May 5th is National Astronaut Day and National Space Day!

May 4, 2017

Over the years Americans have had many moments of shared pride over the accomplishments and dedication of astronauts who have risked their lives to study and explore outer space. What’s less known about these amazing space flights of John Glenn and so many other space adventurers is the technical and scientific wonders that have been developed in support of the American space program, but now live on as products we enjoy every day.

One place to learn about these “space wonders” is the publication Spinoff. Published by NASA’s Technology Transfer Program, the ongoing issues of Spinoff uncover specific products that have been born out of the works of scientists and new product developers in support of the space program. Later on, many of these products find new lives as everyday items that benefit all of us.

At bookstore.gpo.gov you can obtain copies of recent issues of Spinoff. Go to the front page search bar and simply type in Spinoff.

It’s important to recognize that NASA funding goes far beyond simply supporting space exploration.  As new technologies are developed, NASA often collaborates with American businesses. Every dollar spent on technology for space missions is a dollar spent here on Earth, benefiting the economy. And all of us.

Stop by bookstore.gpo.gov not only to get your copy of Spinoff but to look for other publications from NASA that celebrate the adventurers and incredible national dedication of men like John Glenn and women such as Sally Pride.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS IMPORTANT RESOURCE?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Blogger contributor Ed Kessler is a Promotions Specialist in GPO’s Publication and Information Sales program office.


Smartphones Make Traveling Easy and Fun!

March 15, 2017

Smartphones are becoming essential for people who travel. But how do you find the best travel app for you?

Whether you are a sophisticated or a new adapter of smartphones, the recently released publication Smartphone Applications to Influence Travel Choices published by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration offers up the information foundation to let you maximize the value of this new technology.

Are you a user of business-to-consumer apps, a mobility tracker, bike sharing believer, or are you interested in public transit apps or real time apps? Who can’t use a ridesharing or taxi-hail app, a smart park or courier network service?

Get the picture? If you are a “mover or shaker” then smartphone applications are a must, and keeping apprised of the latest and greatest new technological features and applications is key to your daily survival.

And for the newly initiated as well, the booklet, Smartphone Applications to Influence Travel Choices is the easiest way to take an information leap forward.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS RESOURCE?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Blogger contributor Ed Kessler is a Promotions Specialist in GPO’s Publication and Information Sales program office.

 


NASA Publications Hotter Than the Sun

September 7, 2016

It seems like there’s no end to the number of articles and books written about and by NASA. But then again, there’s no end to the research and technology that NASA puts forth. Of course, it’s not nearly enough to fill the cosmos that the agency so intrepidly explores. Yet, as always, NASA’s pioneering science and technology research endeavors to take humanity to the next achievable frontier.

If you’re ready to sponge up more of NASA’s scientific discoveries, or you’re just interested in all things space-related, check out these publications available through GPO. Countdown to liftoff…3…2…1…

 NASA’s Journey to Mars: Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration

033-000-01376-1In this century, NASA may have the answer to the David Bowie song “Life on Mars?” The agency’s goal is to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and then to Mars in the 2030s. This booklet serves as a mission framing document.

Four decades of robotic missions and spaceflight have developed and tested the technologies needed for exploration of deep space. Data gathered by surface scouts show that the Martian environment may be suitable—and sustainable—for a human presence. In response, NASA is leveraging core capabilities to “logically progress from current Earth Reliant operations…to Earth Independent pioneering.”

While much remains to be learned about extending human presence in space, “we are closer to sending humans to Mars than at any point in NASA’s history.” Just in case life is ever found on the Red Planet, or any planet for that matter, NASA has an Office of Planetary Protection. No kidding.

Spinoff, 2016

033-000-01375-2_spinoff-2016According to NASA’s 2016 budget, the Federal Government spends about 0.5% of its purse on the world’s biggest space agency. That means NASA receives $0.005 of every taxpayer dollar. It pours those cents into groundbreaking technologies, many of which have been successfully commercialized through the Technology Transfer Program.

Spinoff, 2016 profiles the novel inventions that have spun off into handy applications for transportation, health and medicine, information technology, and even consumer goods. Here are a few highlights:

  • An astronaut G-suit saves women from post-birth hemorrhaging.
  • A Mars methane detector can identify dangerous gas leaks.
  • A CO2 recovery system allows microbrewers to more efficiently carbonate beer.

As Administrator Charlie Bolden writes in his foreword to book, NASA’s work has resulted in “technology coming down to Earth…[these] spinoffs have made an impact on nearly every facet of American life.”

Reference Guide to the International Space Station

033-000-01373-6The International Space Station (ISS) is both the most complex scientific effort and the most expensive project ever undertaken. This reference guide details the unique research accommodations, support systems, and international partnerships that lend credibility to the ISS’ position as an extremely agile—and awe-inspiring—platform of discovery.

This orbiting laboratory of weightless, extreme conditions has a low-orbit path over 90 percent of the Earth’s population. Tricked-out features enable it to execute research that cannot be done anywhere else. Eighty-three countries that have been involved with its activities. And astronauts use it as a “proving ground” to solve difficult challenges associated with establishing viable human activity beyond Earth. The ISS is truly a symbol of the best of human knowledge and cooperation.

Fun fact: you can sign up to receive text messages from NASA whenever the International Space Station passes over your location!

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE NASA PUBLICATIONS?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov.

 Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Blogger contributor Chelsea Milko is a Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.


Happy 25th Birthday, World Wide Web!

March 12, 2014

World Wide Web 25TH Anniversary logo. Happy 25 birthday, WWW, March 12 1989 to 2014Twenty-five years ago on March 12, 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, wrote a paper proposing the system now known as the World Wide Web. (Left: 25 Years logo courtesy Marketing Magazine UK.) It was originally conceived and developed as an improved means for instantaneous information-sharing between scientists around the world.

From DOD’s ARPANet to an Internet

The Internet itself had actually started as a creation of the U.S. Government’s Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) together with U.S. universities. It was in response to the Cold War need for a backup communications method in case the traditional phone networks were knocked out. The resulting mainframe-to-mainframe computer network in 1969 was called ARPANet, the foundation for today’s Internet. (Read the History Channel’s history of the invention of the Internet here.) Soon, other organizations, mostly universities and military, created their own private networks. When the University College in London and the Royal Radar Establishment in Norway) connected to ARPANET in 1973, the term Internet was born.

In 1974, the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) was launched with the introduction of a commercial version of ARPANET, known as Telenet, thus expanding the availability of the Internet. After the introduction of a new protocol called TCP/IP by computer scientists Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn (called “The Fathers of the Internet”) in 1974, diverse computer networks could easily interconnect with each other, transforming the “Internet” into a truly global network by the end of the 1970s.

However, by 1990, frustrated CERN scientists were using the text-only Internet with its bulletin boards and limited mainframe messaging, but it was not user-friendly for either the end users or the publishers of content.

From a text-only Internet to a graphical World Wide Web

After Berners-Lee’s proposal received the go-ahead from his boss at CERN, he went on to write software in his spare time, creating the first World Wide Web server (“httpd”) and the first web client “WorldWideWeb.”

This “World Wide Web browser” was a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) hypertext browser/editor that would install on their client (end user) computers, providing them with the first graphical interface for accessing Internet content (think of clicking on hyperlinks, viewing  photos and other graphical images, seeing text in different fonts, colors and sizes).

The World Wide Web was launched publicly on August 6, 1991, forever after providing the world a way to “browse the World Wide Web.”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee First World Wide Web Server 1990

Image: This NeXT workstation (a NeXTcube) was used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1990-1 as the first Web server on the World Wide Web. Source: Wikipedia

In a guest blog post today on Google’s official blog, Sir Tim Berners-Lee explains the results of his World Wide Web idea:

In 1993, after much urging, CERN declared that WWW technology would be available to all, without paying royalties, forever.

This decision enabled tens of thousands to start working together to build the web. Now, about 40 percent of us are connected and creating online. The web has generated trillions of dollars of economic value, transformed education and healthcare and activated many new movements for democracy around the world. And we’re just getting started.

So, thank you, Sir Tim! The rest, as they say, is history.

Below is a timeline of Internet history from 1990 to 2007:

Internet timeline including World Wide Web and social media. Courtesy: Harbott.com

Internet timeline including World Wide Web and social media. Courtesy: Harbott.com

GPO’s History on the World Wide Web

GPO is joining in the celebration by commemorating our own moments in World Wide Web history:

1993:    The Government Printing Office Electronic Information Access Enhancement Act of 1993 was enacted (Public Law 103-40).

