AOL Testing Facial Recognition Image Organizer for Your Photos

I haven't read anything else about this, but AOL has a prototype of a facial recognition image organizer available for download at their beta site, AOL Greenhouse. It has a fairly poor interface, so once you start to tag your photos going back and viewing them is, say, not even close to as easy as with Picasa. Still, it does identify faces in pictures pretty well, groups similar faces, and is fairly intelligent in tagging people once you've begun training it. In early testing, it seems to be more accurate than Riya, but isn't even as usable as Riya's web interface.

The problem with this, of course, and the problem with Riya, Flickr, Picasa, etc, is that they all have their good and their bad, but none of them are as strong as I want them to be. Picasa is necessary for managing a full collection of photos on your desktop, but Picasa Web Albums is limited in storage and usability, so I need to have Flickr on the web. Flickr is a step behind in web functions, though, and could definitely benefit from the addition of some AI such as facial recognition.

So now I have photos in Picasa, in AOL Image Organizer, on Flickr, on Riya, on Picasa Web Albums, and a few scattered on things like Zooomer. What I really want is the ability to share information from site to site - share geotagging, facial tagging, descriptions, etc, and important/sync the data across the storage / community sites. It simply takes too much work to manage a large collection of pictures at this point, and no one property is strong enough to handle all of my wants.

So is anyone else writing about AOL Image Organizer? Is anything out there going to tackle these problems?


Watch The Office for free online

Some friends pointed me to free episodes of the first 3 seasons of The Office (the American version):

Season 1: http://blog.coolz0r.com/2006/12/24/the-office-us-season-1/
Season 2: http://blog.coolz0r.com/2006/12/26/the-office-us-season-2/
Season 3: http://blog.coolz0r.com/2006/12/23/the-office-us-version/

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UPDATE: If these links don't work anymore, you can check out tvparadise or openhulu (or better, Hulu, when it launches publicly).


Google makes 20 cents per search

From the BusinessWeek article "Why Yahoo's Panama Won't Be Enough" (pointed out by Greg Lindin)

Using data on total search queries, released by comScore, Caris Co. analyst Tim Boyd estimates that Yahoo made on average between 10 cents and 11 cents per search in 2006, bringing in a total of $1.61 billion for the first nine months of the year.

Google, meanwhile, makes between 19 cents and 21 cents per search. As a result, it made an estimated $4.99 billion during the same period.

It's amazing the Google is twice as efficient at making money off search advertising than anyone else. Better targeting, better advertising model, it makes paid search that much more valuable to the user and therefore allows them to cash in at twice the rate. Keep in mind they also own half the search market.

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The Implicit Web

Fred Wilson (A_VC) Is writing about the "implicit web", where everything we do on the web is tracked and we have access to all of our historical information to improve our future actions. You can read his article here or see the section below, but I'll say this for why the concept is significant to me. A lot of the Web 2.0 world revolves around social communities and information sharing. Something like 30Boxes is great as a social calendar, Digg is great, Del.icio.us is great, but since I'm basically the only person I know using most of these things, and I don't tap in often to the community at large, I'm not generating a great deal of benefit from them. Fred Wilson's concept of the explicit web generates benefit from the actions I take myself, and can generate value from. It's about aggregating information that it takes in when I listen to music in ten different ways, look at pictures on ten different sides, read news in millions of places, and utilizes my information pool overall to enhance my experiences. This would be a huge benefit to someone who utilizes the web heavily but doesn't do it in a large communal sense.

Fred Wilson: "the explicit web is all about the value that will accrue to an
Internet user when their every action is tracked, recorded, and used to
provide value back to that user. There is also a second order play when
that clickstream activity is shared with the user's permission with
everyone else.

My favorite example, which I used in that original myware post, is
last.fm. I give last.fm the permission to capture all my iTunes
listens. I publish that data on my blog (left sidebar) and the data is
also published on my last.fm profile page.
I can go back and look at the what I listened to most last week, month,
year, etc. But more importantly, I can use the data about what I am
listening to currently to surface new recommendations via musical
neighbors. And because I share all that data with the entire network,
my listens inform others in their search for new music."

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A Google Video Wired NextFest Infrared X-ray story

So almost 3 months ago I posted a few videos I took from the Wired NextFest in New York City. In that time, it received somewhere around 75 views, over the entire duration.

Randomly I looked at my Google Video stats and noticed that in the last few days, almost 73,000 people have watched the Infrared X-ray video I posted from Wired! I didn't really believe it, but then checking on the page shows that there's not only views, but over 50 ratings and 10 comments, discussing the legitimacy of the video, potential harms of the machine, etc.

I took a look over at Technorati to see how was linking to the video, and 18 sites now have links to it. It looks like first someone at Spoozer Magazine picked it up, and then someone at Ubergizmo posted on it, which has over 1,100 blogs repeatedly linking to it and therefore suggests strong readership.

All in all, I'm surprised and impressed at how quickly a viral video can spread in two days, from 75 to 73,000 people.

