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U.S. Army increasingly using custom iPods as field translators

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
Apple's iPod has been easing tensions with Iraqi citizens in a real-world experiment that has seen the music player provide on-the-spot translating for a fraction the cost and size of earlier systems.

Instead of carrying around a relatively bulky PDA or notebook, the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division has for a year been using 260 iPods and iPod nanos modified to run a special app from Vcom 3D known as Vcommunicator Mobile.

The software takes advantage of the iPod's hierarchical menu system and scroll wheel to let soldiers sift through and select phrases in local dialects that match the situation at hand, such as a friendly meeting or to question a suspect. A speaker mounted on the headphone jack plays a voice sample of the sentence such that troops don't have to memorize the pronunciation themselves.

Little has been done to modify the iPod hardware; other than armbands and other accessories to dustproof the iPod and its speaker, Apple's media players are the same as those that left the factory. The Dock Connector on the bottom functions the same as it does for the reference player and permits speaker docks or most any accessory supported by the Cupertino original.

An iPod nano with Vcommunicator Mobile, armband and speaker for use in the field. | Image credits: U.S. Army.

By exploiting this familiarity to its advantage, Vcom 3D not only lowered the deployment cost versus earlier methods -- the complete development and equipment cost $800,000 -- but is said to have reduced the learning time both for the soldiers and the Iraqis it's meant to reach.

Although few American infantrymen can understand Iraqi responses without the help of a translator, the music player is not only intuitive for the Westerners but also, surprisingly, for the Iraqis who are already familiar with Apple's design. The iPod is less threatening and breaks down more of the cultural barriers the software is meant to overcome.

The year-long use by the 10th Mountain Division has been successful to such a degree that the U.S. Army is looking to expand the program to include the 1st Cavalry Division. The military wing will ship trial devices with three brigades about to leave for Iraq and may use the special iPods in a broader capacity if they prove useful during the division's operations. Their abilities to play photos and videos are already talked about as potentially useful for showing maps and other visual information to Iraqi residents.

Vcom 3D's wins further deepen Apple's involvement with the American military, which in recent months has grown to include native iPhone apps.
post #2 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple's iPod has been easing tensions with Iraqi citizens in a real-world experiment that has seen the music player provide on-the-spot translating for a fraction the cost and size of earlier systems.


Wouldn't an iPhone be an even better solution with its built-in speaker and bigger display?
APOSTROPHE: he's/she's/you're/it's
NO APOSTROPHE: his/hers/yours/its

Is this really so difficult?
Reply
APOSTROPHE: he's/she's/you're/it's
NO APOSTROPHE: his/hers/yours/its

Is this really so difficult?
Reply
post #3 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_steve View Post

Wouldn't an iPhone be an even better solution with its built-in speaker and bigger display?

Probably--or at least, an iPod Touch--but this program probably got its start pre-iPhone.

Re Apple and ties to the military, don't forget Apple makes chips for missiles!
http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...ales_fall.html
post #4 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


Little has been done to modify the iPod hardware; other than armbands and other accessories to dustproof the iPod and its speaker, Apple's media players are the same as those that left the factory.

Its speaker ?
post #5 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_steve View Post

Wouldn't an iPhone be an even better solution with its built-in speaker and bigger display?

Not to mention GPS. And the iPod app is easier to use than the click wheel iPod. They could get to their intended translations faster with the new version. And the touch has no spinning disks, so it would probably last longer in the fields of sand.
post #6 of 51
They need to give the Iraqi one that talks in English for his responses.
post #7 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by technohermit View Post

Not to mention GPS. And the iPod app is easier to use than the click wheel iPod. They could get to their intended translations faster with the new version. And the touch has no spinning disks, so it would probably last longer in the fields of sand.

Isn't the hard drive pretty well sealed inside the device?
post #8 of 51
All communication is good.

That said, Brits had a program in place for having their field troops learn basic Arabic three years ago, maybe more. That's what you do when you are serious, instead of playing with gadgets. The US is slowly getting similar training in gear - it has made headlines in 2008 - but it comes 2-3 years later than the Brits, and arguably five years too late overall.

It was known well in advance that the mission would be all about occupation, not open battle. Communication is everything in counterinsurgency. Language training could, and should, have started before the war did.

It's as if just coming in contact with another culture or language is considered some kind of sign of weakness or dishonor by the US Army. That sounds nuts, I know - I'd like to hear a better explanation for its behavior, if there is one.

