Wrapping up and getting ready

Ah, the Airstream will be moving again soon.  And you know what that means……

Photos, blog posts, videos, etc.  They’ll be back.  And that will be good.

Our time in the Phoenix area is just about done, and the timing couldn’t be better.  They’re calling for 91 degrees tomorrow.  That’s getting toasty for the end of April.  So moving to cooler climates is on the agenda.

The start of May will find the Airstream in Prescott for a short stop over.  A small Airstream construction project will be undertaken, and the dinette will be removed and scrapped forever.  I’ve always dug the benches and dinette in the International CCD model, but I’ve hated the Safari’s dinette for 10 years now.  It’s time to go.  And it will be replaced with a wrap around workstation for multiple monitors, computer, printer, and drives.  We’ll be putting some simple storage in that should actually add to the overall storage in the Airstream.  And it’s all going to come in for under $1,000.00.  At least that’s what I’ve been told.  ;)

After we get that all squared away the Airstream will head back to Cortez for a week to do some additional work for La Mesa RV Park.  It’ll be good to pop through there again, and should be a fun week working with the owners.

Finally, toward the end of May the Airstream will be pointed East.  I can’t believe that the Mississippi will be crossed again.  I think this will be the 8th time it crosses the Mississippi!  10 years of ownership, maybe it should be 10 crossings.  I’ll have to ponder that.

_MG_0426_7_8

On the water in New England. Yeah, let’s hope for sunny days and cool nights with 0% humidity.

We’ll be back in New England for about a month.  Looking at a small contract for an educational and informational website for a client.  Videos, photography, php programming, site customization.  Not your typical website.  Yup, June will be a busy month indeed.  And after June?

Your guess is as good as mine.  Simply put, going where work opportunities take me.  So we’ll just have to see what gets found next.

Netflix and the Airstream

Since purchasing the Airstream in 2004 (10 years ago, wow) there has never been a TV in it.  Seriously, no television set at all.  No satellite dish.  Never used a cable hookup.  Nothing, nada, zip, zilch.

What has always been in the Airstream?  My Apple computers.  Macbook pro and an IMac.  The IMac is no longer here, it was a space hog.  Everything I work on is done on my Macbook Pro.  Someday I’d love to have a Mac Pro “tower” and if you’d like to donate one I’ll happily take it.  Seriously, I’ll even give you my shipping address.  

The bulk of my media library is stored on portable USB hard drives, and a backup of my media is on my Drobo that I used to use in my studio.  It’s a sizable library, but you get to a point where you’ve watched everything you have with you a few times over.  What do you do then?

Netflix!

For $8 a month it’s a real deal.  And given the fact that I use 4G LTE I’ve got super fast net.  Combine that with my fortune of having unlimited bandwidth on my account and you have no worries seeing the latest.  Netflix has really come in handy this year, and I’m glad to use the service.

Even if you don’t have unlimited bandwidth you can still stream a ton.  Just change your account settings on Netflix to lower quality, HD is not necessary.  Seriously, HD on my monitor is meaningless.  So I dropped my quality settings and the shows still look perfectly fine.

Earlier this year a friend posted a funny thought on Facebook.  I’d been posting images from the desert, remote locations, etc.  And Jason wrote, “I think Rich is Heisenberg,” on Facebook.  Now I actually knew what he was referring to.  The TV series Breaking Bad.  I’d heard about it, but didn’t watch it.  But after his post I was inspired to see what the hype was all about.  And after watching the series over the past few months, I have this to say.

I am not Heisenberg.  However, I did park near him recently……

hberg copy

Sure, the RV is missing bullet holes in the door, but I’m pretty sure this was the Heisenberg RV……

If you’re on the road a lot I’d recommenced giving Netflix  a whirl.  Sure, it doesn’t have Honey Boo Boo on it, but isn’t that a good thing?

 

The latest web graphic over at RLC Design

I know regular readers don’t pop by my business website often.  So I thought I’d share my latest simple little web graphic that I created the other day.  It goes a long way to describing exactly what we’re trying to do for RV Parks looking for a new web design.

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 9.57.33 AMPretty simple, eh?

IPads and Airstreams

page1

The first page of apps on my IPad

Every day I’m full time in the Airstream I thank my lucky stars for today’s technology.  Without it I couldn’t work remote, and I certainly would have run out of space in the Airstream by now.

With today’s technology you can bring so much along in a small amount of space.  Movies, books, music, point of sales systems, games, invoicing systems, tutorials, and so much more.  All in the space of one book.  The IPad that’s with me (for years now) covers so much.

Books alone make it worthwhile

During my time in Prescott running my studio and gallery business I did a lot of training for photography.  Scott Kelby’s training online and in print is second to none.  And I had accumulated quite a collection of books that I stored at my gallery.  There was no room for them in the Airstream.  Seriously, absolutely no room.

