Clarke and the Continuous Location Update

I love the idea of Fire Eagle, Yahoo’s under-supported location-brokering service. However until recently I found myself unable to use it. I had no mobile service that I could consistently rely on to update Fire Eagle.

clarke app

Enter Clarke. Clarke (named after Arthur C. Clarke) is a small tool that runs in the background on my Mac. It updates my location on FireEagle every 5 minutes. It triangulates me via Skyhook (the same location-service that is used on the iPhone). Like all FireEagle apps Clarke used OAuth to gain access to my account (developer Tom Taylor used oauthconsumer). Tom has released the Clarke code on Github.

If you don’t have a Mac or don’t wish to run Clarke for some other reason these Fire Eagle updater might do the trick for you. Fire Eagle Updater Add-on for Firefox has a very descriptive name. This Firefox extension was developed by Yahoo! and requires the Geode extension. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a similar updater for Windows.

fireeagle levels

The reason I bring up Clarke is not that you can update FireEagle; there are plenty of apps (79 in the gallery) that work with the service. Instead, it’s interesting because of its continuous background updates. I don’t have to think about it and can leave it running all the time, which means it gets forgotten.

When I setup a continuous location-updater I have to think about the actions of my future self. How can I guard against him? What if there are places or times that I do not want revealed (shopping for a birthday present, my home, etc.)? I take care of this by usually only sharing my neighborhood (it’s useful for both locals and non-locals without getting too specific). However, in the future I’d like time-based rules (share specific places after 5PM), white lists (always share bars or when I am in San Francisco) and black-lists (never share my home). Services like Clarke and Fire Eagle and Latitude will need to add these safeguards before they get wide spread adoption.