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Musician sues Royal Opera House over ruined hearing

It is quite a common thing that musicians and artists that are exposed to loud noise, will eventually suffer from hearing damage. We have seen many artists suffer from this career threatening damage, the likes of Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and Ozzy Osbourne and the tinnitus that is effecting Chris Martin from Coldplay, this is a problem that many more will be affected by. This article from the BBC talks about Chris Goldscheider and his pursuit of damages over his hearing damage. Rightly or wrongly it’s an interesting tale.

A renowned viola player is suing the Royal Opera House for ruining his hearing and his career during rehearsals of Wagner’s Die Walkure.

Chris Goldscheider claims his hearing was irreversibly damaged by brass instruments put immediately behind him.

The Musicians’ Union says hearing damage is a major problem for musicians playing in orchestras.

The Royal Opera House denies it is responsible, but around a quarter of its players suffer hearing illnesses.

In court documents seen by the BBC, Goldscheider claims that in 2012 his hearing was “irreversibly damaged” during rehearsals of Richard Wagner’s thunderous Die Walkure “from brass instruments placed immediately behind him” in the famous “pit” at the Royal Opera House.

The sound peaked at around 137 decibels, which is roughly the sound of a jet engine. The court documents say the noise “created an immediate and permanent traumatic threshold shift”.

Image captionChris Goldscheider played the viola with some of the world’s greatest orchestras

Goldscheider says this amounts to “acoustic shock”, one effect of which is that the brain hugely amplifies ordinary sounds.

Music has been in most of Goldscheider’s life: “For the last quarter of a century I’ve been a professional musician. Music was my income. It was my everything,” he says.

The son of a composer, from the age of 10 he spent in excess of six hours a day practising and rehearsing. He played the viola with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and BBC Symphony orchestras, before joining the prestigious Royal Opera House orchestra in 2002.

Career highlights have included performing live with the famous Three Tenors to 100,000 people at the Barcelona Camp Nou football stadium, and with Kylie Minogue on MTV. He has also recorded with artists including the band 10cc.

Goldscheider says the effects of the hearing damage have been devastating.

“Ordinary sounds like banging cups and glasses together is a very painful noise,” he says.

“My newborn daughter last year was crying so much I actually got noise-induced vertigo because of my injury and I ended up in bed for three weeks.”

The musician says he has lost the career he loved and his mental health has deteriorated as he struggles to cope with the impact and effects of his hearing problems.

Life has changed dramatically. To carry out ordinary every day tasks such as preparing food, Chris has to wear ear protectors. Especially upsetting is that he had been unable to listen to his 18-year-old son Ben – one of the country’s outstanding young French horn players.

“Ben is a fantastic musician. I haven’t been able to listen to him play or practice since my injury. I’ve missed him playing concerts and winning competitions. I can’t even bear him practising in an upstairs room when I am downstairs in the house,” he says.

musician has to wear ear protectors to carry out every day tasks

At the time of his injury, Goldscheider was provided with hearing protection capable of reducing the noise by up to 28 decibels, but his lawyers claim this was insufficient. They say he was not given enough training in how to use it and protect himself, and that the noise levels should not have been so dangerously high.

The Royal Opera House does not accept the rehearsal noise caused Goldscheider’s injury, and denies that is responsible.

In a statement it told the BBC: “Mr Goldscheider’s compensation claim against the Royal Opera House is a complex medico-legal issue, which has been going on for some time and is still under investigation.

“All sides are keen to reach a resolution. The matter is now the subject of legal proceedings, and in the circumstances it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment any further at this stage.”

And according to Goldscheider’s solicitor Chris Fry, part of the Royal Opera House’s defence breaks new legal ground.

“Essentially what is being said is that the beautiful artistic output justifies damaging the hearing of the musicians performing it,” he says.

“That’s never been tested by the courts. We don’t think the court is likely to uphold that, in particular where it’s clear steps could be taken to maintain the beautiful sound and protect hearing at the same time.”

he Royal Opera House denies it is responsible for Chris Goldscheider’s hearing issue

Hearing damage suffered by rock musicians is well documented. Years ago The Who’s Pete Townsend went public about his hearing loss and famously said a doctor had told him: “You’re not actually going deaf, but I’d advise you to learn to lip read.”

Brian Johnson of AC/DC and Ozzy Osborne have also been affected. But what is far less well known is that it is a significant problem in the more sedate and sophisticated world of classical music.

There are around 100 players in the orchestra at the Royal Opera House. The BBC has learnt more than a quarter report occasional or mild hearing illness, and that in the 2013/14 season, there were seven cases of sickness absence related to noise problems and a total of 117 weeks of sick leave taken. That’s not music to anyone’s ears.

Morris Stemp of the Musicians Union says there are many reasons for the hearing damage suffered by classical musicians.

“Conductors are allowed to ride roughshod over health and safety considerations,” he says. “They put players on the stage where they will be in harm’s way. And instruments are now louder than they ever were before because of the materials they are now made from.”

Add to that the increased number of live concerts prompted in part by the drop in income from CD sales, and there is a mix of elements that can put the hearing of orchestra players at serious risk.

Chris Goldscheider’s case casts light on a little known or discussed problem, and will be watched closely by all those in the classical music world.

 

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In Ear Monitor Buyer’s Guide: Custom vs. Generic Fit

It is understood that ear moulded plugs are far more comfortable and effective than the mushroom plugs, but which ones are the best? The Custom fit or generic fit. This article runs over the positives and negatives of that question and comes to a conclusion, if your debating to get some moulded ear plugs or some from the shelf, you will want to read this first.

Over the past 20 years, In Ear Monitors (or IEMs) have become a near-necessity for live performance.

In years prior, engineers would inevitably have to crank up a venue’s stage monitors loud enough for the musicians to hear themselves over the audience, over the sound coming from the stage, and over the main mix.

This would often lead to an arms race of ever-increasing stage volume, potentially causing feedback issues and compromises in clarity and quality for the live mix.

Custom in-ear monitors from JH Audio, one of the first commercial brands to make a name for itself in the IEM market.

With the advent of in-ear monitors, all this began to change. In the mid-1980s, Etymotic developed the first-ever insert-style earphones, and soon after, a designer named Marty Garcia began making one-off custom in-ears for rock stars like Todd Rundgren.

By 1995, Jerry Harvey, founder of Ultimate Earsand JH Audio, brought some of the first commercially-available dual-driver IEMs to market. All of a sudden, everyday musicians had an option that allowed us to save our hearing, get better monitor mixes, and dramatically reduce the chances of feedback onstage.

Today, IEMs are increasingly being considered useful tools for the studio as well. Their ability to prevent sound leakage can be of tremendous value in helping to control click and instrument bleed, and in saving musicians’ hearing by allowing them to monitor at lower levels.

Some musicians and engineers, such as drummer Rich Pagano of The Fab Faux, will use IEMs to quickly check for phase when mic’ing up a drum kit, while others turn to IEMs as a kind of audio microscope, using them to help check for and remove extraneous low-level noise.

Any modern musician would be wise to consider adding in-ear monitors to their toolkit. But is it worth it to dish out the extra money on custom fit IEMs, instead of saving some money with the generic fit ones?

In testing a variety of in-ear monitors from brands like Westone, Ultimate Ears, Future Sonics, and even Skullcandy (that last of which is not recommended for professional use), I have found that there are cases in which generic fit earphones may work better than their custom counterparts. Making the right decision for your needs comes down to considering the following four factors:

1) Cost

Ultimate Ears custom fit in-ear monitors.

Custom fit IEMs tend to cost more than generic fit ones, as it takes more time and effort for the manufacturer to craft a product designed specifically for the unique anatomy of your ear.

Getting custom IEMs made also requires that you go to an audiologist to make a mold of your ear canal that the IEM company can then use to make your monitors fit as well as possible.

Take note of both of these costs, which can range from $100-$200 or more for a fitting from an audiologist, and $299-$1499 or more for the custom monitors to be made.

2) Comfort & Seal

Custom fit IEMs are custom, so they should feel really comfortable, right?  Well, yes and no.

In my experience, custom fit IEMs can feel a little tight in the ear canal compared to generics, especially at first. Hearing so little acoustic feedback from your performance can also take some getting used to, and the tight seal of custom fit in-ears can feel particularly awkward when signing.

Because of this, my looser-fitting Westone 3 generic IEMs actually feel more comfortable to me on vocal duties, so I often find myself using them over my custom fit Future Sonics when I step up to the mic.

Matt Bellamy from Muse (recently featured in Get THAT Guitar Tone) has been seen using both customUltimate Ears UE-11s and generic-fit Westone UM2s when on tour, and my guess is that he has similar reasons.

