Brennan's Beeminder Journal

Week Twenty-two! As someone who’s inherently anti-authoritarian, it’s weird to be happy about how the status quo and how its been going. I don’t really have much to say in the way of updates, since everything is working as intended.

For instance, it’s nice to see that my writing has gone from sporadic large entries to consistent small ones instead. Similarly, I stepped up to the Emerald league on Duolingo in just a week. I’ve been thinking of adding a Clozemaster system as a supplement.

Also, a new system that I’ve introduced in the past few weeks is /foodlog, which is a simple manual text-entry where I enter what I’ve eaten the day with the syntax Breakfast: X + Y // Lunch: Z + A // Dinner: B + C + D, etc. I figure that just the act of recording my dietary intake will help improve it.

I’m also trying to look for a community. Without having the ability to attend networking events (safely, at least) it’s a little puzzling still. The internet offers so much in means of opportunities, platforms, weird niche subcultures, etc. But where do you go if you’re trying to find people that wanna actually commit to doing meaningful work and have fun doing it?

I particularly want to find or start FOSS projects, now that I’m essentially a week from finishing my web development program. I’m not sure if it’s imposter syndrome or whatever, but I don’t really feel prepared to take on the landscape of the tech sector. I definitely feel like I learned a lot, but at the same time the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know anything at all.

More related, I’m really curious about Beeminder’s metrics. For instance, how the average user (or poweruser) makes use of Beeminder. I wonder if I’m “doing it right” or if I’m being too lax. I wrote about burnout in another thread, and I wonder if my fear of it is causing me to not push myself or work as hard as I’m really capable of. Although one thing that I’m sure these Bee journal entries are too long and self-indulgent, haha.

Oh, and next week’s entry is going to be a few days late, since I’m actually scheduling a vacation for once.

(PS. Totally unrelated to Beeminder: I love GitHub’s new profile README feature.)

I look forward to your posts every week–I do not think they are too long or self-indulgent.

It’s nice, isn’t it, that paying a little bit of attention to something as you record it can help you make changes in it?

I understand wanting to find a community, but I would recommend “staking your own territory” and not putting “finding a good community” 100% ahead of doing the things you’d personally do in that community. I am always on the lookout for ways my brain is trying to put unnecessary dependencies or perfection ahead of actually putting myself out there :slight_smile:

I have been a professional developer for over a decade now, and I started out as a die-hard Linux and FOSS evangelist. I volunteer a lot more hours than I “should” on FOSS projects, even today. There definitely isn’t a single “FOSS community” but I know there are a lot of alternate universes where my FOSS experiences have just crushed my spirit and soured my heart.

If you are interested in FOSS stuff, I would recommend a few things, most of which are applicable to all of life, not just FOSS:

  • Be careful about what you tie your identity to. If you define yourself as a developer and then isn’t right for you or the world or it turns bad or just isn’t purposeful anymore, you can spend a lot of valuable time towards something unhelpful.
  • Be careful about others, especially about security. Just because tech and programming can make the world a better place doesn’t mean that it always does, and there are folks out there who aren’t like the programmers at all who will use software in ways the programmers don’t intend. Try to look out for them and stop them from blowing their fingers off.
  • Keep an eye out towards which things in projects change over time, and which things stay the same. One of the key “senior engineer” skills is to balance abstractions and changeability, balancing “you’re not gonna need it” with “every project like this tends to morph this way–let’s see if we can make it easier in case we need to move that way in the future”. I have no solid tips here except for “do it a lot and you’ll see, if you care to stick with it.”

I’m not sure if straight metrics will help you find out if you’re using Beeminder “in the optimal way”–and they may even be counterproductive. I do, however, suspect case studies and people talking about their goals in journals like this would be helpful.

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Week Twenty-three! I know I said this entry would be late, but I couldn’t help myself. I’m currently in a rather comfortable hotel room that I managed to book last minute as I make my way back to the city and back to work.

I tried my best to prepare Beeminder accordingly, but I’m afraid that it seems like I found out about my impromptu trip a little too late, and had a handful of derailments occur when I was out in the woods and couldn’t do much about them. I feel like that might have to do with me being forgetful about auto-ratcheting overriding breaks, I think? Regardless, I need to plan better.

