Category Archives: Blog

Computer Tips for Travelers and anything else that these Geeks feel like writing about will show up here! For additional articles on Picasa, see our separate site PicasaGeeks.com
. For additional articles on Internet Connections on the Road, see our separate site WiFiSavvy.com

June 2024 News: Add text below a photo, Camera shortcuts, Chrome Profiles

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Newsletter: June 2024 | Issue 202 | Archives 

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What’s up with Jim and Chris – the Geeks?

May was a busy month. First we traveled by RV to the west coast of Florida and presented an in-person class for Sun City Center Computer Club. We loved telling people to get out their phones and try things, then hearing them exclaim – “Wow, I didn’t know that!” 

The second week in May we were underwater! We spent a week on the BVI Aggressor – a dive boat based in the British Virgin Islands. See the photo album here.

Two days after returning from the islands, Chris was whisked away to the Google Product Experts event in Austin Texas. 

Tutorials: Even with all that, we still made some Tutorial videos and did our Live YouTube Presentations. See several new tutorial videos, numbered 854-857. We posted 2 new Fun with Photos episodes as well as 2 of our Sunday “What Does This Button Do?” shows. See links below.

Community: We so enjoy the Zoom meetings we have with our members. We chat backstage after every Sunday “Button” show. We learn from you as well as teach. We just finished our series of Google Photos workshops (live over Zoom) with #4 covering Sharing and Creating: Chapters 9 & 10.  If you missed them – you can see all the materials, including a recording of the Zoom meeting, on our Classes page. Remember this is for members only. 

What’s New? This month we do 1 new Google Photos workshop, 2 new “Button” shows, and a Google Photo Live Q&A: “Ask Chris Anything.” See the calendar below for details. 

Keep scrolling down and you’ll see new articles about Google Photos, Smartphone tips, and a video about using Chrome Profiles to easily switch between users on your computer. Plus links to everything added to our website this past month.

We’ll be home, playing catch-up for the month of June, then we’re back diving in July.

Calendar of Upcoming Events

We’re Presenting Live via Zoom in Florida this month. Fun! On a personal note, we’ll be diving in Little Cayman for a week in July!

June 2024

  • “What Does This Button Do?” 2 pm ET Sunday Live on YouTube and Facebook
    • June 9th and 23rd  Episodes 278 and 279
    • Members Only Backstage Zoom after the shows
  • June 2nd and 16th Fun With Photos Podcast at 2 pm ET
  •  Tech For Senior’s Selected Mondays at Noon ET “Fun With Photos”
  • June 13 7pm ET Ask Chris Anything
  • June 27 3pm ET Workshop Do More with Google Photos FOR MEMBERS ONLY – Registration Required.

July 2024

  • “What Does This Button Do?” 2 pm ET Sunday Live on YouTube and Facebook
    • July 28th Episode 280
    • Members Only Backstage Zoom after the shows
  • July 3rd, 7 pm ET Sarasota Technology Users Group Presentation
  • July 1st and 15th Fun With Photos Podcast at 2 pm ET
  •  Tech For Senior’s Selected Mondays at Noon ET “Fun With Photos”
  • July 24th 3pm Google Photos Workshop: Gathering Your Lifetime of Photos and Videos. Registration required. Premium Members Only.

Ask the Geeks Q&A Forum

Anyone can read the forum, only members can ask questions. This is a valuable benefit ofmembership. Join Today! Here are some recent discussions:

  1. Gmail and 2-step verification
  2. Sending Photos to Facebook
  3. MacBook Air and Google apps


Text Below a Photo – using Snapseed

In playing with the free Snapseed app, I discovered a way to add a black bottom border to the photo and then add text to that. This is a great way to add captions to photos that cannot be ignored!

Read the Article, including a tutorial video


Stop fumbling with your phone, here’s how to take a picture – quick!

This article will teach you the camera shortcut methods for both Android and iPhones. I especially like the Android – “double press the side button” technique. It is so handy I use it all the time.

If you click the link to read the article, you’ll get a video and an extra bonus. I (Chris) wrote the article, then I asked A.I. to rewrite it. Let me know what you think.

Read the Article


Tutorial Video on Chrome Profiles – Like having multiple computers in one!

