May 13, 2011

Stolen laptop recovered with help of technology, Twitter followers

Sean Power (or @seanpower) riveted the Twitterverse last night with his play-by-play of his efforts to use technology and the Twitter crowd to reclaim his stolen laptop.

His computer had been stolen days before in New York City and Sean had to fly to Canada in the meantime. But on his computer, he had free, open-source location-tracking software, called Prey, that alerted him when his laptop was being used. His laptop's webcam took pictures of the alleged thief, and tracked him as he surfed the Web, used Skype and even logged in to his bank account!

Sean ends up calling the guy and arranging for his computer to be given to two people, who apparently heard about the drama as it unfolded on Twitter, and offered to help Sean.

It's a crazy tale of high-tech and, um, crowdsourcing, I suppose, your stolen laptop's recovery. Hit up the links over in Geekwire to dig further into the story.

Here's a question: how popular is the Prey software today after Sean's story?

Here's their video of how the software works:

Prey Project introduction from Carlos Yaconi on Vimeo.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

November 15, 2010

Baltimore's ZeroChroma launches: unique cases for mobile devices

I did a Q&A with Brian Le Gette, original co-founder of 180s (you know the company that makes those funky behind-the-head ear warmers) and we talked about his latest venture: ZeroChroma.

Le Gette (below left) teamed up with Dave Reeb (right) to design a patent-pending collapsible swivel stand that pops out of the back of a flat case. The design has great potential for many different kinds of applications, but for now, Le Gette and Reeb are focused on the mobile device case market.


The pair are doing a product launch push this week and, early next year, their hope is that their cases for Apple iOS devices are stocked in the Apple Store and Best Buy.

For those investment banker types out there, ZeroChroma is a self-funded operation that's based here in the Baltimore area but does manufacturing in Taiwan. Le Gette said their goal is to keep the company small and nimble and largely "virtual" and "in the cloud." They don't have a fancy headquarters office yet, in other words.

So far, I've tried out their cases for the iPhone and iPad and have been impressed with their finish and functionality. I particularly appreciate the iPad case, which is flexible enough to rotate from portrait to landscape mode. If you find yourself watching a lot of video while sitting at a desk, or in an airplane, this case may be for you.


You can even lower the iPad to a gentle typing level, which is very useful for those of us who do a lot of typing on the iPad. The cases range in price from $35 to $70.


This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

June 21, 2010

World Cup: Live-streaming games a workplace 'time suck'

bio_ermis.jpg Ermis Sfakiyanudis is chief executive of Annapolis-based eTelemetry Inc., which makes computer gear that helps companies monitor and thwart employees' Internet use while they're on the clock.

He's also a huge soccer fan and the son of Greek immigrants who spent 90 minutes in the office last week streaming the Greece-Nigeria World Cup match on

The irony isn't lost on him.

"Three games a day, 90 minutes each, minimum. … It becomes a real time-suck," Sfakiyanudis said.

But of Greece's first-ever World Cup win, he added: "It was a pretty good game."

Lost productivity and network difficulties have become bigger issues for employers — especially as more workers watch streaming video and listen to Internet-based music — and the World Cup has been a huge workplace drain.

Sfakiyanudis is among countless people watching the world's biggest sporting event online, in many cases during the workday. Reports have trickled in from all across the globe about workplace productivity taking a dive during the World Cup.

Every World Cup match featuring Serbia's national team costs that country up to $28 million in lost productivity because of absent workers, according to economists contacted by the Associated Press.

South Africa, which is hosting the tournament, sold 1.1 million tickets to the matches, and economists there predict a significant drop in productivity for the monthlong event. In England, research firm Chartered Management Institute predicted as many as 40 percent of the working population will take sick leave to watch that country's team play its matches.

The World Cup isn't as popular in the United States, but the American team's progress still draws a lot of interest. Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based consulting firm, put together a top 10 list of productivity-sapping sports phenomena in the U.S. and ranked the World Cup as fourth. (The top three? The NCAA tournament, NFL fantasy football and the Super Bowl.)

In an unscientific poll on my BaltTech blog, the vast majority of respondents said they were watching World Cup matches on their workplace computers.

"There are a lot of people spending time watching the games," Sfakiyanudis said.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 4:58 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: For The Office, Geeks
Keep reading
Recent entries
About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

Baltimore Sun coverage
Sign up for FREE business alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for Business text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Charm City Current
Stay connected