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    Photo Library Management Options (June 2021)

     Now that Google has stopped offering unlimited photo and video storage (June 2021), I have had to reassess the options.

    What I want a photo management system to do is:

    • automatically synchronise online and offline photos
    • allow choice of which photos are synchronised
    • offer an offline local app to view, search, edit and manage the photo library
    • allow meta tagging of photos consistent with EXIF standards (so that images shared outside the system carry this data with them
    • perform facial recognition on photos and movies to maket easier
    • perform content analysis on photos to make tagging easier
    • enable sharing between family member, with friends, and even publically.
    • have low pricing
    None of the systems on offer has all these features.

    Amazon Photos

    • DOES automatically synchronise online and offline photos using Amazon Photos App
    • DOES NOT OFFER an offline local app to view, search, edit and manage the photo library.  There is no desktop app. ie. Amazon offers only a website view of your library.  The mobile apps also use the cloud versions of photos to operate.
    • DOES allow choice of which photos are synchronised (because it only stores photos that have you choose to synchronise or upload.  There is also automatic upload (not synchronisation) from mobile devices into the cloud photo library.
    • DOES NOT allow meta tagging of photos consistent with EXIF standards (so that images shared outside the system carry this data with them). 
    • DOES NOT perform facial recognition on photos and movies to make tagging easier
    • DOES NOT perform content analysis on photos to make tagging easier.
    • DOES NOT have any search capability !!!!!
    • DOES NOT provide sharing options.
    • DOES have low pricing but with unusual features: 
      • 1Tb for AU$110 per year, BUT
      • If you are a Amazon Prime member (it is NOT enough to just be a Amazon Prime Video member), you get unlimited photo storage, but only 5Gb for movies (which is totally inadequate for most members).
      Amazon's "honey" is, not unexpectedly, cheap storage (i.e. unlimited photos).  They provide little "value adding" to their storage offer making them a poor choice for photo library management.


      Google Photos

      • DOES NOT OFFER automatic synchronisation of any online and offline photos.  Some third party apps have attempted this but they all fail.
      • DOES NOT OFFER an offline local app to view, search, edit and manage the photo library.  There is no desktop app. ie.e Google offers only a website view of your library.  The mobile apps also use the cloud versions of photos to operate.
      • DOES allow choice of which photos are synchronised (because it only stores photos that have you choose to upload i.e. there is no automatic synchronisation from a designated local offline folder.  There is automatic upload (not synchronisation) from mobile devices into the cloud photo library.
      • DOES allow very limited EXIF editing (date, description/caption, location).  Does NOT allow user created tags (assuming that google photo analysis is all that the user could want).  DOES perform facial recognition on photos and movies to make face tagging easier. Images shared outside the system DO NOT carry any of this data with them. 
      • DOES perform content analysis on photos to make tagging easier
      • DOES have very flexible sharing of albums, faces and the whole library with family.
      • DOES have low pricing: 2Tb for AU$125 (May2021)
      The "honey trap":  Google's "honey" is, not unexpectedly, superb facial recognition and photo content analysis, with limited manual metatag editing and searching. 
      Their "trap" is that NONE of the facial recognition, object recognition,  image description etc, data is exportable (either in individual image downloads or most likely through Google TakeOut).  You lose it all if you move away from Google.


