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Presidential Inauguration Hardware and Other Challenges 176

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the big-spend-for-one-off dept.
holy_calamity writes "The FBI has released images of some of the kit that will be deployed to safeguard Obama's inauguration, including mine-proof armored trucks like those used in Iraq to protect against IEDs, and a large armored chamber that any bombs will be shoved inside to be transported away and perhaps detonated inside. Interesting, even though the really good stuff is presumably being kept under wraps." Relatedly, necro81 writes "The Inauguration of Barack Obama tomorrow is expected to put considerable stress on the cellphone network around Washington, DC. The expected crowd could top two million people, and many of them are expected to call, text, tweet, photo, and blog their way through the event. In response, the major wireless carriers in the area have spent millions of dollars upgrading their local networks and will bring in extra 'cells on wheels' (COWs) and 'cells on light trucks' (COLTs). They are also requesting that attendees limit their usage during the event, and avoid bandwidth-heavy activities — like uploading photos — until afterward."
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Presidential Inauguration Hardware and Other Challenges

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  • Yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jonah Bomber (535788) on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:12PM (#26521165)
    Good luck with asking people not to upload photos during the event.
    • Re:Yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Authoritative Douche (1255948) on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:39PM (#26521489)
      Oops. CNN is advertising an address to upload all your photos taken throughout the day so they can stitch them together to make 360-deg VR photos available as close to real time as they can (several minute delay).
  • Twitter is screwed. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rayeth (1335201) on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:16PM (#26521211)
    Twitter's service is likely to be as screwed as the cell network with millions of people around the country tweeting about how they just saw (on TV, Internet or in person) Obama swear in, etc. Expect the service to be down most of the day imo.
    • by Reapman (740286) on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:42PM (#26521525)

      And nothing of value was lost... sorry had to say it, mod down as you will!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rayeth (1335201)

        For the most part I actually agree with you. I am not really looking forward to the deluge of updates that are in store. Especially considering the number that already are showing up, "OMG only 2 days left to end the worst 8 years ever!"

        Which would be fine, but clearly most of these people haven't even been voting age for 8 years -- let alone 12. So don't mind it when I don't trust their opinion on the state of the state as it were.

        Its great that young people are more involved in politics now, I think th

        • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:15PM (#26522805) Homepage Journal

          Those who turned 18 and were eligible to vote for the first time in 2008 were in elementary school when Bush was (s)elected. He's been in office pretty much the entire time they've been aware of politics at all. Given what a horrorshow both his terms have been, they can, I think, be forgiven for seeing Obama as something special. It's kind of like what happens to an abused kid who grows up, gets out of his parents' house, and realizes that there are people in the world who won't beat the shit out of him every time he opens his mouth -- sooner or later, he'll realize that the world contains good people and bad ones in about equal measure, but at first, just about everyone is going to seem wonderful in comparison.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I'm going to spend the data watching the coverage over the rabbit ears/antenna. Yeah I know... old-fashioned 60-year-old technology, but it still works. :-) It will be the last time a presidential inauguration was broadcast using analog NTSC.* After tomorrow it will be broadcast exclusively in HD digital.

          *
          *(Technically the last time will probably be in 2013, since Mexico still uses NTSC, but I don't live there.)

          • by bugg (65930) *
            There will probably be digital standard definition broadcasts as well. ATSC supports standard definition resolutions as well, which are especially useful for when a broadcaster multiplexes multiple streams into a single channel.
    • by megamerican (1073936) on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:42PM (#26521531)

      Expect the service to be down most of the day imo.

      That's change I can believe in.

      Sadly, that's about all I can look forward too but that's another discussion alltogether. :)

  • Pretty spectacular (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Haoie (1277294) on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:20PM (#26521267) Homepage

    There's certainly been a vast advancement in technology [especially communications] since early 2001.

    So that's technology like social networking, blogging, microblogging, webcasting, etc etc.

    It'll be a memorable event.

  • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:24PM (#26521325)
    Surely there is no need for two new buzzwords. The light trucks have wheels so they are also COWs. Or do COLTs only work for OMG Pink Pony calls.
    • Re:COWs and COLTs (Score:5, Interesting)

      by snowraver1 (1052510) on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:36PM (#26521449)
      Killjoy. This is cool stuff. I would guess that the COW is a trailer and the COLT is a truck. I've always been facinated with satellite communications, and this looks really neat. I would love to be the guy that gets to drive that beast in, fire up the generator, press button one for the mast and radios, then button two for the auto aligning satellite. All this while onlookers stare in wonder.