Just for instance, they put up their own road signs "Charlie Road" etc. in former Yugoslavia, right next to perfectly legible local signs with local names. Mind you, this was peacetime, no one shooting at them, and constant GPS access. Foreign troops of other nationalities drove around just fine using the local signs. It's not exactly rocket science. Sign says "Xywrgargle" and map says "Xywrgargle". It shouldn't even matter if you fail to recognize individual characters in the name (think cyrillic, or kanji), as long as they are the same on the sign and on the map.
post #9 of 51
if they are using modified devises it means Stve gave the military the code.

Steve, can you sell out anymore? Apple devises used by the US made in China.

Are you on George Bush's payroll?

What's next linking your GPS with the governments?

Or have you already sold that and named it iSteve in honor of you?
post #10 of 51
I've just tried to post this to AppleInsider and it was deleted immediately.

I've uploaded the article below with my comments to iReport on CNN.com and let them know you censored my post immediately. I think it would be wise to keep this one.

Steve has sold the iPhone techonology to the US Military. That means they can track all GPS phones at will.

iPhones are made in China and sold to the US military. Is Steve on Bush's payroll?

As CNN call's it. KEEPING THEM HONEST!
post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by K.C. View Post

It's speaker ?

I think it means the speaker unit that's attached to the iPod by a cable.

And by the way, the word *it's* means IT IS. The possessive form is *its* and like the other possessives it has no apostrophe (his/hers/yours/its).
APOSTROPHE: he's/she's/you're/it's
NO APOSTROPHE: his/hers/yours/its

Is this really so difficult?
Reply
APOSTROPHE: he's/she's/you're/it's
NO APOSTROPHE: his/hers/yours/its

Is this really so difficult?
Reply
post #12 of 51
Steve has sold out America. Placed a military device in all our pocket's with GPS for unknown reasons.

At least Bill left Microsoft to do philanthropy work (Work that save's lifes not kills them).

U.S. Army increasingly using custom iPods as field translators.

I posted this to iReport on CNN to Keep Apple Honest. How safe do you feel now.

It's a wonder Steve is a paranoid ego centric lunatic. He's on Bush's payroll.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Apple's iPod has been easing tensions with Iraqi citizens in a real-world experiment that has seen the music player provide on-the-spot translating for a fraction the cost and size of earlier systems.

Instead of carrying around a relatively bulky PDA or notebook, the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division has for a year been using 260 iPods and iPod nanos modified to run a special app from Vcom 3D known as Vcommunicator Mobile.

The software takes advantage of the iPod's hierarchical menu system and scroll wheel to let soldiers sift through and select phrases in local dialects that match the situation at hand, such as a friendly meeting or to question a suspect. A speaker mounted on the headphone jack plays a voice sample of the sentence such that troops don't have to memorize the pronunciation themselves.

Little has been done to modify the iPod hardware; other than armbands and other accessories to dustproof the iPod and its speaker, Apple's media players are the same as those that left the factory. The Dock Connector on the bottom functions the same as it does for the reference player and permits speaker docks or most any accessory supported by the Cupertino original.

An iPod nano with Vcommunicator Mobile, armband and speaker for use in the field. | Image credits: U.S. Army.

By exploiting this familiarity to its advantage, Vcom 3D not only lowered the deployment cost versus earlier methods -- the complete development and equipment cost $800,000 -- but is said to have reduced the learning time both for the soldiers and the Iraqis it's meant to reach.

Although few American infantrymen can understand Iraqi responses without the help of a translator, the music player is not only intuitive for the Westerners but also, surprisingly, for the Iraqis who are already familiar with Apple's design. The iPod is less threatening and breaks down more of the cultural barriers the software is meant to overcome.

The year-long use by the 10th Mountain Division has been successful to such a degree that the U.S. Army is looking to expand the program to include the 1st Cavalry Division. The military wing will ship trial devices with three brigades about to leave for Iraq and may use the special iPods in a broader capacity if they prove useful during the division's operations. Their abilities to play photos and videos are already talked about as potentially useful for showing maps and other visual information to Iraqi residents.

Vcom 3D's wins further deepen Apple's involvement with the American military, which in recent months has grown to include native iPhone apps.
post #13 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gon View Post

All communication is good.

