“Is there a time traveling portal in your dashboard?”
April 20, 2017 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Alex Tom took his car to the shop because its airbag had been recalled. But the tech found something odd in the airbag compartment: a smartphone, locked and stuck in January 2015. Tom, naturally, posted about it on social media, and eventually found the owner thanks to a dating app.
posted by Etrigan (26 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
That was a fun read.
posted by INFJ at 10:42 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


It's always nice to see people using their internet-sleuthing skills for good instead of doxxing.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:57 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


It was a fun read. Nice for a work afternoon.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:57 AM on April 20


Yup.

As for the date question, it makes perfect sense that a phone, long depleted of battery power, would revert to 1/1 as it's date when powered back on - at least if it couldn't make contact with a network (which it wouldn't if in airplane mode). My guess is that date and time showing on the screen were from when the phone received enough power to start tracking time again (which will have been from before the time the phone was switched on again).
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 10:58 AM on April 20


It was less than three years ago. How do you not remember someone actually named "Sully" who was in your car only that long ago, once you find out the phone belongs to someone named "Sully"?
posted by yhbc at 11:00 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


Answering one of the remaining mysteries: I don't think the phone reset to January 2015. I think it must have reset to January 1970, the beginning of Unix system time. January 3rd 1970 is indeed a Saturday.
posted by muddgirl at 11:05 AM on April 20 [17 favorites]


It was less than three years ago. How do you not remember someone actually named "Sully" who was in your car only that long ago, once you find out the phone belongs to someone named "Sully"?

I went to a bachelorette party 3 years ago and I could not name all the participants, even the ones I spoke to extensively. But hopefully an facebook extended-friend search would have jogged my memory.
posted by muddgirl at 11:06 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


I like the Subaru guy's sock-in-the-washer analogy - "Two go in but only one comes out." It's Laundrydome.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:09 AM on April 20 [7 favorites]


For starters, what is that photo on the lock screen? Why is it so blurry?

I see nobody at HuffPo ever tried to take a photo with a camera with sub par low-light performance and/or zoom with no stabilization, because that looks a lot of my garbage photos from festivals.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:15 AM on April 20


It's Laundrydome.

Make that 'Launderdome' and a chain (sic) of heavy metal themed laundromats catering specifically to the vanlife crowd begins to spread in my mind's eye across an only minimally dystopian near-future America.
posted by jamjam at 11:20 AM on April 20 [6 favorites]


TIL that Coffee Meets Bagel is not a twee bagelery. Pro-tip: the glove compartment is out of sight which is better than leaving things out in plain sight but is very much not secure or even very obscure, even the "lockable" ones.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:27 AM on April 20 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't it be Launderdöme?
posted by kevinbelt at 11:29 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


Came for the amusing iPhone story, stayed and had my mind blown by the sock revelation.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:41 AM on April 20 [4 favorites]


(hm, according to Wikipedia, iOS uses January 2001, which doesn't fit Satuday Jan 3rd pattern as well).
posted by muddgirl at 12:01 PM on April 20


I see nobody at HuffPo ever tried to take a photo with a camera with sub par low-light performance and/or zoom with no stabilization, because that looks a lot of my garbage photos from festivals.

yes...but why would sully make a blurry photo his lock screen?
posted by double bubble at 12:02 PM on April 20


Bonus: Subaru ALSO provides a convincing explanation of why your socks go missing in the wash. Amazing!
posted by chrominance at 12:23 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


I think it must have reset to January 1970, the beginning of Unix system time. January 3rd 1970 is indeed a Saturday.

Oh, that's intriguing, if that were the case it might trigger the iOS 1970 bricking bug (previously on MetaFilter), depending on which version of iOS it was on.

hm, according to Wikipedia, iOS uses January 2001, which doesn't fit Satuday Jan 3rd pattern as well

Or maybe not.

