The Effect of Earplugs in Preventing Hearing Loss From Recreational Noise Exposure (A Systematic Review)

This is an interesting review of a study of how effective ear plugs are in the workplace. We take for granted that people working in loud factories wear protective hearing, but many of the clubs, pubs, concerts and festivals that have as equal levels of sound. As they say below, it isn’t mandatory to wear ear plugs in such environments, which defies common sense and possibly causes more damage than we understand. Here you can find the original source of the review.

A review of the literature turned up only two high quality studies that looked at whether wearing earplugs to music venues will prevent hearing loss and tinnitus directly afterward.

Dr. Wilko Grolman and colleagues at University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands searched for published studies containing the keywords “music” and “earplugs” and screened 228 resulting papers. All but four were not eligible for inclusion in the review and only two were highly relevant and did not have a high risk of bias, in the reviewers’ estimation.

Two studies simply examined people who chose on their own to wear or not wear earplugs, while two randomized controlled trials tested what happened when participants were assigned to wear earplugs or not.

Two studies reported on hearing loss and tinnitus while one only reported hearing loss.

The two best studies were different enough that the researchers couldn’t combine their data and analyze the results, the reviewers wrote. Both included 29 concert attendees and performed audiometry before and after the concerts. In one study, participants were allowed to choose whether or not they wore earplugs, and only three chose to wear them.

“Frankly, with such a small comparator group between three subjects and the others, it would be hard to assess validity of plugs or not,” said Dr. Jennifer Derebery, president of the Los Angeles Society of Otolaryngology and lead author of the first study.

“We had trained them all in proper insertion, and encouraged but not required wearing them,” Derebery told Reuters Health by email.

In the other study, 15 participants were assigned to the earplug group.

In general, wearing earplugs did reduce hearing loss directly after the concerts, but did not eliminate it completely, as reported online March 3 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

“Ear plugs are effective in preventing hearing loss when they are used both correctly and consistently,” said Colleen G. Le Prell, the Emilie and Phil Schepps Professor of Hearing Science at the University of Texas at Dallas, who was not involved in the review.

“This systematic review highlights the very limited data on prevention of recreational music-induced hearing loss using earplugs,” Le Prell told Reuters Health by email.

“At younger ages, loud toys, firecrackers, loud video games, personal stereos or personal music players, lawnmowers or leaf blowers, sporting events or air shows, or other non-music events might be more likely noisy activities than music venue attendance,” Le Prell said. “A significant number of youth are also involved in target shooting activities, which children can get involved with through Boy Scouts or other organizations.”

For teens and young adults, repeat exposures to amplified music at clubs, concerts, festivals, or other related events may damage the inner ear and result in hearing loss, she said.

“Most concerts are both loud enough, and long enough, that they are likely to exceed the total daily exposure allowed by workplace safety regulations,” she said. “Sound exposure also commonly occurs via loud music delivered via personal listening devices, at sporting or other recreational events, and at jobs that involve lawn-mowing, use of power tools, or construction services.”

For workplace noise exposure, “we are not doing a very good job achieving correct and consistent use of hearing protection devices (HPD), including both ear plugs and ear muffs,” she said.

“In the United States, it is relatively uncommon for music venues to provide ear plugs at no charge,” Le Prell said. Even if they were provided, people may need to be educated in why using them is important and in how to use them correctly, she said.

“As a neurotologist, it really is upsetting to see these kids coming in younger and younger with a completely preventable hearing loss,” Derebery said.

Some styles of Bluetooth earpieces

Bluetooth technology has been designed for many different purposes and situations. Consequently, when people want to buy a bluetooth ear piece for a specific situation, there are some things that they will need to consider. Specifically, based on their specific situation and circumstances, they will need to review the best style of bluetooth earpiece that is available on the market today. Since there are different styles that have been made for for one or more reasons, it’s important for each individual to do their research to see which style can accommodate their needs. It is also important to note that the kind the person purchases must be comfortable so that they can wear them for an extended period of time and they fit the devices that they will be used for. Listed below are three of the bluetooth styles that’s currently offered by manufactures all over the United States and abroad.

Bluetooth ear pieces for Mobile Phones

Most people take their mobile phones wherever they go. To work, school, church, parties and all kinds of other events that they may attend. Because these phones have become commonplace in many environments, people have a need to handle them and talk to others when their hands are free. This is also a great reason for individuals who work in certain settings to make sure that they are buying the right style that will best fit their needs.

One specific style that some people may choose is the ear cradle style of headphone. In fact, this kind of bluetooth earpiece is idea for people who want to spend their time working out and performing all kinds of other extracurricular activities. People are also encouraged to buy this kind of style because they may be driving when they receive a telephone call from a family member. Or, they may be working at the job typing a memo or walking around taking care of wide hosts of other kinds of activities that are not conducive to holding a mobile phone by hand to the ear. Whatever the situation, this style of bluetooth earpiece technology is great for many different situations and purposes.

