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

How to use your phone to watch movies on your TV – and stay under your data limits.

Many of us have data plans on our phones that have Unlimited on-device data. What that means is that, as long as you are viewing online media on your phone, you can view as many hours as you want. But, if you turn on the hotspot feature for your other devices to share that data, there are definite limits and associated charges.

The problem

Let’s say you want to watch a Netflix movie. Just pull it up on your phone and watch right? Oh, but it looks SO much better to watch and listen on your TV’s big screen. And, for more than one person to watch, the TV is necessary. If you use your Smart TV’s Netflix, it will need to connect to Wi-Fi and that will cost you. Or, if you cast your phone’s screen to the TV using something like Chromecast, that is still using WiFi.

Here’s the answer

Play the movie on your phone, and connect your phone to the TV with a HDMI cable. In that case, the TV is just acting as an external monitor to your phone – no WiFi involved!

What you need

  • A mobile device with an unlimited data plan: All iPhone’s can mirror. My Samsung Android phone can mirror. I’m not sure about other Android phones, you’ll have to just try it or look it up in your phone’s documentation, or read the guide linked below.
  • An HDMI cable for your TV
  • An adapter for your phone to the HDMI. The iPhone will need a HDMI -> Lightning adapter. My Samsung Note 9 uses an HDMI -> USB-C adapter

Now all you need is the popcorn!

Note: for lots more information on how to best use your phone for streaming video, check out this guide from our friends at MobileInternetInfo.com.

2021 Learning Survey

Help us pick our topics for 2021 by rating your interest in these suggestions.
We’ve listed many possibilities, don’t fret over each one, just click level 4 or 5 if you’re interested, level 1 or 2 if not. Mark 3 if you have no opinion.
There’s room at the end to tell us about anything else you’d like.
The survey will only take you a couple minutes, please help us pick our topics.

Make a map for your 2021 travel plans

I don’t know about you, but we had lots of travel plans that never happened in 2020. I’m hoping we get to make up for lost time in 2021, so I’m going to start building my map now. There are several different tools I use for mapping out our travel plans, RVParky and Roadtrippers are important, but its Google My Maps that is my foundation. I add places to the map at the beginning of the year, then I edit those locations as we travel during the year and at the end, I have a history of where we went. Check out our collection of maps on our Blog here.

Google Maps vs Google My Maps

Most people have not heard of Google My Maps. It is different from Google Maps. My Maps is just that – it is for your maps. The base map comes from Google Maps, but you mark the places you want to go. You can also add lines, routes, comments, links, and photos to your places. You can get to My Maps by going to MyMaps.Google.com. Make sure you are signed in to your Google Account, then you can begin to Create a Map. You can also get to My Maps from Google Maps – click the “Saved” button at the bottom, scroll down and you’ll see a tab for “Maps” at the right.

Markers and Layers

Markers are what you put at individual places. They may be general destinations, like Atlanta. They could be specific places like the Day’s Inn motel in a certain city. They can also be stops on a driving route. Markers on your map may be places you make up – like “Family Reunion” or they can be places that exist on Google Maps that you want to appear on your map. Markers can be customized with different colors and icons.

Layers are groups of markers. You may have a layer for work and another layer for play. You may have a layer for destinations and another for the driving route. You may have a layer for westbound and another layer for eastbound. You are limited to 10 layers per map. Each layer may have many markers. If the markers are simple places the limit is 2,000 places per layer. However, if it is a layer of directions, the limit is 10 destinations per layer.

The legend is on the left. On the map, the teardrop markers are on the winter layer and the stars are on the summer layer.

Start your map

All you need to do is go to MyMaps.Google.com, make sure you are signed in with your Google account, click Create a New Map, and then start adding markers.

Add markers by searching: If the place you want to mark has a name on Google maps, you can use the search box at the top to find it. e.g. “Disney World.” Click the search icon and it will take you there and open the info card for Disney World. Now you can just click on +Add to Map to place a marker there.

Add markers just by clicking: If the place you want to mark is unique to you, first select the marker tool from the toolbar (looks like a teardrop) and then click the spot on the map. Now you can give the marker a name.

In either case, you will see your markers appear on the map as well as in the left sidebar. You can give your map a name at any time by clicking on “untitled map” at the top of the left sidebar. You can leave your map at any time – it is automatically saved. Return to the map by visiting MyMaps.Google.com.

View our collection of videos for learning Google My Maps on our Playlists page.

December 2020 News: Google Photos Free No More, Make a custom map from a photo

  December 2020 | Issue 160  | Archives
What’s Up with Jim and Chris – the Geeks?
We are Thankful for you!
To all of our newsletter subscribers and especially our premium members, Thank You! It is your curiosity and desire to learn that keeps us on our toes, and it is your financial support that makes GeeksOnTour.com possible. We miss seeing all of you in person this year as all our normal RV Rallies were cancelled due to the Pandemic, but we are thankful that online video meetings via Zoom have allowed us to stay in touch.

What Does This Button Do?

We added two new episodes to our YouTube “Button” shows in November.

Tutorial Videos – for members


What’s coming up – Our Calendar Nov/Dec 2020

We’re Presenting LIVE – online!
  • December 2, 10am – noon ET Google Photos Workshop $49. Must pre-register. Contact Us
  • December 9, 7pm ET: presentation for Sun City Center Computer Club “How to organize your photos” will be presented on their YouTube channel
  • December 11, 3pm – 5 ET Google Photos Workshop $49. Must pre-register. Contact Us
  • December 21 at 3pm ET  Google Photos Live Q&A streaming to Facebook and YouTube. Chris will demo and take questions.
Live YouTube Shows Sundays at 2pm Eastern time “The Button Show”
No shows in December – see you next year!Read Mor
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. Connecting a Router to a MiFi
  2. Google Photos Map Info
  3. Loading a DVD to Google Photos
  4. Getting Google Photos Images to OneDrive

Google Photos Free Unlimited Storage is Ending

Google Photos has been known for offering free, unlimited cloud storage for all your photos and videos. With the billions of photos being uploaded to their service, it has become unsustainable for them to continue that policy. They have announced that, as of June 1, 2021 that policy comes to an end. However, all photos and videos already uploaded in High Quality will remain free, it’s just the
new uploads that will be subject to the new fees.

Making a custom map with Google My Maps

This video is about making a custom map using Google My Maps. What if the spots you want on the map are out in the ocean? Or in the middle of the desert? How do you get the coordinates to add them to your map? Take a photo! This video will explain. See Episode 185 of our Button Show for more info on how to make maps.How Do I Make a Custom Map Using GPS? Tutorial Video 612
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 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!

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.

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.
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 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.