When Written: Oct 2010
I have just returned from the Bridge World Championships in Philadelphia. In the past at such events I was responsible for specifying and setting up the IT requirements; however, some four years ago, I resigned, mainly because of pressure of my other work. So it was with great delight that I was invited as a guest or ‘tourist’ as we dismissively called them when I was working at such events.
When going on such travels I like to take a development box with me so that I can carry on programming should the mood take me, and also be able to sort out any problems with client sites should the need occur. This development box has a lot of important information on it and has taken some time to setup and so losing it would be more than a slight annoyance. Obviously the data is all encrypted so in the event of it being stolen or lost then the information should be secure but as an extra line of defence I thought I would install a background application called ‘Prey’ on both my laptop and Android phone before I left, so that in the event of either being lost or stolen then they can be disabled remotely as soon as they connect to the internet. Prey on a laptop will even switch on the web cam, take a picture of the person using the laptop and use the wi-fi to try and locate where the laptop might be.
Project Prey is a neat way to help find your lost laptop or mobile
Prey is an open source project ( www.preyproject.com ) and is totally free and whilst it will not stop anyone from stealing your laptop it will enable you to keep the data safe and possibly enable the thief to be tracked. In the event of the laptop or phone disappearing you just log on the web site and tell it that the item is lost, then the background application will activate assuming that the device can see the internet and the various actions that you have defined will be activated. I tried this out whilst I was away in Philadelphia and the laptop was in one of the offices. I logged into the web site from another location and activated the laptop’s camera just to see what was going on. So next time you are in a room with an innocuous laptop sitting in front of you be careful, big brother could be watching you!
At events like the World Bridge Championships there are a considerable number of technology loving people from around the world who turn up with their latest piece of ‘cool’ technology for the rest of us to lust over. We have seen the first digital cameras, e-books, usb pen drives ( if it is possible to lust over such things) and smart phones. So I was ready to be surrounded by iPads, that being the latest ‘toy’. However this turned out not to be the case, not a single iPad was visible at an event with some three thousand people, very strange. By the end of the three weeks a couple of the crew had succumbed and bought an iPad each although when you take into account the local tax and the weak pound the savings were not that great. Despite the reports in the media that every man and his dog were out buying these devices my little straw poll seem to say otherwise, so I asked several likely candidates why they haven’t bought an iPad. Most replied that they thought that it was too big and expensive for a truly portable device and too lacking for a laptop replacement. Several other companies are planning to launch smaller 7 inch screen Android powered tablets in the very near future, with the same screen sizes of the e-book readers out there. It will be interesting to monitor the take-up of these devices as the development of web applications specifically for such portable devices will become a big issue in the near future. We shall see if next year’s championships are awash with these. It was also hoped that a certain Bill Gates would be playing in this event as he did in Verona four years ago, but other commitments kept him away. If you want to know how this country did, England won the Seniors Championship and one of the youth teams took the Silver Medal in their event, so not a bad result against such a strong field.
Article by: Mark Newton
Published in: Mark Newton