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Taking The …. Campaign To Urinate In The Shower (In An Effort To Save Water, Apparently), Goes National

Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza committed a major social faux pas by peeing in the showers at the gym? Well, it turns out that he wasn’t simply being lazy and disgusting. No, he was actively taking a stand to save the world’s water. Or something.

The Go With The Flow campaign, spearheaded by University of East Anglia students Debs Torr and Chris Dobson, is actively trying to encourage students to urinate in the shower as a way of saving water, apparently blissfully unaware that most students (the male ones, at least) probably already do.

In fact, male students have actually been ‘saving water’ for generations now. In addition to mastering the dubious art of shower urination, young men have also managed to ‘save water’ by urinating in other places, too.

Yes, that’s right, by spending literally decades peeing in places as diverse as the alley outside the pub, our mates’ mum’s carpet, empty beer bottles, abandoned port-a-loos The Download Festival and especially Swindon, male students in the UK will probably have saved the equivalent of the Atlantic ocean by the end of the year (possibly even the weekend, if the drinks are cheap enough).

You’re welcome, everyone.

Joking aside (not really), 20-year-old Chris Dobson, who has almost certainly destroyed his own chances of ever getting any female students to join him in the shower, reckons that if every student at his own Uni does just one ‘number one’ a day in the shower, they will save enough water to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool 26 times over.

Of course, even that isn’t particularly impressive, because, if that happened, all the water would just overfill the pool and flood the changing rooms and the car park, making the entire town centre stink of chlorine – and nobody needs that.

His findings also imply that nobody ever pees in public swimming pools. A fact which most of us know to be false.

In fact, according to ‘Pissy Chrissy’ if all UEA students accepted the challenge (as I said, not counting the 50% of them that probably already do), they’d save a combined £125,000 per annum. If the population of East Anglia joined in, they’d be looking at around £42.5 Million.

“We’ve done the maths, and this project stands to have a phenomenal impact”. Said Dobson, accidentally outing himself as a maths nerd as well as a dude that pees in the shower. Sexy prospect.

As you can extrapolate, the numbers would be amazing if the whole country took part in the ‘challenge’ of pissing in the shower once a day, but personally, I think it would be a shame if it was limited to just the shower. Let’s all find exotic places to pee and, when questioned, simply state that we’re doing it for the planet. The power is yours (a brand new no-prize for everyone that gets the reference).

Of course, the ‘Go With The Flow’ initiative only saves water if you flush after every trip to the loo, which is, in and of itself, a huge waste of water. But we already knew that. In fact, the entire thing would appear to be based on assumptions about other people’s urination habits, rather than any sort of quantifiable facts.

On a final note, I just hope some bright spark doesn’t confuse this latest viral campaign with the ‘ice bucket challenge’  – because, quite frankly, nobody needs that.

…And on that note, I’m off to take a quick shower.

PS – by the same logic, you can also save water by taking a dump in your local Sainsbury’s.

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How Do I Choose a Good Two Way Radio?

Choosing a good two-way radio is relatively easy. In fact, the vast majority of radios are ‘good’ in the sense that they will do their specified job to a reasonable standard.

With the majority of two-ways, you don’t need to worry about operating systems (like you would with tablet PCs) or compatibility issues* (like you would with games consoles). All you really need to worry about, in fact, is what you want to use your radio for; this is by far the most important question you need to ask yourself if you’re ever buying a walkie-talkie or two-way radio.

If you’re just looking for a way to keep track of the kids on your next cruise, or you want something to add a bit of fun to your next outdoor excursion, then all you really need to do is find a trusted brand and buy a medium-priced model. It’s as simple as that. However, if you’re a businessperson and looking to buy a radio with a license, then you need to be a bit more careful. In that respect, you definitely want a trusted brand and you definitely want to consult a specialist before you invest in your equipment.

If you happen to fall somewhere in the cracks between these two examples, we’ve prepared a ‘fact sheet’ (of sorts) for you.

  • There are Four Main Types of Two-Way Radio

GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) – Is a higher-powered radio, popular for its reliability and versatility. GMRS is the most common choice among users.

FRS (Family Radio Service) – Is usually more of a basic model, lower powered, but generally cost-effective.

MURS (Multi-Use Radio Service) – Is an unlicensed radio that only has a limited capacity. MURS radios are not a particularly popular choice, although they do have their adherents.

And finally,

CB  (Citizen’s Band) – It is called different things in different countries, but CB is a personal service and is a popular choice, however it does require a long antenna. Good for drivers, though.

  • Wattage is Important

No, we’re not talking about that Italian-sounding hybrid of a bluebottle fly and Cyril Sneer from the ‘Star Wars’ prequels here; wattage is the measurement of watts, as in power output. Wattage is important in radios because it affects licensing. In the UK, for example, radios that have a power output greater than 0.5 watts require a license to use.

It is also important to note that any radio, no matter the power output, will automatically downgrade to a half watt when operating on FRS-specific channels.

  • Keep Signal Coverage in Mind at all Times

Two-way radio manufacturers do a lot of lying and exaggerating about the range of their products. Their claims almost never take into account the signal interference caused by objects in the way, natural obstacles, atmospheric conditions and a plethora of other variables.

On average, the actual signal coverage for any given radio is between one and two miles. CB radios can communicate over longer distances, but those extra long antennas can make them tough to carry around!

  • Privacy Codes are Useful Things

 If you’re using your radio in a busy area (i.e. where there are lots of other radio signals bouncing around), you will probably find that the available channels get used up pretty quickly. However, a radio that provides CTCSS will offer a ‘privacy code’ function that allows you to subdivide your channels by creating a combination of channel and code, this will allow you to better communicate with others, even if the available channels are full.

It should be noted, however, that this function does not make your conversation private; it just reduces the levels of other signals in the area that your device may be intercepting.

Much of the information listed here was sourced from 2 way radio online so look them up if you want to know more.

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Titanic, Avatar and Star Trek Composer James Horner Dies In Plane Crash

James Horner, one of the best known and most respected composers in cinema history, has died, aged 61. He leaves behind him a musical legacy that helped to define an era.

Throughout an incredibly successful career, Horner scored in excess of 100 movies. First Oscar nominated for his work on ‘Aliens’ (1986) and again for ‘Field of Dreams’ (1989), amongst others, Horner’s work would eventually earn him two Academy Awards, two Golden Globes, ten Oscar nominations, seven Golden Globe nominations and three Bafta nominations.

The list of films scored by James Horner is a long and impressive one. From ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan’ (1982) and its sequel, 1984’s ‘The Search For Spock’, to more recent hits such as ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ (2012), ‘The Karate Kid’ (2010) and ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ (2008), Horner scored more Hollywood blockbusters than some people have seen.

His rich, fluidic tones and warm, sweeping scores were occasionally offset by moments of experimentation, such as the African-style vocal harmonies used in his score for ‘Avatar’ (2009) or the steel drums used in cult Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle ‘Commando’ (1985), all with the effect of serving the plot and the director’s vision. He was also an extremely versatile mind, every bit as capable of scoring hard-hitting drama as flippant comedy or high-octane action. Perhaps this was why James Cameron chose Horner to score ‘Titanic’ (1997), a decision that proved to be very fruitful indeed. Both the score, and the song ‘My Heart Will Go On’ (performed by Celine Dion) won Oscars, while the song itself sold 15 million copies worldwide.

However, the list of hit films helped along to box office success by Horner’s talents doesn’t end there. 90’s crowd-pleasers ‘Braveheart’ (1995), ‘The Mask of Zorro’ (1998), ‘Deep Impact’ (1998), Apollo 13’ (1995), ‘Casper’ (1995) and ‘Jumanji’ (1995) all benefited from Horner’s orchestrations, as did later films like ‘Troy’ (2004), ‘The Legend of Zorro’ (2005) ‘The Forgotten’ (2004), ‘Iris’ (2001), ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (2001), ‘Bicentennial Man’ (1999), ‘Windtalkers’ (2002) ‘The Perfect Storm’ (2000) and ‘Enemy at the Gates’ (2001).