We don’t often make videos on computer-only topics, but we find Chrome profiles to so useful, we made an exception. In this short, 3.5 minute video, you’ll learn how to set up multiple accounts so you don’t need to logout and login.


Links to Recent Content added to our Website

Tutorial Videos:

YouTube Shows:

What Does This Button Do? 

Fun with Photos 

Top Tips (members only)

Classes (members only)


Did you learn something?

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Stop fumbling with your phone, here’s how to take a picture – quick!

If you have an Android phone – just double-press the side button, also known as the on/off button. This will bring up the camera from anywhere – even if the phone is locked – just press that side button twice fast.

I almost never tap the camera app icon because this double-press method is so convenient. I see a photo I want to take, my phone is in my pocket, I can double-press that button as I’m pulling it out of my pocket and I’m ready to take the shot. I’m sitting on a train, reading my email, when I look out the window and see a castle going by and I want a photo. Just double-press that button and the camera pops up over my email. Quick and easy.

I know this works on Samsung phones and Google Pixel phones. I have seen it work on other models, but I don’t know if it works on ALL Android phones. If it doesn’t work on yours, it may just be a setting.

  • Samsung: Settings, Advanced, Side Button, Double press – Quick launch camera
  • Pixel: Settings, System, Gestures, quickly open camera

iPhone Camera

The shortcut to the camera on iPhones is on the lock screen – and only on the lock screen. This is useful for the phone-is-in-pocket scenario, but not in the I’m-reading-email scenario. On older iPhones (with a round home button), you swipe left from the lock screen to go to camera. On newer ones, you should see a camera icon at the bottom right of your lock screen – touch and hold on that and the camera will appear.

Now for the A.I. version

The article above was written entirely by me, Chris Guld. I’m experimenting with the Copilot A.I. chatbot by Microsoft and wondered if it could improve on my writing. I asked Copilot to “Review the following article and make it more readable and engaging.” Below is the results. Let me know what you think in the comments. I kinda like it, but I’m not sure it sounds like me.


Unlocking Your Phone’s Hidden Superpower: The Double-Press Camera Shortcut

Introduction

Ever missed a perfect photo because your camera app took ages to load? Or fumbled with your phone while trying to capture a fleeting moment? Fear not! I’ve got a simple trick that’ll transform your smartphone photography game.

The Magic of the Double-Press

Picture this: You’re walking down the street, and suddenly, there it is—the most adorable puppy you’ve ever seen. You want to capture the cuteness before it scampers away. Instead of fumbling through your apps, just double-press the side button (also known as the on/off button). Voilà! The camera instantly pops up, ready for action.

Why Double-Pressing Is Your New Best Friend

  1. Speed and Convenience:
    • Forget tapping the camera icon on your home screen. The double-press method is lightning-fast. Whether your phone is locked or in your pocket, those precious moments won’t slip away.
    • Imagine this: You’re on a train, engrossed in your email. Suddenly, the landscape outside catches your eye—a majestic castle against a fiery sunset. No time to waste! Double-press that button, and you’re in photo mode.
  2. Universal Compatibility (Almost):
    • This nifty trick works like a charm on Samsung phones and Google Pixel phones. But what about other Android models? Well, it’s a bit like magic—sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, check your settings.
    • Here’s the path to enlightenment:
      • Settings
      • Advanced
      • Side Button
      • Double press – Quick launch camera
  3. iPhone Users, We’ve Got You Covered Too:
    • iPhones have their own secret handshake for camera access. It’s all about the lock screen:
      • Older iPhones (with a round home button): Swipe left from the lock screen, and there it is—the camera!
      • Newer iPhones: Look for the camera icon at the bottom right of your lock screen. Touch and hold, and—boom!—you’re in business.

