DEVONthink's patented Randomize Break Engine

I used to use a program called Time Out that would force me to take a significant break every ninty minutes but now, thanks to the spinning colourful ball of Devonthink, my break is built-in to my work.

My old application would preditably remind me it was time relax, like a tedious, overprotective union steward on the shop floor. But now, with Devonthink’s patented Randomized Break Engine, I never know when the coloured ball will pop up, if my break will last mere second or it is it time to lie down on the floor and do my back stretches for 15 minutes. It brings a real-world spontenaity to my otherwise metronomic day.

Annoyed at first with the distraction, I’ve come to embrace the break, accepting my fate in a way that has become almost religious. Thanks, Devonthink, for reminding me that life is not predictable and no one is reliable, not even a very exprensive piece of otherwise very useful software.

Devonthink offers what other applications are simply too well designed to offer: a randomized reconnection with what matters most in life: spinning coloured beachballs. Sometimes it’s good to be bad.

Devonthink: embrace the break ™.

Gee, you’d think that with my DTPO version I’d also have this feature, but alas, I have never seen the spinning ball in years of use. Are you by chance using a beta that has introduced this feature that is not available in current versions?

No, i have no idea why I’m so lucky.
I watch the Activity Monitor and it’s not using too much cpu.
i’ve check my size of databases and i think they’re reasonable.
I"ve looked at logs, but have no idea how to read them.

It’s been like this from the beginning so who the heck knows.
I work with it everyday and simply take a break when it tells me to.
why not? I’ve learned to go wit da flow…

I never see the spinning ball when working on my MacBook Pro with 16 GB RAM.

In Activity Monitor, check memory usage. I’ll bet you have little free RAM and are getting many pageouts when the spinning ball appears.

what are the thresholds? how much should i have free? thanks.

Have a look at the following link for how to use Activity Monitor for guidance re RAM usage:

The following might also be helpful for the overall performance of your Mac: … ostcount=2

Are you getting the spinning beachball in DT only, or are other programmes suffering from the problem?

thanks I’ll look at that.
Spinning balls only in DT. And sometimes it spins for about two minutes. it turns red int the activity monitor but it does not use much cpu.

Where are your databases located?
I have an old 2009 white MacBook that I rarely, rarely see a beach ball with DT(P, PO). (My shiny new late 2012 MacBook Pro neither.)

It’s not an issue of heavy CPU usage, but of low free RAM, resulting in frequent swapping of data back and forth between RAM and disk Virtual Memory swap files. As read/write speeds are orders of magnitude slower on disk than in RAM, a slowdown happens.

The most important measure of database size relative to memory usage is the total number of words in the open database(s). The total number of words in each database is shown in File > Database properties.

When working on my previous laptops with 4 GB RAM, I’ve used as a rule of thumb a maximum total word count of open databases of about 40 million words. I’ve always used topical databases, each meeting a particular interest or need. And I usually have open a set of 4 or 5 databases that I use most frequently, with a total word count below 40 million total words.

Most of the time, even with Safari, Mail, DEVONagent Pro also open, I still have free RAM available on the laptop with 4 GB RAM and don’t see a spinning ball. But Apple’s memory management isn’t perfect, and over time “crud” inactive memory may accumulate, using up free RAM. In that case, the next procedure I call in DEVONthink may start pageouts and data moving back and forth from RAM to swap files on disk, resulting in a slowdown. Activity Monitor’s Memory button display will show the count of pageouts rapidly increasing, and growth in Virtual Memory swap files. Here comes a spinning ball!

Free RAM may be made available by closing other applications, or reducing the number of open DEVONthink Pro/Office databases. A Restart will clear VM swap files and start over with maximum available RAM. There are utilities that can reduce the amount of inactive data clogging RAM. I use the Memory Purge utility in C0cktail for that purpose, and it often provides sufficient RAM headroom to keep everything running fast.

Of course, especially in the world of 64 bit operation, the old saw that RAM is good, more RAM is better is true. On my MacBook Pro (Retina) with 16 GB RAM, I’ve never seen a spinning ball. That’s because there is almost always 5 GB or more free RAM available, so pageouts don’t start and swapping data back and forth to Virtual Memory swap files doesn’t happen. DEVONthink operations fly!

okay, well my database for my school work is at 110 million total words. so i guess i should split it up.

I’ve included a screenshot from a moment when it was spinning. It looks like lots is being used, but then again, 2.19 GB is inactive. Not sure what that means.

And Bluefrog, It looks like the devonthink stuff is kept in Library/Caches/Metadata/Devonthink Pro 2

thanks for your help.


Yes, with 110 million total words, that would definitely cause slowdowns on a Mac with 4 GB RAM and probably on one with 8 GB RAM, as well. Your best approach would be to split the database (but make sure you’ve got a good backup first). The operation of splitting will probably be slow. But once you’ve done that (perhaps to 3 or more databases) you will be able to open/close them as needed, and get far fewer slowdowns.

A screenshot of Activity Monitor’s screen when the Memory button is pressed would be more instructive. I’m sure you will see lots of pageouts listed, as well as large VM swap files and probably a lot of inactive memory use.

In Apple’s memory management system, inactive data is maintained in RAM and is usually there because it has been called for fairly frequently. In principle, inactive data is supposed to be flushed to disk if more free RAM is needed for a procedure. However, in practice that may not happen sufficiently, which is why I use the Memory Purge feature of C0cktail to flush inactive data and optimize RAM (there are other similar utilities for that purpose).

EDIT UPDATE: Sorry, I see that you did include a screenshot of Activity Monitor. No wonder you saw slowdowns, with only 53 MB free RAM! I usually try to keep at least 700 MB free RAM available.

thanks. I’m googling C0cktail and all I’m getting are drink recipes. I’ve tried a few but that doesn’t seem to be affecting my computer. :laughing:

The teetotaler version is from Maintain, here. :neutral_face:

(The politeness filter on the forum does not allow the real word => substitute “o” for “0”.)

just an update. splitting the database has done the trick. no more trips to the beach. thanks.