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I've been tracking everything about myself (aprilzero.com)
461 points by ericnakagawa on July 12, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 157 comments

Anand is my roommate. He's been doing this non-stop for the last 2-3 months (but thinking about it for the last 9), including while traveling internationally for the first month after he quit his job. The last month has been nightly design critiques after I got home from work :D

His handle sounds familiar. Did he used to run a design company called Dragon--or something along those lines? If so I've been impressed by his design work for a long time. Really interesting to see how his work has evolved.

Dragon Interactive - yep.

Slightly off topic, your site design is awesome. Would you share what libraries/frameworks/skills/time-resources are needed for something like this. Just curious. For me, the graphics & layout are far more interesting.

I'm working on a detailed blog post about that. Some highlights:

• Running Django on Heroku • Coffeescript, jQuery • SASS • A lot of webkit transitions & some animations • A souped up version of pjax for loading pages • Getting the data from APIs from Moves, Runkeeper, Withings, Foursquare, Github, Instagram, etc. • The run maps are a set of coordinates passed to Mapbox to make the map tiles & Leaflet for creating the SVG line. • D3 has really nice geo stuff, I use their mercator projection to convert lat/longs to points on the map of the world

Love the spinning animations! Reminds me of the "tech" look and feel from early 2000's. Think Winamp skins.

The icons are from FourSquare - http://1x57.com/b/art-and-icons-of-foursquare-can-you-deciph...

He's using d3, jQuery, mapbox, jquery-pjax

Lot's of analytics (NewRelic, gaug.es, segment.io)

Skillwise you'd need great js, great d3, eye for design, patience to layout a million state transitions and animate them all with css + js, wiring up a million data sources & api's, jquery, ajax, pushstate, and pretty legit backend skills to keep this thing running ATM.

There's also a nifty Chrome plugin you can use that shows you the backend any site is using: https://wappalyzer.com

While certainly a neat tool, it doesn't shed a lot of light on the client side stack, and apart from revealing the hosting service and web server, doesn't say much about the server side stack either.

It is fairly easy to do such animations (if you talk about the animations) with jquery alone. A lot of simple fades in/out and background color changes compose the website as far as I have seen.

The site is slightly unresponsive, but this is probably due to all the traffic HN is generating. OP should consider adding loading animations, it would make the transitions more fluid in such a busy time.

That link points to a bunch of data sources, not how the site was designed, unless I missed something. A little sleuthing says the site is more about the launch of a CSS animations framework rather than a health tracker. Somewhere maybe there's d3.

Agreed. The mobile version is also quite impressive (viewed on iPhone 4s w/ Safari). Nice work!

I miss some important stats:

- Your height. To calculate your BMI and contrast it with your Body Fat %. To be a runner, your BF% is high, but I cannot see whether it is because lack of muscle ("skinny fat") or excess of body fat. As you are not logging any weight training session, my guess is the former, but I am sure you are not logging all these data to end up guessing :)

- Triglycerides: I find this much more important than LDL/HDL. It as a proxy for excess carb (either you are eating too many of them, or you are exercising too little). Remember, triglycerides are produced in the liver from any excess carbohydrates that have not been used for energy. They have nothing to do with dietary fats.

- Total cholesterol. To be able to calculate the TC to HDL ratio.

- LDL/HDL ratio. With you current stats it is at 1,5 (average risk), but it should be handy to see it in the dashboard.

My suggestions:

- Do some weight training. If you goal is to be healthy, this is key. A couple of 30 mins heavy sessions per week will do it. No need to become a gym rat.

- Eat better.

- I see that you are running outdoors, but your D3 levels are mid-low. I guess you are running either too early in the morning or too late in the evening. Try to get some running with the sun right above your head (just bring more water with you)

Congrats for this herculean effort.

>Do some weight training. If you goal is to be healthy, this is key.

Ignorant and sincere question: Why?

Muscle mass is a metabolic master regulator:

- It allows fast glucose clearance from blood via both insulin and non-insulin glucose transport.

- It drives bone density by pure mechanical tension. More muscle = stronger bones/tendons to support them. The usual hip fracture/high mortality we see in elderly people follows the loss of muscle mass->loss of bone strength->bone breaks->fall pathway, not the more intuitive fall->bone break.

- It serves as "organ reserve". In case of injury or disease, your muscle mass will literally keep you alive. There are some interesting studies about muscle mass on admission to the ICU and mortality/morbidity. This is the extreme case, but you get the picture.

- Not per-se, but the neurological effort you put in your weight training sessions drive the secretion of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF improves existing neurons signaling and promotes the creation of new ones. As a side note, I have seen a huge improvement in my - properly diagnosed - ADHD child after putting him in a functional "lift heavy shit" exercise program.

Hmm. I don't find this terribly convincing.

Running is well documented in its role in improving bone density: http://healthfully.org/highinterestmedical/id33.html

Unlike weight-lifting there are actual studies showing running promoting neurogenesis (the increase of brain cells) and improving performance: https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&e...

Finally, muscle mass is far from enough to be an effective metabolic regulator. While I have yet to meet anyone who runs 100 miles a week and is overweight, it's not uncommon to find that someone who benches 500lbs still carries a gut. I myself have gained a great deal of both fat and muscle since my school years when I was a runner.

I think weight-lifting does some great things depending on one's aesthetic goals, and it's probably the most time efficient way to increase bone density. It's hardly the optimal exercise for general health, though. There are many aspects of health, ranging from neurogenesis to heart health to immune system function to maintaining telomere length that cardio most helps.

