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The OmniFocus Project Revisited

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Coming upon this nine-year-old piece at random, and having a few non-random thoughts about it.

https://rixstep.com/4/2/20100529,00.shtml

The first thought is: Mac users don't know how to take care of themselves and they don't even care about it. They assume that everything's going to be OK because it's a Mac.

Several people reported hearing Mac users once saying they didn't even need modems to connect to the Internet 'because it's a Mac'.

There's a limit to how much a lack of being informed is tolerated.

The second thought is, and actually it's the first prologue thought: are there any Mac users out there? Or is the Mac just a professional tool for making software for Apple's real cash cows?

And if it's true that, for ordinary users, the platform doesn't exist anymore, then what about the pros? Do they know how to take care of their machines?

A Mac is a personal computer. That's it. Go back to the beginning of this line and read it again. And again.

Now back to the OmniFocus Project. That took place over nine years ago. Everything began with the application AppZapper. With its cool icon. AppZapper was 'the app that Apple forgot'.

Let's cut to the chase before we go any further. Let's bring up those totally authentic quotes found online. Read them now and try to think about what they imply. Try real hard.

'Gah, I just use AppCleaner, it's free! What's there to complain about?'

'The fact that if you try Amnesia you'll see it will pick up things AppCleaner doesn't!!'

'Great list, I'm using AppZapper since a few months and I think it's amazing.'

'AppCleaner is what I have been using. I find it very easy to use. AppZapper is awesome too... but of course AppCleaner is free.'

'I use AppCleaner. Seems to work very well on any applications that don't come supplied with their own uninstall utility.'

'Definitively AppCleaner! I've been using it and I wouldn't replace it! Good and simple and it does it [sic] job!'

'I dont want to bother thinking about what to delete, i guess AppTrap is something for me.'

Now get this. Everyone and his seventh cousin had an opinion on one or more of those apps, everyone, including the supposedly knowledgeable cognoscenti in the media, and yet not a one of them ever even thought of performing tests to see how effective and accurate those AppZappers really were.

As to how they'd test the apps anyway: well, that's it. They'd have to be inventive. And resourceful. And knowledgeable. And you already know that none of them were/are. So no, they didn't test.

They thought about ease of use (!) and if the files they wanted gone were really gone, but - and the truth hurts, doesn't it - they had no clue. None. And yet they advised you. From those pinnacles, those ivory towers. They were also people in the media - and you trusted them. And they were full of it all along. And you trusted them.

The AppZappers of the world sold well. A lot of money was made in a short time. As soon as the first one appeared - and got amazingly good press legs - the other carpetbaggers were soon on the scene. Everyone got in on the act, made fast cash - and Mac users got suckered. And even today they likely won't admit it.

Go read those comments again. People are opting for one AppZapper over another. But on what grounds?

And yet no one but no one but no one ever thinks, ever wonders, if there's a way to know if their favourite 'AppZapper' really got everything?

Right. They haven't a clue, not even in the Mac media, and they don't care. They just dull their senses and carry on.

An 'AppZapper' worked heuristically. And therefore came only with a list of suggestions about what should be removed. But that list was, by definition and very much in practice, woefully incomplete. One notes the name of the bundle, the identifier in the Info.plist, then looks at some standard locations - and even then does a pretty crappy job of it.

'AppZapper is awesome too.'

It is? It was? What metric was used? That's right: none.

'I'm using AppZapper since a few months and I think it's amazing.'

It is? Amazing at what? Cool icon? Comfy drag-drop? What exactly, Einstein?

Exactly.

AppZappers. System cleaners. Memory optimisers. The list is long and egregious. Some are probably for sale today at Apple's Mac App Store.

Apple's macOS is a UNIX and as such is a lot safer than Microsoft Windows by an order of magnitude. But that's not enough. You can't just chill and assume everything's going to be alright. The system can't wipe your bottom. Knowing just a little bit about what a system can and cannot do, and what you need yourself to do, can save you a lot of cash and a lot of hardship and embarrassment in the long run.

Postscript

How did those geniuses see if their AppZappers actually left junk behind, actually damaged their systems? That's right - they didn't. That's something else they didn't think of.

There's a reason Mac users are laughed at, and you've just read about it.

What an utterly sad story.

LocationAppCleanerAppDeleteAppZapperCleanAppuAppTracker
~/Documents/OmniFocus BackupsNONONONONO
~/Library/Application Support/OmniFocus
~/Library/Caches/com.apple.nsservicescache.plistNONONONONO
~/Library/Caches/com.omnigroup.OmniFocusNONO
~/Library/Caches/Metadata/com.omnigroup.OmniFocusNONONONO
~/Library/Caches/OmniSoftwareUpdateCheckNONONONONO
~/Library/Preferences2(3)2(3)2(3)2(3)2(3)
~/Library/Preferences/pbs.plistNONONONONO

Postscript

Marco Gransee, a noted product reviewer on the Windows side, made a point of personally testing every application submitted to his websites before listing, and this on a machine used for this purpose only. He wiped the disks and reinstalled the OS at the end of every working day. That might not have been enough, considering what OS he was running, but it was a step in the right direction.

On the Mac side, people give away their passwords to new apps without thinking and they wonder why things go wonky. They download Apple software from independent sites and never think of inspecting the PKG files to see what's going on.

Further Reading
Product Reviews: The OmniFocus Project

About Rixstep

Stockholm/London-based Rixstep are a constellation of programmers and support staff from Radsoft Laboratories who tired of Windows vulnerabilities, Linux driver issues, and cursing x86 hardware all day long. Rixstep have many years of experience behind their efforts, with teaching and consulting credentials from the likes of British Aerospace, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Lloyds TSB, SAAB Defence Systems, British Broadcasting Corporation, Barclays Bank, IBM, Microsoft, and Sony/Ericsson.

Rixstep and Radsoft products are or have been in use by Sweden's Royal Mail, Sony/Ericsson, the US Department of Defense, the offices of the US Supreme Court, the Government of Western Australia, the German Federal Police, Verizon Wireless, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Microsoft Corporation, the New York Times, Apple Inc, Oxford University, and hundreds of research institutes around the globe. See here.

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