Monthly Archives: July 2011

Changing Timesheets III: The Winner

In previous posts I have chronicled my search for a work clocking app, and of the four contenders that I have chosen. The time has come to eliminate three from the running.

I decided to choose the best by a process of elimination; I would use all four and remove the one I liked least. The winner would be the last man standing. So… for several weeks I have been clocking-in and out on four different apps. This means clocking-in four times on entering the building, and clocking-out four times when I leave. This is not as inconvenient as it sounds, since they all have widgets that I have grouped together on one screen, so the entire process takes about seven seconds.

The first to go was My Work Clock. This was the most visually beautiful of the four, and had the best interface, but the problems with the widget not updating or not working were enough to remove it from the running. This is a shame, as I really liked this app. Perhaps the biggest problem, though was that it was not possible to edit a clock-in time while you were clocked-in — you had to clock out first.

The next to to be defenestrated was Clock Card. I actually paid for this app, and the money wasn’t wasted. Unlike the vast majority of apps I tested, the author actively supported his creation.

The third — and the runner-up — was Hours Bank. The reason was simple; the author went out of his way to make himself difficult to contact, and his website was sparse to the point of uselessness. Shame, as the app was very elegant.

This leaves Time Recording as the last man standing — and the winner. This program has no fewer than three different widgets that show current status. I nearly dropped this program from my shortlist, as the widgets did not seem work as I would expect — selecting one simply invoked the program. Then I read the manual (always a good idea), and there, tucked away in a sub-menu of an obscure tab in the preferences menu, was a “widget click action” setting that allowed the widgets to work in the way that I wanted. This should have been the default behavior. The author was also very helpful in telling me how to open up the database file so that I could merge old data.

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The circle is now complete

For the first time today, I go to work with only one device on my belt – my phone.

Thanks to a timesheet app – several in fact – and a voice recorder (which I don’t use as much as I thought I would), I no longer use my PDA (a Palm T3) actively.

During the weekend I stumbled across an app called iSyncr (free trial, $3 to purchase) that allows iTunes playlists to be synced to an Android. Another app from the allowed wireless syncing (free trial, $1 to purchase). These programs are, in my opinion, easily worth twice what I paid for them.

As a result, I am listening to my ‘tunes on my phone – using another app (PlayerPro, free trial, $5 to purchase) that supports playcounts and ratings. iSyncr can sync these back to iTunes.

For less than $10 I no longer need my iPod.

Ichabod

I woke up in Tampa at 3AM this morning. I had flown in yesterday.  Just over an hour later, I was on the road, and three hours after that, I was in Titusville, on the other side of the state.

Why had I come all this way? To bear witness to the end of an era.

Ever since I was a small boy I’ve believed passionately in space exploration. Like small boys everywhere I needed heroes and mine were the brave men and women who climbed on top of rockets and launched themselves into space.

Today  the space shuttle Atlantis blasted off for the last time, and with it went America’s commitments to manned space flight.

There will be no more shuttle flights after this one, thanks to the cancellation of the 30 year old space shuttle program.

There will be no more heavy rocket launches from Cape Canaveral, thanks to the cancellation of the replacement program due to budget cuts.

There will be no more manned space flight from this country, and no more American astronauts. NASA, once a symbol of progress and a center of excellence  is now a shadow of its former self.

When its mission ends, there will be 7000 highly-skilled americans out of work. They will likely find jobs quite easily but the unique experience that they possess will be lost. So when the powers that be finally change their minds, they will have to grow their brains all over again.

I am struck by the irony: after this, if we want to put in American in space, we have to rent a seat – at a cost of over 85 million dollars – on a Russian spacecraft. Weren’t these supposed to be the folks we beat in the space race? Weren’t these supposed to be the folks we outgunned, outsmarted and bankrupted?

I am not upset because the space shuttle program has been canceled. I am upset because there is no replacement for it.

The title of this post comes from 1st Samuel 4: 21: and she named the child Ichabod, saying “the glory has departed…”