Software

The great migration

catchall

Unfortunately, leaving Hack a Day means a lot of reshuffling online. I had only launched this blog two months before starting there so much of my online identity is tied to HaD. My main email address was a Gmail account eliot.hackaday and my AIM account was similar. I decided to start using this domain as my primary contact. Here is what I had to do and a few of the missteps:
First, I decided I’d use Google Apps on robotskirts.com (you can email me eliot at this domain). I had used Google Apps on Hack a Day; it gives you Gmail, Calendar, and Documents. The only thing that’s missing is Reader… this turned out worse than I thought. You can sign up for a Google Account with any email address (i.e. your domain) and use Reader… but Reader doesn’t have access to your Contacts or Chat which are very important to the new sharing features. I ended up forwarding all of my domain email to my existing first.last Gmail account.

The first thing I did was turn on forwarding for all of Gmail accounts I had (5) plus Gmail on my domain. For the incoming account, I set up filters to label the inbound mail so I knew which account it came from. I also added the accounts so I could respond from the appropriate address if necessary. I already had a number of filters setup on my original account. I used a Gmail Labs tool to export these filters and import them into the new account.

Moving Contacts was easy. The built in export/import maintains all groups (this is important since it syncs to my G1).

Calendar export/import works the same way.

Reader’s OPML export/import also works well. The problem is: Google’s tools for adding friends in Reader are weak when it comes to large operations like this. Who you can potentially share/follow depends on who you email/chat with the most… but this is a new account so you don’t have any Chat contacts. I posted a note in my old Reader account’s shared items with my new Google Account profile in hopes people would follow the new account.

I needed to move my AIM and GTalk buddies. Normally I use Adium on my Mac for aggregating everyone’s IM accounts, but to do the move I had to use iChat. iChat uses a separate list for each account. I logged into both AIM accounts and created matching groups in the new account. I turned off “use offline group” so that the offline contacts would show up in their normal group. I then went through each group selecting all and dragging and dropping to the new robotskirts AIM account. I repeated this process for the new GTalk account.

The reason I wanted Google Apps on my domain was because the email address reinforces who I am. There’s another feature that is a big win though and that’s the “Catch-all address” pictured above. When I sign up for a new web service, I use the web service’s name @robotskirts.com. This makes any inbound email easy to filter based on service and I can tell if someone sold an email address. Everything forwarded to my Gmail account retains the original address even though I read it @gmail instead of @robotskirts.

That previous paragraph is the only reason I use Google Apps on my domain (and all of that email is forwarded to Gmail). What I learned from this move is that using Google services without an @gmail account is a complete pain. You’re better to just forward your email there and use the address virtually than to run Apps on your own domain (also, if you want to connect to Jabber from GTalk on your domain, you have to edit SRV records). Granted, this is only my opinion for personal use. Using Google Apps with a team of people on the same domain goes fairly well. To have a central identity and get the most out of Google, you need @gmail.

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2 thoughts on “The great migration

  1. If you go to iGoogle and sign up for a new account with your Google Apps email and password as the email and password for the new account, everything suddenly magically works with your main email and solves the “complete pain” you complain about above.

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  2. I did sign up with for a new account using my Google Apps email. I was not satisfied since I could log in to Reader using the new Google Account but it knew nothing about chat or sharing even if I could use it for things like analytics.

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