| August 14, 2009 11:19 am

Lifehacker induced change in web traffic.  Looks like move to exponential decay.It’s been an interesting couple of days.  I was rather honored to see that Lifehacker did a short highlight of Time Drive, which I thought was pretty cool.  It’s always been one of my goals to have something featured in Lifehacker or Gizmodo, and now I’m going to have to scratch that off the list of goals.  But that’s okay, I’ve got other things to fill the void.  Like … how exactly does one get invited to present at TED?

On another note … while I knew that I would see some kind of traffic bump due to the article in Lifehacker, I wasn’t necessarily prepared for the magnitude.  In mathematics, there is this thing called a step function.  It’s where you move from one value to another more or less instantaneously.  It looks like a step, hence the name.  Sure, It may not actually exist, since even very dramatic shifts still have a non vertical slope; but even so, the change in my traffic might as well be a step-function.  Between yesterday and today, I’ve had more visits to this site than I’ve had in much of the rest of the year combined.  I think that’s kind of cool, though it probably won’t last.

(This might be a good time to say that I am actually rather proud of my “lackluster” web traffic.  Though it might not necessarily be that impressive, it is, nevertheless, mine. I’ve worked hard for it, and I revel in the fact that some 40 to 50 people each day find the unorganized garbage of my mind intoxicating.  Some of them even come back!)

But as interesting as that might be, traffic stats is probably not why you’re here.  Good thing, since I’ve got announcements.

Time Drive Update

As of this moment, Time Drive has been updated to version 0.1.5 and is available on the project page.

Let me start by saying what this release isn’t.  I really wanted to write a blog post and say, “Time Drive is available, and  now it’s really easy to install!”  In the past few days, this has been by far the most requested “feature” and I’ve tried hard to deliver.  (Honest!)  Unfortunately, creating a binary installer for Windows and a self contained package for Mac has proven … illusive.  I’m not really a programmer and the inner workings of py2app and py2exe are tremendously frustrating.  I have made some serious headway, but stand-alone installers are still “forthcoming.”

But a lot of things are new, and some of them are even shiny!  Time Drive 0.1.5 - Main WindowMoreover, the relatively huge interest has gotten me excited about the program, and I’ve spent some time refining things that didn’t quite work right.  “So …” you ask, “What’s different?”

New Stuff

For starters, the Snapshot History on the main window actually works now.  If you want to restore a previous version of a file, you can select it from the list and click the add button (+) to open the archive browser.  It will automatically load the snapshot as it looked on the selected day and time.

If you can’t find your file there, don’t despair, from within the archive browser, you can easily navigate forward and backward between snapshots by using the arrow buttons or by dragging the slider to the appropriate place.  Once you have it sitting on the snapshot of interest, hit the refresh button to reload the file list.  This is starting to get closer to the overall vision of the program that I originally stole.  Now, you can actually use Time Drive to keep tabs on how your files change.

Time Drive 0.1.5 - Archive Browser

I’ve also been trying to get things cleaned up so that the program runs better.  I went back and modified the code so that all long running processes use their own threads.  This should help the UI from freezing and lets you do several things at once.

I also cleaned up the way that Time Drive interfaces with cron.  Now it works on Mac without requiring tweaks.  In the relatively near future, I’ll write a proper backend for Windows so that is uses the Windows Vista task scheduler.  Installing cron on Cygwin is just too much of a pain.

Looking into the future, I foresee support for Amazon S3, pruning and naming snapshots, and advanced folder options.  There may be other changes as inspiration strikes.  Expect additional announcement soon.


Well, that’s it.  Why this may be a bit of a minor addition, there’s still some nice stuff.  (I know, I’m biased.)  Head over the download page and check it out.


17 Responses to “Time Drive 0.1.5: Incremental Changes”

Tommy Keene wrote a comment on August 15, 2009

I appreciate the work you are doing. I have been a dedicated rdiff-backup user, but it appears they are not updating much any more, and I always hoped to have something with similar functionality without the fuss of a command line.

Anyway, thanks! I look forward to your updates. SSH support is a real treat.

Tommy Keene wrote a comment on August 18, 2009

I could not find a section on the development page to file bug reports. I ran into the following bug.

I tried to add a folder path that contains a space in it to the Include tab and received the following error.

Command line error: Expected 2 args, got 7
Enter ‘duplicity –help’ for help screen.
Backup Successful: /media/ntfs/Documents and Settings/Tommy Keene/My Documents

Probably just a quoting issue.

Is there a place to file bugs?

Rob Oakes wrote a comment on August 18, 2009

Hi Tommy. I think you’re right, I ran into a similar issue earlier today. You can log bugs at:


Just make sure to select “TIme Tracker” under the projects drop down. It’s not necessary to register with the site in order to file the bug report.

Tommy Keene wrote a comment on August 18, 2009

Hmm. I went to that page. I don’t see a button or section where I can file a bug report, just a list of bugs already filed.

Vince Kimball wrote a comment on August 22, 2009

I’m trying to run Time Drive 0.1.7 on Ubuntu 8.04 amd64. After running bash BuildUi.sh and then python app.py I receive the following message:

Traceback (most recent call last):
File “app.py”, line 14, in
from ui_MainWindow import Ui_MainWindow
File “/opt/Time-Drive/ui_MainWindow.py”, line 16
SyntaxError: EOL while scanning single-quoted string

I tried filing a bug report but I see no way to actually file a new report. I can only see a list of bugs already filed.

