Friday, December 27, 2013

Trick or Treat Christmas

It seemed a dirty trick that our RV would be in the service bay at Lazydays for the entire holiday season, but as it turned out – it was a treat.  We decided to clean out the RV so as to leave it locked up and hand the keys over to Lazydays in Tampa, and then drive to Fort Lauderdale and stay at Mom’s townhouse for the holidays.  Hopefully, with 2-3 weeks to work on it, they’ll be able to fix the slide right!
We packed up several computers, tablets, and smartphones – and a couple items of clothing.  We really don’t need anything else.  Dee, who lives at the townhouse now (Mom’s in an Assisted Living Facility) was spending the holidays with her family, so we had the place to ourselves – complete with Cable High Speed Internet!  I have a desk upstairs for my computer and Jim has a desk downstairs for his.  What a treat.  The weather has been beautiful, so we’re also enjoying the small, private backyard.  Here’s the Video Christmas Card we recorded there:

And, of course, being in our hometown for the holidays is full of family and friends.  We went to the Christmas party at our Dive Shop – UnderSea Sports – and reconnected with some dive buddies.  We attended the Toastmaster’s Club Christmas breakfast.  And we split Christmas day between brunch at Jim’s sister’s in West Palm Beach, and dinner at Jo Ellen’s with Devon, grandkids, and Mom.

Debbie says she hardly decorated for Christmas at all!  I’d say it was incredibly festive with the Christmas tree and then all the miniature Christmas trees, garlands, nativity scenes, and of course, champagne mimosas and food.  Thanks for doing all the work Debbie and Bob!

“Uncle” Bill makes a great Santa Claus:

Then it was back down to Fort Lauderdale, pick up Mom, and go to Jo Ellen’s house for Christmas dinner with the rest of the family … We used the occasion to take a very rare photo of the whole group – Mom, Me, Lacey, Aiva, AJ, Jo Elen, Devon, Jim:

Here we are all around the dinner table.  There’s a little story behind this photo – it’s actually made up of 3 or 4 pictures – I’ll write about it in our Geeks on Tour newsletter this week.

Aiva was so cute helping Grandma with the dinner!

And, here’s a typical scene with AJ playing video games.  I think Dad is giving him some pointers here.

Nice picture of Mom, Me, and Jim.  Thanks to the photographer … Aiva!

AJ likes presents!  Surprised?

Dot – Devon’s dog.
Merry Christmas to All!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Picasa Collages–Learning with Geeks on Tour

We’re really excited about using Google Hangouts On Air to deliver live webinars thru Youtube.  Our next webinar is:
  • Topic: Making Photo Collages with Picasa
  • When: Thursday, December 19, 2pm EST (Miami time)
  • How Long: 30 – 45 minutes
  • How to Register: Enter your name and email on this registration page.
  • How to View: After you register you will receive reminders with a link to go to when it’s time to view the live webinar.  You will be directed to a simple web page, nothing to download, no special equipment or software needed.  If you can watch and hear Youtube videos, you can watch and hear this webinar.
  • What if you miss it?  The live hangout is free to the public.  It will be recorded and the recording will be available on our Youtube channel.
We use Picasa Collages nearly every day.  It’s so easy, yet so powerful!  Whenever you have more than one picture you’d like to print or share, you could consider putting them together into one collage.  The basics are quite simple, just select all the pictures you want to use, then click the Create menu and Picture Collage… command.  If you have the Collage button at the bottom of your screen, that is the same thing.  Now you have lots of options.  Most people don’t experiment beyond the “Picture Pile” default, but Mosaic, Frame Mosaic, and even Multiple Exposure give you many interesting styles to explore.  Add to that the ability to use borders, colors, backgrounds, page formats, captions, and you start to see the power available.  You can see more examples of collages we’ve made.
In fact, the informational image above was created using the Collage feature.  It’s a collage of collages if you will!  We’ve already made several videos on how to use the Collage feature. You need to be a Geeks on Tour member to view the Shortcourse on Collages and Banners.  If you are a member but don’t know your username, please contact us.  If you’re not a member, you can join now!
We also have several free articles on collages on our website.
We hope you can join us for our free, live webinar on Thursday, but in any case … Make Some Collages!
Here's the recording of the Webinar on Collages.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Orlando and Tampa

We are members at Thousand Trails, so whenever possible we take advantage of that to stay at one of their parks.  So, after our 2 week visit to Fort Lauderdale, we headed up to Orlando.  We had never seen Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Holiday Lights, so we took advantage of our Annual Weekday pass and joined our friends Geoff and Laura for an evening at Disney.  It really is quite impressive!

Here’s the lake at Thousand Trails Orlando:

And these are our new bikes.  It’s a big park and a great place to ride.

And, you probably noticed the beautiful weather!  We can’t help but gloat about being in Florida right now when the country’s weather looks like this:

We also needed to be in the Orlando area because we have some presentations booked at computer clubs in the middle of the state.  Here we are presenting our Facebook seminar at the Lake Henry Computer Club:


Our First Hangout on Air!

We've been wanting to do online webinars for a long time and have been keeping an eye on Google Hangouts as the tool that looks the best for what we want to do.  It's still pretty new, but it seems to be maturing, so we jumped in.  Teaching something about Picasa seemed the most logical first topic and, given the season we're in, I thought making cards would be good.  You can't actually make the cards with Picasa, but you certainly can find and prepare the pictures you want on them.  Then, you can use the File->Order Prints to upload your picture to Walmart, Snapfish, or several other vendors, and they'll make the cards for you.

But, if you're serious about Cards, you need to take a look at Send Out Cards.  I'm always amazed when our friend, Laura Baker, shows me some of the things that Send Out Cards can do.  So, we asked if Laura would like to join us in this experiment, and she said Yes!

People could watch the webinar on their computers – and we even set up a chat area where they could ask questions.  They could also watch on their tablet or smartphone.  Here’s a shot I took of my Android smartphone during the webinar:

We were quite happy with how everything worked.  The Internet connection is the most crucial piece and we were just using our Smartphones as a hotspot with Verizon.  I wrote more about our hangout on our business website.  Click here to read more.

Off to Tampa

We had an appointment for our motorhome to get some service on our problematic slide.  We figured if anybody had the facility and knowhow to fix it for good, Lazydays would.  Our appointment was for December 9.  Here we are in what is affectionately knows as the Bayview campground!  That’s when you sleep in your RV while it’s parked in the Service Bay.

Then, on the 10th, we had a presentation booked at the Greater Tampa Bay Computer User Group.  It’s a small but interested group and they requested a repeat of the “Cloud Computing” seminar that we presented for them last year.  We’ve changed a lot since then, so they didn’t get the same seminar!


So, now it’s December 13 and we’re still here at Lazydays.  In fact, we’ll probably need to leave the RV here for a week or two (we’ll go back to Fort Lauderdale and stay in Mom’s townhouse) so they can completely remove the slide – fix everything that’s wrong – and put it back in.  If you think that sounds like an expensive proposition – you’re right.  The estimate is a rough $5,000. 

I think I’m going to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head.