Bluetooth ear pieces and Headsets for Music Lovers

In addition to the cradle style for mobile phones, people should also review other styles as well. One specific style that is also functional in many different settings is the DJ over the head headphones. This style has been designed for the serious music lovers, especially those who can appreciate making distinctions in sounds and beats that come from specific musical instruments like the bass, violin, trumpet and other popular instruments. For those who like and prefer this kind, they will also find that this is one of the best styles for keeping out outside noises that normally interfere with a person’s overall entertainment experience. Also, because they are wireless, they are great for people who like to stay mobile during the day instead of remaining in a sedentary position.

Bluetooth Ear Pieces for IPODs

In some situations, people may want to use bluetooth technology with their IPODs. Therefore, they should consider buying an additional popular style bluetooth earpiece technology. This style is known to be very popular, specifically because it is similar to an actual earbud. An ear bud is also another excellent choice for people who want to remain both active and hassle free. Though this is a great choice for people who like to remain mobile in a wide variety of different situations, one of its main draw backs is that they tend to fall out of the individuals ear. Which means, they can also be lost since it lacks additional support to keep them stabilized inside the ear.

Depicting as a method of communication

This is an interesting review of a paid article, depicting which is represent by a drawing, painting, or other art form can be used as a form of communications, the type of depicting is described here in many different forms and that is where we will allow the article to take up the story.

When we think of language, we usually think of words, phrases, and sentences–strings of abstract symbols. In research over the past 50 years, cognitive and social scientists have developed extensive accounts of how people communicate with these symbols. But when people are face to face, they also communicate with actions that depict people, objects, and events. They create these depictions with their hands, arms, head, face, voice, and entire body, sometimes with other props but often without.

In an article recently published Online First in Psychological Review, Herbert Clark argues that spontaneous depictions like these are missing from general accounts of how people communicate, and that is a major failing. Why? Because depicting is common in everyday conversation and depicting things is fundamentally different from describing things. Also, a great many utterances are “composites” of depicting and describing.

Clark’s point is nicely illustrated in a report, from the New Yorker, of Hollywood director WG telling correspondent TF about having to stop filming in New York because of some falcons nesting on the ledge of a building:

“In L.A., they would have–” He leveled a finger at some imaginary nestlings and made a gun-cocking sound.

As Clark notes, WG could easily have described the scene with the phrase “shot those falcons.” What he did instead was depict the scene with his finger, hand, head, eyes, and voice. The result included a depiction (leveling a finger and making a gun-cocking sound) in place of the phrase “shot those falcons.” Traditional accounts are unable to handle composites like this.

What is depicting? In the theory developed in this paper, to depict something is to stage a scene. When WG leveled his finger at the imaginary falcons, he enacted a shooter in L.A. aiming a rifle at some falcons. And he did that so that his listener could imagine the scene vividly. Depicting is much the same as putting on a play in the theater or engaging in make-believe play.

Depicting, according to Clark, is largely complementary to describing. To begin with, many ideas that are impossible to put into words are easy to depict. Tennis coaches don’t describe how to hold a racket or do a backhand return. They demonstrate it, and in living detail. Music teachers often correct their students by playing or singing what the students should have played or sung. And although it takes years for children to tell coherent stories, they have little trouble depicting stories in make-believe play. They readily enact Cookie Monster, Mother, cops and robbers–and play out what they do.

Depicting is also effective for emotion, excitement, and empathy. In telling stories and passing on gossip, people not only describe, but dramatize what the protagonists said and did, often with passion and attitude. And in apologizing, people not only say “Sorry” but add facial gestures that depict their regret.

The idea, then, is that depicting is a method of communication. Without depictions, talk would be flat, lifeless, and sometimes even impossible.

original source of the article can be found here

Sepura Releases New SC20 Portable Radios

Sepura are masters of the tetra market, they have produced radios for many years for the emergency services. police and airport security, a forward runner for the digital systems we now see all around the UK. The SC20 is the new generation of Sepura radios ready for the modern day work force. We found this article on this website and thought that our readers would find it useful.

First orders of Sepura’s new flagship hand-portable radios, the SC20 series, will be shipped in February.

Shaped by user feedback, SC20 series hand-portable radios are resilient, intelligent and durable, providing intuitive operation and outstanding performance, even in the toughest conditions.

Broadband-ready, the SC2020 (380MHz-430MHz) and the SC2040 (403MHz-470MHz) combine the mission-critical security and advanced performance of TETRA with an optional second high-speed data bearer capability.

A new, powerful Class 3 TETRA engine is paired with a new receiver that surpasses the ETSI specification, a unique combination, extending operational range and stretching coverage into areas where it was not possible before.

The radios’ powerful 2W audio capability, enhanced by unique water-porting technology, allows for uncompromised audio clarity, even in continuous heavy rain. Uniquely, the SC20 series boasts IP66, 67 and 68 environmental protection rating, meaning that it is completely dustproof, submersible to a depth of two metres for one hour and impervious to jets of water. Its design also enables it to be easily cleaned by simply rinsing dust and dirt off under the tap.

