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Security Transportation United States News

Science Fair Entry Shuts Down Airport Terminal 380

Posted by Soulskill
from the baking-soda-volcanoes-impress-the-stewardesses dept.
OverTheGeicoE writes "A graduate student was returning home from a science fair in Omaha with his handmade entry in his carry-on luggage. When the TSA discovered it, they shut down the airport terminal for several hours, until they could determine it was harmless. All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again, so before you fly with your homemade Minty MP3 player, make sure you take a look at TSA Blogger Bob's warning or it could wind up looking like this."
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Science Fair Entry Shuts Down Airport Terminal

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  • Who gives a fuck? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 08, 2011 @05:47PM (#37027278)

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    • ...idiots.

      Seriously stupid people who couldn't pour piss out a boot if it weren't for the instructions on the heel.

      • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:14PM (#37027540) Journal

        Of course it is. But that is completely besides the point.

        In this case, something unknown was called "scary" and thus "a threat" because they were idiots. This is lowest common denominator thinking at its finest. They want Sheeple who will obey even the most stupid of requests that have no basis for except for the security theater that we have.

        And enough people WANT the security theater or worse, don't give a shit either way, that they hand over their lives to the very same idiots making such stupid decisions as this, and the poor lady that had her insulin confiscated because it violated the "liquid" ban policy.

        These cases will continue until such time as we comply to their every rule. Ensuring we are the sheeple they want us to be. This is why more people out to cry out loudly and go to jail exposing these tyrants with badges every chance they get. If 10,000 people did this every day, they'd change the rules.

    • by geekmux (1040042) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:07PM (#37027462)

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      I just love it when people quote entire passages from our historical documents in some sort of futile effort to try and remind all of us of our "Rights", like they actually exist anymore.

      It's almost as futile as replying to AC posts.

      • Rights are inherent, and exist independently of any government. The Constitution does not grant rights; it doesn't even promise to protect them. It just says that the Federal government promises not to violate certain rights enumerated in the Constitution. Whether or not they've kept that promise is a different issue.
        • by roman_mir (125474)

          actually it's not a simple promise, it's the foundation of the Union I believe, as the States had to ratify that particular historic document in order to agree to the federation. So the only question remains: how much longer before it's dissolved, because the contract has been not just completely broken, but crowds of people walked all over it, took a dump on it and used parts of it as toilet paper.

          • by AK Marc (707885)
            Nope. The US predated the Constitution. Go back to elementary school history and try again.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by S.O.B. (136083)

          The founding fathers did a job on you. There are no "inherent" or "natural" rights independent of any government. That's a bunch of philosophical rhetoric that they used to sell The Constitution. It looks great on paper but in the absence of government or society it's not even worth wiping your bum with it.

          In the real world, in the absence of government, I could walk up to you and smash you in the head with a rock killing you and then take everything you have without consequence. There's your "inherent"

          • by interactive_civilian (205158) <> on Monday August 08, 2011 @08:26PM (#37028586) Homepage Journal

            In the real world, in the absence of government, I could walk up to you and smash you in the head with a rock killing you and then take everything you have without consequence. There's your "inherent" rights.

            That is only true in isolation; that is, only if you and your victim are the only people to witness. Otherwise, there will probably be consequences. Do that to someone in your same hypothetical absence of government in front of the victim's friends or family or other such group that we humans have evolved to form so readily, and I highly doubt that you would be walking away "without consequence".

            So called "inherent rights" and "natural rights" are not necessarily, clear, discrete properties of an organism or a person or however you are defining us. Rather, they are more like emergent properties that will emerge naturally from being the gregarious social organism we have evolved to be. Rights appear because of the "social contract" of being such an organism.

            And if you still think those rights are "inherent" then I suggest you take a trip to Somalia or Afghanistan or Syria or Bahrain.

            And if you think in such a place a person can do anything like you suggested in your hypothetical example, you are also much mistaken. There will be consequences. Take away someone's "right to life" and unjustly kill them in front of anyone, friend or family or other, who thinks fondly of them for feels you are being unjust, and you may just find there are consequences to infringing on someone's so-called rights.

        • by McDrewbie (530348)

          Rights are inherent, and exist independently of any government. The Constitution does not grant rights; it doesn't even promise to protect them. It just says that the Federal government promises not to violate certain rights enumerated in the Constitution. Whether or not they've kept that promise is a different issue.

          no right is inherent. That is just wishful thinking.

