Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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FAQ Table of Contents

General Information
Website in General
Features and Pages for Staters
Features and Pages for Carers
SelfState Analytics Page
Specific Analytics
Using an Orb
Science and Math Behind SelfState

General Information

Q: What does "SelfState" mean?

A: Your SelfState is how you answer the question, “how are you doing?” The most interesting part of that answer is whether your SelfState is negative, neutral or positive and by how much. What’s even more interesting is by looking at your SelfState over time and in various ways, the SelfState service can provide personal insights. That’s where the “analytics” come in. By the way, people who update their SelfState are called "Staters".

Q: Why do you want me to update my SelfState every 24 hours?

A: For most people, “affective self states” (i.e., moods) last roughly four hours. So if we checked in that often we would catch most moods. But that’s impractical and we are interested in more than just moods. We figured that 24 hours is a compromise between too often (creating a burden) but often enough where analytics are still meaningful. More frequent updates are ideal.

Q: What do you mean by “condition”? Why do you want to know if I have one or what it is?

A: Many of our users suffer from a chronic condition such as chronic pain or mood disorder and use SelfState to track and gain insight into their condition so that it can be better managed. Knowing about your condition, if you have one, allows SelfState to provide better data. For other users who don’t have a condition, SelfState is a great form of “life logging” which can still provide interesting insights about how your life unfolds. For life loggers, we've set the condition to "Q"; i.e., Quantified Self.

Q: What is a CareCircle? Who’s in it?

A: Many SelfState users are content to use the insights provided by analytics for only themselves. For others, however, they want to share their data with friends, family, healthcare providers, social circles and others. Providing this data allows others to simply stay informed or participate in the user’s life more fully. CareCircle #1 are the closest people such as friends and family. CareCircle #2 are healthcare providers and others with whom you are less close but are the "next line of defense". You can choose to specify neither, one or both. There can be up to eight people in each CareCircle.

Q: What does a CareCircle see? How do they get involved?

A: CareCircle #1 gets notified if we haven't heard from you in a while (currently 54 hours). They also get notifications when your SelfState Score (all the analytics tabulated together) is pretty low (generally 80 or below). CareCircle #2 gets notified if we haven't heard from you in a long while (currently 72 hours). They also get notifications when your SelfState score is really low (generally 60 or below). In both cases, they can see the same analytics you see, except they cannot see any words you provide in your updates unless you so choose. By default, they can't. We know words can be very personal.

Q: What about the people in the CareCircles who care for Staters? Where do they fit in?

A: We love people who care for our Staters! We call them "Carers". Carers are sometimes the family members of Staters and sometimes they are healthcare professionals such as doctors. When a Carer looks after a group of Staters, such as the patients in a doctor's practice, we call that grouping a "CareGroup". A person can be both a Stater and a Carer.

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Website in General

Q: Sometimes I use a laptop, sometimes a tablet and sometimes a mobile phone. What do you have for me?

A: You can use the SelfState website -- selfstate.io -- on a laptop, tablet, OR a mobile phone and the experience is automatically tailored for that device. We adjust for the size and interaction style for that device.

Q: When logged in, I land on the Home page. What are the major parts of this page?

A: At top of the screen is either a menu, if it is a larger screen, or three horizontal bars which when pressed will retrieve a menu if you are using a smaller screen. You can move easily around the site using the menu and the underline marks the page you're currently on. Next down on the screen will be a group of "smiley faces" if you are registered as a Stater. More on that in the next section. The main part of the page are a set of rectangles, or "cards", with text and words in them. What cards appear will vary from user to user. If you see an open hand symbol in the top right-hand corner of the card, you can move it by clicking (or pressing if mobile) on the hand and dragging the card to another place on the screen if you want to reorder the cards.

Q: Is my data safe? Is it private?

A: Your data is backed up every 24 hours which means that there is a very small chance that up to one day of data could be lost. In terms of private, you data will not be shared with anyone without your explicit permission. Currently, access to the system requires a password. We soon hope to have all communication and data storage encrypted. We will be seeking HIPPA compliance.

