Archive | April, 2012

Using Tags More Effectively

26 Apr

Descriptive Tags are a great way of organizing your photos, but quite underused. This organizing technique is a way to digitally label your photos so you can find them at a later date. Have you ever asked yourself, “I wish I could see all my photos of _______?” The most common of theblankstends to be things like ‘sunsets’ or ‘flowers’ or cities you may have visited around the world. If you have placed a Descriptive Tag on those pictures, a simple search on your computer for that word will bring up all those pictures.

A simple program to use to add Descriptive Tags to a photo is Windows Live Photo Gallery. With you Tag and Information Panel active on the right side of the screen, simply click on ‘Add Descriptive Tag’.

What you may consider doing is organizing your Descriptive Tags, which can be done very similar to the way we’d organize folders. On the ‘Home’ tab’s ribbon, you’ll notice a button that says ‘Descriptive Tag’. If you click on the words (instead of the icon) a drop-down list will appear with the option ‘Manage Tags’. This brings up a separate window where you can organize your Descriptive Tags by adding a new one or by dragging and dropping one tag onto another (just like you may have multiple sub-folders inside of a parent folder creating a tree).

For example, I have a Descriptive Tag that says ‘Places’ and inside it are the seven continents, and inside of those folders are the countries I’ve visited on those continents and then the cities are inside those. It’s a nice way to organize because I can then search my computer for any of the wordstreeand it will pick up all those pictures. If I was looking for pictures from Vancouver, I’d be able to search for the word ‘Vancouver’ or ‘Canada’ or even ‘North America’ to find what I’m looking for.

Try making your own Descriptive Tag tree to see just how easy it is to find what you’re looking for later on!

Craig Louis
Techspert on the ms Volendam as we cross the Pacific, heading to Vancouver…

Snipping Tool: A practical use

19 Apr

Hi everyone!

Many guests that I interact with assume that because I’m a techspert I know everything there is to know about computers.  Though I wish I could claim that, it’s simply not true.  The things I know I’ve learned from practical experience, Microsoft training guides for my classes, other techsperts, and the occasional (ok, very frequent) search for the answer on Bing.com.  But sometimes, just like some of you reading this post, I have no idea what to do when something weird happens on my PC.  Absolutely. No. Clue.

I say that to encourage you.  Don’t get discouraged if you don’t know.  It happens to everyone. When I come across situations like this I’ll often go to Bing.com and search for my issue.  As someone once told me, “You’re never the first person to have the problem.”  Many times I can find the solution online written in an article or on a forum like answers.microsoft.com.  If it’s not there, I might write my own post on a forum about my problem to see if someone can help me, or I might e-mail someone I know who might know the answer, like another techspert or even my dad (He’s an IT professional, so he helps me out quite a bit actually).

The only problem with asking for help, particularly when you’re not sure what’s going on, is that it can often be hard to identify the problem for the person assisting you.  Have you ever experienced something like this?

Me: I’m trying to access some folders on my PC, and I can see them, but they’re kind of greyed out at the moment.

Person who is  SUPPOSED to be Helping me: What?  the folders are grey?

Me: Yeah, well not grey.  More like… they kind of look like a ghost or something?

Person: Umm… you have a ghost on your computer?

Me: No, the folder looks like a ghost.

Person: Like a white sheet with eyes?  That’s not possible.

As you can see, this conversation is going nowhere.  I’ve done a horrible job of explaining my problem, they don’t understand what I’m saying, and now they don’t even believe that what I’m talking about is actually happening.  Talk about frustrating!

Luckily, when I use Windows 7 I have a really easy way around problems like this one.  The snipping tool!

Note: The snipping tool is available to use in all versions of Windows 7, with the exception of Windows 7 Starter.

The snipping tool allows me to select a portion of the screen and then, essentially, take a picture of that selection.  I can then save or e-mail that selection if I want.  I can snip absolutely anything that I can see on my screen!

To use the snipping tool, first click on your start button in the bottom left corner of your screen.  Then type in “snip.”  You’ll notice your start menu changes to a list of search results, click on “snipping tool” at the top of the list.image

Once the snipping tool is open you can simply place your mouse in the upper left corner of the item, left click and hold, and then drag your mouse down diagonally to the right, creating a box around your item.  Release the mouse once you have the box at the size you’d like. 

For example:  Here’s the snip I created of my problem I mentioned in the example:

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I even wrote on the snip with a pen tool to point out my specific issue (see  how this folder is greyed out or “ghosted” compared to the other folders?).

Once I have my snip I can just select the e-mail option to send this to the person who is helping me.  Now that they can see what I’m talking about, it will be a lot easier for them to help me.  And, more importantly, my snip acts as proof: this really DID happen on my PC, or else I would not have been able to snip it!

