Editor's Blog: Eugene’s Paranoia & The Science of Stopping Stolen Laptops

Editor's Blog: Eugene’s Paranoia & The Science of Stopping Stolen Laptops

 

It helps if you know that I’m a native New Yorker. And native from a pre-Giuliani time when NYC was shorthand for muggings and dog crap curbside. At this remove of some 27 years they can either be called The Good Ol’ Days or The Bad Ol’ Days probably largely dependent on how much of your stuff – bikes, TVs, wallets – you had stolen then and who did the stealing. If your stuff was stolen and you were DOING the stealing you figure it as a business expense. If your stuff was stolen and you weren’t part of the Kleptocracy, well, you were put out.

 

But a significant decade differentiator? There was no single appliance/apparatus as expensive as your present day laptop. No CB radio, 8-track tape player, not even VCRs, which were like $1,600 in 1978. And none of those things mentioned above even came remotely close to being as well-traveled as the average laptop.

 

Which sort of explains how I got here. That is, if you factor in the 1965 Chevy. I’ve been building this thing for 10 years and its grand debut is almost upon us and so my meditations these days have turned to all things Asset Retention related and thusly had me stumble on the Lojack. The crème de le crème of anti-theft devices. I was searching it out and mid-search I started drifting - yeah, yeah, I know…just like now - and started thinking about how excited I was about Apple’s impending line of laptops on the not-so-distant horizon, what I was going to get and how soon after getting it would it be gotten away from me.

 

You see, this makes a perverse kind of sense: the two most expensive things I own are the Chevy and the laptop, and in my paranoiac world-view these two things immediately become the things most likely to get stolen from me. So, Lojack for the car and for the lapper? Well, a cursory peek into the jungle of options for those who fear the worst from their fellow humans reveals all kinds of stuff but my personal fave is Orbicule’s Undercover.

 

Sure, sure, my incipient paranoia about someone on the other side of my iSight connection watching me imitate Mussolini in one of my more quiet moments and uploading it to You Tube disturbs almost as much as the image of me imitating Mussolini might disturb you all, the counter is delightful. Because, you see, Undercover will send you pictures of the thief every six minutes. Add to that the ability to triangulate the thief's locale and a hardware failure option fake-out that’ll encourage the thief to take the offending laptop to a repair shop (where apprehension’s a phone call away), and you have a delightful bouillabaisse of crime, punishment, and revenge.

 

I mean think of it. It’ll be like an episode of Cops where you can get pics on your iPhone right up until you, or maybe even someone better suited than you, kick his/her door in. Or something like that. Money back-replacement guarantee? Damned straight. And they’re not the only ones. In no particular order of interest you have the heavyweights like zTrace, LapTrak, Mac PhoneHome, Computrace, the lighterweights like Stuffbak, a labeling system, honor systems like BoomerangIt and, finally, the ones that I found completely baffling like Skyhook who, leastways as I can tell, calls you, or something, when your laptop is stolen.

 

But I tell you I can’t imagine anything beats the visceral thrill of seeing the malefactor in action and knowing that the strong sword of justice is going to start swinging low and hard. Almost makes me WANT to have my laptop stolen. Which, is definitely, a strange place to be.

 

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Frank

Thank you very much for posting this. I will be adding this software to my MacBook Pro immediately. I never want my computer to be stolen (knock on wood) but if it ever were this could lead to sweet revenge!!!

Frank

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Anonymous

Until the thieves learn that it is necessary to reinstall Mac OS X on every stolen Mac.

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Frank

In the FAQ section of their website the company mentioned in the article recommends setting a firmware password on your Mac which will prevent the thief from being able to reinstall anything.

Frank

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Lizz

The FAQ section of which company?

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