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PC Magazine Windows XP Digital Media Solutions

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TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

PC Magazine Windows XP Digital Media Solutions

Paul Thurrott

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PC Magazine Windows XP Digital Media Solutions Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc. 10475 Crosspoint Boulevard Indianapolis, IN 46256 www.wiley.com Copyright 2005 by Wiley Publishing Published simultaneously in Canada ISBN: 0-7645-7953-3 Manufactured in the United States of America 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 1B/QT/QT/QV/IN No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise, except as permitted under Sections 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written permission of the Publisher, or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvers, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) 646-8600. Requests to the Publisher for permission should be addressed to the Legal Department, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 10475 Crosspoint Blvd., Indianapolis, IN 46256, (317) 572-3447, fax (317) 572-4355, e-mail: brandreview@wiley.com. Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: The publisher and the author make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this work and specifically disclaim all warranties, including without limitation warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales or promotional materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for every situation. This work is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional services. If professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for damages arising herefrom. The fact that an organization or Website is referred to in this work as a citation and/or a potential source of further information does not mean that the author or the publisher endorses the information the organization or Website may provide or recommendations it may make. Further, readers should be aware that Internet Websites listed in this work may have changed or disappeared between when this work was written and when it is read. For general information on our other products and services or to obtain technical support, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at (800) 762-2974, outside the U.S. at (317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002. Wiley also publishes its books in a variety of electronic formats. Some content that appears in print may not be available in electronic books. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Thurrott, Paul B. PC magazine Windows XP digital media solutions / Paul Thurrott. p. cm. Includes index. ISBN 0-7645-7953-3 (paper/website) 1. Multimedia systems. 2. Digital video. 3. Microsoft Windows (Computer file) I. Title: Windows XP digital media solutions. II. PC magazine. III. Title QA76.575.T4924 2005 006.7dc22 2004030556 Trademarks: Wiley, the Wiley Publishing logo and related trade dress are trademarks or registered trademarks of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and/or its affiliates, in the United States and other countries, and may not be used without written permission. PC Magazine and the PC Magazine logo are registered trademarks of Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings, Inc. Used under license. All rights reserved. Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Wiley Publishing, Inc., is not associated with any product or vendor mentioned in this book.

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Credits
ACQUISITIONS EDITOR Katie Mohr DEVELOPMENT EDITOR Tom Dinse TECHNICAL EDITORS Todd Meister Ed Rich COPY EDITOR Michael Koch EDITORIAL MANAGER Mary Beth Wakefield VICE PRESIDENT & EXECUTIVE GROUP PUBLISHER Richard Swadley VICE PRESIDENT AND PUBLISHER Joseph B. Wikert GRAPHICS AND PRODUCTION SPECIALISTS Carrie A. Foster Lauren Goddard Denny Hager Heather Ryan Amanda Spagnuolo QUALITY CONTROL TECHNICIANS Leeann Harney Jessica Kramer Joe Niesen Carl William Pierce PROOFREADING AND INDEXING TECHBOOKS Production Services

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This book is dedicated to my son, Mark. I love you, Mark, though you are Poopie no longer!

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Preface
PC Magazine Windows XP Digital Media Solutions is your end-to-end solution for discovering the digital-media experiences in Windows XP exclusively available in a portable, wood-based format we call a book. It is possible that, within our lifetimes, this venerable artifact may go the way of DOS, the Soviet Union, and rotary telephones but in the meantime, here it is and I hope you enjoy it.

Welcome Back to the Future


Way back in the summer of 2000, our friends Dave and Debbie had a christening for their son Ritchie and I dutifully drove out to the church with my wife, Stephanie, and our son Mark, then two years old. Mark was nice enough to fall asleep in the car, so I parked it under a tree, and my wife went inside to make a showing at the christening. I stayed outside with Mark, wished I had thought to bring a laptop, and proceeded to do what anyone would, barring any other distraction. No, I didnt take a nap. I thought about how things were going, where I was at, where things were headed. I wont bore you with the details of most of it, but I had been going over a variety of book deals at the time, and decided to take stock of the situation. At the time, I was contracted to write a couple of really boring books about technical topics like COM+ and Active Server Pages, but there was something about these titles that just didnt seem right. Sitting there under the shade of a big tree, watching my son sleep, it finally dawned on me what was wrong. I didnt want to write these books. They were technical, they were boring, and no one was going to read them. Most problematic, I wouldnt have fun writing them at all. So I decided then and there that when I got home, Id call up the publishing companies and explain to them why both projects should be canceled. And I did just that: Thankfully, I never needed to write either one of them. In the meantime, I wanted to write something fun. Something that people real people could get excited about. Not just geeks, programmers, or IT professionals. Real people: My dad, or that young couple across the street with a new baby; people who didnt use a computer for the sake of using a computer, but did so when it could help them get something done preferably something fun. It had to be digital media. Right then, with Mark snoring away beside me, I plotted my familys transition to digital media and decided that I would write about it. We would ditch the SLR camera and slow scanner and get a digital camera. I would record my hundreds of audio CDs onto the hard

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drive in MP3 format and lock those CDs away in the cellar (like valuable backups). And we would get a digital camcorder and archive our home movies on the computer, with the eventual goal of sharing them via DVD. It was all coming together, right there, under the tree. I thought about who to contact about doing a digital-media book. You have to sort of imagine what it was like at the time: Microsoft was getting ready to release Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me), the first version of Windows that would include integrated digital-media solutions. It was fairly obvious at the time, however, that Windows Me wasnt going to be a gangbuster release, and I didnt expect anyone to be too interested in a Windows Me book. In the end, I decided it would have to be Windows-based, but not Windows-Me-specific. The christening finally ended and, almost simultaneously, Mark woke up. But by then, my mind was set: I would write this book. I would write something fun. I would have fun doing it, and people would have fun reading it, because it would open them up to possibilities that they had perhaps never considered. On the way back to Daves house, I excitedly explained my grand plan to Stephanie, and she nodded along politely as you might expect. (Shes cute like that.) Then she asked how much this was all going to cost. A week later, the two companies that suddenly found themselves sans books from me were not particularly excited about taking me on for something completely different. I dont blame them, but I think they missed the boat on a popular trend. In the meantime, things were heating up with my day job at Windows 2000 Magazine (since renamed to Windows IT Pro Magazine), and I ended up spending the rest of the year being pretty busy traveling and writing. But I bought a digital camera as promised and took it halfway around the world, literally, to Israel, on a business trip I will never forget. It took months to record all my CDs onto the computer, and by the time I was done, I had literally destroyed one drive in the process. And we finally got a nice digital camcorder, which Mark insists be used so he can see himself in the side-mounted LCD display. Months later, at LinuxWorld 2001 in New York (of all places), I ran into Debra Williams Cauley, who had been bugging me for months to write some kind of a book. We sat down and I finally told her about my ideas for a digital media title and how I thought the then-beta Whistler project (which became Windows XP) would be a perfect subject, because of its integrated (and surprisingly powerful) digital-media experiences. Write up a TOC [table of contents], she said. Lets make this happen. And happen it did. My first book in two years. A couple of stories about the writing process for this book: Because of my busy travel schedule, much of this book was written on airplanes, trains, and in hotel rooms all over the United States. This required me to cart around a bizarre variety of hardware, including portable music devices, USB video splitters, FireWire-equipped camcorders, and a Pocket PC, among other things. I can only imagine what hotel house cleaning thought of me. My favorite form of travel is train and fortunately I get to go this route fairly often: On Amtrak between Boston and New York you can often get a table and really spread out, and I travel this route about once a month. On one trip to New York for the Office XP launch in late May 2001, I believe I was sitting at a table on the train across from a woman who was painting watercolors and eating a granola/yogurt mixture that actually looked pretty good. I unpacked a monstrous Dell laptop with integrated FireWire, a Canon digital camcorder, various USB and FireWire cables, and proceeded to record, edit, and produce a digital video. The woman across from me was extremely

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curious about what I was doing and kept looking up to catch a glimpse of the setup. Finally, she couldnt stand it anymore. Sorry, but do you mind if I ask you what youre doing? she asked. And I replied, Im capturing video from the camera, editing it on the computer, adding titles and background music, and then Im going to save it back to the computer. When I can afford one, Im going to buy a DVD recorder so I can record versions of this for my parents and other relatives. Or something like that. She took this in for a few seconds, clearly amazed, and not fully comprehending what it was that I had said. And then she said something that will probably stick with me forever. You must have a wonderful life. She was met by a blank stare. How do you answer that? Im not sure that I ever did, to be honest, but I do remember fumbling over an appropriate response. I sort of took this stuff for granted, in a way. But I think this underscores how liberating and exciting this technology can be. How fun it is. And, frankly, how much of it can be had fairly cheaply. We live in a time of great riches when it comes to technology. Its time we had some fun with it. And I want you to have a wonderful life, too. Think of this book as the tour guide.

But Wait, Theres More


In the years that have elapsed since the first edition of this book was published, Windows XP has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis. Consider the sheer amount of new digital media related product that has come out of Redmond in that time period: Three full versions of Windows XP Media Center Edition (a product that didnt even exist when I wrote the first edition), two major new versions of Windows Media Player, a major upgrade to Windows Movie Maker, Three versions of Photo Story (another product that didnt exist at all in 2001),and so on. From a digital media perspective, Windows XP is a brand new ballgame now, in late 2004. The best has gotten even better. XP has legs, too. Its successor, currently code-named Longhorn, wont ship until mid-2006 at least. That means that Windows XP will be the longest-running version of Windows that Microsoft has ever made. These two factors the amazing number of new digital media capabilities that have become available over the past few years and the fact that XP will be around for quite a while made a second edition of this book a no-brainer. That said, Im glad its over. Usually, revising an existing title is a fairly simple exercise. But since so much has changed, at least two-thirds of the content in the book, and probably more, is completely new material. I dont think I completely appreciated how hard it was going to be to handle this revision until I actually started working on it. One thing that hasnt changed, however, is my passion for this kind of technology. Digital media can be life changing. The first time you see your favorite photographic memories effortlessly animate across your large screen TV, accompanied by your favorite music, you will realize this. Or maybe it will be when you watch movies of your children from a Web site on the Internet. Or when you can share these memories with your childrens computer-illiterate grandparents via DVD or Portable Media Center. The smiles, the satisfaction, the immense pleasure? Yes, that all comes naturally. Its the gift. Thats why digital media is so much more exciting than Excel spreadsheets, batch files, or Visual Basic code. You dont have to be the Geek of the Week to enjoy it. Truly, this is technology for the people.

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Preface

A Note About Windows XP


Windows XP is the latest Microsoft operating system for individuals that is, its designed for real people, not for servers or embedded systems. It is the companys most impressive Windows version ever. Under the hood, Windows XP is based on the Windows NT kernel, dubbed the Windows Engine. The Windows Engine ensures that Windows XP is the most dependable, intelligent, and well-connected operating system you can use today. The Windows architecture is built so that the user interface can be easily overhauled. The Windows XP user interface features two default visual styles: Windows XP and Windows Classic, and the most recent version of XP, called Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, includes a third visual style called Energy Blue. The default Windows XP style provides users with a gorgeous look and feel thats best seen on modern high-resolution displays. Windows Classic looks a lot like older versions of Windows, including Windows 2000 or 98. The Windows XP visual style offers subtly curving window borders, rich colors, and a threedimensional shading effect that really sets it apart from previous versions of Windows. More important, its task-based Explorer windows help users (whether new or experienced) get at functionality more easily, without having to hunt and peck through multiple folders, looking for the right place. Navigating through files and folders, its obvious that a lot of work has been done to give you an immediate and clear understanding of what youre looking at. Image files are displayed as thumbnails; you can see, at a glance, what each file contains. Special shell folders such as My Pictures and My Music supply special views that bubble up the appropriate functionality: The My Pictures folder, for example, offers up choices to view a slideshow or print photos from the Internet. For users with LCD displays common on laptops, of course, but becoming more common on desktop machines as well a new technology called ClearType offers to effectively triple the horizontal resolution of the screen, making text much more readable.

New User Experiences


In Windows XP, Microsoft has integrated a number of user experiences, which let you easily take advantage of your PC in ways that used to require tons of third-party applications. Some of the more critical experiences include the following:

MUSIC
Windows XP makes it easy to copy music CDs to your computer, create personalized music libraries, and copy music to portable audio devices. You can even make your own audio mix CDs.

PICTURES
Users with scanners can easily copy their traditional photographs onto the computer, and digital camera users can download images quickly and easily. In either case, you can edit, view, and share those photographs with other users via the Internet.

VIDEO
You can record family events on an analog or digital camcorder, copy them to the computer with low-cost hardware, and edit those movies into short films you can share with others (whether over the Internet or by using a Pocket PC device). TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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GAMES
Windows XP utilizes the latest version of Microsofts DirectX multimedia libraries and is compatible with the most popular Windows-based games on the planet. You can play games online and easily add gaming hardware to your system without having to go through complex setup procedures.

MOBILE USE
Windows XP lets mobile users work anywhere and link back to the office and network-based files upon return. Windows XP supports the latest power-management technologies, ensuring that your laptop stays up and running as long as possible.

MEDIA CENTER
A special version of Windows XP, dubbed Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, also includes a 10 foot user interface, accessible via remote control, that provides handy access to the music, pictures, and video content on your PC as well as digital video recorder (DVR) features that let you record and pause live TV.

Comparing Various Windows XP Versions


Dont be surprised if the many different versions of Windows XP generate some confusion among users. These versions include: Windows XP Home Edition The mainstream version of XP for consumers. Windows XP Professional Edition The mainstream version of XP for business users. Windows XP Media Center Edition The premium version of XP aimed at consumers and power users. Windows XP Tablet PC Edition A version of XP especially designed for Tablet PCs, a new generation of notebook computer that accepts handwriting-based input via a stylus. Windows XP Professional x64 Edition A version of XP Professional that runs on new 64-bit hardware from AMD and Intel. This version of XP (or a successor to XP) is expected to become the mainstream Windows version by 2006 or 2007. Windows XP Professional 64-Bit Edition A special version of XP Professional designed to run on Itanium hardware. This version is very rare and does not include all of the features from the 32-bit versions of XP. Windows XP Embedded Edition A special modular version of XP that is designed to be installed in embedded, portable, and non-PC hardware devices like ATM machines, routers, and the like. The mainstream XP versions, Home Edition (Home), Professional Edition (Pro), and Media Center, are all slightly different. In short, Pro is a superset of Home; that means it has everything thats in Home, plus some other unique features. Media Center is also a superset of Home, but it includes some features from Pro, and of course comes with the unique Media Center interface.

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Features for Home Users


Windows XP Home Edition offers the following features: Improved software (application) and hardware compatibility when compared to Windows 2000 Professional. Simplified security model. Simplified logon featuring a welcome screen. Fast user-switching so multiple users can be logged on to the system simultaneously. A user interface (visual style), featuring context-sensitive Web views. Enhanced support for digital media (including movies, pictures, and music). DirectX multimedia libraries for gaming and multimedia.

Requirements and Recommendations of Windows XP


Now Id like to discuss a few realistic expectations. Digital media integration is going to require a little work on your part (fortunately, Microsoft has made those tasks pretty easy in XP). The process, however, is also going to require a little cash outlay. If you want to copy audio CD music to your PC, for example, youre going to need a CD-ROM drive, which are fairly common, but youre also going to need a lot of hard drive space as digital audio can take up a lot of space. If you want to copy music to a Walkman-like digital audio device, then youre going to have to spend a couple of hundred bucks on one of these devices, or several hundred dollars on a Pocket PC device. Likewise, movie and video integration can be expensive. DVD drives are fairly common these days, but if you want to copy video onto your system, you need a camcorder or other video device, plus a way to get that recorded imagery into your system. Hardware interfaces start at only $50, but can quickly jump into the hundreds of dollars, depending on the system. Okay, you knew all this. And of course, you dont have to bite this all off at once. Chances are you have some audio CDs lying around, so you can begin there. And though a digital camera may be in the distant future, scanners are cheap, and you can use one to get your traditional photographs into the system. How you progress is up to you. Given this information, Ive compiled a list of the hardware youre likely to want if youre after what I call the full meal deal all that Windows XP has to offer for digital media integration. This list includes notes about why you might want each device; you can pick and choose as you go. (And of course, I make specific recommendations throughout the book.)

WHAT YOU NEED


Just to run Windows XP, Microsoft says youll need the following hardware: CPU 233 MHz minimum, 300+ MHz recommended RAM 64 MB minimum, 128+ MB recommended Hard drive space 1.5 GB minimum TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Okay, that doesnt look too bad. Until you realize that its completely unrealistic (that is, too small and too slow), especially if you want to take advantage of digital media. My recommendations for readers of this book are as follows: CPU 2 GHz or higher RAM 512 MB or more Hard drive space 160 GB or more Dont be discouraged by this list. RAM and hard drives are extremely cheap these days, and theres little reason to not take advantage of this fact. Windows XP will take advantage of whatever hardware you can throw at it. I recommend letting it do so.

WHAT YOU WANT (IF YOU DONT HAVE IT ALREADY)


Okay, weve dispensed with the bare minimums. To best take advantage of Windows XP, and this book, youll want at least a few of the following. CD-type drive One multi-format recordable DVD drive. This drive will let you record CDs and DVDs, and play back DVD movies. Video card Direct3D-compatible, hardware accelerated, with at least 128 MB of RAM. Display monitor A 15-inch (or larger) LCD monitor capable of at least 1024 x 768 resolution with 24- or 32-bit color. Media files such as photos and videos demand the best you can give. Im currently running a 1920 x 1200 LCD and could never go back to a standard screen. Sound card Any will do, but something that supports four or more speakers and/or digital sound is preferable. Speakers Two speakers with a subwoofer should be considered a bare minimum for any digital music buff. Portable audio device An Apple iPod, Portable Media Center, Rio Carbon, related device will let you take your digital music on the road. Look for one that supports both Windows Media Audio (WMA) and MP3 for the most flexibility. Pocket PC device Really a miniature PC with a touchscreen, the Pocket PCs can fill a surprising number of roles for digital media buffs. You can display photographs, show home videos, and listen to digital audio, all in a device that can be used for word processing and personal information management to boot. HP has a line of digital media-oriented Pocket PCs, but I prefer Dells devices, which are often cheaper. Camcorder These days, digital camcorders (Digital-8 or Mini-DV) are virtually your only choice. If you just want to experiment, hook up your VHS video player or component DVD player. USB 2.0-based video input Windows XP ships with Windows Movie Maker 2, which supports both analog and digital video capture. USB is best for analog. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Firewire-based video input If youve got a digital camcorder, go with a FireWire-based solution, which will give you higher resolutions approaching DVD quality and programmable controls in Windows Movie Maker. Scanner No digital camera? Scan your existing photos with a USB- or FireWire-based scanner. Good USB scanners are available for well under $100. Digital camera These days you can get a nice 4- or 5-megapixel (MPX) digital camera for less than $300 and the quality will shock and amaze you. Online photo services even let you get traditional prints. Digital audio receiver Roku, Linksys, and various PC makers sell component devices that let you pipe your PC-based digital audio through your stereo system using your homes built-in phone jacks. Its a nice way to leverage your PC-based music collection in the living room or den. Media Center PC For the ultimate experience, get a Media Center PC running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005.

I cover each of these solutions in more detail in the appropriate places in the book. Your mission, should you decide to accept it: Dig into what you want to know, and have some fun. Its your PC!

How to Read This Book (Dont Skip This Part!)


You dont have to read this book from beginning to end, in order, unless you really want to. There are plenty of cross-references for more information, so if you decide to skip around, you wont be penalized for it. So if you just got a brand new scanner, skip ahead to that chapter. Want to know about portable devices? Jump to the end. Some sections, of course, include chapters that build on each other. If you dont know how to play videos in Windows Media Player, for example, you probably shouldnt dive straight into digital-video creation yet. But you may feel like youre up on digital photography, and decide to skip ahead to digital music first. Thats fine, as long as you promise to go back later and read the whole thing over time: Windows XP makes its treasure-trove of functionality easy to discover, but a lot of the really dazzling stuff is still buried and unobvious. Even if you think youre an expert, I recommend taking the time to go through each section to see whats changed over the years. You might be surprised.

A Little about This Books Structure


This book is divided into four parts; each part contains a different number of chapters. (Youd think I would have organized this a bit more logically, but sometimes a book takes on a life of its own. (Its completely my fault; I admit it.) Heres what you can expect to see as you progress through this book.

PART I: MUSIC TO YOUR EARS


This part shows you how to play, organize, and record digital audio. You learn about the cool new features in Windows Media Player 10, the new and improved My Music folder, features for copying TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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audio CDs, and ways to make your own mix CDs and backup data CDs. Then we turn it up a notch and look at acquiring music from analog audio sources and how you can use the many online digital music services to purchase and subscribe to your favorite songs.

PART II: A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS


In Part II, you learn about the digital-photography features in Windows XP, such as the new and improved My Pictures folder, the Scanner and Camera Wizard, and get some help with installing digital-imaging hardware. You also take a look at the process of acquiring digital photographs from scanners and digital cameras, and examine how you can turn your still photo collections into stunning animated slideshows.

PART III: MOVIE MAKING


This part explores the world of digital movies. You get a look at digital-movie playback including DVDs in Windows Media Player, as well as some tips on video management, home moviemaking, and the new version of Windows Movie Maker (which you can use to record, edit, and share your own movies). You also look at online movie services, and creating your own DVD and CD movies.

PART IV: EMBRACING THE DIGITAL LIFESTYLE


Part IV briefs you on the digital-media features in Windows XP that extend beyond your PC, including the exciting new Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, which is the perfect OS for a living room-based personal video recorder, Media Center Extenders, and portable devices, such as iPods, Pocket PCs, and Portable Media Centers. Its your content: Take it with you wherever you go.

APPENDIXES? NOT HERE


This book concludes with zero (yes, 0) appendixes. I felt that this was an important enough feature to point out, since most technical books are full of appendixes listing things like API calls, video modes, and other miscellanea. This book is supposed to be fun; thus, no appendixes.

CD-ROM? NOPE
This book also contains zero (0) CD-ROMs, or coasters. Youd lose it anyway, and I wasnt in the mood to make something that was going to be obsolete the second you opened it up. So in lieu of the AOL strategy, I decided to include a ...

WEB SITE? YOU BET


This book contains exactly one (1) Web site. Well, it doesnt actually contain a Web site, because youd probably lose that too. (And whats up with that? I cant trust you with anything nice.) But seriously, the book does have a complementary Web site available at http://www.xpdigitalmedia .com. This way, you can stay up to date on this, and we dont have to kill any more trees to make it happen. (Its what the Washington Conservatory might call a win-win situation. Those tree huggers.) The Web site includes links to digital media news stories, information about Windows XP updates, answers to reader questions, and other information related to digital media and this book. Check it out!

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Acknowledgments
I would like to thank Wileys Debra Williams Cauley for putting the original version of this book together, and Katie Mohr for putting up with me all year. Thanks, too, to Tom Dinse, for his patience. These things always take a lot longer than I imagine they will. Maybe Ill figure it out some day. Special thanks to Microsofts David Caulton, who helped me figure out which topics to cover and graciously fielded questions at all hours. Microsoft has been doing a kick-ass job of getting digital media to the masses for several years now, and every time I seem to forget that fact, David steps in and reminds me. Special thanks, too, goes to Tom Laemmel, another good friend at Microsoft, and Craig Cincotta, who handles PR for the eHome folks at Microsoft. As usual, Tom and Craig were instrumental in getting me early access to various Media Centerrelated technologies. Its very much appreciated, guys, thanks. Very special thanks, of course, to my wife, Stephanie, my son Mark, and my daughter Kelly, each of whom gave up precious time so I could get this book finished. As Mark suggested recently, this book required a lot of hard thinking, which required me to sit, troll-like, alone in front of my PC wondering where it all went wrong. But both of my children have an instinctive understanding about when to come rushing in to the office for hugs and when to leave Daddy alone. They always bailed me out when the going got tough.

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Contents at a Glance
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvii

Part I
Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6

Music to Your Ears


Playing Digital Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Configuring and Tuning Windows Media Player . . . . 37 Managing and Sharing Digital Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Rip: Copying Music from Audio CDs. . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Acquiring Music from Cassettes, DVDs, and Other Analog Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143 Digital Music Store: Working with Online Music Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159

Part II
Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words


Managing Photos and Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185 Acquiring Photos with a Scanner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229 Acquiring Photos with a Digital Camera . . . . . . . . . 249 From Still Frame to Full Frame: Photo Slideshows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267

Part III
Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14 Chapter 15

Movie Making
Playing and Managing Digital Videos. . . . . . . . . . . . 301 Raw Footage: Making Home Movies . . . . . . . . . . . . 323 Acquiring Digital and Analog Video. . . . . . . . . . . . . 331 Creating Home Movies on Your PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . 349 Burn It: Creating Your Own DVDs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 389

Part IV
Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18

Embracing the Digital Lifestyle


Digital Media in the Living Room: Introducing XP Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 401 Digital Media Throughout the Home: Using Media Center Extenders. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 423 Take It On the Road: Working with Portable Media Centers and Other Portable Devices . . . . . . . 435 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 451 TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Contents
Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xvii

Part I
Chapter 1

Music to Your Ears


Playing Digital Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Discovering Windows Media Player 10. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Starting Windows Media Player 10. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Exiting Windows Media Player. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Using the Windows Media Player Media Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9


Navigating the Media Guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Discovering New Music with Windows Media Player . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11

Listening to Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Playing Audio CDs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Playing Digital Audio Files . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14

Listening to Internet Radio Stations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16


Using Radio Presets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Adding a Radio Station to My Stations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Removing a Station from a Presets List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

Playing Streaming Audio Files . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21


Finding Streaming Media Files . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Understanding and Using Other Streaming Media Formats . . . . . . . . 23

Playing Music with Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25


Playing Digital Audio Files with Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 Playing CD Music with Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Playing Internet Radio with Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

Having Fun with Media Playback: A Guide to the Best Windows Media Player Add-ons. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
Using Visualizations to Put a Mesmerizing Face on Your Music . . . . . 31 Geek Out with Plus! Dancer (Windows Dancer in MCE 2005). . . . . . 33 Have a Party with Plus! Party Mode (Windows Party Mode in MCE 2005) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34

Chapter 2

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Configuring and Tuning Windows Media Player . . . . . 37 Using the Media Library and Playlists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
Taking a Closer Look at the Media Library . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Using the Contents and Details Panes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Working with Playlists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Understanding the Now Playing List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

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Contents
Understanding the Burn List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Understanding the Sync List. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Customizing Windows Media Player . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50


Displaying or Accessing the Menu Bar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 Hiding and Displaying the List Pane. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52 Using Windows Media Player Enhancements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Using Skin Mode . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

Configuring Windows Media Player Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72


Setting Player Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 72 Setting Rip Music Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Setting Devices Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Setting Performance Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75 Setting Media Library Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Setting Plug-ins Options. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Setting Privacy Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Setting Security Options. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Setting File Types Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Setting DVD Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Setting Network Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84

Chapter 3

Updating Windows Media Player . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Managing and Sharing Digital Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Using the My Music Folder. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87
Introducing My Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 Customizing Folders in My Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

Changing the Location of the My Music Folder . . . . . . . . . . . . 95


Telling Windows Media Player Where the Music Is . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Using Shared Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 Moving the My Documents Folder to a New Location . . . . . . . . . . . . 98 Moving the My Music Folder to a New Location . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 Storing Digital Music in Other Folders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101 Creating a Media Server . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101

Using the Music Task Lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103


Playing All Music in a Folder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103 Shopping for Music Online . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 Copying Music to an Audio CD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109

Burning Your Own Music CDs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109


Understanding Recordable CD Formats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 Before You Burn, You Must Playlist. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 Setting Audio CD Properties. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112 Creating Audio CDs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114

Chapter 4

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118 Rip: Copying Music from Audio CDs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Understanding Digital Audio Formats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119
Windows Media Audio vs. MP3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 Enter Microsoft, Stage Left . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Contents
Configuring Windows Media Player to Rip CDs . . . . . . . . . . . 121
Configuring Your CD Devices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121 Configuring Audio Format and Quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Choosing a Location Where Music Will Be Stored . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125

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Ripping a CD: Copying Music to Windows XP . . . . . . . . . . . . 127


What to Do If Youre Offline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128 Copying that CD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

Managing Digital Audio Metadata. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135


Using the Media Library to Edit Metadata . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 Using the Advanced Tag Editor to Edit Metadata . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138

Ripping CDs with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140


Working with CDs in Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142

Chapter 5

Acquiring Music from Cassettes, DVDs, and Other Analog Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
From Analog to Digital: Understanding the Issues . . . . . . . . . 143
Making the Connection: Hardware You Need to Make It Work . . . . 144 Tools of the Trade: Software You Need to Make It Work . . . . . . . . . . 144

Recording Audio from an Analog Source with Windows Movie Maker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145 Editing an Analog Recording with Windows Movie Maker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 148
Saving the Audio File to Disk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Editing the Audio Files Metadata . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151

Recording Audio from an Analog Source with Plus! Analog Recorder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157

Chapter 6

Digital Music Store: Working with Online Music Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159


An Introduction to Online Music Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
Fair Use: Digital Rights Management and You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 An Overview of the Best Online Music Experiences . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162

Buy Music Online. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169


Pick a service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169 Purchase music online from MSN Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170

Now What? Manage Purchased Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173


Mix and Match Playlists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173 Back up Your Purchased Music. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 Burn Your Purchased Music to CD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174 Create Unprotected Versions of Your Protected Songs. . . . . . . . . . . . 174

Subscribe to Online Music Subscription Services . . . . . . . . . . 174 Access Online Music Services from a Media Center PC. . . . . . 179 Take Purchased and Subscribed Music on the Road . . . . . . . . 181 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182

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Part II

Contents A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words


Managing Photos and Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185 Managing Images with My Pictures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Viewing Photos and Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 Finding Information About an Image . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189 Using Subfolders to Mange My Pictures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191

Chapter 7

Customizing Image Folders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192


Using Folder Views . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192 Customizing Folder Icons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196 Using the Details Web View . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197 Doing Cool Stuff with Images: Making Slide Shows, Screensavers, and Desktop Backgrounds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199

Getting the Most from Windows Picture and Fax Viewer . . . . 202 Editing Images with Microsoft Paint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203 Editing Photos with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205 When XP isnt Enough: A Quick Look at Other Photo-Editing Solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208
Adobe PhotoShop Elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209 Microsoft Digital Image Pro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 209 A Free Option: Paint .NET . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210

Printing Photos with the Photo Printing Wizard . . . . . . . . . . . 211 Printing Photos with Media Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214 Ordering Prints Online . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215 Electronically Sharing Photos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
Sharing Photos on the Internet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217 Sharing Photos at Home . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222

Chapter 8

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227 Acquiring Photos with a Scanner. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229 Understanding Flatbed Scanners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229 Choosing a Scanner for Windows XP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
Thinking about Scanner Resolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230 Understanding Color Depth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231

Installing and Detecting a Flatbed Scanner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231 Scanning a Photo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 233


Choosing Scanning Preferences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234 Choosing the Picture Name and Destination . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 238 Scan It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240 Ordering Prints Online. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240

Using a Film Scanner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 242 Not Done Yet: What to Do After You Scan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243
Editing Scanned Photos with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 244 Commonly Needed Photo Editing Features . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 246

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 247

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Contents
Chapter 9 Acquiring Photos with a Digital Camera . . . . . . . . . . . 249 Understanding Digital Cameras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 249
Megapixel? Whats a Stinkin Megapixel? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250 A Look at Media Types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250 Understanding Techie Camera Features . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251 Making the Connection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251 Understanding Batteries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251 Using Your Digital Cameras in the Real World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252

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Detecting Your Camera in Windows XP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252 Acquiring Images from a Digital Camera . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 254 Acquiring Pictures with a Media Center PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 261 Image Acquisition for Real Men (and Women) . . . . . . . . . . . . 264 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265

Chapter 10

From Still Frame to Full Frame: Photo Slideshows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267


Creating a Photo Slideshow with Windows Movie Maker . . . . 267
Importing Photos into Windows Movie Maker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269 Arranging the Photos in the Timeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270 Setting Photo Display Time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 272 Adding Transitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 272 Adding Music to the Slide Show. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 276 Adding Narration to the Slideshow. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280 Adding Effects to the Slide Show . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 281 Saving and Sharing the Slide Show. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283

Creating a Photo Slide Show with Plus! Photo Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 289


Editing an Existing Plus! Photo Story Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 294 Creating a Movie CD with Plus! Photo Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 294 Choosing Between Movie Maker and Photo Story. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 295

Creating a Photo Slide Show Screensaver . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 296 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297

Part III
Chapter 11

Movie Making
Playing and Managing Digital Videos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301 Managing Digital Videos with My Videos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301
Managing Digital Videos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 302 Change the Location of My Videos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 302

Watching Movies with Windows Media Player . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 303


Playing Digital Movies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 303 Playing DVD Movies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 305 Viewing Streaming Videos . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311

Sharing Videos with Other Users . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312 Renting Digital Videos Online . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312

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Playing Digital Videos and DVD Movies in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317
Accessing My Videos in Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317 Finding Movies on TV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319 Playing DVD Movies with Media Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322 Accessing Online Movie Services from Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . 322

Chapter 12

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322 Raw Footage: Making Home Movies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323 Understanding Home Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323 Choosing a Camcorder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 324
Analog Camcorders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 324 Take the Plunge: Digital Camcorders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 326 Digital Camcorder Formats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 326 Buying a Camcorder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 326

Taking Home Movies: The Basics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329


Video Recording Basics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329 Avoid Using Built-in Camcorder Features . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329 Zoom and Pan Issues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 330

Chapter 13

Go Forth and Shoot Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 330 Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 330 Acquiring Digital and Analog Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331 Acquiring Digital Video from a Camcorder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331 Acquiring Analog Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337 Recording Live TV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 341 Accessing Online Movie Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 342
Buy, Rent, or Subscribe? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 342 Understanding Your Sharing Options . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 343 Downloading a Movie Rental from an Online Movie Service. . . . . . . 343 Downloading a Movie Purchase from an Online Movie Service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 346 Accessing Online Movie Services from Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . 346

Chapter 14

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 347 Creating Home Movies on Your PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 349 Understanding Windows Movie Maker. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 350
Exploring the Windows Movie Maker User Interface . . . . . . . . . . . . 350

Capturing and Managing Video Content. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 355


Importing Video . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 355 Managing Source Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 356

Editing Video with Windows Movie Maker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 357


Working with Projects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 358 Working with Video Clips . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 360 Adding Transitions to Your Home Movies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 364 Adding Special Effects to Your Home Movies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 368 Adding Titles and Credits to Your Home Movies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 372 Adding Narration to Your Home Movies. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379

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Contents
Final Product: Putting It All Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381
Saving a Movie to Your Computer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 381 Saving a Movie to CD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 383 Saving a Movie to DVD (Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 only) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 383 Sending a Movie to Others via E-mail. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 385 Saving a Movie to the Web . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 385 Sending a Movie to a DV Camcorder . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 386

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Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 387

Chapter 15

Burn It: Creating Your Own DVDs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 389


Understanding Recordable DVD Formats and Technologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 389 Creating a DVD Movie with Windows Movie Maker and XP Media Center Edition 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 390 Burning Media Center Recorded TV Shows to DVD . . . . . . . . 395 Go the Third-Party Route: DVD MovieMaking Alternatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 397
Adobe Premiere Elements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 397 Nero Ultra Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 398 Roxio Easy Media Creator Suite . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 398 Sonic MyDVD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 398

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 398

Part IV
Chapter 16

Embracing the Digital Lifestyle


Digital Media in the Living Room: Introducing XP Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 401
PC in the Den: Introducing Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 402
A Look at the Hardware . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 403 A Look at the Software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 404 Managing and Consuming Digital Media with XP Media Center Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 406 Accessing TV with Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 411 Accessing Online Services and Other Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 419

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 422

Chapter 17

Digital Media Throughout the Home: Using Media Center Extenders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 423
Introducing Media Center Extenders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 423
Media Center Extender Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 424 Choosing a Media Center Extender . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 425

Installing and Configuring a Media Center Extender . . . . . . . 426


Unpack the Extender . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 426 Connect the Extender. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 427 Install the PC software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 427 Use the Extender . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 427

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Contents
Managing a Media Center Extender . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 428
Managing Media Center Extender Devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 429 Managing Network Performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 432

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 433

Chapter 18

Take It On the Road: Working with Portable Media Centers and Other Portable Devices. . . . . . . . . 435
Working with Portable Devices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 436
Integrating Portable Devices with Windows Media Player . . . . . . . . 436

Use a Pocket PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 439


Use Windows Media Player 10 Mobile with a Pocket PC . . . . . . . . . 440

Use a Portable Media Center. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 441


Synchronizing Content with a Portable Media Center. . . . . . . . . . . . 441 Managing a Portable Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 442 Synchronizing Content with a Portable Media Center from Media Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 444

Use an Apple iPod . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 445


Managing an iPod with iTunes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 446 Purchasing Music at the iTunes Music Store . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 448 Taking Photos on the Road with an iPod Photo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 449 Managing an iPod with Windows Media Player . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450

Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450

Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 451

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Part I
Music to Your Ears
Chapter 1

Playing Digital Music


Chapter 2

Configuring and Tuning Windows Media Player


Chapter 3

Managing and Sharing Digital Music


Chapter 4

Rip: Copying Music from Audio CDs


Chapter 5

Acquiring Music from Cassettes, DVDs, and Other Analog Sources


Chapter 6

Digital Music Store: Working with Online Music Services

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Chapter 1

Playing Digital Music


indows XP has always had a rich digital music playback experience, thanks to the inclusion of Media Player for Windows XP (also called Windows Media Player 8, or WMP8) in the initial release of the operating system. Since then, Microsoft has shipped two major (and free) upgrades to WMP, Windows Media Player 9 Series (WMP9) and, most recently Windows Media Player 10 (WMP10), which I focus on exclusively in this book. If you dont yet have WMP10 for some reason, grab it now: Its a huge improvement over previous WMP versions. And did I mention it is free?

On the Web
WMP10 is available for download from Windows update (www.windowsupdate.com). You can also download this release directly from the Microsoft Web site at www.microsoft.com/windowsmedia.

Available exclusively to Windows XP users, WMP10 is whats known as an all-in-one media player because it works with a variety of media types all from a single interface. The all-in-one design means that WMP10 is conceivably (but not literally) the only program youll need for listening to music and other audio, watching movies, recording music and video, managing locally stored media, listening to Internet radio stations, moving music to portable digital audio devices, creating audio CDs, playing DVD movies, and more. In the past, much of this functionality was broken out into separate products from a variety of vendors, and Microsofts decision to create a single program that does it all has triggered the development of a variety of similar products from its competitors. Today, WMP10 builds on the basic design of its predecessors, while incorporating changes based on extensive usability studies and customer requests. In short WMP10 is more full-featured, and yet simpler to use than previous versions. OK, thats all well and good from a marketing perspective. To you, the user, its now possible to use WMP10 as an end-to-end product that is suitable for just about any audio or video media task you might have. So in this way, WMP10 really does deliver. As always, however, there are small gaps in functionality that will require you to turn to other solutions in some situations. In this chapter, you first look at the player and see how it interacts with the Internet, CD audio, and locally stored music files. If youve harbored any sort of anti-Microsoft feelings regarding their endless integration strategies, WMP10 might just turn you around. Its that good. But Ill also highlight a few competing solutions that might be of interest.

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Part I: Music to Your Ears

Discovering Windows Media Player 10


WMP10 is literally the centerpiece of the Windows XP digital media experience. With this player, you can: Listen to audio files stored on music CDs, your system, and the Internet. Purchase digital music files, or subscribe to digital music collections, from a variety of online music services. Rent and purchase digital videos from a variety of online video services. Rip (or copy) music from audio CDs to your system in a variety of formats. Organize audio and video media that is stored on your system. View DVD movies (requires a DVD drive and appropriate decoder software). Listen to Internet radio stations. Discover new music and video content on the Internet. Copy audio and video media from your system to a portable device, such as a Pocket PC, Portable Media Center, or portable digital audio player. Create personalized mix audio or data CDs (requires a CD-R or CD-RW drive). Personalize your digital media experience with the players customizable user interface, visualizations, add-ons, and skins. View TV shows that were recorded on a Media Center PC. To make this all possible, WMP10 presents an updated interface thats based on the Energy Blue user interface used by Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (MCE 2005), though it looks fine in other XP versions as well. Indeed, WMP10 is highly customizable, with various UI elements, such as the menu bar, that can be hidden, and a fully resizable Full Mode window that does away with the boxy outline of most Windows applications to take on a rounded, more organic look. And, as shown in Figure 1-1, you can resize the full-sized WMP window as you see fit, without having to switch to skin mode, as required in previous versions. However, like previous WMP versions, you can still use the more limited Skin Mode if youd like. A typical skin is shown in Figure 1-2. More useful than Skin Mode, however, is a new taskbar-based toolbar mode that can optionally display WMP10 in the Windows taskbar when you minimize the application, as shown in Figure 1-3. To enable this mode, right-click an empty area of the XP taskbar and select Toolbars Windows Media Player. From then on, when you minimize WMP10, youll get the toolbar mode instead of a normally minimized application. You take a closer look at the ways in which you can customize WMP10 in Chapter 2. Theres a lot more you can do.

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Chapter 1: Playing Digital Music

Figure 1-1: Three views of WMP10 in Full Mode, where all of its features are available and the window is almost fully resizable.

Figure 1-2: A sample skin, which generally provides the most commonly used functionality in a smaller package.

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Part I: Music to Your Ears

Figure 1-3: The new taskbar-based toolbar mode gets WMP10 out of your face, but still lets you access your music and videos.

Starting Windows Media Player 10


Are you having problems finding the player? Well, fear not: Windows Media Player 10 can be started in a variety of ways. First, it should be located in the most recently accessed portion of your Start Menu (that leftmost portion of the Start Menu), as shown in Figure 1-4. If you dont see a Windows Media Player icon in your Start Menu, open the All Programs item in the Start Menu to display the Programs menu. You will see a Windows Media Player shortcut there as well.

Figure 1-4: A shortcut for Windows Media Player will always appear in the All Programs menu, but you might have one in the Start Menu as well.

What you see here will vary depending on your system, of course. I have my Start Menu configured to display small icons, for example, but you may have kept yours on the default large icon mode. Also, the most recently accessed section will vary depending on which application you use. Apparently, I spend a lot of time in Word, Notepad, and Microsoft Paint. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Chapter 1: Playing Digital Music

You might want to place shortcuts to WMP10 on your desktop or Quick Launch bar as well. This is fairly easy to do and will give you ways to start WMP from a variety of locations that wont change, as the Start Menu can.

STARTING WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER 10 FOR THE FIRST TIME


The very first time you run WMP10, youll see a series of introductory screens that will walk you through some set-up tasks. For example, you will determine some privacy settings and which media formats you will manage with WMP10. After you click Next in the first introductory screen, youll be presented with the screen shown in Figure 1-5. Here you can determine whether the player transmits any semi-personal information about you to Microsoft servers in order to provide you with better services. I say semi-private because, frankly, I dont see any huge harm in the type of information the player sends it basically amounts to a unique ID number for each player and only the truly paranoid need to worry about that kind of thing.

Figure 1-5: Microsoft is a bit sensitive about your private information because of complaints its received in the past.

Click Next again and youre presented with a screen (Figure 1-6) that enables you to determine which file types WMP10 will be configured to handle. Unless you really know what youre doing and have a very strict desire to use other media player programs for the default types, my advice is to let WMP10 handle all of the media types it supports. After youve completed the introductory setup, WMP10 will launch for the first time and display a screen similar to Figure 1-7. Here WMP10 provides you with links to Web content that describes the products features. The next time you launch WMP10, you will be directed to the Media Guide, as described later in this chapter. How WMP10 behaves after that will depend on how its configured.

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Part I: Music to Your Ears

Figure 1-6: Optionally, you can configure WMP10 to handle all or some of the common media file types youre going to run into.

Figure 1-7: Take a good look, because you wont be able to display this screen again after youve started using WMP10.

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Chapter 1: Playing Digital Music

LAUNCHING WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER FROM YOUR DESKTOP


To create a shortcut on your desktop, open the Start Menu and expand the All Programs item to display the Programs menu. Right-click Windows Media Player and drag it to an empty area of the desktop. When the pop-up menu appears, choose Copy Here.

LAUNCHING WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER FROM THE QUICK LAUNCH BAR


To create a shortcut in your Quick Launch bar, the process is quite similar. First, make sure the taskbar is unlocked by right-clicking in a blank area of the taskbar and viewing the Lock the Taskbar option: If it has a checkmark next to it, select it to clear that option. Then, if the Quick Launch bar isnt visible (which it wont be, by default, in the Home Edition of Windows XP), right-click in a blank area of the taskbar and choose Toolbars Quick Launch. Expand the toolbar so that theres room to drag a new icon by dragging the divider between the Quick Launch bar and the taskbar to the right. Now, open the Start Menu as before and drag the Windows Media Player icon down into the Quick Launch bar.

Exiting Windows Media Player


When youre done using WMP, you can close the application and recover any resources that its taking up. You do so as you would for any Windows application: You can click the Close button in the players title bar (it resembles an X), or choose Exit from the File menu (which is still available even though you cant see the WMP10 menu by default; simply press Alt+F to display it temporarily, and then choose Exit). Another special situation is when the player is in skin mode. Each skin should supply a Close button, which will also resemble an X character. But the size, exact shape, and location of the Close button depends on the skin, so you might have to look hard to find it. Power users can close WMP two other ways, both of which work in both Full and Skin Modes: You can right-click the Windows Media Player button in the taskbar and choose File Exit from the pop-menu that appears. You can also make sure that WMP is the currently selected application, and then press AltF4 to close the window.

Using the Windows Media Player Media Guide


We live in a connected world, and Windows Media Player reflects that with its Media Guide, which aggregates digital media content from a variety of Web sites into a central place thats easy to navigate and use. Best of all, it changes every day, providing you with a constantly updated look at the latest music, movie trailers, radio stations, and other similar content, as shown in Figure 1-8.

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Part I: Music to Your Ears

Figure 1-8: The Media Guide provides Web-based music, movie, and radio content updated daily.

Basically a Web site thats piped into WMP10, the Media Guide is obviously accessible only if youre connected to the Internet. Microsoft has it set up to display by default when the player starts, but if you turn off that functionality or want to view it manually, select the Guide taskbar button and youll be there in no time. Unsurprising, you can navigate the Media Guide like a Web site: You can click hyperlinks to view new pages, and the page scrolls if theres more information than can be seen inside the window.

Navigating the Media Guide


Like a Web browser, the Media Guide includes standard navigational buttons like Back, Forward, Stop, Refresh, and Home, but you can also use keyboard equivalents if youd like (Alt+left arrow or Backspace for Back, Alt+right arrow for Forward, Esc for Stop, and F5 for Refresh). This makes it convenient to use the Media Guide while in WMP10 and not need to open a separate browser window. If you attempt to use one of these keyboard commands and it doesnt work, select an empty portion of the Media Guide with the mouse and try again. Sometimes you might find that the focus has changed from the window, so the keyboard commands wont work. Also note that the Media Guide is available only in Full Mode: You cannot access it while in Skin Mode.

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Chapter 1: Playing Digital Music

11

Discovering New Music with Windows Media Player


Since the early days of Windows XP, the purpose of the Media Guide has changed somewhat. Thats because Microsoft has a wide range of media-oriented services now, and the company is positioning its Media Guide as a front-end to those services. Here are some of the ways you can discover new music and other content in the WMP10 Media Guide. Streaming audio and video Microsoft positions links to promotional streaming audio and video content right on the Media Guide home page. You look at this type of content later in the chapter. Digital music purchasing The Microsoft MSN Music online music store, and other competing online music (and video) services are available directly from within WMP10. You look at these exciting options in Chapter 6. Internet radio Microsoft offers free and subscription-based Internet radio services, which you examine later in this chapter. Discover fun ways to customize WMP10 Additionally, Microsoft offers links to skins and other WMP10 customizations from directly within the Media Guide.

Listening to Music
OK, you can start and stop WMP10, navigate around the Web-based Media Guide, and are at least aware that you can discover new music and video content using various online media services. As you may have guessed, this is only the tip of the iceberg, so dont start patting yourself on the back quite yet. One of the more common tasks you might want to accomplish is to play some music or other audio with the player. Lets take a look at the ways in which you might do so.

Note
Regardless of which media type youre playing, the standard Play/Pause, Stop, Previous, Next, Mute, and Volume transport controls found at the bottom of the player will be used to control playback. These controls work just like their counterparts on a CD or DVD player, and theyre always visible in WMP10.

Playing Audio CDs


Many people have pretty extensive audio CD collections, which began replacing cassette tapes in the late 1980s. Audio CDs offer high-clarity, digital sound, and come in a pretty convenient form factor (music industry speak for theyre flat). A decade after they first became popular, CDs are now everywhere, in portable players, cars, homes, and yes, computers. So its no surprise that people often sit down at a computer, throw in an audio CD, and get to work.

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12

Part I: Music to Your Ears

If you do that in Windows XP, an auto-play dialog box will pop up and recommend that you play the CD with WMP10, as shown in Figure 1-9 (it actually defaults to Media Center, not to WMP10, if you are using Windows XP Media Center Edition).

Figure 1-9: When you insert an audio CD, an auto-play dialog box appears.

Working with High Definition CDs


In addition to playing the standard audio CDs, WMP can also play High Definition CDs (HDCDs), which offers improved fidelity over their more widely available cousins. HDCDs are still pretty rare, but as of this writing there are over 5000 titles available, many of which are of interest only to audiophiles. But hundreds of these titles are mainstream, pop and rock music CDs, so you never know. And like regular audio CDs, the price will come down over time so you might soon see them available in a retail store near you. Whatever happens, WMP10 will be ready. If youre interested in this technology, heres a quick overview. HDCD is a patented process that improves on the fidelity of normal audio CDs while preserving musical information normally lost during the analog-to-digital recording process. According to Microsoft, HDCD provides more dynamic range, a more focused 3-D sound stage, and natural musical and vocal timbre for the full body, depth, and emotion of the original performance. HDCD-encoded CDs can be played on standard CD players including the one in your PC but the best experience is achieved only through the use of HDCD-equipped CD players. For more information, head on over to the HDCD Web site (www.hdcd.com), which also provides a way to purchase these discs online.

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Chapter 1: Playing Digital Music

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If you select Play audio CD using Windows Media Player, WMP10 will start up (or come to the front if its already running) and begin playing the CD, as shown in Figure 1-10. Note that WMP10 will not move from the current mode when it does so. In other words, if youre looking at the Media Guide when you insert a CD, WMP10 will still display the Media Guide as it plays the CD.

Figure 1-10: Its subtle, but WMP10 is, in fact, playing an audio CD, even though it hasnt moved from the Media Guide.

Of course, for a variety of reasons, you might not see any of this. You might be running WMP10 in Skin Mode, for example. This isnt a problem: WMP10 can play audio CDs in Skin Mode as well.

Note
Sadly, Windows Media Player 10 cannot play (or record) DVD Audio.

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Part I: Music to Your Ears

Playing Digital Audio Files


In addition to audio CDs, many users like to play digital audio files stored locally on their computers. These files can take many forms, such as older WAV (wave) and MIDI format files, and newer MPEG Layer 3 (MP3), Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), and Windows Media Audio (WMA) format files. Digital audio files contain music or other audio content that you can listen to in the same way that you might listen to music on audio CDs. The only difference as far as playback is concerned is that the music is typically stored on your hard drive rather than on an audio CD. In fact, for convenience, many users will want to copy all or part of their audio CD library to their hard drive. But its likely that you have a number of appropriate digital audio files on your system already. Lets find out.

Cross-Reference
The procedure for copying your audio CD library to your hard drive is covered in Chapter 4.

FINDING MUSIC ON YOUR SYSTEM


While its possible to navigate around your system in My Computer and find audio files, WMP includes a search feature that will scan your system automatically for media. To access this feature, choose Search for Media Files from the Tools menu (you can also launch this function by pressing F3 at any time while using WMP10). This brings up the cunningly titled Add to Library by Searching Computer dialog shown in Figure 1-11, which contains a variety of user interface elements that should be obvious to most users. Notable are the Advanced Options button, which reveals advanced search options for skipping certain kinds of digital media files, and the Browse button, which enables you to forgo an entire system search and navigate to a specific location. This can be useful if you have already created a number of files yourself and stored them some place and dont want the Search to waste time on the rest of the hard drive.

Figure 1-11: The Add to Library by Searching Computer dialog box will find any digital media files on your system.

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Chapter 1: Playing Digital Music

15

However you tinker with the options, eventually, youre going to click Search and go for it. This brings up another dialog box confusingly, also titled Add to Library by Searching Computer that displays a progress bar while it searches. If you dont touch any of the search options, and havent created any audio files yourself (again, see Chapter 4 for how to do this), the search should end relatively quickly and find only a handful of files. So where are they? First you have to close the dialog box by pressing the Close button.

WHAT DID SEARCH FIND?


Well, unless you already have some decent digital audio on your system most likely WMA or MP3 files youre probably not going to find much. The player should find some sample files that are associated with Windows Movie Maker or the Pinball game, for example, and of course Windows comes with a few sample songs. To see these, switch to the Media Library by clicking the Library option on the WMP10 taskbar. You look at the Media Library more in Chapter 4, but for now, you should see something similar to Figure 1-12.

Figure 1-12: The Media Library displays all of the media files you have registered with WMP.

PLAYING DIGITAL MUSIC FILES


You can double-click media files in the Media Library to play them individually, but you can also tell the Media Library to play groups of songs in specific groups, such as All Music, songs from particular albums, songs by particular artists, or songs in a particular genre. Again, you look more at this functionality when you learn how to copy music from an audio CD. Only then will this feature really start to make sense. It all comes together in Chapter 4. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Part I: Music to Your Ears

Listening to Internet Radio Stations


In addition to audio CDs and digital audio files, WMP can be used to play back music on Internet radio stations. Obviously, youll need an Internet connection for this feature the faster the connection, the better: A broadband Internet connection, such as that provided by a cable modem, will work better than a dial-up account for this feature. In any case, an Internet radio station is exactly what it sounds like, a radio station that broadcasts over the Internet rather than over the airwaves. Actually, thats not strictly true: Many Internet radio stations are simply Internet versions of existing radio stations. And thats cool, because it lets you listen to your favorite Boston radio station, for example, from the jungles of Sri Lanka, if you want. Assuming you can get online. The way you access Internet radio stations has changed a bit since the early XP days. Now, instead of a dedicated Radio Tuner button in its taskbar, WMP10 provides access to various Internet radio services through its integration with various Internet-based online media services. You look at these services in detail in Chapter 6, but since the Microsoft MSN Music service offers free Internet radio stations, youll examine that option here. First, you need to make sure that MSN Music is selected within WMP10. This is actually the default, so if you see a colorful MSN butterfly in the upper-right corner of WMP10, youre all set. If not, press the Online Store button (the small arrow to the right of the butterfly), as shown in Figure 1-13, and then select MSN Music from the list.

Figure 1-13: You can select one of a number of online services for use within WMP10.

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Chapter 1: Playing Digital Music

17

Now, select the Radio button on the WMP10 taskbar. This launches the MSN Radio service within WMP10, as shown in Figure 1-14.

Figure 1-14: MSN Radio is hosted directly within WMP10.

Using Radio Presets


If you just want to test the Internet radio station feature, you can choose from a list of featured presets, which are listed as Fan Favorites and Featured Stations. Simply select a station under Featured Stations from the MSN Radio home page, or expand a category like local stations, Country, or Pop, and find a station you like. The local stations option is interesting. When you expand this choice, youre given the option to specify a state and city. Then, MSN Radio will display the stations in your area, as shown in Figure 1-15.

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Figure 1-15: Like local radio stations? How about local radio stations with no DJ chatter? Now were talking.

To play a radio station, click the small Play button next to its name. If you arent logged into the service, youll be prompted to do so. The logon youll need is a standard Passport account, which you probably created when you opened a Hotmail or MSN account. If you dont have one, MSN Music will walk you through the process of creating one. In any event, once youre logged on, WMP10 will navigate to the Now Playing view and begin playing the radio station you selected (Figure 1-16). WMP10 will buffer the content coming from the station so that it is storing several seconds of audio before it begins playing. This way, the player is always behind a few seconds, but it can compensate for slowness in the connection or a low-quality connection that peaks and spikes.

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Figure 1-16: MSN Radio is hosted directly within WMP10.

Tip
By default, you can only access the free radio stations that are part of the base MSN Radio service. To access higher-quality radio stations with no ads, you can optionally subscribe to MSN Radio Plus for a low monthly fee. You can find out more about this service at http://radio.msn.com/.

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Adding a Radio Station to My Stations


Microsofts list of featured stations is a good start, but its likely that youre going to want to work with your own list of presets. Fortunately, Microsoft has created a customizable list of station presets it calls My Stations. To add a station to My Stations, simply click the add this to My Stations link in Now Playing. WMP10 will then display a note mentioning that the station was added, as shown in Figure 1-17.

Figure 1-17: Adding a new radio station to your My Stations list is as easy as clicking a link.

Alternatively, you can add stations to your My Stations list by navigating to the MSN Radio home page and clicking the + button found to the right of each station description. As you add stations to your My Stations list, they appear at the top of the MSN Radio home page, as shown in Figure 1-18. This is one of the reasons Microsoft wants you to log on when you access the service.

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Figure 1-18: As you add radio stations to the My Stations list, MSN Radio displays them right at the top of its home page.

Removing a Station from a Presets List


Conversely, you can remove a station from your My Stations list by navigating to the MSN Radio home page and clicking the button to the right of its description. Be careful when you do this, however: WMP10 does not provide a confirmation dialog box, so once you click the button, the station will be removed immediately.

Playing Streaming Audio Files


Theres one final type of digital audio file you can play with WMP: Streaming files. A file that is streamed is delivered across the Internet, and played in real time, without downloading the entire file first. In the old days, this wasnt possible: A digital media file would have to be completely downloaded before you could begin playing it. But with streaming media, a file can be played as its downloaded. That makes a huge difference on low-bandwidth environments, such as the Internet.

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If streaming media sounds a bit like the Internet radio stations you examined before, theres a reason, as the technology is similar. The difference, however, is that streaming media deals with individual files, like a single song, rather than a 24/7 sound source, such as a radio station. And streaming media is more of an on-demand technology than Internet radio: You choose the media file to play back, click a link, and it happens. Streaming media quality is dependent on the quality of your Internet connection. For this reason, many sources of streaming media will offer this media at a variety of quality levels, so that low-bandwidth dial-up users can choose to stream a lower-quality file, while cable modem users might choose a higher-quality file that consumes more bandwidth. And of course, there are streaming video files as well as audio files.

Finding Streaming Media Files


The Microsoft Media Guide, discussed earlier in this chapter, is an obvious place to go for streaming media. You can load the Media Guide and navigate to the Music section (denoted by the Music tab at the top of the Guide page inside of the player, not to be confused with a Music toolbar button you might see at the top of WMP), for example, and select media to stream. Though the structure and user interface of the Media Guide is likely to change over time, youll see something similar to Figure 1-19. In addition to links to actual audio streams, many of these samples include links to purchase music online or on CD.

Figure 1-19: The Media Guide offers a variety of streaming media clips.

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The Media Guide also enables you to find music by category or artist name, while linking to record company Web sites that provide streaming and downloadable music. In Figure 1-20, a link to a streaming media file was launched in WMP10 and is now streaming.

Figure 1-20: A streaming audio file playing in WMP10.

Understanding and Using Other Streaming Media Formats


Interestingly, streaming media is the one area in which Microsofts end-to-end approach falls short. This is because WMP does not support two of the most popular streaming media formats, those provided by RealNetworks and Apple Computer. Microsofts streaming audio and video formats, while technically superior, currently trail market leader RealNetworks, with its RealAudio and RealVideo formats, in real world usage. And although use of Microsofts streaming media formats far outpaces Apple Computers QuickTime technology, QuickTime is still very popular, especially with movie studios offering trailers on the Web.

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For a variety of reasons, Microsoft doesnt offer the ability to play RealNetworks or Apple formats through WMP. So if you want to take advantage of these formats, which are quite prevalent on the Web, youll need to download the RealNetworks RealPlayer and Apple QuickTime players. Theres just no way around it, at least not until Microsofts formats become more pervasive or WMP incorporates the technology from these other players.

REALNETWORKS REALPLAYER
RealPlayer is available from the RealNetworks Web site (www.real.com) in two versions, a free basic player, and a Plus version for which you must pay about $20. Like WMP, RealPlayer is an all-in-one media player that offers a host of media playback, recording, and organizational features. RealPlayer 10.5 is shown in Figure 1-21.

Figure 1-21: RealPlayer is similar to WMP10, but doesnt offer access to the wide range of online services you can find in Microsofts offering.

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APPLE QUICKTIME PLAYER


Apple Computer also offers free and Pro versions of its excellent QuickTime player, which doesnt offer the wide range of features in WMP but does include some interesting streaming channels that Apple calls QuickTime TV. Figure 1-22 shows both RealPlayer and QuickTime running in Windows XP.

Figure 1-22: Until Microsoft supports the QuickTime format, youll need to download Apple Computers QuickTime Player.

Playing Music with Media Center


Media Center owners running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 have access to a much more visual audio and music playback experience. Thats because XP Media Center supports a remote control-enabled user interface that works great on a TV set and with your home stereo, providing you with a more natural setting from which to enjoy music on locally stored files, CDs, Internet radio, or streaming audio. In this section, you look at how you can enjoy music digitally with XP Media Center Edition.

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Unlike Windows XP Home Edition or Professional Edition, you cannot purchase Windows XP Media Center Edition in a retail store. Instead, you can only obtain this version of Windows by buying a new Media Center PC. Companies such as Dell, Gateway, and HP market these PCs, which typically feature a remote control and TV interface card.

Playing Digital Audio Files with Media Center


After you launch the Media Center application (Figure 1-23), choose My Music.

Figure 1-23: Whats blue and green all over? Its Media Center.

My Music integrates with WMP and accesses the same Media Library that you have set up in that application. So whatever digital audio files you have in WMP10, you will see in Media Center as well. As you increase your collection of digital music, the Media Center interface gets more attractive and useful. In Figure 1-24, you can see what my familys Media Center PC looks like. To play an individual song, select an album, or navigate through the Artists, Songs, or Playlists sections. For purposes of this demonstration, Ill select the album Achtung Baby by U2, as shown in Figure 1-25.

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Figure 1-24: My Music presents different views to your music collection, including Album view, shown here.

Figure 1-25: In Album Details view, you can see all of the songs on the album, and access different music-related tasks.

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To play the album, just click the Play button. The Now Playing view is shown in Figure 1-26.

Figure 1-26: By default, Media Center displays the current songs album art when playing.

Playing CD Music with Media Center


If you have a Media Center PC and insert an audio CD, by default the auto-play dialog box will prompt you to play back the CD with Media Center (refer to Figure 1-9). If you choose this option, Media Center launches and navigates directly to the Now Playing view, with the CD displayed. This is shown in Figure 1-27.

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Figure 1-27: From Media Center, you can play back or even rip (or copy) your audio CDs.

Playing Internet Radio with Media Center


From the Media Center start page, choose Radio to visit the Radio page, as shown in Figure 1-28. What you see here will depend largely on which services and hardware you have installed on your system. Unfortunately, there was no interface to MSN Radio at the time this book was written, though I expect it to be added by the time you read this, so youd have to be a member of a subscription radio service like Napster to access Internet radio from within Media Center. Napsters service is shown in Figure 1-29. Also, if your Media Center PC has a hardware radio tuner installed, you will see an interface for FM radio stations.

Note
One cool feature of Media Center is how well it integrates with WMP10. For example, if youre playing music in WMP10 and decide youd like to enjoy that same music in Media Center instead, you can just launch Media Center and the music keeps playing, without a hitch or pause.

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Figure 1-28: The Media Center Radio screen.

Figure 1-29: Napster is just one of many online services to offer streaming Internet radio services.

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Having Fun with Media Playback: A Guide to the Best Windows Media Player Add-ons
In addition to the basic audio playback features discussed throughout this chapter, a number of playback features such as playlists and queues are covered in future chapters. But there are also a number of things you can do to have a bit of fun when playing back digital music, regardless of the source. In this section, youll examine some of those features.

Using Visualizations to Put a Mesmerizing Face on Your Music


While youre playing back music in WMP10, you can access a number of interesting Now Playing views, most of which are more fully described in Chapter 2. By default, when you play music and switch to Now Playing, youre presented with the Info Center View, shown in Figure 1-30. This view shows the album art for the current song along with other related information.

Figure 1-30: The Info Center view is useful, if utilitarian.

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However, you can also display pretty animated visualizations, which dance across the screen in various patterns, colors, and geometric shapes. WMP10 ships with a wide number of visualizations, but unfortunately theyre a bit hidden. Heres how you turn them on. First, start playing back some music. This can be a local file, a streaming file, or even a song from an Internet radio station. Then navigate to Now Playing and click the Now Playing Options button, which can be found to the left of the text that reads Info Center View, as shown in Figure 1-31.

Figure 1-31: Select a visualization to spice things up a bit.

To display a visualization, choose Visualizations and then the name of the visualization you want. For example, if you choose Visualizations, then Battery, and then Randomize, WMP10 will resemble Figure 1-32. Experiment with the various visualizations you have and find the one you like the most. Better yet, check out full screen mode, which is particularly nice for visualizations. To enable this mode, either click the View Full Screen button near the top of the WMP10 window or press Alt+Enter. To leave full screen, strike the Esc key.

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Figure 1-32: Visualizations are pretty animated graphics.

