19 April, 2003
The Mailbag:

Todd Lesser laments:
I am sorry to hear that the shore excursion are unsanitary.  I would
complain the cruise director.  If that doesn't work, I am sure one of
John's famous flame letters to the cruise line will help.  It may not
help the problem this time, but I bet the corporate offices will offer
you a discount on your next cruise.  Sorry I can't help with this one.

Joe sez:
I don't think that I'm interested in a "next cruise" :)

Todd continues:
Info Connections Travel Related Services doesn't book on the Navy
cruise line.  They don't pay commissions. 

Joe responds:
I'll say they don't pay!

Todd goes on:
Have you thought about Royal
Caribbean or Disney?  I am curious, do they have any restrictions on
the number of cruise-a-matics that you can bring along?  I  saw some
picture of people carrying green looking soft sided bags.  What is up
with that?  Are those just the carry on luggage?  Where do people put
their tuxes for the formal night?

Joe sez:
There's no "formal night " on this one. This is strictly a "casual" cruise.
So nobody brought dress uniforms at all. There have been many special
activities: "target" shooting, special clothing is provided (chemical gear),
special water sports too.

Todd ponders Cingular:
I thought about your phone some more.  The PUC only handles intrastate
calls.  International calls and interstate calls are FCC issues.
Although, I don't know how the incoming calls work.   I would file an
informal complaint with the FCC.  I believe you can now even do it
online.  The carriers have to respond to you and the FCC.  It is quite
effective.  As a comsunmer, I once complained about AT&T and the AT&T
probably spent several hours rearching it and answering the letter.
My complaint was only three sentences.    NCC gets complaints that
are sometimes written in crayon.  If I don't respond, the FCC calls.
I also like they small claims court idea.  You can have some fun with

Now for the bad news.  Unless something has changed in the last two
years, calls to your Iridium phone are free but the callers have to pay
a hefty price.  Iridium has their own country code.  I believe AT&T was
the cheapest to call it.  I believe the rate was around $1.59 a minute.
Other carriers charged anywhere from $3 a minute to $15 a minute.
If you give out the Arizona number, I believe you pay for the call.

Joe sez:
John does this sound like what you signed up for? Do we have anything
in writing that clearly states the deal. I don't trust verbals right now.

Todd Talks about Dr. Motwani and Lasek:
Concerning Lasek, I can try to find out about the Navy surgeon if you
want.  I hate to say it, but you get what you pay for in private industry.
I would never go to a discount Lasek place.  I have heard some really bad
things about them.  This is not saying anything about the surgeon in
the Navy.  He may very well be excellent.  I would just have concerns
about the Navy system and the Ferris (spelling?) doctrine.  It says
that active duty personnel can't sue the military. I am not sure
what happens if you have a medical complication and it is a Navy doctor.  I
don't know how the Navy handles things like that.  Since you can't sue
them, I guess you must get some sort of disability.  Motwani has never
been sued, but it is nice to know that if there is a screw up or some
technical complication,  you will get compensated.

Motwani is a really really good doctor.  Joe Dicks even had his surgery
done by him.  If it was me, I would only go to him.  I am sure that Manoj
will cut them a good deal since these guys are in the Navy.   When they
get back if they are interested, tell me and I will introduce them to him.
If they want to still go to the Navy, I will ask Motwani what he knows
about the current surgeon.

Joe responds:
I haven't heard any complaints about the Navy deal, but if I needed the work
done, I'd certainly go to Manoj! I didn't want to pipe up and suggest anything
about a discount, but I'll talk to them and forward info to you to make the
introduction. You might want to see if he's interested, I don't want to send
any pests his way (though they're good guys who know a lot about explosives and
CQB (Close Quarters Battle) ;)  The consensus of the conversation was that you
shouldn't "cheap out" on your only eyes. This is certainly consistant with
Dr. Motwani's position, and wise!

Todd goes on:
Have fun on the rest of the cruise.  I have always wanted to take a
world cruise instead of just the seven or fourteen day cruises.
Remember, use sun block.

Joe sez:
We need some port calls. We do actually have an actual chef from a cooking shool
aboard teaching the Navy people how to do a better job (it's working too!).
There is a movie on the "turntable" tonight and several playing on the cable TV
right now (and every evening). Hey Todd: Look up Paradigm services, a brit
long distance deal for the military. It's very interesting. They seem to build
and actual cellular system on site (I got pictures) and each service member
gets 20 minutes "free" per week. Interesting. You see the Brits on the funny
cell phones everywhere blabbing.
Tony Dinkel (KFI Radio) suggests:

>pass on whatever I learn as I learn it. Should I write them about what
>Cingular has done to me?

I think that would be a good idea.  Its called "Operation Homefront".

