The Fancy-Pants’ing Of Number-Stuffs

Speaking of nerdery, have you tried out Daytum1 yet?  It’s another iPhone app that I use on a daily basis (website here).  The app allows one to collect data.  Any data.  Clearly this was an app built for me.  I stumbled on this late last year and decided that it would be perfect for tracking the time (in minutes) I spend this year

  • walking,
  • running,
  • biking,
  • yoga’ing (non-studio), and
  • yoga’ing (studio).

I also decided to use it to track the total distance (in kilometers) I travel for each of the activities above (excluding yoga), and my total sleep time.

Now, you might be wondering “Why would you do this, considering that you already use RunKeeper, and SleepCycle to track such things?”  Well, the answer to that oh vigilant reader, is threefold; 1) I have a huge nerd-on for data.  I can’t stress that enough.  Numbers have, are, and always will be my friend, 2) Neither RunKeeper, nor SleepCycle summarize the data like Daytum does, and 3) Daytum allows me to visualize the information differently.  And by differently, I mean awesomely.  With a simple button-click, I can produce summaries that have an awesomely awesome aesthetic appeal.  And if you know anything about me (other than the fact that I am nerdy and love numbers), you will know that I love aesthetically pleasing things.  But really, who doesn’t?  I’m pretty sure we are hardwired that way.

Why do I enjoy this app so much?  Partially, it is my belief that to understand data, they should be analyzed properly, and presented in a manner that conveys findings even to those who might not understand the methods used to analyze them.  In my humble opinion, findings are only useful if they can be effectively communicated.  This is where Daytum succeeds as an app, and makes me all warm and fuzzy in my nerd-zone.  While the analytical methods used by Daytum are not complex, the data are presented such that non-statisticians are tempted to explore further, to ask questions about the patterns that might appear, and perhaps offer up hypotheses to explain what they see.  Or maybe that’s just something I would do.

I also enjoy Daytum because it allows the user to visualize, inspect, explore, and hypothesize about data that are personal in nature, within an app that is easy to use, and visually appealing.  Of course, when I write personal in nature, I do not mean personal in the sense of deep, dark, private things2, but personal in the sense of ownership.  I record data that are about me, and relevant to me.  You could record whatever it is you want to record about you.  Daytum easily allows you to record, visualize, and interpret a collection of your personal data, which may allow you to discover things about yourself that you weren’t ever expecting to discover.  And I think that is exceptionally cool.

To give you a sense of what the app offers, I provide the following fancy-pants summaries, live versions3 of which are available on my Daytum summary page, here.

Total duration spent (in minutes), and distance travelled (in kilometers) exercising since January 1, 2011.

By tracking this type of information, I have been able to establish some goals.   While my 2011 distance goals are outlined in a previous post, today I focus on duration.  Specifically, my goal for 2011 is to spend at least

  • 18, 000 minutes walking,
  • 2, 500 minutes running,
  • 6, 000 minutes biking, and
  • 20, 000 minutes practicing yoga (studio and non-studio, combined).

To set these goals, I simply multiplied my average kilometrage4 (thank you RunKeeper and Excel spreadsheet) by my distance goals.  The result; I plan to spend 46, 500 minutes in 2011 exercising.  Put another way, this is slightly more than 32 days, or 1 solid month plus a day, of pure, exercise gold.  Hmm, perhaps I should consider feasibility, as I have logged only ~7.64% of my total time goal at this point.  Extrapolating to the year would suggest that I might only hit ~68%.  Perhaps I’m biting off too much?  I’ll know more at the end of the year, when I can review my Daytum summaries and learn what I have accomplished.

Time spent sleeping every night. On those nights where I can't record my sleep with SleepCycle, I assume 6 hours of sleep. This is definitely an overestimate.

At this point, I have not set any sleep goals.  I simply want to track my sleep to see what the patterns might be.  Perhaps there is a particular day of the week where sleep tends to elude me.  Who knows?  At the moment, my average daily sleep is about 298 minutes.  This is just slightly less than 5 hours of sleep a night.  Strange, I was convinced I was averaging 5.5 hours a night.  Now I know, and knowing is half the battle (thank you G.I. Joe)5.

Finally, I provide you with some fancy-pants graphs.  Aren’t they pretty?

This plot shows my total time sleeping per day, since January 1, 2011.
Clearly I spend most of my time walking. Because I'm cool.

Not sure what to track?  Consider these nifty examples by other Daytum users:

Hmm, perhaps I’m weird to track exercise and sleep? Nah, that can’t be right.

1 You can download the free app here.

2 Although, I guess one could record data about deep, dark, private things if one were so inclined.

3 Where live=up to date.

4 Average kilometrage values were rounded off to: 10min/km walking, 5min/km running, and 3min/km biking.

5 What is the other half?


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Rick says:

    This is truly an exciting post about Daytum with so much nerdery, how could it not give you a nerd-on. But I’ve come to expect such things of your posts. Hmm… maybe I should download this app to track fitness goals for this year, with the P90ing and half-marathon and such. And the other half of the battle is being awesome, so you’ve got nothing to worry about.

  2. dangillis says:

    You must be at work now. LOL.

    But yes, download it. You won’t regret it. It speaks to that nerdy part in all of us. And while some of us have larger nerdy parts than others*, it’s nothing to feel self-conscious about. It’s not the size of the nerdy part that matters, but what one does with said nerdy part. True story.

    Additionally, I am awesome. Thank-you for noticing. I guess this means I won the battle.

    * Generally any sort of interest in number-y things is a strong indicator of large nerdy-parts.

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