I usually carry a minimum of two handsets: A BlackBerry Bold and an iPhone 4. Between them, I have everything I generally need to run my businesses wherever I am.
When I’m on the train, I’ll often sit and use the iPhone and have the Bold in reserve — often sitting on my leg, or sometimes sitting on the empty seat next to me. Just for easy access. I know this is silly. I still do it.
“One of these days,” I tell myself, “I’m going to get up and walk out of the train carriage forgetting my BlackBerry.” Yeah.
The Here and Now
Let’s fast forward to this morning. I got on the train. I did some work on both phones. I got off the train at Waterloo Station, hopped on to the Waterloo & City Line and I was walking along the side of the Bank of England about 10 minutes later.
All was good. Until, that is, I thought, “Where is my BlackBerry?”
I bet you do this to, right? Now and again, you have to just check. Just in case. I patted my suit pocket. And then I broke out into the full where-is-my-phone pocket patting dance.
I *had* my iPhone. I couldn’t find my BlackBerry.
“I’ve been pickpocketed,” I thought, “The arses!” I exclaimed to myself.
And then I remembered that the BlackBerry I’m using right now is the 9780 — the all new (and still reasonably exclusive) BlackBerry Bold running OS 6.0 (it is brilliant, by the way). I’m testing the phone. It’s a tester unit from RIM.
That’s going to be at least £400 to replace. Add into the embarrassment of having to phone RIM and explain. Oh dear.
That’s when I realised: I must have left the phone on the train. I broke out into a sweat. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so stupid.
The adrenalin began to surge. I kid ye not. I began to develop a mild panic.
And then I remembered Smrtguard.
That’s not a typo.
Last night at about 1am in the morning, I was installing applications on the new Bold and thought I should see if BlackBerry Protect was available yet. Just in case I lost the phone. It’s not available yet. So I remembered Smrtguard from a RIM briefing a while ago — looked it up, installed it, activated and went to bed.
Smrtguard — as the name suggests — is a ‘smart’ guard for your BlackBerry or Android device offering data backup and device recovery facilities. Standing next to the Bank of England, I whipped out the iPhone and typed in Smrtguard.com. This took a few attempts because the phone’s auto-correct function really, really doesn’t like ‘Smrtguard’. And I had to manually disable the piece-of-rubbish ‘The Cloud’ WiFi service which kept on popping up and interrupting me. I’ve no trouble with The Cloud, but I want the whole thing to be seamless. Having to login every time I walk 100 paces is an area supposed to have ‘blanket WiFi coverage’ is highly frustrating.
I logged into Smrtguard wondering just how reliable the service would be.
I immediately clicked on the ‘Locate my phone’ option. A message appeared saying this instruction had been sent to my handset.
I began to calm a little.
Then I clicked on ‘Location’ to see where my phone was.
I got some GPS coordinates and a street name. I began to panic — had some arse picked up the phone and legged it? Assuming I’d left it on the train? If so, do I locate him? Do I go to where he is? Is he, right now trying to flog the 9780 in a pub somewhere near Waterloo?
I clicked into the location detail and browsed the Google Map.
It explained that my handset’s coverage was low (so it was probably inside or undercover). It also determined my handset was at Waterloo Station.
What A Difference 20 Seconds Makes
Phew! So the phone is *at* Waterloo. I’d determined this much. Excellent.
And then I realised the phone might still be on the train, where I left it. In which case, that train might leave any time.
I hopped into a taxi and raced to Waterloo, glued to my Smrtguard.com homepage watching for any movement. There was none. I also instructed the handset to lock itself via the Smrtguard service. I got email confirmation right-away.
At Waterloo Station, I ran to the group of platforms where I’d arrived just a few minutes ago, worrying that the train was moments away from leaving. In fact, I didn’t know if the train on Platform 16 was the same one. I didn’t know what carriage I’d been sitting in.
I spoke to the attendant by the security gates and he pointed me toward the red cleaning hut, half-way up Platform 16, “Check with them Sir!”
As I walked along the platform, I brought up Smrtguard.com again and tapped on the ‘audio ping’ button. This makes your phone start making a rather annoying alarm sound continuously to help find it. (I could also have instructed the phone to do a remote backup too.)
I arrived at the cleaning hut and knocked on the door.
BEEP BEEP BEEP
“Yes?” said a chap, popping his head out.
“Er, I left my phone on that train about 20 minutes ago,” I said, pointing to the train. I could hear a somewhat annoying ‘errrrp, errrp, errrp’ sound coming from within the hut. The chap glanced to his right involuntarily. I experienced a momentary blip of hope. The phone could very well still be on the train — which was due to leave in under 4 minutes. On the other hand, that COULD be my phone beeping away.
“What kind of phone?” the chap asked.
“BlackBerry Bold — black,” I replied, before chancing my arm, “It’s the one that’s beeping rather loudly.”
The chap shut the door for a moment.
“This it?” He said, holding it out.
I thanked the chap profusely. His colleagues came out to say hello. I thanked them too. I tried to give the cleaner who picked up the phone the £20 I had in my pocket as thanks. He wouldn’t accept it.
“Just doing my job Sir, very kind but no thank you!”
I tried to thrust the cash into this hand. But he was firm.
I thanked him again, the stress I’d been feeling evaporating quickly.
Smrtguard: It Really Works
Well then, I can’t tell you how delighted I am that I installed Smrtguard. I’m a MobileMe subscriber so I’ve got the ‘Find My iPhone’ functionality activated on the iPhone 4 (that’s come in handy a few times too) but I hadn’t bothered putting anything on the BlackBerry until last night. I’m so glad I did.
Now then, if your BlackBerry or Android device doesn’t already have something like this — I strongly recommend you take a bit of time and install Smrtguard or something similar. The basic Smrtguard service is free — you need to subscribe for the antivirus/data backup features.
Thank you Smrtguard!
[Note: To those who experienced this 'real time' with me via Twitter, I wrote this post on Monday 10th -- but only just published today. Just in case you were wondering]