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The fast, fun way to keep track of the things that matter. Your second memory.

Logsit Blog

​All the latest news from Logsit Towers.

Introducing Logsit 1.2: CSV export, reminders badge and check-in counts

David Yates

Some long requested features in this update!

CSV export
We know that some of you love to play with data. Now you can export your Logsit data in CSV format for viewing in Excel and lots of other tools. You can find the export feature under the general app settings. 

Improved access to reminders
We’ve added an app icon badge so it’s now possible to see the number of outstanding reminders from your iPhone home screen (you can turn this off in Logsit’s general app settings if you prefer). We’ve also made the reminders list quicker to access by adding a tab at the top of your home screen (archived actions are now accessed from the general app settings). 

Total check-in count
Lots of you wanted an easy way to see the total number of check-ins for each action, we’ve therefore added this to all of the actions on your home screen.

Shiny new icon
We couldn’t resist giving it a lick of paint. Hope you like it!

You are the early adopters and we are very grateful for your continued support! As ever, we need you to help us grow! If you enjoy Logsit, please consider giving us a rating in the App Store. If you have feature requests, bug reports or any other feedback, be sure to drop us a line at feedback@logsit.com. You can also find us on Twitter: @LogsitApp.

To download Logsit 1.2 now, visit the iTunes Store. Enjoy!

More soon,

The Logsit gang

10 great iPhone apps for parents

David Yates

As both parents and developers we've come to really appreciate some of the apps that are available to make life a little bit easier and more pleasant. Below, we've listed ten of our favourites that other parents might also find useful. 

1) Umano
This is a hidden gem of the app store. When you have a ton of housework to do, it can feel like your brain is slowly withering away. Umano is a free service that lets you listen to the latest articles from top news outlets and blogs. The quality of the audio is excellent, with Umano attracting some great quality announcers. All you need to do is download the app, plug in some headphones and catch up with the news or any interests you have. (Free)

 

2) Zeebox
Whether you need a movie to keep the kids occupied or something you can wind down to in the evening, Zeebox is a great tool to find what you want. You can customise the list of channels by choosing your region, whether you have access to HD and getting rid of any channels you don’t like. You can also book reminders for TV shows and films to watch. (Free: UK)

 

3) OurGroceries
Creates simple shopping lists that sync across devices so you and your partner can avoid missing items or duplicating purchases. The best bit about this is that one of you can update the shopping list even whilst the other person is at the shop. (Free)

 

4) Squarespace Note
Launches super fast with the keyboard open ready to type. When you need to get a random note down quickly, this is a very handy app. No accounts required, no folders, no lists of options, just fast simple note taking. A particularly handy feature is that you can have your completed notes sent directly to your email inbox which is useful if the note is something that needs urgent attention. (Free)

 

5) Fantastical 2
The best thing about Fantastical is that it brings together your iPhone’s calendar events and reminders into one app. It also improves on the basic layout of the iPhone’s default calendar, placing much more emphasis on your events. (UK, US)

 

6) Annabel's Essential Guide To Feeding Your Baby & Toddler
This app brings Annabel Karmel’s excellent baby and toddler recipes to the iPhone, giving step-by-step instructions, meal planners, shopping lists and more. An excellent alternative to the Annabel Karmel books. The shopping list feature works offline too which is super sweet! (UK, US)

 

7) Ocado
The advantages of avoiding a stressful trip to the supermarket with children are not to be underestimated! Whilst you will normally have to pay for delivery, it’s important to remember that you save on fuel costs and can often shop more sensibly when in the comfort of your own home. Ocado is our pick of the apps in terms of features and ease of use, but the benefits are essentially the same whichever store you choose. (Free - UK)

 

8) Baby and Child First Aid by British Red Cross
Simple, clear text and videos to help you deal with most first aid situations. Super fast and runs offline too. Who knows, it could end up being the most important app you ever download. (Free - UK)

 

9) Cineworld
The cinema can be fun for parents and children and doesn’t have to cost the earth: weekend morning tickets can cost as little as a pound. Cineworld’s app lets you browse screenings, book tickets and add them to the Passbook app on your iPhone. This means you won’t even need a physical ticket at most outlets and can dodge the queues completely - a very welcome benefit when you’ve got restless kids with you. (Free - UK)

 

10) Logsit
One thing you notice when you first have kids is how much repetition there is and how important it can be to keep track of things. Baby feeds, medicine, nappy changes, homework, cleaning out guinea pigs: it never seems to end. Our very own app Logsit helps you keep track of how long it's been since you last did something with a simple swipe; it also enables you to add notes, reminders and photos if you like. It’s built by parents who know that you’ve often only got one hand to spare so it’s super fast and easy to use too! (Free)

28 clever uses for your smartphone camera

David Yates

Photographer1850s.png

A smartphone camera is one of the most useful tools at your disposal. Obviously, it allows you to capture treasured moments with family and friends, but there are tonnes of other great reasons to take a picture. We designed our iPhone app Logsit to be a handy companion to your camera, allowing you to keep an organised record of everything from symptoms to haircuts or even wines you've tried. Below we've compiled some smart uses for your smartphone camera, highlighting with a * those that you might want to try in Logsit.

  1. Keep a record of something you’re disassembling so you can see how to put it back together.
  2. Snap a photo of your car mileage for expenses claims.*
  3. Remember where you parked.
  4. Take a photo of what’s in your fridge before you go shopping.
  5. Take a copy of whiteboard notes
  6. Record the packaging when you replace guitar strings so you can buy them again or avoid them in future.*
  7. Remember your hotel room number.
  8. Copy important information like interview letters or travel documents so you won’t lose them. 
  9. Photograph business cards instead of filling up your wallet.
  10. Keep track of books you want to read or books you have finished.*
  11. Take a picture of your loft or basement so you can see what’s up there without getting dusty.
  12. If you miss a class, take a photo of a friend’s notes so you can catch up without inconveniencing them.
  13. Get a copy of the packaging for any important medicines you’re taking.
  14. Remember who borrowed your book, electric drill or DVD.*
  15. If you have a bump with another car, it can be handy for all parties to have a photograph (after you’re sure everyone is safe, of course).
  16. Get advice on a DIY problem by sending a picture to a knowledgeable friend.
  17. If you’ve hurt yourself or have a mole you’re concerned about, keep a photographic record (you should of course also visit your doctor if you’re at all concerned).*
  18. Photograph the product codes and aisle numbers at Ikea instead of using the tiny pencils.
  19. Grab your gas and electricity meter readings with one quick photo.*
  20. View dark or hard to reach places.
  21. Receipts!
  22. If you need to check your appearance and don’t have a mirror, your camera is the next best thing.
  23. Keep a record of new wines or beers that you’ve tried.*
  24. Take a photo of your kids when you go out. If they get lost, you'll have an up to date record of what they look like and what they’re wearing.
  25. If you’re not sure about some clothes you’re trying on, send a picture to a friend to get an opinion.
  26. Photograph a room before you go to buy furniture for it.
  27. Take a picture of a plant each time you repot it; include care instructions if the plant is new.*
  28. Photograph a battery, light bulb or tool before you head to the shops to buy a replacement.

Whether you're a Logsit user or not, we hope you find the list useful. Let us know how you’re using your smartphone camera in the comments below.

Introducing Logsit 1.1: quick check-ins, archiving and design improvements

David Yates

Version 1.0 was a useful shakedown for the app. We learned that people love having a way to keep track of unscheduled, recurring events. We learned that Logsit is intuitive and easy to use. And we learned that our users have a ton of ideas for how we can improve it. We’ve been working hard to fit as many of your requests into the new build as possible, whilst also including lots of other design and usability improvements. Here’s what’s new in the latest build!

Quick check-in 
Your most requested feature by far! You can now long-swipe an action to quickly check-in if you don’t need to add notes or a photo. 

Archiving 
If you want to remove an action but would rather not delete it, you now have the option to archive. Archiving removes the action from your main list and disables reminders and check-ins. All of your data is preserved and viewable in the same way and, of course, you can unarchive an action at any time.

Design
We’ve made design and readability improvements right across the app, removing visual clutter where possible and placing more emphasis on quick access to information. In particular, the timeline view for actions now displays your notes in full and larger photo previews so you can see more of your activity at a glance.

