tldr; We’ve added a “Activity Details” report, that presents your normal graph views of rank, over time, and productivity of all your “detailed” activities, or documents. This view is particularly useful combined with the Search word filtering tool, which now has improved results matching.
Search Improvements: Foundation for Our New Report
Our previously announced search improvements were primarily targeted at dramatic speed gains and increased reliability. As this new infrastructure stabilized, we took a careful look at how key word filtering was working for users, and considered the great feedback our users provided in conjunction with our own analysis. Then, over the last few weeks, we’ve been tuning how we can better and more intuitively match against user’s requested search parameters– for example, if you are in Word and have a long file path for the current document you are editing, the ability to search by directory, filename, file type, application type, etc. We’ve arrived now at what seems like an effective general solution for smart indexing– but we will continue to examine the results and take feedback on how it can be further improved. All together, the much improved speed combined with the more accurate results provided us the opportunity to integrate a new report into our offering, one that makes keyword reports particularly useful for exploring how you spend your life on the computer.
A side note about terms: I use both the terms “search” and “key word filtering” due to the dual purposes of this capability. We find that predominantly users use this feature (and it’s persisted cousin, Custom Reports) for the purpose of generated reports filtered against desired match results: we call this use “key word filtering” because rather than trying to find something, you are trying to generate a filtered report with a sort of ad hoc grouping. However, users also sometimes use this feature simply to aggregate / locate time for a specific item: this is the “search” use. Finally, there is a semantic case to be made that, in general, web app users are more inclined to understand at first glance what goes in this field when it is labeled “Search”, despite that not really being its primary purpose.
A New Report: The Activity Details Report for Premium Users
A much asked for feature, our new Activity Details report provides an immediate view into the time you spend on your most urgent items, no matter what application or site you are on. If you are tracking your time in a project or for a customer, or want to understand, for example, how email time figures against your favorite design or engineering tool, this is a great resource. You can filter it with keywords to narrow down the view, and you’ll get reports that graph the top documents or pages, and a table that lets you see your app/site plus its documents. Critically, before it was impossible to see all the results of search filters in one view: you could never see matching documents/details from different apps and sites expanded together, and now you can. The old activity report is now called the Activity Summary report if you want a less noisy summary.
Navigation Changes: Integrating Search / Key Word Filtering into Regular Use
In conjunction with the above changes, we’ve rationalized how the site navigation responds to your searches and key word filtering. Again, this is an attempt to combine our own analysis with your feedback, and may be tweaked over time.
- From any report view, a new search (as in, clicking the search button) lands you on the Activity Details page. This provides you with immediate feedback for quality of your search results. Non-premium users still land on the Activities Summary page.
- Clicking search on the dashboard leaves you on the dashboard, with filtered results
- Once a search is active, it becomes sticky: if you navigate to Time reports using the side navigation, or click the “view complete report” links on dashboard widgets, your current search filter is preserved
- When viewing Activity reports, the search filter is preserved for Application or Site items linked in the table results. For example, if you search for keywords like “Seattle Atlanta”, you get a list of all apps and sites that have either of those words in their name or document details; if GMail was in the results, and you clicked the item “GMail” anywhere it occurs in the app/site column, you would get a report of all GMail items with the same keywords in its subjects and details.
- To clear out a search filter from affecting your Time Report browsing, simply click “Clear Search Filter [x]” and your screen is reloaded with the filter applied, and it is removed from all navigation points.
- Note: at this time links click *inside* the graphs themselves are not preserving the keywords, we’re continuing to explore sensible behavior for this case.
Thanks for your patience and feedback as we improve RescueTime!
We’ve been working as hard as we can to address this problem, and it has required some re-design of how our search works.
The biggest changes you should see with the new search tool are:
1) Speed. It should be fast now!
2) Search only applies to activities and documents now
3) Productivity and categories are no longer searchable in the same way as actitivies.
4) The current month is searchable already, and we are building the new index going back in time– so every day more time in the past will be added, for historical reporting.
In retrospect, while key words make sense for documents and activities, it doesn’t so much for categories or productivity scores where are known and belong to a short list. You can use a categories or productivity report from the links on the right to see those results, and actually do a search “inside” them. The ability to merge category results or multiple productivities will need to wait for new filter controls, which we are planning to introduce in the future.
Those of you have Custom Reports (which are really saved searches) may need to adjust your key words for best results. Likewise, those of you who use hints in Projects may also need to adjust your keywords.
You can think of the core issue this way: when you go to Google and you do a search, you usually care only about the top results– maybe you drill a few pages to find something. When you use “search” at RescueTime, the task is very different: you are actually doing something like “give me a report of all my time that has words like this in it”.
The key distinction here is that in the first case, you only care about retrieving a few, certainly less than 100, of the all the possible results– and if you want more, you have to make multiple requests back to the server. In our case, for your reports to be accurate with total time results, you always need every possible result to be returned. Search technology for documents is pretty well understood at this point, and there are excellent tools available for use– like Sphinx and Lucene. However, search tools are designed, for practical performance reasons among others, to operate well for the Google model of search results.
