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

From the Archives: WordPerfect

by Chris Guld

Did you know that I owned and operated a Computer Training Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida from 1983 to 1996? It was called Computer Savvy and, among other things it was an Authorized WordPerfect training center and I was a WordPerfect Certified Instructor.

Because of Computer Savvy, I wrote a regular computer training newsletter. Here is one from Spring of 1989. It discusses why you should update your WordPerfect software, why you should attend our company training fair, and then some tips on Lotus 1-2-3, DOS, and Pagemaker.

202. How to make your passwords secure

Everyone can view any episode for free. Just click on the play button above.

Scroll down to see the show notes, 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. This episode covers:

Passwords are the bane of our existence. Security requires more than a good password. You need 2FA, Two Factor Authentication. Geeks On Tour will help you with your password conundrum, including the eventual goal of getting rid of passwords altogether.

Continue reading →

Need a new webcam? Use an old phone.

When you get a new phone, do you keep the old one? I want you to know that the old phone is still a great camera. Add a stand, and a little software app and you get yourself a high quality webcam.

I use my old iPhone and this $20 phone holder stand as a “Document Camera” for recording demonstration videos.

1. Demonstrating on an iPad 2. My old iPhone acting as a “Document Camera” to project what I’m doing 3. My computer, using iVCam to display what the Document camera is seeing

With the iVCam app installed on the phone and also on my computer, everything the phone is seeing below it is being displayed on my computer where it can be recorded with something like Camtasia, or Live-Streamed over Zoom or YouTube.

The same setup can be a camera for Zoom video calls.

I can use the same phone holder stand but set it behind my computer and adjust it so the phone’s camera is pointed at my face. Then, using the iVCam software, my old iPhone becomes a camera that is selectable in Zoom.

1. The same stand as the first example, just adjusted differently. 2. My old iPhone, running iVCam, with the main camera lens pointed towards me. 3. A zoom call using the iVCam as the selected camera.

To select your phone as the camera for Zoom, click the up arrow next to the video button in the lower left and, under “Select a Camera” choose e2eSoft iVCam. e2eSoft.com is the maker of iVCam.

The steps are:

  • You need an old smartphone, either iPhone or Android
  • Connect the phone to the same Wi-Fi network as your computer
  • Install the iVCam app on the phone and also on computer – Windows only. If you have a Mac, you can google for WebCam Phone software for Mac
  • Open iVCam on phone and point camera as desired. Note: if using it for a webcam pointed at your face, be sure to use the rear camera, not the selfie camera. The rear camera is much higher resolution.
  • Open iVCam on computer to record or live-stream your screen
    or
    Choose e2eSoft iVCam as your camera in Zoom or other video calling service.

If you try it, let us know what you think in the comments below.

If you want to learn more about what to do with old phones, watch our “What Does This Button Do?” YouTube show Episode 201: What can I do with an old phone?

How we self-published the book on Google Photos

I have now self-published my fourth book, Learn Google Photos. I am no expert on self-publishing but I do know how easy it is and I wanted to tell you about it. We use Kindle Direct Publishing for both the printed paperback as well as the Kindle eBook. There is no charge for the publishing process and all you have to do is provide a Word document or .pdf file of your book.

The eBook on Kindle is available for your readers immediately and the printed paperbacks are printed on demand, so there is no up-front charge there either. You set the price for your book and it gets listed on Amazon for people to buy. Amazon subtracts the cost of printing and shipping and splits the rest with the author, paying royalties of usually 60%. In the settings for your account, you include your bank account information and the money shows up in your account once a month.

The last part, for us, is to take the paperback books we get from Amazon and change them to spiral bound. Amazon does not do spiral binding, and we find it so much better for how-to books to be able to lay flat. Here is a little video on how Jim rebinds the books.

Kindle direct publishing thru Amazon is by far the most popular method of self-publishing. It used to be called CreateSpace.

