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Author Topic: InstantBoss - For those of us which require motivation to work  (Read 49813 times)
Josh
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« on: August 01, 2006, 01:51:48 PM »

Basic Info

App NameInstantBoss
App URLhttp://www.donationcoder.com/forum/index.php?topic=4430.msg32502#msg32502
App Version Reviewed1.02
Test System SpecsWindows XP MCE 2005, 2048MB Ram, 750GB Hard drive (total), NVidia Geforce 6800
Supported OSesWindows (ALL)
Support MethodsForum Based
Upgrade PolicyDonationware
Trial Version Available?Not Necessary, Donationware
Pricing SchemeDonationware
Author Donation LinkDonate to App103, the Author
Screencast Video URLhttp://josh.donationcoders.com/Casts/IB/InstantBoss.html



Intro:

Have you ever told yourself that you need to develop a good work schedule instead of taking random breaks throughout your work day? If so, this app is for you. This will help you organize your work day so that you take breaks at a more regular schedule after doing a pre-determined amount of work.


Who is this app designed for:

Those who require more motivation to organize their workday better. Those who tend to procrastinate on breaks and take them for longer than they should.


The Good

Well, what good thing cant I say about this application? It does whats its designed to and it does it well. The application offers sounds to alert you when its break time and time to continue working


The Break time sound:

* break.wav (22.98 KB - downloaded 1007 times.)

The work cycle over sound

* done.wav (61.42 KB - downloaded 889 times.)

The Time to work again sound

* work.wav (10.53 KB - downloaded 953 times.)

The application offers a good, easy to configure interface which is pretty straight forward. To configure it, you simply set the work time, the break time, and the number of cycles. Hit apply, and you are in business. The break time is the amount of time you want each break to be. The work time is the amount of time you want to work for before a break, and the cycle count is the number of work/rest cycles in your work day.

The application runs in the system tray, is very unobtrusive, after initial configuration and pops up a dialog when its time to work, and when its time for a break. These dialogs follow

The break time dialog



The work time dialog




The needs improvement section


This application is great, but it has a few things which this reviewer feels could be added or changed.

One thing is the ability to add fractions of a minute. I would like to be able to set work time for 7.5 minutes, and break for 2.5, for example. Currently this is not possible.

One other gripe I have is that the application should prompt you to apply changes when the work button is hit, if the values have been changed.


Why I think you should use this product


If you are anything like this reviewer, you like to take breaks, and take them often. But sometimes, you get into the habit of pushing out your breaks longer than you should. This app will help you maintain a good work/rest cycle and get you into the habit of working more than breaking smiley


How does it compare to similar apps

I havent seen any similar apps.


Conclusions

This is a great app for the habit procratinator. This will help you not only with your work day, but when you have projects which are due and you need to get done. Overall, this is a very well thought out and planned application. The things I mentioned which need improvement are very minor and are definitely far from show stoppers. This definitely gets two thumbs up from me!


Links to other reviews of this application

To be updated at a later time. This is the first.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2006, 08:40:15 PM by mouser » Logged

Strength in Knowledge
Josh
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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2006, 01:56:57 PM »

By the way, the screencast (in case you missed the url in the basic info), is located here.

Good job app! Keep up the good work!

http://josh.donationcoders.com/Casts/IB/InstantBoss.html
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nudone
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« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2006, 02:18:38 PM »

great start to the 'updated' mini-reviews, Josh.

can i just add that 'InstantBoss' seemed to me to be especially beneficial for anyone wanting to complete a single project/task. one that may only last an hour (or thereabouts) as in the original request that was made by JacobB. this is the feature that sort of made it different to the other time based task monitors.
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mouser
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« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2006, 02:19:28 PM »

great mini review and excellent screencast  thumbs up thumbs up

note:
discussions about the program itself should take place here:
http://www.donationcoder....orum/index.php?topic=4430
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JavaJones
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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2006, 09:10:14 PM »

Woah, lemme say that new review template looks sweet in action! Good review, and great little program too. smiley

- Oshyan
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tomos
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« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2006, 05:52:53 AM »

I like this InstantBoss - its just what I've been missing - a boss Grin

What I find is I need something to tell me to work & also to take breaks.
This fits the bill nicely.

