Tag Archives: Blogs

Cloud Storage: Learn About Your Accounts

cloudsWhat is “Cloud Storage?” You’ve probably heard of DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive, and iCloud. These are all systems for Cloud Storage of your files, any kind of computer files. There are also cloud storage systems like Flickr and Google Photos that are specifically designed for storing your photo files.

Cloud storage means using the Internet (aka the “web”, aka the “cloud”) to store your files rather than a computer’s hard drive. Sometimes it means using the Internet AND your computer’s hard drive – they synchronize with each other so that the cloud copy and the computer copy stay the same. Make revisions on one, and the system revises the other. The beauty of that type of system is that, when you don’t have an Internet connection, you still have your files on your computer; and when you don’t have your computer, you can get to your files on the Internet. Systems like DropBox take care of keeping the files in sync automatically.

Do you know your Account ID?

So, let’s say you don’t have your computer – you’re at a friend’s house, or a colleague’s office – and you need one of your files. How do you get it?

  1. You need to know which system is storing it: DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, etc. Go to that system’s website, e.g. DropBox.com
  2. You need to know your account information. These systems store files for millions of people, they know which files are yours by your account information. An account is usually identified by an email address and a password.

Think of Cloud Storage Accounts like Bank Accounts

It’s like keeping your money in a bank. To get your money, you need to know which bank it’s in. You also need to know your account number. If you walk into a Wells Fargo bank and give them the account number from Bank of America, you’re not going to get your money!

Now, imagine that you know your bank is Chase, and you walk into a Chase bank. In the lobby there are colorful balloons, and a sign that says you could win a free trip to Fiji with an account and a $200 minimum balance. You say why not?! You fill out the form and hand over $200 – not realizing that you have just opened a second account. You start writing checks with the new checkbook you got and wonder why they soon start bouncing when you know you have thousands of dollars at Chase Bank. Yes, but that money is in a different account!

I’ll bet you’re saying, I would never do that! Ah … but this ‘multiple accounts’ issue happens all the time in the world of technology and Cloud storage accounts – probably because it’s all invisible. You don’t get a checkbook with the bank’s name and the account number written on it.

It’s up to you to remember what service you signed up for, what email address you provided as your account identifier, and what files you are storing there.

Google Accounts = One Account, All of Google

Let’s say you’ve been keeping your photos online in a Google account (starting with Picasa Web Albums, now Google Photos) for years. Your username (email address) and password are stored on your computer so you never need to remember it. You just know that when you want to see your pictures, you click on a certain button. But I know that the key is your Google Account email address and password. Now, it’s time for you to buy a new phone. You get an Android phone and the conversation with the salesperson goes something like this:

Salesperson, “To finish setting up your phone, we need to enter your Google account username and password.”
You, “I don’t know my Google account username and password.”
Salesperson, “No problem, we’ll just make a new one for you – it’s free.”
You, “OK.”

Next time you want to look at your pictures, they’re not there! Why? Because it’s all part of one Google Account, your email, calendar, Google Drive files and your photos. They’re all stored on Google’s servers under an account. If you’re signed in to the wrong account, you won’t see the files you expect.

Microsoft Account Controls OneDrive

The same is true for your Microsoft account. If you buy a new Windows 10 computer you will be prompted for your Microsoft account when you set it up. Many people don’t know they have a Microsoft account so they follow the prompts to create a new one. When they try to view their files on OneDrive, they’re in for a shock when the OneDrive folder is empty! That’s because OneDrive is a Microsoft cloud storage service where your files are stored under your account!

Keeping your Accounts Straight

I think it is unfortunate that these systems allow you to set up an account with any email address. That means you can set up a Microsoft account by giving them a Gmail (Google mail) email address. Personally, I find that confusing. I’ve made sure to set up my Microsoft account using a Microsoft email address – that means @outlook.com or previously @hotmail.com. My Apple iCloud account uses an @icloud.com email address. Actually, I wish that online accounts followed the same procedures as banks and issue you an account ID number. Then, you could change your email as often as you like – your account ID would not change.

With systems like DropBox that do not offer their own email system, I have my default personal email @gmail.com or my work email @GeeksOnTour.com. Be especially careful using a work email address on any system where you may want to continue having access to those files even after you no longer work there. I have a friend who is an entrepreneur and she decided she didn’t like the website name she had chosen. Let’s say that she had a business with a web address of ITrainCats.com. She used that for her email address as well, Beverly@ITrainCats.com. When she decided to change to ITrainDogs.com she also changed her email address, not realizing it, she lost access to several cloud storage services which were using her old email address as her account ID.

