Recording Your History with Images

A number of people I know such as @spidie and @SarahStewart have entered into the spirit of the Flickr365 project where you upload a photo a day for a year. This is an excellent way of recording your personal history in significant detail. @spidie even went further and found a convenient site, TwitterGram, to upload the daily photo to Flickr and to generate an alerting tweet. Even with this aid it still is a not insignificant daily chore to take the photo and upload to Flickr, even though the benefits are substantial.

In trying to think of an automated solution brought to mind a lifelogging experiment I tried a couple of years ago with a modified version of my DotWikIE single-page wiki tool, which records contents of the clipboard every 5 seconds, and subsequently with the TimeSnapper application. I also used the ControlC site to keep an online encrypted copy of my clipboard contents. Sheepishly I have to admit I ran this in the background for several months before I remembered about it. On checking the site I discovered lots of embarrassing information like credit card numbers, login names and passwords, product keys, and so on in my clipboard stream. Touch wood, their encryption must have been strong as I have yet to knowingly suffer any consequences, and have deleted all entries on their site and disabled the ControlC capture service.

I decided to have another look at TimeSnapper and discovered in the intervening 2 years their product has progressed significantly. It even was able to update the screen snapshots from 2007 into their new format. They have optimised the screen capture rate and lowered the storage requirements. I decided to look at my computing activities on 1 February 2007 in their viewer and generated a quick screencast (somewhat blurry to protect exact details):

This movie showed a varied workload across 3 or 4 main time segments shown across the top of the screen, in fact the TimeSnapper stats show I used my computer for only 4.75 hours in total. However the activities include:

  • check of weather radar and download of podcasts (prior to cycle ride)
  • reading emails
  • checking Bookcrossing.com activity
  • creating and populating a SharePoint site before coffee
  • a little blog reading
  • a long spell of curriculum/course outline generation in Word
  • creating and installing a Windows Server 2003 virtual machine
  • check the notes online and then act as co-MC for a student awards evening
  • start Visual Studio install then watch (a lot of) TV
  • check movie times, play music, read email and more blogs

In other words, my day in screen dumps, all generated automatically, and recalled easily after 2 years.

So I am running TimeSnapper again rather than joining in with Flickr365.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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