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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.

Make a laptop thief regret it

The problem: Every time you leave your table at the bookstore for another cup of coffee, you've got to choose what to do with your laptop. You'll only be gone for a few seconds, so lugging it with you is a pain. Still, the guy with a double espresso has been eyeing your gear since you sat down, and he looks like he could have sticky fingers.

The trick: Install an antitheft program on your laptop that monitors unusual behaviour when you're away, setting off an alarm whenever it detects a possible theft. The freeware Windows application Laptop Alarm sounds an alarm whenever your laptop's power cable is unplugged, the mouse is moved, or the laptop is shut down. Mac users should check out iAlertU, a freeware app that uses your MacBook's built-in accelerometer to set off the alarm and snag a webcam picture whenever someone so much as moves your laptop. You can smoothly disable the alarm with your Apple remote like a proper car alarm.

The effect: Under the right circumstances, these applications can be enough to deter a thief from running off with your laptop. Neither application is foolproof, however: Don't consider these apps as anything more than deterrents.

Spoof your caller ID

The problem: Before caller ID became standard on every phone, making an anonymous call meant little more than dialing the number. Today it's easy to screen calls and send unknown numbers to voicemail. If you're looking to make an old-fashioned prank call (heavy breathing optional) or simply surprise the person you're calling, the ubiquity of caller ID has ruined the fun.

The trick: SpoofCard is a caller ID spoofing services available online that not only hides your number from the recipient's caller ID, it also makes the call appear to be coming from another phone number altogether. Even better, you decide what number you want to show up when you call. Just give SpoofCard your number, the number you want to call, and the number you want to show up in the caller ID; SpoofCard takes care of rest.

The effect: SpoofCard was very easy to use, and it did exactly what it advertised. Sadly it's currently available to only US residents - watch this space.

NEXT PAGE: Find out if a recipient actually read your email

  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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