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This Weekend Is Y2K for GPS Systems: Experts Warn the Grid, Finance, & Transportation Are at Risk

This Weekend Is Y2K for GPS Systems: Experts Warn the Grid, Finance, & Transportation Are at Risk

This weekend, on April 6th, we’re having another Y2K. This one is on GPS devices, as they roll over from “week 1024” to “week 1.”

  1. Best case? Nothing happens.
  2. Not so great case? If you have a Garmin or a TomTom on which you rely for navigating, you could run into trouble.
  3. Worst case? Some experts warn that the power grid, transportation, and the financial system could be affected.

What’s this all about?

First, here’s what’s going on.

The rollover issue itself is caused by the fact that GPS systems count weeks using a ten-bit parameter. This means they start counting at week zero and reset when they hit week 1,024. The first count (or “GPS epoch”) started on January 6th, 1980, and the first reset took place on August 21st, 1999. That means the next one is due April 6th this year. (source)

The good news is, devices have successfully been through an epoch before. The bad news is, some devices could go haywire and we’re way more tied into the GPS grid than we were when it happened in ’99.

What’s the worst case scenario?

Relax. I don’t think planes will begin crashing into the ocean.

But, if you have an older device and you haven’t been updating it, there is the possibility that the epoch could cause big problems.

When the rollover happens older devices may reset their date, potentially corrupting navigation data and throwing off location estimates. GPS relies on precise timing data to operate, and each nanosecond the clock is out, translates into a foot of location error.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

USAF Begins Massive GPS Blackouts In The Western US During Largest Ever Air War Drill

The United States Air Force is launching its largest-ever three-week premier set of air war drills, called Red Flag 18-1, starting on Friday and will conclude February 16, said the 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs.

On January 26, the air war drill, known as Red Flag, officially kicked off at Nellis Air Force Base, 20-miles outside of Las Vegas. Base officials have warned residents of increased military aircraft activity due to aircraft departing from Nellis Air Force Base twice-a-day to conduct war drills on the Nevada Test and Training Range.

“We’re trying a few new and different things with Red Flag 18-1,” said Col Michael Mathes, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander. “It’s the largest Red Flag ever with the largest number of participants, highlighting the balance of training efficiency with mission effectiveness.”

The drill involves a variety of attack, fighter and bomber aircraft as well as participants from the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Army, and Marine Corps. Foreign participants include Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Air Force.

A video from the 2015 Red Flag drill is shown below.

“Red Flag 18-1 primarily is a strike package focused training venue that we integrate at a command and control level in support of joint task force operations,” said Mathes. “It’s a lot of words to say that we integrate every capability we can into strike operations that are flown out of Nellis Air Force Base.”

According to The Drive, the air war drill is the largest of its kind in the 42-year history, as the United States prepares for a possible conflict on the Korean Penisula.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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FAA Warns That Mystery Military Tests May Lead To Widespread West Coast GPS Disruptions

FAA Warns That Mystery Military Tests May Lead To Widespread West Coast GPS Disruptions

Starting today, and continuing for the next month, the FAA has warned airplane pilots that GPS signals on on the West Coast, and especially over California and Nevada, may be impacted.

The reason why is not exactly clear, but as Gizmodo notes, the US military will be testing a device or devices that will potentially jam GPS signals for six hours each day. Officially the tests were announced by the FAA but are centered near the US Navy’s largest installation in the Mojave Desert, China Lake, located “just down the road” from Area 51. The Navy has kept silent about the nature of the tests.

An aerial view of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake 

As Gizmodo adds, the FAA issued an advisory warning pilots on Saturday that global positioning systems (GPS) could be unreliable during six different days this month, primarily in the Southwestern United States. On June 7, 9, 21, 23, 28, and 30th the GPS interference testing will be taking place between 9:30am and 3:30pm Pacific time. But if you’re on the ground, you probably won’t notice interference.

The dates and times of potential GPS outages per the FAA are shown below:

  • 7 JUN 16 1630Z – 2230Z
  • 9 JUN 16 1630Z – 2230Z
  • 21 JUN 16 1630Z – 2230Z
  • 23 JUN 16 1630Z – 2230Z
  • 28 JUN 16 1630Z – 2230Z
  • 30 JUN 16 1630Z – 2230Z

The testing will be centered on China Lake, California—home to the Navy’s 1.1 million acre Naval Air Weapons Center in the Mojave Desert. The potentially lost signals will stretch hundreds of miles in each direction and will affect various types of GPS, reaching the furthest at higher altitudes. But the jamming will only affect aircraft above 50 feet. As shown in the FAA map below, the jamming will almost reach the California-Oregon border at 4o,000 feet above sea level and 505 nautical miles at its greatest range.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

You’ve Been Warned – Spotify Wants to Spy on You in Every Way Imaginable

You’ve Been Warned – Spotify Wants to Spy on You in Every Way Imaginable

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 9.27.06 AM

I clearly remember the moment several years ago when my closest friend from NYC was at my place pleading with me to download and use Spotify. The pitch was compelling and I was open minded about the concept, until I learned that you had to login through Facebook to use it (no longer the case I believe). I immediately found this creepy and refused to use it.

Fast forward to 2015, and Forbes has come out with a very important article highlighting the incredible creepiness factor in Spotify’s new “privacy policy.” Here’s some of what it found:

Music streaming market leader Spotify has decided that it wants to know a lot more about you. It wants to be able to access the sensor information on your phone so it can determine whether you’re walking, running or standing still. It wants to know your GPS coordinates, grab photos from your phone and look through your contacts too. And it may share that information with its partners, so a whole load of companies could know exactly where you are and what you’re up to.

This has all been made apparent by a rather significant update to the Spotify privacy policy, pushed out to users today. Upon opening the Spotify app up this morning, your reporter was greeted with a request to agree to the new conditions. A quick comparison with the previous privacy policy using the Wayback Machine showed some major changes had been made. I’m now considering whether the £10 I pay for a premium membership is worth it, given the amount of privacy I’d be giving away by consenting. 

Here are a couple of the key updates found by Forbes:

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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