Archive for December, 2006

How to Create Photo Slideshows From Your Digital Camera Photos


It’s that time again, the “look back at 2007″ time.  Wherever you turn, there seems to be a memory-filled montage of photos and stories from this past year.  How do you make your own?

 

I’ve been experimenting with a couple of different ways to make slick slide shows complete with transitions and music backgrounds.  One application that I first saw at CompUSA on the shelf was Microsoft’s Photo Story 3 for Windows for over $30.  It comes bundled with a photo editing/organization application.  However, there’s a little known secret – Microsoft actually gives away Photo Story 3 for Windows totally free on the web.  A full-version of the program is available for you to download and use right now!

 

Here’s the link for the download page: http://tinyurl.com/4f869

 

It’s a neat basic program that allows you to import the photos you want to include from your hard drive.  Set-up the order of the photos.  Select custom transitions between each photo slide.  And also “tween” beginning and ending spots for each photo (basically set-up the pan/zoom effects for each photo when you’re viewing it in the movie).

 

It’s very easy to figure out without a manual.

 

And last but not least, you can also import mp3 music files to set the background music for the slide show.

 

I’ve been very happy with PhotoStory so far.  It does have some limitations, but for 90% of users, this is a great program.

 

If you want to burn a DVD of your PhotoStory, you DO have to purchase a $19.99 add-on that basically is a Sonic DVD burner application, but it’s specific to this Microsoft program.  I actually purchased and used this add-on, and it worked as advertised.  You can create menus of several photo stories on the DVD, so you can make separate photo stories of each vacation, event, etc and then later create a DVD for all of them and ship it off to Grandma + Grandpa.

 

When you get a little advanced, you might start to envision some features which are available on higher-end applications like Nero, etc.  I personally made some photostory movies and then imported a couple of separate photostory files into Windows MovieMaker in order to incorporate some more of the text narration and better 3-d narration effects to the final movie.

 

But if you’ve never created your own photo slide show, this is a GREAT starter package — and it’s free, which makes it even better and totally risk-free.

 

 

 

Everyone hates the mouse! Useful keyboard shortcuts for Internet Explorer


I never knew you like rodents that much! Stop reaching for that mouse as if it’s your best friend!

Here’s 2 keyboard short cuts that are so ingrained that I forgot that everyone doesn’t know about it.  Someone was working with me on the pc and they were amazed about these 2 shortcuts.  Now they swear by them.  Here they are:

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Video over Text in Powerpoint, Flash in PowerPoint, 3-d Transitions in PowerPoint


PowerPoint is so ubiquitous, it’s in danger of loosing rights to it’s own trademark.  Kind of like “band-aid”.  But one other point to note is that since everyone on Earth seems to be using PowerPoint to create boring presentations, there’s tangible things you can do to get people’s attention (instead of them shutting down or attending to their blackberries during your meeting).

One way is to Energize PowerPoint Presentations with 3D, Flash, Templates, Backgrounds, Photos, Plugins, Charts & MoreYou can add stunning 3D transition effects, cool Flash animations, sophisticated 3D charts, TV-style animated 3D titles, beautiful templates, inspiring photos, etc.  PowerPlugs is one product which allows you to do TONS of stuff with GOP (Good Old PowerPoint).

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Backing Up Is Hard To Do (NOT!): Why You Should Buy An External Hard Drive This Year.

Do you floss?  You know you should.  All it takes is minutes.  And you know you should be doing it regularly.

Do you back-up?  I bet not.  Or at least not as often as you should!  We all know that are pc’s are vulnerable in this day and age to so many things — viruses, power surges, 3-year olds somehow figuring out how to turn on your pc unattended, coffee spills, etc…so why not back-up your data just in case?

Perhaps your excuse is that your shiny new pc has that massive hard drive you’re gloating about to all your friends — and your excuse is that you can’t just easily dump them onto cd’s or dvd’s.  Or that you don’t have a back-up tape drive to handle the 250GB drive full of data…well just think about how much it would cost alone to replace the 1,000 songs you’ve amasses from itunes at $0.99???  About a thousand bucks, right?  Even if you had only 200 songs…

Don't pay $0.99 per mp3!
[Side note, of course the other question is are you paying too much for a song at $0.99 to begin with!!!]

Here’s your opportunity to start the coming year with a fresh slate and a great resolution you can keep — “I’ll back-up my drive at least once in 2007″.

Now why and how you can you say that?  Because external hard drive prices have been dropping like bricks from the sky.  Storage drives have become very very affordable.  I personally found a Maxtor 100GB drive for $20icon AR recently.  There are even 500 GB external hard drives that go for $99 icon!!!!!
icon
That’s “>1/2 a terabyte of data storage at your fingertips!  Now you’ll definitely have space to store not only your mp3′s but also your movie files (you know you’ll be acquiring that type of media soon enough!).

The beauty of external hard drives are that they are portable.  They are instantly recognized by Windows, so there’s no configuration.  All you have to do is plug in the USB cable into the USB port of your PC and turn on the drive.  On your desktop, you’ll find a new drive that to which you can drag and drop files with ease.  Just drag that “MY DOCUMENTS FOLDER” and presto, you’re done!

Of course, if you’re going to be doing this more than 1x a year (be realistic please!), you may want to look at actual back-up software that sychronizes files and does incremental back-ups only (compares files and copies only updated or new files to the back-up location).  That type of software usually also has automated scheduling so you can set it to do it during lunch or at night daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc. But that’s a topic for another day.

