Removing Autobahn from Mac

A quick tip for anyone who upgraded to Mac OS 10.7 (Lion) and somehow has “Autobahn” installed. To remove Autobahn (shown as “com.swarmcast.autobahn” in your console log) and stop the constant popups asking you to install a Java runtime:

  1. Click your user name in the sidebar of a Finder window.
  2. Click “Go” in the top menu while, then press “option” on your keyboard to make “Library” visible. Click “Library”. Verify that you are in username/Library and not harddrivename/Library.
  3. Click the “Application Support” folder.
  4. Click the “Swarmcast” folder.
  5. Double-click the uninstall script.
  6. Popups should stop.

To summarize: the offending program is found in

<em>username</em>/Library/Application Support/Swarmcast

There should be an uninstall script in that folder. Run it to uninstall Autobahn.

 
More information on the now hidden Library –
Dots & Thoughts – OS X Lion : the hidden Library

If you’re getting the CS5ServiceManager java runtime notice see this post –
Dots & Thoughts – Speed up Adobe CS5 apps launch

MAMP and PEAR

I finally added some PEAR packages to my MAMP Pro installation. Theoretically you should be able to use the PEAR installer that comes with MAMP. I’ve used the PEAR installer on other servers, but couldn’t get it to work on the local development environment on my Mac. I’ve found a few posts from MAMP users who recommend using the installer, but if any of those users got it to work on their own systems, they didn’t share the details of how they did it.

Success came by following a manual process similar to that copied from the Neo Geek article below, Setting up MAMP, PEAR, and Headress:

PEAR

Installation
  1. After locating the framework you want on <a href="http://pear.php.net/">pear.php.net</a>, download the latest version

    (or the version you need for testing)

    from the "Download" tab on that framework's main page.
  2. Unzip the downloaded file.
  3. Open the folder that was extracted to find another similarly named folder and a file named package.xml.
  4. Copy just the folder to Applications/MAMP/bin/php5/lib/php/

    . (I copied just the contents of that folder to the HTML folder in my example below.)

Notes on Step 4: 1) If you are using MAMP Pro, you still install your pear packages in the MAMP path shown. 2) There is a PEAR folder in Applications/MAMP/bin/php5/lib/php/ PEAR packages you add manually go in Applications/MAMP/bin/php5/lib/php/ not in Applications/MAMP/bin/php5/lib/php/PEAR/

I didn’t want to change include statements in the scripts I was testing. Instead I created a folder in Applications/MAMP/bin/php5/lib/php/ for the top level package name, HTML in this case, and copied the files in the extracted package folder into the HTML folder. So for HTML_Common there is a file named Common.php in my Applications/MAMP/bin/php5/lib/php/HTML/ folder. If this path structure doesn’t work for you, refer to the error messages PHP is generating to help you figure out where to locate packages.

SuperDuper

SuperDuper by Shirt Pocket Software gets my vote for “killer app”. I think this one, $30 program, is almost reason itself to switch from Windows to Mac. Basically it allows you to make an exact copy of your boot drive on an external USB drive. Yes, you can really boot from it. Just start up your Mac with your SuperDuper backup plugged in, and press option when you hear the start-up chime. Then you get a screen asking which drive to boot from and choose the backup. See it really works! Your Mac is running from your backup. You can work on it just like your regular system and you can still see and manipulate files on your internal drive, assuming it isn’t dead.

Suppose you have a system problem, not a drive problem, as I did yesterday morning…my Mac would not boot to ANY drive? Find a friend with a Mac, plug in your backup and boot to YOUR drive as above. Part of what makes this possible is Mac OS. Depending on the age difference between your Mac and your friend’s this might not work, but there are lots and lots of Macs out there that are close enough. In my case, the drive from my laptop booted my friend’s desktop. For starters the two machines have different processors and video cards. On Windows, no way.

You used to be able to do something similar on DOS and Windows, but since Windows 2000 or so, the Windows installation has been tied to hardware and you cannot even boot the system from an exact copy of the drive, unless the drives themselves are identical products from the same manufacturer. Even that isn’t guaranteed. When I discovered this problem with Windows, it meant that all my system backups were basically just data backups and didn’t help me with recovery, i.e. reinstalling Windows and all applications. I started keeping a second machine with identical applications and data synced to my main machine nightly. So in the case of catastrophic failure, which seems to inevitably happen in computerland, I had a system to work on immediately. It is true if you don’t have a spare Mac sitting around you can’t get to work quite that fast, but with a SuperDuper backup you are way closer than you are with a Windows install DVD, a data backup, and a pile of application installation CDs.

That is why I say SuperDuper is a “killer app”. For a fraction of the cost of a second machine, and infinitely greater portability; think 4-3/4″ x 3″ x 1/2″ pocket drive, I have nearly equivalent protection. That is not to say SuperDuper or a second machine protect your system 100%. Neither will help if your main system and backup are stolen or are in a single location that gets hit by flood or fire or lightning, or if you reproduce a virus or system error on both your primary and backup. But either is a big step in the right direction.

Goodbye Things, Hello OmniFocus

Is this indicative of something? I had a task in Things to blog about that app for many months before I downloaded OmniFocus and made my first post about Getting Things Done (GTD). I entered a task in Things and OmniFocus on November 3, to write a follow-up and here it is. I wish it meant I was going to be a lot more productive using OmniFocus. Probably it just means I’ve had a more time to blog since I’ve been home, but OmniFocus may be contributing a little too.

