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

Geeks on Tour offer Live Remote Seminars using Zoom.us

As we travel the country, we’ve presented seminars from Southern California to upstate New York, and all points in between. But, what if your California group wants us to present a seminar and we happen to be in Florida at that time? That’s when we use an online meeting software called Zoom. It allows the audience to see and hear us and we can see and hear the audience. We can display powerpoint slides as well as demonstrate on our smartphones. In some ways, it can be even better than being there in person.

A computer club meeting (TPCUG) with Geeks on Tour presenting a seminar remotely

It’s gotten a lot easier

We have been in technology training and support since the ’80s when personal computers were brand new. Back then we had classrooms where we taught hands-on business software as well as how-to-use the technology.

We would occasionally address large audiences at special events. Today, most of our hands-on teaching is about smartphones and our live audiences are Technology Clubs, senior centers, and groups large and small of RVers gathered at a Rally.

Technology and Computer Clubs rely on educational presentations to sustain their memberships. That’s where Live Remote seminars with Geeks On Tour can help.

Live Remote vs. Recorded for Club presentations

Recorded tutorial videos can be a good addition to any meeting agenda. We have a couple of great ways clubs can use our recorded content.

  1. View episodes of our YouTube show, “What Does This Button Do?” in whole or in part. They can be projected, paused, and discussed. The Show Notes facilitate the discussion. The episodes run from 40 minutes to an hour and there are 184 episodes so far.
  2. Watch videos from the Learning Library of tutorial videos. Short, single-topic videos, teaching a single topic or feature. There are over 600 of these tutorial videos. You do need to have a Geeks on Tour premium membership to access all of these videos.

If we are traveling through your area when you have a meeting or event on the calendar, we’d love to present in person. Audience size doesn’t really matter. It’s the interaction and Q&A we think are important.

If we’re not traveling thru your area, we offer Live Remote seminars using Zoom Meetings. With the proper hardware and planning, a Live Remote is (almost) as good as us being in the room. As an added bonus, the seminar is recorded and available afterward.

You probably already have the minimum hardware needed to make it happen.

  • a good, fast Internet connection
  • a screen and projector setup
  • sound system for computer audio and PA
  • Sometimes it’s a big-screen TV connected to a computer. That’s enough for you to see and hear us.

A camera and microphone make it possible for us to see and hear you the audience, the facilitator and the all-important Q&A interaction. Most laptops have built-in cameras and microphones. An external USB camera and mic will probably look and sound better and may be easier to place for better effect.

Using Zoom

Zoom (zoom.us) is a software to create online meetings. It’s a two-way conversation. A host (that’s us) starts the meeting and guests join in at their end. The software is easy to use and it works well under most conditions. A good, stable Internet connection is important at both ends of the connection.

You’ll see our faces as well as our screens for demonstrations. We try to make it as interactive as we can.

A little preparation is important. We always do a test run before to check the connection and equipment. We’ll teach you what you need to know about using Zoom.

For our online Live Remote Seminars, we use Zoom to connect to the club’s presentation computer. That computer will also have a camera and microphone attached. A club facilitator should stay close to monitor the connection and repeat any audience questions if necessary. We should be able to see and hear the audience at our end.

Check out our planned route and calendar. Get in touch if you would like a Geeks On Tour Live or Live Remote appearance!

Ready to give it a try? Let us know! There is no charge for the seminar, but the club should have a premium Geeks on Tour membership in order to access all the other materials.

Our current list of popular seminars is on our website geeksontour.com/seminars

Another picture of how it looks in the room. Laptop in room should have camera facing people in room, as well as an active microphone. This way presenter can both see and hear the room.

You don’t need Google Maps to give you directions to a restaurant when it can deliver your food to you.

Both Jim and I were relaxing at home when we started to get hungry. We didn’t feel like cooking and we didn’t feel like going out. I had recently tried using the DoorDash food delivery app, but couldn’t find any restaurants in their list that I liked, so I just opened Google Maps on my phone and started exploring the restaurants.

