Intercepts

RETIRING WITH STYLE. Adm. Archie Clemins, who changed the face of Navy computing with unprecedented commander in chief support for the Information Technology for the 21st Century project, will complete his naval service in a retirement ceremony on the USS Missouri, moored at pier Foxtrot-5, on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. This will be followed by a reception "under the Banyan Tree near the John Wayne House" on Ford Island. (Wayne and Burgess Meredith shared that modest cottage while filming "In Harm's Way.") You can almost hear the sounds of the Big Band Era in "Hawaii Calls."

***BIOMETRIC BOOM? Fernando Podio of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Jeff Dunn of the National Security Agency last week co-hosted a conference of the Biometric Consortium, which explored how "biometric technologies are being recognized as an integral part of secure authentication systems." Podio and Dunn predicted that biometrics soon will become an integral part of technologies such as smart cards, public-key infrastructure and digital signatures. Does this mean the government really does have a plan to implant chips inside people's heads?

***GET YOUR NEW GCCS NOW! The Defense Information Systems Agency wants everyone to know it now has Version 3.0.3 of the Global Command and Control System ready for distribution. The new version provides "substantial enhancements" for information assurance, PC access to the Common Operational Picture as well as the ability to receive and process tactical data Link 16 messages, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Intae Kim, GCCS chief engineer. I'm eager to get my new PC-friendly version of the COP, but the folks at Courthouse Road just laugh when I ask for stuff like that or SIPRNET access.

***LONG LIVE COTS GPS. That's one way to interpret the comment from Air Force Col. James Armor, commander of the Global Positioning System Joint Program Office, on why F-14 and A-10 drivers need to buy their own handheld GPS receivers. Congress has effectively cut funding for GPS receivers, Armor said. Armor, speaking at the Coast Guard GPS confab last week in Nashville, Tenn., added that the DOD budget for receivers hardly can be considered trivial, putting the cost at $4 billion to $5 billion.

***THE $50 GPS CHIP. A little more than a decade ago, GPS receivers carried prices that ran into thousands of dollars. Now, volume buyers can purchase a GPS chip for incorporation into a vehicle navigation system for about $50 apiece, according to Lee Ann McNabb, image therapist for Trimble Navigation Ltd. McNabb pointed out the real irony of that low-ball pricing: Although vehicle navigation systems cost about $1,800 retail, the largest cost comes from such equipment as CD-ROMs that store maps, even though the GPS engine provides all the smarts. Military receivers capable of picking up the DOD-only "P" code cost a lot more than consumer types, with Magellan Corp. selling a military board for about $10,000.

***GPS HUMOR? The folks at the tri-service GPS "Center of Excellence" - which includes Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; the Naval Air Warfare Center, China Lake, Calif.; and Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. - have produced a marvelous video that explains and spoofs navigation systems and GPS. The video debuted at last week's Institute of Navigation GPS conference in Nashville, Tenn., and featured a mock news report about an air-drop of GPS receivers on the Maldives Islands to help gone-to-the-jungle children find their way home. Credit Paul Benton of the 746th Test Squadron for this one.

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