Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

I know, I know, this topic has been covered a billion times before. Everyone has got their own idea of what the perfect multimedia system is. But hear me out, I think you’ll like what I have to say. Since you’re probably in the process of upgrading to Snow Leopard, perhaps now is a good time to reorganize your media.

When we’re done you will have the following:

  • Central iPhoto and iMovie libraries
  • Your central iPhoto library accessible in Front Row
  • All your music, movies and TV shows, organized and accessible directly from your remote control

Have all your media accessible with your remote control.

Have all your media accessible with your remote control.

The requirements

Like all solutions, there are some requirements. However, I would consider these requirements pretty basic. For most gadgeteers out there, these are things you already got in your possession:

  • A Network Attached Storage (eg. Drobo, ReadyNAS, or an old Linux box). Preferably something with some redundancy (RAID1, RAID5, RAID-Z etc.)
  • Two or more Macs with Leopard or later (perhaps a Mac Mini to the TV/Projector and an iMac as a desktop)
  • A lot of media (picture, music, movies, TV shows etc).
  • Sounds too good to be true? Well, it isn’t. Best of all, you won’t have to spend a single dime on software. So what’s the secret? Good ‘ol UNIX symlinks and a software called Plex. That’s it.

    Configuring the NAS

    Since I have no idea what kind of NAS you’ve got (and it doesn’t really matter), all I’ll say is that I recommend that you create the following shares:

    • ‘pictures’ – for the iPhoto library
    • ‘videos’ – for the iMovie library
    • ‘movies’ – for all your movies
    • ‘tvshows’ – for all your TV shows
    • ‘music’ – for all your music

    If your NAS supports AFP, that’s great, but SMB will do just fine too.

Copying the media to the NAS

While I’m not going to cover how you copy your movies, TV shows and music (as I assume you know that), I will however cover how you copy your iPhoto and iMovie libraries.

Start by connecting to your network shares ‘pictures’ and ‘videos’ (or equivalent). You can do that either by browsing to them in Finder, or use Finder’s ‘Connect to server’ feature (available under ‘Go’ -> ‘Connect to server’).

If you’re a power user, skip the next four paragraphs.

Let’s start with the iPhoto library. Open up your home directory and go into the ‘Pictures’ folder. Now copy the ‘iPhoto Library’ folder over to the share ‘pictures’. Depending on the size of your archive and the speed of your network, this can take a while. Once done, rename the folder ‘iPhoto Library’ on your local computer to ‘iPhoto Library.old’ or something similar.

Now, this is the important part. Go over to the ‘picture’ share on the NAS and drag the iPhoto Library back to the local folder while pressing Command and Option. An arrow will show up under the icon you are dragging. Release the mouse button. If the files start to copy, you did not successfully press Command and Option.

We’re now done with iPhoto. You should now be able to fire up iPhoto and it will access the photos directly from the NAS. To do the same for another computer, all you need to do is to rename the local ‘iPhoto Library’ into something else, and create a link as we just did above.

Next up is the iMovie library (if you use it). Start by opening up the two folders (‘videos’ on the NAS and Movies in your home directory). Now copy the ‘iMovie Projects’ from the local Movies folder onto ‘videos’ on the NAS. Next, rename ‘iMovie Projects’ on the local machine to ‘iMovie Projects.old’ and create a link to the NAS (by dragging it from the ‘videos’ folder to the local ‘Movies’ folder with Command and Option held down). Repeat the same thing with the folder ‘iMovie Events’.

For the power-users out there, there is an easier way to do all this. Simply fire up the Terminal and run the following commands:
$ rsync -aP "~/Pictures/iPhoto Library" /Volumes/pictures/
$ mv "~/Pictures/iPhoto Library" "~/Pictures/iPhoto Library.old"
$ ln -s "/Volumes/pictures/iPhoto Library" ~/Pictures/
$ rsync -aP ~/Movies/iMovie* /Volumes/videos/
$ mv "~/Movies/iMovie Events" "~/Movies/iMovie Events.old"
$ mv "~/Movies/iMovie Projects" "~/Movies/iMovie Projects.old"
$ ln -s "/Volumes/videos/iMovie Events" ~/Movies/
$ ln -s "/Volumes/videos/iMovie Projects" ~/Movies/

For additional computers, just run the same commands, but leave out the rsync.

Automounting the shares

While you would imagine this to be very easy on a UNIX based system, it’s surprisingly difficult on Mac OS. Perhaps there is a better way, but this is the most straight-forward solution I’ve found. If you know of a better way of doing this, please let me know!