The snipping tool can be used for a lot of things, but next time you come across something you’re unsure of, snip it, and then someone will have more information when assisting you!

For a video demonstrating the snipping tool, click here!

-Techspert Krista, ms Statendam

Document your vacation with Panoramas!

11 Apr

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These panoramic photos were created in the free program, “Windows Live Photo Gallery” which can be downloaded at: http://download.live.com

Rotterdam Techspert – Trevor

Lets get digi with it

Microsoft Helps Fight Phishing

10 Apr

Have you ever received a suspicious email that wanted you to provide sensitive information? You were most likely the target of a phishing scheme. Phishing is an attempt to acquire information from an email recipient such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as trustworthy entities, such as a bank or government agency.

It is a problem on the rise. Worldwide, phishing attacks increased 37 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the security firm RSA. Last year, RSA estimates, one out of every 300 e-mails included some kind of malicious link or phishing attempt.

In an effort to combat the problem, Microsoft recently announced that they are teaming up with Facebook, Google and others to provide a new specification to streamline how email providers figure out whether messages lead to phishing attacks and stop them.

Called DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance), this new specification offers a way for senders to be verified, and it creates a system that’s built on reputation. Ultimately, DMARC can block suspicious e-mails, based on certain levels of authentication, before they ever hit the inboxes of intended recipients.

To learn more about how you can protect yourself from phishing schemes and other online threats, be sure to check out our session, “PC Security” on your next Holland America Line cruise in the Digital Workshop Powered by Windows.

John Roberts – ms Noordam

6 Apr

When you walk into a store these days, there are so many different kinds of cameras that are sitting there waiting for you to purchase. And then when you FINALLY decide which one to get, based on price and information provided by the sales associate, you get home open the box and now you get a manual on a disk, not actually in a pamphlet book anymore. The information they do give you is so hard to understand and so hard to follow that you give up trying to go through all the information and you decide that you will just keep your camera in AUTO mode because that’s all you feel comfortable leaving it on!

Playing with your camera and learning about it is OK, and it is good to do. I recommend  going through your settings on days when you don’t need to take a picture “right here…

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It’s OK to play with your camera settings!

6 Apr

When you walk into a store these days, there are so many different kinds of cameras that are sitting there waiting for you to purchase. And then when you FINALLY decide which one to get, based on price and information provided by the sales associate, you get home open the box and now you get a manual on a disk, not actually in a pamphlet book anymore. The information they do give you is so hard to understand and so hard to follow that you give up trying to go through all the information and you decide that you will just keep your camera in AUTO mode because that’s all you feel comfortable leaving it on!

Playing with your camera and learning about it is OK, and it is good to do. I recommend  going through your settings on days when you don’t need to take a picture “right here right now”. What happens a lot of time is that people tend to buy new cameras and only use them on vacation or special events, otherwise that camera is left in the box or drawer until the next big event when you need to pull it out.

Instead of having to read through that long complicated manual here are a few very basic tips to know

First your Auto mode is a great all purpose setting to leave it on, but you bought a nice camera it is nice to at least be able to understand some settings and when you would want to use them

Going around the wheel,  The first Green Box icon is your Auto mode

The next icon underneath that is the Portrait Mode this is useful when you want to take pictures of subjects in focus and it will blur the background. This is a good setting to switch to when you want to take clear focused picture of your grandkids or of a couple at a wedding

The Next Icon under that looks like a mountain with a cloud over it. is also known as your Landscape Mode. This is a great setting to switch to when you want both foreground and distant objects in focus. Great for scenery pictures , of mountains, forests, beaches, glaciers etc.

The Flower icon, known as Macro Mode is very useful for taking pictures of small tiny details of small objects, such as flowers, rings , stamps, coins, insect , etc. If you like to visit botanical gardens, this is definitely a setting you should know!

The Running Man icon is known as Sports Mode. This is for taking pictures of fast moving objects. If you take pictures of sporting events or of dolphins in the Caribbean or of whales in Alaska, this is a great setting for you to know and use!

You will find other settings on your camera that are useful to use as well, but My suggestion would be to pick the top 4 settings and know how to switch to them quickly, because if you know how to do it quickly you will ACTUALLY use these them. When you are comfortable with these 4, then I would suggest finding and learning about the other settings. If you try learning them all at once it might get too overwhelming.

Have fun with your digital camera! Play with it, Practice with it, Learn more about it.  The more you play with it the more you will discover!

Have fun taking discovering your camera!!

Techspert Erin-

Ms Oosterdam