Monday, March 03, 2008

My friends say she's a dumb blonde, but they don't know she dyes her hair

So here's a stupid quesiton:

(Or, at least, I'm assuming it's stupid. It may, in fact, be a wicked smart question, but I'm defaulting to my life-long habit of just presuming everyone else in the entire world to be smarter, cooler, and more competent than me. It saves time.)

What do I have to do to be "safe" with my computer when I go to a public wi-fi spot? Now that we have a babysitter coming on a regular basis (3 days a week, woo-hoo! For a couple hours, anyway.*) I would like to take my laptop to...say...a coffee shop (gasp!) and actually, you know, do stuff on the computer for a while. By myself. In public. With a latte.

What should I be doing so that I don't have some crazy Princeton student/hacker/mad genius stealing all my private info? I have FileVault. Is that enough? Am I safe-ish (from viruses, anyway) because I have a Mac and not a PC? I'm not going to be going crazy with the online shoe-shopping or anything (not in public, that is), but if I wanted to buy a book from Amazon, would it be a very very bad idea to do it on a public wi-fi hookup? Is there some way you can encrypt your transmissions?

I never use my computer in public because I'm so freaked out about not having performed the correct prophylactic procedure on it. I would like to take it out and about more (it is a friggin' laptop, after all), but I don't want to risk getting our identity stolen. Am I just being paranoid? Do all those people typing away in Panera know something I don't? Or are they taking foolish risks?

I need someone to just walk me through it, step by step.

I've tried searching on a couple different online forums for help with this, but most of the discussions are either waaaay over my head (mostly on the Mac users forums), or directed specifically at PC users.

As Nolan would say, "Need help!"

*I have to say, despite her absolute wonderfulness, I have mixed feelings about having Kathy (that's the babysitter's name) here three days a week. Even though it's only 9-12, I somehow feel like I'm cheating by having someone else take care of my child during regular working hours. Nolan is my job right now, right? So how many people have a pinch-hitter at their regular nine-to-five job? (Of course, to be fair to myself, I have to say Nolan is more than a nine-to-five job. I don't get a lunch break. Or vacation. I'm on call 24-7. So I do need some time to do other things, like mail packages and buy groceries.) There. I've just justified myself to myself.

Thanks for reading.


Adams said...

My solution has always been to have an identity not worth stealing. An identity that can only be IMPROVED by someone taking it over and messing around with it. Try that out. See if it works for you as well as it has for me!

thptpth said...

Hmm, yes. I went that route in NYC in ' works well but for the crippling anxiety I'd get when standing in the check-out line at the grocery store waiting to see if my card would be rejected for $38 worth of groceries...

Zach said...

I've worked in technology for ten years. What have I got to show for it in the way of useful knowledge to impart on others? Nothin'.

I can check with my techie roommate, though. He owns a Mac (or two), is uber paranoid about security, and is a genius.

He is also spending the entire month of March snowboarding in Tahoe. So you'll have to wait a few more weeks. The jerk.