The list of films upon which Horner worked, or conducted for, is longer still. After you’ve read this piece, head on over to IMDB and be amazed.

James Horner was born in Los Angeles, California in 1953. His father, Harry Horner, was an Oscar winning art director and set designer who had won the coveted awards for his work on 1949’s ‘The Heiress’ and 1961’s ‘The Hustler’, respectively. James learned to play the piano at age 5 and went on to study at the Royal College of Music in London, before studying music at the University of Southern California and doing postgraduate work at the University of California, Los Angeles.

His early successes included the movies ‘48 Hours’ (1982), ‘Cocoon’ (1985), ‘*Batteries Not Included’ (1987) and ‘An American Tail’ (1986) – which earned him an early Oscar nomination.

From there, Horner became one of Hollywood’s most in-demand composers, scoring ‘Willow’ (1988), ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Kids’ (1989), ‘The Rocketeer’ (1991), ‘Ransom’ (1996) and ‘Mighty Joe Young’ (1998), amongst (many) others.

On the 22nd June it was reported that one of Horner’s private planes had crashed into the Los Padres National Forest near Ventucopa, California. He was the sole occupant of the craft when it crashed. Our best wishes and sincerest condolences go out to Horner’s family, friends and fans. He shall be missed.

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Clinton Portrait Shows Famous Liar

Presidential portrait artist Nelson Shanks has revealed that he incorporated a hidden message into his painting of former US President Bill Clinton.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, the artist told the world (well, Philadelphia) that a curiously long shadow, apparently cast by the plant next to the Prez, was, in fact, cast by a mannequin in a blue dress that he had in his studio at the time he painted the portrait.

According to Mr. Shanks, he did this as an allusion to Clinton’s famous affair with White House Intern Monica Lewinski, the woman who famously, um, relieved The President’s stress levels – before using her highly prized oral skills to catapult herself into a career in shit telly, low-level celebrity and (I kid you not) fashion design.

“Have the same handbag that I put down on the Oval Office couch in order to sexually service our nation’s president! Just $9.99” the ad copy (probably) says, as the glass ceiling lowers to the point that it actually constricts the breathing of female professionals the world over.

The worst of it was that, although I’ll grant you that Monika was better looking than Hillary, she was still a bit of a minger.

Aaaaaanyway, getting back to the point somewhat, the inclusion of the blue dress hints at the DNA evidence (and I flat-out am not saying what kind of ‘evidence’, but I’ll pretend it was ‘spit’. Hell, maybe it was!) that was famously left on Lewinski’s blue dress. Basically, Shanks was trying to make a point about “the shadow” that Clinton cast on the office of President. Or something.

Eventually, after famously denying that he had enjoyed “sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski” (possibly as much ashamed of her slightly minging appearance as the fact that he’d lied to the Nation), Clinton was forced to fess up, and America’s right-wing press had a field day.

Therefore, according to Mr. Shanks, Bill Clinton is “probably the most famous liar of all time”.

Apparently, Mr. Shanks was knocked quite severely on the head and was completely unconscious for the 8 f*cking years that George W. Bush treated America (and the rest of the world) like his own personal nymphomaniac intern.

During the course of this era of idiocy, Bush openly lied about “securing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” and then used said disinformation to lead an illegal invasion/occupation of another country.

Oh yeah, he also rigged an election, too (probably).

Now, perhaps I should cut Mr. Shanks some slack, I mean, after all, during Bush’s reign of terror, Dubya could have been shagging every White House intern in the damned building five times a night, but nobody could tell because he was there were too many bombs whizzing about in a war that cost TWO TRILLION DOLLARS and resulted in 174,000 dead Iraqis (with 123,000 of that number being innocent civilians whose only crime was that they lived in Iraq), just so he could earn a bit of extra bank for his dad’s golf buddies.

So yeah, nicely done.

Now, I’m not defending Clinton for scoring a BJ outside the confines of his marriage (however, if even half the stuff I’ve heard about marriage is true, then that’s the only place he was likely to find one!), I’m just saying that Clinton’s ‘dark shadow’ concerned an extra marital affair, the worst consequence of which was the rise of Monica Lewinski as a quasi-celebrity – his wife didn’t even chuck him over it. Whereas, if we’re playing the ‘blame game’ here, his successor’s portrait should feature him snorting cocaine off of a Guantanamo prisoner and wiping his arse with the US flag, whilst at the same time dancing naked atop an oil tower crudely fashioned from hundreds of dead Iraqi civilians. That’s all.

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Does The Old Two Cans on a String Thing Actually Work?

It does indeed. The old children’s favourite may have been supplanted somewhat by the relentless march of technology, especially now that almost every kid has a mobile phone and/or access to the Internet, but there is still a lot of fun to be had there.

For those reading this that don’t know, the two cans on a string game involves taking two empty (and preferably washed out) tin cans, the kind you might buy baked beans in, punching a small hole in the bottom of both cans and then threading a length of string in between each hole, tying it in a knot big enough to secure it in the can. Then, when the string is pulled tight, it is possible for one person to speak into the can and another to listen and reply. It also works with polystyrene cups, albeit to a slightly lesser extent. You’d be amazed also at the distance your voice can actually travel using this method.

It is not advisable to use stretchable string for the cans as it just makes life more difficult!

The science behind this game is actually very simple. The vibrations of your voice shake the bottom of the can and that, in turn, vibrates the string. Provided the string is pulled taut and isn’t touching anything, there should be no reason at all for your voice not to travel along the string to be received by your companion at the other end.

In fact, this game actually qualifies as a sort of rudimentary telephone; the theory behind it is very similar.

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If you happen to be a parent, this game can keep the kids entertained on rainy afternoons, as well as providing a useful scientific lesson for them. I have many happy childhood memories of playing this game. However, it is very important to make sure that the cans have no sharp edges around the inner rim, for older kids, a simple ‘safety brief’ will probably do, but younger kids might be safer with a little electrical or duct tape stuck around the top of the can (in each child’s favourite colour, maybe? Just a thought). It shouldn’t affect the sound too much, if at all.

It’s amazing the fun you can have with a couple of old cans and a length of string. Hope that helps.

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Experts Investigate Antares Rocket Explosion

Experts are presently investigating the destruction of the unmanned space rocket Antares, which exploded during its launch on Tuesday, October 28th. Official investigations began on the 29th, but no definite cause for the accident has been identified so far.

Almost immediately upon leaving the launch pad at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, Antares became engulfed in flames and was destroyed in midair. The falling wreckage caused considerable damage to the launch pad itself.

Although the cargo was lost, there were no casualties.

Antares was carrying around 5,000lbs (2,200 kgs) of supplies, which were intended for the six astronauts currently occupying the International Space Station. The rocket’s cargo included over 1,300lbs (600kg) of dried food, as well equipment for various scientific experiments.

Despite the loss of important supplies and equipment, the astronauts aboard the ISS will still have enough provisions to continue their work.

Frank Culbertson, executive vice-president of Orbital Sciences Corp, the firm that built the rocket, is confident that the cause of the explosion will soon be determined. He told BBC News that,

“We will understand what happened, hopefully soon, and we’ll get things back on track (…) we’ve all seen this happen in our business before, and we’ve all seen the teams recover from this, and we will do the same.”

Mr. Culbertson has also urged locals not to go “souvenir hunting” along the beach, as the rocket had been carrying hazardous materials.

Some business experts are now predicting that Orbital may suffer greatly in the face of harsh competition to supply the ISS.