      Apple Photos

      • DOES OFFER automatic synchronisation of online and offline photos. 
      • DOES OFFER an offline local app to view, search, edit and manage the photo library.  Apple Photos website view of your library is very limited.  The mobile apps also intelligently synchronise with the cloud versions of photos.  New photos added on any devices (e.g. phone etc) are synchronised and updated on other devices including the offline desktop versions.
      • DOES allow choice of which photos are synchronised, BUT it is messy an hard to limit online storage needs by selecting photos that do not need to be uploaded:  unselect the “Copy items to the Photos library” tick box; manually export photos from the library that are no longer required online; delete the original photos from the library; import of the photos as "referenced files" (which can be searched, but are not visible in iCloud)
      • DOES allow limited EXIF editing (date, description/caption, location).  Allows user created tags.  and these are embedded into the photo file ONLY when/if photos are exported. Facial and object recognition data are not included in the exported photos.
      • DOES perform facial recognition on photos and movies (good, but not as good as Google) to make face tagging easier. Images shared outside the system DO NOT carry any of this data with them. 
      • DOES perform content analysis on photos to make tagging easier
      • DOES NOT have flexible sharing of faces or the whole library with family.  Smart albums can be created by the desktop app to contain all photos of a person, place or type of image but no smart album can be shared.  When Apple talks of "sharing", it usually means "sending" a copy.  The "Shared Albums" are a great manual method of sharing, with limits of  
      • DOES NOT have low pricing: 2Tb for AU$180 (May2021)  BUT this storage can be shared across "family" so that a 2 household family could share the cost and easily fit their collections within the 2Tb limit for many years.  As users can only be a member of one family, this needs to be set up early before seperate families buy too many App purchases under different family groups.
      The "honey trap":  The Apple Photos iOS and desktop software is beautifully integrated with good facial recognition and photo content analysis, good metatag editing and searching on the Mac desktop.  (Nothing is provided for the Window User).
      Their "trap" the difficulty of designating photos as not "online" thus making the online library "all or nothing" necessitating the jump to the expensive 2Tb subscription;  limited ability to share viewing of complete photo libraries with family; limited ability to share the 2Tb due to needing to be a member of a "family"; the bloat of the local offline library due to retention of all edited versions; the loss of control of original photos requiring manual export for sharing;


      Microsoft OneDrive Photos

      • DOES OFFER automatic synchronisation of any online and offline photos.  All photos are stored within OneDrive like any other files.
      • DOES NOT OFFER an offline local app to view, search, edit and manage the photo library.  There is no desktop app. ie. Microsoft offers only a website view of your library.  But users can then choose to manage their photo libraries with any photo library software (e.g. free and excellent Adobe Bridge).  The mobile apps also use the cloud versions of photos.
      • DOES allow choice of which photos are synchronised just by locating them in the OneDrive folder on desktop.  There is automatic upload from mobile devices into the cloud photo library, and these are then automatically downloaded to the local offline OneDrive folder on your computer.
      • DOES allow very limited EXIF editing online (ONLY description/caption), but ANY EXIF updates (all tags, location data, date, etc etc) made to the offline local copy will automatically sync to the cloud version.  
      • DOES NOT perform facial recognition on photos and movies.
      • DOES perform LIMITED ONLINE content analysis on photos to make tagging easier, but the local offline image is not updated with any of these tags.
      • DOES have very flexible sharing of albums and the whole library with family, friends or even the public !
      • DOES have low pricing
        • 1Tb for AU$99 (May2021)
        • 6Tb for $129 (but each Tb is a separate library intended for each family member)
      Microsoft's "honey" is, not unexpectedly, the bundling of Microsoft Office Apps (both online and local computer versions). 
      They have no "trap" in that users remain in total control of all files and metadata.  It is very easy to share the complete library with "family" members with view or edit capability.

      Their glaring omission is absence of facial recognition, limited object recognition and a rather basic mobile App to find photos.

      For me the current winner is Microsoft OneDrive mainly on price, but also on giving users full control of files, tagging, sharing etc. etc.

      I am hoping that their mobile app improves, and their online server starts to offer facial recognition. 

      Pandemic Poem

       But some people felt trapped and alone

      They felt they were in prison instead of at home.

      They could not work so their money ran out.

      They began to get angry at the people about.

      The government borrowed to give them a hand

      But the little money offered ran through fingers like sand

      They had to borrow more money fresh from a bank 

      “I cannot imagine how I’ll pay this all back”

      “Is my job gone forever” they silently feared

      “The business I worked for has disappeared !”

      The man who solved the market (Gregory Zuckerman)

       

      Great book !!!  Very easy read. 

