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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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Did Hitler Escape Death And Escape To Argentina Under Berlin

We all know how Adolf Hitler died, don’t we? It was April 30th, 1945. The Nazi cause had been well and truly lost and both the allied forces and the Red Army were invading Germany. Cowering in his bunker, the German dictator put a pistol to his head and fired. His new bride, Eva Braun, took a cyanide tablet and ended her own life shortly thereafter. Their bodies were then placed in a bomb crater, doused with petroleum and burned.

The official story effectively ends there. By the time Russian troops arrived at the scene, all that remained of one of history’s greatest mass-murderers was a charred lower jaw and dental bridge, which matched Hitler’s dental records and so proved that he had indeed died, with Braun, in the bunker.

However, declassified FBI documents reveal that the organisation was actively investigating a number of Hitler sightings during the post-war period. In fact, it appears that quite a few of the powers that be were treating Hitler’s apparent demise with understandably high levels of suspicion. These ideas gain a level of credence from the fact that the US Army was so convinced of Hitler’s survival that they actually mounted at least one covert operation to search for him.

Conspiracy theories abound that he may have faked his own death and escaped to South America, as a number of other high-ranking Nazi party members also managed to do.

Such theories are nothing new. Hitler’s post-war life has been postulated as taking place in locations as exotic and far afield as Brazil, Argentina and even the South Pole. In one instance, a clearly posed-for photo of a man purported to be Hitler made the news, although the facts that a) the man’s face cannot be properly seen, b) he is posing for a photograph in a relaxed and comfortable manner, something a wanted man would be extremely unlikely to do and c) he has a black girlfriend on his arm would suggest that this claim is utter nonsense.

Up until now, any theories of Hitler’s continued survival have had to rely upon elaborate, (often downright fanciful) descriptions of Hitler’s passage from Germany to wherever the authors assert that he ultimately ended up. Historians have exhaustively scoured travel manifests for clues (as if the most wanted man in the world would actually be listed as a passenger under his own name) and questioned scores of people who apparently knew, sighted or spoke to, an elderly Adolf Hitler.

In any instance, Hitler certainly had the means, as well as the motive, to fake his own death and flee Europe. Now, new evidence suggests that, whether he actually managed it or not, escape was almost certainly an option for him.

A hidden network of secret tunnels, located under the streets of Berlin, could hypothetically have enabled Hitler to escape. According to a new documentary series commissioned by the History channel, a false wall, located in a Berlin subway station, could easily have provided an escape route for the dictator.

The team assembled for this task is of a high pedigree, among their number are ex-CIA operative Bob Baer, upon whom George Clooney’s character in the film Syriana is based. He is perhaps best known as one of the men who helped track down Saddam Hussein. Joining Baer is Tim Kennedy, a US special forces operative who was tasked with tracking Osama Bin Laden after 9/11 and Sascha Keil, a German historian representing the Berlin Underworlds association. The team treated Hitler’s proposed escape as a cold case in the modern sense and began a lengthy and thorough investigation into the possibility and plausibility of Hitler’s flight from Germany.

According to the team’s research, a great many Nazis fled Germany from Tempelhof Airport on the 21st April, just one day after Hitler’s final public appearance. Among this exodus were eight planes apparently loaded with Hitler’s personal possessions. Calculating an underground route from Hitler’s last known location to Tempelhof, the team reasoned that he could have made the journey almost entirely underground, except for the last 200 yards or so. The discovery of the false wall/new tunnel, confirmed by sonar analysis, would have connected the subway station (then known as U6) with the airport, allowing Hitler and his entourage to slip away unnoticed as the Soviets marched on the capital and vicious fighting broke out in the streets.

According to The Daily Express, Keil knocked on the wall and the team scanned it after it made a hollow sound. Thus, a plausible escape route for one of the most evil men in history had been discovered. Though initially sceptical, Baer came to admit that it was entirely possible that Hitler survived the war and ended up living out the rest of his days in South America.

As the investigation continued, the team found themselves picking through the ruins of a jungle compound in northern Argentina. The location was full of Nazi artefacts, very possibly the same ones that were secreted out of Berlin in 1945.

The Hunting Hitler team are by no means the first to posit that the fascist dictator spent his final years hiding out in Argentina. Initial investigations and press releases of the 1940’s often allowed for the possibility of Hitler’s continued survival and nobody in either the Soviet, or the allied camps appears to have been 100% convinced of The Fuhrer’s death.

In June of 1945, The Chicago Times reported that Hitler and his wife had absconded to Argentina. This was followed by a number of books, all offering variations on the same story.

