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Nikoofal M.E.,UCP Inc | Gumus M.,McGill University
IIE Transactions (Institute of Industrial Engineers) | Year: 2015

The ability to understand and predict the sequence of events leading to a terrorist attack is one of the main issues in developing pre-emptive defense strategies for homeland security. This article, explores the value of terrorists private information on a governments defense allocation decision. In particular, two settings with different informational structures are considered. In the first setting, the government knows the terrorists target preference but does not know whether the terrorist is fully rational in his target selection decision. In the second setting, the government knows the degree of rationality of the terrorist but does not know the terrorists target preference. The governments equilibrium budget allocation strategy for each setting is fully characterized and it is shown that the government makes resource allocation decisions by comparing her valuation for each target with a set of thresholds. The Value Of Information (VOI) from the perspective of the government for each setting is derived. The obtained results show that VOI mainly depends on the governments budget and the degree of heterogeneity among the targets. In general, VOI goes to zero when the governments budget is high enough. However, the impact of heterogeneity among the targets on VOI further depends on whether the terrorists target preference matches those of the governments or not. Finally, various extensions on the baseline model are performed and it is shown that the structural properties of budget allocation equilibrium still hold true. Copyright © 2015 "IIE".

Royer J.,UCP Inc
Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation | Year: 2014

Job development requires a wide variety of skills to be effective. Utilizing a business-based approach, job developers can improve outcomes. This article explores several aspects of business-based development including the use of business language, striking the right tone, developing an elevator pitch, active listening strategies, understanding features versus benefits, doing research, under promising, and closing the sale. By utilizing these business-based sales strategies, job developers can improve their outcomes and increase job placement for people with significant disabilities. © 2014 - IOS Press and the authors.

News Article | January 27, 2014
Site: gizmodo.com

In 2004, the U.S. Army made a colossal mistake. It introduced a new digital camouflage called the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), a single pattern designed to work across all environments. Only a few months later, however, as the war in Iraq was intensifying by the day, every soldier on the ground knew the truth: by trying to work in every situation, UCP worked in none of them. Unfortunately, the race to find a pattern that actually works—a race officially known as the Army's Camouflage Improvement Effort—has been its own kind of debacle. In 2012, The Daily called it a "$5 Billion Snafu." The competition solicited new patterns from hundreds of camo designers, then whittled the entries down to four finalists. After four years (and millions of dollars), the Army seemed ready to pick a winner. The four finalists selected by the army included patterns from Brookwood, Crye Precision, Kryptek, and ADS Inc. with Guy Cramer. Yet the delays have continued. The latest rumor was that the entire Camo Improvement shebang was about to be cancelled. Instead, the theory went, the Army would simply adopt MultiCam, a digital camo made by the Brooklyn company Crye Precision, which has served as a stopgap measure since the revelation that the Universal Camo pattern didn't work. Yet that hasn't happened yet, either—and the tale grows stranger. Back in December, Congress introduced a bill that would block the Army entirely from introducing a new pattern this year. By 2018, however, the bill would require the entire Defense Department to adopt the same pattern. Politicians, it seems, are sick of spending money on this never-ending problem. In response to my request for comment from the military itself, spokesman William Layer could only tell me the following—that "the Army is weighing numerous options and are factoring in recent legislative restrictions." Amidst accusations of general incompetence and bureaucratic red tape, there's also the fact that warfare technology is rapidly evolving—and no one can predict quite how camo will need to adapt in the long term. The burgeoning field of military science that revolves around how our eyes interpret—or misinterpret—information—is still very young. And flinging billions of dollars at the problem hasn't had the intended effect. Today's camouflage has a relatively short history. At the birth of modern warfare in the 18th century—when long-range rifles emerged—the concept of camouflage involved dressing in forest green or field grey. By World War I, troops were experimenting with "dazzle" that made it difficult to gauge the proximity of a ship in the distance. Soon, the technique was being used on humans. 