Parental Omniscience for only $24.95

by Barrett

This is Doggie, my son’s favorite lovey. Doggie is with my old Canon Elph 960 (yes that’s scotch tape holding it together) and its Eye-Fi card, which wirelessly uploads photos of my son to my iPhone. Recently, my boy’s photo stream stopped flowing. Doggie was sad. He asked Dada for help.

I know what it feels like to be Thor and cast out.
I had everything just the way I liked it, and I was happily ruling my own universe.

By that I mean I’d been using the magic of the Eye-Fi wireless memory card for the past two years to open up a personal portal into my son’s daily adventures.  While I was away at work.

Allow me to explain.

Eye-Fi Magic
The Eye-Fi card is a wireless memory card you put in your camera, just like any other card. The difference is Eye-Fi also has Wi-Fi built into it.
(That makes it twice as expensive.)

But for the price, you get the power of the Cloud. After you take a picture, your camera doesn’t need to be tethered to your computer to upload. Instead, Eye-Fi immediately sends your photos to your computer’s hard drive and the Web wirelessly and effortlessly.

So after a fun photo session of my son sucking down applesauce, my camera’s battery provides the 4 gig Eye-Fi card the power to chat with my MobileMe online photo gallery I created with iPhoto. Apple also has a great app called Gallery, which perfectly displays all of my son’s photos on my iPhone.

I could see all…
It was a beautiful thing.

And the piece de resistance?
My Eye-Fi account would then email or text me whenever new photos had been uploaded.

Say I was away at a boring meeting, wondering what my little boy was up to.
I’d hear the text ping go off, whip out my iPhone, and show my colleagues photos of my son’s latest milestone taken minutes earlier. Pretty cool!

This trick did wear out its public welcome, but it has been invaluable for me.
It seemed like magic two years ago, but with everything going Cloud based these days, it’s just another mortal tool to make your digital life a little easier.

Dark Clouds
But one day, a storm approached.
And I was cast out. I looked up, and I saw iCloud everywhere.
I would need to learn the ways of mere mortals.

We know MobileMe’s days are numbered.
But I think Apple has already begun pulling the plug.
A couple of months back, my Gallery app started crashing.
And then it never opened again.

Coincidence? I think not.
I needed to find a replacement and fast!

Join the Party
I have to admit; I’m a little phobic about putting unfiltered photos up on giant social websites like Facebook. (even if they are posted as private)
I’ve enjoyed the cozy feeling of presumed privacy with my obscure MobileMe photo albums. Being a part of the huge digital social universe feels a wee visible for my boy’s little photo stream.

This is not to be confused with Apple’s Photo Stream service. I’ll soon press the button to join with iCloud, but I’m not sure Apple’s Photo Stream will be a total replacement for the distribution of my son’s pics either. Remember I’ve got a very targeted way I want these particular photos organized and remotely served up to me and my wife.

You know, I don’t think I’ve really got a choice.
Either I play in the pond with the millions of other online photo sharers.
Or I will just see my son the old fashion way… in person.

So I decided it was time to join the party and hope that only my wife and I would show up.

I did some research and of course there are a crushing number of online photo sharing options. After some fact crunching, I came up with two leading contenders: SmugMug and Flickr.

I know SmugMug has a loyal fan base, and this service been around for a while.
(I’m always happy to let someone else kick the tires.)
The annual membership is $40.
And there’s the Smugview iPhone app for $2.99. All good.
I was 30 seconds away from pulling the trigger, but then I remembered I already had my toe in the digital water with Flickr.

D’uh! Flickr!!
You might feel this is the obvious choice. And I guess it is. I just needed to go through the exercise. I already have my Flickr account replacing my former MobileMe photo-sharing activity with family and friends. And I’ve upgraded to the annual $24.95 Flickr Pro subscription to better handle photos above the 200-picture limit in their basic (free) account.

Flickr also has its free iPhone app. And I know I can create private Flickr albums.
Let’s do it!
So I got to work.

  • On my iMac, I directed Eye-Fi to upload to Flickr with my normal user login info.
  • Downloaded the Flickr iPhone app. Signed in the exact same way.
  • Tweaked the settings to uber private.
  • Took a test picture of my wife reading Goodnight Moon to our son.
  • Opened up the Flickr app on my iPhone a minute later.

BAM! There it was!
And the email announcing the upload showed up a few minutes after that.

(Quite easily done)

The uploaded photos are organized into new Flickr albums (sets) each day.
Eye-Fi also simultaneously sends the pics to iPhoto for archiving.
(The only complaint I have is Eye-Fi doesn’t connect directly to Aperture, my preferred photo management/editing program.)

Back in Business
So there you have it. I’m omniscient again, knowing the business of my lad’s daily adventures while I’m off storming the castle during the week.

Flickr has done the job. Yahoo!

That said, if any of you have other solutions you’d like to share, I’m all ears.
I’m only $25 in. I could be convinced to try the next best thing…