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Creating Family Memories

By Jean Parks

When was the last time you were able to sit down with loved ones to look over an album of old family pictures? Families are increasingly on the go and those nearest and dearest to us are often flung far around the globe. Fortunately, we can turn our PC's into family memory centers, creating our very own virtual photo albums and movie theaters.

Let's take a look at 5 great free programs that will make creating family memories easier:

1. Smilebox – This site will allow you to turn your family pictures into scrap books, slideshows, invitations, collages and more. Smilebox also makes sharing via email, Facebook or your blog super easy. You can also print or burn your work to a DVD.

2. Photocollage.netPhotocollage features photo editing tools that allow you to create collages, photo animations and slideshows. You can design free-form masterpieces or use their large variety of templates and share them on Facebook. You can even produce images from your tweets on Twitter.

3. Picasa and Picasa Web AlbumsPicasa is Google’s solution for our need to quickly upload, organize and share pictures. The site features simple photo editing tools that will let you prepare and share pics. The service is quite feature-rich, so here's the Picasa Web guide  to get you started.

4. Photoshop Express – Created by Adobe, the free Photoshop Express tool gives you 2GB of storage, provides you with solid, basic photo editing tools, a personal gallery, templates and video streaming options.

5. Windows Live Essentials – The powerful Windows Live Essentials freeware suite features Windows Live Movie Maker, Live Photo Gallery, and Live Writer. Editing pics and creating and sharing slide shows and movies is a snap, even for beginners. Live Writer lets you quickly share your work on your family blog or website.

What kind of a PC do you need to do all of this?

Ideally, you should purchase a system with the fastest CPU you can afford, with lots of memory. The computer should be expandable and offer some upgrade options. It should be compatible with other commonly used devices and software applications. Lastly, the PC should be built by a manufacturer known for producing high quality hardware.

Consider a system such as the ASUS Essentio CM6870. The CM6870 is powered by the latest 3rd Generation Intel® Core™ processors, which provide an estimated 20 percent increase in CPU power and a 30 percent increase in graphics performance, while using up to 40 percent less energy.

And the CM6870 comes packed with plenty of multi-media muscle. There is 8GB of memory (upgradable to 16GB), almost 2TB of internal hard drive space with plenty of room for adding more, a blazingly fast HD graphics package, a Blu-Ray combo drive, a slew of front and rear USB ports, an HDMI output port, and an eight-channel audio panel for surround-sound systems.

Curious about ASUS Computers? You can chat with them on Facebook or get to know them better on Twitter.

What apps and programs are you using to create and share memories with family and friends? What do you look for when you buy a new PC?

Jean Parks, aka Geekbabe, is a contributing editor for The Online Mom. Follow Jean on Twitter.

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