Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Palm Creek Sunset

By the end of this season, you're probably going to be sick of seeing photos of sunsets on this blog. Brilliant sunsets are the norm out here in the desert, and they are just such irresistable photo subjects. So ... here's your first one! Back at Palm Creek, with their signature *tall* palms wrapped in lights. Both Jim and I are pretty busy here. We gave our Picasa seminar on Monday, and Tuesday I got back to work on some website projects and he had service calls helping people in the park with connecting to the Internet. He also had a service call outside the park. One of our Datastorm installation customers. You would think it would be impossible to offer personal follow up service when he installed this satellite dish in Florida last January, and here we are in Arizona. But, since our customer travels too ... it's just as likely that they're nearby! After spending the past week at the Datastorm rally and watching the top company technicians struggle over difficult satellite issues, Jim was apprehensive when he left for this call. But he was smiling when he came back! Nothing makes him happier than fixing someone's computer/Internet problem. Later in the afternoon, our good friends Diane and Andy pulled into Casa Grande. Oh Boy! We would love for them to stay here, parked next door, but they had a coupon for a free stay at the 'Western Horizons' park about five miles away. That price is hard to beat, especially compared to $42/night here! So, we went and visited them. I'd say we spent time catching up with their travels .. but we didn't need to because Diane keeps a great blog! We already knew where they've been and what they've been doing, so we got to talk more in depth. You know ... talk about those *feelings* that don't belong on a public blog. Like Diane and I talked about how we feel about being on the road and trying to make a living. And Jim and Andy talked about how they *feel* about 'winter' vs. 'summer' beers! :-) They did come visit us the next night and get a tour of Palm Creek. Here are their smiling faces.
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Datastorm User's Rally is over

We really do love this group! First of all, it's such a great size. We had about 115 RVs here, mostly with 2 people. That's big enough to have plenty of new people to meet, but small enough that it's almost possible to know everybody. Secondly, the purpose of the rally is to learn. Learn about satellite technology and computer technology - our favorite thing to do! And, last, of course is that we get to present a lot of seminars - and to this group we can be a little more advanced than we are normally.

The slide show above comes from our Picasa Web Albums. Here's Jim giving his google earth seminar and he decided to show the new, included, flight simulator feature. He's using a joystick to fly a jet over Google Earth!

And, these aren't just a bunch of computer geeks, they're some really fun people. The sound of laughter was everywhere.

We attended the very first Datastorm rally in Tampa, Florida in 2003. At the time we didn't even have our dish - we were 'wannabees.' It didn't take us long after that though. We were so impressed with what we saw and learned at that first rally. I think the most impressive thing was the participation of the Motosat company. From that very beginning rally to now, the top brass of the company attend the rally. And, the top engineering and support folks as well. This is the place to be if you have *any* questions about Motosat or Datastorm.

Here's Royal Lamb (yes, that's really his name) - he is VP of Sales and Marketing and he's attended every Datastorm rally - all five. He's one of the 'suits'! Ever seen a 'suit' making a service call?

And, he knows how to have fun too!

The president, Jim Pendleton, has also attended all the Datastorm Users' rallies. He's the one on the left in this next photo.

They sure make me feel good about being associated with Motosat.

Next year, the rally will be the second week of November in Tampa. Sure hope we can work it into our schedule!

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Friday, October 26, 2007

A New Seminar

We've presented all of our seminars many times. Here at the Datastorm rally we taught "Every RVer needs a Blog", "Practice Safe Computing", "Managing Digital Photos with Picasa", and "Using Google Earth". We are very practiced at these - no preparation needed.

Yesterday we gave a new one, "Building a Website." As I said in my introduction, 'There are as many ways to build a website as there are people building them." So, it is a bit of a daunting task to cover the subject in an hour and a half! It actually came off fairly well, although I have plenty of ideas on how to improve it for next time. If you'd like to see the seminar handout, you can go to the Geeks on Tour "Articles" page. You'll find the Build a Website handout there (at the bottom)as well as all our other handouts. These are for your personal use only please!

I forgot to count, but I think we had at least 40 attendees - more than I expected.

