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Portables Hardware

Portables Without Cameras? 442

crankyspice writes "I work routinely in environments where a camera cannot physically be present (e.g., federal court), which really limits what I can carry with me. For instance, I'm a Mac guy, but there's no way to order a MacBook without a built-in webcam (which I've never used on the machines I've owned that have had one). Ditto the iPhone. I'm left with a BlackBerry 8830 and the bottom rung of the [W|L]Intel portables. Even then, when I ordered a Dell Mini 9, I had to wait more than a month because I specified no webcam when I placed the order. This is a relatively common (government, law, sensitive corporate environments) requirement; what have other Slashdotters done? Disabling the camera with a script or somesuch won't convince the $12/hour security guard that there's no camera. How can one easily find portable devices without a built-in camera?"
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Portables Without Cameras?

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  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:17PM (#27795137) Homepage Journal

    Disabling the camera with a script or somesuch won't convince the $12/hour security guard that there's no camera. How can one easily find portable devices without a built-in camera?

    Simple, non-technical solution: just hire $10/hour security guards!
    • by timothy ( 36799 ) Works for Slashdot on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:37PM (#27795261) Journal

      Not necessarily better!

      I've seen many crazy things to do w/ "security" guards, in all regions of the U.S. and various contexts (courthouses, airports, etc.) A friend of mine had his P38 (old military style) can opener taken off his keychain in the Bucks County Courthouse (PA); it's hard to believe that it's (much) more dangerous as a slashing implement than most of the other keys on the same keychain. And the keychain itself could be used to bludgeon someone. And the strap of my messenger bag could have quite satisfyingly throttled that simpering, simple-headed nogoodnik of a "security guard" in the first place.

      True: walked into a parole office in New Jersey with a fellow about to start parole. The lazy, snickering security guard spotted us after we'd both entered, through the (unattended) flimsy, Soviet-style metal-detector that probably had guts cheaper than the kind you see guys sweeping down the beach. The new parolee, who was carrying nothing, was asked to actually go through the device. I was not (had to ask special) -- even though I was carrying a bag that could have had a few dozen grenades, or mice, or whatever. Perhaps it was because I was wearing a Suit of Hypnosis and a Tie of Knotting.

      Guard soon went back to guarding his GameBoy in the corner 20 or more feet from the entrance.


      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I run into folks like you at work all the time. Most of us just refer to you guys as assholes. It's astonishing to me how arrogant people can be.

        I'm ultimately the one that's going to have to look for any IEDs that somebody might plant in my part of the building as well as screen vehicles coming in. I get that you make more than I do, but that's really no reason to act like such a jack ass.

        You know it's not exactly stress free working at one of the top hundred terrorist targets. And having to put up with ar

      • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @11:30PM (#27795555) Journal

        A friend of mine had his P38 (old military style) can opener taken off his keychain in the Bucks County Courthouse (PA)

        A P38 can opener, for those of you who don't know, is quite possibly the least expensive can-opener possible. It could be accurately be described as a "hinged razor-blade."

        It's really no surprise at all that the security guard wouldn't let that pass. Especially as they're made of stamped aluminum and probably worth about .10 cents each.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TClevenger ( 252206 )

          A P38 can opener, for those of you who don't know, is quite possibly the least expensive can-opener possible. It could be accurately be described as a "hinged razor-blade."

          I don't know about new ones, but mine's from the 80's and is dull as can be. Still does a great job on cans. I've carried through airports and courthouses all over the US and Europe on my keychain, and it's never been a problem.

          They're less than a buck, and a great thing to have on your keychain.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jsiren ( 886858 )

          A P38 can opener, for those of you who don't know, is quite possibly the least expensive can-opener possible. It could be accurately be described as a "hinged razor-blade."

          The very least expensive can-opener possible is a P38 without the hinge. A fancy Fiskars version [myllymaki.fi], which is about 5 times more expensive than the usual non-fancy version.

      • by Forge ( 2456 ) <kevinforge@@@gmail...com> on Friday May 01, 2009 @11:58PM (#27795673) Homepage Journal
        Usually the problem isn't how dumb the guard is. Most guards just aren't permitted to think anyway.

