How I Love Google Maps

August 8, 2014 by Chris Guld · Comments Off 

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to our E-mail Digest or RSS Feed. We will then send you the stories that are posted each day in an e-mail digest. We use a service called Feedburner for delivery of these emails. You will receive an e-mail from Feedburner after you subscribe and you must click on that email to activate your subscription. Thanks for visiting and enjoy all the information! RV.Net Blog AdminIf I could only have one App on my smartphone, it would be Google Maps. How do I use the Google Maps App on my smartphone or tablet? Let me count the ways: I just look at it to see where I am. I get a quick idea of how long it will take to get from point A to point B, whether that is driving across the country, or bicycling to the store. I search for a good restaurant nearby, see a menu, check the hours, read reviews. I view a tourist attraction and look at pictures of the location I ask for directions to the nearest Walmart, Post Office, Trader Joe’s, or Camping World. And, by the way, I can ask by typing my desired location into the search box, or by clicking the microphone icon and literally “asking” Google Maps to give me directions. I ask Google Maps to give me voice-directed, turn by turn , directions.  To Navigate to the desired location. I save a location with a little star on Google Maps so I can get back there again sometime. I look at the 360 degree photographic “Street View” of a location to see if there is a good bicycle path, or to read... Read more

Teaching Technology at the Escapade RV Rally

June 20, 2014 by Chris Guld · Comments Off 

The Escapade is an annual rally for the Escapees RV Club. We’ve been teaching technology topics at RV rallies for 10 years now, but this Escapade had more people who were more interested in the topics of computers, smartphones, maps, pictures, and Blogs than any other we’ve experienced. In this post we’ll take you day by day thru the Geeks on Tour activities at the Escapade rally held in Goshen, Indiana at the Elkhart county fairgrounds. I’ve written this blog post with enough detail that I hope our readers feel like they’ve been to the seminars as well. Pre-Rally Windows 8 Workshop First came a hands-on, 6 hour class on Windows 8.  The people who came to the class saying, “I Hate Windows 8!” had all changed their tune by the end of the day.  We taught them how to make the tiled Start Screen more useable by customizing it, or to bypass it altogether and just use the old-fashioned desktop.  We taught them how to use the OneDrive folder on the computer to automatically backup and/or share files in the Cloud with OneDrive and their Microsoft account. We taught them how to Search, so they didn’t get frustrated by not finding stuff.  And, we taught them how to specify that they were using a “Metered” Internet connection.  That way, Windows 8 will refrain from doing all those big Uploads and Downloads when you’re using that connection. Pre-Rally Smartphone Workshops Next came two half-day classes, the first on Android phones and tablets,... Read more

The Best Tablet for Travelers

December 8, 2013 by Chris Guld · Comments Off 

We won’t even pretend to be able to compare all the different tablets available today.  We do have our opinions however!  And, a few specific features that we think are important to travelers.  We own 3 tablets, a Nexus 7, an iPad mini, and an MS Surface Pro.  We highly recommend any of them, but be sure to read the section below on features and accessories. . . Four Categories There are generally 4 choices in tablets, divided by their operating systems: iPad and iPad mini with the iOS operating system from Apple.  If you already have an iPhone, then this is probably the right tablet for you.  We like the size of the mini.  It’s easier to hold in your hand, and it fits in a small purse/bag … and it costs less. Android tablets like Nexus, Samsung, and countless others.  We have the Nexus 7 and think it is the most bang for the buck.  The Samsung is currently the most popular brand. Kindle Fire HD and HDX.  Although this is based on the Android operating system, it needs a category of its own because it is highly customized by Amazon.   You can only download Apps from the Amazon store and that does not include Google Maps or Gmail.  The HDX is the one with the nifty “Mayday” feature where a live person appears on your screen and can help with anything about your tablet.  FYI you don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books.  All of these devices have Kindle reader apps. Windows 8.1 tablets like the Microsoft Surface Pro or Surface RT and many others... Read more

