Blog

18Jul
2007
How Not To Shape A Laptop Battery

My laptop bag has scared TSA security personnel at several airports recently, requiring manual bag inspections each time. And when it happened again this week I finally figured out what it is that was freaking them out when the bag went through the x-ray machine - it's the spare laptop battery I always carry. This would never be an issue if the battery were inside the laptop, but the spare battery (depending on how it is laying in the back) can catch attention. But, TSA issues aside, look at the shape of the battery. You just have to wonder - what on earth was IBM thinking?

Comments (28)



  • adam

    hands up people! Ben is coming through with his machine battery..

    #1Posted by adam | Jul 18, 2007, 11:00 AM
  • Mark W. Breneman

    LOL, Wow that is an impressive looking Battery. Just wait the buzz in the CF blogosphere next will be, "Ben gets caught smuggling a lithium-ion electron repositor through air port security."

  • Craig

    lol.

    Remember, don't cross the streams.

    #3Posted by Craig | Jul 18, 2007, 04:16 PM
  • Chris

    Actually it is not just IBM... HP uses the same "innovative design" (isn't that what the sales crowds call all the changes?) ;-)

    Chris

    #4Posted by Chris | Jul 19, 2007, 08:03 AM
  • -paul

    too funny!

    #5Posted by -paul | Jul 19, 2007, 05:11 PM
  • Phillip Kerman

    Yeah, I am more concerned another passenger will tackle me when I swap that same battery out.

    #6Posted by Phillip Kerman | Jul 22, 2007, 10:22 PM
  • rachel perkins

    i suspect they were thinking "how can we make this fit neatly in the laptop and not take up too much space?". seriously, do you really think that computer hardware designers should have to be concerned with how the battery might look in an xray machine when they're designing it?

    #7Posted by rachel perkins | Aug 8, 2007, 04:09 PM
  • Tom Welsh

    So, no L-shaped artifacts in our society, then! Presumably we must also avoid making anything that could conceivably be imagined to resemble a hand grenade. So no (real) potato mashers, nothing at all egg-shaped and approximately fist-sized... Nothing triangular, either (could be a dagger), or long and thin (sword), or cylindrical (mortar tube). And, of course, anything - no matter what shape it is, including a perfect cube - could be a block of explosive.

    Or we could quit worrying and get on with our lives, secure in the knowledge that we are 32 to 1,000 times less likely to die of terrorism than through everyday risks ranging from murder by a fellow citizen to heart disease. http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2007/Jul-27-1.html...

    Actually, the danger from terrorism is far lower than even those charts suggest. 3,000 people died in the course of one day, 6 years ago. Since then - zip.

    #8Posted by Tom Welsh | Aug 8, 2007, 04:25 PM
  • Steve

    And, of course, no _hands._ I don't have the statistic handy, but some homicides are accomplished with bare hands. Every terrorist (above the brainwashed bomb-mule level, anyway) knows that it's not what _he_ does, but what he can goad the target government into doing that does the real damage. So why is the government of the United States cooperating so enthusiastically with the Islamists? If I were a lawyer, I could probably make a convincing case for the proposition that the Patriot Act was an act of war against the people of the United States, which is a legal hairsbreadth away from the definition in Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution.

    #9Posted by Steve | Aug 8, 2007, 05:35 PM
  • Lord Voldemort

    Right. Design for the shallow end of the gene pool--TSA scan operators.

    #10Posted by Lord Voldemort | Aug 8, 2007, 06:15 PM
  • Matt Palmer

    Strange... that looks like a standard T-series battery to me, and I went through a load of checkpoints in the land of the free-to-be-cavity-searched with two spare batteries (one standard size, like the one pictured, and one extra-capacity bit-hanging-out-the-back size) for my T43 a couple of months ago, and never got pegged. Reminds me of the poor sod whose MintyBoost iPod charger almost got him sent to the Gulag (http://www.natch.net/stuff/TSA/). Arbitrary decisions, made by the incompetent. What fun.

