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Old 02-26-2005, 03:01 PM   #1
Alexander Turcic
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Cool Alex speaking from Flight LH 432

[edit: I posted some of the technical findings further down this thread]

Hello fellow Mobilereaders!
This is Alex speaking from Lufthansa flight LH 432 on his way from Frankfurt to Chicago! I am so very excited because this is my first airborne Internet experience using my Dell Axim to surf through the clouds in high-speed.

On this Airbus 340-300 I'm accessing Connexion's broadband Wifi LAN (Lufthansa calls it FlyNet) for a flat rate of $29.95 - yes, I'll stay online for the remaining 8-1/2 hours of my flight, given my extended battery will last that long (I kinda doubt it, the Axim X50v isn't exactly famous for its battery lifetime).

Interestingly, Lufthansa's news portal I could access for free, which alone can be a good time killer on this flight (with around 1000 updated news pages both in English and in German). Of course I couldn't resist and signed up for the full flat rate Internet access. Alas, this proved to be a hassle because Connexion's secure web page popped up a server error when I tried to create a user account. A few more attempts and I was finally able to choose a payment method. Beside payment through credit card, I could have also paid through one of the major Internet proviers (1and1 is one example) or through frequent traveller miles.

Now let me post some of the more technical findings using Connexion's broadband with my notebook (Thinkpad R50):

- e-mail access (secure POP3, IMAP, SMTP) worked fine.
- browsing the Web was smooth, albeit sometimes loading images seemed to lag for half a second or so.
- downloading of a larger file (80MB) file from Mobileread resulted in a data throughput of around 180-220Kb/s.
- VPN access to my home PC immediately worked.
- no ports seemed to be blocked (including P2P).

What else can I say? Surfing 10'000 meters up in the sky is a lot of fun and it is a true asset for every mobile business man, or for every mobile gadget fan like myself

I'll supply you with some screenshots when I am back on Earth!
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Last edited by Alexander; 03-01-2005 at 10:11 AM. Reason: Screenshots added!
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Old 02-26-2005, 04:33 PM   #2
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Alex, this is very cool. You just made up my mind for me, my next PDA must have WIFI no matter what.

I hope you enjoy your trip.
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Old 02-26-2005, 05:37 PM   #3
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Pretty cool! For the gadgeteer, great. But too much connectivity to work for the businessman, I think. Is there no place left to hide?!
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Old 02-26-2005, 08:06 PM   #4
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Love it! I wish that Wi-Fi were more available in PDA's, maybe it'll be so in the next 2 years.

I see BobR's point about the "electronic leash" re: the business man, but for the small-business man like myself, I could use the extra connectivity. When one is the CEO and General Manager and Secretary and Janitor and...one really needs not to have the forced 8.5 hours of downtime when one could be keeping the business afloat.

I think the price is too high, myself, but hopefully more providers will join in and the prices will come down and have more pricing options. It's be cool if one could use their own provider instead of having to go through another one (ex. I plan on getting one of those ubiquitous coffeeshop-data carriers like T-Mobile when I get a PDA with Wi-Fi, and it'd be cool if the one I choose has Airline Connectivity or whatever it's called.)

Congrats on being one of the first geeks to experience this. Times like this don't come around very often. It seems like Eurpoean countries do "get it" when it comes to emerging technologies moreso than the U.S. I think 2 years is a reasonable time to expect all of my Wi-Fi dreams to come true.
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Old 02-27-2005, 02:19 AM   #5
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Wow, I'd love to have wifi on those plane trips... the closest I've gotten is quite high-speed on a ferry ride between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. It was around a 6 hour ride, and I only had enough battery to last 3 hours... If I'd only known, then I would have tried to charge two batteries (this was my Powerbook, not a PDA...)

But yeah, wifi is getting... Everywhere nowadays. It's quite nice. ;D


Edit: Whee, post 100 for me....
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Old 02-27-2005, 11:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaos
But yeah, wifi is getting... Everywhere nowadays. It's quite nice. ;D
And unfortunately, so is the fraud.

There are now hundreds of cases (maybe thousands, but hundreds are publically reported) of people sitting in wifi hotspots masquerading as the "official" location hotspot, but are actually a maliscious proxy... so all of your wireless traffic goes through them, and is proxied through the "real" access point. Meanwhile, they are capturing every single byte you send through the "hotspot", including the traffic of the other dozen people in the coffee shop with you (or on the same flight, in this case).

Basically a high-tech man-in-the-middle attack, and you'll never even know, because you associate with a public hotspot via name, and there's no easy way to tell that someone else has hijacked that name and is sitting in-between your laptop/wifi device and the hotspot access point.

This attack was demonstrated 2 years ago at a BlackHat conference. Basically everyone wanting to get outside from the show floor, was having their graphics for every webpage they wanted to visit, replaced by the goatse.cx image. The content remained the same, but the graphics were changed.