When I finally got my IPad I didn’t immediately start loading books.  I used it for my portfolio display.  Nothing like having your portrait sessions right on the IPad to show potential customers.  After a few months of owning the IPad I decided to try Kindle for IPad.  And you know what I found?

All of the Kelby books available for download!

When I left Prescott in 2012 I actually gave away all of my printed books to an aspiring photographer in town who couldn’t afford the books yet.  The ones I really needed were already on my IPad.  Two milk crates worth of books (super heavy) all on my IPad!  Yeah, I’m sold.

Page2

So, what’s on my IPad you ask?

Oh, there’s plenty on my IPad.  Let’s run down the list of the things I use ever so often….

  • The Calendar – I use this for appointments, reminders, etc.  It syncs to my computers and IPhone.  So I don’t miss appointments.
  • Videos – I have several favorite movies on the IPad, and can stream the rest from my Macbook Pro.  No running around with a million DVDs in the Airstream.  My media library is on my Drobo, and backed up to a portable drive as well.
  • Light It Magazine – A digital only publication from Scott Kelby.  If you want the magazine, it’s IPad only.  Absolutely love Light It!
  • WordPress – I watch my blog and websites from the WordPress App on my IPhone and IPad.  Even if I’m not at the computer I can approve comments, check stats, etc.
  • Social Media Apps – Facebook, Twitter, etc.  They’re all on there.
  • Holdem – Occasionally I like to pretend I know how to play poker.
  • Easy Release – A simple model release app that I use whenever I do a photo shoot.
  • Xtrafolio – My portfolio system that I can show potential clients.
  • Register – My credit card processor when I’m out and about.
  • Invoice to Go – For generating quick invoices in the field, love this app!
  • Kindle for IPad – Oh yeah, if you like reading this is it!  Currently I have 37 books on this.
  • Zinio – Another magazine reader.  I use it to read Photoshop User Magazine.  Got my copies digitally so they’re always with me.
  • Good Reader – The best PDF reader I’ve seen.
  • Teamspeak – Yes, I game occasionally.  Great way to chat with all your friends.
  • Hulu – TV on the go.
  • Netflix – Yup, TV on the go.
  • Tune In Radio – Stream radio from across the country.
  • Voice Recorder HD – I really need to use this more often.  It’s so useful.
  • Allstays – On the IPhone and IPad.  Great way to find a park for the night.
  • USFS & BLM Campgrounds – This app is a new find.  Tons of free boondocking for a whopping dollar!
  • Spotify – I need to keep up with the latest music trends too.
  • GoPro – It is so cool to run the GoPro from my phone or tablet!
  • Filemaker Go – I still make databases you know.

page3

There are more apps on my IPad, but that’s my top hit list.  The space savings in books and magazines alone makes it so worthwhile full timing.  Everything else is just a bonus.

This totally inspired post came about as I was reading a magazine on the IPad this morning and thought to myself, “This thing is so darned useful!”

 

Guest Reservation Systems – A nifty idea!

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 11.19.58 AM

This morning I added a new slider image over at my business site, RLC Design.  It’s a little tongue and cheek, but it’s also super true.

Last year I developed a very simple, very manageable IOS reservation system for RV Parks, or other businesses that take reservations (motels, hotels, B&B’s).  And so far we have sold only one license.  Not complaining, I’m actually pretty perplexed.  See, every park we’ve stayed at in the past 6 months has not had an automated reservation system.  Instead they’ve had paper reservations, 3×5 note cards, giant bulletin boards with multicolored stickers indicating daily / weekly / monthly sites, and other such thrown together systems.

Over that same period of time I have been in park offices where the folks had lost my paperwork and asked me repeatedly, “Are you sure you already paid?”  Yes I am, I can even go online with my Smartphone and show you the debit off of my account for my stay with you!

Recently the park I was staying at lost my electric bill (many parks charge electric if you stay monthly), and had no idea what to charge me.  So they ate the cost of the electric on my site (very generous).  The park office person went through every paper meter reading, and had none for me.  Bonus for me, loss for their business.

Our staff isn’t good with computers, and other excuses

Every park I’ve showed the database to has been impressed.  But it stops right there at the door.  Impressed, but can’t use the system.  One park owner told me their staff would never work with the system, even though they wanted it.  Another owner told me they weren’t tech savvy and weren’t good with computers.  Another park manager was dying for the system after I showed them how it works, but knew the park owners would never pay for a system even if it saved employee time and guest time as well.

I have to ask the question here…….  Did computers just come out in the past 5 years or something?  I thought they’ve been around longer.  I mean, I had a TI-99A that I hooked to a black and white television in the early 80′s (that’s 30 years ago folks).  That was my first computer.  Heck, every fast food chain in America has computer terminals for ringing people out.

