Announcing Switch 1.7 for BlackBerry

This new version of Switch, our highly-rated time-tracking app for BlackBerry, is a quality-focused release, and includes several importance product improvements as follows:

Issue: Under certain, rare circumstances, Switch would refuse to close, requiring a device reset.
Resolution: The source of this issue was identified and corrected. Additional enhancements were made to ensure that it is always possible to close the app.

Issue: Due to improper handling of categories associated with tasks, reports would not display correct information when certain categories were selected in the program options.
Resolution: An issue with the way category information was updated in the program database was identified and corrected. This resolved the category-related report issues.

Issue: For CSV report files, the values in the duration field were represented as whole days only.
Resolution: The duration field values can now include fractional day values as well.

Issue: On certain BlackBerry devices with BBM 5.0 installed, some BBM 6.0 modules may be present. This caused Switch to incorrectly determine that BBM 6.0 was installed. Subsequent attempts to communicate with BBM 6.0 would result in program hangs.
Resolution: The BBM version detection functionality was enhanced to handle this unusual situation.

Issue: The BBM Integration program option would not save correctly.
Resolution: The option now saves properly, so BBM integration can be enabled/disabled as desired.

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Switch Tips & Tricks – Calendar History

Switch™ is a BlackBerry® smartphone app for managing work-related tasks and for tracking the time spent on those tasks. It is geared toward professionals who need to track their time for billing or project management purposes. This article is part of a series providing tips & tricks for maximizing the power of Switch™.

Did you know that Switch™ integrates with the BlackBerry® Calendar app? As you switch tasks throughout the day, Switch™ optionally records your work activities as events in the calendar. This provides a nice time-based view of how your time has been spent. Following is an example of how these work activity events appear in the calendar (Day View is shown).

You can open any of the events to view further details such as the comments you entered while working on the task. Switch™ records these calendar events with the time marked as “free” so they will not interfere with meetings or appointments you have scheduled.

If you would prefer not to have Switch™ record your work activity in the BlackBerry® calendar, simply disable the “Calendar History” setting under Program Options.

Using the BlackBerry® Desktop Software program, you can synchronize the task list used by Switch™, as well as the calendar events created by Switch™ with your desktop organizer (like Microsoft® Outlook). This is a great way to leverage the benefits of a desktop computing environment for managing and viewing your Switch™ tasks and work history. For instance, you may find it easier to create tasks in your desktop organizer program, and then synchronize them with your BlackBerry® smartphone so you can record work on them in Switch™. Also the larger screen of your desktop computer may be more suitable for viewing and analyzing your work history in your organizer’s calendar function.

If you are already using the BlackBerry® Desktop Software program, it may already be set up for synchronizing your Calendar and Tasks. If not, or if Switch™-created events are not being synchronized, then the following steps may help guide you with setting this up. These instructions are for the most current version of BlackBerry® Desktop Software for Windows at the time of this writing. The steps may vary somewhat on different versions of this program, or on other operating systems.

After installing the BlackBerry® Desktop Software program and configuring it to work with your BlackBerry® smartphone, you can begin to configure synchronization of organizer data by selecting “Organizer” from the list on the left-hand side of the screen. You should see a screen similar to this:

Press the “Configure settings…” button. You should then see a screen like the one below. Select the “Calendar” item and click the “Setup…” button.

Next, you will need to select the desktop organizer application that you would like to synchronize the calendar with. Choose the desired application from the list and press the “Next >” button.

For the synchronization options, in most cases, the “Two way sync” option is the best choice. If you wish to view Switch™-created calendar events in your desktop organizer, then the only two viable options are “Two way sync” or “One way sync from device”. Pick the desired synchronization option and press the “Next >” button.

If synchronizing with Microsoft Outlook, then you will have a few additional options to set. Other organizer programs may have different options available. Since Outlook can support multiple users, you may need to choose which user’s calendar that you would like to synchronize with.

The most important option on this screen is the “Calendar date range”. This must be set to “Transfer all scheduled items” in order for all Switch™-created events to be synchronized.

Once the options are set as desired, press the “Next >” button to continue. Then click the “Finish” button to complete the setup of calendar synchronization.

If desired, continue to setup Tasks synchronization. The steps to do this are very similar to those for the calendar synchronization, so I won’t cover them in detail here. Once the synchronization options are all set, return to the main screen of the BlackBerry® Desktop Software program. Test the synchronization by pressing the “Sync” button in the lower right corner of the screen. You may be prompted several times to confirm synchronization changes. Use the “Details” buttons to view information about the pending changes, and then use the “Accept” and “Reject” buttons to approve or decline the changes.

Confirm that the calendar synchronization worked by opening the calendar view in your desktop organizer program.

The calendar history feature of Switch™ provides yet another great way to view how your time is spent, while desktop synchronization further expands the viewing possibilities.