The 2014 book Grey Wolf: The Escape of Adolf Hitler by Simon Dunstan and Gerrard Williams contests that Hitler lived in a small village, not far from the foothills of the Andes and died in the early 1960s. The book proved controversial, and was publicly attacked by many historians, but Argentine journalist and historian Abel Basti, who wrote the bestselling book Hitlers Exile (and accused the aforementioned authors of plagiarism) has also claimed proof of Hitler’s arrival to the country. According to Basti’s book, Hitler underwent plastic surgery and then became an art dealer (remember, he was a painter and an art lover).

Basti’s intensive and meticulous research even produced alleged photos of Hitler, Braun and a daughter named Urich living in exile in the country. He also spoke with interviewees, one of whom remembers his family maintaining a close friendship with the exiled Nazi leader. According to Basti, who was interviewed by beforeitsnews.com, the Russian records present “abundant documentation that shows that Hitler had escaped”, all of which paints a chilling portrait of the exiled Nazi leader living out his remaining days in relative peace and never facing justice for his innumerable crimes against humanity.

For now though, the most disturbing piece of evidence for this theory is simply this, why would a man of Hitler’s ambition, drive and rampant egomania spend years building escape tunnels throughout Berlin and then refuse to use them when the time came to do so?

Of course, even if he did escape, Adolf Hitler would have died long ago. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, amongst a plethora of other ailments, he was 56 years old in 1945 and not in good health – and that was 70 years ago. So, any way you slice it, Hitler is definitely dead, which is no bad thing.

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World’s first truly wireless headphones unveiled

The world’s first “true wireless” in-ear headphones have been unveiled at the IFA technology show in Berlin, by Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer Onkyo.

Most in-ear headphones that are advertised as “wireless” actually have a cable connecting the two earpieces. They are known as wireless because they do not require a cable to connect to a media player or a smartphone.

The W800BT headphones, developed in partnership with audio group Gibson Innovations, consist of two earbuds that work independently from each other and deliver a balanced sound across a frequency range of 20Hz-20kHz. They connect to each other and to a smartphone wirelessly, using Bluetooth.

Onkyo claims that the headphones offer a clear and accurate audio experience with passive noise isolation. The right earpiece also includes a microphone to enable hands-free calls and can be used with any Bluetooth-enabled device.

World’s first truly wireless headphones unveiled – Telegraph

They come with a charging case for storing the headphones with its own internal battery, providing up to 15 hours of talk time and 12 hours of music reproduction.

“The W800BT allows you to immerse yourself in audio in a free and natural way,” said Sebastiaan Gruijters, Onkyo Business Leaders at Gibson Innovations. “We’re proud to showcase this genuine breakthrough innovation here at the IFA in Berlin.”

The W800BT in-ear headphones are priced at €299.99 (about £220) and will be available in Europe from November 2015.

Onkyo also unveiled a pair of high-resolution on-ear headphones at IFA, in partnership with Gibson, as well as a new range of portable high-resolution audio speakers.

Gibson has been an investor in Onkyo since January 2012, when it acquired a majority share of Onkyo USA.

“We strive to achieve an optimum balance between the ideal acoustic design and a deep understanding of how we, as humans, interact with technology,” said Matthew Dore, sound and acoustics engineering lead for Onkyo products at Gibson Innovations.

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Alonso unfazed by rule changes

Fernando Alonso doesn’t believe the changes to the start procedures that will come into effect at Spa will make much of a difference.

As of this weekend’s Belgium Grand Prix, the FIA will clamp down on radio communication between drivers and the pitwall and only critical information will be relayed. Teams will also be prevented from changing the clutch bite point once the cars leave the garage ahead of the race.

However, two-time World Champion Alonso isn’t expecting any disruption to his usual pre-race strategy.

“It will not be a significant change. I know that there is some talk about this but maybe for next year or the following years will be more different,” the Spaniard said.

“What we will have here is just some restrictions in communications with the drivers and the team etc but I think… at least in our team we were not doing any specific communication or strategy during the formation laps etc so it will not change much.”

There will be more changes next year as the FIA has issued a technical directive that states engineers will not be able to coach the drivers over the radio on things like tyre degradation and fuel saving.

Although the McLaren driver admits drivers will have to “pay a little more attention”, he doesn’t think it be a train smash.

“Well, I don’t think it will make a huge change because… yeah, we are receiving some information now on the radio about tyres, about fuel or other things on the car but we are perfectly aware of what is happening in the car and what is the best solution for the specific issues that we are facing during the race so if that information is not coming, it will come anyway by instinct and by the reactions of the car,” he said.

“So yeah, we will have to pay a little bit more attention to a few things that now we rely a little bit on the radio but it’s not a big change and probably it’s welcome, all those changes, to have a little bit more to do in the car and feeling a little bit more important.”

It’s difficult to see why F1 are strangling the communications between drivers and teams, One team does not gain anything over any other by relaying information over the radio, but as Alonso has said in this article on planetf1.com it’s not an issue.

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THE USE OF TWO WAY RADIOS IN THE HOTEL INDUSTRY

In the hospitality business, improving customer service, increasing staff productivity as well as enhancing efficiency is always believed to be a winning strategy. One of the surest ways of streamling operations in the hospitality business is by ensuring your team is well equipped with better ways of communication. 2 way radios are cost-effective, easy-to-use as well as a proven solution that can be very effective in optimizing efforts in food service, customer service, housekeeping, engineering, maintenance, valet, security and transportation as well.

The level of success that you can achieve in your hotel basically relies on the fundamental brickwork that you lay down for your hospitality business. These fundamentals include exceptional customer service, attention to detail, and rapid responses to your customers’ needs. Whether your hotel staff members are responding to the guest requests or the concierge team is communicating with one another other, 2 way radios are proven to offer the best functionality. With clear audio systems and quality handsets, these Two way radios are capable of helping staff members improves their efficiency and productivity.

Quick, discreet and efficient communication strategies should be the main priorities for any businesses within the leisure and hospitality sectors. Small hotels, guest houses, health clubs and small leisure operations are well-suited to analogue Two way radios. In such businesses, Two way radios are needed to pass any form of information between many staff members, get updates of conditions in different areas of the business or even monitor activities within the premises. In addition to supplying analogue Two way radios to various businesses, 2wayradionline.co.uk also supply waterproof radios for different swimming pool areas or specially toughened 2 way radio models for outdoor activity centres.

Large hotels and leisure complexes like the golf courses and gyms usually require digital Two way radio systems, which are capable of working over greater distances. The need to install complex digital systems to enhance radio coverage only arises if the distances are very large or there is a lot of concrete (for instance high-rise hotels). In a bid to keep Two way radios unobtrusive especially at corporate events and in public, the use of earpieces can make radio communications covert and help keep sensitive information out of public knowledge. Added benefits can include incorporating building management intelligence into the radio system; for instance a message can be sent to the control centre automatically when any given lift breaks down or the fire alarm is triggered.

Accommodating a lot of guest can leave you with a lot of things to do and coordinate. All this can be made quite easy on your part and that of your hotel staff members through the integration of hotel-based Two way radios into your workflow. Having 2 way radios in your hotel can smooth your path to guest satisfaction. In addition, it allows you to build a great customer loyalty base as it allows your staff members to present a professional image which is backed by a rapid response to any guest requests.

Digital and Analogue Two way radios are already in use at some of the most exclusive and largest hotels, resorts and casinos all over the world. The digital and analogue 2 way radios and systems used in these resorts, hotels and casinos to keeps the guests feeling safer and also significantly enhance customer satisfaction and operational efficiency. For instance, the management of your hotel can make sure that the housekeeping department is capable of prioritizing the type of rooms that are meant to be prepared first which in turn helps housekeeping departments to contact stores and laundry for additional guests’ amenity kits, linen and so on. The same also applies to the safety and security within the hotel building and its grounds, so in the event of security breaches or in emergency situations where safe and fast movement of a large number of people will have to be managed. With Two way radio stations installed in your hotel buildings, you will be able to enhance the security of all your guests as well as staff in case of any emergency situation that arises

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Motorola Solutions provides secure and efficient communications for Milan airports

Motorola really are the leader in complex communication systems, time and time again we see (and report) stories of Motorola completing projects for prestigious businesses and organisations. This article highlights their latest finished project.

Airport operator SEA Group (Società Esercizi Aeroportuali S.p.A.) has selected Motorola Solutions to improve operations and ensure the highest levels of security, efficiency and effectiveness at Milan’s Linate and Malpensa airports. Deploying a TETRA Dimetra IP Compact radio communications system to connect both of Milan’s airports, SEA is able to provide enhanced customer services with rapid flight turnaround and more efficient terminal operations.

“With 1,200 operating radios and an increase in operations, SEA needed a more dynamic solution for communications,” says Fabio Degli Esposti, information & communication technology director, SEA. “Faced with the need to replace an outdated system and the need to cope with an increasing demand of services, the only choice for us was to switch to digital technology, which is able to guarantee a safe and effective service.”

In Malpensa – where the old and the new systems had to coexist in the migration phase – everything was fully operational within just two weeks, including the configuration of 1,000 new radios. At Linate airport, the system, supporting 400 new radios, was set up in just a week.

“SEA could not afford any inefficiency,” says Giuliano Posenato, customer service manager, Motorola Solutions Italy. “The implementation had to be very fast, because the requirement was to change the engine on the machine while it was still running.”

Motorola Solutions’ high-performance TETRA base stations now deliver TETRA network coverage in both airports. Old radios used by personnel throughout the airports where also replaced with new TETRA digital handsets.

Motorola Solutions has signed a four-year managed services agreement with SEA, guaranteeing technology evolution including the replacement of its complete telecommunication system (controller, base stations and radios). Motorola Solutions will provide global integrated services infrastructure with highly qualified technical support and certified repair centres that will provide fast repair times and expert technical support for the system for many years to come.

In September 2015, Motorola Solutions will upgrade the connections at both airports with the latest generation of Motorola Solutions TETRA system Dimetra 8.2 enhancing data transmission and offering the SEA the opportunity to develop rich data services to further improve both operations and the customer experience at Milan’s airports.

About SEA

SEA and the Group’s companies manage and develop the airports of Milano Malpensa 1 and Milano Malpensa 2, as well as Milano Linate. The airport system managed by the SEA Group is comprised of:

  • The Milano Malpensa airport is situated about 48 km from Milan and connected to the main cities of Northern Italy and Switzerland. This airport includes two passenger terminals and one cargo terminal
  • The Linate airport is about 8 km from Milan. The airport serves a frequent flyer client traveling to domestic and international EU destinations.

At the two airports, the Group offers all services and activities related to the arrival and departure of aircraft: management of the airport safety; passenger and cargo handling; continuous development of commercial services for passengers, operators and visitors.

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Wrestling Legend Rowdy Roddy Piper Dies At 61

The world of professional wrestling is in mourning following the death of the legendary Rowdy Roddy Piper last month. Piper suffered a cardiac arrest whilst at his home in Hollywood, California. He was just 61 years old.

For many kids (including myself) that first became fans in the mid-late 1980’s, Roddy Piper was the definitive wrestling heel (industry jargon for a bad guy). Whether hosting his notorious Piper’s Pit segment, or facing off against Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (with partner Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorf) at the inaugural WrestleMania event, Piper was one of the industry’s biggest starts during one of its most popular and lucrative periods.

He was also instrumental in making the WWF (now WWE) brand the biggest in professional wrestling. In addition to headlining the very first WrestleMania event (a pioneering Pay-Per View extravaganza that could easily have ruined the company had it proved to be a failure), Piper also featured in one of WrestleMania II’s three main event matchups, thus securing his position as one of wrestling’s most bankable stars.

His undercard matches at WrestleManias III, VI and (the stone cold classic against Bret The Hitman Hart at) VIII are absolute highlights of a classic era of pro wrestling. He even acted as a guest referee for the main event of Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna at WrestleMania X. Younger fans, however, will undoubtedly remember Piper teaming with fellow veterans Ricky Steamboat and Jimmy Superfly Snuka to face Chris Jericho at WrestleMania XXV.

In an era defined by outlandish babyface characters with bodybuilder physiques and sometimes questionable in-ring abilities, Roddy Piper stood out as a genuine wrestler’s wrestler, an authentic tough guy – and the necessarily evil counterpoint to the simplistic, superheroic good guys being featured at the time by the WWF.

Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in 1954, Roderick Toombs was always an unruly personality. Expelled from school at a young age and subsequently falling out with his father, (a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Toombs hit the road, staying in various youth hostels and earning a buck wherever he could. Eventually, the tempestuous youth wound up in a wrestling ring, making his in-ring debut at the tender age of just 15-years-old.

The kid was tough (he had a Black Belt in Judo), displayed a natural affinity for the ring and he had a roguish charisma all of his own. In addition, he really could play the bagpipes. After early stints jobbing in Verne Gagne’s AWA, NWA Houston and Fritz Von Erich’s Big Time Wrestling promotion in Dallas, Texas, Piper debuted for Mike and Gene LeBell’s NWA Hollywood promotion and soon became the outfit’s top heel. A slew of regional Championships followed.

Whilst working for promoter Roy Shire in the NWA’s San Francisco territory, Piper developed his character and ring work. In Los Angeles, he feuded with Chavo Guerrero Sr, Hector Guerrero and ultimately locked up against their father, Mexican wrestling legend Gory Guerrero (father of future WWE Champ Eddie). In The Pacific Northwest, he unseated former NWA World’s Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco for Mid Atlantic’s version of the World Heavyweight Championship, a title he would go on to hold twice more.

