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3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

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  • 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

    Dear All,

    This is a long one so grab a cup of coffee, about looking after your laptop in airports!!!

    I post this as a warning to you all and a reminder to myself not to be a dumbass. The events described are exactly as they happened and I am staggered at how truly lucky I really am.

    On Tuesday of this week, I flew from Miami to San Francisco and went through the usual security off, belt off, laptop out of bag, etc etc. As I travel a great deal with my work, this happens probably 50 times a year.

    Now I like many, use a Toshiba Satellite "Big Beasty" Laptop, 17" screen, all the bells and whistles, etc. This of course also has all my pictures, onboard rally videos from my last championship, business contacts, ArmA missions that I have built, etc etc etc, basically my life is on this thing!

    You get a sense of whats coming here! ;)

    So....I walk through the metal scanner, go to collect my small carry on case, pick up the laptop and put it in my bag, put on my shoes, belt etc and as I am doing so, I see this black guy with shoulder length dreads walking past me, looking round the floor, obviously he has lost something. Didnt think anymore of it and headed to my gate.

    I sat there for 45 minutes reading a paper and then got on my 6 hour flight to SFO, sandwiched in the middle seat, didnt sleep at all and arrived back at 7pm. The girly picked me up and we went back to mine, had dinner and she headed home.

    At around 11pm I decided to unpack my bag and get my laptop out. I placed it on my desk and tried to plug in my power cord and it wouldnt fit.....

    WTF? This lasted for around 30 seconds where I wondered if I had broken off the power cord plug in the unit...when it suddenly dawns on me.........................

    THIS IS NOT MY LAPTOP!!!!!!! Arhrghrghgrhgrhgrhghrghgrhghrghrghrghgrhrghg!!!!!! !

    The sweats start, the panic sets in, bile starts bubbling in my stomach, it is a nightmare feeling.....

    Then brain kicks in and forced calmness is required... OK, so I clearly picked up the wrong laptop at security. "What would be the chance of someone having equally the same heavy beast at that particular security line at that particular time!?!"

    So I decide to call TSA central control to get a number for Miami, the woman on the line was very helpful and gave me the number for Miami TSA lost and found, but it was now 1.30am and they were closed!!! Dammit....panic still in effect.

    So I think to turn on the Laptop and pray whoever owns it, does not have a password and that the battery has power. BINGO on both, so it powers up. There looking at me on the screen, is the very same guy who had walked back to the security line looking for something. (Hey I dont care at this point why he likes to look at himself everyday, but I am thankful he did. Also his MSN chat messenger pops up and there is his personal email address)...."Brilliant, now we are getting somewhere". So I send him an email from my cell phone urgently requesting he contact me as I have his laptop , apologetic, etc etc etc."

    At this time my brain is going....."My laptop is actually a model better than his, what if he has now got my laptop and has decided to keep it?" MORE PANIC......

    So his email address was a UK hotmail address, so I am now working out that he is likely to be a Brit, maybe he is getting on a flight back to the UK, or maybe he could be anywhere in the US and he just got off a UK flight?

    So I look into the computer to see if he has any contact information anywhere.

    NADA...ZIP, NEIN.... not a thing, no documents at all, only pictures, itunes music and this MSN chat programme which needed a password. No outlook, nothing.

    But wait..whats this....he has saved chat logs!?!? OK...a moment of real conscience comes here. I REALLY do not want to look into this guys chat logs but he has some from the 12th of January...just the day before this happened....but who knows what I may find. I sit and think about it for a moment and decide that I will only look at the Jan 12th logs, purely looking for a clue as to who or where he might be?

    RESULT!!!!!! Not only does that give me a couple of people extra to contact, one of which seems to be his auntie, but he also tells her that he is flying from Miami to JFK on American Airlines arriving early evening, then grabbing a flight to London at 9.35pm, but no airline or flight number for the London leg.

    It's not much, but it's enough for me to contact Amrican Airlines. It's now around 2.15am San Francisco time and fortunately American Airlines have a 24 hour contact line. I spoke with another helpful woman and asked if there was anyway she could check if there was an AA flight from JFK to London that left at 9.35pm? Sure enough there was....woooohoooo!

    "OK, is there anyway, we can get someone to meet that flight which was due to land in about an hour and a half?" She asks if I have the guys name, or phone number I say I dont, explain, the full situation to her and that all I have is his email address. But maybe someonecould hold up a sign for unloading passengers, saying "Have you lost a laptop in Miami?"

    She says she cannot contact anyone at the airline to do this, but try this BAA Heathrow contact number. So I call the London number and sure enough, the guy on the phone, said, I am sorry but we cannot do as your asking. It's just not possible....

    I am now thinking dammit..... IF...IF this guy has got my laptop, he might be on this flight..and this might be my last chance to get my laptop back, if he chooses to keep it????

    I know....I'll call my father... So being a Police liaison training detectives now, he was already in work (soon to retire) reasonably locally to Heathrow and I advised everything that happened. It was now about 30 minutes until the plane landed (which this guy might not even be on) and my father is 20 minutes drive away, but with immigration control, etc, he might make it. He agrees to go, so he asks me to take a picture with my cell phone of this guys photo from his desktop and to send it to his cell phone via MMS, so that he can recognize the guy. (He's a smart fella!) I do this and send a clear pic of the guy.

    I am now sitting at around at around 3.30am SFO time and he on the plane? will my father get there in time... does he have my laptop with my entire buiness on it, all my contacts, contracts templates, etc etc etc.?????????

    My phone suddenly's my father....
    "Here, I have someone to speak to you..........."
    "Hello....yeah hi, my names xxxxxx....your Dad says you have my computer?"

