I was recently talking to a friend who asked how Trici was different from a simple screen recorder. After all, she could record her screen using Quick Time/ VLC and then use that recording to recover her lost train of thought. So why would she use Trici?
That is an excellent question!
So here I write about the reasons why Trici is more than just a simple screen recorder and how it makes your life easy.
Before I built Trici, I started recording my screen using VLC whenever I was coding. Very quickly I realised that many times, I would forget that I was recording myself and leave the recording process on even though I had gotten up and left the system inactive, say to answer a phone call. I would return an hour or so later to find that the system had been recording the inactive screen all this while. Thus, one of the first things I built in Trici was inactivity detection and stopping the Focus Session if the user was inactive for a certain threshold.
Recording process optimised for cpu usage and disk space
Screen recordings can occupy a lot of disk space. And if you record each and every one of your Focus Sessions, then you will run out of disk space very fast. This is especially true for people using SSDs instead of HDDs, as at the same price point you get much more speed in the SSDs but with lesser storage space. If you go with a default settings to record the screen, the size of your recordings are much more and you will tend to run out of space much faster. Do you really need a very high quality resolution for your recording which will occupy much more space on your disk? You also don’t want the recording process to hog all of your CPU slowing you down in the actual work that you want to do. Keeping these things in mind, and after a lot of trial and error, the Trici recording process been optimised to keep its cpu usage within acceptable limits as well as to keep the size of the recordings to a minimal without compromising on the overall quality of the recordings.
Recordings linked to Task/Notes which are searchable.
The need to review a past Focus Session may not always arise immediately after the Focus Session. For example, you may leave a task midway and switch to a more urgent task and return to the task you left midway after a week. But in this week there have been so many Focus Sessions that you have recorded. Going through each one of these recordings to find which is the one you are looking for is cumbersome. Trici makes it super easy to do so. You can choose which Task you are working on during a Focus Session as well as add notes during or after the session. You can then search all Focus Sessions by Task or by Notes and review the recording of that session very quickly.
The primary aim of recording the screen activity of your Focus Session is to help you remember your exact train of thought very fast. For this, watching the complete recording of your Focus Session does not make any sense. I also realised that watching the recordings at normal playback speeds is also a waste of time. Very quickly I start to seek across the video to those portions that I did not remember. Most of the time I just wanted to watch the last 5 minutes of my last Focus Session and at other times I want to quickly go through a session, slowing down when there is a lot of screen activity and speeding up when there is no activity aka the user was idle. Trici tracks your activity levels across the duration of the Focus Session and then during replay, plays the active portions of your session at 6x the speed and inactive portions at 20x the speed. This high speed playback combined with the ability to jump to any portion of the video allows me to process the large number of visual cues from the recording and remember my exact train of thought in a matter of minutes. The high speed/smart playback provides for a UX where I don’t have to constantly seek back and forth through the video, but just focus on what is being shown.
Disk Space Management
Even though the Trici recording process is optimised to keep the size of the recordings to be as minimal as possible without compromising on quality, most people will not want to keep unlimited recordings on their system. You may also not want to go through the cumbersome process of deciding which sessions to keep and which ones to delete all the time. This is why Trici allows the user to specify how much disk space should the recordings occupy and after every session deletes the older recordings to maintain the amount of disk space the recordings occupy. Many improvements to this are in the pipeline which will allow for a granular control on what gets deleted.
I am a big believer of dogfooding your product and all of the above features are a result of the need that I felt as I built Trici. One may debate whether there is a need to record each and every Focus Session. Given the unplanned nature of interruptions and context switching, I have found it extremely useful to have recordings of all my important Focus Sessions. And to manage those, the above features that are built into Trici are extremely useful.