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11/15/2005
02:53 PM
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Collaboration From On High

This message comes to you directly from seat 3H on board Lufthansa flight 410.  I am writing this column on my way back from Munich to New York - literally - and posting it to Collaboration Loop as we fly along at 11,000 m.  

I was in Munich for several reasons, including client meetings and to participate in BMW's European Delivery program.  I picked up a BMW 330xi, in Sparkling Graphite. And yes, it has Bluetooth - among many other fun options.  I drove a total of 2426 km over 5 days, and visited Germany, Austria, Italy, and Hungary.  The trip also presented an opportunity for me to finally test the Lufthansa FlyNet service (powered by Connexion by Boeing). Earlier this year, Lufthansa added the service to New York flights; it has been available on the Los Angeles - Munich route for over a year now.

Unfortunately, the FlyNet service didn't cooperate on last week's flight to Munich, but that did allow me to get a few extra hours of sleep (Lufthansa's seats do fold into completely flat beds which are quite comfortable).

Today, as soon as we hit cruising altitude, my computer detected Wi-Fi and I logged into FlyNet.  

Seat power outlets are located conveniently and I had a choice of U.S. or the European Schuko connection systems.  I started off with simple chores, such as checking the news (I decided NOT to grab a handful of newspapers as I boarded, opting - hoping - to see the more current online version).

With Lotus Notes replicating my mail and other databases in the background, I started receiving Sametime instant messages from colleagues.  I'm going to keep this brief - and will follow-up on the subject in future columns - but my initial experience (discounting last week's flight) with FlyNet is very positive.  Granted, it is relatively slow (I did several speed tests and it is marginally faster than GPRS) but we ARE after all at 11,000 m cruising along at 860 km/h.

After reading some e-mail, I called home using Skype (quality was decent), checked my voicemail, upgraded iTunes, did some online banking - in short, nothing extraordinary, absent the venue.  

My neighbor, in 3J, Frau Frowein, lives in Munich and is visiting New York for the first time.  She had some questions for me, so I suggested we look online at some information.   I suggested a concert at Carnegie Hall, so we looked at the program and she and I booked a ticket for her for this Thursday.   We also e-mailed her daughter.

About 3 hours into the flight, I briefly lost the connection but the service has been flawless ever since.

Today's flight takes place entirely during business hours in the United States. We departed at 15:15 local time, which is 09:15 in New York.  We will land at 18:25 New York time, which is 15:25 in California.  This represents an entire day - and given the pace at which the knowledge economy moves - missing one day is more than many can afford.

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