Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Badges? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges!

Actually, we do.  I do.

I now have a company badge for my new job, and I have a special government ID card which gets me in to certain buildings and allows me to access computers.

Once, I had to go into a women's prison.  The security was pretty amazing ~ it was easier to get into the Pentagon.  The building where I report every day is harder to get into than the prison.  I need that government badge, and both badges must be worn above the waist at all times.  If the badge is not visible, I am subject to challenge.  It is unlikely anyone in that area wouldn't have a badge.

Without the badge, one needs a red visitor's badge which will open certain doors (but not all) and an escort at all times.  That's after going through airport security.

With the badge, one needs to go place the badge on a reader and go through a revolving door.  You can leave through that door without showing a badge, but if someone steps into both sides at the same time the door stps and noisy things happen.

After that, is what I call an airlock: a little glass room with doors for and aft.  You show the badge and the door opens.  You step in, the door closes and then the next door opens.  It is not for the claustrophobic.  It is designed for Get Smart fans.  To exit, you must show the badge to the reader on the inside side.

Finally, you get to the elevator and up to our offices.  To get into the office area, you need to present your card and enter a PIN on the keypad.  You don't need the card to exit.  I mention this because I have been in rooms where you must present your card when you enter and when you leave ~ if you don't, the system "knows" you're still in the room and it won't let you back in.

Then your card goes into your computer to unlock it.  No card, no access.  Disks are encrypted so you can't hack your way in.

So it's possible to sit down, put your card into the computer, and decide you need to get rid of that last cup of coffee.  You go out and... you're stuck in limbo.  You can't get back in because you need your card.  You can't get into the airlock because you need your card.

Why am I mentioning this in a t-blog?  Two reasons:

1. entertainment value.  It is pretty ridiculous.  Any classified work is done in rooms with additional security.  No particularly vital people work there.  So I don't see the point, except to make the people who work there feel vital.

2. I now have two badges that are useable as ID for, say, voting or cheque cashing or airport security.  In both I am wearing women's shirts.  I made a point of touching up my gloss before each photo was taken.

Is it obvious?  Not unless you look closely.  So the point?  I'm wearing clothes I like in both photos.  That's all.  It's a small thing, but important to me.


  1. "So it's possible to sit down, put your card into the computer, and decide you need to get rid of that last cup of coffee. You go out and... you're stuck in limbo. You can't get back in because you need your card. You can't get into the airlock because you need your card."

    I think I see the point of this...if any of it has a point and is not just "security theater". The idea is that you cannot leave your computer logged on and running and leave the area. You must log off, remove the card, and then leave. Why? So no one other than YOU can use your computer while you're away.

  2. To a similar extent that I may present as an ersatz lady from time to time I think that much of what passes for security these days is designed primarily to give the outward appearance that there is actual security. More delay and inconvenience than actual security seems to be the rule. If it were up to me I would abandon the TSA and go for the El Al profile system.

    I need a pass card to get into my office. I need a different key fob to enter my building and a separate key fob to get into the men's room. There is a different fob for the ladies room that has not been issued to me.

    Last month all of our 'issued' cell phones / blackberrys had an automatic pass code added to their system. Now if I leave the unit unused for a mere 10 minutes or put it back in its case for only a second I have to re-input a full password. What a pain. I have to find and put on my reading glasses to see the keypad then hope my thumbs are adequately agile to get the password correct, then I have to read the message often to find out the only message is a piece of span....It does not make me feel even an ounce more secure. Just one more pain of living in the modern age.


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