My subscription to Life expired, but I still have a subscription to Mad.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

sign that we are on the verge of a new dark age

Park Service Can't Give Official Age Of Grand Canyon For Fear Of Offending Creationists...

Due to pressure from Bush Administration officials, the National Park Service is not permitted to give an official age for the Grand Canyon. Additionally, a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood is for sale at the National Park's bookstore.

The sale of Grand Canyon: A Different View was scheduled for review over three years ago, but no such review has been schedule or even requested. The creationist book was the only item approved for sale in 2003 (22 other items were rejected).

Friday, December 29, 2006

Surfin': It's Time!

The end of the year installment of Surfin' is about online time and date tools that can add to your virtual toolbox. You can read it here, then come back here to comment on it.

MacLoggerDX 4.2.8 released

This just in from Dog Park Software that version 4.2.8 of  MacLoggerDX has been released and can be downloaded from

New in version 4.2.8:

* Fix for DirecWay proxy QRZ Online QSL jpegs
* Better parsing of QRZ Online QSL JPEG's.
* Open Port retry limit.
* Added Band Decoder support for FT-2000 etc.
* Added Ten-Tec RX350 Driver.
* Added 56,000 baud for Ten-Tec Orion II

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Morse Code and the New York Times

Laura Rudin, KB2VDV, wrote to me that yesterday's New York Times had an interesting article about the demise of Morse Code as an Amateur Radio license requirement. The article is a good read.

free space book

Astronomy was my first scientific interest. As a kid, I had a blast with a inexpensive no-name refractor telescope that my folks bought me for Christmas many years ago.

After I saw everything I could see with that telescope, I bugged my folks for an upgrade and eventually they bought me a less inexpensive no-name refractor, which I still own and use today.

Today, slashdot had a story titled "A Free Guide to Naked-Eye Astronomy."

Tammy Plotner, president of Warren Rupp Observatory, writes "Are you looking for all the best of what's up in the night sky for the year 2007? Then be my guest and download my free — '365 Days of SkyWatching'! (Brought to you courtesy of The Universe Today.) Each day is specifically geared to give you the best of what can be seen with the unaided eye, binoculars, and small telescopes and even has challenge objects for seasoned observers. It's beautifully illustrated and contains many special features, such as anotated lunar maps. Please feel free to pass it along to anyone in the astronomy community and enjoy!"

I downloaded the book and after perusing it, I recommend it highly.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Surfin' Hammin', But No Truckin'

Your editor sort of gets into the holiday spirit with this week's installment of Surfin' entitled "Hammin', But No Truckin'." You can read it here and comment on it back here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Surfin': His Permanent Record

Read Surfin': His Permanent Record to find out about the blog that your Surfin' editor reads every day, then leave your comments, if any, here.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Surfin': 'Tis the Season to Wax Nostalgic

Remember your first Novice contact, QSL card, DX, etc.? This week's installment of Surfin' visits a web site where hams are encouraged to get nostalgic about the good ol' Novice days.

After you read Surfin', you can leave your comments here.

Friday, December 1, 2006

Surfin' Still Flyin'

Surfin' is Still Flyin' this week with another installment devoted to Amateur Radio in the air. Read all about over here and post your comments back here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

got e-mail?

If anyone e-mailed me last week and did not receive a response (I respond to almost all my e-mails), please resend your e-mail because yours was likely lost when my hard disk crashed on Saturday.

had a bad day

When I sat down at my G4 17-inch Powerbook last Saturday to read and answer e-mails and do other assorted tasks, I noticed that everything was running in slow motion. I had experienced this problem two or three times in the past two months and eventually things get so slow that I would have to reboot the computer to return to normal.

As expected, things got so slow that I had to reboot, but this time the reboot did not solve the problem. Instead, my Mac would not load the operating system and was hung up in limbo. Uh oh!

I booted up off the OS install CD-ROM and after running some tests and the disk utility software, it was apparent that something was wrong with the hard disk. I do an automatic weekly backup every Sunday morning (using Retrospect), so I did not fear losing much except a week's worth of work, but I did fear having to reinstall everything. It is not a hard job, but it is time-consuming.

I figured that some file on the hard disk was corrupt and the hard disk was still redeemable, so I tried to reinitialize the hard disk and reinstall the OS. After reinitialization, the hard disk icon on the computer desktop acted flaky. Sometimes it appeared on the desktop, sometimes it did not. That was not a good sign, but I proceeded to reinstall the OS anyway.