      On another note, this must have taken A LOT of planning. You usually can't just throw more cells in all willy-nilly. They would have to lower power on nearby cells and maybe even temporarily put cells on different frequencies to free up space for these microcells.
      • Why can't cells overlap one another? I don't completely understand the technology, but I thought cellphones had the ability to share frequencies without interference, even if 3 or 4 towers are within "hearing" distance of the signal.

    • by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:04PM (#26522659) Journal

      Surely there is no need for two new buzzwords.

      And I gotta tell you: fellas.. you have got what appears to be a dynamite inauguration! I'll be honest.. fellas, it was communicating great. But.. I could've used a little more Bell COWs!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:26PM (#26521357)

    But I'm going to try to use up some bandwidth anyway, you know, just to make visitors' lives a little less fun.

  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:51PM (#26521673)

    You can't stop [wikipedia.org] a determined assassin.

    Prepare for one thing and they'll use another, and never, ever underestimate the effectiveness of someone willing to trade their own life for the life of the target.

    I'm not saying this to brew fear, i'm saying this to point out there is a reasonable point at which marginal returns to extra security diminish, and a point at which flexibility (hence my example) is more important than durability.

    • by fermion (181285)
      but given the number of weapons that have been sold in the past few months, and the amount of ammunition, I was under the impression we were talking about large scale para military forces, not the lone gunman.

      I understand that gun stores are having fun raking in the profits by citing the end of the world and the end of gun sales, and the danger of having a non white person in an office that over the past few years have been given dictatorial powers, but really it is not that bad. the end of the world wil

      • Blame the NRA (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ArchieBunker (132337)

        Its because of the NRA. As of lately they have been circulating propaganda saying Obama WILL make handguns illegal. Ask anyone who is a member or reads Guns 'N Ammo. I am all for private ownership of firearms and the second amendment but the NRA is overreacting here.

        • Re:Blame the NRA (Score:4, Informative)

          by AaronHorrocks (686276) on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:24PM (#26522917)
          In 1996, Obama said that he "supported banning the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns".
          • by Nimey (114278)

            That was 1996 when he was less experienced. Even if he still thinks that way, the Dems are a man short of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Don't get your panties in a wad.

            • You always think they're one man short, but people will walk the floors, people won't show up. It's quite close to a majority, isn't it?

              Regardless, I don't think Obama would move to ban handguns. It's a lot of bad press that he doesn't need to get involved in. I don't think the americans would want a national gun registry, or limited firearms sales, like we have up here... Especially not at this point.

          • In 1996, Obama said that he "supported banning the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns"

            He didn't say any such thing. You are referring to a questionnaire that a staffer filled out erroneously. You could try and argue that's a lie from the Obama camp, but then why should Ron Paul get a free pass on his racist newsletters that the good doctor has disavowed as someone else's work?

            The NRA is a hack organization. Gun nuts ran saying how they couldn't vote for Gore or Kerry because they supported gun

          • It may well be true, but (gladly) US president is not an elected dictator, and doesn't get to write laws single-handedly. And it's unlikely that a nationwide ban would go through the Congress (and then not get shot down by the Supreme Court).

        • by Nimey (114278)

          If not the NRA, the wingnuts-at-large. I don't buy the propaganda; the worst that will happen is the re-banning of so-called "assault weapons".

          I will digress a moment: the political and military definitions of "assault rifle" are worlds apart. In the military world, an assault rifle is a small arm that fires intermediate cartridges (midway in power between pistol and full-size rifle cartridges, such as 7.62x39mm or 5.56x45mm) and is capable of firing semi-automatically and (full-auto or burst).

          The politic

    • by R3d M3rcury (871886) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:58PM (#26522583) Journal

      So we assume that the various assassins who were stopped just weren't determined?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by twostix (1277166)

      Tell that to Fidel Castro 638 foiled attempts - http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/aug/03/cuba.duncancampbell2 [guardian.co.uk]

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kperson (771747)
      You never really have to say "ever" after "never". It actually reduces the effect of your sentence, like adding the word "actually". Um, I mean...
  • by blueforce (192332) <clannagael@gmai l . com> on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:57PM (#26521739) Homepage Journal

    It's so nice that the picture inside the mobile command center has a split screen monitor with the food network, themselves, days of our lives, and The Care Bears.

