Humans in image recognition

It looks like humans aren’t all that useless when it comes to technology.  There are still a few areas that we do better than machines.  Image recognition is one of them.  TechCrunch runs the story about one company that seems to be using humans in image recognition process.  Comments to that story also mention Google doing the same.

To me it feels like a problem with timing.  There is a need to tag and search a whole lot of images.  But there is no good automated solution available.  So we are falling back on humans.  It’s easy to come up with a few other areas, in which there is a need today for solutions which won’t even be here tomorrow.  Technology needs help, I guess.

The return of the categories

Once again it has been proven how unstable and messy I am in my data organization.  This blog already went through a few iterations of categories, tags, and sections reorganizations.  However, it seems this not the end just yet.

I have decided to bring back the categories.  They were chopped into pieces last time when tags came along.  But tags are way too flexible and messy when I have no strict rules on how to apply  them.  So I ended up with a whole lot of tags which looks, sound, and spell very similar, but not exactly the same.  Hopefully, there will be more order with categories now. I intend to use categories in conjunction with tags.  Categories will be few and major, while tags will be more flexible and many.

Also, this will provide for an easier access for those of you who come here to read certain types of posts (Personal and not Technology, or Movies and not Blogging).  If you are interested in everything, then there is a category All for you.

P.S.: Note that for each category there is an RSS feed, which should be picked up by your browser or feed reader auto-discovery feature.

Upgraded to WordPress 2.3.1

I’m doing lots of silly stuff.  Who else could post a few articles in the morning, and then start with major WordPress upgrade?  Surely, there was a disruption of service while many of your came to read the posts.  Sorry, guys.

The good news is that I finally did it.  The blog was lagging behind the recent security updates and new features, running on WordPress 2.2.2 .  Today I updated it first to 2.2.3, which went without any problems.  Then I went for 2.3.1, which broke a few things.  I had to remove a few files and re-upload them and then fix a few places in the database and adjust the theme a bit.

All my posts were under a single category, and were tagged with Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin, which WordPress 2.3 provided an import for.  That thing didn’t work properly.  Probably, because I have a few thousands of posts, and a few thousands of tags, and importing them all takes more time than a browser is willing to wait without timing out.

But I don’t care for that right now.  It was a mess anyway.  Some posts got tags imported, others didn’t.  I’m not going back to fix them all. What’s done is done and it’s time to move on.  All posts will still remain under the single category (General), but that won’t be displayed.  Instead, you’ll see the tags to each post.  I’ll try to keep them orderly, and maybe even organize them a bit later.  For now, if you want to find something, use the search box of this site, Google, or drop me a line and I’ll try to locate the bit for you.

If you notice any misbehavior of the site, please let me know.  Thank you.

Mobloging photography with Flickr

I have decided to use Flickr for yet another purpose of mine – mobloging photography. Basically, I have configured my Flickr account to work with email. From now, whenever I don’t have my camera with me, I’ll use my phone to make a picture and will immediately send it to Flickr. It will automatically tag all such pictures with ‘cameraphone’ (also ‘mobile’, ‘moblog’, and ‘p800’ but that can change).

If you have the mobile phone with camera and email, you can do the same. Login to Flickr and configure upload by email. And than you can tag you pictures with ‘cameraphone’ too. Automatically. And than we can all be a part of one huge international group that tags their pictures with ‘cameraphone’.

That’s fun. Here are my pictures so far (I’ve uploaded some old ones that were in the phone) :

And here are the global pictures of all Flickr users that used ‘cameraphone’ as a tag :

More disturbances

If you thought that I’m done with changes, think again. There is plenty going on behind the scenes. In fact, so much is changing that I better write about it before I forget.

For starters, I messing around with the theme. I didn’t manage to make it look exactly like I want yet, but I succeded in braking browser compatibility. It only looks nice in the Firefox now. Konqueror is the second runner up. It looks almost as good, but with few pixels moved left and right here and there. MSIE on the other hand is totally screwed. The funny thing is that the both HTML and CSS validate against just fine.

Than there are categories and tags. With excuses to McDonald’s advertising campaign – I’m loving it! I am talking about the Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin. I like it so much that I have removed all the categories today, except for the default one which just has to be there. Yes, you’ve heard me right. There are no categories for posts at all now. Tags only.