Easier access to action settings
It’s now faster and easier to change titles, fiddle with reminders and delete, share and archive your actions. All of these tools are available by swiping the action to the left. As before, you can still access these settings via the timeline.

Logsit ideas
The Logsit Store can now be found under the ‘+’ button on your homepage. We’ve made lots of improvements to store navigation and added rankings so you can see the popularity of the various actions. 

Save to camera roll
Any new photos you add are now saved to your camera roll by default. This can be turned off in the app settings.

As ever, please keep the feedback coming so we can ensure we’re focussing on the tools and improvements that matter to you.

To download Logsit 1.1 now, visit the iTunes Store. Enjoy!

Best wishes,

The Logsit Team

Habituation to smartphone reminders

David Yates

A successful response to a fire notification.

A successful response to a fire notification.

Imagine what life would be like if you couldn’t get used to anything. You’d be forever startled by the sound of traffic and construction work; constantly aware of the smell of your deodorant; permanently distracted by the wallpaper in your living room. You’d be too busy noticing everything to notice anything! Fortunately life isn't like this and it's thanks to a type of learning known as habituation: where repeated exposure to a stimulus results in reduced response to that stimulus. As far as learning goes, it doesn’t get any simpler than this and it is a type of learning that is displayed by virtually all animals.

Vital though habituation is, there are some occasions when it can be unhelpful. Office fire drills, for instance, are a trade-off between making sure that escape procedures work properly and habituating everyone in the office to the sound of the alarm. Smartphone notifications are no different. You've probably noticed that there are some notifications that reliably attract your attention and some that you just ignore. The identity of the former is pretty obvious: they're often the Retweets from Twitter or the comments from Facebook. You don't habituate to these because they're almost always associated with reinforcing and, occasionally, punishing outcomes. So what about the notifications that we do ignore?

At some point, most people have probably created a todo list or a set of reminders in the hope of turning over a new leaf and getting their life in order, but, after a positive start, begun to dismiss the reminders and avoid looking at the todo list altogether. This often has a lot to do with whether or not there are consequences to not completing the tasks. Tasks can be split into two basic categories according to their necessity: those we have to respond to and those we don’t. An example of the former might be a weekday alarm to remind me when it's time to pick the kids up from school or a calendar notification prompting me to put the bin out on a Wednesday. In both cases, habituation is mitigated by the fact that the notifications always signal the need for action; they're like the fire alarm going off for real every time. Examples of tasks in the latter category are things like cleaning the bathroom or doing push-ups. The problem with these is that each time the reminder comes round, there are no immediate negative or positive consequences to my ignoring it so it's easier to habituate to the stimulus of the reminder. What's worse, the more I dismiss it, the more I'll habituate, until eventually I might as well just turn the reminder off!

So what's to be done? First of all, take the issue seriously because a few rotten notifications can poison the whole waterhole. The thing about habituation is that it is subject to a related phenomenon known as generalisation. If my calendar app is reminding me about the bin every week, but also ten other things that would be good to do, but aren't necessary, I might gradually fall off the wagon for the other reminders and consequently begin to habituate to the notifications from the whole calendar app, thus having consequences for the important bin reminder.

Brute force approaches to avoiding productivity slumps receive a lot of attention in productivity blogs and often involve the contrivance of artificial rewards and punishments or the use of evermore aggressive notification schedules; however, such approaches seem to ignore the root of the problem. If you're failing to go swimming every week, the reason is unlikely to be down to inadequate rewards or reminders and is instead probably due to your not having discovered a way to incorporate this activity into your busy schedule. All the rewards, punishments and reminders in the world aren't going to make your trip to the swimming pool any easier if it is subject to basic travel, childcare and work constraints.

A simpler approach is just to be choosy as to which information and reminders you're prepared to expose yourself to. Don't, for example, subscribe to emails you don't care about or you run the risk of habituating to the very sight of your inbox and it could soon become an unmanageable mess. Also, avoid setting a reminder unless you're sure it's something that needs to be done. Another trick is to use responsive reminders like those in Logsit. These reminders are triggered when you actually do something so they won't continue to fire if you do find a task hard to stick to. Finally, it can be helpful to split your reminders up, placing the vital ones in separate apps to the others. This way, they're less likely to be subject to contamination from the activities you're failing to deal with.