Pretty soon I ran across an old favorite eatery and I notice a button that read, “Order” – so I tapped it. I could see the complete menu and choose whatever I wanted. I handed the phone to Jim and let him make his own choices. I tapped on Deliver and checked that they had our address correct, then I checked out with my credit card – already on file with Google Pay.

45 minutes later, we were sitting at the dining room table enjoying our hot meal.

Amazing.

How Google Calendar can keep you from missing an event by setting your default notifications.

Don’t you just hate it when you see your friend and they say, “Where were you last night? We missed you at the party.” When the only reason you missed it was that you forgot!

I’ve been using Google Calendar to notify me of upcoming appointments ever since I started using a smartphone, and yesterday I found it especially useful. I want to make sure that all of you know how to set the default settings so that you get a notification before any upcoming event.

I had completely forgotten about my Yoga class at 10:30. I also completely forgot about a dinner party we were going to at 6pm. Because of my default settings in Google Calendar, I get a ringing automatic notification an hour before any appointment. Whew! I made it just in time. Thank you Google Calendar!

You can even set your default to give you two notifications if you want, like one at 2 hours and another at 1 hour before any event entered in your calendar. Here’s how:

  • Open Google Calendar (on Android or iOS – just make sure it is the Google Calendar, not Apple or Samsung.
  • Tap the 3-line menu at top left
  • Scroll down and tap on Settings
  • Tap Events (under your account)
  • Tap Notifications
  • Select your choice
  • You’re done, just tap the Back arrow at top left

Never miss a party, or a dentist appointment, or a meeting – ever again!

How to combine Travel Blogs and Travel Maps

A travel blog without a map is like cake without icing!  It’s good, but not as good as it should be.  And, sometimes don’t you just want the icing!  A travel map can give your readers everything they want to know.  Then, if they want more, they can click on a marker and follow the links to your blog posts!

When we started our fulltime RV travels back in 2003 I wanted some way to keep track of where we’d been so I started a blog, using the free tool from Google called Blogger.com. Nearly 2,000 posts later, I’m still writing in that blog. I even have a hard-bound book made of each year and they sit on a shelf in our living room now – a constant reminder of all the adventures we’ve had and a great way to spend a lazy afternoon. See this past article about how to make books from your blogger blog:  Save your Blog! Get a Printable Copy

Blog posts are where I write our stories, but maps are essential for the visual experience of where we traveled. I make a map for each year of our travels and I put them on a separate page of the blog. Using the free MyMaps tool from Google, each marker on the map is interactive. When you click on it, you can see photos and/or text.

Using Maps as a Blog Navigation Tool

Map markers can contain text. In addition to writing a short description of the spot, text can be used to insert links. Those links can be to your blog posts about that place. If you use this feature a lot, your map can become a table of contents for your blog.

For example, if you click the map above, you’ll be taken to the full interactive map. See the gold marker in North Florida? Click that and you’ll see some photos about the place. You should also see a link to our blog post. Click that and you’ll be taken to our blog and the post about our stay at that place. Many markers on this map link to a blog post. Try #3 in Raleigh, NC, or #6 in New York City.

You might say that this sounds like a lot of work. It certainly does take some time, but if you love looking at your photos and your maps as much as I do, it is truly a labor of love. If you want to learn how to make blogs and maps using the tools we recommend, we have Learning Guides for Geeks on Tour members. We have also covered these topics in our free YouTube show, “What Does This Button Do?”

Member Learning Guides

Here’s the first Blogger lesson, for free:

Free “Button Shows” on these topics:

How to Control the Auto-Rotate on your Smartphone or Tablet

Isn’t it cool that your phone or tablet automatically rotates the contents when you change the way you’re holding it to see a picture take up more of the screen?

image

Isn’t it annoying that your phone or tablet automatically rotates the contents when you lie down to read your book in bed?  Especially when you’re in that reclining position just between vertical and horizontal and your book keeps flipping back and forth!

image

There’s a Setting for That!

