Sunday, November 29, 2009

Peace River Getaway

Although we like Fort Lauderdale, we don’t like sitting still for too long.  An easy, and wonderful getaway is Thousand Trails / Peace River in Wauchula, Florida.  It’s about a 3.5 hour drive.




It’s a bit chilly, but the sun is out and it’s warm and beautiful in the afternoon.  We want to go for a paddle, but I had work to do.  Our monthly newsletter *had* to get out today.  We had plenty of time for walks on the nature trail, and soaks in the hot tub.  Jim and I even played a couple games of pickleball.


Maybe we’ll get to paddle tomorrow. 

Meanwhile – here’s a nice sunset scene.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Work or Play?

I really do need to write in here more often.  Once 3 days goes by – then I feel overwhelmed and I don’t know what to write about – so I don’t.  It’s so much easier when we’re on the road and each day is it’s own separate event.  When we’re parked, the days all seem to run into each other – and so much of what we do doesn’t seem ‘bloggable.’ 


What I want to tell you about is Monday.  We tried to go kayak diving on Sunday (it’s the closest thing to church that we do) but it was too windy.  Monday morning, we woke up to a perfectly calm day … here’s how the conversation went:

Jim: “We should go diving.”

Me: “No, we have too much work to do.”

Jim: “Which is more important? Work or diving?”

Me: “Work, because it’s what allows us to pay for our lifestyle.” I said, unconvincingly

Jim: “We can work anytime. When conditions are right, we need to go diving.”


hmmmm … I think he’s right.  We went diving.  The ocean was perfect – see video below.  I still felt guilty though – we so often choose play over work.  So, if our newsletter is a little late, or you can’t get all our Picasa videos yet because we haven’t uploaded them to the right webpage, or you’re a website client still waiting for the finished product, or we haven’t answered your email, or …  well – you’ll know why.


I don’t think Jim feels guilty at all … do men not have the ‘guilt gene?’


Monday, November 23, 2009

Everyday Blogging

I don’t write in my blog every day.  But, you knew that didn’t you?


I say that I write when I have something to say – but that isn’t true either – I feel the need to write at least a couple times a week whether I have anything to say or not!


Anyway – my latest post is on my Facebook page  And, my latest facebook comment just links you to where I wrote on our Kayuba scuba club’s blog page.


… I’m getting so confused.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Picasa Book for Version 3.5

With the visit to Google, and rewriting our Beginner’s Guide to Picasa, there hasn’t been much RVing to write about here.


PicasacoverPicture2[1] So let me tell you about the book.  I’m really proud of it.  In the process of updating it to version 3.5, I also expanded it.  The previous book was 40 pages – now it’s 60.  And, I recorded several new videos to go along with it.  We’re selling the printed book with the DVD of videos in the back.  All the videos are available to our members, so they can buy the instant downloadable eBook!  I even made a video to talk about the book:

View Table of Contents and Sample pages

Buy the Book w DVD for $29.95

Buy the eBook for $9.95 with instant download

Become a Geeks on Tour Member to gain access to *ALL* our videos plus our private support forum - $39 for one year


Having worked personally with hundreds of Picasa users, I think I understand the most important things they need to know in order to be successful with Picasa.  Those things are in the book. Let the orders start rolling in! :-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Impressions of Google

When you see things first hand, they’re never as good as the hype.


Except for Google!  Everything you’ve ever heard about their reputation for being a good work place, a crucible for innovation, and lots of energy … it’s all true.  It was a very memorable experience.  What we tend to tell people about the most is the food!  Every building – and there are lots of them – has a cafeteria.  But, you’ve never seen cafeteria food like this.  I had stuffed portobello mushrooms with goat cheese and sundried tomatoes.  Jim had savory roast chicken and couscous.  I had dessert pastries to-die-for.  We ate in the main building’s cafeteria with I’d guess at least 250 other people, all eating this gourmet fare.




Yep, if you work at Google, you eat free.  So cool.  And – you’re encouraged to exercise and play, and get massages!  All at work, all for free or subsidized.  The company puts it’s money where it’s mouth is when they say that happy, healthy employees are productive employees.


You get the distinct impression that all the employees want to do good.  They want to make their bosses proud.  Because I was on a panel the first day we were there – lots of people recognized us on the second day when we were at Google’s offices.  They came up and shook our hands and said things like, “I’d really like to talk to you about an idea my team has …”  Or, “We’d really like to know how you, and your customers, use our products.”  The energy was just buzzing.


If we were 20 years younger – we’d be knocking on HR’s door – they call it People Operations.  As it is, we kinda like what we do even more!  But, we felt proud to be a part of the Google team even for a day!  We made sure to stop by the store and get a couple of t-shirts!



