Thursday, April 26, 2012

Techno-Geek Learning Rally

Well - we're just past the halfway point, and we're very happy with how it's going.  We call it a Learning Rally because we're doing a lot of seminars and hands-on workshops.  But, it's also a learning rally for us.  The main thing we're learning is about using Facebook as an extension of the actual rally.  We're posting pictures and lots of snippets of information from the Rally on a special Facebook Rally Page.
Here's the banner picture from the Rally page:

We're also encouraging attendees to post as well.  So people who aren't here can see what's going on and get some of the experience themselves. They can even see the results of what people are learning - like this Photo Story 3 movie that one of our students created (and uploaded to Facebook) on the same day as taking our Photo Story 3 seminar! And, he used the photos he took while taking Phil's digital camera class.
The facilities here at Paradise Oaks RV Park are excellent, and our weather has been picture-postcard perfect.
Here's a photo of our seminar room complete with the Geeks projected setup as well as the TechnoRV setup.  We can have dualing presentations.  Sometimes the back-and-forth takes on a humorous challenge of Mac vs PC.  We also have ways to project our smartphones - so the audience gets to see the difference between Android and iPhone as well.

And here's a little video of the digital camera class outside trying out different techniques.

But, what most people will remember from the rally is food unlike any other rally they've ever attended.  Put Tracey and Phil into this beautiful kitchen, and we are benefitting from the results!  On our schedule, I just wrote that we would be having a 'continental' breakfast each morning.  Well - so far we've had Sausage gravy and biscuits, ham and cheese croissants, and bacon and eggs.  If that's 'continental' one attendee, Alex, said she wants to find out what continent that is and move there!

Here's Chris teaching one of the many seminars scheduled each day.
One whole afternoon was a hands-on class with Picasa for photo editing.
Each morning, Phil is leading people in Tai Chi
Jim was so happy we actually used his cool Jeopardy game.  It was FUN!
We still have 2 full days left, then a farewell breakfast.  We're looking forward to great things from our students to show us on the last day - photos, slide shows and movies!

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Pre-Rally Week

With nothing on our schedule except getting ready for the rally, we decided to come down to Thousand Trails by Orlando because it’s just a short distance from our Rally park, and we are members here so it costs us nothing.  Nothing more than we’ve already paid that is Smile

I love the pool and hot tub here, so we took advantage of it a few times.

Both Jim and I had thousands of emails in our inbox, since we had no other obligations this week we diligently went to work on whittling away at them.  It boggles my mind how just dealing with email can be a fulltime job.  We would start at 8am, barely lifting our heads from the computer to have something to eat during the day.  If it weren’t for Odie threatening to have an accident, we may never have even gone outside.  (Thank you ODIE – because we had gorgeous weather while we were here, sparkling sunshine and temps in the 76-82 range.)  Some nights we were still at it at midnight.  I actually tackled my thousands of emails back in March – I was so proud to get them down to under 100 – then I went back to work on other things.  Within a week of normal email, responding to important ones, I was back over 500 again!  What a monster. Jim sent me to do shopping yesterday .. I think it was so he could keep working on his emails while mine piled back up.  I’m proud that my inbox now stands at 81 total messages, but I’m also competitive!  Jim says his is at 18!  So, if you’re getting ready to forward a bunch of emails – make sure to put Jim on your list OK?  (and not me!)

Odie congratulates Jim on winning the email war.

I talk of our email only to explain what we’re doing.  Please don’t take it as saying we don’t want to hear from you.  We love getting email from our friends.  We do ask, however, if you have a computer question – Please use our Geeks on Tour Forums – that’s what they’re for.  Yes, you have to be a paid member to ask a question in the forum – that membership is how we make our living, but most of the folks who email us are members – so that’s not really the main point.  We just hate to answer one person when we know that other people may have the same question and would like to see the conversation.  We also don’t lose questions in the forum anywhere near as often as in our in-box!  We usually respond to forum messages within a day or two – sometimes it takes weeks (or never) to get to something in our email!  Also, there are other members in the forum who have good information to add to the conversation and can help.  Even if you don’t have a question, and/or you’re not a member, check out our Geeks on Tour Forums anyway.  All the questions and answers are viewable by the public.  You might be surprised what you learn!