    How cute.

  • Care Bears? (Score:4, Funny)

    by TrebleJunkie (208060) <ezahurakNO@SPAMatlanticbb.net> on Monday January 19, 2009 @06:57PM (#26521741) Homepage Journal

    Note the Care Bears on the monitor in the mobile command center in photo 8 [newscientist.com]. Gives me the chuckles. :)

    • It's probably either "photoshopped" so they're not showing what's really on it. Or they have some pre-configured "guests without clearance are here" screen that they can change all the monitors to with the push of a button.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by N1ck0 (803359)

        It's probably either "photoshopped" so they're not showing what's really on it. Or they have some pre-configured "guests without clearance are here" screen that they can change all the monitors to with the push of a button.

        Assuming these pictures didn't span multiple visits and taking the following into account:
        1. The shadows in all the pics show the sun is at a very low angle.
        2. The state of the trees, combined with green IVY in pic 3 indicate its mid-fall.
        3. In mid-fall sun would only be as low as the reflection in the bomb containment vessel in the mid/late-morning and the evening.
        4. The clock indicates it is 10:33:24 (can't be PM because of the sun)
        5. The upper left looks like a morning talk show, and the lower left looks

        • by steelfood (895457)

          To paraphrase:

          Assuming these pictures didn't span multiple visits and taking the following into account:
          1. The shadows in all the pics show the sun is at a very low angle.
          2. The state of the trees, combined with green IVY in pic 3 indicate its mid-fall.
          3. In mid-fall sun would only be as low as the reflection in the bomb containment vessel in the mid/late-morning and the evening.
          4. The clock indicates it is 10:33:24 (can't be PM because of the sun)
          5. The upper left looks like a morning talk show, and the lower left looks to be a talk show, or game show. (the other is an interior cam)

          I can conclude that they most likely have tuned the TV to local over-the-air TV stations to show that they can both monitor the news and closed circuit feeds on their display system....

          To paraphrase succinctly: They were watching TV.

      • by LingNoi (1066278)

        or more likely; that's just what's usually on the screen.

    • Dude, it's nothing to laugh at. If you tried to get at Obama, those Care Bares would fucking murder you. With care!
    • by tool462 (677306)

      That's not Care Bears, just the sprites they use for the pedophile monitoring system. Any "Care Bear Stare" animations indicate an offense in progress.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:01PM (#26521801) Homepage

    This coronation-like ceremony is getting out of hand. A quiet ceremony in the Capitol, broadcast on TV, would be sufficient. That's what was done during WWII, when there were concerns about an attack on FDR.

    This is the first time an inauguration has shut down Washington, DC for two days. All the Potomac River bridges out to the Beltway are closed Monday and Tuesday. That's well beyond the impact of previous inaugurations.

    • This coronation-like ceremony is getting out of hand. A quiet ceremony in the Capitol, broadcast on TV, would be sufficient. That's what was done during WWII, when there were concerns about
      an attack on FDR.

      This is the first time an inauguration has shut down Washington, DC for two days. All the Potomac River bridges out to the Beltway are closed Monday and Tuesday. That's well beyond the impact of previous inaugurations.

      He was talking about change we can believe in, and by god he meant it!

      If you don't believe in this change, you can try to cross the bridges and see for yourself!

    • by ColdWetDog (752185) * on Monday January 19, 2009 @08:22PM (#26522887) Homepage

      This is the first time an inauguration has shut down Washington, DC for two days. All the Potomac River bridges out to the Beltway are closed Monday and Tuesday.

      And nothing of value was lost....

    • You may want to read up on the Bill of Rights.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by TempeTerra (83076)

      Obama's first act is to shut down DC for two days? Truly, our saviour is here! ;)

    • by pkphilip (6861)

      This "coronation" stuff is overdone

      This is an understatement. People are losing jobs by the millions and here we have a person who claims to be heralding the change but who thinks nothing about spending over $100 million on his "inauguration".

      There has not been a single Presidential inauguration in history which has been this over the top.

      Would it have been too much to expect the president-elect to even display a modicum of empathy with those who are suffering? Obama needn't have opted for a ceremony which is a toned down version of the regu

      • Lighten up a little.

        "There has not been a single Presidential inauguration in history which has been this over the top."

        True, true. But when was the last time we a black President being sworn in? Kind of a unique situation.

