Common Qlockwork Questions

I was just writing this out for a prospective customer. Made sense to post it here too.

How does Qlockwork work?

-Qlockwork comes in 2 parts: an application that runs all the time (see the Qlockwork icon in the system tray) and an addin to view your data in Outlook. This means that Qlockwork always records your activities even if Outlook isn’t running.
-The desktop application monitors what application you are currently working on (is in the foreground and you are typing into or clicking on). If you are moving between multiple windows/applications on your desktop then for each tracking period (2,5,6 or 10 minutes as selected) Qlockwork will decide which application you’ve used the most and track your time against that.
-Qlockwork only tracks your time if you are using your PC. If you are away from your desk and not using the mouse and keyboard it will not track your time.


So shouldn’t I always track at 2 minute intervals as that will be more accurate?

-It depends how you work. 2 minute intervals work well if you constantly switch between applications and spend very little time just sitting and thinking. We tend to find that 5 minutes (the default) is ideal for work where you may write for a bit, then spend a while thinking, then write again. For example, when writing or reading documents, composing spreadsheets or using something like autocad.
-We have customers who use all the different time intervals, they just choose what works best for them.


Does it track any application?

-Basically yes. Almost all applications interact with the Windows operating system in the same (standard) way. Qlockwork then talks to the operating system directly to find out what you are doing.
-Usually about once a year one application (usually Google Chrome) changes how it works and we need to roll out a patch to Qlockwork to keep working with that application. That patch is then freely available to all Qlockwork users.


What about new versions of Windows?

•Qlockwork has been available since 2006 and we have released new versions to handle every new Windows release since then (Windows Vista/7/8/8.1) and Office (2007,2010,2013) these releases have been freely available to existing customers. Fortunately, Microsoft are usually careful not to break existing applications when they release a new OS so generally only very minor fixes are required for a new OS.


Will Qlockwork record activities on phones or Apple products?

•Unfortunately not, it will only record on Window Oses


Can you tell Qlockwork not to record?

•Yes, Qlockwork is not an employee monitoring tool and employees can turn it off if they want to, they can also exclude certain activities from their reports or they can instruct Qlockwork to only record during normal work hours. Doing this will leave an obvious untracked hole in their day, but it does mean you are not recording them against their will.


Does Qlockwork record meetings as well as activities?

•Yes, Qlockwork reports contain meetings as well as activities


What if I attend a meeting but while it’s going on I work on another project or browse the web?

•You can instruct Qlockwork to report your time as spent in the meeting and ignore the activity or vice versa or a combination of the two


Does my IT department need to get involved?

•No, Qlockwork is designed to require no involvement from your IT department. Everything happens on the desktops of the users and syncs with your existing Exchange server automatically. All you have to do is install Qlockwork on each desktop.


Where is the data stored and backed up?

•The data is all stored in a new calendar on your Exchange server. As long as your Exchange server is fully backed up the data should all be backed up.


Is the activity data secure?

The data never leaves your systems.

How to get Skype on the desktop in Windows 8.1

Yesterday I was frustratingly trying to use Skype on a Windows 8.1 machine whilst also looking at a document.  I was using the default Metro Skype that comes with Windows 8, but unfortunately that takes up the full screen and I couldn’t look at anything else at the same time. Fine on a tablet perhaps but it hardly makes use of the power of Windows to run multiple applications at once!

After some searching to find out how to fix this, it seems the answer is to install the desktop variant of Skype on the machine, then specifically launch that (you may have to deinstall the Metro version so that isn’t launched in preference by default).

The other benefit of running the desktop version rather than the Metro version is that Qlockwork will record the desktop version.




Recent installation problems resolved

We’ve just released a new version of Qlockwork to fix an installation problem on Windows 7 and 8.

The symptoms were that on a machine that Qlockwork had never been installed on before, installation seemed to work OK, but the Qlockwork tab never appeared on Outlook.

The fix was a very small change to our installation process. We suspect that a slight change to the installation code on Windows had been rolled out by Microsoft in a recent hotfix.

It should now be resolved but if anyone sees any further problems please do let us know.

Changing a vertical list to a horizontal list in Excel

Recently I found a paste option in Excel that just demonstrates that however long you use a tool you can always find a new useful feature!