1917: A soldier in World War I models early camouflage. Image via the National Archives/Department of Defense. At the dawn of World War II, the distinctive kidney-shaped splotches of more contemporary camo had emerged—and things escalated quickly from there. By the end of the war, modern painters had even helped develop optical patterns to fool the eye, borrowing ideas from Cubism and Op-Art. In the late 1970s, though, the Army introduced a new (and unpopular) type of pattern called "dual texture," an early forerunner to the "digital" camo we know today. Dual-tex used perfect squares of color to mimic two patterns at once: one smaller, and one larger, effective at multiple distances. It was an early forerunner to digital camo, but it wasn't until the 1990s that camo developed on computers emerged—and, with it, a renaissance in the scientific study of camo. An army officer named Timothy O'Neill, "the grandfather of modern camo," pioneered the genre with his small squares of color that were able to trick the eye into seeing a camouflaged soldier or truck as part of the background of a scene. Dual-tex camo from the 1970s and 1980s. Image: United Dynamics. Why did pixels do a better job that traditional blobs? Because pixels are better at mimicking fractal patterns—which our eyes interpret as white noise. By looking less like figurative "nature," digital camo gives our eyes nothing to fixate on. But the eye is a complex piece of anatomy—and recreating the same optical trick for millions of soldiers in an infinite number of environments is nearly impossible. As a result, a cottage industry of independent contractors and engineers has sprung up, each hocking their own unique variant of digital camo—including the four finalists in the Army's Camo Improvement effort. Find the US4CES: An image shows Guy Cramer and ADS Inc.'s finalist entry in the camouflage competition. Image: Hyperstealth. Some of these companies declined to comment when I contacted them for this post, most likely because the army's winner announcement was still to come. But one in particular—Guy Cramer, CEO of Hyperstealth Biotechnology Corp, designer of camo for the armies of Jordan and Afghanistan and one of the four finalists in the Camo Improvement effort—was kind enough to answer many of my questions about camo design and the army's attempt to improve it. As Cramer explained to me, digital camouflage attempts to use advanced optical tricks to confuse the brain into missing the body of a target, rather than simply "blending in" to the surrounding landscape. "You can't just throw paint on a wall and call it camouflage," he says. "We're not necessarily trying to create randomness. We want the brain to interpret patterns as part of the background." Affecting that kind of visual trickery is a tall order. It involves ideas about color science, the anatomy of the human eye, and even the logistics of pattern-making. And it's still not perfect. Let's take one of the biggest shortcomings the Army's failed digital pattern, UCP: the scale of the pixelated patterns. All digital camo has two layers: a micropattern (the pixels) and a macropattern (the shapes the pixels form). If the scale of the macro blobs is too small—as they are with UCP—it triggers an optical phenomenon called "isoluminance," rendering the carefully-constructed camo pattern into a light-colored mass. In other words, it makes it incredibly easy to spot targets from a distance. That was one of the biggest problems with UCP, as you can see. An example if isoluminance from Hyperstealth's website. And what about color? In 2004, when the army introduced UCP, it revealed that there was no black in the entire pattern. Black doesn't occur in nature, officials explained. But Cramer completely disagrees. Black and brown are essential to mimic shadows. Cramer's finalist pattern for the Improvement Effort includes something called "boundary luminance," a thin black line along the macro and micropatterns that tricks the eye into seeing 3D shapes: The so-called "boundary luminance" in Cramer and ADS Inc.'s US4CES. "If you don't have at least a percentage of that on your camo, it will stand out and look very 2D because it doesn't have that depth effect," he explains. "It was a hard lesson learned." There are more than half a million soldiers in the Army right now—and printing and cutting enough uniforms for all of them (at the lowest cost!) presents its own unique problem. It's important that camo "breaks up" the outline of soldier's body at crucial points like the wrist, knee, and ankle. Just like a tiger's stripes, which run perpendicular to their