Janna is currently in Iowa visiting her mother.  I miss her heaps, and I am happy to help whenever the call for assistance arrives from the Midwest into my Google Voice Inbox via SMS.  Janna has her iPad with her and her creaky, water-soaked-and-barely-usable, iPhone 3G.  Her 3GS was stolen.  We skipped the iPhone 4 in indignant principle.  We will move up the iPhone 4S or 5 or whatever it will be when it is announced.

Janna can really only do SMS on her iPhone because that’s the only App that runs because a seltzer bottle exploded in her bag.  24 hours in a gas oven with only the pilot light on worked wonders because, eventually, the phone was at least able to turn on again and do text.

Here’s the SMS text she sent me from Iowa using her iPad:

 Find out where my iPhone is. It is either at moms home or at kmart. If kmart I will go get it. Been organizing stuff and when I do that, I can’t find things.

I logged into her Mobile Me account and used the “Find My iPhone” feature to try to pin down the location of her iPhone.

Because her iPad is newer and faster and has better GPS than her iPhone 3G, the results for the iPad popped up first.  I was shocked at the accuracy of Find My iPhone because the pinpoint location of that iPad was EXACTLY in her former bedroom where she was using her iPad to SMS me via Google Voice.  Not the kitchen or the living room — her bedroom:

Then the results for the iPhone 3G became available.  I could see it was in the same location as her iPad.  That was good news.  Her iPhone wasn’t at K-Mart.  It was nearby, and I told her so:

Looks like the phone is in the same place as your iPad. I sent a message to the phone and it should make a PINGing sound for 2 minutes to help find it.

Janna is Deaf, but her entire family is Hearing, so they could help with the PINGing sonar to help locate the phone.

Waiting for her to reply sent me back to the live images of her iPad and iPhone 3G locations.  The iPhone, because it is older and more awful than the iPad, doesn’t have as good of a GPS locator.  That’s why you see a large blue circle around the “location” of the phone and you don’t see that circle on the results for the iPad.  The blue circle gives you a general radius of where the iPhone just might be.  In the past, I’ve found the pinpoint precision to be pretty good on older iPhones using Find My iPhone, but I understand Apple needs the blue circle wiggle room.

As I more closely examined the map results for her iPhone, I saw the iPhone was not precisely next to the iPad inside her house.  It looked like it was just outside near the garage.  I decided to SMS her my discovery:

Looks like the phone might be outside? Or in the backyard or car or garage? It doesn’t look right inside the house on the map like the iPad.

In a few minutes she replied:

Found it

I was overjoyed that Find My iPhone worked from afar so well:

Great! Was it inside our outside?

One last SMS, and then she was gone:

Outside car.

Find My iPhone worked great from 1,500 miles apart!  Janna knew she had a way to find her lost iPhone and I was delighted the discovery process worked so well and did not disappoint.  If you don’t have the Find My iPhone App on your iPad and iPhone, install it now — you never quite know who you can help or when you’ll need it yourself.


    1. It was a great triumph of technology, Gordon! I’m so glad the phone was near her. Having to go to K-Mart or somewhere else might have quickly become an unruly experience.

  1. David that is simply amazing! The most amazing bit for me is the slow cooking of the iPhone in the oven to repair it.

    Your experience raises for me many questions, risks and possibilities associated with how GPS and location identification is used. Your situation is possible here in Europe but with a multitude of legal documents to be signed first regarding privacy and data sharing by users. Simply put, if you use the “find my phone” function for yourself is fine but since you used your wife’s account and thus a “find my wife’s” phone it is in Europe “electronic surveillance” and without signed approval, illegal. Your case is obviously logical and happily succussful but what stops others from doing the same, for example of their spouses, and even noting down to detail which location such as the bedroom etc. I find this all very legally stimulating, but I am sure for you rather boring, please excuse this rant.

    I actually use a RIM Blackbery and their new Pad which is ideal for my legal work and my Pad has enough memory to have the entire Summary of British Law on it. Incidently, both Britain and Spain blocks the “find my phone” function for those very reasons and I am told iPhone/iPad is the same case.

    D Charles QC

    1. Hello uglyfringe!

      Yes, slow cooking usually works wonders for any sort of electronic device that gets wet. A gas oven with only the pilot light active creates a secure, dry, warm, environment. You can also put a wet iPhone in a bunch of uncooked rice. The rice will suck out the moisture. The oven is faster, but if you don’t have a gas oven, then the rice will work in 3-4 days.

      Oh, I find privacy issue fascinating as well and that is one reason why I started writing the Panopticonic blog. We had a writer from the UK who wrote 10 articles for us right when we started. His name is Jamie Grace:


      I was only able to login to my wife’s account because she gave me the credentials to do so. Without her giving me the info, I would not have been able to login to Find my iPhone. If she had been of clearer mind, she could’ve used her iPad to do all this herself from Iowa, but sometimes, in the rapture of despair, it’s easier to ask for more neutral help. SMILE!

      There’s a new App that I find fascinating called “Footprints” that lets you track people in real time over a long period of time. Those being “footprinted” have to grant permission for others to “find them” — but once that is done, you can follow them throughout their day:


      Here’s an older review of mine you might enjoy concerning a “track me” feature offered by AT&T before there was “Find my iPhone.” It was perfect for parents to help keep tabs on their kids:


  2. Thanks for the link David, I am truelly amazed about the rice and still about the oven.

    The “footprint” for me sounds great for the perpetual tweeter tribe. I am, frankly, to old and low-tech for all of that. Mind you with all the legal material now on the web or in electronic format, I am pretty proud of my own set-up. I have been given permission now by most Judges in Spain to allow my Pad as a work-tool during sessions. Unfortunately, the Crown Courts do not (as yet) allow it.


    Damien Charles QC

    1. It’s amazing what is and is not allowed when it comes to electronic communication in court.

      In the USA, we’re making a major push into paperless offices. Bankruptcies and similar legal matters are now required by the court system to be filed electronically. Paper is out. In a few years our taxes will be e-file only. No paper returns allowed! California has a records law taking effect that all medical records must be electronic and not paper — and that includes x-rays and CT scans and the like. I guess the reasoning is paper is slow and hard to search and manage and store. Electronic is faster in every way. I just hope they have a good backup system in place.

    1. That’s a great link! I believe you can also soak a wet phone in a 99% isopropyl bath for awhile and then take it out and let it air dry for a few days. The alcohol replaces the water and then evaporates. That resurrection process is faster than simple air/oven drying.

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