Beeminder Forum

Am I dense? Still confused by my max safety buffer.

The super helpful @shanaqui has talked me through this, but I still can’t wrap my head around it. Can anyone help?

I have a “do less” goal. Here are the parameters:

goal rate 100
max safety buffer 200

I accumulated buffer for a few days, and it got auto-trimmed to 200. Great!

But today it says “You have 102.0 units of buffer”. Nikki informed me that the buffer is the same thing as the daily allowance, so it’s not added on top of the daily allowance.

An input of 103 today would take me above the road! Which doesn’t make sense, since it’d be my first day over my 100 goal rate, and I’ve been accumulating buffer for several days without going over my goal rate once. Here are my data points:

Day 1: 50
Day 2: 67
Day 3: 83
Day 4: 69
Day 5: 77
Day 6: 78
Day 7: 99 (safety buffer was listed as 200 this day, before inputing data)
Day 8: 99
Day 9: today (safety buffer now listed at 102, haven’t inputed data yet today)

Given that I haven’t “eaten into” my safety buffer, why did my safety buffer get reduced from 200 to 103?

I’m feeling a bit dumb. If I went under my goal rate for 8 days, yet my safety buffer (aka limit?) is only 102 for today, then how did my safety buffer of 200 from two days ago get reduced so quickly?

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Don’t feel dumb! It’s not you. I don’t see why it would do that either.

I’ve replied to your thread in support, but here’s the chain of events:

  • ​On the 7th, you initially entered no data, so you ended the day with 200 buffer
  • It ticked over to the 8th, and you gained +100 buffer from the allowance for the 8th; at that moment, you had 300 buffer
  • The autoratchet kicked in and took you down to +200 buffer again
  • You later (at 8:17am on the 8th) added your data of 99 for the 7th
  • That used up 99 points of buffer on the 8th; 200-99=101, you had ~101 buffer left
  • You entered your data of 99 on the 8th; 101-99=2 buffer left.
  • The day ticked over to the 9th. You had 2 buffer saved up and gained 100 buffer. You had a buffer of 100+2=102 on the 9th.

(So for those playing along at home, it didn’t make sense because the situation as described here was incomplete – you didn’t know that data had been added retrospectively.)

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Thanks! So is there any way to fix this problem and restore the buffer to where it should be?

And - how does PPR affect things? Looks like it was disabled here and the results would have been different with it, right?

Thanks so much for walking through exactly what happened, @shanaqui! I guess the main answer is “enter your data before your deadline because that’s when autoratchet will reduce your safety buffer”. Which makes sense now that Nikki put it that way! Huge thanks also to Nikki for fixing things up for @zenkamal after it happened, too!

Good question about Pessimistic Presumptive Reports (PPRs). I think that would also prevent this since those would happen before the autoratchet.

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Props to @shanaqui, I didn’t even think about the data entry time as a possibility!

So a little bit of background @dreev and @shanaqui, in case it helps anyone in a similar boat in the future:

-My internet connection wasn’t always reliable in the past week, so I turned of PPRs in order to avoid being knocked off-road if the internet connection didn’t allow me to enter data.

-Additionally, I figured I’d forget to enter data maybe once or twice a month, and enter it the next day instead. So another reason to turn of PPRs.

-Hence, I was a bit surprised that even after turning off PPRs, entering the data the next day would actually bite me in the butt!

Is there any other way I can approach this? The max safety buffer was why I signed up for the “Bee Plus” plan, but if the max safety buffer is going to adjust my road before I can enter the data (albeit that would only be 2-3 times a month), I guess “Infinibee” would be better for me.

First thought: push the deadline to, say, 3am? I generally think it’s a bad idea to turn off PPRs, for all the reasons discussed in our blog post about them.

Indeed - I had read that post and thought long and hard about whether my reasons for turning of PPRs were legitimate.

I’m doing food-related tracking, but I try not to be on my computer or phone at night, which is the only time one could enter the totality of the day’s food intake. In fact, the “no screens at night” habit is one of the things I originally thought about beeminding a few years back :slight_smile:

Hence, it’s way more important for me to have the ability to enter the data for the previous day during the next day’s lunch, than it is to ensure I pay attention to the goal via PPRs (especially since it’s my only goal, and beeminder is the only app on my phone home row).

That being said, I think the max safety buffer just isn’t in the cards for me, due to the timing issue, so I’ll probably just forego that option.

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I have three suggestions:

Maybe you could get a button or alternate data entry device of some sort?

Like you could have two buttons, one for 10 units and one for 1 unit, and then just enter the data by pressing the buttons an appropriate number of times.

That way you can enter the data without a screen.

Or you could change the way data is entered so that the data entered for each day is the value for the previous day, if that makes sense. I had one like that for quitting something. I’d enter a 1 each day if I successfully abstained the previous day. So the data for 1/1/2020 would be due on 1/2/2020 and could be entered anytime on 1/2/2020.

So what you’re beeminding would then actually be “amount I did yesterday.”

Another option is just to increase your max to 400 or so. That way the autotrimming wouldn’t get in the way of adding the data.

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Thanks for the suggestions!

I can’t do #1, since I’m looking up carb counts in a food database. So if I have a snack at night, for example, there’s no way to find the carb count without looking at a screen.

#2 is very interesting! I didn’t think about that, thanks for bringing it up.

#3 is okay, although it doesn’t fit neatly in my brain – I see “max buffer = 400” and may overestimate the amount I can eat (aka just being irrational).

Well the 400 would be the amount it’s autoratcheted to before you enter yesterday’s data. So you have to think of it not as the amount you can eat today, but the amount you can eat yesterday and today combined.

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Unfortunately there’s the rational part of my brain and the weasely part – I had the max buffer set in order to prevent the weasely part from having any escape routes :slight_smile:

Thinking I’ll just go with a normal goal and no max buffer.

3 Likes

If you can think your way to inverting the measure so that you could track the real-life goal with a do-more graph instead, the max buffer would be less confusing in its behaviour. (Do less goals are hard, even for those of us who have been beeminding for yonks.)

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What’s a yonk?

I really suggest trying a “carbs yesterday” goal, since you ideally want to log each day at lunch the following day.

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Apple Dictionary has this to say:

yonks | jɒŋks | plural noun
British informal, a very long time: I haven’t seen him for yonks
ORIGIN 1960s: origin unknown; perhaps related to donkey’s years

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In an ideal world, I’d go that route for sure. But I’m too likely to find ways to weasel.

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Interesting! But it’s probably a bit too roundabout to invert the goal.

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Some goals invert better than others. Or you might find a pair of complementary goals that help manage the real-world goal. e.g. I’ve got both a drink-less-alcohol goal and a have-more-alcohol-free-days goal

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I’m not sure I understand what you mean - why would you be more likely to weasel for a “carbs eaten yesterday” goal?