27 May 2007

#22. It’s About Time

At Jonathan’s Tool Bar & Grill, we value time over all things. In previous entries, I reviewed a variety of helpful time-saving and time management utilities. This week I tell you about two great, but very different, ways to keep track of time.

Keep Track of Your Time

As a freelance writer and consultant, I must keep careful track of every hour I spend working for clients (every tenth of an hour, actually). I have been doing this with TraxTime shareware for many years. TraxTime is a software punch clock. You create a project – essentially, just a name for what you’re working on and optionally, a billing code – and then punch in and out when you work on it. You can also attach a memo to each in/out entry. Here is a sample punch clock screen, with a memo alongside it:

TraxTime keeps a running total of your time on each project and in total. The ultimate purpose, of course, is to bill for your time. So you can set up customized screen, file, or printed reports for any time period and any selection of projects, totaling the time in various ways. TraxTime also can create a comma-delimited text file of your time data. Here are some of the report layout options:

TraxTime is highly configurable. And you can freely modify earlier data. However, it is not perfect yet, not even the new version 5 that was recently released (with Vista support). My main beef is the inability to search through memo text.

TraxTime’s standard version costs $39. The manager’s version enables you to combine individual users’ time sheets into merged reports, and costs $59. Download a 30-day trial copy from http://www.spudcity.com.

If you’re looking for a no-cost alternative, one that has caught my attention is Timesheet Xpress Free, for individual users, from http://www.timesheetxpress.com. Another is an old, unsupported version of TimeSheets Lite from http://www.timesheetsmts.com. This program can track several workers’ time in a server database, and relies on Microsoft Excel for data manipulation and reports. I have not tried either of these, and they don’t work under Vista.

When Is Passover Anyway?

The Hebrew calendar is based on lunar cycles, so Jews frequently need to look up Sabbath and holiday times. For a wonderful Hebrew calendar with lots of extras for your PC or Pocket PC, try Kaluach at http://www.kaluach.org. Here’s an example of the detailed Jewish calendar information that Kaluach can provide:

Kaluach is free, but donations are encouraged, and the author certainly deserves them.

I hope you’ll revisit my Tool Bar & Grill next Sunday and every week for more reviews of helpful software and Web sites. And I welcome your feedback in “comments” below or by email to jonathanstoolbar@gmail.com.

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  1. Thank you, Jonathan. I was just about to start looking for a Hebrew calendar for my new phone.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. I'm glad you found it helpful. That's why I write this blog!

  4. Hi
    I came to ur blog from Give Away of The Day. Your blog is very useful for small tools for enhancing our computing skills.
    Thanks for ur effort to share ur experience on tools and its availablity.
    With Regards

  5. Hi, Jonathan - we are using Pacific Timesheet software (http://www.pacifictimesheet.com) for our some users, and it has stopwatch functions, but what is the advantage of using a native windows app like the one you discuss, as opposed to a web-based one?


  6. Dear Bernie: First, my apologies for the delay in publishing your comment. I have been inundated with comment spam, and it's hard to identify the valid comments among the spam ones. I do hope you are checking back and see this, because I don't have your email address so this is my only reply.

    Anyhow, to answer your question: I can't think of any significant advantage to a local timekeeping app versus a Web-hosted one. You might worry about the safety of your data in the cloud, but a local disk really isn't any safer. A local app still works when your Internet connection goes down, but these days the Internet is almost always available.

    I use TraxTime because I haven't found another local or Web app that provides the functionality I want. If I find a Web-hosted app I like better than TraxTime, I certainly would consider switching.

    I think I might already have checked out Pacific Timesheet, but I'll look it over again. Thanks for the tip!

  7. Thanks Jonathan for sharing this tool. As a business entity we had been using Replicon's time tracking software which is a pretty hassle free webtool. Nice calendar view reporting interface and great features.