Additionally, the radios’ high-resolution screen, the largest on the market today, is specifically designed to provide a richer user experience. The larger screen enables the display of more comprehensive data, suitable for future applications via high-speed data; it is also viewable in all light conditions, including direct sunlight.

“The SC20 has been designed to deliver the highest levels of robustness, endurance, audio clarity and power. It is designed to place and receive calls where it simply was not possible before,” commented Mark Barnby, Sepura’s head of product management – devices.

“This is the first product on our brand new technology platform. It is designed to meet the needs of mission-critical users today, whilst allowing high-speed data to be added in the future.”

Steve Barber, VP group strategy for Sepura, commented: “The SC20 confirms our vision for the future and demonstrates our ability to adapt to the fast-moving markets in which we operate.

“We continue to provide our global customer base with products that address their ever-evolving communication needs and the operational challenges they face every day. The SC20 provides undisputable proof that Sepura is going further in critical communications.”

Who Made the First 2 Way Radio

The first two way radio made its way into the Western market in 1923. Despite its late appearance, the device was primarily conceptualized in 1907 as part of a military communication program. There has been some controversy regarding who first made the two way radio. However, most people seem to attribute this invention to Frederick William Downie, Senior Constable of the Victorian Police in Australia. In this article, we take a look at the path that this radio has traversed through the ages- from 1907 to the 21st century.

Origin of the 2 Way Radio

In the 1900s of Australia, the 2 way radio was installed in police cars and used as means of communication for the purposes of surveillance, checking locations and keeping team mates posted on updates. This was a breakthrough invention for the police as it caused an instant increase in the overall efficiency of working. From instant reports to integrated surveillance systems, the two way radio was pivotal in improving the effectiveness of the Australian police force. Suddenly, people discovered the ease with which the law of the land could be enforced and security could be maintained. This was the one method by means whereof many lives were saved and the state became one of the safest places in the world. Needless to say, the overwhelming response that the two way radio received propelled it to fame and it then became one of the most popular methods of law enforcement in the world.

The popularity of the 2 way radio rose steadily over the years. From police cars, the device’s many uses branched out and it became a part of navy ships and even military operations. Since many mariners and platoon commanders faced problems of communication, the convenience of the two-way radio was highly appealing to all. Transmissions of messages became convenient and there was a certain smoothness that the radio communication afforded to the operations.

The Creation of the Modern Day 2- Way Radio

The global status that the 2 way radio enjoyed is also one of the biggest reasons for its adaptation into various communicative derivatives including the modern day walkie talkie and even the modern cellular phone. Before it achieved this global, improved status; however; the two way radio was one of the most rudimentary objects that could be used in police surveillance. The first radio was so heavy and cumbersome that it used to take up the entire backseat of the police car. While it might have had many benefits, the sheer size and volume of the object made it difficult to catch and apprehend criminals at the earliest. With technological improvements and the right incentive, the two way radio has improved leaps and bounds. What once used to occupy almost half the car space can now be fitted into a pocket with ease, while fulfilling the same purpose as its predecessor.

Uses and Benefits of the Modern Radio

From the 1900s to the 21st century, the two way radio has made immense progress. What earlier was used exclusively by the police had now become an instrument in the civilian space. From law enforcers to children, almost everyone could purchase walkie talkies and use it. This was the first time that the world saw the walkie talkie as an instrument of recreation. These days, walkie talkies are used as much by kids for their games as they are used by professionals in emergency situations. From medical EMTs to firefighters, walkie talkies have become a regular in the city’s working scenario.

One of the biggest uses of walkie talkies these days are in firefighting operations. Coordinating external help and amassing the required support for the rescue operation are common functions that are carried out over the two way radio system that was once pioneered by Downie. Over and above its use in emergency situation, the two way radio is also used for the basic purposes of communication and organization in construction sites, among municipal workers and in many facets of working companies.

Concluding Thoughts

When one considers the many benefits that the 2 way radio has brought to the world population, one cannot help but pay homage to the genius of Frederick Downie. While the remarkable transformation through the ages is something that we must all bear in mind, it is undeniable that the blueprint was an instance of pure creative and imaginative genius. There are multiple uses of the walkie talkie in the modern world today. From communication in emergency situations to its importance for recreation, the modern two way radio is arguably one of the most important facets of communicative technology. All in all, the genesis and development of the two way radio is undoubtedly one of the most outstanding creations of the previous century.

ETRI presents a blueprint of the 5G Future

We will see a huge change in the way we access the the internet in the future when 5G is here, at speeds that only big businesses and high level internet companies see at the moment, we will have this to hand on our smart phones and tablets. When 5G is hundreds of times faster than any of the UK’s broadbands, households will be looking to the mobile phone companies to supply their home broadband.

A 5G future is no longer a distant one, but an upcoming reality. High quality videos of more than 10Mbps can be served simultaneously to 100 users even in a train running at up to 500km/h. People can experience data rates that are 100 times faster than currently available technologies.

The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) of Korea will hold a “5G technology demonstration” on the 18th December, 2015. It will demonstrate future SNS (social network service) and several 5G core technologies such as “millimeter wave”, “Mobile Hot-spot Network”, “in-band full duplex” and so on.

5G is the next generation wireless technology that would provide even faster data rates, even lower delays, and even more devices connected than 4G. Accordingly, distinct and differentiated applications are expected in 5G.

ETRI’s “future SNS” is a kind of trial service model to apply 5G technologies that provides dynamic user-centric connection to neighboring people, things and spaces. It is characterized by instant content-sharing between users, communication with neighboring things, and Giga-bps(Gbps)-grade video applications in vehicles.

5G core technologies demonstrated by ETRI include the following:

— MHN (Mobile Hot-spot Network) is a mobile backhaul technology that provides high-speed Internet access of Gbps in vehicles at speeds of up to 500 km/h (e.g. KTX in Korea). Almost 100 passengers can watch videos of high quality simultaneously.

— ZING is a near-field communication technology that enables mass data to be transmitted with 3.5 Gbps data rate between neighboring devices within the radius of 10cm.

— Single-RF-Chain compact MIMO technology enables a single antenna to simulate the effect of multiple antenna. It can reduce antenna volume and cancel inter-antenna interference in a multi-antenna system.

— Millimeter wave (mmWave) beam switching technology provides fast switching of radio beams to mobile users, and therefore allows seamless Gbps-grade service in mobile environments.

— Mobile Edge Platform (MEP) is a mobile edge cloud server on vehicles that enables passengers to enjoy customized Gbps-grade content and connects them with neighbors, things and spaces. It provides user-centric services.

— In-band Full Duplex technology can transmit and receive signals simultaneously over the same frequency band. It can increase spectral efficiency by up to two times.

— Small cell SW technology is designed for AP(Access Point)-sized small cell base stations that can reduce communication dead zones and improve data rates per user in a hot-spot area.

“With this demonstration event, we are officially introducing our R&D results on 5G. We will continue to lead the development of 5G technologies. Also, we are trying to develop commercialization technologies needed by businesses, and to construct a 5G ecosystem.” said Dr. Hyun Kyu Chung, vice president of ETRI Communication & Internet Lab.

In January, 2016, ETRI will demonstrate Giga internet service and future SNS in a Seoul subway train installed with MHN and ZING kiosks. ETRI will also introduce hand-over technology on a millimeter wave mobile communication system and 5G radio access technology that satisfies 1 millisecond radio latency.

About ETRI

Established in 1976, ETRI is a non-profit Korean government-funded research organization that has been at the forefront of technological excellence for about 40 years. In the 1980s, ETRI developed TDX (Time Division Exchange) and 4M DRAM. In the 1990s, ETRI commercialized CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) for the first time in the world. In the 2000s, ETRI developed Terrestrial DMB, WiBro, and LTE-A, which became the foundation of mobile communications.

Recently, as a global ICT leader, ETRI has been advancing communication and convergence by developing Ship Area Network technology, Genie Talk (world class portable automatic interpretation; Korean-English/Japanese/Chinese), and automated valet parking technology. As of 2015, ETRI has about 2,000 employees where about 1,800 of them are researchers.

Faulty communications along U.S.-Mexico border are America’s blind spot

We all know that mission critical communications are vital 24 hours a day and as this article shows that even a tiny lapse in communications can lead to chaos. Even the U.S government can’t keep their radio communications up-to-date on one of the most watched borders in the world, as we can see from the article below.

Put yourself in the shoes of a U.S. Border Patrol Agent. You are patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border, driving through desolate terrain, and in the distance, you spot movement. You head toward a deep ravine and step out of your vehicle when a shot rings out and you hear the zip of a bullet speeding past your head. With training and instinct, you dive for cover and draw your weapon, reaching for your handheld radio.

And the radio doesn’t work.

There’s no one to call, because you are in one of the many areas of the southern U.S. border that has no radio coverage. Out there in the ravine is a drug cartel “rip crew,” heavily armed and firing on your position, bullets punching into your vehicle until smoke is rising from the hood. If they come closer, you are outnumbered. If they flee, your vehicle is disabled, and they will disappear into the vast emptiness along the southern border, where they will likely fire on one of your fellow agents, should they encounter them.

That is the state of communications along many of the areas on the U.S.-Mexico border. When the U.S. Border Patrol needs it the most, they cannot communicate with anyone. With rising threats and political propositions, U.S. border security has again risen to the top of the public consciousness. There are calls for more border patrol officers and stronger fencing, for aerial and ground based vehicles and other technology. But the lifeblood of the border security apparatus is communication, and in some areas, communication is not possible.

“If there is one thing in securing America’s borders that hasn’t changed since September 11, 2001, it’s the inability to resolve the communications lapses and gaps along the border,” said Ron Colburn, the former National Deputy Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol. “Here we are almost 15 years into this, and we still have not addressed this problem.”

