Time tracking and cell phones (too creepy?)

July 12, 2009 § 1 Comment

g1watchingyouRecently, I was reading this article regarding tracking your time. The idea of time tracking appeals to me. Trying to juggle my life is difficult, what with making sure that I’m being a good husband, and a good father, working at my day job, trying to get a business started up and going, exercising, and sleeping – whew!

When I do projects, I like to keep track of the time I’m taking and what I’m spending it on. Doing so gives me a better feel for how long it really takes to do something. It also keeps me honest – I can’t just pretend I’m quicker at the task than I really am. I feel like doing some tracking and analysis of my daily activities would probably yield some benefit in many ways. At the very least, I’d realize if I really am as busy as I think I am, or if I actually am wasting a lot of my time.

I went looking for an app I could run on my Android phone, and really didn’t find much of anything. I thought about writing one – I’ve been doing quite a bit of android development recently. The idea of constantly entering what I was doing on my phone seemed to be fairly onerous, however. I’ve been kicking around in my head how to design a phone interface that’s quick and easy enough that I’d actually use it.

Of course, using GPS would help with tracking my time to some degree – it could obviously track whether I was at home, or at work, or driving in a car, or even some more subtle and varied locations. That helps, but doesn’t really tell me what I’m doing. I ran across this article a few days later, which describes a technique for using the phone to listen and analyze the sounds to determine what is going on. This would improve the information you’re gathering, because then you’d almost always know where you were and how long you were there, and you’d also often be able to automatically determine what it is you were doing based on the sounds that were being made.

And yet, that often wouldn’t help. For instance, right now, I’m sitting in front of a computer, typing away, while my wife is browsing the web on her computer, and my daughter is watching television. What on earth would my phone think I was doing? I’ve had thought about setting up a proxy server, and having the phone be able to connect to the proxy server to log network traffic, and thus determine what web pages I was looking at or posting to. This wouldn’t be particularly difficult to track, but might be difficult to analyze.

So, at this point, this is all just some random thoughts. Maybe it’s too creepy to actually do – maybe I don’t really want my phone monitoring everything I do. Of course, if it did, maybe I’d become more efficient just because of the Hawthorne effect.

It feels like the beginning of a project (a big project) that I probably don’t have the time to even think about. Of course, if I had it done, I’d probably better be able to determine how much time I could actually dedicate to such a project, huh?


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