The Digital Journalist
Camera Corner: Lifeblogging with the Nokia 7610

by Gina Trapani

Imagine this: You're walking down the street and stop at a pet store window where half a dozen kittens are rolling around, batting each other, mewing, dozing and being unspeakably cute. You want to remember this moment AND share it with your friends - so you take out your video camera, shoot and post the film to your Web site - all before you step away from that window.

I've been doing just this for several months now with the Nokia 7610 cameraphone and a software application called Lifeblog.

The Nokia 7610 is a sleek, good-looking phone that takes 1-megapixel still photos and 10-minute Quicktime video clips, both with 4x digital zoom. The phone features night shooting mode as well as a self-timer, along with Movie Director software that lets you do simple video editing on the phone. The 7610 also boasts Bluetooth wireless technology, a modern Web browser, instant messaging and e-mail capabilities, RealPlayer to view videos, SMS (text messaging), MMS (multimedia messaging for sending others photos) and a gorgeous 65,536-color 176x208 pixel display. The 7610's battery lasts for 2 hours of talk time and 10.4 days on standby. The predictive text function helps you thumb out text messages faster, and voice dialing and hands-free speaker phone come in handy in the car on the road.

Lifeblog on the 7610

The Nokia Lifeblog software archives the text messages, photos and videos created with your phone and generates a digital chronological log of your life. Using Lifeblog you can post to your own "moblog" (mobile blog) on the Web with a few keypresses.

Here's how it's done:

1. Say I'm taking the N train over a bridge right around sunset. I grab my phone, press "Camera," choose "Video" and then "Capture."

2. I stand in the window till we've pulled into the station and choose "Stop."

3. From the "Options" menu I choose "Post to Web." A title field, the photo and the time and date appear. I edit the title from "Lifeblog post" to "Subway over the bridge."

4. From the "Options" menu I press "Send." The phone connects to my Web site and the video appears right then. See it here.

Lifeblog on a PC

Once you get home, you can download all the 7610's photos and videos to your computer. The on-phone version of Lifeblog syncs with an on-computer component (via Bluetooth or USB cable) and archives all the phone's media items and text messages on your hard drive for browsing on the big screen. Though with 8MB of on-phone memory, it's amazing how many pictures and videos you can store on the phone before dropping them off on your PC's hard drive.

Since I got my 7610, I've turned into a text messaging fanatic who takes cameraphone snapshots and short videos of everything and anything - that perfect antipasto I had in Sicily, a funny bumper sticker, or my nephews wearing Jackie O. sunglasses. At Home Depot I'll snap a pic of a shelving label so I can measure at home later and do a price comparison on the Web. On a roller coaster at Coney Island, I'll take a short video starting the moment I reach the top of the first ascent - and even though it's just a tiny Quicktime file, the shrieks of terror are crystal clear.

Mom and my baby nephew

Taken with the 7610 by Gina Trapani
If I want to show the world how pretty my Rice Krispies with blueberries looked this morning, I could snap a pic and post them to my Web site without ever leaving the kitchen table: Web publishing at its easiest and most immediate. The value, of course, comes not with publishing photos of breakfast, but in a swarm of citizen reporters armed with cameras on the street every day, showing the world what it was like to, say, be in the London Tube on July 7th. The quality of these photos doesn't compare to even consumer-level point and shoots (not to mention professional photographs) but the fact that a cameraphone is so small and lives in most people's pockets anyway results in tons of photographic moments that would've never been captured otherwise.

The Nokia 7610 is one of 10 phones that can run Lifeblog. Additionally, the PC version of Lifeblog will store up to 500 items; more than that requires a 29.95 £ license. Lifeblog can post to any Atom-enabled Weblog (I use TypePad); or you can e-mail or MMS photos to other Web-based photo-sharing apps, like Flickr or Yahoo! Photos.

My only complaints about the phone are its slow startup (up to 23 seconds!) and difficult-to-press on/off and Lock Keys switch. Otherwise, the phone is incredibly customizable. Between themes, 'Go to' shortcuts and configurable menus, 4 months later I'm still tweaking it to my own needs.

The Nokia 7610 will set you back $399, and coupled with voice and Internet service plus Weblog hosting, instant publishing doesn't come cheaply. But it sure is a fun way to archive and publish your digital memory.

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Previously on The Digital Journalist:

© Gina Trapani
Executive Producer

Gina Trapani is a freelance writer, programmer and web producer. While she's not producing the newest issue of The Digital Journalist, she edits Lifehacker, a weblog about personal productivity, contributes to Laptop Magazine, impulsively writes software and documents her life with a cameraphone. Her personal web site is