Lock up your valuables

Yale lock

I always find it amusing when we have consultants over from the USA or Europe (at my day-job, that is), and they don't bother to lock up their laptops when leaving their desks. I'm always having to warn them to lock up, and, without fail, I get a quizzical look in return and the question, "Why, do you think someone would take it?". While the folk working in our offices are perfectly trustworthy, we have many random people in and out, and laptops and cell phones have been known to go missing. They're so easy to steal and sell!

I'm interested to know if you experience the same kind of trouble wherever it is that you work.

7 thoughts on “Lock up your valuables

  1. Deems

    On-site at clients our laptops are always locked with a cable.

    In the office, however, we “lock” Windows for other reasons since you’re prone to embarrassment if you leave your computer “unlocked” and leave your desk. You never know what search results will appear or what emails will be sent on your behalf :)

  2. Viviane

    Hi Paul, very funny your post! I am in Tanzania this week, in Dar es Salaam, working with Vodacom and I always leave my laptop unlocked. I’ve noticed that not only myself, but everybody else at the floor I am working does the same.
    However, I had mixed experiences: in US I used to lock my computer at Microsoft campus due to exactly what you mentioned, the in and out of lots of people. Never heard of any incident, but it’s always good to be on the safe side.

    Cheers from Dar es Salaam!

  3. Paul

    Post author

    Deems, I know what you mean – except that I’m normally the one fiddling with unlocked workstations. :P As you would know, a classic trick is to take a screenshot of the desktop, apply it as a wallpaper, and remove all the desktop icons. The other more obvious ones are to switch mouse buttons, increase the blink rate, change the mouse speed, change the keyboard to dvorak, and the list goes on for ever. :) Even if the workstation is locked, other classics are to insert an additional mouse or keyboard (preferably a remote one), paste a sticker over the mouse laser light, or remove the trackball if it’s an older model.

    Such fun. :)

    Obnoxio, you make me curious as to where you work… :)

    Viviane, greetings! It’s strange hey, I’d expect that one would have to lock up in Dar es Salaam, not in the US – but I guess that’s just due to conditioning by the media. :-/

  4. Deems

    Haha, Paul, you and I are more alike than I thought :) Those are all favourites and almost always guarantee a good laugh or two. As developers we also like doing things like opening up a command-prompt window, changing the colour to white text on blue background (like a blue screen) and dumping an executable’s code on screen and typing some random message. Or installing a custom built application that runs in the background and randomly plays a muffled sound of a cow mooing, for example.

  5. Dr S

    Ha! My colleague from the UK survived an entire year workig with me on the Cape Flats, and we sent him back to England without a scratch.

    (We did drill it into him every second to by hypervigilant re:security)

    One evening, waiting for the tube in London, and forgetting to be vigilant, his bag was nicked from right next to him!!!!!

    What does this say about crimes happening when they opportunity for it arises?

  6. Paul

    Post author

    Hey Dr S,

    That’s so funny. It’s true – crime’s all over. Sure, your colleague was more vigilante here, but alas, it’s true, crime is all over. :)

    I hope nothing too important was stolen!

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