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Mr. Know-It-All: Retrieving Your ****-Filled Laptop From Your Friend's Kid

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Old 07-07-2008
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Mr. Know-It-All: Retrieving Your ****-Filled Laptop From Your Friend's Kid
I recently gave my old laptop to a friend's 9-year-old daughter. Later, I remembered that I had left some risqué material hidden in an obscure folder. Should I ask for the laptop back or just hope the kid doesn't discover my stash?
Never bet against the inquisitiveness of a child. It might be next month, it might be next year, but eventually the girl will stumble upon your copy of Fondling Sarah Marshall. And when she does, her father may come looking for you with a tire iron. You needn't debase yourself in order to avoid such unpleasantness. "I think it's quite OK to say, 'Gosh, I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but I really need the computer back for a day— I left some important files on there,'" says Syndi Seid, founder of Advanced Etiquette, a San Francisco-based training company. Chances are your pal won't press the matter and ask about the nature of those files. If he does, just say they're "work related." He may see through the fib, but he'll likely let it slide — why embarrass the guy who graciously provided his daughter with a free (and soon-to-be ****-free) computer?
Next time, though, do a full hard-drive wipe and OS reinstall before donating your laptop. It's so easy to forget that Grinding Nemo is lurking somewhere in the Drivers folder.
I own a restaurant that just got panned on Yelp. The reviewer called my food "worse than off-brand gruel." I suspect it's a longtime foe with an ax to grind. What should I do about such a fraudulent slam?
Hell hath no fury like a restaurateur scorned, so your inclination is probably to demand that Yelp kill the review. But before you up the ante against your nemesis, consider the consequences of giving in to anger. Because, as Yoda taught us, anger ultimately leads to suffering—or, in your case, to more bad publicity.
No one enjoys being raked over the coals by a pseudonymous commentator, especially when the attacker is motivated by hostility rather than honest dissatisfaction or disagreement. But don't credit your detractor with too much influence. You need to trust in the sophistication of online-savvy consumers—specifically, their ability to see the big picture and factor out aberrant comments. "A single review won't make or break your business," says Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp's cofounder. And that's doubly true, he adds, if the offending one-star viewpoint is offset by a slew of four- and five-star raves. That "off-brand gruel" wisecrack, though nasty, is unlikely to cause your eatery any real harm—unless you are serving off-brand gruel.
Not sufficient comfort? You may still want the review deleted on principle. Yelp, like many other sites with user-generated content, has an appeals process designed to weed out truly malicious postings. If you succeed in expunging the slam, however, your enemy will know he got your goat. And when a bully finds a weakness, he exploits it. Another mean-spirited takedown will surely follow, and then another, and another.
Now's the time to nip that vicious cycle in the bud. Mr. Know-It-All recalls an ancient adage about turning the other cheek. Was that also Yoda? Smart guy.
Illustration: Christoph Niemann


Is it OK to Photoshop my wedding pictures before I post them on Flickr? I just want to do something about my crow's-feet.
As long as you don't go overboard with the improvements, tweaking your soon-to-be-Flickr'd pics is perfectly copacetic.
Professional wedding photographers, after all, regularly blot out blemishes. "I touch up photos so people look as good in their photographs as they did in real life," says Scott Kelby, editor of Photoshop User magazine, who has shot dozens of weddings. And while such modifications might be verboten in the ethics-constrained world of photojournalism, your nuptials aren't exactly front-page news—no matter what your mother says.
Need help navigating life in the 21st century? Email us at mrknowitall@wiredmag.com.


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