Newsletter No 96

January 2015



From the Editors Desk
I hope Christmas was good to you and give you all best wishes for the New Year.
So far the winter has not been too bad for us, but I gather things may not stay that way. However, bulbs are poking their heads above the soil and the primulas are in flower giving a hint of things to come. I love primroses and primulas. They take so much abuse from wind and weather but come up smiling and they are so colourful. I have a soap box theory that we do not have enough colour in our lives, so these hardy little flowers give me a real boost.
We continue to have really good meetings with John Pitmans’ very colourful talk on Pantomime Dames and then the Christmas party, which was ably managed by Pat and Andy.
Peter took Photographs of the even but unfortunately for some reason I cannot reproduce them here. I will do my best to get them in the next issue.
It’s a funny thing, but my computer bobs along merrily until I come to do the Newsletter and then it gets a bee in its bonnet and won’t do what I ask.
Having had a major family problem to help with this week, to say nothing of a puncture and an eye problem, there has not been time for me to get this sorted, however…..

We are still short of groups and leaders, just the old faithfuls keep running.
I plan to start an ‘Health Group’ shortly with speakers to tell us about all the help we can have access to such as Age UK and various other help groups. Unfortunately this is on hold at the moment but should be happening within the next few months. Any ideas will be welcome.
Zelah Bysouth 01722 330307     zjbb@btinternet.com

New Member
This month we are pleased to welcome Mrs Elizabeth Robertson

The Family History Group in action                                    L Hankinson

How one may travel affordably in comfort.
by Christopher Browne.

It is so refreshing to mind and spirit - isn’t it? - to get away to some new place and see it for oneself, especially if it is somewhere that you are always glimpsing on the telly or in weekend supplements. But our bank balance can’t always afford much, and then the arranging and the travel itself can be quite demanding, can’t they? So let me tell you about a recent little trip to France, because it may suggest what a group in U3A might be able to do, for the benefit of quite a number of members.

A generous, sociable and well-to-do friend in Sussex decided to set up a coach party of about 15 friends and family to go to Paris for four days. We were very fortunate, obviously, to have this provided and organized for us, but what I want to point out is the advantage of being a large group.

Firstly there was a roomy and comfortable coach with an experienced driver hired for the four days. This meant that one’s luggage was no problem, route-finding and customs clearance no problem, drink-driving no problem. If you were content with the itinerary and happy with the other travellers it was just a carefree time full of precious experiences.

Another thing about the coach: because it was of the type where the engine and luggage are underneath, the passenger deck was high up and gave the opportunity for fine views all along the route. The best was driving an unhurried circuit of the great boulevards of Paris so that one could really appreciate the elegance of the architectural style and the magnificence of the layout of the city. The difference from driving oneself (terrifying in Paris!) or the slog of walking those endless pavements – well, gliding along above the roofs of the frenzied cars and just looking about, that was quite another kind of experience.

So we set off from Littlehampton punctually at 9am, with a comfort stop on the motorway, to arrive for a midday ferry Dover to Calais and reached Paris in the afternoon to settle in, socialize and dine. The hotel, a Holiday Inn, provided all one’s wants, and its rather impersonal character did not make one lonely since we were there in a social group. It was located at Bougival, on the bank of the Seine in what was a favourite location of impressionist painters. The fact of being some miles outside the city was no disadvantage because the coach took us to various places, and the driver parked it till we were ready to move on.

Among the places we were taken to in this way were, the Rodin Museum, a boat trip through the city on the river, Versailles to walk in the Palace gardens and visit the famous Markets, and an excursion to Monet’s house and garden at Giverny, stopping also in the interesting nearby town of Vernon. All these visits were pre-booked at party rates, which is a great advantage provided that the participants are agreeable to programmed arrangements and a capable organizer fixes them up. The point therefore is, that if someone with organizing ability (not me, I am not methodical enough) wished to lead a group large enough to operate in this manner, it may provide a wonderful new U3A opportunity for travel. Just think: Paris, Bayeux, Chartres, Brussels, maybe Amsterdam, Cologne! 
Christopher Browne.

January Sudoku

by Peter Read

The group philosophy is Be Curious but Be Careful.
This group is not the normal type. There is no structure as such. Each session has no preconceived plan. I just jot down a few ideas some garnered from members emailed suggestions. In Onward  the members are expected to suggest topics to discuss. The session then proceeds wherever members ideas take us. No holds are barred.
What are these topics?
Well we started from a Photographic angle but we have strayed far and wide since then.
Ideas pursued have been 

  • The security of our computers -  this led to some of us joining in a couple of the excellent Future Learn courses and Steve Gibson's Shield's Up [https://www.grc.com/shieldsup] on line program to test the computers vulnerability. Everyone should use this safe program to see if your computer could be hacked into or not. Well worthwhile.
    We found Password strength programs on the Future Learn course https://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/password_check/index.html and another http://password-checker.online-domain-tools.com.
    Try using salisbury as a test password. Then add a space between each letter and see the difference this simple change makes.
  • We looked at web browsers that will mean you are no longer tracked. Ixquick and Startpage are two you can run from your existing browser on line for instance. Tor is better and is the gateway to the Dark Web.
  • Video control is another topic and one member has been testing a superb program called Lightworks [review here].
  • High speed flash synchronisation turned out to be possible even for a compact camera.
  • 4K cameras and TVs were discovered making HD TVs out of date. This could be obsolete even before it becomes popular by 8K.  4K Ultra HD TVs are up to four times the resolution of Full HD TVs whilst 8K is 16 times that of standard HD TVs.
  • Napier's Bones were discussed and one member Terry Waldron even made a set of them. See them at the next Sci-Tech talk on 26th January and hear about Electric Cars.
  • We looked at methods of enlarging digital images using programs such as Perfect Resize and we concluded that it is not worth using special software. The built in standards in Elements are just fine.
  • 10 Second videos is an idea for which there are hundreds of examples on the Internet.These though are kitsch and tacky. In ten seconds it is quite hard to make an artistic version with a story line. Brian Hills will do his best however!
  • We will look in depth at 3D printing later as well as Semantic Web Browsers [these Tools that usually work without the necessity of a local browser, they retrieve the data on the Web directly].
As you can tell we cover a huge range of technical ideas that are accessible from the Internet and not necessarily the World Wide Web.

There is still room for more members to join in. So if you want to keep your grey matter working then just ask me. The Timetable is seen on http://www.salisburyu3a.org.uk/SPIRE/SpireDIPhotoTimetable.html.
It would be great to see you at Onward.


Solution to January 15 Sudoku

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