Tag Archive | "Scanners"

Five for Friday: Top 5 technology commercials from the ’90s

Like most kids born in the early ’80s, I have a very special affinity for the ’90s. My dad bought the first personal computer on our block (an IBM 386), we had a 28.8K modem at home, and cell phones were as big as a brick.

My family was unflaggingly optimistic about technology in the ’90s, eager to try new digital products and formats, most of which died before gaining mass adoption.

For one glorious year–it must have been 2001–I carried around a Nokia 5110 with custom faceplate, a PalmPilot, anti-skipping Sony DiscMan, GameBoy Color, calculator watch and clear plastic pager. Today, that collection of ancient technology is contained in a single smartphone, which is capable of more than anything I could have imagined at the time (just 12 years ago!).

It’s pretty incredible to see how far technology, convergence and communication have come in less than 20 years. Today, we’re pulling together a list of our favorite ’90s technology commercials, all of which introduce, or hint at, communication tools we take for granted today.

#1: Send faxes from your cell phone

In the late ’90s, AT&T introduced PocketNet, a text-based web-browsing interface on mobile phones. In this ad, a man stuck in a snowstorm delights his son by showing him how he reads email and sends faxes from his phone.

#2: Early unified communications (with an (800) number)

The promise of unified communications today is to connect with people instantly on any device, anywhere in the world, easily and seamlessly. Back in the ’90s, that concept was considerably more basic… most people didn’t have cell phones, voice messages were stored on tape, and faxes trumped email.

What do you do if you want to stay connected 24/7? Buy an (800) number that rings your office, home number and cell phone at the same time. It was a rudimentary idea, but was the closest thing to unified communications we had at the time.

#3: Bell Atlantic predicts telecommuting

Telecommuting is so ubiquitous today that it’s easy to take it for granted. Sophisticated communication and collaboration tools make working anywhere incredibly easy.

Video conferencing puts us one click away from our coworkers, documents in the cloud are easy to work on, and email, instant messaging, mobile phones, voice conferencing and shared calendars make us just as efficient at home as we are at the office.

In 1995, telecommuting was so foreign that Bell Atlantic had to create a commercial introducing the idea to people.

#4: AT&T predicts dozens of technological breakthoughs

I love these AT&T ads from the 1993 and 1994, because they paint a picture of how technology would make our lives easier and help us connect with one another at some point in the near future. You can feel it–these breakthroughs are nearly here.

AT&T predicted the future with incredible accuracy (not surprising, as researchers inside the company had been working on many of these products for years). Here’s what they got right:

  • E-book rentals
  • GPS directions
  • The ability to send and receive faxes from your computer
  • Electronic tolls
  • Video conferencing
  • Video on demand
  • Video-based distance learning
  • Telemedicine
  • Remote security monitoring
  • Automated computer assistants, like Siri

Some of their predictions haven’t been built yet, or were built but failed to gain mass adoption. These include:

  • E-commerce at the ATM
  • DMV transactions at the ATM
  • Voice-activated door locks
  • Portable medical history on a card
  • Automatic product scanners
  • Phone calls on your wrist
  • Automatic audio translation from one language to another

2013 is shaping up to be the year for wearables, so a Dick Tracy-style mobile phone watch could be in our very near future. Researchers are racing to improve automatic audio translation technology, and will undoubtedly solve this challenge within our lifetime.

As for voice-activated door locks, we may have to leave that to Star Trek.

#5: Pacific Bell’s superhighway of information

In 1994, Pacific Bell put out its own list of predictions, mostly around networking, intelligent switches and improved communication. The 3D graphics may be cringe-worthy, but the ideas put forth were anything but: PacBell promised limitless connections over the Internet, at a time when most Americans had yet to sign up for their first email address, and Jerry Yang and David Filo had just launched Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.

OK, now it’s your turn. Share your favorite vintage tech commercials with us in the comments, and reminisce with us about the ’90s.



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TSA Takes It Easy On Employee Misconduct, GAO Reports

While reports of significant incidents of misconduct by TSA employees jumped by nearly 27% over the last three years, the agency has been inconsistent and often lax in disciplining accused workers, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In a report prepared for two House Homeland Security subcommittees, the GAO noted that reported cases of TSA worker misconduct serious enough to possibly jeopardize passenger safety, increased from 2,691 in fiscal year 2010 to 3,408 in 2012.

