Archive | July, 2011

Windows 7 Instant Search

31 Jul

Hi everyone, this is Craig on the Ryndam, sailing out of the sunny port of Dover. Admittedly, one of the features in Windows 7 that I use the most is its Instant Search. The aptly chosen name should clue you in to how quickly you can search your computer for anything. Where in the past a full-system search could take anywhere from five minutes to an hour, the Instant Search takes only a few seconds at most!

To use the Instant Search, simply click on the Start Menu Button on the bottom left-hand corner of the taskbar. You should notice at the bottom of the Start Menu, directly above the taskbar, your cursor is flashing in front of the words “search programs and files.” That’s the Instant Search field. As soon as you click on the Start Menu Button you can begin searching!

Search results are broken down into different categories based on types. Generally, programs are on the top of the list, followed by the Control Panel, then things like documents, pictures,
music, and videos follow that.

So what does it search for?

First and foremost, it searches for filenames – everything on the computer has to be called something. If you have added any digital keywords to a program, document, or picture, it will
pick up that file too. This makes finding pictures with captions or tags easy to locate. The Instant Search also searches the text inside documents. For example, if I write in a journal every day that is called “Craig’s Journal” on the computer, chances are that for today I will write about this blog entry. If I were to search my computer for the words “instant” or “search” or anything else written in that journal, the document “Craig’s Journal” would come up in the search.

One of my favourite features of the Instant Search is something I call the “How To Manual.” If you don’t know how to do something in Windows 7 you can search for how to do it. If you want to know how to change your screensaver, type in “screensaver” and the Instant Search will give you different options related to your search keyword. In the screensaver example, I have the options to “change screen saver” or “get more themes online” or “turn screensaver on or off” or “set screensaver password.” The “How To Manual” results will always be listed under the Control Panel category of the Instant Search.

So the next time you need to know where something is or how to do something on your computer just Instant Search it!

Hope this can save you as much time as it does for me!

Craig Louis
ms Ryndam

Turn your Photo into a work of ART!

29 Jul

Hello from Russia with Love! This is Aiden,checking in from the MS Rotterdam which is located in St. Petersburg, Russia.

After enjoying the day at the Hermitage Museum,I have been inspired. I am ready to create a masterpiece, are you?

Using Windows Live Photo Gallery- Photo Fuse Feature we can create a work of art by bringing a little bit of color to a classic black and white photo.

Have you ever seen a black and white picture with just a hint of color and wondered how they do it? Check out the steps below and get to work creating your Masterpiece.

IMG_0472 Stitch Fuse

Step 1: Open a Photo in Windows Live Photo Gallery. 

Step 2:Make a copy of this Photo using the Make a copy Button Capturelocated under the edit tab. Save this photo in the same Folder by clicking the save button.


Step 3:  Now that we have two photos, turn one of the photos Black and White or Sepia using the Effects filters shown below.Capture6

Step 4: Select the photos you want to fuse. On the Create tab, in the Tools group, click Photo Fuse.


Step 5: Click the area of the photo you want to replace with Color. Drag one of the points to adjust the size of this area. Capture5Then select which one you like best.

DSC_0375 Fuse

For additional tips on using the Photo fuse Feature in Windows Live Photo Gallery visit or click on the following link  to watch a video tutorial Using Photo Fuse to get the best out of your Photos.


I hope this helps you create some wonderful Photos.

Aiden– Techspert on board the MS Rotterdam

Multi-tasking in Windows 7

17 Jul

Multi-tasking in Windows 7


My name is Bryan Roper and I’m the Techspert aboard the ms Oosterdam sailing out of Seattle!

Windows 7 has so many amazing features to help streamline your day to day operations. I’m going to show you one of my favorite multi-tasking tricks in Windows 7; it’s useful and looks really cool as well!

In Windows 7, you can easily switch between programs that are running using a quick and easy keyboard command that only requires one hand!


Here you can see I’m working with Windows live photo gallery on my PC.



If I want to switch to another program that I have running like Internet Explorer, or Microsoft Word, I can do so quickly and easily with this cool menu!


Here’s how it works. Let’s start out by identifying the two keys on the keyboard I will use for this feature.

The first one is the “Windows” key and it’s towards the bottom left hand corner of your key board.


The second is the “Tab” key and its near the upper left hand corner of your keyboard.



I start out by holding down the “Windows” key with my left thumb.

While holding windows key down I press the “Tab” key once.


This brings up a visual menu of all the programs I have running at the moment.


Every time I hit the Tab key while holding the Windows key, I cycle through the running programs. When I press Tab until the program I want to switch to is in the front, then I simply let go of the Windows key.

Pretty awesome!

