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Dear Apple, let's talk about photos (peternixey.com)
429 points by robheaton on May 8, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 297 comments

I haven't really tried iPhoto personally for photos taken with my phone, since I have an Android. And my girlfriend has an iPhone, but with a Windows computer, so she hasn't either. Because of that, the whole iPhoto ecosystem (and photostream) have never been an option for either of us anyway.

I had gone on the search for a similar service to what he describes, but with the added requirement that I want to own my cloud copy of my photos and not give up my photos to some unknown 3rd party (I'd have no problem letting Apple or Amazon keep a copy of my photos, but other than that, I'd be cautious).

I found the Open Photo Project (http://theopenphotoproject.org/), and it seems pretty cool so far. It's an open source app to store your photos on your own S3, Dropbox, Box.net, or DreamHost account, and give you cloud backup and access, and they have an iOS app with an Android version coming soon. And they just launched Trovebox (https://trovebox.com) which is their hosted option if you don't want to install Open Photo on your own server. Trovebox already has both an iOS and Android app, and also APIs. I'm just surprised I have seen either one mentioned here.

Founder of OpenPhoto / Trovebox here.

Correction, our iPhone app has been out for a year and our Android app for 6 months. Go get them [1][2]!

Somehow this is an incredibly difficult problem to solve. Even Google with as many integrated services as they have (gmail, picasa, G+) don't look like they're going to really solve it.

If there's one thing people are opinionated about, it's their photos. Some refuse to rely on the cloud. Others refuse not to have iPhoto as part of their workflow. There's about 50 of these...

Our approach has been quite different. We first focused on making sure your photos are portable. Whoever you choose today to store and keep all your photos is probably not who you're going to be using in 10 years. I'm surprised that HN doesn't really zero in on this. Closed systems are just a temporary solution for a problem that's getting exponentially worse.

Using Trovebox you can decide to change your storage provider at any time. We move your photos for you. Your web links, iPhone and Android apps continue to work as if nothing ever changed.

We haven't even scratched at the surface of the problem though. There's organization, sharing, etc. needs which we need to continuously improve on.

The parent didn't link to our source code so I'll include that here, https://github.com/photo

P.S. We're funded by the Shuttleworth Foundation (big huge shoutout to them)

[1] http://bit.ly/trovebox-for-android or source @ https://github.com/photo/mobile-android

[2] http://bit.ly/trovebox-for-iphone or source @ https://github.com/photo/mobile-ios

Whoever you choose today to store and keep all your photos is probably not who you're going to be using in 10 years. I'm surprised that HN doesn't really zero in on this. Closed systems are just a temporary solution for a problem that's getting exponentially worse.

Some of us are just less vocal than others, especially when we tend to get shouted down by those who can't be bothered to run their own web servers and then resign themselves to let others control their data. FreedomBox is making things better in this respect, though, and I can't help but think that they would love to hear about Trovebox (hint, hint).

I would just like to thank you very much for OpenPhoto/Trovebox. Even though this is the first I've heard of it, it seems to be something I could really use. I'm currently generating static web albums with gPhoto, then uploading them by hand, but had been thinking about automating the whole shebang for a while. There are plenty of open source photo albums (even packaged for Debian stable, my distro of choice), but so far I hadn't found any that offer mobile clients to automate things. While I'm not on Android, the wife is, and this looks like an awesome way to let her share photos, while still keeping them under her control. I'm also very glad to see that Trovebox is open source, and will be mirror cloning the repos soon :)

I just push my photos up to an SFTP on a home server, which also pushes it to an encrypted offsite backup.

This has the advantage of working equally well for code(git repositories and everything being just directories with files), photos, videos, audio samples/tracks... anything which we're used to representing as files on UNIX-y systems.

I really don't understand why we need to jettison the boatloads of wonderful work which has been done to support files on UNIX, in search of a frontend interface difference for people(yes, many people) who don't understand files.

Not sure I understand completely. But I'm taking a stab...

For something like photos the interface is a very big problem. The UNIX file system, for example, doesn't help to visually organize tens of thousands of files (photos). There has to be a layer on top of that.

FYI, OpenPhoto supports a variety of "file systems" including the local file system or anything which can be mounted.

Whilst I agree with you in theory, and on the principle that probably 90% of POST, PUT or other various schemes to upload data could probably be better solved (and more securely) by a simple setup of rsync+SSH, there is the issue of end user interface. I don't want to have to browse through an Apache file listing of thousands of files named similarly to "2013-01-02_09:33.jpeg". I want thumbnails, and possibly other context (location, tags, etc). I also don't necessarily want to upload every single photo I take.

I think you are entirely corerct.

The macro problem with most photo library software is that it's trying to do far too many things and ends up doing none particularly well. A photo library software suite generally enables:

1. Photo storage, 2. Light photo editing (either of metadata or image data or both), 3. Photo viewing (including basic slideshow functions, etc.), 4. Photo organization (creation of albums, tagging people, and so on), 5. Photo sharing ("post this album to Facebook", etc.)

The problem is that no two of these tasks have a particularly logical relationship to one another. And as to most of them, there are better ways to do it.

As you note, we have put _enormous_ effort as a society into developing a very particular way to store blobs of data: the filesystem. It is a stable way. It is a well documented way. It is a way that has lots of tools that are also stable and well documented and mature. And best of all, it's really, really easy to back up. You can make copies of data on the filesystem in a trivial fashion. Back it up to an external drive! Back it up to a remote server, either owned by you or someone else! Encrypt the backups! Don't! It's easy. The same is true of photo editing, photo viewing, and many other things.

The one problem that photo libraries really solve is organization. It's nice to be able to make albums. It's nice to see all the photos taken around a similar time, or at a particular place, or with certain people in them. In fact, it's what makes huge collections workable. So I'm not knocking that. But what I am proposing is that there's got to be a way to disaggregate that singularly useful function from the mess of other things that photo library software doesn't need to do.

Note also that photos ought to be uncommonly easy to write organizational software for, because so many of them have built-in, well-documented metadata. Take a picture with your iPhone sometime and then dump the full EXIF info. There's a lot in there, way more than most people realize. And yet it's common to begin building photo library software by recreating all of that same information inside a proprietary and undocumented database. EXIF data includes a place for a description field---why doesn't photo library software _write to that?_ And files can have titles (or 'file names,' as they're called in the business)---why would you recreate, in some hidden-away SQLite database or something, the "title" attribute?

+1 for Trovebox. I love that I can use my own domain name (http://photos.masnick.org/) and have Trovebox use my own S3 account for storage.

I haven't had a chance to hack on the source code myself yet, but you actually can contribute to the Trovebox frontend on GitHub (http://github.com/photo/frontend). I've filed a few issues here and fixes were in production on trovebox.com within a few days!

I haven't looked yet, so sorry if it's mentioned, but is there any support for Amazon Glacier integration? If all I want is to make sure my photos are safe, and I'm not interested in really accessing a number of albums, can I select them and have them transferred to my Glacier account? This would be the case for many childhood photos of mine at this point in life.

We don't support Glacier yet. It's a good idea and one I'll run by the team.

I'm not sure why Amazon doesn't have a feature to mirror an S3 bucket to Glacier (which would solve your problem). I imagine they will but for the moment the closest thing they have is the lifecycle feature but it removes the file from S3 once it's moved to Glacier.

Happy to talk it through if you'd like. Drop an email to support@trovebox.com

I love using Glacier for photo archival. Every month, I transfer all the photos of my Android device and my wife's iPhone, zip them, and push to Glacier. It's very manual at the moment, but it's super cheap archival for all my photos.

I signed up for a free account to play around and am quite impressed. Hosted options are nice, even though I have a Linode account for self-hosted apps.

1) How different is the OpenPhoto webapp from the Trovebox app? Does they support all the same features?

2) How does the Dropbox integration work? Can I move photos into the Apps/Trovebox folder and have them be automatically synced with the web site? I'm using the Dropbox Photo Sync feature, so it would be super handy to not have to re-upload them to Trovebox.

3) After signing up and uploading photos, I clicked on a link someone posted below to associate my dropbox account with the trovebox account. My photo upload was still going at the same time, and I started to get dropbox notifications about new files being added so I stopped the uploading. However, I can't see anything in the settings that tells me what storage back my account is using. How can I see/change it?

This is a very exciting app & service, which might be The Solution to sharing photos within my extended family!

1) 99% the same. We've streamlined a few functions on the hosted version (Trovebox). Things like migrating between storage services, importing from 3rd party sites, etc. The core and API are 100% identical. In fact our mobile apps for iOS/Android work for Trovebox & OpenPhoto instances.

2) The Dropbox integration is one way. Trovebox -> Dropbox. On Trovebox we have a beta feature that lets you upload via Dropbox by dragging photos to a specified folder.

3) So that notification is simply us putting the photo in your Dropbox. That's how the Dropbox support works :). Can you let me know what you were expecting?

You can always drop us an email at support@trovebox.com with questions.

> 3) So that notification is simply us putting the photo in your Dropbox. That's how the Dropbox support works :). Can you let me know what you were expecting?

I expected the Dropbox notification. :) What I would like is a way to see where my photos are currently being stored, and a way to switch storage back from Dropbox to Trovebox (I only have 8GB of storage in DB).

Could you send an email to support@trovebox.com?

Am I overlooking a setting, or does the Trovebox iPhone app only allow me to take square photos, and force me to crop pre-existing photos I want to upload? I definitely hope not - I'd like to be able to make that call myself.

The app doesn't do any cropping (unless maybe you apply filters, I have to check on that).

The home screen on the app shows square cropped photos and the Gallery view does a little bit of cropping as well on display.

But the photos themselves are not cropped. A look at the web version shows this a bit more clearly (for example, see the panoramas) -- https://current.trovebox.com/photos/list

Valid point though. We don't want the app confusing people into thinking it's cropping. We're big on retaining the original, unmodified.

This is not my experience. The app only takes square photos, and forces you to crop existing photos if you select them from the camera roll one at a time, regardless of whether you select a filter. Unless I'm missing a setting, which I've looked for.

The uploaded photos viewed on the web are indeed cropped/square.

EDIT: I see there is a separate upload/sync menu item, and that allows you to batch upload uncropped photos. However, if I want photos taken on my phone to be auto-uploaded to Trovebox, they need to be taken through the app, which forces me to take a square picture.