When applied to our challenge, however, we have to be much more clever about how are system is designed to allow for the “give me everything that matches” idea to work.
We’re excited to announce we’re helping our best fans add new income to their bottom line. Our partner and affiliate program has been in a private beta for a while to tune the process– but we’re ready to let others join in the opportunity now, as we announce our highest earning partner from our beta program. You can get started as an affiliate easily, just checkout this simple setup guide:
ReplaceMyself.com earns highest partner payout after an experimental referral campaign effort!
Specializing in helping small and one-person businesses develop outsourced resources, ReplaceMyself.com has wrapped RescueTime up in a value-added offering called TrackLabor. As experts in our product, they are able help their clients hit the ground running and get the most from RescueTime– and that is worth a lot to us. Their clients have dived in and brought us a great new user base with lots of ideas for product advancement. As their clients continue enjoying RescueTime through TrackLabor, ReplaceMyself gets regular and recurring income from us. We’re very excited about our future potential working with our partners to help drive product development and customer engagement!
Thanks to Dan Goggins and John Jonas for their patience and careful assistance with this process. Here’s a summary of ReplaceMyself.com’s mission, with TrackLabor and RescueTime as a principal tool:
ReplaceMyself.com teaches employers how to live the 4 hour workweek by using workers in the Philippines!They not only teach employers how they can find workers for under $2 an hour, but they also give them everything they would need to do so: Two large exclusive resume databases to search through, example contracts, tasks, emails, etc.Not only that, but ReplaceMyself.com also automatically trains workers on tons of internet marketing tasks! Employees receive new training modules every month to keep them trained and busy without the employer having to create the training themselves.
(updated) v2 is now live in the market– blog update coming soon!
RescueTime for Android v2 is here– and it will serve as the template for all our mobile products. Try it out, contact us, and we’ll give you extra free Pro time.
- Fully re-designed, native interface, works offline too
- Manual / offline time tracking, fast and easy with voice input
- Landscape and tablet friendly
- Home screen is “hang on the wall pretty” productivity meter
- Tap meter to switch day / week. Long tap for forced refresh (automatic periodically).
- Send data over wifi only option
Version 1 was a proof-of-concept to show we could bring the same automatic tracking you expect from RescueTime for your computers to your smartphones. We’re happy to bring you version 2 now as a slick, full-featured, easy to use mobile app. Leaving the automatic tracking intact, we’ve overhauled everything else from the ground up with an emphasis on user experience and feature value. Chief among the advancements is simple and easy offline time tracking that can be voice driven.
Fixes and Improvements
- Call log now honors “pause” status
- Detail report moved to Android browser, for better scrolling and seamless experience
- Syncs with your desktop and website RescueTime settings (schedule and offline choice list)
- Can be re-registered without a re-install if your SIM changes
- In-app help
- Tweaks for memory and cpu efficiency
(updated) RescueTime Android 2.0 is live in the marketplace– check it out.
tldr; Animated productivity meter, offline time entry tool (with optional location sensitive suggestion wizard!), more reporting views and basic graphs, fix call log honoring pause feature, update with wifi only option…
Here’s a teaser screen shot from the working alpha version; the color gradually shifts from red to blue as you cross the 50% percentile into productive land; this will also be shrunken to a widget size for your home screen:
We’ve got a bit over a month under our belt with our Android app in the wild. We’ve been juiced up with Google IO awesomeness. We’ve got about 1000 mobile users trying us out, and climbing. Our first goal was to satisfy people clamoring for basic automatic mobile time tracking, but it’s time to start on what’s next!
You’ve been great about feedback, and we’ve had some ideas of our own. Top of the list is of course “When iOS?!!”. Well, the on-device app activity tracking has particular challenges on that platform, but we see RescueTime for Android 2.0 as an opportunity to prove the case of a general purpose tool that complements RescueTime and adds new capabilities unique to mobile devices, and can feel the same on all platforms. This allows us to progress on a parallel iOS project while tackling app tracking separately.
Key among the new features will be:
UI Redesign We’ve gone back and rebuilt the interface from the ground up to get the best performance and user experience out of Android, based on what we’ve learned.
Tracker: This tool will be a handy way to more precisely track offline or away-from-device, or whatever-you-want time. It will have a start-stop button, and way to assign what it was that can be entered as text, spoken using voice recognition, or (optionally, turn it off if you want!) “suggested” based on location data.
Better Data Views: We’ll have a Launcher widget productivity meter. We’ll be cacheing some data app-side, so you can see some results even when offline– this will also improve speed. Additionally, improvements to the UI will add more reporting perspectives.
New Preferences: You can tell RescueTime to only update data over WiFi, if you want. Also, you can decide whether or not to let us use Location information to remember offline time options (note: even when enabled, this data won’t leave your device, it’s only used locally to help out).
Errata Fixes: Call log history will now honor your pause status (calls made during pause periods will not get reported, up to a reasonable point in history). The current “update frequency” control only affects repeated updates while the device is on continuously– every time you turn your phone off, or open the dashboard, in the current design an update is sent. In v2, it will honor the frequency control here as well.
