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
. For additional articles on Internet Connections on the Road, see our separate site

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?


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!


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.

176. How to make a map with Google My Maps

Everyone can view all the episodes for free. Just click on the play button above.

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:

  1. Tip of the Day: Order prints from Google Photos
  2. Beginner’s Lesson: Google My Maps – Making your own maps
  3. App of the Day: Hiya
Continue reading →

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

Why settle for pictures that look like these:

Take better photos with your smartphone

When they could look like these?

How to take better photos with your smartphone

“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.

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

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!


imageIn 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.

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 make a shared photo 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. Pre-registration is required including a fee of $59, call Kim at the Escapees office: 888-757-2582.

 2-5pm: Android – Repeat of Smartphone Photography

This is a 6 hour workshop, limited to 16 participants. Same description as above. Pre-registration is required including a fee of $59, call Kim at the Escapees office: 888-757-2582.

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 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

Take a note using Keep on your smartphone

I love to write things down. If I don’t write it down, it’s bound to be forgotten. What do you use when you need to write it down? Post it notes? A spiral notebook? The back of a business card? A napkin?
That’s the problem isn’t it? When you use whatever is handy, good luck ever finding that note again. How about using my phone for notes, it’s always handy. But what app to use? I’ve tried a bunch of them, Evernote, Samsung notes, Apple notes, and even sending emails to myself, but I haven’t been able to stick to just one. This leaves me back with the same problem of not being able to find them. Enter Google Keep

Instant Notes

Put your Keep icon on your main home page, then you can longpress that icon and see the options to take a quick note:

  • writing text
  • taking a photo
  • automatic checkbox list
  • record an audio

It just couldn’t be easier to take a note on your phone.

Color Coding

When you’ve created a note, you can change its color. Either at the bottom of the note, or by tapping the 3-dot menu at the bottom, depending on the device you’re using, you’ll see dots of color. Just tap the color you want. I like using yellow to indicate that a note is something important, probably something I need to do. Green means personal notes and ideas. Orange is my color for business ideas and notes. Purple is my color for temporary notes – something I needed to jot down today but I don’t really need to keep it. You can come up with whatever works for you.

This makes it so easy to scroll thru your notes and find the appropriate note. If you want to see all your business notes, just tap the search box at top and scroll down to see the colors. Tap on Orange and it filters all your notes. You will only see the orange ones. I find this so handy.

As with most any Google product, you can also search for specific words, and it will find notes with those words anywhere in the note.


This is my favorite feature of Keep. Each paragraph gets a checkbox. When you check it the item gets crossed off and moved down to a completed items section. You can easily re-prioritize items by simply dragging them up or down in the list. As I wrote in this previous article, I think Google Keep is the perfect ToDo list.

Unlimited Notes for Free on any device

The Keep app is available for both Android and iOS. Your notes are in the cloud so you can see them anytime at using a web browser on any connected computer. Your notes are completely private to your Google Account, yet it is extremely easy to share a note with someone. For example, you may have a shopping list shared between you and your spouse. When you add an item, they’ll see it and when they add an item you will see it.

Google Keep is completely free, you won’t even see any ads when using it. Storage of your notes does not count against your Google account (Drive) storage allotment which means it is essentially unlimited.

Learn more by watching Episode 173 of What Does this Button Do?

Do you use Google Keep? Do you use any other software for keeping your notes? Let us know in the comments below.

Your smartphone’s volume buttons do more than you think.

When you press the volume up or volume down button what’s happening? Is it changing the volume of your phone ringer? Is it changing the volume of who you’re listening to on a phone call. Is it changing the volume of your notifications? Or is it changing the volume of music or videos?

In general, the volume buttons are context sensitive. That means, if a video is playing and you press a volume button, you’re adjusting the volume of videos. If you’re talking on a phone call, pressing a volume button adjusts how you hear the person on the call. But, what if nothing is going on? What does the volume button do?

There’s a setting for that

iPhone: In settings, Sounds and Haptics, you’ll find a setting for Ringers and Alerts, control with buttons? I kind of like the setting to be off. That way, I can set the volume of my ringer here – making it quite loud – and know that I’ll never accidentally turn it down. I miss so many calls that way.

But, it’s your choice, if you turn this on, then when no other sounds are playing, the volume buttons will set the ringtone volume.

iPhone mute button: on iPhones there is one more control over sound. You can easily stop the phone from ringing by switching on the mute button. It’s on the left side of the phone, directly above the volume button. If you see red when you look at it, that means your ringer is off and your phone will only vibrate if you get a call. This is very quick and handy for those times when you don’t want your phone to ring – but you need to remember to switch it the other way when quiet time is over or you’ll miss a lot of calls!

Android: when you press the volume buttons you should see info pop up on your screen about which volume is being affected. From that pop up you can drag down, or tap a settings icon to see more choices. This screenshot is from my Samsung Note 9 phone. I pressed a volume button and initially saw a volume control just for Ringer, when I dragged down on the Ringer message, I get all these choices. Notice that the default for media is Off – that is why my first option was for Ringer.

Stop the ringing!

One of our very favorite smartphone tips is that, when your phone is ringing, you can make it stop by simply pressing a button. It must be a physical button, not any onscreen button. The up volume, down volume, or power button will do. So, if you’re in a quiet theatre and your phone starts ringing, you don’t have to fumble to get it out, open it, unlock it, find the phone call and hang up. No, all you need to do is press a button. Unless you have a phone case that covers up all buttons, you can usually just squeeze the sides of your phone and you’re bound to hit a button. So, even if the phone is in your pocket, you can grab and squeeze the sides and the ringing will stop. The call is still there – you can answer it, or let it go to voice mail – but the ringing will stop.

The camera shutter button

And now, for something completely different, did you know that the volume buttons can be used to take a picture? That’s right, when you’re using the camera on your phone you don’t have to tap that round button on the screen to take the shot, you can press a volume button instead. Sometimes this is more comfortable when you’re holding the phone in such a way that your finger is already poised on the volume button. Either the up volume or the down volume works. This even works on the volume buttons on earbuds – kind of like a remote control.

This works on both iPhone and Android phones, but some Androids may have a camera setting that lets you choose whether the volume buttons take a picture or zoom in/out.