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Powerbook Theft in a College Setting
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rareflares
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Aug 6, 2004, 12:19 AM
 
I'm looking at buying a Powerbook for college, but a huge concern is the possibility of having my laptop stolen. There's no doubt in my mind I'll be extra careful with it but even then, there are times when you just can't be around your laptop and it needs to be safe in your room.

Is computer theft common at college and what are some useful ways to prevent it?

I understand there is the Kensington security slot where you can tether the laptop to the desk with a steel cable but that doesn't look so reliable based on the pictures I've seen (i could be wrong of course). Can someone with any real-world experience seriously recommend this or another product?

I'm not too fond of docking stations either, and they are on the expensive side.




So what are some solutions/advice?
     
Mobile Mod
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Aug 6, 2004, 12:25 AM
 
Here's my theory on the whole laptop getting stolen idea... If you have your laptop tethered down and someone walks by and decides they want to take it they are going to try and grab that PB off the desk as fast as possible. Now, if it is tethered all thats going to happen is that when they pull the tether pulls back and most likely they will drop the notebook. So now you have a broken, albeit still in your custody, notebook. However if you don't even have the cable then the person just would have walked away with it and you'd be stuck with no notebook. And if someone really wants your ntoebook and can semi-plan for it, all they really need are some basic bolt/chain cutters and that lock chain is toast. I personally would never invest in the locking mechanism just for the first reason I stated, but the principle behind the product is a good one (just make the average person not want to touch it). Personally I just always keep my laptop near by me or in a locked room.

Justin
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Wiskedjak
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Aug 6, 2004, 12:27 AM
 
Originally posted by rareflares:
Is computer theft common at college ..?
It's probably the most common place for laptop theft.

Cable locks are a delay solution ... you can get through one in about 5-10 minutes with some privacy and a cheap pair of wire cutters. What to do about it? Never let the laptop leave your sight ... keep it in a locked room when you are away from it ... pray that you have a room-mate with equally valuable possessions ... get a desk with a drawer you can lock ... buy a vault.
     
kafoochy
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Aug 6, 2004, 12:55 AM
 
I think somebody could make a good comedy about American college students trying to steal laptops that are obviously locked to a desk by picking them two feet up, starting to walk off and getting completely jerked back as the laptop's security cable acts as a leash to thwart the would-be thief. Seriously, if you're worried about the possibility of someone pulling your computer so quickly that cables are quickly stretched until the end of their tethers are reached, you're missing the point that the thief wants to steal a WORKING computer and would need to at least treat it with a little respect. Buy a security cable. Use it in a computer lab or library when you go to the bathroom. If you're going to meet your friend for coffee, take your Powerbook with you. And don't get diarrhea because yes, the thiefs could steal your computer in a couple of minutes.

I go to Boston College, which is actually in Newton, MA. I've heard of people having their laptops stolen, but I haven't seen it happen. Nor have I seen my coworker's 17" PB, which is leaves out on the front desk of our office completely unattended and unlocked, get stolen. I've done the same thing and it's been fine. It depends where you are on campus and then where you're campus is. I know the people in my department, and they know if there is a suspicious person lurking around either of our Powerbooks. Although we use nothing but Macs, the powerbooks still stand out enough so that other employees know whose they are. In the computer lab, even though there are even more people, it would be too easy for someone to walk by and talk a laptop while you were on a bathroom break because nobody is paying attention to whose computer belongs to whom and anyone could sit down, pretend to use your computer for a second, close the LCD and walk off.

BC is a safe campus and nobody locks up their computers in the dorm, it's just unheard of. I have a friend who goes to school in Worchester, MA and last time I visited I think I went to bed hugging my Powerbook so if a thief wanted it he'd have to take me first. No matter where you live, things happen at parties, in dinning halls, etc. Leave your laptop at home for the first two weeks to see how other people use their laptops. Then take it with you and be smart, lock it up when going to the bathroom, etc. But for the best protection buy safeware insurance www.safeware.com
     
Ryan1524
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Aug 6, 2004, 01:43 AM
 
has anybody dealt with safeware coverage, maybe whe you lost your PB or got it stolen?? just wanna know how reliable and true-to-their-words, they are.
Ryan
     
moep
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Aug 6, 2004, 02:52 AM
 
I personally would never ever take my powerbook to college. It's just like the iPod or any other sleek Apple device - it draws too much attention and will get stolen sooner or later.