Keep it Straight! Write it Down!

Some Things Never Change

Technology is constantly changing. We spend most of our time trying to keep up!

We’ve been supporting technology for a long time. Chris has been writing about technology over 30 years. She started when she was 5 or 6. Haha.

Here is an article from 1987 about the state of technology then. It was written by Chris Van Valkenburg, that was Chris’ name before she married me. She owned a computer training center called Computer Savvy Workshops back then. While reading it, I swear it could be written today with only a few name changes, and it would still be valid. The first article is titled “Nothing New for 1987 … please.” Let’s change the year to 2016 and just a couple of words, then the opening paragraph becomes …

Usually, in contemplating a new year, you can come up with a wish list of new computers smartphones, software apps, or new features for old software apps. This year my wish is for NOTHING new to happen. There are too many new things on my desk right now.

Click on the graphic to read the newsletter. It takes you to Evernote, but you can click the skip button in the lower right to go to the link. You don’t need an Evernote account.

1987

 

Blogger and Live Writer

imageGeeks on Tour teaches that Every Traveler Needs a Blog! We teach how to use Google’s Blogger program to write your blog because we think it is by far the easiest, and most reliable system out there. We’ve been keeping our travel blog on Blogger since 2003 and we are still very happy with it. Its main competitor is WordPress. We use WordPress for our entire business website (what you’re looking at right now) and it is a wonderful system, but way more complex than is necessary for a personal travel blog.

Blogger is Online

Blogger.com is entirely web-based, you don’t need any software on your computer in order to use it, just browse to Blogger.com, log in to your Google account and start blogging. Hey! You don’t even need a computer! We were teaching our Technology for Travelers seminar at an RV park last week (Thousand Trails, Peace River) and we spend, at most, 15 minutes on teaching Blogger. After showing this video: Create a Blog in 3 Steps with Blogger #036 *FREE we asked the audience, “How many of you think you can make a blog now?” Everyone in the room raised their hand, and we heard one voice from the back saying, “I just did!” Using her smartphone, and watching the video, she created a brand new blog while she was sitting in the class!  … and that happens often.

Live Writer can be used Offline

What you do need for Blogger is an Internet connection. Lots of people, especially travelers, tell us they want to write a blog post when they are offline and upload it later. The native Blogger.com has no facility for that, but there is a free software from Microsoft, called Live Writer that can. Rather, there was a free program from Microsoft. That program is now obsolete, at least for using it with Blogger blogs. Microsoft decided is was not a priority and they discontinued support and upgrades. So, when Blogger.com changed the way logins work, the Live Writer program no longer works to upload to Blogger. Oh No! Some people depended on Live Writer to the point where they really did not want to use Blogger.com’s native facility for writing their blogs.

Luckily there are some dedicated, volunteer, programmers out there willing to take over the project and Open Live Writer (OLW) was born. It was released on December 9, 2015. You can go to the link to download it. Please notice that Open Live Writer is a project by volunteer programmers, you know what volunteer means right? They’re gluttons for punishment! There have been many problems since it was first released, but it seems to be clearing up. I used the new OLW and consistently got errors trying to publish to my Blogger blog. Today, I uninstalled OLW from my computer, re-downloaded the installation file from http://openlivewriter.org/, installed that and everything is working just great.

Watch these Videos (Premium membership required)

Blogger.com is Good

Open Live Writer is Windows software, so if you have a Mac, it won’t work. There are alternatives (ScribeFire, MarsEdit, Article on Desktop Blog Editors for Mac) but I haven’t used any of them and cannot recommend. Blogger.com can be used directly from any computer, phone or tablet, and Google is updating it all the time. Blogger.com works really well with pictures in Google Photos. I can take a picture with my phone, open Blogger.com on my computer and add the picture to my blog that I just took by using the “Add Image … from Phone” option. SO quick and easy.

It appears that Google is very committed to Blogger, there are important recent updates such as HTTPS support coming to Blogspot, and Highlight the posts that matter the most.

Use them Both!

Bottom line: there is no reason why you can’t use them both. I use Blogger.com when I want to use my Google Photos that are online and not on my computer, I use Open Live Writer when I want to work offline, or I need one of the special features like making tables.

