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Old 04-11-2005, 06:00 PM
Don Tolson
Thoughts Media Review Team
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 749
Default Punchin' In -- Time Recording with Project Clock CE

<img src="" /><br /><br /><b>Product Category:</b> Time Recording Software<br /><b>Manufacturer:</b> <A HREF = "" target = "blank"> CyberMatrix Corporation, Inc.</A><br /><b>Where to Buy:</b> <A HREF = "" target = "blank">CyberMatrix</A> <br /><b>Price:</b> $10.00 USD.<br /><b>System Requirements:</b> Requires a Pocket PC running Windows CE. <br /><b>Specifications:</b> NS Basic Runtime (required to run Project Clock CE, and available via download from CyberMatrix) requires 2.2M of Main Memory. Project Clock CE requires 123K. Microsoft ADOCE is also required, but should come within the Pocket PC operating system. (My iPAQ 2215 ROM 1.10 had one .dll file missing) A limited trial version is available.<br /><br /><b>Pros:</b>
  • <li>Inexpensive;<br /><li>Fully integrated with a Desktop Version.
  • <li>Interface needs some customization to make it Pocket PC friendly;<br /><li>Limited Reporting capability in the Pocket PC module;<br /><li>No Project/Client/Task relationships (all tasks available to all projects/clients);<br /><li>No Expenses recording.
<b>Summary:</b> Project Clock CE is the Pocket PC time recording module of a project time entry system developed for the desktop Windows platform. The goal is to provide a mechanism for Pocket PC owners to record their time spent on a project, then upload it to the Windows server version.<br /><br />Read on for the full review!<!><br /><PAGEBREAK><br /><span><b>Introduction</b></span><br />I came across a description of Project Clock CE while browsing another iPAQ-related site. Always intrigued by the possibility of finding an easier way to record time spent on my various clients, I thought Iíd take a closer look.<br /><br />Project Clock is a suite of applications developed by CyberMatrix primarily for the desktop Windows environment, for professionals such as lawyers, consultants, engineers, contractors and project managers to record and report on client/project-related work. The suite includes a network version, an Internet-enabled client/server version, and a web-browser enabled version. Project Clock information can be exported to QuickBooks, which would be a major boon for small business owners.<br /><br />Modules are also provided for mobile staff to input their time on Pocket PC or Palm powered handhelds. Once back from the site, they can synchronize/download their information to the central server. For this review, Iíll focus on the Pocket PC module.<br /><br /><span><b>Installation</b></span><br />CyberMatrix provides a limited functionality trial version of Project Clock CE<A HREF = "" target = "blank"> from their website,</A> which handles up to two projects, clients and tasks. The download uses the familiar Activesync install routines, initiated from the Desktop PC. Two modules are required for the Pocket PC version. The first is NS Basic Runtime, which is available from CyberMatrix. It should be installed first, requires approximately 2.2 megs of RAM, and must be installed to main memory to work properly. As is normal for me, I did a soft reset after installing this module before proceeding with installation of Project Clock CE. Project Clock CE is quite a bit smaller, only requiring 123K of RAM and because it was so small, I decided to install it to main memory as well.<br /><br />According to the documentation which came with the package, Microsoftís ADOCE (ActiveX Data Objects for the Windows CE)is also required, but should come with the Pocket PC operating system in ROM. On my iPAQ 2215 with ROM 1.10 installed, I kept getting a message about an ADOCE-related .dll file missing. When I sent a message to CyberMatrix about my problem, they responded very quickly with the missing file, which I copied to the \Windows directory and the problem was quickly resolved. This file is also available from CyberMatrixís download website.<br /><br />After installation, youíll notice two new icons in your Programs folder.<br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 1: Project Clock icons in the Programs folder.</i><br /><br />Iím not exactly sure what the Register Runtime icon does, since itís not described in any of the documentation. I tried tapping it and got a couple of messages regarding RegisterServer succeeding. It didnít seem to make any difference to the operation of Project Clock CE whether this was done or not. I suspect it has something to do with NS Basic Runtime.<br /><br />Tapping the Project Clock icon brings you right into the main time-recording screen in Project Clock CE.<br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 2: Initial, time-recording screen of Project Clock CE.</i><br /><PAGEBREAK><br /><span><b>Setting Up</b></span><br />Before you start recording time, youíll need to set up something to record time against! I have to admit that I had a bit of difficulty getting things set up in Project Clock CE to work for me. First of all, there was the problem with the missing ADOCE .dll, which I thought was my fault in not installing or initializing the product properly. Once we got that all straightened out, I was able get to the Add Client/Project/Task screens through the Data Manager menu option.<br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 3: Adding a client in Project Clock CE. The same process is used for Projects and Tasks.</i><br /><br />Without reading the manual, I was able to guess that the buttons on the bottom of the screen provide record-by-record navigation through the contents of the database and the function of most of them (beginning of file, previous record, next record, end of file, add record, delete record). But I couldnít figure out what the tilde (~) meant, nor could I get a record to actually add to the database, no matter what sequence of buttons I used. OK, back to the manual. I hate to admit defeat like that, but I was stumped! :helpme: Well, it turns out that adding a record is actually a two-step process. First, you tap on the + button to get a clear record. Then, after filling in the information in the fields, you tap the ~ (accept change/modify) button to update the record with the new information.<br /><br />Unfortunately, CyberMatrix has fixed the position of the buttons at the bottom of the screen, so every time you access an input panel to put information in the fields, the buttons are covered up.<br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 4: The Record Navigation buttons are hidden by the Input Panel.