Photosynth of Inauguration Photos

The CNN-Microsoft project to create a commemorative 3D portrait of the presidential inauguration is live, and you can view it here. Using Microsoft’s Photosynth technology, the joint venture is designed to capture the historical event by stitching together digital photos shared by anyone who was there. The Photosynth software, part of Microsoft’s Virtual Earth software group, lets users create “synths”-3-dimensional renderings of multiple images of the same scene. Users can rotate and view the synths from many angles. The more photos supplied, the better the 3D effect.

The inauguration synth makes for an interesting view. The multiple vantage points do give the viewer a better sense of what the event must have been like live. Navigational arrows appear on screen, making it easy to move between photos, which Photosynth melds together, albeit not always seamlessly. You can rotate images as well. The effect is jarring at times, particularly if you’re prone to motion sickness, but the overall effect is pretty cool.

The real-time aspect of the inauguration synth is a lot of fun. A couple hours after the swearing-in, for instance, the 3D portrait had just a handful of long-range shots of the event. Within minutes, however, more photos were added, including several close-ups of Obama taking the oath of office. The CNN-Microsoft is an intriguing experiment in citizen journalism that may have a bright future.

Windows 7 Patch Released

Microsoft issued its first patch for the just-released Windows 7 beta, but it passed on plugging a hole in an important file-sharing protocol that it fixed in older versions of the operating system.

Yesterday, Windows Update, Microsoft’s primary update service, began delivering the first patch to Windows 7 since the company struggled to launch the public beta last Friday. The update fixes a flaw that shaves several seconds of audio from any MP3 file that’s edited, including files modified automatically as users connect to the Internet.

“Without action on your part, all MP3 files that have large headers in your Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center libraries are likely to lose some audio,” Microsoft said in the support document it published Saturday, several days after it first posted the fix to its MSND and TechNet subscription services.

Before today, users who wanted to apply the fix had to find it, download it manually and install it themselves.

Microsoft also recommended that users back up all MP3 files before doing an upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows Vista, and that they set all of them to “read-only” status by right-clicking each file in Windows Explorer and then clicking the General tab and selecting the “Read-only” box. Failing that, users should disable metadata automatic updates in Windows Media Player, Microsoft said.