        More than once I have asked "why do you have this rule or that" and gotten the response: "Because the boss must be on crack or something".

        As for the cameras issue. That is legit. Not only do courts sometimes deal with cases where identities must be protected (I.e. It's bad enough little Sandy has to testify against her Daddy for molesting her, but putting her picture on the net would make it a whole lot worse) but there are other "institutions" that have vested interest in being photograph free. I.e. Many titty Bars ban Cams to protect the day jobs and church membership of part time strippers as well as the Senate seat of tonight's #1 tipper.

        As for cam less devices. Nothing wrong with having a low end device. I.e. In a courtroom, You don't need a high frame rate or surround sound. Even my lowly old Dell Latitude D620 is overkill for legitimate courtroom usage.

        Phones are a bigger problem. It's getting real hard to find phones with Email, 3G and WiFi without a built in Camera.

        I'm shocked nobody has capitalized on this to release "Cam-less mods" for those Blackberrys where the cam can be hidden and crippled by changing the user removable back panel for one without the lens opening.
        • by Chaos Incarnate ( 772793 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @12:22AM (#27795817) Homepage
          The main thing wrong with having a low end device is that you end up needing two devices. One for use in the camless environment, and one for your normal work--when the latter would function just fine for everything if it didn't have the camera.
        • by blincoln ( 592401 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @02:22AM (#27796409) Homepage Journal

          As for the cameras issue. That is legit. Not only do courts sometimes deal with cases where identities must be protected (I.e. It's bad enough little Sandy has to testify against her Daddy for molesting her, but putting her picture on the net would make it a whole lot worse) but there are other "institutions" that have vested interest in being photograph free. I.e. Many titty Bars ban Cams to protect the day jobs and church membership of part time strippers as well as the Senate seat of tonight's #1 tipper.

          The ability to effectively enforce a ban on cameras is something that's only possible for the current relative sliver of history. What are those organizations going to do when technology allows virtually anyone to covertly record what they see through their eyes (organic or cybernetic)? They should start thinking about that now, because in the not-too-distant future they will have no choice but to allow it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by pbhj ( 607776 )

            What are those organizations going to do when technology allows virtually anyone to covertly record what they see through their eyes (organic or cybernetic)? They should start thinking about that now, because in the not-too-distant future they will have no choice but to allow it.

            Blindfolds are cheap, they'll need foil linings to avoid people have IR (or other non-visible spectrum receiver) eyes though.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by cdrmret ( 523725 ) *
            I missed a chance to have a video cam and voice activated recorder installed when I had total knee replacement this winter. I won't make that mistake again. The way metal detectors and guards treat my knee you'd think it was a nuclear (not nuculer) device. Sometimes its hell getting old...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by icebike ( 68054 )

          The a third party "repair" sites that specialize in removing cameras from phones, such as the iPhone. (Your warranty is removed along with the camera).

          These guys do a pretty good business around military bases where high value assets are located, such as most Navy Bases and some Air Force bases. You often can not have a cell phone with a camera on such bases, (especially if you are a civilian employee/contractor).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Or better yet, get a piece of trim tape that matches closely to the color of the laptop bezel. Cut it to match and look stock.

      When asked, say "If I ordered one with a camera, that's where it would go" If you use an automotive class trim or striping tape it will not easily come off or peel at the edges.

      it's very VERY easy to outwit $12.00 an hour security.

      • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Friday May 01, 2009 @11:46PM (#27795633) Homepage Journal

        This isn't about outwitting security. That's the easy part. The real problem is if you get caught in a high security facility with a camera, it's your job and probably worse. If you add to that the fact that you were actively trying to hide it (with "automotive class trim") you might be accused of espionage.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        That approach works okay until you try to outwit Marine Corps guards stationed between upper and lower base on an installation that holds nuclear submarines. Yeah, you might get away with it once (or even twice), but the consequences of getting caught are rather unpleasant.
    • by Ruede ( 824831 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:51PM (#27795333)
      what the 20$/hour techy doesnt get is that the 12$/hour guard knows that a camera that is switched off, can easily be switched back on.
    • I have a 1/4 inch drill bit that can disable any camera in any device in minutes, and I think that any security guard would be able to see that it would never work again.

