Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Decade of The Geeks

I've gone down the rabbit hole of looking at our memories for the last 10 years and I'm realizing what a significant decade it was ...

Our First Smartphones

Although the iPhone came out in 2007, it required an AT&T contract and we were dedicated to Verizon, so we had to wait for the first smartphone on Verizon. That happened to be the Android-based phone by Motorola, called "Droid." It came out at the end of 2009 and we both got one.
Here's what we said in our 2010 year-end Newsletter:

Jim just got a new phone for 2020 - The Google Pixel 4XL, not realizing it was exactly 10 years ago that he got his first phone. We dug it out of the drawer so we could take a photo.
Jim's first phone and his most recent

A few of Chris' phones over the years, starting with her Droid 1
As people who are passionate about learning new things, we're sure in the right field with teaching technology! There's something new to learn and teach every day with these.

Riding the Picasa Wave

Picasa, the computer photo management software from Google was the most popular thing we ever taught. Here is our record-breaking live audience for an Introduction to Picasa seminar in August of 2010.
I wrote a book on Picasa, and everywhere we went, we were known for teaching Picasa. In 2009 Google invited us to present a joint webinar on Picasa. It's still available on YouTube.
That all came to an end when Google discontinued the Picasa software in 2016. By then, we had created over 100 tutorial videos on Picasa, a couple hundred articles, and had presented dozens, maybe hundreds of seminars.
Time to move on to Google Photos - Google's Cloud-based photo management system. But, somehow, I don't think it will ever be quite the same as our Picasa teaching days.

Gabbing with the Geeks

In 2010 we started doing little video segments called "Gabbing with the Geeks", the predecessor to our current live YouTube show "What Does This Button Do?"
Here are our first 3 episodes - they're just a few minutes each:











Our Website

2010 was when we first unveiled our website based on the WordPress platform. Before that (2007-10) our membership system was based on code I wrote using Coldfusion (yikes) and a straight HTML website built with Dreamweaver. Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of myself for having built that, but, a coder I am NOT. To see what our website looked like back then, here's a link to the Wayback Machine and a page from GeeksOnTour.com in 2008.

Our Homes

In 2010 we were still living full time in our first ever motorhome, a 30 foot, no slides, class C.
Our first motorhome, we called Oh Boy! and lived in it fulltime from 2003-2011

We traded in on our 2d motorhome, and called it "Big Boy" We lived in that fulltime from 2011-2017

In 2017 we were able to trade Big Boy in for - you guessed it - "Little Boy" We now live in a townhouse in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and use this little RV to take us to RV rallies about 4 months of the year. 
In addition to RV Travel, we started to travel Internationally in 2015.
2015: UK, Belgium, Cuba
2016? 
2017: Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Berlin
2018: Grand Cayman Islands
2019: Australia, New Zealand
2020 plans: Liveaboard dive trip in the Maldives (Indian Ocean) with a stopover in Dubai.

What does this Button Do?

As we slow down a bit with our RV travels, that means we are going to fewer RV rallies. But, we get to do our teaching now thru our Live Streaming YouTube show - What Does This Button Do? Our very first episode was in June of 2014.
We are now on episode 183! You can see them all at GeeksOnTour.com/weeklyshow

I can't wait to see what the next decade brings!



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Sunday, November 17, 2019

Comfortable Anywhere

Chris is working on a remote class on Snapseed for tomorrow so she told me I had to make a post.
We're in beautiful Denver, Colorado for a couple more days before heading back to warm South Florida.

Chris and I were walking back to our airb&b from a fine experience at Tavern Lowry, even though the Dolphins lost (again.)

I was marveling at the fact we've done this all over the world.
Walking back to our temporary lodging or RV site from a sports bar or some foodie/drinkfest. What an incredible life we have! Are we citizens of the world, or what? Everything feels somehow familiar wherever we happen to be.

Where else in the world have we made this stroll together? In addition to every state in the lower 48 and parts of Alaska and Canada, the Bahamas, Ireland, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turks and Caicos, Fiji, UK, France, Belgium, Cuba, Bonaire, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Germany, Cayman Islands, Australia, and New Zealand. Whew!

We presented a couple of sessions for the new Senior Planet Center in Denver about technology and Google Photos last Friday. It was fun. I say "we" but we all know Chris does all the work. She's an excellent teacher and had a receptive audience. She received some nice evaluations and autographed a bunch of her books, Mrs. Geek's Guide to Google Photos!
I love the Art Deco everywhere in the suite. I chose this place for the price and location. It is close walking distance to excellent food or 7-Eleven.


 Here are some shots from around Senior Planet.

The Rocket is on top of an Ice Cream Stand. It was art at Burning Man, we were told.

 Senior Planet is adjacent to Wings Over the Rockies Museum.

I plan on visiting.





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Friday, October 11, 2019

We found Wakanda

We had several days to get to our next gig. From Moline to Brandon  450 miles. We consider that 2 days of driving, so I started looking for an overnight stop somewhere about halfway and found a casino. Along the way, when we crossed over the Mississippi River, we saw lots of flooding, so we went surprised when we arrived at the casino and learned the RV parking area was closed due to flooding. We stopped for dinner anyway as we checked the map and asked for recommendations for camping.