Though the tight fit of custom IEMs and lack of acoustic feedback from your performance can be a challenge, it’s worth noting that generic foam-tip IEMs also provide their own tradeoffs: The looser fit of generics can sometimes create a bit of a tingling or “tickling” feeling in your ear when playing at higher volumes, so it may be useful to have a pair of each and go with what feels best depending on the date and venue.

Silicone-based Encore Studio custom IEMs from ACS.

Another option here is the custom fit brandACS, which makes its IEMs out of soft silicone shells.

This softer silicone-based design is meant to offer both better comfort and a tighter fit than the hard acrylic shells used by brands like Westone and Ultimate Ears.

Though these silicone monitors sell for a premium price of $400-$1,200 and up, they may help bridge the gap between the tight seal of custom acrylics and the looser and easier fit of foam-tipped generic IEMs.

3) Hearing Protection

In addition to cutting down on sound leakage to help improve sound quality and reduce feedback, another primary benefit of IEMs is that they can offer considerable hearing protection by helping to block out exterior noise, allowing you to monitor at lower levels.

Some of the best custom fit brands like JH Audio and Ultimate Ears offer NRR ratings of 26dB in reduction, and some of the better generic brands advertise comparable results as well. (Though your results with generics may vary depending on the fit and seal in your ear.)

In the long term, reducing the levels you’re regularly exposed to—even by a few extra decibels—could mean the difference between a long and illustrious career as a “golden-eared” audio engineer and potentialtinnitus and irreversible hearing loss.

Also worth checking out is the REV33 system, which can be added on to your your in-ear-monitoring system to help reduce distortion and ear strain. Many live musicians, including Phil X and Steve Salas swear by the system. According to the company:

“All in-ear monitors and headphones generate damaging, unwanted noise and distortion that forces the ear to shut down and compress for protection. The REV33 reduces the symptoms of tinnitus, ear-ringing, ear-fatigue, buzzing and dampened hearing by preventing in-ear monitors and headphones from producing this unwanted noise and distortion.”

4) Waiting and Time Considerations

After getting my first pair of IEM’s made, I found that the right ear monitor turned out well, but I was not getting a proper seal in the left ear at first. This made the monitors essentially useless for my live sound needs at the time, and so I had to send them back for some tweaking.

When I got them back a couple of weeks later, the seal still wasn’t great, so I had to send them back once again for further modification, and visit my audiologist a second time to take another impression of my ear canal to send in.

Getting the perfect fit turned out to be quite a time-consuming process (as well as an expensive one) so unless you’re on the hunt for a long-term solution with as much acoustic isolation as humanly possible, you might satisfice with generic IEMs, or keep some around as an alternate option.

In that case, I would recommend the generic in-ears from Ultimate Ears, Shure, or Westone.

Ultimate Ears’ generic fit UE900 model sports 4 drivers for $400.

The Ultimate Ears UE900’s are a great sounding 4-driver IEM that only costs $399, while the $99 Shure SE215 single-driver IEMs advertise an astonishing 37dB of noise reduction (more than most custom IEMs) at a great price.

My own triple-driver Westone 3’s (since replaced by the W30 model) are the most comfortable in ear monitors I own right now, and they isolate a lot more noise than most thanks to their foam-tip construction.

Compared to custom in-ears, any of these model can potentially save you time and money, or work as a welcome supplement for those times when the tight fit of custom in-ears feels irksome.

I hope my experiences here help you make the right decision when you go to buy your own IEMs. In short, I found that less-expensive generic foam-tipped IEMs worked better for me in many situations, and the savings enabled me to spend my money on better drivers with a fuller sound.

If you’ve used IEM’s in the past, let us know in the comments below whether you prefer custom fits or generic fit ones, and why.

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Can Loud Headphones Cause Ear Infections

Technology is improving each and every day, but these advancements have left many of us tightly trapped in the luxuries and comforts, imposing many side effects on our overall health. One such modern advancement in technology that’s affecting our health is the use of headphones. Today, many people use headphones without knowing the kind of negative health issues the devices can cause.

Well, although headphones are an ergonomic, convenient and quite useful hands free accessories, there are various health risks that are associated with their use. Experts believe that prolonged use of headphones can cause great damage to the ears. In addition, headphones cause ear infections, which contributes to hearing loss. Well, some of the risks that are associated with headphones have more to do with their use and maintenance, than with the headphones mechanics.

Ear infections are much more likely to occur amongst the headphone users who wear the devices for extended periods of time, and also amongst those who don’t take good care of their headphones. For example, headphone ear cushions need to be replaced every 2-3 months, and should be treated regularly with the right cleaning agent so as to avoid accumulation of germs and bacteria. Prolonged headphone use also causes aural hygiene issues, hearing loss along with ear canal infections. Recent scientific studies have revealed that wearing headphones for extended periods of time usually increase the humidity and the temperatures inside the ear canals, thereby increasing one’s susceptibility to ear infections. This shows that headphones cause ear infections.

Sharing of headphones is another way headphones cause ear infections. It is quite common for people to share their headphones with others. Sharing headphones with others is not a good idea since the bacteria from other people’s ears will travel to your very own ears and this will cause ear infections. Therefore, the next time you think of sharing your headphones, think again. Do not share your headphones with anyone, not even your friends or family.

Listening to music together is another way headphones cause ear infections. As romantic as it may seem, there are dire repercussions to sharing headphones. In the process of enjoying music together, you will end up transferring somebody else’s bacteria to your ears; this can lead to ear infections. Make sure you sanitize your headphones by thoroughly cleaning them with a clean tissue paper before plugging them in.

Apart from the germs and bacteria you get from borrowing or/and sharing headphones, you can also get germs and bacteria from not changing your very own headphone sponges. It’s recommended you change the rubber or sponge cover of your headphones every 2-3 months mainly because they tend to get covered with germs and bacteria over time.

Some other ways you can avoid ear infections caused by headphones is by always keeping your headphones clean, regularly replacing the old headphones and ear pads, avoiding sharing headphones or using the public headphones, and not sharing earbuds. Also, if your headphones have a sponge or a rubber cover, make sure you change them every 2 months. Finally, remember to give your ears some rest once every 15 minutes, and do not play the music way too loud, for this might contribute to hearing loss.

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Trends in … hearing protection

Many business and factories are very well aware of their legal obligations when it comes to occupational deafness, and here in the UK we have the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2006. Many of the headsets that are listed on Headsetonline.co.uk are designed exactly for these types of industries, with their experience they are a leader in radio headsets and hearing protection equipment. But as the article below explains the protection has to personalised to everyone, so as to make sure that the individual is catered for and protected adequately. The original source of this article can be found here.

Hearing loss is preventable. Why, then, is it still so common? NIOSH notes that occupational hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States. And according to OSHA, approximately 30 million people in the United States are exposed to hazardous noise on the job.

“Noise-induced hearing loss is generally a gradual and painless process, so many workers don’t consider it a hazard … until it’s too late,” said Katie Mielcarek, marketing manager for Cleveland-based Gateway Safety Inc. Mielcarek went on to say that workers don’t wear hearing protection for many reasons, including discomfort, poor fit and problems with compliance monitoring and trouble inserting earplugs.

Here, industry insiders discuss what’s new and offer advice on hearing protection.

What’s new

“Electronic muffs contain the latest technology designed to protect against environments with impulse noises,” said Eric Moreno, market manager for Cranberry Township, PA-based MSA. “The technology amplifies weak sounds while compressing dangerous noises to a predetermined safe level of 82 dB or lower.” Moreno said this allows face-to-face communication and lets workers hear important sounds, such as warning signals.

Gary Klee, product manager for above-the-neck products at Latham, NY-based Protective Industrial Products Inc., pointed to a “level-dependent system” available with electronic earmuffs. This system has microphones in both ear cups to help limit sounds reproduced through the internal speakers to a safe level, which “allows communication with others while remaining protected against impulsive or hazardous noise,” Klee said.

Advice

Ricardo Allamelou, COO for Miami Lakes, FL-based Cotral Lab Inc., said providing every worker with the exact same type of hearing protection doesn’t make sense. “The protection has to be personalized since overprotection is as dangerous as no protection at all,” he said.

According to Moreno, “Overprotecting can actually increase the danger to a person’s life because this can hinder their ability to hear relevant noises such as warning signals, moving vehicles, other workers, etc.” To reduce the chance of overprotecting, Moreno recommends thoroughly understanding the level of noise in every area of the workplace to determine what level of protection each area needs.

Additionally, be sure your hearing protection is independently, third-party tested to verify noise reduction ratings, Mielcarek said. “This helps communicate quality in an industry where many manufacturers simply mark their products with a standard or a rating, without the testing to back it up.”

