Tag Archives: Android

Dashcam Apps to Document your Travels

Would you like to have an automatic recording of the road you traveled? Think of the beauty you could capture driving through the mountains. Or how about just a documentary on getting out of town.  When that jerk pulled out in front of you, how would you like to capture that license plate?

Maybe it’s not important enough for you to buy a dashcam. Did you know you could use that tablet that’s just been gathering dust? Just add a free Dashcam app, mount it onto your dash (velcro will do) and turn it on! No data connection required. You do want to have it plugged into power though, since it is running all the time it will drain your battery pretty fast.  Here is a sample of the video and stills captured from our RV as we got out of town!

We used a 7 inch Samsung tablet and the Daily Roads Voyager app for Android. If you need an app for iPhone/iPad, we found one called DashCam. We discuss dashcams in our What Does This Button Do show #101. Here’s a link to the point where we start the section on dashcams.

wdtbd

How Does a Dashcam Work?

If the dashcam is running all the time, how does it store all that video? Does it use the Internet? No – you do not need an Internet connection, everything is handled directly by the phone or tablet. The vidoe is stored on a loop. It’s recording all the time, but when it reaches the specified time limit, it starts deleting the beginning of the recording. Any time you want to keep a portion, just tap the screen to save and a specified amount of video, or still frames, will be stored in a separate file. If you’re in an accident, the accelerometer in the device alerts the app and it automatically saves that segment.

Some dashcams are now calling themselves “Black Boxes” because they can record not only the video out your windshield, but also audio, and diagnostic information from an OBD – On Board Diagnostic – device. We haven’t tried it yet, but CaroO is one that makes this claim. Next trip, we’ll give it a shot.

Winegard ConnecT WF1 WiFi Extender for RVs

by Jim Guld

Winegard is taking their extensive knowledge of TV antenna technology to the WiFi frequencies with the new RV Internet WiFi Extender they named ConnecT. They provided us with a pre-release model to test and we put it thru its paces at an RV park and parked in a friend’s yard.

What is the ConnecT?

The ConnecT’s purpose is to extend available WiFi signals from public or private hotspots you find at RV Parks, Truck Stops, Rest Areas, etc. for a better signal over a longer distance to your rig.

The ODU, or Out Door Unit, is designed to be permanently mounted on your roof with the provided hardware. It has 3 high-gain antennas and 3 amplifiers and feeds the hotspot signal through a network cable to the IDU, or In Door Unit.

The IDU creates a private and secure WiFi network inside and around your rig to connect all your Internet devices, computers, tablets, phones, and printers. You have both 2.4GHz and 5GHz band networks and you can configure a Guest Network as well.
It can be free standing or mounted to a wall.
The IDU is powered by an AC adapter and uses POE (Power Over Ethernet) to power the ODU through the RG-45 cable.

Setting it Up

imageWe were at an RV park in Florida, for the Living The RV Dream rally when the ConnecT arrived. It came well packaged with installation sheets.
Links below the review will take you to the Winegard product and support pages.

I chose to not mount the ODU permanently to my RV roof for the evaluation.
Your mounting location should be carefully planned. The three removable antennas on the ODU might be prone to damage from low hanging dangers. A 25′ cable is included so you have a lot of freedom.

Once everything was connected and powered, it was easy to go through the setup on the computer in a web browser. I connected to the ConnecT’s default WiFi signal and opened a browser window. The instructions are clear and easy to follow with screen shots.

  • Navigate to 10.11.12.1 to open the local configuration screen.
  • Login and scan for available WiFi signals.

I was impressed by the number of results on the page. Many more WiFi hotspots than my unaided laptop could see. The page recommends connecting to those with greater than 50% signal. The only one available to me was pretty close and strong. The others were password protected but it was a good first test.

The drop-down menu system for other options could be more user-friendly. Maybe better on-screen prompts. Response speed in the interface should be improved as well.

My initial Internet speed tests through the ConnecT were good. Only the expected loss from earlier direct connection tests because of the way networks work.

Remember, when you connect to a WiFi hotspot, your effective speeds are limited to the Internet bandwidth available to that hotspot. Even if you have a great connection to a hotspot, that hotspot may not be connected to a fast Internet source or their shared connection is overloaded.

Most of you have probably been there.

I went through the steps to upgrade the firmware without a problem and everything connected back up fine.

Configuring the ConnecT and Having Problems

I renamed the SSIDs for the 2.4 and 5GHz networks and enabled the Guest Network and set new passwords. I tested those networks and everything seemed fine at first. I was looking forward to using the ConnecT for our Youtube live streaming session the next day.
That’s when the trouble started. When we really needed it, I started to have problems with bad slow downs and even drops. I reset everything several times. Sometimes now it took several tries to even reconnect. When I did and checked all the settings, everything looked fine.
I still encountered problems connecting. Sometimes to the local IDU and sometimes it was inside the system to the available outside signals.

