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More On Airplanes And Internet 192

fonixmunkee writes "as a sometimes-traveler for work, and a huge nerd, I am always excited about news like this. it appears that some airlines may start offering internet access next year when you need to get that internet fix at 35,000 feet. I was pleased when they started selling wireless internet in airports, so this is another welcomed suprise for techie travlers. apparently they want to use satellite to get high-speed connections to the planes in the air. pretty cool. " Too bad Northwest isn't going to have it for my DTW -> NRT -> KUL -> PER for CALU.
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More On Airplanes And Internet

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  • by 3.5 stripes ( 578410 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:49AM (#4897769)
    I haven't flown in a while, do they also offer power connections for your laptop?

    Cuz a 12+ hour flight wouldn't be very much fun after your backup batteries die.

    And remember, the foldable tray will stop your willie from overheating:)

    • by darkov ( 261309 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:07AM (#4897836)
      And remember, the foldable tray will stop your willie from overheating:)

      But that may be counteracted by the porn you are downloading. The tray is handy either way, though.
    • Power connection (Score:3, Interesting)

      I would rather have a power connection than the internet connection. Usualy, there is plenty I want to do on a laptop, without getting an internet connection, and all the sysadmin fun and games that can involve. Sometimes I have almost flattened my laptop batteries waiting for the plane, just cleaning up my files and doing those jobs that you never get around to if there is anything else to do.

      PS. The folding tray may stop your todger from doing a Hindenberg, but the little magnetic catch may zorsch your hard disc.

      • The secret is knowing how to play "Spot the outlet" in the airport, so you can keep your laptop topped off before the plane gets there. Behind the trash cans is one good place to look. They have outlets, as the cleaning people need them.

        I used to get really strange looks when people would see me playing a flight simulator while on the plane.
    • The transcontinental flights I've been on don't have adaptors for use in the regular section, just in buisness class or double-plus good class, whatever it's called now.
    • I was on a flight recently on American Airline flight (O'Hare to Tampa, FL). I believe the plane was an older Boeing MD80 that had been retrofitted. Every seat, even in coach, had a power adaptor under the seat. The best part was that it was not one of the airplane-specific ports, but rather a cigarette lighter outlet (meaning I could charge my Clie, then charge my turned-off cell phone, and then was able to work on my laptop).

      You are right, though, I would rather see power outlets as universal before Internet access in planes.

      I tend to fly quite a bit (Southwest, mostly) and have to say that the AA airplane was the first I had seen with power outlets in coach.

      American Airlines [] has a page that mentions their push into putting power outlets in planes.
  • by CausticWindow ( 632215 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:50AM (#4897771)
    I've always wondered why airlines got the policy that using a portable cd player or radio in flight is dangerous while laptops aren't.

    At least that's the situation on all domestic flights I've taken. I've got a suspicion that they want to compete with trains etc. for business customers and therefore don't give a damn about their own rules.
    • Thats only during take off and landing, laptops are also to be off then. I got into a fight with a stewardess when she saw me resting my gps against the window during take off tho, she didnt seem too impressed with my arugment "Its not a cell phone though!"
      • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:23AM (#4897884) Homepage Journal
        If only they wouldn't think I was a terrorist with my yagi antenna pointed out the window scanning traffic below and surfing other people's sessions...
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I wouldn't try that trick now. They'll probably assume you're using the GPS for evil purposes to know when to strike or something like that.

        I asked if I could turn one on in February and the head passenger herder guy barked a firm "no" at me. He gave some BS excuse about FAA regs. Yeah, OK, whatever, it's up to the pilot anyway. He didn't even ask on my behalf.

        So, I did it anyway, but I left it in my bag, and just held the bag on my lap for a few minutes. It got enough of a signal long enough to get a position fix and speed - 505 mph. That was all I wanted to see, so I put it away.

        Until the current hysteria is forgotten, I'd advise leaving the GPS in your checked luggage.
        • Like you need to use one of those crippled GPS things to get the position of an airport, when you can find it on a street map...

        • Theres many airlines where in international flights you get to see a map on the videoscreen with the latest info from the on-board gps receiver: speed, altitude, position... all on a nice hipnotic computer map designed to lull you to sleep
    • The way I've always been told you're fine using things like this once you're at altitude.

      I've always been asked to turn off electronics for takeoff and landing.

