Tag Archives: CoPilot Live

August 2012 Newsletter: Google+ Hangout, Narrated Slideshows, Verizon 4G, CoPilot Live

Geeks on Tour

August in the MidwestPaula Sands Live interview - WKQC, channel 6 Davenport, Iowa

It’s all about learning.  In order to teach, we need to continue learning.  At the beginning of the month we attended the Screencast Camp held at TechSmith Corporation in Okemos, Michigan.  During August, we taught our hands-on Picasa Photo Editing class 3 times.  Twice in the Quad-Cities and once at the FMCA Convention in Indianapolis.  Click the picture at the right to see a video of us on the Paula Sands TV show in Davenport, Iowa.

Calendar: Coming up in September

  • Sep 3-7: Gypsy Journal Rally in Celina, OH
  • Sep 14-16: Hands-on ‘Camp Reboot’ at Escapee’s Rally in Sedalia, MO
  • Sep 16-21: Escapade in Sedalia, MO.

For more details, see our website Calendar.

Hang Out With Us

We will be trying Google+ Hangouts as a way to have impromptu meetings and training sessions.  But, first, we need to just get used to how it works.  If you’re interested in trying it with us, mark your calendar for Sep 25 at 4pm Eastern Time, and Sep 26 at 11am Eastern Time, then go to our Geeks on Tour Google+ page and leave us a comment.

Forum Topics

The Q&A Forums on the Geeks on Tour website are a great place to discuss the topics we cover.  This is where we answer our members’ questions.  Anyone can read the forums, you need to be a member to post.   Here are some topics of interest:

  1. Arrows on Photos with Picasa
  2. Picasa no longer Uploads to Blogger
  3. Facebook Pictures to Picasa?
  4. Facebook Access to my Contact List
  5. No charge for WiFi hotspot with your 4G phone

Chuck Woodbury of RVTravel.com

Chuck Woodbury of RVTravel.com

Our RVTravel.com Neighbor at FMCA

We’ve been followers of all the RV News and stories at RVTravel.com for many years.  Chuck Woodbury writes a newsletter *weekly* !!  Every Saturday morning you can depend on reading his personal RVing stories as well as industry news.  So, it was quite a treat when we discovered he was parked right next to us while at the FMCA Convention in Indianapolis.

Both of us were quite busy, but we found time to have dinner one night, swap RVing stories, and even record a couple of videos.

Sign up for your FREE RVTravel.com online newsletter and stay on top of all the news  information and advice to RVers about the RV lifestyle, plus tips about how to maintain your RVs.


 

Make a Narrated Slideshow – Easy and Free with Photo Story 3

ps3We’ve been teaching Photo Story 3 for several years now.  It is a free program from Microsoft that was developed for Windows XP.  In fact, the download page still says that it is only for Windows XP, and newer versions of Windows are not supported.  We use it on Windows 7 and it works fine.  The only quirk we’ve noticed is that, when you download it, it’s important to use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to do the job rather than Chrome or Firefox.

We love teaching Photo Story 3 – it is the easiest topic we cover.  People who consider themselves computer illiterate leave our class and go straight to their computer to make a professional looking movie with their pictures, music, and narration.  We try to keep up with the times, so have been looking for a replacement for Photo Story.  We simply haven’t found one.

We just taught the seminar last week at the FMCA convention and we thought it would be the last time we taught it, but it was so well received!  One person told us afterward that it solved a dilemma for her in that she had been asked to provide videos of her Church project and she just didn’t know what to do since she had no experience with video.  With Photo Story 3 she could simply use the dozens of photos she’d already taken, add motion, narration, and music.  Voila!  She has a video of her project.

Make a Movie with Photo Story 3

When you first open Photo Story 3, you are prompted to begin a new project and import pictures.  We recommend using Picasa to prepare all the pictures you want to use and export them into one folder so they are easy to find.  Then, Photo Story 3 works like a wizard, when you’re finished with the first step, you click the button to continue, and it tells you what the next step is.  When you’ve run out of ‘Continue’ buttons, you’re done!

Narration is Easy

One of the steps is narration.  There is a place where you can write notes for yourself about what you want to say.  Each piece of narration is attached to a picture – which makes it much less intimidating than having to narrate an entire slideshow.  Just add narration to the pictures that need it.  The rest will just play to the music.

