I had the misfortune to become a crime victim last week. En route to Amsterdam for a conference, my laptop bag, containing laptop, train tickets, house keys, car keys, reading glasses and assorted other paraphernalia, was stolen whilst waiting for a train in Brussels. I had just arrived from London via Eurostar and had some time to kill before my Thalys connection to Amsterdam, so I sat in a relatively quiet waiting area of the station with a view of the departures board. After a few minutes a guy came and sat just along from me, on my left. My laptop bag was alongside me on the right. The guy leaned across, pointing to a piece of paper in his hand, asking about a train to Aachen. It took a moment to establish that we had a language incompatibility, whereupon he walked off, up the steps to the nearest platform. When I turned back, the laptop back had gone. It took a moment for it to sink in, but while I was being distracted, the guy’s accomplice had walked off with the laptop bag. I reported the theft to the police immediately and then set about completing the journey.
The immediate consequences were the loss of train tickets (of the ‘print at home’ variety), and the loss of my presentation slides for the workshop I was due to facilitate at the conference. Fortunately, just before arriving in Brussels, the Thalys train service had sent me a text message with details of my booking, coach and seat number. This, coupled with a copy of the police report, was sufficient for me to continue the journey, and to get home! The Thalys service also offered free WiFi, so it was possible to deal with one or two less urgent matters by email from my iPhone. Fortunately, I had loaded the presentation material on my website the previous day, so I was able to retrieve the file and conduct the workshop in a relatively seamless manner.
The laptop was a MacBook Pro. I wouldn’t say I’m the greatest fan of Apple, despite being an Apple user, but I am seriously impressed with the way things went when I got home. I bought a replacement Macbook Pro, switched it on and it asked me which language I wanted to use, and then asked if I wanted to restore a backup (I had already connected the external drive). I said ‘yes’, and the ‘restore’ process kicked in. It took over 3 hrs, but at the end of that time, the new Macbook looked and worked identically to the old one. I’ve not had to search for application disks, download anything, install anything else, or configure anything!!!
So, some lessons for next time;
- Try to remain physically attached to the laptop bag in public areas.
- Load all travel and other required documents on to a website, or a web service (i.e. DropBox)
- Back up the laptop – thank goodness it was a Mac; I think I would still be sorting out the mess if it had been a Microsoft machine.