Geeks on Tour Newsletter November 2011: Focus on Photos

Geeks on Tour

November was a ‘nose-to-the-grindstone’ month.  We’re parked at our home base RV park (Paradise Island in Ft. Lauderdale, FL) and will be here all winter.  Jim works in the office 3 days a week in exchange for our site.  He also does our customer service, and answers member questions on the forum.  We added 72 members last month!  I worked on the computer, producing new tutorial videos, updating our Picasa book to 3.8, and generally updating and improving all things Geeks on Tour

It has been too windy to go Kayak Diving, our favorite sport, but we know the beach is just 15 minutes away and we can go for a walk any time we want. 

Last month we polled our readers about full articles or links in the newsletter email.  80% like the condensed newsletter with links to the full articles, 20% want the full articles because they don’t want to click on the links.  So – we’ll compromise.  The majority of our articles will appear here as excerpts and a link to take you to the full article, but we will have one topic that is covered in full right in the newsletter.  This month its an overview of Photo software.

jim-chrisUpcoming Appearances

  • Jan 23-27 2012: Florida Association of Computer User Groups, 2012 Conference Bahamas Cruise.
  • Wed, Feb 1 1pm: Cascades Computer Club, Port St. Lucie
  • Thu, Feb 16, 7PM: Valencia Lakes Computer & Technology Club, Boynton Beach
  • Mon, Feb 20, 10AM: Cascade Lakes Computer & Technology Club , Boynton Beach
  • Mon, Feb 20, 7PM:   Valencia Falls Computer & Technology Club, Delray Beach
  • Wed, Feb 22, 2012, 7PM: Boca Raton Computer Society, Delray Beach
  • Mon, March 19, 2012, 7PM: Bellaggio Computer & Technology Club, Lake Worth
  • Techno-Geek Learning Rally April 22-28, 2012 in Bushnell Florida


Please follow the link to see details, indicate your interest, and join the conversation.  We’ll figure out the cost, and the event will be open for registration by the first of the year.


fblikeWe are posting a daily GOT (Geeks On Tour) Jeopardy question on our Facebook page.  If you ‘Like’ our page, then these posts will show up on your Facebook news feed.  Try your knowledge by responding, or learn by reading the correct response posted the next day.  For example:

  • To make the sky look bluer in your photograph, you can use this special effect in Picasa.
  • To protect your facebook account from getting hijacked it is important to have more than one email address associated with your account plus you need to confirm your _____ number.
  • When you type a website’s address into a Google Search, you will not be taken to the website, but rather to this page.

Ask the Geeks

Screen Captures3

Our Q&A Forums are a good place to ask questions, here are some examples from the past month:

Do you have questions like this?  If you are a member of Geeks on Tour, you can ask anything you want in the forum.  Mr. or Mrs. Geek promise to respond, and we have several other knowledgeable members who will add to the conversation. If you’re not a member, Join before the end of the year and lock in our low $39/year price because it goes up on Jan 1.


Articles this Month

Throughout the month we write articles on our website, as well as for and  We recap them all here in our monthly newsletter so you don’t miss anything!

  • Picasa Tip: Holiday Gifts with Photos
    Picasa makes it oh-so-easy to order photo gifts like coffee mugs, tshirts, mouse pads and more, just by clicking the Shop button.
    Read the article …
  • Editing Facebook Pictures with Picnik
    If you post pictures directly to Facebook without first using Picasa on your computer, you will be happy to know that there is a way to edit/improve them all online using Picnik.
    Read the article … 
  • Forget about Picasa and Learn Files and Folders
    In Windows it’s called ‘Explorer’, in Macintosh it’s called ‘Finder.’ It’s the computer’s way of storing and organizing files and folders. Picasa is software that sits on top of the files and folders.  Picasa does not store your pictures, it is a tool for working with the pictures that exist in your computer’s folders.
    Read the Article …
  • Part Time Mobile Internet Connections
    As fulltime RVers, we have no problem signing a 2 year contract for Internet service from Verizon, but we know many people who only travel part time. What are their options for mobile Internet service? A couple years ago, your only option was to rely on Wi-Fi which is very UNreliable! Now there are several options for short term cellular Internet connections.
    Read the article …
  • Rand McNally TripMaker RVND GPS for RVs
    In this third article about the Rand McNally GPS, we include a free video on planning trips on the device.  We show how it routes specifically for RVs with special clearance and propane needs.  We also offer our overall opinion.
    Read the article …


jointoday_thumbOne month left to lock in $39/year

As Geeks on Tour’s website has grown and improved we have maintained a very low annual membership fee of $39.  On the first of 2012, we will be raising that fee, but you can lock it in now by subscribing to our Annual Recurring Membership of $39.