I think my favorite part of the seminar is when I mention Search Engine Optimization. I indulge in a little back-patting by showing if you Google for "Datastorm Installation" our website, GeeksOnTour.com, comes up first in the list! Pretty cool. My purpose in showing that is to teach that you don't have to pay for ads or other slick tricks to get placement - I didn't. You *do* need good content. Of course, I am exceptionally lucky! And, it may change tomorrow - but, I have 40 witnesses who saw it today :-)

It was a gorgeous day in Tucson today. The wind has died down. We had a great day. Ending with a delicious meal! The rally organizers searched for a good caterer and found Porta-Pit. They told us the food would be good, and they weren't kidding!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Windy

I remember when we sat out hurricane Katrina in Fort Lauderdale. We stowed our dish then, not wanting it to blow away! This wind is not that bad! But, it is said to be gusting to 41mph.

I hate wind.

I think everybody does. It wreaks havoc with my allergies, I don't sleep well, and it just kind of keeps you on edge. whine, whine, whine.

I figured video would be a better way to capture wind than a photo, so here's just a little one.

video

Obviously, we're just fine. Our sympathies go out to those folks in Southern California fighting deadly fires in wind.

Today is a free day from Rally activities for me. Jim is attending seminars on Satellite related Transmit (TX) and Receive (RX) Codes. Sounds fascinating doesn't it? Yeah, me too.

I'm preparing for my new seminar tomorrow ... How to Build a Website. And, I'm making a few 'Geek' service calls.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Datastorm Users' Rally, Monday

The first night is a meet and greet, potluck. There are at least 70 rigs who have never attended one of these rallies before. It's great to get to meet new friends! Question: How do you get more Internet Satellite dishes than RVs? Because some rigs have more than one dish! There is actually one rig here with 3 Datastorm dishes! Two on the 5th wheel trailer and one on the truck that tows it! I'm including the picture above because that is the RV of our undisputed leader, the guru of all things Datastorm, Don Bradner. I've posted LOTS mor photos on a Picasa Web Album of the Rally. There's a Picasa Web album of the 2006 rally too.
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Datastorm Users' Rally, Tucson 2007

The Datastorm Users' rally started today. We're in Tucson at the Beaudry RV resort along with about 100 other RVs with the Datastorm Internet Satellite dish. This is the 4th such rally we've attended. It's such a unique group. One of the most remarkable things is simply seeing so many RVs with these special satellite dishes. It's special to see this sight during the day, but it's even more other-worldly at night because of the blue light that is the trademark of Motosat who makes these dishes. It's quite impossible to convey this sight. I've tried it with the camera, this time I'm trying with the video camera. It's not any better - but here it is:
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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Getting Busy

We had our first seminar here at Palm Creek on Monday. What a treat to have a room like this. We usually have to schlep our projector and screen wherever we go to do our presentations. This room has a huge screen that drops down from the ceiling with a push of a button! It also has a really bright, good projector mounted to the ceiling. All we have to do is plug our computer in and start 'seminaring'. And, this is the room we have reserved for two seminars each week - all winter long! To see the always-up-to-date schedule, just look at the bottom of our home page at www.geeksontour.com. Jim has also volunteered to manage the computer room. That sounds like a lot of work to me. It's a room with 12 computers all connected to the Internet available for guest use. That's like one of our classrooms at my old company, Computer Savvy, where Jim was the network administrator for over 100 computers in 7 different classrooms. I thought he *never* wanted to do that again! I think he just wants to have someplace to go so he can get away from me! Both of us have had a few service calls. Jim responds to guests' cries for help when they can't get connected to the Internet or something else doesn't work on their computer. I respond when they want to learn how to use their computer. I think my job is more fun!
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Monday, October 15, 2007

Our Arizona Yard

Decorative gravel must be big business here in Arizona. Most any place you see that is landscaped here does not use grass. They use rocks. Maybe not as soft and homey as grass, but it sure is clean. Here's our site at Palm Creek: The entire park of over 2,000 sites is covered with that gravel. And, notice how large the sites are. See our car? and see all the space in between our car and the next RV at the right of the picture? We've been in many RV parks that would consider that plenty of space for another RV! What I especially like though is how close they put us to the pool and spa. aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh, soak those aching muscles after a strenuous game of pickleball. Or take your cocktail over to the pool after a hard day of computer work.
Life is tough.
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Odie tries to Fly

Wow, I've only posted once this week. It's not that I haven't been writing at all. I worked for about two days on our newsletter, and I'm also working on an article for a magazine! Sometimes writing comes easy, sometimes it doesn't. If you don't subscribe to our newsletter, you just missed articles on 'How to Backup your Blog', 'Necessary maintenance on a New Computer', and Quick Tips on keyboard shortcuts for closing windows and filling out forms. Of course, you can remedy that situation by subscribing now! It's been a beautiful week here in Casa Grande. Blue skies and in the 80s during the day, 60s at night. Boring is good when it comes to weather! One thing I was a little worried about here at Palm Creek is Odie getting enough exercise. The last few parks we've stayed at had nearby trails up hills where we could take Odie off leash and let him run. Palm Creek is flat and very populated - meaning he needs to stay on leash all the time. So, we've been pleasantly surprised to find empty fields nearby and for an extra bonus, there's something that Odie likes to chase! Check out the video below.
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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Settling In

We are now at our 'base of operations' for the winter. Palm Creek Golf and RV in Casa Grande, Arizona - just south of Phoenix, halfway between Phoenix and Tucson.
We're going to be here thru March. If you're in the area, stop by and say hello! We're in site 1363. We've been in this park several times in the past, the last time in January 2006. It feels different this time and I think a lot has to do with being more seasoned RVers. We feel more at home now, and we're taking advantage of all the amenities. We've only been here 3 days and we've already played pickleball twice and used the pool and hot tub twice. There are 8 pickleball courts here!
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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Geocaching at Verde Valley

If you've never tried geocaching - check it out at Geocaching.com. All over the world there are caches of 'treasures' hidden for you to find. All you need is a handheld GPS and a desire to explore. Here at the Thousand Trails park at Verde Valley, they've come up with their own geocaching game. There are 10 caches hidden around the park. They are rocks. Yep, find a rock in a pile of rocks! Actually, they're pretty clearly marked with TTN on the top side. When you turn them over you see a number. Write down that number to prove that you found it. First, Jim entered all 10 GPS coordinates into Google Earth and printed out a map for us to follow: The best thing about geocaching is that it gets you to explore areas you wouldn't otherwise. Like this remote corner of the park with such a fabulous view. I wonder if all Thousand Trails are putting out geocaches? I think it's a great idea. And, the manager here was sure excited when we mentioned that we could cover 'how to geocache' in one of our computer seminars. He even says he can help us put together a tour of TT parks next summer for us to give our seminars. That would be just perfect!
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Jerome, Arizona

We did just a little bit of sightseeing yesterday. There's a lot to see in this area, we won't even scratch the surface. But, a couple people told us that the old mining town of Jerome is a must see. That's just a few miles away, so we did that when we went out to the grocery store yesterday. It's up at 5200 feet - quite a climb from here. Wide open spaces here! And scary roads. This morning we played pickleball. That's the third time since Jim got back. I seem to be developing a case of 'pickleball elbow' :-( Off to the hot tub for me!
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Monday, October 01, 2007

Oh Boy! My Internet is Back!


Oh yeah ... my husband is back too :-) How I love a man who gives me such good Internet! Bottom line - our 'Receive' modem had gone bad. It was old. It is our original modem that we got almost 4 years ago now. That's ancient history with this stuff! Most people in the business have never even seen a modem like ours. Luckily ... *very luckily* we had a spare thanx to Joline who upgraded to new equipment last year and gave us her old modems. THANK YOU JOLINE! Also luckily, we happen to have people parked right next to us who have lots of this similar equipment and who are very knowledgeable.

They're the folks from Maxwell Satellite. They were able to help Jim at a couple of crucial points. First of all, they have satellite dishes, so Jim was able to disconnect our system (the modems) from our satellite dish on the roof and hook it up to their satellite dish on a tripod. They tested their dish and knew it was locked on to the appropriate satellite. So, when our modems were attached to it, and we had the same problem (it would connect and work on the Internet for about a minute, then lose signal), we knew the problem was probably our modems. So, Jim found Joline's old modems and swapped them out. But, here's where it gets sticky. Our Internet Service Provider (not Motosat) communicates directly to the modems, so they need to know about the swap in order to 'commission' them. Jim called them and the person he spoke to said it could not be done. We'd have to open a whole new account, and it would have to wait till Monday. Margo, our neighbor from Maxwell Satellite, said she's swapped modems on their systems before and all you need to do is go thru a re-registration process, an online software thing. Jim did that and voila! Everything is working. I'm writing this blog entry at 4am ... couldn't do that last week! Is this Geek heaven or what? Time to celebrate! There's a winery right at the entrance to the park here, so off we went to do some tasting. And, we topped it off with a lobster dinner! What a great day.
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