Finder -> 'Go' -> 'Connect to Server'
From Finder, navigate to the ‘Go’ menu and select ‘Connect to Server’. Once it opens up, you need to enter the address to your NAS (complete with the names of the share). That is, if you NAS is named FOO, enter ‘smb://foo/pictures’ and press the plus icon. Repeat this for the share ‘videos’.

Next we need to open up the folder ‘Library/Favorites’ in your home directory. Within this folder, you will see the two shares you just created in the step above. Leave this Finder window open while you click on ‘Apple’ -> ‘System Preferences’ -> ‘Accounts.’ Then select ‘Login Items.’ Now drag the two shares from Favorites into the list of Login Items.

The Items list after dragging in the two shares.

The Items list after dragging in the two shares.

The two shares will now automatically mount upon login for the current user. As noted above, this is not a great way to automatically mount shares, but as far as I know, this is the most convenient way. Keep in mind that, if you do not automatically mount the shares, you will not be able to access your iPhoto/iMovie library until you’ve manually mounted the shares.

Moving on to the other media

With iPhoto and iMovie moved to the central storage, it’s time to move on to the other media. Luckily this is much easier.

The cornerstone in managing all the remaining media is a software called Plex. If you never heard of it, Plex is basically a Mac OS version of the popular media center solution XBMC for Xbox. In its look and feel, Plex is quite similar to Front Row, but it offers a plethora of features that is missing in Front Row. Not only are you able to watch your Movies and TV Shows, you will also be able to install apps within Plex which allow you to stream media directly from sources such as Hulu and BBC.

Plex ContentAssuming you’ve already downloaded and installed Plex, just launch it and head to ‘Watch your Videos’ -> ‘Add Source’ -> ‘Browse’ -> ‘Windows Network (SMB)’ -> Locate your NAS and select the share ‘movies’ and press ‘OK.’ Now go to ‘Set Content,’ select ‘Movies,’ ‘imdb,’ and then press ‘Select’. Plex will now scan through the folder and all its sub-folders and run it against imdb to try to figure out what it is. If the movies are properly named, Plex will fetch the description of the movie, the cover as well as the full name and year. It will then take all of that data and present them neatly organized under ‘Watch your Movies’

Now repeat the same thing for ‘tvshows’ and ‘music,’ but select the content accordingly.

The whole process is pretty straight forward, but since the Plex Wiki already does a great job of describing this process in greater detail, I will simply recommend that you read more about that there.

There you go, that’s it really. While there is a whole lot of things that can be added to this article, such as iPhoto integration etc., I’ve intentionally left that out to keep the article a bit briefer. You might also wonder why I didn’t move the iTunes library over to the NAS. The reason for this is that I think that it might get corrupted if multiple users access it simultaneously. That’s why I instead suggested that you simply move the music-files itself to the network, and play them directly in Plex.

One obvious expansion of this setup is to include Plex Media Server. Perhaps I will cover that in a ‘Part 2′

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

Let me start by saying how much we appreciate the feedback from you guys. Your feedback is an important element in the way we drive the development of YippieMove.

No more default prefix in YippieMoveThanks to you guys’ feedback, we’ve now decided to remove the default prefix in ‘Step 3′. That is, in the past, when you’ve made a transfer with YippieMove from, let’s say, Yahoo Mail, all the transferred folders would by default end up under a sub-folder on the destination side named ‘yahoo’. However, as many of you guys pointed out, that is not a preference. Instead, a you would rather see a seamless migration (ie. the old Inbox would end up in the destination Inbox).

For those of you who do prefer to still utilize our ‘prefix’ feature, that is still possible. Simply click on the ‘Bulk action’ text below the folders and select ‘Use a name pattern’. A window will now pop up where you can enter your prefix (eg. some-prefix/$SOURCE_NAME$).

Again, let me reiterate how much we value your feedback. If there’s anything you like or do not like about YippieMove, please let us know!

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

When we introduced YippieMove about a year ago, we made it easer then ever before for

ESG Front Page

ESG Front Page

users to move their email between different email providers. That did however assume that you already knew where you wanted to move to. The email hosting space is a jungle with a ton of players offering similar products pitched with confusing marketing lingo and vague payment terms. So how can can you possibly figure which is the best email provider for your exact needs?