During our stay, I was able to spend some time producing and uploading a few new videos for our Geeks on Tour Learning Library.  You can always see the list of newest videos at GeeksOnTour.TV –> Learning Library –> Recent Videos.  Most of them are for members only, but the first 3 of any given topic are freely viewable by anyone.  Like my latest: Smartphone Touchscreen Basics.

We also got together with Laura and Geoff who have a year-round site here at Thousand Trails.

  They will be attending our Techno-Geek Learning rally next week and it was great to get to know them a bit.  Laura does Send Out Cards.  I’ve heard about this but didn’t think I had any interest since I’m just not a card-sender type of person.  But, I went to her ‘Card Party’ at the park Rec Center and watched, amazed, as she showed all sorts of things.  It’s not just for birthdays!  You can keep a database of business contacts, and send them a beautiful postcard to promote a product you sell.  You can even make business cards.  And, once you have such an easy way to send a birthday card, well, maybe I’ll even do that!  There are stock cards, or you can put your own pictures on them.  It’s a great thing to do with your pictures after you’ve spruced them up with Picasa!

I told Laura, she’ll have to show a little of this at our Rally next week.  Good Stuff.

Ok, back to work on Rally preparations … here’s Jim putting together the notebooks.

This will be a pretty small rally – 17 rigs, about 30 people. That’s good for our first time – enough people for there to be lots to share, but small enough that we can talk to them all.  Phil and Tracey May – along with their kids Josh and Ally – will be our co-hosts, and Phil has started a Facebook page specifically for Techno-Geek Learning Rally so we can gather followers, get feedback, and have an online place for perpetual learning.  He’s already added an event for the Fall, so we can start promoting it now.  Check out the Techno-Geek Learning Rally facebook page and Like it so you can hear all about it.  And, if you are one of our registered attendees, please RSVP to the Spring Rally Event.  We’re hoping that these Facebook tools give us a really good way to communicate both to attendees during the rally, and to anyone who wants to attend sometime in the future.  We just set it up, so won’t know how successful it is for a while – we figure this is a Learning Rally for us too!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Preparing for a Computer Learning Rally

It’s still 10 days away, but, since we are in the general area, we decided to stop by the RV park where our Techno-Geek Learning Rally will be held.

The park is Paradise Oaks in Bushnell, Florida.  We’ve stayed here once before and were impressed with the facilities.  That’s why we chose it.  But we weren’t sure of the details like the kitchen facilities, the Wi-Fi etc.

It’s a pretty new park, so the sites have good 50amp hookups and large paved pads.  And they just completed an upgrade of their Wi-Fi system.

One of my requirements is a nice hot tub – so that was my first stop!

See that big white screen in the background?  We didn’t remember that.  It’s a movie screen!  Oh Boy!  We can have an outdoor movie night during our rally and show our favorite RV movie – Long, Long Trailer with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Our main questions were about the kitchen.  This is the first rally we’ve ever done, it’s small enough (about 30 people) that, between the TechnoRV folks and us, we should be able to handle the food preparation if the kitchen has everything we need. 

It does … and then some!

4 ovens!  2 stovetops and a microwave.  A full size refrigerator and a full size freezer side by side.

and plenty of equipment like coffee urns, chafing dishes, roasters and other food warmers.

There’s even a Kitchen Aid mixer available!  Not that I’d have any idea what to do with it Smile but maybe Tracey, Phil, Ally, or Josh do?!

And the meeting room is very nice.  The only problem is it may be difficult to get it darkened for the projector.

We were also happy to see that there is a second, smaller room.  So we can break the group into two.  A couple of our hands-on segments were aimed at beginners and our survey of attendees indicates that most people are more advanced than that.  So we’ve revised the rally schedule and I’ll take the folks wanting basic Windows 7 training in the small room, while Jim and Phil show off mobile Internet devices and explain how best to use antennas and routers. 

Most everyone is interested in photo editing with Picasa, so we’ll do that hands-on class in the big room.  But, the little room will still be available if a small group wants to work on something else.

I am most looking forward to the every morning panel discussion where we’re asking for questions from the audience on anything!  This is where we’ll all get to learn something.  I love questions that bring new topics to our attention. And I know we’ll learn some things from our audience as well.  There is so much cool, new technology coming out every day, no one can possibly know it all.  We will also have that most knowledgeable of all computer resources … teenagers!  Phil and Tracey’s kids, Ally and Josh, will be with us during this rally.  Ally makes great videos, and Josh is our Macintosh expert!  They are home-schooled using online curriculum while traveling the country with their parents.  See our video about Phil, Tracey, Josh, and Ally for more info.