One reason 343 New York City firefighters died when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed was that their radios could not communicate with the emergency responders outside the buildings, who were warning the structures were about to come down. The recommendations of the 9/11 Commission cited the need to create interoperable tools that allow first responders and law enforcement to communicate in the most unforgiving of environments.

And there are few environments less forgiving than the nearly 2000-miles of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Recognizing this, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched a massive project to improve the communications capacity of officers along the U.S. border. It failed. In March last year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that $945 million in taxpayer funding used to build radio towers and upgrade radio equipment has yielded little benefit and in some cases does not work as well as what Border Patrol agents were using before. The effort cost too much and was taking too long.

Colburn said that the state of communications today means U.S. Border Patrol cannot call for support in some areas. They cannot feed information from the field into the intelligence food chain, and they cannot receive images from manned or unmanned vehicles to know whether they are walking into an ambush or encountering a group of friendly forces.

Likewise, Border Patrol agents cannot communicate easily with other law enforcement agencies (like a local Sheriff’s office), nor can those law enforcement agencies run on-site biometric checks (e.g., fingerprints) of individuals they suspect may have recently crossed into the United States illegally.

“I see it in the eyes and hear it in the voices of the men and women of the Border Patrol,” said Colburn. “They understand the mission and they want to accomplish it, but they feel like they have been abandoned.”

Answering the Unanswered Question

Most Americans own a smartphone, which is a powerful piece of technology. Experts say it’s hard to understand how, in this age of technological innovation and advancement, the United States is not arming its frontline officers with the very basic capacity to talk to one another.

Part of the challenge is that we have not brought new solutions to this long-standing problem.

To advance the effort, the Border Commerce and Security Council (of which I am Chairman and CEO) helped bring multiple stakeholders to the table in December last year in Cochise County, Arizona, to see if an innovative application of several integrated technologies could solve these communications challenges. It was a Proof of Concept test that included the U.S. Border Patrol, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and a group of businesses with tools that can address a range of communications and intelligence challenges. What was tested is called the Field Information Support Tool (FIST).

FIST started in 2006 as basic research at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). NPS Information Sciences Research Associate James Ehlert said in 2010 that the goal was to create “an easy-to-use, inexpensive hand-held solution to achieving communications interoperability and a common physical and human terrain operating picture for both on-the-ground field collectors and tactical decision makers.”

The research question was, how can we use modern technology to allow officers in the field to talk to one another and to their superiors while also collecting and then acting on real-time intelligence?

“The intelligence aspect is that the local and federal law enforcement officers need to look at things from a risk-management perspective,” said Brian Conroy, Business Strategy and Strategic Development Manager at NOVA Corporation, which works with Kestrel Technology Group, the company that has produced the FIST system. “They need to find the high-risk areas [along the border], and if you have a tool that collects data and runs algorithms against it, you can conduct risk assessment and trend analyses. Human intelligence contributes to a holistic common operating picture.”

This is what the FIST system achieves, and it’s what was seen during the proof of concept test. In general terms, FIST uses off-the-shelf communications tools (like an Android device) to gather intelligence from officers on the front lines. With these tools, officers feed information into a larger database compiled from a variety of sources (including other officers) that informs strategic and tactical decision making. This is then passed back to the people working along the border.

The need for this kind of tool is obvious, but it has only been recently that the right technologies and software were put together in a way that makes it possible.

Moving to the Market

Over the last year, there has been a push to transition FIST into the marketplace. Research transition is tough, as DHS has found in many cases over the years. Unlike other agencies and components, such as the military branches, the homeland security and law enforcement marketplace is heavily fragmented and with limited resources. It makes it difficult to take good, workable ideas from prototype to production. As big of a challenge as creating an innovative piece of technology is finding a way to produce it in line with operational and funding realities. A local Sheriff’s office, for example, does not have an endless amount of funding and time to bring in expensive technologies and then train deputies to use them. For that matter, neither does the U.S. Border Patrol.

What’s needed is a simpler, cheaper solution, and based on the proof of concept testing, FIST appears to be that solution.

“It’s ideal for smaller law enforcement agencies because it can unify operations and reporting and scale capability, creating a force multiplier,” said Ivan Cardenas, technical director of the Kestrel Technology Group, which is helping to bring FIST to market. “It is a sophisticated system, but it is easier to use than the complexity suggests.”

There are a few moving parts here. There are applications that allow off-the-shelf technologies to record and report intelligence, such as the location of a breach in the border fence or evidence of people moving through the rugged terrain. There are existing law enforcement and Border Patrol network capabilities (or cloud-based tools) that store that information. The secret sauce, however, is the complex digital architecture that allows real-time control and fusion of multiple information sources in a way that supports the mission. This is the one thing that has been missing from the border communications and intelligence efforts, and it’s why DHS has struggled to address the challenges to this point. The innovation is in the complexity, and FIST makes it simple.

Of course, that complex innovation is for naught if the agents in the field cannot transmit and receive intelligence. Enter SiRRAN Communications, another stakeholder at the proof of concept test in Arizona.