      Or yes, they're money grabbing sods :)
    • radios are verboten, i believe, since they involve *radio* signals, and there's the potential interference issue. CD players are allowed anytime above 10K feet.
      • Not in all cases. Some airlines ban CD players altogether, I forget which, but I think Al Italia may be one. I don't know whet their policy is on laptops as I haven't flown business with them (and I don't take laptops on holiday!).
      • sorry, very narrow of me. i should say that mostof the big U.S. carriers allow CD players and the like above 10K feet. I can't speak for others (and shouldn't try! ;)
    • The FAR's (Federal Aviation Regulations) on this matter were written in response to some test indicating that personal electronic devices could cause enough RF to penetrate the thin shielding in the wiring of older airliners and disrupt the flight control and navigational signals. In one well-known instance, a personal electronic device caused the needle to swing on a device used for precision instrument approaches (OBS - Omni Bearing Selector). While the airplane was on approach, the needle swung hard to one side, and the autopilot followed it, assuming that for whatever reason, the airplane had moved off course. I believe it was a video game that caused that particular incident; but you can imagine that if a video game can cause enough interference, any type of transmitter could easily cause fits.

      The cell phone issue is related; but different. When you climb, the cell phone is able to reach many times the number of cell towers it could before. It causes the cellular network a great deal of work then, handling the phone.
      • While the airplane was on approach, the needle swung hard to one side, and the autopilot followed it....

        Are airlines really skimping that much that they're hiring pilots who use autopilot on approach?
  • So all of a sudden (Score:2, Interesting)

    by elementik ( 622741 )
    It's safe to use laptops etc on a plane... ?
  • Emergency procedures (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:52AM (#4897779)
    If you commit a crime via the Internet at 30,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, whose jurisdiction does it fall in?
    • If you commit a crime via the Internet at 30,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, whose jurisdiction does it fall in?

      IIRC, the laws the country you have left apply untill you land.
    • Well, current precedents being set would tend to indicate that regardless of local law concerning computer use you can be prosecuted wherever they want to prosecute you - ie wherever was affected by the crime. So in other words, you're screwed.

    • by RealUlli ( 1365 )
      I'd guess it's like with ships: You fall in the jurisdiction of the country that aircraft is registered in. Exceptions might be aircraft on the ground, or in national airspace...

      Remember: a lot of ships fly flags of countries with very lax saftey laws - the only thing a country can do about one of those is keep it from entering its tree-mile-area (or was it 12-mile!?).

      Example at hand: what the EU is doing now is trying to get its members to ban tankers they deem unsafe from their harbors - unfortunately only after one of those sank a couple of hundred miles off the coast of Spain with about 70000 tons of heavy oil aboard. Being banned, those tankers hopefully have no more reason to go near European waters...

      Regards, Ulli
    • Does it even matter whose jurisdiction the crime falls in?

      If the crime is against anything/anyone in the US, they will come after you, no matter where you commited the crime. Just look at how the FBI handled the Russians.

    • There hardly is such a thing as a computer crime. A crime is a possibly illegal bad action by which you physically harm one or more human or animal individual, like killing, or raping. Stealing may be in some cases, for instance stealing my paycheck will get me starving, stealing from the wal mart is not.

      What you meant is "if you commit a misdemeanor"
    • If you commit a crime via the Internet at 30,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean, whose jurisdiction does it fall in?

      Aircraft are governed by the same laws as ships. The jurisdiction is the flag of the aircraft.
    • You are under the plane's jurisdiction. That is, if the plane has a US flag on it, you fall under US law, and so on.

      Actually, international law states that while on the air, the captain is the highest authority, and also the one bearing the responsibility of the crew and passengers, so if a passenger dies under mysterious circumstances during a flight, the captain is briefly arrested and interrogated while the cause of death is determined.

      Also in many countries (local laws apply if the plane is on the ground), if theres a plane crash and the captain survives, he is immediately arrested and accused of "involuntary homicide" (I think they call it "manslaughter" in the US, but Im not sure), and until the cause of the accident is determined, he is considered the prime suspect.
  • IPSky (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:53AM (#4897780) Homepage

    A plug for a mate IPSky [] talks about the market and the issues and is a pretty good starting doc on this sort of stuff from a technical/management perspective. The interesting part of some of these elements is that it enables additional information to the pilots and potentially between planes. Getting the internet to the passengers is relatively simple, combining it with elements like TCAS [] to reduce the risk of collisions and also to enable less reliance on Air Traffic Controllers in areas where they have no Radar coverage.
  • by jason718 ( 634659 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:53AM (#4897784)
    Inflight internet access, especially at a flat rates, makes me wonder about the potential for using VoIP. If the latency introduced by the satellite connection doesn't completely negate its use, using VoIP software on a laptop connected to the airplane's Internet connection would offer considerably cheaper inflight calls.