  • I've just cruised through this list of netbooks [amazon.com] over at Amazon. It returned just over 5,000 results and I can't find one without a camera. I'll keep looking but this leads me to believe that you may just need to look at a regular laptop. And the wait is probably going to exist otherwise because you are obviously looking for something that is just outside the norm for these.
      This discussion [c0t0d0s0.org] from last September didn't turn up anything, except the Mini 9 - which you already mention. Though they do bring up one option that I think is the best bet; to open up the case, yank the camera and fill in the spot where it went. It can't be that hard. If some guy can fit an LCD behind the apple logo [slashdot.org] - you can get the camera out.
    The phone issue I find being brought up going back to 2005 and it's probably older - this seemed to offer hope [yahoo.com] and mentions a few models but it's old and I'm not sure how stuff would have carried forward. Most stuff I find mentions Blackberry which you already have. So my guess is that there is no treasure trove of camera free devices that you have missed. You are just in a tough spot.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:24PM (#27795185)
      If it has a camera, it will often have to be removed by the IT/Security organization, so it can be properly "signed off." This doesn't happen often, as it often involves a lot of paperwork. Removing it yourself won't work, since it can't be "certified." Also, if the factory spec for the network shows a camera, then it has a camera - unless it's removed and documented by the appropriate people (see above). At least for cellphones, I know the business offerings from ATT have CURRENT cellphones with and without cameras. You won't see the no-camera offerings unless you're looking at their business offerings.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Removing it yourself won't work, since it can't be "certified."

        Drill out the camera with a 1/4" drill bit. Then when the security guy points out the camera hole, SHOVE A PENCIL THROUGH IT!

        Most webcams are on their own circuit board above the display. If you wanted to save it, to put back in later, you could remove the board, then drill out the case.

        • Or you could just put the "automotive class trim" over it to fool the $12/hr security guard and not have to deal with all the drama, and if you're accused of espionage then peel it off for a minute and stick a pencil through it.
      • by Michael.Forman ( 169981 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @12:49AM (#27795951) Homepage Journal
        I work in a very secure environment that cannot have cameras as well. Our cameras are disabled in hardware by opening up the laptop case, disconnecting the camera cable from the motherboard, covering the camera lens with an opaque sticker, and then placing a tamperproof security sticker over a case screw. Our laptops are inspected by our security force by verifying the presence of the opaque sticker and tamperproof security sticker. Almost all laptops have separate cables for the integrated camera, however the unibody 17" Mac Book Pro that I just purchased does not. They had to pull the cable on the camera, Bluetooth, and WiFi all at once. I have to use a third-party wireless card for WiFi now but to me that's just part of the job.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          They probably just couldn't get behind the LCD to disconnect the camera at the source. That's as far as I got disassembling the unibody too. If you're willing to cut the cable you can keep Wi-Fi and just lose camara + bluetooth.

          If anyone knows how to access the hidden screws in the unibody LCD, please let me know. I'm guessing that a special tool is involved.

    • Get an OQO (Score:5, Informative)

      by clam666 ( 1178429 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:58PM (#27795373)

      Get an OQO. Fits in a pocket, full windows xp/vista. Mobile broadband built right in. Extended batteries for hours of use.

      http://www.oqo.com/ [oqo.com]

    • by SectoidRandom ( 87023 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @01:07AM (#27796053) Homepage

      I don't know what both you and the original question asker are talking about.

      I just went onto Dell's website and looked at the first range of laptops that I would ever consider for myself and NONE of the models have webcams? Why?

      Because I selected 'Enterprise / Corporate' on the first page and not 'Home - give-me-all-your-crap-that-only-the-children-would-use'. :)

      Come to think of it, I've only ever owned one laptop with a webcam, that that was back in the day (>5 years ago) when the only way to get a decent 3d card in a laptop was to go for the home models, since then none of my laptops have them simply because when I buy a laptop I want one designed to work, not look good, etc.

      Dell Examples [dell.com]

      HP Examples [hp.com]

      BTW, pretty much any business model laptop will include a model without webcam, for the exact reason raised by the original questioner.

