iPhoto ’09

Posted by Chalky on Jan 28, 2009 in Computer, Technology

iLife '09 LogoSo my copy of iLife ’09 arrived in the post yesterday and I got it installed and immediately went to play with iPhoto ’09. iPhoto seems to have been given the most attention out of the entire suite of apps so I was looking forward to having a go. The most eagerly anticipated feature in my opinion had to be the Face Detection and Face Recognition closely followed by the Facebook integration. So without further ado, here’s some of my thoughts on the new toys in iPhoto ’09

Face Detection

Face DetectionThe first new toy that I was eager to play with was the new Face Recognition feature. But, before any of that, iPhoto has to look through your library and find all of the faces within your photographs. As you can see, iPhoto took about an hour to go through my 3,930 photographs that I had previously loaded into iPhoto and placed them into Events. I left mine overnight, because by the time I’d actually got round to installing iLife and rebooting my iMac, it was already… well… today.

I noticed that as it was going through, it was picking up multiple people in photos and also the faces of people that were in the background of the photos (with other people in the foreground) so I was very impressed with the level of detail in the detection of people’s faces, it even detects the sides of people’s faces! It even managed to find people in some of my not-successful night pictures without a flash where it would be difficult for a human to see a face, let alone an algorithm. It also made light work of my poorly scanned film photos and photos from my first digital camera, back in the day, which had an amazing(!) 640×480 resolution.

It seemed to whizz through photos pretty quickly so I’m confident it won’t take very long at all for iPhoto to handle a ‘normal’ import of photos.

An amusing anomaly was the fact that iPhoto managed to recognise the “face” of a goat produced with flowers for the Hope Valley Well Dressing last year:

Face Detection gone mad!

Face Detection gone mad!

Face Recognition

Empty Faces Corkboard

This was one feature that I was a bit skeptical of in the Keynote. I thought it would be an idea that would be good in practice but doesn’t really work in reality. I was therefore pleasantly suprised to find that it actually works quite well.

For those who don’t know, you simply select one of your pictures from your Library with some faces on it and you tell iPhoto who the picture is of. iPhoto will then look through your Library and looks for pictures that contains what it thinks is the same person. The more you confirm within iPhoto, the more reliable it becomes:

Dublin Faces

I was impressed that it iPhoto was able to recongise faces even if they weren’t looking directly at the camera and that it can sometimes recognise people even if they are pulling a funny face. I found that it likes certain people more than others and is therefore able to recognise them more easily. I also found that it seemed to recognise females more accurately than males.

It was also interesting to see that sometimes it me and my sister, Jill, mixed up. I suppose this has something to do with everyone saying we both look like my Dad. Interesting that it didn’t cross reference any photos of me as my Dad, Jill as my Dad or vice-versa.


PlacesUnfortunately, I don’t currently have a geo-tagging camera or an iPhone so I can’t really benefit from this new feature. That being, the ability to plot where you’ve taken all of your photographs onto a map.

You can go in manually and tell it where you took each photo, or a general location for an entire event/album. It’s not quite as good, but it gives you the idea. I found that whilst it handles cities and towns very well, it doesn’t recognise many locations (like Museums, etc) outside of London. You therefore have to find them via their postcode, road and town.

Photo Upload

Photo Upload OptionsThe new version of iPhoto has a wide range of options for you to be able to upload your photographs to other places, particularly on the Internet. Along with the familiar export to e-mail and iWeb (iLife’s Web Authoring Application) you can now upload to MobileMe (Apple’s replacement to .Mac and rival to Microsoft’s Mesh), Facebook and Flickr. I’m really excited about these because it means that I can now use iPhoto to centralise all of my Photographs and what I do with them. It means that I will be able to load my Photographs straight into iPhoto from my camera, rotate/crop them and then upload them straight to the relevant place depending on what the photos are, without having to then re-export them from iPhoto, log into Facebook/Flickr and then make an album and upload them. Now, it’s all just one click!


I’ve always been a big fan of the Slideshow capabilities with iPhoto. It’s one of the reasons I bought a Mac in the first place. As mentioned before, it’s often that I get asked to do slideshows for family and church events.