limbs, these visual "breaks" help to disguise the anatomy of a human target. When a roll of camo fabric is being cut up into millions of uniforms, however, it can be tough to predict where these breaks will land. Likewise, our brains are very good at recognizing patterns—if we see one shape twice, we're instantly aware that something's up. So it's incredibly important that a uniform's left and right sides don't ever match. "A lot of patterns will have this issue," says Cramer. "The brain will see an anomaly on the right part of the chest, and if it sees a very similar pattern on the left side of the chest, the brain immediately connects the dots and says, I now see the top part of a human body." Cramer's success has come, in part, because of his ability to engineer patterns that meet all of these complex criteria. He is a pioneer of algorithmic camo design: Rather than relying on his own brain to design patterns, he writes programs that generate true geometric fractals. Fractals, like the classic example of a leaf, are mathematical patterns that repeat themselves at any scale. Without a reference for scale, our eyes can't differentiate between a fractal and the background. That's why Cramer's patterns have been used on everything from guns to helicopters (not to mention more than 2.5 million uniforms): Because they are scaleless, they hide objects that are as small as humans and as large as buildings. The art of testing these patterns is almost more important than the design itself—and it's a process Cramer knows well, because he's helped the Army test patterns for nearly a decade. The process involves quizzing the Army's best snipers using thousands of photographs. At the United States Military Academy at West Point, the test subjects—which include snipers with perfect-or-better vision—don eye-tracking gear and are ushered into an immersive theater where they're shown slide after slide of camouflaged soldiers in different environments. There are a huge range of images to go through: For every conceivable environment, from deserts to marshes, and every conceivable weather event. Beyond environmental information, there are issues like range: a pattern must perform well close up as well as far away. According to Soldier Systems, the Camouflage Improvement Effort had 900 subjects test each pattern in 45 environments, resulting in a total of 120,000 data points. A crucial part of the testing process isn't just how quickly subjects can identify a visual anomaly—it's about how quickly they can identify where the body of the soldier is actually lying. That millisecond decision can have a huge impact in the field where, according to one NBC report, identifying a target take the average sniper only 12 to 30 seconds. In late August, a Special Forces team was unexpectedly removed from a mission in Libya, after terrorist groups stole dozens of guns and gadgets from US Army trucks. What does that have to do with camouflage? Everything, actually. Along with machine guns and lasers, the raiders stole a gadget that could eventually do just as much damage: A special type of US Army night vision goggles that detect short-wave infrared light—aka the SWIR spectrum. At $45,000 a pop, these goggles let soldiers see at around 1 μm wavelength, where colors blend together into a white mass. In other words, they make camouflage completely useless. The only pairs in existence have rested safely in the hands of the U.S. Army, until now. Hence the pull out. "It was never an issue up until now," explains Cramer. "Now, you've got the bad guys running around with the same tech." Which hints at the underlying explanation for the camo snafu, beyond sequestration or inter-agency spats: as enemies change and the supply channels for the latest military technology evolve, the Army can't be sure what exactly the other guys are seeing when they peer over the horizon at their troops. We've come along way from the stone-grey or field-green camo of the 19th century. We've even come a long way from the 1960s and 70s, when a single pattern could do for many decades and many conflicts. Modern warfare is changing at a dramatic speed—and, even when the Department of Defense picks a new pattern this year or next, it won't be long before they will be forced to reevaluate it. A concept image for Hyperstealth's "Smart Camo" textile, which can't be shown Image: Wired UK/Hyperstealth. It's almost as if the Army isn't looking far enough into the future—where rapid prototyping and smart materials could generate new patterns and textures simultaneously as field conditions change. Hyperstealth, for example, is working on a project called Quantum Stealth—a light-bending camo project that's been called an "invisibility cloak" in the media. One project, sadly, that its creators just can't discuss yet. Lead image: US Marines Patrol Remote Part Of Helmand Province Near Kajaki Dam. Scott Olson/AP.

