I cursed Microsoft’s find Windows Phone feature yesterday, after my mom misplaced—okay, lost—her Nokia Lumia Icon. I knew GPS might be a bit inaccurate, but repeated attempts to locate the device put it inside a building, then in the parking lot, then somewhere else around the facility. Icon’s location bounced around, as every effort to lock it failed and the device frequently couldn’t be found.
But I wrongly faulted the tech. Turns out, Microsoft’s service accurately provided the locations. Mom’s Icon was on the move, something that wouldn’t be known for several hours later.
The story starts around mid-day Pacific Time, when mom called to tell me she had lost the Windows Phone, presumably at the hospital after undergoing outpatient surgery. She usually is protective of the Icon, but being woozy from anesthesia she got careless. When home, mom unpacked her purse, and the Icon turned out to be missing. Of course, she rang her mobile number, anticipating someone would answer—and she contacted the hospital hoping someone had turned in the smartphone. Failing on both counts, she called me for assistance.
Mom is the mother of bad timing. My daughter had come by with her MacBook Pro, so we could research music software (she eventually chose Apple’s Logic Pro). Returning home, she rang: “Is my laptop there?” Eh, no. Her computer had vanished, summoning the sinking feeling one of her roomies, or their friends, had swiped it when she lugged in food and a camera bag.
Two lost devices! At the same time! Geez. So I juggled my mom and daughter, phoning one and calling and texting the other. Occam’s Razor suggested that the MacBook Pro hid in plain sight rather than be stolen. By contrast, mom’s loss presented all kinds of problems, with her in a wheel chair not being able to easily return to hospital; then there is the distance between us (California and Vermont).
I rang her home phone and asked for her Outlook credentials, which I used to log into windowsphone.com and start to pinging the phone’s location. For the next hour or so, the site went from not locating the Icon to placing within or outside the hospital.
All the while, my daughter and I texted and talked. She searched her room several times and car twice. I started to think about absent-minded things people do. “Check in and around the refrigerator”, I texted. Hey, she brought home food. She replied: “Hah. I thought of that already. I looked earlier”.
As the afternoon searching proceeded, my sister, who also lives in Vermont, joined the chase. She knows the hospital and my mom’s habits better than I. Her involvement freed me to give shift attention to my daughter. “Check under your car”, I texted. A few minutes later, she phoned. Her laptop was on the convertible’s roof, which she missed in the dimly-lit garage.
Meanwhile, my sister had a breakthrough, by getting a clearer account of the loss from my mom and talking to the hospital’s on-duty security guard. The phone never left the recovery room bed and almost certainly got wrapped up in the linens. That explained why the phone moved around so much and sometimes couldn’t be locates.
The linens crew moved a cart from room to room, with the Icon inside. That also explained the perplexing jumps around the parking lot, after the device loaded up with the dirty laundry and moved with the vehicle to various pickup points.
By the time my sister and I next spoke, the Windows Phone was on the highway, moving north. She had called the laundry company, which informed that the load’s destination was somewhere in Canada. Oh, Canada! No! Not long later, the phone no longer could be tracked, presumably because it had crossed the border and wasn’t set to roam the foreign cell towers.
The laundry company will try to recover the Icon. As a precaution, I temporarily suspended the service out of concern data roaming might be enabled and could rack up serious charges. If the device survives, the linen truck returns to the hospital on Wednesday. Even if the phone is washed and ruined, return means something. I purchased the handset at Microsoft Store, which will give a replacement for $50 fee. Loss is another matter. The icon isn’t insured for such circumstance.
So my hope is that the Icon returns in some condition.
If only the device could selfie and share photos of the trip with mom.