Q: Should I stay logged in or log out?

A: That is up to you. Generally, if you share a computer with others, you might want to log out. Otherwise it is safe to stay logged-in. However, the system will log you out in 42 days (although this is configurable under Settings).

Q: What happens if I lose my password? Or want to change it?

A: If you forget your password, no problem! Just click the link on the password screen to reset the password and we'll send you a new, temporary password within 24 hours. You can always change your password by choosing the "Settings" menu option and changing it there. No one is able to retrieve your password -- not even LifeState technical staff. We use a technique known as "one-way hash tokenization".

Q: Do you support the conventions of different countries?

A: Partially. As part of signing up, you told us of your home country. This determines how dates and temperatures are entered and displayed. SelfState does support global timezones. Regarding language, we only support English at this time.

Q: Do you interface with XYZ software / website / app?

A: At this time we do not but we’d like to hear more. What do you want to connect to? For what reason?

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Features and Pages for Staters

Q: I see five smiley faces in an arc on the Home page. What do I do?

A: This is how you update your SelfState. Simply choose a smiley with a click or press, add any words if you wish and click send (the paper airplane). If you want record your SelfState for a previous time, click on the calendar icon and select a time before clicking send.

Q: What should I think about before I choose a SelfState?

A: You shouldn’t think about anything! If a trusted friend asked you, “how are you doing?”, this is the answer that would immediately come to mind. If however you are under a doctor's care, instead use the directions you've been given.

Q: What do the colors of SelfState mean?

A: Colors and emojis (smiley faces) were chosen specifically because they don’t have a specific meaning but rather a relative meaning. Think of green as neutral, neither positive nor negative. For most people, green is their SelfState the majority of the time. Think of cyan (green-blue) as somewhat positive and blue as very positive. Think of yellow as somewhat negative and red as very negative. Apply your personal interpretation from there.

Q: I selected the wrong SelfState. How do I erase it?

A: If you select SelfState again within 7 minutes of the last selection, the new selection will override the previous one.

Q: What happens once I select my SelfState? Why does it take 15 minutes before results are shown?

A: Once you select your SelfState, it is stored in your private log file. Every fifteen minutes the SelfState Cloud software recomputes all the analytics for all users based on any new SelfStates. It’s not realtime because the SelfState system is interested in trends not current states.

Q: If I use the website to select SelfState, why do you want me to add words?

A: Words help you remember why you chose a particular SelfState when you review your selections. (See SelfState Log in Analytics.) Also, we plan on doing various analytics on the words in the near future. Note that we said “words”. It’s not important that they are complete ideas, phrases or sentences.

Q: On the Home page, I see card with my name on it and something about a "Personal Summary". What is that?

A: That's your "Personal Card" and it's an overall summary of your SelfState. The gauge dial and number, called the SelfState Score, and color are computed from tabulating all the analytics. Clicking on it, takes you to the Analytics page.

Q: Okay can you give me the technical answer?

A: The SelfState Score is called a "weighted score". The weighting of analytics is tied to the user's condition. The color scale is a bit different than the SelfState colors you select. Green means that with all factors considered, your SelfState is in the neutral range, whereas yellow means it requires attention, and red indicates the need for urgent attention. There is no cyan or blue as the color is meant to relate your SelfState to a "normative" value. The number, color and comment work together.

Q: How about the lines of text on my personal card on the Home page?

A: The first line summarizes your last update (delayed up to 15 minutes). The next lines of text indicate whether the SelfState score includes any "bonus". The rest of the text a ranked excerpt from the commentary provided on the SelfState Analytics page. Only commentary which needs attention is shown. Each comment is preceded by a color box meant to indicate if the comment needs attention (yellow) or needs urgent attention (red). This is part of the weighted commentary that makes up the overall SelfState Score indicated on the gauge.

Q: When it says that something needs attention, what does that mean?

