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At one point or another, all of us have lost one or more things close to us. The stress and distress caused by the misplacement of an iPhone, or Android or indeed a digital camera is all too familiar for a geek. Thankfully, technology has got pretty smart, and leaves digital footprints which can be traced and tracked to help you find your gear that bit quicker. Here are a couple of apps and websites worth bookmarking for when you lose your stuff.
Stolen Camera Finder
Stolen Camera finder is a java application which runs on Google’s app engine platform. Cleverly it scrapes Flickr and uses a Chrome extension to compile a database of photos and serial numbers of the cameras which took them. Thanks to EXIF data stored in the photo, when you drag and drop a photo with your serial number embedded in it, stolen camera finder can find other photos across the web taken by the same camera, potentially findng the culprit. Developed by Matt Burns, the project is completely open source, and you can download the source and contribute by growing the database.
PlanB – find your Android Phone
PlanB is an application which allows you to locate your Android phone after you’ve lost it. Once it is installed, Plan B will automatically start and send your phone’s location to your Gmail address. To have it resend the location again, you can text the word “locate” to your lost phone every ten minutes. To install the application, you will need access to the Android marketplace, but it will download and install remotely. After you install it, Plan B will start locating your phone using cell towers and GPS. On some devices, Plan B can switch GPS on automatically.
It is an invaluable piece of software for not only finding lost phones, but lost people as well. For missing persons, providing you have access to their Google account – PlanB can be installed to their phone remotely, perhaps giving vital information on their last movements.
For those of you on iPhone platforms, Undercover allows you to remotely remotely launch its application on stolen iPhone in order to track the thief’s location – thanks to its clever use of push notifications.
Every time the Undercover application is launched, the phone’s location and IP information is stored online in your Undercover web account.
Undercover also comes in handy when you have lost your iPhone: as soon as you set a specific message for the finder, the phone will ring and Undercover will display the alert on top of any application that might be running. When the finder views the message, Undercover will transmit your phone’s location. It provides a cost effective alternative to MobileMe, which is Apple’s own product, but comes at a fraction of the cost ($5) from the Apple store. A native iPad version is also now available.
Prey – Track your stolen laptop
The Prey project is an Open source application which helps you locate your missing laptop by sending a whole bunch of information which identifies its location. It’s available on all platforms, including Android, Apple Mac, Windows and Linux, and iPhone and iPad versions are currently being worked on.
Prey provides the general status of the computer when it is activated via its unique remote activation system, including a list of running programs and active connections, fully-detailed network and wifi information, a screenshot of the running desktop and – in case your laptop has an integrated webcam – a picture of the thief. Geoinformation is gleamed from WIFI hotspots to help determine location.
Information is sent to your Preycontrol panel or directly to your email, all without the knowledge of the thief.