35T – evolved from the 33T

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Back in 1987 – Technology really was starting to ramp up, and I made the decision to enlist.  Two years earlier the Army had split up the 33MOS Field into five specializations 33P (Strategic Receiving Subsystems Repairer), 33Q (Strategic Recording Subsystems Repairer), 33R (Aviation Systems Repairer), 33V (Aerial Sensor Repairer), 33T (Tactical Systems Repairer) – and I had joined the ranks of the “Tactical” T’s.

imageAfter a 39 Week training course (and yes – that was 8 hours a day, 5 days a week) in Ft Devens, I was deployed to Ansbach Germany as part of the 501st MI BN.  It was there that I worked on many different systems, to include fielding some interesting proto-types….most notably the satellite communications system Trojan Spirit during the Persian Gulf War.  It was through that system, that I got my first job outside of the Military (a story for a later post) and my career took off.

Hours were long as a soldier, but I knew I had the best training and was working on the most cutting edge equipment available (the Trojan Spirit routed traffic originally through Cisco ISM and later IGS routers – a year after they IPO’ed).  The great thing about working in MI – if you did your job well, they left you alone.

The 33 Field was considered the premier electronics field in the Military – and to be part of it was exciting, as you never knew where it was going to take you.  From deploying to the Czech border to monitor our Cold War opponents, to flying in a Quickfix as an systems specialist – it wasn’t just a job, it was an adventure.

Sadly – in 1998, the Army recombined the 3 MOSs: 33R (Aviation Systems Repairer), 33T (Tactical Systems Repairer), 33Y (Electronic Warfare/Intercept Strategic Systems Repairer) into one MOS—33W (Electronic Warfare/Intelligence Systems Repairer). This change was prompted due to lack of need in several of the 33 series. By combining all three into one MOS, the Army was able to provide the same support with fewer soldiers and use OJT (on the job training).

On 1 October 2007, the 33W designation was renamed to 35T to group all Military Intelligence MOSs in the same 35 series.

Even with all the changes (and evolution in technology) the job is still the same – which is get the equipment working and have a “Can Do” attitude, but the world has changed.  I respect and miss all of my Brother and Sister 33’s, and I admire what the 35T MOS is doing today too.  They even have a pretty good video that shows what the job is like – and I notice that Satellite Communications is still a huge player, even after all these years.

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When Technology and Education meet – We all win.

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This post was actually inspired by three people – my buddies MikeyC and Alby, plus my son JAM_Bell.

MikeyC and I often exchange bits of humor, news and technology throughout the day – and he recently sent over links to KhanAcademy.org and DuoLingo.com, free tools to help both Adults and Children hone their skills in learning languages and Math.

us schools educationAs a parent who is involved in Technology – these appeared on the surface to be excellent tools to help bolster what is being taught in school, and to provide an alternate (FREE) perspective that might help kids who are outside their comfort zone in the classroom.  Plus, for me – they give me an opportunity to improve my German, plus learn Spanish along side my son.

The Khan Academy –

Currently, the United States is embarrassingly behind other countries when it comes to skills in Mathematics. The only way this is going to change, is if we as parents step up and actually become an active part in our children’s lives, and take an active interest in their education.  Even if you yourself are not a “Whiz” with numbers, there are numerous free tools out there that can provide assistance, and the Khan Academy website appears to be just what the doctor ordered.

The Khan Academy’s Mission Statement sums everything up quite well, and should show that slowly the ideas of traditional education are going out the window –

“Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.

All of the site’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.”

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The site itself is fairly easy to navigate, with a the traditional menu to the left (Containing links to Activity, Badges Earned, Skills Progress and even links to Community interaction).  Meanwhile, from the Dashboard, you can track progress in the right hand pane, as you work through various subjects and gain proficiency.

 

 

What I particularly liked, is the quick adaptive assessment when you start – that allows you to place yourself technically.  No going all the way back to 1+1, when you already know Trig.

During sessions, you can even click on how-to videos on the various subjects.  Granted, they can be a little dry – but they are informative and on task to the topic at hand…making them invaluable if you have forgotten how to do a particular formula and need to brush up.

It appears the Khan Academy is targeting the expansion this “Open Source” learning to subjects outside of Math – and for this, I applaud them.  Its innovative and forward thinking development like this that will definitely put education within everyone’s grasp.

 

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Similar to The Khan Academy, duoLingo is an interactive online source for learning that second language we all talk about, be it German, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese.

