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.
http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf
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 video on.Embedding Web Album Photos Elsewhere on the Web

.  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 t
o 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.TV 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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Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.



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Emailing Pictures thru Gmail withOUT using a gmail address

We’ve had lots of questions lately about how to email pictures from Picasa if you don’t use a @gmail.com address, so we’re going to visit this topic again.

Emailing pictures with Picasa is SO easy.

Simply select the picture or pictures you want to email and click the Email button at the bottom.  Picasa takes care of resizing and applying your edits.  It’s single-click easy …

IF … you use Gmail or Outlook as your email program.

image

If instead you use AOL, or Yahoo, or MSN for your email program then it’s not so easy.  I have heard people getting it to work but they’ve had to jump thru a lot of hoops to do so.  I often tell people,

“Just use Google Mail, it works great.”

But they respond,

“I don’t use my Gmail address and I don’t want my recipient to see that address, I only want them to receive mail from me at my yahoo/AOL/MSN address.”

I say,

“That’s fine.  You can configure Gmail to pretend the mail is coming from your Yahoo/AOL/MSN address.  So, you will be using the Gmail program to send your mail, but it will use your Yahoo/AOL/MSN address to do so.  It’s the best of both worlds.”

Here’s how you do it:

Create a custom ‘From’ address in Gmail

  1. Step 1: Open your Gmail account and click on ‘Settings’ in the upper right corner
  2. Step 2: Click on ‘Accounts and Import’ then click the button to ‘Send mail from another Address.’
  3. Step 3: Follow the prompts:
    a) Fill in the form with the name you want displayed in the ‘From’ field, and the email address you want displayed.  For example, Emma Woodhouse, EmmaW@Yahoo.com  Click ‘Next Step.’
    b) Select the button for “Send thru Gmail” Click ‘Next Step.’
    c) Verify that you own that email address by clicking on the button for ‘Send Verification.’
  4. Find the email that was sent to that address (EmmaW@yahoo.com) and click the link to verify it.

Set your default address

Now you have two addresses that your Gmail program can use (I have 5!) = the @gmail.com address and the @yahoo.com address.  You want to set the default to be your @yahoo.com address.  In the Gmail settings for Accounts and Import, you should see both addresses listed.  Over to the right, you should see links that look like the image below.

Members may want to view the following tutorial videos.  Not a member?  Join now.

Emailing Photos

image

For your Yahoo/AOL/MSN … address, click the ‘Make Default’ link.

From now on, if you use the ‘Email’ button in Picasa and choose Gmail, your email will reach your recipient with the From field showing EmmaW@Yahoo.com.  They will never see your gmail address.  If they reply to the email, that reply will come to your Yahoo/AOL/MSN … inbox.

Import your Address book

If you choose to use the above technique you may miss having your Yahoo/AOL/MSN … address book as you use Gmail to send your pictures.  That is easily remedied.  On the same Accounts and Import Settings screen, click on “Import Mail and Contacts”  You will be prompted for the email address and password, then you can choose to import just the Contacts.

Voila!  You now have all the benefits of using Gmail to send pictures with Picasa and you’re not showing your Gmail address to anyone.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

Picasa Tip: Error Emailing a Picture with Gmail

4/1/10 Note: this error has been fixed by the folks at Google.  The article is still worth a read to see how to find out what has been fixed or not, as well as how to use Web Albums to share your photos instead of emailing.

Several people this week told me they were having a problem when they tried to email a picture using Picasa’s email button and choosing ‘Gmail.’  So I tried it and, sure enough, I got the same error message:

image

I checked the PIcasa user forum and found that lots of people were having the same problem.  Google has acknowledged the problem.  They’ve been working on it and have now posted a notice that they’ve identified the problem and they know how to fix it.  The fix will be in the automatic Picasa updates that will be pushed out to all users starting next week (3/29/10.)  It’s always a good idea to check the Picasa ‘Known Issues’ page when you get an error so you know if it’s a problem they’re working on before you go to too much trouble trying to fix it yourself.

Meanwhile, here’s another way to share your photos.

Upload your photos to a Picasa Web Album. Once it’s there, you can view it in the Album, then click the ‘Share’ button.  You just address it like any other email, write a message and send.

image

Your friend who receives the email will see something like this:

image

They can see the thumbnail (small version) of the photo right in the email.  If they click on ‘View Photo’ that will take them to the photo on your Web Album.

I think this is a better way to share photos anyway.  What do you think?  Leave a comment.

This tip brought to you by Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger or with friends on Facebook. You can subscribe to our free e-newsletters, or become a paid member and be able to view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

 

Members may want to view the following tutorial videos.  Not a member?  Join now.

 

 

Show Me How to Import Email contacts to Gmail

A Show Me How video from http://www.GeeksonTour.com: how to get all your email addresses from Outlook or Outlook Express and make a copy of them using Gmail. Even if you don’t use Gmail, this is a great way to have a backup of all your contacts. Just click the Play button below.

http://content.screencast.com/users/ChrisGuld/folders/Showme-misc/media/e396fed4-f3dd-4398-837a-42a00b96c207/gmail-import.wmv