How to Customize the Lock Screen in Windows 10

3 Oct

Microsoft first introduced the new Lock Screen feature in Windows 8, it is one of those many welcomed features. The good thing about the new Lock Screen is that it is capable of showing widgets, quick notifications, and custom wallpapers. These widgets and quick notifications are possible because of the modern apps. In fact, Windows does have a few default widgets and quick notification apps like Email, Weather, Time, etc. Here is how you can customize the Windows 10 Lock Screen with just a few clicks.

Open Lock Screen Settings

Opening the Lock Screen settings in Windows 10 is straightforward. To start, click on the Notifications icon and then click on the “All Settings” button. clip_image001

Here in the Settings panel, select the option “Personalization.”


Once the personalization panel has been opened, select the “Lock Screen” option on the left panel.


Alternatively, you can also open the Lock Screen settings panel by searching for it in the Start menu. clip_image007


Configure Windows 10 Lock Screen

Configuring Windows 10 Lock Screen is easy. The first obvious thing to customize in the Lock Screen is the Wallpaper, and unlike in the previous version, Windows 10 has three different options for the wallpaper selection.

The first option under Background is the Windows Spotlight feature. When enabled, Spotlight grabs some of the best and most stunning wallpapers from Bing and shows them as your Lock Screen wallpaper. These wallpapers change in set intervals so that you won’t see the same Lock Screen wallpaper every day. To enable the Spotlight feature, simply select the “Windows Spotlight” option.


The good thing about this feature is that you get to say if you like the wallpaper or not. If you don’t like a displayed wallpaper, then simply select “No” from the upper right corner, and Windows will instantly change it to another one. The Spotlight feature also suggests some of the best or top-rated apps from time to time.


However, the Spotlight feature is missing from the Pro version of Windows 10, and I’m not so sure about the Enterprise version. Pro users may get the feature soon enough. Windows 10 will be upgraded regularly.

The next option is to set the Background to Picture so that you can select your favorite image as the Lock Screen wallpaper. You can select one of the predefined Windows wallpapers under “Choose your picture.” Alternatively, you can select your favorite wallpaper by clicking on the “Browse” button. clip_image013

While using Picture Mode as your background, Windows shows some random fun facts, tips and tricks on your Lock Screen. If you don’t want them, simply toggle the option.

The final option is to set the Background to Slideshow. To set it, simply select the “Slideshow” option from the drop-down menu.

By default, the Pictures folder is selected, and any pictures in it will be shown as a slideshow on your Lock Screen. If you want to set some other folder, then click on the “Add a Folder” option. You can add as many folders as you like.


If you want to remove a folder from the Slideshow, then select the folder and then click on the “Remove” button.


By clicking on the “Advanced Slideshow Settings” link, you can configure a few different options like Screen Off time, including Camera Roll in the slideshow, etc.


When it comes to widgets on the Lock Screen, you can choose one app that can show the detailed status and up to seven apps that can show quick status notifications. To set an app, click on the Add button and then select the app from the list.


If you install more modern apps that can integrate well with the Lock Screen, you will have more apps to choose from in the quick notification list.

We are excited to be conducting classes on Windows 10, if you have the chance to take a Holland America cruise, please drop by one of our Digital Workshops.

For the Holland America Digital Workshop, powered by Windows, I am;

Frank Barcelona Techspert Noordam

I’ve got Windows 10! Now what?

28 Sep

So you’ve got your hands on the latest Windows operating system, and you’re getting used to the changes you see here and there.  But you may be wondering what other features there are for you to explore, or how to make the most of features you are already using.  There are tons of places you can turn to find tips, tricks, and tutorials, but here’s a quick look at a few that should definitely be on your radar.

Get Started app: This resource is actually not online; it’s on your device!  Windows 10 comes with a great app that includes tons of helpful info that will allow you to hit the ground running.  With categories like “Cortana,” “Microsoft Edge,” and “Saving and Syncing content,” the Get Started app offers up easy-to-access, easy-to-understand information.  There are even step-by-step instructions and tutorials that will walk you through some aspects of the new features to help you explore and discover the best Windows 10 has to offer.