Lessons are based again on a quick assessment that allows you to test ahead based on skill, a language Skill Tree, Vocabulary mastery and even an Immersion option – where you read and translate from the native language.

The Skill Tree lessons are basic, but informative – incorporating reading, spelling, spoken (if you have a microphone) and written to be as all encompassing as possible.  On a whim, I began the German assessment – and quickly realized, that while I speak and understand German….my spelling and grammar needs a lot of work.  Something I am sure I can rectify using the application.

An added bonus is Facebook Integration – allowing you to see friends online who are also using duoLingo, and even compare progress and scores.  In our highly competitive household, I can see this definitely taking off, as JAM_Bell and I try to see who is better.

 

 

Overall, I found both of these sites to be extremely useful and well done.  I will definitely be incorporating them into our afterschool regiment as we try to maintain excellent grades and create an environment of learning by doing.  Since both Math and Language skills are interactive, they play well to this type of learning – and I can see my son definitely benefitting.

 

 

inSSIDer – A great FREE tool for Network Admins

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If you are a Network Admin, you’ve been there – trying to diagnose problems with the wireless network, signal strength in the office or possible interference from other networks.  The problem being, what tools are out there that can help you diagnose issues, yet not break the budget.

Enter inSSIDer for Home– a Wi-Fi discovery tool that is a must for everyone’s IT Toolbox.

Developed by metageek in 2008, this easy to use (and FREE) utility allows you to

  • Measure Wi-Fi Signal Strength
  • Identify channel usage and visualize other networks that might be causing interference
  • Helps determine Security Settings being used by networks

Some other useful features include:

  • Cumulative Station list, so even stations which are only occasionally within reach are shownimage
  • Channel graphs give a visual representation of crowded bands. Separate tabs for the 2.4 and 5 GHZ Channels
  • Filters that allow the (focused) display of several specific network features such as  signal strength, mac addresses, SSID, network speed and/or device manufacturer.

A real world application for this software would be placement of a wireless device in you office.  You can position the device and then test signal strengths from various points throughout the office.  When mapped to a floor plan, you can establish the footprint of the access point or router.   This type of diagramming can really come in handy when guests are in the office and having access problems or when placing repeaters to expand the network access.

Further setup/troubleshooting benefits could come from inSSIDer’s ability to track the ID of the Wi-Fi Channels.  In the US, there are 11 Channels in use – with 1, 6 and 11 being the most recommended (because the they do not overlap).  By using the visual interface, you can quickly determine how congested various channels are, and adjust your network accordingly for optimized performance.

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How about an internal Security Systems Audit?  With this software, you can quickly identify the type of Wireless Security in play, the MAC Addresses of the device (for documentation and verification) and even the 802.11 network type – all without any special setup or software configuration.

Of course, one can always want more features – and MetaGeek has created inSSIDer Office for just that purpose.  If you like the Home version, I highly suggest you check it (and their other products) out as well.

In summation – when it comes to “Free” tools, many are easily overlooked as their usefulness is often in question.  That cannot be said for inSSIDer Home.  It is definitely a product that fills a very important niche, and should make any Tech/Network Admin’s job that much easier.  Well done MetaGeek – Well Done!

Wake Me Up – Avicii

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Lets try something a little different for a Sunday.

I really like this song – now if we can just get them to to play this at Notre Dame Stadium.

Wake Me Up (Translated)

Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can’t tell where the journey will end
But I know where it starts
They tell me I’m too young to understand
They say I’m caught up in a dream
Well life will pass me by if I don’t open up my eyes
Well that’s fine by me

So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost
[x2]

I tried carrying the weight of the world
But I only have two hands
I hope I get the chance to travel the world
And I don’t have any plans
I wish that I could stay forever this young
Not afraid to close my eyes
Life’s a game made for everyone
And love is a prize

So wake me up when it’s all over
When I’m wiser and I’m older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn’t know I was lost
[x2]

I didn’t know I was lost
I didn’t know I was lost
I didn’t know I was lost
I didn’t know I was lost

Watch out for the Grue

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Boy am I old.  I hate to think how many hours I played Zork when I was younger.

From MikeC’s TRS-80, to Return to Zork (I never got into the later incarnations) – these games definitely helped me find my sense of humor.

So, to read the link article on io9.com about the Goodman Paradox and a new color actually brings back a little nostalgia….which I capture below for you to reminisce with me on.

Creators of Zork to accept Pioneer Award at DICE Summit, hide WIRED interview behind new text adventure