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Beeminder API (beeminder.com)
44 points by andrewpbrett on Sept 5, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 15 comments

Danny of Beeminder here! Thanks so much for enthusiasm about our API! We're really excited about the things people are cooking up. Especially related to Hacker News, here's my Beeminder graph of HN use over the last year: http://beeminder.com/d/hn (that's time spent as tracked by http://tagti.me but it would be great to have something that measures page loads of news.ycombinator.com directly...)

Regarding TagTime: I am a little curious why you chose to have TagTime pop up a dialog box rather than doing something less distracting, like taking a screen shot.

BTW, one can programmatically take a screen shot on OS X with /usr/sbin/screencapture (where the -x flag means screencapture should not play the usual "camera click" sound).

Ah, the idea of TagTime is to be a happy medium between something like RescueTime (where it automatically infers where your time goes based on what app or web page is in the foreground) and manual logging where you explicitly clock in and out of projects to get your exact time spent.

Details are in this article: http://messymatters.com/tagtime

Short version: TagTime randomly samples you with a popup, asking what you're doing right at that moment. You never have to remember to do anything, so it's essentially passive. But you're not trusting the computer to infer what you're doing, so it's perfectly accurate (asymptotically -- you need a week or so of data for the inherent noisiness to average out, ie, to get a big enough sample size).

OK, but I feel the need to head off a possible misconception by pointing out that my screen-shot suggestion is also in the happy medium between automatic inference and manual logging.

Part of my suggestion, left unspoken above, is that once a day or once a week, the person would "review" the screen shots. During this review, the same (time-stamp, tag) pairs would be (manually) created that are created by your pop-ups. Its just that the "pairs" (or records) would be created in batches, rather than at the time of the events they refer to.

Now that I am done trying to head off a possible misconception, let me say that I plan to try your way, because there is already software available to support it. (I have software to automatically create the screen shots, but not software to support the task of reviewing the screen shots while manually creating the (time-stamp, tag) pairs.)

Oh, interesting! One thing I like about TagTime as it works now is that it captures things like spacing out or getting interrupted by a coworker or other things that you can't infer from screenshots.

But for people who don't like getting interrupted by the popups, your solution sounds good. (I find the popups aren't distracting at all -- they even tend to reinforce what I'm focusing on, or remind me to refocus if I was distracted. It's not like getting interrupted by email where it pulls your attention away from what you were trying to focus on.)

Installed TagTime and test drove it for a few hours.

Seems useful. I made 2 comments over at http://beeminder.uservoice.com/forums/3011-general/filters/n....

Hey Danny - I would love to have you list the Beeminder API on http://mashape.com, I think our developer community will love it!

Done! Mashape looks really beautiful! Exploring more now.

Great! Let me know if you need any help -> aghi@mashape.com

Ooh! One use we didn't describe in the post is TallyBee -- I added Beeminder integration to a super simple android tally app (it increments a counter every time you touch the screen). Put it on the floor, do pushups. Your nose increments the count at the nadir, and your Beeminder graph is instantly updated. Awesomepants!

One design dilemma we ran into when building this out is the "username" endpoint. When a user grants access, the OAuth default is to just pass the token back to the client. But to access other endpoints, the client needs to know the username of the user that just granted access.

So we added the "username" endpoint, but weren't (and still aren't) quite satisfied with that as a solution. Have other API designers run into this same issue? Seems pretty common - would like to hear what HN has to say about it.

Facebook uses a reserved "me" parameter which always refers to the user who authorized the token. For example:


My preferred ways to solve the problem:

1. Make the OAuth server end append additional parameters to the successful-auth URL. It would end up looking like http:// some-app.com/oauth-ok?access_token=abc123&username=jdoe

2. Provide an endpoint with the same data as /user/<name>.json, but without the uesrname in the URL. OAuth clients would query this new endpoint instead. While you're at it, might as well allow the client to request the goal list at the same time. Ideally, a client should only have to send a single request to populate its "home page".

Thanks, klochner and jmillikin, for setting us straight on this!

We're taking both your suggestions: username is returned along with the token as part of the oauthing, and also you can just use "me" in place of the username for any endpoint, and it's essentially macro-expanded.

No more lame-o dummy resource just for getting the username! (Well we're leaving it there in case anyone has already written code that uses it but it can now be undocumented.)

Thanks again for the help!

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