  • thinkpad (Score:2, Informative)

    by b0b0tiken ( 1010969 )

    check out the T400 or the T61 if they still sell it.

    • by AaronW ( 33736 )
      I have a T61 and it has an integrated camera. I don't know if it's available without one though.
  • dude.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joocemann ( 1273720 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:23PM (#27795179)

    The answer is simple. Break the camera device. It won't break your computer or portable. . it will break the camera.

    Make it so it is obvious when you point it out.

  • A glob of two part epoxy over the lense should do the trick for you.

    (Someone else asked about black berrys)

    On a crack-berry, if you don't WANT to read the emails
    when you take it out of the hoslster (like, to answer
    the PHONE), drill out the magnet in the holster.

    • Especially since, done properly, it's easy to install as a fake and pop right off for when you do want a recording of the judge's hijinx in the court room
    • by Morkano ( 786068 )

      Drilling out the magnet will prevent it from going to sleep when you stick it in there, fyi. Bad for the battery life.

  • by ggendel ( 1061214 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:23PM (#27795183)
    Many high security establishments, both government and commercial, realize that they can't stop technology without serious concessions. What some do are to put a special tamper-proof tag over the camera. Then they just inspect the tag when you exit and, if tampered, confiscate the device until it can be validated.
    • by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:58PM (#27795377)

      Many high security establishments, both government and commercial, realize that they can't stop technology without serious concessions. What some do are to put a special tamper-proof tag over the camera. Then they just inspect the tag when you exit and, if tampered, confiscate the device until it can be validated.

      What good would confiscating the device after the fact do? If these are really "high security" establishments as you say, wouldn't they be concerned that you might "tamper" with the tag, use the camera to photograph or record video of sensitive materials or discussions, then encrypt and transmit said photos or videos to a far-off website, all before leaving the establishment? Confiscating the device at that point would be like closing the barn door after the horses escaped.

      • Yes, but they'll know which stable-boy's ass to fill with firecrackers!
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by StikyPad ( 445176 )

        True high-security environments are designed against RF leakage, although as the poster states, such environments wouldn't allow a camera in to begin with. Actually they usually prohibit cell phones of any type, so it's all moot. It's sort of overkill, because there's nothing to keep people from remembering what they see, and if they work there they probably see quite a lot. Such schisms are typical of government though.. place armed guards at the entrance who will let you in with a dollar bill wrapped a

      • Well if the area was sheilded so you could not make a wireless connection then you would have to store the data on the device.
      • The problem that I see is that these kinds of devices are pretty obvious about containing a camera. I'm sure a dedicated microcamera using the same kind of module and some compact electronics could be better concealed than an iPhone or a notebook computer. I think one can be easily made that's about the size of a dinner mint with inexpensive and mostly off the shelf parts, if you don't require a screen.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bwcbwc ( 601780 )

        If it's a true high-security environment, it's a tin-foil building. Good luck transmitting through that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Strider- ( 39683 )
      Most high security places I have been don't allow any outside technology to begin with. You walk in the door, lock your phone, USB stick, and whatever else into a locker and take the key. Any remaining bags (Women's purses etc) are hand-searched.

      When you're in a truly secure environment, it's the only way to be sure. On the other hand, I was working on a base once, and after several trips through the security checkpoint, the guards got annoyed and just slapped an "Unclassified" sticker on my laptop.

  • I attend several film festivals each year, which include several world premieres and advanced screenings. Some of those festivals can be pretty picky about even camera phones.

    I guess I don't understand the original question. There's no secret website where all the items lack cameras, but almost every site lists a full spec for their products, including the presence (or lack of) camera. There is a market for those that don't want cameras, so devices exist and will continue to exist.

    Instead of an iPhone, I

  • keep digging, Watson (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KillerBob ( 217953 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:26PM (#27795201)

    Choosing an option without a webcam isn't why you had to wait for your Mini 9. When I ordered one (64GB HDD, Ubuntu, 2GB of RAM, no webcam) I got it inside of a week. Chances are the reason you had to wait was because you chose a common configuration that everybody else was ordering.

