Last night my other half had a slight issue whilst driving — the car was stuck in one gear and making a strange noise. So she did the sensible thing and pulled over.
Trouble is, she didn’t quite know where she was.
‘Somewhere on the M4,’ she told me, rather panicked, ‘Just after the Wokingham turn off.’
‘Right,’ I said, flicking up Google Maps, ‘Can you see the turn off?’ I asked, staring at junction 10.
‘Ok, can you see anything. Any roads? Any signs.’
At this point I was doing the mental equivalent of slapping my head with frustration. If she had a Nokia E90, she could simply load up Google Maps and bish-bash-bosh, the system would have located her with a brilliant little flashing blue dot in seconds.
But no. She’s using a Nokia E61i. Arse.
‘Ok, got an idea,’ I said, flicking up Google and typing in some keywords to the effect of mobile, locate, LBS.
‘Right. I’m signing up with this location service. Standby. Respond to the text when you get it, ok? Then I’ll locate you and tell you where you are. Then we can go from there.’
‘OK,’ she said, shivvering down the phone at me. Arse.
The first site I found was ChildLocate. I quickly created an account and then tried to buy Â£5’s worth of credit. The site wouldn’t accept my Maestro (“Switch”) card. So I tried a credit card. Woosh. It worked.
I added Hetty’s number as ‘a child’…. And I waited.
I phoned her, ‘Listen, could you reply to the verification text?’ Obviously for data protection reasons, ChildLocate can’t just look up the location of anyone’s mobile. You have to explicitly opt-in.
‘I have!’ she tells me, perhaps through gritted teeth. I couldn’t tell.
I sat staring at the screen. I logged in and out of the service. I couldn’t locate her mobile because the system wouldn’t let me. It said it was ‘still waiting for verification’ from her.
‘It’s ok,’ she says, ‘Mum has arrived — they found me!’
So, excellent. That’s good. She safe and being transported home.
Meanwhile muggins here back at base with the technology — all the might of the UK mobile industry — was rendered less than helpful.
Not good at all.
I daresay there’s a reason why the ChildLocate system didn’t work as I expected it. I logged in a few times in the 5-10 minutes after this event and nada.
Even the online help was asleep:
I’m going to get her an E90.