Let the Program Compose the Music

Lots of software, even Picasa, allow you to add a song – a music file – to a slideshow.  Photo Story will do that as well, but it has another option.  It will actually compose music.  All you do is pick a genre (classical, country, etc.) and a tempo, Photo Story does all the rest.  There are two reasons why this is so special:

  1. Timing: since the music is being composed to fit your slides, it has an ending at the appropriate time
  2. There is no copyright, so you can upload to public sharing sites like Youtube without running afoul of their terms of service.

Why settle for boring slideshows when you can direct and produce a movie for free.  We have 11 tutorial videos on Photo Story 3 that show you how, step by step.  Or you can just download the software and start playing!  If you make a movie and upload it to somewhere that we can see, leave a link in the comments OK?  Here is one that I made about my family’s early RVing experiences.

Leave a Comment …


Verizon’s Amazing 4G LTE Coverage – Good and Bad

We have been SO impressed with Verizon’s 4G service this summer!  As I write this, we are in the small town of Celina in northeastern Ohio.  There are NO major metropolitan areas anywhere near us, and we have blazing fast 4G LTE from Verizon. 

Earlier this summer, we were parked in a Thousand Trails campground called Carolina Landings, near the mountains in S Carolina.  When we first arrived we had a good 3G connection and since these Thousand Trails parks pride themselves on being in natural surroundings far from big cities, we counted ourselves lucky to get online at all.  While we were there, Verizon ‘flipped the switch’ on 4G in the area.  Wow!  Instead of clicking on a Youtube video and watching it painfully start and stop, the whole video would be loaded before I even decided whether or not I wanted to watch it!

Fast Speeds = More Data Used

With those kind of speeds, you can go thru a lot of data in a short time.  Luckily, we have an unlimited data plan, so we don’t worry, but if you have a 2GB, or even a 5GB plan, you need to keep a watch on it.  Every phone will have some way to check your data usage.  On my Motorola Droid Razr Maxx from Verizon, there is a Verizon widget right on my home screen that displays my current usage.  Your phone also has an app from your Provider (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.)  that gives you a way to see your overall usage.

You may also want to dig a little deeper to see exactly what is using the data.  On the Android 4 system, you can visit your System Settings, Wireless and Networks, Data Usage, and see the screen pictured above.  It sorts your data-using apps by the greatest usage.  You can see that Google+ is on the top of my list. That’s because I have it set to automatically upload all pictures taken by my phone.  You may also have that feature turned on – it’s a wonderful feature!

Use Wi-Fi When Available

If you have data limits, you can also change a setting so that Google+ only performs these uploads if you’re connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot and therefore, not using the limited data from your provider.

The screen at left shows what you see when you touch Google+ on your data usage screen.  At the very bottom is the option to ‘Restrict background data.’  You check the box for ‘Disable background data on mobile data network only.  Wi-Fi will be used if available.  To use Wi-Fi, you must be in a Wi-Fi hotspot, then go to your Wireless and Network Settings, Turn Wi-Fi on, and choose the name of the Wi-Fi hotspot that you have available to you.

Check your plan to see what you’re allowed and how much you pay for overages.  It’s not as bad as it used to be.  Most Verizon plans charge $10 for each Gigabyte of data over your limit.  So, even if you go 5GB over, that’s only $50.  It used to be hundreds of dollars for that kind of overages.

Leave a Comment …


CoPilot Live: an RV-Aware GPS for Mobile Phones and Tablets

clip_image002CoPilot Live Premium, North America Maps $17.99 for iOS and Android. For complete pricing and map availability, visit their website at www.copilotlive.com. There is a free version, but it does not offer voice-directed turn-by-turn instructions. Technology can make travel a richer experience. Teaching technology to travelers is what Geeks On Tour is all about. We have been using GPS for navigation since we started RVing back in ’03. Keeping up with this stuff is a full time job and we love it. Visit us at www.geeksontour.com.

Our Advice

Don’t get rid of your paper maps and atlases. Do get the CoPilot Live app for your mobile devices – we like it. It is available for Android phones and tablets, iOS iPhones and iPad 3G, Windows mobile, and laptops, too. Be sure to read thru the excellent user guide available on their website under the Support menu. ALK, the company behind CoPilot has been in the business since 1979. They know what they are doing, and they do it well. I first got the CoPilot app for my Droid RAZR phone and used it in our travels from Louisville, KY up through New Jersey, New York, and New England. While in Vermont, I bought the new Google Nexus 7 tablet. The main reason for getting the tablet was for navigation. This review is based on those 2 devices.

