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2012 Personal Annual Report (jehiah.cz)
266 points by jehiah on Jan 7, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 84 comments

Cool, beautiful, clever, engrossing, and yet something about it bothered me.

It took me a while, but then it hit me: This is a beautiful display of inputs.

Where are the outputs?

Where is the gorgeous dashboard that shows the results of all your hard work and the benefits that others got from them? That's something I'd love to see.

http://statuschart.com would be the ideal presentation medium for this. I'm a fan.

Beautiful design, but a little depressing as a picture of a life: work, transit, texts, coffee, neutral facial expressions.

I disagree. I think the interesting part is in the blanks in most graphics. He does a very good job at keeping his computer use to work hours, so I think it's safe to assume he has a life outside work. He sends a good amount of texts which means he has people in his life. He drinks coffee mostly in the morning which is good.

I'm not trying to say he has a "bad" life or is doing a "bad job" at something. But he seems to be saying that these things are meaningful as a representation of a year in his life. It's not bad to text or drink coffee or ride the bus, but I wouldn't want to think of a year in my life in these terms.

Just because these metrics show evidence of how his time was spent, doesn't mean that's how he thinks of the year. He might think of it as time spent staying connected with far-away friends, while writing awesome code for a company he loves.

As a parent, I have often wondered how much of my time is spent changing diapers, getting water/milk/juice for my kids, overseeing clean-up time, doing bathtime, reading, etc. I'd love to be able to look at a metric of this over the course of a year. If, at the end of the year, I had an annual report which included all of that (and work time), it would be very interesting to me as a way to understand my life better. I already think of myself as a parent, and know that these are the costs of being one, but that's not the only way I think of my life in a year.

Exactly. The reality is that we do spend most of our time doing rather mundane things, but that's not a bad thing. Characterizing a year in those terms is often really useful, and always interesting!

I guess. However, rather like any organization, I think it's good to review what has actually constituted the activities of a year.

I think there's some utility, and certainly some novelty in taking a very frank look at what you've done in a year. I'm sure that there are short, personal moments and achievements from this year that define it for him. Lessons learned, moments of growth, of love, of victory and of failure.

However, this is looking not at the interesting individual moments, but at the more mundane (but plentiful) every day things.

Given that, I'd love to see a follow up post of what the year meant to the OP on a more personal level. A blog post that covers those moments of growth, love, learning, and victory.

It's interesting that the mundane stood out to you.

The huge Computer Activity break in the first half of August stood out to me.

I disagree. No matter how interesting and meaningful our lives are much of our day is spent doing these relatively normal, mundane tasks. I don't think that necessarily has to be depressing. It's actually a really interesting way to analyze a life and I'd really be interested in producing my own annual report.

I would think that the fun and interesting events of his year are the ones that don't need this kind of reporting to remember or get insight into. Everyone has mundane parts of their life, and with this report, now even those parts are kind of interesting.

This is amazing! For those who haven't seen this already, Stephen Wolfram's been tracking such data for over 20 years (http://blog.stephenwolfram.com/2012/03/the-personal-analytic...).

I'm going to try to track some of my data this year. I'm more interested in health data - sleep, exercise etc. It'll be interesting to see how other activities relate to sleep and exercise.

I really love the data you linked to, that's quite the commitment to keeping track of data, and it's very interesting to read his anecdotes on it.

I'd love to do some of this information tracking, but nearly all of the data that I've seen comes from DIY setups, with custom tracking systems. Does anyone know of any open source projects that do this, or are willing to post their own solutions?

Beautiful. I would pay for a product that I could just turn on in the background and get reports like this daily.

Have you tried RescueTime? https://www.rescuetime.com/

That seems like it sends all data home. I find that incredibly scary for something so indepth.

I think it would be straightforward to write a program that monitors/records whatever applications have focus. I am only familiar with OS X, though. Using the accessibility APIs you can get the focused window and register for focus change notifications.

Of course there is a bit more in parsing the data you gather and creating reports/doing whatever, but the monitoring part should be easy enough.

The productivity gain I had from using RescueTime was well worth the scary thought of having a spy on my computer.

Is the productivity gain from the insight into how you spend your time? Or is there some other aspect I am missing.

>Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action; that the perfection of power should tend to render its actual exercise unnecessary; that this architectural apparatus should be a machine for creating and sustaining a power relation independent of the person who exercises it; in short, that the inmates should be caught up in a power situation of which they are themselves the bearers. To achieve this, it is at once too much and too little that the prisoner should be constantly observed by an inspector: too little, for what matters is that he knows himself to be observed; too much, because he has no need in fact of being so.

Michel Foucault on Bentham's Panopticon Prison design, which utilized a ring of cells around a central guard tower.

That makes sense, and now I am curious about trying it out.

As an aside: I think that is an interesting analysis of the Panopticon (which I hadn't heard of before) but I think that writing is needlessly wordy.


What gets measured gets managed. ;)

I think he's saying just knowing you're being watched is enough to change your behavior.

I am using RescueTime because i want to track on all my computing devices, but there are a few alternatives that runs locally. I recently came across this one: http://timingapp.com/ Haven't tried it tho.

You could try Time Sink (http://manytricks.com/timesink/)

Manic Time. Just google it

I second Manic Time. It's offline, so your data remains with you. Plus in addition to graph visualizations, it also allows you to track what applications, documents and websites you spend most time on.I reckon they have a portable version of it too.

my problem with these tracking apps is that it's too easy to "cheat" the system if you have more than one monitor. I typically have a video or stream open on one monitor while I have focus on a window in another monitor so the app doesn't log my distractions.

is there anything for mac?

Timing (http://timingapp.com/) does a nice job. It also allows you to define "projects" which are applications, folders, or websites which then get tracked together. Useful for client work or in figuring out how you actually spend your time on a spike, for instance.

Thanks, I started using it, it's already 5 hours. I see now it doesn't track very well. Then I've read in their website that it doesn't support firefox. It does track websites with firefox but has some errors.

What tools do you use to collect this data? Looks great, by the way.

a lot of it is just simple python scripts to download/convert data to csv files, and do some simple post processing.

for the computer activity i took a snapshot every 30seconds of what program was active, and how long my laptop was active.

So you parse your credit card statements (or equivalent) for the coffee & travel costs? I thought the travel was by distance (not cost) at first, which is what I was curious about because it would require a more active role in logging on your part.

Is this purely for kicks, or are you trying to use it to drive behavioral changes (e.g. spend less on coffee)? I ask because I always think about doing this, but I get a stuck on the "why".

coffee data is more driven from foursquare checkins, and only partially credit card transactions.

The motivation for me is a way to learn about my year (not directly to change my actions), and part a fun exercise to get better at data processing, javascript, and UI Interaction/charting. I like the hard deadline that a personal annual report creates naturally (ie: it's no good if i release it in june).

Are these tools open source?

The script I used for extracting sms/iMessages is here https://gist.github.com/4437883

Some of the other scripts just download data from foursquare's API, and post processing transaction download from Mint. Hopefully I'll have time to clean and post those scripts.

I'd be interested in seeing the one(s) that keep track of application usage!

I've dumped the cron job i use for data collection here https://gist.github.com/4477372

My rough approach to post processing this data was to group by 6 minute intervals, and to drop any records where the computer was inactive for more than 120 seconds.

I've tweaked it a bit here https://gist.github.com/4478297

- Logs active website from Chrome

- Stores time including local timezone (interesting to see what timezones I'm in)

- File name includes hostname

Many thanks for the script :)

For collecting application usage data, I used to use an application called Timesnapper ( http://www.timesnapper.com/ ), which takes a screenshot every x seconds and keeps track of the application title / etc, with the added benefit of allowing you to automatically categorize usage "Work", "Play", etc.

Found it really useful to be able to literally play back my day in 10 second intervals. Unfortunately it's windows-only. One of the very few apps I truly miss since moving to Linux almost 2 years ago.

-- I have absolutely no affiliation with TimeSnapper besides being a happily paying customer a couple years ago.

You could use arbtt (http://www.joachim-breitner.de/projects#arbtt) and then just toss your favorite screenshot utility like ImageMagick into crontab set to fire every 10 seconds.

Definitely interesting, and I'll probably try it at some point should I find both the time and the inclination to do so. Admittedly, I paid for that application because I didn't want to implement it myself. But I'm glad there are some building blocks in place that would make rolling my own a relatively easy task. Thanks for the suggestion!

I think there is some package for ubuntu that tracked everything written on the keyboard, like a personal keylogger. It was mentioned on HN during december, cant find it now though.