That said, Brits had a program in place for having their field troops learn basic Arabic three years ago, maybe more. That's what you do when you are serious, instead of playing with gadgets. The US is slowly getting similar training in gear - it has made headlines in 2008 - but it comes 2-3 years later than the Brits, and arguably five years too late overall.

It was known well in advance that the mission would be all about occupation, not open battle. Communication is everything in counterinsurgency. Language training could, and should, have started before the war did.

It's as if just coming in contact with another culture or language is considered some kind of sign of weakness or dishonor by the US Army. That sounds nuts, I know - I'd like to hear a better explanation for its behavior, if there is one.

Just for instance, they put up their own road signs "Charlie Road" etc. in former Yugoslavia, right next to perfectly legible local signs with local names. Mind you, this was peacetime, no one shooting at them, and constant GPS access. Foreign troops of other nationalities drove around just fine using the local signs. It's not exactly rocket science. Sign says "Xywrgargle" and map says "Xywrgargle". It shouldn't even matter if you fail to recognize individual characters in the name (think cyrillic, or kanji), as long as they are the same on the sign and on the map.

The army mindset is completely last century. Top-down direction of "replaceable parts" (aka soldiers) instead of independent, educated fighting units with fewer better soldiers. Their solution is still to throw more bodies at a problem to solve it instead of evaluating and acting with real understanding. The whole system would probably work better if it were organized by women.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

Reply
post #14 of 51
Great. Now let's get ALL of our soldiers home and safe. It'd be great to stop spending/wasting more money on unnecessary war.
post #15 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gon View Post

All communication is good.

That said, Brits had a program in place for having their field troops learn basic Arabic three years ago, maybe more. That's what you do when you are serious, instead of playing with gadgets. The US is slowly getting similar training in gear - it has made headlines in 2008 - but it comes 2-3 years later than the Brits, and arguably five years too late overall.

It was known well in advance that the mission would be all about occupation, not open battle. Communication is everything in counterinsurgency. Language training could, and should, have started before the war did.

It's as if just coming in contact with another culture or language is considered some kind of sign of weakness or dishonor by the US Army. That sounds nuts, I know - I'd like to hear a better explanation for its behavior, if there is one.

Just for instance, they put up their own road signs "Charlie Road" etc. in former Yugoslavia, right next to perfectly legible local signs with local names. Mind you, this was peacetime, no one shooting at them, and constant GPS access. Foreign troops of other nationalities drove around just fine using the local signs. It's not exactly rocket science. Sign says "Xywrgargle" and map says "Xywrgargle". It shouldn't even matter if you fail to recognize individual characters in the name (think cyrillic, or kanji), as long as they are the same on the sign and on the map.

You make it sound like all British soldiers are learning Arabic. The article states: "Sixty people study Arabic at present there, and this number is expected to rise to 80 in the coming months." Also, how may British troops were in Iraq...less than 10,000? The US has had well over 100,000 in Iraq. That makes teaching them Arabic a daunting task. Beyond that, many in our military learn foreign languages (arabic and others) through the Defense Language Institute or the military acedemies. See:
http://www.dliflc.edu/
And we have (after the Brits) started teaching Arabic to our army officers:
http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/0...commander.html
post #16 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gon View Post

That said, Brits had a program in place for having their field troops learn basic Arabic three years ago, maybe more. That's what you do when you are serious, instead of playing with gadgets. The US is slowly getting similar training in gear - it has made headlines in 2008 - but it comes 2-3 years later than the Brits, and arguably five years too late overall.

I hope you don't seriously believe that. The military upped its Arabic training in 2001 to deal with Al-Qeda and and its mostly Arabic members. These iPods are no doubt not for the translators that already know Arabic and are sent to the best language school in the world. With troops on 12-15 month tours in Iraq is it really a priority to take them out of combat training and put them into Arabic classes - not at all.

This is the dawn of the Stek Trek inspired universal translator. The iPod Touch would certainly be a more suited product but a receiver is needed (and appreciated for VOIP applications).
post #17 of 51
Great Vcommunicator Studio (Quickly and cost-effectively author your digital media with lifelike characters!) at

http://www.vcom3d.com/vcommunicator.php

A SHAME IT IS ONLY FOR WINDOWS! Anyone knows of a similar or better product for Mac? Thanks.
post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gon View Post

All communication is good.

