OhLife: The easiest way to write your life story.
August 4, 2010 12:13 PM   Subscribe

OhLife: The easiest way to write your life story. "Every night we'll email you the question 'How did your day go?' Just reply with your entry and it's saved here instantly."
Your journal entries are private. The only way you can access them is by logging into your account, or by our nightly emails that are sent to your email address only.

There's no way to share your entries. We don't have any integration with Twitter or Facebook, there's no way to make an entry public, and your entries are not searchable by Google. OhLife is strictly a private place for you to read and write about how your days went.
They have a short and clear privacy policy.
posted by chunking express (65 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, what a clever idea. I haven't kept a daily journal in a long time, but this might fit the bill. Thanks for the link!
posted by vorfeed at 12:15 PM on August 4, 2010


Every entry of mine would probably just say "Fine."
posted by Houyhnhnm at 12:16 PM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


And what's wrong with that?
posted by chunking express at 12:16 PM on August 4, 2010


-Crap.
-Crap.
-Crap.
-Supercrap.
-Crap.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:16 PM on August 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


What a great service! Thanks for posting :)
posted by torisaur at 12:17 PM on August 4, 2010


Finally, a blogging service for those of us with lives nobody wants to hear about.
posted by theodolite at 12:19 PM on August 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


A great idea, but ..... call me paranoid, but I don't trust it. There's way too much of my personal info on the internet already.

Your information is never shared or sold to any third parties.

Prove it. Easy to say, harder to do.
posted by blucevalo at 12:20 PM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess you can email them and ask them what's up.
posted by chunking express at 12:22 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Great day today! Finally put the finishing touches on the death ray. Now tomorrow, it's off to D.C.!
posted by yhbc at 12:23 PM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


This shows how dependent we've become on the internet. Hey, y'know what you can also do? Write a journal on your own hard drive, using a word processor!
posted by Melismata at 12:24 PM on August 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


So, it's the opposite of Twitter, where the question is always "what are you doing right now", and it's broadcast for the whole world to see.
posted by hippybear at 12:27 PM on August 4, 2010


Hey, y'know what you can also do? Write a journal on your own hard drive, using a word processor!

In the past decade I have killed no less than six hard drives, most of them by natural causes. About one in every ten of my 3.5" floppies from the 90s are readable, most CD-Rs more than five years old are flaky, and thumb drives are random as hell. However, a question I asked on an internet medicine side-effects forum in 1999 is still there.
posted by maus at 12:29 PM on August 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


Only you can see your entries

Yeah, color me (perhaps too) suspicious as well. There's something inherently different between writing something down on paper (or on an unnetworked PC) and uploading it to *any* online service, regardless of the privacy claims.

They disallow sharing content, but can anyone who works for OhLife read your material? Can Reman and Shawn? Would you care if they did?

we made expensr, a personal finance tool, which was featured on the cover of Business 2.0 magazine and was later acquired

Let's say OhLife is acquired. Is your information still private? What if they change the privacy policy and you don't notice?

I guess it's like 750 words. I can see the appeal (duh, encourage writing), but it's not for me. I tried 750 words but felt inhibited because I wasn't sure who might be reading.

And although I know there must be some legitimate commercial value for these apps (advertising or subscriptions), someone offering something for free always makes me suspicious.

I'll take a pen and paper. Or Dark Room.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:31 PM on August 4, 2010


This is okay, I guess. But I'd rather have a service that wrote journal entries for me, with varying degrees of awesomeness. Otherwise mine would be, Day 1: Meh. Day 2: see day 1. Day 3: see day 2...
posted by tommasz at 12:35 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


But I'd rather have a service that wrote journal entries for me

Ghost-sourcing. Random crowds of strangers to ghost-write your memoirs.
posted by Babblesort at 12:40 PM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to figure out what problem this solves, and not coming up with anything substantial. On their About page, they say they always forgot to write in their journals so an email reminder would help with that, but anyone with an email client can set a reminder to do the exact same thing. If you want to keep a journal private, you keep it in a (maybe password-protected) folder on your hard drive, and if you're concerned about the drive failing, you run regular backups (which you ought to be doing anyway).

I'd rather have a service that wrote journal entries for me, with varying degrees of awesomeness.

Ohhh, I'm having a flashback to an issue of Games Magazine, way back in the Mesozoic Era when I was a kid. They used to have a feature called "Find the Fake Ad," where they'd have a fake ad for a nonexistent product or service mixed in with all the other ads throughout the magazine, and you had to send them a postcard or something with your guess as to which one was fake and you'd win a prize, and for SOME REASON I actually remember one of the fake ads -- it was a diary-writing service to make you look cooler in your own diary! It showed a "before" picture of a pathetic girl's journal that said, "Dear Diary, He didn't call. Again." And an "after" picture that said, "Dear Diary, Another whirlwind adventure!"