A: Normally when something says it needs attention, it is valuable to understand what the analytic means and then, if appropriate, take steps to make changes. This may require the help of a program or method, a friend or family member, or a professional. On the other hand, you may know it is temporary, or it is already being addressed. As one example, if your SelfState trend is trending downward, you might ascertain whether it is externally influenced, in which case you work to remove the cause of the issue, or it is internally influenced, in which case talking to someone, for example, might be warranted.

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Features and Pages for Carers

Q: On the Home page, I see a card with the name of my CareGroup on it. What is that?

A: That's your "CareGroup Card" and it's an overall summary of your CareGroup. If all the Staters in your CareGroup cannot be displayed, it will say so. The Staters in your CareGroup are displayed from lowest SelfState Score to highest, although the lateness of particular Staters may change the sort order. For each Stater in your group, it shows a color box representing the SelfState Score, the SelfState Score itself, the Stater's name and username, and if late, an indicator. Clicking anywhere on the card will take you to your CareGroup page which provides more detail on the Staters in your Group.

Q: On the CareGroup page, I see several cards with the names of the Staters of my CareGroup. What are those?

A: These are the "Personal Cards" of each Staters in your CareGroup and each is an overall summary of their SelfState. The gauge dial and number, called the SelfState Score, and color are computed from tabulating all of the Stater's analytics. Clicking on it, takes you to the Stater's Analytics page.

Q: Okay can you give me the technical answer?

A: The SelfState Score is called a "weighted score". The weighting of analytics is tied to the user's condition. The color scale is a bit different than the SelfState colors you select but similar. Green means that with all factors considered, your SelfState is in the neutral range, whereas yellow means it requires attention, and red indicates the need for urgent attention. There is no cyan or blue as the color is meant to relate your SelfState to a "normative" value. The number, color and comment work together. For even more information, check the "Science and Math" section.

Q: How about the lines of text on my Staters' personal cards which appear on the CareGroup page?

A: The first line summarizes the Staters' last update (delayed up to 15 minutes). The next lines of text indicate whether the SelfState score includes any "bonus". The rest of the text a ranked excerpt from the commentary provided on the Stater's SelfState Analytics page. Only commentary which needs attention is shown. Each comment is preceded by a color box meant to indicate if the comment needs attention (yellow) or needs urgent attention (red). This is part of the weighted commentary that makes up the overall SelfState Score indicated on the gauge.

Q: When it says that something needs attention, what does that mean?

A: Normally when something says it needs attention, it is valuable to understand what the analytic means and then, if appropriate, work with the Stater whom you care for to make changes.

Q: Can I see everything about my Stater's SelfState? Is there anything that remains private to them?

A: As a member of the Stater's CareCircle, you can see all the same data about their SelfState as they can -- with one exception. If the Stater adds any words to their updates those will be hidden from you unless they specifically allow it. They can make words visible to you by changing the appropriate setting under Settings. The default is off. If they do allow Carers to see their words, words might appear on the Stater's personal card if provided with the last update or as part of the SelfState Log analytic.

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SelfState Analytics Page

Q: What is the significance of these numbers: 60, 21, 7?

A: Humans run on various cycles - some biological (like the circadian rhythm) and some are a function of our society (like calendars). 60 days represents the better part of a season and is long enough to describe your disposition at a given point in your life. All but the most major life events are not significant at this scale. 21 days is the amount of time people take to acquire and lose habits, start or forego new relationships, start new therapies and see results, and make other impactful changes on disposition and outlook. 7 days is the shortest meaningful period that can contain recent significant events, register ongoing moderate life changes while being long enough to be meaningful with only a daily reporting of SelfState.

Q: Under the various graphics on the analytics page, there’s always a comment and it proceeded with a color square. What’s the comment for? And what does the color mean?

A: The comment is an objective reading of the graphic in the context of a user’s condition, if applicable. The color scale is a bit different than the SelfState colors but similar. Green means the comment is neutral, yellow usually means the item requires attention, and red usually indicates the item needs urgent attention. There is no cyan or blue as the color is mean to show relationship to "normative" values. Note that the color preceding the comment and the color of the very left of the row are always the same color.

Q: What can I change on this page to suit my preferences?

