Slimtimer – Another winning service

SlimtimerWhile I’m in the mood for promoting great services and products, I have to throw in a recommendation for Slimtimer. One way great businesses create meaning and a loyal following is by solving a pain better than anyone else. I believe Slimtimer has done that.

Slimtimer makes time tracking easy and painless and produces powerful reports. If the recording of your time isn’t made easy, then recording the time is usually put off to another day and the records will be mostly based off of memory and will be inaccurate. If the reports produced are not useful, then all of your effort in tracking your time will be in vain.

During my time as a web developer for BYU’s Creative Marketing department we used time sheets where we recorded how we spent our time in intervals of 15 minutes. This was usually a drab process that you “had to get done” at the end of the day. We did this on paper, and I’m not sure how well the information was actually used. It seemed like a waste of time.

In one startup company that I worked for, time tracking was completely neglected all together. This led to lots of wasted development time and left no good way for management to guide efforts in more productive tasks. It seemed that management had to make blind decisions.

Another startup I worked in tried to track time with a custom-built time tracking software, but it was so complex and difficult to use, that we often put off recording our time to the end of the week, which led to bad data. We ended up abandoning the practice of time tracking altogether.

slimtimer-timer.pngIn my current work as a freelancer, I’ve been empowered by Slimtimer’s simple time recording widget. It allows me to simply click on the task that I’m working on and the timer begins to track in the background. If I forget to start the timer, I can easily edit my entries in a beautiful time editing interface.

Slimtimer has very powerful reporting capabilities. Tasks can be tagged so you can segment your reports in the ways that you need them whether it be by ‘billable’ or ‘non-billable’, by client, or by project, or even by task. You can also share tasks and time entries with co-workers, so you can build reports for your entire team.

If you are tired of filling out timesheets, and would like to have a better understanding of how your team’s time is spent, I strongly recommend you check out Slimtimer.

[Note: I am NOT an affiliate marketer for Slimtimer.]

Web Apps As Platforms

One of the big ideas of the Web 2.0 movement is that the web browser is a viable platform for building rich applications. Common examples of this included Gmail, Writely (now Google Docs), and one of my favorites – Gliffy. This idea has been proven pretty well, and Apple has made Safari the platform for developing iPhone applications, even though there are rumors now that Apple will be opening up some kind of SDK.

A lot has happened since Web 2.0 has become a major buzz word. New trends are becoming apparent every day. One trend I think is especially interesting is that Web Apps themselves are now becoming platforms for new applications. For example, Facebook has opened up to developers to build cool apps that run in the Facebook social networking environment. The Google Personalized Homepage offers another platform for people to develop small widget applications. More companies are following.

The opening up of APIs isn’t a new concept in itself. Web services was a major push of the Web 2.0 movement and we saw a flood of ‘mashups’ that mostly didn’t go anywhere. However, web services and web app platforms are now finding value. In September, Facebook, Accel and Founders Fund launched a Facebook fund to give investment money to the most promising Facebook App ideas. Why code up a new social network application, when you can build your application inside one of the major social networking applications?

Twitter is becoming a platform for new age communication. In a “Scaling Twitter”presentation at RailsConf, Blaine shared that 90% of requests to Twitter were through their API. People are using Twitter for purposes beyond telling your friends about every mundane detail of their lives. Phil shared some ways that people are extending twitter by creating Twitterbots. Twitterbots are using Twitter as a platform to send messages through SMS, email, RSS, etc.

Seth Godin talks about his vision of Web 4.0 in an interview with Gerhard. He basically describes the web that is focused on events in your life. For instance, because you have a smart phone, and the web knows you have a meeting in San Francisco, and it knows that the plane is delayed, it will alert the people you are meeting with that you will be a few minutes late. It seems like something like this would revolve around messaging. While I doubt Web 4.0 will be exactly as Seth envisions it, the world is moving towards faster, shorter, more frequent communication. I believe Twitter is going to remain a big player in this new style of communication.

I think we’re going to see more and more web applications becoming platforms for new applications. What do you think?

Google Docs Will Eventually Disrupt the Market

Writely now proudly wears the colors of baby blue and mint green as it has officially been integrated into the Google office suite. Google Docs & Spreadsheets now houses a new image of Writely. All of the Writely functionality is still there. Your Writely documents will now appear alongside your spreadsheets. The integration is pretty clean, and of course Google added a search feature for your spreadsheets and documents.

Just like other disruptive technologies, Google Docs & Spreadsheets is unable to match all of the features and power of its old-school competitor, Microsoft Office. I highly doubt many business professionals today will be switching to Google’s office tools. However, I think Google is heading into a non-consumer market, just like PCs did in their early day.

PCs entered the non-consumer market of family and home computing, and Google is entering the non-consumer market of third-world countries. Their $100 laptop initiative will be bringing computing power to millions of people who could never afford a computer. Google has been investing in Internet infrastructure in several countries providing WiFi Internet access to impoverished areas of the world. The $100 laptops will not have much storage space, which makes the free online application model a wonderful fit. Bill Gates thinks that the computers need disk storage, but that is only necessary in the old paradigm. In 2004, Steve Ballmer thought a $100 PC would help prevent software piracy. Piracy isn’t an issue when it comes to web apps funded by advertising. You can’t pirate a web application.

Over time, Google’s office will eventually reach a level of productivity where it will threaten Microsoft’s Office. At first, the mini computer wasn’t threatened by the PC, but eventually the PC reached a level of performance where it was able to do everything that the mini computer could, but at a lower cost. Thus it disrupted the market. I see the same thing happening with web applications such as Google’s Docs & Spreadsheets.