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Thanks to some really good advertising, people are having fun creating panorama stitched photos in Windows Live Photo Gallery. I have a search query I watch on Twitter, and it’s one of the most buzzed about features of WLPG.

The trick to panoramas? You’ve got to know that you want a panorama when you’re taking your photos. And make sure there’s just enough overlap from picture to picture so that everything can line up.

If you’re like me, you take a lot of photos where you start with:


..and then create:


That’s one row of four pictures stitched together into one panorama. Eventually, you’re at such a big scene you’re wishing: man, if I could only get more of the scene in beyond these four pictures. The sky. The rocky terrain in front of me.

You can.

You can do multi-row panoramic stitching in Windows Live Photo Gallery. Meaning that you can take your first four pictures, return to where you started and drop down a little, and take your next four pictures, and then return to where you started those four pictures and drop down a little and take four more pictures. So you can end up with something like three rows of four pictures stacked on top of each other, like:


And when you stitch those together into a panorama, Photo Gallery, using the panorama stitching power behind the Microsoft Image Compositing Editor, can line things up and create:


…which is a lot more expansive than our first stitch of just the middle site. Now then, it does look like I need more practice on remembering where I started my stitch at because of the dark area in the upper left. Hey, digital films cheap, so when in doubt, take way more of the scene than you’ll need and crop it down to what you want.

So the next time you’re out there taking a row of panoramic pictures, practice taking multiple rows so that when you are at a place like the overlook of Source Lake in Denny Creek, Washington, you can capture the whole, big scene. Enjoy!

Problem: I installed Windows Live Essentials on my W2K8 box and it silently does nothing when I try to start it up. What to do?

Answer: (most likely) Install the Desktop Experience pack.

Since WLPG is a desktop program, you do need to make sure that some of the fundamental aspects of a desktop environment are present on your machine. The lean, mean W2K8 install doesn’t have it by default. So when you go to start Windows Live Photo Gallery on W2K8 nothing seems to happen due to a dependency check and WLPG silently fails to launch.

A KB article with more details:

If that doesn’t work for you, I’d like to know.

And, yes, I know: follow-up question: Dude, why didn’t you let me know that’s what I need to do vs. silently fail on me?

Sorry. I have excuses but none of them good. We decided to stop blocking the install on W2K8 since folks were bright enough to circumvent the installer and get the MSIs directly. This came up late and by then, for WLPG, it was a matter of timing and risk and shipping and localization blah blah blah etc.

Follow-up to the follow-up: are you going to fix this? Yes, it has been fixed and W2K8 users won’t run into this when the next version is released.

The latest update to the LiveUpload Facebook photo uploader plug-in for Windows Live Photo Gallery is getting some good press!

The big advantage now is that if you use Windows Live Photo Gallery to tag people in your photos, the latest LiveUpload Facebook plug-in will match the people you’ve tagged with your Facebook friends, and when you upload such photos to Facebook *bang* they are automatically tagged and you don’t have to do anything else.

First: Upload Pictures To Facebook Directly Through Windows Live Gallery (nice walk through of the initial configuration steps you’ll need to do):

But if you have Windows Live Gallery, there is a nifty little opensource plugin for it called LiveUpload to Facebook that will make uploading pictures to Facebook a piece of cake.

Next, Lifehacker picked this up, too:Downloads LiveUpload to Facebook Uploads Pictures from Windows Live Photo Gallery

Once installed, uploading pictures from Windows Live Photo Gallery is easy—just open up the Publish menu and choose More Services -> LiveUpload to Facebook, which will launch a quick wizard that easily uploads your photos, picks the Facebook album and privacy settings, and can even match your Photo Gallery tags with Facebook tags—an impressive time-saving feature.

Get it here:

Wow, that’s a (bad) surprise:

So long, Circuit City (CC).

In a bankruptcy court filing, the electronics retailer disclosed that it has reached a deal with liquidators to sell the remaining merchandise in all 567 of its U.S. stores after failing to find a buyer or a refinancing deal, the AP reports.

