Happy Day. I received an email today saying that Sports Tracker is back and ready to be downloaded.
Sports Tracker has been on hiatus the last year or so, after it was spun off as a beta software product at Nokia to become its own company. The nice folk behind Sports Tracker have updated the website, ported over all of the data from folks’ accounts at Nokia’s Sports Tracker server, and have created mobile apps for all the current Nokia phones with GPS on board.
I am quite excited as I have missed Sports Tracker on my Nokia N86. I have missed mapping my route as Scruffy and I walk each day and I take photos. It is good fun to have a record both in terms of a map and a data record of how fast or slow one walked, the altitude and other fun geo-athletic details.
Sports Tracker ported about 95% of my ‘routes’ to the new server, only leaving out all routes before the Chennai photowalk, of which those previous routes were when Sports Tracker was in beta and I was testing SP before departing for the Urbanista Trip to India.
My only two minor objections to the new Sports Tracker is that the new website is in Flash and the mobile app I downloaded from the Ovi Store for my Nokia N86 doesn’t have an obvious way for me to log into the new Sports Tracker website to pair my routes with the site. Hopefully, the mobile app will ask me to pair the mobile to the server when I start my first ‘workout’.
I look forward to seeing what the Sports Tracker team will do and am excited that I can now pair my photos with a mapped route of my photo walks again. Thanks, Sports Tracker!
A year ago today, I was taking a plane from Chennai to Bangalore and then having a good walk around Bangalore with Mohan.
Over a year ago, I signed up for Nokia’s Sports Tracker in preparation for the Urbanista Diaries trip. I created a public account that would feed into the Urbanista Diaries web interface at the nseries.com website and then I used the same account for the Nokia viNe project, as well as all kinds of photo walks & drives in between Urbanista and Nokia viNe. I also have a private Sports Tracker account, also started a year ago, for tracking my walks around my neighborhood that for privacy’s sake I don’t want public.
About a month ago or so, when I tried to log into Sports Tracker, I was prompted to either merge my Sports Tracker account with my Nokia account or to create a Nokia account. So, I did. I merged my public Sports Tracker account with my public Nokia account. I also created a new account on Nokia for my private Sports Tracker account.
Much to my chagrin, I can log in to both Nokia’s Ovi and Sports Tracker with my private account and I can log into Ovi with my public account but I cannot log into Sports Tracker or Nokia viNe with my public account.
A week ago, I used the feedback form on Sports Tracker to explain the problem and ask for help. I have yet to hear back.
I am frustrated on several accounts:
1) Don’t ask me to merge accounts and then not let me be able to log in.
2) No, I am not going to make a new public account, as then I lose a year’s worth (a YEAR!) of data, photos, and video that I can’t log into and access or edit or delete or add titles to or… Yes, it is still readable and viewable, but if I can’t log in & edit the data, then it is being held hostage on the Nokia servers.
3) Tomorrow I have to send the Nokia viNe project Nokia N82 back to WOM World and I have ALL of January’s journeys trapped on the N82 mobile because I can’t upload them to Sports Tracker or Nokia viNe, which means that I have downloaded the photos to my computer via the cable, but I have not been able to upload the geo-tagged paths/journeys to the server. This frustrates me, as I can take my 4GB micro SD chip out of the Nokia N82 before I ship it back, but when I put it into my old school N95, I still won’t be able to upload the journeys/paths to the server, as the server won’t recognize my login. This means no Punk Rock Bowling or the rest of January 2009 photos & videos on Nokia viNe.
4) If I an early adopter and someone who has been using the service for over a year can’t log in to my account and can’t get anyone to reply to my help request, what happens to all the new customers who Nokia wants to have use the Nokia web services? Nokia, please put a consistent, across all your web services, community support in place to help customers troubleshoot their problems that neither a FAQ nor forum can help.
Has anyone else been frozen out of their Sports Tracker or Nokia viNe accounts after merging the account with their Nokia / Ovi account? If so, please comment and let me know how you solved the problem. Thanks a big bunch!
