Active Timer 1.3

Active Timer 1.3 has been released unto the world! It has improved accuracy (sub millisecond precision — and no, this doesn’t take any additional processing power), better idle time calculation (idle time will now be retroactively transferred to the idle category!) and if those features weren’t enough — it’s now able to keep track of your per-window spent time. This is the first release where I’ve used a small pool of beta testers. This was immensely successful, allowing me to track down many more bugs than usual. As such, I’m looking to expand the Active Timer beta test pool, so leave a comment if you want to join the pool (if you haven’t left a comment already).

If you have any requests for Active Timer 1.4, please also leave a comment. I’ll be deciding on the feature set for 1.4 in the next few weeks and welcome all input. In the mean time, I’ll be working on F-Script Anywhere and NicePlayer.

F-Script Anywhere is coming along nicely — the next release will have an auto-injection feature, to allow you to choose a set of applications that you want F-Script Anywhere to automatically inject into (this was a request by Ken Ferry, who enjoyed this feature which was a result of the SIMBL version of FSA). FSA just needs a little more testing before release.

NicePlayer has been built as a universal binary, however I’ve been holding off on its release until I can get the Xine Plugin to also work universal. I’ve spent many hours on the Xine-lib code getting it to compile, but it’s slow going due to a number of complicated issues. I’d welcome any comments pertaining to whether people think that NicePlayer universal should be released before Xine Plugin universal.

37 Responses to “Active Timer 1.3”

  1. Mike Davis says:

    Great application. I have been using it for about 2 weeks when I updated to version 1.3 and it worked fine the day it was installed. The following day I did install the Mac OS Security Update 2006-003 (on Mac 10.4.6) and after that, Active Timer 1.3 wil not launch but just crashes. I can not say if this caused the problem, but it seems likeley. If interesested I can provide you a crash log any time.


    Mike Davis

  2. Micah Freedman says:

    Just came accross this today and it looks like it’s exactly what I’m looking for. Two things: 1) is there a way to get access to the data that it creates for further manipulation. 2) Being able to differentiate different tabs in a browser (as opposed to just windows) would be handy.



  3. Nils says:

    I also can confirm with Os-X 10.4.6 the App crashes after second time run. After deleting the plist file in the Preferences it just work again one start.

  4. I would like to be able to collect the data in tab or CSV delimited format. I would also like to be able to relate the information to a “project”. it looks as though it shouldn’t be two hard to save and reopen multiple files from active timer. It would be handier still to be able to access several of them from a menu or from tabs.

    In terms of keeping track it does a great job and relating the file(s) to the application is wonderful. However, I do spend time doing things like answering the telephone that are related to my projects. I am using ProjectX for that. It would be nice to have a way to capture that information as well in active timer.

    If you aren’t familiar with ProjectX the contact information is MacItEasy
    Carsten Schäfer
    Achterdiek 27a
    26131 Oldenburg

  5. Robert Chin says:

    I’m working on CSV export. What sort of categorizations would be most useful for people? What kind of column and row setup should I have the exported data be?

  6. I’m really enjoying Active Timer 1.3, but I think I’ve run into a bug. If I’m working in Form•Z for example, and leave the computer for a while, Active Timer doesn’t switch to Idle after the specified time. So, if I’m gone for two hours, that time gets added to Form•Z, or whatever app was active when I left.

    In the prefs, I have checked “Enable idle detection” and I’ve set “Minutes until idle” to 5. I’ve unchecked “Include idle time…”. Has anyone else run in to this? Thanks for maintaining this incredibly usefult app.


  7. Jeff Brown says:

    My two cents on a feature… Since I leave my computer running 24/7 it would be neat if there was a feature that could reset the timer everyday and store each days stats into a folder with each day saved as a separate CSV file (for further manipulation and comparison. It would be cool to have the reset time “user adjustable”, so that for my work shedule I would have it reset each day at 5am, since I often work on and off all day from 6am to sometimes 3am.

    Anyway, I love the app so far! Great idea!

    BTW, updated to 10.4.4 the other day and had to delete the prefs file in order to stop Active Timer from crashing on start. Fixed, thanks to Nils’ post above 🙂

  8. I think I figured out the problem I was having. I usually put my computer to sleep when I step out for a while. When I wake it up again, Active Timer thinks the frontmost application has been active all the time the machine has been asleep. I don’t know if there’s a way to fix this within Active Timer. In the meantime, I have the computer set to sleep automatically after Active Timer has automatically switched to idle time.

  9. Shannon says:

    Great application!

    I came in here hunting for a fix to the crash problem I was having with 1.3, and found it (deleting the plist).

    Thanks, and keep at it.

  10. Robert Chin says:

    For people having the idle problem, does setting the computer to go to sleep when inactive, or have a screensaver automatically come up after the machine is idle work? Technically active timer’s idle functionality should work if either of these two things work. Perhaps someone can send me their preference file? I would also like a preference file sample that is causing active timer to crash, as I cannot reproduce that problem. Please send them to robert at osiris dot laya dot com.