    You could also look at a larger screen size of a notebook. Again with Dells, you can quite easily specify no webcam option. It's actually a charged upgrade for them to get the webcam. I'm fairly sure that other manufacturers can also sell you a notebook without a webcam, but HP doesn't sell a consumer laptop with Linux preinstalled. :)

  • If it is that important to you, then "remove" it yourself. Probably the easiest thing to do is to find a thin sheet of plastic the same color as the case and epoxy and small piece of it over the camera. This pretty much permanently disables it and doesn't overly mess up the look of the machine.

  • Drill (Score:2, Insightful)

    by emeitner ( 513842 )

    A drill with a 1/4" bit will surely remove the offending camera from the device and, if done properly, will convince even the $7/hr guards while leaving the device operable. YMMV.

  • I use a HP TC1100 [wikipedia.org] as a portable. 40 gig hard drive, 1 Ghz processor, gig of RAM, WinXP Tablet Edition. It's a tough little machine with a full 1024x768 tablet (stylus) screen.

    You can normally find them with their docking station for about 400 on eBay. It's a great little machine.
  • by modestgeek ( 1449921 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:27PM (#27795217)
    I'm tired of not being able to bring my cell phone into the strip club... I don't wear a watch and rely on the phone for time as well as coordination. The last bachelor party we went to ran WAY over because nobody knew the time and where to meet the limo.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by StikyPad ( 445176 )

      I've never been to a strip club that didn't allow phones w/cameras. Taking pictures is another issue, but good luck getting a worthwhile picture without flash photography anyway. (No pun intended).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:34PM (#27795255)
    http://images.apple.com/server/macosx/docs/Leopard_Security_Config_2nd_Ed.pdf [apple.com] Page 47: You can also have an Apple Authorized Technician remove the built-in video camera hardware from your Apple computer.
    • Software disabling is *not* enough in these situations, as they anything that can be turned off with software can be turned back on with software

      This has been a problem for quite some time, however, there are some places that are normally camera-averse that don't have the same restrictions on laptops with cameras. (it's a bit more obvious if you're trying to take a picture in a courtroom with a laptop camera, whereas a phone based camera can be more easily palmed

      In other cases, the limitations may be based

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by iamacat ( 583406 )

        Just re-read the grandparent post. Apple authorized technician can remove iSight, Bluetooth, etc as needed so you can order your favorite Mac and make it security-compliant.

  • Why wait to get a stupid notebook/cell phone/whatever when I'm sure you or a friend have a drill? Just drill the damned thing out, and caulk up the hole.

    I'm pretty sure that will convince folks that you don't have a camera installed.

    The Nate

  • military solution (Score:5, Informative)

    by v1 ( 525388 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @10:45PM (#27795301) Homepage Journal

    The US govt bought some macbooks without cameras. I don't know if Apple removed them before selling to them, or if they had a 3rd party doing the removal process. What I DO know is they were manufactured with the cameras in them, and removed after production and packaging.

    • Re:military solution (Score:5, Informative)

      by paxswill ( 934322 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @11:38PM (#27795599)
      You can get Apple to remove the camera. I remember reading in a security document about disabling the camera. An option listed is to have it removed by an Apple service center (an Apple Store might do it, but unlikely), and they'll make a note of it in the Applecare database. You get a warranty, no camera, and access to secured areas.
  • Either pay more for a device with fewer features, or spend a minute, drill the lens out and plug the hole with some epoxy. Touch up with some enamel paint. If you don't like to do it yourself, any number of repair shops (just about any kind) can do it for you.

    Same way it's usually cheaper and much easier to buy a PC with Windows, delete it and install Ubuntu than try to find a manufacturer to supply it for you out of the box.

  • by Sybert42 ( 1309493 ) * on Friday May 01, 2009 @11:02PM (#27795407) Journal

    There's someone who's implanting a camera to replace a glass eye. With the singularity and associated transhumanism, this will get more complicated.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 01, 2009 @11:06PM (#27795421)

    I have a similar working situation. Here, we petitioned to be allowed to bring in devices with cameras. The seriously non-technical solution we arrived at is to spray paint over the lens with the color of the case, let it dry, then superglue a piece of clear plastic over the spray paint. The judges approved of it (and did it with their own devices) and security was notified to be aware of this modification.

