The stories will be posted as they come, most recent at the top of the page. They will probably be very varied. Feel free to express whatever you like. Send an image or two if you can, even if it is not central to the story. An image of the writer is alway welcome: it allows people to recognise you. Email with text within the email to… John Travers. We’ll publish items that conform with the U3A Code of Conduct (see About Us)
Word clouds are an entertaining way to play with words by making a graphic display of the words in a passage of text. The following word cloud is based on a list of the topics of all the courses at U3A plus descriptive words that list some of the types of course, such as ‘games’ and ‘computing’. The more numerous a word is in the text, the larger the word becomes.
This word cloud gives an attractive easy to read overview of the course coverage at U3A Adelaide.
There are lots of free word cloud generators on the Web: this one is generated by https://www.wordclouds.com/. It is a simple process to make a word cloud. Simply copy the text from an article into the site and the word cloud is produced. The more numerous a word is in the text, the larger the word becomes. You can change many settings for shape, font, colour and so on the get the effect you want. Words like
This one is taken from a NYTimes story on Trump and conspiracy theories. You can get an idea of the content of the story from the most used words. Conjunctions and like words are ignored.
Following the startling highjacking of Sue Garforth’s email account recently, many people are thinking about the safety of their own email. The following are some tips on how you can protect yourself. There is a lot of information on the web that goes into more detail. These days one’s email account is a critical service. So it is worth being careful.
Some of the elements of good practice are:
1. Have a good password and only use it once. Everyone knows this, but it is difficult when one has so many passwords to keep track of. A good method to remember one or two most important passwords is to think of a sentence that is easy for you to remember and the password is the first letter of each word. For example: “In Athens we paid 3 $ for 9 loaves and 2 fish”. The password is: iAwp3$f9la2f. If you are prepared to invest some time to make the problem go away, get a password manager app. Best ones are Dashlane, LastPass and 1Password.
2. Only use an email service that has two-step verification. This means that if you change your password or make any significant alteration to your email service, a number is sent to your phone or email that you enter to verify that you are the owner of the account. Sue had this facility and has regained access to her account. Yet to be determined if it is safe though.
I think that having a large and well known email provider is important. In case things go wrong, go to your email and look for the help functions to report what has happened. Large services like Gmail are very responsive to reports of fraud or hacking.
If you have more ideas please make a Comment below.
The term Webinar has been around for a while, meaning a ‘web seminar’. Now, with the pandemic and improved technology they have leapt in importance. Essentially a webinar is a well organised web meeting, commonly used by companies and organisations to get information to large groups. For our AGM we will use a webinar licence from Zoom to have a meeting of up to 100 people. An email invitation will go out in advance inviting registration for the meeting. Members complete this simple form and that’s it. Each will get a zoom invitation on the day.
In the webinar there can be a number of ‘panelists’ who appear via video and present information and visuals if necessary. Participants will be able to send chat comments and questions and they will be able to vote on resolutions.
Those who do not want to participate from home will be able to attend a group zoom at the Box Factory. There will not be any wine and food, but there is talk of the Board organising Uber-Eats to deliver these to each participant’s home.
This is an incontrovertible fact: especially if you are elderly. That is because podcasts listeners generally are listened on a phone while walking, exercising, gardening, painting so they keep fit and therefore live longer. A bonus is that podcasts generally engage the brain so the podcasee becomes smarter and able to have more interesting conversations.
A podcast is a series of audio recordings that one can subscribe to on a podcast app on a phone. A new podcast appears on one’s phone as soon as it is published. It is in effect on-demand-radio. There are over a million podcast available. Podcasts are generally free and have become a major publishing industry because people like to listen to people’s stories and opinions. A spectacular example is the ABCs Richard Fidler Conversations. Nearly all Radio National is available on podcasts.
How do you get podcasts?
- Find the podcast app on your phone. You don’t have to listen on a phone, but they do have the advantage of being very portable. Connect your ear-buds.
- In the app, search for topics that interest you and Subscribe to those you want to try. You can try out as many as you like.
- Choose the option to only keep, say 2 episodes, so you don’t fill up your phone with old podcasts — audio files are large.
- They will automatically download at home via wireless as they become available. (Make sure your podcast app is set NOT to use mobile data otherwise it will download while out and about and eat up your mobile data.)
