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All cases are special cases

Seth Godin - Tue 24th Nov 2015 21:11
The art of the successful institution is figuring out which cases are special enough to deserve a fresh eye. It's virtually impossible to scale an institution that insists on making a new decision every time it encounters a new individual....        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime News: LCA2016 Optiver Diversity Programme Announced

Planet Linux Australia - Tue 24th Nov 2015 19:11 2016, in partnership with Optiver, are very proud to announce our diversity programme for 2016! LCA2016 and Optiver are proud to be able to support diversity in our community. The Optiver Diversity Programme is intended to ensure that continues to be a safe, open, and welcoming conference for everyone. Together with Optiver the programme has been developed to assist delegates from under-represented cohorts who contribute to the Open Source community but, without financial assistance, would not be able to attend LCA2016. For more information please see our Optiver Diversity Programme page
Categories: thinktime

David Rowe: SM2000 VHF Open Digital Voice Radio Part 1

Planet Linux Australia - Tue 24th Nov 2015 09:11

For the last month I’ve been working hard on prototyping the SM2000 – an open source VHF radio. It’s purpose is to test some advanced VHF/UHF ideas I have for FreeDV.

The SM2000 will be a small box (like the SM1000), that contains a fully functional VHF SDR Digital Voice radio. It will run advanced open source Digital Voice modes, have a 1W power output and adequate tx/rx filtering for real-world operation on the 2M band. No Host PC required. Open Hardware and Software, price TBD but a few hundreds of $. It will also run analog FM but no modes with a proprietary codec.

Just yesterday I demonstrated demodulation of 1200 bits/s 2FSK at -135dBm, right in line with predicted performance.

This is an important milestone. Analog FM and first generation digital voice (D-star/DMR/C4FM and friends) fall over at about -120dBm. One of my aims is equivalent performance to these systems at 10dB lower. With completely open hardware and software.


I need custom RF hardware to develop and demonstrate VHF DV ideas I have formed over the past year. However I am not a RF expert, am just one guy, and have limited resources. So I will focus on those areas that I can uniquely contribute to. Choose my battles. In other areas (e.g. certain aspects of RF performance), I will just shoot for acceptable.

I have a similar approach to architecture. There are many ways to build a radio, and I have chosen one that suits me at this time. Feel free to warm up your soldering iron and substitute your own favourite.

What I care about:

  • I don’t trust any part of the modem being in hardware. This means software defined waveforms, and SSB style up and down conversion. Direct FM is out. And don’t get me started on data running through analog FM modems.
  • TDMA needs a “bare metal” uC for hard real time, so no OS. Host PC/USB peripheral type designs won’t work.
  • Functional demos of advanced features such as sub -130dBm Digital Voice, $100 TDMA repeater, diversity to handle multipath, low cost, open hardware and software.
  • No chip sets or SoCs. This is open source. I need control.
  • Don’t have to a tick all boxes first time around.

Less important:

  • Minimal cost
  • Sparkling RF performance in areas such as phase noise, IP3, blocking, ACR, high tx power, multi-band operation, low spurious, power consumption. The RF Gurus can do that better than me so I’ll leave it to them.
  • Gold plating – is the feature going to add to our schedule? Can anyone else implement it? Will it introduce risk? Who will step up to make it happen?

Your Suggestions Welcome

But I’ll probably ignore them. What I really want is your contribution. If you want your-favourite-must-have-feature to happen, step up and make it happen. Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I get overwhelmed by well-meaning people with inspired ideas, and underwhelmed when I ask them to help implement those ideas.

Can you make my TODO list shorter, not longer? Now you have my attention.

Receiver Design

The receiver is a dual conversion superhet, with IFs at 10.7MHz and 24kHz. It is designed primarily for constant amplitude waveforms such as FSK, so does not have an AGC.

I used this Gain and Noise Spreadsheet as a tool to design the radio. It calculates cascaded NF, the NF of the ADC, and the gain required to get the MDS we need. I also have some sub-sections that I plug numbers into as I test, e.g. for NF calculations, and tuned circuit calculations. Very useful.

I haven’t designed the first BPF yet, but anticipate it will have a low loss (to maintain system NF), and a fairly broad response.

The PGA103 is a 0.5dB NF, 20dBm input IP3, 20dB gain block which sets up the overall receiver noise figure of 1.5dB. It’s major disadvantage is high power consumption (90mA at 5V), so I am considering a discrete transistor amplifier here.

The BPF near the mixer provides attenuation of out of band signals. Through a process of slightly mystified experimentation I have settled on a double tuned circuit:

Which has a response like this:

For reasons I do not understand (parasitic capacitive coupling?) changing the position of the coils relative to each other sets the position of the notches. I’ve set up the 60dB notch on the 126MHz image frequency. I’ve built it a couple of times with the same dimensions and the response is quite predictable. Each coil is 6 turns wound on a 1/4 inch drill bit, with a tap at half a turn for the 50 ohms input and output. The other end of each coil has a 12pF trimmer cap.

A Si5351 is employed for the local oscillators. For the purists I will include a Si570 option for the first LO. The RF switch for the two Si5351 outputs is to support diversity (two channel) reception. The radio can quickly shift to a channel a few hundred kHz away to receive a packet, effectively receiving on two frequencies at the same time.

I’m using a SBL-1 mixer but will move to an ADE-1. The RF Gurus tell me that termination of the IF port of the mixer is important. So I’m using a 15dB gain Termination Insensitive Amplifier (TIA) that presents a 50 ohm load to the mixer over a wide range of frequencies. I swept the TIA input using a return loss bridge and confirmed around 20dB return loss out to 300MHz (the sum of the LO and RF signals). The TIA has bandwidth of 50MHz which should effectively filter out the LO+RF IF signal.

A 10.7MHz 15kHz wide crystal filter attenuates off channel signals (47dB down at +/- 25kHz) and performs bandpass anti-aliasing filtering for the ADC. To get a nice flat response there is some impedance matching either side of the crystal filter.

I messed around with a few 2nd mixers (sub harmonic, discrete transistor, diode). I had some problems with noise when using a transistor mixer (LO injected into emitter, RF into base) which held me up for a few days. Then I tried a NE602 and it worked really well, and provides some gain. With a good Z-match on the input the 2nd mixer noise problem was gone. So that will do for now.

The baseband amp takes the 24 kHz IF and boosts it 50dB before feeding it to the uC ADC. It’s just two transistors with emitter degeneration to set the gain. The ADC is configured to sample at 96kHz, and upload samples to a Host PC via USB. I can then use a GNU Octave script (e.g. fsk_horus.m) to demodulate the FSK signal.


I am designing for test, e.g. using 50 ohm building blocks. This allows me to break out each section and test separately, for example sweeping the crystal filter, or driving the TIA with a 10.7MHz FSK signal, or measuring NF of a section.

I have been testing the Bit Error Rate (BER) performance from the very early building block stage. This measure neatly defines the performance of a digital radio. Much better to test BER early than wait for final integration and have dozens of problems to solve. We want to know as soon as possible if there is a problem.

This block diagram shows an example of testing from the IF down:

I modified the fsk_horus modem to support 1200 bit/s and a sample rate of Fs=96kHz. This is a well tested modem that has performance bang on ideal.

Component Selection

The radio is implemented with garden variety transistors, the most exotic parts being the ECS M15B crystal filter, SBL-1 mixer, PGA-103 LNA, and NE602. There are no transformers. I have used some toroids to wind my own inductors however these are not critical in terms of Q or tolerance and can be replaced with off the shelf parts.

There are three trimmer capacitors that need aligning with the use of a spectrum analyser. Although it may be possible to have an alignment mode, e.g. use the Si5351 to sweep a test signal, sample the signal and display a spectrum on a Host PC.

I used Manhattan style construction:

The two PCBs in the background are a STM32F4 Discovery board and an OpenRadio where I’m just using for it’s Si5351 outputs.

