The Digital Workshop blog has moved

8 Jun

Thanks for visiting the ship’s website!  We haven’t shut down our blog operations, but rather we have moved all of our efforts into one main blog.  This is to ensure that the experience for you, the guest, is one that is slightly easier because of more frequent posts, fresher content, and knowing that everything is in one great place.  The URL for the new website is:

At this site you’ll find new content, great feedback from all of our Techsperts, as well as useful links like Handout Downloads, and great information from Windows.

Thank you all for your support and for following along with the Digital Workshop.


Microsoft Acquires Skype!

23 May


Skype has become an extremely popular program which is used by 170 million people to keep in touch though voice and video communication.  The big news is that Skype will now be added to Microsoft’s arsenal of tools.  On May 5th Microsoft announced the $8.5 billion dollar deal which quickly made headline news world-wide.  Here in the Digital Workshop we are excited about the possibilities that await us for incorporating this great tool in our sessions.  For our guests, Skype provides a fantastic way for them share their experiences with friends and family back home.  To read more about the acquisition, check out the press release on Microsoft’s website:  Skype

Land Ho!

18 Apr

After 7 consecutive days at sea we finally stepped foot on dry land.  The Nieuw Amsterdam will spend the next 6 months or so exploring the Mediterranean.  Most of the itineraries are 12 or 24 days and are packed with incredible ports of call!  Today we arrived in Barcelona after a brief stop in Madeira, Portugal, Gibraltar and a few Spanish cities.  From here we will head east, visiting a bit of Italy, Greece and Croatia until we arrive in Venice, Italy.  From there we will venture even further east eventually ending up in Istanbul, Turkey!  I look forward to sharing some photos with you from these amazing places as well as tips for how you can better work with your digital memories on your computer. 


6 Apr

Is your virus protection up-to-date?  Is your firewall on?  Are your internet security setting set to their recommended levels?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have one central place where we could find out how our computer is doing when it comes to security and maintenance?  Well, SURPRISE, there is!!  When Microsoft developed Windows 7, they listened to us consumers and gave us a one-stop-shop where we can monitor our computers status when it comes to these important areas:  the Action Center.  In the action center we can get a quick read on all that is security and maintenance.  It give us quick links to important activities, such as backing up our files and Windows updates, reports any issues we might be having(also providing suggestions of how to resolve them) and lets us know when programs have been updated.  The action center does away with the need to go to each individual tool to check its status.  In just a few second we can gather all the information we really need.  Here’s how you can get to the Action Center on your Windows 7 computer:

1.  In the start menu click on the “control panel” on the right right-hand side

1 Start Menu Crtl Panel

2.  In the control panel, select “System and Security”

2 Ctrl Panel

3.  Click on “Action Center” at the top of the System and Security window. (notice that this window also gives you access to many other important areas of your computers security and maintenance)

3 Action Center

4.  You may need to click on the small arrow to the right of “security” or “maintenance”.  Here you will see a list or relevant information that you can quickly glance at to make sure everything is set correctly and running smoothly.

4 Action Center

(if you want to save a few click try searching for “action” in the instant search bar at the base of your start menu)

Internet Explorer 9

20 Mar

ie9When I am exploring the internet there are a few things that I need to have:  Speed, good looking webpages, and security.   Microsoft has just released its latest version of Internet Explorer which, I believe, now offers us a great balance of all of these.  There are too many features to mention here, but I do want to highlight a few of my favorites.

  1. Better Performance:  These days most websites incorporate a lot of multimedia and interactivity.  Internet Explorer 9 has greatly improved on its ability to load websites and applications especially when it comes to text, videos and graphics.  It now touts hardware-accelerated  media, meaning that websites work kind of like software on your computer, fast and smooth!
  2. Windows 7 Integration:  Internet Explorer 9 work seamlessly with Windows 7, tapping into the many features that make your PC so easy to use.  Some of my favorites are the ability to pin websites to the taskbar as well as utilize jump lists to quickly navigate to the webpages that I visit most frequently.
  3. Resuming downloads:  Nothing is more annoying than losing your internet connection when you’re only seconds away from completing a download.  In the past we had to restart the download and wait all over again.  Not any more.  Now Internet Explorer allows us to resume a download after any sort of interruption…even after you restart your computer!!

To learn more about Internet Explorer 9 check out Internet Explorer 9


-techspert ryan

Quick Access Toolbar Awesomeness!!!!!!