One thing I notice is:
when I get prompted to take a break & I select "work longer", it no longer prompts me to take a break. I'd like to see that included personally for two reasons:
1) I'm often surfin when i should be workin, so when i take a break I know I gotta get back to WORK instead of whatever...
2) Unfortunately, when I'm actually working, I work mostly with the mouse - if i dont take breaks I end up getting tennis elbow or whatever its called

PS thanks for the programme Apps smiley
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Tom
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2006, 04:12:32 PM »

Thanks for the great review, Josh.

The review template is looking great, too.
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Jimdoria
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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2006, 11:57:08 AM »

Very nice mini review and a cool idea for a program!

I've come across a program that is actually similar to this. I use an app called Temptaion Blocker. While it doesn't time out breaks and work periods, it will keep you from taking a break for a certain period of time by blocking access to the programs you're probably going to use on your break (like Firefox, etc.) Similar concept, but slightly different (and more authoritarian) approach to the work vs. play problem.

I don't use it nearly as often as I ought to, though  tongue
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nudone
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« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2006, 12:32:08 PM »

i was going to make the suggestion that it would be a nice idea to have a way of restricting what programs could be run on the computer. i decided against it as i think i would just fight against such a program after i'd been using it a few days/hours.

i may give 'temptation blocker' a try, so i'll thank you for mentioning it, Jimdoria. but, i think, these sort of 'negative' methods of working aren't really the right way of going about it - if it's something that is restrictive then i think it's doomed to fail in the long run.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2006, 12:57:50 PM by nudone » Logged
TucknDar
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« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2006, 12:34:48 PM »

Good review, good application.

I think InstantBoss will help me improve my efficency. Well, I hope so, at least  embarassed
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app103
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« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2006, 02:58:50 PM »

When JacobB originally made the coding snack request, he did request that it not restrict what you can do with your computer.

And when I think about this, it was a good idea not to restrict.

If I planned on using my browser on my breaks, it would be bad to restrict using it, if I also need it for work.

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Jimdoria
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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2006, 03:00:27 PM »

It's definitely a bit difficult to block programs from "play" when you also use them for work. I jut happen to use Firefox for all my "recreational" surfing while at work, and IE or Deepnet Explorer for my "business" browsing, so it works out to just block the one browser.

I find Temptation Blocker helps me, because I'm easily distracted. If some thought crosses my mind and what I'm working on is not particularly engaging, often I just can't resist hopping on the web to "just check one thing" and we all know how that can go. It serves a similar function to the Boss program because I can set it for 2 hours or so and if my mind starts to wander, I can tell myself,  "No finish this now and you can surf when the 2 hours are up." So it's a little bit like a reward system too. Just seeing warnings wouldn't do it for me. I'm too likely to just dismiss them. (I know, I've tried.)

TB does have an escape hatch built in - you can disable it at any time by typing a long string of random characters that it displays on screen. It's a pain in the neck to do this though, so I'm more likely to just keep on with my work rahter than "break out" on a whim. But if I have a legitimate need for any of the blocked programs, they are still available.

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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2006, 08:42:53 PM »

I started using a similar program (Workrave) last year, but gave it up--until today!

Basically, you get 30 seconds "micro-breaks" every 3 mins, 10 minute "rest breaks" every 45 mins, and there's a daily limit of 4hrs work time (you can change all these values).  They've also included animated stretching exercises (to relieve RSI).

My words wouldn't be able to do the program justice, so check out their screen shots.  They've put a lot of work into making this a nice-looking and very useful program.  I urge you all to check it out.

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mouser
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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2006, 08:47:21 PM »

workrave looks quite good  thumbs up
It's also open source (!).

app, you might want to check it out and see if there are any useful ideas for you.
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app103
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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2006, 11:30:48 PM »

I have looked at Workrave before. (I think it was db that told me about it, about a week ago.)

