August 2012 Newsletter: Google+ Hangout, Narrated Slideshows, Verizon 4G, CoPilot Live

Geeks on Tour

August in the MidwestPaula Sands Live interview - WKQC, channel 6 Davenport, Iowa

It’s all about learning.  In order to teach, we need to continue learning.  At the beginning of the month we attended the Screencast Camp held at TechSmith Corporation in Okemos, Michigan.  During August, we taught our hands-on Picasa Photo Editing class 3 times.  Twice in the Quad-Cities and once at the FMCA Convention in Indianapolis.  Click the picture at the right to see a video of us on the Paula Sands TV show in Davenport, Iowa.

Calendar: Coming up in September

  • Sep 3-7: Gypsy Journal Rally in Celina, OH
  • Sep 14-16: Hands-on ‘Camp Reboot’ at Escapee’s Rally in Sedalia, MO
  • Sep 16-21: Escapade in Sedalia, MO.

For more details, see our website Calendar.

Hang Out With Us

We will be trying Google+ Hangouts as a way to have impromptu meetings and training sessions.  But, first, we need to just get used to how it works.  If you’re interested in trying it with us, mark your calendar for Sep 25 at 4pm Eastern Time, and Sep 26 at 11am Eastern Time, then go to our Geeks on Tour Google+ page and leave us a comment.

Forum Topics

The Q&A Forums on the Geeks on Tour website are a great place to discuss the topics we cover.  This is where we answer our members’ questions.  Anyone can read the forums, you need to be a member to post.   Here are some topics of interest:

  1. Arrows on Photos with Picasa
  2. Picasa no longer Uploads to Blogger
  3. Facebook Pictures to Picasa?
  4. Facebook Access to my Contact List
  5. No charge for WiFi hotspot with your 4G phone

Chuck Woodbury of

Chuck Woodbury of

Our Neighbor at FMCA

We’ve been followers of all the RV News and stories at for many years.  Chuck Woodbury writes a newsletter *weekly* !!  Every Saturday morning you can depend on reading his personal RVing stories as well as industry news.  So, it was quite a treat when we discovered he was parked right next to us while at the FMCA Convention in Indianapolis.

Both of us were quite busy, but we found time to have dinner one night, swap RVing stories, and even record a couple of videos.

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Make a Narrated Slideshow – Easy and Free with Photo Story 3

ps3We’ve been teaching Photo Story 3 for several years now.  It is a free program from Microsoft that was developed for Windows XP.  In fact, the download page still says that it is only for Windows XP, and newer versions of Windows are not supported.  We use it on Windows 7 and it works fine.  The only quirk we’ve noticed is that, when you download it, it’s important to use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to do the job rather than Chrome or Firefox.

We love teaching Photo Story 3 – it is the easiest topic we cover.  People who consider themselves computer illiterate leave our class and go straight to their computer to make a professional looking movie with their pictures, music, and narration.  We try to keep up with the times, so have been looking for a replacement for Photo Story.  We simply haven’t found one.

We just taught the seminar last week at the FMCA convention and we thought it would be the last time we taught it, but it was so well received!  One person told us afterward that it solved a dilemma for her in that she had been asked to provide videos of her Church project and she just didn’t know what to do since she had no experience with video.  With Photo Story 3 she could simply use the dozens of photos she’d already taken, add motion, narration, and music.  Voila!  She has a video of her project.

Make a Movie with Photo Story 3

When you first open Photo Story 3, you are prompted to begin a new project and import pictures.  We recommend using Picasa to prepare all the pictures you want to use and export them into one folder so they are easy to find.  Then, Photo Story 3 works like a wizard, when you’re finished with the first step, you click the button to continue, and it tells you what the next step is.  When you’ve run out of ‘Continue’ buttons, you’re done!

Narration is Easy

One of the steps is narration.  There is a place where you can write notes for yourself about what you want to say.  Each piece of narration is attached to a picture – which makes it much less intimidating than having to narrate an entire slideshow.  Just add narration to the pictures that need it.  The rest will just play to the music.

Let the Program Compose the Music

Lots of software, even Picasa, allow you to add a song – a music file – to a slideshow.  Photo Story will do that as well, but it has another option.  It will actually compose music.  All you do is pick a genre (classical, country, etc.) and a tempo, Photo Story does all the rest.  There are two reasons why this is so special:

  1. Timing: since the music is being composed to fit your slides, it has an ending at the appropriate time
  2. There is no copyright, so you can upload to public sharing sites like Youtube without running afoul of their terms of service.