</i><br /><br />Thus, there was a lot of button tapping required to get in a couple of clients, projects and tasks for testing. According to the documentation, when Project Clock CE is synchronized with the desktop version, all this information is automatically loaded.<br /><br />Project Clock CE does not support an imbedded hierarchy of Clients, Projects and Tasks. Thus, any Task can be applied to any Project which can be attached to any Client. This can be advantage when you have similar tasks that you carry out on a number of projects (such as Project Management, Business Analysis, or Document Review). But it means you have to be careful when you make selections during time recording.<br /><PAGEBREAK><br /><span><b>Recording Time</b></span><br />Recording of time has been designed around the Ďpunch in/punch outí paradigm for most use. First, you select the appropriate date, client, project and task. Having the Calendar gadget and dropdown boxes associated with the fields was a big plus for me, since it made things a lot easier.<br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 5: Calendar gadget provided for setting the date.</i><br /><br />When you start work, you tap the 'Iní button, and then tap the ĎOutí button when you're finished with that task. Project Clock CE then calculates the time to allocate to the specified task. You can also add any comments to the entry to provide more detail (a specific module being completed, or extra work required).<br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 6: Adding Time via the Punch-In/Punch Out method.</i><br /><br />I tend to work on many things simultaneously, then parcel out the working day into appropriate portions for each task. So, the punch-in/punch-out paradigm doesnít really work for me. Fortunately, Project Clock CE also provides an Add Hours function (from the Tools menu).<br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 7: Adding Hours directly to a project.</i><br /><br />The interface here is a little kludgy, as there is little description on the screen of how to input the hours (in decimal format, so 2 hours 30 minutes is input as 2.5 hours) and a space is used to separate text to be added as a coment. It's covered well in the downloadable manual, but I would have preferred to see two separate entry fields. Note though that if you use this method of entry, it will assume that the Start Time is midnight (00:00) and the end time is whatever duration you provided. This could look a bit weird in the desktop reports, unless there is a default start time for each day.<br /><br />A Time History function is also provided (from the Data Manager menu) which will allow you to scroll through all of the records in the database one at a time, and make any changes you require.<br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 8: Time History Screen.</i><br /><PAGEBREAK><br /><span><b>Reporting</b></span><br />As mentioned above, Project Clock CE is meant to provide a time-recording module for people using a Pocket PC. Thus, the reporting capabilities in Project Clock CE are limited, leaving the majority of reporting capability to the desktop/server version. Project Clock CE does provide two reports however.<br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 9: Reports available from the Tools/Reports menu.</i><br /><br />CyberMatrix has provided the capability to selectively report on a range of dates, however there isnít an ability to produce reports for a specific client, project, or all occurrences of a task.<br /><br />The Summary Report (shown below) provides a single line per entry of each record between the selected dates. It shows the basic information about the entry, including the date, Client, Project, Task, and number of hours booked.<br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 10: Project Clock CEís Summary Report.</i><br /><br /><img src="" /><br /><i>Figure 11: Project Clock CEís Detail Report.</i><br /><br />The Detail Report shows the full contents of each of the fields for each of the recorded entries. Unfortunately, I didnít see any way to export these reports to a file for storage, nor to print them off.<br /><br /><span><b>Support</b></span><br />There is no online documentation or help provided with Project Clock CE, but CyberMatrix does provide a <A HREF = "" target = "blank"> downloadable 11-page manual.</A> Over half of the manual is devoted to purchasing options and the license agreement, but the remainder provides a good description of how to use the CE version of the product. There are a couple of instances where they talk about pressing a MENU button which had me a bit confused, though.<br /><br />Throughout the development of this review, the people at CyberMatrix were very prompt (usually responding within an hour or so of my email) and very helpful. This is a very good sign for a piece of software so critical to these types of businesses.<br /><br /><span><b>Conclusions</b></span><br />As I mentioned at the top of this review, my focus here was on just the Pocket PC module, so I didnít spend any time looking at the capabilities of the Desktop server versions of Project Clock. While the Pocket PC module gets the job done in terms of providing a mobile solution for recording time, it really needs to be used in conjunction with the entire suite, rather than as a standalone solution.<br /><br /><i>Don is an Associate Director of Systems Development and Project Management with Fujitsu Consulting. As a full-time consulting Project Manager/Systems Architect, heís constantly looking for ways to get out of the drudgery of weekly timesheet submission and reconciliation.</i>
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Old 04-16-2005, 11:59 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 8

hm.. did someone get paid to write this?
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Old 04-17-2005, 02:00 AM
Darius Wey
Developer & Designer, News Editor Emeritus
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 12,959

Originally Posted by j0dan
hm.. did someone get paid to write this?
j0dan, in case you're wondering how things operate around here, under no circumstances (and I do stress that point), do any of our reviewers get paid (by anyone) to write reviews.

Reviews are written purely because of the reviewer's interest in the product. Their evaluation of the product is published so readers like yourself can gain some sort of idea as to what the product is about and whether it's worth purchasing.
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