Before I get to the second half of my course review from Sunday, I wanted to point out a couple of very helpful tools I've found in MyHeritage.com and Picasa 3. I recently started scanning in photos - some of people who I recognized; some, I didn't. Using facial recognition tools, I was able to identify quite a few people - to the delight of those related to people in the pictures :)
I use MyHeritage.com to post and share my family tree, and Google's Picasa 3 for simple photo editing (the "I'm Feeling Lucky" feature on Picasa 3 has saved me a great deal of editing time). Both are free - although MyHeritage does have a fee structure to host large amounts of content. Lately, I've gotten interested in a nifty new feature of both - facial scanning and tagging.
Picasa can recognize faces, so that you can name everyone in your photos - great for organizing and sharing photos. I haven't fully explored this feature, as it is new and the photo scanning process seems to be a long one (it's still going on my computer - maybe I'll edit this post when it's finished).
MyHeritage's new "tag people" feature is very impressive. It scans all of the photos you've uploaded, and picks out the faces in each. The site idoes not recognize faces that are blurry, very small or those which are in heavy shadow. Tagging people is very quick and simple. MyHeritage recognizes faces that may be from the same person, and I've found that it is correct most of the time. It then allows you to associate that face with a person from any family tree you have uploaded to MyHeritage, and it automatically assigns that picture to display in your family tree next to the person's name. This makes your family tree much more interesting to look at - a plus if you are trying to "pull" your family in to view it (like I am).
Once you've identified a few faces, the "Tag People" feature will try to match any faces it finds in your photos to someone you have identified in your tree, and will display the quality of each match as a percentage. This has been very helpful in my research, because it has allowed me to compare hundreds of photos and tag people in them very quickly and easily.
MyHeritage also has a couple of fun facial-recognition features to play around with. You can see which celebrities you and your family members most resemble, and make animate morphs and collages from these matches. Regular users of the site may have noticed that when viewing a picture, there is a "Match to Celebrities" button above it. There's also a feature that compares a baby or child's face to those of his/her parents, and calculates which parent the child most resembles. I look more like my Mom, by 18%!
Many of you fellow researchers probably know about these already, but I thought I'd share just in case.