The basic steps to self-publish your book are:

  1. Write
  2. Edit
  3. Design a cover
  4. Publish
  5. Market

When you start writing, you want to be using the right formatting for the end result. I started with the Word template provided by Kindle Direct Publishing. I was able to use the same Word document for submission for the paperback book as well as the Kindle book, but I paid close attention to all the guidelines and tutorials provided by Kindle Direct Publishing. For my book, I used a lot of images and they have special considerations over and above the text formatting. I found this YouTube video that helped a lot because it was so detailed. The same YouTube creator also has a video on formatting chapters with headers and footers as part of her complete playlist of step-by-step tutorials.

A word about editing. You cannot proofread your own book! You simply won’t see the places that you mistakenly wrote their rather than they’re, or or repeated a word. (See?) I had two editor-friends proofread my book for errors. I also hired a professional editor, Beth Anne Carr, to help develop the book as I wrote. For a technical, how-to book like mine I found a developmental editor to be invaluable. I am so close to the material that I sometimes don’t see the forest for the trees. She helped me rearrange my topics and pay more attention to my readers’ perspective.

Your book cover: As my friend Nick Russell says: You may not be able to judge a book by its cover, but you’ll sure sell a lot more books with a good cover, and he recommended the artist that he uses. She also did the cover of our Google Photos book and I highly recommend her as well: Elizabeth Mackey Graphics.

Marketing: “Writing and publishing your book is the easy part,” says Nick Russell, “then you have to market it. You need to market it not once a month or once a week, you need to market it every day.” As a New York Times Best-Selling author with 42 self-published books on Amazon, Nick knows what he’s talking about. You may know Nick from his years as a full-time RVer and publisher of the Gypsy Journal. He still keeps a daily blog and he markets books every day.

Then again, if you’re not trying to make your living at it and you just want to have your book available, you may be satisfied with just getting it up on Amazon and having a link to send to people. There is no minimum sales required to keep your book on Amazon.

You can do it.

The bottom line is that you can do it. If you want to write a book, do it! The publishing process is free and really quite easy. If you want to learn more, check out our YouTube show Episode 200. It will stream live on Sunday, 9/26/20, at 2 p.m. Eastern time. After that, the same link takes you to the recording. We will discuss our experience with self-publishing as well as interviewing Nick Russell on his experience.

 

How to make group photo albums

Using Google Photos, you can make an album and then invite people to contribute photos and comments to the album. Once they have done so, you will see their name appear in the corner of the photo thumbnail. It’s a great way to collect photos from everyone at an event or on a trip. Then you can even print a photo book of the results. The only requirement is that they use Google Photos. The image below is a sample. A group of us from a dive club took a trip to Bimini and we all put our best photos into one shared album.

Create an album

  1. One person needs to start the album, they will be the owner.
  2. You can just create a regular album by
    -selecting a photo or two,
    -click the + at the upper right and choose Album (you could also choose “Shared Album” and it will prompt you to share at the end)
    -Give the album a name and click the checkmark in upper left to finish

Share the album

  1. Open the album created above and click the Share button
  2. To share with a few people, just choose them from your contact list that displays, or search by entering their email addresses (this must be an email address for a Google account)
  3. You have the option to type a message where it says “Say something” then click the send button
  4. To share with a lot of people, choose Create Link, then copy the link and paste it where your audience can see it, like in an email or a Facebook post.

Now the people you shared with can click the link or find the album in their Google Photos Sharing section. They can open the album, join it, and add their own photos. The key is the album option called “Collaboration.” This is on by default, you can see it by opening the album, clicking the 3-dot menu and then Options.This is all covered in chapters 8 & 9 of the Learn Google Photos 2020 book.

