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Another way to search Wikipedia

July 7, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

Sometimes a user might need an immediate answer to a question or a definition of a term. The Lexisum home page has a simple interface consisting of several boxes. Entering a term such as "bandwidth" causes the site's search engine to scour Wikipedia sites for an answer. Each definition is studded with hyperlinks to more detailed articles and related topics.

A Web 2.0 Directory

July 2, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

A massive directory of Web 2.0 applications and services, Go2Web20.net contains 2,390 site logos as of mid-May. The primary interface for Go2Web20.net is its main page, which lists all of the participating services. By moving a cursor over each site, a quick outline of the service is provided. Clicking on a logo calls up a more detailed description of the service and a URL link to the site. The assembled pages cover a range of interests and subjects, from music sharing sites to professional development and advancement pages.

Microblogging With Twitter

July 1, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

Twitter is a Web-based service is designed to keep people in touch with friends, family and co-workers through quick, short and frequent messages. Unlike e-mail or blogging, Twitter focuses on short updates throughout the day. Users can post brief updates, limited to 140 characters, from their desktop, personal digital assistants or cell phones. Business users can use the site to keep updated with colleagues working on a project, for example.

LyricsMode

July 4, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

Arguing over the exact lyrics of a song was once an important part of growing up. This site provides the text lyrics of more than 650,000 songs by 25,000 artists. LyricsMode claims to be the world's largest archive of song lyrics. Users can search the site by specific song name or by browsing by band names. Videos are available for the most popular songs, and musicians can submit their lyrics to the archive. Wireless users can also access a mobile version of the site for use on cell phones and other handheld devices.

JFCOM, Microsoft Extend Cooperative Agreement

June 16, 2008
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) has extended its cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) between Microsoft Corporation and the command's Joint Center for Operational Analysis Knowledge and Information Fusion Exchange (KnIFE) program for one year. KnIFE answers questions from and provides training materials to deployed and predeployment units using a database of the latest enemy tactics, techniques and procedures. The extension allows KnIFE and Microsoft to complete efforts initiated under the original agreement. In addition, the command hopes to explore new experiments involving service-oriented architecture and business intelligence.

Thin Disk Laser Lights Up

June 15, 2008
By H. Mosher

An experimental solid-state laser successfully passed a series of repeated test firings. Developed by the Boeing Company, the thin-disk laser is part of the company's effort to develop a weapons-capable solid-state laser as a tactical weapon. Relying on electricity rather than volatile chemicals for power, the weapon achieved power levels of more than 25 kilowatts in several-second durations. Company officials note that the successful tests demonstrate the laser's potential to scale up to 100 kilowatts, the U.S. Defense Department's threshold for a tactical energy weapon.

New Artillery Unveiled

June 15, 2008
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Army displayed its newest weapons system in Washington, D.C., this month. The non-line-of-sight cannon (NLOS-C) is the first new vehicle type in a family of eight new manned ground vehicles planned for the Future Combat Systems. The mobile artillery piece features a fully automated cannon, allowing troops to engage targets more quickly than current artillery systems. A hybrid-electric engine that requires less fuel than current vehicles powers the NLOS-C vehicle.

AFCEA SOLUTIONS: Are You Who We Think You Are?

June 26, 2008
By H. Mosher

The questions around Identity Assurance seem to boil down to: "Are you who we think you are?" and "Are we who you think we are?" These questions are critically important to warfighters, as Richard Hale, Chief Information Assurance Executive, Defense Information Systems Agency explained this morning in this morning's opening keynote. Read on for information on how to tune in to the rest of the Identity Assurance conference from AFCEA SOLUTIONS.

From the Front Lines

June 25, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

Tomorrow, June 26, 2008, Move America Forward is putting on an 8-hour telethon in support of the troops, with the goal of collecting at least $500,000 in sponsorships for "the largest single shipment of care packages in U.S. history." The program, "From the Front Lines," will be available on the web at www.HotAir.com or via UStreamTV.

Biometric ID Installation in Canadian Airports

June 23, 2008
By Katie Packard

The Canadian Air Transport Authority (CATSA) is installing new fingerprint and iris biometric technology in 29 airports to verify employee identifications. The new system replaces the existing similar application in the Restricted Area Identification Card (RAIC) system, already in use.

Singapore Snags Sniper ATPs

June 23, 2008
By Katie Packard

The Republic of Singapore Air Force is acquiring Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods (ATPs) for the country's F-16 Block 52 aircraft. As part of the purchase agreement, the nation will receive integration, spares, support equipment and integrated logistics support to expand the Air Force's fleet of Sniper ATPs across its F-15 and F-16 aircraft.