          • by Fjandr (66656)

            So, in the absence of laws against murder, it's alright to murder someone just because you want to?

            "Inherent" doesn't mean you have protection against being murdered. It's an abstract concept, not a description of something tangible or functional. Unfortunately, many people cannot grasp theory and separate it from what they see in the physical world. Abstract concepts do not necessarily align completely with actual practice. "Inherent" is an assumption about the nature of a thing. It has very little practic

    • if you read the news story, it's pretty light on details.

      There are pretty good reasonable reasons why you might get searched and seized. Until we get more details about what the fuck happened, it's really asinine to just quote the 4th Amendment.

      BTW, if you read the TSA blog entry, the Minty MP3 player got blown up because someone left a weird box full of wires, plugs and batteries unattended in an airport.

      • by pete6677 (681676)

        That's pretty much the trend in nearly ALL modern journalism: light on the details, heavy on the inflammatory rhetoric.

  • .. but a cursory glance at the device makes me think "This is some kid's electronics project."

    The only thing in the photo that looks 'odd' is the wooden box, which is obviously (knowing that it's an MP3 player) the speaker.

    The "after" photo looks like the TSA decided to be dicks after they figured out it lacked any kind of explosive capability.

    • by djlemma (1053860)
      I don't think the item they took from the Grad student was an mp3 player. I think it was some other sort of electronic doodad- although the summary makes it confusing by posting past examples of the evils of the mintyboost. I do rather wonder what the Doctoral student thought about his work being destroyed in the name of security- it'll probably make for an interesting chapter in his thesis.
    • by nbauman (624611)

      Obviously it's an empty Altoids can. Everybody knows that empty Altoids cans are used for electronic cases.

      What are Altoids used for, anyway?

    • by DrgnDancer (137700) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:18PM (#37027586) Homepage

      Honestly? As someone who has seen real improvised explosive devices? It kinda looks like one. It also looks like any of about a million other possible home electronics kits stuck into a mint tin, but a bomb is definitely one possibility. Important point to remember here is that many of the people that make this sort of thing aren't terribly good at it. Especially if they just plan to make and use the one. Small devices like this are a lot less common than they used to be in the major theaters (Iraq and Afghanistan) these days from what I understand, but we were trained to look for stuff just like this (common household goods with suspicious wiring/electronics) and found a few that would have taken off a hand or leg, or disabled a wheeled vehicle.

      Thankfully most of the cheap homemade jobs don't actually explode, but a few do. I can see caution at least. Seems like they could just get him to turn in on in an isolated spot though. Couldn't be enough explosives in that to hurt anyone more than a few feet away.

      • by statusbar (314703) <> on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:32PM (#37027706) Homepage Journal

        You know, all the device needs to do is LOOK like how a dangerous device might look like to an untrained individual. Then the person would wave it around and threaten things. Also, why does it need to be looking like an improvised explosive device? it could be looking like an improvised GPS/Radar/Radio/Cockpit jammer.

        Rule #1 in first year engineering courses should be "Don't take your prototype on an airplane"


      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        "as someone who has seen real improvised explosive devices? It kinda looks like one."
        Fair enough. I understand why a couple boxes with wires and odd looking kludged together electronics can look like a bomb under xray.
        Here's what I have a problem with: These people said "This looks like a bomb". They then proceeded to take this object out of the suitcase, open parts of the device, arrange it on the table, put a paper ruler under the device, and take a picture of it, before conducting any render-safe oper

        • What if this had been a real explosive device? They could easily have set this thing off in the terminal with all their prodding and poking, causing numerous casualties.

          Since they have never, in the entire history of the TSA, encountered a real explosive device, its pretty low risk for them to screw around with whatever they do find.

        • by Idarubicin (579475) <> on Monday August 08, 2011 @09:39PM (#37028950) Journal

          These people are fucking idiots. Are they trained to go poking around devices that look like bombs? I thought that SOP for something that looked like a bomb was as follows:

          The Slashdot post is poorly - indeed, deceptively - written. What the actual article says is: "X-ray screening workers spotted the science project in a carry-on bag...Out of an abundance of caution, screening operations were suspended and the terminal was evacuated...The Omaha Police Department's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit cleared the item with negative findings."