    Secondly, how long until we see groups of people smuggling on battery powered Linksys (et al) routers. $30 split a few ways is always cheaper...
    • by Surak ( 18578 ) <surak AT mailblocks DOT com> on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:12AM (#4897849) Homepage Journal
      Secondly, how long until we see groups of people smuggling on battery powered Linksys (et al) routers. $30 split a few ways is always cheaper..

      It wouldn't be hard. Most of things draw DC from a power brick. RadioShack [] used to carry a power brick-type thing that would hold batteries in what would normally be the brick. And I imagine that there are or will be other third party solutions such as a rechargeable power brick for using routers with batteries before too long as portable, wireless high speed access becomes more and more important.

    • And I imagine that there are or will be other third party solutions such as a rechargeable power brick for using routers with batteries before too long...

      Hey, what about those fuel cells you have these days!?


    • If the latency introduced by the satellite connection doesn't completely negate its use, using VoIP software on a laptop connected to the airplane's Internet connection would offer considerably cheaper inflight calls.
      couldn't be any worse than the phones they have on airplanes at $30, you'd save money if you only made a couple of calls. voice calls are like $5-10/min from a plane, and the quality is something akin to tin cans on a really, really long string that's got a few string repeaters in the middle... ;)
    • Air Canada now has standard 110 volt power-points available in every seat on their newest planes. I'm sure other airlines are considering similar measures.
    • What do you need an AP for? You can share in ad-hoc mode.
  • So... (Score:2, Insightful)

    we can use laptops, but not mobile phones, CD players, etc?
    What gives?
    Great idea, but bizarre....
    • CD players have already been addressed above, but mobile phones are banned because if you're broadcasting from crusing distance, then you're going to be blocking a frequency in every cell you can see - dozens or hundreds of cells.
  • It is safe. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It is safe and permitted to user consumer electronics onboard aircraft with several exceptions. Wireless-radio communications devices are prohibited because they are naturally in the habit of emitting radio signals. Aswell devices are prohibited during take off and landing.
    • the problem, IMHO, is not with the equipment used - most of us are knowledgeable enough to know what we should and shouldn't operate in the air. But the same doesn't seem to apply to the cabin crew. On a recent BA flight to Paris, I was asked to turn off my MD player(note this - a player. Not any form of radio at all) because 'it could interfere with the flight instrumentation'. I politely explained what the mysterious object I was listening to was, but the cabin crew were adamant. How are they going to know the difference when it comes to people waving laptops and PDA's around? Some additional training for crew will be needed - cue an increase in flight fares to cover it?
  • Does any one know what frequency this would operate at? I have always wondered exactly what frequency interferes with flight electronics and which ones don't. Do hand cell phones interfere with flight systems in reality or is this just a way of making you pay to use the ones built into the back of the seats? I have wondered about this for a while.
    • I had my phone in carry on and somehow it got turned on during the flight, didnt notice until we landed and i saw the battery was nearly dead (flight to europe + no nearby towers = higher transmit power = less battery life) Anyways, the plane didnt crash ;)
    • Your cell phone doesn't work at 35000 ft because there is no carrier signal / antennae available. Interfacer
      • That goes with out saying. But does using it at lower altitudes cause interference with other flight electronics?
        • by Sacarino ( 619753 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:23AM (#4897885) Homepage
          I work for a domestic carrier in the US, and one day while flying jumpseat to get to a conference we had one of the passengers sneak in a call on her cell phone, which somehow got into unsheilded wires and broadcast clear-as-day onto the aircraft's comm gear. It wasn't transmitting from us out to the world, mind you, but we could hear her conversation.

          additionally, I've heard that the reason CDRoms and discman players and the like are banned is due to the frequency wandering those things emit when spinning up/down and the interruption it causes with precision approach gear. I dont know how true that is.
          • It may have more to do with the fact that they don't want electronics running PERIOD. So rather than have to explain to every passenger that some devices are safe and some aren't, they just say "Sod it" and prohibit everything.

            It just might prevent arguments like "But HAM radios aren't on the list, so I just figured I could talk to my trucker buddies as I flew overhead!"

          • I'm a little leery of your anecdote; presumably you reported it to the correct authorities, since up until now there haven't been many (any?) documented cases where cell phones actually interfere with communication equipment onboard aircraft.

