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Last post Author Topic: Looking for a project time tracker/nag tool that keeps me writing billable notes  (Read 7021 times)

TaoPhoenix

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I'm going a little off road here, but I think one of Anand's tools could be useful here. I think he's got one that tags notes to titlebars of some apps, so then you can jam other notes there, and use it in combo with all this stuff.


David.P

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Could you supply a link, Tao?

tomos

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THat would be Stick A Note from Anandcoral.
Haven't used it myself.
Tom

David.P

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I see, thank you. This tool by Anand seems to be for taking notes that can be fixed to document and program windows. However, it doesn't seem to have the ability to nag, and to take time stamps.

This is btw the titlebar time tracker that I have been using for many years now, Rayflectar Project Timers



The program's output is very basic and looks like this.

Code: [Select]
Timer Name = 123456, My Project
Total time = 022:01:06 <hhh:mm:ss>
Keywords used = 123456, Google Books, Archive.org
Timer Creation Date = 2014.05.27 09:05 AM
Last Updated = 2014.08.10 09:50 AM

Timer History (max depth = 100 active days)
Format (comma separated): Date, Running Total <hhh:mm:ss>, Day Total <hh:mm:ss>
2014.05.27, 000:00:04, 00:00:04
2014.05.30, 000:25:26, 00:25:22
2014.06.10, 001:04:48, 00:39:22
2014.08.09, 022:00:28, 03:32:04
2014.08.10, 022:01:06, 00:00:38

As a result from the discussion, the perfect time tracking program in my view would be a tool like Project Timers that additionally can be set to  bring up a text box at certain intervals where you can write down what you have done in the last half hour or so -- the latter of course exactly as Anuran does:

Of course, both parts of the information, the time tracked with regard to the current project (based on window titles) as well as the notes you have taken, should be presented and saved together in an easy to handle format, in order to be able to track, view and export what you have done at what time in which project, and how long everything has taken.

For a working tool like described above, and with prospects for further development, I would easily donate in the three digits range, because this would enable me to bill so much more and better that it would probably pay for itself in like a week's time.

« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 04:22:01 AM by David.P »

TaoPhoenix

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I know I tend to be a bit of a left foot around here, but here's a couple thoughts.

Depending on which side of "three digits" you mean, it starts to drift away from "donations" to bargaining on a full sale for custom software. Leaving the "who has what role" stuff for elsewhere, just being pragmatic, if you have most of the pieces of a custom tool you want, what about going to a "programmer for hire" site like oDesk and just commissioning it?

I have done that a few times, to generally decent results. They're best at what seems like this kind of "raw level" tool creating, and "three digits" could get you really close to what you want. I did something similar, which I then gave to NANY - a bunch of partial tool components when then you think about because I kept finding you keep wanting "one more feature".

I'm a Humanities fella, so this is a guess, but this feels like a pretty simple concept, just requiring a bit of work that I have begun calling "Coding Lunches", to differentiate from the "Coding Snacks" here. But the coding itself doesn't feel that hard, just that it has a lot of little wrinkles to look at. It's not some kind of (insert Star Trek technobabble here) "Multi-threaded real time visual space scanner and interpreter" or whatever.

If you want something that will tremendously improve your life, more than a quick thingie that just does something cute, sometimes the price jump to really get a/some dev partners compensated can really work.

David.P

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All true, however honestly, I trust you guys around here more than an (all purpose-) programmer hired on a platform -- all the more since this tool possibly could be coded by someone who actually uses the tool himself afterwards, which probably will make it three times as good as if someone who is not so much involved in that time tracking stuff would code it.

What's more, this should be doable in AHK, and while I am not so proficient to build this from scratch (without taking weeks for it), I think I should be able to maintain, and gradually improve the code around the edges, over time afterwards.

For example, I once hired a programmer to write a small app for me.

First, it took weeks to find one who seemed to be able to code what I needed, although I made a proper invitation of tenders on a professional platform. Second, although the tool in the end worked out ok with regard to the "right half of a three digit range" that I spent there, very soon I discovered that I needed different bits and pieces to be changed, features added and so on.

In the end I stopped using that (static) made-to-order tool, and wrote my own in AHK which I have been using for many years now. Still, almost every day however I fix and improve bits and pieces in the code. This way and evolutionary, that tool has become like 20 times as useful as the original one, in the meantime.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2014, 12:25:07 PM by David.P »

skwire

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So I suppose this is the solution for the time being -- or is anyone aware of a tool that combines the features of Anuran ("nag me for descriptive text regularly") and a Titlebar tracker ("record the time spent in your projects' files") into ONE application?