You are implying something that I didn´t mean.

This is not about weight lifting vs running. Anand is already running and I suggested him to add some weight training to gain some lean mass, as his BF level (19%) is a little high, possibly due to the lack of muscle mass.

For the record, I run - or bike - at least twice per week.

That doesn't make much sense. As a competitive runner in school, I was under a 5% body fat percentage without really lifting. Now I do lift and I'm at about a 23% body fat percentage (and nearly 3x the arm strength I once had). Runners tend to have a significant lower body fat percentage than lifters, even at a professional level.

More likely is that the OP just isn't doing enough. Running 25 miles a week is enough to bring about significant benefits in health and fitness along with moderate weight control benefits. 25 miles a month is just a waste. Going up from 1-2x per week to 3-4x makes a huge difference.

Most likely is that it's a dietary issue. While living in Asia, I knew many, many non-exercising people at healthy weight levels just because they didn't overeat like Americans tend to. The OP probably doesn't eat like them.

Uhmm, looking at all the comments to my initial comment, I think this has gone offtrack:

- I am not against running, but I consider weight lifting a necessary addition to it.

- I am not talking about lowering body fat or aesthetics. I am talking about health. A lower body fat is healthier up to a point. Single digit body fat level is just an unhealthy as a 30% body fat level.

- In the same sense, this is not about how much calories muscles burn as this is irrelevant to health. My point is about the role muscle has in maintaining homeostasis in our metabolism.

- My point is/was to help Anand: My sweet spot for body fat level is 13-14%. This is where I feel and perform the best. Anand is at 19% and I believe it is because lack of lean mass; that´s why I recommended him some weight lifting.

>A lower body fat is healthier up to a point. Single digit body fat level is just an unhealthy as a 30% body fat level.

[citation needed]

>Anand is at 19% and I believe it is because lack of lean mass; that´s why I recommended him some weight lifting.

My point was that this belief doesn't make sense. Some people who lift and have a lot of muscle mass are lean, but many others aren't. A billion people who don't body-build are leaner than the OP. An objective observation of people (or even countries of people) who are or aren't fat doesn't generate very convincing evidence for the theory that people are fat "because of a lack of lean mass". It's because of their diets.

On the contrary it tends to be exactly those groups most interested in weight training who are the fattest— e.g. Americans and, to a lesser extent, Anglophones in general.


you were probably under-eating as a runner.

Lolwut? Not sure where you came up with that. Actually, I was eating more then than now and was doing well.

"Finally, muscle mass is far from enough to be an effective metabolic regulator. While I have yet to meet anyone who runs 100 miles a week and is overweight, it's not uncommon to find that someone who benches 500lbs still carries a gut. I myself have gained a great deal of both fat and muscle since my school years when I was a runner."

1. Take an equal amount of fat vs muscle: which will burn more calories? Muscle, obviously. 2. People who bench 500lbs are not that common, and those that are are probably power-lifters, not body-builders. There's a big difference. Power-lifters are more apt to gain 'dirty weight' (meaning fat included with the muscle) to help them drive ever-higher PRs.

Of course, muscle requires more food to maintain than fat does. I think you missed the point.

What I was saying was that merely building muscle doesn't do much in terms of cutting down body fat. Muscle burns calories, but people with more muscle also tend to eat more calories. This is even true of people who have extraordinary quantities of muscle.

Cardio, on the other hand, only works that way up to a point. People who do a bit of running also tend to compensate by eating more. However, after a certain level of volume, cardio starts to suppress the appetite to about what's needed to maintain the workload. This is probably why I've never seen anyone, including myself, manage to keep the weight on after getting over about 70 miles/week (about the level of an ambitious high school cross-country runner).

I find nothing to disagree with in fasteo's reply other than to add you're going to live a long time (hopefully).

So say you're kinda frail at age 25, and everyone agrees you lose about half your muscle mass by age 75. Half of frail at 75 might be a very big problem. If you want to be healthy at age 75, in contrast to merely being alive, that would have certain implications for your goals at age 25, or 50, or 70 or whatever.

Or the TLDR is many (not all) of the health benefits of weight training show up later in life not in your youth.

Superficially, I never broke any bones in my 20s or 30s so weight training might be seen as a waste of time, but the "real" benefit of weight training is I'm much less likely to break a hip at 75. Better balance, better coordination, more muscle mass so I have to risk less, denser bones, stronger ligaments... Aside from not having a broken hip at 75, just in day to day life I'm likely to feel a heck of a lot better.

Beautiful website indeed; there are a lot of carefully crafted details, especially for navigation.

I genuinely wonder though what to do of it. I can't seem to see what people do with all this data; what does one get from knowing how many steps, run, calories, subway stops and hours of sleep were accounted for in a day, every day.

I can see how one could be rigorous enough with his training to see value in some of it, similarly I would see myself trying to improve my sleep patterns. But really, so far, people I've met use this as yet another distraction.

I have yet to meet anybody who has been leveraging the data they collect; most (all?) people I know eat healthy, exercise and sleep well do so without relying on devices. Now, once we're able to track real health related data continuously, we may be able to detect illness or problems as soon as they arise and effectively create a feedback lookp. But from where I stand, as of today, these things are just gimmicks.

I'll give you one small example. I started using a sleep tracking app on my iPhone because I have bad onset insomnia and don't sleep well. After one weeks use I noticed that the nights I went for a short 20 min walk before bed I had a much better sleep score. I also fell asleep faster.

