Aug 26, 2011

Protecting Your Memories by Protecting Your Devices

Losing certain objects is like losing certain parts of our personal lives.   We can set stuff down and forget to pick it up, or get our entire bag stolen at a coffee shop or airport.  It seems like we had it one second and the next it’s gone.  Whether it happens through villainy or absentmindedness, one lost bag and we’re out a phone, a laptop, an iPad, a camera…and that’s just the beginning.

We store far more information in things like our phones and laptops than we think we do.  Whether we lose these mobile devices at a football game or have them stolen from a table at a coffee shop, we can also lose vast amounts of personal information stored inside them.

Here are some ideas on how to prevent loss and to get it back.



The amount of information stored on our laptops can be staggering.  Losing one can mean the loss of thousands of photos, documents, songs, and invaluable memories.

Some ways to prevent theft:

  • Grab a lock:  Laptop locks prevent theft by literally locking it down using and are available for most all laptops.  Tech companies are also coming out with locks for tablets such as this one for an iPad.
  • Don’t leave a computer or tablet anywhere, even to get up to use the restroom quickly at a local coffee shop or library.
  • Don’t leave your computer or tablet in a visible place in your car, backpack, or handbag.

What to do if it is stolen:

  • Applications like MobileMe and can provide information about the exact location of your laptop if it is stolen.
  • Remote deletion: Intel Anti-Theft Technology is software that disables a laptop if stolen so information cannot be accessed.  Once recovered, the laptop can be enabled again.


For most of us, our cell phones are like a lifeline.  Losing a phone isn’t just losing a device.  Often, it means that entire stores of contacts, texts, and photos will be lost with the phone.

Some ways to prevent theft:

  • Don’t loan your phone to strangers, or even friends. No one watches out for your devices like you do.
  • Have a phone case that you always use so you’re less likely to set it down absent-mindedly.
  • Password protect your phone so a thief won’t want it.

What to do if it is stolen:

  • Applications like iTag for Android (MobileMe for Mac) allow users to disable a phone if stolen so information cannot be accessed.
  • MobileMe also has a “Find My Phone” area and can be accessed from any computer.
  • If you installed an add-ons or apps that allows a stolen or misplaced phone to be found, check that.
  • Call the police (and area pawnshops) with the IMEI, SIM or MEID number (indentifying number for your phone, like a VIN number for your car) so the phone can be returned to you if found, sold, or nabbed in an arrest.
  • If your service providers offers this feature, log-in to their website and immediately limit calls and text allowed


Our digital cameras can store thousands of photos of life’s most precious memories.  Losing a camera is like losing an invaluable part of your special moments.

Some ways to prevent theft:

  • Consider keeping your camera tied around your wrist.
    • Do not ask a stranger to take a picture of you or your group especially in high tourist areas where thieves lurk.
    • Never leave your camera alone in a public place.

What to do if it is stolen:

  •,  sites that help people reclaim a lost or stolen camera by scouring Internet photo sites for photos posted by stolen cameras using serial numbers imbedded in photos to locate the thief and camera.
  • While traveling, keep indentifying information like serial number in a location away from the camera and notify authorities with those numbers


  • Password-protect your devices by changing factory default passwords to something stronger and more secure.
  • Password-protect sensitive information and valuable applications.
  • Turn of “auto-fill” on your browsers so that people can’t immediately find information.
  • Have a secured password program that stores passwords for software and websites instead of keeping them in a word or text file.
  • Put name and email address (even carefully etching it) on the bottom of your device.
  • Backup to the cloud: online storage sites like allow for information to be backed up in a virtual space and downloaded back to a new device if yours is stolen or lost.
  • Backup to hard drive: back-up regularly all information, photos, music, docs, etc. on a computer by using programs like Time Machine that back-up to a separate hard drive.
  • Take a picture of yourself holding a sign with your email address so someone can let you know if they find a lost camera
  • Download pictures onto an external device often so a stolen camera doesn’t mean a stolen memory.

So the next time you put your bag down, just remember your life could be walking away from you unless you’ve secured it.

Aug 14, 2011

When a Child Goes Missing, an iPhone App Can Help

According to a survey released by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children not enough parents in the United States know vital statistics about their children: height, hair color, eye color, weight, etc.  Young children change in physical appearance so rapidly that it can be a challenge to keep up with this information.  And in a time of crisis, it can be even harder for a panicked parent to accurately recall and disseminate this vital information to law enforcement.

For law enforcement, the first few hours in the case of any missing child are the most crucial in successfully finding a child alive.  Having an accurate description of your child and a recent picture can make the difference between a search and rescue effort to a search and recover effort.  For years, parents have been getting ID cards for children that have everything from vital stats to DNA.  Usually, the child carries one and the parents keep one.

This is a great idea, and the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) has just taken it one step further by making an admirable leap in to the digital age with its release of an iPhone app called Child ID.

This is the first-ever mobile app released by the FBI.  Not only can parents input and store information about their child’s appearance using this app, but they can also send information directly from the app to law enforcement during a crisis.

Kudos to the FBI.  It would be great if the FBI added two additional features to this app – password protection and fingerprint storing capability.  A lost or stolen iPhone could put lots of personal info about your child in the wrong hands.  A simple password protection would take care of that.  Second, a fingerprint storage area in the application could be of great use to authorities.  While iPhones do not, as yet, have the technology to accept or process fingerprints, it would be easy enough for a parent to scan a fingerprint and store it as an image that can then be loaded to the app.  Tech-savvy parents can probably figure that out now, but adding a simple walk through into the app would take care of all the parents out there who will use Child ID.

The FBI has done a tremendous service to parents and children by releasing this app.  It is now up to us to use it.

Aug 2, 2011

The Bachelorette and Table for Two Please

Did you watch this week’s final episode of The Bachelorette?  Ashley finally chose the bachelor she wants to spend the rest of her life with…and he chose her too.  Even though the season started back in May and finished in August, the actual events that took place happened over a mere 6 weeks or less.  If we count the actual time spent with her now fiancé, JP, we might even say it happened in less than 48 hours or perhaps 24 hours. And wow, where did these life long, you are my soul mate for life, events take place – in perfectly choreographed, exquisitely selected destinations like fancy restaurants, beaches, helicopters, nightclubs, resorts, and skyscrapers around the world (just to name a few).  And wow, the number of bachelors Ashley fell for in just the same short amount of time, who were perfect for her, ranged anywhere from 6 at a time to 2 before she finally chose the one her sister didn’t think was right for her in the real world.

So why are we talking about how quickly and where Ashley found her soul mate in a blog about the Internet?  Many of us have been lulled into using the power of technology and its ability to connect us quickly to replace the power of true human interaction that develops into the true human bond over long periods of time.  We text instead of calling, we email instead of visiting, we IM instead of dropping by, and we order online instead of going to the mall with friends to stroll, chat, and gossip.  Ashley did something very similar when she used the perfect dates, the perfect scenery, the perfect food, the perfect beaches, the perfect hotels and hot tubs, and the perfect resorts in place of the slowly orchestrated music that comes from a courtship choreographed over time.

Isn’t it time that we all power down, slow down, and breath in the world around us – the real world full of real people with real stories to be told and passed on to those who follow-us?

Until next time when you go online and read another article from me, enjoy some special time with someone special.  Table for two please.

See also Hemu’s other blogs on The Bachelorette here.