Saturday, April 09, 2016

People-searching with Google Photos and VPN

Google Photos sorts your pictures into albums based on places and features. In the States, it will also set up albums of people, who you can tag by name. Misguided privacy laws outside of North America have led Google to disable this facial-recognition feature there. But it's quite useful.

This was the proximate reason I was keen to set up a VPN on my android devices, to relocate me virtually to the States. Here's the procedure:
"A footnote on the Google Photos website says that “[Facial recognition] feature isn’t available in all countries,” probably due to privacy laws, but there’s a simple workaround that will help you bring face detection in your Google Photos, no matter where you are.

  1. Go to your Android phone settings, select “Apps”, then select “Photos” under the “Downloaded” section and click the “Clear Data” button to reset your Google Photos app.
  2. Go to the Google Play store and download TunnelBear or Hola or any of your favorite VPN apps.
  3. Open the VPN app and connect. It will essentially trick Photos into thinking that you are connecting from US, a country that is supported by Google Photos for facial recognition.
  4. Open the Google Photos app, scroll past the wizard screen and then under Settings, enable the option that says “Group Similar Faces – Auto Group photos by matching faces.”

"That’s it.

"Disable, or even uninstall, the VPN app, launch Google Photos again and tap the blue search button. You should see a list of faces that Google Photos was able to detect from your uploaded photos. And the feature will automatically become available on as well."
It all works though you have to give the Google AI machine sufficient time to search and catalogue your photos - a few hours should do it.


Being as I had the VPN, I was able to track down the scurrilous story of the 'British celebrity threesome injunction scandal'. While obviously I have no interest in prurient tittle-tattle, I take this as a challenge to my Internet skills.

In fact this story is not all over the American media. The mainstream papers don't want to gratuitously undermine a British legal decision. It was left to the ******** ******** to splash the story on its front page. Naturally I can't let you in on the secret.


In unrelated news, I spent a large part of yesterday preparing for our upcoming holiday where we'll take in the Tour de Yorkshire, the moors, Scarborough, Whitby and York. Naturally we've made arrangements for the cat who can miss us terribly.

Clare reviewed my admin document, strewn with parking places and GPS coordinates. How she laughed! Never watch the sausages being made, I say ... .

We're not the only ones contemplating the virtues of a holiday.

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