Geeks On Tour Newsletter    Subscribe to this FREE Newsletter       May 21, 2008


Jim and Chris go kayak diving in Fort LauderdaleAfter almost 2 months here in our home base of Fort Lauderdale, we'll be on the road soon and headed for a series of rallies this summer. The first one is RV-Dreams in Branson, MO June 9-14. In addition to presenting a seminar, we will be offering a 2 day Computer Boot Camp pre-rally. As always, you can keep track of us by watching our blog at:

In this newsletter

  • High Speed Internet from your cell phone
  • Eliminating duplicate photos with Picasa
  • How to take a screen shot

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High Speed Internet with your Cell Phone

Since we first hit the road in 2004, we have relied on our cell phone for a backup method of connecting to the Internet. When Wi-Fi wasn't available and there were too many trees for our satellite dish to make a connection, we would 'tether' our cell phone to the computer using a special USB cable purchased as part of a 'Mobile Office Kit.' Then, using software called VZ Access Manager, from Verizon, we could connect to the Internet using the phone as a modem. It was great to have, but it was slow. This is simply the cell phone equivalent of a dial-up connection.

Broadband Access as a phone feature

Now, with many of the new phones available, Verizon is offering BroadBand (high speed) Access by using a tethered cell phone. So, when our old cell phones wore out, we made sure our new phones (LG enV VX990) had the Broadband Access capability. Verizon refers to this as BroadBandAccess Connect or BBAC for short. It doesn't work with the highest speed technology out there, EVDO Rev A, but it does work with Rev 0, which is quite fast. And, if you're not in a high-speed area, it will still connect you to the Internet at whatever speed it can find from the cell towers nearby.

Tethered cell phone for broadband accessWe haven't had much need for this feature since we usually have Wi-Fi and we always have our satellite dish when we're parked. But, the other day I needed to take my laptop to a business meeting at a bank and they didn't have Wi-Fi, so I took the cable to tether my cell phone. Before I left home, I called Verizon and asked them to turn the Broadband feature ON. It worked when I got to the meeting. It worked GREAT! I was able to stream video without a hiccup and I downloaded a 5 megabyte file in a very short time. The next morning, I called Verizon and asked them to turn the Broadband Access feature OFF.

The best part is that you don't need to commit to another contract to use this feature. It is part of your phone service. You can turn the feature on and off. The price is $60/month, but if you turn it on Monday and turn it off on Wednesday, your charges *should* be prorated at about $2/day. I say *should* because the dust hasn't yet settled on this service. Some customer service reps will tell you that the charge will be $60 for the month, whether you use it for one day or 30. We have turned ours on and off a few times now. Whatever charges we incurred were buried in all the phone services, but we were definitely not charged $60.

Using a Router

You can also tether your phone to a router and provide Wi-Fi for multiple computers that way. But watch out for the 5 gigabyte/mo restriction. 5 gigabytes is usually plenty for one person doing normal browsing, but with two people you need to be very careful. At 50 cents/megabyte for overages, it could add up fast.

Although I believe the other carriers offer similar service, my only experience is with Verizon. For further information on all types of cellular broadband, I refer to, or your cellular provider's website.

Duplicate Pictures in Picasa

I've received more than one email from readers telling me that Picasa is responsible for creating several sets of duplicate photos on their computers. If you experience duplicate photos, and you use Picasa, there are a couple things you should know.

Don't import duplicates

Picasa will exclude duplicatesIf you use Picasa to import your photos from the camera to the computer, make sure you have the 'Exclude Duplicates' option checked. Picasa will mark with a red X the pictures it has already imported previously, and it won't import them again. I prefer to delete all photos from my camera after I import them so there are no duplicates possible.

Pictures in 'Albums' are not duplicates

Picasa screenshot of albums vs foldersNotice, in the image at the right, that there are two sections in Picasa's 'Library.' The top section is referred to as 'Albums', and the bottom section is 'Folders.' You could have thousands of photos on your computer without one Album. Albums are just pointers to photos. You create albums for the convenience of viewing groups of photos together such as all your beach photos. The actual photo files 'live' in the folders.

Think of it like a juke box full of records and imagine that this juke box has the ability for you to make a list of your favorite music. You can push a button on the juke box to play 'Chris' songs.' But that list of songs is not a copy of the records, it is just a list that points to the records to play. Same thing with albums. The picture is not copied into the album. The album is just a list of pointers to the actual photos. The actual photos live in the folders. If you delete the photo from the folder, it will be gone from the album. If someone removed a record from the juke box, it will no longer play as part of Chris' songs.

Picasa can help you find real duplicates

If you have exported photos to another album, or if you have imported without checking the exclude duplicates option, you may have real duplicates on your computer. Picasa cannot automatically erase duplicates - and I wouldn't trust any program that says it does - but it can help you find them.

Click on Tools, Experimental, Show Duplicate Files. This is a special search in Picasa.  Although labeled as experimental, I find it works pretty good.  With all your duplicates displayed, you can study them and delete the duplicates manually. Just click on the photo to remove, or Ctrl-Click on multiple photos, and then press the delete key on your keyboard. For a review of how to delete photos in Picasa see the tutorial video at

BE CAREFUL! I'd rather have a few duplicates than accidentally delete too much. But then, you DO have a backup right?!

When you're ready to view all your photos again, just click on the button at top that reads, "Exit Search."

How to take a Screen Shot

Have you ever needed help with your computer and wanted to send someone an email with a picture of exactly what you saw on your screen? I call that a screen shot. Like the images above where I showed you a screen from Picasa. The ability to grab a picture of your screen is invaluable in documentation. And it is extremely easy.

Somewhere on your keyboard you should see a key labeled PrtSc, or PrtScn, or PrintScreen. When you press that, it's like pressing the shutter on a camera. You've just taken a picture of exactly what your computer screen looks like. The problem is, you don't see anything happen. But it has. The picture of your screen has been placed in the clipboard. That's the place where copied items are stored. Pressing the PrtSc key has just copied an image of your screen.

To see that image, you need to paste it somewhere. If you use an email program like Outlook, you can simply open an email message and paste into the body of the message. Paste is done with a right-click and choose paste, or with Ctrl-V. You can also paste into a word processing document, or a paint type of program.

If you try to right-click and the paste command is not available it either means that you didn't get the screen captured - go back and do the PrtScn button again - or you're not in a place that can show images. You need to be in a document, or an image editor.

If you have Vista, there is a new utility called the Snipping tool. It can take screen shots of any portion of your screen and automatically save the 'snip' to a file. It's really cool. But the PrtScn method still works as well.

p.s. A reader reminded me that you should know about Alt-PrtScn as well. If you hold down the Alt key as you press PrtScn it will only capture the part of your screen that is the currently active window. This is usually what you need ... not the entire screen, just the actie window. Thanks David!


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Chris Guld