That said, Brits had a program in place for having their field troops learn basic Arabic three years ago, maybe more. That's what you do when you are serious, instead of playing with gadgets. The US is slowly getting similar training in gear - it has made headlines in 2008 - but it comes 2-3 years later than the Brits, and arguably five years too late overall.

It was known well in advance that the mission would be all about occupation, not open battle. Communication is everything in counterinsurgency. Language training could, and should, have started before the war did.

It's as if just coming in contact with another culture or language is considered some kind of sign of weakness or dishonor by the US Army. That sounds nuts, I know - I'd like to hear a better explanation for its behavior, if there is one.

Just for instance, they put up their own road signs "Charlie Road" etc. in former Yugoslavia, right next to perfectly legible local signs with local names. Mind you, this was peacetime, no one shooting at them, and constant GPS access. Foreign troops of other nationalities drove around just fine using the local signs. It's not exactly rocket science. Sign says "Xywrgargle" and map says "Xywrgargle". It shouldn't even matter if you fail to recognize individual characters in the name (think cyrillic, or kanji), as long as they are the same on the sign and on the map.

I agree, and disagree. On one side, yes - 100% yes, there should have been a program in place to have soldiers learn basic Arabic.

On the other, I hardly think this deserves your put down of "playing with gadgets" - you forget how you began this, communication is good. Learning a language doesn't happen overnight, sure as hell my attempts to learn Mandarin prove so much; something is better than nothing.

This is something, not the end, but the beginning.
post #19 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by AHeneen View Post

You make it sound like all British soldiers are learning Arabic. The article states: "Sixty people study Arabic at present there, and this number is expected to rise to 80 in the coming months." Also, how may British troops were in Iraq...less than 10,000? The US has had well over 100,000 in Iraq. That makes teaching them Arabic a daunting task. Beyond that, many in our military learn foreign languages (arabic and others) through the Defense Language Institute or the military academies. See:
http://www.dliflc.edu/
And we have (after the Brits) started teaching Arabic to our army officers:
http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/0...commander.html

Defense Language Institute in Monterey. A professor of mine left my school for there. He was good. *sigh*
post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

... [T]he whole system would probably work better if it were organized by women.

Unbelievable. The Gaul in some people!
Stay focused. Go slow. Keep it simple.
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Stay focused. Go slow. Keep it simple.
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post #21 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmike View Post

Great. Now let's get ALL of our soldiers home and safe. It'd be great to stop spending/wasting more money on unnecessary war.

Has there ever been a necessary war?
post #22 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDreamworx View Post

Has there ever been a necessary war?

Depends who you ask.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
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post #23 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigmike View Post

Great. Now let's get ALL of our soldiers home and safe. It'd be great to stop spending/wasting more money on unnecessary war.

I agree! I just hope we don't start spending/wasting all that money on more unnecessary government entitlement programs that bloat the US budget. The last thing we need is another "program" created to help the people when all it does is place one more nail in the coffin of their freedoms, increases bureaucracy, and limits benefits year after year, while costs for the program are grossly misstated and go up year after year!

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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post #24 of 51
I was a linguist for the Army and I attended the defense language institute in California. It would be impossible to train every foot soldier to speak Arabic. Arabic is a category 4 language (meaning it's extremely difficult to learn) and it takes at least 63 weeks to take the basic course at DLI. It may be longer now. I attended DLI from March 02 to July 03. This would mean every soldier would need to spend 12 weeks in basic training, X number of weeks learning to do their individual job and then another year and a half to learn the language. Plus, DLI wasn't founded to train the entire Army. The Army has trained a great deal of linguists to be stationed in Iraq, but we still need these types of devices to enable the soldiers on the ground to communicate with civilians. I think it's a great idea and a great time and money saver. I get extremely annoyed when uneducated or ill-informed individuals try to diss the Army or the war. Get your information correct before you pipe off about how the Army isn't training anyone to speak the language. Talk to people who were actually there before you make up your mind about what's going on over there.
post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by the_steve View Post

Wouldn't an iPhone be an even better solution with its built-in speaker and bigger display?


Actually no it wouldn't, besides it being bigger it would be susceptible to dust problems with all of it's openings. And the speakers wouldn't be powerful enough for that type of application anyway.
post #26 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

I agree! I just hope we don't start spending/wasting all that money on more unnecessary government entitlement programs that bloat the US budget. The last thing we need is another "program" created to help the people when all it does is place one more nail in the coffin of their freedoms, increases bureaucracy, and limits benefits year after year, while costs for the program are grossly misstated and go up year after year!