I didn’t even need a printed circuit board to prototype and reach the -135dBm performance milestone. This has allowed me to remove a large chunk of risk from the project very early on – a huge benefit.

I think it’s remarkable that with rough construction, no shielding, a poor layout to the STM32F4 ADC, I can demodulate such weak signals. I guess the engineering is subtle and not related to the physical appearance. It does go crazy when I key my HT next to it though!

When we do move to a PCB the same parts in surface mount packages will result in a nice compact design.

Next Steps

  • Build a 1W transmitter prototype. In particular deal with RF amplifiers and diode switching to make a TDMA transciever.
  • Testing of the receiver, e.g. other specs apart from MDS
  • Work with Rick, KA8BMA, to develop a Rev A prototype PCB version of the entire radio.
  • Lots of software work
  • The 1200 bit/s 2FSK modem has been used so far as it’s what I had lying around. For the final system I’m favouring 4FSK at 2400 bit/s which I estimate will work at -132dBm. So need to get 4FSK running soon.
  • Work towards functional demonstration of the project goals.

I haven’t planned any further forward. I’m not sure when a SM2000 product will emerge. Some time in 2016 I guess. Sooner if you help!

Command Lines

I’m documenting this here so I don’t forget.

Use fsk_horus to generate modem signal at Fs=96kHz. Use hackrf_uc.m to up-convert to IQ samples at Fs=10MHz for replay by the HackRF. hackrf_uc.m also adds a 700kHz offset (IQ designs have a black hole at DC).

For testing the IF we can then play a 10.7MHz signal from HackRF using:

/codec2-dev/octave$ hackrf_transfer -t -f 10000000 -a 1 -x 20

For testing at 146MHz input of the radio use:

~/codec2-dev/octave$ hackrf_transfer -t -f 145300000 -a 0 -x 15

Note the 700kHz offset.

In both cases adjust the -a and -x options and use an attenuator to get the level you want for testing. The level can be checked on a spec-an, although this gets tricky beneath -120dBm.

Simultaneously sample by flashing the STM32F4 Discovery with adc_rec_usb.elf, and then upload Fs=96kHz samples using:

~/codec2-dev/octave$ sudo dd if=/dev/ttyACM0 of=test.raw count=10000

Then demod using fsk_horus:

octave:109> fsk_horus

Fs: 96000 Rs: 1200 Ts: 80 nsym: 1200

demod of raw bits....

centre: 23976 shift: 1272 twist: -1.4 dB

coarse offset: 1192 nerrs_min: 25 next_state: 1


frames: 13 Tbits: 14400 Terrs: 2 BER 0.000 EbNo: 12.23

Here is a plot of the STM3F4 ADC with -135dBm at the rx input:

You can see the passband of the crystal filter – the internal noise from the radio front end passed through the filter creates the trapezoidal spectral shape at the input to the ADC. The two lines in the centre are the low and high FSK tones centered on the 24kHz IF, the hump of “noise” between them are part of the FSK signal. Not sure what that line around 17kHz is all about.

The lines on the far left are harmonics of the 1.2kHz interrupt service routine on the STM32F4. I cleaned most of this noise up with some power supply filtering, it was initially 20dB higher and all over the spectrum:

A little noise goes a long way with 100dB of gain.

Measuring Noise Figure with the Rigol DSA-815

After lots of reading on NF and a few false starts, I can now reliably measure noise figures, e.g. in my LNA, mixer, BPF, and IF amplifiers. For example the TIA amplifier is spec-ed at 5 dB and I measured 5.2dB. I have also measured the single (BPF in front) and double sided NF of the SBL-1 mixer and they were 3dB apart.

You need to have noise above the noise floor of the 815. With the 815 terminated in 50 ohms I measured -162dBm/Hz, which suggests a NF of 12dB. With gains of greater than 20dB on the device or system you are measuring, the numbers from the 815 start to make sense. So plan your tests such that the measured No is higher than -140dBm/Hz.

Here are the Rigol settings I use:

  1. Amplitude: attenuation 0dB. Pre-amp On
  2. BW/Det: sample
  3. Trace/P/F: Power average
  4. Marker Function: No function (to measure gain) Noise Marker (to measure No)

The procedure is: measure the gain G using a test signal, then switch the test signal off, terminate with 50 ohms, and measure No (noise power/Hz). NF = No – G + 174.

Here is my working for an earlier LNA-Mixer-IF amp combination:

Input power  -80.00

Output power -10.00

Gain          70.00

Noise pwr   -102.20  

NF             1.80

My design had a calculated NF of 1.3dB, so 1.8dB is reasonable given the 1.5dB accuracy of the 815. I have a spreadsheet setup so I can just plug the numbers in.


Mel K0PFX, and Jim, N0OBG for buying me the spec-an, which has been invaluable. Neil, VK5KA, for RF advice; John VK3IC and Craig VK3CDN for cables, test equipment, and RF advice; Matt, VK5ZM and Brady for bouncing ideas off; Glen English for RF guidance and in particular explaining ADC NF.

Brady pointed me at the DSP10 2M radio from 1999 which turns out is very similar to what I have come up with! Some very similar design decisions, and a useful example for me.

Categories: thinktime

Thanksgiving reminder

Seth Godin - Tue 24th Nov 2015 06:11
Today's a good day to download The Thanksgiving Reader. It's free to share, of course. We're gratified at the huge number of families that have already downloaded and printed a copy. And the creative ways people are choosing to share...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Is productive the same as busy?

Seth Godin - Mon 23rd Nov 2015 21:11
No one complains of having spent an entire day doing 'productive work'. Busywork, on the other hand, is mindnumbing. It's possible that if you have a job where your tasks (your busy-ness) is programmed by someone else, that being busy...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Sam Watkins: sswam

Planet Linux Australia - Mon 23rd Nov 2015 18:11

I like the Chrome browser, but the memory usage is fscking ridiculous.

I have a slightly older computer at work, if I open 4 or more tabs in Chrome the computer will grind to a halt, and I gotta wait perhaps a few minutes for it to swap everything out then I can close the tabs. 150MB for a tab, that’s just way way way too much.

Personally I strongly dislike “virtual memory” in the sense of swapping to disk. I’d much rather get a (non-fatal) “out of memory” error than have the computer grind to a halt, which is what happens when a virtual memory computer goes a bit over its RAM. I don’t want to click a different window that I haven’t used for a while and have to wait for 3 minutes while the computer loads it from disk again and tries to figure out what to swap out. If we didn’t use swap, programmers (looking at you, Google) would be more careful not to waste memory.

Computers are not all that much more functional than they were in to 1990s, or even the 1980s, for regular office tasks such as wordprocessing and spreadsheets – and those computers although technically slower were actually more responsive in many cases because they did NOT grind to a halt due to swapping.


Categories: thinktime

OpenSTEM: The Robots Are Coming!

Planet Linux Australia - Mon 23rd Nov 2015 18:11

The first Mirobot v2 kits have arrived in Australia! Ben Pirt at Pirt Design & Technology in the UK has once again delivered a very neat product. OpenSTEM is the main distributor for Australia, because we regularly get in quite a few for schools and individual students anyhow.

Most of our Mirobots are extra special, because we get them un-soldered. That is, there are a few SMD (surface mounted) components, but other than that students (of all ages!) can do a bit of soldering! This is part of our Robotics Program, where Soldering and otherwise assembling a moving product from all the loose parts is a real enabler – so with the v2 coming out in pre-soldered form by default, we had a word with Ben to ensure that we can keep doing the great stuff with the classes!

This does mean that for every shipment we get, we need to prep a few extra bits before sending on the kits or using them in the classroom. So we’re working on that now for this first shipment. There’ll be more – if you want a kit (un-soldered or pre-soldered), do get your order in soon!

