The photo backup saga

For a so called rambling technologist I have been rather quiet lately, but I’m back now and have a few projects going on that I felt were worthy of a post. 

The first and most important project is the one I alluded to in the title of this post. I was the first victim of this particular problem, but now it’s affecting my wife, sister-in-law, and most recently my mother-in-law. It’s the problem that Google likes to make fun of in their Google Photos commercials against iPhone users with the infamous “Storage full” error. 

When it just affected me nobody seemed to care and so I quietly went off into the abyss in search for a solution for myself. After reading up on multiple solutions I decided that Google Photos was the best bet because not only does Google Photos work well across both iOS and Android, but it works swimmingly well in the browser too. From a PAT standpoint it received the golden stamp of approval. 

What’s doubly awesome is that the mobile apps on both platforms provide really awesome tools for managing and editing your photos and videos. It even automatically creates albums and mini videos containing photos and snippets of multiple videos into a single “show” like a highlight reel of a given day/event. It does this all by itself and 99% of the time the end product doesn’t even need editing, as it all fits together nicely. If you wanted to modify one of these auto-generated highlight reels it’s super simple and a joy to use, which is simply super!

Now, the real magic is the option to actually be able to wipe your phone clean of ALL local copies of your photos and videos to free up space. Apple claims to store everything in the cloud, but when I looked at my wife’s iPhone the manage storage section said she was still utilizing 3.5GB of disk space for iPhoto despite having ~80GB’s remaining on her iCloud storage plan. At first I thought it would be a case of identifying the photos & videos manually and deleting, but that is not the case. First of all it’s not 100% clear what is local and what is in the cloud. Second of all once you have positively identified a local file you can’t delete it without a message saying “This video will removed from all devices”. Why!? Why would you remove it from all devices when we are paying for cloud storage!? Apple should provide an option to delete the local copy and keep the backup version in iCloud or do what Google does and provide the same “Free up space” option which checks to see which photos and/or videos are stored locally, backs them up to the cloud, the proceeds to delete the local copy once it has verified that everything is safely in the cloud!

My conspiracy theory is that Apple would rather my wife ditch her 64GB iPhone 6s and buy a 128GB iPhone 7. However, it is most likely a shortcoming in their ecosystem, but from what I’ve read online there appears to be no fix in sight. 

So finally I said enough is enough and I have taken everything I have learned from my transition experience from iCloud Photo Library to Google Photos and will be applying it to my wife’s setup. 

This isn’t​ the end of the iPhone for my wife. By doing this we are in fact prolonging the life time of her existing iPhone as we can now free up space properly. It does, however, solve the photo sharing hassle between my Google Pixel and her iPhone as we now use the same photo backup provider. 

So that’s it for today. I’ll write up about some other things that I am doing later on. 

Ciao!

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iPhone 8

I’m looking forward to seeing what Apple has in store for the new iPhone. All I have read so far is that an announcement will happen in March, which seems really early. However, they are just rumors after all!

C# fundamentals for absolute beginners

This is by far my favorite programming tutorial!

https://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Visual-Basic-Fundamentals-for-Absolute-Beginners
After doing some more research on Xamarin I realized that C# could pave the way to building apps on multiple platforms using a single language. 

Another cool thing is that Microsoft released Visual Studio for Mac, so not only is there a plagtech programming language that I can learn I can also use the same tools across Windows 10 and macOS!

https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/visualstudio/2016/11/16/visual-studio-for-mac/

Minimalist Plagtech

Gosh darn it I just can’t help myself! I think I have to live with some level of platform agnosticism to prevent myself from going completely crazy!

This time I want to take a different approach though. Yea, yea, you’ve heard it all before, but hear me out please…

Rather than taking the all or nothing approach I am going to figure out what is the bare minimum of platform agnosticism I can accomplish to satisfy all of my technological needs. 

The main reason for the switch is that I am primarily using Windows 7 Enterprise at work and I need all of my bookmarks available. In the past I tried using iCloud sync for Windows, but it wasn’t all that good and it doesn’t sync passwords stored in iCloud Keychain. 

Starting with the very basics I am going switch my browser to Firefox and revive my Firefox Sync account. I will use Firefox for both work and personal use, as it is now available on iOS and is a better alternative compared to Google Chrome on iOS. Firefox is PAT certified and will work better and more consistently than using different browsers on different platforms. 

The second is moving off Apple’s Notes application and back to OneNote. Again, OneNote is PAT certified, as there are native apps for each desktop and mobile platform whereas using the browser on Windows to access Notes via iCloud.com was very clunky. OneNote also has a very cool Apple Watch app too!

So, that’s all the changes for now. There’s no need to go overboard and switch everything up on day 1 because I don’t need absolutely everything to work across all platforms. I need just enough conformity to get by on the different platforms I use without compromising the user experience and my day-to-day workflow. 

Google on iOS 

Since my last post I have basically been using all Google developed apps on my iPhone. The experience has been rather pleasant and everything seems to be working really well. 

The only thing I sync natively with iOS are my personal Gmail contacts, but everything else is done via a separate iOS app developed by Google. 

What I really like about this is that the experience between my iPhone 6 and Galaxy Tab 4 is pretty much the same. I even went as far as loading the same wallpaper from the Tab 4 to my iPhone 6, but that’s just because I am dorky like that. 

Of course there are subtle differences with how to navigate the apps due to the difference between iOS and Android, but for the most part it is like using the same device. I have to add though that things look a lot cleaner on the iPhone 6 with regards to the UI. I’ll provide side-by-side screenshots in a different post. 

For now though, here is a look at my current iOS setup:

  
If you would like a copy of the wallpaper, then here you go: