More free tools for productivity

Google Calendar and time sheets

In the last productivity post Free productivity with Google Docs & sheets I talked about using the Google Sheets Add-in time sheets. This linked to a Google Calendar and any event with a “#” at the beginning it took as a Time sheet input. It then created a Report with aggregated times in Google Sheets. I was a little  disappointed in this in that it only gave aggregated times, also no dates, so you’d have to put in separate dates into the headers to get specific dates for activities.

I then wondered if there was a way to access the Calendar information directly from the Google Calendar. There is. You can

It exports it to a ZIP file and if you look inside that you’ll find an ics file

This is a text file of sorts, but hard to read. There is an online converter here:

So if you upload your file it’ll convert it to a CSV file, and this pulls in the data with dates and times and descriptions of activities.

So with a bit of editing by adding a couple of columns and using trim commands and filters (and setting format for data types for columns) you can get your times out of the calendar with all the information you inputted.

The only thing I cannot see is when exporting to get a start/end date. If you cannot get this then you’d use filters in the CSV file to get what you require.

If you were doing this on a regular basis you’d build a macro to set up the extra fields for the spreadsheet.

If your invoicing is monthly or every 2 weeks then this is a simple tool to use and you can fill in as much information as you require.

The Google calendar gives you access on your phone and your PC so easy to keep times logged. You could use a macro recorder to automate the calendar export and conversion to CSV. A little effort to setup but once done then it should be a free powerful time sheet tool tailored to your specific needs.

Firefox Send (free)

Firefox Send sends files through a safe, private, and encrypted link that automatically expires to ensure your stuff does not remain online forever.

You can make it password protected as well if you want. You can also choose how many downloads can occur for that file. It looks like it will be deleted after 24 hours, so the recipient needs to act promptly.

There is a 1 Gb limit on file size. A handy free tools for transferring sensitive files . If you need to send more than one file then you’d have to zip them to one file.

Google Sheets Add-On- Sending reminder emails from a Spreadsheet

Sending emails from a Spreadsheet – Apps Script Tutorial video below:

I tried it out, its quite handy. I’m sure there are a lot of mail-merge and activation tools out there but I quite like the setup of this.

You put the Content that you want to set, you put in a recipient and you give a deadline for that event, then you say when you want them sent (eg 1 day before deadline etc) and you can put some extra information at the bottom , like who sent it etc).

Although most calendars will send to other recipients this is handy if you are sending to lots of people about a specific event.

This add-in has got me thinking about what other add-ins there are for google docs that may be of use. I will explore these further. I notice there are a few posts about add-ins.

Free Keyboard Macro tools

I have a suspicion that these tow are the same programme.  They do macros as well as Text Expansion. They are a cut-down version of a premium tool,

Perfect Keyboard (free)  and  Macro Toolworks (free edition) .

As I’m still searching for an alternative to Phrase Express I thought I’d look at these. I think the Toolworks in its full version is quite powerful but I’ve not explored these too deeply, just tested some of their demo macros briefly. They seem to do a good job. I may revisit them later.

Beeftext, free text expander

Beeftext an open-source free text substitution tool for windows.

Simple interface and seems to do what it says on the box.

FastKeys Automation (free edition/trial)

FastKeys Automation. This one has bells and whistles and seems to be written in AutoHotKey script. I have downloaded a free version, I’m not sure if its a continual trial version or whether it will stop, the websites not clear, but for a personal edition its $19 for up to 3 computers.

Its got a really nifty feature. If you push your mouse Arrow to the top of the screen it pops up a window with lists of programmes and directories, similar to Quick Access Popup.

It does a lot of things as per the screenshot below, but I do not see a scheduler, but it seems to do everything else. It also does gestures with the mouse (maybe pen/finger on tablet?) although I’m a bit wary of those as another app that I tried locked up my PC. Also you seem to need keys to describe the gestures.

The little bit of playing I’ve done with it so far has been impressive.

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