Docear on macOS: Navigating the Apple Java Nightmare

So this blog post will be brief, as I suppress my disdain for Apple’s attitude towards Java, now that they no longer need it to survive due to their App Store ecosystem.

This blog post documents how I was able to get the Docear Mindmapping software working on OSX El Capitan (10.11).

Sadly, many Java applications which should ‘run anywhere’ simply don’t anymore on the Mac.  Apple abandoned their own internal version of the JRE and bundling with the OS, and deferred said support to the author of Java, now Oracle.  Oracle, too have contributed to the nightmare in providing little assistance in making the transition seamless.

After installing Docear on my mac, I attempted to start it with the icon in the Applications folder in the usual way only to find it bounce in the dock once, and disappear.  How rude I thought.  So I resorted to the command line (gotta love UNIX-like desktops).  When I attempted to start it there, I was presented with the ugly error message:

$ /Applications/
JavaVM: Failed to load JVM: /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.7.0_60.jdk/Contents/Home/bundle/Libraries/libserver.dylib
JavaVM: Failed to load JVM: /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.7.0_60.jdk/Contents/Home/bundle/Libraries/libserver.dylib
JavaVM FATAL: Failed to load the jvm library.
[JavaAppLauncher Error] JNI_CreateJavaVM() failed, error: -1

Just lovely.  I actually thought I was running Java JRE 1.8 that I downloaded from Oracle.  Seems there are other versions lurking on my system.

I’ll spare you all the drudgery of diagnosing this issue and coming up with a solution.  I will tip my hat to Oliver Dowling and his blog post which eventually lead me to the solution below.  One thing I did learn is that creating a symbolic link for libserver.dylib did not work for me.  I had to instead create a hard link.  I suspect the JRE stub FreeplanJavaApplicationStubJavaVM binary was checking for the existence of a ‘normal’ file rather than ‘a’ file.

Anyway, here are the goods to make Docear work on OSX10.11 (and hopefully other versions).  Be sure to substitute the Java version numbers in the file paths with your version of Java installed.

$ cd /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.7.0_60.jdk/Contents/Home
$ sudo ln -s jre/lib bundle
$ cd bundle
$ sudo mkdir Libraries
$ sudo ln /Library/Java/JavaVirtualMachines/jdk1.7.0_60.jdk/Contents/Home/jre/lib/server/libjvm.dylib libserver.dylib

Hopefully after executing these commands, you will be able to use Docear.  Good luck!

Meeting in the Middle: How to Manage Change in Universities

This blog post is rather small, but is quite significant, to me at least.

I’ve been sent the following paper.

Leadership is a critical element in change management in universities and can be viewed alongside management as distinct but complementary elements in the change process (Ramsden, 1998). Leadership, in Ramsden’s view, is about movement and change and has a long and rich history. It refers to individuals or small groups, is largely independent of positions, and relies on the skills of individuals, not formal power relationships.

I always considered management and leadership as synomymous.  However, this idea from Ramsden has really shifted my thinking.  I never really considered myself as a leader, certainly in the context of my role at my institution.  But in combination with my team colleagues, that is what we have become.  So how does one lead from a position of no authority?

On the other hand, management is about ‘doing things right’ and is undertaken by people in formal positions responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, and budgeting. It is a relatively recent concept generated within the contemporary bureaucracy.

‘Doing things right’ just makes me grin. I’d opt for ‘doing things well’ which recognises that there is more than one way to approach things, and there really is no silver bullet in environments of complexity, such as higher education.

Nevertheless, this distinction between leadership and management is quite fascinating.  Rick et. al. continue:

In a similar vein, Kotter (1990) distinguishes between leaders who set direction, align people and groups, and motivate and inspire to create change, and managers who plan and budget, organize and staff, control, and solve problems in order to create order. To many staff, universities have sacrificed leadership in adopting a managerial approach to teaching and learning. In the top-down approach to change management, the leaders are senior management, using their management positions to drive change through organizational policies and restructures.

This is my experience and accepted practice – only leadership can come from someone with a position of authority.  But apparently, this isn’t true.

In the bottom-up approach, leadership comes from individual staff who are personally inspired to make changes and to inspire others to follow their lead.

On reflection, this is something that my colleagues and I have done.  Not intentionally, at least in the beginning, but our working and collaborating with academics at the coalface has generated somewhat of a following.

In the middle-out approach that we have observed at Murdoch University, middle managers became leaders and, through a combination of personal inspiration and policy based on emergent practice, have changed the university environment sufficiently to force both high level policy change and change in practice among teaching staff. Leadership in the middle-out approach is exhibited through problem solving and facilitation – that is, getting the job done and simplifying tasks required of those at the chalkface.

This is quite interesting as it does differ somewhat from my experience.  Certainly, there has been leadership from middle management.  In fact, much of the institutionally impactful work I have been involved in was only possible through the leadership of middle management.  That arose through their insights into what we were doing, and the value it was offering.  They supported us by championing our work at higher levels and attempting to create a facilitative environment for us to scale the work we were doing.  This is where the bottom-up approach often fails – without middle management, it is very difficult to make meaningful contributions beyond small coalface groups.  This is by the very nature of the entrenched SET mindsets of higher education institutions.

The key point in terms of my experience is that the middle management take the lead from the coal-face.  Without the bottom-up initiation, I’m not sure the middle management are any the wiser – they traditionally are still too far removed.  Effective middle management are able to see meaningful contributions made bottom up, and look for opportunities to scale.  Of course, this buts up against the Reusability Paradox – the more you attempt to broaden reach, the less effective it will become.  In this way too, bottom up initiatives can lead, and scale to the levels that make sense.