Goodbye VoodooPad

vp I’ve used VoodooPad for years, probably since 2006. “You put your brain in it” is the slogan on the webpage and so I did. My vp file is 48mb with only tiny images, no pdfs. It’s all text. And I loved it. I love wikis and the flexibility they have. But two days ago I hit a problem.

I opened the file and a couple of seconds later it crashed and quit. Fully uninstalled VP, reinstalled, tried again – same result. Sent an email to Plausible Labs support along with what I had tried and the full crash log and their first solution did not work. Got an email this morning saying it would be escalated. Given there is work in there I want to access I thought I’d try various things to see what would work.

Right-clicked the app, ‘Show Package Contents’ and tried removing various folders while reopening VP to see when the crashing stopped. Turns out that /Pages/0 holds the crash culprit and with that removed I can now access everything else. Thing is though I have no idea what was in /Pages/0. Apart from .plist files all my data is in a format I cannot decipher.

One page in VP was encrypted by me. The rest were normal and could be seen when the app opened. But I have no clue how to find out what I removed in that folder and I certainly can’t remember. So this shows me that as much as I love VP I can’t now use it. It was sold by it’s creator so Support is by the purchaser and creators always know more. The fact that I’ve lost information with no way to recover is annoying.

together I will transfer everything I can now see in VP into Together and then uninstall VP. I have used Together for years too for keeping track of pdfs, some images and various other files. It’s a solid app which is still being enhanced and with good support. I just need to get used to writing in it. And unless I encrypt everything is stored normally so even if it did crash I can still access everything.

RSS. Out: Fever In: Newsblur

I did use Google Reader. But that went soon after I decided to get away from their clutches. After some experimenting with various readers I started using fever.
I never really liked it’s use of screen space which was very poor but it was all I could find. I tolerated it. Then recently I realised it wasn’t being updated. It seems like it has scratched the dev’s initial itch and he is happy with where it is. That’s fine, I’ve had my $30 use out of it but I needed more from a reader. So I looked around again.

Newsblur. Loaded my feeds into that and the same day bought the Premium service. It is excellent. It integrates with Instapaper, it has sharing, choice of story view, good shortcuts, great use of screen space and more. Using Newsblur even for just a week has made reading much more pleasant. And of course as Fever is not now running on the server that keeps my host happier.

Definite recommendation from me for Newsblur

Edit the dot

I needed a program for a specific task – like you do – and found one with a trial so opted for that. Took me a few clicks and errors before I worked it out and liked it and then I’d run out of changes. I tried to buy the program but the transaction failed. Tried 3 more times with the same result. They had a form to fill out for if this happened so I completed that for them. Because I was in the mood to keep doing this particular task I thought I’d uninstall the app, reinstall and see what happened. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.
Of course dragging/dropping to the Trash does not remove the whole program and anyone who thinks it does on a mac wants their head felt. I used App Cleaner to see what files were where and there was a dot file in Prefs. Wondering what was in it I opened it in Textedit and found a perfectly formatted file with an integer count. So I when made a change and the counter incremented, it hits the preset number the program stops. I changed it to -1000000 and reopened the program. It works, I can now have a million changes for the ‘trial’.
Went back to their site and grabbed another of their apps and it works exactly the same way. No attempt to encode the dot file or write it somewhere odd, was obviously listed in some receipt or otherwise. Why? As more people with a clue use apps like App Cleaner which show the files and when they are opened they are clearly written as to what to change they they’ll lose money. No need for cracks, connection limiting or other workrounds. Just Textedit. Surely as their potential market gets bigger they need to be sure they profit from that and a dot file just isn’t going to do it.

And I will buy it – I like it. (and I obviously can’t tell you what it is).

I want software that does not exist.

Requirements.

1. It must support repeating tasks. I don’t want to have to uncheck things at the end of the day, I want to click one key or icon and have it cleared. I want to schedule tasks for Mon and Wed, Tue and Thu. I want flexibility.

2. It must support drag/drop. I want to be able to highlight a block of text on a webpage and drag it to the dock icon where it is pasted directly.

3. It must embed images, not shortcut to them.

*Voodoopad. Cannot do 1.
Things. Cannot do 2 or 3.
*The Hit List. Cannot do 2 or 3.
Midnight Inbox. Maybe it can but it’s so full of other un-dismissable fluff I couldn’t find out.
Evernote. Can’t do 1.
Omnifocus. I’m not paying $80 so I’m not even trying.
*Process. Not designed for this.
Yojimbo. Cannot do 2, don’t think it does 1.
*Notebook. Cannot do 1.
Together does not do 1.
(* means I own it)

I can use THL for tasks, Shovebox for images/text/archives, Notational Velocity for text and that’s all just groovy but all I wanted was one application that was designed for one person to keep it all. I cannot use THL for text because although you can drag/drop that useful piece from a blog it then turns every line into a task.
I don’t want GTD, I don’t need GTD. I just want a program that does 3 simple things very well.

Polite ignoring

One thing I hated about Facebook was that sort of obligation to add people who wanted to add you. There was nothing to say you had to but there felt like there was an expectation, that you would offend if you did not. This was partly why I deleted my account there then later re-added myself with privacy on full. I think that raises the barrier and makes the person who would request think a little more about the “relationship”. I think it also changes expectation levels. It feels like more control is kept by me. I hardly use it these days though but the point is there.