Categories: thinktime News: Crowd favourite Bacon to headline

Planet Linux Australia - Mon 23rd Nov 2015 07:11

Newly-appointed Director of Community at GitHub, Jono Bacon, will be one of four outstanding keynotes for in February 2016. Bacon, formerly Community Manager at Canonical - the company behind Linux distribution Ubuntu, and author of the best-selling ‘The Art of Community’, will deliver insights into building strong, effective, diverse and successful technical communities.

Bacon shared his enthusiasm for keynoting “I am absolutely delighted to be joining you all in Geelong in 2016. LCA is a cornerstone in the global Linux and Open Source movement and I am not only excited about speaking but also getting to know all the attendees at the event”, Bacon says.

Conference Director, David Bell, was thrilled to announce Mr Bacon as Keynote Speaker.

“Our theme for 2016 is ‘Life is better with Linux’ - and the strength of our Linux and open source communities contribute significantly to that aspiration. Robust, diverse, and inclusive communities happen by design, not accident, and Jono has done an enormous amount to shape that. It’s truly an honour to be able to host him in Geelong in February.”

One of the most respected technical conferences in Australia, Linux Conference Australia ( will make Geelong home between 1st-5th February 2016. The conference is expected to attract over 500 national and international professional and hobbyist developers, technicians and innovative hardware specialists, and will feature nearly 100 Speakers and presentations over five days. Deakin University’s stunning Waterfront Campus will host the conference, leveraging state of the art networking and audio visual facilities.

The conference delivers Delegates a range of presentations and tutorials on topics such as open source hardware, open source operating systems and open source software, storage, containers and related issues such as patents, copyright and technical community development.

Linux is a computer operating system, in the same way that MacOS, Windows, Android and iOS are operating systems. It can be used on desktop computers, servers, and increasingly on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Linux embodies the ‘open source’ paradigm of software development, which holds that source code – the code that is used to give computers and mobile devices functionality – should be ‘open’. That is, the source code should be viewable, modifiable and shareable by the entire community. There are a number of benefits to the open source paradigm, including facilitating innovation, sharing and re-use. The ‘open’ paradigm is increasingly extending to other areas such as open government, open culture, open health and open education.

Potential Delegates and Speakers are encouraged to remain up to date with conference news through one of the following channels;

  • Website:
  • Twitter: @linuxconfau, hashtag #lca2016
  • Facebook:
  • Google+:
  • Lanyrd:
  • IRC: on
  • Email:
  • Announce mailing list:

We warmly encourage you to forward this announcement to technical communities you may be involved in.

Jono Bacon will be one of four keynotes for 2016 in Geelong
Categories: thinktime

Binh Nguyen: How Wasteful is the US DoD?, How Groundbreaking is the JSF?, and More

Planet Linux Australia - Mon 23rd Nov 2015 02:11
It's clear that I've been doing some digging of late with regards to US DoD and Intelligence spending. What's obvious is that large chunks of it are extremely wasteful but other parts are very underfunded which gives a very bad overall look to it. Some ex-defense/intelligence officials have stated that if they could run things more efficiently they could probably halve their spending and still get the same level of efficacy from their services. The main problems appear to be purchasing equipment that they don't need, repetition of programs/work, inadequate ovesight and corruption, lack of project management (whether in the defense or intelligence sector things seem to be caught very late in the game), high costs of ownership and/or research and development, overly ambitious programs, etc...

The following is a random sample of some of the US DoD's modern programs with some very rudimentary research regarding their status. Next to them is an indicator of whether they are likely on or off budget as well as status (in brackets)

- Bell V-22 Osprey Program (OVER BUT IN)

- Boeing Comanche (OVER AND CANCELLED)


- Ford Class Aircraft Carriers (OVER BUT IN)

- Apache Helicopter (OVER BUT IN)

- Seawolf class submarine (NOT ENOUGH INFO, LIKELY OVER)

- Virginia class submarine (UNDER COST AND IN)







- Zumwalt Class Destroyer (OVER)


- B-1/XB-70 (OVER)



- Arleigh Burke Class (NOT ENOUGH INFO, LIKELY ON)




The other thing we should factor in is that even though the US may enjoy a qualitative (and quantitative) edge it's clear that they have security issues possibly owing to the size of some of their programs and some very odd issues which have cropped up in the security of some of their equipment. For instance, it's speculated that some of their drones may have been jammed/hacked...

What's muddying things further is that like other bureaucracies worldwide they also seem to be getting creative with regards to accounting. It's very difficult to get a good idea of what things are like when they're trying to cover things up the way things are rather than how they're likely to be. If you're shifting money to make things look like things are working out okay you know that a program is in trouble. We could put some of this this down to 'Black Ops' but if what you see on the open is true it's likely that what you see behind the veil is also true... which means that the guesstimate by some ex-defense/intelligence staff that you see in the media makes sense (of halving the budget but maintaining the same capability)

As I've said previously a lot of what seems to be said in the marketing and advertising about the F-35 just seems rediculous. Moreover, if you know a bit or do a bit of research a lot of the new capabilities that the JSF is going to have (or is likely going to have) have already been trailed by the US and other defense forces around the globe. Seeing as though the program has been stripped back to meet a deadline I'm of the opinion that I'll believe it when I see it (there's just way too much spin doctoring at the moment for me to honestly believe that things are 'on track' in spite of what they say).  As for a break down of what I'm talking about let's take a look at some of the JSF's much vaunted capabilities...

- as I've said previously does anyone notice something vaguely familiar between the Yak-141 and the F-35? Apparently, after economic issues in the USSR they decided to cut their losses with regards to this program. Lockheed Martin engaged in joint research and also experimented with technology that was possibly later used in the F-35 and F-22 (thrust vectoring, lift off system (the Yak-141 has a different style of of system to achieve SVTOL but similar. They gave up on a dual engine configuration because of instability during takee off and landing. They also had experimented with different engine layouts and materials such as composites, flat nozzles, etc...). What is it that they say? Good artists create, great artists steal? (not having a go at the US just the marketing/hype is just so frustrating. Russia/China also just as guilty with regards to 'industrial espionage') Japan's F-2 (ground breaking AESA RADAR and work with composites) along with the Russia's Yak-141 probably gave the US the core of the F-22 and F-35 progams

- extended supercruise cababilities have been around for more than half a century

- LPI capabilities been around for quite a while. While they may have been crude they've existed

- it has been said that that helmet mounted targeting and cueing and HOBS is revolutionary but has been present for decades (though likely in a less advanced form)

- sensor fusion available in 4.5 gen fighters for a while now though in less advanced form. Likely to be upgraded in future

Sensor Fusion

- ceramic heat signature reduction experimentation on nozzles (look carefully at some of the pictures online. It's clear that the Russians have at least played around with this stuff before decades ago and other countries are likely the same...)

- sometimes I just wonder what the point of the JSF is? If the B/2LRS-B can penetrate unseen into enemy defenses and the JSF's EW capabilities are too weak that they require an escort (in the form of Growlers) the value for money aspect of the JSF goes out the window. What really peturbs me is this. One moment (sometimes the same person in the same conversation) they say the JSF is self-escorting. The next minute they say they have to travel with EW aircraft. If that's the case why don't you just run the LRS-B with Growlers... or just upgrade/increase the number of F-22's in the fleet (unless they also have serious running problems?)

Buying Growlers instead of Lightnings

- at the moment it's clear that other defense manufacturers can smell, "blood in the water". Moreover, there are too many SLEP, review programs at the moment to honestly say that out and out that the JSF is out of the woods with regards to research and development. Auditing and other reporting is being covered up through media hype (truth is in audit reports while 'spin' is healthy in media). Creative accouting possibly being used. Like I said, I'll believe it when I see it... As far as I'm concerned concurrency is basically disguising development and the true cost of the program (a lot of the cost savings that they're finding with regards to lubricants, different coatings, etc... they should have found earlier). If they had of been kept separate somewhat we would have a better understanding of what the true cost of development and production will ultimately be...

Why is the UK treating the F-35 like a 2nd tier Fighter?

