I paid car insurance on Friday, which left me with not much free cash this weekend. But that’s OK, because I made my own fun, for somewhat eccentric definitions of “fun.” I downloaded Google’s Picasa software, mostly so I could start on a long-simmering project to send batches of photos to the people who’re in them. Sunday, I discovered the people-tagging features, which kept me occupied for five straight hours. I missed a sunny, nice day. My butt got sore. But I got hundreds and hundreds of photos tagged, so now I can find all the photos of my great-nieces, or I will be able to when I’m done.
Picasa is pretty spiffy software, by my standards. I’m impressed by how it recognized faces—first that it identifies what’s a face, period, but then also does pretty well recognizing specific faces. For many cases it recognized a face and asked “Sophia?” and I could click a checkmark if it was right, or enter her mother’s name when it came close but was off by a generation.
Some of the not-quite-right matches were entertaining. It’s understandable when it says a child is the parent, or one sister is actually another one. I had a few of cases where it said one spouse was the other one; maybe that’s a testament to how couples who’ve been together a long time start to look alike, and here I’m thinking of Mr. and Mrs. jjfmi and Mr. and Mrs. Ott Lake Rambler. (Although the wives are never as bearded as their husbands, so it made me scratch my head a little.) Then there were a very small handful of cases where it guessed that person A was a person B and I went “Oh no no no no”… I will not cite the specific examples, but will note that I will proof carefully before I make any batches available on Picasa Web Albums.
Two glitches: First, it will ask to name faces in crowds; I guess there’s no way to have it ignore the audience at a folk festival or the crowds at the Woodward Dream Cruise, so I have to manually tell it to ignore all these nice people I don’t know. That’ll be a drag. Second, there are a lot of photo elements that Picasa cannot recognize as a face. For example, my nephew (Sophia’s father) is good for having his head down and a hat over his eyes when the camera is around, and Picasa doesn’t think the top of a baseball cap is a face. So I still have to look at every photo to make sure all people are tagged. But at least a large part of that work is done.
Part of me feels like I wasted a lot of daylight yesterday working on the photos, but in truth this is something I’ve wanted to do for years. I have so many photos that I’ve meant to send to people, and in the digital age we just don’t print them anymore, do we? I mean not like we used to have prints from every film image. So I’m glad that I’ve made some progress in resolving this for myself, and thus I don’t count yesterday as a loss at all. Best of all, it didn’t cost me any money.