Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Malibu Beach

After the FMCA rally in Pomona, we wanted to take Lynne to some nice campground before she had to fly back to Oregon. We picked Malibu Beach RV park. The short drive turned out to be pretty long thru all that traffic and I was wondering if this had been a bad idea after all. 
Then we got there!

What a view! Looking out our back window over the Pacific Ocean.

A very nice last night together.

We could just walk down the hill to a fresh seafood restaurant. And, just across the street to take a walk on the beach.

Jim even took this quadcopter video (https://youtu.be/f9vFo6-V5-w) at sunset one evening. Pretty, pretty spot. Not cheap though. I don’t think we’ve ever paid $60 before for a campsite! But, it was worth it. This was our reward for all the work of the last few months.

Monday, March 30, 2015

FMCA Rally in Pomona

This is the 3d time we’ve presented seminars at the FMCA in Pomona. The first was in March, 2006 when we were still working for Coach Connect. The owners of Coach Connect didn’t even come to this one, they left us on our own to run the Wi-Fi hotspot and present the Wi-Fi seminars. The seminar coordinator also asked us to do an additional seminar on communications on the road. After that, Coach Connect didn’t go to the rallies any more, but the seminar coordinator (Mary Ann Crowley) still asked us to come and present anyway. The next time we went to Pomona was February 2008 we were Geeks on Tour by then and we gave Blogging, Picasa, Photo Story seminars in addition to Internet connections on the road. That was also the first time we saw Herman’s Hermits and loved them! So, we were extra excited this year that Herman’s Hermits were performing again.

Here we are presenting one of our seminars this year:

The special thing this year was that we enlisted help at our table. Our good friend Lynne flew down from Oregon and stayed with us. She was a great help both at our table during the day, and for having fun at night!


Here are the two Geeks on Tour and one ‘Geek for a Week” – Lynne always comes up with the best words!

We had a very special parking spot right by the seminar buildings. So we hosted happy hour a couple of evenings. Lots of friends here, Phil and Tracey of TechnoRV, Kim and Don of Harvest Hosts, Curtis of RVillage, and more.

Attendance was down this year, but we still had some nice seminars. Smartphones is the most popular right now. We teach basic terminology as well as demonstrating a few of the ‘oh-wow’ features like the ability to use the front-facing camera to put yourself into a picture that you’re taking of the audience. And, we had the Samsung All Cast device set up so that whatever was on our phone’s screen could be seen on the big screen projected to the audience.

I always especially like it when we teach hands-on workshops. We limit attendance to 20 and have them learn by doing. Here they’re exploring the features of their cameras by doing exercises we give them. Even if they already know the basics of the exercise, they discover other things in the process.

The weather was beautiful and everything went smoothly as planned. The best part for me was Herman’s Hermits playing again. Peter Noone may be getting older but he’s still just as cute as ever, and even cuter when he makes fun of himself for getting old. In one bit he said how exciting it was to be playing at the Fairplex in Pomona … he remembers having a discussion with fellow British musician Mick Jagger that “someday we’ll know we’ve made it, when we play the Fairplex in Pomona!” He had the audience roaring with laughter, and several of us standing in the aisles were dancing up a storm to the music. FUN time.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A week in Palm Springs

Thankfully, the Good Sam rally, which was originally scheduled for this week had to change to February. If it had been held as originally planned, all three of those big rallies would have been this month. It makes me tired just considering the possibility! As it turned out, we ended up with a whole 10 days in between the Escapade in Tucson and the FMCA rally in Pomona.

It's 469 miles from Tucson to Pomona and we have a whole 2 weeks to do it! We looked at the map and realized we could stop one night at our special hot springs in Tonopah again, then we could check in to Thousand trails for 10 days, and still have a day to spare! Yay! We love staying at Thousand Trails because it is a membership park, meaning that, after we pay our annual dues (about $600) we don't have to pay anything when we actually stay at a park. The more we stay, the better the deal. AND, the Thousand Trails at Palm Springs is in a good Verizon area. We did our Internet Show here last fall and it went well. So, we checked in and planned to stay thru 2 Sundays.

We had a special guest along for the ride this time ... Murphy May! Such a personality this dog has! I know why Phil, Tracey, and Ally love him so. They will be meeting us again at Pomona and, meanwhile, they needed to travel by car and stay at friends' houses, so we got to have Murphy for the week.

The Date palms at this place are so remarkable, I just can't stop taking pictures.

And Jim even got out his quadcopter to get some video of them:

I love Google Now! We were just driving around town doing some grocery shopping etc. and my phone with Google Now, just popped up with some 'cards' about happenings nearby. One of those was a concert by Don McClean (American Pie, and Vincent - Starry Night) We love his music and decided to grab the brass ring - almost before the next street light, I tapped the link to buy tickets and we went to a concert the next night. It was GREAT.