From: Tech Trader Daily – Barron’s Online : Circuit City To Close All Stores; More Than 35,000 Jobs Lost.

The nearby Circuit City has been a place to at least get good deals week-to-week, although with their corporate mis-management the local store had drifted from well organized to a more hunter & gatherer focus.

Besides smaller local stores like Hard Drives Northwest I guess that leaves our area with Best Buy: well organized and very well stocked, but not very convenient + awful traffic.

I saw a demo today of Ben Vincent’s photo website. He’s done an amazing amount of tagging in his photos and has a workflow that allows some pretty interesting view of his photos on his site.

Recently, Ben started using the latest Windows Live Photo Gallery to tag people in his photos and wanted to be able to get the same effect you have in WLPG of when you hover over a face it tells you who it is. For this, Ben extracted the new meta data that WLPG stores in each photo when you tag people:

The most compelling new feature for me is the new people tagging capabilities. Not only does it store who is in a photo but also where they are. Unfortunately there’s no real standard for where to store people, let alone their location in the picture. Facebook does something similar but doesn’t store it in the photo and most applications just store the name in a keyword or the People XMP field. So the decision was made to store this in a private XMP namespace, which at least provides a standard way of accessing the data. The good news is, Microsoft channels lots of this thinking through a single group, so Windows 7 also uses the same format.

Ben’s full post: Understanding how Windows Live Photo Gallery’s People Tags are Stored – Windows Live

All sorts of problems can happen when you roll-over and carry a digit:

So we’re busy preparing the major upgrade from 9.5x and 9.6x – and what’s more obvious than calling it Opera 10? What’s in a name, or a version number?

Apparently a lot of trouble.

More here: 10 is the one – By Hallvord R. M. Steen

It has been a busy year. Not long after the Wave2 Windows Live release went out the door we immediately started planning for the next release. And here, before the end of 2008, is the latest refresh to Windows Live: Windows Live Essentials (Beta).

Just at a high level, these are the following changes you’ll see in the latest refresh of WLPG (Windows Live Photo Gallery) as compared to the Wave2 2008 version:


  • Noise reduction: new for our refresh release. This is a heavy duty intensive algorithm to look for noise in your picture and help smooth noise out and make it go away. If you’re shooting with a point and shoot camera at high ISO (usually in dark rooms) you end up with a lot of color noise dots. This helps to reduce that noise. It’s under “Adjust Detail” in the fix pane. It can be a very subtle effect but will make your noisy pictures look less distracting.
  • Straighten: we’ve added straighten to WLPG. In fact, it will first do an auto-straighten if possible. You can also tweak it so that you’re happy with the way things line up. I never realized how crooked of a shooter I was until I started shooting with my Canon Rebel. I’m going to use this feature a lot. The team was so happy with it, that Straighten was added to the Auto-Fix command.
  • Black and White: and not just one black and white effect but six.

Panoramic Stitching:

  • Improved! Our popular panoramic stitching engine has been updated (the same engine within I.C.E.). You’ll see more natural horizons and blue skies that blend together better.

Publishing to more and more places:

  • Skydrive: by default, WLPG now publishes your albums to your Skydrive.
  • Groups & Events: did you know that you can have photo albums for an event you create? It’s a great way of having everyone dump their photos into one spot to share with everyone else. Invite them to an event and then all they have to do is use WLPG and select Publish -> Event album and the event should be listed. Same for publishing to a group shared album.
  • Plug-ins! Rather than us write code for every popular place to publish photos (and keeping up with their changes) the WLPG team added the ability for smart folks to take our example flickr publish plug-in and customize it to publish photos and/or videos to different sites. contains the list of plug-ins we know about, including publishing to Facebook and SmugMug.

