Archive | November, 2011

Make your movie fill the full HD TV screen with Windows Live® Movie Maker

29 Nov

Don’t let the fact that it’s free fool you. The Windows Live® Movie Maker has an impressive array of features to bring your still photos to breathtaking life.
In a matter of minutes you can create a movie out of any collection of vacation, event or theme photos. As you work on your movie project, you will most likely view your results in the Windows Live® Movie Maker "Preview Window". Your movie will look great in this window, but the finished product will not automatically fill the full screen when played on your HD TV.

To make a really polished movie, one of your goals should be to "fill the screen." This does not happen automatically when making a movie using photos taken in the typical horizontal or landscape orientation common to the majority of today’s digital cameras. The problem is that the default size setting for photos on most digital cameras does not match the size of the typical computer or HD TV screen. This is because they are both set to different size standards, known as "aspect ratios." The aspect ratio is the relationship of an image’s width to its height.

Here is an example you may be familiar with: At the cinema the screen is exceptionally wide in relationship to its height. The cinema screen is almost 3 times wider than it is tall, or a ratio of approximately 3 to 1. When you watch such a movie created for the theater on a typical HD TV screen at home, your movie is forced to fit into a screen narrower in width than it was designed for. The ratio of your HD TV’s width to its height is only about 2 to 1. You see this difference as a thick black band across the top and bottom of your TV:


Many dedicated video cameras automatically capture video in the same format that fills the width and height of the standard HD TV, but most dedicated "still" cameras, most of which also shoot video, do not by default. By contrast, the standard aspect ratio of your typical digital camera is only approximately 1 ¼ times wider than it is tall, or a proportional ratio of 4:3.

The diagram below illustrates this:



The default setting for Windows Live® Movie Maker is 4:3, so your standard digital photos taken at their native setting will fill the full Windows Live® Movie Maker Preview Window. You can find this setting on the Project tab in Windows Live® Movie Maker:


But if you plan on displaying your movie on an HD TV screen in full screen 16:9 format, then using a photo taken in the 4:3 photo format in your Windows Live® Movie Maker movie will result in large black bands on the left and right sides of the movie frame:


There are two ways around this. One is to check your camera’s settings and see if the aspect ratio can be changed from 4:3 to 16:9. The other is to use your computer to crop your photos to an aspect ratio or proportion of 16:9. The Windows Live® Photo Gallery crop feature handles this easily.

Open your photo for editing by double-clicking it or pressing the "Enter" key once you’ve selected it, and then click the "Crop" menu on the Edit ribbon at the top of the screen. On the dropdown list that appears, choose "Proportion>Widescreen (16×9)." Note that in the process you will lose some of the height of your photos when converting them to 16:9 proportions.

Before applying crop:


After applying crop – a portion of the top and bottom of the photo are now gone:



You can now place this photo in the Windows Live® Movie Maker and it will fill the screen completely:



This problem has now been solved, but there may be more problems in the form of photos taken in the "portrait" style, which results in the photo being taller than it is wide. Using "a landscape," or horizontally oriented photo in your movie will result in a completely filled screen. "A portrait" or vertical photos will not fill the screen, unless you crop it to landscape/horizontal proportions.

Portrait style photo:



Portrait style photo placed in Windows Live® Movie Maker 16:9 format:



The huge black bands and small photo really detract from the impact of the scene. The solution is to again use the Windows Live® Photo Gallery to crop the photo to 16:9 proportion:


…and then place the photo into your Windows Live® Movie Maker movie:



Once all your photos are in landscape/horizontal 16:9 proportion you can begin making your movie. I use the Windows Live® Photo Gallery to select my photos, and then using the ribbon I select the "Create" Tab, and select the "Movie" button. This automatically loads my photos into the Windows Live® Movie Maker and I can then begin editing my movie.

I travel frequently and use the Windows Live® Movie Maker to share my adventures with my friends and family. I hope these tips help you to create captivating movies for the people you share your movies with!


Techspert Jason
MS Zaandam

I’m feeling Hot Hot Hot!