Why settle for boring slideshows when you can direct and produce a movie for free.  We have 11 tutorial videos on Photo Story 3 that show you how, step by step.  Or you can just download the software and start playing!  If you make a movie and upload it to somewhere that we can see, leave a link in the comments OK?  Here is one that I made about my family’s early RVing experiences.

Leave a Comment …

Verizon’s Amazing 4G LTE Coverage – Good and Bad

We have been SO impressed with Verizon’s 4G service this summer!  As I write this, we are in the small town of Celina in northeastern Ohio.  There are NO major metropolitan areas anywhere near us, and we have blazing fast 4G LTE from Verizon. 

Earlier this summer, we were parked in a Thousand Trails campground called Carolina Landings, near the mountains in S Carolina.  When we first arrived we had a good 3G connection and since these Thousand Trails parks pride themselves on being in natural surroundings far from big cities, we counted ourselves lucky to get online at all.  While we were there, Verizon ‘flipped the switch’ on 4G in the area.  Wow!  Instead of clicking on a Youtube video and watching it painfully start and stop, the whole video would be loaded before I even decided whether or not I wanted to watch it!

Fast Speeds = More Data Used

With those kind of speeds, you can go thru a lot of data in a short time.  Luckily, we have an unlimited data plan, so we don’t worry, but if you have a 2GB, or even a 5GB plan, you need to keep a watch on it.  Every phone will have some way to check your data usage.  On my Motorola Droid Razr Maxx from Verizon, there is a Verizon widget right on my home screen that displays my current usage.  Your phone also has an app from your Provider (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.)  that gives you a way to see your overall usage.

You may also want to dig a little deeper to see exactly what is using the data.  On the Android 4 system, you can visit your System Settings, Wireless and Networks, Data Usage, and see the screen pictured above.  It sorts your data-using apps by the greatest usage.  You can see that Google+ is on the top of my list. That’s because I have it set to automatically upload all pictures taken by my phone.  You may also have that feature turned on – it’s a wonderful feature!

Use Wi-Fi When Available

If you have data limits, you can also change a setting so that Google+ only performs these uploads if you’re connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot and therefore, not using the limited data from your provider.

The screen at left shows what you see when you touch Google+ on your data usage screen.  At the very bottom is the option to ‘Restrict background data.’  You check the box for ‘Disable background data on mobile data network only.  Wi-Fi will be used if available.  To use Wi-Fi, you must be in a Wi-Fi hotspot, then go to your Wireless and Network Settings, Turn Wi-Fi on, and choose the name of the Wi-Fi hotspot that you have available to you.

Check your plan to see what you’re allowed and how much you pay for overages.  It’s not as bad as it used to be.  Most Verizon plans charge $10 for each Gigabyte of data over your limit.  So, even if you go 5GB over, that’s only $50.  It used to be hundreds of dollars for that kind of overages.

Leave a Comment …

CoPilot Live: an RV-Aware GPS for Mobile Phones and Tablets

clip_image002CoPilot Live Premium, North America Maps $17.99 for iOS and Android. For complete pricing and map availability, visit their website at There is a free version, but it does not offer voice-directed turn-by-turn instructions. Technology can make travel a richer experience. Teaching technology to travelers is what Geeks On Tour is all about. We have been using GPS for navigation since we started RVing back in ’03. Keeping up with this stuff is a full time job and we love it. Visit us at

Our Advice

Don’t get rid of your paper maps and atlases. Do get the CoPilot Live app for your mobile devices – we like it. It is available for Android phones and tablets, iOS iPhones and iPad 3G, Windows mobile, and laptops, too. Be sure to read thru the excellent user guide available on their website under the Support menu. ALK, the company behind CoPilot has been in the business since 1979. They know what they are doing, and they do it well. I first got the CoPilot app for my Droid RAZR phone and used it in our travels from Louisville, KY up through New Jersey, New York, and New England. While in Vermont, I bought the new Google Nexus 7 tablet. The main reason for getting the tablet was for navigation. This review is based on those 2 devices.

Read the Full Article …

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