The investigation could take weeks, or even more, before analysts are satisfied that they have found the root cause of the problem.

In any instance, it seems highly likely that the investigators will place considerable emphasis on the rocket’s AJ-26 engines, which were used to lift Antares from the launch pad.

Earlier versions of these same engines were developed for Russia’s N1 moon missions, which came to an ignominious end after all four launch attempts failed. The second attempt, in 1969, resulted in a calamity that completely destroyed both the rocket and the launch tower.

Another of these power units actually exploded during ground testing earlier this year.

Whatever the cause, this malfunction is expected to set any further Antares rocket launches back for a considerable amount of time.

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A Look at the Motorola DP4400

Motorola DP4400 is a device that is capable of transforming your enterprise by making employee interactions much smarter and safer. The device features best-in-class audio and high-tech data capabilities; all meant to bring a new revolution in the world of communication.

The DP4400 delivers admirable voice quality and enables for seamless data communications through integrated GPS and Bluetooth audio capabilities. Besides that, this device is built with an intelligent audio and customizable voice announcement feature.

Because the radio is available in both UHF and VHF frequency bands, it is extremely easy to use. It offers 32 channel capacity and five buttons that are programmable. An emergency button is provided ad well alongside FM intrinsically safe options. Moreover, the device is made with IP57 specifications to enhance submersibilty.

Features of this product in brief

- Advanced signaling capabilities

The radio is available in UHF (403-527 MHz) or VHF (136-1774 MHz). It features 32 channels and 5 tone signalling capabilities. Its large and textured push-to-talk button makes it extremely easy for the programmer to tailor the use of 3 buttons – in order to increase operator efficiency.

- Easy to use and program

Besides being easily programmable, this radio features a Tri-coloured LED which enables for crystal clear visual feedback on the operating status of the radio. There is also an emergency button which is provided to ensure rapid reporting and response during critical situations.

- Effective, efficient and operable

Another admirable feature to be found on the Motorola DP4400 has PPT ID which is meant to improve communications efficiency and system operability. Its remote monitoring features go a long way to ensure user safety alongside enabling prompt assessment of remote user status. To make it even more effective, the radio comes with elegant channel scanning schemes a feat that makes it extremely easy and fast to receive calls every time.

- Enhanced audio capabilities

With a loud front-facing speaker and an intelligent audio feature which is designed to adjust the volume of the radio depending on the noise levels of the surrounding when in use. Besides its powerful audio features, the radio makes it possible to send programmable update messages when messages need to be conveyed without interrupting other workers or guests.

- Wide ranging data applications

This radio features one of the largest collections of Application Developer Programs. All applications are customized to include unique features such as email gateways, location tracking and work order ticket management.

A final word on product

Motorola DP4400’s diverse portfolio and high security features make it ideal for government and public safety.

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How Dick Tracy Invented the Apple Watch

Apple CEO Tim Cook suddenly became a little boy again as he showed that Apple’s new smart watch will also send and receive phone calls.

“I have been wanting to do this since I was 5 years old,” Cook exclaimed. “The day is finally here.”

The 54-year-old Cook was harking back to 1965, when any American youngster could tell you that the coolest gizmo around was Dick Tracy’s two-way wrist radio.

The comic strip detective’s creator, Chester Gould, had introduced the futuristic device in 1946, after he scripted Tracy into a jam from which there seemed no credible escape.

Gould decided that he would go high-concept and have Tracy appeal directly to his inky-fingered creator. Gould figured he could then just extricate Tracy from the predicament Manus Dei.

But Gould’s employer, the Chicago Tribune, rejected the idea as a cheat.

Gould then recalled visiting the workshop of an inventor extraordinaire named Al Gross several weeks before. Gross had developed the walkie-talkie when he was barely out of high school. Gross’s more recent projects when Gould stopped by included a two-way radio that could be worn on the wrist like a watch.

Gould now got on the phone to Gross.

“He called and asked if he could use that idea on the wristwatch,” Gross would say in an interview years later. “I told him sure. And he gave Dick Tracy that wristwatch.”

As a token of his gratitude, Gould presented Gross with the first four panels in which Tracy begins using the soon-to-be-famous gizmo. The device proved to be just the thing for Tracy to extricate himself along with his creator from the predicament.

Do you remember the old dick tracy comics? we’re not convinced that Tim cook got the idea from these comics, it’s an interesting idea that the whole of apple was built on the idea that one day they would emulate the comic books.

In the comic strip, the two-way wrist radio is created by a young inventor named Brilliant. He develops another seemingly impossible gadget for Tracy conceived by the real-life Gross: a compact, battery-powered video surveillance camera. This is too much for one of the comic-strip mobsters, and Brilliant meets a bloody end in a 1948 installment.

As a token of his gratitude, Gould presented Gross with the first four panels in which Tracy begins using the soon-to-be-famous gizmo. The device proved to be just the thing for Tracy to extricate himself along with his creator from the predicament.

In the comic strip, the two-way wrist radio is created by a young inventor named Brilliant. He develops another seemingly impossible gadget for Tracy conceived by the real-life Gross: a compact, battery-powered video surveillance camera. This is too much for one of the comic-strip mobsters, and Brilliant meets a bloody end in a 1948 installment.

Gross did enjoy a continuing thrill that had been first sparked when he was still in grammar school. His parents took him on a cruise across Lake Erie from Cleveland to Buffalo, and his destiny was decided when he wandered into the ship’s radio room.

“The radio operator put me on his lap and let me put the earphones on,” Gross would remember. “I heard all of those dots and dashes, and I’ve been interested ever since.”

Wonderment was joined by wondering, and the result powered a lifetime of prophetic tinkering. Gross followed up the walkie-talkie during World War II with a ground-to-air radio system. The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff credited it with “saving millions of lives by shortening the war.”

Yet the closest Gross came to fame was as a pioneering Citizens Band radio operator dubbed “the Father of CB.” Even in this he was best known not by his real name but by his handle, Phineas Thaddeus Veeblefetzer.

Not that Gross needed recognition. He was still busy in his workshop right up to the time of his death in late 2000, at the age of 82.

Childhood fascination was at the heart of it all, so it only makes sense that his two way wrist radio would have had a similar effect on youngsters over the years, these notably including little Timmy Cook in 1965.

On Monday, Cook said he had been wanting for half a century to unveil a real-life gizmo that worked just like the one in the comic strip of his youth.

One hopes Cook is aware that the two-way wrist radio was itself inspired by the real-life ideas of a visionary who should be as well-known to us as Jobs or Gates.

Gross observed in his later years, “‘If you have a cordless telephone or a cellular telephone or a walkie-talkie or beeper, you’ve got one of my patents.”

And now we can posthumously add the Apple Watch.

Source - http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/10/how-dick-tracy-invented-the-apple-watch.html

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Faced with a tech tsunami, Motorola fights to preserve cop‑com franchise

As Chicago cops braced for protests in advance of the NATO and G-8 summits in 2012, hometown radio giant Motorola made what seemed like a grand gesture.

JOHN FITZHUGH / SUN HERALDMississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Calvin Robertson, MSWIN land mobile radio system at MHP Troop K headquarters on Wednesday Dec. 11, 2013.

The company, which for years has used tenacious marketing and clout to reign over the emergency radio business, donated to the city $1.8 million worth of telecom equipment that could beam data and videos to law enforcement officers shielding the world leaders.

Generosity wasn’t the only motive behind the gift.

In a letter, Motorola Vice President John Molloy said the company also could operate a network for the city as a “test platform” until year end and provide Chicago’s public safety agencies entree to the world of emergency broadband LTE – the new global standard for transmitting huge amounts of data at rocket speed.

Motorola’s gift was designed to keep on giving.