          In other words, exactly what you think is supposed to happen, happened. The screeners called the bomb squad and got everyone else out of the way. After the bomb squad cleared the device, they took photographs. Presumably they did so because they want to be able to communicate to their colleagues what happened in this relatively unusual incident, and hopefully they want to learn from it.

          On the other hand, if they realized that this was not an explosive device then they should not have blown the thing up. They either handled a potential IED in a remarkably unsafe manner or they knowingly detonated a safe object. Either way, the TSA has proven their incompetence.

          The blown-up Altoids tin shown in the other linked blog was from a case where a bag was left unattended with the device inside. In that case, the bomb squad couldn't determine with complete confidence that the device seen on the x-ray was harmless, so they blew it up as a precaution. In that case, no one fiddled with the object in order to take pictures before the detonation.

          While I'm no fan of the TSA, they don't deserve the particular and specific scorn you're heaping on them based on your reading of the sloppy Slashdot summary (and your failure to read the linked articles).

      • Honestly? As someone who has seen real improvised explosive devices? It kinda looks like one.

        More correctly ... SOME improvised explosive devices have home-made electronics as components.

        Others, such as the shoe bomber's and captain underpants', do not.

        Home-made electronics do NOT look like IEDs.
        Some IEDs contain home-made electronics.

        The difference is important when you compare the number of times home-made electronics have been mistaken for IEDs versus the number of IEDs that have been caught being smuggl

      • Context (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pavon (30274) on Monday August 08, 2011 @07:56PM (#37028410)

        Yeah, the real problem here is that the governmet has decided to take reasoning that makes perfect sense in a war zone and apply it to our communities.

        At places where IEDs are a common and real threat to soldiers, it makes sense to treat any jury-rigged wiring as a potential IED. In a country that has millions of people flying every year without a single actual incident of a bomb, it doesn't.

        Same with all the no-knock raids that end up killing innocent people. It is perfectly reasonable for the resident to have a gun in hand when responding to someone busting into his house at night. It is also perfectly reasonable for a cop to defend himself. The problem is the idiots in the police department that think it is a good idea have our cops act like soldiers in a war-zone, just to enforce laws which aren't a life-and-death matter.

    • by rickb928 (945187)

      They used to make you take your laptop out and turn it on to prove it wansn't a bomb. Proving of course either that it wasn't, or that they detonated it at the security gate instead of on the plane.

      So this kid has what is a magnificently dangerous-looking gizmo, and they can't ask him what it is, let him demonstrate it, and get over the drama?

      Next time I fly east, I'm going seperate from my wife and bringing along a MintyBoost and maybe TV-B-Gone. I'm beginning to accept just how incredibly failed this se

    • The unabomber used wooden boxes If was a scanner after seeing some like that would tell some one that I have some thing that looks like a bomb.

      • by jd2112 (1535857)

        The unabomber used wooden boxes If was a scanner after seeing some like that would tell some one that I have some thing that looks like a bomb.

        TSA Training Lession 1: If it's not a flag, it's a bomb.

    • by jmcharry (608079)

      That wasn't an "after" picture of the device under discussion, but of something else they claim to have blown up, and showed as a warning to be clear what you are bringing with you.

  • by mingot (665080) on Monday August 08, 2011 @05:51PM (#37027326)
    Listen when he explains the FOUR items that each IED has: 1. Power Source 2. Initiator 3. Explosive Material ... I feel so damn safe.
    • by Dogun (7502)

      Ignoring the lack of a #4, #1 is not always present, and #2 may be confused with #3.

      Here's the reality: You fucking sue the TSA if they ever do this to your possessions. The TSA should be experts on bombs, and it should be their job to be professionals at identifying bombs. The fact that they can't only proves their negligence.

      You don't get to decide whether something is or isn't dangerous when you haven't got a 12-year old's knowledge of electronics.

      • by hey! (33014) on Monday August 08, 2011 @07:55PM (#37028400) Homepage Journal

        The TSA should be experts on bombs, and it should be their job to be professionals at identifying bombs.

        Sure, I agree, but as long as we're talking about "reality", it won't happen until we decide we want to pay what it would cost to staff the TSA checkpoints that way.

        You don't get to decide whether something is or isn't dangerous when you haven't got a 12-year old's knowledge of electronics.

        Which is exactly what happened here. The TSA staff didn't decide anything. They *presumed* it was dangerous, and called in somebody who had the training that in an ideal, non-financially-constrained world they'd have right there at the gate.

