MacBook Air: Weapon of TSA distraction

Care of the Onion

Here, friends, is the danger of depending too much on X-ray searches — there is a valley between the dangerous and the benign and most items fit in it but if you make something dangerous that looks utterly benign or make something benign that looks, to the trained TSA agent, dangerous, you’re in trouble.

Long story short, Michael Nygard was held up at the airport because TSA agents couldn’t figure out his MacBook Air .

I’m standing, watching my laptop on the table, listening to security clucking just behind me. “There’s no drive,” one says. “And no ports on the back. It has a couple of lines where the drive should be,” she continues.

A younger agent, joins the crew. I must now be occupying ten, perhaps twenty, percent of the security force. At this checkpoint anyway. There are three score more at the other five checkpoints. The new arrival looks at the printouts from x-ray, looks at my laptop sitting small and alone. He tells the others that it is a real laptop, not a “device”. That it has a solid-state drive instead of a hard disc. They don’t know what he means. He tries again, “Instead of a spinning disc, it keeps everything in flash memory.” Still no good. “Like the memory card in a digital camera.” He points to the x-ray, “Here. That’s what it uses instead of a hard drive.”

Security is all well and good and the theatre of security makes us feel great when we roll through the airport. However, the whole mess crashes down when someone tweaks the rules on either side — by removing an instantly recognized hard drive or threatening to blow up planes with liquids. That, sadly, is when things fall into absurdity. Just wait until the MacBook Quantum comes out. It probably won’t even show up on X-rays, replaced instead by a cat.

Steve Jobs Made Me Miss My Flight [MichaelNygard]