Tag: airport

Apple fanboy takes gun shaped case to airport

CmrCpkJWEAAlL3m.jpg largeProof that, as a basic life-form Apple fanboys are not meant to be in the gene-pool, has been found at an Essex airport.

A bright spark thought it would be a  nifty idea to make an iPhone case which made the phone look like a hand-gun.  After all Apple fanboys have a problem getting themselves taken seriously and what better way to make them look tough than by making their favourite toy look like a lethal weapon?

Needless to say some complete iDiot in the UK  bought the case and then thought it was perfectly reasonable to take it to the Stansted Airport.  Essex Police stopped a man at Stansted Airport who had what seemed to be a gun sticking out of his back pocket.

They said that it was a “split second” scenario – and likely a terrifying one at that, before revealing it was only a phone case.

Fortunately for the Apple fanboy he was not dealing with the  “shoot first ask questions later” US authorities who would have filled him so full of lead that when he sat down he would have made pencil marks.  Unfortunately for humanity this iDiot might go on to contribute to the gene pool and further lower the standards of humanity.

Essex police say the Apple fanboy may yet be charged with a public order offence or for carrying an imitation firearm in a public space. We would also go for a charge of being a total tosser in a built up area, if such a charge existed.

Microsoft partners up to get 3D printing into Windows 10

Tigre-3DSoftware giant Microsoft is making Windows 10 capable of running a 3D printer and it is leaning on its software partners to provide the goods.

Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft vice president of developer and platform evangelism, has been showing off new 3D printing features in Windows 10. Autodesk Spark is apparently being integrated under the bonnet.

The integration with Autodesk is part of a new consortium between Microsoft, HP, Shapeways, Autodesk, Dassault Systemes, Netfabb, and SLM Solutions. The collaboration is an attempt to stem issues related to interoperability so that designers can focus on creation.

In the future, designers and engineers could create 3D models with Fusion 360, for example, view those models with HoloLens and then prep them for printing on Spark-compatible printers — an  easy workflow.

Spark is a platform for building 3D printing software, hardware, materials, and services. Adding it to Windows 10 is a big win for Autodesk.

Windows 8.1 has supported 3D printing since August 2013. Microsoft wants to make sure that Windows 10 is the platform developers will want to use when they build in 3D.

U2 takes out LA airport

A cold war U2 spy-plane managed to take out the computer systems of the world’s worst airport.

The U2 flew over Los Angeles airport and blew out the computers that run the California air traffic control centre. Officials used that as the excuse of the day to ground flights and make customers lives a misery.

In this case LA’s illness was extended to several airports in the Southwestern United States and ground planes bound for the region from other parts of the country.

The Bob Hope Airport (no really) in Burbank, California, John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, and McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas were among other facilities affected by the order to keep planes grounded.

Flights in other parts of the country that were bound for the wide swath of airspace in the Southwestern United States managed by the FAA’s Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Centre

Thousands of arriving and departing passengers at Los Angeles International Airport had their journeys slowed, although how any of them could tell the difference because regular passengers are used to being treated like crap at LA.

NBC, citing unnamed sources, reported a U2, a Cold War-era spy plane still in use by the US military, passed through air space monitored by the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Centre and appears to have overloaded a computer system at the centre.

The computers apparently had a problem working out that the U2 was flying at 60,000 feet and other airplanes passing through the region’s air space were miles below.

Officially, no one is saying anything about the problem. The only thing LA Airport is admitting is that there was a software issue that was corrected. This is a little strange given that the U2 has been in service for decades and we would have thought that the Air Traffic Control software would be able to cope with it. Of course, it is LA Airport so anything out of the ordinary results in delays, shutdowns and longer queues in poorly air-conditioned rooms in immigration. 

TSA steals electronics

In the interests of protecting flights from terrorists,  it seems that members of US airport security have been pocketing and selling on confiscated electronics gear.

Not content with flogging naked snaps of famous people, or copping a feel of porn stars, it seems that one or two TSA staff have been using their powers to take people’s electronics.

According to Digital Trends, the situation has been highlighted by the arrest in Terminal One of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent Nelson Santiago-Serrano.

An employee of Continental watched Santiago-Serrano take an iPad out of a piece of luggage and stuff the Apple device into his pants

Santiago-Serrano was taken into custody and he admitted that he had a bit of a racket going, having stolen $50,000 dollars worth of electronics including computers, video cameras, GPS units and other stuff.

