October 1, 2007

Always format your used laptops

Say what you will about the internet–it’s certainly helped narrow the line between “doing something stupid” and “doing something stupid in front of millions of witnesses who will now proceed to publicly mock you.” This week’s example comes from our friends in Canada, where a stolen laptop turned one poor sap with dubious tattoos into an instant online laughingstock.

A few days after his laptop was stolen from his office, a Vancouver man logged into his Flickr account to find several shirtless pictures of a mysterious tattooed stranger. Since he had set up his computer to automatically upload any new pictures to Flickr, it was fairly easy to conclude that the tattooed man was now in possession of the stolen laptop.

After the pictures sparked a worldwide online manhunt, the man finally came forward to return the laptop, claiming that he had purchased it from a friend and didn’t know it was stolen. Unfortunately for him, by this point it was too late to prevent nearly 300,000 people from viewing his unflattering, shirtless pictures, or to avoid the inevitable LOLTats that will undoubtedly haunt him for the rest of his adult life.

While this particular situation is fairly entertaining, I probably wouldn’t be laughing if I had unwittingly exposed something genuinely embarrassing for worldwide mockery after purchasing a used computer. I’ll be interested to see if tattoo man embraces his internet celebrity, or simply winds up serving as a sad, cautionary tale to always reformat when you buy a used computer.