To find the Get Started app, you can click on the Start button, then click on “All Apps” and look through the alphabetized list, or you can simply type “Get started” in the search box on the Taskbar.

Windows Website: A lot of the content from the Get Started app, and more, is also available through Microsoft’s How-To Center.  Like the app, the How-To Center offers up step-by-step instructions and tutorials, all organized by category.  One valuable feature is the capability to switch between various operating systems, so you can easily research the same help topic for whatever version of Windows you’re curious about.

You’ll also find frequently asked questions, so you can see what sorts of topics your fellow Windows 10 users have been looking into.  Along the same lines, if you do not see the answers you’re looking for, you can tap into Microsoft’s great user community and ask and answer questions about Microsoft products.

One more resource easily accessible through the Windows website is their Answer Desk.  The Answer Desk is ready to help you with whatever you need, from questions about services and apps to troubleshooting problems, and more.

Microsoft Store Personal Training: If you’re a more hands-on kind of person and would like some interactive help, then you can head to a nearby Microsoft store and participate in the personal training courses offered there.  There are a couple sign-up options, depending on whether you’d like just one course or a whole year of courses, and there are a variety of topics available.

Don’t have a Microsoft store near you?  No problem!  Just book a cruise on any Holland America Line ship, and take advantage of our new Windows-10-based curriculum in our on-board Digital Workshops! ;-)

-Techspert Jessica, writing from the Nieuw Amsterdam in the sunny Mediterranean

Get Ready!

26 Jul

On Wednesday, July 29, Microsoft will begin releasing Windows 10. Here are some facts you should know:

  • Microsoft will offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for qualified new or existing, Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year following the availability of Windows 10.
  • The upgrade will be fulfilled digitally via Windows Update. The download size is approximately 3GB.
  • It is Microsoft’s intent that most Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices will qualify, but some hardware/software requirements apply and feature availability may vary by device.
  • Users will need to meet the device qualification and compatibility criteria, and also have the latest Windows Updates installed including Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update.
  • The upgrade rollout will take place over a period of time that begins on July 29, so not all computers will be upgraded immediately.
  • The Windows 10 upgrade comes with support from Microsoft.

It’s quite likely that your computer is already showing an upgrade icon in the lower-right notification area on your desktop like so:


Click there to learn more about the upgrade and get your computer ready.

Here are some of the terrific new features that Windows 10 will bring:

Cortana –This is a voice-activated personal assistant. You can already find it on a Windows phone but now it is available on Windows 10 computers. You can interact with it easily by talking or typing. You can use it to find things on your computer or on the Internet. Cortana learns about you and gets smarter the more you use it. It learns your preferences in order to provide relevant recommendations, fast access to information and important reminders.

Edge – Edge is the next-generation browser that delivers a better web experience that’s made for easy sharing, reading, researching and getting things done online. Advanced features include the ability to annotate by keyboard or pen directly on the web page and easily share with friends. There’s a reading view that can display articles free of distractions. It also integrates closely with Cortana for finding and doing things online.

Xbox – Xbox on Windows 10 lets gamers access the best of the expansive Xbox Live gaming network on both Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One. Players can capture, edit and share their greatest gaming moments with GameDVR and play new games with friends across devices. Players will also be able to play games on their PC, streamed directly from their Xbox One consoles to their Windows 10 tablets or PCs within their home.

Office – Office universal apps on Windows 10 offer a consistent, touch-first experience across phone, tablet and PC with new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook. They are designed from the ground up to run on Windows. You can easily create and edit Word documents, annotate PowerPoint slides in real time with new inking features and easily give presentations, and, with new touch-first controls in Excel, you can create or update spreadsheets without a keyboard or mouse.

Universal apps – Built-in Windows apps provide an updated experience for both large and small devices. Look for enhanced Music, Photos, Mail, and Calendar apps.

Windows logo

Windows 10 has been designed and developed differently from the way previous versions of Windows have been done. It makes it possible for Windows to empower people more than ever.