I hope this helps you along with your multi-tasking!

-Bryan Roper  Techspert     ms Oosterdam

Storing Pictures on SkyDrive

14 Jul

Hello everyone!

While I am sitting in the Digital Workshop onboard the Noordam,
currently docked in Barcelona Spain, I have decided to discuss Microsoft’s
online filing cabinet, also known as the SkyDrive.  As we take more and more pictures throughout
our journey around the world, we are all becoming more aware of the importance
of backing up our photographs. While, some of us may use external hard drives, flash
drives or CD/DVD’s, there are others that have started to consider online

Microsoft’s online filing cabinet is called SkyDrive. This is a
very useful and free option for not only storing our photographs, but also an
easy and sufficient way of sharing our photographs as well. This is how I store
and share my photos with friends and family from all over the globe!

So how do you get your own SkyDrive? Simple! All you need is a
Window Live ID. First, navigate to and proceed
to the SIGN UP option.

Once you create an ID and a password, that’s it! You now have your
own Windows SkyDrive!

Now how do you actually put pictures on your SkyDrive and
share them with friends and family?

Very Simple! We recommend first start by opening and editing
your pictures in the Windows Live Photo Gallery. Directly from the Photo
Gallery you can choose the pictures you want to upload. You can choose just one
or multiple pictures. Then in the SHARE area of the HOME tab above your
pictures, click on the SKYDRIVE icon. You can then choose if you want to create
a new photo album or add your pictures to an existing album.

Once you’re finished with naming your albums, you can then
click on the PUBLISH tab in the bottom right corner. Once you photographs are
published they are now on your SKYDRIVE and you can begin sharing them with
friends and family by selecting on the SHARE tab above your pictures and then
selecting on SEND A LINK! You will then be prompted to enter in your recipients
email address and then hit send!

SkyDrive makes sharing and storing pictures and documents
quick and easy! I always tell guests it’s great because you “kill two birds
with one stone”, you are storing your pictures so you never lose them and at
the same time you are sending them to friends and family around the world!

Hopefully this blog helps you create your very own SkyDrive
so you can share your amazing photographs you are capturing while sailing to varies
destinations throughout the world!

Cheers from the Noordam


Using the Star Rating System in Windows Live Photo Gallery

12 Jul

In the Digital Workshops on board the Holland America ships we teach many wonderful programs.  One of my favorites though is our Transferring Photos class, or you may know it as Insert Photo Here, because it gives me a chance to explain one of the most frequently overlooked editing tools, the “Star” rating system.  Windows Live Photo Gallery(WLPG) gives the user the same tool that the professionals use to edit their images.  As a former Stock photo editor who had to on a daily bases go through between 500 and 5,000 images a day I truly understand the power and convenience of workflow that WLPG offers to it’s user to edit their images and select what is truly the best images they have taken.  I have been on many cruises and I find a week that my average guest creates around 300-1000 pictures a week and they will, if ever, spend hours, most likely weeks, weeding through images deciding on what are their best images.  Dragging and dropping images here and there (good and bad piles really), repetitively hitting the delete key, and spending more time dragging and dropping. Well, the “Star” system can help and let me explain how by giving you my personal workflow; explain how the system was meant to be used.


Let’s find exactly what we are looking for.  In the tagging and info pane located on the right hand side of the the gallery work space, accessed by clicking the Tag and Caption button in the Ribbon at the top, you will notice 5 clear or blue stars.  The Star system is designed as a process of elimination, I call it panning for gold and not because as you rate the stars turn gold, though I like that too;)  The Star ratings are also designed to be done free of the mouse. Using a mouse to do your selections will waste hours of time moving the cursor here and there on the screen.  So here is how I explain the Workflow to my guests on board.

First I have my guest bring up the folder or selection of images they want to edit, then, double left click the first image to see it enlarged, open the Tagging and Info pane by doing as I describe above and follow these next few simple methods. 

I give One Star to every image I don’t hate.  Strong language I know but I hate blurry shots, bad expressions on faces, shots of knees, pockets, and every thing else that strikes me as not good.  How do I do this without the mouse you might ask.  Well if you press the number 1 key on the key board the first star will light up, press the 5 key and five stars light up (0 removes all stars).  So now I have job for my left hand.  Second, I need to get to the next image so I let go of the mouse and put my right hand’s fingers on the right and left arrows in the bottom right hand corner of the key pad.  When you tap the right arrow it takes you to the next image, the left to the previous.   Now I have a job for my right hand.  Now I do my editing in multiple passes. 

When you have hundreds or thousands of images it’s easy to tell what’s bad but not so easy to see what best.  So I just want to get ride of the garbage with the first pass.  I don’t delete now because it takes to much time and later I can display only the junk/unrated images and delete them in mass. 