        That's what everybody ends up doing with expensive technical expertise. The person you call up on the support line for software ought to be an expert in that software, and ideally very knowledgeable about the systems that software interacts with. But it won't happen until we choose to favor companies that give us good service over those who give us lousy service at the lowest possible price.

        Geeks with Altoid can electronics projects aren't a use-case that was considered in the system design. So what? Is that really such a surprise? What should be surprising is that people bright enough to design and build circuits can't figure out that it'd be simpler and less hassle to put their tiny mint-tin projects in a FedEx envelope and ship them rather than running it through the carry-on security checkpoint. I'm not saying there's anything wrong about sort of forgetting how clueless mundane folk are; it's an easy mistake to make. But it's just silly to bellyache like it's something that *somebody else should fix for us*. Nobody is going to fix anything for us, until we persuade them to.

        Of course if you think you can convince our fellow citizens to pay what it would take to people who can be trained as experts in bomb identification and then follow through on that training, I'll cheer you on. But until you manage that I'm shipping my homebrew junk rather than carrying it on. And I'm not planning on holding my breath until you succeed.

    • Mankind is divided into three kinds of people: Those who can count, and those who can't.

    • by DeadCatX2 (950953) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:09PM (#37027490) Journal

      Cleric: And the Lord spake, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.

      Brother Maynard: Amen.

      All: Amen.

      King Arthur: Right. One... two... five.

      Galahad: Three, sir.

      King Arthur: Three.

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        Wrong sketch.

        "NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again."

    • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:22PM (#37027632)

      Listen when he explains the FOUR items that each IED has: 1. Power Source 2. Initiator 3. Explosive Material ...

      4. Profit!

      • Actually I'm pretty sure #4 (according to the TSA manuals) is "a brown-skinned male", but they decided it wasn't PC to mention that.

  • by Jerry (6400) on Monday August 08, 2011 @05:54PM (#37027356)

    The "Minty Fresh" mp3 player wasn't just examined, or even pried open to see what was inside. It was maliciously torn to shreds. What do those Luddite TSA agents think could be hiding in a millimeter thick sheet of Aluminum lid? It looks like they put it into a blender.

    This isn't looking out for "Public Safety", this is intimidation just because they can. Light your next bonfire with a copy of the Constitution. At least the paper it's written on can be used for something, even if the words are worthless.

    • by mingot (665080)
      Cross promotion with Blendtec, I guess.
    • by gregor-e (136142) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:03PM (#37027428) Homepage
      I'm pretty sure it got that way because they attempted to detonate it without opening.
    • by Ksevio (865461)
      More information on Minty:

      Based on the comments, Nico & I felt a clarification was needed. This post purposely never mentioned a passenger because the bag was left unattended and there was no passenger available to interview. We're not implying that you cannot travel with these types of items, we're just pointing out that they could be of concern, or possibly even hold you up a little bit. Listen, we think these things are cool too, but this is just a friendly "heads up" and not a threat.

      So definitely don't leave your homemade mp3 player in your unattended bag.

      • by Skidborg (1585365)
        Look, it may not be that way in the USA, but in some parts of the world unattended bags are actually a serious threat to life and limb.
    • by ThorGod (456163)

      I hear you. With all the political air being taken up by the deficit and jobs it's hard to be optimistic stuff like this is short-lived.

    • by mr1911 (1942298)
      Don't forget they shut down the entire terminal in their massive overreaction, which has become the norm lately.

      I honestly don't know if the massive overreaction law enforcement tends to have over any issue lately is because they are completely stupid or because they want to get media attention in some ridiculous effort to show they are keeping us safe. I wish it were the later, but I fear it is rampant stupidity.
      • It's probably a mix of option 2 and unnamed option 3. They want to get media attention so that they can get the public opinion on their side so that they can get more funding. More funding means more pork for security companies.

        Unnamed option 3 is that they would get sued to the stone age if a bomb really went off and people found out that they knew about it and did nothing. It's a "backside save manoeuvre" on their part.

        Although the rampant stupidity argument does hold water.
  • by jmcbain (1233044) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:02PM (#37027416)

    We live in a post-9/11 world. We have to forfeit some of our rights in order to fight the terrorists. If you're not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to fear. Think of the children.

    Vote Palin 2012.

