Monthly Archives: January 2008

New Obsession: Tracking Personal Metrics

Listen to me read this: [display_podcast]

I have recently become obsessed with keeping track of things… like, what music I listen to, where I go, and what I do. The main reason is to create an archive, because as much as I would love to have a journal (diary) to look back on, there’s no way I’m going to do it. And so I can piece together an implicit journal by tracking my various activities. One looming project is to come up with a way to collect and browse this data.

For music, I’ve recently started using Last.fm again. Here’s my profile. Last.fm is a social network built around discovering music. It integrates with iTunes to track what songs you listen to, and posts that online for your friends to see. There’s even an application for hacked iPhones that tracks what you listen to on the go. There’s a direct benefit from using this service, and that is music recommendations, which you can play like a radio stream… and rate to improve the suggestions.

To keep track of where I go, I carry a very small GPS datalogger. This device just tracks its location coordinates every few seconds, and I download these files to my Mac frequently. You can view the tracks in Google Earth, which I’m using at the moment as a library for this data. This is cool not only for traveling, but also excercise (biking, running, even skiing).

You can also geotag photos with this GPS device… which will a fun part of browsing this ‘digital diary’. Imagine a globe, maybe in Google Earth, that you could spin around, and zoom in on, that showed every photo you’ve ever taken, right where you took it.

As far as keeping track of what I do, I’m relying on Twitter at the moment. (My page there). The website’s built around answering the question “What are you doing right now?,” as frequently as you wish. It has evolved into more than that, a new global communication platform… but most users still post the interesting things they do each day.

So, imagine all of these things, (location, music, photos, activities), recorded automatically for you, and put into a calendar. Something you can review and browse. Or have it email you a personal, ‘what you did in previous years on this day’ type email. And everything’s on a map. Because you carried your GPS around with you.

Another thing about this ‘digital diary’ is that all the automatic data might be enough to encourage you to add your own additional data… like your weight. Or more exercise details. Or private diary entries.

Would you use something like this?

Mac 101: Keyboard text selection

I use these all the time… especially holding Option or Command while using the arrows to move the cursor around.

To select text you hold down the SHIFT key and then use the arrow keys or HOME, END, PAGEUP, and PAGEDOWN. The left/right arrow keys (plus SHIFT) will increase the selection one character in that direction, if you hold down the OPTION (⌥) key the left/right arrows will select an entire word in that direction, and if you hold down the ⌘ key the left/right arrows will select to the beginning or end of the line. The up/down arrow keys (plus SHIFT) will select a full line up or down; with the OPTION key held down the up/down arrows will select a paragraph. The HOME key (plus SHIFT) will select all the text to the beginning of the document and the END key (plus SHIFT) will select all the text to the end of the document. Finally, the PAGEUP and PAGEDOWN keys (plus SHIFT) will select a full “page” up or down.
Mac 101: Keyboard text selection – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)
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You only need to hold Shift if you want to select text. Without holding shift, the aforementioned key commands will just move the cursor around. You probably don’t realize how much time you waste trying to point with that Trackpad on your MacBook.

Facebook for iPhone… Still Incomplete

I just saw a post by Robert Scoble, where he mentions the iPhone interface for Facebook that Joe Hewitt created. Facebook for iPhone looks pretty slick, I’ll admit that. But it is also missing a ton of essential features.My top wishlist / feature requests:

  • Commenting on photos
  • Edit Profile info
  • Message people from their profile
  • Groups

These are all things that don’t work on the current iPhone interface, but seem like a serious missing feature. Now, I’m not sure who to point my finger at, but I’m disappointed that there’s been no apparent improvement to the iPhone interface since it was released about 6 months ago.