Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I love Google

I freely admit that I’m a fan and I’m hooked.  If Google is taking over the world then I’m a pawn in their path and I’ve been taken.  It’s a rare day goes by that I don’t use Google software at least once during the day and usually multiple times.  And of all the things they give me I love Picasa the most.

Picasa just finally finished identifying all the faces in the thousands of images I have on my hard drive.  On the weekend I still had over 5900 “unknown” faces but tonight that number is down to around 200.  That seems like a manageable number.  5900 was intimidating because, wonderful as Picasa is, it still requires some user input to figure out who everyone is.

It was fun to watch as Picasa sorted everyone out.  Some of the connections it made were obvious.  Mother was a Dickey and the 5 Dickey sisters all looked a lot alike.  Sometimes I have to look at old photos a couple of times before I’m sure if I’m looking at Mother or one of her sisters.  Some of the connections weren’t so immediately obvious though.  Even when I couldn’t see the similarities the software often identified an image as a different family member which seemed understandable.  Then there were the extreme outliers like when it identified an image of Karla as my mother.  I’m sure either of them would have been flattered by the error but its hard for me to see where the similarity came from.

What always amazes me about that software is how it can take images of me at 10 years old and reconcile them with current images and still relatively consistently continue to recognize both as being the same person.  It is exactly that age progression that prompted this post.  Once I got the images sorted by person I let it make some collages of a few family members, deliberately selecting an assortment of images over the lifetime of the person in question.

As I watched Picasa sorting through the pictures I was struck by how we remember people according to our most recent image of them.  Our parents are old and gray and stooped in our mind’s eye, yet for the largest portion of our time with them they were none of the above.



I didn’t bother doing a collage of the cat – he doesn’t change much.

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