News Article | November 18, 2010
Site: gigaom.com

Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) has announced the new executive structure for NBC Universal (NYSE: GE), ending Hollywood’s favorite guessing game these past few months. Few surprises given the endless speculation, but there were shifts worth noting on both the content and distribution sides of the digital business. Matt Bond, previously executive vice president of content acquisition for Comcast’s portfolio of cable channels, becomes executive vice president of content distribution at NBCU. That will put him in charge of distribution of Comcast’s now-massive portfolio of programming. Responsibility for NBCU distribution previously rolled up under Jeff Gaspin, who also oversaw the broadcast and cable assets. With Gaspin exiting NBCU, his direct reports on the distribution side now report to Bond: Bridget Baker, who managed affiliate relations, and JB Perrette, who led digital efforts. It was to be expected that distribution would be broken off into a separate job given Gaspin’s responsibilities were likely seen by Comcast as overly broad to begin with. Essentially, the position reverts to what it was when David Zaslav was in this role before he moved on to run Discovery Networks. Bond is certainly cut out for his new role given he was already spearheading negotiations for Comcast’s programming; in addition, he led efforts to build up Comcast’s On Demand Online. Bond joined Comcast in 2002 after stints at Yankees Entertainment & Sports Network and AT&T (NYSE: T) Broadband. On the digital content side of the business, Lauren Zalaznick will assume oversight of Daily Candy and Fandango. They were previously overseen by Amy Banse, who AllThingsD reported is shifting from her role as president of Comcast Interactive Media to run a private-equity fund that will combine separate funds previously maintained by Comcast and NBCU. CIM will now be run by Matt Strauss. Daily Candy and Fandango are natural additions for Zalaznick given she already had women’s web hub iVillage in her portfolio. The combined portfolio of cable networks between NBCU and Comcast have been split between her and NBCU’s Bonnie Hammer, each of whom hold onto the channels they were managing previously while picking up additional assets as well. Ted Harbert, who previously oversaw most of Comcast’s channels, transitions to management of the broadcast network, NBC. He will be joined by former Showtime programming chief Bob Greenblatt, who will focus on the creative side of NBC while Harbert handles business affairs. Here’s Comcast’s memo on the reorganization from COO Steve Burke, which includes a detailed breakdown of responsibilities: For nearly a year, we have worked hard to identify people from NBC Universal, Comcast and outside the two companies to form our new leadership team when the deal closes.  Our goal has been to find people who have the skill sets we need to succeed and who reflect the values that will be the hallmark of NBC Universal, including teamwork, integrity, creativity and a commitment to treating people the right way.  ?¨?¨We have also been very focused on putting in place the best possible organizational structure.  To that end, we have created some new positions, changed the scope of others, and shifted some reporting assignments.  We think we’ve developed a structure that organizes the company in the smartest way possible.   We are beginning our leadership announcements now because with the anticipated close of the deal nearing, we want to give everyone enough time to begin to think about the specific opportunities and challenges they will face beginning the day of the close.  This is particularly true for areas that have transition work to complete before we close.  While new roles won’t be effective until the deal closes, and while there will be more announcements to come, it is important that we are prepared to hit the ground running.   To that end, I am pleased to make the following initial announcements of members of the new NBC Universal senior management team:   Bonnie Hammer will become Chairman, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios.  USA, SyFy, E! Entertainment, G4, Chiller, Sleuth, Universal HD and UCP (Universal Cable Productions) will report to Bonnie.  Neil Tiles will remain President of G4 and report to Bonnie as will a newly appointed president of E! Entertainment. ?¨Lauren Zalaznick will become Chairman, NBC Universal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media.  Bravo, Oxygen, and iVillage will continue to report to Lauren, as will the Integrated Strategic Marketing Group, which oversees initiatives including Green Is Universal, Healthy at NBC Universal and Women at NBC Universal.  