“In that same period,” reported the GAO, “TSA’s workforce of Office of Security Operations employees at the airport level grew by about 3,200 employees.”

TSA employee offenses reported by the GAO ranged from sleeping on duty, to allowing family members and other passengers to sneak prohibited items past scanners.

While TSA-required punishments for such significant acts of misconduct range from 14-day suspensions to firing, the GAO reported that 50% of the cases occurring in 2012 resulted in lesser punishments including letters of reprimand or three-day suspensions.

Including major and less serious offenses, the GAO examined a total of 9,622 cases of worker misconduct dealt with by the TSA from 2010 through 2012. Of the 9,622 cases, 47% resulted in reprimand letters, 31% drew suspensions, while only 17% resulted in the employee being fired.

In one example cited by the GAO, a TSA agent knowingly allowed a family member to pass through the screening checkpoint with a carry-on bag containing “numerous prohibited items.” While the offense was witnessed by a supervisor who confiscated the bag, the employee received only a seven-day suspension.

Accusing the TSA of playing “fast and loose” with its disciplinary policies, Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), chairman of the Oversight committee on management efficiency, said in a statement, “These findings show why many Americans have lost respect for the agency protecting our airports.”

“TSA has already been publicly scrutinized for its behavior and treatment of the American public and when Americans hear about ethical misconduct from TSA employees, whether it be theft, neglect of duty, or even abusive language, it makes the problem even worse.,” said Duncan.

What the GAO Recommended

In summarizing the problem the GAO reported, “TSA does not have a process for reviewing misconduct cases to verify that TSA staff at airports are complying with policies and procedures for adjudicating employee misconduct,” and recommended that the agency create and implement a process for conducting such reviews.

According to the GAO, the Department of Homeland Security agreed with the recommendations and has directed the TSA to take actions in response.

Also See:
Congress Probes Misconduct by TSA Screeners
Congressman Takes On Rogue TSA Airport Screeners

Source: About.com


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TSA Pulling ‘Virtual Strip Search’ Body Scanners

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced last Friday that it will have removed all 174 of the “backscatter” X-ray full-body scanners from the 30 airports where they are currently deployed by the end of June.

TSA took the action after Rapiscan Systems, makers of the X-ray scanners called “virtual strip search” machines by personal privacy advocates, said they would not be able to meet the congressionally-imposed June 1, 2013 deadline for supplying software that would display a simple generic outline of passengers.

The Rapiscan X-ray scanners will be replaced by the newer millimeter wave scanners now in use at 170 airports.

Unlike the X-ray scanners, millimeter wave scanners use safer radio waves and employ Automated Target Recognition (ATR) software, which displays a completely non-identifiable, generic passenger outline as required by The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

“By June 2013 travelers will only see machines which have ATR that allow for faster throughput,” stated the TSA on its blog. “This means faster lanes for the traveler and enhanced security.”

Until they can be used for what the TSA called “other mission priorities within the government,” the $200,000 per-unit X-ray scanners will be put into a TSA storage facility. Should Rapiscan Systems be able to develop suitable ATR software, the units might be reinstalled in airports, according to the TSA.

As before, the TSA reminds passengers who object to being scanned by either the X-ray or millimeter wave machines that they always have the option of requesting a memorable hands-on pat-down search instead.

Ironically, the Census Bureau notes that Americans got their first look at X-ray machines on Friday, January 18, 1896, exactly 117 years to the day before the TSA announced the retirement of its X-ray scanners from airports. And, as the Census Bureau also recalls, Thomas Edison’s research assistant Clarence Dally, after long, unshielded experimentation with X-rays, had both arms amputated, and then died in 1904 from exposure to radiation.

Also See:
Congress Probes Misconduct by TSA Screeners
TSA Could Improve Complaint Process, GAO Reports

Source: About.com


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More of Those Airports With Scanners

We’ve again updated our answers to that frequently asked flyer question: which airports have scanners? You know, those TSA x-ray machine things that send pictures of your naked body to some TSA person. And the answer is still: most; learn which ones, specifically:

  • Which Airports Have Scanners?

