Vimeo or YouTube to replace the MobileMe gallery?

Less than a week left in my quest to find alternatives to MobileMe that cost less than Apple’s £59 annual fee. I have quite a few home movies on my web gallery and will need a new home for them. The obvious choice is YouTube. It’s free, you can upload directly from iMovie ’08 and virtually everyone’s aware of it (maybe even my computer-phobic in-laws!).

I love YouTube. You can find just about anything there. My husband and I watched Obama and McCain’s speeches on it on our Apple TV last night. I’ve watched videos on swimming technique. My husband watches rugby highlights and archery technique videos. The children like that baby that laughs and OK Go on the treadmills.

But I also have a concern regarding YouTube – the less than savoury content that appears. I always feel I have to be very careful if I’m looking for something while the children are in the room. Too often the comments people have added or the recommended videos aren’t suitable for little eyes.

So I thought I’d take a look at Vimeo. I have watched a number of videos on it over the last few months and I’ve been impressed with the simplicity of the interface. YouTube is a mess in comparison. You can also upload HD video. Not that I have an HD camcorder, but I might one day. Vimeo also has a friendlier feel than YouTube – the comments are more sensible. There’s more of a community feel.

I spent most of this morning uploading the same home movies to YouTube and Vimeo to see how they compared. It’s easier to get movies into YouTube as it can be done from within iMovie. Not that Vimeo was difficult. I already have all my videos shared with iTunes so looked for the medium size version in Movies>iMovie Sharing>iTunes via the Vimeo uploader. There’s a huge difference between the two when it comes to watching videos. The quality on YouTube is awful, even when viewed at higher quality. The quality on Vimeo is much the same as on iTunes and MobileMe.

So this has been a quick and easy decision. It’s Vimeo for me. I can upload up to 500MB a month for free. (There’s a pro account for $60 a year should I need more but I doubt I will – unless I go HD in the future.) It’s easy to use and looks good. An excellent replacement for MobileMe.

If you fancy a look at the movies I’ve uploaded so far, they’re here.

Flickr as an alternative to the MobileMe gallery

 

I now have one week left on my MobileMe subscription. £59 is a lot to pay when there are free (or cheaper) alternatives. I’ve spent the couple of weeks looking for a photo sharing service that could replace the web gallery. I decided to try out Flickr as I already had a pro account (usually $25 but I get it for free with my ISP, BT).

I have been using the MobileMe gallery as a means for family and friends to easily see my photos rather than me having to print them out and post them. (This of course assumes they have internet access and know how to use a computer. Not quite there with my in-laws yet but we’re working on them!) Flickr, of course, can do far more than just share photos with distant family. It is a social network where you search for photos, send comments, join groups, all sorts.

MobileMe’s web gallery allows you to upload as many photos as you like (well, up to a 20GB limit also shared amongst its other webapps). Flickr’s free account lets gives you 100MB of uploads per month but unlimited total storage. However, you’ll only be able to see your 200 most recent photos. The pro account allows unlimited uploads and storage with access to all your photos.

It’s really simple to get photos into the web gallery – it’s all done through iPhoto. Create an album, click the MobileMe button and Bob’s your uncle. The titles and metadata are also uploaded. Each time you make a change to the album in iPhoto it automatically syncs it again so MobileMe always up to date. It’s really incredibly easy.

To get your pictures into Flickr you need to download the free Flickr Uploadr and drag in your photos from iPhoto. Like the web gallery, your titles and metadata are also uploaded. You are given the option to change the titles and assign tags to your photos if you wish. Unfortunately it doesn’t use the keywords you have already used in iPhoto. You can also choose to put your photos into a set (or album) or collection (a group of albums). (I should point out here the free account only allows you 3 sets whereas the pro account is unlimited.) Read the rest of this entry »

Gmail as a replacement for MobileMe Mail

There are three weeks to go until my MobileMe subscription is due for renewal. The service isn’t cheap at £59 so I thought I would look into possible free (and maybe even superior) replacements.

The only feature of MobileMe that I use on a daily basis is email. It has worked almost flawlessly for me and I love the way it integrates seamlessly with my Mac and iPhone. Deleting or moving an email on one it is almost immediately mirrored on the other.

