The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Nvidia, in the past of other companies such as Iagination Technologies, MIPS, 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.

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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)