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#648: Faces & Places in iPhoto '09, Repair of the Week, iLife is Shipping & Google's Bad Day


Happy Tuesday,

We saw some significant snowfall around this time last week, and it’s great to finally see the entire region covered in snow. Tony and I couldn’t resist taking Friday off to snowmobile up in Island Pond, VT, just a few miles south of the Canadian border. Conditions were excellent, and, being a weekday and all, the trails were pretty empty for the 100 mile ride. I think Owen had as much fun as we did—he spent two whole days with Rebecca, intrepid Small Dog technician, consultant, and one of Owen’s very best friends.

I decided to take advantage of Microsoft’s offer of a free download of Windows 7 two weeks ago, and last night finally got around to installing it under Boot Camp on my MacBook Air. I haven’t made time yet to get to know it, but I’m going to give myself a chance to use it at home to get a better sense of the direction Windows is taking. It’s been a long time since I’ve spent any time with Windows, but immediately I was struck by the similarities between the new Windows 7 and the XP Professional I came to know in a past life. Next week I’ll share some more detailed impressions of that yet-to-be-released operating system.

Until then, thanks for reading and keep in touch.


  Faces, The New Way To Waste Time  

When iLife ’08 came out, I spent countless hours obsessively organizing my photos into events in iPhoto. Why? Because Apple let me and I felt compelled to take advantage of a feature that I honestly haven’t used much since. Last week, I finally got around to installing iLife ’09, and today when I fired up iPhoto, I smiled as Places and Faces diligently searched my iPhoto Library finding new ways to help me sort my photos. Places is pretty straight-forward, it just checks the meta-data of your photos for locations and maps them for you.

Since I’ve been using my iPhone to import photos for the past year, it was able to map quite a bit of my adventures. Pretty neat feature! Faces, on the other hand, re-triggered my somewhat-dormant OCD and I found myself lost playing it’s never-ending matching game of who’s-who in my life.

I have a lot of photos. I have a lot of photos of people. I have a lot of photos of the same people. Faces goes through your iPhoto library and identifies what it thinks are people’s faces. Then it relies on your will and dedication to go through and tell it who those people are. For example, I have a lot of pictures of my friend Greg. I found a few photos of him and labeled those faces with Greg’s name. Then, my Faces tab showed me a pile of other pictures that it thought might be Greg. Some were, some weren’t.

After approving the photos that were him it then showed me another batch of related photos that it thought were of him, and I could then approve or deny those. Eventually it gave up. At that point I went back to my library and continued tagging more and more photos with the names of my friends and relatives and then would approve and deny faces recommendations for more photos of them.

For the most part it was a fun time-suck, and I admit I enjoy having the Faces cork-board interface to show me my friends lined up in Polaroid frames. That said, there are certainly some flaws. For instance, it has great difficulty recognizing my friends with beards, and in many instances it wouldn’t even recognize a bearded friend as a “face” (though you can manually add face squares to your pictures). As many have already lamented, it does not recognize pets, so all the endless photos of my cats will continue to go untagged and I will continue to pretend that I’m not really a crazy cat lady.

I also noticed that the more pictures I tagged with the same person’s name, the more it seemed to confuse the feature. For example, I also have quite a few pictures of my friend Sunny. Some are low-lit, well-lit, shot from different angles, and shot over a long enough period of time that her hair changed quite a bit. At first iPhoto was able to identify her in a few other shots, but as I tagged more and more pictures of her, it stopped coming up with suggestions for more of her look-a-likes. I was able to repeat this with other friends and family members who I have varying quality of pictures of.

All-in-all, if you have some time to kill and you really like labeling things then give Faces a try. If nothing else, it’s quite amusing to see what it comes up with for look-a-like suggestions. For example, it not only thinks I look like a few of my former female co-workers, but it also thinks I look like my Dad (sweet until you realize he’s an older partially-balding man with a full beard), one of my best male-friends and several bald men. I’m hoping that Faces doesn’t have magical powers of seeing into my future as a Rogaine representative.