“We often forget that without network access, we’re blind,” said SiRRAN’s Director of Sales Mark Briggs. “Our technology brings that cell network to anywhere that it is needed.”

Briggs describes this technology as a portable, battery powered cell network—a network in a box. It creates a local, closed network that any agent within range can access to communicate and record intelligence. The unit provides local communication in areas where there is no coverage, and if there is no way to access the communications grid, it captures intelligence and transmits it to the larger repository as soon as it finds a signal.

The lesson here is not just that FIST is a workable system to satisfy the mission needs of America’s border security and law enforcement professionals. It’s also that the answer to the communications challenges along the border will not come in the form of $1 billion worth of cell towers built under DHS management. If it were, we would have solved this problem by now. The fact that we have not reveals that the ultimate solution is necessarily complex and multifaceted while also being easy to use and in-line with realistic operating budgets.

Perhaps the most important lesson, however, is that there are real tools that our Border Patrol and law enforcement officers could be using. Right now there are thousands of men and women on the border, and until we give them the tools they need to do their job, it will make border security and the safety of our frontline heroes difficult to sustain.

The 19th Century plug that’s still being used

The BBC are on of the most trusted news sources on the planet,  so when stories fly around about the next iphone dropping it’s 3.5mm jack plug and moving to using their own lightning port or bluetooth. We think this is one of the usual stories that flies around before they release any new apple product, but when the BBC picks it up we take note! and this brilliant article shows that the common 3.5mm jack plug has a more of a history than we knew.

After rumours that Apple was going to get rid of the headphone jack in its imminent iPhone 7, more than 200,000 people have signed a petition asking them to reconsider. This humble plug is a rare example of technology that has stood the test of time, writes Chris Stokel-Walker.

For what remains an unconfirmed rumour, a lot of people are upset about the new iPhone. It’s alleged that Apple will be scrapping the 3.5mm socket, instead leaving headphones to be plugged into the “Lightning” port – the company’s own design of socket.

Cynics have pointed out that while this might enable iPhones to be slightly thinner, it will render many headphones useless and force manufacturers to pay Apple a fee to use their Lightning plugs on products.

The petition says Apple’s purported move would “singlehandedly create mountains of electronic waste”.

Two stereo audio jacksImage copyrightiStock

It will also be a blow for a piece of technology that has been remarkably resilient. The 3.5mm headphone jack is essentially a 19th Century bit of kit – it is a miniaturised version of the classic quarter-inch jack (6.35mm), which is said to go back as far as 1878.

Both sizes of plug have a nubbin of metal that nips in before flaring out just before the tip. “It needed to be something that could be inserted and removed very easily, but still make a secure connection,” says Charlie Slee, a member of the Audio Engineering Society.

Initially the quarter-inch jack was used by operators in old-fashioned telephone switchboards, plugging and unplugging connections. “The standard has always been quarter-inch jacks,” says Dr Simon Hall, head of music technology at Birmingham City University.

1st November 1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard oft the House of Commons, London.Image copyrightGetty Images

Image caption1919: Switchboard operators at the telephone switchboard of the House of Commons, London

“Professional headphones in studios, guitar leads – they all run off quarter-inch jacks.”

Of course, as miniaturisation changed audio equipment, so the plug had to have a smaller alternative.

The 3.5mm version quickly became popular, spread by the use of personal headsets on transistor radios in the middle of the 20th Century.

The jack is known as a tip, ring, sleeve – or TRS – connection. The “tip” transfers audio into the left-hand earplug of a stereo headphone set, and the “ring” the right. The “sleeve” is the ground or “shield”. This set-up is stereo – the original mono plugs had only tip and sleeve. Certain modern plugs have a second ring to allow control of a headset microphone or volume.

Annotated photograph showing sleeve, ring and tip of TRS jackImage copyrightiStock/BBC

“Technically speaking, it’s not a bad design,” Slee says of the utilitarian, adaptable design. “If the parts are made cheaply they can break and lose contact, but ultimately it does the job it was designed to do.”

And yet, if the rumours – which Apple is not commenting on – are true, it bodes ill for the 3.5mm jack.

Apple has a track record of being early to abolish things which then start to disappear from rival products too. It killed the 3.5 inch floppy disk early. It also was among the first to remove optical drives.

But those signing the petition on the Sum of Us site and social media users have suggested that Apple’s motive is greed.

Apple lightning cableImage copyrightAlamy

The potential grief in a switch to Apple’s proprietary Lightning connector is obvious.

“It feels painful because you’ve got hundreds of millions of devices out there that are using the old standard,” says Horace Dediu, a technology analyst with in-depth knowledge of Apple.

If you’re using £1,000 headphones with your iPhone at the moment, you’re going to be slightly cross.

And Charlie Slee thinks consumers are also concerned about ceding control to Apple. “People are mainly upset because they like to think they’re in control of their technology,” he says.

