Saturday, September 28, 2019

Geeks and Teachers

Our work as Geeks on Tour is to teach. We both love technology and I (Chris) love to teach. It is my reason for being. We promote the fact that we teach beginners. We don't assume any knowledge on the part of our audience when we teach. We may not always be teaching beginning topics, but we try very hard to explain everything in beginner terms. 
Some of our followers, our GeeksOnTour.com premium members are actually very advanced technology users. Our most devoted fans are other teachers. They recognize our passion for teaching and use our lessons and materials to help them in their teaching endeavors. We love that.

We met Robin at Sun City Hilton Head, where there is a very active Technology club with over 3,000 members. We'll always stop at Sun City Hilton Head when we're passing thru to see what's the latest, and we did that this year. We had so much fun learning about their latest popular topic of Apple Watches! We missed Robin on our visit though because she has moved to Ohio. So, we vowed to visit with her when we traveled thru Ohio. And we did!



Robin may not be a teacher in a 3,000 person computer club now, but she is still teaching. She is involved in a local Institute for Learning in Retirement, and she has started her own blog about all things Google. A woman after our own hearts. We we so happy to visit while in Ohio.
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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Ohio

When we were planning our tour, we were pretty sure we wanted to go the Roadtrek rally in Massachusetts, and TheTravelClub.com rally in Branson Missouri. That left an opening in our calendar of about a month, and 1,500 miles. We called our contact for APCUG (Ass'n of PC User Group) in Ohio and he said, not to worry, he could get us booked at several computer clubs across Ohio and then a couple in the Chicago area.


This worked out great. We've lost most of our desire for sightseeing in the US. Not that we've seen everything, but I think we have seen everything that was ever on our "want to see" list in the lower 48. That said, we are still impressed with the sights we happen upon while traveling to and from our different gigs. State parks are high on that list. While in Ohio, we stayed in 3 of them.

  1. Alum Creek State Park, just north of Columbus
  2. Dillon State Park just outside of Newark where we were presenting to the Licking County Computer Society. We checked in to this park for 3 whole days! So, Jim set up camp. We even took advantage of some walking trails and rode our bikes over to the lakeshore. It was hilly - thank goodness for electric bikes, I couldn't have done it otherwise.
    We remembered this park from having stayed here during our very first year on the road!







  3. Buck Creek State Park - outside of Dayton, before our presentation to Dayton Microcomputer Ass'n. We were hearing from other RVers that they were encountering "no vacancies" at lots of RV parks. We said, "come to Ohio" this must be the best season here. Very few people in the campground, beautiful weather, wonderful sunset. Nice walking trail along the lakefront.
I still have to pinch myself to believe this wonderful life. Spending time in beauty like these State parks is so nourishing for the soul. It makes me smile, it makes me relax, it makes me focus on the beauty in the world.
Then, the fact that we also get audiences to teach the stuff we're passionate about gives us some purpose. We're not just taking in the gifts of nature, we're also giving back. And, even when we are just relaxing in a beautiful place, we have our computers and tasks to perform like writing our newsletter, and producing our YouTube shows. Life is just Oh So Good.
For the Columbus group, we taught smartphone photography. We made them get out their phones, take pictures of each other and themselves. They learned how important it is to clean the lens. They learned about the HDR setting and the Portrait mode. And we had fun. And, oh yeah, we made sure they knew how to take panoramas!

For the Newark group, we presented our smartphone overview class - What does this button do? We made sure they got out their phones and tried things like taking screenshots, and changing the setting for screen timeout.


They learned how to find a lost phone, and more. This group was unique in our experience because they had a whole building that was theirs for meetings. A clubhouse! How cool. And, they have a practice of videotaping all meetings and presentations. So, you can watch our entire presentation on their YouTube video.

Our last Ohio presentation was to the Dayton Microcomputer where we also did our What does this button do? presentation.

When we were done with that, we found a nearby Cracker Barrel to spend the night before heading off to Chicago. Not as nourishing to the soul as a State Park, but you do get dinner and breakfast!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Computer Clubs and Blogger

Our first stop in Ohio was the Canton computer user group and they asked us to give our seminar on how to use blogger.com to make simple websites, aka Blogs.
This is one of our favorite topics since our life story since 2003 is here on our blog and we use blogger to make it. We also use blogger too make our LearnGooglephotos.com website. Blogger is drop-dead easy and it is completely free. We think it is a wonderful option for clubs.
We had a small group, but they were really interested. I have every expectation that we will see some published blogs from this group in the near future.
It's interesting to note that I am creating this post with the recently updated Blogger Mobile app for Android. It has very few features, but at least those features (typing text and adding photos) work. For quite some time the app has been unusable because it insists on crashing every time you use it.
I am also thrilled to see an updated app because that signals that Google is not abandoning Blogger.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Travel mode and Elks Lodges