There was an article about all those Kensigton Locks in a Computer Mag lately, the bottom line was that those things are pretty much useless... all you need to to is to hit the Lock with an Edge (e.g. a Table) and it will break out of the Computer's housing... or, if you've got the tools, you can snap the wire in a matter of seconds.

I personally got myself a small iBook first and then saved up for a Powerbook, which I'm now using at work. iBooks don't look as expensive and classy as the Powerbooks, although there's still a chance that someone steals an iBook. But if it happens - I'd rather loose the $1000 iBook than the $3000 PB.

The iBook still is my workhorse for the "tougher" Jobs, since I feel like the Powerbook is nowhere as tough as the iBook. I'm not sure since I've babied the PB so far, but I've got the feeling that if i treat it the same way that I treated my iBook, it would look as if someone tossed it onto the street and it was run over by a car. Time will tell.
( Last edited by moep; Aug 6, 2004 at 03:29 AM. )
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daxdagr8t
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Aug 6, 2004, 03:00 AM
 
Originally posted by Ryan1524:
has anybody dealt with safeware coverage, maybe whe you lost your PB or got it stolen?? just wanna know how reliable and true-to-their-words, they are.

I just recently insured my 12in pb through them.It cost me 90 dollars for the whole year, thats $7.50, not bad.I bring my pb everyday to school so I want the extra protection in case of theft.I do not know people that use safeware, I stumbled upon safeware through fortune magazine.There is a recent article regarding dorm-rooms computer and the author recommended safeware.
     
incubusdaemon
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Aug 6, 2004, 03:18 AM
 
Originally posted by moep:
it draws too much attention and will get stolen sooner or later.
My thoughts exactly. It will get stolen sooner or later. My digital camera disappeared from my desk drawer in the dorms. Luckily, I had insurance on it so I was able to replace it.

those cable locks are a bad idea, in my opinion, as they give you a false sense of security. If it's unattended, expect it to be stolen. Your best bet is to keep it in sight as much as you can, and keep it behind a locked door when you can't.

You can get insurance to cover replacement for about $50/year with a $50 deductable.
     
gbarill
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Aug 6, 2004, 03:39 AM
 
some of you are sounding way too paranoid. yes, laptop theft is more common in college than almost anywhere else, but as long as you're careful nothing will happen. laptops usually get stolen when someone leaves their room for "just a second" unattended. just don't do that, and you SHOULD be fine. never leave it unattended or in an unlocked room, simple as that. and theft insurance is probably a good idea...

i have a tibook, and it got lots of attention at university this year, but it wasn't stolen because i made sure i did exactly what i've described above. i have a kensington lock that was given to me, and i had my computer attached with that at my desk in my room. whenever my computer was anywhere but my desk, it was on my lap or on my back, i didn't let it out of my sight. simple as that and you should be fine. you're laptop isn't "sure to be stolen" like some people here are preaching as long as you practice discretion...
     
Ryan1524
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Aug 6, 2004, 06:20 AM
 
what's the best idea if you share your room with 2 other roommate's? just learn to trust each other to watch the other's backs?
Ryan
     
SplijinX
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Aug 6, 2004, 07:19 AM
 
Originally posted by Ryan1524:
what's the best idea if you share your room with 2 other roommate's? just learn to trust each other to watch the other's backs?
Are these roommates someone you chose to live with personally or were you randomly assigned to them by your school?

You just have to learn what type of person they are, and what kind of people they hang out with. Usually people who get into college are pretty decent people, though I make reservations to that statement. Iíve been fortunate to have some pretty cool roommates, but Iíve definitely heard my share of stories.

Theft does occur in dorms, a lock for your laptop does help as deterrent. If you were a thief walking by, would you swipe one that is locked up or the one down the hall just plugged in? If a thief really wanted it thereís no stopping them, just take precautions.

I think more often than not, youíre at higher risk of theft when you go to the library or some place and walk off for a second (to go to the bathroom, or to get a book). Iíve seen this many times, and while I havenít witnessed any thefts, I could easily see someone walk off with one.
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filmmaker2002
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Aug 6, 2004, 09:40 AM
 
I've had my Powerbook in college fo two years and no problems thus far...my secret?