TECH: The New Kindle Fire HDX

November 7, 2013 by · Comments Off 

We enjoy using tablets to browse the Internet when RV camping. While Apple practically invented the tablet category with the iPad (, Amazon has upped the ante with its Kindle Fire series. The new Kindle Fire HDX ( takes on the iPad Mini ( With the HDX, Amazon has delivered a powerful tablet with premium features that goes head-to-head with the iPad. Yet it costs almost half the price. Over the past couple of years, it’s become clear that consumers love the small 7-inch tablet size. Steve Jobs swore that Apple would never make a smaller iPad; well, even ol’ Steve was wrong about a few things. The new Kindle Fire HDX is powerful and lightweight. (Click the pic for more info.) Shortly after Steve moved on to that great product launch in the sky, Apple unleashed the iPad Mini. For many people, the 7” size simply feels right; it’s about the same as a traditional book. It’s easy to slip into a bag or purse (or “murse” if you’re so inclined) and take it wherever you want to go. Let’s take a look at some highlights of the Kindle Fire HDX. LIGHT WEIGHT The Kindle Fire HDX is light as a 10.7-ounce feather. That light weight means you can hold the Kindle Fire HDX for lengthy periods of time without getting fatigued. It makes a difference when you’re relaxing in bed with your evening reading. BEEFY PROCESSOR This year Amazon has beefed up the Kindle Fire HDX processor to a quad-core... Read more

Winnebago Picks A Winning GPS Solution

May 15, 2013 by Lug_Nut · Comments Off 

A look of what’s new, from Lug_Nut. Winnebago has announced it will be offering the Rand McNally GPS in the dash of selected 2014 models. Two screen sizes will be used with the largest being a huge 10.4”. This will give Winnebago the edge of offering the largest in-dash GPS in the RV market today. While there are many, many makes of GPS systems used in vehicles today, the Rand McNally is perhaps the only unit that was built with the RV market and application in mind. The internal user selected mode, can be configured to the real world size and weight of the specific vehicle it is installed in. Additionally tows, be it trailer or flat tow, can be added or removed at any time. How does the Rand McNally stack up against the others? Well, first of all, none are without fault. There are no makes that I’m aware of that are 100% consistently accurate. Small error can happen from time to time. Some of these errors may be due to RF signal propagation as well as possible internal processing logistic issues. But, in general, most receivers deliver fairly accurate data regardless. I believe the Rand McNally’s operation is above average, especially for large vehicles, or vehicle combinations, like found in the RV application. I have four GPS systems currently. One in my current motor home, 2007, updated in 2011, one in my Escalade 2006, updated in 2012, one in my Jaguar 2013 and my stand-alone Rand McNally. All are touch screen units. Generally, in an automobile application,... Read more

MS Streets and Trips to Plan Your Travels

April 26, 2013 by Chris Guld · Comments Off 

Long 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... Read more

Google Maps from the Web to Your Smartphone

November 21, 2012 by Chris Guld · Comments Off 

Use your computer to mark places using Google Maps, and you’ll see them on your smartphone!  I love this feature of Google Maps – this is the appeal of ‘cloud computing.’  Use whatever device is most practical and see the results on any other device. Let’s say I’m researching where to stay as we travel from Fort Lauderdale to Bowling Green, Kentucky.  I will use lots of different resources to do this: Streets and Trips with the POI Megafile is my first choice, then I’ll supplement that with websites for RV Park Reviews, Georgia State Parks, Passport America etc.  Google Maps may or may not be part of the tools we use to find places to stay, but it’s definitely a good idea to mark the places once we’ve made our decisions.   How to Create ‘My Places’ with Google Maps First, you need to go to the website for Google Maps –  Have you ever noticed the other button, beside ‘Get Directions’, for ‘My places’?’  That’s where you need to be in order to mark your special places.  For this to work, you need to be logged in with a Google Account.  If you’re not logged in, then clicking on ‘My Places’ will take you to a login screen – you can also create an account here if needed.  If you are logged in, take a look in the upper right of your screen and check the account that is being used.  Lots of people have more than one Google account, you need to be... Read more