I have had a Gmail address (or Google Mail as it has be called in Britain) for quite a while but have almost never used it. There didn’t seem much point when the MobileMe mail worked so well but I thought maybe now was the time to give it a try.

I spent hours (make that days) trying to get Gmail properly set up with my iPhone and with Apple Mail on my Mac. There were two reasons I had difficulties (and both were down to my own ignorance). The first is that I need IMAP Gmail for syncing between the server and my Mac and iPhone. Unfortunately Apple Mail sets up a POP account by default. Handy hint: Follow the directions on this Gmail help page – had I read this in the first place I probably could have saved myself an hour!

I then went on to set up my mailboxes as directed by this Gmail help page. And this is where I ran into my second problem. What was this “All Mail” folder? Why were my emails duplicated – one in the inbox, one in All Mail? Where were my deleted emails going to? Not the trash, that was for sure. After a day of tearing my hair out, moaning and fiddling with settings I finally looked at the Gmail help pages and all was revealed. All Mail is just a smart folder. The emails aren’t duplicated at all. (Why I didn’t read the help pages first I don’t know. I usually love instruction manuals. I won’t touch a new gadget until I’ve read at least half the manual.)

I have always downloaded all my MobileMe mail and stored it on my hard drive rather than leaving it on the server. With Gmail, the emphasis is much more on retaining all your mail on the server. You are given so much storage (currently over 7GB) that there is no need to delete an email. Just archive them all and they’ll still be there, in All Mail, should you ever need to refer to them again. Well, there has been much humming and hawing over whether I should carry on as I have been or should I embrace the cloud. I could potentially free up a fair bit of hard disk space by keeping all my email on Gmail’s server and just use Apple Mail as a more attractive interface. But I’m still not sure how comfortable I am with cloud computing. What if my internet was down? What if Gmail was down? After three days of pondering on this (with useful input from family and Twitter pals) and trying a multitude of different setups, I have finally decided to continue to download email to my hard drive for storage. I just feel more comfortable that way.

Advanced IMAP controls (in Google Mail Labs) has been very useful. It allows you to select which Gmail labels you don’t want to appear as folders in Apple Mail. So now I no longer have All Mail and Spam in my Mail sidebar. (Thank goodness. I didn’t much care to see how many spam emails I had building up.) I also mapped Sent Mail, Drafts and Bin to their corresponding folders in Mail. (Select the Gmail label in the Mail sidebar, click Mailbox (in the menu bar at the top), click Use This Mailbox For and pick the appropriate mailbox.) This makes everything look nice and tidy.

Now that everything is up and running properly I’m very pleased with Gmail and, assuming everything runs smoothly over the next three weeks, it is more than capable of replacing MobileMe Mail.

It’s time to re-evaluate MobileMe

Firstly I must apologise for the paucity of posts. I have been somewhat lacking in inspiration recently. I have now however found a topic I would like to write about. MobileMe.

I became a .Mac subscriber last year shortly after the release of iLife ’08. I was really impressed by the integration of iPhoto and iMovie with the Web Gallery. It looked like an easy (and attractive) way to keep friends and family up to date with photos and movies of the children. The syncing of Safari bookmarks between our two Macs looked useful. The IMAP email was also a draw. At the time I was using Yahoo POP email and was perfectly happy with it. However, I was planning on buying an iPhone 3 months later on the UK release and IMAP email was preferable to keep both my Mac and iPhone in sync. I felt the £65 cost was rather steep but decided I would give it a go.

There have been a few changes to the service over the last 15 months. .Mac has become MobileMe. I can sync my iPhone’s bookmarks, calendar and contacts automatically over the air. Email is instantly updated. There have been other changes too (such as increased iDisk storage space) but these have been of little value to me.

In 3 weeks my subscription is due for renewal and it is time to re-evaluate MobileMe. The fee has gone down to £59 but am I making enough use of the service to justify the cost? Flickr, YouTube, Dropbox and Gmail could replace a number of MobileMe features for me without spending a penny. I thought it would be helpful for myself (and hopefully others) to document my investigations into possible MobileMe alternatives. Next post: Gmail…

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