Whose face is that? – Picasa 3

I have recently upgraded my Picasa to version 3 and let it start running through my photos looking for faces so I could tag them. Picasa is photo organising, editing and sharing software from the Google people. It’s free.

The scan started two days ago, and it’s now 32% of the way there. Yes, I have a lot of photos. I have restricted to photos in the My Pictures folder for the present, which it says contains about 14,000 photos.

Despite the slowness of it, and the fact that it uses up to half my CPU continuously, I will let it finish. I really like it. I am amazed at how it recognises faces, and find it much more useful than I expected to.

It works like this. It goes through all my folders of photos that you see on the left, looking for faces.

Picasa faces

When it finds one it draws a box around it and asks you who it is. If it thinks it knows it makes a suggestion for you to confirm. Simple!

Picasa bunnies

Out of all the lions in this photo it picked out my niece, Madeleine [sorry Mad]. If I want to ignore the others in the photo I can click on the X.

Eventually, it has a list of people and shows you the thumbnails of the person from each photo in which he/she appears. If it has made a guess then it asks you to confirm. Here you can see some suggestions it has made about photos of me:

Picasa confirm my face

They are all me! I can click on the green tick for each one, or remove the ones that aren’t me and then click on ‘confirm all’.

Where it gets tedious is when it doesn’t recognise what it sees as a face, because it’s tilted at an angle or half in the shade. You can manually draw a box around the face and name it just the same. It also has trouble with fuzzy old black and white photos, although not as much trouble as I feared.

Where it gets interesting is not where the suggestions it makes are correct, but are nearly correct. It chooses siblings or direct ancestors such as parents or grandparents.

Actually, I don’t know whether it’s just going for the law of averages. When it identifies a photo of my grandmother as being me it is very interesting try to work out why. Sometimes it’s a face at a similar angle and lighting to another photo, but sometimes it must be facial similarities.

Try it out for yourself! I’ll let you know when it is finished. It seems to be speeding up, but it will still be some days away.

I love my new Toshiba mini notebook!

Well, I was brave enough to take the risk! My new mini notebook is a Toshiba NB200, which arrived by courier yesterday. I broke the seal warning me that my new purchase may not function correctly and I’ve been playing with it ever since.

So far I’m just installing the software I need and downloading and installing updates, and the battery has lasted very well. The keyboard feels solid and the major keys are much the same size as on my standalone keyboard, although of course all the other keys are in different places – another keyboard to get used to.┬áThe touch pad is much the same size as on my 15in laptop.

It works well and quickly, even though I wasn’t able to upgrade the RAM to 2GB as the salesperson advised me. I’ve seen forums where a lot of people have upgraded theirs successfully, and I might consider that later when I really start using it.

I am expecting to use it when I go into the city or out to the archives, and for my birthday last year I got a mobile broadband … thingy (whatever the thing is called). My old mini is a HP 2133. The battery lasts less than 2 hours, and with Vista it’s very slow to get going – both reasons to leave it at home. If I use it on the train on the way into the city I have to take the power cable to charge it again for the ride home, especially if I actually use it while I’m in the city. I bought it too soon – at the time there was very little around, and what there was was small and made from flimsy-looking plastic.

It’s so small and convenient that I’ll probably use it around the house as well. The fate of the HP is yet to be decided.

Thanks for buying, but your new mini notebook may not work

I bought a new mini-notebook, to replace the piece of junk I bought a year and a half ago. It has just arrived, and the label stuck across the opening to the box states, in part:

You must read and follow all set-up and usage instructions in the provided manuals and Instruction Manual for Safety and Comfort. If you fail to do so, this product will not function properly and you may lose data or suffer other damage. EVEN IF YOU DO SO, TOSHIBA MAKES NO GUARANTEE OR WARRANTY THAT THIS PRODUCT WILL FUNCTION PROPERLY IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. [Upper case in original]

Thanks, Toshiba, that’s very comforting.