Another thing I noticed was that I feel asleep faster if I didn't listen to music or podcasts. I've listened to them for years thinking it helped me fall asleep more quickly but using the app for a week I was able to prove that false. Obviously my data set it very small but the changes seem to be working.

If you collect data on lots of different things all of these small changes/improvements you make could add up to a noticeable difference in quality of life. The holy grail of course is software that can analyse all of these data points and recommend changes.

IMHO, you don't need personalized data for this kind of stuff.

More seriously, there's plenty of literature out there about these things; spend 5 minutes on Google and you'll find all of these recommendations. You'll know that exercising will help you sleep. You'll read as well that screens tend to disturb our sleeping patterns. These are becoming common sense and shouldn't require you to run you own little experiment to figure it out.

If you want to improve the quality of your life, I doubt a fitbit will help you. You already know what you should be doing starting with the obvious ones:

- Exercise more,

- Eat more healthy (less carbs/sugar/processed food, more vegetables and regular meat/fish/eggs...),

- Sleep more,

- Drink less.

In my opinion you are missing two very key points.

1) Saying "well, you could just find this information some other way" may be true but useless - everyone has different mechanisms that work well for them. If it takes a device or app or whatever for someone to stick with a change they want to make, then good for them.

2) While there is definitely some general health and fitness advice that would benefit most people, it's terribly naive to believe the story ends there. Population averages are just that, every person will also have specific mechanisms and effects that are important to their own wellbeing and not particularly generalizable.

Fair enough. That being said:

1. It matters to me because I see this as a waste of resources (hardware, software, brains) for something that is near obvious. While it's anyone's choice to consume the way they want, I am just morally opposed to it.

2. What these apps address are general health/fitness metrics, in a very superficial manner. As I said, once we have more meaningful tracking I'll be onboard, for now these are rudimentary toys.


- Exercise more, - Eat more healthy (less carbs/sugar/processed food, more vegetables and regular meat/fish/eggs...), - Sleep more, - Drink less.


And as an insomniac I was having trouble with 'sleep more'. People with worse insomnia than me have to go sleep clinics to work out how to improve their situation. Mine wasn't bad enough to warrant that but fortunately there was an app to allow me to do a little of my own research. Without it I wouldn't be able to tell the time it took me to fall asleep - as I would be asleep.

Most people don't have such a high degree of intuitiveness to themselves to know what behavioural variations make any difference.

Google does not interpolate those suggestions from your personal data, that's where the fitbit etc. apps shine.

- Having a glass of water - Going for a short walk - Having a glass of wine - Watching a movie/tv show with your partner - Telling a bedtime story to your kids - Washing the dishes while thinking about your day - Talking to your mum/dad/bro/sis - listening to some calming music - having a shower

How would you know what contributed to your good night sleep?

Having an app/tool tracking these for you and telling you that your best sleep is when you do A C and F not E or G is very valuable.

If you are smart enough to track and figure it out, then heck, I think you have too much free time or you are highly intuitive of yourself

You'll read as well that screens tend to disturb our sleeping patterns

Podcasts and music don't require screens, though, so I don't see why you're assuming that was the problem.

Not at all to disagree, but just to clarify: drink less alcohol, drink lots more water. Minor dehydration is amazingly common and you'll be astounded how much better you feel if you force yourself to drink large amounts of water regularly.

This is horrible advice. This is the type of advice which causes people to give up on what might be a modest improvement, because they rapidly find you can't get anything done when you have to get up to pee every 20 minutes.

There is zero evidence supporting the idea that drinking water beyond thirst is helpful. If anything people tend to have slight electrolyte deficiency, which is exacerbated by fluid over-consumption.

For "people" in general that seems correct in aggregate. For older people we have:


You pretty much have to tell old people to drink, after they're too old to know they need to drink.

Its also "semi well known" that cold weather tends to mask thirst symptoms, and the resulting dehydration doesn't help much WRT hypothermia prevention, so this claim is, again, not people in general, but the subset of people in an environment colder than they're used to.

I have got enormous value from tracking my resting heart rate and body temperature. Anything under 75 bpm or under 98F and I know I need to eat and sleep more and skip exercise. No need to log. I think a ton of folks would benefit.

Beyond those two metrics I can't think of anything it'd be useful to check regularly. Reflex time or achilles reflex test might be good.

I'm not a doctor but I don't think that is true for most people. One of the most fit people I know has a resting heart rate of 40-50. Mine is usually 60-70 when I'm calm - when it is 80 or more something is generally off and I need to exercise more.

The low pulse of athletes is adaptively suppressed metabolism. It is not a good thing. The body deliberately reduces resting energy expenditure as a conservation measure because it anticipates the extreme energy demands of training.

Sprinters and strength athletes do no get a suppressed heart rate. It's only endurance athletes and others who train high volume.

This is well understood by a lot of trainers. Low pulse and low body temperature in the morning is an easy way to measure over-training.

People need to get it through their heads that highly trained "fit" athletes are not very healthy, as a general rule. They tend to develop problems relatively young. Marathon running is worst of all, each marathon run showing a statistical reduction in life span.

There seems to be very little evidence backing up your marathon reduces life statements.

Uhm? Why do you consider a resting heart rate of under 75bpm to be a bad condition?

I'm just assuming that you are within the average age group of hacker news readers (somewhere between 20 and 40 years) it's not really recommended for you to be above 75bpm.

Hypothyroidism. Anything much below 70 is indicative of suppressed metabolism. Up towards 90 is actually best. There are clear correlations between health, intelligence, and resting heart rate. The most intelligent people have resting heart rates up around 95 bpm.

