I’m always on the lookout for cool software to help me do whatever it is I am doing. A while back I mentioned F.lux which I still love. Even more so ’cause it is free.*
Right now I am trying a 30 day trial of a software called TimeSnapper. It is helping me to take a look at just what I do sitting here all day and how much of it is crap vs actually being productive. It works by keeping track of what program is active (so if something is shrunk down to the taskbar, it isn’t tracked) and by taking screenshots at intervals you specify. The default was once every 30 seconds but I changed it to every 60sec ’cause, really, I’m not that busy. You can then play back the screenshots for the day. Which is kinda cool if you’re playing a jigsaw puzzle game. You can see the image slowly fill.
This is the window that opens so you can decide what to look at.
Here’s my statistics for this month so far. Keep in mind that I do stop the recording frequently and it does not record (time plus the screenshot) when the system is idle (I assume it goes by when the screensaver is on) nor does it if the image is the same as last time. So if I leave a window up while making my lunch, it won’t keep taking snapshots and I can’t up my productivity score by leaving OpenOffice up all the time. As you can see, I far too much time playing games and surfing the ‘net.
This is the view of the day and where you can see at a glance the productivity level. This is also where you can “play back” your day. (click image for larger version). I was 34% productive so far today (more on how it determines productivity in a bit). At the top, the green line indicates productive time, the red is un-productive and the blanks are either when it was idle or I had it off. You can slide the little arrow (orange arrow at beginning of green bar) to fast forward or to select a particular time frame.
You can click the ‘configure’ link under the productivity score to choose which programs you want to consider productive and which are not. The section on the left a list of every program I have opened and nearly every website I have visited in order of frequency of use (it does not track anything while not recording so my porn sites aren’t in the list). I can select any of them and send them to the right side (pun not intended) to be considered productive. These show up as green in the bar image above.
This is where I can enter in keywords that will be considered productive. The words are located in the title bar of whatever screen I have open. I’m not sure of the purpose of this except it catches stuff you may not have put in the screen before. For example, I could put the word “FICTION” in and anytime that word appears in the title bar, it is counted as productive time. Like if I am doing research and visiting a series of websites. The title bar is what appears at the very top of a website or program. The second image below is their example. You can go back to the previous screen (image above) and select the sites so they are considered productive and the productivity score would change. However, that would make your list rather long and complicated so keywords work best. I’m not sure if you could enter in the keywords later (like when I was researching cryrogenics) and it change the productivity score.
The program also is capable of filling out timesheets if you use one on a computer. This would work out if you are tracking time spent on a billable project. Since I don’t use that kind of stuff, I don’t know how or how well it works. It also uses flags somehow but I’m not sure how that works or why. You’d think it would take up a lot of hard drive space with all those images but there’s ways to fix that. You can change the quality of the image (low quality uses less space); how long to archive images (I have it set to clean out anything older than 14 days); how often to take and image; and others. There’s tons of options.
You can right click the icon in the tray to access most of the options including stopping and re-starting the recording. I moved mine to the visible section of the taskbar so I can easily do this.
Overall, I am really liking the program. It is showing me what I am actually doing, for how long, and how often. I’m learning a lot about my computer habits. I am also proud of myself for having OpenOffice as the second most used program. Remember, this only tracks it when it is the open, active window. Since I often leave the document open but shrunk down, this capability means I am not cheating myself. The software isn’t free but $25 isn’t bad. I’ve only been using it for ten days but so far, I think it is worth the price.
*But free reminds me of a quote I recently read.
“If youâ€™re not paying for a web service, youâ€™re not the customer, youâ€™re the product.” (Patrick Nielsen Hayden)
So now I am looking at just how these guys can afford to give away software and just what are these software makers are using from me to make a profit.