Today, you finally have a great New Year’s resolution that you can shout out during all the end-of-year celebrations these coming weeks when people ask if anyone has set any!!!

Now about flossing….

 

!(*@#(*^!@#(*&!!!!!! It’s in the wrong file format! (How to convert file formats – pdf, png, docx, jpg, gif, flash, wmv, etc)

For one of the website I manage, we had to put up a new notice regarding an event this coming weekend on the splash page pronto…and someone was going to email me the pretty invitation graphic to put up.  No problem, right?  Just upload the jpg or gif or png file to the images folder on the server and then create a IMG SRC tag to display the graphic…

But of course, I get the graphic in….PDF format!  Ugh.  What now?

I go to one of my trusty file conversion sites and upload the file, designate the output format and wait for an email attachment with the new file!

I personally used , but another good service is Media Convert.  If you don’t find a specific output file type you want, just go to the other one.  Don’t forget that you can also covert video and audio files.  One of the neat practical conversions that will become more relevant is converting media into flash format so you can easily post stuff on the web.

Between the two of these services, they have most file formats covered.  Both are ad-supported and free to use which is a good thing.

I use ZamZar and PDFOnline a ton, and so should you!  Enjoy.

Recommended: Color Thermal Printer (just like a Color Laser Printer)

So if you’re an owner or work in a small business, you know that keeping expenses down is a priority all around. Yet you want to act an.d look like big business — and one way is getting a color laser printer for the office. While the prices of color lasers are coming down (like the HP Color laser can be had for under $600 now), what’s better than FREE?

Here’s one deal that I can whole-heartedly recommend — why? Because I just got a free color printer from Xerox myself — and now it’s all mine! I love my printer. It’s networkable, it double-sides (duplex printing), it’s fast, it does a great job for regular black and white printing too, it prints up to 1200 dpi, I use it a lot to make custom greeting cards with the manual feed tray, and it really impresses people to provide completely color prints that are a cut above inkjet quality. In fact, my printer is a newer and better model than the one at the 2 local Kinko’s I was going to for my digital color printouts previously!!!

The deal with FreeColorPrinters.com is that they give you the printer to use for 36 months — A Xerox WorkCentre C2424. You just use it as normal. Once a month, you simply print out a “usage report” which is easily printed from the printer’s control panel and then fax it in to them, so they keeps tabs on your usage. They provide all the black ink you want completely free (yes this part is true). You do have to pay for S&H, but it comes out to something like $5 for DHL ground for 15 black sticks of ink, which should last you about 50,000 pages depending on how much ink coverage you use. But basically, it’s nothing. The other colors of ink (it’s a CYMK printer, so Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Key (black)) have to be ordered through the program, but the pricing isn’t bad either. They don’t mark up the ink like crazy. And during the program, you get on-site tech support. So if the printer goes down and it needs to be fixed, they’ll send someone out to your physical location pronto. I’ve had to call support 2 times over the 3 years, and the 1st time they came next day, the 2nd time, they came within 1.5 hours of my call. All the repairs were free and the technician even gave me a couple of free ink sticks. :-)

The only other cost invovled is “maintenance kits” which keeps the ink drum clean and the printer uses it up over 10,000 pages (it’s based on an odometer type thing). They sell an “extended” maintenance kit, but unless you really think you’re going to be doing high volume printing, it’s not necessary. The kits go for about $120 I believe.

At the end of 36 months, Xerox sends you a nice little note stating that they are official turining over the deed of the printer to you. After that, you can do whatever you want with the printer. You don’t have to use it at all. You can sell it. You can use it to death. You can use 3rd party ink (i.e. Media Sciences makes compatible ink sticks for about 1/3 the price of OEM ink).

They have a completely no-risk application where you basically have to commit to 2,000 pages/month. It doesn’t have to be all color pages, but a certain percentage should be color. You should be careful on the application to be realistic because that usage # ends up being your “committment” # of pages you have to print every month. If you don’t hit that # on a given month, they look at your life-time monthly average. If you still don’t hit the “committment” # of pages, then they charge you $75 for that month — which is still cheaper than an equipment lease for a color printer. One way around it that I was told from a customer service rep is to create a word doc with a single character like a period in grey and run double-sided pages to reach the “commiitment” # of printed pages for the month. Although this is not what they intend, it’s what the guy told me to do. I only had to do it once or twice I think over the 36 months, but usually it wasn’t a problem for me to hit that #. So be realistic, but conservative, yet you have to be in the 2,000-4,000 pages/month range.

This program is perfect for churches that want to printout color bulletins and other promotional flyers; for small businesses that serve clients or do a lot of pitching to prospective clients; even restuarants that need to print take-out menus and placemats; and one really good segment is educational — schools are perfect for this program.

The application process is totally risk-free. You can sign-up just to see if you qualify and then try again with different mix of numbers if they come back to you to turn you down (just make sure you can realistically use the printer that much).

I compeltely love my Xerox Tektronix Color Printer. You can love your own too!

Xerox FreeColorPrinters

Have a Jolly Holly Personalized Christmas

Along with the surge in custom photo greeting cards this year for Christmas, there’s some “newer” products cropping up this year for those that like to be on the “edge” and have that extra special something that no one else has yet…Personalized Christmas ornaments for your tree!

It’s the perfect stocking stuffer and a great gift for teachers at the end of the semester.  Or an easy way to start a tradition with the kids or grandkids this year.

I found a bunch of new sources that do it easily, quickly and very modestly in price (read: CHEAP).  You can even create one and see it online before you order it too these days.  Merry Personazlied Christmas to Your Name Here!