Disclaimer

The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Imagination Technologies's MIPS group, in the past of other companies such as Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

See http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcxddbtr_23cg5thdfj for photo credits.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Smart alarms for when awake and working

The link is vaguely related, but this post was not prompted by it - I just wanted to have some link to the state of the art: Five free apps to help remind you to take a break - TechRepublic:



Like many folks, I sit too much working at my computer.



I have an activity monitor, my Basis Watch.  It tracks how long I sit still.   In the past few weeks, I have still for as long as 4.5 hours at a stretch - that's absolutely still, in my chair at my keyboard, typing.  Nearly every day I sit still for 2 or 3 stretches of 2 hours. Basis allows you to set a goal - "Don't Be A Sitter: from 9-5, get up every N hours."  I currently have the goal set at 2 hours - because whenever I move it lower, say 90 minutes, it gets depressing.



I have tried setting alarms to remind myself to get up and work.  Right now I have alarms set at 11:30, 2:00pm, and 3:30pm. Why so irregular? See below.



This post was prompted by my 11:30 alarm going off.  Unnecessarily, because I had just been active, walking over to a coworker's desk.



Having the alarm go off unnecessarily is irritating.  Having it good just as I am settling back at my desk to get back to work disrupts my concentration, breaks my flow.  Having the alarm go off when I am 30 or 45 minutes into a good working period, into flow, really pisses me off.  I have this theory that interruptions while you are in the middle of a critical b it of work, several things up in the air, in your head, is one of the primary causes of bugs.



What I want is an alarm, a reminder, to get up and move around, that is not at an absolute time.  What I want is an alarm that occurs, say, an hour from the last time I got up and moved around.  An alarm that is smart enough to reset itself



More: I want an alarm, a reminder, that is smart enough to detect (by some heuristic) if I am in flow or not.  (Hmm, I wonder if my Basis watch can reliably distinguish typing.  It's accelerometer is on my wrist, after all.  Since I am a hunt and peck typist, 60wpm, but 80% right handed, I might have to move my watch from left wrist to my right wrist.)



A reminder that is smart enough to try to look for a period to notify me, after I have been working for an hour, but before I have been working for 2.  Looking for a period where I am not working intensely.   Possibly looking fior a period where I am not typing intensely - or possibly looking at what I am actually doing, whether I am working, or in Blogger (like now).    Which is smart enough to look for a good period to interrupt me.  But which might interrupt me no matrter what I am doing after 2 hours of sitting.



You know those prtoducts that try to wake you up at a good point in your sleep cycle? e.g. http://www.sleeptracker.com/how-it-works/



What I want is a product that interrupts me at a good point in my work cycle.



(Ideally it might be smart enough not to interrupt me when I am in a meeting. )



--



Smart alarms when you are awake.



Smart alarms when you are workuing.



Smart alarms should not just be for sleep.


---



(Possibly it could have the sort of incremental alarm feature that a dawn simulator has.  A low priority background notification that ramps up gradually.)





---







OK, I should just go ahead and write it myself.   I installed Tasker for Android to write such scripts. I am not a big fan of Tasker - stupid graphical interface, but worse, my phone battery always drains.   I got the basic timer functionality working, but was not able to detect movement by accelerometer. (Blogging mwe this prompted to re-Google, and I found https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kanetik.movement_detection_trial_premium)