Enjoy your now-traditional Friday LinkSwarm:
Posts Tagged ‘technology’
Rep. John Carter announced on his Facebook page that he’s withdrawing his support of SOPA. Carter is my congressman, and sadly, he was previously a SOPA cosponsor. It’s good to see that he’s seen the light.
I’m sure by now that everyone who has been paying attention knows the Obama Administration’s insatiable appetite for cony capitalism, especially when it comes to shoveling “green energy” subsidies to Obama campaign donors.
But never mind that. The latest Obama scandal has the potential to kill more Americans than Fast and Furious, maybe by three or four orders of magnitude.
The high level summary: A project backed by a prominent Democratic donor might interfere with GPS.
I used to work at both a GPS company, and a company producing RF chips for commercial computer use, so I have a little more technological background on this issue than some. Here’s a summary of the issue by the former Chief Technology Officer of one of the companies I used to work for:
LightSquared uses spectrum right next to GPS, and they expect to have both terrestrial and satellite broadband links. GPS signals are already quite faint by the time they reach the earth’s surface, and any adjacent interference could severely impact the performance of a GPS receiver – its location accuracy could be impaired, or it may not work at all. There are millions of GPS receivers in both civilian and military systems that could be impacted…it would be impossible to retrofit all of these with a fix, so the onus is on LightSquared to figure out how to avoid interfering with GPS.
GPS satellites broadcast a 50-watt signal from 12,000 miles up, across an entire continent, said Pete Large, a vice president at GPS vendor Trimble Navigation who works with the Coalition. By contrast, the LTE base stations used in the recent tests produced signals of up to 1,600 watts within about a mile of GPS receivers. LightSquared’s signals were stronger by 1 billion times or more, Large said.
So GPS signals get overwhelmed by a local source. What’s the worst that could happen?
Well imagine a Boeing 787 Dreamliner conducting an nighttime instrument approach to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport when the GPS signal is overwhelmed at a critical phase. Now imagine that same Boeing 787 Dreamliner plowing into downtown Arlington, Virginia at 150 miles per hour, leaving a wake of bloody body parts and burning jetfuel for a quarter-mile.
That’s the worst that could happen.
How likely is that worst case scenario? Well, consider that news just broke of the U.S government test of LightSquared technology. The result?
- Philip Falcone’s proposed LightSquared Inc. wireless service caused interference to 75 percent of global-positioning system receivers examined in a U.S. government test, according to a draft summary of results.
The results from testing conducted Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 show that “millions of fielded GPS units are not compatible” with the planned nationwide wholesale service, according to the draft seen by Bloomberg News.
“LightSquared signals caused harmful interference to majority of GPS receivers tested,” according to the draft prepared for a meeting next week of U.S. officials reviewing the LightSquared proposal. “No additional testing is required to confirm harmful interference exists.”
(Hat tip: Slashdot.)
It was bad enough when the Obama Administration was just wasting taxpayer dollars on well-connected business cronies like Solyandra. But Fast and Furious has helped kill hundreds of Mexicans and at least one U.S. border patrol agent, all for the the purpose of promoting gun control. In trying to help another batch of well-connected Democratic cronies at LightSquared, the results could easily be hundreds or evn thousands dead. And it might not just be one airliner, because there’s no guarantee the accident investigation would find the cause quick enough to prevent a re-occurrence.
Will the Obama Administration back off it’s efforts to ram through LightSquared approval despite the scientific evidence? Will LightSquared stop trying to get the technology approved?
Don’t bet on it. From the same story:
LightSquared is “outraged by the illegal leak of incomplete government data,” Harriman said in an e-mailed statement. “This breach attempts to draw an inaccurate conclusion to negatively influence the future of LightSquared and narrowly serve the business interests of the GPS industry.”
Yeah, the GPS industry does indeed have a strong business interest in not seeing thousands of people die. Whether the the Obama Administration shares that concern enough to turn their back on a major Democratic donor less than a year before the 2012 elections remains to be seen.
I still don’t feel like I have a good handle on the Tunisian Revolution yet. (Indeed, my fingers keep wanting to type “Tunesian,” which suggests a government based on iTunes…) Jihadi? Non-Jihadi? Both? (Probably the the last.) But the fact that the government-owned ISPs were running a massive “man in the middle” attack by capturing every password for Facebook (and what the Facebook team did about it, certainly suggests that the (semi-deposed) government were no angels. In fact, it brings back memories of East Germany, where Stasi monitoring stations were literally built right on top of telephone exchanges…
(And speaking of the Stasi, if you haven’t done so already, you should see The Lives of Others, one of the greatest films of the last decade…)
Bruce is a lefty sort, but there’s a whole lot of pithy interest and insight in this essay, as there usually is in Bruce’s essays. And also like many of Bruce’s essays, it’s very long. I hope to finish it myself later on today…
Instapundit usually puts up good, interesting links, but this one by Cindy Perman on disappearing jobs suffers from the fact that the woman who wrote it has no idea what she’s talking about, at least when it comes to computers:
While computer software engineers, the guys who write the software, are projected to be among the fastest-growing jobs, rising 32 percent over the next 10 years, demand for computer programmers, the guys who write the instructions for a computer to use that software, is expected to shrink 3 percent in the next decade.”
What on earth is she trying to say here? “The instructions for a computer to use that software” are, in fact, the software. Does she mean system architects vs. programmers? Those with engineering degrees and those without? Programmers versus Technical Writers (who tell people how to use software, not computers how to run the software they’re already running)? It’s so incoherent you can’t tell what she means.
As a science fiction writer (I think it was S. M. Stirling) said on a convention panel once: “You ever notice how a newspaper article on a subject you’re an expert in always has lots of errors? Well, all the rest of the articles have just as many errors, you just don’t know it.”
At least the article provides a handy example of why so many “Reporters and Correspondents” jobs are going away…
The Weekly Standard has an interesting piece on The Stuxnet worm. It seems designed to attack Iran’s nuclear program, was in the wild for more than six months before being detected, featured stolen digital signature keys (which may have involved actual physical espionage) and used an off-the charts four zero-day exploits, which is pretty much unheard of.
We really, really better hope that we or the Israelis wrote this thing, because if not, there’s a team of scary-good black hat hackers out there (from the description of how large and sophisticated it is, and all the different things it does, makes me think it took at least ten really good hackers more than a year to create) that can physically destroy major infrastructure targets through code almost at will. You really, really don’t want a team of “non-state actors” to have those capabilities…
I suspect we’re getting a glimpse of what the opening rounds of the next major war will look like…