Wakonda state park is just down the road and we were assured that it was on higher ground and not affected by flooding. Cool.

As we checked in we remarked on our good luck for finding such a nice state park when our planned parking spot had been flooded out. We also had to make some jokes about Wakanda Forever, and how we couldn't wait to tell everyone that Wakanda was a real place after all. I still can't decide if their blank stare was because they were bored with that tired joke, or that they were unaware of the magical country called Wakanda from the black panther movie. Come to think of it, I hadn't seen a movie theatre in many miles.

It was a beautiful campground, very peaceful, and really good internet from at&t so we stayed another night, and I was able to use Zoom to make an appearance at a Google Photos class in Wisconsin and answer their questions. It works so good. It really will make it possible to do more and more work remotely. Meanwhile, we just enjoyed relaxing in our comfy camper and taking walks in the magical forests.





Chris Guld
GeeksOnTour.com
   

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Quad cities club and photo walk

Vicki at the quad cities computer club is the one who started it all. Before Vicki contacted us back in 2011 we had no idea that these computer clubs exist. Come to find out there's an organization called Association of PC User Groups - APCUG.org. Because of Vicki we got on the list of speakers for computer clubs Nationwide, and those clubs have been the bulk of our appearances this summer.
We've been back to Quad Cities Computer Club several times. We will always visit them if we are anywhere in the vicinity. The club has since disbanded, but we still visit as friends.
Ironically, after all my teaching on smartphone photography, Vicki credits me with introducing her to SLR cameras

This year, they got the gang together for dinner and we parked overnight in Vicki's driveway before joining them for a Scott Kelby worldwide photo walk in the morning. It was a bit of a rainy and dreary morning, but it made for interesting shots along the Mississippi.





   

Friday, October 04, 2019

Working in Chicago

Not everyone would call it "working" but it is what we do. We had 2 live appearances scheduled during our Chicago stay and one YouTube show.

A morning class

On Saturday morning, we presented a "What does this button do?" seminar to the CAEUG computer club. It is a very small group, in fact, they didn't really believe we were coming to such a small group. But it turned out to be one of my favorite meetings of the tour. Maybe the personalities, maybe because it was in the morning (most are at night, when I'd rather be at home in my PJs with a glass of wine) - for whatever reason, it was a lively, fun, meeting. They say they learned a lot.

Live-Streaming our YouTube show

Next we delivered episode 176 of our "Button" show on YouTube. The topic was How to make a map with Google My Maps. We live-streamed it from the back of our Van - "Studio R" for Roadtrek!



A few days off

We had a few days to kill before our next presentation, so we needed to find a comfortable place to stay. What are the odds of finding a pleasant campground in the metropolitan Chicago area? Slim and none I'd say - so we were very pleasantly surprised to find Camp Bullfrog Lake on the west side of Chicago, right where we needed to be. What a pleasant respite.


40 Years later ...

With all its problems, I still love Facebook for how it keeps me in touch with old friends. Even friends I haven't seen for 40 years. Randy and I went to High School together in Florida. She moved to Chicago area some time ago. Because of Facebook I saw that she was cruising in Italy and returning to Chicago right now - while we are there. She asked where we were and, when I told her, she made arrangements to drive over and visit. How cool?! We had to talk fast to catch up on 40 years!

The last Chicago gig

Our final computer club presentation was for the Westside Chicago Computer Society. They had a nice turnout for our Google Photos seminar.

Now it's time to head south!

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Friday, September 27, 2019

Chicago Lakeshore

After completing our Ohio gigs, the next stop was Chicago. I noticed a Harvest Host location - a brewery - just on the south side before getting into Chicago. Sounds good! We like our beer - and then we can just walk out to the parking lot to sleep! The beer was really good too. It was interesting how they arranged for food. No kitchen necessary - they just gave us a menu from a local restaurant, delivered by Uber Eats.

The next day we made the short drive into Chicago. First stop was the Elks Lodge where we hoped to stay a few nights. We needed to see if it had good electrical hookups and that the Internet was sufficient to do our show. Once we checked it out, we decided to go on in to Chicago and play tourist for the rest of the day - the weather was beautiful and we like to play tourist when the sun shines!

Using our Allstays app, we found a parking lot right down by the lake - $15. Notice the blue dot on the map below - that's where we parked. How late can we stay? we asked the gate guard. Till this time tomorrow, she answered. Cool! We'll just sleep right here.


And we took off walking. The one thing on our list for visiting Chicago was the Architectural boat tour. We enjoyed the one in New York City SOO much, when we heard there was a similar tour in Chicago, we knew we had to go. We found a kiosk for tickets near the Shed Aquarium (which we didn't have time for) and the ticket included a water taxi ride to the tour starting spot.




And the tour didn't disappoint. We were SOO lucky with the beautiful weather. This was an open boat, no cover. They must just have to cancel if it rains?





Great timing! The cruise ended just as the sun was getting really low. Beautiful. Then it was time for dinner and we went to the end of the Navy Pier where we found food and drink, but mostly beautiful views.



By the time we started walking "home" it was quite dark. But the path was clearly marked - we sure got our steps in this day! We walked right by the marina and Soldier Field on the way back to our cozy RV.





Thursday, September 26, 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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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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