Oklahoma Farmer Loses iPhone in Grain, Gets It Back From Japan

As hard as may be to believe in these days of rampant iPhone thefts, sometimes lost iPhones make their way back to their owners through sheer human goodness alone. Take the case of Kevin Whitney, a farmer in Chickasha, Oklahoma. As Gizmodo reports, Whitney lost his phone in a grain pit last October and he got it back after it made its way to the other side of the world.

Whitney accidentally dropped his phone in the grain pit, and gave it up for lost after it shot up into a container with 280,000 pounds of grain soon after. Nine months later, he got a call from a grain worker in Japan asking if he'd lost a phone inside 2 million bushels of grain sorghum.


Source: KFOR via Gizmodo

"It’s crazy — I can’t believe it," Whitney said in an interview with KFOR, a news channel in Oklahoma City. "What really shocked me about it all was what a small world it is. There a lot of a lot of meaningful pictures on it so we are real glad to get the phone back."

The phone's total trip included a drive from his farm to a facility in Inola, Oklahoma, where it then traveled by barge down the Arkansas River and down the Mississippi. The grain was then loaded on a ship in Covent, Louisiana, after which it traveled through the Panama Canal and made its way to Kashima, Japan.

And it still worked, too, which is just as much a testament to the quality of the conditions grain is shipped in as the quality of the phone itself. There wasn't a scratch on it, Whitney said, and all of his beloved photos were still accessible.

Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.

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Review: Dragon Dictate 4 for Mac

Thanks to Siri, we’re all getting familiar with voice recognition. Where the technology really comes into its own, though — in a business sense — is in OS X, where Dragon Dictate is the long-time leader in converting what you say into neatly typed documents and accurately executed commands.

Most of the features have been carried over from the previous edition, which already boasted excellent recognition and zippy performance even on mid-range Macs. Transcription tools are new this time around, having previously been sold as Scribe, a separate app. Feed it a 90-second sample of your subject’s voice and it should be able to transcribe a recording. Nuance reckons this will benefit students who’ve recorded a lecture on their phone, and business users who dictate quick notes while on the go.

Mal93.rev Dragon.dragon02

We found the results to be mixed when in this mode. It performed well when transcribing one of Barack Obama’s online addresses, but it was less effective when working with a well-spoken and clearly enunciated British voice, even though we’d told it to expect an English accent.

Reverting to regular dictation proves more predictable, and lived up to our expectations. First-time setup requires you spend five minutes reading samples as they’re displayed on screen, so that Dictate can compare what it hears to what it knows for sure you’ve been asked to read. This builds a profile for it to use to decode your speech.

Neatly, if you’re upgrading from a previous edition you can also upgrade an existing profile. 
It’s a fairly time-consuming process that involves first converting your saved data file and then using it to “retrain” the app, all of which is automatic. It’s well worth the effort, as doing so allows the new version to recognize various things you taught its predecessor, such as non-standard words and various style preferences.

Mal93.rev Dragon.dragon04

You can also hook directly into Gmail and issue commands such as “Click Compose” and “Click Send” while dictating the body of your email. Doing so requires a plug-in, which to date is available for Safari and Firefox, but unfortunately, not Chrome.

Even without the extensions, you can issue commands like “search Google for MacLife” or “search Bing for Apple,” and it obeys your instructions. Naturally, you can navigate to any link by vocally directing the pointer around the screen. Spoken mouse control is of most use to anyone with a motor impairment, but telling it to switch between apps by voice is also highly beneficial for anyone suffering from RSI or otherwise wants to minimize their mouse time.

The bottom line. The transcription tools are tempting, but it’s the live dictation that remains the main draw here.

Review Synopsis


Dragon Dictate for Mac 4.0







OS X 10.8.3 or later, 3GB hard-drive space, 4GB memory


Excellent dictation accuracy. Allows for multiple profiles. Now includes transcription.


Expensive. New transcription tools a mixed bag.

4 Great

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