>I can't believe the brass balls though I've come to
>expect the incompetance. Maybe I'll take them to small claims courst. It is
>likely that they won't show up and I'll get a default judgement. I'll show
>in my dress uniform and they'll be weasles and look like weasles. Could be

Take that a step further.  Contact the producers of the "People's Court". 
See if you can get one of their segment drones interested.  It would be
perfect given your visual presentation planned.  It would be a waste to just
go to any court.

Joe says:
I suspect that once the story got picked up by somebody (any talk station),
there will be a bunch of interest in it. That seems to be how it usually works.
I'll write something up and let everybody here take chop it. Thanks!

Tony quotes me talking about military satellite communications:
>service) and the internet and secret military-only version of it called
>SIPRNET. These guys were very proud of the system and were well versed in
>how to use it, rapidly rattling off bit-rates, antenna gains and beam
>widths, and capabilities.

Its good to know somebody knows where to aim their antennas!

I am working on a civilian version of the same thing.  I am getting a bunch
of old channel banks and pairing them up with some 2.4 and 5.8 gHz spread
spectrum radios.  I have some fxs, fxo, 4wem and 56/64 kB ocu's.  I don't
know what its for yet but I'll see who comes knocking.

A final note, I noticed on a "hobby" military comms mailing list I am on
that is mostly HF in the UK...somebody posted a note about hearing a bunch
of encrypted traffic on a certain uhf satcom channel.  Suddenly, there was
"testing" in the clear.  Then it went back to crypto with a better signal. 
Nothing further was heard in the clear.  The time frame was about right.


Joe answers:
VERY amusing. We were in FM to do the testing. I'll bet that it was us. I could
easily put some amusing stuff on one of those channels in the clear and nobody
would hear it (cuz they're listening encrypted only).
John Higdon asks:

If you leave the Gulf before you get the phone, what happens to it?
It represents about two grand of company money.

Joe Sez:
That's why I asked if it was insured! It should get returned to sender. I can
leave instructions with the postal people here, but I can't ensure that they'll
remember to follow them. They do really seem to care about mail though, since
it's for "us".
John then says:

Ronn Owens sez that if I write up the Cingular story, he will hand
deliver it to Michael Finney (Seven on Your Side). Should I ?

joe answers: Ronn Owens is a friend of John's and a great talkshow host on the
number one San Francisco talk radio station KGO 810. I would love it if that
happen! You have the full story, pretty much. Let me see it when you do it.
Please make it one of your masterpieces (as usual), and thank him very much
for me.

My Dad sends:
Joe, enjoyed your last e-mail. .You commented on the Brits sunbathing
naked. I copied a picture from BBC of about 20 Brits under a makeshift
shower pipe taking a much needed shower.Glad you are back on the ship  I
put the picture in your binder. I have two binders for you of news &
pictures of the war. most of the info is about the Umm Qasr area. Betchel
Corp. just rec'd a large contract to re build and modernize, Umm Qasr
Harbor, Iraq power grid, Iraq roads & Bridges. Cost plus contract. It might
run 680 million.
You said you were packing.Hope that means you are leaving to return home
ASAP. Love Dad

Joe responds:
We're not packing yet, but it could come soon. I should know more on Tuesday.
The brits seem to really like being naked or in speedos! It's kind of odd.

Brit in Speedo (whiter than me!)
John Higdon talks about Cingular:
I spent an hour on the phone with them today. They aren't going to
budge on any of this. They maintain that the PUC won't help because
these are "international roaming agreements" and that basically, the
foreign company provided a service and then billed for it. End of
story. What Cingular may or may not have said is irrelevant. They are
sorry for "any misunderstanding", but the service was provided, the
price is the price, pay up.

Joe Sez:
I'm not questioning their policy. I am suggesting breach of an oral contract.
I explained where I was going to be and how I'd be using the phone. They
suggested that their "international plan" would be a great solution because
of the rate ($.99). I asked again whether this would help from a foreign country.
The rep insisted that the rate did apply and I expressed my relief at not having
to purchase an iridium phone and set up another service. In short: They offered to
sell service for a certain price. I accepted. They didn't live up to the agreement.
They sold something in error. Who's fault is it, mine? It's "fraud". Because of the
deal offered, I was harmed by 1) paying 2.5 times the cost of equivalent
service from somebody else and 2) not knowing until the damage was done
and finally 3) denied the timely availability of a replacement service once the
fraud was discovered. I think that I'll either talk to legal at the Navy, or
possibly write a couple of possible "press releases" and see which one that they'd
like to see published. The fact that they clearly didn't understand their own
service offering is clear because the solution to my deployment "problem" was
clearly of NO value. If I'm out of the country, what value would the plan be to me?
I think that this is despicable and actionable.