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Depicting as a method of communication

This is an interesting review of a paid article, depicting which is represent by a drawing, painting, or other art form can be used as a form of communications, the type of depicting is described here in many different forms and that is where we will allow the article to take up the story.

When we think of language, we usually think of words, phrases, and sentences–strings of abstract symbols. In research over the past 50 years, cognitive and social scientists have developed extensive accounts of how people communicate with these symbols. But when people are face to face, they also communicate with actions that depict people, objects, and events. They create these depictions with their hands, arms, head, face, voice, and entire body, sometimes with other props but often without.

In an article recently published Online First in Psychological Review, Herbert Clark argues that spontaneous depictions like these are missing from general accounts of how people communicate, and that is a major failing. Why? Because depicting is common in everyday conversation and depicting things is fundamentally different from describing things. Also, a great many utterances are “composites” of depicting and describing.

Clark’s point is nicely illustrated in a report, from the New Yorker, of Hollywood director WG telling correspondent TF about having to stop filming in New York because of some falcons nesting on the ledge of a building:

“In L.A., they would have–” He leveled a finger at some imaginary nestlings and made a gun-cocking sound.

As Clark notes, WG could easily have described the scene with the phrase “shot those falcons.” What he did instead was depict the scene with his finger, hand, head, eyes, and voice. The result included a depiction (leveling a finger and making a gun-cocking sound) in place of the phrase “shot those falcons.” Traditional accounts are unable to handle composites like this.

What is depicting? In the theory developed in this paper, to depict something is to stage a scene. When WG leveled his finger at the imaginary falcons, he enacted a shooter in L.A. aiming a rifle at some falcons. And he did that so that his listener could imagine the scene vividly. Depicting is much the same as putting on a play in the theater or engaging in make-believe play.

Depicting, according to Clark, is largely complementary to describing. To begin with, many ideas that are impossible to put into words are easy to depict. Tennis coaches don’t describe how to hold a racket or do a backhand return. They demonstrate it, and in living detail. Music teachers often correct their students by playing or singing what the students should have played or sung. And although it takes years for children to tell coherent stories, they have little trouble depicting stories in make-believe play. They readily enact Cookie Monster, Mother, cops and robbers–and play out what they do.

Depicting is also effective for emotion, excitement, and empathy. In telling stories and passing on gossip, people not only describe, but dramatize what the protagonists said and did, often with passion and attitude. And in apologizing, people not only say “Sorry” but add facial gestures that depict their regret.

The idea, then, is that depicting is a method of communication. Without depictions, talk would be flat, lifeless, and sometimes even impossible.

original source of the article can be found here

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Innovative radio solution protects and preserves Chinese forests

We all know how important radio communications are, and Motorola Solutions have captured a massive coup by providing the radios for protecting the Chinese forests, a feather in the cap for Motorola because Hytera, their biggest competitor at the moment, originating from china, interesting! We found this article on this website.

Motorola Solutions (NYSE:MSI) with its channel partner Beijing Dyne Rcomm Technology are helping to keep China’s Hunan forestry region safe with a MOTOTRBO digital radio system that increases safety and security for employees while helping them to work more efficiently.

China’s Hunan province is rich in flora and fauna resources that are essential to the region’s economy. However, these vast areas which make up around 60 percent of the province’s total surface area can be risky places to work for forest rangers. Forest workers depend on reliable communications to be aware of potential bushfire risks and other emergencies.

The innovative radio system integrates MOTOTRBO digital two-way radios and repeaters, a dispatch console for centralised control and monitoring of the network at all times and Motorola Solutions’ IP Site Connect digital solution to extend radio network coverage over the internet throughout the counties and cities.

“Rangers depend on access to clear and reliable communications. They need to stay constantly connected to their colleagues working in control rooms who have visibility of the entire operation and can help to keep them safe at all times,” said Michael Jiang, China President and Country Manager, Motorola Solutions.

“It’s absolutely essential for forest rangers to know where their co-workers and resources are at all times, especially in times of emergency.

“Hunan’s new radio network provides extensive coverage throughout the region, enabling rangers working across a wide geographic area to report the very first signs of fire so that resources can be deployed quickly and effectively to protect lives and natural resources,” Mr Jiang said.

Hunan’s integrated system connects the surrounding cities and counties through clear voice communications enhanced with noise cancelling features that perform reliably in the nosiest environments. This system also supports data transfer across the radio network, using GPS to pinpoint the location of nearby team members and resources in emergency situations, while text messages and automatic alerts can be sent between the province’s central control room and radio users in the field.

Motorola Solutions has now deployed more than 5,000 radios to major forestry projects across greater China at locations including the Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Liaoning, Sichuan and Guangdong provinces.

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Motorola completes £700 million acquisition of UK emergency comms provider Airwave

Motorola has completed its acquisition of Airwave, the former provider of the mobile communications network for UK emergency services.

The acquisition was completed on a debt-free basis with a net cash payment of around £700 million, with a deferred cash payment of £64 million to be made in November 2018.

Motorola expects the acquisition to immediately contribute to non-GAAP earnings and free cash flow.

Airwave is headquartered in Berkshire, England, and employs roughly 600 people. It is owned by a fund of Australia’s Macquarie Group.

In late 2015, Airwave filed a legal challenge to the Home Office after EE became the preferred supplier to provide a 4G network to the UK emergency services. Motorola is the preferred bidder for user services to the emergency services.

Airwave complained about the procurement process and the inability of the cellular network to handle the traffic. Currently these services are provided through Airwave’s own terrestrial trunked radio, or Tetra network, which will cease to be a component of police radios.

The decision to move from Tetra has been criticised by some, including members of the Tetra + Critical Communications Association.

Advocates of moving to 4G cite alleged failures of the network during the 2011 riots.

“The acquisition of Airwave enables us to significantly grow our managed and support services business and reflects our commitment to the public safety users in Great Britain,” said Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions.

“The combination of our years of experience as a trusted global leader in mission-critical communications and Airwave’s proven service delivery platform will provide Great Britain with innovative emergency services technology that enhances public safety today and into the future.”

This has been in the news for a while and it is a really smart move by Motorola, they have purchased the company that run all the communications for all the UK’s emergency services (tetra network) and manage all of the infrastructure along with that, so with the up-coming contract renewal and many of the phone companies sniffing around looking to capitalise, Motorola have shored up their position with this acquisition. We found this article here, where you can find a lot more on the story throughout the site.

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ETRI presents a blueprint of the 5G Future

We will see a huge change in the way we access the the internet in the future when 5G is here, at speeds that only big businesses and high level internet companies see at the moment, we will have this to hand on our smart phones and tablets. When 5G is hundreds of times faster than any of the UK’s broadbands, households will be looking to the mobile phone companies to supply their home broadband.

A 5G future is no longer a distant one, but an upcoming reality. High quality videos of more than 10Mbps can be served simultaneously to 100 users even in a train running at up to 500km/h. People can experience data rates that are 100 times faster than currently available technologies.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) of Korea will hold a “5G technology demonstration” on the 18th December, 2015. It will demonstrate future SNS (social network service) and several 5G core technologies such as “millimeter wave”, “Mobile Hot-spot Network”, “in-band full duplex” and so on.

5G is the next generation wireless technology that would provide even faster data rates, even lower delays, and even more devices connected than 4G. Accordingly, distinct and differentiated applications are expected in 5G.

ETRI’s “future SNS” is a kind of trial service model to apply 5G technologies that provides dynamic user-centric connection to neighboring people, things and spaces. It is characterized by instant content-sharing between users, communication with neighboring things, and Giga-bps(Gbps)-grade video applications in vehicles.

5G core technologies demonstrated by ETRI include the following:

— MHN (Mobile Hot-spot Network) is a mobile backhaul technology that provides high-speed Internet access of Gbps in vehicles at speeds of up to 500 km/h (e.g. KTX in Korea). Almost 100 passengers can watch videos of high quality simultaneously.

— ZING is a near-field communication technology that enables mass data to be transmitted with 3.5 Gbps data rate between neighboring devices within the radius of 10cm.

— Single-RF-Chain compact MIMO technology enables a single antenna to simulate the effect of multiple antenna. It can reduce antenna volume and cancel inter-antenna interference in a multi-antenna system.

— Millimeter wave (mmWave) beam switching technology provides fast switching of radio beams to mobile users, and therefore allows seamless Gbps-grade service in mobile environments.

— Mobile Edge Platform (MEP) is a mobile edge cloud server on vehicles that enables passengers to enjoy customized Gbps-grade content and connects them with neighbors, things and spaces. It provides user-centric services.

