Tag Archives: Streets and Trips Megafile

MS Streets and Trips to Plan Your Travels

Streets and Trips running on our Windows 8 Surface Pro tabletLong before we took to the road in our RV, we had a computer training center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called Computer Savvy.  We were a Microsoft Authorized Training Center and one of the classes was Mappoint.  Mappoint was a very expensive mapping, routing, and demographics database program.  As an authorized training center we had our own copies of all the software, including Mappoint.  So, after we sold the training center and became RVers – we figured we’d give Mappoint a try for planning and navigating our travels.  Mappoint’s inexpensive little brother is called Streets and Trips.  We installed it on our laptop, bought the USB GPS receiver for it and found a place to mount the laptop in the cab of our 30 foot Class C motorhome.  That was our sole mapping and navigation program for our first few years on the road – 2003-6.

Here’s the very first video we made about MS Streets and Trips.

Then came the Garmin dashboard GPS, the Rand McNally, and Google Maps on our Android smartphones.  Streets and Trips had to take a backseat while we played with all these new toys.  But, we still used Streets and Trips when we had time to sit at our computers and dream about our future plans.  There’s a lot of good things to be said about all of those while you’re driving and want voice-directed turn by turn directions, but nothing beats Streets and Trips for the planning part.  Now, with our new MS Surface Tablet that can run Streets and Trips, we may even start navigating with it again.

Planning a Summer’s Travels

We plan our entire summer.  The specifics will change many times, but we like having an idea of the long term plan.  This year we’re leaving Florida and going to Gillette, Wyoming.  In S&T I entered a starting point of Fort Lauderdale, Florida – an end point of Gillette, Wyoming and route options that we only drive about 4 hours/day.  It plots a course and shows me with a little moon icon where we’ll need to stop.  Now comes the fun part – finding places where we want to stay. 

I love the little moons that indicate the general area we should get to at the end of each day.  That gives me a starting location to look for places to stay.  Thousands of places are built in to the software and you can see them by zooming in to a place and finding nearby places, like campgrounds.  But, there are some campgrounds that I will go out of my way for, so I like to see them on the big picture.  Thousand Trails is one of those.  We have a membership and have paid for the year regardless of how often we stay at a Thousand Trails park.  Like a gym membership, it’s more valuable the more you use it, so we want to use it at every possible chance. 

The POI Megafile

A special file that you can download for S&T is called the POI Megafile.  POI stands for Points of Interest, and this megafile combines hundreds of sets of them, including Thousand Trails.  Once I open the POI Megafile and find the Thousand Trails pushpin set, I can set it to be visible and I will see the Thousand Trails logo at any place on the map where a TT park exists.  Another set I like is Elks Lodges with RV parking – we joined Elks a few years ago and enjoy using their RV parking amenities.  Then there are specialty points of interest like waterfalls and hot springs – two of our favorite things where we like to stop.

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Sharing your S&T File with Dropbox

One problem with Streets and Trips has been solved by the Cloud Computing system called Dropbox.  You see, Streets and Trips is a regular old computer program that creates a file for your work.  So, if Jim created our summer travel plans and I wanted to look at it, I would have to go to his computer.  Or, I would ask him to give me the file on a thumb drive so I could look at in on my computer.  And, if I made any changes, I would need to re-save it to the thumb drive and give it back to him – making sure he updated his computer file with my new file.  That just didn’t work.

Enter Dropbox.  When you sign up for a Dropbox.com account, it creates a folder on your computer called Dropbox.  This is a magic folder!  Jim now saves the SummerTravelPlan.est file in his Dropbox folder and ‘shares’ it with me.  I have also installed dropbox so I have the magic folder also.  Whenever we are connected to the Internet (most of the time) Dropbox will check our shared dropbox files and make sure they are synchronized.  It goes like this: Jim adds a stop to our summer plan on Streets and Trips, saves and closes the file.  Dropbox notices that the file has been updated and uploads the trip file to the Cloud and, since it is shared with me, it also downloads the new file to my computer’s dropbox folder.  Next time I open up our summer plan, I am seeing the latest file that Jim worked on.  Now I make a change and the process continues in reverse.  My dropbox notices my change and synchronizes up to the cloud and down to Jim’s computer.  It’s our own private network.

Learn to Use Streets and Trips

On our Geeks on Tour Learning Library, there are 13 video lessons on how to use Streets and Trips, about an hour and a half.  The first 3 are free for anyone to watch, the rest require a Geeks on Tour membership.