After the kit was pinched, he listed it online and sold it before his shift ended. He worked for the TSA for 30 months and has now been fired and arrested.

It is not the first time that a TSA agent was arrested for nicking stuff.

Paul Yashou stole $30,000 of property in his nine years as a TSA agent. TSA agents Karla Morgan and Dawn Nikole Keka were arrested for stealing money from luggage planted by authorities in a sting operation.

A similar sting operation nailed Persad Coumar and Davon Webb for stealing money from bags. Coumar and Webb nicked $160,000 in property while working at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Lately the TSA has pointed out that it is worried terrorists will sew bombs into their bodies and it needs stronger equipment to scan for this unlikely possibility. At this rate, we are worried the TSA will start selling kidneys it “found” during such a search. 

House sues after US government steals laptop

A co-founder of a group advocating for Bradley Manning is suing the US government for illegally taking his computer and copying its contents to aid a criminal investigation of Wikileaks.

MIT computer scientist David House had his laptop taken by Department of Homeland Security agents while he was at the airport.

According to the Washington Post initally House thought that the laptop was snuffled as part of an airport security check, but now it seems that it was because House was a vocal supporter of Private. Bradley Manning, the accused leaker.

House is being backed by the American Civil Liberties Union which is worried that the government’s more aggressive border search policies are being used to collect information about people’s political activities and help criminal investigations.

House’s laptop seizure was unconstitutional, they argue, because it contained such a vast amount of personal material, including private membership lists, The Union claims that reviewing it was a thought crime.

Before government should take laptops it should have a suspicion of a crime and a “border related” justification to conduct such searches.

In the US, a search warrant based on probable cause of a crime is needed to examine a person’s laptop. However, if you are entering the country, the government’s position is that it does not need a warrant or even reasonable suspicion.

The Supreme Court thinks that as long as a search is routine or reasonable, the intent of the search does not matter. However it has not said yet if searching a laptop with troves of personal data is reasonable without at least some suspicion of a crime.

The US spooks held House’s laptop for 49 days, without charging him, or allowing him to see a lawyer. It later released the laptop without an explaination.

The laptop contained several years’ worth of e-mails with family, friends and co-workers; passwords to his bank account and workplace computer; confidential messages of the Bradley Manning Support Network about strategy and fund-raising; and lists of potential donors and notes on donor meetings. 

Wine identifying machine wants to let liquids back on planes

The US Department of Homeland Defense Science and Technology Directorate has funded the development of technology that could finally mean passengers can bring liquids back on planes again.

Since the increasing paranoia over terrorist attacks on planes, passengers have been strictly limited in the amount of liquid that they can bring through security.

However, thanks to technology which was originally used to check the quality of bottles of plonk, a Denver based firm will begin developing a prototype machine that will be able to check bottles and cans for explosives without actually opening them.

If successful it will give TSA officials another toy to play with when they are not staring at sexy passenger outlines.

The technology used is very similar to that of an MRI scanner, employing a strong magnetic field along with radio waves to extract a signal that is able to show the chemical structure.

The prototype will be constructed in the laboratory of inventor Matthew Augustine at UC Davis using an initial allocation of $800,000.

Augustine had previously been using the technology to check for bottle’s of wine for spoilage without opening, patenting the design back in 2002.

However following a 2006 plot to blow up a plane using liquid explosives decided to see if it would be possible to use the invention for identifying other liquids.

“I’m a tinkerer, I like to build stuff,” Augustine said.

It was quickly apparent that the technology was able to determine the difference between gasoline and other potentially dangerous liquids from toothpaste or hair gel.

The challenge came in developing a machine that would be easy to use in the airport environment and able to scan liquids from a wide range of containers effectively.

This meant that a design was eventually arrived at that involved a careful trade-off between high-frequency radio waves, which give the best information about chemical structures but are blocked by metal, and lower-frequency waves that could pass through a soda can.

See here for video.

Japanese company makes flu-detecting mirror

Japanese firm NEC Avio Infrared Technologies has today announced the development of a mirror that can detect flu-like symptoms, such as a fever.

The Thermo Mirror has a built-in thermometer, but an individual does not need to make any physical contact with the device for it to measure their temperature, making it a handy reusable instrument for measuring flu.

