gCalTasks gadget

I love using my calendar to set reminders about appointments to the dentist, book my vacation for the best hotels in Chicago, and other events. But another very useful way to use my calendar is to log my work activity.

gCalTasks is a free gadget for Windows that logs to Google Calendar your activities.

gcaltasksThe interface is very simple and it’s composed by a text label and 3 buttons; just fill it with the work you’re going to execute and click “Start”: a stopwatch will begin to count the time you’re spending in your task. When you’ll finish, click on “Stop” button to make gCalTasks send the entry to your Calendar. You’ll can review your work day (or week, month…) directly in the Google Calendar site, to check how many hours you spent on that project.

Features:

  • Works with both public and private calendars;
  • Works with both Google and Google Apps accounts;
  • Compatible with Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows XP (with sidebar extension);
  • Offline mode (a sort of).

Get it:

download here gCalTasks.gadget (v.1.0, 60KB)

Configuration:

The config page will asks you for your Google credentials to retrieve your calendar list. Just choose one of them and click “OK” to start logging.

FAQ:

Why gCalTasks?
I needed a tool to quickly log how much time I spend on work projects but I didn’t find anything similar, so I thought to do it myself. Then I chose to give it to the net community, I hope it will help other people. This little gadget doesn’t have many features, but I wanted a light tool.

This gadget asks me to enter my Google credentials, will you steal them?
Google login/passwords are required to operate with your calendars; they are used only for these operations. The only communications between gCalTasks and “me” are requests to check if an updated version of the gadget is available (the same function periodically checks also if your computer is still connected to the Internet, to enable/disable offline mode).
Anyway, if you want you can check yourself (or you can ask your javascript programmer friend to check for you): gCalTasks code, as every Windows gadget, is open (not compiled), so you can browse your Gadget folder and open its files to be sure that no reserved informations are sent anywere but Google Calendar.
If you’re concerned about your privacy, don’t forget to read about the “unencrypted limit” in Windows gadgets (see “Known bugs / Limits).

Is gCalTasks open source?
Yes. You can use, copy, reproduce it and you can use it also in commercial/professional environments. If you want to use it for the production of new, modified software I ask you only to put a link back to me. See the LICENSE.TXT file included in the gadget for more informations.

Known bugs / Limits:

  • Sometimes there are some problems with authentication while retrieving calendar list – especially with Google Apps accounts. If you receive errors in config window, just try to repeat the operation. If the error persists, make me know your operating system and Google account type to help me fixing it.
  • Width isn’t compliant withVista sidebar size (gCalTasks is wider). There aren’t problems for functionality, but it will not appair aligned with other gadgets.
  • A list of “preferred tasks” to select would be nice. Maybe I’ll add it to the next version.
  • Windows way to store gadgets settings is not secure: they’re saved in C:\Users\(youUserName)\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Settings.ini, so your Google credentials will be stored there too. It may be a problem if you work on a public computer. If this is your case, just close gCalTasks when you finish to work to have your Google login/password deleted from that file. Of course you’ll have to enter them again when you’ll re-add gCalTasks to your running gadgets.
  • Offline mode is still rudimental: it periodically checks if you’re still connected to the net and it “blocks” the gadget if you’re not. If a task is running, the stopwatch will continue to run: when you’ll return online, the gadget will resume normal activity, allowing you to stop the task and send it normally to your calendar. It’s not the best way to manage offline periods, but it just work.

Credits:

I want say a big “thank you” to Eelke Spaak, the author of “The Calendar” gadget. His gadget does a different thing (it is a sort of “agenda viewer” for Google Calendar, it’s very useful), but I started from this idea to develop gCalTasks. Connection functions of gCalTasks are also based on that ones of “The Calendar”, he saved me a lot of time for the development.

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