What we really need is something like a keyed PKI for publically-accessible hotspots. NoCatNet is a step closer, but there's still no easy way to tell that the AP isn't "official", unless you can authorize it with your private key against its public key.

This kind of stuff sickens me.. it wasn't even 2 days after the tsunami that killed over 160,000 people, that the email spam/fraud was coming through asking for donations. Thousands of people were misled into donating lots of money to "fake" organizations set up by spammers and fraudulent people.. and they'll never see that money again.
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Old 02-27-2005, 02:17 PM   #7
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David, regarding Connexion's WLAN service... it offers the option you to establish secure VPN sessions with your destination, so in that case you don't have to worry about the man-in-the-middle-attack.

Btw, did I mention how much I liked spending my time surfing the Net on a long-distance flight?
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Old 02-27-2005, 02:24 PM   #8
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No, you never brought that up. Speaking of which, how much battery life did you get with your PPC? Do you have a charger for it on the plane, or another battery to swap it out with?
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Old 02-27-2005, 02:36 PM   #9
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The standard 1100 mAh battery of the Axim didn't last much longer than 2 hours while I was constantly using WLAN. I then switched to the extended 2200 mAh battery which allowed me to stay online for another 3-1/2 hours. Like Julie Strietelmeier from Gadgeteer correctly put it: When it comes to battery life with the X50v, the only word that comes to mind is short.

The PDA unit also became rather hot near the battery compartment after a few hours. I think that current embedded WiFi solutions are still far from perfect, and it won't be before more advanced solutions (SyChip's embedded 802.11g module) hit the market that PDA's equipped with WiFi will be truly enjoyable.

Still, it gives you a sense of freedom when you can access the Net from any place in the world, even when you're 10'000 meters high up in the sky (see the screenshots I just added).
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Old 02-27-2005, 02:58 PM   #10
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Btw, the IP I was surfing from was 216.65.237.211, which is part of the block reserved by Boeing for its Connexion customers:

IP Location: United States United States - Washington - Seattle - Connexion By Boeing Commercial Airline Customer
Connexion by Boeing CONNEXION-BY-BOEING (NET-216-65-224-0-1)
216.65.224.0 - 216.65.255.255
Connexion by Boeing Commercial Airline Customer COM-AVI-1 (NET-216-65-237-0-1)
216.65.237.0 - 216.65.239.255

# ARIN WHOIS database, last updated 2005-02-26 19:10
# Enter ? for additional hints on searching ARIN's WHOIS database.

The IPs trace back to Internap Network Services, the very same company who also serves Mobileread.com In the case of Connexion, Internap connects to satellite ground stations in the U.S. and Asia through its private network access points (P-NAPs) in Denver, Seattle and Tokyo. From each P-NAP, Internap then provides its high performance Internet service to support two-way satellite broadband for Internet access, data and entertainment programming to aircrafts operating in these regions.
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Old 02-27-2005, 05:20 PM   #11
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How awesome is that? Use VoIP-enabled software with you PDA instead of those credit card-activated Airphone antiques?!
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Old 02-27-2005, 07:34 PM   #12
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Actually that's a great point TadW. Alex could have plopped Skype on his Axim and been making calls too. "I'll be landing in an hour, honey."

Even at the hostage rate of $30, I think I would probably opt for this too, especially vs. the $10 for 30 minute rate. Oh yea, and even though 30 mins of wifi would just about kill the battery on my T3. Had I know, it could have made rethink taking Lufthansa. Too bad I'm flying United to Europe in a few weeks.
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Old 02-27-2005, 07:43 PM   #13
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Lynn, I was actually booking United myself, but they are code sharing flights with Lufthansa ("Star Alliance") and I ended up on this Lufthansa flight. There was a big annoucement on board before they enabled the service, and I was like, geez, this is my lucky day!
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Old 02-28-2005, 12:23 PM   #14
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Actually that's a great point TadW. Alex could have plopped Skype on his Axim and been making calls too. "I'll be landing in an hour, honey."
How difficult is it to run Skype on a PocketPC? Does it really work well? When you fly back to Frankfurt, you should definitely try out VOIP if you got a chance. Imagine how cool it'd be if you could call up all your friends and tell them that you are currently flying over the Atlantic
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Old 02-28-2005, 12:35 PM   #15
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How difficult is it to run Skype on a PocketPC? Does it really work well? When you fly back to Frankfurt, you should definitely try out VOIP if you got a chance. Imagine how cool it'd be if you could call up all your friends and tell them that you are currently flying over the Atlantic
I'll definitely give it a try if someone can give me some hints how to install Skype! I have never tried Skype before, not even on my notebook.

I just received the Connexion receipt and attached it to this post (some sensitive data is x'ed out).
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