- RAM upgrade on a Macbook Unibody

- diagnostic boot command options on statup for Mac OS X

Startup key combinations for Mac

- accessing HFS filesystems from Linux and Windows

- creating DMG files and bootable USB flash drives

- hard drive upgrades on a from Macbook Unibody

- Verbatim seem to use standard SATA based drives (not soldered USB PCB options) in their enclosures. A good option if you can find a good deal. Reputation of some of their internal drives seems a little dodgy though...

- The V-22's development process has been long and controversial, partly due to its large cost increases,[51] some of which are caused by the requirement to fold wing and rotors to fit aboard ships.[52] The development budget was first planned for $2.5 billion in 1986, which increased to a projected $30 billion in 1988.[33] By 2008, $27 billion had been spent on the program and another $27.2 billion was required to complete planned production numbers.[26] Between 2008 and 2011, the estimated lifetime cost for maintaining the V-22 grew by 61 percent, mostly allocated to maintenance and support.[53]

    Its [The V-22's] production costs are considerably greater than for helicopters with equivalent capability—specifically, about twice as great as for the CH-53E, which has a greater payload and an ability to carry heavy equipment the V-22 cannot... an Osprey unit would cost around $60 million to produce, and $35 million for the helicopter equivalent.

    — Michael E. O'Hanlon, 2002.[54]

- The V-22 Osprey program has become the largest scandal in US military history.  Stubborn Marine Corps Generals refuse to admit that dedication and political influence cannot overcome the laws of physics which have proven the complex tilt-rotor design flawed and ultra-expensive.  Details can be found in the seven previous G2mil articles about the V-22, which reveal blatant lies about the V-22's performance.  This article will cover the V-22's soaring cost, $96.2 million for each MV-22 this year, while the FY2005 defense budget request boosts the price 19% to $114.8 million per aircraft. The US Air Force requests three similar CV-22s in FY2005 for $443.0 million; or a unit cost of $147.7 million each.  If the $395.4 million requested in FY2005 for V-22 research, development, evaluation and testing is included in this buy of 11 V-22s, the total cost of each V-22 is $159.7 million.

     The US Army has lost 41 helicopters over Iraq and Afghanistan this past year, with another 24 so badly damaged they are likely to be scrapped.  This is proof that employing ultra-expensive V-22s over combat zones is unwise, especially since they are larger than any helicopter in the US inventory. The V-22 weighs twice as much and costs four times more than helicopters with comparable abilities.  For example, the Navy's FY2005 budget requests 15 MH-60S helicopters for $400.8 million; or a unit cost of $26.7 million each. This helo weighs one-third as much as the V-22, but can pick up nearly the same payload. It has room for 13 combat equipped Marines, compared to 18 for the V-22.  If Congress canceled the V-22 and diverted its $1756.5 million FY2005 request to buy MH-60Ss, this could provide 67 modern helicopters for the Corps, which can also carry machine guns, rockets, and Hellfire missiles, unlike the V-22.

- A day before the offer's expiration, both Lockheed Martin and Austal USA received Navy contracts for an additional ten ships of their designs; two ships of each design being built each year between 2011 and 2015. Lockheed Martin's LCS-5 had a contractual price of $437 million, Austal USA's contractual price for LCS-6 was $432 million. On 29 December 2010, Department of Navy Undersecretary Sean Stackley noted that the program was well within the Congressional cost cap of $480 million per ship. The average per-ship target price for Lockheed ships is $362 million, Stackley said, with a goal of $352 million for each Austal USA ships. Government-furnished equipment (GFE), such as weapons, add about $25 million per ship; another $20 million for change orders, and "management reserve" is also included. Stackley declared the average cost to buy an LCS should be between $430 million and $440 million.[103] In the fiscal year 2011, the unit cost was $1.8 billion and the program cost $3.7 billion.[104]

- Requiring 1,000 fewer crew members and 30 per cent less maintenance over its 50-year lifespan, the Ford is said to let the US Navy save $4 billion.

While the Navy praises this as another significant advantage, critics say, the cost of building the ship has already skyrocketed.  With the carrier now 70 per cent complete, construction costs are about 22 per cent over the over the scheduled budget. 

The high price still will not guarantee that after it is commissioned in 2016 the carrier will not face “significant reliability shortfalls”, as the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, said in September.

This may limit the ship's mission effectiveness and increase the government’s costs even more.

- “No one on this planet knows what inflation will be in, say, just six months time, but the Department of Defense seems to think they do,” said renowned military expert Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project, started in 2005. “The Pentagon plays this game all the time. It’s a typical example of how they manipulate long-term projections to make programs go down smoother.”

- Members of Congress have repeatedly criticized the inflated costs, and in 2012 lawmakers essentially reset the program’s budget and made Lockheed responsible for future cost increases. But that still leaves a hefty cost for the Pentagon, which will continue paying for its share of expenses well into the second half of this century. Yet in its 2013 F-35 report, the Pentagon claims the project has come in within budget and that costs have been reduced -- by $15.1 billion in today’s economy, or $89.5 billion, according to its 2065 projections.

However, the 97-page report doesn’t mention that the annual savings for the years 2012 to 2013 are both based on projections through 2065, the end of the program’s life. Analysts often project future costs over the short term, and often they’re wrong  -- Wall Street analysts, for example, regularly miss month-to-month projections for jobs reports. Projections for the next fifty years would have to involve an unusual degree of speculation and a wide margin for error.

-In a 2014 article in Foreign Policy, Lewis recalled the history of dirty bombs. How Russia tinkered with the radiological weapons during the 1950s. And how, during the darkest days of the Korean War, with Chinese and North Korean troops threatening to overrun American forces, U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur proposed “sowing a band of radioactive cesium across Manchuria as a kind of ‘cordon sanitaire’ against the Chinese advance.”

- First off, this has nothing to do with the F-22, F-35, B-2 or anything else the US is currently flying. It will not make them obsolete, because this isn't a detection tech. The UHF frequencies aren't a particularly effective counter either, because the installations have to be really large just to be able to resolve something the size of an aircraft. You can't just run the noise through a statistical model to pop out a Raptor. Even if you could get some kind of signal, you wouldn't be able to tell if there was one or twenty. UHF has poor angular resolution due to the wavelength.

Second, even if you could detect a stealth aircraft from the ground, you still need a way to guide aircraft or missiles to it. Combat tests have shown that pilots that can *see* an F-22 can't lock their fighter on to it. Since UHF sets have to be large to have sufficient resolution, you can't fit one into a fighter, never mind a missile. Indeed, UHF antennas aren't even road-mobile. They're fixed installations right now.

Third, coatings are actually the LEAST important part of a stealth aircraft. First is shaping, second is how it flies. Third is substructure. Fourth is coatings. And the coatings in use are already broadband-absorbing, including being fairly effective against UHF. Yet that's insufficient for complete invisibility because the shaping is optimized for high band.

Now, having said all that, is this a big advance? Maybe. It depends not just on the tunability (which appears to be fantastic) but how much of the spectrum it can absorb at a given time. Passive coatings will absorb all high band frequencies at the same time. You need to do that because a modern AESA emitter is broadcasting (randomly) over a very wide range of frequencies. You have to block all of those simultaneously, otherwise you're going to get pinged the next time the emitter cycles to a frequency you aren't currently blocking. Which is going to happen multiple times a second.

- A speaker at the recent ASPI submarine conference made the observation that ‘no system was too beautiful’ for the Seawolfs. In other words, pursuit of the highest level of performance was given priority above any thought of economical production. The result was inevitable; the Seawolf entered into an F-22-like ‘death spiral’ of higher projected unit costs and lower projected build numbers. In the end only three were built, versus 29 planned, as the 1991 cost estimate was close to US$5 billion per boat in today’s dollars.

