Monthly Archives: January 2012

Qlockwork APIs to be Officially Published

An API (Application Programming Interface) is a way to get access to Qlockwork data from other applications.

Qlockwork provides 2 standard interfaces that can be used to access our data

1 – The Qlockwork activity data in Outlook is all held in standard Outlook AppointmentItems. This means that you can access the data using ordinary VBA scripts and macros using Microsoft’s Outlook Object Model.

2 – You can export the data in .csv files (comma separated files) on a schedule. .csv files can be read by Excel, but they can also be imported into databases using standard middleware or import software such as Microsoft SSIS.

Recently, several customers have told us about the interesting integrations they have done between Qlockwork and other systems.

This has got us very enthusiatic about what individual clients can achieve in systems built around Qlockwork. We have therefore decided to  document our APIs and set up some pages that will describe some of the innovative integration work that’s going on and how to go about doing it.

If any of you have done any integrating we would love to hear from you. Just drop us an email.

If Only Writing Word Documents were an Olympic Event

Recent research in smallbusiness.co.uk suggests that UK SMEs aren’t yet geared up to really make money from the Olympics.

We don’t think we are likely to see a big boost in Qlockwork sales from the Olympics. If only updating Excel spreadsheets became an Olympic event, Qlockwork would be a great training tool. It makes us think we should run our own “office Olympics”. Events would include: “Minimum time you can spend in Facebook to make a Facebook update” that’s a tricky one.

High Fat Diet Potentially Linked to Neuron Injury

An interesting article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation describes recent experiments on the effect of a high fat diet on rats and mice and, to a more limited extent, humans.

The interesting result was that consumption of a high fat meal (>60% fat) appeared to have the almost instant effect of causing inflammation and damage to the hypothalamus. Although after one meal the brain would heal itself, the healing became more limited on long term repetition.

I’m already regretting the buttered toast for breakfast.

Their summary “we report that, in rats and mice that are susceptible to DIO, consumption of a HFD rapidly induces neuron injury in a brain area critical for energy homeostasis. Although local responses appear to limit this injury, recovery is transient, eventually giving way to chronic inflammation, neuron loss, and reactive gliosis. Extending these findings is MRI evidence for gliosis in the hypothalamus of obese humans. Collectively, this work identifies a potential link between obesity and hypothalamic injury in humans as well as animal models.”

Office 15 aka Office 2012 or is it Office 2013?

There’s much speculation on-line about the release date for Microsoft’s beta preview of the next version of Office, widely known as Office 15. It may even be available later this month.

We’ll be testing Qlockwork with the new version of Outlook as soon as we can get our hands on it and we’ll keep you up-to-date with what we see. Outlook 2010 was a major change in look and feel, which we like. We’re rather hoping the next version of Outlook isn’t wildly different!

A Day Without Wikipedia

At Qlockwork we support the campaign against the SOPA legislation (badly thought through US legislation to cut off sites that are claimed to host copyrighted material, with little chance for appeal).

At Qlockwork we are IP producers, not IP consumers so we should support SOPA but we don’t, for 2 reasons

  • Who will watch the watchers? We really don’t like the idea that websites can be blocked with very limited ability to appeal.
  • Security. The way that SOPA is proposed to work would make it very difficult to make the internet more secure.

At this point, we consider internet security a more important issue to us all than copyright. We need to find another way to protect copyright.

Time Management Coaches

I recently looked at a new website under construction for the impressive German time management coach Julia Thrul, who has very kindly given us feedback on Qlockwork in the past. One of her pages is on doing business in Germany  and it reminded us that though Qlockwork does very good business in Europe, a German and French version of the website would be an excellent idea.

Boost for UK Women in Boardrooms in 2011

Close to 100 women were appointed to the boards of UK FTSE 100 and 250 companies in 2011 according to a Guardian article this week. This means that 15 UK companies have achieved UKGov’s goal of 25% female directors.

Only 10 FTSE 100 companies now have all male boards and apparently they are predominantly mining companies.

It’s Only Human to be Bad at Statistics

This BusinessWeek picture made us laugh, but it’s apparently only human to be bad at statistics.

I’ve just finished an excellent book by Nobel-winner Daniel Kahneman called “Thinking, Fast and Slow” (reviewed by the Financial Times) in which he covers 40 years of his own research into psychology and our human ability to understand statistics and make “rational” economic judgments.

In fact, Kahneman won the Nobel prize for Economics  for his work, which suggests humans are not the rational agents that most economists assume – we don’t appear to have a correct intuitive grasp of statistics, although we often believe we do.

The book is very accessible and certainly worth a read.

Websites That Fine You for Gym-Dodging

Many of us need a nag to exercise. What about a fine if you don’t? According to the BBC, quite a few services have appeared in 2011 that are based on using money to force you to stick to your commitments. They take several approaches.

On GymPact, you make a bet on your gym attendance that week and if you meet your goal (confirmed with GPS) they pay you. If you don’t, you lose your bet.  

With 21 Habit you pay the site $21 up front and agree to do something every day for 3 weeks. For every day you do it, you get $1 back.

Our favourite idea though is StickK. Based on research by Yale economists, at StickK you can nominate a group or charity you particularly don’t agree with. For example, if you were a U.S. Republican it might be the Democratic party. If you were a Scottish Nationalist it might be the British Conservative Party. If you don’t meet your commitment, then the money you put up goes to them. We suspect that really works. Interestingly, we’ve just checked their site and they aren’t pushing the anti-charity angle. Maybe it works, but doesn’t sell very well. 

 

Time Tracking Software Top 10 Features to Look For

Unsurprisingly, we think a lot about time tracking software here, that’s what we do after all.

Here’s what we think are the top features we care about in a tracking application.

  1. Really easy to use. Otherwise you just won’t keep it up to date.
  2. Easy to back up your data. If you are using the data for billing, you absolutely don’t want to lose it if your PC blows up (Qlockwork does this by storing the data in Outlook, but other tools should do this for you too).
  3. Learnable. It should be intuitive to learn.
  4. Secure. Again, if this is your billing data you want to make sure it stays under your control. Either in your systems or a cloud service you trust.
  5. Reportable. You need reports and at least an Excel export.
  6. Projects. You need to be able to assign time to projects – that was our most used feature straight away.
  7. Outlook meeting tracking and reporting. We didn’t spot how important this was at first but it has turned into another very popular feature of our time tracker.
  8. Supported. Ideally nothing would ever go wrong, but sometimes it does and then you want someone to answer your emails!
  9. Good looking. Steve Jobs wants all tech to be lickable and I tend to agree. It’s got to look nice, the way Office looks nice or a good website. It may be shallow but you’ll be looking at those icons every day for years.
  10. Reliable. Last, but most important of all, it has to work and you have to be able to rely on it all the time.