Skip

iPhone Thievery Gone Awry
June 23, 2009 1:46 PM   Subscribe

'Find My iPhone' in Action (via)

"Myself and two compadres, Ryan and Mark, are in Chicago (each of us for the first time) to attend Brickworld, the world's largest Lego convention. Yes we're a bunch of dorks. Yes you totally wish you were here too."

The mirell.org site has additional insight into the theft.

Gratuitous Lego Links. (The Brick Testament previously)
posted by cjorgensen (42 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:55 PM on June 23, 2009


Having lost my iPhone yesterday at jury duty and miraculously having it returned to me today, I am very, very interested in this application.
posted by kimdog at 1:58 PM on June 23, 2009


Fantastic story, thanks for posting this.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:02 PM on June 23, 2009


I don't have an iPhone to find, but I do remember a small tall-oney yellow piece of lego that somehow got stuck under the drain in the bathroom sink. I blamed my younger brother for putting it there. He lied, and my father said it was my fault and that I wasn't responsible for my Lego. I was fucking eight years old, Dad!

I love Lego.

Anyone got a tweezers, it might still be there...
posted by Elmore at 2:06 PM on June 23, 2009


From the article, he tells us that "It was a Puerto Rican neighborhood" in which his thieved iPhone was located. It may well have been, but why is this relevant to his story? The answer is, it is not. He could have told the whole story without that bit of information and it wouldn't have changed the outcome. So why add it other than to subtly play into rich white peoples prejudices... as in "heh, yeah, figures it would have been a minority that stole it."

Also... a Lego convention? Seriously?
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:09 PM on June 23, 2009


Ha. I used to live in that neighborhood. They are lucky they didn't get beaten.
posted by chillmost at 2:12 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Brown people are scary.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:13 PM on June 23, 2009


Effigy2000, from the article:
"- The references to race are for two purposes:
First, to be self-deprecating about how little we actually looked like a bad-ass iPhone tracking team;
Second, to establish how much we stood out in this particular neighborhood.
Besides a bit of self-mockery, I don't think I said or implied a single negative thing about anyone's race"
posted by dolface at 2:16 PM on June 23, 2009


Yeah, the race thing was pretty jarring. And he knows it, but he leaves it in, because he's a douche. His summation of that at the end is less than convincing:

- The references to race are for two purposes:
First, to be self-deprecating about how little we actually looked like a bad-ass iPhone tracking team;


Because white people are less bad-ass? So I guess Puerto Ricans are, what, more bad-ass? Exercise for the reader: what does the author seem to mean by 'bad-ass' in this instance?

Second, to establish how much we stood out in this particular neighborhood.

Stood out? Guys driving real slow with a laptop out, looking around suspiciously, are going to stand out in any neighborhood. What he means is that he was scared because he wasn't in a white neighborhood.
posted by gurple at 2:18 PM on June 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


If he had said, "since it seemed to be a puerto rican neighborhood we tried sending a message in spanish" that would have seemed normal and not racist. From the way it was said in the post, and rationalized in the note, it was clearly racial stereotyping on the part of the author.
posted by snofoam at 2:27 PM on June 23, 2009


I guess he could have just said he was in an impoverished, urban neighborhood full of hooligans and ne'er do wells and we would have all known what he meant and nobody would be pulling the race card.
posted by gagglezoomer at 2:28 PM on June 23, 2009 [6 favorites]


(Which is not to say it was malicious. Probably just ignorant.)
posted by snofoam at 2:28 PM on June 23, 2009


gurple - for clarification, they were walking around with their laptop open, not driving, so they would look pretty geeky (and probably stand out) wherever they were.

And this wasn't thievery gone awry, it was the retrieval of a stolen iPhone. "Gone awry" implies the thief bungled the attempt, or tried to swap the iPhone for something else in an Apple store where the victim was reporting his iPhone was stolen.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:31 PM on June 23, 2009


What are you saying, gagglezoomer? That "we" automatically assume poor, urban criminals are "ethnic?"

Personally, I would be really annoyed if people used my racial background as shorthand for criminal. I think it's totally legit to point out that this practice is lame. I think it is probably useful to point it out, since even in this day and age it seems that some people consider criticizing racism to be "pulling the race card."