The idea that a lower pulse rate is better comes from the observation that endurance athletes have low resting pulse rates, and it is generally assumed that endurance exercise is healthy. The truth is that high volume exercise suppresses the metabolism and compromises health.

Can you offer a reference for this claim?

Here's a counter-claim: "A normal resting heart rate for adults ranges from 60 to 100 beats a minute.

Generally, a lower heart rate at rest implies more efficient heart function and better cardiovascular fitness. For example, a well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats a minute."

Source: Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/expert-answ...

Which app do you use, may I ask?

'Sleep Cycle'. Orange icon with a clock on it. I was always quite skeptical of it and didn't download it until recently. It's been one of the top apps for a few years and has good reviews. I've found it to be quite accurate. It recommends that you keep your iPhone connected to a charger and under your sheet as you sleep but I've found just placing the device next to my pillow works fine and only uses about 25-30% battery life per night.

I have enjoyed lifting weights for years, but in October 2013, I took the plunge, bought a bench, some bars and some plates, and started seriously lifting.

When I started seriously lifting, I collected some bench marks. I collected my one rep max, six rep max and ten rep max in four different exercises. Then, I collected data on my pulse rate after doing a ten rep set in various exercises.

When I work out, I collect what exercises I performed, how many sets/reps, and what kinds of weight I lifted. And, I intended to check my benchmarks once a month, but in practice it has worked out to be closer to every six weeks.

Roughly nine months later and collecting that data has proven very beneficial. For example, with strength training it is too easy to get into a routine and then keep banging out that same routine every day. I always know what I did the last time I worked a muscle group, so I feel intense pressure from myself to either move a few more pounds, bang out another set, or add a few more reps to a set. And, I get to track how various lifestyle changes interact with strengh training.

For example, in December, I broke my right thumb cross country skiing and had to take some time off lifting. Weirdly, the time off actually increased my bench and shoulder presses because I was using my left (non-dominant) side significantly more often. Balancing my right and left sides made me significantly stronger.

Or, in May, the snow was gone so I started jogging again. Jogging improved some aspects of my lifting - for example, my heart rate after a set has dropped since I added in jogging. But, it has also hurt other aspects - for example, my gains in strength are actually slowing. Incidentally, monitoring my jogging showed me that my tendency to settle into a routine carries across into other forms of exercise. I realized that I was running the same route every single time in roughly the exact same amount of time. My body got used to a level of effort and then stopped getting better.

Just because the 'people you have met' use this as a distraction does not mean that everyone will. And, just because all the people you know eat well and exercise regularly, it doesn't mean that everyone does. Some people find that the simple act of tracking their performance keeps them motivated to continuously improve. Others have goals beyond 'be healthy' and need to monitor their progress if they have any hope of reaching their goals.

>"Incidentally, monitoring my jogging showed me that my tendency to settle into a routine carries across into other forms of exercise. I realized that I was running the same route every single time in roughly the exact same amount of time. My body got used to a level of effort and then stopped getting better."

This is the trifecta of slow—consistently low mileage, no hills and running at the same speed every workout.

I would be neat to see your pre and post workout blood-pressure stats too, and how that has changed over time. I can personally tell that when I squat or deadlift near my max that my BP peaks. I'd like to know how quickly it falls off after, etc. I'm also curious to know if heavy-lifting has positive effects on circulatory system elasticity.

You are right. From what I see apart from use for sports professionals or people for whom physical health matters too much ( livelihood ) they would make use of it the most.

But still gathering al this data religiously is good ( I haven't yet ) as sooner or later somebody will figure out how to use the data so well that it could ( algorithm / AI ) could determine what you should do today to reach a certain goal to stay healthy which you messed up a day before? For example, people who work out a lot and live on a diet, might some day indulge in something without really wanting to and all this data could tell how much ( theoretically ) will affect your health so what you should do today to make up for yesterday (?).

Think about this on much broader aspect, too much of something eventually is bad. Nobody is going to tell you forever to stop something until you stop, apps like this could gather data and at the end of a week/month/quarter could tell you your score and could rather calculate the risk of xxxx disease/illness which could happen because of your bad eating habits.

All this data could be synced with your medical file/with your doctor in order to keep tabs on your health and push personalised notifications of what and what not to do or just be cautious/warning.

I don't know if such thing really already exists or possible or even good but all this data could be tapped in and used much better way.

Oh and no clue why all this data should be social or public. IMO, it should be private and shared within family/concerned people.

In order to correlate with heath issues your going to need a standard to work from. Which makes collecting most of this info before 'fit-bit 12.0' or whatever somewhat pointless.

What exercise data can tell you is if your gaining or losing ground. So, if you do 10k in the same time but your heart rate is higher or lower that means something. But it's not going to correlate with a say a 1% increase of diabetes because we just don't run studies with that much detail yet.

The site seems to be showing that it has gathered a lot more than just eating and burning calories, safe to say such intensive data can be used to correlate with certain standard illnesses to be cautious.

Your data over a period of few months might make more sense to understand what ill-effects certain things have had on you. Think about 1 year's worth of your data being analysed to tell what certain things have had certain health related changes in you. Of course it still would take time to know how the changes you make will change things in you but based on your past data it could predict perhaps?

Do you really need an app to tell you you're not eating healthy? Nutrition and exercise aren't that hard; your body is able to let you know fairly easily when you're messing up, if not immediately at least over time. I have a very hard time believing that tracking your calories is going to significantly change your diet in the long term.