Starting Over

We made it thru the Youtube live streaming event, sometimes switching over to our Verizon phones as hotspots. Later, I did a factory reset on the ConnecT and performed a new setup. That seems to have fixed my problems.

Next Stop, Everything Works Great

We moved to a rural location for further testing. We parked our rig on a friend’s piece of land. We were between two available residential WiFi routers inside buildings about 30 and 100 yards away. I had an unobstructed line of sight to the closer building. There were a few trees between me and the farther signal. My laptop unaided could only see the closer signal and sometimes had trouble staying connected. The ConnecT even saw a few other distant signals on the scan results. Both connections were solid and speeds were consistent.

The ConnecT had no trouble connecting me to distant WiFi signals I couldn’t even see on my laptop’s built-in adapter. That’s what this thing is for.
The convenience and security of having all your devices connecting to your own local network are great. You can finally get that wireless printer to work with everything.

Overall, the system works quite well. The $549 price seems a bit high. You will learn a little about networks in the process and the instructions are clear. Permanent installation of the ODU on your roof might require a pro.

Here are links:
http://www.winegard.com/connect
http://www.winegard.com/support?support=Winegard_ConnecT_WF1_WiFi_Extender


Continue your Education with Geeks on Tour by subscribing to our Newsletters!

How I Cleaned up the Contacts on my Phone

clean-out-contactsI got my first cellphone in 1994. Some of the contacts I entered back then were still on my current Samsung Galaxy smartphone, 22 years later! As of last week, I had nearly 1,000 people in the My Contacts list, and 2,294 in Other. Many of these entries had no phone number. Many of them were only Google profile listings. Lots of names I didn’t recognize, and even worse, some of them I recognized as people who died years ago.

How did this happen? First of all, I admit that I hate to delete anything, I may just be a digital hoarder. But that’s not all. Every time I bought a new phone, starting with my first cellular “flip-phone” in 1994 to my third Android smartphone in 2014, the sales person would make sure that all the contacts in the old phone were transferred to the new one.  Smartphones make it even easier to add more contacts. They can be added without my even knowing by  automatically entering from my emails, Facebook, and Google. So my contact list only got larger, never smaller.

I just bought a  new iPhone 7+ and I plan on using it as well as my loyal Samsung Galaxy S5. I am no longer having a salesperson transfer contacts from one phone to another. In fact, I try very hard to not store contacts on the phone at all, it’s all cloud storage for me. So, when I first started setting up my new iPhone, I wanted to prevent it from using the default Contact system which stores contacts on the phone and backs it up to iCloud. I decided to set it up with my Google contacts, and nothing but my Google Contacts. If I can do the same on my Samsung, then I can use my computer to clean up my Google Contacts and, voila! both phones will match.

The Steps I took

  1. Back up my Google Contacts using the computer, going to contacts.google.com and Exporting all contacts to a .csv file that I can view using Excel. This way I can always get a contact back!
  2. On iPhone: Settings, Accounts, Gmail=turn contacts ON, iCloud=turn contacts OFF
  3. On Samsung: Contacts, Settings, Contacts to display=only check my gmail account. Whenever I add a new contact, make sure it shows my Google account at the top as the place where contact is being added.
  4. On Computer – go to Contacts.Google.com, view “Other” contacts and delete them all. 250 at a time.
  5. Still on Computer, start reviewing everyone in My Contacts and deleting!
  6. On either phone – I can now trust that all devices are seeing the same synchronized set of contacts, so I can start cleaning them up with whatever device I have handy.

With my new-found confidence of clean contacts I am now filling out the information on the good contacts that are left! What a concept! A contact list that actually has valuable contact information! I’m even setting up their photos whenever I get a chance. I especially love this little trick for adding a photo to a contact – when you don’t have a photo of that contact! We taught this in episode 22 of our “What Does This Button Do?” show. Here’s the link:  Adding a Photo to a Contact when you don’t have a photo!

Keep On Learning

Keeping your contact lists clean is a continual struggle. First, you need to understand where your current contacts are coming from, and where a newly added contact is going to. There is no magic bullet. There’s a lot to learn. We did 2 complete shows on the topic, I recommend you watch! Each show includes separate tips at the start and end of the show, then the “Beginner’s Lesson” is in the middle.

I also recommend reading  Google’s Help pages on managing contacts.

