I’m with Bruce Schneier. I never really spent enough time on airplanes to be particularly annoyed by the entire process until last year. I actually wrote the majority of this on a flight to Las Vegas for the SANS conference today as a matter of fact. While cumbersome and obnoxious in many ways, I’ve managed to isolate myself from the majority of those annoyances with things like off line email (won’t off line enabled JS apps rock your world - you’ll be able to hack as you fly!), mp3s and noise canceling headphones. Further, packing light (see onebag.com) makes my life just a lot easier.
But, and here comes the big but, why in this day and age are we still turning off portable electronic devices as we take off and land? The stewardess was making a joke that that includes wristwatches, pace makers and hearing aids. I’ve inadvertantly left my cell phone on during a flight last year, we must have narrowly escaped our death on that one. Somehow the terrorists haven’t figured out this critical weakness in our security yet though, thankfully. Anyway sarcasm aside, I’m with Bruce.
Some of these rules and security precautions are just complete nonsense. A knife that’s 3 1/2 inches is fine, but four inches and you’re a terrorist! Thankfully, I don’t really look like a trouble maker, if you could even articulate what a trouble maker did look like. So in all but one occasion I have managed to escape the involuntary TSA rub-down. All they’re missing is the oil and the sleazy seventies music!
Anyway, I’m speaking at SANS in Vegas then flying to Orlando for GFIRST/US-CERT and then to Denver for OWASP. I’ll get plenty of chances to be annoyed by the safety threat that I present by using noise canceling headphones between now and then I’m sure.
I’m not exactly sure why, but this reminds me of when I was doing a speech for the OWASP chapter in Minnesota. It was on a University campus. Being nice enough to host the event they also gave us an AV person. The AV person decided that I was an idiot upon only looking at me and made it clear that I shouldn’t touch her computers, yet she didn’t have anything installed despite the fact that she said she had MS office, the projector was having problems and it was clear she was pretty clueless. Yet she was still obviously annoyed at my gentle questioning. My friend was ready to rip her head off and was surprised I didn’t tell her who I was and where to shove her attitude. Sometimes it’s better to let people think they know what they are doing until they prove it to themselves that they don’t. She eventually gave up and let me do it myself (my own laptop and a non faulty cable later and we were up and running). I’m still waiting on the airline industry to come to the same conclusion as our beloved AV maiden.