I want facial recognition software, why can’t I have it?

I have thousands of pictures… most of them aren’t tagged. Even my new batches of pictures only get tagged about 20% of the time. I really want a set of tools that will help me get this done. Companies are out there working on it but I want it now!

I realize there is some stuff out there, but it is all server-based. You could go into all sorts of privacy discussions (and people have) about doing it this way… but really, I just want to make sure I have a tagged copy for myself. Picassa’s web album tagging is fairly painless and would do what I need… if only it would sync the tags back down to my PC (it doesn’t).

Look, I know there are companies out there that have the code to do this. What are you waiting for? A revenue stream. At this point I’m ready to hire someone in China or India to go through my pictures by hand.

Sneaking your dog into the office and other reasons to use speech recognition

Today is one of those rare days that I have no meetings.  And also happens to be a day that Paula needs to spend time getting ready for a house guest.  Finney is a good dog but he can be kind of needy.  To free up Paula I brought Finney into the office

For one complication was sneaking Finney into the office, however, is that when he is in new situations he gets nervous and whines a lot.  Now, sneaking a dog into the office doesn’t work very well if the dog is making a lot of noise.  The way to keep a nervous Finney quiet is to continuously pet him.  While petting him keeps him quiet, my hands are unable to do any typing.  Sounds like a good reason to try out speech recognition.

It may be my microphone, or it may just be that I need to do more training of the speech recognition, but my initial use has been slow going.  I’ve been using speech recognition to type this blog post, and I find that it is taking me three times as long as it would take if I were typing.  I can touch type and and fairly accustomed to putting my thoughts down directly from brain to fingers.  Part of the delay, I am finding, is expressing my thoughts in this new manner.  If I stare at the screen waiting for my words to appear, I’m brain just freezes.  There is a significant delay between voicing a word and having it appear on the screen.  For the touch typist who is used to seeing the output immediately on the screen it is distracting to have to pause ones stream of consciousness while waiting for the computer to interpret your words.

I also find if I speak too quickly the computer will run my words together to form similar sounding words.  This is usually frustrating as it requires frequent editing of the sentence is high and have just dictated.  Most commonly the errors are in the form of incorrect words but it gets even more frustrating when the dictation is incorrectly interpreted as commands to the program (it has tried several times to close this blog post prematurely).  It does, however, provide some amount of amusement when it makes errors like taking ” down directly” and turning it into ” downed rectally.”

As I struggle through, however, I find that through a combination of training the speech recognition engine and training Reeves, I am getting better at am using text to speech.  I wonder if I’ll ever get to the point where I can speak naturally to the computer and have it be acceptably accurate.

Election results widget

I went looking for a Vista Sidebar Gadget to watch election results but didn’t find any in the Live Gallery.  I figured I’d just have to be “Old Fashioned” and refresh a web page so went to MSNBC (after finding CNN appeared to be melting) and found they have gadgets for all kinds of interfaces (FaceBook, MySpace, etc.) including a sidebar gadget and blog embed code.  If you’re biting your nails waiting for results, you may want to go pick up one in your favorite flavor.

Edit: Removed live gadget and inserted image for posterity.

Turning on AutoComplete to make IE’s history useful

For ages I’ve been annoyed by the IE history drop down which appears when you start typing an address. Here’s the thing, most of the work we do is stored on our SharePoint server at work. This means that if I start to type the URL of the server I’ll get a massive autocomplete list pop down in IE. This makes the recent history that drops down completely useless for me.

Now, however, thanks to Sean (via Omar) I have been shown the light. I followed the simple steps and my life is now better.


My Favorite (hidden) IE feature

Whenever I install Windows on a new PC (which in my daily work happens far more frequently than I care to admit), there’s one* setting that I always tweak before doing anything else:

Internet Options, Advanced tab, "Use inline AutoComplete"

What this does is enables autocomplete of URLs (and other commands) in the address bar, instead of just as a drop-down.

Here is an example. Let’s say I visit both the IEblog (http://blogs.msdn.com/ie) and the RSS team blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/rssteam) regularly.

The next time I go to the address bar, I type "blo". IE shows me this:

Then I hit the right arrow (essentially to accept the text it’s given me), and I type "r":

Press enter, and I’m at my favorite blog!

Bonus feature: this works in every address bar: explorer, the run dialog, and system-supplied open/save dialogs, and any app that uses the system edit control (and enables URL autocomplete).
Double bonus: this works in IE6 as well (but upgrade to IE7 now!).

Downside, you probably should be a touch typist before turning this on. If you’re not paying attention to the screen while you type, you may inadvertently navigate to something you didn’t want to. Windows developer guru and part-time Windows historian has blogged about this, so I don’t have to (note: you should read the comments to see the correction to how he describes the feature — it doesn’t change the basic point, however).

* Truth in advertising: there were two settings I always changed. The second was to turn off "reuse windows for launching shortcuts" — a highly annoying feature of IE6 that picked one of my open windows and changed the page being viewed whenever I clicked on a link in Outlook or elsewhere. It was designed to help users keep the number of windows being opened under control. But IE7’s tabs make that unnecessary, because now the default is to open a new tab in the same window. Both problems solved!