Geeks on Tour

Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MOWe're on our way west now. As you can see from the picture at right, we have passed the Gateway Arch of Western Expansion!

Presidential Museums
Visiting Presidential Museums is one of our favorite things to do when we travel the US. Each one tells the tale of a slice of our history. This week we visited the 12th (and last) one on the list - Dwight D Eisenhower's Museum in Abilene, Kansas. Visit our personal Blog to read why we think that Ike is the RVers President! Included in this blog post are links to all the other blog posts about our Presidential Museum visits.

July was mostly about The Rally in Louisville, KY. We gave 5 seminars: you can download any of the seminar handouts for free from our website:

  1. Internet on the Road
  2. How to Make a Blog
  3. Picasa for Managing Digital Photos
  4. GPS Navigation and Trip Planning w/Streets & Trips
  5. Narrated Slideshows with Photo Story 3

Upcoming Appearances :
Or, better yet, if you're going to be anywhere Redmond, Oregon, you can join us at the FMCA (Family Motor Coach Ass'n) Convention where we'll be doing those seminars and more for the FMCA convention 8/11-14.

Live Webinar on Picasa for Digital Photos
Picasa Webinar with Geeks on TourAs part of the FMCA convention, they will be delivering 4 of their most popular seminars via Live Webinar. Our 'Managing Digital Photos with Picasa' is one of them. Mark August 11 on your calendar as these Webinars can only be viewed live, they will not be saved. See this info page on times and details for the Webinars.



Windows 7: Search


Windows 7We’ve been using Windows 7 for 9 months now, and Vista for 2 years before that, so the Search feature is second nature to us now. If you attended any of our Vista seminars, or watched the videos, you know all about Search too.  But, we’ve heard from many people who are just now switching from XP and going to Windows 7.  For all of you, PLEASE learn about the Search feature in Windows 7.  It makes life with the computer SO much easier!

Using XP – i.e. Before Search

  1. You want to use a program called Excel and it doesn’t have an icon on your desktop. In XP you would click on Start, then All Programs, then Microsoft Office, then Excel.  What if you didn’t know that Excel was within Microsoft Office?  You’d just keep hunting and hunting, until, tired and frustrated, you either found the program or gave up?
  2. Another example: let’s say you use an obscure bookkeeping program called Easy Bookkeeper.  You don’t have a desktop icon for it, and you don’t even remember that it is named ‘Easy.’  You have no idea where in ‘All Programs’ it is, but if you hunt long enough, you might find it in All Programs, Easy Software, Easy Bookkeeper.  You’d like to make a desktop icon, but you don’t know how

Enter Vista/Windows 7

Search has now become a way of operating your computer.  You don’t need to know where your programs are, let Vista/Windows 7 find it for you.  All you have to know is the name of the program.

  1. To use Excel, just click on Start (the ‘Orb’ in the lower left.)  You should see that an empty box has opened up directly above the Start button, and your cursor/insertion point is blinking away just waiting for you to type something.  Type Excel.  If Excel is on your computer, you will see it show up at the top of the list.  Now you can just click it, or press Enter if it’s at the top of the list.  Excel is now open and running.search
  2. Now, what about ‘Easy Bookkeeper’?’  Same thing, just click Start and type the name.  If you don’t remember that the name starts with ‘Easy’ you can even type Book and ‘Easy Bookkeeper’ will show up on the list.  Select that, and you’re in business.

A New Interface to Using your Computer

This isn’t just a way to search for something you’ve lost!  This is a new way to use your computer.  You don’t have to find a program and double-click on it.  You just click Start, type the name of the program and press Enter.  If you’ve been using Windows XP and are now getting a new computer with Windows 7 do yourself a favor and learn the new features.  Our video series that was recorded on Windows Vista is applicable to Windows 7 as well.  The big changes came in the upgrade to Vista.  Windows 7 only has minor user interface changes.

Videos to Watch:

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Blogger for Small Business



Blogger LogoI’ve been using Blogger for our personal Blog since we began our RVing adventure in 2003.  It is drop-dead easy.  When I started, it only accepted text – no pictures, no videos.  Over the years, they’ve added many capabilities while continuing to keep it drop-dead easy.  At times, I’ve toyed with the idea that you could use Blogger for a regular business website, but so far have always opted to advise the use of standard Website building methods, or Wordpress.

Now I can recommend Blogger for a small business website.