  11. Allan Brighton says:

    I also noticed that if I close the powerbook lid and go away for a while, when I come back, the time has been counted for the application that was active. This makes the timer much less useful. It should not be difficult for the Active Timer application to notice that the machine has been sleeping or suspended. I imagine you have method that is called periodically to keep track of the time. You should be able to just check if the method has not been called for a longer than usual time.

  12. Robert Chin says:

    Allan: I will look into this, it shouldn’t be too hard to fix.

    Does anyone have any recommendations on the format for csv output? I Have csv output working but am unsure of what the ideal format for exported data should be (what cells where).

  13. The program is great. A couple of things I noticed. I haven’t been able to narrow down the problem further but at some point Active Timer resets. All data is lost and it starts timing over. Also I would be interested in a graph that shows a colored time line of when each application was active. So although I may have used a program for 2 hours throught the day I can see that I only spent say 10 minutes at a time on it. I’m looking to use this to see how my day gets chopped up. I suppose this could be done if your CSV output contained the right data.


  14. I also have the problem where the app crashes the 2nd time it is run. I have a crash log if that’ll help..


    [julian at techkwondo dot com]

  15. Dave says:

    On OSX 10.3.9 – Have been using v1.2a but only just saw there was new version. After replacing v1.2a with 1.3, app won’t open and ‘crashes unexpectedly’. Being completely clueless, I didn’t know what the plist was, or where to find it. I finally stumbled on the package contents and tried deleting the Info.plist file as suggested by Nils above, and seemingly used with success by others as well.

    Instead, nothing at all happened when then trying to open Active Timer. Restored Info.plist from trash and just got a crash again..

    How can I get it to work again?

  16. dave says:

    Downloaded 1.3.1 but when do ‘getinfo’, it says version 1.3, as it did before. And, as v1.3 did, it crashes as soon as I open it. Have you provided v1.3.1, or is it still 1.3 that is being downloaded, even though it is called

  17. physicistjedi says:

    I agree the above commenters that active timer should pause when computer goes to sleep and resume when awake. Besides that a great application. Thanks.

  18. Leonard Marsh says:

    v1.3.1 crashes on start up. I am trying 1.2a instead and after hearing about it and reading the reviews, I am looking forward to testing it out. Thanks for the share.

  19. Robert Chin says:

    1.3.1 should say 1.3.1 in the about box. I forgot to update one of the version strings, so it still says 1.3 when you get info on the application. I would really like to figure out why people are having crashing problems, as I am unable to reproduce the problem. Are you on powerpc or intel? Try removing your ~/Library/Preferences/com.laya.osiris.ActiveTimer.plist file and seeing if active timer works after the file has been removed. If so, then there is a problem with a corrupted preference file — if that was the cause of the problem, please contact me with the preference file so I can diagnose the best fix.

  20. Robert Chin says:

    For those of you who are having problems with active timer keeping track of time while your computer is asleep, please download the new 1.3.2 release.

  21. physicistjedi says:

    I would love to see it automatically export the results into cvs at the end of everyday. So that I can set it and forget.

  22. Robert Chin says:

    Automatically export what results into cvs?

  23. Mark Steiner says:

    Active Timer has literally changed the way I now work – I can do away with the manual timesheet system we currently have in place and produce something far more accurate with less effort! If you still require further beta testers, I would be happy to help…

    As for suggestions 😉 I would also like to be able to ‘save’ a days activity automatically at the end of that day, and maybe have the timer reset once I log back in to my account [ as physicistjedi alludes too ] and would love to have the ability to apply filters/rules to the listing [ Spotlight-like queries? ] to isolate certain activity or track the full life cycle of a project etc.

    Keep up the great work!

  24. Grant says:

    Hi Robert,

    Successfully using v1.3.2 on an Intel macbook [10.4.7]. However this same version crashes at launch on my ppc powerbook [10.3.9]. Tried removing com.laya.osiris.ActiveTimer.plist, but made no difference.
    Have downgraded to version 1.2a which does work on my ppc powerbook.


  25. Mario Arismendi says:

    Active Timer is a very useful and excellent apllication..! just 2 things
    1. The aplication could start tracking the time automaticly when it was loaded; many times I forget to push de start button and at the end of the day I don’t have time spent data….!

    2. It will be great if I can choose wich aplications to track and wich not….!

  26. Robert Chin says:

    For anyone that is getting some sort of crash, it would be helpful if you could copy and paste the text from the crash reporter text box (the one that shows up if you click the “Report…” button when an app crashes), and then send that crash log to robert dot chin at gmail dot com. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get a response from that address immediately, since that’s not my main address, and I don’t check it extremely often. This is to prevent my main e-mail address from getting spammed, which would certainly happen if I posted it here… Thanks! This will help me track down the crash.