The installation program started normally, so I let it do its thing while I went away to do other things (normally the install should take about 30 minutes). When I returned a half hour later, the installation program was only 6% complete and indicated that it would take 28 hours to complete the installation. That was not a good sign.

I quit the install, ran some additional tests, and concluded that there was no saving the hard disk.

What to do now? I had two choices: take the computer to the Apple Store for repair or fix it myself. I have fixed a lot of computer problems in the past including replacing hard drives, but I have never worked on a G4 Powerbook and the task looked a little foreboding, so I was leaning toward going to the Apple Store on Monday.

Then I found a web site that described in detail how to replace a hard drive in a G4 17-inch Powerbook. The web site is and it has online guides for fixing a variety of problems for various Mac and iPod models. The hard drive swap looked a little difficult, but I've worked on worse problems, so Monday morning I ordered a new 160-Gbyte drive and had it shipped via next day delivery. (The only good news in all this is that this was a size upgrade. The dead drive was a 100 Gbyte drive, so I gained 60 Gbytes for my trouble.)

The new drive arrived Tuesday morning and that evening, I tackled the installation.

This was not my father's Oldsmobile! Twenty-five very tiny Phillips and Torx screws had to be removed in order to take the computer apart and remove the dead drive. Those 25 screws came in about a half dozen sizes, so as I removed each screw, I dropped it into a compartment of a divided parts box and labeled each compartment with a sticky yellow note to indicate where the screw had come from.

The screws were bad enough, but worse were the four interconnections that I had to disconnect in order to complete the task. Again, this was not my father's Oldsmobile! The interconnections used fragile metallic ribbon cable and the connectors were smaller than the fingernail of my pinky. Disconnecting and reconnecting these connections was not for the faint of heart!

It took me about one hour from start to finish to replace the drive. And after a couple of false starts, the computer came alive booting off the OS install CD. I initialized the new drive and installed the OS in a half hour.

Last night, I recovered my backup and began installing software. I expect it will take another night or two to finish the job. And so it goes.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Surfin': Go Fly a Balloon

This week's installment of Surfin': Go Fly a Balloon is now on line. Read it, then leave your comments here.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Surfin': Reflecting on Airplanes

This week's installment of Surfin' talks about bouncing RF off aircraft for DX.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Surfin': About Airplanes

Read about my fascination with airplanes in this week's installment of Surfin'.

Oh yeah... there is an Amateur Radio connection in there, too!

Friday, November 3, 2006

Surfin': PCB Times One

If you only need one prototype of your printed circuit board design, read this week's installment of Surfin' and leave your comments (if any) here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Surfin' Knot Another Web Site!

Do not let knots be the downfall of your antenna farm.

Read this week's installment of Surfin': Knot Another Web Site! to avoid knotty problems, then leave your comments here.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

"I've seen these marks in these parts."

"I've seen these marks in these parts," said Dr. Doskil after examining the neck of a vampire victim in the film Mark of the Vampire.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Surfin': Got Live If You Want It

Got Live If You Want It is the title of this week's installment of Surfin'. (It is also the 300th installment of the column.)

After you read it, leave your comments here.

NBC Cuts 700 - Apple's Profit's Surge.Coincidence or Paradigm Shift?

The answer: paradigm shift. Read all about it here.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

lots of changes from the FCC

ARLB019 FCC releases long-awaited ''Omnibus'' Amateur Radio Report and Order

ARRL Bulletin 19 ARLB019
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT October 12, 2006
To all radio amateurs

ARLB019 FCC releases long-awaited ''Omnibus'' Amateur Radio Report and Order

Ending a protracted waiting period, the FCC's Report and Order in
the so-called ''Omnibus'' Amateur Radio proceeding, WT Docket 04-140,
was adopted October 4 and released October 10, 2006. In it, the FCC
adopted nearly all of the proposed changes in the Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking released back in 2004. The FCC has:

+ expanded the phone subbands in the 75 and 40 meter bands;

+ permitted auxiliary stations to transmit on portions of the 2
meter band;

+ permitted the use of spread spectrum on 222-225 MHz;

+ permitted amateurs to retransmit communications from the
International Space Station;

+ permitted amateur licensees to designate a specific Amateur Radio
club to receive their call sign in memoriam;

+ prohibited an applicant from filing more than one application for
a specific vanity call sign;

+ eliminated certain restrictions on equipment manufacturers;

+ permitted Amateur Radio stations in Alaska and surrounding waters
more flexibility in providing emergency communications;

+ clarified that ''amateur stations may, at all times and on all
frequencies authorized to the control operator, make transmissions
necessary to meet essential communication needs and to facilitate
relief actions'';

+ deleted the frequency bands and segments specified for RACES


+ deleted the requirement for public announcement of test locations
and times.

