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My Day with Nokia’s Sports Tracker

When I first heard of the new Nokia mobile app shipping with the new Nseries phones, Sports Tracker, I envisioned a mobile stop watch combined with GPS and a how many steps have you taken monitor. Dull. Sigh. Where is an updated, GPS enabled Lifeblog?
Ok, I grew up in a family that was sports obsessed, esp. my first stepdad – my mom’s second husband. He was on the Olympic committee, competed in the Pan American games and has won in the Master’s division of the some sort of spin off of the Olympics (Allison, help me here). My childhood, from ages 3 to 13, was spent with the stepdad, mom, and various other mom-related relatives who were pathologically compulsive about exercising at very darned opportunity.
Beach volleyball in the evenings? Check. Olympic style kayaking and canoeing? Check. Surfing? Check. Running? Check. Skiing? Check. Hiking with a pace meter and stop watch? Check!
By the time I was 8 years old, I was hiding when the folks were ready to go out for yet another bout of daily evening EXERCISE! Me hiding with my mom yelling at me that it was time to leave. My high school rebellion was to cultivate super-white, never see the sun skin. To do this in an ultra-athletic, sun-worshiping family was even more rebellious than teenage pregnancy or drug use. I kid you not. The cousins that got knocked-up and/or were smoking pot were excused as long as they were in competitive sports and winning.
The cousins have sports trophies and I have a great collection of black vintage dresses and goth jewelry. I also now have great skin.
So, the nice folks at Nokia’s WOM World asked me to evaluate the Sports Tracker app, as it will be used on the Urbanista Diaries adventure as our way to track our path and upload our photos to the Nokia server.


Gah. Could we not have a nicer name that evokes mapping, travel, adventure, and photo memories (how about Lifeblog… Oh, I forgot, Lifeblog seems to be D.O.A.) rather than a name that evokes musty athletic clothes, driven, competitive over-built sweaty pits?
So, after dissolutely ignoring Sports Tracker for over a week on the lovely Finnish Exchange Student, aka the N82, on New Year’s Eve I decided to crack the app open and let it run while I ran errands and took photos at every opportunity.
I dropped off the dogs at my brother’s house, turned the GPS on, started the Sports Tracker app, took a photo and off I went. As I took the photos, I sent them up to my Flickr photostream via ShoZu, so that each of the photos sent to Flickr would be mapped automatically. When I finished the whole errand lap, I turned off the Sports Tracker and asked it to send the collected data to its mothership.
Amusingly, Sports Tracker wanted to know what type of exercise I was doing – Other, as it does not list car travel in LA as a form of exertion (ha!). The other amusing parts that ShoZu or Lifeblog could not perform for me was to inform me that I had traveled a total of 110 km in 3 hours 19 minutes and 34 seconds. My top speed was 130 km/h (hee hee hee) and my top altitude was 41 meters (Orange), the low was near the beach in Sunset / HB.
Overall, Sports Tracker was amusing for one try, but other than the upcoming Urbanista Diaries, I could not see myself using it again of my own volition. I am not a person that feels the need to track or compare my daily walks or bike rides. I am not a person who is competing with myself or others.
I am a person that does want to take photos and videos daily with my Nokia camera phone and I would like a native app on my phone to take the GPS data and embed it into the EXIF data of my photos so that when I send it to Flickr or my server and to this blog, that I can map and geo-locate my photos and / or video. ShoZu allows me to do all of this to my flickr account but not to my blog. Lifeblog lets me send photos to this blog if I am using my N95, although the Lifeblog on the N82 does not, but Lifeblog does not embed any of the GPS data into my photos or messages.
Most of all, I believe in owning my own data. I really don’t want all of my data, images, text, and videos spread out all over the internet. I don’t want to use Sports Tracker to geo-locate my photos, places my photos on yet another externally hosted service.
What then will happen to my data and photos when Nokia loses interest in Sports Tracker the way they have lost interest in developing Lifeblog? I don’t see an export function on the website (there is an export of the kml/xml geo-data from the mobile app on the phone). Besides Sports Tracker has been developed and conceived of for athletes, not moblogging photographers.
I have a similar concern for my photos on Flickr, my videos on YouTube or Vimeo, my text on Twitter, etc. The more my online creatively is spread onto web services and applications of which I don’t pay the bill for, I get nervous. Nervous for the day when the executives of said service shut it down, nervous for what happens to all that data when the service gets shut down or is left to die for lack of effort or concentrated corporate concern and drive.
From what I have read Ovi.com will allow Nokia Nseries owners to collect all of their data, photos, music, mapping, and other mobile life bits in one space. But what about those of us who want to own our own data on our own websites?
Please, Nokia, take all the great geo-location and photo ideas that you have put into Sports Tracker and put the same functionality into my Nokia N95’s Lifeblog so that I can send all the photos that I have taken on a adventure directly to my own Movable Type blog. You build the app or breathe life back into Lifeblog for the mobile, I can worry about making my Atom script capture and process the kml/xml geo-data. Thanks!
The Flickr Set of “Testing Sports Tracker with ShoZu”
The Sports Tracker “Workout Detail”