March 2013 Newsletter: Back to our Roots: Blogger, Picasa, Streets and Trips

Geeks on Tour

Monthly Issue # 65 March 31, 2013                                                    www.geeksontour.com
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March TechnoGeek Learning Rally

ImageAs I write this, we are at our TechnoGeek Learning Rally in Bushnell, Florida.  This is a joint rally between TechnoRV and Geeks on Tour .  A small group of dedicated learners gathered with their RVs for our third Learning Rally.  We  offered special sessions on the latest topics of Smartphones and Cloud Computing, but we also taught our old favorites of Picasa, Blogger, and Streets and Trips while TechnoRV taught RV Electrical Safety, LED lighting and Induction cooking.  We had lots of food and fun.  We all met some new friends.  To learn more, check out the Facebook page for TechnoGeek Learning Rally.

Our Rally attendees were so eager and full of questions over Picasa, Blogger, Streets and Trips and more, that it reminded me how many people need to know this stuff.  With each newsletter over the years, we try to produce new information about Technology for Travelers.  This time, we’re going to get back to basics, realizing that a lot of you may have joined us recently and probably haven’t read every previous newsletter!

Our primary program for planning our travels has always been MS Streets and Trips. We love Picasa for making our pictures look so good, and helping us to organize and share thousands of them – all for free!  And, we couldn’t imagine life without Blogger as our free home on the web to keep and share our stories.  So, in this issue of GeekNews, instead of high-tech tips on the latest smartphones, or Internet services, we’ll be getting back to basics.  This month’s articles give you some detail and background of why we use Streets and Trips, Picasa, and Blogger to Plan, Preserve, and Share our travels. 


Calendar: Coming up in April/May

TechnoGeek Learning RallyAs we finish off the winter season and get ready for the summer tour, we will be trying our hand at doing seminars remotely so we can be wherever you are!  We have used Skype before, and we’ve tried Google hangouts.  Skype seems to be a bit more dependable for what we want to do.  We much prefer being in the seminar room in person – to interact with the people in the room and not be dependent on an Internet connection.

But, we can’t be everywhere at once! With the help of people who are in the seminar room, we’re going to try using Skype to project from our computer to the big screen in the seminar room, and Hangouts to connect our iPad to an iPad in the seminar room that can be passed around to the attendees for questions. We’ll see how it goes and report back to you next month!

 

For more details, see our website Calendar. 

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Q&A Forum

Some Geeks on Tour members tell us that the Q&A forum is worth the entire cost of membership!  Here are some of the topics that have been discussed this month:

  1. Picasa: Import does not work!
  2. Picasa and Carbonite Backup problem
  3. Problem playing video files using Picasa
  4. Blogger Header Bar not displaying
  5. Installing Streets and Trip 2013
  6. Android Jelly Bean is not compatible with FoxFi


RVTravel.comFree Admission during National Park Weeks. 
Read about that and more RV news in the current issue of RVTravel.


Picasa for all your Digital Picture Needs

Picasa for all your Digital Picture NeedsSometime in our second year of RVing (2004), we discovered Picasa.  Instead of taking an hour or two to go thru our pictures from each day, pretty them up, identify them, and pick the best ones to share in our blog, it now only took a few minutes.  Picasa was just SO much easier than any other photo editing software!  We would tell anyone who asked that Picasa was the software they should get if they take a lot of pictures.  And, it is free.

We soon started teaching little seminars at the RV parks where we stayed, and by 2006 we taught Picasa seminars at the FMCA Conventions.  We developed quite a specialty in teaching Picasa, and our tutorial videos even caught the attention of Google – they own Picasa.  In 2009 Google flew us out to their headquarters in Mountain View, CA …

Read More


Use Blogger to Keep your Journals

Blogger automatically formats to smartphone size.Did you keep a diary when you were a kid?  I did.  I love being able to go back in time and find words that express exactly what was going on.  Many of my paper journals have been lost or destroyed over the years, I wanted something better for our travel logs.  When we started thinking about traveling in an RV back in 2003 – I found Blogger.com and decided to keep my journals there.  Tioga and George were my inspiration.  A solo, fulltime RVer, George used Blogger and wrote every day – he still does!  Because of reading his blog, we met up with George on the road a few times.   We credit Blogger with making us many friends over the years.