Add Comments!

Though polls show that most find the airport x-ray backscatter machines to be despicable (enough so to keep them from flying), others think that the machines keep them safe (evidence shows otherwise, but…). So, what will you do? Be able to see your laptop while taking the walk of shame, or choose the squeezee and lose sight of your laptop?

  • COMMENT: Would You Walk Through a Full Body Scanner at the Airport?

Have you opted out of the full body scanner and had a TSA patdown under the new, more aggressively gropey guidelines? What did you think? Would you choose a patdown over the scanner again?

  • COMMENT: Have You Had a TSA Patdown?

Related reading:

  • What is the TSA’s Backscatter / Millimeter Wave Technology?
  • Which Airports Have Full Body Scanners?

More TSA / Airport Security Reading: Airport Security Rules | How to Pack for Airport Security | TSA Blog | Air Travel for Beginners

Archived Air Travel News: Why We Have to Take Our Laptops at Airport Security | London Terrorist Threat Causes Changes in Airport Security | Laptops and Airport Screening | Air Travel Escalating Into Hassle Travel | Services Mail Banned Airport Items Home

Does Austin Have Scanners? | Does Augusta Have Scanners? | Does the Boise Airport Have Scanners? | Does the Bangor Airport Have Scanners? | Does the Baton Rouge Airport Have Scanners? | Does the Flint Airport Have Scanners? | Does the Lexington Airport Have Scanners? | Does the Charleston Airport Have Scanners?

Student Travel Blog Home

Source: About.com


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More Airports With Scanners

We keep updating our answers to this frequently asked flyer question: which airports have scanners? You know, those TSA x-ray machine things that send pictures of your naked body to some faceless TSA employee (yeah, no, we’re not crazy about those AIT scanners). Well, the answer is: most; learn which ones, specifically:

  • Which Airports Have Scanners?

And know that you’ve got a few choices when you get to the airport’s security screening checkpoint: a patdown, the scanner, or — with any luck — an old-fashioned metal detector. Learn a bit about each of those at a few major airports:

  • Denver Airport and the Metal Detector

  • Chicago Airport and the Patdown
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and the Scanner

Airport security is one reason why I love trains.

Add Comments!

Though polls show that most find the airport x-ray backscatter machines to be despicable (enough so to keep them from flying), others think that the machines keep them safe (evidence shows otherwise, but…). So, what will you do? Be able to see your laptop while taking the walk of shame, or choose the squeezee and lose sight of your laptop?

  • COMMENT: Would You Walk Through a Full Body Scanner at the Airport?

Have you opted out of the full body scanner and had a TSA patdown under the new, more aggressively gropey guidelines? What did you think? Would you choose a patdown over the scanner again?

  • COMMENT: Have You Had a TSA Patdown?

Related reading:

  • What is the TSA’s Backscatter / Millimeter Wave Technology?
  • Which Airports Have Full Body Scanners?

More TSA / Airport Security Reading: Airport Security Rules | How to Pack for Airport Security | TSA Blog | Air Travel for Beginners | Does LAX Have Scanners? | Does Atlanta Have Scanners? | Does the Albuquerque Airport Have Scanners? | Does JFK Have Scanners? | Does the Guam Airport Have Scanners? | Does the Detroit Airport Have Scanners?

Archived Air Travel News: Why We Have to Take Our Laptops at Airport Security | London Terrorist Threat Causes Changes in Airport Security | Laptops and Airport Screening | Air Travel Escalating Into Hassle Travel | Services Mail Banned Airport Items Home

Kansas City | Miami | DC | Honolulu | Charlotte-Douglas | Chicago | Cleveland | Houston Bush | Boston Logan | Baltimore

Student Travel Blog Home

Source: About.com


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Posted in TravelComments Off

Airports With Scanners

Here’s a frequently asked flyer question: which airports have scanners? You know, those TSA x-ray machine things that send pictures of your naked body to some faceless TSA employee (yeah, no, we’re not crazy about those AIT scanners). Well, the answer is: most; learn which ones, specifically:

  • Which Airports Have Scanners?