This is some of what is in the plans right now (some of it’s already coded!), not a guarantee of what’s delivered of course. Let us know what you think! Also, I’ll be posting for those interested in beta access in a week or two.
tldr; Innovation gets easier, loots = better apps sooner, look for substantial feature adds on RescueTime Android and full featured Chrome version.
Well, we’re back from Google IO. I can say, having been there three times running now– this one was rampant with the nerd herd stampeding from one awesomeness to the next like no other place on earth. Like squirrels in a nuthouse. Android momentum is, as they say, “off the chain”. Alright, I’m done with the memetheme, here’s the meat:
The best news is the claimed effort to de-splinter platform branches across all types of devices with Android, Chrome and the Chrome OS. This really will make the world easier, for a company like ours. This includes the drive for Ice Cream Sandwich release to bring phone, tablet, tv, and whatever Android device under the same tree. It lets us programmatically adapt to device capabilities inside one version of RescueTime rather than building from separate branches to separate targets. And that means you get our app on your device sooner, and likely more bug free. It also encourages us to think outside the box, by making funky lateral product spread easy, like maybe a realtime team pulse dashboard for your office lobby? or automatic coupon credits to your mobile dev for hitting goals in RescueTime?
As to the Candy Store at the Chocolate Factory: the practice of showering uberloots on attendees has its detractors, but my (possibly biased, heh) opinion is that this makes perfect sense: I was able to track down an issue with RescueTime on tablets that the emulator couldn’t help me with, in about an hour, thanks to having a tablet to test with in hand. Developers using Google tool kits get updates out faster than other platforms by virtue of Google sponsored test platform access.
Even more exciting is the chance to work on a full featured Chrome / Chrome OS version of RescueTime that will work online + offline on the browser and upcoming chromebooks. Using HTML5 and Chrome APIs *should* let us provide a seamless experience in both browser-only and full OS systems. When imagining this kind of dev effort, there’s a big difference between planning out your strategy, functional item in hand, chatting with the Google project manager and engineer who worked on the APIs, than sitting at a desk hunting StackOverflow and waiting on user group posts. It’s the fast track for good apps that a submit-a-form-lottery wouldn’t provide.
What do we expect next year? There’s an obvious collision course for Android and Chrome, I expect there to be news on that front. This kind of collapse-of-complexity innovation lets companies like us focus on what we’re trying to be best at: using data to help you understand yourself better, helping people get more done and hopefully getting them more quality play time while we’re at it, rather than tracking down the latest reason for some client feature to fail on some variously-patched desktop system on some archaic OS.
What would I ask from Google for next year? Let’s have more deep dive technical sessions. Maybe some more on linking between platforms and services (eg Chrome OS -> AppEngine). Most important for you to compete with Amazon to get the start-up pool? You need to provide some kind of migration path or toolkit for those of us with monstrous and complicated data mines. Smart, funded early startups are already past the prototype stage and can ill afford much platform layer costs. Finally, the idea of the Developer Advocate is great- build on that, and spread out geographically to get face to face outside the valley.
– Mark Wolgemuth FIRSTNAME@rescuetime.com
To top off our saucy Google IO collection, I’ve set up some industrial grade SQL drills in the data mine that finds which of you hackers are running RescueTime on their phones AND are at or are following Google IO sessions. It’ll automatically (we humans don’t peek at your data!) pick some of you and hook you up with the same lifetime(*) deal of sauce #1, sometime tonight or tomorrow morning.
We’re psyched to represent at IO this year with a new Android client. To celebrate, we’re going to welcome all new Android users who signup between May 10 and May 11 with a bonus year of Pro service. You’ve all given great support through the continuing development and improvement of RescueTime through years, and it’s payback time.
Existing Android customers: if you feel left out, just ping us by the end of the week!
This deal applies to Solo accounts.
To celebrate our foray into the mobile space, RescueTime will be serving up a few different hot sauces during Google IO.
First off the top shelf:
Find Mark (me) from RescueTime at IO and I’ll hook you up with a lifetime(*) subscription for your efforts. I’ll be tweeting (@wogg and RT @rescuetime) some hints of where I’m loitering for the interested. I won’t even nag you with marketing slime– I don’t know how to. You just need to have any active solo RescueTime account, and I can hook you up. Hint: the easy way is to just install the Android App. This promotion is effective immediately. I’m in the airport, in case you’re wondering. Cheers!
(*) our accountants hate us, so accept web Whatever.0 app reality that a lifetime = 5 years. At least it’s not in dog years!
If you have it, get it the update, if you don’t, install it!
RescueTime v1.2 for Android
We’ve just completed a significant update to our Android app, the principle new feature is Call Log syncing. All the calls in your history will be synced up to RescueTime for reporting, and going forward new calls be logged as often as you have updates configured. Also included in this update are some optimizations to reduce chattiness with the server.
PS Due to random Google cache magic some sites / phones may show v1.1 for a few more hours yet. You want v1.2.0 for the update.