itself as a "digital storytelling application" that allows you to organize
your photos by the relationships they share with other photos. MemoryMiner can automatically
group and search through photos by date, place, and even the subjects in the photos.
This makes it possible to rediscover family history though your photos or make a
scrapbook of people and places you've visited. In addition to organizing your photos,
you can also create websites with your grouped photos to share with friends and family
over the Internet.
MemoryMiner is new to the Mac Software playground. MemoryMiner uses XML files to
create and store information about your photos. XML files are small files that reference
digital images and can store data about the photo. Apple's iPhoto uses XML files
extensively to store information such as the '5 star rating' system and searching
- G4 Mac or better
- Mac OS X 10.4 or
MemoryMiner is installed straight from the downloaded disk image. A quick drag-and-drop
to any folder is all that is required to begin using MemoryMiner.
My usual method of learning new applications is to dive straight in, wander around
for a bit, and then read through included manuals or quick-start guides. After clicking
around in MemoryMiner, I was surprised to find there was no instructions and little
documentation that came with the application. There is a quick-start video on the
application's website that touches most aspects of MemoryMiner's workings. I found
the video helpful to start using MemoryMiner, but it became inconveniant to have
to reference the video after I had forgotten how to use certain features. Later,
I discovered a PDF document on the website, but was disappointed with the material
presented in the PDF. The PDF file was 30 pages long, but really only about 10 pages
of useful material, and the instructions were not always clear. The documentation
is helpful in introducing and explaining various features of the application, but
there is definite room for improvement.
MemoryMiner offers a simplistic interface with few buttons that are clearly labeled.
I had no problem with the basic functions of MemoryMiner, such as adding new photos
and information. Visually, the interface is a little bit lackluster. MemoryMiner
has the standard brushed metal interface. There are three tabs along the top of the
application window that look blocky (not a very Aqua look and feel). Text and buttons
seem small and sometimes out of place.
MemoryMiner Interface Window
The application is
pretty straightforward, and anyone familiar with iPhoto or iMovie would quickly feel
comfortable using MemoryMiner. After creating a new library, drag and drop photos
from the Finder or iPhoto to add to MemoryMiner. Once added, you can add or edit
information pertaining to the photo, such as date, place, and subjects. Dates are
automatically added if the photo was taken by a modern digital camera, and dates
to scanned pictures can be added in the bottom left corner of the window. In order
to add info about a subject in the picture or the place the photo was taken, people
and places must be included in MemoryMiner's list. People and places can be added
under the 'People' and 'Places' tab, respectfully. I found this procedure required
an incredible amount of time, and MemoryMiner doesn't make it easier. I would look
at a photo, try to remember the names of all the subjects and places that were not
already in my list, and then switch tabs to enter the details. There is no way to
quickly reference the photo or make notes that could help make this task more bearable.
To assign places to a photo, you simply drag a selection from the list of places
onto a photo or a selection of photos. Assigning subjects in a photo is more manual:
after creating your list of people, you must individually select each photo, draw
a box around the subject, select their name from the list, and repeat for the rest
of the subjects in the photos. This process would be much easier if it was possible
to select multiple entries that have the same subjects and 'carry over' the box-selection,
or a least be able to copy/paste selections.
Once photos have been assigned, MemoryMiner allows you to effectively search through
your photos by date, place, or subject, or a combination of all three. Need all the
photos of last year's Yellowstone trek? Drag the 'Yellowstone' location into the
search bar at the bottom of the interface. Only want pictures of last year's trek
that contain Uncle John? Adjust the Date slider below the search bar to the appropriate
date, and add Uncle John from the People list to the search bar. MemoryMiner's strongest
point is this ability to search photos based on criteria you assigned.
Updating Places in MemoryMiner
a few superfluous features that are entertaining, but not completely useful. MemoryMiner
can create slideshows of photos, but with limited features. You do this by selecting
photos and clicking the play button in the center of the window. Unlike the slideshows
that you can create in iPhoto or other Mac apps, MemoryMiner does not provide any
customization with the slideshows. It randomly selects transitions and the time it
fades in and out of photos. You cannot add music or even make the slideshow full
screen. For some reason, there is a 7 or so second period of blackness between each
photo, which I did not care for. The only good point to MemoryMiner's slideshow is
that it automatically focuses on a person from your People list and zooms in or out
from that subject. This is poorly executed, however, as the zooming causes the photo
to be pixelated and rough.
MemoryMiner also allows you to add text and attachments to photos, such as video,
audio, or documents. This feature is most useful to MemoryMiner's export feature.
When exporting, MemoryMiner packages the selected photos, reformats them to a smaller
size, placing them into a folder containing HTML files that you can upload to a webhost.
This is a feature that could be very useful for those who wanted to share vacation
photos or other events with friends and family. I was actually pleasantly surprised
with the export feature. The website it created was clean and attractive, and it
kept your People list to allow viewers to search through your photos by the subject
in the photo. The website also has a 'Maps' section, that allows viewers to see your
list of Places marked on Google Maps. There is a slideshow feature in the website
that was very slick (blows away MemoryMiner's in-application slideshow). There are
no optional layouts or methods to create your own website theme.
After using MemoryMiner, my impression is that it is a half-finished product. There
is a lot of promise to the application, but it does not yet feel on par with an application
that would cost $40. MemoryMiner has a number of bugs that make working with MemoryMiner
sometimes difficult. Although the product is useable as-is, there are enough problems
and missing features to frustrate the user. For example, each time you press a button
for one entry under either the People or Places tab, the program creates two new
entries. There's the bug that makes all your photos suddenly disappear when you add
a new photo. In one session, the application froze after I had spent three hours
entering people and places. I was unable to assign a birthdate beyond the year 1999.
It also lacks support for copy/paste and contextual menus for right-mouse clicking.
an application that makes it possible to organize your personal photos by date, places,
and subjects, and provides some nice export features that let you share your digital
story with family and friends around the world. This application is intended for
those who are interested in a "scrapbook" approach to your digital photos.
The application is easy to use, and provides some nice export and web features. However,
MemoryMiner can often be frustrating due to a myriad of bugs and absence of features
you would expect in a Mac application. For a $40 shareware title, I expected better.
I believe MemoryMiner is an innovative idea, and the application does provide functionality
that lets you snaz up your digital photos for the web; however, with its bugs and
missing features impeding the user experience, it does not yet feel like a finished
product. Having these drawbacks fixed would certainly make the product more usable.
- Simple interface
- Effective photo searching
- Nice export feature
- Creates website pages
- No help files included
with the program; poor documentation
- Data entry is inefficient
- Lackluster interface
- Lack of user-configuration
- A number of interface
bugs and quirks
2 1/2 out of 5 Mice