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January 30, 2012 / steve8

Lost and Found: a log

0h25 on 1/28/2012: I step out of a taxi in Higienópolis in Sao Paulo to catch a late-night film…
note: SP has a metro population of 19.9 million humans.
0h26 on 1/28/2012: We realize the shopping center with the cinema is already closed, ruining our movie plans…
note: It’s raining, because that’s what it does in SP
0h27 on 1/28/2012: I realize my mobile phone (galaxy nexus) which I had in the cab, is no longer with me.
note: A Galaxy Nexus costs ~R$2000 ~= US$1140 here in Brasil
0h28 on 1/28/2012: I asked my friend about a cabbie lost and found with the police, but her semi-smile tells me all I need to know… Even if there was one, and the cabbie was an honest guy, why would he hand anything over to the police?
note: no one here seems to trust the police.
0h30 on 1/28/2012: Thinking positively, I take stock of what I know… the driver spoke portuguese and the cab was white..
note: almost all cabs in SP are white.
0h35 on 1/28/2012: Not really knowing where we were, I realized the address of my apartment is known only to the internet and my mobile phone… But I know which metro station I’m near, so at least i can grab a taxi and get home!
note: I can not even come close to pronouncing or spelling “Anhangabaú” in a manner comprehendible to a cabbie.
0h40 on 1/28/2012: I realize my friend could simply call my number, and the driver or passenger would hear it ringing and pick it up and we could arrange for a quick return!
0h45 on 1/28/2012: No Answer after a few calls… and I remember my ringer is usually on silent.
note: I don’t know about a cabbie, but the salary of a bus driver in brasil is ~R$1000/month so to the right buyer, it could be 2 months salary.
0h47 on 1/28/2012: I remember I just set up a pin number/lock for the phone, so it’ll seem useless at first glance by a would be finder/thief.
0h49 on 1/28/2012: depressed/defeated, we find a cab and my friend is able to tell the cabbie what metro stop to take me to.
0h50 on 1/28/2012: I optimistically think the finder might eventually look through the phone and contact someone in my contact-list to return the phone.
0h51 on 1/28/2012: I remember I just set up a pin number/lock for the phone.
1h00 on 1/28/2012: I get home, feeling defeated, and think about my options for getting some mobile device, and how long I’d wanna stay in one of the largest cities on earth without gps/maps telling me how to get places, how to find things, what bus to get, where to get it, and when to get off…etc.
note: SP has 1908 bus lines.
1h15 on 1/28/2012: I think the best case, is that the phone is like under the driver’s seat, un-noticed, so its not that the finder is ignoring possibly audible ringing of calls. Or maybe if a passenger saw it, they would be less likely to need money, and they might feel like being a good samaritan, and would answer a call eventually… or maybe they could get my email from the lock-screen… Worst case would be the next passenger saw it, and decided to grab it, putting it in his/her pocket, and got off somewhere, basically even less trackable than the white cab.
note: it’s a waste of time to think about all the scenarios, but it was hard not to.
1h45 on 1/28/2012: I thought about finding the IMEI, but will any cellphone provider on earth block an IMEI, and how would i ever jump through all the hoops in a foreign language to make that happen… and even if i did, would it matter? If the phone stopped working, what would compel them to return it?
1h55 on 1/28/2012: I remembered google latitude.
note: Latitude tracks your location so you can share it with others in real-time.
1h58 on 1/28/2012: I see the most recent location for my phone is current.
2h00 on 1/28/2012: I turn on location history.
2h15 on 1/28/2012: It’s moving rapidly, probably still in the cab.
4h00 on 1/28/2012: It’s fun to watch, but is this helping me get my phone? :

12h00 on 1/28/2012: I open up my laptop to see a new datapoint obtained at 6AM:

Could it be that’s the cabbie going home after his shift? Would make sense, but the gps location from the phone was approximate, and had a large radius… so can’t be trusted too much.
12h00 on 1/29/2012: no calls have been answered to my phone, and i figure the battery doesn’t have much time till its out… and since its pin-locked, to get any use from it, the phone will be formatted, and my signal will be lost.
13h00 on 1/29/2012: I notice a few new datapoints on lattitude, some of them, with a very tiny radius… consistently pinpointing my phone to this place:

14h00 on 1/29/2012: I plan the 1hr trip to that location, and I start using a google translator to pen little signs in portuguese describing the details of the situation and that I’m offering a R$200 reward when it’s returned… I showed the text to a brasilian friend, who laughed and wrote up a proper message (sans auto-translator), but I have no printer here, and only used paper, so the result is still very crude:

[phone number of friend/contact removed from image]
15h00 on 1/29/2012: unable to navigate there without my gps/phone, I plan a trip where a taxi is the last leg, to that area,
15h05 on 1/29/2012: As I’m leaving, I realize I’m going to seem like a nut, unless they know why I’m asking them.. out of all the people in SP about my phone… So I re-enter my flat at use google-translate again and write a little note saying I have tracked the phone to this spot via gps.:

16h00: I arrive here :

only to find zero taxi’s parked in the open… one parked in a gated garage, but seemed different than my taxi. So I start asking random people in the street… rather showing them my paper with my crude Portuguese plea… hoping they might know something… One guy knew a bit of english, and kind of laughed at the hopelessness of my situation, and said ‘good luck’.
16h15 on 1/29/2012: I’m about half way through the block, when the guy who laughed at me called at me from a distance, apparently he knows someone with a taxi, who parks it at the exact corner that was pinpointed by latitude. So we went to the driver’s house and talked through an open window at the girls inside, and from the tone I can tell there is some amazement/excitement… The driver was asleep but a few girls came out, one with my phone in hand, no worse for ware. She hands me the phone, I thank everyone involve, and hand her a couple hundred reais. As the girls went back inside, laughing… I thanked the guy who connected me with them, and tried to hand him R$50, he refused, and helped me find my way back to the metro.
18h00 on 1/29/2012: My phone (and I) are back home:

12h00 on 1/30/2012: I start searching the internet for ways to superglew my mobile phone to my body.
note: only sorta joking.

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