The best feature in my opinion is infact the most boring one. A complete redesign of the way iPhoto exports the slideshows. The slideshows always look awesome in iPhoto, but sometimes they looked awful after being exported and you often found that the slideshow wouldn’t open in anything, including Apple’s own iTunes and you couldn’t play them back on the Apple TV. Now, Apple have made it possible for, not only for you to play them back on these devices and automatically add them to iTunes, but to be able to choose the size of the exported slideshow file. Previously, when exporting video, videos were 800×600 wether you liked it or not!

Apple have also introduced Themed Slideshows, much like the titles with iMovie. So you can now create a great looking slideshow within seconds along with all the usual music and transitions. I thought rather than rabbiting on about these, I’d just upload one:

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

So there you are. If you have a Mac, it’s certainly worth buying and if you have friends and/or family with Macs, club together and go for the Family Pack license. If you haven’t got a Mac, why not, go out and buy one now!

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Posted by Chalky on Jan 28, 2009 in Technology

SpamI don’t know if anyone else is having this problem since installing WordPress 2.7…

Every time I reply to a Blog Post Comment using the Reply button in the WordPress Admin Panel, Akismet always marks it as SPAM. It’s getting quite irritating because I often don’t notice for a while because one would assume that it would work properly for a valid logged in user. It’s not even like anything I say in the Replies should trigger any sort of filtering anyway!



Posted by Chalky on Jan 26, 2009 in Music

Some of you will know that I am a lover of Piano Versions of songs, particularly ones that you wouldn’t normally expect to sound good on a Piano.

After a recent mishap with my Music Collection, I’ve been having a look round at some different music and came across some Piano Collections. A particularly interesting one is a Piano Collection of some Paramore songs.

My personal favourite is the Piano Cover of Decode, from the recent film Twilight:


Decode - Original Version


Decode - Piano Version

I think it’s really is wonderful that a song like this can sound so great being played solely on the Piano.

Information about the Piano Collection can be found here.


What's on the cards?…

Posted by Chalky on Jan 23, 2009 in Random

A friend offered to do me a Tarot Reading. I have always been very skeptical of this but with recent events, thought I might as well give it a shot. I mean, what have I got to lose? I can’t kill me, can it?

Recently, I’ve been having a few second thoughts about work so I asked it a couple of questions. The first being:

Should I apply for another job?

This first time, I drew one card:

Ten of Pentacles

Ten of Pentacles

If we could wish for any of the Pentacle cards this would be the one! The 10 of Pentacles represents all the wonderful conditions and material things we can accomplish in this lifetime.

This card shows a stable family with the riches we all dream of. This family has worked hard for long periods of time, maybe even generations, to accomplish this type of security: The grandparents, parents, and children represent several generations of acquiring this financial stability.

This card comes up often when the purchase of a large item, such as a house or car, is in your future. You have the money or the financing to be able to attain your dream with the 10 of Pentacles. If it seems out of your reach, your family may be able to help or a bank loan is on the horizon.

everything is simply wonderful in the world now. Not only do you have money, you have security as well. Your wise investments will last a long time, providing a strong stable foundation for future generations as well as for yourself. Great wealth or great security! We’ll take both!


So, it was looking pretty good for getting a new job perhaps. So I asked another question:

If I stick with Leggott, will I receive a suitable pay rise?

This time, I drew 3 cards to represent the Past, Present and Future:



The Hermit (Reversed)

The Hermit (Reversed)


When The Hermit is reversed, the Lantern of Truth is about to go out. As the light fades, The Hermit feels the cold in the air, and the snow comes down upon him. Then the light goes out, and when this happens you may need to review a few lessons you might have missed. Upside down, no one is listening to The Hermit and he truly feels alone in the darkness; even his walking stick can’t balance him anymore.

In his reversed position, The Hermit suggests that wisdom is disregarded. Perhaps you’re not listening to your own advice, or paying attention to others who have been there before. History can repeat itself, remember, and your refusal to learn from your past can lead to foolish decisions. There’s also a tendency to daydream or wish for something to happen without taking any action when this card appears. The Hermit reversed can mean your head’s in the clouds. so you’re unaware of how dark it really is outside.