- In 2005, it was estimated to cost at least $8 billion excluding the $5 billion spent on research and development (though that was not expected to be representative of the cost of future members of the class).[13] A 2009 report said that Ford would cost $14 billion including research and development, and the actual cost of the carrier itself would be $9 billion.[52] The life-cycle cost per operating day of a carrier strike group (including aircraft) was estimated at $6.5 million in 2013 published by the Center for New American Security.[53]

- Lawmakers and others have questioned whether the Zumwalt-class costs too much and whether it provides the capabilities the U.S. military needs. In 2005 the Congressional Budget Office estimated the acquisition cost of a DD(X) at $3.8–4.0bn in 2007 dollars, $1.1bn more than the navy's estimate.[76]

The National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2007 (Report of the Committee On Armed Services House of Representatives On H.R. 5122 Together With Additional And Dissenting Views) stated the following: "The committee understands there is no prospect of being able to design and build the two lead ships for the $6.6 billion budgeted. The committee is concerned that the navy is attempting to insert too much capability into a single platform. As a result, the DD(X) is now expected to displace over 14,000 tons and by the navy's estimate, cost almost $3.3 billion each. Originally, the navy proposed building 32 next generation destroyers, reduced that to 24, then finally to 7 in order to make the program affordable. In such small numbers, the committee struggles to see how the original requirements for the next generation destroyer, for example providing naval surface fire support, can be met."[citation needed]

- In February 2011, the USAF reduced its planned purchase of RQ-4 Block 40 aircraft from 22 to 11 in order to cut costs.[19] In June 2011, the U.S. Defense Department's Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) found the RQ-4B "not operationally effective" due to reliability issues.[20] In June 2011, the Global Hawk was certified by the Secretary of Defense as critical to national security following a breach of the Nunn-McCurdy Amendment; the Secretary stated: "The Global Hawk is essential to national security; there are no alternatives to Global Hawk which provide acceptable capability at less cost; Global Hawk costs $220M less per year than the U-2 to operate on a comparable mission; the U-2 cannot simultaneously carry the same sensors as the Global Hawk; and if funding must be reduced, Global Hawk has a higher priority over other programs."[21]

On 26 January 2012, the Pentagon announced plans to end Global Hawk Block 30 procurement as the type was found to be more expensive to operate and with less capable sensors than the existing U-2.[22][23] Plans to increase procurement of the Block 40 variant were also announced.[24][25] The Air Force's fiscal year 2013 budget request said it had resolved to divest itself of the Block 30 variant, however, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 mandated operations of the Block 30 fleet through the end of 2014.[26] The USAF plans to procure 45 RQ-4B Global Hawks as of 2013.[1] Just before his release from ACC, Hostage said of the U-2's replacement by the drone that "The combatant commanders are going to suffer for eight years and the best they’re going to get is 90 percent".[27]

From 2010-2013, costs of flying the RQ-4 fell by more than 50%. In 2010, the cost per flight hour was $40,600, with contractor logistic support making up $25,000 per flight hour of this figure. By mid-2013, cost per flight hour dropped to $18,900, contractor logistic support having dropped to $11,000 per flight hour. This was in part due to higher usage, spreading logistics and support costs over a higher number of flight hours.[28]

- Iran’s story about the electronic ambush of America’s sophisticated drone, the RQ-170 Sentinel, is that their experts used their technology savvy to trick the drone into landing where the drone thought was its actual base in Afghanistan but instead they made it land in Iran. They used reverse engineering techniques that they had developed after exploring less sophisticated American drones captured or shot down in recent years. They were able to figure how to exploit a navigational weakness in the drone’s system. "The GPS navigation is the weakest point," the Iranian engineer told the newspaper.

Iranian electronic warfare specialists were able to cut off the communications link by jamming on the communications. The engineer said that they forced the drone into autopilot. That state is where “the bird loses its brain." The Iranians reconfigured the drone's GPS coordinates and they used precise latitudinal and longitudinal data to force the drone to land on its own. In doing so the Iranian team did not have to bother about cracking remote control signals and communications from a control center in the U.S., and the RQ170 suffered only minimal damage, according to the report.

Adding strength and credibility to that story were military experts saying that even a combat-grade GPS system is vulnerable to manipulation. According to a GPS expert at the University of New Brunswick in Canada, Richard Langley, it’s theoretically possible to take control of a drone by jamming.

- Top US officials said in 2009 that they were working to encrypt all drone data streams in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan – after finding militant laptops loaded with days' worth of data in Iraq – and acknowledged that they were "subject to listening and exploitation."

Perhaps as easily exploited are the GPS navigational systems upon which so much of the modern military depends.

- With privacy and state snooping politically sensitive issues in Germany, the BND was already the focus of a parliamentary inquiry in Berlin into the extent of its surveillance and its targeting guidelines. It was reported in May that, despite Mrs. Merkel’s anger, the agency was aware of and cooperated with the National Security Administration’s surveillance program based out of Germany.

If true, the scope of Germany’s spying program seems to be more closely aligned with U.S. intelligence programs than previously stated.

Separately, citing Germany’s far-reaching data protection laws, U.S. software giant Microsoft announced plans Wednesday to build data centers in the country in an attempt to shield customers from U.S. surveillance.

The tech giant said it will provide cloud services, including Azure and Office 365, from facilities in Magdeburg and Frankfurt.

- “He has to travel around the entire country for field guidance, so there always needs to be a personal restroom exclusively for the Suryeong [Supreme Leader] Kim Jong-un,” the source said. “It is unthinkable in a Suryeong-based society for him to have to use a public restroom just because he travels around the country.”

- "China makes it a practice to not get extended into military conflicts in the Middle East," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said at the White House press briefing on Thursday. "Their policy over years, if not decades, is to not be overextended in military exercises."

This echoes what foreign-policy experts have said about the likelihood of Chinese involvement in Syria.

"This is very far from China's fight," Bremmer told Business Insider earlier this week. "They don't want responsibility for it, there's no potential diplomatic or security win for Beijing."

- But Kuwait is fighting back. Volunteer organisation Kuwait Oasis is working to plant 315,000 trees along the country's borders by 2019 to hold back the moving sands.

A similar initiative in Mongolia's Kubuqi Desert reduced sandstorms from 80 a year to fewer than five. Both use Waterboxx plant incubators from Dutch startup Groasis Technologies. These collect water from the air at night via condensation and prevent its evaporation during the day, so each tree consumes 35 times less water than with standard irrigation.

- “If you listen to what the IRGC says they’re doing, they say they’re assisting the Syrian military and the [National Defense Forces militias] at various different levels in how to run hardware, to use artillery, to do tactics and logistics—everything from the tactical to the strategic,” says Afshon Ostovar, an Iran expert at the Center for Naval Analyses, a federally funded research and development center.

“It doesn’t make sense for [Quds Force] to be able to advise on everything,” says Ostovar. “You’re going to need various skills brought to bear and it doesn’t make sense to just bring your special forces Quds Force guys, who are trained in language, tradecraft and bomb-making, to teach a guy how to use a howitzer or how to integrate armor with infantry tactics.”

- Should it be selected, the F-35 will replace Denmark's aging F-16 aircraft with an affordable, sustainable, and highly capable fifth-generation aircraft. The F-35 program includes partners from nine countries – Australia, Italy, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States – as well as three foreign military sales customers – Israel, Japan, and South Korea

Multicut A/S has a modern factory delivering complex machined parts and subassemblies. It uses state-of-the-art production equipment in its lean manufacturing facility – including 9-axis mill-turn machine tools, as well as 5-axis vertical and 4-axis horizontal computer numerical controlled machines networked with robotic material handling systems.

Source: Pratt & Whitney

- True, Syria is not Vietnam. In fact, it could end up being much worse, not least because instead of two broadly definable camps with (relatively) defined strategic and tactical objectives, Syria's war involves dozens of local and regional actors with shifting allegiances and often unidentifiable strategies. As a result, Syria makes the three-dimensional chess played by superpowers back then look quaint.

- Congressmen in Brazil, one of the most violent countries in the world, are proposing to dramatically loosen restrictions on personal gun ownership, bringing the country much closer to the American right to bear arms.