If you're overweight, you don't need to check on your smart-watch to know it. If you're drinking too much, you probably know about it already. And if you refuse to recognize it, I'm not sure numbers will help you. You don't need an AI to see that if you're 5 times a week at the pub for an average of 2 hours, you may have a problem.

There seems to be a strong belief that these things are hard to evaluate on your own, that the body is something mystical that can't seem to have any obvious logic. Yet we refuse to listen to the very basic, and reliable, signals our bodies broadcast.

Now if you're diabetic, or developing an illness, having a silent device continuously testing your blood would help. But we're far from it.

There is a lot of other data these apps collect other than just the calories you eat or burn. Of course almost everything is a approximation but better than zero data on anything.

Nobody gets overweight overnight. You might not end up being 'overweight' if you know your certain eating habit will end up being bad for you ( everybody has a different metabolism rate ) so you cannot say eating xxxxx causes your friend to gain weight so will it you gain weight if you eat it out of moderation. All the data being collected individually and studied/analysed over time for 'you' is what could change.

Everything you say is right and approximations have been working good for everyone till now, but there is never harm to move from approximations and assumptions to absolute certainty about a few things we can measure ( now ).

This data could help you know when is the right time to test your blood maybe?

Honest question; can you point me at these apps? The only stuff I've seen so far is either tracking external data (running, walking, activity, ...) or requires input (for calories for example). There are some dabbling with more interesting data (blood levels for example), but too inaccurate to be taken seriously for now.

I don't agree that approximation are better than zero data; people are already self-diagnosing a lot, without the understanding that numbers, averages and science in that field are not as accurate as we'd like it to be. It takes a physician to accurately guess what may be good/wrong with you (and I mean guess).

Ultimately, I feel there's enough big, obvious metrics you can derive from your body without strapping a fitbit on.

Sir, It seems you misread my first reply itself.

>...But still gathering all this data religiously is good ( I haven't yet ) as sooner or later....

Also, Physicians do not accurately take the data. They ultimately diagnose/analyse the data they get from tests/devices/you.

You should read my earlier replies keep in mind that nobody here said that the data could be used to STOP going to doctors, it would rather help us skip a few visits but ultimately of course if something tells you, you are going to be sick ( gadget or sixth sense ) you'll need to go to your medical practitioner. Doctors and hospitals can never be replaced.

Keeping yourself healthy is different from falling sick.

I like it. My big beef with it so far is that it looks like most of this stuff is input manually by Anand. (The 1200+ commits suggests that it's manual and not automatic.) I'm not anal enough to spend that kinda time tracking things. I have a Fitbit, a scale that i step on every day, Strava to track my runs, etc, but those are all things you just put on (or push a button) and forget about.

Things like climbing (which I also do) don't have automatic trackers, and tracking food intake is just too cumbersome these days for me to even try and keep up with that.

If there were better ways to automate these things and better APIs available to pull these things in automatically, I'd totally build something like this. I just don't have the time, inclination, or the energy to manually add the climbs, the calories, every food item, and myriad other things into the system.

So I'll say this: it's beautiful and full of very, very cool info. I just wouldn't do it myself unless I could generate all of that data. A handful of commits to build the site, and then let it update itself automatically via APIs. Granted, this means my site would be a bit less interesting, since the most interesting things on here are things you can't automatically track... but I'm working on plenty of other interesting things, and this just doesn't rate high enough on my list to do.

I'm jealous, though. Very well done.

For what it's worth, having worked with Anand, I don't think 1200+ commits suggests it's input manually (you can see on the about page a list of some of the APIs it's pulling data from), I think it more suggests that Anand likes to commit a lot when he's building something. And for good reason, it's been really cool to check out historical revisions and see how a design changed at every step.

Most of those commits are from designing or building the site

Will you make your code public on GitHub? I checked https://github.com/charm and nothing there.

The issue I've had is that while each service does have an API for pulling data in automatically, it's tedious connecting to all of them at once. I'm sure there are multiple startups out there working on a data platform for quantified self - Segment.io for my own data - and I'd love to see a framework like Anand's applied to that.

Food intake, water intake, caffeine intake, many forms of exercise, and even the work you do daily (depending on job) aren't easy to track. Jawbone UP have a nice caffeine app that is useful if you remember to use it. I've heard of water bottles which register the movement of a sip. I still haven't found a food tracker that works for me - MyFitnessPal is the universally acclaimed one but I loathe it. Taking photos of one's food is a simple enough proxy if you aren't interested in the overall nutritional composition but more the qualitative part (and you can actually outsource and - to a small extent - automate nutritional tagging from photos). But yes, we are a long way away from being able to let much of this data be tracked automatically.

I think the important part is to figure out what questions you want to ask, if you aren't dedicated to tracking for its own sake. Are you having trouble focusing in the afternoon? Do you want to figure out if your sleep is a factor? Track your sleep religiously and go from there.

In about page it states that "Most of the data comes from various apps on my phone". In powered by section it shows that he uses an iPhone.

Yes, I can read. :) I'm saying not enough of it is automated for my tastes. A nice chunk of that data is likely calculated from manual inputs (things like climbing and difficulty levels, etc).

If the cops ever ask you "Where were you last week on Tuesday at 8AM?" you'll have a solid answer for them :-). My question is 104 days and no journal entries? Is the author reflecting on this information or just logging it?

I ask because I have a lot of unformed questions and thoughts about what is known as the 'quantified self' movement. Given the technological memory of all these things, what insights or changes do you draw/make?