    • by cfalcon (779563) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:07PM (#37027460)

      Why bother voting Palin? You know there's a Democrat in the white house RIGHT THIS SECOND right? And the Democrats have had control of house, senate, and white house within the last few years, and they most certainly didn't finally fight this TSA nonsense- in fact, in the 80s, they were in favor of something like this.

      Can't blame Bush anymore. Guess you'll have to accept that they are all corrupt control freaks, eh? Both major parties are opposed to freedom, privacy, and any amount of self determination. I understand that once you pick Red or Blue you want to assign all the Bad Things to the Other Color, but it's just not that simple.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dcollins (135727)

        "Can't blame Bush anymore."

        I blame Bush for starting this stuff. I blame Obama for not ending it.

        • by magarity (164372)

          I blame Bush for starting this stuff. I blame Obama for not ending it.

          I think it's clearly Bush's fault Obama has to blame Bush for everything.

    • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:42PM (#37027808) Journal

      Your Palin comment, while designed to be funny, isn't. Have you even seen what she thinks of the TSA and all that or you just assuming? In the end, all you've done is proved you're even more shallow than she is.

      She believes all of THESE kinds of examples are nothing more than Politically Correct Security. The problem is that the LEFT WING handcuffs how we do things because it might "offend" the terrorists ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Muslims and incite them to commit acts of terrorism. So we pat down Granny's Diaper, confiscate Insulin, Fondle little kids and least ... smash a toy MP3 player. []

      If you're going to criticize Palin, make sure it is legitimate. This isn't one of those cases (there are plenty to choose from)

      • That was a real MP3 player.

        And no, I am not going to vote for anyone who believes the Earth is less than a billion years old.

    • palin sees you!

    • > Vote Palin 2012.

      I read that as Vote Putin 2012.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Even if the device is harmless, it doesn't mean they don't truly need to give it a few extra *really* careful looks.
    This is not a troll. I had something similar happen to me, but don't feel a burning desire to recount it play-by-play or have the FBI file re-opened.
    (Yes, really)
    I will just say that it was a perfect storm of fluke events and the fact I was carrying a home-built electronics project in my *checked* luggage that caused their BAO to take extreme interest in my bag, and myself.
    At some point, those

    • Ignorance truly is bliss. Show them something they don't understand and hope you have a good lawyer. Encase it in a plastic box and you're fine.

      You comment on how we're probably smarter than most TSA employees is troubling. I would be more comfortable (and I'm sure the screening process would be better) if they were smarter and if they were allowed to think on the job instead of being a mindless drone following the rules. Chances of the average IQ going up amongst TSA employees seem exceptionally dim in lig

  • When did TSA monkeys go from "agents" to "officers?"

  • by Rui del-Negro (531098) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:07PM (#37027466) Homepage

    Meanwhile, they completely missed the real bomb he was carrying inside his bible.

  • I'm more interested in this fair. I've never heard of a science fair for graduate students. And what exactly did his device do? The sources all seem to just say it has a purpose and looks scary. If I were this kid I'd be more insulted than anything, that my project looks so shoddy it appears to be something an uneducated terrorist might make.

  • by kelarius (947816) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:09PM (#37027480)
    really are that stupid since the very next day [] some idiot was trying to bring homemade fireworks onto the plane.
    • by idontgno (624372)

      In the interests of complete clarity, yes, the putz in question was "in" Omaha... trying to catch a departing flight to his home city... in Kentucky.

      If you want to fault Omaha, you can blame them for not catching and deporting idiots fast enough. But I suspect Omaha isn't alone in that. Just look at Washington!

  • Graduate students have always been the abused 'subjects' of their professoritti-elite, but man that's just downright mean.

    Stuff like this often makes me decide to drive instead of fly. Supposedly, a train ride is a good substitute for a plane trip as well.

    • A train is an excellent alternative! Sure it might take a little longer and cost a little more (sometimes it's actually cheaper), but it is incredibly comfortable and convenient. Most trains have a dining car, a little car with movie, and a viewing car with large glass windows so you can sit and watch the country go by. The seats are large and there's tons of leg room. Most trains have outlets now so no need to worry about the laptop dying. Some even have wifi! Oh, bags come on for free (there's a limit to

  • by bigsexyjoe (581721) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:11PM (#37027522)
    As far as I’m concerned, all of this airport security – the cameras, the questions, the screening, the searches, is just one more way of reducing your liberty and reminding you they can fuck with you anytime they want, as long as you’re willing to put up with it. Which means, of course, anytime they want. Because that’s the way Americans are now. They’re always willing to trade away a little of their freedom for the feeling – the illusion – of security.
  • by Rui del-Negro (531098) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:14PM (#37027556) Homepage

    Look at the picture []. It's a fingerbox []. The student was clearly trying to troll the TSA.