23 Nov

This is Chris Jackson the Techspert writing you from the Caribbean onboard and in the ms Nieuw Amsterdam’s Digital Workshop sponsored by Microsoft. Today I am going to throw out a tip that I use religiously! The Quick Access Toolbar can be your best friend when you do routine tasks that are available in different tabs within the ribbon of most Microsoft software. I will be walking you through applying the Panorama Stitch function of Windows Live Photo Gallery to that applications quick access toolbar. Always look for this option with in all of the Windows Live Essentials Software and for that matter most of Microsoft’s software in general. This feature will save you lots of time if put to good use.

Open Windows Live Photo Gallery and Click on the Create tab


Now find the Panorama option within the tools segment of the Create Tab


Right Click on that Panorama and a drop down menu will appear. At the top of the drop down menu you will see Add to Quick Access Toolbar


Left Click on that option and look up to the top left corner of Windows Live Photo Gallery.


Now all you have to do to stich your next great panorama is to click on the stitch icon in the Quick Access Toolbar and you are up and running!

ms Nieuw Amsterdam – Techspert – Chris Jackson

Cursor Curiosities!!

13 Nov

Hello, this is Chris Jackson the Techspert onboard the ms Nieuw Amsterdam writing to you from within Microsoft’s and Holland America’s Digital Workshop. Through my experience onboard I have had a variety of people come up to me and ask me how to change the way their cursor appears to make the cursor easier to find. Well there are a couple of options that you can take advantage of to help you find your cursor faster and easier. To access these features read on!

Start Menu > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Mouse > Pointer Options Tab

Mouse 1

With in the the Red Box lies Snap to, Pointer Trails, and my favorite and most recommended the CTRL button beacon option. All of these can help you substantially find your cursor a little faster. When you change any of these options do not forget to click Apply and OK to finalize the settings!

Hope this Helps!

ms Nieuw Amsterdam – Techspert – Chris Jackson


Greetings from the ms Nieuw Amsterdam

19 Oct

This is Chris Jackson, the Techspert, writing to you from onboard the newest ship in Holland America’s fleet, the ms Nieuw Amsterdam. I arrived as of September 24 and I am enjoying the new ships atmosphere.To those of you who had already attended the Digital Workshop classes, thank you! To those who are planning on cruising onboard the Nieuw Amsterdam, I look forward to meeting and teaching you inside Microsoft’s Digital Workshop.

Techspert – Chris Jackson


10 Ways To Tune Up Your PC

5 Sep

Fellow Windows enthusiast Ron Doyle has written a fantastic article on some steps you can take to help tune up your PC. Check it out:

Many of these topics are covered in the Digital Workshop session “Safe and Sound.” The Digital Workshop powered by Windows is a great place to get comfortable with the computer. These free classes are provided exclusively aboard Holland America Line’s cruises. Hope to see you there soon!

-Techspert Chase

ms Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America Line

Windows Live Tags: clubhouse, how-to, windows, techspert

Techspert Tip: Make your photos POP with Pop Art!

13 Aug

Hello! This is Chase, the Techspert on the Nieuw Amsterdam at the Holland America Digital Workshop, powered by Windows. I’ve got a great tip for you to make the colors of your photos really POP! It’s called "pop art," and it’s easy to do in Windows Live Photo Gallery.

  1. Open Windows Live Photo Gallery (if you don’t have it already, download it for free at
  2. Open a photo you’d like to make into pop art by double-clicking on it. Photos with dramatic colors work best, but choose any one you like!
  3. Click Fix on the top menu bar.
  4. Click Adjust color and drag the slider for Saturation all the way to the right.
  5. Click Adjust exposure and drag the slider for Highlights all the way to the right, drag Shadows all the way to the right, drag Contrast all the way to the right, and finally drag Brightness a bit to the left (you want the tab underneath the “ss” in the word “brightness.”)
  6. Voila! You’ve now created a pop art image!

Other tips:

  • Try playing with some of the other settings, like Color Temperature and Tint. Depending on the photo you are working with, it may produce some cool results!
  • Try playing with the black and white tabs under the Histogram to create some interesting effects.
  • Remember you can always go back to the original photo by either clicking Undo or Revert at the bottom of the Fix menu.

Pop art is one of my favorite things to do in Windows Live Photo Gallery. Be sure to come to the Digital Workshop session, “Put Your Best Face Forward 2,” to learn more great photo editing tips. The classes are all free and provided exclusively aboard Holland America Line’s fleet of elegant cruise ships. Hope to see you soon!

-Techspert Chase

ms Nieuw Amsterdam, Holland America Line