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For part of last week, I was at AirVenture 2008 – the largest gathering of flyers and aviation buffs in the world. For this week, little Wittman Field in Oshkosh, Wisconsin becomes the busiest airport in the world.

Past conventions have featured the Harrier jumpjet, the Osprey, the Warthog, the Wright Flyer, many airshow teams, the Concorde, the Raptor, and many, many other aircraft. Every aviation related company makes an appearance, including such diverse companies as Piper, Cessna, the Air National Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Border Patrol, Flying Magazine, the Aircraft Owner and Pilots Association, and much, much, much more.

Aviation luminaries also make an appearance, including those such as Burt Rutan, Patty Wagstaff, Buzz Aldrin, and many more.

One interesting thing for a systems administrator to see is how companies utilize computing, as well as how they handle such a large number of users.

At Airventure, the first thing I noticed was that wifi was unusable at the camping site nearby – because the captive portal was overwhelmed by the number of people using it (and not logging out). Part of a system administrator’s job is to predict utilization and to be prepared for it – and to be able to “scale” or handle a large influx of users without hiccups. How would you respond? How would you have prevented it?

The second thing of interest was in aircraft avionics – that is, the pilots array of dials and guages. The talk (old to aviators) is of the “glass panel”, or an LCD display which replaces multiple dials and guages. When I asked someone who was with Avionics Magazine about the use of open source and of operating systems such as Linux and/or Windows Embedded, it turns out that none of these products can be used in avionics as they are not certified for avionics. Interesting indeed.

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