Conclusion

Next time you spot that adorable puppy, the breathtaking sunset, or the quirky street art, remember your new superpower: the double-press camera shortcut. Capture life’s moments with ease, and let your creativity flow. Happy snapping! 📸✨

Beach at sunset with caption

How to print text below a photo, using Snapseed

Beach at sunset with caption

When we taught Snapseed for our “What does this Button Do?” show, a viewer asked if there was a way to have text appear below a photo rather than right on it. I answered, “No” Snapseed can only edit the photo, it has no way to add captions and then display them below the photo. BUT, I kept thinking about it, and I discovered a way to add a black bottom border to the photo and then add text to that. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the photo in Snapseed and tap Tools, then Expand
  2. You should see 3 choices for the fill color: Smart, White, and Black – tap on Black
    Snapseed screenshot with instructions
  3. Drag the bottom of the photo down until you have enough a black bar to contain your text
  4. Tap the Checkmark to complete
  5. Tap Tools then Text
  6. Double tap where the sample text appears, then tap again to type your text
  7. Choose your style of text (the cards icon) and choose the color (palette icon)
  8. Tap Checkmark, then Export/Save or Done

Did you know that your Samsung phone can be a wireless charger for your other devices?

I have an Android phone that is a Samsung S21 Ultra. I also have an iPhone SE. When we went to El Salvador, I tried to charge my iPhone with the cable I brought for that purpose. I plugged the one end into the phone and the other into a USB slot on a power plug. It didn’t work. After some trial and error we determined that the cable was bad. It was the only one I had with me and we did not have any way to go out and buy another. The Power Sharing feature of my Samsung, sure came in handy then!

Turn on Wireless Power Sharing on your Samsung phone

You can find Wireless Power Sharing as an option on your device’s shortcuts. Swipe down from the top of the screen, then swipe down again. There may be several screenfuls of shortcuts so you may need to swipe left before you see it. Just tap it to see the On button.

If you don’t see the shortcut, you can open the phone’s system settings, choose Battery and device care, then tap on Battery and scroll down till you see Wireless power sharing. Tap that and turn it on.

Not all Samsung phones have this feature, but most of them in the last few years do. It can’t hurt to look.

Use the back of your phone like a wireless charging pad

Once you have turned on Wireless power sharing, the back of your phone acts just like a wireless charger. Simply place any other wireless charging capable device on the back of the phone in the center, and it will start charging. You will need to take off any case for this to work. The phone must be naked.

Imagine you’re with friends at a restaurant and their phone goes dead. They don’t have a cable or any other method to charge it. You can be the hero by offering the back of your phone as a wireless charging pad!

Photos18: Selfies

This is episode 18 of our video Podcast called “Fun with Photos.” Summary written by ChatGPT:

  • 0:00 – Introduction to the importance of cleaning the lens before taking selfies.
  • 2:16 – Explanation of why selfies are valuable for capturing memories with friends and in famous places.
  • 4:13 – Tips for avoiding unwanted arm appearances in selfies.
  • 6:02 – Utilizing the timer function on your phone’s camera app for better-framed selfies.
  • 9:45 – Using the volume buttons as a shutter button for capturing photos.
  • 12:40 – Exploring voice commands for taking selfies or starting a timer.
  • 15:02 – Discussion on using accessories like selfie sticks or Apple Watches for remote photo capture and better framing options.

Please, Google Photos, we need these features

I’ve been using Google Photos since it was first released in 2015 and I love it. My entire lifetime of photos (and videos) are in my Google Photos account and I can find any moment from my life in seconds. As soon as I learned enough about it, I took it on as my mission to help others do the same. Google recognized me as a product expert in January of 2016 and I have now risen to the status of “Diamond.” I say this to make it clear that I am not a whiner about Google Photos. I do think it is the best system out there for managing the tsunami of photos we take these days. But, it’s not perfect, and I want to go on record with my list of important features that are missing.

Google Photos’ mission is to provide one private home for all your photos and videos, organized and brought to life, so that you can share and save what matters.

Google
People have different needs when it comes to their photos. Where are you on this scale?

This “IPO” scale is just something I made up to explain why some people love Google Photos and others don’t. If you are a 1, it means you don’t pay much attention to your photos. You’re thrilled to know that Google photos automatically backs them up to the cloud, in date order, and you can search through them any time you want. It will even remind you of fun memories. You don’t have to do a thing, Google Photos is made to order for you. If you are an ambitious photo organizer (#5), you’ve been organizing your pictures for years. You really like the folder/subfolder structure you have for your photos on your computer and you want to keep it. You probably also rename your photos according to a system you’ve developed and you manually tag every photo. You can’t do these things with Google Photos so you won’t be happy.

