How to hack your Apple iPod with Nike+ on it to get the data from it (and do other quantified stuff which isn’t running specific)

Nike+ combined with the iPod Nano are not just for running anymore. You can hack them to do other things if you want, too.

Some background. I have used Nike+ with my Apple iPod Nano device for along time. I love it. But the other day, after my run,  I was syncing my iPod with the Nike+ site using the iTunes software, when I had a problem with my computer. Result? The data didn’t upload. Worse, I tried it again on my next run and it still wasn’t working.

Through some searching, I found the answer here: nike+ website temporarily unavailable: Apple Support Communities. Here is the key feedback I needed:

If you go into your Nano and allow “view hidden files,” there is a pathway to both your latest folder and synched folder: E:\iPod_Control\Device\Trainer\Workouts\Empeds\nikeinternal. Take all your runs from the latest folder — these are the ones that aren’t uploaded — and copy them to your desktop. Put one back into the latest folder from your desktop and try to upload it to Nikeplus. Continue until you get one that won’t upload: It’s the one that’s corrupt. Remove it from the latest folder and get Nike to input it manually. You should have no reason to restore your iPod.

(If you know a bit of XML, you can get all the information from your corrupt runs. The distances are in km and the pace and duration are in milliseconds — this is standard for programming).

That’s right! All that data is there in XML format for you to hack! Highly readable and capable of being hacked with. (Even better, it looks like it keeps a seperate folder for each sensor you use. That means you could have one sensor for running and another for hacking. So you don’t have to worry about messing up your time recordings.)

How you can hack it is up to you. Let’s say you were doing an activity and you wanted to see how long it took to do something (e.g., a presentation). You could treat the presentation like a race, but take a snapshot of the time after each slide. This would give you a sense of how long it is taking you to get through it. Or you could turn your chores into a game. Say you have to clean three rooms, but you found it super boring. Why not try and improve your time each time by “racing” through them and recording your time at the end step?

You don’t even have to be moving. After all, the pace isn’t so important, it’s the stop and start times. So you could devote yourself to reading more each week and you could start and stop the Nano every time you do a reading session. All the times would be recorded on the Nano, which you could pull off later.

There’s lots more data in there besides your times. There’s number of steps taken, your weight, even the playlist you used. There is also the difference between when you paused the Nano and when you just do a time check. With some creativity you can record all sorts of information.

For fans of self quantification, there are more and more devices that you can do this with. But a Ipod Nano and the Nike+ additions provide a cool thing to hack around. I recommend it.

P.S. If you can’t see the hidden files, go here and follow these instructions from Microsoft. On Windows 7, you can see Folder Options in your Control Panel without having to go to Appearance and Themes.

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