No one likes unnecessary government programs ... except the private corporations who feed at that trough (military/industrial/Haliburtin complex) and a relatively small number of fraudulent people on welfare or social programs.

If you were intellectually honest though, you'd look at the federal budget and compare military spending versus entitlements and see that military is the largest part of government spending. Also regarding entitlements, which veterans would you drop from their entitlements? Maybe talk specifics if you want to be taken seriously. Mr. Rot'nApple, get over yourself, Obama articulates things just fine.

As for language training, my brother was a Marine during the invasion and he grew to really like Arabic as a language and culture. He would have spent plenty of time studying it if he would have had an iPod with tutorials. I think these iPods are also a great way to get to the hearts and minds of the young people there since they are the ones who will be stopping the bad guys when we leave. Wouldn't it be great for each soldier to have an iPod with music, language tools and texts of things like, oh maybe the Constitution, that they could then give to Iraqi's at the end of things!?

Kyranay: You are of course correct in the difficulty of teaching EVERY soldier competency in Arabic, but that isn't the point. Just teach 1 or 2% the language. If every marine needs to know how to use an M16, even the electricians and dishwashers, some should learn the language. That would be as useful in self-defense as a rifle. This simply shows how, if we are going to be "nation building," we need a different set of skills for our military than what we have. As SpamSandwich suggested, we are using a cold-war tool to fix a terror-war problem. The Army war college has already created plenty of ways of redesigning the military, but no pressure from the top to implement the changes.

Now if only the President was given an iPod with iPhotos of what WMD's really look like and maybe a copy of the articles of the Geneva Conventions and perhaps an audiobook on how the Constitution states wars need to be authorized, we might save a lot more money and lives in the future.
The Mother of all flip-flops!!
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The Mother of all flip-flops!!
Support our troops by educating yourself and being a responsible voter. Democracy and Capitalism REQUIRE Intelligence and Wisdom if they are to be worth a damn beyond...
Reply
post #27 of 51
You should talk to your brother more often, or better yet, be more like him and enlist. You've obviously never been in any hostile situation when people were shooting at you if you think speaking the language is as useful to your "self-defense" as your weapon. Also, there is no such MOS as "dishwasher," and U.S. Marines aren't sent to battle to defend themselves.

As for "no one" liking unnecessary government programs, we seem to have 535 or so "no ones" up on Capitol Hill earmarking and voting for them. Minus, of course, the dozen or so that have spent the last 3 or 4 years wasting taxpayer dollars as they were off campaigning to be President.

(Before anyone jumps out here yelling about how campaign costs are born by the candidates and their supporters, let's remember they are being paid handsomely to be in Washington D.C. doing their jobs, not taking a year or two off with pay to try and get a different one. None of them have refused paychecks from the US Govt while they ignore the very people who elected them to do something beneficial for the citizens of the states they represent.)

There are far more people than the "military/industrial complex" making money from unnecessary government programs. Printers, filmmakers, researchers, analysts, teachers, road and highway workers, FARMERS, bankers, welfare scam artists, doctors, lawyers, and broadcast "journalists" come to mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacGregor View Post

No one likes unnecessary government programs ... except the private corporations who feed at that trough (military/industrial/Haliburtin complex) and a relatively small number of fraudulent people on welfare or social programs.

If you were intellectually honest though, you'd look at the federal budget and compare military spending versus entitlements and see that military is the largest part of government spending. Also regarding entitlements, which veterans would you drop from their entitlements? Maybe talk specifics if you want to be taken seriously. Mr. Rot'nApple, get over yourself, Obama articulates things just fine.

As for language training, my brother was a Marine during the invasion and he grew to really like Arabic as a language and culture. He would have spent plenty of time studying it if he would have had an iPod with tutorials. I think these iPods are also a great way to get to the hearts and minds of the young people there since they are the ones who will be stopping the bad guys when we leave. Wouldn't it be great for each soldier to have an iPod with music, language tools and texts of things like, oh maybe the Constitution, that they could then give to Iraqi's at the end of things!?

Kyranay: You are of course correct in the difficulty of teaching EVERY soldier competency in Arabic, but that isn't the point. Just teach 1 or 2% the language. If every marine needs to know how to use an M16, even the electricians and dishwashers, some should learn the language. That would be as useful in self-defense as a rifle. This simply shows how, if we are going to be "nation building," we need a different set of skills for our military than what we have. As SpamSandwich suggested, we are using a cold-war tool to fix a terror-war problem. The Army war college has already created plenty of ways of redesigning the military, but no pressure from the top to implement the changes.