The Way We Learn

For the last year or so, I had been using the native Blogger.com for making my blog posts, so I was blissfully unaware of the problems with Live Writer. Thank you to Sharon DelRosario and her blog, Gypsy and the Mariner, for alerting us to the Open Live Writer launch, and to  Rick Doyle for – all sorts of Tech news and advice, but specifically for getting Sharon’s blog back up and running with Open Live Writer!

 

To enjoy full access to the Geeks On Tour Library of “How To” Videos for Blogger and other topics including the Weekly Show Notes sign-up for a membership today!

Can I use my Google Photos Pictures in my Blog?

imageIf you’re like me, you are using the amazing capabilities of Google Photos as a home to your lifetime of photos. Also, if you’re like me, you have a blog and you want to add photos to your blog posts. I’ve been getting a lot of people lately asking the question, Can I use my Google Photos pictures in my Blog?

The answer is Yes! But, the process differs depending on what you’re using for your Blog. The most common blogging platforms are Blogger.com and WordPress.com. I’ll cover each of them separately.

Using your Google Photos Pictures in your Blogger Blog

This better be simple! After all, Blogger is also made by Google. Well, even though it is easy, it’s not exactly simple because there are 6 ways that Blogger can insert pictures, and all but the last one involves Google Photos for hosting the picture. When you are creating or editing a post in a Blogger blog, you click the “Insert Image” tool to get a picture.

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Then you will see several choices. I almost always use option #3.

  1. Upload: this option gets a picture from your computer (it doesn’t work on mobile devices.) It uploads that picture to a special Web Album just for that Blog. For example, if your blog is My Excellent Adventure, then you will have an album with the title My Excellent Adventure. This album is hidden from view in Google Photos, but is still visible using the Picasa Web Albums interface. www.picasaweb.google.com  When you view that album, you will also see the image Blogger logo, and a link to View Blog.
  2. From this Blog: This refers to the special Web Album for this blog. It contains all the previous pictures used in this blog that were either uploaded from your computer, or copied from your phone. I have never felt the need to add a picture that was already on my blog somewhere else, so I don’t use this option.
  3. **From Picasa Web Albums: This option gets any picture from your Google Photos library that has been collected in an Album. It is misleading that the name is from Picasa Web Albums. It does not need to be an album created by Picasa. An album created strictly with Google Photos will be available here. This is the option I use most often, because the first step in my photo process is deciding which of my photos are the best and putting them into albums. Those albums then become my source of pictures for my blog.
  4. From your phone: This does not mean directly from your phone. This assumes that you have Google Photos installed on your phone and you have the Backup and Sync turned on. If that is the case, then all the pictures you take with your phone are in your Google account, and you can use them in your blog with this option. If you do pick a photo using this option, it will be copied to the special photo album for this blog – so you need not fear it being deleted from your main photo library.
  5. From your webcam: This means to take a picture (or a video) with the camera built into the screen of your laptop. If you use this option, the picture will be stored in the Web Album for your blog.
  6. From a URL: This means that there is a picture somewhere on the Web, maybe even one that does not belong to you, and you want it to show up in your blog. URL stands for “Uniform Resource Locator” – it is simply the Internet address for any given picture. For example, I have a Facebook friend who is a great photographer. If I want to talk about him and put one of his pictures on my Blog, I can go to where he posted a picture in Facebook (he must have posted it publicly, or this won’t work) using Chrome I can right-click and Copy image URL. Now I come back to Blogger, Insert Image, From URL, and paste what you just copied. You should see the picture, then click OK.

Using your Google Photos Pictures in your WordPress Blog

imageWordPress can host your pictures directly, unlike Blogger. When you have a WordPress blog, you have a media library folder. You can use the “Add Media” button and the “Upload Files” to add a picture, from your computer to your media library. But that’s not what we’re covering here. What this article is covering is how to use a picture that is already uploaded to your Google Photos library. WordPress is not owned by Google (WHAT?!) so it doesn’t work directly with Google Photos. There may be plugins that can do this, but that’s another topic.

