Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Video Tutorial – How to create a DVD slideshow (and more)

If you have photographs you would like to share with friends and family, one of the nicest ways to do that is to create a slideshow, and then “burn” that slideshow to disc. There are easy ways to create cool, “Ken Burns” style slideshows, add music to it, etc., and today I have a Microsoft video tutorial for how to do that using Windows Movie Maker.

Also, friend and fellow tech blogger Rick Robinette posted a(nother) good article today: A Nice Google Chrome Extension to Convert Any Video from YouTube to High Quality MP4, FLV or MP3 for FREE

One of the rewards to maintaining a tech blog that has a strong emphasis toward reviewing (and testing) FREE software, is when a reader contacts you and points you in the direction of something that is good. The reader in this case, as a result of reading the past article, “Keep An Eye On This […]” Read more..

Folks.. a little non-tech for a moment, if you’ll humor me..
Yesterday, when I was out and about, tackling life’s To Do’s, I witnessed – hang on to your seat – a person stop what they were doing, and go over, and lend a hand to a stranger. (The details are unimportant, and it only took them under two minutes..) And I realized it had been too long since I had performed a “random act of kindness”.. I plan to rectify that mucho muy mas pronto.

Today’s quote:Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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January 24, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, how to | , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Fun with Fotos Giveaway | Beware the eCards

Folks, this is a bit different than what I usually offer here, but the first 20 responders will receive a $40 program.

Got your attention? Pearl Mountain software has generously donated some licenses – to help us celebrate Thanksgiving – for their Picture Collage Maker Pro.

Picture Collage Maker Pro is an easy-to-use program that can turn ordinary photos and pictures into stunning photo collage, scrapbook and cards to share with family and friends, and it is ideal for showing your gratitude and appreciation for the people in your life.

We have released Picture Collage Maker Pro for Thanksgiving Day, it contains new 16 professional Thanksgiving add on templates.

Here’s a screenshot..

Click on image to see larger

Now, frankly, ‘ole Tech Paul doesn’t know doodly-beans about “scrapping”, as this kind of creative use for photographs is known as – but I do happen to know a pro. I asked her to look at this program. Her response was that the templates look quite dated, and not all (of them) are attractive, but on the plus side..

It does seem quite user friendly and easy with a basic drag and drop load. You can add your own photos, change their shape, add a frame, type in text, and add clip art. They do offer hundreds of free templates to choose from, including basic photo collages, scrapbook pages, greeting cards, and calendars. You can print or send via email. Set as your computer wallpaper.

So if you would like a copy so you can have some fun with your digital photos – or you know someone who would – residents of the US and Canada only can leave a comment – click on “comment” (below) – and enter a name and a valid e-mail (so I can send you the license key). To take a look at this program and/or the templates, (aka “get the 4-1-1”), click here.

This is not a contest – it’s a straight-up giveaway. (But act now.) My thank to Pearl Mountain software.

*    *     *     Tis The Season For Scammers     *    *     *

Every year I warn people that in this holiday season the criminals like send poison Ecards. I got my first one today. It uses classic methods: You have an e-Card!

But how can I tell it’s criminal?

For one thing, I am not now, nor have I ever been, For another, when I hover my cursor over the link “click here”, by looking at the URL shown in the lower right of my browser..

I see that it would take me a Russian (dot ru) website. (Cleverly named “e-cards-fast”..)

Um… No, thank you.

So let’s review:

  • Don’t send Tech Paul e-Cards. I never open them.
  • Delete, unopened, any email from strangers.
  • Never click the links in emails.

Come on.. need I say it? Pay attention. (aka “pull your head out”) Be PARANOID on the Internet. Because they are out to get you. Yeah. Right.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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November 22, 2011 Posted by | Digital Images, free software | , , , , , , | 18 Comments

How To Digitize Your Old (Analog) Movies, Music, and Photos

Digitize Your Analog Life

In researching a client’s question about scanning documents using Optical Character Recognition, (that led to yesterday’s “quick reco” article) I came across a series of articles by Jon L. Jacobi, published by PCWorld, which is a comprehensive How To for converting your analog media into high-quality digital files.

Digitize Your Analog Life includes recommendations for the hardware and/or software you (might) need to get the job done. Here are the articles by category:

  • Digitize Your Music »
    In my lifetime, music has been delivered on vinyl, cassettes, eight-track tapes, CDs, and audio DVDs. How do I listen to it now? Usually with a PC or a smartphone, and occasionally with an MP3 or other media player. I downloaded much of that music or ripped it from CDs, but the rest of it came from LPs and cassettes.
  • Digitize Your Movies »
    Analog movies can be the easiest–or the hardest–medium to digitize, depending on the format you’re working with. While older camcorder and video formats such as 8mm and Hi8 or VHS and Betamax tapes are easy to transfer, digitizing film can be difficult at best.
  • Digitize Your Pictures »
    “Film degrades with time and exposure to the elements, albeit far more slowly than you might imagine. Fortunately for posterity’s sake, it’s easy to digitize and even restore some of the original luster of your film, using today’s flatbed and film scanners, plus appropriate software.”
    [related: How To Scan Slides]

  • Digitize Your Documents »
    Scan your documents into your hard drive. We have tips on scanners, OCR software, Web OCR, and converting your books to e-books.”

There are many advantages to digital over analog, and let’s face it, it is getting harder to find working betamax machines, and needles for the phonograph… If you are ready to take on the project of converting your old media into digital format, reading Jon’s tips are a great place to start.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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May 3, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, Digital Images, digital Video, how to, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Copy From (Or Save) A Web Page

Working With Web Pages

Whether you want to share information you have found on the web with others, or keep a copy for reference at a later date, knowing how to “work with webpages” and copy online text and images are handy skills.

The first thing to understand is that “online” material – such as webpages – are stored elsewhere, and “served” to your computer, where they are assembled and “viewed” by your web browser — through the use of HTTP and HTML ‘coding’ (which is not visible to you).

The typical webpage will have many sources for what you “see”: the HTML code, and the page’s text are probably on one “web server”, the logos and other images may come from another “server”, or servers, and the advertisements from yet other servers. These various items can be “dynamic” (changing), so that a farmer in Minnesota won’t see the exact same web page as Florida retiree (at least, not the same ads..).

Short version: a webpage is not a simple file you can Save, Edit, or Delete, like Word document or Excel spreadsheet you have created “locally” on your own machine.

Sharing Web pages with others:
The easiest way to share a web page with others is to simply send them the URL. A “URL” is the “; (found in the “address bar”) and the easiest way to send it is to Copy > Paste.

The easiest way to Copy a URL is to click – once – anywhere on the web page, and then click – once – inside the address bar. That will ‘highlight’ (turn blue.. aka “select”) the whole, entire URL.
* Click on Edit > Copy, or press the Ctrl + C keys, to copy the selection.

* You can now move to Email “compose” window, or Chat “send message” window, and click on Edit > Paste, or press Ctrl + V, which will paste the URL in, and you can…

* Now Send the recipient(s) the exact web page URL you want them to see. (Mind you, web pages are often dynamic, and your recipient might not see exactly what you see..)

Another easy method will fix the “dynamic” webpage, and turn it into a simple file (which you will have stored “locally”, aka “onboard”) which you can then “attach” to an e-mail and send – as you would a Word document or Excel spreadsheet – only it will be a PDF file, and the images will be “embedded” for you.

Fellow tech blogger Rick Robinette wrote a nice article on this method here, Easily Convert Web Pages to a PDF File, so I will let you read that instead of re-inventing the wheel. Trust me, it’s something you’ll want to know about. (And you may find out why his site is one of my daily reads.
[update: Rick posted a review today of a free program you can install for turning web pages into PDF’s. Please see Nitro – A PDF Reader that is a Whole Lot More.]

Extracting selected web page items:
Sometimes all you want from a web page is just a small section of text, or a single picture — perhaps as reference material, or just a really quotable Quotable Quote. Or a recipe.

For pictures and images, all you need to do is right– click on the image, and select Save image as. ¹ This will ‘download’ a copy of the image file to your PC, which you can then “attach” to an e-mail and send. (That wasn’t so hard, was it?) Text is a little trickier.

Q: How do I copy the text on a webpage into my document?

“There are actually a couple of different ways to do this, including the old “print-to-file” method that DOS users remember. The trick is to get just the text and information you want, and not all the advertising and hyperlinks and graphics/logos that most webpages incorporate…”

As the blurb states, there are a few methods, and I am running long. Good thing I wrote out the How To steps a while back and posted them in this article, How To Extract Text From Web Pages*!

So there you have it. Some basics, and two additional How To’s. Have a great weekend, folks.

¹ Addenda: Readers have chimed in with more tips; please see comments below.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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June 4, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, MS Word | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Beginner Customizing – Slideshow Screensavers

Show off your best photos with a screensaver “slideshow”

If you have seen someone’s computer showing a changing display of pretty pictures and thought to yourself, “that’s neat…I wonder how they did that?” then this post is for you. The trick is in using Windows’ built-in slideshow feature, and it is a straight-forward and easy adjustment to make. (And.. it does away with that boring black Microsoft logo screen…)

Tip of the day: To create a custom screensaver slideshow, all you have to do is, basically, turn it on. It will by default show a slideshow of the pictures contained in your “My Pictures” folder (just “Pictures” in Vista), but you can point it to any folder which contains images — and here’s where the customization comes into play.

To get started, let’s assume that all you want to do is display your My Pictures folder. This will allow me to demonstrate the first step: turning on a screensaver slideshow. First, right-click on any blank area of your desktop and select “Properties” (in Vista, “Personalize” >”screensaver”). This will open the Display Properties window.
Next click on the “Screen Saver” tab. Now go down to the drop-down arrow box labeled Screen saver and click on the down arrow to open your list of choices. Select “My Pictures slideshow” (“Photos” in Vista). Now instead of the boring black background with a moving XP logo, the screensaver will be your pictures. In XP, click the Preview button to see what it will look like.

While we’re here, let’s take a look at some of the other settings. Here is where you can set how long a period of idle time elapses before the screensaver kicks in. To redirect the slideshow to a different folder, and to modify your slideshow’s variables (such as how long each picture displays), click the Settings button. You should get a screen like the one pictured below.


As you can see, you can “tweak” your slideshow quite a bit here, and even add transitions between slides. Again, use the previous screen’s Preview button to see how these adjustments will actually play out. If you’re happy, you can quit here and click the “Apply” button. But if you don’t want to display your whole My Pictures folder — but instead, only a subset — or want to use a different folder of pictures, keep reading.

First, open your My Pictures folder (Start >My Documents >My Pictures) and right-click on any blank area. On the menu that opens, select New, and then folder. Give your new folder a name like “slideshow”. Now fill this folder with copies of the pictures you want to display, by right-click + dragging them into the “slideshow” folder, letting go, and selecting “Copy here”. Repeat this until you have your selections all copied into the “slideshow” folder. (Called “drag and drop”)

Now that you have your slideshow folder all set up, return to the My Screen Saver Properties window (the one pictured above) and click the “…Browse” button. Double-click on the “slideshow” folder (you may have to navigate to it: do so by clicking My Documents >My Pictures >slideshow), and you’re done. Again, you can use the Preview button to see how it will look.

To make your PC more immune to casual browsing while you’re away from your desk, go back to Display Properties’ (right-click any blank area on your Desktop and select Properties) Screen Saver tab and put a check in the checkbox labeled “On resume, display Welcome screen.” If you’ve followed my advice from earlier posts, this will require your user password to log in.

Today’s free link: I don’t have my screensaver displaying my own photo’s, I have it set to display a series of “Demotivators” (free for personal use) — an amusing and ironic play on the “motivational” posters that Executive-types love to hang in work areas. If you haven’t seen the Demotivators (and their often spectacular photography) yet, do yourself a favor and click here. And be sure to browse the different categories.

*Original posting:6/26/07

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 20, 2009 Posted by | computers, Digital Images, how to, PC, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Stream All Your Media – Free!

Turn Your PC Into An Internet Media Server

I came across an program that you can download and install on your PC which allows you to “serve” (aka “stream”) your stored media (recorded shows and movies, music, jpegs, etc.) over the Internet. Thus, when you are out-and-about (“mobile”) you can ‘log in’ to your “server” (your PC) and access your stuff; and/or you can share it with others.

It is called Orb, and it is feature packed and very simple to use.

“Orb MyCasting is a free service from Orb Networks that makes it easy for consumers to remotely view and share their live and recorded home and Internet TV, music, videos, photos, podcasts, and other digital media stored on their PC, from any Internet-connected device, be it a mobile phone, PDA or laptop.  MyCasting is the opposite of broadcasting, allowing you to stream your digital media when (time), where (place), and how (device) you want it.

Orb Networks is the first company to offer a single solution for enjoying virtually all of your digital media remotely, using the devices you already own.  There is no need to choose which technology path to go down to access your media remotely; other options are cumbersome and require an additional investment in yet another “cool” technology.  Orb is free and begins with one easy download: there is no hardware or software required, and no additional time needed to catalog and categorize your digital media.  You get instant access to the digital media that’s already on your PC.  Just download Orb and start MyCasting.”

I can see lots of uses for this technology whether or not you are a “road warrior” and often away from your PC. And it’s free. The folks there at Orb Networks get a big tip of my geek hat, and I encourage you to click here and visit their website. There is a short animation which demonstrates how it works, and screenshots of the many features.
(Also, you can view their Orb FAQ.)

All you need is a XP or Vista computer (to be the “server”) and a broadband Internet connection.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 22, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, mobile, PC, Portable Computing, Simple File Sharing, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Digital Cameras and Fireworks

4th Of JulyThis week nothing is getting done by anyone except clock watching as we prepare for the greatest of all weekends — the 4th of July Holiday. Sure, we’re at work… physically.

So… I did what a lot of people are doing and just surfed the web a bit today.

Looking quite busy, I dropped by a site I have mentioned here before,, and took note of an article of his, Going On Vacation? Take Your Camera And These Tips!
I thought, well, I think a few Tech–for Everyone readers might be taking a little trip this weekend, and might like to read this collection of tips.

He also recommended a site that teaches digital photography online that I was previously unfamiliar with named Digital Photography School, and they had an article that a lot of people would be interested in: How to Photograph Fireworks Displays.

I mean, who hasn’t tried to take pictures of the fireworks and been disappointed with the result?

So, a big thanks to Timmy John Boy, and the good folks at the Digital Photography School, not only for helping me find this great advice, but for helping me look productive for a while.

Today’s free link: Don’t Sign-in on the Internet Without KeyScrambler.

Today’s free download: Monitor the Weather from your Windows Desktop

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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July 1, 2009 Posted by | advice, Digital camera, Digital Images, how to, Internet | , , , , , , | Leave a comment