Techspert John
ms Amsterdam

Pinning Websites to Your Desktop

14 Jul

Greetings from the ms Rotterdam! This is your Techspert Amanda, and I want to go over a feature of Windows that not only gets overlooked, but can help keep your PC secure!

Consider the following scenario:

You’ve received an email claiming to be your bank, stating that there was unusual activity on your account, and they need to verify your identity. A link is provided to take you to the primary website where you would be asked to input information to verify your identity.

If this sends up red flags for you, that’s good. You should always be cautious of links in your emails, especially if they’re wanting you to provide personal information. So let’s learn about a way to quickly and easily access our commonly-used websites without using links in our emails, and always getting the proper website.

Let’s say that I want to pin the Digital Workshop blog to my Desktop or Taskbar. My first step would be to open the Digital Workshop blog in my browser, in this case Internet Explorer. When I open the website, in the address bar at the top is, of course, the web address. Directly to the left of the web address is what’s referred to as a “Favicon” which can be dragged to the location for pinning.

To make use of the Favicon, you’re going to use your mouse to drag the Favicon to either your desktop or your Taskbar.

Drag Link to Desktop
Figure 1a. Drag the Favicon to your desktop

Drag Link to Desktop2
Figure 1b. A shortcut appears to the website

Pin to TaskbarFigure 2a. Drag Favicon to your taskbar

Pin to Taskbar 2
Figure 2b. A shortcut appears on your taskbar for the website

Using these two methods will give you quick and easy access to your websites from your desktop view, and more importantly it will help enhance your security by giving you direct access, avoiding the potential of opening phishing websites.

  • Amanda Barham | ms Rotterdam

How to Use Different Live Tiles for Multiple Emails in Windows 8.1 Mail App

16 Jun


While most people check their emails using a web browser, the following cool trick could probably entice users to use the default Mail app in Windows 8. This will allow users to see the status of multiple email accounts live on the Start screen. For example, when you receive an email, you will have a peek at the sender and subject of the message in each registered email account as long as it’s in the Wide size preview. This tutorial includes two things: setting up or adding email accounts and configuring the Mail settings to pin the accounts as live tiles.

How to add an email account in Mail App

Adding an email account is quite tricky in the Windows 8 Mail app if you’re not familiar with how to navigate the Windows Charms. Here’s how to add a third party account or multiple accounts.

1. Launch the Mail app as you would normally do and activate the Charms. You can activate it by moving your mouse to the upper-right corner of the screen or by simply using the key boaoard shortcut Windows key + C Windows key + C

2. clip_image004

2. Once you see the Charms, click the Settings. Under Settings, click Accounts.


3. You will see your default Hotmail account; click “Add account” and choose the type you wish to add.


4. When connecting to the email service of your choice, you will be prompted to provide the authorizing access.


How to label, configure, and pin email accounts

Here’s how to label and set up the accounts.

1. When you see the box on the bottom-left corner, label the email account as you wish. (e.g. Gmail – Inbox) See screenshot below.


2. Click “Pin to Start” (you can also click the green button as shown above) and see how it goes.


3. Repeat steps 1 – 4 to add another email account.

4. Go to the Start menu and wait for awhile until the emails sync.


Note: Syncing may take some time. The Mail icon inside the tiles will only appear for a while. Alternatively, you can right click an empty space to show the pop-up menu of the Mail below the screen. Click “More” and then choose Sync.


You may also label and rename the other accounts and give them a more descriptive name. Under “Settings” go to the Account and click the account you want to edit. You may also change the settings in each account like the syncing option, automatic downloads of external images (toggle on or off), etc.


If your email notifications are on, you may turn them off and simply use the above live tiles trick to keep you posted on what’s in your mailbox. Keep in mind that the email notification, which pops up on the upper-right corner of the screen when you receive a message, is a different feature. You can turn the notification on or off as well under “PC Settings -> Notifications -> Turn off Mail app” which is under “Show notifications from these apps.”

