CyberNotes
Tutorial Thursday




Today we’ve got an amazing freeware application for Windows that actually serves two different purposes. Give a hardy welcome to LocatePC. First and foremost it will keep you informed of your computer’s whereabouts by sending you an email either on a daily basis or anytime the IP address of the machine changes. In the email it will give you all kinds of details that can help you track the PC’s location, such as the ISP it’s connected to and IP address of the machine.

What’s the other purpose it serves? Most of you are probably not paying to get a static IP address from your ISP, right? That means your IP address might change periodically, and this program can notify you via an email each time the IP changes. This isn’t a stated purpose of the application, but that was one of the first things that popped into my mind after I looked at some of the configuration options.

locatepc 1.png

It wasn’t too difficult to download and install LocatePC, but one problem I did run into is that it wouldn’t install without running it as an administrator on Vista. After I ran it as an administrator I was able to fly through the rest of the setup, which is pretty much just entering a password to protect the application. The end result is the screenshot you see above.

Remember, LocatePC is supposed to be discrete so that it couldn’t easily be found by someone if your computer was stolen. For that reason you won’t see anything in the System Tray, and the process name is slightly obscure making it hard to pinpoint when doing a quick visual scan. Don’t worry though, you can access the console at any time by pressing Alt+Shift+Home.

Now you’re ready to configure all of the email settings. This is pretty much a no-brainer, but might require you to setup a new email address since it only supports POP accounts that don’t use SSL. I know, that’s not optimal but you can easily go setup an AOL account that you’ll use only for sending the emails. You can have the notifications sent to any address you would like.

Here are the different configurations screens you’ll encounter (click on any screenshot to enlarge it):

  1. Email Account
    This is where you’ll enter in the details of the email account to use for sending the notifications. If you have a Yahoo! Plus account you can go ahead and use that, otherwise I would recommend just grabbing an AOL email account. If you use AOL or Yahoo it will automatically fill in a lot of the details for you.
    locatepc 2.png
  2. Email Message
    This is where you want to enter in the address to send the notifications to, and also any other information you want included in the email. Maybe enter in the model and serial number of the PC so that you don’t have to try and dig it out once the PC is stolen.
    locatepc 3.png
  3. Email Schedule
    Choose how often you want to receive the emails. By default it will send one email out everyday in addition to one if the IP address changes. It’s probably easiest to just have it send an email if the IP changes, which is the only other option available.
    locatepc 4.png
  4. Advanced
    Here you can configure some of the advanced settings such as the site used to get the trace route, the hotkey used to show the console, and where it obtains the IP address from.
    locatepc 5.png

And now you can enjoy the fruits of your labor! Whenever your IP address changes you should receive an email similar to this:

Message sent: 5/15/08 11:43:06 (universal time: 5/15/08 19:43:06)
Computer's host name: John_Desktop
Logged in Windows account name: John

Found 2 network connection(s) on this computer (this list may be incomplete):
1 Name: MyISP Type: Dialup modem Phone number: (555) 555-4321 User name: JSmith
2 Name: BigCo Type: PPPoE Service name: MySvc User name: (empty)

Computer's web IP address reported by ip.locatepc.com: 216.239.142.3
To learn more about this IP address, use the IP tests at www.dnsstuff.com.

Computer's local IP address(es):
Adapter 1 101.151.8.92

Computer's MAC address(es):
Adapter 1 (ZX-11 Ethernet): 00-21-54-17-64-26

Trace route to www.locatepc.com:
Hop Name/IP Addr
1 Router [101.151.2.1]
2 101.151.8.92
3 cust-quik.pdx.or.uspops.net [216.239.161.82]
4 fe1-1-300.gw0.pdx.or.uspops.net [216.239.161.81]
5 206-169-234-45.gen.twtelecom.net [206.169.234.45]
6 core-02-ge-3-1-0-508.ptld.twtelecom.net [66.192.248.108]

Identifying information (owner name/address, computer model/serial number):
This computer is the property of:
John Smith
123 Elm Street
Anyville, NY 12345

Computer brand: ABC
Computer model: Megazoom 10000

LocatePC Homepage