Archive | July, 2012

Sitka Alaska- Raptor Center

19 Jul

During this summer season MANY of Holland America ships are exploring the wonderful state of Alaska. As I finish up my contract on the Oosterdam I decided to explore some unique sites in Sitka. Although many of us may have been to Sitka before, some may not have had the opportunity to visit the animal habits that are here. The Raptor Center is one of the best places to visit and explore .

Now some may have heard of the bird rehabilitation center better known as the Raptor Center but some of us may not have known that Holland America Line helped get the facility started. The company supported them from the beginning and helped fund them in order to rescue and help rehabilitate the birds to give them the best chance at being released back into the wild. They even named one of the bald eagles Hally, after Holland America Line aka HAL!

Here are a few pictures I took and edited with the Windows Live Photo Gallery.




It was an interesting experience and fun to see the effort that Holland America Line put in , and the difference that it made!


Techspert Erin

Ms Oosterdam

Fun with Forced Perspective and Windows Live Photo Gallery

12 Jul

Forced perspective is a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is. It manipulates human visual perception through the use of scaled objects and the correlation between them and the vantage point of the spectator or camera.As we are visiting Pizza regularly here on the Niew Amsterdam, I thought it might be fun to share some photos with you. All the photos below have been edited with Microsoft’s Windows Live Photo Gallery Software, which is a fee download to your XP, Vista, or Windows 7 computer. Take a look;


All it takes is a little pre-planning with your subject and a little imagination. Remember to post your results on your SkyDrive Account. If you don’t have one as of yet, go to and sign up.

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

Frank Barcelona Techspert, Niew Amsterdam

The Tablet Slayer

8 Jul

Hi everyone, Rob here from the Eurodam in the Baltic.

Now I’m sure we’ve all heard in some form or another all the news over Windows 8 and it’s anticipated release, I’m also sure there are some of you out there who have come across Microsoft’s Surface, a revolutionary tablet that’s ready to beat the best!

Now the Surface is going to come in one of two versions, you may prefer a more simple approach which is were Windows RT comes into play. Or maybe you are after something much bigger and powerful, giving you the ability to run the entire Windows 8 OS from your fingertips. Lets take a look at both…

Surface for Windows RT

Windows RT is Microsoft’s multimedia friendly tablet based operating system with a striking yet simple layout. The hardware itself boasts a lightweight 1.5 pounds, 9.3 mm thick, High Definition tablet. It comes with either 32GB or 64 GB and a a variety of ports such as USB, Micro HD and Micro SD giving you the ability to bring movies, photographs and music on a memory card rather than placing them all in your tablet.

The apps that are displayed from the moment you start up are literally alive. They run and update in real time meaning no more static icons or having to click an app to get more data, your entire screen is a collection of information designed for you, by you. The application system is hugely user friendly, allowing you to instantly switch between apps and also display them side by side. There is also the addition of the Windows Store that allows you to download everything from music, movies to even more applications.

Surface for Windows 8

The bigger brother of the tablets, this version allows you to literally run a computer from your fingertips. Weighing in at just over 2 pounds, 13.5 mm thick and an even quicker array of ports the Surface for Windows 8 is set to allow people to run their computer quickly and easily from literally anywhere they are. Again this version comes in two options 64 GB or 128 GB, both with Windows 8 Pro.

Both Surface for Windows RT and Windows 8 also come with 2×2 MIMO antennae… what does that mean? Rather than one wireless receiver you now have two so your WiFi connections are quicker and stronger.

A tough VaporMG casing and Gorrila Glass screen is a strong enough combination to protect your Surface from all kinds of scratches and bumps.

Other hardware additions include a built in kickstand holding up your Surface and super thin pressure sensitive keyboard that double ups as a protective cover that just clips into place.

So if you are toying with the idea of buying yourself a new tablet in the near future, definitely hold off and wait to see what the Surface has to offer. This awesome piece of hardware is about to significantly raise the bar for tablets all around.

Happy Sailings!

– Rob Nicholson
Eurodam Digital Workshop

Hungry Bear: editing animation using Movie Maker

6 Jul

Greetings, Techspert Patti reporting from the msAmsterdam!

We have had the pleasure of sailing through Alaska on a 14-day cruise that takes us all the way up to Anchorage and back for the past few weeks. Last week we were blessed to be right near Anchorage for the summer Solstice and it was incredible to see the sun still shining at midnight – this really is the land of the midnight sun!

A few cruises back I was privileged enough to have a boy named Justin and his grandmother Marge participate in my digital workshops. I don’t often see kids in my workshops, and really enjoyed his presence amongst the crowd. One day, Justin and I got talking and I mentioned that my background is teaching stop-motion animation to kids his age, he seemed really interested in learning. So his grandmother and I arranged for us all to meet in the Digital Workshop and have Justin make a short animated film.

Unlike live action movie making where you use what is in your environment to create your film, for animation you have to create everything – all the characters, art work, backgrounds etc. In order to create Justin’s film I asked him to go take a photograph of ‘Alaskan scenery’, which we later printed as an 8×10 and used it as the background for making a movie about two bears – which I had purchased in Ketchikan for just this occasion (the toy kind of course).

Once we had the movie set created Justin came up with a story and I taught him how to animate it. Animation is created by taking multiple pictures of the object you wish to make ‘come alive’ – each time making small changes to give the illusion of movement – traditionally it takes 24 pictures to make one second of animation!

We actually used an application on my smart phone to film it as a stop-motion animation with Justin doing all the movements and me taking pictures. Once we had completed shooting the animation we then recorded some sound effects and put all these files into Windows Live Movie Maker.

Once in Movie Maker I was able to edit the animation, add title pages, credits and the sound effects Justin recorded (he did the voices of the bear!). I also wished to add music to our animated film and had our ‘Piano Man’ Roy specifically create a ‘soundtrack’ to our film. However, as Movie Maker is limited in the number of sound tracks you can add I had to get a little crafty. So once I edited the animation with title, Justin’s sound effects, and the credits I then exported it as an HD file — then brought that HD file back into Movie Maker and added our soundtrack to it, and exported again with both layers of sound attached to the movie.

Hope you enjoy!

Hungry Bear–by Justin