1994:    GPO Access launched (available by subscription; free to Federal depository libraries)

1995:    GPO Access became free to all users.

1995:    GPO began selling Government publications online with its “Sales Product Catalog” (now the site known as the U.S. Government Bookstore)

1996:    GPO’s Federal Depository Library Program Web site, “FDLP Administration,” launched (later named the FDLP Desktop and now FDLP.gov)

2000:    GPO’s kids’ site, Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government, launched.

Image: Home page of Ben's Guide to U.S. Government for Kids as of March 12, 2014.

Image: Home page of Ben’s Guide to U.S. Government for Kids as of March 12, 2014.

2006:    The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications, launched.

2009:    GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) launched.

2010:    GPO entered the world of social media, first with the launch of its YouTube Channel.

2013:      GPO relaunches its newly redesigned U.S. Government Bookstore ecommerce site at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/.

BEFORE (U.S. Government Online Bookstore 2000):

US_ Government_Online Bookstore_Wayback-Machine_20000708

Image: Snapshot of the home page of the U.S. Government Online Bookstore http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ as of July 8, 2000. Source: Internet Archive Wayback Machine http://archive.org/web/

AFTER (U.S. Government Online Bookstore today in 2014):

Image: Today's U.S. Government Online Bookstore home page as of March 12, 2014.

Image: Today’s U.S. Government Online Bookstore home page http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ as of March 12, 2014.

To see how your favorite websites looked in years past, visit the Internet Archive Wayback Machine at http://archive.org/web/ which archives snapshots of web pages since the World Wide Web launched.

Federal Publications for the Digital Age

The U.S. Government Online Bookstore carries a number of Federal publications that highlight the triumphs and the challenges of the digital age.

A History of Army Communications and Electronics at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, 1917-2007 (Hardcover) or Ebook  ISBN: 9780160813597 or 9780160869105One interesting read is, “A History of Army Communications and Electronics at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, 1917-2007 (Hardcover) and eBook.” This book details ninety years of communications-electronics achievements carried out by the scientists, engineers, logisticians and support staff at Fort Monmouth, NJ. It’s a fascinating read, as it details communications ranging from homing pigeons to frequency hopping tactical radios!

YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer by US Army War College & Strategic Studies InstituteAlso check out “YouTube War: Fighting in a World of Cameras in Every Cell Phone and Photoshop on Every Computer,” from the U.S. Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute. This publication discusses the digital environment in which we live that enables terrorists to film and instantly share their attacks within minutes of staging them. It also describes possible courses of action for the Army and the U.S. military as they seek to respond to an enemy in this type of environment.

Computers Take Flight: A History of NASA's Pioneering Digital Fly-by-wire Project ISBN: 9780160914423You might also be interested in, “Computers Take Flight: A History Of NASA’s Pioneering Digital Fly-by-wire Project.” This book details the flight research project which validated the principal concepts of all-electric flight control systems now used on nearly all modern high-performance aircraft and on military and civilian transports.

These, and a wide array of other interesting publications on related topics, can be found by browsing the U.S. Government Bookstore under the “Computers and Electronics” category. In addition, the World Wide Web has made obtaining eBooks possible, so our wide selection of free and/or inexpensive eBooks for consumers, industry, academia, military, law enforcement, legal community and more would be worth viewing as well.

How can I get these technology-related Federal publications?

  • Shop Online Anytime: You can buy this eBook or any other eBook, as well as print publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
  • Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. (Librarians: You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.)

About the authors: Guest blogger Kelly Seifert, Lead Planning Specialist for GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division, writes about the World Wide Web’s 25th birthday and the array of Government publications available on the topics of computers and electronics.

Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram. Bartram is Promotions and Ecommerce Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore and promoting Federal government content to the public. A computer scientist and digital expert, Bartram remembers those early pre-WWW days using mainframe-based Internet and email and then using a web browser to “surf” the World Wide Web for the first time.


“Are you Ready?” for Extreme Cold and Other Natural and Man-made Disasters

January 23, 2014

Image below: Graph depicts how variations in the polar vortex affect weather in the mid-latitudes. Courtesy: National Science Foundation

Polar-vortex-fall-to-winter-chartAs the United States shivers under the Arctic Express, Polar Vortex, Polar Cyclone, Polar Low, Circumpolar Whirl or whatever name you call it (I just call it FREEZING!!!!) with snow, ice, and some of the most extreme cold conditions in decades, Americans will be happy to know that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has help available in the form of its extremely useful new disaster preparedness guide, Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness.

