Midweek Q&A

Maybe it's the long weekend in New Zealand, or maybe it's because I've been holed up working at home all week but no-one's asked Gadget Girl any particularly interesting technical questions. So I've gone back to the archives and dug some up for this today's Midweek Q&A.

Teresa: I need to track how many hours I'm working.

In this case one of my besties, Teresa, is a Samsung Galaxy user so the solution for her is Carlos Ribas' HoursTracker which is available  for Android. It's also available for iOS.

The reason I recommend HoursTracker is that it has a clock in, clock out function, you can elect to start the clock at a specific time (in case you forgot to hit start) or retrospectively add your logs if you're not tracking down to the minute. If you configure it, it can also track your earnings at both standard and overtime rates, and display simple reports showing your earnings against each job or pay period. Importantly for someone like myself, who often works through other companies, it can export the log and email it.

On Android the free version is limited to three jobs and three weeks of logs but in-app purchases for Personal and Pro versions give you options to suit your needs. On iOS the free version limits you to 3 jobs and 60 days of data. On iOS you also get a handy cloud backup function with additional features unlocked through in-app subscription purchases.

Sussie: what do you use to clean your iPad screen?

I generally stick to just a microfibre cloth to clean my plethora of screened devices. On greasier occasions, I might spritz a bit of eyeglass cleaner on. I really see no need to be handing out large amounts of cash for specialist cleaning kits — although I'm sure there'll be some expert out there who's aghast that I would dare to spray my $1200 device's capacitive screen with a spray designed for spectacles.

When I choose the cloth, I select a finer weave of microfibre. The ones they sometimes give you with your TV in a bag labelled 'for the shiny bits' works pretty well.

I did find a new Kleenex product at my local supermarket recently. The Viva TV and Computer Screen Wipes work a treat.

Q: what's a good labelling machine?

This question is from years ago, so I'm really looking into the archives for it!

My labelling machine(s) might have made the top 5 household items list, except they're not limited to household activities. Ours is a household that loans stuff out all the time. The Gadget Girl Library is often called on for people deciding whether they want to buy a particular tool or which one they want to get. Then there's the dongles that pair with a variety of wireless devices and ends of cables that are best labelled so we don't accidentally unplug the mySky mid-recording of the rugby game.

In New Zealand, Dymo and Brother are the predominant brands you find in stationery stores. And if you don't want to struggle hunting down the consumables, I suggest you stick with mainstream ones. There are plenty of different models around, depending on your requirements — the photo shows two of the Brother P-Touch options.

For both the Brother and Dymo brands you will find that the replacement tape is almost as expensive as the initial purchase price so they really get you on the consumables. The Brother's m-tape is a little less readily available and I have had to get it ordered in on a couple of occasions.

I've had my pink Brother one for several years and it's never let me down. I think it's made robustly and the tape that comes with it can withstand a few goes through the dishwasher and a bit of moisture without too much hassle. About a year ago I went ahead and purchased the QWERTY keyboard version because it has the ability to save my regularly used labels and it's far more efficient than re-typing my name and contact details every time I get a new device.

The Dymo one is the second one I've purchased of the identical model. The original one I had kept playing up after I loaned it to a friend and it's managed to defeat me in terms of fixing it. It's a battle of wills! Anyway, I bought another one because the range of Dymo tapes is larger: you can get paper, plastic and also iron-on for clothes. This is perfect for school uniforms and the like and back when one of my godchildren was staying over regularly I had taken to labelling clothes because it became confusing with three households (split family, as well as staying at the godmother's). I find the print quality of the Dymo doesn't look as polished as the Brother.

In summary: for a household with children where the primary purpose is naming of school and sporting items, buy the Dymo and know that it'll break after a couple of years but on sale it can cost as little as buying replacement tape. If you are using it for labelling things which are primarily indoors such as the office, general household, hobby items and electronics get the Brother: it will last years and you can get nice silver and gold tape for a more classy finish.
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  1. To keep track of time spend on things, I found Jiffy on Android is pretty good. You can keep track of multiple projects at the same time, and give you visual summary report of how long you spend on each tasks; if you're fan of pomodori, it does 25 minutes timer too.