Time To Get Your Stuff Out of MobileMe

Imagine your folks are selling the old homestead and downsizing. You’ve been ordered to clear out all the stuff you’ve stored with them over the years. There are cartons in the attic, basement, garage -- all must find another home.

Something sort of  similar is occurring now if you've been a user of Apple’s MobileMe. Our “folks” have warned that come June 30, 2012, they’re tossing out our stuff. So, many of us are scrambling to find suitable storage for all the documents we thought safely tucked away over the years on MobileMe’s iDisk.

Fortunately, by now -- as opposed to when the iDisk was first born --there exist many other storage options. Some offer mega space for those who require acres, and others offer a more modest amount for people like me who don’t have the same giant needs

The Unofficial Apple Website (TUAW) is the place to start if your stuff has a hearty appetite. Remote FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, or Amazon S3 servers, none of which I understand, are there for the big boys.

But, if your demand is petite, like mine, David Pogue of the New York Times  speaks our language. He explains, “MobileMe’s most original feature was synchronization: wireless, automatic, seamless auto-updating of data among your gadgets. Your address book, calendars, e-mail, notes, Web bookmarks and other information were always up to date on all your machines ... and always backed up. That’s all part of iCloud now. But when MobileMe dies, three other useful features will die with it: iDisk, iWeb Publishing ... and Gallery.... Apparently, Apple wants to get out of the storage business.”

Pogue offers replacements for “those three orphaned services, that are not quite as slick, clean and well integrated into your Apple gadgets, but ...offer a lot of choice and a lot of power.”

For the former Gallery online photo storage, he picks SmugMug out of competitors like Flickr, Shutterfly, PhotoBucket, Snapfish, 5oopx, dphoto, Fotki, Picasa, PhotoShelter. As for me, I’ve been a Picasa user all along and will just stick with that service.

For the iDisk, which served as an online “hard drive” and sat on the desktop of my iMac, it was a great way to transfer and save files between computers. Pogue suggests Dropbox or SkyDrive.  I’ve been a Dropbox user, along with iDisk, because I’m obsessed with saving documents in the cloud, rather than on thumb drives or CD’s. Thus, I’ll stick with Dropbox.

iWeb Publishing was a simple way to create Web pages. After June 30, you can still use iWeb to design Web pages; you’ll just have to find a new company to host them. Another route is replacement web publishers. Pogue suggests Jimdo and Weebly. But,  I’m already a Google Blogger and website user, and here I shall remain.

Nerd grandma nixes 4-x-6s

It began innocently enough. I was seated on the patio of Nordstrom's Cafe in Old Orchard, when my friend Ruth suggested I show her daughter-in-law Mimi a photo of my newest grandchild. The weather was perfect, warm for this time of year, bright with sunshine.

"Sure," I said. Nerd that I am, I didn't reach for my wallet to find photos. Instead, I withdrew my iPhone from my jeans and clicked on the Photos application. I gasped when I saw that the 217 pictures normally stored there were gone. Gone. Despite the garden setting, the dear companionship, the cloudless sky, my mood dropped as swiftly as if Sarah Palin had entered the garden.

"My pictures seem to be gone," I stammered. I was embarrassed because I frequently gushed about the device's wonders. "Gone?" Ruth asked. "What happened?" I detected a smirk. Ruth is a holdout, she's managed to ignore my entreaties and remains wedded to her traditional cell.

"It's okay," I said. I was trying to appear nonchalant. "I've got them on the computer. I'll just hook my phone up when I get home and the pictures will be back where they belong." I prayed this was true.

It was. Somehow, on my last iPhone-to-iTunes maneuver, the check marks for the desired photo albums had come undone. iTunes failed to sync them into the phone. It took a second to re-check the boxes, move the albums back where they belonged, and restore my allegiance to Apple.

This episode got me thinking. While I was grateful all of the pictures were indeed safely stored on my computer, I realized they could be gone in a flash if anything happened to the appliance. Yes, I've got CDs with photos, but as I've noted before on this blog, a meteor landing on my house, or something equally ghastly, could destroy those external storage sites, too.

Enter Picasa, a free online photo storage site hosted by Google. I already have a Picasa page with 11 separate albums tucked away there, but after the patio incident, I decided I'd best be more vigilant and upload recent photos I had neglected to move to safety.

There are several free online storage sites you could use to protect your photos. Along with Google's Picasa, another popular site is Flickr, which is Yahoo's baby. My friend, and talented photographer, Marshall Rosenthal uses Flickr and you can check out his photo page to see his beautiful work. I'm omitting Photobucket because it's allied with the Fox Broadcasting Company, and well, you know.

Here's what I like about Picasa:
-Uploading is easy. There's an application that attaches to iPhoto, so I can zoom photos directly from that program to my Picasa site. No export to desktop needed. And, I can email photos to Picasa from my iPhone.

-Photos from my three blogs, which are published on Google's blogspot, go directly to Picasa. A directive from me is unnecessary.

-I can organize photos into albums and decide which are private and which can be viewed by the public.

-There's oodles of free storage space. According to the measurement on my site, I've used up only 8.36% of the 1GB capacity. (Please don't ask about gigabytes. This is Tech 101.)

-New features appear frequently; i.e. Picasa recognizes faces and sorts photos for me.

-I suppose if I were a more traditional grandma and preferred 4-x-6 snapshots, I could designate photos to be sent to one of the seven print providers allied with Picasa. But along with my nerd image, I've already got wicker baskets stuffed with photos waiting to be stuck onto the black pages of old fashioned albums.

Oh, if you're curious about the photo I was trying to show off at lunch, here 'tis. Worth the wait, right?