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Why can't people figure out how to disable their wireless?

Why can't people figure out how to disable their wireless?

Old Oct 26, 06, 11:24 am
  #1  
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Why can't people figure out how to disable their wireless?

Now, I don't believe 2.4GHz signals are capable of adversely affecting a plane in flight—at least not at cruise. But I always turn off my Bluetooth and 802.11 as soon as I power on my laptop since that's the rule and they're pretty useless in flight anyways other than to suck power (unless you plan on playing networked games or something.)
I was on the 8:23AM ATL-BOS flight yesterday on a 738. Medallion and business traveler heavy—18 uncleared upgrades for the 16 seat F cabin, and I was in Y on an international J award with an uncleared F waitlist. You'd think this subset of folks would know how to use their laptops. Y was maybe 1/2 - 2/3 full overall.

Went to disable my wireless as usual. Under my AirPort menu: 4 ad-hoc networks! More than I'd ever seen on a flight before. Curious, I popped open my passive stumbler to see how many other devices were broadcasting.

Grand total: the 4 ad-hoc networks plus 5 additional machines probing for a network. Probably would've seen even more if I'd had more than a 2 minute sample near the end of the flight!
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Old Oct 26, 06, 11:40 am
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Most people have no clue how this stuff works or that it can be turned on and off apart from turning off the whole machine.
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Old Oct 26, 06, 11:40 am
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Originally Posted by karthik
Now, I don't believe 2.4GHz signals are capable of adversely affecting a plane in flight—at least not at cruise. But I always turn off my Bluetooth and 802.11 as soon as I power on my laptop since that's the rule and they're pretty useless in flight anyways other than to suck power (unless you plan on playing networked games or something.)
I was on the 8:23AM ATL-BOS flight yesterday on a 738. Medallion and business traveler heavy—18 uncleared upgrades for the 16 seat F cabin, and I was in Y on an international J award with an uncleared F waitlist. You'd think this subset of folks would know how to use their laptops. Y was maybe 1/2 - 2/3 full overall.

Went to disable my wireless as usual. Under my AirPort menu: 4 ad-hoc networks! More than I'd ever seen on a flight before. Curious, I popped open my passive stumbler to see how many other devices were broadcasting.

Grand total: the 4 ad-hoc networks plus 5 additional machines probing for a network. Probably would've seen even more if I'd had more than a 2 minute sample near the end of the flight!
I think they just don't pay attention (for computers, which can be disabled by a button on the keyboard, usually). Although I've disabled bluetooth on my wife's phone a couple of times and it's a maze of menus and not at all intuitive. The thing is that the wireless is a big drain on the battery, you'd think they would want to disable it just for that.
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Old Oct 26, 06, 11:43 am
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Does it affect anything if they don't?
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Old Oct 26, 06, 11:49 am
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Ah but it sure is fun at the hotel at night when TV stinks. Plenty of fun stuff you can do to wake people up to their lack of security concern. Nothing damaging of course, but a well placed cartoon on their desktop can really get the message across!

Starts here and links to a funny cartoon about wireless security
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Old Oct 26, 06, 12:21 pm
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Originally Posted by jfe
Does it affect anything if they don't?
Nope. I just think it's funny that airlines take so much pain to make sure people aren't using cellphones yet there are all these laptops broadcasting RF. I don't think I've ever heard an announcement telling people to make sure Bluetooth/802.11/internal cellular data cards are disabled.

Solution is to have more laptops with a button that disables all wireless services. Perhaps even mark it with an airplane icon! @:-)
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Old Oct 26, 06, 1:09 pm
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Originally Posted by karthik
Nope. I just think it's funny that airlines take so much pain to make sure people aren't using cellphones yet there are all these laptops broadcasting RF. I don't think I've ever heard an announcement telling people to make sure Bluetooth/802.11/internal cellular data cards are disabled.

Solution is to have more laptops with a button that disables all wireless services. Perhaps even mark it with an airplane icon! @:-)
Don't give them ideas, I had trouble explaining a FA that my cell phone could work in airplane mode.
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Old Oct 26, 06, 1:17 pm
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Originally Posted by jfe
Don't give them ideas, I had trouble explaining a FA that my cell phone could work in airplane mode.
I thought that NONE of the phones with "airplane modes" have ever been approved by the FAA and that until they do, you are not allowed to have them on, even in "airplane mode". When did this change?
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Old Oct 26, 06, 1:24 pm
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Originally Posted by Murph
I thought that NONE of the phones with "airplane modes" have ever been approved by the FAA and that until they do, you are not allowed to have them on, even in "airplane mode". When did this change?
I've heard announcements several times saying to put any cellphones or cellphone PDAs that have a flight mode into that mode if one wants to use them in-flight. Not sure if I've ever heard this on a domestic US carrier though.

