Apps to Help Identify a Tablet/Smartphone/Laptop Thief

11719567_sImage credit: seewhatmitchsee / 123RF Stock Photo

We all know tablets, smartphones, and laptops are attractive targets for thieves.  Not only is the equipment inherently valuable, but think of all the data, pictures, and account information you have saved on your phone!  The time to protect yourself is before your device is stolen.

MakeUseOf.com has written some helpful posts on how to prepare your devices for the worst case scenario.  I would recommend reading two short articles: Don’t Be a Victim: Practical Tips To Protect Your Smartphone From Theft and Identify the Guy Who Stole Your Phone, Tablet, or Laptop.

If thieves make you angry, and you would like to gloat at their humiliation and capture, try Revenge of the geek: MacBook thief made a fool of on YouTube. The end of the article contains links to more stories of foiled electronics thieves.

Do you use a recovery tool not mentioned in the articles above?  Please share it the comments section below.

Life After iGoogle

google-icon

Have you come to depend on iGoogle as a convenient home page with all of your favorite Google (and other) stuff in one place?  Me too.  Despite the popularity of iGoogle, Google has decided to discontinue the service after November 1, 2013.  This leaves many users scrambling for a new solution.  Whether you are an iGoogle user or not, you may find the suggestions below useful.

1.  Google Shortcuts
If you are looking for is quick access to Google products, and you use Firefox or Chrome for your browser, this add-on may help.  It does exactly what it sounds like – it adds shortcuts for Google services to the top of your browser.  You can choose which shortcuts you use by clicking the gear icon.  Here’s a clip of what the shortcuts look like on my browser (Firefox):

googleshortcuts

Warning:  the download page is in German, but the settings and operations are in English.

2. Myfav.es
If you don’t need previews of content, just quick links to your favorite sites, this may be the service for you.  There are shortcuts for many, many websites available.  No account necessary.  Here is what the homepage I created looks like:
faves

Chances are, though, that you are looking for a page with gadgets that offers previews of your email, RSS feeds, calendar, etc.  Read on for other services that offer a similar experience to iGoogle.

3.  igHome
This one is my current favorite.  The setup was easy, and in no time I had a functioning page nearly identical to my iGoogle page.  As a bonus, shortcuts to Google services are included in a toolbar at the top of the page.  If you are using the Gmail gadget, be sure to turn on IMAP in your Gmail settings and approve the igHome application to access it.

4. Netvibes
This one is a bit more complicated than igHome to set up, but more customization is available.  Also, more widgets are available than with some other customized home pages.

5. uStart.org
This solution is similar to Netvibes.  You may want to experiment with both and see which you like better.

6. MyMSN and MyYahoo
These are personalized homepages provided by their respective companies.  If you don’t need any gadgets related to Google (Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.), one of these may work well for you.

7. Skim.Me
This one looks promising, but I’m still waiting for an invitation to get in on the beta.

Have you found another solution?  If so, let me know about it in the comments.

Happy computing!

More About Dropbox

dropbox

After I wrote my previous post about uses for Dropbox, I found a great article by the folks at MakeUseOf that explains how to host a website using Dropbox.  It is titled, appropriately, How to Host a Simple Website Using Dropbox.  Here at the library, I often get asked how to setup a basic website.  It’s great to have another tool to share with patrons.  I haven’t tried this method myself, so I’d be interested to hear about your experience if you have used Dropbox to host your website.

Nifty Uses for Dropbox

There are lots of ways to store and share your files in the cloud, keeping them accessible from any browser.  Some of the free services available include Dropbox, SkyDrive, and Google Drive.  If you are a Dropbox user, you may be surprised at some of the clever suggestions Whitson Gordon from Lifehacker has for using the service in this post.

Some of my favorites are:
#6. Print Documents to Your Home Printer from Any Computer
#5. Host a Web Site or Start Page for Your Browser
#1. Keep the Same Apps, Settings, and Passwords on All Your PCs

How do you use your Dropbox?

Searching Anonymously

Lately, I have been reading a lot of posts about how to keep sites and services from tracking your internet activity.  Though many of us have nothing to hide about how we use the internet, it may still be disturbing to know you are being tracked and to have personal information about you sold to the highest bidder.

Here at the library, we use Google Analytics to get information about how people use our site.  Our only reason for doing this is to help improve the user experience in our online locations.  Knowing which of our pages get the most hits helps us tune in to the content you want and need.  We do not sell this information.  Nor do we use it for targeted advertising or nefarious purposes.  Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the many of the other sites out there tracking their users’ visits.

If you would like to turn off tracking in your browser, you can set this in the preferences/settings area of most browsers. Those browsers that do not currently support turning off tracking have pledged to implement support by the end of the year, according to this c-net article.  Personally, I use a browser add-on called DNT+.  This browser add-on/extension advertises that it goes “far beyond what built-in private browsing modes offer” with a link to this list of concerns not covered by your browser’s private mode.  DNT+ also allows me to pick and choose which sites I allow to track my movements.  For example, I allow libraries, schools and government information sites to track me because I know it will help them to improve their services, and they won’t sell my information.  I do not allow commercial sites to track me because I do not have confidence that they will use the information in an entirely constructive way.  This is all a matter of personal preference, of course.

Even with tracking blockers in place, search engines may still gather information about how you are searching.  If this gives you the creeps and you are looking for a non-tracking alternative browser, check out these suggestions by How-to-Geek.

Do you have privacy concerns you’d like me to cover here?  If so, please note them in the comments and I’ll work up a post.

That reminds me – it’s time to double-check my Facebook privacy settings, too…