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

Have fun with your fireworks photos

I’m not going to talk about taking good fireworks photos, I want to tell you what to do with the ones you’ve already taken. Although I will say that fireworks are perfect examples for using our 10 practical tips for better smartphone photography. Especially #2 Keep flash off and #10 Use motion photos. Also check your phone’s camera options – some of them have a fireworks setting.

Make an animation

Animation using Google Photos

Using Google photos, you can

  • select several fireworks photos
  • click the + at the top and choose Animation.
  • That’s it. The result is a .gif file

See also: How to make an animated gif from a motion photo using Samsung Gallery.

Create artwork

Using a free app called Prisma (Prisma for Android, Prisma for iOS) you can take a photo and make it look like artwork.

A photo transformed to art by Prisma

First you must install the app, then open it and choose a photo (the photo must be on your device, it does not have access to cloud storage. Now you should see your photo in the middle of your screen and a series of styles. All you do is tap on one of the styles and wait a couple of seconds to see your photo be transformed into artwork with that style. I usually try all the free styles, it’s so much fun to look at the results. I chose the Surf style for my sample here.

When you like what you see, tap on Save in the upper right. You can save as many as you want. Your new artwork will be saved in a Prisma folder. If you’re using Android and Google Photos, you’ll need to go into the Library, Photos on Device, tap on the Prisma folder and turn on Backup and Sync. From now on any artwork from Prisma will show up in your Google Photos library.

See also: The eclipse is a work of art, with a little help from an App

Happy 4th of July!

If you like our YouTube show, you’ll love our show notes.

We’ve been live-streaming an educational show called What Does This Button Do? since June of 2014. Many of you have seen an episode or 2 because you subscribe to our YouTube channel, or because we sent you an email notice. Here’s a list of our last 6 shows:

But, did you know that we write up detailed notes after each live show? This isn’t just a simple bullet list of topics, it’s full, detailed notes of everything that we covered, including the slides. These notes are in .pdf format so you can print them out and keep them for reference. For example, let’s say you saw our show about taking screen shots, and you really liked the sweet little trick of triple-tapping on the back of an iPhone to take a screenshot, but you’ve forgotten how to do it. You don’t want to watch the whole 45 minute video again, you just want to skim thru some written notes to find the instructions. You can find Episode 232 on Screenshots by going to our “YouTube Show” page. Once you find the right episode, you can click it and anyone can watch the video. If you are signed in as a member, you can scroll down and see the detailed notes. There’s also a link to download the printable .pdf version.

Here is the part of the show notes that describes how to set up the triple-tap screenshot:

Each episode’s show notes are 7-8 pages long. and there are currently 236 of them! Each section starts with a link to the timeline location in the video where the topic begins. Just click that link to watch the exact spot in the video that discusses that topic. It’s called a “Chapter” and you’ll see little tick marks right in the YouTube video timeline where each “chapter” begins.

Benefit of Membership

These show notes are a benefit of membership. If you are a premium member, we have collected ALL of the show notes, in .pdf format in a Dropbox folder. You can get the link on our eBooks page. If you’re not a member, you can join now.

Cloud storage for Google Photos costs less than you think

Google’s Family Plan lets you share a $20/year plan among 6 people.

I thought Google Photos storage was unlimited and free?

Nope, as of one year ago, Google Photos is no longer completely free. If you use over the allotment of 15GB, you need to pay for storage. For most people, the $20/year 100GB will be enough.

There was a time, when Google Photos was young, that they gave us unlimited storage for absolutely free. I took advantage of that! I hope you did too, because anything you stored in Google Photos while it was free is still free and doesn’t count at all when they calculate the storage you are using. I have nearly 100,000 photos and videos in Google Photos, and about 75,000 of them were uploaded during the free period. As far as Google Storage (known as Google One) is concerned, I only have 25,000 photos taking up storage space.

I happily pay $20/year to have 100GB available to me, and that should suffice for at least another year or two before I would need to go up to the next level of $30/year for 200GB. For my $20/year, I get:

  1. 100 GB of storage
  2. Access to Google experts (yes – free phone support from Google)
  3. Share with up to 5 others
  4. Extra member benefits (like premium photo-editing tools)

Share with up to 5 others

Notice #3 above. That $20/year not only gives me more Google storage, but my husband as well. It’s called their Family Plan and you can add up to 5 other people. This allows all 6 of you to go beyond the 15GB of free storage for Google Photos, GMail, and Google Drive. If you have some heavy users in your family, you might even want the 2TerraByte plan for $100/year. With 4 people in your “family” that would work out to $25 each. Note: it won’t be divided, one person needs to pay the bill! Then all of you will be sharing the one ‘bucket’ of storage. You will not have access to each other’s photos, you’re just sharing the same storage allotment.

