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GPS Units Rendered Unreliable;
Country On Wrong Course
by I.M. Lost
     

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We live in a wondrous time, when machines have the ability to do almost all of our thinking for us.

Refrigerators are on the market that can inventory their contents and order things as they are used. If properly wired, you can control the appliances in your home, or simply turn the lights off and on, from your cell phone.

The problem that arises is that computers can be hacked, and what was once a convenience becomes a nightmare.

FBI and Homeland Security officials are searching through internet servers around the country and the world in an attempt to find traces of a computer hacker who gained access to the main electronic almanac that dictates positioning to all GPS units, both for civilian and military use.

FBI electronics expert, Gordon P. Smith, said Tuesday, “A shift of even half of a degree in the logarithmic tables can mean catastrophic misdirection. Almost all navigation today, both military and civilian, depends on Global Positioning Satellites, and these satellites depend on their logarithmic tables.

“Cars are equipped with Garmins and TomToms, airplanes are GPS equipped and our soldiers in the field depend on GPS to determine their position and also to call in missile and artillery strikes.

“Our GPS-guided weapons, and there are many of them, are useless until we find this hacker and stop this threat. We could launch at a target that we couldn’t miss last week, and destroy a target in a different country right now.”

The problem for the average citizen is obvious, how to get where you wish to go without depending on a GPS unit.

Once upon a time, people had maps that were printed on paper and were somehow able to navigate their way for hundreds, even thousands of miles. The paper maps were discontinued some time ago due to the impossible task of refolding them for storage after use.

Now, without navigators skilled in celestial and other forms of navigation, we have ships lost at sea and airplanes forced to follow interstate high-ways to get from city to city. The only trustworthy navigation is on rivers and railroads. With these there is no need to figure out where you are going, your destination is dead ahead.

The origin of the hacker’s computer is still unknown, since the hacker’s log-on was bounced through almost every industrialized nation. The FBI is looking into leads that place the blame with Rand McNally, who used to print the paper maps before the electronic era.

 

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