Crossing the border...
I was on travel this week - spent most of it in Canada. Crossing the border was an interesting experience.
When I fill out the forms used for immigration, I always tell the truth. Yes, I'm here on business (check that box). No, I haven't been on a farm. No, I don't have any business material with me. That sort of stuff.
Well, this time, honesty sort of backfired. Why:
- Yes, I'm here on business
- No, I don't have work materials
- Yes, I have a laptop
It was that last bit. The customs agent wanted to know "is that your employers laptop" - nope, it is mine. "Do you do work on it, business work?". Well, I read email, browse the web, have all of my presentations on it, use it to present, run Oracle on it, demonstrate with it. "So, it is your companies laptop then?". Nope, it is mine.
They scribbled someone on the immigration form, handed it to me and said "have a nice trip". I head out of baggage claim - but instead of being told to go right (to freedom), I'm directed to the left - to additional scrutiny. No worries - nothing to be found, no problem.
So, I wait a bit and finally someone comes along and says "ok, over here". They read the form and we go through the whole "business or personal, who owns that computer" stuff again. Same answers. He asks to see my computer (a small Sony Vaio). I oblige. He spent a couple of minutes looking at it, rotating it, studying it, turning it around, flipping it over, looking it all up and down. I finally asked "are you looking for something?". He said "the latch, to open it". There is no latch, just lift the lid. "Ahhhh, got it".
So, we have the laptop open now - he wants to turn it on. Before doing that - he asks "is it password protected?". I said "some of it is". This perplexed him - I don't think he's ever heard that before. So we turn it on. We are presented with a logon screen - but with three choices:
He asks me how to proceed. I was a bit dumbfounded at that point - what do you mean? "Well, what should I click on to log in". I tried to explain what the three accounts were- Administrator used to, well, administer the machine. Family - used by, well, my kids to play games. Tkyte - used by, well "me". He asked me to pick one. So I said let's use tkyte, I know that one best.
He clicks on it and it asks for a password. He looks surprised and says "it needs a password". I was like - that is OK, I have it, here you go... Now he is logged in. But - my desktop looks a tad different from most - there is no IE on the desktop, just the recycle bin and a folder called programs - nothing else.
He really doesn't know what to do now. No special searching software, nothing. He looks at me and says "you know what we are doing here right?". I said - not really (I knew what we were doing, I read the news and all, but just said "no"). "Well" he says "we are looking for pornography". Ahh I say... Ok, no problem.
But he is stuck. There is nothing familiar. So he clicks on the start menu and finds "My Pictures". You know, if I was into that - that is precisely where I would stick all of my porn - right there in "My Pictures". He goes into it - and sees all of my folders. And al of my pictures, which we looked at. He said "wow, you travel a lot", I said "yup".
Now, after about 15 minutes of looking at my pictures (I have to resist the urge to point him to my favorites :) he shuts down my computer and says "Ok sir, thank you very much, have a nice trip".
What an utter and complete waste of time. His, mine, all of it.
I have three accounts, tens of thousands of files. Each account sees a different set of files. I seriously doubt I would keep in "My Pictures" a folder full of "not good stuff". Heck, I might encrypt the data, I might hide the file name, I might put it somewhere not obvious, I might use an account not visible on the logon window by default. I might do a lot of stuff.
The person doing the search - they were afraid of the computer. They did not use one. They did not know what they were looking for. They did not know how to look for it. I felt like giving him POINTERS as we were going through this. I had to bite my tongue and refrain from giving him tips. The reason - the last person on the planet you want to annoy - the customs people at a border crossing. They can really ruin your day if they want to.
So, I just smiled and acted all patient. Moved on when it was time to move one.
But, what an utter and total waste of time, money, everything.
And - it makes them look "not smart".
Just a good thing they didn't look in the recycle bin ;)