TAKE IT WITH YOU EVERYWHERE!!!

Get yourself a good backpack like the Brenthaven Professional backpack and take it with you anywhere you go.
It's just an ordinary day and it's all your
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skelotar
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Aug 6, 2004, 10:10 AM
 
Just don't covet it. That's what gets your stuff stolen.

Take it with you everywhere you go, and if you paid your own money for it you won't lose it.
     
Snake
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Aug 6, 2004, 10:13 AM
 
Treat it the same way you would treat any other $2000+ dollar piece of equipment. Get a safe, or a lockable (and secure) desk, or just take it with you everywhere.

I have seen my close friends get cleaned out of CD's, speakers, cell phones, video games, gaming consoles, and other misc. electronics, all while having a party at their apartment. If you are worried about having it stolen while it is in your dorm/apartment, you could look into renter's insurance. Otherwise, if you are in a lab and you HAVE to leave your PB, tell someone trustworthy to keep an eye on it, or better yet leave it in the care of the lab attendant or something. Sleep mode is my friend
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Stradlater
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Aug 6, 2004, 11:16 AM
 
Originally posted by kafoochy:
you're missing the point that the thief wants to steal a WORKING computer and would need to at least treat it with a little respect.
I think you're missing the point that the majority of computer theft is done by middle men who will be selling the laptop and don't really mind if it's a little banged up as long as they still get a three-or-four figure return.
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kafoochy
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Aug 6, 2004, 11:28 AM
 
I also agree that you people are way to paranoid. Yes, powerbooks are visible, but that's because they're designed to be carried around, god-forbid...IN THE OPEN! Nothing against tavilach, but you're starting to sound like him worrying that his laptop is going to get damaged in the first 5min if he doesn't get a keyboard protector. The best defense is vigilance. If you don't let the powerbook out of your sight and make sure that it is locked up to the point where it would be too difficult for a thief to steal it while you step away, then that's all you can do. You can't live in fear that you're powerbook is going to get stolen. You need to enjoy it. Maybe because I go to a decent school (BC), have always trusted my fellow students, roommates, etc because they are generally all outstanding people and there are many powerbooks and iBooks around, it's really not an issue.

And in response to the two people that said, "It will get stolen sooner or later." NOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! Where did you go to school, the state prison? It disheartens me that people give advice such as this. Maybe its post-9/11 and the media that has scared everyone out of rational thought, but like I told tavilach, every situation is different and you need to deal with it accordingly. You haven't even told us where you're going to school yet. Treat your powerbook well and get a lock so use in the library when you need to go to the bathroom, just like SplijinX illustrates. You can't guarantee that it won't get stolen, but neither can anyone guarantee that you won't get mugged or get run over by a garbage truck. It's people that believe this that live in fear and have unhappy lives. Buy a lock, buy insurance, and thoroughly enjoy your powerbook. If I were to get run-over with a garbage truck, I'd have a smile on my face knowing that I enjoyed every last moment with my beloved PowerBook.
     
SpaceMonkey
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Aug 6, 2004, 11:31 AM
 
The only personal experience (secondhand) that I've had of laptop theft in college was the case of my friend, whose Powerbook was stolen from her room while she was in the shower. Needless to say, most people don't take their keys with them to the shower (at least in the dorms that I've been in), so a lot of rooms are left unlocked that way. In that kind of situation, I think a security cable or a lockable desk/cabinet/box would have been helpful.
     
kafoochy
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Aug 6, 2004, 11:46 AM
 
Originally posted by Stradlater:
I think you're missing the point that the majority of computer theft is done by middle men who will be selling the laptop and don't really mind if it's a little banged up as long as they still get a three-or-four figure return.
You're missing the point that there are going to be plenty of people that will leave their computers completely unattended, in a library for example, for which any thief would be guaranteed a four-figure return. If they have the choice between getting a three-figure, possibly four-figure, damaged powerbook versus a guaranteed four-figure Vaio, which do you think they're going to take? If they really are professionals and want a powerbook they're probably going to know that the aluminum bottom case is costs many hundreds to replace, not including labor and any other damage sustained.