27 Nov

Just wanted to say hello to everyone and welcome! It’s Techspert Tom here on the wonderful ms Westerdam. Currently we are cruising the Caribbean, both southern and eastern. Seeing gorgeous ports that are native to me. ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) Islands are always a pleasure. San Juan, Grand Turk and St. Marteen are too.  With the pleasure of seeing Half Moon Cay, Holland America’s private island, every week. The sun is shining bright and the weather is nothing but hot!

One feature that I want to highlight within Windows 7 is the Instant Search feature. This feature is always overlooked or most Windows 7 users do not even know that it is there. The Instant Search feature lets you find anything within your computer, whether it’s a document, program, email and much more, instantly!

All you need to do is locate the Instant Search bar, which is located within the Start Menu. Once you start typing what you are looking for, you will see result instantly. With every character you type in, the search refines itself to make the results as accurate as possible. Not only will this instant search feature look for just the file names, folders or programs, it will also search through the content of documents. So if you can’t remember the name of a document, but you remember some of the content located within, start typing in what you remember and check out the results!


I use the instant search feature everyday to find my documents and programs instantly and now I’m sure that you will too!

Thanks and happy cruising!

Techspert Tom

ms Westerdam

New Sessions in the Digital Workshop

17 Nov

Great news for all you fans of the Digital Workshop. We are introducing two new classes. We are very excited to add “Files Folders and Sharing” and “Introduction to the Cloud” to our mix of classes offered in the Digital Workshop across Holland America’s fleet.

“Files Folder and Sharing” is a great new class that will help you understand the difference between files and folders and the difference between left click and right click. It will give you a better understanding of how things are managed and controlled in our computers!

“Introduction to the Cloud” is a first hand look at how Windows Live Skydrive can help you store and organize documents and photos on the internet in an easy way.

With these two new additions we now offer 12 great topics….

Introductory photo editing
Creative photo editing
Transferring photos
Sharing photos
Making movies
Camera basics
PC buying
PC Security
Windows 7
Stay connected
files folders and sharing
introduction to the cloud

On your next Holland America Line cruise, we hope you come see us in the Digital Workshop for some of theses great classes!

~Techspert Hana, ms Veendam

Save Your Pictures

14 Nov

All to0 many times in the Digital Workshop I have run across individuals who have at one point or another experienced the loss of photographs. Pictures are some of the most important possessions that we have and losing some by accident can be devastating. Although some of us have heard of these next few tips in the past, I would like to give out a friendly reminder with some tips to ensure that losing photographs will never again happen to you!

The first tip that I always tell normal travelers is to bring a flash drive or a jump drive with them on vacation. All too many times I have run across a passenger that has taken BEAUTIFUL pictures only to lose their camera on the very last day, or they have accidentally re-formatted their card. If you bring a flash drive with you on vacation, you will have the opportunity to transfer your photos every night from your camera to your flash drive in the Digital Workshop. This will also give you the opportunity to edit your pictures and save them to your flash drive while your still on vacation. Then, the work will already be done by the time you get home

Second tip: BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP your pictures on your computer! Setting an automatic backup in your computer allows you to do this without even having to think.

  • In order to set up a an automatic backup, proceed to your Windows Action Center by typing “Action Center” into your Instant Search.
  • Clink on the link to Backup and Restore on the left hand side under See Also.
  • In the Backup section at the top, click on the link to Set up Backup.
  • Select a Backup Destination where the backup will be created. Windows will Automatically show locations that are available. You can back up your files and folders to CD/DVD, external hard drive or a USB flash drive. (My suggestion is to use an external hard drive or a USB flash drive. If you use CD/DVDs, you will end up with many of these and it might start getting cluttered.)
  • Use the default backup setting on the “What do you want to back up?” page. Then, click the Next button. If you want to customize and choose which files or settings you would like to back up, choose the “Let me choose” option.
  • Lastly, choose a scheduled time that you would like to back up your computer. Choose a time you think your computer will be on.

