Tag Archives: #GeeksWhoTeach

Our favorite road trip planner is RVParky, what’s yours?

Yay! We are on the road. We plan to be gone about 6 weeks, and it’s important to me that we have an overview of where we’re going and when. I don’t need to plan every detail, I’m a big picture kind of gal. I find that RVParky suits my needs perfectly. 

It’s important to know what kind of travel planner you are in order to find the right tool for you.

#1 = all you know is you’re headed West

#3 = you have major stops mapped and scheduled 

#5 = you have reservations for every night, and every turn is mapped out in your GPS

There are several popular road-trip planning tools out there

I use RVParky for my planning. I love how easy it is to add stops, set the number of nights we’ll stay there and then see exactly when we will reach our next destination. For example, here is the first week of our current trip. Notice the driving time and mileage in between stops and the Dates and number of nights at each stop. Those are exactly the things I want to know when planning my trip.

Did you also notice the “Auto-Split” button? There is a setting for how many miles you want to travel in a day. If your plan goes over that number, the Auto-Split button appears. When you click that, RVParky marks a spot exactly halfway to the next destination. Then you can click the “Find a place to stay” and add a night stay. 

You can even click on any of the dates and see a simple calendar showing where you plan to be on each day.

I do most of my planning using RVParky on a computer thru the website, it is also an app on Android devices and iOS devices. All 3 versions allow you to view your trip in the list view and a map view. The calendar view is not availabel on iOS yet. 

Here’s the map view:

I find that we almost never stick to a plan, so I also love how easy it is to delete/change/add stops on RVParky and all the mileage and dates are recalculated immediately.

See this past article about RVParky: Travel Planning: Calculating Dates It also includes a video showing exactly how to use the website.

What about you?

What kind of traveler are you? Do you need every detail planned? Or do you just go? What trip planning tools work for you? Please leave a comment below.

About the author: Chris Guld has been teaching technology since 1983. Since 2010 her focus is on travel, smartphones, maps, and photography. You can get her current book: Learn Google Photos at Amazon. Chris is a Diamond Level Google Product Expert in Google Photos.

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 tap the 3-dot menu and then tap a settings gear icon to see more choices. This screenshot is from my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultro phone. I pressed a volume button and initially saw a volume control just for Ringer, when I tapped the 3-dot menu I got several volume controls identified by icons. From there, I tap on the settings gear and get more controls with written descriptions. I get all these choices. Notice that the default for media is Off – that is why my first option was for Ringer. To avoid accidentally turning the Ringer way down low, I want this setting ON so that it generally controls media like music or videos rather than Ringtones.

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.

187. What does a Zoom online meeting look like?

Everyone can view any episode for free. Just click on the play button above. Geeks on Tour premium members get detailed show notes below.

Note: Zoom is not one of our normal topics, but we do use it a lot and recognize that many more people are needing to use it now in the era of Coronavirus quarantines. That was our motivation for showing this topic, and also for that reason, we are making the show notes free for anyone. Stay healthy my friends.

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

0:00 Intro

Chris explains that this episode is a follow-up to Episode 186. In Episode 186 we taught the basics of Zoom meetings. Then, the next week we invited GeeksOnTour.com premium members to join us for a live meeting. This is a recording of that real Zoom meeting, warts and all. We include some of the time before the meeting where participants are gathering and getting comfortable. The screen being recorded is Chris’ screen, as if you were sitting in her place at the computer, so you see when she clicks on the controls.

1:47 Beginning of recorded meeting

Just some chit-chat while people get comfortable in the meeting. You’re looking at what’s called the “Gallery” view which shows everyone in their own cubicle. Notice the yellow outline around whoever is speaking. When participants first gather, they should always test their microphones and be sure they know how to mute and unmute. (more on that later)

4:22 Multiple screens of people

Showing how to view multiple screens of people when there are more participants than fit on one screen. There are blue arrows in the middle right and middle left side to scroll back and forth between multiple screens.

8:15 Start of meeting

9:00 Start Poll

Chris starts by using a feature of Zoom called “Polls.” She created a poll ahead of time and now presents it. Each particpant sees the Poll on their screen and can click on their choices and Submit. Chris’ screen sees the cumulative results of the poll. When she ends the poll, she has the option to show everyone the results.

Getting Help

The Zoom website has in-depth help. Just go to Zoom.us and click Support in the upper right – that will open up the Help Center.

