Putting a smile on your face…

By | October 30, 2023

I don’t know about you, but I always struggle to adjust straight away when the clocks change, as they did over the weekend.  An extra hour of sleep is always welcome, don’t get me wrong, but I find there’s always a week or so where I just have this nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right, but I just can’t put my finger on what it is…

And then late last night it hit me – my smartphone, my home PC, my work laptop, and all the other clever bits of tech I have, all update their clocks automatically each time that we “spring forward” and “fall back”.  Which is very handy, as my smartphone doubles as my alarm clock, and I could really do without being an hour late for work…

But it does leave me feeling a bit quietly unsettled, because my routine feels the same, but the daylight hours have changed and my body clock is out of whack.  It’s especially jarring when I encounter one of my “non-smart” bits of household tech like my oven, my microwave or my car… all of which give me a little shock before I realise that no, I’m not an hour late, I just haven’t fiddled endlessly with the buttons until I figure out how to update the time on the blasted thing.

So if you encounter this particular annoyance twice a year, you can be reassured that you’re not alone.  In fact, it’s become so common that many kind souls have decided to upload videos to YouTube and other similar sites demonstrating how to update the time on this or that make and model of car.  If you’ve had a rummage around in the glovebox and you can’t find the instructions for yours, have a go at doing an internet search for “how to change the time on a 2008 Ford Focus” (or whatever car you have) and see what it comes up with.

In my experience, microwaves tend to be a bit more straightforward – pressing and holding the “Time” or “Clock” button for a few seconds until the time display starts flashing has always worked for me in the past.  It’s then just been a question of turning the dial or pressing the “+” button (or similar) until you get the right time.  But if you’re at all unsure, there’s almost definitely an online manual or a YouTube video out there that you can try.

Ovens are often the biggest pain in the neck to deal with, especially if they don’t have much in the way of labels on their buttons… but thankfully I’ve found a handy website that gives both a video guide and step-by-step written instructions on how to change the timer when it’s not immediately obvious.  And again, if those instructions don’t work for you, you can do a search for how to change the clock on your oven – if you include the manufacturer of the oven, you should eventually find the instructions you’re looking for.

Putting a smile on your face

It really is amazing what technology can do… for all the headaches it gives us!  While we were looking through the (approximately) seventy bajillion photos that were taken of my niece’s christening at the weekend, we discovered a really clever new feature that would have saved us a lot of time in posing and saying “cheese”.  It’s called “Best Take” and it’s something that’s only currently available on the newest Google Pixel 8 smartphones, although I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes commonplace after a few years.  

One of the tricky things about taking photos of large groups of people is managing to get a good shot of everyone – there’s always one who’s sneezing, or blinking, or not looking at the camera.  So you try again, until your cheeks are aching and the baby gets distracted or starts crying and that’s it, show’s over… but with this new feature, you don’t need to stress about getting the perfect shot.  Instead, you can use the “Best Take” tool, which will use AI to put a pretty convincing smile on their face, or open their eyes if they’re blinking, and so on.

It does this by using previous pictures that you have of that person (hopefully ones where they were smiling!) from your Google Photos account, and using those as a guide to recreate a pretty realistic smile.  So that can help if the camera didn’t quite manage to capture everyone looking happy at the same time.

It’s not something I’d want to use all the time – candid shots can have a real charm to them, and you certainly wouldn’t want to overdo it to the point where you’re covering up genuine facial expressions for the sake of a bland, fake smile.  But it can be a good fix for when your photography time is limited and you’ve got at least one dud in each shot.

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