In the mid 1980’s, Piper entered Vince McMahon’s insurgent WWF. He was billed as being from Glasgow, Scotland and was well known for being the only wrestler to wear a kilt to the ring. Fans ate it up. Feuding with such stars as Hulk Hogan, Adrian Adonis, Andre The Giant, Jimmy Superfly Snuka, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, Jerry The King Lawler and Bret Hitman Hart, to name but a few, Piper always brought out the best in his opponents and it was with the WWF that he became a household name, as well as one of the industry’s biggest ever stars.

In the mid-1990’s, Piper wrestled for WCW (World Championship Wrestling), where he debuted as one of the company’s headline stars. He feuded, once again, with Hulk Hogan and also battled old rivals such as Ric Flair, Bret Hart and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage. Whilst working for WCW, he was even chosen to headline ‘Starrcade’, the company’s flagship Pay-Per-View event.

In his later career, Piper made sporadic reappearances for the WWE, briefly worked for TNA, enjoyed a reasonably successful acting career and also hosted his own podcast. He battled Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after being diagnosed with the illness in 2006, but had completely beaten it into remission as of last year. Despite the setbacks caused by his ill health, Piper wrestled his last match in 2011.

Although he never held a recognised World Heavyweight Championship, Piper will be remembered as one of the greatest WWF Intercontinental Champions of all time, a reign that was attested to during his appearance at this year’s WrestleMania XXXI, where he congratulated then-IC Champion Daniel Bryan on his victory. He also held other notable belts, such as the United States Championship, the WWF/E Tag Team Championship (with Ric Flair) and the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship.

Piper was a member of the WWE Hall of Fame and the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, as well as the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was also a member of the Cauliflower Alley Club.

On the August 3rd edition of RAW, the entire WWE roster, each member clad in Roddy’s signature Hot Rod t-shirts opened the show with a very moving ten bell salute in tribute to the fallen legend.

WWE boss Vince McMahon said, “Roddy Piper was one of the most entertaining, controversial and bombastic performers ever in WWE, beloved by millions of fans around the world. I extend my deepest condolences to his family.”

UFC Bantamweight Champion Rowdy Ronda Rousey dedicated her 34-second victory over Bethe Correia to Piper’s memory, “I just want to say that we lost a really close friend, Rowdy Roddy Piper, who gave me permission to use his name as a fighter (…) And so I hope him and my dad had a good time watching this today.”

Former WWE and WCW Champion (and Piper’s frequent in-ring rival) Bret Hart wrote, “I can’t find the words to describe the sorrow in my heart upon learning the news of my dear friend, Roddy Piper, passing away. He was my closest friend in the business, a man that schooled me and guided me throughout my career. In fact, if it wasn’t for Roddy Piper reaching out to help me, I’m sure I would’ve been a mere footnote in wrestling. He was always there for me. He was family to me.” Hart also recalled that, following his stroke in 2002; Piper was the only wrestler who visited him in hospital.

Hulk Hogan, another of Piper’s famous adversaries, said of Piper that, “He was my best friend. He is a legend. God’s gain is our loss. May his family in this time of need, find peace”

Other friends, colleagues and admirers of Piper’s included former WWF Champ The Iron Sheik, who said “Roddy Piper. I love you forever. God bless you Bubba” and multi-time World Champion Chris Jericho Tweeted, “Sorry to hear of the passing of my friend and Wrestlemania rival #RoddyPiper. One of the greatest who ever lived, but more importantly a legit sweet family man with a good heart”. Former WWE Divas Champion Paige called Piper a “legend” and Tweeted a picture of a broken heart, an image which reflected the feelings of many a wrestler and wrestling fan.

Roddy’s son, Colt, said that his father was his “best friend” and a “great man” saying that he would miss him forever and “always try to be the man he raised me to be”.

Rowdy Roddy Piper lived a life littered with accomplishments. Not many of us will ever be declared as legendary by our peers and fewer still will be able to stack 30+ Championship reigns anywhere on our resume, but those weren’t the man’s proudest achievements. Piper had been married to his wife, Kitty, since 1982 and is survived by her and the four children they lovingly raised together. My thoughts are with them, as well as everyone else who knew, worked with, or simply enjoyed to watch the late, great man work his magic in front of a capacity crowd. R.I.P Roddy.

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He Couldn’t Hack It… Facebook Hacker Faces Prison Term & $250,000 Fine

It’s happened to everyone. You log on to your Facebook account and get a private message from someone you know, it could be an old schoolteacher, your mother, or someone pretty you met on a night out. You open the message, and all you can see is that dreaded blue hyperlink. You groan, roll your eyes and write a message informing them that they’ve been hacked…

If you can relate to this experience, then you can probably relate to the experience of actually being hacked as well. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing, invasive and extremely annoying, since you have to run all sorts of computer checks/clean-ups and change all your passwords as well.

