Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Success in the ASCCA competitions

Nadia, Florence and Josie attending for the first time

Today, 15 members attended Day One of the ASCCA conference at the Rydges World Square (Pitt Street, Sydney). Great speakers, interesting workshops, followed by the ASCCA Annual General Meeting. The AGM is always accompanied by the Club Competition results, and once again, our club featured in the results.

Judy receiving her 1st prize from the Microsoft judge

In fact, Judy Joyce excelled herself. She is this year's Grand Champion in the Photo Story section of the competition. She received a third prize for Marley and Me (about her dog) and a first prize for Rivers & Resilience, in the family history section.

Judy also received a prize in the Creative writing competition.
Parrapals also featured in the website and newsletter sections of the competition. As webmaster and newsletter editor, yours truly received a third prize in the newsletter competition and a second prize for our website.  Here I am below accepting one of the awards.
Margaret receiving a certificate for 3rd place from the Dept of Human Services representative

What a thrill this was for Judy, and all of us!

And earlier in the day, Helen was lucky enough to win a digital camera which had been brought over from Japan by our international guest.
Helen Nagiel being presented with a digital camera

And we haven't even mentioned the presentations - or the food.  The conference has once again been very well organised by Nan Bosler and the ASCCA directors, and by the staff who include Deborah Martin, who is working at ASCCA part time for a few months.  A wonderful show all round.

Peter and John at the conference

Michael, Margaret & John waiting for the opening session

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011 AGM - a changing of the guard

Bev checking Honor's financial status
 The Club's 2010-11 Annual General Meeting was held last Friday, 21st October and 45 financial members turned up.  There were many more apologies than usual, including that of our treasurer Hazel Labka who is currently recovering from an operation, and other usual attendees who are engaged in heavy caring responsibilities or are on holidays.
But nevertheless, many of our members turned up to help out, as you can see here.
Margaret, Judy and John presented reports
A number of members of the committee changed responsibilities this year.  I decided not to stand as secretary, having been in the position for over four years - since the club was established in January 2007.
Deborah Martin, formerly our vice president stood for secretary instead.  Judy Joyce was nominated for vice president, freeing up another "ordinary" member position on the committee.  This vacancy will be filled by secondment at the next meeting of the management committee.
Michael Myers and I were nominated for ordinary member positions.
Thanks go to David Moutou from Council for kindly agreeing to act as our returning officer.
John Moxon and Hazel Labka, president and treasurer respectively are not due for election until the 2012 AGM.
John, Jan and Jon trying out the document camera
Unfortunately both our original guest speaker, Michaela Aguilar from ParraConnect and her replacement Andrew Downing from Tapestry were unavailable (with good reasons!), so president John came to the rescue demonstrating an interesting piece of equipment - a document camera. He used Jan Brandon's iPad usage as an example.  The document camera can be used in conjunction with a data projector, showing either still photos or recorded movies.  It also records sound.  It would be a really useful training tool, once the user gets the hang of it.
Over a four year period, this is the first time we've had to fill in at the last moment due to a cancelled guest speaker, so I guess we can consider ourselves lucky - that's nearly 50 monthly meetings!
Marg G and Nadia
It was good to see Margaret Green - a former member of our management committee - back from her overseas trip.  Margaret is one of our members who works hard to make all our members feel welcome.
Morning tea means washing up too!
After John formally closed the AGM, members enjoyed a great morning tea, provided by Margaret, Lyndell, Kate and other members.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Retirement village residents hear about ParraPals

Residents listening to Margaret
This morning John and I had an opportunity to talk to residents at our retirement village - Constitution Hill - about our computer club.

About 30 people showed up, including some of our friendly neighbours, and about 7-8 residents who are already members of ParraPals.  Some other participants are, or have been members of computer clubs at Blacktown, The Hills or Holroyd.
I suppose the residents were looking at me!