UI Improvements:

  • Star rating filter returns: it was in Vista Photo Gallery and removed for Wave2. It’s back.
  • More space: collapsible navigation tree: you can now make the navigation tree collapse to get more room. Either double click on the line drawn between the gallery list view and the navigation tree or just grab and move all the way to the left to make it go away. Click on the narrow arrow region that appears to make it come back.
  • More space: simpler navigation controls on bottom: we moved down to the lower status bar the next / previous / rotate / delete / slide-show / play buttons, along with the zoom controls and the view control. This gives you back vertical space to have more to enjoy your photos. Yeah!
  • More info in the Info Pane: when you select a photo, you’ll see more information in the Info Pane about the photo, like camera, author, exposure, aperture, focal length, and ISO. One: you can geek out over studying stuff like this to improve your photography. (2) it can help explain sometimes why something doesn’t look right (like the time I accidently put my camera into ISO 1600 in bright, bright daylight).
  • Brighter: the overall UI is brighter and leaner, removing icons from the command bar.

People Tagging:

  • Contacts: when you sign-in to your Live ID, we now download your Live Contacts into WLPG.
  • Simple people tagging: whether you’re signed in or not, this allows you to say who is in a photo by entering a name. Good!
  • Contact people tagging: you can also people tag someone in a photo who is specifically from your contacts list. Great!
  • Face tagging: in addition to just saying “Eric Richards” is in the photo, you can point me out in the photo. You can draw a rectangle around my face or, if I’m looking directly into the camera, we’ve probably auto-detected that there’s a face there and you can just click on that face to call out that it is me.
  • “That’s Me!” tagging: once you’re signed in, you can also go through the photos quickly noting where you are.
  • People in the navigation tree: in the navigation tree, you can look at your photos by folder, by date, by descriptive tags, or by the people in your photos. And if you’re signed in we have your address book and you can drill in to find your family or coworkers. Click on them to see the photos you’ve tagged them in and a little extra…
  • Person page: when you click on a person in the navigation tree, you get a special view of all the photos that person has been tagged in and (if they have a Live ID) which albums they’ve published to Live Photos and a quick way to visit their Live Photos Page.
  • Profile pictures: if your contact has a Live ID and they’ve set a profile picture, we’ll show it when you click on them in the navigation tree and we’ll show it when you’re tagging people via our people selector box.

Additional features:

  • Offline sign-in: you can sign-in now even if you’re not connected to the network. We’ll, after you’ve signed in at least once while on-line to let the system cache what it knows about you. This way, even if you’re off the network, you can still have your contacts loaded and do some people tagging and viewing.
  • Windows Live Sync: if you’re a Windows Live Sync user, you can synchronize your photos now between your PCs, including the originals that we save away in your application data so that you can always restore an original after doing some edits.
  • Touch: we’ve done some Touch features that you’ll get to enjoy when you’re running Windows 7.
  • Blog posting: you can fire up Windows Live Writer within WLPG to blog about a set of photos.
  • Extras: while it’s a nifty idea to try to do everything in WLPG (create photosynths, do some geo-tagging, auto, etc.) we just can’t do it all. You can at least install some of our premier photo tools and then find and select the photos in WLPG and launch the appropriate nifty application via the Extras menu.
  • Meta-data control: under the options menu there is more level of detail about what kind of meta-data you want preserved or stripped out when you share your photos.
  • Tag Clean-up: sometimes you end up with descriptive tags that no longer apply to your photo set. You can especially run into if you have a load of hyper-tagged stock photos and then get rid of them. You can now go and have WLPG scrub your tag database to remove any tags no longer associated with photos.

And there’s a lot more that happened under the hood, so to say. I’m very proud to work with the engineering team that made this year’s worth of work on Windows Live Photo Gallery possible.

Larry Osterman recently talked about Feature Crews ( ) and I have to say that the Photo Gallery feature Dev, Test, and PM members did an excellent job driving the decisions and work to get their features implemented. The product has remained solid for the development cycle
s, which is hard when your hooking up some major new gears, so to say.

And now we’re out with a new refresh! Enjoy! Be sure to get a Live ID, set a profile picture, and publish some photos up to your Skydrive and play around with it. While you’re on the new site, note that you can import your contacts from Facebook or LinkedIn to start building your contact list for People Tagging. And man, if you’re on Facebook, you should go to our plug-ins page and that the Facebook plug-in for publishing photos to your Facebook account.

