Friday, August 31, 2012

It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It never fails to impress me how RVing gives you a different neighborhood all the time.  Sometimes you’re far from the maddening crowd, sometimes you’re next door neighbors with best friends, and sometimes you have a whole new set of neighbors to meet.

This week at the FMCA convention, there were nearly 2,000 RVs that come together and form a new city for four days.  This city sprouts up overnight and disperses 5 days later.  Here is a WAY COOL video about one of the RVers here who has a Quadcopter that takes video as it flies overhead.  You will see the city I’m talking about here.

And, guess what?  The Reporter in this video, Mike Wendland, was one of our neighbors!  He heard about what we do, and came over to take some video of us.  We may be on NBC!  I’m sure we’ll be on the video list on his ‘OpenMike’ FMCA page.  We’ll post the link when we see it.

Our neighbor, Mike Wendland coming over to interview us.

Mike was staying in the gray Roadtrek in the back of this picture, then next to him, in the white RV is Chuck Woodbury of  We’ve been reading his weekly newsletter for years, and I’ve even written some articles on his DigitalRVer blog, but we’ve never met in person.  No amount of online contact can make the connection that you get from spending real time with someone. 

Chuck Woodbury

Because Chuck was in our neighborhood, we even got together for dinner, and other friends popped in as well – Phil and Tracey from TechnoRV and their dog Murphy.  We all had a great time swapping stories.

Neighbors dropping by!  Phil and Tracey May, Chuck Woodbury.  Love this lifestyle!

Chuck took a great video walking all around the FMCA ‘city’ – this will give you an idea of what I’m talking about – from ground level.

All good things must come to an end.  The 2,000 homes that made up our town for the last few days just started the ignition and drove away!  Our next stop is the Gypsy Journal Rally in Celina, Ohio.

See Ya Down The Road!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

FMCA Indianapolis

We've been attending, and working, at the FMCA conventions once or twice every year since 2005.  It's always a pleasure, and it's always different.

This year, in Indianapolis, it's a new venue.  There was a little confusion as to parking, but we ended up in a wonderful spot.

Motorhomes arriving at the Family Motor Coach Ass'n convention

Our parking spot

The neighborhood
Except for rain the first morning, we've had gorgeous weather.  We were booked for 2 and 3 seminars each day.  We knew it was going to be a busy week.

Facebook Seminar
We had good crowds for all our seminars.  It's always interesting to see which one will be the most popular. For several years, our Picasa classes were clearly the most popular, but last year, Facebook won, and now, our Smartphone class had the biggest audience.  I don't know exact numbers, but I think Smartphones had about 400 people in the audience, and another 3-400 watching remotely on the webcast.  These live webcasts are free for anyone.  We didn't realize this was happening, so didn't let our readers know.  I'm hoping they are recorded and will be available for viewing later, but we don't have any information on that yet.

All our seminars this week are being filmed and presented live over the Web.

Jim is able to project his actions on a smartphone by connecting the iPad to the projector and aiming the iPad's camera at the smartphone.

We also had a hands-on smartphone workshop.
So many people are telling us about what they've learned from us ... it warms our hearts.  That's what it's all about.  We especially like it when people show us something they've done because of what we've taught them.  Today we got a link to a youtube video that would have knocked me off my chair, IF I had been sitting down!  (Haven't done much of that in a few days!)  We taught our Photo Story 3 class from 11:30 to 12:45 - it was webcast.  At about 3 o'clock, we got an email from Vicki Wassenhove from Quad Cities.  She wrote:
"I watched, I listened, I learned...  "  
She had apparently watched the seminar on the live Webcast.  During the webcast she took several screenshots of us presenting the seminar.  Then she used what she learned about Photo Story to put together this little movie:

How Cool is that?!  We get to see a little of what the Webcast looked like, and she shows us that she learned how to make a photo story by watching the webinar.  All done and uploaded to youtube, within a couple hours!

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Quad Cities, Mississippi, Computer Classes and TV show

We arrived here in the Quad Cities over a week ago - Jim researched and found a nice Corps of Engineers park right on the river - Fisherman's Corner.  We settled in for a 12 day stay.

We're here at the invitation of the Quad Cities Computer Society.  We were thru here last year and did a Picasa seminar.  This time we're doing two hands-on Picasa classes, one Smartphone seminar, and one Facebook seminar.  The club treated us to dinner with several of their members.  Here's a collage that Vicki - their webmaster and our main contact - put together of the evening.
We've had gorgeous weather here and have even taken some time to see a few sights, like Buffalo Bill's birthplace:

And Mississippi Lock and Dam #14

We also had plenty of our normal computer / website work to do.  Here I am doing the voice over for a little video I did of the Copilot Live software that Jim reviewed.

