For those who read Slashdot you may have noticed the latest question on the front page is as follows: <a href=mailto:[email protected]itty.org>nuggetman</a> asks: "My high school, like most others, has a theater program. One critical element of the show is the tech crew - the group of people behind the scenes who keep it all running. Communication between the stage manager (myself) and crew members (as well as between crew members) is critical. For this job right now, we're using standard hand-held walkie-talkies. They get the job done, but they're susceptible to dead batteries, incompatibility between VOX headsets, and interference from janitors, the office, hall monitors, and even the local McDonald's. We've been wanting to invest in a theater-communication system, but they can run extremely expensive. Is there any hardware out there that could use a standard PC (Linux or Windows) and some wireless headsets to roll your own communication system that could cover a long enough range (say the theater which is the size of a gym plus a decent range outside it) at a low enough cost? Our school just installed 802.11b/g throughout the hallways, so we could tap into that if necessary and add our own router near the stage if we had to." I was appaled by some of the answers from Slashdot readers (who obviously do not understand theater at all) such as using laptops in backpacks and such. You can read all the responses on this page. My response (to the laptop suggestion) was: You obviously have no experiance in theater. Techs are expected to do anything from crawling out over suspended ceilings to crawling under a stage or running up and down stairs during a performance. A laptop in any sort of arrangement would get in the way and be easily broken, nevermind that for the price of a few laptops you could buy a real system from someone like Telex or Clear-Com. I would suggest visiting ControlBooth.com and asking this question in their forums to get some practical suggestions. These are people who actually work with this day in and day out so they have real life experiance. Here's my idea to do this on the really cheap. It's not that hard to build a private phone network that doesn't actually dial but works like a party line, just put some voltage on the line. Get yourself a bunch of cheap cordless phones that allow headset use and lock the phones on so the line is always open. It's far from perfect but is the closest thing I can come up with off the top of my head. Don't take my word for it visit ControlBooth.com and ask in the forums, they're good people and know what they're doing. What do you think? Any suggestions for this poor guy who is at the mercy of the crazy Slashdot suggestions?