After the Roadtrek rally in Massachusetts, we needed to get to our next gigs which were in Ohio. We only had a couple of days to get there so we weren't planning to stay put more than one night anywhere. We were in travel mode - just gotta get there. We often stay in Walmarts and Cracker Barrels when we're in travel mode, but if there is an Elks Lodge with RV parking, that's even better and we found some great ones along our route in New York and Ohio.
How do we find them? Our first goto map is called Allstays, it's an app on iOS. The app has been taken down in the Android version, but we still use it by signing up for the premium version of the website. Here's a video we did on that:

But, we've learned that the RVillage Elks group is even better because RVillage  members sometimes find Elks lodge with RV parking that Allstays misses. Also, the RVillage members post comments and photos about the place. Here's our video on how to find Elks Lodge w RV parking using RVillage:

Anyway - we found two lodges that were great. Here's the map, we needed to get from A to D. B and C are the Elks lodges we found along the way, and they were awesome!

B is in a place known as Canajoharie, aka Nelliston, and it's right on the Mohawk river. It was beautiful. It was also on a dead end road which gave us a nice long walk along the river before dinner. And, speaking of dinner ... that's a great part about staying at Elks, they almost always have a bar, and often have food. This was one of the best - with extremely friendly locals sitting around the bar and welcoming us, and a steak dinner for some ridiculously cheap price, I think it was $12.

A walk along the river - seeing river boats. We looked this one up: Blount small ships adventures



OK, there was one drawback - check out the photo below - if you look close you'll see a train right in front of our van. And, it ran all night. L O U D. But, we can tune it out. 



Next up, we found another Elks Lodge right on the shores of Lake Erie in Ashtabula, Ohio. Another great parking spot and another great dinner. Then, get a load of the sunset!





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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Roadtreks!

Next up after our New York City gig was a Roadtrek International Rally. It was located at a fancy RV Park in Foxborough, Massachusetts called Normandy Farms.

Once you get used to traveling, and living, in these compact RVs you just can't imagine why anyone wants anything larger! It's so much fun to get together with others who agree.


We gathered, ate, partied, and taught our stuff over the course of 5 days.



We especially enjoy making people use the cameras on their phones and discover new features.

We even convinced several in the group to add their photos to a group photo album using Google Photos. Hey! That way we even get some photos of us, even if they aren't always flattering (dancing?)

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Saturday, September 07, 2019

New York City

I just can't imagine living there, but it's always a treat to visit. We were booked to do our Google Photos seminar at Senior Planet on Sep 4. Our Roadtreking friends who live in the Connecticut side offered us their driveway for the Roadtrek and a ride to the train station. THANKS John and Yvonne!

Knowing that our RV was safe was huge! Because of that, we were able to book ourselves an AirBnB in the city and spend a couple of fun days in addition to doing our gig at Senior Planet.


The AirBnB experience was very good. All communication and payment was handled via email. We learned how to pick up the key at a "Key Cafe" at the next door 7-Eleven. It looked like a small set of post office boxes. When you entered the secret code you were given, one of the boxes popped open and your key was inside. We entered the door on the street and climbed a couple flights of stairs to the door of our apartment and were quite pleased with what we saw. This cost us $350 for 2 nights - all totaled. I think the nightly rate was $120 then there were lots of fees and taxes.

I love having a place with a kitchen. There was a Kuerig and coffee for morning, filtered water, and we bought a few items for lunch and snacks. The WiFi was good too!

Of course you want to eat most meals out when you're in NYC because there is so much! We wandered and stopped at an Italian place for lunch.

The Chelsea marketplace was walking distance and that's where the YouTube studios are. I really wanted to take a look at how that works. But when we got to the door - the elevator to the door - there was a guard and you're not even allowed in unless your YouTube channel has at least 10,000 subscribers. Our channel just passed 5,000 :-( So, I guess that is our goal - to pass 10,000 subscribers so we can use the YouTube space production studios someday.

But, all was not lost. We love the Chelsea market. I think I could spend several days in there. And, once you walk all the way thru and come out the other side, you're right at the place to go upstairs to the High Line - a public park made after an elevated train had been abandoned. Nice vibes, great views, good walk.


The next day, we gave our talk at Senior Planet and had an enthusiastic crowd with lots of questions about Google Photos. We've done this talk in this location before, and we had a few people in the audience that we knew from the last time. Cool.