      Amazing plotting of the how advanced in mathematical modeling, computing power, and programming sophistication allowed traders to find gold within smaller and shorter market fluctuations. 

      So much wealth without ever making a widget in the real world....  

      The link to Trump’s US presidential win win was emblematic of the way that tech money has effectively created new rulers  - twitter and google - the unelected filterers and selectors of the planet's information.

      The Flow


      We all follow the flow at some times and in some things.

      A life in which we had to universally evaluate the consequences of each action would be full of tension, uncertainty and ultimately disappointment at our inability to have all the necessary data at our fingertips at every moment.

      The "flow" allows us to reduce our decision-making burden down to things that we intuit are more crucial for our personal arbitrary value hierarchy.

      We move ourselves into jobs, locations, friendship groups/bubbles where we can feel more "flow" and thus avoid the tension of constant challenge.

      Nevertheless, many of us also feel the need and, in fact, enjoy the lifelong attempt to construct a model of the universe in our heads that is constantly adjusting to new data.

      Sometimes this model exposes a clash of our values with the flow, and we then seek to examine, explain and consider alternate actions.... and the flow changes direction slightly.

      e.g. My son challenges me to defend my consumption of meat, and I find that my value set has an obvious internal inconsistency so far ignored in my life. 
      As usual, I am looking for a technical fix (artificial meat) and have decided to live with the existing flow (ahhhh bacon !) for the time being. Nevertheless, I am less comfortable with this aspect of my behaviour.

      As always, the truth is contingent and partial.

      GMail archiving is more important now that Google is removing "free" photo uploads

      Now that Google has announced that it will count all photos uploaded after Jun 2021 within the standard 15Gb storage limit of free accounts, it is more important to review what data you need online if you are going to remain free. 

      Many people unconsciously use GMail as a defacto document storage system: "Email me that invoice"; "Email me that picture of the damage" etc etc.

      These attachments use up online storage. As they get older, they need to be access less and less - probably never - but who wants to spend time evaluating each email from the past each year to check if they still need to be retained.

      I have tried a number of approaches to backing up mail via the IMAP interface of programs such as MacMail and Outlook, but the "copy" and "move"  operations on both these systems "choke" and fail when I try to backup the thousands of emails with attachments in year of emails.

      The system that I have found works reliably uses Gmail Labels and Google TakeOut:

      GMail Labelling

      • Open Gmail and select "All Mail", then find all mail before a certain date (I do this year by year leaving the past 5 years online) using a search term such as "before:2016/01/01" to select all main from 2015 and before.

      Google Misleading Messages may lose your emails......

      • Click the selection box to select emails that satisfy the search criteria
      • Click "Select all message that match this search"
      • This is unlikely to select all the messages !!!!!
      • Keep clicking the > sign until it goes grey (indicating that you have got to then end of the emails selected).
      • Then click "Select all message that match this search" to get all the messages
      • Click "Labels" and label all the selected emails e.e. "Before2016"



    • you now have a label that can reliably select all emails that that you found.


    • Google TakeOut - Download all labelled emails.

      • Toggle the selection to Deselect all, then scroll down to select only GMail

      • Click "All Mail data Included" to see the list of available labels.  Select ONLY the label placed on the emails that you want to archive, accept the defaults and click "Create Export"

       



      • After a while (depending on the size of your archive and how busy Google is !), you will get an email.  Click "Download your files".

      • After they download, uncompress them and you will see a folder:
      • You can browse your emails directly from this folder whenever you like.
      • Most people would like to have the emails collected into an email program on their computer (like Outlook or MacMail) for easier searching.
      • On a mac computer, Open MacMail and File..... Import Mailboxes

      • the Mac will import the mail in "mbox" format.

      • The archive will appear in MacMail

      • After checking that all the mail has been copied into your Archive, you can choose to delete the Google download, or you could put it on an external drive for safe keeping.
      • If you delete the google download, you should make sure that your computer is being backed up (e.g. Apple TimeMachine)

        GMail - Deleting the Archived emails

        • Now that you know your emails have made it to the archive, return to Gmail, select the label, select all emails, and click "Delete"
        • Confirm bulk action

        • And they are gone.

