Friday, August 26, 2022

TimeSnapper: The power of being able to replay the past

To get this disclaimer out of the way right out front: I'm the author of TimeSnapper for MacOS. But like the guy in the 1980-something Hair Club for Men TV commercial: I'm not just the author, I'm also a client! A real event just happened where TimeSnapper enabled me to share a key bit of information with my team at work that I hadn't been able to come up with otherwise.

About a month ago, I came across a mention from a co-worker of a book as being a great introduction to the FinTech space: "The Anatomy of the Swipe" (2020) by Admed Siddiqui. At the time, I checked my local public library for a copy, but they didn't have one; so I took advantage of an awesome feature of the library, and put in a request via the library's website for the library to purchase a physical copy! They did so, and automatically put the book on hold for me! I picked up the book yesterday.

In a team meeting near the end of my work day yesterday, I mentioned the book, and promised to drop a link to the book in our Slack channel in the morning. I followed up on that this morning, intending to post the link along with the original post where I'd seen the book recommended internally.

I searched Slack for the earlier mention of the book that I remembered, and... nothing. 

No search results for "anatomy of the swipe". Or for "anatomy" "swipe". Or for "ahmed siddiqui".

Although I thought I'd seen the book recommendation via Slack, maybe it had actually been via shared Google Doc...? Or an email? I searched those places too, and... again, nothing.

At this point, I was momentarily stumped. I wanted to provide credit where it was due and share the original book recommendation I had followed... but where was it? Obviously I hadn't just imagined it; I had gotten the name and author of this particular book, in order to request my local library to order a copy, from somewhere.

And then, inspiration struck: I've got TimeSnapper! TimeSnapper, if you're not familiar with it, is a utility program that runs in the background on your computer, and saves a snapshot of the screen every few seconds. It also provides a "Play Your Day Like a Movie" feature, where you can rapidly scrub back and forth through an entire day's worth of these saved screenshots.

To get the time window for my TimeSnapper search, I went to my library's website, logged in, and and viewed the page with the status of my past purchase requests. Sure enough, it showed that my request for "The Anatomy of the Swipe" had been originally made on July 26, 2022 -- one month ago today.

I then fired up TimeSnapper's Play Your Day feature and navigated to July 26. Skimming through my day, I found the images of my visit to the library website where I'd initially keyed in my request for the book. Navigating a short way back in time from there, I saw myself visiting my company's Slack instance... and found the recommendation I had remembered -- not for the book itself, but a link to a blog article with a list of good FinTech introductory resources -- which is where the mention of the book has actually been located!

Thanks to TimeSnapper, I was able to post a link that Slack post with the link to the FinTech blog post along with the link to the book itself.

Obligatory closing promotional line: If this ability to go back in time and observe what you were seeing on your computer in the past sounds like a superpower you'd like to gain for yourself, you can read more about TimeSnapper, and buy a copy for Mac or for Windows, on the TimeSnapper website!