Monday, October 20, 2014

Scuba Diving in the Bahamas

Ahhhh ... vacation! I know ... looking at our pictures, it appears that we are always on vacation. But, having a web-based business it feels like we are always working! One place I know we can't work is when we're underwater! So that's how we take our vacations. We try to take at least one dive vacation each year. This year we went to San Salvador in the Bahamas. A resort I've known about for a long time thru my USA Dive Club. They've led trips to Riding Rock resort on San Sal many times over the years, and we've never gone. This time we hooked up with a New Jersey dive shop and Jim's old friend Jimmy Lyon.



The diving was SOO nice! 84 degree water. Sheer wall dropoffs, and lots of swimthrus, tunnels, and canyons. We had several shark following us around on every dive. Beautiful Caribbean Reef sharks. There were also some very friendly grouper - I could even pet them.

Jim took video with his GoPro camera on every dive. Here's one 3.5 minute video that he edited down just for you!

http://youtu.be/wwvQKoR3K-8

When we weren't diving, we were relaxing on the beach or on the veranda off the bar. Great sunsets every night. I finished one book and started another!


Lots more pictures in our October Album.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Thousand Trails, Verde Valley

With nothing on our calendar for a week or so, this seemed like a good time to stay at one of our membership parks with Thousand Trails. Verde Valley in Cottonwood, AZ is one of our favorites.
Beautiful desert walks, and a very nice hot tub.


A big problem though, is that the Verizon signal is not very strong here. We can get on enough to do emails, but it's too slow to get videos uploaded or any real web work done. And, we certainly can't do our broadcast "What Does this Button Do?" from here. So, we rescheduled it for the following Wednesday when we would be in Fort Lauderdale. We did take some time to record a video 'trailer' though. (http://youtu.be/tQxrrMJlVRY)


There was enough connection to check in with RVillage however.  To our surprise, we saw that Margo Armstrong was in the park. We met Margo in this very same park several years ago (Oct 2007), and we've loosely kept in touch. She even did an article on us in her blog, "Moving on with Margo." You can read it here: Geeks On Tour Made a Stop Here.

Thru RVillage, we were able to schedule a Get Together for any RVillagers in the park. This way we got to visit with Margo as well as meet some new friends, Scott and Jackie Cundiff.  Turns out they're geeks too! They have at least as many tech toys as we do! It was fun to chat! Click the link on their names to see their blog.

Next on our calendar is a visit to Florida and scuba trip to the Bahamas, so we arranged to store the RV here at Verde Valley and fly out of Phoenix. This is the first time we've both been away from our motorhome except for when it's been in for service. Felt pretty weird cleaning out the refrig and leaving everything with no power for nearly 2 months.
Then we drove the car to Phoenix and stayed at the Hospitality Suites overnight, ready to fly out of Sky Harbor the next day. The Hospitality Suites has a GREAT deal called Park and Fly where they let you leave the car in their parking lot for the whole time you're gone! They provide a shuttle to and from the airport. There's even free happy hour and free breakfast.  We heard about this from our friends Don and Kim Greene of Harvest Hosts. They live in Prescott and fly to worldwide destinations all the time. What a find! Thanks Kim and Don for telling us about this.


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Thursday, October 02, 2014

Hot Springs!

Other than scuba diving, soaking in a hot tub is probably our favorite thing! We seek out Hot Springs, but we haven't found more than a handful along our route and with RV parking nearby. One of those is in Tonopah, Arizona and it's called El Dorado Hot Springs. Desert Funky - is how I'd describe it. This is the third time we've been here in our travels and it's only gotten better. We had a 50Amp RV site, we were the only RV there. And, they've added new, private, tubs since we were there last.



In the evening, we used the Sunset Tub - and true to its name, we were able to watch the desert sunset while soaking.  Ahhhhhh




The following morning, we chose the Desert View tub. Can you tell why it's called that?





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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Palm Springs and our Online Show

After saying goodbye to Ron and Ruth in Southern California, we set our sites east. Our plan is to stay in Arizona this winter after first flying to Florida for a visit. These windmills are right along I-10 before getting to Palm Springs.

There's a Thousand Trails park in Palm Springs (actually Palm Desert) so that was our plan for a couple of days. That puts us in the park for our Sunday Internet show: What Does This Button Do? we figured the odds were good that we'd have sufficient Verizon bandwidth there. We are starting to plan our lives around having good Internet connection on Sundays!


Here's our site at the Thousand Trails Palm Springs park. It used to be a date farm, can you tell?