        • Your google storage will be adjusted after a month !!
        • To recover your storage immediately, go the GMail bin and click "Empty Bin Now"

        Falling Leaves (Mah)

        All autobiographies are fiction. Where else would you accept without question years of recollection from a victim - or a perpetrator. Nevertheless autobiography is honest fiction as the bias of the author is obvious and openly declared.

        In “Falling Leaves”, Adeline Yen Mah, recounts her passive acceptance of extreme cruelty from almost all her family members again and again and again. She gives no explanation of why so many of her family were such horrible people other than weakness and greed for access to the immense wealth that her mother-in-law controlled. 
        The extreme abuse is endured in secret by family members nearly all their lives due to the poisonous Chinese cultural belief in saving family “face”.  Mah offers herself to family members for more abuse again and again throughout her life. Mah is perpetually the innocent, brilliant and, most frequently, passive victim in her life story.

        To me, her blamelessness rang hollow and I yearned for other witnesses. To me, her contacts with her family, especially in later years, were masochistic.

        The best character in the book for me was Aunt Baba who showed insight, courage and creativity in so many contacts with Mah.

        The best part of the book was the least reliable i.e. the description of historical events that affected the life of Mah and all her family members.   It is so dangerous but so convincing to read fiction that weaves through history. Our belief in the characters lends credence to their experience of historical events. We incorrectly and dangerously feel that we understand history better.

        The book is an extended experience of “rubbernecking” where we attempt to learn as much as possible about tragic events while feeling pleasure at having been lucky to avoid being the victim ourselves.

        iMovie - Making your first movie

         File Management:  Movies are often huge files.  Movies contain duplicates of the movie clips from cameras or phones.

        • Create a folder on the desktop named after your movie project e.g. "2020-12-31 Boys Trampoline"
        • Copy into this folder all "source" files (movie clips, still photos and audio files) that you want to use in your movie. 
          If you don't want to keep an editable version of the movie project, then delete the movie clips after you copy them to the folder so that the new finished movie will replace them in your "Photos" app.  
          (Yes I know iMovie will connect to the "Photos" and "Music" apps automatically, but, if you wish to archive an editable version of the project, we cannot rely on the same track existing in your "Music" app, or the same photo remaining in your "Photos" app.)
        • Open iMovie - File - Open Library - New

        In the moment with COVID-19

        Every school morning, my brother John and I would escape the cocoon of 4 Ivy St, Burwood and set off towards Ely Road. 

        I remember vividly, the carefree childhood saunter where each foot was thrown forward in the approximate direction of travel while the schoolbag was swung in exploratory arcs that sometimes surprised others or oneself.  

        Every morning was the start of an adventure and any option for meandering was to be taken. There was usually at least one house under construction somewhere along our street as suburbia smothered the Burwood fields.  Here were places to explore and things to pull, wield or throw. 

         At 6, I did not worry about destinations or deadlines.  Responsibility was not in my vocabulary. I was “in the moment” and scanned the world with the eyes of a tourist.  Somedays, there would be puddles to throw rocks into. On freezing mornings, panes of ice could be smashed. I was constantly scanning for objects to squash, scuff, pick up or throw. The freedom from adults was intoxicating. 

        The Social Dilemma: Some proposals

        As social media companies have grown throughout the world, there have been growing concerns that they are increasing social conflict by individually "feeding" information to "users" that moves their interest more and more toward extreme content. The most egregious of these are the murders and suicides streamed to large numbers of people.

        The social media companies initially claimed that they were "neutral platforms" that hosted information but were not responsible for it.  Increasingly, they have accepted responsibility for "curating" extreme content, and employed large numbers of people and built AI to act as censors.  This response has failed to prevent abuses in many instances and also been criticised because of the growing political bias being included in the brief of the censors.