From Mississippi to Texas and California, the company now known as Motorola Solutions Inc. has reshaped its business strategy in the face of a technology tsunami that threatens to upend its decades-long hold on the emergency communications market.

While fighting to preserve its immense walkie-talkie franchise, Motorola has maneuvered to become a player in broadband, where it must contend with new and bigger competitors in a scrum for billions of dollars of taxpayer funds pledged for a coast-to-coast emergency data delivery network.DROPPED JAWS, PROTESTS OVER

Motorola’s aggressive push into broadband, however, is a cause for consternation among officials of the First Responder Network Authority, or FirstNet, the Commerce Department agency tasked with building the first nationwide public-safety communications system. To garner broadband business, Motorola has relied on many of the same strategies and deep customer relationships that helped it capture more than 80 percent of the radio market.

As McClatchy reported in a series of articles last year, the industry giant has landed scores of sole-source radio contracts and wielded enough pricing power to sell its glitzy handsets for as much as $7,000 apiece, at a taxpayer cost of hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars that could have been saved in a more competitive market.

At the request of three senior Democrats in the House of Representatives, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, John Roth, recently ordered an audit to examine McClatchy’s disclosures and determine whether federal grant money has bankrolled biased contract awards to Motorola.

The new broadband network, backed so far by a whopping $7 billion federal commitment, is expected to spawn a competitive market involving names such as ATT, Verizon, Cisco, General Dynamics and Alcatel-Lucent.

How 4G broadband LTE (Long-Term Evolution) works

4G stands for the fourth generation of broadband, the same technology that beams data to your cell phone. It effectively works as a high-speed radio signal that relays tiny packets of data between the internet and base stations on cellular towers outfitted with antenna equipment and microwave dishes.

The cellular towers flash the data to first responders’ handsets or perhaps to a mobile unit mounted in a police car’s dashboard.

4G LTE can save lives: It can deliver images of suspects within seconds, where previously it could take 10 minutes or more, as well as offering live streaming of disaster or crime scenes.

While people around the world use 4G technology to make cell phone calls, because calls are frequently interrupted, it has not yet been deemed ready to produce voice communications reliable enough for public-safety agencies. The current public-safety standard requires that the connections operate reliably 99.999 percent of the time – or all but about five minutes per year.

What threatens Motorola is the possibility that technology advances could within a few years enable ruggedized cellphones to transmit voice communications as reliably as two-way radios, a development that eventually could crumble the company’s radio franchise, which serves thousands of public safety agencies.

One Motorola tactic for penetrating the new market has been to donate equipment, as the company did in Chicago.

It’s a way to “lock in future relationships and future opportunities,” said Steve Koman, a former Motorola employee who was a consultant to the city of Charlotte, N.C., when it sought unsuccessfully to build a broadband network a couple of years ago. Koman said he finds such equipment donations by a market kingpin to be troubling.

“I’ve always wondered if these kinds of gray-zone practices violate the spirit of federal antitrust laws,” he said, “because they appear to be a continuous attempt to corner the market.”

A Motorola executive vice president, Robert Schassler, contended in a phone interview that many companies routinely invite government agencies to join them in testing new products.

The 2012 donation of a mini-broadband network wasn’t Motorola’s first gift to Chicago, which has been buying the company’s radios since 1956.

In 2009, the company gave the city a mobile radio network to help protect members of the International Olympic Committee coming to town to weigh Chicago’s bid to host a future Olympics.

Motorola’s philanthropy was rewarded later with a $1.5 million no-bid contract from Cook County to use the donated equipment to build a “high-performance” data network for the city and county – a system that was doomed from the start because its radio bandwidth was too narrow to transmit data at high speeds, said Sophia Ansari, a spokeswoman for the county sheriff’s office. The county now plans to swap the equipment for new Motorola radios, she said.

As for the broadband LTE (for Long Term Evolution) equipment donated for the summits, the city has obtained a temporary license to build a test network but is still mulling what to do, said Melissa Stratton, a spokeswoman for Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Charlotte also was a recipient of Motorola’s largesse before hosting the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Motorola loaned the city about 3,000 radios free of charge to assist state and federal law enforcement officials in communicating with one another.

Such gestures, which are not always trumpeted publicly, typically grow from carefully cultivated relationships that have helped Motorola steamroller competitors for nearly 20 years in the multibillion-dollar radio business.

I’ve always wondered if these kinds of gray-zone practices violate the spirit of federal antitrust laws.

The company’s formula: build top-quality equipment; dote on police, fire and sheriff’s departments; woo contracting officials; pursue every angle to gain a sole-source deal or an inside track, and where possible, embed equipment with proprietary features so it can’t interact with competitors’ products.

It’s worked so well that a single company – Motorola – has dominated state and federal two-way radio markets, untouched by federal antitrust regulators although there’s been little price testing to assure that taxpayers got the best deal.

Motorola executives make no apologies for their market supremacy.

“Motorola Solutions’ public safety success is because we offer the best solutions and service at competitive prices, because our customers trust in our products and commitment to stand behind them, and because of our continued investment in innovation,” said the company’s chief spokesman, Kurt Ebenhoch.

Motorola’s Schassler said the company that pioneered the first police radio in 1930 is the only manufacturer that has stood behind cops, firefighters and emergency medics “uninterrupted” for 85 years.

…our customers trust in our products and commitment to stand behind them…

That commitment has engendered strong loyalties from the nation’s more than 4 million first responders, legions of whom insist on toting a Motorola as their communication lifeline.

But to rivals and frustrated government officials, Motorola is the industry’s version of “Leave it to Beaver’s” unctuous Eddie Haskell (“You look lovely today, Mrs. Cleaver”), whose charms are but a cover for myriad connivances. Using an array of tactics, the company repeatedly has found ways to stick taxpayers with the priciest equipment when far cheaper options performed to the same standards.

Schassler was asked whether Motorola sales representatives propose ways for government officials to award sole-source contracts.

“No,” he replied.

State and local government officials have done the dirty work, frequently skirting laws or federal grant guidelines requiring competitive bidding.

Motorola officials acknowledged that the company’s seemingly ubiquitous sales force has wined and dined some government officials where state laws allow, but Schassler called that “a very, very rare occurrence” that is first approved by a company attorney.

However, two government officials who lacked authorization to speak for the record said the company has hosted state or local contracting employees in some of Las Vegas’ priciest restaurants .

Despite its scant experience in broadband, Motorola has been fastest out of the gate in applying the technology to public safety. In 2010, the company entered an eight-year partnership with the Swedish colossus Ericsson, a leading supplier of broadband equipment, especially the cores that serve as the brains for each network. Motorola also has partnered with cellular industry giant Verizon Wireless, and it has developed a handset that can both receive broadband data and enable voice transmissions over a standard two-way radio network.

The Schaumburg, Ill.-based firm has secured contracts to assemble four of eight federally funded emergency broadband pilot projects – in Los Angeles County, Harris County, Texas, the San Francisco Bay Area and Mississippi, though the latter two later collapsed because of negotiation impasses for leases of frequencies on the federal wireless spectrum. Motorola also is among five vendors approved to sell equipment for New Mexico’s statewide pilot project.