How to set up the Family plan

It’s simple, but not necessarily obvious, how to add family members to your plan.

  1. First, one of you needs to subscribe to a paid subscription plan on Google One.
    You will be the “Plan Manager.” Just go to One.Google.com, make sure you are signed in to your account, and click on Storage from the left sidebar menu. Click the button for “Get more Storage” and choose a plan.
  2. Once you have paid for a plan, you are now a Google One member. You can tell by looking at your profile icon – it will have a multicolored circle around it.
  3. Now go to One.Google.com and click on the Settings Gear in the upper right, then choose Manage Family Settings
  4. Now you’re at families.google.com/families, and you click “Get Started.” You should see your profile icon as Family manager, and you can click on “Create Family Group.”
  5. Invite someone to join your group. Just type in their email (it must be an email connected to a google account) then select them from the list, and Send.
  6. Once the invitee has accepted your request, they are part of your family.
  7. There’s one more step: go back to One.Google.com and click on the Gear for Settings. Under Manage Family Settings, you should now see a checkbox for “Share Google One with Family.” Turn that on, and you’re all set.

See the official Google Help article on the Google One Family Storage Plan

Editing photos with snapseed.

July 13 2022 APCUG: Bitcoin and Blockchain

Description

Association of PC User Groups welcomes us back to present to their group via Zoom: Guest speakers Chris and Jim Guld will present this Wednesday workshop, on Cryptocurrency: Bitcoin and Blockchain. They will cover

  • What is Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin
  • What is Blockchain
  • How do you get, and spend, Bitcoin

Click here for all class materials

Here is the Link to the recording of the Zoom meeting:

Continue reading →
Editing photos with snapseed.

July 6 2022 Sarasota Technology User Group: Snapseed to “beautify” photos.

Description

Saratoga Technology Users Group welcomes us back to present to their group via Zoom: Guest speakers Chris and Jim Guld will demonstrate Snapseed on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. In addition to generally enhancing photos, we will demonstrate the Healing function to remove small blemishes, the Brush feature to apply fixes to just parts of a photo, and how to use the Stacks feature. We’ll also show how to smooth those wrinkles on photos of your face! 

Below you will find a link to all of the class materials.

Click here for all class materials

Here is the Link to the recording of the Zoom meeting:

Continue reading →

236 Google Photos update and Product Experts #pes22

  • 0:00 Begin
  • 1:36 Navigate to a photo location
  • 4:29 Hello and Intro – Google Product Expert Summit in NYC #pes22
  • 14:15 New(ish) features of Google Photos
  • 15:02 New features of Photo Grid on mobile
  • 19:13 Photo Location privacy, how to have location shared
  • 24:56 Portrait editing tools
  • 32:46 People filters, searching
  • 35:21 Viewer Questions
  • 48:00 Reviewer Questions

Everyone can view any episode for free. Just click on the play button above, or the link to any ‘chapter’ in the video.

Scroll down to see the show notes (coming soon), these will be available for Members Only.

Members get access to the extensive show-notes Chris writes up after each show. Read them online and follow links directly to the parts you’re interested in. We recommend you print them out and keep them in a notebook. It’s a great way to learn.

Not a member? Join here.

Continue reading →

June 2022 News: Google Maps multiple stop trips, Best photo exposure, Technology for Travelers, Blast from Past


Image
 June 2022 | Issue 178  | Archives

This Geeks on Tour monthly newsletter will always be free, but we also have a premium membership with perks like private Zoom meetings, eBooks, tutorial videos, and complete classes. Our premium members support us, making everything else possible. It’s $58 yearly or $68
for one year only
What’s up with Jim and Chris – the Geeks
One of our Geeks on Tour premium members recommended a book “Oil and Marble” … Thank You! What a great book! And that’s why we added Florence to our itinerary so we could see the original marble sculpture
of David by Michelangelo. At 17 feet, 40 tons, and 700 years old, it was a perfect statue.
For the month of May we were in Italy
The main motivation for the trip was to attend the CaryTennis.com Writer’s Workshop in Tuscany, but we went early and stayed late in order to see Rome, Florence, Sicily and more. You can see it all in our Photo Album

We did do one impromptu live-stream from the plaza in front of the Pantheon in Rome. And one more on the streets of Rome.


Classes 

We did not deliver any classes in May, but you can see all classes from past months on our Classes page. We call it a “Class” when we deliver a 1-2 hour seminar to a group on a desired topic such as Using Google Photos, Editing Photos with Snapseed, and Map-making with Google My Maps. The web page for each class includes a slide show, several videos and
sometimes a written handout. If the class was delivered over Zoom, we also have the recording of the whole class. These classes are for our premium members.