I don't know why I have things like this in my brain.
posted by Gator at 12:41 PM on August 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


Man, Gator, now I want a whirlwind adventure. Y'know, the kind with Panama hats, airplanes with two propellers, a sinister fellow with a pencil moustache (who later aids the heroes (me)), and some sub-tropical location. Supernatural events optional.
posted by LD Feral at 12:51 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is so absurdly trivial I'd already written an automator script for it:

It prompts you for input, timestamps it, writes it to a text file which clouded via dropbox

I'd be happy to share it with anyone interested.

The above site is ridiculous overkill for a simple problem, regardless of the 'sharing my data with strangers' aspect
posted by leotrotsky at 12:51 PM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


What exactly are the evil data miners going to do with thousands of entries of "The boss was a jerkface today at work." Blackmail you and threaten to e-mail your boss. Actually.... I CALL DIBS ON THIS PLAN.
posted by edbles at 12:53 PM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


At first I thought, Great, and now I'm curious why they created this service. What are they going to do with my stuff?
posted by anniecat at 12:53 PM on August 4, 2010


Seems like this would be better done as a feature in email clients, where you can set up a dead man's switch that will mail you daily/weekly/whatever, and if you don't respond within a certain timeframe, a second mail (or many) will go out.

Then you could just configure that feature to send the mails to you daily, and make the second mail a big "HEY DOOFUS WHY DID YOU SET UP THIS THING IF YOU AREN'T GOING TO ANSWER" message to yourself. Your privacy would be as assured as it is for all the rest of your mail (which will vary depending on who your provider is, whether you're using https etc.)
posted by davejay at 12:56 PM on August 4, 2010


At first I thought, Great, and now I'm curious why they created this service.

They use it? A lot of developers try to solve their own problems.
posted by chunking express at 12:57 PM on August 4, 2010


Random crowds of strangers to ghost-write your memoirs.

Hmm. Sounds like a job for PhoLife!

Every night we'll email someone else the question 'How did your day go?' Just reply with your entry and it's saved to a random user instantly.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:03 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Shit. PhoLife is where they hire Vietnamese GhostWriters.

I was thinking of FauxLife.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:04 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is such an awesome thing now that paper and pencils no longer exist.
posted by Legomancer at 1:05 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


'How did your day go?'

After I fueled up the chainsaw, I removed all the limbs for distribution around the city, wrote the clever taunting notes for the police, cleaned the blood up off the basement floor, watched an episode of Big Bang Theory, cleaned the blood off the chainsaw, packed the limbs into clear plastic bags, tied them with bright pink bows, and ate a light dinner.

All in all, I'd call it a pretty typical Wednesday.
posted by quin at 1:05 PM on August 4, 2010


They use it? A lot of developers try to solve their own problems.

That makes sense, but the thing is, it's their site. Their servers. They don't have to worry about possible privacy issues because it's their treehouse. They're basically doing what I said, emailing themselves a reminder and saving their journal on their own password-protected hard drive, which in this case happens to be a Web server with other people's stuff on it too.
posted by Gator at 1:06 PM on August 4, 2010


This shows how dependent we've become on the internet. Hey, y'know what you can also do? Write a journal on your own hard drive, using a word processor!

This shows how dependent we've become on computers. Hey, y'know what you can also do? Write a journal on your IBM Selectric!

This shows how dependent we've become on electricity. Hey, y'know what you can also do? Write a journal on your Underwood!

This shows how dependent we've become on mechanical gadgetry. Hey, y'know what you can also do? Write a journal with your ball-point!

This shows how dependent we've become on paper and ink. Hey, y'know what you can also do? Write a journal with your cave wall!

I keed.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:06 PM on August 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Shit. PhoLife is where they hire Vietnamese GhostWriters.

You're thinking of PhoMechanicalTurk. PhoLife is actually where they send you a new recipe for Pho each day. Shit, I'd sign up for that even if they asked for my first born.

I would eat the shit out of some Pho right now.
posted by edbles at 1:07 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


You missed one reductio on the way to absurdum.