— In-band Full Duplex technology can transmit and receive signals simultaneously over the same frequency band. It can increase spectral efficiency by up to two times.

— Small cell SW technology is designed for AP(Access Point)-sized small cell base stations that can reduce communication dead zones and improve data rates per user in a hot-spot area.

“With this demonstration event, we are officially introducing our R&D results on 5G. We will continue to lead the development of 5G technologies. Also, we are trying to develop commercialization technologies needed by businesses, and to construct a 5G ecosystem.” said Dr. Hyun Kyu Chung, vice president of ETRI Communication & Internet Lab.

In January, 2016, ETRI will demonstrate Giga internet service and future SNS in a Seoul subway train installed with MHN and ZING kiosks. ETRI will also introduce hand-over technology on a millimeter wave mobile communication system and 5G radio access technology that satisfies 1 millisecond radio latency.

About ETRI

Established in 1976, ETRI is a non-profit Korean government-funded research organization that has been at the forefront of technological excellence for about 40 years. In the 1980s, ETRI developed TDX (Time Division Exchange) and 4M DRAM. In the 1990s, ETRI commercialized CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) for the first time in the world. In the 2000s, ETRI developed Terrestrial DMB, WiBro, and LTE-A, which became the foundation of mobile communications.

Recently, as a global ICT leader, ETRI has been advancing communication and convergence by developing Ship Area Network technology, Genie Talk (world class portable automatic interpretation; Korean-English/Japanese/Chinese), and automated valet parking technology. As of 2015, ETRI has about 2,000 employees where about 1,800 of them are researchers.

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Some styles of Bluetooth earpieces

Bluetooth technology has been designed for many different purposes and situations. Consequently, when people want to buy a bluetooth ear piece for a specific situation, there are some things that they will need to consider. Specifically, based on their specific situation and circumstances, they will need to review the best style of bluetooth earpiece that is available on the market today. Since there are different styles that have been made for for one or more reasons, it’s important for each individual to do their research to see which style can accommodate their needs. It is also important to note that the kind the person purchases must be comfortable so that they can wear them for an extended period of time and they fit the devices that they will be used for. Listed below are three of the bluetooth styles that’s currently offered by manufactures all over the United States and abroad.

Bluetooth ear pieces for Mobile Phones

Most people take their mobile phones wherever they go. To work, school, church, parties and all kinds of other events that they may attend. Because these phones have become commonplace in many environments, people have a need to handle them and talk to others when their hands are free. This is also a great reason for individuals who work in certain settings to make sure that they are buying the right style that will best fit their needs.

One specific style that some people may choose is the ear cradle style of headphone. In fact, this kind of bluetooth earpiece is idea for people who want to spend their time working out and performing all kinds of other extracurricular activities. People are also encouraged to buy this kind of style because they may be driving when they receive a telephone call from a family member. Or, they may be working at the job typing a memo or walking around taking care of wide hosts of other kinds of activities that are not conducive to holding a mobile phone by hand to the ear. Whatever the situation, this style of bluetooth earpiece technology is great for many different situations and purposes.

Bluetooth ear pieces and Headsets for Music Lovers

In addition to the cradle style for mobile phones, people should also review other styles as well. One specific style that is also functional in many different settings is the DJ over the head headphones. This style has been designed for the serious music lovers, especially those who can appreciate making distinctions in sounds and beats that come from specific musical instruments like the bass, violin, trumpet and other popular instruments. For those who like and prefer this kind, they will also find that this is one of the best styles for keeping out outside noises that normally interfere with a person’s overall entertainment experience. Also, because they are wireless, they are great for people who like to stay mobile during the day instead of remaining in a sedentary position.

Bluetooth Ear Pieces for IPODs

In some situations, people may want to use bluetooth technology with their IPODs. Therefore, they should consider buying an additional popular style bluetooth earpiece technology. This style is known to be very popular, specifically because it is similar to an actual earbud. An ear bud is also another excellent choice for people who want to remain both active and hassle free. Though this is a great choice for people who like to remain mobile in a wide variety of different situations, one of its main draw backs is that they tend to fall out of the individuals ear. Which means, they can also be lost since it lacks additional support to keep them stabilized inside the ear.

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The Effect of Earplugs in Preventing Hearing Loss From Recreational Noise Exposure (A Systematic Review)

This is an interesting review of a study of how effective ear plugs are in the workplace. We take for granted that people working in loud factories wear protective hearing, but many of the clubs, pubs, concerts and festivals that have as equal levels of sound. As they say below, it isn’t mandatory to wear ear plugs in such environments, which defies common sense and possibly causes more damage than we understand. Here you can find the original source of the review.

A review of the literature turned up only two high quality studies that looked at whether wearing earplugs to music venues will prevent hearing loss and tinnitus directly afterward.

Dr. Wilko Grolman and colleagues at University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands searched for published studies containing the keywords “music” and “earplugs” and screened 228 resulting papers. All but four were not eligible for inclusion in the review and only two were highly relevant and did not have a high risk of bias, in the reviewers’ estimation.

Two studies simply examined people who chose on their own to wear or not wear earplugs, while two randomized controlled trials tested what happened when participants were assigned to wear earplugs or not.

Two studies reported on hearing loss and tinnitus while one only reported hearing loss.

The two best studies were different enough that the researchers couldn’t combine their data and analyze the results, the reviewers wrote. Both included 29 concert attendees and performed audiometry before and after the concerts. In one study, participants were allowed to choose whether or not they wore earplugs, and only three chose to wear them.

“Frankly, with such a small comparator group between three subjects and the others, it would be hard to assess validity of plugs or not,” said Dr. Jennifer Derebery, president of the Los Angeles Society of Otolaryngology and lead author of the first study.

“We had trained them all in proper insertion, and encouraged but not required wearing them,” Derebery told Reuters Health by email.

In the other study, 15 participants were assigned to the earplug group.

In general, wearing earplugs did reduce hearing loss directly after the concerts, but did not eliminate it completely, as reported online March 3 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

“Ear plugs are effective in preventing hearing loss when they are used both correctly and consistently,” said Colleen G. Le Prell, the Emilie and Phil Schepps Professor of Hearing Science at the University of Texas at Dallas, who was not involved in the review.

“This systematic review highlights the very limited data on prevention of recreational music-induced hearing loss using earplugs,” Le Prell told Reuters Health by email.

“At younger ages, loud toys, firecrackers, loud video games, personal stereos or personal music players, lawnmowers or leaf blowers, sporting events or air shows, or other non-music events might be more likely noisy activities than music venue attendance,” Le Prell said. “A significant number of youth are also involved in target shooting activities, which children can get involved with through Boy Scouts or other organizations.”

For teens and young adults, repeat exposures to amplified music at clubs, concerts, festivals, or other related events may damage the inner ear and result in hearing loss, she said.

“Most concerts are both loud enough, and long enough, that they are likely to exceed the total daily exposure allowed by workplace safety regulations,” she said. “Sound exposure also commonly occurs via loud music delivered via personal listening devices, at sporting or other recreational events, and at jobs that involve lawn-mowing, use of power tools, or construction services.”

For workplace noise exposure, “we are not doing a very good job achieving correct and consistent use of hearing protection devices (HPD), including both ear plugs and ear muffs,” she said.

“In the United States, it is relatively uncommon for music venues to provide ear plugs at no charge,” Le Prell said. Even if they were provided, people may need to be educated in why using them is important and in how to use them correctly, she said.

“As a neurotologist, it really is upsetting to see these kids coming in younger and younger with a completely preventable hearing loss,” Derebery said.

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Faulty communications along U.S.-Mexico border are America’s blind spot

We all know that mission critical communications are vital 24 hours a day and as this article shows that even a tiny lapse in communications can lead to chaos. Even the U.S government can’t keep their radio communications up-to-date on one of the most watched borders in the world, as we can see from the article below.

Put yourself in the shoes of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. You are patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, driving through desolate terrain, and in the distance, you spot movement. You head toward a deep ravine and step out of your vehicle when a shot rings out and you hear the zip of a bullet speeding past your head. With training and instinct, you dive for cover and draw your weapon, reaching for your handheld radio.

And the radio doesn’t work.

There’s no one to call, because you are in one of the many areas of the southern U.S. border that has no radio coverage. Out there in the ravine is a drug cartel “rip crew,” heavily armed and firing on your position, bullets punching into your vehicle until smoke is rising from the hood. If they come closer, you are outnumbered. If they flee, your vehicle is disabled, and they will disappear into the vast emptiness along the southern border, where they will likely fire on one of your fellow agents, should they encounter them.