    The guy is really very cool and a nice guy and so thankful I have his laptop which he thought had been stolen. He had left it by mistake on the conveyer and when he went back he found mine and realised that it was slightly different and that maybe someone picked up the wrong one?

    Anyway, he filed a report with the police and tried to get the TSA to make an announcement about a toshiba laptop, but they wouldnt. They tried to power on my laptop to get my name, but I have a password, so they could not get into it, so it was put with TSA Lost and found with a case number.

    The relief at this point is incredible.....................

    So I finish talking to the guy and explain I will FedEx his Laptop straight away to him and all is good. I speak to my father again who says "You have no idea how lucky you are..... The FOG here is terrible and I was delayed on the roads, I literally walked into the terminal building as this guy was walking out of the arrivals hall...20 seconds later and I would have missed him". luck goes from the guy having a picture on his laptop, for me to recognise who he might be and able to send a photo of him for ID purposes, his email address and chat logs as a starter to find him, a lucky guess that he was on the American Airlines flight to London, and fortune that not only could my father get to the airport but could actually get there in time to get the guy as he stepped out of arrivals.

    The next two days, involve time zones, confirmation that Miami does in fact have my laptop and then providing photo id's as authorisations to send my laptop to me in SF via FedEx and for me to agree to send his laptop to him in the UK. Once all this was sorted, yesterday I sent his laptop to him in the UK which will arrive on Monday ($230!!!! shipping fee) then this laptop arrives safe and well on a next day delivery .....!!!!!!!!!!!

    ONE LUCKY S.O.B!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    So....lessons from this experience.....
    1: Check your belongings when at security in airports......
    2: Mark Laptop with a contact number if lost.....
    3: Pull head out of butt when traveling.....

    But most importantly.....


    It was a true rollercoaster and one which I never wish to repeat...hopefully none of you have to go through a similar thing.

    Now....back to making my latest mission for ArmA!!!!!!!!!!


    "What we do in life... echoes in eternity!"

  • #2
    Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

    Wow that's called Luck...

    Seriously if it were not for the shipping charge (ouch) this would be a 'they all lived happily ever after' kind of story. I'm glad you got your laptop back, and for doing the right thing and going out of your way to return the mistaken PC.

    +1 rep for a great story...

    ~ Draken


    • #3
      Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

      Thanks mate, the relief to have it back is huge! So I knew what the other guy must also have been going through. Family pictures etc are very important to all of us.


      "What we do in life... echoes in eternity!"


      • #4
        Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!



        • #5
          Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

          BD. you really lucky~~~~


          • #6
            Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

            Dude......WOW. Lucky guy! :)


            • #7
              Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

              Well you're lucky. You still have a working laptop.

              Mine chose to broke on Saturday. Now im left without a laptop and school starts next week. On monday I'll have to call the **** DELL tech-support...i still have 2 years of warranty left and I dont like the idea of having to send it back to the service depot for maintenance.

              Note to myself. Never buy a sh*t DELL product. My screen broke only 5 months after I've bought it (screen was turning black at random and was coming back on after)...

              At first I thought it was a driver issue and lived with it saying "Well...must be the drivers. Will be fixed when I format" So Saturday I thought I'd format it to get it clean for the new semester...and it was surely NOT a driver issue since my screen won't work anymore.

              Last time I'm buying DELL crap. Next one is a Sony VAIO.

              -- I always wanted TG to be different than anyone else out there. We need to be unique in what we offer and how we play, if not we are simply competing with everyone else. --
              The BigC


              • #8
                Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

                That's a great story... lady luck was smiling on you, although you did you fair share of the work!
                |TG-88th| DaddyOfThree


                • #9
                  Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

                  Originally posted by Blackdog1-22 Reg.SAS View Post
                  Lucky story
                  All I'll say is, this:

                  We pay $50 bucks a year for this, and have actually needed to recover files from their servers and it was no sweat at all. Their backup server acts as a virtual drive or folder on your PC, so you just need to navigate to it and select the files you want to move to your PC. It takes a couple weeks to back up all your stuff if you have a lot (we backed up over 50GB of data, and it took about 3 weeks), but it is totally worth it.

                  We also back up to an external HDD, but that doesn't protect you from natural disaster, fire, coffee spills, etc...
                  "No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country.
                  He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country."

                  - Attributed to General George Patton, Jr.


                  • #10
                    Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!


                    If you have a hotmail live account, log in, hit the "more" tab and select skydrive. 25 GB of free storage, that can be shared, or private, or whatever!


                    • #11
                      Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

                      Originally posted by Blackdog1-22 Reg.SAS View Post
                      Wow. Glad you got your laptop back, but don't pay more at Best Buy just to be treated like a criminal. Mozy is a fantastic service that quite a few TG members are using. I'm backing up two computers with them and I have nothing but good things to say about them.

                      If you do choose to get an external HDD, check out these options:



                      Become a supporting member!
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                      TacticalGamer TX LAN/BBQ Veteran:


                      • #12
                        Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

                        Thanks fellas for the tips, Mozy seems a good idea. Appreciate the heads up.


                        "What we do in life... echoes in eternity!"


                        • #13
                          Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

                          wow you are one lucky SOB
                          |TG-31st| WarPig1292


                          • #14
                            Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

                            Excellent detective work! Congratulations on getting your lappy back!
                            "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire


                            • #15
                              Re: 3 Days of Lost laptop Hell!!!!!!!!

                              Wow, that's one scary story. I'm glad you got your laptop back. And good thinking on your part in tracing down the fellow! I would have probably curled up in a corner and cried.

                              And yes, backing up is important! My family uses the Apple time capsule to automatically back up our macs every hour. Very useful for mac users who always forget about backing up.




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