Going the Distance

I was completing my training for the upcoming Rideau Lakes tour this morning . The tour is the highlight of the spring cycling season in Ottawa and I thoroughly enjoy riding in it.  During training I’ve been tracking all of my ride times with ReportAway! for FreshBooks as an exercise log.

Being a work day and feeling guilty about having too much fun, I stopped to check my BlackBerry for customer messages at Pink Lake . I was disappointed to see my BlackBerry was the proverbial “brick” :^( .  I’ve been having intermittent SIM card failures on the old Bold 9000 lately. Perhaps bouncing around in my bike pack is a formula for a premature device upgrade. In any event I had to pull the battery out and muck with the SIM card to get it going again.

When I returned from my ride I remembered to stop the ReportAway! activity timer and send it to the FreshBooks service. For those of you who think this article is just about yet another obnoxious,  over oxygenated cyclist, this is where I’m going to disappoint you. The point of this article is “Going the Distance”, and it’s about taking the time to write robust software so end users don’t have to make up for crappy software.

When we implemented activity timers in ReportAway! we anticipated all kinds of things that could go wrong with your device while you were timing your work. For example we felt it important that activity timers survive all kinds of scenarios like;

  • exiting the application
  • device resets
  • OS upgrades
  • entire device replacements (assuming you do a backup and restore :^)

One could argue that incurring the extra effort to cover these cases is unnecessary, but consider the consequences of not doing it. The end user could have an inaccurate or lost time record. That’s not fair to push on an end user.

I’ve done a quick look at some competitive products and some of them don’t even maintain timers if you exit the application. This my friends is crappy software and you should avoid it. Look for mobile applications where the end user’s time is put ahead of the developers. We think we have achieved this with ReportAway! and hope you consider giving it a try….even if, sadly, you have to use it to track your billable time rather than your cycling time :^).


2 Responses to “Going the Distance”

  1. 1 Mike May 31, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    If you are on Bell they had a batch of bad SIM cards.

    So if that’s the case you can get a free replacement at a Bell store.

    Otherwise thanks for the good software.

  2. 2 reportaway May 31, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Thanks for the tip on Bell. I’m on Rogers. I’ve been pretty hard on my BlackBerry and I think repeated dropping and vibration from cycling is starting to take it’s toll. Maybe a shiny new device in my future :^).

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