            A little digging reveals that the frequencies that cell phones operate on aren't the same frequencies aircraft use for navigation/communication, and those $5/minute airphones are actually cellular telephones!

            In fact, it turns out that the cell phone ban wasn't an FAA regulation until very recently - it was an FCC ban! The cell network isn't designed for rapidly-moving phones, nor is it designed for phones 30,000 feet up in the air. Instead, it's designed for stationary/slow-moving phones at or near ground level. An airborne cell phone can wreak havoc with the network; that's why the FCC banned them on airplanes. The ban has nothing to do with safety.

            ZDNet article [] on the topic.

            • I dont doubt that you are suspicious of what I posted. However, I was in the cockpit and I heard the phone call. We then had the flight attendants go back and find the woman - she described where she was to her caller friend when complaining about the engine noise.

              You are correct about the variances in frequencies, but I know what my ears heard, sir.

              In fact, the frequencies for aviation are:
              NAV -- 108.000-117.950 MHz
              COM -- 118.000-136.975 MHz

              You can actually dial in 108.00 on your nav receiver, turn on the ident, and listen to bleed-through from the upper-range FM stations using older analog transmitter equipment.

              Now, if you look at my original post, I never said "this is how it happened, why it happened, with a schematic." I just said it happened.

              If you'd like to debate it further, I'm willing to dive into the technical details with you... the mechanics and engineering crew that descended upon the aircraft during its next progressive inspection were very interested in the issue, since the pilot wrote it up in the logbook. (in case you're unfamiliar, a logbook write-up leads to paperwork which leads to the FAA... follow the papertrail)
  • Pricing (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tangledweb ( 134818 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:56AM (#4897806)
    They are talking $30 per leg.

    I imagine that at those prices it will go the same way as inseat phones. One of the phone carriers is killing their $5 per minute service because there was on average 1.5 phone calls made per flight.

    If you are carrying all that extra weight, you have to be able to get people to buy it or it is just going out backwards.
    • Re:Pricing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by darkov ( 261309 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:13AM (#4897857)
      They are talking $30 per leg. I imagine that at those prices it will go the same way as inseat phones.

      I dunno about you, but on a long (12-14 hour) international flight, I would happily pay that to relieve the boredom. And if you're travelling on business it's a small expense if it means you can be productive in some way, such as catching up on industry news, the competitors products, whatever. Like other monopoly players, the phone providers just priced themselves out of the market.
      • Read a book!

        The U.S. spent a million dollars developing a pen that could work in space. The Soviets used pencils.

        And porn is available in dead tree format too!

    • They are talking $30 per leg. I imagine that at those prices it will go the same way as inseat phones. One of the phone carriers is killing their $5 per minute service because there was on average 1.5 phone calls made per flight.

      $30 seams reasonable for longer flights, and who honestly can't stay unplugged for a 3 hour flight. Granted more and more work nowadays needs to be done connected to the internet, but a fiar amout dosen't and it can interfere with productivity. Perhaps all businesses should have a no internet hour every day.
  • Hrm (Score:5, Funny)

    by houseofmore ( 313324 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:00AM (#4897819) Homepage
    I wonder if streaming porn all the way to Vegas will take the fun out of it once you're there.
    • Re:Hrm (Score:2, Insightful)

      by thryllkill ( 52874 )
      I'm sure there will be filters and such to keep that from happening. Not so you don't get to look at porn of course, but so that the kids in the seats around you don't look over your shoulder...
    • Only if you avoid the online casinos.
  • Isn't it aeroplane (Score:2, Informative)

    by mab ( 17941 )
    Like the English and The Kiwi's spell it
    as one of that last stories points out, they where the first [] :)
  • Secure? (Score:2, Funny)

    by HugoQuixote ( 32615 )
    Wardriving at 30,000 feet...?

    Hmmm... maybe we'll start to see crackers taking flying lessons.
    • Re:Secure? (Score:5, Funny)

      by UnknownBeetroot ( 633876 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:19AM (#4897871)
      Wardriving at 30k feet...?

      I have this insane vision of you getting a biplane next to this massive Boeing, leaning over with a stick of chalk and scawling symbols on th plane as pilots frantically call air traffic control about a possible hijacking...

