Come fly the thirsty skies (or do you like to watch?)

I'm IT Blogwatch. Fly me. But don't bring any carry-on baggage. In fact, why not just stay home and watch your plane fly on the web?...

And particularly, don't bring your laptop, as Jeremy Kirk reports:

U.K. authorities banned passengers from taking electronic items into airplane cabins following the arrests of 21 people today in connection with an alleged plot to blow up aircraft midflight en route to the U.S. Other items, including liquids and food, are also banned from airplane cabins, with few exceptions. The new rules apply for all flights leaving or transferring through the U.K., the British government said. The U.S. government also banned liquids of all forms, including beverages and personal hygiene products, from being carried onto flights. All liquids must be placed in checked baggage. Additional information on heightened security measures in the U.S. can be found online. Laptop computers, iPods and cell phones must be placed in checked baggage on flights out of the U.K. Airline passengers have become accustomed to additional checks following the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. Airport security checks require that laptops must be removed from their cases and X-rayed. But the new security measures in the U.K. could mean an increased chance of theft or damage to laptops and devices that must be checked and not carried on.
Joseph "Tex" Selby calls the authorities, "Nitwits":

The point of ramped up, crazed airport security is to make us think we don’t need to be afraid. Sure, we’re miserable on that 11 hour flight without our bottled water, our iPod, our laptop, a book or magazine to read, etc., but don’t we all feel safe knowing that no one could sneak anything on a plane? As George Carlin once said (to paraphrase), the point of airport security is to lull us into a sense of safety while we’re doing something that any logical or sensible person knows isn’t safe ... The fear, on the part of the airlines and other folks who depend on us getting on planes and flying hither and yon, is that if we actually realized the hazards of air travel we’d stop doing it. I say be done with it already. Enough of the charade. Ban all carry-on items. All luggage must be checked and extensively screened before boarding any airplane. The end. The only way, of course, to make that at all tolerable is for the airlines to make the flying experience a lot less miserable than it currently is. They’d all have to adopt the Jet Blue and Virgin Atlantic model of providing lots of entertainment options, enough to suit any individual, in your seat. They also have to stop being stingy with food and drink.
Anna departs from the script:

I have lived in London and have traveled to and from the UK on numerous occasions. And I ... know the drill when I'm flying anywhere within the US: laptop out of the case; pockets emptied; belt, jacket, and shoes removed. (Or if you are flying out of Hartsfield in Atlanta, you just strip down and put on a terrycloth saves time and is quite comfortable). But my past flights out of Heathrow and Gatwick never required so much effort. I have worn boots through the security checkpoint without incident. The same boots that would have set off a whole series of bells and whistles at any US airport and would have required me to step aside ma'am and spread 'em. Well, that's all about to change. The aftermath of today has produced unprecedented ironclad security guidelines. Really. No carry-on luggage, no portable electronics, no beverages, etc. ... And this isn't all just limited to the UK. SFO and Logan and most domestic airports aren't allowing most liquids on board. It seems the US has taken these same precautionary measures. But by no means to the extreme in which Britain has. At least not yet ... I am shocked at just how rigid these guidelines are. I love to fly, but the thought of getting on a 6 hour flight without my ipod, a book, a huge bag of skittles, and a diet coke is just too damn much.
Mike Wendland offers words of advice:

Do you really have to take your laptop? If it’s just certain files you need, think about loading them on a small flash drive and taking that with you ... If you are going to check your laptop as luggage, make sure it is carefully packed. Office supply stores and mailing centers sell sheets of bubble wrap ... Wedge soft clothing around them to further cushion any shocks ... Before shipping your computer, activate the password protection feature so that to even boot up, you need a password.
Bruce Schneier doesn't offer his usual poo-poo-job:

Given how little we know of the extent of the plot, these don't seem like ridiculous short-term measures. I'm sure glad I'm not flying anywhere this week.
But Cory Doctorow scratches his head:

The point of terrorism is to make us afraid. The UK response to a foiled plot is to create an unspecified period during which fliers are arbitrarily deprived of iPods, novels and dignity. If this is a good idea now, then why won't it still be a good idea in a year? A decade? After all, terrorist plots will always exist in potentia (can you prove that no terrorist plots are hatching at this moment?) Until they handcuff us all nude to our seats and dart us with tranquilizers, there will always be the possibility that a passenger will do something naughty on a plane (even then, who knows how much semtex and roofing nails a bad guy could hide in his colon?).
Eric Rescorla considers the threat model:

Note that you're allowed to bring this stuff in your checked luggage, just not in your carry on. Does this make any sense? ... There are (at least) two reasons why checked luggage might be different from carry-on. The first is that there's a difference in terms of the level of possible screening. Checked luggage is in the possession of the airline for quite some time and so could in theory be subjected to more substantial analysis ... than is routinely done for carry-on baggage ... The second reason is that you have access to your carry-on while you're on the aircraft. Since setting off any bomb on an airplane in flight pretty much means you're going to die, this eliminates the inconvenience of having to have any kind of automatic detonation system. You just need something you can set off manually, which tends to be a bit easier to hide, especially on x-ray.
Teresa Valdez Klein is as mad as hell, and she's not going to take it any more:

A friend of mine who just got off a plane from Denver has confirmed that in the wake of the recently uncovered terror plot, TSA officials are forcing travelers to throw away makeup and perfumes worth hundreds of dollars. “This one woman was furious with the TSA officer because made her throw out a brand new tube of Chanel mascara,” he told me. “Her husband tried to run back and put it in their checked luggage, but they ultimately had to throw it out.” This can put female business travelers in quite a pickle. Corporate dress codes often require that we wear at least foundation to the office, and we often sink hundreds or even thousands into our makeup and skin care wardrobes. So take a lesson from the woman who lost her mascara (sacriledge!) and make sure to put all your makeup and skin care products in your checked luggage.
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Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at

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