I hope that these tips serve as friendly reminders for all of you out there. Backing up all your data is important, but our pictures are those memories that are priceless and tend to be the most important to us, so be sure to set up some sort of backup method.

Happy sailing!

Techspert Erin


Right is Might

10 Nov

Something I am always sure to mention in my Digital Workshop sessions is a reminder to use the right mouse button when using a Windows computer. It is one of the most overlooked features of Windows, yet one of the most useful. (And it’s not available on Apple computers.)

The right mouse button is used to access a “context” menu. A context menu is a list of options specifically tailored to control the item on the screen to which you are pointing when you press the button. This works almost everywhere in Windows!

When you find yourself asking, “How to I do _____ with this item on the screen?”, try pointing to the item and pressing the right mouse button. For example, if you want to make a change to your desktop, point to a blank area and press the right button. The context menu that appears offers functions such as “Screen resolution” and “Personalize.” If you are working in a Microsoft Word document and want to perform a task on a portion of text, right-click, and you’ll find formatting options, synonym look-up and much more.

The right mouse button is especially useful with the Windows 7 task bar. If you use the right button on a program icon in the task bar, you’ll find a “jump list” of files recently used with that program as well as favorite files which you can pin there. For example, right click on the Microsoft Word task bar icon and see your favorite documents. Right click on the Internet Explorer icon and see your frequently-visited web sites.

You can’t go wrong with the right button.

– John Busey, ms Ryndam

Windows Live Photo Gallery paired with Inkubook creates the perfect memoir after the cruise

7 Nov

After your “cruise vacation of a lifetime” adventure polish up your favorite images using Windows Live Photo Gallery and show them off in a stunning photo book. Photo books cleanly and simply showcase the best memories from your cruise without overwhelming the audience with too many photos.

Microsoft designed a site with additional plug-in tools that can add extra features and functions to your favorite Windows Live programs like Live Photo Gallery and Live Movie Maker. A plug-in tool can do such things as upload to Picassa or SmugMug galleries, create a PhotoSynth collage image of your favorite photos, and also create photo books at a company called Inkubook.

Inkubook’s plug-in places the images you select in Windows Live Photo Gallery into one of their templates and then allows you to add captions and rearrange the order of the photos. They have many sizes, layouts and a choice of hard or soft cover books. They frequently offer great coupon deals like buy one get one free for your first book and 30% off by November 8, 2011 for Thanksgiving.

Reviews on the web regarding Inkubook mention great customer service, high quality product, easy to make, arrives quickly for a reasonable price. All that and I can upload directly to Inkubook from the plug-in tool I download free into Windows Live Photo Gallery! What’s not to love?

What are the steps to produce a photo book from Windows Live Gallery and Inkubooks? Great question.

Get the free Inkubook Photo Book Uploader plug-in

Step 1: Open Windows Live Photo Gallery

Step 2: In the menu bar at the top left, click on the “Create” tab

Step 3: In the Ribbon under the word “Create” click on “More tools” and then click “Download more tools”

Step 4: On the website window that pops open choose the category on the left side “Publishing (14)” and click the application link called “Inkubook’s Photo Book Uploader” on the right side of the screen.

Step 5: Click the download button and choose to Run the plug-in installer. It will now setup the tool and be available for use after you restart Windows Live Photo Gallery.


Use the Inkubook Photo Book Uploader

Step 1: Open Windows Live Photo Gallery

Step 2: Select the edited photos from the folder of your choice in your gallery of photo by holding the CTRL button while clicking on each photo.

Step 3: In the “Home” menu ribbon at the top of the screen, look for the “Share” section towards the right end and click on inkubook

Step 4: Select your preferred book size, theme, photo layout, and book title from options across the top of the Inkubook open window.

Step 5: Click the button “Upload to Inkubook & Customize”

Step 6: Sign up for or log in to your Inkubook account on the popup screen

Step 7: Finish editing, adding captions, rearranging your photos, etc. at the website and finish your purchase. Don’t forget to add coupon codes if you have one!