Rob Oakes wrote a comment on August 22, 2009

@Vince. The error that you are getting is because PyQt cannot find the window icon. ui_MainWindow.py is code that is autogenerated when you run the BuildUi.sh script. Multiple people have reported having problems with that step. And since most people will probably not be modifying the Ui files, I think that I should probably just build the UI before I post the packaged versions online.

As to posting bugs, first go to the bugtracker page:


When the page first loads, you will see the main task lists for all of the projects. (Right now, the only public projects are Time Drive and LyX-Outline.) Look at the far left hand side of the page, there will be a drop down combo box that reads “All Projects.” By clicking on the box, you will see a popup menu that lets you choose between the various projects.

Select “Time Drive” from the list. This will take you to the “Time Drive” project page. In the list of menu options, you should now see a button that says: “Open a new task anonymously.” When you click on this button, it should allow you to enter in the information.

Vince Kimball wrote a comment on August 22, 2009

Hi Rob,

Yes, it looks like all of the icons are missing from the ui_Mainwindow.py file. Including the pre-built UI files should make things easier. I’m going to also see what happens on another machine running Ubuntu 9.04.

Ah, I see the option to open a new task now. Didn’t know that you had to pick the project first.

— Vince

Vince Kimball wrote a comment on August 22, 2009

Just to follow-up. The UI seems to build correctly on Ubuntu 9.04 amd64 but not on 8.04. Maybe different python versions? I’ll try moving the files to the machine running 8.04 and see if that works.

Rob Oakes wrote a comment on August 22, 2009

Hi Vince,

Thanks for the follow-up. Glad to hear that it works on Ubuntu 9.04 (but I haven’t got a clue as to why it doesn’t work on 8.04). I had one thought, one of the programs necessary for the UI to build is called pyrcc4. You might want to check and make sure that it is installed. You could try, “which pyrcc4” from the command line. If pyrcc isn’t there, it would explain why the icons aren’t being compiled correctly. You might be right in that it is a different version of Python or it might just be a different version of PyQt. I do most of my development against Qt 4.5.1 and PyQt 4.4.4. (Figuring out versions and dependencies is always such a pain. If you figure it out, please let me know. Also, let me know if I should open a bug. I’m trying to organize most of the development problems of Time-Drive there.)

Also, as an aside, I am getting ready to post another version in the next few minutes. You may want to download and take a look at that version. It includes a bunch of little bug fixes and even some new features. It will also include a pre-built version of the Ui.

Other than that, do things appear to be working alright?



Rob Oakes wrote a comment on August 22, 2009

Just uploaded a new version of Time Drive (0.1.8). This version includes a couple of UI enhancements, some changes to the backend so that it runs faster, and a whole slew of bug-fixes. It is a preview of what things will look like in 0.2. I’ll be posting a more detailed overview at that time.


Vince Kimball wrote a comment on August 23, 2009

Seems to be working on Ubuntu 8.04 with the pre-built UI. (Got side-tracked fixing an issue with gvfs-fuse.)

Vince Kimball wrote a comment on August 23, 2009

Hmm, looks like I spoke too soon.

I did one backup using a single subfolder of my user folder (/home/vkimball/wordpress) and everything seemed fine.

I tried a second backup after adding five more subfolders and ran into trouble. First I got a stream of “source mismatch” messages in the terminal window. If I look at the snapshot in the restore window, I see that although all the folders are listed as backup folders, only the original subfolder’s files are present.

Apparently I can’t change which folders are being backed up once I start. Is this the way this is supposed to work?

Vince Kimball wrote a comment on August 23, 2009

Following up on my previous post:

Time Drive 0.1.8 seems to work properly on Ubuntu 9.04 amd64 but not on Ubuntu 8.04 amd64. It appears that what is happening on Ubuntu 8.04 is that the data is placed in a single folder at the destination rather than in a separate subfolder for each folder being backed up.

I’ll enter a bug report. (If I can get through, been having problems connecting to this site.)

Vince Kimball wrote a comment on August 23, 2009

Following up further (since the bug reporter software doesn’t let you add more information to a bug).

As far as I can tell, the problem in Ubuntu 8.04 is in line 81 of __init__.py:

folderName = os.path.basename(str(folder)) is blank in Python 2.5.2

Vince Kimball wrote a comment on August 23, 2009

Sorry for the number of posts, but I believe I’ve figured out the issue.

The backup folders end with a / on Ubuntu 8.04 but not on Ubuntu 9.04. If I edit them the not end with a slash on Ubuntu 8.04, then things seem to work properly.

Rob Oakes wrote a comment on August 23, 2009

@Vince. You have absolutely nothing to apologize for. I appreciate the level of detail and I will copy the comments from here over onto the open bug report. I will also spend some time tomorrow and see if I can come up with a solution that won’t break things in Ubunu 9.04. I think the slash versus no slash behavior of os.path.basename may have something to do with the platform (or how Qt 4.4, the default in 8.04) returns the file path. I haven’t seen the same problem on Mac or Windows, which both also use Python 2.5.

On another point, I noticed you registered for an account on the bugtracker. I went in and edited the permissions for the users group so that you can edit your own tasks, update them, add comments et cetera. (I didn’t even realize that those permissions were disabled, seems like a rather stupid default.)

Vince Kimball wrote a comment on August 23, 2009


I’ll also see what I can find regarding the tailing slash. I haven’t looked at either the Mac or Windows behavior.

Care to comment?