Thursday, October 20, 2005

My Technologically Challenged Spousal Unit

Last night I sent S. a text message that said, “This message was sent from a sweet little iMac G4 that is glad to be home.”
After giving him a reasonable period to respond (45 seconds), I called him – landline to landline.

“Scott! Go get your cell phone.”

“Uh, o.k.”

“You’ve got a text message – read it, please.”

Sounds of big thumbs fumbling on little keys. After about 5 minutes he was able to access the message, but once he got to the message, he immediately realized that this meant that we got the computer back. As well as the printer, pressure washer, 2 tv’s (one is going to the ranch), printer, DVD player, and most importantly, my mother’s guitar.

We didn’t get back the fax/answering machine. My little bit of schadenfreude is that it never worked well, and the darn thing has a 60 page manual that we still have in our file o' manuals. The .22 rifle wasn’t recovered, either.

So, after exactly one month, this chapter is pretty much over (there may be some trial or hearing dates, but perhaps not).

Our next task (and this should be yours too, if you haven’t already done so) is to:
1. record all serial numbers
2. mark your driver’s license number (TX 000002 DL) on everything that is mark-able. UTPD has engravers on loan (or free?) for members of the University community, and I’m sure many other police departments do also.
3. take pictures of all valuables and write the date & serial number on the pictures.
4. keep copies of these records and pictures outside your home – i.e. your office or a safe deposit box.
(Thanks to Detective Tate for some of these suggestions. And a big thanks to Detective Tate and everyone else on his team for the hard work they did in this case!)

We had serial numbers for a lot of the items, but not all in one place, so we spent a lot of time getting the information together for the police department and insurance company. Having everything in one place would have saved a lot of time and stress.

Other things we are doing:
1. S. put locks on our back door gates – if someone really wants to get in they can, but we’re not going to make it very easy for them. He's going to make one of the gates stronger too (or perhaps replace it).
2. Adjust the dog door so no one can reach up and unlock the deadbolt.
3. We’re going to bring the Ford Ranger that they aren’t using in Ft. Worth to put in the carport here. I’ll alternate between taking the Ranger and my car to work, so that it won’t look like we are parking a car there to make it look like someone is there. (When we lived on Barton Hills Dr., we didn’t move one of our cars out of the carport at all, and after 6 months, someone came to the door and asked if we wanted to sell the car. So people notice when cars just sit there.)
4. We used to keep the radio on when we were gone – guess we’ll go back to doing that. Perhaps there’s a way to rig it so that when someone approaches the door, the radio goes on?
5. Alarm system? Perhaps we should get some sort of alarm system?

I’m open to suggestions, here – just click on “comments” below and add your security ideas.


gl. said...

congratulations, susan! that's such a relief (especially about the guitar!).

oddly enough, a security recommendation that may not have occurred to you is a regular backup system for your computers. if my laptop disappears i'll be sad, but i can replace it. eventually. but i can't replace everything -on- the laptop. offsite backups are best, of course, but even if you have another drive hidden elsewhere in the house, it might easily be overlooked. it's definitely worth the investment.

your local hardware store probably has a motion sensor designed to plug lights into, but you should be able to plug a radio into it just as well.

susanbrown said...

Yeah, I thought of that when I was looking at the gaping hole on our desk. Thank you for the reminder -- I said I was going to do that, and promptly didn't, so I just now put a few precious docs (Gilgamesh's Island, How I Met Your Parents, etc.) in my free account from school -- just a couple of clicks was all it takes. (If anyone from UT reads this, you have a free 150 MB on your Webspace.) (I think Scott's dad gave us a free year of .Mac, too -- should probably use it)

Good idea about the radio, too. (Now, if I can just find a "snarling dog" station!)

gl. said...

yes, .mac is a great idea if you're getting it for free! it can be automated to backup everything in your documents folder regularly, so you don't even have to think about it or make judgments about what's "precious enough" to keep (which i often find just keeps me from backing up anything at all :).