        And, if nothing else, consider it a celebration of the LAST President LEAVING.

        That make it a little easier to accept?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Uberbah (647458)

        Morons. Millions of people aren't showing up because it's a big event, it's a big event because millions of people want to show up. If you want to be a WATB, start complaining at conservatives for running the country into the ground over the last 30 years, making people hungry for something different.

        It should also be pointed out that much like the lie about auto workers earning $71 an hour, the comparisons between the cost of Obama's inauguration (WITH the cost of security) and Bush's (WITHOUT security)

  • 911 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by necro81 (917438) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:02PM (#26521819) Journal
    My concern is what if something bad were to happen during the inauguration, and suddenly a million people whip out their cellphones all start calling 911, their family, news organizations, and generally broadcast an emergency to the world all at the same time.

    Anyone want to watch one of those expensive cell-towers on a truck burst into flames?
    • My concern is what if something bad were to happen during the inauguration, and suddenly a million people whip out their cellphones all start calling 911, their family, news organizations, and generally broadcast an emergency to the world all at the same time.

      Anyone want to watch one of those expensive cell-towers on a truck burst into flames?

      Given their decision to go with silverlight for the event, I suspect the trucks would BSOD long before that happens.

    • I've been in a couple situations where a bunch of people called 911 at the same time from the same place, and in both cases a few of us got a busy signal. My assumption was that this was a feature to prevent the very kind of overload you're talking about.

    • by sootman (158191)

      Yeah, because I'm sure no one at nearby 911 centers, police stations, fire stations, and hospitals will be watching the ceremony. Not to mention every government agency will have multiple feeds and private lines of communication. If anything goes wrong tomorrow, I'm sure people that need to know will know pretty quickly.

  • The point (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ShooterNeo (555040) on Monday January 19, 2009 @07:15PM (#26521993)

    The point of all this security isn't to stop a serious, well funded attempt to assasinate this man. As many people have pointed out, unless they kept the person in a bunker or in a series of undisclosed locations, a well funded team could probably harm him or her.

    Except...any sane organization has nothing to gain by killing this leader. Unlike a dictator, the president can be easily replaced with someone else, and routinely is swapped out ever 4-8 years. In fact, a reasonable person would expect a backlash. The real reason the U.S. government doesn't give two shits about the Palestinians is because they kind of seem like the same kind of guys who committed the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That's backlash.

    Any group that killed the American president would be crushed, and would never get anything they wanted.

    However, lone nuts and other poorly equipped people get mad at the President all the time. The secret service can probably stop such morons in almost all situations.

    Also, a lot of the security is reactive. Presidents who were killed in the past were usually killed by some kind of small arms attack. Hence the bulletproof limo and the ring of armed guards. If some other form of attack ever succeeded, god forbid, then security precautions might change. Such as eliminating public appearances entirely and doing everything via teleconference and holograms.

  • big deal? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Eil (82413) on Monday January 19, 2009 @09:55PM (#26523821) Homepage Journal

    Now, I'm a pretty young whippersnapper (almost 30) but I cannot even recall reading about another presidential election that's generated this much hoopla. From the primaries, to the election, to the inauguration, it's all been full-throttle excitement. And not just from the press, but people on the street as well. Even my bigoted father and step-mother think he's just great.

    Is it because:

    A) He's the first halfway intelligent president our generation has seen?

    B) He has the most fucking fantastic marketing department ever?

    C) He's the first not-exclusively-white guy to take office?

    D) The Internet is enabling average people to express their opinions and reach out to each other more easily than ever before?

    E) Pretty much everyone wants Bush out of the White House, even the most right-leaning republicans?

    So are we witnessing history here (and not just because of the race thing) or has there been another presidential election with this much carnival atmosphere to the whole thing? This is a serious question. Ya know, for old people. (And historians.)

    • A) Whatever you think of his politics, Bill Clinton was as smart or smarter
    • by steelfood (895457)

      E

      (ignore this bit of lame text to defeat the filter)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by foobarb (659413)

      D, E, and

      F) He sounds like he believes and means what he says.

      Clinton is smart but he lies when he opens his mouth. Obama somehow gives off credibility and authenticity ... one would hope by being credible and authentic, but we shall see. Integrity is rare anywhere, and you don't expect to see it in politicians anymore, at least not at the P level, because we've had a bad run of those here lately.

      IIRC the Kennedy election events were very similar in tone (rock starish). More swooning girls then. Media was s

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