And know that you’ve got a few choices when you get to the airport’s security screening checkpoint: a patdown, the scanner, or — with any luck — an old-fashioned metal detector. Learn a bit about each of those at a few major airports:

  • Denver Airport and the Metal Detector

  • Chicago Airport and the Patdown
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and the Scanner

Airport security is one reason why I love trains.

Add Comments!

Though polls show that most find the airport x-ray backscatter machines to be despicable (enough so to keep them from flying), others think that the machines keep them safe (evidence shows otherwise, but…). So, what will you do? Be able to see your laptop while taking the walk of shame, or choose the squeezee and lose sight of your laptop?

  • COMMENT: Would You Walk Through a Full Body Scanner at the Airport?

Have you opted out of the full body scanner and had a TSA patdown under the new, more aggressively gropey guidelines? What did you think? Would you choose a patdown over the scanner again?

  • COMMENT: Have You Had a TSA Patdown?

Related reading:

  • What is the TSA’s Backscatter / Millimeter Wave Technology?
  • Which Airports Have Full Body Scanners?

More TSA / Airport Security Reading: Airport Security Rules | How to Pack for Airport Security | TSA Blog | Air Travel for Beginners | Does LAX Have Scanners? | Does Atlanta Have Scanners? | Does the Albuquerque Airport Have Scanners? | Does JFK Have Scanners? | Does the Guam Airport Have Scanners?

Archived Air Travel News: Why We Have to Take Our Laptops at Airport Security | London Terrorist Threat Causes Changes in Airport Security | Laptops and Airport Screening | Air Travel Escalating Into Hassle Travel | Services Mail Banned Airport Items Home

Kansas City | Miami | DC | Honolulu | Charlotte-Douglas | Chicago | Cleveland | Houston Bush | Boston Logan | Baltimore

Student Travel Blog Home

Source: About.com


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Posted in TravelComments Off

Which Airports Have Scanners?

Here’s a frequently asked flyer question: which airports have scanners? You know, those TSA x-ray machine things that send pictures of your naked body to some faceless TSA employee (yeah, no, we’re not crazy about those AIT scanners). Well, the answer is: most.

You’ve got a few choices when you get to the airport’s security screening checkpoint: a patdown, the scanner, or — with any luck — an old-fashioned metal detector. Learn a bit about each of those at a few major airports:

  • Denver Airport and the Metal Detector

  • Chicago Airport and the Patdown
  • Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and the Scanner

Airport security is one reason why I love trains.

Add Comments!

Though polls show that most find the airport x-ray backscatter machines to be despicable (enough so to keep them from flying), others think that the machines keep them safe (evidence shows otherwise, but…). So, what will you do? Be able to see your laptop while taking the walk of shame, or choose the squeezee and lose sight of your laptop?

  • COMMENT: Would You Walk Through a Full Body Scanner at the Airport?

Have you opted out of the full body scanner and had a TSA patdown under the new, more aggressively gropey guidelines? What did you think? Would you choose a patdown over the scanner again?

  • COMMENT: Have You Had a TSA Patdown?

Related reading:

  • What is the TSA’s Backscatter / Millimeter Wave Technology?
  • Which Airports Have Full Body Scanners?

More TSA / Airport Security Reading: Airport Security Rules | How to Pack for Airport Security | TSA Blog | Air Travel for Beginners | Does LAX Have Scanners? | Does Atlanta Have Scanners? | Does the Albuquerque Airport Have Scanners? | Does JFK Have Scanners? | Does the Guam Airport Have Scanners?

Archived Air Travel News: Why We Have to Take Our Laptops at Airport Security | London Terrorist Threat Causes Changes in Airport Security | Laptops and Airport Screening | Air Travel Escalating Into Hassle Travel | Services Mail Banned Airport Items Home

Student Travel Blog Home

Source: About.com


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Amtrak’s Baggage Rules

Aside from that whole seeing you naked thing, airport security’s chief bummer for us is the minute amounts of liquids we can pack. Seems criminal to buy and then toss tubes of sunscreen and shampoo that can’t be carried on, and my carbon footprint’s big enough without doubling up on what I already own by buying wastefully packaged tiny toiletries. Solution in the US of A? Amtrak!

We just love Amtrak in comparison to flying. Bring oodles of baggage on Amtrak if you like: Amtrak’s baggage allowances are up to three carry-on bags (of up to 50 pounds) plus up to three more giant bags and snowboards, skis or bikes.