A: Like the Home page, you can change the order of the cards to suit your preferences. You simply grab the open hand in the top righthand corner of the card with a click or press-and-hold and drag it to where you want it. In order to see the analytics card better, you can click anywhere on the card to grow it to the width of your screen. If on a mobile device, rotate it into landscape orientation to get the best view.

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Specific Analytics

Q: Analytic - What is Mean SelfState?

A: This is the average (or mean) of your SelfState over the last 60 days. In essence, it is your disposition at this point. If it is yellow or red, your SelfState should be addressed, if possible. Just like it took 60 days to create this mean SelfState, changing it will likely require slow but steady progress. Note that a mean SelfState of cyan or blue may also be something that requires attention as, by definition, these are exceptional states. For a mean SelfState to be cyan or blue requires what would be typically exceptional states to be occurring quite frequently. That's possible but unusual if it stays that way.

Q: Analytic - What is Volatility and why is that important?

A: Volatility is a measure of how much your SelfState changes over the last 60 days. Big swings and frequent swings result in a high or very high level of volatility. In the case of mood disorders, for example, high volatility can be an important symptom. Too little change in SelfState, or low volatility, may also be a problem. This could be the result of continuous suffering, in the case of chronic pain disorders, or “flat affect” in the case of some drugs. Both the high end and low end of the range are set to standard values depending on whether there is a reported condition and what the condition is.

Q: Analytic - What is the SelfState log? I see purple and white diamonds. What are those for?

A: This is a record of every reported SelfState for the last 60 days (with some duplications, etc., removed). Each black dot is an update. Hover the mouse over the dot to get the date and color. Purple and white diamonds are also updates but words were supplied with those updates. Hover the mouse over to get the words. The commentary only gives the last reported SelfState.

Q: Analytic - What’s a Moving Average? What is the Moving Average SelfState for?

A: Any point on a moving average line is an average, or mean, of the last 7 or 21 days that came before it. In essence, this tends to smooth out the sharp changes you see in the SelfState Log. A more subtle feature of this graphic is whether the 7 day line is above the 21 day line (meaning the near term is more positive than the medium term at that point) or visa versa. It is typical that the 7 day line shows more variation than the 21 day line. Note that clicking on “21d” or “7d” on the legend to the right of the graphic will highlight the respective line to make it more visible. The commentary remarks on the relative distance between the most recent position of the 7 and 21 day lines.

Q: Analytic - What’s the Selected SelfState Histogram? Why is there a “range”?

A: Selected SelfStates Histogram is the count and percentage of SelfState color selections over the last 60 days. Humans tend toward "homo stasis" so in most cases green (neutral) has the highest peak, cyan and yellow the next highest peaks and blue and red the lowest peak. This “mountain” shape is the most typical shape. Note, however, the acceptable range of target shape is dependent on any reported condition, if any. If the user’s Selected SelfState Histogram shape varies from the target shape range, the commentary will highlight this. Click or press on the bars to see how many times the SelfState was selected.

Q: Analytic - What’s the Average SelfState by Day of Week Histogram? What does it tell me?

A: Average SelfState by Day of Week Histogram is the average of your SelfState updates over the last 60 days split out for each day of the week. The color of each bar tells you that average as a color. For most people, it'll be green most days of the week. An average, however, is never an exact color so the size of the bars vary and may also point up or point down. The size and orientation of the bar is described by the "valence" number. This number ranges from -2 to 2. Think of red as -2, yellow as -1, green as 0, cyan as +1 and blue as +2. Note that a green bar could dip below or above and still be green. The bar is the color of the valence it is closest to. A separate indicator is the analytic score. It is the color that appears on the left of the card. The analytic score is yellow if your last update was on your most negative day of the week, otherwise it is green.

Q: Analytic - What’s the Mean Interval Between SelfState Selections? What does “compliance” mean?