To insert a picture from Google Photos to a WordPress blog post:

  1. Click the button for “Add Media”
  2. Choose the option to “Insert from URL.” it’s located in the left sidebar
  3. In another Chrome browser tab, visit www.Photos.Google.com click on Collections, then click the down arrow and choose Albums. It is very important that your desired picture be located in an Album, otherwise only you will see it.
  4. Once you’ve found the album, locate the picture and click it so you are seeing just that one picture. Now right-click the picture and choose “Copy Image URL”
  5. Go back to the WordPress tab that you just left and paste the URL. Then click “Insert into post” – it’s a blue button in the lower right corner. When you do this, the picture will show up in your blog post, but it will not be taking up any space in your blog’s server structure. It is just referencing the photo in your Google Photos Library. If the picture should ever get deleted from Google Photos, or moved from the Album it is in, then the picture disappears from your blog post.

Note Aug 2016: this technique no longer works! see this post: embedding photos from Google Photos.

Do you have any other techniques for inserting pictures into Blog posts? Please leave a comment – we’d be happy to hear them.

Apple IDs and Sync’ing

imageFor Apple devices like iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers, your Apple ID (an email address) provides your identity. Your Apple ID is the key to seeing the contents of your online accounts with Apple – both iTunes/App Store and iCloud. Your Apple ID is kind of like your fingerprint in giving you access to your information. Synchronizing means using your Apple ID to identify your iCloud account, send data such as pictures and contacts from your phone to your iCloud account, then copy that data to any other devices identified by the same Apple ID. This makes your personal data show up on multiple devices. If it’s set up properly, it means you can add a contact using your phone – and that contact will be there when you look on your computer. Take a picture with your phone, and you can see it on your iPad in just a minute.

But, if you don’t use it right, watch out! Let me give you a few examples:

  1. Harold bought a new iPhone and he gave his old one to his daughter, Susan. He didn’t bother to wipe it clean first, and Susan didn’t change the Apple ID recorded in the phone’s settings. She just started using the phone as she normally would. She used the calendar to enter reminders for when she needed to refill her birth control prescription. This reminder shows up on her Dad’s phone, because it was using the same Apple ID to identify his calendar!
  2. Eric and his wife, Wanda, use the same Apple ID because they want to only pay once for Apps that both of them use. They should have used the Family settings instead. When Wanda takes pictures with her iPhone, they are sent to the iCloud Photo Stream for her Apple ID – which is the same as Eric’s Apple ID – and those pictures show up on Eric’s imagephone. Any pictures Eric takes also show up on Wanda’s phone. Their contacts and Notes will also be the same.
  3. The movie Sex Tape, tells the story of a young couple who decide to record a sex tape of themselves, using an iPad. It takes them a while to realize that their old iPads that they had given away as Christmas gifts to family and friends, were still using their Apple ID – so the sex tape was being synchronized to those old iPads. They were mortified that their parents, and their mailman, could now watch their sex tape on the iPads that they gave them.

Lessons to Learn

So, what are the lessons to be learned here? First, you should know your Apple ID – and the password associated with it. To find out what Apple ID is being used for any iPhone or iPad, go to your settings, then iCloud – you’ll see the email address (Apple ID) right under the words iCloud. Also check the iTunes & App Store settings and you’ll see an Apple ID listed there. Although you can use different emails for iCloud and iTunes, it is highly recommended that you use the same one.  You also need to know the password. If you tap on View Apple ID, you will be prompted for a password. If you don’t know that password, it is best to go to a computer and a web browser to go to www.AppleID.com. That is where you can try your passwords, and reset it if you’ve forgotten your password.

Second, your Apple ID is YOUR Apple ID, you should not let anyone else use it. It is like your fingerprint for your devices. These are very personal devices meant to handle your information, and synchronize that information to other devices that are yours.

Third, if you do have a family who wants to share Apps, you can set up the Family settings. Each member of the family, with their own unique Apple IDs, can be listed as members on one Family and one member of the Family can be designated as the “organizer” of the Family.

Fourth, if you give an old device away, you should wipe it clean first! Find instructions on on Apple’s website to Erase al content and settings on your iPhone, iPad.

These Geeks are On Tour!

In case you’ve wondered what’s the deal with Geeks on Tour. What do they do? Why do they say they’re ‘On Tour?’ Let me give you an example of a week in our life …

We get booked to present seminars at RV Rallies, RV Parks, Computer Clubs, Senior Centers, and even people’s homes as we travel around the country in our Motorhome.

