MUOS Satellite to Provide Military with 3G Communications

This weekend, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launched an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket as in an effort to provide 3G communication to soldiers in the field. The satellite is the first in a new military network.

The rocket used to drop the Mobile User Objective System satellite into Earth’s orbit is the most powerful in the U.S. inventory, reaching 191 feet in height. Called the MUOS-1, the satellite is one of five in the network, which operates in a way similar to cellphone towers. The system will boost communication ability for the U.S. military and its partnering countries. The communication capacity will now include UHF satellite communications for cellphone users.

“Right now, our units have to be sitting in one place, stationary, with antenna up pointing straight at a satellite to be able to use narrow-band sitcom (satellite communications),” said Paul Ghyzel, program manager. “As we bring MUOS online, we bring up the capability that allows them to move around the battle space and be able to continue communicating beyond the line-of-sight.”

MUOS program manager and VP Mark Pasquale explained that the system is “basically like a cellphone tower in the sky.” He added, “You can think of the handheld user terminals as robust, rugged smartphones.”

The main contractor for the handheld devices, General Dynamics C4 Systems, is currently perfecting the technology used to connect the terminals with the MUOS 3G-like network.

Though certain capabilities won’t really be available until next summer, the MUOS should provide soldiers with voice, video and data service in vehicles, ships, submarines, and aircraft, as well as on foot.


Holden’s Post-Hollie Healing


Amanda Holden – one of the judges on the UK show “Britain’s Got Talent” (the British version of “American Idol” if you will) – recently gave birth to a second daughter, Hollie Rose.  The media went crazy; in Great Britain one couldn’t pick up a newspaper and avoid it.  After some time has passed for reflection however, the question now being asked is, why did this make such headlines?  One reason is that the TV star almost died and thereafter publicly declared she would not be having any more children.  But is that newsworthy enough?  It now seems that public responses have been somewhat critical as to why Holden has taken up so much real estate in the news.

True, Holden has been through a lot in the birthing department, but unfortunately, this is the case for many mothers.  One pregnancy ended in miscarriage (the stats for that are between 10 and 20 percent of all pregnancies) a stillborn (less common, with approximately one in 150 pregnancies ending this way).  Then, during her most recent birth at the beginning of this year, the mother of 6-year-old Lexi, experienced a major hemorrhage and came dangerously close to death as her heart stopped for 40 seconds and she had to spend three days in the ICU.  Apparently at one point she didn’t think she’d make it home.

Much Ado About Nothing?

But still, isn’t this a bit of a case of much ado about nothing?  Yes it’s true, Holden is a bit of a star (in the UK) and yes indeed, she did go through something traumatic, but did she really need to take up so much media attention?  The public seems to think not.  As Ben Kendall quite rightly tweeted this week, “If Britain really is drawing up plans for a war in Iran, is that not a better story than Amanda Holden dying for 40 seconds?”  And then there was the voice of Political Scrapbook who likewise tweeted: “Sun on Sunday's first front page splash is an interview with, errrr, Amanda Holden. Weak!” 

On one of the many reports on Holden and Hollie, The Daily Mail reader Linda, from Fife, pointed out, “stop milking it for publicity, you got a 4 page spread yesterday. If you were so close to death's door I can't see how you would have been fit enough to be back at work after 3 weeks.” The woman has a point…

One reads about Holden bemoaning her predicament and how she found it very hard to engage in simple tasks like showering that her mother had to do for her.  Well, probably many new mothers – or indeed anyone who has had surgery – has had to encounter this.  She even got a Zimmer frame but after a day she was reported to have “thrown it away.”  Perhaps the media should have focused more on that and how there are no doubt many people in the UK who would have been delighted to receive her discarded walking aid.

Or maybe all of this is good news for Britain; that thankfully there’s nothing too tragic to report on so we need to read about this.  Nice in an ideal world, but we all know that’s not the world in which we live so perhaps we should move back to reporting real news and leave Holden to bond with Hollie Rose.

