How to crash an airplane

On my recent flight to Atlanta I managed to break the Delta airlines inflight entertainment system and upset a few fellow passengers on the plane (hello row 27 passengers: sorry for crashing your entertainment system and forcing you to fast forward to your movie a few times :)).

Each seat in the plane had a small touch screen monitor built into the head rest of the chair in front allowing passengers to watch a variety of movies (Beowulf sucked), sitcoms and play a few simple games. I decided to save half of the movies for my return flight and wanted to keep myself occupied with Klondike.

The touchscreen really sucked (and sorry to you in 26A – I might have hit the screen too hard a few times), but curiously after drawing the fourth card … poof… my screen goes black. Poof … screen of the person next to me goes black. In fact all screens in my row go black and initiate a nice Redhat Linux boot sequence:

I had to stop my “analysis” after the fourth repeated try, as fellow passengers got mightily upset, because as they managed to restart their movies, their system rebooted again (I noticed that it took painfully long to fast forward the movie). (I also noticed that taking a picture of the rebooting screen gave away that I was the culprit).

While the reboot resolved the issue, we were not that luck on our return flight. Halfway through our trip (and this time without my involvement), the inflight-entertainment system did not show a movie selection anymore. The cabin-crew reset the system a number of times and the whole plane showed rebooting penguins (at that point in time I hoped that none of my previous row-27 passengers are on the plane spreading the word that I am the cause of this). This time the reset did not help and the cabin-crew gave up (I did notice though that a NFS mount failed during the startup – probably the location to the movies???).

Downside of this experience: If you are on a 24-hour flight, ensure that you have alternative entertainment – since staring at a fairly static screen showing a tiny blue plane moving slowly towards your destination is not overly exciting after 4 hours.

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