This shows how dependent we've become on writing. Hey y'know what you can also do? Scratch pictograms on your cave wall to forecast the hunt.
posted by Babblesort at 1:09 PM on August 4, 2010


This shows how dependent we've become on hunting. Hey y'know what you can also do? Eat grass and DIE.
posted by Gator at 1:10 PM on August 4, 2010


This shows how dependent we've become on breaking apart complex molecules for food. Hey y'know what you can also do? Perform basic chemical REACTIONS.
posted by edbles at 1:12 PM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


see also: Notepad
posted by Eideteker at 1:12 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the past decade I have killed no less than six hard drives, most of them by natural causes. About one in every ten of my 3.5" floppies from the 90s are readable, most CD-Rs more than five years old are flaky,

Huh. I guess I should consider myself lucky. I pull stuff off 10+ year old CD-Rs and 3.5" floppies every so often without problem. (My hi tech storage method is a shoebox on a shelf in the closet.) I even have some 5.25" floppies from the 80s that I dug up and pulled college-era writing off, a few years ago. The big problem there wasn't copying files off the ancient disks but wading through all the (WordStar -- ! --and early WordPerfect) formatting codes that lingered among the words after opening /converting them using pretty much any contemporary word processor I tried.
posted by aught at 1:13 PM on August 4, 2010


This shows how dependent we've become on beating a joke to death.
posted by box at 1:16 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Listen folks: Bullshit systems are a necessary and important phase in learning how to do creative work on your own consistently. We need to be kind and gentle with these people, as this is an incredibly difficult phase.* But soon they will come through it having used this catalyst and definitely after it auto-emails all their friends and co-workers the shitty things you said about them. Learning can be painful.

*I on the other hand am perfect and totally start projects without ritualistic devices to compel me to do things or crazy reward systems that I set up like let's say telling myself "If you work on this for an hour than you can go play Nintendo for an HOUR. ONE HOUR, edbles I'm serious...this time.
posted by edbles at 1:17 PM on August 4, 2010


Relying on me reading my email to do something doesn't seem like it's going to work: Inbox (646)
posted by smackfu at 1:22 PM on August 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


OhLife: It's bigger. It's bigger than you, and you are not me.
posted by knave at 1:27 PM on August 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


Dear OhLife,

Today I stole someone's identity.

In other words, someone stole my identity, and I couldn't be happier.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 1:29 PM on August 4, 2010


Anyone else automatically add the word messy in there?

My mama said my cousin Bucky's so boldly bald 'cause he never took his hat off. He kept that cap on even when swimming. I know there's a lesson in there somewhere—something nothing special 'bout boys who smell like salami and boys who've never apologized.
posted by defenestration at 1:34 PM on August 4, 2010


Wow, smackfu, I wish I had Inbox (646).

Inbox (10892)

I think I have a problem..
posted by Put the kettle on at 1:38 PM on August 4, 2010


Dear OhLife:

As a relentless Inbox reader and sorter, who never has found a satisfactory way to keep a diary other than sporadically writing, with growing illegibility, on legal pads, I was glad to read about you on MetaFilter today. "At last," I thought! "Someone has a quiet place on the net for me to store my daily experience. I've never much wanted to publish it via a blog." It is sure a good thing I tend not to spend my days disclosing my PIN, my sex life, my credit card numbers, my SSN, and my full birthdate, or you might be a security risk for me. Thanks for providing this service, and a private little thank you to chunking express for alerting me to it.
posted by bearwife at 1:55 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Automated reminders for things always seem like a great idea when you first set them up, but in no time at all they start to seem naggy and I leave them unread until they drop out of the bottom of my inbox. I don't think this would be any different for me.
posted by usonian at 1:56 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


My wife and I have been doing this via Wordpress for more than five years now. Every day the following script runs out of crontab, and on alternate days emails either me or my wife reminding us to reply with what we did that day. Wordpress then checks that POP3 mailbox and posts.

#!/usr/bin/env python
import os,time

yearday = time.localtime()[7]
tomail = ('dmd@3e.org','sjd@3e.org')[yearday % 2]
mMessage = 'From: secretaddress@3e.org\nTo: %s\nSubject: posting reminder\n\n' % tomail
p = os.popen('/usr/lib/sendmail -t', 'w')
p.write(mMessage)
p.close()

posted by dmd at 2:01 PM on August 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think I have a problem..

No spam filter?
posted by Anderson_Localized at 2:01 PM on August 4, 2010


This sounds pretty lame and dorky but I'm really really curious to see how this would turn out so I might give it a trial run.
posted by AHM at 2:03 PM on August 4, 2010


This is like the time you started high school and each day you'd come home and your parents would ask what you did that day. At first, you're pretty excited and you tell them everything that happened, who you talked to, and what you learned, all in minute detail. After a while... well, a grunt in reply seems hardly worth the effort.

I think I was grunting by day three of my high school career, btw.
posted by afx237vi at 2:05 PM on August 4, 2010


A friend of mine pointed me at this recently. I think it's an interesting idea, but it has a limited audience. I'm told that living in my email client is a sign that I'm an old fogey and that everyone now communicates on Facebook chat. I tend to post most of the things I'd post to this service to my livejournal (where I track books read, movies and concerts seen, karaoke league shenanigans, etc.), but this would definitely be useful to me.
posted by immlass at 2:10 PM on August 4, 2010


I think I was grunting by day three of my high school career, btw.