And if you don’t feel like using this hack, you can remove the email accounts immediately, except for the default Hotmail account that is linked to your computer.

For the Holland America Digital Workshop powered by Windows, I am

Frank Barcelona Techspert Nieuw Amsterdam

International Email and Security Settings

24 Mar

Good morning everyone,

Rob here on the ms Maasdam sailing back to Florida from the Caribbean.  Recently we returned from a cruise down to Brazil and I was receiving a lot of very similar questions along the lines of “My email isn’t working!” or “My service provider has blocked my account”

First to tackle the first issue of accounts not working overseas I would strongly suggest setting up an additional email account that does so you can still keep in touch with friends and family!  Some national email providers, for example Verizon, have a tendency to block your account when your accessing your it from a foreign IP address.  Most major email providers support international use simply because people all over the world use them.  Better yet you can even add your regular inbox into your new email so that you can read and send all of your emails from one place!

Go to to set up a new Microsoft email address today to use on your international cruises.

Next up is the issue of your major email providers blocking your account when you are overseas.  This is something that has been increasingly common over the last year or two, most email providers will do this to stop anyone who isn’t you from accessing your emails.  Although it can be frustrating it vastly increases safety and protects your privacy and data.

To make this process a lot more straight forward you need to change your security settings before you travel, first of all access your email account by going to  Once logged in click your settings cog in the top right corner then select Options in the drop down list below.

Email 1

Once you are here you need to select Account details under the Managing your account title.

Email 2

From here, you’ll be asked to log in again to confirm it really is you (you’re about to access some pretty sensitive details here!).

Next you want to select Security & privacy.

Email 3

Next up (nearly there :D) you want to go to your Account security section and select Manage advanced security.

Email 4

From here you want to select Add security info.

Email 5

You will then be asked how would you like to be contacted, try to add as much information as possible such as up to date phone numbers and alternative email accounts.  This way, if you are blocked from accessing your account you will have a lot more ways of being contacted.  I would suggest adding the email address of who ever may be travelling with you or maybe a friend or family member.

Just make sure you do all of this before you travel!

Happy sailing everyone!


What System Restore Can and Cannot Do to Your Windows System

22 Jan

Every time your system gets corrupted or when something goes wrong, like bad drivers or misconfigured settings, the first thing that comes to our mind is to restore the system to the previous good state. Actually, it is one of the most suggested options as it is not only easy to perform but solves some of the basic problems like corrupted system files. But as useful as it is, there is a lot of ambiguity and some misconceptions about what Windows System Restore can and cannot do whenever you perform a system restore to fix things up. So let’s find out and clear up the confusion on what the system restore can and cannot do on your system.

What is System Restore

To put it simply, System Restore is a built-in feature which can be used to roll back to a previous known good state. This feature is particularly helpful whenever you want to roll back major changes made to the system. System Restore points can be created manually but are also automatically created in the event of any supported major changes to system configurations or while installing programs or Windows updates. If you have multiple restoration points, you can pick and choose the one that suits your current situation. clip_image001

Effects on Windows Programs

Whenever you perform a system restore on your Windows machine, your installed Windows programs will be affected. Any programs installed after the restoration point will be uninstalled and vice-versa. The only problem you should be aware of is that some programs like AntiVirus software, etc., may not respond as they should once restored and require you to reinstall the affected software to function properly. In fact, whenever you restore your Windows system, Windows will list all the affected programs right in the restoration wizard. So always check for the affected programs before proceeding to restore your Windows system.


Effects on Windows System Files

System restoration affects almost all the system files. So whenever you restore your system, any changes made to your system files, system programs, and registry settings will be rolled back to the restore point. Moreover, any deleted or changed system scripts, batch files, and any other executables will also be restored. If you have corrupted system files, then restoring your system to a previous time may help you to get your system back up and running.

Effects on Windows Updates

Just like the installed programs, System Restore will also affect Windows Updates. So whenever you restore your system, any uninstalled Windows updates will be reinstalled and any updates that are installed after the restoration point will be uninstalled. The same also applies to any installed or uninstalled hardware drivers. Since the hardware devices are affected by the changes in driver software, make sure that you always update, install or uninstall the driver software accordingly.


