Changing Timesheets I

In my day job, I have to keep a record of hours worked, so that I can correctly fill out my timesheets at the end of each week. For the past six years I have been using Jody Sankey’s excellent “Timesheet” program on my Palm T3. Now I am looking for something similar for my new Android-powered Droid X2. And so I have been trolling through the offerings available on the Android and Amazon app stores.

There are literally scores of time sheet, time-punch, clock-in and similar apps available. You would think that seven years of progress would mean that they would all blow the creaky old Palm app into the weeds, but that has not proven to be the case.

Perhaps because of the much-ballyhooed “Zen of Palm”, the trusty old app was extremely elegant; I had set up my trusty T3 so that pressing one of the hard buttons bought up the app, and then the center button was used to clock in and out. This meant that clocking in and out was a one-handed operation that could be done without looking at the screen. Having played with dozens of Android apps I have yet to find one that works as well, and with so little effort.

My needs are simple:

  • I need something to track clockings-in and -out, and total hours worked per day and per week.
  • I need to be able to manually insert and adjust entries if I forget to clock in or out.
  • Sometimes, I forget to clock-in on time; so I need to be able to adjust the clock-in time after clocking in.
  • Sometimes I forget to clock-out when going home; so I need to be able to easily add a clock-out for the previous day without jumping through all sorts of hoops.
  • I do not need a project planner.
  • I do not need the ability to track multiple jobs at multiple locations.
  • I do not need the ability to create and maintain multiple tasks – just log the time that I am at work.@I do not need to track multiple concurrent tasks.
  • I do not need to be able to track mileage.
  • I don’t need something that tells me when it is time to go home.
  • I don’t want something that tracks overtime (OT is at standard rate)@I do not need — or want — a calculation of earnings.
  • If possible, I would like something that can accept the data from my old system.
  • It would be really nice to have widget — an on-screen button that allows me to clock-in and out quickly without having to enter the app and fiddle around while I am trying to do other things.

I am perfectly willing to pay for something that I know will work — and will pay handsomely for something that works perfectly — but one of the biggest problems with the app market is that they only have a 15-minute refund window, enforced by the app store.

For some apps, such as games, 15 minutes is more than enough to ensure that the app runs on your machine and meets your needs. For a timesheet app, that period is at least a week; given that this app has a lifespan measured in years, two weeks or a month would be better. In my opinion, that decision should not be made by the app store; the developer of the app is the best judge of how long a user needs to evaluate the program.

Some have a free version that is time-or functionality limited, and those were the first ones I looked at. None of them was as elegant as the Palm Timesheet program. My initial favorite fell out of the running after the program stopped running when the trial expired; suddenly I could not even view previous records without buying the full version — NEXT!!

Another app didn’t make the cut when I realized that I had to purchase the full version in order to manually adjust entries. Sorry boys, but that ain’t what I would call an “advanced feature”.

Still another app — one that I really liked — fell out of contention when I found that there was no way to contact the author to ask a simple question about the possibility of importing data.

So… where do we go from here? Stay tuned for the finalists and the winner.

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