Now if only the President was given an iPod with iPhotos of what WMD's really look like and maybe a copy of the articles of the Geneva Conventions and perhaps an audiobook on how the Constitution states wars need to be authorized, we might save a lot more money and lives in the future.
post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyranay View Post

...it takes at least 63 weeks to take the basic course at DLI.

63 weeks to learn what? We need some, but we don't need them all to read or write Arabic. We don't need them to be able to hold a discussion on Kantian philosophy in Arabic. All we need is enough to ask basic questions and get basic answers. I can't imagine such a course couldn't be redesigned to account for these limited needs and applied to a small but greater than is in place now subset if someone had some imagination or some desire to do so. Do you?

* And remember, I'm on your team with regard to being among those who think using these iPods is a good idea.
post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by wraithofwonder View Post

63 weeks to learn what? We need some, but we don't need them all to read or write Arabic. We don't need them to be able to hold a discussion on Kantian philosophy in Arabic. All we need is enough to ask basic questions and get basic answers. I can't imagine such a course couldn't be redesigned to account for these limited needs and applied to a small but greater than is in place now subset if someone had some imagination or some desire to do so. Do you?

* And remember, I'm on your team with regard to being among those who think using these iPods is a good idea.

Yes, we don't need them to learn lots of Arabic. I think the idea is that troops will be able to use thousands of words and phrases through the iPod device...as opposed to memorizing some basic phrases or in-depth learning of the language. The US has thousands of translators working for them (we offer them $150 000 bonuses as incentive!!!). This article fails to mention there are three languages in use in Iraq. Much like most Americans have heard Spanish in use and may know a small bit...those in Iraq who don't speak Arabic don't understand it enough to comprehend questions and provide answers. See this TUAW article:
http://www.tuaw.com/2008/08/30/ipods-in-uniform/
It starts: "When U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan need to communicate in Iraqi Arabic, Kurdish (spoken in north Iraq), or Dari and Pushto (Afghani languages), they can reach for an iPod."

Thus this iPod device can be used to help soldiers ask questions in 4 languages(3 in Iraq, 1 in Afghanistan). I don't think you can teach soldiers phrases in 3 languages to the point that they won't confuse the three. Furthermore, this (AI) article says that:
"Although few American infantrymen can understand Iraqi responses without the help of a translator, the music player is not only intuitive for the Westerners but also, surprisingly, for the Iraqis who are already familiar with Apple's design. The iPod is less threatening and breaks down more of the cultural barriers the software is meant to overcome."
That may imply that these can be used by Iraqis to translate what they want to say into English via the iPod. This article also says that "Their abilities to play photos and videos are already talked about as potentially useful for showing maps and other visual information to Iraqi residents."

So overall, I think this iPod device seems quite a breakthrough when it comes to aiding our soldiers.
post #30 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

Probably--or at least, an iPod Touch--but this program probably got its start pre-iPhone.

Re Apple and ties to the military, don't forget Apple makes chips for missiles!
http://www.appleinsider.com/articles...ales_fall.html

You have a problem with that? Apple supporting it's own country's military is a problem for you?
post #31 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDreamworx View Post

Has there ever been a necessary war?

Nope never. We should have let the Axis powers have their way in World War 2. We should have let the Germans and their allies have their way in World War 1. We should have let the South secede from the Union. Or better yet, we should never have gotten uppity with the British toward the end of the 18th century. None of those were necessary.
post #32 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by wraithofwonder View Post

63 weeks to learn what? We need some, but we don't need them all to read or write Arabic. We don't need them to be able to hold a discussion on Kantian philosophy in Arabic. All we need is enough to ask basic questions and get basic answers. I can't imagine such a course couldn't be redesigned to account for these limited needs and applied to a small but greater than is in place now subset if someone had some imagination or some desire to do so. Do you?

* And remember, I'm on your team with regard to being among those who think using these iPods is a good idea.

