Sunday, February 26, 2017

Faywood Hot Springs

Next stop along our route was a favorite. We've been here before and have more photos and description on our past blog post. We love hot springs.

We had a nice soak at night and then again in the morning before getting back on the road.

Further your computer education**Subscribe to the Free Geeks on Tour Newsletters**

Watch our Weekly Online Show on Learning Smartphones and Tablets!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Staying at the Ranch

Whenever we know we're driving through Texas we make a point of stopping in Waco to see our old friend, Frank Drew. It feels funny to refer to him as an old friend because we met him when we started RVing, but that was 14 years ago. Even more than the years, it's the feeling of being family that makes me call him an old friend.

He was actually our boss for 2003-5. His company was Coach Connect and they had big plans for Wi-Fi in RV parks all over the country. Our job was to visit all the RV parks where they had installed Wi-Fi and teach the park staff and current residents how to use it. We also presented the Coach Connect seminars at the big rallies, FMCA and Good  Sam. .
With Frank (at Jim's right) and the Coach Connect crew at our first Rally in 2004
Jim in the Coach Connect Austin office in 2005
Jim was their second level tech support, he handled all the phone calls from people who were having problems connecting to the internet. He was quite good at it, but I don't think anyone could call it fun

Because of Coach Connect we spent a lot of time in Austin and got to know Frank and his family. Our first Thanksgiving was with Frank's family at his parents house in Austin. 

By 2006 coach connect was no more, and geek's on tour was born. Frank now has a company (Hey Cupcake) that sells cupcakes from food trucks. He really enjoys having happy customers now, as opposed to being yelled at all the time by wifi customers.

Frank has since gotten married and has a little daughter. We feel part of this new family too since one of their first dates was dinner at our motor home at an RV park in Austin.

We were thrilled when it worked out to stop for a day and visit. Frank suggested we park at the ranch. What a beautiful spot.

He took us for a tour around the property and even let Jim drive. 

We met some cows and horses and Jim flew his drone over the house and the river. Video later.

We even got to stop by Mom and Dad's on our way out of town.

It's always good to see you Frank! We want you to come visit us in Florida sometime. We'll take you scuba diving.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

We always make reservations when we travel

Planning is not our strong suit. Winging it is more our style.

We left fort Lauderdale a week ago. Our first stop is Green Cove Springs, near Jacksonville, where our mail forwarding service is located. Jim ordered a new drone and it just got delivered there so we stopped to pick it up. We used our Allstays app and found a Cracker Barrel where we can park overnight. It's great, you get dinner and breakfast.

Then we got on the I-10 Interstate highway which will take us all the way to the west coast of these united States, nearly 3,000 miles. Our reason for this trip is to present our seminars at the FMCA convention in Chandler Arizona, and the Escapee's RV club Escapade in Tucson. In other words, we're going to work. Here's the basic plan, as laid out in Streets and Trips

Driving the interstates is the easiest and most comfortable way to travel when you're in a big rig, towing a car. I-10 across northern Florida is actually quite scenic as well. 

Sometime after lunch, a tuna sandwich that I make while Jim continues driving, I look at a map and determine where we might want to stop for the night. Hmmm, we could make it into Alabama. There's an  Escapees park that we've heard is nice down by gulf shores. We could even stay 2 nights and give him a chance to fly his new drone and drive to gulf shores too. I called for "reservations" saying we would be there in 2 hours. No problem, come on down!

Back on the road, i-10 thru mobile, across the Mississippi at Baton Rouge, thru the Atchafalaya swamp. By now it's starting to get dark, so I look at allstays to find the next Walmart where we can park.

We want to stop in Waco Texas to visit our friend Frank and his family. That is now clearly 2 days away, so we call him to make arrangements. He says Tuesday is better than Wednesday and we can park at his family's ranch. Cool. So, we just need one night in between. 

Texas is the land of Thousands Trails. This is a membership park system that we belong to. We pay about 600/yr whether we use it or not. So we need to use it. I got online using their website and made a reservation for one night at Lake Conroe.

One night at the Frank family ranch was just delightful. I'll write a Separate post on that.

Back on the road and Jim was into driving, so we made it to just after dark again. Pulled off at a rest area, cranked up the generator and made dinner. I used ear plugs to soften the sound of the semis and we slept well.

We don't need no stinkin' reservations!

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Teach and Learn - Google Photos

This week we're staying at Riverside RV Resort in North Port, Florida. This is where the Peace River gets wider in preparation for emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. It is beautiful here. This is the 3d year that we've been invited to stay and do a "Geek Week" giving some of our seminars and classes.

Yesterday was an all day, all night, Google Photos day. In the afternoon we had a 3 hour personalized teaching workshop for 4 people with iPhones.

I love these small groups because I really get to connect with individual questions and learn what is important to people and how they learn.

And, I am challenged with each different phone and each student's goals. For example, Pat had an iPhone 6+ and that camera had the live photo feature where it takes 3 seconds of video along with the still photo. She wanted to be able to isolate one frame of the video portion as the still. I've always thought this should be the main purpose of the live photo, but in practice it can't be done. I promised to figure it out and write it up in our newsletter. I have figured out one way, but I'm still looking for a better way. It will be in our February newsletter. When it's done, you'll find it on our Newsletters page.

Then last night we presented a Google Photos seminar to the Sarasota technology user group. STUG. It was an hour drive, and we only had one hour on the agenda, but it was well worth it! I love these big groups because I feel all the energy. I get to show my excitement for the Google Photos product and I don't have to deal with any of the problems because we're only showing my phone, not dealing with any of theirs.

When you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice, the true essence of the orange. When you stress a person, you get their true nature. Or at least that is what I believe.

This seminar stressed us. We were already tired from the day, there was no time for jim to set up equipment because there was another seminar immediately before us. Jim had to set up while the previous presenter was still talking. And this class takes plenty of set-up. A computer, projector, sound system for computer. HDMI cable to project the iPhone screen, document camera to project the Android phone screen. While Jim was doing that, I recruited volunteers to pass out the paper handouts and got mentally prepared to present two hours of material in one hour.

It went great.

We felt squeezed, and our essence came out. Jim was ready with our standard PowerPoint introduction displayed, but I threw most of that out in order to get straight to demonstration. He joked with the audience as he deftly took each demo I threw at him and projected it on the big screen, bouncing between iPhone, Android, and computer. I let my passion show and boiled down all the features of Google Photos to get across the message that this is a game changer in the life of a photo taker. You can see the seminar description here.

We couldn't take all their questions, for lack of time, but we took enough to know that they were engaged. And there were some great questions.

At the end, we got raucous applause, and nearly 20 people were lined up to buy our book and/or become a member of Geeks on Tour. How cool is that?

After the meeting we had time to talk to people and one woman told me how it distressed her that Google Photos knows her face and she didn't like the fact that I took pictures of the group which I might post on Facebook ... or Blogger! I told her there's just not much you can do about other people taking your photo in public places. But, when someone asks not to be photographed, the photographer should honor the request.

I made sure that she is not in the photo above ... but she is in some of the other photos that I like, which got me to thinking ... how do I blur a face? I have a tutorial on how to blur a face with Picasa. I know it can't be done with Google Photos, but how about the companion photo editor Snapseed?  Hmm, I'll work on that one too! I did find out how to do it, but it doesn't blur it enough ... the healing tool makes her totally unrecognizable, but it looks a little funny. I see another tutorial in the works!