Hopefully, this will be the first of many Techno-Geek Learning Rallies.  We’re already looking at dates in November, after the Good Sam rally in Daytona.

Techno-Geek Learning Rally 'staff'
The image above was created using Picasa.  I was showing off Picasa’s ability to combine the faces feature with collage and the Text feature.  As it turned out, I really like it as a promotional picture for our rally!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Friends, Music, and Country Living

aaahhhhhh.  For the last week we’ve been parked at a friend’s property in northern Florida, just east of Gainesville.  Unlike the RV park where we stayed all winter, we don’t have anyone parked to our left, right, front or back! 

We do have a donkey however, who seems very interested in us!

Alex moved here from South Florida many years ago, and she has succeeded in getting a few other family and friends to move here as well.  Once a year or so, she invites friends that she knows from high school to visit and have a music event.  We both graduated from Nova High School in Fort Lauderdale – 1971, and there were some very talented musicians in and around our class.  She calls the event Novapalooza.  Here’s a sample of the music:

Here’s Cary Tennis just getting warmed up.

We captured over 3 hours of music on an audio recording.  It was soo good.  And, what wonderful seats we had!  The RV was parked right next to the stage.  We could sit on our living room couch and watch the music out the window!  As night fell, a full moon came out, and the music played on.

The party went on all weekend.  Here’s Alex (on the right) and her sister Angela who lives a couple doors down.

What a great time we had.  THANK YOU ALEX and Angela, and Jim, and Suzanne, and Bill, and Jeanie, and all the Melrosians.  What a great spot you have here! We will continue to keep our eyes on this area as a place to settle down someday. 

Alas … the party is over and it’s time for us to move on.

We’re headed to Bushnell, Florida and Paradise Oaks RV park to get ready for our Techno-Geek Learning Rally.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Newsletter and Getting Ready to hit the Road

Writing our newsletter was much of my week last week.  We've been writing a monthly newsletter for Geeks on Tour since July of 2007.  It started out as something that took me an hour or two to write and send out.  Now it takes me three days!!  It's a labor of love, but still ... that's a lot of time, no wonder it keeps getting later and later.  Our January newsletter was sent on February 6! But, I'm happy to say, we're back on track ... the March newsletter went out on March 31 :-)  If you click on that link you can read that newsletter, plus all the archives back to 2007.  You can also sign up to be on the maillist to have the newsletter emailed to you if you like.
I'm especially proud of being published in Highways magazine this month.  It's a 5 page article! It's called 'Get Away, Stay Connected: Why Computers, the Internet, and Social Networks are Perfect Companions for RVers.'  If you're a Good Sam member, you can read it in the online magazine.

Thanks to Frank Drew for telling me I could use the tagline for his old company (Coach Connect) as the title.  I always loved the 'Get Away, Stay Connected' slogan and since the company doesn't exist anymore, I'm stealing it!
The best part of last week though was going Kayak Diving!!  We hadn't been kayak diving all winter :-(  Jim went out on a boat a couple times when our friend Jimmy Lyon was in town.  It's been over a year since I've been in the water.  It was beautiful day.  While I was in meditation mode 30 feet down communing with the angels (angel fish) it was so clear to me that, for me, scuba diving is one of those things that make life worth living!

Several other of our Kayuba club members also showed up since it was the last day of lobster season.  It was good to see old friends.

Ahhhhhh ... so now we can leave Fort Lauderdale with a feeling of completion!  We have moved out of Paradise Island RV park and we're staying at a favorite county park for a couple of nights just to regroup, re-pack, and tie up loose ends with my Mom's condo.  This Easterlin park is such a beautiful place!  Take a look at our site:

On our walk this morning we saw this sign ... what does it say about people for this sign to be necessary?!

So, we'll be on our way tomorrow.  Probably stay and Thousand Trails, Orlando for a night on our way to visit friends in Melrose, FL (near Gainesville) for Easter.  Then we'll head over to Bushnell and Paradise Oaks RV park to prepare for our Techno-Geek Learning Rally starting on April 22.  Yippee, on the road and teaching computers ... other than kayak diving, my favorite things to do in the world!

Register now for a Week of Learning Computers, Cameras, and Smartphones.
April 22-29 Bushnell, Florida