Assuming you’ve gone ahead and made some collages in your free time, another thing you can do with them, of course, is put them into slideshows. I also use collage a lot in my Passage Express projects to break up the tedium of the text. It’s an easy way to interject some color and keep my viewers awake. Our ancestors did not actually live in an endless atmosphere of black, white and sepia.
Every Christmas I get at least one form-letter. If you do this sort of thing, or want to, how about a form-letter in the form of a slideshow instead? Many of us have digital cameras now, and it would be something different to go back through your collection and put together the year’s events as a picture show. Pick out the best in any month. Or gather together pictures for specific events.
You can hand-make divider pictures to indicate the months of the year, or slides that introduce particular events. Just start with a blank file in a graphics program. Even using Paint, Microsoft’s own, it’s possible to come up with something. Your family will be impressed no matter what. If you’ve never even seen Paint, it’s under Accessories in XP.
You can also add text to a photo or hand-made creation for added explanation, using something like the Draw Board demonstrated in the post on Photo Collage. Or you can interject pages with nothing but text. If you have not wasted a considerable amount of your life playing around in graphics programs you are missing half the fun of owning a computer.
Since the 3.3 version of FastStone Viewer it includes an option for saving slideshows as .exe files. (FastStone does not do automatic updates, so check back every month or so for what’s new.) If you’re in a hurry to make a gift, slide-shows are a no-brainer. You can throw one together here in a few minutes, with a choice of 156 transition effects. It’s not fancy enough to individualize each transition, as you can do in the larger programs, although you can pick ‘random’ if you like, or a selection of a few that it will use at random.
The text area is a little different. You can choose to add information from a list of specified fields, but I couldn’t make it add the original text that I wanted. Instead text can be added to “JPEG Comment” (on the main viewing screen through the menu on the right side. Double-clicking on any thumbnail will open that screen.) If you’ve already done this in other programs, being asked to do it again is um … tiring … but that’s where having no industry standard leaves us. So far, FastStone Viewer does not handle IPTC info but I’m still hoping.
Once you’ve added Comments to your chosen batch of pictures, you can pick the “JPEG comment” field to show for each or any of the slides. Don’t let the ($C2) throw you off. That simply tells the software what field(s) of information it should add to your slide. ($C2) stands for ‘File Name without extension.’ The JPEG Comment field is ($I). You don’t have to memorize anything. Just click on the one(s) you want. Or none.
If this seems too difficult, you always have the choice of adding text to your pictures before you start making the slide-show. Or skip the text and add music instead.
One note on .exe files. I don’t use Outlook Express but once in awhile I get reminded by someone else that it interprets all .exe’s as viruses. Unless you un-tick the box under Tools/Options/Security that says “Do not allow attachments to be saved or opened that could potentially be a virus.” If you have an anti-virus program with an email scanner that should be enough. That, and using your common sense.
If your recipient is afraid to un-tick the box and their mailbox will not let the slide-show file through, try putting it into a .zip folder first. (That’s described at my post about YouSendIt .) You might as well get a handle on this before it’s Christmas Day and your relatives are not receiving your digital gifts.
Of course your recipients will need a zip program. Surprisingly, not everyone has one. WinZip to zip is what Campbell’s is to soup. Or 7-zip. My all-time favorite is a Konfabulator (now called Yahoo! Widgets) widget called Zipper. Just a box with a short length of zipper. Everything you could want in zip software, including password-protection. I made a Zipper movie for my entertainment, and yours. It has a soundtrack, so be warned, turn your sound down if it’s up high.
There’s thousands of widgets to choose from. You can even get one to keep track of how many minutes you’ve been alive. That’ll get on your nerves I can tell you.
I don’t go crazy on these things. I just have my favorite few. Including an analog clock with a second-hand. I like to take my pulse every 50 or so census records and make sure I haven’t passed away. There’s also instructions for how to make widgets, so if anyone techie-bent thinks of one that would be useful to genealogists, jump right in there and let the rest of us know.