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Hacking your life through data collection and analysis
69 points by SimonEschbach 2347 days ago | hide | past | web | 30 comments | favorite
I had the idea for years to create some kind of program that would use statistical analysis to analyze everyday data and advise things to me about my life that I couldn't quite see or didn't quite know.

It all started as a spreadsheet with a bunch of formulas - I found out that the days I exercised were 20% more productive than the days I did nothing but work. I also came to realize that doing something active each day had a huge affect on how happy I was - my perceived happiness was almost 30% greater on the days I did some kind of physical activity.

Once I had a couple weeks worth of data it was plain and obvious to me that there was a better way for me to live my life. After finding out that work brought my mood down an average of 40%, how could I keep working my office programming gig knowing so well that it made me miserable?

So I decided to quit my job and turn this spreadsheet into an app that other people could use. And so LifeUp was born. It goes without saying, I'm a lot happier these days.

I finished LifeUp recently and it's available for download on iOS for 2 bucks - a small price to pay to find out some truly valuable insight into your life.

I mean, when you are stuck in a rut it can become impossible to see the way out. Maybe my app can help you realize important things similarly to how it helped me...

Check it out, you'll be amazed at what you can find... www.getlifeup.com

Marketing matters.

If you tell someone to hack their life by gathering statistics, that's cool and nifty.

If you tell someone that the Personal Software Process requires you to gather data on time, defects and estimates of software development, you'll get a lecture about maintaining flow and the evils of high ceremony and the SEI.

If you tell someone to hack their life by gathering statistics, that's cool and nifty. If you tell someone that the Personal Software Process requires you to gather data on time, defects and estimates of software development, you'll get a lecture about maintaining flow and the evils of high ceremony and the SEI.

That is quite possibly the single most brilliant thing I have ever read on HN. And that's saying something considering the people who post here. Maybe it's not so much "brilliant" as just "timely" but that really hits home.

It's amazing how a little bit of wording can completely change the way we view something. It's one of those things I - and probably most of us - appreciate intellectually... but when it's so glaringly pointed out, it's like somebody pulling the wool from over your eyes. Or like seeing The Matrix, whatever. Thanks for sharing!

Business punks know this, which is why they stampede from buzzword to buzzword, regardless of its meaning. It's just that Google juice has given geeks a similar incentive.

edit: and if that was the most brilliant thing you've read on HN, to quote the Slashdot meme, you must be new here :D

Hehehe, no, not new at all. And like I said, maybe it was just the timing... but that was an excellent example of the power of words. Which, strangely enough is something I enjoy studying, even outside of this context. Your example above just struck a chord with me for some reason.

Love the idea -- I recently started capturing more and more data on my own life. But I have an Android phone .. haven't seen any other mentions of Android options on this thread so I thought I'd throw this one out there... EvenTrend ( http://code.google.com/p/eventrend/ ) is a pretty neat freeform personal data tracker. It lets you enter data, will generate pretty graphs, and even calculates some correlations (strong <-> weak, positive/negative). The data can be anything you can put a number on. It also allows aggregation -- you can tell it to only store a sum or average for a particular field for some period: e.g., I want to know how much time I spend exercising per day.

What about GPS based inputs - ie, you know where 'work' is, and you know where 'the gym' is. And the shops, etc. You could allow GPS tagging of certain locations and then perhaps track visits to same, reducing the amount of data input needed. I'm not too familiar with iOS, so I'm not sure if this can be done without the app running in 'foreground', though. You could also do this with speed - ie, constant 6 kmh is 'running - exercise', or a constant (average) 60 kmh is 'driving' or 'commuting'.

I love this idea! There is no reason to not use GPS since all of the devices support it now anyways. Thanks for the ideas!

The reason not o would be battery life. I'd hate it if I had to recharge my phone every 2 hours.

Crashes if tasks have dashes.

Also, a bit too friction-ey to enter tasks, should be a shortcut to enter today's mood/tasks right from the main screen of the app, as well as some pretty graphs.

I like that some tasks are pre-populated and that there's explanatory text. Very helpful.

Suggestion: allow people to share goals or something like that so that people can encourage each other to stick to a certain exercise plan, for example.

Trying to reproduce this now, thanks for the input!

I have a spreadsheet that I use for some simple things. The problem for me is that I suck at recording the data. I try to solve that by making the data collection passive (or observant). The GPS comment above is along the same lines.

Examples: RescueTime for tracking my productivity on my computer. RunKeeper for tracking my exercise (running). Withings scale for tracking my weight. Spending via Mint.

Gaps: Food intake. Non-computer work. Time spent with my kids.

The ideal product for me would be one that integrates with the passive data collection services I use already, finds ways to make the collection of the gaps as painless as possible, and then finds correlations and such.

Website needs to show an example of a life changed, even if just some sample data.

Agreed, thanks for the input. I was just thinking this morning that the website doesn't do a very good job of selling the product in that respect.

Great way to do product research btw.

What about negative correlations? Currently it tracks "things you do", but what about "things you don't do"?

Good point, I'll add it to my TODO list ;)

Any possibility this could be used to track health data as well as mood? I run a health website with a diet and lifestyle focus to addressing serious illness. I am increasingly looking towards tools similar to this one as a potential means to help people manage the kinds of changes that made such a big difference in my health. Stuck in a rut is not nearly as challenging as "stuck in medical hell and can't get out". In such situations, there is enormous need for an objective means to gather data and make better decisions.

Thanks and please let me know when there is more info (like screenshots) available.

Yes I wanted to add the option to associate a generic variable with each Task, such as 'number of hours' for sleep, or 'number of calories' for lunch. I would like to tailor the app so that more data can be stored and analyzed - that way you end up getting exponentially more correlations and ways in which to interpret the base set of information.


If you get that added, drop me a line. :-)

I'll add it tonight!

Good idea, I've done this in the past using excel too, but that gets to be a pain.

Classic saying, applies to what we build on the web, as well as our lives: What you measure improves.

I'd like to get a hold of you with some different ideas for that app, or possibly a different app altogether. Do you have an email I could send ideas to?

Sure: s.eschbach@gmail.com

This is brilliant. I had an idea floating around in my head in December for something similar - capturing data points on a daily/bi-hourly etc basis onto a spreadsheet of sorts and using Rstats to output some analyses on them.

There's definitely a market for this should you want to go commercial, but if you don't, would you mind sharing some of the formulae?

Nice idea, unfortunately I don't have an iOS device.

Would love to see a longer write up of this - maybe one article about your manual data collection + analysis + insights (if that's not too personal for you!) and another article about how your app does it all for you.

Have always wondered what tracking these types of things would reveal in my life; love that you took the time to make this happen.

Would be more than happy to purchase your app to reward your courage in jumping ship and working on this.

Keep up the good work!

I'm interested in the same kind of stuff, but I have nothing really tangible yet except a prototype I work on in my off-time. Let me know if you want to chat.


Does anyone else remember Moodstats from _way_ back when: http://www.moodstats.com

I prefer Datum - its free now on the app store.

Datum doesn't compare two different correlated values, does it?

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