John commenced with a potted history of our club, including the help given by other clubs to get us established in 2007; and talked about how our courses and other activities operate.
I then spoke to the Family History slide show that Deborah had prepared, and handed out material on our courses, the club brochure and the family history hand out.

John then demonstrated Picasa, which is taught at the club in the Managing Digital Photography course and is so useful for scrapbooking, writing life stories or family histories as well as blogs like this!

He was able to straight, crop and correct the colour balance on some photos he took during my presentation.
This photo of the Centre was enhanced with Picasa

Participants appeared to enjoy the demonstration, and some may even join the club.  One lady has an Apple Mac and is coming to our Apple Mac Special Interest Group on Friday.

After the presentation we enjoyed morning tea together.

Thanks especially to Keith South - the Resident Committee Secretary - for arranging the room booking and setting up the chairs with some help from Ken Miles; and to Elaine Muddle, Val Craig, Shirley Edwards and Nancy Harris for their hard work in the kitchen.  These residents are all enthusiastic members of ParraPals.
An example of our wonderful gardens at Constitution Hill
And didn't we have a great day for it - as you can see from our photos above and to the right.

Spring has indeed sprung.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Participating in ABC TV's Q & A

Where is John Lee?
Last night, 11 ParraPals, not afraid of the dark or a late night out, shared a bus with a dozen or so students and teachers from Parramatta Marist High School, for a trip to the ABC's Ultimo studios.  We were on our way to participate in Q & A with Tony Jones.
The topics for last night's show were politics and religion, and the guests were Raymond Gaita, author and philopher; Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby; Kristina Keneally, former NSW Premier and active Catholic; Gerard Henderson, conservative commentator; and Cristina Rad, an athiest blogger.
Guests were asked to email questions before hand for selection to put to the panel.  Only 10 questions were selected, and president John Moxon was lucky (or smart) enough to be selected to ask one.  The questions ranged from the cynical (or cheeky) to the serious, and covered belief; charity and religion; the current responses to asylum seekers and more.

John being checked in by security.
John introduced the topic of euthanasia thus:
There is more to this debate than "I want to decide how and when I die" versus "God should determine when we die", so as a person whose level of disability is often used as a supposedly legitimate and understandable reason to allow someone to be euthanased, I just wonder when we will see a truly comprehensive debate about euthanasia - one that includes a genuine opportunity for people who live quite productively with serious disability to speak out against euthanasia."
On our way to the studios
Ruth, Shirley, Val and Barbara after the show
 Tony Jones appeared to like this question - and indeed told John so afterwards - because he allowed John three opportunities to speak.  Raymond Gaita picked up best on John's arguments - the slippery slope of decision making - and Kristina Keneally, having been a one time Minister for Disability Services and Ageing - was also well aware of the complexities of the issue.  John's argument boiled down to "how do we know how we'll actually feel about ending our lives when something life changing like quadriplegia or dementia actually happens?"  This raises many questions about the use of advanced care directives.
The bus trip home was a great deal noisier than on the journey in.  It certainly was a stimulating evening and it was great to share it with our good friends from ParraPals.
A happy group of young men - all up the back of the bus of course
The young year 11 fellows from Marist High School were very friendly, as you can see from the photo, and many congratulated John on his "performance.  They had been very interested to hear Raymond Gaita's views, since they are studying his books at school.

You will find some more photos below.  You can tell that Margaret was very pleased that John had such a good opportunity to get his point across.  One of our Facebook friends said that he'd never heard Tony Jones going back to a questioner three times.

Back home, it seemed that many of our friends and colleagues had seen the show, and were very pleased with with it.  As one friend said, it was a much better opportunity for a more in depth discussion than Channel 10's Can of Worms, on which John had an opportunity to appear a couple of weeks ago - he wished he hadn't!

Where's Jim?