I’m a 3, and I think the majority of Google Photos users are also. We love that all our phone’s photos are uploaded and that they are automatically in date order, but we still do some work to organize them. We like to make albums that are meaningful to us, we like to add descriptions to our photos and sometimes we take pictures of old photos and change the date taken so the photo shows up when it was originally taken. We are not meticulous about deleting unneccessary photos, but we do like to be aware of our storage limits and delete bunches of photos when we’re in the mood. And, we definitely want to have a backup of our photos outside of Google Photos. That’s what people who care about their photos do! The symbol below means that feature is extra important to prevent unintentional loss of data.

The features we need

  1. Saving descriptions, date changes, and location changes to the metadata of the photo/video.
    I add descriptions to a lot of my photos. Like writing a note on the back of a print, descriptions can be very important in the future. I also change the date when I photo-scan old prints. But this data is lost when I download the photos to my computer for backup. I think that is just plain wrong. I understand the basic process – when you enter a description, it is stored in a Google database and it relates to that photo. It does not get saved to the photo itself. That keeps the system fast, and Google can’t be accused of damaging your original. But, when I take my photo out of Google, by downloading to my computer, I want that data! I think this is an essential element to “Save what matters.”
    Google’s answer is the Takeout backup utility. When you use Takeout to backup your Google Photos, it does make a copy of the descriptions, date changes, and location changes, but it puts them in a separate file with the .json extension. I have found it next to impossible to get that data back into the respective photos. If Takeout could give us the option to save the .json data directly to the photos/videos, that would be great.
  2. Visual clue of photos on device only: With most apps, if you open the app and you see content, it’s safe to assume that content is “In” the app. But, not with Google Photos. The app displays photos that are on the device as well as those that have successfully uploaded to your Google Account in the cloud. It’s hard to tell which is which. Too many people have been known to open the Google Photos app, see their photos there and assume they have been copied to Google Photos. They then go to the native gallery (Samsung Gallery, or Apple Photos) and delete all their photos. They may have just deleted the only copy of their photos because they misunderstood what they saw.
    I think this problem could be alleviated by displaying on-device-only photos as grayed out images, only becoming clear when displaying the cloud/Google account copy. Currently, there is a little badge in the bottom right corner that indicates a photo has not yet been uploaded. It’s a dashed circle around an up arrow. It’s faint and it disappears when you open the photo. And, if the backup setting is off, there are different indicators depending on your device.

    That’s not enough.
    If grayed-out images on device is not an option, maybe make the indicators the same size as the photo. In any case, get consistent in the icons. It’s vital that people understand what is in the cloud and what is on their device only!
  3. Free Up Space: This is another one where a misunderstanding can result in unintentionally deleting your photos! Free up space is a fabulous feature that allows you, with one command, to delete photos from your phone (device) after they have been copied to the Google Photos cloud. The problem is that people often think it is freeing up space from their cloud storage instead. It doesn’t help that the Android command for “Free Up Space” is located just below the Account storage data. The message is better on iOS, but still not good enough. On iOS, deleting photos from device will also result in deleting them from iCloud (the Apple photos cloud storage) and nowhere is there a warning that this will happen.
    They both should say something like: “Free up device storage by deleting photos and videos from this device.” Then, after selecting that, there should be further explanation like: This will delete xxx items from this device. They will be removed from the Gallery and/or Apple Photos as well as iCloud. They will remain accessible on your Google Photos account.
  4.  Filters: in order to manage a large library of photos, we need filters. I put my best photos in albums. In order to delete photos, I want to see all those that are not in any album. I also need to see them sorted by storage used so I can delete the largest ones. Just like we can filter for our Favorites, or Videos, we need to be able to filter for “in an album” / “not in an album.”
    It would be so easy to recover account storage if I could set a filter to show me all photos not in an album, in descending order by amount of storage space used!
  5. Search for albums when adding photo: Let’s say I just took a photo of an Alligator in Everglades National Park. I want to add it to an old album I have called National Parks. I open the photo and click Add To Album to see a listing of my hundreds of albums, and there is NO search here. There should be. Here is a video that explains the issue and offers one workaround. Problem adding photos to older albums.

