Tag Archive for laptops

Homeland Security and Laptop Searches

Image from ARS Technica

Image from ARS Technica. (Click image for article)

This past Thursday, August 27, 2009, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced new directives to enhance and clarify oversight for searches of computers and other electronic media at U.S. ports of entry. New guidelines are being designed to reinforce the Department’s efforts to combat crime and terrorism while protecting personal right’s to privacy and civil liberties.

The new directives and guidelines will “enhance transparency, accountability and oversight” of searches at borders, airports, and other ports of entry to the U.S.  Included are new administrative procedures “designed to ensure that officers and agents understand their responsibilities to protect individual private information and that individuals understand their rights.”

Airport laptop search. Image from Center for American Progress.

Airport laptop search. Image from Center for American Progress. (Click image for article)

The DHS further stated that searches are permitted by law and are not restricted to detection of terrorist plans, but are also necessary to uncover possession of child pornography and criminal possession of intellectual property, trademark and copyright infringement.

You can read three reports made available by the government along with this recent announcement. First, the DHS Privacy Office released a Privacy Impact Assessment, which is also available at www.dhs.gov/privacy. This document is designed to improve the public’s understanding of the authorities, policies, and procedures used during searches. It also let’s them know what is being done to protect individuals’ privacy.

(In a related story, the DHS Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) will also conduct a “Civil Liberties Impact Assessment” within 120 days.)

Next, additional reports were released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  Their guidelines also made mention of searches of iPods and other digital media players, as well as video and digital cameras. Click the links to see the PDFs of the reports.

laptop searchThis is all well and good, but I was a little surprised to learn that out of the 221,000,000 (that’s 221 million) travellers that crossed U.S. borders in the last 10 months that only 1,000 laptops were searched in this period, and that less than 50 of those searches were in depth. That’s about 3 laptops a day being checked out. Typically, the laptop wner is asked to turn on the laptop and demonstrate that it is a working computer, but apparently there are at least 3 PCs a day that require a little bit more scrutiny.

Have you had your camera, iPod, or laptop searched while you were travelling and out of the US? Tell me your story. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d like to hear it.

Do I have wireless on my laptop?

A reader sent the following messages the other day on Twitter:

I am almost certain my laptop doesn’t have a wireless card.
How can I check whether I have a wireless adapter?
If I don’t, which one should I purchase?
Tell me how to check if there’s a wireless card internal.

My first suggestion was to go to the manufacturer’s web site and look up the model number of the laptop, but once they asked how to check the laptop directly, this is the approach I suggested:

Assuming you have a Windows computer, try this:

  1. Click Start > Control Panel > System
  2. Click Hardware > Device Manager
  3. Click the “+” by “Network Adapters”
  4. See if a “wireless” device is listed.

The common wireless designations/varieties are B, G, and N. G being the oldest form, and N the newest. (No, N is not for New. At least, I don’t think so. Anybody know?) Many of the newer ones are backwards compatible, so a G can receive B and G, and many N’s can receive all 3. N adapters are a little expensive, and if the wireless router/transmitter isn’t using N, then there is no advantage. So, I usually recommend getting a Wireless G adapter.

Most wireless adapters are about the same in price. I’d recommend getting one that supports Wireless B and G. You can either get them with a PCMCIA connection or a USB connector. USB is the most versatile. Linksys and D-Link are good wireless adapters. They cost about $40 to $60 at Best Buy or Staples.


I am an avid proponent of wireless security. I also prefer wired connections over wireless connections. In urban and suburban areas there are too many sources of interference from other wireless devices, neighboring wireless networks, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices, and microwave ovens. So if you intend on using wireless frequently, I recommend installing Network Magic from Pure Networks (A Cisco company) on your laptop. If you are using wireless at home, you can install it on any other computers in your household. I have seen Network Magic solve countless problems with home wireless networks.

Network Magic 20% Off NMEASY coupon code spring banner 468x60

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Dell’s Four Hour Sale Today Only (Get ’em in Pink)

Yesterday I received an odd email from Dell. Not odd in the sense that I doubted its authenticity, but odd in the sense of what the message was promoting:

A Four Hour Sale on laptops for today, Wednesday, Feb. 24.

The sale starts at 2 PM CST and ends at 6 PM CST on the aforementioned date. They are promoting 3 laptops in particular:

inspiron1420The Dell Inspiron 1420 laptop: For this laptop they said “Hurry 4 hours only! Save $245 on this Inspiron 1420 laptop. Now just $499 after instant discount. Offer ends 2/24/09 6:00 PM CT.” Give it a click if you’re interested in taking a look-see. It’s available in 5 different colors: Pink ($5 is sent to Susan G Komen for the Cure), Brown, Red, Blue, and Green. It has an Intel Pentium Dual Core  processor (Technically speaking it has 1.86GHz clock speed, operates on a 533Mhz Front System Bus, and has a 1MB cache on the chip). It has a 14.1 inch screen, a hefty 3 GB of RAM (Memory) and a good sized 160 GB hard drive for holding all your files. It runs on Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition which isn’t all as bad as people make it out to be. For productivity it comes with Microsoft Works. If you need to burn discs it has a CD / DVD writer (DVD+/-RW Drive). For your Internet it has the standard Wired and Wireless 802.11g Mini Card found in many laptops today. A friend of mine has one of these computers and he keeps it in the kitchen for the whole family to use.

