Newsletter #103 - May 13, 2006
with Total Commander
A few weeks ago it took an hour to talk someone
through getting video from a DVD into Movie Maker. Last weekend
it took 3 hours with someone else. The difference was
in the basic computer skills between the two users... mostly
in their ability to do routine file management tasks.
Finding folders, creating a new folder, renaming a file,
moving files out of a downloaded zipped package, copying files
from one folder to another, etc.... all the little routine tasks done all
day long that add up to being fast and comfortable with your computer, and
being ready to tackle the more
challenging multimedia projects.
In digital or analog environments, file management is such a basic skill
that everyone assumes you know it... maybe you do, or maybe
you're too embarrassed to admit you don't... or maybe you think you know it, but
you really don't.
The analog world has file cabinets, hanging folders, closets
The digital world started by emulating the analog world... directories
and subdirectories that were later referred to as folders and subfolders...
attempts to translate our understanding of the analog world in the
digital. But no matter what you called them, people couldn't see those
With Vista (and the Apple operating system) the operating systems are
giving up trying to make the average user understand the real-world analogies...
just let the system manage things for you. You don't need to know where a file
is... it'll be there someplace. One statement I read about Vista said "...
no matter how much or how little you remember about a file, you'll be able to
find it in at least one of your virtual folders...."
I've been managing computer files from before computers had hard
drives, when the floppy discs were stored in shoe boxes... and I'm in the middle
of beta testing the Vista operating system... in many or most ways,
the files haven't changed. Nor has my primary tool for managing them. I realize
I'm not an average user and it's sometimes difficult to understand what a newbie
to computers, Movie Maker and Photo Story knows.
On DOS operating systems I used Norton Commander to
manage files... it didn't get carried forward into the Windows environment by
Symantec, so some diehard users created Windows Commander
to emulate it, and that later turned into Total Commander,
where it is today.
Let's take a quick look at Total Commander... it's a double-paned
window, in a way like Movie Maker with collections in the upper part and
projects in the lower, sometimes sharing the viewer/monitor. But in this case,
it's one view on the left and another on the right. The two panes can be
any folder of any drive in one, and any other one in the other.
I've noted two things in this snapshot, looking at my laptop's C
- the drive is a nominal 100 GB with 16.4 GB of free
- I've opted to see the 'Quick View Panel' in the right pane, which changes
dynamically as I select folders or files in the left pane. I selected the
Graphics and Images folder and in a split second the quick view tells
me there are 376 files in 28 folders (directories) in it, using
a total of 1.4 GB.
This app has lots of features to explore. I'll only
be hitting the highlights of those of most interest to users or Movie Maker
and Photo Story... features that pertain to multimedia files more so
than text documents, spreadsheets, and databases.
... before getting into it
further, here's a couple
Vista Corner... I downloaded build #5381
this week... it's billed as the "Ultimate Beta Interim English build" and it's
been the most difficult of the builds for me to install... the progressive
releases seem to be more and more demanding when it comes to hardware and
drivers. I've always had to add the audio driver, but this build also
needs custom setups of other multimedia controllers, things I don't yet
understand what and how to do.
P.S... follow-up note about the 5 free online hosts of Issue
many views and comments has there been? The viewing tally on the 3
services of the 5 that I put the two sample videos on... a couple weeks
Video - stats not provided
movie - 94 views; story - 34 views
movie - 39 views; story - 20 views
- stats not provided
Clips - movie - 242 views; story - 198
still waiting for the first comment to be
posted about either of them on any of the services.
submitted my first video with a price tag on it to Google
Video... the 'Mission to Mars' flick with my grandson Nick in it. I priced it at
99 cents to download and 19 cents for a 'day
pass'. Google provides potential purchasers with a 30 second
free sample. It took 8+ days from the uploaded WP4 file to get through
the process... a couple days to get to the status of "Video is verified;
stay tuned - it will be live shortly", and the rest of the time to go live,
which hasn't happened yet. I'll let you know when it does.
Newsletter #56 was about a Renaissance Handfasting
Ceremony... we'd call it an engagement today.
