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December 9, 2009

High Internet

Filed under: Main — Tags: — Dan Gookin @ 12:01 am

Finally it happened. I stumbled across a flight that offered WiFi Internet access. At 30,000 feet.

Way back when, a long time ago, when wireless networking was just a preemie, I turned on my laptop on an Alaska Air flight. Up in the air. Against the rules.

The wireless networking gizmo was in the on position. I didn’t know it! I swear!

Yes, I’ve heard the tales of how wireless anything causes a plane to turn into a fireball and instantly go thundering toward the ground. Such a disaster would obviously be blamed on the only dork on the plane who bothered to turn on his laptop’s wireless networking. The arrogant fool.

Of course, the plane didn’t crash. I didn’t even get an urgent, panicked announcement form the pilot. “Turn that damn thing off!” Nope, nothing.

So, while I was being naughty, I opened the wireless networking browser window just to see whether I could pick up any wireless networks.

And I did! I found several networks available from 30,000 feet – including one called ThermonuclearTesting. But there wasn’t enough time to log on; the networks appeared and disappeared quickly as I flew over them.

Times have changed. Now some planes come equipped with wireless Internet access. I’m on such a plane right now as I type this blog entry. The wireless service is called GoGo.

Like most wireless services, such as those you’d find in a hotel lobby or at the airport, you connect to the service as you would any wireless network. Yes, that means you must activate your wireless network adapter, which is kind of cool given how forbidden it’s supposed to be in an airplane. But anyway.

After connecting, you open a web browser window. The only place you can browse to is the service’s site. That’s where the money happens.

Yep, none of this stuff is free.

Well, I suppose it’s free if you’re in First Class. I’m not in First Class, of course. Yeah, once upon a time I flew First Class when I was on business. But now, for the higher price, all you get is a bigger seat. After losing 70 lbs, I don’t need to pay three times the ticket price just to sit in a wide-ass seat. Money is money.

gogo-internet

Anyway, GoGo surprised me at not being as hellaciously expensive as I thought it would be. Yeah, you may balk at $13 for a 24 hour pass, but that’s typical for some hotels and convention centers. In fact, it’s in the mid-range of what I’ve paid before. The $25 monthly pass isn’t that bad, either. Heck, I once paid $35 a month just for crappy old dial-up Internet!

To answer your next question: No, I didn’t pay to get GoGo so that I could update Facebook and brag that I’m updating Facebook while flying at 30,000 feet from Cincinnati to Salt Lake City. My life has more going on than that (which makes you wonder why I bother with Facebook at all!)

Actually, what I’d really like to see on an airplane would be a power socket. I’d pay for that! Yessir!

Update. Got a free GoGo pass on my next flight. Next post (Friday) I’ll let you know how it went.

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