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Pastfinders Computer Users’ Group

February 20, 2008

Digital Television

After February 17, 2009, over-the-air broadcasts of analog television will stop and be replaced by digital broadcasts. In order to continue to receive television broadcasts you’ll need to get either a new TV or a converter box. (If you have cable or satellite TV you do not need to do anything). The government will send two $40 certificates to each household to allow them to procure converter boxes that are in the neighborhood of $60. You can go here to fill out the application to apply. . Don’t wait until the last minute. The Gov. is running out of the $1.5 billion allocated for the boxes.

System Management

When your computer malfunctions, you sometimes can find the cause and the cure by using the EVENT VIEWER. The traditional way to get there is to follow this chain. START/CONTROL PANEL/ADMINISTRATIVE TOOLS/EVENT VIEWER. But there’s an easier way to get there and see many other management tools as well. RIGHT CLICK on the MY COMPUTER ICON and then CLICK on MANAGE. Here, you’ll find SYSTEM TOOLS, STORAGE and SERVICES and APPLICATIONS. Click on each to explore what’s there. Under SYSTEM TOOLS you’ll find EVENT VIEWER. CLICK on it to open it. If your problem had been a program acting up, CLICK on APPLICATIONS and in the listing look for a “red X” and the word ERROR. DOUBLE CLICK on that and you’ll open a box that explains the error and offers a web site that you can go to to possibly get an answer.

If you go back to the box on the left and CLICK on STORAGE you’ll be presented with some disk management tools including DEFRAGMENT. When files are stored on a hard drive, they are stuffed into whatever space is available by breaking the file into fragments. The more saving and deleting you do, the more the disk becomes fragmented. You can defrag the disk which may take several hours or you can ANALYZE the disk to see if it needs to be defragged. Defragging improves performance but not so much as it used to since drives are faster today than before.

So remember this shortcut when you need some system management tools all nicely located in one place. Spend some time checking them out in case you need them in the future.

Creating a Computer Slide Show.

So you’ve got a photo album full of pictures of your family and every family reunion you drag it out and show it to family members one at a time. Turn that album into a slide show and show everybody at once.

Creating a slide show or your computer is relatively easy and can be used for many different things:

Presenting club or organizational activities.

(See Clermont Garden Club)

Documenting or preparing for an event.

(See pre-wedding slide show of bride and groom)

Displaying a house for sale.

Documenting family gatherings.

Showing family vacations.

Showing a project’s progress.

Displaying family history through a slide show.

It’s Family History that we’ll cover in today’s presentation. It’s a nice, friendly way to show some of your genealogy. Especially if you have some photographs from the 1800's. But even lacking photographs you can include charts, maps, letters, deeds, wills, marriage certificates and obituaries. But don’t force your audience to read long letters. You can show one to display the type of writing but add a second chart to provide a brief summary.

You’ll have to decide on what software you’ll use to create your slide show. You can use PowerPoint, Corel Presentations, Open Office Impress or others. Several web sites will let you upload images and convert them into a slide show to be shown on the Web. Brighthouse offers such a service to its customers. One good free program is Microsoft’s Photo Story. Go here to get it.


That’s what we’ll use to create our family history slide show.

Whatever images that you use, you have to get them into your computer. You can scan them but today it’s easier to photograph them with a digital camera that has a macro lens. You won’t even have to take them out of that album! Images don’t have to be high resolution; slide shows saved to show on a tv are converted to a movie that has a resolution of 320 x240 pixels of you save it to a CD but can be 640x480 if saved to a DVD. That’s less than a megapixel. Power Point and similar slide shows presented on a large screen might benefit from more resolution but most projectors can’t show more than 2.5 Megapixels.

The resulting product from PhotoStory is a Windows Movie Video (WMV) file that can be shown on computers but not through a DVD player and TV. To accomplish that, you need software that will convert a WMV file to a DVD video format. If you have a DVD burner, then you probably have software that will do that. Music that you add should be in WMA or MPG format. Creating a slide show using copyrighted music should be considered Fair Use under the copyright law but how far you can go in distributing it to others is not clear.

Dotty used Photo Story to create the slide show that she did for the Clermont Garden Club, using photos that she had taken every year as the photographer of the annual Garden Walk.

Our grandson is getting married in March and our granddaughter is getting married in June. Dotty made a slide show of our grandson and his bride-to-be using pictures of them and their families from birth through school and college and ending with the wedding invitation. It will be played on an endless loop during the rehearsal dinner. She is now pretty far along on our granddaughter’s slide show.

Now Dotty will show you how easy it is to create your own, personal slide show.


My way of creating a slide show. You may have alternative programs on your computer that you are more familiar with and, by all means, try them.

These are the programs and locations that I use:


# 1. Windows “My Documents/My Pictures” which has many folders of photos I have uploaded from my camera.

             I use these folders for storing every picture I input into my computer. Sometimes I make a new folder when I am going to make a PhotoStory and I transfer what I want to use into this folder at this point. This allows me to print a contact sheet so I can edit more easily. Some photos can go directly into my PhotoStory3 program, others I fix up in Picasa 2 while others I have imported into PrintMaster for special enhancement.


#2. Picasa 2. This is a free Google program. It automatically helps organize your photo files and has editing tools. You can remove red-eye, add contrast, color and sharpness among other things. After editing, you save the repaired image which you can then find in the “My Pictures” folders. In this program you can also put your photos in sequential order and save them in that order using the batch edit option.  


#3. PrintMaster 12. This is a project program where you can create banners, posters, and flyers. It has art available and you can create headlines and text in color, change the size of an image, and import your own images from folders in “My Pictures”. When you have your art work done, it can be saved as a poster file but you also need to save it as a jpeg image so you can export it into your “My Pictures” folder in order for it to be used in your slide show program. You can use any image editing program to do this - including some that are free.


The final program is the one used to create the slide show. 


#4. PhotoStory3.

To create your story you import photos or art work from your “My Pictures” folders. You can use any of the folders to pick and choose what you want to include in your story if you haven’t made a separate folder for your story.


PhotoStory3 allows you to add transitions from picture to picture. You can designate how long the image is to be shown. You may add titles to an image, have a choice of fonts and colors and 4 placements on the image. You can edit and rearrange the pictures after importing if you need to. You can import music from downloaded mp3 files. You save your work first in a wp3 file that allows you to edit. Save it to “My Documents/My Videos” folder. When you wish to save it for showing on your computer, you can bring up your wp3 file, go to the page that says “save your story” and click on “save your story for playback on your computer” and this will “build your story” as a wmv file. If you have a CD burning program, you will use this file to create a CD.



Some things that we talked about will be covered here.

Batch renaming: In Picasa you can select the pictures you want to rename and then go to PICTURE/BATCH EDIT/RENAME and choose a name and add a space and -1. That will rename the pictures starting with NAME -1. If you don’t add the -1, the first picture will ne NAME and the second NAME -1.

Without using Picasa, go to the folder containing the photos (or files) that you want to rename, select the ones that you want to rename, RIGHT CLICK on one of them and select RENAME. Enter the name you want to use and (1) and the extension that the photo has as in NAME (1).jpg. Press enter and they will all be renamed.

Printing a contact sheet. Open the folder containing the phots that you want to print on a contact sheet and select the photos to include. In the left column under PICTURE TASKS, select PRINT PICTURES. CLICK NEXT, NEXT, NEXT and then slide down to CONTACT SHEET PRINTS. Select that and click NEXT.


We used OpenOffice Impress to show a presentation. That's part of OpenOffice that you can get here. It's a free equivalent to Microsoft Office and can read and create MS Office documents.


We also talked about IrfanView which is a free graphics program that includes creating a slideshow, printing a contact sheet and batch renaming. You can get it here.