Free Wireshark Training Course Online

Take a free Wireshark Jumpstart training class online at

Monday, June 9, 2008

Smack That ###!

Now before you begin to get all hot and bothered by the title of this splog ("spewed blog") - let me put this in context.

Brenda and I are on an American Airlines flight from SJC to DFW (if you travel much, you'll know the acronyms - if you don't who cares - just take it that we're on a plane). We were thrilled to have been upgraded and shuffled everyone around in first class so we could sit next to each other. I have loads of prep work that I still want to get done before TechEd starts tomorrow. (In truth, we've been cracking up while devising some very juvenile interview questions for our filming this week).

I've just plugged in my AirPcap adapters and set them for scanning mode - I want to know if the flight attendant speech about "please turn off your wireless cards or if your electronic device supports airplane mode, please use that" actually works. And after all - what's the point? Really?

I've talked to tons of pilots who say the whole wireless and cellular on planes is a bunch of hooey (pilot terminology). As Brenda and I hunch over the computer cracking up at the SSIDs flashing across the screen... my heart nearly stops...

"WHAT'S THAT!?" echoes through the entire plane at a decible level that rivals the Rolls Royce engines and makes my teeth ache. Holy shrieks - what was that?

"GIMME IT!" another shriek as my ears begin to bleed and both the parties in row 4 (the ones with hearing aids) keel over (there's just enough room in first class to actually keel over - if this had happened in 'economy class' no one would know until unloading time - you'd just look like you were taking a snoozer while propped up against the seat in front of you - lack of drooling would have been a clue, however).

With the 'Stare of Death' that my kids have feared since birth, I looked across to the nightmare sitting in 6B - with my eyes I try to send a signal of 'you should not be on this plane - and potentially, you should never breed'. I turn to Brenda with a simple question - "Why don't I hear any slapping?"
You see - I'm not wasting my 'Stare of Death' on the little boy who has the lung power to rival Pavarotti (before he died, of course) - the stare is for the mother who is oblivious to her son's inappropriate shrieking - hmmm.... perhaps the woman is deaf? If not, she will be soon. Hmmm.... are those earplugs in her ears? Really! This is a pet peeve of mine - parents who don't teach their kids manners until the kids reach the ripe old (too old for teaching manners) age of 13 or so.

What's wrong with saying to little Jimmy, "no, sweetie - we don't stand on the table at restaurants" or "no, honey, we don't give the cat a haircut using a butcher knife"? Geez - can't you get that kid a video game to play - laptops are cheap - get him Grand Theft Auto - that' oughta hold his attention - especially if his favorite color is red.

So... back to the wireless traffic - here's a list of the SSID's being requested by the various laptops on this flight (notice the lack of querying for WSU? I listen to those aero-cops big time now with the recent Call-Ahead-to-have-a-Passenger-Arrested-if-They-Don't-Wait-for-the-Beverage-Cart-to-Pass-Before-You-Want-to-Go-to-the-Bathroom law.

GlobalSuite Wireless
InternetIvy Room - (97)
Regents Park
Space Park #1
Westin-Aruba (this is just wrong - in Aruba hitting the wireless?)


After a bathroom break (I'll talk about the Coffe-Pack-in-the-Bathroom-Issue in another splog), I asked the flight attendants who were up in the front galley hiding away from the noise... "What's the deal with wireless communications on the plane? What happens if a laptop is turned on with wireless enabled?" In tandem, as if they'd practiced this response one thousand times (hmmm... mind-control training of flight attendants - that explains a LOT!) they synced "It interferes with the instrument panel!" I did mention that we must have lots of laptops on this plane with their wireless turned on - "How come we aren't plummeting to the ground by now?" Ok... wrong question. It took a bit of time to ensure them I wasn't interested in parking the plane over a corn field and I finally snuck back to my seat.

I reviewed the results of my wireless scan - systems desparately seeking 45 different SSIDs! Whoa! Doesn't anyone care about the dangers of wireless transmissions on the plane? Hey folks - our plane's instrument panel is probably popping outta the dash the and pilots are using hand-signals before turning! YOU'RE RISKING MY LIFE HERE, BUBBA! I feel like doing a 'puter smack-down of the systems on the plane, but feel that is likely to land me in Club Fed long before I'm ready... I sit down and pick up some SMB2 specs to review...

Now considering that TechEd starts tomorrow and we're on a flight from the Silicon Valley - I'm quite certain some of these yapping systems are headed for the conference center. It's kind of like meeting people ahead of time. When we get there, we'll check for some of the same SSID requests and who knows... we might find we're surrounded by friends before the conference even starts.

Uh oh... gotta go - landing time "Please turn off and stow all electronic devices..." Hmm.... maybe it would be interesting to see if people turn off their laptops during landing...

p.s. Visit the new page! Enjoy!