displays links to pages such as news articles on websites and links which the user automatically sends from their phone to open on the computer later.

An independent developer made an application called EdgeDeflector that turns the special links into ordinary web links that open in the user's chosen browser as normal.

The developer believes Microsoft was willing to tolerate his application as it only had around 500,000 users. However, the developers of the Brave and Firefox browsers began work to provide users with a similar function, which would have affected a lot more people. (Source: ctrl.blog)

Microsoft Defiant

Microsoft has now taken a simple step to stop such tools from working. EdgeDeflector worked by setting itself as the "default protocol handler" for "microsoft-edge://" and, rather than opening the link, converted it into a regular web page link. Microsoft has now altered Windows 11 so that Edge is the only tool that can act as the default protocol handler.

It told The Verge that:

"Windows openly enables applications and services on its platform, including various web browsers. At the same time, Windows also offers certain end-to-end customer experiences in both Windows 10 and Windows 11. The search experience from the taskbar is one such example of an end-to-end experience that is not designed to be redirected. When we became aware of improper redirection, we issued a fix." (Source: theverge.com)

The move has proved controversial. Microsoft has previously been caught up in lengthy courtroom battles over how it ties its own browser (formerly Internet Explorer) to the Windows operating system. In this case, there doesn't seem any straightforward functionality or security reason why third-party browsers shouldn't open web links, so it appears to be a case of Microsoft doing something simply because it can.

Read More »

Can you imagine the outcry if any Linux-Distribution tried doing such a thing? — Ed.

Fun Facts:

French Translation

You'll remember last week's request for any French speakers out there to help translate the Ingredients List from the box of Arnott's "JATZ cracked pepper" biscuits.

Ingredients in French

Here is the list:

Composition: Wheat flour, vegetable oil, salt, poppy seeds, sugar, chemical yeast, pepper, clear molasses (treacle), bakers' yeast, malt extract (barley), antioxidants (E307B soy, E304), emulsifier (soy lecithin), REPEAT of above.

May contain traces of egg, milk, nuts, sesame and nuts in shell. Made in Australia.

Many thanks to Club Member Joséphine Wiseman.

SpinLaunch Hurls a Test Vehicle Kilometers Into the air. Eventually, it'll Throw Them Almost to Orbit

See the UniverseToday article by MATT WILLIAMS | NOVEMBER 18, 2021.

For today's commercial space companies providing launch services to orbit, the name of the game is simple: do it cheaper. To reduce the costs of launching payloads to space and encourage the commercialization of Low Earth Orbit (LEO), entrepreneurs have turned to everything from reusable rockets and 3-D printing to air-launch vehicles and high-altitude balloons. And yet, there is one concept that genuinely seems like something out of this world!

This concept is known as a mass accelerator, a kinetic energy space launch system alternative to chemical rockets. In recent news, the commercial space company SpinLaunch conducted the first launch test of its Suborbital Accelerator for the first time. The success of this vertical test is a crucial stepping stone towards creating the company's proposed Orbital Launch System (OLS), which will conduct regular payload launches soon.

In 2018, Universe Today reported on how SpinLaunch and its CEO Jonathan Yaney had come out of stealth mode and sought Series A funding. By 2019, the company broke ground on its test facility at Spaceport America, followed by constructing the Suborbital Accelerator. Measuring 33 meters in diameter (108 ft) in diameter, the Suborbital Accelerator is the world's tallest instrument of its kind and cost about $38 million to build.

Watch this 11m07s YouTube video by Scott Manley showing you how this will work.

Rocket Spinner

Rocket Separation

The system is a one-third-scale model of the OLS system that is currently under development and relies on the same components. Like the OLS, the Suborbital Accelerator uses a vacuum-sealed centrifuge to spin a rocket and then catapult it to space at up to 8,000 km/h (5,000 mph). The rotational kinetic energy comes from ground-based electricity provided by solar and wind (which would eliminate the carbon footprint of rocket launches).

Once the rocket reaches an altitude of roughly 61,000 m (200,000 ft), the rocket ignites its engines to reach a speed of 28,200 km/h (17,500 mph) and reach Low Earth Orbit (LEO). If successful, this system will vastly reduce the associated cost and energy of sending payloads to space while increasing the frequency of launches. According to projections, the OLS will reduce the cost of individual space launched by a factor of 20 (less than $500,000).

Since the 1960s, NASA has been exploring this technology as an alternative to rocket launches. While it was never used, NASA has continued to develop this technology through the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Kennedy Space Center. Here, engineers have been working on concepts like the Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) System to launch spaceplanes horizontally using scramjets on an electrified track.

Read More »

Meeting Location & Disclaimer

Bob Backstrom
~ Newsletter Editor ~

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