The last few months have seen enhancements in Blogger that I think make it a viable choice for a small business who wants to do their website themselves.  I’m not talking about a business Blog.  I’m talking about a full-blown website.  Probably the most important new feature making this possible is the addition of ‘Pages.’  You see, a Blog is made up of dated entries called Posts.  Whenever you write a post, it is automatically put in date order with all the other posts.  If you wanted to have one page where you listed all your products and prices, you don’t want that page to be dated and published in order with other posts.  You want a page to be outside the flow, to stand on it’s own, and to be accessible from a menu. Another example is an ‘About Us’ page. 

image

Blogger calls that a ‘Page’ as opposed to a ‘Post’ and it has been available since late 2009.  What was still missing was any way to customize the design of the site so it didn’t look like everybody else’s Blog on Blogger.  Blogger’s new Template Designer fills that hole.  It is still in draft, but I’ve tried it and it seems to work great while still being very easy.

Blogger Stats

A business also wants to know if anyone is visiting their site.  Blogger now has their own ‘Blogger Stats’ that is much more informative than just a hit counter. 

Custom Domain

When you create a Blog using Blogger, you get a web address (URL) that ends in .blogspot.com.  For example, MyRVStuff.blogspot.com.  Most people with a small business don’t want an address like that.  They want MyRVStuff.com.  You can do that.  It’s called a Custom Domain.  If you own the domain name e.g. MyRVStuff.com there is a setting in Blogger to make your blog use that address.  And, if you don’t already have your domain, you can buy one thru Blogger for $10 for a year. 

Your blog/website will be hosted on Blogger’s free servers, but people will get to it by typing the custom domain name.  Your viewers will never see .blogspot.com. They type www.MyRVStuff.com and they will see the website you created with Blogger.

Will it Look Professional?

Well, that depends on just how picky you are!  Using Blogger’s new Template Designer, you can certainly make it look very nice.  But, if you have specific ideas of exactly how you want your website to look, this probably isn’t for you.  You may find a third party Blogger template that will work for you, but it has been my experience that once you use features that aren’t part of Blogger’s direct offerings, you may lose some of the functionality that Blogger offers.  There is a LOT of offerings though in third party templates, you might find something perfectly suited to your design needs.

If you don’t find anything in Template Designer or in Third Party Templates to suit your needs, then you need a Web Designer, and that can get very expensive.  I’m a believer in a small business starting up with what they can afford, and at $0, Blogger is something you can afford.  I say, build something that looks nice and is functional, for free.  When the business can afford it, you can always upgrade!

Show-Me-How Videos on Blogger that apply to this article:

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Gmail: How do you organize email messages into folders?

GmailWe all have too much email these days and it’s hard to stay organized.  Most email programs give you a way to create folders and store groups of email in those folders.  Gmail doesn’t have folders, but it has ‘Labels’ which accomplish the same goal … and then some!

Let’s say that you work freelance for 3 companies A, B, and C.  A and B are magazines, and C is a retail store.  You want to keep all your correspondence with these companies, so you want a folder for Company A, another for B and a third for C.  But, what if you also want to be able to see your emails grouped by Magazines or Retail?  You can’t do that with folders, but you can with labels.

How to Apply Labels

With a message open (or any number of messages checked) you click on the menu option for Labels and select the Label you want to apply to that message or those messages.  Notice that there are checkboxes next to the Labels so you can apply as many as you want. When you’ve checked all the Labels for the selected message(s) then click Apply. You can also ‘Create New’ to have more Labels available.

LabelList

How Do you See what Messages have been Labeled?

When you’re looking at the messages in your inbox, you will see the applied labels

inboxlabels

The Labels show up on the left sidebar and act like folders.  In the image below, the ‘Magazine Stuff’ label is selected, so all the messages which have that label applied are showing up on the right.

labelfolders

How to remove them from the Inbox

The key is to get them out of the inbox without deleting them. 

Archive. 

archive

Archive is the key.  When you archive, the messages leave the Inbox.  Where are they?  Every message is in a storage area called ‘All Mail.’  Actually, ‘Inbox’ is just another Label.  Archiving removes the Inbox label.  Messages are in All Mail and can be found by searching for them, or you can view them by Label.  

A little more about Archiving

Emails arrive in your inbox, these should be new emails. Once I read or answer an email, I want it out of my inbox. In most email programs, the only way to keep an email but remove it from your inbox is by moving it to a Folder.  What if you don’t have a specific category for it, you just don’t want to delete it?  In Gmail, you have another choice. You can ‘Archive’ it. That means, ‘Remove it from my Inbox, but keep it in that giant storage bin called ‘All Mail.’ Imagine that your Inbox has 2 trap doors, one for delete and one for keep. Archiving means to drop it thru the trapdoor for keep. It goes to a much bigger box where it can stay indefinitely. You can always find it by using Search.

So now, using Gmail, I read an email message, reply if necessary, and then I just click the Archive button. The message is removed from my Inbox but it is still stored in ‘All Mail’ where I can search for it by any words it contains at any time in the future that I may want to see it again.

Gmail is a little different, but if you take the time to understand it, you’ll find that it is very useful.

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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. Something new is our 'Gabbing with the Geeks' videos.

 


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