Portability: Using iBooks, PowerBooks, and MacBooks in the Field

Owning a portable computer is great. In the world of computing, mobility has its benefits. You can use your computer virtually anywhere, which is definitely splendid to channel a burst of creativity and produce work. Here are a few tips to learn how to use your portable for best results, sometimes for security purposes.

Description: The basics of portable use
Difficulty level: Easy
System version: Not applicable
Required: A portable computer

Whenever you go on the road, you are likely to have to use your portable in unexpected situations. Therefore, if you are short of anything, you may find yourself in embarrassing circumstances. If you are to give presentations, make sure that your have the right cables and adapters for standard projectors.

Visit a computer retailer or ask questions to someone you find knowledgeable. These people will tell you what kind of cable and adapter you are likely to need when you need to project your computer’s image on another screen. A retailer can usually sell it to you on the spot, so it is a good option if you want to make a preventive purchase.

Apply this tip to all the other potential uses of your portable. If you have a modem, always keep a phone cord handy. If you are likely to use work files, always put more files on your hard drive than you need – just in case you could need any of them. It is the right attitude when you travel with a computer. It is always better than saying, “Darn, that cable is sitting on my desk at home!”

Theft is, of course, the number one threat to your portable. What about a security system with a steel cable? If you have one, do not take its efficacy for granted. Thieves find ways to break physical security systems such as locks. In my opinion, a good dose of awareness is your best bet to make sure that nobody can steal your portable. Keep your portable within arm’s reach whenever you go to places where you think that someone might be tempted to take your precious one away. If this is not enough, learn karate. :-)

On a serious note, use a discreet computer bag. Typical businesslike bags scream, “Please mug me, I’m carrying expensive portable hardware.” If fashion is relaxed enough in the location you live in, carry your portable in a classy-looking backpack. I roam around Montreal with my iBook in my backpack, and only someone with X-ray vision could guess that a computer sits in there. It makes potential thieves unaware that I own the object they lust after.

If you are concerned with access to your computer in public or at home, always take security measures. Use the Multiple Users technology if you want to be the only one to access your files. In the Multiple Users control panel, create an account, set it up, and turn multiple users accounts on. Restart. From now on, you will have to log in to access your computer. You can log out (go to the Special menu in the Finder to do this) if you are about to leave your computer for a few minutes in an environment where you fear snoops instead of thieves.

You can do a similar thing with a screen saver. A good screen saver allows you to set up a password for your computer to grant (or refuse) access when waking up. All you need to do is to turn the screen saver on for that small annoying layer of security to keep that naughty secretary away from your critical files.

If you feel that someone could snoop anyway, you can encrypt your most confidential files. In the Finder, select the file to encrypt by clicking once on it. Go to the File menu and select Encrypt. You will have to enter a passphrase, which will be required to open the file once encrypted. Do not add the password to the Keychain, since an open Keychain will provide the password all by itself!

The last tip is about input devices. The trackpad that’s present on most Apple portables is rather lousy, in my opinion. You can get used to it, but carrying a mouse with your portable can be a great idea. If you are looking for a good portable USB mouse, you can, for example, look at the Contour MiniPro mouse. It is a small optical mouse that ships with a sturdy carrying case. I use it day in and day out, and it works just fine.

Keywords: #laptopsecurity #notebooksecurity

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