But this sense of the consumer in control is misplaced, Slee says. “Actually, the contrary is true: The big technology companies have always been in control of how you listen to music and watch videos.”

The headphones in history

Thomas Alva Edison (1847 - 1931) American scientist, inventor and industrialist, after spending 5 continuous days and nights perfecting the phonograph, listening through a primitive headphone.Image copyrightGetty Images

Image captionScientist Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931) listens to his phonograph through a primitive headphone

The “primitive headphones” (as above) used for listening to early phonographs were simple acoustic tubes.

Headphones are really just ordinary telephone receivers adapted to fit a headset, says John Liffen, Curator of Communications at the Science Museum. The headset usually had just one receiver for a single ear.

The first headsets with a receiver for each ear were just called “telephones”. The name was supplanted by “headphones” by the beginning of the 1920s when they were being widely used to listen to broadcasting via crystal sets.

For many years headphone receivers were the simple “Bell” type with permanent magnet, coil and diaphragm. Today’s high-end ‘phones are considerably more sophisticated, similar to miniature loudspeakers.

Source: John Liffen, The Science Museum


“I think it’s a storm in a teacup,” adds Simon Hall. His reasoning? Having a standardised headphone jack on mobile phones and MP3 players is only a relatively recent luxury.

“If you look at the previous generation of phones, things like Nokia phones, you had to have an adapter,” he reasons. “If you want to connect headphones to professional equipment, you also need a professional adapter.”

As recently as 2010, Samsung phones came equipped with a proprietary headphone port not dissimilar to Apple’s rumoured replacement for the 3.5mm socket, the “Lightning” port.

This isn’t the first time Apple has aroused ire. Way back in 2007, with the first iPhone, it received complaints that the headphone jack was sunk into the casing.

One technology wag called it “a great business plan – break an important device function, and sell the solution for fun and profit.” The problem was fixed when Apple released its second iPhone model in 2008.

But Apple is known for evolving technology: “They got rid of DVDs, they got rid of the floppy disk drive; they got rid of parallel ports, they’re eventually getting rid of USB. This is how they move,” says Dediu, the Apple-watcher. He reckons the switch to Apple’s proprietary connection augurs a planned move to headphones that are akin to the Apple Watch.

Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968Image copyrightGetty Images

Image captionMick Jagger of The Rolling Stones in a London recording studio in 1968

Owners of “old” headphones may find themselves having to buy adapters.

Dediu forecasts a rapid change. “What Apple does is catalyse transitions,” he says. “It would have happened anyway, but if it wasn’t for Apple it’d have taken 10-15 years, but now it’ll happen in 5-7 years.”

That the time may have come for the 3.5mm jack to be replaced shouldn’t come as such a shock, believes Dediu. “Studying Moore’s Law and the history of technology, it’s clear we’re not going to stick around with something analogue for long,” he says. “It’s almost puzzling that it’s taken so long.”

Why Are There So Many Motorola Connector Types?

Since the 1920’€™s Motorola has been leading the advancement of radio technology in more ways than one. From the battery eliminator created in 1928 to the world’s first handheld public safety LTE device created in 2012, Motorola truly has been an innovator in the radio world.

There was one of Motorola’s products that stood out and started paving the way for the Motorola brand name. That was their two-way radio systems. In 1978 Motorola introduced the RDX1000. This device was a portable data terminal. With a built-in keyboard and advanced transmitters, The RDX1000 made it possible for a person to share information, like inventory control, wirelessly with a central computer system. It is because of advancements and products like the RDX1000 that Motorola was awarded the National Medal of Technology twice.

Yet, even with being the one of the leading technological companies they still had their issues. For example, the connectors used for their devices, usually, were confusing and weren’t universal like most of our tech is today. Yes, with being in the lead of the industry with innovative products they needed new forms of connectors and pieces that couldn’t exactly be matched by other companies. To be more specific, the connectors to the Motorola earpieces came with their own specific confusions.

Over the course of the years, Motorola devices have had over 50 different types of earpiece connectors. Motorola earpieces are specific to their devices so the pieces chosen had to be precisely specific to the device it was being matched with. You can imagine, with over 50 different types of connectors, finding the correct corresponding puzzle piece that would fit was imperative. The confusion wasn’t just limited to a small portion of the Motorola accessories. Motorola earpieces were different by model of the same device as well. With the earpieces you can’t exactly go by looks either. Most of the earpieces look very similar with very subtle difference.

Even though some had connectors with very similar differences. Differences ranging from appearance and size of the connector to the type of material used in the pin of the connector itself. This confusion also spans over several different years of manufacturing as well. With connectors from earlier years being a small series of pins in lateral form that would only connect to the proper outlet with the proper series of pins. Or like the single pin connector that would only be in a specific size per model, you wouldn’t exactly be able to take a Kenwood connector and confuse it with a Motorola 2-pin connector because on these connectors the pins are of a different size to the Kenwood. Some specific connectors can be understood considering the advancing of the technology as well as the device it connects to has some significance.

The importance of the device does have some control over the type of connector used as well. Because you don’t want to issue and offer a radio and have to worry about it getting lost or stolen and being used for an inappropriate purpose. But, you would expect a device in the same model family to be able to connect or at least the connectors to be somewhat interchangeable. This isn’t the case with Motorola radios. For example, The DP2400 two way radio takes a Clip on block style of connector. While the DP3400 responder radio has to have a Screw in Block  connector in order for the product to be used properly. Even though the station and responder radio are two different products, they share similarities and commonalities. Also you would expect them to share the same connector.

Unfortunately this is the case with many of the Motorola earpieces.

Mysterious Floating City Appears Around The Skies Over China

A mixture of panic, fear and awe gripped the residents of the Chinese cities of Jiangxi and Foshan earlier this month, when an ethereal floating city appeared to be hovering amongst the clouds.

It’s the sort of thing you’d usually expect to find in video games, fantasy literature and the deranged ranting of conspiracy nuts (more on them later) – and that’s probably where the rest of the world would have consigned it if the beguiling phenomena hadn’t been captured on video and disseminated to the world via YouTube.

The footage is certainly eerie and doesn’t appear to have been tampered with in any way. In fact, it appears to depict an actual floating city hovering in thin air. Now, there is a perfectly scientific explanation for this unusual sight, but before we get to that, I just had to see what the David Icke crowd were saying about it.

So, after getting my (virtual) jabs, I headed off to YouTube in search of comedy. Here are a few of the best explanations for this event (spelling mistakes and grammatical catastrophes left in deliberately). Enjoy!

First, here’s an observation from a guy who took off his tin foil hat just long enough to share this little nugget with us.

“This is more than just clouds that assume shapes, these are holigraphic pictures, wonder what else they have in store for us, they probably have differant countries developing things in differant areas of technology to make all the tech, miricles start appearing around the world to make us think they are gods, when infact only saten needs technology, The real God allmighty dosnt, he created all and everything!”

…Including Saten and his evil tech? Or am I just being pedantic?

Next up, here’s someone who just went out there one day and never came back:

“I’ve explored about E.T’s and their history on planet Earth , this is true , this is what ancient people called home of the god’s , there are cities in the sky and under the ocean , many of truth is hidden from humans becouse humans like to panic. We are not alone , there are about 100 different alien species on planet Earth , co-existing with us , shapeshifters as well , with more advanced technology than ours”.

…If I were him, I would have explored about the rules of grammar before posting my comment.

Now, here’s an exercise is complete logical disconnect.

“A scientist named AL Bielek, who worked on the Montak Project and the Philadelphia Experiment and other Top Secret Fringe science programs, said that he was taken into the future by ET’s to live in floating cities in the sky around earth, for 2 years. I believed him because I have a close friend who knew him very well and she said that AL was an honest man, before his death in 2011. Or did he die? He maybe there right now in the year 2315”.

Uh huh. I believe in aliens, time travel and floating cities because my mate has a mate who swears it’s true! Your Doctorate is in the mail.

Oh here’s another prize winning pudding brain. Possibly the best of the bunch!

“The point is to make everyone believe there is no God and that aliens exist they’re trying to manipulate you into believe something just like they did with earth it’s flat not round there is Proof about it search it up find it yourselves cause who would believe someone that just says things without showing so please do your research”.

Yes, please do your research before you say crazy, unscientific nonsense such as “the earth is flat!” with a straight face.

Last one now, I promise!!

“It’s actually a breif invasion of parallel universes intervening with our own reality this was proven by scientists and is scientifically possible”

1) No it wasn’t.

2) No it isn’t.

The reality, of course, is far less exciting. The mysterious cloud city is actually an example of a naturally occurring phenomenon known as a Fata Morgana, which is a rarely seen (but very cool) mirage that occurs when a hot atmospheric layer converges with a cool one, creating a temperature gradient that reacts to light. This light then bends, creating the optical illusion that a distant object being witnessed at ground level is higher up than it actually is. This means that the floating city seen in the video clip is actually a projection of the Foshan city skyline itself and was, in reality, nowhere near the clouds.

A quick trip to Google images reveal’s Foshan’s skyline to be very much in keeping with the architectural style of the floating city…

A Fata Morgana is also mooted to be the origin of sailor’s tales about the famous ghost ship The Flying Dutchman. A similar phenomenon, known as a Brocken spectre is thought to be the cause of Scotland’s Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui as well.

It should be noted that a couple of YouTubers actually pointed this out – and were met with a shower of abuse for their troubles, including one user who typed, without a trace of irony “LOOKS LIKE A F*CKING CLOUD TO ME” and another who responded with “Ya, what you say is bullsh*t. The reflection has to look like what it was reflected from dumbass”. Which it does, so, in the immortal words of Captain Kirk, “double dumbass on you!”

Another user, rather more patiently, explained that “the media want you to believe its some bullsh*t scientific thing”. Damn media, wanting me to believe in science…

Well, I guess that settles it then. It’s obviously aliens. Or magic. Or magic aliens. FFS.