Thanks to a pending Nor'easter, Jon Udell and I were all but guaranteed a miserable trip back to the east coast this weekend. In an attempt to mitigate our impending bad fortune, we badgered a ticket agent for almost an hour at SFO and finally got seats on the redeye to Dulles. Eventually our connecting flight would be cancelled, we would have to fly to Boston, rent a car and drive to Manchester, but at least we were on the right coast.
At about 1am, somewhere over the midwest, I was drinking Jack Daniels and writing some perl on the TiBook when my iChat popped up a note from Jon via Rendezvous. He was sitting 3 seats and one row away, flanked by sleeping passengers, as was I. We carried on a conversation for quite some time, shared files and so on. The guy next to we awoke briefly, blearily trying to figure out how I had Internet access, but eventually nodded off again.
Then Jon sent me SubEthaEdit, a collaborative editor with a few IDE features; syntax highlighting for a dozen languages -- perl, python, SQL, LaTeX, XML, CSS, C/C++, tcsh (but not bash) -- and a fairly intuitive color-coded interface for tracking changes and edits from multiple contributors in real-time. We hacked on some throwaway code for awhile, and chatted in the iChat backchannel. Pretty cool.
I appears that 802.11b doesn't interfere with planes any more than any other technology. I certainly hope so, since some airlines are planning on offering WiFi internet access on their flights in the near future. Undoubtedly the cost will be five dollars a minute or some even more exorbitant fee, but CPAN access on a flight might have it's advantages. More enticing to me is the idea that productive, spontaneous collaboration can occur in just about any situation -- and we didn't even have to stage-whisper IP addresses to each other across the sleeping plane.
Sometimes it's nice when technology works fluidly and flawlessly. It almost makes up for the other times, like the bug that caused the original draft of this post to be lost forever when I attempted to drag an image from Safari to the upload widget for Kung Log. Huzzah.