  • jayh

    Contrast this with the incredible flip side of TSA incompetence (lucky for me in this case).

    A while back, just before my flight I checked the weather at my destination and decided that my leather jacket was too much so I grabbed a light jacket (which I had not used in several months) from the hook. I got thru security, including x-ray of my jacket and was wandering around the 'secure area' waiting for my flight when I reached in my pocket and realized I was carrying a substantial lock-back knife. They completely missed this, I guess they were too busy worrying about homemade ipod chargers.

    To avoid further problems I tossed it in a trashcan in the mens room (but that was probably a crime too)

    #12Posted by jayh | Aug 9, 2007, 10:18 AM
  • Tom Welsh

    Why, that's nothing! You can apparently carry *mammals* through TSA checks:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/08/fist_sized...

    #13Posted by Tom Welsh | Aug 9, 2007, 12:30 PM
  • Stephen

    I don't know why you have problems with it... I have the exact same spare battery in my laptop bag, and I fly several times per week, yet I've never <i>once</i> had my bag checked. Maybe you look a little shifty, or have arab features?

    #14Posted by Stephen | Aug 9, 2007, 02:02 PM
  • Mark Cook

    Man, if that battery looks like a "gun", then *I* look like Britney Spears!

    #15Posted by Mark Cook | Aug 15, 2007, 05:22 PM
  • Exothermicus

    LOL, I inadvertently gave airport screeners a mild heart attack back in the late 80's, when I caught a bulk pack of AA batteries on sale while on a trip. I had them in my brief case that I put through the X-Ray scanner. The screener turned white as a sheet and carefully asked me to allow them to do a closer inspection.

    It turned out that the bulk package of AA's looked just like a box of bullets under the X-Ray.

    A few years later, Prime Time kept doing stories on how baggage loaders were stealing valuables out of passenger luggage, so I created a light sensitive suit-case alarm. The first few times I used it I did not have any difficulties, but on the third trip, I was having issues with stray RF fields causing it to be triggered. My bag was missing when I arrived at my destination, with the only explanation being that it would arrive on a later flight. A few hours later my bag was delivered by a nervous young boy who quickly rang the doorbell, leaving the bag by the door, and running back to his vehicle. My Alarm was blaring away loudly.

    Needless to say, recent events have made such fun impractical.

    Exo

    #16Posted by Exothermicus | Aug 15, 2007, 07:09 PM
  • Dean

    I work for the New Zealand Aviation Security Service, AVSEC and am a little surprised that screeners in the US could mistake a Laptop Battery for a firearm, the x-ray image of the battery would show it as a battery, a handgun looks like a handgun. I will agree that in a densely packed bag some things look like handgun components, you good old stapler partially obscured under x-ray looks like the slide and return spring of a automatic pistol, single column laptop batteries can look like a barrel (just the barrel not a "gun")

    One a lighter not, I am convinced after 7 years doing this work that if it fits through a x-ray machine, someone will try and take it on to an airplane. Just a side-note to our lady travellers, we can see everything in the bag, everything.....

    #17Posted by Dean | Aug 17, 2007, 07:02 PM
  • Mixer

    I've gotta agree with Mark Cook and Dean. This looks nothing like a gun!

    If it's supposed to resemble a semiautomatic pistol, where's the grip and magazine well? (And trigger, and trigger guard...) If it's supposed to resemble a partly stripped down pistol, well, the long rectangular part conceivably could be somewhat similar to the slide (as could any dense rectangle within a fairly liberal range of dimensions), but the squiggly bits to the top left are all wrong (there's nothing sticking out there on a slide, as it would prevent, erm, sliding.)

    I think this perhpas resembled a stripped-down pistol to someone who was merely GUESSING what one looks like.

    #18Posted by Mixer | Aug 22, 2007, 07:27 AM
  • Dean

    What people need to know is screeners deal with x-ray images, what looks perfectly "normal" sitting in your hand can look unusual as an x-ray image. as I posted previously people take all sorts of unusual things into the cabin of an aircraft, I am still seeing unusual things all the time.

