Tracking Me Down

The press has been going on about how smart phones effectively transmit your movements when they upload information on cell tower locations, etc. Duh, that’s what happens with a smart phone.

Far more interesting to me is that the controversy led someone to write nphonetrack for Windows computers and iPhone Track for Macs, which can extract the cell tower database from your iPhone’s backup file in iTunes. I keep my iTunes backup file encrypted, so I had to remove that before the nphonetrack utility could generate a map for me in Google Earth. And now I’ve updated my iPhone’s operating system and that means this location cache will be restricted in size, no longer backed up on the computer, and cleared out whenever I turn off location services on the iPhone. So this may be the last time I’ll see something like this:

My iPhone Track (click to enlarge)

I find this fascinating. You can see the tracks from my trip to Pagosa Springs, Colorado last summer. And I’ve managed to smother with cell tower pickups all but the northwest quadrant of Oklahoma, along with big chunks of Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas.

I’m not all that bothered by tracking. In fact, I run Google Latitude when I’m on a solo trip so that my parents and a few close friends can actively monitor my position if they wish. And my posts on Facebook and my blog make it fairly clear when and where I am on my regular hiking expeditions. But if I ever want to disappear, I’ll certainly need to turn off my phone’s location services!

About Granger Meador

I enjoy day hikes, photography, podcasts, reading, web design, and technology. My wife Wendy and I work in the Bartlesville Public Schools in northeast Oklahoma, but this blog is outside the scope of our employment.
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