Tag Archives: GPS

GPS for the Homeless

Dallas, Texas – April 1, 2013

Nancy Brinker Cure for homelessness: GPS

Nancy Brinker Cure for homelessness: A GPS device

Nancy Brinker, former Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure CEO, has a new cause. She is the driving force behind a new non-profit called, GPS 4 Homeless. The project is collecting old Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and giving them to the homeless.

In a news conference held this morning Brinker explained:

“The homeless are just people who are lost and need direction. That is exactly what a GPS device does and if homeless people could afford a GPS device they would no longer be lost! I don’t know why nobody has thought of this before!”

A spokesperson for GPS 4 Homeless added:

“When one of our people upgrade to a newer model they put the old one in a drawer. Now it can be put to good use for those people.”

When asked what they meant by ‘our people,’ the spokesperson responded, “You know, us.” Asked if they meant wealthy white people, the spokesperson replied, “Who else would I be talking about?”

Brinker added:

“This is one cause that has no political division. Everybody wants to help the homeless and that’s what we’re doing.”

GPS 4 Homeless is currently only in Texas, but their plan is to expand into Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Mississippi by 2014.

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FAA + Airlines + Personal Electronic Devices = Public Mistrust

by Paul Kiser
USA PDT [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype: 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

Recently, a 73 year-old man flying from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Winnipeg, Canada was ordered by the flight crew of an unnamed airline to stop using his Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) device during the flight. The GPS device tracks the user’s current position by receiving (not transmitting) a signal from orbiting satellites. Currently over half the world’s airlines allow it to be used during a flight, but not this airline. The man was arrested and fined for not obeying the flight crew instructions to turn it off and also refusing to buckle his seat belt. Not surprisingly his last name was, Ego…I’m not making this up…his name was Michele Ego (See article in Winnipeg Free Press.)

…the incident was based on the Flight Attendant enforcing an 18 year-old policy of restricting the use of  personal electronic devices (PED’s) that has little or no real experimental data to justify it…

Are these really a threat to airline safety?

Clearly Mr. Ego was in the wrong by refusing to obey the instructions of the flight crew; however, the incident was caused by a flight crew enforcing an 18 year-old policy of restricting the use of personal electronic devices (PED’s) that has little or no experimental data to justify it. The zeal of some flight attendants in following this baseless policy creates a source of conflict and mistrust between the flying public and the flight crew, all of which could be avoided, if not for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the airlines.

…the policy uses decades old research that could only pose a theoretical threat by PED’s, without any experimental proof…

The lack of evidence for the restrictions on PED’s (such as MP3-4 players, GPS, cell phones, etc.) is well-known, and yet, airlines stick to a policy of restricting them, especially during takeoffs and landings because of the FAA’s order issued in 1993, that each airline must prove a PED will not interfere with the plane’s avionics before passengers are allowed to use them during a flight. The reasoning for the policy uses decades old research that concluded that PED’s pose a theoretical threat.

During a Congressional Hearing on the issue in July of 2000, over a year before the first generation of Apple’s iPod was sold, the issue of PED’s impact on a plane’s avionics was discussed. During the hearing a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) database of anonymously submitted in flight incidents was presented. Of 69,000 reports, 52 flight crews blamed passenger PED’s for the plane’s avionics problems. In most of the cases from 1992 to 1998, incidents on planes as small as a Cessna and large as a Boeing 757, related problems in navigational readings that seemed to be corrected when passengers were asked to turn off the devices.

…In each case the problem could not be duplicated under controlled test conditions…

In several of those cases, the alleged offending PED was purchased from the passenger and attempts were made to reproduce the problem. In each case the problem could not be duplicated under controlled test conditions. These results were fortified by two commissioned studies of PED’s, including cell phones, in 1983-8, (a study for the airlines,) and 1992-6, (a study for Congress.) Both studies offered no real evidence of avionics interference caused by PED’s.

(See Blog article: Why Your iPad Won’t Kill You)

Regardless of the lack of evidence, neither study could prove that PED’s were absolutely incapable of interference, and in a British study on cell phone transmissions, it was determined that the threat from PED’s was from pre-1984 devices that could theoretically cause interference with a plane’s avionics. Despite a lack of real evidence of a threat, the FAA issued its 1993 ruling that said that airlines should restrict the use of all PED’s below 10,000 feet (for takeoffs and landings) and only allow use of PED’s above 10,000 feet if they could prove it didn’t interfere with the plane’s avionics.

The fact is that today’s commercial airliner has been designed with shielding on all electronic systems to protect it against all types of electromagnetic radiation, including a strike from a lightening bolt, which seems far more likely to happen than an incident of electromagnetic interference caused by a PED like an iPod, GPS device, or cell phone*.

(*Interestingly, it was not the FAA, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who issued a rule in 1991, that cell phones could not be used by any aircraft –including private planes and lighter-than-air balloons– because of the fear that phones in a line of sight of multiple cell phone towers could cause problems with ground-based cell phone traffic.)

With the airlines blessing, both the FAA and FCC have created an environment that forces flight attendants to be the voice of ‘Chicken Little’, by enforcing flight rules governing PED’s that make no sense in 2011. The ineptness of the FAA and the airlines in their handling of the issue of PED’s undermines the relationship of trust that passengers must have in the flight crew if they are to be believed and obeyed during critical situations involving a real threat to passenger safety.