xps-m1330The Dell XPS M1330 laptop is built for gaming. Throw away the home dektop because this is all the computer many people will ever need.  It comes in Pink ($5 to Susan G Komen for the Cure), Tuxedo Black and Midnight Blue. It runs on Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64 bit edition (that means extra processing power over the traditional 32 bit systems) with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor (It’s the T6600 with a 2.2GHz clock speed, a 800Mhz Front System Bus (FSB), and a 2MB cache on the chip to speed up procesing jobs). It comes with a 2.0 Megapixel Webcam built-in, with 4GB DDR2 SD RAM (Memory), a huge 320GB SATA Hard Drive, a CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW Drive) and wired and wireless internet capability. As I said, this is a gaming computer and it comes with a NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS video adapter with 128 MB of video RAM. It’s also good for video wherever you go, and it has a long lasting 56Whr Lithium Ion Battery, High Definition Audio, and Bluetooth connectivity.  Hot stuff. And lest I forget: Hurry 4 hours only! Save $250 on this XPS M1330 laptop. Now just $799 after instant discount. Offer ends 2/24/09 6:00 PM CT.

inspiron1525The Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop. Ah, the trusty Inspiron 1525.  It’s coming to the end of its online model life, and will soon be replaced by the Inspiron 15 Feb 26 as a matter of fact), and its going out in style with a Limited Time Offer of a Free Memory and Hard Drive Upgrade! Colorwise, it comes in Jet Black, Promise Pink (No extra cost and Dell will donate $5.00 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure), Midnight Blue, Espresso Brown, Chill Pattern, and the sexy Street Pattern (shown). But it’s what’s on the inside that counts: Intel Core 2 Duo processor (The T6400 with a 2.0GHz clock speed, 800Mhz FSB (Front System Bus), and 2MB cache on the chip), Windows Vista Home Basic Edition SP1, Microsoft Works, a Glossy, widescreen 15.4 inch display (1280×800), 3GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 RAM (Memory), a 320GB SATA Hard Drive, a CD / DVD Writer (DVD+/-RW Drive), Wireless Internet through a 802.11g Mini-Card, Bluetooth connectivity, High Definition Audio, Dell Remote Access for  free basic service, and 2 GB Dell Online Backup for 1 year ot keep your important files safe and sound. Find out more with the link that follows: Hurry 4 hours only! Save $315 on this Inspiron 1525 laptop. Now just $549 after instant discount. Offer ends 2/24/09 6:00 PM CT.

Thanks for your attention! See you soon!

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Weekend Quickies from Dell

Here are a few fleeting offers from Dell. They expire 6:00 AM Monday, Jan. 5.

Cyber Monday Deals from TigerDirect

Need something to do during your lunch break? Here are some more Cyber-Monday savings to check out today. These come from my fave, TigerDirect.com. $1.99* Shipping ON ALL ORDERS OVER $100 this week. This promotion ends on 12/5/08. The shipping offer is valid on all orders over $100 and under 35lbs. within the contiguous lower 48 states via Ground Shipping.

Plus, in my never ending quest to get every PC virus-protected: FREE 2009 (5-USER) Computer Associates (CA) INTERNET SECURITY SUITE w/Purchase of any Desktop or Laptop, Today ONLY!

They have a lot of great bargains to watch out for. Use the links below to get the deals, and TigerDirect will send me a little thank you gift for the holidays.

Computers and Laptops

LCD Monitors and TVs



For a full page ad of deals, click here.

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Last Day of Dell’s “10 Days of Deals”

Today is the last day for Dell’s “10 Days of Deals”.  Click the image at right to check them out. Today’s specials are:

Sling Media Slingbox Solo: Reg. $179, Today only $149! Watch and control your favorite TV source with the Slingbox Solo that ensures TV entertainment – anywhere you go! Plus you can cut clips from your favorite programs and share them online with family and friends. Using an Internet connected computer or compatible mobile phone, you can watch and control your home TV, DVR, digital cable box, or satellite receiver anywhere around your home. Additionally, it comes bundled with AC Adapter, Ethernet/Network Cable, Composite AV Cable, Remote Control IR Cable. With a Slingbox Solo, you will never be separated from your favorite TV shows, sports broadcasts, breaking news stories, digital video recordings, or video on demand!

Sony Bravia 52″ LCD HDTV: Reg. $2,799, today only $2,199! Enhance your digital home entertainment with the Bravia 52″ LCD HDTV from Sony. This TV incorporates Advanced Contrast Enhancer (ACE) which uses real-time image processing to dynamically adjust backlight levels for improved contrast without masking details. It also features Motionflow technology that uses special algorithms designed to reduce judder and deliver a smoother, sharper picture with more natural motion of the original film. Additionally, the TV works on the BRAVIA Engine to reduce noise and produce sharp, vibrant, life-like images. Its Digital Media Extender (DMe ) offers a digital connection path for Internet Video Link, as well as other modules you can add in the future.

