Where did I meet you?

a vcard importer for AndroidOverview

A bit of Android code to add comments to contacts imported from vCards to remind you how you know the person behind the vCard.


Remember poken? (Actually, “remember” isn’t fair, because they’re still around. I’ve just not seen them in an age.)

If you don’t, they were key-fob-sized gadgets. When you met someone, you tapped your poken against theirs, and it would handle exchanging contact details. They were a geeky way to exchange business cards.

They suffered from a bootstrap problem, in that, finding anyone else with a poken to tap against often proved a challenge. But I digress…

What I loved about them was that it didn’t only store the contact details, but details about when you met.

The My problem

I’ve got about 600 contacts in my address book. It’d be fair to say that over half of those are people that I’ve met only once or twice, or people I’ve not seen in a few years.

I can’t remember how I know most of these people. I’ve collected all these contact details from people in a range of roles and companies, but that’s pretty useless if I can’t remember how I got them.

If I’m going to contact someone, it’s useful to be able to start with “Hi – We met last July at event blah in London, and got talking about blah…” before launching into what I want. Because that’s polite, right?

(As close to polite as you can get while asking a virtual stranger for something, at any rate.)

Or if I meet someone familiar at another event or conference, it’d be useful to be able to check some notes to jog my memory where I know them from.

A quick utility app

There is already a notes field in each contact in my address book. I’m just too lazy to fill it in.

That’s what was neat about the poken idea. They did that for you.

With that in mind, I spent a couple of hours playing with a bit of Android code to do something similar.

I’ve not done anything with NFC for now (it’d suffer from the same bootstrap problem as pokens themselves – too rare to be useful).

Instead, I focused on vCards, which is the main way that I get and share contact details with people.

When I try and open a vCard on my phone, it will launch my bit of code which will import it into my Contacts, adding to the Notes some metadata about when I met them (using the current date/time), where I met them (using the phone’s location services) and what I was doing when I met them (using the phone’s Calendar).


To be honest, I’m not sure how widely useful this little chunk of code will be, but I think it’ll be useful to me, and it was an excuse to try and wrangle data out of the Android calendar which I’d not done before. (Worth a blog post by itself, actually – it was a bit of a pain).

On the off-chance that it is useful, I’ve added it to the Android Market.

Next time I get a free evening, I might come back and try and do a more physical poken-like app using NFC, bump or something like that.

Random afterthought

I was thinking the same about twitter. I follow over 900 people. Every now and then I see someone in my timeline and can’t remember why I follow them. It’d be useful if I had some way to remind me when and how I came across someone, especially if it’s because I met them at a hackday or barcamp somewhere. But that’s a problem for another night…

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2 Responses to “Where did I meet you?”

  1. This is a technology I’ve always thought would be very useful for me, with the addition of some realtime facial recognition. It took me a long time to notice I’m a little bit rubbish at recognising and remembering people’s faces, so having something that could tell me if I know people through different routes.