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Author Topic: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?  (Read 4866 times)

iphigenie

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Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« on: July 06, 2011, 10:50:29 AM »
Hi

First, I feel profoundly stupid.

I would have sworn that when I last reinstalled it last year, I logged in and I had the license code saved somewhere - either in my licenses folder or in a saved note. But it's not in any backup I can see of my backup folder, and it's not in opera notes, or in my abandoned evernote, or in my fastmail notes... not sure where else it might be. Probably saved somewhere on the work computer I have since returned to the company I am no longer working for...

And more stupidly I went on the sphericaltech.com site earlier this year as I suspected I would need it again and was checking whether there was a new version to upgrade/buy etc.

And now they seem to have vanished. And I should know better.

Anyway, what did spherical tracker do?

  • log the address bars of all open windows, application and document name, email subject/recipient etc.
  • track breaks and interruptions, calls and meetings
  • allow you to review your work every day and assign activity to projects
  • learn to automatically assign particular documents, folders, programs to particular clients. Allow that to be changed over time without affecting past entries.
  • produce nice reports that help when building timesheets
  • it had more features for companies, groups etc. but these are what mattered to me

Question 1: anyone does by any miracle know this company or people in it that could help me get my old key back and continue using it  :tellme:

Otherwise considering that once in the flow of a day of work I am unable to remember to click buttons to track what I am doing, I need something like this.

I found the following:

* Qlockwork, for Outlook. Tracks all activities but shows the resulting timeline and reports within outlook. I like how the time usage shows up as a calendar (although it would be even better as a diary, imo, especially as the calendar seems to be picked up by synchronisations etc. which is undesirable). I used it less than a day and the report seems to freeze, could be because it is less than a day. But obviously if it cant do a report without a crash it is out.

* Chrometa. Modern "app" look. Seems solid enough. Far too much of a pain to use to assign things (mouse interactions sluggish and selection jumpy). Also the program window always makes it look like you have only 20 minutes active work, although the report comes out correct. I have only the desktop standalone tool, havent tried the webapp aggregation yet. Does catch break but I am getting too much time wasting around the assign-to-project phase to disqualify it.

* Timesprite. looks quite a bit like Spherical. Assign-to-client via "grouping" windows, almost a 1-right-click action. Didnt look like it at first but best option perhaps so far

* Worktime. Fancy reports by type of activity, top sites, top documents - havent quite figured out the assign-to-client angle, seems you create it by typing simple rules or by setting a general context for all you do and then changing anything that was an interruption. Manual logging of other stuff. Has frozen on me.

* open tempus - free software tool. not clear where to start

I also remember that there is a coding snack that does the logging on this very site but I am not manually doing the analysis and reports :)
There are also 2 web based solutions that claim to do the same, but they are pay-per-month and I am not sure I am interested in pay per month.

I want spherical back, but failing that, are there others I should consider?

PS: will go get the URLs and add them asap

iphigenie

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2011, 10:52:07 AM »
My conclusion after a tiny incomplete check

- logging windows seems to produce different strings in different tools, which is odd but creates a difference in how easy it is to analyse things later. Some are more clever than others in differentiating application name from meta information and using it.

- things that recognise a break and prompt you on return (chrometa does, spherical did) are good. Although chrometa also prompts when I was standing here reading a document on screen, not good.

- spherical was very slick on the learn-and-log front, with an end-of-day or end-of-week type routine. Many of the ones I just tried make that harder.

- being able to go into "edit this" from the report really saves time (yeah, spherical again)

- changing what a rule does must ask whether it is a global change (i.e. affects backwards) or only for the future (i.e. new project, same tools)

- i am really used to the one tool and I did pay the (moderately high) price back then because it worked "just right". Shame that clearly I am strange and it was not right enough for enough others :(

skwire

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2011, 11:03:15 AM »
Question 1: anyone does by any miracle know this company or people in it that could help me get my old key back and continue using it  :tellme:

I know it's not much, and the info probably isn't valid anymore, but it's worth exhausting all your avenues.

http://web.archive.org/web/20100104120904/http://www.sphericaltech.com/contact.asp

iphigenie

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2011, 11:18:26 AM »
Question 1: anyone does by any miracle know this company or people in it that could help me get my old key back and continue using it  :tellme:

I know it's not much, and the info probably isn't valid anymore, but it's worth exhausting all your avenues.

http://web.archive.org/web/20100104120904/http://www.sphericaltech.com/contact.asp

Thank you - you are a lifesaver!

I should have thought of the wayback machine, used it in the past, yet i didnt.

Why a lifesaver? because the link to the login-to-get-your-info was visible on the page and it is NOT on the sphericaltech.com domain and it IS still up

And I have my license key again. And indeed i have a maintenance subscription which is still valid, until october... and claims to be renewable... ah well...

Now to check if it can activate, works on windows 7 64bit (it did work on 32bit fine, even though it is years old)

I'll keep testing the other tools on the hobby machine - I will need an alternative eventually and a dev that is alive and responding

 :-*

iphigenie

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2011, 11:20:59 AM »
and i distinctly remember saving that license key to note last year - won't lose it again

skwire

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2011, 11:24:27 AM »
And I have my license key again.

Nice!   :Thmbsup:

wraith808

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2011, 12:28:31 PM »
That looks pretty cool... pricey though.  Glad you were able to get your license key back :)

iphigenie

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2011, 02:49:21 PM »
That looks pretty cool... pricey though.  Glad you were able to get your license key back :)

It was pricey - but back then it was near unique. I needed to easily track where my time went when I was juggling so many things. And I just forget to press timer buttons.

The other tools I found now are all in the 29-50 price bracket (well, the outlook one goes to 79 and that gets close to Spherical territory). They are all a bit different, and not quite as slick a workflow than Spherical was, to me. Also, spherical tech seems better at capturing what happens when you have windows open in the background and switch between multiple windows (say developing a web application, or having long running tasks and checking on them)

But I would say they are also nice to run for the duration of a 15 or 30 day trial period and figure out where you time goes. It does help even for our never-long-enough private time. Noticing things is the first step to changing them :)

Note that if you are the kind who can plan tasks in advance and then press the button to record time, there are millions of options - if you're not...

Qlockwork http://www.qlockwork.com  - 49-79

works with a tracker + an outlook extension. A bit broken in my highly messed up test machine Outlook 2003, but that is possibly not representative. It certainly looks very impressive in the description, I think I will test it some more.

Quote
Qlockwork helps you categorize your work by project or customer.
Automatic assignment - Set up simple rules to automatically assign your activities.
Complete control - You can also assign activities to projects by hand in seconds
Qlockwork automatically tracks everything you do on your PC, and you can add extra tasks into the Qlockwork calendar manually.
Meetings and planned phone calls  are included and tracked against the appropriate project.
Add activities manually simply by adding them into your calendar.
With Qlockwork Pro, you can also automatically include appointments from another Outlook calendar in your time reports.

worktime http://www.nestersoft.com  - 29.95-49.95

tracker. Nicest reporting screens. wasnt 100% stable in my test, but then I did have 4 trackers on the machine at once.. Developer asks for some feedback about what interests you in the software, and does email back

Quote
Project tracking
 Track your work on projects. WorkTime project tracking proposes various services so your work is not interrupted...

Documents usage tracking
 Track your work on documents. Track documents in any graphic design tool (including InDesign, Photoshop, Flash, Dreamweaver, AutoCAD)...

Applications usage tracking
 WorkTime automatically picks what applications you use and records application name and time spent working...

Portable USB installation
 Track your work on your laptop, on your or client's desktops. Have all recorded results always synchronized...

Reporting your work
 Generate detailed reports about your work. Export reports to various formats. Generate invoices and timesheets

timesprite http://www.timesprite.com $34.95

Looks the simplest but has been the most stable. Supports both the "window logging" and the more normal "push button logging"

Quote
TimeSprite records the titles of the active window as you work, and intelligently groups similar titles to report how you spent your time.

You can assign the recorded window titles to your own groups to create a timesheet.
TimeSprite automatically records your time using the title of the window you are working in.
Recording stops automatically when you don't use the computer for 5 minutes (configurable).
You can view a summary of your time, a journal or diary view, and weekly and monthly timesheets.
Make notes in the Journal view.
Include or exclude groups from the timesheet.
Add, delete or edit entries to adjust the reports.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 03:09:25 PM by iphigenie »

iphigenie

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2011, 03:14:21 PM »
note that back then 199AUSD were a lot cheaper... (and I did get it while on a deal, iirc)

wraith808

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2011, 11:07:02 PM »
I used TimeSprite for a while when I was consulting, and it was pretty cool.  I also used TimeTraces and yaTimer.  yaTimer was the easiest to use (if I remembered) and TimeSprite was the one that had the least impact in terms of tracking (but had a lot of clean up to do at invoice time).

Shades

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2011, 10:36:06 AM »
ManicTime have a free and paid version.

I personally use the portable free one as it fills my needs perfectly, but as yours likely differ it is wise to check all the extras the paid version delivers.

rondesgr

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Re: Help: Spherical timesheet gone, what do I use now?
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2011, 10:18:33 AM »
I've tried several programs over the several years and settled on Klok (http://www.getklok.com/) after beta-testing it.  It saved my behind a couple of years ago when our company was bought out and the new powers-that-be wanted an accounting of my time.

Klok has a paid and free version.

Hope this helps,
Ron