Siri-usly?

What did we do before cell phones and the Internet? Even now, I’m writing this on my iPhone 4s. This is my second iPhone. I’ve become something of an apple fan boy. Over the past 7 years I’ve owned 3 different iPods, two iPhones, an iMac, and two MacBooks. There is a camp out there who believe that apple products are overrated and over priced. I’ll admit, you do pay a premium for that apple logo. My new iPhone ran me $400. Worth it? Yup, every penny.

Over the past month and a half I’ve been working on an indie film in Concord NC. I could write a novel about the things that happened on this show. It was the busiest and craziest that I have ever been. I was getting three hours max of sleep a night. By the third week of production I was full blown delirious. Our production office was at the Home Towne Suites hotel in Concord and one night, as I was wrapping things up for the evening my MacBook pro went missing. I remembered having it my messenger bag at the hotel and then putting it in the back of my car and then running back inside to grab something. When I got back to my apartment in Charlotte my bag was nowhere to be found. Being as out of it and sleep deprived as I was I thought that I had just left it at the office. I called one of my crew who was still there and had them search around for it, but it was not there. At that point I started to panic. There wasn’t many other places where it could be. I started to entertain the possibility of my bag being stolen. I searched everywhere that night, but came up empty.

The next day all I could think about was how screwed I was. Not only was my $2,500 dollar computer gone, but also my petty cash bag with receipts and money, along with a few other things. I called my insurance company to discuss my options but I hadn’t gone as far as to file a police report. I didn’t really have much to go on, and as tired as I was, I couldn’t really remember what I had actually done with it. I was still hoping that I might have misplaced it. I got the idea to ask the hotel staff to review their security footage to see if someone had taken it, or if I had even had my bag on me in the first place. As the day progressed I got no answers. I did my best to retrace my steps in my head and I must have called the hotel a dozen times to see if they had discovered anything. As the day was coming to a close and we were packing it in my phone received the following message. “Glenn Peison’s MacBook Pro has been found”.

If you have the latest OS on your Mac or iPhone, might I suggest turning on the find my Mac or phone feature. If you have lost your iPhone you can log on to apple’s iCloud site and ask your phone to send you it’s location. I had activated this feature earlier in the day but unlike my phone my MacBook is not equipped with GPS. It requires a WIFI signal in order to give its position. Since I hadn’t received any notifications I figured that either the MacBook was off or not around wifi.

I was stunned when I saw the message. It meant that someone did indeed have my MacBook and was attempting to connect to a wifi source. I opened the link in the message and sure enough it gave me a location in small neighborhood in a neighboring city. At that point I knew it had been stolen. I was already halfway to the hotel at this point in the giant art department truck. My car was still back at the shooting location and I was working out a way to get it to me or me to it. Time was clearly of the essence though. I needed transportation stat, and something a little more discrete than an enterprise rent a truck. I ran into the production office and fortunately someone graciously let me borrow their car and I tore off to rescue my beloved computer. On the way I received another message. Whoever took my MacBook was using it, and what’s more, using it at the same location. I let my phone guide me to the location. The “location” was the stereotypical sketchy house. There were a half dozen cars parked on the lawn and people were constantly coming and going. I was sure that my MacBook was there. As luck would have it, there was a police officer parked in the adjacent bank parking lot. I tapped on his window and gave him the lowdown. It took a good amount of convincing on his part to keep me from running into that house right then there. He advised to me to just sit tight and let him make some calls. I returned to my borrowed car and did just that. My anxiety grew as I say there waiting. I just knew that my MacBook was there and now I was waiting on the “system”. I thought for sure that this whole matter would just get filed away and I would never see my computer again. I’ve watched law and order, I know police can’t just go barging into any house they like.

As I sat their steaming, another cruiser rolled into the parking lot, followed by another, and another. All told I think there were at least five. Curious. One of the officers approached me and I gave him the same story I gave the other. I showed him the app on my iPhone and explained that the only way my MacBook could have sent me the message is if it had been connected to wifi. I showed him the map. My phone had nailed it down to the exact house. He then huddled up with the other officers. Something was up. Usually this type of incident just ends up in a file drawer but here I was on the scene with a half dozen very excited officers.

By this time a crowd had gathered on the front porch of the sketchy house. I assume they all thought they were watching someone get busted. It turns out they were right. As all five of the officers made their way towards the house I think they quickly became aware that it wasn’t me. I watched the scene unfold from afar. Two officers were questioning some of the people on the porch. The other three began moving from car to parked car on the front lawn and driveway. One officer paused for a moment at a large SUV shinning his light in back area and peering inside. I saw him click his light off and begin walking at more than a brisk pace back to me. As he approached the apparent owner of the SUV moved towards the car and started to climb in the drivers side. Another officer prevented him from leaving. I stepped out of my car and the officer asked me if my computer had been in a bag. I told him it had and I described the bag to him. He then escorted me over to the SUV, where the owner, a rather large individual, was going on about how he was late for something or other and had to leave. The officer shined his light inside the car and sure enough, there was my bag sitting in plain view. Without a seconds hesitation they spun the guy around and started reading the him his rights. It was surreal.

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The officers told me go wait back by my car, but I had to get in one little dig before I left so as I walked away I turned around flashed my phone to the guy and simply said “don’t mess with my iPhone bro”.

I did a silly little dance in the parking lot and chalked one up for the good guys. It was great and completely unbelievable. I never thought it would actually work. Wifi location triangulation isn’t guaranteed to be exact. I thought it would give me the rough whereabouts of my computer. I didn’t expect to nail it down to the exact house.

I gave a little grin and salute to the now stunned crowd on the front porch as I drove off to the station to pick up my precious. I actually got to speak to the thief and it turns out the dude has a rap sheet the length of a marathon. It kind of dawned on me then why I got the entire police force to come out and help me. They wanted to nail this guy, they just needed cause, and I gave them that. I actually have to appear in court in a few weeks and give some sort of testimony. I thought about doing it through FaceTime on my
iPhone just to rub it in his face a little bit more.

It turns out that he did actually erase pretty much everything on my hard drive. He wasn’t the fastest of processors though, clearly, and rather than format the hard drive and wipe everything he emptied out individual folders. Very annoying, especially since I had not done a time machine backup anytime soon. All of my info for the show I was on was gone, as well as a host of other personal files. My petty cash bag and receipts were also long gone, which caused all sorts of problems. But I had my computer back. I could manage the rest. I also had a look at what he was doing online.

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Really? You steal my $2,500 dollar laptop and the first thing you do with it is tried to get laid on the cheap? Really? Oh and sorry bro, it can be tracked.

So, the next time someone asks me if apple is worth the money, my answer will be APPSolutely.

My deepest thanks to the Kannapolis Police Department, my
iPhone, Siri, and Steve Jobs. Thank you for providing the world with wondrous pieces of tech and for making me feel like I need every single one of them.

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~ by glennikin on December 2, 2011.

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