Thursday, September 29, 2016

Geeks go to Google - Part 1 Golden Gate

Google invited Chris to attend a conference at their headquarters in Mountain View, CA (just south of SF)  on Sept 29-30. We would be flying from Florida, so we figured on making a trip out of it.
The Golden Gate Computer Society is a computer club just north of SF where we've presented seminars in the past; 2013 and 2014. So we contacted them and set up a Google Photos seminar and a Learn-by-Doing smartphone photography class this time. We had one free day in the San Francisco area first and boy did we luck out with the weather! We rented a car at the airport and drove straight to the waterfront. We walked to Pier 39, grabbed a bite to eat and hopped on a Harbor Cruise.

Days like that on San Francisco Bay are simply unheard of! We were so lucky.

Then we headed north, over the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County. We found a motel, and got our rest. The seminar was the following evening, so we still had a day to be tourist. We discovered - because of Facebook - that our RVing friends Rusty and Tony, were at home in Sausalito. We love visiting them on their deluxe houseboat! The last time we saw them, they had just bought their RV and hadn't started traveling yet - now they had a couple years under their belts and we had a lot of stories to swap. It was great to catch up! You can see more pics of their place from the last time we were here in 2003.

 Then came the seminar and the class with Golden Gate Computer Society:

Then we headed south. We still had one more night before the Google event started and my friend, Arynne recommended taking the coastal route and staying at the Montara Lighthouse Hostel. What?!?! There's a place to stay right on the ocean by San Francisco for less than $300/night?? Oh Yea! We paid $86 for a private room. It wasn't much bigger than the bed, but it had a window overlooking the cliffs and the surf!

I think I stayed in some Hostels in my college days, but I never considered them these days! Yes, they still exist! The delightful young woman at the front desk said they were all over the world, and they all offer private rooms now, not just the dormitories I remember from my younger days. She got my wheels turning, think this might be a good way to visit Australia! And, while we enjoyed our capuccino in the common dining area, we met a fun woman with a drone - she asked Jim's help to get it working. And we learned about the Hostels where she stayed in Northern California that she said were even nicer than this!

Montara Lighthouse is just north of Half Moon Bay. If you've ever visited, you know that their claim to fame is Pumpkins! We're here at the perfect time!

And then we met my old California friends Arynne, and Lanz for lunch at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. It's a tough life, but someone's got to do it!

All right. Next up Google.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Home in Fort Lauderdale

After our summer tour of about 4,000 miles, we are back in Florida, and back in our townhouse in Fort Lauderdale. We learned that our Air Conditioning had died while we were gone. That's OK, it's not hot here ...........
We called whoever we could find and paid whatever they asked to get that fixed ASAP!

We did Episode 94 of our Live "What Does This Button Do" Show in Air conditioned comfort, with blazing fiber-optic Internet, a big desk, and all our technology in one room where it can be set up and stay! Ahhhh.
Hmm, am I sounding like I'm getting tired of being on the road? Maybe a little. But leave me home for more that a few weeks and I'll sound tired of that too! I love them both!
We didn't have much time at home because we were scheduled to fly to California for Chris to attend the Google Top Contributor's conference (yes, waaay cool.) We had a lot of work to catch up on ... Chris wanted to get the first edition of her Google Photos book done before going to Google, but when we woke up Monday morning to a flat calm, perfect for kayak diving, day - we had no choice. We had to go.

And, of course, we had to visit Chris' mom. She may not know who we are, but she likes anyone who will take her for ice cream!

And, HEY! I did get the book done. It's not ready for prime time yet - but it's ready to give out to some folks at Google and get their feedback.

This is our view on our morning walk just about a mile around a circle by our townhouse. You gotta agree, this ain't a bad place to be!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Live Broadcast from Walmart Parking Lot Studios!

We were scheduled to present a Google Photos seminar to the Quad Cities Computer Society in Moline, Illinois on Monday night.


imageWe were in our RV in New Jersey, and Monday was a travel day for us. We left the Jersey shore and headed south to go home to Florida. We planned to spend the night at an Elk’s Lodge in New Castle, Delaware after a stop near Atlantic City to visit with Jim’s Aunt Julie.

If you don’t know, many Elks lodges offer parking for their RVing members. We became Elks members during an Escapees RV Rally in Gillette, WY and, using our Allstays App to find them, we have stayed at many of them all over the country! We arrived at the Elks Lodge about 4:30 – perfect! We needed to go live on the web about 7:30 to present our seminar using Youtube Live Streaming services. We’ve stayed at this Elks Lodge before and really liked it. They have a nice big parking lot and one electric hookup for an RV. We were the only RV there.


As soon as we pulled in to their parking lot we started checking our phones for Verizon signal. We have an unlimited data contract with Verizon and we find they usually have the best speeds of any service wherever we are. We turn our phones into hotspots, I connect my computer to my “Mrs. Geek” phone hotspot and Jim connects his computer to his “Mr. Geek” phone hotspot. To do a Youtube Live Streaming event you need a fast Internet connection and plenty of bandwidth. We can easily burn thru a couple of Gigabytes during an hour show.

As I mentioned, we’ve stayed at this Elks Lodge before- on our way north in July – and I remembered there being good Verizon Internet signal here. Unfortunately, I have discovered that trusting my memory is a bad idea! I was only seeing 1 bar of 4G on my phone, Jim was down to 3G on his! A speedtest by Ookla showed less than 1Mbps – not nearly enough! This won’t work. We turned around and headed out in search of better Verizon signal.