Originally Posted by jfe
Don't give them ideas, I had trouble explaining a FA that my cell phone could work in airplane mode.
I wasn't exactly planning on going up to FAs and stating "hey, there are 9 people onboard with laptops that didn't turn off their wireless cards..."

I had an FA start berating me for having my GPS out a few months back because she thought it was a cellphone. This was after I'd asked the SAME FA earlier if I could use my GPS in-flight and was told that it was fine. I think this was on REX flying SYD-DBO.
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Old Oct 26, 06, 1:29 pm
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Originally Posted by Murph
I thought that NONE of the phones with "airplane modes" have ever been approved by the FAA and that until they do, you are not allowed to have them on, even in "airplane mode". When did this change?
When you disable the communications from a phone, how is it different from a PDA, MP3 player, or even worse, a laptop with the wireless enabled?

I see people with Treos and Blackberries using them on board all the time
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Old Oct 26, 06, 1:33 pm
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Sorry but I fail to see a huge problem with undisabled wireless on airplanes in and in hotels. These folks can do what they wish. Additionally I dont go around turning the neighbors door knobs to see if they have locked their front and back doors and used their deadbolts.

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Old Oct 26, 06, 1:40 pm
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Originally Posted by karthik
I had an FA start berating me for having my GPS out a few months back because she thought it was a cellphone. This was after I'd asked the SAME FA earlier if I could use my GPS in-flight and was told that it was fine. I think this was on REX flying SYD-DBO.
Interestingly, GPS use approval is airline dependent. I don't know how up to date this list is:

http://gpsinformation.net/airgps/airgps.htm

I always disable my wifi when turning on my laptop in flight. I always see a adhoc network or two active.
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Old Oct 26, 06, 3:56 pm
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Originally Posted by canuck_in_pa
GPS use approval is airline dependent. I don't know how up to date this list is:

http://gpsinformation.net/airgps/airgps.htm
Right; that's why I always ask first (since it's up to the pilot as well of course.) I've never had an airline with a GPS-okay policy say no, though. Interestingly, Delta's policy is even more liberal than what's listed there: you can use your GPS while taxiing to the gate as well (along with cellphones, pagers, PDAs, and electronic games—but not calculators! )

Originally Posted by MisterNice
Sorry but I fail to see a huge problem with undisabled wireless on airplanes in and in hotels. These folks can do what they wish. Additionally I dont go around turning the neighbors door knobs to see if they have locked their front and back doors and used their deadbolts.
The difference between an airplane and a hotel is that hotels don't have a policy, backed up by federal policies, that you cannot use wireless devices. I certainly use my own portable access point in hotels often enough. Hotels also tend to be immobile and located at ground level rather than going 500mph at 35000'. (That said, again I don't think 2.4GHz poses any danger at cruise—if it did, we wouldn't have had Connexion service with a wireless network running throughout the plane.)

And I don't go turning doorknobs either. Passive sniffing without capturing traffic is akin to driving down a street looking at whose doors are open, as well as sitting around looking for other people doing the same. Now, capturing traffic, cracking encrypted networks, etc are things I only do if someone's paying me to legitimately do so on their own network. THAT is going around turning doorknobs (and picking locks on top of it.)

Anyways, the real point of my post was just me being amused at the sheer number of active wireless devices on a reasonably unloaded plane, since it was like 3x higher than anything I'd ever seen before (adjusting for number of pax)!
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Old Oct 27, 06, 7:21 am
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Originally Posted by MisterNice
Sorry but I fail to see a huge problem with undisabled wireless on airplanes in and in hotels. These folks can do what they wish. Additionally I dont go around turning the neighbors door knobs to see if they have locked their front and back doors and used their deadbolts.

MisterNice
I agree, I have much better things to worry about
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Old Oct 27, 06, 7:22 am
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Originally Posted by karthik
Nope. I just think it's funny that airlines take so much pain to make sure people aren't using cellphones yet there are all these laptops broadcasting RF.
Well, class 2 Bluetooth is 2.5mW, 802.11b transmitters are limited to 100mW, and GSM cellphones can radiate up to 2W so there's is a whole order of magnitude difference there.
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