Microsoft Image Composite Editor

Microsoft Research recently released a great little panorama image stitching utility. You can check it out at the Microsoft ICE project site. The utility is a free download.

One of the really nice features of this tool is that it can export to many different image formats. Once exported, one could bring the image into, for example, a video editing package to do pan and zoom effects for video. In addition, there is an export option for Deep Zoom Tileset that creates a series of stitched images and some XML data that allows the image to playback on the web inside of Microsoft’s SliverLight 2 browser plugin. The result is a nice pan and zoom image similar to what one gets with a QuickTime VR movie. You might have seen this in Microsoft’s PhotoSynth tool. And this is all free. Grab the software and have some fun!

I’m hoping to get a couple of experiments up soon, but I’m waiting on a server configuration change for the SilverLight files to run correctly in the browser. I’ll post them when that happens.

Sweet Lightbox2 Javascript and CSS Code

Just ran across the latest version of the really cool Lightbox Javascript and CSS widget by Lokesh Dhakar today. It lets you link to an image or set of images that appear in a highlighted box while the page in the background is dimmed. It’s a great way to showcase an image on a web page. It’s easy to use and not too difficult to setup on your site. There’s even a nice WordPress plugin by Safirul Alredha. Also check out Leightbox by Simon de Haan, a modification to allow non-image content using inline DIVs

Take a look at how it works by clicking the image of a nice shelf cloud that I snapped with my phone camera on the edge of a thunderstorm in Uptown New Orleans near Tulane last week. Once you have the javascript and css linked to the page, you just add a tiny bit of code to your link tag like this: rel=”lightbox”

Mike Wesch’s “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us”

If you haven’t seen this already, take a look. Mike Wesch at Kansas State University really boils down the ways the web has been changing over the last couple of years.

Google Co-op – Custom Search Engines

So I was working on getting a search engine setup for our new version of the Tulane Technology Services website and I went to check out how to do this with Google. I knew there was a way to do it, but I wasn’t sure what the process for getting it setup was.

As usual, when I got to Google’s customized search information, I was very pleasantly surprised not only by how easy this was to do, but all of the really cool customization and presentation features available. Check out the page for doing this at Google:

Google Co-Op – Custom Search Site

Besides an exclusivity clause, the user agreement looked reasonable. As for exclusivity, is there a real competitor to Google out there to consider? I’d say, No. So it’s not like this is currently a problem.

You can customize what sites are searched (you’re not limited to just one) and how the results are ranked. Because we are a non-profit university we qualify for Public Service Search, so there are no ads on our results pages. Very Nice. Thanks, Google!

Check out the new Technology Services site – the search is in the footer for the site.

Technology Services

Adobe Launches Flex Cookbook Community Site

Yesterday, in my post about Adobe’s CSS community site, I mentioned that a similar site for Flex development was on its way. Well, the site is now live. Check it out at:

Flex Cookbook beta

Here’s hoping some good stuff makes its way onto the site. Thanks, Adobe!

Adobe Launches CSS Advisor Site

Adobe has created a new community site for aggregating web designer’s knowledge of CSS best practices and lessons learned. There are several good sites out there already for CSS web design, but I think Adobe’s sponsership and their provisioning of server space and a nice frontend application are very welcome additions. Check out the site here:

CSS Advisor

I understand there will be a similar site for Flex 2 development. I’m really looking forward to that. It’s been a real pain tracking down information on Flex 2 on several random blogs here and there on the web.

Adobe Apollo and Flex

Just watched a demo of Adobe’s new Apollo cross-platform runtime environment. The developer’s release is due out in 1st quarter 2007. We have several projects in the works that will benefit greatly from this new tool. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. More information is available at Adobe Labs.On a related note, I am going to be doing a crash course into Flex Builder 2 and ActionScript 3 for a project with Tom Klingler (from Tulane) and Amanda La Fleur (from LSU). We’ll be building an online course for Cajun French. One of our target audiences is young Cajun musicians who would like to learn Cajun French to be able to practice their craft better.

I’d like to build the site with a combination of HTML and Flex with a MSSQL Server backend. I think Flex will be a nice fit, especially for the interactive exercises and multimedia presentation. I figure the less time I have to spend inside of the Flash 8 Pro IDE, the better. Looking forward to getting to know Flex Builder 2.

Spry: Adobe’s Ajax Starter Kit

So, you’ve been hearing about Ajax and you might even know it when you see it on the web, but you haven’t tried to write your own code yet. Well, Adobe has something you might really like to try out. It’s called Spry, and it’s an Ajax ready JavaScript library targeted at experienced web developers who want to get started with Ajax.

Along with the Spry JS library, Adobe has provided an admirable array of educational material, including three full examples of Spry implementations. And best of all, it’s totally free. Check it out here:

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/spry/

And if you build something with it, make sure to let me know! I’d love to see some cool new projects.