When people get a new digital camera, they are usually excited about taking pictures, so they run out and shoot a whole bunch of photos. It's easy to just point and click and point and click until the battery dies or your memory card runs out of space. At some point, people come to the inevitable conclusion that they now need to get the photos off the camera.
Transferring photos should not be a daunting process. The precise procedure for moving your photos off the camera may depend on your camera model. But in general, you can use a cable, or you can use a card reader.
Most cameras come with a USB cable you can plug from the camera to the USB port on your computer. The camera needs to be on to transfer the files. So if you've run your battery down, you may need to charge it back up before you can transfer your photos. Many cameras also come with imaging software you can use to manage your files.
However, I contend that an easier way to transfer your files is to invest $20 in a card reader. With a card reader, instead of connecting the camera to the computer, you connect the cord from the card reader. You pull the card out of the camera, put it in the card reader, and copy your files to your hard disk just like you'd copy files off a floppy disk.
When it comes to digital photography, a lot of people don't seem to understand that photo files are just files like any other file on your hard disk. You don't need special software to move them around. You can just use Windows Explorer to copy and paste them anywhere. After you have copied your photos to your hard disk, you can then delete the files off the memory card so you can reuse it.
In fact, you can think of the camera's memory card as equivalent to a floppy disk that can store a whole lot of information. As with a floppy, in Windows Explorer, you can just highlight all the files on the memory card and press Delete to erase the files. Then you can put it back into your camera and start shooting again. Once you've gone through the process a few times, you'll wonder why you thought getting photos off the camera was "hard."
In fact, a corollary to the fact that photo files are just files is that you can put more than just digital photo files on your memory card. If you have a 256MB card, for example, you have a whole lot of space you can use to move a whole lot of files around. Instead of burning a CD to transfer files, you can use your memory card instead.
Just copy the files you want to move onto the card, and take it and the card reader to the other computer. Plug the cable into the USB port. Windows XP automatically recognizes the card reader, so you can copy the files onto the hard disk.
After you're done transferring files, delete them off the card so you can put a nice empty card back into your digital camera and take more photos. If you discover that you really love the idea of moving stuff using your USB connection, get one of those cute USB "thumb drives" that come with a neck strap. For the ultimate in nerd chic, you can wander around with 1 GB of storage hanging from your neck.