[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: [Debconf-discuss] Tipps for traveling through USA with a braille display?

On Wed, 18 Apr 2012 14:33:25 +0200
Mario Lang <mlang@delysid.org> wrote:

> This might sound strange at first sight, but I am actually concerned
> about me traveling through the USA on my way to Managua carrying a
> braille display.  When I flew to Bordeaux two years ago I was trapped at
> security in Lyon for approx. half an hour because the personell
> there believed I was carrying explosive material.  This led to them
> actually fetching a special security guy who ended up fetching a dog to
> assert that my "strangely looking device" was not a bomb.

When DebConf was in New York, Nick Bane & I took SL40 communication aids
as demonstrators of Emdebian in commercial products. These were
certainly something that customs personnel at JFK airport were unlikely
to have come across before. (Bigger and heavier than a modern netbook
with an obviously custom keyboard and specialised screens.)

There was a brief enquiry as to their purpose, so it was just as well
that before we disembarked, we had powered up the units so that the
purpose could be demonstrated quickly and easily from suspend. As soon
as it was clear that this was just a purpose-built computer, it wasn't
a problem.

For the return from New York, we just ensured that the devices were
visible before anything went through the security scanners - just as
many airports require laptops to be scanned separately.
> If french people are already making such a fuzz I am really concerned
> about the USA.

Every airport has made a fuss about similar devices. They are unusual,
that's part of the problem.

> My braille display is quite expensive, so giving it up on some boarder is
> actually definitely not an option.
> Since I have never passed through USA (on purpose) in the past, I am
> quite concerned.  Does anyone have experience with US airports and
> "strange looking devices".  Is there perhaps some way I can ensure that
> I don't loose my €6.600,- device on my way to Managua due to silly
> overcautious security?

SL40 is a similarly priced product (and at that time contained
unreleased hardware and software) - the key point is that the device
should be ready-to-use (so not in power-off mode where it would need to
boot) and simple to demonstrate in front of customs officials.

That and the fact that your need for such a device is easily determined
should be enough as long as you are open and upfront about what the
device can do.

We've taken "non-commercial" computers through customs before too and
those were literally a few PCB's, a display and a speaker screwed into a
plastic frame with batteries hanging off one side and a loose cable to
an RS232 port on the other side. It's just as well we didn't connect the
batteries as the speaker can start "clicking" at roughly 1 second
intervals when the battery power gets very low...

(One of those devices - albeit without batteries/speaker fitted - went
to DebConf8 in Argentina, there are photos of it running Emdebian Crush
online, just search for "debconf emdebian crush balloon".)

Just don't hide the device or what it does. Declare it and demonstrate
it in use.


Neil Williams

Attachment: pgp11v0RfYrda.pgp
Description: PGP signature

Reply to: