BEST SLIDESHOW MAKER

Slideshows are one of those things that can drive us nuts.We’re always forgetting how we did it last time.

When we look up instructions, we often get something that is no longer available in Windows. For example, when you look up “Movie Maker for Windows 10,” you get a lot of free products from unknown companies because the original Windows movie maker went kaput. Here are our top contenders for best slideshow maker. We judge mainly on ease of use.

  • “Microsoft Photos” comes already installed on your Windows 10 computer. To find it, type “Photos” in the search box in the lower left of your Windows desktop and the app comes right up. If you just want Microsoft to make one for you, click “New Video” then “Automatic Video.” Choose your photos and Microsoft will add jazzy music, transitions and a title page. If some pictures are sideways or need a caption or other editing, click “Edit Video” before exporting to your Pictures folder. The quick cutting by Microsoft really makes it jive. Bob thought it was too fast but you can slow it down.
  • The Ken Burns effect: zooming into a photo.

    On a Mac, open Photos and add photos from the photo gallery. Export your finished slideshow to a USB stick so you can show it on a TV or publish it to YouTube and other sites.

  • Ashampoo has a free program called “Slideshow Studio 2019.” It uses the dramatic transitions of highly-regarded documentary maker Ken Burns. This means slow zooms and other effects.  When you open it up, you’ll notice  the message “Please add pictures.” Click the plus sign next to that to start adding. Then click “new simple project” unless you want more customization. Next choose “adapt to music” if you want a background tune, and click the plus sign to add your own. Finally, choose what kind of “Ken Burns” transitions you want. We left it at “random.” Ken Burns is known for documentaries on the Civil War, Vietnam, the Roosevelts and baseball, among others.

Better Backup

The head of a computer club challenged our suggestion to use the internet to back up photos and files. “The online cloud storage services may not offer enough free space for backup, and the non-free options can add up,” he said.

The other problem is how long it takes to upload all your files. So we were intrigued by his suggestion. He and his club like  “Macrium Reflect Free.” Can’t beat “free.”

After we downloaded it from macrium.com/reflectfree, we had to get our files off our external drive so we’d have room for the backup. We found that the easiest way to move files is to open File Explorer twice. You can then drag and drop anything from one to the other. Open File Explorer twice by typing “File Explorer” into the Windows search box at the bottom left of the screen. When it comes up,  right-click the tiny picture of a folder in the bottom of the screen and choose File Explorer again. This is an old trick from earlier versions of Windows.

The problem with our previous attempts to backup the whole computer, instead of just the files and folders, came when we tried to restore files. Everything always looks great in the backup but the restore runs into problems.For example, we have backups on an old external drive that have the “wim” extension. We looked that up and it’s associated with Windows Vista. We had no idea how to restore those.  When we looked it up, we came to a page on Microsoft’s site directed to “IT Professionals.” Fugged about it.

Getting a Bargain

A reader asks us: “Is there a service which will bargain for a customer to lower a utility bill, my internet bill to be exact? I’m paying $60 a month to Spectrum-Charter.”

We searched the web on “best cable Internet providers, find what you really want” and got a good result from reviews.org. Xfinity starts at $20 a month. Not every town is covered.

We also looked at an article from AARP.com entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Saving Money,” which lists 99 ways.  Number 30 was BillFixers.com. They claim to save $300 on average per year. Another is BillShark.com. Both make money by taking a slice of your savings.

Reader Thanks

A reader says he added the search engine Yippy.com as a favorite on our recommendation.

“Recently I have had some bad back problems.  Last weekend, I was using Google to steer me towards competent specialists and to understand my symptoms and their causes.  I had already seen my family practice doc and my physical therapist but still was getting no relief.  I really worked hard with specific questions but Google now pushes ads on the first page based on their key words, which almost never matched the specificity of my questions.  And as always, I was bombarded with numerous ads on websites targeted at the search questions.  In addition, in the next few days, I started receiving spam emails on the same subjects.  I do not know if the spams are related to the searches.

“After reading your article today, StartPage is my new search page.  Moreover, I used Yippy to see how well it worked for my medical problems.  Surprise! Every site that previously took me a weekend to find showed up on the first page of my Yippy search.”

 

 

 

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