Syncing Nextgen gallery with Flicker and iPad

I used to love Flickr but got tired of their heavy-handedness and a while back decided to bring all of my photos under my own control using the NextGEN Gallery plug-in here on SeriouslyTrivial.com. However, Flickr is somewhat ubiquitous and supported by various things, including AppleTV and some iPad photoframe apps, and I didn’t want to give that up.

At first I tried to manually keep the same photos on SeriouslyTrivial, Flickr and iPad. It didn’t take long for this to become an exercise in futility. If only NextGEN and Flickr could sync to each other… Well, I figured out an automated way to do it by putting my PC in the middle. Basically, the flow is as follows:

NextGEN ==> PC ==> Flickr/iPad

PC Programs

I’m using two PC programs to automate the process: AllwaysSync (free) to automatically do the FTP download and PhotoSync (paid version suggested) to sync with Flickr. Obviously, I’ll use iTunes to sync the photos with the iPad.

When you install PhotoSync, do not sign it into your Flickr account yet.

You don’t have to use AllwaysSync , it just automates the FTP download process. You could download manually or find another program that does the same thing.

Clearing out Flickr

This tutorial assumes your NextGEN gallery is the absolute source. Make sure all photos have been uploaded to NextGEN before proceeding. 

You’ll need to delete all Flickr photos so its totally empty. I deleted all mine by doing the following:

  1. Choose You > Organize
  2. Click Select all. This is at the bottom.
  3. Drag the selected photos to the edit area
  4. Choose Edit photos > Delete and follow the prompts

I suppose, alternatively, you could just create a new Flickr account. I would recommend this just in case something goes wrong.

NOTE: If you want to archive Flickr first, you should be able to use PhotoSync using the Full Synchronization mode. After it syncs and downloads all of the photos, move them out of the photoSync folder. In theory, it should then sync and delete everything in Flickr. Do this at your own risk, however. 

FTP Photos to your PC

As luck would have it, NextGEN puts the photos in folders that use the gallery name. Just what we need! Note that AllwaysSync’s interface is a little odd, but works and is free.

Now to accommodate iTunes, create a folder called iPod Photo Cache in the wp-content/gallery directory on your server (with all the gallery folders). This will be excluded from the FTP download (below) and, thus, prevent any changes from being made on the corresponding PC folder. Do not skip this step if you will be syncing with iTunes.

Here’s how to set up AllwaysSync:

  1. Click the Change link located on the double-headed arrow in the center.
  2. Click the radio button to the left of the double-headed arrow. The arrow should now be pointing to the right. We want everything going from the server to the PC only, not a two-way sync. Also enable the Proprogate deletions options so that photos deleted in NextGEN are also deleted on the PC.
  3. Choose FTP Server from the dropdown menu on the left side.
  4. Click the Configure button
  5. In the Path field, you need to enter the full path to the photo files including the protocol and server name. Something like ftp://<servername>/wp-content/gallery. This may vary depending on your installation of NextGEN.
  6. Complete the login information and click the OK button. (You may have to expand the window to make the OK button visible. It is in the lower-right corner of the panel.)
  7. On the menu go to View > Options. If you want AllwaysSync to start when Windows starts, enable the Start application in system notification area on system start-up option.
  8. Select the job profile you are working on in the left pane. It should be called something like New Job 1. Expand the options by clicking on the + to the left of the name. Then click on Inclusion  and Exclusion filters.
  9. NextGEN adds some files that you do not want. They are stored in thumbs and dynamic subdirectories under each gallery name. So in the Exclusion filters area, click the Add New button. Enter \*\thumbs\*.* in the File Name Filter box. Add three more filters for \*\dynamic\*.*,  \cache\*.*, and \iPod Photo Cache\*.*.  If there are any specific galleries or photos you don’t want synced, add exclusion filters for them as well. Click Ok when done. (NOTE: If you don’t exclude iPod Photo Cache, iTunes will always sync all photos and not just changes!)
  10. If you want to automate the upload, click Automatic Synchronization. Here I have set it to sync once a day.
  11. Click OK when you’re done setting options.
  12. Next, click on the Browse button and navigate to your photoSync folder. You’ll want to browse to get the exact path you need as it will vary depending on your version of Windows. It should be in your Windows Documents folder.
  13. Next, click the Analyze button near the lower-left corner. This will give you some information about what will be downloaded, but won’t actually download anything. Since this is the first time, you should get an See important message warning. (NOTE: You shouldn’t have to use Analyze in the future unless you want to.)
  14. The important message will appear at the top. It should tell you that there is a substantial difference… Just click the Ignore button.
  15. Scan through the list to see if it looks like the files you want will be downloaded.
  16. If everything looks ok, click the Synchronize button. This may take a while depending on how many photos you have.

That’s it! Let the job run once before proceeding.

NOTE: As I precaution, I would temporarily copy the photoSync folder somewhere. Just in case. It may save you from downloading everything all over again if something isn’t set right.

Sync the Photos to Flickr

Sign PhotoSync into your Flickr account. You should start to see it uploading all of your photos to Flickr when everything is set properly. I would recommend you start with Up synchronization only. (Later you can change it to Full Synchronization, if that suits you. The menu is accessed by right-clicking the icon in the system tray and choosing Options.)

Depending on the size of your library, this could take a really long time.

NOTE: With version photoSync Version 1.2.13, I noticed that if you delete a photo, when it syncs, it only removes it from the set. It does not actually delete the photo on Flickr. On the PC, it ends up in photoSync’s not_in_a_set folder. Until this gets fixed, you’ll need to delete them manually using the Manage ‘Not In a Set’ option accessed by right-clicking on PhotoSync’s system tray icon. This seems to only work in Full Synchronization mode for some unknown reason.  :-(

I suggest you upgrade to the paid version (only $5.95) of photoSync which allows you to set a default permission for newly uploaded photos.

Just right-click the system tray icon and choose Default Permissions.

Below I am setting all new uploads to be Public.

Sync the Photos with your iPad

Select your iPad in iTunes. Go to Photos and check the Sync Photos from option. In the pop-up menu to the right, select Choose Folder and navigate to the photoSync folder. Now just sync your iPad.

Well, there you have it. A totally automated way to sync NextGEN to Flickr and and iPad!

Force Google Chrome Bookmark Sync

I suppose that Google doesn’t have a “Force bookmark sync” button because they are worried about the potential strain on their servers. However, I’ve found that sometimes my desktop PC and laptop get out of sync and I really need this feature. I’ve seen some suggest stopping the sync and then re-enabling it, but this is a bit of a pain because you have to re-enter your login info. Fortunately, I’ve found a much more reasonable workaround and here it is:

1. First, open the Chrome Options page, by clicking the little wrench icon in the top-right of the browser window and choosing Options from the drop-down menu.

2. Next, choose Personal Stuff on the left side.

3. In the Sync group of options, click Customize and a new window will appear.

4. On the Data Types tab, change the setting to Choose what to sync and uncheck Bookmarks. Click OK.

5. A Success! message should appear. Click OK to clear.

6. Click Customize again and change the setting back to Keep everything synced. Click OK.

7. Eventually you should see the Success! message again. Congrats! You’ve just forced Chrome to sync your bookmarks!

Cheap iPhone 4 desktop dock for charging and syncing

Sure you can charge and sync your iPhone 4 with the plain ol cable, but I’ve always liked the formalness of a dock. I tracked this one down and although it isn’t designed specifically for the iPhone 4, it works pretty well, *even with the case on*. I got it on iOffer and it’s called the “Apple iPhone dock charger Sync Cradle for 4 4G 3G 3GS“. It’s listed for $6.50, but that excludes shipping. You don’t get the shipping cost until the seller contacts you subsequently. Shipping ended up being $8.00, but $14.50 still seemed pretty cheap overall.

The picture in the listing didn’t show the clear plastic backing and bright blue LED light. There is also a small cap that comes on the end of the USB cable. I superglued it to the top of the clear backing to support the back of the thinner iPhone 4. Amazingly, it’s basically the exact thickness that is needed!

The dock acts just like the iPhone cable, so I can charge and sync my iPhone 4 when it’s in the dock. I’m quite happy with the purchase!