Of course, the fact that habituation might be one cause for making your notifications less effective doesn't mean it's the only cause. There are all sorts of reasons why we're not able to be as productive or efficient as we'd like to be. However, habituation is certainly an often overlooked culprit and understanding how it might be contributing to your overflowing inbox and notifications tray could help you to get more out of your smartphone and all the great apps you use.

Short, fun and simple resolutions

David Yates

Edmond Dantès pre-resolution.

So, it turns out that New Year’s resolutions are really hard to keep after all. It’s often suggested that this is because they tend to be too vague (the classic “I’m going to lose weight’ is admittedly so lacking in detail that it’s not clear it even amounts to a resolution), but there might be another simpler reason: they take too long!

It’s all very well telling someone they can achieve their 'learn a new language resolution' if only they’d set out a year’s worth of goals with timescales and methods, but there’s nothing like writing lengthy plans to make a person lose interest in the whole affair before they’ve even begun. All is not lost, however. For those of us with shorter horizons than Edmond Dantès, there are plenty of alternatives to the all-or-nothing resolution. Here are some ideas we’ve put together which don’t necessarily take all year and definitely won’t require a life coach to get you through.

Try something new for 30 days
Google’s Matt Cutts regularly does a 30 day challenge: he simply thinks of something he’s never done before or would like to do more of and commits to doing it every day for 30 days. It’s a great way of setting yourself achievable goals and if you don’t like what you’ve chosen, do something else next month. You might not be able to manage a year of running every day, but a month is surely within the realms of possibility. Here are some ideas to get you started (you can find loads more on Matt's blog).

  • Learn a new word each day. This is a nice easy one to get you started. Obviously we’re pretty biased here, but Logsit is a great way to keep track of all the words you’ve learnt!
  • Don’t eat any meat. Even if you really love eating meat, it doesn’t do any harm to learn a few new recipes to better utilise the vegetables in your fridge and add a bit of variety to your diet.
  • Draw a picture every day. If you’re feeling brave, post them to Instagram or your blog; if not, pop them in Logsit so you can flick through a private record of your artistic progress. 
  • Hand-write a letter and post it every day. If you can’t think of anything to write, just tell the reader about the 30 day challenge you’re doing. It couldn’t hurt to inspire your friends and family and everyone loves to receive a nice letter.

If you need a bit more inspiration, be sure to check out Matt’s 3-minute TED talk. If 30 days sounds too long, why not make them 7 day challenges instead. 

Do more of something
Try giving blood the maximum number of times this year. Book your first appointment straight away and find out how often your blood service suggests you donate - most blood services offer the ability to book online, so you might be able to book right now. Set a reminder each time you give blood or use a responsive reminder in Logsit, which will reset automatically each time you check-in. Giving blood is one of the kindest things you can do. One day any one of us might rely on the contribution of generous blood donors, so why not be a donor yourself.

Do less of something
We’ve probably all tried a detox of some kind at some point in our lives, but they don’t really work do they? Well, a pilot study by the New Scientist suggests that giving up alcohol for just 5 weeks can have benefits for your health and sleep quality, at least in the short term. Why not give it a try? It’s only a month.

Keep track of something that matters to you
Everyone can identify a few things that they ought to be doing more consistently. Perhaps you’re not phoning your relatives enough or maybe there’s a health symptom that’s worrying you. This kind of thing can make us feel anxious and making plans to deal with it can be scary. A good first step is simply to commit to monitoring it. How long has it actually been since you phoned your grandma or suffered a headache? Keeping track can help to put things in perspective and will give you the information you need to take action and remove that niggling anxiety from your life.

Whatever you decide to do this year, we hope it’s the happiest, healthiest and wealthiest year of your life. Good luck and all the very best from the Logsit gang!

What is a habit?

David Yates

Phileas Fogg contemplating his habitual lifestyle.

Phileas Fogg contemplating his habitual lifestyle.

