Faulty Laptop Batteries a Growing Concern
Wednesday, October 18, 2006:
David Milman's national computer repair company, Rescuecom, provides emergency assistance to lots of people, including traveling business executives. We chatted with Milman about a variety of issues, including faulty laptop batteries and their effect on computer-carrying airline passengers.
Given all the computer battery recalls, what's the most important thing for airline passengers to remember when they're taking along their laptops? When I was flying a week and a half ago, the TSA guy was more interested in taking my Crest and Scope, instead of my Sony laptop. We have people flying on airplanes with laptops with batteries in them that need to be returned and replaced, and they're haven't. That's a very big concern.
All you need is one battery to blow up on an airline to cause a big problem. A passenger shouldn't bring a laptop on a plane unless they've addressed the recall or go onto the plane with a power adapter. Something has to be done on this issue relatively soon. It would be horrible if something were to happen.What's the biggest problem tech-toting business execs face on the road?Many times they have their laptop connected to a network in their office. They want to make sure all their important documents and programs are in their laptop and the computer is fully charged. Many times a person will get on a plane and realize it's not fully charged. You also want to make sure it's secure, that your files are password-encrypted.
We had a customer in Philadelphia who had a bank account taken from their laptop. It actually happened while they were carrying their laptop around. A Wi-Fi connection can travel hundreds of feet. If it's not locked down and doesn't have the latest Windows updates on it, you can actually have somebody come into your computer.What's the most memorable call for help Rescuecom has fielded? In the spring, we had a call from northern Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C., where a Ph.D. student lost her thesis and it wasn't backed up. We spent two hours recovering the data. (Her cost: around $350.)As more people travel with laptops and other devices, do we all need to be reminded of the need for high-tech etiquette?When you're working on your laptop or listening to an in-flight movie, make sure your volume is turned down. I've seen people turn their computers on, and the Windows chime that comes on as the computer powers up wakes up the guy in the next seat. You wouldn't be screaming on a plane; you shouldn't have your electronic equipment making noise either.
-- Susan Todd
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