Issue number one hundred and thirty-seven (May 2012) in a series of Signposts from the WorldU3A Service, sent once a month to U3A members anywhere in the world.

Please send snippets of possible interest to the editor, Tom Holloway.
Feel free to copy any or all of this information in your newsletters.

In 2012, BBC TWO will be broadcasting ‘The Great British Story: A People’s History’; a landmark 8-part series telling the story of Great Britain and Northern Ireland through the lives & experiences of real people, past and present. The series will be accompanied by public events giving people the opportunity to explore their own personal or local history over the course of the broadcast.

The series, presented by Michael Wood, is a people’s history of the last 1,600 years. It is a story that includes all of us, and glories in the detail while delivering a grand sweeping chronological narrative. Using the energy and interest of local people across the UK, and the resources of local archives, museums, societies and universities.

How can you get involved? BBC Learning is inviting you to run an activity or event, from 5 May to 31 July 2012, to link in with the series and to inspire people to discover more about the history of their local area. Activities that would tie in with the series include:
Analysing / Preserving historical artefacts, objects and documents
Discovering more about local place names, surnames and landscapes (city or rural)
Creating a history archive
Local history or heritage walks

Evolution: This View of Life is an online general interest magazine in which all of the content is from an evolutionary perspective. It includes content aggregated from the internet, following the example set by the Huffington Post, as well as new content generated by our staff of editors and contributing authors in eleven subject areas: biology, culture, health, arts, technology, religion, politics, mind, economy, environment, and education. (Thank you, Lesley Newson, U3A Talk Online).

Coursera ( offers high quality courses from the top universities, for free to everyone. We currently host courses from Princeton University, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and University of Pennsylvania. We are changing the face of education globally, and we invite you to join us.

Last year, a free online class on artificial intelligence ( attracted over 58,000 students from around the world. The class ran from October 10 to December 18, 2011. Students who successfully completed the course were given a statement of accomplishment. From high school learners to retired people, the age groups were widely varied. Though the enrolment for this course is closed for now, the course material can be accessed at

NFC - Near Field Communications - is coming and there are many possible uses, like London Transport's 'Oyster Card', but contactless cash payment by waving your mobile phone at an object is what's really hitting the headlines.

Barclays already uses debit cards with what it calls 'contactless technology' built in, in conjunction with Visa. While incorporating NFC in debit cards is one way to ensure wide distribution of the technology, it doesn't make the most of some of the other features it's capable of. When paying with a phone, you could not only pay, but receive plenty of information digitally in return.

This website aims to present an exhaustive, comprehensive and accurate list of all the handsets that are available around the world. This NFC phones list is a live document so you can check this page for the latest information.

Gardening Groups: Two things strike one when looking through the online document 'Britain in Bloom - Transforming Local Communities' from the Royal Horticultural Society. The first is the part it plays in reducing anti-social behaviour, and the other is the huge importance of retired and elderly people in forming these local groups.

Finalists for 2012 RHS Britain in Bloom have now been announced. See the shortlist of UK finalists for 2012 RHS Britain in Bloom ( 137kB pdf)

Travel Groups and Holiday Travellers: Still offering a fantastic service on a voluntary basis, the Man in Seat 61 will give you advice on travelling to or around any country in the world. Your editor can vouch for the accuracy of his information about Indian Railways.

Music Groups: This wonderful version of La Traviata from Glyndebourne is available on YOUTUBE.

The whole 2 hours of it can be downloaded free with 'Replay Media Catcher' and shown with laptop and projector.

Health: We have discovered that if you open up continuous health data to the network, people live longer. Mobile phones plus cheaply available sensors are creating ways to inexpensively and continuously monitor your health. An article with more information can be found here.

For example, Dr Leslie Saxon, executive director of the Center for Body Computing, talked about one device which she has studied at the Center. AliveCor ECG is an iPhone case with two electrodes that gives an ECG reading. The ECG can then be emailed or stored. “In one situation, I was able to diagnose acute cardiac ischemia in a Nigerian gentleman in Mumbai from my home in Los Angeles by reviewing a 30-second ECG collected on the iPhone".

Computer Groups: These TECHNICAL GEMS from U3A Online Rick Swindell's GEMS newsletter surely merit a wider audience. If you have diffiiculty with 'tinyurl' the originals are online at

Thanks Bob Rankin for the following 5 GEMs

* Google Drive: Stash Your Stuff in the Cloud

* Laptop Batteries: Replace or Revive?

* “Every time I open my browser, it goes to an unfamiliar search engine page…” Your Browser May Have Been Hijacked --

* “Several of my friends have complained that I am sending them spam emails…” Are You an Unwitting Spammer? --

* A Closer Look At Cookies - the good, the bad, and the crumbly aspects of web browser cookies

Thanks Data Doctors for the following 3 GEMs.

o How to add Bluetooth streaming to any speaker

o Hands On: Barnes & Noble Nook Simple Touch With GlowLight

o Google Maps has become a ubiquitous resource for most of us, but we tend to use it in a very limited way --

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