I'd respectfully request that you make cropping an option when taking a photo, not the rule, so I don't need to take photos in one app and upload them manually with another. Better yet, let me tell the app to just incrementally/periodically upload all the photos I take on my phone (ala Everpix)

You're absolutely right. I created an issue here, https://github.com/photo/mobile-ios/issues/288

Automatic uploading is already being tracked here, https://github.com/photo/mobile-ios/issues/234

Thanks for the feedback. We're super easy to reach at support@trovebox.com as well.

Rad! I feel pretty confident you guys are the future.

Oh sorry, the homepage on http://theopenphotoproject.org says, " Stay tuned! Our Android app is coming soon." under mobile apps.

Great work by the way :-)


My problem is the enormous amount of disk space my photos take. Hundreds of GBs. Now you say trovebox supports dropbox, but that doesn't really solve my problem since dropbox just keeps everything on my local hard disk as well.

Is it possible to set this up so that I don't have to take up hundreds of gbs on every device I own?

I also don't see any option for importing iphoto libraries. What if I want to preserve the tagging/album information I have there?

We provide storage which is included in the free/Pro accounts.

I don't use Dropbox for the same reason as you. Instead I use my own S3 bucket.

Dropbox is the only storage option that will sync the files back to your computer (though I believe you can choose not to have our folder "synced" using selective sync).

We don't have an iPhoto plugin yet but if you add tags to your photo then they should be preserved when you upload (we extract EXIF).

sadly iphoto doesn't touch the exif data. It's stored in a seperate (undocumented) sqlite database.

Which is a real scandal, by the way. It's utterly surreal that a file format with some of the most well-documented metadata on the planet is organized into libraries that begin by creating an entirely new, entirely redundant library of metadata on top.

A little confusing:

> Connect to Dropbox or Box > > Allow us to store your photos or use your existing storage account. No pressure to decide. We make it as easy as clicking a few buttons to migrate between storage accounts. We support Dropbox, Box, Amazon S3, CX and DreamObjects.

But once I sign up, I checked under all the Settings I could find, and I don't seem to see any of these options for where to store things?

Selecting your storage is part of the signup process. A selection list that you might have overlooked?

If you have not uploaded any photos (or delete photos in your account) you can link it at the following URLs (for the popular options).




I noticed and deliberately kept the "Not now" default choice. That implied I could change it later. Which the pre-sign-up text I quoted, also seemed to say.

So I was confused I couldn't find or do this, later.

(I'm not trying to give you a hard time. Just offering n%b user feedback.)

Thanks. I'm going to have a look through the site copy and see if we missed anything when we moved the "migration" option to be a PRO feature.

We do offer migration between storage providers at https://trovebox.com/migrate. It is new-ish so we don't have prominent links for this but one of our important features. You can upload 20,000 photos and then one day decide, I don't want to use Dropbox anymore.

One question (and the most important one for me): does OpenPhoto/Trovebox deal with RAWs?

If so, how? E.g.:

What if the RAW doesn't have an embedded preview JPG?

What if the RAW comes with a sidecar JPG that contains the RAW developed through app XYZ?

Etc., etc.

We don't (yet). It's a fairly common request but one we haven't put on our roadmap yet.

I wish the answer was different :).

It's ridiculous how un-Apple-like Photo Streams are.

They solve one problem of sharing your photos across all your devices for VIEWING, but not for organizing/editing/deleting. It just creates copies of your photos everywhere. It's not a centralized place where you can keep your "good, sorted, organized, edited" photos with all the bad photos deleted.

Photo Streams actually adds problems. If you want to completely delete a photo you just took (it turned out bad), you have to delete it in TWO places instead of one.

Dropbox does a much better job at the latter (assuming you have enough space for your photos on it; I do).

To solve this problem, you need to create a good "home" for people's photos. Right now, the Camera Roll remains the only viable home, but it has many downsides (unable to be accessed or edited from other devices, can't manually add older photos).

Basically, with Photo Streams, Apple violate the DRY principle [1] and it creates more problems than it solves.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dont_repeat_yourself

One of the original reasons I switched to a Mac back in 2008 was iPhoto. The automatic event splitting by date struck me as brilliant--it was exactly what I wanted most of the time. Multi-day events were easy to merge.

At the time, Apple also had a great online gallery that made it simple to share photos. Flickr was (and still is) overly complicated in comparison. That's been gone for years and is kinda sorta back as shared photo streams.

So your comment about how "un-Apple-like" Photo Streams is so damn true. C'mon Apple, figure this shit out.

Kind of amazing that they don't do automatic events on the phone. It seems like an obvious natural thing to group together photos that share a common location and time.

After many years of taking photos, I find the best way to organize them for me is to only take few photos and keep them sorted by time. The way Camera Roll does already. It's perfect.

Now if my Camera Roll were synced across devices rather than having duplicate photos in Photo Stream, that would be much much better. And if I could add photos to that time-sorted stream from multiple devices (bonus points for SLRs)... That would be how it should've been from day 1.

The above may be the best explanation of PhotoStream I've seen. What PhotoStream accomplishes: lets you VIEW your photos anywhere.

Problem is, that's not exactly what most of us thought it was for, because it's not solving the biggest problem we have: finding a universal HOME for our photos. We want wireless syncing of our photo libraries, and the ability to manage that remotely.

So like you said, we get into DRY issues - the issue of having to delete your photos in both PhotoStream AND on the device is super-cumbersome. It's very un-Apple-like - to the point that I wonder if they did any user testing at all on this one.

Not to mention that using camera roll makes it very difficult to backup to iCloud, unless you pay for the extra storage.

So you want: - unlimited storage for a large collection of images - additional unlimited storage for an acceleratingly large archive of video - minimal local caching and, likely, very responsive UI - to do me the favor of profit at $5/mo

I can't get past the entitlement attitude that one should be able to archive unlimited amounts of 1080p 30fps video for $5/mo. 178MB/min. Average youtube video is 4+minutes. That's >700MB per video.

Even at scale, Amazon s3 is .055/GB, so it'd be over $5 just to store 100GB, let alone run the SaaS platform and related overhead. Sure, that's an Amazon retail price for storage, but I don't see how $5/mo. is profitable once everyone is auto-syncing cat videos and their gangam harlem thrift shop videos.

A potential market (evolving and growing because of the ubiquity of cameras and video cameras) has stated what it wants. A company that can deliver solutions to this market can scale with the the market. The OP's point is that no one (specifically Apple in his situation) seems to be really excelling in this space because of a pre-smart phone and pre-'video cameras everywhere' view of the world.

What you so condescendingly refer to as an 'entitlement attitude' is frustration with the widespread and accelerating ability to create content but the lack of ways to manage and organize it. Full stop.

HN startupers always talk about changing the world; instead of CRUDing more status updates, selling more ads or selling cheese graters online you could aim higher and solve the problems that the changing digital world is asking for. You could even use Node.js to do it!

S3 is overkill for this. If its just storing images you don't need all those 9's for durability/availability that Amazon offers. Could easily do unlimited for $60 a year. There's cheaper services that do unlimited for less than half that price like imgur.

I need to underline that he throws video in like it's nothing.

Sure, just for images without responsibility of 6-8 9's for peoples' treasured decade of photos, you can approach the price. I believe Imgur also has, even pro accounts, a 5MB limit on file size and that brings a set of efficiencies on resources. Fine for pictures, trouble for video.

When 1-10 million people are uploading/downloading 200MB/min for video @ maybe 1MB/sec?, storage stops being the most painful problem.

This would be something of a netflix scale problem, but without some set of minimal control about formats, dynamic content throttling, etc.

I really don't throw in video like it's nothing. What I intended to highlight was that for 99% of users, the perception of what they get should be unlimited even if there are fair-use policies.

I don't expect that a $5/user/month model is going to support Chase Jarvis' needs. However I do imagine that at $5/user/month 90% of users will actually be very profitable for Apple as they'll use way less than the available amount.

The fair-use limits can therefore be relatively high as they're subsidised by the majority of people who don't use that much.

My point about wanting "unlimited video" was not that I expected to store my entire film collection on there - only that as a 90-95 percentile user I want to be able to do the stuff I do every day without worrying about low limits. I don't mind if there's fair-use limit I just want to be sure that I can do a "fair" amount before hitting it.

All of this is also putting to one side the fact that this is a 20 year investment for Apple. Data costs don't seem to fall inline with Moore's law but they still fall crazy fast. It was only 10 years ago we didn't have S3. Even now if the RAW files were stored on an Amazon Glacier equivalent ($0.01/Gb/month) while screen-quality versions were stored in a hot cache you could provide high dataplans with much lower costs than putting things in tier 1 S3.

If my canonical store of my images is going to be on a cloud service, I sure as hell want all those 9's for durability. It doesn't matter how cheap a service is, if it permanently loses precious memories.

Thank you for the dose of reality. People forget the technical realities of video vs photos.

This is true, but storage is dropping and don't forget Amazon makes a profit on those prices so the cost is cheaper. It would potentially be a loss leader - generally people still don't take much video compared to photos.

Thanks for this reply - I didn't have to write it myself. Well said.

This is the single biggest technology related point of pain in my life, as well as the lives of many people I know.

Snapjoy looked like it was on track to fix the problem, then Dropbox acquired it and appears to be doing something...

But it really shocks me to see Apple fail to address these core problems in update after update.

The worst part is that if you have a photo in the photo stream and try to import photos from the phone into iPhoto, it warns that the photo has already been copied. Then if you delete it from the phone it's still not in iPhoto, and photos in the photo stream get deleted after a month or two. I estimate that I've lost a few hundred photos due to this boneheaded design.

Picasa comes close but is useless when it comes to intelligently syncing a canonical "cloud" copy of each photo to a variety of devices linked to the account.

> Picasa comes close but is useless when it comes to intelligently syncing a canonical "cloud" copy of each photo to a variety of devices linked to the account.

This might just be my device experience, but with automatic upload on, this is a non-issue for me; pictures taken on an Android device or uploaded to Picasa are available everywhere my Google account is.

I use Picasa to sync to Google+ Photos(Picasa Web) and it works great. What doesn't work for you?

Albums that originate on one machine are different from albums that originate on another machine. One must decide to manually sync albums, but the canonical copy of a photo lives on only one of the computers in question, not in the cloud.