I think teaching them "Basic" Arabic (in the sense you mean) would be a waste of time and money. Arabic isn't just like learning Spanish or French. You are talking about a language with a completely different mindset than English. I learned Mandarin at DLI and it took us several weeks or months before we could even grasp the basics well enough to start learning how to speak. You have to first get used to the alphabet (which Mandarin doesn't have) and then Arabic is written backwards from English and there are the sounds that are different from the Germanic based English or the Romance languages. Also, some people just aren't cut out to study languages. I don't think I was. I learned it, but it was extremely difficult for me. Some people seem to pick it up better and quicker than others. It's just not a viable option to waste the money to teach a large portion of the military to speak Arabic. The iPods are a quick, easy way for just about everyone to be able to have a basic conversation with civilians. Plus, they would work for just about any language. What about when the next little scuffle comes along and you need to send the troops to Georgia (or China, in my case) or someplace else?? Are you going to turn around and teach people these different languages? I'm not saying that war is great, but it is inevitable. The purpose of DLI is to teach a few soldiers/sailors/marines to speak different languages.
post #33 of 51
What is going on in Iraq is not a War. War implies a drawn out battle between roughly equally matched opponents. It has been a long time since the US has battled such an opponent. For instance, the Chinese are as harsh on dissidents as Iraq ever was. Yet, we are not invading China. In fact, we are doing business with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDreamworx View Post

Has there ever been a necessary war?
post #34 of 51
Best solution would be to have a large staff of translators available by radio.
The soldier calls translation service, an expert then listens in on the conversation and aids the soldier, perhaps even talking directly on a speaker system.

Like:
- I have a kid here, seems to be speaking Xxxx. Ask him where he lives, then translate his answer.
post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by NTropy View Post

Nope never. We should have let the Axis powers have their way in World War 2. We should have let the Germans and their allies have their way in World War 1. We should have let the South secede from the Union. Or better yet, we should never have gotten uppity with the British toward the end of the 18th century. None of those were necessary.

Watch it NTropy, you are treading dangerous waters here. Using common sense around peace hippies is sure to start a rambling from some antiwar nut-job. You should, no wait, you will learn there is no evil in this world and every one would love us if only we just put down our guns and stop defending freedom.
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post #36 of 51
This is absolutely, 100% cool.

I bet the first phrase this device translates is" Don't panic".
post #37 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimDreamworx View Post

Has there ever been a necessary war?

Countless times throughout human history.

You will have a neccessary war in the following cases:
1. A violent group or regime that will find an excuse to attack you: religion, resources, access to a key area, racism, whatever.

2. A desperate need: water, food, energy, etc.

When you are attacked (situation #1, you must defend yourself = necessary war.

When you have to survive through situation #2 you might have to attack = necessary war.
Yeah, it's easier to just ASK for help or trade when in situation #2, but what if they don't want to help? what if they don't even wanna talk? you lay down and die?

Suddenly those F22 Raptors make a lot of sense eh?

The problem is that a lot of people do not think as you do JimDreamworx (or me for that matter).,In the Abyss of human stupidity, war is as natural as peace.

So war might be necessary though I do agree that it is ALWAYS rooted in some form of human folly.
post #38 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nano_tube View Post

Countless times throughout human history.
You will have a neccessary war in the following cases:
1. A violent group or regime that will find an excuse to attack you: religion, resources, access to a key area, racism, whatever.
2. A desperate need: water, food, energy, etc.

So US attacking the middle east because of resources (oil) makes it a "neccessary war" for both parties (as Afghanistan/Iraq can claim #1 and US can claim #2)?

IMHO. There are no "neccessary wars" (and there have never been one). They are all started for the wrong reasons (usually greed). To defend oneself is of course OK - but the initial attack wasn't "neccessary".
post #39 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kendoka View Post

IMHO. There are no "neccessary wars" (and there have never been one). They are all started for the wrong reasons (usually greed). To defend oneself is of course OK - but the initial attack wasn't "neccessary".

I understand your point, but it's not a war until someone decided to fight back. Before that it's just an occupation, acquisition, takeover, appropriation, etc. And the people initiating the violation obviously feel they are in the right and the ones defending themselves think they are (and usually both sides feel they were the first to be violated by the other), so there are plenty of people who think the conflict is necessary.
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post #40 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by zanshin View Post

You should talk to your brother more often, or better yet, be more like him and enlist. You've obviously never been in any hostile situation when people were shooting at you if you think speaking the language is as useful to your "self-defense" as your weapon. Also, there is no such MOS as "dishwasher," and U.S. Marines aren't sent to battle to defend themselves.

