Ok, I admit. I lost gadgets due to theft. The last incident was especially painful to me because thieves were able to run off with the following devices: An Asus laptop, an iPad and a Blackberry.
I find the incident ironic because a few hours before the theft, I read about Prey, a free web-based service that tracks lost gadgets (laptops, phones, etc.) and I wasn't able to install it on my gadgets immediately. However, after getting replacements for most of the lost gear, I now have Prey installed on my new laptop (a Samsung R220) and my cellphone (HTC Desire).
Using Prey is quite simple. Register a free account at the Prey Project website, then install the Prey agents on your devices. And that's that! Once your gear gets lost of stolen, it is just a matter of logging on to the Prey website and flagging your device as "lost". Once you've flagged it as lost, you can do the following:
- Detect all active network connections (be it wired, wireless, etc.)
- Detect the name of nearby Wifi hotspots
- Detect the general location of the device
- Get screenshot of the current desktop (laptop only)
- Get list of running programs (laptop only)
- Capture image from the webcam (laptop only)
- Change the wallpaper and inform the current user that the device he/she is using is stolen/lost
- Make the device sound an alarm
- Lockdown the system until the Prey password is entered (laptop only)
I already tested Prey on my laptop and it works as advertised. I am still having trouble activating it on my Android phone but I'm sure I can work it out in time.
Prey is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. Support for other phone OS (iOS and presumably Symbian) is said to be in development.
UPDATE: Activating Prey on an Android phone turns out to be easy! Just text in your SMS Activation Message as it is shown on Prey's control console on the phone (if the message is shown in ALL CAPS, send the SMS as ALL CAPS too) and it Prey will "do its magic".