On an Android device, access your quick settings by swiping down from the top of the screen.

  1. You should see an icon for auto-rotate.
  2. If it’s ON your screen will adjust
  3. If it’s OFF your screen will stay the same regardless of how you are holding your phone. Note that, if you were holding the phone vertical (portrait) when you tap the Auto-Rotate button, then your phone will be locked in portrait mode. If you were holding it horizontal (landscape) then it will be locked in landscape.

auto rotate android.gif

On an iPhone or iPad, access your quick settings on the Control Center. 

  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal the Control Center
    or – on iPhone X and higher, swipe down from the upper right corner
  • You should see the Auto-Rotate/Orientation Lock icon right there

On the Kindle App

  • If your only need for controlling the rotate is for reading books on your Kindle App, there is an option right in the Kindle App.
  • Tap once, anywhere on your page and you should see a little padlock icon appear in the lower right corner.
  • Tap the padlock to close or open the lock.  When the lock is closed the orientation will stay put.

Still doesn’t rotate?

If you make sure that the auto-rotate setting is on, aka the portrait lock is off, and your screen still isn’t rotating, then something is wrong. I’ve seen this many times and each time, rebooting the phone has fixed the problem. Just power it off and back on, or restart your phone and odds are that the rotate will work now.

Turn by Turn Voice navigation with street names

I’ve been known to tell people that Google Maps is better than Waze because Google Maps gives me much more detail when the voice gives me turn-by-turn directions.

When Waze would tell us “In 1/4 mile turn right.” Google Maps would say “In 1/4 mile, use the right 2 lanes to turn right onto West Lake Rd.” I so prefer the latter – the one in the blue bubble above. We are usually in areas where we’ve never been and we need all the detail we can get to be sure we’re taking the right roads.

Change the Voice

What I’ve learned is that both Google and Waze can navigate with or without street names. It just depends on which voice you choose.

In Google maps:

  1. 3-line menu, Settings, Navigation
  2. Voice selection – choose Default (English) speaks street names

In Waze:

  1. Search then tap Gear in upper left
  2. Voice and Sound – choose English (US) – Jane. including street names

No more wrong turns!

Order Photo Prints within Google Photos

Google announced a new feature in Google Photos this month … Printing! This has been a highly requested feature. Apparently lots of people still want a photo they can hold in their hand, put in a binder or add to the fridge with a magnet. With just a couple of clicks and 25 cents per photo, you can pick up your 4X6 prints on the same day at a Walmart or CVS of your choosing.

With one photo open in Google Photos, you can click the 3-dot menu and choose from
Order canvas print or Order photo prints

Ordering 4X6 prints

As with everything Google, they’ve made this drop-dead simple. You can start from the Assistant and click the Prints button, or you can start by selecting your photos. I choose my photos first:

  • Select multiple photos. Computer: click upper left corner of each photo Phone: long-press on first photo, tap on more
  • Click the little shopping cart button in top right and choose Photo prints
  • The next screen gives you an opportunity to change the quantity of prints for each photo, and to do a little editing if needed. If you need to select more photos, use the add to album button at top right
  • Click Next
  • Choose a location – either a Walmart (matte finish prints) or a CVS (glossy finish prints)
  • Confirm your order and click Place Order
  • You should be able to pick them up within the hour.
  • You pay for them when you pick them up.

What about sizes other than 4X6?

Can I get any other size besides 4X6? No – not with the prints feature in Google Photos. You can use the Walmart or CVS in-store options to print other sizes.