That is the state of communications along many of the areas on the U.S.-Mexico border. When the U.S. Border Patrol needs it the most, they cannot communicate with anyone. With rising threats and political propositions, U.S. border security has again risen to the top of the public consciousness. There are calls for more border patrol officers and stronger fencing, for aerial and ground based vehicles and other technology. But the lifeblood of the border security apparatus is communication, and in some areas, communication is not possible.

“If there is one thing in securing America’s borders that hasn’t changed since September 11, 2001, it’s the inability to resolve the communications lapses and gaps along the border,” said Ron Colburn, the former National Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. “Here we are almost 15 years into this, and we still have not addressed this problem.”

One reason 343 New York City firefighters died when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed was that their radios could not communicate with the emergency responders outside the buildings, who were warning the structures were about to come down. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission cited the need to create interoperable tools that allow first responders and law enforcement to communicate in the most unforgiving of environments.

And there are few environments less forgiving than the nearly 2000-miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Recognizing this, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a massive project to improve the communications capacity of officers along the U.S. border. It failed. In March last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that $945 million in taxpayer funding used to build radio towers and upgrade radio equipment has yielded little benefit and in some cases does not work as well as what Border Patrol agents were using before. The effort cost too much and was taking too long.

Colburn said that the state of communications today means U.S. Border Patrol cannot call for support in some areas. They cannot feed information from the field into the intelligence food chain, and they cannot receive images from manned or unmanned vehicles to know whether they are walking into an ambush or encountering a group of friendly forces.

Likewise, Border Patrol agents cannot communicate easily with other law enforcement agencies (like a local Sheriff’s office), nor can those law enforcement agencies run on-site biometric checks (e.g., fingerprints) of individuals they suspect may have recently crossed into the United States illegally.

“I see it in the eyes and hear it in the voices of the men and women of the Border Patrol,” said Colburn. “They understand the mission and they want to accomplish it, but they feel like they have been abandoned.”

Answering the Unanswered Question

Most Americans own a smartphone, which is a powerful piece of technology. Experts say it’s hard to understand how, in this age of technological innovation and advancement, the United States is not arming its frontline officers with the very basic capacity to talk to one another.

Part of the challenge is that we have not brought new solutions to this long-standing problem.

To advance the effort, the Border Commerce and Security Council (of which I am Chairman and CEO) helped bring multiple stakeholders to the table in December last year in Cochise County, Arizona, to see if an innovative application of several integrated technologies could solve these communications challenges. It was a Proof of Concept test that included the U.S. Border Patrol, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and a group of businesses with tools that can address a range of communications and intelligence challenges. What was tested is called the Field Information Support Tool (FIST).

FIST started in 2006 as basic research at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). NPS Information Sciences Research Associate James Ehlert said in 2010 that the goal was to create “an easy-to-use, inexpensive hand-held solution to achieving communications interoperability and a common physical and human terrain operating picture for both on-the-ground field collectors and tactical decision makers.”

The research question was, how can we use modern technology to allow officers in the field to talk to one another and to their superiors while also collecting and then acting on real-time intelligence?

“The intelligence aspect is that the local and federal law enforcement officers need to look at things from a risk-management perspective,” said Brian Conroy, Business Strategy and Strategic Development Manager at NOVA Corporation, which works with Kestrel Technology Group, the company that has produced the FIST system. “They need to find the high-risk areas [along the border], and if you have a tool that collects data and runs algorithms against it, you can conduct risk assessment and trend analyses. Human intelligence contributes to a holistic common operating picture.”

This is what the FIST system achieves, and it’s what was seen during the proof of concept test. In general terms, FIST uses off-the-shelf communications tools (like an Android device) to gather intelligence from officers on the front lines. With these tools, officers feed information into a larger database compiled from a variety of sources (including other officers) that informs strategic and tactical decision making. This is then passed back to the people working along the border.

The need for this kind of tool is obvious, but it has only been recently that the right technologies and software were put together in a way that makes it possible.

Moving to the Market

Over the last year, there has been a push to transition FIST into the marketplace. Research transition is tough, as DHS has found in many cases over the years. Unlike other agencies and components, such as the military branches, the homeland security and law enforcement marketplace is heavily fragmented and with limited resources. It makes it difficult to take good, workable ideas from prototype to production. As big of a challenge as creating an innovative piece of technology is finding a way to produce it in line with operational and funding realities. A local Sheriff’s office, for example, does not have an endless amount of funding and time to bring in expensive technologies and then train deputies to use them. For that matter, neither does the U.S. Border Patrol.

What’s needed is a simpler, cheaper solution, and based on the proof of concept testing, FIST appears to be that solution.

“It’s ideal for smaller law enforcement agencies because it can unify operations and reporting and scale capability, creating a force multiplier,” said Ivan Cardenas, technical director of the Kestrel Technology Group, which is helping to bring FIST to market. “It is a sophisticated system, but it is easier to use than the complexity suggests.”

There are a few moving parts here. There are applications that allow off-the-shelf technologies to record and report intelligence, such as the location of a breach in the border fence or evidence of people moving through the rugged terrain. There are existing law enforcement and Border Patrol network capabilities (or cloud-based tools) that store that information. The secret sauce, however, is the complex digital architecture that allows real-time control and fusion of multiple information sources in a way that supports the mission. This is the one thing that has been missing from the border communications and intelligence efforts, and it’s why DHS has struggled to address the challenges to this point. The innovation is in the complexity, and FIST makes it simple.

Of course, that complex innovation is for naught if the agents in the field cannot transmit and receive intelligence. Enter SiRRAN Communications, another stakeholder at the proof of concept test in Arizona.

“We often forget that without network access, we’re blind,” said SiRRAN’s Director of Sales Mark Briggs. “Our technology brings that cell network to anywhere that it is needed.”

Briggs describes this technology as a portable, battery powered cell network—a network in a box. It creates a local, closed network that any agent within range can access to communicate and record intelligence. The unit provides local communication in areas where there is no coverage, and if there is no way to access the communications grid, it captures intelligence and transmits it to the larger repository as soon as it finds a signal.

The lesson here is not just that FIST is a workable system to satisfy the mission needs of America’s border security and law enforcement professionals. It’s also that the answer to the communications challenges along the border will not come in the form of $1 billion worth of cell towers built under DHS management. If it were, we would have solved this problem by now. The fact that we have not reveals that the ultimate solution is necessarily complex and multifaceted while also being easy to use and in-line with realistic operating budgets.

Perhaps the most important lesson, however, is that there are real tools that our Border Patrol and law enforcement officers could be using. Right now there are thousands of men and women on the border, and until we give them the tools they need to do their job, it will make border security and the safety of our frontline heroes difficult to sustain.

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Who Made the 1st 2 Way Radio: 1907- the 2000s: The Life of the Two Way Way Radio

The first two way radio made its way into the Western market in 1923. Despite its late appearance, the device was primarily conceptualized in 1907 as part of a military communication program. There has been some controversy regarding who first made the two way radio. However, most people seem to attribute this invention to Frederick William Downie, Senior Constable of the Victorian Police in Australia. In this article, we take a look at the path that this radio has traversed through the ages- from 1907 to the 21st century.

Origin of the 2 Way Radio

In the 1900s of Australia, the 2 way radio was installed in police cars and used as means of communication for the purposes of surveillance, checking locations and keeping team mates posted on updates. This was a breakthrough invention for the police as it caused an instant increase in the overall efficiency of working. From instant reports to integrated surveillance systems, the two way radio was pivotal in improving the effectiveness of the Australian police force. Suddenly, people discovered the ease with which the law of the land could be enforced and security could be maintained. This was the one method by means whereof many lives were saved and the state became one of the safest places in the world. Needless to say, the overwhelming response that the two way radio received propelled it to fame and it then became one of the most popular methods of law enforcement in the world.

The popularity of the 2 way radio rose steadily over the years. From police cars, the device’s many uses branched out and it became a part of navy ships and even military operations. Since many mariners and platoon commanders faced problems of communication, the convenience of the two-way radio was highly appealing to all. Transmissions of messages became convenient and there was a certain smoothness that the radio communication afforded to the operations.

The Creation of the Modern Day 2- Way Radio

The global status that the 2 way radio enjoyed is also one of the biggest reasons for its adaptation into various communicative derivatives including the modern day walkie talkie and even the modern cellular phone. Before it achieved this global, improved status; however; the two way radio was one of the most rudimentary objects that could be used in police surveillance. The first radio was so heavy and cumbersome that it used to take up the entire backseat of the police car. While it might have had many benefits, the sheer size and volume of the object made it difficult to catch and apprehend criminals at the earliest. With technological improvements and the right incentive, the two way radio has improved leaps and bounds. What once used to occupy almost half the car space can now be fitted into a pocket with ease, while fulfilling the same purpose as its predecessor.

