Saturday, February 7, 2015

Lost And Found

My first love is gadget. The more I buy them, the more happy I am. This could be for good or bad but that's what makes me happy! But this is not about anything geeky I bought  but its more about a common gadget that everyone owns these days and very much part of our day to day life. - "The Smartphone"

I own a Nexus 4. There is a story behind buying it too. I was waiting for Nexus 7 2013 to release and Google kept playing with my emotions by extending their release date every now and then. During this "emotional atyachaar", the Nexus 5 was preparing to be launched and Google reduced the cost of Nexus 4. My friend wanted a Nexus device and he told me to buy one. I bought the Nexus 4 not thinking I would even care for it because I aimed at Nexus 7. But one look of the black beauty and the monster in me just didn't allow me to give it my friend. I became the enemy to my own friend [ I don't know if I can use the word "friend" anymore :) ] and called him and said "You are not getting this, I own it". My friend should have known this already. Order anything through me but not any gadget. There is always a risk attached. Thus starts the story of me and my phone.

Having said all that, its now 1 and 1/2 year old relationship with my phone. I am very happy with my phone. I happily upgraded it to Android 5.0 and really didn't feel the need for a new phone. Then I traveled to US and I had to de-activate my SIM for all reasons of not wanting to get charged for international roaming. Maybe that's all the reasons I could give for taking it everywhere I went even when it was not activated.

And one Saturday, of all the wildest things I thought of, this idea came down onto me to go visit a nearby casino. Lets call it  "Mystery World Casino". There was a casino shuttle bus everyday at 11 am from my place. I boarded it on Saturday morning with 4 other friends of mine and we happily traveled and reach the casino by around 12-12:30pm. Had lunch, played, lost money and by around 5 pm, my excitement died down. I wanted to take rest but my friends were so immersed in the game that they weren't willing to return back, so I decided to return back alone. I boarded the bus back and I got down at my place by around 6:30 pm. I started walking home when I realized half way that my Nexus is not in my pocket anymore!

I ran back behind the bus but the bus was beyond my reach. I panicked. The next thing I could do was to search my belongings again..maybe its still there. No, it wasnt!

I called up the Mystery World. They connected me to their "Lost and Found" department, which never got answered. I left a voice message expecting them to call back. They didnt! I then went to my room and checked Whatsapp and Viber last seen. It was in the afternoon when I had connected it last.

I had all my data backed up and my phone was locked. But I couldn't call it up because it had an inactive SIM. My only option was to wait for the phone to connect to any WiFi network! The wait was long..

I called up the casino again. They gave me the security's number. The security connected me to the bus service. Their working hours for the day were over. I had to wait till Sunday morning. 

Saturday night was a long night. The Sherlock in me came to the rising. I had to change all the passwords of all the possible accounts. Having so used to that phone for everything, I even took it for granted to not remember most of the passwords since I had the phone with me. It became the usual place for anything I wanted to store, from a thought that just came randomly to a password. I was able to recover all the accounts. And this is where google dashboard came to my rescue.

For anyone who didn't know about google dashboard, its one place where you can view every detail of your gmail account activity. That could include your blogs,  mails, devices. The devices section was very useful to me. It had the IMEI number, last activity timestamp, location history, remote ringing of your phone, lock and display a message or on worst case -erase the data on the phone. The "Sherlock in me" deduced possibilities and made me do every possible option on the device including erase.

I waited for Sunday morning. The clock struck 8:30 am and I called up the bus service. They checked and informed me that they don't have the phone. I was sad! But I didn't lose hope. I asked my friend to join me to the bus which was bound to come at 11 am on that day. It was the same driver and she allowed me to search her bus. I searched to my heart's content but my heart was so depressed to be content. So the search on the bus ended but the search on my mind went on and on. Where  could it be?? 

"The Sherlock in me" had calculated all possibilities and every possibility was just closing with no happy results. I came back to my room and looked at the last seen status of viber, watsapp and google dashboard. All of them shocked me. The phone had come online at 9:55 am on Sunday.

I called up the casino. They filed a lost report in my behalf. I filed a report with police. The last thing I could was to wait for my phone to come online again. I sent innumerous rings and at last an erase data command one more time. All hopes died and I realized that Sherlock only exists in stories not in real life.

All my data was backed up but my biggest worry was that someone unknown now have access to a copy of my personal data.

Monday was not so eventful. No sign of the phone and everyone who knew about the incident consoled me saying its okay..Its just a phone. One friend of mine offered to put an advertisement in craiglist "lost and found". Friends and family were there all the time supporting me. Tuesday too wasn't much of a difference other than the last hope I had was to activate the Sim on the phone expecting it to be still on it and the phone might get switched on one day and I could call up the phone and check. Almost all the combinations were over and with not much hope, I called up the bus service again on Tuesday evening. As expected they said its not there. Then I called up the casino and ... They say they have a Nexus returned on Sunday. I was like "Are you sure? Is it black? Does it have a case? What color is it? What model is it?" My volcano of questions must have shocked the security person who then calmly asked me to come and check it for myself. So then my colleague offered to drive me there the next day after work and I reach the security and after 10 minutes..Bingo!!! Its my Nexus..my happiness..Safe in the security's hands.

Those were the moments that can't be put into words. But it was the most happiest, shocking, and overwhelming moments where I stood with mouth wide open, unable to believe, its actually ACTUALLY my phone!!

I strongly believe if you want something badly, the whole world conspires in getting you what you want. I felt it then! Against all odds..I got back the mobile. 

People say I am lucky. I had lost hope and trust on this world. I would say now, after all this, that there are still so many good people and I have not lost hope yet in people.

A big thank you to all of you who directly or indirectly helped me find my phone back!

I felt I should blog the experience. Sherlock is back on books and television. Dr.Watson is awake now.

The erase of the phone data worked the moment I connected to WiFi network. So did the remote rings which never stopped until data erase happened. I had all data backed up anyways. But Google doesn't inform you if the data is successfully erased or not. Google, you need to work on this. And once you login to your account, all the data is recovered including your wifi settings (this is good or bad, depends on individuals) I didnt want this to happen personally :-)

For those who want the technical details:
For Android users only :)
1) Install Android Device Manager on your phone. 
2) Keep your phone PIN protected and not pattern protected.
3) You could choose an application lock too as the second level security
4) Reduce the number of days for the offline gmail data on your phone.
5) Keep regular backups. If you tend to forget, set it up with google. Let them take care.
6) Strictly no confidential data!! Big NO!
7) Android 5.0 has encryption which can save you some stress until someone finds a way to crack it.