Checkout LifeSlice by Stan James (https://github.com/wanderingstan/Lifeslice) for OSX - the script takes a screenshot, picture of the user and tracks web browser usage. The sample report leaves much to be desired from a design aesthetic but the data is available.

Has a use been found for this visualization, or is it simply info-porn? What lessons can be drawn from this data? I must admit, I'm having trouble not classifying this as a waste of time--the result of the evolution-bred desire for tool-making, misapplied.

I asked the same question and he replied...


I think that "to get better at data processing, javascript, and UI Interaction/charting" is a perfectly valid answer. But in general, I tend to be wary of visualizations that don't ultimately inform some decision making process.

How do you track your sleep time? Anything with Fitbit or just hand writing/computer/mobile entry?

I can't speak for the author but I keep a sleep journal. I write down the time I go to bed, the time I wake up, and any dreams I can remember.

You could start using whatpulse to track your typing too (http://whatpulse.org) and if you listen to music last.fm would be great too (http://last.fm)

There was a really awesome program called Wakoopa that tracked program usage for a few years, but they shut down their social portion last year :( http://social.wakoopa.com/

I've not heard of whatpulse, but looks cool. I rolled my own data collection for keyboard stats last year.

I've highlighted some last.fm data in a few of my previous annual reports, but it didn't make it this year (I Wasn't quite into new music enough recently for it to be interesting to me).

Really cool! So what aspects of the report surprised you?

I was most surprised by the sheer amount of time I spend on the computer; clearly I need to unplug more often. (Though you can tell I did drop off the grid for a few weeks when my daughter was born, and again for a vacation in August. At least that's a start).

The lesson is to have more kids, fast.

Could you include a beard length index next year? I'm not certain, but it definitely looks like it grew out somewhat over the year.

I'm all for a proper beard!


Is there an official way of measuring beard length?


probably best to measure it in time. that is, a clean shave is length 0, time since last shave estimates length. If you use an electric shaver, the settings on the shaver associate to a known length. If you trim with scissors... that's a bit trickier.

Was the coffee move from Carte Blanche to Bourbon Coffee due to a change in location or a change in preference?

The bitly office moved, so my morning coffee habit had to switch slightly. It's for the better thought; I <3 Bourbon Coffee.

Dude, you've gotta stay away from Kava and Starbucks. You're paying above $5.00 on average per trip!

Interesting. Gotta try it some time.

Thanks for the great presentation. I especially like the weekday/month visualization.

Any reason behind the move to Starbucks as the end of the year?

lies, damned lies, and statistics. Unfortunately i didn't have time data for my other trips to Starbucks so that dataset is partial (I mostly visit Starbucks on the weekend/holidays).

The transition from Carte Blanche to Burbon Coffee in the middle of the year is when @bitly's office moved, and my coffee habit followed.

I did a similar report last year, focusing more on consumption (books, movies..) http://johanrhodin.se/RhodinReport/RhodinReport2011.html Hopefully this can be automated. I still have too many manual steps to perform.

Good job presenting the data as usual, Jehiah! The d3 stuff looks nice :)

thanks dude!

Looks like the "water" and "I'm a Mac" shirts are big winners.

Go on vacation at the end of July/beginning of August?

yup. I actually managed to travel without my laptop for a few weeks!

what did you use to take pictures from your webcam periodically? If it's a python script, could you please share your code with us?

Here's a quick script I whipped up. No warranty, etc. Also, you need OpenCV installed.


OpenCV: http://opencv.willowgarage.com/wiki/

I snap a picture every time I make a git commit. It's an easy way to ensure that I'm sitting at the computer.


I used isightcapture (The original source is offline, but i think this is the same thing http://distfiles.macports.org/isightcapture/)

https://gist.github.com/4477040 is the cron script I use on a 10 min interval.

There might be other ways to do this now days, but i've used this successfully for a few years.

Lots of fun data here that is visualized well. Unfortunately Safari crashed several times on my iPad 1 while trying to load it. :(

doh. That's probably due to loading a full years worth of images as png's (I've added support for webp images when browsing w/ Chrome but that isn't going to help the iPad). Sorry i didn't get to do more than minimal iOS testing.

glad you enjoyed the report.

The 24x365 matrices for both Coffee and Computer activity -- perfect level of abstraction

At first I thought this post was poking fun at the Bingo Card creator-style annual reports.

A very beautiful way to combine together lots of tiny snippets of data. Great fun!

for a moment I tought someone from czech republic made it to top of HN

and that was awesome!

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