When we’re not drinking strong coffee, biting our nails or working late at Logsit Towers, we love to keep up with the latest technology news. Something that has struck us recently is just how many stories there are on the subject of habits and positive habit formation. As former research psychologists, habits are of great interest to us and so this is the point where we say that our app will help you form a bunch a positive new habits and get rid of all your bad ones, right? Well, not exactly! To explain why, it helps to take a look at what exactly is meant by a habit.

When psychologists talk of habits, they’re concerned with behaviour that is performed frequently in the same context. Typically the behaviour has become so ingrained that it no longer requires much, if any, thought to be carried out. This is perhaps easiest to appreciate if we consider what happens when we interfere with the outcomes of a habitual behaviour. Tea-making is a good example. If you’re anything like me, you’ve made hundreds of cups of tea in your kitchen and it’s become a very easy task; something you can do with minimal attention. But what happens when you rearrange your kitchen, moving the contents of the cupboards, perhaps changing the location of the fridge? Suddenly, the beautifully choreographed dance of the tea-maker is thrown into disarray: no longer can you pivot mindlessly towards the fridge for the milk; gone are the days when you could hold a conversation whilst successfully navigating to the teaspoon drawer. The task is not just harder than it used to be, it’s harder than it would be in a completely different kitchen because the context of your own rearranged kitchen is triggering all of the old, now useless, responses. You’re not merely unsure where the teabags are, you’re actively compelled to go to their old location because that behaviour is a habit, triggered by the context of making tea in your kitchen, not by active decision-making.

Suffice to say, a habit generally requires *lots* of repetition under stable conditions for the behaviour to become sufficiently stamped-in that you can’t help but do it! Most of us have a few positive habits, but many others elude us despite our best efforts. The reality is that our lives and schedules are rarely as consistent as the arrangement of our kitchen furniture, so the goal of forming true habits can often be unrealistic and perhaps even demotivating - we can’t all live with the clockwork precision of a Phileas Fogg!

At Logsit, one of our goals is to help people to regulate their behaviour and become more aware of the things they care about, rather than outright habit formation. You might not be a habitual runner, but by checking-in when you do go for a run, you will have a record of how long it’s been and can take steps to make it more likely that you’ll go again sooner rather than later. Setting a responsive reminder can be a great approach, not because it forms a habit, but because it is a concrete goal that adapts to your behaviour. The more you achieve this goal, the better you will become at removing the everyday impediments and procrastination that are often the real stumbling blocks to healthy behaviours. The truth is, it's probably not a habit you're looking for, what we really gain from doing things on a regular basis is the knowledge of how and where they can fit into our busy lives. The longer this goes on, the better you'll get at accommodating the behaviour and the fewer roadblocks you'll find to doing the things that matter to you.

Some thoughts on the quantified self

David Yates

Santorio in his wonderful and hilarious chair balance

Whilst building Logsit, we've had to explain the app to all sorts of people and something that always crops up is the term 'quantified self'. You've probably heard this term more than a few times over the past couple of years. It was coined by journalists Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf to describe the act of measuring one's body or behaviour in order to gain insights that wouldn't otherwise be obvious. This can include anything from simply weighing yourself to the kind of sophisticated physiological analysis undertaken by professional sports people to grab that last 1% of performance. Either way, it is a practice that we all engage in at some point, and that has exploded in popularity over recent years, presumably due to the availability of ever cheaper smartphones capable of timing us, finding our location and summarising all of this information in a convenient way.

It's a great time to be involved in helping people to keep track of the things they do, but we also realise that people react very differently to terms such as 'quantified self': some are excited by it, whilst others find it a little intimidating. You might be a committed self-tracker in the tradition of the great Santorio (pictured above) - an Italian physician who spent thirty years of his life weighing everything that went into his body and, ahem, everything that went out - or you might just want to keep track of when you took some paracetamol, phoned the electric company or tried a new wine. Something we pay great attention to at Logsit, is the need to explain the benefits of logging aspects of life to all groups of people and we've tried our best to make sure that the design and communication of our app reflects this. Soon Logsit will be available for everyone to try and we hope we've succeeded!