« Toy workshop | Main | Which do you believe, the map or the GPS? »

Data portability

For the last year, I’ve been using the Nike+ running iPhone app to log my running. This was somewhat against my better judgement, as I tend to worry about consigning my data to warehouses out on the ‘net without some means to keep a copy in my own control, but I started when the girls were infants, and I needed something shiny to keep me motivated to get out the door on a regular basis. I have also become terrible at keeping up my paper logs (much like this weblog) and something which would automatically record my data sounded like a good idea.

However, a phone app has its pitfalls. I ran into two cases in the last few weeks which led to messy data in the log:

  • During a run, I “paused” the app, but then inadvertently “finished” the run (a different tap). I had to start a new one to track the rest of the run. Not only were my numbers a little goofy, but Nike recorded this as a double workout.

  • More recently, running on Battle Road I had a sketchy GPS signal. As a result, the hour-and-a-quarter run was logged as two and a half miles rather than seven and a half, warping the data quite significantly.

Both of these things should be pretty easy to fix given a little data tweaking, but it turns out Nike doesn’t support such things. What comes from the phone is considered Truth. I contacted tech support asking how I could fix these runs, and their answer was to delete the runs from my activity and email them the details of the actual runs to be re-inserted in my record.

Needless to say, this seems like a cumbersome approach.

So I’m shopping for a better logging solution. At the moment, I’m looking at Strava which comes well-recommended. But first I need to liberate my data from Nike+ (sound familiar?), and it looks like even that is problematic. I wonder if this shouldn’t be a standard part of how people evaluate online services: “How hard will it be to download everything I upload to this site?”

Post a comment