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Thinking Aloud

July 18, 2012

Can Congress Rescue Itself?

In the 1974 Mel Brooks’ movie, Blazing Saddles, one of the characters — surrounded by his enemies — points a gun at his head and tries to escape by taking himself hostage.

As I recall, he gets away with the absurd move and survives to fight another day. That’s Hollywood!

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By Dee Ann Divis
May 27, 2012

IP Rights and Wrongs

As Desi Arnaz often said to Lucille Ball during an “I Love Lucy” episode on TV, “You’ve got some ’splaining to do.”

I refer, of course, to the untoward and unexpected initiative by the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) to patent the technical innovations that underlie the planned next generation of civil GNSS signals.

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By Dee Ann Divis
March 29, 2012

LightSquared Lessons Learned

Oh no! Not another learning experience!

Bumper sticker wisdom after the fact, but better late than never.

As this issue of Inside GNSS heads off to the printer, the regulatory phase of the GPS/LightSquared controversy appears to be winding down, and the litigation phase warming up.

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By Dee Ann Divis
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January 19, 2012

GPS – The DoD’s Profit Center

Why Washington continues to talk about deficits while the country is talking about jobs and foreclosures is kind of a mystery, but let’s play along.

Following the failure of Congress’s would-be budget-cutting committee that wasn’t so super, the Department of Defense is facing about $500 billion in mandatory cuts over the next 10 years.

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By Dee Ann Divis
November 16, 2011

Oh No! Not LightSquared Again!


Please. Please. Please. 

Can we please talk about something besides LightSquared?

Not yet? You mean, they are still here?

And we have so many other GNSS-related topics that deserve comment: 

Some peculiar cuts in civil GPS funds and GPS III budgets being proposed by congressional committees. 

A re-examination — aka analysis of alternatives — of GPS and PNT options in general. Space weather and an impending solar max. Warrantless GPS-aided tracking before the Supreme Court.

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By Inside GNSS
September 13, 2011

Worst GPS President Ever?

First, let’s review the record of presidential leadership in GPS.

In 1983, following the shooting down of an errant Korean airliner over Soviet airspace, President Ronald Reagan ordered the U.S. Air Force to make GPS available for civilian use so that such navigational errors could be avoided in the future.

George H. W. Bush was commander in chief in 1991 during the first Persian Gulf when GPS helped coalition troops throw the so-called “left hook” by navigating through the desert around entrenched Iraqi troops in Kuwait.

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By Inside GNSS
July 26, 2011

The Fire Next Time

What have we learned from the LightSquared fiasco?

Aside from the fact that someone gambling with other people’s money, with friends in high places benefiting from his largesse, can make the law stand on its head and our hair stand on end.

But then, we already knew that.

Just because the forces behind the broadband cellular company, Philip Falcone and Harbinger Investments, made their money by betting against the housing bubble doesn’t take away from the fact that they represent the same crew who helped take down the world economy in 2007.

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By Inside GNSS
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May 24, 2011

A Target — Possibly Moving

Up here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest — yes, the sun is shining; hence, my enthusiasm — we have a wealth of wildlife. It goes nicely with the splendid landscape.

We have birds of all songs and colors. (Migratory Western tanagers passing through right now.) A selection of bears, mountain lions, the occasional wildcat. A surfeit of deer. 

Even buffalo and grey wolves are making their comeback.

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By Inside GNSS
March 21, 2011

Can You Hear Us Now?

Most of us who have ever gotten onto an airplane know the drill: when the doors are closed and sealed and the pilots push back from the terminal, the mobile phones are turned off — along with other portable electronic devices.

There’s a reason for that. Airline operators and the Federal Aviation Administration wish to avoid any possible interference with the aircraft’s avionics that support its navigation and communications functions.

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By Dee Ann Divis
January 21, 2011

Your Signal Is My Noise

Most people probably don’t associate engineers and linguistic virtuosity.

The attitude is unfair, of course, as with so many stereotypes.

And also untrue.

For example, as the number of existing or planned GNSS systems grew during the past few years, the expression “Your signal is my noise” has recurred in the engineering community with increasing frequency.

I consider that an elegant, if ominous, turn of phrase. A simple declarative sentence, pithy, with an ironic edge, yet almost lyrical.

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By Inside GNSS
October 1, 2010

Launch Fever

It is not all about the satellites, of course.

And, despite the thrill of launches — the Fourth of July and every other national holiday celebration all grown up — it’s not about the rockets.

When evaluating the progress of GNSS programs, however, satellites and launches are a way to keep count — in fact, it is the way most of us do keep count.

By that measure, then, the numbers are adding up quickly.

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By Inside GNSS
August 27, 2010

The Missing ICD

Successful launch of three Compass (Beidou-2) satellites so far this year and reports of another two planned later in 2010 have elevated awareness of China’s accelerating GNSS program.

Added to the two spacecraft placed in orbit in 2007 and 2009, that would bring the modernized Beidou constellation up to seven — halfway to the 13 or 14 satellites planned for the regional system scheduled to be available by 2012.

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By Inside GNSS
July 21, 2010

Interesting. Too Interesting?

In the world of GNSS we usually think of more as better. More systems, more satellites, more signals — all contribute to greater availability of robust positioning, navigation, and timing.

Certainly that was the mood at the June meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation — GNSS Implementation Team (APEC-GIT) in Seattle, Washington.

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By Inside GNSS