The EZ-Log StoryHow a driver solved a logbook problem that eventually turned into EZ-Log!
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Beginnings
The EZ-Log Story Begins in a SleeperAbout five years ago: I just picked up the monthly Safety report from dispatch. It said the Safety Department wasn't happy with me, again. It contained a notice that I would report to corporate headquarters for several days of Logbook Training. Without pay, it said, in big type.
The report detailed my many violations. I broke out the carbon copies for that month. I went through each carbon looking for mistakes. Frustrated, because the carbon slips and copies don't always line up with the originals. And, now the Wite-Out is flaking off! Paper logbooks!
A Pattern EmergesThis was a repeat of recent reports. Except for the class. As I studied, I began to realize most of my violations fell into just a few types. I was good at making sure I didn't violate the eleven and fourteen-hour rules.
HOS Rule violation wasn't directly causing my logbook problems. So, what did my study reveal as the real cause for my violations? I was surprised by my findings!
The Main CauseSo, I found the most frequent cause for my logbook violations was simple math errors. I sometimes counted a block of time in the wrong Duty Status category.
When I added up Duty Status hours, they totaled twenty-four. So, I had the right number of hours. But, some of the Duty Status Totals didn't match the lines on the Grid. Since my company scanned logs and their computer correctly checked Duty Status totals; my totals didn't match.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Failure
What Now?I began wondering if there were a way to use my computer to get Duty Status totals. I was already using Excel to compare my trips with my payroll statements.
This got me to thinking about using Excel to finish out my logbook. After playing around I came up with accounting inspired logbook calculator. It was based on how I used Excel back in the cubicle days.
A Mess!It was a mess because my solution created more problems than it solved. It was based on typing a lot of numbers. Everything had to be typed in. Dates, Duty Status names, start and end times for each Duty Status change. It was harder than using the pocket calculator!
Don't get me wrong, it worked great. But, it had the same problems as using a calculator and scratchpad. It didn't get rid of the errors. It actually created more mistakes! I was headed in the wrong direction.
Back to the Drawing BoardSo, I began playing around with graphics programs. I could make great pictures of logbooks! I just couldn't make them do any kind of math.
I kept ending back at Excel as the tool to get math done. After reading an article, I realized I could use some of the ideas. Maybe I could get Excel to do pictures and math after all. That began a new round of experiments.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Success
I've Got it!I sketched out The Grid in Excel. "Why haven't I considered this before," I wondered. Within a short time, I had my first working model of EZ-Log. It was really primitive compared to EZ-Log today. But, it worked.
I wasn't thinking about marketing or selling my logbook helper back then. I just had a problem and figured out how to solve the problem.
EvolutionI'm a tinkerer. Sometimes I'll be drifting off to sleep, and an idea pops in my head. Next thing I know, its' three in the morning and the laptop is glowing in front of me. I've had many moments like that as I've added new features.
After The Grid, came the MIleage Calculator. One day I finished my Duty Status Totals. I reached for the calculator to figure out how many miles I drove. It dawned on me; this would be easier on the computer.
RefinementThe Recap came next. That happened because of a change in companies. I moved from a really big company to a much smaller company.
Being a smaller company, they didn't have the computing horsepower to dispatch and watch over driver's hours quite the same way.
I quickly found out I needed to either start using the Recap in the paper log or figuring out a way to computerize it. Adding the Recap seemed like a better use of time.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Evolution
Nuts & BoltsA driver friend happened to mention his company went through an audit. His company had some problems.
During the audit, many drivers got speeding tickets. The Auditors did this based on average speed. Very simple to figure out with a calculator.
I found out you can't average more than 5mph below the posted speed limit!
Polishing The ChromeBy now, I had most of the basics in place to make EZ-Log handle my entire logbook. At least the math part.
Sometimes another driver would see me working on my logbook. They were curious about the software I was using. I would often get asked where I got my logbook software.
Getting BusyDrivers continued asking where I got my logbook software. So, I decided to start asking why they asked. The answers always came back similar to, "I'd like to get it to do my logbook."
These question and answer sessions turned out being an informal type of market research. So, I began asking what they would pay for my program if they could buy it. I began keeping track of the answers. Nothing formal, I just mentally noted the answers. I sometimes thought about making something to sell. But, never had time. If you drive, you know how that works.
Enter the name for this tabbed section: Going Pro
Getting More FeedbackThat led me to talk to some Safety Department Managers about my program. The response was always positive. One of them confided:
"If we could do something to decrease driver's logbook violations, it helps them. But, it also helps the company because too many driver violations can cause problems for the company."
I was almost ready to start working on a retail version. But, there was still not enough time at the end of the day.
CSA*2010CSA*2010 was the turning point. Changes in rules increased driver responsibility and risk. In a way, this was good because there really are some drivers who shouldn't be out there.
But, there are lots of great drivers who have the same problems that inspired EZ-Log in the first place. Math errors and other issues causing too many violations. Besides the violations, plenty of drivers want a better way than the pocket calculator to do their logs.
EZ-Log Goes ProIt was time to get serious. Like get a name for EZ-Log, write the documentation, get a web site up. Including the work to set up a shopping cart and payment system that protects the buyer and seller.
Thankfully that is all done now. Well, except for the web site because I've got to keep things interesting for drivers. We really want you to keep coming back because you find something of value here. So, we have planned for adding some great things that go beyond just trying to sell EZ-Log.
C.A.N.E.I. - Our Middle NameOver in the FAQ, we talk about C.A.N.E.I. or Constant And Never Ending Improvement. Now that we've gotten to this - what you see on the site now - We won't rest on our laurels.
Expect to see EZ-Log continuing to be refined and improved. Expect to see more great content for drivers on this site. Stay tuned - the best is yet to come. If you think of something you would like to see on our web site, let us know. Send your comments and suggestions to us on the Contact Page. Opens in a new tab or window.
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EZ-LogEZ-Log was developed by a real driver who uses EZ-Log every day to make his life easier. Find out more in the About tab.
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