A bit tricky getting out - but good one ABC, making sure the bus was accessible
A fun night out for Marg & John

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Quantum Reading Learning Vision comes to ParraPals

Despite the miserable weather, about 55 members came along to our August monthly meeting.  Our guest speaker was Tim Connell at Quantum RLV, which sells and distributes equipment and software to make life easier for people with vision impairment.
Quantum RLV has been around for 25 years - it
Dolphin Easy Text software
used to be at Rydalmere and known as Quantum Technology but is now based at Thornleigh.
Tim demonstrated a range of products - optical magnifiers; hand held electronic magnifiers; text to speech equipment; and specialised software such as Dolphin EasyText.

Tim surrounded by members
When John announced morning tea, Tim was rushed by members wanting to look at the equipment and ask him questions.
But morning tea was worth waiting for too.  In the absence of Hazel G. and her sister Beryl, Lyndell managed the morning tea, with plenty of willing helpers.
John Moxon presenting Bev Pieremonth with a ParraPals mug.
The volunteer of the month was Bev Pieremont, one of our many willing buddies, catering assistant and office worker.  Congratulations Bev.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Jim and Rosa are now computer savvy

Husband and wife members Jim and Rosa recently joined our ComputerPals club to learn together how to use computers.

Now, after undergoing a five week course Beginners 1 Windows 7, both Rosa and Jim are much more confident and competent in the basics of understanding and using computers.

Although they presently share a home computer, I suspect it wont be long before they each have their own computer!

Following completion of their first course, Jim and Rosa  attended our ComputerPals club meeting yesterday, and sampled the very social atmosphere and spirit of our club meetings, held monthly every third Friday.

Welcome to Parramatta ComputerPals and the world of computing Jim and Rosa!!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Using Family Tree Maker Course

I have been a user of the Family Tree Maker Genealogical programe for some years, and when Trainer Deborah announced a short course featuring FTM I decided to enrol . I have attended other family history courses run by Deborah and was impressed by her knowledge and professional presentations.

So, this morning I drove to my cousin and club members Ron Taylor's nearby home and picked him up. Ron is also a reguler user of FTM. On arrival at our ComputerPals club training rooms, we found that we were amongst 9 members attending that course, but we all squeezed together in the training room. We were too many for the six computers, but Deborah told us that would be ok, as she had brought her laptop along, and her course would be presented by way of the screen, using her laptop containing her personal family history.

Deborah's short course, over two hours, covered how to -

  • identify the benefits of using genealogical software
  • enter data into Family Tree Maker and also, importantly, to record sources
  • create reports from FTM
  • use FTM to plan and follow up our research
  • connect to to match people on our family tree to Ancestry records
  • export our family tree to a GEDCOM file and upload it to Ancestry.
Deborah's knowledge of FTM was excellent and she imparted her knowledge to us in a clear manner. Although I regularly use FTM I learned a number of things that made my attendance at the course worthwhile. Short courses of two hours on one day are ideal for family historians.

I  recommend members watch for future family history courses to be run by Deborah, and get on the waiting lists early.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Apple Mac enthusiasts joining up

About a month ago, we bravely held an Apple Mac information day at ParraPals.  We already had three MAC enthusiasts amongst our membership, and we knew there had to be more out there.  So we sent a community notice to the Parramatta Advertiser, inserted a snippet in ASCCA's newsletter, and asked our members to spread the word.

About a dozen people turned up, and this resulted in a Special Interest Group being formed.  The first meeting was held yesterday.  Just about everyone from the information session turned up, plus more.

Three or four participants were experienced MAC users, five were inexperienced users, and another three were PC users who were "just interested".  This was a good balance since the experienced members were able to answer questions and demonstrate programs.  One member was just about to travel to the UK for a family reunion, and so we asked her to tell us what applications she intended to use whilst travelling.  Judy showed her Picasa, and also demonstrated iPhoto.