Twitter. Similar thing here. You have to follow certain people, there is an expectation that you will listen to someone you know simply because you know them. There is a world of difference though between a chat down the pub and what is traded online as we know. But you can’t unfollow them because they’ll wonder why. Again it’s this expectation, this etiquette thing. Maybe it’s just me?
And the other thing which really annoys me about Twitter is the repeat #tags about events. #uksnow was fine, #iphone was not, #meme and others never will be. In fact it’s not just tags, it’s @famousperson. Like Stephen Fry will reply? I have no idea what that Kutcher bloke does apart from exchange bodily fluids with Bruce’s ex. I don’t want to see all that because it looks like the equivalent of the person on stage at Glastonbury yelling out “Who want to come up here with me” and being faced with a sea of screaming jumping wild lunatics. I’m sure these @famouspeople simply use twitter to boost their fragile egos and give their days meaning. Irritating.

While I’m on the subject … I quite like twitter. Love it for news though sometimes it feels like overload when coupled with everything else I stare at and it’s always the first app to be closed (Tweetdeck with multiple columns depending on news type) and it’s good for people too. But I have never liked the unfiltered approach. And although I like it I continue to think that the whole service is utterly disposable. 140 characters does not distill, it’s just 140 characters. No idea how many times I have tweeted and I don’t care. Take them all away and I wouldn’t even get annoyed. Would not care. Why would I? If someone said “Ah, but at 17:16 on November 12 you tweeted that…” like I’d give a damn. Wouldn’t know why, wouldn’t be bothered to find out. If these smidges of conversation matter so much why not record what you actually say 24/7? That would make more sense wouldn’t it? Anyway….

Kiwi is a mac twitter client and it has some good rules for highlighting and hiding messages (it does regular expressions if you understand those). It doesn’t do lists yet but I can move all my lists stuff to another ID anyway. But what is best is that I can ignore a whole person. I’m testing it now and test hiding 2 people. I say hiding but it’s actually just coloring them orange so I can check I don’t catch anything wrongly. And I need to check replies/dm’s.
So I can exclude all mac-related tweets when Apple do their fangasm presentations, can exclude the annoying @famouspeople and can ignore those people who I really should just unfollow but feel obliged in some way to keep on the sidebar.

Is invalid

Machine has felt slow at times and this morning the mds process went nuts taking up all the CPU it could get. 3 reboots later and it was okay. It still felt odd though so I decided to run Onyx. I’ve ran this many times and never had any issues. This time and somewhere around the Launch rebuild a popup with ‘System events got an error. Connection is invalid (-609)’ appears. Force quit Onyx, re-ran and got the same error. Rebooted, ran yet again and same error. Googling that gets nothing at all and even the Apple forums are unsure. I have Cocktail here so ran the pilot tab – all was good. Rebuilt launch services and that too was good. Quit that, ran Onyx and all was good there too. Cured.
I think I know what did it because of something I have been trying in the last 2-3 days. I’ll give it a couple of days then I’m going to test it – and if I’m right email a developer about their program.

Things by Cultured Code

I really want to like Things by Cultured Code. I have the desktop trial and bought the Touch version. But I have hit problem after problem and there is no help.
Their forums are not visited by their devs. Given this is pre-release you would expect the devs to be there daily to see what was being said, what problems, what solutions. But they are not. This is also a commercial program. It’s not open source, it’s not free in any way at all yet they have a wiki where they expect people to write their docs. What? Why should people do that? Shouldn’t the devs be writing the docs for the program they will sell to make them money? Relying on a screencast from a fan that does not actually explain anything does not equal documentation.
I’m not stupid and I have tried several ways of entering the information to present in the way I want and this has entailed removing everything and re-adding. This is all the more annoying because you can’t tell if you will get the screwup until midnight so the agony continues every morning.

So I have sent in a request through the program asking for a refund for the Touch version. On the iTunes page it says “Things Support” and there is none. Great it may be but until there is a way for me to find out what the hell I am doing wrong it stays firmly in the “Could do better, write it properly”.

(And while I’m here, their forum search: “Your search is running, please be patient.” No, write better code. That gets really old really fast.)

Typekey

six apart created Typekey. Supposedly a way of proving one’s identity, fighting spam and other wonderful things. A few days ago I went to their site to read a post and I wanted to leave a comment.

sixapart login

No typekey?

Once you’ve signed up for TypeKey, you can use your TypeKey sign in on thousands of websites: from weblogs to six apart?s websites to services made by third parties.

Not on the six apart blog you can’t.
And yes I know it says that using Typekey is optional but you would think a company would support it’s own product.

Still, it was only a comment.

In praise of 1Password

I did the Erase/Install on the MBP and have downloaded and installed most of the programs I use on it. Licenses are in Backpack so they are easily inserted but when formatting and installing before they have always been the easy part anyway. What used to be the worst was passwords for sites. Too many sites, too many passwords and on one occasion just as an install was going on I realised the passwords were still on the machine. But not now – 1Password to the rescue. It’s synced online so all I do is install the program and do a single sync. Job done. No other hassle. And I thought it would just manage passwords – which it does, but very very well.