Mattis: Irregular Warfare Is Here to Stay

June 19, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

Echoing the sentiments of many of the speakers and panelists during the conference, Gen. James N. Mattis, USMC, commander, JFCOM and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, wrapped up the 2008 Joint Warfighting conference by reiterating that the war the U.S. and its allies are now fighting will not end quickly or soon.

How Can Industry Introduce Innovative Technologies to Warfighters Faster?

June 19, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

The snail's pace at which capabilities are moving into current operations is a frustration for both military and industry leaders, and members of the final panel of the Joint Warfighting Conference agreed that lessons can be learned from the commercial sector. From outlining the requirements faster and more succinctly to having the courage to break the rules to meet needs faster, deep changes are needed from the Halls of Congress to the commanders in the field, they said.

Gen. Corley Invites Conversation on Joint Cooperation

June 19, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

Breaking with tradition and to a rousing round of applause, Gen. John D. Corley, USAF, commander, Air Combat Command and Air Component Commander, JFCOM, opened his presentation with the announcement that he would not be using PowerPoint slides to complement his speech. Instead, he invited the audience to have "a bit of conversation, a bit of a chat" about how the Air Force can help the services achieve dominance in the 21st century.

The 21st Century Warrior: What Does He or She Need to Be?

June 18, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

Warfighters in the future will need a mix of old-fashioned values and 21st-century knowledge of high technology, members of Wednesday's final panel agreed. All agreed that the current force is filled with dedicated young people who have chosen to serve even under trying circumstances. Tomorrow's warfighter will possess coordinated skills that enable them to fight in irregular warfare, Cmdr. William E. Noel, USN, commanding officer, Explosive Ordnance Devices Test and Evaluation Unit Two and former deputy commander, Task Force Troy, Baghdad, said.

How Do We Recruit, Train and Retain the Right People for the Future Force?

June 18, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

This afternoon, panelists discussing challenges the military is facing today in recruiting, training and retaining personnel agreed that parents are playing a larger role in young people's decision to join the military services. Many recruiters today find themselves explaining the benefits the armed forces offer ot only to 17- to 24-year-olds but also to their parents as well. In addition, despite reports that the military has lowered its standards for recruits, many of the panelists contended that this is not the case.

Metz: IEDs Are Strategic Weapons

June 18, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

If there was one message that Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, USA, director, Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, wanted the full-to-capacity luncheon audience to remember, it was this: The IED is a strategic weapon and it has to be dealt with as a strategic weapon. While most of the public sees it as a tactical device, its goal is to wear down the will to fight, he stated.

What Challenges Does the Future Force Face?

June 18, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

Attempting to look into a crystal ball to determine the challenges future joint forces will face, Wednesday morning's panelists discussed changing threats, changing enemies and the ways the joint force will have to change to address them. One major change has been the U.S. shift from supremacy in the battlefield and national security to the quest for dominance in these areas. While supremacy is designed, dominance may be the best we can achieve and will be enough, the panelists agreed.

Lt. Gen. Valcourt: Training and Recruitment Are Key

June 18, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

The first speaker today at the Joint Warfighting Conference shared insights with another packed crowd. Lt. Gen. David P. Valcourt, USA, deputy commanding general and chief of staff, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, talked about why the U.S. needs to become land dominant in warfighting once again. To do so will require a change in training. This already is going on as the land forces become trained not only in warfare but also in how to handle stability operations. This requires education about languages as well as cultures, the general stated.

How Can We Fix the Defense Acquisition Process?

June 18, 2008
By Henry Kenyon

The Honorable Jacques S. Gansler, former undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, opened the afternoon panel by identifying what he perceives as the problems facing the military's acquisition community. The top two identifiable problems, he said, were that IT systems cost too much and the acquisition process takes too long. A third issue is that the U.S. military is not what he considers "world class" in terms of logistics support. He complimented current military leadership for admitting that the services are buying last-century systems when it should be looking at systems 21st century missions.

Gansler also said that he believes the military will be facing a fiscal crisis during the next few years. "I would project a slight decline in the top number next year. How are we going to be able to solve that problem as the budgets shrink, as the supplementals disappear? That's the dilemma that I see happening," he said.

"Where do we start to fix this system?" Gansler asked. First, the military must think in terms of systems for requirements-joint and multinational. "We are not organized to do that. We are platform-oriented still, and it's still a service-oriented platform." The military must not only request but demand and implement spiral development, he added, saying that many in the commercial sector do not want to do business with the military because of all of its requirements.

Many panelists agreed that information technology itself may offer the solution to the acquisition problems the military faces. It can be used to introduce efficiencies into the process as well as document best practices from industry that can help the military address its key issues.

Listen to the panel session here (mp3 link):

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