    A lot of passengers are working and take unusual electronic equipment or samples with them when they travel, only last week I had a Doctor taking the machine used for cauterising tissue in an operating theatre, she was taking it to be serviced so rather than ship it, as she was going to the city on buisness, she though why not just take it with me, no drama's and it only took two minutes of friendly discussion on what it was, what it did and who she was for her to move on.

    #19Posted by Dean | Aug 23, 2007, 06:07 PM
  • eddy eddy

    It doesn't look like a gun.

    #20Posted by eddy eddy | Aug 25, 2007, 02:37 AM
  • Jason Martin

    Actually it DOES look like the slide to a 1911.

    http://www.mybuilds.com/images/1911slide.jpg

    Jason

  • Mixer

    "Actually it DOES look like the slide to a 1911. "

    Only to the extent that any rectangular object somewhat resembles a slide.
    The details are all totally dissimilar. In particular, as I noted above, the irregular shaped protrusions sticking out to the top right of th battery on the photo look NOTHING like any pistol slide ever built, as they would obviously stop the darn thing from sliding. (Yes, a slide does have a return spring well, but it is much smaller, and completely smooth.)

    On x-ray, the similarity would be even less; a pistol slide is hollow, but the battery is pretty well solid metal.

    #22Posted by Mixer | Sep 2, 2007, 12:18 AM
  • Dean

    Although on outwards appearance it may resemble a slide, on an x-ray image it clearly would not . The x-ray image would show the batteries individual power cells, if I new the actual model of the battery I could check how many cells it had (looks perhaps to contain 6) As I posted before a large stapler partially obscured by other dense objects in a bag, large amounts of papers, books etc looks more like a pistol slide as it has, the metal "slide" (carriers for the staples) a rod, and a "return spring" As most people are aware, even terrorist so I am not giving anything away here, a lot of modern pistols have polymer frames so its the barrel slide return spring that are the most obvious.

    #23Posted by Dean | Sep 7, 2007, 12:23 AM
  • lory

    Only to the extent that any rectangular object somewhat resembles a slide.
    The details are all totally dissimilar. In particular, as I noted above, the irregular shaped protrusions sticking out to the top right of th battery on the photo look NOTHING like any pistol slide ever built, as they would obviously stop the darn thing from sliding. (Yes, a slide does have a return spring well, but it is much smaller, and completely smooth.)
    http://www.batteryfast.com/compaqhp/372114-001.php...
    http://www.batteryfast.com/compaqhp/f2019b.php
    http://www.batteryfast.com/compaqhp/hstnn-db11.php...

    #24Posted by lory | Oct 22, 2007, 03:17 AM
  • battery

    If it's supposed to resemble a semiautomatic pistol, where's the grip and magazine well? (And trigger, and trigger guard...) If it's supposed to resemble a partly stripped down pistol, well, the long rectangular part conceivably could be somewhat similar to the slide (as could any dense rectangle within a fairly liberal range of dimensions), but the squiggly bits to the top left are all wrong (there's nothing sticking out there on a slide, as it would prevent, erm, sliding.)

    #25Posted by battery | Dec 10, 2007, 08:24 PM
  • jacky

    oh,no!This looks nothing like a gun!

    #26Posted by jacky | Dec 28, 2007, 08:12 PM
  • sam

    Verizon is about the only place you can get the authentic RIM product and matching door. Most other sites are out of stock and even when they are in stock they have the black battery door which looks like crap. http://www.batteryfast.co.uk
    I tested this camera for a client. I didn’t have the light running for more than 15 minutes. The battery lasted approximately 6 hours before recharging. The LCD, however, had a few dead pixels - never saw this before. Tried returning for exchange and had to put up quite a fight. Anyone else seen this? http://www.batteryfast.com
    :)

    #27Posted by sam | Feb 20, 2008, 07:22 PM
  • eskids

    http://www.kaboodle.com/bcamera

    #28Posted by eskids | Jan 2, 2009, 09:38 AM