Should you lock your cell phone?
This morning CTV had a brief story about how a woman’s stolen iPhone was recovered and how the thieves were arrested a few subway stops away. The story went on to talk about how consumers would be able to call in their IMEI and the phone would become “bricked” so criminals couldn’t use/sell it.
I’ve seen several similar reports in various news sources before. Sometimes I wonder if all this security is really helpful. What? Surely you jest Charles? Here’s the reasoning behind the thinking:
In the case of a physical attack or theft it seems like a sensible technology. The problem I have with the idea is lots of people lose their phones and think their phone has been stolen. In fact we see phones come in from organizations lost and found departments from time to time.
If we have a charger for the phone we attempt to charge the phone and return it to its owner. But that’s contingent on us being able to get into the phone and identify the owner.
Last month I was able to return a pretty nice Android phone to a student because he left his phone unlocked and I was able to identify him by the photo he’d took of his student card.
But we sometimes charge a phone only to discover it’s locked. There are a few phones that we can reset even with the lock enabled, but that wipes out the user’s information – not what we want to do! If I can I’d prefer we return phones to owners.
Bricking a phone only seems to make sense in situations where a phone contains really important information that needs to be private. The phone companies themselves really seem to be the main beneficiary of phone bricking, after all we’d need to buy a new phone to replace the bricked phone.
I also understand people who don’t want some stranger going through their cell phone contacts. So here’s an idea – make it possible to encrypt certain contacts, but leave others open (Apple if you use this you owe me big time).
Of course the real simple solution is just to leave your contact details on the back of your phone and make sure they’ll stand up to wear and tear (rain/heat/rubbing).
Consider that a dozen years ago cell phone users couldn’t lock their phones. It was all open for whomever had possession of a phone. We do a lot more with our phones these days, so it’s a hard call to say what the best course of action is. Lock or unlock, what’s your perspective?
About 3 months ago I took the plunge and bought a Blackberry 9780, aka Blackberry Bold, on a Wind Mobile unlimited plan. Good plan, after 3 months of use: okay phone. Under Ubuntu Linux the 9780 can act as a mass storage device or it can synchronize various items. I’ve only used the phone as a mass storage device, dumping a bunch of PDF files and some video I converted using Handbrake. The video worked fine, the PDF files were unreadable by the Blackberry Bold, which was strange since I’ve been able to read online PDF files before. The unreadable PDFs were editions of Full Circle Magazine, an Ubuntu-oriented magazine. The Twitter client which came with the 9780 works well enough that I prefer it over the popular Ubersocial app available in the Blackberry Store. What I couldn’t find was a decent statusnet/identi.ca client for the Blackberry. Quite a few identi.ca clients exist for other platforms, but the Blackberry just doesn’t have one (at least not in the Blackberry store).
A few others observed this on several Blackberry-related sites and on identi.ca itself. This is one of the problems with closed source. I’ve known about this problem for a long time, so why didn’t I just buy an Android? Laziness and instant gratification. I’d been waiting, thinking about buying a smart phone on the Wind network long before Wind came to town. When they arrived at the location closest to me they were completely sold out of every Android smart phone. Instead of waiting I took the plunge and bought a Blackberry, in part because I’ve had good experiences with Blackberrys and Linux in the past. Indeed, as an extension to my Linux devices it’s not bad. I’m not unhappy with it, but at the moment really feeling the identi.ca void.
For several months I’ve been looking at getting a cell phone, but I found deciding on the “right” cell phone was extremely difficult. Buying a cell phone isn’t just about the cell phone itself, but also the kind of service plan you get with it.
Being a Linux fan I had my heart set on an Android phone. The problem I ran into was that I just couldn’t get the right phone with the plan I wanted. After months of looking and waiting I finally settled on a Blackberry 9780 with Wind Mobile. What I wanted most was an “unlimited local calling plan.” Now I could have got this with an Android phone, if our location had any, or I could try ordering the phone online.
When it comes to service I always prefer working with someone I can walk into a store and ask (rather than on the phone). This turned out to be a great decision because almost right off the bat I had to go in and ask a few questions. (One of the problems I had turned out not to be Wind Mobile at all, but a problem with a friend’s VOIP ATA.). The service I got in the store was good (they didn’t tell me to call their technical service, they tried to help themselves).
As for the phone itself, it’s not the newest Blackberry Bold out there, but I’m really growing accustomed to it. I’m actually quite surprised at how much I like this phone. When considering the phone I remembered that Chris from NetDirect wrote the Berry software so I could synchronize my phone with Linux. But it may be unnecessary since I can also connect via Bluetooth. How long the Blackberry has to live is a good question, people are predicting RIM’s death every day. Personally, I think RIM can probably hold on long enough to engage the market again or at least to get bought out by someone else.
When I was looking for a cell phone I mentioned to one of the guys at Fido that I just couldn’t find the right cell phone with the right phone and his comment was that the Canadian cell phone market wasn’t the greatest. I’m bound to agree and appreciate the rep’s candor (Fido might not like it, but I do – honesty is important).