XPS M1530 Laptop: Reg. $1,600, today, only $1,099! Includes an Intel® Core 2 Duo Processor T8300 (2.4GHz/800Mhz FSB, 3MB Cache), Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium Edition SP1, 2Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis, High Resolution, glossy widescreen 15.4 inch LCD & 2MP Camera, 4GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz, 320GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive, Slot Load DVD+/-RW (DVD/CD read/write), 256MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT video adapter, Dell Wireless 1395 802.11g Mini Card, High Definition Audio 2.0, amd a Finger Print Reader. Personalize with software & accessories, McAfee SecurityCenter 15-months, Dell Online Backup 30GB for 1 year, and more.

Inspiron 1525 Laptop: Reg. $678, today only $499! Incloudes an Intel® Celeron® 550 (2.0GHz, 533Mhz, 1M L2 Cache), Genuine Windows Vista® Home Basic Edition SP1, Microsoft® Works Plus 2008, 1Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty and Mail In Service, Glossy, widescreen 15.4 inch display, 2GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 at 667MHz, 120GB SATA Hard Drive, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X3100, CD / DVD Writer (DVD+/-RW Drive), Dell Wireless 1395 802.11g Mini-Card, and High Definition Audio 2.0. Other options and upgrades available. (Picture shows special edition artwork by New York City artist Mike Ming. http://www.mikeming.com/)

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Limited Time Coupons for Dell

Skylarking is happy to be able to offer you the following coupons for special savings on merchandise from Dell. Some of these coupon offers are expiring soon, so act now and save!  Just click the links, select my recommended upgrades, and enter the coupon codes provided below at checkout.

New Desktops!

Inspiron 518

Inspiron 518

Save 25% on Dell desktop computers costing $1049 or more! Including the Inspiron 518!
This offer ends October 10, 2008.

The Inspiron 518 has an Intel Core 2 Quad CPU (6MB, 2.46GHz, 1066FSB), with Windows Vista Home Premium installed, 3GB of RAM (Memory), a massive 320GB SATA Hard Drive (Storage), a DVD ReWritable Drive, an ATI Radeon HD 3450 video card supporting HDMI, and an 7.1 Channel Audio system. Start with the $700 model, add memory and upgrade CPU. Save 25% on Inspiron desktop purchases over $1049 (excludes order code DDDAOG4)! Includes Inspiron 518! Coupon Code: KJH3JB4KDNFLMP

New Laptops!

Inspiron 13 Laptop

Inspiron 13 Laptop

Save 20% on all Inspiron laptops over $999! Including the Inspiron 13!
This offer is good until October 31, 2008.
Coupon Code: 6ZLB?LZRMBW?MZ

The Inspiron 13 laptop comes in Pacific Blue with an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU (2.00GHz/667Mhz FSB/2MB cache), Windows Vista Home Premium installed, Glossy, widescreen 13.3″ LCD (1280×800) w/o Camera, 2GB RAM (Memory), a 160GB SATA Hard Drive, 8X Slot Load CD/DVD Burner, and wireless Internet  802.11g Mini-Card. Upgrade the CPU, the memory, and hard drive to get the price. Save 20% on all Inspiron™ laptop purchases over $999! Now includes the Inspiron 13! Coupon Code: 6ZLB?LZRMBW?MZ


$30 off Silver PowerShot SD1100 IS, 8 Mega-pixel, 3X Zoom Digital Camera! MSRP: $179
This offer expires on October 16, 2008.
Coupon Code: ?ZZL7GW20P5$SK
$30 off PowerShot SD1100 IS Swing Silver 8.0 MP 3X Zoom Digital Camera! Coupon Code: ?ZZL7GW20P5$SK
$80 off EOS Rebel XSi, Black, 12.2 MP, 3X Zoom Digital Camera! MSRP: $799
This offer expires on October 16, 2008.
Coupon Code: SZT8CS0RVR2HMJ
$80 off EOS Rebel XSi Black 12.2 MP 3X Zoom Digital Camera! Coupon Code: SZT8CS0RVR2HMJ
$90 off EOS Rebel XS, Black, 10.1 MP, 3X Zoom Digital SLR Camera! MSRP: $669
This offer expires on October 17, 2008.
Coupon Code: F84QX0P4WF41TJ
$90 off EOS Rebel XS Black 10.1 MP 3X Zoom Digital SLR Camera- Coupon Code: F84QX0P4WF41TJ
$80 off Brown Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07T
This offer is good through October 10, 2008 or while supplies last.
Coupon Code: 8D3Z9KJGFGZGD8
$80 off Brown Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07T w/ coupon code 8D3Z9KJGFGZGD8

Refurbished Computer Offers:

20% off any refurbished Studio 15 laptop computer over $499 (before tax, fees, s&h)
One day only! Ends October 8, 2008.
Coupon Code: 43XPVC$1ZXXQC3
20% off any refurbished Studio™ 15 laptop computer priced at or above $499 (before tax, fees, s&h) Coupon Code: 43XPVC$1ZXXQC3

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