This poses problems for creating albums from photos whose canonical copy lives on different machines. One must first sync, then duplicate items that did not originate on the local computer.

It sounds like you (and possibly the author of the article) turned off the iPhoto option to automatically import photo stream images to your library. See: http://support.apple.com/kb/PH2712

Other than videos not being included (yes, that's annoying), it does exactly what I need. Am I missing some other aspect?

Suppose you have two computers, each with its own iPhoto library. Picasa does not unify all the photos into one repository and allow you to use them (for edits, or for composition into specialized collections of photos for sharing).

Also, it does not solve the problem of the iPhoto library filling up most of the hard drive and the user still wanting to seamlessly use the photos as described above.

Doesn't it require that you plug in the iPhone/iPad via USB cable?

Nope. All photos (and screenshots) are added to iPhoto automatically as long as iPhoto is actually running, even if the iPhone is on wifi in a different country, meaning its not just a local sync. Only videos require physical cable.

Add a family to this and it only compounds. My wife takes pictures with her phone, I take pictures with mine, we've got a Sony NEX that I took 4,500 pictures with last year (we traveled a lot), not to mention the years of photos from before...

And unlike a "normal" person, I want to review and edit this stuff in lightroom. Perhaps dropbox is the solution, but I've probably got something like 120GB of photos... and only 132GB of space there. Now what... I have to pay still more to dropbox to get their 200GB plan.

I'll be buying a NAS in a couple weeks. This should be awesome, but wait, I want the wide integration that dropbox provides. Is the solution to save everything to dropbox and move it out on a regular basis onto the NAS?

In short, I don't feel I should need to spend $200/year (plus $25 more for flickr), so that I can organize and maintain a photo hobby. (And worse, based on this thread, no one seems to have solved it)

Learn to delete. Not right away, but go through old stuff at least, and be a snob. Your mileage may vary, but the delete button is my number one photography tool. I now actually have less photos than I had after, say, 3 years; simply because my standards of what I consider a keepers rise. I still totally suck at photography, but I have become very good at deleting, even if I say so myself, so people sometimes think I'm quite decent ^^ Maybe try it out with moving them at first, to get a feel for it.

This is one of the major differences between "pro" photographers and "amateurs". Pros will be vicious about editing. They have a limited number of opportunities to build their brand and reputation and to convey their message.

What I learned from a friend who is a pro photographer is to make multiple passes. I'll try to do a quick one when I import into Lightroom to cull out unfocused or unsaveable images. Then I'll go through and cut out shots that are basically duplicates.[1] Then I'll go through and see which ones I want to develop further in Nik/Lr/Ps/etc. and star them.

Then I'm a battle royale optometrist, doing "a or b" an killing the weaker candidates.

Just getting in the habit of killing (or, at least cropping out the junk) the photos that you won't care about in the future is a good start. If you're looking at older photos and wondering "why did I take that," delete it right then. You don't have to have a clean desk right away, just shred the paper you don't need when it gets in your way.

[1] I've gotten into wildlife photography, so I often have a burst of ten shots of a bird in flight to get one that is really special.

Then I'm a battle royale optometrist, doing "a or b" an killing the weaker candidates.

Oh yes, I do that to a fault. That is, even of something static I will take at least 5-10 shots at least, just to get the one where the autofocus hit the nail on the head, and especially with hand held shots in low light. Multiply that for living things, which means hunting for the combination of good crop/focus and situation.

I am not pro by any means, but I am "vicious" about selecting and editing simply because it makes photography so much more fun for me, and the results pleasing to myself. It makes me feel okay instead of bad about the glass I bought, too ^^ I don't mind going back to old photos and changing tweaking the RAW conversion parameters either, and this way I don't have to obsess too much about getting it just perfect on the first go (because as you know, when you stare for too long at a specific set of things, you loose perspective, I find it rather more productive to step away from and then revisit things, but of course that's a luxury of not doing it professionally!).

Love this. I've been trying to think of my personal vacation photos like ROLLS of film. Do I really need 1000 photos from that week long trip? Will I ever be able to look at that many again? The Answer. NO.

So, I try to keep only 36 or 72 around, thinking of them as rolls of film. Unlike a roll of film that you brought back from vacation that only had a couple decent photos, these "virtual" rolls have 36 of your best shots.

Oh man...that's hard to do though. Deleting photos isn't for the faint of heart.

I know.. I never take it lightly. But I also never regretted it either, probably because I really do spend some time on making that decision, and know I would do it again. Excuse the bragging, but by now I can even delete songs! Super crappy "songs", mind you; but it was near impossible for me at first. It's liberating however, and with photos just plain necessary IMHO.

You are not actually killing that person, or destroying that object; you are just deciding which one(s) of the photos of that moment or mood capture it best, and delete the ones which are just slightly worse variations of those.

It takes time though, that is a real cost. Though I think that time is made up for down the road, when you don't have to wade past the photos you deleted, or wait for them to upload/download/backup, etc... even a little bit of self-discipline adds up to quite a bit over a lifetime of digital photography. I think of it as removing weed so the flowers are more enjoyable, and have a greater probability of actually being seen (photographs are kinda useless when they are not seen other than by the bulge they create in the pagination; flickr is like a graveyard where good photos go to get overlooked in that way).

I've noticed that I never go back to looking at old photos. If I've been off at a special event - holidays, a conference a wedding etc, I take any photos / video that I took, and edit it into a short film using iMovie. Because the film has been curated and worked, it is generally of higher quality than the raw shots, and as a result I have noticed that I tend watch the resulting films far (two orders of magnitude?) more often than the raw photos.

I've been doing this for a about 5-6 years now, so about 3 years ago I started deleting the raw shots a few months after having finished the film. To date I have not once regretted deleting a photo.

It's much easier if you do it right after taking them.

I agree I need to be better at this. I actually reviewed a lot of my collection recently and felt that I should have been more discerning at the outset, but didn't actually reduce the number at all.

This doesn't fix the problem though. A tool to coalesce multiple sources and allow for easy sorting/editing with a way to them publish that result is really key here.

In short, I don't feel I should need to spend $200/year (plus $25 more for flickr), so that I can organize and maintain a photo hobby.

Who cares if it's a hobby or otherwise? You want a particular service and you don't want to pay for it. Options are naturally going to be limited.

I feel like home NAS + btsync could be the killer setup for this.

> but I've probably got something like 120GB of photos

> I don't feel I should need to spend $200/year (plus $25 more for flickr), so that I can organize and maintain a photo hobby

At a generous 5 MB per photo, that's 24,000 photos. You would have to take 65 photos, every day, for a year straight to reach those numbers. That's 1 photo every 15 minutes of your waking life for a year (assuming 8 hours sleep).

That's considerably a bit more than a 'hobby'.

At your levels, I consider $200/year rather reasonable for that level of obsession. The amount a traditional film camera user would have had to spend in developing and film costs alone for that level of usage would be astronomical.

The only quasi-reasonable complaint there is the long term storage costs of your high level of need. However, you're also making a special case of needing those photos 'everywhere'. Comparing to traditional photography there would have been no way to lug around 24,000 photos. They would have been stored, with the negatives, in an album somewhere. Kind of like sitting on a harddrive - which the going rate for 120GB is $25 (250 GB external for $50) as a one-time purchase cost.

I understand your desire to have everything digital available at all times and backed up against disasters, but there is going to be a cost associated with that.

And that cost is MASSIVELY cheaper, even at today's rates, than someone with your 'hobby' would have been spending trying to do the same thing, 10-15 years ago.

Your generous estimate on size is way off. I'm not sure exactly how many pictures I've got in total.

However, I do shoot in RAW which means each photo is in the 15MB to 18MB range. I also have JPG versions of each for sharing to friends and family.

As I intimated, last year was a bit of an aberration in that I took 4,500 (actually I took far more, I kept 4,500). I'm also a nerd which mean I am shooting in RAW, editing in lightroom, require access from lots of devices.

This isn't an unreasonable request, flickr allows me to upload, store, and organize all of these photos for a mere $25/year. I'd happily pay them a bit more to give me a great way to sync a local library to their servers in a seamless and understandable way.

However, YES I want them do the same for photos coming from phones, from multiple family members. I then want to be able to curate them natively on an iPad or PC and have that be represented elsewhere. Flickr is already doing the expensive bit, I'm looking for services on the client side to pair with them.

I'm not saying that people like me are a huge market, but almost everyone is taking more photos these days and it does need to be easier for people to manage their libraries. The solution I'm asking for ALMOST exists today, but nothing is quite there.

> At a generous 5 MB per photo, that's 24,000 photos. You would have to take 65 photos, every day, for a year straight to reach those numbers. That's 1 photo every 15 minutes of your waking life for a year (assuming 8 hours sleep).

Is that generous? A RAW file from my SLR is about 20 MBytes. Many SLR's have larger RAW files. But using my "conservative" estimate that's 16 photos a day.

Considering the average photographer can snap 10 photos in about 3 seconds during a photo shoot this seems very reasonable to me.

Yeah, my RAWs are 29 MBytes. Assume a conservative 1000 photos per holiday (it would actually be higher if I wasn't in the habit of discarding some shots immediately), then you're looking at 28 GBytes.

If I were a pro photographer, shooting events like weddings or sporting occasions, I could easily hit 1000 shots in a day. I believe my company has about 10 TBytes of photography directly related to what we do, and that's from older DSLRs with smaller RAW files.

It sounds like you haven't done digital photography in a while... File sizes are much larger than your "generous" estimates--if you have a Nikon D800 your RAW images come off the card north of 75MB (over an order of magnitude greater than your estimate). You do get a ton of resolution for that (7,360x4,912), but those files add up quickly. That would be 1,638 photos or less than 5 a day.

That's shooting one frame at a time, if you're bracketing or capturing sports, you'll be shooting many frames a second and the math gets all that more complicated. Of course you can delete photos, but it's extremely easy to fill hundreds of gigabytes even keeping only your best shots.

Adobe really needs to figure out how to have Lightroom work with multiple computers / offline storage. Maybe now that they're all "cloud" (though mostly in name only) this will happen.

My pain is that I have a laptop and a desktop (not uncommon for photography. I want to be able to look at the photos on my laptop when on the road, but I also want these photos on the desktop (which can be hooked into a large NAS). If I make some edits on the plane those edits should sync to my desktop and vice versa, but I don't want everything both places--I probably only want the most recent shoot on my laptop along with whatever I choose to keep around (highlights from the past). I have to imagine Adobe's developers also see their laptops filling up, there has to be a better way.

I'm traveling this week, but email me a reminder next Monday and I'll share a workflow using solely Apple free tools to get your photos into Lightroom. I'm a little surprised how much misinformation is in this thread.

(Btw, I feel Dropbox is an outrageously expensive solution to this.)

Thanks, will do. I agree about Dropbox, I have no intention of adding additional space for this, however, I like the integration it offers on phones etc.

Buying a NAS - try a Synology. Best in class.

They've got an app to upload from your Android and iOS devices to the Synology. It's called DS Photo+. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeeZxa4N7NA#t=348s

Happy customer.

Google charges $10/mo for 200gb of Picasa storage. Dropbox is ~$16/mo (when paid yearly). Amazon Glacier is $0.01/GB/mo, plus data transfer costs (which are still minimal) - a $100 2TB hard drive plus Glacier backup gives you tons of local storage and protection against data loss in the event of hardware failure. You could even have a RAID-1 array of hard drives to protect against hardware failure (but not necessarily against disaster/theft, so Glacier or similar offsite backup would still be needed.)

In any case, there are plenty of good existing pieces in play.

You'd actually be surprised at how "normal" your workflow is. I'm one of the Picturelife founders and found that actually a ton of people start with Aperture or Lightroom, review it, rate/filter/adjust etc, and then let it automatically push to Picturelife (or wherever they backup). We don't have Lightroom integration yet (just Aperture for now https://picturelife.com/learn/aperture ) so I'm not trying to sell you on anything, but your workflow is actually remarkably normal.

Do you guys have export options? Like what happens if you guys go out of business?

at the moment you can migrate from our storage to your own s3 bucket. we have plans in the works to have a proper data export including all of the metadata associated with your photos and videos. picturelife going out of business is not something that I want to think about, but as a user, data exporting would be a main priority in the case that our service would cease to exist. - chris, cto of picturelife

As a word of warning from someone who's tried it, do NOT try to run iPhoto/Aperture off of a NAS. These apps assume local disk speeds in the way they operate and NASs do not fit that assumption.

In fact, since I bought my NAS, I've yet to find a good use for it. Disk access is just too slow through the embedded CPU.

Did you check some backup solutions like Crashplan and Backblaze?

I certainly have considered them, but I'm already paying for dropbox and flickr and a vps and domains. I try to keep recurring costs relatively low.

I use dropbox to back up important files and flickr is a backup for my photos. I'll be getting a NAS to provide at least some local fault tolerance for storing things like photos, music, and movies.

One of the reasons I went for a Synology is that you can run the CrashPlan client on the Synology itself. It's unsupported, but easy to do and has worked well for me.



If I were dealing with that level of photography here's how I would consider setting it up:

I'd buy a home NAS and shove it full of disks (a Proliant Microserver can take 4x3TB drives easily, 6 if you want to get creative with ports and USB bootable sticks) and run it as a RAID-5 array. This cost me about $600-$700 a couple of years ago, drives inclusive. My array sits on a bookshelf, tucked away, almost silent (drives are the majority of the noise sometimes) and low-power. RAID gives it pretty decent durability so if you do get a hard drive freakout you're able to correct pretty easy. When one of my hard drives went dicky, I just ddrescue'd it across to a fresh drive then let the RAID array rebuild the bad data (RAID-Z is so sexy but that's another topic). You could probably just DD the thing and rely on the RAID checksums to do it or even just checksum the entire lot, depending on the volume of data.

Then I'd link Crashplan or Glacier to those folders and have it periodically diff/sync the data (e.g: overnight once a week/month). I don't have any such setup myself but I have read posts on forums from guys who have set this up as automated syncing of folders and they seem pretty happy with it. This is essentially an insurance against fat-fingeredness or your house burning down.

Now you have an offsite backup that is always relatively recent and an onsite backup that is free to access to your heart's content for modification through almost any medium. Yearly crashplan unlimited access costs $70 for a single device which is really all you're after, because your working storage is your NAS and the NAS is all that'll ever be touching the crashplan storage. I don't know Glacier pricing but I'd imagine that for some workflows it could be beneficial and for others it could be detrimental.

Dropbox can be set to sync with a subfolder so that if you take images on your iDevice or equivalent it automatically syncs them via dropbox to your NAS. Dropbox can also act as your working directory for any images you may be tinkering with on a remote device that can't just access the NAS outright. Rsync can be used to transfer files out of the dropbox folder to the main folder or to a 'to be sorted/postprocessed' folder on a periodic basis - essentially, every day you take a bunch of photos, that night it checks dropbox for those photos and shifts them out to free up more space. The NAS is a full linux install so it's flexible on what you can do.

The only downside I can see here is that you don't have every single image in the cloud, available to every single device at any given moment. I'm not sure if for your gigabytes of photographic memories that that's necessarily an issue, nor am I sure that if you're primarily editing stuff on a fullsized computer with e.g. Lightroom that is usually on the same network as the NAS, that it's a problem either. Sharing of data can be facilitated through a public dropbox folder that you just copy stuff in to when you want to share those images.

Anyway, from the perspective of someone who doesn't actually do this. I'm sure there's tools I don't know about that could slot in to this workflow and solve other problems that may affect some people. The beauty of it is given that the storage is yours, local to you and based on a full linux distro, you're free to do just about anything to it. Change backup providers? No problem, just resync all data. Workflow changes and you need a new feature? Find it and install it.

I look forward to hearing feedback on why this may/may not work for you :)

Take fewer, better photos.

For some people it's not about quality, that's for photographers. A lot of people just like memories and photos of the kids playing at this place and that place might not make great photos but they are still important to the people. My daughter takes photos of her pets all the time, her iPhone is full all the time. They aren't great photos and they are highly repetitive but they are important to her.

In my case, this isn't it. As others have responded, you take many pictures in order to get a good one. I'm messing with shutter speeds and aperture, I'm shooting on continuous advance, and as I mentioned elsewhere, I took a lot of photos last year due to travel.

Finally, I'm keeping maybe 20% of what I take. The other 80% are being deleted.

Shooting in RAW takes up enormous amounts of space.

I've been forced to do something similar, except I'm a little more aggressive than you.

Because I like to keep my entire Aperture library on my laptop, I really have to watch disk space. For a time, I was floating over 200GB for my library until I forced myself to spend 20m a day for a few weeks culling. I'm still at 180GB but rate of disk space consumption of the library has slowed down significantly.

I try to keep 10% of my shots or less. These days, I only keep "high sentimental value" photos (regardless of how well they came out) and shots I'd consider putting into a printed album or on the wall. It means throwing out a lot of otherwise good pictures.

And now that Apple finally introduced "unofficial" support for Fuji's EXR sensors (it only took 2 years :( ), I've been shooting RAW on my X10, which are basically 18MB for 6MP images (it's complicated, there's pixel binning and other stuff going on, so the files are inordinately large).

Going RAW was actually a bit of a godsend - I was a digital hoarder that kept 80% of my files. It wasn't until I came to grips with the fact that I really only do look at 10% of them that I forced myself to overcome my hoarding mentality and start culling.


I now use a USB gamepad to do my flagging for deletion on large photosets. I use a $5 app in the Mac App Store called Joystick mapper, and have mapped key operations to the game pad's buttons. If you're the console gamer type, you'll find yourself going through a set incredibly quickly by using a gamepad instead of mouse/touchpad plus keyboard.

>For some people it's not about quality, that's for photographers. A lot of people just like memories and photos of the kids playing at this place and that place might not make great photos but they are still important to the people.

10 photos of an event or place will do. 500 or 1000 are not necessary, even if you do it for the "memories". If the memories where worthwhile, a few pictures can evoke them just fine. If they were not, one million pictures wouldn't help.

>My daughter takes photos of her pets all the time, her iPhone is full all the time. They aren't great photos and they are highly repetitive but they are important to her.

Well, teach her how to keep the best photos too.

My limited understanding of photography is that even the professionals take many, many photos to get one good one.

Sorry, but that's not good advice. Read almost any guide to photography and the advice is always take more photos. Sometimes a shot turns out great by pure chance. The less photos you take the lower probability of a good shot.

Take more and keep only the good ones would be a more reasonable strategy.

I think he was aiming more at living life rather than being a photographer. Experience listening to your kids sing in a choir, rather than experiencing being a semi-pro photographer at a school while the kids make noise or something while you're trying to compose a great pix. Or experience being on a nature trail, which is pretty cool, rather than experience being a photographer on a nature trail, which is kind of a PITA to haul all that stuff then miss the cool experience because you have camera time instead of nature time.

It drives my wife insane when I buy a professionally taken and professionally printed postcard for a buck instead of trying my hand at cruddy homemade pix, then again I get the last laugh because I'm having more fun and get more memories out of the experience...

Obviously if you are a pro or semi pro photographer or serious wanna be, you have to look at that as a job and disregard my suggestion. However if you can't experience life because of your "job" you should still find some way to experience life at an alternative time and place. Like if you miss one sister's wedding because you were there but were a photographer instead of a sibling, try to avoid being a photographer at the other sisters wedding or whatever, so at least you get the experience one time instead of missing out on both. Life moves fast, don't miss out.

I'm not sure he was to be honest - at least it's difficult to be sure from such a terse response. Also I was speaking purely from a photographic perspective.

But your point is definitely valid. With concerts probably being the worst example of this. It's depressing how many people are just staring into their screen trying to capture the moment, instead of experiencing it.

Huge YMMV on this one, obviously. I don't feel particularly moved to believe that you can know whether or not you're having more fun than someone else and "getting more memories" out of an occasion because you forgo the chore of taking photos.

If you're taking pictures of people, you end up having to take dozens and dozens of the same shot because people's expressions change so much. When you get a chance to filter them - it's too late to take the shot again - even if that's just minutes later. Of course you could delete the rejects - but it hardly seems worth the time.

Also, auto bracketing for HDR (3 pictures per shot normally), RAW+JPEG and continuous shot modes all tend to generate a lot to store.

I love the iPhone camera. I have largely stopped using my other cameras because the iPhone camera is just so convenient.