Hacking of this kind can also be dangerous, if you click the blue link for any reason, then you’re potentially delivering yourself into a world of virtual hurt.

Now, with everyone and their tech-retarded grannies signing up to Facebook, hacking has become far more prevalent, a way of robbing people blind without even looking them in the eye while you do it.

This week, BBC News reported that a New Yorker named Eric Crocker, who used the alias Phastman to commit his virtual crimes, has admitted to hijacking more than 77,000 Facebook accounts as part of a vast network of money making schemes.

The court heard how he and his cohorts took over the accounts of unsuspecting Facebook users and used them to send junk emails to other accounts, thus hacking them as well.

Using the Facebook Spreader tool, Crocker received $300 (£191) for every 10,000 computers he infiltrated.

Mr. Crocker was one of 70 people arrested across 20 countries, thanks to evidence gathered by the FBI’s (very coolly-named) Operation Shrouded Horizon, an initiative aimed at the prevention of virtual crime.

Crocker and the other suspects were members of an invitation only, password-protected forum called Darkode, which boasted between 250-300 members at any given time.

Hackers used the site to buy, sell or swap malware, stolen personal details, credit card information, hacked server credentials and other pieces of data and software commonly used in worldwide cyber crime.

In order to join the site, unethical hackers like Mr. Crocker had to be sponsored by an existing member, they were then heavily vetted to ensure that they were who they said they were. Finally, prospective members had to submit a resume describing their previous criminal activities, which also detailed their skills and suggested ways in which they could contribute to the illegal activities planned by the site. If selected as members, the FBI reports, these hackers would then aid other cyber criminals in their illicit endeavours.

FBI operatives, as well as their counterparts in 20 other countries, infiltrated the site “at the highest levels”, gathering enough information to aid in the arrest of Mr. Crocker and his affiliates.

Crocker eventually pleaded guilty to the charges of violating anti-spam laws and the abuse of Internet connections. He will be sentenced in November, when he will likely be facing up to three years in prison, a $250,000 (£160,000) fine, or both.

Although these arrests are proof that the governments of the world are wising up to cyber crime, please bear in mind that these people, and others like them, are still out there, skulking in the shadows of cyberspace and plotting their next attack. Be vigilant at ALL times…

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Beloved Wrestling Champion & Promoter Verne Gagne Passes Away, Aged 89

Philosopher Albert Camus once wrote, “What I know most surely about morality and the duty of man I owe to sport”. It is hard to find a more fitting epitaph for Verne Gagne, beloved wrestling champion and influential promoter, who passed away in April of this year.

Verne, who was 89 years old, had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and living in a health care facility in Minnesota. However, it would be wrong to dwell on the saddening end of a life as successful and pioneering as that of Verne Gagne, a man who helped to shape the landscape of professional wrestling forever.

At varying times during his life, Gagne was an NFL pro footballer (with both the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears), an alternate for the USA’s Olympic wrestling team, a multi-time amateur wrestling champion, a US marine, a World Champion professional wrestler, a hugely successful promoter and a devoted husband and father.

He trained, or helped to train, many of the biggest and most successful names in professional wrestling history, including future World Champions Ric Flair, Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, The Iron Sheik, Bob Backlund, Dick The Bruiser, Sgt. Slaughter, Blackjack Mulligan and ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig (father of current WWE wrestler Curtis Axel), as well as industry legends such as ‘Cowboy’ Bill Watts, Larry ‘The Axe’ Hennig (father of Curt), Blackjack Lanza, Baron Von Raschke, Jimmy Valiant, Ken Patera, Ole Anderson, Jim Brunzell and, of course, his own son, Greg Gagne.

Verne Gagne’s story begins on a little farm near Corcoran, Minnesota. He was born in 1926, into a very different world than the one we live in today. As a child, Verne would sit on his grandfather’s lap and listen to wrestling on the radio, as there was no television. As Greg Gagne recalled in the WWE’s 2006 ‘Spectacular Legacy of the AWA’ DVD, it was during one such session that Verne announced his intentions to become a professional wrestler.

Gagne’s amateur wrestling accomplishments speak for themselves, Verne was named the Northwest AAU Champion in 1942, Minnesota High School Champion in 1943 and ‘Big Ten’ Champion in 1944, 1947, 1948 and 1949. He was also crowned National AAU Champion in 1948 and 1949 and was selected for 1948’s US Olympic Team (although he didn’t compete). Gagne also won the NCAA Championship in 1949.

