Tag Archives: DIY

Ian Billett: Tracking My Time, My Life

The days I use my time wisely are the days when I feel most fuliflled and therefore happy.

Ian Billett stumbled upon our Quantified Self website here and instantly became fascinated by our community of individuals who were learning about themselves through different technology. With his interest piqued, he began to investigate how he could understand himself. He started with a self-designed Excel spreadsheet where he manually tracked every five minutes using his own tagging system. He’s since switched to even more fine-grained tracking, tagging every minute of his life to describe what he was doing and who he was with. In this talk, presented at the London QS meetup group, Ian describes his process and some of his recent findings.

Slides are also available here.

Special thank you to Ken Snyder for his valuable work documenting the talks at QS London.

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Numbers From Around The Web: Round 10

At some point, we’ve all been frustrated with our experiences interacting with the medical community. This isn’t a big secret, especially here in the United States. Many individuals involved in QS meetups around the world gravitate towards news tools and data sources that let them understand and interact with health-related data in news ways. Whether it’s because of a genuine medical issue or just out of curiosity, examples of tracking and visualizing medical data are always really interesting. With that in mind we wanted to highlight a neat health tracking project this week.

Kenneth Spriggs has Crohn’s disease and he’s been collecting and making sense of his medical records since the summer of 2011. Along with trying to better understand his own medical history, partly to understand what went right and what went wrong, he’s also spent some time creating some really unique and interesting visualizations. Let’s dive right in and see what he’s done!

Medical Lifeline
How many different medications have you been on during your lifetime? Probably not the easiest question to answer unless you’ve been with the same medical system your entire life. One of Kenneth’s first forays into his medical data and visualizations was trying to represent My Life on Drugs. Admittedly a hard process that probably required a lot of patience and persistence, Kenneth was able to create a really nice timeline that illustrates his medical history through his medication.

Kenneth's Medical Lifeline

10 Years of Crohn’s
If you don’t read anything else about Kenneths, his ordeal, and his experience working with his own medical data you should take a look at his amazing 10 Years of Crohn’s Disease infographic and accompanying commentary. As you’ll see Kenneth did a wonderful job working with his numerical health data as well as written notes, diagrams, and other information sources to paint a picture of how Crohn’s disease has impacted his life. Let’s just look at a few sections here.

The diagnosis portion of his medical infographic is one part that I find really interesting. Many times we think of QS as only dealing with numerical data, but in the medical universe data can come in all shapes and sizes. By looking at notes and diagrams along with other vital information Kenneth was able to create a much clearer picture of his history.

History of illness and diagnosis

After Kenneth was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease he was prescribed five different medications. Here you’ll see the number of side effects he found for those medications and what he’s experienced. Along with his medication and side effect history you’ll see a histogram of his life history over the last 10 years.

Crohn's Diagnosis: Medication and Side Effects

There are so many data gathering and sense-making insights that Kenneth has has done a wonderful job of exploring and explaining. If you’re interested in compiling your own medical history and creating your own electronic health record then make sure to take some time perusing DIYEHR .

Every few weeks be on the lookout for new posts profiling interesting individuals and their data. If you have an interesting story or link to share leave a comment or contact the author here.

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Numbers From Around the Web: Round 5

Today’s NFATW post comes from Martin Sona, a QS friend and organizer for the QS Aachen/Maastricht meetup group, who pointed out this fascinating project on the QS Facebook group.

Dale Lane is a software developer for IBM living and working in Hampshire and he has been developing neat personal tools for his self tracking for the last few years. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

Tracking TV Watching

Inspired by the background data collection offered by last.fm designed to capture music listening habits Dale set out to create his own “scrobbler” to better understand his TV viewing habits. What he came up with is amazing:

Using a bit of code running on his media PC he is able to track a number of variables including time of day, what program he’s watching, his most watched channels, and many many more. Take a bit of time to check out his comprehensive blog post about the project and the TV Scrobbling project page.


Not satisfied while merely understanding what he was watching on TV, Dale took it upon himself to better understand how we was reacting to what he was watching. Using a webcam and a bit more code he was able to piece together a program that snaps a picture and then uses the Face.com API to determine interesting characteristics about the picture. The Face.com API enables him to see if he’s smiling as well as estimating his mood based on the facial characteristics that show up in the webcam shot. This little program has enabled him to find out some really interesting things such as:

He was also able to track his estimated emotional state while gaming and found some interesting insights:

This shows my facial expressions while playing Modern Warfare 3 last night. Mostly “sad”, as I kept getting shot in the head. With occasional moments where something made me smile or laugh, presumably when something went well.

These are really interesting and unique methods for understanding ourselves and our behavior. Dale’s work on self-tracking is fascinating and is an inspiration to those of us looking to expand our understanding of ourselves and how we interact and react with the digital world. Be sure to check out his blog for more self-tracking projects and interesting tools!

Every few weeks be on the lookout for new posts profiling interesting individuals and their data. If you have an interesting story or link to share leave a comment or contact the author here.

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Make Your Own ECG System at Home

Scott Harden, of The Blogging Rotagonist, has created a cheap, functional DIY ECG machine that you can build at home for $1 worth of parts.

He has circuit diagrams, various plots of his data, and the Python code he used for his project in this detailed blog post, along with videos like the one below.

I wonder how many other amazing self-tracking devices could be built from inexpensive, readily available materials?

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