    The only issue? Warranty. The solution? Letter from the judge and from the head of security stating why the procedure was necessary, that to their knowledge the manufacturer of the product has no alternatives without cameras, and to please perform a warranty repair on all portions of the device except the camera. Several of us have taken our devices for repairs. Dell cried like a little girl, but was finally convinced. Apple said no problem, but the camera is not covered. Sony said piss off and die. So, your mileage may vary.

    Nevertheless, it works, and a curious security guard just has to pry at it to realize it is not coming off.

  • I had to go through that a few years ago. Lenovo sells a number of laptops without cameras, so look at what they have. As for phones, that can be even harder.

    Last time I had to buy a phone like that it took me half an hour to get it through rep's at Verizon's head that I wasn't looking for a cheap prepay phone..... When all was said and done I had a choice of three phones in the store, and had to settle for a floor display for an out of production phone.

  • by drolli ( 522659 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @11:13PM (#27795461) Journal

    > Disabling the camera with a script or somesuch won't convince the $12/hour security guard that there's no camera.

    It also would not convince me.

    • > Disabling the camera with a script or somesuch won't convince the $12/hour security guard that there's no camera.

      It also would not convince me.

      Outside of a Federal Building, I'm guessing that most places visited have the same $12/hour Security Guard that is more window dressing than anything. "Uh, I left it in my car" in response to "do you have a cell phone?" works more often than not, sad to say.(not that I condone bending the truth or anything...)

  • The (not low end) thinkpad I got a few months ago had the camera as an option. A brief look at other brands would probably reveal the same thing. Hell, you could just ask the other people working there what they use.

    If you love apple too much to lower youself to using a wintel machine, why not get an old mac? The recent macbooks/ibooks may be camera-free. I know that the Pismo (powerbook g3 400/500) series is great, and can run OSX10.4 (haven't tried 10.5, sorry).

  • Hot soldering iron tip through the lens. I've heard that works; I've no real experience with it.

  • by Yosho ( 135835 ) on Friday May 01, 2009 @11:41PM (#27795613)

    Or paint, or plastic, or whatever.

    Do you really think the guys he works with are so stupid that somebody won't eventually say "hey, is that covering up a camera?" then peel it back and discover the camera there? And then the guy in question will get fired and probably face legal charges for knowingly bringing a functional camera into the place.

    You're best off just getting something without a camera, really. If you absolutely have to get a device with a camera, find a technician who will physically remove the device for you. The feds do not appreciate people who think they can half-ass security measures and get away with it.

    • I have spent some time working at heavily secured government sites in South Korea. They check for cameras on the way in. I got caught once by accident. I got it back at the end of the day. But people I work with there all carry phones and all mobile phones in that country have cameras. They just don't use them on site.

      So yes I believe that covering the camera with tape might be acceptable, stupid as that may seem.
    • by Kesch ( 943326 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @12:12AM (#27795755)

      The feds do not appreciate people who think they can half-ass security measures

      I know! They get really threatened by people who try to outdo them at their own job.

  • I finally did not buy it, but i considered it. I seems to have no camera.

  • Thinkpads! (Score:3, Informative)

    by PhuFighter ( 1172899 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @12:54AM (#27795975)
    Hmm I don't think that only low-end laptops don't have cameras. I have an admittedly out-of-date but still relatively powerful Thinkpad T61p. No camera - security at my work prohibit them as well.
  • Silly question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JWSmythe ( 446288 ) * <jwsmytheNO@SPAMjwsmythe.com> on Saturday May 02, 2009 @01:17AM (#27796121) Homepage Journal

    This is a silly question.

    For the Mac, take it to the Apple store, and ask a tech to open the case. He can remove the camera, control board, etc, etc....

    For most PC laptops, the same can be done by any retailer with a tech on site.

    For the phones, it may be a little harder to get an authorized tech to open it. You may have to ask the store who is a local authorized repair tech.

    If you're not worried about the warranty, do it your self. It's not very hard. If you do it carefully, you can replace the camera later, and if you have to return it for warranty work, they won't be able to tell.

    In any of those cases, I recommend keeping the removed parts, should you want to replace them later.

    Another option may be to "decorate" the case. Home Depot sells glue backed foil for sealing air conditioning ducts. No, not "duct tape", it's foil tape. Some have written marks, and some don't. I'd go with the unmarked ones. Carefully line the edges of your display with the foil, so it doesn't look ugly. Voila, no camera.

    Or option 3.. Bust out the camera with a drill or punch, and fill the hole with a dummy plug or epoxy.

    Since you're in a real security environment, I'd go with options 1 or 3. Option 2 can open you up to liability. Since the camera still exists, you're just hiding it, you could in theory uncover it, use it, and then cover it again before you leave the facility.

    I used to work in a few pseudo-secure facilities. Their rules were that no recording devices of any sort were allowed on the premises. They were datacenters, so the most I could really get was a picture of what other providers were using. Really, that could prove embarrassing if say I came out of an Equinix facility, showing that the IBM enterprise eBusiness managed hosting service was just a mess of desktops and rackmount machines, badly cabled, in partially filled racks at best. Since they advertise that they have their own facilities, even knowing that they are simply a few cabinets in a cage buried in an Equinix facility would be embarrassing.

    I've seen quite a few "enterprise" providers, who run on a few desktop machines jammed into a cabinet. Then again, I've seen even more "enterprise" providers with beautiful setups. It's funny, their customers never get to see the real setup, but a tech who is there to work for another company gets the full view. :)

    Anyways, I used to carry cameras, my cell with a camera, or whatever I wanted in. It was a simple matter of burying it so deep in my laptop bag that the security guards wouldn't want to dig through all of it. In the same environments, they require property passes to remove equipment. If you have enough stuff moving, you can move extra stuff too. I've accidentally removed more than the pass showed. It wasn't intentional, it's just that we overlooked a piece, and noticed when we cross-checked the list later. It would have been a lot harder to walk in, and then walk out with just one piece of undocumented equipment.

    I've had the same happen with the TSA. They want to search, so I tell them "Go ahead, but you have to put it back like you found it." They unzipper a few compartments, see that they're jammed with cables for various purposes (I come prepared), and then just wipe it down so they can do their attempt at detecting explosives.

    On the TSA explosives testing (as I digress)... A friend was driving me to the airport to catch a flight back home. We had already arranged with another friend to go to a local shooting range. I burnt off several hundred rounds of 9mm, .45 ACP and 12 Gauge, which means I handled plenty of ammunition and the residue was all over my hands, arms, face, and clothes. I also handled my carry on (obviously). I didn't really think about i

  • Mobile phone cameras (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @01:35AM (#27796215)

    I think the #1 reason its so hard to find a phone with no camera is that the carriers would rather you bought one with a camera (since they can up sell stuff to go with that camera)

    I cant believe that there isn't enough demand for camera phones from consumers for manufacturers to continue to include cameras (being that cameras have a non-zero cost)

  • by pathological liar ( 659969 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @02:14AM (#27796379)

    Cameras were banned at my last job. In fact I had to sign several different layers of paperwork saying I wouldn't bring in any cameras, storage devices, blah blah blah.

    What was the first thing they issued me?

    A cell phone with a camera in it.

  • by azrider ( 918631 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @03:15AM (#27796629)
    A number of years ago, I worked in a DSS Classified Lab as a Systems Admin. Several of us used PDA's to keep technical tips available (as well as the current NISPOM). When PDA's started to ship with wireless, DSS told us (even the SA's who had presumed need to know about everything on every system in the lab) that we could not carry even a PDA w/o wireless.

    Needless to say, productivity went way down.

  • by pacergh ( 882705 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @03:16AM (#27796633)
    This includes Federal court and state court.

    Each court is different. You have to know your court.

    First, if you are an attorney, or go to court regularly as a non-court employee (attorney's assistant, expert witness, etc), then you should have at least one non-camera phone. If you can, try getting a phone you can just pop a SIM chip into and out of easily. (Dunno how well that works in the US -- my US carrier was always Verizon, no SIMs.) Or just go Blackberry (that's what I have, and for that reason).

    Second, if you have a reason for needing your laptop this should not be a problem. The prohibition against camera's is not a universal and absolute prohibition.