Uses and Benefits of the Modern Radio

From the 1900s to the 21st century, the two way radio has made immense progress. What earlier was used exclusively by the police had now become an instrument in the civilian space. From law enforcers to children, almost everyone could purchase walkie talkies and use it. This was the first time that the world saw the walkie talkie as an instrument of recreation. These days, walkie talkies are used as much by kids for their games as they are used by professionals in emergency situations. From medical EMTs to firefighters, walkie talkies have become a regular in the city’s working scenario.

One of the biggest uses of walkie talkies these days are in firefighting operations. Coordinating external help and amassing the required support for the rescue operation are common functions that are carried out over the two way radio system that was once pioneered by Downie. Over and above its use in emergency situation, the two way radio is also used for the basic purposes of communication and organization in construction sites, among municipal workers and in many facets of working companies.

Concluding Thoughts

When one considers the many benefits that the 2 way radio has brought to the world population, one cannot help but pay homage to the genius of Frederick Downie. While the remarkable transformation through the ages is something that we must all bear in mind, it is undeniable that the blueprint was an instance of pure creative and imaginative genius. There are multiple uses of the walkie talkie in the modern world today. From communication in emergency situations to its importance for recreation, the modern two way radio is arguably one of the most important facets of communicative technology. All in all, the genesis and development of the two way radio is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding creations of the previous century.

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Different Types Of Two Way Radio Antennas

An antenna is essentially the most crucial element of a two way radio and other transmitting application such as cell phones, television, radar, or satellite communication. It is responsible for performing the most important task – converting electric power to transmittable radio waves and the other way round.

How an Antenna Works

To transmit a signal, the transmitter provides an electric charge that oscillates at a specific radio frequency to the terminals of the antenna. Consequently, the antenna sends out corresponding electromagnetic waves. During reception, the antenna takes some of the power of the transmitted electromagnetic waves to generate an extremely small voltage for the terminals, which is then redirected to a receiver that amplifies the signals. This is basically how an antenna works.

Extensive Applications

The applications supported by an antenna go beyond communication. The same concept powers today’s high tech wireless applications that run computer networks; Bluetooth enabled systems, garage door openers, and baby monitors. It’s important to know that a perfectly functioning antenna is not only critical to the functioning of your two way radio; it also helps maintain the life or longevity of your equipment.

The Bigger, The Better

The first and most important rule of thumb about an antenna to keep in mind is that the taller it is, the higher your db gain. A high volume of db gain is critical to achieving a stronger reach and better performance of your two way radio equipment. This basically translates to, “the bigger, the better.” However, in order to achieve results in practical situations, the antenna can have only so much height. In essence you have to sacrifice convenience for performance or vice versa. You can’t walk around or even install a gigantic antenna for all your needs, say for example your car radio.

Positioning of Antenna

The second rule of thumb pertains to the positioning of your antenna. The most optimal position for then antenna would be the centre of your metal car roof. In situations where this is not possible, you would need a “no ground plane” antenna. A no ground plane is basically just a metal surface that goes around the base of your antenna so that you have something for the radiating signal to react with. The next aspect you need to consider for your antenna is the frequencies at which you would be transmitting on. A VHF radio transmits and receives in a range from 136 to 174 MHz.

Chubby and Long Antennas

There are different kinds of two radio antennas available depending on how you want to use it. The large stock antenna is powerful and can be replaced or upgraded as you require. The shorter or stubby antenna provides a great deal of convenience. You can add a longer whip antenna to enhance your range. When it comes to two way radios, you stand to gain a great deal of advantages by having a business radio that comes with a removable antenna. The one problem is that removable antennas may not necessarily be compatible with all kinds of radios.

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Motorola 2 Way Radio Earpiece Connector Guide

Since the 1920’s Motorola has been leading the advancement of radio technology in more ways than one. From the battery eliminator created in 1928 to the world’s first handheld public safety LTE device created in 2012, Motorola truly has been an innovator in the radio world.

There was one of Motorola’s products that stood out and started paving the way for the Motorola brand name. That was their two-way radio systems. In 1978 Motorola introduced the RDX1000. This device was a portable data terminal. With a built-in keyboard and advanced transmitters, The RDX1000 made it possible for a person to share information, like inventory control, wirelessly with a central computer system. It is because of advancements and products like the RDX1000 that Motorola was awarded the National Medal of Technology twice.

Yet, even with being the one of the leading technological companies they still had their issues. For example, the connectors used for their devices, usually, were confusing and weren’t universal like most of our tech is today. Yes, with being in the lead of the industry with innovative products they needed new forms of connectors and pieces that couldn’t exactly be matched by other companies. To be more specific, the connectors to the Motorola earpieces came with their own specific confusions.

Over the course of the years, Motorola devices have had over 50 different types of earpiece connectors. Motorola earpieces are specific to their devices so the pieces chosen had to be precisely specific to the device it was being matched with. You can imagine, with over 50 different types of connectors, finding the correct corresponding puzzle piece that would fit was imperative. The confusion wasn’t just limited to a small portion of the Motorola accessories. Motorola earpieces were different by model of the same device as well. With the earpieces you can’t exactly go by looks either. Most of the earpieces look very similar with very subtle difference.

Even though some had connectors with very similar differences. Differences ranging from appearance and size of the connector to the type of material used in the pin of the connector itself. This confusion also spans over several different years of manufacturing as well. With connectors from earlier years being a small series of pins in lateral form that would only connect to the proper outlet with the proper series of pins. Or like the single pin connector that would only be in a specific size per model, you wouldn’t exactly be able to take a Kenwood connector and confuse it with a Motorola 2-pin connector because on these connectors the pins are of a different size to the Kenwood. Some specific connectors can be understood considering the advancing of the technology as well as the device it connects to has some significance.

The importance of the device does have some control over the type of connector used as well. Because you don’t want to issue and offer a radio and have to worry about it getting lost or stolen and being used for an inappropriate purpose. But, you would expect a device in the same model family to be able to connect or at least the connectors to be somewhat interchangeable. This isn’t the case with Motorola radios. For example, The DP2400 two way radio takes a Clip on block style of connector. While the DP3400 responder radio has to have a Screw in Block  connector in order for the product to be used properly. Even though the station and responder radio are two different products, they share similarities and commonalities. Also you would expect them to share the same connector.

Unfortunately this is the case with many of the Motorola earpieces.

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Do You Know What The Term Two Way Radio Mean?

Basically, the name two-way radio means that the radio in question can both transmit and receive signals. The two-way part of the name refers to the sending and receiving of said messages.

Some radios, such as the AM or FM radio you might listen to in your car, can only receive incoming signals, whilst other radios can only transmit signals. A two-way radio, however, can both intercept incoming messages and relay outgoing messages, because of this; two-way radios are a type of transceiver.

At its most basic, a two-way radio is a device that receives radio waves through the air and transmits a return signal.

How it does this is actually rather ingenious. Let’s say a user receives a message on her radio. The antenna on the top of the radio houses a group of electrons, these electrons will respond to messages received on specific channels (different groups of electrons respond to different channels). The electrons will then translate the radio waves into electrical impulses, which are then fed to a small processor. The processor, in turn, converts the electrical impulses into a signal, which the radio’s speakers can then play aloud.

The process is reversed if our hypothetical user is replying to her message, in this instance, the vibrations that constitute her voice will rattle a small membrane inside the microphone. These vibrations are fed into the processor, which converts them into an electrical signal. The electrical signal is pushed out to the electrons in the antenna and the signal is broadcast to our other user.

So you see, the process is clearly working on a two-way basis, hence the name. Two radios, when set to the same channel, should never have any problem connecting with one another (even if they are manufactured by different brands). The communication is pretty much instant, which is a big reason why radios play such an integral part in many areas of our lives, such as travel, security, commerce, public safety and trade.

It is important to note, however, that a radio set to receive VHF (Very High Frequency) signals will be unable to communicate with a radio set to UHF (Ultra High Frequency) mode. There is virtually nothing at all that can be done about this.

Of course, the other name used for handheld transceivers in walkie-talkie, but we reckon that one’s pretty self-explanatory…

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Some Thoughts On… The Sony TV & HiFi Over-Ear Wireless Headphones

I don’t care who knows it; I still think wireless headphones are cool. Like bowties, or fezzes in that respect. Oh sure, there are drawbacks, sacrifices that must be made, but its still a total novelty to take a conference call whilst standing up and wandering around.

