All posts tagged 'apple'

Update: Dropbox vs. Wuala

Quite some time passed by since the last article about Dropbox vs. Wuala. Time to write a short update…

And I have to admit that I primarily used Dropbox in the last two years. Why? Because it simply works. Dropbox just sits there in the menu bar of the Mac and as soon as I save a file it is uploaded. Instantly, automatically, fast. A no worries solution – it just works. Sharing with other Dropbox-Users or non-Dropbox users just works. The service became the de-facto industry standard for cloud syncing over the last years. While there are many alternatives out there, Dropbox is supported by most mobile apps. Usually apps sync using iCloud (if on the Apple platform) and Dropbox. So there is no real way around it.

But let’s be fair and download and install the latest version of Wuala again. Knowing that the NSA has access to most data stored in the cloud, it is tempting to move the data to an encrypted cloud in Switzerland (and hope it’s safe there).

Unfortunately I am still not very convinced that Wuala is a good substitute for Dropbox, because of the following reasons:

  • The user interface is made for techies. It is not user friendly at all because it has so many options to choose from. On the other side it makes Wuala way more powerful – there is not only one single folder that is synced but there can be multiple folders which can be synced or backed up., independent from each other.
  • Speed improved – changing a file is now detected within a few seconds and the upload of a changed byte only is very quick as well.
  • While there is now a menu bar icon Wuala still has the application icon in the doc. Would be great to be able to hide it there. While I am complaining about the user interface – on the Mac the Wuala client looks very old fashioned and is not very pleasing to the eye.
  • Referrals unfortunately still expire after some time. So it is not possible to gain reliable space using referrals (like with Dropbox, where referred space never expires).

Overall I think there have been good improvements on the Wuala side, especially the speed improved quite a bit. Maybe I’ll give it another try…

Check out Wuala on your own (if you use this link you get some space for free).

Check out Dropbox on your own (if you use this link you get some space for free).

Apple Maps: No results found

Just check out the screenshot.


This happens quite often since the upgrade to iOS6 – the new maps application does simply not find locations where I know they exist… and have been found before.

While I understand the reason for moving away from Google, this is not very smart, Apple!




New iPhone 5 – public review

Check this out, people on the street do a review of the new iPhone 5:

Technology from the 90ties

To be able to communicate within the #ibmcsc brazil team and with our clients we got prepaid cell phones. LG model “old”. Very old. See historical picture on the right. Typing a message takes forever (you remember T9?), placing a call is really tricky and the menu structure is just confusing.

As iPhone user since day 1 this reminded me of how well Apple did in terms of usability – with a modern smartphone you can look up directions anywhere and right now, it helps with online translations and makes you not think when using it. It’s just more productive, so going back to the 90ies feels really weird.

So why did the CSC program management not invest into cheap Android phones and a data plan for us? Well, somehow I have the feeling they did this on purpose, so we have to ask for directions, have to train our Portuguese and interact more with the locals…. which is great, as I wrote over here.

So let’s not complain, go with the flow and interact in person!

PS: talking about real live – Guilherme from our client has the new LG Optimus 3D, which is not old school and has a 3D camera and a 3D display. AMAZING. It is very impressive to have such a phone in hand and view 3D pictures on the display without any glasses – this is where the future will be!

iPhone 5 – leaked promo video

I can’t wait to have the iPhone 5 in my hands! Apple definitely does it again, simplifying our lifes!

Wuala Backup and Symlinks

Since I compared Dropbox and Wuala I did some further, in-depth investigation how Wuala works and if it really fits my needs. And while I still love the idea of the “Swiss bank” there are some drawbacks that you should be aware of if you want to use Wuala for backup purposes:

  1. Wuala does not backup Symlinks. It simply ignores them. So if you backup on a Linux or OSX System all Symlinks will be gone. I wonder why they do not simply store the original value of the symlink?
  2. Wuala does not store permissions properly. If you restore all permissions are gone.
  3. Wuala does not warn if the backup does not execute for a while. So if you leave it running in the background and there is some issue you won’t notice until it is too late.
  4. Wuala does not seem to use the OS events system but instead searches for changed files “manually”. This makes it slower and uses more resourced than needed (compared to i.e. Dropbox). File system notify tools exist for all platforms (i.e. here) and should be used for performance reasons.
While I could live with #3 and #4 and eventually even with #2, I really dislike the issue #1 – that symlinks are simply ignored. The Dropbox solution (include everything from the symlink) would also not work for a real-world backup… and I really wonder why Wuala says it is a “backup solution” if it cannot handle simple symlinks.

Dropbox vs. Wuala

UPDATE: there is a newer post about Dropbox vs. Wuala

Recently Apple replaced MobileMe with iCloud but they did not include a replacement for iDisk, the “remote disk” part of MobileMe. So it is time to search for something new and to rethink the external backup strategy for offsite backups…. The obvious replacement would be Dropbox, but with the recent security issues they had I was also looking for alternatives. It turned out most alternatives are really not as good as Dropbox, but Wuala got my attention… and so here it is, the Dropbox vs. Wuala comparison….