Really, I’m not at all used to actually planning time off. I either work really hard, or I’m resolved to absolute laziness. Structuring my relaxation in general is entirely new to me. But I think it’s really great, as I am really biting to get back into the swing of things unlike when I procrastinate or otherwise neglect work for a handful of days (or longer).

It’s probably a problem that a lack of progress is so bothersome to me. In full transparency, looking at the flat lines that now encompass all of my beeminders begrudges me. I don’t think it’s the work itself, but rather the consistency of the work. Perhaps I am moreso wary of my own behaviour of letting the dying off of momentum beget less and less momentum.

Anyways, enough about the minutiae!

I wanted to thank you for your insights, @adamwolf . I’m glad I take a week to respond and meditate on such helpful advice instead of replying quickly and having it thrown into the ether with the insurmountable amount of other information that I find myself surrounded with.

It allows me to take the time to look into your work, and I simply have great admiration for what you do. I’m very grateful to get advice from somebody so experienced and I’d like to respond to your thoughts in detail.

First and foremost, identity: This is something I have had a reckoning with my whole long life. There are many labels that I associate myself with–be it out of voluntary want, or the realization that there’s an inability to escape them.

Specifically, I originally went to college to be a software developer four years ago. Three years before that is when I first began tinkering with makeshift themes on Tumblr, and installed Crunchbang! and began to fall in love with ability to create and destroy just by typing things.

I have realized at this point, whether I like it or not, I am a developer. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It’s just too much fun to make websites and write out documentation and learn new technologies. Of course I don’t think I’m a good developer, but I develop.

Second, and I’m sure this can be attributed to my lack of experience and naïve attitude, but I frankly am not worried about being careful. I understand (or at least think I do) the consequences of the openness in open-source, and the weight of dependencies others inevitably cause. Even with worst-case scenarios, time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

I sincerely recognize where you’re coming from, but these are things that I’m steadfast in, whether that’s a good or bad thing.

(PS. Related to Beeminder this time, my girlfriend suggested I refer to my entire group of Beeminder systems as a Beehive. I’m really not sure if that’s too clever or too cheesy.)

Week Twenty-four! Another rather uneventful week. I’ve been working with Python frameworks like Flask and Django recently, and I’m starting to piece together a plan to start an independent project, probably with something like Stripe integration for a simple way to become self-sufficient. It’s crazy to me how many prerequisites come with using any sort of framework. It reminds me of a quote from Carl Sagan:

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.

Anyways, back to Beeminder. Once thing I’ve noticed whenever I try to explain the entire concept to people (maybe ‘pitch’ is a better word), their first question is to ask where the money goes–and they’re usually displeased by the answer–Beeminder itself.

Of course, this is absurd if you think about it carefully. I’m not sure why people would approach systems or goal-setting with the generalized or personal notion of failure-by-default. Obviously, it should be the complete opposite! I’m trying to give the least amount of money to Beeminder by successfully completing the promises I’m making to myself (excluding the subscription I have, due to being a superuser).

Just a small tangent rant I thought I’d share. I don’t really use Beeminder for the punishment consequence anyways, I just like the pretty graphs that are slowly built–like plants in a garden. There are a couple of things (bugabees?) I noticed this week:

  • /photos kept derailing before, and I thought it was due to delayed updates from IFTTT. Not the case! It actually doesn’t track multi-photos (posting multiple photos as one “entry”, sort to speak). So if I uploaded photosets, nothing happened. I’m not sure if this is a bug or a feature, since IFTTT doesn’t have any options regarding multi-photos, just single photos and videos.
  • /github sometimes goes up a wild amount. I realized this is because it tracks all commits, not just ones on the main branch. It even tracks commits from deleted branches or repositories, so I assume they’re cached somewhere?

I don’t think either of these are explicitly bugs, just points of interest that you notice when you’ve had your head stuck in the honey too long. (Too many bee puns?)

+1

Re FOSS projects: Is it possible that you (Brennan) are still on some level wondering “can I find somewhere where I can make myself useful”?. The answer is yes: FOSS projects are an inexhaustible ocean of work people would love you to tackle that you’ll be able to do. Projects people would love to have you help out with, projects people wish somebody else would create, projects people didn’t even know they needed.

