Wednesday, September 5, 2007

On-flight "Entertainment"

I guess most of us have experienced some sort of on-freight entertainment while traveling on air. You just assume the service is available in front of you (except for the budget airline).

I have had an interesting experience last month, coming back from Sydney on a Cathay Airbus (
A330). The on-freight entertainment system has failed to load 'the whole trip'. Almost all TV screens (320 of them in economy class) have continuously displayed a looping of text messages generated from the system debug/bootstrap environment.

I’m not posting this as a complaint. Rather, it’s an interesting experience, especially when the main lights are switched off and the cabin becomes dark (see picture).

For some reasons these TV screens cannot be switched off and so they continue to display the text messages and looping. When I walk around the plane, I see lot of TV screens systematically generated the same set of messages in asynchronous manner (or may be they are synchronous in some way). It is like I’m in the middle of a digital installation, with people sitting in a cabin of size 40 by 8, each facing the TV screen.

Since I have lot of spare time, I’ve actually time each debug process and it takes about 55 seconds. So for the whole journey each screen would have displayed about 590 times of these messages. I wonder what kind of effect it would have on me if I keep watching it over and over.

For the Linux enthusiast, the Red Boot environment could not found the image after dumping whatever packages are required, and error message “CSL-check() Failed” is displayed.

The attached images are a bit abstract, given the low light condition. The thought of using a tripod did cross my mind … for a split second!