While attending last January’s Macworld Expo, I managed to lose my 60GB iPod photo. While simultaneously answering questions after my iPod Super Session talk, packing my gear, and coordinating an interview with the next group to hit the stage, I failed to shove the iPod in my bag and, presumably, someone who should have been raised better pocketed the thing.
While it’s some consolation knowing that an eternity of hellfire will greet this light-fingered individual when they beat a retreat from this mortal coil, it’s still a bummer to lose $600 of gear (along with my favorite iPod case). It’s also a little bit creepy knowing that someone was peering at pictures of my family. Hopefully, that person was savvy enough to immediately erase the thing (after all, it’s just the tiniest bit embarrassing to be caught with someone else’s photos and music library on “your” iPod).
After the loss I determined to protect my other iPods should I be so feeble-minded in the future, With such protections in place I might have a better chance of recovering my iPod or, at least, protecting data I’ve stored on it. To that end, here’s what I’ve come up with:
As I write this, Apple offers free engraving (up to two lines, each containing up to 27 characters on fourth-generation iPods and iPod photos). While it’s cool enough to scrawl some sentiment on your iPod, it’s also practical as it’s tough to pretend that an iPod reading “I Belong to Chris Breen. Hands Off!” is the property of anyone but me.
If you’ve already purchased an iPod in unengraved form, a local jeweler will be happy to scrawl some identifying sentiment on its back.
offers a service that can assist in the recovery of stolen items such as cell phones, cameras, PDAs, computers, and music players. You protect your items by registering your gears’ serial numbers with the service. Should it be stolen and offered for sale somewhere, one need only grab the serial number of the device and check with the service to see if it’s stolen.
When I travel for business I often place data files on my iPod as a backup in case something on my laptop goes blooey. This is a swell idea unless those data files are particularly sensitive and fall into the wrong hands. Micromat offers a measure of protection for such data files with its $40
(Macintosh only). The idea is that PodLock creates an invisible password-protected partition where you can store your data. The program won’t secure your music and photo libraries and there’s nothing in it that can prevent someone from reformatting the iPod, but at least it can help prevent thieves from peering at documents that you’d prefer remained private.
Keep Your Hands On It
The toughest lesson I’ve learned from this experience is that I must be more vigilant about glomming onto the iPod. I depend on the kindness (and honesty) of strangers as much as the next guy, but one must accept the fact that the temptation of a free (though ill-gotten) iPod is hard to resist. Having a case with a solid belt clip is a good first step. Developing the habit of putting it in that case and checking same before taking a step away from wherever you are is vital for that first step to work.
Would heeding these points have kept my iPod safe from the clammy touch of a villainous soul? Possibly not. Despite taking these precautions a thief might have found a way to wrangle the thing away from me and escape detection.
But at least I could have walked away from the situation with some hope of recovery and the knowledge that I’d done my best. As it is, I’m out 600 smackers worth of gear and have nothing to show for it but the sense of being a careless nincompoop.