The politicians say the measures are necessary to allow embattled citizens the right to defend themselves from criminals armed with illegal weapons. But opponents say the move will only increase the country’s toll of nearly 60,000 murders in 2014.

- Truth be told, no one knows how to deal with ISIS. Not Washington, not Paris and not Moscow. There isn’t a rulebook — but there is certainly a list of tried and tested failures that can inform our decision making. What is also clear is that this threat does demand solidarity among nations who should be able to put their minor differences aside to face a common threat.

- Syria, though, remains the potent drawcard for those trying to radicalise citizens from France or elsewhere. Combined with social media, the propaganda has been much more effective than during other conflicts.

For instance, during 2001-2012, only about 60-70 French citizens were known to have journeyed to fight in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the official said.

And unlike the 1990s, identifying potential radicals within mosques had become "a nightmare for intelligent services".

The would-be fighters were often "isolated individuals" who might be radicalised within just one month. About 20 to 30 per cent of the French citizens seeking to fight for IS were converts to Islam, he said.

- In a recent report on American public opinion and U.S. foreign policy, “Defending our allies’ security” ranked near the bottom of a list of foreign policy priorities. Judging from their rhetoric and military spending plans, protecting our allies is the top concern for many of the men and women aspiring for higher office.

- According to North Korean state media both countries declared 2015 a “year of friendship”  in order to commemorate “Korea’s liberation and the victory in the great Patriotic War in Russia.”  A North Korean delegation, led by Lieutenant General Choe Jang Sik, deputy head of the Korean People’s Army General Staff Operations Bureau, visited Moscow in August to discuss the possible participation of a North Korean team in the “2016 International Army Games,” annually hosted by the Russian Ministry of Defense (See: “Russia Beats China in This Year’s International Army Games”).

- “Lichtenstein ranks number 1 considering the rights its citizens enjoy outside its jurisdiction. This is far beyond popular immigration countries such as the US, which is ranked 34. The UAE scores relatively well in 26th position.”

In another ranking, Kochenov compared countries considering these rights internally as well as externally. Here, Germany topped the list of strongest passports, while the UAE ranked 63th out of the 199 countries compared.

- "IS has shown that when they suffer battlefield reverses, they try to do something that ensures they counter any perception they are losing strength."

Ingram believes the shift in strategy was most likely long planned. He says it dovetails with another core IS objective, to weaken "infidel" western states and prove that Muslims and those of other faiths can't coexist.

He notes a lengthy article from an edition of the IS propaganda magazine vowing the destruction of the "grayzone", its term for secular societies.

"IS is saying to Muslims you no longer have a choice. There is no grey zone. You now have a caliphate, you have your own world to return to.

"You can't live in the land of the kuffar, no matter how devout, and be a good Muslim. Even if you pray five times a day and fast.

To this end, Islamic State hopes there will be rise in Islamophobia in the West. It will reinforce its hateful ideology."

- “From 1990 to 2010, the Army began and then cancelled 22 major programs,” the article noted, “at an approximate cost of $1 billion per year starting in 1996 and rising as high as $3.8 billion per year after 2004.”

While the White House tried to distance itself from the idea of containment, a senior administration official said, “What we had in essence was a containment policy” based on the belief that efforts to counter the Islamic State’s ideology had to be led by Sunni Muslim states, with backup from the United States.

Yet Mr. Obama’s strategy was also based on intelligence assessments that the Islamic State was overextended and vulnerable to a cutoff in its oil and black-market revenues — and that, in the long war against extremism, there was still time to bolster the most capable local forces and bring Arab states to the fight.

“If Paris changes anything,” an American official said, “it’s the recognition that we can’t wait for those two events to happen, if they ever happen.”

- In Brussels, NATO dropped the flags of its 28 member nations to half staff to honor the French dead. NATO officials said that France so far has declined to invoke the alliance's Article 5, which would oblige all members to join its fight against the militants..

The only time Article 5 has ever been invoked was, at U.S. request, after the September 2001 al-Qaeda attacks.

- With the trade of stolen data booming on the multi billion-dollar dark web, Mr Pogue said "data is the new oil" yet Australia, like most countries, still has a "head-in-the-sand approach".

"It will get worse before it gets better," he told Fairfax Media. "The sooner decision makers understand that there are only three types of organisations – those that have been breached, those that are currently breached (and likely don't know it) and those that are about to the breached – the better."

- Mr Pogue, senior vice-president of cyber threat analysis with Australian data investigation company Nuix, said hackers were becoming more creative and more aggressive.

Most advertise their skills in hidden Russian-language forums. The stolen data is sold on encrypted "dark net" sites, with stolen credit card details fetching an average of $100.

The money is then funding other crimes, such as terrorism and people smuggling.

One dark-net site identified by Australian police recently was selling credit cards for 8¢, CCVs for $8 and other card details, such as billing addresses, for $80. At one point, 14,000 users were accessing the site.

- The renminbi is already, according to SWIFT, the fifth most-used payment currency in the world, helped by the rapid expansion of the country's middle class and its growing use of the internet for shopping.

- Experts noted that several factors may have been behind the failures in January: Security services are drowning in data, overwhelmed by the quantity of people and emails they are expected to track, and hampered by the inability to make pre-emptive arrests in democratic countries

- Bernard Bajolet, the head of the French spy service, spoke during a public appearance at George Washington University in Washington two weeks ago about the twin threats France was facing, both from its own extremists and "terrorist actions which are planned (and) ordered from outside or only through fighters coming back to our countries."

General warnings about potential attacks from Iraqi intelligence or other Middle Eastern intelligence services are not uncommon, the official said. The French were already on high alert.

"During the last month we have disrupted a certain number of attacks in our territory," Bajolet said. "But this doesn't mean that we will be able all the time to disrupt such attacks."

Obtaining intelligence about the Islamic State group has been no easy feat given difficulties accessing territory held by the radical Sunni group. Iraqi agencies generally rely on informants inside the group in both Iraq and Syria for information, but that is not always infallible. Last year, reports from Iraqi intelligence officials and the Iraqi government that al-Baghdadi was injured were later denied or contradicted.

- The Prime Minister told Radio 4's Today programme: "The disagreement has been that we think that Assad should go at once and obviously Russia has taken a different view.

"We have to find a settlement where Assad leaves and there is a government that can bring Syria together and we mustn't let the gap between us be the alter on which the country of Syria is slaughtered.

"That is the challenge. Now that is going to take compromises."

Mr Cameron's talks with Mr Putin will be followed by a meeting of the Quint - an informal group of Western powers within the G20, made up of the UK, US, France, Germany and Italy - to assess progress and discuss how further efforts on Syria can be co-ordinated.

- What happened in Paris represented one shot in what could prove to be a long, painful battle that we cannot win with the sword. It was tragic for sure, but also predictable. The French have discovered what some of us have predicted since the outset of the US-led campaign: rather than stemming terrorism, the air strikes in Iraq and Syria are creating new Sunni  jihadists in the region and abroad.

Make no mistake: Paris was a direct response to this war. According to Professor Robert Pape, a terrorism expert at the University of Chicago, the clear majority of culprits in the more than 2100 documented cases of suicide bombings from 1980 to 2009 were motivated by foreign intervention in the Middle East, not ideological or religious conviction. For example, the 2004 Madrid and 2005 London bombings were in response to the 2003 Iraq invasion. And the recent downing of the Russian airline over the Sinai was in response to President Vladimir Putin's air strikes in Syria.

- Officials believe the ISIS geek squad is teaching terrorists how to use encryption and communication platforms like Silent Circle, Telegram and WhatsApp.

Aaron F. Brantly said he and his colleagues at the U.S. Army-affiliated Combating Terrorism Center have found that Islamic State members use as many as 120 separate platforms, many of them encrypted, to communicate and share information. One of its most favored methods, he said, is a highly encrypted form of communication called Telegram.