The recording of the Picasa Webinar is supposed to be available by the end of this week.  I’ll let you know a link then. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Google and Geeks On Tour

The webinar is over, and it was a great success.  Working with the wonderful people at Google was quite an experience. 
If you don’t know, a webinar is a seminar presented live worldwide on the web.  The technology to make that happen is quite amazing.  WebEx is the company that Google uses to make that happen.
We had a run-through last night to make sure all the WebEx stuff was working and that it all worked with our computers.  It did not go as smoothly as we expected, but we were assured that everything was working for today’s event.
During breakfast, several Google employees came over and thanked us for participating on the advisory panel yesterday and expressed a desire for continued discussion of some of the things that were talked about.
There were a dozen Picasa team members in the room for the webinar.  Computers, headsets and phones were set up and the participants started coming online.
Jaysie from Picasa welcomed everyone and did some introductory demonstrations before introducing the star of the show, Chris.
Chris really showed her expertise during her 25 minute editing presentation.  The experts in the room were very impressed. 
The Q&A segment followed with many good questions from the online guests and answers from the experts, including Chris. 
Pictures were not allowed inside the offices, but I can tell you, the place is really cool!
Thanks, Google!
We’re catching a plane in the morning to return to our RV in Florida.

p.s. You can watch the complete webinar on Youtube.

Visit to Google

What nice kids these are here in Google land!  Yes, that’s right – they are kids.  Our main contact has been a delightful woman named Brenna … she was born in 1983 – the same year as Jim’s son Devon, and the same year my Mom and I started our computer training business, Computer Savvy.


Here’s Brenna and another Picasa team member, Christina when they took us out to dinner at a wonderful restaurant called the Left Bank.


On Thursday morning, I was a panelist at a meeting of 3-400 Google employees who focus on the users … You.  They think I know something about what you want.  I felt honored, and it was *really* fun for me.  Here’s Jim and me posing with my fellow panelists.  From left to right -


Terry from Nortwestern University, Danny from, and Mike from


After the conference, we all had a tour of Google’s main campus.  It really does feel like a university.



'42' = the answer to life, the universe, and everything - just Google it!


Jim just had to leave a tweet using a computer in Google's lobby!


Then, last night we spent some time at Google offices getting ready for the webinar this morning.  Speaking of which … *gotta go*

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fort Lauderdale to San Jose

By RV, we would probably take a month to make this trip.  By plane it was one day.  I much prefer RV travel – but flying certainly has it’s advantages!  The main one of course is that it makes short trips possible.  Google wanted us here to be on a panel on Thursday, then we’ll do our Picasa Webinar on Friday, and be back home in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday. 


The other advantage is the view.  I always get a window seat because I love to look out and see places I’ve been from this unique perspective.  I suppose I’d get tired of it if I flew for business all the time – but, as it is, I’m fascinated.


Here’s the view leaving Fort Lauderdale.


And, here we are landing in Chicago.  Yes, I said Chicago! … No clue how they plan these routes …


Then comes the midwest – and I think this is the Mississippi River, around Dubuque.  We were there earlier this year and visited the River Museum. 


Then came Denver airport, and the Rocky Mountains.


And, last is the rolling hills of California – Mt. Diablo in the distance I think – coming in to land at San Jose.


It was a relaxing flight – we read the magazines, and our books.  We had our computers in our carry-ons, but there was no power at our seats and no Wi-Fi – so they stayed in our carry-ons!  Now we’re at the Santa Clara Marriot, using the Wi-Fi at $12.95/day!  We’re looking forward to having dinner with the Google Picasa Team tonight.  And lunch with my oldest friends – Lanz, a friend since 8th grade who lives in the Bay area, and Arynne, a friend since 9th grade who lives in Santa Cruz.


I hope we get to take a nap sometime since we were wide awake at 4:30 am!  Now there’s another advantage of RV travel – the time zone changes are much more gradual!

Monday, November 09, 2009

We’ve Said it Before…

… and I’ll say it again, If you really *need* the Internet, you need more than one way to connect.


Circumstances this past week really brought that home again.


We are spending the winter season at our home park, Paradise Island RV Resort.  There is WiFi here, and it is pretty good right now.  But as more “snow birds” flock to the park and connect, the bandwidth and speeds do suffer.  And a single infected computer can really bring things to a crawl.  Chris has been taking her laptop over to her Mom’s place and working there.  Marilyn has cable Internet.


There are phone connections at all the sites here.  I called AT&T and had our site set up with high-speed DSL for the months we will be here.  They have a plan where you can get only data if you do not need a voice line.

That is perfect for us, because we use our Verizon cell phones and Google Voice.