FEMA Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness ISBN: 9780160920745Intended as both a reference source as well as a step-by-step manual, this easy-to-follow guide has been designed to help Americans “learn how to protect themselves and their families against all types of hazards”.

According to the FEMA authors:

The focus of the content is on how to develop, practice, and maintain emergency plans that reflect what must be done before, during, and after a disaster to protect people and their property. Also included is information on how to assemble a disaster supplies kit that contains the food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity for individuals and their families to survive following a disaster in the event they must rely on their own resources.

The guide advises on planning before a disaster, responding during a disaster, and recovering after a disaster and is organized into the following sections: Why Prepare, Part 1 Basic Preparedness, Part 2 Natural Hazards, Part 3 Technological Hazards, Part 4 Terrorism, and Part 5 Recovering from Disaster.

Each chapter has specific tips on preparation, what to do during the particular disaster, instructions for what to do afterwards, and where to go for more information, including links for free publications.

Disasters and emergencies cover the gamut in three areas:

a)      Natural Hazards, including: Floods, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, Thunderstorms and Lightning, Winter Storms and Extreme Cold,  Extreme Heat, Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Landslides and Debris Flow (Mudslide), Tsunamis, Fires and Wildfires;

b)      Technological Hazards, including:  Hazardous Materials Incidents, Household Chemical Emergencies, and Nuclear Power Plants

c)      Terrorism, including: General terrorist threats, Explosions, Biological Threats, Chemical Threats, Nuclear Blast, and Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD).

Are You Ready?… for Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

FEMA-Are-You-Ready_page-80-Winter-Storms-and-Extreme-ColdAs I was concerned about the extreme cold, I turned to Part 2, Natural Hazards, Section 2.5 Winter Storms and Extreme Cold.

In the preparation part, I found useful terminology such as the difference between sleet and freezing rain, protective measures and supplies to gather, tips on how to winterize my car (e.g., have you cleaned your car battery terminals and used gasoline additives to keep water out of your fuel lines?) and how to dress for the winter weather (did you know mittens are warmer than gloves?).

FEMA-Are-You-Ready_page-83-Winter-Dress-for-ColdDuring a winter storm, “Are you ready?” gives more advice, such as what to do if a blizzard traps you in the car and how to watch for signs of hypothermia.

[Signs of hypothermia]… include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first, and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.

Other Useful Information in “Are You Ready?”

In addition to information on specific types of emergencies, the guide includes a number of other very useful resources.

Assembling a Disaster Supplies Kit:  A whole chapter is devoted to assembling a good general disaster supplies kit for multiple locations: home, work and vehicle.

Practice Makes Perfect: Advice on how to practice and maintain your emergency plan is under Section 1.6.

General Evacuation Guidelines:  Tells what to do to prepare your home if you have to evacuate, such as utility shut-off and safety, reviewing and securing of insurance and vital records, and so on.

Special Needs: Information on how to do disaster planning to accommodate someone with disabilities is included.

Pets: Caring for pets in emergencies is not forgotten, either.

FEMA Hazard Maps: It highlights how to get free hazard maps from FEMA in your area by accessing FEMA’s Hazard Mapping Portal.

Homeland-Security-Threat-Assessments-Color-MatrixWarning Systems and Signals: The guide explains different national alert systems such as the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio (NWR), as well as the Homeland Security Advisory System with its Threat Conditions thermometer.

Quizzes: The guide even includes some quizzes such as the Terrorism Knowledge Check on page 172 that asks such questions as:

What would you do, if you were at work and…

a. there was an explosion in the building?

b. you received a package in the mail that you considered suspicious?

c. you received a telephone call that was a bomb threat?

Mental Health Issues: Tips are included on how to recognize if children vs. adults may need crisis counseling or stress management assistance as well as how to ease disaster-related stress (such as attending memorial services). For children, guidelines are included by age range of common reactions to traumatic events, along with tips on how adults can reassure children after a disaster.

For additional information about Federal mental and medical emergency resources, read our previous blog post: “Help is Just a Call, Click or Page Away: Federal Disaster Helplines & Emergency Medical Resources.”