I'll be videoing the follow-up event on Sunday, May 28th... the
wedding ceremony in true renaissance style. Festivities like swordfights between the best man and
others will go all day, and I'm committed to get as much of the action
that I can.
looking forward to it. The bride and groom and I have a date tonight at
Barnes & Noble to go over the video game plan, which will include
a web-site, online videos, and a DVD.
purchased my first shotgun mic to mount on my
camcorder, for better audio... more focused sound with less
wind, crowd, camcorder motors, and other ambient noise. I just
received it, and did a couple quick tests to verify it works... I'll devote
next week's newsletter to it.
Knowing I'll be needing lots of hard drive space for
the editing... it's time for some serious file management, which fits with
the subject of this newsletter. I'll do checking and cleaning up
with Total Commander.
Vacation Planning - we'll be leaving in late
August... to Zurich for 21 days around Switzerland and Italy, over to
Istanbul for 5 days, and back home in late September. It'll be the first time
I've visited Europe with a camcorder. We'll be travelling with a tablet PC and
not my laptop, which could mean a 4 week break from
.... back to the main
We'll cover these aspects of the
browsing folders and
searching and reviewing to help
with pruning and archiving
quick access to commonly used
making or opening zipped
splitting large files to transport
on discs and reassemble elsewhere
copy files to and from
There are many features that won't be
covered. If you decide to try or use it, there will be plenty more for you
Browsing folders and
You can open Total Commander more
than once... like having multiple Internet Explorer browser windows open at the
same time.... at the right I show its directory (folder) tree
open in one of them, and browsing the contents of selected folders with another
copy... in the images shown below. Doing it that way means I don't
have to redo the directory scan after checking a selected folder.
Sometimes I'll be in a Movie Maker
folder playing with image and xml files in one pane, in my captured video folder
in another pane, in the custom profiles of Photo Story 3 in a 3rd pane, reaching
over to another computer of my network such as the Vista system in
another pane, etc... anything more than having two panes open at once needs a
second instance of the app.
If the quick view in the intro
section above, showing some drive and folder info, didn't
impress you, let's go down into some of the folders. Single clicking a
folder shows the quick view summary of its contents. Double clicking it opens it
and takes you into the contents.
Single clicking on a file shows you a
quick view, as best it can. If it's not enough, you can double-click it to open
the file in its associated app.
Here's a folder with
BMP images. Select a file (single click) and the quick view shows the
Here's a folder with audio (WAV)
files. Select a file and the quick view plays the tune so you can hear
Here's another folder with some
video files. Select a file and the quick view plays the movie. In this sample
it's playing a Photo Story 3 story.
Here it is in the Movie Maker
Shared\AddOnTFX folder, with files such as xml for custom
effects, transitions and title overlays. Select an XML file and the
quick view shows the text in it... besides reading, you can select some
text and copy it to another file.
Search, Review, Prune, Archive...
I know computer users who go through the life of a
computer without using more than 10 GB of space, without deleting or
archiving anything... they don't do multimedia work.
My C drive is a nominal 100 GB. External drives are E
with 105 GB, G with 75 GB, and H with 60 GB. With 340 GB of space
spread across 4 drives, finding files and managing them is
still a constant chore.
Let's assume I have time to review the movies I made
last year... here's how I'd step through doing it.
Use Commands > Search from the main menu > search for
all files ending with .wmv > include all 4 drives in the search > go to
the Advanced tab and set the search criteria to only find files dated
between Jan 1 and Dec 31 of 2005 > Press the Start search button
> the resulting list of 581 files is then sent to a working pane by
pressing the 'Feed to listbox' button.
Show > Quick View Panel turns the other panel into a media
viewer... as I go through the list, I can press the Delete button on my keyboard
for any of the files with no long term value.... archive the ones I
want to keep, by moving them someplace else... or just sit all day and enjoy
another viewing of last years videos.
The Thumbnail view of the left pane is probably better than
the list view, as you can see the first frame of each video without loading
it into the player.
The Show > Thumbnail view gets you what you expect... the
image if it's a still, or the first frame of a video.
It's one of the many features that parallels the viewing
of files in the Windows XP operating system.