We got this gig because of our friend, Abby Stokes, and we were thrilled that she was in town and able to come by. We then took her back to our apt to share a bottle of wine and catch up. We vowed to get together more - especially since we learned that she is a scuba diver. She likes to dive in Hawaii - we haven't done that, so it's on our calendar now for next year!
What bottle of wine you might ask? Well, we are so happy to find 19 Crimes just about everywhere we go now. We first learned of them in New Zealand and have been fascinated with the augmented reality label. You use an app called "Living Wines" and simply point your phone's camera at the bottle. The label comes to life and you hear about the crimes and punishments from the criminal's mouth. Abby's reaction was priceless.

Abby had to go on to a prior engagement and Jim and I went walking again. We ended up on the river just at sunset. Beautiful.


The next day we made a stop at B&H Photo - OMG - it's a disney-world for Geeks. 2 floors - about a city block large with everything for Lights, Camera, Sound! I had no idea there were so many types of speakers!

We got out of there with most of our bank account in tact, and made our way back to the train station to catch a ride over to Connecticut. Not just any train station ... Grand Central Station. I feel like such a country bumpkin when I'm there!


There's certainly no problem getting your steps in when you're in NYC! And, we made use of the new Augmented Reality feature of Google Maps to make our way around. Google Maps has always been able to give walking directions, but it's hard to know which way you're facing. You often end up walking a couple blocks in the wrong direction before you figure it out. Now, you can turn on the "Live View" and lift the camera so it sees the streets and buildings, then it place big arrows on the actual scene in front of you to let you know which way to turn.

It's still in Beta testing - but the value is obvious.

Taking the train is very pleasant and, when we got back to the Connecticut side, John and Yvonne were waiting for us - no need to call or email because we used the "share location" feature with them for that day. And, we could find them right away because they shared their location with us. Ain't technology sumpin'?!

Not only did they store our RV, shuttle us to the train, but they even fed us! Watch out John and Yvonene, we might be back!


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Sunday, September 01, 2019

Good friends and trees

Ann Meacham used to live in the fort Lauderdale area and we were great friends. I was bummed when she moved to Connecticut, but by then I wasn't in fort Lauderdale much myself, so I let her go (very nice of me dontcha think?) I never knew how much she disliked the hot weather of Florida until she moved and we talked on the phone about how she was falling in love with Connecticut.

Cool weather, lots of birding and hiking and oh my the trees are to-die-for. I did know that she's always been a tree hugger 🌲🌳, now she has a forest right outside her door and I couldn't wait to see it.
We entered her address into our Google maps and headed toward Naugatuck, CT. When we pulled into the parking lot of her condo, she was standing outside to greet us because we used Google maps to share our love location with her. No calls, no texting "well be there in about a half hour." All she had to do was glance at Google maps on her phone and she knew exactly where we were. She saw when we had turned into the road that leads up her hill. We've been using this location sharing so much this trip that I made a tutorial video to teach others.



It was great to see my old friend again. We talked and talked. And we walked in her woods. She was right.

   

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Friends music and sunsets

We visit, and stay, on Long Beach Island in South New Jersey whenever possible. Jim lived there from 1963 to 85. Jim's long time friend, Jimmy Lyon, still lives there and has the best RV driveway camping spot of anywhere in the country. We've been known to stay parked there for over a month but this time we just had one week.
We used the cape May ferry to get from Delaware to New Jersey.

Then we made a stop to see Jim's aunt Julie. Jim's father had 7 siblings. Julie is the only one left. It was heartening to see her doing well.

First on the agenda was music. There is a wonderful tradition of outdoor, live music each night in particular by the bay.

Then the next night, Jim's good friend Tom Pernal was playing at a local bar/restaurant. What joy to see him pursuing his passion.



Lots of people, lots of partying whenever we stay on LBI, but we also found time to do a "Button show" - episode 174 of our YouTube educational show. This time our topic was making movies using a free phone app called FilmoraGo.




When it was time to leave, the RV had other ideas. We made it across the bridge to the mainland, then stopped for gas. After filling up, the RV would not start. We had to get towed to a local GM service facility and leave it there.

Jimmy graciously came and picked us up and took us back to his house.
For the first time in 15 years of doing this, we were unable to make it to our scheduled appearance. We were supposed to be in Connecticut at a meeting of the Trumbull computer club the next night. We weren't going to make it. But we've gotten pretty good at online presentations, and with a few tweaks we were able to set it up so we could present remotely and they hardly even realized that we weren't there.

The following day we were able to pick up our RV with a new 'fuse block' and an $800 bill and get back on our way.