Supported operating systems and sharing

Both Dropbox and Wuala support OSX, Linux and Windows and are available on a wide range of mobile devices. On Dropbox the data can also be viewed through the Website, Wuala requires the Java plugin to be available (see below for the reason). Both systems allow to share files with other users and send out links to any user, so they can be used for sharing large files.


The Dropbox folder integration

The Dropbox folder integration

SSL is the standard for communicating with the servers, but the major difference between the services is that Wuala encrypts the files locally before sending them to the servers. This means that even Wuala cannot read your data as the password never leaves your system. However the drawback of the increased security is that files cannot be viewed easily through a Web interface and the Java plugin is needed to access the files using a Web browser.

Personally I think the security and privacy model of Wuala is far more advanced than the one of Dropbox, where employees of the provider can access the data (and even specify this right in the terms of use). Wuala feels more like a private, personal safe that no-one has access too, and this picture gets even stronger if you think about the fact that they are located in Switzerland and not in the US.

User interface and ease of use

Dropbox is super-simple and very well integrated into the Finder/Browser of the OS, Wuala on the other hand is very old-school. That is actually the reason why Dropbox is so popular, it is a no-worry solution. There is one folder that syncs, the icons on this folder show the status (uploading/up-to-date) and that’s it. No configuration, no scary dialogs, simple and effective.

Within the Wuala application the user is confused with too much information and it takes a while to get used to it. So there is room for user errors in the Wuala client, but on the other hand it offers more flexibility. For example it allows read-only backups and multiple sync-folders. However – it is more satisfying for tech users who want to control and configure stuff – but it completely misses ease-of-use, that makes applications popular these days.

Performance & Tools integration

The Wuala Application window

The Wuala Application window

Performanc-wise it seems that Dropbox is faster than Wuala, one reason being that they do not transmit the full file but only the changed parts (a feature that Wuala will have pretty soon). To say it with different words: Dropbox is amazingly fast. It just works and syncs super fast. Will be interesting to see how Wuala performs once they enable partial file transfers as well.

Also a plus on the Dropbox side is the integration with other tools. By opening and documenting the API and giving other apps access to the data there are text editors, mobile apps, password managers etc. that all store their data on Dropbox. Wuala (based on its security model) does not offer that kind of integration.

What both services handle very differently (and not very well) are symlinks. While Dropbox uses them to sync folders that are not within the /Dropbox folder (challenging for backups that contain symlinks), Wuala simply ignores symlinks… both not ideal for a backup solution.


The price of Wuala is (at the time of writing this) below the price for Dropbox ($129 vs. $199 for 100GB/year) and Wuala offers more choices and larger packages.

… and the winner is…

When I first started my investigation it seemed that I have two very similar services at hand… and indeed they share a lot of common features. But on a closer look Wuala seems to be more powerful when it comes to backup and syncing multiple folders. If Wuala would rewrite the OSX client to sit in the notification area and have Finder icon overlays like Dropbox I think it would be the perfect choice for keeping my files offsite. I also love the fact that they appear to be like a Swiss bank, with my data being my data, with them and no-one else having any access to it.

However Dropbox is so well integrated into other applications and it is really a “don’t make me think” application, so I need to keep the Dropbox client running for some of those apps (and the free 2GB version is good enough for that)….

UPDATE: there is a newer post about Dropbox vs. Wuala

Check out Wuala on your own (if you use this link you get some space for free).

Check out Dropbox on your own (if you use this link you get some space for free).

iPhone 5: “We want it back” ad

Apple seems to have “lost” another iPhone prototype in a bar… now they want it back – they even produced an advertisement… ;)

Software is not free

A while ago I ranted about “making money in the Appstore” and that EUR 3,- are too much for an application. Most probably the people reviewing those apps never wrote code on their own… that said, there is a great list of 13 reasons why software is not free… and I could not agree more with Brittany… some of my highlights:

  • Software is not easy to create — especially not software that people consider easy to use and attractive. It’s a whole heck of a lot of work, in fact.
  • Good software takes somewhere between months and years to create. It’s not something you just whip up in a night like they show you in the movies.
  • Software is created by hard working people… like you. Do you get paid for your work?
  • People who make software have more to do once your purchase has been made. We are here for you when you run into issues by providing a support team to answer questions, walk you through troubleshooting steps, fix bugs, etc.
  • You pay for your clothes, gadgets, your movie tickets, your lunch, your plane ticket, etc. So why not your software?

    Read the full 13 reasons here and please think about this before you rant about spending money for software…

    World Lens

    Absolutely amazing real-time translation app: World Lens. Just point your phone to some text and it translates for you… in place, right inside the image. Unfortunately only English<->Spanish are available right now, but imagine this with Chinese while being in China. Absolutely fantastic!

    Download from the App Store. Developers Homepage. Via daringfireball.

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