As a promoter, Verne was famous for his emphasis on realistic, ‘scientific’ wrestling, a view that contrasted sharply with the then-WWF’s more cartoonish, family-orientated approach to the sport.

After he turned pro, Verne Gagne became one of the first stars of the early TV era of wrestling, becoming the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) Junior Heavyweight Champion in the process. In an era of more serious, credible and ‘straight-laced’ wrestling, Verne Gagne exhibited a special kind of charisma, which was backed up by his great work-rate and wholly believable matches. He was also among the first wrestlers to seek endorsements outside of the wrestling world, a move which paid off handsomely at the time and hinted at a high level of business acumen.

Eventually, as Gagne’s popularity with wrestling audiences increased, he became frustrated at the NWA’s apparent unwillingness to allow him a run with the World’s Heavyweight Championship, at that time held by Lou Thesz. Later, when Pat O’Connor was World Champion, the NWA again refused Gagne a title run. Because of this, largely political, limitation, Gagne and his partner Wally Karbo purchased the Minneapolis territory and seceded from the NWA, taking several other territories with them and forming the bedrock of the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in the process.

The AWA proved to be a successful venture and ran between 1960 and 1991. During that time, the company expanded outwards into traditional NWA territories, in a similar (albeit less aggressive) manner to the way that Vince McMahon Jr’s WWF would expand in the 1980’s. Vince Jr has even gone on record to say that if he hadn’t taken wrestling national when he did, Verne Gagne would have done so.

Whilst still an active competitor, Verne drew criticisms in some quarters for constantly booking himself as the AWA World Champion, including one run that lasted from 1968 until late 1975 (he eventually lost the belt to Nick Bockwinkel). However, it should be noted that Verne was undeniably the promotion’s biggest star and that the company was effectively built around his star power. As AWA World Champion, Verne feuded with some of the all-time greats of pro wrestling, stars like Bockwinkel, Fritz Von Erich, Gene Kiniski and The Crusher.

In the 1980’s, the AWA found itself going head-to-head with Vince McMahon’s WWF, a promotion which had been mainly built around the acquisition of Hulk Hogan, a man who had been the AWA’s biggest drawing card not long before. McMahon sought to dominate the wrestling industry by expanding his New York-based territory via cable television. Almost overnight, the AWA’s top talent abandoned Verne’s outfit for the greater exposure offered by McMahon’s WWF and the AWA suffered for a lack of credible main event stars.

Despite this, Gagne’s AWA still offered a very different product to McMahon’s WWF. Where the WWF promoted bodybuilders and super heavyweight ‘big man’ bouts as its top attractions, the AWA was still offering classier, more traditional wrestling matches.

Even under diminished circumstances, the AWA was still an important starting point for many wrestlers to polish their performances and ‘round out’ their ring work and personas.

Over the years, Gagne’s promotion gave a start to many talents that are now regarded as legends within the wrestling industry, including WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes, ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham, Scott Hall, Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura, The Road Warriors and even announcer ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, as well as many other stars including Big Van Vader, The Nasty Boys, ‘Mad Dog’ Vachon, Marty Jannetty and Rick ‘The Model’ Martel.

The AWA hung on for as long as it could, but in the wake of the WWF onslaught and an ongoing legal dispute concerning some land he owned along Lake Minnetonka, Verne was effectively forced out of business, going bankrupt in 1991 and later selling his company (and its entire video library) to the WWF.

Despite the ultimate demise of the AWA, Verne Gagne remained one of the most recognised, respected and beloved professional wrestlers of all time. In his 2013 book ‘The 50 Greatest Professional Wrestlers of All Time’, former ‘Wrestling at the Chase’ announcer Larry Matysik ranked Gagne at number 11, saying “As much as his ownership of the AWA leads to criticism that he was its champion, the reality of the promotion’s huge profitability for more than two decades demonstrates that the audience bought him as that champion. And AWA shows drew well even when Gagne was not working”.

Gagne’s legacy as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time is already assured. By the time he retired, he was a 15-time World Champion (10 time AWA World Heavyweight Champion, 5 time Omaha World Championship), as well as a Champion in Japan.

He was an inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame, as well as the WCW, Professional Wrestling and Wrestling Observer equivalents. In addition to his incredible in-ring exploits, Verne Gagne should also be remembered as one of the most successful wrestling promoters ever, as well as one of the best teachers the industry ever produced.

For his talent, charisma and freewheeling entrepreneurial spirit, Verne will always be remembered as one of the very best. He was, to quote his son Greg, “a special man”.