The company’s early success in the pilot projects has been controversial:

  • An official of Harris County, Texas, sent gasps through a hotel conference room in May 2011 when he said he handed Motorola the $7.5 million first stage of a pilot broadband network because the company told him “a great story,” according to two people who were present. Both insisted upon anonymity for fear of reprisals. The award in the county surrounding Houston drew protests from two major competitors because they weren’t invited to bid, even though most of the financing came from a Department of Homeland Security port security grant. Motorola and county officials contended the contract was competitively awarded, because it was written as a modification to a 2007 radio contract for which Motorola won the bidding.
  • In San Francisco, Motorola won a $50.6 million Commerce Department grant in 2010 to build the first metropolitan-wide emergency broadband network – a deal arranged by former Motorola sales executive Laura Phillips in her new job overseeing public safety grants to the region. Phillips was later fired amid outrage that the grant was awarded without approval from any of three major cities and 10 counties involved, said several current and former government officials who spoke anonymously because of the matter’s sensitivity. Phillips pointed to a Commerce Department audit that cleared her of improprieties.
  • Former San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore said he implored Motorola’s No. 2 executive, Mark Moon, to wait until a regional board approved the grant to avoid city and county protests. He said Moon responded: “I’d rather take the $50 million and bad publicity than not get the $50 million.” Motorola spokesman Ebenhoch said Moon doesn’t recall making such a remark and “strongly believes the statement to be inaccurate and false.”
  • While a joint authority representing Los Angeles County and more than 80 cities reviewed bids in 2011 for twin public-safety radio and broadband networks, Motorola added William Bratton, a former Los Angeles police chief and currently the New York police commissioner , to a lucrative post on its corporate board. A team led by Raytheon Corp. won the bidding, but Motorola threatened a suit, and a county lawyer urged nullifying the award because it might violate an arcane state law. During two more rounds of bidding, Motorola slashed its prices and ultimately won both contracts, worth a half-billion dollars.

FirstNet officials did not respond to requests for comment about Motorola’s dealings.

JOHN FITZHUGH / SUN HERALDMSWIN land mobile radio system at MHP Troop K headquarters on Wednesday Dec. 11, 2013.

Some members of Congress, including Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, have said a major reason they voted for a 2012 law allotting a bloc of the spectrum for public safety and financing a national broadband network was their hopes it would smash Motorola’s near monopoly in two-way radios.

Yet some say that Motorola is fighting for survival, especially if broadband handsets that sell for $500 to $1,000 can replace the pricey, more lucrative emergency radios. Already, spinoffs and layoffs have shrunk the company’s payroll from over 20,000 to 15,000 employees.

“The change that Motorola is getting hit with is no less substantial than what hit IBM or Kodak. It’s a technology wave,” said former Charlotte consultant Koman, referring to technology advances that overtook IBM Corp.’s mainframe computer franchise and Kodak’s film empire.

The company’s predicament “is actually life or death in this transition” because of its huge infrastructure, said a former senior Motorola executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid harming relationships.

If so, Motorola executives sure don’t seem panicked.

Schassler said he expects Motorola to accrue incremental gains from broadband projects while continuing to serve most of the nation’s 60,000 public-safety agencies with radio equipment for 10 years or more.

The reality is that Motorola, with tentacles reaching virtually every emergency agency in the country, may be miles ahead of the government in its planning.

Already, the Motorola-Ericsson combine has planted broadband network cores at Motorola’s Schaumburg headquarters, at Texas AM University to cover the Harris County system and in Los Angeles County.

New Mexico officials, whose network layout can easily be extended to the Mexican border, has requested permission to use the Texas core as part of its statewide broadband network. Because Motorola writes the software rules that determine what equipment can be used on that network, the company could be positioned to be the logical broadband provider for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency on the southern border.

To put that in context, if a Senate-passed immigration compromise became law, the number of border agents would soar over the next decade from 20,800 to 38,000, each needing a handset.

At a recent conference of financial analysts, Motorola CEO Gregory Brown sounded more eager than worried about broadband. He called the new emergency communications technology “the single best opportunity we have in front of us.”

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/static/features/Motorola/Index.html?brand=sta#storylink=cpy

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What is PMR Radio and Who Uses Them?

A 2 way radio is basically a radio that is structured to transmit and receive. In general, most voice-wireless communications technology, counting cellular systems, are categorized by two way radio definition. Usually, a 2-way radio refers to a radio system primarily utilized for group call communications. This 2 way system is also called PAMR Public Access-Mobile Radio, PMR Private-Mobile Radio, LMR Land-Mobile Raido, and PMR Professional-Mobile Radio.

Portable 2-way radios are frequently called “walkie-talkies” or “handie-talkies.” Not much different from “handie,” the term sometimes used to describe mobile phones. While we’re on the subject, it’s probably best to get something out in the open right now. People often interchange the terms two way radio and walkie-talkie.

However, walkie-talkie is chiefly a generic or slang-term for hand portable 2-way radios. Moreover, the term usually implies non-professional, license free, consumer type, or “toy” equipment. When referring to 2 way radios, people are basically talking about professional licensed equipment. A walkie-talkie is generally a hand-held PMR radio. A 2-way radio is of superior quality and utilizes much higher frequencies. two way radios can also be found in mobile and base-configurations in addition to using radio network-infrastructure.

In addition, 2 way radios are usually decked out with a PTT or “Push-to-Talk” key to trigger the transmitter. Users simply press the PTT key and quickly begin a conversation. The user lets go of the PTT key in order to hear others.

A two way radio user can talk immediately with other radio users or utilize radio network-infrastructure. A direct-talk amongst radios, normally referred to as direct more operation/talk-around mode, has restricted reach because of limited radio power. To defeat this restriction, a radio network-infrastructure can be used to expand the communication range.

WHY USE A 2-WAY RADIO?

With numerous choices in wireless technology today andwith 2-way radios being one of the first wireless devices, some wonder if this type of radio is still a useful gadget in the current world of technological communication. Well actually yes. There are two main features that differentiates two way radios from other wireless gadgets:

-Instantaneous Communication

two way radios offer instant communication. Users can simply press the PTT or “Push-To-Talk” key and inside a fraction of a second, the user can instantly speak and convey their message. This is because of the quick-call setup time entrenched in the technology. This quick communication possibility is one of the main reasons why businesses and organizations prefer 2 way radios for their operational or tactical communications.

-Group Communication

An additional unique feature of 2-way radios is its ability to facilitate “group-calls” or “one-to-many” communications very effectively. This means that one user can easily communicate with one, five, twenty, hundreds, or even thousands of other 2-way radio users simultaneously.

In other words, there’s no need for users to repeat themselves time and again if they need to communicate with more than one user. Moreover, 2-way radios performs perfectly for group communication using a minimal amount of RF channel-resources. If every user were in the same vicinity the majority of the time, they would only need one-channel resources to speak to hundreds of other users.

WHY NOT SIMPLY USE ANY WIRELESS-SYSTEM?

There is an abundance of wireless-technology today, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. The choice of which technology is idea for one’s group or association will depend upon if the technology can satisfy the user’s requirements. For users who need to function in a group, communicate instantly, and remain mobile, a two way radio is the best choice compared to the other wireless technology available on the market today.

You may still wonder how this can be possible with smartphones, iPods, iPhones, tablets, mobile phones available. Here are the main reasons why these technological gadgets may NOT meet the above requirements:

-Instant Communication

Consider this scenario. You are out hiking, run into an emergency situation, and must communicate quickly to confirm your dilemma. If you were using a mobile phone, for instance, you must dial a number, wait while the call is being setup and connected; that’s if you get a signal. The phone must then ring to the other person, and they finally answer, if their voicemail isn’t on! The whole procedure could take several seconds and within that valuable time, your situation could easily worsen.

With a 2-way radio, you simply press the PTT key and yell “emergency” while the other users “immediately” pick-up your signal. This is assuming that RF-channel is accessible. However, there is a way that two way radios features can surmount RF-channel blockage and give highest-priority to emergency calls, a feature not available to other wireless devices.

-Group Communication

Take this example. You need to let your staff know that there has been some changes for a planned meeting. If you have to contact them one at a time, it could become tedious. With a 2 way radio, you can simply select your talk-group, press the PTT key, and begin your message to five, 10, 15, or however many staff members you need to communicate with simultaneously. Now, raise that number to 1000 workers and imagine the work involved if you had to go through cellular phone channels.