John Continues:
The PUC sez: we probably can't get involved in what amounts to an
unregulated service. "International roaming is considered a luxury

Joe sez: Those lazy stupid fuckers are useless, as always.
Rusty Hodge sez:
Glad you wrote, I was just wondering where you had been!

On another note: I have your address as:
CEC Talbot, Joseph E
attn: NSCT1
USS Gunston-Hall LSD-44
FPO AE 09573-1732

So, are there rules about the kind of things that I can and can't send you?
Like, can I send packaged food? Candy? Fresh fruit? Booze? Smutty
magazines? Not so smutty magazines? Anti-diahreaa medicines? Beef

What could you and your fellow sailors want that I could send you?

Joe responds:
All of the listed items are welcome, though I wouldn't send fresh fruit, or booze.
As I look across the table here, the magazines that I see include my regular
favorites: Sports Illustrated, Field & Stream, National Geographic, Sporting news
and "all hands" (the official Navy mag). I'd love to see some more interesting
pubs like The Economist, Wired, Various compu-mags, Sysadmin, Electronic Musician,
R&R, Then throw in Mother Jones or some ultra funky rag to confuse everybody here.
It seems to take about 3-4 weeks for stuff to actually find its way here. I hope
to be out of here by that time (but don't count on it, I'm not).

Miss you,


Joe sez:
I miss you guys too! I can't wait to get home. When I get back, I intend to do a
west coast road trip followed by a Cozumel diving extravaganza for a full mental
reset (as opposed to 'full metal jacket').
Joe...it was excellent hearing from you on the pcs the other day.  I really
wanted to talk longer but I had a lot on my mind trying to get that show on
the air.  You get the award for the longest distance call ever on my phone.

That was the first "normal" remote I have done in ages with a real room,
isdn for transmission and a built in room PA.  It went just fine.  We raised
over 50kbucks that day alone.  And I think we are over 500kbucks total.

Good to hear you are coming home hopefully soon.  How are you getting back
and where will you be arriving?


Joe Exclaims Gleefully:
Thanks Tony, and thank the guys again for me. I'm not sure when and where yet
(since knowing in advance would allow me to plan, and we can't have that). I'll
pass on whatever I learn as I learn it. Should I write them about what
Cingular has done to me? I can't believe the brass balls though I've come to
expect the incompetance. Maybe I'll take them to small claims courst. It is very
likely that they won't show up and I'll get a default judgement. I'll show up
in my dress uniform and they'll be weasles and look like weasles. Could be fun!
This comes from Tim Rainer (from EODMU7):

Happy Easter to everyone (And especially to American and British Troops
securing our Freedom!!!)

 Some potential new Iraqi town names:

1.  Wherz-Myroof
2.  Mykamel-Isded
3.  Oshit-Disisbad
4.  Pleez-Ztopdishit
5.  Kizz-Yerass-Goodbi
6.  Ikantstan-Disnomore
7.  Wha-Tafuk-Wazi-Tinkin
8.  Myturbin-Izburnin
John mentions:

Your caretaker called and pointed out that recent heavy rains leaked
into the bedroom to the left of the entry on your Helendale house. He
said the carpet was soaked. He also mentioned that there appeared to
be no electricity. Who is paying that?

I told him I would notify you and if he would call back in a day or
two, I'd give him instructions.


Joe responds:
Oh, you talked to Chief Snowden. Yeah, I know about the leak in
that room. Not much can be done about that one 'til I get back. I have turned
the electricity off as it's a fair amount of money (now) for nothing. I may
turn it back on when I get back, so that I can do some work up there though.
Please thank him again for watching it for me!

Joe says:

The day before yesterday, we ran into some Marines who were camped out near
a british HQ building. They were from 9th Communications in Camp Pendleton.
I went over there to find out about some odd antennas that I saw and take a
few pictures. What I found was impressive: They had an E-1 (2.048 MBPS)
microwave link that they were using to link in 10 POTS (Plain olde Telephone
service) and the internet and secret military-only version of it called
SIPRNET. These guys were very proud of the system and were well versed in
how to use it, rapidly rattling off bit-rates, antenna gains and beam widths,
and capabilities. These guys were very young and very junior (the highest
ranking guy there was a Corporal (E-4). They were getting screwed by their
command and the British Officers that they were supporting. It seems that
they were down to their last box of MRE's (Meals ready to eat) and needed
some help in the food department. We showed them where we keep our MRE's,
invited them to take what they needed, whenever they needed it and introduced
them to our Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sargeant (E-9) so that they would be
taken care of properly.

I photographed their gear and quizzed them on it's use and nomenclature.
When we return I intend to visit Camp Pendleton to get the full story on
this system. We badly needed the capabilities that the system provided.

USMC Comms Truck! Impressive!