- Think of all the tasks you find tedious and consider listening to a distracting podcast while you are doing it.
- Consider getting cordless earbuds like Apple AirPods. They remove the annoying cords.
These are some of the podcasts that I listen to. You can find podcasts in whatever you are interested in because people have found it a very cheap and effective way to get their message out.
If you enjoy podcasts you may find that listening to audio-books is also appealing. You can get free audio-books from Libby, the SA public library app.
Podcast can also be an effective insomnia aid. You can quietly listen, and can set the sleep timer to stop after a set time.
There have been reports that Flinders University does not allow Zoom on its system. It appears that Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and UniSA are all using zoom extensively.
Zoom has upgraded its procedures and now the default setting is for people coming into a meeting to go into a waiting room where the host admits them, checking their name. The latest upgrade to Zoom 5.1 includes increased encryption and Roger Bills advises members to check that they have the latest upgrade. To check if you have the latest, do the following.
Open your account button (top right, with green dot) and go to Check for Updates.
by John Travers
A tale of a neglected veranda that made good
We have lived in our house since 1976. It has a nice veranda which we have rarely used. But over the last five weeks (due to you know what) we have had our morning coffee there, saying g’day to passing people, and watching the honeyeaters zooming around the garden. Out of necessity, we have also safely hosted visitors on the veranda for a coffee and precious personal contact. It is very pleasant out there. Who knew!
Of necessity, in a similar fashion, U3A Adelaide has since early April adapted a number of courses to be delivered online and created another batch of new online courses. Out of curiosity, I spent a little time recently exploring other U3As around Australia to see how they have adapted to Corona-19. I did a search for u3a and zoom — the now famous video meeting app. The first three results were Port Phillip which is offering about ten Zoom based courses. Melbourne City and Deepdene (Melbourne) have converted a majority of their courses for the year to be delivered by Zoom, a quite remarkable transformation. It seems that they both decided to be proactive, put together a team to help train tutors to adapt to the new, and made the change. As the restrictions on social contact reduce, no doubt they will return to a largely face-to-face U3A, but I suspect not entirely, because there are some advantages in not having to travel to a class and be able to engage with each other by video. Attendance will probably improve online.
In the same way that necessity led my wife and I to discover our front veranda, necessity has caused us to look for different ways to do the business of U3A. Our family has for years kept children and grandchildren in close touch by video, while interstate and overseas. I had never thought of it as a practical tool for group instruction and discussion because the available tools weren’t good enough. Now they are. Interesting how necessity creates opportunities!
Comments are open on this post
Summary of the Tutors discussion via Zoom, May 7 *
*This is the final version of the summary originally posted on May 8
Last week’s Board meeting (via Zoom) agreed to an invitation to Tutors to take part in a meeting via Zoom on coping with the shutdown. Nearly 30 met via Zoom nearly two hours. The following is a summary of the meeting.
It is unlikely that U3A will be back to normal for some months. The risk to elderly people in small rooms will deter members from returning to classes for some time, even when this is permitted. Room 4 has space for social distancing.
A modest number of established courses have continued since the shutdown with a majority of these using Zoom video meetings as their main platform. A small number of new online courses have opened with all but one using Zoom. There were strong support of the use of Zoom by tutors who have used it sofar. It is relatively easy to learn and participate. Some members are quite resistant to using it, and felt threatened by technology. Some tutors find that Zoom is not suited to their class. In general newcomers to zoom quickly become comfortable with it and enjoy the interaction. Members should be encouraged to join the class Come Zoom With Me which provides an individual introduction to Zoom.
It is likely that in the long term at U3A there will be a mixture of face-to-face course and online ones and hybrid classes
U3A should actively promote online learning and assist tutors (current and future) to manage classes online. It would be a good idea to have a forum or collection of helpful comments, guides etc on how to use Zoom, and other means, effectively and efficiently… using the website. [Done: see Zooming category on this blog].
U3A should investigate getting a Business subscription to Zoom which may be cheaper than paying individual licences.
An extensive tutorial was provided on the online enrolment and membership system, demonstrating how tutors can display enrolments, email a list and generally manage their class. Tutors were also reminded of the detailed guides for tutors and members that are on the website.
by John Travers
Four courses just started with Zoom…
Tric Topsfield The Pleasure of Reading
Our group has met twice using Zoom. The first time with only four participants went very well in terms of clear communication and good quality of sound. The small number obviously demands that each participant needs to be well prepared to contribute to the discussion in order for the meeting to proceed smoothly.