#97 Living the RV Dream

Show Notes for Members below

Not a member? Join here. This episode covers:

  1. Tip o Week: Setting an Alarm
  2. Beginner’s Lesson: About RVing!
    Interview John & Kathy Huggins, LivingTheRVDream.com
    Interview Eric and Tami Johnson, TechnoRV.com
  3. App o week: Ookla Speedtest, OpenSignal, Google Maps

Download .pdf (you’ll see a Dropbox login, but you can just close it – no Dropbox account is needed)

Click Here To View This
Beginning Where are we?
Living The RV Dream Rally
image
1:11 Tip of the Day – Set an alarm with OK Google (or Siri)
Simply talk to your phone: Android = OK Google, Set a timer for 15 minutes.
Apple: Siri = hold down on home button until she’s listening, then “Set a timer for 15 minutes”
1:34 Interview John and Kathy Huggins of LivingTheRVDream.com
John and Kathy have been fulltime RVers for about 10 years. They are best known for their weekly podcast, “Living the RV Dream” and for their extremely popular Facebook Group: Living the RV Dream.  Over 34,000 members and growing daily!
imageThey’ve also written a couple of RVing books. So You Want To Be An RVer? will tell you everything you might every want to know about RVing!
image

John and Kathy discuss how RVing has allowed them to see so many things in the United States. Especially Mr. Rushmore!

Note: we had a little technical difficulty with the video for a while, but we covered with photos – and the live video does pick up here.

10:16 We talk with John and Kathy about Internet Technology on the Road.
15:28 Interview Eric and Tami Johnson of TechnoRV.com

image

Eric and Tami bought TechnoRV from our friends Phil and Tracey May. Years ago, we put together our own RV rallies called Techno-Geek Learning Rally. Phil and Tracey have since moved back to their home in the UK. We are enjoying getting to know Eric and Tami.

They talk about how they made the decision to go RVing. With 3 kids in college, they have a few more considerations than many of us!

image

Eric and Tami are continuing the TechnoRV process of evaluating, using, and supporting products that are useful to RVers. They’ve done a great job of vetting their products, teaching how to use them, and supporting their customers.

Some of the products they sell at TechnoRV.com
image

25:16 Eric does a little bit of Show and Tell and teaching about  his Wi-Fi booster equipment. Indoor antennas, outdoor antennas, and repeaters. Wi-Fi vs. Cellular.
He shows the Alfa Desktop WiFi Booster. The Alfa WiFi Repeater, and and Outdoor WiFi Booster TubeThere’s lots more on their website, and if you fill out the form on this page, you can get their
“Guide to Boosting your RV’s WiFi”http://www.technorv.com/RV_WiFi_Boosters_s/85.htm
image
33:05 App of the Week
In addition to our App, both of our guests had some suggestions!
Ookla Speedtest, OpenSignal, Google Mapsimage

Printicular is the only app we’ve found that can access your Google Photos. Choose the ones you want to print, send to the Walgreen’s nearest you and you can pick up your prints in an hour!

36:11 Tami gets excited about Google Photos!! She learned this week how easy it is to import her lifetime of photos from many different sources.

Ends at 37:55 Complete Playlist of What Does This Button Do shows.

Print Photos, Pick up in an Hour

imageIf you want to get prints of your photos, and you don’t want them mailed home when you’re on the road, Walgreens has your answer.  It’s an App called Printicular and it allows you to select photos from your phone, OR from Google+, Instagram,  Facebook, Dropbox, Google Photos, or Flickr. It’s the only app I’ve found that allows you to select from Google Photos. To me that means I can select any picture from my entire lifetime, because they are all in my Google Photos account!

You can order different sizes at very reasonable prices:

  • 4X6 Prints – 0.29
  • 5x& Prints – 2.49
  • 8×10 Prints – 3.99

20161026_152435Before you select the pictures, you can choose to pick them up at the nearest Walgreen’s. A map with all the nearby Walgreens will display, allowing you to pick the one you want. You will get an email notice when they are ready – usually about an hour. I ordered on a Friday night and didn’t get an email till Saturday morning, but that seemed appropriate. I ordered 7 prints, picked them up the next day for $2.03.

One thing you can’t do, directly from the app, is to order gifts like mousepads or coffee mugs. I noticed that Walgreens advertises the ability to make these, but I’m sure they can’t be done in an hour!

  • App: Printicular, by MEA Mobile for Walgreen’s
  • Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone
  • Cost: Free

Chris Guld is President and Teacher-in-Chief at GeeksOnTour.com. She has been in computer training and support since 1983 and owned a Computer Training Center called Computer Savvy from 1983-1996. She has been a Fulltime RVer, popular seminar presenter at RV Rallies, and regular contributor to RVTravel, for many years.