We were very happy with the speeds on our DSL connection until the DSL stopped working Friday.  I had experienced a couple of short outages previously, but this time it didn’t come back on.  I finally called tech support on Friday evening and they walked me through all the things I had tried at least 3 times before.

They determined the line was bad.  I figured I’d be without DSL until Monday, but they said a tech would be out in the morning.


To get work done, I connected to the WiFi.  It worked pretty good, but it wasn’t as fast as our dedicated DSL.

Chris need to do some heavy duty uploading, so I took her laptop to the park office and plugged into their high speed line.


The tech didn’t make it in the morning, but he did call and said he would be out at 2pm.  He was here promptly at 2 and traced the problem to 2600 feet from our site.  He found the problem, connected me back up, and we were back in business! 


I sure hope that doesn’t happen again.  But I am prepared.  If the DSL goes down, I’ll connect to the park WiFi.  If that is not good enough, I’ll turn on the Verizon Cellular Broadband


What will we do next year when we are traveling out west?  Cellular and WiFi is not always available. 

I will probably need to upgrade my MotoSat DataStorm satellite Internet system because Chris really *needs* the Internet.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Going to Google

We’ve Twittered about it, it’s on our Facebook page, our latest newsletter, and we just sent out a notice to our complete 4,000+ mailing list (members, newsletter subscribers and Picasa tip-o-the-week subscribers) but I just realized I haven’t told you about it on this blog yet!  :-(


We’re going to Google!


Google has invited us to speak at an internal conference in Mountain View, CA. No, we won't be driving the RV! They agreed to fly us out there and put us up at a hotel. We will also be co-hosting a webinar on Picasa.


On November 13, at 1pm Eastern time, you can watch a webinar (seminar delivered over the web) on the basics of using Picasa for managing your digital photos. Jaysie, from Google, will introduce Picasa, and Chris, from Geeks on Tour, will show you how to make your photos look better with just a few clicks from her favorite software. We hope you can all join in. Please take a moment now to register for the event. It's one hour long and it's free. If you can’t make the live webinar, it will be recorded.  We’ll post the link as soon as it is available.


We couldn't be more excited about this opportunity. We promise to take loads of pictures so we can share the whole experience with you. Google is well-known as being Geek-Heaven, and a great place to work. We've been promised a tour of the Googleplex (Google's Headquarters in Mountain View, CA) as well as lunch in one of the many employee cafes. Oh Boy!

Here's more ... this video even says that workers at Google can bring their dogs to work! Odie says he'd like that! But then Jim told him, 'y'know, if you come to work ... that means you'd have to actually work.' "Oh ... never mind!"

Chris will also be on a panel at an internal Google conference discussing what users want by way of support from Google. If you have anything you'd like us to tell them, send us an email.


I’ve been hard at work getting our Beginners Guide to Picasa updated and expanded for Picasa 3.5 – and making new videos to go along with it.  I posted a couple of them as a freebies on our Youtube account: 2GeeksOnTour (someone else actually had the geeksontour account !*@!???)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Kayak Diving

What a gorgeous day yesterday.  I decided to take a break from working on our new book … Beginner’s Guide to Picasa 3.5 … and go kayak diving with Jim.


What an excellent choice.  Just take a look at that ocean!


We take our time getting the kayaks ready, and socializing with other Kayuba members who are also going diving.




I had a song in my heart to be paddling on this flat calm ocean.  And, I might have let a few lines slip thru my vocal chords as well … sorry Jim and Bill :-)  This is church to me.


Then, we went diving!


Jim caught 3 lobsters of legal size – we had a good dinner.  We also saw a nice turtle, and my favorite … the yellow headed jawfish.


Here’s dinner, ready to put on the grill.  It doesn’t get any fresher that this!


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Happy Halloween

image There’s not a whole lot of trick or treating that goes on in most RV parks, but we did have one.  The manager’s daughter, Marie, came to our door dressed as a black cat. Instead of saying trick or treat, she said ‘Meoooooww’.  Jim gave her some candy while I put on my witch’s hat and answered with my best cackling, “I’ll get you my pretty.” 

That was the second time I had the opportunity to wear my witch had that we bought at the Salem Witch museum this summer.  The first was our Toastmasters meeting on Thursday, and Jim took a picture.

We’ve belonged to this Toastmasters club since the 90s and it has a history of getting dressed up for Halloween.  I found this pictures from 2001.  Yes, I promise that is me and Jim.  Who else do you know who would dress up as Dilbert?!



Hope you had a great Halloween.  And don’t forget to turn your clock back for daylight savings time.  That means we’re getting an early start to go diving today!  Jim’s been out kayak diving a couple times already, but this is the first time for me.  And, it’s a beautiful day.