Miscellaneous

January 18, 2010 | By | 1 Reply More

It’s been a wonderful weekend. No theme to it. Just a steady stream of good experiences.

The technological surprise was the Picasa’s new face-matching feature. This will blow your mind, it is so good.  The newest release of Picasa (I’ve extolled the virtues of Picasa before) produces thumbnails of most every face in your photo collection. For me, this meant that Picasa came up with more than 6,000 faces. They needn’t be portraits, either. Picasa will find most any face in your collection, even group shots, and give you one or more cropped portraits from that photo.

Then comes more magic. You give Picasa a name for one of those instant portraits and Picasa will go gather all the other photos you have of that person in your collection. evv-faces I labeled a few photos each of my daughters JuJu and Charlotte, and Picasa went to work, gathering almost 2,000 photos of each, getting it 99% correct.  Quite often Picasa will place a “?” on the photos it gathers, meaning it is not certain it is the same person, but it was almost always correct.  It picked out photos of JuJu from age 2 to 11. It picked her out even if she was standing in the shade, even if she had a unusual haircut or a hat, even if her eyes were closed, and even if her head was turned or she was looking down. The face-matching feature even did well in distinguishing between two 11-year old identical twins, who I sometimes struggle to keep straight. I’m using Picasa version 3.6.0 for Windows (a free program, BTW). It seems like magic. Maybe it’s one of those military technologies trickling down. Whatever it is, I’m in awe.  If you have a big collection and you don’t want to take the time to label photos of your friends or family, this is something you should consider.

What else happened this weekend?  Here’s something.  There’s a new exhibit on Race at the Missouri History Museum: Race: Are We So Different? The answer, of course, is no. The exhibit was well done, including lots of good quotes, for instance, this one by Jefferson Fish:

jefferson-fishI’m glad our local museum has offered this exhibit–it will allow for a group experience, and I do hope that many school children take advantage of it.  On the other hand, as I walked around reading big poster exhibits and watching video monitors, I couldn’t help but think that if I could have been accessing all of this information more comfortably on my home computer (that is, if someone had gathered it all together in one website).   Therefore, the community aspect is about the only thing one gains from this (and many other) public museum exhibits.  It’s important to make certain subjects available for shared learning, and perhaps that’s the point.  But if you just wanted the information without the distraction of others talking nearby, everything I saw could have been made easily available on a website.

New topic. This weekend I continued my fix-it-up year.   I’ve fallen in love with glue lately.  I’ve made a conscious effort to try to fix everything possible and not buy anything new unless absolutely necessary.  I’m enamored with imperfect glued things!  I’m all the more this way after recently finishing my reading of No-Impact Man.  Today, I glued a chair back together.  I’ve fixed several toys recently.  I’ve glued the binding back onto a book.   And when you really need the big guns, you pull out the tubes of epoxy.  Glue is green . . .

Some things can’t be saved with glue, but they can still be repaired.  The vacuum cleaner broke a few days ago.  There’s a terrific vacuum cleaner repair guy named “Dan” who lives right around the corner from me.  img_1553For $75 he completely rejuvenated our vacuum cleaner (it cost $250 new).  This is feeling right:  don’t buy new.  Repair whenever possible. Maybe you’ve got your own version of “Dan” where you live.

What else was happening? Ebonmuse was in town this weekend.  Great time had by all, including a constant stream of good discussions.  The highlight was a gathering of about a dozen friendly skeptics at my home on Saturday night.  Thanks for the visit, Ebonmuse!  And check out his new post on a terrific new book by Michelle Goldberg:  The Means of Reproduction.

Lots of photography this weekend.  My 11-year old daughter JuJu is unstoppable.  When I was her age (back in the 60’s), my parents gave me a little b & w camera and a roll of 12-exposure film.  They told me to use it sparingly because it was expensive to develop.  I probably took only 36 photos over the next 3 years.    How different it now is with digital photography.  Both of my kids grab the camera and constantly experiment.  Below I’ve pasted in a photo JuJu took today:  She turned off the lights and asked her friend to make movements with a glow-stick.  This is the result:

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I’ve got to wrap up, because I’m on Arianna Huffington’s sleep challenge.  I need to stay away from artificial light at night.  Which reminds me, have you noticed how brightly they light some gas stations these days?  It makes you wonder how much oil they burn just to attract customers.  And they probably do it for security reasons too.  But it almost seems brighter than daylight.

img_14631Which brings me to the end of this happy non-rant (I’m consciously trying to think happy thoughts this year, trying to not think about corrupt politicians, needless suffering and arrogant banks).   Time to get back on the peaceful track with this close-up of a burning candle.   Peace.

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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    Sorry I missed the Saturday meet-up.

    Speaking of cameras, I finally selected a Super-Zoom camera to replace the Panasonic Lumix FZ30 that the burglars got.

    It was a hard choice, motivated by many factors including keeping the price down. Absent the price, I'd probably get a DSLR. But the lens quality on higher end non-SLR's is now excellent. And with a 20x zoom (even dramatically longer at if using less than 12Mp), why would you ever need to change lenses?

    I went with a Canon SX20 instead of its really close competitor (and descendant of the lost one) the Panasonic DMC-FZ35. The main benefits of my choice were the articulated display and the hot-shoe. The main deficits are that it is 20% heavier, takes heavy AA's instead of light lithium, and is not quite as good in low light. I'd also been delighted by my shirt-pocket Canon SD1100IS for the last year (and with which I've taken all those videos).

    After I brought the SX20 home, I found this page on Canon PowerShot SX20 IS vs. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 that helped me over a moment of buyer's remorse for my choice by clearly articulating the differences.

    Actually, here is a good place to see what I got: Canon PowerShot SX20 IS video tour

    Try the other tabs on the page, if you want the specific specifications.

    I got it at the new Micro Center in Brentwood Promenade. They happened to beat the best online price (before taxes) and be giving away a 4Gb SD-HC at the time. I'd been sure that I'd be buying it online, as I did for almost all my other digital cameras.

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