Then we had our first hands on class on Saturday.  Thanks to Vicki for taking so many pictures!

After the workshop we made our way to the place were Floatzilla was happening, put our kayaks in the water and tried to help break a world record of the most kayaks / canoes in a raft up.  They needed nearly 2,000 and the number we heard was only 1,500 - but it sure was a hoot.

We considered it a success because we got our kayaks wet in the Mississippi river!

Then, today was the day we were scheduled for a Television interview on a show called Paula Sands Live ... WKQC, Channel 6 in Davenport, Iowa.  We were promoting the free smartphone seminar that we're doing for the Quad Cities Computer Society tomorrow.

You can see the web version of our 4.5 minute segment on their website at

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Indiana Dunes and Chicago Computer Society

.Next stop on our route after the Techsmith Screencast camp was a presentation to the Chicago Computer Society.  We went thru Elkhart, Indiana on our way and snapped this photo of an Amish recreational vehicle!

We've learned that there isn't much in the way of Campgrounds in the Chicago area, but we have wanted to go to the Indiana Dunes State Park and that's not far.  It's a very nice park, with 50 amp RV sites and Verizon 4G is good.  We liked it!  We even got out of the RV and did a little walking!

Boardwalk to the Beach at Indiana Dunes State Park
On a calm, sunny day you could almost mistake Lake Michigan for a Florida beach!
But, it's not always a calm sunny day!  The lake looked more like a stormy North Atlantic on this day:
For the night of our presentation at the Chicago Computer Society, we wanted to stay a little closer so we found an Elks Lodge in Hobart, Illinois - just south of Chicago.  We're really enjoying staying at Elks Lodges - what can be more fun than a clubhouse!  Parking your house right outside the door of the clubhouse :-)
We had a fantastic reception at the Chicago Computer Society.  They suspended all their normal business and gave us the full 2 hours to present Picasa.  There were about 60 people there which is so perfect.  Small enough that we could really get personal, but large enough to feel like a party!  I wish I had thought to turn our video camera on at the end - I swear the applause was deafening.  We love our job!
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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Screencast Camp at TechSmith in Michigan

We make our living with our Tutorial Videos.  And, I create those tutorial videos using screencasting software called Camtasia by TechSmith.  So, when I saw that there was a new version of Camtasia (8) and they were holding a ‘Screencast Camp’ at TechSmith headquarters.  I consulted the map and our calendar and decided we could make it work. 

So – last weekend, Jim and I attended Screencast camp at TechSmith headquarters in Okemos, Michigan (pronounced Oh-ki-mus).  They were serious about the ‘Camping’ part.  Some folks came with tents, many of the TechSmith employees slept on air mattresses in their offices, but we made a real hit with our motorhome in their parking lot.  Jessie was all prepared for us and had roped off a spot for us to park.  They also ran an extension cord out their office window for us to plug in.  A video crew even interviewed us – if we get a copy, I’ll post it here.

Our reserved parking space at TechSmith - Jessie was prepared for us.
Our reserved parking space at TechSmith - Jessie was prepared for us.
They weren't kidding when they called this 'Camp.'
They weren't kidding when they called this 'Camp.'

They fed us breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole weekend!  And, they even had homebrew beer that they made!

They fed us good
They fed us good


Techsmith Brewers
Techsmith Brewers

In our online/digital world, it is such a treat to attend functions like this where we get to meet the actual people behind the software that is so important to us.  It felt very similar, just a lot smaller,  to when we visited Google HQ in 2009.  The same young, energetic staff, the same emphasis on fun and creativity at the company.  It looked like everyone really enjoyed working there.  And, they are very passionate about their excellent software. 

I am very excited about all the new features in version 8 of Camtasia.  I even took advantage of signing up for one-on-one time with the developers to learn the new animation features. 

The conference itself was built on a Barcamp model of UNconferences. So, on Friday night everyone gathered and tossed out ideas of sessions we wanted to either take, or give.  It actually worked better than I expected.  I am accustomed to prepared sessions where you know what you’re going to learn.  But … I did learn a lot – and Jim did too.  There were sessions on how to get the best quality sound, there were sessions on the new features in Camtasia 8.  I think everyone agrees that the most fun and valuable session was Screencast Commandments taught by attendee Dan Nunez … he did the same talk last year and I watched his video on it, but seeing him in person was great! 

They also gave us free copies of their software, including their flagship product Snaggit which I’ve never used, so Jim took the session on Snaggit 101 – and maybe he’ll be making some of the content of our videos now!