US Education and Funding: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly


It’s not clear whether Angelo State University is doing well or going down the pan, since it boasts extremely good statistics in some areas, yet has disastrous reports in others.  The University – a member of the Texas Tech University System – offers undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide variety of disciplines.  Ultimately though its mission is to prepare its students to “be responsible citizens and to have productive careers.”  While last year witnessed higher student enrollment than ever before at the educational institute, things aren’t so optimistic for those graduates trying to enter the job market in Texas’ less-than-stable economy.  In addition, those studying at ASU are struggling to survive financially.

The Good, Bad and Ugly

Nonetheless, the college did receive a $5m award, to be put towards the enhancement of its programs in the following areas: engineering, math, science and technology as part of its Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status.

As noted in the Progress 2012 report, because of the nation’s economic environment, ASU lost huge state funding (totaling 10 percent from its budget) per annum.  So what did this mean for the college that was bringing in increasingly more students because it is becoming so much more attractive due to what it can offer?  It had to forfeit this privilege.  It was forced to cut over 30 positions in faculty/staff and merge two of its colleges in an effort to reduce costs.

And then things took a turn for the worse.  Looking at the 2012 edition of Best Colleges from U.S. News and World Report, ASU came in fourth in the West for regional universities with the lowest levels of debt owed by graduates.  Thus losing all this financial backing was incredibly demeaning, disappointing and yes, could even be termed ugly, as the college had worked so hard and been so successful.  In addition, its six-year graduation rate is approximately 10 to 15 percent lower than its peer institutions.

Surely there should be some kind of solution for a college such as ASU that is clearly working hard to be the best it can be, proving itself by attracting tons of students to its campus?  Why does education have to be just about money?  Why can’t it be more about student talent, faculty dedication and a constant strive for improved quality in everything being offered under its tutelage?  This is “Progress 2012”?  If that’s the case then there’s clearly something wrong with the system; the system that loses funding apparently in spite of its greater efforts and success which ultimately acts as a boomerang effect on what it has – successfully – set out to do.

US-China Battles





Proview Pissed with Apple

Usually it’s the western companies accusing their eastern counterparts of copying their stuff.  But with Shenzhen Proview Technology and Apple, Inc., it has been the other way around.  This might shed some light on why US companies simply want to avoid doing business in Asian countries.

Basically, Proview (the company in mega debt) claimed that it legally bought the rights to the iPad trademark back in 2009. The Shanghai Pudong New Area People's Court ruled against Apple.  One foreign relations expert, Adam Segal used this example to point to the problems of Americans doing business in China, saying “I think it’s an issue of how laws are interpreted and how they’re implemented and what you can expect from different level courts.” 

Cutting Their Noses Off

But isn’t Shenzhen really cutting its nose off to spite its face?  When Proview decided that the iPads shouldn’t be sold in Shanghai anymore all it succeeded in doing was aggravating its citizens.  And ultimately that will boost the popularity of Apple even further which has to be annoying at best for Proview. 

Plus Proview has to know that its now arch-enemy Apple is not going to take this lying down.  Proview has now implied it will try and resolve the dispute out of court.  Why?  Well, Apple sent the company a letter accusing Proview of bad-mouthing it through the media which of course is illegal.  So what started as Proview trying to attack Apple, might end up biting it in the ass and it having to defend itself.

In addition, as Daniel Eran Dilger tweeted, “funny that Proview was deemed likely to get big money from Apple for its disputed IPAD trademark, given that it was an iMac ripoff from '98.” And he’s right.

Lessons Learned

What does this teach us?  Pick your battles.  Don’t go after someone double (or probably more like quadruple) the size of you.  And if you do have to, make sure you have all the facts before you start.  It’s pretty obvious that the amount of companies that have successfully taken to Apple to court and won can be counted on one hand or less.

Mayan ‘Doomsday’ Prophecy Boosts Mexican Tourism

2012 is a famous year, known for the Mayan ‘Doomsday’ prophecy.