Read More …

Focus on Photos

Beginner's Guide to Picasa available as eBook or Print with DVD.  Click for Details.How to manage your digital photos has become our most requested seminar topic.  We specialize in Picasa – we even wrote a book on it!  You can buy it as an eBook, or a Print book with a DVD of tutorial videos.  Click here for details. 

In this article, we’ll tell you why we like Picasa, as well as covering a few other software products and comparing.

Picasa: The main reason we like Picasa so much is that it does everything you need to do with your pictures.  From importing from your camera, to organizing, to sharing on a website, and especially for backing up.  Any software requires some learning.  Learning Picasa is rewarding.  The more you learn, the more you can do with your pictures.  The only thing you can’t do is to seriously ‘doctor’ your photos.  For example, Picasa can’t remove a person from a photo and put a tree in their place!  You need serious photo editing software for that.  But, you can do extensive ‘nursing’ of your photos.  See the before and after examples below.  It only takes a few clicks to get from the before to the after.

Before Picasa

After Picasa

Mount Ranier as seen from the deck of the cruise ship. Mount Ranier as seen from the deck of the cruise ship.
Jim and Chris at glacier Jim and Chris at glacier
20061028_pink-flowers 20061028_pink-flowers-1

I love the super easy way you can add text to your photos in Picasa, like in the ‘Alaska Cruise’ example above.  I also love the Collage feature.  The more I learn, the more I use the Collage feature in Picasa.  For, example, I created the banner below for our blog using Picasa.  If you want to know how this was done, see this PicasaTutorials article: Making a Banner Picture.

Blog header created using Picasa's Collage feature

Windows Live Photo Gallery: This is another free program for Windows that can manage your digital photos.  I like how it lets you view photos by tags so easily.  Sometimes I leave Picasa and open Photo Gallery, just to view all my tags.  I can do this because tags are stored with the picture file, so I can use either Picasa or Photo Gallery.  Both programs are working with the same picture files on your computer, so it doesn’t mess anything up to go back and forth.  Photo Gallery also has two other features that Picasa doesn’t, 1) Panorama stitching and 2) Photo fusing.  You probably know about panoramas, if not see this PicasaTutorials article: Making a Panorama.  But you probably haven’t heard of Fusing.  You may have seen the Microsoft TV ad where they’re trying to take a family photo, but in every shot a different person is showing up badly.  Fusing allows you to take the best of each person in these similar shots and make one composite good photo.  It’s really slick.  I wouldn’t switch to Photo Gallery however, because Picasa has more editing capabilities, the text tool, and the collage feature, backup and Gift CD.

Once again, I can just hop over to Photo Gallery if I have a fusing project – it creates a new picture – then I can return to my comfortable Picasa and the new picture will show up there.

iPhoto: If you have a Macintosh, odds are that you use iPhoto.  iPhoto is similar to Picasa and does much the same thing.  I don’t have a Mac (yet) but I’ve talked to people who have used both iPhoto and Picasa for Mac.  They’ve told me that Picasa has better editing tools, but not enough to make it worth switching from iPhoto.  That was also before the current version 11 of iPhoto where they have added many new features.  One thing that is important to know about iPhoto is that, unlike Picasa, iPhoto *does* store the pictures in it’s own Library package.  So, you can’t easily go back and forth between iPhoto and Picasa like with Photo Gallery and Picasa on the PC. If you try to edit one of iPhoto’s pictures using Picasa, Picasa will need to make a copy first.

Photo Story 3: Photo Story 3 is a free download from Microsoft and it is one of our favorite simple programs.  It creates slide show movies and makes it super simple to add multiple music selections as well as narration.  Picasa has a very simple moviemaker feature, and you can also add music, but you can’t add narration. Being able to narrate your slideshow creates a complete, professional movie.

Gimp:  If you really do need to take that person out of the picture and replace them with a tree, you need something like Photoshop.  Photoshop is an expensive piece of software, Gimp is free and does most of the same things.  I haven’t used it because I paid for a program called Fireworks that also does a lot of the same things.  

What about you?  Any of your favorites that I didn’t mention?  View this newsletter online and leave a comment.


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