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12 tricks to solve common online problems

Become a digital spy with these top tips

Check out these 12 tweaks and tricks that can turn you into an online private investigator. From send emails that self-destruct to seeking revenge on a laptop thief, these top tips will ensure you gain the upper hand online.

Ever fancied turning yourself into a digital spy? Perhaps it's emails that self destruct and leave no trace of your correspondence, getting back at those laptop thieves by rendering the stolen machine unusable or maybe its as simple as checking that recipients have actually read your emails. Whatever it is you're after, we've got 12 tricks to ensure you can behave like a private detective online. But if anyone asks, you didn't hear them from us.

Turn Wi-Fi thieves' worlds upside down

The problem: You took the time and expense to set up a wireless internet connection at your place. But you're pretty sure that the rotter next door is stealing it - that is, connecting to the internet on your dime. Sure, you could take the easy step of password-protecting your network, but what fun is settling for a little common-sense measure like that?

The trick: With the help of a lovely little service called Upside-Down-Ternet, you can turn that Wi-Fi thief's free internet scheme upside down, quite literally. With a little clever scripting, every image the thief views via your connection is flipped upside down on his monitor and mirrored, making web browsing difficult to say the least. You can also redirect every web request the thief makes to a particular site.

The effect: The trick takes a little work to set up right, but if you can pull it off, it works perfectly. And doing right by one's neighbour just makes you feel good inside.

Never be 'away' with your AIM bot

The problem: Some employers use IM clients to track their workers and ensure they're keeping their noses to the grindstone - but, hey, you don't like Big Brother staring over your shoulder.

The trick: Create your own AIM bot with the website RunABot. An AIM bot is an automated chat robot that resembles any other AIM user, and if you set it up well, it responds to messages like a real person. Once you register with RunABot, the site walks you through setting up your bare-bones bot; then it's up to you to make your bot believable.

The effect: In the time it takes to customise your bot to fool your boss in all situations, you could probably finish several work projects and earn a few promotions. With just a few minutes of setup time, however, the ‘hardworker' bot I put together can convincingly participate in simple workplace conversations.

NEXT PAGE: Making a laptop thief regret their actions

  1. Become an online private detective with these top tips
  2. Making a laptop thief regret their actions
  3. Find out if a recipient actually read your email
  4. More top tips
  5. Spoof your email address

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