I was going to suggest, if we knew what version of iOS the phone had, and someone had a phone with that version they were willing to risk bricking, you could test it by setting the phone to airplane mode, let the battery run all the way down, and see what date it resets to after you charge and boot it.

But apparently phones (and many other electronic devices) have a separate power source just for the internal clock, a very small battery, often built right into the chip, or a supercapacitor, precisely for such situations. So it's not just a matter of leaving the phone for a day or two to run down the regular battery to test it.

Which led me to wonder how long that would last — is it possible the clock's power source lasted for 6+ months and finally did give out on January 3, 2015? If so, would that information be stuck in flash memory somewhere and even accessible to the phone once it was recharged? Also, that wouldn't seem to explain the phone being bricked.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:10 PM on April 20


(hm, according to Wikipedia, iOS uses January 2001, which doesn't fit Satuday Jan 3rd pattern as well).

iOS, due to its heritage from OS X and UNIX, uses two different reference dates: 1 Jan 1970 and 1 Jan 2001. Devices running older versions of iOS absolutely do reset to 1970 – I just booted up a phone running iOS 8 and the date is 31 Dec 1969. The latest versions of iOS may fall back to the 2001 date because of an issue with the 1970 date.
posted by bonje at 1:11 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]


Also, for the technically minded: 1 Jan 2001 is the reference date/epoch for NSDate. 2001 was the year of the first public release of OS X, so the frameworks use that as a logical reference point instead of 1970.
posted by bonje at 1:15 PM on April 20


This story makes me happy because people worked together and figured it out and were nice to each other. It also makes me want to do more multi-day outdoor activities where my phone goes into airplane mode. And go to concerts and take blurry action photos that I love because they remind me of concerts where I loved the music and had a good time.
posted by brainwane at 1:17 PM on April 20 [5 favorites]


I just booted up a phone running iOS 8 and the date is 31 Dec 1969.

Tentatively, mystery solved then? The few-days difference in dates could be due to the phone charging for a few days.
posted by muddgirl at 1:21 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]


but why would sully make a blurry photo his lock screen?

Same reason mine is an underexposed blurry pic of 2.5 of my then-3 kids because the blond one couldn't be arsed to stay on the couch on a Christmas morning: The memory of that moment is one I like revisiting as often as I can.
posted by Etrigan at 1:26 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


Shouldn't it be Launderdöme?

I guess I still hold out a small hope that our ineluctably deracinated immediate future will actually be de-race-inated.
posted by jamjam at 1:30 PM on April 20


I'm still unclear where there is a cell-phone eating space in Subaru's dashboards.

I once got my phone stuck deep in the underseat air vent of a BMW. The vent was perfectly positioned and sized to trap cell phones; apparently they started adding a grate on later models. It took forever to even figure out it was down there, because who suspects their phone is beneath the floor of the car, but after calling it a few dozen times, I eventually heard it buzzing in the vent. Cue a couple of hours of futile efforts with a coathanger and various adhesives, along with a number of discussions about what disassembling the air conditioning system would involve.

Eventually, I turned to Uncle Google, and discovered this wasn't such a unique problem. And the solution was simple: find a big ass hill without any traffic; go downhill at speed; and slam on the breaks as hard as possible. Sure enough, I soon had a headache, and my phone popped right out.
posted by zachlipton at 3:39 PM on April 20 [6 favorites]


In my expert opinion, I feel that if Mefites were charged w/solving this case, it would have been resolved even quicker!
posted by honey badger at 4:29 AM on April 21


Make that 'Launderdome' and a chain (sic) of heavy metal themed laundromats catering specifically to the vanlife crowd begins to spread in my mind's eye across an only minimally dystopian near-future America.

Listen all! This is the truth of it. Fighting leads to killing, and killing gets to warring. And that was damn near the death of us all. Look at us now! Busted up, and everyone talking about hard rain! But we've learned, by the dust of them all... Laundertown learned. Now, when clothes get to fighting, it happens here! And it finishes here! Two socks enter; one sock leaves.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:37 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]


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