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Comment Re:That's not how the law works. (Score 1) 523

There is very serious whistleblower protection in military law - if someone in the U.S. military reports wrongdoing, and then faces retribution by their chain-of-command, then it becomes a matter of the DoD Inspector General.
In this case, however, even if Manning had intended to blow the whistle on an act or a number of acts, that was an impossible case to make considering the volume of classified material he sneaked out of his work and released. He did not attempt to report anything through his superiors before spewing classified information all over the internet. In his own words, he wanted to spread "[a]narchy in CSV format", which means he will go to federal prison for the remainder of his days. He maliciously damaged the country he swore to defend, bragged, and got caught. He's done.

Comment Re:Controversy what? (Score 1) 245

They are controversial because they are rather indiscriminate weapons; figures vary wildly but a midrange one would be that they kill about 10 civilians for each target killed. There's a tradeoff between killing terrorists and alienating the civilian population.

Really? 10 to 1 is a midrange? Indiscriminant? If you have a good information source, please share. I feel we both want the same thing - fewer dead civilians, but I suspect you are using very bad assumptions.

In the Human Rights Watch report "Troops in Contact" they go out of their way to say that planned strikes result in few civilian deaths, and that the bulk of civilian casualties come from coalition land forces coming under fire and calling in air strikes to take out insurgents who are using civilians as human shields. Unmanned drones, by their very nature, are slow and are not used for close air support of ground troops. A-10s, helicopters, fighters, and even B-2 and B-52 bombers have been used for close air support, some carrying heavy weapons.

Using your reasoning, there would be fewer precision strikes by unmanned drones (carrying missiles with 20 pound warheads) against evaluated targets, and more ground troops under fire screaming into their radios for close air support by aircraft carrying large bombs, resulting in more dead civilians. The whole reason for using precision laser guided missiles such as Hellfire II (used by Predator and other UAVs), is to limit civilian casualties.

Comment Re:1.4 billion? What is that describing? (Score 2, Informative) 200

I second the opinion that the $1.4B is for proof-of-concept. Reuters reported that the contract was for the System Design and Demonstration phase of the contract, with which the Army buys two orbits of two aerostats (likely engineering design models) for testing and evaluation.

Regarding the aerostats floating over Iraq and Afghanistan now, these are likely the Persistent Threat Detection System.

Comment Re:Did you read those notes? (Score 1) 490

Ditto on the summary. Looking at the bigger picture, it's a good thing that foreign students attend U.S. universities. They pay more for their education, they frequently get better educations than what they get in their home countries, and after a few years they go home with a decent understanding of the U.S. Making it attractive for them to get hired for a short period while on their student visa is not a bad thing either. Angry mobs screaming "the ferriners are taking our jobs!" is usually a very bad thing for all involved.

Comment Re:Sure, runs on GNU/Linux (Score 1) 477

Except it's GNU/Linux running COBOL code.

It's been a while since I've taken a CS class, but doesn't COBOL compile to a binary? For what the USPS needs, it was probably more economical to port their old COBOL code over to Linux, instead of rewriting ungodly numbers of processes in a snazzy new language that 1) they may not know as well 2) wouldn't necessarily run faster than the stuff written originally in COBOL.

Comment Re:Polish Cipher Bureau cracked Enigma (Score 1) 122

Kind of a nasty spin you put on this story. The British don't deny Polish involvement, and TFA didn't mention the Polish because that's exactly not what this story is about. Also, using a little logic, if the British don't honor their own over concerns over secrecy, they sure won't honor Poles for similar effort. In any case, I'd leave it to the Polish government to honor their cryptologists, if they haven't done so already.

Comment Re:Excuse me, (Score 1) 169

"how come the government is allowed to dump its old stuff in the sea and the rest of us have to pay for disposal?"

The U.S. government pays dearly for disposal, it's just that reefing old ships after many millions of dollars in preparation is more cost effective than scrapping under the current U.S. government environmental rules. Read this if you want to know more:

Comment Re:Just Like When He Led Microsoft (Score 1) 841

One flaw in your logic - the rich can afford prophylactic anti-malarial medications and do not get infected if they are taking them. The poor generally do not have access to the same, and that's the point of Mr. Gates' presentation.

Also, the only Dengue Fever anyone will catch in Long Beach is the band. The type of mosquitoes that carry dengue don't live there.

Submission + - Radiohead allows fans to decide on price 2

radicalskeptic writes: "Radiohead, a band known to be unhappy with other music download services, has decided to release their next album, "In Rainbows", in two formats: a £40 boxed set and a digital download. What's the catch? Customers who purchase the digital download are able to name their own price for the album. This is the first Radiohead release since their contract with EMI expired. As "The Majors" continue to lose relevance, can we expect more of this type of experimentation and flexibility from independent artists?"

Submission + - Vista Deactivated by Installing / Running Programs

growse writes: "It seems that even the most every day tasks can cause Vista to deactivate itself and require reactivation. Ed Bott has written about his experiences with such issues and includes a screenshot gallery of what the user experiences when Vista decides to deactivate itself. Microsoft has a support document about the issues here.

Is this an indication of more anti-piracy screwups to come? It seems that we're past the point of anti-piracy measures being only inconvenient for pirates, so now that legitimate users are being affected will they start to look for other OS options?"
Wireless Networking

Submission + - VoIP Over WiFi for Businesses

Michael Talbert writes: "The convergence of data and voice networks in the business environment takes on a new twist with the emergence of wireless networking. The freedom of mobility offered to users in a wireless LAN has proven to provide a noticeable boost in productivity, efficiency, and employee morale. No longer is the work force tied to their desk when on the job. Workers can access company files and receive important communications from anywhere on the company campus that's in range of a wireless access point.

