Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Week at the Office

When the Escapade was over, we moved just about 10 miles to Elkhart campground.  Nick Russell of Gypsy Journal newspaper and Big Lake mystery series fame, announced he was going to present a free one-day workshop on self-publishing at Elkhart campground and I wanted to attend.  We have one book on Amazon – our Beginner’s Guide to Picasa – but I have a lot of others I want to produce, and Nick has the experience.


My plan is to create a series of “Learn with Geeks on Tour …” eBooks.  I have a lot of work ahead of me, and I hung on every word Nick said.  Especially about marketing.  “Writing a book is the easy part,” Nick said, “Marketing is where the work begins. You must market EVERY DAY.”  I enjoyed his workshop and, as a thank you, I put together this little video ( that I hope he can use to help his marketing efforts:

We know that he’s done a lot for our marketing efforts.  A large percentage of our Geeks on Tour members first heard about us from Nick’s blog

Also in the park was Curtis Coleman, founder of RVillage.  We’ve written about RVillage before.  It’s a social network for RVers where you can see where everyone (7500 members and growing) is located on a map.  We hope to use RVillage to arrange get togethers and classroom sessions for our Geeks on Tour members, so we welcomed the opportunity to get to know Curtis and learn more about RVillage.  We suggested that we use Google+ Hangouts on Air to record a video all about RVillage.  Here is the first video interview of Curtis, it’s about 40 minutes long.  Then, here’s the short version: Intro to RVillage.  Chris and Cherie of Technomadia are also part of the RVillage team.  Cherie made this short intro video, and then they did an hour long video chat with Curtis.  

Here’s our “recording studio.”


Here we all are, along with John and Kathy Huggins of Living the RV Dream.  They do a weekly podcast about the RV lifestyle and they have thousands of listeners.  It occurred to me that this felt a little like an office happy hour!  It is so rare that we are in a group of people who all are working and using the Internet and their websites to run their business.  It brings another level of camaraderie to a get together.



Thursday we had a remote seminar scheduled for a Good Sam club in Massachussetts.  The topic was Cloud Computing.  We planned to use Google+ Hangouts for that as well.  We got all set up, including our own cloud!

Our contact, Bob Brown from the Mass Good Sam club, was instrumental in getting us started with remote presentations.  We’ve presented to his group 2 or 3 times before over the last 4 years.  This time, we got connected, went thru some sound checks and a few other things, but the connection kept dropping out.  After about 30 minutes of frustration, we finally decided to give up.  We had sent Bob some videos beforehand as a backup.  We heard from him later that a storm went thru their area and all Internet, even Cellphone service was out for a couple hours.  He showed the videos to his group and he said that went well.  Bob feels like a part of our team even though we’ve never met face-to-face.

Cloud Computing has become a very popular topic.  More and more of the groups where we speak are requesting that, even though it’s not really one of our topics.  We specialize in teaching about Picasa, Blogger, Google Maps, and other tools to Plan, Preserve, and Share your travels.  But, we do use Dropbox – a Cloud storage service – a lot, and recommend it all the time.  So I used the scheduled remote seminar as motivation to record a video about Dropbox synchronizing, and Cloud Computing.  This was a tricky video to make because I wanted to show “Device Independence.”  During the video I switched from my Windows computer, to my Android phone, to my iPad, and to my Macintosh.  I recorded the Windows computer with Camtasia for Windows, and the Macintosh with Camtasia for Mac.  I record the Android phone using the iPad, and the iPad using the Android phone!  Then, I had Jim record the live video with our Canon camera and external microphone.  That way I could use one sound track across all the various demos.  And, the recording was just the beginning … then I had to put it all together in the editor!  Whew!  I doubt that any of you really wanted to know all this TMI? Smile but I wanted to write it down for posterity! I’m not going to put a link here because this is a members-only video.  If you are a member, you can watch it under “Recent Videos.”


Next up was doing some work on our websites.  Two of our most loyal members, David Cross and Bill Osborne, were staying in the park this week and we asked them if they would help us review the website and see where there were places that it should be redesigned.  Jim visited each of them in their RV at their computers and took them thru the paces.  I stayed at my computer and made the fixes.  It was kinda like a usability study!  There’s still a lot of work to be done – a website is always a work in process – but it helped a lot to get David and Bill’s perspective.  Then, wouldn’t you know … right in the middle of these ‘usability studies’, our website was unavailable – some kind of major server crash at our host and you just got a 404 error when you tried to go to ^@%$^$!@&*@  So, the guys came over to laugh at me.  (It was back online within an hour.)