I don’t know about you, but I think better on my feet. That’s why I’m crap at job interviews, because I appear far more nervous than I actually am, due to all the squirming I do. In reality, if I could just stand up and pace around the room at will, well, you’d probably be reading this article as-written by someone with far greater knowledge and experience.

And get this, the Sony Over-Ear headphones have a 100m listening range. That means that it should be entirely possible for you to get up and make yourself a cup of tea whilst still listening to…Whatever it was you were listening to that was so riveting that it made you crave caffeine in the first place. Feasibly, you could even venture outside to yell at the local kids, or pick up the paper.

Also, with these headphones, you’ll get 28 hours out of a AAA battery, now you really can’t say fairer than that, can you? Especially if you charge it up when you’re not using it.

They are big though. Like, really big. Instead of being built for regular, Human-size heads, they appear to have been sculpted with Red Dwarf’s resident mechanoid Kryten in mind (two BBC Sci-Fi references in one article? Bonza!), the sheer size is ridiculous. They are adjustable, of course, but you might still have every cause to wish these headphones were smaller.

Another negative is the sound quality. I don’t want to say that it is bad (of course, there’s a ‘but’ coming…), but there is a low hiss that seems to permeate everything that you hear, as well as a loud cut-off noise if the signal is broken in any way. From a design perspective, this second feature makes a lot of sense, you don’t want to be outside, waffling away to your mate and not notice that the signal has dropped out (as happens so often with mobiles), but still, there simply has to be a better way, doesn’t there? The noise is loud, intrusive and actually rather scary at times.

However, apart from those minor, nagging problems, these headphones are actually quite nice. They sound OK, the wireless function works beautifully and the price is alright as well. Nice one, Sony.

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Radio spectrum allocated for global flight tracking

This very simple, very easily executable solution to a problem that is growing. The Frequencies are already allocated to the airline industry and a simple piece of equipment (non expensive) can be installed. You can find the full article here.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has allocated radio spectrum for global flight tracking for passenger aircraft using satellite-based systems.

The move follows developments spurred by the so far unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March last year, which prompted the aviation community to look into possibilities of constant monitoring of passenger planes in flight.

The frequency band of 1087.7-1092.3MHz has been allocated, which is already being used for data transmissions between planes and terrestrial stations that are within the line of sight.

Extending the system to cover also communications between planes and satellites and satellites and terrestrial stations will enable creating a complex system capable of tracking passenger planes throughout the flight even over oceans and remote areas.

The ITU agreed on the allocation at its 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference following a call by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Performance criteria for satellite reception of the signals will be established by ICAO.

“In reaching this agreement at WRC-15, ITU has responded in record time to the expectations of the global community on the major issue concerning global flight tracking,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “ITU will continue to make every effort to improve flight tracking for civil aviation.”

ITU has been working on standards to facilitate the transmission of flight data in real time since early after the MH370 disaster.

Already in April 2014, less than a month after the aircraft’s disappearance, Malaysian Minister for Communications and Multimedia called upon ITU to address the issue.

“The allocation of frequencies for reception of ADS-B signals from aircraft by space stations will enable real-time tracking of aircraft anywhere in the world,” said François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau. “We will continue to work with ICAO and other international organizations to enhance safety in the skies.”

In October 2014, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, instructed WRC-15 to consider global flight tracking in its agenda.

 

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Workplace adjustments for employees with a hearing impairment

For employees with a hearing impairment, the presence of sound in the workplace can be a daily challenge and a source of frustration. Robin Christopherson looks at how employers can manage potential problems.

Wherever you work, and whatever your role, there is a strong chance that you are routinely bombarded by noise from a variety of different sources. Telephones ringing, printers whirring, music playing on the shop floor or the constant hum of colleagues talking in a open-plan office, the world of work is full of sound.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, around 17,000 employees in the UK experience deafness, ringing in the ears or other ear conditions caused by excessive noise at work.

Action on Hearing Loss estimates that at least 800,000 people in the UK are severely or profoundly deaf, but this is a small proportion of the 10 million people with some form of hearing loss, of which it estimates that 3.7 million are of working age. There are no exact figures on the numbers of people who use British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate, but the estimate is around 50,000.

An employee’s hearing can be impaired in many ways; there is a whole spectrum of

hearing ability and there are lots of different causes of hearing loss, as well as a variety of possible implications in the workplace.

Types of hearing impairment include:

  • age-related;
  • temporary or permanent;
  • progressive; and
  • environmental factors.

Impacts of a hearing impairment

As hearing is not something we can “see”, it can be difficult to determine whether or not a colleague’s hearing is impaired. This can make it difficult for line managers to know who to help, and when.

In meetings, presentations, networking events or interviews, a hearing impairment could have an impact on an employee’s ability to do their job, if they are not properly supported or if the working environment is not inclusive of their needs.

There can also often be an emotional response to hearing loss, which impacts on the social and wellbeing of the employee. If you are unable to hear what colleagues are saying clearly, you might miss out on vital information needed for your role, or you might miss the latest bit of office banter, which makes you feel isolated and excluded, having a negative impact on morale.

Reasonable adjustments

Employees with a hearing impairment are protected under the Equality Act 2010 and employers are required to remove the barriers that deaf and other disabled people experience in the workplace. There are a number of different ways to ensure that an organisation is accommodating the needs of deaf or hearing-impaired employees.

Benefits of technology

We are all using technology in the workplace, without really thinking about it, as part of our day-to-day communications. How much of the information you share with colleagues or clients is via the phone, email, your intranet, website, a PowerPoint presentation or a short video? The answer is, of course, nearly all of it.

Technology can work as an enabler as well as a disabler. A message from your organisation’s CEO via video on your corporate intranet can be a really powerful way to communicate with your workforce, but if that video does not have subtitles or captions, you are excluding a proportion of your staff, not limited to those with a hearing impairment but also people whose first language is not English.

A variety of technologies can be used in the workplace to support employees with a hearing impairment. There are some specialist programs available that are specifically designed to support people with hearing loss, but many of the mainstream programs and equipment that your organisation already uses could also be adapted at little to no cost. They include:

  • text messaging, and email;
  • amplified sound alerts built into PCs;
  • a flashing screen on a mobile device when a sound alert is triggered;
  • bluetooth to connect to hearing aids;
  • captions for videos;
  • BSL on-demand services;
  • video calling for signing or lip-reading;
  • palentypists and stenographers; and
  • voice recognition speech-to-text software.

Sometimes the most effective adjustments are made by simply utilising existing resources in a different way. For example, if important company announcements are often given over a tannoy or PA system, which would be difficult or impossible for someone with a hearing impairment to hear, you could also issue the same message via email or text message.

There are also times when specialist adjustments, such as using a palentypist or BSL interpreter, need to be arranged. It is important that the individual employee gets the adjustment that they require, when they require it – because no two people with a hearing impairment are the same.

This article highlights the many advancements that have been made in the field of hearing protection at work, and ten years after the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force we should have completely eradicated high levels of noise or the need to control it into the workplace, the original of this article can be found here.

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The 19th Century plug that’s still being used

The BBC are on of the most trusted news sources on the planet,  so when stories fly around about the next iphone dropping it’s 3.5mm jack plug and moving to using their own lightning port or bluetooth. We think this is one of the usual stories that flies around before they release any new apple product, but when the BBC picks it up we take note! and this brilliant article shows that the common 3.5mm jack plug has a more of a history than we knew.

After rumours that Apple was going to get rid of the headphone jack in its imminent iPhone 7, more than 200,000 people have signed a petition asking them to reconsider. This humble plug is a rare example of technology that has stood the test of time, writes Chris Stokel-Walker.

For what remains an unconfirmed rumour, a lot of people are upset about the new iPhone. It’s alleged that Apple will be scrapping the 3.5mm socket, instead leaving headphones to be plugged into the “Lightning” port – the company’s own design of socket.

Cynics have pointed out that while this might enable iPhones to be slightly thinner, it will render many headphones useless and force manufacturers to pay Apple a fee to use their Lightning plugs on products.

The petition says Apple’s purported move would “singlehandedly create mountains of electronic waste”.

Two stereo audio jacksImage copyrightiStock

It will also be a blow for a piece of technology that has been remarkably resilient. The 3.5mm headphone jack is essentially a 19th Century bit of kit – it is a miniaturised version of the classic quarter-inch jack (6.35mm), which is said to go back as far as 1878.

Both sizes of plug have a nubbin of metal that nips in before flaring out just before the tip. “It needed to be something that could be inserted and removed very easily, but still make a secure connection,” says Charlie Slee, a member of the Audio Engineering Society.

Initially the quarter-inch jack was used by operators in old-fashioned telephone switchboards, plugging and unplugging connections. “The standard has always been quarter-inch jacks,” says Dr Simon Hall, head of music technology at Birmingham City University.