While a person admires their beauty or frets about how many extra stones they put on over Christmas, the mirror displays their temperature and an alarm sounds if they are deemed feverish.

NEC Avio said that it expects that the device will be used in corporate receptions, schools, hospitals and public facilities, but it could also replace more expensive technology used in airports. Many airports currently use thermography cameras to detect feverish travellers to prevent them from travelling in a constricted air space, a perfect condition for spreading disease. 

These devices are expensive, however, usually costing well over $10,000 each, but the Thermo Mirror can be bought for either 98,000 yen ($1,180) or 120,000 yen ($1,445), depending on the version, which means you can get a lot more for your money.

NEC Avio plans to sell 5,000 units of the Thermo Mirror this year.

With the recent increases in cases of swine flu, we may in future ditch the doctor to turn to our trusted mirror and say: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, do I have the flu at all?”

Twitter Joke Trial appeal rejected

The appeal of the aptly named Twitter Joke Trial has been denied, forcing the 26-year-old Paul Chambers to pay out the £1,000 fine and extra penalties after he made a twitter joke about blowing up an airport.

The Judge said she did not believe that Chambers was unaware of the consequences of what was an “obviously menacing” message. She said anyone living the present climate of terrorist threats could not be unaware of the consequences of such a message, according to Martin Wainwright of The Guardian.

The Judge called Chambers “an unimpressive witness” and increased the legal costs involved by £2,000 to £2,600, making the total fine £3,000, triple that of before the appeal. 

Many people on Twitter were hoping that Chambers would win his appeal against what is considered an overly harsh sentence for what was ultimately a joke, but it appears that fears over terrorism means we must all be wary about what we tweet.

He was due to fly out to Ireland, but his flight was threatened due to extreme weather conditions. Like any angry customer would do, he tweeted his frustration, but chose an unfortunate string of words to use:

“Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week… otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!”

The actual fine itself is £385, with a £15 surcharge, but legal costs have amounted to £600, now £2,600. That’s a whole lot of money for venting flight frustration online.

The case has far-reaching repercussions for the rest of Twitter’s users and opens up new ground for what can be considered a public network. @TMT_Lawyer tweeted: “In case you’ve not noticed, by saying Twitter is public network, #TwitterJokeTrial says ANY publicly accessible system within s127 CA 2003.”

Alex Deane, of watchdog Big Brother Watch, tells TechEye: “This judgement lacks all common sense. Someone joking about terrorism on Twitter might be an idiot but he’s clearly not a terrorist, and treating him like one undermines faith in the law. It’s a wildly over the top, authoritarian response to the current situation.

“This absurd judgement is enough to make me want to blow up Robin Hood airport.

Australia's airport porn checks cause problems

The Aussie government is getting into hot water with tourists and business travellers over its attempts to check customers for porn at the airport.

Last year, in a desperate attempt to keep fundamentalist Christians happy, the Aussie government tried to show that it was getting tough with porn.

However, since that would not go down well with your average Aussie, they decided only to scare the hell out of foreigners coming into the country.

On the landing cards, the Aussies demanded to know if the tourist or business person was carrying any porn on their computer, camera or phone. The risk for a tourist was that if a border patrol sniffed their computer and found boobies they could be deported, or fined on the spot.

Given the universal amount of porn that ends up on a laptop it appears that there have been a few complaints.

According to the Australian Sex Party spokesman Robbie Swan, one case involved a couple on their honeymoon, who thought they had to declare naked iPhone pictures of themselves after reading the incoming passenger card.

They were made to display a nude photo of themselves in a line with all these other people; they were so embarrassed.

Now Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor has admitted that there needs to be some change and has asked the Customs and Border Protection command to change the wording on the declaration cards travellers must fill out when they fly into Australia.

“The previous card stated that travellers needed to disclose any ‘pornography’ they were carrying,” Mr O’Connor said.

Now the problem is that tourists don’t normally know what constitutes ‘illegal pornography’ under Aussie law. After all “the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Kathmandu.” and what is normal in Slough might not go down well in Sydney.

So the only safe way is to run what they have on their laptop past a Customs officer, which means that honeymooning couple are still not off the hook. After all being naked in a public place is still illegal in Australia.

For the record, Aussies say that illegal porn includes child pornography and material depicting bestiality, explicit sexual violence, degradation, cruelty and non-consensual sex.