Wired: The Mac Guru of Damascus

Wired: The Mac Guru of Damascus

Summary: There's a neat little story in the current issue (16.05) of Wired magazine about MacBooks being stolen (and recovered) while traveling abroad.

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The Mac Guru of DamascusThere's a neat little story in the current issue (16.05) of Wired magazine about MacBooks being stolen (and recovered) while traveling abroad. From The Mac Guru of Damascus in the Case of the Missing Laptops:

Before my fiancée and I headed to Syria to study Arabic, we often heard there was one advantage to living in a police state: almost no crime. So it came as a surprise when Sara and I returned to our Damascus apartment one night after a dinner party to find splintered wood in the hallway — wood that had once been part of our front door.

I made a beeline for the living room to check on our most valuable possessions: my MacBook and Sara's MacBook Pro. Both gone.

There's no 911 in Damascus, so we called our landlord, who contacted the cops. Within an hour, a dozen police were on the scene. About half of them sat around fingering unlit cigarettes. (Pushy Americans, we had asked them not to smoke inside.) The others engaged in what could generously be called an investigation. They took fingerprints from the door. They dusted the fridge. "Maybe the robber was thirsty," one said. They did not dust the coffee table where the laptops had been sitting.

Read the rest of the story at Wired.com.

This story has a happy ending, but most stolen hardware stories don't – especially when traveling overseas. A few obvious tips before getting on a plane with your MacBook:

  1. Make a complete, bootable backup of your hard drive, test it and leave it home.
  2. Turn off Automatic Login on your Mac (System Prefs > Accounts > Login Options).
  3. Consider installing an Open Firmware password.
  4. Turn on the Passcode Lock on your iPhone (Settings > General > Passcode Lock).
  5. Purchase insurance on your electronics and call your agent to ensure that you are covered when traveling. Many homeowners policies require you to "schedule" items over a specific dollar value, like electronics and jewelry. I have been a Safeware policy holder forever and it's probably the best US$200 per year you can spend. AppleCare, while helpful is not insurance.
  6. Keep meticulous records of your hardware purchases (with serial numbers) somewhere safe at home. In the event that your gear gets Jacked you'll have good records for police and insurance adjustors.

What kind of safe tech traveling practices do you practice?

Topics: Apple, Banking, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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8 comments
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  • This proves Mac and iPods are less secure

    If you will indulge me, let me use one of your favorite Apple apologies:
    [i]I've decided not to buy iPods or MacBooks because these items are stolen at a rate [b]far[/b] above their marketshare. Now, I won't say that Dells or Zunes have any features that make them more difficult to steal but the [b]fact[/b] is that they are stolen less. Therefore, I recommend to everyone that they do not buy any Apple products because they are [b]far[/b] safer that way. Again, [b]why[/b] they are safer isn't important, the only thing that counts is that they [b]are[/b] safer.[/i]

    :)
    NonZealot
    • Now that's just...

      As smart as standing in a fully operational sewer.

      Are you sure you're not Mike Cox' rep?
      zkiwi
    • No, it just shows no one wants a Dell or a Zune.

      Sometimes, the simplest answers are the right answers.

      MS had to cut the price of the original Zune by 70% before
      they finally sold in any numbers. Nuff said.
      Bruizer
    • Heheheh

      You just emphasized that people clamor for Mac products over Dell or MS's offerings. Anything else you would like to get off your chest while we are in session?

      You've got 15 min left on the clock....I'm waiting....

      :)
      Kid Icarus-21097050858087920245213802267493
    • Surely Not!

      I travel a lot so was interested to see a post about computer theft. So I read the first post from someone misnamed NonZealot.

      To begin a discussion about computer theft with some anti Mac rant is mind boggling.

      Surely it must be time to ask ZDNet to take a note from The Gap's business plan and start Baby ZDNet. Then perhaps the kids could flame each other and leave the adults to have a mature discussion.

      Now, little NonZealot here is today's lesson. When you get a little older you'll realize that computers are like Spiderman and Superman, a little different but really much the same. I know when you're just a little kid these things seem very important but as you grow up you'll realize there are more important things in life to worry about.

      Hope this helps.

      PS. Nice job with the Bold and Italic.
      ajhnyc@...
  • RE: Wired: The Mac Guru of Damascus

    I actually had 2 Apple notebooks stolen from me a year or
    so ago in Hungary while on a train from Budapest to Pecs.
    It happened while alert and wide awake. I can almost applaud the masterminds.

    6 months later, I get a call from a Budapest police station
    saying they recovered both Macs. Sure enough, I got both
    of them back untouched and unused. I'm convinced it was
    because they were Mac, in a highly populated Windows/PC
    country, that made them worthless to the folks who stole
    them.

    Lucky me :-)
    raemix
  • RE: Wired: The Mac Guru of Damascus

    I actually had 2 Apple notebooks stolen from me a year or
    so ago in Hungary while on a train from Budapest to Pecs.
    It happened while alert and wide awake. I can almost
    applaud the masterminds.

    6 months later, I get a call from a Budapest police station
    saying they recovered both Macs. Sure enough, I got both
    of them back untouched and unused. I'm convinced it was
    because they were Mac, in a highly populated Windows/PC
    country, that made them worthless to the folks who stole
    them.

    Lucky me :-)
    raemix
  • RE: Wired: The Mac Guru of Damascus

    Here's an idea: Apple should incorporate a fingerprint scanner on it's machines. As an added deterrent the person with the incorrect finger print would get a nasty shock when the laptop was picked up.
    metilley@...