Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Making Movies Made Easy: Windows Live MovieMaker

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Vol. 3, # 86 - Aug 27, 2009 - Issue # 95 
 Making Movies Made Easy: Windows Live MovieMaker

  1. Editor's Corner
    • Making Movies Made Easy: Windows Live MovieMaker
    • Follow-up: Aero gets in your (inter)face
    • Quotes of the Week
  2. Cool Tools
  3. News, Hints, Tips and Tricks
    • XP vs. Vista vs. Windows 7: Which is faster?
    • Will Windows 7 use up your battery faster?
    • Have the tables turned on Apple?
  4. How to: Using the New Vista and Windows 7 Features
    • How to get back your missing taskbar
  5. Vista Security
    • Cybercriminals are targeting small businesses
  6. Vista Question Corner
    • Can't get BitLocker to Go to work on XP
  7. Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting
    • You run an .exe file in Vista and it starts a different program
    • Index of Office 2007 offline file is removed from the Windows Search index
  8. Fav Links
    • This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff
  9. Product of the Week
    • ZipBackup: Protect your Computer's Files with ZipBackup Windows Backup Software!

Kiss Your Antivirus Bloatware Goodbye

We asked users of antivirus products what they didn't like about their AV software. They told us they are resource hogs and slowed their computer down. They told us that scan times took way too long, and that the AV software nagged them. In short, old-style AV software takes too much Memory and CPU. Time to switch to VIPRE! It gives you malware protection that combines antivirus, antispyware, anti-rootkit and other technologies into a seamless, tightly-integrated product. Even if you run "free" antivirus software, it hijacks 20% of your PC, so it's really not free at all! Get VIPRE now and see how fast your PC can really be:

Editor's Corner

Making Movies Made Easy: Windows Live MovieMaker

Last week, Microsoft's video editing program, Windows Live MovieMaker, came out of beta and is available to the general public to download and use. You might be familiar with the previous version, Windows Movie Maker, but this one has a whole new look and some great new features. It's received some excellent reviews and is being compared favorably to Apple's iMovie:

Best of all, it's free. You can install it on Vista or Windows 7, but unfortunately for Windows XP users, it doesn't run on the older operating system. If you'd like to give it a try, you can download it from the Windows Live web site at

You'll first need to install the Windows Live Installer (if you don't already have it; if you do, just run it; it's called wlsetup-all.exe. It's only 134 MB, so it shouldn't take long to download on a broadband connection. Note that this is the installer for all of the Windows Live programs. You'll need to accept the service agreement, then you'll see a dialog box that shows you which (if any) Windows Live programs you already have installed. If you have the older version of MovieMaker, you should see a message telling you that it will be updated. Uncheck the boxes for any programs that you don't want installed. If you select to have the installer close open programs for you (such as IE and Outlook), it will reopen them after the installation completes.

You'll find the MovieMaker icon in the Windows Live folder in your program files (or, of course, you can just type MovieMaker in the Start/Search box). When you open it up, you'll see a clean interface with a black box in the left pane. You'll also notice that it uses a Ribbon interface somewhat like those in the latest Office programs. You can drag videos or photos into the right (storyboard) pane or click in the pane to browse your folders to find the content you want to add. If you drag a video here, you'll see a frame-by-frame representation.

You can also make a movie/slideshow out of still photos or you can mix photos and video clips. Once you have them lined up the way you want them in the right pane, you can start really having fun. You can add a title page, captions and credits, rotate photos 90 degrees left or right, and add music or other audio to play over the video/slideshow. You can start the music at the beginning, or at the current point you've selected within the storyboard. You can also have the video automatically set to fit to the music.

There are a large number of transitions that you can insert between photos/clips, including fades, shapes, flips, wipes, rolls and so forth. Another cool feature is the "pan and zoom" effect, which is very configurable and makes it look as if the camera is moving from side to side, top to bottom, diagonally, and so forth. You can click the Visual Effects tab and convert to black and white, sepia, pixelate the photo, cycle through the color spectrum, and more.

With the Video Tools, you can split or trim video, set fades, choose a background color or control the video volume. With the Music Tools, you can fade the audio in and out and edit the audio track. With the Text Tools, you can set effects (such as how the text enters), edit the text, change the font and set text transparency. Of course, it's still a consumer-oriented program, and if you want to create professional video, you'll want a more sophisticated program. For example, the Windows Live MovieMaker storyboard doesn't even include a timeline.