Though some wireless systems permit group calls, it usually restricts the amount of group members that you can communicate with at one time. With a 2-way radio, you simply need to speak once and be heard by many.

WHO USES 2-WAY RADIOS?

2 way radios have been utilized for many years by numerous industries and associations. Because of the nature of their operational requirements, they use 2-way radios to broadcast their operational and communicational needs. Organizations and industries that may depend on 2 way radio usage are:

-Public Safety associations such as EMS emergency medical services, police, ambulance service, fire brigade, disaster-recovery agency

-Security like intelligence agencies and military

-Transportation industries like subway, railways, seaports, airports, subways

-Oil and gas companies

-Utility companies like cable TV, telephone, water, gas, electricity

-Construction companies for road and bridges, residential, commercial

-Transport service companies like trucks, limos, taxis

-Hospitality industries like tourism, restaurant, resort, and hotel

-Service industry such as towing and delivery companies

-Government agencies like public works, embassies, municipal, district governments, and ministries

-Manufacturing

-Contractors for roofing, plumbing, excavating, electrical

-And many more…

Overall, those who utilize 2 way radios are frequently businesses or agencies with many staff members or workers who work in groups and are mobile.

TWO WAY RADIOS TODAY

Today, 2 way radios come with additional or improved features from years before. For example, display screens show important information at a quick glance, keypads lock to maintain channel settings, there are various ring-tones and silencers to choose from along with out of range alerts, and much more!

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Benefits of Two Way Radios to the Hotel Industry

Over the years, hotel communication has had to change and develop, becoming more and more efficient than it was. This is courtesy of the advancement in technology over these years. Passed are the days that Two way radios were exclusively for police official use. Nowadays, these pieces of technology that have been improved and made even better are used for hotel communications. These state of the art technology have lots of benefits that any of us have been recipients of in one way or the other. Being in the hospitality industry, I can outline with ease some of the major benefits that these 2 way radios have brought into hospitality.

First and foremost, the service offered to the customers in the hotels has been improved. When taking orders in the restaurants back in the day, the waiters had to go all the way back to the kitchen to request for the order. Okay, this was not much of a problem for the small establishments. However, as the hotel grew and the number of employees grew, the kitchen area would get so crowded that out was difficult to get the job done. With the new 2-way radio technology however, all the waitress have to do is call out the order through the gadget and it is received on the other end saving on the time.

Also, being in the hotel business, I can testify that just like in any other business, there are major up and downs. However, unlike many other businesses, there is no space for screwing up. A single mishaps can cost you millions. The best way to avoid this from happening, is by communicating with the manager and airing out issues that might be there. Communication is key in this business and the sooner an issue is sorted out the faster you can move on and provide quality service to your customers.

Security. Do we really have to spell out the benefits that 2 way radios have with regards to security in the hospitality industry. The hotel industry harbors people of different kinds and who have different intentions. As such, the necessary measures need to be taken to ensure the security of the staff as well as the other peaceable customers. The rate at which the security personnel react to distress calls can be the determining factor to how the security emergency turns out. The Two way radios have greatly increased the speed in which the security personnel respond to security threats and also ensure that they are on top of every situation as every member in the hotel informs them when there is a security risk.

In addition to the above benefits, the 2 way radios are cost effective and are also very easy to use. With the 2 way radios, the management does not have to pay any network provider so that they can communicate. This reduces the cost of operation of the hotel by a great margin. To talk through to the other person on the other end of the line, all you have to do is press a button on the front and you will get through. It is as easy as that.

The benefits of the 2-way radios are numerous. This makes them a major asset to any hotel.

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What is a Communications Engineering

Communications engineering is a disparate array of technological disciplines brought together under one all-encompassing banner. The disciplines considered to be part of a communication engineer’s skill set include telecommunications, mobile phone networks and Internet maintenance (but are by no means limited to those examples).

As we wrote earlier this month, any technology that aids in communication, from a walkie-talkie to a Skype account, is technically a communication technology; therefore, it also follows that anybody who works in these different areas can call him/herself a communications engineer.

The theory behind this move is that communications technology is becoming more streamlined and, to some extent, more homogenized (think of the ubiquity of mobile phones and social media) and so, it makes sense to bring communications technology together as a single subject as well.

As I type this, it is actually possible to get a Degree in Communications Engineering (as a single subject) from many universities worldwide. However, communications engineers frequently hold other Degrees such as electrical engineering, physics, telecommunications and/or computer science.

The sort of students that apply for courses like this (and subsequently work in the related areas) are generally logistically minded, tech-savvy people who are comfortable learning new skills and adapt quickly to new technology. Certainly, the money can be good for a decent engineer with a good reputation and an up-to-date skill set. Industries that rely on the expedient exchange of information (news networks, the stock exchange, big businesses and etc) should be the goal for the ambitious communications engineer (as well as the eager graduate).

Communications engineering is a vast and somewhat esoteric subject, because it combines so many different disciplines. Ideally, good communications engineers would be just as able to handle microwave engineering as they would a downed computer network, so it takes a smart cookie to be really good at the job.

Communications engineers are often quite business savvy as well. A big part of the job is dealing with clients or management, making presentations and working effectively as part of a team. Experience of modern business practice is not essential, but from the looks of things, it certainly helps.

The vast majority of communications engineers work for specific telecommunications companies and/or manufacturers, although some are self-employed as consultants or on fixed contracts.

According to Targetjobs.co.uk, typical job responsibilities for a communications engineer include: undertaking site surveys, agreeing to and staying within a client budget, staying up-to-date with technological information, problem solving (obviously!), creating test procedures, creating ‘worst case scenario’ plans for companies to follow and presenting companies/clients with the best way to manage their communication systems.

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What Does Two Way Radio Mean?

A two way radio is one that can transmit and receive. It is also called a transceiver. The two way radio definition encompasses most of the wireless or cellular systems. Portable devices which use the two way radio system are called walkie talkies or handie-talkies. The transmitter on a two way radio device is turned on by pressing a push-to-talk button. Pushing this button sets you free to start talking through the device. There is normally another person on the other end of the conversation, or a group of people who have devices which use the two way radio system.

The 2 way radio technology is one of the earliest wireless network technologies. Despite the fact that there are countless other ways of wireless communication due to innovation, the two way radio system is still viable and used by people to widen their communication range.

It is mainly used due to the following two main advantaged:

Communication is Instant

The two way radio system enables instant communication. Within a fraction of a second after pushing the push-to-talk button, you would be able to pass on your messages . This has been made possible by a quick call set-up time integrated in this technology. The reliance of organizations on the two way radio system is founded on the fact that the device enables instant communication.

Group Communication is Possible With This Technology

This is a distinct feature of the two way radio technology. The capability of this system to create a scenario where a whole group communicates even from distances apart is also called “group call”. It is very efficient in that one caller is able to convey a message to up to thousands of other users at the same time. Not one user receives his/ her message later than the others in a group call. The conveyor of the message does not need to repeat himself/ herself so that the message is heard by everyone in the group communicating. Very little radio frequency channel resources are used during the group communication, meaning that it is not a way that utilizes so much of an organization’s resources.

Benefits of a Two Way Radio System of Communication

All wireless technology systems of communication have their advantages and disadvantages. Organizations or groups have their preferences in regards to how they conduct their day-to-day businesses.

A two way radio system of communication is superior to other systems of wireless communication due to the following key reasons:

o It is suitable for people who are mobile hence are rarely together to carry out their duties and responsibilities close to each other.

o It is suitable for communicating among a group of people.

o Communication using the two way radio system is instant.

The aspect of a two way radio system of instant communication enables emergencies to be handled pretty fast. A situation that requires urgent attention can be attended to as fast as possible. A cellular phone would be a great option for communication of emergencies, just that, they take time as the person on the other end of the call has got to receive first so that the message is conveyed. The few seconds or possibly even a minute as the phone rings could create an avenue for the situation to worsen. A two way radio system only requires you to push a button and then convey the message straight-up, as long as the radio frequency channels are available. In the event of congestion on the radio frequency channels, the two way radio system is designed to overcome this and create a priority in the event of an emergency. This feature is not available to other technologies of the wireless system.

Conclusion

The two way radio system is very efficient and economical. Making phonecalls to more than 5 members of a particular group would be pretty expensive as compared to conveying messages through a two way radio system. It would also take time to call one member after the other, a situation that would not arise with the two way radio technology.

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Managing to Manage Radio Communications Within Facilities Management

Facilities management is a complex and challenging role, often presenting a problem even to those who attempt to define it.

Essentially, the management requirements vary from facility to facility. The one constancy, to put it simply, involves handling the basic functions of the facility in question, allowing the other related businesses to go about their own day-to-day functions.

Facilities management is a £173bn a year industry, but it would be nothing without the use of two-way radios.

For a job that requires interaction with so many people and related parties, communication is key.

Think of a retail centre, an office block, a school or a hospital. Now imagine how many people visit, work in or use such a place, every single day. It boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

For now, let’s focus on the example of a retail centre. This space is likely to have multiple shops (all of which with their own staff, customers and management personnel, as well as health, safety and security concerns), car parks (which need to be monitored regularly), cafeterias and eateries, toilet facilities (including baby changing facilities) and an on-site office for the smooth running of things – and that’s just for starters.

The manager of such a facility will need to be able to speak to everyone, at any time. Two-way radios are the only clear and reliable way to achieve this. The manager will need to respond to safety issues, security concerns and any other problems that arise, she/he will be responsible for emergency procedures, use of resources and the smooth operation of the site itself, every single day.

Even analogue radios struggled with these tasks, so now most sites are using digital radios to relieve reception loss in various signal ‘black spots’ that were plaguing the bigger and more complex sites around the world.

For the modern facilities manager, a quick, clean and efficient two-way radio network, capable of supporting each and every layer of management, security, outside contractors, businesses, vendors and any other related group is absolutely essential to the smooth running of things.

Two-way radios are a massively important element of most contemporary businesses. The same system employed by the emergency services, the armed forces, building contractors and police is being used, every day, in our leisure facilities, shopping centres, office spaces and housing properties. Two-way radios are an amazing, indispensable part of day-to-day life across countless industries the world over.

 

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Do I Need a Radio License in the UK?

The short answer is yes. If you are planning on using a radio system for commercial purposes anywhere in the UK, you will need a radio broadcast licence. According to Ofcom’s official site,

“If you use a radio system for your business then you will need a licence from Ofcom. Business radio users range from taxi companies and factories, to hospitals, care homes, industrial sites and transport operators. To begin the licensing process – and learn more about the specific licence you’ll need – (it then diverts you to a special application link)”.

The quote below is from Icom UK.co.uk. They offer a comprehensive page that you should probably check out before buying your radios. Their advice as is follows:

“You will need a radio licence to operate your two way business radios. This is issued by the Government Agency, Ofcom. Licensed frequencies are allocated on a case-by-case basis. You can get your dealer to program them into your radio”.

They also advise the buyer to,

“Get your local dealer to help with the licence application, they will advise on the best way to apply to get the channel you need”.

And also say that,

“If you wish to use your radios all over the UK and are not based in one fixed location, you can apply for a Business Radio Simple UK licence which is £75, renewable every 5 years”.

 

On the subject of price, it does appear that I can’t tell you how much it’s likely to cost, as pricing is an individual thing and it depends on your needs. When asked how much a licence will cost, Icom UK says,

 

“OK, the big question…unfortunately that is the one question we cannot answer, but your local Icom business radio dealer can. Often you will find that the radios you actually need are much more affordable than some you might have first looked at. Icom have a very comprehensive range at all price levels while still having the same quality and you could consider spreading the immediate cost by leasing rather than outright purchase”.

Icom then provide a link to finding a UK dealer, which I’ll add to this answer HERE.

Basically, any business radio use will require a licence, so it’s pretty important that you learn as much as you can about them (and what they entitle you to do).

Do not be disheartened, however, gaining license to broadcast isn’t as difficult as you might think and the costs are likely to be more manageable than you’re probably dreading they will be. Whatever you think of it, you’ll have to pay the fee, that’s just the way it is. In America, the FCC governs the licensing. Here in the UK, broadcast licensing is maintained and regulated by Ofcom (as stated earlier).

According to Walkie-Talkie radio.co.uk, there is a reason beyond naked profiteering:

“Most countries have some government agency in charge of who can use what radio frequencies. This is necessary to ensure that different organizations can use radio communications effectively without interfering with each other”.

So do a little research, fill out a couple of forms and move on to the next problem.

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Shop & Chat: Radios in Retail

For us, the customers, shopping can be a fun-filled trip into town on a pleasant sun-dappled afternoon, complete with good company, interesting conversation and tasty treats.

However, a shop is actually a lot more than a pleasing Saturday afternoon’s distraction for the people who run it. The average high street store is, in fact, a tightly run combination of clever marketing, well-planned store layouts and hard working employees, all of which come together to create a state of the art consumer environment. Two-way radios are a big part of this operation.

How? Well, there’s health and safety to consider first and foremost. Shoppers need to be protected, with rapid medical attention provided should any problem befall them.

Then, there’s security of course. Allegedly, in 2009 alone, over 800,000 people were arrested for shoplifting. The following year, The BBC reported that shoplifting had cost UK stores £4.4bn in less than a year. Apparently, thefts add around £180 to the average family’s annual shopping bill. Security employees need to be more vigilant than ever, but without imposing their presence on (and thus discouraging) innocent shoppers.

A reliable two-way radio system is a great way to achieve this. Using radios, security personnel can monitor a potential situation quietly and discreetly, questioning (and if need be, apprehending) the suspect without causing too much of a fuss.

But those aren’t the only reasons that radios are vital to a retail environment. Staff and shoppers need to be protected from potentially volatile situations as well. We’ve all seen a seemingly mundane situation grow out of control for one reason or another and it’s down to the store’s management to see that these incidents are controlled and diffused in a quick and professional manner.

Of course, we also need to consider the larger retail environments like shopping malls and large centres of commerce. Across areas as big and sprawling as these can be, security, safety and customer comfort are all key concerns that become that much harder to monitor and manage. On that scale, every concern becomes amplified. In these situations, radios need to be reliable, able to operate over long distances and run with a relatively long battery life.

Two-way radios are ideal for the task at hand, allowing management to oversee complex operations and staff to perform their duties in a safe and respectful working environment. Without two way radios, a Saturday afternoon’s shopping would be a far less appealing prospect…

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What Causes the ‘Static’ Sound on Walkie-Talkies?

Essentially, radio static during a call is a sign that the signal strength is degrading (or that there is no signal coming through at all). When signal strength degrades sufficiently, the static sound emerges.

When there is no message coming through, it’s a slightly different story. A walkie-talkie has what’s known as a ‘squelch’ control circuit that keeps tabs on the signal strength. The squelch circuit will mute the speaker as soon as it realizes that there is no signal coming through to the device. This is, essentially, the same function as your TV has when it cuts off an unavailable channel after a preset time. However, in the moments before your walkie-talkie ‘squelches’ the sound, you will hear static, or ‘white noise’ as its also called.

‘Squelching’ is a pretty vital part of any/all broadcasting equipment. The method used in your walkie-talkie is called a ‘carrier squelch’ and is more than likely to be manually adjustable.