Drop by our official team blog ( ) to learn more about the current refresh and to pose any questions + issues.

Although Virtual Earth mapping has the rocking Bird’s Eye View for looking at neighborhoods – which for me usually end up being a lot more interesting than the overhead view, especially with the ability to rotate around various angles – RedFin just switched to Google Maps because of the driving need to be able to draw lots of push-pins fast:

“Every millisecond counts” is a “Googley” UX design principle that we remember from Marissa Mayer’s evangelism of speed and that we strongly believe in (see here, here, and here). Users who come to Redfin’s site now should see maps load and render just a little bit quicker, which makes us feel a little Googley inside.

A write-up on WLPG’s latest beta at PC Magazine. The summary:

Bottom Line

The Windows Live Photo Gallery (Wave 3) beta has improved editing tools, a unique people-tagging feature, and the ability to upload to Flickr and other services. But Photo Gallery still trails Picasa, which has better face tagging and integration with online galleries.


Good organization of photos. Easy uploading to online photo galleries, including non-Microsoft sites. Automatic face tagging. Excellent panorama creation.


No geotagging. No help with screen captures. People tagging trails Picasa’s equivalent. Limited slideshow and special photo-effect options. No blemish remover. Unsupported camera RAW formats.

Looking at the Cons…

Around the people tagging: given that it’s in the Windows Live Photo Gallery desktop client and Picasa people tagging is currently Web Picasa only, WLPG a lot more interesting for actually organizing your full-resolution photos by people and enjoying them on your computer, including the photos you’re not keen spending the time (or risk) putting online. Given that you tag the people once on your hard disk, you can do groovy things like get the LiveUpload Facebook publish plug-in and ba-damn! all your people tags get auto-Facebook tagged for people with the same names on your Facebook friends list.


And there’s certainly the opportunity for the people tagging metadata in the photos to be used and read by other photo sites going forward. It’s pretty easy for them to just look at the XMP XML blob and do something with it. This includes Web Picasa.

I’m not sure what Mr. Muchmore’s RAW comment on the Cons list meant. If you have the appropriate raw codec installed for your photos (like Canon’s for CR2 files) you’ll be able to see them in Photo Gallery just fine and organize away. See, not edit. But you have to have the manufacturer’s codec installed. Also, if you’re heavy into RAW, you most likely have been using the RAW software that came with your camera or have sprung the big-bucks for a RAW-focused photo editing environment like LightRoom, so again, not really a focus as of today for real point-and-shoot and mobile-phone-photo-snapers.

Screen captures? This is important for consumers? I’d like to know more.

And for geotagging lovers (an exuberant but perhaps tiny minority – of which you can see I’m a member if you go to my flickr map page), you can at least download the Microsoft Pro Photo Tools and it shows up under the Extras menu in WLPG Beta, meaning that you can select a bunch of files to send over to Pro Photos to geotag etc.

This is why you want diversity in ownership of media companies:

Joystiq broke word this evening that Netflix stopped Xbox 360 users from streaming movies distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment.

It makes no sense for a huge electronics company to be allowed to own media like this. This is a pretty obvious negotiating tactic, probably around getting NetFlix for the PS3 and preventing the Xbox from having a living room advantage.

Usually, it has been to Sony’s extreme strategic loss to own these media companies. This ownership killed their Walkman line: here you are creating a media player that, you know, might be playing music pirated from the other parts of your own company. Better put in some exotic extremely distasteful codecs that no one wants to ensure that the media only comes from physical CDs.

Oh, and put a rootkit onto our CDs so that we can prevent people from ripping them.

Dumb. And now their stupidity spreads.

Sony should be forced to sell off their media assets.

Original story: MTV Multiplayer » Netflix Speaks Out On Sony Movies Disappearing From Xbox 360 Service — It’s Not A Glitch

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