Say you take your laptop to the coffee shop with you. You walk away to get your drink, and when you turn around it’s gone. This happens all the time, opportunistic thieves see an untethered laptop and just grab and run. Other times, they’ll break in to a car and steal the contents, including your computer. According to one study, one in ten laptops will ultimately be stolen. The thief now has not just your laptop, but your data – and increasingly often, they’re using it to get to your identity.
nhinkle included some tips on preventing laptop theft in his series on college computing. In this article I’ll present some tools that can help you get a stolen laptop back.
There are a lot of things computers do that, in usage, seem very simple. Under the hood, though, there are a lot of parts that work together to enable basic behavior. One example is rebooting a computer. Reboot is conceptually very simple, it turns off and then turns back on again. In today’s Question of the Week, Seth Carnegie wondered how this actually happens:
This may be a really stupid question, but how can a computer restart itself? After it’s off, how does it tell itself to come back on again? What kind of software is it that can do this?