  Even Google Has Bad Days  

Over the weekend, the Small Dog support e-mail box was flooded with the same two questions. “Is Google broken, or is my computer broken?” and “I thought Macs are immune to the crap out there on the Internet—what gives?”

Google was actually broken. Clicking on any search result would yield a message saying “This site may harm your computer.” Because it was impossible to click through, Google was for about forty minutes completely and utterly useless.

Google does a pretty good job of warning users of susceptible computers (Windows PCs) when they are about to navigate to a potentially harmful site. Not only does the company follow its own motto, “Don’t be evil,” it proactively works with a non profit called to establish a list of confirmed malicious sites and prevent its users from being exposed to evil in the first place.

And yes—Macs are immune to the malware so common on Windows computers. Don’t worry!

  Repair of the Week  

A 12-inch PowerBook G4 found its way to the Small Dog service facility in South Burlington this week. After upgrading from 10.4.11 to 10.5.4, Mail would no longer display the tens of thousands of e-mails archived there. While it shouldn’t be, it is still very surprising to me that so many computer users never ever back up their computers, even when their entire business depends on the data on their machines. This customer was lucky that it only took a good scare to get her backing up. It seems to me that most customers only back up their hard drives after catastrophe.

First step, as with most all software problems, was to ensure everything was up to date. Software Update in the Apple Menu took care of the 10.5.6 upgrade and a few more. After restarting, the problem persisted.

While it is almost always possible to come up with a solution by one’s self, it is almost always more efficient to ask Google if nothing immediately comes to mind. I did just that, and came up with the answer on Apple’s support discussions site.

After quitting Mail, the key was to remove the Envelope Index File (~/Library/Mail/Envelope Index) from the user account. Then, the following was pasted into Terminal:
defaults remove JunkMailBehaviorHasBeenConfigured
defaults remove JunkMailHeaderFlags
defaults remove JunkMailInfoPanelHasBeenShown
defaults remove JunkViewerAttributes
defaults remove LastTimeJunkWasVisited
defaults remove NumberOfMessagesMarkedAsJunk
defaults remove NumberOfMessagesMarkedAsNotJunk
defaults remove UseJunkMailHeaderFlags

After pressing Return, I quit out of Terminal and launched Mail. The setup guide appeared, and following the instructions and answering questions logically, the mail database was re-imported—folders, rules, and all preferences intact.

  Our Tech Department Behind the Scenes  

Ever wanted to know what the tech department at an Apple Specialist does all day? Well here you go… see the behind the scenes look on our blog:

Barkings blog: Embedded With The South Burlington Service Department

  A New Mail Server  

After 12 Years of faithful service, we are replacing LetterRip Professional with a modified version of Mailman. The new software should be faster and more reliable, which means you should get Tech Tails quicker every week—or at all (win win!).

  iLife '09 Is Now in Every New Mac!  

Make sure your new Mac has the latest version of iLife! As of now, all Macs shipped from Small Dog will either have iLife ’09 pre-installed, a DVD insert of the upgrade, or be eligible for an instant $9.95 rebate.**

You can upgrade to iLife ’09 for $9.95 if you have a qualifying Mac with iLife ’08. The Up-To-Date Program ends March 28, 2009, and applies to Macs bought on or after January 6, 2009.

» See all qualifying computer models here.

» Download the iLife ’09 Up-To-Date form here.

Still have questions? Email us at or give us a call at 800-511-MACS; we’d be happy to assist you.

Note that the $9.95 coupon applies only to the purchase of the following Mac (all other Macs include iLife ’09 in the box):
MacBook Air 1.6GHz 2GB/80GB

» iLife Retail Boxes are also in stock!

**The iLife Up-To-Date program (and subsequent coupon) is applicable for new Macs only; not valid for demo or used product.

  SPECIALS | 02/03/09 - 02/10/09  

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See all specials on our Specials Page.

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