The question that remains is whether or not the mythological threat of PED’s to aircraft safety is greater than the loss of trust of the flying public.

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Knowing when it’s over or beyond over

by Paul Kiser
USA PDT  [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype:kiserrotary or 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

There comes a time in every relationship when you start suspecting problems, and then there is the point when you know it’s over. In the past two weeks I’ve discovered that I’m in a relationship that is not only over, it’s become adversarial. I can’t say I’ve been unaware that there were problems, but I have become dependent on her and it was just easier to ignore the signs than to confront her. Now she has begun a campaign of sabotage and I’m forced to do something.

I’ve played this game before. It’s always the same story. First she is unbelievably helpful and at times she surprises me with her intelligence. But then I begin to rely on her and that’s when things go south..or sometimes north, but it goes wrong regardless of the direction and then you end up alone in the rain somewhere in the Pacific Coastal range with no cell phone signal…but that’s another story.

It was Father’s Day when we met. Her name is Samantha, and she has a clear, well-enunciated voice. I stayed up late with her that first night and I couldn’t wait to take her for a ride in the car. I was impressed with what she knew and it felt like love. Then came the little mistakes. Little warning signs that should have told me that she wasn’t as perfect as I thought. Then she changed. It seemed like she was deliberately misleading me. I became frustrated, but I told myself that maybe I had expected too much.

Then last week came the proof. This time it was intentional. This time it was malicious. I was driving in the early morning in a Nor-easter rain storm to the Boston airport. It was dark, I was stressed, and my plane was not going to wait for me if I got lost. Still, I was 90% sure of where I was going, but I had her there in the car calmly reassuring me that I was where I needed to be. Then it happened. I knew I had to stay on I-90 through the tunnel to get to Boston’s Logan Airport. The airport is basically on an island so there are not a lot of options on how to get there.

The Other Woman

She said it and I didn’t imagine it. She told me to exit I-90 and go south on a road that would have taken me away from the airport. Had I obediently done as she ordered I would have been scrambling for at least 30 minutes to try to get back (you have to know Boston roads to understand why) to the airport. My sweet, innocent Garmin Nuvi 265 GPS device had turned on me and was deliberately trying to make me miss my flight. She is evil!

Now I know that she is out to get me and it makes driving stressful. Did she give me the right exit, or is she just messing with me again? I know it’s all over between us, but I have a hard time letting her go. Damn you Sam!

If you see me driving and yelling when no one is in the car, be cautious … who knows who is in the driver’s seat.

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Up in the air down in Texas

by Paul Kiser
USA PDT  [Twitter: ] [Facebook] [LinkedIn] [Skype:kiserrotary or 775.624.5679]

Paul Kiser

I’m traveling a lot for my corporate acting/role-playing gigs lately and that has kept me out of my normal routine. During the last two weeks I have been traveling for The American College and playing multiple roles with students in their Master’s degree program.

I love traveling, but hours on a plane, all day seminars, and a quirky Microsoft Outlook/firewall issue (it conflicts with most hotel WiFi) puts me in a position of scrambling to stay up with email. Everything else begins to fall behind and my blog is one of the victims.

I spent three days in Dallas, Texas and I learned that they like to name their roadways after people. They also like toll roads. The problem with naming roads after people is that the President George Bush Turnpike is a lot for the GPS to spit out before it says, “exit right now”.

Lover's Lane in Dallas

Toll roads are not as common in the western United States, but over the past two decades Denver has been joining their eastern sister cities with pay-to-use roads. Both Denver and Dallas are going over to the dark side with cashless toll roads. The concept is that you don’t have stop and pay to use the roadway. Instead you obtain a transmitter that records your car and deducts the toll from your account.  Great idea, but it has a wicked ‘gotcha’.

The “gotcha’ is that if you don’t have a transmitter, they just take a picture of your license plate and send the bill to the owner. The problem is that rental car companies are making a killing heaping fees on renters who are caught unaware by the cashless toll roads. I went to downtown Dallas for dinner when I left my GPS took me to a toll road. I didn’t know it was cashless until I was on it and it was too late to exit. GOTCHA!

Dallas is the only city I know that will charge you $2 to drive by the airport. I understand that this road is the access to all the terminals at the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) airport, but it also continues past the airport and if you are using the road to get from south of DFW to north of DFW it will cost you $2. Ironically, I dropped someone off at the airport and it only cost $1 even though I spent longer in on the DFW property.

Thanksgiving Square in Dallas

Despite my negative comments, I liked Dallas. It reminded me of Denver, without the mountains…and warmer…a lot warmer. I spent just enough time in Dallas to get a 10,000 foot view and that is not enough to really know the city. The next time I’m back I will have a better plan to ferret out the cool things to do in Dallas.

I met with the District Governor and District Membership Chair for the Dallas/Fort Worth region and discovered that Rotary clubs in Texas are not that much different from the clubs in northeast California/northern Nevada. We face similar challenges in membership recruitment and the adaptation to using Social Media tools is on a similar pace; however most of their clubs have an existing website. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with them and learn about Rotary Texas style.

I was in Chicago last week and I have trips to Minnesota and Richmond, VA coming up. Might as well make this a travel blog…or not.

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