We found a Walmart not too far away (also using our Allstays app!) and saw 5 bars of 4G and 16Mbps of upload speed! That will do (upload is more important than download for broadcasting.)  Now to park and crank up the generator for electricity. Then to get the “studio” set up. We usually don’t put out the motorhome slides when we’re in a Walmart parking lot. It’s not good ‘etiquette’ to set up camp for an overnight parking lot stay. But there just isn’t enough room for everything with the slides in, so we compromised, parked in such a way that the one necessary slide was on the curb side and we put it out.

All looked good, and we connected with our audience with plenty of time to spare. Just as Jim was about to click the button to “Go Live” his phone’s hotspot crashed. No clue why. He quickly connected to the MrsGeek hotspot and we continued on! We demonstrated Google Photos for about 40 minutes then took questions from the audience. Somehow Chris’ microphone went missing early on, where DID our stage manager go?

Although we had a live audience in Moline, Illinois, anyone in the world could have tuned in because of the way Youtube works. For a worldwide broadcast from our RV in a Walmart parking lot – I think we did pretty good! Since Youtube automatically records, you can watch the presentation now if you’d like by clicking on the image below.


Here’s what Judi, the president of Quad Cities Computer Society wrote to us afterwards,

Chris, thanks to you and Jim.  As always you did a great job and we really, really appreciate your time and effort.

I am sorry I did not interrupt you once I suspected there was a microphone problem.  I thought at first it was a volume problem and turned up the speakers.  But we did hear through Jim's Mic and I think being able to listen to the recorded version will help catch anything that I missed.

Your presentation helped me a lot and the book is a great resource. I know now MY confusion was about the computer not syncing like the mobile devices and the book lets me read and re-read about the correct methods for deleting photos from each source.

You guys are the best--your dedication to teaching is remarkable and NEEDED by so many of us "older" adults.  I hope you continue for many more years.

Thanks Judi! Let’s do it again sometime!

Here’s a photo of our Walmart Parking Lot Broadcast Studio.


p.s. I’m writing this blog post from another Walmart parking lot! In North Carolina now.

Monday, September 12, 2016

LBI Family and Friends

We're always happy when our travels allow for an extended stay on LBI - Long Beach Island, New Jersey. This is where Jim lived during high school years. Most people would say he grew up here, but he says he never grew up!
This is our favorite parking spot in the whole country, and we had wonderful weather most every day for 2 weeks. The sunsets are unmatched!

And the Jersey tomatoes were plentiful.

No trip to the island is complete without a visit to Old Barney - Barnegat Lighthouse. This time we rode our bikes, about a 14 mile round trip, and got there with perfect timing to photograph the lighthouse with the sunset coming thru the light. Planning is everything!

We also had a treat in that the America - a replica of the Racing Yacht that gave the America's Cup it's name - was docked nearby. More photo ops!

Now here's a story that Jim needs to tell one day. For now, I'll let your imagination fill in the blanks.

But, there is some pretty cool video he took first!

On our last day on the island, Jim's high school class held an informal reunion.

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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Architecture Cruise Around Manhattan

Our friend Dee told us about this New York City Architecture Cruise
We had a day between teaching gigs at Senior Planet in the city and this was a great way to relax and learn more ourselves.

It was a perfect September afternoon for a boat ride.

We were welcomed aboard the gorgeous 1920's themed yacht Manhattan II and cast off for our nearly three-hour tour. 

Our captain gave us the required Coast Guard safety briefing and turned us over to our fantastically knowledgeable guide, Joseph Lengeling, a member of the American Institute of Architects. He kept up an entertaining narration for the entire circumnavigation of the island of Manhattan. 

We were amazed at his expertise about old and new skyscrapers, architects names and dates, residential architecture, bridges, Art Deco and Beaux Arts styles as well as waterfront parks and infrastructure through the years. He told stories of history, biography, design and current events with an enthusiasm that showed his love of the subject. All without notes!

We had great views the entire tour. We took lots of pictures and met some nice folks.

We circumnavigated Manhattan!
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge (George Washington Bridge)
We were treated to a complimentary beer, wine, or champagne and enjoyed some tasty snacks provided by the fine crew of two. 

You can't beat this tour for value. 5-Stars! Highly recommended. We'll be back.

Here is a link to more of our pictures. Enjoy!

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Saturday, September 03, 2016

FixClip Review by Jim Guld

Here is a product that is new to me and I think is very useful. It is an innovative upgrade of the venerable clothespin.

We regularly get requests to review products in exchange for discounts. I usually reject them unless I think they are interesting to our readers.

The holding power of the FixClip is nothing short of amazing. We tested them on a boat traveling 40 MPH. We attached some towels to the guardrails using regular clips and FixClips and opened ‘er up. The regular clips didn’t hold. The towels ended up on the deck.
The towels secured with FixClips stayed on.

If the wind never blew, they wouldn’t be necessary. But If you live in or travel to windy places, you will find a use for this handy clip to keep your towels, clothes, and work-rags secure. They can be used to hang lights, too. We went on a live-aboard dive trip last year and took old style plastic clips. Not this year. FixClips will be in our gear bags.

They come in packs of six, are made of high-tech plastic, and seem very strong and durable. There are no metal springs to rust.
They are great for the beach or around the pool and yard.
Give them a try..

Here is their Demo Video Link
Here is a Link to Purchase

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