Yeah he's (my roommate) been working on building the site and hasn't gotten around to any journal entries yet. He just launched this yesterday. I've been egging him on to put more time into the blog component though, so expect some posts about how he built it and why he wants to log everything..

I think the site is absolutely beautiful.

What I am wondering, though is: how are the vitamin/mineral stats on http://aprilzero.com/sport/ generated? Is there a way to self-measure these stats without blood tests?

There's no way that I know of besides blood tests. It's a bit painful but not too expensive and in my opinion well worth it.

The blood levels are coming from a standard blood test, available at any doctor's office. I've been getting them about once a month.

You need to fast for at least 8 hours prior to get accurate results, and it takes about 2 vials of blood. I'm waiting for some sort of device to give you realtime values with just a prick of blood or constant monitoring.

Possibly tools like My Fitness Pal. They track this sort of thing. Here's an example: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/fresh-satsuma-oran...

Wow. This site discourages me, as I feel that I may never make something so pretty.

Don't let it... Anand is a rare breed :)

This is an astonishingly beautiful website, and clearly shows the technical and design skill of Anand.

However, I'm genuinely not sure what the purpose of this dashboard is other than as a résumé piece. What questions does it answer? How is it better than doing specific investigations using R?

Seriously, how is this downvoted? It's a sincere question. I enjoyed looking at the site, and I loved the interface, but I didn't get any insight into the data. Can someone enlighten me?

Nicholas Felton has been doing something similar for a couple of years, but he creates a printed journal: http://feltron.com/ar12_02.html

I would be interested in a turnkey solution with modular components that would allow people to quickly "snap" together a site like this.

Check out Felton's other site - daytum.com. It's an app and website that helps people get started, though the fancy visualizations aren't modularized just yet.

And http://www.reporter-app.com, an iOS app, also by Felton.

BTW, anyone knows why it is Nicholas Felton and feltron.com? (with and without "r")?

His friends gave him the nickname "Feltron"

'Tron' as a suffix suggests electronic or mechanized.

The design is absolutely incredible. I started using TicTrac [1] a little while ago, but it's not great. I hate that I have to set up and arrange everything myself. I really want to just wire up my accounts, and let a professional designer show me the information in a beautiful way. Other dashboards like Geckoboard [2] and TicTrac only let you dump a bunch of boxes on a page. The sports page on AprilZero is an amazing example of a cohesive design, where everything is laid out in a far more useful way.

For the last month, I've been tracking what I eat with MyFitnessPal, and have been tracking my weight every morning with a Withings wifi scale. It's extremely powerful when the data is collected effortlessly, and for the first time in my life, I'm on track to really change some unhealthy habits. Entering food in MFP is still a PITA, but I've managed to keep it up so far.

It's been one of my dream projects to design a personal dashboard like this, especially in the style of the Iron Man movies. This website has exceeded everything I imagined. I hope it becomes open source one day, and that I can contribute a ton of new integrations and sections. Or if not, please let me pay to use this service!

[1]: https://tictrac.com

[2]: https://www.geckoboard.com

seconded. Anand, I would pay for this as a service. Please let me.

Kind of random, but why is there so much time (entire days) spent in hotels when traveling? Is that due to Foursquare (or whatever) not allowing you to check-in to other places or did you really stay in the hotel the entire time? If so, doing what?

It's a genuine question--I basically NEVER stay in hotels beyond the required sleep time, so I'm curious as to how other people do things.

The data is accurate. Probably mostly sleeping, working or eating. There is a bit of a bias towards those being the most noticeable places since you spend a lot of time there, while other stuff you do may only be for 10-15 minutes and relatively is very little. You may be surprised by how much actual time you spend at home or a hotel even though it feels like you've gone out and done a lot of stuff during the day — by percentage of total time in a day it may not be that much.

Also many places have a lot of nice facilities that might still count as being at the location like restaurants, bars, rooftops, pools, beaches, gym, etc.

Just looked through it again and I think the lack of time difference is causing what you're talking about.

All of this stuff is fixed on pacific time, even when halfway across the world. So in Asia, the middle of the day will show boring sleep at the hotel, and the actual activity gets split up at the beginning and ends of the timeline.

Not ideal but I haven't figured out a good solution for that yet.

He spent a lot of time traveling while building this site. :) The first ~1.5 months were spent abroad.

I think he's more literal: did Anand really just stay inside at the hotel that much?

Yeah that's what I meant - he was spending a lot of time building it

Honestly, the only reason I use Foursquare and various other personal tracking things is I hope someday to be able to export the data into a nice visualization like this.

I would do almost anything to have this data for the past few years.

What I really like about Moves is how comprehensive it is — it has every single place you went to rather than just ones that you thought were worth checking into, etc. What turns out to be relevant or helpful data to have is hard to know except in hindsight.

I am a data junkie as you are, and I have several years of Foursquare data now, but just recently started using Moves. One gripe I've had is that if I stop somewhere for less than a two to three minutes, Moves doesn't register that I was actually at a location, and there's no way to force it to do so. Have you experienced something similar? Beautiful site, by the way.

But in the meantime you give up any sense of privacy.

Meh, at least I know exactly what I'm sharing, versus most people who have no idea a variety of corporations and three-letter agencies could get basically the same information from their cell phone, toll road transponders, license plate readers, credit card transactions, etc, etc, etc.

just so you know, all the information that's stolen from people without their knowledge, also happens to you, so the sense of knowing exactly what you share is honestly just an illusion.

