venerdì 23 gennaio 2015

Simple blog analytics with

Nowadays most, if not all, blog platforms out there provide you with some kind on analytics data.

In my case I am using google's blogger and as expected the stats about my blogs are very good and detailed.
I also have other web sites which I normally track with google analytics. Google analytics is providing any possible info you can imagine about your pages. This is very good!!.

However for me such an amount of information is overwhelming.
In most of the cases I don't need all such details. I just care about number of visitors, sessions and nothing else.

Last but not least each the different platform provides his own dashboard.
I would like to have such information in my TrackMe dashboard (see my previous post Track your life with Tasker and - Part 2)

Image Beacon

Once again provides me the necessary tool which is called Image Beacon

The concept is not really new and still very effective. The idea is to  embed a small (very small) transparent image in your HTML content and every time someone hit your page the transparent image is requested by the browser.

The URL of the image is pointing to service. When receives such particularly crafted URL will add an event to your selected collection and send back to the browser the transparent image.

This way you can easily track any content you have on your blog or any other type of web site.

Simple, quick and effective.!!!

Let's now see an example:

Let's assume your projectID is PROJECT_ID. Your write api key is API_KEY and your collection is COLLECTION

You construct the URL of the image in this way

You are wondering what is BEACON_DATA?
Simple is the event you want to record in your collection when your page/post is hit.

An example of BEACON_DATA is:

  "post_id": 1234,
  "post_title": "my blog post",
  "hit": 1

However you cannot put this JSON in the above URL. requires that you value the data parameter with the base64 representation of the above JSON chunck.

In this case the base64 representation is:


So now we have all the element to craft the final beacon image URL:

It might look complex but it is not.

Now just add this image to your HTML content

<img src=""></img >

After that every time your page will be hit a new event will be added to your COLLECTION.

Auto Collection & Data Enrichment

I found very interesting and useful also the Data Enrichment and the Auto Collection

Using those two very useful features let's see another possible BEACON_DATA chunk:

    "keen" : {
        "addons" : [
                "name" : "keen:ip_to_geo",
                "input" : {
                    "ip" : "ip_address"
                "output" : "ip_geo_info"
    "ip_address" : "${keen.ip}",
    "user_agent" : "${keen.user_agent}",
    "hit": 1,
    "post_id": 1234,
    "post": "your post title"

As in the previous example let's calculate the base64 of this chunk:


and again this is the final image tag to add to yours HTML content

<img src=""></img >

This is an example of an event which is created using this URL

    "hit": 1,
    "keen": {
        "timestamp": "2015-01-23T19:57:58.922Z",
        "created_at": "2015-01-23T19:57:58.922Z",
        "id": "54c2c7c6a6662c1527843321"
    "user_agent": "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/40.0.2214.91 Safari/537.36",
    "post_id": 1234,
    "post": "your post title"
    "ip_geo_info": {
        "province": "Turin",
        "city": "San Benigno Canavese",
        "postal_code": null,
        "continent": "Europe",
        "country": "Italy"
    "ip_address": "A.B.C.D"

pretty cool,eh? :) I love it!!! :)

Image beacon simple tool

As the people who knows me knows that I am lazy, I have created a real simple bash script which is creating the IMG tag for me. 

You can find it on git hub.

The repository contains to files:
  • data_beacon.json

Use it in this way:
  • edit your data_beacon.json as you like
  • edit (only first time) and insert your PROJECT_ID, API_KEY and COLLECTION
  • execute ./

This will generate an output similar to this (it depends on content of data_beacon.json): YOUR PROJECT ID HERE/events/PUT YOUR COLLECTION HERE?api_key=PUT YOUR API KET HERE&data=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


That's really all about it.

Hope this is useful. Let me know if you have ideas to improve it.

take care!!!

Track your life with Tasker and - Part 2

This post is the second part of my previous post (Track your life with Tasker and - Part 1) on using for personal life event tracking

In part 1 I have quickly explained how I use simple REST API to track and store events in the's cloud.
I have also created an Android application using Tasker and I made everything available on git hub for everyone to use and contribute.

In this post I am now focusing in visualizing the information collected and stored in the cloud.
 I should admit that once again, is doing most of the job for me. Yet another reason for me to considering it a great service.

One very simple way to visualize events information is to use another cool service from the team at

On their website is written that Datahero "Create rich analyses and share your insights in seconds."

I used for something like 15 minutes and I can only agree with that statement.

I have created a trial account and in matter of minutes I was proficient in visualizing my analytical data from

You just need to:
  • connect to datahero
  • import your preferred colletion
  • create some charts using a cool visual editor
  • add your chart to a dashboard

There are way too many option for me to explain in this post but from what I have seen it is a very interesting service.

Below the simple dahsboard I have created by connecting and datahero. It took me no more that 12 minutes!!! :) dashboards

Al alternative way (there are many more ways) for lazy :) people like me is to use the great tools provided by at this link 

Even if you are not a developer you can easily build your own personalized dashboard in minutes with the tools provided.

