Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

3/18/2009

Dead Man’s Switch

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Fun,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Dark Side,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:31 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

“If you’re reading this, I must already be dead…”

No, I’m not actually dead, something which no doubt has disappointed a number of people, including my ex-wife. However, as a single man with few attachments, it does occur to me that I could go missing for several days before anyone thought to look for me. What’s more, I can think of several people who wouldn’t be too broken up over my untimely demise. Besides my ex-wife, I mean.

So, what to do? We live in a modern age filled with technology and wonder, but also, a few modern problems. If I were to die unexpectedly, there are certain bits of information that it might be nice to pass on to the right folks. Things like security passwords and bank access information and the like. You know, all those clever logins and sign ons and “super sekret” passwords that we all have accumulating like so much karmic sedimentary rock in our oh, so very modern lives. These aren’t things I want just anyone to have, nor do I necessarily want anyone to have them just yet. For that matter, there may be things I want gone, too. Files that would be better deleted than passed on to scar loved ones and that sort of thing. So, again, what to do?

Well, someone has started a service called Death Switch. This is a service that gives you a login to an automated system which prompts you for a password on a regular schedule. If you don’t enter the password on schedule, it sends several addition, emergency-level queries to you and, if those go unanswered, fires off e-mail to the recipient of your choice. If you pay for an account, you can attach files and send the e-mail to multiple recipients.
Naturally, being the cheapskate that I am, I searched around a bit for other services. I mean, if I’m loose with what little money I have left, I won’t have much to leave behind, outside of a brilliant library and a fascinating personal journal. (Remember, kids, the juiciest bits of my life don’t really make it into this blog!) Well, what I found was another, free, service calling itself Dead Man’s Switch. Naturally, the service is somewhat more limited, but, again, it’s free. Oh, and I would assume that the level of security is somewhat less, too. Hey, you get what you pay for.

The only thing is, neither of these address the problem of files on a hard drive. Well, I have an answer for that, too. Now, this option is a little more “do-it-yourself” as it’s no longer supported by the author, but it does have the bonus of running right on your computer. Well, your Windows computer. Sorry, this is a Windows-only solution. The bit of freeware is called, not surprisingly, Dead Man’s Switch, though it was most often referred to as “DMS“. You can still download it for free from PC World, though and install it. I used it for quite some time when I was working someplace I didn’t trust. You see, this little doosie can be set to encrypt files, too. So, for instance, if you’re not dead, but you’ve been suddenly let go from a consulting gig, you can set this to run on your workstation and encrypt your files which you were forced to leave behind. Oh, sure, it may not be ethical, but, well, at least you know it can be done.

So, rest easy now, dear readers, and know that I can e-mail postings to this blog should the unthinkable happen. Hell, for all you know, it may have happened already and these posts are all just a sendmail shell script. With the Network Geek, almost anything is possible.
See you on the other side!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car."
   --Kenneth Tynan

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