Social Music etc - Last.FM , Rhapsody , Digg , Del.icio.us

Is anyone using Last.fm or any other social music service? Do you use Rhapsody or Yottamusic? For that matter is anyone using Digg or Del.icio.us?

I just started using last.fm... it's currently keeping track of everything I listen to on windows media player or iTunes, and building out a music profile for me that it can make recommendations against. Unfortunately it doesn't always work in catching the music, including if I replay an album that I've already seen it catch. Is this a fluke?

Are there other social oriented sites that I'm not using that I should give a shot?

Matisyahu at the Hammerstein Ballroom 12/19/2006

On Tuesday night I went with a few people to see Matisyahu play at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. It was his third and final show in the city, and the 5th night of Channukah. For those of you not familiar with him, Matisyahu is a Chassidic Orthodox Reggae rapper. He sings in authentic Reggae style, but lyrically ties in with Judaism and spirituality.
Put simply, the show was incredible. From a talent standpoint, Matisyahu is extremely impressive - he sings, raps, does beat box, dances, the works. From an entertainment standpoint, too, he owned the crowd - walking out into the crowd, climbing up into the high levels, bringing out guest stars (including Israeli rappers and well known Reggae singers) and mixing up his style.

More significant to me though was how he managed to embrace the crowd and the significance of playing during the holiday. He spoke of singing the same words that King David spoke thousands of years before, spoke about voyage to Jerusalem, and called out for people to hold their candles high when he saw anyone who had snuck in a Menorah pull it out and light it.
To end the night, Matisyahu brought out his mother and her sing the prayers, as well as light a giant Menorah for the 5th night of Channukah. In a moving feat, the entire crowd seemed to with her, focused on the candles. It was an amazing cultural phenomenon and display of Jewish life that seems rare in such a setting, and I was extremely proud to be a part of it.

Here are some videos from the night that I found on YouTube (thank you to everyone who posted them):
Singing "Indestructible" at the beginning of the concert

Doing a beat box solo (starts around 1:25 in the video)

Speaking of King David


Free 1GB SD Card

From Gizmodo, for anyone who uses SD cards in their digital camera, here's a free 1 GB card if you can wait for a rebate:


"Get a Kingston SD 1GB memory card for $50 from Buy.com, use Google Checkout to save $20 off the purchase, and then there's a $30 mail-in rebate that's good for purchases made between now and December 23. Grand total: $0.00. Kingston 1GB Secure Digital Card (SD) - SD/1GBKR"

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ESPN Sports Conspiracy Theory Rumors

So in a dinner with ESPN last night I got to hear a few great sports conspiracy theories, some new some old, that I thought I'd share:

The common one: Michael Jordan had a forced retirement from the NBA for two years because he was caught betting on basketball, and rather than face a public suspension, he "retired" for the proper amount of time

The uncommon one: Cal Ripken Jr was close to breaking his streak, when he came home one night to find his Wife sleeping with his Gardener. He beat up the Gardener and was brought to jail. Rather than risk him missing the start of the game, the Orioles claimed there was a power shortage at the stadium and delayed the game until he could arrive. Insiders say there's enough energy reserve at the Orioles stadium that they could practically light a city.

The rare one: Phil Mickelson had a few kids with affairs out of wedlock. SI got the exclusive on the story, and was set to break it. Ford, who Phil Mickelson represents as the spokesperson for a car line, called and threatened that if they broke the story Ford would never spend another dime with SI. Since then, the story has never been confirmed or aired.

Facebook Yahoo purchase offer leaked

The Facebook valuation that Yahoo put together when apparently making a purchase offer of over $1 Billion were leaked... you can see their financial projections here:

JibJab 2006 Year in Review

JibJab has their 2006 year in review video out:

Firefox 3.0 Alpha 1 (Codename Gran Paradiso) Available

Just a quick note...Firefox 3 Alpha 1 (Codename Gran Paradiso) is now available for download...as a matter of fact this posting was written using it. Not too many changes that the average user will notice however many of them are detailed here and here. You can download here if you want to. As usual, many of your extensions will not work with the new version however many still will including the gmail and yahoo mail notifiers, ie tab and the outlook and phoenity themes. Hope you all give it a shot and remember, this is not a final version by any means and is not intended for public use so use at your own risk!


AOL Giving Away Free Movies on 12/2/06


Supposedly AOL is giving away 30 free movie downloads this coming Saturday (so far I don't see anything about the promotion on the site), as a pre-holiday celebration. After 6 a.m. EST on Saturday everyone will get one free movie download, which usually goes for $10 - $20 dollars. Among the options will be National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Spiderman 2.

Update: This promotion is mostly worthless - it doesn't seem like you download the movies using Firefox or IE7. This seems pretty rediculous considering Windows already rolled out IE7 in automatic update, meaning plenty of people won't be able to get the free movie without downgrading their browser. Unless I'm missing something, that's a cheap move by AOL to drum up publicity without delivering much.