February 15, 2007

Beware kGTD!

Posted in GTD, Mac Software, Rants, Work at 10:14 pm by a11en

Well, normally I rant and rave about how wonderful kGTD is. But, I’m here to tell you to backup your files and never erase the backups. That’s about the only way you can be sure that you are not losing information. Today I lost a major portion of my Project and Action lists. I’m still sitting here stunned. The info is *not* in the backup files, and the damage has been wraught. I may now have to completely drop my kGTD useage. I had a lot of major information in that file/program, and now it’s lost. I am now going to be going through my old printouts hoping that I can get back 90% of the data. I don’t have much hope for it.

So, I hate to say this, but “buyers” beware. kGTD looses data, and I doubt that I will be able to use it as a “trusted” system in the future.


  1. Oh man, that problem is sooooooooooooooo pc. I thought macs don’t have to deal with that stuff.

  2. a11en said,

    Well, kGTD is sort of a kludge… it’s actually a series Apple-Scripts (gives you a hint as to how powerful AppleScripts can be)… it manipulates an outline file written in Omni Outliner Pro, enabling smart organization of your “Next Actions” into various categories and projects. A great idea and implementation for GTD by David Allen. Amazingly it even syncs with iCal as an Apple-Script! [AppleScript is awesome- I do a crapload with it and Quicksilver]

    But, it is a kludge, and what I found was the big hole in the kludge. A program on the other hand wouldn’t do this type of thing. It happened when I was adding sub-projects into my system. I should *not* have added tasks to the subprojects at the same time, apparently… it resulted in all my subproject tasks being completely lost. Since I was reorganizing my thesis lists, these are the critical items I lost. Big ouch.

    So, in a normal program, I’ve never experienced this type of data-loss… but, with a bunch of AppleScripts written by another person that manipulates a file… that’s perhaps asking a lot… and the data was lost in never-never land somewhere. UGH.

    I’m actually considering going completely text-file and using python scripts in the command-line to do all my lists… I can implement it in Quicksilver and GeekTool and have it show up on my desktop for ever-present and available lists… and I can likely get them all down to my 3×5 cards as well. I just don’t know if I want to waste my time learning a new system… if I can get my kGTD back together again, I might keep going with that, as it’s what I know. I don’t have time to dork with these tools right now- I have to get work done.

    BTW, kGTD is completely free. Amazing amount of work for a free tool. My hat’s off to the creator. I just feel bad that it lost the data. 😉

    Ok, I better get movin’ here! I hope you’re doing well, man! The snow really packed us in down here!! I shoveled for 2 days… granted, the second day wasn’t all that much shovelling… for a friend who’s expecting, and they needed their walkway cleared. They failed to mention a huge snow-drift was blocking everything. 😉 ha ha ha. 😉 Got my exercise. 😉

  3. dan l said,

    I’m familiar with it. Scripts collected together (and I don’t care what variety) will screw up. It’s not an if. It’s a when.

    I’d like to see this software and maybe try to make it out of drupal.

  4. a11en said,

    The scripts are downloadable on kinkless’ site (see side-bar)… I can’t remember if they are user-editable, however. Applescript is a pretty simple high-level language… but it can be a pain in the keyster a times. It’s also very program specific, as the code is added to the programs during compile, so you make program specific calls. Sometimes programs won’t have any AppleScript calls that can be made, but the finder can always manipulate them on a gross level… (like open/quit/ etc.) There are a ton of young applications for GTD work happening, and perhaps one of the ones we are all hoping will work really well, is OmniFocus by the OmniGroup software company. We’ll see if the program lives up to the hype, but it’s possible it will. Omni makes some awesome stuff, and they are suggesting that kGTD files will be importable into OmniFocus. [A definite plus for those of us with insane lists.]

    The biggest issue I have with all of these is the difficulty in using the idea of a “next action” with parent and sibling tasks. I need software which has an almost Gantt like interface for organizing inter-relationships of tasks, that will bring the next one forward when the first one is completed. In other words… if the order of a project is A->B->C… the program should be smart enough to show me a list of “NEXT actions” which just includes A because I can’t do B or C yet. This is one way that kGTD failed, I feel. [Although earlier versions may have done this… it was disabled for whatever reason.] Another important aspect of GTD work is the context… if the work must be done online, the @online context is used… you basically can ignore all other tasks if you are in the @online context… or let’s say @office or @home etc. [or @runningErrands]

    I think OmniFocus might fit the bill for everyone, but the Beta is months and months away would be my guess. Hopefully they’ll move swiftly on it… manipulation of tasks is not really that difficult. Getting it to play nicely with iCal capable webdav servers and syncs to PDA’s etc., is a bit more trouble. But, I’d be happy with the simple stuff for the time-being. Although it would be wonderful if it would print to 3×5 cards… which is where my lo-fi world lives.

    I’m really tempted with the lo-fi text-based system with python scripts and simple grep-commands for sorting and listing sections of the text-list. Very simple approach, and to be honest, will probably work quite well. But, it’s a bit easier on the eyes to have a nice interface to work with… I don’t spend all my time in the CLI and I fear I might go insane if I had to do so for my task-management. 🙂 Cute solution, however, and multi-platform… hell, with the right parsing, you could even output it as an RSS feed to be viewed anywhere.

    Hope this next snow fall isn’t too bad!!

    BTW, why are Universities such pu$$ies these days?!

  5. George Garrett said,

    For using contexts and for choosing the order of tasks, whether one at a time or several at once, the best program is Life Balance for Mac, Windows, and Palm OS. They are about to release a new version with iCal sync and other Apple script stuff. You can get more info at http://www.llamagraphics.com


  6. a11en said,

    I have heard of life-balance, downloaded and played with it once… but, I just can’t conceive of having a 300+ list of items which were brain-dumped in it… it appears to do everything possible to create harmonious balance… but I can’t see based on the windows how I could operate with list views and project views and sorting by contexts and output to 3×5 etc. It appears nice for those who want a computer program to manage all aspects of life… but in reality, I think I’d never use it in that manner.

    I’m looking for something much more simple… Gantt project mixed with context views, action lists, and the ability to handle hard-landscape and soft-landscape tasks. The front-end to life-balance appears to desire a lot as well… I’m pretty sure I’ll be playing in the text-world at this time… but it still likely won’t fit the bill.

    Who knows, perhaps I’ll grow to trust kGTD again. We’ll see.

    Lack of quicksilver integration and applescripting in lifebalance also will hurt the way I use the computer for brain-dumping as well.

    Thanks for the pointer, though George! I’ll read through the application information again… but for my task list, I don’t think it’s going to handle things well.

    Thanks for stopping in! Please don’t let my reply frustrate you- if I’m wrong with some of my items, please let me know!


    Doing a bit more digging- I think data entry is just not going to work well for me on this app…

  7. Jason Echols said,


    Man I hate to hear that. I hope you have luck in finding your data. Maybe it will not be very difficult to rebuild.


  8. a11en said,

    Ok, just to make sure people know how this happened… I was reorganizing my project list to include children projects… then I would drop a task into the children project, and sync.. bammo data missing. Not fun. But, i think I have it on paper, so i can likely recreate it. 😦

  9. a11en said,

    kGTD small update- I’m working with Kinkless GTD again, and it’s handling my tasks fairly decently. I’m not as trusting with it now, but it appears to be working ok. I think there were some scripting issues, and a re-install may have fixed it for me.

    Hope all is well in your world, and that you are getting things done!

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