In this newsletter:

As usual, we have an eclectic mix of smartphone and technology tips for you.
  1. Using Google Maps to make, and save, multiple stop trips.
  2. Getting proper photo exposure when you have a dark room and a sunny view out the window
  3. Technology for Travelers: a discussion with our premium members
  4. Blast from the past – measuring a river in Google Earth

  • Thank you to our premium members for supporting us and making this newsletter possible! If you learn something from us, and you’re not a member, consider joining us now.  Become a Member

What’s coming up – Our Calendar June and July 2022
We’re back home for a while! It sure is nice to be back in our studio.
Regular schedule of shows and some presentations
Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, click on the bell for notifications, and Like us on Facebook.
That way you’ll get notified when we go live.
June
Returning from Italy we plan on a couple of Button Shows
  • June 12 2pm ET Episode 235 “What Does This Button Do?”
  • June 12 3pm ET Backstage Pass Zoom Meeting for Members Only
  • June 20 time tbd Google Photos Live “Ask Chris Anything”
  • June 26 2pm ET Episode 236 “What Does This Button Do?”
  • June 26 3pm ET Backstage Pass Zoom Meeting for Members Only
July
  • July 1 6:30pm ET Snapseed presentation via Zoom to STUG
  • July 10 2pm ET Episode 237 “What Does This Button Do?”
  • July 10 3pm ET Backstage Pass Zoom Meeting for Members Only
  • July 13 noon-2 Bitcoin and Blockchain for APCUG Webinar Wed
  • July 18 time tbd Google Photos Live “Ask Chris Anything”
  • July 21 5pm ET Google Photos the Basics for PCBUG 
  • July 24 2pm ET Episode 238 “What Does This Button Do?”
  • July 24 3pm ET Backstage Pass Zoom Meeting for Members Only
Stay safe. Wash your hands. Get boosted.

Ask the Geeks Q&A forum. Anyone can read the forum, only members can ask questions. This is a valuable benefit of membership. Join Today! Here are some recent discussions

  1. Google Drive for Desktop
  2. Chromecast Data Usage
  3. No Albums on cellphone
  4. Combine Albums
  5. Convert from Original Quality to Storage Saver

Using Google Maps to make, and save, multiple stop trips

Our route in Sicily

Google Maps is great, but you can’t save multi-stop trip plans. Or can you? We used this technique on our walking tour of Rome, and then later when we rented a car in Sicily. Read this article to see how we did it.

Read More


Fixing Poor Photo Exposures

Sunny window

When there’s a window with bright sunlight in your shot, and you want to see the inside as well, you need 2 different exposures. Here’s a simple fix, all with your smartphone and Google Photos.
How we did it was to set the exposure for the brightest areas using the phone’s camera settings before taking the shot. That way the outside was exposed properly, and the inside was still in shadows. Then we use Google Photos editing tool called “Shadows” to correct the inside part of the photo.

Read More


Discussion about Technology for Travelers

collage of geeks

This was a members-only meeting we hosted upon our return from a month in Italy. We talked about Internet connections, chargers, luggage, Booking reservations, and lots more.

Read More


Blast from the Past: Tutorials from 15 years ago

We’re celebrating GeeksOnTour.com’s 15 year anniversary all year. And, here’s a tutorial video about Google Earth from 2006. We don’t seem to use Google Earth much these days, but looking back at this video makes me want to check it out anew.

Leave us a Review

Have you learned something from Geeks on Tour?

If so, we’d love to get a review from you. Click the link below and you should see a right sidebar with all Geeks on Tour stuff, scroll down a bit and you should see Reviews and Write a Review.

 If you like this newsletter, please forward it on to your friends! If you received this issue forwarded by a friend you can subscribe to get your own copy delivered to your in box – it’s free. You can also visit the archives of past newsletters. If you’ve learned something from us along the way, we’d love a Google Review from you!
similar photos top and bottom with different exposures

Fixing poor photo exposure

There were so many beautiful views from the windows in our B&Bs in Italy. I wanted to take photos every time I saw a pretty view, but they didn’t look good at all. Now, if I was a professional photographer, with a professional camera and using PhotoShop or Lightroom, I could make every photo perfect. I’m not. I use my smartphone for all my photos. But I have learned a couple of relatively simple things you can do to improve those photos. See my example below where Jim is enjoying breakfast at our B&B and I am in awe of the ancient hill town and church that is the view out the window. I grab my phone and snap a photo and it looks like #1 – I can see Jim and the breakfast table, but the view out the window is completely washed out – overexposed.

Fixing the washed out part

It’s really hard to fixed a washed out photo after the fact. The camera has not captured enough detail. There’s just not much to work with. It’s best to set your camera’s exposure to capture the bright parts best before you take the shot. On your smartphone, it’s easy to do. Just tap the screen at the bright part of the window. At least that’s how you do it on an iPhone. On my Samsung S21 Ultra I need to long press on the spot and then adjust even further by dragging left on the screen. Here’s a little video to show you what I mean:

Fixing the dark part

Now I have a nice photo of the view out the window, but Jim and the breakfast table are in the dark. I can use Google Photos editor to fix that. It’s called “Shadows.” I use this feature a lot when I have a photo with people in the shadows but the rest of the photo is ok.