Effects on Personal Files

Although system restore can change all your system files and programs, it will not delete or modify any of your personal files or data stored on your hard drive. For instance, if you have stored your documents or pictures in the “My Documents” folder located in the C drive and later restored your system, the files will not be affected in any way and are kept intact throughout and after the restoration process.


Effects on Viruses or Other Malware

System Restore will not remove or clean viruses, trojans or other malware. These malicious software behave rather differently from the regular software and sometimes will be deeply integrated into your Windows operating system. If you have an infected system, it is better to install some good antivirus software to clean and remove virus infections from your computer rather than doing a system restore.


Effects on Deleted Data

System Restore will certainly restore your system files and programs, but it is not a tool to recover your deleted files or data. The workings of the System Restore feature is entirely different from how data recovery software works. So never ever use the System Restore feature as an option to recover your files and data. If you ever want to recover your deleted data, it is recommended that you use some sort of data recovery program to get the job done. Please remember that both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 have a built-in back and recovery program provided for you use.

That’s all there is to do, and hopefully the above points will give you a good idea of what System Restore can and cannot do in the process of restoring your Windows system.

For the Holland America Digital Workshop Powered by Windows, I am

Frank Barcelona Techspert VOLENDAM

A Different Kind of Drive

19 Jan

Aloha again from the MS Veendam! This is Amanda and I wanted to tell you about a few of the different drives that you can find on the market.

There’s a wide variety of storage for devices on the market today, and the two most common forms of internal storage are the HDD (Hard Disk Drive, aka Hard Drive) and the SSD (Solid State Drive). Both of these types of storage have their positive features and drawbacks. You can also use these in combination with one another for the best results.

HDD (Hard Disk Drive) If you’ve used a desktop, you’ve probably used a hard disk drive. These use disks (called platters) that look similar to CDs. These became the primary method of storing programs and files around the ‘60s.

Pros: High Capacity – You can easily find hard drives up to and beyond 4 Terabytes worth of space. Inexpensive – Even when buying high capacity hard drives, you’re paying pennies per Gigabyte.

Cons: Speed – Since the hard drive uses mechanical parts, it’s much slower than its Solid State cousins. Size – Hard drives are unlikely to continue shrinking, due to the size of the platters used.

SSD (Solid State Drive) Solid state drives are more commonly found in smaller devices such as laptops. These do not use platters, but flash memory chips.

Pros: Speed – Solid state drives are significantly faster than hard drives. Your operating system boots in seconds! Size – Since the solid state drive uses flash memory, it doesn’t have to be a particular size to accommodate platters the way that a hard drive does.

Cons: Price – Solid state drives are significantly more expensive than hard disk drives. You can get 4+ terabytes of space very inexpensively with a hard disk drive, but with a solid state drive a 2 terabyte unit will costs thousands of dollars. Limited Write/Erase – Solid state drives have a finite number of times that content can be written and erased.

Using a dual-drive system: When using a tower desktop, a good choice can be to invest in both a solid state drive and a hard disk drive. A solid state drive with 250 gigabytes worth of storage space is more than enough to accommodate one’s operating system and programs. You can then find inexpensive storage space with a hard disk drive to store all of your photos, documents, music, and other files in your PC. The solid state drive will allow you to quickly access and use your programs, while the hard disk drive will give you plenty of extra space to store your files!

Next time you’re looking into purchasing a PC, consider your options and what will work best for you!

  • Amanda Barham | MS Veendam

How to Know if your Hard Disk is Failing.

11 Dec

As most of us know, hard disks, just like any other electronic devices, have a limited lifespan and could break down after five to ten years of usage. There are a lot of factors that can affect the lifespan of a hard disk like the mechanical stress, temperatures, humidity, working conditions, physical trauma, finite number of write cycles (in case of SSD’s), etc. Luckily, most hard drives do show some symptoms before they die on you. Here are a few common wear and tear signs which can help you back up your precious data when you still have time to do so.