Read the Full Article …


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312.SM-CoPilot Live: an RV-Aware GPS for Mobile Phones and Tablets

by Jim Guld

CoPilot Live Premium, North America Maps $14.99 for iOS and Android. For complete pricing and map availability, visit their website at www.copilotlive.com. There is a free version, but it does not offer voice-directed turn-by-turn instructions.

Technology can make travel a richer experience. Teaching technology to travelers is what Geeks On Tour is all about. We have been using GPS for navigation since we started RVing back in ’03. Keeping up with this stuff is a full time job and we love it. Visit us at www.geeksontour.com.

Our Advice

Don’t get rid of your paper maps and atlases. Do get the CoPilot Live app for your mobile devices – we like it. It is available for Android phones and tablets, iOS iPhones and iPad 3G, Windows mobile, and laptops, too. Be sure to read thru the excellent user guide available on their website under the Support menu.

clip_image002ALK, the company behind CoPilot has been in the business since 1979. They know what they are doing, and they do it well.

I first got the CoPilot app for my Droid RAZR phone and used it in our travels from Louisville, KY up through New Jersey, New York, and New England. While in Vermont, I bought the new Google Nexus 7 tablet. The main reason for getting the tablet was for navigation. This review is based on those 2 devices.

Stand-alone Dashboard GPS navigation tools have been around quite a while, and they still have their place. More and more I see them being replaced by general purpose devices like smartphones and tablets running navigation apps.

The Big Picture, Planning Vs. Navigating:

Size matters. So does distance. I still like planning our trips using a laptop and a combination of Microsoft Streets & Trips, Google Maps, and paper maps. The big laptop screen makes it easy to see and the information available is unprecedented. Navigation using the laptop requires a GPS receiver and a secure place to mount the laptop. It is much easier to mount a mobile device running CoPilot for navigation. I have decided that for me, the 7 inch screen is ideal for trip navigation. I attach it to our dashboard with a simple strip of Velcro.

I still use the free Google Navigation with voice search on my Droid for around-town driving, finding restaurants, stores, etc. It is always with me.

The Nexus 7, with its superior resolution, Android 4.1 OS, reasonable price, and responsive touch screen is a great way to go. And, unlike other Wi-Fi only tablets, it includes the GPS receiver. More on the Nexus 7 in an upcoming review.

Though you can use the app right after downloading, you will want to customize it for best results. Spend some time with the settings for the Map Display, Guidance, Traffic, Speed Limits, Language & Voice, etc.

clip_image004Vehicle Preferences are especially important for RVers. Height restrictions and Propane restricted tunnels are nice to see and are usually available only on higher end GPS units. We entered our RV height at 12’ 6” and it properly routed around some low bridges but not all. Admittedly, we’ve never seen so many low bridges as we did in Connecticut, none of our devices or other resources showed all of them.

The Pros: Almost too many to list. Here is a summary.

  • Great street maps which are stored on your device. No need for a data connection while navigating.
  • RV aware settings for height and propane.
  • Excellent spoken turn by turn directions – short and clear. Visual cues on the screen are easy to follow.
  • Trip planning is easy. Alternate routes are suggested. You have complete control to drag your route to exactly where you want.
  • Choice of 2D and 3D views, with or without directions on screen.
  • There are multiple ways of adding a destination. You can select a contact from your address book, pick a location on the map, input lat/lon coordinates, and even use a geotagged photo.
  • Price. It is inexpensive if you already have a device. It is worth buying a device just to have the app.
  • FREE Quarterly Map Update for All CoPilot Live Premium Android and iOS Customers

The Cons:

  • Sound is not as loud as most dedicated dashboard units. You can use Bluetooth or cable to your radio, if so equipped. I think I will get a new dashboard radio with Bluetooth capability for better volume.
  • The onscreen keyboard is flakey. Strange things sometimes happen when using it for input. Occasionally typing an entry just won’t work at all – pressing search enters your typing twice, or adds extra characters. This can only be called a bug. I have seen this mentioned in other reviews.
  • Discrepancies in maps and directions. No GPS Navigation or map is completely and absolutely accurate. This app is better than most, it did correctly route us around some low clearances, but not all. We are using the CoPilot Live Personal – not CoPilot Live Truck, which is available for $149. There is a way to send corrections to CoPilot. On their website, you’ll see a link to ‘Submit a Map Improvement.’ They guarantee that the corrections will be made within 45 days.

In conclusion, this is a great app for navigation and planning on your smartphone. It is even better on a tablet like the Nexus 7.

A Short Video Demo of CoPilot Live on the Nexus 7 Android Tablet

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