I loved their comfortable breakout rooms – all equipped with big screens and projectors.

I loved their comfortable meeting rooms.
I loved their comfortable meeting rooms.

We took a tour of their facilities and got a kick out of their evident sense of humor.  Here’s one employee’s space where the top of his cubicle wall demonstrates getting your ducks in a row.

Ducks in a Row
Ducks in a Row

And, we got to see the studio where their monthly online show – The Forge -  is recorded.  Here’s The Forge episode that introduces Camtasia Studio 8.

And here I am in the Forge studio;

Chris on the set of TechSmith's
Chris on the set of TechSmith's "The Forge"

It was also a treat to meet Betsy Weber.  Her title at TechSmith is ‘Chief Evangelist’ … isn’t that great!

Betsy Weber - Techsmith's Chief Evangelist in their recording studio (love her tshirt!)
Betsy Weber - Techsmith's Chief Evangelist in their recording studio (love her tshirt!)

The most important outcome of our weekend visit at TechSmith was getting inspired to do more with our Screencast videos.  I’ve actually signed up for a 6 week online course to learn more of the specific How-To’s of Camtasia – but I’m doing that with the confidence that I understand the company behind the product and I know where I can go for more support.

THANKS TECHSMITH – we loved the weekend, and we’re inspired to do a lot more with your products.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Connecticut to Michigan

After we presented our seminar at the Connecticut Computer Users Group, we were done with our obligations in the east - next stop Michigan.  But first, we need to brag that the seminar went very well.  It was even filmed by a local TV station - I hope we get to see that sometime.

We taught Facebook, and within a few days the Computer User Group of Connecticut had a brand new Facebook page of their own!  That's what it's all about for us.  We love knowing that we're teaching topics that actually get used!  We don't get paid for these club seminars, so the more valuable the information, the more people will sign up for our newsletters, and eventually pay to be members on our website where they can watch the tutorial videos and learn lots more.  Too bad we have bills to pay, or we'd do everything for free!  Our satisfaction comes from knowing people value and use what we teach them but, we really like knowing that they value it enough to pay for a membership! :-)

July started in LBI, New Jersey, up to Vermont, down to Connecticut, then over to Michigan.

Michigan is about 800 miles from Connecticut and that would usually be at least 3 days of driving and a couple days layovers for us.  But, we looked at the map and couldn't see anywhere we really wanted to stop in between.  It was all Interstate and Turnpike driving, and we had a Thousand Trails park we could go to in Michigan.  We are members of Thousand Trails, so it doesn't cost us anything more to stay there.  We determined we could get there with two days of driving and just sleep at a rest area in the middle somewhere.  I even took a few hours at the wheel, and it was actually quite enjoyable.  I love seeing the views of this huge country from our RVs windshield.  Here's a little slideshow I made, starting with the scary low bridges in Connectictut where we learned to love seeing big trucks on the road - if they had enough clearance then so would we!

Once installed at Thousand Trails, St. Clair, we decided to explore a little and took a walk along the nice walking and biking path on the St. Clair river.  Looking at the blue of the water, I felt more like I was in the Caribbean  than by the Great Lakes!

Home for 5 days

The St. Clair river with Canada on the other side.
The next day, our friends and long time Geeks on Tour members, David and Lynn Cross pulled into the same park so we found a nice restaurant, also on the river, and enjoyed good food, good company, and beautiful scenery.

Lynn, David, and us at River Crab/Blue Water Inn, Marysville Michigan

We so enjoy the quiet time in beautiful surroundings that we get when we stay at a Thousand Trails park.  We got caught up on some book work, and I got our July Newsletter done!  The next day, we got a call from long-time Geeks on Tour members, Fred and Wilma.  Yes, that's their real name, no their last name isn't Flintstones - but they don't mind if you remember them that way!

I thought for sure we had met them some time in the past because I knew their names so well, but they assured me that our only contact had been online.  I guess I just can't tell the difference anymore - so much of my life is online.  Anyway - we had a great visit, and I look forward to eating the homegrown tomatoes they brought us from their Michigan garden.

We are disappointed that this park doesn't have a hot tub, when most Thousand Trails do, but we decided it was cool enough to take advantage of the Pickleball courts!  We actually played two whole games and didn't hurt ourselves!  I'm so proud.  Even if Jim did beat me both games.

We just have one more day here, then we head over to Okemos, Michigan where we'll be attending Screencast Camp at Techsmith corporation.  Techsmith is the maker of the software - Camtasia - that I use for our tutorial videos.  I'm really looking forward to this.

Further your computer education