Information on Geek Squad Badges From An Insider!

As regular readers of this blog know (Hi Nate… and maybe 1-2 other people who’ve stumbled in the door from time to time…), I collect badges, including name, store security, and Geek Squad varieties. About a year and a half ago, I posted on a counterfeit Geek Squad badge that I’d come across, and at that time I invited former or current Geeks to fill me in on anything interesting going on in the world of Geek Squad badges. Today a reader sent me some interesting information, and a few photos I’d thought I’d share.

First, before I share some interesting badge info, I’ll share the new badge finishing process. If you look at my badges, you’ll notice I don’t show the back of them. This is because… well… it’s the back – who wants to see it?!? But it turns out the backs tell an interesting story. Here is the back of an old style badge, the Pre-2012 Blackminton badge that is well known to collectors.

Now take a look at the counterfeit badge back

It’s hard to see the differences, but you can tell a slight lack of countour, due to the lower quality. Interestingly, a few months after my article, a Twitter user tweeted myself and Robert Stephens taking credit for the fake, claiming he had made it using a CAD tool. If that’s the case, it may be that his fabrication process, not being based on a mold, had some imperfections.

Anyway, as I’ll detail below, post-2012 badges have a radically different back:

Quite a shift from the Blackminton style, although given the wear scenarios discussed in some of the internal documentation provided to me, it makes sense since overall Geek Squad appears to be favoring a “pocketed” badge more than a worn. The flat back design is popular with LEOs who will carry their badges in a case as opposed to on a uniform. 

The front of the badge remains largely unchanged post-2012:

You’ll notice I’ve sanitized the image to protect the identity of my source (the images are used with permission, however I don’t want anyone getting fired!). Obviously this looks a bit less defined than the older style, but is more consistent with a pocket-able badge.

Now for some interesting information on the badges. Previously you had to be a Geek Squad agent in certain positions in order to get a badge. In 2013 and into 2014, the rules were changed along with the badge design. Responding to what was considered an “outdated badge process”, Geek Squad Management decided to change the requirements to: 18 cumulative months in a geek squad role to earn the first badge, and six consecutive months in a role for any subsequent badges. Given the high turnover in retail, these benchmarks make a lot of sense. 

Along with the changes come a massive reduction in badge titles. Gone are the “friendly” titles like “Double Agent” or “Deputy Counter Intelligence”. Now all badges will have one of 6 titles: Autotech Agent, City Agent, Covert Agent, Field Agent, Precinct Agent, & Agent Defender. This change was done to reduce the number of “one-off badge titles”, which should prevent employees (“agents”) in the same position having different badge titles. 

Further documentation provides justification for the newer look, addressing criticisms that the “new badge was worse quality than the current badges” by explaining the quality level is the same, the badges are die struck and have a “hand relieved antique patina”, and has jewelers lacquer applied to it for protection. New badges are 65% copper, 18% silver, and (ominously) 17% miscellaneous.

So there is your Geek Squad Badge update (for the 1-2 other collectors on the planet). I’ve noticed a few of the newer styles rattling around eBay as of late, and may pick up one or two at some point. I don’t want to get into a Pokémon style “Gotta Catch ‘em” all mentaility though!

Thank you to my source for providing the photos and information below (If he/she would like to be named, I’ll gladly put his/her information here)!

MobileViews: That Podcast I’m a Regular Guest On

For almost a year now I’ve been Todd Ogasawara’s regular guest / cohost on MobileViews Podcast (available on the web, iTunes, and wherever fine Podcasts are found). Realized I don’t really talk about this often on my own blog so consider this a friendly reminder. I may also start posting a link each week to our new episodes (when I remember). It’s a chance to hear Todd and I prognosticate on subjects we have large backgrounds in, as well as subjects we’re not entirely qualified to discuss but still do!

Splash Mountain’s Origin

Mental floss has a pretty interesting piece on Song of the South, the Disney movie that the characters from the ride Splash Mountain originate in (as well as the song Zip-a-dee-do-dah). It’s truly an interesting situation: popular franchise characters in a movie that hasn’t ever been released on home video in the US for fairly obvious reasons. If you’re scratching your head going “I’ve never heard of that movie..” Take a read and think about how we sorta forget that things we still see evidence of today were interpreted differently 70 years ago.

(PS: I’m composing this on my iPhone, and Autocorrect almost turned the title of this piece into Allah Mountain. How it got Allah from Splash, I have no idea!)

How I Ended up Following a Makeup Blog

At Least thus far it is mostly about makeup, something I’ve never used. The reason it’s in my Blog Roll and my news feeds? Because a former student is writing it, and I generally encourage this whole blogging thing, despite the fact that I have a hard time motivating myself to blog (Fun Fact: JonWestfall.Com is now over 10 years old… Where did the time go?!?)

So if you’re into Makeup (with presumably more topics to follow), check out Maghen’s blog Lavender Lipstick. I know I’m going to follow so I can bust out random cosmetics knowledge and amaze/scare my female friends. And to support a fellow Blogger.


Dear Apple: Who Designed THIS?!?

you only see the lock if you select at the top the network users or network group

I’m going to rant about an Apple Design decision, but it has nothing to do with any i-device of any kind. It’s purely around the Mac OS X Server 4.0 App that’s used to configure a Mac acting as a network server. The app’s never been that great, but this really steamed me. 

A bit of background: On a computer, you have user accounts. These users are considered “local” because they only exist on that computer. Servers can provide “network” accounts, which can be logged into from anywhere. Apple provides this through an open source implementation of LDAP named OpenLDAP. 

When you go to administer users, you find the following screen:

Looks pretty easy – I should be able to click on any of those users and reset their passwords. However clicking on any user (local or network) and selecting the box at the bottom shows a variety of options (like Change Password” Grayed out). Hmm…
So I did some digging around and found the link that I quoted at the top. Apparently by some divine force you should just know that if you select “Local Network Users” from the drop down at the top (instead of “All users”), a magic little lock will appear that lets you authenticate as a directory administrator (i.e. the person in charge of network user accounts) and THEN you can access those options.

Now I get that you can’t access those options before you authenticate – but geez Apple – could you give us a frickin’ hint? Maybe a box that says “Authentication Required”, or the lock icon is gray unless we select a network user? Something other than a magical appearing/disappearing lock!

Pass the Phone with Piece of Mind: Guided Access

If you’ve never heard of guided access and ever have the need to pass your phone around (to share a photo in a small group, a phone number, etc…), then you’re missing out. Guided Access is built in to iOS and might as well be called Phone Lockdown – it lets you lock the user into a specific app, disabling any control you choose (in fact, you can disable all controls and buttons) ensuring that when your phone gets back to you, no one has stolen a glance at your email or done that tempting slide over to see other photos. You simply turn it on and set a passcode. Then anytime you want to freeze the screen, triple-tap the home button, set whatever options you like (disable controls, set a time limit, etc…) and hit “Start”. No more snooping!

Researcher, Educator, Author, And More

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