Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

We got a new toy! I cashed in my points against an old credit card and redeemed it for a new Garmin Nuvi 255 GPS/Personal Travel Assistant. It's sooo cute! And, Jim already had fun downloading all sorts of extras - like waypoints for Geocaches, and different voices for the turn by turn directions.

Here's how geeks have fun on Halloween:

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Camera's Back

Like a long lost friend returning and giving me a big hug! I'm so happy to have my camera back. $130 to have it repaired, vs. 4-500 for a new camera body, seemed well worth it.

So, here's some photos from around the park. It's a *GORGEOUS* day. We woke up to 58 degrees! Clear and sunny. Life is good, money or no money!

From 200810
From 200810
From 200810
My good friend Chris, and I went to the Obama rally in Sunrise. We waited in line 2 hours, but it was worth it. Hard to believe I got this photo from the upper balcony of a 20,000 seat stadium! Did I tell you I'm glad to have my camera back?!
From Geeks on Tour blog 200810
From Geeks on Tour blog 200810

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Full Weekend

I don't take as many pictures when we're parked as when we're in travel mode. Besides, my camera is still being repaired ... it should be back this week.

But that doesn't mean there isn't plenty going on. Both Jim and I had appointments with long-time clients for computer work. Interestingly, they both had digital video on their minds. Computers and digital video has become a big thing and there is SOO much to know. In my appointment, we only use Picasa. I am so impressed with Picasa 3's new video capabilities. If you have one of those built-in webcams at the top of your computer screen, you can now use Picasa to record your video, save it to your computer, and it's one-click to upload it to Youtube!

On Sunday, I spent most of the day with my Mom. We watched the first couple hours of digital video that she took in her recent travels to Cyprus and Jordan. We just watched her raw footage from the camera tapes. The next task is to edit it. This is beyond Picasa. Picasa can manage short video clips. We use Adobe's Premier Elements to do the editing. That's going to take a while.

And, what was Jim doing on Sunday? Football! The Dolphins played at 'home.' Bill, the manager of this RV park, had an extra ticket and invited Jim to go watch the game live. What a treat. And, the Dolphins even won!

A good weekend all around.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Will somebody pay our health insurance?

Aw c'mon! You know you want to :-) Doesn't everyone want to throw $1,100 down a black hole every month? I don't want to be a hog, y'know. If someone else would like the thrill of writing a huge check every month for nothing ... I'd be happy to turn it over!

We are extremely healthy. The only thing that makes me sick is having to pay that health insurance bill! I've had health insurance all my adult years. I really needed it once - after a skiing accident in '89 when I had to have knee surgery - $40,000 worth - all covered! If I hadn't had that experience, I probably would feel OK about going without insurance. As it is, I just can't. I do have to find some alternative though.

I know I'm a crybaby. There are many others out there paying as much or more, and there are many who go without and may even be sick. We're healthy, we have no mortgage, no debt, and very marketable skills. We be fine.

Still ... health insurance cost sucks!

There ... I feel better now.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Wi-Fi, Florida, and New Zealand

We had a knock on our door this morning from a guest in the park, Kevin, who was having trouble connecting to the Wi-Fi. Jim wasn't here so I gave it a go. Sure enough, something was very wrong with his internal adapter. The indicator light was off. When I switched it on, the computer responded with the 'blue screen of death.' I tried several things and always got the same result. I gave up on his built-in Wi-Fi adapter, installed a USB adapter and got it to work.

Then Jim came home, I told him what I'd done and he said, "Let me take a look." He got the Blue Screen of Death too. But he has a deeper bag of tricks than I do. He proceeded to delete the adapter from the Device Manager, then let it reinstall itself and, voila! Everything worked just fine. A happy customer!

Then we got to chatting. Turns out Kevin and his wife are from New Zealand. They're traveling in the states by motorhome for 5-6 months and, so far, they don't think they like Florida very much. Oh no! Well, they were in Miami and got off at the wrong exit. They're already uncomfortable driving a 38 foot motorhome on the *wrong* side of the road and then, they find themselves in a traffic jam of crowds attending a Miami Dolphins football game! And, this was after having brake trouble in downtown Miami and having to get towed. What they were doing in downtown Miami I don't know! But I'm not surprised that they have a bad feeling about Florida so far. Kevin wants to go to the keys but his wife just wants out. I told them this is the best time to go to the Keys and you can get there by going *around* Miami using the Turnpike.

They both asked, "What's a Turnpike?" One of the best parts about traveling is meeting other travelers! I sure would like to travel around New Zealand by RV one of these days.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Scuba Diving!

What a gorgeous day! Jim had all our gear ready because he tried to go out diving last week but the weather didn't cooperate.

Today was different!

From Geeks on Tour blog 200810
And the water ... oooh the heavenly water. It was a *perfect* 82 degrees. Visibility was about 50 feet. AND ... Jim caught 6 lobsters! We'll have a good dinner tonight. And, my Uncle John joined us for today's dive too. See a past video of kayak diving.
From Geeks on Tour blog 200810
When I'm scuba diving, I imagine that my skin is just soaking up all those natural minerals from the ocean water. I also am in a meditation mode while diving. It's so beautiful, so relaxing. Just floating in that warm water - no talking is possible - my mind has free reign! So, what am I thinking about? All the things I want to do with our Geeks on Tour website! I'm working on putting every article I've ever written into a blog post (the WordPress blog.) That way, you can search for anything and a list of articles will appear. Or you can view all articles by category or keyword. Jim says he wants to do podcasts. And, I'm determined to finish a complete new series of Picasa tutorial videos on the new Picasa 3. And we need to learn more about how to market our membership site with all the video tutorials. I came home and started reading my email - opened Kim Komando's newsletter. It mentioned that her radio show today was going to talk about making money online. I generally stay away from any come-ons for making money online because there are so many scams, but, I trust her and wanted to hear what she had to say. I needed an AM radio. I couldn't find one. I sat in the car and listened for a little while, until I felt too stupid. Then I thought I'd check the web. Within 5 minutes, I was listening to a live radio broadcast of the Kim Komando show on my computer. Check out if you want to try it. You can look up any radio station in the country by call letters. Geeez I love the web. Oh ... and here's what Kim has to say about using the web to both save and make money. Aha ... it's dinnertime! Now, that's fresh lobster
From Geeks on Tour blog 200810

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Home Alone

One thing about life on the road is that Jim and I are together *all* the time. While we're here in Fort Lauderdale for a while, we get to remember what *normal* life is like. We actually have some time alone. What a treat! and I say that in the nicest way :-)

Jim works in the office here (his work camping job) 3 days a week. I generally stay home and work on computer stuff. I know it makes him happy to get away from me, and I enjoy my time alone. When you're together as much as we are, you can even hear each others' thoughts. Ahhh, the quiet is nice!

From Geeks on Tour blog 200810

This time alone is what is allowing me to get some new videos made. I'm also doing some really weird things, like singing in a chorus with an old friend. That means that Jim even gets some time alone at home at night when I go to rehearsal.

Transportation can be a problem. We have our toad (towed car) ... I couldn't live this lifestyle without it. But, although one car is fine when we're in travel mode, we run into a few problems here. Like when a friend called and said, 'Let's do lunch' and I said, 'Sure' Then I realized that Jim was off with the car. Ooops So far we seem to work it out. I just schedule appointments on Jim's work days. He has to fend for himself for his commute.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Google Map in Blogger Sidebar

I hope you've noticed the map at the right side of this blog. It is a live, interactive link to my custom map on google maps. It shows our route for the entire year of 2008. You can click on a placemark and see details, even a photo sometimes. Or, you can click on the link to 'View Larger Map', and it will take you to the full map on Google Maps.

My latest video ... still testing Camtasia ... is on how to put this map into the blogger sidebar. And, as long as I'm experimenting ... 'sharpening the saw' ... I embedded the video into my *other* blog called . I've had for quite a while, but have never decided exactly how to fit it in. It's a WordPress blog hosted by , whereas is hosted by I am a firm believer in not putting all my eggs in one basket! I use WiFiSavvy to learn more about WordPress, and to have a place to put more technology thoughts ... no travel/personal stuff.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it :-), is to visit Tutorial-video-google-map-in-blogger-gadgets and watch the video in both the .flv version (the first one) and the .swf version (the second one.) Leave me some comments if you see any difference. No, there is no pay for your services, but you do get the video for free! And my appreciation :-)

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Experiment with video hosting

There are now soooo many choices in how to produce, manage, and host videos. My head is spinning. I have decided to devote some time to exploring and experimenting. I may end up deciding the way I've done it on is still the best way. But, I have to know about these other hosts.

