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{rw_text}Giveaway of the day for November 11, 2008 is SnapLogger. [1]
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{for=”Features as Described” value=”10″}Can’t really fault this program in this category: it does what it claims, and it does it well.
{for=”Ease of Use” value=”10″}Interface is clean and easy to use.
{for=”Usefulness” value=”3″}”This software is a boon to those professionals who work most of the time on computer and they need to know what they did the whole day to fill up the timesheet or bill a client.” – How many of us actually need to do this?
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When you extract the .zip file you download from giveawayoftheday.com, you will notice there are two “setup” files. One is “Setup.msi” and one is “Setup.exe”. Not really sure what this is about, but you can install SnapLogger from both – I just tested it.

I apologize in advance for “babying” everyone through this review. The interface is very user friendly and if you want you do not even have to continue reading this review to understand how to use it.

After you have installed SnapLogger, when you try to run it, you will first be welcomed with a welcome screen that explains what SnapLogger does and does not do. This welcome screen will open up everytime, unless you check “Do not show again” at the bottom.

After you get past the welcome screen, the ‘main window’ for the program will appear. From this window you can control all there is to this program. The interface is very simple and easy to understand. To start monitoring your activity, click “Start Recording”. To view the screenshots you have recorded so far, click “View SnapLog”.

Next to the “Start Recording” button, there are a few options:

At the bottom of this window are where the bulk of the options are that you will deal with.

Under “Capture Options” (the first tab) you can choose how long the time interval should be between each screen shot snap logger takes (in seconds). You can set SnapLogger to take a screen shot of the whole screen, or just the current active window. You can also set SnapLogger to stop taking screen shots if your computer is idle after X amount of minutes. This is also where you can chose to start SnapLogger upon Windows boot if you wish. You can also set where you want your screenshots to be saved (under “Data Storage Location”). I recommend you leave it to the default location – keep reading as to why.

Under “Security” (the second tab) you have the option to password protect the screenshots you have stored. Just check “Protect Screenshots with Password”, enter your password in both boxes, and hit “Save Password”. Now whenever you click “View SnapLog” you will be prompted to enter a password. One thing you should note here: as long as you leave the “Data Storage Location” (located under Capture Options) to the one that is default, no one can browse to that folder and view your screenshots. But if you change it to a custom folder, people will be able to browse to your folder, but they will not be able to see the screenshots. Screenshots will only be password protected if they are taken while the password protect feature is on.

Under “Clean up” (the third tab) you have the option to automatically delete screenshots that are older then X amount of days. You can toggle this option on/off at your bidding. There is also a button that will delete all the screenshots that are stored. Each screenshot that is taken is in .jpg format. Depending on your screen resolution, this could mean pretty big image files and thus take up quiet some space on your hard drive. For my 1280×800 resolution, each screenshot varied from 100-200 kb depending on the content of the screenshot. Now I had it set to take a screenshot every one second (for testing purposes). So within an hour, thats big chunk of space on my hard drive that is being used – anywhere from 360 to 720 MB. Just keep that in mind when you are trying to decide if you want to use this feature.

Under “Filters” (the fourth tab) you can manage/add/remove any filters you wish to add to SnapLogger. Depending on which option you chose, filters will tell SnapLogger to either not take a screenshot if the designated program(s) are active, or to take a screenshot only when designated progam(s) are active. How the filter works is that you enter the program name, and SnapLogger will see if the name you designate matches a program name, or the title of the program window. If it does, it will do whatever you designated. To create a new filter hit “Create New Filter”. Name your filter, chose if you want the filter to set SnapLog to only take screenshots when the designated programs are active or to not take screenshots when the designated programs are active. In the list of programs, just type in the name of the program (ex: for Firefox, just type in Firefox). Hit “Save”. Now everytime you start to record something, you can choose to use that certain filter by selecting it from the drop down menu that is located next to the “Start Record” button (I mentioned it above).

Other then that, you can also view how much time you spent on a certain application (Reports  -> Application Usage Report) or view how long your computer has been active on a certain date (Reports -> Active Computer Hours Report).

The viewing the SnapLog interface is much like playing a movie. There is a play button, a forward button, and a rewind button. The play button will play, the forward button will take you to the next image, and the rewind button will take you back one image. There are also buttons that will take you forward one whole day, or back one whole day. You can set how long you want to view each screenshot by messing around with the “Frame Delay” option. At the same time, you can designate of which day’s screenshots you want to see, and what time of that day. You can filter which screenshot you want to see by program (so if you want to see just firefox screenshots just chose firefox). The only problem with this feature is that you had it to set to capture the whole screen, the whole screenshot will be shown, not just the program you are filtering by. You can also delete an individual screenshot, copy an individual screenshot to your clipboard, or export all the screenshots you are viewing into a .avi video that you can save on you computer (all this is done thru the “Actions” button).

Now to all those worrying, according to Uconomix’s website:

Can SnapLogger be used to spy on someone?
No it can not. SnapLogger is not a spyware.
SnapLogger does not hide itself from the user. It does not run in a stealth mode. It always gives a notification when it starts recording. Its icon is always visible in the system tray. Besides SnapLogger does not record things like keystrokes, passwords, form data or any other personal data. It only records screenshots and nothing else.

But as I posted on GOTD, since this is not an open source software, I would be careful of using it. As with encryption tools, activity monitoring tools such as this one also are best if they are open source so that the online open source community can verify there is no malicious intent of the software. While I am not saying this company has malicious intent, there is no way of 100% verifying that this software does not monitor your activity and send it off to some server on the internet.

There is only one thing I think this program is missing: the ability to set “sessions” of recording. What I mean, is that the program should be able to “start a session” and “end a session” and group all screenshots by sessions, instead of just day and time of day.

PMnet Verdict: Honestly, you decide if you need this software (for whatever reason). All I can tell you is that it does what it claims to do.