Digital properties Daily Candy and Fandango, Spanish language broadcaster Telemundo, and cable networks mun2, Style, and PBS Sprout will also report to Lauren.  Telemundo will continue to be led by Don Browne (President) and Jackie Hernandez (Chief Operating Officer);  Salaam Coleman Smith will continue to lead Style; and Chuck Davis will continue to lead Fandango and Daily Candy, each reporting to Lauren.   Dave Cassaro will become President, Cable Advertising Sales, reporting to both Bonnie and Lauren.  Dave will be responsible for cable and digital sales. Steve Mandala, Peter Naylor and Mike Rodriguez will report to Dave.   Ted Harbert will join NBC Universal from Comcast as Chairman, NBC Broadcasting. Ted will be responsible for broadcast advertising sales, NBC affiliate relations, companywide research, domestic TV syndication and the NBC station group.  Alan Wurtzel, Barry Wallach, Vivi Zigler and John Wallace will report to Ted.   Marianne Gambelli will become President, NBC Network Advertising Sales. She will be responsible for network primetime, news and sports advertising sales and she will report to Ted.   Bob Greenblatt will become Chairman, NBC Entertainment, responsible for all aspects of prime time and late night programming, business affairs, West Coast research, marketing, public relations, scheduling and NBC Universal Media Studios. Most recently, Bob was President, Entertainment for Showtime Networks, Inc.  Marc Graboff and Angela Bromstad will report to Bob. Steve Capus will continue to serve as President of NBC News/MSNBC.   Mark Hoffman will continue in his position as President of CNBC.   Dick Ebersol will become Chairman of the NBC Sports Group.  He will be responsible for NBC Sports, The Golf Channel, Versus and the Comcast Regional Sports Networks. Jon Litner (RSNs), Jamie Davis (Versus) and Earl Marshall (Golf) will report to Dick.   Ron Meyer will continue to be President and COO, Universal Studios.  Adam Fogelson will continue as Chairman, Universal Pictures and Tom Williams will be in charge of Universal Parks and Resorts. ?¨Jeff Shell will join NBC Universal from Comcast and move to London to become Chairman of NBC Universal International.  Peter Smith will report to Jeff.   Lynn Calpeter will continue to be Executive Vice President and CFO of NBC Universal.  In addition to the financial team, Ed Swindler, COO of Ad Sales, will report to Lynn and he will be heavily involved in companywide sales efforts.   Pat Fili-Krushel will join NBC Universal as Executive Vice President with a broad portfolio of functions reporting to her, including Media Works, Business Strategy, Human Resources and Legal.  Pat joins us from Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), where she served as Executive Vice President, Administration.    Rick Cotton will continue to serve as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of NBC Universal and will report to Pat and me.   Salil Mehta will continue to serve as President, Business Operations, Strategy and Development for NBC Universal and will also report to Pat.   John Eck will continue his role as President of Media Works, reporting to Pat as well.   Adam Miller will join NBC Universal as Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs. Communications will report to Adam and he will also work on special projects.  Adam joins us from the Abernathy MacGregor Group, where he was President and served as a longstanding adviser to Comcast.?¨?¨Matt Bond will join NBC Universal from Comcast as Executive Vice President, Content Distribution, responsible for domestic television content and digital distribution.  Bridget Baker and JB Perrette will report to Matt.?¨?¨Paula Madison will continue to serve as Executive Vice President, Diversity. Page Thompson will join NBC Universal from Comcast as Executive Vice President, Strategic Integration, responsible for identifying synergy opportunities between Comcast, NBC, Universal Studios and Parks and the cable channels. ?¨Jeff Gaspin, Mike Pilot and Allison Gollust will be leaving NBC Universal at the close of the transaction. These transitions are often difficult and at times people who have made great contributions end up leaving.  I want to thank them for their hard work and professionalism throughout the transition planning process.   The team described above will not begin to operate the company until after the transaction closes, which will occur following regulatory approval.  Between now and then, each business will continue to be managed by its respective leadership team, and NBC Universal will continue to be led by Jeff Zucker, whose talent, hard work and commitment have been instrumental in building NBC Universal into the company it is today.       I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone at NBC Universal and the Comcast Programming Group for your continued patience, hard work and focus.  While this announcement provides some clarity to some roles and responsibilities, it is only the first in what will be a series of milestones as we move into 2011.   I hope you are as excited as I am by the prospect of what we can accomplish together in the future. Steve