I carry a 1/2 GB thumb drive around with me, which has all of
the tools I need... Total Commander uses only 2 MB of space, and I can run it
from the thumb drive on any computer from Windows 95 to Vista.
Note that I'm showing BMP files as thumbnails... one shortfall
of Total Commander is that it doesn't show JPG files this way... maybe with one
of the many plug-ins available for it, but not in the basic app.
Instant Access to Commonly Used Folders
I'm often in the Movie Maker subfolders to work on XML
... and in the Photo Story 3 folder to work on custom
... the Vista computer on my network to round up screen
... Bernadette's computer downstairs
The Control-D keyboard keys open this drop-down list of
commonly used folders. The folder can be on any computer in our home
It's an easy way to quickly get to folders in lower levels
such as those for "My Pictures" or "Recorded TV".
Make or Open Zipped Packages
If you want to make a zipped package to email or upload, there's
no need to go to another software package like WinZip.
Select the files and tell Total Commander to send them to a
compressed folder. It has zipping and unzipping features built into it.
When I told it to do it to the 3 selected png files, I got this
zipped package... Overlay9.zip.
It defaults to naming the zip file with the same name as the
first file in the selected group.
If you download or get a zipped package from someone,
you handle it as if it was a regular folder.
Here's what it looks like when I double-clicked the new
Overlay9.zip file... the 3 PNG files are in it.
Split a Large File to Transport or Store on CDs
If you have a large DV-AVI file and want to pack it onto
some CDs for future use as a source file, select the file and use Files >
It'll put the split parts in the folder that's in the other
pane... see the screen shot below.
It neatly cut this 2.1 GB DV-AVI file up into 4 parts, each
of which fits on a standard CD... the crc file is used to check the files and
help put them back together on the other computer, or on this one if I need it
again after deleting.
When I double-click the museum.001 file, Total Commander offers
to put the files back together.
Instead of putting them together, I tried renaming them to
an AVI extension.... the renamed museum.001 file played fine, both video
and audio. The other split segments didn't.
If all you wanted was a DV-AVI of the first part of the big one,
it's a way to get it sized to put on a CD...
This splitting feature could support you copying the source
files to discs and rebuilding them if and when needed. You can use data CDs
or DVDs to store the files.
Transfer Files to and from Websites
Maintaining a website requires the
uploading of files...
There are browser-based connections
provided by hosting services, but they are often awkward and slow...
The use of ftp (file transfer
protocol) is usually easier and faster. Total Commander includes ftp
The screen shots show the ftp
connection I use to maintain my website. When I select Net > FTP Connect from
the main menu, I select 1&1 - PapaJohn.org from the personalized
ftp list, and then the Connect button. In a few seconds the website is in
one pane and my local copy on the C drive in the other.
Setting up a new connection is as
easy as filling out a few lines... host name from your website host
provider, and your user name and password.
The optional but handy entries tell
Total Commander what folders you want to set as the defaults when you connect.
You can sync the remote and local folders.
Here's part of what it looks like
when I connect to my website at the 1&1 service. The left pane with some of
the info spray-painted over is the folder at 1&1. The right pane is the
same folder on my laptop's hard drive.
With Total Commander, folders on
servers are treated the same way as folders on your computer. See
from the message at the left... you can have up to 10 ftp connections open
at the same time.
If you have multiple websites on
one or many servers, you can have connections open to all of
The Quick View feature doesn't work
with the files on a server... but it works with those on other local hard
drives. If you don't know what a file is on a website, you need to download a
copy and look.
Conclusions and Closing
If you're using a computer to make movies and stories, you are already
doing file management... somehow. How you do it is by method(s) you're familiar
and comfortable with. You don't usually have time to try other methods... and
you may not have any reason to try something else.
All I hope to do with this newsletter is share
some info about how I do file management. If you see things in Total
Commander that fit your management style, try it out... you can decide to
use it a bit or a lot.
I'm a Microsoft MVP, but I'm not saying that My
Computer is my favorite or most used file management tool... nor am I
saying that file management in Vista is going to win me over from my long-term
use of Total Commander... I use My Computer regularly, but not near as much
as I use Total Commander.
Have a great week...