(Apologies if I'm just misunderstanding what you meant by your comment.)
posted by snofoam at 2:37 PM on June 23, 2009


Well, the guy got his iPhone back, which is too bad, because he could clearly use some time apart from it (My phone's battery literally hung on until the second it was in my hand. I wuv you, iPhone). But he is having to deal with the whole race kerfuffle in the comments, so maybe he'll learn something there.

Actively racist he may or may not be, but he's inarguably a bad writer, since he can't avoid introducing a distracting, uncomfortable derail into his own story.
posted by gurple at 2:37 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was half hoping they would be jumped and lose the laptop and a few teeth, too. I wuff you, dentitht.
posted by pracowity at 2:46 PM on June 23, 2009


"Gone awry" implies the thief bungled the attempt

Not turning off the highly-publicized feature that allows for remote gps tracking of the phone is what I would consider "bungling the attempt."
posted by The World Famous at 2:46 PM on June 23, 2009


I read this story this morning. I'd read a few articles giving "Find my iPhone" some flack. Call me cynical but does anyone else think this guy was slid a free iphone and some cash to submit this on the internets?

oh and...

Metafilter: Brown People are Scary
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:47 PM on June 23, 2009


Great!
posted by blaneyphoto at 2:51 PM on June 23, 2009


My new iPhone has an awesome picture of my cat for wallpaper.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:53 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


snofoam - So let me explain my poorly worded comment. Yes, it was probably bad form for the lego-guy to note the neighborhood was puerto rican as short form for pointing out that he felt he was seriously out of his element. But (I assume this guy is a white guy with a middle class background) I think it would be disingenuous for anyone with a similar background, myself included, to say they would feel 100% the same running around in this particular downtown Chicago neighborhood with a laptop looking for their lost iphone than, say, a white suburb, especially if they weren't used to such an environment. I think we can all agree that racism sucks and it would be better if everyone just saw past color, but I don't think this guy was being racist for highlighting that this was an important, memorable and colorful (excuse this please) part of the story for him; he just did it in an inarticulate way. Also, for my own part, I've spent substantial time in neighborhoods that are 99% black/hispanic and the unease does ease (and also brings a little empathy for those who much more often find themselves in the reverse situation). But you know, even Jesse Jackson said he felt relieved when he saw the man who was behind him at night was white. Again, not saying the lego-guy's feelings/narrative should be normative, only just saying he (maybe) isn't "racist."
posted by gagglezoomer at 3:00 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember hearing on NPR sometime recently about how we really shouldn't judge people to be racist based on a passing comment, but should rather look within their hearts at the larger scope of their behavior and comments. Because, in our white-male dominated society, it's easy to be a "fish in water" and not realize that something someone said might carry overtones with it about which that person is not aware and does not participate in. Instead, it is a better ploy to guess, based on a passing reference, that someone has good and joy and love in their hearts and simply has never really poked their head up out of the lake of latent racism we all swim in every day.

Your milage may vary, but that is my philosophy since the day I heard that.
posted by hippybear at 3:01 PM on June 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


On second, thought, why did let myself make that first comment... You're right, this guy sucks.
posted by gagglezoomer at 3:03 PM on June 23, 2009


It's cool that the iphone has this feature, but it's bs that apple wants another $99/year to turn it on. The iphone already cost a small fortune and requires a monthly ransom to AT&T, why isn't a locator already included? The gps is there and the sync feature is there, at least partly (you can push emails and msft exchange data). There's no reason to charge extra for a kill-pill or locator, apple's just greedy. Palm pre offers the kill-pill, and the palm-pre is just about useless if it's not synced to a palm account. Apple should follow their lead on that one.
posted by ShadowCrash at 3:03 PM on June 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


ShadowCrash,

and Android has basically had this feature since launch...too bad the G1 looks like a remote control from the 80's
posted by Hands of Manos at 3:06 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hands of Manos, "Call me cynical but does anyone else think this guy was slid a free iphone and some cash to submit this on the internets?"

Like the mirell.org link points out, have you ever heard of Apple doing something like this? I don't think they exactly need to hype the iPhone, and I don't think they would risk getting caught doing something like that. And if they had, I am guessing their PR people would have vetted the post, and the racial stuff would have gone by the wayside.
posted by cjorgensen at 3:08 PM on June 23, 2009


cjorgensen,

probably so. It just sounded a little too good to be true. But what do I know? Sounds like a cool feature for sure. I was just thinking people were thinking "gosh, 99 bucks to find my phone...man, that's sounds like a lot on top of shelling out for the phone, the plan, the data and..."

then that article comes along "ZOMG!!1!! FIND MY PHONE FROM BROWN PEOPLE!"