Bring any sized toiletry or bottle of tequila, and stretch out in roomy seats or actual bedrooms with bathrooms. Look at the view. Eat. Be merry. Think about riding Amtrak’s rails versus flying this summer; you won’t be sorry:

  • Learn About Taking Amtrak

Do make sure Amtrak’s trains go where you want to get with an Amtrak routes map, a trick interactive trip planning atlas online. Check it out — students get a 15% Amtrak discount, too.

  • Amtrak Routes

  • Get 15% off Amtrak with Student ISIC Card

Related Train Travel Reading: Amtrak Pictures | Amtrak Routes | Buying Amtrak Tickets | Amtrak Viewliner Sleeper and Other Sleeper-Bedroom Options | Amtrak Observation, Dining Cars and Other Services | Tipping on Amtrak Trains

Related Air Travel Reading: Packing for Airport Security | What is the New TSA X-Ray Scanner? | Which Airports Have Backscatter or X-Ray Scanners? | Comment: Will You Walk Through a Full Body Imaging Scanner At an Airport? | Have You Opted Out of Scanner and Had a TSA Patdown? | Airport Security Rules | Laptops and Airport Screening

Archived TSA News: But I Don’t Want the TSA to See Me Naked… | TSA Wants to See What You’re Packing in More Ways Than One | Another Minor TSA Casualty | TSA Ties IRS in Unpopularity | TSA Blog | Services Mail Banned Airline Items Home | Air Travel Escalating Into Hassle Travel <


Screenshot courtesy Amtrak.com
| Student Travel blog home

Source: About.com


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3-D Printing at Home: Are You Breaking the Law?

If you pony up enough money for a 3-D printer at home (and that’s not as much money as it used to be, as the newly released MakerBot Replicator proves), can you print whatever you like? The answer is that you can’t–at least, not without some risk of infringing someone’s copyright, as one 3-D printing fan found out last year when he created a CAD file that would allow a prop from the movie Super 8 to be printed via Shapeways. The shutdown of Megaupload underscores how sharp-toothed the argument about piracy has become, and 3-D printing is poised to be the next industry that gets intense oversight from corporate lawyers. The folks at Pirate Bay, home to countless torrents of every kind of media imaginable, intend to be at the cutting edge of that piracy discussion. They’ve announced that their site will host downloadable files for 3-D printed objects, a category they’ve named physibles. From the Pirate Bay site: “We believe that the next step in copying will be made from digital form into physical form. It will be physical objects. Or as we decided to call them: Physibles. Data objects that are able (and feasible) to become physical. We believe that things like three dimensional printers, scanners and such are just the first step. We believe that in the nearby future you will print your spare parts for your vehicles. You will download your sneakers within 20 years.”

What companies like Audi and Adidas think about that idea could well shape the future of home-based 3-D printing. On the one hand, they may dive in and find it’s a great way to keep and build their customer bases; or they may fob off the argument to their general counsels and government lobbyists and threaten would-be DIYers with lawsuits. Either way, it seems that 3-D printing will mean a major change for hobbyists, corporations, and attorneys. Which way do you think things will go? New business paradigms, or send it to the lawyers?

Source: About.com


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Epson WorkForce DS-30 Portable Document Scanner

Introducing the Epson WorkForce DS-30 Portable Document Scanner

Epson WorkForce DS-30 Portable Document ScannerPortable scanners are all the rage these days, which is great news for road warriors and pretty interesting for the rest of us, since it means that you we can organize our lives a bit easier without an enormous piece of equipment taking up half the desk. The soon-to-be released Epson WorkForce DS-30 weighs less than 12 ounces, making it very portable indeed; and since it’s powered by a USB cable and thus requires no battery or AC power source, you’re good to go if you’ve got your laptop handy. If you’re scanning to the cloud, you can do it with one touch of a button, Epson claims, or to email, FTP, or a specific folder. The WorkForce DS-30 can scan from legal size to business cards, and correction tools automatically correct skewed images and remove punch holes from scanned documents. If you’ve got a hankering to get one, be patient: They’re not available until March, when they will retail for $179.

Source: About.com


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