Sunday, August 23, 2009

UAV news

More UAV news bits from around the world...

Popular Science posted a long cover story, video and other bits at

Pakistan begins production of its own UAV, the Falco.

EADS confirms test flights of its combat UAV, the Barracuda.

Boeing announced deals with the US military for unmanned rotorcraft (helicopter-like aircraft).

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Autonomous ground vehicles pass realistic tests

StrategyPage reports: The U.S. Army's decades long effort to develop a practical autonomous UGV ... has succeeded. Earlier this month, two T2 vehicles equipped with sensors and control equipment, successfully passed realistic tests. One of the test subjects ... successfully approached a village ..., did a perimeter sweep at speeds of up to fifty kilometers an hour, then patrolled the streets, avoiding the pedestrians, and finally departed the area.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

UAVs as communications relays

StrategyPage: UAVs As Communications Relays

An American Bat UAV was recently fitted with communications relay equipment (so that its ground units, especially those operating in mountainous terrain) could get much more range out of their radios (whose signals are often blocked by mountains). These tests with the communications relay gear were a success, and were performed for an "unnamed government customer" (most likely SOCOM or CIA, although the army and marines are also potential users).

Consider the tactical advantage when the US military begins to engage swarms of UAVs for various tasks on the battlefield.

Monday, August 10, 2009

WSJ credits Obama with Pakistan foreign policy success

From the Wall Street Journal: A Taliban Takedown. Pakistan has been an early Obama foreign-policy success.

If true, the news that a CIA drone killed Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud last week is a notable victory in the war on terror, both for Pakistan and the U.S. [...] The strike also underscores that Pakistan has been an early Obama Administration foreign-policy success. Only three months ago, the Taliban were marching on Islamabad and U.S. officials were fretting about the lack of Pakistani will to resist Islamist extremism. But the U.S. worked behind the scenes to encourage a counterattack, Pakistan’s military has since retaken the Swat Valley in the north, and Mr. Zardari’s government has put aside some of its petty domestic squabbling to focus on the main enemy.

President Obama has also stepped up the pace of drone attacks, which are now thought to have killed more than a third of the top Taliban leaders. These columns reported a month ago on an intelligence report showing that the strikes are also carried out with little or no harm to civilians.

For cosmetic political reasons, the Obama Administration no longer wants to use the phrase “global war on terror.” Yet in Pakistan and Afghanistan it is fighting a more vigorous war on terrorists than did the previous Administration. Whatever you want to call it, the death of Baitullah Mehsud makes the world a safer place.

If confirmed, this is fantastic news. The upcoming elections in Afghanistan promise to be vibrant, with Karzai and key rival Dr Abdullah Abdullah duking it out over radio in campaign spots, although there are inevitable reports of pre-election shenanigans.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

An atomic unit of media consumption

Recalling a year-old post from this blog, Where News Websites Get It Wrong.

Copyright law shaper and guru William Patry inaugurates a new blog discussing copyright law. In his first post, Patry digs up a very insightful from Marissa Mayer's discussion on May 6th to a Senate subcommittee:

The atomic unit of consumption for existing media is almost always disrupted by emerging media. For example, digital music caused consumers to think about their purchases as individual songs rather than as full albums. Digital and on-demand video has caused people to view variable-length clips when it is convenient for them, rather than fixed-length programs on a fixed broadcast schedule. Similarly, the structure of the Web has caused the atomic unit of consumption for news to migrate from the full newspaper to the individual article. As with music and video, many people still consume physical newspapers in their original full-length format. But with online news, a reader is much more likely to arrive at a single article. While these individual articles could be accessed from a newspaper's homepage, readers often click directly to a particular article via a search engine or another Website.

Changing the basic unit of content consumption is a challenge, but also an opportunity. Treating the article as the atomic unit of consumption online has several powerful consequences. When producing an article for online news, the publisher must assume that a reader may be viewing this article on its own, independent of the rest of the publication. To make an article effective in a standalone setting requires providing sufficient context for first-time readers, while clearly calling out the latest information for those following a story over time. It also requires a different approach to monetization: each individual article should be self-sustaining.

These types of changes will require innovation and experimentation in how news is delivered online, and how advertising can support it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rep. Frank threatens Iranian-like sanctions on tax havens

FT: Threat to ban groups based in havens

“We will instruct the [Securities and Exchange Commission] and Treasury and the Fed to deny access to the American financial system to any country that holds itself out as a haven to escape our financial regulation.”

[...] Mr Frank says he envisages an exclusion programme that would work similarly to the sanctions the Bush administration imposed on Iranian banks in 2006 as part of efforts to deter that nation from developing nuclear weapons. The main Iranian banks are prohibited from directly accessing the US financial system. Analysts say that programme has made business more difficult for Iranian banks, although they are able to route transactions through intermediaries.