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Spillikins 140. How To Avoid Theft and Retrieve Your Phone

I have had a one crazy week. I will not be talking about Steve Jobs here I have already dedicated an article to him.

Legend by the name of Steve Jobs

Besides the loss of Apples founder the week was full of other events like the HTC Sensation XL presentation in London which left me completely baffled. What is this thing and why HTC needed it in the first place? Why the HTC style was mixed with the typically American style pair of headphones? I have many questions I would like to find answers to about this phone. I dont like to say but HTC might be losing it even the name Sensation XL is at least bizarre.

HTC Sensation XL. The presentation and first impressions


  1. How I got My Phones Nicked Ways to Secure, Find and Block Your Phone
  2. Galaxy Note: New Type of Devices
  3. Sony Wants to Control Sony Ericsson
  4. iPhone 4s: First Orders and Siri Voice Controls
  5. Announcement of Android 4.0 and Nexus Prime are Postponed

How I got My Phones Nicked Ways to Secure, Find and Block Your Phone

I had a hectic week and thats why on that Friday night I was rushing through the office of a web newspaper. I took off my jacket with two phones before going in and when I retuned I found it there but not exactly where I left it. At first, I did not pay attention to this there were many people going in and out, mostly people I have been working with for a long time. But when I got into my car and reached into the pocket I found I had two phones missing. I knew they could not just fall out since the pockets close very tightly. One of the phones had no SIM but the other one had one and I could track it down it was about 30 kilometers away from the office. I suppose the guy simply took them home. After a while the phone ceased to send any info. But I know that sooner or later it will reappear in cell networks again and I will be able to track it. Most likely I will find them in hands of people whi had nothing to do with the theft but I am sure I will get my phones back. Why the thief did not turn the phones down immediately I cannot fathom may be he did not know that phones are completely traceable or just lacked common sense. Anyway, I am driving to the topic of this issue how to avoid phone thefts and what to do when you cannot find your mobile.

Step One The New Phone

When you buy a new shiny phone the last thing you think about is that you can lose it or it can be stolen from you. This was the first time I lost a phone for over twenty years I have been using mobiles and I have had literally thousands of them. And like me most people do not take a lot of precautions to avoid unpleasant experiences.

So, the first thing you need to do is to put down the IMEI of your phone. You can find it on the package box or by dialing *#06#. The police will need this identification number in order to find your phone. The Samsung Galaxy Note prototype that has been stolen from had the following IMEI 358784040037730. All right, this is the first thing to do to secure your phone now lets talk about all the others.

Many people use the screen or phone blocking feature. For example, graphic keys are popular on Android smartphones you draw something and the phone unlocks. This is good if you want to protect your personal data, SMS and contacts. But in this case you do not allow someone who found your lost phone to return it to you. It is extremely hard to find the phones owner when the phone is blocked. You will have to call the carrier and provide the SIM number and most people do not know that and stop trying to return it.

In this case you can try putting a sticker on the back of the battery panel with a number you can be contacted when you lose the phone. You can promise a reward, $50 will be enough. Such a sticker will greatly increase the chances of your phone finding its way back to you. And people are happy to return a found phone much more often than you probably think. Unfortunately, this will not work for Apple iPhone since it does not have a removable back panel but if you use a case you can put your second phone number on it. This is a simple trick that can help you get your phone back.

Step Two 20 Minutes for Extra Protection

Lets go through some ways to protect your phone and your data. Depending on your phone and its operating system you can install a number of applications that can allow you to remotely block your phone, display a certain message on its display or just tell you where it is situated and what SIMs it has been using. On regular phone the number of such apps depends solely on the manufacturer. For example, Samsung offers the Mobile Tracker app for their regular phones it can send an SMS to a number of specified numbers whenever a new SIM is inserted into the phone. Unfortunately, you cannot get the phones location. As for smartphones the number of such apps is very great but they have similar functionality. They can block the phone, erase all the data remotely, display the phones current coordinates on the map and tell you SIM cards numbers. Unless the person who finds/steals your phone resets the phone you can find it by means of such apps. And as a rule, most people do not know how to reset a phone and use it as is. So the chances of finding your phone might be higher than you think.

I recommend always using the features that manufacturers offer for their devices like Apples MobileMe for iPhone 4 that allows you to track your iPhone. HTC also offers a similar feature for latest HTC smartphones. These are the easiest and most reliable software means.

On the day my phones were stolen I for some mysterious reason remembered the Preyproject and installed it on my new Macbook but did not have the time to install it on the phones someone distracted me. This service is free of charge and it can keep track of both your phones and laptops. There arent a lot of features for cell phones while it allows you to see what webpages were visited from your laptop, make snapshots with the web camera or block your laptop. The video below illustrates the basic features and the sign up procedure.

Prey Project introduction from Carlos Yaconi on Vimeo.

The Preyproject is not very convenient for use with phones as you will have to send an SMS to your lost phone with the code phrase. This will not be possible if the thief removes the SIM card, besides, the default code GO PREY must be entered exactly like that in upper case but you can make up your own. So its not so good for mobiles while it is still pretty cool for laptops.

It does not matter what app you use and how many security features you enable if you do not really understand how they work. So I strongly recommend to read carefully the description before using any of them or you may end erasing all the data from your phone. You cannot just install and forget about them you need to remember how they work to use them when its needed.

What To Do If You Lost Your Phone Anyway

Firstly, dont panic. Try to remember where you could leave it. Before turning to the Police you need to follow this simple procedure.

Block the SIM. If your phone is not responding to calls block the SIM immediately you will only need to call your carriers support service.

Collect as much data as you can by means of the security apps you have installed. Many apps can tack the phone even without the SIM if Wi-Fi is on. Save all these data especially information on the SIMs used in your phone.

Change the passwords for the services you have been using on your phones. Twitter, Facebook etc. change all the passwords associated with your phone just to be on the safe side.

Even if you know who exactly stole your phone it is generally not a good idea to try and deal with them personally let the police do their work. Provide all the data you have from the tracking software to the police to make their job easier and depending on how much work they have they will find your phone by means of the carriers help who will provide info on the current location of the phone.

Many people who buy stolen phones dont realize that the phone they purchased remains legally in property of the rightful owner and can me expropriated anytime by the Police. And if you buy a stolen phone you may even be charged with theft and you will have no proof whatsoever what you did not do it. So you will lose the money you spent on the phone if not be subpoenaed. Remember that the only legal proof of ownership of a cell phone is the bill from the store. The law is the law and saving a few bucks in this case is a bad idea.

Instead of conclusion I want to provide the statistics of the number of phone thefts in Russia about 2 million handsets stolen in just 2011. Below you see a link to an interview with a phone thief (in Russian) I took three years ago and it is still very much relevant.

Interview with a phone thief

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Galaxy Note: New Type of Devices

One of the phones stolen was Samsung Galaxy Note. Unfortunately, I lost 4 days of work pictures of artists I asked to use the model and tap into its potential and notes from meetings. That is why do not wait for my pictures and videos. When I get the next sample I will write a full review. So far read first impressions of Artem Lutfullin.

IFA 2011. Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look

I was interested in this carbon copy of Galaxy S2, which impresses with its huge 5.3″ screen. The phone is convenient to watch video on or work with notes. The model features an S-Pen to draw and take notes. The company aspired to emulate the effect of Moleskine and they managed to succeed.

The stylus is compact and can be used immediately after you take it out. Application with notes is located in the shortcuts bar, while the screen boasts a lined page to write or draw. Samples saved on such pages differ a lot from real life performance. They are benchmarks after all.

To a certain extent the gadget replaces a regular notebook. It has the same size and input feelings. The only difference is that it is more convenient to jot down in the notebook as you dont have to adjust to the screen. You cannot write too quickly, because the phone is slow to follow your instructions. You need to make a compromise. Apart from that the model has no special features. Samsung highlights the unusual status of the phone by its new index N7000. This new type of device is bigger than a smartphone, but is still behind tablets.

Many will not treat it as a notebook, but if correctly positioned the model can be attractive for artistic types. You can sketch and send the image via e-mail or MMS to another gadget, which compensates for the lack of detail. On the other hand this gadget will be unlikely used for engineering drawing.

A 2500 mAh battery fuelled immense expectations on my behalf, because when I use Galaxy S2 only 4-5 hours of operation are possible on one charge. I was not disappointed and enjoyed 24 hours of operation. If you are careful it will be possible to achieve 2 days of stable performance. It is a ground breaking parameter these days. On the downside we get a large size. Note is not as convenient in this respect as Galaxy S2, which is big enough for me. Fans of large gadgets must be happy and I am sure that Note will be popular. Its main attraction is for people who draw or like writing down thoughts in notebooks. This segment of customers should be intrigued. Thats all I can say at the moment.

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Sony Wants to Control Sony Ericsson

According to WSJ Sony is planning to buy 50% of Ericsson shares in the joint venture by the end of the year for 1.3 - 1.7 billion Euros. Both companies declined to comment, but I am sure that the deal is on, because Sony Ericsson is going bust despite all attempts to cover it up. Several years ago managers from Sony won in the internal Sony Ericsson feud, which led to the down fall of the company. These are the same people, who advocate inventory accounting models used by Sony Ericsson today. At the start of 2012 the data from the audit will show discrepancy of 30% with figures provided by Sony Ericsson. That is why the transaction must take place as soon as possible. Ericsson has no interest in the joint venture as there is no rescue plan for the enterprise.

