PROOF  OF  IDENTITY

MANILA,
JANUARY 18, 2009
(STAR) EMOTIONAL WEATHER REPORT By Jessica Zafra - I had two quick chores to do and three hours to finish them. First I had to have two 1x1-inch ID pictures taken. Then I had to bring them to an office in Quezon City, stick them on a form, and sign the paper. I have some photos of myself on my computer and on my phone — I could simply have them printed ID-size. (No printer in my house; see “paperless society” below.) Or I could dash to a “Foto-Me” and get some scared animal/extra-in-horror-movie ID photos in a few minutes. But where to find a Foto-Me?

From the years I spent hanging out in Megamall I remembered the instant photo booth by the entrance to Building A. However, I have not been to that mall in a long time and I’m not sure they even call it Building A anymore. What a pain it would be if the booth were no longer there.

Unfortunately, once a thought gets into an obsessive-compulsive’s head, even a borderline case, it stays there for days. The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that I had to go to Megamall and find a Foto-Me. If such a thing still exists now that everyone has a digital camera and most phones can take pictures.

Just as I’d feared: the instant photo booth had vanished from its old location. You’d think the nefarious thought loop in my head would shut up, but no—it segued to “Maybe the booth has transferred to another site.”

So I walked around in search of the Foto-Me. Thrice I stopped to ask salespersons if they knew the location of the instant photo booth. No one could help me: the word “Foto-Me” rang no bells, even if everyone at some time or other has to produce ID pictures for official documents.

I had a pang of nostalgia for the days when my friends and I would crowd into a photo booth for an instant group shot, or the guys would pull down their pants to moon the camera. No, wait, I never did that, I think those were scenes from the high school classics of John Hughes.

The deadline for my chores was approaching so I resorted to the alternative. Photo supply stores and developers such as Kameraworld and Fuji offer quick studio shots. You sit on a stool, someone snaps your photo, and you come back for the ID pictures in an hour. Why the one-hour wait when a digital camera is used and there is no “developing” time? Maybe they have extremely slow printers. Here is a case of digital technology pretending to be analog.

As I passed the time at a coffee shop I considered how much easier our lives would be if all forms could be filled out online. Twenty years ago there was talk of the “paperless society”; today we have fewer forests and we’re still wasting paper. I understand the attachment to hard copy: a document doesn’t feel quite “real” on a screen. Well, we’ll just have to get used to it, won’t we? As for the fear that information systems will crash and files will get erased, including all proof of our identities, repeat after me: “Back up all your files.”

My entire side trip would’ve been unnecessary if I could email my ID photo as a JPEG file. Think of all the time, trees, fossil fuels that could’ve been saved. Technology develops at a dizzying pace, so dizzying that humans take a while to figure out how these developments can be applied for their convenience, and a lot longer to implement these applications.

Then again, my 1x1 ID photos were much better (i.e. recognizably human) than anything I could’ve gotten from an instant photo booth, plus I had my little nostalgia fit.

Speaking of recognizably human, Cookie Monster showed me a video demonstration of iPhoto ’09, which won a Best of Show award at the recent Macworld Expo (the event where Steve Jobs did not give the annual keynote, leading to even more speculation that he is dying, prompting a letter from Steve announcing that he is not dying, followed by an announcement that he’s going on a medical leave for six months).

The current iPhoto has an Events feature that allows one to organize photos around specific events. The new iPhoto, coming at the end of the month as part of iLife ’09, has a feature called Faces. It detects the faces of the people in your photos (Does it work on cats?) and figures out which photos include these faces. This way you can assign a name to a specific face, then quickly view all the photos that face appears in. (Can it see through cosmetic surgery?) When you create slideshows, face detection technology positions faces in the middle of the screen. (Which is a pain if you take arty pictures in which the figures are to the side.) There’s also a Places feature which uses GPS- based location-tagging technology to organize photos by location.

For those who miss the old instant photo booths, there’s a Mac application called Photo Booth. My cats and I like to crowd in front of the computer for group pictures, like rejects from a John Hughes movie.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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