Lots of file types are supported for importing video, including .AVI (which some cameras use to record), .MOV (used by other cameras and the iPhone), .WTV (the format in which Windows 7's Windows Media Center application records TV programs), MPEG4, MT2, AVCHD and more. Unfortunately, it only saves in one format: .WMV. You can save in 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio and in a choice of resolutions.

Perhaps the most high profile new feature is AutoMovie. You choose your video clips and/or photos and click the AutoMovie button, and it will automatically add title page, credits, transitions, and music (you have to select a song). What's missing? The most noticeable thing was the ability to make voiceovers with a microphone connected to your computer. When you've finished making your movie, Windows Live MovieMaker makes it easy for you to publish your masterpiece to YouTube or burn it to DVD.

For a free program, it works well. And for most home users and even some small business use, it has all the features you're likely to need. So if you've always secretly aspired to be a film maker, check it out. I still remember back when adding text and transitions to homemade videos was a tedious, labor-intensive job using reasonably priced consumer tools, and the infamous Video Toaster was way beyond my means, price-wise, so I find the ease of use of this free tool pretty amazing.

How about you? Do you like to dress up your home videos and make them look like they were done by a pro? Do you use a commercial video editing program or freeware? What do you like or not like about the software you've used? What features would be on your wish list for a video editing program? We invite you to discuss this topic in our forums at

Follow-up: Aero gets in your (inter)face

Last week, we took a look at Aero, the interface that gives Vista and Windows 7 the "cool factor," and talked about how it works and what effects it has on Windows performance.

Discussion on the forum indicates that most of our readers like Aero, and more than one said that their computers seem to perform better with Aero turned on, although others said they saw a slight performance gain with Aero turned off. As for the new Aero features such as Snap, Shake and Peek, opinions were more mixed. Some readers don't see a lot of use for them.

Some readers mentioned the new larger icons in Windows 7. This was a positive for some; for others, not so much. A couple of people noted that it makes it easier on aging eyes. Of course, the real reason for the big icons is to make the OS more touch-friendly. We have one system with a touch screen (the HP TouchSmart "kitchen computer") that we've upgraded to Windows 7 and really appreciate the change when using it.

At least one forum participant prefers Linux with Compiz to Aero, while another found me "narrow minded" for asking if folks think Aero is too Mac-like. That wasn't meant to be a denigration of the Mac interface - I've longed for Microsoft to copy the "genie effect" for years - but a follow-up to my previous statement that some people have complained to me about Windows 7 looking too much like a Mac.

It was interesting to see how many people said they've recently gotten Vista computers and find them to be faster than XP. Those folks should be even more pleased with Windows 7. Thank you to all who commented on this topic!

'Til next week,
Deb Shinder, Editor

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PS: Did you know this newsletter has a sister publication for XP users called WXPnews? You can subscribe here, and tell your friends:

And for IT pros, there's our "big sister," WServer News, at

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Quotes of the Week

Where all think alike, no one thinks very much. - Walter Lippmann (1889 - 1974)

To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle. - George Orwell (1903 - 1950)

A committee can make a decision that is dumber than any of its members. - David Coblitz

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Cool Tools


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WhiteSmoke 2009 is an innovative proofreading and editing tool with a single aim - to help you write better.

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Search for a driver and you get a ton of Driver Software offers instead. But how do you know which one is good? Try Driver Genious 9.0. Free scan.

Advanced Vista Optimizer does a great job tweaking Vista for Max performance.

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Your Uninstaller! 2008 takes the place of the clunky Windows Control Panel "Add/Remove Programs" and offers many other useful functions

Kill the background tasks belonging to (legitimate) software that run all day. Why? To get your speed back!

News, Hints, Tips and Tricks

XP vs. Vista vs. Windows 7: Which is faster?

Now that the Windows 7 final code is available, it's possible to get an accurate answer to that question. Andy Smith performed benchmark testing on all three operating systems, running each on three different platforms: a low end MSI Wind, an Acer mobile system and a high end custom-made Nehalem-based computer. Will the results surprise you? Read this comprehensive analysis and find out:

Will Windows 7 use up your battery faster?

Most reviews of Windows 7 have been positive. Beta testers and those who have installed the release candidate and/or RTM have experienced good performance and like most of the new features. The OS runs better on low-end hardware than its predecessor, Vista. However, reports have been emerging about one negative aspect of upgrading to Windows 7, especially when moving from XP: battery life. Several bloggers have tested laptops and netbooks and found that Windows 7 can get as much as 30% less battery life than XP. You can read about it here:

Have the tables turned on Apple?

Remember when Vista was released, how the tech press was abuzz with accusations that it was just a rip-off of the Mac interface? Now some pundits are asking the opposite question: is the newest OS X, "Snow Leopard," just a Windows 7 knockoff? It does look that way when you read Apple's list of "new" features: 64 bit support, Exchange server support, PDF preview, thumbnail previews in the dock - all of these are things that we've had in Windows for years. Read more here:

How to: Using the New Vista and Windows 7 Features

How to get back your missing taskbar

Some readers have reported that after installing a program or changing a configuration, they find that the taskbar has disappeared. What's up with that? Well, it usually means there's a problem explorer.exe. The following procedure will usually bring it back:
  1. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL to open Task Manager.
  2. Click the Processes tab and see if the explorer.exe process is running. Sometimes you'll see multiple instances of it.
  3. Highlight and click Kill Process to close each one.
  4. Click the Applications tab and click the New Task button.
  5. Type explorer.exe in the box to restart the process.

Vista Security

Cybercriminals are targeting small businesses

As if small businesses didn't have enough to worry about these days, now organized Eastern European cyber-gangs are targeting small to mid-size companies in the U.S., stealing online banking credentials and in some cases stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars through funds transfers. If you own or work for a small business, or know someone who does, be sure to read this:

Vista Question Corner

Can't get BitLocker to Go to work on XP

I have Windows 7 RC on one computer and XP Pro on the other. I know that I can only encrypt a USB key with BitLocker on Windows 7 but I read that I should be able to read it on XP. However, when I try I just get an error message that the drive is not formatted. Is there something special that I have to do? Thanks. - Peter J.

It's true that BLTG encrypted drives can be read on XP and Vista machines, but there are a couple of "gotchas." If you're a savvy and security conscious Windows user, you probably formatted your USB drive in NTFS - but in order to read it in XP or Vista, it needs to be formatted in FAT.

Also, in order to read the drive on XP or Vista, you need to install the BitLocker to Go Reader (bitlockertogo.exe). If AutoPlay is enabled, when you plug a BLTG encrypted drive into a USB port, it will give you the option to install or run bitlockertogo.exe. If you click the option, you'll get a prompt to unlock the drive. Of course, you'll need to enter the passphrase that was entered when you encrypted the drive. If AutoPlay doesn't open, you need to open Windows Explorer or My Computer and find the USB drive, right click it and then click BitLocker To Go Reader or open the drive contents and double click the bitlockertogo.exe file.

A final "gotcha" is that there are three unlock options from which you choose when you encrypt a drive with BitLocker to Go: password, smart card or automatic unlock. The BitLocker to Go Reader only works if the drive has been encrypted with a password. Also note that you will have read only access to the BLTG drive in XP or Vista.

Vista Configuration and Troubleshooting

You run an .exe file in Vista and it starts a different program

Occasionally, you might try to run an executable (program) file on your Vista computer and find that it starts a different program from the one you expected. Microsoft has an automatic "Fix it" wizard that you can run to repair the problem, or you can edit the registry manually to fix it. For a link to the tool and instructions for the manual registry edit, see KB article 950505 at

Index of Office 2007 offline file is removed from the Windows Search index

If you're working offline using Office 2007 on a Vista computer and you save the file while you're offline, the index of the file may be removed from the Windows Search index; that's because the FANCI bit of the file gets lost. Fancy that! The good news is that there's a hotfix to resolve the problem, which you can get by following the instructions in KB article 952584 at

Fav Links

This Week's Links We Like. Tips, Hints And Fun Stuff

Disclaimer: VistaNews does not assume and cannot be responsible for any liability related to you clicking any of these linked Web sites.

Product of the Week

ZipBackup: Protect your Computer's Files with ZipBackup Windows Backup Software!

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