Monday, July 06, 2009

The Mysterious Case of the Lost Laptop

Person A was walking in Kiryat Yovel (a neighborhood of Jerusalem) when she saw what she thought was a DVD player on top of a car. She remembered that her daughter, Person B, was looking to buy a DVD player. Woman A took the DVD player off of the car, and brought it to person B. [1]

Person B said, "That's not a DVD player, that's a laptop computer". She opened it and saw a login name: Howard Adelman. She Googled the name and found no Howard Adelman's that could have sensibly left or lost a laptop in Kiryat Yovel.

She then handed the laptop over to a tech guy cousin, Person C. Person C uncoupled the hard disk and brought up the contents on another computer. Person C discovered my wife's resume on the disk and gave the telephone number to Person B. Person B called the number.

Yes, my friends: Person B called us to tell us that my wife's laptop, stolen out of our apt two weeks ago, was found in relatively working condition (the DVD player button is broken) and still juiced on top of a car in Kiryat Yovel.

But the mysteries only deepen from there.

Howard Adelman is the login name my wife uses, having acquired the laptop from her father. But the old password didn't work. None of the few passwords Rachel uses worked. A little scratching of our heads and I decided to try some common default passwords used in Israel. 1234? Nope. 12345? Yes.

I was in. But, Rachel's account had been changed from an Administrator account to a limited account. And we had no password for the Administrator account (a few obvious choices - 1234, abcd1234, admin - didn't work). I Googled admin password recovery on XP and found a few solutions. And my blogger friend Mischa pointed out another one that looked like the simplest.

We created what was essentially a stripped down Linux boot disk with a registry editor and user fixer program on a CD and rebooted onto the CD. We ran the program. When we saw the list of user names, there was a new Administrator user: "shir". A new admin user with no password. Shir is a common Hebrew first name, by the way.

Rather than reset the password, we rebooted and tried logging in as "shir". Voila. After some housekeeping, Rachel was ready to work.

Who's Shir? The thief? I'm guessing Shir is Person C. I don't know what he was trying to do, though.

But there's more.

At the beginning of this week, I tried to buy a new laptop for Rachel, but the company (Tiger Direct) charges an extra fee for credit cards or Paypal accounts with out of US addresses. To avoid this charge, I asked Mischa for a big favor: take my money and buy the laptop for me. He waited until the money cleared Paypal and went into his account; that took about four days.

Just as he was about to buy the laptop, we realized that we needed the receipt in Rachel's name, so that she could claim the complete insurance payout on the loss (strange, but true). So there was another delay as Mischa tried to discover if it was possible for him to buy the laptop but have the bill made out to Rachel. Turns out he couldn't. So he returned the money to me. I got it a few hours after receiving the call from Person B.

So the week's delay saved us from buying another laptop.

I already received partial payment for the laptop from insurance. Now we have to call the insurance and tell them we got back one of our laptops, slightly damaged. I wonder what their policy is for this?

And what happened to my laptop? I wonder.


[1] At least, that's the story as it was relayed to me; I may be missing or confusing some details.


meowsqueak said...

In my limited experience (I may be wrong or it may be different for you) once you lodge a claim with an insurance company, the lost item is now technically theirs. So if you recover the item, it now belongs to the insurance company, not you, and you may have to surrender it.

However one would hope that common sense might prevail here.

Anonymous said...

Just went home with a DVD player found on top of someone else's car?

David Klein said...

Awwww, come ON already. What sort of a lousy plot line is that. Noone who reads the story will believe it for a second. When you write fiction, you have to keep things plausible or your readers will just ignore you.

Avraham Grief said...

That's an amazing story. Glad Rachel got her laptop back.