bookmark_borderIs this iPhoto?

I’ve been playing around with iPhoto on and off ever since Complexli bought the Mac mini for me.

In particular, I’m interested in face recognition. It would be so nice if all your photos could be tagged correctly to show who’s in them.

However, I’m less than impressed with iPhoto’s performance in this area.

One thing is that the face recognition on its own is quite bad. I appreciate it’s a hard thing to do well. It appears to me, though, that it’s doing a worse job recognising the blond members of the family, such as Léon, than spotting the darker ones, such as Anna. I read somewhere that it’s been developed by a Japanese company, which might explain this.

However, I have two major complaints.

Firstly, if you upload a lot of photos in one go (I tried about 15,000), it will keep processing faces in the background forever. It’s now been running almost constantly for over a week, so I think it might have entered an infinite loop somewhere. This means that it will almost never make a suggestion, and it keeps one processor 100% busy constantly, which is not great for system performance.

Secondly, it seems not to use any other information when making guesses.

For instance, if ten photos have been taken within half an hour, and the nine of them contain only Léon, wouldn’t it be reasonable to suggest that the tenth also contains him? iPhoto doesn’t think so: It will happily suggest it’s Léon on one photo, Anna on the next one, then Gordon, then Charlotte, and so on.

Also, it doesn’t seem to take dates into consideration. If there’s a baby in a photo, it’s a good guess that it might be Marcel if the photo is from 1997 or 1998, Charlotte if it’s 2000, Léon if it’s 2005 or 2006, and Anna if it’s 2007 or 2008. But iPhoto will happily make suggestions that are not reasonable given that all photos have a date stamp.

It’s so frustrating to know that it could easily be improved, but it’s closed source, so I can’t do anything.

I prefer open source!

bookmark_borderOur new local shop

Waitrose, Otley
Originally uploaded by reinholdbehringer

They’re building a lot of houses, business premises, a school and some roundabouts on some fields between us and the motorway. (That is, they started building them a couple of years ago, but most of them seem to have put on hold when the recession started to bite.)

The posters also seemed to indicate that there would be some kind of shop.

I always thought it was a great location because it’s so close to a motorway onramp, but I didn’t know what kind of chain that would go for this.

Today we got the answer:

In 2011 Scotland’s biggest Waitrose will open there, just five minutes’ walk from our house.

I’m not sure we can afford to make that our main shop for groceries, but I’m sure it’ll be a good place to get certain products, so I’m looking forward to it!

bookmark_borderSchwäbisch schwätza uff Youtube

I was raised bilingually. However, it wasn’t Danish and standard German I grew up speaking, as some people might think, it was Danish and Swabian (Schwäbisch).

These days even my dad hardly ever speaks Swabian any more, and Swabian speakers aren’t exactly ubiquitous in Scotland, so it often feels like I’m the only remaining speaker.

So imagine my joy when I realised that Youtube is positively full of Swabian videos, such as the following parodies!


Star Wars:

John Wayne:

bookmark_borderIf the pound collapses…

Few Pounds
Originally uploaded by René Ehrhardt

Of course the financial problems are not restricted to the UK, but as the recent news that this country is contracting shows, it’s definitely worse off than many similar places.

That means that it’s not impossible that the pound will fall even further.

So it’s worth asking what the effects will be if the pound collapses, e.g., to €1 = $1.50 = £2 (it’s £0.92 at the moment).

Obviously, holidays and many importing goods will become unaffordable to most Britons, and the UK might become a very popular tourist destination.

However, the effects will surely be very different depending on who you are.

For instance, if you’re exporting goods or services, you’re likely to be much better off, and that will most likely have an effect on all people working in such industries.

Also, some jobs are very international, because people can very easily take their skills and find an equivalent job in other countries. The typical example is doctors, but I presume the same is true for investment bankers, engineers and others.

On the other hand, some jobs just don’t travel very well, so lawyers, civil servants, teachers and many low-paid workers will probably find it much harder to argue that they need a huge salary increase to counterbalance the effects of the low pound.

The same is true for those not in work, such as the unemployed and the pensioners.

A low pound would also make it rather unattractive to come here to work. Imagine a job paying £10 an hour here, but €8 in Slovakia. It would have seemed really attractive to a Slovakian a couple a years ago, marginally better at the moment, but very unattractive if the pound collapsed.

On the other hand, it would possibly lead to mass emigration from Britain because so many jobs would be better paid abroad.

bookmark_borderNo respect for engineering

Abandoned factory in Lurgan
Originally uploaded by slinky2000

There’s a post on John Redwood’s blog, which has comments that largely are more interesting than the article itself.

Do read through the comments if you’ve got the time.

Here follow a few excepts.

“Bill” wrote: “There are some exceptions of course, in the aerospace industry in particular, but manufacturing does not attract the brightest and the best, they go into the law, medicine, the city. Not so in Germany […]”

“Mick Anderson” wrote: “As for “careers in engineering” – if your primary choice of employers are all small companies, you are limited in how you can grow your skills. Small companies need people who can adapt to fill many roles – this is a useful skill in this environment, but not a route to a seat on the board of a multi-national! Let’s face it, the entire board of directors for the average engineering firm is often the two blokes who initially started the company in a garage.”

“Simon D” wrote: “However, there are huge cultural problems. The last thing that the home counties and metropolitan middle class want is for Julian and Samantha to end up in manufacturing after all that sweat over their education. Far better to be a City lawyer or banker or some kind of media hot shot. Working for Government quangos is also OK. Better paid and better prospects. The last thing anybody needs is to be stuck in some failing manufacturing town in the Midlands or the North of England.”

“OurSally” wrote: “So, now we’re long gone you suddenly decide you need us after all. We engineers left the country in the 80s and 90s, leaving the rest of you to handle low wages, stupid managers and people who think engineers repair cars. Here in Germany we get a constant stream of disaffected Brits looking for (and finding) a better world. We get paid as much as doctors, and a Dipl.Ing. commands the same respect as a professor. […] You want us back? Pay decent wages, copyright the word Engineer, give us 6 weeks holiday and Christmas boni and a decent canteen.”

“Brian E” wrote: “When I had contacts with the Germans, I was always addressed as “Herr Ing” and treated with the same respect as Doctors and Lawyers. The French had a similar attitude and there engineering is treated as probably the top profession; in both countries the pay reflects the status of the work, unlike the UK where it is probably the worst paid of all those occupations requiring formal qualifications. […] Yes I enjoyed my work, but in retirement I am probably the worst off of all the various professionals that I know and would certainly not recommend anyone intending to work in he UK to go into engineering.”

“Daedalus” wrote: “And then you have the engineers reporting at a lower level to production all to drive down the costs of employing you. The thought of getting a job that pays £65K is a dream for most engineers.”

It’s interesting how not a single commenter tried to defend the current situation.