Start by cloning the git with the following command (on Linux. On Windows can be different)

git clone

This will provide you with plenty of dahsboard layouts ready to use

and some interesting example to learn from (what else one can ask for? :) )

I am here using the two and one layout which I like it

you can find it in the following directory <YOUR DIRECTORY>/dashboards/layouts/two-and-one assuming that YOUR DIRECTORY is where you have executed the git clone command

Have a look at index.html. This is the file to modify to populate your dashboard with beautiful charts

The structure is very simple. Every chart area of the layout is a set of 3 self-explanatory DIV

Set the proper title for your chart (<div class="chart-title">) and add a relevant note (<div class="chart-notes">)

In order to add the chart you need to modify the <div class="chart-stage"> in the following way:

  • delete the <img data-src="holder.js/100%x350/white"> line. This is just a placeholder
  • add an id to the chart-stage div like this:  <div class="chart-stage" id="chart1">

The id will be useful later and will be used by the data visualization API query designer

Now we have our layout ready to display our chart which is taking the data out of the collection.
What is missing is a small chunk of Javascript which build the proper query and instruct the client to display the chart.

Don't worry this is unbelievable easy: just go to<YOUR PROJECT ID>/workbench

You will access your Workbench. This is a very easy to use tool to generate the necessary JS code for your dashboard

Select the mandatory collection you want to query and the analysis type (sum, average, ....).
In addition you might specify optional parameters like filters, timeframe, ....
You can read all the detail about Data Analysis API here 

When you have properly set up your query just hit the Run Query button and you will be immediately see a chart representing your query.

In order to see the Javascript code which generates the chart click on the Javascript tab. You should see something similar to this

That's it!! :)
Just cut&past this chunk of JS into your index.html, wrap it into a <script></script> block  and you will see the chart appearing in your own dashboard.

You should replace the projectId and the readKey with your values that you can find in your project page.

Also very important is to change this line client.draw(query, document.getElementById("my_chart") in client.draw(query, document.getElementById("chart1")

This line is telling visualization client to run the query called query and to display the resulting chart in the div with id chart1

Save your file and refresh your web browser and bam!!! Your own dashboard is up and running

Here a simple one I have created out of the data collected with my Track Me application

These layouts are fully responsive and display perfectly also on my android phone

The charts are fully customizable and have many options to set.
You can find detailed information here Google Charts

In this two part series of post I have shown you how it is easy to collect, store, analyze and visualize your valuable information.  The trick is to use smart and easy to use tools like and others.

If you like this idea let me know. If you don't like it let me know
Feel free to contribute.

Happy analytics!!! :)

sabato 17 gennaio 2015

Track your life with Tasker and - Part 1

When I was a kid I was used to count everything around me. Actually I am still having such habit. :)

Everywhere I go I count objects around me. No particular reason for it, just that I get bored very quickly and counting keep me busy with something to do. :)

I always been interested in numbers, statistics and analytics. Over the time I have also developed some simple web app helping me to track important parameters for me.

Recently I have stumbled upon a fantastic service called  and I have decided to build a simple app to keep track of my life events and parameters.

In this post I'll explain you what I have done and I'll share the app with you so you can take it and improve it in case you find it useful.


The tools I have used for my tracking application are:
  • a very good data collection and analytics service in the cloud
  • Tasker: the best app for Android which I have ever purchased allows me to send event data to the cloud via a well designed REST API. Store such data in the cloud and create beautiful analytics dashboards . They have a free of charge plan for up to 50.000 event/month, clear and well written documentation, SDK for the major languages (JS, Ruby, Python, iOS, Android, Java, .Net and even Scala).
In short they provides everything I always been looking for to implement a simple and extensible tracking application.

For additional information I suggest you to look into the documentation 


Tasker is defined as "Total Automation for Android" by its author.
This is totally true and I would add that Tasker is the factotum for Android. Whatever you have in mind can be more or less easily achieved with tasker and its plug-ins.

With Tasker App Factory you can even build native Android application that you can even distribute through the Play store.

For additional information I suggest you to look into the user guide

TrackMe app

Nowadays you can find in the market many cool devices and apps that helps you to track different aspects of your life. There are tons of fitness bracelets, activity trackers, sleep trackers, whatever trackers. 
However those cool devices are all independent form each other. They all provide a separate app and analytic tool.
The only "smart" device which is always with you from morning to end of the day is your phone.
So why not using it as one single tracker device? 
With your smart phone you can track your fitness activities, your sleep etc...

This is exactly what TrackMe app is doing.

Tasks and Scenes

Using Tasker tasks and scenes I have created a simple and easily extendable app to track whatever parameter is relevant for me.

The scenes are basic input dialog which collects a specific activity or parameters (i.e. my weight, the number of Km of my car, fuel consumption, etc...)

The tasks are basic set of instruction and command to execute. The basic action shows the scene, collect the value entered by the user (me) and send the value to to be stored in a specific collection.

