Holy cow...

From: Jerome H. Fine <jhfinexgs2_at_compsys.to>
Date: Fri Aug 6 09:30:51 2004

>"Joe R." wrote:

> I went to a HP Calculator conference in England about 6 or 7 years ago
> (pre-9/11) and I carried a LOT of calculators, parts, accessories and tools
> with me. I was very concerned about going through security and customs but
> had almost no trouble. The ONLY thing they questioned was what was the
> little thing that I had hanging off of a pair wires with nothing else
> connected. (It was a tiny prototype blue chip LED that I'd connected two
> wires to in order to power it up). Somehow they'd spotted it via X-ray or
> something buried under everything else in the case and it aroused their
> curiosity because it wasn't connected to anything. When I pulled out the
> calculators and told them that I was going to a calculator conference I
> expected a lot of questions but they acted like they could care less.

Jerome Fine replies:

December 30th, 1997 - Too much before even the Y2Y scares.

I was flying from Toronto to Seoul via Chicago. The 4 PDP-11s
(naturally - why else would I be going) were being used to check
the fuel rods during a shutdown and the computers had been in
a trailer over the winter. Since it was not an option to be missing
anything needed to get the systems up and running, I had 2 small
suitcases FULL of boards and disk drives, etc. Everything except
the power supply in a BA23 box. I guess that each suitcase must
have weighed about 30 lb.

Since I had to hand carry the suitcases (not even any bubble wrap
inside) and I was concerned that x-rays might affect the floppy
media and perhaps even the hard drives, I asked for a visual
inspection at security. While I had a letter stating my contract
with AECL (Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.), I don't think security
even asked to see it. In any case, I opened both suitcases and
helped them look through all the junk, explaining that the floppy
media and hard drives, let alone the EPROMs were sensitive
to x-rays. There did not seem to be any real concern and the
checking took only about a minute or two.

Since there was virtually no electronics except for the PCB boards
(which even these days are easily recognizable), I doubt that it would
cause any more of a problem - as long as I had MUCH better
documentation of who I was working for, etc. An employee would
be expected to have some company ID, but I was on a one-time
contract which would make identification more difficult.

Can anyone comment as to what level of ID is helpful, in addition
to a Passport and Driver's License, both with picture ID? Is
company ID helpful as well when electronic stuff is carried?
What about letters explaining the reason for the equipment?
Since letters are easily made up, what about pre-clearance
with security? How do security people get through security?
Or maybe I should not even be asking that question?

Sincerely yours,

Jerome Fine
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Received on Fri Aug 06 2004 - 09:30:51 BST

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