News Article | April 24, 2014
Site: www.techweekeurope.co.uk

The former CEO finds out about his dismissal from the press, says he won’t return to Russia CEO Pavel Durov has left Vkontakte (VK.com), Russia’s leading social network which he founded in 2007. His resignation was announced by the company’s press office in a statement published by the Russian news agency Interfax. “Judging by the news, I was fired today as the general director of VKontakte. Interestingly, the shareholders did not have the courage to do it directly and I learnt about my mysterious dismissal from the press,” Durov wrote on his Vkontakte page. In an exchange with TechCrunch, Durov said he was out of Russia with no plans to go back. “Unfortunately, the country is incompatible with Internet business at the moment,” he believes. On April 1, Durov had resigned from the CEO position, explaining that his freedom in running VK had been reduced by the recent shareholder change. On April 3, however, he withdrew his resignation, saying his departure would have affected VK’s future negatively. Durov now sees in his forced resignation a move from the two main VK shareholders, the UCP fund and the Mail.ru group. ”Now the site has moved under the full control of Igor Sechin and Alisher Usmanov,” Durov stated – an “inevitable development in Russian conditions,” according to him. Sechin and Usmanov are widely seen as Kremlin-friendly oligarchs. The former is said to be close to UCP managing partner Ilya Shcherbovich. The latter is the main shareholder of the Mail.ru Group, which could soon control 52 percent of the social network. However, according to Reuters UCP stated that Sechin was neither its client nor a shareholder. Furthermore, in what appears as a new development in an endless shareholder saga, the fund maintained that it had not approved Durov’s dismissal and that the question should be discussed at the next board meeting. Durov believes his dismissal has been motivated by his “public refusal” to collaborate with the FSB, the post-Soviet successor to the KGB. It was for the same reason that he was forced to sell his remaining 12 percent of the company this past January, he claimed last week. “On December 13, 2013 the FSB demanded that we disclose personal information on the leaders of Euromaidan [the Kiev-based movement that organized protests against the regime of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich]. Our response to such requests has always been ‘no,’ as Russian jurisdiction does not cover VKontakte’s Ukrainian users. Giving Ukrainians’ personal data away to Russian authorities would not only have been illegal, it would also have been disloyal to the millions of Ukrainian citizens who trusted us,” Durov explained. Durov has displayed an official two-page letter that the FSB allegedly sent him in December. The letter contained a list of 39 VK.com users among Ukrainian organizations and individuals that the Russian security service believed deserved scrutiny. Durov emphasized that he did not regret his considerable loss of property – VK was recording some 60 million daily visitors at the time – since protecting personal data was worth it. “I haven’t held [VK] shares since December 2013, but keeping a clear conscience and defending my ideals is more important,” he pointed out. In another post on his page Durov said he had faced pressure from another powerful Russian agency for weeks over his repeated refusal to pull the plug on an anti-corruption online community led by Alexei Navalny, a prominent Russian opposition politician and blogger. “On March 13, 2014 state prosecutors demanded that I close down Navalny’s anti-corruption group and threatened to block VKontakte if I didn’t. I didn’t do that in December 2011, and I certainly won’t do it now,” he maintained. Durov emphasized that what he labeled “political censorship” is something neither he nor his team will ever engage in, as “the freedom to disseminate information is an undeniable right in a postindustrial society…[and] the absence of it would render VKontakte’s existence meaningless.” VKontakte was nevertheless accused two years ago of collaborating with state security services to counter anti-Putin activity by its Russian users. What do you know about IT in Russia? Take our quiz!

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