As part of my switch away from Aperture, I’m losing one of the best features of iCloud: Photo Stream sync. When using iPhoto or Aperture, you can have all the photos taken with all iOS devices automatically backed up to your computer’s hard drive, seamlessly, and in the background. If you aren’t using either of these apps, you have to do it all by hand.
What I’ve done now is to set Lightroom up to “watch” the Camera Uploads folder in Dropbox. I’ve also downloaded the Dropbox app to my phone and turned on automatic photo sync, and set up my Mac’s to automatically sync SD cards and whatnot over to the Camera Uploads folder. As long as Lightroom is running, the contents of the folder get pulled into Lightroom – copied over to the fileserver and removed from Dropbox. So I can always see what’s left to import, and I can restore images from Dropbox (if needed).
This also lets me sync images from multiple Macs or even Linux boxes that I have, which means I don’t always have to go to the Shed Office to start the photo import.
The failings of this setup:
- Dropbox doesn’t handle shared photostreams
- You can’t publish to a photostream (shared or not) from Lightroom.
- The dropbox iOS app needs manual intervention
To be fair to Dropbox and Lightroom – as far as I know, there are no API’s for 3rd party apps to reciveve the contents of a Photo Stream, outside of Apple’s apps. This means that unless an iCloud API is released, this will never happen. The other annoyance is that the Dropbox app can only upload photos when it’s active, and the background process rules in iOS limit this to 5 minutes. So, if you are uploading a lot of images, you’ll need to either keep the dropbox app open (and the phone awake) or re-wake the app every 5 minutes.
However, it all works, and with the exception of the above caveats, it’s pretty smooth. Smooth enough for me to publish here.
This is a feature suggestion for Apple.
I want the ability to turn off the Camera Roll on my iPhone. Not the extra albums that I’ve lovingly created and filled by hand, but the primary photo album. The one everything goes into by default. I want to turn it off and replace it with a better integrated Photo Stream. A Photo Stream that acts just like the basic Camera Roll until you turn Photo Stream on a Mac hooked to your iCloud account. iCloud is smart enough to see this already. When there is another computer that can sync, it starts to download photos from your iCloud account, leaving the last 30 days or 1000 pictures in iCloud. The next time you snap another picture, or the next time the date rolls over, the iOS device would trim down to the 30 days/1000 photo limit. The Mac would already have the images, so nothing would need to be done there.
Occasionally, your Mac wouldn’t be online for a long period of time. Perhaps you are on an extended vacation. Again, iCloud is smart enough to see this, and would have your iPhone retain more images than usual (to keep Photo Stream at it’s 1000 image limit). As soon as that computer came back online, and caught up downloading images, your iPhone would get the go-ahead to prune the images on your phone.
Simple, direct, Apple-like, and importantly, even less work or hassle for the end user.
I broke the number one rule of non-cluster-aware filesystems Thursday night, and accidentally mounted the iSCSI volume that hosts my Aperture library on two systems at the same time, both of which were in read/write mode. The volume was only mounted for 15 seconds or so, but the damage was done: pages of error messages in Disk Utility, ending in “invalid thread count” and an error that the volume could not be repaired. Disk Warrior was also unable to do anything with the disk, reporting it damaged beyond repair.
I also broke the number one rule of using iSCSI on a Mac: my last backup of the volume, which holds my Aperture library (but not the raw images themselves) was on Monday, after I had finished importing all the pictures from Dov and Nikki’s wedding last week.
After a number of restarts of both the Mac and the Solaris box, and repeated runs with Disk Utility and fiddling with the globalSAN iSCSI initiator, I was able to mount the volume, even though I got a pile of error messages about “THIS VOLUME IS DAMAGED. BACK UP WHAT YOU CAN AND REFORMAT IT.” Rsync ran for a long time, and thankfully, pulled a working copy of my 103GB Aperture library back out of the burning wreckage. All 125,000 images files verified, and I was able to do an “Update metadata from master” for everything.
Yes, I’m making an extra set of regular backups now.
After nearly an hour of imports, this is where I am. There are nearly 76,000 images in the library, and it's going through each one.
UPDATE: 45 minutes later, it’s processed 10,000 more images. 65,181 to go.
Great news – Apple didn’t kill Aperture. Looking over the feature list, this is a must-have upgrade. Flickr and Facebook integration, face-detection (a-la iPhoto 09), and a bevy of new image editing tools, including brushes and better curves adjustments. What’s not to like?
And it’s a $99 upgrade. I’m sold.