Corrupted Files

If your files are frequently corrupted, it could be a signal to inform you that your hard disk lifespan is coming to an end soon. Of course, these corrupted files may occur due to several other reasons like overclocking SATA bus, driver issues, sudden power failure, etc., but whenever you encounter this frequently, it is always a good idea to back up your data and diagnose your computer for problem.


Slow Response Time and Transfer Rates

Whenever the hard disk is at its limit, its performance also reduces significantly which in turn causes slow response times and transfer rates. The performance drop is so significant that your hard disk may take several minutes to transfer even a small audio file, or it takes too much time to even open a simple program like Windows Explorer. Even though detecting this symptom is kind of easy, deducing it may be a little tricky as the reasons may include several other factors like system load, fragmentation, infections, etc. Slow performance may not indicate immediate failure, but backing up your data as a precaution is never a bad thing.

Increased Bad Sectors

Accumulated bad sectors and frequent freezing are also a bad sign that your hard disk is at its end. For those of you who don’t know, hard disks store data in tiny clusters. Whenever these clusters got corrupted or damaged, that part of the hard disk is no longer functional and thus called bad sectors. These bad sectors can cause some serious irrecoverable damage to your data. Generally, bad sectors may occur due to logical errors (software) which can be repaired using a specialized software or could be due to physical damage like mishandling of the hard disk. Simply put, accumulated bad sectors are a strong reminder to have a good back up of your data.

Odd Noises and extreme heat

Odd noises and extreme heat are yet more major indicators that your hard disk is going to die soon. Mechanical hard drives tend to make some noise while functioning due to several moving parts inside it. But in the event of physical damage or deterioration, your hard disk may produce some odd clicking and grinding noises. There are quite a few reasons for these strange noises like the damaged header, failed motor, etc. No matter what the reason is, if you are hearing strange noises from your hard drive then it just indicates that you don’t have much time to back up your data.


Learning signs to know when your hard disk is going to fail is all good as it allows you to make quick backups to avoid any data loss.

For the Holland America Digital Workshop powered by Windows, I am

Frank Barcelona Techspert Amsterdam

Getting Help When You Need It

24 Nov

Aloha from the MS Veendam! This is your Techspert Amanda, and I wanted to go over a handy little feature that can be found within your settings charm.

You may be familiar with the way that your settings charm allows you to access different tools to alter things like your backgrounds and colors, but there’s another option available in certain apps and areas of your PC: Help.

The Help option in your settings charm is particularly useful when you are still familiarizing yourself with navigating Windows 8.1 and its features. Let’s take a look at a few examples!

Let’s say that we’re in the Start Screen and we’ve forgotten how to pin applications or access other available features. We need only reveal our charms (my favorite method is by using the Windows Logo Key + C) and select settings. Once we select the settings charm, it will reveal the options available, including Help.


Once we select Help from the settings charm, it will launch a webpage dedicated to the Start Screen.


As we continue to scroll down the web page, we reveal tips and step-by-step directions on how to navigate and customize your start screen. Seeing as how we were looking to pin applications to the start, we would scroll to that section in the help page and follow the directions listed.


Another useful feature of this Help tool is that it will open a webpage in whichever environment you are in. For example, when we opened the Help tool in the Start Screen, it opened a help web page in the Internet Explorer app. However, when we select Help while in the desktop environment, our Help page is launched in a desktop-friendly Help and Support program.


Last, but not least: Especially when you are first starting out in Windows 8.1, not only should you keep the Help option in mind as you navigate through, but remember too that you have the Help and Tips app available to assist you with your transition into the Windows 8.1 environment.


The Help and Tips app has comprehensive information regarding how to navigate and use the Windows 8.1 Operating System, and even allows you to narrow down your information by whether you are using Touch or a Mouse!


Whatever your endeavors within the Windows 8.1 environment, remember that there are tools available to help you on your way!

  • Amanda Barham | MS Veendam

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