Other articles in this series:

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Switch Tips & Tricks – Summary Reports

Switch™ is a BlackBerry smartphone app for managing work-related tasks and for tracking the time spent on those tasks. It is geared toward professionals who need to track their time for billing or project management purposes. This article is part of a series providing tips & tricks for maximizing the power of Switch™.

After using Switch™ for a while, eventually you will probably want to see a report of how your time has been spent. One of the main report types available in Switch™ is called a Summary Report. This report provides a view of the time tracked in Switch™ for a given period of time, broken down by task. The tasks will be listed in descending order of total time. To view a summary report, choose the “Summary Report” menu item from the main Switch™ task screen. This will display a report similar to the one shown below:

The time period for the report can span a single day, week, month or year. The example report above is a Daily Summary Report for the single day of December 16, 2010. To view the report for a different day, you can swipe left or right on the touchscreen, trackpad or trackball. For the touchscreen, swiping to the left will move forward one time period (a day in this example), and swiping to the right will move backward on time period. The swipe directions are reversed for the trackpad and trackball (right to go forward, left to go backward). Another way to view the report for a different day is to use the “Go To Day” menu item. This will display a date picker where you can select any desired date. To display a summary report for a time period other than a single day, choose “Weekly Summary”, “Monthly Summary” or “Yearly Summary” from the menu on any summary report screen.

Switch™ provides a number of options that control how the time values are displayed in summary reports. These report options are all available on the Switch™ Options screen.

  • Report Units – Controls the display format and time units of time values
  • Work Day – Defines the length of a work day
  • Work Week – Defines the length of a work week

The “Report Units” option has the most visible impact on how time values are displayed. It has three possible settings:

  • Whole – Displays time values in one or two whole numbers each with time units (like 1h 30m)
  • Hours:Minutes – Displays time values in hours and minutes (like 1:30)
  • Decimal – Displays time values with a decimal number and a time unit (like 1.5 h)

For the “Report Units” settings that display time units (Whole and Decimal), the following time unit abbreviations are used:

  • y – Year
  • M – Month
  • d – Day
  • h – Hour
  • m – Minute
  • s – Second

For Whole and Decimal settings, Switch™ will attempt to use the largest time unit that would result in a primary value greater than or equal to one. For example, a time value of 75 minutes would be displayed as 1h 15m in Whole format or 1.25 h in Decimal format. A time value of 45 minutes would be displayed as 45m in both Whole and Decimal formats. The example Daily Summary above shows time values in the Whole format, while the one below shows the same time values in the Decimal format.

The “Work Day” and “Work Week” options control how time values are interpreted. The “Work Day” option specifies the number of hours that make up a typical work day. For example, if “Work Day” is set to 24 hours, then the time value of 600 minutes will be displayed as 10h. However, if “Work Day” is set to 8 hours, then the same time value will be displayed as 1d 2h (Whole) or 1.25d (Decimal). Similarly, the “Work Week” option specifies the number of typical working days in a week. Assuming “Work Day” is set to 8 hours, and “Work Week” is set to 7 days, then a time value of 2880 minutes would be displayed as 6d. If the “Work Week” was changed to 5 days, then the same time value would be displayed as 1w 1d (Whole) or 1.2 w (Decimal).

The “Hours:Minutes” setting of the “Report Units” option differs from the other settings in that it always displays time values in consistent time units (hours and minutes). It is unaffected by the “Work Day” and “Work Week” settings. For instance, a time value of 2885 minutes would be displayed as 48:05, representing 48 hours and 5 minutes.  The same Daily Summary report as in the previous examples is shown below with the “Hours:Minutes” setting for time values.

Viewing your summary reports within Switch™ is great and useful, but someday you may want to share a report with someone else or export the report data for further analysis. Fortunately, Switch™ provides a simple way to do both. From any Summary Report screen, choose the Forward As menu item. This will present you with two options: “Email” and “PIN”. Either choice will allow you to send a plain-text version of the report to one or more of your contacts. Both choices will also allow you to select one or more time periods for the report. However the “Email” option provides some additional capabilities, including a nicely formatted HTML version of the report and a .CSV file attachment containing the raw data for the report. Following is an example HTML version of a summary report for a single day.

While the Switch™ Summary Report screens display one time period at time (a time period can be a day, week, month or year), forwarded summary reports can span multiple time periods. When forwarding a Daily Summary Report, you can select a range of days. For a Weekly Summary Report, you can select a range of weeks, and so on. When more than one time period is selected for a forwarded report, the generated report will begin with a summary report that covers the entire selected time range. This is then followed by individual summary reports for each time period within the selected range.

As an example, if a Daily Summary report were forwarded as an email, with a date range spanning seven days from Sunday through Saturday, the resulting report would contain a total of eight summary reports. The first would summarize all tasks worked on during that week, while the remaining seven would summarize tasks worked on each day that week.

As you can see, Switch™ provides a wide array of options for creating and sharing reports that summarize how your time has been spent. In upcoming articles, I’ll discuss further ways you can view and share your tracked time using Switch™.

Other articles in this series:

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