I'm under no illusion. Just saying sharing on Foursquare doesn't make much difference.

So true!!

You're just making a caricature of yourself.

Personal health recording systems like this one are most useful for reporting symptoms to health care providers. In the event of a flu or a running injury, I like being able to tell my doctor exactly when, where and how the problem started.

It's also smart to record the data yourself instead of sharing it with a health tracking app. With due respect to those projects, I draw a line at sharing specific and private health information. I've arrived at this personal stance after weighing the benefits of information sharing against the risks of my data being leaked, mishandled or mined.

>> "Personal health recording systems like this one are most useful for reporting symptoms to health care providers. In the event of a flu or a running injury, I like being able to tell my doctor exactly when, where and how the problem started."

I agree but recently I read that doctors tend to completely discount this type of data provided by a patient as they can't verify it's accuracy (did the patient collect the data correctly) and it would be risky to base their diagnosis on it.

Even if that is the case I think it can be very useful for people with chronic conditions. They can find out ways to minimise their pain through this kind of tracking/trial and error which a doctor would never have the time to do.

This site is gorgeous. There is so much attention to detail. I don't quite understand the barely visible half curves right above the transport row for a particular explorer day.

I think the half curves just represent some form of travel. If you look at March 29th [1] there's a large curve for his 8 hour flight, and some small gray ones for walking to his gate

[1] http://aprilzero.com/explorer/march-2014/29/

Looks like HN took it down. Will have to come back later as the screenshot looked awesome.

If Anand had not done this whole thing artistically, there is no way it would have elicited interest. What if every one on the planet did this?. Then this whole thing becomes terribly boring and meaningless no matter how it looks. I am pretty sure many got attracted by the design rather than the content itself!

Very beautiful animations and visualizations. What tools did you use to build them?

There is an "about this site" link at the bottom, where he lists some of the third party services used.

In general he has a few global objects which seem to contain everything for each section; ajax requests, animations (which are webkit only as far as I can tell) etc. Most of it is done via jQuery.

> animations (which are webkit only as far as I can tell)

So that's why people were calling it pretty. It does actually look good with all that prefix nonsense fixed.

Seems odd to use prefixes for things that were unprefixed 2years ago in Firefox.


One of my pet peeves is when people are so "in" the webkit world they don't bother to even list the unprefixed version. I too looked at it in Firefox, and things actually look a bit broken. My guess is adding the unprefixed version would probably fix the majority of the errors I see.

I won't go so far as to say stop using prefixes, but ALWAYS include the unprefixed version last in the CSS stack. It's so easy with Sass also.

Insofar as I could tell, doing a simple s/-webkit-//g got things working, except for the gradients due to them still being in the old format.

Can someone tell me what is the point of this self obsession with tracking?

Why do I care to document where I went or which rock I climbed. Has narcissism finally become socially acceptable?

I think it's nice to look back at. I don't think it's too much different from looking back at a photo album.

It's nice to have metrics to measure your progress with an exercise routine (walking, running, strength training), weight loss effort (lbs lost, fat %), etc. Although there are always narcissists, I think many people just like quantifying their progress. Just like receiving grades to measure your understanding when you were in school, these metrics allow you to assess whether you are moving in the right direction, and if so, to feel a sense of accomplishment. Wanting to be fit and healthy does not equal narcissism.

Have thinly veiled insults finally become socially acceptable?

This has to be the most beautiful website i've seen.

Agreed; such a satisfying font and colour scheme. Really well done.

I'm on a tablet now, what libraries is he using?

Jquery + d3. Surprisingly it works quite well on my old Ipad 1 (graceful degradation for the animations). Javascript heavy websites usually crash safari

So a criticism of the stats: the health page bars for electrolyte levels are poorly conceived - they give the impression that "higher is better" (there's no numbers on them) - not whether or not the value is within the relevant "normal" range (which itself, should be adjusted for age/demographics as well).

There are several existing services that aggregate and visualize fitness and health data, for people who are too lazy to build their own site :-) I'll plug mine here: https://zenobase.com/

What other aggregators are out there? No offense but I'm struggling to figure out how to import my fitbit and moves app to zenobase.

See https://zenobase.uservoice.com/knowledgebase/articles/360890... for a list of services that aggregate health and fitness data.

The screencasts at https://www.youtube.com/user/zenobase should give you an idea of what you can do with Zenobase; if all you need is a nice dashboard showing recent data, there are simpler solutions like TicTrac.

Anand, you beautiful, brilliant bastard. That site looks awesome beyond compare. Awesome job.

I love the design and feel of the site. What would you say are the most important insights from tracking your activities that lead to any significant changes in your lifestyle?

I would be really interested to see your stats change by being effected by different diets. I'm interested in something like Paleo vs Veganism.

I love the site and design. Maybe displaying some values at nine decimals out is perhaps a bit more for eye candy than for information.

Quantified-self raises huge privacy concerns, and will make it easier to "rule the world".

What tech are you using to track all this? A fitbit? What apps/wearables are you using?

This is insane! Amazing work dude. Btw. love the UI/UX.

for some reason this page reminds me of dcurtis's home page some time ago.

This is beautiful.

its beautiful, however even the rather static looking "sports" page produces some decent CPU load and makes the fans in my rMBP spin up. Maybe that could be optimized :)

"Everything" ? Unless you publish a daily graph of your sperm count, it is not 'everything' !

So much personal details but no mention of the age? Grand example of SF's ageism.