1st November 1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard oft the House of Commons, London.Image copyrightGetty Images

Image caption1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard of the House of Commons, London

“Professional headphones in studios, guitar leads – they all run off quarter-inch jacks.”

Of course, as miniaturisation changed audio equipment, so the plug had to have a smaller alternative.

The 3.5mm version quickly became popular, spread by the use of personal headsets on transistor radios in the middle of the 20th Century.

The jack is known as a tip, ring, sleeve – or TRS – connection. The “tip” transfers audio into the left-hand earplug of a stereo headphone set, and the “ring” the right. The “sleeve” is the ground or “shield”. This set-up is stereo – the original mono plugs had only tip and sleeve. Certain modern plugs have a second ring to allow control of a headset microphone or volume.

Annotated photograph showing sleeve, ring and tip of TRS jackImage copyrightiStock/BBC

“Technically speaking, it’s not a bad design,” Slee says of the utilitarian, adaptable design. “If the parts are made cheaply they can break and lose contact, but ultimately it does the job it was designed to do.”

And yet, if the rumours – which Apple is not commenting on – are true, it bodes ill for the 3.5mm jack.

Apple has a track record of being early to abolish things which then start to disappear from rival products too. It killed the 3.5 inch floppy disk early. It also was among the first to remove optical drives.

But those signing the petition on the Sum of Us site and social media users have suggested that Apple’s motive is greed.

Apple lightning cableImage copyrightAlamy

The potential grief in a switch to Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector is obvious.

“It feels painful because you’ve got hundreds of millions of devices out there that are using the old standard,” says Horace Dediu, a technology analyst with in-depth knowledge of Apple.

If you’re using £1,000 headphones with your iPhone at the moment, you’re going to be slightly cross.

And Charlie Slee thinks consumers are also concerned about ceding control to Apple. “People are mainly upset because they like to think they’re in control of their technology,” he says.

But this sense of the consumer in control is misplaced, Slee says. “Actually, the contrary is true: The big technology companies have always been in control of how you listen to music and watch videos.”

The headphones in history

Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) American scientist, inventor and industrialist, after spending 5 continuous days and nights perfecting the phonograph, listening through a primitive headphone.Image copyrightGetty Images

Image captionScientist Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) listens to his phonograph through a primitive headphone

The “primitive headphones” (as above) used for listening to early phonographs were simple acoustic tubes.

Headphones are really just ordinary telephone receivers adapted to fit a headset, says John Liffen, Curator of Communications at the Science Museum. The headset usually had just one receiver for a single ear.

The first headsets with a receiver for each ear were just called “telephones”. The name was supplanted by “headphones” by the beginning of the 1920s when they were being widely used to listen to broadcasting via crystal sets.

For many years headphone receivers were the simple “Bell” type with permanent magnet, coil and diaphragm. Today’s high-end ‘phones are considerably more sophisticated, similar to miniature loudspeakers.

Source: John Liffen, The Science Museum


“I think it’s a storm in a teacup,” adds Simon Hall. His reasoning? Having a standardised headphone jack on mobile phones and MP3 players is only a relatively recent luxury.

“If you look at the previous generation of phones, things like Nokia phones, you had to have an adapter,” he reasons. “If you want to connect headphones to professional equipment, you also need a professional adapter.”

As recently as 2010, Samsung phones came equipped with a proprietary headphone port not dissimilar to Apple’s rumoured replacement for the 3.5mm socket, the “Lightning” port.

This isn’t the first time Apple has aroused ire. Way back in 2007, with the first iPhone, it received complaints that the headphone jack was sunk into the casing.

One technology wag called it “a great business plan – break an important device function, and sell the solution for fun and profit.” The problem was fixed when Apple released its second iPhone model in 2008.

But Apple is known for evolving technology: “They got rid of DVDs, they got rid of the floppy disk drive; they got rid of parallel ports, they’re eventually getting rid of USB. This is how they move,” says Dediu, the Apple-watcher. He reckons the switch to Apple’s proprietary connection augurs a planned move to headphones that are akin to the Apple Watch.

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968Image copyrightGetty Images

Image captionMick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968

Owners of “old” headphones may find themselves having to buy adapters.

Dediu forecasts a rapid change. “What Apple does is catalyse transitions,” he says. “It would have happened anyway, but if it wasn’t for Apple it’d have taken 10-15 years, but now it’ll happen in 5-7 years.”

That the time may have come for the 3.5mm jack to be replaced shouldn’t come as such a shock, believes Dediu. “Studying Moore’s Law and the history of technology, it’s clear we’re not going to stick around with something analogue for long,” he says. “It’s almost puzzling that it’s taken so long.”

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Too Much Monkey Business? US Lawsuit Attempts to Grant a Monkey the Rights to his Selfie (No, Really)

A group of idiots in America (where else??) are arguing that a monkey whose image was used in a wildlife book WITHOUT HIS PERMISSION should be receiving damages for copyright infringement.

Now, as we all know, the only thing more dangerous than an idiot with too much free time is a cluster of idiots with too much free time. In this way, the truly brainless can form a conglomeration of sorts, meaning that they can then work in shifts, creating a sort of stupidity barrage, which can be rather tough to avoid. High profile examples of this phenomenon include creationism, the people who called Kim Davis a civil rights icon and, a little closer to home, UKIP voters.

…You just don’t expect it from PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals), an organisation that has been around for 35 years.

OK, here’s the skinny; four years ago, British wildlife photographer and animal rights activist David Slater was visiting a nature reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. He left his camera unattended, so a cheeky monkey named Naruto picked it up and snapped a couple of selfies. One of the pics was used in a wildlife book (for which Slater was paid) and now he’s being sued…For ripping off a monkey.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed (with a straight face, amazingly) by the U.S District Court in San Francisco, the pictures came from “a series of purposeful and voluntary actions by Naruto, unaided by Slater,” as a result, says the lawsuit, “Naruto has the right to own and benefit from the copyright … in the same manner and to the same extent as any other author,”

…Except for the fact that he ISN’T an author. He’s a f*cking monkey.

This whole thing brings to mind that old joke, lets see if I can remember how it goes: when is an author not an author? Oh yeah…WHEN HE’S A F*CKING MONKEY!

And once more, just to highlight the stupidity of the whole debacle…THE AUTHOR OF THE PHOTOS IS A F*CKING MONKEY, WHO TOOK A BREAK FROM FLINGING FECES ALL OVER THE PLACE TO PLAY AROUND WITH A CAMERA, TOOK A PRETTY DECENT PHOTO AND THEN F*CKED OFF BACK TO THE RAINFOREST TO GO ABOUT HIS MONKEY BUSINESS.

…It might be different if the monkey had actually PAID for the camera, or made the purposeful and voluntary action of ordering his own camera from eBay, or even if he’d gone online and hired Slater to photograph him. Then he might actually have a case (especially if Naruto had contributed to Slater’s travel expenses). But no, none of that happened. Why? Because he’s a f*cking monkey, that’s why.

To be fair, how was Slater supposed to have obtained permission?

PETA is demanding that the monkey be paid (in bananas, presumably) damages for the unauthorized use of his photos…Which is stupid like there isn’t a word for.

Apparently, US copyright law says nothing about monkeys asserting copyright over their works (which could pose a problem if they ever do manage to type out the complete works of Shakespeare) and, as a result, PETA feels that this is sufficient grounds to take a struggling photographer to court on behalf of a monkey who, quite frankly, doesn’t give a damn.

Damn those shortsighted copyright laws. Why didn’t the authors consider that, just 40 years after they were written, monkeys would benefit from their not being specifically named anywhere in the document? So now we live in this dystopian future where only those as super-smart as I are left alive to bitterly cry “DAMN YOU, YOU MANIACS!!!, DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!” (Thank you, Jay).

The only thing about the lawsuit which isn’t stupid is that the money (presumably after PETA recouped a lot of expenses) would go to the maintenance of Naruto’s natural habitat, which is doubtless a good thing.

Naruto is a rare crested macaque, a species that is listed as critically endangered. Their numbers have decreased by something like 90% in the last 25 years, largely due to extensive habitat loss.

…Except that, hang on, aren’t donations to PETA supposed to be going to that kind of thing, as opposed to dumbass lawsuits aimed at wildlife photographers who are just trying to capture the beauty of nature for us all to enjoy? I’m confused.

Oh wait, no I’m not. In fact, I could be in a lot of trouble, because my family’s cat once climbed up onto my desk and typed out a Facebook status, which I then posted. Ah jeez, I hope he doesn’t read this article, because that’s the last thing I need (he’s still mad at me about the whole castration thing).

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