September 2020 News: Learn Google Photos Book Launch

  September 2020 | Issue 157  | Archives
What’s Up with Jim and Chris – the Geeks?
Most of the month was devoted to finishing the Learn Google Photos book.
On August 7, we had a real treat when the Product Lead for Google Photos, David Lieb agreed to meet with our Geeks On Tour members group over Zoom. We heard his story and got to pummel him with questions about the development process of Google Photos. The meeting was recorded – for members only. We included some excerpts of our
conversation with David in our Book Launch Episode 198. Get the printable version (.pdf) of the show notes here: 198. Learn Google Photos 2020 Book Launch
Learn Google Photos 2020 – Episode 198 on YouTube
We launched the book during our 45 minute live YouTube show on August 30. Watch the show and we’ll tell you all about the book, give some specific tips about using the latest version of Google Photos, and let you meet David Lieb, the Product Lead for the Google Photos development team at Google. (spoiler alert – you’ll really like
him)
But Learn Google Photos 2020 isn’t just a book! We also announced:
To buy the book
Geeks on Tour Premium members: the .pdf version of the book is included with membership. Download the book from GeeksOnTour.com/eBooks
What’s coming up – Our Calendar Sep/Oct 2020
Wednesday, September 2 Sarasota Computer Club remote seminar
Members Only
Sunday, Sept 6 2pm ET Backstage Pass Zoom: Topic will be how to use group albums with Google Photos. We’ll make an album with the group!
October 16-18 Roadtrek Rally in N. Florida. Seminars on Google Photos and Blogger
Live YouTube Shows Sunday at 2pm Eastern time. Most weeks. Check our Home Page at GeeksOnTour.com where we post a yellow note about our plans for the upcoming Sunday.
If we don’t do a live Button Show, we’ll do a Member Zoom at 2pm Eastern.
Live Zoom meetings for Premium Members after the live shows. Watch your email for announcements of scheduled shows, or check the message on our home page.
Stay safe. Wash your hands. Wear a mask.

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. Password Managers
  2. Printing on Chromebooks
  3. Ordering the new Learn Google Photos book
  4. Backup photos 
  5. Taking Photos Outside

Google Photos A Quick Tour 643
Video


Google Photos Editing Tools

Chapter 7 in the book is Editing to improve your photos. You will learn how to take the picture at the top and make the one on the bottom. Don’t you like the bottom one better?
The key is to lighten the shadows on the shore without washing out the sunset.
I think editing is my favorite part of Google Photos, it’s so much fun to take a so-so photo and make it beautiful.

Where did everything go?

If you have been using Google Photos for a while, it may be disconcerting to open the new version and not see the same buttons and menus. This grid is part of a longer article that explains the new buttons and menus.
Leave us a Review

Have you learned something from Geeks on Tour?

If so, we’d love to get a review from you. Click on this link

 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!

Google Photo Map helps me find places I’ve been.

Many years ago, we were traveling on the Oregon coast and I remember telling people about stopping at a restaurant that had the best seafood Cioppino I’d ever had. What if I found myself on the Oregon coast again and I wanted to find that restaurant? I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, I don’t even remember the town. All I remember is that it was on the Oregon coast at about the mid-point of the state.

I’ll bet I took a photo of it.

That means I can use Google Photos’ new photo map feature and probably find it. Bonus: I can even use Google Maps to navigate there once I find the photo.

  • Using my iPhone or Android device
  • Open Google Photos and tap the Search button at the bottom
  • Tap “Explore Map” – pinch and drag the map until I see the Oregon coast
  • Notice the “heat map” colors indicating where photos are. Tap the heat map bubble in the location I remember.
  • Now the actual photos are displaying in the bottom half of the screen. Scroll thru until I see the photo of the restaurant. Tap on photo to bring it up full screen.
  • Swipe up and tap “Open in Maps” to go to Google Maps and navigate to the location of the photo.

How live view makes Google Maps more accurate.