I like to pick on Marines (Just for fun, since they pick on squids), but
I was so very impressed with the depth of practical knowledge and motivation
that these guys have and the well though out system that they were using.
I intend to get a system like this for our use and will attempt to train our
folks to the same level of competence.
 Jimmy sends this wired magazine story:
   Buoyed by its decisive win in Iraq, the Pentagon is betting billions
   that the information technology system that helped defeat Saddam
   Hussein will evolve into a more potent weapon than cluster bombs and
   Department of Defense futurists call it network-centric warfare. Other
   military strategists simply refer to it as the digital war. The first
   Gulf War was analog, they say. This one was digital.
   Digital it may have been -- using real-time video images to target
   missiles in flight, wireless PDAs to connect with stateside medical
   records from the battlefield, and virtual-reality simulations to
   provide just-in-time delivery of material to front-line troops. But
   the nascent version of network-centric warfare waged in Iraq was but a
   pixilated, low-res harbinger of computer combat to come.
   "The end of the Cold War has produced an arena where threats are
   amorphous and evasive (and) not easy to attack," said Dr. Allan
   Steinhardt of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's
   Information Exploitation Office, who noted that the wartime need for
   unambiguous, precise information on the battlefield "has never been
   more important."
   To get that information to officers in as close to real time as is
   technologically possible, Steinhardt and his colleagues in DARPA,
   other Defense Department research centers and university and defense
   contractor labs will use their slice of the Pentagon's estimated $500
   billion budget in 2004 to fund such network-centric warfare
   initiatives as:
   Blue-force tagging: One of the most shocking aspects of both Gulf Wars
   was an overwhelming ratio of friendly fire to enemy fire casualties.
   It sometimes seemed that coalition members were in more danger from
   their own side than from the Iraqis.
   Blue-Force Tagging will aggregate information from sensors reporting
   such things as the shape of radar waveforms, acoustic signals and
   seismic analysis. That data will be stored on a server behind the line
   of combat and immediately notify artillery or armor commanders whether
   a vehicle or column is friend or foe.
   The Forester Project: One of the major problems in jungle warfare is
   locating constantly changing enemy positions. Attempting to open up
   visibility by destroying foliage with poisonous chemicals such as
   Agent Orange and burning it down with napalm were dismal failures.
   Military planners hope the network-centric Forester effort will be the
   straw that breaks the jungle guerrilla's hold on his battle territory.
   "Forester gives us the ability to acquire fixed targets in foliage and
   detect and track moving troops and equipment under a canopy,"
   Steinhardt said. "The ability to (do that) will have huge applications
   for maintaining total situational awareness, anywhere, anytime."
   Forester's technology, also known as "no more Vietnam," is based on
   the use of special slow-moving rotocraft and low-frequency radar. It
   can expose potential targets but it cannot evaluate either the
   military or political advantages of an attack at a given time and
   place. Nor can it suggest what form the optimum attack should take.
   Jigsaw and SPI-3D: In order for attacks to apply maximum damage and
   minimum threat to U.S. forces, these technologies enlarge on the
   information gathered by Forester. When fully developed, Jigsaw will
   provide a detailed holographic image of what Forester detects.
   SPI-3D, which does the same thing over a longer range, will allow
   headquarters planners to apply simulations to the holograms and order
   smarter attacks.
   Future Combat system: Perhaps the most intensive net-centric warfare
   rollout, geared for the next major conflict, will be the Army's Future
   Combat System, which attempts to meld manned and robotic ground units
   with unmanned aircraft into a single unit that can be deployed
   anywhere in the world within 96 hours.
   The idea, engineers say, is not to replace human "shooters" with
   machines, but to network them with robots to create a more effective,
   less expensive and faster-moving force in the field.
   Even such gung ho net-centric warfare experts as Dr. John Arquilla,
   who helped invent the concept as a Rand Corporation researcher in the
   mid-1990s, admit the Achilles heel of digital warfare systems is the
   possibility that an opponent could penetrate or otherwise hack through
   "Advanced information technology makes us tremendously efficient, but
   it also may make us tremendously vulnerable," Arquilla said.
   The Pentagon's current response to such threats is to create systems
   that will degrade slowly when under attack while continuing to provide
   at least emergency levels of secure service.
   Another strategy is to create automatic repair and reconfiguration
   routines embedded within network-centric warfare servers.
   One such device now being tested is an unmanned satellite-based radio
   repair shop. Orbiting beyond the globe at altitudes unreachable by
   enemy missiles, it can reprogram ground and aircraft communications
   devices to regenerate information networks disconnected by electronic
   Developers hope it will also be able to collect and analyze enemy
   radio transmissions, disrupt an enemy's electronic communications
   equipment and interrupt enemy television broadcasts with U.S.