What does it mean for a 10 year old manufacturer? If Ericsson sells its share Sony Ericsson will no longer remain a separate and independent company and only the Sony brand name will grace its products. It is not the end of the world, but Sony showed its incapacity to offer competitive Android solutions. The company pays more attention to additional apps and design at the expense of technical parameters. Subsequently, Sony cannot perform well in the market as it misses all legitimate targets. Sony believes that if they develop phones, tablets and games consoles in-house they will achieve better synergy. I think it is a utopia, because these are three different markets requiring separate approaches starting from design and ending with promotion. Sony is not aware of it.

If the deal goes ahead then within 2 or 3 years the company will either disappear or its market share will be negligible (even today Sony Ericsson boasts no more than 2% with falling sales and without any hope for survival). Its a pity, but Sony Ericsson history is coming to an end. SE fans are not numerous, because its record and reputation are things of the past.

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iPhone 4s: First Orders and Siri Voice Controls

The announcement of the new iPhone left many disappointed. Surprisingly, some claim that this product will start the decline of Apple, because the latest iPhone has nothing special. Historically, every next iPhone model becomes more popular than its predecessor. Moreover, iPhone 4s has a parallel to iPhone 3Gs. At the time many people were skeptical as well. The camera was slightly improved and the processor was faster, but sales were high. The same repeats with iPhone 4s. First orders from AT&T reached 200,000 within one week. It is not a record, but the figure is still impressive, that is why iPhone 4s will do fine despite any possible criticism.

I have a completely different approach towards enthusiasm around Siri voice control. It looks as if people never used this technology in other models and the Apple effect produced an impression of revelation. It is difficult to judge how it will work until we get first reviews of Siri.

The idea is simple. Instead of giving commands to the phone (e.g. call a particular number) you can simply speak with it. For example, just say I want to view the page and the appropriate webpage will be opened in the browser. Enter an SMS and send it with the help of the voice controls and so on. It sounds fantastic, because we know that the quality of modern devices is far from ideal in this respect. I have one good and one bad news. The positive one means that in future many models will support natural communication. On the downside we have to wait for several years until we get good results. Siri is just the first step, but it is not the best technology possible. The idea behind Siri is simple, but it is unlikely to work. Other companies are struggling in similar directions and invest much time and money, but cannot boast successful products. May be they cannot rival Apple, but this is not true. Google views this area as one of its priorities, and it has not made a breakthrough yet. SMS and other related features are dealt properly though.

Apart from Google there are several other companies in this segment. We know about certain technologies, for example Vlingo used in Samsung phones for the text input. The technology is not popular, because many users ignore voice dialing at all. They have negative experience in the past and do not bother to try again. Voice dialing and control need a simple technology like Siri, when you say something and the phone follows your instructions. The number of mistakes must be limited, but Siri is far from ideal now.

We can use another analogy here. 10 years ago search engines invested heavily into the natural queries language. Now we enter separate terms and do not use standard sentences while searching. People adjust their utterances to work with machines. There is a chance that with voice controls we will not have to adapt to gadgets. Siri has a nice concept and the whole market segment is following the trend. I have reservations as to the implementation though.

iPhone 4S:

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Announcement of Android 4.0 and Nexus Prime are Postponed

After tragic news of last week Google and Samsung decided to postpone the new Android and the flagship solution from October 11 to October 27. Presentations will take place in several places simultaneously. I do not know what the real reason is, but it looks that Google and Samsung want to target Nokia, which on that day will show three WP7 smartphones at Nokia World in London. Each of three models will lose out to Nexus Prime and by showing those phones on the same date Google will highlight its supremacy. Was the date chosen by chance? I do not believe in such coincidences. Nokia is a good victim for rivals, but it cannot retaliate at all.

Prior to the announcement of Prime related videos and interface screenshots appeared online. One video is showing the interface, but there is nothing interesting here.

The most impatient can download two apps from Android 4.0 (later to be available for earlier Android versions) Google+ 2.x and Google Music 4.0.1. Google Music received new controls and slightly changed interface, but there is nothing revolutionary here.

Source: www.androidpolice.com

Interestingly, but in the second version Messenger was renamed as Chord. The interface is marginally different.

Source: www.androidpolice.com

The app can be downloaded via links at the bottom of the page.

We can already say that Android 4.0 is all about performance, speed, stability and slight changes in the interface. May be we will be surprised at the end of October and will see more critical innovations. I would like to believe it.

Additional reading:

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Related links

Spillikins 137. Windows 8 for Tablets: Obvious Flop

Spillikins 138. Angry Birds and Some Coffee Can Cause Quite a Stir

Spillikins No 139. Meltemi from Nokia

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
Twitter    Livejournal
Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net), Robert Mugattarov (mugattarov@gmail.com)

Published — 16 October 2011

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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