The ancient nation was highly educated, and influenced greatly by astronomy. The Mayan calendar starts in 3114 BC, and marks its time in “B’ak’tun”s- periods that last around 394 years. The 13th B’ak’tun, a number sacred to the nation, ends on December 21st, 2012. Some hold that the dreaded date will bear disaster, while others believe it marks the end of an era. Though the first opinion is more popular, archaeologists tend to think the 2012 reference, which is marked on a stone tablet over 1,300 years old, merely marks the end of a cycle, and not the end of the world.

Not surprisingly, tourism in Mayan regions is booming. Curiosity involving the Mayan prophecy and culture in general has brought flocks of visitors to the nation’s ancient cities throughout Southeast Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

The Mexican government plans to attract over 52 million tourists to these states alone throughout the upcoming year.

“The world will not end. It is an era,” said Yeanet Zaldo, a spokeswoman for Quintana Roo in the Caribbean. “For us, it is a message of hope.”

Modern Mayan civilizations are preparing for the date in different ways. Tapachula, a city on the Guatemalan border, is installing an 8-feet-tall digital clock to count down the hours until December 21t, while other nearby sites will burn incense and offer prayers before the great event.

The Mayan villages will performs these rites, allowing visitors to “go back in time and try to understand the Mayan wisdom,” Zaldo explained.

Hundreds of Mayan-themed events will be held throughout southern Mexico as well, showcasing the ancient civilization and its culture through workshops, shows, music and dance festivals.

Eye on Fashion: Boobs and Bucks


Where Weird is Wonderful

It’s Milan Fashion Week and it seems like if it’s not weird, it’s just not wonderful.  But can that sometimes go a bit far and end up as stupid and tacky?  Apparently the world of fashion and its shows don’t think so.  With that theory, the 2012 collections will certainly be “wonderful” in the stir some of them have been causing amongst the guests and media. 

Maybe it’s a good thing though since some of the guests seem to want to burn holes in their proverbial pockets, with the amount of money they will be spending, especially those well-to-do Asian fashion-lovers itching to come away with something totally different.  Well they won’t be disappointed.  The big names include:  Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Prada, John Richmond, Alberta Ferretti amongst others. 

Bringing Home Big Bucks?

So does it look like these big names will be making big bucks as well as being wacky? It’s not so clear.  According to the National Chamber of Italian Fashion, it seems that sales will be down 5.2 percent this year from a 5.5 percent growth they enjoyed in 2011.  This may be surprising there were similar growth levels enjoyed in 2010.  The main hope for this year though is realistic: not to have a huge growth, but just not to end up with losses encountered in 2008/9 when sales plummeted 15 percent.

Mega Madness not in Milan

If you’re goal is to find weird freaky stuff though, it’s not necessarily Milan you want to be an observer at, but the Alta Roma Fashion Week. There you will be privy to Gianna Molara’s boob.  Well, the designer isn’t baring her boob per se, but she is sending out a model on to the catwalk dressed top to toe as yes, a boob.  The model remained anonymous (who would want to go out on a catwalk proudly sprouting a boob outfit and then be chatting amongst the audience later on) and wore a nude triangular get-up with one breast plastered across her chest.

And for those who didn’t quite get the breast picture in full, the audience was privy to a different model wearing a bunch of umbrellas that were sewn together to create a large skirt which revealed her real life breast as opposed to an entire body “modeling” as a boob.

Other Fashion Week Faux Pas

Getting weird in a different way, it would be understandable if one were to ask Sadie Frost what on earth she let her 11-year old daughter wear at the Vivienne Westwood Show at London Fashion Week.  On first glance, Iris’s outfit just looked like a sweet little girl’s dress, with lots of love hearts printed on it. But, on closer inspection, given that the “love hearts” didn’t quite have such sweet messages but instead phrases that included: ‘Blow Me,’ ‘Eat Sh*t,’ ‘Please Drown’ and others, it does make one question whether Ms. Frost knew of her daughter’s outfit before she showed it at one of the top fashion events of the year.

Ultimately, European Fashion Weeks are always going to have something a little daring on show, otherwise there’d be nothing for the media to moan about. But please, at least make it classy – the boob and the blatantly boorish love hearts dress don’t quite fit that bill.