If your reservation system (or lack of system) requires clients to stay on the phone for 10 to 15 minutes while you figure out if there are any open sites 4th of July weekend, you’re doing your guests a disservice.  And I think your employees or work campers have other duties that they could attend to if you saved time on your reservations.

Seriously, in total since November I have stayed in 9 parks that took reservations on paper, or something like paper.

Maybe I’m just way too techie and biased…..  I mean, personal computers have only been around for 30+ years.

 

The nights are still comfortable

Things in the Phoenix area are definitely heating up.  The evenings are still tolerable and it cools off nicely in the Airstream after the sun goes down.  But the days are now heating up.  To be precise, I’m turning on the AC about 2 hours after the sun comes up.  Heat + Computers = Sad Computers.

computers

Just an IPhone photo in the Airstream. Trying to keep things inside as shaded as possible, it’s getting hot!

We’ll be wrapping up in “the valley,” soon enough.  And then the Airstream will get pointed North.  Just a little.  Prescott for 2 weeks, then moving further once again.  While it’s true that the heat in AZ is a dry heat, and that 90 degrees here is way more comfortable then 90 in Orlando, hot is still hot.  And before those 100+ days start in the Phoenix area it’s best to get to a higher elevation.

Movement = Blogging

When the Airstream is stationary for a bit it seems the blogging slacks off.  Staying in the same place for a while means the same routines.  And that leaves little to blog about.

Today I did the same thing I did yesterday.  Drive to Phoenix, photo shoot, drive back with insane traffic all around.  Stopped at Fry’s to get some Almond Milk Ice cream, and Fry’s was out again.  The next day……  Please read yesterday’s post and pretend it was posted today.

Yeah, that would be super boring wouldn’t it?  So that’s part of the reason the blog has been a little light lately.  The other part of the reason for the lack of blogging is simple.  I’m thinking hard about the next move.  No further clients are lined up yet, and honestly I’m a little puzzled.

RV Park Web Design

Truth be told I thought we’d be seeing a lot more response to RV Park Web Design work.  Looking through hundreds of parks in the Southwest left me feeling that there’s a huge customer base.  And there is!  It’s large and would take years to cover all the parks.  But the response is pretty weak.

Earlier today I posted an article on my business site about RV Park Website Design.  You can read it by clicking here.  See, park owners know the Internet is out there, and they know that they need a web presence.  But I don’t think they know they need a good web presence.  What we’ve found with the clients we’ve worked with so far is pretty amazing.  Increased web traffic, and increased bookings due to the new websites.  That simple.

I do believe that many folks think of a website as a sunk cost that doesn’t generate a return.  And that line of thinking is wrong.  Dead wrong.  Worse, many parks rely on the listing services of companies that are failing to deliver web traffic.  What delivers traffic today is different from even 5 years ago.  RVParkReviews.com delivers traffic.  Lots of it.  And to every park out there, with or without a web presence.  Those parks that are online risk losing new guests that were delivered to them by the review service if their site doesn’t work, is sloppy, etc.

So, my mind has been heavily on business and the next move.  And it’s been on other business issues that have come up as we research parks day in and day out.  One other item that’s really gotten me over the past few months….  Commercial business websites snatching images off of other websites for their own promotion.  Been seeing too much of that lately.  Taking copyrighted material for your commercial site that advertises your business is stealing.  You might as well get a copy machine and start copying your favorite books for friends and family.  Or better yet, steal music online.  Yeah, that’s what you should do.

Posting will continue, even if irregular

I’ll still be blogging here.  It might not be every day.  The first priority is to pay the bills, and this blog generates no revenue whatever.  So I have to focus on business stuff instead of fun and interesting stories.  Of course, the blog could generate some revenue.  For instance, if folks like my images they’re super welcome to purchase them.  I’ll even put a button here in the post.

Prints

Now, if things are consistent nothing will come of putting this button here.  But you never know, somebody could surprise me!  Oh, and on the sidebar of the main blog page you can also order one of my 3 photo collections through MagCloud. No pressure……  :P

Well, back to thinking work thoughts, and polishing the resume.  I’m pondering North Dakota these days, as I hear there’s an energy boom up there.

 

 

A few days away from the blog

So yeah…..quiet blog.

I’m taking a little time away as I look for the next contract.  There are a couple of ideas floating around, but until we’ve got something firm it’s one of those “nose to the grindstone,” deals.

Pretty quiet in Black Canyon City.  Many RV’ers have pulled out of here and started heading North.  The temperatures are climbing, and the AC is on often.  Sure did get hot fast!

I’m sure I’ll update with more soon.  Keep a happy thought for our next job on the road!