You're probably right, I just kind of grimaced at the iHype (of course I say this as I posted an ask me question yesterday about how to jailbreak my 2g iphone to 3.0. So I'm subject to iHype, too.)
posted by Hands of Manos at 3:13 PM on June 23, 2009


From the article, he tells us that "It was a Puerto Rican neighborhood" in which his thieved iPhone was located. It may well have been, but why is this relevant to his story?

They were risking their lives, man!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:27 PM on June 23, 2009


I'm good friends with a guy who works with the gentleman who wrote this account of the stolen iPhone. My friend is Latino, and he seems to enjoy working with Mr. Intermittent Kevin, so I've no doubt he (Kevin) is not racist. But it's incredibly disappointing that he's unaware that three skinny white guys running around with a laptop are going to get stared at in any neighborhood. In fact, on Slashdot, a commenter who lives in the neighborhood and was there that night claims it's not truly a "Puerto Rican" neighborhood, and that there were plenty of other white people in the neighborhood on that evening; so the residents were likely staring at them because they were doing something strange.

Also, I grew up in a black neighborhood in high school. So did my girlfriend. Mine featured drug dealers in the parks, nightly gunfire and police helicopters. Hers featured 4 BR/3 Bath houses, kids who went to private schools and got cars on their 16th birthdays. You will never convince me that the majority of people imagine a location more like hers than mine when they read "black neighborhood," and I feel the same way about "Puerto Rican neighborhood."

It's really unfortunate that he marred an otherwise entertaining account of his adventure by including that particular description.
posted by lord_wolf at 3:29 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have "find my iphone" and tested it a little while ago, and it was a good 3 blocks off from my actual location.

Which is actually kinda odd, cause my phone's gps in the maps app at the same time was dead accurate.
posted by empath at 3:45 PM on June 23, 2009


It's cool that the iphone has this feature, but it's bs that apple wants another $99/year to turn it on.

To be fair, the $99 is for a subscription to MobileMe, which is basically a mac.com account (web hosting with WebDAV, email address@mac.com, etc.). Of course, as someone who hosts that stuff himself, I'd balk at paying $99 effectively for this feature alone. They're pretty smart tying this feature to all of those other services.
posted by kableh at 4:23 PM on June 23, 2009


I don't think they exactly need to hype the iPhone, and I don't think they would risk getting caught doing something like that. And if they had, I am guessing their PR people would have vetted the post, and the racial stuff would have gone by the wayside.

Or maybe they knew we'd guess that, and so they included the racial stuff.

Mmm, these beans are good.
posted by A dead Quaker at 5:13 PM on June 23, 2009


Loved that story! It's such a great feature, the Find-It thing. Turns ordinary nerds into crime-fighting-superheroes; it can't be all that bad.

I lived in Logan Square for about ten years. I watched it go from pretty dangerous (I frequently couldn't even get a cab to take me there from downtown, and I used to hear gunplay on a nightly basis) to seeing it clean up and become much more family-friendly. Seriously, chillmost is right. This guy's a bit lucky he did this in 2009, yo, and not in the mid- to late-90s, when I first moved there. A beatdown or a shooting would have actually been quite likely. Not because the 'hood is Hispanic, but because it was gang-ridden back then and economically shitty. It's cleaned up, but I think it's still basically the same racial-breakdown -- Mexican, Puerto Rican, White American, Polish American; not in any particular order. My friends who've remained there absolutely love it. It's super friendly these days, as it was before, but there are far fewer gangbangers.

I'm sure the neighbors were highly amused by seeing three nerds running around. It's commonplace there now, surely, but it's always funny to see that.
posted by heyho at 6:13 PM on June 23, 2009


It's cool that the iphone has this feature, but it's bs that apple wants another $99/year to turn it on.

Yeah, it's pretty stupid. Fortunately you can buy year subscriptions on ebay for ~$25, from people who buy "family packs" at wholesale (5 for $80) and split them up.
posted by blasdelf at 6:16 PM on June 23, 2009


Don't worry. I'm going to wish that bad, bad, racist man into the cornfield.
posted by digsrus at 7:03 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are lofts all over that area now. GENTRIFICATION, BABY.