During finals at our school, there are security guards at the entrances of the library so that only students and no outsiders, possibly professional thiefs could enter. These are called precautions. The story is the same for anything else, automobiles for example. It is incredibly easy for a thief to break your window and drive off with your car in 5min, and yet we still take park it in the garage until 2am in a dark corner until we're done studying. And do we worry about our locked car outside? No, and we shouldn't. Why? Because we need to use these things to better our own lives and move forward. We have certain trust and take precautions, which is all that we can do. Beyond that it is chance, but sacrificing my own happiness and well-being being for a material possession is letting the thief win. The chance is just as good that you're hard drive will fail, or logic board will need to be replaced but we live with this possibility. You need to be able to live with the fact that no matter what you do your Powerbook may get stolen, so then it's completely up to you how you want to live.
     
rareflares  (op)
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Aug 6, 2004, 11:48 AM
 
Originally posted by kafoochy:
I also agree that you people are way to paranoid. Yes, powerbooks are visible, but that's because they're designed to be carried around, god-forbid...IN THE OPEN! Nothing against tavilach, but you're starting to sound like him worrying that his laptop is going to get damaged in the first 5min if he doesn't get a keyboard protector. The best defense is vigilance. If you don't let the powerbook out of your sight and make sure that it is locked up to the point where it would be too difficult for a thief to steal it while you step away, then that's all you can do. You can't live in fear that you're powerbook is going to get stolen. You need to enjoy it. Maybe because I go to a decent school (BC), have always trusted my fellow students, roommates, etc because they are generally all outstanding people and there are many powerbooks and iBooks around, it's really not an issue.

And in response to the two people that said, "It will get stolen sooner or later." NOOOOO!!!!!!!!!! Where did you go to school, the state prison? It disheartens me that people give advice such as this. Maybe its post-9/11 and the media that has scared everyone out of rational thought, but like I told tavilach, every situation is different and you need to deal with it accordingly. You haven't even told us where you're going to school yet. Treat your powerbook well and get a lock so use in the library when you need to go to the bathroom, just like SplijinX illustrates. You can't guarantee that it won't get stolen, but neither can anyone guarantee that you won't get mugged or get run over by a garbage truck. It's people that believe this that live in fear and have unhappy lives. Buy a lock, buy insurance, and thoroughly enjoy your powerbook. If I were to get run-over with a garbage truck, I'd have a smile on my face knowing that I enjoyed every last moment with my beloved PowerBook.





Thanks for the great advice everyone. I'm going to Georgetown University if you want to know. I guess I'm not exactly worried that it will be stolen, but I just don't want to be naive about it. My dad is much more concerned about it then I am but I think I'll look into that SafeWare insurance and the Kensington cable lock (it's better than nothing and it's only like $30).
     
gbarill
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Aug 6, 2004, 12:25 PM
 
that sounds best to me. the lock is basically just a visual deterrent, since most thefts from dorms are opportunistic thefts...

some thief walks by open dorm room, nobody in it, computer sitting on desk, and if the computer has a lock they'd probably move on, since the person whose room it is will probably be back very soon. course, you should never leave your room unlocked with nobody in it under any circumstances, but that's how most thefts happen, and if you make it so it would take a minute or two to get the computer out, likely nobody's gonna bother...
     
tooki
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Aug 6, 2004, 01:09 PM
 
OK, back to earth here:

Kensington Locks are not super-strong, but it IS basically impossible to remove the lock from the computer without causing damage. Since a damaged unit is practically unsaleable, that is the deterrent.

I believe that a Kensington Lock is sufficient for college purposes.

tooki
     
an0therdumbsn
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Aug 6, 2004, 10:31 PM
 
I am going to start at UNR (Reno) this fall and will be bringing my 15 inch pb, iPod, digital camera, and cell phone.
I have friends that have done the same and never came close to having anything stolen from them. Yeah rare break ins and stuff will happen which is unavoidable and could happen almost as easily at your house/apartment.
One thing you may want to look into though is adding your pb on your homeowners insurance which is what my parents did, so god forbid anything like that does happen and i am covered.
Common sense will ensure your valuables safety im sure, just dont get up at the library for the bathroom with the pb open and sitting there ungaurded.
     
