Beeminder Forum

Option to show all times in HH:MM:SS instead of HH:MM

There was a December update with displaying values:

A quick skim of that article suggests I may be wrong, but I still am calling in Danny for this one :slight_smile:


Ah, display precision was already set to 0.001. If I try to set 0.0000001, I get an error saying min precision should be set to 1e-5 (maybe too nerdy of an error message, format the number differently? dang, that’s an easier UVI though…). So I tried setting 0.00001, but that made no difference. I still can’t seem to see seconds.

Even worse, something I didn’t realize before: I don’t even see seconds in the data page!!! The data itself is fine, downloading the CSV shows the seconds part.

I can hack together something to bookmark that tells me using the API, if this isn’t a priority for the official UI, but I’d argue it’s an actual issue in a “quantified self” service :slight_smile:


I am not sure that it isn’t a priority, I think it’s more that it’s pretty new.

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I’m not “grumbling” about it not being a priority - merely saying that in my point of view it might be, and if it isn’t, I can work around it anyway :slight_smile:

There are two display options: HH:MM and decimal. The precision setting (“quantum”) only applies to decimal.

I would also prefer to be able to see seconds. Right now I just use decimal for everything because I’d rather know the exact number of hours.

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I don’t understand this - who was this to?

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To the beeminder team. Kind of trying to manipulate them into coding my feature request right away.


On a related note and speaking of precision: In the end it all ends up as very imprecise Floats anyhow. They will subtly change their value from what you entered. Especially in the iOS app they are very unwieldy because when you edit a datapoint with a seemingly “integery” looking “hh:mm” datapoint value it will expose you to the underlying Float and there’s no way back from there iirc. Not in the app at least. One solution would be to use some BigDecimal type on Beeminder’s site.

See for details.

If beeminder were to switch to big decimal from float you could run a simple algorithm for goals that goes through your data points and snaps them to the closest possible human entered value, which should work unless you have goals with truly humongous data points. But to be honest, BigDecimal wouldn’t solve the issue anyhow. What you need is an arbitrary precision fractional number (and you could still run the same algorithm).

Take for instance the following data points, which would be “messed up” with a bigdecimal type:

00:20. You add that as Fraction(20, 60)
00:20:20. You add that as Fraction(20, 60) + Fraction(20, 3600).
00:20:20.20. You add that as Fraction(20, 60) + Fraction(20, 3600) + Fraction(20, 3600 * 10^(ceil(log10(20))))

(The last one using log and ceil is probably messed up, but you could just count the number of digits)

This would be the only way to truly be precise with data entered in any format, both time and other units. Note that a BigDecimal is a subset of a Fractional<BigInt, BigInt> (or similar).

On the other hand, even if I believe that would be the “right” way to store data, complexity vs precision gained in practice might be a reason to not do this, at this point in beeminder’s life.

I think what BigDecimal provides is already good enough for Beeminder. It provides “Immutable, arbitrary-precision signed decimal numbers”. But sure, if you wanted, you could easily build a fraction datatype on top of that. I personally would already be happy if my datapoints retained their value and not change to something else when I merely touch them. Like literally touch them in the iOS app.

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But that’s not a property of BigDecimal. You can have that with floats as well. It’s a bug in the app…

You’d implement it on top of Big Integers, not Big Decimals.

EDIT: wait, the post I’m replying to has been deleted I think? I received an email answer and replied directly from there.

True, this was imprecise wording on my end. By the way, it’s also not just a bug in the app. IIRC the website exhibits similar behaviour.
However I have seen how entering some fractional values would result in Beeminder showing slightly different values and that is actually something that would be fixed by using a BigDecimal type.

Well, yeah. I was just using BigDecimal as an example since maybe more people know about it than BigInteger. For all I know JS doesn’t even have a BigDecimal Type, let alone a BigInteger type ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I may or may not have edited my post the second after I hit submit when I realised it wasn’t actually what I wanted to say. Discourse does not show edits that happen within a short time after submitting the post. I would have assumed that it delays mails being sent accordingly, though. I guess it doesn’t?

@eugeniobruno, is it possible to spell out the use case further, where you have 5 seconds of work to do and really don’t want Beeminder conservatively telling you you have a whole minute to do?

[EDIT: I just noticed you specifically said that it wasn’t possible to elaborate the use case! Sorry about that! Maybe by DM? I’m keen to get a sense of this and prioritize it properly and possibly think about tradeoffs if we otherwise prefer sticking to HH:MM.]

[FURTHER EDIT: Maybe hearing more in the abstract would also help. Like why worry about padding and stuff? Why not just take Beeminder at face value when it says you have to do a full 60 seconds of the thing? Does that give you too much safety buffer because your rate is literally like 5 seconds a day?]


I don’t understand. They do retain their value - they just get displayed with a different precision.

For me the issue is that seeing HH:MM always gets confusing because I’m never sure if it’s HH:MM or MM:SS. Having the option to have it displayed as HH:MM:SS would alleviate that.

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There, sent DMs to two curious people about the actual goal, but that’s it. And don’t you dare leak it or I’ll get angery :angry:


Hmm, why don’t you use a timer other than beeminder, and just enter the number of minutes as a value? So if you want to do the task for 10 minutes a day, your goal rate would be 10/day and if you time yourself doing the task for 2 minutes just enter a 2.

Or, if you want to do the task for 10 minutes, you could just set your goal to 10:00 (that is, 10 hours) and then manually enter data as if it were MM:SS? So if you do the task for 2 minutes and 10 seconds you’d enter 02:10.

I know, I know, these are hacks and it should just work how we want it. But it might help.