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HP withdrawal leaves just one bidder for two police radio contracts

It can’t be said that this is a surprising development; mission critical communications have to be managed by radio based companies, not IT experts. Moving into the direction of using 3G or 4G for emergency services is a dangerous direction to take.

The Home Office is still planning to award new emergency services radio network contracts this year despite the fact there is just one supplier in the running for two of the deals, after HP withdrew its bid this week.

The existing network is used by 300,000 different emergency services and public safety bodies across the UK, however it runs on ‘Tetra’ radio, an old technology poor at supporting mobile data.

The government hopes this will be solved by switching to a 4G LTE network, although a number of industry experts have warned the technology may not be ready to support mission critical voice communications, which require constant uptime.

The government plans to award three contracts: one for user services, one for mobile services and another to appoint a delivery partner.

HP’s decision comes just a month after Telefonica pulled out of the mobile services deal, leaving just one supplier left in the running for two of the three contracts:  Motorola for user services and EE for mobile services. There are still four suppliers competing for the delivery partner contract.

An HP spokeswoman told ComputerworldUK the company had chosen to withdraw from the procurement process because it did not believe it could “submit a proposal that met the programme’s requirements and timelines with a level of commercial and technical risk that was acceptable to all parties”.

Despite the dwindling list of suppliers, the Home Office insisted it will still sign contracts later this year with emergency services expected to connect to the new network in 2016.

“There are six strong bidders competing for the main contracts. We have received their best and final offers and hope to sign contracts later this year,” a spokesman said.

However ComputerworldUK understands the department could reject offers if they believe they will not meet the needs of the emergency services or represent value for money, leaving the door open to a potential change in its plans.

The existing emergency services mobile network is operated by Airwave, which has said it is willing to help the Home Office with contract extensions until 2020.

All fire and rescue services have already agreed to continue to use the Airwave network until at least December 2019.

“In the long term we agree that LTE technology is the future of mission critical voice communications for the emergency services, but it is essential that the desire to adopt emerging technologies does nothing to compromise this country’s public safety, resilience and security,” Airwave said.

Source – http://www.computerworlduk.com/news/mobile/hp-withdrawal-leaves-one-bidder-for-two-police-radio-contracts-3619344/

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We Suggest These Sepura Radio Earpieces

If you are looking for an earpiece that doesn’t compromise on performance , Sepura have a wide range of products available. Here are some of the most popular Sepura earpiece products.

1. Lightweight headset – STP8X

This headset can be used in low-noise conditions, and comes with an active earpiece – allowing you to listen to the surrounding environment with the other ear. You also get microphone, which can be fully adjusted. The headset can either be worn underneath protective headgear or on its own – providing you with more flexibility. To connect to the radio, use the chest-mounted RSM unit or large button PTT. This product can be used with a NEXUS jack plug (four-pole). Remember – cover of the Rugged Side Connector (RSC) will need to be in place in hazardous environments, or an approved Rugged Side Connector accessory will need to be used and securely connected. Disconnecting a Rugged Side Connector accessory or removing the cover isn’t permitted in hazardous environment.

2. EarpieceOnline Acoustic Police Earpiece

This earpiece comes with a clear tube that connects to the ear and has a separate press button to talk. It can be used in a covert or overt role, and comes with a microphone. The product will fit standard police radios from Sepura, including the SRP 2000, 3000, AND 3800, while the PTT block will enable users to wear the radio anywhere on their body, including the belt. You will also be able to mount the block easily. The microphone block and PTT come with a strong and durable metal clip which can be attached to duty vests. In addition, the radio can be worn out of sight in a covert role, and the microphone block and PTT can be used under clothing.

3. STP8X in-ear headset with PTT

This in-ear headset is ideal when used in low-noise conditions, and can be connected to the RSC on the STPX. The headset is used with a NEXUS jack plug (four-pole) and comes with an in-line PTT switch. The environmental rating of the product is IP54, and the storage temperature is -40 to 85 degrees Celsius. The weight of the item is 110 grams.

4. RAC STP in-ear tactical headset

This headset easily fits in the ear, and comes with a speaker functionality and microphone in the same product. The tactical headset features a ring PTT and can be used with a neck cord (users to cover the cord with clothing). The assembly can be terminated with a RAC plug.

5. STP8X SCORPION headset

The SCORPION headset has been designed to be used with protective helmets, making it an excellent choice for civil protection officers, fire brigades, and police officers. It comes with a receiver, microphone, and can be used with a NEXUS jack plug (four-pole). To connect the radio, you can use the large button PTT or advanced RSM. There are also a number of accessories that can be purchased for this product, including adapters for different types of helmet. Please note, unconnected headsets cannot be carried into a hazardous area. The weight of the product is 85 grams.

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