Beeminder ♥ Skritter
UPDATE: Check out Skritter’s announcement
Another integration, hot off the presses: Skritter! There is a funny back story with this one. Last winter our charmingly optimistic CEO, imagining we could have this integration done “like in a month”, got slightly telephone-gamed into committing to launch it in January. When we noticed what we’d gotten ourselves into we offered a compromise:
I hereby promise that we’ll launch official Skritter integration before anything else except ones we’ve already started on (Epson/Seiko, Garmin, IFTTT, and Misfit — all of which we hope we can do in January, but now that it’s January 10 we’re noticing that’s not realistic). AND I hereby promise that Bethany (our CTO) will spend 20 hours/week on the pending integrations (including Skritter) until they’re all launched. Here’s her Beeminder graph to prove it: beeminder.com/b/autod.
For the record, it was perfectly clear to me all along that January was out of the question. Though I suppose, given the 326 hours since January 10 that it took to finish launching these five integrations, I theoretically could’ve pulled it off in January with a maniac month. (At least Nick Winter could’ve.) In any case, here we are, thanks to Beeminder, four autodata integrations later, ready with Skritter. If you’re just eager to get a goal set up, you can skip all this and go straight to the action.
Alright, still here? Excellent.
Skritter is impressive. It is an app for helping you learn Chinese and Japanese. It does spaced repetition of vocabulary, as well as implementing a nice interface for practicing the strokes to write the characters. We first learned about Skritter when co-founder Nick Winter, who was an early Beeminder user, built a proto-integration between Beeminder and Skritter so that Skritter users could beemind their time studying. So, technically, Skritter was the second autodata integration after Withings! Meanwhile, we were really impressed by Nick, especially as he was working on his book The Motivation Hacker, and we’ve been keen for opportunities to collaborate in some way. 
If you don’t know anything about Beeminder, we’re a Quantified Self tool for collecting and visualizing data, and hard-committing to your goals. We plot your progress along a Yellow Brick Road to your goal, send you reminders to keep studying, and if you go off track, we charge you money. Long-time Beeminder users find that those stings (get it?) are well worth it for all the awesomeness we induce the rest of the time. But if the thought of having to pay money is too scary, that’s perfect: you’ll be very motivated to keep all your datapoints on your yellow brick road.
We think that the awesomeness of Skritter combined with the sting of Beeminder is going to be a killer combination for success for you Skritterers. Skritter is a great tool for practicing, as long as you keep using it regularly. Now Beeminder’s got you covered.
“It is an app for helping you learn Chinese and Japanese”
Using the integration is pretty simple. On the landing page you authorize us to read your Skritter data, pick which language you are studying, and tell us how much time you want to commit to. We’ll set up a graph for you and send reminders if you get too close to the edge. We check for new data before we send a reminder, and at the end of the day, but if you want to update Right Now you can visit your graph page and click the “refresh” arrow above the graph, and that will force a sync.
One thing that’s a bit different about the Skritter integration from our other autodata sources is that we set the goal’s deadline to be 4am. That’s to match Skritter’s end of day, which is set to be 04:00, because it is the least likely time to be awake. Usually for autodata integrations we fix the deadline to be midnight and don’t allow you to change it, but because Skritter is counting work done between 00:00 and 04:00 as still counting toward the previous day’s totals, we need to match that up. Otherwise we’ll potentially miss data done in the twilight hours.
The rest of it is pretty hands off. As long as you keep studying you won’t get charged, but if you fall below the road we call that derailing. We’ll charge you and readjust your road so that you’re back on track. We give you a week off after a derail, so it’s a great time to reassess and adjust how much studying you have to do every day. As a matter of fact, you can adjust your goal any time, it just takes a week to take effect. So you can plan ahead to give yourself a break or adjust how challenging your goal is, but, in the words of another rationality nerd, you can’t change it out of laziness unless you are particularly forward thinking about your laziness (in which case you probably won’t sign up for this).
Good luck, and happy learning!