I have also taken a look at WorkPace, another RSI prevention tool.

While RSI prevention tools do seem to have something in common with Instant Boss, at first, there is a big difference between the 2:

  • RSI prevention tools try to get you to work less and take more breaks. (great for the workaholic that works to the point of it being unhealthy)
  • Instant Boss tries to get you to work more and rewards you with breaks. (great for the procrastinator that doesn't really want to work)

Now some of the charting & graphing features available for WorkPace may be able to be adapted for Instant Boss, while still maintaining it as an anti-procrastination tool. That is probably what I will go with.

I was also considering features that would make it good for the self employed that bill by the hour, allowing them to log how much work was done on a project, and to enter a rate of pay so that total billing cost can be calculated.
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« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2006, 09:11:29 AM »

And if you are getting tired of this Boss, you can vent your feelings with boss bitchingWink
Be warned of rude language, however.  ohmy
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« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2006, 09:16:21 AM »

house, lol  Grin
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tomos
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2006, 10:29:44 AM »

While RSI prevention tools do seem to have something in common with Instant Boss, at first, there is a big difference between the 2:

  • RSI prevention tools try to get you to work less and take more breaks. (great for the workaholic that works to the point of it being unhealthy)
  • Instant Boss tries to get you to work more and rewards you with breaks. (great for the procrastinator that doesn't really want to work)

I'm happily using Boss for both reasons.
but...

One thing I notice is:
when I get prompted to take a break & I select "work longer", it no longer prompts me to take a break. I'd like to see that included personally for two reasons:
1) I'm often surfin when i should be workin, so when i take a break I know I gotta get back to WORK instead of whatever...
2) Unfortunately, when I'm actually working, I work mostly with the mouse - if i dont take breaks I end up getting tennis elbow or whatever its called

I believe #1 is a big factor for a lot of people. Lets face it, if we're sitting in front of the computer & NOT working, the "Boss" isn't going to know, so if it pops up, even to say "take a break", it's still helping the work "regime".
Because of that I dont use the "work longer" option any more (cause then I'm just left alone) but use the skip break instead.. (postpone break X mins could be an option as well)

I used Workrave a good bit last winter but find I much prefer the Boss. Cant remember exactly why i stopped using it - I think it nagged a bit too much and would think i was working when at lunch or whatever & then tell me I reached my limit for the day:- nag nag   smiley
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Tom
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2006, 10:56:53 AM »

2 upcoming features I am working on right now:

  • Option to pause after a certain user specified length of system idle time and/or if screensaver is activated. (in case you forget to pause it when needed)
  • Remind user to take a break at intervals, if work longer is selected. (same 50% extension method used by the take a longer break feature)

Just give me some time and you'll have both of those. I am not that fast and feature #1 is giving me some troubles.
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tomos
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« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2006, 05:47:16 PM »

Just give me some time ...

didnt mean to put you under pressure   embarassed  smiley
(the "nag nag " was related to workrave not directed at you ... !!!!  smiley )

you have some great ideas too:
Quote
"I was also considering features that would make it good for the self employed that bill by the hour, allowing them to log how much work was done on a project, and to enter a rate of pay so that total billing cost can be calculated."

but again as i say:
 I'm happily using THE Boss as is  thumbs up
« Last Edit: August 15, 2006, 05:51:07 PM by tomos » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2006, 07:46:55 PM »

 smiley Great little program. Heard about it via anti-procrastination group!! Excellent to use with GTD style planning; Flylady style; etc etc.
I've been using it for a couple of days now and find it totally suitable to my needs. So thanks heaps for this and I'll definitely tell others about it.
A couple of things I'd like to see:
1. Many 'timer' programs have the alarm set up so that it requires to be turned off by the user. I'd find this helpful with this program, as currently it is really only effective when sitting in front of the screen. It would be more beneficial if the alarm could be set so that it could be heard around home/office in case tasks require 'away from desk' actions.
2. I'd like to see the total work to date set up so that this could be deleted. With many varied tasks usually unrelated, it is a bit useless. Ideally, it would be fabulous to have it so that the timer could be set to 'task 1/task 2/ task 3 etc' but I've no idea of programming so this could be real pie-in-the-sky stuff.
3. Ummm...cheeky but hey, worth asking. Anyone know of a palm version for this? How good would this be if it was portable too!!! Just a thought!