Nokia Nseries Widget
Black Phoebe :: Ms. Jen
On one of those amusing trips down Internet Blackhole Lane last week that started at Twitter and ended 5 clicks later at someone’s website, led me to finding the Nokia Nseries Maps + Photography Widget.
This is a great widget, much more useful than the Urbanista Diaries widget. The above widget has all the Sports Tracker uploads that I have made public, from my India trip to various bits afterwards to the current Nokia viNe uploads. And more importantly, it is fast and works.
But this hidden widget is interesting.
Super interesting, as I had been bothering the folks over at WOM World since early September about when the Nokia viNe testing/campaign participants would be getting the widget to publicize our adventures in Nokia viNe land, but up to last week there was no widget for the viNe campaign.
When one trots over to the Sports Tracker site, there is not a single thing about a Nokia Nseries web site widget that scrapes one’s Sports Tracker account for the data, geo-paths and imagery. One would imagine that more than a few Sports Tracker users would love to know about this widget so that they could display their paths and imagery on their website or Facebook page.
Hello, Nokia. Helllllllooooooo…..
The above Nokia Nseries Maps + Photography Widget that uses my Sports Tracker username & data would be an excellent addition to the downloads on the Sports Tracker site. It would also be lovely to have it available for download over at Nokia viNe site.
One would think that if a large and lovely mobile corporation was going to spend lots of money on developing a widget and/or web services and/or promotional campaigns, such Nokia viNe and Sports Tracker, that one would have the internal teams and external vendors talking to each other to let each other know when a product/widget/campaign has been created that would benefit the other team or each other. If one is going to create a great useful widget, it would be lovely to have it cross-linked to as many places on the Nokia website as possible to get as much traction as possible.
Dear Nokia, if you need a good internal blog / intranet to improve your global marketing campaigns, hire me, I will set it up for you and get your teams talking. Inter-team and intra-team communication equals better promotions and pr, which equals more sales.
Tues 02.19.08 – Photo of colorful lanterns taken by Ms. Jen on the walk up to the Elephanta Island caves with a Nokia N82.
Due to the lack of reliable internet connection, I am once again using the Lifeblog on the Nokia N82 to post this photo and text to my blog. Go Lifeblog Go. And get GPS embedding capacity while you are out there.
Now on to the subject at hand… If you were to go to the Nokia Urbanista Diaries website and look for my photos from today’s expedition to the Elephanta Island caves, you would see my photos going out and coming back, but no photos for while I was there.
Why you ask? Well, if Sports Tracker does not have a data connection it will not map photos. No data connection means that Sports Tracker will think that there is no photos associated with the “workout activity” (yucky sports language again).
From one developer to another, this is silly. I had the GPS positionsing on at the same time, ShoZu was able to map all the photos even on Elephanta Island where there is no data connection to the main land cell towers. [Update from later: I realize that it is good to use the cell tower / data connection for when one does not have satellite, so I would like to propose here that Sports Tracker use both or one when the other is not available, but not to make it so that if there is no data connection that the photos are not uploaded.]
Why is Sports Tracker relying on triangulating one’s position from the data connection to the cell tower rather than the far superior native GPS positioning that is already on the N82? I rechecked my settings, with live sharing off I should have the ability for Sports Tracker to rely on satellite data rather than triangulation from cell towers.
Thus, when I went to upload my “workout” to the server, no photos were found. In terms of our photo work flow for posting mapped photos to the Urbanista site, this means that I needed to find a computer with an internet connection that also has a usb port so that I could upload the cave photos manually to the Sports Tracker “workout”.
This is when the trouble started: where to find an internet cafe: found; do the computers have a usb port to use: no, too old or already taken with mouse & keyboard; does the ancient computer at internet cafe have flash 8 or 9 installed and/or the latest browser that will support AJAX: no, no, no; does the computer at the internet cafe have connection faster than molasses during a blizzard: no, the frozen molasses is faster. Epic Sports Tracker upload in India Fail.
Being the determined little taurus turtle that I am, I went back to my hotel room and started to see if I could access my Sports Tracker account from the N82. You can, kind of. The site mostly loads, which is more than the nseries.com site does, due to the fixed width layout there is some amusing overlapping. (Did the dev team at Sports Tracker test the site on the mobile device, the N82, that they are co-promoting with their own product?)
Once I was logged into my account the list of workout activities did populate on my profiles page, a grey box with a whirling circle sat down to the right a bit loading loading loading, never to load. Whether that grey box was the flash obect for the photos, map or workout list, I did not know as none of the three ever loaded on the N82’s browser.
Now, supposedly the N82 comes with FlashLite. Supposedly.
Ok. Let’s talk folks. If Nokia or Apple or any other mobile device maker wants to market their high end devices beyond the US & European markets, then they need to acknowledge that not everyone has access to a internet enabled computer and if they do, it may only be of glacially slow speeds. And in some markets, the mobile is preferred over the computer.
A friend of mine in LA who hates computers recently bought a iPhone and after a month or two of using it realized that she wanted to purchase some music on iTunes and needed to update her iPhone. Only one problem, she couldn’t do either, as she does not and chooses not to own a computer and the iPhone requires a computer (Mac or PC) to interface with the Mothership. I have previously blogged here about my repeated frustration with Nokia’s PC only focus. Nokia and Apple, what about the millions and billions out there with no computer and whose only connection to the internet is your mobile device? Time to make all activities be functional purely from the mobile device with out having to access a computer.
Given that Nokia has a huge market presence in India and I have seen by far more Series 60 Nokia devices out and about in India than I ever do back in LA, should not all Nokia websites and software / web applications be fully functional on the phones produced by Nokia?
Flash may tell a lovely story to computers on a fast broadband, but what about the rest of the world?
The nseries.com website does have feeble mobile version, but as soon as you click on the links one will either get an error code or a very minimal functioned and designed site. Please look at m.twitter.com or m.flickr.com for great examples of fully funcitoning and well designed mobile versions of the Twitter and Flickr web apps.
It is possible to break out of our preconceived notions that our main work flow occurs on a computer and that the mobile is an additional device. The mobile is the main device for more people around the world than not. Let’s move into the present with the devices and the applications.
The method of mobile blogging that we are using during the Nokia Urbanista Diaries adventure to send photos from the Nokia N82 phone to the Nseries Urbanista website is as follows:
1) Turn on Sports Tracker. Start a “workout”. Make sure the GPS signal is strong.
2) Start going around on the adventures and take photos. Go lots of new places, takes photos, make sure the GPS signal remains strong.
3) Stop the Sports Tracker “workout”. Click on “upload to service”. Sports Tracker will find the photos associated with the “workout” route and send them to the ST server with the GPS data and athletic data.
4) The Urbanista Diaries flash app then pulls the photos, geo & route data feed to create a photo map and the slideshow that you can watch on the site.
At the beginning of the year, I blogged that I really didn’t like Sports Tracker as a mobile blogging app for the reasons that it is created to be a sports tracker and not a photo tracker, I also wondered why Nokia has allowed Lifeblog to go dormant rather than adding the geo data capacity to that established app.
During the course of January, I tried Sports Tracker out a few times while walking Scruffy McDoglet and liked it as a mobile app to tell me how far we had walked and at what pace, but I still felt that it was not an app for mobile photo blogging.
Urbanistas Devin and Jay both blogged about their frustrations with Sports Tracker while out on their journeys and Ryan has tested it before starting his part of the Urbanista adventure.
I am now at the end of my second full day of mobile – geo – blogging with the Nokia N82 and Sports Tracker has been doing a good job of tracking where I have been going around Chennai, has added most of the geo data correctly, and has been able to find and send without error most of the 200+ photos I have taken. I am certainly not going to complain about how Sports Tracker sent up all 150 photos from today’s 4th Chennai Photowalk, no, actually I am going to praise the hard work that the developers have put into improving the system in the last four weeks that the Urbanista Diaries has been going.
