Sunday, February 16, 2014

Roadtreks!

When we left Riverside, we traveled to Thousand Trails Orlando for a few days.  This time of year they are very busy and we were surprised that we were able to get a site at all.  We weren’t going to be picky, we’d take whatever site they had left.  And, take a look at the site we got!  It was big and beautiful!

Site A29 TT OrlandoGeeky Tip: We’ve been playing with QR codes lately and we decided to make a code with the GPS coordinates for this site.  We created this code by using the QRDroid app on Jim’s smartphone.  It allows you to make a code that has latitude and longitude built in, and since it’s on his phone he could just say “Make a QR Code for my current location.”  Give it a try … using a smartphone or a tablet with a QR Code (or barcode) scanner, scan this code and then you should see the actual lat/lon numbers and you can click on “Show Location on Map” or “Get Directions.” Pretty cool huh?  If you don’t know about QRCode scanning, you need to take the Geeks on Tour Smartphone class, or be a member and watch the Barcode scanning video!

We were only there for the weekend and we used the time to prepare for our next “gig” at the Roadtrek rally.  Roadtreks are those great camper vans that have everything, and Roadtrekers like to travel!  We arrived at the Rally a little early since it was only an hour away from where we were. Since we’d been at a Roadtrek rally in this same spot last year, we saw a lot of people we knew.

This was their national rally and there were people there from all over the country.  The first night’s speaker was Charlie Adcock, President of the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Ass’n.)  He was a hoot!  Bearing very good tidings on the current state of affairs of FMCA,  including the fact that the Roadtrek chapter was the 3d largest chapter in FMCA (Monaco #2 and Freightliner #1.)  I snapped several pictures while he was talking, and was pleasantly surprised at the “auto-awesome” picture that Google+ Photos created – it put them together as an animated gif.

The Geeks on Tour session was all morning on Wednesday.  We did our “Technology for Travelers” seminar which is an overview of everything we teach: Internet connections, GPS systems, Google Maps, Smartphones, Picasa, Blogger, Facebook, Movie Maker and whatever questions came from the audience.  This is becoming our most popular seminar – and the one we like teaching the most as well.  It was no problem stretching it into 3 hours instead of our normal 1.5.  In fact, we still didn’t cover all the material.  Obviously, we don’t really teach how to use all of the above in this overview seminar, we just introduce the topic, and I think that’s what so many of them want – like throwing a handful of spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.  For some people it was Blogger, for others it was Streets and Trips and, just about everyone has something they can learn about smartphones.  It’s also good for us because they see how, whichever topic suits their fancy, they can learn more by becoming a Geeks on Tour member and watching the videos.  We welcomed 22 new and renewing members at this rally.

In the afternoon, we hosted Mike Wendland of Roadtreking.com to do a presentation via Google Hangouts on Air.  You see, he was in Michigan at the time.  Google+ Hangouts is our latest favorite Tech Toy.  Think of Skype or Facetime but then add the ability to have up to 10 people visible in the call and also add the fact that the whole thing is automatically recorded and available to view on Youtube immediately after concluding the Hangout! 

We’ve already done a few Hangouts on Air, you can see them on our Youtube channel, but this was the first time we used it in front of a live audience.  One thing that you learn early on in doing Hangouts is that feedback is a problem.  If the sound is coming out of your speakers it is likely also getting picked up by your microphone.  The feedback gets picked up and recycled until the squeal and reverberations are simply unbearable.  Usually, to fix that, you make sure that everyone in the Hangout is wearing a headset.  That way, the sound is going directly into our ears and is not available to be picked up by the microphone.  HOWEVER, then the live audience hears nothing!  OOOOPS!  And, when Jim plugged in the amplified speakers for the audience to hear, OUCH, every word was repeated like we were in an echo chamber and amplified with a squeal.

 

We almost had to scrap the whole thing.  Our plan was for Jim to conduct the hangout from his computer at the front of the room, and for me to join the Hangout from my iPad and be a roving reporter in the room, taking questions from the audience.  What we found was that I had to mute the microphone in the iPad to stop the feedback.  So, questions from the audience weren’t quite audible, but we were able to go on and all in all it was quite successful.  That’s how we learn!  You can see the recording on our Youtube channel: Roadtrek Rally Mike Wendland.  Mike was so impressed with the technology, that, within an hour he had done his own hangout/interview and posted it on his website!  We love spreading technology!

All of our work was done on Wednesday, so we could actually participate in other sessions on Thursday.  I love reading books and am always looking for suggestions, so I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in on the Book circle where they simply went around the circle and each person gave a book title that they had recently read and could recommend.  What a goldmine! 

I was also interested to see that almost everyone had a Kindle or tablet that they used to read their books, but all but one or two were using paper and pen to take notes!  More and more, I am taking all my notes using Evernote on my smartphone, because that’s what I have in my pocket!  Then I can go in to Evernote using my computer and cleaned up the typos etc.  For my book list I even got a few links to the books from Amazon.  If you’d like to see a good list of book recommendations, here are my notes from this Book circle: Recommended Book List  What was my recommendation?  The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

1 comment:

QuiltinLibraryLady said...

Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls is good too.