Archive | November, 2014

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

See More with Magnifier!

13 Nov

Have you ever had trouble reading small print or pictures on your computer?  If so, then let me introduce you to Magnifier.


Magnifier is a useful tool that enlarges part—or all—of your screen so you can see the words and images better.

It is built into Windows 7 and 8 and comes with a few different settings, so you can use it the way that suits you best.

Getting Started

You can open and close Magnifier quickly so it’s handy when you need it and it’s out of your way when you don’t.

To open Magnifier using a keyboard:

1. Press the Windows logo key (between Function and Alt) and “+” (plus sign).

2. Magnifier will open in Full-screen view unless you change the viewing mode (See below).

To close Magnifier:

To exit Magnifier quickly, press the Windows logo key and “Esc” key. You can also click the magnifying glass icon and then click the Close button on the Magnifier toolbar.

Viewing Options

Magnifier offers several different modes which can be changed by clicking on the “Views” button once Magnifier is activated.


  1. Full-screen. In this view, your entire screen is magnified. You probably won’t be able to see the whole screen at the same time when it’s magnified, but as you move around the screen, you can see everything. If you have a touchscreen, Magnifier will display white borders around the edge of your screen. Drag your finger or mouse along the borders to move around the screen.
  2. Lens. In this view, when you move around the screen, it’s like moving a magnifying glass around.
  3. Docked. Docked view works on the Windows desktop. In this view, a magnifier is docked to a portion of your screen. As you move around the screen, parts of the screen appear magnified in the docking area, even though the main part of the screen is unchanged.

Try them all to find out which one you prefer!

To find out more about this and other useful features, be sure to visit us in the Digital Workshop Powered by Windows on your next Holland America Line cruise.

John Roberts – ms Rotterdam

Fun with Windows Photo Gallery’s Photo Fuse: Adding People to Your Pictures

10 Nov

Techspert Jessica here, writing from the ms Prinsendam as it works its way across the Atlantic towards Ft. Lauderdale.  I’m just about to disembark from the ship, so I’m spending some time looking back through my photos taken in all of the amazing ports we’ve been visiting over the past few months in Europe.  Not only have I had the opportunity to take some great shots, I’ve had some fun along the way with photo editing.

We’ve featured some posts here on our blog in the past looking at the Photo Fuse tool in Windows Photo Gallery.  There are some great things you can do with this tool, including removing people from images or crafting creative, dynamic photos by combining color and black-and-white photography.  But what I’ve been having fun playing with is not how to remove people from my shots, but how to put more people in.

To do this, I had to get some help from my friends.  A trip to the ancient Roman amphitheater ruins in Durres, Albania, was the perfect opportunity.  I stood in one spot on the “stage” of the amphitheater while my friends chose a seat somewhere up in the stands (or what’s left of them).  I snapped the first picture, as seen here:

DSC00162 (2)

As soon as I had taken the picture, I yelled, “MOVE!”, and my friends ran to sit in a new spot.  I then snapped the next picture:

DSC00163 (2)

We kept doing this again and again until we thought we had enough pictures, six different shots in all with my friends sitting in six different locations (see “Tips & Tricks” below for some info on capturing the pictures in the right way).  Once I had the pictures, the photo editing fun began.

First, I transferred all of the photos onto my computer and opened them up in Photo Gallery.  Then, I selected all six of the photos (see “Tips & Tricks” below for an easy way to do this) and selected “Photo Fuse” (found on the Create ribbon).

Capture 1

Photo Gallery layered the photos one on top of the other, with a window showing the other layers for a specific area that I selected. In the example here, I clicked on my friend in the yellow shirt, and the window that says, “Which do you like best?” shows me that same spot on the layers that are behind the one that I can currently see.

Capture 2

The next step was to locate my friends in each of the other photos.  It took a bit of hunting at times to find them, because I could only see the picture that was on top, but when I found another copy of one of my friends, all I had to do was click on that option, and Photo Gallery brought that other copy of my friend to the top layer.  The result was that I now had two – or three or four or five! – copies of my friend in the picture.  In the example below, I’m just about to click on the second copy of my friend to bring it into the photo, to replace an area that was originally empty.

Capture 3

In the final picture that you can see here, it looks like there are 18 people in the photo.  But when you look closer, you can see that it is really just each of my three friends, repeated in six different places.

DSC00162 Fuse (2)

You can probably see why I love Photo Fuse so much and why I think it’s such a fun tool to work with.  I hope you have as much fun as I do creating fun, interesting photos using Windows Photo Gallery.


Tips and Tricks:

-When taking photos that you plan to use with Photo Fuse, make sure that the camera stays as still as possible.  Photo Gallery can help adjust for really small changes from photo to photo, but it won’t be able to adjust for big changes, nor will it be able to adjust for zooming in or out.

-To help keep the camera steady when shooting without a tripod, choose an object that you can line up with before taking each shot.  In my pictures here, I tried to make sure I had the cave-like entrance always lined up in the bottom right of each of my photos before I snapped the picture.

-When in doubt, take more photos rather than fewer!  You can decide to throw some out or to not include them in your final picture if they don’t turn out great.  But if you only take 2 or 3 pictures to begin with, you don’t really have any wiggle room to work with and will be forced to use every single picture.

-Make sure everyone in your photo choses a unique location to sit/stand!  I had a couple pictures that I couldn’t use because one friend happened to sit in the exact same location another friend had sat a few pictures before, meaning that they would have been sitting on top of each other in the final photo.

-When in Photo Gallery selecting multiple pictures to fuse together, there’s an easy trick we can use if the photos are all next to each other, one right after the other.  Start by doing a single left click on the first photo.  Then, hold down the Shift key on the keyboard and then do a single left click on the last picture you’d like to select.  Finally, let go of the Shift key.  Holding down the Shift key allows you to select any pictures in between your first and your second clicks; just remember to click on the correct picture before holding down Shift!

Microsoft Health – Something New from Microsoft for healthier living.

2 Nov

Microsoft Health is a new service that helps you live healthier by providing actionable insights based on data gathered from the fitness devices and apps that you use every day. It’s designed to work for you, no matter what phone you have, device you wear, or services you use. Microsoft Health makes tracking personal fitness easier, more insightful, and more holistic. clip_image002

Microsoft Health is a cloud-based service that helps you live healthier by providing actionable insights based on data gathered from the fitness devices and apps that you use every day. Activity-tracking devices like the new Microsoft Band, smart watches, and mobile phones plus services like RunKeeper or MyFitnessPal connect easily to Microsoft Health. Using this fitness data and our Intelligence Engine in the cloud, Microsoft Health provides valuable, personal insights so you can reach your fitness goals.

What are Actionable insights?

Find out which exercises burned the most calories during your last workout. Or how long your body needs to recover before your next training session. Or how much restful sleep you actually got last night. Microsoft Health uses the power of the cloud to give you real-time wellness insights that will help you achieve your fitness goals.


Open to everyone.

Microsoft Health is designed to work with you, no matter what phone you have, device you wear, or service you use. The power of the cloud platform lies in its ability to combine the data from all the devices and services you use to give you a more holistic and insightful picture of your fitness.

Technology innovation.

The Intelligence Engine at the heart of Microsoft Health uses everything we’ve learned as a company about cloud technology and hardware innovation and makes it work for you. With data privacy and security a top priority, Microsoft Health is committed to delivering valuable, personalized fitness insights, empowering you to lead a healthier lifestyle. 

Microsoft Band, powered by Microsoft Health.

Designed to showcase the power of Microsoft Health, Microsoft Band tracks your heart rate, steps, calorie burn and sleep quality with advanced, highly innovative sensors. It also helps you be more productive with email previews and calendar alerts at a glance.* Microsoft Band works across platform on your Windows Phone, Android™, and iPhone®.


It All Works with Health Vault – Microsoft’s Trusted Repository for your Health Records and Fitness Goals.

For all of you using Health Vault, this new service will be an addition to your already useful cloud based service. Expanding the way you stay fit. And making life easier and healthier.

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

Frank Barcelona Techspert Noordam