Hopefully the group will become better known and will grow large enough for us to run more courses - we only have one short course at the moment.  And then we'll need to worry about space!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Members visit Hyde Park Barracks

Hyde Park Barracks
Our Genealogy and Digital Photography Special Interest Groups decided to join forces for a field trip last Friday.  We set off by train from Parramatta to visit the historic Hyde Park Barracks.  Twenty four of us turned up for the guided tour at 1pm, after most of us had lunch, either take away, home made sandwiches or dining in style at Hyde Park.
Our guide Margot was very friendly and enthusiastic, and showed us the many different layers of building over the nearly 200 year life of the building.
Governor Macquarie commissioned convict architect Francis Greenway to build many of the colonial structures that remain today in Sydney.

The Hyde Park barracks was built to house the many convicts working on government projects - roads, buildings, brickworks and other infrastructure in old Sydney Town.  Prior to its opening in 1818, most convicts slept rough, and it was considered better to house them in the Barracks so that they could be better supervised.
On the top floor, we were able to see how the convicts slept.  It would not have been very comfortable.

Stonemasonry tools from Colonial Sydney
There is a very good exhibition showing at the moment, with lots of artifacts from the convict days, including tools, kitchen items and even rat remains!

The painting to the right shows Parramatta in its early days.  Parramatta of course was the second settlement in New South Wales, where the soil was so much better than at Sydney Cove.  It was a thriving settlement from its very beginning.

Thanks Deborah for organising this day out - we had a great time, and the only costs apart from lunch were $5 admission and $2.50 for transport.  What a deal!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Woe is us! Winter

How could this be?  Tomorrow, we will be missing at least four of our management committee - and maybe a fifth - at our May members' meeting.  Deborah and Peter are on holidays interstate; John is in bed sick; Hazel (No 2) has to take Deb to hospital; and Judy has come down with a chest infection.

Nevertheless, we'll survive.  Committee members Marg G, Michael and Marg T will be there, and we've rung around to find other members to help us out with setting up the equipment, welcoming new members, taking fees, helping Hazel No 1 with the catering.

Tomorrow we will be using two brand new urns - 5Litre urns for easy handling.  Thanks Margaret Green for researching the best deal for us.

By the time you leave tomorrow, members should know much more about our club website, and how to find information on it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Haven't we grown? Likely to break our record of 205 financial members this year

Tomorrow we hold our third monthly meeting for the year.  Since late last year, we have been attracting well over 50 members to each meeting, so much so that we have asked Council if we can book a larger room next financial year.  We expect to see a number of new faces tomorrow too, since we have just organised our courses for Term 2 (April to June) and many people will be paying for courses to which they have committed.
I expect tomorrow we may break our record for the number of financial members - set in 2008-9 - of 205 members.  We currently have 197 financial members.
Windows 7 is now extremely popular, and many of our new members have purchased laptops, and so have many of our long term members.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gearing up for a new year at ParraPals

Well we had Christmas and New Year off, but straight afterwards, we began a publicity drive, getting pamphlets, flyers and timetables out to retirement villages, former members, libraries and shopping centres.  We had and are continuing to have a good response from that.  And the Parramatta Advertiser came to visit and brought a photographer with them, resulting in an article mid January.

In mid-January trainers and buddies volunteered for the working bee, which was also an opportunity for members and enquirers to book into courses.

We also realised that most of our trainers and buddies were unfamiliar with Windows 7, so Michael Myers volunteered to run a two hour session to bring us up to speed.  The consensus was that it isn't much different from Vista, so easy enough to follow.  Since we planned the meeting more than a handful of our trainers and buddies had acquired a new PC or laptop with Windows 7 anyway.  Jon Bayley also ran a two hour session on how to use the club digital camera.

Member turnout for our two functions in January was very pleasing - 30 at our Lunch at the Leagues on 17th; 55 at our Members' meeting and 4th birthday party on 21st January.

E-bay - Buying, and e-Bay selling - offered as separate short courses by Deborah Martin - have proved so popular that she has scheduled two more classes.  These are to be held on Monday afternoons 21st February (Buying) and 28th February (Selling), between 1.00-3.15pm.  Preference will be given to people on the waiting list.