Sunday, December 02, 2007

Spying on myself

I installed Rescue Time to see just how much time I week I waste at the office on blogs and newspapers. I recommend the software: it keeps track of what applications are open and active on your desktop. The advantage is that it does it automatically, so you don't need to keep time logs or anything like that. It should be especially useful for people who bill their time, like lawyers or freelance editors. There are privacy concerns, because your data is stored at their website. But the way I figure it, I'm at my office computer, and this sort of information is available to the administrators anyway. I'm already not surfing porn at work.

My one complaint is that the software seems to underestimate the amount of time any application is in use. I got off of a 50 minute conference call with some of my on-line students to find that the software had logged 10 minutes of time using the skype application. The software can't be underestimating all applications by a factor of five, though, because it logged a total of 20 computers hours for me last week, and I only spend 40-50 hours a week at the office.

So how much time to I waste at the office? If Rescue time is correct, about one hour a week on blogs (Unfogged) and forty five minutes a week at news sites (NYT and Salon). That's not bad, really. I don't do any goofing around at work that isn't on line, so the 20 hours that the software didn't register could easily be all work.

Top Apps for the week of November 25, 2007

MS Word (5 hrs 59 mins)

MS Excel (2 hrs 54 mins)

MS Outlook (1 hr 13 mins) (1 hr 3 mins) (1 hr 1 min)

Windows Explorer (52 mins 9 secs) (33 mins 43 secs) (30 mins 56 secs) (19 mins 59 secs) (16 mins 38 secs)

Update: The software is now far more accurate.


Evelyn Brister said...

So is all that time using Excel for the sake of recording grades? I've always used a pen & paper gradebook, even when I had classes of over 100 students. I was figuring that the speed of crunching the numbers at the end of the term that you would get with a computer would be offset by the inconvenience of recording. Past tense here is indicative of my tentative intention to switch.

Molly Helpychalk said...

Yeah, I use Excel for grades & attendance. My classes involve lots of little assignments, so it is really useful. The spreadsheet only takes a few minutes to set up, and if you enter all the data as you go along, it takes no more time than recording the information on paper.

Next semester I am moving to keeping grades in our course software (Angel) so that students can access them at any time, and so they get used to going to Angel routinely to get handouts and such. Ideally all handouts will be there before class starts, and I won't have to xerox them, guess the number of students that are going to show up for class, wind up with too many or too few handouts, etc.

Rob, logged in as molly

Breena Ronan said...

Looks like a useful program, but creepy all the same. Very Foucault.