  • Since the Manhattan Project [] has been around since 1986, they must have seen it on cable recently.

    Every high school has at least one student that builds a fully functioning nuclear bomb for their science fair project.

  • So it seems that TSA Bob is suggesting that separating pieces of your custom electronics may help your luggage get through TSA screening. Since this device was found in carry-on baggage I don't know how much that would help. I often travel with custom and semi-custom electronics in my checked baggage and I've never had a problem (although I regularly find the "searched by TSA" card when I reach my destination). A couple things I do:
    -Put custom electronics in my checked baggage whenever possible
    -Put the parts in separate containers whenever possible
    -Separate batteries, antennas, and other accessories from the devices
    -Try not to travel to Phoenix (nothing to do with custom electronics or TSA, I've had two bags seriously damaged at PHX)

    Also, be aware that "rubber-ducky" type antennas show up as a thin metal blade/wire on x-ray. I've had my carry-on's searched a couple times because I forgot to put an antenna in my checked baggage, although it's never been a problem once I took it out of the bag and showed it to the agent.

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      Try not to travel to Phoenix

      That's good advice whether you're flying or not, unless it's January.

    • by dbc (135354)

      Yup. I recently learned that ordinary 9V batteries are an issue. Normally I will leave consumer electronics assembled. But recently we were pulled aside because the 9V battery in the metronome in my 12yo daughter's violin case looked suspicious. The violin, on the X-Ray machine, looks unmistakeably like a violin. We've never had an issue with it. But somehow the 9 volt battery looks opaque and chunky enough that they dug things apart until they found it. So... I've added 9V batteries to the list of t

  • From the photographs, they opened up the battery compartment and poked around, before deciding the device was dangerous and had to be destroyed with explosives.

    If they were worried it was a bomb, why were they playing around with it first?

  • I travel with hand made electronic boards in my carry-on luggage on virtually every flight I've taken since 2006 (as part of my job), and I fly about 2-4 times/month. The only time my bag has been searched (triggered by the x-ray scan) was when I was travelling with a isolation transformer (about a pound of steel and copper). If what Blogger Bob is talking about was commonplace, I'm sure I'd at least have gotten my bags hand-screened a few more times.
  • Just in case you're not bored of them already, one I found in the comments to TFA: []. Not only do they take a diabetic's insulin, they don't even manage to find all of it!

  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:34PM (#37027744)
    Why not ask the guy what it is. Let him explain why it is there, what it does. Maybe bring in someone with some engineering experience.

    If the guy is a suicide bomber, you are already dead. If he isn't, then you have every reason to listen to him. If you can't find any place for explosives to be hiding, then it isn't dangerous.

    Wires alone are poor indicators that you have a bomb. Thousands of times of devices have wires and are not bombs than devices with wires that are bombs. Maybe even millions of times as many devices as a TSA agent is going to encounter.

    Bombs can be made to look totally innocent. Even if you open them and look at them.

    The Intelligent thing to do is to do a bit of training as to what might really be a bomb, and who might really be a bomber, and how to call in someone to evaluate a situation quickly before thousands and thousands of dollars are spent and people's lives are disrupted by something that can be safely evaluated quickly by someone with training.
  • by decora (1710862) on Monday August 08, 2011 @06:45PM (#37027832) Journal

    keep your fucking hands the fuck off my body.

    you do not own us.

    you are the government. you serve us. not the other way around.

  • Looking up the phrase "terrorist organization" [], it seems obvious to me that members of a terrorist organization were present at the time the kid's MP3 player was destroyed.

    And the kid was not one of them.

  • Looks like a bomb and you don't joke around at the airport with stuff like that.

    There are sings there saying not to even joke about having a gun there.

  • It isn't just do-it-yourself gear that can arouse suspicion. My Zoom H4N digital recorder has elicited attention from the TSA. The two built-in mikes at the front apparently make it look a lot like a Taser on the scanner.

APL is a write-only language. I can write programs in APL, but I can't read any of them. -- Roy Keir