Q - I usually work from home, but sometimes I enjoy going to my local coffee shop and doing my stuff there. There are times when I just have all my stuff sprawled out and need to use the restroom. Is there some type of software that'll tell me if anything gets stolen while I'm away for just a few minutes? I own a Macbook and an iPad, if that helps. Thanks!
A - Here's a short roundup of potential options:
THE "FEEL GOOD" OPTION: There's are number of software options out there, but one should avoid ones like PadLock, which causes a piercing alarm to go off whenever your iPad/iPhone is disconnected from your Macbook. The only problem is that it doesn't address the whole scenario if the thief ends up grabbing both devices, making the software pretty much useless. While some form of protection is good, it's best to have more than just a single security precaution, even if it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.
THE SLIGHTLY BETTER SOFTWARE OPTION: Of course, there's Apple's Find my iPhone/iPad service is probably the only reason we'd use their MobileMe's at all given the number of free options out there that provide similar cloud syncing features of the service. TUAW has a good write-up on how to set it up. (PS: A paid subscription is required for MobileMe service) The downside is that it's only used to track down items after it's stolen instead of prevention of the device getting stolen in the first place.
THE SLOWER, MORE SECURE OPTION: If you're looking for the best secure option, having a security lock is probably your best bet. Even if the thing isn't even properly locked, the impression of added security will deter most thieves.
OR... JUST ASK: For the most part, customers are just friendly folk enjoying their time there as well, doing work just like the rest of us. If you're just going to disappear for a few minutes, just ask a neighbor next to you to watch your stuff if they look like they're going to be there for a while. Chances are, others will notice the friendly gesture and will be wary of shady individuals if they try to do anything sneaky!
Got a gadget security tip for coffee shops, airports, and other public spaces? Let us know below!