Jim used David and Bill as guinea pigs too.  He wanted to practice multi-user Hangouts on Air.  Chris and Cherie also partcipated.  Google+ Hangouts on Air opens up so many possibilities for group interaction online.  It’s like having your own TV studio and remote camera trucks.  AND, it’s quite easy.  IF you start it the exact right way – you must follow the recipe to the letter – or the cake falls flat!  Well, Jim was experimenting, and it didn’t work!  We spent nearly an hour trying to make it work.  Jim was in our ‘studio’ and I was a remote participant on my iPad that has it’s own cellular connection to AT&T.  This way I could stay connected with Jim’s hangout and actually walk over to each other participants RV and see what was happening on their screens!  I could even turn the camera around to focus on their screens and Jim could see what was going on.  He finally figured it out, we started all over again and it all worked great – but we had lost the will to chat by then!  Many lessons learned thanks to our team! (most important is to start the hangout as a profile, not a page)

Here’s another “Office” happy hour photo.  But this wasn’t happy hour – it was later, after Technomadia’s video chat with Curtis.  We watched the video live from our computers, then walked over to their coach afterwards with our wine to talk about technology!  I believe this picture shows when Curtis was online with remote team members and they had just discovered that the host servers for RVillage had gone down.  We had a good laugh over that one!  We weren’t laughing at them, we were laughing with them!  Fellow workers commiserating over our trials and tribulations with getting technology to do our bidding.


It was so fun to have “fellow workers” this week.  We learned a lot, and got a lot done.  We also had a lot of fun! 

Office fitness is important!  Here I am taking advantage of the company gym … Cherie’s hula hoop.


Here’s the amazing Saturday night office party!  All made possible by RVillage – how else would all these people traveling in RVs know when and where to show up?


note to self: I must post to the blog more often!  These epics take too long to write … and to read too!


Rick and Kathy Rousseau said...

It is definitely easier to post more often so the events are still fresh in your mind and like you said it remains a shorter post.
Glad we could attend more of your seminars again and hope to see you further down the road. Be Safe and Enjoy!

It's about time.

Trisha said...

Wow, you are all boggling my mind with all this technical stuff that I so want to learn. Wish I was somewhere where there was a live seminar. Never seems to happen, though. Just joined RVillage today thanks to Nick Russell's link this a.m. in Gypsy Journal. Could not start my day without it.

Technomadia said...

What a fun time.. and so thoroughly enjoyed getting to hang with you guys more!

Steve and Karen said...

Once again, it was great meeting up with you and Jim. The technology just keeps marching forward!
Hope to see you guys again this winter out west.

Janice L Evans said...

We had the privilege of meeting John and Kathy Huggins at their next stop in Michigan. . .seem like really great, hardworking folks. . .

Look forward to your journey into E-Books. . .that is the direction I would like to go with my children's ministry based writing!


David Cross said...

It was great seeing you guys again and playing guinea pig. We sure enjoyed seeing you two, John & Kathy Huggins, meeting Bill & Kris Osborne who have been virtual friends for over 3 years and Curtis from RVillage, Cherie & Chris from Technomadia as well as many, many more friends there.

Jodee Gravel said...

"Love what you do and you'll never work a day in your life...." We don't have to work when we hit the road next year, but now I think maybe we might want to - even the crashes sound like fun when you're hanging "at the office!"

Bill Osborne said...

After Boot Camp, it all started with a hug from you at your first seminar. And it was all up hill from there. This has been our best two and a half weeks since we've been on the road for 15 months. It took 9 blog posts to show that. Thank you for what you and Jim did for Kris and me. This post did exactly what you wanted it to do! See you in the cloud downloads and also down the road. Godspeed Jim and Chris Guld.

Syed Kazim Ali said...

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Erick Brooks said...

Wow! You must have had such a great time. I do agree with Nick, though, seeing as how it really is easier to write a book. However, marketing will always be another thing, considering that eBooks are now the rage and less and less people read actual books. You've been with the guys on Living the RV Dream as well? Wow! It's so great that you guys decided to learn about Cloud Computing, seeing as it's all the rage among offices these days and how everyone is starting to migrate to Cloud computing. Anyways, thanks for sharing and take care always. :D

Erick Brooks @ Ripple Web