Family Forms: The guide is customizable to you and your family with forms to fill out for your own emergency plans. Included is a form for you to use to fill out information as you collect it from your local authorities on possible hazards and emergencies in your community, the Risk Level and how to reduce your risk, along with a “Community and Other Plans” form to use to record answers from your local officials about your community’s disaster and emergency plans.  Also included is a form to draw and to record your family’s specific evacuation route and another to record your Family Communications Plan.

Checklists and Appendices: The guide also includes some handy appendices: Appendix A: Water Conservation Tips, Appendix B: Disaster Supplies Checklist, and the all-important Appendix C: Family Communications Plan.

Preparedness Websites: One is a list of Disaster Public Education Websites from both the Federal Government such as FEMA’s own Ready.gov site (www.ready.gov), as well as non-Governmental sites, like the Institute for Business and Home Safety, www.ibhs.org.

Disaster Recovery Assistance: Finally, advice and resources for getting disaster recovery assistance are covered in the Are You Ready? guide, too.

FEMA Are You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness ISBN: 9780160920745How can I get a copy ofAre You Ready?: An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness”?

Whether you live near an active volcano; in Tornado Alley or a Hurricane Zone; in wildfire, mudslide or flood-prone areas; or just want to be prepared for any emergency—natural or man-made—this guide will help you save the day!

  • MULTIPLE COPIES: FEMA recommends having a completed guide for each location for your family members: home, work or school, and your vehicle(s). Fill out the customizable sections in each copy with your relevant family, workplace and community information.
  • Shop Online: You can buy this publication from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by:
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Digital: Find a PDF version on the FEMA site.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for it in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


“Santa, We Got Your Six!” NORAD’s Santa Tracker Goes High-Tech

December 23, 2013

Tracking Santa call sign Big-Red-One on NORAD Santa Tracker RadarThis article is Part 2 of a two-part series on NORAD’s Santa Tracker by Government Book Talk and explores the fascinating technology NORAD uses today to keep the Abominable Snowman, the mean Mr. Grinch, and Jack Frost from spoiling Santa’s big flight on Christmas Eve.

“Click here to read the popular Part 1 article, “Tracking “Big Red One”: NORAD’s Secret Santa Mission” which tells the history of how a fortunate advertising mistake in 1955 and a colonel’s heartwarming response to kids led to NORAD tracking Santa Claus.

In the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)’s 58-year history of tracking Santa Claus (Santa’s call sign for NORAD is “Big Red One”), it has continued to innovate and expand its Santa-support mission with the addition of new technology. 2013 is no exception.

Background of NORAD’s Santa Tracker

In Part 1 of our @NORADSanta Tracker series, we learned that NORAD’s mission of defending North America was expanded to include tracking Santa Claus’ flight on Christmas Eve back in 1955.

Guarding What You Value Most: North American Aerospace Defense Command Celebrating 50 Years (available in Hardcover Print or as an eBook) is the terrific publication documenting NORAD’s illustrious 50+ years of  history and provides easy-to-follow timelines of key NORAD events along with copious color photographs, maps and snippets of history of this important organization.

The publication also proudly covers the history of its favorite mission— Santa tracking— stating:

“Today, using the same technology used to perform their day-to-day mission— satellites, high-powered radars and jet fighters— NORAD tracks Santa Claus as he makes his Yuletide journey around the world.”

To learn what NORAD & NORTHCOM (USNORTHERN Command) do when they aren’t tracking Santa, you can also visit their Facebook page.

NORAD’s Santa Tracking Innovations

NORAD has been as busy as Santa’s workshop in 2013, updating their systems to provide the ultimate Santa tracking capability. In a November 27 press release, NORAD is ready to track Santa’s flight, NORAD cites some of these innovations:

From intelligence to weather, satellites to ships, missiles to manned aircraft, NORAD has a wide variety of technology and processes that are deployed to protect North America and support special missions like helping “Big Red One.”

Santa Drops in for a Sneak Peek

Santa dropped into the NORAD Command Center in September 2013 to get a sneak peek at some of the innovations. Said Santa during his visit:

NORAD Tracks Santa defines my sleigh as a versatile, all-weather, multi-purpose, vertical short-take-off and landing vehicle capable of traveling vast distances without refueling. My reindeer and I call it the world’s most magical gift transporter. Ho ho ho!”