    If you're an attorney, speak with the judge for your case. Using a Macbook/MBP as part of your trial is fine. Explain to him your situation, explain to him any added measures you will take to cover the camera (such as tape), and he will let you take it through. (If he does not, well, you're an attorney -- I shouldn't have to tell you how to fix it.)

    If you're not an attorney, but are working for/helping one, then speak with the attorney who is your main contact. Explain the situation and offer multiple ways in which the court may be appeased (such as tape over the camera).

    If the judge knows who has the cameras and something then gets out, there will be no problem. The full wrath of the court can be directed at you for breaching the court's trust.

    If you truly think you NEED the laptop while in court for something other than the case, why? Either you work there, and then you simply need to ask your supervisor/employer for permission, or you don't and there's no reason for you to be chilling in the courthouse browsing the internets and Twittering with Ashton. (And if you're media -- seriously? No excuse for that, either.)

    As for other non-judicial sensitive areas, you're on your own. If I ran a security team at a secure business location, I'd likely not even allow in mobiles to begin with. Regardless, your rights are much more limited in private situations.

    Of course, you could always use the advice of some Slashdotters here. First, since Windows is a pain, either get an Apple service center to remove the camera (or get a Linux machine with no camera). Second, go Windows with no camera.

    Oh, and as for the Dell Mini 9 -- if you are truly an Apple guy, and you get one of these, you better Hackintosh it. I did mine, and it's fantastic.

    Good luck, and have fun.

    - Pacer
  • by chongo ( 113839 ) * on Saturday May 02, 2009 @03:35AM (#27796709) Homepage Journal
    You can have the camera/microphone removed from your Apple MacBook. To quote from the Mac OS X Security Configuration for Version 10.5 Leopard Second Edition [nsa.gov], Chapter 3 pages 50-51:

    ''If your environment does not permit the use of the following hardware components, you must physically disable them ...

    Only an Apple Certified technician can physically disable these components without voiding the warranty on your computer. A limited number of Apple Certified technicians can remove preapproved components.

    After an Apple Certified technician removes the component the technician logs a special note with Apple Care, indicating that the computer has had a component properly removed. Most components removed by Apple technicians can be reinstalled, if needed.

    To locate a Certified Apple technician go to: www.apple.com/buy [apple.com].

    Also, see your local Apple representative for more information.

    Note: If you are in a government organization and need a letter of volatility for Apple products, send your request to AppleFederal@apple.com.''

    FYI: A similar action can be taken for hand held devices such as an Apple iPhone.

    BTW: You can still use an external camera/microphone for services such as iChat on a MacBook where the built in devices have been removed. When permitted, plugging in an external camera/microphone will temporarily restore such capability. Moreover, by physically removing such external devices when they are not in use, you can better control them. :-)

    So buy your MacBook, have a Apple Certified technician remove the offending components, and if needed get a letter of volatility. Q.E.D.

  • Talk to security (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Diamon ( 13013 ) on Saturday May 02, 2009 @08:15AM (#27797693)

    Since it seems you've investigated the technical side of the problem do a little leg work on the human side. Talk to one of the security guards and find out who they report to since ultimately that is who your solution must be agreeable to. Explain the situation and ask what measures would be necessary to take in a device with a disabled camera. You can look at possibly using a case, skin or just a sticker that would obscure the camera just make sure that whoever the security guards report to OKs it.

    Then the next obstacle is getting the guards to understand that it has been OKd. Assuming that there is probably a small number of guards that you'll deal with get to know them and preemptively bring the subject up to them, show them the steps you've done to disable the use of the camera and let them know you've talked to their boss about it.

    Be prepared for them to still balk at the idea and have equipment around that you can use if they wont let the disabled camera pass. Hopefully at this point they will ask their superior about it and he will verify that he gave his OK and next time you'll be able to take your better toys in with you.

    Just keep in mind that the security guards are just trying to do their job to the best of their ability. Things that will draw their attention and almost assuredly lead to your and your disabled camera being turned away/confiscated are any attempts to sneak something past them and any attitude at all if they ask about it. And by all means never wait until discovery/discussion of the device would interrupt court proceedings as that is just a good way to piss of a judge and get yourself found in contempt.

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal