Lost and Found

by Henry Farrell on May 9, 2010

About eight weeks ago I left my MacBook on the DC Metro. Not a wonderful experience, as you can imagine – especially as repeated calls to the Metro’s Lost & Found, advertisements on Craigslist with reward promised and other such measures failed to produce any results. But then, last week, I got a call from Ross Sirbaugh at “Computer Warehouse”:http://www.compwarehouse.webs.com/ in Falls Church. Someone had brought in the computer and asked them to reinstall the operating system. Ross smelled a rat, took a look at the machine, figured out my name and other details, then tracked me down and called me. And then, to put the icing on the cake, refused to accept any reward whatsoever for his pretty considerable efforts. So I figure the least I can do is to give a WWW shout-out to Ross and his colleagues at Computer Warehouse, for their willingness to go that extra mile and then a couple of miles again (please – don’t anyone tell the “Heritage Foundation”:http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2010/05/heritage-foundation-breaks-major-abuse-of-power-story.php though). I think it is a pretty safe surmise that if this is the level of due diligence that they exercise when they don’t have _any economic incentive whatsoever_ to do it, the level that they’ll exercise when they do have such incentive (because you’re paying ’em for something) must be super-duper awesome. So, go to Computer Warehouse for all your needs (it looked like they had some pretty good value in laptops – and clearly, their tech people are strongly recommended). Did I mention their name? “Computer Warehouse”:http://www.compwarehouse.webs.com/ – right on Leesburg Pike.

Also – in the spirit of locking the barn door after the horse has gone but to your very great surprise been returned later through the benevolence of strangers – recommendations for minimizing the pain of stolen machines.

(1) _Back Up Everything Important_ somewhere external. This is the one measure I did take – and the pain would have been far, _far_ greater had I lost my work along with the machine. I use “Sugarsync”:https://www.sugarsync.com/referral?rf=dvbii96jagjv0 which keeps the work documents on my various machines in sync with each other as well as giving me an online back up – others swear by DropBox, SpiderOak and other services.

(2) Make sure that your account is password protected. I didn’t do this – remarkably stupidly – but appear to have gotten away without loss of personal information. You shouldn’t take this risk. I won’t again.

(3) Set up a “firmware password”:http://support.apple.com/kb/ht1352 if you have a recently made Mac. Makes it much harder to wipe the OS.

(4) Consider buying anti-theftware like “Undercover”:http://www.orbicule.com/undercover/. Depending on your tolerance for risk, this may be too expensive for the benefits provided (me: my risk tolerance has decreased substantially since this happened to me).

Other suggestions or recommendations welcome in comments.

Nice work if you can get it

by John Q on May 9, 2010

This piece by Paul Campos makes the point, not for the first time, that Elena Kagan’s public record is so thin as to make it impossible to guess how she might decide as a Supreme Court judge. While this question is important, another strikes me.

How does someone whose vita contains “three scholarly articles, two shorter essays, two brief book reviews, and two other minor pieces”, and who had apparently never appeared in a courtroom before last year, get to be Dean of Harvard Law School and then US Solicitor-General[1]? Even confining myself to law journals and popular pieces on legal topics, I could match that track record. I once even exercised a quasi-judicial function in my career as a regulator, which is more than Kagan has done.

In view of Kagan’s apparently inevitable promotion, can I put myself forward as her replacement? I guess the Harvard gig is already taken, but I’m sure I’d be a great Solicitor-General. All my friends say I”m “brilliant”, and have “many remarkable qualities”. Some will even go as far as “scrupulously fair-minded” .

fn1. For comparison, here’s the publication list for Kathleen Sullivan, reputedly the runner-up for the S-G job.