Most everyone we meet who travels wants some way to record and share their travels.  Some keep a paper notebook just for themselves, some send an email blast to their list of friends.  We think Blogger is the easiest way …

Read More


MS Streets and Trips to Plan your Travels

ImageLong before we took to the road in our RV, we had a computer training center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida called Computer Savvy.  We were a Microsoft Authorized Training Center and one of the classes was Mappoint.  Mappoint was a very expensive mapping, routing, and demographics database program.  As an authorized training center we had our own copies of all the software, including Mappoint.  So, after we sold the training center and became RVers – we figured we’d give Mappoint a try for planning and navigating our travels.  Mappoint’s inexpensive little brother is called Streets and Trips .  We installed it on our laptop, bought the USB GPS receiver for it and found a place to mount the laptop in the cab of our 30 foot Class C motorhome …

Read More


Become a Geeks on Tour Member!
And learn from our online library of Tutorial VideosFacebook, Picasa, Photo Story 3, Smartphones, Streets & Trips, Google Earth/Maps, Blogging, Boot Camp Class, Vista/Windows 7, Internet on the Road, Safe Computing only $7/monthly $58/yearly or $68 one year = access to ALL videos plus the Forums. Click here to Join

That’s all for now. We hope you learned something. Your next issue will be next month. Any questions, please visit our forum. 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. To see the archives of past newsletters, go to https://geeksontour.com/category/newsletter/.

Happy Computing!

The Geeks on Tour website is an online learning library for Travelers who want to learn to use their computers for managing digital photos, making blogs, using maps and other online resources. Anyone can watch our free videos, read articles on our Computer Tips for Travelers Blog, sign up for our free monthly newsletter, or Picasa weekly tips. A small fee makes you a ‘member‘ and you can then view any of our 200+ video tutorials on these subjects in our Learning LIbrary.

Geeks on Tour

Sincerely,

Geeks on Tour

jimandchris@geeksontour.com

Geeks on Tour Newsletter, December 2010

Geeks on Tour

2010 in Review

Other than a brief flight to Las Vegas for a software conference, we’ve had a quiet December in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with friends and family.  At this time of year – we like to reflect on the last 12 months.  The easiest way for us is through pictures.  Here is just a small sample of photos showing you our life this year.  Mouse over the slideshow and you will see controls to manually go thru the pictures.  You can click anywhere on the pictures to go to the full-size Picasa Web Album.  And, if you want even more details, you can go to our personal blog and click on the monthly archives.

Wow!  What a year.  We sure hope you had a good one too. 

If you’re interested in learning how to create a slideshow like the one above and embed it in your blog or website, here’s the free video on Embed a Picasa Slideshow in your Blog.  Note: it’s one of our older videos – one thing that has changed is the link on Picasa Web albums is now on the right of the screen rather than the left; click ‘Link to this Album’, then ‘Embed Slideshow.’

2011 is shaping up.  You can see our complete schedule on our website.  Here are our first scheduled appearances for the year:

  • Jan  23-30: Holiday Travel Resort, Leesburg, FL
  • Feb 2-6: FMCA SEA rally, Brooksville, FL
  • Feb 8-10: Florida Grande RV Resort Webster, FL
  • Feb 12: Brevard Geneaological Society, The Great Outdoors, Titusville, FL

Other Articles this past month
So you don’t miss out on anything, here’s a list of other articles we wrote this past month.


Our Technology of the Year for 2010

In looking back over the year, certain computer gadgets and applications stand out.  We don’t pretend to watch the entire industry (and anyone who does must have a team of 100s to help them!) – these are the products that have affected our lives and amazed us this year.

We use our new Droid phones for connecting computers to the InternetDroid

There is no question but that our new cell phones are the most life-changing device to enter our world this year.  We have the original Motorola Droid from Verizon.  They are SOO obsolete now with the Droid X, Droid 2, Droid Incredible, Droid Pro and more all coming out after we got ours. 

You really shouldn’t even call this a cell phone, many call it a ‘Smart Phone.’  I like the term coined by David Pogue – ‘App Phone.’  You see, this is a computer with thousands of applications available.  The fact that it also makes phone calls is truly secondary.  Because the Droid plays music, it replaces our satellite radio; because the Droid has built-in GPS, it replaces our Garmin, because the Droid has a camera and it is always with us, it often replaces our other cameras; because the Droid is a book reader, it replaces our Kindle; because the Droid has unlimited Internet, it replaces a data card for our computers.  The list is seemingly endless.  Our Droids have become so valuable to us that, if we had to choose between our Spouse and our Droid … it might be a close call!