We were scheduled for one such seminar at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Fairfax, Virginia on Saturday, September 12. This is in the Washington D.C. area so we arrived a couple of days early and parked our RV at Cherry Hill RV park, taking advantage of several buses that stop right at the RV park and take you in for sightseeing in D.C.

On Saturday morning, we left the RV park in order to get to Fairfax and do our Google Photos seminar for a joint computer club meeting at 1pm. They did a nice job of promoting us:

Picasa Content

They had a large parking area marked off for us to use:

 

It was a good group – we thought the seminar went quite well. It was also live streamed over the Internet using something called Zoom. If we get a link to a recording, we’ll post it here. And here’s some comments we got afterward:

 

We really got a lot out of your presentation.  I intend to use Picasa and Google Photos.  The others, iPhotos, Aperture and Apple Photos didn’t stir up my interest enough to really put the time into learning them.

 Today’s presenters were terrific!  Both my wife and I found their presentation to be extremely helpful and very current.  Jim and Chris could not have been any better!

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We left Fairfax about 4:30 headed to our next stop in Raleigh, N.C. to do our weekly streaming show, “What Does This Button Do?” We were scheduled to do this week’s show at the home studio of Martin Brossman about 270 miles away. We just needed to get on down the road, so we stayed in a Walmart parking lot that night, got our grocery shopping done, and made it to Martin’s by 11am on Sunday. He has a nice big driveway!
This is a live show … aka STRESSFUL! You have to wait until showtime to click the button that reads “go live” and, guess what! The button simply wasn’t there! This was our 52d show and we’d never had this problem before. Jim had to quick set up an entirely new show stream. But, he did it! And Martin was great for rolling with the punches. We got started about 12 minutes late, but continued on with a successful show. The topic was the Amazon Echo and Martin runs a community on Google Plus about it.

Click the picture above to watch the whole whole show (we cut out the first 10 minutes!) You can see all of our shows by viewing the Youtube Playlist for What Does This Button Do?

After the show, we went out for dinner and had a GREAT time with Martin. We are definitely “Geeks-of-a-Feather.” He shared with us his expertise on Social Media for Business – and gave us a copy of his book. We shared with him our expertise on Google Photos and gave him our library-on-a-drive of all our videos and eBooks.

Then we got back on the road again sometime after 5. We really don’t like to drive at night, and had no place we needed to be for a couple of days, so after a couple hours, we just found a rest area and pulled off. We cranked up the generator for power, threw something in the microwave for dinner, read emails for a while, and went to bed.

Home for the night – 9/13/15

Next stop, Hilton Head, where we are booked for several events. First off, a sold out hands-on class teaching people about using their smartphone cameras.


Then, a presentation for the Hilton Head Island Computer Club (click the image to view their website):

And, then 2 more presentations for the Sun City Hilton Head Computer Club.

We taught 2 1.5 hour seminars, one that is an overview of Google Photos, and another that was an open Q&A about all things smartphone and tablets. We were told that they wanted us to come back any time it was possible – they would arrange their schedule for us!

Over this one week period we gained 31 new premium members and several dozen newsletter subscribers. Thus is the life of the Geeks on Tour!

Further your computer education**Subscribe to the Free Geeks on Tour Newsletters**

Watch our Weekly Online Show on Learning Smartphones and Tablets!

Mapping and Sharing Your Travels with Google My Maps

At the recent FMCA Convention in Madison Wisconsin, we taught a seminar on Google’s My Maps. After the seminar we had a great conversation about making maps with Bob Weithofer who attended the seminar. He ended up sending me a link to a map he made just for his family along with an email that said:

We use Google Maps as a way to keep our family informed of our plans for the year. The places we have been are shown in the standard red tear drop marker. The places we are going to are shown as a star. Each location is numbered so they will know what order we are visiting these locations.

They can click on the marker and get the dates we will be at the campsite and possibly some information about why we are there. They can click on the star and have the physical address, phone number and website of the locations where we are and where we plan to travel. This is because I search for the location of the campground on maps and added it to my map. They also get the table on the left side. Finally, they have access to the photos we’ve attached.

The Big Picture view of Bob’s Map:

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A more zoomed in view of Bob’s map, with the legend in the left sidebar.