A: This is the simplest analytic. This is the average, or mean, interval of time between SelfState updates over the last 60 days. The target is 24 hours or less. Although this is not reported, selecting a SelfState every day vs. simply an average of every day is better for the analytics. In other words, you could report twice a day every other day and get an average of daily, but this is not ideal since the data is “blind” over much of two days between selections. Note that the Home page allows you to retroactively enter SelfStates in case you miss one or more.

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Using an Orb

Q: If I update my SelfState via an Orb, what's different than updating it through the website?

A: There are some minor differences but the main data value, your current SelfState, is the same. Using the website has the advantage of allowing you to specify words but the Orb, if so equipped, might also capture such things as current room temperature and light level of the room. These data can help in interpreting your SelfState.

Q: Can I do updates with my Orb privately? For example, does it make a sound?

A: Each Orb model is capable of producing sounds to confirm the selection the Stater has made. However, by default this sound is turned off. To turn it on, go to Settings and select sound.

Q: I selected the wrong SelfState. How do I erase it?

A: If you select SelfState again within 7 minutes of the last selection, the new selection will override the previous one. However, the Orb won't take another keypress for 7 seconds so the SelfState Cloud can catch a breath!

Q: If the Orb is equipped to sense other factors in addition to the keypress, what do you do with these data?

A: When additional data is available, we always use the data to refine the Stater's Analytics, or to notify a Stater's CareCircle(s) if something needs attention. For Orbs equipped with a temperature sensor, a Stater's CareGroup #1 will be automatically notified if the temperature falls below a certain threshold or rises above another threshold. These thresholds can be changed from the default in Settings. For example, if a person's home doesn't have the furnace turned on in the winter, a dangerous situation could be present and the CareCircle would be notified.

Q: Is there an urgent call button on the Orb for use in emergencies?

A: All Orbs are provided with the capability to notify a Stater's CareCircle immediately if any button is pressed and held for more than 4 seconds. CareCircle #1 is notified if one exists, or if not CareCircle #2 is notified. Note that a Carer's preference could be to get notifications via email so it cannot be used in emergencies. The urgent call mode should not replace calling an emergency service!

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Science and Math of SelfState

Q: What is the basic idea behind the SelfState value?

A: The basic idea is that SelfState is about describing an important component of your current state of mind, and in a way that can be communicated with others and analyzed. If a friend asks how you are doing, how you respond normally communicates a lot of information. A key component of that communication is whether your current state of mind, or "subject experience", is perceived by you to be positive, neutral or negative, and by how much. The scale of positivity to negativity is called "valence". When communicating with others using words, the words selected have an implied "sentiment" but are short of a specific valence value. Deriving valence from a conversation is usually easy for humans but it's a difficult cognitive (or for computers, computational) task. This is because understanding a conversation -- particularly one highlighting subjectivity -- requires sharing interpersonal, situational and conventional context with the person receiving the message. SelfState is a short cut for understanding a key element of a person's subjective experience.

Q: Is there real live experience behind this?

A: The origin of SelfState is that one of the Co-founders of LifeState wanted to understand how his mother was doing on a very regular basis. She had just had hip replacement surgery and it was more important than ever to keep track of what was going on. The children wanted to know: how are you doing today -- okay, good or poorly? This was a great example of where the level of positivity or negativity was the most important part of the communication and the rest of the words were detail. This became the basis for SelfState.

Q: Is the SelfState Score scientific? What goes into making it up?

A: The SelfState Score is a proprietary methodology for summarizing a large number of analytics into a single number then placing that number on a color scale. Each constituent analytic yields a green, yellow, red depending on the analytic. Each analytic also has a weighting. The "weighting profile" (the set of all weightings) is unique to the condition reported by the Stater (if any). For example, for bipolar disorder, volatility is very important and therefore has a higher weighting. The individual analytic scores times the weightings will yield the overall SelfState Score. The SelfState score turns yellow or red based on the Threshold Profile for a given condition. With no reported condition, it defaults to a SelfState Score below 60 to be red, 60-79 to be yellow, and 80 and above for green.

Q: Okay, but what determines the weightings?

A: The specific answer is a trade secret. However, weightings are based on three factors -- time, function, impact.

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