You could spend a few days doing research and browse through various pay-for-the-top-spot top-lists. Another, and much more efficient option, is to check out brand new service named Email Service Guide. With this tool you can find the best possible provider based on your criterions. With Email Service Guide, you are able to answer questions like:

  • Who is the cheapest provider that supports IMAP and gives me 8GB in storage per user?
  • What providers offers Exchange hosting with 99.999% or more Service License Agreement (SLA)
  • Where can I find email hosting powered by renewable energy?

At this point, our database features over 100 different email plans from all of the leading email providers on the market. Email Service Guide enables you to not only find the best provider according to your needs, but it also allows you to compare the matches objectively side-by-side.

Remember that, once you have found the best email provider for you needs, don’t forget to use YippieMove to move your old emails with you.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

A few months back we were working with a potential client to do a rather large migration from FirstClass to Google Apps. However, during our pilot we ran into a bug in IMAP. Being a good citizen, we reached out to Open Text Corporation (the company behind First Class) to report the bug. We described the bug and told them how to replicate the bug.

Since we were unable to take on the job due to the bug, we didn’t pay much attention to First Class and assumed that they would fix the bug in the next release.

Last week, we took the time to install a local copy of First Class to see if they had resolved the problem. Unfortunately the bug still remained in the latest version (9.1). Because of that, we thought it might be appropriate to write a brief blog post explaining the bug.

About the bug

The bug is pretty straight forward. It occurs when a message has a subject line that includes one or more quotation marks (“). The problem is not that a quotation mark is an illegal character according to the RFC’s, but rather that FirstClass fails to escape them ( ‘ ” ‘ should be ‘ \” ‘). Because of this, when we issue the FETCH command, it’s impossible to tell where the different different segments of the respond ends.

To put this in a real example, here’s an example of the FETCH response First Class is sending:

212 FETCH (ENVELOPE (“Fri, 30 May 2008 15:11:42 GMT” “Re: Fwd: lorem ipsum “foobar”” ((“Replace Replace” NIL “replacel” “”)) ((“Replace Replace” NIL “replacel” “”)) ((“Replace Replace” NIL “replacel” “”)) ((“Repl Repl” NIL “repla” “”)) ((“Rep Rerpla” NIL “replace” “”)) NIL NIL ““) RFC822.SIZE 5120 INTERNALDATE “30-May-2008 11:11:42 -0400″ FLAGS (\Seen) UID 89423624)

If this was properly formatted, the response should read:

212 FETCH (ENVELOPE (“Fri, 30 May 2008 15:11:42 GMT” “Re: Fwd: lorem ipsum \”foobar\”” ((“Replace Replace” NIL “replacel” “”)) ((“Replace Replace” NIL “replacel” “”)) ((“Replace Replace” NIL “replacel” “”)) ((“Repl Repl” NIL “repla” “”)) ((“Rep Rerpla” NIL “replace” “”)) NIL NIL ““) RFC822.SIZE 5120 INTERNALDATE “30-May-2008 11:11:42 -0400″ FLAGS (\Seen) UID 89423624)

While you might not consider this a very serious but, it really is. FETCH is a very important feature in IMAP and more emails than you’d imagine includes a quotation mark in the subject line. Let’s just hope Open Text Corporation will have this fixed in the next release.

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Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

In the past six years or so, I’ve been arguing that thin clients is the next big thing. About two and a half years ago, I wrote an article named The Future of Mobile Computing, that argued just this. Nobody really believed me back then, claiming that thin clients with and mainframes was something of the past. Today, we are pretty much there. Maybe you didn’t think of it, but a Netbook with a 3G card makes the perfect thin client and the cloud is the new mainframe.

The most solid evidence of this is how Google is investing vast resources on becoming the biggest player in this game. About a week ago, Google introduced Chrome OS, which is basically a stripped Linux distribution with a browser. The very same day, they also announced that they have begun working on their own version of NoMachine’s FreeNX, named Neatx.

So what does this mean? Think about it. A Netbook makes a perfect thin client. It does not consume a whole lot of energy (great battery life) and it is built to be connected to the internet. Hence, it is the perfect candidate for Chrome OS. Now, since all applications cannot run inside a browser, we need something to bridge the gap. That’s where Neatx comes into play. With a FreeNX installed on the Netbook, the machine becomes can connect to a full-scaled desktop where normal applications can live. This server can be either hosted in Google’s cloud or in a private cloud.

This is is huge! Imagine a life where your computer is completely disposable. It’s just a dumb terminal. All your data lives in the cloud. Yet, the most amazing thing is that it is available today, and we are yet to realize it.

Ps. I also wrote a few other article on the topic of thin clients here and here Ds.

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