If you haven’t done it yet, why not:

  1. Pick a project you want to use, or are already using
  2. Is there a little thing that’s annoying? Fix it – or pick an (easy) existing bug filed by somebody else. Don’t ask permission to fix it, just do it and push a pull request
  3. Keep doing that

You’ll probably find people very happy you’re doing it before long. If they don’t show that and you want some appreciation (why wouldn’t you), keep moving around / doing different things until you get it.

After the initial effort to be useful, my initial experience with doing open source work was (over a period of years in fact) I let the positive feedback from this sort of thing overwhelm my own sense of my personal goals. Your experience may vary of course.

I’m sure you realise that will continue forever, or at least as long as you pay attention.

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Week Twenty-five! I was feeling a little down and tired during the middle of the week (two derailments!) but I feel like I got a pep in my step again! I’ve got a lot of things going on, probably too many, but oh well!

First, I wanted to address @halfplane’s excellent advice. The world is filled to the brim with open projects that are looking for help, or even revival–and I do need to get out of my little bubble. It might be a good idea to beemind contributions / pull requests?

The Code Newbie podcast just released an episode on the subject to! Talk about serendipity. Here are some other good resources as a note to self:

Speaking of, actually I’ve been seeing this really cool trend of “Digital Gardens” after reading a post by Joel Hooks and Tom Critchlow on the subject. I definitely need to start centralizing my scatter-brain thoughts, and I’ve still been neglecting to start using Notion or Roam Research.

Also kinda related is the JAMstack, since that’s a pretty easy and good way to get one of these kind of sites up-and-running. Similar to my ideals with FOSS, I love seeing ways to make it easier for people, tech-savvy or not, to have their own website and internet real estate–instead of having to rely on the social media oligopoly.

That being said, I’m realizing the importance of social media for connecting with others and finding different projects as well.

Anyways! Let’s talk about the bees. Just the bees. That’s the entire point of this, after all. I haven’t done a comprehensive systems review since May. :scream:

Systems Review

Writing:

  • Writing: I’ve gotten into the habit of using Draft for all my writing now, and it’s going great! Folder organization is simple, so I can’t over-complicate things for myself.
    • Blog: I’ve been writing articles more consistently, but they’ve been informational posts the past few weeks, I want to get back into doing longer and more opinionated pieces again. I also really need to update the layout of my Jekyll blog, I’m probably moving it over to Gatsby.
    • Journalbar: This has been going great! It makes being accountable fun, in a way, and it’s entertaining to try to think of things to add each week.
    • Poetry: I’ve sort of been going into a longer form with my creative work, which I like. I think I need to add a new beeminder to curate my previous stuff to start organizing hundreds of previous small works over the years.
  • Twitter: I think it’s helpful to do small, daily updates and then have that to synthesize into these weekly updates. Although I do think I’m going to actually have to start using Twitter as a platform instead of a journal.

Productivity:

  • Productive Time: Been going well! I’ve found there’s been an upward trend of productive time use on my computer for the past few months, using the limited amount of data the free account provides.
    • GitHub: In spite of how good this seems to be going, as described by the quirk I found last week, I’ve actually been committing less this month. I probably need to stop spreading myself so thin.
    • Courses: Going very well! I’ve been completing a lot of courses recently. I just have to go back and retroactively add them in.
  • Distracting Time: Orobably a lot lower than it should be, since I can’t use RescueTime meaningfully on iOS, but it does deter me from using my computer for distracting fun, at least.

Fitness:

  • Weight: In spite of keeping track of both my daily activity and diet, there seems to be an upward trend! I have plans to fix this, though.
    • Foodlog: I’m going to be more detailed and thorough in my logs, to make sure I’m not glossing over any unhealthy details.
  • Daily Activity: Right now, I usually average only around 8k-9k steps, so I’m going to bump that up to 15k to try and be more healthy!
  • Sleeping: This looks nearly perfect, but in reality it’s not, my cat wakes me up consistently at around 5am, and I’m going to bed way too late. I can’t really remedy this using Beeminder at the moment.

Lifestyle:

  • Gratitude: I find the longer I go at this, the more creative I have to be, as my one rule is never repeating any gratitudes, but I do think it helps me be more appreciative.
  • Duolingo: Still stuck in the Emerald League, and only doing around 30XP a day from my previous average of 50XP, I think I’m getting a little fatigued.
  • Books: Not going very well, as I have gotten back into listening to podcasts instead of audiobooks. I think going on longer walks as per /fitness will help with this though.
  • Photos: Although there isn’t much artistic merit to my Instagram, it’s still been to fun to take pause and really appreciate my surroundings.

Week Twenty-six! Another uneventful week for myself. Initially I had a bit of hair-pulling trying to figure out deployment with Django, and luckily DigitalOcean has a great guide on just that. I really need to start revamping my website, but it’s so fun to put that off and work on little projects instead. :stuck_out_tongue:

One thing that I’ve been pondering is Beeminder’s alerts. I’ve found that I derail way less if I have phone notifications turned on that remind me through the day to do what I said I was going to do. The way I have them set up right now is super unhelpful however, with 10 or so notifications buzzing (hah) my phone every few hours.

It’s like a bombardment and kind of annoying. So, I suppose having a single alert would be really useful in contrast, but I don’t really know which system to set the alert for. Because if I complete that one specifically early in the day, then I won’t receive any alerts for other systems and will most likely derail.

Also, fellow Beeminder user @grayson made an informative thread on skatesum goals, which is a very interesting albeit niche goal type. One place where I think it’d be perfect would be tracking sleep! Right now, I’m using a do-more goal, but enough oversleeping can also cause problems the way sleep deprivation can.

Anyways, there are a few systems I think I’m going to restart, like /books. I need to entirely re-think my approach to certain things that A) I’m still not doing well and B) I still want to be doing. The good news is that the majority of daily tasks that I used to think would be impossible to do daily without much friction are happening on auto-pilot. It’s just a matter of deconstructing what makes them work vs. what doesn’t.

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Week Twenty-seven! Rabbit rabbit rabbit! A little late, but I was in the process of a hectic moving and didn’t derail on any other goals, so I’m giving myself a break on that. (I also don’t have internet utilities set up yet either, thank goodness for personal hotspots!)

The good news is that I’m going to have a lot more time to work now, so I’m going to be readjusting my current work schedule and flow-of-things. I believe I’m at a point where I need to formalize my tasks with something like Todoist, and huzzah, that’s easily integrated as a Beeminder system itself.

Speaking of, one solution to the constant-reminder problem I was writing about last week would be to reinstate a /meta system, but have it explicitly set to have a data point added once there are no other Beemergencies. Might only be a good idea on paper, though.

It might be symbolic, but I really feel like I’ve been given carte blanche to start doing different self-experiments now. There’s still a lot of setup that I need to do, but I look forward to trying new things that I’ve been putting off. Cold showers is a good example (once I figure out how to switch to the shower nozzle, hah!), and perhaps a stricter wake-up schedule. It’s all really up in the air for now.

Also, one fortune side-effect of a system, /fitness, has been going on wayward walks around my community and noticing things I would never otherwise if I was just going from point A to point B. I’m looking forward to doing that in a brand new neighbourhood!

Week Twenty-eight! Well, after talking about it for quite a few weeks, I finally finished the majority of work redesigning my website this Labour Day weekend. I look forward to dedicating my time working on little projects again, hehe.

I am afraid of this Beejournal getting rather boring, as I haven’t had any new systems in awhile. I spoke last week about experimenting with new things, but I’m not really sure where to start. I’m honestly a little worried about causing a disturbance in the equilibrium, if you will.

There are two things I want to discuss though, and that’s limitations and arbitrariness.

When I first moved to my new place, I was worried about having too much time and energy. I’ve found these to be a rather detrimental to my psychology towards work. Working hard and producing my best work has happened in environments where I’ve had the most restrictions–be it a slow, perhaps sentimental computer, no internet connection, a lack of time, etc.

When there’s limitations, I don’t feel the overwhelming pressure of trying to produce my best work because of those limitations and the restrictions they bring. I can only do the best I can. Thus I have to give myself permission to do as much as I can with reckless abandon.

But when I have all the ducks lined-up in a row, everything set up, then there is no excuse. I have to produce my best work. That can cause me to avoid trying to do any work at all.

Luckily, as I grow older, the lesser that self-defeating barrier that becomes. I remind myself of a line from the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann that goes:

“You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.”

I can only do the best I can, no matter what, and I ought to try to and do that, just because.