He was in no danger.

I'm glad he got his phone back (and taking someone with him to actually confront the criminal personally was smart), but... What a weenie.
posted by sparkletone at 7:12 PM on June 23, 2009


digsrusn, no one's going to get that, but their lives will be poorer for it.

And I think it's funny that so much of this focused on race when it was an offhand comment.

Today I saw an Asian man, on an elevator, with his belt half way between his bellybutton and his breasts, and I found it highly amusing. Why do I point out that he was Asian and we were on an elevator? Well, the forced close proximity forced me to give him a little more scrutiny than I otherwise would have, and honestly, I'm used enough to white people doing this that it's really not that funny to me (and hasn't been since Jerry Lewis did it), so for sure it's not even worth noting if the guy's white. This make me a racist?

Yesterday I was driving behind this old guy going 60 in a 70 mph zone. I get mad at old people that can't drive the speed limit. Is this age discrimination? What about the kids that play music so loudly in their cars, that the bass distort in a most unpleasing fashion, and throw beer cans on my lawn? Kids these days!

It's not like the original was a piece written for the New Yorker. It was about a guy losing a phone writing up a quick blog post. He wrote it after having had the phone taken in a bad neighborhood. Just like I get mad and the loud kids, or the slow old people, he painted with a bit too wide of a stroke. I believe him when he said he meant noting by it.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:47 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think the real hitch with the MobileMe subscription is that while it's arguably worth it for an OSX user due to all the program integration and frippery, it seems really hard to justify $99/yr for a Windows user. This is probably the closest it comes to having a killer app for the Windows crowd. And I still wouldn't mind seeing AT&T take control of Find My iPhone and include it in the cost of your service, just the same. Ditto remote wipe, etc.
posted by Kyol at 9:19 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I still wouldn't mind seeing AT&T take control of Find My iPhone and include it in the cost of your service, just the same. Ditto remote wipe, etc.

This is AT&T we're talking about. By "include it in the cost of your service" you mean "charge an extra $10-$20 a month for this stuff."
posted by sparkletone at 11:06 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Tired of engaging in a high-maintenance nationwide economic conspiracy to keep iPhones out of the hands of filthy darkies and poors? NEW, IMPROVED iPhone rescues itself from their thieving grasp. Extra laptop required.
posted by damehex at 11:38 PM on June 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can get the MobileMe package for $73.49 at Amazon.

And if all you got was the find my phone feature, I'd call foul. But you 20 gigs of webspace, tight integration with your iApps, an email address (and 5? aliases), a nice webmail apps, and the ability to synch your contacts, calendars, and bookmarks across multiple machines.

I've been using it since it was free. I was more than irritated when they started charging for it, but they keep adding more to the service, without bumping the price.

I agree, probably not for Windows people, but it's not really aimed at Windows people. Who knows though. If they keep rolling out features like this that are not platform specific, maybe more people will want it.

You can replicate almost all of the features in MobileMe using other services, but in nearly every case I have found these options to be inferior. The one exception to this is dropbox (which if it had a free 20 gigs I would call superior).

And this is coming from someone savvy enough to have hosted domains with ftp and email set up on them. I'd probably pay the money to just keep the email address. It's the one address I have that hasn't changed in about a decade. My web projects come and go, as do the domains, same with the jobs I work. All my friends have my .mac address. It just works. And having an address that isn't hotmail or my current employer's is valuable to me (I use and like gmail as well).

And I never get spam from a .mac account. I have a rule that sends all hotmail directly to the trash, so that's a worthless service in my mind, and gmail is quickly getting there. If people have to pay a fee for an account, you don't see the spam generated from it that you do from the free services.

And the reliability can't be beat. I know there's irony there, and a bit of fanboyism, since when it was launched, and for the longest time it blew, but I haven't have a problem with it for over a year.

And if you are not savvy, the ability to put together photo albums, websites, etc. is just plain easy. If your grandma wants to get a site up and running, you can teach her to roll a CMS, or you can guy her a Mac and MobileMe.

Do I think it's expensive? Yes. Could it be better? Yes. Am I going to part with it anytime soon? No.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:57 AM on June 24, 2009


So where's the hack to make this work with any server, so I don't need to pay for stupid MobileMe?
posted by rokusan at 10:37 PM on June 24, 2009


« Older Our Band Could Be Your Comic   |   He'd rather have a buffalo... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post