  27. Hi,

    Found this app today and love it. However, at least for me, this app would be great(er) if wrapped in a simple task manager. Meaning, allowing the currently running timers to be saved with a textual description and timestamp.

    The way I see this, it could be achieved by adding a task columnn on the left of the timers box, and a Save button in addition to Pause.

    With that interface I could choose to save the running timers with the currently time spent (on a task or project). And to distinquish each timer set, Active Timer would prompt the user to enter a short task description. Then the first 15 characters of the task description would show up in the task column on the left.

    This way the description could be used to store project titles, task descriptions or just a progress comment – or whatever. Just a nice way to have multiple sets of timers going, with the posibility to continue with a past timer set at a later time. In preferences an option to stop the timers (starting a new set) when saving could be added. That way, the Save button could function either as a progress status log, or as a start a new tast action.

    I look forward to seeing where this app is heading, as I see great potential of a already very user-friendly and useful app/util.

    Keep up the good work!

  28. Johan again... says:


    Just a tiny thing; I cant seem to unfocus all timer entries, so to see the total time spent after having selected an item I have to select all instead of deselecting whatever item(s) currently selected.

    And I must have missed the comment from Douglas St.Clair earlier, so, my previous suggestion kinda overlaps his. However, I feel a list of items is better than a tabbed organization – simply because it would allow more entries without feeling crowded.

    Finally, maybe selecting the timer itself could be listed as a task – with a custom description – so that I actually could select the timer when I answer the phone or other tasks that I would like to have explicitly timed, but without it actually being an application.. Could even be hotkey assigned to customized descriptions when giving the focus to Active Timer, that allows the user to select different non-app log descriptions. Like CMD+P for Phonecall, CMD+M for Meeting.


  29. And Johan again.. says:

    Sorry, for all these comments, but I keep thinking about how to improve this cool app, and I realized that I disagree with the suggestion of Mario Arismendi – to let the timer start automatically.

    However, I think it would be very user-friendly if the app did the following:

    1. Place default launch focus on the start button, so the user could simply press space to start timer.

    2. If the app is launched and then looses the focus without the timer running, for more than (something like) 3 minutes or so, a pop-up dialogue could be initiated with the user that asks if the timer should be started. This reminder could be displayed repeatedly or only once, depending on a setting in preferences.

  30. Robert Chin says:

    Johan, thanks for the great suggestions. I especially like the idea of changing the default focus, and making focusing the timer a separate item.

  31. Johan says:

    So, Robert Chin, will we see any update for Active Timer at some point? Or have development stranded. Since you replied, I take it is still moving forward, albeit rather slowly.

    This is maybe asking a little too much, but could you email me? That is, if the development is continuing, and you would like to hear some ideas.

  32. Chris says:

    Hi Robert,

    The latest build refuses to remain open if I click that button when presented with the dialog.

    Also, might I humbly suggest making it open source if you don’t have time to work on it?


  33. Uli says:

    hi robert,

    thank you for writing this cool app! Also for making it available for free. In the last few days I’ve been testing 16 donationware, freeware, and shareware applications, some of them for about 50$, but I have come back to active timer because of it’s simplicity of operation and it’s versatility in displaying it’s entries.

    I, too, agree with Johans idea for a list of entries, but for the moment i’d appreciate active timer to just display the filename it is actually writing to.
    Does switching files work for everyone of you? It seems I can only switch immediately after app start, no matter if a timer is running or paused.


  34. Uli says:

    i had to try out the application “projectX” Douglas St.Clair mentioned above, in order to be able to understand what he meant: i think he suggests a capability, that i, too, find very interesting, namely in some way to avoid active timer of stopping the time log in those cases where one uses the phone instead of the computer.
    projectX has a dialog, that asks whether the timer should be stopped or not after the idle period. This behavior can be switched on and off in the prefs.
    An application (called “LogOut”) i used back in Mac OS 9 days had a screen corner where you could park the pointer, to prevent the timer from stopping.
    Additionally, LogOut popped to the front, when the idle period had passed without the pointer being parked. This way one was aware of being logged out of time logging, when you came back from break.
    I can also imagine pressing the caps lock key to prevent active timer of pausing the time log.
    These two points – preventing idle stops and becoming the front application after the timer stops – would make active timer even more valuable and attractive.

  35. Robert Chin says:

    Just so everyone who cares about Active Timer knows, I definitely intend on continuing development on Active Timer. Currently work is taking up a lot of my development time, but when my current project wraps up I definitely will be releasing another version. Active Timer has not been forgotten!

  36. Uli says:

    This is great to hear, Robert! I stay tuned.

  37. This application is great and it just got better (version 1.32) with the ability to track time for individual windows, however, it appears that the name of a single open window does not appear next to the application name. When 2 or more files are open, the names of these files appears under the expanded triangle. Is there any way to have the name of a single window listed in the Active Timer window in addition to the name of the application? This might mean having the expanding triangle after all application names with the name of a single open window or names of multiple open windows.

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