We did our two Sunday shows and they went fine ... we taught about using Dropbox on smartphones and tablets. If you're interested, here's Episode 32, and Episode 33. We also did a whole lot of catch up work, and preparation for the next rally.

Have you watched any of "Gone with the Wynns" videos?  They're fantastic! And, they do one for every Thousand Trails park. We happened to click on the one for Thousand Trails Palm Springs. So, we've been here for 9 days and, as I'm watching their video I'm thinking, "We haven't seen any of this!" We gotta do something about that! So, after our show on Sunday we took the afternoon to be tourists. We had lunch on the golf course in Palm Springs, and then we took the Tram up the mountain.  Can you say Photo Op?!

Thanks Jason and Nikki for letting us see what we were missing. We can leave with a clear conscience now!

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Escapade Rally in Tucson

Another big gathering of RVers - this one is for the Escapees RV club. A great group and a lot of our friends here.
We were busy. We had two day-long classes before the rally even started. Hands-on Android and Hands-on iPhone/iPad. Hands-on is absolutely the best way to learn, but teaching a group is always a challenge. We had helpers ... that really helped!
Thanks to Barb Westerfield, Judy Reinheimer, and David Cross who helped in our Android class. And Chris Dunphy and Cherie Ve Ard who helped in our Apple class.

We also try to participate in some of the social and fun activities. One of the first evenings we went to the happy hour hosted by Technomadia to announce, welcome, cheer on, the birth of the Xscapers division of Escapees. This is for the younger, non-retired, still working, group of RVers that is definitely on the rise these days.

And, once it got dark enough, Cherie treated us all to a 'fire dance.' Wow. Here's a little video that Jim took. https://youtu.be/d-kLo0W1oJ4

Then came seminars, we gave two each day for 4 days, and we had really big crowds. The Escapees always prints our handouts for us. They made 75 for each session. Our smallest seminar was 150 (Blogger) and the largest was 424 (Google Maps)!  All our handouts are available to download from our website. Look at the More... menu and you'll see Seminar Handouts listed.

Two Rallies down and one more to go ... FMCA in Pomona coming up!

Here's an aerial video Jim took of the rally grounds.

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Friday, March 06, 2015

Pretty Picacho Peak

We had a few days free in between The Rally in Phoenix, and the Escapade rally in Tucson and we had made reservations at Picacho Peak State park for that time. We figured we would need some peace, quiet and beauty after the hectic time we just finished. Picacho Peak didn't disappoint! My only concern was whether there would be good Internet connection since we did still have work to do in preparation for the Escapade.

So when we saw a facebook post by our friends Chris and Cherie of Technomadia.com that they were staying at Picacho Peak we asked for an Internet report. YAY! they said that both Verizon and AT&T were strong there. So, we breathed a sigh of relief and headed down the road.  In the rain!
We had resesrved a nice pull-thru spot so getting parked was no big deal even in the rain.

We woke up to a dense fog the first morning. It made for some really cool photo ops!

Then, I couldn't resist playing with that photo a bit with Picasa's editing tools and pretending to be Van Gogh! Here's the PicasaGeeks.com article I wrote about how to do this:

But, once the fog cleared, there were even more photo ops! And, we even found a few hours to go for a hike with Chris and Cherie too.

And then came the moonrise! I even grabbed my good camera and the big lens for this one. I was extra thrilled when I focused on a Saguaro and saw a bird perched at the top!

I was so engrossed in the rising moon, I hadn't even noticed the setting sun in the other direction! Luckily I had to turn around to go back to the RV and caught what has to be my favorite iconic desert sunset shot.

Lots more pictures on our web album for March.

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Monday, March 02, 2015

Good Sam Rally at Phoenix International Raceway

We knew we would be busy, but this rally exceeded all expectations. We gave 4 different seminars and each was scheduled twice. People like that because there are so many activities vying for your attention at a rally, they can't always get to the sessions they want - this gave them two opportunities. Our past experience has been that we have much smaller audiences the second time a topic is scheduled, but that didn't happen here. We had standing room only for every seminar except the Facebook ones.

We taught our Picasa seminar twice and every time we we end by making a collage and uploading it to our web albums. That gives me something to post here! We saw lots of new faces, but sure loved seeing the familiar ones as well. Bill and Kris Osborne, and Steve and Karen Fischer were welcomed smiling faces in the front row!

By the end of the rally, we gained 144 new members for Geeks on Tour! We were happy and EXHAUSTED.
And, somehow during that week, I found time to put together our monthly newsletter too.

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