This is most certainly possible.  However, if I were to do it, I'd rewrite it from scratch as I wouldn't want to modify Anuran too much from its current functionality.  It was written for a DC member based upon a very specific set of requirements.

At its core, something like this is not too hard to write.  The problem with apps like these is the amount of options and reporting that is to be expected of them.  That's where the headaches come into play.

David.P

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True. I might end up and code such a tool myself in AHK at some stage...

On the other hand, at the moment I am quite happy with my combination of ProjectTimers and Anuran.

Anuran actually is like "magically useful" for me.

skwire

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Anuran actually is like "magically useful" for me.

I haven't worked on it in quite some time, so that's good to hear.  It's definitely a unique application.

mouser

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Anuran is a very cool app.

Target

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here's a tool I wrote sometime ago to nag me about tracking my time.  It might or might not suit your purposes but feel free to do with it what you will

FWIW I used it for quite a while until I the nagging got too much for me (and I realised that I was really good at ignoring the thing (ie it's called nagging for a reason)

David.P

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Thanks Target, for the information about your tool.

SonyRaycom

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I would suggest rather a better time tracking software from Replicon as it has helped in better time management for our business activities. It got great usability and at the same time can be accessed from any location using a web browser and can be quickly implemented in any office environment.

Try it and you would definitely like it for sure!!

David.P

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Sorry, but unless this solution reads application window titles and automatically tracks hours based on activity in the respective windows (which I suppose it doesn't) -- it is only one of the many (sorry again) USELESS "solutions" for time tracking and billing which instead only puts another layer of complexity on top of one's projects.

40hz

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I would suggest rather a better time tracking software from Replicon as it has helped in better time management for our business activities. It got great usability and at the same time can be accessed from any location using a web browser and can be quickly implemented in any office environment.

Try it and you would definitely like it for sure!!

One thing about this product and company that I find particularly annoying is the complete absence of pricing information available on their website. I know some folks still like to follow the old 50's era "sell the sizzle, not the steak" mantra by being overly coy about pricing. Apparently with the belief that, if you can demonstrate the usefulness of your product to a potential buyer, they will somehow magically come up with the money to buy it, no matter what.

Guess what? This isn't the go-go 90s any more. Businesses are more budget conscious than ever. If the product doesn't fall within their budget, it's a non-starter no matter how perfect a fit. So stop wasting everybody's time.

I recently had a client spend a dozen or so hours evaluating a product only to discover it was priced several orders of magnitude higher than the highest amount they could even consider. And they didn't find this out until they spoke to something called a "solution specialist" who reluctantly gave them the pricing schedule. Talk about a total waste of time.

« Last Edit: October 28, 2014, 07:29:54 AM by 40hz »

40hz

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Sorry, but unless this solution reads application window titles and automatically tracks hours based on activity in the respective windows (which I suppose it doesn't) -- it is only one of the many (sorry again) USELESS "solutions" for time tracking and billing which instead only puts another layer of complexity on top of one's projects.

Um..."useless" is a pretty harsh characterization. Wouldn't it be more correct to to say it's "USELESS" for your purposes? 

Just sayin' :)


David.P

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In my view, useless for anybody who does not have the resources to hire additional people who look over the actual worker's shoulder and click on "Start Tracking Project" and "Stop Tracking Project" buttons all day long according to what the actual workers are currently doing.

Sorry about that.

Robert-Sav

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I use time tracking tool from Yaware. I would like to recommend it to you as well, but I have not noticed any pop-up wondows there. Still it is worth trying, as it shows not only what websites or programs were opened and for how long, but also records time where you are away from the computer. http://timetracker.yaware.com/

David.P

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Thanks. Had a look at it. Hated the website because it:

a) only shows flashy Apple hardware
b) does not even scroll properly because all of the bling-bling, almost crashed my browser
c) does not have any information about how the product actually works
d) forces you to sign up

To me, this service or whatever it is, seems to be targeted towards the typical mooncalfs in Controlling. Could be otherwise, but for the moment, I'll stick with Anuran.

It's of course not meant personally.

Cheers
David
« Last Edit: July 23, 2015, 07:20:58 AM by David.P, Reason: typo »