Using the mobile app

  • Open the photo and tap the edit button
  • Scroll thru the bottom list and select “Adjust” – now you see lots of options on the upper row
  • Scroll thru the upper list and select “Shadows”
  • Adjust the slider to increase the number – that increases the light in the shadows without increasing the light in the rest of the photo.
  • When it looks better, tap Done, then Save

Using the computer, web version of Google Photos

  • Open the photo and tap the edit button
  • Choose the adjustments button at top right
  • Click the dropdown arrow next to Light and choose Shadow
  • Drag the slider button to the right until the photo looks better. This increases the light in the shadows without increasing the light in the rest of the photo.
  • Click Done (top right of the photo)

I know this still isn’t perfect. If the shadows were too dark, the lightened shadows will be grainy. The resulting photo probably won’t win any awards, but for purposes of my memories, it’s a lot better than the first original!

Note: if your phone’s camera has a setting for automatic HDR (High Dynamic Range of light) – be sure it is turned on. That helps capture more detail in both the light and dark parts of your photo.

Using Google Maps for multi-stop trip plans

On May 15, we did Episode 234 of our “What Does This Button Do?” show live from Italy. The topic was “Using Google Maps to make a walking tour of Rome.” We hoped you watched and enjoyed it as much as we did making it. Especially the Rome part!

Later in our trip we rented a car in Sicily and I used the same techniques to create a plan for driving around the island and stopping at special sights and several B&Bs where we stayed. I was so glad that we came up with the technique in Rome, because it came in very handy for driving around Sicily. You see, teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin. The fact that we taught how to make – and save – a multi-stop tour made me learn it, and it’s a good technique!

Here’s the idea:

  • We have several stops to make over a 5 day period of driving
  • We want driving directions among those several stops
  • We want to save those stops so we can bring them up each day
  • We want to be able to delete stops we’ve already done, and possibly rearrange the ones left.
  • We need directions each day to the next stop

How about using Google My Maps?

If you have created a map of your desired destinations using Google My Maps (see Episode 176), you can bring that map up on top of your Google Maps app on your phone, then you can click on any particular marker and get directions to that location. The technique we came up with for the walking tour of Rome does not use My Maps, just Google Maps itself, so it is a bit more flexible, and that is what I used for our driving tour of Sicily.

Here’s what the map looks like on a computer screen at Maps.Google.com after adding all my stops

Create a map by adding your stops

You can do this on a computer, or on a phone. On a computer, you go to Maps.Google.com, on a phone you need the Google Maps app installed. In order to get turn by turn directions, you will need to use the app on a mobile device.

  • Search for your first destination, in my case it’s Catania airport, when it’s found click on Directions. This will start the list of destinations. You want this to be the first on the list so, rather than entering a “start location”, just click the up/down arrow button, that will move the entry to the top spot
  • Now add your next stop in the blank row provided.
  • To add further stops, on the phone app, tap the 3-dot menu and choose Add Stop. On the computer, you’ll see “Add destination” at the bottom of the list.
  • I have 9 stops, the maximum is 10. If you need more than 10, you’ll need to create another group- see Saving maps below.
  • If you need to rearrange the stops, you just drag them. On a computer, it’s the white dot at the left that you drag, on the app it’s the 2 bars at the right.

Saving maps

The biggest problem with using straight Google Maps for multi-stop plans is that you can’t save them. These are just dynamic maps. As soon as you need to use Google Maps for something else like “where’s the closest grocery store?” your list of stops will disappear. However, there is a way.

On phone app:

  • First tap on Done
  • Then tap the 3-dot menu and choose “Share directions”
  • Now there are lots of different ways to share, but my recommendation is to send an email to yourself. Find the email icon and address the email to yourself

On computer browser

  • Below the list of stops, you’ll see a link to “Send directions to your phone”, when you click that you’ll see several choices
  • I recommend choosing “Email to yourself”

Using your saved map

  • When you open that email (either on computer or phone), you will see a link – it may be at the very bottom. Click that link and you’ll be back to the Google Maps app with all the stops loaded
  • Don’t delete that email! You can open it and click the link to get back to your completed map at any time.
  • With the knowledge that you can get all your stops back, feel free to delete any stops you’re not going to today (just click the X at the right), and perhaps rearrange the ones that are left. You may even delete them all except your next stop making it very simple to follow.
  • The next day, you can start fresh by clicking the link in the email again. That will bring you back to Google Maps with all of your original stops.

To see this technique in action for a walking tour, see Episode 234 below