And, sure enough, the Verizon signal was good, and fast - so we were able to do a decent job with our show. Doing a LIVE show is stressful, so why do we do it? We already record tutorial videos on our website, and that's how we make our living - people pay for a membership so they can watch all the videos. So, why do we schedule these live sessions of tutorial videos when the quality will never be as good, and we get all stressed out about it? Well, three main reasons:

  1. Because we like to use new technology ourselves, and the appeal of using Google+ Hangouts on Air to deliver a worldwide broadcast that automatically is recorded as a Youtube video, is just irresistible to us. 
  2. Because scheduling a live show will make us do it! I sometimes go a couple months without making a new tutorial video when I have no deadlines! By then, we're way behind! This way, we force ourselves to learn about smartphones and tablets in depth enough to teach, and we keep up. Yeah right! Like that's even possible!
  3. Because we think it is a valuable resource for lots of people out there with smartphones and tablets. Just watching a weekly half hour show will teach them basics that they won't get anywhere else, and give them ideas of uses for their devices that they may not think about on their own. 

Here's the episode that we did while at Palm Springs: What Does This Button Do? #14 Our Beginner's lesson for this time was about doing your Updates on both Apple and Android devices. Apple iOS 8 had just been released. This was the first episode where we asked a guest to join us and talk about their favorite App. Robin Seaver from the Computer Club at Sun City Hilton Head did a great job. This may be the first episode where we started to relax and have some fun. That's what it's really about.

Pretty amazing that we can do this from an RV?!  Here's what Jim's "studio" looks like at the end of a show:

Ah ... and you might notice the wine glass at the left of the photo. There's champagne in that glass! Finishing a live show always makes us feel like celebrating! Even the ones where things went wrong ... then we celebrate that we survived and still want to do another!

Here's my "studio."

The hardest part is projecting the smartphones and tablets. We've used different techniques, here I'm using a "Document Camera"  see the iPad sitting on the table? and the projection of the iPad on my big monitor? The good part is that what the document camera sees is shown on my computer screen, so using Hangouts ability to share my screen works great for the show. The bad part is that it's hard to keep the smartphone or tablet in focus with the Document camera. It's very touch with lighting, and every time you change screens, the lighting is different. It's also just slow to focus - so moving my hand ends up looking blurry.
Other times we've used a third tablet (my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1) as if it were another guest in the hangout - then we turn the camera to the rear-facing lens and put the device to be demonstrated within it's sight. I think this focuses faster, but it is so awkward to hold everything in place and work the demo.  I'm now thinking that a different stand for the tablet/camera might be good. I see one by Belkin that looks interesting. I don't even want to add up how much money (100s) we've spent on different devices trying to come up with the best presentation possible. We'll keep working on it!!
For anyone interested in learning more about how to work with Google+ Hangouts on Air, we learn thru belonging to a Hangout Mastery group.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Jim’s turn to visit friends

Heading south from the Central Coast, Jim arranged to meet up with old high school friends in Carpinteria (by Santa Barbara), Los Angeles, and Carlsbad (by San Diego.) Gee, you’d think he went to high school in California! Nope – South New Jersey.
We found an Elks lodge in Santa Barbara to stay a couple nights. We drove down to Carpinteria early enough to make a stop at the beach before heading over to Bill and Mary’s house for dinner. What a beautiful beach! And, there is a State Park / RV park right on the beach. The website said maximum length was 35 feet, so we didn’t even think of staying there (we're 37), but we had to take a drive thru.  This is what a $70/night site looks like:


Here’s the main street of Carpinteria at the beach. Iconic California! and on a beautiful evening!


Then we took a walk on the beach.



This is one Panorama picture where I ran around behind Jim to his left, as he was panning left to right. Fun! I got the idea from this video: http://youtu.be/fTz4Nhgm_SQ


Then we had a delightful dinner with Bill Crowley (Jim’s high school buddy) and his wife Mary. He left New Jersey immediately after high school, found this area and has been here ever since. They both obviously love the area.



I was interested to learn that one of the biggest employers in Carpinteria is Lynda.com. I love Lynda.com. That website was the inspiration for our Geeks on Tour Tutorial Video/Membership website. I actually sent in an application to be one of their teachers once … never heard back. I kinda like how things turned out!

We headed south again, destination Carlsbad – near San Diego. It was just a minor detour to go thru San Dimas and see another high school friend of Jim’s – Halsey Bonnell. We could only stay a couple hours, but I was glad to meet this friendly, joyful guy! We might get to visit him again because he's just around the block from the Pomona fairgrounds where the FMCA rally will be next March.



Carlsbad is the home of Ron and Ruth Kennedy. Ron helped organize the last high school reunion back in Jersey and we attended. We also visited their home in 2007 – I know because I can look it up in this blog!  

Ruth is a very accomplished artist and we so enjoyed getting the “Art Tour” of their home!

I love this one where she makes the light emanate from the flower.

We went out to dinner one night, grilled outside another, and took advantage of their hot tub for a nice soak. All along we chatted, reminisced, and planned. It's so good to spend time with friends at their home and really get connected. We even got to meet their son and grandson. Here's a picture of their grandson, actually it's two pictures of him - one directly from the camera and another of the painting that Ruth did of him.