I wanted to change a vertical list of cells in Excel into a horizontal one. It turned out to be very easy.

  • Just highlight the vertical set of cells you are interested in and take a copy (right click->Copy)
  • move your cursor to the cell you want to paste to, click it and select Paste Special->Transpose (the transpose button looks like two sets of data one vertical, one horizontal with an arrow between the two)

When your data is pasted in, it is swapped from vertical to horizontal (or vice versa). Very handy!



Productivity and Reading, Is Reading Paper more Productive than Reading a Screen?

Reading paper isn’t more effective than reading a screen, but you’ll stick at reading paper longer, according to an interesting study in the journal of the American Psychological Association.

The study was investigating whether readers preferred to read from a screen or a book and which was the most effective at providing information.

The research showed that under fixed study time, reading from a screen was just as effective as reading paper at transferring information successfully. However, when people were allowed to choose their own length of study, they kept studying longer if they were reading paper than if they reading a screen.

We seem to exhibit better self control at knuckling down and concentrating on paper than on screens. This may be because reading from paper is slightly less tiring. I certainly find it so, though I find a good eReader to be as easy to read as paper.


Outlook 2013 – better to buy it or get it with Office 365?

We’re currently considering whether to upgrade our default Outlook client to Outlook 2013 from Outlook 2010.

The first question is is it worth it? Outlook 2010 is pretty good.

The second question is should we buy Outlook 2013 standalone (£91 in the UK) or get it as part of the Microsoft small business premium package (£12.10/month in the UK).

Office 365 includes hosted Exchange, which we already pay for with a different vendor. Going to 365 will increase our per monthly user costs by ~£5, but save us the initial £91 for Outlook 2013.

It also means we have the effort of changing hosted Exchange providers, but I’m very unhappy with the spam filtering on our current provider so perhaps that is no bad thing. More investigation required I think.

Microsoft Outlook Journal Alternatives

Microsoft have been backing away from the Journal feature in Outlook for several years and it is officially “deprecated” (Microsoft don’t encourage people to use it anymore). So what alternatives are there? Well, we developed Qlockwork specifically because we wanted a better version of the Outlook Journal.

We wanted Qlockwork to

  • Use the excellent Outlook Calendar user interface
  • Record everything automatically, without timers
  • Record everything, not just Office applications
  • Be really simple to use, just like Outlook

We still believe it is the best alternative to the Journal for Outlook users. If you’d like to try it out and see for yourself, there is a free 10 day trial and it’s very easy to install and use. Please do give it a try.

Microsoft Excel 2010 Tip, How to Dedupe Data Easily

Excel 2010 contains a useful feature – data deduplication. In Excel you can select a column and Excel will automatically remove duplicate rows from your spreadsheet based on the value of that column.

Just create your column of data then go to the “Data” tab and click “Remove Duplicates”

Excel data deduping

Now select the column you want to deduplicate on. If the same value appears more than once in that column, then the second, third etc.. time it appears the entire row containing that duplicate value will be deleted.

Quite handy for turning a long list into something you know to contain only unique values. Of course, this doesn’t do sophisticated deduping based on similar names (Dave vs David) but it is a handy Excel feature.

Microsoft Excel tip – How to change a row of data to a column

Sometimes in Excel you want to convert horizontal data (a row) into vertical data (a column) or do the reverse and convert vertical data into horizontal data. The good news is it’s very easy.

  • select the data you want to convert from horizontal to vertical
  • right click and select Copy
  • now go to a new cell where you want your converted data to appear
  • right click and choose the special paste option “transpose”

  • Your data should be pasted into the spreadsheet the other way round.


Qlockwork Time Tracking for Outlook Tips – How We Tell When You are Away

Qlockwork is a tool for automatically tracking time spent at your PC in Microsoft Outlook. We are often asked if Qlockwork just always tracks your open applications or if it can tell which application you are working on and whether you are actively working on it or away from your PC having a coffee!

The good news is that Qlockwork can tell and it only tracks the application you are actively working on. It does this by talking directly to Windows using something called the WinAPI (Windows Application Programming Interface). Through this Qlockwork can talk to your mouse and your keyboard to find out if you are still there and which applications you are using, so it just tracks the time you are active.

If you’d like to know more, just give Qlockwork a try, it’s very quick and easy to set up.