14:18  Mute and Unmute

The first, and most important tool to master is Mute/Unmute. It works with both sound – microphone, and video – camera, but it is most important with sound. Especially in large meetings, people should remain muted unless they are speaking. In smaller meetings when everyone is in a quiet place, you can stay unmuted, making it easier to have a comfortable meeting. Whenever someone makes noise, Zoom assumes you are talking and highlights you as the speaker.

You can also turn off your camera. If you have a Zoom account, and you’ve uploaded a profile image, that image will be displayed when your camera is off. Otherwise, just your name will appear.

Audio and Video settings – You may have more than one microphone attached to your computer, you may also have more than one camera. You need to tell Zoom which one to use, and there are lots of adjustments that can be made as well.

18:10 Changing the name displayed on your cubicle

Move your mouse and you should see a 3-dot menu in the upper right of your cubicle, click that and then Rename. Enter whatever you want and  OK


There’s a chat button at the bottom that you can click to open up a right sidebar. You can send a message to everyone, or you can click on the down arrow and choose one person to send a private message. If you have a lot of participants, you should assign a person to pay attention to this chat. This way people’s messages won’t get ignored.


Participants is another button at the bottom that opens up a right sidebar panel. In that panel you can see all the people, you should also see buttons for “non-verbal feedback.” If the speaker asks a question like, “Do you have a Zoom account?” Everyone can answer Yes, or No by clicking that feedback button and a Yes or No icon will appear next to their name.

29:00 Gallery vs Speaker View

Each participant has control over whether they are seeing the entire group in “Gallery” view or just the person who is speaking, known as “Speaker” view. When in Speaker view the person speaking (making noise) will be taking up the main stage. That person will switch when someone else starts talking. The rest of the people will have “thumbnails” above the speaker. You can scroll thru those thumbnails by clicking the blue arrow at the right side, then scroll back with the blue arrow at the left side.

Chris calls the Gallery view, “Hollywood Squares” some others call it the Brady Bunch.

32:25 Browser version of Zoom is missing some basic controls like Gallery View.

38:39 Virtual Background

This feature of Zoom allows you to designate a virtual background even if you don’t have a green screen. If you want it to be even better, then you need to buy a green screen – it’s green fabric that you put behind you and the computer system is programmed to replace the green color with whatever graphic you choose.

You can have any graphic you want. Chris says that she has searched the web for backgrounds and found images she really likes. Make sure they are copyright free, download them to your computer, then you can use the + to add them to your choices for Virtual Backgrounds.

46:36 Share Screen

People often have a Powerpoint slide deck they want to present while they speak, or some computer screens that they need to demonstrate some procedures, or just a photo slide show etc. That’s what screen share is for. It is quite easy, the hard part is just knowing whether or not your audience is seeing it. Since you’re already seeing your screen, it’s hard to tell when you’ve been successful at sharing. It’s common to ask your audience, “Are you seeing my slide that says ….” Everybody needs a little reassurance!

Which screen to share? When you share a desktop screen, anything you put on that screen will be shared. When you share one single app or browser tab – that is the only thing that will be shared.

If you’re sharing a video, make sure that the option (in bottom left) for Share computer sound is checked.

54:22 How to learn more

Zoom.us – you don’t need to log in, you don’t even need an account. Click on Support in the upper right and you’re at their Help Center. Here is the Zoom.us video that we showed. Sharing your screen

Video on How to use the Polls feature

186. How do I use Zoom for online meetings?

Everyone can view any episode for free. Just click on the play button above. Geeks on Tour premium members get detailed show notes below.

Note: Zoom is not one of our normal topics, but we do use it a lot and recognize that many more people are needing to use it now in the era of Coronavirus quarantines. That was our motivation for showing this topic, and also for that reason, we are making the show notes free for anyone. Stay healthy my friends.

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


zoom meetings

Quick Start: Demonstration of using an iPad to host a meeting. It is so quick and easy – anyone can do it. In this demo, Chris already has a Zoom account and knows her instant meeting ID to send to people (instructions for this later). She shows just how easy starting a meeting can be.

  • Install the Zoom meetings app from the App store
  • Make sure you have an account with Zoom
  • Open the app, tap on New meeting, Start meeting
  • She already sent link to meeting ID to the people you want to join you, when they join they will appear
  • Tap the screen to see controls like “Gallery view” to put everyone in their own box.
  • Other controls include turning audio on/off and also turning video on/off
  • Note: the poor sound in this demo is due to our feeding Zoom sound into the YouTube stream. The zoom sound itself is good.