This video is an old one of our first few months on the road. We created it using Photo Story 3, so it is a .wmv file. I upoaded it to and used their procedure to embed it here. Please leave me some comments as to how this looks (and sounds) to you. I'm especially interested in feedback from Macintosh users. Since this is a windows media file, I expect that Mac users won't be able to see it at all. However, it is using a player from the web, rather than your computer's media player, so I could be wrong.

10/13/08: enough of you watched the video that we exceeded the free limit of bandwidth on screencast - so I have now linked to the free video host Viddler.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

World Travels

We took my Mom to the airport yesterday. This is my Mom on the left and Sue on the right.
This is her third big trip this year! The first was to the Kimberly area of Western Australia, the second to China and North Korea, and now she's off to Cyprus and Jordan. I just follow along with Google Earth!

I'm looking forward to seeing her video when she gets back, especially of Petra. Hopefully we'll get some of it edited so you can see it too. Hard to believe she's 77 years old, isn't it? I hope it's in the genes!
From Geeks on Tour blog 200810
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sharpen the Saw

With no rally or other seminars scheduled until November I figured this was a good time to 'Sharpen the Saw.' Both on our speaking skills and on our tutorial videos.

Both Jim and I attended Toastmaster's club for many years before we hit the road. It felt good to go back there this morning, and I gave a speech. I was happy to know I hadn't forgotten how to do it ... I got the best speaker award :-)

From Geeks on Tour blog 200810
As for the tutorial videos, I decided it was time to upgrade to the industry standard software for screencast videos ... Camtasia. I've been learning how to use it and I made my first Camtasia video for my blog post on today. The main thing I wanted was the ability to zoom in and out on specific parts of the screen. This allows me to keep the video file smaller, but still allow you to see the small pieces. I'm pretty happy with the result.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

New Computers

What's the deal? People keep giving Jim new computers ... cool! Then taking them back ... bummer! Actually, it's just that whenever Jim is around, it seems to make people want to buy new computers. When we were visiting Jimmy in New Jersey, he bought a new laptop. As soon as we hit town last week, Jim's sister called and said, "Will you help me buy a new computer?"

He becomes their 'personal shopper.' There's nothing he likes better than going to Best Buy, or CompUSA, Brandsmart, Circuit City, or Dell online, and comparing computers! And Debbie and Jimmy loved having someone to interpret all the specifications and tell them what they needed. Then, after the purchase, the computer is Jim's for a couple days. He gets to see what they're bundling with new computers these days ... and then he removes most of it. He does all the updates ... you'd be surprised that a new computer off the shelf is very out of date. He installs and configures, anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and makes their recovery disks.

Then I sat down with Debbie and made her fill out the pertinent pages from our new 'Computer Companion.' Like make, model, memory, hard-drive, Service tag ID, support phone number - and lots of other stuff. We came up with this 'Computer Companion' as a workbook for our Computer Boot Camp class ...but I'm thinking everyone should have one!

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Fort Lauderdale Sunrise Wreck

Our very own Mel Fisher in the family! Well, not quite. For one thing, my uncle John is investigating a shipwreck that wasn't carrying much in the way of treasure. And, for another, you are no longer allowed to touch anything off our shores that may have historical value, let alone dig it up and haul it out. It's still a pretty cool story. He discovered the wreck site when he was a kid diving these waters in the 50s. At that time it was 'finders - keepers,' and he did bring up several artifacts, including silver coins, an anchor, and a sextant. You can learn more on his blog (which I taught him how to do:-) And, here's a five minute video I put together from his talk at Bonnet House. I think my favorite part is hearing his estimate that he's spent roughly 13,000 hours underwater!

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Fort Lauderdale's Bonnet House

My uncle, John Noyes, gave a talk yesterday about The Sunrise Wreck. I knew that was going to be a treat and I'll tell you more about that in another post. The unexpected treat was visiting the Bonnet House, where his talk was held.