Enjoy your beautiful new photo book in about 1 week.

Just another way that Windows Live adds fun to your photos!


-Trisha the Techspert on the ms Rotterdam




Become a Daily Explorer!

6 Nov

Here’s a nice tip for your next Holland America Line Cruise:

On each day of your voyage you will receive a printed copy of the Explorer that provides listings of all the activities on the ship as well as details about any port of call that you are visiting that day.

So, why not capture this information by taking a picture of the upper half of the the Explorer?

Holland America Line Explorer

This will not only provide you with some history about each city you are visiting but will also document the date, temperature and other relevant information about that particular port of call.  It even gives you the all aboard time, in case you forget!

In addition, this snapshot creates a natural “bookmark” so that when you review your photos you will be reminded of where they were taken.

To gain all of these benefits, simply get in the habit of taking a picture of the Explorer each morning before you start your day.  When doing so, we recommend “macro” or “text” mode for best results.

To learn more about these and other modes on your camera, come see us in the Holland America Line Digital Workshop Powered by Windows for our “Camera Basics” class!

John Roberts – Techspert – ms Prinsendam 

Try Landscape Mode!

3 Nov

Cruising with Holland America Line offers you many opportunities to take photos of breathtaking vistas.  Sometimes, however, that amazing view may include objects at different distances away from you.  For example, you might have snowcapped mountains that provide a beautiful backdrop for a a sailboat in the foreground as shown below.

Antarctica Landscape

You may have experienced less than optimal results when taking pictures like this using automatic mode, which tends to wash out the background or overexpose the foreground. For better photos of in situations such as this, you may want to try switching your camera to landscape mode.  It’s perfect anytime you want both the foreground and background of a photo to be in focus.

Once in landscape mode, the camera will automatically choose settings so that areas of interest at different distances in the scene will be captured in focus.  It does this by using a smaller aperture to increase depth of field. A wide angle (short focal length = wide viewing angle) is typical for this type of shot to capture as much of the scene as possible.  Landscape mode is generally found on your Mode Dial or under the SCN dial or menu.

Wherever your travels take you, try your hand at using landscape mode for some great pictures. And to learn more about this and other modes on your camera, come see us in the Holland America Line Digital Workshop Powered by Windows for our “Camera Basics” class!

John Roberts – Techspert – ms Prinsendam 

What is a Cloud?

2 Nov

Hello! My name is Bryan  Roper and I am a Techspert aboard the ms Oosterdam.

I get asked a lot of questions about Cloud computing and what it is. In this post i will try my best to explain what Cloud computing means for the everyday regular Joe.

Here’s Wikipedia’s definition…

“ The delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).”

What does that mean in layman’s terms? A Cloud can let you store, and access information from anywhere that has Internet. You could call your email a cloud. Its information that you can access from anywhere via the Internet.

A perfect example is the Microsoft cloud system called “Skydrive“. Skydrive will let you back up your pictures and Office documents online, and you can access those documents from anywhere in the world that has internet.

Lets give a real word example of how this could be useful in everyday life.

Lets say you go to visit a friends house. You get to talking over coffee and you tell them all about this adorable picture you have of your niece riding a horse. In the past if that picture wasn’t in your wallet you would just have to wait to show your friend next time you came over for coffee, but If you had your pictures on a cloud you could pull them down and show your friend right then and there. Getting the picture? Let me try to paint you one…no, literally I made this in Microsoft Paint…


Lets say you had a Windows Phone, and you had placed your pictures on your cloud. You could log in to your cloud via your Windows phone and pull down your pictures to show your friend.

Microsoft’s Cloud system is called “Skydrive” and fittingly so, its like your own hard drive in the sky that you can access from anywhere in the world that has internet. The other cool thing… Skydrive is FREE!!! You can also use it as a safe place to back up important personal documents and photos. I have copies of all the papers I’d never want to lose backed up on my Skydrive.

Learn more here…

I hope this has helped lift the haze on cloud computing!

Bryan Roper – Techspert

ms Oosterdam