The second time with eleven participants provided more of a challenge with echoing causing difficulty with hearing for me as a hearing aid wearer but that seemed to vary with each person. I suspect I had the most difficulty and even so I managed well enough to enjoy the experience. Feedback from members having their first Reading for Pleasure on Zoom was that the meeting went well. Conversation was engaging with every participant contributing.
A further challenge is accessing scheduled books with restricted library services so the order of books has had to be altered to meet this challenge. Meetings with Zoom will continue until we can all rejoice in seeing each other in actuality rather than on screen.
PS A plus for me has been learning how to use a new IT communication skill which I may need to use in the future.
Renate Tonks German Advanced Conversation
Dace Darzins is the Tutor and I manage the class on Zoom. We have a Pro licence paid for by u3a so we can go for longer than the standard 40 min.
Unfortunately the group is quite small, maximum so far have been 8 participants, but this makes the group quite manageable. If the group were any larger I think we might struggle to have spontaneous conversations.
Each week we agree on a topic and each person has an opportunity to express themselves, which generates questions from the other participants. We have found that a relaxed conversational style session, as compared to a formal presentation followed by discussion, works best when using Zoom. Once everyone got used to giving one person at a time the floor and not interrupting the sessions now flow very smoothly.
I don’t believe that we need the whiteboard in Zoom as most people are taking their own notes and asking if they don’t understand something, whereby Dace will explain the meaning and spelling of words.
Kay Bennetts Free to Air Film Club
We have just had our first session and it went very well indeed. The film was chosen from the enormous number available on SBS On Demand.
There were eight participants who engaged in lively discussion. Everyone felt that seeing each other all the time was very important in this time of social distancing, and that 8 was the perfect number to enable a natural relaxed conversation.
Everyone is keen to continue and was impressed with how easy it is to have a conversation in this manner. People like the fact that you can see everyone in the group all the time.
[Enrolments are still open for this group and for a number of the other new online courses.]
John Travers Book Club
I recently lead a book club discussion of twelve in Zoom and we asked each person to hold their hand up if they wanted to speak. This worked very well, better than a regular discussion, because we were all looking at each other and could see if someone had their hand up. The Chair simply said a name, and on the conversation went. It was a more orderly conversation than usual and more personal, surprisingly.
How necessity drives innovation faster than technology
by John Travers
In mid May our lives were turned slightly upside-down by the world pandemic. I started to set up a video meeting with a group of men I regularly meet with and someone suggested that Zoom was better than Skype. I did a quick look at reviews and found that Skype was similar and better known. A week later several other people mentioned Zoom so I thought I had better have a look at it. Within a week I was a regular Zoom user and since then have hosted or taken part in multiple meetings of our Old Men Group, my wife’s discussion group, my book club, my wife’s tennis group, a class I conducted on Apple Photos, and another on writing a blog. U3A’s next Board meeting will be via Zoom. Our grandchildren are now spending their full school day online, in class. As one ruefully commented, “The teachers seem to think we have nothing else to do.”
As a long time promoter of technology in education through by work and in retirement this is a quite amazing change. Have people suddenly decided that technology is wonderful? Has the technology suddenly got better? No to both questions. Necessity has pushed us forward, and don’t have an doubt that it is forward.
The members of my Old Men’s group and of my wife’s tennis group are not all technology enthusiasts, but they have been presented with a choice: do you want to maintain face to face contact with your friends even though it might mean some technological discomfort? The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, not because everyone found it stress free, but it seems that all have found it a satisfying experience once they get over the initial awkwardness. Our book club has met for years and had very good discussions — and long argumentative lunches. But last week’s meeting was generally thought to be one of our best discussions ever, via Zoom, and as a bonus, a couple of people who could not attend were sent an audio of the discussion. I missed the lunch, though.
“You can get a personal Zoom introduction from Roger by enrolling in Come Zoom with Me.”