So with my left had on 1 and my right hand on the right arrow I go through as fast as possible letting my first impression be my guide.  “Do I like it?  Yes” (one star), next, “Do I like it?  No” (skip) spending no more than a few seconds at most with each image.  If you have to ask yourself if it’s good you should probably skip it.  When done.  You are ready for the second pass. 

First though you need to find and use one of the “Find/Display” options “Rated” in the ribbon about 2/3 to the right.  Select rated and display only the 1 star in the drop down that will open.


Now here is my rule for the 2nd Star.  I use it to eliminate duplication.  In the digital age people take 10 shots of everything.  Do you really want to show your friends and family when you get home 10 pictures of Tuesday nights dinner plate?  No.  And I’m sure they don’t want to see it either.  So, I give 2 Stars to every image I have only one of and the best of a series.  I only want to show my friends the one and best image of Tuesdays dinner plate.  I’ve gone through the images now one full pass so I have an idea of what’s coming next and again I let my instincts guide my fingers.  And the 2 star images are the images I’ll share with my most loved ones and those that were on vacation with me.

For the 3rd, 4th, and 5th stars I use them to gage my audience .  I keep using the stars to weed out the lesser images until I’m down to the very best I have.  And I’ll show different ratings to different groups.  My friends I’ll show the 3 star images to.  The 4 stars for a dinner party, maybe like 10 minutes worth of images.  The 5 star images get displayed at my funeral.  Just keep going back to the “Rated” button and displaying progressively better and better work. 

In a few hours with a little practice you can make short work of masses of images using WLPG.  It’s the same tool the pro’s use and it’s available to everyone.  Done.

William Bossen – Techspert on board the MS Massdam

Core i3, i5 and i7…..What does that mean?

6 Jul

Hi folks,

Kristin here ,reporting from the lovely Eurodam stationed at the moment in Stockholm, Sweden with a little tip for anyone possibly in the market to purchase a new type of
PC.  When I teach the It’s All Geek to Me course here in the Digital Workshop, in which we try to find what type of PC is a best fit for you and your lifestyle, I often get asked the question, “Should I get a PC with an i3, i5 or i7 processor? And what’s the difference between them?”

First of all,these terms correspond to processors from the specific brand of Intel.  A processor is like the engine of your computer, the bigger it is, the faster your computer is going to go.  The different numbers 3, 5 and 7 correspond to the different variants, Core i3 is for a low level, Core i5 the midrange level and Core i7 is the high end performance.

Before you make a purchase though, you should really think about what you are going to do with you computer.  If you are just using your computer to email, surf the web, create word documents and perhaps do a little photo editing you would probably be just as fine with a Core i3. It’s a solid, affordable choice for a heavy majority of people.

The Core i5 is going to be a computer that is more expensive than a PC with a core i3 but it’s going to be more powerful and be able to allow you to work with larger programs.  A step up from the Core i3, i5 processors will give you a noticeable difference in speed, depending on what type of applications that you run. If you are playing minesweeper, you aren’t going to be able to tell a difference between Core i3 and Core i5 processors. If you are editing multiple files in Adobe Flash, with virtualization software, playing the newest RPG computer game you may notice the Core i5 to be much more faster. The Core i5 is great for people who use their computers frequently for programs that require more power from your computer and for people who multi-task.

The Core i7 are the current most expensive and top of the line from the Core series of Intel processors. For most computer users, the i7 is probably much more than they’ll actually need or even think they need.  But, if you want the best of the best that will run your video rendering programs, giant RPG games, and many other higher technical programs and are willing to pay for it than the i7 is all yours.

Always try to remember to try to fit your computer to what you do in life.  I had one guest make a comment that I stilluse in class.  “So I bought a Lamborghini when really all I needed was a Ford Focus.”

Hope this post helped to answer some of questions.


Cheers from the Eurodam,

Kristin, Techspert in the Digital Workshop powered by Windows

The Alaskan Season is in Full Swing!

2 Jul

Hello from Anchorage:

As I write this Blog, we are just leaving Anchorage, it is 10:20 pm and the sun is still shining brightly. Here are some of the outstanding pictures that our guests have taken during our last two voyages. I hope that you enjoy their viewing as much as we enjoyed taking them.

Office 365 is Available

If you or someone you know has a small to medium sized business, let them know that Microsoft has released Office 365. This internet based version of office (yes, its on the cloud) can significantly increase the productivity of any business. All for as little as $6.00 per month per seat. Check it out at:

For all of the Holland America ships and Techsperts operating the Digital Workshops powered by Microsoft, I am

Frank Barcelona Techspert Amsterdam