Now, onto the topic arbitrary things. I’ve seen other Beeminder users talk about changing to default midnight deadline to something earlier. This is obviously more sensible, as it’s extremely uncommon for someone to want to work until that late.

But I know that would be detrimental for me. If I allow the deadlines of goals to be 7pm, or 7am, then it’s just an arbitrary number that my weasel-monkey mind could change to whatever is most convenient for me.

The only time of the day that is arguably objective, and not arbitrary, is midnight. Since that’s when the day is over, obviously. It may seem silly, but little fixed rules like that is really the only way I’m capable of getting anything done at all.

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Week Twenty-nine! As @narthur mentioned in another thread, IFTTT is moving to a limit of 3 applets per account. Frankly, I’m surprised it took so long for this to occur, but it does seem disappointingly sudden. I don’t think that even IFTTT realizes the consequences of this, however. Automated content on the Internet is everywhere, especially lower budget/quality websites. There’s going to be a lot of defunct meme pages, that’s all I know for sure.

Thankfully I only use 3 IFTTT apps on my Beeminder, and it’s good incentive for me to just learn and use direct APIs from now on.

I haven’t written anything related to COVID-19 for awhile (rather, since it became a global pandemic), but I wrote a small article on how to get unstuck, as I feel like there’s a zeitgeist of being stuck right now. But that might just be me. Though, I recognize that I’m in a place of privilege which is why it’s been so easy for me. Being such an introvert, things haven’t changed much for me, although I will gripe about how cheesy virtual networking/meetup events feel, is that just me?

Also, deadline epiphany! Last week, I spoke about how only midnight deadlines worked for me. But I had an idea to hack my way out of that. Creating a schedule and routine via dynamic deadlines. For instance, having a smaller writing deadline in the morning to complete my daily Morning Pages, or having a step-goal deadline in the afternoon to go on a walk each day.

It’s still a little difficult to wrap my head around the fact that, if I’m savvy and clever enough, anything can be Beeminded, including meta stuff like Beeminder burn-out. I’ll start experimenting with this idea with new systems this week. (Although you’ll just have to take my word for it, since creating a Beeminder to track new Beeminders is one meta too many for me.)

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Week Thirty! For the first time in a long while, I feel as though I have too many plates that I’m trying to simultaneously spin. I had a weird experience this week, where I didn’t realize I derailed until the next day. I was perfectly sure that I did everything, and the usual alarms just completely went over my head.

A tool like Beeminder is really meant to do a bit of alchemy, in regards to work: You expend time and energy using it in exchange for being capable of other time and energy on different, trackable tasks. I say alchemy because it does seem paradoxical, or even a ridiculous business model:

I’m too lazy/busy to do certain work, so I’m going to different work on Beeminder.

Perhaps it’d be more sensible to view these tools as simple machines for cognitive function and ability. It’s not really extra work, but rather something you utilize to change the point of which you’re applying the work to. A lever, or a pulley, or a wedge.

I am rather busy myself, too. I just got my freelance profile approved, while also working on Marketing certification, looking for stable employment, and studying data science on DataCamp.

That’s why I haven’t started any new systems yet, even though I said I would by now! Luckily I can create them now, hah.

New Systems

  • /morningpages: Could be a considered a sub-system for /writing, that’s 100 words/day, except the deadline is 11am instead of midnight. Meant to get me to plan out my day. Might transfer to Todoist at some point. (Hopefully automatically trim safety buffer will make this work.)
  • /jobs: Idea taken from this thread from user @mtrazzi. Tracking the jobs that I apply for. Instead of manual data, I caved-in and decided to get IFTTT Pro to get data from Google Sheets so I could provide more detail for each job easily.
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I’m glad my post inspired your new goal, looking sharp :honeybee:

Funnily enough, I’m also using IFTTT + google sheets to track how many job hunting hours i do now :grin:

Also, for morning pages, have you considered 750words.com? There’s cool “don’t break the chain” UI!

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Week Thirty-one! Another rather quiet week. I have to say, autumn is my favorite year, but I always find it more difficult to be productive as the days get shorter and colder. But that seems to be rather universal. More specifically I’m finding it a lot easier to be productive at night than during the day, and I’m not sure why that is.

Ah, I’ve actually been using 750words since 2011, crazy how time flies! I actually wrote an article on my experience using it since I’m such a big fan. I’d say it definitely needs an update, though.