      Hah, for a second I typed 'Boeing' there as 'Boing'. Kinda... fits.
  • by paughsw ( 620959 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:15AM (#4897861)
    At least if the in flight movie is bad, I can download my own.
    • Virgin have a new v:port system on their Airbus A340-600's which has some degree of video and audio on demand (300 hours of VOD rather than the fixed channel based system they have on older planes). I got to use one of these on a three day old plane during a recent lang-haul flight and it's a lot better than the old system, you get a bigger screen too :) There's also the capability to do networked games - simple ones mind you - between seats, as well as sending e-mail and SMS messages (for a fee though).
      Best of all, the system runs on Linux :) It's based on the Matsushita MAS3000 system. Unfortunately I found this out because my system was having 'issues' and needed to be rebooted, at which point I as was greeted by Tux and some nice boot messages :)
  • They have been trying to do Internet access in planes for years; I won't be surprised if this ends the same fate. I think the problem is that not too many people will use it and that people are not willing to pay $30 per flighty for access for just a few hours. They could have a monthly fee that would be more feasible.
    I wish them luck anyway.
  • by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:33AM (#4897911)
    it was confirmed today that the reason for New Zealander Richard Pearse's crash and failure to claim first flight was caused by his modem cable reaching its elastic limit.
  • At least THAT's a place where the ping time won't be so low as on the ground
    • Actually, depending how they do it you could get some good in-flight lan games going.
      I guess you could do that now with 802.11b, But it might interfere with the flight control systems. Or atleast thats what they'll say now that they can charge you for the inflight lan..

      Just think of playing de_747[*] on a real 747.

      [*] Counterstrike map, CS comes with cs_747 but it sucks, IMO de_747 is much funner. think big plain flying in the air, T's have to bomb it.
  • Privacy, anyone ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by forged ( 206127 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:47AM (#4897936) Homepage Journal
    Email in airplanes..... Great idea.

    Now all three passengers behind my seat and my two neighbors will know the name of my wife and kids, what a great week-end I have had, how bad the food was, and how much money the deal closed.

    Err, what if one of the three happened to be an executive from a competitor ? Think about it for a minute :)

    And I think that most people will not want to watch pr0n on my screen throughout the flight either !

  • I'm heading to Kenya for the holidays to visit a sister studying in Nairobi. It would be a great present from Northwest to find my flights back (NBO->AMS->DTW) allow for it!!

  • by mudpuppy ( 24015 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:52AM (#4897951)
    Sky's the Limit for Cisco Aironet Wireless LAN Technologies [] "Any traveler with a laptop computer or portable device equipped with a Wi-Fi compliant NIC card or enabled with Wi-Fi embedded inside will be able to log onto the wireless network. As part of the service, Lufthansa will also operate a 10 Mbps Ethernet wired network onboard for those passengers without wireless-capable computers. With 380 seats, a typical Lufthansa 747 has as many network connection sites as a mid-sized company. "
  • Wireless in airports is expensive (upwards of $1 a minute in the few that I've seen it). I can't imagine what they'll charge for internet access in an in-flight airplane. It's going to be horrendous, and thus as useless to me as the wirless in the airports. Ho-Hum.
  • "That price sounds about right to Rob Vollmer, 32, a principal in Crosby-Vollmer International Communications, a Washington-based public-relations firm.

    Vollmer, who has flown 140,000 miles this year, does so much work by e-mail that he sometimes feels compelled to surreptitiously check messages during flights with a wireless Palm device, though it's prohibited."

    I believe the correct word here is illegal!!!

    The clock has now started ticking Mr. Vollmer, expect the Feds to be banging on your door very soon!

  • Imagine... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...a beowulf squadron of those...
  • huh? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    "...DTW -> NRT -> KUL -> PER for CALU"

  • Cut off? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fuzzypig ( 631915 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @09:44AM (#4898196)
    What about when your about to land? They just cut you off mid connection? About to send that document to the office, or in the middle of an important system/database callout fixing session and they just cut you loose! "Sorry about that Boss, I know we had 20,000 clients who couldn't connect for 4 hours, but Delta cut my service halfway through and I couldn't get back in til I got into the airport lounge, after customs, the gift shop, duty free, cavity search, etc!"
  • Sigh!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by theprancinghorse ( 594307 ) <> on Monday December 16, 2002 @10:12AM (#4898374)

    Now I won't be able to escape from /. anywhere.

  • OK so now when I go to Japan on that god-awful 11 and a half hour flight I get to play go constantly on the kiseido internet go server []?

    I would pay for that.

    I'd have to be careful not to start a game that meant I'd still be playing when they switched the service off for landing though...


