Futuristic Facial Recognition Is Here Now

faceIf you’ve ever wondered about that Hollywood technology you see in the movies that picks out all your beautiful faces from a crowd, just by using fairly low resolution cameras. Wonder no more.

That isn’t just Hollywood at work. It lives and breathes right now in the USA.

And it’s proved so effective that privacy groups have succeeded in getting a federal judge to rule that the database should come under further scrutiny.

The technology, called ‘Next Generation Identification’, is owned by the FBI and has created an enormous database of faces, that could easily include yours. That’s a vast resource of biometric data that has been collected ‘for your protection’, the purposes of which seem to be without much in the way of controls.

And the database isn’t just about scans of your face, there are also fingerprints in there as well as palm prints and scans of eyes.

The FBI Director says it doesn’t keep images of regular citizens, just those who may be wanted for crimes. But of course the database has to collect vast amounts of useless data and keep it long enough to determine that you are innocent of any crimes and should therefore be deleted. It  kind of feels like big brother has paid a visit.

Maybe it’s time to invest in some heavy makeup when you go out in public, to cover up some of those tell-tale features.

Solar Systems Better Than Ever

Solar power has been a long time in getting good. For far too long it had been more of a novelty than a mass market product.

Then it slowly moved into the green enthusiast arena.

And finally, we really are now starting to see systems that not only make some sense, but due to significant price drops, can actually give a realistic return on investment.

That is, they can pay for themselves and possibly even save you money in the long term.

And by that, I mean taking into account the installation costs.

Although that does depend greatly on your usage level, the specific equipment you choose to install, and of course how much sun falls on your roof.

Because there’s not much point putting up a roof full of solar panels if you only get a few hours direct sunlight a day. Not if you’re on the main electricity grid.

So if you do live somewhere where sun hours are good, and the sun is strong, then now is the time to look again at the options available locally. Areas such as Australia and Western Europe have made great strides, but solar power in New Zealand is really taking off too now (according to Martin).

As the Solar Association of NZ says, it’s now a smart choice.

But just be clear on your reasons for wanting a solar installation in the first place. Because ‘being green’ isn’t necessarily the best reason. That’s because best solar production hours are obviously in the Summer – and not so much in the Winter. Which means you’re going to fall back on mains electricity in Winter which is the peak demand period for everyone. So we’re not going to be closing down any power stations unless Winter sun volumes are high enough too. That is possible, just not everywhere – but Auckland could well be one of those places.

The key is to use the right technology in the right place. So don’t automatically make the assumption that solar PV panels are the thing to get. It may be that in your local situation a direct solar hot water systems may make a lot more sense – as for most of us, hot water is one of the most significant portions of our electricity consumption.

And solar hot water need not be a full system either. It can just be a simpler pre-heat system which doesn’t rely on pumping and complex controllers. Simpler of course means cheaper to install, and cheaper to maintain. Circulating pumps do not last forever!

So talk to a few local installers, and any neighbours with systems too, before even committing yourself to the type of system you think you would like. But start out with an open  mind, because you may find that what works best locally can be very different to what you imagined.

A footnote on efficiency. Don’t get too obsessed with efficiency ratings, particularly if you have lots of install space. Efficiency is just one of the factors to balance, particularly with cost. Yes, it’s great to have the most efficient panels possible, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend double the money on panels if you can simply install 1 extra less efficient panel to get the same output overall.

Back To A Low Tech Solution


I’m not sure if you can really call it a skin secret, but exfoliation is definitely something that many women forget about – and most men would never dream of doing.

Yet both men and women can greatly benefit from exfoliating regularly. So why wouldn’t they?

I think it’s because it sounds just that little bit too simple. We’ve been trained to look for the complicated or high technology solutions to any problem we have. So simply using a mitten or buffer to gently brighten up and improve skin tone is just sounds too easy. We want chemicals, electronics and salons!

Well, those approaches may get us there quicker (although that is debateable), but the simple at-home approach is probably just as good in the end. It is certainly a lot cheaper, that’s for certain.

So where do you start in your quest to go back to a simpler way?

I’d recommend a mitten, as it’s easier to use than a lot of products. You just slip it over your whole hand and off you go during your shower or bath time. There are lots of products out there worth checking out, and it depends how much you want to spend. At the posh end of the market you might like to have a look at reviews for the Baiden exfoliator mitt. That’s a very nice premium mitten which should last you a good long time. There’s also a review of the Dermasuri mitten here, which is another quality product but at a more modest price level.

You can find something for any budget in your local store. But I’d be a bit wary of spending too little, or you may end up disappointed with the results and put off continuing what can be a very effective skin tonic and treatment.

If you buy a decent product like the ones suggested above, you should get some good instructions on how to get the best from them. But if you want a little extra help there is a decent guide here. It may not cover all types of exfoliation product but it’s a useful overview all the same.