Speaking of updates, Fitbit just added “Mindfulness” as a new trackable category, I hope it gets its own API. That would make beeminding meditation a practical possibility for me.

Another thing, I disappointingly realized that Draftin doesn’t allow changes to the default deadline of 12am, for whatever reason. (Same with GitMinder, Twitter, and Fitbit) I’m sure if I checked the docs there’d an explanation. That just means that I need to find a different way to track my morning writing, which I’m sure won’t be difficult to figure out.

I’ve been thinking of starting a couple new Beeminders, one for Project Euler since I already have a repository for code challenges. And another for Clozemaster to supplement my French, although I run into the embarrassing issue of not knowing what to name it! (/french2, /clozemaster, /new-french?)

P.S. Anybody having issues with IFTTT recently? It didn’t update /jobs at all yesterday and I was getting 500 errors. I had to enter dummy data to avoid derailing but it seems to have sorted itself out today.

As far as we can tell, IFTTT had some SSL troubles yesterday (and the endpoints that were affected have brand new certificates on them today, so maybe they had something expire?)

I seem to remember that some of the integration partners already smash up your data by days, so it can be hard/impossible for Beeminder to re-aggregate it based on a custom deadline. I don’t know about any particular integration, though.

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Week Thirty-two! A rather busy week for me, bee-wise. I’ve been spending more time on the forums and getting more into the weeds of things, which has been fun!

I realize now, at this point, I have ±10 beemergencies a day. This is by design, as it pushes me to actually get my daily tasks done.

It doesn’t really work for bigger tasks I have, like blog posts, where sometimes I try to just create something the last day instead of utilizing the whole week for it. I’m not really sure how to intelligently segment something like writing an article in a way that fits into how I use Beeminder.

Systems Updates

  • /distraction: Cleaned up the graph’s jagged ups-and-downs in the road editor. I also changed the rules on RescueTime to be more strict with what’s considered distracting so I waste less time on the computer.
  • In general, I changed the views of a few older goals that I created back in 2017 to see their full range, rather than just when I restarted them. (Eg. /productivity and /french. I hope this increased context helps provide better understanding. Similarly, I’ve made data points public where applicable.
  • I also still need to find a new solution to /morning-pages, and this is my verbal contract to myself I’ll have that corrected before next week’s post.

I finally took a gander at beemind.me for new ideas, and I’ll be going over the integrations megalist (now that I know it exists, hah) this week to see what else I can add.

My rule of thumb for new systems is this, I’ll add it to my already large list of beemindings if I find a way to:

  1. Automatically track what I already to.
  2. Automatically track something I really want to start doing.
  3. Automatically track something that’s fun and takes less than five minutes (see /typing).
  4. Or, manually tracking something I need to start doing.

New Systems

  • /meta: I’ve been trying to figure out what my meta goal should be for awhile, and I think tracking the daily cumulative data points from my other systems fits. It’s definitely more interesting/fun than helpful right now, but why not?
  • /typing: I love typing games, and have been using KeyHero forever, so why not give TypeRacer a try! Only problem is that it isn’t working. :frowning: No matter what I do, I get a “Could not fetch scores.” for the value. I don’t know if it’s worth making a dedicated thread for?

Week Thirty-three! Another busy bee week! Time seems to be flying by for me. On the forums, I was given the Regular badge, meaning I can change thread titles, such as “Brennan’s Beeminder Journal 2020” to “Brennan’s Beeminder Journal”, which allows this Beejournal to continue ad infinitum, huzzah!

Regarding /morning-pages, the solution I found was to use URLminder, this will track the word count of (multiple) Google Docs or Dropbox documents. I figure I’ll add a new document each month, as I find that’s a good time-frame to segment writing. And unlike Draft, URLminder lets you change the deadline time, which was my entire problem in the first place. The caveat being that I’ll need to adjust to writing somewhere else consistently.

This week’s verbal contract will be: To get a better at understanding API. Although I’ve found multiple new systems within the unofficial integration lists that I’m excited to use, it made me realize how much more potential there is–and perhaps the frustration that 3rd party solutions seem so ephemeral. Khan Academy, for instance, have deprecated their API entirely. FreeCodeCamp hasn’t had theirs updated in nearly two years. Is interest in this kind of things just too niche?

On the other hand, I think there’s benefit in there only being thirty or so high-quality official integrations. I know when I first was starting out, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the paradox of choice.

New Systems

As I’ve written about a few weeks ago, limitation breeds creativity for me. It’s been fun trying to work with just the official integrations, but this would not be an experiment of self-improvement if stagnation was allowed! Exciting things are going on, I’m trying a bunch of new stuff.

  • /Clozemaster: Supplement my French learning with Duolingo.
  • /Meditation: It’s so cool how you can use Apple Health to track mindful minutes with different meditation apps. I’m still have to figure out my favorite but right now I’m using Headspace.
  • /Prayer: Using Rosarium (Beeminder’s blog post about it), my relationship with spirituality is complicated, but I definitely enjoy the Rosary prayer, and it’s a good way to start my days with the right intentions.

P.S. I figured out why RescueTime was still measuring time even though I was AFK. It has to do with a pesky design flaw (more detail) of the ThinkPad W520 (which, by the way, is the best laptop ever minus this one thing).

P.S.S. Also added a link to @narthur’s beewiki to journal.bar, I hope it catches on! :blush:

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Week Thirty-four Yet another busy bee-week. I’m really enjoying becoming increasingly focused on both the weeds of technicalities, as well as trying to think deeper on the higher concepts that I’m trying to utilize.

For starters, I’ve written in the past about wanting to pivot, but I realize that I am perfectly capable of adding work rather than changing what this project is.

I’ve also written about wanting to give myself more self-permission. Essentially, I want a place that’s truly mine where I can place my thoughts exhaustively. Not just polished, finished work such as my blog or portfolio. I’m writing roughly 400 words a day anyways, it might as well be for a utilitarian purpose and public.

As much as I enjoy the concept of digital gardens as an ideal, I do have some problems with the specifics (also seen with Roam Research). It sort of reminds me of the Dvorak keyboard layout–far more practical and productive, but alas I’m am already far too entrenched in both QWERTY and traditional, hierarchical note-taking.

I also don’t want a specific program for private use, such as Notion. Rather, I found a wonderful Jekyll theme that incorporates a lot of the concepts that I am drawn towards: Backlinks, wiki-style links, context menu, page preview, marginalia, etc. You can see these being utilized here, it’s really cool.

To relate it back to Beeminder, in addition to collecting my notes, I want this to be a place for daily entries, that include getting more in-depth with my /gratitude journal, and /foodlog, for starters–and having the project be on GitHub means I can simply create a new system with GitMinder that only tracks that repository.

Anyways, much more related to Beeminder, I’ve been having trouble with URLminder. Currently, /morningpages2 is kind of just stuck at around 4,300 words for some reason?–maybe I just input the Google Doc link incorrectly. I also had to sadly archive /typing, since I couldn’t get my TypeRacer games to sync, but that was a just-for-fun goal anyways.

P.S. Trying to get into APIs last week ended up snowballing into a new project of it’s own: SelfTeach.Academy. I don’t think there’d be enough interest to try to make this a reality, though.

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Week Thirty-five! Not really as busy with Beeminder this week! I’ve mostly been really busy with my new Jekyll digital garden project (which you can preview here if you’re curious). It’s crazy how many useful rabbit holes I’ve gone down in research, and with the serendipitous benefit of having the project’s purpose be to archive and organize such rabbit holes!

Anyways, sticking with Beeminder, I’ve noticed that /meditation seems a little selective with which “mindful minutes” it adds as data points–if it’s a new medtiation from Headspace I haven’t done before then it’s added, but if it’s one that I’ve already done then it doesn’t seem to count it. I’ve noticed the iOS application updated though, so maybe it was just an anomaly.

Also, I think the reason things were weird with URLminder reading from Google Docs was simply because I didn’t set the privacy settings for the document correctly, whoops. Seems to be working now! I know it’s been forever since I initially started with this goal–and I haven’t really needed it since I’ve started a devlog on Draft that I plan to migrate–but I think it’s still worth finally implementing correctly.

I’ve been fumbling hard with /distraction lately. I’ve been derailing due to incorrect labeling of different websites I’ve been visiting, and it doesn’t update like other systems do, to the point where it’s 11:50 and it’s still orange because it hasn’t updated (and I know I shouldn’t be in front of a screen that late, but that’s another issue that needs to be tackled), which is a problem since it’s a do-less goal.

