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Communications revolution update

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27 July 2011 08:55

Three bits of reading illustrating the power and sheer ubiquity of modern information systems. First, from an article buried in the business section of the SMH last week, this milestone:

The head of mobile infrastructure for Ericsson, Ulf Ewaldsson, says global mobile penetration will reach 100 per cent by 2016, or even a year earlier. ''Which means anyone who wants to make a phone call over a mobile can,'' he told BusinessDay yesterday while on a visit from Sweden to Ericsson's Melbourne offices.

Based on current growth trends about half the mobile phones in use will be smartphones or mobile devices capable of accessing the internet. This means the ''default'' access to the internet will be from smartphones, he said.

Second, Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic:

A couple of nights ago, I was hanging around a major Middle Eastern airport, on a long layover...and I began to notice something very troubling (I'm not naming the airport, the airline or the flight number for reasons that will become clear).

It became instantly obvious that this flight was going to carry a large number of Afghanistan-based American contractors and active-duty military personnel back home. It wasn't that the soldiers were in uniform -- American soldiers don't travel in uniform on international flights, for security reasons -- but they may as well have been. One small example: I was sitting, at one point, next to an American man of obvious military bearing, a real barrel-chested freedom fighter sort, who wore a polo shirt inscribed with the words, "Army Aviation Association." He was also carrying a camouflage tactical rucksack with his last name stitched on the back. He seemed like a senior-enough guy to have a Google profile, so I typed into my iPhone his last name, plus Afghanistan, plus "army aviation" and came up with his exact identity in 20 seconds. He is one of the key leaders of the military's drone programs in Afghanistan. Now if I weren't a patriot, but instead an anti-American jihadist, I might have seen this as an opportunity to do some damage.

And last, the winning entry from Andrew Sullivan's regular View from Your Window (VFYW) contest, in which readers are given a photo taken from a window anywhere in the world, and asked to identify the location. Here's a taste of how one entrant, who never left their desk, found the exact window the photo was taken from (much more at the link):

...I used Google Earth to navigate to the most likely location of the VFYW: somewhere along Lincoln Street. Google Maps yielded a great clue, because at 407 Lincoln Street the aerial view of Sitka shows a business named "Goldsmith Gallery" in the approximate location that the photograph was taken from - the left of the VFYW image clearly shows two words ending with the letters "TH" and "Y." Additional inspection of the Google Earth satellite imagery showed that the eastern section of the building at 407 Lincoln Street either had an awning or projected further out toward Lincoln Street than the western section of the building. Because Google Streetview has not yet captured Sitka, it was difficult to find a clear shot of 407 Lincoln Street's facade, but an image search of the building revealed this photograph of the eastern part of the building's facade which clearly shows the building's second story protruding further than its first story.

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