7:14 Hello and introduction

We use Zoom a lot for Toastmasters meetings. You can see a sample meeting where our Online Presenters Toastmasters club teaches how we use Zoom to hold a meeting including participants from around the world! How to host an online Toastmasters meeting. Note: if you watch the Toastmaster video, within the first 2 minutes you will see why it can be so important for participants to remain muted (microphone off) unless they are speaking. The unintentional noise is very distracting. The meeting host therefore has the power to mute ALL. You will also notice that some participant’s video pops up in unwanted places – that is also because their microphone is on. The “active speaker” view automatically gives video focus to whoever is talking – or making any noise.

Zoom can also be used to bring a remote speaker into a live meeting. Here’s a very short video: Remote speaker via Zoom

10:18 What is Zoom?

Many people have experience with video calling apps like Facetime, Skype, Hangouts and Facebook messenger. For all of those, each participant needs an account and one person needs to call the others. When someone gets a call, they can answer.

Zoom is built for video meetings – the “host” sets up the meeting and sends a link to the others. The people who are invited do NOT need a Zoom account, all they need is the link. Think of it like the host sets up in a room and all the participants need to do is enter that room.

Get Help

Got questions? the Zoom.us website has all the help you could ever want. Just go to Zoom.us and click the Support link in the upper right. You will see a search box to type in your question, or you can browse popular topics and one minute video introductions. I especially like the Live Training section at the bottom. If you can’t attend a live session, just scroll down to see past lives session recordings.

13:40 How to Join a meeting

Most people will never Host a meeting, but many will have occasion to join a meeting – so our first tutorial is on Joining your first Zoom meeting.

614.OT-Zoom How to Join a Meeting

What equipment do you need? A laptop is perfect because it has a camera and microphone built in. If you’re in a noisy environment, you may want a headset.

You DO NOT need a Zoom account to join a meeting. Just go to Zoom.us and enter the ID of the meeting you want to join. Or, if you received a link to the meeting, just click the link. If this is the first time you’ve ever joined a meeting, you will be prompted to download a small zoom app. You can enter your name, and you can choose to have your video and audio start active.

Clicking on Gallery view puts each participant in their own box. Speaker view puts the speaker in the big window and shrinks everyone else.

It is very important to know how to turn your microphone on and off and also your video camera.

While you’re in a meeting, if you open some other window on your computer, you can return to the Zoom meeting by clicking the Zoom icon at the bottom of your screen in the task bar.

When you’re ready to leave the meeting, just move your mouse and a link to “Leave Meeting” should appear, just click it.

21:27 Meeting controls

  • Gallery
  • Speaker View
  • Your Sound
  • Your Video
  • Exit meeting

615.OT-Basic Zoom Meeting Controls

Gallery vs Speaker View
To see the Gallery view, click the 9-dot grid in the upper corner (on computer). When you’re in Gallery view, the button will now read Speaker view – click that to go back to the view where the person talking has the big screen and everyone else is shrunk. You can go back and forth between Gallery and Speaker view as often as you like, this only affects your view of the meeting – it does not affect anyone else. Each person controls what view they see.

When in Speaker view, the person in the main window will switch to whoever is speaking – or making any noise. If you want to stay on one person regardless of who is speaking, you “pin” them. You can click on the 3-dot menu in that person’s box and choose Pin, OR you can right-click on their name or their face and you should also see the pin option there.

To UNpin, you should see a link in the upper left of the speaker’s box that reads, “Unpin”

Your video and audio settings
Click the up arrow next to the microphone and you will see all the possible microphones available to your computer. You will also see Settings where you can adjust things like Volume.

Same with the video camera – click the up arrow and you’ll see any possible cameras available, you’ll also see the Virtual Background setting, and just Settings

Share screen
The green button in the bottom middle allows you to share your screen. The default choice will share whatever is on your monitor. You also have options just to share specific windows or tabs. When you share your screen, you do take over the main stage for everyone in the meeting. Notice the checkbox in the lower left to “share computer sound” – that is important if you will be sharing a video.

The Chat… button at the bottom will open up a sidebar where you can chat with the entire room, or just one individual.

25:35 A real live meeting with our YouTube viewers.

At this point we posted the link to our Zoom meeting in the YouTube chat and let anyone who wanted to, join the meeting. Yes we’re crazy! Here’s what it looked like:

Zoom meeting

As expected, it was a bit of a cacophony.