When we’re traveling, I depend on Google Maps to know where I am. It can be very distressing when I realize that my little blue dot, which represents my location, is actually a block or two off from where I really am. When that happens, it’s time to calibrate the compass.
In addition to my location, the shadow beam of the blue dot shows which direction I am facing. The more accurate your compass is, the narrower and more useful this directional shadow will be. My first tips are for Android only; I will end with some comments about iPhones. There are two ways to calibrate your Android phone’s compass for Google Maps:
  • Manual calibration
  • Live View calibration – even greater accuracy

Manual calibration

To manually calibrate your compass, just tap on the blue dot. You should see a blue screen like that on the left below. When you tap on “Calibrate compass, you will see a screen like that on the right. Grab your phone and do 3 figure 8s as pictured and it should improve your compass accuracy. You should see Low, Medium, or High.

Live view calibration

This is a new feature of Google Maps on Android. It is especially useful when you are in dense downtown areas and your phone may have difficulty getting a GPS fix. This uses live view to get a fix using the streets, buildings and signs you see in front of you. After tapping the blue dot, you should see “Calibrate with Live View.” If you don’t see that, you may need to move to a different location by a public street. After tapping the “Calibrate with Live View” you should be seeing what your phone’s camera sees. Just lift it up so it sees the street, buildings and signs and wait for it to get a fix. You’re done.

On iPhones

These Google Map calibration features are not currently available on iPhones. You can improve accuracy by making sure that automatic calibration is turned on in settings: Settings, Privacy, Location Services = on, scroll to the bottom and tap on System Services, make sure Compass Calibration is on. You can further improve accuracy by turning on WiFi and Bluetooth. You don’t need to connect, just have them on.

Members-only meeting with David Lieb from Google

David Lieb is the product lead for Google Photos. He agreed to meet with our private Members-only group on August 2. We spent a delightful hour and 20 minutes with him learning about the history of Google Photos as well as the process for changes and new features. Then he fielded all of our questions! Thanks David! The complete meeting recording is below for members only. We will make it public for Episode 196 of our Button show on August 23.

Continue reading →

A Chromebook for photo editing

A few years ago I wrote an article titled, The best travel laptop? A Chromebook. I’m wondering if anyone followed my advice to buy a Chromebook for your next laptop. If so, please leave a comment below and tell us how you like it.

I have now bought my third Chromebook,  ASUS Chromebook Flip C302. It cost $600. It’s fast. It boots up in a split second. The battery lasts all day. All I have to do is log in with my Google account and I have all my stuff. My Google Photos, Google Drive files, Gmail, and anything I can access from a web browser is all there. My Chromebook is my “couch computer” – I especially like it for all my entertainment channels. I find shows to watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO etc. and use Chromecast to watch them on the living room TV.

But, that’s not all. Since my Chromebook can also install Android Play store apps, I can work on files offline. Microsoft Office has an Android app for working with Word, Excel and PowerPoint. If I didn’t need to do serious video editing, I could get by with a Chromebook as my only computer.

Using Google Photos on a Chromebook

The main way of using Google Photos on a Chromebook is by using the web version. Just open the browser and go to Photos.Google.com. Assuming you’re logged in to the Google account that stores your photos, you’ll see all of them there. There are some features of Google Photos that only work on the web version, like changing the date for multiple photos, so it works great on a Chromebook. In case you’re interested, you select all the photos that need their dates changed, then click the 3- dot menu and choose Edit Date and Time.

Then there are other features that are only available on the Android app, like markup and text on photos. I have no problem using this feature on my phone, but some people really want the bigger screen and keyboard for typing text, so the Chromebook is perfect. Since the Chromebook can run Android apps, just install the Google Photos App from the Play store and use it. Then you can tap the Edit button and you’ll see the Markup tool which you can use to add text.

The other app I use to edit my photos is called Snapseed. It has many more sophisticated tools for photo editing. It is a free app also by Google, so it works great in combination with Google Photos.

Have you used Snapseed or any other photo editing software on your Chromebook? Tell us about it.

We presented a seminar to the Dayton Computer Club last week and they recorded the whole 1.5 hours.