What are the canvas prints? When you use the Assistant, or you open just one photo and click the 3-dot menu, you’ll see the option for Canvas prints. These come mounted on a frame that is 1.5 inches deep. You have 3 choices for what to do with the sides: white, black, or stretch the photo over the edge. If you see a red exclamation mark, it means your photo is not high-resolution enough to print in that size. They come in 3 sizes:

2020 Camp Reboot! Smartphone Photography and Google Photos

“Camp Reboot” has come to mean the technology workshop alternative to “RVers Boot Camp” at the Escapees events. If your partner is registering for the RVers Boot Camp, but you would prefer to learn about technology, we are offering two sessions of a special pre-rally workshop at the 2020 Escapade in Rock Springs, WY.  Hands on with your smartphone or tablet, exploring the camera-related features.

Camp Reboot! Hands-On smartphone photography classSmartphone Photography and Google Photos

In your pocket you have one of the most sophisticated cameras ever developed, it can do things that Ansel Adams never even dreamed of! Just a tap on the HDR button produces results that took hours of preparation in Ansel’s day. Don’t know what HDR is? We’ll teach you! Want to show that masterpiece to friends and family around the world? It’s a simple click on the Share button.

I learned so much in this class! It was like I’d been driving a car for years and just learned about Reverse! I had no idea my phone could do these things.

For people with iPhones/iPads or Android phones and tablets – from beginners to advanced, everyone learns something in this class. If you’ve never taken a selfie, or figured out how turn your flash on or off – not to worry, that’s where we’ll start. The class is hands on. You need to bring your phone or tablet as we will have you exploring and experimenting with all its camera-related features. Like learning to swim by jumping into the deep end, you will have assignments and you will need to discover the way your device works to accomplish them. The workshop will be held over 2 mornings (iPhone) or 2 afternoons (Android) and you will have homework assignments in between!

image

Take your photos from so-so to stunningTake your smartphone photos from so-so to stunning. For users of Google Photos, we start with basic crop and filters. Then we add the free editing app “Snapseed” and turn your photos into masterpieces. You’ll work with your own phone/tablet and your own photos as well as some sample photos from the geeks.

Google Photos provides unlimited cloud storage for your lifetime of photos all for free. Automatically backup all your pictures for safekeeping by using the free Google Photos app. Never worry about losing your phone again. We will also explore the photo editing capabilities of Google Photos and learn about sharing photos by making a shared album for the class.

The camera in your phone also does more than take photographs – it can file receipts and save them for Tax day, it can scan QR codes, and deposit checks.

This is a 6 hour workshop, limited to 16 participants. Bring your iPhone/iPad or your Android phone or tablet fully charged, and also bring your charger because 3 hours of constant use can drain the battery quickly.

This is a 6 hour workshop, limited to 16 participants. Pre-registration is required including a fee of $59.

Please register through the Escapees headquarters via telephone with Registration @ 936-327-8873 See Escapade info here.
iPhone & iPad Classes: Friday, June 19 & Saturday, June 20
9:00 AM -12:00 Noon
Android phone & Tablet Classes: Friday, June 19 & Saturday, June 20
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

How to share your Live Location using Google Maps

Using either iPhone or Android device , it’s easy to share your live location with someone for a few hours, or indefinitely. It’s great for letting friends know when you’ll arrive. No need to call, they can see when you’re getting close and roll out the welcome mat! This is especially useful if you have a lot of guests, or run a B&B – no need to wait around for hours, tell your guests to watch this video and share their location with you for a few hours.

YouTube Milestone: Geeks on Tour Channel surpasses 5,000 subscribers

10 years ago we uploaded our first tutorial video to YouTube. (Geotagging Photos with Picasa 3.5.) Before that, we were using Techsmith’s Screencast.com. Now we’ve uploaded over 400 videos to YouTube and just surpassed 5,000 subscribers.When you upload videos to your channel on YouTube, you are considered a “creator” and YouTube gives certain perks to creators as they get more popular. We don’t get any perks for 5,000 – we’re still tiny in the YouTube universe, but it feels like we’re on our way!If you’ve never uploaded a video to YouTube and you would like to know how – here’s a video for you: 568. YouTube – upload video from computer or Google Photos