From Wikipedia (as of 17th of May 2013):

“A carrier squelch or noise squelch is the most simple variant of all. It operates strictly on the signal strength, such as when a television mutes the audio or blanks the video on “empty” channels, or when a walkie talkie mutes the audio when no signal is present. In some designs, the squelch threshold is preset. For example, television squelch settings are usually preset. Receivers in base stations at remote mountain top sites are usually not adjustable remotely from the control point.

In devices such as two-way radios (also known as radiotelephones), the squelch can be adjusted with a knob, others have push buttons or a sequence of button presses. This setting adjusts the threshold at which signals will open (un-mute) the audio channel. Backing off the control will turn on the audio, and the operator will hear white noise (also called “static” or squelch noise) if there is no signal present”.

So what is ‘white noise?’ According to Joe Shambro, writing for About.com’s guide to home recording,

“White noise is a static sound that has equal energy on every frequency. Think about this for a second: every frequency from 20Hz to 20kHz is equally represented at the same velocity; this type of frequency scale is called a “linear” scale. This gives the noise a uniform, static sound that the human ear detects as somewhat harsh and heavy-handed toward the high frequencies. However, white noise represents a very unnatural way of presenting frequency data in terms of how our ears work.”

If you’re experiencing signal degradation on your walkie-talkie, there may be several causes for this. ‘Wireless Woman’ a blogger with an excellent site about two-way radios, has this to say:

Signal loss can happen in any number of places in the system. Antennas may not properly direct the signal toward the horizon. Cables to repeaters may need replacement. Connectors can be corroded. Finally, the quality of the system may not be adequate. The old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies to two-way radios, and their quality does vary. Receiver specifications, engineering, tuning, the antenna, and even design generally improve as the price increases. This really happened: Two public safety officers were at a scene. One was using a radio that cost more that twice as much as the other. Guess which one could hear and which one couldn’t?”

So there you go.

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The Long Road Home: Radios for Transports and Fleets

According to the UK Government, there were an estimated 5.2 billion bus passenger journeys undertaken on our roads in 2011/2012. Public and private transportation is not only big business; it is also of massive importance to the smooth running of the country.

Whilst only 14% of the UK’s 25 million commuters travel to work by bus or train, this still accounts for over 1.7 million people. In order for a country this reliant on public transport to survive and thrive, it is absolutely imperative that transport workers can communicate with each other in a quick, efficient manner, fuelling an industry that, by necessity, spans the length and breadth of the nation.

Two-way radios provide the solutions to this monumental challenge.

Rail, bus, fleet and trucking management make use of two-way radios in order to keep up to speed with vital information. Drivers and managers can easily contact command and control centres, as well as liaising with depot staff and even customers, all due to using their radios. Together with integrated GPS systems, radios help transport and fleet workers to track deliveries in real time, as well as informing would-be passengers or commuters of any delays or early arrivals.

But it isn’t just truckers making deliveries, commuters travelling to and from work and trains running on time. Public transport is one of the most important aspects of the tourism industry, itself a large part of Britain’s economy. Visitors flock from almost every country on Earth in order to visit popular sites like Stonehenge, The Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and the beautiful city of Bath. Without a reliable public transport system, our tourism industry would be seriously harmed.

So, in order to keep things running as smoothly as possible, all relevant personnel are equipped with a two-way radio so that they can keep in direct contact with their colleagues, peers and managers. This also allows for speedy customer service, as well as up-to-date and reliable information.

Health and safety is also a huge concern regarding public transport and, since the tragedy of the London bombings 8 years ago, security is also a large issue. Workers specializing in either area find their radios to be among the most vital of their tools.

Transport companies employ a veritable army of security staff, as well as first-aiders all of whom are connected via rugged and reliable two-way radios.

Without radios, the country’s public transport system could very well come to a standstill. The roads and railways of Britain are, at least in some ways, kept in operation via a network of two-way radios.

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Hotels, Holiday Resorts & Radios: A Match Maid in Heaven

The tourism industry is a big one, with various holiday seasons bringing in huge revenues around the world, year in, year out. In some cases, tourism profits are actually vital to the survival of small towns and resort areas, as well as major factors in the host country’s GDP.

Approximately 30 Million people visit the UK from all over the world each year (and we don’t even get nice weather!). Drawn to our many sites of cultural interest, even more of historical interest, or just a slice on English country life, these tourists are actually a considerable part of our economy.

Holiday resorts and hotels are an extremely important variable in this equation. In the first instance, the availability of airport parking, conveniently situated bed and breakfast facilities, or luxurious hotel/spa complexes are of paramount importance to our tourism industry. However, in the second, garnering a reputation for sterling customer service is also absolutely key, both to the business survival of a hotel/resort facility and to the continued attractiveness of our little cluster of islands.

In the UK, we offer our visitors an intriguing mixture of world-class nightlife, casinos and holiday destinations with calmer, more sedate activities like country walks, historical tours and shopping opportunities.

In order to keep our visitors happy, British hotel staff are using two-way radios more and more in their quest to deliver perfect service and garner that all-important word-of-mouth recommendation, as well as that even-more-important second booking.

Two-way radios provide instant customer service, as well as an increased level of health and safety awareness. There is a great comfort to be had in the knowledge that a dedicated, world-class staff are only a click away from delivering anything you could possibly want, at any time you could possibly want it.

The ability to liaise with housekeeping staff, for example, can allow cleaners to focus on a specific room, adding a priority to that particular space that will greatly reduce the time spent waiting around in the bar. These staff, rather than being rushed off their feet, can quickly and easily arrange for fresh linen to be sent up, or clean towels and so on and so forth…

Also, with business professionals carrying potentially sensitive equipment or information, a good hotel will be very security conscious. Two-way radios allow for an enhanced security presence, which is a key selling point of any hotel or resort complex.

Ultimately, two-way radios are becoming a hugely important piece of our tourism industry.

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Keeping You Safe: Two-Way Radios in High Security

These are troubling times for our nation and indeed for the world at large. Our little corner of the history books will be blighted by a global recession and civil unrest as political opportunists fan the flames of religious and racial tensions. In the midst of all this turbulence, there’s us, the regular people, caught up in the middle of the maelstrom.

In a world fraught with buzzwords like ‘terrorism’ ‘counter-terrorism’ ‘contamination’ ‘organized crime’ and ‘data theft’, its easy to feel like you’re always at risk, only ever one diplomatic blunder or power hungry madman away from World War 3. In such a world, an increase in security is often felt to be the only way to achieve peace of mind. Enter the world’s high security professionals.

Whether providing security for public figures, guarding prominent buildings, patrolling national boundaries or keeping the Internet safe from hackers, high security is an enormous and varied industry that demands much from its workers. Public and private security firms are stretched to deal with all the issues and potential problems that they have to tackle.

Fortunately, two-way radios make their work a lot easier. The same type of radios that are used by the military can be affordably purchased by the security services, as and when needed.

These radios are rugged and durable, they can withstand almost any weather type and they have strong, long lasting batteries that allow for hours of field work. Two-way radios are by far the quickest and most reliable form of portable communication, not as clumsy as a pager or as temperamental as a phone. In addition, two-way radios are incredibly easy to use, meaning that training is a doddle.

Working alongside state-of-the-art surveillance technology, non-lethal weaponry and bleeding edge computer security programs, the simple, effective (and simply effective) two-way radio is still the security services first and finest friend.

Whether on foot or in vehicles, whether standing guard or co-ordinating the efforts of a team, two-way radios are an absolutely indispensable part of the high security industry, making them a vital component of the nation’s peace of mind.

You’ll find two-way radios helping to keep secure our data centres, cash warehouses, government buildings, military bases, secure storage facilities and even more sites than we have the space to name.

The world may be a conflicted, sometimes frightening place, but the high security workers around the globe are helping us to sleep at night and using two-way radios to do it.

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