However, the iPhone Photo App is extremely terrible. Everything exists in the Camera Roll, and you can't physically move them from there, so you have to search through the entire Camera Roll every time. I have 4000 photos and videos, and trying to find anything is impossible, to the point where I have given up. They have Albums, but those are merely pointers, so it doesn't really help organize the Camera Roll itself. Plus, you can't do simple things like see when the photo was taken, or search only for videos. You should be able to pull up a calendar, and see the number of photos on a per day, per month, or per year basis. It seems to be another example of an app that the developers themselves don't use extensively, otherwise they would fix these simple issues.

The Camera Roll stores only the pictures you've taken since your last sync to iPhoto. The intended (pre-Photo Stream) workflow seems to be:

1. Take picture with the phone -> iPhone's "Camera Roll". 2. Sync phone with iPhoto and delete pics from phone -> iPhoto's "Last Import". 3. Organize pics in iPhoto -> iPhoto's "Albums" and "Events". 4. Sync phone with iTunes, including pics -> iPhone's "Events".

Note that iPhoto will automatically group pics into events by date, which along with the "Last 3 Months" and "Last 12 Months" albums giving you at least some ability to find photos chronologically.

I'm not claiming that this is a good workflow, or that it was designed with the user's best interests in mind! Rather, it seems to be one of the many obvious and annoying inconveniences that show how much importance places on locking users into iTunes as their media-management tool.

(The primary example of which is that Apple will sell you a giant hard drive in a WiFi backup appliance, and a WiFi->HDMI box that pipes content from your Mac to your TV... but not a media/backup server with HDMI and a giant hard drive, which is all we really want, right?)

Hi Steven,

I recently released a new app that makes it easy to sort, organize and share your iOS photos by date and location.

Photowerks scans your Camera Roll and displays your photos similarly to the Apple Photos app, but groups them by date taken or photo location.


• Quickly sort photos by date taken, city, state, country, camera make, or camera model. • View photos in a grid or list view. • Tap photo to view date taken and location (city, state) • Share photos via email, Facebook, Twitter (with photo captions listing photo date and location) • Create new albums in the Apple Photos app. • View photo details with standard pinch to zoom gestures and swipe to view previous/next photo.

Here's the app store link:


Price is US$.99.

I'd love to hear your feedback.

Thanks, Steve Orth

I don't think that's true, you can create more albums on the device and move photos to those albums?

You are essentially just tagging photos as being in a certain album, and the "Camera Roll" is always the view of all photos taken with the camera on the device.

You can, but they stay in the central photo roll.

They stay in the "Photo Library", not the "Camera Roll", which is meant to hold just the photos you've taken since your last sync to iPhoto.

Same here. I have about half as many photos as you, but my iPhone is my only camera. It's very frustrating that my only option for photo management is to just remove old photos from my phone until I hit a sweet spot of maybe 500 or so.

Is Android any better?

Yes, somewhat. The gallery shows both camera pictures and albums from Google+ Pictures. You can probably get a similar effect with the Google+ app on iOS and deleting pictures from your camera roll.

I don't know of any automated solutions, but I routinely use QuickSSHd to wirelessly scp photos to my computer from my Android phone. It will also let you get a shell on the phone and delete the old photos.

Post like these, about Apple's ecosystem, are like a jab in the gut. I know, I know, that I should have not invested time and resources into a closed loop, but it stinks that what I thought was the correct thing to do, is wrong. I have slowly transitioned to using other services. I use Android, and have a Surface RT. I figured that if I own devices from separate ecosystems, it will make me find a better solution for my needs.

For example, using Google + to store all my photos. It keeps them organized and in the cloud. If I so happen to need them, I can download them all or individually. I started using Skydrive for documents, and its been great so far.

Perhaps surprisingly, Apple's iOS "closed system" lets you run G+ and auto upload your camera roll.

Also perhaps surprisingly, a copy of your photo stream lives in a local system folder so you can easily script your own auto workflow for every photo you shoot without an API.


Because things are better elsewhere? Photos are in my top three reasons for owning a smartphone, so if you have a solution, my aperture is open wide!

Well, Windows Phone uploads photos to skydrive and you can sync skydrive onto your desktop/tablet,etc.

It syncs nicely out of the box, in fact using a WiFi sync'ing SD card, SkyDrive now even supports my Pentax Proprietary RAW format images. Pretty damned cool, take a photo and when camera is next in WiFi, it appears on my phone, tablet, laptop, desktop.....

I fail to see how that's different from iOS uploading photos to the photo stream, which you can sync to iPhoto...

I could not agree more, the whole iPhone, iPhoto (mac), photo stream situation actually confuses the hell out of me. We're generally smart people on HN and if we don't get, try explaining it to parents and it's a whole world of confusion - normally ending with "You suggested we buy Apple because it was simple to use". My only reply at the moment is "Yeah, I know ... it's complicated".

To anyone making closed ecosystem comments, it's even harder to explain how to do any of this photo management to a parent (the dominant market with disposable income at the moment) with Android and Dropbox.

There really is no way back from "So wait, your telling me Google is IN my phone and so people can search my photos?"

Amen. I'm right in the middle of figuring out how to set my mother up with an iPad - as her only computer. No mac, no iTunes sync.

The only problem? She's got an iPhoto library almost as large as the iPad drive, and there's currently no way to store her iPhoto library remotely.

I'm looking at Space Monkey - but it's not clear yet just how it works or if it will be a truly seamless experience. (People like my parents can't be bothered to manually move photos around - it just needs to work.)

NB: In my research, I've noticed that 99% of iPad users think iCloud backs up all their photos on all devices, which of course it does not.

This is also a problem with movies. On my Apple TV it seems to stream movies, but if I want to watch the same movie on my iPad I have to have the correct amount of space left to download it first.

This is one thing I like about Android/Google+. All the photos I take are uploaded automatically and I can access them on any of my other Android devices.

Everpix is mentioned in another comment. I tried Everpix last year, and it looks like since then they've made it possible to basically store photos in the cloud (without keeping a local copy). Could be an option...

Don't want to keep banging on about it, but yeah Everpix is the solution. Install it on the desktop and Sync the iPhoto library. Install the Everpix app on the iPad, £3 a month, job done.

Last time I checked though Everpix doesn't do video. I have all sorts of little video clips and I desperately wish Everpix would handle them as well as my photos, I don't want to have to split them up or deal with them differently.

From their website, I see no mention of how much quota or space you get to store photos with them. Am I correct to assume that you have infinite space?


Wow, yeah, it looks like Everpix is exactly what he asked for, and more, including multi-platform support (not just iOS), and for exactly the price he specs -- $5/month.

He also said unlimited video.

Yes, I use Everpix and I've been really happy with it. However, I like the photo upload tools that come with Dropbox, so now I collect, sort, and edit photos in Dropbox, then I transfer them to a static(ish) Everpix library that distributes them back to my iPhone/iPad/browser. Seems kind of circular, but it works really well. And I have 170,000 photos in the cloud for less than the cost of a Dropbox upgrade.

Everpix doesn't support Android just yet I believe - someone correct me if i'm wrong!

> NB: In my research, I've noticed that 99% of iPad users think iCloud backs up all their photos on all devices, which of course it does not.

Another common misconception by family and friends iDevice users is that everything is automatically backed up.

They don't get that you have to set things up, specifically, and that you must not ignore the warning messages about iCloud storage.

This isn't even an Apple specific use-case.

There's real opportunity for Dropbox (if they stopped syncing everything everywhere), or Flickr (if they suddenly made really great native clients) to sew this up.

Google probably hasn't a chance in hell given the neglect that they're showing to Picasa.

Isn't Google+ pretty good for photos? You can even auto-sync photos to it. In fact it was one of the very first to do it, long before Dropbox and iCloud.

Google+'s photo sharing/storing system is great. Unfortunately, right now you have to use a third-party app if you want your G+ Instant Upload album to automatically sync to a Google Drive folder. I'm surprised Google hasn't added this feature yet. Perhaps they are intentionally refraining in order to try to induce people to share on G+?

I think it is the best design. I don't even think about uploading or sharing photo's. They're just there! Plus, set it to Wifi only and you'll not waste your precious 3/4G's.

Google probably hasn't a chance in hell given the neglect that they're showing to Picasa.

Ironically enough, none of the ones you suggest handles this well yet, but this is already handled decently enough via your one rejected candidate: Google+/Picasa sync on Android.

With Picasa support for Linux dropped (what do Googlers with Goobuntu do?), this remains unsolved for me.

I never used Picasa on Windows nor Linux, but all the pictures are available via Picasa Web as well, and you can download full albums there.

Not a full on sync solution with client-PCs, but you do get access to the pictures (via the web) which means you don't get locked in like people using Apple-stuff.

And picasaweb.google.com now redirects to Google+ Pictures.

You can still get them all from Google Takeout: https://www.google.com/takeout/?pli=1#custom:picasa

I wasn't criticising, I like Google+ Pictures since they're all private by default, but sharing is even easier than it was with picasaweb.

Dropbox definitely knows about it.


> Dropbox (if they stopped syncing everything everywhere)

Dropbox has offered selective sync for a while now.

Flickr's new client is pretty bad all-around. I wouldn't bet on them to get it right, much as I would.

"Dropbox (if they stopped syncing everything everywhere)" THIS.

They do offer selective sync which can be configured on a folder level in the settings. I've been using this for a while now to save space on device like the MBA with limited space on solid state drives.

It's not the same, if you don't sync the folder then you can't easily add to it or view the contents? On mobile you can add and view files in unsynced folders easily - they just download on demand.

Selective sync as in I'm syncing one folder at ~/a/b/c, another at ~/g/h/j and at /whatever/ etc etc?

I have a Dell Mini with a tiny SSD, and I use selective sync to only sync my Documents folder. I then symlinked ~/Documents to ~/Dropbox/Documents. It works quite nicely. (and I do sync a few other folders, this is just an example)

As in on device X don't sync folder Y. If you have a photos folder with 100GB of images you can set it so that your MacBook Air does not sync that folder but does get your other Dropbox folders.

I'm pretty sure SpiderOak offers this feature, as well as an option to not sync specific folders on specific computers.

It has recently become popular on HN to write "this" as if it is a complete thought. I don't understand this usage of "this". Can someone enlighten me?

"This" when used by itself means the poster agrees with a parent poster; it's an obnoxious upvote really. "This" when used with a preceding quote means that the poster agrees with the quote in particular. Such usage is more of an upvote for select part of the comment.

Not to get too meta but I've seen it a lot on Reddit and essentially someone is trying to say the thought was so completely expressed that they just need to suggest "This" as it is exactly how they feel as well.

Can be read as, "I agree with this."

I think UbuntuOne already solves all those problems.

I'm really praying for them to do something about this. I don't know anyone who's happy with the current situation. We're all lost and in heavy "photo debt".

Absolutely. I gave both iPhoto and Aperture a spin, but they're really really horrible when it comes to managing copies and eating drive space.

In the end I settled for using the OS X "Image Capture" to transfer .jpegs and .mp4s into my own directory structure, so I can rsync it to my linux backup server or copy them to an USB drive and _see the images are there_, instead of some magic "photo.library single-file-folder-hidden-contents".

And then I settled for Picasa to browse them. I freed up around 20% of my hard drive just from losing the iPhoto/Aperture thumbnails and 1024x1024 previews.

Unfortunately Picasa still wants to cache thumbnails and it takes up quite some space, but I'm still coming out ahead.

Photo streams are a brilliant idea, but horribly executed. The article hits the nail straight on the head.

> I freed up around 20% of my hard drive just from losing the iPhoto/Aperture thumbnails and 1024x1024 previews.

Presumably you know you can turn both of those off and not use any space for them at all, just gen on the fly from the JPEGs own built in preview.

I looked around really hard for this option but failed to find it. Where is it?

I'm on the road, can't verify where it is, but off top of my head, right click the project, disable generate previews. May also be in File menu when a project is selected. Be sure to turn off auto generate previews on import. There are tons of blogs about this, Google for screenshots.

I also tried using the Dropbox backup approach but it's a massive waste of time syncing endless photos to multiple devices. I don't actually want the files on all my devices, I just want them stored somewhere I can access them later.

So I've started using https://www.everpix.com/ backup from multiple sources Facebook, Flickr, iPhoto, Insagram etc, finds de-duplicates and I don't have to ever worry about running out of storage.

It's a bit annoying since you have to opt each device out, but you can use the Selective Sync feature in Dropbox to not sync your photos folder to each device that you have Dropbox installed on.

Yup, but I'm right in thinking that also prevents you from adding new photos on that device?

Current setup is to use the Dropbox Camera Sync with Everpix, then just cull the start of the folder when it gets over 5GBs / every few months.

You're not the only one, if the Dropbox desktop clients acted more like the mobile clients then it would work well...

If you find Photostream confusing you don't need to use it. Simple as that. It's not even activated by default, you have to turn it on the first time you try to access it.

If you don't activate it, you phone keeps working the way it used to: you sync to your computer and thats that. There are third party apps that will let you upload to Dropbox and google+ if you prefer those as repository.

Now, the thing is that you want the convenience to have PhotoStream without worrying about space constraints. Ever.

iPhoto automatically creates a folder with all last month's Photostream pictures and I think thats default behavior, unless you purposely turn it off. To me, thats the most "smart" sync can get, unless you want Apple to store every photo you ever took, forever, in their servers. Having around 400 million iOS users worldwide this seems to me a little unrealistic at the moment. Maybe someday.

But for me the key here is just being able to delete your own content. You don't expect the memory card in your camera to last forever, you periodically format it. You don't expect your download folder to hold everything you download forever. Every now and then you go in and clean around. Your phone (ioS, Android or whatever) is no different. Go into that Camera Roll and start cleaning around.

Unless you turn it off the option all the photos are already in iPhoto, ordered by month (something like "Sept XXX Photostream"). If you turned it off, just impoert all the photos before deleting to make sure you don't end up loosing any pics.

I agree on the video, though. Photostream needs to start syncing videos as well.

I agree with you. I'm a little confused about the "outrage" about Photostream.

It's basically just a wireless USB cable that automatically imports into iPhoto based on the month. It's actually been 100% perfect for me. When I plug my phone in using USB to transfer the videos over, it tells me that it already has all the pictures, then it imports the videos, then offers to remove the already synced photos and videos from my phone.

Once everything is in iPhoto, I have been curating an album from a vacation then sharing it with myself using Shared Photostreams. That way I have the trimmed down and edited album available on my phone and iPad.

Maybe people are asking it to do something it was never designed to do?

1) Pick a closed ecosystem

2) Have a non-standard use case

3) Beg Ecosystem owners to change to meet your needs

Or, for another perspective:

1. Pick the best (free) iOS management tool for the job at the time

2. Invest eight years of curation and 70Gb of photos in it

3. Use the setup with more than one device and the same way that 20M+ other users use it

4. Expect that I shouldn't have to be a contortionist to continue to do so

I have over a terabyte of photos in Aperture, family has half a terabyte in iPhoto, whole family uses photostreams, nobody has your issues.

Apple doesn't have a great guide for best practice, and should fix that. But most of the troubles you outline, I feel you're "doing it wrong" or are actually flat wrong about how it works. This may be a training issue Apple should address.

As just one example, I very specifically want my device camera roll and combined photo stream separate. Combining them as you suggest has severely negative consequences your article doesn't consider. Edits on iOS carry over to desktop, you can edit on the loo all day if that suits your style. You never ever have to delete photos from your photo stream and no Apple dialog tells you to delete from photostream. If you set prefs right, you'll get photos imported exactly once.

Your letter raises awareness that people like photos. That's good.

But while waiting, look into some of the prefs dialogs in Aperture or iPhoto. I'm comfortable that every need you mentioned is handled.

But if you still can't find satisfaction for your particular workflow (e.g. photo pro doing commercial work in studio and on laptop in field), check out Image Capture plus the lesser known Auto Importer scriptable tool. You may have to mindlessly plug in a cable after a shoot or at least once in 30 days, but you won't have to press a key.

> 1. Pick ... iOS ... for the job at the time

And voila, you have found yourself a closed system which wont let you treat your data as yours, just as pointed out in the comment you replied to.

There is nothing wrong with pointing out that Apple has a closed solution here, and that the solution is seriously lacking.

What are the complaints in the original article about not being able to treat your data as your own?

The complaints as I read them are about pain points in syncing and accessing the different photos you have spread across different Apple devices, and how whatever sync features exist today ("Photo streams") exacerbate rather than improve the situation.

All of them, I think. If any vendor were allowed to drop photo management software (as a first class citizen) on Apple machines, software that would even be allowed to manipulate their current cloud library through an open API - would anybody be asking Apple for anything?

1) Pick a well written article that makes a few good points

2) Ignore those points and make a cynical/spurious criticism

3) Derail the discussion away from anything useful

But this is a pretty darned standard use case, isn't it? It's not like he's asking for the sun and the moon; he's just asking for a way to easily organize photos taken with multiple Apple devices, without using up all the storage in those devices.

That said, my family has the exact same photo problem, but only half of the devices involved are from Apple. A solution which was not limited to a closed ecosystem would be much better than an Apple-specific solution, in my opinion.

It's a standard use case for an average consumer who probably doesn't take that many photos and doesn't have much of a clue about backups. It's not a standard use case for anybody who is either a serious photographer or a geek....

Exactly this kind of service is where the closed Apple ecosystem should excel. Unfortunately, Apple has missed the transition from the Mac as a "media hub" to the cloud. iCloud came a bit late and they fail to keep up with the rapid innovation speed of other online services.

But how is the scenario described in the article not the standard use case for everyone who has more than one (internet connected) device that takes pictures?


Android/PC can do what the article wants, albeit with an initial investment of research and set-up but that's the choice... do you want buttoned up, everything 'just works' but only a certain way? or do you want customizable with tinkering required?

How non-standard is his use case? And what then would be the standard use case when using laptop, iPhone and iPad?

Isn't that part of the point? This is a totally normal thing to want, but no it is forbidden. Could a third party developer fix it? They could on Android.

They could, but it's strictly speaking not needed. It's already solved/fixed.

Just enable/install Google+/Picasa sync and you have all your pictures on all your Android-devices, and on the web, just in case you need it outside this semi-closed Google system.

This is the worst kind of comment.

It's not as non-standard as you think - I've got this exact pain-point. As well as my sister, who is not technical at all. I've gotten a couple of calls from her "Where are my pictures going?" and all I can tell her is "Hell if I know."

Hell for that matter, just try sharing your photos with your family on a home network. Both iTunes and Windows Media Player seem designed to frustrate that very common scenario.

What does a "closed ecosystem" even mean? People are saying that EverPix does what the OP needs - is EverPix banned from iOS? (No it isn't.)

For me, photo storage had become so incredibly complex that I ditched the entire effort and piece-mealed my own.

Here's my workflow:

1) Take photo from my iPhone

2) CameraSync.app automatically uploads the pictures & videos to Dropbox when I get home (Geofencing & wait for wifi)

3) Computer Automation automatically sorts photos into Dropbox/Photos/YYYY/MM folders (Hazel, DropIt, etc). Videos go into external folder (Outside of dropbox)

4) Manual verification of photo upload & delete from camera roll (unfortunately, Apple doesn't allow automatic deletion of photos)

No huge photostream (only a few small shared photostreams). Not tied to a single platform (Mac/PC/iOS/Android/WinPhone/etc). No slow apps (iPhoto). No databases to corrupt, just folders of pictures. Easy access through the Dropbox app. Easy backup & restoration (Dropbox + CrashPlan).

This system can easily expand to accommodate other cameras too.

I've noticed this about iPhoto too. I was a mac user, but recently switched to linux on my laptop when I realized iPhoto/Aperture were the only things keeping me on OS X, and I didn't really like how they worked.

Does anyone have suggestions for a linux photo manager? I'd like an easy way to view/rate/tag/delete pictures, a sane file system storage structure (i.e. not like iPhoto), and a way to make "albums" out of a bunch of pictures that aren't in the same directory. I'm not too concerned about sharing/etc, as there are plenty of other web-based tools for that.

Open source would be nice (and maybe I should write this...), but I'm happy to pay for something if it will do what I want.

I'll throw in a recommendation for gPhoto; while old and pretty bare bones, it does sane storage structure (customizable, actually), not some silly database. The album export will create static albums you can then upload by hand (or just have them written out to an SSH mount on your web server).

I like DigiKam. It works well with the KDE desktop and it's software libre licensed GPL Version 2.

I think Shotwell is pretty good if you're looking for a desktop app.

For anyone having this problem, check out MyShoebox. It's exactly what Peter is suggesting, plus it works on Android and Windows as well.

1) Full collection in the cloud with access or upload from any device 2) Unlimited backup... for free! Okay, slight caveat, the free plan is downsized, but for $5 a month it keeps original resolution. 3) A merged camera roll across all devices (including old devices) 4) API coming soon 5) Lots of clever auto-sorting. We search and sort on about 25 filters, and use that data to automatically find interesting sets to surface on the explore page


Unfortunately MyShoebox - even the paid, "Pro" tier - limits photos to 20MB per image. It also only supports JPEG and PNG formats, not RAW. Both of these constraints prevent usage by photographers with modern DSLRs.

I don't think they're going after the photographer market. It's more for regular people who take photos with their iPhone, etc. A ton of people don't shoot RAW.

iPhoto is the worst, just a straight up terrible photo management program. Adobe Lightroom is not that expensive and is far and away better - mainly for the fact that it actually allows you to manage your photo files, instead of hiding them god knows where. Also, it doesn't cache your entire collection of photos so I can actually open and use Lightroom with 14k+ photos. iPhoto would shit the bed and crash my computer if I tried to do that.

But you still can't do what he wants to do, which is pretty straightforward:

1. Photos he takes are added to a library automatically (for internet connected devices).

2. That library exists in the cloud.

3. He can access that library from all of his devices.

I also have this problem, and I'd add a 4th point: Please let me back up the cloud based library.

You can't do this with lightroom, either.

You can get close. Check out Photosmith (http://www.photosmithapp.com/).

Btw, Lightroom has a scripting interface using which I'm pretty sure you can roll what this guy wants.

Not really sure what he means.

Apple isn't using smaller and smaller drives for the MacBook Air. The current release goes up to 512GB which is the max so far. And 10 years worth of high res photos and movies is always going to take up space. Why doesn't he just buy an external hard drive like a normal person or use Dropbox/S3 etc ?

Last time I tried aperture/iphoto, it created ~30gb of worthless thumbnails and previews out of a ~20gb photo library. That hurts on a 256GB macbook air (largest size available about a year ago). Plus, the Apple photo apps seem to go to great lengths to hide where photos are physically stored, as if you're not supposed to think about .jpeg files or volumes.

Thumbnails get generated because most cameras are outputting multi-GB JPEG/RAW which take too long generate in real time on low end Macs whilst scrolling the thumbnail view.

And Apple apps don't go to great lengths to hide photos. They are stored in your Pictures folder in a package e.g. Aperture Library. Just right click and your photos are there. Packages are great for inexperienced users since it is easier to backup and less opportunities to mess up the metadata.

I thought most camera JPEGs contained a thumbnail in the EXIF. And there's absolutely no reason to store 1024x1024 "preview" versions either, or whatever it is it is doing to to take up so many gigabytes. Last time I looked at iPhoto, there were no obvious ways to move images around volumes (in fact, there were no obvious ways to even have folders within folders) (actually - i don't think it even supports folders; the "albums" it generated seemed to be only stored in some opaque hidden meta-database? Talk about lock-in!)

Handily, Aperture lets you use the camera generated preview from the EXIF.

Aperture and iPhoto use same library DB packages now, and Aperture's a cheap upgrade if you've outgrown iPhoto's consumer family interface. Aperture lets your organize any way you want, to any depth, with nesting of any kind within any kind.

It is up to individual cameras to support thumbnails and the resolution either way is postage stamped. The large 1024x1024 previews are for the large thumbnail view of your photos/albums (try it in iPhoto and you will see).

And the metadata is stored inside the iPhoto/Aperture library package. For Aperture at least it is an open standard XML file so there is no 'lock in' what so ever.

Ah yes, I'll just tell my mom to write an XML-parsing script to move the files around in case she ever changes her setup. ;)

And even Finder quicklook seem to render the full .jpegs just fine and fast enough, so wasting so much disk space on a useless preview/thumbnail feature (to me) is a dealbreaker. I'd even be willing to accept missing or postage stamped thumbnails, rather than having to uninstall applications and remove music to make room for my photos.

Thankfully, your deal beaker is accounted for, just turn off thumbnail and preview generation, done.

>Just right click and your photos are there.

Split across different folders depending on whether you have edited them or not.

Personally, I like that Aperture (and iPhoto, for that matter) use packages instead of folders. It took away my desire to be a "file location control freak" and just focus on the photos.

Other enthusiast friends of mine hate the package approach because they're very used to the file management approach, so YMMV.

Yes, he could have been phrased that better. But it definitely is the case that high megapixel cameras plus years of libraries plus SSDs makes my computer feel smaller than ever.

And adding a separate drive is cumbersome, and slow, and not a solution for a tablet at all. Plus iPhoto doesn't easily support libraries on a external drives. I think you need to launch it while holding Option or something arcane like that.

[original article edited to clarify this]

I just posted this as well. Some people just like to complain. A 3TB external HDD is pretty cheap nowadays, and if that is not enough room, he could always buy another one.... You never know though, he might complain about that as well!

External drives rather conflict with the ideal of hyper-portable laptops.

It's like attaching an anchor to a 13" Macbook or Air.

It's not ideal, but there's a happy enough compromise in USB-powered 2TB 2.5" external drives.

If that's the case, why not use a 1TB USB 3.0 flash drive? Cant get more "hyper-portable" than that.

Hear Hear. Currently I just don't bother with curating pictures I've shot, aside from tweeting or facebooking them at the point I take them.

In this thread we learn that Apple is really bad at sync. Again.

The problem is that Apple seemingly cannot escape from the users-owns-1-computer-which-is-the-master-to-1-iPod setup from eons past.

Apple is not bad at sync. I have run nearly 100k photos through photostreams without a single glitch. I have thousands of photos in shared photostreams (dynamic albums) shared to a dozen family members without a single glitch. Set and forget, just works.

What I learned for this thread is a few people have obviously gathered that all this works great, most have not. So Apple needs a good best practices guide to cover the use cases between casual and pro.

And iTunes... My wife spent hours last night trying to clear PodCasts off her iPhone. There are setting for how many episodes to keep in: iTunes, iPhone Settings, the individual PodCast in iTunes, and on the individual PodCast in the iPhone. How these settings play together, well, who the heck knows!

> MacBook Air so that after 10 years of taking high-res photos and videos I couldn’t actually fit them on your my desktop hard drive

The MacBook Air isn't a desktop, and the iPad isn't a remote control for iPhoto. Besides, wanting to store everything in iCloud is his usecase, and I doubt it's a popular one. Personally, I'd rather keep my library on an external Thunderbolt RAID array for speed and duplicated on an off-site backup. Also, Photo Streams aren't the only way to get things in to iPhoto, if that's not your flavor. Image Capture will pull the full files off the camera and iPhoto can import anything it understands from anywhere (like, ~/Pictures/ImageCaptureDump). A small change in workflow would solve this guy's problems.

> Wanting to store everything in iCloud is his usecase, and I doubt it's a popular one. Personally, I'd rather keep my library on an external Thunderbolt RAID array for speed and duplicated on an off-site backup.

I think his use-case is a lot more common than yours! 99%+ of consumers don't have an external Thunderbolt RAID array, or even know what it is. They just want their photos all in one place, accessible from everywhere, in the same way you can have your music on all devices with iTunes match.

It seems safe to assume anything involving "external Thunderbolt RAID array" is not "popular" either.

I think "All my photos are safe, and available on all my devices, including when I upgrade devices" probably IS a popular need -- but many/most people don't even realize it's not currently being met, or don't even think about it -- which may make it hard to build a business of it. They don't care from "the cloud", but the cloud seems the logical way to meet this need.

>The MacBook Air isn't a desktop

True, barely anyone has a "desktop" anymore, so solutions shouldn't rely on it.

The HN bubble cracks me up sometimes.

Yes, most people still have a desktop.

Really? I think the HN bubble would lead to thinking more people have desktops than laptops. Many casual computer users don't even have desks to put that desktop on, they just use a laptop on the couch, when they run into something they can't do on their phone or tablet.

Agreed. Since the days of the $400 laptop started, most non-techies I meet don't have working desktops anymore. Almost all techies I know have one or more.

Doesn't the dropbox instant upload already do this (one album\store that all devices have master access to)? I am not sure if it works on iDevices

It doesn't really work because of iOS's stupid ban on background processes. You have to start Dropbox and keep it open for it to sync photos ...

That stinks. I've been using it on android for a while now and have had a great experience. It's really cool to be able to pull up a picture from a vacation you took ten years ago that happened to randomly come up in your current conversation.

Dropbox WILL upload in the background for IIRC 10 mins as well as when you move around.


It's sad that companies have to come up with these kinds of hacks just to get around stupid limitations imposed by Apple.

I really regret buying an iPhone last year. I had been avoiding them for the longest time but at some point I needed a new phone and gave in because everyone keep touting how awesome and convenient it is. Well, maybe for an average layman but not for a power user.

My friend bought an Android for half the price of an iPhone and his phone feels like a spaceship compared to this fancy looking but ultimately extremely limited device. Apple my ass.

Ah. I guess I wouldn't have noticed that on an iPad (I don't have/use an iPhone).

Adobe Revel does all this for $5.99 per month. They have a free version for 50 photos a month. it syncs low-res version on iPhone for those out of sync cases.. see http://www.adoberevel.com/

Funny, Google+ and my android phone do everything he just mentioned. Why not just switch ?

Google+ and your Android phone can manage 70GB of photos and ensure that they properly synced to multiple devices including a Mac ?

Yes, I don't have 70GB yet, but my Google Drive account currently has 100GB of allocated space in it. I can get up to 1TB If I want. I can access all of them from the gallery app on my phone ,and a web page on my desktop. I can print them via any number of services. Also if I use ChromeOS I have essentially filesystem native access to them.

With this setup, however, do you end up with local backups of the files? Whatever picture solution I choose, it's important that I have all the files local (because I still consider it a distinct possibility that Google will cancel my account someday ... accident or not).

No you don't which I count as a feature, but I understand the opposite side. I can export my photos locally, but already my photo collection is larger then the storage space on my phone, tablet or Chromebook so a syncing solution wouldn't help on those platforms.

It doesn't have a great way to upload from the desktop to G+, does it? I've been trying to figure this out for pics that don't originate on an android/iOS device.

I guess picasa can do it, but picasa leaves a lot to be desired.

I use Shotwell to upload to Picasa which is really a thin wrapper around G+. I also still use Picasa to do any prints I might want since G+ doesn't have that as part of its interface yet.

It sounds like he is fairly involved and satisfied with the platform, but has some suggestions on improvements. A wholesale platform switch to solve one specific issue is not a reasonable solution.

I switched over to picturelife.com for photo storage a few months ago, and it's the first photo management service I've been happy with in years.

It'll store your photos in your own S3 bucket if you want, and it'll automatically pull in photos from iPhoto and any other photos on your computer, as well as most popular services you might have photos on, like Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Also has nice iPhone and iPhoto apps, that will auto-upload photos from the device, and allow your browse and manage your library without requiring you to sync your entire library to your device [I believe].

I just wanted to join the choir. I think its pretty clear that photo management has not been solved yet, which is quite surprising given the cultural importance of memories via photos/videos.

I actually think the same discussion arised 265 days ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4388242

My story: I used to keep everything in iPhoto since it is quite intuitive and allowed me to manage my photos (60 Gig, videos take a ton of space). However, since there are more and more devices, I have been looking for a more future-proof solution. It didn't help that the export opportunities (metadata-wise) diminish with every version of iPhoto.

So right now, I have returned to folder-hirachy where the metadata is saved in the open iptc standard. Lightroom makes it really easy to keep your assets as future-proof as possible. Which is one of my biggest pet-peeves with most of the mentioned providers/solutions. They just don't have sufficient export options, and we ought to realize that any of them could die any day. Or video support is lacking which I cannot understand in the 21st century.

What I'm now looking for is a solution that allows me to backup my folder structure (I'm heavily leaning towards AWS Glacier), as well as allowing me to access them from a variety of devices. Like even a simple web-inferface would suffice. If someone could help me with my single biggest technical problem, I'd be forever in your debt.

I guess this a little bit of a hacky, complicated way to do it, but I think it might solve part of the problem.

Setup a cheap VPS/Dedicated server to host all your images. A good example is BuyVM Storage VPS ($7/month for 250gb) or Kimsufi (10€ /Atom dedicated with 500gb HD).

From what I see, people don't want to sync their stuff so much as it's keeping a copy on their computer, but they want a on the fly solution to edit, modify pictures etc.

1. Setup OwnCloud. Unless someone can think of a better solution, it's probably the easiest and there's already a iOS/Android app, so you sync all your pictures and what not.

2. Setup Samba/AFP. This is pretty easy, it's a bit harder to setup Bonjour for Mac people, but it's not really necessary.

3. (Optional) Setup a VPN, OpenVPN AS comes to mind as its simple as typing apt-get openvpnas (Debian guy here).

Now you would have your own private cloud for under $15/month. Of course if your outside Europe/USA like me the upload speeds are gonna be pretty crap and probably not good enough for Lightroom editing and whatnot, but if you are I reckon the speeds would be fine. I have both a BuyVM VPS and Kimsufi dedicated, and I can easily hit over 10mb/s download/upload on both instances.

Very complicated. That's why the OP went with an Apple solution, that he expected to "Just Work". Sadly, in this case, it doesn't.

I am going to go a little further and suggest that Apple's entire iCloud + iTunes + backup + synchronization strategy/system/product/code is a disaster.

Why? Simple: You cannot trust it. You need to be able to trust such software. I'm sorry, but you just can't in this case.

I won't go into all of the details, links and examples here. Do a little searching and it should not be too hard to find hordes of people who have lost calendars, contacts, notes, photos and other valuable data thanks to Apple's wonderful software.

I have personally experienced loosing all of my contacts, appointments, calendar items and notes. Of course, being that this ain't my first rodeo I had backups of the backups. I always go into data storage situations with zero trust for what is being offered. It took some work to get the data back but I recovered.

That is not the point. The first three rules of any piece of software that users entrust with their data are:

  1- Thou shalt not loose user data
  2- Thou shalt not loose user data
  3- Thou shalt not loose user data
Notice that cool hippie user interfaces are never mentioned there. My data (and your data) is far more valuable than their cool icons and "beautiful" design. Far, far more valuable.

Go ahead, Google it. The stories are horrific. From people loosing contacts to students loosing semesters worth of notes. Auto-magically.

I even went to my local Apple store to consult with a "Genius" about this. The guy was clueless. And, in fact, right in front of my eyes, he proceeded to accidentally delete all of my calendar entries --something that should be darn-near impossible to do. Again, I had my backup at home so I didn't blow a fuse. But, please.

I explained that it was not reasonable to blow away someone's data if their email service provider changed. If you go from Google to Yahoo all the shit that was being synchronized with Google goes poof. Really? Why? I would love to hear from someone at Apple on this. Why it is even remotely reasonable to blow away all of my contacts, notes and calendar information?

If you close your email account and you are no-longer able to log-on it seems iOS will attempt to synchronize, fail and then blow away your data. My wife has had cases of constantly disappearing notes and appointments due to failed synchronization sessions.

The greater point is that you should not have to be a programmer or IT worker to have your personal data be safe on iOS. She is not a technical person and without my help she would have descended into data loss hell. Grandpa and Grandma have no hope.

Anyhow, now iCloud and all forms of automated synchronization are turned off on all of our devices. Manual backup is still the only way you can be sure your data will not be lost.

Syncing all devices is fundamentally wrong and broken. Apple won't get it right until they drop the concept.

Try controlling what music from your vast library is currently on your tiny iphone. It's a god damned nightmare. Apple wants to "sync" which is just the wrong paradigm.

My phone is not synced with my itunes library. It's just contains a very small subset of it. If I were to draw a Venn diagram of "all the things" it would contain my iphone5, iphone4, ipad3, macbook, other icloud data, plus data on Apple's servers about what apps and TV shows I own but currently do not exist on any device in my possession. Each circle in the diagram has varying degrees of overlap with all the other circles. Not a single one is fully contained in any other. To proclaim that all of these devices are "fully synced" is just plain wrong.

This is where Google's Play Music works much better - your music is in the cloud by default, but you can "pin" specific albums to have them stored on the device.

If you play some song that's not on the device, it will be streamed and then cached for some time till space runs out.

This is how iCloud works already, if all your music was bought from iTunes or if you're using iTunes match

This is terribly nit-picky, but reading "loose" so many times is making me crazy! It's "lose".

Crap. Agreed. Too late to edit. I don't know why I did that. Typing too fast. Also, I speak several languages.

English can be really inconsistent at times: "lose" and "loose" are pronounced exactly the same yet have different meanings. Yet "lost" is not pronounced "loost". Another one I hate: "read" can be pronounced "red" or "reed".

In sharp contrast to this Spanish is regular and consistent. I'll venture to say that even French can be more consistent than English.

That said, I am launching into learning Mandarin, which I understand can be tricky due to subtle pronoun inaction [see edit] and tone details.

EDIT: Damn, every time I type on my iPad there's something to regret. Here "pronoun inaction" was supposed to be "pronunciation". Time to turn off auto-no-help. Just try texting in multiple languages on your iPhone for some ROFL fun. Cute until you email or text a business contact and auto-no-help corrections make you sound like a total idiot.

Not sure if it's just my dialect of English (which is the "non-accent" accent) but I pronounce "lose" with a "z" sound (rhymes with booze) while I pronounce "loose" with an "s" sound (rhymes with noose or moose).

English can be really inconsistent at times: "lose" and "loose" are pronounced exactly the same yet have different meanings.

Not to be pedantic, but they are not pronounced the same in American English.


True. Having learned a couple of other languages I can, however, place myself in the shoes of a non-native or less fluent speaker, and, to them, these words sound pretty much the same. It's like me with Chinese, it all sounds the same right now.

So, "lose" should really be spelled "looze", "looz" or some variant of that. Writing "lose" and pronouncing it \ˈlüz\ makes as much sense as writing "lost" and pronouncing it \ˈlüzt\.

> So, "lose" should really be spelled "looze", "looz" or some variant of that.

How should "have" be spelled?


English is a terribly inconsistent language, yes. I suppose having both Germanic and Latin heritage, plus some other random bits does that to a language.

French is quite consistent as well, pleasantly so in comparison to English.

I had assumed only native English speakers misspel "lose", but you prove me wrong :) I don't think I ever got that particular word wrong, for some reason.

Agree. And let me point out another view on the "I cannot trust you" problem. iPhoto 11 allows me to publich photos on flickr. Fine. I could buy a pro account on flickr and publish all my photos there. But then who will ensure me that the publish-to-flickr option will stay there in the future?

I like iStuffs, and I buy them. But not being sure of how my personal data (and memories) will be handled in future, I'm more and more doubtful. Please Apple, go back to build things that just work fine as expected. And, by the way, I expect I can choose where backup my stuff without having to hack my computer.

Yeah, more of the same. I haven't explored every permutation. Once I decided the entire approach is fraught with data loss danger I moved on. There is no way to justify data loss, not for a company of the size and resources of Apple.

The mass deletion of user data should never be automatic or a single button function. This act should require the user to do something non-trivial and non-accidental. And, even if the data is deleted the system should save a copy and give you an option to restore it from the device with a few clicks.

Right now if you un-sync your contacts the only choice you seem to have is to delete them from the phone or keep using sync. Why not a "keep an independent copy on my phone" option. I would love to hear someone justify that concept. How are such decisions made?

I recently went through this as well. My wife and I shared iPhoto libraries for ~10 years and then they got to big.

So I started splitting them into multiple libraries. Then the libraries (with dslr video) filled up the hard drive and my wife had trouble finding pictures she knew were there (but not in the current library ) After this a a couple of other things I settle on out current strategy:

All old and new iPhoto libraries on an external HD connected to the home network. Aperture - I'm still learning how to use this so I can show my wife but it lets multiple people access multiple iPhoto libraries on multiple computers. The hard drive is wet her by the Crashplan daemon and everything gets backed up.

As for phones and tablets, I'm pessimistic when it comes to photo stream: I see it as nice but ephemeral and regularly import the device images into the libraries. We will see how it goes as I learn more about Aperture.

I found network access to an iPhoto library to be rather slow. Can you describe your setup? Is everything wired or wireless?

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