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Redfaced professor made up scary story

Laptop thief called his bluff
Mon Apr 25 2005, 06:58
A BIOLOGY professor who attempted to scare the student who nicked his laptop into giving himself up may have exaggerated his story a tad.

Last week we told how University of California, Berkeley, professor, Jasper Rine tried to put the fear of god into the student who nicked his laptop by claiming it had all sorts of top secret government data on it. He warned that almost every James Bond in the world was hunting that laptop. He also said he knew who the thief was.

Since we ran that story, it has been picked up by ABC News in the States and debated on bog sites across the world.

Most techies consider that anyone could see that the Rine was telling porkies. One of the ways that Rine claimed he identified the tea leaf was by installing the same version of Windows on another computer. If the professor had attempted to use the same key to activate a copy of Windows, the activation servers would have denied him access.

Some of the technobabble that the professor spouted to out the thief was impressive, but has not been found to work well yet.

He claimed that there were passive trackers embedded in the bezel of laptop screens beside the wireless transmitters. Technology like this does sort of exist, but is rare and not used by anyone outside the Department of Energy.

He also claimed that the wireless card in the laptop triggered some location data. This is possible, but pretty unlikely.

In fact a University spokesman told ABC that Rine had indeed made the whole thing up to scare the student into handing over the laptop. The story has for some reason now been pulled from the ABC site, but can be found here. There might be a bit of a clue as to the way Rine operates in an article here, in which he says: "Although I have unlimited respect for facts, and delight in their discovery and appreciation, I have come to the obvious yet almost blasphemous view that, with respect to teaching, the facts just aren't that important."

Despite all the exaggeration, and threats, the thief has ignored Rine and has kept his laptop. Still it was worth a crack. µ


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