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 cheapskate next door is stealing it — that is, connecting to the Internet on your dime.
: 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 — 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 author of the hack suggests Kittenwar
The effect: The trick takes a little work to set up right, but if you can pull it off, it works perfectly.
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
The trick: Create your own AIM bot with the Web site 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 customize your bot to fool your boss in all situations, you could probably finish several work projects and earn a few promotions.
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 be gone for only 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 anti-theft program on your laptop that monitors unusual behavior 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: If you’re looking to make an old-fashioned prank call or simply surprise the person you’re calling, caller ID has ruined the fun.
: Several caller ID spoofing services are available online that not only hide your number from the recipient’s caller ID, they also make 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. At SpoofCard
, you can just give 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. SpoofCard offers free trial calls, which is probably enough for most users.
Did they read your e-mail? When?
The problem: You send out an important e-mail message reminding your co-worker to bring copies of your PowerPoint presentation to the big meeting. You get there, and he doesn’t have them. His excuse: He never got your e-mail. Possible, but questionable; anyway, you want to know for sure.
: Send messages you want to monitor through DidTheyReadIt
. The Web site embeds a tiny image in each e-mail it sends. When the e-mail is opened, the recipient’s e-mail client, in many cases, will automatically send a request for the embedded image; when that request is made, DidTheyRead then knows that the e-mail was indeed opened, when it was opened, and for how long it was open.
The effect: If you really need to be sure that someone received a particular message, DidTheyReadIt works as advertised. The only catch: If the recipient’s e-mail client doesn’t automatically download embedded images, DidTheyReadIt’s tracking mechanism may not work.
Crack a Windows passwordThe problem
: You lost your Windows password (or you want to discover someone else’s). Now you have no way to fully access your account without getting it back.The trick
: Download Ophcrack Live CD
and burn it to a disc; then restart your computer and boot from the CD. Point Ophcrack at the hard drive where Windows is installed, and it’ll start cracking your Windows password.The effect
: The shorter and simpler the Windows password, the more quickly and easily Ophcrack will break it. But Ophcrack can crack only alphanumeric passwords. If the password contains other characters or symbols (like “@”), Ophcrack won’t do the job.
Read books on the D.L. at work
The problem: Whether or not you’ve got any work to do, most employers frown on cracking a book at your desk.
The trick: The Web site Read at Work is a full-screen Flash application that mimics a Windows desktop and serves up public-domain works in a format that resembles PowerPoint presentations. Classics by Twain, Fitzgerald, Dickinson and Tolstoy are all yours to read on company time.
The effectiveness: To the casual onlooker, Read at Work convincingly looks like a standard Windows XP window. Whether or not your boss will believe that the Oscar Wilde you’re reading is actually a PowerPoint presentation depends on your boss. And it helps if reading PowerPoint presentations is actually part of your job.
Say it with self-destructing e-mail
The problem: E-mail is forever. If you fire off an angry or ill-thought-out message, the recipient could hold onto it — and hold it against you — indefinitely.
The trick: Send a self-destructing e-mail message by going to the Web site DestructingMessage. Just specify how much time you want to give the recipient before the message implodes (15 seconds to five minutes), write your message, and send it.
The effect: DestructingMessage can send the e-mail anonymously, or you can send a link to the message yourself. Either way, the recipient has a limited time to read it before it’s gone for good. If the recipient is quick on her feet, though, she could grab a screen shot before it’s gone forever.
Go straight to voicemailThe problem
: Everybody’s been there. You’d rather leave a voicemail than deal with a drawn-out phone conversation. Or you’re a coward with bad news to deliver.The trick
: SlyDial connects you directly with your contacts’ voicemail — whether they’ve got their phone turned on or not. Just dial 267-SLYDIAL, enter the number you want to leave a voicemail with, and then, when prompted, just leave your message.The effect
: SlyDial works exactly as advertised. Use SlyDial gratis as much as you want, but if you tire of the in-call advertising, premium plans get you to voicemail faster and ad-free. SlyDial voicemails, however, do not self-destruct — I guess they haven’t thought of that yet.