Is It Forever? Or Panstoria? I’m Confused.

The answer is yes, and yes, and so am I.  Although it is starting to get more clear.

Before I go any further, I want to try to clarify something, if I can.  Forever purchased Panstoria about a year ago. The two companies have been operating distinctly for the past year, but that's really beginning to change, as you may have noticed.  Currently, there are actually three different entities all operating under the Forever umbrella – Panstoria (the digital store with Artisan, Historian and the digital content), the Panstoria Print Shop (where the Artisan projects are printed), and Forever, which up until now has offered mostly permanent, guaranteed digital photo storage and conversion services.

There's a plan in the works at Forever to meld the three entities into one unified site at Forever, eventually.  But it will take some time.  Right now, you can rest assured that whatever the name that shows up, the same people at Panstoria are still servicing our Artisan and Historian software. Some of the new features to Artisan 5 are awesome, and if you haven't noticed, even Historian now has some capability to make page prints that you can print directly at the Print Shop.

So, What Does Forever Offer?

When the announcement was first made that Forever had purchased Panstoria, I looked into it a bit, and then set it aside.  I didn't see the connection yet.

Fast forward a year, and the digital world has changed enough that I do SEE it now.  Forever's flagship service is permanent photo storage.  As they tell it, it's a bit like a storage unit.  But instead of renting your space on a month to month basis (which you could potentially lose if the rates go up or your can't pay one month), you buy your permanent photo storage.  Once it's paid for, the funds are kept in a trust to ensure that the storage not only stays available to you, but that the servers and even the digital format of your photos are updated for your lifetime plus 100 years so you will still be able to access your photos and use them “Forever.”

foreverI have purchased some Forever digital storage myself, and it has already given me some peace of mind.  I'm actually the keeper of all 454 photos from husband's parents and his growing up years.  Those were the first photos I uploaded to my account, because it would be nearly impossibly now to collect most of them again.

Once you have some photos uploaded to Forever, you can sort them into albums, tag them and search by date.  The price for lifetime safety may seem a little steep, but let's take a look at that.

  • For $349 you purchase 10Gb of permanent storage with the Saver package.
  • That guarantees your photo files are safe for your lifetime plus 100 years.
  • Let's just do the math with your lifetime.   I'm 42 currently, and if I live for 35 more years (I hope)

$349 divided by 35 = $9.97 per year

Hmmm … I'm pretty sure I have paid more than that for magazine subscriptions I never look at.

Ok, let's be realistic.  I do have more than 10Gb worth of photos.  However, not every photo on my hard drive needs to be kept Forever.  I'll probably upgrade to a larger service package in the future.  But to put it in perspective, I pay $99 a year for 100 Gb of online backup, and it won't even allow me to sync my memory vaults.  (I have an alternate way to do that, which I'll tell you about in another post.)

If I upgraded to 100 Gb of storage with Forever, that would be a $999 one-time payment.  Over the same 35 year period we used above, that would be:

$999 divided by 35 = $28.54 per year

For the 100 Gb of storage space I currently “rent” for backup, that would be:

$99 times 35 = $3,465.00

Yeah, I'm totally dropping the rented online storage.  :0)

What Else Can You Do With Forever?

In addition to permanent photo storage, Forever offers conversion packages and has also now added Forever Projects.  This is essentially like many of your other photo project sites where you have the ability to use your uploaded photos to create photo books, calendars and other photo gifts. They offer different template options, but the experience is not (yet) as robust as using something like Artisan. That's asking more than what most web-based software will manage.

You can view all of what Forever currently offers through my special link here:

So, the choice is really up to you.  I don't know what the entire transition plan will look like, but currently there is still a lot more creative control using Artisan and Historian for digital projects and organization.  But as our lives continue to shift towards the cloud and away from complex software applications, who knows?

One thing I do know: I'm here to help you with Artisan and Historian for the duration.  Please keep the questions coming!

Until the next time, Enjoy!

~ Deb

The Results Are In

IMG_2313 In a follow up to my last post about my experiment printing my most recent photobook with Mixbook, here are my results.

First of all, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me tell you.  I am an affiliate for Mixbook, just like I'm an affiliate for Panstoria and the Panstoria Print Shop.  That means that when someone orders through my link, it doesn't cost them anything extra, but I get a commission from Mixbook or Panstoria as a thank you for the referral.  These little commissions are what help me keep this site going.

Let me also explain this: I don't recommend these things here until I've tried them or plan to try them myself.  It's just not worth it for me to recommend something to you that you won't be happy with.  There are a few other photobook printers that I am also affiliated with, but you haven't heard about them here because I don't have experience with them yet.IMG_2316

With that said, I have received my Mixbook photobook, and I really like it.  The color turned out just the way I created it, and the print quality is great.  I got the standard binding, which seems tight and just as good as the other storybooks I had printed previously.  Of course, I haven't run extensive tests on the binding.

I do have a few other “tests” planned for this year, but right now it's on to creating my family calendar.

