Friday, 6 February 2015

Laptop Security While Researching

As I fumble, stumble and grumble through my preparations to visit Utah NEXT WEEK (OMG!!) for the combined RootsTech and FGS conference taking place in the Zombie Hunter’s mecca (also known as Salt Lake City, home of the Family History Library) my thirst intensifies and the anxiety builds.

This will be my first international trip travelling solo, my first airplane ride in over ten years (though I have always loved flying). It will be my first time in Salt Lake City; simultaneously my first RootsTech and my first FGS conference -- my first experience of a major, international genealogy conference in person. MY VERY FIRST TIME AT THE FAMILY HISTORY LIBRARY!!!!
I won’t really know anyone -- oh, there may well be a few participants with whom I've briefly crossed paths at past local conferences or online but no one I know well enough to call more than a friendly acquaintance. No one I will know with 100% certainty that I can count on to come and fetch me from the side of the road when the cab I take from the airport to my hotel dumps me and steals my luggage.** On the contrary, I’m sure I will instantly spot the many Genea-Celebrities*** in attendance, immediately SQUEE with delight and grab for my Cloak of Invisibility upon which, as a shy and bashful creature, I have relied since birth. I can't even comprehend the fact that some of the (OMG!) traditionally famous people in attendance (like Donny Osmond!!) may elect to briefly wander the convention floor! In fact, I think it's best if I make a point of not thinking about that.

It’s all so mind-boggling. That likely sounds very strange to most of you reading... but the closer it gets, the more excited AND scared I feel. This trip is a big deal for me, both professionally and personally. I've got a lot of goals, both large and small. Both personal and professional. I love genealogy; I love what I do, I love learning. But carving out a place within a new (to me) professional community and networking in general... intimidating.

So, I must try to avoid becoming overwhelmed. That's step Numero Uno!
Okay, Self, are you listening?? Focus on one small part at a time!! Step by step!

Soooooo.... One small part I recently tackled was laptop security.

I will definitely be travelling with my laptop and digital camera -- if not to the conference itself, certainly to the FHL. Both are Must-Have research tools in my Digging Kit.

It’s interesting -- the different mentality I’m noticing between researching in Canadian versus American repositories. Here at home, I frequently bring expensive equipment with me to research, nonchalantly leaving it on a nearby table within sight but without much thought to it’s safety beyond that. Never had a bad experience. (Knock on wood that luck holds out!) However, almost every article I've read in preparation for this trip and researching in The States notes the importance of locking down one’s devices PRONTO. Is such theft among like-minded researchers really so common just across a border?? I know every visitor to the FHL is not a serious genealogist, but still...

Whatever the reality may be, I am now sufficiently paranoid.

Thankfully, when I purchased my laptop in the not-too-distant past, I also purchased a cable locking device to secure it. Unfortunately, when I went to figure out how to use it, the blasted thing didn't work. I assumed I bought “the wrong size” and this was the error I recently endeavoured to rectify.

In case you are wondering how a cable lock works… Most laptops nowadays (so I’ve learned) are built with a small slot on one side. Usually, this slot is noted by a tiny (you guessed it!) lock icon. This is where you insert the business end of your cable lock -- which you purchase, separately, wherever you shop for your computer peripherals. You will have a choice of forgetting or losing -- I mean, a choice between a combination or key-based device. The opposite end of the anti-cut cable gets secured to a table leg or something else not easily moved without a big scene (unless you’re The Hulk and puny humans just get in the way). TA-DA! Security.
For more info:
You may have noticed a key word in that paragraph -- “most”. Yup, most laptops have that slot. Most, not all. And, of course, not mine.

 Mine’s an ultra book****. All I know is that it’s super slim, very light-weight (around 3lbs) even with the extra battery I've added for longevity of use. It was vital to me that it be light-weight for carting around with me when researching. I nearly died the day I took my old, six-pounder to the LAC! I assume, therefore, that I've chosen a device created too slender for the inclusion of this lock slot.


So what does one do to secure a laptop that does not have a USS or K-slot, you ask? That was my immediate question, too. Surely there must be solution! A different type of lock? Something that hooks into a different slot? Well, I have found that there are two options which can be loosely considered solutions. And I had to dig through the bowels of the internet to find them, at that!

(If your spidy-senses are tingling in a negative direction, you win a cookie)!

1) Purchase an adapter kit that essentially enables you to glue (yes, GLUE!) a doohicky onto the laptop so that a regular cable lock can be secured. ---  Really. I wonder how difficult it will be to break that knob off and run away?? Not too mention what havoc the glue will wreak upon that same device even if it weren't an eyesore.

2) Purchase a stand that you screw or BOLT to a table in order to strap the laptop down. Really. Now, that’s a portable option.

Follow THIS link for photos and a little more info about these two fabulous solutions.

I just realized that this post is a great big advertisement for some devious evil-doer to come collect a lovely prize…

Well... balls.

Why do they even MAKE these things without that damn slot??

I guess I’m attaching it to my leg with velcro…

Yes, The Asterisks Mean Something


** I've actually booked a shuttle from the airport to my hotel via Express Shuttle. At $8.00 one way, it is the best deal I could find that didn't involve the train or bus which I will definitely be too sore to navigate after an entire day of travel. (Thanks Fibromyalgia!)

*** Genea-Celeb: Those individuals who are well-known publicly in the genea-universe. Professionals. Bloggers. Lecturers. Affiliated with the Big Companies. A combination thereof. People whose accomplishments, careers, skills, creativity, work ethic, talent and courage I ogle enviously from afar and against which I tend to measure my own genea-self (such as it currently is --or is not, as the case may be! lol). To me, genea-celebs are the Hollywood-esque starlets of the genealogy community. They are awe-inspiring, admirable yet intimidating mentors and I aim to emulate so many of them.

**** Ultra Book... whatever that means! I mean, I know it’s supa-fly just because it’s mine but… yeah. I may know SOME tech stuff but I leave the fan-boying about computer system deets to Hubby.

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