or I *sync* my Mac Pro and MacBook Pro with Dropbox and Gmail

Cloud enabled local web development? That’s an oxymoron — right? Explain. I prefer to develop/design using MAMP as it’s quicker and doesn’t rely on a sketchy internet connection. While I have a main powerhouse of a Mac Pro under my desk I also use a very capable little MacBook Pro.*

Anyway

I was on the road today – and finally felt the full advantage of getting myself fully into The Cloud.

The main issue? Synchronising my digital self across more than one computer. Storage and email are the main issues…

While according to some Apple’s dot Mac/MobileMe may well be the current cream of cloud subscription services in North America – out here in backwater Europe performance is sh*te. Particularly iDisk. While Apple’s webmail is good – it’s trying too hard to be a desktop application and failing.

For storage I can’t recommend Dropbox enough and for e-mail there’s Gmail

Dropbox

Now I’ve got my Sites folder (and  a few salient folders of Work In Progress) in Amazon’s S3 cloud via Dropbox. The free service is great (2GB) and the paid versions (50/100GB) are not expensive…

  • It’s easy.
  • It’s speedy. One of the technical features of the system is that files are stored as blobs of hashed deltas (wikipedia says it betterer )… popular files are recognized and appear online without having to be transferred – for example some reference books and software libraries that uploaded very smartly.
  • It’s nimble. As the thing works with deltas and blobs it’s also quick to mirror things when you’ve just been making minor edits or rearranging things.
  • 30 days of versioning for all your files – TimeMachine in the Cloud!

Syncing external folders (e.g. ~/Sites ) across multiple machines with Dropbox

Thanks to this post I found the answer…

[NB – your short user name needs to be the same on all your Macs! If not then go here and read part three “The Full Monty”…]

The steps to synchronising your ~/Sites folder (or any folder that you don’t want to move into the Dropbox watched folder ) between two or more Macs are:

  1. temporarily turn off Dropbox on both machines
  2. make your first sync manually between them (use a direct connection – or load up a USB stick/external HD)
  3. create symlinks into your Dropbox folder on both machines. Create the symlink by typing a command into a Terminal window… it goes a little something like this: ln -s  /path/to/folder/name_desired_folder ~/Dropbox/desired-folder
  4. then restart Dropbox on both machines

Now I’m coding on the go with hassle-free syncing and backup. That is nice.

Email

Well I’ve become a Gmail man. It may not be pretty but Gmail has threaded conversations done properly and labels. Took me a while to get used to threaded conversations [takes me a while to get most things!] but now I find them indispensable. Gmail’s generally very good at keeping quoted text out of your face making the threads very readable. Obviously threaded conversations aren’t so useful if people veer off-track or forsake the reply button in favour of the new message. Offline access was not robust in Safari and now it’s not an option as Mac OS 10.6 won’t have it.  So I still use Mail.app as a backup.

Still on MobileMe/dotMac

The missing links… I’m still on Mobile Me and using it for Address Book, Calendar and Keychain synching. [My FTP favourites too thank’s to Panic’s Mobile Me implementation in their FTP app Transmit]. Tied into this is Apple’s iSync application which is keeping my mobiles in step. Until Google’s address book improves drastically I’m not considering a move.

*Not just for the occasional bit Road Warrior stuff but also we do sometimes vacate this town for more than a couple of days plus mains power is also a bit of an issue round here! Sometime I need to use my laptop in the office (I do have a UPS but it doesn’t last very long with the beast.)