I do seem to be more focused and organized since I started using OmniFocus. It’s easier for me to switch between projects so I can make progress on several each day. As far as my blog, it is quicker for me to locate a blog post and make a note about it than it was with Things. That is true of other projects and tasks too, for a few reasons: 1) Perspectives. My “blog” perspective shows all the ideas for blog posts with one click or key combination. The other perspectives I use daily are “Today”, “Due Next,” and “Review”. 2) The organizational structure of OmniFocus, with folders, projects, and single item lists all integrated into one outline, is far easier for me to comprehend and navigate than Things separate Projects and Areas. 3) Tasks don’t get hidden in OmniFocus when you incubate something with either inactive folders or “on hold” contexts, like they do with Things “Scheduled”.

Which reminds me, the “Scheduled” feature in Things was one of my favorites, and something I thought I couldn’t live without. OmniFocus doesn’t have an analogous feature that I am aware of, and I don’t miss it one bit. It is SO much easier to organize, review and hide items I am not currently working on in OmniFocus, I don’t need the Scheduled feature…..and I don’t waste time constantly managing it.

What I love about OmniFocus: 1) I have my quick entry preferences set so I can enter multiple items. 2) I set up clean-up options so tasks automatically are filed in the correct project instead of stopping in the Inbox. That is a big time saver for me. (See this forum post for instructions.) 3) As I’m tabbing along entering a task’s info I can enter shorthand for start and due dates, like “Mon”, or “next friday”, “two weeks”, “+3 days”. (BTW, you can use date shorthand in Things.) 4) The folder structure works so much better for me I have to mention it again. Since my OmniFocus projects are organized within my OmniFocus folders choosing a project automatically puts the task in the right “Area”. This is how you would expect it to work, but Areas and Projects just don’t work this way in the current incarnation of Things. As I wrote in my first post, that is one aspect of Things that frustrated me from day one. 5) I no longer click an item to open its note. I just press command – ‘. And that is what makes OmniFocus work so much better for me than Things. I don’t use the mouse very much….and as great invention as mice are, they result in a measurable loss in productivity as compared to keeping your hands on the keyboard. Of course, I wouldn’t feel quite so in love with my keyboard without Colmak. 6) My fear of missing something in Things is eliminated by OmniFocus’s Perspectives->All Items. My “Review” Perspective is a modified version of “All Items” I spend 5-15 min every morning reviewing it and the “Due Next” Perspective, and flagging items for “Today”.

OmniFocus Archive!! So I was thinking, this file is going to be huge with all my completed items hanging around, and I took a glance at the OmniFocus menu for something like “delete old items.” What I found instead was “Move Old Data to Archive”. OmniFocus actually creates an archive of old stuff and gets it out of your working file. Did the developers think of everything or what? (Note: while this is a cool feature, I haven’t used it yet. I started using a “dropped” project folder for inactive projects. I don’t want these archived so I’m hoping for an option to exclude “dropped” items from being archived.)

With Things it is often difficult to reorganize tasks. For example, if you want to move tasks from one Scheduled project to another Scheduled Project. The only way I found was to move the destination project out of Scheduled. Move the tasks. Then reschedule. I have not found any similar restrictions to moving tasks in OmniFocus.

OmniFocus has a number of export options which is nice, and a feature missing from the beta version of Things. When I needed to transfer items to a colleague using Things I just punted and printed a hardcopy. It would have been more convenient to send an e-mail, especially if she had not been standing in the same room.

OmniFocus printing is a bit of a disappointment to me, but many users may like it. It prints whatever is in your current view, which is very similar to printing with Things. I would like a print option, not tied to views that printed all tasks, or all tasks in a project, or context. That said it is trivial to set up the view you want and print it.

I am trying to think of one feature I like better in Things than OmniFocus. I do like the Today view. But I don’t miss it because it was simple to set up a similar OmniFocus Perspective with instructions from the YouTube videos Mike mentioned in his comment to my previous post about OmniFocus and Things. (The YouTube “Do Today List” videos, Part 1 and Part 2.)

Syncing: neither has exactly what I want. I like the iCal syncing options better in Things, but either work for me. I just sync to iCal so I can get my offline and shopping items on my Blackberry using MissingSync.

The Things “trash can” is nice. A little insurance against an accidentally pressed delete key when you don’t know what was selected. With OmniFocus I use “Undo” in that situation.

In some ways. Things seems cooler, more popular. Then again I have never been one to make decisions based on what the cool people are doing.

If you decide OmniFocus has too many features you can export to a Taskpaper file and give it a try. I tried it out for fun, and to see how Taskpaper would look with all my stuff in it. Not all my tasks transferred over correctly. It’s possible that I mistakenly exported only a subset of my tasks.

So the verdict, as you have already guessed, is OmniFocus. Yeah, it is $80, but I think it will more than pay for itself in a few weeks because of the time I save during task entry and not having to reorganize my next actions or “Today” list several days a week. I actually was pretty sure after a few hours and had made up my mind and stopped using Things after 5 days of the OmniFocus trial, but I couldn’t have come to a decision so quickly if I was not already familiar with Things.

Given my preference for OmniFocus, my final recommendation my be surprising. I don’t think a 15-day trial is long enough for most people to evaluate OmniFocus, especially if you are just getting started with GTD. At least while Things has such a generous trial policy, it may be better to try Things first and if doesn’t quite feel right give OmniFocus a try. Things is planned to be priced at $49; $39 if you sign up for the newsletter during the beta period. (OmniGroup also has a Trial License request form. You may be able to extend an OmniFocus trial a few days with that.)

So thanks to CulturedCode for their generous trial/beta period for Things. And thanks to OmniGroup for a GTD app that is more comfortable for my workflow.