It says he is 24.

Actually, it says he is 24.2827266, in counting

Amazing site, I think I like the age counter most of all!

Reminds me of a guy who was on Bloomberg West last year. He does it to become more productive, and find out what makes him less.


PS. The website is well done, but in all fairness, similar websites were made in Flash more than 10 years ago.


I can't believe you bothered to take the time to write that. Who cares what his running pace is, and more to the point why do you?

I think the point of the submission was to highlight the quality of the site. Not some strangers fitness level.

In all his clumsiness, chatmasta is exposing the core topic of the website: What happens when one publishes his private data to the world? Criticism, mockery, or respect if you're lucky to have the right crowd. I'm looking forward to seeing someone stalked using data he published voluntarily, just for the social experiment. Will it be good? bad?

Some guy already tried this. He looked up instagram users in his vicinity, looked up their most recent photos, then found them and freaked them out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P_0s1TYpJU

Clicked around a little and didn't see how old he is. Personally, I could run a mile under 5 minutes in high school, ran track for high school and college, wore out my knee so it hurts constantly at any more running for years after, and currently I'd be happy to get any time at all nowadays. So 10 minutes could be quite good considering his life situation.

For what it's worth: he's 24 (see http://aprilzero.com/sport/).

With rovers shooting lasers on Mars I'm disappointed that ligament and joint repair isn't as routine as dental work. Actually, I'm also disappointed that I still have to brush my teeth. The technology trickle down doesn't really jump out at you, does it? Imagine a country redirecting a year of military spending to advance the smaller everyday things.

"Jeez louise"? Was that comment made by a 13 year old?

" great website" "fantastic" "fabulous"...


So nobody feel that tracking everything you do every second and log it in real time and forever on a server is terribly frightening ?!!!!

In 2005 i predicted every one who ever logged on facebook would regret it one day and pay a huge price for it. This is more than real now. Still you don't stop, and now you're sending to "them" in realtime your heartbeats, your weight, what you yeat, etc.

Did you just forgot about LIFE ? Is this the next American Way of life ? So yout think totalitarism is Iran or Syria ? Pouarrrk !!!

You guys are totally out of your minds. Seriously.

It's only frightening if it's not deliberate / you don't know it's happening.

This is beautiful, voluntary and insightful.

It's also frightening if it becomes so mainstream that you become a pariah by not doing it.

Dave Eggers novel _The Circle_ looks at this, and while I felt it was hyperbolic and more than a little preachy, it's certainly worth thinking about.

"It's only frightening if it's not deliberate / you don't know it's happening."

Oh my god, how old are you all ? Are you the next generation of this world ? Don't you just understand you behave like products and not human !? This is possibly the end of the world.

Pretty sure your comment was tongue in cheek, but as a parallel to the older generations and this guy - consider that an autobiography is the author voluntarily revealing details about their life to a potentially massive audience. This is the same sort of thing, but without the narrative. It's also a work of art.

Quite possibly, yes. You should go hide and wait for the rapture.

So when they'll stick a tracker in the ass of every new babyborn you'll say "hurray, this is beautiful !" The world you're creating is just insane.

One will have to kill me before seeing me wearing a tracking device.

You carry a cell phone right? Use it to communicate too? Use the internet extensively? Those are the best tracking devices in the world. Your heart rate, the fact you eat burritos and exercise is relatively minor compared to the ubiquitous cell phone usage of the past decade.

I do have a phone, i AM tracked, ans i DEPLORE IT, but i do keep things SAFE the range i can that mean i'm not using any app i use my phone to call people and receive call. I don't have facebook or rubbish social network account where I expose my life. Yes all my stuff is recorded by the NSA, i DEPLORE IT, so i'm careful of what i can say over the network, you don't seem to be.

I just can't understand you can't see any danger for the future the way things are moving. We need to stop all this data collection on people. This data is being used already, for commercial matters and as a matter of fact for spying and mind control. One have to be nut to yell "conspiracy theory" when the fact is spreaded all over the news. Just go for curiosity on Wikileaks or Snowden files, just be curious. I'm not american and i'm not native english speaking, broader you vision.

Not to feed the trolls, but I've been thinking a lot about my relationship with my smartphone and the societal expectations of availability lately. Phones are effectively tracking devices.

Are you saying you don't carry a cellphone? How has that decision impacted your daily life?

Are you a parody?

Your point might be better expressed with correct spelling and punctuation.

You might be the parody has someone who seems to not care about privacy at all.

I'm not american and I'm not native english speaking, broader you vision a bit please, you understood my point, how many languages should I speak and write fluently to have your attention ? Oh and how many ones do YOU speak and write fluently ?

Why is it so frightening?

Nice PR campaign to prepare the floor for a new generation of wearables / tracking & monitoring devices .. don't get me wrong, I like(LOVE) the technology, I just don't like the idea of becoming a self-sponsored spy pawn on me and everyone around .. focus on privacy, local/self hosted services first, hardened leak-free hw, cloud data encryption(with keys not leaving your devices) by default + 1000 of other privacy-related challenges that are being largely ignored .. and since this is not in the fin. interest of hw manuf./main sw houses .. the world is becoming a modern, more efficient, better organised version of orwel's 1984 and it looks like regardless of the amount of information confirming this disturbing development, people naively trade 15min of fame for privacy again and again(and it - will - turn against you even if you are protesting in front of the "right" embassy - well, activism of any kind is considered a threat these days so better stick to those kitty pictures and comments about the newest season of <insert your favorite tv-series> )


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