4 of Wands (Reversed)

Four of Wands (Reversed)


This is a good card either way! The 4 of Wands reversed represents that, while the celebration isn’t as big or spectacular, nonetheless, congratulations are due. When the 4 of Wands is reversed, you’re learning to appreciate the little joys of life, such as the first flower to blossom in sprint, the first step a baby makes, a breath of fresh air, the final payment on the mortgage!

These are the blessings in the life you often see but sometimes don’t notice. The 4 of Wands reversed is thankful for the people and conditions around you and happy that the basics are secured. It’s time to give a little thanks for that you do have, not batter how big or small.


Nine of Swords (Reversed)

Nine of Swords (Reversed)


In it’s reversed meaning, the 9 of Swords shows the woman getting through the traumatic event or conditions in her life. Time will bring healing as all things heal with time. Tomorrow is a new day.

Patience and prayer can help you pass through the long journey. This card can indicate that the goodness of a loved one is coming, or that the life-threatening surgery was a success. The dark cloud of trauma will pass and you’ll have developed strength of character because of it, along with the awareness that you can surmount a major tragedy.

So, on the face of it, it would seem I should be pretty safe if I stick with JLC. Interesting!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn into a crazy person living my life by Tarot Cards, Fate and Fortune Telling, but I just thought that it was interesting. I suppose there’s only one way to find out if the Cards were right, but I’m still no closer to deciding what I should do!



Posted by Chalky on Jan 21, 2009 in Random

Well, I finally got round to trying Pepsi Raw:

Pepsi Raw

I didn’t choose it out becuase I really fancied it but the delightful Norton didn’t have any Pepsi in the pump so only had a glass bottle of Diet Coke or a 2 Litre Bottle of Diet Pepsi as alternatives as well as the Raw. I thought I might as well give it a whirl. I wish I hadn’t!

I have to say it’s not as bad a Red Bull Cola, but it isn’t much better. To sum up, Asda’s Own Brand Cola tastes better than both Pepsi Raw and Red Bull Cola!



Posted by Chalky on Jan 21, 2009 in Random

I didn’t see any of the Inauguration Ceremony of Barack Obama yesterday.

I really don’t understand the hype. To me, it’s a complete opposite to what’s it’s supposed to represent. People all over the world are hyping it up because having a Black President is a step towards Racial Equality.

But, to me, the fact that they are making a big song and dance about this means exactly the opposite. It there was complete Equality, it wouldn’t matter it Obama was Black, White, Green or Blue. The fact that it does, means that there isn’t.

I don’t want to start any arguments, but let me put it this way. Does anyone actually know what any of Obama’s policies actually are. I imagine that 90% of people don’t. Says it all really.


Dilbert’s New Business

Posted by Chalky on Jan 19, 2009 in Work

To lighten the mood a little, we’ve had the Daily Dilbert cartoon on the College Intranet (based on Sharepoint) for a couple of months. I like the Diblert cartoons because, although lighthearted, are very true to life!

Today’s particularily struck me as being sneaky and clever with a subtle advert, as all adverts should be:

Clever Advertising

dilbertfilesThe domain is valid and hosts a new MegaUpload type site but seemingly aimed at more advanced/corporate users with a plug-in for Outlook to help you send large files to friends and colleagues without having problems with upload limits on your e-mail system.



Chalky’s 2008 Charts

Posted by Chalky on Jan 1, 2009 in Music
Last.fm LastGraph

My Listening History

The end of another year has now been and gone so this morning, I had a look at my favourite Artists and Songs of 2008:

Top 20 Artists for 2008

Top 20 Artists for 2008

 This year was dominated by Blue Man Group who have been up there since I saw them in March. A close second being Paramore who I was fortunate to be introduced to be Heather earlier in the year which culminated in us going to see them twice this year! Amongst others are Cobra Starship and Alkaline Trio whom I saw at Give It A Name at the Sheffield Arena in May (the first gig featuring Paramore).

Overall, it’s been a good year for music. I’ve managed to get myself to a couple of gigs which has been good and with Cobra Starship and Blue Man Group cued up for 2009 already I’m hoping it’s going to be another good year!