I have lots more items on my wishlist, but the 5 above I think are the most important ones, especially #1 – 3 because they involve unintentional loss of data. If you agree, please use the Send Feedback feature on the Google Photos help menu. If you don’t know what to write, just say, “Feature requests: I agree with Chris in this article: GeeksOnTour.com/please-google” The more people that request the same features, the more possible that Google will hear us. Leave a comment below with your wishlist of features.

Photos17: Albums, Books, and Photo Frames

ChatGPT wrote this summary:

  • Traditional photo albums were once popular for organizing printed photos by date or event. Now, in the digital age, Google Photos provides a similar function with albums, allowing users to organize their digital photos. (Timestamp: Beginning)
  • The speaker creates monthly albums in Google Photos for easy organization, along with albums for specific events or projects. (Timestamp: 02:15)
  • Physical photo books are still enjoyed by the speaker, who creates them for yearly compilations or special trips. (Timestamp: 05:35)
  • Google Nest Hub can display photos in a rotating frame, showcasing selected albums. (Timestamp: 07:50)
  • The speaker demonstrates how to create a monthly album in Google Photos and how to search for specific albums. (Timestamp: 08:40)
  • Tips are provided for efficiently managing albums on the Google Nest Hub, including a workaround for the lack of search functionality. (Timestamp: 14:20)

I Like Using A.I. to Make my Images

An artist, I am not!

Often I write “How-To” articles where I want an image that helps get a concept across. A page full of text is just too boring. I have been known to spend hours finding just the right image and maybe tweaking it a bit for my needs. Now, I just have to get clear on what I want and ask for it!

If I was a professional artist, I could create my own images but, an artist, I am not! I think of myself as a little girl making a mess. I thought it would be fun to have an image just about that, so I went to Copilot and asked:

“Create an image of a girl standing at an easel where she is painting something. What we see on the canvas is awful. Black, red, squiggles and squares. the girl has a frown on her face and a paintbrush in her hand.”

I just wrote an article about how Google Photos is meant to rescue you from being overwhelmed by the thousands of photos you now take with your phone. I write about this concept in my book, Learn Google Photos and I needed an image for the back cover. That was a few years ago, before A.I. came on the scene. It took my hours to come up with the image. I had a vision in my head of someone drowning and their hands showing above the water in a desparate “help me” position. Then, rather than water, I wanted a sea of photos. I found a photo of the drowning hands that I paid for at DepositPhotos.com. Then I gathered images of piles of photos and manipulated them around the hands to achieve the look I wanted.

This time I just asked Copilot “Create an image of a person drowning in a sea photos” and I got:

Not bad, but I was really intrigued by the suggestion shown by Copilot to: “Add a lifebuoy or flotation device nearby.” I thought, what a great idea! So I clicked it and got:

Looking good! Then, that sparked the idea that Google Photos IS the life ring! So I just added the Google Photos logo inside the life ring and I had the image to perfectly supplement my article. This all took me just a few minutes.

I’m also working on an article about what to do if your Google Photos account is running out of space. I think it’s important for people to get the concept that the storage of your photos is in the cloud, and when a cloud account gets full you need to expand the space, or delete a lot of content. So I asked Copilot to create an image of a cloud full and overflowing of photos. It gave me the image at right and I added the words “Your cloud is full!”

This is fun. If you want to try it, it’s free. Just go to Copilot.com and sign in with your Microsoft account. At the bottom, where it says “Ask me anything …” Type “Create an image …” and the description of the image you want to see. There are a lot more tools besides Copilot, and they are increasing and improving every day. Also, the better you are at describing what you want, the better the results will be.

The following two images were created to go along with my lesson on how to search for photos using Google Photos. To make the first photo I wrote something like: Create an image of a woman walking down a path covered with photos. Use a cartoon style with a dreamlike quality. For the second one I asked for a man in front of a mountain of photos triumphantly holding one photo in his outstretched hand. Use a cartoon style.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember which A.I. I used for those last two. I keep experimenting with Copilot, Canva, Google Slides, Gemini. I need an A.I. to help me keep track of my use of A.I.!! Has anyone used NotebookLM? It is supposed to be a second brain. That sounds like what I need.

Leave a comment below about your experiene. Have fun!