With voice communications thrown into the mix, mobile users can stay in touch while roaming the property inside or out, and even on the road. The acceptance of the fixed to mobile convergence concept by the telecommunications industry only promises to fuel the fire for the adoption of VoIP over WiFi networks.

The Challenges of Implementing VoIP over WiFi Networks

As with any emerging technology, there are challenges to overcome. The development of the converged network, i.e. data and voice on the same IP based LAN, while yet to be an established norm, is proving to be beneficial for businesses from both a cost and productivity perspective. Adding the prospect of VoIP over a wireless network brings up a whole new set of issues.

VoIP is a time sensitive technology. Calls must be set up and authenticated, and voice packets must arrive at their destination without interruption and on time. This requires a near continuous network stream, uninterrupted by less sensitive data transmissions. The implementation of Quality of Service techniques on wired LANs assure that these voice packets receive priority, and call quality issues such as latency, jitter, and packet loss have been sufficiently addressed.

Enter the standards based wireless network, a technology in an earlier stage of development, and more challenges occur. While today's wired network provides plenty of bandwidth for both voice and data to coexist, WLANs provide less bandwidth, and Quality of Service issues must be revisited. Security measures such as authentication and encryption must be implemented and can add to the problem by increasing the size of the voice packet. Additionally, users on the move will traverse wireless access points where handoffs must be quick and smooth.

The IEEE 802 standards governing wireless technology are evolving rapidly and promise to deal with a broad spectrum of WiFi issues (see sidebar). Increasing the bandwidth available, prioritizing voice packets for QoS, authentication and encryption protocols for security, and enhanced roaming techniques are all being addressed.

Also in development is the wireless technology commonly known as WiMax, providing for the implementation of high bandwidth wireless communications covering distances of up to 30 miles. The evolution of WiMax could prove of great consequence to developing countries, as well as Metropolitan LANs.

Security in a VoIP/WiFi Network

Companies wishing to implement wVoIP must take security issues into consideration from the start. As in any IP network, the dangers of hackers, denial of service, highjacking and spam, all lurk in the shadows.

Because a wireless network uses radio frequencies as its transmission media, the security normally provided by a firewall in a wired network is not sufficient, simply because of the physics. Whereas to break into a wired LAN requires hackers to either physically be inside the network or to hack in through the Internet, in a WLAN they can grab network transmissions from the air while parked across the street. The security issues that network managers must consider in a VoWLAN are the privacy of conversations, and the protection of the network infrastructure.

For WiFi networks, security has had a shaky start with the implementation of WEP as its security mechanism. WEP provides for authentication and encryption between the user and the access point, and was found to be easily hacked. The 802.11i standard, adopted as WPA2 (Wireless Protected Access), provides for more robust security by requiring two way authentication between the user and the network, and uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) as its encryption engine.

As network managers plan the rollout of a wireless VoIP network, the greatest security threat they face is improper implementation. Building security into the design of the initial deployment can, and should affect the network topology, as well as material costs. Failure to do so could lead to further expenses in loss of services and network redesigns in the event of compromise.

WiFi, VoIP, Fixed Lines, and the Cellular Networks

Manufacturers of cellular devices are incorporating WiFi radios into their handsets at an ever increasing rate. New versions of mobile operating systems are coming out complete with a built in VoIP stack, inviting carriers and manufacturers to add VoIP functionality to their devices. Dual and Quad band cell phones can choose between the strongest network available, cellular or WiFi, and place a call accordingly.

As cell phones become more like mobile offices, the benefits of a mobile work force become apparent. In the case of the road warrior, the ability to communicate via email, text messaging, video or voice, allows them to stay on the road longer without losing touch. In the age of instant information, mobile office applications allow files to be downloaded, edited, and uploaded, increasing the productivity of the traveler to the point where just about anything that can be done in the office can be done on the road.

A cell phone that can switch between cellular and WiFi networks can significantly reduce telecommunications costs at the corporate office. With WiFi hotspots popping up at hotels, cafes, and corporate LANs across the globe, mobile workers can stay in touch with office and family both on and off the job. With the addition of a VoIP service provider, cheaper VoIP calls can be made from any WiFi network at the push of a button.

Imagine if you will, a future where one phone, with one phone number, can seamlessly traverse cellular networks, WiFi networks, cable and PSTN landlines. Where roaming and switching between disparate networks occur without interruption or loss of call quality. Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMS) is the buzzword of the decade, and the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture is the standard that promises to get us there.

The goal of IMS is to provide all the services and applications that the Internet provides, both current, and as of yet unimagined. IP based services such as VoIP, Push to talk cellular (POC), videoconferencing, text messaging, community services, presence information and file sharing are just some of the possibilities. Designed to work with any fixed, mobile or wireless packet switched network, backwards compatibility for the legacy circuit switched phone system is provided through the use of gateways.

Although still in its infancy, IMS is already being implemented by AT&T as the platform in its newly acquired Cingular cellular network. Interest in investing in a new infrastructure by mobile and fixed operators has been up and down, as they weigh the costs and benefits of the new technology.

As the technology of VoIP over WiFi networks continues to develop, businesses of all sizes can reap the benefits of increased mobility, productivity, and significant cost savings. Standards committees are constantly working on ways to increase security and quality of service, and as fixed mobile convergence gains acceptance in the telecommunications industry, more choices in the services offered and the IP applications available to businesses are sure to follow.

What will also be interesting to watch, is how these very bandwidth intensive applications will be priced by the carrier networks, and how it will affect the neutrality of the Internet."

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