And on that note (kind of), the ohlife.com domain was only just created less than a month and a half ago. Now I'm curious to see if it'll stick around.
posted by Gator at 2:13 PM on August 4, 2010


No spam filter?

Nah, I just sign up for too many damn mailing lists, I guess. And half the time when I see an email, the subject line tells me all I need to know so I never read it. (Not real emails from real people of course.)
posted by Put the kettle on at 2:13 PM on August 4, 2010


y'know what else seemed pointless, lame and dorky right up until the point that every celebrity, politician, business, and your grandmother signed up?

yeah. twitter.
posted by hollisimo at 2:17 PM on August 4, 2010


y'know what else seemed pointless, lame and dorky right up until the point that every celebrity, politician, business, and your grandmother signed up?

yeah. twitter.


Yeah, but, like, if every celebrity ever signed up for this, we'd never know cos it's all private. Supposedly.

Slash Twitter still seems kind of lame to me.
posted by Put the kettle on at 2:20 PM on August 4, 2010


Slash Twitter is great. Shaq/Kanye? That's hot stuff.
posted by box at 3:16 PM on August 4, 2010


Big Bang theory comes on Monday.

I like the idea of this. I also get reminders to do chores in my email, but I ignore those. Maybe this would be better, 'cause I could do it in bed on the laptop.
posted by jeoc at 4:22 PM on August 4, 2010


You know what would be great? If you could click a button and have OhLife randomly serve up someone's diary entry. I mean, stripped of their username and stuff, obviously! I would click that shit all day long.

(Oh crap, I'm a terrible person, aren't I?!)
posted by ErikaB at 4:34 PM on August 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would be tempted by this if the daily question was different each time, like "Bacon is tasty. Discuss" or "Who annoyed you most today? Include details of suitable punishments" etc.
posted by unbearablylight at 5:18 PM on August 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Unbearablylight: I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by edbles at 3:26 AM on August 5, 2010


You cant edit previous entries. That to me is a fantastic feature.
posted by the cydonian at 4:55 AM on August 5, 2010


Unbearablylight/edbles: you might enjoy Vox's Question of the Day (I think there are livejournal qotd communities like this as well).
posted by box at 5:05 AM on August 5, 2010


That’s neat box, but a little general for my purposes. You know what might be cool? Internet writing partners. Here’s how this would work:

You each send each other a creative (or non-fiction) writing prompt a week. If you’re genre specific you find someone from another genre to pair up with so that you’re less likely to utilize old stand bys and more creative with ideas. Or maybe that’s an option maybe expert knowledge is better. You then have to send each other a full on 750 word or whatever thinger and then you both get feedback. Maybe this rotates? Like couch surfing you can surf someone’s writing partnership and try on new partners and new ideas. But everyone who participates gets personalized individualized attention and people who don’t respond get called out or eventually phased out of the community.
posted by edbles at 5:12 AM on August 5, 2010


That sounds awesome edbles. I would definitely sign up for that.
posted by afx237vi at 6:02 AM on August 5, 2010


OhLife: It's bigger. It's bigger than you, and you are not me.

Heh.... that's the first thing I thought of too!
posted by spilon at 8:08 AM on August 5, 2010


I may be in the minority, but I would much prefer to read how someone else spent their day. I am fascinated by these things.

There is a quiet poignancy to some lives; the troubles, little joys, the struggles and the rare triumph. Hypothetically, it would be nice if it were anonymous (with security around true identity information of course), and I could choose to "follow" somebody. Like long-form Twitter, maybe. I know there are blogs, but this would be more convenient, delivered nightly. Something to compare my own day to. These things are understandably annoying and intrusive to most, but the convenience of its delivery to my inbox might occasionally provide a hidden gem at the end of the day...fortune cookie style. I would imagine the people who only had "Meh" to say about their day would filter themselves and not keep up enough with it to have a significant presence over time.
posted by nickjadlowe at 8:28 AM on August 5, 2010


I can't think of anything more depressing that being notified daily of very personal random past failures.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:06 AM on August 5, 2010


I can't think of anything more depressing that being notified daily of very personal random past failures.

You could always lie. “Today while fighting back the Zombie hordes we lost a good man. Carl was a generous and spirited man who was incredibly skilled with his shot gun. I will miss him deeply. He is survived by his wife and three children, Carlbob, Smithers, and Molly.”
posted by edbles at 11:49 AM on August 5, 2010


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