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This is Great! I’m always so happy to see that the topics we teach really DO have practical application for other people, and I learn things in the process as well!  Bob creates this map using Google My Maps, then he shares it with family members and any one else who he wants to know his whereabouts. The red markers are his actual stops, the places marked with a star are planned stops yet to come. The lines in between are just placeholders where he stores the mileage between stops. Each marker is numbered in the legend at the left, so his family knows what comes next. Each marker is clickable. When it’s clicked it pops up a dialog box that may contain the dates of the stay, the details of the location, and maybe even some photos of when they stayed there.

Geeks on Tour’s Map of 2015 travels:

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I create our travel maps in much the same way. The image above is our map for 2015. You can see all 12 of our annual RVing maps by viewing the Maps page of our blog. If you look closely at our map you will see two A’s. That is both because we have more than 26 stops, and because I made one “Layer” for our winter locations and another for summer. The third layer shows in ? icons because we have yet to go there. When we do go to a planned stop, I move it from the “Planned” layer to the “Summer” layer (something I learned from Bob!) Clicking on any point on the real map, will pop up some descriptive text and maybe some pictures.

Sharing Your Map

We’ve shared our maps publicly, so we can put them on our blog, but you don’t have to. Your map can be completely private, or you can share with just specific people. When you’re editing your map, you will see the option for Share at the top left – at least that’s where it is today Smile They keep moving it! You can copy a link to send to anyone you want to see your map, or you can invite someone to collaborate and edit your map by entering their email address, or you can make it public. If you do nothing, it is a private map.

There are many other uses for My Maps, e.g.

  1. A list of places in the world where you want to visit
  2. A map of all the National Parks with one type of marker for ones you’ve visited and another for ones you haven’t
  3. A map of all the places you’ve lived
  4. A map of where your ancestors came from

To use Google’s My Maps, you start with the regular Maps.Google.com. It’s best to use the Chrome browser, but not essential. What is essential is that you must be logged in to your Google Account. Check the upper right corner of your screen and see the circular icon – usually your face – that represents the account. If it’s not you, or it says, “Sign In” then click there and sign in with your Google account. Then click the 3-line menu, and then My Maps. You will then be able to open one of your existing maps, or create a new one.

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There is also help available on the same menu. If you are a Geeks on Tour member, here is a list of some of our tutorial videos just on My Maps:

  1. Creating Custom Maps #328
  2. Adding Pictures to Custom Maps #329
  3. Viewing and Sharing Custom Maps #330
  4. Custom Maps (My Maps) Drawing Lines #377
  5. Import Placemarks from Spreadsheet #379
  6. Import POI Data Set to My Maps #380

I’m so glad that Bob shared with us how he uses Google’s My Maps. If you use My Maps, please leave a comment below and tell us how you use it!

Can Facebook be your Rally’s Website?

by Chris Guld of Geeks on Tour

We’re holding our Techno-Geek Learning  Rally for about 40 attendees, but we think that many more may enjoy the benefits if they had a way to follow along from home.  So we created a Page in Facebook for that purpose.  This article is about our reasons for using Facebook rather than a traditional website.

rally-facebook page

A normal website is primarily one-way communication. Social media (e.g. Facebook) these days allows us to have communications in multiple directions.  People reading your Facebook page can not only talk back to you, they can also  communicate with each other.  They can even share your page with their friends … can you say ‘word of mouth advertising?’

The rally that we’re holding is a joint effort between us – Geeks on Tour, and Phil and Tracey May of  TechnoRV.  Rather than attach the rally to either of our business websites, we’ve decided to try a Facebook Page.  This way the rally has a web identity of it’s own, separate from either Geeks on Tour or TechnoRV. 

The Techno-Geek Learning Rally Website/Facebook Page

Take a look and tell us what you think.  The URL is www.facebook.com/technogeeklearningrally.  If you’re not a member of Facebook, you can still see the page, you just can’t interact with it.  If you are a member of Facebook, click the ‘Like’ button to connect to our rally.

Benefits of using Facebook

First of all, it’s free, and Oh-So-Easy.  Beyond that, it’s interactive.  We really wanted our rally website to be a place where people could upload their own pictures and updates about what they were seeing and learning at the rally.  This is difficult with any other website.  With Facebook, so many people already know how to post pictures and update status, so it happens quickly and easily.  This can expand an event to be a virtual rally for anyone who ‘Likes’ the page.  By the simple act of clicking ‘Like’, anything posted by us on our Rally page will show up on your newsfeed. You can ‘attend’ the rally even though you’re thousands of miles away.