The Bonnet House is a little piece of history, 35 acres unchanged in the midst of modern Fort Lauderdale. Most locals know it as that stretch of beach where there are no hotels. You drive down A1A along the beach and comment, "I wonder why this particular stretch is natural vegetation? What's back there?"

I've been to the Bonnet House a few times during my many years living in Fort Lauderdale, but I've never taken the tour. After all, that's for tourists, right? Well, sometimes it's important to be a tourist in your own hometown! This place is gorgeous!

From Geeks on Tour blog 200810
From Geeks on Tour blog 200810
From Geeks on Tour blog 200810
Also known as the Bartlett Estate, the owners were both artists and art collectors. What fun taste they had!
From Geeks on Tour blog 200810
We weren't allowed to take photos inside, but you can go to the website and see lots more. And, if you ever find yourself in Fort Lauderdale, make sure to go!

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Friday, October 03, 2008

We're Baaaaaaaaaack

We decided a while back that it was time for a whole season at home with Family and Friends. So, here we are - at Paradise Island RV park in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My Mom lives about a mile from here. Jim's Dad is 3-4 miles. Jim's son and grandson are 5-10 miles. You get the idea. The house we lived in from '93 - 2003' is just a few blocks from here.

Jim will 'workcamp' in the office here at the park in exchange for our site, and I'll be free to work on our website in between visits to my Mom where I'll be editing video of her travels to Australia, China, Korea, Cyprus, and Jordan!

We took a bike ride around the area, including this nearby city park and determined to contact the City of Oakland Park to see if we could convince them to convert one of these tennis courts to 2 pickleball courts?! That would be great!

From Geeks on Tour blog 200810

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

St. Brendan's Isle Mail Service

A while back, I wrote an article for's Blog about mail forwarding for RVers where I mentioned this company called St. Brendan's Isle. We heard of them because our friends, the Gundy's, told us how happy they are with the new mail scanning service they get from St. Brendan's. When we heard the company was located just south of Jacksonville, in Green Cove Springs, we made plans to stop by on our way through. I'm glad we did. The owner, Doug, gave us a thorough tour, explaining how their computer database and custom software controls every step of the operation. Their computer programmer works with them on a weekly basis to continue to improve the process. I used to do that kind of custom programming and I found myself feeling proud of my past profession and especially impressed with the business owners who make such good use of technology.

From Geeks on Tour Blog 200809
I was particularly impressed with their ingenious method of doing the scanning right at the mailboxes themselves. They rigged up special 'mobile workstation' carts complete with touchscreen computer terminals plugged into battery power with inverters. They could scan envelopes and print bar code stickers right at the boxes.
From Geeks on Tour Blog 200809

He also introduced us to the staff, one of whom was just packing up a big bundle of mail. She explained how she saves the customer postage costs by using the flat rate boxes. The particular bundle she was handling would have cost about $20 in postage, but she used a flat rate box for under $10. We don't use a mail-forwarding service yet, because our home park takes care of it for us. But, with this scanning service now, we might consider it. Here's how it works; when your mail comes in to St. Brendan's they scan the envelopes. You log in to their website and see all the envelopes waiting in your box. For each one you can select, Shred, Hold, Send, or Scan. If you choose Scan, they will open the envelope and scan the contents. You will see the scan of the contents when you next visit the secure website. Then you can, once again, choose Shred, Hold, or Forward. You can watch a demo of how this all works on their website. It was also interesing to hear the history of the company. It started out with one man who had a friend who took off in a sailboat. He agreed to have his friend's mail sent to his house and send it on whenever they gave him and address, or to hold it till they got back.

Just like a lot of RVer friends and family do today.

He did this for one friend, then two, then three etc. One day he woke up and found himself in the mail forwarding business! That was many years ago. He sold the business to the current owners and they expanded into the RVing market -although 'cruisers' are still the majority of their business. That's where the name comes from. St. Brendan is the patron Saint of Navigators and a legendary Irish voyager.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour of the facility and ended up chatting a while about possibilities for cross-referrals. After all, their mail-forwarding services and our computer education services both serve the same traveling, computer-using, market. We didn't form any specific plans but agreed to keep our thinking caps on! Meanwhile, if you are interested, you can find their contact information at and be sure to tell them you heard about them from Geeks on Tour!

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