Santa-on-NORAD-cargo-planeImage: Santa Claus drops in for a sneak peek of the Santa Tracker preparations on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, at the NORAD and USNORTHCOM headquarters at Peterson Air Force, Colo. Photo Credit: Michael Kucharek

Santa Tracker Test Flight Reveals NORAD Technology

On November 15, 2013, NORAD held a test flight incorporating all the technological know-how and innovations. During the test flight, NORAD personnel from the United States and Canada ran through checks of the technology, systems, processes and intelligence in place that are normally used to defend against threats but during Christmas are used to help Santa Claus complete his mission.

A video of this test flight that includes an overview of this impressive technology can be viewed for the first time in a NORAD Tracks Santa Command Center video of the Santa 2013 Test Flight.

NORAD-Command-Center-Test-Flight-VideoClick here to view the NORAD Command Center video of the Santa 2013 Test Flight on YouTube.

The NORAD team takes their Santa Mission seriously. 😉

In the comms [communications] check during the Santa test flight, we learn that the “Intel” [Intelligence] team verified that Jack Frost and Abominable Snowman would not interrupt Santa’s important journey on Christmas Eve. The Cyber team ensured that the “anti-Grinch viral” was in place to ensure the nasty green guy doesn’t steal Christmas this year via cyber-attack. And other NORAD personnel confirmed their assessment of the “load-bearing capacity for all rooftops that Santa will be landing on.

One of the more interesting tidbits is learning of the upgrades made to ground-based radar systems that can now detect heat signatures from smaller objects in the air, “like the heat generated from Rudolph the Reindeer’s red nose.

Fighter Jet Controversy?

Strangely, the use of a fighter jet escort for Santa has generated some controversy this year, even though this is part of the NORAD Santa Tracker tradition that has been in place for years.

NORAD tells kids of the fighter jets:

“Did you know Santa flies faster than starlight? He flies even faster than our fighter jets and slows down for our jets to come up beside him. They tip their wings to say hello, he always waves back and then is off again in the twinkle of an eye!”

However, with some new concerns on the part of a children’s advocacy group which said that the animated video on the NORAD Tracks Santa website “injects militarism into Christmas by showing fighter jets escorting Santa’s sleigh,” NORAD issued this statement on December 3, 2013:

Hi Folks,
We know there have been some questions about our #NORAD fighter jets escorting #Santa this year; this isn’t new. Every year we use our military satellites, radars, fighter jets and Santa Cams to track #Santa during his Yuletide journey. These are the same assets we use to provide homeland defense for North America every day of the year. We talk about this every year.

Each year, we look for ways to update the #NORAD Tracks #Santa program to keep it fresh and interesting. We have always showcased our military assets for tracking Santa on our sites. In fact, each year, the Canadian #NORAD Region (CANR), announces the names of the escort fighter pilots responsible for accompanying #Santa across Canadian skies.

We know for many families that #NORAD Tracks #Santa has become part of your Holiday Traditions. We know that is a huge honor and responsibility. We are proud to track #Santa each year!

NORAD-Santa-Tracker-Canadian-fighter-jet-pilots-2012You can see the two Canadian NORAD fighter jet pilots who were designated to escort Santa through North American airspace in 2012 (see minute 2:27 on the Headquarters NORAD Holiday Message 2012.)

Said the Canadian fighter jet escort pilots to Santa Claus:“We’re going to be your escort for this fantastic voyage… We’ve got your six.”

(Note: The Urban Dictionary defines this oft-used military phrase as follows:

“I got your six” basically means “I’ve got your back” or “I have you covered.” Comes from the old pilot system in which directions correspond to hours on the clock, where 12 o’clock is forward and 6 o’clock is behind. Thus anyone behind you is “at your six.”)

Santa Tracker Technology for Citizens on the Ground

Private citizens around the world can get into the Santa Tracker action as well. These new consumer-oriented innovations from NORAD and its over 55 private partners help you become part of the worldwide Santa Claus mission:

  • New Website: The newly redesigned NORAD Tracks Santa website, www.noradsanta.org, went live on Sunday, December 1, 2013, featuring a holiday countdown, daily games and activities, videos, music and more.  Beyond a new look, features such as a 3D globe and new interactive games take advantage of today’s modern web.  The site is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.
  • BING Maps and Cesium 3-D: Starting at 12:01 a.m. Mountain Standard Time on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight through the Bing maps and Cesium technology to show a 2D or realistic 3D, interactive, real-time view of Santa’s journey.
  • Phone or Email: Then, at 4 a.m. MST (6 a.m. EST), trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to ask about Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD (1-877-446-6723) or by sending an email to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com.
  • OnStar: Americans and Canadians on the road won’t have to follow the North Star to see where Santa and his reindeer are on Christmas Eve.  Subscribers to the automobile emergency support service OnStar can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to find Santa’s location any time on Dec. 24. See how OnStar is helping NORAD track Santa on this video.
  • Santa Cams: NORAD’s newest “Santa Cams” will stream videos on the website as Santa makes his way over various locations in North America and all around the world.
  • Santa Tracker goes Mobile: Get the #NoradSanta apps from Windows, Android, iPhone & tablet by clicking here! Count down to Santa’s journey and more!

This video gives a history of how the Santa Tracker started in 1955 and some of the user technology.

Santa-Inspecting-Santa Cams at NORAD-Santa Tracker headquartersImage: Santa reviews the images from the new Santa Cams at NORAD headquarters. Source: NORAD.

Play Reindeer Games instead of War Games

NORAD Santa Tracker has a number of games and interactive features to help citizens become involved in the Santa tracking mission and enjoy the holiday season:

Santa-Village-Games-on-NORAD-Santa-Tracker-websiteClick to visit Santa’s Village on NORAD Santa Tracker and hear music and play games.


How can I get a copy of Guarding What You Value Most: North American Aerospace Defense Command Celebrating 50 Years, the wonderful hardcover book or eBook of 50 years of NORAD history chock full of color photos and anecdotes, including the Santa Tracker story?

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.  She has been a faithful NORAD Tracks Santa fan for years!


Government eBooks Made Easy– and Sometimes Free

December 19, 2013

Riding on Washington, DC’s Metrorail subway system these days, one sees more electronic devices in hand than print books (the same is true when I was in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and across the country). This reflects the revolution going on in the publishing industry nationwide with the astonishing growth of ebooks.

Reading-books-ebooks-ipad-on-subwayImage: Digital and print readers on the New York City subway. Courtesy: “corners311” on Reddit.

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Bowker Market Research found that for the first half of 2013, e-book sales in the United States accounted for 14% of consumer dollars spent and 30% of all the units sold of any format of books.

The Rumors of [Print’s] Death are Greatly Exaggerated

However, print is far from dead. In fact, hardcover book sales in the U.S. were up over 10% through the first eight months of 2013, according to the latest numbers from the Association of American Publishers. And many users still prefer print for reference and textbooks.

Battle-of-ebooks-vs-print-booksImage: Infographic of the benefits of both ebooks and print books. Courtesy: Coupon Audit and Self Publishing Review.

When media research firm Voxburner questioned sixteen to 24-year-olds about their preferences for physical products versus digital content, printed books jump out as the media most desired in material form, ahead of movies (48%), newspapers and magazines (47%), CDs (32%), and video games (31%).

The two big reasons for preferring print are value for money and an emotional connection to physical books. On questions of ebook pricing, 28% think that ebooks should be half their current price, while just 8% say that ebook pricing is right. The top-rated reasons for preferring physical to digital products were: “I like to hold the product” (51%), “I am not restricted to a particular device” (20%), and “I can easily share it” (10%).

U.S. Government Bookstore Makes eBooks Easy

US-Government-bookstore-DRM-Free-eBooks at http://bookstore.gpo.gov/ebooksImage: U.S. Government Online Bookstore’s eBooks section.

Fortunately, the U.S. Federal Government addresses these issues with our new downloadable eBooks, as we launched our new eBooks section.

  • Not Restricted: All eBooks on the U.S. Government Bookstore website are non-proprietary. They are not restricted to a particular device or manufacturer, assuming the correct format is chosen. (See below for an explanation of ePub, Mobi, and PDF formats).
  • Easily shared: The eBooks on the U.S. Government Bookstore are DRM-free (Digital Rights Management) eBooks, meaning once you own a title, you can share it.
  • Economical Pricing:  Many eBooks on our website are free, and others are very reasonably priced, with the unlimited downloads and sharing.
  • Multiple Formats: For those who still “want to hold a product,” many of our titles are offered in print or eBook format, with users often buying both.
  • Third Party Channels: To expand the availability, GPO has set up partnerships to make these eBooks available on many of the top online retail and library channels such as BarnesandNoble.com,  Apple iBookstore, Google Play, Overdrive (for libraries).

