Have you heard of Undercover? It’s laptop protection software for Macs that only goes into action when your laptop’s stolen. See, that’s when you tell the Undercover people your secret code, which they then register in their database of stolen computers, and then next time someone (the thief!) connects your computer to the net it’ll check with its mothership and realise that it was stolen.

Goto Plan A: it’ll notify the mothership of its IP-number, take photos of its user (if it has a built in camera like my MacBook) and send in screenshots every six minutes, that might show things like the thief’s email address or other personal information. The company that sells Undercover gets this information to the police and hopefully your laptop’s recovered just like that.

If not, goto Plan B: a simulated hardware failure. The laptop will no longer work – until it’s taken to a repair shop (I’m not sure how they know it’s a repair shop, maybe they have all the IP addresses of Apple repair stores?) When it realises it’s being fixed, it displays big messages saying I’M STOLEN! or something and (I love this) it plays a VOICE message at top volume saying something to the same effect using the built in text-to-voice software.

Just imagine the scene!

All this for $39 or $49 for a household licence, well, what with my office being (relatively harmlessly) burgled this weekend I was all ready to buy it. Until Scott said hm. How do you know they’re legit? Are you about to just let some random company with a cool concept get a backdoor into your computer?

So now I don’t know what I’ll do. Sigh. But still, isn’t it an amazing idea?

9 thoughts on “MacBook theft control

  1. Ali

    Sounds good, but at the same time too good….Althought my fundamental belief in the goodness of human nature inclines me to feel that it is probably not too dodgy.

    I looked at their site and discovered that they have a free beta version of a program that makes noise in the event of someone moving or closing your macbook by linking it to the sudden motion sensor. Fine in theory, but I have a legendary forgetful side (if I remeber correctly), and could easily see me not turning this off and then making a lot of noise in an archive or library which would not endear me to other users and would lead to a ‘cry wolf’ scenario.

  2. Jill

    Ooh, I didn’t even notice Theftsensor! I’m going to install that right away. What fun! I really love the way this company is making the motion sensor, built in camera and the remote control useful! Look, here’s a screenshot from their video of how it works:

  3. Mum

    I’m with Scott. Really sceptical. Do some serious credential checking before you risk such exposure. Might be legit but if someeone hasn’t based a scam on this idea yet, they soon will.

  4. Eandersen

    Sounds like a good idea, but no idea is better than it’s weakest link; in this case being the police. Since when did they start accepting evidence from 3rd parties? They’re more likely to jail you for being a vigilante 🙂

  5. Stephanie

    I agree that it is a great idea, but am also with the ‘too cool to be true’ camp. I do really like the theft sensor though! It is a built in wireless lock. Great for cafe writing and running to get that refill. I can’t figure out, however, how you disable front row in order to turn on the program. Sigh.

  6. Stephanie

    Little more convinced about the program. They were featured in MacWorld http://orbicule.com/blog/2006/05/undercover-in-macworld.html

  7. Jill

    I found that when just restarted, the computer automatically goes to Theftsensor (if you press PLAY on the remote, rather than MENU which activates Frontrow. However, after I installed the RemoteBuddy thing that lets you control any app with the remote and not just iPhoto and DVDs and stuff, (I wnat to control powerpoint and photobooth!) Remotebuddy sort of takes over and I can’t get to Theftsensor. It’d be nice if they were more integrated.

    Still, I’d never even unwrapped my remote until yesterday so…

  8. Stephanie

    I had a similar problem. Mira was blocking mine. After figuring out how to get it working though, I set it off 4 times in the lab :-P. Oh well, most thought it an interesting enough tool to overlook the alarm!

  9. Jill

    Hehe, yes, I can imagine setting it off myself 😉

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