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How Google’s AI can eliminate the need to keyword photos

Here’s a video I made that points the way forward when it comes to indexing and searching our photography libraries:

Google has built some truly amazing object and scene recognition AI (artificial intelligence) into its Google Photos service. By comparison, the drudgery of manual keywording we currently have to do, not only after we import our photos into the software we use to manage them (Photos, Bridge, Lightroom, etc.), but also when we upload our photos to stock photography websites (for those of us who do that) is downright archaic. The artificial intelligence algorithms that Google uses on the photos uploaded to its service do all of that automatically. They index every photo and identify every object, scene, face, logo, etc., whatever you can think of, and they’re constantly being improved.

You don’t have to be a pro photographer to take advantage of this AI. Even your personal photographs become easily searchable once you upload them to Google Photos, without any manual keywording. Try it and you’ll be amazed, just like I was.

By the way, Google is not paying me to say this. I just love the work they did on their photos AI. Furthermore, I wrote a post critiquing their buggy desktop Backup and Sync software which uploads our photos to their platform.


My Drobo review is first at Google

A couple of days ago, I noticed an increase in the traffic to my Firewire Drobo review, most of it from search engines, so I did a quick search on Google for the phrase “drobo review“, which is what people were using to find me. To my surprise, my review was the first search result that came up! I’d been in the #2 spot for a long time, just under CNET, for the same phrase, but now, without having made any changes to my review since I’d written it, I ranked first.


This makes me happy, because when I created my site, I wanted to sit down and write good articles while staying away from any unethical SEO tricks or even white-hat SEO tricks like keyword loading and other such unappealing, tedious stuff. I just wanted to create good content and get noticed because of that, not because I’d tricked the search engines into ranking me higher up the page. That would have been an empty success indeed.

It also makes me happy because I like my Drobos. So far, they’ve worked well for me, and I’m glad I’ve found a reliable and expandable way to store all my data. It’s also worthwhile to note that my Firewire Drobo review was published months after it came out officially. I did not get a review unit, I didn’t have to pull any strings to be among the first to get one, and I didn’t spend a feverish night working on my review after it first came out. You know how the press clamors to get review units of products when they first come out… I didn’t do that, and it’s very refreshing to see that after taking my time and really putting my Firewire Drobo through its paces, intensively, for a prolonged period of time, I was able to write a truthful review that is now ranked first at Google.

It’s been about three years of intensive writing, and my work has begun to pay off. (I began publishing multiple articles per week in 2006. I’d only been publishing sporadically until then.) In 2007, almost two years ago, I noticed I was getting more and more traffic from search engines, and made a list of the articles that were getting noticed. For a lot of them, I was either on the first page of search results, or among the first few search results, right at the top.

Still, it’s something to be the first search result for what is a fairly common tech phrase such as “drobo review”, and it really makes my day that I, a writer working alone, using WordPress and hosting my site on my own little Ubuntu web server at SliceHost, has outranked CNET and other big names such as Engadget and others, on Google, the world’s biggest search engine. It serves to illustrate very well a point Matt Cutts from Google has made time and time again: just focus on writing good content, and the rest will come. You’ll get indexed, and as your site builds a larger collection of articles, your online trust will cause you to rise up among the search results, until you make it to the top. You don’t need tricks, you don’t need to get headaches from trying to squeeze SEO juice out of every paragraph and page title and others — you just need to write informative articles.

I’d like to thank God for this. You see, I live by certain principles which are rooted in my religious beliefs, most notably in the Ten Commandments found in the Bible. When I began to write online and created my site, I didn’t want to steal, and I didn’t want to lie. Taking content from others (content-scraping) is theft, so I don’t condone it or do it. Using dirty SEO tricks to rank higher in search results is also theft, because those who do it are robbing others of those spots and robbing tech engineers at search companies of their time, which they will have to use to modify algorithms and clean up the search results. And using those same dirty SEO tricks is effectively a lie, because those who do it are misrepresenting their websites and their articles. That’s not me, I don’t want to do those things, and I’m really glad to see that God proved me right when I stuck by my principles. I’m also glad to see that a company such as Google exists, and that it rewards honest, forthright behavior.


Photographs for sale

My photographs (a select number of them) are now up for sale through both Alamy and the PhotoShelter Collection. Here are the links:

Alamy presents you with a search page first. To see my photos without doing a search, just click on my name. PhotoShelter presents you with the photos right away.

Of course, you can still purchase any of the photographs I post here by simply contacting me via email and indicating the photo you’d like to purchase. More info on this is available on my Photos for Sale page. But for those of you that prefer a more streamlined look and an instant price quote, Alamy and the PhotoShelter Collection should do nicely.

If you should lose the links to my sites at Alamy and PhotoShelter, don’t worry, I’ve made it easy by listing them in the sidebar. Just look for this section:

Purchase my photographs

Happy shopping and many thanks!

How To

How to hack Windows Desktop Search and turn it into a dictionary

If there are some of you out there using the beta version of Windows Desktop Search – you know, the one that imitates both Spotlight and Google Desktop Search – then you probably know it’s alright.

I’m amazed that Microsoft has actually turned out a usable piece of software that doesn’t crash. I like it because it starts finding documents as soon as you start typing (like Spotlight), and the search index is live, unlike the Google Desktop Search, which is time-delayed, and also contains bad entries for files you’ve moved or deleted.

When you search with WDS, you get the option to search your Desktop, or the Web. Well, there’s one huge caveat: don’t bother searching the web with the Microsoft Live Web Search, or MSN Web Search, or whatever the heck they call it these days. It’s downright pathetic, and if you’re using IE 7 Beta, it may even crash the browser. Fortunately, Google has come up with a solution. Just surf over to their main site, and within IE 7, you’ll get a JavaScript note (not window) in the top right corner of the web page, that will invite you to set your IE search engine to Google’s. Run the tool, and do that.

Now, for the fun dictionary hack. In the Windows Desktop Search bar (located in the taskbar), type the usual Google shortcut for searching definitions: “define:word”, then click on the Web button. Bingo! Now you’ve got your very own dictionary, neatly accessible right from the taskbar. Enjoy!


IconSurf: the visual search engine

I’ve been meaning to post about IconSurf for some time. It’s a cool site/search engine that lets you search for other sites based on their favicon graphics – you know, the .ico files that reside at the root level of sites, they show up in your browser’s address bar, next to the URI. What’s stopped me is that the site loads very slowly. I thought its author would do something about it, but since nothing’s changed in a few months, I guess that’s about as fast as it’ll get.

Still, as frustrating as it is to use, it’s an interesting concept. You can alphabetize the sites in its directory (over 40,000 at the time of this writing) by TLD (top-level domain), by starting character (a, b, c, d, etc.) or search by a keyword or phrase within the URI. Obviously, this is a basic sort of search functionality, but it does let you narrow your search, and as I said, the site is interesting-enough overall to make you forget about its limitations.

Just think about the possibilities! If a proper image-search engine is put in place, you could organize the sites by color schemes (primary colors, pastels, etc.), by shapes (round, square, oval, etc.), by colors (ex: find a site that uses red in its favicon). This engine has possibilities!

I encourage you to give it a try! Go to it, then step away from the computer for a couple of minutes while it loads. When you come back, you’ll have a nice surprise. Enjoy!