WhitE_RabbiT-PB
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Aug 6, 2004, 11:52 PM
 
Man, now you guys have me all paranoid. I'm taking my 15" PB, iPod, Nikon D100 (digital camera), and some other photo gear.

I'm headed to WVU, I've brefily spoken with my room mate. He's bringing a TV and DVD player for us, so I already feel decently comforable. We'll see how it goes. Going to leave the photo gear home at first tho.
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southtdi
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Aug 7, 2004, 12:14 AM
 
while I am not a college student I am a professional who has to travel and such. I also recommend Safeware. Great product and inexpensive.

The cable lock is also a good idea. I would restrict it to the room and nowhere else.

The last item I have I have seen in a could pf different ways. Either as a stand alone device or part of a computer bag. I use the stand alone for more flexibility. The device uses teh locking slot on the laptop or can be attached to the computer bag itself. It's a lock that has a motion detector in it. Mine has a tumble lock to lock the main bar plus a keypad to enable/ disable the motion detector. What happens is when armed is it will go off (very high pitched and loud) if the computer is moved too much (less than a foot). Mine has a bump prtection built in that will give up to three warning beeps if the unit just gets a bump.

It's not the best security itself but it's enough to get attention which is not what the theif wants. Mione has a screw on battery door so the theif would need a tool to open it and you can set any four number combination you want. The brand I have is Kensington (which they no longer make) but Targus makes the Defcon 1. Defcon 1
     
eatinwokout
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Aug 7, 2004, 12:23 AM
 
you can never be to overprotective of you electronics in college. the best things to do are never leave valuables alone. a lot of times while i was at wsu i took my pb with me even if i wasn't planning on using it. dorms and roommates can be very unreliable. although my floor was pretty good at watching out for other peoples things.. strangers where always wandering through the hallway. many students leave their doors open free for anyone to wander in. do not do that. if you can get some sort go insurance i recommend that.

oh and find a good hiding spot wherever your staying.. be it a dorm room or apartment.
     
Ryan1524
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Aug 7, 2004, 12:38 AM
 
just a side note: my univ recommends something called the Compucage L-4000 from here: http://compucage.com/

we can have it installed for us for 95$.

but i think it's a bit too inconvenient and ugly, although it might be effective for when i leave the room for a party or soemthing. but i'm wodnering if i should do this or get a 97$ Safeware instead.
Ryan
     
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Aug 7, 2004, 12:41 AM
 
The best advice has been said!

KEEP IT WITH YOU! That way there's no easy way for it to get stolen. Get a good backpack you feel comfortable with, or better yet a heavy bag for busyd ays and a light bag for going out..

Gotta go to the bathroom? Toss the laptop into the bag and take it with you. I don't think it'll mind (you took your backpack to the bathroom before haven't you?) ...

*shrug*
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wuzup101
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Aug 7, 2004, 02:12 AM
 
I would get a kingston lock and safeware. Personally it makes little sense to me that some people here have said they wouldn't take a powerbook to college. Are you nuts? They are great computers, why limit your productivity by being that worried?

Anyway, don't leave your door unlocked, and tell your roomate to do the same. Watch each other's backs and there shouldn't be a problem in the dorm. BTW, many people DO in fact take their keys to the shower with them. Now I don't lock my room when I'm going 4 doors down to take a piss, but you best believe if I'm going to be in the shower for 20min the key is comming with me. Lock the computer to your desk while you're in the room.... so if you step out for a few seconds w/ the door unlocked it's still locked up. When you leave, the computer leaves with you. That's the beauity of having a PB, they are quite portable. I'm still at home and my 15" comes everywhere with me. When you're at the library studying either take the PB with you to the bathroom/soda machine or lock it to a chair. If someone sees a thief break out a bolt cutters chances are they will be stopped... same deal if someone catches a thief walking down the hall with a PB chained to a chair... My advice to you is to make some friends to study with that way you don't have to leave your PB unattended and you have some people to chat with about school...
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MilkmanDan
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Aug 7, 2004, 03:44 AM
 
I go to a small private college in Minnesota, and even though its a small school and I trust all the guys I live with, I still watch my Powerbook all the time. We've all found that you should always take it with you, never leave it in open sight, and a lock is sometimes helpful.
     
