Prey is a free open source program which you install onto your laptop to help recover it in case of theft. The software sends timed email reports of its state to an email address you supply and also can take webcam shots if the notebook has an inegrated camera. It works on Windows, Linux and Mac, and is something that could be long-shot useful in the right circumstances. Hey, what have you got to lose, right? [via Metafilter]
When you install Prey, you set up an email address and optionally a URL (i.e. http://mypage.com/stolen_laptop). Prey runs at a specified interval and checks the URL you previously defined. If the URL exists, Prey will gather the information and send it to the email address you set up. You can also not define a URL and in that case the program will send the data every time it runs. Of course, Prey needs to have an active Internet connection to send the information. If the computer isn’t connected, Prey will attempt to connect to the first public Wifi access point available.