So, from this very short history I think that the lesson is that necessity, opportunity and a bit of confidence take us forward. A considerable proportion of U3A members have been using Skype or FaceTime to talk to their children and grandchildren for some time. Many have in the last month taken the next step into group video meetings. Give it a go. Experiment with someone who can help. Humans like to talk and interact, and these tools help.
A number of classes at U3A are thriving with Zoom. U3A Board has agreed to pay for licences for the extended time version of Zoom for tutors who need it. There is a very simple guide to getting started in Learning Stories A Guide to Zoom, below on this blog, . There is a much more detailed guide by Roger Bills at Come Zoom with Me, in Course Notes. And more important, you can get a personal Zoom introduction from Roger by enrolling in the course, Come Zoom with Me.
by Joelie Hancock Email
Two years ago I set myself the task of documenting all the institutes we have had in South Australia. Institutes provided our communities, both suburban and rural, with a library, a reading-room and a meeting place — for entertainment, debate and instruction. Originally from the UK in the 1820s, they were called Mechanics’ Institutes. We in South Australia had 440 of them — at least that’s how many I’ve located so far.
The internet has been invaluable in locating them, finding out about them and their towns, and tracking down a photo of each. I’m confident it will eventually help me to make the information I’ve gathered available to others.
Many of the sources I’ve used could well be useful for others in finding out about ancestors, people of interest, halls, schools, towns, organisations such as Lodges, events, churches, War Memorials, and Libraries. Here are my sources:
Trove: ‘Newspapers Advanced Search’ in Trove gives me access to digitised versions of all Australian newspapers up to 1959. I select South Australia, type in eg ‘Goolwa Institute’, if I want I select a decade, then look for items of interest, which I can then click to open.
Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria Inc: This organisation has been diligently collecting materials and information about Victoria’s institutes for decades and has led me to books, newsletters, helpful people, SA information, and even a conference.
State Library of SA: The catalogue has books about towns that include information on Institutes, to photographs of Institute buildings with information attached, and the South Australian Institutes Journal. I view the photos at home; and read the others in the library.
I am careful to check and record the information with each photo.
Local Library: Libraries SA Onecard catalogue online has turned up many histories of SA towns which I reserve online. Sometimes I can only read a selected book at a particular library, but at least I know which to go for it.
State Records SA online has led me to records of all SA’s early Institutes as well as an index to the Institutes reported on in the Institute Association’s journal from 1900. To read the journals I need to reserve them online and read them at the Gepps Cross Research Centre.
Historical Societies and Councils: I Google the name of a town to locate a contact. My emailed questions have always received a reply – promptly and generously. Of course I explain my interest and don’t ask for too much.
Monument Australia: monumentaustralia.org.au Currently it has 34,124 monuments recorded, with photos and information about Memorial Halls, which were often Institutes.
Wikipedia: for the location and brief descriptions of particular towns and suburbs.
flickr: a site with photographer contributions. I Google eg, ‘Glossop Institute photo’ and up comes a stream of flickr photos to search through. Some flickr photographers specialise in old SA buildings, and I now receive by email new photos from selected photographers.
Google Earth: Download the free app, type in an address, then manoeuvre the arrows to locate, then to get a good view of the building. You can then take a screen photo of a by holding (Mac) Command with Shift then tap 4 or (Windows) Windows key + Shift + S. You then shape the frame around the building by pulling the shape. Lift your right finger and the photo will appear on your screen. Take care to name and file it.
Sands and McDougall online for addresses of SA homes and businesses, 1864–1899 and 1900–1973. Access through the State Library’s online resources: guides.slsa.sa.gov.au then select ‘Postal directories and almanacs’. Searching the directories takes time but can turn up some gems.
Local Government Association SA: lga.sa.gov.au SA Councils listed alphabetically by Susan Marsden can sort out the many Council boundary changes up to 1936.
Flinders Ranges Research:
I came across this site by Googling ‘Georgetown History’. Similar requests will often bring up length historical research of towns and buildings. Link
Exploring computer programs: Google your interest, eg, ‘Free websites’ and you’ll find many options. Explore these with your needs in mind eg, Includes footnotes, 440 entries. You need patience, so that’s a job for Ken, my husband.
John Travers: John is an invaluable and patient resource for Adelaide U3A members and has a passion for communication technologies.
I am sure there’s much more for me to discover and to learn. Do remember to thoroughly record your sources – finding them again can be such a time waster.