Archive for the ‘General’ Category

posted by on General

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Here is a creative and fun way to impress your friends who are eager to see your Italy photos.

My colleagues at Microsoft Research UK have released an inexpensive application called AutoCollage, that blends together a variety of photos in a ‘smart’ way’.
I say ‘smart’ because the software applies face recognition and predicts the optimal photo arrangement out of a large set of possibilities. In other words, you can expect a wonderful job done in a very short amount of time.

Click on these collages I created out of a selection of my eBook photo archive.

Italian Deli shop collage
Italian Deli shop collage (1MB High Res)

Italian pastries collage
Italian pastries collage (1MB High Res)

Italian cars collage
Italian cars collage (1MB High Res)

If you’re interested, you can download the free AutoCollage trial version from the Microsoft Research UK web site (full version is $9.95).

posted by on General, Places

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I’m constantly impressed by the fast pace at which Microsoft and Google are innovating in the mapping technology space.
Some time ago I created a short video tutorial describing the two online services, then I blogged about how Google allows users to customize their maps and how Microsoft introduced bird’s eye views of several cities in Italy.

This time I’ll talk about Google’s street views. Imagine a car with a panoramic camera on its roof to capture thousands of pictures while it’s circulating around a city. Now, link those images to Google maps and you can experience on your computer what a busy Italian street looks like in the reality.

Google for now provides coverage only for Milan, Rome, Florence and the Lake Como area. Check some of these links, drag your pointer around to discover the surroundings and follow the arrows to move along the streets:
- Piazza di Santa Croce in Florence
- Piazza del Popolo in Rome
- Piazza Castello in Milan
- Piazza Roma in Arzegno (on Lake Como)

If you own an iPhone, you’ll be happy to know that Google street views are available for your mobile device too.
For example, search for ‘Rome’ in the Google Maps iPhone application and click on the orange little man on the label:

and you’ll magically experience what’s like driving in Italy without time constrains.

Now that you are “virtually ready” for Italy, consider the next steps to get “totally ready” for Italy.
Download a free chapter of our eBook and start discovering more than 350+ tips that will help you navigate Italy like a local.

posted by on General


Here is an exciting technology that will help you bring to life hundreds of photos of Italy and convert them into an immersive interactive online experience.

Microsoft has finally publicly released Photosynth, an online application that has the ability to reconstruct scenes or objects from a bunch of flat photographs.

Using techniques from the field of computer vision, Photosynth examines images for similarities to each other and uses that information to estimate the shape of the subject and the vantage point the photos were taken from. With this information, Photosynth recreates the space and uses it as a canvas to display and navigate through the photos.

As a Microsoft employee I had a chance to play with Photosynth long time ago. But other than generically blogging about it, I couldn’t really share any specific details.
Now that Photosynth is public domain, I encourage you to take a closer look at it and try to “synth” some of your own photos. The first time you visit the site, you’ll need to download and install a special plugin for your browser (Windows PC only).

- Microsoft Photosynth web site
- How to introductory video
- Various user generated synths of Italy