Good bye iPhoto hello Photos, Picasa and maybe Fotobounce and GeoTag

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Well, Apple is changing things again. Now they have stopped development of iPhoto and they have basically ported Photos from iOS. Here are the problems for folks with a decent number of photos (how about 20K!):

  • Apple is focused on people with relativeliy small collections and everything is stored in the iCloud. You have to pay quite a bit for it. With a 400GB library of every photo taken for decades, it means at least $20/month just for 1TB. And it does mean that *every* device sees it all, but it definitely quite a bit to store on a 16GB iPhone. I’m not quite sure how all that happens.
  • iPhoto moves loses the Faces feature and reimplements on Photos (which I’ve used) and in the process the thing has gotten amazingly slow (it is still grinding away at 100% cpu utilization against my image database, it is huge, but wow is it sluggish). Also, you now have to drag and drop faces onto it and it doesn’t seem to find many matches. So on to the idea could be done with an independent application so I’m trying one now. It is actually still there which is kind of a relief and in some ways is easier, but Fotobounce is pretty powerful too.
  • Photos has lost the geotag feature so you can’t manually set your photo locations (although you can still change the time). This is a real bummer for those of us who have been scanning old photos in without GPS information or with digital photos taken with traditional cameras. There are some tools like GeoTag and Geotagger that do this standalone using the command line exiftool. Geotagger uses Google Earth to find places and then you just drop photos on top (pretty nice user interface idea, but it is old) which GeoTag is newer and written in Swift, but needs exiftools to work.

The main question is how to handle the most recent photos and albums to share without having to push an entire photo library into the cloud. I actually have kept all photos independing of these viewers and asset managers as they have bugs (corrupted iPhoto libraries) and are proprietary and expensive (Adobe). It sure would be nice to find a solution, but it looks like it is a good idea to remain somewhat independent, so here are the initial thoughts:

  • Keep things in a file system. Seems like there are so many alternatives now in terms of storage (from Google’s unlimited store, Flickrs 1TB store, OneDrive 1TB store and Apple remains so expensive unfortunately).
  • Figure out a way not to cache everything on iOS devices as they are limited, so use the Shared album feature to store specific curated albums rather than every photo ever done. So basically keep taking photos off the Photo Library and put them back in curated shared albums. 
  • Use third party pieces to continue to do the various workflow like face recognition and have separate folders for that.

So here’s the plan:

  1. Manage the 5GB free to be just shared albums, we will keep that to the last two years of highlights
  2. Put the rest of the photos into more traditional backup with three NAS systems (I know, I know I also need ZFS working on that), plus Crashplan for offline backup.
  3. Try FotoBounce, Picassa and Photos face detection. Ideally this should be kept in separate databases 

Right now fotobounce and picassa are trying to digest 180K photos. No easy task! So here is a quick review of third party facial recognition programs sorted in order of usefulness to me:

  • Picasa. I usually don’t like to use Google software for privacy reasons, but for some reason they’ve kept Picasa relatively separate. It has the fastest user interface for finding faces. The trick is to use the People creator and look for question marks. Then use the arrow bar well. The top and bottom most arrows scroll you to the top of the next person or previous. So you want to keep clicking the bottom most arrow and then look through the faces. If you right click on a face, then it let’s you in one click move to a different “album” (Photos Faces is way slower and always shows a screen in between). New Person is really slow to come up and for some reason loses focus on a Mac, so you have to ALT-TAB to get to it. 
  • iPhoto Faces. This thing was just unbearably slow and didn’t find many faces even when I spent hours clicking
  • Photos Faces. I’m glad they didn’t delete this feature! It is just hard to find. The sidebar is off by default, but if you turn it on, then you will see it. And now they let you drag and drop faces from the window below up to the circular areas so much faster. It is grinding and doesn’t seem to find many matches
  • Fotobounce. I really want to support smaller companies but the interface is really, really slow with 180K photos 🙂 It just seems to process and process. When you try to take an unidentified set and create a new one, it can take minutes to create albeit on a pretty slow 2009 iMac. And keeps grinding away as you type, very disconcerting from a user interface point of view.

The other nice things about Picasa:

  • It adds the name tag directly into the JPG. This is a little scary but at least it is permanent. With iPhoto Faces if you corrupted the iPhoto library (very frequently this would happen on these big systems), then all tags are lost. Problem is most applications don’t read the tags and it can always corrupt the JPG.
  • It is very fast to find new faces, so once you are at the bottom, keep hitting confirm. Sometimes, the confirm button doesn’t work so hit it a few times. 
  • The behavior of the scroll bar is pretty useful. The lowest arrow takes you to the next face. The arrow above scrolls down one row. If you click on the grey area, it scrolls down three rows.
  • If you confirm once, it will immediately show you more faces that might work, so you can keep hitting confirm until it is all gone. When all the question marks are finished on the people on the left pane, you are done 🙂 So then you go to the top and work again on the unnamed section. 
  • This is the only product I’ve found that lets you click on the face you find and see the whole image and then you can hit the back arrow at the top to go back. Sometimes you need more context 🙂

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