Time tracking with Toggl

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014

iuAt the end of each week I have to fill in my timesheet with a breakdown of all the projects I have been working on that week. This used to be a though exercise. I checked my calendar for meetings, scrolled through the mails I received and sent and tried to retrieve things from my own memory to make some kind of estimation for the division of the hours between all my projects and activities. broken.

Another problem was that it was pretty hard to remember how many hours I had actually worked each day. Estimating and remembering extra hours in the weekend or in the evening made this even more difficult. This method was clearly broken.

So I started to add entries in my Outlook calendar for each activity, but this only lead to a cluttered agenda overview. Also this was not fast and easily forgotten.toggl1

And that’s where Toggl came along. Toggl is an online time tracking tool that I’ve been using since the start of this year. The concept is really simple: Add the activity you are working on and press the Start button. When you start another activity, just add it and press Start again.

After entering an activity once, you can quickly reuse it by clicking it in the tracker log. You can arrange activities to projects, and projects to clients. As I only want to register the time I spend on different projects, and not on the specific activities (creating an impact analysis, meeting etc.), I choose to only use the projects and leave the activities empty.

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Posted in: Featured, Lifehacking

Search like a pro with DuckDuckGo

Posted by on Nov 16, 2014

iuI’ve been using DuckDuckGo as my default search engine for a few months now, and I’m still not thinking about going back to Google. Yes, there are other options for search, just as in the nineties! Apple recently even added DuckDuckGo as a standard search option in Safari on Yosemite and iOS 8, behind Google, Bing and Yahoo!.

My problem with Google Search is that I don’t always want search results that are tailored to me. When I want to learn more about a certain political event, I don’t want to see only the FoxNews reports as search results; I want the best results, including other opinions. This phenomenon is called the Filter Bubble and is explained in this ‘guide’. DuckDuckGo doesn’t track its users and thus doesn’t collect personal data, so the results are not user specific.


But, over time I got an even bigger fan of another DuckDuckGo feature: The !bangs. With these !bang commands you can directly search on thousands of websites, without having to visit those sites first. When I enter !a Xcelsius in my Safari search bar, I’m directed to the Amazon.com search results for Xcelsius. !yt takes me to YouTube, !imdb to IMDB.com, !bol to BOL.com and !w to Wikipedia.

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Posted in: Lifehacking

Cutting the cable: One year later

Posted by on Nov 6, 2014

In the summer of 2013 we made the decision to cancel our expensive cable subscription. We had it all: Around 100 channels from Holland, Germany, Belgium, UK and even some Spanish and Italian channels that nobody watches. Ten Discovery-like channels, several music channels, a bunch of 24/7 news channels and all the regular stuff. Of course I had the HD upgrade to watch everything in high quality. In addition we had the recorder feature upgrade, so we could pauze the broadcast and easily record shows.

Oh and I almost forgot the premium channels to watch my sports: Sport1 and FoxSports, so I could watch all mayor football matches in Holland and Europe live and finish the weekend on Sunday evening with the live broadcast of the final round of the PGA Tour Golf tournament of that week.

The Problem

Yes it was great. And a giant wast of time. And money. And focus.

So what did we actually watch? As many others we enjoy good television series. But, commercials are awful and most series are broadcasted way behind their USA release schedule. So we’d rather get the Blu-ray box and watch them that way. About the news: You can get way better news updates and opinions through the web, so that was already over for a long time. For music and radio we have Vevo, Spotify and YouTube. And for sports, all the games are viewable via the channel’s websites and apps. Only problem with that is that the quality is not really the best you can get.

The biggest problem was that we were watching things we didn’t need to watch. The TV was always on and sometimes we even kept switching channels until we found something viewable.

The alternatives

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Posted in: Knowledge sharing, Lifehacking

The future of reading is almost here

Posted by on Apr 13, 2014

Just a few years ago I used to have a lot of subscription on monthly, weekly and daily magazines and newspapers. Yes the classic paper editions that were delivered at my home.  There are a lot of problems with these ‘information’ products which eventually made me cancel everything.

The daily newspaper is of course always outdated, and I didn’t want to keep paying for the comics, some columns and the football (p)reviews. I tried the weekend edition, but the subjects of the deeper analyses articles seem to be chosen completely at random. It’s just a gamble what they come up with every edition. Bye bye Telegraaf and Financieel Dagblad.

I’ve read Elsevier, a big weekly magazine on politics and current affairs, for many many years. But, they got lazy with republishing some big multipage ‘stories’ every year (tips on doing your taxes around tax time, tips for your holiday around the summer etc.). The political news analyses are not really better than the ones you can find for free online and their tech articles are just a joke. Bye bye Elsevier.

I also had a subscription to the largest weekly football magazine in Holland (Voetbal International). Since a few years ago they have two 90 minute talkshows each week, which I can listen to for free while driving to work. Also the magazine mostly covers the bigger teams, in which I don’t have any interest. So bye bye VI.

But, once in a while these magazines or newspapers have one or even a few articles that I really do want to read. For example when the football magazine has a big article on my team. My strategy was to quickly read that specific article from the supermarket news stand during shopping and thus not paying for the €4 magazine. Not really a good strategy since I might miss some interesting articles and this only works with the magazines (and not with newspapers; too much hussle).

So luckily there now is something called Blendle. Blendle is a website that can be seen as an iTunes Music Store for articles. So how does it work? Blendle gives you access to (almost) all available magazines and newspapers in Holland. You can scroll through them and if you see an article that you like, just click it to read it. Each article has a price, mostly ranging from €0,10 to €0,25. So instead of buying a full magazine for maybe a few cool articles you can now just get that single specific piece you actually do want to read.


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Posted in: Going Paperless, Lifehacking, New technology

SAP Logon hack: Make logging on to SAP easier and faster

Posted by on Sep 8, 2012

I have to logon to a lot of SAP systems each day: SAP BW DAP (Development, Accept, Production), SAP ECC DAP, SAP Solution Manager, sometimes SAP PI DAP, SAP BusinessObjects BI4 Launchpad DAP, SAP BusinessObjects BI4 CMC DAP. Pffff. Each system asks for a username and a password that has to be changed every month or so. Who can remember all these passwords?

Now there is a way to improve this. I found this great blog by Peter Lagner which absolutely must be shared! The blog explains how you can use the application KeePass to store your SAP Logon credentials and to logon to your SAP system without having to remember and type in your username and password every time.

It is very easy to set up. Check Peter’s blog for the details, screenshots and video. In short:

  1. Download KeePass here (get the package version if you’re not allowed to install software on your computer).
  2. Create a new KeePass database with a master password.
  3. Add a new entry.
  4. Fill in a title (use the SAP system name), your username and password.
  5. In the URL box enter the following: cmd://sapshcut -system=BWA -client=100 -user={USERNAME} -pw={PASSWORD} Change BWA into your SAP system name and change 100 into the right client.
  6. Select the entry and use the CTRL+U shortcut to open the ‘url’ and logon to the SAP system. You can also double-click on the url.
  7. To logon to the web-based SAP BusinessObjects BI4 environments go to the url and use CTRL+ALT+A to let KeePass fill in the username and password.

This is a big improvement over logging in manually each time. The only thing that I’m missing right now is a way to assign a system/url to a specific system-wide usable hotkey. Now I still have to go to KeyPass and select a system, but I’d rather eliminate that step by using a shortcut. So if you know how to do this; please share and pick up some karma!

Posted in: Knowledge sharing, Lifehacking, SAP