KidKit
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Aug 7, 2004, 07:43 PM
 
If I may summarise & add to some of the options above, these 2 lists are the order in which I'll get protection against theft for my PB, whether travelling or in a campus setting.

Must haves
1) Common sense (priceless) - lock up if you're leaving it in the room. Carry it with you otherwise, even to the toilet, unless you can entrust it to someone while you sort out your business
2) Kensington cable lock ($20-60) - cheap deterrent, takes the thief a while to get through, but no guarantee.
3) Safeware / renter's insurance ($ variable per year) - Small price for peace of mind, you'll at least get a replacement computer if your PB gets stolen

Optionals
4) proximity alarm ($40 upwards) - they work, but if you're not there... what's the use?
5) Tracking service / Invisible marker ink ($ variable subscription per year) - for tracking down your PB if it gets lost, quite useful in dorm setting
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romeosc
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Aug 7, 2004, 08:02 PM
 
I've used Safeware insurance for over 7 years. They have been very fast on all claims. Make sure to burn a DVD backup or have a firewire HD copy in a separate location. Also keep a copy of your receipts, because that's what they base it's value on.
     
Ryan1524
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Aug 7, 2004, 08:17 PM
 
do they get you a new Powerbook that is the exact same spec (this is in the case of BTO units) or do they only try to match it up as close as they can? or do they simply give you the money to get a new one - especially when it's discontinued.?
Ryan
     
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Aug 8, 2004, 03:10 AM
 
My suggestion?

Lock you room. Serioulsy, this is the best way to prevent ANYTHING at all from being stolen. Ask your roommates to lock the door behind them as well, if you don't trust them or if you got assigned random roommates I'd take the laptop with me everywhere (or lock it inside luggage or something).
     
amazing
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Aug 8, 2004, 04:02 PM
 
Get yourself a 2-drawer or maybe a 4-drawer locking file cabinet, and keep your valuable electronics locked away. It's just another small key on your key ring. And if you don't take your key to the showers, then you're pretty naive. If you're at a coffee shop or computer lab or library and you don't take your laptop to the bathroom with you, that's pretty naive. At least get a kensington lock for the library--thieves aren't going to risk the commotion of trying to break the lock in the library.

Also, get a computer backpack that doesn't scream "high-end-steal-me." I've got an EMS padded backpack that looks like all their other backpacks, you wouldn't know there's a laptop in it until you see me pull it out.

Bottom line: street smarts.
     
macross
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Aug 8, 2004, 04:49 PM
 
Hmmm... good question, but when it comes to theft, i think laptops are on the bottom of the list (well at least @ my college). I can say I don't know anybody that had their laptop stolen. For instance, while i'm on my break waiting for my next class or whatever, I would be in the student union relaxing and surfing the net and i see other students that would just walk away to the restroom (or whatever, grab food, etc) and then come back to their laptop 10 minutes later and it would still be there. I've even done that a lot of times, just leave my bag and laptop laying their on the desk and come back later and it would still be there (its the norm at my college). I think its more of a paranoia thing, where nobody would steal it fearing the fact that someone might do something or the owner might come back, etc.

BTW: if you're going to be doarming @ a college though, I wouldn't really konw, but chances are i doubt the people in your hall (these people will most likly become good friends with you) would steal from you, but to be safe, yes, use those locks that you can buy.

To be honest though, when it comes to theft, i hear more about theft of parking permits (wait till you check out how much a parking permit is for a quarter/semester system, you'll cry when you see the absurd prices) and book prices.
     
Mr. Bob
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Tokyo, Japan
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Aug 8, 2004, 04:51 PM
 
Goddamn, I'm glad my college is not like this. Then again, I go to college on a military base.

There was one instance when someone stole something from the barracks, and they hunted his ass down, and made him pay (got sent to Leavenworth for 12 years, and will then receive a dishonorable discharge).

Also, you guys in college have a public bathroom? Man, except for training, I have always had my own room and bathroom. Damn, civi colleges are running behind on the amenities.

Anyway, I guess find out what happens to people if they steal in your college. If they just slap them on the wrist, then be more protective. If they pull the witch hunt, then you can be a bit laxer.
     
   
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