CoPilot Live: an RV-Aware GPS for Mobile Phones and Tablets

August 19, 2012 by Chris Guld · 10 Comments 

by Jim Guld, CoPilot Live Premium, North America Maps $14.99 for iOS and Android. For complete pricing and map availability, visit their website at There is a free version, but it does not offer voice-directed turn-by-turn instructions. Technology can make travel a richer experience. Teaching technology to travelers is what Geeks On Tour is all about. We have been using GPS for navigation since we started RVing back in ’03. Keeping up with this stuff is a full time job and we love it. Visit us at Our Advice Don’t get rid of your paper maps and atlases. Do get the CoPilot Live app for your mobile devices – we like it! It is available for Android phones and tablets, iOS iPhones and iPad 3G/4G, Windows mobile, and laptops, too. Be sure to read thru the excellent user guide available on their website under the Support menu. ALK, the company behind CoPilot has been in the business since 1979. They know what they are doing, and they do it well. I first got the CoPilot app for my Droid RAZR phone and used it in our travels from Louisville, KY up through New Jersey, New York, and New England. While in Vermont, I bought the new Google Nexus 7 tablet. The main reason for getting the tablet was for navigation. This review is based on those 2 devices. Stand-alone Dashboard GPS navigation tools have been around quite a while, and they still have their place. More and more I see them being replaced by general purpose devices... Read more

Don’t Trust your GPS!

July 25, 2012 by Chris Guld · 37 Comments 

by Chris Guld, www.GeeksOnTour.TV We have several GPS devices, some are test units, some are our old standbys.  Every time we encounter an issue with driving an RV on this country’s highways, we like to check out the various devices to see what they tell us to do.  We often have two or three of them talking to us in different voices at each turn.  We love it when they all agree.  When they don’t , I tell Jim to follow the female voice … mine! We are currently in New England.  The northeast has more low bridges and other RV unfriendly roads than other parts of the country.  For example, traveling north from New York City in the Hudson Valley, every one of our units, routed us on the Sprain Brook and Taconic Parkways.  As soon as we took the on-ramp, we saw a big sign saying Passenger Vehicles Only.  Since we are driving a 37 foot long, and 13 foot high motorhome, we got off at the next exit. This is where having a small, handheld GPS is very useful.  I can hold my smartphone in my hand and easily manipulate the screen to see what we should do.  We had to follow city streets in the Bronx, until we finally got back on a highway … 9A, only to see a heart-stopping sign: Jim’s pounding heart didn’t stop his quick thinking and he moved into the left lane where the clearance was much higher in the middle of the stone arch.  I held my breath until we were on the other side. Now we are in Massachusetts and, when we called... Read more

Droid Smartphone for Navigation

April 8, 2012 by Chris Guld · 551 Comments 

by Chris Guld, www.Geeksontour.TV It’s a rare RVer that doesn’t use some type of GPS device to assist in navigation.  When we sold our house and hit the road in 2003, we used the Streets and Trips software on our laptop with a little USB GPS receiver.  A few years later we bought a Garmin dashboard GPS, then a Rand McNally RVND, and now a Magellan.  Those are all great devices and we use them all, but I like using my Droid smartphone with Google Navigation the best!  Why do I love it?  Let me count the ways: It’s in my hand.  I am in the passenger seat – this is not a good thing for a solo driver – but for a navigator, it is so comfortable to hold the device in your hand to be able to adjust your view, search for locations, or change settings.  When I have to manipulate the screen on a device that is mounted to the dash, I have to sit up in my seat and contort my body in order to see the screen and be able to properly use the controls.  If we’re using Streets and Trips on the laptop, that’s easier than the dashboard units, but it’s big and awkward. It’s fast.  My navigation advice is usually needed when Jim is driving according to the dashboard unit and he says something like, “this next turn doesn’t seem right, what should I do?”  I need to quickly get a birds-eye view of where we are vs. where we’re going, and evaluate the choices of how to get there.  With a simple pinch gesture, the Droid responds... Read more

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