Tip
Media Center users can display visualizations too and, as you might expect, the visualizations you can access from Media Center are identical to those offered by WMP10.

Geek Out with Plus! Dancer (Windows Dancer in MCE 2005)


If you purchased Microsoft Plus! Digital Media Edition (www.microsoft.com/windows/plus/dme/ dmehome.asp) or a Media Center PC running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, you have access to a fun new feature called Plus! Dancer (Windows Dancer in Media Center Edition; Ill just call it Dancer from now on). This neat little screen hack presents a funny little character, or characters, that you can place onscreen wherever youd like. As music plays in WMP10, the character begins dancing as shown in Figure 1-33. To change Dancer settings, click the Dancer tray icon.

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Figure 1-33: The Dancer dances as the music plays.

Have a Party with Plus! Party Mode (Windows Party Mode in MCE 2005)
Another neat feature thats available in both Plus! Digital Media Edition and Windows XP Media Center Edition is Plus! Party Mode (Windows Party Mode in Media Center). Party Mode provides a fun full-screen front-end for WMP10 that turns your PC into a digital jukebox thats perfect for parties. Heres how it works. You run Party Mode and configure it using a settings page, shown in Figure 1-34, which determines how much access your party guests will have to the song selection, what skin to display, and other options.

Figure 1-34: Party Mode lets you use your PC as an entertainment center during parties and other events.

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Then press Start Party to ...ahem... start the party. In its full screen display, Party Mode offers access to the playlist youve selected, lets guests modify the playlist (if you set up Party Mode to allow that access), lets guests optionally add text to a scrolling marquee, and provides large onscreen knobs for controlling the music. Party Mode is shown in Figure 1-35.

Figure 1-35: Party Mode: Fun or lame, depending on your age, I guess.

Summary
Windows XP with Windows Media Player 10 and, optionally, Media Center Edition 2005, provides a rich environment for playing back music from a variety of sources, including local files, audio CDs, streaming audio, Internet radio, and others. With WMP10, you can listen to music, find radio stations on the Internet, and perform other related tasks. Add Media Center to the mix, and your choices get more visual, with cool TV-based interfaces to popular digital music tasks. Finally, digital media add-ons, like WMP10 Visualizations, Dancers, and Party Mode, can help you take your enjoyment of digital music to the next level. Now that you can use the most basic features of WMP10, its time to turn it up a notch. In Chapter 2, you examine how to configure and tune WMP 10 with playlists, the Now Playing list, skins, plug-ins, and other features.

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Chapter 2

Configuring and Tuning Windows Media Player


indows Media Player 9 Series was very well received by customers, but Microsoft found that its users really wanted it to be even more configurable. So when the development of Windows Media Player 10 began, the company looked at ways in which it could make this version more easily modifiable, giving users a more personalized experience. Thus, the Full Mode window is far more resizable and customizable than it was in WMP9, playlist and queue management is more straightforward, and the sheer number of options has skyrocketed, even while the player itself was made simpler to use. The result, of course, is that a lot of WMP10s power is hidden away. In this chapter, you examine the secrets of configuring and tuning WMP10 to work the way you want it to.

Using the Media Library and Playlists


With this release of WMP, Microsoft attempted to make it easier for you to accomplish common media-related tasks without leaving the Media Library. Dubbed living in the Library by the company, this means that you can pretty much operate from within the Media Library and accomplish tasks such as ripping (copying) audio CDs (covered in Chapter 4), burning (creating) your own custom mix CDs (covered in Chapter 3), synchronizing with portable devices such as portable audio players and Portable Media Centers (Chapter 18), and managing the Now Playing List (later in this chapter). Previously, these tasks required you to move through the different modes supported by WMP. You can still do this if youd like for example, you can click the Sync taskbar button to start synchronizing a portable device but you dont have to. Instead, you can work with an entity called a playlist. But before you can do that, you need to understand how the Media Library is organized.

Taking a Closer Look at the Media Library


When you open up WMP10 and navigate to the Media Library (accessible through the Library taskbar button), youre presented with a view thats similar to Figure 2-1. Dont worry if your Media Library isnt stocked with songs and other media files yet: This represents a mature Media Library, if you will, and youll learn about getting music and other media in there as you work through subsequent chapters.

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Figure 2-1: The WMP10 Media Library aggregates all of the digital media content you have on your PC.

So whats going on here? Well, the Media Library, by default, is divided into three sections, or panes, as you move from left to right: The Contents pane (a tree view control that displays a hierarchical view of your media), the Details pane, which displays the contents of the currently selected node on the Contents pane, and the List pane, which displays the Now Playing List by default, though it can be toggled with other similar lists like the Burn List and the Sync List. Oddly enough, theres actually one more pane, which isnt normally displayed, probably because the Media Library display is messy enough as it is. That pane is called the Media Information pane, and its designed to display more information about the currently selected media file in an attractive way. Most notable, third-party developers who build products on top of WMP10 (like Napster and MSN Music) customize the Media Information pane to provide you with their own information about the currently selected media file. The Media Information pane is shown in Figure 2-2. To display the Media Information pane, click the More Info button, which is found just above the Details pane, to the left of Library Options.

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Figure 2-2: The Media Information pane displays information about the currently playing clip, delivered by the content creator of your choice.

Using the Contents and Details Panes


The Contents pane, as noted previously, contains links to all of your media files, including music (All Music), TV (All TV), video (All Video), and pictures (All Pictures), though most people wont see any content in the All TV node (because most people dont have Media Center PCs). Likewise, Microsoft hides the All Pictures node unless you have a portable device, like a Portable Media Player, that can interact with picture files. The reason Microsoft disables picture support is that it doesnt make a lot of sense to manage digital photos and other pictures with WMP10 unless, of course, you have a device that can display those kinds of files. Thats because Windows XP already includes excellent picture management features (see Chapter 7).

Tip
To enable the All Pictures node, right-click the topmost part of the player, choose Tools Options, and then navigate to the Player tab in the Options dialog, which is displayed by default. Select the final option on that tab, which is titled Enable picture support for devices.

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Anyway, you can expand each node of the Contents pane to display different types of media in the Details pane. By default, when you enter the Media Library, WMP10 will display the All Music node, which is the topmost node in the Contents pane. This node, naturally, displays all of your currently configured music files in the centermost Details pane. You can scroll through this list, double-click songs to play them, and perform other tasks, such as rating songs, and editing song metadata such as artist name, song title, or album title. For now, however, the following table gives you a look at the different nodes available from the Contents pane.

Contents pane node


All Music All Music - Album Artist All Music - Contributing Artist

What it displays
Displays a list of all of your music and audio files. Displays an alphabetical list of the artists who are credited with being the primary artist on one or more albums. Displays an alphabetical list of the artists who are credited with being a contributing artist on one or more albums (for example, soundtrack albums). Displays an alphabetical list of people who are listed as having composed one or more songs on one or more albums. Displays an alphabetical list of album titles. Displays an alphabetical list of music genres (Pop, Rock, Soundtrack, and so on). Displays a chronological list of years for which your Media Library has one or more albums that were released in each year. Displays a list of songs that have received 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 star ratings, and songs that are unrated. Displays a list of songs you have purchased from online music services, broken down alphabetically by service name (see Chapter 6). Displays a list of all recorded TV shows. You examine recorded TV shows in Chapter 16. Displays a list of the recorded TV shows you have not yet viewed. Displays an alphabetical list of shows for which you are recording a series, and not an individual show (The Simpsons or The Sopranos). Displays an alphabetical list of recorded TV genres (Animated, Kids; Comedy, Series; Educational, Kids; and so on). Displays a chronological list of all of the TV shows youve recorded. Displays an alphabetical list of all of the actors who are listed as being in all of the TV shows you have recorded.

All Music - Composer All Music - Album All Music - Genre All Music - Year Released All Music - Rated Songs All Music - Purchased Music

All TV All TV - Not Yet Viewed All TV - Series

All TV - Genre All TV - Date Recorded All TV - Actors

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Contents pane node
All TV - Rated TV

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What it displays
Displays a list of recorded TV shows that have received 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 star ratings, and those that are unrated (the latter is the norm; unlike songs, its unlikely that many people will take the time to rate TV shows). Displays a list of all digital video. Displays an alphabetical list of all of the actors, who are listed as being in all of the digital video you have. Displays an alphabetical list of digital video genres (Plus! Photo Story, and so on). Displays a list of digital videos that have received 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 star ratings and those that are unrated (as with recorded TV, the latter is the norm). Displays a list of digital videos you have purchased or subscribed to from a service such as CinemaNow (see Chapter 13). Displays a list of all photos and other digital images. Displays a list of all photos sorted by event (based on your own organizational style, as described in Chapter 7). Displays a list of all photos sorted by date taken (using the time and date stamp supplied by a digital camera, or the time and date that a paper-based photo was scanned). The list is sorted by year and then photo. Displays a list of photos that have received 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1 star ratings and those that are unrated (as with recorded TV, the latter is the norm). Displays a list of other media types that arent natively supported by WMP10. Displays a list of the playlists youve manually created, not Auto Playlists, which are discussed below. Displays a list of the playlists that WMP10 automatically generates (such as Favorites 4 and 5 star rated, Fresh tracks, Music tracks I have not rated, and so on). Displays the Now Playing list in the Details pane (you examine the Now Playing List later in this chapter).

All Video All Video - Actors All Video - Genre All Video - Rated Video

All Video - Purchased Videos

All Pictures All Pictures - Event All Pictures - Date Taken

All Pictures - Rated Pictures

Other Media My Playlists Auto Playlists

Now Playing

Navigating the Contents pane is pretty straightforward: You can expand and contract nodes by clicking the little plus and minus signs you see next to each node, and if you display a sublist in the Details pane, you can double-click it to navigate further in. However you do it, youre essentially TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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filtering the list of media files that you will display in the Details pane. Sometimes as with All Music the list will be quite large. Other times (Other Media comes to mind), it will be quite small or even empty.

Working with Playlists


The default Media Library views are nice, but sometimes you want something a little more customized. For example, while its nice to display a list of every single song by a group like Van Halen, oftentimes what you really want to do is create a list that includes only those Van Halen songs you like, or maybe only certain Van Halen songs that meet a certain criteria (such as the ballads). To accomplish this need, WMP10 includes a construct call a playlist. A playlist is simply a list of songs that can be played by WMP10. Playlists can be transitory that is, not saved to disk and therefore not easily reacquired later or they can be permanent, because youve given them a name and saved them. The Now Playing List, which is a list of all songs currently queued up for playback, is an example of the former. However, you can save the Now Playing List as a playlist, and then it becomes an example of the latter.

CREATING A PLAYLIST WITH DRAG AND DROP


There are a couple of ways to create a new playlist. The first method is to right-click the My Playlists node in the Contents pane and select New. When you do, the List pane changes to display New Playlist, as shown in Figure 2-3.

Figure 2-3: When you create a new playlist, the List pane changes to display a new, empty playlist.

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Then navigate through the songs in the Details pane and drag any songs that youd like in the playlist over to the List pane, just as you would when dragging and dropping files in Windows Explorer. As you add songs to the List pane, they are added to the new playlist, which, as of now, doesnt have a name (Figure 2-4).

Figure 2-4: As you drag songs from the Details pane into the List pane, they are added to your new playlist.

After youre done dragging and dropping songs, you can save your playlist by clicking the New Playlist button at the top of the List pane and choosing Save Playlist As. A standard Save As dialog box will appear, pointed to the My Playlists folder under My Music (inside of My Documents), allowing you to give the playlist any name youd like. Playlists are saved with a .wpl (Windows Playlist) extension which, by default, is opened with WMP. Click Save to save your playlist. Then notice that the playlist has been added to the My Playlists node in the Contents pane.

CREATING A PLAYLIST BY SELECTING SONGS


If youre navigating the Media Library and see a bunch of songs youd like to add to a new playlist, however, you can start a new playlist a different way. What you need to do is select a group of songs, right-click, and then choose Add to, and then Additional Playlists. When you do this, the Add to Playlist dialog box appears (see Figure 2-5). Then, you click the New button to create and name the new playlist, and click OK to close the dialog. The new playlist appears in the Contents pane below Playlists.

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Figure 2-5: When you right-click songs and choose Add to Additional Playlists, you can access the Add to Playlist dialog.

RENAMING A PLAYLIST
To rename a playlist youve created, find it under the My Playlists node in the Contents pane, select it, and press F2. This will highlight the name of the playlist, as shown in Figure 2-6, allowing you to type a new name or edit the existing name, just as you do with folders, files, and shortcuts in Windows Explorer.

Figure 2-6: You can rename playlists just as you do files and folders in Windows Explorer.

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Alternatively, you can perform a delicate double-click maneuver to rename the playlist. As before, find the playlist youd like to rename, click it once to select it, wait a second, and then click it again. If you do this too fast, youll double-click it, which will load that playlist into the Details pane (and to the Now Playing List, described below, if thats selected in the List pane) and begin playing it. But if you do it just right, youll get the same highlight effect discussed in the previous paragraph. You might be wondering whether renaming a playlist renames the file you saved. Its easy enough to check: Simply navigate to My Music and then My Playlists. Survey says ...Nope. The original name remains. However, you can rename this file as well, if youd like. WMP10 will always pick up whatever playlists are found in My Music\My Playlists.

SETTING PLAYLIST OPTIONS


While youre playing a playlist in WMP10, you might want to set some playback options. For example, you can shuffle the list so that songs play randomly, and you can determine whether songs should repeat after theyve already played once. To see which options are available, load up a playlist and make sure the Now Playing List is displayed in the List pane (if it isnt, click the drop-down list at the top of the List pane and choose Now Playing List. Now click the Now Playlist List button, which resembles that shown in Figure 2-7.

Figure 2-7: You can access a wide range of options for the Now Playing List from this handy dropdown menu.

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Here you can choose from the following playlist options (other options are available as well; however, these are not related to playing back playlists): Clear List This clears the Now Playing List, as described later in this chapter, but does not erase or change the contents of your saved playlist. This option can be handy if you want to create or select a new playlist. Repeat This is a toggle option that can be on or off. Its off by default, meaning that each song in your playlist will play just once. When every song has played, playback stops and you get to listen to silence for a while. If its on, songs will repeat and the playlist wont stop playing until you stop it manually. Play Shuffled This option plays back the songs in your playlist in a random order. Like Repeat, it can be on or off, and is off by default. When you choose this option, the order of the songs in your playlist doesnt change, but playback no longer progresses linearly, moving instead from song to song in a random fashion. Shuffle List Now This option shuffles the order of the songs in your playlist visually in the List pane, so you can see the new arrangement of songs. Then, playback occurs normally, moving from song to song in the new order. Note that this option wont save the song order changes back to your playlist: If you clear the list and reload it into WMP10, the original order will be retained. However, you can always save a reshuffled playlist if you want by choosing the Now Playing List button and then selecting Save Playlist As and saving it as the same name. Sort This option lets you sort the playlist by name, artist, album, rating, or filename. (Yeah, that last choice makes a lot of sense, eh?) As with Shuffle List Now, no changes are made to the saved playlist, only to the live version currently occupying the Now Playing List. Edit Using Playlist Editor This option brings up WMP10s Edit Playlist dialog, which gives you an alternative approach to editing a playlist, as shown in Figure 2-8. Basically, the editor is divided into two panes, the View Library pane on the left and the Playlist pane on the right. You choose songs from the View Library pane and copy them into the Playlist pane (and, thus, the playlist) by selecting them. You can also select songs in the Playlist pane and click the Delete button (the red X) to remove them from the playlist (but not from the Media Library). To rearrange the order of songs, select a song in the playlist and click Move Up (the blue up-pointing arrow) or Move Down (the blue down-pointing arrow). Click OK when youre done.

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Figure 2-8: The Playlist Editor is a sort of redundant way to edit playlists.

Understanding the Now Playing List


I havent really discussed one of the key underlying principles behind a lot of the work youre doing here, but that time has come. In addition to the concept of a saved list of songs, called a playlist, WMP10 uses more transitory (live and non-saved) playlists for other purposes. The most important and common of these is the Now Playing List. The Now Playing List, as you might imagine, is a list of songs that are currently queued up to play right now. So, if you load a playlist from disk into WMP10, that playlist, effectively, becomes the Now Playing List. But the Now Playing List isnt always that organized. Oftentimes, its simply created by double-clicking a song in the Media Library, one that gasp is not associated with a playlist at all. When words fail, try a demonstration. In WMP10, clear the current playlist by clicking the Select List Options button (which might be listed as Now Playing List) and choose Clear List. Now, click the button again and choose Now Playing List. The list, as you can see, is empty. That means that there are no songs queued into the Now Playing List. Now, randomly select a song from the Media Library in the Details pane and doubleclick. This has two effects. First, the song begins to play. Second, all of the songs in the Details pane are added to the Now Playing List, with the currently playing song highlighted. OK, choose the Select List Options button again and select Clear List. The music stops playing and the Now Playing List is cleared. Now, lets add just specific songs to the Now Playing List. As before, select a song (or songs) from the Details pane of the Media Library. But this time, drag them over to the Now Playing List using your drag and drop skills, you Windows expert you. When you release the songs in the List pane, the first song begins playing and the songs you added are listed as the Now Playing List.

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With the song still playing, find some more songs and drag them over too. Instead of replacing the existing list, they are queued up, or added to the end of the Now Playing List, as shown in Figure 2-9. In this way, you can keep adding songs to your hearts content.

Figure 2-9: WMP10 enables you to add songs to existing playlists.

You can also drag songs to specific points in the Now Playing List (as you can with any other playlist thats currently playing); you dont have to drag them to the end of the list. When you drag the songs over, simply position them where you want them in the list: A small line will appear, indicating where the songs will be placed (Figure 2-10). Likewise, you can drag and drop songs within the Now Playing List (or other currently playing playlists) to rearrange their playback order. From here, you can perform a number of actions. You can use any of the playlist options described in the previous section, like shuffle or repeat. You can burn or sync the Now Playing List (described later). You can also save the Now Playing List as a playlist, or edit the list with the Playlist Editor. In the end, the Now Playing List is just another playlist, albeit a special one that youll work with regularly.

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Figure 2-10: You can also place new songs discretely within the Now Playing List, wherever youd like them.

Understanding the Burn List


In addition to the Now Playing List, WMP10 manages two other important but transitory playlists. The first is the Burn List, which contains a list of songs that you intend to burn to CD or DVD. The Burn List works just like any other playlist, and you can choose to display the Burn List by clicking the Select List Options buttons and picking Burn List. Then, drag and drop songs or other media to your hearts content. When youre ready to burn, click the Start Burn button at the bottom of the List pane. I discuss this topic in much more detail in Chapter 3.

Understanding the Sync List


The final special playlist is called the Sync List. Like the Burn List, this playlist works just like any other playlist, but the Sync List is designed to build a list of media that you wish to copy to a portable audio or media player, like a Dell Digital Jukebox (DJ), Creative Zen Portable Media Center, or a Rio Carbon. When youre ready to synchronize, click the Start Sync button at the bottom of the List pane. I discuss this topic in much more detail in Chapter 18.

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You can also access your Media Library, and any saved playlists, using the Quick Access Panel, which is available by clicking the small arrow button found to the right of the Now Playing button in the WMP10 toolbar. This presents a dropdown list version of the Media Library, which is generally useful only if youve resized the main WMP window to be so small that you cant see the Media Library. That way, your Media Library is always available, no matter what the window looks like. Interestingly, this Quick Access Panel is also available when the player is minimized to a taskbar toolbar, as described in Chapter 1.

Customizing Windows Media Player


When you launch Windows Media Player, the player will start up in the mode in which it was last used. The Full Mode window presents the most options, but it can also take up a lot of space. You can resize WMP by using your mouse to seize the grab handle in the lower right corner of the window and moving it in and out from its original location. This enables you to reduce the size of the original window dramatically or, if you prefer, make it larger so that you have more screen real estate to work with. You can also maximize the WMP window, which then displays its normally hidden menu bar.

Displaying or Accessing the Menu Bar


On a related note, unlike most other Windows XP windows, the WMP10 window does not display a menu bar by default. You can re-enable that feature, or simply access it when needed, in a variety of situations. To display the menu bar on the fly, simply press a related key command. For example, to access the File menu in virtually any Windows application, you simply type Alt+F . Well, that key command works fine in WMP10 as well, even when the menu bar is hidden. If you press the Esc key twice while the menu is displayed, the menu will hide again.

Tip
Each of the menu items has a similar keyboard shortcut. To access the View menu, choose Alt+V. To access the Play menu, choose Alt+P. To access the Tools menu, choose Alt+T. And to access the Help menu, choose Alt+H.

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OK, so maybe youre not the keyboard shortcut kind of person. Thats just fine: WMP10 supports a more visual approach to enabling the menu as well. Next to the standard Minimize, Maximize, and Close window buttons in the upper right corner of the WMP10 window, WMP10 sports a unique fourth button that resembles a downward-point arrow. This button, dubbed the Access Application Menus button, lets you access the standard menu system through a cascading pop-up menu. When you click it, the menu appears (see Figure 2-11).

Figure 2-11: Even though the menu bar is turned off by default in WMP10, you can still access it through the handy new Access Application Menus button.

Still not good enough? OK, fine. If you simply must go old-school on me and display the menu system permanently, you can do so, though frankly I think the clean look of the default player is much nicer. There are two ways to permanently enable the menu system. First, you can place the player in full screen mode, which always displays the menu. Or, you can choose View, then Menu Bar Options, and then Show Menu Bar, using one of the methods highlighted above to actually find the menu in the first place.

Note
In Windows Media Player 9 Series, the default was Autohide Menu Bar, which was more annoying than anything. I like the Hide option the best.

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Hiding and Displaying the List Pane


WMP10 is designed so that the List pane is always visible (well, unless the player is in full screen mode, during which time the List pane is optional), but that might not always be what you want. Depending on the type of media youre playing, it might be worthwhile to turn this feature off to maximize the viewing area for visualizations or DVD movies. Fortunately, the List pane can be easily toggled, and Figure 2-12 shows the Now Playing view with and without the List pane. The simplest way to toggle this pane is to click the Video and Visualization Pane button, located just to the left of the Now Playing List button. Clicking this button again will redisplay the List pane.

Figure 2-12: Now you see it, now you dont: WMP with and without the PlayList.

Note that you can also adjust the width of the List pane by grabbing its leftmost border with the mouse and dragging it left or right. This is shown in Figure 2-13. Combined, each of these options makes it easy to customize the Full Mode window as you see fit. In the next section, you look at other ways in which you might customize WMP10.

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Figure 2-13: The List pane can be expanded, width-wise.

Using Windows Media Player Enhancements


In WMP10, Microsoft tried to simplify the user interface a bit when compared to the previous version, so many of the features that were more easily found in Windows Media Player 9 Series are hidden in list of Enhancements. WMP10 Enhancements perform a number of useful functions. You look at them all here. To access the various Enhancements that Microsoft includes with WMP10, select View, then Enhancements, and then the Enhancement youd like to display. To display the Enhancements pane, you can simply choose View, Enhancements, and then Show Enhancements. To close the Enhancements pane, click the small Close button found in the upper right corner of the pane (it resembles a blue X). The Enhancements pane is shown in Figure 2-14.

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Figure 2-14: The Enhancements pane provides access to many cool WMP10 features.

CHANGING THE COLOR OF WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER


One of the cooler features of Windows Media Player 9 Series was that you could easily change the color of the media players window frame, or chrome, as Microsoft calls it, using a button found right on the player itself. In WMP10, that button is gone. But that doesnt mean you cant change the color of the player this time around. Instead, that option is just better hidden among the Enhancements. To access the color changing feature, select the Color Chooser Enhancement, as shown in Figure 2-15. From here, you can use the Hue and Saturation sliders to give WMP10 a custom color. This is particularly nice if youve chosen a non-standard XP skin or are tired of the endless series of blue colors Microsoft seems to like so much. To reset the player to its original Energy Blue color, click the Reset link.

Figure 2-15: The Color Chooser enables you to modify the color of the WMP10 user interface.

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You can also move through a series of preset colors by using the Next preset link, and make WMP10 more visually resemble previous WMP versions by selecting Use black as Player background color, which I dont recommend.

SETTING CROSSFADING AND AUTOMATIC VOLUME LEVELING OPTIONS


By default, WMP10 doesnt fade songs into one another. That means that a song will completely play through to its conclusion, and then the next song will start up, with no aural overlap between the two. If youre interested in cross-fading songs, the Crossfading and Volume Leveling Enhancement (Figure 2-16) will help.

Figure 2-16: This Enhancement enables you to configure crossfading and automatic volume leveling.

Here, you can turn on crossfading and then determine how many sections of overlap there will be between songs. I usually set this at 3 to 5 seconds. You can also set a volume leveling feature. This feature is handy, because many media files are recorded at different volume levels, and it can be jarring sometimes when you move from song to song. Two caveats to this feature: First, it works only with MP3 and WMA audio files. Second, it can make some songs sound a bit muddy in my experience. I usually just leave it off.

USING THE WMP10 GRAPHICS EQUALIZER


If youre interested in the ultimate amount of control over how songs sound when played back through WMP10, youll enjoy its Graphic Equalizer Enhancement, shown in Figure 2-14, which enables you to tune the player according to presets like Rock, Pop, and Grunge, or fine-tune sound output using individual equalizer bars. You can then save your custom setting as a preset, you audio geek you. This pane can also be used to change the sound output balance if needed, which frankly should only be used if one of your speakers is not performing well. Im of a mixed mind on the graphics equalizer. Sure enough, most of my rock songs sound better with the Rock equalizer choice. But over time, I find some of the sonic irregularities caused by this thing to be annoying, and I usually end up just turning it off. On the other hand, the Graphic Equalizer can make a big difference for low-end speakers, like those found in the typical portable computer. So you should experiment with this option a bit.

SHARING A MEDIA CLIP WITH A FRIEND


This is kind of an interesting, albeit limited, option that lets you share songs and other media (or parts of songs and other media files) with friends. However, those songs cannot be stored locally (on your PCs hard drive), which is the limitation. Instead, you must find media available on a shared network resource, or on the Internet.

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To show you how this works, Im going to access a file stored on a different desktop computer on my home network, a process thats a bit beyond the scope of this book. However, consider the following basic information: When you click F3 in WMP to find media files, you can point the player at local files, sure, but also at remote files found in My Network Places. In this case, Ive set up a share on a different PC that contains music and other audio files. Then Ive used F3 in WMP10 to find those files. When you select such a file in WMP10, you can use the Media Link for E-Mail Enhancement to send a link to that file to someone else via e-mail (see Figure 2-17). In the case of a file stored on my home network, that person will need to have access to the network share as well.

Figure 2-17: If you can locate a network- or Internet-based clip, you can send a link to it via e-mail to a friend.

To send a link to the file through e-mail, simply click the Send media link in e-mail link. This will launch your e-mail application, open a new mail window, and attach a link to the media clip in ASX format, as shown in Figure 2-18. You can fill out the name of the recipient and add any other information you want, and then send it along.

Figure 2-18: WMP10 enables you to send linked clips through your favorite e-mail program.

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If you open the Media Link.asx file in Notepad, youll see an XML-like file that includes a lot of information about the file youre linking to, including the location on the network where the file can be found. This information is shown in Figure 2-19 in case youre morbidly curious.

Figure 2-19: The ASX file is an XML-like document that identifies the location of the clip youd like to send.

But you can do more than just send a link to the whole file. You can also just send a link to part of the file via e-mail, and edit down the original using video editing-like controls called Mark In and Mark Out. Heres how it works. You begin playing the clip and then click the Mark In link where you want the edited file to begin. Then, you click Mark Out where you want playback to end. You can change the speed of playback, to make this editing more precise, using the Slow, Normal, and Fast links. Now, when your recipient gets the Media Link.asx file via e-mail, they will only hear the portion of the file you want them to hear. And the original file wasnt changed at all. Well, that was a lot of work for a feature that virtually no one will ever use. Ah well.

SETTING THE PLAYBACK SPEED


To adjust the speed of audio playback in music files, audio books, videos, DVDs, and other media types, you can access the Play Speed Settings Enhancement, shown in Figure 2-20. This Enhancement is particularly interesting for two scenarios. First, you may have an audio book (from a source such as Audible.com) where the reader speaks too slowly or quickly. This enables you to alter the speed to suit your preference. Second, you might have a video that you need to watch, but only a limited amount of time to do it in. If youd still like to get all the content, but need to make it happen more quickly without turning all of the players into chipmunks, this is your tool. Thats because speeding up the playback speed doesnt distort the voices; it just makes them faster.

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Figure 2-20: Even though youre speeding up or slowing down playback, the audio is still perfectly understandable.

Play Speed Settings includes presets such as Slow, Normal, and Fast, but you can also move forward (or backward) through a clip at any speed from -16 to 16, where 1.0 is normal. Common speeds like 1.4 (that is, almost half again as fast as normal speed), 2.0 (double speed), and 0.5 (half speed) are called out nicely on a sliding scale.

USING QUIET MODE


The Quiet Mode Enhancement enables you to configure the dynamic range of audio played back by WMP10 or, in less technical terms, lets you adjust the difference between the loudest and softest sounds. If you turn on Quiet Mode, the overall sound level is more uniform, or steady, and you wont be jolted by suddenly loud passages, or unable to hear very soft ones. Its a great feature for headphone users. You can also determine if there is a medium or little difference between loud and soft sounds when Quiet Mode is enabled.

ENABLING SRS WOW EFFECTS


The SRS WOW Effects Enhancement, shown in Figure 2-21, enables you to toggle some amazing audio enhancement features that come to WMP10 courtesy of the audio geniuses at SRS Labs. According to the company:
SRS WOW is a special combination of SRS audio technologies that creates a thrilling immersive sound experience with deep rich bass from mono or stereo sound sources. Your audio sounds fuller, richer and wider. Based on the elements of the flagship SRS 3D technology, WOW restores the spatial cues and ambient information that is lost during standard stereo playback. It includes TruBass, a patented bass enhancement technology that offers a dramatic improvement in bass tones that are often lost during compression or are unable to be delivered by small speakers.

In other words, SRS WOW is going to have a big impact in the small speakers that are typically used by most headphones, portable computers, and even many desktop computers. However, SRS WOW also makes a difference with larger speakers as well.

Figure 2-21: SRS Labs WOW effects enhance the bass and stereo effects on two speaker systems.

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When you enable SRS WOW, you need to configure your speaker type (normal speakers, large speakers, or headphones) to get the best sound quality. Then, you can determine how much TruBass and WOW Effect to add, using sliders. TruBass enhances bass, while WOW Effect enhances the overall stereo effect.

On the Web
For more information about SRS WOW, please visit the informative SRS Labs Web site at www .srslabs.com.

SETTING VIDEO SETTINGS


The final WMP10 Enhancement, Video Settings (see Figure 2-22), enables you to configure such settings as the hue, saturation, brightness, and contrast for video playback. You can also select video zoom settings, though those options are available in the Now Playing view whenever a video source is being played.

Figure 2-22: Here you can configure the hue, saturation, brightness, and contrast of video playback in WMP10.

Using Skin Mode


In addition to Full Mode and the wonderful taskbar toolbar mode, WMP also works in a Skin Mode, through which you can use a variety of skins, or custom user interfaces, to dramatically alter the look and feel of the player; an example is shown in Figure 2-23. Most skins use only a subset of the full functionality of the player, but which options are available are skin dependent. You will generally see options for playing, pausing, jumping to the previous or next song, and the like. However, some options, such as the visualization, graphic equalizer, or playlist displays, are available only in certain skins. Skins arent meant to be used when you need to configure the player or manage your media files. Instead, you will generally use a skin when youre just playing music, such as a shuffled list of songs in a playlist, or all of the songs on a single CD. Frankly, given the new resizing options in WMP10, and the generally awful state of most skins theyre just ugly, to my eyes skins arent as exciting as they once were. And indeed, Microsoft has downplayed skins in this release, and made it much harder to find the different skins you might want to display.

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Figure 2-23: A typical WMP skin, which offers a smaller size than Full Mode, but with reduced functionality. This particular skin comes with Windows Media Center 2005.

CHOOSING A SKIN
To choose a skin, select View and then Skin Chooser. The list of available skins will appear, with the current selection highlighted, as shown in Figure 2-24.

Figure 2-24: The Skin Chooser enables you to pick a skin, delete skins, and find more skins on the Internet.

There are a couple of ways to test the new skin. Double-clicking a skin name in the list will automatically change the player to Skin Mode, using that skin. You can also select a skin and then press the Apply Skin button.

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EXAMINING THE SKIN GALLERY


The following skins are included in WMP10 and various Windows XP versions. If you see a skin listed as being for XP Media Center Edition 2005 and you own a previous version of XP, you might have to purchase Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP or and Plus! for Windows XP separately to obtain that skin (see www.microsoft.com/plus/ for details).

Skin name
9SeriesDefault

What it looks like

Aquarium (Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and Plus! for Windows XP only)

Atomic

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Skin name
Bluesky

What it looks like

Canvas

Classic

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Skin name
Compact

63

What it looks like

Corporate

DaVinci (XP MCE 2005 and Plus! for Windows XP only)

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Skin name
Goo

What it looks like

Headspace

Heart

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Skin name
Iconic

65

What it looks like

Leaves (XP MCE 2005 and Plus! for Windows XP only)

Miniplayer

Optik

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Skin name
Plus! Bionic Dot (XP MCE 2005 and Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP only)

What it looks like

Plus! Hard Boiled (XP MCE 2005 and Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP only)

Plus! HueShifter (XP MCE 2005 and Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP only)

Plus! Mecha (XP MCE 2005 andPlus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP only)

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Skin name
Plus! PlasmaBall (XP MCE 2005 and Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP only)

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What it looks like

Plus! Professional (XP MCE 2005 and Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP only)

Plus! Pulsar (XP MCE 2005 and Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP only)

Plus! Slimline (XP MCE 2005 and Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP only)

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Skin name
Pyrite

What it looks like

QuickSilver

Radio

Revert

Roundlet

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Skin name
Rusty

69

What it looks like

Space (XP MCE 2005 and Plus! for Windows XP only)

Splat

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Skin name
Toothy

What it looks like

Windows Classic

Windows XP

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ACCESSING WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER FEATURES FROM SKIN MODE


Just because most skins visually offer a vastly reduced set of functionality when compared to Full Mode doesnt mean you cant still access at least some of the more important options. The key is the infamous right-click, which has been a staple of the Windows world since Windows 95. While in Skin Mode, right-click anywhere on the skin to access the players right-click menu, shown in Figure 2-25.

Figure 2-25: The WMP Properties menu is available in Skin Mode so that you can find options that might be hidden by the skin.

SWITCHING BETWEEN SKIN AND FULL MODE


If youre into keyboard commands, you can type Ctrl+2 at any time to switch to Skin Mode. You can also press Ctrl+1 to switch back to Full Mode.

FINDING NEW SKINS


If youd like a wider selection of skins than those supplied with WMP, click the More Skins button that appears near the top of the Skin Chooser page in WMP. This will spawn a browser window, which displays the WMP Skin Gallery Web site. This site currently offers dozens of skins, so you should be able to find something you like. But I still think most skins are lousy. Your mileage will vary.

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DELETING A SKIN
To delete a skin from the list of available skins, select that skin and then press the Delete button, which is curiously unlabeled. It looks like a red X and is found to the right of the More Skins button in the Skin Chooser.

Configuring Windows Media Player Options


One of the huge improvements in WMP10 is the sheer number of customizable features and options when compared with previous version. In this section you look at the Options dialog, accessible from the WMP Tools menu, where you will make most configuration changes.

Setting Player Options


The Player options tab, shown in Figure 2-26, is where youll go to set up some of the more general options for WMP. The Automatic Updates section determines how often the player will look for updates on the Internet. The default is Once a week, which should be fine for most users, unless you dont have an Internet connection. If you have a cable modem account, you might want to set it to Once a day.

Figure 2-26: The Player options tab lets you customize updates and general player settings.

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You can also determine whether the player downloads and installs codec updates automatically, which is the default, or whether it should notify you if a new codec becomes available. A codec is a data file that tells the player how to work with particular media types. For example, WMP ships with a codec for Windows Media Audio (WMA) format, among many others: This codec allows the player to record and play audio in that format. The Player settings section includes a few basic options regarding the player itself. The first option determines whether WMP is always displayed on top of other windows, which I dont recommend. An odd option determines whether an anchor window is displayed when the player is in Skin Mode; this is on by default. The anchor window is the small square box you might see when in Skin Mode; it sits at the bottom right of the screen. Microsoft added this as a default because its possible that the skin youre using doesnt include a Return to Full Mode button. While this is indeed possible, Ive never actually seen a skin like this, and I find the anchor window to be annoying, so I recommend that you leave this option unchecked. The Add music files to library when played option is a crucial one. I recommend leaving this option checked, if only because there is no easy way otherwise to add media to the Media Library without manually searching your system for new media every time you buy a new CD or digital music online. However, the Include files from removable media and network folders option should probably remain unchecked. Removable media includes CDs, PocketPC devices, USB flash disks and portable audio devices like the Rio Carbon. Its unlikely that media on such devices will be attached to your system permanently, so its better to leave them out of your Media Library and avoid any nasty error messages. The Prompt me to back up my licenses option refers to the various Digital Rights Media (DRM) licenses that WMP10 can acquire as you purchase music and other media online. In general, its a good idea to let the system back these up automatically. You should probably leave the Connect to the Internet option checked; this will make it easier for WMP to identify audio CDs and DVD movies you insert into your PC, and to find software updates. The final option on this tab, Enable picture support for devices is unchecked by default, because most people still dont have portable audio devices, let alone more powerful portable devices like Portable Media Centers that can display photos as well as play music. However, if you have such a device, you should check this option. When you do, the All Pictures node is added to the tree view in the List pane of WMP10.

Setting Rip Music Options


The Rip Music tab, shown in Figure 2-27, relates to music thats copied to your PC from audio CDs. I cover this dialog, and this topic, thoroughly in Chapter 4.

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Figure 2-27: The Rip Music options tab enables you to specify where music is stored on your system and change ripping options.

Setting Devices Options


The Devices tab, shown in Figure 2-28, allows you to configure devices that interoperate with WMP, such as your speakers and display; recordable and non-recordable CD devices (CD, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, and DVD-RAM); USB flash disks; PocketPCs; portable audio players like the Rio Carbon; and other devices like Portable Media Centers. I discuss these options as they relate to CD devices in Chapter 3, and for portable devices in Chapter 18. The Advanced button, in particular, relates to portable devices.

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Figure 2-28: The Devices tab enables you to configure CD drives, speakers, portable devices, and other digital media-related hardware that you attach to your PC.

Setting Performance Options


The Performance tab presents options related to the players networking performance, as shown in Figure 2-29. For the most part, you can leave these options set to their default values. The following sections take a quick look at whats here.

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Figure 2-29: The Performance options tab is all about networking and video performance, not the general performance of the player.

CONNECTION SPEED
In the Connection speed section, you can determine whether the player automatically detects your speed which is recommended, both by Microsoft and me or through a manual setting. The manual settings include such choices as 28.8 Kbps modem and 768 Kbps DSL/cable. Just leave it set to the default, as theres absolutely no reason to be tinkering with something that can be far more accurately determined by the technology.

NETWORK BUFFERING
Like the connection speed, Network buffering is something best left alone: Buffering determines how much of a streaming media file is downloaded before it begins playing. Buffering is what makes streaming media work otherwise, network glitches and downtime would cause streaming media to stutter and skip far more often than it does. If you dont like the way buffering is working that is, youre experiencing all kinds of skipping and pausing you might want to manually set this option. You can enter a value of up to 60 seconds. But generally, its best to just leave it as is.

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VIDEO ACCELERATION
The Video acceleration option determines how the player works in full screen mode, which is generally best used for DVD movies, as explained in Chapter 10. It can be set to three options: No video acceleration, Some video acceleration, or Full video acceleration. In general, you will want this set to Full video acceleration, unless youre experiencing video playback problems. If this happens, try moving the slider to the middle choice, Some video acceleration. If that fails, youre probably using an older or unsupported 3D card, and you should select No video acceleration. Video acceleration includes an Advanced button, which launches the Video Acceleration Settings dialog, shown in Figure 2-30. This dialog box enables you to set more advanced options for streaming and WMV format video, and DVD video.

Figure 2-30: The Video Acceleration Settings dialog box allows you to configure how video files and DVDs are played back.

The Video Acceleration section enables you to control whether the player can go into full screen mode while playing video files. And the DVD Video section includes an option for choosing a hardware or software decoder. Both of these options are generally best left to their defaults, as WMP will auto-detect the capabilities of your system. But if you have a hardware DVD decoder (more and more uncommon these days) and the system hasnt automatically detected it, this is the place to go. Changing any of these settings will require the player to be restarted.

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Setting Media Library Options


The Library tab, shown in Figure 2-31, enables you to determine how the Media Library behaves.

Figure 2-31: The Library options tab lets you configure how the Media Library interacts with external applications and Web sites.

Setting Plug-ins Options


The Plug-ins options tab lets you configure any WMP plug-ins you may have installed. Plug-ins are small utilities designed to work within WMP10, and WMP10 ships with a number of them by default. Actually, the only plug-ins that WMP10 ships with are visualizations, which are colorful, animated displays that can optionally be displayed while youre listening to music. But you can install other plug-ins in WMP10. For example, when you install Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP, you get a number of non-visualization plug-ins, including a sleep timer, an alarm clock, an audio converter, and a CD label maker, among others. Also, if you join an online music service like Napster or MusicMatch, many of those services install their own plug-ins. Microsoft ships a number of visualizations with the player, and you can download more from the Windows Media Web site. When you select the Visualizations category in the Plug-ins option tab, as shown in Figure 2-32, you can add, remove, and configure individual visualizations.

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Figure 2-32: You can configure visualizations from the Plug-ins options tab.

INSTALLING MORE PLUG-INS


To add a new visualization or other plug-in that youve stored locally, click the Add button. This will present a standard Open File dialog and let you navigate to the plug-in (DLL or EXE file) that youd like to add. However, most people dont actually have visualizations sitting around on their systems, so you can navigate to the Windows Media Web site in a Web browser and download plug-ins from there as well. Just click the Look for plug-ins on the Internet link at the bottom of the Plug-ins tab.

On the Web
There are also other sources of excellent WMP10 plug-ins. And one of the best, www.WMPlugins.com, is owned and operated by Microsoft. The Web site offers plug-ins, skins, visualizations, developer resources, and other information. Its a fantastic place to visit for extending the functionality of your favorite media player assuming, of course, that player is Windows Media Player.

DELETING PLUG-INS
To delete a plug-in, simply select it and click the Remove button.

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CONFIGURING A PLUG-IN
Some plug-ins enable you to configure certain options. For example, you can select Visualization and then Ambience, and then click the Properties button to configure its full screen and player settings through the Properties dialog, as shown in Figure 2-33.

Figure 2-33: Some plug-ins can be configured, like this visualization, which enables you to control its full screen mode and off-screen buffer size.

The options you can configure are dependent on the plug-in and some, such as the Alchemy visualization plug-in, dont offer any configuration at all.

Setting Privacy Options


In the first year after the company shipped Windows XP, Microsoft found itself on the receiving end of a nasty controversy in which some pundits suggested that the company was violating the privacy of its users by shipping a WMP update that included a new End User License Agreement (EULA), a bit of legalese were all supposed to agree to in order to actually install a Microsoft product. Most people, of course, dont even see, let alone read these agreements, so that made Microsofts change seem all the more nefarious. In a nutshell, the aforementioned change was an innocuous change, albeit one that set a potentially dangerous precedent. As a result of the negative feedback it received, however, Microsoft instituted a WMP privacy statement and began adding configurable privacy features to the player so that users could opt out of certain features. Those features are configured, as you might expect, from the Privacy options tab, shown in Figure 2-34.

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Figure 2-34: It took a few complaints, but Microsoft now cares about your privacy.

In the Enhanced Playback and Device Experience section, you can determine whether WMP10 interacts with data found on the Internet. Unless youre truly paranoid, I recommend leaving all of these options checked. Otherwise, youll get a severely stilted experience, as suggested by the section name. Besides, none of these options require you to send any unique information about you or your player to Internet servers. However, in the Enhanced Content Provider Services section, you must deal with these issues. If you choose to allow content providers to uniquely identify your player, WMP10 will send compatible Web sites a unique number that is generated by your player. This identifier doesnt betray any private information about you to the Web site, however. Instead, the identifier is used to monitor (and optionally store) the quality of your connection as you receive streaming media files, and its implemented as a cookie, just like those that you use in Internet Explorer.

On the Web
You can view the WMP10 privacy statement on the Web at www.microsoft.com/windows/windows
media/mp10/privacy.aspx?locale=409&geoid=f4&version=10.0.0.3646&userlocale =409. You can also use this shorter URL: http://snipurl.com/bm6k.

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Setting Security Options


The Security options tab is also a relatively new development. Shown in Figure 2-35, this tab enables you to determine which security-specific features are enabled in the player. Note that all are off by default, and you should leave them that way.

Figure 2-35: Its not much to look at, but the Security tab helps you configure Internet security options, including the way in which WMP10 interacts with IEs security settings.

On the Web
You can find out more about how WMP10 implements security on the Web at www.microsoft.com/
windows/windowsmedia/mp10/security.aspx?locale=409&geoid=f4&version=10.0.0 .3646&userlocale=409. You can also use this shorter URL: http://snipurl.com/bm6n.

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Setting File Types Options


The File Types tab (see Figure 2-36) provides a friendlier way to determine which file types are supported by the player than the normal method, which is available through the Windows Folder Options dialog. By default, WMP will be set up to work with all supported media types (Windows Media files, CD audio, and so on) except for DVD video. However, if youve purchased Windows XP with a new PC from a major PC company like Dell, HP, or Sony, its possible that theyve configured the player for DVD playback as well. I discuss this in more detail in Chapter 11, Playing and Managing Digital Videos. Generally speaking, you can just click Select All and be done with it unless youre using another media player, such as RealPlayer, to play certain types of media files.

Figure 2-36: The File Types options tab determines which file types are associated with the player.

Setting DVD Options


The DVD tab controls DVD parental control and language settings; I discuss this fully in Chapter 11, but heres a shot to whet your appetite. Note that this tab will only appear if a DVD-compatible optical drive is attached to your system.

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Figure 2-37: The DVD options tab provides options only for parental controls and language settings.

Setting Network Options


And finally, the Network tab, which is curiously separate from the Performance options, determines how your player works over a network. It deals specifically with low-level network protocols, which determine the rules that streaming media files must follow to interoperate between the server and your system. This is sort of a complicated subject and is definitely beyond the scope of this book. My advice is to simply leave all of these options set to their defaults. The streaming proxy settings are most often used on corporate networks, so they can be ignored as well.

Updating Windows Media Player


Back in the section titled Setting Player Options, I discussed how you could configure the player to automatically download player updates. These updates include new codecs, playlists, and even new security fixes. But you can manually check for new updates by selecting Check for Player Updates from the Help menu. This will launch the Windows Media Configuration Manager, which will then be populated with any available updates, giving you the option to download them all, or just the ones you want. If no new updates are available, youll see a message to that effect, as shown in Figure 2-38.

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Figure 2-38: You can update WMP over the Internet to get the latest features and security fixes.

Generally speaking, its probably a good idea to let the player update itself automatically. But if you hear about a new security update possibly from my WinInfo Daily Update mailing list (www .winformant.com) this is the place to go to download the fix.

Summary
Windows Media Player 10 features a deceptively simpler user interface, but underneath that highly polished chrome is a full-featured, multifunction multimedia playback and management application just waiting to be customized to your hearts content. In this chapter, you examined many of the ways in which you can configure WMP10, including using the Media Library, playlists, and the Now Playing List; methods of changing and enhancing the WMP10 user interface; WMP10 Enhancements like crossfading, volume leveling, and playback speed; using skins and Skin Mode; and all the myriad of ways you can work with the WMP10 Options dialog to fine-tune the product. At this point, you should be comfortable using the player and be able to move on to more advanced tasks. In Chapter 3 you examine some of those tasks, including those that you perform outside of the player, using the Windows XP shell. Windows XP, in sharp contrast to previous operating systems, provides a wealth of task-oriented user interface in its shell, through which you can manage your music collection, burn CDs, and perform other tasks.

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Chapter 3

Managing and Sharing Digital Music

he notion of digital music management is simple: Digital music files, like any documents, must be stored somewhere on your computer so they can be readily accessed, either by WMP or by some other application. And each of these files has properties, or attributes, that describe their contents. A properly formatted music file, for example, will contain a song, of course, but it will also contain information about that song, such as the artist, the name of the song, and the album from which it originated. In addition to managing your digital music files, you might also want to share them with friends and family, using the Internet or CDs. Or perhaps you have a home network and would like to provide a central share from which all computers on the network can access your digital music files. In todays increasingly connected world, home media servers are becoming more common. And theyre not hard to set up. So in this chapter, you look at these management and sharing tasks and the different ways they can be accomplished in Windows XP.

Using the My Music Folder


In Windows 95, the concept of a central documents folder, dubbed My Documents, and, to a lesser extent, multiple people using the same machine, was popularized for the first time. In Windows 2000 (and its NT-based predecessors), multiple users had been part of the plan all along, so each user got his or her own My Documents folder along with other user-specific folders for managing such things as Internet Explorer Favorites, email, and other items. Windows XP expands on this theme by elevating two folders to the same status as My Documents: My Pictures and My Music. This means that My Pictures and My Music are special shell folders in My Computer and Explorer, and they appear, by default, on the Windows XP Start menu. Microsoft elevated these folders to increased prominence because of the digital media bent in Windows XP: The company feels that people will increasingly turn to their PCs to accomplish common tasks with digital media such as photographs and music (and of course, this book is banking on this notion as well: I wouldnt have written it if I didnt think that this was going to be popular). Both My Pictures and My Music are special folders in that they exhibit behavior thats different from a normal folder that you might create on the desktop or elsewhere on your system.

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Cross-Reference
You look at My Pictures in Chapter 7.

Introducing My Music
You can access My Music directly from the Start menu, as shown in Figure 3-1. But you can also get to My Music from My Documents. Thats because My Music is, by default, a subfolder within My Documents (later in this chapter you learn how to move one or both of these special folders). If youve ripped audio CD-based music to your system as described in Chapter 4 you should see folders in My Music that correspond to artist names. These folders will each contain one or more subfolders as well, each representing an album by those particular artists.

Figure 3-1: If youve ripped audio CDs, you will see a number of Artist folders in My Music.

The folder icons in My Music (and many other folders that contain music) are shown in Thumbnails view by default. This allows each artist folder to display up to four thumbnail images of contained album copies. So, for example, if youve ripped four CDs by solo pianist David Lanz, you will see a David Lanz folder in My Computer with four thumbnail images on it. If you rip only one CD for any particular artist, that artists folder will contain one thumbnail image. Figure 3-2 shows a variety of folder thumbnail examples. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Figure 3-2: Inside each Artist folder is at least one Album folder.

Customizing Folders in My Music


Each folder in Windows XP is displayed using a default template that depends on the folders contents, and My Music is no different. But because My Music is a special folder, you cannot edit the template it uses. However, you can edit any subfolders. To do so, right-click an artist folder in the My Music window and choose Properties and then Customize in the resulting dialog. By default, artist folders use a template called Music Artist (best for works by one artist), as shown in Figure 3-3. And generally, this is what you will want for this kind of folder: By default, a Music Artist folder automatically generates thumbnails of the folders and other files it contains. If that folder contains folders that represent individual albums (as they should), youll see the expected album art thumbnails. Note that you should generally not select the checkbox titled Also apply this template to all subfolders. This is because the subfolders of Music Artist folders are Music Album folders, which are described in the next section; these have their own special template. But you can modify the folder image if you want. Lets say you really like the album cover art for David Lanzs classic Desert Vision album and would prefer to have his folder display that image. Look up David Lanz on All Music Guide (www.allmusic.com) or a similar site and then search for Desert Vision (it was released in 1986). Download the album cover image, save it to the My Music\David Lanz\Desert Vision folder (or wherever youd like) and then use the Choose Picture button on the Customize tab of the Properties sheet to display that image instead of the automatically generated thumbnail, as shown in Figure 3-4. You can also use this technique to use any image you want for any folder thats in Thumbnail view.

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Figure 3-3: By default, Artist folders should be set up with the Music Artist folder template.

Figure 3-4: Its easy to change the image used by folder thumbnails.

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If you find that youre no longer fond of the customized icon view youve created, simply re-open the Properties sheet and choose Restore Default: The automatically generated album cover thumbnails will return. And if youre not using Thumbnail view for some reason (shame!), you can also choose to modify the icon image used to display the folder. Click the Change Icon button and find an icon youd like to use instead.

MODIFYING ALBUM FOLDERS


If you navigate into a Music Artist folder, you will see one or more folders, each of which represents an album by that artist. So, for example, inside the David Lanz folder used in this example, you see a number of folders, such as Beloved, Bridge of Dreams, and Cristoforis Dream. The name of each of these folders is the same as the name of a David Lanz album, and inside these folders you will find individual Windows Media Audio (WMA) or MP3 format audio files, depending on how you ripped them.

Cross-Reference
Chapter 4 explains how to rip CDs.

By default, each of these folders uses the folder template titled Music Album (best for tracks from one album), assuming you ripped them with WMP. If you didnt, you can change them to this template by customizing each folder and choosing this from the folder template drop-down list box, as shown in Figure 3-5.

Figure 3-5: Each album folder should be using the Music Album folder template.

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If you open a Music Album folder such as Sacred Road (to beat my David Lanz example to death), you will see one or more media files. These files each represent one song on an album, as shown in Figure 3-6, and they are displayed in Tiles view by default. Tiles view is new to Windows XP. It is a standard icon view that also displays a sampling of metadata, or data that describes the file. So, for example, a file named David Lanz - 08 - Nocturne (remember that the .wma or .mp3 file extension is generally hidden by default) will display two additional lines of metadata next to its icon in Tiles view: The artist name (David Lanz in this case) and the album title (Sacred Road in this example).

Figure 3-6: Album folders display files in Tiles view by default, with selected metadata shown along with each files name.

FINDING AND EDITING MUSIC FILE METADATA


But theres more metadata in each media file, of course. If youre interested in more information about a particular media file, hover over that file with the mouse pointer, as shown in Figure 3-7. This will provide information such as file name, artist, album, year, duration, type (typically Windows Media Audio file or MP3 Format Sound), bit rate, and size, in a small yellow tooltip window. This information is, of course, read-only, because theres no way to edit what you see in a tooltip. However, you can edit some metadata fields, either for individual media or for groups of files. To edit the metadata for an individual file, right-click that file and choose Properties and then select the Summary tab. If you dont see a window similar to that shown in Figure 3-8, click the Advanced button.

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Figure 3-7: A yellow tooltip window, shown when you move your mouse over an icon, can display more metadata.

Figure 3-8: The Summary tab lets you actually edit metadata, right in the shell.

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From here, you will be able to modify the artist name, album title, year, track number, genre, title, or comments. Other metadata, such as license, duration, bit rate, audio sample size (in bits), number of channels (where 2 is stereo and 1 is mono), and audio sample rate cannot be edited. Whats nice about this is that youre editing the metadata of the file directly, regardless of the file type. For WMA files, metadata is part of each file. For MP3 files, the ID3v2 tag is modified. But youre not limited to editing single files at a time. If you want to edit the metadata for the year for every song in a folder, for example, just select the entire group of icons, right-click, and choose Properties. Navigate to the Summary tab again, and this time youll see something a bit different: Those metadata that are file specific, such as track number and title, indicate that they represent multiple values, as shown in Figure 3-9. But those that are applicable to all the files, such as album title, artist, and year, can, more logically, be modified. You can change the year (or whatever), click Apply, and be sure that youve made the change for all of the files in the folder, in one step. Nice!

Figure 3-9: You can edit the metadata for a group of files too.

Cross-Reference
One thing missing from the shell method of modifying metadata is song lyrics, which is a type of metadata found in Windows Media Audio files. You can add lyric information to any WMA file, but you have to do it through WMP using the Advanced Tag Editor, which is described in Chapter 4.

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Changing the Location of the My Music Folder


OK, now that you understand how the My Music folder works, youve probably hit on some of its limitations. If youve got a single system with a single hard drive, the default location of C:\Documents and Settings\[your user name]\My Documents\My Music is probably working out just fine. But if youve got more than one hard drive, or more than one system, or have decided to rip your entire CD collection onto the computer, its time to start thinking about some management issues. Digital music files can take up a lot of space. If youre ripping CDs using the WMA format at 128 Kbps, for example, each CD will occupy approximately 50MB, give or take a few megabytes. If youve got 200 CDs, thats about ten gigabytes. Now, in todays world of 400GB drives, that doesnt sound so bad. But not everyone has a 400GB drive, and, more important, its not just music you need to worry about: Digital photographs and digital movies take up a lot of space. A lot of space. So its worth thinking about how youre going to manage this stuff. And that default location for My Music might not cut it. How you decide to handle this situation will depend on your particular setup and needs. But here are some options to consider. If you plan to share music with other people inside your home, you might consider ripping CDs into the Shared Music folder instead of your personal My Music folder. (Note that sharing music in this fashion is perfectly legal. However, you cannot give copies of your music collection to friends or others.) This wont be an issue for single users. If you have more than one hard drive, you might consider using one of them (perhaps the bigger one) as a data drive: You could move your My Music folder to that drive and take better advantage of its size. If you have more than one system, you could map a drive locally and store your media files on the other computer. Or, if youre particularly well-endowed from a PC perspective that is you might even consider setting up a dedicated media server (basically a used PC thats not being used for much these days) that would be used solely to store music, photographs, and movies. Each of these possibilities is considered in the upcoming sections. Each has a variety of tradeoffs, of course.

Telling Windows Media Player Where the Music Is


Before moving on, theres one thing you should be aware of when you start moving around music files. If youve already ripped audio CDs with WMP and you later change the location of those files, WMP10 will know where you moved them thanks to its integration with the Windows XP shell. But there will always come a time when you need to wipe out the WMP Media Library database and just start over. If you begin moving music files around and want to make sure that the player knows where everything is, fear not, its easy to do. To manually locate music files on your system: 1. Launch Windows Media Player. 2. Press F3 or select Search for Media Files from the Tools menu. 3. Click Search or specify a location to search, as shown in Figure 3-10.

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Figure 3-10: You can tell WMP where your music files are or let it search the whole hard drive.

Cross-Reference
Searching for media files on your system is covered in more detail in Chapter 1.

Using Shared Music


Sucked in by the promise that Windows XP would help with managing multiple users, you upgraded to this miracle of modern computing or even bought a new PC and, sure enough, it works pretty well. One thing thats not so obvious in this scenario, however, is that Windows XP provides shared folders for documents, music, and pictures that are easily accessible from the shell. So while you probably want to keep your private documents away from your kids or, ahem, maybe even your spouse, its equally likely that you wouldnt mind sharing your music with everyone in the family. This is easy enough, though Microsoft didnt make it particularly obvious. To see what I mean, open up a My Computer window and navigate to the system drive (typically C:). If you havent changed the factory defaults (and you call yourself a Windows user?) youll see a nag screen. Microsoft assumes youre an idiot (Looking for your programs? it asks, somewhat condescendingly) but I dont: Simply click Show the contents of this drive to display the normal icon view. Then go into C:\Documents and Settings.

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What you see there will be dependent on the users youve set up on the system: There will be one folder for each of these users (like Paul, shown in Figure 3-11) and one called All Users. Old hands at Windows NT and Windows 2000 will be familiar with the concept of all users, but most Windows 9x/Me users (that is, most people in general) will not. This folder contains documents and settings that are common to all users on the system. And its got a structure thats identical to your own documents and settings folder. Open it up to see what I mean.

Figure 3-11: User accounts can be found in the Documents and Settings folder.

Inside C:\Documents and Settings\All Users, you will find folders for the Desktop, Favorites, Shared Documents, and Start Menu. If you want an icon to appear on every users desktop, place it in the Desktop folder under All Users. If you want an IE Favorite to appear in the Favorites menu of every user on the system, the All User Favorites folder is the place to go. And so on. But the Shared Documents folder works a bit differently. Shared Documents and its subfolders, Shared Pictures and Shared Music emulate the My Documents, My Pictures, and My Music folders, respectively, that each user has. But if you place a file in Shared Documents, it wont show up in your personal My Documents folder, even as a link. Shared Documents (and Shared Pictures and Shared Music) are separate, little islands in a sea of folders. And you thought Windows was consistent.

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So you might want to use Shared Music as the dumping ground for all of your ripped CDs, instead of the default, which is My Music. To do this, open up WMP and navigate to Tools Options. On the Rip Music tab, click Change and then select C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Shared Documents\Shared Music as the location to which music will be copied. And if youve already started copying music to another location (C:\Documents and Settings\[your user name]\My Documents\My Music probably), just move all those files and folders to the new location. This method of organizing music files is good for families with one PC: You want your kids to be able to log on, play games, and maybe even get some schoolwork done, but you dont want them accessing your private documents (which you might have marked as private thanks to the Windows XP security features). However, you dont mind them accessing your music. Now that its public, thanks to the Shared Music folder, they can.

Moving the My Documents Folder to a New Location


OK, maybe youve got more than one hard drive and you like the idea of keeping your data separate from your OS and applications. This may seem like a Type A personality, anal-retentive kind of thing to do, but there are good reasons for it. Lets face it, Windows just up and dies occasionally, and its nice to be able to format C: and reinstall without worrying that you just blew away your important data, such as that latest Def Leppard CD. So while its possible that you will never need to reinstall Windows XP, its always better to be safe than sorry. Besides, its a proven fact that youll sleep better knowing that your data isnt on the same hard drive as Windows. It works for me. For simplicitys sake, assume that youve got two hard drives, C: and D:, and that Windows XP is installed on C:, perhaps along with Microsoft Office, DOOM 3, and whatever other applications you have. By default, Windows XP places your documents and settings files (what was once called your profile in the good ol days) in C:\Documents and Settings\[your user name]\ and while its probably possible to move the entire directory structure, Im not going to get into that here. Instead, lets focus on moving your documents and your My Music folder. This type of setting is typically controlled through the Windows Registry, and yes, that chill that just ran up your spine is normal. With the Registry, you can change any number of Windows XP features. However, Registry editing can be dangerous, and its not something normal people should ever have to do. Fortunately, to change the location of My Documents, you wont have to hack the Registry. Instead, you can simply right-click My Documents on the Start menu, choose Properties, and then select the Move button to choose a new location. So you might create a D:\Documents and Settings folder (or whatever) and then move My Documents to that location, as shown in Figure 3-12. Windows XP will ask you if you want to move your existing documents to this new location, and you should probably do so. If you click No for some reason, Windows XP will not delete your files, however. Theyll still be sitting, all lonely like, in the old location.

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Figure 3-12: Moving My Documents is easy: Just right-click on the My Documents, choose Properties, and then tell it where to go.

Moving the My Music Folder to a New Location


OK, so My Music probably has a similar method for changing its location, right? Right? Wrong. Unfortunately, Microsoft forces you to edit the Registry in order to change the location of the My Music (and My Pictures) special shell folders in a default XP install. Fortunately, theres a nice way around this. The solution is a free program called TweakUI. Microsoft created TweakUI as part of its collection of Power Toys for Windows XP, a set of applications that add fun and functionality to the Windows experience, according to Microsoft. Tweak UI is arguably the coolest Power Toy, and since its just a 147 KB download, theres almost no excuse not to download it. You can find Tweak UI, and the other XP Power Toys, on the Microsoft Web site at www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/ powertoys/default.mspx. After youve installed Tweak UI, you can use it to change the location of My Music. To do so, find the Tweak UI shortcut in Start, All Programs, PowerToys for Windows XP. The application resembles Figure 3-13.

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Figure 3-13: Tweak UI in all its splendor.

Now, navigate to My Computer and then Special Folders in the Tweak UI tree view. The application will now resemble Figure 3-14.

Figure 3-14: Drilling down into Tweak UI, you will find the section that enables you to modify shell folder locations.

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Click the Folder drop-down list and select My Music. Then, click the Change Location button to find the location to which youd like to change My Music. When youre done, click the OK button to close Tweak UI. Youre done!

Storing Digital Music in Other Folders


If youre not interested in moving the location of the My Music folder and frankly, this is a healthy attitude to have you can just ignore the My Music folder altogether and place your music wherever you want. So, for example, you might use D:\Music as the location where you rip your CDs and store all your audio files. Go for it, no one is stopping you. One thing you might want to do in this instance is navigate to that folder and ensure that its set up correctly. If youre going to dump all your music files in the same folder with no notion of subdirectories for artists and albums, for example, you can customize the folder to use the Music template, which is best for audio files and playlists. Or, if you choose to use the normal artistalbum-song files layout, just make sure that each folder is set up correctly for the right templates as described previously. That way, youll have a folder structure that works just like My Music without the hassle of moving My Music. Another task youll want to take care of is to ensure that WMP is set up to copy CD music to this folder. That way, new music thats added to the system goes to the right place when its created. To do so, open WMP10, choose Tools Options, and then navigate to the Rip Music tab. In the Rip music to this location section, you can click the Change button to choose a new storage folder for music. Choose D:\Music, or whatever folder youve created, and then click OK. Click Apply in the Options dialog to make it permanent.

Creating a Media Server


OK, youre a networking god and for some reason, youve got enough computing power at home to run NORAD. These things happen, so you might as well take advantage of it: You can use one machine on your network as a media server, where you will store music and other media files. Of course, you will want this system to have at least one huge hard drive on it, since media files can take up a lot of space. There are a number of ways to accomplish this, but for purposes of this discussion, lets assume you have two machines, your daily use machine running Windows XP and another box; this can be running any Windows OS. For purposes of this example, the second machine is named Media, and this is how it will appear in My Network Places. Heres all you need to do: 1. Ensure that you can access \\Media from your main Windows XP PC. This will require you to have user rights on that machine; the easiest way to accomplish that is to ensure that the user account you use to log on to your Windows XP machine is present as a user on \\Media as well, and with the same password. (If \\Media is a Windows 9x/Me box, however, this wont be required, because these OSes have almost no conception of security at all. However, using Windows 9x/Me for a media server is not recommended: The goal is for this machine to stay up and running all the time, and Windows 9x/Me is not very good at that, now is it?)

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2. On \\Media, create a directory structure to store your media files. You might create a directory called D:\Media\Music, for example, to store your music files. To share this location, right-click the Music folder and choose Sharing and Security. Then select the checkbox titled Share this folder on the network, and provide the share with a name. Youll use Media for this example. 3. On your Windows XP machine, connect to the network share with a Network Drive by choosing Tools Map Network Drive in My Computer. This will launch the Map Network Drive Wizard (Figure 3-15), allowing you to choose a drive letter and path for that network drive. I use the drive letter M: for my media drive, but you can choose any available letter. In the Folder text box, either browse to the location or type it in; in our example, M: would be mapped to \\Media\Media. Leave the Reconnect at logon option checked, as you want this to be a permanent thing.

Figure 3-15: The Map Network Drive wizard enables you to use network resources as if they were local drives.

4. Open My Computer and you should see a new drive listed under Network Drives called Media on Media (M:). 5. Now, copy or move all of your media files to the appropriate folders in M:. For example, you might copy all of your music files to M:\Music. 6. Now, you can optionally redirect the My Music, My Pictures, and My Video folders, as described above. Or not. It really doesnt matter. 7. Start up Windows Media Player and press F3 to bring up the Search for Media Files dialog. Point the Look in box to M:\Music, or wherever the share is you created, and let it search. Now your Media Library will be updated with the new location for you media files.

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Tip
Technically speaking, you dont have to map a network drive or search for media files to access the music on your media server from WMP. Instead, you can simply instruct WMP to monitor the music folder on your media server. To do so, open the WMP Options dialog box and navigate to the Library tab. Then click the Monitor Folders button to display the Monitor Folders dialog box. Here, click Add and navigate to My Network Places, then Music on Media (or whatever your music share is called). Now, WMP will automatically load the music files from that location into your Media Library, and monitor any changes. However, while this process is automatic, its not immediate. Sometimes it will take a while for new content in a monitored folder to show up in WMP.

You can use any PC as a media server, of course, but its nice to have one that wont be used by a human being all day long, as interactive users tend to consume the machines resources pretty easily. Though I do this, it isnt realistic for most people. A few years back, my media server served double duty as my wifes PC. She didnt use it that much, so it was perfect for this role. Today, I have a PC dedicated to our documents, music, photos, and videos. That reminds me. I need to backup my music files. So, probably, do you!

Using the Music Task Lists


Now that youre a music-managing demon, its time to get attuned to some of the nicer improvements in the Windows XP shell. One of the primary design goals for this release was to present a task-based interface that was easy to use, and Microsoft implemented this through the little-understood Web view panes that you see by default in each My Computer and Explorer windows. In Windows XP, these panes are far more useful than they ever were in Windows Me or Windows 2000, and although the power user in you might be tempted to turn them off as soon as you install Windows XP, bear with them a bit. Most everything thats available in the Web pane is also available through right-clicks and other power-user techniques, but until you know exactly whats available, its a good idea to just leave them on and see what happens. In My Music or any other folder that uses a music-oriented folder template, you will be presented with a list of tasks that are appropriate for that folders contents. So, for example, when you navigate into My Music, you will see a number of default Music Tasks listed in the folders Web pane: Play all, Shop for music online, and Copy all items to audio CD. Naturally, that last option will only be available if you have a CD burner.

Playing All Music in a Folder


The Play all choice is actually more sophisticated than it seems at first blush. If youre My Music folder contains artist folders, which in turn contain album folders, then clicking Play all with trigger WMP, which will then play all contained audio files, using whatever settings that were in place the last time you used WMP. So, if you have WMP set up to shuffle songs, it will now play all of your music files randomly. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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CREATING A SAVED PLAYLIST FROM THE NOW PLAYING LIST


Another interesting side effect of this choice is that it creates a new Now Playing playlist. So when you click Play all, WMP launches and begins playing all of the audio files found under My Music. You can actually save this playlist for later use if you like. To do so, simply click the Now Playing List heading in the Now Playing pane, as shown in Figure 3-16. Youll see a list of options, like Clear List, Repeat, and so on. Choose Save Playlist As.

Figure 3-16: Many common playlist tasks are now available from the WMP10 Now Playing List heading.

A standard Save As dialog box appears. Here, you can give your playlist a name and save it (with a .wpl extension) in whatever location you want. By default, however, WMP will attempt to save the playlist in the My Playlists folder under My Music (and if this is the first time youve attempted to save a playlist, it will create the folder for you). Once you save a playlist, you can load it later from WMP by expanding My Playlists in the WMP tree view and then selecting the appropriate saved playlist, as shown in Figure 3-17. Now, the obvious question at this point is: Why bother doing this? WMP automatically creates a playlist, of sorts, called All Audio, which is already available in the Media Library. True. But there are two good reasons why you might want to create your own. First, you can now edit this playlist down to whittle out the songs you dont like, which is impossible with All Audio, unless you want to permanently delete them from the Media Library. And second, this technique can be used to create more personalized playlists. Lets take a look.

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Figure 3-17: Saved playlists are available from the Media Library.

CREATING BETTER PLAYLISTS WITH PLAY SELECTION


Instead of just choosing Play all in the root of My Music, you might selectively choose music to create a playlist from the shell. Heres one good way to do this: 1. Open My Music and click the Folders toolbar icon to display the folder view, as shown in Figure 3-18. 2. Expand the artist and album folder that contains songs youd like to add to a playlist, as shown in Figure 3-19. 3. While holding down the Ctrl key, select one or more songs. 4. When youre done, click Folders to remove the folder view and then click Play selection. 5. Again, a new playlist is generated in WMP, but now it contains only those audio files you selected. 6. Repeat the steps in the previous section to save your playlist.

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Figure 3-18: The Folders option lets you display a folder list in place of the Web view.

Figure 3-19: You can drill down into the folders list to find the exact location you want.

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PLAYING ALL FOR THE POWER USER


If you absolutely, positively cannot stand the Web view, you can still use Play all and Play selection. All you have to do is select all of the folders in My Music, one or more folders that contain audio files, or one or more audio files, right-click, and then choose Play. The same rules apply as previously.

Shopping for Music Online


The Shop for music online task might seem like an insipid little thing to add to an operating system, but its actually pretty useful. Heres how it works: Open an artist or album folder that was created when you ripped an audio CD with WMP, and then click the Shop for music online task. This launches Internet Explorer (or whatever browser youre using) and, by default, brings you to the WindowsMedia.com Buy CD Web site, with a list of choices that correspond to the artist you selected, as shown in Figure 3-20. This site enables you to choose a particular CD and then buy it at an MSN partner site such as Buy.com or Walmart.com.

Figure 3-20: The Shop for music online option launches IE 6 and brings you to the WindowsMedia.com Web site.

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I write by default because this behavior can change depending on how WMP is configured. For example, if you choose Napster as your online music store in WMP, and then click the Shop for music online link somewhere in the XP shell, chances are youre going to be redirected to Napsters site, and WMP will open with Napster displayed, as shown in Figure 3-21. The idea is that someone who took the time to configure an online music service would likely want to visit that service and not purchase an actual CD.

Figure 3-21: If you configure an online music service in WMP, the Shop for music online link in XP behaves very differently.

At this point, the original purpose of the Shop for music online link to get people connected with online merchants that offer audio CDs for sale is somewhat antiquated. Were very much in the world of online music services now, and as discussed in Chapter 6, WMP offers a wide variety of music (and video) services from which to choose. For that reason, I recommend checking out Chapter 6 and kissing the traditional CD goodbye: Its day in the sun is officially over. On the other hand, its likely that you have quite a few audio CDs in your collection already. So well examine how to digitize that music in the next chapter. And audio CDs can be handy for car stereos and other places where you have a CD player but not a way to play back digital music files. For that reason, you examine how you can make your own CDs next.

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Copying Music to an Audio CD


When you select an audio file (WMA or MP3) or folder containing audio files in the shell, one other option appears in the Music Tasks list in the Web view: Copy to audio CD (assuming you have a CD-R or CD-RW drive, of course: This option wont show up otherwise). This option is essentially a front-end to the audio CD creation capabilities in WMP, which I cover, not coincidentally, in the following section.

Burning Your Own Music CDs


With Windows Millennium Edition (Windows Me) in 2000, Microsoft issued its first operating system with audio CD creation capabilities. But these capabilities, which were offered through the bundled Windows Media Player 7 (WMP7) application, came with some serious limitations, and Windows Me offered no way to create, or burn, data CDs. WMP7 worked well enough for the time, but it could burn audio CDs only very slowly. And the feature itself was very hard to find within the player, causing many users to not realize that this was even an option. All of these issues have been resolved in Windows XP, which is the first operating system from any vendor to offer full-speed audio and data CD burning capabilities. This means that any user with a Compact Disc Recordable (CD-R), Compact Disc Re-Writable (CD-RW) or writeable DVD (DVD+R, DVD-R, DVD+RW, DVD-RW) drive can use Windows XP to create audio and data CDs, without the need to install any third-party application. And these capabilities are full-featured and complete, able to take advantage of the latest technologies. Theyre also more discoverable, so that new users and power users alike will be able to take advantage of this power immediately. In this section you look at the technologies that make audio and data CD creation not just possible but fairly easy, as well as some of the more typical ways in which you might add a CD-R or CD-RW drive to your system. Youll be burning in no time.

Understanding Recordable CD Formats


Long ago, back in the days of Windows 3.1, Compact Disc (CD) technology went mainstream on the PC with the introduction of the first Windows-compatible CD data drives. This first generation of drives became the benchmark against which all future CD devices were measured, so a first-generation CD device is now considered a 1X (or one speed) device. So if youre running a 32X or 50X CD drive today, its running at up to 32 or 50 times the speed of that first generation of devices, respectively. And today, of course, CD technology is commonplace on PCs. In fact, most PCs and laptops ship with a recordable CD drive (or perhaps a DVD drive) in place of a read-only CD device. Recordable CD devices are broken down into two major groups, CD-R and CD-RW. CD-R devices debuted first, giving users the ability to write data onto a blank, recordable CD for the first time. CD-RWs expand on the CD-R concept by providing an additional benefit: They can also write data onto specially formatted CD-RW discs over and over again, like a hard drive, albeit at much slower speeds.

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Today, most recordable CD devices are in fact CD-RW devices, though most people continue to use normal CD-R discs in lieu of the more expensive CD-RW substitutes. There are a variety of reasons for this, but for the most part cost is the issue. That, and the fact that audio CD-RWs cannot be read by mainstream CD players, has really slowed the adoption of CD-RW media. And coming down the pike, though it still remains a distant possibility at this point, is DVD-RAM, which will bring recordable capabilities to the much higher capacity DVD disc. DVD-RAM is natively supported in Windows XP, though only as a removable data disc: Currently, there is no PC-oriented technology to bring homemade DVD movies to the PC, as there is on the Macintosh. This will come in time. So what are the differences between CD-R disc and CD-RW discs? CD-R disks are write-once devices, in the sense that you can only write once to any given area of the disc, and you cannot erase something after its been written. But data CD-Rs can be written to multiple times until they are full. Each subsequent write must, however, take place on a previously unsullied portion of the media. And once its full, its full. Theres no going back. CD-RW, meanwhile, works like CD-R, and can use CD-R media. But with special CD-RW media, you can write to the disc a virtually unlimited number of times. So these days, most recordable CD devices are indeed CD-RWs.

Before You Burn, You Must Playlist


Before you can make an audio CD, you need to work with the WMP playlist feature. WMP10 includes a number of built-in playlists, so that you can play all the audio files on your computer, audio of a certain genre, or audio by particular artists, among others. But you can also create your own custom playlists. You might want to create a playlist thats appropriate for when youre working (Work songs), for example, or a playlist of music for the gym that youll use with a portable audio device (Workout music).

CREATING AND ACCESSING PLAYLISTS IN WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER


A playlist is exactly what it sounds like: a list of songs thats been given a name so you can easily access it later. Generally, you create a new playlist from the Media Library, by selecting files and then choosing the appropriate options. Playlists youve created appear under the My Playlists node of the tree view in the leftmost pane of the Media Library. In Figure 3-22, you can see that a custom playlist called Gym songs has been created. Adding songs to a playlist is equally easy: Expand various nodes of the Media Librarys tree view, such as All Music, Album Artist, Genre, or Album, and then select the song or songs that youd like to add. Right-click and choose Add to and then the name of the playlist. Or, if you want to create a new playlist, select Add to and then Additional Playlists. This brings up the Add to Playlist dialog, which enables you to choose from the available list of playlists or add a new playlist. This is shown in Figure 3-23. If youre into drag and drop, you can also drag songs into an existing playlist by scrolling the Audio tree in the Media Library down so that the playlist name is viewable. Then, select the file or files youd like to add and drag them over to the playlist node. This saves the need to open a separate dialog box, but if you have a lot of music in your Media Library, it will actually be simpler to do this with the right-click method described above.

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Figure 3-22: Playlists can be accessed from the WMP Media Library.

Figure 3-23: You can add a song to a playlist or create a new playlist.

And, of course, theres another way. You can also select a song for inclusion in a playlist and then click the Now Playing button, which is located at the top right of the WMP window, and then choose New List and the Playlist, as seen in Figure 3-24. The nice thing about this option is that it doesnt open a dialog box. Instead, it provides a drop-down list of the available playlists, while also providing a way to add a new playlist if desired.

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Figure 3-24: Using the Add to Playlist button is probably more convenient than other methods.

If you view the playlist, as in Figure 3-22, it will tell you how many songs are in the playlist, the amount of space they will occupy on a disk, and the estimated total running time for all of the songs. This is exactly the information you need if you intend to copy that playlist later to an audio CD, which can hold 74 minutes of music, or a portable audio device, which can vary in size from about 128MB to 60GB.

Setting Audio CD Properties


OK, if youve been following along since the beginning, youve ripped audio CDs into Windows Media (or MP3) format, organized these media files with WMP and the My Music folder, and created custom WMP playlists. Now youre ready to begin creating your own custom audio CDs. If youve ever created mix cassettes for the car or home stereo in the past, you will appreciate how much easier and faster it is to create audio CDs with Windows XP. And of course the resulting audio quality is so much better. Before you begin the audio CD creation process, you should ensure that Windows Media Player is properly set up for this. To begin, launch the WMP Options dialog box, which can be displayed by choosing the Options choice in the Tools menu. The Devices tab of this dialog shown in Figure 3-25 contains all of the configuration options youll need.

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Figure 3-25: The Devices tab of the WMP Options dialog contains information about all of the devices that can interconnect with the player.

Depending on which devices you have connected to your system, the Devices panel on this page should contain at least your recordable CD or DVD drive. Select this drive, and then click the Properties button to finally display the Properties dialog for the CD drive. Youll note that there are two main sections, Playback and Rip, as shown in Figure 3-26. Youre worried primarily about Rip right now. When you rip, or copy, music from your computer to a recordable CD, you can do so in digital or analog mode. Digital mode is generally superior to analog for this purpose, assuming youve got a fairly modern system and a supported CD drive. Digital mode ensures that the bits making their way from the computer to the disk dont need to be rerouted through the analog outputs on your sound card, which can lead to sound degradation and extraneous background noise getting into the recording. However, if you experience pops or hissing using digital mode, and error correction doesnt help (see the following), or you are using a slower PC, you might want to consider analog. In general, digital is the way to go.

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Figure 3-26: The Properties dialog box for the CD drive enables you to determine how information is read from, and copied to, the device.

You might notice another option in the Rip section of the CD Drive Properties dialog box, Use error correction. This choice can be enabled (its off by default) if you are experiencing problems while creating audio CDs, such as unexpected glitches, skips, pops, and clicks. Error correction attempts to digitally correct errors as they occur during the recording process. So you might wonder why this option isnt on by default. The reason is that error correction dramatically slows down the audio CD creation process. I recommend turning it on only if you hear abnormalities in the audio CDs you create. On the Recording page of the CD Drive Properties dialog, you can set options for recording speed and the like. In general, you will want to leave this set to the defaults.

NOTE
In Windows Me, WMP could only burn audio CDs at 2X. In Windows XP, this limitation is completely bypassed, and you can now create audio (and data) CDs at the full speed of your recordable CD device. At the time of this writing, that means that Windows XP can write CDs at speeds up to 25 times as fast as Windows Me.

Creating Audio CDs


Enough of the preliminaries, its time to burn an audio CD. First, insert a blank CD-R into your recordable CD or DVD drive. Note that a CD-RW is generally not acceptable for this, as most consumer TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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grade CD players cannot read CD-RW discs for some reason. Also, Windows XP will typically launch an Auto Play window when you insert a blank CD; you can close or ignore this window. Now, launch Windows Media Player and click the Burn choice in the Windows Media Player taskbar. In the left pane of this window, as shown in Figure 3-27, you will see the currently selected playlist (remember, that you can only copy music from playlists onto a CD). In addition to the list of songs in the playlist, this pane contains the length (in minutes) and size (in MB) of each song, along with the total length of the music, in minutes.

Figure 3-27: The Burn option enables you to burn an audio CD.

In the right pane, you can see the audio files that are present on the current device, which should be set to your recordable CD or DVD drive (if it isnt, choose your recordable CD drive from the drop-down list box). If a blank disk is inserted, the right pane should simply read, There are no items on the CD, along with 74 or 80 minutes free, depending on the type of media youre using. Now, you can select the correct playlist for copying. To do so, pull down the drop-down list box in the left pane and navigate to the playlist youd like. This can be a playlist youve created (which are conveniently displayed right at the top), a music genre, or a CD album. Interestingly, artist is not one of the choices. When youve chosen the correct playlist, youre ready to start. Click the Start Burn button, which, as shown in Figure 3-28, is located near the left top corner of the player window, to begin creating your audio CD. This process involves first converting the audio for transfer to CD, and then the actual copying, and it could take a few minutes, depending on the length and number of songs youre copying and the speed of your recordable CD device. If youre performing a digital copy, you can listen to the music as youre copying, or listen to other music in your media library if youd like. Whats interesting here is that the player maintains two separate TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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playlists. Theres the playlist youre copying, and the Now Playing playlist, which can be accessed from the far top-right corner of the player window. So you could play Van Halen while copying some serene New Age music if you like. Weirdo!

Figure 3-28: Once youre ready to burn, simply click the Start Burn button (which changes to Stop Burn), sit back, and watch it happen.

When the copy process is complete, the disc will be ejected by default and youre good to go. The resulting disc should work fine in any portable, auto, or component stereo-based CD or DVD player.

CREATING AUDIO CDS ON THE FLY


The previous section discussed how you can create an audio CD using a pre-made playlist, and while this is generally the way you will want to do things, there is another way to make your own audio CDs in WMP10. Thats because this version of the player supports the concept of a virtual Burn List that you can access at any time using the Media Library. To add songs to this list, select them in the Media Library, right-click, and choose Add to Burn List. When you do so, the Now Playing List changes to the Burn List in the rightmost pane of the player. You can keep adding songs to this list as you browse around the Media Library and then simply click the Start Burn button, in the lower right corner of the WMP window, to start burning the CD. This all happens directly from the Media Library, with no need to navigate to the Burn section of the player at all. As you get more proficient with WMP10, you may find yourself drawn to this style of CD burning. One caveat, however: Unless you save this Burn List as a playlist, it will be lost forever. So choose the Burn List button and then select Save Playlist As to save it as a playlist.

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CREATING MP3/WMA DATA CDS


One final bit of miscellanea: Audio CD creation is nice, because it enables you to make a CD that can play in any standard audio CD or DVD player, including those in cars and portable CD players. But the growing personal electronics market has spawned a new type of product that will be of interest to anyone wanting to make his or her music more portable: MP3/WMA CD players. Whereas a typical audio CD can hold up to 80 minutes of music, a typical data CD with MP3 files on it can store approximately 10 times that amount, depending on the quality of the MP3 or WMA files you use. And these players are available in portable, auto, and home stereo component versions, making them accessible to just about anyone. Over 10 hours of music on a single, portable platter: Now thats exciting. To make this kind of CD, create a playlist or populate the Burn List in WMP10. Then, select the Burn taskbar button to enter the Burn mode. In the right pane of the player, select the drop-down list and then choose Data CD under your recordable CD or DVD player (the other choices are Audio CD, the default, and HighMAT Audio), as shown in Figure 3-29.

Figure 3-29: In the bad old days, youd have to create data CDs from the Windows XP shell.

When you make this choice, WMP10 prompts you to warn you that the disk youre creating may not work in certain home or car stereos. Click Yes if youre sure this is the kind of disk you want to create. Then click Start Burn as before to make the CD.

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Summary
In this chapter, you looked at the ways in which you can manage digital music using the Windows XP shell. These capabilities include the My Music and Shared Music folders, album folders with customizable album art, song file metadata, and the like, as well as the ability to store and find music on other machines on your home network. You can also use the Windows XP music task lists to interact with WMP, creating playlists, shopping for music online, and burning both audio and data CDs. In Chapter 4 you examine how you can copy music from audio CDs to your PC in order to start your digital music collection. You also look more closely at some of the digital music file metadata issues first raised in this chapter, and see how this information can be used to make your digital music collection more useful.

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Rip: Copying Music from Audio CDs

ost people are probably comfortable with the concept of popping an audio CD into the PCs CD drive and playing some favorite tunes while browsing the Web, sending email, or getting other work done. But simply playing audio CDs only hints at the digital audio possibilities that are probably now built into your computer. In the same way that home CD jukeboxes and car-based CD changers expand your choices, Windows XP expands these choices almost exponentially by allowing you to copy music from audio CDs onto your computer. So you can organize your music as you see fit, copy it to portable audio devices, and even make your own audio mix CDs. The first step, of course, is to get this music onto your computer. The process of copying songs from an audio CD to the computer is referred to as ripping music. You rip music from a CD to the computer with the help of an application, such as Windows Media Player, where the resulting files can then be moved around, organized, and managed. And once you get music onto your computer, you might never need those CDs again, though you should keep them around for legal reasons and backup purposes. In this chapter, you take a look at the technology that makes this music copying possible, and see how you might rip music from audio CDs, organize it on your computer, and manage those files you create using the tools that are built into Windows XP. Not surprisingly, Windows XP was the first operating system to offer such full-featured capabilities out of the box, so you wont need any additional software.

Understanding Digital Audio Formats


Like digital photo manipulation, digital audio brings with it a bit of terminology you need to understand before you can dive in. However, although the words are different, the concepts are the same: Using digital music is a compromise between quality and file size. You can record perfect digital copies of CD audio if you want, but the resulting files are often too humongous to be workable. So you need to strike a balance: Typically, you want the music to sound as good as possible while retaining the smallest possible file size. Small files transfer quickly to portable devices, work better over low-bandwidth networks, and allow you to store more songs per gigabyte (GB) on your hard drive.

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Windows Media Audio vs. MP3


Historically, companies that have been concerned with providing audio content over the Internet have dealt with these same issues. So in the early days of the Web (you know, way back in 1996), Internet audio was pretty primitive, since we were all surfing along at 28.8 or 33.3Kbps. But companies such as Apple, with its QuickTime technology, RealNetworks, and Microsoft have been working for years on making it possible to work with high-quality music that doesnt take up a lot of space. The key is a technology called compression, which squeezes information out of a file to make it smaller. If compression is done correctly, you wont lose any important audio information (that is, that information which most people cant hear anyway). However, its possible to compress music and other digital content too much, making the resulting file a pale imitation of the original. For digital music, the standard compression type is an audio format called MPEG Level 3, or MP3. MP3 format allows for impressive sounding files, which can be encoded at a variety of resolutions, or quality settings. This resolution is measured in kilobits per second, or Kbps. Reportedly, an MP3 file encoded at 128 Kbps is CD quality, but this is a bit of a misnomer: MP3 files, like JPG image files are actually compressed, or lossy, so you lose a bit of quality, and at 128 Kbps, it can often be evident that youre not dealing with true CD quality. For this reason, music fans often encode MP3 files at 160 Kbps or 192 Kbps. The result, of course, is bigger files. Its that age-old compromise again. At 160 Kbps, the typical 60-minute CD encoded in MP3 format will consume over 60 MB of hard drive space. That can add up pretty quickly. And MP3 has other problems, which have retarded the acceptance of digital audio formats by the recording industry. Specifically, the format offers no digital rights management (DRM) features, meaning that anyone can make MP3 versions of songs on their CDs and then hand them out at will. Theres no technology there to ensure that the listener actually owns that music.

Enter Microsoft, Stage Left


In the mid-1990s, Microsoft began working on its own digital audio format, which eventually morphed into Windows Media Audio (WMA). Windows Media Audio was designed to overcome the limitations of MP3 while improving on its strengths. So WMA quickly became available in a version that allowed for MP3-quality audio at lower encoding rates (and smaller file sizes). And Microsoft worked with the recording industry to ensure that its format would work with digital rights management technologies. In 1999, the company released Windows Media Audio 7, which offered CD-quality audio at 64 Kbps, half the encoding rate of a CD-quality MP3 file. Furthermore, the file sizes were smaller, so a song encoded at 64 Kbps in WMA 7 format would take up less than half the space of a 128 Kbps MP3 file. To prove its point, Microsoft launched a media blitz that basically recreated the Pepsi Taste Test: The same music would be recorded in both formats and users could listen to both and try to pick out which sounded better. According to NSTL, an independent information technology testing firm, a consumer test of the two formats revealed that users could not tell the difference: To the human ear, a 64 Kbps WMA 7 file was virtually identical or superior, sonically, to a 128 Kbps MP3 file.

WINDOWS XP SEALS THE DEAL


Windows XP originally shipped with Windows Media Audio 8, and this time around, the results were even more incredible: With that release, Microsoft was able to achieve the same CD quality TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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audio at only 64 Kbps. But perhaps more important, you can get near-CD quality at just 48 Kbps, which really saves on the space. The company then upped the bar with Windows Media 9 Series, released in 2002 and now included by default in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) and newer. In addition to supplying slightly better compression, Windows Media 9 Series includes new lossless (non-compressed) and vocal-friendly WMA formats that should meet just about any audio need. In my own evaluation of these formats, the quality of WMA has made me a believer: However, I still do all my own CD encoding at 160 Kbps in MP3 format. But Ive found that 128 Kbps WMA format offers the same quality with smaller file sizes. I stuck with a high resolution MP3 format because I like my master copy of audio to be of high quality, and I dont mind using up the disk space. Also, with the proliferation of portable audio devices like the iPod, its important to consider the compatibility of audio formats. Specifically, the iPod isnt compatible with WMA, so MP3 is a better choice in that case. You look at other issues surrounding portable audio devices in Chapter 18. WMA, of course, also offers digital rights management features, which allows you to secure any files that you rip with a digital license that prevents them from being distributed illegally. You look at this a bit more in the next section.

MAKING DECISIONS ON AUDIO QUALITY


In the end, the audio format and encoding rate you choose is a personal decision and I implore you to experiment a bit with different formats and rates before settling on a standard. Also, you should visit the Microsoft Windows Media Web site (www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/) and visit their Windows Media Audio and Video section to see how it stacks up. But in this book I focus on MP3, because its natively supported by WMP10 and is the most compatible format available.

Configuring Windows Media Player to Rip CDs


With terms like WMA, MP3, and encoding dancing in your head, its time to configure WMP10 for optimal ripping. There arent too many options, however, and some of them have more to do with your hardware than the actual audio files youll be creating.

Configuring Your CD Devices


First up is your optical drive (CD, CD-R, CD-RW, DVD, or recordable DVD). You should have one or more of these drives. Each of these types of drives (and any combination drives that provide similar functionality) can be used to rip music from an audio CD. So youll want to ensure that each of them is set up correctly.

Using DIGITAL COPYING AND ERROR CORRECTION


When it comes to ripping CDs, there are two basic hardware-related options, copy type and error correction. The copy type can be either analog or digital, and which works best for you depends on your system. A digital copy is generally preferable, because it will give the highest quality output and doesnt require you to shut off other system sounds while ripping. However, if you experience problems with digital copying, you can choose analog mode. This will work fine, but you will want to

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ensure that your system isnt making any other sounds during the copy process. And with analog mode copying, you cant listen to the CD while you rip it. The second option, error correction, will attempt to fix automatically small flaws that can crop up during ripping. If you hear faint scratches or pops while ripping CDs, you should turn on error correction, though it slows down the ripping process. Heres some advice: I set up my drives for digital copying and no error correction, and you can safely do the same if your equipment is less than a year old. Otherwise, you might need to experiment with analog recording and error correction. Heres how you set up these options: 1. Open Windows Media Player and choose Options from the Tools menu. 2. Navigate to the Devices tab, as shown in Figure 4-1. Note that this page might take a while to render, depending on how many compatible devices (speakers, display, CD drives, portable audio devices, Pocket PC devices, and the like) you have connected to your system.

Figure 4-1: The Devices tab lists each of the multimedia devices you have attached to your system.

3. Select a CD-type device from the list and click the Properties button. As shown in Figure 4-2, the Properties dialog box for that device will display. 4. In the Rip section, ensure that Digital is chosen. If you experience problems later, you can try switching to analog or turning on error correction as well.

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5. Repeat this process for any other CD-type devices that are listed.

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Figure 4-2: The CD Drive Properties dialog box lets you determine how audio is copied to your computer.

Configuring Audio Format and Quality


Next, you want to choose the audio format (MP3 or WMA) and quality (resolution). Out of the box, Windows Media Player (version 10 or newer) supports WMA format in 48, 64, 96, 128, 160, and 192 Kbps and MP3 format at 128, 192, 256, or 320 Kbps.

Tip
I prefer to use 160 Kbps MP3 files, which you may have noticed isnt a choice for some reason. Fortunately you can make it an available option if youre a power user and dont mind tooling around in the Windows Registry. Note that editing the Registry can be dangerous, so proceed with caution. To do so, open the Start menu, then select Run, type regedit, and press the Enter key to launch the Registry Editor. Then, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ MediaPlayer \ Settings \ MP3Encoding. Youll see keys like LowRate, MediumRate, and HighRate. Double-click MediumRate to display the Edit DWORD Value dialog, and then change the Base to Decimal. In the Value data, change 192000 to 160000 and then click OK and close the Registry Editor. The next time you start WMP10, youll have 160 Kbps encoding available as an option.

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SETTING UP AUDIO FORMAT AND QUALITY


You have three basic options for audio format and quality: Which format (WMA, MP3), whether its digitally protected, and what encoding rate (Kbps) you will use. 1. In Windows Media Player, select Tools Options, and navigate to the Rip Music tab, as shown in Figure 4-3.

Figure 4-3: The Rip Music tab determines how and where CD audio is copied to your system.

2. In the Format drop-down list box, choose mp3. 3. Choose an encoding rate on the Audio quality slide bar. My recommendation is not to use an encoding rate below 128 Kbps, but obviously its up to you.

A NOTE ABOUT CONTENT PROTECTION


If you select a WMA format, you can choose a Copy protect music choice as well. When you check this option, all music that you rip will be digitally protected, which means that you can play the tracks on your computer, transfer the tracks to a compatible portable audio device (like those from Creative and Rio), and burn the songs to a mix audio CD. What you cant do is copy them to another PC.

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Why would you want to do such a thing? Well, the recording industry would certainly like to see this option be mandatory, since it would aid it in its quest to abolish music piracy. But I find the content protection features to be difficult to work with, and I dont recommend using this feature, well intentioned though it may be. If youre interested in this more, please refer to the Windows Media Player help file, which will explain in gruesome detail what you will go through while working with licensed files. You didnt really just look at Windows Media Player help, did you? Seriously, youll regret it if you turn this feature on.

Choosing a Location Where Music Will Be Stored


Another important option on the Rip Music page of the Options dialog box determines where your digital music files are stored and how they are named. You looked at file management issues in Chapter 3, and its good to think a bit about this before you beginning ripping CDs. By default, files ripped from audio CDs are stored in your My Music folder, and thats fine for starters. But you can change this location, and how your files are stored, using the two buttons located in the Rip music to this location section of the Rip Music page. Heres how. To change the location where ripped music is stored: 1. Open the Options dialog box for Windows Media Player and navigate to the Rip Music tab. 2. Click the Change button. The Browse For Folder dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 4-4. 3. Choose a new location.

Figure 4-4: The Browse For Folder dialog box allows you to select a location where CD audio files will be copied.

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To change how your digital audio files are named when theyre created: 1. Click the File Name button. The File Name Options dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 4-5. This dialog box determines how the file names generated by Windows Media Player will look. I prefer the Arists-Album-Track number-Song title format myself, but there are arguments to be made for various file-naming techniques, so feel free to experiment.

Figure 4-5: A number of file naming options are available in the File Name Options dialog.

2. Choose a separator type from the Separator drop-down list box. 3. Click OK when complete.

Tip
If you feel constrained by the file-naming options WMP10 offers you, help is on the way. Microsofts cool TweakMP PowerToy, available from the www.WMPlugins.com Web site, enables you to perform a number of cool tweaks to WMP10. But chief among them is new file-naming options. So, for example, if you want both spaces and dashes between the details you include in a file name (for example, Arists - Album - Track number - Song title.mp3 instead of Arists-Album-Track number-Song title.mp3, this is the place to which you should turn.

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Cross-Reference
Ive sort of glossed over the important issues here, but file management is actually a pretty important topic. It is covered in detail in Chapter 3, so check that chapter if you havent already.

Ripping a CD: Copying Music to Windows XP


OK, youve configured WMP to your hearts content, and youve determined how and where music will be copied to your computer. So now its time to do the deed. Pick out your favorite audio CD a 60-minute gem from some late 80s hair metal band, perhaps and pop it into your PCs CD player. If your system is configured as it came from the factory, an Auto Play dialog box will launch when you insert the disc, as shown in Figure 4-6. From here, you can choose various options, including Play audio CD using WMP and Rip music from CD using WMP. If you or your PC maker installed other applications that can handle audio CDs in some way, you might see other choices related to those applications as well. If you choose Rip, WMP10 will begin copying the CD. But this isnt always a good idea. Because WMP10 relies on an online database to provide your files with the correct CD information, chances are the information its going to write could be incomplete or incorrect. So its a good idea to actually look over the information before you start ripping. So youll do just that. But first you have to think a bit about what to do if you arent connected to the Internet. So just cancel the Auto Play dialog box and start WMP10 if its not running already.

Figure 4-6: By default, audio CDs trigger an Auto Play dialog box when you insert them in a Windows XP machine.

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If you dont see an Auto Play dialog box, or some other application launches when you insert an audio CD, just cancel whatever XP is doing and launch WMP. Then navigate to the Rip section of the player and proceed.

What to Do If Youre Offline


If you are connected to the Internet, and you navigate to the Rip section of WMP10, you should see the album title and track list appear (see Figure 4-7). This is crucial for copying music to your system, because you will need this information for the individual files metadata, and the file and folder names. If youre not connected to the Internet, you will see the CD listed as Unknown Album (date time) where date will contain todays date and time will provide the total running time of the album, as shown in Figure 4-8. Each track will be listed simply as a track number, though the running time for each song will be correct.

Figure 4-7: When connected to the Internet, WMP can automatically supply information about the current CD.

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Figure 4-8: Ripping CDs while offline is not a good idea, as each CD would require a lot of information to be manually inputted.

Generally speaking, its a lot easier to rip CDs when youre connected to the Internet, because WMP10 will auto-populate the album information, or CD metadata, for you. But of course, not everyone has a 24/7 Internet connection yet, so it is possible to manually enter this information if youre offline. And you have a death wish: I strongly advise against this if it can be avoided.

Copying that CD
In the Rip view, by default, you will see a list of each song on the CD, along with a check mark next to each song title, indicating that those are the songs that will be copied. If youd like to exclude certain songs, click the checkbox next to their names, and those files will not be copied. You can alternatively uncheck or check the entire list by clicking the checkbox in the top column header, on the left, as shown in Figure 4-9.

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Figure 4-9: Clearing that top checkbox will deselect all of the songs on the CD.

GETTING CD NAMES
If WMP10 didnt automatically get the name of the CD, its artist, and the songs on that CD, you can click the Find Album Info button in the Rip view to do so manually. You should also do this if the CD was incorrectly identified.

VIEWING CD ALBUM INFORMATION


You can also get more information about the currently selected CD by clicking the Find Album Info button, as shown in Figure 4-10. This will display a picture of the album, a way to buy this album online, information about the album, a list of album reviews, and a track listing. There is also a link to an artist profile. What you see here will vary based on whether youve configured a default online music service, which I discuss in Chapter 6, so dont worry if your display is slightly different. Click View Album Info again to close the Album Details view.

FINAL CHECK: MAKING SURE THE INFORMATION IS CORRECT


Theres just one last thing to do before you rip your CD: Make sure all the song titles and other information are correct. You can fix this later, as described in the Managing Digital Audio Metadata section later in this chapter, but its always a good idea to get off on the right foot and fix any obvious problems before you rip. Maybe a song title is incorrect or the genre is different from what youd expect (Is Sting rock or pop?). To correct a song title or other bit of information before you copy that music to your hard drive, select the offending text and then click once to display an edit box, like the one in Figure 4-11, that enables you to edit the text. And then repeat for any other problems you find. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Figure 4-10: The Album Details view provides more information about the current CD.

Figure 4-11: You can edit information about each track before you rip it to your hard drive.

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LET ER RIP
OK, enough dawdling. Its time to rip that CD. Press the Rip Music button. The display will change a bit, as shown in Figure 4-12, to show you the copy progress of each song under the Rip Status heading. If you need to stop the copy at any time, press Stop Rip. When the copy is complete, navigate to the My Music folder. You should see a new folder using the name of the artist that recorded the CD you just ripped, as shown in Figure 4-13.

Figure 4-12: While ripping, a copy progress bar is shown in the Rip Status column to show you where the status of the ripping process.

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Figure 4-13: When you rip a CD to your system, an artist folder will show up in My Music.

If you open this folder, you will see another folder, this one representing the CD album you just ripped. This is shown in Figure 4-14. Open that folder, and you will see a list of files, each corresponding to the individual songs you ripped; this can be seen in Figure 4-15. When you rip a CD to your hard drive, it is automatically added to your Media Library as well. So you should see new entries under both Artist and Album that correspond to the CD you copied. Play the songs, create playlists, and enjoy yourself. Easy, eh? Now, just repeat the process for your other 300 CDs and call me in six months. Windows Longhorn will probably be out by then. But seriously, folks. Once you see how easy it is to rip CDs, and the high quality of the resulting files, you may never use an audio CD again.

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Figure 4-14: Each Artist folder will contain at least one Album folder, including one for the CD album you just ripped.

Figure 4-15: And finally, each Album folder will contain individual audio files.

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GETTING ALBUM ART


By default, WMP10 generates pretty album art for your CD album folders, but if you find a folder that doesnt have album art for some reason, you can actually download the pictures from the Web and apply them to the naked folders as needed. To do so, visit a site such as www.amazon.com and search for the album thats missing its album art. Most Amazon CD listings include a picture of the album, and many have a see larger picture link for an even better image. Save that file to your hard drive by right-clicking the image in Internet Explorer and choosing Save Image As. Then, navigate to the folder thats missing the album art and save it as folder.jpg. That image will then become the default album art image displayed when you view the folder in Thumbnail view.

Tip
Folder art named folder.jpg must not exceed 200 KB in size. If the image youre renaming to folder.jpg does exceed this size, Windows will display a default image instead of the correct album art. You can use an image editor like Paint, included in Windows, or PhotoShop Elements, to shrink the image.

Managing Digital Audio Metadata


Once you begin ripping CDs to your system, you might not stop until your entire CD collection is copied; thats what happened to me, and Ive got hundreds of CDs, so it took a while. Getting music onto your computer opens up a variety of options, including copying that content to portable music devices like the Rio Carbon, not to mention various Digital Audio Receivers. But this brings a certain amount of complexity with it as well. You want to be sure that your media files are properly set up with the correct genre, recording years, and other metadata so that WMP10 and these other devices can more easily search and sort your music. Heres an example: Lets say youre having a dinner party and youd like to get a Jazz mix going, either through your PC directly or through a Digital Audio Receiver. If you didnt correctly label all of your Jazz music as the Jazz genre, you might miss out on some great songs. Or what if youd like to hear a collection of music from a particular year, like 1985? If the year for each song isnt set up correctly, this will be difficult or impossible. The good thing about this process is that you only have to do it once. And unlike some other tools that shall remain nameless, WMP does do a good job of getting that metadata filled in correctly. But there are gaps. And if you want to fix them, there are two main ways to do it: Through the shell or from within the media player itself. Shell-based media management is covered in the Chapter 3, so in this chapter, lets take a look at how you can change audio metadata information directly from within WMP10.

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Using the Media Library to Edit Metadata


Back when Windows Me hit the streets, I used to use Windows Media Player 7 solely for its Media Library. But I burned and ripped audio CDs with other tools because I didnt feel that WMP7 was up to snuff. This all changed, of course, with WMP8, but the Media Library is still a wonderful tool for organizing and managing your digital audio in this release. If anything, the Media Library in WMP10 is even better than earlier versions. The WMP10 Media Library provides a number of playlists by default, such as per-album artist and per-genre lists. This makes it easy to play all the songs by one artist, all the songs from one album, or all the music in a certain genre, automatically. Set it to shuffle and you can probably walk away from the player for the rest of the day if youve got enough music. When you select one of these built-in playlists, you will see a list of song titles in the right side of the media player. These are divvied up into columns for song title, artist, album, and others. Some of these items song title, artist, album, composer, and genre can be edited directly in the player. And when you do so, the underlying file is changed as well. What this means is that its possible to permanently change some of the metadata for WMA and MP3 files from WMP. Lets see how this works. 1. Start WMP10 and expand the Media Library so that a list of songs is visible in the Details pane, as shown in Figure 4-16. This can be an album or a list of songs by a particular artist.

Figure 4-16: WMP automatically creates playlists such as Album Artist, which displays all of the albums youve ripped.

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2. Click once on a song title, as shown in Figure 4-17. This will highlight the entire line.

Figure 4-17: Clicking once on a track name will select that title.

3. Now, click again on the song title. This should show just the title as highlighted, but now in an edit box, indicating that you can rename the title, as shown in Figure 4-18. Do so, if its incorrect. 4. Repeat this process for the artist, album, composer, and genre fields to see how it works. You can use this technique to find songs that have metadata holes: Maybe you have an entire album where the genre is missing or incorrect. Or maybe theres a misspelling here or there. These things happen all the time. Fortunately, you can fix them, directly from within the media player. Another time this will come in handy is if youd been using another program such as Real Jukebox or MediaMatch to rip CDs before you had WMP. These programs work well enough, but often leave out or provide incorrect metadata (Real Jukebox, for example, uses the current year for the Year field when you rip MP3 files. Nice). With WMP, you can clean up your digital music collection in no time.

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Figure 4-18: Click again and you can edit the title or other information about that track.

Using the Advanced Tag Editor to Edit Metadata


You can also use the WMP10 Advanced Tag Editor to edit the metadata for one or more songs simultaneously. That last bit is what makes this tool particularly effective: Its easier to perform batch changes with the Advanced Tag Editor than it is in the player itself. Heres how. Lets say you found a CD that was imported into your Media Library with the wrong name. To change that title for all songs in the album simultaneously, select each of the songs and then rightclick and choose Advanced Tag Editor, as shown in Figure 4-19. The Advanced Tag Editor displays. Note that a number of songs are listed in the left-mounted list view, and not just one song. Now, select the checkbox next to Album and edit the name accordingly, as shown in Figure 4-20. Click OK when youre done.

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Figure 4-19: If you select multiple files, you can still perform actions on them as a group.

Figure 4-20: In the Advanced Tag Editor, you can edit the metadata from one or more song files simultaneously.

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Ripping CDs with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005


Users with Media Center PCs running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 have an even nicer experience when ripping CDs. Youll still want to follow along with all of the configuration settings described earlier in this chapter, because Media Center uses the same settings as WMP10. After theyre set up, however, you can use the graphical Media Center environment to rip CDs instead of WMP10 if youd like. The music will be added both to the Media Center My Music collection and to the WMP10 Media Library.

Working with CDs in Media Center


When you insert a CD into your PC while the Media Center environment is running, that CD shows up at the top of the My Music default view, which is the Albums listing shown in Figure 4-21. You can tell its a CD and not a locally copied album because of the CD graphic. When you select that CD, youre taken to the Album Details screen shown in Figure 4-22. Here, you can play songs from the CD or rip the CD to the hard drive using the Copy CD option. When you click Copy CD, Media Center prompts you to make sure you really want to rip the CD, as shown in Figure 4-23. Click Yes to continue. Then Media Center begins copying the CD. While the CD copies, you get a nice animated display that keeps you up to date on the copy process, as shown in Figure 4-24.

Figure 4-21: Media Center presents a much richer environment for dealing with digital music.

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Figure 4-22: The Album Details screen enables you to listen to CD music or copy that music to your hard drive.

Figure 4-23: Better safe than sorry: In a system accessed through a remote control, its easy to press the wrong button, so Media Center makes sure you know what youre doing.

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Figure 4-24: As the CD is ripped to the hard drive, Media Center keeps you up-to-date on the copy progress.

When the copy is complete, you can access this album through Media Center or the WMP10 Media Library.

Summary
In this chapter, you learned about ripping, or copying, CD music to your PC using Windows Media Player, the various audio formats that are available to you to do so, and the trade-offs of each, and ways in which you can configure WMP10 for recording. You also looked at the file locations to which you will store ripped music, some interesting WMP10 add-ons that let you better manage the files youll create, and the metadata behind those files that makes them more useful. In Chapter 5, you look at ways you can acquire music from non-digital sources, such as cassettes and videos, and examine the tools you can use to make such recordings. Between these two chapters, you should be able to digitize all of the audio and music content you have, and then move on to purchasing music digitally in the future, which you look at in Chapter 6.

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Chapter 5

Acquiring Music from Cassettes, DVDs, and Other Analog Sources


e live in a wonderful age of digital content: From online music and video services to ondemand HDTV broadcasts and video games, were almost constantly wrapped in the dull blue aura of digital consumption. To the younger among us, this is the way its always been, and our children will never know a day where their favorite TV show episodes, movies, and other content arent available at a moments notice. For us old fogies, however, the miraculous modern age preceded an equally exciting time when content was delivered with analog formats like cassette and VHS tape, record album, and even FM radio. Though we dont move kicking and screaming into the digital age, necessarily, many of us still have a wide range of content thats not available in digital formats. Itd be nice to migrate that content into the digital age, now wouldnt it? Fortunately, with Windows XP and a few other tools, recording your analog content, especially music and movie content, is very possible. In this chapter, you focus on moving analog audio content into the digital age.

Cross Reference
For more information about moving analog movie content onto your PC, see Chapter 13.

From Analog to Digital: Understanding the Issues


In the past, digital entertainment devices such as cassette players, DVD players, and CD players were basically islands of functionality that had no way of connecting with each per se or understanding anything beyond their own insular little worlds. To copy analog content or even digital content in

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an analog fashion to a PC, youre going to need three things, a way to connect analog devices to your PC, software that will allow you to record analog content, and then software that will take the raw unedited files you record and turn them into honed, final recordings you can enjoy as you do any other digital content.

Making the Connection: Hardware You Need to Make It Work


The hardware connection is, perhaps, the most obvious. Consider a typical tape deck, VCR, or even DVD player. Each of these devices includes red and white RCA-style audio out ports. With the proper cabling, you can connect these ports to the Line In port on your sound card. Alternatively, you could use a USB-based audio-in solution, or a dedicated analog-to-digital converter, which will likely handle both video and audio. Ive used such a device to record analog content (both audio and video) from DVD movies, VHS tapes, and cassette tapes. You might think it odd that anyone would want to record content from a DVD movie in an analog format. But consider this: If youre really into music, you may own a number of DVD movies from favorite groups that include live concert footage, unique versions of songs, and other content that would be nice to have in digital music format. By using tools such as those described in a moment, youll be able to do just that.

Tools of the Trade: Software You Need to Make It Work


On the software end, youll need tools that will record the analog audio stream coming into your computer. Youll also need a way to edit those recordings so that they are as clean and well-formed as possible. When you purchase a song from an online music service (see Chapter 6) or rip an audio CD to your PC (see Chapter 4), each song is a discrete unit, starting and ending on cue. When you record songs from an analog source, however, youll need to edit the beginning and end of each song (typically with a fade of some sort) in order to achieve the same effect. If you were recording FM radio to cassette tape 15 or 25 years ago, you know what Im talking about. Fortunately, Windows XP includes a wonderful tool the misnamed Windows Movie Maker that enables you to record and edit analog audio. And if you dont mind spending a few bucks, Microsoft also has a cool utility called the Plus! Analog Recorder, part of its Plus! Digital Media Edition product, which you can purchase. You explore both of these tools in this chapter.

On the Web
Plus! Digital Media Edition is also included as part of a package called the Plus! SuperPack for Windows XP. Both Plus! Digital Media Edition and the Plus! SuperPack can be ordered from the Microsoft Web site at www.microsoft.com/plus/.

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Recording Audio from an Analog Source with Windows Movie Maker


Given its name, you might think that a tool called Windows Movie Maker (WMM) is only good for, well, making movies. Nothing could be further from the truth: In addition to being an excellent way to edit and create home movies (see Chapter 14), you can also use WMM to make stunning photo slideshows (see Chapter 10) and to record and edit analog audio. Obviously, youll focus on the later capability here. But given its versatility, Microsoft should have named this tool Windows Media Maker, not Windows Movie Maker. Ah well.

On the Web
Make sure you have the latest version of Windows Movie Maker, which is 2.1 at the time of this writing. You can find the latest version on Windows Update or download it manually from the Microsoft Web site: www.microsoft.com/moviemaker.

To record audio from an analog source, youll need to first set up the hardware. This involves running the appropriate cabling between your analog source and your PC, as described previously. In my home office, Ive got a complete home stereo system set up with a receiver, VHS player, DVD player, and cassette recorder. These devices are there specifically for converting my huge library of analog content to digital formats, which Ive been doing over time. On my main workstation, Ive added a Canopus ADVC-50 digital video converter, which converts analog video and audio to digital formats you can use on a PC. However, you dont have to install an internal device like the ADVC. Many companies make USB-based analog-to-digital converters as well. Any of these should work fine for audio work. With the cables connected, its time to fire up Windows Movie Maker, which is more fully described in Chapter 14 if youre not familiar with the interface. In Movie Maker, select File New Project to create an empty new project. Then, select Capture from video device in the Capture Video section of the Movie Tasks pane. (If you dont see the Movie Tasks pane, select View and then Task Pane.) This launches the Video Capture Wizard, as shown in Figure 5-1. Now, you may logically be wondering why were using a Video Capture Wizard to capture audio content. Turns out there are two reasons. First, there is no Audio Capture Wizard in WMM, which is lame, but thats what were stuck with. Second, in cases where youre recording the audio portion of a DVD, VHS, or other video source, it helps to be able to see the actual video, so you can navigate to the right place; the wizard lets you do that. In the first phase of the wizard, supply a name for the capture video file (and the project). Then, click Next. In the next section, shown in Figure 5-2, you will typically want to choose Best quality for playback on my computer (recommended), which is the default, or Digital device format (DVAVI), if youre using an analog-to-digital converter, like I am. In either case, this format will only be used for the raw recording. After you edit that down to a usable song, youll save it in a format thats accessible from WMP.

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Figure 5-1: The Video Capture Wizard enables you to record video as well as audio.

Figure 5-2: Here, you pick the quality level for the raw footage. Choose the highest-quality format available on your PC.

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If you selected the DV-AVI format, youll need to select Capture parts of the tape manually in the Capture Method phase. In the Capture Video phase of the Video Capture Wizard, you will actually perform the capture process. If youre using a video source, like a DVD disc or VHS tape, you can use the Preview display to navigate to the appropriate place in the recording. For a purely audio source, you will have to listen to the source to navigate to the appropriate place. Lets say youre recording a single song from a DVD disc or VHS tape. After navigating to the appropriate place, rewind a few seconds to give yourself some lead time. Then, clear the checkbox titled Create clips when the wizard finishes and then click the Start Capture button to being capturing the audio (and video). Press the Play button on the appropriate device to start the playback. When the song ends, wait a few seconds, again for some lead time, and then click the Stop Capture button. Then, click Finish and pause playback on the analog device. WMM will then import the content. When its done, youll see a new clip in the Details pane in the center of the WMM window, as shown in Figure 5-3. You can double-click on the clip to play it in the Monitor pane and see how things came out. Remember, you still need to edit the song before it should be moved into your audio collection.

Figure 5-3: Its unedited, but as soon as recording is done, you can play back the song you recorded.

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Editing an Analog Recording with Windows Movie Maker


To edit your raw recording, you must first place the Storyboard/Timeline area at the bottom of the WMM window into Timeline mode by pressing the Show Timeline button. (Again, refer to Chapter 14 if you need help navigating around the WMM interface.) Then, drag the clip you just created into the Timeline. When you do so, youll see that the video and audio wells are filled with content, as shown in Figure 5-4.

Figure 5-4: Now you can get rid of that video track and start editing.

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The next step is to separate the video and audio tracks of the source file, thus removing the unneeded video portion. To do so, simply grab the audio portion of the clip in the Audio well of the Timeline, and drag it to the Audio/Music well. When you do so, the Video portion disappears, as shown in Figure 5-5. Then, drag it as far to the left as you can within its well, so that the audio clip bumps up with the beginning of the Timeline.

Figure 5-5: When you drag the audio portion of the clip into the Audio/Music well, the video portion disappears.

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Now, you need to trim the unnecessary dead space off the beginning and end of the clip. Using the playback controls, experiment with where youd like the clip to begin and drag the beginning of the clip to the right until its at the appropriate place, as shown in Figure 5-6. This action is nondestructive: If you screw it up, you can resize the clip again and regain any removed material. When youre sure its right, drag the clip back to the left again so that it bumps up against the beginning of the Timeline.

Figure 5-6: You can non-destructively trim the beginnings and ends of audio clips.

Now, apply a fade-in effect to the audio clip so that the start of the song isnt jarring. To do this, right-click the clip and choose Fade In. With the beginning of the clip edited, its time to repeat the editing process for the end of the clip. This process is almost identical to that of trimming the beginning of the clip. The only difference is that youll be grabbing the end of the clip and dragging left. When youre done, right-click the clip and choose Fade Out. Now, play back your masterpiece and make sure it begins and ends properly.

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Saving the Audio File to Disk


When youre ready to save the clip as a finished song file, choose Save to My Computer from the Finish Movie section of the Movies Tasks list. Youll see the incongruously named Save Movie Wizard appear, as shown in Figure 5-7. Here, you will give your song a name, and choose a place to save it. In the next phase, you choose a quality setting for the saved file. The default is Best quality for playback on my computer, and on my machine, thats a 160 Kbps WMA file, which is indeed quite good. If youd like a different setting, select Show more choices and select an option, from 8 Kbps voice-quality WMA to 160 Kbps WMA. Then click Next to save the file.

Figure 5-7: Even though it says Save Movie, this wizard can also save audio files.

Editing the Audio Files Metadata


Youre not quite done. Remember that the music you rip from CD includes a lot of metadata. In order for your new recording to be equally valuable for automatically created playlists in WMP, youre going to want to edit the metadata of the file so that its complete. When the wizard finishes, navigate with My Computer to the folder in which you saved the file. Then right-click the file and choose Properties to display its Properties dialog box. Click the Summary tab and then make sure its on Advanced view. (If it isnt, youll see a button labeled Advanced.) It should resemble Figure 5-8.

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Figure 5-8: Time to get busy. Here, you can enter the metadata that will uniquely identify this file.

In the Summary page of the Properties dialog box, enter the information for Artist, Album Title, Year, Genre, and Title. Then, click OK to save the information, which will be encoded as part of the file. Copy it into an appropriate folder under My Music, and then drag it into WMP to play the file. Congratulations! Now you just have to convert the other 1100 songs you have on VHS and cassette and youll be done. Well, thats how my situation feels anyway.

Recording Audio from an Analog Source with Plus! Analog Recorder


Windows Movie Maker is a great tool, but if you want something a little more automated and dont mind dropping $20 on Plus! Digital Media Edition (or $30 on Plus! SuperPack for Windows XP, which includes Plus! Digital Media Edition), then you may prefer the Plus! Analog Recorder. Plus! Analog Recorder, shown in Figure 5-9, is a wizard-based application that steps you through the process of recording songs from analog-based sources. As with the Movie Maker steps, you will need to make the appropriate hardware/cable connections first, of course.

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Figure 5-9: Plus! Analog Recorder isnt free, but it almost completely automates the process of recording analog audio to your PC.

In the first phase of the wizard, you will need to choose the recording device and, depending on the device, the input channel. If youre recording directly to a sound card, the device will be the sound card and the input channel will likely be Line In. You should ensure that youre recording at an acceptable level before starting. To do so, on the analog device, start the playback of the song youd like to record. Then, click the Start button in the wizard to analyze the sound levels. It will automatically move the recording level to an appropriate level in order to ensure the best recording, as shown in Figure 5-10. When youre done, press Stop and then rewind the analog recording to the appropriate place. In the next phase of the wizard, you will trigger your recording by clicking the red Record button in the wizard and pressing Play on your analog device. As the music is recorded, Plus! Analog Recorder will count down the elapsed time and visually display the recording level (see Figure 5-11). When the song has completed, click Stop and then click Next.

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Figure 5-10: Before you begin a recording, you should detect the levels to ensure that the volume of the recording is correct.

Figure 5-11: As Plus! Analog Recorder records the audio, it provides feedback about the progress of the recording.

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In the next phase of the wizard, you can edit the tracks youve recorded and provide metadata information for their Name, Artists, Album, and Genre, as shown in Figure 5-12. If youve recorded an entire concert or CD, for example, you can split it up into individual tracks here; buttons in the center of the wizard enable you to split and combine tracks, delete tracks, and preview each recording. But these buttons are also useful for trimming the beginning and end of a single song, so you can perform some of the same edits here that you did in WMM in the previous section.

Figure 5-12: In this phase, you edit the tracks you recorded and add metadata.

After making any edits, press Next to navigate to the Clean your tracks phase of the wizard. Though it sounds like an attempt at covering up illicit actions, this phase of the wizard actually helps you remove the pops and hisses that are common with analog recordings. You can experiment with removing both or either, as shown in Figure 5-13, to see which gives you the most desirable results. When youre done, click Next again. Here, the wizard prompts you for a location to which to save the track(s) youve created and the quality level to use for the files youre saving, as shown in Figure 5-14. As with most Microsoft tools, the Plus! Analog Recorder only lets you save in WMA format, but you can choose from a wider range of quality levels than you get in WMM, all the way from 32 Kbps to 320 Kbps. You can also optionally add the saved song(s) to a playlist in WMP from this phase of the wizard.

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Figure 5-13: This part of the wizard helps you remove the most noticeable artifacts that typically hamper analog recordings.

Figure 5-14: Options, options, options: The wizard gives you a wide range of quality levels from which to choose.

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After you click Next again, your songs are saved to disk. Then the wizard completes and optionally allows you to start another recording.

Tip
If you have a video card that supports this feature, you can actually use Plus! Analog Recorder to record from the WAV Out Mix input channel, which is basically the sound channel on your PC through which all sound passes. That means you can record Internet radio stations or even streamed music to which youve subscribed over the air in a manner similar to what us old-timers used to do when we recorded FM radio to cassette. I should note that recording subscribed content in this manner is questionable at best, though Ive heard that these so-called analog hole recordings, as theyre called, actually bypass digital copyright laws. I dont recommend you taking the chance, of course, but its interesting that Microsoft ships a tool like this.

Summary
In this chapter you looked at the ways you can acquire analog music from cassettes, DVDs and other sources. As you move further into the digital age, youll often find music recorded in older formats that you want to bring along with you. Windows XP provides Windows Movie Maker, which can handle your analog capture needs. However, because it isnt an automated process, if you have a large amount of audio to convert, you should consider the automation features in the Plus! Analog Recorder, which is part of the Plus! Digital Media Edition pack (sold separately). In Chapter 6 you examine the growing world of online music services, from F .Y.E Download Zone to Wal-Mart Music Downloads. Youll look at the offerings of these and other services, how to buy music from them, and more. Also discussed is Digital Rights Management and how it affects the choices you make when working with your music files.

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Chapter 6

Digital Music Store: Working with Online Music Services

n the late 1990s, pirated music stored in the MP3 music format clogged Internet servers as college students and other people eagerly downloaded and traded these illicit files. The time was dominated by services such as Napster, which grew to infamy when they embraced the free trade of pirated music and then fell easily underneath an obvious and devastating legal attack from the major record labels. As the new millennium began, Napster and most other dubious file-sharing services were shut down, though pockets of less-organized resistance can still be found to this day. For a few years there, however, it looked like the spread of illegal music would doom the recording industry to ever-lowered profits and, eventually, to obsolescence. Then something unexpected happened. On April 28, 2003, Apple Computer introduced its iTunes Music Store, and digital music hasnt been the same since. The iTunes Music Store wasnt the first online service to offer legal digital music for sale, but it was the first to garner the cooperation of all of the major music labels, and it was the first to offer uniform pricing: All tracks would be sold for 99 cents each, and most complete albums would sell for $9.99. Combined with Apples incredible iPod portable audio player (see Chapter 18), and Apples iTunes application, the iTunes Music Store has revolutionized the music industry. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before Microsoft responded. Microsofts initial reaction to iTunes was somewhat muted. Part of the reason was that Apple had chosen to go with its own proprietary Protected AAC format for songs sold through iTunes: Because Apple refused (and continues to refuse) to license the Protected AAC format, which is based on the proprietary Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, music purchased from iTunes cannot be used in other media players, like Windows Media Player, and cannot be played back on non-iPod devices. These limitations makes Protected AAC and thus, Apples service much less interesting and capable than solutions based on Windows Media Audio (WMA), a Microsoft format that is widely licensed and used by virtually all other online music services today. As iTunes grew in acceptance, however, Microsoft came to realize that its own WMA format was in jeopardy. And today, there are numerous services many of which are hosted directly from within Windows Media Player that take advantage of Microsofts audio formats and the infrastructure the company has created with its media player. Because of this, Windows XP users like yourself have an unprecedented level of choice when it comes to choosing which online music services to

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use. In this chapter, you look at these choices and examine how you can use them and indeed mix and match them to best effect.

On the Web
To take advantage of most of the services mentioned in this chapter, you will need the latest version of Windows Media Player, which was, at the time of this writing, Windows Media Player 10. You can download the latest version from Windows Update, or through the Microsoft Web site: www.microsoft.com/ windows/windowsmedia/.

An Introduction to Online Music Services


Online music services allow you to legally purchase music either singles or entire albums in the form of digital music files. These files are always stored in a form that can be protected against illegal copying. The technology used to enforce this protection, called Digital Rights Management (DRM), is imperfect and has limitations, but its generally implemented in a way that is reasonably usable, depending on the service. Most online music services use the Windows Media Audio (WMA) format, which uses Microsofts Windows Media DRM copy protection scheme. Apples iTunes Music Store, as mentioned above, uses the Protected AAC audio format, while the RealNetworks RealPlayer Store uses RealNetworks DRM on top of the proprietary AAC format. Microsofts DRM scheme is particularly interesting because the company has designed it to be extensible to portable audio and media devices, set-top boxes called digital media receivers, and other devices, in addition to Windows-based PCs. That means that you can purchase a digital song which, remember, comes in a restricted and protected file and play it back from a variety of places, including compatible car stereos, home stereos, set-top boxes, and the like. Its this ecosystem of complete end-to-end solutions that makes the WMA-based services so very exciting. Unlike with some non-WMA solutions, you arent limited when you choose a WMA-based store. In any event, all online music services offer songs for sale and, in some cases, for streaming or subscription download in a particular format. Consider the process you go through when you rip an audio CD to your hard drive. If you followed my advice in Chapter 4, you are probably recording music using 160 Kbps MP3 files. MP3 is an unprotected audio format, which means that you cannot apply DRM protection to such a file. However, you might also choose to record CD-based music in the WMA format, which offers certain advantages over the MP3 format, including better audio fidelity and smaller file sizes. Most online music services use a DRM-encoded version of WMA, typically at 128 Kbps (but sometimes as high as 160 Kbps or even 256 Kbps, depending on the service), which is basically equivalent, quality-wise, to 160 Kbps MP3. Thus, the audio quality of the files youll download from most online music services is quite good.

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Fair Use: Digital Rights Management and You


However, because these songs are encoded with DRM restrictions, you cant simply hand them over to friends as you can with unprotected MP3 files. Thats because DRM-encoded files require the user to log on occasionally to an Internet-based server to ensure that the owner is legally using the file. The restrictions built into these files are somewhat interesting but, more to the point, they also vary according to the service. The following restrictions are typically applied to songs purchased from online music services. Number of PCs on which you can play the music Music purchased from an online music store is tied to an account you create at that store. Once you download a song from such a store, you can copy it to a limited number of computers (typically 5 to 7), from which you can play back that music. You can authorize and de-authorize computers as needed. Since most people have fewer than 5 PCs, this isnt a huge problem. But since many people will forget to de-authorize computers if they sell them and move on to newer machines, some people will run into problems with this limitation. Most online services will electronically de-authorize PCs for you even if you can no longer access them, however. Number of times you can burn the music to CD Music that you purchase from an online store can be burned to a normal audio CD in Windows Media Player, and those CDs can be played on any CD player in the world. However, online music services limit the number of times you can burn music to CD without changing the order of songs, in a bid to defeat piracy (one person in a dorm room could buy a single copy of Van Halens latest CD via an online music store for $9.99 and then make 29 cent duplicates on blank CDs for all of their friends). Most services let you burn unaltered playlists up to 7 times. Number of times you can copy the music to a portable device Most online music services allow you to copy protected WMA files to as many compatible portable devices as youd like, but some do have restrictions. Number of times you download music from the service Most online music services do not allow you to download music youve purchased more than once. This means youll want to back up early and often and, possibly, pick the rare service that does allow multiple downloads of the same song (without having to pay for them a second or third time). You can actually get around most of these restrictions and, because of backup issues, I recommend doing so and explain ways to circumvent the DRM protection of these purchased files (legally) later in this chapter. The rationale here is simple: Dont be afraid to purchase music from online music services because you think that the DRM protection will later prevent you from enjoying your music. You can archive your purchased music in non-protected ways.

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An Overview of the Best Online Music Experiences


Today, a number of rivals exist to challenge Apples dominance of the online music services market, and many of the best options are available from directly within Windows Media Player (WMP). Some, like MSN Music, are installed automatically with WMP. Others, like Wal-Mart Music Downloads, require a separate software download that is triggered automatically when you attempt to access the service for the first time. In WMP, you access online music services and other related services from the Online Stores button in the top right area of the player (the arrow next to the MSN butterfly). As shown in Figure 6-1, when you click this button, a drop-down list appears, giving you access to all of the available services. To visit a service, simply select it in the list.

Figure 6-1: WMP offers access to a wide range of online music services and other services.

In the following sections, Ill highlight the services that shipped with the initial release of Windows Media Player 10 in late 2004. By the time you read this, more services will likely have been added. To see a complete list of services, select Browse all Online Stores from the Online Stores button in WMP.

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F.Y.E. DOWNLOAD ZONE


The F .Y.E. Download Zone, shown in Figure 6-2, is the online companion to the F .Y.E. retail stores. Like most online music services, the F .Y.E. Download Zone provides a la carte song downloads (using the 128 Kbps WMA format), but it also offers a music streaming subscription service for a monthly fee. However, F .Y.E. Download Zones streaming service is available only on PCs: You cant transmit the streams to devices of any kind.

Figure 6-2: F .Y.E. Download Zone.

MSN MUSIC
Microsofts offering, MSN Music (see Figure 6-3), will likely emerge as one of the key rivals to iTunes. Today, MSN Music offers one of the strongest music collections available online, and a wealth of exclusive content, but only provides it via a la carte song downloads (typically very high quality 160 Kbps WMA format, but certain classic tracks utilize variable bit rate, or VBR, WMA format at up to 256 Kbps for the ultimate in audio quality). Future versions of MSN Music may offer a subscriptionbased offering similar to Napster, which is described below, but MSN Music does integrate with the subscription-based MSN Radio Plus service, which may be of interest (but does not allow you to download music to disk or to devices).

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Figure 6-3: MSN Music.

MUSICMATCH DOWNLOADS
Though its often overlooked, MusicMatch Downloads (see Figure 6-4) offers very high-quality music downloads (160 Kbps WMA), which should make it appealing to discriminating music buyers. MusicMatch also offers a nice streaming service called MusicMatch On Demand, which has garnered many loyal fans.

MUSICNOW
MusicNow, shown in Figure 6-5, offers 99 cent downloads (128 Kbps WMA) and $9.99 albums like most services, but it also offers two premium subscription services, MusicNow Premium Radio and MusicNow Full Access. MusicNow Premium Radio costs just $5 a month and offers over 40 channels of commercial-free Internet radio stations, while Full Access, at $10 month, adds on-demand playing of tracks and albums from MusicNows a la carte download library.

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Figure 6-4: MusicMatch Downloads.

Figure 6-5: MusicNow.

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NAPSTER
As the brand that brought the recording industry to the brink of destruction, Napster has a lot of baggage, but the current company is actually an offshoot of digital media giant Roxio, makers of Easy CD Creator, which purchased the Napster name and relaunched the service as a legitimate, legal download and subscription service. Today, Napster, shown in Figure 6-6, offers the most extensive set of services available to music lovers. Like many other services, it offers 99 cent songs and $9.99 albums (128 Kbps WMA). But Napster also offers a Napster Premium service, for about $10 a month, which enables subscribers to stream any of the services songs. Furthermore, the trendsetting Napster To Go service, for about $15 a month, lets subscribers download songs to compatible portable audio and media devices, like Portable Media Centers. That means you can load up a 20 or 40 GB device with thousands of tracks to which youve subscribed, and not purchased, and listen to them whenever (and wherever) you want: All you have to do is keep your subscription active.

Figure 6-6: Napster.

PURETRACKS
Though Puretracks is a little-known service, it offers some of the highest-quality downloads on earth, with most tracks using a superior 192 Kbps WMA format. Puretracks, shown in Figure 6-7, is a la carte only, and doesnt offer a subscription service. Unlike many services, however, Puretracks also enables you to download purchased songs up to three times, which can be quite handy if youve inadvertently deleted a file or need to access a previously purchased song from a different computer.

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Figure 6-7: Puretracks.

WAL-MART MUSIC DOWNLOADS


Like its brick and mortar cousin, Wal-Wart Music Downloads (see Figure 6-8), is the bargain basement entry in the online music service market, offering 88 cent downloads and $9.44 albums. WalMart also offers a free streaming service that enables you to find songs you like and then purchase them. With its stock 128 Kbps songs, Wal-Mart isnt going to set the world on fire, but its a good deal for the budget-conscious.

OTHER ONLINE MUSIC SERVICES


In addition to the aforementioned services, there are a number of online music services hosted outside of WMP10. Only some of these, however, are of any interest. For example, BuyMusic.com emerged as the first major player in the wake of the release of Apples iTunes Music Store, but that service was quickly relegated to the backburner by parent company Buy.com because it was unable to establish the uniform licensing terms that made iTunes such a success. Today, Buymusic.com has been rolled into the wider Buy.com Web site and I dont recommend this service. The leading online music service, Apples iTunes Music Store (Figure 6-9) is excellent, with a great selection, plenty of unique features, and nice integration with Audible.com audio books (see below). However, because iTunes uses the proprietary Protected AAC format and is compatible only with the iPod and not other portable players, I cant really recommend it for most people. Apple fans and Mac users will likely be happy with the exclusive nature of iTunes, but that lack of choice will come back to haunt other users. That is, almost everyone.

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Figure 6-8: Wal-Mart Music Downloads.

Figure 6-9: Apple iTunes got the ball rolling, but my bet is that it will be left behind.

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The RealNetworks option, the RealPlayer Music Store, meanwhile, is highly recommended despite being based on the otherwise incompatible AAC format. Thats because Real has done the work to interoperate its purchased music with the iPod and hundreds of WMA-compatible portable audio players. The only sticking point of the RealPlayer Music Store, in my mind, is that it requires a separate download of Reals RealPlayer 10 software. Another interesting option, Virgin Digital, is actually based on WMA but doesnt (yet) integrate with WMP10 for some reason. Virgin Digital is a cool store, with 128 Kbps WMA downloads and a Digital Music Club subscription offering. The free service also offers over 60 low-quality Internet radio stations. My big beef with Virgin is the oddness of its standalone player. Theyll get there.

OTHER RELATED SERVICES


In addition to the various music services that are available, WMP10 also offers access to a number of other related services, many of which are quite cool. The Audible.com service provides access to tens of thousands of audio books, for example, which you can purchase per-book or through a subscription service. Audible books are sold in a proprietary non-WMA format, but work with many portable audio players and can be burned to CD otherwise. Court TV Extra is a paid subscription-only service (about $6 a month) that provides the latest news and access to live trials. Another paid service, MLB.com, has various tiers of subscriptions for about $10 to $15 a month that provides live and post-game access to virtually any baseball game. You can even view complete games for just $4 a game at any time, which might be fun for fans of the Red Sox Nation. Windows Media Player also hosts two movie services, Movie Link and CinemaNow, which let you download and watch Hollywood movies; we look at these services in Chapter 13. And finally, theres XM Radio Online, an interesting crossover service that lets XM Radios satellitebased customers access the services 75+ radio stations online for $4 a month. Or, if youre not an XM subscriber, you can access the online version of the service for $8 a month.

Buy Music Online


OK, its time to purchase your first digital song title online. All of these services will require you to start an account, though no money will change hands in most cases until youve actually made a purchase.

Pick a service
First, of course, youll need to pick a service. Actually, thats a bit of a misnomer: Because the music from all of these services is interoperable, you can purchase music from any or all of these services at any time. For that reason, I think you should shop around each time you want to buy something. First, go by quality: Puretracks, MSN Music, and MusicMatch typically offer the highest quality downloads, unless of course youre a classical fan, in which case MSN Music is a league of its own. Regardless, look around: If you dont see a song or album you want in one store, move along to the next.

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That said, for purposes of this example, were going to purchase a song from MSN Music, which is Microsofts online music service. But dont take that as an endorsement: Most of the services you can find inside of WMP 10 are quite good. Im just using MSN as a representative service.

Purchase music online from MSN Music


To purchase a song online, start Windows Media Player and enable the online music service you want to use MSN Music, in this case by selecting it in the list that appears when you click the online music store button. If youre not signed in, click the Sign In link and enter your logon and password information. Then, use the music services search or category listing features to find the music youd like to purchase. In this example, youre going to search for a song called Summer Sunshine, by The Corrs. So select Music Search text box and type in Summer Sunshine, as shown in Figure 6-10. Then press the Go button to initiate the search.

Figure 6-10: To find music you already know exists, the handy Search box will come in handy.

On the Search Results page, shown in Figure 6-11, you will see a number of results that match your search. In the song listing at the bottom of the page, there is a list of songs that contains the text Summer Sunshine.

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Figure 6-11: While some of the results can be surprising, you should be able to find what youre looking for.

To preview the song, press the small blue Play button next to the song Summer Sunshine by The Corrs, as shown in Figure 6-12. When you do so, a 30-second preview of the song will play, so you can ensure that its the song you want. As the song plays, the Play button changes to a green Stop button so you can stop playback if desired. To purchase the song, click the Buy $0.99 button next to that song, and the button changes into a green Confirm button; a new red Cancel button lets you back out. Click that button, and a few things happen. First, the button changes yet again, this time to a blue Purchased button. Second, a unique alert window appears in the lower right corner of your screen, alerting you when the download is complete, as shown in Figure 6-13. And third, your new song has been added to your Media Library, congratulations! To access it, navigate to the Media Library by clicking the Library tab. Then expand the tree view on the left to display All Music, Purchased Music, and then MSN Music. You should see your purchased song and be able to play it normally like any other song.

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Figure 6-12: Though its subtle and small, the Play button enables you to preview songs before you buy them.

Figure 6-13: This handy alert will let you know when your download is complete.

Obviously, you can also do other things at an online music service like MSN Music. If youd like to find more songs by a particular artist, simply click their name. In Figure 6-14, you can see the artist page for The Corrs, which lists all of the songs and albums MSN Music sells by that artist. You can also find lyrics, concert tickets, links to similar groups that other MSN Music customers like, and read a biography of the group. Other services offer similar functionality and offer a similar buying experience.

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Figure 6-14: MSN Music, like some of the other online music services, provides a number of ways to discover new music and information about bands.

Now What? Manage Purchased Music


OK, youve purchased music online and you think youre a high-tech geek. But now what? Digital music isnt like a CD, in that you dont get something physical you can look at and touch. No, a digital file is as ephemeral as air or wind, and if you lose it once, youve lost it forever. As with any other digital media files, youre going to want to manage your purchased music files intelligently so that theyre used to best advantage and backed up in the event of a catastrophic disaster. Here are a few issues to consider.

Mix and Match Playlists


One of the coolest but least obvious things about the many different WMA-based music services is that you can mix and match songs you purchase from each store with each other, and with unprotected songs you may have ripped from CD, in playlists. So, for example, you might create a playlist called My Favorite Songs and populate it with a combination of music purchased from various online stores. It will all play back fine, regardless of the source. This capability enables you to take advantage of the unique features that each service offers, and gives you the same type of choice youre use to when it comes to brick and mortar stores.

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Back up Your Purchased Music


To ensure that your original digital music files are safe, you should back them up to CD, DVD, or another PC. If possible, take copies of these back-ups off-site. We happen to live in the same town as my parents, so I sometimes drop off DVD-based backups there, so theyll be safe in case something horrible happens at my home. I know it sounds odd to have to think like that, but much of the data discussed in this book, especially personal photos and home movies, are memories. If you lose the originals, theyre gone forever.

Burn Your Purchased Music to CD


If you want to enjoy your purchased music in a car, on a CD player elsewhere in your home, or on a portable CD player, you can burn them to an audio CD using Windows Media Player. I discuss this process in Chapter 3.

Create Unprotected Versions of Your Protected Songs


One of the big issues with DRM-encoded digital music files is that theyre protected and thus harder to use, in general, than unprotected files. If you dont mind a little work, and purchase high-quality original songs, you can actually make unprotected versions of your protected songs. The resulting unprotected songs will be of slightly lower quality than the originals, however, which is why you should start with the highest-quality source possible, such as the songs offered by MSN Music, MusicMatch Downloads, or Puretracks. Generally speaking, the steps Im about to describe will work best with songs originally encoded at 160 Kbps or higher; if youre purchasing songs at 128 Kbps, the results will be unsatisfactory and low-quality. To make unprotected versions of your protected songs, first copy them to CD. Then, use WMP to rip, or copy, the music back to your PC. Though this process is described in Chapter 4, a couple of caveats apply. First, though I generally recommend using the MP3 format for CD rips, when you copy from one format to another, you lose quality, so set up WMP to rip CDs as 128 Kbps WMA files for this purpose. Second, unless you are literally ripping an original purchased CD (that is, you purchased an entire album from an online music service and then burned that to CD), you will probably have to manually enter all of the metadata for each song. This can be quite time consuming for individual tracks, but its worth it in my opinion.

Subscribe to Online Music Subscription Services


While a la carte music downloads and Internet radio-style streaming music are nice improvements over manually ripping music from audio CDs, theres a new digital music game in town, and its based around the subscription model. But Im not just talking about services that charge you a certain amount of money each month so you can listen to a collection of streaming music on a PC. No,

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were taking the next step here. A new generation of subscription services transcends the PC and enables you to listen to subscribed music on other connected devices in your home and on compatible portable devices. There are two underlying technologies that make this possible. For connected devices, that technology is called Windows Media Connect (WM Connect), and its basically just a standardized way for connected devices like digital media receivers (DMRs) and digital audio receivers (DARs) to communicate with a Windows-based PC that includes digital media content. For example, consider the powerful Roku line of SoundBridge digital media receivers (www.rokulabs.com), one of which is shown in Figure 6-15. These devices sit anywhere in your home and, when connected to speakers and, through Ethernet or wireless networking, to your home network, can play back music stored on your PC. That music can be unprotected MP3 and WMA songs, but it can also be music you purchased at any WMA-compatible online music service. Suddenly, the music youre buying online is much more accessible, and it can be accessed from the best stereo in your home, or, perhaps, from convenient locations from which you like to listen to music, such as bedrooms and the kitchen.

Figure 6-15: Roku offers a line of WMA-compatible digital media receivers that enable you to listen to purchased and subscribed music.

Most WMA-compatible portable audio players already support music thats been purchased from the WMA-compatible online services. But a new generation of devices, most obviously typified by the Portable Media Centers (shown in Figure 6-16, and further described in Chapter 18), also supports a new version of the Microsoft DRM scheme, codenamed Janus, which enables them to play back music youve subscribed to. Lets try to fully understand what that means. A Janus-compatible device, with a 20 or 40 GB hard drive, can store several thousand songs. To purchase those songs online would cost many thousands of dollars. But for just $10 to $20 a month, you can subscribe to a service that offers several hundred thousand, or even millions, of tracks, and you can then download any of those songs to your device at any time, and listen to them wherever you are. As your musical tastes change, you can rotate the content. Theres no reason to hold onto that 80s schlock that seemed so compelling at the time but hasnt aged well with you.

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Figure 6-16: A Janus-compatible portable audio player, like this Portable Media Center, offers unique subscription-based functionality.

At the time of this writing, only Napster offers a Janus-based service. Napsters online music service offerings are split into three tiers. At the bottom is Napster Light, which is free, and allows members to download songs for 99 cents each. In the middle of the Napster line is Napster Premium, which costs $9.99 a month and lets subscribers access any of the hundreds of thousands of songs Napster carries, at any time, from any PC. And at the top is the Janus-compatible service, Napster To Go, a $14.95 per month service, which provides all the benefits of Napster Premium, but lets you take your music with you on Janua-compatible devices like a Portable Media Center. Napster Premium and Napster To Go also offer other benefits; for example, subscribers can purchase songs for download and CD burning at a discount over Napster Light members. Lets see how this works. Fire up Windows Media Player and navigate to the Napster service via the online stores button. The Napster interface, shown in Figure 6-17, is among the busiest of the WMA-compatible online music services, but theres a lot there, so it pays to spend the time learning your way around.

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Figure 6-17: Napster: It aint pretty, but it does offer a number of advantages over other services, especially if you have a Janus-compatible portable device.

Like other online music services, Napster lets you discover new music in various ways. For the purposes of this example, however, lets assume that you want to go find music from a favorite band and then copy all of their music from Napster to a compatible portable device. Now remember, youre not actually buying any of this music. Instead, youve subscribed to Napster To Go and have legal access to all of Napsters tracks while youre a paying subscriber. I think we can all agree that Britney Spears is a musical genius (ahem). So lets navigate to her greatest hits collection (My Prerogative). In the Napster user interface, once youve selected an album or artist, youre presented with a split view like that shown in Figure 6-18. On the left is a tree view showing the albums available by a particular artist. And on the right is a list of the songs in the currently selected album.

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Figure 6-18: Napster logically lays out artist, album, and track information so you can find the music you want easily.

First, you must copy the songs to your PC. To do so, select all of the songs, or just the songs you want, right-click, and choose Add To Library. When the copy process is complete, Napster will alert you (though you can turn off that notification if youd like). Now, navigate to your Media Library and find the tracks you just copied. There are a number of ways to do this of course, but Ive found that the quickest way is to navigate to All Music, Purchased Music, and then Napster. Then find the songs in the list. To sync them with your portable device, select the songs and then change the Now Playing List to the Sync List. Then, drag the songs over to the Sync List, as shown in Figure 6-19. Those songs will then be copied to the device at the next synchronization. You can initiate the sync process by clicking Start Sync in the lower right of the player.

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Figure 6-19: Once the subscribed songs are in the Sync List, you can copy them to your portable device.

Access Online Music Services from a Media Center PC


If youve got a Media Center PC, you can access some of the online music services discussed in this chapter via the TV-friendly Media Center interface, using a remote control to purchase, stream, and subscribe to music. Online music services appear in the Online Spotlight section of the Media Center user interface, as shown in Figure 6-20. Its highly likely that additional services will be available by the time you read this.

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Figure 6-20: Media Center users can access the Online Spotlight section to see which Media Center-compatible online services are currently available.

To see how online music services work in Media Center, lets take a look at MSN Music. As you can see in Figure 6-21, the Media Center front-end to MSN Music is quite different looking than the version thats hosted inside of Windows Media Player. Thats because MSN worked to provide Media Center owners with a version of the service that works well with a remote and looks good on a TV. Its this sort of attention to detail that makes the Media Centerhosted services such a pleasure to use: Theyre quite accessible to someone sitting on a comfortable couch with a just a remote in their hand. You can do anything from this interface that you can do from the normal MSN Music: Browse and search music, listen to previews, listen to Internet radio stations, and purchase music. And because Media Center is so thoroughly integrated with WMP, you can even access all of your purchased music directly from the Media Center user interface. And yes, even that Janus-compatible subscription content works fine in Media Center, so you can keep the Britney playing all night long, you little masochist.

Tip
All of these services will also work with a Media Center Extender, which is described in Chapter 17. However, because many online music services require some sort of download, its best to set them up on the Media Center first, before trying to access them from an Extender. Once you do that, everything should work fine.

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Figure 6-21: Though the Media Center version of MSN Music has been specially tailored to work well in that environment, it offers all of the features and functionality of the normal version.

Take Purchased and Subscribed Music on the Road


If you have a WMA-compatible portable audio device or Portable Media Center, its likely that all of your purchased music can be copied to, and played on, that device. And if you have a Janus-compatible player, you can also copy subscribed music, as described above. The key is the Sync List, a special playlist in Windows Media Player that controls which content from your PC is copied to your portable device. You look more closely at various portable devices, and the Sync List, in Chapter 18.

On the Web
Microsoft also maintains a list of compatible portable devices on its Windows Media Web site. (www
.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/devices) and maintains a Web site called Plays For

Sure that details its work ensuring compatibility between WMP and various devices (www.playsforsure
.com).

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Summary
This chapter showed you some of the growing list of online music services available today, and your options for enjoying the music you can get from them. From the well-known Napster to the smaller services such as Puretracks, your choices are vast. You can purchase music online, create mix and match playlists, and burn your purchases to CD. Additionally, you can take your music on the road using devices like the new Portable Media Centers. In Chapter 7 you turn your attention to managing photos and images. You learn how to create customized image folders and do cool stuff such as creating slideshows and more. You also look more closely at editing images using various software tools and sharing these photos at home and on the Internet.

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Part II
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
Chapter 7

Managing Photos and Images


Chapter 8

Acquiring Photos with a Scanner


Chapter 9

Acquiring Photos with a Digital Camera


Chapter 10

From Still Frame to Full Frame: Photo Slide Shows

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Chapter 7

Managing Photos and Images

f you consider the various experiences that Microsoft has built into Windows XP, the ability to work easily with digital photos and other images has to be one of the most exciting. Digital photography is one of the fastest-growing consumer electronics markets, with even professional photographers now turning to digital photography as the ideal solution for most occasions. For the average user, digital photography has many advantages. But if youre on the fence, or a fan of traditional filmbased photography, you dont have to decide now: Windows XP will work equally well with traditional photos, using a scanner, as it does with digital photos. However you acquire your images, the goal is to get them on the computer. From there you can manage your photographs and archive, view, edit, and print them, and share them with others via photo CD, photo books, email, or the Web. When your photographs are in digital format stored on your computer the sky is the limit. In this chapter, you look at the digital photo management tasks that are common to both scanners and digital cameras. In other words, no matter how you acquire your images, the management issues are the same. You can organize your images with the My Pictures folder, view images and perform simple editing tasks with the built-in Preview application, and edit images with Microsoft Paint. And new to Windows XP is a Photo Printing Wizard that will have you printing professional-looking prints in no time. There are also various add-on tools that let you create easily nice photo CDs and DVDs, or even professionally bound photo books. Subsequent chapters in this part of the book look at those issues that are specific to scanners and digital cameras.

Managing Images with My Pictures


In Windows 95, Microsoft introduced the My Documents folder as the default save location for all documents. Hard as it may be to remember, most applications would automatically save documents in the WINDOWS folder before this, or perhaps in the root of the C: drive. But weve come to take the My Documents folder for granted over the past few years, and all modern Windows programs use this location for their documents and other data files.

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From a technical standpoint, My Documents is a special shell folder. That is, it has a physical location on the hard drive (C:\My Documents in Windows 95, but C:\Documents and Settings\ [Your user name]\My Documents in Windows XP) but it also has a location in the Windows XP shell hierarchy. You can see this when you open Windows Explorer or My Computer and turn on the Folders view, as shown in Figure 7-1. For each user, the top of the shell is marked by the My Documents folder. Other special shell folders in the top level of the shell hierarchy include My Computer, My Network Places, and the Recycle Bin.

Figure 7-1: In Explorer view, you can see the shell hierarchy.

In Windows XP, Microsoft has elevated two other folders to the special shell folder status. These include My Music, which is designed to manage and organize digital music files, and My Pictures, which does the same for digital photographs and other images. Both My Music and My Pictures are located inside the My Documents folder by default, although you can change this if you desire. But because they are special shell folders that you will likely want to access frequently, both My Music and My Pictures are also available directly from the Start menu, as shown in Figure 7-2. You look at My Music in Chapter 3, but this chapter, naturally, focuses on the My Pictures folder.

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Figure 7-2: In the Start Menu, you can see special shell folders on the right side.

My Pictures is designed as the central repository for all of your digital still images, be they digital photographs or other images. As you discover in the next two chapters, Microsoft has built wizards into Windows XP that will store automatically images obtained from digital cameras and scanners into this folder, or subfolders within this folder. But since I cant assume that youve acquired any images yet, lets grab a few sample images before proceeding. Navigate to the C:\WINDOWS\Web\Wallpaper folder. In here, youll see a number of images files that can be used to decorate your desktop. But you can also use them to see how the My Pictures folder can work; so copy them (copy, not move) over to the My Pictures folder.

Viewing Photos and Images


By default, the My Pictures folder will show files in Thumbnails view, which shows a small version of each image in lieu of normal icons (see Figure 7-3). You can view an individual image by double-clicking its icon. This launches the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, shown in Figure 7-4, a decent image viewing application that is included in Window XP.

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Figure 7-3: Thumbnail view provides a small image in place of an icon.

Figure 7-4: Windows Picture and Fax Viewer provides simple viewing and image manipulation options.

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Finding Information About an Image


You can also obtain information, called metadata, about an image by mousing over its icon. When you do so, a small tooltip window appears next to the mouse cursor and displays the dimensions of the image in pixels (800600, for example), the type of image (such as Bitmap, JPEG, or GIF , among others), and its size on the disk (typically in kilobytes, or KB, although larger images might actually be measured in megabytes, or MB). This feature is shown in Figure 7-5.

Figure 7-5: To get metadata for any file, simply mouse-over its icon.

EDITING IMAGE INFORMATION


To find out more information about an image, you can look at that images property sheet. You do this by selecting it and choosing Properties from the File menu (Alternatively, you can right-click an image and choose Properties from the pop-up menu that appears). The properties sheet has two tabs, General and Summary. Youre concerned now more with the Summary tab. By default, this will display in Simple view, as shown in Figure 7-6. You can get even more information by clicking the Advanced button. This displays the Advanced view, shown in Figure 7-7.

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Figure 7-6: The Summary pane of an images property sheet displays basic information about that file.

Figure 7-7: In the Advanced view, more metadata is exposed.

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Whats interesting about this information is that some of it can be edited. You cant change the width or height, obviously, but you can add a title, an author, or some comments if you like. To do so, click the area to the right of the Title, Comments, or Author field, respectively, and type in an appropriate value. Then click OK to close the dialog box and save this information known as metadata as part of the file.

EDITING INFORMATION FOR MULTIPLE IMAGES


Lets say you have a directory full of image files and youd like to add author information to every one of them. Sure, you could manually get the properties to each file, one at a time, and add the author info to each files property sheet. But theres a faster way: Simply select all of the files in the folder that youd like to change, right-click, and choose Properties. Youll see a properties sheet that is applicable to all of the files. Now, you can change the Title, Comments, and Authors field for each file, all at the same time.

Using Subfolders to Manage My Pictures


From an organizational standpoint, the default structure of the My Pictures folder works only if youre not dealing with a large number of images. For example, if you think youre going to be scanning in a lot of traditional photographs (as described in the next chapter) or taking advantage of digital photography (see Chapter 9), youre going to have to start thinking about organizational issues. The simplest solution is to use subfolders, which you can create directly inside My Pictures. So you might create a Wallpaper folder, and drag all of those wallpaper images youve been working with in there, rather than leave them in the root My Pictures folder. As you scan in photographs or copy photographs from a digital camera, you could use subfolders that represent specific dates, events, or other logical groupings. Its up to you. Personally, I use a fairly anal-retentive organizational scheme, because I take a lot of digital photos: For each event, I create a subfolder. So if we have a birthday party for my son Mark, Ill create a folder named something like 2005-04-09 Marks birthday party; this format ensures that all of the folders will be sorted chronologically. However, you can use whatever structure youd like, of course. Heres a cool feature of Windows XP: When you copy images into a folder and you view that folder in Thumbnails view, the folder icon will change to display up to four thumbnails, as shown in Figure 7-8. This tells you whats in a folder at a glance, an especially useful feature when you have a lot of images with which to deal.

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Figure 7-8: Folder thumbnails are new to XP, and they help you quickly determine whats contained within.

Customizing Image Folders


The My Pictures folder, and to a greater extent, subfolders contained within the My Pictures folder, can be customized in many ways that it will make it more enjoyable or efficient to work with image files. You can customize the way folders and folder icons look, use the Details section of the Web pane to see metadata and thumbnails quickly, view slide shows of folder contents, and display individual image files as your desktop image. In this section, you look at these possibilities.

Using Folder Views


If you open the My Picture folder, or a subfolder that contains images, it will show the contents of that folder in one of several view styles. By default, My Pictures opens in the Thumbnails view, but other icon views are possible.

USING FILMSTRIP VIEW FOR MOST IMAGE FOLDERS


When you create a subfolder under My Pictures and populate it with a few image files, Windows Explorer will use Filmstrip view by default (if there are lots of pictures, it might default to Thumbnails view, described below). The Filmstrip view, shown in Figure 7-9, is new to Windows XP and renders a preview of the currently selected image in the top of the right pane of the window, while displaying the folder contents, in thumbnails, along the bottom of the window, in a manner similar to a filmstrip. As you select each icon along the bottom, the upper image changes to display the contents of the newly selected icon. The preview image is accompanied by a subset of the image controls found in the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, which you look at later in this chapter. These buttons enable you to move to the previous and next images and rotate the image both clockwise and counter-clockwise.

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Figure 7-9: Filmstrip view provides an image preview right in the window.

USING THUMBNAILS VIEW FOR FOLDERS WITH JUST A FEW IMAGES


Thumbnails view, as described previously, displays each image icon as a thumbnail of the contained image. This makes it easy to tell at a glance what each file is, but it can be slow to render if there are too many images in the current folder.

USING TILES VIEW FOR DOCUMENTS AND OTHER NON-IMAGE FILES


The Tiles view is the default view in the upper-level shell folders such as My Computer and My Network Places. It shows a standard icon and file name alongside other metadata thats related to the current folder view options. For example, in the My Documents window, shown in Figure 7-10, icons are shown arranged by name, so the metadata displays the name of the document along with other information that varies depending on the types of files you have. If you change the way the icons are arranged, the metadata can change as well.

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Figure 7-10: Tiles view provides metadata about each file.

USING ICONS VIEW IF YOURE A WINDOWS OLD-TIMER WHO CANT CHANGE YOUR WAYS
If youve been using Windows for a while, Icons view will be familiar; this is the view style that was used by default in every release of Windows since Windows 98. Icons view (formerly called Large Icons) displays simple, large icons with no metadata information. An example is shown in Figure 7-11.

Figure 7-11: Icon view is analogous to Large Icons in previous versions of Windows.

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Note that the view style Small Icons was removed from Windows XP; this view style was present in Windows 95 through Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows 2000. Microsoft says that Small Icons view was removed because so few people used it. I suspect a deeper conspiracy is afoot.

USING LIST VIEW IF YOU HAVE GREAT EYESIGHT AND THE FOLDER CONTAINS A LOT OF FILES
Suitable for folders with numerous files, List view offers smaller icons that automatically sort themselves by file name, which is nice, but can be hard on the eyes if your PC runs at high resolution. List view is shown in Figure 7-12.

Figure 7-12: List view is the way to go if youre dealing with a folder that contains many files.

USING DETAILS VIEW IF YOURE THE TYPE-A TYPE


Details view is another holdover from the early days, offering a columnar view of file and folder information, with sections for file size, type, last date modified, and more. The column for which the folder is sorted is now highlighted, a subtle new feature in Windows XP. This can be seen in Figure 7-13. Given these folder views, its likely that Filmstrip and Thumbnails will fit the bill for most image folders. If you like the preview mode of Filmstrip, stick with that. Otherwise, use Thumbnail. If you find that folder rendering is glacially slow, however probably because youve got dozens or perhaps hundreds of images in there then stick with one of the more traditional views. As always, its up to you. You can select folder views for the current folder by choosing View from the right-click popup menu or from the menu bar at the top of the folder window, and then the appropriate view style.

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Figure 7-13: Details view has been enhanced with color so you can tell more easily by which column the folder is sorted.

Customizing Folder Icons


In addition to the standard folder views, Windows XP also supports the concept of folder types, which are defined by specific folder templates. Folder templates are only available for standard folders, however: You cant change the folder type of the My Pictures folder, for example. But subfolders can be changed at will, another reason to stick with this form of organization. There are two ways to change the folder type for a folder. One way is to open the folder youd like to change, right-click an empty area of the window, and choose Customize This Folder. Alternatively, you can select a folder icon, right-click, and choose Properties, and then navigate to the Customize tab. Either way, youll be presented with the Customize Folder view, as shown in Figure 7-14. You will see a number of choices listed in the top drop-down list, including a few that are appropriate for image folders: Documents (for any file type) Pictures (best for many files) Photo Album (best for fewer files) The Documents choice is sort of a standard boilerplate for folders that will contain a variety of document types, but if you are dealing with a folder that contains only images, one of the other two is probably more appropriate.

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Figure 7-14: You can customize individual folders using the Customize tab.

In the Folder pictures section of this page, you can also determine whether the folder icon displays a set of thumbnails while in Thumbnails view, or a picture of your choosing. Click the Choose Picture button to select a picture if youd like. If youre not using Thumbnails view, you can choose to change the icon of the folder instead. This is accomplished by clicking the Change Icon button.

Using the Details Web View


In the Web pane of the My Pictures folder and its subfolders, there is a Details section that is hidden by default, but you might find it of use, especially if youre not using Thumbnails or Filmstrip view. Open My Pictures or any other folder that contains image files to see how it works. First, youll need to un-hide the Details section, which is accomplished by clicking the double down-arrow icon, as shown in Figure 7-15. If no file in the folder is selected, you will see detailed information about the folder, including its icon image (typically containing thumbnail images), its name, and the date and time it was last modified. This is shown in Figure 7-16.

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Figure 7-15: To display the Details section, you must click its header.

Figure 7-16: If no file is selected, Details will provide information about the entire folder.

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If you select a file in the folder, the Details section will change to give you information about that file, as shown in Figure 7-17. Detailed information includes file name and type, dimensions, size, and the date and time it was last modified. Note that this information can be obtained by mousingover the icon for each file as described previously, but you might find this method easier to work with.

Figure 7-17: When a file is selected, Details provides a thumbnail when appropriate and other metadata.

You can also select multiple files. Doing so will diminish the amount of information that is shown in the Details section. Now, it will display the number of files selected and the total amount of disk space occupied by these files.

Doing Cool Stuff with Images: Making Slide Shows, Screensavers, and Desktop Backgrounds
Up in the top section of the Web view for any folder containing images is a section called Picture Tasks. You look at some of the options in this section throughout the remainder of this chapter, but two worth mentioning now are View as a slide show and Set as desktop background.

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MAKING A SLIDE SHOW


The View as a slide show option launches the Slide Show application, which runs full screen and offers an automated, screensaver-like animation of all the images in the current folder. If you just click this option, the screen will blank and the images in the folder will display, one at time, for about five seconds each. But you can control how the slide show acts as well. Move the mouse while the slideshow is running and a small toolbar will appear in the upper right of the screen, as shown in Figure 7-18.

Figure 7-18: The slide show feature enables you to view all of the images in a folder.

This toolbar enables you to start or pause the slide show, manually navigate to the previous or next image in the slide show, or stop the slide show (which closes the application). The buttons are drawn to resemble VCR controls, so their use is pretty obvious.

USING A SLIDE SHOW AS A SCREENSAVER


Many slide shows would make for a nice screensaver, so it might come as no surprise that Microsoft built this feature into the Windows XP as well (those engineers at Microsoft, they seem to think of everything).

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1. Open Display Properties (the quickest way is to right-click an empty spot on the desktop and choose Properties) and navigate to the Screen Saver tab. 2. In the Screen saver drop-down list box, choose My Pictures Slideshow. 3. Click Settings to display the Screen Saver Options dialog box, as shown in Figure 7-19. In this dialog box, you can determine how often the pictures change and other options. But the important one enables you to choose which folder to use for the slide show. Click the Browse button to choose a folder. Also, be sure to play with the other options a bit: You can use transition effects and choose stretch smaller images, among other options. Click OK when youre done setting options.

Figure 7-19: You can determine the behavior of your slide show screensaver with the Screen Saver Options dialog box.

4. In the Display Properties dialog box, click Preview to test your creation. As needed, return to the Options dialog box to tweak the options until youre happy with it. 5. Click OK to close the Display Properties dialog box.

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USING A FAVORITE PHOTO AS A DESKTOP BACKGROUND


The Display Properties dialog box has always made it possible to display a certain image as the desktop background, but this required you to launch the dialog box and then find the image. In Windows XP, you can do the reverse: When you find an image you like, you can tell Windows to use it as the desktop background. To do so, simply find an image you like and then click Set as desktop background from the Picture Tasks section of that folders Web view. It doesnt get any easier than that!

Getting the Most from Windows Picture and Fax Viewer


Earlier in this chapter, you looked at the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer very quickly, but theres more to this built-in tool than simple image viewing. Windows Picture and Fax Viewer also provides a series of controls, located at the bottom of the window, for performing a variety of other commonly needed image management tasks (see Figure 7-20): Image navigation After you open an image with Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, it is possible to navigate through all of the images in the same folder by clicking the Previous Image and Next Image buttons in the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer toolbar. Change the image preview size You can choose to show the selected image in its actual size or in a size that best fits the Image Preview window (which is resizable); you do this by clicking the Actual Size and Best Fit buttons, respectively. Start a slide show Click the Start Slide Show button to view a slide show of the images in the current folder. Zoom in and out Using the Zoom In and Zoom Out buttons, you can increase and decrease the magnification level of the previewed image. Rotate the image You can rotate the current image, clockwise or counterclockwise, in 90 degree increments, by clicking the Rotate Clockwise and Rotate Counterclockwise buttons. One caveat: When you do this, the actual image is changed, so be careful when using these options. Delete an image Click the Delete button and poof! its gone. You can restore it from the Recycle Bin if your system is set up that way, but be careful with this option as well. Print Click the Print button and the Photo Printing Wizard launches. I discuss this option later in this chapter. Copy the image If you click the Copy To button, which looks curiously like a Save icon, you can do the equivalent of a Save As and save that file, with a new name, and in a new location, if desired.

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Close this program and open the image for editing If you want to edit this picture in the Microsoft Paint program, click this button. Get help Click the Help button (or press F1) to view the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer help file.

Figure 7-20: The Windows Picture and Fax Viewer application offers simple editing tools and viewing options, accessible from the toolbar at the bottom of the window.

So what cant this little beauty do? Well, it cant edit image files. But Microsoft supplies a simple Paint program, described in the next section, which offers some basic editing functionality. But youre going to want more than this if youre editing digital photographs or scanned photographs. Commercial image editing programs, like Adobes excellent Photoshop Elements or Microsoft Picture It! overcome the limitations of the basic Paint program with such features as red eye removal and more. You look at these packages briefly in an upcoming section.

Editing Images with Microsoft Paint


Microsoft Paint isnt the most elegant application in the world. In fact, its barely changed since the days of Windows 3.1. But over the years, Microsoft has improved this often overlooked application slowly but surely, and you might find that it does a good percentage of what you need. And because it comes free with Windows, you cant argue about the price.

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In Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0, and 2000, Microsoft Paint was the application that opened when you doubled-clicked on a bitmap file, but in Windows Me and XP, this has been changed so that Windows Picture and Fax Viewer loads instead. If you want to open an image file with Paint, youll need to select its icon and choose Edit from the File menu in My Computer (or, right-click it and choose Edit from the pop-up menu). Either way, Paint will open; maximize the window if necessary and your screen should resemble Figure 7-21.

Figure 7-21: Microsoft Paint is a perennial favorite.

Paint is a fairly simple image-editing program, with a toolbox for frequently used image-editing tools and a color box for selecting foreground and background color. Paint can be used to flip or rotate images, and this feature works a bit more elegantly than the similar feature in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. You can stretch and skew an image, but it doesnt do a very good job of this, and this is a typical area where a third-party application such as Photoshop Elements would do a much nicer job. Paint can invert the colors of an image, which gives an interesting, if rarely needed, negative effect. And of course, Paint can be used to add text, paint in various ways, draw shapes, and cut and paste between images. And thats about it. But it works as advertised, and its nice to have in a pinch. Again, commercial photo-editing applications will offer many more photo-specific tools, so shop around for prices and features. You look at a few of these options in the next section. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Editing Photos with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005


If youre lucky enough to own Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, you can use your remote control and the Media Center software to edit photos in simple ways. To do so, launch Media Center and navigate to My Pictures. Then, find a photo youd like to edit. To edit a photo, select its thumbnail and press the More Information button on your remote (mouse users can simply right-click the photo thumbnail). When you do so, a Picture Options overlay appears, as shown in Figure 7-22.

Figure 7-22: The Picture Options overlay lets you access advanced functions for the selected picture, or perform other tasks.

Now, select Picture Details, and the Picture Details screen, shown in Figure 7-23, appears. From here, you can rotate the image, print it, touch it up in various ways, delete it, or navigate to other pictures in the same folder.

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Figure 7-23: In Picture Details, you can edit the current photo.

Select Touch Up. Now, you can fix red eye, adjust the contrast, crop the picture, and preview any changes youve made (see Figure 7-24).

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Figure 7-24: Using Touch Up, its possible to adjust red eye and contrast or crop a photo.

Since the picture Ive selected has a red eye issue, Ive selected Red Eye; this causes the computer to work for a bit (see Figure 7-25). When its done, the picture is fixed and a checkbox appears next to Red Eye. After youve made any changes to a photo, select Save to save those changes, or Cancel to abort the operation.

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Figure 7-25: Media Center displays a unique busy cursor while its working, but you dont have to manually select the subjects eyes in order to fix red eye problems, which is nice.

When XP Isnt Enough: A Quick Look at Other Photo-Editing Solutions


So Microsoft Paint is a cute little application, but it doesnt have any of the features that even a basic photo editor offers, so chances are youre going to want to invest in a full-fledged photo-editing application. What youre looking for are the following essential features: Photo touch-up functionality, such as red-eye removal, focus and lighting fixes, blemish removal, and the like Cropping and resizing functionality Special effects, like a black-and-white filter, or edge editors Automatic fixes for common problems with digital photos Various printing options

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There are many, many photo editors out there, and most of them are pretty good. That said, I use and recommend both Adobe PhotoShop Elements and Microsoft Digital Image Pro. Why not just pick one? Unfortunately, neither one does everything I need, so I use each application for specific purposes. In the sections that follow, Ill highlight the strengths of these two powerful and inexpensive applications.

Adobe PhotoShop Elements


Adobes high-end PhotoShop application has been a staple of professional photographers and graphics artists for years, so its no wonder that recent versions have started adopting a wide range of features aimed at digital photography. PhotoShop, however, has two basic problems. First, its expensive as all get-out. Second, its a complicated application that requires months of practice to become proficient. Enter PhotoShop Elements. This low-cost version of Photoshop offers most of the features of its high-end brethren, but also includes simpler wizard-like recipes that step you through common tasks like restoring a faded photo or fixing a torn photo. Its still a pretty difficult application to use, compared to other products, but its so powerful that I think its worth the time. I use PhotoShop Elements primarily for bulk photo resizes (it excels at resizing an entire folder full of photos) and occasionally for photo editing. Its particularly good for enhancing the levels, contrast, and color settings for digital photos, though I wish it were a little more automated.

On the Web
You can find out more about Adobe PhotoShop Elements on the Web at www.adobe.com/products/ photoshopel. At the time of this writing, Elements costs about $100.

Microsoft Digital Image Pro


Microsofts digital imaging applications are a little confusing. Currently, the company offers a product called Picture It! Premium, which is designed specifically for digital camera owners, Digital Image Pro, which is...ahem...also designed specifically for digital camera owners, and a suite product called Digital Image Suite, which combines Digital Image Pro with a digital photo management application called Digital Image Library (the latter of which isnt available separately). Some MSN subscribers also get access to light versions of the applications in the Digital Image Suite, further confusing matters. At the time of this writing, I use Digital Image Pro fairly extensively. This task-based application integrates nicely with XP, but its biggest strength is the way it walks you through common tasks. Digital Image Pro excels at fixing color, exposure, contrast, and levels in digital photos, and if you have one of those lousy little digital cameras integrated into your cell phone, it even has an auto-fix for that. I use Digital Image Pro for a wide variety of photo editing tasks, but one of the coolest unique features it has is its nice cropping functionality, shown in Figure 7-26. This feature enables you to crop to a variety of common photo sizes, but it also includes nice templates for widescreen displays, Pocket PCs, and Smartphones, which makes it particularly nice for creating background screen images. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Figure 7-26: Microsoft Digital Image Pro is a perennial favorite.

On the Web
For more information about Microsofts digital imaging products, visit the Microsoft Web site at www .microsoft.com/products/imaging/default.mspx. Digital Image Pro typically costs about $80.

A Free Option: Paint .NET


If youve looked at the price tags for Adobe PhotoShop Elements and Microsoft Digital Image Pro and decided that theyre too lofty for your pocketbook, you may be interested in an exciting new free image editor called Paint .NET. This application, developed entirely by students learning to use the Microsoft .NET technology, is designed specifically for editing photos. Have I mentioned that its free yet? Paint .NET, shown in Figure 7-27, isnt perfect, and it doesnt offer some key photo-editing features, at least not yet. But its an excellent tool and will likely improve dramatically by the time you read this.

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Figure 7-27: Paint .NET is what Microsoft Paint should and could be.

On the Web
You can find out more about Paint .NET at www.winisp.net/rbrewster/pdn.html. Oh, and its free.

Printing Photos with the Photo Printing Wizard


One amazing new feature in Windows XP is the Photo Printing Wizard, which is designed to take advantage of the fact that low-cost inkjet-based photo printers are now available that can quickly and cheaply print photo-quality prints. The Photo Printing Wizard enables you to determine how youll print your photos, and it includes templates for all of the most common photo sizes. So if you want a sheet of wallet-sized prints, or 35s, or whatever, this wizard will make it easy. Lets take a look. You can launch the Photo Printing Wizard in a variety of ways. If you select a single image icon in the shell, you can click the Picture Task labeled Print this picture; select a group of pictures, or no pictures at all, and the Print pictures option will be available. Either way, the Photo Printing Wizard will start up, as shown in Figure 7-28.

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Figure 7-28: The Photo Printing Wizard is one of the coolest digital image tools in Windows XP.

In the next page of the wizard, you can select which images youd like to print. You can select all of the images in the current folder or manually select only the image or images you want, as shown in Figure 7-29. In the next page, Printing Options, you can select the printer youd like to use and any applicable printing preferences. If you have only one printer, you can pretty much skip over this step, but if you have two or more, this is where you can select the correct one (hopefully, a nice color inkjet). Note that the Printing Preferences button is going to be particularly important for printing photos: Since most photo printers include a bizarre variety of settings you can configure, youre going to want to click this button and set up the paper type, the quality level, and so forth. These instructions will vary from printer to printer, but my photo printer, an Epson Stylus, has a custom-made printing preferences dialog that resembles Figure 7-30.

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Figure 7-29: You can easily choose which images youd like to print.

Figure 7-30: Make sure you configure the paper size, type, and print quality for photo prints.

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The next page is where things get exciting. In Layout Selection, you can choose the type of photo layout youd like, as shown in Figure 7-31 (what you see here will vary depending on how many images youve chosen to print). As you scroll down the list of available layouts, the Print preview pane will change to show you a preview of how the selected images will look printed.

Figure 7-31: The Photo Printing Wizard offers a number of nice layouts that enables you to choose the way your photos will print.

In the next step, your photos are printed, and then you can close the wizard.

Printing Photos with Media Center


Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 users have an even more elegant way to print photos, and its even remote control accessible. To print a photo in Media Center, navigate to the photo and click the More Information button on the remote control (or, right-click the photo). In the Picture Options overlay that appears, select Picture Details. Then, select Print. Media Center displays a dialog asking if youd like to print a full-page printout of the current picture, as shown in Figure 7-32. Select Print to print the picture.

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Figure 7-32: In Media Center, high-quality photo prints are just a button-click away.

Ordering Prints Online


If you dont have a high-quality color printer, or simply want to print enough photos that a printer would be too slow or expensive, you can also order prints over the Internet. And as usual, this feature is built right into the shell. Previously, youd have to navigate manually to online photo services with a Web browser, upload your photos, and then make an order. Now, its a simple, step-by-step wizard. To order prints online, click the Order prints online task in the Picture Tasks section of the Web view for a folder containing images youd like printed. (What else would it be called?) This launches the Online Print Ordering Wizard, which lets you choose between online printing companies such as Print@FujiColor, Shutterfly, and Kodak Ofoto, as shown in Figure 7-33. After youve chosen the online printing company (Ill use Kodak Ofoto for this example), the wizard will download mini Web pages that are specific to that service. In the case of Ofoto, you will be prompted to log on to the service, or create a new account, and select the pictures to print, as shown in Figure 7-34.

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Figure 7-33: Online photo printing services enable you to obtain prints from your digital photos.

Figure 7-34: The Ofoto logon process, now in wizard form.

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Finally, you will choose shipping information and the type of shipping youd like. Shipping costs are determined by geographical area and the type of shipping you choose. Then, you can enter credit card information and finalize the order. Note that the exact path taken by the wizard will vary depending on the service you choose.

Electronically Sharing Photos


Online photo services such as Ofoto and Kodak offer photo-sharing functionality on their Web sites, but its also possible to share photos with others in more generic ways. And with Windows XP, its possible to share photos over the Internet as well as locally, on your own system, with other users.

Sharing Photos on the Internet


To share photos on the Internet, you have two choices: Web and email. You can use the Web Publishing Wizard, which is built into Windows XP, to publish photos to the Web. To start the wizard, open a folder of images youd like to share, or select an image or group of images, and then select one of the following options from the File and Folder Tasks section of the Web pane: Publish this folder to the Web, Publish this file to the Web, or Publish the selected items to the Web (what you see will be determined by which files, if any, are selected). Regardless, after letting you choose which pictures to share, the wizard then presents you with a choice of online service providers. Well, maybe choice isnt the right word, since Microsofts MSN Groups was the only choice at the time of this writing (see Figure 7-35).

Figure 7-35: Online storage providers such as MSN Groups can be used to archive data on the Web.

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You may be required to log on at this point, although the Passport feature in Windows XP can be used to automate this process. Then youll be asked to choose where youd like to store your files at MSN Communities. Specifically, youll have to make a new MSN Group, or you can choose an existing one if youve made one in the past. This is shown in Figure 7-36.

Figure 7-36: MSN requires you to make a group in which to store your files.

Then, MSN will prompt you to resize the images automatically before theyre uploaded, which might be a good idea; the defaults are small (640480), medium (800600), and large (1024768). After youve made that choice, the images will be uploaded. This could take time based on the size and number of images and the speed of your connection. In Figure 7-37, you can see the progress of the upload. When the wizard completes, you will be given a Web address (what the geeky guys call a URL) that will display the contents of the online folder that contains the images you uploaded. Such a folder is shown in Figure 7-38. You can click any image name to display it in the browser.

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Figure 7-37: Image uploads can take a long time, but the Web Publishing Wizard will keep you up to date during the transfer.

SHARING PHOTOS VIA EMAIL


You can also share photos via email, and this capability has some interesting resizing options associated with it. Again, you can share a file or group of files (but not an entire folder, oddly) as needed and then click the appropriate choice (either E-mail this file or E-mail the selected items) in the File and Folder Tasks section of the Web view to get started. This time, theres no wizard, but there is a cool little Send Pictures via E-mail dialog box, shown in Figure 7-39, that enables you to resize the shared images on the fly if youd like. This can be a valuable option, especially when youre working with high-quality images, which can often be quite large. Its unlikely youll want to send multimegabyte files via email.

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Figure 7-38: An example Web site that has had content uploaded from Windows XP.

Figure 7-39: When sending image files via email, its possible to make the pictures automatically smaller.

If you select the option titled Make all my pictures smaller, the image(s) will be resized to 800600 if necessary (any images that are 800600 or smaller will not be resized). However, you can click the Show more options link to fine-tune this, and choose other resize options, like those shown in Figure 7-40.

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Figure 7-40: You can fine-tune the way that Windows XP shrinks images before sending them.

At this point, a new email message will be created, using your default email program (typically Hotmail, Outlook Express, MSN Explorer, or perhaps Outlook if youve installed Microsoft Office) with a subject of Emailing: [image name(s)] and the selected images included as attachments. The body text has been filled in with a message, as shown in Figure 7-41, but you can change this as you like. Youll need to add a recipient to the To line as well.

Figure 7-41: A sample email with attached images, shown in Hotmail.

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Sharing Photos at Home


Internet sharing is nice, but for many people, a more localized solution fits the bill. If youre using the fast user-switching feature in Windows XP to share a single PC with more than one user, you can place images in a special shared location that all users can access. Or, if you have a home network with two or more PCs, you can create a shared folder that other users can access from across the network. You look at both of these choices in this section.

SHARING PHOTOS ON THE SAME PC


To share photos with other users on the same PC, you can use a special shared folder called Shared Pictures. If you navigate to your My Pictures folder, which is designed solely for your own use (every user has his or her own My Pictures folder), youll see a link in the Other Places section of the Web view pane called Shared Pictures. This is actually the folder C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\My Documents\My Pictures and its designed to be accessible to all users. So if you want to make images available to everyone, simply copy them there.

SHARING PHOTOS ON A HOME NETWORK


Sharing photos on a home network is almost as easy: Simply navigate to the folder youd like to share, right-click its icon, and choose Sharing and Security. This will open the Properties dialog box for that folder with the Sharing page display (see Figure 7-42). To share the folder, simply check the option titled Share this folder on the network and select the Allow other users to change my files checkbox if youd like that option to be enabled. Note that you might need to run the Home Networking Wizard before this option is made available.

Figure 7-42: To share a folder, simply set up a share and determine whether users can alter any of the files it contains.

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When you check the option to share the folder, a share name is created. This is the name that will be seen when other users navigate to their My Network Places folder. So for example, if you create a share called My Pictures, then users browsing the network will see a share with the name My Pictures.

SHARING PHOTOS WITH PHOTO CDS


Another option for sharing photos is to create a Photo CD that can play back on other PCs. Not surprisingly, Windows XP makes this task pretty easily to accomplish as well. The goal is to jump start a hidden feature in XP called the CD Writing Wizard. You do this by first inserting a blank CD into your writable CD drive. Then, select the photo or photos youd like to write to CD, and then select Copy to CD in the Picture Tasks section of the tasks pane. When you do this, a yellow balloon help window will appear in the lower right of your screen, indicating that files are ready to written to CD. However, you dont have to stop here. You can still navigate to other folders, select other photos, and copy them to the CD drive as well. When youre done copying files to the CD drive, navigate to My Computer and open the writable CD drive. Your screen should resemble Figure 7-43.

Figure 7-43: Files ready to be copied to the CD are displayed in ghostly faded-out icons.

When youre ready to begin burning the CD, click Write these files to CD in the CD Writing Tasks area. This will launch the CD Writing Wizard (of course), which enables you to name the CD and get busy (see Figure 7-44).

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Figure 7-44: The CD Writing Wizard makes it easy to burn photos to a data CD.

When the wizard completes, youre prompted to make a duplicate CD or close the wizard. And when you insert this CD into a Windows XPbased PC, you should see a standard Auto Play dialog box, which will let you copy or view the pictures on the other system. On Media Center PCs, you can view the photos with Media Center and use the Import option to add them to the PCs hard drive.

SHARING PHOTOS WITH A MEDIA CENTER PC OR MEDIA CENTER EXTENDER


Speaking of Media Center, users lucky enough to have such a system have a number of other options for sharing photos. First, theres the built-in photo slide show feature in XP Media Center Edition, which is an incredible improvement over the shell-based slide shows that other XP users enjoy. There are a number of reasons Media Centers slide shows are better, but here are the highlights: Media Center slide shows can play back on a TV in your family room and arent relegated to your home office. For this reason, Media Center slide shows are a wonderful addition to parties and other events you share with your family and friends. Media Center slide shows can be accompanied by music. Media Center slide shows include advanced animations and transitions that arent offered in other XP versions. To display a beautiful photo slideshow in the Media Center, youll first need to configure some Media Center settings, so navigate to Start, Settings, and then Pictures. This screen, shown in Figure 7-45, lets you determine whether pictures will be displayed randomly, whether it should display picture captions, and so on. I usually configure it for random photo playback.

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Figure 7-45: In Media Centers Settings area, you can determine picture slideshow features.

Then pick some music to serve as a backdrop to your slide show by navigating to My Music. I usually choose a genre like New Age, or the complete works by a single artist, but thats up to you of course. When the music is playing, navigate to My Music and select the pictures youd like in the slideshow. You can display all of your pictures by simply clicking Play Slide Show, or navigate into specific folders to select the exact group you want. As the slide show plays, each image will animate slowly across the screen and transition cleanly into the next image. Also, as songs start and stop, a subtle overlay appears, displaying the song title, artist, and album name, as shown in Figure 7-46. The effect is somewhat stunning.

SHARING PHOTOS WITH A PORTABLE MEDIA CENTER


If you have a new type of portable media player called a Portable Media Center, you can enjoy Media Centerlike photo slideshows on the road, or bring the device over to a friends or relatives house, and display its content on his or her TV. You look at Portable Media Centers more closely in Chapter 18, but the photo slide show feature on these devices resembles Figure 7-47.

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Figure 7-46: Arguably, the photo slide show feature in Windows XP Media Center Edition is that products nicest feature.

Figure 7-47: It may be small and cute, but a Portable Media Center can duplicate much of the functionality of a full Media Center PC.

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Summary
In this chapter you looked at the ways in which you can manage digital images using the Windows XP shell, Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, and the Microsoft Paint program. Combined, these have capabilities to create customized image folders, edit images, and more. You also discovered that you can share your images at home, on the Internet, by using todays portable devices, and you can even take the photos on the road with you. In Chapter 8 you examine how to acquire photos with a flatbed or film scanner so that you can move your favorite photos and negatives onto your PC. You also look more closely at what editing options exist after scanning, and, if you have a Media Center 2005 PC, how you can take advantage of basic photo editing using a remote control.

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Chapter 8

Acquiring Photos with a Scanner


lthough itd be convenient for Microsoft (and book writers too, come to think of it) if everyone would simply drop what theyre doing and move on to the next big thing, the reality is that most technology advances come in slow, measured steps. So it is with digital imaging. Because digital cameras are dropping in price and rising in sophistication, its only a matter of time before traditional film is relegated to the scrap heap of history. But with throw-away 35mm cameras filling the checkout aisles of every convenience store on the planet, its clear that film still has a bit of life left in it. Regardless, so many film-based photo prints exist on this planet that it would take generations to digitize them all anyway. Since the dawn of the personal computer, there have been many attempts at making it easy to take a film print or negative, digitize it, and get it into a computer in a form that can be manipulated, edited, and shared. The most successful of these is the scanner. Scanners are generally available in flatbed form and (as with all technology) the price has really come down over time. Early, expensive models used SCSI technology, primarily with Macintosh computers; the more proletarian IBM-compatibles eventually settled on parallel port versions that were as slow and cumbersome as the systems that utilized them. Finally, both Macintosh and Windows PCs migrated to the USB standard for scanners, which gave these products true Plug and Play (PnP) capabilities (plug it into the computer and it basically just works) and a mass-market audience. Prices fell, features improved, and life was good. This chapter looks at how Windows XP interacts with modern scanners, including the flatbed scanners mentioned previously, and so-called film scanners, which enable you to scan negatives and slides.

Understanding Flatbed Scanners


In general terms, a scanner is an imaging device that attaches to your computer through a Universal Serial Bus (USB) or USB 2.0 port. The first USB ports were designed by Intel Corporation in the mid1990s to help PCs support the addition of high-speed peripherals and to offer a faster alternative to the pokey older port types (such as parallel, serial, and proprietary game ports). USB took off when Microsoft supported the standard in Windows 98, and now with USB 2.0, these types of connections are much faster and more versatile than they used to be.

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Most scanners you pick up these days are USB-based; they feature a flatbed design that enables you to scan, or image, paper-based pictures and text. Although other types of scanners are available such as handheld versions that are good for smaller images flatbed scanners are more useful, and they are relatively cheap and readily available. The differences among models typically come down to a few factors (detailed in the next section): Size of the scanning bed Some are fine for 8.5 11-inch paper (and smaller); other models offer larger sizes. Degree of resolution This is another term for the possible quality of images scanned with the device. Additional features Some flatbed scanners include a way to scan negatives and slides, while others offer a top-mounted slot for stacking up 4 6 photos which can be scanned in a batch mode.

Choosing a Scanner for Windows XP


When purchasing a scanner for use with Windows XP, the first step is to make sure that its a compatible, USB- or USB 2.0-based, Plug-and-Play version. These types of scanners will auto-install in Windows XP and give you access to the wonderful new Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) technology thats available in this OS. WIA makes imaging devices like scanners easier to control so you can acquire images without all the fuss and bother. Beyond that, key considerations include price, color depth, resolution, and speed. Scanners can be had for under $100 (sometimes well under $100), but the prices can also creep quickly up, even into the thousands. Often, you get what you pay for; most scanners offer at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) resolution and 32-bit color but both of these terms require some explanation.

Thinking about Scanner Resolution


Lets say you want to scan in a 4 6-inch photograph using a flatbed scanner. If you scan at 300 dpi, the resulting on-screen image measures approximately 1800 1200 pixels. Thats because 300 dots (pixels) per vertical width of 6 inches is 1800, and 300 dots (pixels) per horizontal width of 4 inches is 1200. An 1800 1200 image is pretty big, considering that most modern Windows desktops are only 1024 768 and a high-resolution HDTV screen is 1920 1600. (For purposes of illustration, a lowly 2.1 Megapixel digital camera can shoot high-quality images at 1792 1200 resolution.) In JPEG format, such an image would take up only 275K or so of disk space, which isnt so bad. But JPEG is a compressed, or lossy format (that is, it loses some of the image data to achieve smaller file sizes). An uncompressed bitmap of this same image would take up about 12 megabytes (MB). A faxfriendly TIFF image would occupy a whopping 20MB of space. It adds up quickly. Given this problem and the fact that some scanners can get resolutions of 500 dpi and higher the resulting file sizes would be even more gigantic if you scanned photos at the maximum possible resolution. The point here is that resolution itself is not the only factor to consider; take into account what it is that youre trying to achieve. If you want high-quality archives of your most

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important photos, then high resolution is probably the way to go. But if you want to publish images on the Web, a more reasonable (and yes, less costly) 150 dpi scanner might be a better deal. Likewise, any scanner should be capable of scanning at rates lower than its maximum: A 300-dpi scanner can scan at 100 or 150 dpi, for example. As with many things in life, a compromise in this case, between quality/size and speed/convenience is probably the most practical approach. I recommend 150 dpi for images intended for use on the Web; even then you may want to size them down a bit. I scan all of my own photos at 300 dpi or higher, depending on the image.

Understanding Color Depth


Color depth is measured in bits, in the same way that your desktops color depth is measured in bits. 8-bit color gives you 256 possible colors; 16-bit nets approximately 65,000 colors. The next step up, 24-bit color, provides millions of colors, and is sometimes called true color. But scanners can do better than that: 32-bit color is basically 24-bit color with an 8-bit alpha channel (for transparency). In other words, it provides 16 million possible colors. And some scanner makers are pushing something called 36-bit color, which is the technological equivalent of a guitar amp going to 11. 36-bit scanners tend to have different horizontal and vertical resolutions these are typically the scanners you see that have 1200 600 dpi resolution or similar. The good news is that youre never going to run into a modern scanner that doesnt support at least 24-bit color, which is the minimum youll want for photographs. And since Windows XP completely automates this process, youre not going to have to worry about color depth after youve bought the scanner. Windows XP always uses the highest possible color depth when scanning.

Installing and Detecting a Flatbed Scanner


After youve purchased the scanner, its time to bring it home, unpack it, and set it up. This involves plugging in two cables the power cable, which (of course) goes into a power outlet, and the USB cable, which should be given a dedicated USB port. (In other words, dont plug it into a USB hub unless youre positive that the other devices on there wont be used while youre scanning). The physical setup isnt difficult. Now its moment-of-truth time. Make sure youve removed any plastic or cardboard pieces that dont belong in the scanner and, with Windows XP running, turn on the scanner. Depending on the model you bought, you could experience some churning and bubbling on the part of the scanner: Lights blink, sounds emerge, that kind of thing. Its all perfectly normal. Because it happens very quickly, you really need to pay attention to the screen to see when Windows XP detects the scanner. Unlike previous versions of Windows, you arent prompted for the Windows CD-ROM or, typically, for any drivers. Instead, a small yellow balloon appears in the lower right of the screen, labeled Found New Hardware. Initially, it detects the scanner simply as USB Device, as shown in Figure 8-1. But after a few seconds that changes to read the actual name of the device. Then the bubble disappears and youre left wondering what happened. What happened is one of those subtle small things in Windows XP that really sets it apart from its predecessors: Youre literally done installing the scanner at this point. Everything should be this easy!

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Figure 8-1: In the first phase of the new hardware detection, only the type of device is detected.

Note
Sometimes, of course, its not that easy. Some scanner makers have foolishly decided to ignore Windows XPs innate scanner compatibilities and require you to install drivers and if theyre particularly mean other software in order for their products to work on your PC. If this is the case with your scanner, follow the manufacturers instructions for getting the device to work properly on your system. After that, ignore the software gunk they made you install and follow the instructions below to get the most out of your scanner with Windows XP.

To test that the scanner was properly installed, you should see evidence of its existence in a few locations. If you open My Computer, you should see an icon for the scanner listed under a new group called Scanners and Cameras. This is shown in Figure 8-2.

Figure 8-2: When you install a new scanner in Windows XP, it shows up as a shell object in My Computer.

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You can also open Control Panel and navigate to the Printers and Other Hardware category to start the Scanners and Cameras applet, which displays any related devices inside the shell window. This is shown in Figure 8-3.

Figure 8-3: You can also access the scanner from the Scanners and Cameras applet, available in Control Panel.

The next section shows how to scan a photograph. (About time, right?)

Scanning a Photo
Acquiring images from a scanner is almost as simple as the installation procedure. First, place a photograph on the scanner and check the documentation for your particular piece of hardware to see exactly how this process works. (Thats usually good practice anyway.) Typically, youll want to line up the photo on one edge of the scanner, or against a corner, for best results. When you have the photograph lined up correctly and youre ready, double-click the scanner icon in My Computer (or the one in Control Panel). Depending on your setup, this should display the XP Auto Play dialog box. Choose the option titled Scanner and Camera Wizard: Download pictures from a camera or scanner. This launches the Scanner and Camera Wizard, shown in Figure 8-4, which identifies the hardware device to which it is attached. Note that this wizard is generic to a variety of imaging devices for example, it works with digital cameras as well but its behavior depends on the capabilities of the device you are currently using.

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Figure 8-4: The Camera and Scanner Wizard provides a friendly front-end to the Windows Image Acquisition technologies in Windows XP.

Choosing Scanning Preferences


In the first phase of the wizard, you are presented with a number of scanning preferences, such as those shown in Figure 8-5. First is the picture type, which can be: Color Grayscale Black-and-white picture or text Custom The first three of these choices probably seem obvious, but the custom option deserves some discussion. If you click the Custom settings button, an Advanced Properties dialog box for the scanner is displayed (see Figure 8-6). This dialog box enables you to alter appearance preferences, such as the brightness and contrast, the resolution (in dpi) and the picture type (color, grayscale, or black-andwhite). The resolution defaults to 150 dpi, but you can change it according to the capabilities of your device. Therefore, the Custom settings choice is required if you plan to scan at any resolution setting other than the default 150 dpi.

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Figure 8-5: In the first phase of the wizard, you choose general scanning preferences.

Figure 8-6: The Advanced Properties dialog box enables you to determine the scan resolution, as well as the brightness and contrast.

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On the right side of the Choose Scanning Preferences step of the Scanner and Camera Wizard is a preview pane that allows you to preview the photograph before it is scanned. Its a good idea to do this by clicking the Preview button (as shown in Figure 8-7) because the wizard is designed to autoselect an area that matches the dimensions of the photograph you are scanning. Although the wizard usually gets this right, nothing is perfect, so Microsoft lets you adjust manually the area to be scanned as well.

Figure 8-7: Click the Preview button to preview your scanned image and have the wizard auto-select the area to scan.

You adjust the area manually by selecting the guidelines in the preview pane and dragging them until they enclose the area youd like to scan, as shown in Figure 8-8. You can also enlarge the selection area so it occupies as much space in the preview pane as possible; this makes it easier to manually edit the area youd like to scan. You do this by clicking the small Enlarge icon below the preview area, as shown in Figure 8-9. As an alternative, you can click the Show the entire image button to go back to the normal full view and re-edit the selection area if you want. Whichever method you chose, click Next to continue.

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Figure 8-8: You can resize the area to be scanned with the guidelines in the preview pane.

Figure 8-9: Enlarge the scanned area to occupy the entire preview pane.

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Choosing the Picture Name and Destination


In the next page, shown in Figure 8-10, you can select a name for the scanned image, its destination folder, and the file format in which it is saved.

Figure 8-10: You can choose a name for the scanned image, a file format, and a destination folder where it is saved.

The first step is to choose a name for the image. Note that when you do this, the destination folder in Step 3 is automatically changed so a folder with the same name is created under My Pictures (as shown in Figure 8-11). Thus, if you want to save the scanned image as Test, the wizard auto-creates a folder named Test that sits inside My Pictures. You can change this arrangement if you like (in fact, I recommend it). Automatic creation of folders makes sense if youre using a digital camera or have a number of images to download at once. For the most part, however, you probably dont need a new folder for every image you scan in. Sometimes the user really is smarter than the machine. Ive briefly discussed a few image-file formats previously, and by the time you hit Step 2 of this dialog box, youd better be up to speed. The Scanner and Camera Wizard can save images in JPEG (the default), Bitmap, TIFF , or PNG format (but not GIF , which is limited to 256 colors). The format

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you choose is a balancing act between practicality and personal preference: JPEG features small file sizes but uses lossy compression; images saved in these formats can have artifacts (extraneous graphical junk that results from compression) and other possible problems. Bitmap and TIFF images, conversely, create humongous files, but their compression-free images have clearer detail and no visual artifacts. PNG is sort of a happy middle ground: It offers much better clarity than JPEG but smaller files sizes than Bitmap or TIFF . That said, I recommend scanning personal photos in JPEG format.

Figure 8-11: When you enter a file name, the destination folder is automatically generated.

Tip
Remember: You dont have to accept the default destination folder that the wizard gives you in Step 3. Feel free to change the destination to fit your needs.

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Scan It
In the next page of the wizard, the actual scanning occurs a hands-off affair, as shown in Figure 8-12. A picture progress bar keeps you up-to-date during the process (which should only take a few seconds at 150 dpi, maybe more if youre using higher resolution).

Figure 8-12: During scanning, a progress bar keeps you up-to-date, but the process takes only a few seconds.

Ordering Prints Online


The next page of the wizard, shown in Figure 8-13, gives you the option to publish the photo youve scanned to a Web site, order prints of the image from a photo-printing Web site (a curious choice for a photograph you just scanned), or to just skip out and continue. Thankfully, this last choice (artfully labeled Nothing. Im finished working with these pictures) is the default. If you choose to publish this picture to a Web site, you are connected with the Web Publishing Wizard. Choosing to print a photo to a Web site also connects you to the Online Print Ordering Wizard. For the time being, choose the option labeled Nothing. Im finished working with these pictures. When you choose that option, the wizard is completed. And when you close the wizard, the folder containing the image you scanned opens, showing the image highlighted (as shown in Figure 8-14). Thats helpful if you save the file to a folder that contains many images.

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Figure 8-13: The wizard provides access to other wizards for uploading your scanned image to a Web site or online photo printing service.

Figure 8-14: When the scan is complete, the wizard will close, and the destination folder appears with the new image highlighted.

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Using a Film Scanner


Flatbed scanners work well when you need to scan in a paper-based photo, but oftentimes you will need to scan in a negative or slide, and for that, youll need whats called a film scanner. Film scanners come in two forms, standalone scanners that are specifically designed for scanning negatives and slides, like the one shown in Figure 8-15, and as add-ons for traditional flatbed scanners that make those devices more versatile (see Figure 8-16).

Figure 8-15: Dedicated film scanners are designed specifically to scan negatives and slides.

Because Windows XP doesnt include any built-in way to scan negatives or slides, youll need to refer to the documentation that came with your film scanner in order to get the best results. But a few common-sense tips might make things easier: Film scanners are often overkill, especially for personal photos Even though its true that working from source material like a negative should theoretically provide better results than scanning a photo such scanners often provide much better resolution than flatbed scanners thats often not the case in reality. Thats because negatives and slides are often mishandled and scratch easily. If you have a set of photos in both paper and negative-based forms, my advice is to scan one of each and compare the results. Oftentimes,

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for the types of personal photos youll be working with, the advantages of a film scanner are indeed theoretical. Film scanners are slow While a modern flatbed scanner can whip through a photo or set of photos in just a few seconds, scanning negatives and slides takes a lot of time, often several minutes per image. For this reason, you should only use a film scanner for those photos for which you dont have paper-based copies. Film scanners often offer a choice between FireWire and USB connections If your PC can handle it, go FireWire: FireWire is faster than USB and will help overcome some of the inherent slowness of film scanner hardware.

Figure 8-16: Some flat-bed scanners include an add-on that lets you scan in negatives and slides.

Not Done Yet: What to Do After You Scan


Most photos you scan in with a flatbed or film scanner are going to include a number of deficiencies. They wont be cropped or aligned correctly. Theyll have scratches, pockmarks, and other graphical blemishes. They might be grainy looking, blurry, or contain other unacceptable glitches. Photos of people might include red-eye. All kinds of things can go wrong.

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Sadly, scanning in a photo is only the beginning of the process. After youre done with that, youll still have a lot of work to do. Unfortunately, most versions of Windows XP dont include very sophisticated photo-editing tools. For most of you, that means youll need to invest in decent third-party tools in order to make your scanned photos look acceptable. There is one partial exception to this rule. Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 includes some basic photo-editing functionality, though youll still need third-party tools to perform more sophisticated edits. In the next two sections, you look briefly at the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 photo-editing capabilities and then examine the types of features youll want in a thirdparty tool.

Editing Scanned Photos with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005


Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 includes a nice Touch Up functionality for photos which can be particularly helpful for a few of the problems youll encounter with scanner photos. Specifically, Media Center can be used to perform the following operations on photos: Red-eye reduction The Red Eye feature automatically removes the infamous red-eye effect that mars so many photos of individuals. Contrast adjustment Many digital photos display with the wrong contrast. The Contrast option can automatically correct that problem. Cropping and rotating With scanned photos, especially, its often hard to crop out correctly the edges of the photo. Here, with the Crop feature, you can make such changes, and also rotate pictures as needed. To access this functionality, start Media Center and navigate to the My Pictures section and then display a photo collection of some sort. Then right-click a photo youd like to edit (or select the More Info or Details button on the Media Center remote control) to access the pop-up menu shown in Figure 8-17. Choose Picture Details to navigate to the Picture Details screen. Then, choose Touch Up, and you see the screen shown in Figure 8-18. Here, at the Touch Up screen, you can access the three editing functions mentioned previously. While this functionality is much appreciated, there are a few problems. First, Media Center doesnt support any sort of batch mode, so youll have to make adjustments one photo at a time, which can get tedious. Second, because Media Center doesnt fix so many of the problems youre likely to find in scanned photos, it very likely wont fulfill all of your needs. In the next section, you examine what those needs are.

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Figure 8-17: New to Windows XP Media Center 2005 is a system-wide pop-up menu that provides access to additional functionality related to the currently selected object.

Figure 8-18: In the Touch Up screen, you can fix red-eye, contrast, cropping, and rotation problems.

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Commonly Needed Photo Editing Features


While I recommend tools such as Adobe PhotoShop Elements or Microsoft Digital Image Pro to anyone interested in working with scanned or digital photos on a PC, there are a number of viable choices out there. If you decide to look elsewhere, make sure that the photo-editing package at least includes the following functionality: Auto Fix/Quick Fix/Smart Fix Decent photo editors can apply a number of imagerelated fixes simultaneously. For example, this feature might combine levels, contrast, color, and sharpness correction, all in a single pass. Levels correction This feature adjusts the color and tone of an image, which makes shadows, mid-tones, and highlights more defined. Brightness and contrast correction This feature adjusts the brightness or contrast of an image. Color correction This feature adjusts the color saturation of an image to make it more natural looking. Sharpness correction You can enhance (or reduce) the sharpness of an image to provide greater (or less) detail. Red-eye correction This feature lets you remove the effects of red eye in photos taken with a flash. Blemish, dust, and scratch correction Good photo editors will provide tools that help you automatically or manually remove dust, scratches, lines, specks, and other blemishes from a scanned photo. For example, Adobe PhotoShop Elements includes a feature called the Healing Brush tool that accomplishes this. Cropping, resizing, and rotating To fine-tune a photo composition, youll need to crop it, resize it, and potentially rotate it. Automation All of the features listed previously are very powerful, but it can be monotonous to apply them individually to one photo at a time. Decent photo editors will let you apply one or more fixes to photos automatically in a batch process. Whatever you do, try to have fun with it. While scanning and editing photos can be a lot of work, its interesting sometimes to go back and revisit old memories through photos. Ive spent more time than Id like to admit scanning in old photos over the past year, and while Ive certainly done more exciting tasks, every once in a while you come across a photo that makes this task worthwhile.

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Summary
In this chapter, you looked at the ways you can acquire photos with a flatbed or film scanner so you can digitize your favorite photos and negatives and move them onto your PC. You also learned about what editing options exist after scanning, and, if you have a Media Center 2005 PC, how you can take advantage of the basic photo editing tasks using a remote control. In Chapter 9 you examine the world of digital cameras and how you can copy pictures from your camera to your PC. Since youve taken the time to shoot these pictures, its time to enjoy them in your home on your existing PC. If you are lucky to own one of the new Media Center PCs, you can even listen to music while viewing slide shows of your photos.

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Chapter 9

Acquiring Photos with a Digital Camera

sing a scanner to obtain photographs digitally is nice, especially when you have a library of existing prints and youd like to get them into the computer. But scanning photographs is slow and monotonous. And if you intend to archive your photographs digitally, youll have to scan them in manually, one at a time, each time you get a roll of film back from the drugstore or photoprinting service. There are alternatives such as Photo CDs and services that will scan negatives but a simpler and arguably more efficient solution is to simply purchase a digital camera. Digital cameras are cheap and surprisingly powerful these days, and its only a matter of time before they completely replace film-based cameras. In the meantime, youll probably discover that a digital camera can fulfill just about all of your photography needs, even if youre a professional photographer. For weekend birthday parties and trips to Europe, nothing beats the convenience of a digital camera, especially if your ultimate goal is to share your snapshots with friends, family, and other people. If youll pardon the not-so-smooth transition from one sell job to another, it should also come as no surprise that Windows XP was designed from the ground up to work well with digital cameras. The Scanner and Camera Wizard examined in the previous chapter is actually severely limited when used with a scanner, but it comes to life when you attach a digital camera, offering many more features. And if you have a Media Center PC, its now possible to acquire digital photos directly from within the Media Center environment as well. In this chapter, you look at some of the general issues about these wonderful devices and then see how they interact with Windows XP. If youre like me, you will discover that the combination of a digital camera and Windows XP is just too good to resist. Its time to say goodbye to film.

Understanding Digital Cameras


In the world of film-based photography, there is precious little to worry about, choice-wise. Aside from some Polaroid hold-outs, even low-end point-and-click cameras and disposable cameras have standardized on 35mm film. When you move to a digital camera, however, there are a number of issues to deal with. While I cant possibly hope to cover every topic related to digital photography, its definitely advisable to think at least about the following issues. But in the end, what youre primarily concerned with here is how a digital camera interacts with Windows XP.

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Megapixel? Whats a Stinkin Megapixel?


Like any other digital media device youll work with, digital cameras support varying resolutions, which directly affects the quality of the pictures youre going to take. So this will probably be the feature youre primarily worried about, once you get over the sticker shock. Unfortunately, the digital camera world has standardized on a term called megapixels (MP) to define quality, where one megapixel is the same as 1000 total pixels. So a 2 MP camera can output at least 2 million pixels worth of resolution (as a comparison, a 1024 768 screen uses 786,432 pixels, which is about three-fourths of one megapixel). And the higher the resolution excuse me, the higher the number of megapixels the higher the quality of the resulting pictures. Specifically, higher quality digital photos can be printed as large prints. But high quality, as always, brings with it a price. Higher resolution digital photos take up more disk space than lower quality photos. And because the storage media used by most digital cameras is relatively small, youre going to have to make an allowance for this, either by using a lower but still acceptable resolution when taking pictures or by purchasing higher capacity storage media (see the following section, A Look at Media Types). I recommend the latter, since media is so cheap these days. My first digital camera was a now outdated Kodak DC290, which supported 2.1 MP, but I moved to a 5 MP Sony camera in 2003. Kodak and Sony, like many consumer electronic companies, would like to spare average consumers the rigor of understanding complex subjects such as file types and resolution. So they demark the various image quality levels one can achieve as Uncompressed, Best, Better, and Good (note that uncompressed is better than best). On the 2.1 MP Kodak, an uncompressed image was stored in TIFF format and took up over 6 MB of space on the disk (which means I could store just 4 of these images on a single 32 MB memory card), at a resolution of 1792 1200 (do the math, its just over 2.1 million pixels). The image quality is beautiful, and doesnt suffer from compression-related artifacts. But 6 MB files are hard to work with, even on a powerful PC. And on a 5 MP camera like the Sony, the images are even larger. Much larger. When I chose the Best setting, the resolution remained steady at 1792 1200, because thats as high as the camera can go. The difference is that Best forces the camera to use the JPEG image format for the photos it takes. JPEG is whats called a lossy compression format, meaning that it leaves out information in order to achieve smaller file sizes. On the Kodak, these images took up a little bit more than 500K, however, so I can store 45 of them on a single 32 MB memory card, which was workable. And since 2.1 MP images are good for up to 8 10 prints, I can still print any of the photos I took with that camera in 8 10 format at a photo service, or print them at home with a photo printer. (Three MP is good for prints as large as 11 17, while higher resolution cameras support even larger prints). Over time, the price of memory cards has dropped even as the capacities have increased. Today, the 32 MB media card I used with the Kodak has been replaced by a 128 MB media card for the Sony, but 1 GB cards are getting common. Camera capabilities will continue to grow, of course, so were in sort of a perpetual hamster wheel when it comes to this kind of thing, unfortunately.

A Look at Media Types


Speaking of memory cards, another key consideration is the type (and of course, size) of the storage that your camera will use. Early on, most digital cameras used a storage format called CompactFlash (CF). But today, most cameras use Secure Digital (SD) cards (except for my Sony camera, which uses TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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MemoryStick and MemoryStick Pro media). Regardless of the format, most media comes in various sizes, from 32 MB up to 1 GB and beyond. Some cameras can even use high-capacity hard drives, which are typically based on the CompactFlash format. Today, I use 128 MB MemoryStick cards with my Sony camera, and I can fit 80 images on a single memory card in Best mode (JPEG high quality). I generally bring two or three of these with me just in case when Im away and want to take pictures. By the time you read this, 256 MB and 512 MB cards will probably be reasonably inexpensive, however, so youll want to review your options if youre in the market for a new camera. But most cameras continue to ship with extremely small memory cards for some reason; the Sony came with a 16 MB card, which is somewhat ludicrous. In any event, theres little reason to choose a camera because of the media format it uses. One possible exception is the MemoryStick, which is proprietary to Sony. If you need to buy additional cards or adapters, such as PC drives that work with the media directly, youre stuck with Sony. However, Sony generally makes great imaging equipment; just keep the memory-card issue in mind.

Understanding Techie Camera Features


As digital cameras increase in complexity and gain more professional features, youll see some of the overhead of the 35mm world creep in. This means that you can adjust such features as shutter speed, exposure, and the like. But like the traditional film photography market, most digital cameras today are of the point-and-click variety, meaning that you should be able to pick one up, turn it on, perhaps switch between wide angle and telephoto, and then snap a photo. And thats how 99 percent of the world is going to use a camera, regardless of the format. Certainly, thats how I prefer to do it, and I spent a decade struggling with a multilens SLR film camera. But digital cameras offer other unique features that arent found in most 35mm cameras. Many offer a digital view screen on the back, so you can see the scene youre going to take a picture of without looking through the viewfinder. You can delete images on the fly, and preview images youve already taken before loading them onto a PC. Some cameras even support the ability to shoot short movies, which are limited only by the size of the memory card youre using. On a recent trip to Europe, we used this feature to take short movies on Germanys Autobahn and were impressed with how well it worked.

Making the Connection


When digital cameras first came to market, many of them connected to the computer through the serial port, a low-speed legacy port that doesnt even exist on many modern PCs. Today, all digital cameras use the fast USB 2.0 connection. So it will probably be hard to get this wrong, but just in case, be sure youre getting a camera that connects to the computer using a USB 2.0 cable. USB 2.0 is fast and its Plug and Play compatible, meaning that you can plug and unplug your camera on the fly without needing to reboot your system.

Understanding Batteries
Digital cameras burn through batteries like theyre going out of style, so youre going to want to think about this one a bit. Most digital cameras these days will work with standard AA batteries, but will also accept rechargeable, AA-sized Ni-MH batteries, which last a lot longer. My advice: Get two or more sets of these rechargeable batteries and bring along a charger on long trips.

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Using Your Digital Cameras in the Real World


A few final observations based on years of traveling with a digital camera. The aforementioned battery issue is the number-one problem youre likely to have when youre on a trip, so be sure to bring spares. And companies such as SanDisk sell USB-based drives that you can attach to your computer so that you can plug in a memory card and transfer photos without draining the batteries in the camera; I discuss this later in this chapter. And bringing a laptop on a trip isnt such a bad idea either, if youve got the room: That will allow you to download images off the cameras memory card each day, dramatically increasing your capacity. Besides, you want to bring your entire MP3 collection with you while youre on the road, right? Make sure you bring the cameras USB cable with you, of course, though many of todays notebook computers include SD slots. If not, you can get a SD-to-PC card adapter (or a similar adapter for other media) that will let you plug your cameras media card right into the computer. There are external versions of these adapters for home PCs as well.

Detecting Your Camera in Windows XP


If you read through the previous chapter about scanners, you may have been surprised by how quickly and easily you can add such a device to a Windows XPbased system. Well, a digital camera is no different. The details of the hardware connection will depend on your particular system, but it will typically involve attaching the camera to the PC with a USB cable. Or, if your computer includes a slot for your cameras media type (or, perhaps you purchased an external adapter for that purpose), you can take the media card out of the camera and plug it directly into your computer. However, Ill assume youre connecting the camera to the PC with a USB cable, which is the more common way to acquire pictures; both methods are very similar from a Windows XP point of view. When you plug the camera into your PC and turn it on, a small hardware detection bubble help window appears in the lower right of the screen, as shown in Figure 9-1, announcing the name of the device its found (Kodak DC290 Digital Camera in my case).

Figure 9-1: A digital camera is automatically detected by the system.

Note
If your camera is not recognized, you will be prompted to install the appropriate driver, usually found with the software that came with your camera.

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Then, the bubble changes to read Your new hardware is installed and ready to use. And thats literally all there is to it. At this point, the Auto Play dialog box for your camera appears. What you see here depends on which applications you install, but it will resemble Figure 9-2.

Figure 9-2: The Auto Play dialog box enables you to determine how you will interact with the hardware you just plugged in.

To start the Scanner and Camera Wizard, select Microsoft Scanner and Camera Wizard and then click Next. The wizard is shown in Figure 9-3.

Figure 9-3: And thats all there is to it.

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As with a scanner, you can also access a digital camera from the My Computer window. And if you dont see the Scanner and Camera Wizard appear when you turn on your camera, open My Computer, right-click the camera icon, and choose Auto Play.

Acquiring Images from a Digital Camera


The opening page of the Scanner and Camera Wizard has an interesting hyperlink, which is labeled advanced users only; I discuss this later in the chapter. For now, click Next, and you see the easy way to get pictures from a digital camera. In the Choose Pictures to Copy page (see Figure 9-4), you can preview the images that are stored on your camera and choose which ones youd like to download to your PC. Each image is shown as a thumbnail so you can see your photos before they are downloaded, and each one is selected by default so that they will all be downloaded unless you choose otherwise. In this page, you can choose to unselect all of the images with the Clear All option near the bottom, right of the page, select all of the images (the cunningly named Select All option), or select or unselect individual images.

Figure 9-4: In the first stage of the Scanner and Camera Wizard, you can choose which pictures to download and perform simple actions on those pictures.

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But wait; theres more. You can highlight individual images and, while theyre still in the camera, rotate them clockwise or counterclockwise using a small toolbar below the thumbnail preview area, as shown in Figure 9-5. You can also bring up a properties window for any individual image by clicking the Properties button (shown in Figure 9-5). This window, shown in Figure 9-6, will show you when the photograph was taken, what the file format is, and how much space it takes up on the memory card.

Figure 9-5: Before you download an image, you can rotate it.

Curiously, you can also take a picture with the camera from this dialog box, if this feature is supported by your camera. Simply click the Take a picture button (shown in Figure 9-7), and the camera will snap a photo and, after a slight delay, that new picture will be added to the selection of photos that will be copied to the PC.

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Figure 9-6: The Properties window for an image still on a camera.

Figure 9-7: By clicking this button, you can actually take a picture with the camera that is currently attached to the system.

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When youre ready to copy the selected photos to the PC, click Next and move to the Picture Name and Destination page, shown in Figure 9-8.

Figure 9-8: The Picture Name and Destination page enables you to choose where the photos will be downloaded and what they will be called.

This is similar to the page you see when youre working with a scanner, with some interesting camera-specific differences. First, you can choose the name that will be given to the group of photos that is being copied from the camera: With a scanner, only one image is acquired at a time. The name you give to this group will form the basis of the name of each of the files that will be created during the photo-copy phase. So the first photo in the collection will be saved as Name 001.jpg, the second as Name 002.jpg, and so on. So if youre importing photos from your sons birthday party, you might name the group of photos Marks birthday party, Pictures of the house, or whatever. When you do so, the destination folder will be changed to match, as shown in Figure 9-9. By default, the Scanner and Camera Wizard saves your photos to a subfolder under My Pictures. Another interesting feature thats specific to digital cameras: You can choose to delete automatically all of the images from the camera after theyre copied to the PC. To do so, just select the option box. After you click Next, the photos are copied to the destination youve chosen (see Figure 9-10). This happens rather quickly, especially if youre using a USB 2.0-compatible camera or are used to using a scanner.

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Figure 9-9: Changing the name of the picture group will also change the name of the destination folder to match.

Figure 9-10: Copying pictures to the camera is a quick affair; if you have only a few images, it will happen very quickly.

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If you requested that the wizard delete the photos after the copy process is completed, this will happen next, as shown in Figure 9-11.

Figure 9-11: If youve chosen to delete the images, this phase occurs after they are copied to the hard drive.

Then, youre presented with a rather dubious set of options (see Figure 9-12): You can publish the pictures to a Web site, order prints from a Photo Printing Web site, or simply skip this and move on, which is thankfully the default. If youre interested in the other two options, however, theyre covered in Chapter 8. At this point, the wizard completes (see Figure 9-13).

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Figure 9-12: After the images are deleted from the camera, you have choices to make.

Figure 9-13: The final page of the wizard tells you how many pictures were copied and where to find them.

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When you click Finish, Windows XP opens the directory that contains the images you just copied (see Figure 9-14).

Figure 9-14: The group of downloaded pictures is presented after the wizard quits.

Acquiring Pictures with a Media Center PC


If youre lucky enough to own a Media Center PC running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, you can acquire pictures from a digital camera using the Media Center interface, which can be handy.

Note
Versions of Windows XP Media Center Edition prior to 2005 (that is, the original version and XP Media Center Edition 2004) do not provide any way to acquire photos from the Media Center interface. To take advantage of this functionality, you will need Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (or newer).

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Heres how it works. If you plug in your digital camera while navigating the Media Center interface, youll see a dialog box asking if youd like to copy the pictures. You can also navigate directly to My Pictures; from here, your digital camera will show up as a folder from which you can copy images (see Figure 9-15).

Figure 9-15: Media Center 2005 can display pictures directly from your attached camera.

To copy pictures from the camera, select the Import button. Here, you will see a number of choices (see Figure 9-16), including the location to which youd like to copy the pictures (My Pictures or Shared Pictures), the folder name (and resulting file names) to create, and whether the wizard should delete the pictures from the camera after copying them.

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Figure 9-16: Importing photos from your camera is a snap with Media Center 2005.

After the copy is complete, Media Center will display a dialog box indicating that and then display the photos it imported, as shown in Figure 9-17. From here, you can perform any of the photorelated Media Center tasks to which youre accustomed, including playing an animated slide show or creating a CD/DVD that contains the photos.

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Figure 9-17: The imported photos are now ready to be enjoyed in Media Center.

Image Acquisition for Real Men (and Women)


If youre not interested in all that namby-pamby wizard stuff, Windows XP enables you to access your camera as if it were a hard drive. When you connect your camera and the Scanner and Camera Wizard appears, you might recall the advanced users only option I glossed over earlier. If you do choose this option, an Explorer window will open, showing the contents of your camera, as shown in Figure 9-18. You can also access this screen by navigating to the camera in My Computer. Here, you can copy, move, or delete files from your digital camera just as you would any files. Youll have to manually create a destination folder to copy them to the PC, and you dont get the automatic image renaming you do with the wizard; instead, each image is auto-numbered for you by the camera. A nice touch of this window, however, is the Camera tasks section of the Web pane. Here, you will find options that enable you to re-launch the Scanner and Camera Wizard, view a slideshow, order prints online, print pictures, or copy all of the photos to a CD. This takes some of the pain out of the non-wizard approach. Still, my recommendation is to use the wizard, because it creates friendlier file names automatically.

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Figure 9-18: You can navigate your camera as if it were a hard drive, using standard shell skills to copy, move, and delete images.

Summary
In this chapter, you learned the fundamentals of digital cameras from megapixels to storage media to battery considerations, you can now make an informed purchase and replace, if you choose, your old film-based camera. You discovered the benefits of digital photography, and how easy it is to copy photos from your digital camera to your PC. You also saw how Windows XP makes organizing your photo collection a snap. In Chapter 10 you examine how you can bring your photos to life by creating slide shows using Windows Movie Maker. You also look more closely at how you can use Plus! Photo Story to create stunning photo slide shows that you will be proud to share with your friends and family.

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Chapter 10

From Still Frame to Full Frame: Photo Slideshows

he next part of this book focuses on digital movie making, the process of acquiring, editing, and creating your own digital home movies. But you dont have to have a digital camcorder, video editing skills, or any of the other expected accoutrements to make compelling movies featuring your friends and family. Instead, you can take the one type of source content you probably have in excess your digital photos and turn them into exciting home movies called photo slide shows that come complete with a soundtrack, narration, or special effects. In this chapter, Ill show you how.

Creating a Photo Slideshow with Windows Movie Maker


Windows XP includes a wonderful tool called Windows Movie Maker (WMM) that helps you acquire raw video, edit it into something watchable, and then share it with others in a variety of ways. While you examine WMMs movie-related features in much more detail in Chapter 14, this innovative tool can do much more than just edit movies. Indeed, I wonder why they didnt call it Windows Media Maker. In this section, you use WMM to make photo slide shows.

Tip
Make sure youre using the latest version of Windows Movie Maker. The original version of Windows XP shipped with Movie Maker 1.1, but Microsoft released a major update called Windows Movie Maker 2. Its available to all Windows XP users from Windows Update and the Microsoft Web site (www.microsoft .com/windowsxp/downloads/updates/moviemaker2.mspx). Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, which shipped in October 2004, includes Movie Maker 2.1, which was the newest version available when I wrote this book. By the time you read this, newer versions may be available.

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WMM can be found in the Start Menu under All Programs. If you dont see it there, you dont have the latest version, so head on over to Windows Update and grab a copy. The main WMM window, shown in Figure 10-1, is divided into various sections, or panes. The leftmost pane, which is optional, can display the Movie Tasks list (as shown in Figure 10-1) or the Collections view. If you dont see the Movie Tasks list, click the Movie Tasks button on the toolbar or choose View and then Task pane from the WMM menu. In the center of the window is the Contents pane. This area will show you the contents of the current collection, which represents a movie project. Each collection can contain video clips, still images, audio files, and other content. On the right side of the WMM interface is the Monitor pane. Here, WMM presents a video display that is used to watch and edit video clips. On the bottom of the window is the Storyboard/Timeline pane, which is used to contain the edited movie you will eventually save as a finished work. You examine the WMM interface in more detail in Chapter 14, but hopefully this short overview will help you understand where everything is.

Figure 10-1: Windows Movie Maker 2 presents an interface segregated into various sections or panes.

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Importing Photos into Windows Movie Maker


To start a photo slide show project, click the New Project toolbar button (or select File New Project). This will clear out any existing project and prepare WMM for a new session. Now, you need to add photos to a WMM collection so you can build your slide show. For this first project, you keep it short and simple, and use just five photos. However, in your own projects, you can of course add as many photos as you want. To add photos to WMM, select Import Pictures from the Capture Video section of the WMM Movie Tasks list (If you cant see the list of tasks below Capture Video, you can expand the section by clicking the down arrow button to the right of Capture Video). This displays the Import File dialog box, shown in Figure 10-2.

Figure 10-2: To import photos into WMM, you can use this Import File dialog box.

Navigate to a picture or pictures youd like to import. You can use your Windows file management skills to Ctrl-click files, or simply import them one at a time, relaunching the dialog box each time you want to grab a new one. As you import pictures into WMM, they appear in the Contents pane, shown in Figure 10-3.

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Figure 10-3: Content you import into WMM, including photos, appears in the Contents pane.

Arranging the Photos in the Timeline


When youve imported all the photos you want, its time to arrange them in the current projects timeline or storyboard, which are the two organizational entities that WMM supports in the Timeline/Storyboard pane. The Timeline view, shown in Figure 10-4, presents a detailed view of the content in your project, along with separate wells for audio/music and title overlays. Its perfect for movie editing but a bit much for our purposes here.

Figure 10-4: WMMs Timeline view is complicated but more powerful than the Storyboard view.

The Storyboard view, shown in Figure 10-5, is simpler to look at and perfect for working with photos. It features a well for each clip (or, in our case, each photo), along with smaller wells in-between for adding transitions. You can switch to the Storyboard view by clicking the Show Storyboard button just above the timeline (conversely, you can switch back to the timeline by selecting Show Timeline if the Storyboard view is already enabled).

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Figure 10-5: Storyboard view is perfect for the big picture view of your WMM project.

Now, switch to Storyboard view. Select all of the photos in the Collections pane and drag them into the storyboard. WMM automatically positions one photo in each well in the storyboard (see Figure 10-6). You can rearrange the order of the photos, if you like, by simply dragging individual photos left or right inside the storyboard. To preview your masterpiece, click the Play button in the Monitor pane (see Figure 10-7). This will play the entire contents of the storyboard, which currently consists of five photos with no transitions between them. Each photo is displayed for five seconds, which is the WMM default. However, you may find this length to be too short or too long. Fortunately, you can change it.

Figure 10-6: When photos are deposited in the Storyboard view, they can be arranged as required.

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Figure 10-7: OK, Ken Burns has nothing to be worried about quite yet, but I believe were on the path to our first motion picture masterpiece.

Setting Photo Display Time


To change the length of time that each photo displays, and set other WMM options, you must access the WMM Options dialog box, available from Tools Options in the WMM menu. In the Advanced tab of this dialog box, shown in Figure 10-8, you can set both the picture and transition durations. The picture duration determines how long each picture displays before moving to the next picture. The transition duration determines how long any transitions last as you move from picture to picture (or from video clip to video clip in a traditional movie project); the default is 1.25 seconds. For our uses, both of the default values are fine, but as you progress with your WMM skills, you may want to change these values. Click OK to close the window.

Adding Transitions
Now that your pictures are arranged in the order youd like and youve decided that the picture display duration is acceptable, its time to add some transitions between each photo. WMM ships with a wide variety of transitions, but in the same way that using too many fonts in a word processing document can give that document the look of a ransom note, using too many different transitions in a slide show can often be distracting when the point of the movie should be the content, and not the transitions. That said, youre free to do what you will of course, but its better to use your powers for Good and not for Evil. To add transitions to the slide show, select View video transitions from the Edit Movie section of the Movie Tasks list in the Tasks pane. This displays a number of transitions in the Contents pane, shown in Figure 10-9.

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Figure 10-8: In the Advanced tab of the WMM Options dialog box, you can set slide show options.

Figure 10-9: WMM ships with a number of built-in transitions.

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On the Web
If you want more than the built-in transitions, Microsoft makes a number of free transitions and other add-ins available for WMM 2 in various Fun Packs. Check out the following downloads for some fun WMM add-ons: Windows Movie Maker 2 Creativity Fun Pack (www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/ powertoys/mmcreate.mspx) Windows Movie Maker 2 Winter Fun Pack 2003 (www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/ powertoys/mmfunpack.mspx) Digital Video with WMM 2 Winter Fun Pack (www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/ powertoys/mmholiday.mspx)

For this sample project, you use the basic Fade transition effect, which fades out the first photo as it fades in the next. Scroll down to the Fade transition effect and then drag it to the small box between the first two photos in the Storyboard, as shown in Figure 10-10.

Figure 10-10: To add a transition between two clips simply drag the transition to the box between those clips.

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When you release the mouse button, the small box between the clips changes to visually resemble the transition graphic, and you can mouse over it to verify which transition is there. Now, drag the Fade transition to the small box between each picture in the Storyboard. When youre done, WMM should resemble Figure 10-11.

Figure 10-11: Now, each photo transitions nicely into the next.

Now, click the Play button in the Monitor pane again to preview your newly edited slide show. This time, each picture fades nicely into the next, and youre starting to see how well its going to work.

CHANGING AND REMOVING TRANSITIONS


If you decide to change a transition, you can simply drag a new transition onto the small transition box between two clips. This will replace the current transition type, if there is one. If you need to remove a transition, simply right-click it in the Storyboard view and select Delete.

ADDING FADE IN AND FADE OUT


In addition to the fade transition youve added between each photo, its generally a good idea to add fade effects to the beginning and end of your slide show. You might think that you would simply add Fade transitions before the first picture and after the last to accomplish this goal, but actually WMM has a simpler way to do so. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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To fade in at the beginning of the slide show, right-click the first photo and choose Fade In, as shown in Figure 10-12. Then right-click the final photo and choose Fade Out. You can remove either of these effects by reselecting them; you notice the next time you right-click these photos that the Fade In and Fade Out options, respectively, are checked.

Figure 10-12: You can add a subtle intro and ending to your slide show with the Fade In and Fade Out options.

Adding Music to the Slide Show


At this point, your photo slide show masterpiece is ready to roll, but for one final change: You need to add some audio to spruce things up a bit. This can be music, which I prefer, or a narration, which you add by speaking into a microphone. First, lets look at the musical option. To add music to the slide show, you need to import a song first. Click the Import audio or music option under Capture Video in the Movie Tasks list to find a song on your hard drive. I typically like to add instrumental music to my slide shows, but you may have a favorite song you think would be nice. When you import a song, it appears in the Contents pane alongside your photos, as shown in Figure 10-13.

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Figure 10-13: The WMM Contents pane can hold audio clips in addition to photos.

Cross-Reference
Chapter 4 shows you how to acquire music from audio CDs, which you can then add to your slide shows if you like.

Now, to add an audio clip to your slide show, you drag it down to the storyboard, just as you do with photos. However, WMM doesnt let you work with audio clips in Storyboard view, so it pops over to Timeline view and gives you a little warning (see Figure 10-14). As you can see, the audio clip has been added to the Audio/Music well in the timeline. Because the song youve selected is likely longer than the slideshow, youll need to do some editing. First, ensure that the beginning of the song clip is lined up with the beginning of your photo slide show by selecting it with the mouse pointer and dragging it all the way to left within the Audio/Music well.

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Figure 10-14: Songs and other audio files can be added only to a movie in Timeline view.

Tip
Its possible that the song youve chosen is shorter than your slide show as well. In such a case, you can drag a second song, or a second copy of the same song, into the Audio/Music well and position it after the first. Then you can fade between them just as you do with other clip types.

Next, locate the end of the song clip by scrolling in the timeline to the right. Position the mouse pointer over the end of the song and youll see the pointer change as shown in Figure 10-15. This enables you to drag the end of the song clip to trim it, or reduce its length.

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Figure 10-15: To trim the clip, drag the cursor to the left.

Drag the end of the clip left until you can line it up with the end of the slide show (see Figure 10-16), which is contained in the Video well. You may need to magnify the view, by clicking the Zoom Timeline In button in the Timeline view (it looks like a magnifying glass with a plus sign on it).

Tip
You can also trim the beginning from a song clip and then trim the end to meet your needs. And because youll be fading the song in and out in a moment, this kind of edit wont be too jarring, especially for instrumental pieces.

When everything is lined up, right-click the song clip and select Fade In. Then, right-click it again and choose Fade Out. Now, you can preview your movie again in the Monitor pane. This time, your masterpiece is set to music.

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Figure 10-16: Try to line up the end of the song clip with the end of the slide show.

Adding Narration to the Slideshow


If youd rather add narration to the movie, you can do so using WMMs handy Narrate feature. To do so, click the Narrate Timeline button in the Timeline/Storyboard pane. Since narration can only happen in Timeline view, if you are currently in Storyboard view when you click this button, WMM will switch to Timeline view and warn you. Also, the Narrate view will take over the Tasks and Collection views as shown in Figure 10-17. To start narration, click the Start Narration button. When you do so, the movie starts playing, and you can talk over it. You can click Stop Narration at any time, or talk through to the end and it will stop automatically. When youre done recording narration, you will be prompted to save your narration (an audio file) in a new folder called Narration thats found in My Videos (which itself is found under My Documents). Then that file is added to your project and the narration is added to the timeline in the Audio/Music well. Click Done to close the Narration Timeline view.

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Figure 10-17: The Narrate view enables you to use your PCs microphone to add an audio narrative to your slide show.

Tip
You can also set narration options by clicking the Show more options link in the Narration view. This lets you determine which microphone to use, which audio output device to use, and whether to mute any other audio playback while youre narrating.

Adding Effects to the Slide Show


While most video effects are inappropriate for photo slide shows, you might be interested in at least seeing what the options are. In the Edit Movie section of the Movie Tasks list, select View video effects. This will display the list of available video effects in the Contents pane, shown in Figure 10-18.

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Figure 10-18: WMM abounds with a collection of cool video effects.

Like transitions, effects are added to your movie by dragging them to the Timeline/Storyboard pane. However, youve already added two effects to your movie without realizing it. To see them, change into the Storyboard view if you havent already, and notice that the first and last photos in the Storyboard have a little blue star displayed in their lower left corners. This area is used to denote which video effects have been added to the picture. And unlike transitions, you can apply more than one video effect to each clip. As for those blue stars, you previously added Fade In and Fade Out effects to the first and last photos, respectively. Microsoft added them to the right-click menu for clips because theyre needed often, but in truth, theyre no better or worse than other effects. And you can add effects to each clip again, photos in this case by simply dragging those effects to the appropriate photos. While Ill leave it to you to dive deeper into the wild and wooly world of video effects, I will call out some effects that I think are interesting for photo slide shows. As you scroll down the list, youll see effects with names like Zoom In, to Lower Left and Zoom Out, from Upper Right, and many others that are similar. These effects are similar to the photo panning effects documentary genius Ken Burns applies to old Civil War and baseball photos in order to give them new life. You can add the same effects to your own photos, and the effect is actually pretty mesmerizing. To add one of these effects to each photo, again, just drag them on down. When you do, each photo will display a blue star to indicate youve added an effect. Or, you can use another handy WMM feature to add effects: Right-click any photo clip in the Storyboard and select Video Effects to display the Add or Remove Video Effects dialog box, shown in Figure 10-19. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Figure 10-19: The Add or Remove Video Effects dialog box lets you . . . well, you know what it does.

As its name implies, this dialog box can also be used to remove effects. So if you find yourself overwhelming your pictures with effects, you can use this method to clean them up. Other effects you may want to experiment with for photos include Fade In, From Black; Fade In, From White; Fade Out, to Black; Fade Out, to White; Grayscale (for a black and white photo effect); Pan, Upper Left to Upper Right; Pan, Upper Right to Upper Left; Pixelate; and Sepia Tone.

On the Web
As with transitions, Microsoft makes a number of free effects available in various Fun Packs. It also includes a number of nice effects in its Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP, which is available for order online for just $19.95. For more information, visit www.microsoft.com/windows/plus/dme/dmehome.asp.

Saving and Sharing the Slide Show


OK, youve primped and prodded, edited and spit-shined, and now its time to save your slide show masterpiece and share it with the world. Not surprising, WMM makes this task straightforward using the Finish Movie section of the Movie Tasks. When you expand this section, youll see a variety of options, including Save to my computer, Save to CD, Send in e-mail, Send to the Web, and Send to DV camera. But before examining any of those options, you need to save your WMM project, which will be used as the source material for the eventual movies youll create.

SAVING THE WMM PROJECT


To save your project, simply click the Save Project button in the WMM toolbar or select Save Project from the File menu. Either choice presents the Save Project As dialog box, which positions itself in the My Movies folder and waits for you to pick a name. You can select any name youd like, of course, but for this example, Ill use My first photo slideshow. Click Save to save the project. Now, when you want to reload this project in the future with WMM, you can do so, and all of your Storyboard/Timeline edits and included photos and audio files will be resuscitated automatically. At this point, you can save the edited movie in a variety of formats. You look at these in the following sections. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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SAVING YOUR SLIDE SHOW TO THE COMPUTER


To save your slide show to a computer-based file, select the Save to my computer option in the Finish Movie section of the Movie Tasks list. This displays the Save Movie Wizard, shown in Figure 10-20.

Figure 10-20: The Save Movie Wizard walks you through the steps needed to turn your slideshow into a movie you can view in Windows Media Player.

In the first phase of the wizard, you give your slide show a name and choose where to save it (My Videos by default). Click Next to display the Movie Setting phase of the wizard, shown in Figure 10-21. Here, you choose the video quality of the movie youll create. This is a crucial phase, and youll want to think seriously about how to proceed. By default, the wizard chooses Best quality for playback on my computer, which will vary based on the speed and performance characteristics of your PC. However, Best quality isnt really the best quality WMM is capable of. Instead, its the best quality that the Microsoft Windows Media Video (WMV) format is capable of (the best quality is uncompressed DV-AVI format). WMVs best quality is generally a 2.1 Mbps 720 480 WMV video at 30 frames per second (FPS). Confused? Dont sweat the tech stuff. Thankfully, Microsoft provides simple English explanations of each format. Regarding the aforementioned WMV format, WMM refers to it as Video for local playback (2.1 Mbps NTSC) which is almost easy to understand. However, its likely that WMM may be prompting you to save your movie in a lesser format, or in a format you dont want. Fortunately, you can change the output. To do so, click the Show more choices link. This reveals two more choices: Best fit to file size and Other settings (see Figure 10-22).

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Figure 10-21: It looks simple enough, but this phase of the wizard is actually awash in hidden options.

Figure 10-22: The Save Movie Wizard lets you further customize the formats to choose when saving your movie.

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Which to use? Well, if you know the video needs to fit within a certain file size, maybe because you think you might eventually need to copy it to a CD or other size-limited media, the Best fit to file size option is for you. However, Ive never found myself needing to use that option. Instead, select Other settings. A drop-down list appears. When expanded, it reveals a wide range of choices, as shown in Figure 10-23.

Figure 10-23: The Save Movie Wizard enables you to output the movie for use on Pocket PCs, your PC, or other devices.

With the exception of DV-AVI, all of these formats are some derivative of WMV. The Pocket PC options will naturally create smaller movies that are appropriate for portable devices. The two Video for local playback options will create the largest and the highest quality versions WMV is capable of. Generally speaking, I like to choose DV-AVI if I know the movie will be used later in a DVD movie (see Chapter 15). Otherwise, I choose Video for local playback (2.1 Mbps NTSC). Your needs will dictate which choice you make, but you may want to experiment a bit with different formats to see how they look and sound.

Tip
One important concept to remember is that saving your movie in a particular format has no effect on the WMM project on which the movie is based. Your source materials digital photos and an audio file in this case will always retain their initial quality, so you can save many different versions of the movie if you want and not worry about compressing or dumbing down the source material.

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For this example, choose Video for local playback (2.1 Mbps NTSC) and then click Next. Now, the wizard will save your movie to disk. This process could take several minutes depending on the size of your movie. When the movie is completed, the wizard will end and prompt you to view it in Windows Media Player. Enjoy!

SAVING YOUR SLIDE SHOW TO A MOVIE CD


The second option under Finish Movie, Save to CD, lets you create a movie CD in a format called HighMAT (High-performance Media Access Technology) that was co-developed by Microsoft and Panasonic. The actual format of the disc doesnt matter much, however. Though it was originally expected to be adopted by a variety of consumer electronics companies for use in DVD players and other similar devices, HighMAT support didnt really happen. However, its supported in Windows XP, so the disks you create with WMM will always work there. When you select Save to CD, the Save Movie Wizard appears (see Figure 10-24).

Figure 10-24: The Save Movie Wizard prompts you for the file name and name for the movie CD.

Here, you can enter a file name and name for your CD, and because the wizard auto-fills these values, in many cases you can simply leave them as is and move along. When you press Next, youre presented with the Movie Setting phase as discussed in the previous section. As with the Save to computer option, youre free to futz with this as you will, but the wizard will generally do a good job of optimizing the output for a CD. Click Next to continue and the CD will be created (see Figure 10-25).

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Figure 10-25: The Save Movie Wizard creates CDs in HighMAT format.

SENDING YOUR SLIDE SHOW VIA E-MAIL


To send your movie to a friend or family member via e-mail, choose the Send via e-mail option. In this case, the Save Movie Wizard saves your movie in a format that is small enough to send as an e-mail attachment. The exact format of the movie will thus vary depending on how long the movie is. When the wizard completes, you have two options, Play the movie and Save a copy of my movie on my computer. When you click Next a new e-mail message window from your favorite e-mail application will appear and you can send the movie.

SENDING YOUR SLIDE SHOW TO A WEB SITE


This option requires you to have an account with a video-hosting provider, which is ridiculous, so Im going to skip over it. You can create videos for the Web on your own, however, using the Save to my computer option. Just remember a few basic rules: If youre only going to upload one version of the movie, smaller is better, so keep the video to 160 120 or 320 240. Give people options, however: Broadband users might not mind a bigger download, so you could consider creating two or three versions of each movie you upload so viewers have a choice.

SENDING YOUR SLIDE SHOW TO A DIGITAL VIDEO (DV) CAMERA


If you would like to save a perfect digital copy of your masterwork in DV-AVI format on a tape in your digital video (DV) camcorder, choose the Send to DV Camera option. This option requires you

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to have a DV camcorder connected to the PC via FireWire (IEEE-1394) cabling and a blank tape at the ready. Copying a video this way is a 1:1 transfer. That is, a 60-minute video will take 60 minutes to copy to tape.

Tip
If you want to skip the Movie Tasks list all together you can launch the Save Movie Wizard by choosing File Save Movie File.

Creating a Photo Slide Show with Plus! Photo Story


Windows Movie Maker is a handy tool, and you get it free with Windows XP. But if you want to make fun photo slide shows with cool transitions, animations, and background music or narration as you did in the previous section, but dont want to do all the work, theres a better alternative. Its called Plus! Photo Story. And although its not a free tool you have to buy Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP or certain other Microsoft digital imaging products to get it Plus! Photo Story is cheap enough and fun enough that it warrants your consideration.

On the Web
You can purchase Plus! Digital Media Edition, which includes Plus! Photo Story and a host of other cool digital media tools, from the Microsoft Web site at www.microsoft.com/windows/plus/dme/dmehome .asp. At the time of this writing, Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP costs just $19.95. Its worth it just for Plus! Photo Story.

Plus! Photo Story steps you through the process of making a photo story, which is essentially the combination of an animated photo slide show with music or narration. You can also save Photo Story projects for later editing and create a movie CD that contains your photo story. The Plus! Photo Story interface is shown in Figure 10-26. Heres how it works. Click the Begin a Story link on the first page of the Plus! Photo Story user interface to start a new project. In the second page, shown in Figure 10-27, you click the Import Pictures button to select the photos you want.

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Figure 10-26: Plus! Photo Story makes quick work of photo slide shows.

Figure 10-27: Click Import Pictures to select the photos for your slide show.

Using the File Browser window provided by Plus! Photo Story, you can repeatedly navigate into your file system and find the photos youd like to add to the slide show. When youre done, Plus! Photo Story should resemble Figure 10-28. You can also arrange the order of the pictures here using the Move Forward and Move Back buttons found at the right side of the timeline. If you discover youve imported a photo you didnt intend to use, select it and click the Delete button. When youre done organizing the photos, click Next. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Figure 10-28: Here, you can import and arrange your photos.

In the next page, shown in Figure 10-29, a number of things are happening.

Figure 10-29: In the Record your story phase, you can view the slide show, add narration, or manually edit the animation effect for each picture.

First, Plus! Photo Story has quietly added panning animations and transitions to your slide show. You can see these effects by clicking the Preview Story button. A small video window appears, as shown in Figure 10-30, letting you view the slide show. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Figure 10-30: The preview window lets you view each animation and see whether its what you want.

If one or more of the animations is unacceptable, you can change them by pressing the Advanced button. This launches the Advanced Options window, where you can change the start and end position of the panning effect for each photo, and then preview the motion, for each picture, as shown in Figure 10-31. Frankly, Ive very rarely ever wanted to edit the animations Plus! Photo Story selects, but you never know.

Figure 10-31: The Advanced Options window enables you to configure manually how each photo will animate.

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You can also use this page of the wizard to record narration, configure the microphone, or preview each picture. When youre happy with the results, click Next. If you havent added narration (and I never do), Plus! Photo Story will warn you, but you can click Yes to continue. (How dare you not add narration!) In the next page, you can add a title screen to the front of your slide show, as shown in Figure 10-32. This title screen can include various lines of text and, optionally, a background image. You can also play with the font and text alignment of the title and description text.

Figure 10-32: To prevent a jarring beginning, you can create a title page for your slide show.

In the name page, you can optionally choose a song file to use as background music (see Figure 10-33). You can also specify how loud that music will be, and the number of seconds each picture will display, and then preview the final output before saving it to disc. One nice thing about Plus! Photo Story is that it handles fading in and fading out the music. When youre ready to move on, click Next again. In the next page, you can select the video and audio quality of your slide show. For PC-based movies, stick with the defaults High-quality (640 480) video and high-quality audio (CD-quality). However, you may want to make a low quality version for use on the Web or via e-mail. Click Next to continue. In the next page, you determine the location and file name of the slide show youre creating and whether to save a Plus! Photo Story project. If you choose to create a project, youll be able to load it into Plus! Photo Story at a later time and edit it. I recommend always saving a project file. You never know what kind of problems might occur. When you click Next, your slide show is created. In the final page of the interface, you can view your slide show, create a movie CD, or start another project.

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Figure 10-33: Photo slide shows are almost always better when accompanied by appropriate music.

Editing an Existing Plus! Photo Story Project


To edit an existing Plus! Photo Story project, launch Plus! Photo Story and select the Edit a Photo Story Project link. A standard Open dialog box appears and enables you to load the project youd like to edit. Then you can step through the wizard-like interface as before, but this time all of the selections you previously made will be loaded.

Creating a Movie CD with Plus! Photo Story


To create a movie CD well, whats called a VCD, or Video CD, technically with Plus! Photo Story, select the Play a Story or Use a Story to Create a VCD link when you start the application. Youll see the dialog box with the title Play a Story or Use a Story to Create a VCD, which presents a list of the photo stories youve saved to your PC, as shown in Figure 10-34. Select the photo story youd like to write to CD and then click the Create VCD button. This launches the Create a Video CD applet, shown in Figure 10-35. From here, you can click the Create VCD button to start the process. First, Plus! Photo Story must convert the WMV-based movie into the type of movie file thats compatible with VCD discs. Then, it writes the disc. The resulting disc should be playable in most PCs and consumer electronics DVD players.

Note
A VCD is a DVD-like movie CD that uses the MPEG-1 video (compared to MPEG-2, which is used by DVD movies) format. MPEG-1, from a quality standpoint, is similar to a VHS tape, but not totally horrible.

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Figure 10-34: From this single location, you can play pre-created photo stories or write them to VCD.

Figure 10-35: The VCD you create with Photo Story should work in most consumer-oriented DVD players.

Choosing Between Movie Maker and Photo Story


So it seems like Windows Movie Maker and Plus! Photo Story can both be used to create stunning photo slide shows, but obviously Photo Story offers a far more streamlined process. So why would you ever use WMM instead? Well, there are a few reasons, actually. First, WMM is free, and for some people thats enough. But WMM also offers a number of features Plus! Photo Story doesnt, even if all you use WMM for is to create photo slide shows. For example, while Plus! Photo Story lets you add music to your slide show, it doesnt offer any way to edit that music, or configure it to queue up at a certain point in the song. So if you want the music to start two minutes into the song, youll have to use WMM.

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WMM also supports a much wider range of quality types for output. It has native profiles for Pocket PC devices and can write to uncompressed DV-AVI if youd like. And although I didnt cover it in this chapter, you can actually combine photos and videos together into a cohesive single presentation with WMM if youd like to. Heck, you even could import a slide show created in Photo Story into Windows Movie Maker and expand on it. In short, Plus! Photo Story is excellent at what it does and is a tool that all lovers of digital photos should own. But if you want to really harness the power of your PC to create photo slide shows, youll need a more powerful tool, like WMM. Frankly, Im happy to have both.

Creating a Photo Slide Show Screensaver


Photo slide shows are fun to watch, but wouldnt it be nice to create a photo slide show screensaver? That way, every time your computer was idle for a few minutes, you could be entertained by your favorite pictures. There are two good ways to accomplish this. The first is a native screensaver that comes free with Windows XP. To access it, launch Display properties by right-clicking a blank area of the desktop and choosing Properties. Then, navigate to the Screen Saver tab and select My Pictures Slideshow, as shown in Figure 10-36. By default, this screensaver will randomly display photos from your My Pictures folder (including subfolders). However, you can configure which pictures to display and various features like the length of time each will display and how large they should be, by clicking the Settings button. That action displays the My Pictures Screen Saver Options dialog box, shown in Figure 10-37.

Figure 10-36: The My Pictures Slideshow enables you to turn your own photos into a slide show screensaver on the fly.

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Figure 10-37: Here, you can configure how the My Pictures Screensaver behaves.

OK, so that works, but you just spent this entire chapter creating movies of photo slide shows. Wouldnt it be nice if you could turn these movies into screensavers? Well, it turns out that you can. Using a free Microsoft tool called the Windows XP Video Screen Saver PowerToy, which is part of the PowerToys Fun Pack (www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/create_power toy.mspx), you can turn any movie into a screensaver. Heres how. After youve installed the PowerToy, launch Display properties again and navigate to the Screen Saver tab. This time, select XP Video Powertoy from the Screen saver pull-down list. Click the Settings button to choose the video youd like to turn into a screensaver.

Summary
In this chapter, you examined how you can bring your photos to life by creating slide shows using Windows Movie Maker. You also discovered that, with a little effort, you can use Plus! Photo Story to create stunning photo slide shows that you will be proud to share with your friends and family. You can even turn your desktop screensaver in to a slideshow of your favorite pictures. In Chapter 11 you look at playing and managing the digital video that you have either created using your camcorder or downloaded from the Internet. You will also look more closely at enjoying digital videos on Media Center 2005 and accessing movies from online services.

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Part III
Movie Making
Chapter 11

Playing and Managing Digital Videos


Chapter 12

Raw Footage: Making Home Movies


Chapter 13

Acquiring Digital and Analog Video


Chapter 14

Creating Home Movies on Your PC


Chapter 15

Burn It: Creating Your Own DVDs

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Chapter 11

Playing and Managing Digital Videos


hen Windows 95 first shipped to the public all those years ago, one of the most amazing features was its built-in ability to play small videos onscreen. That OS came with a couple of videos on the CD version, including a short, low-quality skiing segment and two music videos. Back then, it wasnt a given that your computer could even play the things, so they actually formed a good test of your hardware. The 486 on which I originally ran Windows 95 was woefully underpowered for this task. Today, of course, the computer youre using with Windows XP is more than adequate for playing back high-quality movies, including video movie files stored on your hard drive, streaming videos that are delivered over the Internet, and DVD movies that will make that next business trip a little more bearable. Whats interesting is that over the past few years, consumer acceptance of this capability has become almost ubiquitous: Its just a given that you can do this on a PC. Well, as you might expect, Windows XP has been designed to make your experience with digital movies easier and more exciting than ever before. And that includes movies youve made yourself with a digital camcorder: If you want to play, manage, create, or edit digital movies, Windows XP is the place to be. In this chapter, you look at the video management, playback, and sharing features that are built into Windows XP.

Managing Digital Videos with My Videos


You may be aware that Microsoft has elevated the My Music and My Pictures folders in Windows XP to the status of special shell folder, which indelibly hard codes their functionality for audio and image management, respectively. Not surprisingly, Windows XP also includes a My Videos folder, also found in the My Documents folder, which is designed to hold videos and video-related files. However, Microsoft hasnt deemed to elevate this folder in status as it did for both My Music and My Pictures, so it doesnt appear on the Start Menu. Presumably they needed something for the bullet list of features for the follow-up to Windows XP. What this means is that My Videos is basically just a normal folder that is found under My Documents, with a few caveats. The folder doesnt even exist on your system until you start Windows Movie Maker for the first time. And it does exhibit some of the same behavior as special shell folders, in that you cant customize it as you can a normal folder.

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So before you start working with videos in Windows XP, fire up Windows Movie Maker (Start menu, then All Programs) and then close it (Ill discuss this application soon enough, in Chapter 12). Then, navigate to My Documents. When you do so, you will see the My Videos folder appear, as shown in Figure 11-1.

Figure 11-1: The My Videos folder appears after you run Windows Movie Maker the first time.

Inside My Videos is a single digital video file called Windows Movie Maker Sample File, which is designed to get you started with that program. You look at this shortly.

Managing Digital Videos


At this point, you might want to consider some file management issues, especially if you intend to do any digital video work. Aside from the obvious fact that digital videos can take up a lot of space, you should probably organize the videos you download or create in an efficient manner. The good news, however, is that digital videos arent yet as common as digital audio files, so its unlikely that most people will need anything complicated. But if you do intend to create your own movies, its a good idea to plan ahead and decide on some sort of directory structure thats logical and easy to navigate. I suggest separate folders under My Videos for each of your Windows Movie Maker projects and maybe one folder for downloaded videos. But how you organize this is, of course, up to you.

Change the Location of My Videos


Like My Music and My Pictures, the location of the My Videos folder can be moved with a little Registry spelunking. The Registry Editor (regedit.exe) isnt exactly a friendly little program, but it TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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gets the job done. To change the location of the My Videos folder, navigate to the following key and change its value to a new location:
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\CommonMusic.

Youll need to reboot for this to take effect.

Watching Movies with Windows Media Player


To watch a movie in Windows XP, you use Windows Media Player. This player supports a number of video types, including digital movies in a variety of formats, DVD movies, and streaming movies, which are delivered over the Internet.

Playing Digital Movies


If you followed the steps in the previous section to display the My Videos folder, you will have a sample digital movie called Windows Movie Maker Sample File that you can experiment with. To play this movie, simply double-click it. This will launch Windows Media Player, shown in Figure 11-2, which will then begin playing the video. Its a typical, if low-quality, home movie.

Figure 11-2: Windows XP includes a sample home movie, which you can view in Windows Media Player.

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Windows Media Player can play a number of digital movie types, including Windows Media video files (file type .wmv), AVI files (.avi, what Microsoft generically calls video files), MPEG format movie files (.mpeg, .mpg, .mpe, .m1v, .mp2v), and Indeo video files (.ivf).

HANDLING COMPETING MEDIA TYPES


What Windows Media Player cannot play, sadly, are movies formatted in RealVideo or Apple QuickTime formats. To play movies of these types still a requirement for any connected user you must download the RealPlayer and QuickTime player, respectively.

CONFIGURING WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER FOR MOVIES


You can configure which movie types are played by Windows Media Player by choosing Tools Options and navigating to the File Types tab, as shown in Figure 11-3.

Figure 11-3: The Media Player Options, File Types tab determines which media types are handled by the player.

In general, its a good idea to click Select All and let the media player do it all. Also of interest is the Performance tab, which includes a Video acceleration slider and an Advanced button, which launches the Video Acceleration Settings dialog box, shown in Figure 11-4. How youll configure this will depend on your CPU and 3D accelerator video card. If you have something fairly modern, I recommend turning it up all the way, enabling all of the options on the Video Acceleration Settings dialog box. If you notice any problems with video playback, you might have overestimated the capabilities of your system: Click Restore Defaults or play a bit with the settings.

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Figure 11-4: Advanced video options, such as the default size of video and various hardware capabilities can be customized in Windows Media Player.

Playing DVD Movies


Like previous versions, Windows Media Player 10 can play back DVD movies, though its implementation leaves much to be desired. Obviously, you will need a DVD (or recordable DVD) drive. Not so obviously, you will need a software-based DVD decoder, which is the code that decodes the DVD data and converts it into something the computer understands. Oddly, Microsoft doesnt include this crucial bit of software in Windows XP or with Windows Media Player 10. But depending on how you acquired Windows XP, you may still have the ability to playback DVDs. At the very least, its not difficult to add this capability. You see, most people obtain Windows with a new PC. And if you got Windows XP with a new DVD-equipped PC from Dell, IBM, Compaq, or some other major PC maker, they will have included the required decoder right in the box. Its just one of the many intangible benefits of going with the big guys. But maybe you bought Windows XP in a box at your local Best Buy, CompUSA, or equivalent. In this case, youll have to install your own DVD decoder. This is explained in the next section. So how do you find out if you need this decoder? Well, if you dont have a DVD decoder, you wont see any of the DVD options in Windows Media Player. Of course, even if you do have the decoder, its hard to find these options, which are curiously buried in the interface. The first place to look is the Play menu. If you see a DVD or CD Audio entry, then DVD playback is all set. The other place to look is the Options dialog box (Tools Options), where you should see a DVD tab, as shown in Figure 11-5. If you dont see this tab, you will need to install a DVD decoder on your system.

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Figure 11-5: DVD options such as parental control and subtitles are customized from the DVD tab in the Media Player Options dialog box.

INSTALLING A COMPATIBLE DVD DECODER


When DVDs first began appearing, PC video cards were fairly underpowered, so a hardware approach to DVD decoding was used. These days, most people have fairly powerful video cards, however, and software decoders are far more common (theyre much cheaper than hardware solutions as well). If you want to add DVD playback to your Windows XP, youll probably need to purchase a commercial DVD decoder. Fortunately, Microsofts partners have created special DVD Decoder Packs for Windows Media Player and Windows XP that fit the bill and are pretty cheap to boot (theyre about $15 each). You can find out more about the DVD Decoder Packs from the Microsoft Web site (www.microsoft .com/windows/windowsmedia/windowsxp/dvdplay.aspx). Once youve installed one of these add-ons, you should be able to play DVD movies in Windows Media Player.

Tip
For the best experience, be sure to open up Windows Media Player, navigate to Tools Options File Types, and be sure that the DVD option is checked. This will cause the media player to auto-play DVD movies when they are inserted in the PC.

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PLAYING DVD MOVIES WITH WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER


If youve configured Windows Media Player to be the default DVD player, then this application should start automatically when you insert a DVD movie. However, Media Center owners and other users whose PCs were configured by a PC maker might see an Auto Play dialog box. If you do, choose Play DVD Video using Windows Media Player to play the DVD with, well, Windows Media Player. You can also manually start the media player and choose Play, then DVD or Audio CD to start the DVD movie. Likewise, you can choose movie from the Quick Access Panel in the top left of the player window, as shown in Figure 11-6. However you do it, you should see Hollywoods latest masterpiece begin playing back on the small screen.

Figure 11-6: DVDs should auto-play when inserted, but you can also choose them from the playlist in Windows Media Player.

If you have an Internet connection, Windows Media Player automatically detects the DVD youre playing and displays information about that movie. This is discussed further in this chapter, in the section called Get DVD Information. For simple playback, the main player controls for Play/Pause, Stop, Previous, and Next will work as expected. And you can use the mouse pointer to select on-screen menu items (see Figure 11-7), as you would normally with a DVD remote control if you were playing the movie on your TV set.

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Figure 11-7: DVD menus can be controlled with the mouse pointer.

Tip
Watching a DVD movie is one of those rare occasions where youre going to want to sit in front of your computer, doing absolutely nothing, for a few hours, but you dont want power management or a screen saver to kick in. Fortunately, power management is sophisticated enough to stay off while youre watching a movie. But if you are using a screen saver, Windows Media Player has an option you can choose to disable it during movie playback. Navigate to Tools Options Player and uncheck the option labeled Allow screen saver during playback. This option will be grayed out if you are not using a screen saver, a nice touch.

USING FULL SCREEN MODE


Of course, if you really want to make your cabin-mates jealous on that next cross-country flight, youre going to want to play the movie back full screen, as shown in Figure 11-8. This is accomplished by choosing View Full Screen (keyboard mavens can type Alt+Enter).

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Figure 11-8: DVD playback really shines in full-screen mode, which gives you the biggest possible picture with a minimum of controls.

In full-screen mode, a few controls are briefly shown on screen before fading away elegantly, along with the mouse cursor. These include a status bar along the top of the screen that includes information about the movie, a Playlist toggle button, and a button that will cause the movie to return to normal Full view. On the bottom of the screen, you will see the standard Windows Media Player play controls, with buttons for Play/Pause, Stop, Previous, Next, and Mute/Sound, along with sliders for Volume and Rewind/Fast Forward/Seek. The onscreen controls disappear if you dont move the mouse or press a key for a few seconds. They will reappear when you do. You can also right-click the screen anywhere to access DVD- and WMP-specific features, as shown in Figure 11-9.

FOR ADULTS ONLY? CHANGING THE CAMERA ANGLE


A small number of DVD movies primarily in the adult entertainment category support various camera angles so that you can watch the same scene from various angles. Choose View DVD Features Camera Angle to choose the camera angle. The vast majority of DVD movies do not support this feature, but its cool to see when you find one that does. Or at least Im told that its cool.

GETTING INFORMATION ABOUT A DVD


When you first insert a DVD, Windows Media Player gathers information about that movie, such as DVD name, director, title names, and chapter names. (This requires an Internet connection.) Some of this information is auto-populated in the playlist and Media Information pane. To view more information about the current movie, click the link titled View DVD Info in the Media Information pane. As shown in Figure 11-10, information about the current movie now appears in the Info Center View. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Figure 11-9: You can access DVD menu items from the right-click menu in full-screen mode.

Figure 11-10: DVD information can be displayed in the Info Center if desired.

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CONFIGURING DVD OPTIONS


In addition to all of the cool (but well-hidden) playback controls, Windows Media Player also offers a number of other useful options relating to DVD playback. For example, you can set parental controls so that certain types of movies cannot be accessed without first entering an administrative account user name and password, perfect for that shared family PC. To do so, Select Tools Options and then navigate to the DVD tab. From the Select a rating drop-down list box, choose the lowest Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating, such as G, PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17 that will trigger the logon requirement. So, if youd like to restrict PG-13, R, and NC-17 movies, choose PG, as shown in Figure 11-11.

Figure 11-11: If youd like to prevent your children from viewing inappropriate movies, you can select an MPAA rating.

Viewing Streaming Videos


In addition to playing back file-based videos and DVD movies, its possible to play streaming videos over the Internet. Streaming videos are videos that are played over a network connection like the Internet without ever actually downloading the video the local PC. And these days, various small video clips are quite common on sites like WindowsMedia.com, MSNBC.com, and others. In fact, many Web sites are now offering full-length feature films for viewing in Windows Media Video format. What a world. There isnt much to worry about with regard to streaming videos, in general. When you click a hyperlink in Internet Explorer that links to a streaming video, Windows Media Player fires up automatically, caches a certain amount of content to ensure decent playback quality, and then the video begins to play. You can play, pause, stop, rewind, and fast forward streaming videos just as you can with file-based video. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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To get information about the quality of the connection to the streaming video, choose View Statistics, as shown in Figure 11-12.

Figure 11-12: During streaming video playback, you can view statistics about the connection you have with the server.

Sharing Videos with Other Users


If youre creating home movies like those discussed in Chapter 12, youre probably going to want to share them with others. This can take various forms: You might set up a home media server, such as the one described in Chapter 4, so that you can allow others on your home network to view the movies youve created. And though the My Videos folder doesnt have a Shared Videos compatriot like My Pictures and My Music, its possible to create one or share your current My Videos folder on a network if youd like. Sharing videos on the Internet is becoming increasingly popular as well. You look at that in Chapter 14, when you use Windows Movie Maker to create, edit, and publish home movies.

Renting Digital Videos Online


One recent development thats kind of exciting is the ability to rent digital videos online from new services such as CinemaNow and MovieLink. Heres how it works: You sign up for the service, which is free, and then peruse their collection of videos, just as you would at a retail movie rental shop like Blockbuster Video. When you find the video youd like to watch, you click a download link and the video is downloaded to your machine after youve paid for the rental. Shortly after you begin the download, you can start watching the video using Windows Media Player 10. However, once you start watching the video, you have only 24 hours to complete watching it (or watch it a few times). After that, youll have to pay for the rental again.

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Digital video rentals are decent quality and competitively priced with physical movie rental places. The disadvantage is that you have to watch the movie on your PC. This might not be a problem if you have a Media Center PC thats attached to your TV set. But its also nice for people who travel a lot with laptops. Simply download a movie or group of movies to your machine, and then theyre ready to go the next time youre on a plane or in a hotel room with nothing to do. Lets take a look at the process of renting a digital video online using CinemaNow and Windows Media Player 10. 1. Open Windows Media Player 10 and select CinemaNow from the Online service dropdown list as shown in Figure 11-13. The CinemaNow service appears (see Figure 11-14). 2. If you dont have an account already, start one, and then log on to the service. 3. Navigate to a section of the site to find a movie. In this example, you visit the Action section, shown in Figure 11-15.

Figure 11-13: CinemaNow and other online movie services are available from the WMP10 Online Stores menu.

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Figure 11-14: CinemaNow, like many online services, loads directly inside of WMP10.

Figure 11-15: Just as with a brick-and-mortar video rental store, CinemaNow offers different sections for different movie genres.

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4. Navigating through the CinemaNow interface, find a movie youd like to rent. For each movie, you can find out textual information, watch the trailer, or perform other actions, like adding it to a wish list. 5. Click the Watch The Movie link to download the movie. In the next screen, youre reminded of the cost of the movie. 6. Click the Purchase Now button, and then Proceed to Checkout in the next screen, as shown in Figure 11-16.

Figure 11-16: After you click Proceed to Checkout, your credit card will be billed and you can start downloading the movie.

7. In the next screen, you must enter your credit card information. Click Submit. 8. After your credit card is approved, CinemaNow presents you with a link to begin the download. If this is the first time youve used the service, you might need to install the CinemaNow Download Manager as well. The download manager will alert you when you can start watching the movie (see Figure 11-17). 9. Click the Watch Now link to begin watching your rental.

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Figure 11-17: One of the nice things about online movie rentals is that you can start watching a movie while its downloading.

By default, rented movies are copied to your My Videos folder. You can delete them after youre done watching them to free up hard drive space or hold on to them and watch them later after paying a rental fee again, of course.

Note
If you think youre going to want to watch a lot of movies this way, most online movie services also offer subscription plans that let you pay a monthly fee and then access hundreds of movies on demand: You can either stream or download these movies and not worry about paying a la carte fees every time you want to watch them. In this way, movie services are evolving somewhat like online music services, though it will likely take longer for movie services to catch on because of the bandwidth demands. This is not a task to undertake without a fast broadband connection. Still, it beats jumping in the car and heading to the local video rental.

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Playing Digital Videos and DVD Movies in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
As the ultimate digital media experience, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 offers some exciting video-related advantages over its other XP siblings. When combined with its sweet user interface and couch-friendly remote control, Media Center is the place to be to enjoy digital video, especially if youd rather be in a more comfortable environment than your home office. Heres what XP Media Center Edition 2005 has to offer when it comes to playing and managing digital videos.

Accessing My Videos in Media Center


When you access My Videos from within Media Center, youre presented with the clean interface shown in Figure 11-18. From here, you can view any of the videos you have stored on your PC.To play a movie, simply select it. Press Back on your remote control to return to My Videos. To access details about a movie, select it and then click the More Info or Details button on your remote (or right-click it if youre using a mouse) to display the menu shown in Figure 11-19. Select Video Details. This presents the screen shown in Figure 11-20, which contains more information about the video as well as the ability to play or delete it, or navigate to other videos.

Figure 11-18: In Media Center, My Videos aggregates all of the video content on your PC.

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Figure 11-19: To find out more information about a video, select it and press the More Info button on your remote.

Figure 11-20: From here, you can play or delete the video or navigate to other videos.

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Finding Movies on TV
The single most exciting feature in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is the new Movies functionality in My TV. This feature presents a rental store-like list of the movies that are on your TV system now and in the near future, helping you easily find content youd like to watch now or record in the near future. To access this feature. Navigate to the Media Center start page and then select My TV. The My TV screen, shown in Figure 11-21, appears. You examine My TV more closely in Chapter 16.

Figure 11-21: My TV is the starting point for Media Centers interaction with your TV system.

Now, select Movies. Media Center will give you a handy list of the movies that are playing right now on your TV. And if you configured the system correctly (see Chapter 16), this movie list will only include those movies that are playing on stations you actually receive on your cable or satellite service. Good stuff. In any event, the movies are presented in a graphical manner, complete with DVD-like cover art, as shown in Figure 11-22.

FINDING MOVIES THAT ARE ON SOON


These particular movies are playing right now, so they will be in progress and its likely that youve missed some content. To find out about movies that will start soon, click the On Next link. This presents a similar screen to On Now, with the obvious difference that those movies havent started yet, but soon will. So you can configure them to record if youd like, or just wait for them to start and then watch them in real time.

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Figure 11-22: On Now and On Next display all of the currently playing or soon-to-be-available movies on your TV system.

WATCHING A MOVIE
To watch a movie, simply select it from the On Now or On Soon view and then click the Watch link on the Movie Info Screen, shown in Figure 11-23. This screen also enables you to configure a recording or find other showings of this movie.

GETTING MORE INFORMATION ABOUT A MOVIE


If youd like to find out more information about a movie youve selected, press the Details or More Info button on your remote (or right-click the screen) and then choose Cast Info, Reviews, or Similar Movies from the pop-up menu that appears. If you choose Cast Info, for example, you can start off on your own Six Degrees of Separation quest for similar movies. For example, after you pick an actor, you can view a biography, find other movies that the actor stars in on your cable system in the near future so you can record them, or find TV shows in which the actor appeared. Cool eh? You can also access the Genres, Top Rated, and Actors/Directors links to start off on a wasteful night of movie discovery if youd like. Media Center makes it easier than ever to find movie content you might want to watch.

FINDING A MOVIE
You can also use Media Center to search for movies. Lets say you know the name of a Hollywood blockbuster and would like to view it when its on TV, no matter when that happens. Select the Title Search link from the Movies page and then enter the name of the movie into the Search Movie Title screen, as shown in Figure 11-24.

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Figure 11-23: In Movie Info, you can watch, record, or find other showings of the currently selected movie.

Then, select the movie that most closely matches your search and schedule a recording. Sometimes, youll come across a movie thats not in the guide. In that case, you can configure Media Center to record that movie in the future, whenever it shows up on your TV system. Impressed yet?

Figure 11-24: Movie searches often result in a plethora of choices.

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Playing DVD Movies with Media Center


Naturally, you can play DVD movies with Media Center as well. Simply select the Play DVD choice from the Media Center start page.

Accessing Online Movie Services from Media Center


The previous sections discussed online movie services and walked through the steps you take to rent a movie from CinemaNow. Those services are also available from Media Center by using the Online Spotlight menu in Media Center, making the process even more convenient since you can order the movies from your couch with a remote. Best of all, you can also watch your rented movies from within Media Center, even those movies you downloaded via Windows Media Player.

Summary
Windows XP makes organizing, finding, and playing digital video easier than ever, especially for users lucky enough to have a Media Center PC. In this chapter, you learned how to play back local, streaming, and DVD video content, and how to find and access more content by participating in online movies services. In Chapter 12 you look at raw footage making home movies. Youll learn about formats from 8mm to S-VHS, and you explore the basics of home movies creation.

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Chapter 12

Raw Footage: Making Home Movies

n Chapter 13, youre going to take a look at Windows Movie Maker, the tool in Windows XP that makes it easy to compose, edit, and produce digital movies. But before you can do this, youre going to need to take some video footage with a camcorder. And while we cant all expect to be the next George Lucas, its not unreasonable to want to understand the issues that will affect the final quality of your home movies. So in this chapter, youre going to examine what you can do, ahead of time, to ensure that your videos are as high quality as is possible. These issues begin at your choice of video camera: These days, digital video cameras are cheap, and if possible, youre going to want to go with one of the newer, smaller units. But many people are going to have to make do with existing (or cheaper) analog units for various reasons, and youll look at the tradeoffs youll make with this type of video source. After youve chosen a camera, you actually need to take movies. The best idea is to simply shoot video, shoot more video, and then shoot even more video. The nice thing about digital video editing, of course, is that you can cut and paste later on as needed, so you dont need to worry about boring footage. But still, its always a good idea to ensure that your original source video is as high quality as possible, so youll look at some of the basic issues youll face when actually shooting video.

Understanding Home Video


The video youre going to shoot with a camcorder will fall into one of two types, analog or digital. Analog video is delivered using a constantly changing electrical signal. The most common example is a standard U.S. TV set (although even TV is rapidly going digital these days): The signal varies constantly and can be adjusted in small increments. When such a signal is lost, you see snow. Digital signals, however, are encoded in a binary format where each bit of information is represented as a one or a zero. Digital signals arent inherently superior to analog signals as you might expect, but we are definitely moving toward an all-digital future as far as video is concerned. In any event, each type of video has its own pros and cons. Most analog video is really composite video, which carries the information for video color, image, blanking, and synchronization on a single wire. Typically, composite video is transferred from device to device through a composite video, or RCA-style video connection like the ones youve probably seen on your stereo system. For great distances, coaxial cable like that found on your cable TV system is used, because it offers little quality degradation over distances. A higher-end form of 323 analog video, called S-video or Y/C signal (so named because the color and brightness information TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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are transmitted on separate wires), generally offers better clarity and resolution: High end TV sets and DVD players often offer S-video inputs for this reason. Analog video, in the United States at least, has a resolution of roughly 525 525. I say roughly, because its analog, and nothing is ever exact with analog: The perceived resolution will vary dramatically based on the reception, the physical connection, and the implementation (VHS video, for example, offers only 250 lines of resolution, while S-video bumps this figure up to about 425). Digital video, meanwhile, does not offer the variable signal range experienced with analog video. Instead, various bit patterns are encoded in a video stream to represent colors and other information, and the resolutions are exact and tend to be higher and more in line with what were used to on PCs. Digital signals, however, are far more susceptible to electrical interference, and therefore require specially shielded cables. A digital signal is either available or unavailable; theres no middle ground. What you get with digital video, of course, is clarity. Digital signals tend to be cleaner, and transmit better over long distances. This is because digital data is encoded to know how it should output, resulting in no loss in quality. Analog signals, meanwhile, can only be amplified over distances: A bad signal amplified is still a bad signal. The primary advantage of a digital video signal is that it doesnt degrade. You can copy digital signals from medium to medium as often as you like to the limitations of the physical media and never lose any quality. This is not true of analog video, as anyone whos duplicated VHS tapes knows. Each generation of analog video loses quality, often dramatically. In short, I advise sticking with digital video for your home movies, unless you already own an older analog camcorder with which youre satisfied. Just remember to archive your analog video digitally as soon as possible to preserve it. In the next section, you look at the technology choices in the camcorder market.

Choosing a Camcorder
Just as video formats fall into two basic categories, so do camcorders. Today, there is an amazing selection of fairly inexpensive analog and digital video camcorders for the picking, although I expect the analog market to completely dry up over the next few years.

Analog Camcorders
Analog video is divided into a number of contenders, including VHS, VHS-C, S-VHS, 8mm, and Hi-8. In this section, you take a quick look at each of these formats.

VHS
VHS is the venerable format we all love to hate, the hardware that plays those hundreds of thousands of video tapes clogging Blockbusters from Maine to Los Angeles. VHS camcorders are big and bulky like their living-room counterparts, and its unlikely youve seen one of these dinosaurs since the early 1980s, if only because their humongous size makes them an unwelcome guest on family vacations.

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VHS format video offers about 250 lines of resolution, which is pretty low quality by any measure. I recommend steering clear of this kind of camcorder because of this limitation and because of the size and weight issues: Theyre just too bulky to be desirable these days, despite the fact that you can pop a tape from one into just about any video player in America without the need for an adapter or complicated wire connection.

VHS-C
To solve the size and weight problems of VHS camcorders, the VHS-C (for compact) format was invented. VHS-C cassettes are about half the size of a standard VHS tape, and can be played in a VHS player using a converter cassette. VHS-C isnt as convenient as standard VHS (wheres that converter again?) but it comes with all of the resolution and quality limitations of VHS. Like VHS, VHS-C offers only 250 lines of resolution. Ten years ago, VHS-C was a great option. Today, you can do much better.

S-VHS
Super VHS (or S-VHS) was designed to overcome the quality limitations of standard VHS format, but it does so with a cassette exactly the same size as VHS. S-VHS camcorders are actually very rare, so its mentioned here only for completeness. On that note, S-VHS offers 400 lines of resolution, which is as high as it goes for semi-portable analog video.

8MM
An eight millimeter cassette format, adroitly named 8mm format, appeared in the early 1990s to combat the size issues of VHS camcorders. 8mm cassettes are quite small, and very inexpensive, and camcorders based on this format are still available at consumer electronics stores today. And because 8mm offers 300 lines of resolution, the resulting quality is a bit better than VHS. The problem, of course, is that 8mm cassettes wont play in standard VHS players. So 8mm camcorder owners will need to copy their home videos to VHS or hook the camcorder directly to the TV to view their movies on the television. 8mm video is roughly identical to VHS from a quality standpoint. That is, it isnt that great. I recommend skipping out on this format.

HI-8
A higher-quality version of 8mm, called Hi-8, offers compatibility with 8mm tapes while providing higher-resolution video (about 400 lines) that doesnt degrade across duplications. Hi-8 camcorders can play and use 8mm cassettes as well as higher-quality Hi-8 tapes. Of all the analog video formats, Hi-8 is the only one suitable for camcorder use: Its portable and small, and offers S-VHS quality. However, given the low price and ready availability of digital camcorders today, only a sucker would go Hi-8 now. Today, home video is digital video.

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Take the Plunge: Digital Camcorders


When you move up to digital video, you open up a wide new range of capabilities and features. Digital video tapes tend to be much smaller than most analog cassettes, so the camcorders that use these formats are much smaller as well. More important, digital video offers higher resolution video: up to 500 lines of resolution, compared to the 250 to 400 youll get with analog. Digital video camcorders also offer higher-quality audio capabilities, though its unlikely youll ever be able to take advantage of it with a typical camcorders single built-in microphone. Also, digital video wont degrade over time or duplications, cause snowy artifacts when you re-record over a used cassette, or degrade in quality when transferred from medium to medium (assuming youre using a digital cable like FireWire, discussed a little later in this chapter). Finally, digital camcorders have come down greatly in price in recent years, and there are many different models to choose from. For the foreseeable future, todays generation of digital camcorders is hard to beat.

Digital Camcorder Formats


Consumer-grade digital camcorders ship in two major formats, Digital 8 and Min-DV (Digital Video).

DIGITAL 8 FORMAT
To maintain backward compatibility with the popular 8mm and Hi-8 formats, Sony introduced a digital format called Digital 8, which uses cheap 8mm and Hi-8 cassettes. The nice thing about Digital 8 is that these camcorders can be used to play back analog 8mm and Hi-8 cassettes, crucial if youre upgrading and have a library of tapes. But if youre starting fresh, I recommend staying away from Digital 8. Camcorders based on this format tend to be bigger than comparable Mini-DV units. One limitation of Digital 8 is that recording is generally limited to one hour per tape, compared to two hours for 8mm and Hi-8. This is because of the way digital video is encoded on the tape. Digital 8 video offers 500 lines of horizontal resolution.

MINIATURE DIGITAL VIDEO (MINI-DV) FORMAT


The preferable mainstream digital video format these days is Mini-DV. Mini-DV cassettes are the smallest of any camcorder format, analog or digital, and the format offers the highest resolution, about 500 lines. If you are starting fresh, I strongly recommend going with Mini-DV format.

THE FUTURE: SOLID STATE VIDEO FORMATS


While solid state storage hasnt grown to the point where it makes sense to create tape-less mainstream video cameras, were heading in that direction. But its possible to experiment with this type of recording today. Thats because many of todays digital cameras let you record small videos to their solid state media cards, which can be handy when you want an occasional video but dont feel like carting a video camera around. As media sizes increase and prices decrease, this style of recording will become more and more common.

Buying a Camcorder
So youre ready to buy a camcorder. Aside from the video format, discussed above, a number of options to consider are discussed in the following sections. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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LCD VIEWFINDER
Youve seen them at Disney World and the kids Little League games: Todays camcorders generally offer a flip-out, side-mounted LCD viewfinder in addition to the standard body-mounted viewfinder that requires you to stick the camera up to your eye in order to shoot video. Side-mounted LCDs allow you to hold the camera away from your body and observe your surroundings in a manner that will, hopefully, prevent you from taking that Chevy Chase-style pratfall into a lake or unsuspecting bystander. An LCD is also handy when you want to watch the video youve shot while youre still in the wild: You can pop open the screen, place the camcorder in player mode, and gather around with your closest friends to relive the days events on the small screen. On the downside, LCD viewfinders tend to drain battery life more quickly because of the power required to generate the display. So while its a wonderful addition, be sure to pack a few extra batteries and the camcorders power cable.

BATTERY READOUTS
Speaking of which: An accurate readout of the remaining battery life is crucial: theres nothing like running out of power during the eighth inning of your sons big game. For this reason, you should hunt down a camcorder that offers an accurate display of this, preferably right on the LCD panel. Oh, and buy a few extra batteries regardless of how accurate the display is. Have I mentioned the need for extra batteries yet?

INPUTS: FIREWIRE, COMPOSITE, AND S-VIDEO, OH MY


Digital camcorders should offer, at minimum, a FireWire, or IEEE-1394 (or, in Sony-speak, iLink), connection, which is how you will connect the camcorder to your computer. FireWire is a standard, high-speed connection type that first became popular on Macintosh computers but is increasingly common on Windows-based PCs as well. If you dont have a FireWire connection on your PC, you can (and should) buy a FireWire add-on card, which will add this capability to your system; these cards generally cost $15 to 30 and are fairly easy to install. Its possible to copy video from a digital camcorder to your PC using other connections, such as an analog USB-based dongle, or a dedicated capture card, both of which typically offer analog, RCAstyle connections. But these solutions will be limited in various ways: USB is capable of inputting video at 320 240 resolution maximum, far below even standard VHS quality. And even a dedicated capture card will record video in analog format, resulting in some quality loss. To achieve the highest quality recordings, you really should go with FireWire. That said, many digital camcorders do offer a variety of analog outputs as well, and if nothing else, this is useful for connecting the camcorder to your TV so you can watch raw footage on the big screen. So look for both composite (RCA-style) and S-video outputs in addition to FireWire.

IMAGE STABILIZATION
Even if your grip is as steady as Gibraltar, its a good idea to seek out a camcorder with digital image stabilization. This will compensate for even small camera shakes by proactively recording an area around the main subject area and filling in the details when needed. The end result is a cleaner, stiller image. In my case just call me Mr. Shaky Hands this has been a lifesaver.

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ZOOM CAPABILITIES
As with any consumer electronics product, the typical camcorder maker will try and wow potential customers with a slew of technical-sounding facts and figures. The zoom feature is one such item: 40X! 200X! the ads scream. But what does it all mean? Well, the figure before the times symbol (the X) reflects the number of times the camcorder can magnify its display. But there are actually two figures to worry about here. The smaller figure (40 in my example) refers to the optical zoom, which reflects the physical capabilities of the camera. The higher number (200) refers to the digital zoom, which is a software feature that takes the optical zoom, pixelizes it, and enlarges the individual pixels. The end results are actually pretty impressive, given the limitations of whats really happening, but dont base your buying decision on this feature. In fact, its a good idea to slowly zoom in on a far away subject with both optical and digital zoom, and then compare the resulting videos. You may end up foregoing digital zoom altogether. Regardless, it is the optical zoom that truly determines the capabilities of the camcorder, not the digital zoom.

SPECIAL EFFECTS
These days, many digital camcorders offer a slew of special effects so you can add titles, fades, and some fairly bizarre effects like pixelizations and negatives. Why anyone would want this sort of thing is somewhat beyond me, as anyone who would want to add these features should be using a dedicated video editing software package on a computer. You know, something like Windows Movie Maker, the bundled movie editing package Microsoft includes in Windows XP. The long and the short of it is that you should not purchase a camcorder based on its special effects features. Its better to use the camcorder solely for recording raw video and then add the special effects after youve gotten the video on your PC. Besides, youre going to want to trim the video down, and you cant do that easily with a single camcorder.

REMOTE CONTROL
Many digital (and analog) camcorders come with a remote control because users will need to use the camcorder as a video player when outputting to TV. This is actually a handy feature, but you wont need such a thing when interacting with Movie Maker, as this software contains built-in controls for controlling a digital camcorder. But if you plan to watch a lot of camcorder video directly on the TV, a remote is almost necessary.

STILL CAMERA CAPABILITIES AND MEDIA


I purchased a Canon XR-25 digital video camera in Spring 2001 and was amused to see that it contained a Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot, so that I could use the camcorder as a still camera, and record still images onto the tiny media card. Some cameras offer this capability without an external media, however, allowing you to capture still images right on the video tape. The results are mixed: Compared to 2 MP (and higher) digital cameras, the quality of image youre going to get from a camcorder is pretty poor. So while its a nice thought, I cant recommend using a camcorder in this way unless youre unconcerned about the low quality. I suspect that I will never use the feature in my own camera, based on a day of experimentation. But if you think you would want such a thing, several models exist and more are on the way. On the flip side, movies created on digital still cameras are often quite nice, though the tiny storage cards in such cameras are rarely suitable for decent-length movies. Ah, technology.

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BRANDS
The final choice concerns the brand of camera you will buy. As mentioned previously, Im still using that Canon Mini-DV model, and Ive been happy with the results. But JVC, Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, and other companies offer a variety of Mini-DV and Digital 8 products that are worth looking at. I recommend investigating the current state of the art in Consumer Reports magazine or the CNET shopper.com Web sites, which are updated more frequently. The Web properties in particular seem to be more taken with fairly useless gee-whiz features, but they are more likely to have had recent experience with modern equipment. On a related note, I recommend buying a digital camcorder locally, if possible, rather than on the Web. These devices are expensive and delicate, and its nice to have a local place to turn to for repairs and returns, if necessary. As always, caveat emptor.

Taking Home Movies: The Basics


After you take the camcorder home, its time to charge the battery and start shooting some video. While youre waiting for the batteries (you did buy extras, right?) to get up to speed, take some time to review the manual that came with your camcorder: Unlike PCs and software these days, most of these devices come with a pretty thick book. Read it. Know it. Love it. Now go have some fun with it.

Video Recording Basics


Before committing an important personal event to tape, spend some time getting to know the camera and take at least an hours worth of meaningless video, such as a family day at the park or your child riding a bike (in retrospect, you might later find that such video is far more compelling in the future than the family trip to Disney). Youre going to eat up an entire tape and make a bunch of mistakes. Go ahead; its fun. Besides, you can later edit out the mistakes in Windows Movie Maker and turn 60 minutes of amateur video into a 3-minute tour de force, complete with professional transitions and special effects. Seriously, it can happen. Get a feel for how your camera frames the scene: Does the recorded video seem to encompass the entire area that was seen through the viewfinder during shooting? How does your shaking hand affect the completed video? Do you have image stabilization on? Compare video shot with and without this feature. The idea here is to shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. Move the camera quickly around a scene, then slowly. Learn what looks (and sounds) good and what doesnt.

Avoid Using Built-in Camcorder Features


As discussed previously, many camcorders offer a number of gee-whiz features, like special effects, that you should avoid. Experiment with them to find out why if you must. But remember that all of these features can be implemented through software when you import the raw video onto the computer. Let the camera do what its good at shooting video and leave the editing feature to Windows Movie Maker.

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Zoom and Pan Issues


I discussed optical and digital zoom in the section on camcorder features, but it bears repeating here: Experiment with digital zoom and see whether its something you want or need. If not, dont be afraid to turn it off, remembering that many features are added simply because theyre possible, and not necessarily because you want them (think Office Assistant if youre unclear on this). Likewise, you may find that certain camera movements cause the camera to lose focus and blur the image: Moving the camera quickly from side to side, or panning in AV geek-speak, is such a movement. Play around with the camera to see how fast you can move it without blurring the image and then work to ensure that you never exceed this speed when shooting video.

Go Forth and Shoot Video


I cant hope to provide an in-depth explanation of all of the issues youll encounter while making home movies here, as the topic could (and has) easily filled an entire book in its own right. And of course, Im still learning myself: Unlike point-and-click digital cameras and audio CDs, its unlikely that many people have had experience with digital video at this stage. But its a learning process, and a fun learning process at that, so when all else fails, just have fun with it. But be mindful of the technology and spend time with your camera. For many people, the computer offers a chance at digitally and permanently archiving their memories, a powerful and responsible goal. At the very least, ensure that you are doing so at the highest possible quality, with the best tools that are available. In the next chapter, you look at one of those tools, a freebie that comes in Windows XP called Windows Movie Maker. Experience with Windows Movie Maker will teach you whether you want to take this hobby to the next level and work with digital video in a more professional manner. And I dont think we can ask more of an integrated OS technology than that, now can we?

Summary
In this chapter, you examined what you can do, ahead of time, to ensure that your videos are as high quality as is possible. The choice of which camcorder you use can affect the final quality of your video. In Chapter 13, you look at Windows Movie Maker, the tool in Windows XP that makes it easy to compose, edit, and produce digital movies. You also look more closely at the final editing steps to produce your home movie masterpiece.

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Chapter 13

Acquiring Digital and Analog Video

nlike a certain fruit-oriented computer which will not be named, PCs based on Windows XP have no problem working with both analog and digital video. Thats because Microsoft didnt cripple XP and, more specifically, Windows Movie Maker (WMM), by making it work only with digital video (DV) sources like digital camcorders. Why is this important? While many families will likely purchase DV camcorders on which to save their most important memories, many people still have a wide range of content available on analog video sources. These sources include such things as VHS tapes perhaps with ancient episodes of Mystery Science Theater and The Simpsons recorded on them as well as other video sources, like 8mm camcorder tapes and the like. All of this content is just sitting there on easily harmed tape formats, waiting for the hardware that plays them back to stop working. To help prevent this unplanned obsolescence, you can copy the content stored on those tapes to your computer and archive them digitally. Then, you can enjoy them in the future, even if that VHS deck gives up the ghost. For those of you interested in preserving home movies stored on DV camcorders, Windows XP is equally up to the task. So in this chapter, you examine how you record digital and analog video content to your PC using tools built into Windows XP. Then, in the next chapter, Ill show you how you can take that raw content and convert it into a finished home movie you can be proud of. But first, lets get busy acquiring raw video content.

Acquiring Digital Video from a Camcorder


Digital video sources offer the simplest and most efficient way to acquire video content. To make such a connection, youll need a digital video source, of course, such as a DV camcorder, a FireWire (IEEE-1394) port on your PC, and a FireWire cable to connect the two. If you purchased a DV camcorder, chances are good that you have the FireWire cable. But many PCs these days still dont ship with FireWire ports for some reason, so you might need to get a FireWire add-on card. And adding to the confusion, there are two different types of FireWire ports available. Most camcorders use a small, unpowered 4-pin FireWire port. These types of ports are also used on some PC laptops. But on most desktop PCs, youll see more typically a larger, powered 6-pin FireWire port.

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For this reason, to connect a DV camcorder to your PC, youll typically need a 4-pin-to-6-pin FireWire cable. Such a cable features a small 4-pin plug on one side for the camcorder and a larger 6-pin plug for the PC on the other. As always, check with your hardwares documentation to be sure youre using the right cabling. When youre sure you have the right hardware, you can make the physical connection between the DV camcorder and your PC. You will also need to ensure that your camcorder is separately connected to a power source, since the 4-pin FireWire port most camcorders use wont supply the device with power, and you dont want to run out of juice in the middle of copying a home movie to your PC. Now, youre ready to acquire some video. Turn on the DV camcorder and switch it into Play mode if necessary (many cameras support both Camera and Play mode). Typically, this will trigger an Auto Play dialog box in Windows XP similar to the one shown in Figure 13-1. From here, you can choose to Capture Video with WMM.

Figure 13-1: When you power up a connected DV camcorder to a Windows XP PC, you should see this dialog box appear.

If you dont see this dialog box, you can manually launch WMM and initiate the Video Capture Wizard. To do so, navigate to Start, All Programs in the Start Menu, and launch Windows Movie Maker. Then select File and the Capture Video from the Movie Maker menu.

Note
Make sure you have the latest version of WMM, which is version 2.1 at the time of this writing. Microsoft makes Movie Maker updates available from Windows Update, but you can also download the latest version manually from the Microsoft Web site: www.microsoft.com/moviemaker/.

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Either way, you should see the Video Capture Wizard (shown in Figure 13-2), which lists your available video and audio capture devices. Select your DV camcorder and click Next. In the next stage of the wizard, WMM will prompt you to select a name and location for your raw video. Typically, you should provide a descriptive name. The default location for saved video is, of course, the My Videos folder under My Documents.

Figure 13-2: Here, you select your capture device from the available list.

In this next, arguably most crucial, phase of the wizard, you will need to pick the video quality settings. There are three main choices, as shown in Figure 13-3: You can allow WMM to pick a quality level, based on the performance characteristics of your PC; you can save your video in uncompressed DV-AVI format; or you can choose from a list of predefined settings, which run the gamut from lowbandwidth video designed for Pocket PCs and other small devices all the way up to full-screen uncompressed video. Generally speaking, my advice is to always record raw video of your home movies in the best quality possible. Thats because youre typically going to edit that video later (as described in Chapter 14) and then save the finished results in one or more formats. If you use the highest possible quality source material to start with, your video productions wont lose much quality through the editing and saving process youll later pursue. Given that information, DV-AVI is the best-quality format that WMM supports, and this is indeed what I recommend for most raw home movies, assuming you have the disk space: DV-AVI takes up 178 MB of space for every 1 minute of video. That can add up quick. If you simply dont have the disk space, you should generally choose the highest-quality compressed format that WMM offers.

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All of the nonDV-AVI formats used by WMM are based on the Windows Media Video (WMV) version 9 video format, which is quite nice. And the highest-quality WMV setting, identified as Video for local playback (2.1 Mbps NTSC) in the Other settings choice of this phase of the wizard, is also quite nice. This video format supports 720 480 resolution at 30 frames per second (fps). Best of all, video recorded in this format only occupies 14 MB of space per minute, much less than DV-AVI.

Figure 13-3: Choices, choices, choices. WMM provides a wealth of possible video quality settings from which to choose.

If you believe that you will never want to use this raw video for use in a DVD movie or other highquality video source, feel free to try one of the lower-quality settings. But I really dont recommend it for home movies. Even a low-resolution analog TV set can display 525 lines of resolution. But modern digital and HDTV sets can display at much higher resolutions up to a whopping 1920 1200. Dont burn your future by being frugal with disk space now. For purposes of this example, youre going to stick with DV-AVI. In the next phase of the wizard, youre given a choice between capturing the entire length of video that is contained on the tape in the camcorder, or to capture parts of the tape manually. The first choice is highly automated, thanks to WMMs ability to remotely control a DV camcorder. If you choose this option, WMM will actually rewind the tape and record the whole thing, which can be quite handy. If you choose the second option, you are presented with the screen shown in Figure 13-4. This handy front-end to your camcorder enables you to start and stop the video capture, use a set of DV camera controls to control the camcorder remotely, and set other options. To record content manually from your DV camcorder use either the virtual controls in the wizard or the physical controls on your camcorder to navigate to the scene youd like to record. The video will display in the preview window in the wizard, as shown in Figure 13-5, allowing you to keep your attention on the PC screen, and you wont have to worry about the camcorder. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Figure 13-4: WMM provides cool video capture functionality that integrates with the controls of your DV camcorder.

Figure 13-5: You can completely control the DV camcorder during recording using the onscreen controls.

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When you find the section of video youd like to record, pause the tape. Now, youre just about ready to start, but you need to think about a few options first. In the lower left of the wizard, there are three options youll want to consider: Create clips when the wizard finishes When you select this option, WMM will divide your raw video into a series of sections, or clips, which may make it more easy to edit later. The beginnings and endings of clips are determined in one of two ways, depending on which type of video source you use. With a DV camcorder, WMM can actually read the time markings that were made when you recorded the video. So it will precisely divide the video into clips that correspond to the moments you started, paused, and stopped recording. This is incredibly handy. On the other hand, clip creation is time consuming. And if you dont want to make clips now, you can always do it later by re-importing the raw video into WMM (described in Chapter 14). Mute speakers By default, video being recorded through WMM will play back the audio portion of the recording through your PCs speakers. If you dont want that to happen, select this option. Note, however, that your DV camcorder may still play back the audio as it copies, so if youre looking for total silence, make sure you mute the camera as well (and dont worry, the audio will still copy to the PC recording in such a case). Capture time limit If youre sure of the length of the video youd like to record and want to step away from the computer while its recording, you can optionally configure WMM to record only a certain amount of video. By default, WMM will record until you stop it or the DV tape ends. With these options configured (or at least considered), youre now ready to start recording raw video. Click the Start Capture button, and then click the Play button in the DV camera controls section under the video preview window. As the video plays, WMM will record it, counting down both the length and size of the capture video. If you want to pause the video capture at any time, click the Pause button or the Stop Capture button. You can keep adding to the captured video as well, by repeating the process. When youre done recording, click Finish. The video file will be imported into WMM and, if you chose to do so, clips will be created. When its done, WMM will create a new collection with the same name as the file you saved (see Chapter 14 for more information about collections) and the clips from the video will be displayed in the middle Contents pane (see Figure 13-6).

Cross-Reference
At this point, you can elect to capture more video or move on to editing, which is examined in Chapter 14.

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Figure 13-6: Clips are displayed in the Contents pane for later editing.

Acquiring Analog Video


Analog video is a little trickier than digital video because youll need a special analog-to-digital video adapter to connect such a video source to your PC and because youll also need additional cables to make it work correctly. The adapter will typically come in one of two forms, an internal card that is installed inside your PC, or a USB-type device that connects externally. If I can continue generalizing, internal devices will perform better but are typically more expensive and more difficult to install than USB-based devices. And if you do go the USB route, make sure you get a converter thats based on USB 2.0, and not the older USB 1.x standard. Figure 13-7 depicts a typical USB-based analog-todigital video adapter.

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Figure 13-7: Belkins Hi-Speed USB 2.0 DVD Creator is a typical external analog-to-digital video adapter, which utilizes a USB 2.0 connection.

As for the wiring, a number of things need to happen. On one side of the adapter will be the connection for your PC. On an external device, this will typically be a USB 2.0 plug, and it will need to connect to a USB port on your PC (and not a USB port on an external USB hub, which shares bandwidth). For an internal device, the connection will occur through a PCI or PCI Express slot on your motherboard. On the receiving end of the adapter, you will typically see a number of ports, including left and right composite audio (for the standard white and red RCA-style plugs), and one or more video ports, which can include composite video (the yellow RCA-style plug) and S-Video, which offers higher quality. (On some external devices, the audio is separate from the video.) To connect such an adapter to your video source, youll need to string the appropriate wires between that device and the adapter. For example, lets say you want to record video from a VHS tape deck. You could connect RCA-style plugs to the audio and video ports on the tape deck and then connect the other ends of the cables to the digital-to-analog converter. To record analog video with Windows XP, launch WMM and choose Capture Video from the File menu to display the Video Capture Wizard (see Figure 13-8).

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Figure 13-8: The Video Capture Wizard enables you to capture video and audio from analog and digital sources.

Select the analog video capture device from the Available devices list. Analog capture devices also include a separate user interface for configuring the audio and video sources. Right in the main window of the wizard, you can configure the input level of the sound and which audio device to use. To test that this is working properly, youll need to start up the video youre going to import and analyze the audio signal for a bit: This will ensure that youre recording from the right audio channel (usually line-in or USB) and at the right volume. You can adjust the audio Input Level slider as needed to achieve the desired effect. To control the video settings, click the Configure button, and the Configure Video Capture Device dialog will display, as shown in Figure 13-9. Typically, theres only one setting youll need to worry about here, and thats the second one, Video Settings. When you click this button, a second window will open, allowing you to configure various aspects of the video display. At the bottom of the window is an option, Output Size, which lets you determine the resolution of the video to import. The default setting, 320 240, is not generally acceptable for home videos you might later want to burn to a DVD. So you may want to experiment with 640 480 or 720 480, either of which would be much preferable, but may strain the bandwidth capabilities of your device if its USB-based.

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Figure 13-9: The Configure Video Capture Device window lets you manage the various color settings, video inputs, and resolution of the video youll be importing.

When youre done configuring the audio and video settings, click Next. In the second stage of the wizard, WMM will prompt you to select a name and location for your raw video. Typically, you should provide a descriptive name. The default location for saved video is, of course, the My Videos folder under My Documents. In the next phase of the wizard, you will pick video quality settings. There are two main choices, as shown in Figure 13-10: You can allow WMM to pick a quality level, based on the performance characteristics of your PC, or you can choose from a list of predefined settings, which run the gamut from low-bandwidth video designed for Pocket PCs and other small devices all the way up to fullscreen uncompressed video. A third option, which lets save your video in uncompressed DV-AVI format, is grayed out and unavailable because that option works only with digital capture devices, as described in the previous section.

Figure 13-10: Analog video sources cant be saved as DV-AVI.

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Generally speaking, DV-AVI is best, but since thats not an option for an analog source, you should leave it on the default setting, which is Best quality for playback on my computer, typically 2.1 Mbps WMV at 640 480. If you selected a lower video resolution level earlier, however, you would have to try and match the resolution at which youre recording to the resolution the device is transmitting. So choose a video setting from the Other Settings choice instead. In the next phase of the wizard, Capture Video, youll actually perform most of the work. Unlike with a digital source, you wont have any automated remote controls. Instead, you will have to start and stop video playback manually from the source device, and then use the Start Capture and Stop Capture buttons in the wizard to control recording. As with digital recording, there are three choices in the lower left corner of the wizard; refer to the previous section for details. To begin recording, click the Start Capture button, and then click the Play button on the source video hardware (a VHS tape deck or whatever). As the video plays, WMM will record it, counting down both the length and size of the capture video. If you want to pause the video capture at any time, click the Stop Capture button. You can keep adding to the captured video as well, by repeating the process. After youre done recording, click Finish. The video file will be imported into WMM and, if you chose to do so, clips will be created. When its done, WMM will create a new collection with the same name as the file you saved (see Chapter 14 for more information about collections) and the clips from the video will be displayed in the middle Contents pane. Now, youre ready to capture more content, using the preceding steps, or you can edit and share your creation, which is discussed in Chapter 14.

Note
Some analog-to-digital converters enable you to record analog video as if it were digital video. This gives you a few advantages over the steps outlined above: First, you can record analog video in DV-AVI or full-screen WMV video formats, which gives you the best quality. Second, you dont have to deal with audio input levels and other complicated settings. There are numerous devices like this available. I use an ADVC device from Canopus (www.canopus.us/US/products/ADVC-50/pm_advc-50.asp), which works well.

Recording Live TV
If youre lucky enough to own a Media Center PC, you have other options for acquiring video. The most obvious is Media Centers ability to record live television shows. If you havent used a digital video recorder (DVR, sometimes called a personal video recorder, or PVR), the benefits of such a solution will seem revolutionary to you. Rather than be bound by the TV networks rigid schedules, you can simply configure your Media Center PC to record your favorite TV shows every single time theyre on. At my home, my kids, my wife, and I all have a series of shows that record continually. And since theyre stored on the hard drive, we can skip through commercials as well.

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Cross Reference
You look at Media Centers ability to record live television shows more closely in Chapter 16.

Accessing Online Movie Services


With the release in late 2004 of Windows Media Player 10 (WMP10), Windows XP users now have a wide variety of online digital media services from which to purchase and rent content. Most of these services like MSN Music, Napster, and MusicMatch are music services. But some of them, like CinemaNow and MovieLink, offer digital video services through which you can buy or rent movies. And although it wont happen overnight, its pretty clear that the digital delivery of video content through services such as these will one day soon eliminate the market for DVD movies and the Video On Demand (VOD) services that many cable systems now offer. But, as noted above, that wont happen quickly. To take advantage of an online movie service, you must have a broadband Internet connection. Also, you must be satisfied with a limited selection, and, for now, have a willingness to put up with what is generally average quality video. However, the benefits of these services are immense. Digital video such as that offered by online movie services can be played back on a PC or notebook, which sounds limiting until you really think about it. Many PCs, especially Media Center PCs, are connected directly or indirectly to television sets. And notebook computers can travel anywhere in the world. So the next time youre heading cross country, you can simply download a few movies, watch them on the plane, and then delete them when youre done: Theres no DVD to return to the rental store.

Buy, Rent, or Subscribe?


Most online movie services offer a variety of ways in which you can enjoy downloaded content. In most cases, you will simply download a movie for a one-time viewing. After paying for and downloading a movie, the movie file can sit on your hard drive until you start watching it. Once that happens, you will typically have 24 hours or a similar time period in which to complete watching the movie (or watch it several times if youd like). After that, the file remains on your hard drive until you delete it, but youll have to pay for the rental again if you decide to watch it at a later time. Some services also offer digital movie downloads for sale. In such a case, you purchase and download a movie file and its yours to keep: You can view it an indefinite number of times in the future, and at any time. Finally, some services provide a subscription offering. In such a case, you pay a monthly fee and can then access as many movies as youd like from the services collection. In all of these cases, there are Digital Rights Management (DRM) issues to consider: Though you wont typically need to log on to the service every time you access a movie (which would be impossible or expensive when flying cross country, for example), you will still need to ensure that youve logged on to the appropriate service at some point on any machine from which youd like to access that content.

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Understanding Your Sharing Options


Indeed, the DRM issue also raises some other questions. What about playing back purchased, rented, or subscribed video content on other devices? Thanks to Microsofts DRM implementation, this process is actually easier than you may think. First, users of Media Center PCs can enjoy video content from online movie services on a large screen TV or other display anywhere in the home (see Chapter 16). So can users of Media Center Extenders (see Chapter 17). And if you decide to get a Portable Media Center (see Chapter 18), or notebook computer, you can also access this content on the go.

Downloading a Movie Rental from an Online Movie Service


To demonstrate how this process works, Ill be using the CinemaNow service to download and play a rented movie. But there are other movie services available as well. To find out which are available at any time, start WMP10, click the Online Stores button, and select Browse all Online Stores. WMP10 will present you with a list of the available choices. OK, lets get started. Fire up WMP10, click the Online Stores button, and choose CinemaNow. This triggers the CinemaNow service to load inside of WMP10, as shown in Figure 13-11.

Figure 13-11: CinemaNow is just one of the many online services you can access from within Windows Media Player.

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If you dont already have a CinemaNow account, create one now (its free). Then, log in to the service. Like most online movie services, CinemaNow offers a variety of ways in which to discover content, including genre lists, new movie lists, trailers, and so on. Since the specifics of the CinemaNow experience will likely change by the time you read this, lets focus on the basics. After youve selected a movie that youd like to rent (what CinemaNow calls Pay-Per-View movies), you click the appropriate link (Watch This Movie at the time of this writing) and proceed through the checkout process, where you pay for the rental. I happen to prefer movies where The Rock stars as a tough-as-nails ex-soldier determined to rid his hometown of crime and drugs, but your interests may (mercifully) differ. Dont worry; these services offer everything from kids flicks to adult movies, so you should be able to find something of interest. In any event, after your purchase is approved, you will be prompted to download the movie. Then the CinemaNow Download Manager will provide you with the progress of your download (see Figure 13-12). Interestingly, if you have a fast connection, you can actually start watching the movie while its downloading, generally about 30 seconds after the download begins.

Figure 13-12: The CinemaNow Download Manager controls your movie download and lets you know when you can start watching the movie.

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When youre ready to watch the movie, you can access it through the file system (assuming you remember where you saved it to) or through WMP10. There are a few ways to launch the film from WMP10. First, you can access it through the service from which you rented it. In CinemaNow, you navigate to the My Movies section of the service (in My Account). Or, you can simply visit your Media Library and navigate to All Video, Purchased Videos in the tree view. As shown in Figure 13-13, you will have new entries there for the service you used (CinemaNow in this case) and the movie you rented (the Rock Solid Action hit Walking Tall in this case). When you play the movie, it will play like any other content you may have stored on your PC. But the aforementioned restrictions apply: Once you begin playing a rented movie, you have 24 hours in which to finish watching it. After that, you have to pay the rental fee again.

Figure 13-13: Even though you havent purchased the full movie, the rented version appears in your Media Library like any other digital media content.

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Downloading a Movie Purchase from an Online Movie Service


To purchase a movie from an online movie service, the process is almost identical to that described above. However, depending on the service, you may find that only a limited selection of videos are available for purchase, when compared to the larger selection available for rent. The difference, of course, comes after the purchase: Unlike with rented movies, you can watch purchased movies indefinitely, with no time limit.

Accessing Online Movie Services from Media Center


If you have a Media Center PC, you can also access online movie services like CinemaNow and MovieLink from within the remote-accessible Media Center interface, as shown in Figure 13-14. This is particularly nice because Media Center PCs are designed to work well in a living room or kids bedroom and be used as the primary interface for a TV. With a Media Center PC, you can use an online movie service to rent movies that you can watch on your best display. Its the perfect combination of technology and, well, technology.

Figure 13-14: Media Center presents a TV-friendly interface for accessing online movie services.

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Cross Reference
In Chapter 18, you look at how you can access rented or purchased movies on a Portable Media Center.

Summary
In this chapter you looked at the ways you can acquire and manage digital and analog video. Whether you have an older analog camcorder or one of the newest classes of digital video recorder, you can easily import these into your computer. If you have a Media Center PC, you will also be able to record TV programs directly to your hard drive and access a growing list of downloadable movies from services such as CinemaNow and MovieLink. In Chapter 14 you examine how to use WMM to create home movies on your PC. You also look more closely at saving movies to DVD and the Web, and at sending movies to your friends and family.

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Chapter 14

Creating Home Movies on Your PC

C
Note

hapter 10 examines Windows Movie Maker, the incredible digital media tool that Microsoft includes for free with Windows XP. However, Windows Movie Maker does more than create photo slide shows. Indeed, its a complete home movie editing package, perfect for copying recorded content from analog or digital camcorders, VHS decks, or other sources, editing that source material and adding transitions, titles, and video effects, and then sharing the final product through a variety of means, including local or remote files, tape, or, with the appropriate third-party tools, even DVD. In this chapter, youll explore the most common uses of Windows Movie Maker, and see how this powerful but surprisingly approachable tool can be used to turn your home movies into special digital memories that youll be able to enjoy forever.

As always, make sure youre using the latest version of Windows Movie Maker, which can be obtained for free from the Microsoft Web site (www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/updates/ moviemaker2.mspx). This book assumes that youre using Windows Movie Maker 2.1 (the latest version at the time of this writing) or newer.

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Understanding Windows Movie Maker


Before you start using Windows Movie Maker (WMM), its important to understand how this application works. WMM is a task-based application that offers wizards and other tools to walk you through various movie- and digital media-related tasks. These tasks include, but are not limited to, the following: Copying raw video from digital sources like digital video (DV) camcorders to your computer so you can edit it into a final home movie youre happy to share with others. Copying raw video from analog sources like analog camcorders (VHS, VHS-C, 8mm), video cassette recorders (VCRs), and the like, with the same goal as in the previous point. Importing digital video that is already stored on your PC. Importing digital pictures like photos. Importing audio files such as music files or creating narration on the fly. Organizing your movies into collections that you can edit as single projects. Editing your home movies by trimming both audio and video content and connecting previously disparate clips. Adding transitions between video and audio clips to make them move more smoothly from one scene to the next. Adding video effects to video clips to create interesting changes that often add drama or a professional touch to your movies. Adding titles or credits to your home movies. Saving your edited movies (and audio files) to your computer, CD, or DVD camera, or share with friends via e-mail or the Web. While youre going to focus almost exclusively on WMMs video-oriented prowess in this chapter, its worth noting that the product is also an excellent tool for editing audio files and creating photo slideshows, two tasks covered separately in Chapters 5 and 10, respectively. But the jack-of-alltrades nature of WMM has me wondering why Microsoft didnt call it Windows Media Maker. It just does so much more than edit movies.

Exploring the Windows Movie Maker User Interface


WMM presents a multipaned user interface that lays out its most commonly accessed functionality in a logical fashion (see Figure 14-1). Like most Windows applications, it offers a menu bar and toolbar, and you can discover what the various toolbar buttons do by mousing over them and waiting for a small yellow tooltip to appear that displays the name of the button. For example, the first button on the WMM toolbar, which resembles a blank sheet of paper, is the New Project button.

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Below the menu bar, things start to get interesting. Microsoft has divided the WMM interface into a number of sections, called panes, that each performs a specific role. On the left side of the WMM window is the Movie Tasks pane or the Collections pane, depending on which youve enabled. You can switch between these two panes by clicking the Tasks and Collections toolbar buttons.

Figure 14-1: Windows Movie Maker features a task-based interface that is divided into panes.

The Movie Tasks pane, shown in Figure 14-2, presents a list of tasks related to capturing, editing, and sharing movies, and provides a list of movie making tips as well. The Collections pane provides links to the WMM Video Effects and Video Transitions tasks, as well as a way to access your media collections. Collections are like virtual folders (see Figure 14-3). They contain links, called clips, to video, audio, music, and picture content that are stored on your hard drive. You might create collections for a specific movie project, for example, or create collections that store certain types of files. How you organize your collections is, of course, up to you.

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Figure 14-2: The Movie Tasks pane steps through the various tasks most people would like to accomplish while making home movies.

Figure 14-3: The Collections pane includes collections, virtual folders that store links to on-disk digital media content.

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The distinction between the actual media files stored in your PCs folder hierarchy and the clips (or links to those physical files) stored in the WMM collections is important. As you edit those files in WMM, you will not be changing the underlying files at all. Instead, WMM will keep track of those changes using a project file (which Ill discuss shortly). The Contents pane, found in the center top of the WMM interface and shown in Figure 14-4, displays the clips that are contained in the currently selected collection. It can also be used to display the available video effects or transitions, if youre working with those features. By default, the Contents pane displays information in a thumbnail view. However, if you have lots of clips, you can enable Details view by clicking the Views button on the toolbar (its the right-most toolbar button).

Figure 14-4: The Contents pane displays clips, video effects, and transitions.

The Monitor pane, found in the upper right of the WMM interface, is used to view individual clips or the currently loaded project, the latter of which will be reflected in the Storyboard/Timeline pane as well. The monitor functions like a simple video player. You can resize it to make it larger or smaller, navigate through clips with the Seek Bar or playback controls, take still images with the Take Picture button, or even perform simple editing with the Split Clip button. A small bluish purple button also enables you to view the clip in full screen mode if youd like. (You can press Esc to get out of that mode.) The Monitor pane is shown in Figure 14-5. The Storyboard/Timeline pane will display either the Storyboard or Timeline view, depending on your editing needs. Either way, the pane is used to store the edited version of your home movie, which will be saved in a project file. A WMM project file includes information about any of the edits youve made to source content in the Storyboard/Timeline pane. That way, you can load the project again at some time in the future and pick up where you left off.

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Figure 14-5: The Monitor functions like a simple video player, letting you view your edited movie as you work on it.

The Storyboard, shown in Figure 14-6, is the default view and is simpler in nature than the Timeline view. The Storyboard view enables you to sequence clips in chronological order, and to add transitions and video effects.

Figure 14-6: Storyboard view is easy to use, but limited in functionality.

The Timeline view, shown in Figure 14-7, offers all of the functionality of the Storyboard view, but is more complex because it provides much additional functionality. Here, you can visually arrange video and audio clips, manually add and edit transitions between clips, record and edit narration, add and edit titles, and perform other tasks. The Timeline view offers separate areas, called wells, for the video, audio, titles, and transitions that make up your edited home movie.

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Figure 14-7: The Timeline view offers more complexity than Storyboard view but is also more powerful.

Despite the fact that the Timeline view offers certain features that the Storyboard view does not, you can switch back and forth between the views at any time without losing any information.

Capturing and Managing Video Content


Now that you understand how WMM works in a general way, its time to get some video into the application so you can edit it and share the finished result with others. There are a few typical ways in which you might acquire video footage, though for purposes of this book I assume that youll be working exclusively with home videos you probably took personally using a digital or analog camcorder, or similar video source.

Cross-Reference
You examined some of the issues involved with shooting home videos in Chapter 12, and covered capturing digital and analog video in Chapter 13.

Importing Video
If you have video content stored on your hard drive and would like to use it in WMM, you can import that content at any time by choosing File Import into Collections from the WMM menu. This presents an Import File dialog box that enables you to navigate the Windows file system and find the media files you want (this method works for photos and audio files in addition to movies). When you import video content into WMM, the application will create a new collection with the same name as the video file and break the video up into a number of parts, called clips. WMM will intelligently create the clips, too, trying to match the beginning of each clip to the start of a new scene. However, even if WMM doesnt do a good job of separating each clip, youll be able to reassemble them in the Storyboard/Timeline later.

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If you dont want WMM to split your imported video into clips, you can configure it not to. In the Import File dialog box, clear the option titled Create clips for video files.

Managing Source Content


You manage your source content that is, the raw video, audio, and pictures that will later be combined into your edited home movie with the Collections pane. As I mentioned previously, each time you import video content into WMM, the application creates a new collection. When you import other content types, like music files or digital photos, however, those files are imported into the currently selected collection. If youd like to manage content manually, you can create your own collections and drag and drop clips between them. To create a new blank collection, ensure that the Collections pane is visible and then select Tools New Collection Folder from the WMM menu (alternatively, you can right-click the Collections node in the Collections pane and select New Collection). The new collection is given the imaginative name of New Collection, but you can change that by typing a new name at the time of creation, or by later selecting the collection and pressing F2. When you drag and drop content between collections, those links are moved, and not copied, by default. If youd prefer to copy clips (so that each collection has a copy of the same clip), you can perform a normal copy-and-paste operation. First, select the clips youd like to copy in the originating collection, right-click them, and choose Copy. Then, open the target collection, right-click an empty area of the Contents pane, and choose Paste.

Note
If you choose to delete clips in a collection, note that you are not deleting the original files, but rather just the clips, which are like shortcuts or links to those files.

Now that you understand how to manage source content, its time to get to work and edit some video.

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Editing Video with Windows Movie Maker


Before you get started, press the New Project button on the WMM toolbar. This will clear out any stray changes that might be present in the application and let you start anew. To edit video in WMM, you drag one or more video clips into the Storyboard or Timeline. This is performed using a simple drag-and-drop routine. If you want to work with an entire video youve recently imported or captured, simply select a single clip in the Contents pane, and then type Ctrl+A to select all of the clips. Then drag them into the Storyboard, as shown in Figure 14-8.

Figure 14-8: To begin editing, simply drag and drop some clips into the Storyboard or Timeline.

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When you release the mouse button, the clips are arranged in chronological order in the Storyboard (see Figure 14-9).

Figure 14-9: WMM will retain the correct running order when you drag clips into the Storyboard.

Working with Projects


At this point, you should probably save your project by clicking the Save Project toolbar button and selecting a logical name for the project. By default, WMM projects are saved in the My Videos folder, and they contain information about the clips youve dragged into the Storyboard or Timeline view. Note that these clips can come from multiple collections if you want: There isnt a 1:1 connection between collections (clip containers) and projects (an edited movie that could contain multiple clips).

PREVIEWING YOUR PROJECT


To simply playback the entire contents of your movie project that is, the combination of clips youve placed in the Storyboard or Timeline select Play and then Play Storyboard from the WMM

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menu. As the project plays in the Monitor pane, the Seek Bar moves to match the location of the current clip, but you can also manually move the Seek Bar to jump to a new location, or use the playback controls to perform other navigational changes. You can also select a different clip in the Storyboard while the project is playing, and then the playback will jump to the beginning of that clip and continue playing. To stop the preview, click the Stop or Pause button.

PREVIEWING A SINGLE CLIP


To preview a single clip, select that clip in the Storyboard and then click the Play button in the Monitor. However, when you choose this method, the playback will continue past the end of the current clip and into the next. If you literally just want to play the one clip, find the appropriate clip in the Contents pane and then double-click it.

VIEWING CLIP AND PROJECT PROPERTIES


To view information about a clip, right-click it in the Storyboard (or Contents pane) and select Properties. This will display the clip properties dialog box, shown in Figure 14-10. This dialog box includes information such as the duration of the clip, its start and stop time (beginning and end, respectively), bit rate, and file size.

Figure 14-10: The clip properties dialog box is highly descriptive, with lots of valuable information about the current clip.

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To view information about the project, choose File and then Properties from the WMM menu. This dialog box, shown in Figure 14-11, is a bit less descriptive, and lists only the current duration of the project, the title, and the author (which defaults to your Windows user name).

Figure 14-11: The most important bit of information you can obtain about the project is its current running length.

Working with Video Clips


With the project saved, its time to examine what you can do with video clips when theyre ensconced in the Storyboard or Timeline view. This is the place where actual video editing can occur, so put down those scissors and sit up straight. In this section, youre going to examine the most basic editing you can perform. Consider the typical home movie: 90 percent of it is boring and uninteresting, and its unlikely you (or anyone else) will ever want to watch the entire thing. But if you can just edit it down to the fun and interesting 10 percent thats hiding inside, you might just create a thing of beauty. Lets dive in.

COMBINING VIDEO CLIPS


Sometimes it will be advantageous to combine two adjacent video clips into a single clip. For example, you may want to apply a video effect that will apply to both, or perhaps you made an editing error and want to recombine two mistakenly separated clips. Either way, you can combine clips pretty easily in WMM. To do so, Ctrl-click two (or more) adjacent clips in the Storyboard. Then select Clip and then Combine from the WMM menu to turn two or more separate clips into a single clip, as shown in Figure 14-12. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Figure 14-12: Any two adjacent video clips can be combined into a single clip.

When you perform this action, the first of the clips takes on the content and length of both clips combined. To reverse the effect, select Edit and then Undo Combine from the WMM menu.

SPLITTING VIDEO CLIPS


Conversely, you may want to split a single video clip into two separate clips. There are two ways to accomplish this. In Storyboard view, navigate to the place in the video where youd like to split the current clip. Then click the Split Clip button in the Monitor, as shown in Figure 14-13.

Figure 14-13: You can split clips directly from the Monitor pane.

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You can also split clips in Timeline view. To do so, click the Show Timeline button in the Storyboard/Timeline pane to display the Timeline view. Then, navigate to the appropriate location in the project. Note that when youre in Timeline view, you can manually position the trim handle, a blue vertical bar representing the current position of the project, with the mouse (see Figure 14-14). You can also zoom in and out with the Zoom Timeline In and Zoom Timeline Out buttons in order to be more precise.

Figure 14-14: The trim handle determines where the current clip will be split or trimmed.

When youve found the exact place that youd like to split the current clip in two, select Split from the Clip menu. In the timeline, you can see that the clip has been split (see Figure 14-15).

Figure 14-15: One clip becomes two.

To reverse a split, select Edit Undo Split.

TRIMMING VIDEO CLIPS


Using the previously described combine and split functions, you can edit videos down to their important parts and create a watchable final product. But oftentimes what you really need to do is cut a portion of video out of the beginning or end of a clip. So WMM includes a video-trimming feature that makes this process much simpler.

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To trim the beginning of a video clip, position the trim handle at the end of the unwanted portion in Timeline view. Then, select Set Start Trim Point from the Clip menu. When you do this, all of the video in the current clip before the trim handle is deleted. To trim the end of a video clip, position the trim handle at the beginning of the unwanted portion of video and select Set End Trim Point. Then select Set End Trim Point from the Clip menu, and all of the video in the current clip after the trim handle is deleted. You can also trim video from the end of a clip by dragging the end of the clip to the left in the Timeline view. To do this, position the mouse point over the end of any clip, and youll see it change into a red double-arrow cursor (see Figure 14-16).

Figure 14-16: You can resize clips visually in the Timeline view.

Now, select the end of the current clip and drag left, as shown in Figure 14-17. When youve located the place in the clip where youd like to trim, release the mouse button and the trim is completed.

Figure 14-17: As you move the cursor to the left, the current clip is trimmed down from the back.

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Adding Transitions to Your Home Movies


Now that youve whittled your home movie down to something approaching reasonable, you might have noticed that some of the edits between your clips are a little jarring. When you trim or split clips, oftentimes the changeover between those clips is less than seamless from a video standpoint. To help make those jumps less jarring, WMM supports a wide range of transitions, which ease the movement of video from one clip to the next. Now, lets be clear here. As I note in Chapter 10, transitions can easily be abused. If you use too many different transition types too often in WMM, the resulting transition-heavy movie will be painful to watch. In my experience, Ive found that a simple cross-fade between clips is usually the right way to go. But that said, WMM ships with dozens of cool transitions, so youre going to want to experiment.

PICKING A TRANSITION
To work with transitions, ensure that the current project is in Storyboard view. Then select View video transitions from the Edit Movie section of the Movie Tasks pane. This displays Video Transitions in the Contents pane as shown in Figure 14-18.

Figure 14-18: Windows Movie Maker offers a number of transitions from which to choose.

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While the transition icons in the Contents pane visually hint at how each transition will work, you can preview transitions in the Monitor pane by double-clicking them. When you do so, a preview movie transitions from one clip to the next using the selected transition, as shown in Figure 14-19.

Figure 14-19: Each transition can be previewed in the Monitor.

ADDING A TRANSITION
To insert a transition between two clips in the current project, find the transition you want and then drag it down to the appropriate transition cell, which is the small box between each clip in Storyboard view, as shown in Figure 14-20. When the transition is applied, a small graphic will appear in the transition cell as a visual aid. If you switch temporarily to Timeline view, you can see how the transition looks there (see Figure 14-21). Note that you will have to expand the Video well to see the Transition well.

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Figure 14-20: You can add transitions in Storyboard view by dragging them to the transition cell between two clips.

Figure 14-21: Transitions appear in their own well in the Timeline view.

ADDING A TRANSITION IN TIMELINE VIEW


Naturally, you can also add transitions while in Timeline view. To do so, drag the desired transition down to the timeline and position the cursor between two clips. As shown in Figure 14-22, the cursor changes to a vertical navy blue bar when you can drop the transition. Release the mouse button when youre ready to apply the transition.

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Figure 14-22: To add a transition in Timeline view, simply drag it between two video clips.

PREVIEWING A TRANSITION
To preview the transition youve applied, make sure youre in Timeline view. Then, navigate to a spot just before a transition using the trim handle and press Play in the monitor. If the transition supplies the desired effect, youre good to go and can move on to the next task. Otherwise, you can simply apply a different transition using either of the techniques described previously. Since you can have only one transition between clips, the new transition will replace the previous one.

DELETING A TRANSITION
To delete a transition, right-click it in either the Storyboard or Timeline view and choose Delete. In my opinion, this is easier to accomplish in Storyboard view. When youre happy with the transitions youve added to your movie, be sure to save your project. This will retain any previously created transitions.

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On the Web
Microsoft makes a number of free WMM transitions available in various Fun Packs and in its Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP, which is available for order online for just $19.95. For more information, visit www.microsoft.com/windows/plus/dme/dmehome.asp.

Adding Special Effects to Your Home Movies


In addition to the many transition types available in Windows Movie Maker, you can also choose between dozens of video effects that can be applied to individual movie clips. These clips are hard to categorize, but the effects listed in the following table are available in various Windows XP versions.

Effect
Blur Brightness, Decrease Brightness, Increase Ease In Ease Out Fade In, From Black Fade In, From White Fade Out, to Black Fade Out, to White Film Age, Old Film Age, Older Film Age, Oldest Film Grain Grayscale Hue, Cycles Entire Color Spectrum Mirror, Horizontal Mirror, Vertical

What it does
Makes the current clip appear blurry. Decreases the brightness of the current clip. Increases the brightness of the current clip. Gently zooms into the center of the current clip (works best for pictures). Gently zooms away from the center of the current clip (works best for pictures). Fades from solid black into the beginning of the current clip. Fades from solid white into the beginning of the current clip. Fades from the current clip into solid black. Fades from the current clip into solid white. Applies a film aging effect to the current clip. Applies a more severe film aging effect to the current clip. Applies an even more severe film aging effect to the current clip. Applies a film grain effect to the current clip. Transforms the current clip to black and white. Applies a strange cyclic color effect to the current clip that moves from blue to green to yellow to red to purple. Reverses the display of the current clip horizontally. Reverses the displays of the current clip vertically (flips it upside down).

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Effect
Pan, Upper Left to Upper Right Pan, Upper Right to Upper Left Pixelate Posterize Rotate 90 Rotate 180 Rotate 270 Sepia Tone Slow Down, Half Smudge Stick Speed Up, Double Threshold Watercolor Zoom In, to Lower Left Zoom In, to Lower Right Zoom In, to Upper Left Zoom In, to Upper Right Zoom Out, from Lower Left Zoom Out, from Lower Right Zoom Out, from Upper Left Zoom Out, from Upper Right Zoom, Focus Lower Left Zoom, Focus Lower Right Zoom, Focus Upper Left Zoom, Focus Upper Right

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What it does
Pans from the upper left to the upper right of a still image (for pictures only). Pans from the upper right to the upper left of a still image (for pictures only). Gradually pixelates the current clip. Adds a posterize effect to the current clip. Rotates the current clip 90 degrees to the left (sideways). Rotates the current clip 180 degrees to the left (upside down). Rotates the current clip 270 degrees to the left (sideways). Applies a sepia tone colorization to the current clip. Slows down the playback speed of the current clip to half the original speed. Applies an artistic smudge stick effect to the current clip. Speeds up the playback speed of the current clip to twice the normal speed. Applies a threshold effect to the current clip. Applies an artistic watercolor effect to the current clip. Zooms into the lower left of the current clip (for pictures only). Zooms into the lower right of the current clip (for pictures only). Zooms into the upper left of the current clip (for pictures only). Zooms into the upper right of the current clip (for pictures only). Zooms out from the lower left of the current clip (for pictures only). Zooms out from the lower right of the current clip (for pictures only). Zooms out from the upper left of the current clip (for pictures only). Zooms out from the upper right of the current clip (for pictures only). Focuses in on the lower left of the current clip. Focuses in on the lower right of the current clip. Focuses in on the upper left of the current clip. Focuses in on the upper right of the current clip.

Unlike transitions, you can apply more than one effect to a single clip. So if youd like to zoom into the upper right of a clip, and apply sepia tone and smudge tone effects, you can do so.

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PICKING AN EFFECT
To work with video effects, its generally easier to work in Storyboard view. Then select View video effects from the Edit Movie section of the Movie Tasks pane. This will display Video Effects in the Contents pane (see Figure 14-23).

Figure 14-23: Windows Movie Maker offers a wide range of video effects you can apply to your movies.

To preview any effect, simply double-click it. The effect will display in the Monitor.

ADDING AN EFFECT TO A CLIP


To add an effect to a video clip in the current project, select the effect from the list of video effects and then drag it down to the correct clip in the Storyboard. When you do so, the small box with a star that sits in the corner of the clip turns blue to indicate that youve added an effect. To discover which effect has been added to a particular clip, simply mouse over it, and a small yellow tooltip window will appear.

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ADDING MULTIPLE EFFECTS TO A CLIP AND MANAGING AND DELETING EFFECTS


Unlike with transitions, you can add more than one effect to any clip. To do so, simply drag more effects onto any clip. For example, you could drag the Sepia Tone, Blur, and Brightness, Increase effects to a clip to combine them. When you add two or more effects to a clip, multiple blue stars appear in the small box in the lower left of the clip in Storyboard view. Since you can add multiple effects to any clip, its possible that you may inadvertently add the wrong one or later decide that you want to remove only certain effects from a single clip. To perform these tasks, you can access a unique feature of Windows Movie Maker called Add or Remove Video Effects. To do so, right-click the blue star box in the lower left of any clip and choose Video Effects. The Add or Remove Video Effects window appears (see Figure 14-24). Here, you can add effects, remove previously applied clips, or change the precedence of effects used in the current clip. If youd like to delete quickly all of the effects youve applied to a single clip, right-click its blue star box and select Delete Effects. You can also use the Cut, Copy, and Paste options to apply effects from one clip to another.

Figure 14-24: Windows Movie Maker offers a wide range of video effects you can apply to your movies.

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On the Web
Microsoft makes a number of WMM effects available in various free downloadable Fun Packs and in its Plus! Digital Media Edition for Windows XP, which is available for order online for just $19.95. For more information, visit www.microsoft.com/windows/plus/dme/dmehome.asp.

Adding Titles and Credits to Your Home Movies


Like movies you see on the big screen, the home movies you edit with WMM can often be enhanced by the proper addition of text titles, credits, and captions. You probably wont be surprised to discover that WMM offers a wide range of options for adding these text enhancements to your movies. In WMM parlance, these text enhancements are called titles and credits. Titles are any text titles that appear anywhere in your movie. For example, you might decide to give your entire movie a title, but you might also decide to include titles elsewhere in the movie, such as after a scene change. Think of the way Hollywood movies do this: Oftentimes, the scene will change to a different part of the world, and a short title like Paris, France or Washington D.C. will appear to let you know whats going on. This type of heads-up is often fun to add to home movies. You can also use titles to identify people in the move. If your son appears for the first time, you might add a title labeled Mark, age 6 or whatever. The second text enhancement, credits, is different because it almost always appears at the end of your movie and is typically presented as a scrolling or revolving list of the names of the people that appeared in or created the movie. Frankly, credits are to create fun once or twice, but the reality is that most people probably wont want complicated or overly long credits in their home movies. Remember, the focus should be on the event itself, trimmed down to only those parts that are very interesting. Adding a long credits list to the end of such a movie can be fun, but ultimately distracting to viewers. If you must use credits, keep them short and sweet. Regardless of which type of text enhancement youd like to add, you begin the same way. In the Finish Movie section of the Movie Tasks list, select Make titles or credits. This displays a special titles and credits page called, Where do you want to add a title? (see Figure 14-25). While you can add titles in both Timeline and Storyboard mode, I think it makes sense to work in Timeline mode. Thats because you might often want to position titles precisely, and that is only possible in Timeline mode. In the next few sections, youll examine the ways in which you can add titles and credits to your home movies.

ADDING A TITLE FOR THE WHOLE MOVIE


To add a main title to your production, one that will introduce the movie and appear near its beginning, select the option titled Add title at the beginning of the movie (or, you can select the first clip in the timeline and choose Add title before the selected clip in the timeline). When you do this, the screen changes to resemble Figure 14-26. Here, you can add both a main and secondary title.

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Figure 14-25: From this page, you can add both titles and credits to your home movie.

Figure 14-26: In this screen, you can enter text for your title and set title options.

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As you enter text in either of the two title text boxes, the title will preview in the Monitor pane, as shown in Figure 14-27. Note that the text you enter in the top box is considered the main title and will typically appear in a larger font than the text you enter in the bottom box, which is considered the secondary title.

Figure 14-27: WMM enables you to preview your title before committing it to the movie.

By default, WMM uses a fade-in and -out effect when displaying a title, but you can change that animation and choose from a list of many others. Youll examine those choices later in the section Choosing a Title or Credits Animation. You can also change many font-related other options used in your title by selecting the option titled Change the text font and color. Youll look at those options in the section titled Choosing Font-related Title Options in just a bit.

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When youre done editing the title text, choose Done, add title to movie, and the title youve selected will be added to the beginning of your movie, as shown in Figure 14-28.

Figure 14-28: Your new title occupies three seconds of space at the beginning of the movie.

Note that when you add a title to the beginning of the movie in this fashion that the title is not added over the beginning of the movie, but rather a blank screen with text is added before the first frame of the movie. This may or may not be what you want. If youd rather add title text over your movie, you can do so that eventuality is covered in the next section. Or, you can choose to change the length of the title by resizing it within the timeline.

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ADDING A TITLE OR CAPTION ANYWHERE IN THE MOVIE


To add a title (or as I think of it, a caption) overlaid on top of the video in your movie at any point in your movie choose the option titled Add title on the selected clip in the timeline. This time, the Monitor window changes to show an image display, so you can see what the title will look like superimposed over graphics. As in the previous section, you enter main and secondary titles in the text boxes, and WMM previews your title in the Monitor section, as shown in Figure 14-29.

Figure 14-29: Now, your titles are superimposed over a sample graphic to approximate how it will look over video.

And, as with the instructions in the previous section, you can change the animation used to display the title, and configure numerous font display options. But when you select the option titled Done, add title to the movie, there are some differences when compared to the previous method. First, instead of adding the title as a new clip in the Video well of the timeline, the title is instead added as a new element in the Title Overlay well, as shown in Figure 14-30. This change has a few ramifications. The first is that you can now position the title anywhere youd like in the timeline, by moving it left and right and previewing the change in the Monitor pane. Now, the title text is displayed as an overlay on top of your video, which makes for some pretty professional-looking results.

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Figure 14-30: In this example, the title is added as a discrete overlay that can be moved to any point in the timeline.

ADDING CREDITS TO THE END OF THE MOVIE


To add credits to the end of your movie, select Add credits at the end of the movie. (What did you think it was going to read?) Now, the text entry boxes are quite different from what youre used to in the previous title pages, as shown in Figure 14-31. Here, you can add a top caption, and then enter text names, typically in a one- or two-column layout, similar to what you see at the end of a Hollywood movie. To see what I mean, start entering text into the text boxes and see how the preview changes.

Figure 14-31: WMM lets you preview your title before committing it to the movie.

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Most credits will be added after your movie completes, but depending on which title animation you choose, you can also overlay the credits next to, or above, the final frame of video. Youll look at the various title and credit animations in the next section.

CHOOSING A TITLE OR CREDITS ANIMATION


While editing the text of a title or credit, you can also change the animation used to display that text by choosing Change the title animation. When you do so, youre presented with a list of 34 titles and 9 credits. Most of these titles are standalone titles that will display over an opaque colored screen, so theyll need to be added before or after the movie, or between clips. But some of the titles include the text (overlay): These types of titles can optionally be superimposed, or overlaid, over video, which is often more professional looking than the other title types. To overlay one of these titles, simply drag it from the Video well in the timeline down to the Title Overlay well, and then position it where you want it. In Figure 14-32, you can see a typical overlay title. Note that the titles are divided into three title types, including one-line titles, two-line titles, and credits. My advice is to stick with the overlay titles and experiment with them to find the effect you want.

Figure 14-32: Overlaid titles add a professional touch to your home movies.

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CHOOSING FONT-RELATED TITLE OPTIONS


When you select the Change the font text and color option from the Enter Text for Title screen, you are presented with the user interface shown in Figure 14-33. Here, you can change the font, various font attributes (bold, italic, and underline), the color of the font and the background, the transparency level used to display the font, the font size, and the position (left justified, centered, or right justified).

Figure 14-33: WMM lets you fine-tune the display of the fonts used in your titles and credits.

Adding Narration to Your Home Movies


While this feature doesnt get top billing like video effects, transitions, and titles, WMM also includes a nice feature for adding a narration track to your home movies. This can be handy when you want to describe whats going on in a scene, and a voice-over wont detract from the natural dialog recorded during the current clip. However, depending on the situation, it may make more sense to use titles to communicate this information.

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To add narration to your home movie, click the Narrate Timeline button in the Storyboard/ Timeline pane (it resembles a small microphone); you can use this tool while either the timeline is displayed, so Movie Maker will switch to the Timeline view if youre currently using the Storyboard view. When you do click the button, the WMM window will resemble Figure 14-34.

Figure 14-34: The Narration Timeline feature lets you add a narration track to your movies.

A couple of points about the narration feature should make things clear. First, the narration you record does not replace the audio track thats associated with the video youre narrating; instead, both audio tracks will be played back simultaneously. Second, the narration track will appear separately in the Audio/Music well of the timeline. This means that you can move it around and trim it as necessary, which can be handy. To record narration, position the trim handle where you want it and then press the Start Narration button. The video will start playing, and you can begin speaking. When youre done, click Stop Narration, and then WMM will prompt you to save the resulting audio file, which it will then add to the current project. Also, the narration track you recorded will be added to the Audio/Music well.

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You can repeat this process as often as needed: To record a second bit of narration, simply position the trim handle again and repeat the steps above. When youre done recording narration, click the Done choice in the Narrate Timeline screen. Finally, its worth noting that narration tracks can be modified in familiar ways. You can fade them in and out, for example, and modify their overall volume level, using a now-standard rightclick menu.

Final Product: Putting It All Together


Youve edited your masterpiece, added video effects, transitions, titles and credits, music, and narration, and now its time to share it with the world. Predictably, Windows Movie Maker offers a wide range of options for saving and sharing your movies in ways that can be enjoyed by you and others easily. In this section, you examine those options, which are available from the Finish Movie section of the Movie Tasks pane in WMM. If you dont see Movie Tasks, select View and then Task Pane from the WMM menu.

Saving a Movie to Your Computer


To save your movie as an AVI- or WMV-formatted file on your computer in one of a variety of quality levels, select the option titled Save to my computer. This option launches the Save Movie Wizard, which enables you to name your creation and pick a location to which you can save it (My Videos by default). The second page of the wizard, shown in Figure 14-35, is the important one. Here, by default, WMM will prompt you to save the movie at the best possible WMV-quality level possible on your particular PC. On my PC, thats a 2.1 Mbps WMV file recorded at 720 480 and 30 frames per second (fps), which is basically DVD quality. However, you dont have to accept the WMM default. If you select the Show more choices... link and then select Other settings, you can select one of the following options: Three Video for Pocket PC settings, which are perfect for display on handheld devices like Pocket PCs. Various PC-based video settings that range from 320 240 Web-type videos to 720 480. DV-AVI for the highest-quality possible. This type of video is identical to that which your camcorder captures, but it takes up a lot more hard drive space than the other settings. Video for local playback, which offers the highest quality non-DV-AVI format available from WMM.

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Figure 14-35: WMM offers a plethora of quality choices for saving your movies to disk.

So which setting should you use? Thats going to depend on what youre trying to accomplish, and how you intend to use your final movie. My advice is to stick to the highest-possible quality WMV file for most movies. This is typically going to be the option titled Video for local playback (2.1 Mbps NTSC). You can also save multiple versions of a movie. So if you know youre going to want a version for your PC or Media Center PC, a version for your Pocket PC, and one to display on the Web, you can save all three independently. The process of saving a movie to disk can often take a lot of time, especially if the movie is more than a few minutes long and is using one of the higher quality settings levels. Strictly speaking, youre going to want to spend this time away from the PC: Writing a movie to disk is memory-, CPU-, and disk-intensive, and unless you have the most epically powerful computer on the planet, youll be frustrated trying to perform even simple tasks while this is happening.

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Saving a Movie to CD
If youd like to create a Video CD (VCD) that is viewable on most DVD players, sadly, thats impossible with WMM. VCD compatibility would have been nice: Though VCDs are roughly equivalent to VHS quality (which is to say, not that great), with lots of MPEG-1 artificating, theyre a good option for short movies that youd like to share with friends and family who dont have a PC. But you cant do that in WMM. Instead, WMM lets you create whats called a HighMAT CD, which is a new hybrid data/video CD that provides somewhat usable menus on HighMAT-compatible DVD players. On other DVD players (that is, most DVD players), HighMAT CDs dont work at all. So theyre useless for people who dont have PCs. On PCs, HightMAT CDs offer a few advantages over VCDs, however. First, they can be of any quality level, including the high quality 2.1 Mbps WMV format I mentioned in the previous section. Second, HighMAT CDs play back just fine in Windows Media Player and on Media Center PCs. Third, because theyre stored on CDs, theyre still easy to distribute, assuming of course that the people youre giving them have PCs. To create such a disk, choose the Save to CD option. The Save Movie Wizard appears, allowing you to name the movie file that will be saved to CD, and a name for the CD. By default, the wizard will save this movie with a profile called Best fit for recordable CD, the quality of which varies from movie-to-movie, based on its length: Shorter movies can be saved at higher quality within the space restrictions (typically about 750 MB) of a recordable CD.

Saving a Movie to DVD (Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 only)


If youre lucky enough to be running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 or newer, WMM gives you a unique option unavailable to other XP users: You can save a movie created in WMM to a recordable DVD. And that DVD, unlike the HighMAT CDs mentioned in the previous section, will actually work in virtually any DVD player. When you choose the Save to DVD option in WMM, the Save Movie Wizard appears and converts, or transcodes, the movie to a format (MPEG-2) that is compatible with DVD movies. When thats complete, the Create a DVD window appears, as shown in Figure 14-36. Here, youre given the options to name the DVD, name the video, and set other options. When you click Create DVD, the disk is made. The resulting presentation is not bad. When you insert your WMM-created DVD in a DVD player or PC, youll see a screen resembling Figure 14-37. While this capability is better than nothing, youll note that WMM doesnt provide any sort of DVD menu-editing features, or the ability to write more than one movie to a DVD. To make more sophisticated DVD movies, youll want to invest in a good third-party solution, such as Sonic MyDVD Studio (www.sonic.com/products/mydvd/deluxesuite) or Adobe Premiere Elements (www.adobe.com/products/premiereel/).

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Figure 14-36: XP Media Center Edition 2005 provides rudimentary DVD burning capabilities.

Figure 14-37: DVD movies created in WMM copy the Media Center look and feel.

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Sending a Movie to Others via E-mail


To create a movie that is small enough to send via e-mail (that is, less than 1 MB in size if possible), select the Send in e-mail option. Again, the Save Movie Wizard appears. This time, your movie is saved automatically, using the highest quality WMV format that will fit in less than 1 MB of space. When the save process is complete, your e-mail application will open a new e-mail message window with the movie attached, as shown in Figure 14-38. Now, you can simply fill in the recipients name and fire it off.

Figure 14-38: In a nice bit of automation, your saved movie is automatically pasted into a new e-mail message.

This feature works well enough, but be sure to save a copy of the movie to disk before sending it to make sure the quality is good enough (the wizard gives you this option). Typically, only the shortest movies are going to translate well to a size that can be sent via e-mail.

Saving a Movie to the Web


If you know that youd like to save one or more copies of the movie in a Web-friendly format (typically, lower bit-rates and smaller video sizes), WMM offers a save-to-Web feature that seems like itd fit the bill. Theres just one problem: WMM is set up to work with only a limited number of Web site hosting companies, and if yours isnt in the list, you wont be able to use this feature to save your creations to the Web automatically. Fear not: You can still save your movies in the necessary formats and then upload them to your Web site using whatever tool you normally use (perhaps FrontPage or an FTP application of some sort). TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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The key is to understand which formats to use. Because so many people still access the Internet with low-bandwidth accounts, it makes sense to offer one or more copies of the movie online, so that people can choose between low-bandwidth and high-bandwidth versions. On the Web, a low-bandwidth movie is best represented by the WMM profile Video for ISDN (48 Kbps), which offers a small 160 120 movie at 15 fps. For high-bandwidth, you might choose Video for broadband (320 Kbps), which offers 320240 resolution at 30 fps. These choices are both available from the Save to my computer option under the Finish Movie section in the Movie Tasks list.

Sending a Movie to a DV Camcorder


If youd like to archive your completed movies to DV tape, WMM supports that as well. Simply choose the Send to DV Camera option. This time, the Save Movie Wizard opens and enables you to select one of the available DV cameras attached to your system (you do have more than one, right?). Then, the wizard prompts you to cue up the tape in the camera, as shown in Figure 14-39. If its a blank tape, that simply means you can leave it as-is, but if theres content on the tape, youll want to fast forward to a blank portion of the tape.

Figure 14-39: WMM now supports archiving to DV camcorder tape.

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When youre ready to begin recording, click Next, and the tape archive begins recording. Note that content written to DV tape is written in native DV-AVI format as a normal movie. That is, its written to tape in the same way as any video is recorded. So you can import that movie later with WMM or any other tool, or view it on a monitor or TV. Because of this, the recording will take exactly as long as your movie takes to playback. If its a 14-minute video, it will take 14 minutes to record it to tape.

Summary
In this chapter, you looked at the ways in which you can create home movies using Windows Movie Maker. By adding special effects such as transitions, credits, and titles, you can put the professional finishing touches on your creation. In Chapter 15 you learn how to create DVDs using the built-in support provided by Windows XP Media Center 2005. You also look more closely at some of the third-party DVD burning programs that have more features for mastering DVDs.

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Chapter 15

Burn It: Creating Your Own DVDs


hen Windows XP first shipped in 2001, the operating system included the ability to create data CDs in the shell and create audio CDs from Windows Media Player. But there werent too many recordable DVD options available to consumers at the time because the drives and media were expensive and hard to find. Today, however, the market for recordable CD and DVD media has expanded dramatically, and recordable DVD drives are now so cheap that its almost crazy not to get one. Theres just one problem. Though the market for recordable DVD drives has expanded dramatically, Windows XP hasnt really caught up. If you have the very latest version of XP Media Center Windows XP Media Center 2005 as of this writing then you have some basic DVD writing capabilities built into the OS. Other Windows XP users, however, will have to make do with CD writing, or look to third-party tools to complete the picture. This chapter examines the DVD burning capabilities that ship with various versions of Windows XP and briefly examines some of the third-party DVD options you might want to consider if you like to jump on the DVD bandwagon.

Cross-Reference
If youre interested in creating audio CDs, be sure to check out Chapter 3.

Understanding Recordable DVD Formats and Technologies


In keeping with prior technology wars VHS vs. Beta and Windows vs. Mac to name a few the market for recordable DVDs is, unfortunately, bifurcated into two major camps. In this case, those camps are the DVD Forum, which backs formats such as DVD-R (DVD minus R), DVD-RW, and

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DVD-RAM, and the DVD+RW Alliance, which backs formats such as DVD+R (DVD plus R) and DVD+RW. In the early days of PC-based recordable DVD players, you had to choose between the formats you could use, based on which hardware you purchased. But today, its far more common to find so-called combo, or multiwriter, drives, which support DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, and DVD+RW. Some even support DVD-RAM as well. This development has blunted the damage that a format war could have had on the recordable DVD market. DVD-R and DVD+R are write once optical formats, similar to CD-R. They both support creating disks that hold up 4.7 GB of data. DVD-RW and DVD-RW, meanwhile, are 4.7 GB rewriteable disks. That means that you can reformat a DVD-RW or DVD+RW disk and reuse it. DVD-RAM disks typically come in plastic cartridges and are similar to removable hard drives. Additionally, DVD-RAM disks support random read/write access, like a hard drive, and are natively supported in all versions of Windows XP, even though such disks are fairly uncommon. Such disks come in 4.7 GB formats these days. In recent years, recordable DVD manufacturers have fulfilled the promise of DVD storage expansion by releasing drives and disks that support two layers. These types of disks can store up to 9.4 GB of data. Double-sided disks are also becoming common. In the early days of the DVD format wars, there was some debate about which format, DVD-R or DVD+R, offered better compatibility with standard DVD players. The argument is important: It doesnt matter when you make a beautiful DVD movie on your PC if your parents, siblings, friends, or other people cant watch it on their hardware. By all accounts, DVD-R offers better compatibility with most DVD players, but more modern DVD players natively support DVD+R as well, so its no longer the issue it once was. Furthermore, since most DVD recorders these days offer support for multiple formats, you can simply use the types of disks that offer you the best compatibility. As noted previously, all versions of Windows XP support DVD-RAM, and will use such disks as slow moving hard drives. DVD-RAM, however, is not capable of being used to store DVD movies that will play back on normal DVD hardware. Today, no version of Windows XP, except for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, natively supports DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, or DVD+RW, so youll focus on that system for the next few sections. Then, at the end of this chapter, you look at a few third-party options that all XP owners can try.

Creating a DVD Movie with Windows Movie Maker and XP Media Center Edition 2005
Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 offers a host of improvements over other Windows XP versions and prior Media Center versions, including an elegant new 10-foot interface that looks great on a TV and can be controlled through a remote control, digital video recording (DVR) capabilities that let you record TV as well as pause, rewind, and fast forward live TV, and other digital media-related enhancements. You look at XP Media Center Edition 2005 in more detail in Chapter 16, and explore specific features as they come up throughout this book, but one other unique feature this system offers is integrated DVD burning. Heres how it works.

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To create a DVD movie or data DVD of any video, recorded TV show, or other content from within Media Center, simply right-click the content youd like to record (or select it with the remote control and then click the Details/More Info button) and select Create CD/DVD, as shown in Figure 15-1.

Figure 15-1: To access Media Centers DVD writing capabilities, access the More Info menu for any digital content.

This action brings up the Create CD/DVD screen, which is shown in Figure 15-2. From this screen, you can create a data DVD, a Video DVD, or a DVD slide show. A Data DVD is similar to the types of DVDs you might make when you backup your hard drive. Such a disk can contain any type of data file. It cannot be read by a DVD player but is instead designed to work with PCs only. A Video DVD is a DVD movie that can be played back in any DVD player, including those that most people have attached to their TVs. If youd like to share a home movie or recorded TV show with friends and family, this is the choice.

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Figure 15-2: The Create CD/DVD screen can be used to create DVD data disks and movies.

A DVD Slide Show is a special kind of data DVD that contains both photographs and digital music. These disks can only be played back on PCs, because Media Center assembles the content into animated slideshows that are similar to the effects you get when you display photo slide shows from within Media Center. So, to create a DVD movie, select Video DVD and then click the OK button. In the next screen, youre prompted to enter a name for the DVD movie (see Figure 15-3).

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Figure 15-3: Creating a DVD with just a remote control is possible thanks to Media Centers simple menus.

When youre ready to start burning or add more content, click the OK button. Here, you can add more content, change the name of the DVD, or create the DVD. Click Add More to add more content until youre ready to start burning. Then, click the Create DVD button. Media Center will prompt you to make sure you want to create a disk and then start the burn process (see Figure 15-4), which could take several minutes or much longer, depending on the amount of content youre copying to the DVD.

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Figure 15-4: When you have a bunch of content ready to go, you can rearrange it or start the DVD burning process.

Caution
DVD burning is a resource-intensive task, so unless you want to make a coaster that is, a ruined DVD disk I recommend leaving your PC alone while it burns DVDs. This is equally true for the fastest PCs available as it is for the two-year-old clunker that Im currently using.

When the DVD creation is complete, you can test it on your PC using Windows Media Player (or Media Center), or place it in your DVD player and see whether it works. DVDs created through Media Center all sport the same Media Center-style interface, shown in Figure 15-5. Thats fine for many uses, but more advanced users will likely want to design their own DVD menus and arrange how things look. For such functionality, youll have to turn to a third-party solution.

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Figure 15-5: DVDs created with Media Center take on the Media Center look and feel.

Burning Media Center Recorded TV Shows to DVD


One other handy feature of Media Center is that you can burn recorded TV shows to DVD, just as you do with other content you may have stored on your Media Center PC. There are just two caveats to understand before you do this: Media Center will dumb down picture quality to fit TV shows on the disk Because most recordable DVD disks can only hold one hour of video at full-screen and in high quality, shows that are longer than one hour will be compressed in order to fit on a disk. Content-controlled TV shows cannot be burned to DVD In mid-2004, the Home Box Office network, which controls both HBO and Cinemax, began protecting their

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subscription channels with a technology called broadcast flag. Because Microsoft, like other DVR makers, honors the broadcast flag technology, shows encoded with this protection cannot be copied to other devices, including portable media players like the Portable Media Centers (described in Chapter 18). Also, they cannot be burned to DVD. Broadcast flag is available to all TV networks and, indeed, as DVRs grow to be more popular, its likely that many networks will begin restricting the distribution of their content by enabling it.

To burn a recorded TV show to DVD, simply navigate to the Recorded TV Shows section of Media Center (see Figure 15-6), right-click the appropriate TV show, and select Create CD/DVD. Then, follow the steps outlined in the previous section to make the DVD. If you see an error message, its likely that the content was protected with broadcast flag and thus cannot be copied to DVD.

Figure 15-6: Media Centers Recorded TV feature could likely make a DVR convert out of just about anyone.

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Note
Microsoft restricts other content from being burned to DVD as well. If you rent a movie from an online movie service like CinemaNow or MovieLink, or purchase video content from MLB.com or a similar service, Media Center will not allow you to burn that content to DVD. In these cases, it is the Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions that content creators have placed on the files, and not the broadcast flag, that prevents you from copying them.

Cross-Reference
For more information about recording TV and Media Center, see Chapter 16.

Go the Third-Party Route: DVD MovieMaking Alternatives


Since the DVD moviemaking features in Windows XP are limited to non-existent, depending on which version of the OS youre using, most people who are interested in creating their own DVD movies will have to turn to third-party solutions. Not surprisingly, there are a number of excellent solutions available to Windows XP users, and Ill just highlight a few of my favorites here.

On the Web
Check this books Web site for updated information about these and other third-party DVD moviemaking packages (www.xpdigitalmedia.com).

Adobe Premiere Elements


In 2004, digital imaging giant Adobe released the first version of Premiere Elements, an entry-level, home-oriented version of the companys popular and comprehensive Premiere Pro product. Like Premiere Pro, Premiere Elements offers a wide range of functionality, including much of what makes Windows Movie Maker so appealing. But what sets Premiere Elements apart from WMM, of course, is Premieres integrated support for DVD burning, complete with editable DVD menus, automatic scene indexing, and widescreen support. For the home user, Adobe Premiere Elements is unparalleled. Its also a bit complex, so if youre not sure that youre going to be spending hours creating DVD movies, you might want to look for a more automated solution, like MyDVD. For more information, please visit the Adobe Web site at www.adobe.com/products/premiereel/. TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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Nero Ultra Edition


Ive always been a big fan of Nero CD/DVD products, and Ive been using Nero Burning ROM for my DVD backups for years. But Nero has recently expanded its product offerings dramatically, and the company now offers a complete suite of digital media products called Nero Ultra Edition, which includes the aforementioned Nero Burning ROM as well as a number of other products. Among these products is Nero Express, a video capture, authoring, editing, and burning application that simplifies the process of moving edited videos to DVD video. Nero Express is a great solution for people who consider themselves beginning or intermediate movie makers. For more information, please visit the Nero Web site at www.nero.com/

Roxio Easy Media Creator Suite


The Roxio Easy Media Creator suite is, like the Nero product, a collection of related tools. But Easy Media Creator has, at its heart, what is likely one of the most popular digital media applications ever created, EZ CD Creator (now called Creator Classic). For DVD movie making, Easy Media Creator offers DVD Builder. This application includes a feature called the Production Editor, which is a pane that provides you with ready access to the features of each movie on a disk, a StoryBoard application for WMM-style editing, and other features. For more information about Easy Media Creator, visit the Roxio Web site at www.roxio.com/en/products/ecdc/.

Sonic MyDVD
Sonic MyDVD is definitely my favorite DVD application for beginning users. This graphical application has the simplest and most intuitive interface of any application here, and is excellent for beginners and advanced users alike, especially if you just want to get the DVD made and make sure it looks great in the process. If you want infinite control over the smallest details, look to Premiere Elements, but if you want simple and fun, this is the solution. For more information, check out the Sonic Web site at www.sonic.com/products/mydvd/.

Summary
This chapter explored the ways you can burn your own DVDs and the various recordable DVD formats that exist today. You learned to create DVDs using either Windows Movie Maker or by taking advantage of the built-in burning capabilities included on the new Media Center PCs, which can also create DVDs from the shows you record. You also explored the DVD movie-making capabilities of some of the more popular third party software programs. In Chapter 16 you learn about moving digital media into the living room using the power and ease of XP Media Center PCs. You discover how Media Center brings all of your music, pictures, videos, DVDs, and even your TV together in one view that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your couch just by using your remote control. You also look more closely at how Media Center can reach out to the Internet to access online content such as movies, music, news, and more by using the services available through the Online Spotlight experience.

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Chapter 16

Digital Media in the Living Room: Introducing XP Media Center


Chapter 17

Digital Media throughout the Home: Using Media Center Extenders


Chapter 18

Take It on the Road: Working with Portable Media Centers and Other Portable Devices

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Chapter 16

Digital Media in the Living Room: Introducing XP Media Center


hen Microsoft released Windows XP in October 2001, I immediately recognized it as the most digital media-savvy operating system that Microsoft had ever released. With an exciting new integrated media player, support for new Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media Video (WMV) formats, DVD playback, and audio CDripping capabilities, Windows XP was amazing for the day. Little did I know that Windows XP was just the beginning. In early 2002, the company showed me its plans for a new consumer-oriented version of Windows XP called Windows XP Media Center Edition that would integrate TV watching and digital video recording (DVR) capabilities and a friendly remote control-accessible 10-foot user interface (as compared to the traditional 2-foot mouse and keyboard PC interface we all know and love). It eventually shipped in Fall 2002, and since then Microsoft has released two major upgrades, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2004 (in late 2003) and Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 (in late 2004) that have dramatically improved the feature-set and stability of the product. Windows XP Media Center Edition is designed to run only on special Media Center PCs, which are made by major PC makers like Dell, HP, and Gateway, as well as smaller white box PC makers. More specifically, you cannot go into a Best Buy or CompUSA and purchase a retail version of Windows XP Media Center Edition. Most Media Center PCs include TV tuners, though its optional, letting you record and watch live TV. And although the first Media Center PCs were extremely expensive and basically niche products, todays Media Centers PCs run the gamut from $500 entrylevel boxes to $3000 or more home theatre titans. Theres a Media Center PC for every budget. One of the weird issues with Media Center PCs was where to put them. Because most early Media Center PCs were fairly high-end PCs and thus were expensive, it made sense to put them in a home office and use them as a primary PC, for productivity, entertainment, and gaming tasks. But in most home offices, Media Center PCs couldnt take advantage of their TV recording abilities, and even if they could, most people put their nice TV set in the den or living room. So many Media Center PC owners put the PC next to, or on top of, their best TV set, so they could use the device as their primary interface to the television. In fact, this is exactly what my family did, and until recently we used 401 TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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a Media Center PC as our TV interface in the living room. My children have grown up in a world where all of their digital photo memories can be viewed on the TV, and all of their favorite TV shows are recorded and waiting for them with new episodes. And because Media Center has excellent DVR functionality, they barely ever see any commercials, because they can fast forward through them to get back to their shows. As Media Center has matured, a few things have changed. First, the buggy first generation machines gave way to increased stability, which, along with lower prices, has obviated the major criticism some have leveled at putting a Media Center PC in the living room. Second, Microsoft has released a technology, the Media Center Extender, which answers many of the problems with Media Center PCs. A Media Center Extender is essentially a set-top box that remotely accesses Media Center content over a home network (wired or wireless, although wired is best), letting you enjoy Media Center content on up to five TVs in your house, all controlled by a central Media Center PC, which you can again put back in your home office. Were using three Media Center Extenders now one in the living room, one in the master bedroom, and one in the cellar and thats why the Media Center PC has moved out of the living room in my house. Third, Media Center is now a very high-quality product and up to the task of delivering unmatched video quality, as well as stability that (finally) matches the stability we expect from consumer electronics equipment. Sure, a Media Center PC is still a PC, and that means that you can expect the worst from time to time. But comparing todays Media Center PCs to the first generation versions we saw in late 2002 is like night and day. Between the pricing, new features and capabilities, and stability found in the latest generation, its clear that Media Center PCs and, more specifically, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is ready for primetime. All readers of this book who I assume are digital media enthusiasts by definition should consider a Media Center PC. Honestly, its changed the way my family enjoys memories (both photos and home movies), digital music, rented and purchased movies, and television in profound and extremely positive ways. This chapter examines the latest version of Media Center and provides an overview to this products unique and exciting features.

On the Web
Ive written a lot about Media Center on the SuperSite for Windows, so if youre looking for more information about this product, prior versions, Media Center Extenders, and other related technologies, go to www .winsupersite.com/.

PC in the Den: Introducing Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005


Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 was released in October 2004 and is available with a wide range of Media Center PCs from many PC makers, large and small. Some of these PCs resemble traditional PCs, and come in tower or desktop PC form, while others more closely resemble home

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stereo equipment and would be more at home in your living room than would a traditional PC. Hewlett-Packard (HP), the first PC maker to broadly adopt Windows XP Media Center Edition in 2002, offers perhaps the best example of these two types of PCs. Thats because the company happens to make models that fall into both categories. As shown in Figure 16-1, HP makes both traditional PC-style Media Centers as well as Media Centers that can be considered home entertainment centers.

Figure 16-1: HPs Media Center designs are as diverse as they are innovative.

A Look at the Hardware


From a hardware standpoint, Media Center PCs differ from normal PCs in a few key areas. Specifically, they include the following accessories: TV tuner Media Center PCs optionally support one to three TV tuner cards, which let the systems interact with your television system, record TVs, pause live TV, and perform other DVR functions. With a dual-tuner set-up, for example, you can record a show on one channel and watch another show, simultaneously. Remote control Media Center PCs include a dedicated remote control so that you can enjoy the Media Center interface from 10 feet (or more) away. The PC interacts with the remote control using an IR sensor, which plugs into a USB port on the PC, or is integrated into the box. IR blaster To control your cable or satellite set-top box, Media Center PCs include one IR blaster for each TV tuner. The IR blaster is a thin wire that sticks to the front of your set-top box; the other end plugs into the IR sensor mentioned above. During Media Center setup, you configure and detect the type of cable system hardware youre using so that Media Center can correctly change channels and volume, and perform other tasks.

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Multi-function media readers Many Media Center PCs include an 8-in-1 or 9-in-1 media reader that makes it easier to interact with the sort of flash media cards that are commonly used with digital cameras today.

A Look at the Software


On the software end, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is largely like Windows XP Professional with a few omissions, which I discuss below. Compared to other XP editions, XP Media Center Edition 2005 offers the following unique features: Media Center interface As shown in Figure 16-2, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 includes a stunning Media Center user interface, which can be accessed using a keyboard and mouse or a remote control. From the Media Center user interface, you can access all of your digital photos, music, video, and recorded and live TV, as well as many online music and video services, news and related services, Media Centerspecific games and add-ons, and other functionality.

Figure 16-2: Media Center provides a gorgeous interface to your digital media.

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TV program guide During configuration of Media Center, you set up the system to work with your particular television service provider. From there on out, Media Center silently updates your exact TV program guide on a regular basis, using an Internet-connected service. This program guide service is completely free, in contrast to services such as that offered by DVR market leader TiVo, which charges a monthly fee. TV recording service Also running in the background is Media Centers TV recording service, which keeps track of the shows you want to record and checks daily the constantly changing TV program guide for updates which could change the schedule. Digital Media applications Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 ships with four of the most popular digital media utilities that Microsoft first shipped in Plus! Digital Media Edition. These utilities include Windows Audio Converter, Windows CD Label Maker, Windows Dancer, and Windows Party Mode. A new Windows user interface Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is the first version of Windows XP to ship with a new user interface. Dubbed Energy Blue, the new interface is a subtle refinement of the classic Windows XP user interface, codenamed Luna, as shown in Figure 16-3.

Figure 16-3: XP Media Center Edition 2005 is the first Windows XP version to ship with a new user interface.

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So whats missing? While previous versions of Windows XP Media Center Edition were true supersets of Windows XP Professional, Windows XP Media Center Edition loses a few bits of Windows XP Professional functionality. For example, in Windows XP Professional, you can use the Stored User Names and Passwords feature to store Web passwords as well as Passport and network passwords. Windows XP Media Center 2005, however, only allows you to save Passport and network passwords, like Windows XP Home Edition. On the other hand, Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, like Windows XP Professional, does include the Microsoft Web server software, Internet Information Services (IIS). Im told that the Windows XP Professional omissions in Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 are caused by two factors: First, some Windows XP Professional features are incompatible with Media Center Extenders, because that hardware allows Windows XP to access up to six concurrent interactive users simultaneously, while Windows XP Professional only supports one. Second, because Microsoft wanted to make Windows XP Media Center Edition more cost effective, it removed a few features that might have made the system more expensive to support. For this reason, the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 feature set is somewhere between that of Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional, although it also features the Media Center interface and related TV show recording features.

Managing and Consuming Digital Media with XP Media Center Edition


Although a Media Center PC is, at its heart, a PC, the real power of such a system comes from its Media Center software, which enables you to interact with your digital media content in new and exciting ways. This entire book, of course, is dedicated to working with digital photos, music, videos, and other content, but with Media Center, you can take it to a new level. Lets take a look.

Cross-Reference
At a deep level, Media Center uses the same database of digital media information that is created and managed by Windows Media Player. So if you want content to show up in Media Center, you want to familiarize yourself with how WMP works. For more details, see Chapters 2 and 3.

MANAGING AND ENJOYING DIGITAL MUSIC


In My Music, your entire digital music collection is presented in a high visual fashion (see Figure 16-4). By default, My Music displays in a graphical album view, where each albums album art is shown, but you can also view by artist, by playlist, by song, or by genre. And like Windows Media Player 10, My Music supports a Now Playing list, or queue, to which you can add, remove, and organize tracks.

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Figure 16-4: My Music presents your music collection graphically.

When you select an album from My Music, youre presented with the Album Details view, as seen in Figure 16-5, which lays out the available tracks and enables you to play them or queue them up. You can also perform simple metadata-related editing tasks by clicking Edit Info. Media Center also integrates with various Internet radio-type services, such as those offered by MSN Music, Napster, and others. You can access these services through the Radio section of the Media Center user interface.

Cross-Reference
For more information about managing and enjoying digital audio, please refer to the chapters in Part 1 of this book, Music to Your Ears.

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Figure 16-5: In Album Details view, you can access tasks related to a particular album.

MANAGING AND ENJOYING DIGITAL PHOTOS


Your digital photo collection is important because its a digital version of your memories. With that in mind, the My Pictures section of the Media Center interface, shown in Figure 16-6, offers one of the nicest front-ends Ive ever seen for your digital photos, with beautiful slide show capabilities and dramatic photo thumbnails that make it a pleasure to move from album to album. You havent enjoyed digital photos until youve seen them on your big TV set. Best of all, you can start up a music playlist in My Music (see the next section) and then watch your entire photo collection or any part of it animate in a gorgeous slide show, complete with the music soundtrack of your choice (see Figure 16-7). When we have parties, we queue up a slide show of recent trips or family events alongside some of our favorite music. The effect is mesmerizing and always a big hit with guests.

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Figure 16-6: My Pictures is a beautiful warehouse for your digital memories.

Cross-Reference
For more information about managing and enjoying digital photos, please refer to the chapters in Part 2 of this book, A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words.

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Figure 16-7: Combine photo slide shows with music for the most dramatic effect.

MANAGING AND ENJOYING DIGITAL VIDEOS


If youve spent hours acquiring and editing your home movies, why not enjoy them on the big screen? Thanks to the My Videos feature in Media Center (see Figure 16-8), you can do just that. This feature also contains any movies you may have rented or purchased from an online movie service. Additionally, Media Center includes a decent utility for playing back DVD movies. You can access this functionality from the Play DVD choice in the Media Center start page.

Cross-Reference
For more information about managing and enjoying digital video, please refer to the Chapters in Part 3 of this book, Movie Making.

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Figure 16-8: Movies are designed to be played back on a nice TV, not a tiny computer screen.

Accessing TV with Media Center


While the aforementioned digital media features are cool and arguably a huge selling point for Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, this systems ability to interact with television is most certainly its most heralded feature. You access Media Centers television functionality through the My TV choice on the start page. This launches My TV, as shown in Figure 16-9.

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Figure 16-9: My TV is a front-end for Media Centers television-related features.

Here, you can access live TV, a list of the television shows the Media Center has or will soon record, an interactive TV program guide (see Figure 16-10), and other TV-related features.

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Figure 16-10: The Media Center TV program guide is well-designed and easy to navigate.

WATCHING AND PAUSING LIVE TV


To watch live TV, select the Live TV option. This switches the view to the currently selected channel so that you can watch TV normally. That means you can change channels, change the volume level or mute the volume, and perform other similar tasks as before. However, there are a few major differences. First, you can access the title of the currently playing show at any time by pressing the Play button on the Media Center remote. Second, you can pause and rewind live TV using the respective buttons on the remote. These features can come in handy in numerous situations. Lets say youre watching a favorite show, like The Simpsons, and the phone rings. Rather than miss some of the show, you can pause it and then pick up when the call ends. You could also turn the TV on when a show starts, click Pause, and then wait 10 minutes to start watching. Now, you should be able to watch the entire show without seeing any commercials. When commercials come on as you watch the slightly delayed show, simply skip over them by pressing the Fast Forward button. Chances are, youll never catch up with the live broadcast, and you can simply skip all the commercials. Mission accomplished.

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RECORDING TV SHOWS
If you want to record a TV show, you have numerous options. While watching a live TV show, you can start recording at any time by pressing the red Record button on your remote control. When you do so, a small panel will pop up with a red recording circle, indicating that the recording has begun. The recording will run from the time you press the Record button until the time the current show ends. To set up recordings in advance, which is pretty much the way to go typically, you can navigate through the TV program guide, find the shows you want to record, and press the Record button while theyre selected. To set up a series recording where every show in a series is recorded press the Record button twice. When you do so, youll see a stacked set of red recording circles appear on the show, as shown in Figure 16-11. You can also access a Series Info screen to determine how a series is recorded. For example, you may want to keep only the five newest shows or record only new shows, not repeats. Its up to you.

Figure 16-11: When you elect to record a series, Media Center notes that with a unique series recording graphic overlay.

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You can also use Media Centers search functionality to find shows to record. To do so, navigate to My TV, Recorded TV, and then Add Recording. From here, you can see a number of choices for scheduling recordings, including Search. If you choose Search (see Figure 16-12), you can search via categories, title, or keyword.

Figure 16-12: The Media Center Search feature is handy when you know what youre looking for.

Lets say youre a Tom Selleck fan. If youd like to record every show that features Tom Selleck, simply select Keyword and then type Tom Selleck in the edit box that appears. Youll be rewarded with a list of TV shows and movies that feature Mr. Selleck, as shown in Figure 16-13.

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Figure 16-13: With Media Centers search features, Tom Selleck really gets around.

FINDING AND RECORDING MOVIES


The aforementioned search functionality works well, but it only hints at the TV show and movie discoverability features Microsoft has baked into this version. You may recall an option called Movies on the main My TV page. When you click that option, the Movies screen loads and displays a list of the movies that are on now (see Figure 16-14). This feature is handy when you plop down in the front of the TV with no idea what youd like to watch: By supplying a list of movies that are not only on right now, but are actually available to you based on your TV service, the chances are great that you will be able to find something to watch. And this being Media Center, the Movies list is, of course, beautifully laid out, with graphical, DVD box-like representations of each movie. Perhaps more useful is a list of movies that will start in 30 or 60 minutes. Thats handy because the movies on now have likely already started. To access this list of upcoming movies, select On Next.

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Figure 16-14: Cool. These are all of the movies on right now.

But wait; theres more. In addition to letting you search for music by genre and by rating, you can also perform a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacontype exercise by choosing Actors/Directors. This presents believe it or not a list of the actors who are in movies on your TV service now, letting you navigate around and find content. You can also access this information from the Movie Info screen of any movie or TV show. Lets see how this can be used practically by using an example in which youre in the mood for a good comedy. And lets say you like Adam Sandler for some reason (work with me, he was funny once). In My TV, you can navigate to Movies, and then Actors/Directors. In this screen, you see a list of top actors, listed alphabetically (see Figure 16-15). At the top of the list (remember, folks, its alphabetical) is good ol Adam Sandler.

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Figure 16-15: In Actors/Directors, youre presented with a list of top actors by default.

When you select Adam Sandler, youre presented with a list of movies in which he appears (see Figure 16-16). Navigating through the list, you see the title Airheads and select that. From the Movie Info screen, you can select Cast & More to access information about the other actors in this fine film. Oh, look. Steve Buscemi is in Airheads as well. When you select his name, you can see a list of movies hes been in. Turns out there are over 70 of them. And one of them, Reservoir Dogs, is a classic you havent seen in a while. Select that, and you can set up a recording. If its not on in the near future, you can select Record in Future, and it will record the next time it comes on your TV service. Yes, seriously. And of course you can also navigate from here and get more cast info, access reviews, or find similar movies. You could spend all day doing this if youre not careful. But most important, this cool functionality makes it easy to find new content that you can record and watch at any time. Thanks to Media Center, TV has evolved into something wonderful.

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Figure 16-16: When you select an actor, you can see a list of the movies hes been in.

Accessing Online Services and Other Programs


In addition to the core digital media experiences in Media Center, Microsoft also offers a number of other features. The nice thing about these features is that most of them are supplied by third parties and that the roster of add-on services and Media Centercompatible applications is growing. In this way, Media Center isnt frozen in time at the moment its released. Instead, Media Center is being constantly upgraded and enhanced, mostly by people from outside of Microsoft.

ONLINE SERVICES
From the Online Spotlight choice on the Media Center start page, you can access a number of online services that work from within the Media Center interface (see Figure 16-17). Like the list of online music, movie, and digital content services that are available from within Windows Media Player (see Chapters 6 and 13), the list of Media Centerbased online services is growing regularly. These services, as you might expect, are all accessible from the remote control and dont require you to be sitting at your PC using a keyboard and mouse.

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Figure 16-17: Online spotlight provides a place for Media Center partners to place their services.

The Media Centerbased online services, predictably, fall into a number of logical categories: Showcase These are the services that Microsoft is currently promoting on the front page of Online Spotlight. Current choices are as diverse as Napster, Reuters, and Kodak Share. Music & Radio These are the music-oriented online services, such as AOL Music On Demand, Live365.com, MSN Music, and Napster. I cover online music services in Chapter 6.

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TV & Movies These services are TV and movie related, such as ABC Enhanced TV, CinemaNow, InterActual, and MovieLink. You examine movie-related services such as CinemaNow and MovieLink in Chapter 13. News & Sports News and sports-oriented services include ESPN Motion, MSN TV Today, Newsgator, NPR, and Reuters. Lifestyle At the time of the launch of Windows XP Media Center 2005, there was only one Lifestyle online service, Kodak Share, which lets you access your online photo albums through the Media Center interface. Downloads In the Downloads section, Microsofts partners can offer links to downloadable Media Center programs, which you can try and purchase online. Over time, Microsofts partners will likely release a number of other Media Centerbased online services, so you should check into Online Spotlight from time to time to see if there are any intriguing new choices you might be interested in.

OTHER MEDIA CENTER PROGRAMS


In addition to the online services you can use from within Media Center, Microsoft includes three applications that you can run from within the environment and, of course, third parties are free to add others. Those applications, which are available from More Programs, include: Create CD/DVD Media Center includes an integrated CD and DVD creation utility that is based on code from Sonic, the makers of MyDVD. I discuss this feature in Chapter 15. Messenger Microsofts ubiquitous Messenger service typically accessed from the Windows Messenger or MSN Messenger instant messaging (IM) applications is available through Media Center. Now, you might ask why youd want such a thing, and certainly Id be lying if I didnt at least mention that that was my first question when I heard about this feature. Sync to Device While Windows Media Player 10 offers nice synchronization features for portable audio players, Portable Media Centers, and other devices, you can also elect to sync directly from within Media Center, as shown in Figure 16-18. You look at this feature more closely in Chapter 17.

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Figure 16-18: Over time, Microsoft has made it possible to do more and more from within Media Center. Now, you can even synchronize your Media Library with portable devices.

Summary
This chapter introduced you to Windows XP Media Center and showed how the PC can move into your living room as the center of your entertainment experience. Media Center combines powerful PC hardware and the Media Center software to provide easy access to all your entertainment needs. Using the remote control, you can watch TV and DVD movies, and enjoy your favorite music in the background while viewing your favorite digital pictures as a slide show. You can also use Media Centers TV features to record and watch your favorite shows at the touch of a button. In Chapter 17 you examine how, with Media Center Extenders that connect to your Media Center PC, you can have digital media thats accessible throughout your home. You also look more closely at how you manage Media Center Extenders, and integrate them into your home network.

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Chapter 17

Digital Media Throughout the Home: Using Media Center Extenders


s discussed in Chapter 16, a Media Center PC running Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 is what Microsoft calls the premium Windows experience for home users. But a Media Center PC is still a PC, and that means it brings with it all of the baggage of a PC. Media Center PCs can be buggy and even crash. With their powerful processors, they can run hot and require loud fans. Theyre often ugly, and unsuited for the living room. Theyre typically more expensive than mainstream PCs. And so on. For these and other reasons, users with Media Center PCs have typically had a choice to make: Do you put that expensive PC in the living room and attach it to the TV, where it can do the most good? Or do you put it in the home office where a PC belongs and use it like a normal PC, for productivity and fun? Until late 2004, there wasnt much middle ground, and frankly, putting a $1000 to $3000 PC next to the television set just didnt make a lot of sense. But now, thanks to a new device called a Media Center Extender, Media Center PC owners have an answer. Instead of dedicating an expensive PC to the living room, you can now put a Media Center PC where it belongs in your home office, typically and access its interface and features remotely, over your home network, through new Media Center Extender devices.

Introducing Media Center Extenders


A Media Center Extender is a small, fan-less device with home stereo, TV, and home networking connections (including wireless) that you can place on any TV in your home. They are based on Windows CE .NET technology, if that means anything to you. And they basically duplicate the Media Center experience on your PC by connecting to the Media Center PC remotely over a home network. Indeed, with a powerful enough PC, you can actually connect up to five Media Center Extenders to a single Media Center PC. That means you can put one on the TVs in the living room,

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the cellar, and three bedrooms, if you want. And that ugly and loud PC stays in the home office where it belongs.

Media Center Extender Considerations


Now, if youre excited about this notion, you should be. But before you rush off to Best Buy or CompUSA, lets discuss a few issues regarding these innovative devices.

YOU GET MOST, BUT NOT ALL, OF THE MEDIA CENTER EXPERIENCE
Though a Media Center Extender faithfully displays the Media Center experience on your TV remotely, a few things are missing. First, you cant remotely play DVD movies that youve inserted in your Media Center PC. Microsoft says there are two reasons for this: First, most people wouldnt be interested in running back and forth between the home office and living room to replace DVD discs. And second, its unclear whether rebroadcasting the digitally protected signal from a DVD movie is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). So that option is out. Sadly, none of the first-generation Media Center Extender device makers thought to put a DVD player in their units, so youll also have a separate DVD player attached to your TV if you like to enjoy DVD movies. Not a big deal, to be sure DVD players are cheap these days but its another box you need to manage, with its many cables and TV input isssues.

ONE TUNER, TWO TUNER, THREE


While a new Media Center PC can use up to three TV tuners, each with its own cable box or other TV source, those cable boxes will need to be in the home office with the Media Center PC. So if you want a cable box on your living room PC, and one or more in the home office with your PC, that menas youre renting multiple boxes, and that can get expensive. My family has been testing Media Center Extenders for months at the time of this writing, and weve completely abandoned the use of cable boxes on our various TVs instead, weve got two cable boxes stacked on top of the Media Center PC in the home office. This may or may not work for you, so think ahead. Why is this an issue, you might ask? Well, if two or more people in your family want to access live TV content at the same time from multiple TV sets with Media Center Extenders, youre going to have contention issues. Heres how that works. First, the PC always gets precedence over any Media Center Extenders. Then the Extenders get precedence, in the order that they were installed. So, lets say you have one TV tuner on the PC attached to a cable box. When it comes to live TV, the user on the PC gets precedence, and they can watch whatever show theyd like. If the person using the Extender wants to watch live TV, they can only follow along, but not change channels or whatever (they can, however, pause and rewind as needed).

MEDIA CENTER EXTENDERS REQUIRE PC RESOURCES


While you can add up to five Media Center Extenders to a single Media Center PC in theory, the reality is that each Extender takes resources from the parent PC, so youll need a pretty decent machine to control five devices. My advice goes like this: Any Media Center PC should be able to handle a single Extender, but if you want to move to two Extenders, make sure your PC has at least a 2.8 GHz Pentium 4 processor (or the AMD equivalent) and 1 GB of RAM. For three to five Extenders, youll need a 3.4 GHz Pentium 4 processor (or faster) and 1.5 to 2 GB of RAM. Those requirements may seem steep, but remember that RAM is cheap. And besides, you were looking for an excuse to buy a new PC anyway, right? TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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MEDIA CENTER EXTENDERS REQUIRE XP MEDIA CENTER EDITION 2005


In keeping with the upgrade theory, you will need the latest version of Windows XP Media Center Edition, 2005, to use a Media Center Extender. You cannot use a PC running a prior version of XP Media Center Edition.

FIGURE OUT THE NETWORKING ISSUES


Every Media Center Extender includes both wired and wireless (802.11a/b/g) ports, which may lead you to believe that either type of networking will work fine. While you can use wireless or wired networking theoretically to connect a Media Center Extender to your Media Center PC, the reality is quite different. First, wired is always best, and youll suffer through far fewer network interruptions if you can run wired Ethernet between your Media Center PC and any Extenders. Second, if you do choose to use a wireless connection, you can only connect one Extender in this fashion: All other Extenders you choose to add must be connected through a wired network. Now, if you do choose to go the wireless route which I do not recommend some other rules apply. A wireless network based on the uncommon (but inexpensive) 802.11a standard is far less error-prone than 802.11g. So if you have 802.11g already installed, get an 802.11a wireless access point and use it solely for your Extender. The lackluster 802.11b wireless technology is completely inadequate for use with an Extender. And make sure that your Media Center PC connects to your home networking router through a wired connection even if your Extender is connected wirelessly: Two wireless jumps will kill performance. In short, you really need to think about wiring your house if you want to use more than one Extender. And even if you are using only one Extender, its unlikely that the wireless gear you have will be up to snuff.

NOT EVERYTHING WORKS ON AN EXTENDER


While Microsoft and its hardware partners tried to make the Extender solutions as seamless as possible, some stuff just requires you to be sitting in front of the actual Media Center PC in order to get it working. For example, lets say you are a Napster subscriber and would like to use Media Center to access your account and listen to music through the Extender on your TV. If you attempt to configure this for the first time on an Extender, you will receive an error message because the Napster service requires you to install software on your Media Center PC first. When this is completed (at the PC), you can access Napster from the Extender. There are lots of little issues like this, so be ready to run over to the home office from time to time.

Choosing a Media Center Extender


You have two choices when it comes to Media Center Extenders. You can buy a device, which resembles a standard piece of home stereo componentry, or you can purchase software for the Microsoft Xbox video game system, which allows it to act like a Media Center Extender. In this section, you examine the pros and cons of each approach.

DEVICES
At the time of this writing, companies such as Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Linksys are selling $300 set-top boxes called Media Center Extenders. These devices are silent and low-profile and look right at home alongside virtually any television. They all include a standard Media Center remote control and, indeed, you can mix and match remotes with your Media Center if youd like. (That is, you TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

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can use any Extender remote on the Media Center PC, or use the Media Center remote on any Extender.

XBOX EXTENDERS
Microsofts Media Center Extender for Xbox is a software-hardware solution that includes a remote control, an infrared receiver dongle that plugs into one of the Xboxs four hand controller ports, an installation disk for the PC, and an Xbox DVD that must be inserted into the Xbox for it to emulate an Extender. The remote control that comes with the Extender software is one of the nicer Media Centerstyle remotes Ive seen, but its not compatible with Media Center PCs or Media Center Extender devices; it can only work with the Xbox (on the other hand, you can use it to control DVD movies played back from the Xbox). Personally, I prefer Media Center Extender devices over an Xbox because theyre quieter, can be placed on top of a PC because they dont have any wires hanging down in the front (unlike an Xboxs hand controllers), and dont require you to swap out a disk to make them work. Also, you can use a dedicated Extender wirelessly without buying an adapter: On the Xbox, youd have to purchase a separate and potentially expensive add-on to network it wirelessly. Finally, you cant use the Power button on the Xbox remote to turn off the Xbox; all it does is shut down the Extender software and leave the Xbox powered on. On the other hand, if you already own an Xbox, and perhaps use it to play DVD movies in addition to playing games, you can make this most versatile of video game systems even more versatile by turning it into a Media Center Extender. Best of all, the Extender software for the Xbox is cheap, and you can get an Xbox plus the software for less than the price of a dedicated Extender device.

Installing and Configuring a Media Center Extender


Regardless of which type of Media Center Extender you get, the process for getting it set up and installed is basically the same. Here, Ill assume youre installing the first Media Center Extender to a Media Center PC, and that that PC has already been upgrade to Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005.

Unpack the Extender


First, make sure you have everything you need. Typically, this will include the actual Media Center Extender, the cabling youll need to connect it to your television (which can be a mix of S-Video, composite, or component cables), an Ethernet cable (if youll be going the recommended wired networking route), a remote control with batteries, and the Media Center Extender Setup CD, which must be inserted in your Media Center PC. Regarding the cables youll use to connect the device to your TV, your decision will be based largely on which connection types your TV accepts. Component cables (green, blue, red) provide the highestquality video, followed by S-Video and then composite. Regardless of which type of video cable you

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use, you can also choose between S/PDIF (optical) and RCA-style (analog) audio, again, based on which inputs your TV accepts. Please refer to your devices documentation if you need help.

Connect the Extender


Now youre ready to make the physical connections between the Media Center Connector and your TV and network. First, plug in the Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port on the back of your Extender. Then, connect the Extender audio and video cabling using the documentation as a guide. Then, connect the power cable and pray to the technology gods that all will work according to plan. Turn on the television and tune it to the appropriate input, based on how you connected the video cables (Video 1, Video 2, or whatever). Then, turn on the Media Center Extender. Youll see a familiar blue Media Center-like screen, and be prompted with an eight-digit setup key. This will take the form of XXXX-XXXX (for example, 2110-5579). Write this number down, because youll need to enter it on your PC in a moment.

Install the PC software


On the Media Center PC, insert the Extender Setup CD that came with your Media Center Extender and run setup. You will be asked to input the Setup key that the Extender generated. Do so, as shown in Figure 17-1, and setup will pair the Extender with the PC and then install two utilities, the Media Center Extender Manager, and the Media Center Extender Network Performance Tuner. The Media Center Extender Manager is used to manage your Extenders, while the Media Center Extender Network Performance Tuner helps you tune your home network to work better with the Extender. You examine both of these utilities in the next section.

Use the Extender


After setup is complete, eject the Setup CD and then return to your Extender. Now that your Extender is paired with the Media Center PC, you will be prompted to identify which folders (typically My Pictures, My Music, My Videos, and Recorded TV shows) you will access for content. Then youll be presented with the familiar Media Center interface, with only a few small changes: No Play DVD option As mentioned previously, you cannot remotely access DVD movies with a Media Center Extender. Limited configuration options While the Settings option on the Media Center Start page offers a wide range of choices on the Media Center PC, youll only see those options that are relevant to the Extender when you view this option from the device.

Tip
Using an Xbox Extender? The process is basically the same, except that you will need to insert the Media Center Extender DVD in order to use your Xbox like an Extender device.

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Figure 17-1: When you install a new Extender, you need to enter a setup key to pair the device with your Media Center PC.

Managing a Media Center Extender


As mentioned previously, when you pair a Media Center Extender with a Media Center PC, the setup application installs two utilities, the Media Center Extender Manager, and the Media Center Extender Network Performance Tuner. These utilities can be used to manage your Media Center Extender from your Media Center PC; however neither can be accessed from the Extender. Curiously, Microsoft has chosen to hide Media Center applications deep within the Start Menu of your Media Center PC. Instead of creating a Media Center Start Menu group directly off of All Programs, you need to navigate to All Programs, Accessories, and then Media Center to access these applications.

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Managing Media Center Extender Devices


The Media Center Extender Manager utility, shown in Figure 17-2, can be used for a variety of Media Center Extender configuration tasks. After this software is installed on your system, you can use it to add new Extenders, update or remove existing Extenders, or view information about an Extender.

Figure 17-2: The Media Center Extender Manager is used to configure and add Extenders to a Media Center PC.

CONFIGURING FROM WHERE AN EXTENDER GETS ITS CONTENT


Though you are required to configure the folders from which an Extender gets its photo, video, music, and recorded TV content during its installation, you can separately determine which folders are even available for sharing from the Media Center PC if youd like. Conceivably, you could then configure each Extender to get content from different locations. That way, your children might be able to access different music from yours, for example. To access this configuration, choose File Settings. The Media Centerlike interface shown in Figure 17-3, will launch and let you determine which folders will be available for sharing with Extenders. By default, all My Documents folders (that is, the contents of My Documents and Shared Documents, and all of the subfolders under those locations) will be shared. You can also use this utility to determine whether error reporting is enabled. If it is, your Media Center PC will occasionally send information about problems to Microsoft over the Internet, helping them to make future versions of the product better.

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Figure 17-3: From here, you can determine which folders can be shared with Media Center Extenders.

ADDING A NEW EXTENDER


To add a second (or third, or fifth) Extender to your PC, choose File Add a New Extender. This launches the Setup screen shown in Figure 17-1.

UPDATING AN EXTENDER
To update the software in a Media Center Extender, choose File Update Extender. This will display the screen shown in Figure 17-4. Here, you choose the Extender youd like to update and then click Next. Then Media Center will locate the Extender and determine whether a software update is available online. If so, the Extender will be updated.

DISCOVERING INFORMATION ABOUT AN EXTENDER


To learn more about a particular Extender, select it in the Media Center Extender Manager window and choose Properties. The resulting dialog box, shown in Figure 17-5, displays information about the Extender, including its status (connected or not), user account name (typically MCX1, MCX2, MCX3, MCX4, or MCX5), and how it obtains an IP address from your home networking equipment.

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Figure 17-4: Any Extenders you have connected can potentially be updated.

Figure 17-5: This dialog box displays a variety of information about a particular Extender.

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REMOVING AN EXTENDER
To remove an Extender, select it in the Media Center Extender Manager window and choose Properties. Then click the Remove button in the Media Center Extender Properties dialog box. The application will prompt you to make sure you know what youre doing. After a Media Center Extender has been removed from your system, you can re-add it or pair it with a different Media Center PC.

Managing Network Performance


To manage the performance of your home network which could be a big concern with a wirelessly connected Extender you can use the Media Center Extender Network Performance Tuner. This utility, which uses the Media Centerlike interface shown in Figure 17-6, first lets you choose which Extender to test.

Figure 17-6: The Media Center Extender Network Performance Tuner lets you tune the performance of your wirelessly connected Extender.

Then it provides the series of tests shown in Figure 17-7. Note that your Media Center Extender must be on, not displaying any digital media content and showing the Start screen, for these tests to work.

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Figure 17-7: These tests are available from the Media Center Extender Network Performance Tuner.

Most of the tests here are pretty self-explanatory. For example, the first option, which is particularly well suited for testing the wireless connection between your Media Center PC and Extender, enables you to move networking equipment around physically while observing a graphical representation of the performance of your network. Nice!

Summary
In this chapter, you looked at the ways you can extend the Media Center entertainment throughout your home by connecting a Media Center Extender to your Media Center PC through a network. You learned that the configuration of your network (wired or wireless) plays an important role in setting up and managing your Media Center Extender. In Chapter 18 you examine how you can take your digital media on the road using portable media devices. You also look more closely at some portable media devices such as PocketPC, Portable Media Center, and the iPod, and the methods used to transfer content and synchronize your device with your PC.

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Chapter 18

Take It On the Road: Working with Portable Media Centers and Other Portable Devices

K, youre using Windows XP to make your digital media dreams come true. Youve archived all of your photos on the PC. Youve copied all of your audio CDs to the PC and now buy music regularly from online music services and make your own mix CDs that you play in the car. Youve copied all of your home movies to the PC, edited out the boring parts, and distributed DVD movies to all your friends and family. You record live TV with your Media Center PC and watch it remotely from a Media Center Extender in another room in your house. Basically, youve earned the respect of all you meet. Now what? Well, youve only just begun. All of the digital media experiences discussed throughout this book would be very limited in nature if you could just enjoy them at your PC. In some cases with Media Center PCs, Media Center Extenders, and portable media receivers you can move that content around your house. And if you make mix CDs, you can move digital music content outside of your house, using car-based or portable CD players. Thats not enough. Thanks to a new generation of portable devices, and Microsoft technology that makes working with them easier than ever before, you can now enjoy your digital media content from anywhere on earth, at any time. Some of these devices, like portable audio players, only work with digital music. But other devices, like Portable Media Centers, let you take music, photos, video, and even recorded TV shows and movies with you, wherever you go. Theyre perfect for long plane or car rides (well, not for the driver), or for trips when you visit family and friends in far off places. And theyre becoming more mainstream every day.

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In this chapter you look at a wide range of portable devices and how they work with Windows XP. That includes Apples ubiquitous iPod, which, while not directly compatible with the host of Windows Media Audiobased online services out there, is still quite popular. Whichever device you choose, the mantra is still the same. When it comes to Windows XP and digital media, you really can take it with you.

Working with Portable Devices


Today, Windows XP users have access to hundreds of different kinds of portable devices. Most of these devices are MP3-type players that offer only audio playback and offer storage capacities from just 256 MB all the way up to 100 GB, depending on the device. Other devices, like Pocket PCs and Portable Media Centers, can work with a wide range of content types, including music, photos, videos, and even recorded TV shows. And because Pocket PCs, especially, support removable storage, you can collect a library of storage media, all full of your favorite content. Regardless of the type of device you use, eventually you have to connect it to your computer typically through a ubiquitous USB 2.0 port. Depending on the type of device you connect to the system, Windows XP responds accordingly. It may interpret a portable audio device as an external disk drive to the OS; if the device contains audio files, Windows XP pops up a dialog box asking what youd like to do when the device is connected. Pocket PC devices, meanwhile, are typically handled with an application called ActiveSync (which comes with the device), though the latest versions integrate directly with Windows Media Player as well. Indeed, most users will likely prefer synchronizing their portable device with Windows Media Player, mostly because its the most obvious way to use these devices, and WMP is designed specifically to work with these devices.

Integrating Portable Devices with Windows Media Player


Starting with Windows Media Player 10, there are two ways to synchronize content with any portable device: Automatic and manual. The method you use will depend on the storage capacity of the device and your preferences. With smaller flash memorybased devices, you will likely want to manually synchronize content. Thats because such devices typically contain 256 MB to 1 GB of storage space, good for a few albums to several albums worth of music. These devices are also physically small, so theyre perfect for the gym or a quick job. When youre ready to take such a device out, you can connect it to your PC through a USB connection, and Windows Media Player will display the dialog box shown in Figure 18-1. Here, you determine how youd like to synchronize with the device. Since its a smaller device, you should probably choose Manual. When you click Finish, WMP loads the Media Library and displays the Sync List, allowing you to drag songs over to be copied to the device. Once youre ready to synchronize, you can click Start Sync or navigate to the Sync section of the player user interface to perform the synchronization manually.

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Figure 18-1: Automatic or Manual synchronization: Its your choice.

USING AUTOMATIC SYNCHRONIZATION


Instead of manually copying music to the device, you may elect to perform an automatic sync. While this may seem like a bad idea for smaller devices, consider the possibilities: All you need to do is make a playlist that youll sync with the device. Then you can just ensure that that playlist contains the proper amount of music. You can set it all up before you connect the device, make the connection, and then watch it auto-sync. Synchronizing playlists with portable devices is somewhat tricky because each device has specific storage capabilities. In effect, you have to tailor your playlists to your specific device a playlists total length must not exceed the capabilities of your portable device. But you can also create multiple playlists and just drag over the songs you want, selecting a few from each playlist. Since Windows Media Player tells you how long each song (and each playlist) is, its easy to see right away how much capacity you have left and plan accordingly. As always, theres a catch. Windows Media Player includes a wonderful bit of functionality designed specifically for portable devices (even though it makes the amount of available space left on your device harder to gauge). Through a feature called transcoding, you can downgrade music as you copy it to a device. For example, you could configure Windows Media Player to downgrade, or transcode, audio to 128 or 64 Kbps when using a particular device. This lets you copy more music to smaller devices; the technology built into Windows Media Player provides reasonable audio quality, especially when you consider the background noise and aural distractions in the places where youre likely to play it back.

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To determine trancoding options for a particular device, launch WMP and choose Tools Options, and then navigate to the Devices tab. Select the device you want to configure from the list and then click the Properties button. Then, access the Quality tab, which is shown in Figure 18-2. Here, you can determine the quality level of music copied to that device.

Figure 18-2: While Windows Media Player will automatically handle transcoding issues for you, its possible to override manually that setting if you need to.

AVOIDING THE PITFALLS OF TRANSCODING


A couple of caveats here. The transcoding feature does work with MP3 files as well as the WMA format, but in my experience, WMA downgrades much more cleanly than does MP3. Also, transcoding is only as good as the source: Downgrading from 64 Kbps to 48 Kbps might not make much sense. You should experiment with varying quality levels before you hit the road and discover youve just recorded 45 minutes of scrambled mush. Also, transcoding is slow. When you choose to transcode media on the fly, copying music becomes a bit excruciating. Each song must first be converted to the new quality level before it is copied to the device. Given these limitations, I still recommend using this feature unless you have a device with humongous storage capacity (and, frankly, those devices are becoming more and more common). Otherwise, experiment with transcoding and see the kinds of results you can get. Just dont wait until the last minute before a flight to do the conversion; do all your transcoding ahead of time.

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AUTO SYNC A HARD DRIVEBASED DEVICE


If you have a hard drivebased portable audio player, its likely that the storage capacity of that device exceeds the total size of all the music in your Media Library. If thats the case, just set the device sync to Automatic and let it synchronize with all of your music. Wasnt that easy?

Use a Pocket PC
In 1996, Microsoft introduced Windows CE, its operating system for handheld PCs. The handhelds of the era were designed to offer much of the functionality youll find in a true PC, but with a smaller footprint and price. Windows CE was designed to look and feel like Windows so users and programmers alike could bring their Windows skills along for the ride when they ran out and adopted CE devices for their own. The anticipation seemed to make sense at the time but most of the first-generation devices that ran Windows CE offered tiny keyboards, hazy monochrome screens, and a clamshell design that was too small to type on but too big to fit in a pocket. They failed miserably in the market. Meanwhile, a company called Palm introduced a much smaller, much simpler, and less-expensive product called the Palm Pilot. These devices delivered only basic functionality, and were nothing like PCs, but they offered synchronization capabilities so people could transfer PIM information back and forth between the device and the PC. It was an instant success, and today, Palm and compatible products still dominate the market. Microsoft bounced back with a revision that included color; some manufacturers began building devices to run the new Windows CE (most were just a hair smaller than a laptop). These failed in the market as well. One small glimmer of hope came from the first generation of palm-sized PCs (originally called Palm PCs, though Palm Inc. soon put a stop to that). The palm-sized PCs still used the basic Windows desktop; they, too, failed to ignite dramatic sales. Perhaps mighty Microsoft was going to fail with its mini-OS. Indeed, by March 2000 the next version of Windows CE (version 3.0) was considered a make-or-break release for the company. If that failed in the market (as it seemed sure to do), Microsoft was going to pull the plug on its handheld products. Then, in April 2000, Microsoft announced the Pocket PC palm-sized devices from a variety of manufacturers running Windows CE. And something unexpected happened: They started selling and selling very well. Companies that had abandoned Windows CE were back with new devices, and new companies came on board with their own Pocket PC devices. A year after the release of the Pocket PC, Microsoft had established a true competitor in the handheld market and simultaneously resurrected the notion that everything the company makes only succeeds after three revisions. (From the perspective of someone who has been observing the PC industry for over a decade, I can honestly say that only the financial turnaround at Steve Jobs Apple Computer rivals the sudden turnaround experienced by Windows CE.) The secret to the success of the Pocket PC is simple: Microsoft finally listened to its users and made the machine they were asking for. Bringing the desktop Windows user interface to a handheld device might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but the market has proven that users want a simpler interface on a handheld. Todays Pocket PCs are extremely powerful, typically offer advanced wireless networking features, and are often expandable to include vast amounts of storage.

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Use Windows Media Player 10 Mobile with a Pocket PC


If you own a Pocket PC running Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition (SE) or higher, you might have access to a powerful new media player called Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, which makes synchronizing with content on your PC much easier. I say might because Microsoft, unfortunately, has elected not to widely distribute Windows Media Player 10 Mobile as it has with past versions; instead, it is only allowing Pocket PC makers to ship the product to new customers and to certain existing customers who purchased devices based on the initial version of Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition. Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, shown in Figure 18-3, offers many of the features weve come to expect from the desktop version of Windows Media Player. It features a Media Library, album art display during song playback, better support for playlists, simpler controls, and support for a wide range of media formats. Best of all, when you connect a Windows Media Player 10 Mobileequipped Pocket PC to a Windows XPbased PC running Windows Media Player 10, the Pocket PCs storage devices now show up in Windows Media Player as portable devices. That means you can automatically or manually synchronize content between your PC and Pocket PC in ways that are much simpler than used to be the case.

Figure 18-3: Windows Media Player 10 Mobile offers much of the functionality of its desktop-based brethren.

On the Web
For more information about Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, visit my review on the SuperSite for Windows: www.winsupersite.com/reviews/wmp10_mobile.asp.

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Use a Portable Media Center


First introduced in January 2003 under the codename Media2Go, devices based on Microsofts Portable Media Center platform finally shipped in late 2004. Essentially hard drivebased portable media players, Portable Media Centers offer 4-inch color screens and integrate with the digital photos, music, videos, and recorded TV shows on your Windows XPbased PC (the latter feature requires a Media Center PC, of course). Portable Media Centers, like the one shown in Figure 18-4, typically include 20 or 40 GB hard drives, but because of compression, they can store several thousands of songs and pictures each, and several full-length movies. At one point in late 2004, I had filled a 20 GB Portable Media Center with three feature length films (over 6 hours in total length), 2253 songs (239 albums), 5125 photos, and 18 home movies. And all of that content occupied just 13.29 GB of space, meaning I had over 5 GB free. Thats amazing.

Figure 18-4: The Creative Portable Media Center device.

Now, Portable Media Centers are not for everyone. Theyre rather large devices, about two and a half times the size of a typical iPod, so youre not going to take one with you while jogging, nor will one fit in your pocket. That said, Portable Media Centers are extremely versatile, because they work with so many different types of content. Theyre excellent for keeping the kids occupied on long car trips, and I bring one with me on plane flights.

Synchronizing Content with a Portable Media Center


When you connect a Portable Media Center to your PC for the first time, Windows automatically recognizes it as being a device that is compatible with a new technology called Media Transport Protocol (MTP). MTP ships as part of Windows Media Player 10, and it enables you to install compatible devices without any drivers. Those devices can then communicate their capabilities to the connected PC, and then transmit metadata bi-directionally (that is, if you edit song ratings on the Portable Media Center, for example, those ratings will synchronize with your PCs media library the next time you connect the device). Synchronization can be manual or automatic. If you choose automatic synchronization, Windows Media Player will attempt to copy as much of your media to the device as is possible, and it will

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reduce the size and quality of photos, movies, and even music files if it has to. Conversely, you could configure a Portable Media Center device to automatically sync with only parts of your Media Library. If you choose to synchronize manually, you will need to drag content into the WMP Sync List in order to copy it to the device. You manage synchronization from the Sync section in WMP. When you click the Sync Settings button, youll see the dialog box shown in Figure 18-5. Here, you can determine how the device synchronizes and, if you chose Automatic Sync, which playlists it will sync with.

Figure 18-5: Portable Media Center synchronization settings are highly configurable from within Windows Media Player.

Managing a Portable Media Center


To configure and manage a Portable Media Center, open Windows Media Player and navigate to the Media Library. You will see a new heading under Other Media in the Media Library tree view called Zen Portable Media Center (or similar). When you right-click this entry and choose Properties, youll see the dialog box shown in Figure 18-6. Here, you can rename your device, determine whether the folder hierarchy of your media folders (such as those in My Pictures) are duplicated on the device, and whether the device syncs as soon as its connected to the PC. To configure how the device determines whether to convert, or transcode, content when its synchronized, access the Quality tab, shown in Figure 18-7. Here, you have a variety of options. By default, WMP will convert automatically music, video, and recorded TV show files to smaller sizes when they are synchronized. However, you can change this behavior if desired and determine how these files are modified if at all during synchronization. In my experience, I dont like to let WMP convert music files when copying. And I like to change the Video/TV quality level to be the best quality possible (800 Kbps), since lower-quality video files are often unacceptable looking to me. However, you should experiment with these values.

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Figure 18-6: The properties sheet for your Portable Media Center enables you to configure various settings.

Figure 18-7: Portable Media Center synchronization settings are highly configurable from within Windows Media Player.

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Part IV: Embracing the Digital Lifestyle

Synchronizing Content with a Portable Media Center from Media Center


If youre lucky enough to have a Media Center PC (see Chapter 17 for details), you can also synchronize with a Portable Media Center from within the Media Center interface. This can be handy for a number of reasons. First, if you do own a Media Center PC, its likely that youll be consuming digital media most often from within Media Center using a remote control. Second, its convenient: You dont need to leave Media Center, and can perform other tasks during sync. To synchronize a Portable Media Center device with Media Center, simply plug in the Portable Media Center while the Media Center interface is running. Media Center will ask you if youd like to synchronize. Choose Yes and youre good to go. In the future, you can trigger a synchronization simply by choosing More Programs from the Start Page; then choose Sync To Device (see Figure 18-8). Media Center will display a Sync Progress dialog box.

Figure 18-8: Newer devices like Portable Media Centers can be synchronized from directly within the Media Center environment.

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On the Web
For more information about Portable Media Centers, visit my review on the SuperSite for Windows: www .winsupersite.com/reviews/pmc.asp.

Use an Apple iPod


First released in late 2001, the Apple iPod, shown in Figure 18-9, is a hard drive-based portable audio player that natively integrates only with Apples iTunes and music purchased from the Apple iTunes Music Store, an online music service. Initially only moderately successful, the iPod roared to market dominance in 2003 and is, at the time of this writing, the best-selling portable audio device on the planet. As of early 2005, there are several kinds of iPods, including smallish iPod Minis, regular iPods with various capacity hard drives, a special edition U2 iPod with a black and red case, and a high-end iPod Photo, which features a color screen and can store photos in addition to music. Despite its general incompatibility with everything Microsoft, the iPod is a cultural phenomenon, and its common these days to see people wearing the iPods white earbud headphones in big cities across the United States. Part of the iPod success is its style: With its smooth and silky white form factor and elegant controls, the iPod is simply beautiful to look at. Part of it is the technology: The iPod is well-made, as is iTunes and other Apple software. But the biggest part of it is cachet: The iPod is an affordable luxury, and with college students and other young people snatching these devices up in record numbers, its hard to argue with the collective nature of peer pressure. When you purchase an iPod, you get a version of the iTunes software and Apples iPod Updater, which lets you manage your iPods firmware. Be sure to download the latest versions of these products from the Apple Web site (www.apple.com), however, as Apple updates both iTunes and the iPod Updater regularly.

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Figure 18-9: The iPod Photo is colorful, beautiful, and trend-setting.

Managing an iPod with iTunes


Most iPod users will use Apples free iTunes application, shown in Figure 18-10, to manage their iPod. Apple iTunes serves three purposes, and it does all of them well. First, it is a general-purpose media player and media organizer, similar to Windows Media Player, though it only handles music files. Second, iTunes serves as the front-end to Apples highly successful iTunes Music Store, the most popular online music service on the planet. And third, iTunes can be used to manage your iPod. With iTunes, you can configure how songs are synchronized between your PC and the device.

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Figure 18-10: Apple iTunes is simple, elegant, and a joy to use.

Note
Because the iPod doesnt support the WMA format natively, you must first convert any WMA songs you may have into a format the iPod does understand before they can be played on your device. The easiest way to do this is with iTunes: When you first install iTunes, it will scan your system looking for music files, which it will then import into its music library. If it finds any WMA files, it will ask you if it can convert them into MP3 format. This process is non-destructive: It will not delete any of the files it is converting.

Most people will likely choose to let iTunes automatically manage their iPod. If you choose this option, all of the music in your music library will be automatically copied to your device whenever you connect it to the PC.

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Part IV: Embracing the Digital Lifestyle

Purchasing Music at the iTunes Music Store


Apples iTunes Music Store, which you can access by clicking the Music Store link in the source pane of iTunes, is the standard by which all other online music stores are measured. As shown in Figure 18-11, the iTunes Music Store is simple looking, clearly laid out, and it features a number of ways to discover new music, including Billboard and radio charts, new releases, iMix playlists, celebrity playlists, and more.

Figure 18-11: The iTunes Music Store is the standard.

Browsing and purchasing music through the iTunes Music Store is very similar to the process outlined for WMA-based online music services in Chapter 6. However, you should be aware that because Apple uses the non-standard and proprietary Protected AAC format for its purchased music files, you will not be able to play those files outside of iTunes or an iPod. For this reason, you should create audio CDs of any music you purchase from iTunes and then re-rip that music back to your PC in a non-protected format like MP3. I also describe that process in Chapter 6.

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Taking Photos on the Road with an iPod Photo


The color iPod Photo includes two capabilities that other iPods lack. First, it includes a gorgeous color screen that displays album art during song playback, similar to, but a bit more limited than what you get with a Portable Media Center. Second, the iPod Photo can, as its name implies, store photos in addition to music. The iPod Photo can then be used as an admittedly hard-to-look-at slide show device (its tiny screen isnt well-suited to this task). Or, you can plug into directly into a TV using the bundled cables and display your slideshows on a bigger screen. On Windows-based machines, you can synchronize photos from one of three places: Using the contents of your My Pictures folder (which I recommend), using the contents of your Adobe Photoshop Elements photo library (which I dont recommend, even if you do use Photoshop Elements), or using a folder of your choice. You can then choose to copy all photos, or select the subfolders from which to sync, using the iPod Options dialog box in iTunes, as shown in Figure 18-12. By default, photos that are synchronized with the iPod Photo are converted to a smaller size so you can fit more of them in the device. However, you can also opt to include full resolution pictures as well, using the device as a photo archiving solution.

Figure 18-12: The iPod Photo includes a photo synchronization utility.

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Managing an iPod with Windows Media Player


If you absolutely must use your iPod with Windows Media Player, you will need to find a third-party utility that makes the otherwise impossible connection between the two possible. The best utility Ive found for this purpose is Mediafour XPlay, which costs about $30 (www.mediafour.com/ products/xplay/). XPlay enables you to do two things. First, you can access your iPod via an Explorer-like interface that is similar to the interfaces used by digital media products from Dell, Creative, and other WMAbased companies. Second, you can synchronize the contents of your WMP-based Media Library with the iPod. XPlay offers a host of other features, including the ability to copy files from your iPod, an action Apple expressly prevents, but the big reason to get it is for its WMP compatibility. If youre firmly in the Microsoft world when it comes to managing digital media but would like to use an iPod, this is a great way to go.

Tip
There is one other Windows-based offering that works well with iPods. RealNetworks RealPlayer 10.x also offers compatibility with Apples popular portable audio device. Better still, if you purchase music from the RealPlayer Music Store, available from within RealPlayer, then you can transfer that music to the iPod as well. You can find out more about RealPlayer from the RealNetworks Web site at www.realplayer.com.

Summary
Windows XP has always been the place to be for digital media, and thats never been truer than it is today. And thanks to its integrated support for a variety of portable device types, Windows XPbased PCs are no longer islands of functionality. Instead, you can take your digital media with you on the road and enjoy your memories, your favorite music, and other content from any place on earth at any time. Microsofts marketing slogan for this capability is Digital Entertainment Anywhere, and for once the hype lives up to the reality. Dont be restricted by artificial barriers. Its your life: Enjoy it.

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Index
Numerics
8MM analog video camera, 325 9SeriesDefault skin, 61 ADVC-50 digital video converter (Canopus), 145 album folders modifying, 9192 opening, 92 analog hole recordings, 157 Analog Recorder recording audio, 144, 152156 saving audio, 157 analog recordings, editing, 148150 analog video acquiring, 337341 defined, 323324 analog video cameras 8MM, 325 Hi-8, 325 Super VHS, 325 VHS, 324325 VHS-C, 325 analog-to-digital conversions challenges, 143144 hardware required, 144 software required, 144147 analog-to-digital converters (USB-based), 145 animations (home movies), 378 Apple AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) file format, 159 iPod, 445447, 450 iPod Photo, 449 iTunes application, 446447 iTunes Music Store, 159, 167168, 448 QuickTime player, 25 QuickTime streaming audio/video format, 2324 Aquarium skin, 61

A
AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) files playing, 14 proprietary status, 159 accessing digital cameras, 254 Media Library, 37, 50 online movie services, 342, 346 playlists, 110111 scanners, 233 acquiring analog video, 337341 digital photos manually, 264265 Media Center PC, 261264 Scanner and Camera Wizard, 254, 257260 digital video, 331336 Add to Library by Searching Computer dialog box, 1415 adding radio stations to My Stations list, 2021 songs to playlists, 111112 transitions, 364367 Adobe PhotoShop Elements, 209, 246 Premiere Elements, 397 Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) files playing, 14 proprietary status, 159 Advanced Tag Editor, 138139

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

451

452

Index
offline, 129130 progress bar, 132 quality, 123124 Shared Music, 98 step-by-step directions, 132133 stopping rip, 132 audio DVDs, 13 audio files backups, 174 creating unprotected versions of protected songs, 174 file size, 119 finding, 1415 Media Center PC, 2628 metadata auto-populating, 129 editing, 9294, 136139, 151152 entering manually, 129 moving, 9596 MP3, 120 My Music (Media Center PC), 406408 playing, 1415 playing all music in a folder, 103 portable audio devices, 181 quality, 119, 121 saving to disk, 151, 157 searching, 1415 Shared Music, 9698 storing in folders, 101 Windows Media Audio (WMA), 120121 Auto Play dialog box, 12, 127128

Atomic skin, 61 Audible.com audio books, 169 audio (analog source) editing, 148150 recording Plus! Analog Recorder, 152156 Windows Movie Maker (WMM), 145147 removing pops and hisses, 155 audio books, 169 audio buffering, 18 audio CDs burning, 114116 copying music to an audio CD, 109 Media Center PC, 2829 playing, 1113, 119 properties, 112114 recordable CD formats, 109110 ripping album art, 135 Album folders, 133134 analog copy type, 121122 audio formats, 123124 Auto Play dialog box, 127128 CD album information, 131132 content protection, 124125 correcting information, 131132 defined, 119 device configuration, 121 digital copy type, 121122 error correction, 121122 excluding songs, 130131 file-naming options, 126 Find Album Info button, 131 location of copied files, 125 Media Center PCs, 140142 metadata, 129

B
backups for audio files, 174 batteries for digital cameras, 251252 battery readouts (camcorders), 327

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index
Bluesky skin, 62 buffering audio, 18 buffering (WMP10), 76 Burn List, 49 burning audio CDs, 114116 DVDs Data DVD, 391 DVD Slide Show, 392 formats, 389390 recordable DVD drives, 389 recorded TV shows, 395396 resources required, 394 restricted content, 397 Video DVD, 391, 393394 Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, 390391 MP3/WMA DATA CDs, 117 Photo CDs, 223224 buying camcorders, 326327 music from online music services, 169173 BuyMusic.com online music service, 167 cost, 323 digital Digital 8 format, 326 features, 326 Mini-DV format, 326 solid state video formats, 326 image stabilization, 327 inputs, 327 LCD viewfinder, 327 panning, 330 remote control, 328 special effects, 328 still camera capabilities, 328 zoom feature, 328, 330 camera angles (DVD movies), 309 cameras. See digital cameras

453

Canopus ADVC-50 digital video converter, 145 Canvas skin, 62 capturing. See acquiring CD Writing Wizard, 223224 CDs (audio) burning, 114116 copying music to an audio CD, 109 Media Center PC, 2829 playing, 1113, 119 properties, 112114 recordable CD formats, 109110 ripping album art, 135 Album folders, 133134 analog copy type, 121122 audio formats, 123124 Auto Play dialog box, 127128 CD album information, 131132 content protection, 124125
continued

C
camcorders analog 8MM, 325 Hi-8, 325 Super VHS, 325 VHS, 324325 VHS-C, 325 battery readouts, 327 brands, 329 built-in features, 329 buying, 326327

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

454

Index
plug-ins (WMP10), 80 Portable Media Center, 442443 WMP10 (Windows Media Player 10), 304305 connection speed (WMP10), 76 Contents pane (Media Library), 3841 controls for WMP10, 11 converting analog to digital challenges, 143144 hardware required, 144 software required, 144147 copying CDs album art, 135 Album folders, 133134 analog copy type, 121122 audio formats, 123124 Auto Play dialog box, 127128 CD album information, 131132 content protection, 124125 correcting information, 131132 defined, 119 device configuration, 121 digital copy type, 121122 error correction, 121122 excluding songs, 130131 file-naming options, 126 Find Album Info button, 131 location of copied files, 125 Media Center PCs, 140142 metadata, 129 offline, 129130 progress bar, 132 quality, 123124 Shared Music, 98 step-by-step directions, 132133 stopping rip, 132

CDs (audio) continued correcting information, 131132 defined, 119 device configuration, 121 digital copy type, 121122 error correction, 121122 excluding songs, 130131 file-naming options, 126 Find Album Info button, 131 location of copied files, 125 Media Center PCs, 140142 metadata, 129 offline, 129130 progress bar, 132 quality, 123124 Shared Music, 98 step-by-step directions, 132133 stopping rip, 132 CDs (MP3/WMA DATA), 117 CF (CompactFlash), 250 choosing skins, 60 CinemaNow online movie service, 169, 313316 Classic skin, 62 clearing playlists, 46 closing WMP10, 9 color depth (scanners), 231 colors (WMP10), 5455 combining video clips, 360361 Compact skin, 63 CompactFlash (CF), 250 composite video, 323 configuring CD devices for ripping CDs, 121 Media Center Extender, 427428 Media Library, 78

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index
copying music to an audio CD, 109 Corporate skin, 63 Court TV Extra, 169 creating media server, 101103 playlists, 4244, 104106, 110 shortcut, 9 slide shows, 200 unprotected versions of protected songs, 174 credits (home movies), 372, 377378 cross-fading (WMP10), 55 customizing WMP10 colors, 5455 cross-fading settings, 55 graphics equalizer, 55 List pane, 5253 menu bar, 5051 skins Aquarium, 61 Atomic, 61 Bluesky, 62 Canvas, 62 choosing, 59 Classic, 62 Compact, 63 Corporate, 63 DaVinci, 63 defined, 59 Goo, 64 Headspace, 64 Heart, 64 Iconic, 65 Leaves, 65 Miniplayer, 65 9SeriesDefault, 61 Optik, 65 Plus! Bionic Dot, 66 Plus! Hard Boiled, 66 Plus! HueShifter, 66 Plus! Mecha, 66 Plus! PlasmaBall, 67 Plus! Professional, 67 Plus! Pulsar, 67 Plus! Slimline, 67 Pyrite, 68 QuickSilver, 68 Radio, 68 Revert, 68 Roundlet, 68 Rusty, 69 Space, 69 Splat, 69 Toothy, 70 Windows Classic, 70 Windows XP, 70 volume-leveling options, 55

455

D
Dancer, 3334 Data DVD, 391 DaVinci skin, 63 deleting plug-ins (WMP10), 79 skins, 72 transitions, 367 deleting photos from digital camera, 257, 259 desktop backgrounds, 202 Details pane (Media Library), 38, 4042 Details view (photos), 195199

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

456
detecting

Index
previewing, 255 properties, 255256 taking, 255256 resolution, 250 Scanner and Camera Wizard, 253 SD-to-PC card adapter, 252 storage formats, 250251 USB ports, 251 Digital 8 format digital video camera, 326 Digital Image Pro (Microsoft), 209210, 246 Digital Media applications, 405 digital movies. See movies Digital Rights Management (DRM), 160161, 397 digital video, acquiring from camcorders, 331336 digital video cameras battery readouts, 327 brands, 329 built-in features, 329 cost, 323 Digital 8 format, 326 features, 326 image stabilization, 327 inputs, 327 LCD viewfinder, 327 Mini-DV format, 326 panning, 330 remote control, 328 solid state video formats, 326 special effects, 328 still camera capabilities, 328 zoom feature, 328, 330 downloading movie purchases from online movie services, 343346

digital cameras, 252253 scanners, 231232 Devices options (WMP10), 7475 digital audio files backups, 174 creating unprotected versions of protected songs, 174 file size, 119 finding, 1415 Media Center PC, 2628 metadata auto-populating, 129 editing, 9294, 136139, 151152 entering manually, 129 moving, 9596 MP3, 120 My Music (Media Center PC), 406408 playing, 1415 playing all music in a folder, 103 portable audio devices, 181 quality, 119, 121 searching, 1415 Shared Music, 9698 storing in folders, 101 Windows Media Audio (WMA), 120121 digital cameras accessing, 254 batteries, 251252 common features, 251 detecting, 252253 megapixels (MP), 250 photos deleting, 257, 259 downloading, 254, 257265 Media Center PC, 261264

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index
photos from digital camera manually, 264265 Media Center PC, 261264 Scanner and Camera Wizard, 254, 257260 Windows Media Player 10 (WMP10), 3 downloading music. See online music services DRM (Digital Rights Management), 160161, 397 DVD Decoder Packs, 306 DVD Forum, 389390 DVD options (WMP10), 8384 DVD player (Media Center Extender), 424 DVD+RW Alliance, 390 DVDs audio, 13 burning movies, 390394 recorded TV shows, 395396 restricted content, 397 camera angles, 309 Data DVD, 391 DVD Slide Show, 392 formats, 389390 Media Center PC, 322 Media Information pane, 309310 movie-making alternatives Adobe Premiere Elements, 397 Nero Ultra Edition, 398 Roxio Easy Media Creator, 398 Sonic MyDVD, 398 playback controls, 311 playing, 305309 recordable DVD drives, 389 storage capacity, 390 testing, 394 user interface, 394395 Video DVD, 391394

457

E
Easy Media Creator Suite (Roxio), 398 editing analog recordings, 148150 metadata (audio files), 9294, 136139, 151152 metadata of audio files, 151152 playlists, 4647 Plus! Photo Story slide shows, 294 property sheet (photos), 189190 Registry, 98, 123 scanned images, 244246 editing photos. See photo-editing 8MM analog video camera, 325 emailing home movies, 385 media clips, 5657 photos, 219221 slide shows, 288 Enhancements pane (WMP10), 5354 error correction (ripping CDs), 121122 exiting WMP10, 9 Extender. See Media Center Extenders

F
file types, 78 file types options (WMP10), 83 film scanners, 242243 Filmstrip view (photos), 192193 finding media files, 1415 skins, 71 streaming audio files, 2223

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

458

Index
Nero Ultra Edition, 398 Roxio Easy Media Creator, 398 Sonic MyDVD, 398 emailing, 385 formats, 304 My Videos folder (Windows XP), 301303 My Videos (Media Center PC), 317318, 410411 narration, 379381 playing, 303304 saving, 381384 special effects, 368371 titles, 372376 transitions adding, 364367 deleting, 367 previewing, 365, 367 selecting, 364 Video DVD, 391394 Web sites, 385386 HP (Hewlett-Packard) Media Center Extender, 425426 Media Center PCs, 403

FireWire connections for camcorders, 327 flatbed scanners accessing, 233 color depth, 231 detecting, 231232 installing, 231232 resolution, 230231 testing, 232 USB ports, 229230 Windows Image Acquisition (WIA), 230 folder templates, 196197 folder types, 196197 Full Mode (WMP10), 45, 71 F.Y.E. Download Zone, 163

G
Goo skin, 64 graphics equalizer (WMP10), 55

H
handheld PCs. See portable devices HDCD Web site, 12 HDCDs (High Definition CDs), 12 Headspace skin, 64 Heart skin, 64 Hewlett-Packard (HP) Media Center Extender, 425426 Media Center PCs, 403 Hi-8 analog video camera, 325 High Definition CDs (HDCDs), 12 HighMAT CDs, 287288 home movies animations, 378 credits, 372, 377378 DV camcorders, 386387 DVD movie-making alternatives Adobe Premiere Elements, 397

I
Iconic skin, 65 Icons view (photos), 194195 IEEE-1394 connections for digital camcorders, 327 iLink connections for digital camcorders, 327 illegal music. See piracy of music image stabilization (camcorders), 327 images. See photos importing. See downloading Info Center View (WMP10), 3132 inputs for camcorders, 327 installing Media Center Extender, 426427 plug-ins (WMP10), 79

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index
scanners, 231232 interface. See user interface Internet radio stations adding to My Stations list, 2021 Fan Favorites preset, 17 Featured Stations preset, 17 free radio stations, 19 listening to, 1618 local stations, 1718 Media Center PC, 2930 Media Guide, 11 MSN Radio Plus subscription service, 19 My Stations preset, 2021 recording, 157 removing from My Stations list, 21 iPod (Apple), 445447, 450 iPod Photo (Apple), 449 IR blaster, 403 iTunes application (Apple), 446447 iTunes Music Store, 159, 167168, 448 audio CDs, 1113 digital audio files, 1415 DVD audio, 13 High Definition CDs (HDCDs), 12 MIDI format files, 14 MP3 files, 14 WAV format files, 14

459

Windows Media Audio (WMA) format files, 14 live TV recordings, 341

M
Map Network Drive Wizard, 102 Media Center Extenders adding additional Extenders, 430 configuring, 427428 connections, 427 defined, 402 DVD player, 424 features, 423424 installing, 426427 limitations, 424425 Media Center Extender Manager utility, 428430 Network Performance Tuner utility, 428, 432433 networking, 425 online music services, 180 PC resources, 424 photo-sharing, 224 properties, 430431 removing, 432 set-top box devices, 425426 software, 427 TV tuners, 424 updating, 430431 Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, 425

J
Janus-compatible portable devices, 175179

K
keyboard shortcuts (WMP10), 5051 Kodak Ofoto photo printing service, 215

L
LCD viewfinder (camcorders), 327 Leaves skin, 65 Linksys Media Center Extender, 425426 List pane (Media Library), 38, 5253 List view (photos), 195 listening to Internet radio stations, 1618 listening to music Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) files, 14

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

460

Index
recording service, 405 recording TV shows, 414415 tuners, 403, 424 user interface, 404405 visualizations, 33 Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, 402406 media clips e-mailing, 5657 sharing, 5557 media files finding, 1415 types, 78 Media Guide Full Mode, 10 Internet radio stations, 11 Microsoft MSN Music online music store, 11 navigating, 10 Skin Mode, 10 streaming audio/video, 11 updates, 9 Media Information pane DVD movies, 309310 Media Library, 3839 Media Library accessing, 37, 50 configuring, 78 Contents pane, 3841 Details pane, 38, 4042 editing metadata, 136137 List pane, 38, 5253 Media Information pane, 3839 media readers, 404 media server, 101103 Media Transport Protocol (MTP), 441

Xbox, 426 Media Center PCs appearance, 401, 423 audio CDs, 2829 best location for, 401402 bugs, 402, 423 cost, 401 digital audio files, 2628 Digital Media applications, 405 downloading photos (from digital cameras), 261264 DVDs, 322 Hewlett-Packard (HP), 403 integration with WMP10, 29 Internet radio stations, 2930 IR blaster, 403 media readers, 404 Messenger service, 421 My Music, 2628, 406408 My Pictures, 408410 My TV, 319321 My Videos, 317318, 410411 online movie services, 322 online music services, 179181 online services, 419421 photo-editing tools, 244245 photo-sharing, 224225 Portable Media Center, 444 printing photos, 214215 remote control, 403 ripping CDs, 140142 TV live TV, 411413 program guide, 405 recording movies, 416419

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index
Mediafour XPlay, 450 megapixels (MP), 250 MemoryStick, 251 menu bar (WMP10), 5051 Messenger service, 421 metadata audio files auto-populating, 129 editing, 9294, 136139, 151152 entering manually, 129 photos, 189191 Microsoft Digital Image Pro, 209210, 246 Digital Rights Management (DRM) scheme, 160 Messenger service, 421 Microsoft Windows Media Web site, 121 MSN Music, 11, 162164 Paint, 203204 Pocket PC, 439440 Portable Media Center, 441444 PowerToys, 99, 297 TweakMP PowerToy, 126 TweakUI, 99100 Web site, 3 Windows Media Audio (WMA), 120121 Windows XP Video Screen Saver PowerToy, 297 Xbox Media Center Extender, 426 MIDI files, 14 Mini-DV format digital video camera, 326 Miniplayer skin, 65 MLB.com subscription service, 169 modifying album folders, 9192 Movie Link online movie service, 169 movie services. See online movie services movies animations, 378 credits, 372, 377378 DV camcorders, 386387 DVD movie-making alternatives Adobe Premiere Elements, 397 Nero Ultra Edition, 398 Roxio Easy Media Creator, 398 Sonic MyDVD, 398 emailing, 385 formats, 304 My TV (Media Center PC), 319321

461

My Videos folder (Windows XP), 301303 My Videos (Media Center PC), 317318, 410411 narration, 379381 playing, 303304 renting online, 312316 saving, 381384 special effects, 369371 titles, 372376 Video DVD, 391394 Web sites, 385386 moving audio files, 9596 My Documents folder, 9899 MP (megapixels), 250 MP3 files, 14, 120 MP3/WMA DATA CDs, 117 MSN Music, 11, 162164 MSN Radio Plus subscription service, 19 MTP (Media Transport Protocol), 441 multi-function media readers, 404 music CDs. See audio CDs

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

462

Index
9SeriesDefault skin, 61 Now Playing List, 4749 Now Playing views (WMP10), 31

music files. See digital audio files music piracy Digital Rights Management (DRM), 160 Napster file-sharing service, 159 music playlists, 173 music services. See online music services MusicMatch Downloads, 164165 MusicNow online music service, 164165 My Documents folder, 9899 My Music folder (Windows XP), 8791, 301 My Music (Media Center PC), 2628, 406408 My Pictures folder (Windows XP), 87, 185187 My Pictures (Media Center PC), 408410 My Stations preset, 2021 My TV (Media Center PC), 319321 My Videos folder (Windows XP), 301303 My Videos (Media Center PC), 317318, 410411

O
online movie services accessing, 342, 346 CinemaNow, 169, 313316 downloading movie purchases, 343346 Media Center PC, 322 Movie Link, 169 subscriptions, 316, 342 online music services buying music, 169173 BuyMusic.com, 167 Digital Rights Management (DRM), 160161 F.Y.E. Download Zone, 163 iTunes Music Store, 159, 167168, 448 Media Center Extender, 180 Media Center PC, 179181 MSN Music, 11, 162164 MusicMatch Downloads, 164165 MusicNow, 164165 Napster, 166, 176179 playlists, 173 Puretracks, 166167 RealPlayer Music Store, 169 subscriptions, 174175 Virgin Digital, 169 Wal-Mart Music Downloads, 162, 167168 online photo printing services, 240241 Online Print Ordering Wizard, 215216 opening album folders, 92 Optik skin, 65 ordering photo prints online, 215217 organizing photos, 191192

N
naming playlists, 4445 scanned images, 238 Napster online music service, 166, 176179 original file-sharing service, 159 narration home movies, 379381 slide shows, 280281, 293 navigating Contents pane (Media Library), 41 Media Guide, 10 Nero Ultra Edition, 398 network buffering (WMP10), 76 network options (WMP10), 84 Network Performance Tuner utility, 428, 432433 networking with Media Center Extender, 425

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index

463

P
Paint (Microsoft), 203204 Paint .NET, 210211 Palm Pilot, 439 panning feature on camcorders, 330 Party Mode, 3435 Performance options (WMP10), 7576 Photo CDs, 223 photo editing Adobe PhotoShop Elements, 209, 246 Auto Fix, 246 automation, 246 blemish correction, 246 brightness correction, 246 color correction, 246 contrast correction, 244, 246 cropping, 244, 246 dust correction, 246 levels correction, 246 Media Center, 244245 Microsoft Digital Image Pro, 209210 Microsoft Paint, 203204 Paint .NET, 210211 Quick Fix, 246 red-eye correction, 244, 246 resizing, 246 rotating, 244, 246 scratch correction, 246 sharpness correction, 246 Smart Fix, 246 Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, 205208 Photo Printing Wizard, 211214 photo slide shows creating, 200 DVD Slide Show, 392

Plus! Photo Story animations, 292 editing, 294 importing photos, 289291 music, 293 narration, 293 viewing, 291 screensavers, 200201, 296297 Windows Movie Maker (WMM) DV camcorders, 288289 emailing, 288 fade effects, 275276 HighMAT CD, 287288 importing photos, 269270 music, 276279 narration, 280281 photo display time, 272 saving, 283287 Timeline, 270272 transitions, 272275 video effects, 281283 Web sites, 288 photos. See also scanned images desktop backgrounds, 202 Details view, 195199 digital cameras deleting, 257, 259 downloading, 254, 257265 Media Center PC, 261264 previewing, 255 taking, 255256 emailing, 219221 Filmstrip view, 192193 Icons view, 194195 iPod Photo (Apple), 449 List view, 195

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

464

Index
photo-sharing services, 217 PhotoShop Elements (Adobe), 209, 246 piracy of music Digital Rights Management (DRM), 160 Napster file-sharing service, 159 playback speed (WMP10), 5758 Player options (WMP10), 7273 playing audio Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) files, 14 CDs, 1113, 119 digital audio files, 1415, 2628 DVDs, 13 MIDI format files, 14 MP3 files, 14 streaming audio files, 2122 WAV format files, 14 Windows Media Audio (WMA) format files, 14 DVDs, 305309 High Definition CDs (HDCDs), 12 movies, 303304 streaming video, 311 playlists accessing, 110111 adding songs, 111112 Burn List, 49 clearing, 46 creating, 4244, 104106, 110 defined, 42 editing, 4647 mix and match, 173 Now Playing List, 4749 renaming, 4445 repeating, 46 setting options, 4546 shuffling songs, 46

photos continued metadata, 189191 My Pictures folder (Windows XP), 87, 185187 My Pictures (Media Center PC), 408410 online photo printing services, 240241 ordering prints online, 215217 organizing, 191192 printing Media Center PC, 214215 Photo Printing Wizard, 211213 properties, 255256 property sheet, 189190 publishing to a Web site, 240241 scanning, 233237, 240 screensavers, 200201 sharing email, 219221 home network, 222223 Internet, 217219 Media Center Extender, 224 Media Center PC, 224225 Photo CDs, 223224 Portable Media Center, 225 slide shows, 200 thumbnails, 187188, 193 Tiles view, 193194 viewing, 187188 Windows Movie Maker (WMM) fade effects, 275276 importing, 269270 photo display time, 272 slide shows, 267268 Storyboard view, 270272 Timeline, 270 transitions, 272275 Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, 187188, 202203

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index
sorting, 46 Sync List, 49 viewing, 112 Plays For Sure Web site, 181 plug-ins (WMP10), 7880 Plus! Analog Recorder recording audio, 144, 152156 saving audio, 157 Plus! Bionic Dot skin, 66 Plus! Dancer, 3334 Plus! Digital Media Edition, 144 Plus! Hard Boiled skin, 66 Plus! HueShifter skin, 66 Plus! Mecha skin, 66 Plus! Party Mode, 3435 Plus! Photo Story comparison with Windows Movie Maker (WMM), 295296 Movie CDs, 294295 slide shows animations, 292 editing, 294 importing photos, 289291 music, 293 narration, 293 viewing, 291 Plus! PlasmaBall skin, 67 Plus! Professional skin, 67 Plus! Pulsar skin, 67 Plus! Slimline skin, 67 Plus! SuperPack for Windows XP, 144 Pocket PC, 439440 portable devices iPod (Apple), 445447, 450 iPod Photo (Apple), 449 Palm Pilot, 439 Pocket PC (Microsoft), 439440

465

Portable Media Center (Microsoft), 441444 synchronizing, 436439 types, 436 USB ports, 436 WMP10 (Windows Media Player 10), 436439 Portable Media Center, 225, 441444 power management, 308 PowerToys, 99, 297 Premiere Elements (Adobe), 397 previewing photos on digital camera, 255 transitions, 365, 367 Print@FujiColor photo printing service, 215 printing photos Media Center PC, 214215 online photo printing services, 215217 Photo Printing Wizard, 211213 privacy options (WMP10), 7, 8081 properties audio CDs, 112114 Media Center Extender, 430431 photos, 255256 property sheet (photos), 189190 publishing photos to a Web site, 240241 Puretracks online music service, 166167 Pyrite skin, 68

Q
quality digital audio files, 119, 121 streaming audio files, 22 streaming video, 312 Quick Access Panel (WMP10), 50 QuickSilver skin, 68 QuickTime player, 25

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

466

Index
movies (Media Center PC), 416419 streaming audio, 157 TV shows (Media Center PC), 414415 video, 329330 Registry Editor, 98, 123 remote control camcorders, 328 Media Center PCs, 403 removing Media Center Extender, 432 pops and hisses from analog source audio, 155 radio stations from My Stations list, 21 renaming playlists, 4445 renting videos online, 312316 repeating playlists, 46 resolution analog video, 324 digital cameras, 250 digital video, 324 scanners, 230231 Revert skin, 68 Rip Music options (WMP10), 7374 ripping CDs album art, 135 Album folders, 133134 analog copy type, 121122 audio formats, 123124 Auto Play dialog box, 127128 CD album information, 131132 content protection, 124125 correcting information, 131132 defined, 119 device configuration, 121 digital copy type, 121122 error correction, 121122

QuickTime streaming audio/video format, 2324 Quiet Mode (WMP10), 58

R
radio Internet radio stations adding to My Stations list, 2021 Fan Favorites preset, 17 Featured Stations preset, 17 free radio stations, 19 listening to, 1618 local stations, 1718 Media Center PC, 2930 Media Guide, 11 MSN Radio Plus subscription service, 19 My Stations preset, 2021 recording, 157 removing from My Stations list, 21 satellite radio, 169 Radio skin, 68 Radio Tuner button (WMP10), 1617 RealNetworks RealAudio format, 2324 RealPlayer, 24 RealPlayer Music Store, 169 RealVideo format, 2324 Web site, 24 recordable CD formats, 109110 recordable DVD drives, 389 recording audio from an analog source Plus! Analog Recorder, 152156 Windows Movie Maker (WMM), 145147 Internet radio stations, 157 live TV, 341

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index
excluding songs, 130131 file-naming options, 126 Find Album Info button, 131 location of copied files, 125 Media Center PCs, 140142 metadata, 129 offline, 129130 progress bar, 132 quality, 123124 Shared Music, 98 step-by-step directions, 132133 stopping rip, 132 Roku Labs SoundBridge digital media receivers, 175 Roundlet skin, 68 Roxio Easy Media Creator, 398 Rusty skin, 69 detecting, 231232 installing, 231232 resolution, 230231 testing, 232 USB ports, 229230 Windows Image Acquisition (WIA), 230 scanning photos, 233237, 240 screensavers, 200201, 296297 SD (Secure Digital), 250 SD-to-PC card adapter, 252 searching media files, 1415 streaming audio files, 2223 Secure Digital (SD), 250 security options (WMP10), 82 setting playlist options, 4546 Shared Documents, 9697 Shared Music, 9698 sharing media clips, 5557 photos email, 219221 home network, 222223 Internet, 217219 Media Center Extender, 224 Media Center PC, 224225 Photo CDs, 223224 Portable Media Center, 225 slide shows, 283286 shooting video, 329330 Shop for music online task, 107108 shuffling songs in playlists, 46 Shutterfly photo printing service, 215 Skin Mode (WMP10), 45, 71

467

S
satellite radio, 169 Save Movie Wizard, 284286 saving audio files to disk, 151, 157 movies, 381384 scanned images, 238239 scanned images editing, 244246 naming, 238 saving, 238239 Scanner and Camera Wizard, 233237, 253 scanners film, 242243 flatbed accessing, 233 color depth, 231

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

468
skins

Index
Space, 69 Splat, 69 Toothy, 70 Windows Classic, 70 Windows XP, 70 slide shows creating, 200 DVD Slide Show, 392 Plus! Photo Story animations, 292 editing, 294 importing photos, 289291 music, 293 narration, 293 viewing, 291 screensavers, 200201, 296297 Windows Movie Maker (WMM) DV camcorders, 288289 emailing, 288 fade effects, 275276 HighMAT CD, 287288 importing photos, 269270 music, 276279 narration, 280281 photo display time, 272 saving, 283287 Timeline, 270272 transitions, 272275 video effects, 281283 Web sites, 288 snapping photos with a digital camera, 255256 solid state video formats, 326 Sonic MyDVD, 398 Sony MemoryStick/MemoryStick Pro, 251 sorting playlists, 46

Aquarium, 61 Atomic, 61 Bluesky, 62 Canvas, 62 choosing, 60 Classic, 62 Compact, 63 Corporate, 63 DaVinci, 63 defined, 59 deleting, 72 finding, 71 Goo, 64 Headspace, 64 Heart, 64 Iconic, 65 Leaves, 65 Miniplayer, 65 9SeriesDefault, 61 Optik, 65 Plus! Bionic Dot, 66 Plus! Hard Boiled, 66 Plus! HueShifter, 66 Plus! Mecha, 66 Plus! PlasmaBall, 67 Plus! Professional, 67 Plus! Pulsar, 67 Plus! Slimline, 67 Pyrite, 68 QuickSilver, 68 Radio, 68 Revert, 68 Roundlet, 68 Rusty, 69

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index
SoundBridge digital media receivers, 175 Space skin, 69 special effects camcorders, 328 Windows Movie Maker (WMM), 368371 Splat skin, 69 splitting video clips, 361362 SRS Labs Web site, 59 SRS WOW effects (WMP10), 5859 starting WMP10, 67 storage capacity of DVDs, 390 streaming audio finding, 2223 Media Guide, 11 playing, 2122 quality, 22 QuickTime, 2324 RealAudio format, 2324 recording, 157 searching, 2223 streaming video Media Guide, 11 playing, 311 quality, 312 QuickTime, 2324 RealVideo format, 2324 subscriptions Court TV Extra, 169 MLB.com, 169 online movie services, 316, 342 online music services, 174175 Super VHS analog video camera, 325 S-VHS analog video camera, 325 S-video, 323324 TV live TV, 341, 411413 program guide, 405 recording movies, 416419 recording service, 405 recording TV shows, 414415 TV tuners Media Center Extender, 424 Media Center PCs, 403, 424 TweakMP PowerToy, 126 TweakUI, 99100 Sync List, 49 synchronizing portable devices, 436439 Portable Media Center, 441444

469

T
taking photos with a digital camera, 255256 taskbar-based toolbar mode, 4, 6 testing DVDs, 394 scanners, 232 thumbnails (photos), 187188, 193 Tiles view (photos), 193194 titles (home movies), 372376 Toothy skin, 70 transcoding audio, 437438 transitions adding, 364367 deleting, 367 previewing, 365, 367 selecting, 364 slide shows, 272275 trimming video clips, 362363

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

470

Index
QuickTime, 2324 RealVideo format, 2324 S-video, 323324 Y/C signal video, 323324 video acceleration (WMP10), 77 video cameras analog 8MM, 325 Hi-8, 325 Super VHS, 325 VHS, 324325 VHS-C, 325 battery readouts, 327 brands, 329 built-in features, 329 buying, 326327 cost, 323 digital Digital 8 format, 326 features, 326 Mini-DV format, 326 solid state video formats, 326 inputs, 327 LCD viewfinder, 327 panning, 330 remote control, 328 special effects, 328 still camera capabilities, 328 zoom feature, 328, 330 Video Capture Wizard, 333 Video CD (VCD), 294295, 383 video clips combining, 360361 splitting, 361362 trimming, 362363

U
unprotected versions of protected songs, 174 updating Media Center Extender, 430431 Windows Media Player, 8485 upgrades to WMP8 (Windows Media Player 8), 3 USB ports analog-to-digital converters, 145 digital cameras, 251 portable devices, 436 scanners, 229230 user interface DVDs, 394395 Media Center PCs, 404405 Windows Media Player 10 (WMP10), 4 Windows Movie Maker (WMM), 350351

V
VCD (Video CD), 294295, 383 VHS analog video camera, 324325 VHS-C analog video camera, 325 video acquiring analog video, 338341 digital video, 331336 analog, 323324 composite, 323 digital, 323324 importing into Windows Movie Maker (WMM), 355356 recording, 329330 streaming Media Guide, 11 playing, 311 quality, 312

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index
video editing with Windows Movie Maker (WMM), 357358 video effects for slide shows, 281283 video settings (WMP10), 59 videos formats, 304 My Videos folder (Windows XP), 301303 My Videos (Media Center PC), 317318, 410411 playing, 303304 renting online, 312316 Video DVD, 391394 viewing photos, 187188 playlists, 112 Virgin Digital online music service, 169 visualizations, 3233 volume-leveling options (WMP10), 55 SRS Labs, 59 Windows update, 3 Windows Classic skin, 70 Windows Dancer, 3334 Windows Image Acquisition (WIA), 230 Windows Media Audio (WMA), 14, 120121

471

Windows Media Connect (WM Connect), 175 Windows Media Player 8 (WMP8), 3 Windows Media Player 9 (WMP9), 3 Windows Media Player 10 (WMP10). See WMP10 (Windows Media Player 10) Windows Media Player 10 Mobile, 440 Windows Movie Maker (WMM) animations, 378 collections, 351353, 356 Collections pane, 351352 Contents pane, 353 credits, 372, 377378 editing audio, 148150 fonts, 379 importing video, 355356 Monitor pane, 353354 Movie Tasks pane, 351352 narration, 379381 projects information, 360 previewing, 358359 saving, 358 recording audio, 144147 saving audio files to disk, 151 slide shows comparison with Plus! Photo Story, 295296 fade effects, 275276 HighMAT CDs, 287288

W
Wal-Mart Music Downloads, 162, 167168 WAV files, 14 Web Publishing Wizard, 217219, 240 Web sites Adobe, 397 HDCD, 12 Mediafour XPlay, 450 Microsoft, 3 Microsoft Windows Media, 121 Nero Ultra Edition, 398 Plays For Sure, 181 RealNetworks, 24 Roxio Easy Media Creator, 398 slide shows, 288 Sonic MyDVD, 398

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

472

Index
Media Center PCs, 402406 photo-editing, 205208 Windows XP skin, 70 Windows XP Video Screen Saver PowerToy, 297 WinInfo Daily Update mailing list, 85 wizards CD Writing Wizard, 223224 Map Network Drive Wizard, 102 Online Print Ordering Wizard, 215216 Photo Printing Wizard, 211214 Save Movie Wizard, 284286 Scanner and Camera Wizard, 233237, 253 Video Capture Wizard, 333 Web Publishing Wizard, 217219, 240 WM Connect (Windows Media Connect), 175 WMA (Windows Media Audio), 14, 120121 WMM (Windows Movie Maker). See Windows Movie Maker (WMM) WMP8 (Windows Media Player 8), 3 WMP9 (Windows Media Player 9), 3 WMP10 (Windows Media Player 10) buffering, 76 closing, 9 colors, 5455 configuring, 304305 connection speed, 76 controls, 11 cross-fading, 55 Devices options, 7475 downloading, 3 DVD Decoder Packs, 306 DVD options, 8384 Enhancements pane, 5354 exiting, 9 features, 4 file types options, 83

Windows Movie Maker (WMM) continued importing photos, 269270 music, 276279 narration, 280281 photo display time, 272 Save Movie Wizard, 284286 Storyboard view, 270272 Timeline, 270 transitions, 272275 video effects, 281283 source content management, 356 special effects, 368371 Storyboard view, 354 Storyboard/Timeline pane, 353354 tasks, 350 Timeline view, 354355 titles, 372376 transitions adding, 364367 deleting, 367 previewing, 365, 367 selecting, 364 slide shows, 272275 user interface, 350351 versions, 267, 349 video clips combining, 360361 splitting, 361362 trimming, 362363 video editing, 357358 Windows Party Mode, 3435 Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, 187188, 202203 Windows update Web site, 3 Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 DVD burning, 390 Media Center Extenders, 425

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

Index
Full Mode, 45, 71 graphics equalizer, 55 Info Center View, 3132 integration with Media Center PC, 29 iPod (Apple), 450 keyboard shortcuts, 5051 List pane, 5253 media file types, 78 Media Guide, 911 Media Library options, 78 menu bar, 5051 network buffering, 76 network options, 84 Now Playing views, 31 online music services, 162 Performance options, 7576 playback speed, 5758 Player options, 7273 plug-ins, 7880 portable devices, 436439 privacy options, 7, 8081 Quick Access Panel, 50 Quiet Mode, 58 Radio Tuner button, 1617 Rip Music options, 7374 security options, 82 sharing media clips, 5557 shortcut, 9 Skin Mode, 45, 71 skins Aquarium, 61 Atomic, 61 Bluesky, 62 Canvas, 62 choosing, 60 Classic, 62 Compact, 63 Corporate, 63 DaVinci, 63 defined, 59 deleting, 72 finding, 71 Goo, 64 Headspace, 64 Heart, 64 Iconic, 65 Leaves, 65 Miniplayer, 65 9SeriesDefault, 61 Optik, 65 Plus! Bionic Dot, 66 Plus! Hard Boiled, 66 Plus! HueShifter, 66 Plus! Mecha, 66 Plus! PlasmaBall, 67 Plus! Professional, 67 Plus! Pulsar, 67 Plus! Slimline, 67 Pyrite, 68 QuickSilver, 68 Radio, 68 Revert, 68 Roundlet, 68 Rusty, 69 Space, 69 Splat, 69 Toothy, 70 Windows Classic, 70 Windows XP, 70 SRS WOW effects, 5859 starting, 67 switching between modes, 71

473

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !

474

Index

WMP10 (Windows Media Player 10) continued taskbar-based toolbar mode, 4, 6 transcoding audio, 437438 TweakMP PowerToy, 126 updating, 8485 user interface, 4 video acceleration, 77 video settings, 59 visualizations, 3233 volume-leveling options, 55

X
Xbox Media Center Extender, 426 XM Radio Online, 169 XPlay (Mediafour), 450

Y
Y/C signal video, 323324

Z
zoom feature on camcorders, 328, 330

TEAM LinG - Live, Informative, Non-cost and Genuine !