From the Editor

Out in Front: An Open or Shut Case

November 1, 2010By

Engineers are an eager lot, by and large. They like talking about their work, openly showing information and results, testing their work against data and alternate hypotheses, getting feedback and even critique from colleagues near and far. They value an iterative, elaborative, collaborative process. Politicians and business managers, on the other hand, tend to the dour. They would rather not show their hand, nor do they care to hear what you think of their organization’s work, citing intellectual property or national security reasons. read more

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Out in Front: Welcome to Accuracy Anonymous

October 1, 2010By

Hi, my name is Alan, and I’m an accuracy addict. I got my first taste of accuracy back in 2000 when I started at GPS World, and discovered the vast range of very advanced things that people were doing with the signals of the Global Positioning System. This filled me with a great feeling of elation, expansiveness, and effectiveness. I can position anything. I can track anything. I can go anywhere, and know where I am. I can direct something else to go somewhere, and have it hit exactly on target. I can examine the minute movements of the earth, the swaying of skyscrapers, the moisture content of the atmosphere, and I can know all. I began to feel the illusion of omnipotence — of power over all. The more I found out about accuracy, the more I used it, the more addicted I became. read more

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Out in Front: Beyond Cute

September 1, 2010By

Michibiki has more Twitter followers than you and me put together. All of you, and all of me with my 17 followers. Michibiki hit 16,284 when I signed on just now, and she (he?) has not yet even emerged upon the global stage. Perhaps by the time you read this, if the September 11 launch date holds true, s/he will be an orbiting, broadcasting entity. read more

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Out in Front: EGNOS Up

August 1, 2010By

We now definitively declare “curtain up!” on the second act of the human and technological drama, Interoperable Global Navigation Satellite Systems, by many authors, directors, and actors, upon the global stage. It happened on August 2 with removal of the message 0 (“Do Not Use in aviation”), by the European Satellite Services Provider, from the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) signal. It enables EGNOS use for en-route and lateral guidance approaches. read more

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Out in Front: Welling Up

July 1, 2010By

One of the first industrial uses of GPS came in survey and seismic exploration for offshore oil, as evidenced by the cover story of this magazine’s September 1992 issue. A salient passage from that 18-year-old “Quality Control For Differential GPS in Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration” article: “Users are in danger of being mesmerized by the apparent simplicty of the technology and abandoning quality-control principles . . . . The key to routine operations is rigorous real-time quality control.” Eerily, among the companies acknowledged for support of that article was BP Exploration. read more

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Letters to the Editor

July 1, 2010By

Our readers respond to the cover features in the May and June issues: the two-part special the "Origins of GPS" and Richard Langley's look at "GPS by the Numbers." read more

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Out in Front: Brussels Calling

June 1, 2010By

The European Commission rang up the other day, concerned that a recent column contained misperceptions about the Galileo Open Service Signal-in-Space Interface Control Document (ICD). I replied that if misperception exists, it is shared by at least some in industry.Though the EC has abandoned a plan to charge for licenses, its requirement for a free license and continued talk of patents on the Galileo signal dampen industry enthusiasm for making Galileo receivers, at least in North America. read more

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Out in Front: What’s in a Number?

April 1, 2010By

Computers killed a trusty companion of my teenage years. That is, after those proto-computers known as pocket calculators knocked him out and left him unconscious on the cooling floor. But I come to praise my slide rule, not to bury him. With computers, it’s just numbers in, numbers out. Maybe that high-tech approach led both the GPS Wing and the Government Accountability Office into trouble with constellation gaps. read more

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