"It essentially allows them to hide what they are discussing from people who aren't explicitly looking for it," especially law enforcement and intelligence agencies, Brantly said. "Obviously this is a major concern. … They are creating a space for themselves to operate independent of direct surveillance."

- The senior European counterterrorism official said that European authorities are gravely concerned and will meet this week to discuss the issue - though they are already becoming contentious with each other about their lack of options. Some are restricted by civil liberties concerns in their home countries, while others note that creating a "back door" in an electronic communication platform - meaning a way for governments to spy on messages in real time - also creates an opportunity for non-governmental groups to take a peek. When Greece put a "back door" in electronic communications passing through its territories, it was quickly exploited by hackers.

"I am waiting for somebody to show me a way we can do this that is guaranteed to be only used by the good guys," said Paul Rosenzweig, a cyber consultant and former deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "But it is not person-specific. Anything that we can create can, and will, be cracked."

- The fundamentalist interpretation of Islam is not a common mode of thinking for most Muslims, especially in recent times. But it is clearly driving the political agenda in Muslim countries. Not all Muslim modernisers are willing to confront the anti-Western and anti-Semitic beliefs that feed the Islamist narrative. The Islamists are dominating the discourse within the Muslim world by murdering secularists and forcing many of them to leave their countries.

With more than 1.4 billion Muslims around the globe, the swelling of the fundamentalist ranks poses serious problems. If only 1 per cent of the world's Muslims accepts this uncompromising theology, and 10 per cent of that 1 per cent decide to commit themselves to a radical agenda, we are looking at a 1 million strong recruitment pool for groups such as al-Qaeda, IS and whatever comes next.

Only a concerted ideological campaign against medieval Islamist ideology, like the one that discredited and contained communism, could turn the tide.

- "It is not just my view, but the view of my closest military and civilian advisors that that would be a mistake," he said.

"Not because our military could not march into Mosul or Raqqa or Ramadi and temporarily clear out ISIL, but because we would see a repetition of what we've seen before which is if you do not have local populations that are committed to inclusive governance, and who are pushing back against ideological extremes that they resurface."

Instead he defended his administration's current strategy and vowed to intensify it – supporting opposition forces on the ground with training, weapons and intelligence while conducting an airstrikes from above.

He said only by finding a political solution to the war in Syria could the chaos be ended and IS stifled, and that there was finally agreement on this course.

"We have the right strategy and we are going to see it through."

- Like Akshaya Mishra of Firstpost states, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the likes of Osama bin Laden would not have existed if the US didn’t actively promote ideology-driven thugs to fight its Cold War against Russia. "Iraq would not be such a dangerous place if the US had not brought down Saddam Hussein for no reason at all."

The West is in the danger of making the same mistakes in this new Cold War that it did in the original one and such discord will further the causes of such entities as the Islamic State. The focus should remain on rooting out terrorist groups, that no longer require a US or a Russia, or even financiers within the G-20 countries; they are pretty much self sufficient.

- Imagine if every time you typed “Netflix and chill” (that’s code for casual sex, for the uninitiated) into Tinder, the app slapped you on the wrist with a warning message.

That’s what happens for users of Tantan, a dating app that’s popular among randy Chinese. A pound-for-pound copy of Tinder, Tantan lets users make friends or meet potential partners by swiping left or right at a set of photos, and enabling two-way chat for every mutual match. While it might help facilitate one-night stands, Tantan is not immune to China’s internet censorship.

- We applaud people in the Arab Spring standing up and saying this is not right. But when it happens in Yarraville people say that we are yuppies.

- Others have pointed out that the F-35 is hardly the first maligned plane in U.S. history. The F-4 Phantom suffered the same slings and arrows, and went on to survive battle with the more nimble MiGs during Vietnam (though as with all military history this is hotly contested: A better plane would have performed better). Still, as FighterSweep put it: “It’s fun to trash the new kid, especially the new kid that’s overweight, wears too much bling, and talks about how awesome it is all the time.”

- In considering future adversaries, Chinese information warfare doctrine makes clear the requirement to attack US C4ISR systems, including satellites, from the outset or even prior to, any military conflict. This information warfare campaign will be fought in space, cyberspace and across the electromagnetic spectrum. The PLA sees the information battle-space as an integrated environment comprising both cyberspace and electronic warfare, and base their approach to these domains around the concept of Integrated Networked Electronic Warfare (INEW).

General Dai Qingmin, PLA, states that a key goal of the PLA’s approach to INEW is to disrupt the normal operation of enemy battlefield information systems, while protecting one’s own, with the objective of seizing information superiority. Therefore, winning in the air against the PLAAF may be determined as much by which side wins these information warfare campaigns, as through success in tactical beyond-visual range air to air engagements. Imagine no data links between the F-35s and the AWACS; AESA radars on an E-7A Wedgetail spoofed; ASAT attacks that bring down strategic communications or computer-network attacks that strike logistics or which jam GPS signals, and the first shots fired are not missiles but satellites silenced by computer hackers or ground-based jamming. Furthermore there will be an incentive to strike quickly and decisively, with an information ‘battle of the first salvo’ effect emerging. Without the flexibility bestowed by these systems, the F-35 pilot must rely on on-board sensor systems such as its AESA Radar and Electro-Optical Targeting System (EOTS) to detect, track and engage targets which increase the detectability of the aircraft and potentially bring the F-35 into the envelope of an opponent’s within visual range systems.

- The terrorist attacks in Paris, beyond their obvious horror, recalled to me the words of the late Bernard Fall, a French-American historian and war correspondent in Vietnam. In 1965, Fall wrote: “When a country is being subverted it is not being outfought; it is being out-administered. Subversion is literally administration with a minus sign in front.” ISIS has subverted western Iraq and eastern Syria because it is out-administering the Baghdad and Damascus regimes there. That is, ISIS has erected a competent bureaucratic authority covering everything from schools to waste removal which, combined as it is with repression, is secure and stable. And with that territorial security, ISIS has apparently created a central dispatch point for planning terrorist attacks abroad. Eventually, the end of ISIS can only come about when some other force out-administers it. The AH-64 played roles in the Balkans during separate conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s.[92][93] During Task Force Hawk, 24 Apaches were deployed to a land base in Albania in 1999 for combat in Kosovo. These required 26,000 tons of equipment to be transported over 550 C-17 flights, at a cost of US$480 million.[94] During these deployments, the AH-64 encountered problems such as deficiencies in training, night vision equipment, fuel tanks, and survivability.[95][96] On 27 April 1999, an Apache crashed during training in Albania due to a failure with the tail rotor,[97] causing the fleet in the Balkans to be grounded in December 2000.[98]

In 2000, Major General Dick Cody, 101st Airborne's commanding officer, wrote a strongly worded memo to the Chief of Staff about training and equipment failures.[99] No pilots were qualified to fly with night vision goggles, preventing nighttime operations.[100] The Washington Post printed a front-page article on the failures, commenting: "The vaunted helicopters came to symbolise everything wrong with the Army as it enters the 21st century: Its inability to move quickly, its resistance to change, its obsession with casualties, its post-Cold War identity crisis".[101] No Apache combat missions took place in Kosovo due to fears of casualties.[100]

- In January 1968, the United Kingdom terminated its F-111K order,[109] citing higher cost; increased costs along with devaluation of the pound had raised the cost to around £3 million each.[110] The first two F-111Ks (one strike/recon F-111K and one trainer/strike TF-111K) were in the final stages of assembly when the order was canceled.[109] The two aircraft were later completed and accepted by the USAF as test aircraft with the YF-111A designation.[108]

- The program costs, during 1963–1967, grew at an alarming rate; estimates by the USAF at the start of the program was placed at US$124.5 million, but by April 1967 had risen to $237.75 million.[36] While the initial price of US$5.21 million per aircraft was capped at US$5.95 million, R&D, labor, and other costs were not.[37] The rising price, three unexplained losses of USAF F-111As in Vietnam during their first month of deployment, and the British and U.S. Navy's orders' cancellations caused further controversy in Australia during 1968.[38] By 1973, however, when the F-111A had accumulated 250,000 flight hours, it had the best safety record among contemporary aircraft, which presaged the F-111C's own excellent record.[39]

- WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

- Obama says he won't put boots on the ground. Does that mean the special forces will be going in with bare feet?
Categories: thinktime

Sridhar Dhanapalan: Twitter posts: 2015-11-16 to 2015-11-22

Planet Linux Australia - Mon 23rd Nov 2015 01:11
Categories: thinktime

Did you do the reading?