  • by Goobah ( 256783 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @10:35AM (#4898503) Homepage
    Has anyone ever thought of the security implications of allowing someone to have silent access to the rest of the world on an airplane? Let's set up the scenario: Some nutbag with a portable GPS device [] on his laptop is able to provide real-time coordinates to someone on the ground via AOL Instant messenger [] or some other chat program. With the elevated threat of surface to air shoulder-mounted rockets on the news [] lately, isn't this giving terrorists a new way to track planes? Call me paranoid, but as cool as it would be to be able to get an IRC fix at 40,000 feet, I just don't think its a very wise idea in these troubled times.
    • so, why can't the bad guy just go to the public phone aboard the plane and just tell the coords over phone.

      you know, airplane routes aren't exactly secrets, neither are schedules, although they might seem random..and of course you can always try the shakal way, just drive to near the airport and take your portable surface-to-air rocket from the car and shoot when the plane is leaving(iirc they tried this in 60's/70's(?) in paris)..

      'these troubled times' has also been the better part of the recorded history..
    • You're worried about securing the unsecurable. If you're a terrorist and you want to shoot down a plane, and you don't care which one, it's pretty damned easy to find one.

      1. Go outside on a cloudless day.
      2. Look around.
      If you're within 10 miles of an airport (even a minor one), odds are, hey, there's a plane!

      GPS coords don't add much to information already so available all you have to do is literally open your eyes and it comes streaming in. From what I've seen on the news, most missles are fired at planes taking off or landing (usually taking off from what I've seen), in plain sight. You just can't hide a plane taking off, so please, on behalf of all us freedom-loving citizens, don't propose half-assed "solutions" to the non-problem; we've got government officials working on that full-time already and God-forbid one of them see this "non-problem" of yours and decide to try your non-solution.... more freedoms gone for no gain whatsoever, just to make someone look like they're "doing something".
    • The propagation delay for the satellite bounce down to ground station and then through the internet (while moving at 600 mph) would probably throw off your coordinates quite a bit anyway.

      And, I am not an expert on such things as shoulder-mounted rockets, but I would assume that they would be either out of range or rather inaccurate when a plane is flying at 30K feet.
    • Not an issue. Man-portable SAMs, like the Stinger or the SA-7 Grail (used in the Kenyan attempt), etc., have very limited altitude/range ceilings: 13-15k feet in altitude, and ~5km in range. They're also infra-red based, so if the plane is far enough away that the missle bearer can't see it, he can't shoot at it either. I wouldn't worry about someone with a GPS giving precise locations.

      For info and diagrams:
  • Is the media shared? Can I set up dsniff or something and what what the executive in first class is up to? You know, watch him plotting corporate intrigue, closing that big deal, shredding accounting records, etc.?

    Will Windows file sharing be blocked? If not, it would be lots of fun to see who is in your network neighborhood. Kind of like the old days with cable modems.

    Could someone have a little pop-up window show up on passenger laptops that says "This plane has been boarded by alien space invaders. Stay calm. They mean us no harm"? Or maybe "I am Colonel Ogo Mumbasso from Nigeria. If you help me transfer money, I will arrange frequent flyer miles..."

  • ...I'm usually on vacation. For my part, I LIKE being 'unwired' for that time. It's one of the few times that I can actually read, write, sleep, or just stare out the window and think without any fear of interruption or mental "clutter."

    I have to wonder if this is going to have any impact on social skills, such as the art of good conversation, or meeting someone new? Is connectivity going to, eventually, become as ubiquitous as advertising, to the point where someone might panic if they can't get to their E-mail for a couple of hours?

    If that does happen, is it necessarily a Good Thing?

    All my hardware has an 'Off' switch. I'm not in the least afraid to use it! How many other people will be able to say the same ten years from now?

  • by coinreturn ( 617535 ) on Monday December 16, 2002 @12:29PM (#4899162)
    I am a Boeing employee who thought the whole idea was stupid when they first started Connexion. They deployed this whole ton of people for the project and ended up laying off 80% of them when they realized the airlines weren't interested - mainly because Boeing wants a huge cut of the profits. Last I heard, Boeing invested $400 million on this boondoggle. They were going to charge $30/hour for access and counted their profits by counting in-flight hours of planes in the US, ignoring the fact that most flight hours are commuter trips in the one-hour range where you can barely get your laptop out before the announcement that you have to turn it off comes on.
  • I was pleased when they started selling wireless internet in airports


    Just went to Changi International Ariport. Nice. Free broadband internet, wireless, infrared... that's really useful. Free lending of power adapters to make funny plugs fit in funnier plug holes.

Forty two.