Thursday, December 31, 2009

Moving to the Cloud Part 2: Email

In my last post, I mentioned my goal of moving all of my important data out of local storage and into the cloud. First, I dealt with my photos. My next order of business was email.

Traditionally, I used Outlook to organize my email and contacts. So I had years' worth of messages organized into personal folders on a local hard drive. Whenever I wanted to move to a new machine, I would export all of these as .pst files and re-import them in a new location. That was annoying, risky, and error-prone.

Now that I am paying for all of this Google storage (as discussed in my last post), it seemed obvious that Gmail was the place to move all of my old email. I wasn't sure off the top of my head exactly how to do that, but a quick search turned up many variations on a simple trick -- enable IMAP in Gmail settings, bring the Gmail account into Outlook via IMAP, and drag-and-drop folders and messages. Perfect!

As for my contacts, I imported them into the Google space (via Google Voice) a long time ago. And I never did a lot of personal calendaring with Outlook. (Online solutions are far better for that now anyway.)

Overall, I was very pleased at how easy it was to migrate away from Outlook. There are two more things that I care about enough to want to move to the cloud -- my music and my schoolwork/teaching/research files. I will cover those in future posts.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Moving to the Cloud Part 1: Photos

Well, it's been a long time since I've posted. Without going into a lot of details, I've had a number of life changes in the last few months. Hopefully I can get back into blogging a bit.

One goal I've made for 2010 is to care a lot less about what, exactly, is on the fleet of machines and disk drives sitting around my house. That means moving content into the cloud. I decided to start with what is most important to me, namely, my family photos.

I was a pretty early adopter of digital photography, getting my first camera in 1997. So I have a lot of pictures. I've used Picasa for a long time (well before Google bought it), so it seemed like a natural fit to upload everything into Picasa Web Albums. And of course, there is a web API, so in the future, I can manage my photos with custom scripts and applications.

The Picasa fat client application makes the upload process incredibly easy. (I used the beta version for Linux, which now runs via the WINE emulator.) One thing I had to make sure to do was force it to upload the full-size images for each album, lest I lose some JPEG quality for more recent years' photos.

Another thing I had to do was upgrade my Google Account storage, because the free space wasn't going to be nearly enough. Conveniently, there is currently a deal to get a free Eye-Fi card with a year's worth of 200G of storage. I went for that. I don't really need anywhere near 200G just for my photos, but I will use some more of that space in future blog posts. And I can't wait for my new Eye-Fi card to arrive in the mail.