All Things oDesk
November 15, 2006 by oDesk

The oDesk Team client will never be the same! During the last release we auto-upgraded the oDesk Team client. It is now configured with an important new feature:

Live snapshot upload notification and control

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After a snapshot is captured by the Team client, the snapshot thumbnail pops up in the right lower corner and allows the user to optionally review, do a quick zoom and decide whether they want to have the particular snapshot sent to the server or not.

Why did we do that?

The purpose of the feature is two-fold:

  1. From the provider side we want to provide better control of private information and better user experience and convenience.
  2. As for buyers the result of this feature is straightforward : more accurate timelogs and less opportunities for misunderstandings.

Providers already have full control of their client - they can suspend it, in which case no information is being captured and they can turn it on when they want. They can also visit their workdiary after the fact and review, delete or memo annotate their time as they see fit. However, most of us tend to let the Team client always on while we work; we just try to be careful and review immediately the diary after we do something of private nature, plus we do the occasional daily/weekly review of the diary to cleanup any non - work related activity. That's not very convenient. For starters if private info gets captured in a group-visible teamroom it might be too late. And it is really a pain having to check the workdiary continuously just in case. Its no wonder that the workdiary is the single most visited page in our entire application.
So we changed the logic of the team client and let the user be a bit ahead of the workdiary "tape". Just like the TV moderators are a few seconds ahead of the live broadcast, similarly the snapshots are now sent to the server with a configurable up-to 60 seconds delay allowing the user to moderate their "tape" in the same way.

The feature does not compromise in any way the accuracy or randomness of our snapshot logic.

How it works

Let me add here a details around the feature since you will not find much documentation anywhere else:

Timer
The stopwatch timer shows you how much time you have before the snapshot will auto upload. Clicking the close button will abort the timer, close the popup and upload the snapshot immediately.

Zoom
Clicking on the thumbnail gives you up-to 15 extra seconds to preview the full size snapshot. In preview mode, the key W toggles webcam picture

Discard
Discarding the snapshot will typically result in a "private" 10 minute slot in your workdiary. If the discarded slot was work related you will need to visit the diary and memo annotate the appropriate timeslot. Keep in mind that the client also sends snapshots when specific events happen : login, resume, coming out of idle mode, change of memo. These snapshots are not showing up in the workdiary - their purpose is to update the presence information you share with your team as part of the teamroom. The notification popup will also alert you for those snapshots as well - discarding them does not affect your workdiary.
Finally, keep in mind that the timer is suspended while you are in the discard dialog.

Preferences
We have turned this feature on by default. You can change the time-delay or disable the notification completely through the Preferences Notification Tab. As you may notice the preferences dialog has becoming too crowded so we rearranged it into a two rows of tabs .

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