IMG_2321You've heard me mention that I create one at Christmas time for my in-laws, but somehow, my personal family calendar runs April to March, so it's just about done.  That's the fun thing about this … you can start with any month you want.  (As far as I know, you can't yet add more than the traditional 12 pages.)

Hope you're having a great time with your photos!  Until the next time, Enjoy!

~ Deb

Moving to Historian and Artisan

This has been quite a week for me.  About four days ago, on Saturday evening, my laptop gave me a memory failure warning when I shut it down.  That's never a comforting sign.

On Sunday, I booted it backup again, but every operation I attempted was like wading through quick-set concrete. I'll spare you the details, but the end result was my decision to reinstall my operating system.

After 48 hours of tedious updates and installations, I love the “new-ness” of having a cleaned up machine.  (Yes, I do realize that this is just a bandaid … the hardware is going to fail again.)  However, with all of my backups, Roboform to remember all of my passwords (love that service), and Chrome acting like nothing happened, there was just one glitch. When I reinstalled Memory Manager and tried to activate it, I realized that I cannot activate it anymore.


That's the one thing that I didn't think through before I took the leap.  In retrospect, it wouldn't have mattered, because my computer was unusable before the reinstall anyway.

The good news is, Artisan and Historian aren't nearly the hit to the wallet that Storybook Creator and Memory Manager were.  In fact, I got into both programs for just a little more than I would have spent initially purchasing just one of them before.

I started out downloading Historian because I had already restored my main memory vault from my File History (a great backup feature available in Windows 8).  The installation went smoothly, it activated quickly, and I opened my memory vault with no problems.  Other than the new logo/look, this is the same program and works just like Memory Manager.

Next, I downloaded and installed Artisan.  Since I hadn't reinstalled Storybook Creator on my cleaned up machine, it didn't recognize that I was a Creative Memories user.  That's ok, though.  It's still the same program I had before, and it's capable of using all of the Creative Memories' digital content I had.  It took me a little while to restore all of my packages, but they are now all happily recognized in the content manager and we're ready to get back to work.

The good news through all of this is that I hopefully learned something the hard way before you have to. If you're contemplating upgrading your computer, keep in mind that you won't be able to reactivate your Creative Memories software anymore. However, your projects and your memory vaults aren't affected by that.  They will still remain usable or readable by Artisan and Historian. Keep them backed up and safe, and your work will survive the transition.

Until the next time, Enjoy!

~ Deb


Quick Calendar Adjustments To Use Your Existing Content

I know I've posted about the cool calendar functions in Storybook Creator before, but now that we don't have updated content from CM available, we have to be a little more proactive.

There are two pieces of good news:

  1. Panstoria has a free blank 2014 calendar template that you can download and use in Storybook Creator.  (Make sure that you update Storybook so that it “talks” nicely with Panstoria's servers.)
  2. You have some sweet functionality in Storybook Creator that will allow you to modify the calendar blocks on any calendar templates you may already have, so it doesn't matter what year they are set for.

If you are ready to get to work on some calendar Christmas presents (like I am), check out the quick video below to see how you can do it.

I will update this with the screenshots and how-to soon, but didn't want to wait to get it posted.  Hope you have fun with it … this has been one of the most fun features of Storybook Creator.  Love it!

~ Deb

Want To See Artisan?

I know many of you are curious like I am about what differences, if any, there will be between Storybook Creator and Artisan.  So, I decided to take a look for myself.

Panstoria offers free trial downloads of their software.  You can't export or print projects from the free trial, but otherwise it's completely functional software.

The first thing you'll see when you install Artisan, is that it looks just like Storybook Creator.  On first opening it after installation, I got a dialog box.  Artisan recognized that I have Storybook Creator installed on my computer, and asked if I want to migrate my art kits, projects and settings.

Artisan - First Time

Since I am not ready to leave Storybook Creator yet, I chose “Migrate later” and moved forward.  But it's nice to know that when I make the change, it'll import all of the work I've done on tagging content as well as the Categories I've set up.

From this point on, it's all very similar to Storybook Creator.  It asks if you want to start in Basic or Advanced mode, and then asks if you want to create a new project or open an existing one.  Since I didn't import all of my content and projects into Artisan, I opted to create a new one.

Artisan - New Project

Since I'm looking for something simple, I chose an ornament.  I've never created one of those before.

The rest of the process is similar to any new project.  It will let you pick the content templates you want to use (if applicable) and then ask if you want to add photos.  I just chose one photo of my kids that I had on my computer and added it to the project.

Artisan - Ornament Project

Drag, drop, trim … it was that simple.  I think I just created my first project in Artisan!

I think it's going to be fun getting ready for Christmas this year … Until the next time, Enjoy!

~ Deb

Installing the Update to Storybook Creator 4 from Panstoria

You've heard about this for weeks now, and if you've opened Storybook Creator, you've probably been prompted to update. This is important to do, because it will allow you to create projects to be printed at the Panstoria Print Shop, which offers some fun new items. (You can get an idea about what's offered in my post A First Glance at the Panstoria Print Shop.)

If you've already done it, great! You're all set.

If you haven't done it yet, here's a quick video to walk you through the process.