This is a pretty small rally on the ground … about 40 people, but the online rally in the Cloud can be hundreds!

Drawbacks of Using Facebook

Of course, the main drawback is that not everyone is on Facebook. As mentioned above, a Facebook page can still be seen even if the viewer is not on Facebook.  So, it still serves the purpose of a static webpage for everyone, and it is automatically interactive for anyone who does use Facebook.  You might be surprised at the percentage of RVers who use Facebook – it’s substantial, and growing every day. 

Another drawback, especially for large organizations where you’re bound to have someone unhappy about something, is that unhappy people can post to your page just as easily as happy people.  As the Admin for your page, you can delete offensive posts.  If the complaint is legitimate, you can build more good will with followers by keeping the negative comment and  responding in a helpful way.

What is a Facebook Page?

If you use Facebook you may think you have a Facebook Page, but you probably don’t.  What you have is a ‘Profile’ aka your ‘Timeline’ or ‘Wall.’  Profiles are for people, real people, with real names.  Once you have a Profile on Facebook, it is a piece of cake to create a Page for your business, club, or other entity.  It is so easy, it literally takes only 5 minutes. But, creating it is just the beginning.  Getting people to know it’s there is the time-consuming part.  You need to promote your Facebook page, just like you would any website.  But, once you get people to ‘Like’ it, they may promote it to their friends and help you build the readership with no further promotion on your part.

What is a Facebook Group?

Like a page, it is easy for any member of Facebook to create a group.   From your home page (News Feed) you should see a link in the left sidebar to ‘Create a Group.’  Where a Page can only be public, a Group can be Open, Closed, or Secret.  Facebook’s Group feature is intended to give small groups a place to collaborate.  Groups have members.  You don’t just ‘Like’ a group, you Join.

What is an Event?

An event is yet another entity within Facebook.  This one has a date, a location, and you can invite people.  People can respond to say they are attending or not.  Any person, page, or group can create an Event.  An Event can be for Public, Friends, or Invitation only.

Confused yet?

Me too.  It was really unclear whether we should create a Page, Group, or Event.  After discussing it, we decided to create a Page.  AND an Event.  This is our first Techno-Geek Learning Rally, but we hope it’s not our last.  The Page can grow its content continually while we also schedule events.  So, we now have the TechnoGeek Learning Rally page, plus an Event for the May 2012 Rally, and another Event scheduled for November 2012.  For the future event, you can get on the list by RSVPing that you’re ‘Maybe’ going.  This way, you should get all future notices about the Event.  We’re also hoping that the current Event gives us a way to communicate with just the people who are actually here at the Rally.  There are some things, like schedule changes, or other details, that we want to post to the few dozen  folks who are here, without bothering the hundreds who may have liked our Page. 

Other Rallies with a Facebook Presence

I notice that the other rallies we’re gong to this summer also have Events on Facebook, but not very many people have RSVP’d.  Without the RSVPs, you can’t use it to communicate with attendees, but the Events are still good for giving the details of the specific Event.

Good Sam Facebook Page
  June Rally Event

FMCA Facebook Page
  August Reunion Event

Escapade 2012 Group
  Escapade 2012 Event
 

It’s a Learning Rally!

Our event is called the Techno-Geek Learning Rally, not just because we’re going to be teaching lots of computer stuff, but also because we’re experimenting and learning ourselves!

Follow along and learn with us by Liking the page.  And, let us know your thoughts along the way!

 

Geeks On Tour is Jim and Chris Guld. They have been traveling the US in their RV since 2003. They teach fellow travelers how to use computers and technology to plan, preserve, and share their travels. They have both been involved in professional computer support and training since the early 80s. They maintain a family of websites including www.picasatutorials.com containing hundreds of articles, and www.geeksontour.com where members can watch tutorial videos on all their topics.

Feedburner: Send Readers an Email of every Blog Post

by Chris Guld, www.GeeksOnTour.com

In a previous newsletter article I wrote about “What is an RSS Feed and why you want One.”  That article showed how to make your blog accessible to your readers thru their Feed Readers.  But this is only good for those people who use and understand a Feed Reader.  How many people who read your blog fall in that category?  Just as I thought 🙂

It might be second nature to kids these days, but for us Boomer-and-Beyond generation, many are just getting the hang of email.  With just a little bit of set up work, you can use Feedburner to automatically send an email of your blog post to anyone who asks for it.

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