To EPUB or MOBI, that is the question

Readers need to select the correct eBook format for their devices. PDFs work best on computers or if you want to print, since they are really like photocopies of a page. Text is not reflowable, meaning it is fixed on the page and does not automatically readjust if you want to change the font size or turn your device sideways.

For most users, EPUB format is the best, since it is the industry standard of most publishers and libraries. EPUB format eBooks can be used on most eReader devices like the Barnes & Noble Nook or Apple iPad, as well as on computers with free eReader software like Adobe Digital Editions.

If you want to read the eBook on an Amazon Kindle, you need to choose MOBI format eBooks.

On all of these eBooks on the U.S. Government Bookstore, you will need to side-load them onto your device, by downloading them and copying them to the particular device.

For more information about this, read our page on eBook Readers and Digital File Formats on the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website.

New and Newsworthy eBooks from the U.S. Government

Here are a few of the new and newsworthy DRM-free eBooks currently on the U.S. Government Bookstore to build your own online library of free and inexpensive ebooks:

FREE EBOOKS

Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America (ePub eBook)Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists Are Ripping Off America (ePub eBook) Terrific book about Ponzi schemes and other investment fraud, the con artists who got caught, and how consumers can avoid these scams.

FAA_NextGen_Implementation_Plan_2013_ 9780160920714FAA NextGen Implementation Plan (ePub eBook) Provides a roadmap of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) transition to the next generation of smarter, satellite-based and digital technologies and new procedures to make air travel more convenient, predictable and environmentally friendly.

NEWSWORTHY EBOOKS

A Basic Guide to Exporting: The Official Government Resource for Small and MediuA Basic Guide to Exporting: The Official Government Resource for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses 10th Revised edition (ePub eBook)

For more than 70 years, A Basic Guide to Exporting has been the resource that businesses have turned to for answers to their questions
about how to establish and grow overseas markets for their products and services. Whether your firm is new to exporting or in need of a refresher on the latest ideas and techniques, this comprehensive guide, now
completely revised and updated, provides the nuts-and-bolts information you will need to meet the challenges of the world economy.

The U.S. is the world’s largest exporter of products and services, but a comparatively small percentage of businesses actually do it. The business owners that export find it lucrative, educational and endlessly fascinating as their work brings them into close contact with people and cultures worldwide. This book profiles 25 Americans who battled competitors, fear of the unknown, and personal adversity to build successful small businesses in the global marketplace.

The Children's Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook)The Children’s Bureau Legacy: Ensuring the Right to Childhood (ePub eBook) Comprehensive history of the Children’s Bureau from 1912-2012 in eBook format that shares the Bureau’s legacy of leadership and commitment to improving the safety, permanency and well-being of children, youth and families.

9/11 Commission Report (ePub eBook)9/11 Commission Report (ePub eBook) Contains the final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9-11 Commission), an independent, bipartisan commission created by congressional legislation and the signature of President George W. Bush in late 2002. This edition has been designated as the only official U.S. Government edition of the 9-11 Commission’s Final Report. It provides a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness for and the immediate response to the attacks. It also includes recommendations designed to guard against future attacks.

Wings in Orbit is an authoritative documentation of the many accomplishments of the NASA Space Shuttle Program. Starting with a foreword written by astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen, this compelling book provides accurate, authentic and easily understood accounts from NASA’s best subject matter experts and external resources. The book captures the passion of those who devoted their energies to the Program’s success for more than three decades. It focuses on their science and engineering accomplishments, the rich history of the program and the shuttle as an icon in U.S. history.

How can I obtain these eBooks?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov by clicking on the links above in this blog post or  clicking here to shop our eBooks collection.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for one of these publications in a nearby Federal depository library.

Federal Agencies: Interested in seeing your eBooks here?

If you are with a U.S. Federal Government agency and wish to see your print or digital publications made available on the U.S. Government Bookstore or need dissemination of your publications, contact us.

Click here to read about all Government Printing Office services for Federal agencies.

About the Authors: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the publicStephanie Jaeger is Sales & Marketing Coordinator for GPO’s Sales & Marketing Division and is responsible for marketing GPO’s publishing services to the Federal sector.


%d bloggers like this: