Freebie Web Slideshow

By Vince Barnes

Is Microsoft the Big Bad Wolf,
or your Best Friend?

Do you ever visit Microsoft's website?  If you don't, you are missing out on a veritable goldmine of useful information - and other great stuff!

It seems like Microsoft bashing isa popular thing to do, but I suspect that it's because the biggest target is the easiest to hit.  I say that because I'm in danger of sounding like a pro-Microsoft advocate here, even though they truly do seem to put a great deal of effort into helping you out.   That being said,  I'd like to point you towards some features that they offer that you may not be aware of that just might make your life a whole lot easier!

First, there's the knowledge base.  I am surprised at the number of people I encounter who use Windows based computers all the time, but are unaware of the knowledge base and what it can do for you.  Just in case you're one such person, here's a quick overview.

To get to the knowledge base, go to, in the left margin, mouse over or click on "Support" under "Resources", mouse over and select "Knowledge Base".  That's it!

Microsoft's knowledge base in a huge database of information pertaining to Microsoft products.  The web page you use to access this information is a simple search form.  If you have a question about, or a problem with, a Microsoft product, go to the page, select the product involved and type in your question, or keywords about the problem.  You will be amazed by how much information is there, and how frequently you can find the solution to your exact problem.  If you don't find it on your first try, change your keywords and try again.  Like any search facility, the more you use it, the more you become familiar with its workings and the more success you have using it.

By the way, the other option under "Support" is the support home page.  If you haven't been there either, you need to go and take a look around.  The product you already have in the computer is only a part of the story!

And now, another freebie! From Microsoft's home page, click on "Windows" under "Product Families".  This takes you to the main Windows page.  On the right, under "Windows XP" there's "Windows XP home page".  By the way - there's also a shortcut using Microsoft's neat navigation mechanism right in the address bar: type the product name after the site name like this:  That'll take you right there too.

Now take a look under "Top Downloads" on the right.  Click on "Powertoys".  See that list?  Read those descriptions and enjoy!

Let me highlight a couple of them for you.  First, there's "Tweakui".  While this little tool has been around for a long time, this version, customized for XP, enables you to EASILY reconfigure a great variety of system settings.  It's also just as easy to turn them back if you don't like them!  So go ahead, play around!

Another, and one which I'll close on for all you web developers out there, is the HTML Slide Show Wizard.  This powertoy is just great!  Download it, install it and run it.  Point it at a folder full of pictures you have, provide a name for a slide show to hold them, tweak the options if you wish and click finish.  In a few moments, a folder is created named with the name of your slide show, located where you told it to be (the default is "My Slide Shows" inside "My Documents" - which seems fine to me!) and containing an entire slide show in HTML!  All your pictures are resized to make them uniform (unless you told it not to) and all the navigation options you need are provided.  Simply take the entire folder and add it to your website. Done!  Your Slide show is now on the web!  You can't expect anything easier than that, can you?  And it's free!


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