33:49 Joining meetings with a mobile device – Android demo

Video 616: Join a Zoom meeting with an Android phone

Chris started a meeting on her laptop, Jim demonstrates how he joins with his phone. He opens the email and taps the link to the meeting, that opens the Zoom app which he already had installed, gives him a chance to edit his name, then clicks OK.

Audio – he taps the icon for Join Audio in the lower left so he can be heard, then he taps the Start Video icon so he can be seen. At first he sees the meeting in Speaker view so he only sees Chris. To get to Gallery view, he swipes left (to go the the rightmost screen) He can swipe left or right among 3 different screens. the furthest left screen puts him in Driving mode and mutes both his audio and video. When he swipes back to the middle screen, his audio and video automatically return.

Switch to rear camera
It can be very useful in a meeting to switch from selfie mode to the rear camera. That way the meeting participants are seeing what you’re looking at rather than seeing you.

  • tap the screen so that the controls appear
  • tap the switch camera icon

Share Screen
Tap the green “Share” button at the bottom, then choose Screen, and your other participants will now be seeing exactly what is showing on your phone’s screen. Really cool! While you’re sharing, the Share button becomes “Stop Sharing” – tap that to … stop sharing!

37:38 Get a Zoom account to host a meeting

Video 617 Create a Zoom account and get an instant meeting ID

  • Go to Zoom.us
  • Click Sign up, it’s free
  • Enter an email address, and it says you will receive an email with the link to set up your account
  • Open that email and click the link, Enter your name and create a password
  • You now have an account!
  • Notice you now have a Personal Meeting ID (PMI) It is a URL that you can send to anyone and have a meeting. Note: check your settings if you want to use the PMI for instant meetings without a password.

40:49 Settings

There are LOTS of settings for hosting Zoom meetings. Go to Zoom.us and click on “My Account” in the upper right. You should now see a left sidebar with an options for Settings.

Notice the menu option for Meetings – here’s where you can schedule meetings, even recurring meetings. The same meeting ID can be used for up to one year.

44:50 Review Questions

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 →

October 2019 News: Print Photos, Voice navigation with Street names, Geeks on Tour: our story

Geeks on Tour

October 2019 | Issue 146  | Archives

What’s Up with Jim and Chris – the Geeks?

Sunset on Erie

We are ON TOUR!

We started September by presenting our Google Photos seminar at Senior Planet in New York City. Next came the Roadtrek RV rally in Foxborough, MA, then in traveling through Ohio to Chicago, we presented to five technology User Groups. One more to go in October then a couple of RV related rallies as we head south.

In between gigs, we enjoyed traveling in our little Roadtrek camper van and staying at some beautiful places. The photo above is sunset over Lake Erie, just a short walk from where our RV was parked at an Elks Lodge in Ashtabula, OH. See our September Google Photos album for lots more pictures.

Chris has been invited once again to Google’s Product Experts Conference, this time in Boulder, Colorado Nov 11. We’ll fly there.The recently opened Senior Planet in Denver wants us to present our Google Photos Seminar we did in NYC. We are planning programs there for a full day on Nov. 15th as we will be in Colorado for the Google event. Then back to Florida.

During September, we were able to produce 2 of our “Button Shows” from “Studio R” the back of our Roadtrek camper van!

What’s coming up – our Calendar

Ask the Geeks

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. Dates on Old Photos
  2. How Do I Print an Album in Google Photos?
  3. Sharing Videos in Google Photos
  4. Apple iOS Update
  5. Storing a Document on iPhone



Order photo prints

Order Photo Prints within Google Photos

Google announced a new feature in Google Photos this month … Printing!  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. You can pick up your 4X6 prints on the same day at a Walmart or CVS of your choosing.

Read full article


Turn by turn voice navigation with street names

Sometimes Google Maps, or Waze tells us simply “in 1/4 mile turn right.” Other times I hear “in 1/4 mile, use the right 2 two lanes to turn right onto West Lake Road.”

I so prefer the more detailed instructions. It’s taken me a while, but I finally found the setting to make this happen.

Read the article

Jim and Chris - Geeks on Tour

What’s our story?

You may know that we have a pretty cool life, we spend most of our time traveling and we make our living from subscriptions to our website. Did you know we’ve been living this way since 2003? This past month we’ve given presentations to audiences who did not know us, so we had fun putting together this story with pictures to introduce ourselves.

See the rest of the story here

by the way – this presentation is an example of using a Google Photos Album to tell a story.

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.

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!