Microsoft’s new “Synth”-esizer stiches together photos

(Update – adds video of Photosynth demo)

If you’re snap-happy with your digital camera, Microsoft thinks it has the Web site for you. Microsoft Photosynth is a new, free photo service that stiches together pictures (preferably lots of them) of a place or a thing to create a 360-degree visual experience. You can zoom in and out smoothly, pan left and right, up and over.

Here’s the description of how Photosynth works from the Microsoft press release.

“Photosynth analyzes each photo for similarities to the others, and uses that data to estimate where a photo was taken. It then re-creates the environment and uses that as a canvas on which to display the photos.”

To get started, you’ll need to download a software application. Sorry Mac fans, it’s PC-only for now. David Gedye, a Microsoft group manager who leads the PhotoSynth team, assured me that the Windows-only situation is only temporary.

Once you have the Photosynth application, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Upload the pictures and let the “synth” begin. I found that you have to take LOTS of pictures to create a good synth, which probably explains why Microsoft is providing 20 gigabytes of storage for users.

Yahoo! The musical!

yahoo1.jpgA cursory viewing of “Mamma Mia!” or “Xanadu” is enough to teach anyone that you really can dance your troubles away. Yahoo employees apparently have discovered this too, and engaged Matt Harding to show them how to shuffle off the blues with the old soft-shoe.

Harding is the star of Where the Hell Is Matt, a website that chronicles the hoofer’s travels around the globe as he sets up a camera and dances in a variety of parks, seasides and cities from Sao Paulo to the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas — often . He showed up at Yahoo not long ago to teach the gang there what Johnny Cash told us years ago: Get rhythm when you get the blues.

Still, when you want a song to cheer you up, you’d think that a more uptempo number would generally be the thing (Certain media reporters reserve alone time with the Pet Shop Boys for exactly this purpose). (Editor’s note: Not all media reporters here do this.)

Yahoo investors wax eloquent

yahoo.jpgSome Yahoo shareholders are mad, some are sad and some have a remarkable handle on the English language.

Despite the odds going into today’s annual meeting, Yahoo’s board and CEO Jerry Yang won a huge endorsement from shareholders. Yang alone won more than 85 percent of votes cast despite calls by some for his ouster.

But that didn’t dampen the festivities at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose. Here are a few choice quotes from the meeting, where investors were invited to lament over failed deal talks with Microsoft, rich compensation for executives and Yahoo’s stance on Internet censorship.

Yahoo: The Road to No Deal

The following is a timeline of key events leading up to Yahoo’s Aug. 1 annual meeting.

2006 January – Yahoo Inc begins to report a string of weak quarterly results, reflecting competitive missteps by the company, market share gains by rival Google Inc, changes in the online advertising landscape and weakening spending in some ad segments.


2006 – Microsoft Corp and Yahoo begin preliminary talks on various partnerships, including a merger.

Microsoft: Here’s the lowdown on Yahoo

ballmer.jpgSo often with these things, there’s a lot of PR-speak and dancing around. But let’s give Microsoft’s top brass some credit –  they pretty much addressed the whole Yahoo thing head on during the annual meeting with Wall Street analysts up in Washington state.

Finance chief Chris Liddel was particularly clear on the subject. Take it from his boss, Steve Ballmer.

“I think Chris was just about as black and white on that topic as we’ve ever been,” Ballmer said shortly after Liddell finished speaking.

Microsoft’s next online chief

jonmiller.jpgMicrosoft’s president of platforms and services Kevin Johnson, who spearheaded the company’s pursuit of Yahoo, plans to bolt for the top job at nearby Juniper in a move that deals a setback to the software giant’s online chase after Google.

AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher comes up with a shortlist of candidates from her sources that include a roster of insiders, led by aQuantive’s Brian McAndrews, with SVP Satya Nadella, who will run search, MSN and ad platform engineering efforts in a new reorg, and Strategic Partnerships SVP Yusuf Mehdi, who has previously led online businesses at Microsoft, considered long shots.

Heading the list of external candidates is former AOL Chief Jon Miller, who also happens to be a candidate for Yahoo’s board after activist investor Carl Icahn settled with Yahoo this week.

Yahoo’s Decker on Icahn: The “audacity of hope”?

icahn1.jpgAs volte faces go, the Yahoo-Carl Icahn slugfest-turned-lovefest is a definite keeper for some future annal of corporate history. Until last week, Yahoo couldn’t slam Icahn enough, mocking the activist investor’s knowledge of technology, calling his agenda risky, and pointing to his failure to articulate clear alternatives to a Microsoft deal.

But since they made nice on Monday, rest assured we’re going to hear nothing but a din of welcome notes from Yahoo, as they sell to shareholders the idea that Icahn and his two designees are good for the board.

Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock set the sweet, full-of-possibility tone about Icahn on Monday, and Yahoo President Sue Decker picked up where he left off in a CNBC interview today:

Yahoo: We’ve looked at everything you can imagine

yahoo.jpgIf for some reason you assumed that Yahoo’s deal with Carl Icahn would quiet the chatter about a deal, you were mistaken. The conference call to discuss quarterly earnings made that clear.

Past distractions, future possibilities, it was all there for listeners. The only problem is that for all the chatter on the call about deals, there was no real insight offered about what Yahoo might do.

Here’s a look at what Yahoo’s executives said about M&A during the call:

Yahoo: who prints their email?

We can spend a lot of time analyzing how Yahoo really feels about Carl Icahn and his rival slate. But this, found at the top of Yahoo’s latest proxy filing and its homepage, says it all.

(Photo: Yahoo)

Google, Microsoft augur tougher times ahead

googlesign.jpgGoogle’s second quarter earnings disappointed Wall Street yesterday and sent its shares tumbling. The search giant blamed lower returns from managing its huge cash piles but analysts are also concerned the market leader in search advertising might augur a wider slowdown in online advertising.

Google itself said revenue growth from search ads was “positive” in every sector except for real estate, which was down by a small amount.

But the Street wasn’t convinced, perhaps because Microsoft also disappointed with its quarterly earnings citing “tough” economic conditions which impacted its software business and online ad sales.