As for "no one" liking unnecessary government programs, we seem to have 535 or so "no ones" up on Capitol Hill earmarking and voting for them. Minus, of course, the dozen or so that have spent the last 3 or 4 years wasting taxpayer dollars as they were off campaigning to be President.

(Before anyone jumps out here yelling about how campaign costs are born by the candidates and their supporters, let's remember they are being paid handsomely to be in Washington D.C. doing their jobs, not taking a year or two off with pay to try and get a different one. None of them have refused paychecks from the US Govt while they ignore the very people who elected them to do something beneficial for the citizens of the states they represent.)

There are far more people than the "military/industrial complex" making money from unnecessary government programs. Printers, filmmakers, researchers, analysts, teachers, road and highway workers, FARMERS, bankers, welfare scam artists, doctors, lawyers, and broadcast "journalists" come to mind.

As much as I dislike debating politics and military issues on an Apple forum, your lame argument and simplton comments cannot go unanswered.

I talk to my brother every week and I understand the military. You are an idiot to pretend to know who I am or what I've done. I was stationed in the South Pacific and I did relief work on the Rwanda-Burundi border and I had to stare down 18-year olds with rifles while I was unarmed and didn't have an armored Humvee or green zone backing me up. And unless you are living a Rambo movie in your head an M16 would not have been as helpful in those situations as the ability to communicate.

I know there is no such MOS (military job description) as "dishwasher." It was a figure of speech and I probably shouldn't have used it since there was about an 80% chance that you would waste time picking at such a detail and ignore the bigger issue. I was wrong.

Your assertion that Marines "are not sent into battle to defend themselves" is a good one, but only historically relevant. Unfortunately there are plenty of Marines right now who are doing exactly that!! That is the problem with situations where soldiers have morphing missions from invasion, to occupation, to policing, to security, to civilian support and to humanitarian aid roles and back and forth. My earlier point about the Army War College is that even they know forces are not being used appropriately sometimes and the military needs to adapt.

As for your rant on "unnecessary government programs," here are some places where I think you are being too myopic:

1. It looks like your laundry list of greedy, bad frauds, includes everyone in the country except you!!! .... whatever it is you do. My point is that most people think their job is necessary. Most people, even in government, want to do a good job and do not want to waste money. To get earmarks out of legislation will require changing procedures for how legislation is adopted. This is just an issue with regard to government transparency and congressional accountability.

2. Why are candidates forced to spend 2 years campaigning for jobs that only last 2, 4 or 6 years? That IS crazy, but is it really a government problem? No it is the fault of media and constituencies in a free market that have created the system of continuous campaigns. To stop it would require election regulations, common in many other countries, that would limit time candidates could campaign. That means small government people need to embrace more government regulations and that is the conflict that keeps the system going.

3. You predictably ignore the size of the military budget and go into a list of everyone else that seems to be the very definition of unnecessary government to you. However I wonder if you see the irony in the fact that your list is largely not made of people who work for the government. I know from my own family of farmers that farm supports are absolutely ridiculous right now and are somewhat archaic, but they were necessary in order to keep the farm economy stable enough for a few decades. Food production is just as important as military spending and the globalized markets were creating problems. Farmers are different from other businesses and live on the margins and depend on weather, etc. We can't just have 10% of the farmers going out of business (like restaurants) and be able to maintain food security.

4. Your other examples from bankers to highway workers also shows my point. Much of the waste in government doesn't go to the government it goes to business. When a highway goes 3-times over budget, the state highway engineer doesn't get 3-times the salary. That money goes to the free market, private subcontractor who probably goes home in his gas guzzling monster pickup and complains about government spending!! Total denial. The same with bankers and Enron and on and on. The so called "welfare scammers" are also bad, but if you look at the actual dollars, you'll find that they are not as big as you think.

The point it that these are issues about economic greed as they are about government waste!

I'm sure you also have issues with teachers and "journalists" that you don't agree with, but I hope you take the time to realize that real change will come only when voters are better educated to making decisions and people have greater access to those decisions.

So ... IMHO, iPods with good translation software and in the hands of troops who have at least some language skills is a great idea and a good use of money! whew.

PS Razorpit: No one is advocating to stop "defending freedom." It just makes sense to be skeptical about the who and why of the "freedom" we are defending. And when leaders lie about the reasons for one war, it is human nature to be more skeptical the second time around.
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