From the Editor

Out in Front: Blinded by the Light

May 1, 2011By

To illustrate the fix we’re in, Logan Scott offered this analogy for out-of-band interference during the April webinar, “LightSquared and GPS: Our Story So Far.” We’re driving at night and come upon a bicylist with one of those little flashing lights. That’s the GPS signal. So far, so safe. We know the bicyclist’s position. Then around the bend comes a truck with its headlights on high-beam, in the adjacent lane, but brights set at our eye level. That’s the LightSquared signal. Where’s the bicyclist? Uh oh. read more

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Out in Front: Dual Use, Single Front

April 1, 2011By

As it was in the beginning, now and always, and to the ages of ages — or at least into the conceivable near future: GPS was, is, and shall be a dual-use system. Why, then, reading through the March 15 report of the Technical Working Group (TWG) to the FCC on LightSquared/GPS interference, do we find no mention at all of military receivers? read more

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Out in Front: Act Now to Protect GPS Signal

March 1, 2011By

GPS has become a key component of the U.S. national infrastructure, the driver of a significant part of the civilian economies of the world, and the enabler of millions of professional precision uses and consumer benefits. The viability of the GPS signal is now threatened — ironically by what appears to be a misguided attempt to increase accessibility to broadband by creating a needless zero-sum result for customers who want both services. The threat is real and immediate. read more

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Out in Front: Tech and Techer

February 1, 2011By

Can the development and use of smart technologies actually render us dumber? Have we already lost a mental step or two, as we equip ourselves fearlessly for the future? Marshall McLuhan, the “medium is the message” guy from back when, preached that tools numb whatever part of the body they amplify. By extrapolation, location-enabling tools render us less aware of our actual place. read more

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Out in Front: Ten Big Ones in Five

January 1, 2011By

At the opposite end of this book, my esteemed colleague Eric Gakstatter gives you his Top Five news stories of the recently passed year, from a system point of view. Spend five minutes here in this column, and I’ll toss up the Top Ten for GNSS business, as reported in this magazine. Not the biggest money deals or revenue generators, at least not in the short term. But the most significant in terms of breaking new ground, pushing out frontiers, integrating with other technologies — the modes through which industry grows and prospers. read more

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Out in Front: One and One

December 1, 2010By

Two figures for your holiday mulling here. I keep putting one and one together, and coming up with three. The first one points to a value of $1,000 billion. Or, as we like to say, one trillion dollars. That has a nice ring to it. The second one hovers at a lower level, around $230 billion, not nearly as melodic as the first. But if the second one creates the first one, how much magic is there in that — do you see what I’m saying? read more

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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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