We’ve written several articles on the Droid throughout the year, and we set up a special forum on our website just for Droid.

Gmail and Google Calendar

gmail-cloudsOne of the reasons that our Droids are so valuable to us is that we can read our email and watch our calendars with them.  Because we use Google’s tools, all our email and calendar items are ‘in the clouds.’  Nothing resides solely on any one device.  Gmail collects all our email from a variety of addresses, and Google calendar tracks Jim’s schedule, my schedule, and our business schedule.  This information is synchronized automatically with our laptops, and our Droid phones. 

If I want to add an item to our business calendar, I will see any appointments on Jim’s and my personal calendar.  Once I add that item, if Jim picks up his phone – or computer – or even someone else’s computer, and looks at his calendar, he will see the appointment I just made for us.

As for email, there is no way I can keep up – period!  But, the combination of Gmail and my Droid at least gives me a fighting chance.  While I’m sitting in the Dentist waiting room, or while I’m a passenger and Jim is driving, I can be browsing my inbox on my phone, and deleting any garbage I see.  When I get back to my computer and open my Gmail inbox, I am seeing the exact same inbox as on my phone – the deleted messages are in the trash.  If I need to, I can respond to email on my Droid, but I prefer the computer for that.

Here are some of our articles on Gmail.

WordPress

wp-logoWordPress is a free website-maker, but it is so much more than that.  You can create anything from a simple blog type of website, to a full-featured business ecommerce site.  WordPress is the Legos of the Website builder world.  You can put together anything you want if you understand how the pieces fit together. 

I started building websites somewhere around 1999, I used Dreamweaver.  I thought maybe I would become a website designer for hire, and I did work with a few clients.  What I didn’t like was the fact that, if the client wanted anything changed, they had to get me to do it.  I believed that clients should be able to make their own changes, but teaching them how was just TOO much.  I’ve tried various techniques, but none were easy.  Until WordPress.  All new websites we’ve made this year have been using the WordPress platform.  Even our Membership Website: www.GeeksOnTour.com, we have re-created at www.GeeksOnTour.com using WordPress.  Right now both sites are active and it is probably a bit confusing, but we are committed to the path of WordPress and eventually the .com site will just forward over to the WordPress-only .TV site.

We *LOVE* WordPress!  And, we’re not alone.  According to Trends, there are approximately 640,000 websites that are built with WordPress.  If you want a website, look no further than WordPress.  We have offered one seminar on WordPress, you can download the WordPress Seminar Handout here.  We are not offering that anymore for two reasons, 1) there is already a LOT of help available for WordPress on the Web and 2) It is still too complex for most travelers’ needs.  We want to keep our focus on the simpler stuff.  The easy and fun software that help travelers plan, preserve and share their travels.  We think Blogger fits that bill much more than WordPress.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) our own websites keep us much too busy to do client work, but the fact that we are now using WordPress means that we can do so much more with our own sites.  Rather than managing our self-programmed membership system, we are now using a WordPress plugin called WishList Member.  There is a large community of businesses that use this plugin, and we can get lots of support and ideas from them.  Expect big things from our website this coming year … thanks to WordPress!

Streets and Trips Megafile

streets-megafileThis item is included in order to show that it’s not always brand-new or grand inventions that make a difference in our lives.  Sometimes it’s an old one that has just improved in a small but oh-so-useful way.  We’ve been using Microsoft’s Streets and Trips software to plan our routes ever since we started living in our RV in 2003.  And, we’ve known for many years about special data files for places like hot springs, wineries, or membership campgrounds.   Until now, finding and loading the information from those data files has just been too cumbersome to make it worthwhile. 

The folks at Microsoft took the time to compile all those data files into one ‘MegaFile’ and added some software features for displaying just the data you want.  Now, rather than taking 10 minutes to find, load, and use a particular data file, the data we want is always available and it just takes one click to show or hide it as we’re traveling down the road.  I credit this megafile with allowing us to find one of the best stops of our entire summer – Saratoga Hot Springs in Wyoming.

Discuss this in our forum.

imageWe’ve added a topic to our Forums specifically to discuss your picks for best technology of 2010.  If you’re a Geeks on Tour paid member, please visit and leave your comments.  Even non-members can view the forum to see what’s going on.


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