The simple solution to this is to just visit the RescueTime dashboard one per evening to make sure that the obscure sites I’m visiting are correctly labelled and that I’m not going over my unproductive screen-time limit.

Week Thirty-six! Quite a red-letter day for my neighbours south of the border. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious for tonight, so I better finish this weekly review as early as possible. :^)

First off, my apologies for this post not being very Beeminder-specific, I’ve been getting dedicated with my development work with Jekyll the past week. So I haven’t really given the time needed to examine how my Beeminder goals have been affecting things in my life, like I usually (neurotically) do. I’m planning to do a full review of my now 24(!) systems.

Some bad news and good news: The bad news is that I definitely bit off more than I can chew with trying to modify Simply Jekyll. It already had a 1,300 line CSS file, and I decided it would be a good idea to add Bootstrap on top of that, and although I love how it looks and what it’s capable of, it’s hopelessly bloated.

The good news is that I successfully completed Hacktoberfest for the first time! But even better, I went back to the drawing board and created my first open-source project for others: Watery, which is the most minimal yet functional Jekyll theme I could create. I went down the rabbit hole of classless CSS frameworks and used the most popular one, Water.css, for this.

I also just added a neat feature on the demo site that lets you effortlessly see how it would look using a different classless CSS framework instead, which really demonstrates its extensibility.

To tie it back to relevancy, I am probably going to use a variant of this theme for my Beeminder blog journal.bar. Speaking of, I’ve been thinking more down-the-line about this experiment, and trying to figure out if there would be any meaningful way to measure difference from the beginning to, say, a year after. I can offer my own layman’s observations, but it’d be neat to be an academic guinea pig.

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Week Thirty-seven! Alright, let’s get into the weeds this week (or perhaps flowers?). Overall, I think I’ve found a good equilibrium with Beeminder. I don’t often derail, but at the same time I have over a dozen beemergencies every single day.

I’m also really happy for the spread of systems I have, finding ways to track my mental health, physical health, hobbies, and both creative and technical projects.

Regarding French, I’ve been stuck in the Emerald league forever in /duolingo, but progressing down the tree nonetheless. /clozemaster is definitely a welcomed addition, as the lessons are a lot quicker and give a more nuanced look at how words are actually used.

Since I began tracking /writing in May, I’ve written over 100,000 words, which is crazy to me. Although a good portion is just private journal writing, I’m still happy I’m doing it everyday. Before, I’d really try to win NaNoWriMo every year (anybody participating, btw?) and always fall short because I never wrote >1,500 words a day otherwise. I suppose I’d rather write ~400 words a day indefinitely than risk pushing and burning myself out.

I’m still finding a bug (or maybe feature) where /meditation doesn’t add data if you’re repeating a guided meditation. I’ve switched over to doing simple timed meditation with Insight Timer and that seems to work instead!

I recently derailed on /fitness by just a couple hundred steps, which initially seemed silly. But in reality, I have to remind myself that whatever I’m tracking on Beeminder is the bare-minimum threshold, and I gotta pass it everyday no matter what.

One thing I’ve noticed that I talked about on the Beeminder Discord (which you should join!) is that all my systems ultimately fall within two categories: input-based vs. output-based.

Now, when I originally began with Beeminder many years ago, I had the rhetoric that you should aim for looking at input rather that output. Which I still believe is better–but why not both if that’s an option?

There are a few examples of this: /writing is the input, and other goals like /blogging or /poetry are output. (A caveat being that writing is fortunately easy to both quantify and automate.)

Output-based goals that I’ve been having the most trouble with are the ones that I haven’t really found a good input-based supplementary goal to add to it. I do really well with beemergencys pushing me towards doing work, but output goals don’t have a daily metric, they’re usually weekly or monthly.

I finally had the brilliant idea to use RescueTime and track the amount of time that I’m specifically on Lynda each day to supplement /courses. I had a few good ideas for tracking pages read or time with /books, but I often get weasel-y if the data isn’t automated. :sweat_smile: So it’d be nice to figure out a way to connect with Kindle or Audible.

(P.S. Working on a new Jekyll theme this week, Purelog!)

(P.S.S. Anybody doing NaNoWriMo this year? Using Beeminder to track it?)