So far I have created the following scenes:

  • trackme_dlg_gas: scene to acquire gas or electricity counter number

  • trackme_dlg_denti: scene to acquire information whether my daughter has washed her teeth or not

  • trackme_dlg_dieta: scene to acquire the daily point of a diet program I am following

  • trackme_dlg_peso: scene to acquire my weight 

  • trackme_dlg_rifornimento: scene to acquire the information about my car when I refill the tank

  • trackme:  the main app scene

So far I have created the following tasks:
  • TRACKME: the main task 

All the above tasks are executed when the relative icon in the main scene is tapped with the finger.

  • TRACKME_KEEN_CONFIG: contains the configuration 
  • TRACKME_KEEN_SENDER: sends through HTTP POST the event data information to cloud
The two above tasks do not have any scene associated. They are just used to interact with service.

Some of the above task and scenes are configured through the use of Tasker's variable.
This is to allow anyone to easily change important parameters.

As an example the title of each scene is not hard-coded but is defined in a variable. So you can change it without modify/editing the scene. Configuration

In order to use this tasker app you first need to configure a couple of simple parameters.
You can find such information in your's account page.

What you need is your

  • Project ID
  • API Key

Now you can open the TRACKME_KEEN_CONFIG task and set the following variables:

  • %TRACKME_KEEN_PROJECT_ID: in the To field insert your Project ID
  • %TRACKME_KEEN_API_KEY: in the To field insert your API Key

That's it!! At this stage your Track Me app is ready to use.

Other Configurations

Each task which is associated with an image icon in the Track Me app has few variables can be customized according to your own preferences.

Let's analyze those variables:

  • %TRACKME_DIAG_TITLE:  change the content of this variable to personalize the Title of the UI dialog associated to the task
  • %TRACKME_KEEN_COLLECTION:  change this variable to personalize the name of the's collection you want to store the data in
  • %TRACKME_KEEN_EVENT:  change the content of this variable to personalize the data structure of your data event you want to store on cloud
Next to those variables there are other text string that can be changed in order to display your preferred text messages. (i.e. all my messages are in Italian, but you can change it with English text)

Extending Track Me app

I provide a template scene called trackme_dlg_template.

In order to create a new tracker follow the below steps:

  • duplicate the template scene
  • customize the template scene as you prefer
  • make sure your new scene properly set a variable called %TRACKME_DLG_VAL.  This is the data field which will go into the %TRACKME_KEEN_EVENT variable (I have used variables to pass data from scenes back to the task and to cloud)
The %TRACKME_DLG_VAL variable should be set according to the below:
  1. NaN in case you want to abort the operation (i.e. pressing the Cancel button)
  2. Value in case you want to send an event data to

  • create or duplicate an existing task
  • properly configure the newly created task
  • edit the main trackme scene
  • add a new image to main scene (select your preferred icon)
  • associate such an image to the newly created task (see above)
  • edit the text below the icon image in the main scene
That's it. You can extend Track Me app with as many tracker as you want in few minutes.


In my Track Me app I have used a mix of built-in icon and icons from the Glossy Silver HD icon pack (freely available in Play Store)

Obviously this is my choice but nothing is preventing you to use a complete different icon set.


All the tasker scenes and tasks are available on my git hub 

Download it, use it, change it, improve it, do whatever your like and let me know your result. I can only learn from you!!! 

NOTE: I provide on github the userbackup.xml file. This way you can very easily import the full Track Me application in your Tasker. Please note however that this will completely overwrite and existing profiles, tasks and scenes. So always make sure you make a proper backup of your Tasker objects. 


Let's now see a quick example on the usage of Track Me app

  • run the trackme task: I do it by tapping on a icon on my home screen on Android phone (you can add it through tasker widget

  • Click one of the icons (Peso = Weight in this example)
  • The proper UI dialog is now shown

  • Enter the weight though keyboard
  • Press the Send (INVIA) button
  • Now the dialog close and you will see again the main app
  • A couple of confirmation message will be shown
Sending Data

Weight correctly registered

At this stage your weight has been correctly sent and accepted by It is now stored in your trackme_peso collection and it is available for further use (analytics).

If you regularly (daily or weekly) send your weight to you can easily answer to questions like those:
  • what was my minimum weight in the last 6 months
  • what was my maximum weight in the last 6 months
  • what was my average weight in the last 6 months
  • how many time I have gone above the 75 Kg in the last 6 months
  • ...
  • ...

Let's see now that the weight just sent to is properly stored.
Go to your account and select the project you have configured in %TRACKME_KEEN_PROJECT_ID

You should see something like that

Now click on Last 10 Events

As you can see there are 5 different events (weight) in my collection.

The #1 is the last sent. Click on it and you show see something like that

Now we can see that the weight (80 Kg) we have inserted has been properly stored by


If you are interested in this concept feel free to contribute.
You can do it in many ways:
  • spot errors
  • make suggestion to improve the existing app.
  • create new scenes and task
  • suggest new trackers
  • improve the graphical design
  • ...


The combination of such incredible tools like Tasker and allows me to quickly and easily keep track of the important aspect of my life.
It has never been easier than now to create useful application for our daily life. We should take advantage of that.

I hope the sharing of my work here will create some discussion. I am curious to read about new tracker and new aspect of our busy life to track and analyze.

In part 2 I will quickly show how to visualize and analyze the data collected and stored on