What’s so good about it you might ask. Well, plenty. Firstly, it imported all categories as tags. Than it imported all my Technorati tags too. Than it gave me an nice administration interface to manage tags. And than it has these totally cool concept of tag synonyms. I’ve been thinking about this for a year or so now and I was stunned to find it in this plugin. Basically, I can assign synonyms to tags and thus decrease the number of tags used on the site without losing any functionality. For example, I configured “Cyprus” to have synonyms “Nicosia”, “Lefcosia”, “Lefkosia”, “Paphos”, “Pafos”, “Limassol”, “Limassos”, “Larnaca”, and “Larnaka”. Now you can use any one of this sysnonyms or tag itself to get the same results. Consider for the moment the same synonym defined for two different tags!

With all these huge changes I of course have a lot of stuff to take care of. My usage of tags was very chaotic before. I didn’t have any naming scheme what-so-ever. My categories were marked badly in some cases. Dumping this all into tags scope didn’t make it all much nicer. I am fixing it all over the place and you might see gradual improvements. But even if you don’t,

stay with me. It’ll me over before you know.

New theme and new functionality

As you can see (unless, of course, you’re an RSS reader) I am working on a new theme for the site. The new theme is wider and utilizes screen space better. It also looks better and more consistent across different browsers.

But the new look is not the only thing that I am working on. There are some navigation changes and design simplifications (hopefuly). Long lists of categories and monthly archives are gone from the sidebar of the front page. They’ve been moved to the dedicated Archives page (more on it in a second), which is linked to from the top of all pages.

The top of the page also includes the link to the photo albums marked as Gallery. Many people were requesting this and I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier.

I have also installed and configured Ultimate Tag Warrior plugin which allows to integrate tagging deep into the site. The integration process hasn’t finished yet, so I’ll have to update you on the functionality later on.

One bit that I will notice now though is the tag cloud that is available in the Archives page. The tag cloud represents most used tags and allows quick navigation to posts marked with those tags. The bigger the tag name more often it was used.

Anyway, as you can understand, the site undergoes some changes now and might not be very stable. If you encounter an empty page, broken link or an ugly message with debug dump, please don’t shoot me just yet. Everything will be back to normal very soon. Also note that none of the old functionality should be lost. If I forgot to enable something that you used before and thus can’t anymor, please drop me a line.

Tagging calendars

While playing around with Delicious I thought about how useful it would be to have a calendar which could operate with tags. This way, a jazz festival in Cyprus that is going to happen in Cyprus during 16-18 of September this year, for example, could have been tagged as “jazz”, “festivals”, “events”, “music”, “cyprus” as well as “16sep2005”, “17sep2005”, “18sep2005”. And maybe even as “year2005” and “september”.

It is easy to find some format to express dates and times – there is no question about that. After that is done, the set of events can be represented in a variety of forms. The usual calendar table could be filled using the date format. The list of events for a certain month or year could be combined. Or it could even be categorised based on tags.

It would be possible to make queries like “Show me the list of music events that are planned for September 2005 in Cyprus” or “Show me the list of Cyprus festivals”. These could be easily used together with the usual calendaring stuff like “What is planned for September?”.

If there was some calendaring application that could work with Delicious it would awesome! Just think of the possibilities! A combined calendar of events with geographic locations and links to website for more information maintained by a bunch of interested people. And since Delicious provides RSS feeds for everything, it would be really easy to update and monitor such a calendar. That would be partially competing with the service provided by Airset. Purhaps there are even some commercial applications that could be based on this service.

Now all we need is for someone to create it…

Tags in system applications

I was thinking about how cool tags are. They truly help finding bookmarked or themed information faster. Keeping up with important issues is much easier too.

But are there any good uses for tags in system applications? Sure, there are. One particular area that springs to mind is font management.

After I have installed about 6,000 fonts on my computer I realized that it is extremely difficult for me to efficiently use them. There are no categories or bookmarks of any kind. There are not subfolders. There are no comments or descriptions. I would be willing to sort out and tag all these fonts once to be able to find the most appropriate font later.

KDE people? Anyone?

Technorati tags installed

I’ve installed Bunny’s Technorati Tags plugin for WordPress. I wanted Technorati integration for a long time now and I even partially had it with multiple categories and appropriate tagging. But from now on all limits are gone. I can link to a lot more information on the web easily and I will get additional traffic to my blog. WooHoo!