Thursday, February 24, 2011

We're wasting our money

I just don't get it. The TSA says that body scanners are important to catch terrorists. They cost $150k each (!) and with close to 2000 planned for deployment, that's a bill of $300m. Nevermind that they are ineffective or that they are being pushed by industry lobbyists. If they were so bloody important, you'd think that, where they are deployed, the TSA would actually be using them!

But they're not. When metal detectors and x-rays went in to place a long time back, they started putting everyone through them. And they still do. You can beat a metal detector, but you can't avoid them. When someone walks in to an airport without passing through security, they evacuate the whole place. And you know what? That might be a bit overblown, but it's consistent, and it's security.

The scanners? You can opt out, although the pat downs are pretty thorough. But in so many cases, even where the scanner have been installed, it is so easy to just, well, get around them and go through the old-fashioned metal detectors. I just flew from BOS to MSP. In BOS, one of the three lanes open had an imaging machine in use. Now, if they were randomly selecting people for the machines, that would be one thing. But it's so easy to avoid the machines, it makes you wonder if they're actually that important or a possibly-dangerous, definitely invasive money sink?

At MSP, it was worse. In December, they had the scanners at some of their checkpoints, and not at others. Two months later, it's the same deal. And at 8 p.m. none of the scanner machine checkpoints were open. Not only is it easy to avoid the machines, but they are doing their best to not put people through them.

Maybe the TSA is still testing them. But if they were so important, they could be spread out, and at least put some element of chance in to whether you'd be put through. As it stands now, if you wanted to get on to an airline without passing through one of the scanners, your options are almost unlimited.

Monday, February 7, 2011

New UI, new TSA nonsense

First of all, new UI! I learned just enough php and mysql to copy and paste (read: steal from the Internets) enough code to make a page which automatically updates and can be searched by airport and such. So much more better than the old one. And easier for the webmaster, too, who doesn't have to rejigger Google Docs in to excel and then in to code each time an update is in order. Huzzah!

Also, my daily read of TSA nonsense: soon we can pay a nice fee to the government (I'm a big government liberal and I think this is ludicrous) to maybe get through security faster. Here's an idea: how about make security work better so that no one pays any fees and we actually know who is who.