All in all - just love it. Thanks heaps,
Emily
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tomos
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« Reply #21 on: October 04, 2006, 02:15:57 AM »

Quote
anti-procrastination group!!
that sounds interesting ?
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Tom
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« Reply #22 on: October 04, 2006, 03:01:53 AM »

Quote
anti-procrastination group!!
that sounds interesting ?

Yahoo group based on book "The Now Habit" http://groups.yahoo.com/group/TheNowHabit/
It's helped me Wink
Emily
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app103
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« Reply #23 on: October 04, 2006, 03:09:45 AM »

1. Many 'timer' programs have the alarm set up so that it requires to be turned off by the user. I'd find this helpful with this program, as currently it is really only effective when sitting in front of the screen. It would be more beneficial if the alarm could be set so that it could be heard around home/office in case tasks require 'away from desk' actions.


I have been thinking about this. I want to be able to use it away from my pc, myself. I was thinking how great it would be to have an Instant Boss on a chain that I can wear around my neck...lol.

In the process of trying to make it more compatible with housework, without changing the code, I ran it on my kitchen PC, replacing the short wav files with full song wavs...nice & long...and turned up the speakers to the max.

Big mistake...maybe. I found a bug.  embarassed

Program will hang till the song is over and there is no way to kill the song once it starts playing. I have to fix that.  I'll also have to add a repeat option. Might even add an option to have it turn up the volume when playing the wav and restore it when it is done.  For now, if you replace the wavs, keep them short.

There will also be an option, that was requested, to pause after a certain length of system idle time in case you walk away and forget to pause it. I am still working on how to implement this effectively for 9x users where it won't suck up a lot of system resources. I have a personal commitment to 9x users till my kitchen PC dies. It's a promise I made that I won't back down from.

Quote
2. I'd like to see the total work to date set up so that this could be deleted. With many varied tasks usually unrelated, it is a bit useless. Ideally, it would be fabulous to have it so that the timer could be set to 'task 1/task 2/ task 3 etc' but I've no idea of programming so this could be real pie-in-the-sky stuff.

The total work to date is more inspirational in nature. It's supposed to show you how productive you are becoming and encourage you to keep going....same with the other total that shows the work you have done this session, although that total can be used for more practical purposes, too.

I have plans on adding options for you to define tasks and be able to select them and credit time towards them. And logging of work & break time. And charts & graphs that will show various data about what you are doing with your time...how much you have spent on various projects, etc. Also as I mentioned before, an option to set an amount for those that bill by the hour to calculate the total cost of work done on projects. (handy for the self employed)

When I add this (it won't be for awhile...it will be a lot of work) there will be a lot more control with resetting totals.


Quote
3. Ummm...cheeky but hey, worth asking. Anyone know of a palm version for this? How good would this be if it was portable too!!! Just a thought!

I am sorry. I don't own a palm and I only program for Windows. At best I might be able to provide a Linux version some day in the distant future...or possibly one for Pocket PC. (don't hold your breath though)

Quote
All in all - just love it. Thanks heaps,
Emily

I am glad you like it. It's very encouraging when someone uses your software, likes it, and tells you about it. Thanks!  cheesy
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« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2006, 03:56:21 AM »

Woo hoo cheesy
Your plans sound terrific!!  :up:Just love it! I'm recommending it left, right and centre lol!! Truly, I've had all sorts of dumb timer programs, as they were all going to make time management easier - but this one actually makes sense! All the others take ages to change and customise - this is easy and efficient. With your planned changes, well, doesn't get much better.
Also, I only see quick responses from programmers infrequently. Terrific to see that you care enough about your products.
Thanks and congratulations,
Emily
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