What I would like to point out here is what Sports Tracker could do to make the application a little more photo mobile blogging friendly or spin off a sister app that would be ‘Photo Tracker’:
1) If Nokia wants Sports Tracker to be adopted and used regularly by more than just the athletic or tech geeks then make the mobile and web based user interface be visual with photos and geo data at as the first level of interaction.
Find someone’s mom who loves to take photos but is non-technical (I will donate my Mom to the cause) and have her be the UI tester without any explanation, if she can use the app while taking photos and then post them to the server, then everyone can. Take a big tip from Nokia’s Lifeblog app for the phone on this. The photo thumbs are the first thing that comes up and then you can do things with them via 2 different menus (one menu with the thumbnail display and one menu for each photo).
How could this work for Photo Tracker, well make the “timing” start when one opens the camera app – this action should be a choice as not everyone will want every photo geo tracked nor the pull on the battery resources that the GPS and tracking app take. Each photo should have a manual (at the time or later) opt out feature, as some photos you don’t want geo tracked and some you don’t want sent to the Photo Tracker server.
2) Yes, allow the photographer to choose which photos get sent up to the server from each timed tracking activity either before sending the data and photos to the server. The fact that Sports Tracker currently sends all the photos it can find during the interval of the activity is either too much (150 photos from today’s photowalk! Yikes!) or some photos should not be sent due to privacy or it is just a bad photo.
3) Now onto the Sports Tracker web based application… The colors and layout of each workout profile may be conducive to sports based athletic training and tracking, but not for photography or showcasing one’s mobile photos. Photo Tracker should have the photos up above the “fold” not buried as tiny thumbnails at the bottom of the web page. Don’t get me going on the green & black color scheme…
4) Take a tip from any number of social networking applications and allow the user to configure the layout to suit their needs: Sports folk will want the athletic data prominent and Photo folk can make the photos prominent. Also, allow the user to change the stylesheet: ie the colors, typography and minor layout changes (see blogger, typepad, vox, myspace, et al for how folks can customize the look).
5) Take a tip from any number of social networking apps and an allow the view/user to easily find one’s friends recent ‘posts’ / ‘activities’. Right now it is very difficult for me to find the most recent uploads from Ryan & Jay and I can click on Devin’s username to navigate to his space on Sports Tracker at all. Take a tip from Flickr on this, Flickr makes it really easy for me to see the most recent photos from my contacts and friends.
6) Last but not least: Own your own stuff. Allow the advanced mobile photographer or web dev the option to host and send the data to their own website and make it apart of the settings in Photo Tracker to post to your own blog if you so choose (Atom Protocol anyone?). This person can then take the athletic and geo data via the xml/kml file and with the photos create their own mobile app.
Lifeblog lets me post directly to my website via the Atom Protocol and that is why I prefer it to all the other mobile photo blogging apps out there, but it doesn’t embed the geo data. Sports Tracker and Shozu both embed the geo data but they don’t let me send the photos and data to my own site but only to their websites.
Frankly, after how Nokia seems to have left Lifeblog high and dry, why should I put up two plus years of photos and geo-data to Sports Tracker if in 2-3 years it will be DOA as well? Data portability and/or stability for long term archival purposes and url links is important.
At the very least, make all the data and photos be exportable, not just on the phone but also on the Sports Tracker / Photo Tracker site.
Some folks may argue that Sports Tracker already does the job of athletic activity tracking well. This is true. Why fiddle with the system and add a full featured Photo Tracker? Well, that is how we are currently using the system for the Urbanista Diaries as a Photo Tracker, not a Sports Tracker.
One could also argue that ShoZu and Flickr do much of the same functions as we are using Sports Tracker to do and that I envision that Photo Tracker could do, so why recreate the wheel? In web world, the first to enter the market is not always the best web app in the long run. When was the last time you used Friendster? Applications developed later can learn from others before them, iterate, add new features or goals and come out with the stronger user base, ie. MySpace and Facebook.
Nokia, how about a full featured Photo Tracker that takes the best of Lifeblog and Sports Tracker mashes ’em up, iterates a bit, and makes this mobile photo blogger darned happy? How about it? Run with it.
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.