Seth Godin - Sun 22nd Nov 2015 20:11
It's absurd to think of going to a book group meeting and opining about a book you didn't even read. More rude: Going to a PhD seminar and participating in the discussion without reading the book first. And of course,...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Steven Hanley: [mtb] Brinzio loop and Summit Fiore ride

Planet Linux Australia - Sun 22nd Nov 2015 20:11

Looking over from the observatory to the Fiore summit (fullsize)

Though I had headed out solo to ride Basso Binda on the first Sunday I was there this ride I got to do with some company until the last climb and get shown one of the classic loops in the region.

My first views of Lago Maggiore and then back through Brinzio, then when we got back to Varese I decided to solo climb up to the summit past the Campo di Fiore and into the snow that was still around from the falls on the weekend. A rather pretty area for sure.

Images in my gallery from the ride ETC, Varese, Brinzio, Lago Maggiore, Brinzio, Summit Fiore ride.

Categories: thinktime

A reason persuasion is surprisingly difficult

Seth Godin - Sat 21st Nov 2015 20:11
Each of us understands that different people are swayed by different sorts of arguments, based on different ways of viewing the world. That seems sort of obvious. A toddler might want an orange juice because it's sweet, not because she's...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Yes, in my backyard

Seth Godin - Fri 20th Nov 2015 21:11
The opposite of NIMBY, the opposite of isolation. Building a fortress is expensive. It cripples your tribe. And it won’t work. Modern fortresses amplify fear, destroy the value that's at the heart of the connection economy, and don't actually pay...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Steven Hanley: [mtb] Alpe di Neggia ride in Italy/Switzerland

Planet Linux Australia - Fri 20th Nov 2015 13:11

Looking toward Switzerland from the top of the climb (fullsize)

I had a work trip to the European Training centre in Gavirate Italy in April 2012, while there I managed to get out for three rides and one solid run. On the rides I took my camera and was able to get some great shots. Definitely an awesome area to train in for many sports.

Recommended to me by Luke Durbridge who was at the ETC while I was there, this ride was from Gavirate over to Lago di Maggiore and then along the shores until I hit the climb and down the other side in to Switzerland than back through the valley past Lago di Lugano toward the border at Ponte Tresa above Varese. A great ride for sure and a nice climb, though I probably left it an hour too late as coming back it was dark by the time I got to Varese and I had not taken lights.

Images in my gallery from the ride Alpe di Neggia ride in Italy/Switzerland.

Categories: thinktime

OpenSTEM: RCA Old Technology Video (1983)

Planet Linux Australia - Fri 20th Nov 2015 11:11

It’s cool to look at past visions of the future, particularly those from companies in a sales/marketing context because they contain all the fabulous buzzwords from the time.

Entitled RCA Video Monitors: The Future Is Now (1983), the below is a segment from an extremely rare CED videodisc sent to dealers telling them about the then new concept in TV design: the inclusion of multiple A/V inputs and outputs for connecting multiple devices!

(image by grm_wnr, Wikimedia)

The intermittent skipping you see on the video was “normal” for that videodisc technology. Mind that videodisc wasn’t DVD, videodisks were quite big.

Note that, oddly, DVDs also exhibit a brief skip when (they switch from one layer to another on dual-layer disks). Technically it’d be so easy to avoid this visual annoyance!.

(image by GrahamUK, Wikipedia)

The Compact Disk (CD) was invented by Philips and launched around 1984. DVD (Digital Versatile Disk) is from 1995. Philips actually has a history of these broad innovations, in 1953 they launched the Compact Cassette.

Philips somehow misfired with video recorders (VCRs), adopting the technically superior Video 2000 format (1979), and as we now know VHS became the global standard. The VCR format saga is an interesting historical example of where factors other than purely technical superiority played a role in defining the winner. Among other factors, they came in late – but there was more to it. Anyhow, we know that even Betamax was regarded as superior in quality to VHS, Betamax remained in use for professional recording equipment for a very long time.

Categories: thinktime

Linux Users of Victoria (LUV) Announce: LUV Beginners November Meeting: Security scanning with Nmap

Planet Linux Australia - Thu 19th Nov 2015 22:11
Start: Nov 21 2015 12:30 End: Nov 21 2015 16:30 Start: Nov 21 2015 12:30 End: Nov 21 2015 16:30 Location: 

RMIT Building 91, 110 Victoria Street, Carlton South


Scott Junner will offer a basic run through of the main functions of Nmap with some explanations of the background of what Nmap is doing and why it gets some of the results it gets. He will talk about why you would want to use Nmap and give an example of a few scans he did on his own network to show the kind of information that others could collect. Or you could collect on others - depending on which way you lean.

LUV would like to acknowledge Red Hat for their help in obtaining the Trinity College venue and VPAC for hosting.

Linux Users of Victoria Inc., is an incorporated association, registration number A0040056C.

November 21, 2015 - 12:30

read more

Categories: thinktime

Steven Hanley: [mtb/events] Triple Triathlon 2015 - Wheres Our Swimmer - Mixed Pairs

Planet Linux Australia - Thu 19th Nov 2015 22:11

Tagging Milly for the Mt Taylor run (fullsize)

As I mention in the words I ended up in pairs this year again, racing with Milly after our swimmer for the event injured himself. Our goal was to have a fun day out in Canberra looking forward to the finish line and beers there. I think we managed that and enjoyed hanging out with all the others transcending the hills and lakes of Canberra.

Great to see Rowan have so much fun on course again, also Cam had an amazing day out with 12h15m solo and finishing third. Ben Crabb got to race again with his normal team before disappearing to the UK for three years. So many others were having fun and so were Milly and I (though the early shot of her before the swim start she does not appear so sure), looking therough the event gallery on the Sri Chinmoy events site there are some good photos of everyone around too.

My words and photos are online in my Triple Triathlon 2015 - Wheres Our Swimmer - Mixed Pairs gallery. Good day out bring on 2016.

Categories: thinktime

Your big break

Seth Godin - Thu 19th Nov 2015 20:11
...isn't. Your big break might be a break, but in the long run, it's certainly not big. Breaks give us a chance to do more work, to continue showing up, to move a bit further down the road. Perhaps it...        Seth Godin
Categories: thinktime

Steven Hanley: [mtb/events] Geoquest 2012 - Out Of Range

Planet Linux Australia - Thu 19th Nov 2015 10:11

Heading into the water with our tubes (fullsize)

When I looked at this album I realised I still have not published or added comments to my 2011 geoquest album. I guess that will be next. For now this was 2012 with Seb, Lee and Eliza up at Forster again. Before Eliza was quite so hooked on MTB near the end of her doing Triathlon we were trying to convince her long sill AR stuff is the best thing ever, I hope we did not scar her too much with the longest event she had ever done.

KV, Ben and Matt were our rather awesome support crew engaging in a bit of speed camping around the region and seeing us come past once in a while, thanks to them for the effort. It was a remarkably hard (well long at least) course this year and though there was no ocean paddling there was a bit of time in the kayaks. The event was a lot of fun as always, though I still need to sort out some of my insulin type and timing issues (as I was reminded this year when I had some lows).

My 2012 Geoquest - Out of Range gallery is online for anyone to have a look, I almost was worried I managed to get a photo of Eliza not smiling, however it appears not to have happened so all is right with the world.

Categories: thinktime


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