In addition, the FCC took several other miscellaneous actions.

In ''refarming'' the frequencies currently authorized to Novice and
Technician Plus licensees, the Commission increased the voice
segments for General, Advanced and Amateur Extra licensees.

On 75 meters, Generals will be able to use voice from 3800-4000 kHz,
an increase of 50 kHz. Advanced class licensees will be able to use
voice from 3700-4000, an increase of 75 kHz, and Amateur Extras will
be able to use voice from 3600 to 4000 kHz, a generous increase of
150 kHz.

On 40 meters, Advanced and Extra Class licensees will be able to use
voice from 7125-7300 kHz, an increase of 25 kHz. General class
licensees will be able to use voice on 7175-7300 kHz, an increase of
50 kHz.

On 15 meters, General class operators will have phone privileges on
21275-21450 kHz, an increase of 25 kHz.

ARRL President Joel Harrison, W5ZN, expressed the ARRL's gratitude
to the FCC Commissioners in a letter dated October 11: ''On behalf of
the ARRL and the Commission's licensees in the Amateur Radio Service
I want to express appreciation for your release yesterday of the
Report and Order in WT Docket 04-140 (FCC 06-149) amending Part 97
of the Commission's Rules. The Commission's action in clearing this
pending proceeding will assist the Amateur Radio Service in meeting
its objectives, particularly with regard to providing emergency and
public service communications.''

The changes will go into effect 30 days after the R&O is published
in the Federal Register.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

get off my iPod, Howard Stern!

Seven thousand one hundred and fifty –five (7155) is the number of songs I have stored on my iPod. I can't believe it myself!

Primarily, I use my iPod when I am mobile. For a couple of years now, I have used an iTrip with my iPod to transmit the iPod's audio to my car's FM radio. It was convenient and worked satisfactorily for a long time. The iTrip's transmitter is puny weak, so I had to position the iPod just so, otherwise I did not get a good signal into the FM receiver. But I knew all the hot spots in all our vehicles, so it was no big deal.

About a year ago, I would occasionally get interference from other vehicles I passed or passed me during my travels. I am not sure, but I assume it was related to mobile satellite radio installations because the interference was often in the form of a Howard Stern broadcast.

During the intervening year, the interference is more frequent. It occurred three or four times during my daily 35-minute commute and if the interfering vehicle was going in the same direction as I was traveling, the interference could last for minutes. I also started experiencing the same interference from non-mobile objects. For example, there is a house I pass by everyday on my way to and from work that causes the same interference.

I finally abandoned the iTrip and replaced it with a $10 gadget called an iPod cassette adapter. It looks like a cassette tape (it uses the same plastic case as a cassette tape), but has a long cable that plugs into my iPod's audio output connector. I insert the gadget in my car's cassette deck and I'm in business again.

I no longer have to deal with interference or the finicky placement of the iPod to find the hot spot. It is a low-tech solution that works.

Monday, October 9, 2006

american prison camps are on the way

Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, is constructing a huge facility at an undisclosed location to hold tens of thousands of Bush's "unlawful enemy combatants." Americans are certain to be among them.

Read the whole story here.

Friday, October 6, 2006

Surfin': Additional Tools and Memories

This week's Surfin' (my weekly online column) is titled "Additional Tools and Memories." After you read it, you can leave your comments here.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

top three albums

My interest in ham radio grew from my interest in listening to AM radio broadcasts in the 1960s, especially talk radio and rock radio. My favorite talk radio station was WNBC with Long John Nebel and his fellow talkers; my favorite rock stations were WABC with "Cousin" Bruce Morrow, WINS with Pete "Mad Daddy" Myers, WPOP with Lee "Baby" Simms, and WWCO with Conrad Taylor. I also dabbled in rock radio DX and liked to listen to Bud Ballou on WKBW when conditions pipelined the Buffalo station into the Waterbury area.

I bought lots of 45s and LPs. Remember when LPs came in two flavors: monophonic/monaural ("mono") and stereophonic ("stereo"). (45s came only in one flavor, mono, until the first stereo 45s started showing up in the late 1960s.)

I bought mono LPs exclusively because I owned a basic circa mid-1960s mono record player. When 45s started showing up in stereo-only, I was pushed over the brink and wanted my own stereo, so I began hacking my record player.

I discovered that Lafayette Radio sold stereo tone arms for a couple of bucks, so I bought one and used it to replace my record player's mono tone arm.

Next, I built a set of stereo headphones using a pair of 2-inch speakers, glued inside a pair of small plastic funnels, attached to a plastic hair band, and wired directly to the stereo tone arm.

Stereo nirvana at last, but not very loud stereo nirvana!

I had a small electric guitar amplifier/speaker and since I had abandoned my dreams of joining The Ventures, I decided to put the amplifier/speaker to use as part of my stereo system. I rewired the tone arm so that one channel was fed to the amplifier and speaker built into my record player, while the other channel was fed to the guitar amplifier. I tweaked the volume controls of the record player and guitar amp just so and I achieved louder stereo nirvana.

I joined a record club and began amassing a collection of stereo LPs and even replaced some of my old mono LPs with stereo versions. My hacked record player sufficed as my stereo system until about the time I went to Woodstock ("3 days of peace & music").

Circa Woodstock, my stereo hacking days were over and I went the Heathkit route, building a stereo receiver kit. I bought a turntable and pair of bookshelf speakers from the local stereo store and so it goes.

In my humble opinion, the best rock 'n' roll came out during the years I was hacking my record player, but three albums (remember why they were called "albums"?) from that era stand-out as my favorite albums of all-time:

Rubber Soul by the Beatles

Aftermath by the Rolling Stones

Today! by the Beach Boys

What great albums! Almost every song on these three are great. I listen to them often and never grow tired doing so.

One more thing: I prefer the longer British versions of Rubber Soul and Aftermath, but the shorter American versions aren't too shabby either. To tell you the truth, I owned the American versions first and only bought the British versions years later when I found out that Capitol and London had shortchanged us.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Surfin': Collecting Memories

This week's installment of Surfin' is titled Collecting Memories. If you have any comments about it, you can make them here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Surfin': Tooling Around The Internet

This week's installment of my weekly column, Surfin', is now online. This week, its title is Tooling Around The Internet. Read it if you will and leave your comments here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Surfin': More Brewing From Home

Check out this week’s installment of my weekly online column, Surfin’, then leave your comments here. (This week’s column is titled More Brewing From Home.)

the FCC at work for you (NOT)

Read here how the FCC deep-sixed a report that ran counter to their agenda. (I assure you that there agenda does not have much concern for you and me.)

Saturday, September 9, 2006

Surfin': nothing this week

Due to a death in the family, there will be no Surfin' this week.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006


September 29, 1919 - September 5, 2006

Saturday, September 2, 2006

Surfin': Homebrewing, TAPR and the DCC

Read this week’s installment of my weekly online column, Surfin’, then leave your comments here. (This week’s column is titled Homebrewing, TAPR and the DCC.)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Surfin' A Key Web Site

This week’s installment of my weekly column, Surfin', is now online. Read it then leave your comments (if any) here. (This week’s column is titled A Key Web Site.)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

garden update

It has been a month since the last "garden update" and besides all the growth of vegetation, the big news is that I picked four ripe tomatoes, two yellow squash, and a large handful of beans (Kentucky Wonders) during the past week.

The bell peppers have grown very strangely this year. The plants are huge with lots of vegetation and height (I've never seen pepper plants as tall), but there has been very little actual pepper production. I noticed a few tiny peppers on the plants last night, but they have a long way to go and the weather is already showing signs of autumn.

The four active boxes take over a gallon of water every day

Friday, August 18, 2006

Surfin': Practically at the Huntsville Hamfest

Read this week’s installment of my weekly online column, Surfin', then leave your comments here. (This week’s column is titled Practically at the Huntsville Hamfest.)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Surfin': On Vacation

Surfin' will be back real soon now.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Surfin': More Radio Finds in Popular Culture

Check out this week’s installment of my weekly online column, Surfin’, then leave your comments here. (This week’s column is titled More Radio Finds in Popular Culture.)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Surfin': Covering Amateur Radio

Check out this week's installment of my weekly online column, Surfin', then leave your comments here. (This week's column is titled Covering Amateur Radio.)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

me first and the gimme gimmes

This week, I have been downloading and listening to songs by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. I like all of what I have heard so far. I especially like their take on Wild World and Mrs. Robinson. Yes, those are the old Cat Steven's and Simon & Garfunkel tunes. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes redo old tunes in punk-rock fashion.

I discovered this group like I have discovered some other groups and songs: as the background music played while the credits roll at the end of movies. In this case, the movies was Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and the song was Linda Rondstadt's Different Drum.

The only problem discovering groups and songs this way is trying to read the names of the groups and songs as they scroll by at the end of the movie because often, the song credits scroll by too quickly and/or the type size used in teh credits is small and hard to read.

Monday, July 24, 2006

MacLoggerDX 4.2.6 released

Dog Park Software announced that version 4.2.6 of MacLoggerDX has been released and can be downloaded here.

What's New in version 4.2.6:

* Added support for Google Earth
* Added read power setting to Icom IC-7000 Driver.
* Added volume and squelch to Icom IC-7000 Driver.
* Added 'Printer Margins' checkbox to QSL Panel.
* Added "agent=" to QRZ Online session.
* Added Cabrillo import for ARRL Sweepstakes CW.
* Added Montenegro DXCC.
* Added Swains Island DXCC.
* Fix for Icom IC-735 driver.

MacLoggerDX logs into your favorite Telnet or TNC DXCluster and as DX Spots are received, tunes your radio to the spot, looks up the call and displays the DX station on the real time grey line Map with distance and bearing from your station.

If you decide to work the station, MacLoggerDX is ready to instantly add the QSO and your Radio's VFO information to your log and can swing your beam around to work the station Direct or Long Path. MacLoggerDX supports ADIF Import/Export which is fully compatible with and the ARRL LoTW.

MacLoggerDX looks up calls on the Internet, the new QRZ or HamCall Online premium services, in QRZ CD Roms, on MapQuest, it's internal zipcode database, Dxpedition database, the ARRL country and DX lists, your Log Book and your User Call Book. MacLoggerDX's internal databases are regularly updated instantly over the Internet.

With a single key stroke you can see where this QSO is operating from - right down to the street level using MapQuest, Google Maps or Google Earth.

Not sure of the call you just heard ? K5ZD Super Check Partial Database Files are there to help you out as you enter a partial call.

In the background MacLoggerDX can tune your rig to a pre-arranged schedule or scan list - interrupting the program if something of interest pops up on the DXCluster.

MacLoggerDX automatically tracks DXCC, IOTA, WAS, VUCC and CQ WAZ (Worked All Zones) Awards and will even use or Eudora to Email you if that rare DX location pops up on the DX Clusters. It has a Bands Display panel which tracks activity by HF Ham Band and lets you quickly tune to the action using a separate VFO slider for each band - as well as VFO Stacking registers for quick recall of interesting frequencies.

MacLoggerDX can monitor, decode, lookup and plot APRS packets from APRSServe on the Internet or a connected TNC. You can use the TNC panel to communicate with any serial TNC to monitor and decode APRS traffic, DXCluster Spots or to work any of the digital modes supported by the TNC. See stations pop up on the map in real time as they digipeat APRS packets over the International Space Station.

MacLoggerDX features popup selection of multiple logs, searching and sorting based on any log field, automatic one-click generation of eQSL Cards, fast and easy printing of logs, envelopes, QSL Cards and bulk address labels, unlimited user-customizeable memories, Drag and Drop Scan List with adjustable delay, UTC scheduled events that automatically switch between summer, winter, weekend and weekday schedules, an integrated CW keyer (OS X) and drivers for over 70 popular Amateur Radio Transceivers and SWL Receivers as well as multi-radio quick-select preferences for switching quickly and easily between multiple rigs.

MacLoggerDX can also sync your rig with the NCDXF/IARU Propagation Beacon Network for empirical propagation status displayed in real-time on the world map.

MacLoggerDX is fully integrated with MacDopplerPRO X for logging of satellite QSO's and with Apple's OS X Address Book for quick adds of lookup data.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Surfin': Finding Ham Radio in Popular Culture

After you read this week’s installment of Surfin’ entitled Finding Ham Radio in Popular Culture, you can leave comments here.

it's always something - still yet another update

Last night, it took about one minute to get the wifi up and running with the DSL.

The End

Thursday, July 20, 2006

it's always something - yet another update

AT&T phoned yesterday to say that a service representative was coming to the house this morning to check the DSL problem.

I monkeyed with the DSL setup again last night, but did not make much progress and decided to wait and see what happened today before I spent more time on the problem.

The service rep showed up early and found a wiring problem in the box on the side of the house where the outside wiring connects to the inside wiring. He said that with the humid weather we have been having, the wiring problem probably added just enough resistance to foul up the DSL.

The DSL is now working. It should not take long to set up the wifi after work tonight and be back on the air!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

it's always something - another update

I checked all the phone jacks at home and found three or four that had oxidation. So, I cleaned them with alcohol on a Q-tip, then spent hours trying to get the DSL up and running.

The lights on the DSL modem were green indicating that all was well, but I still was unable to access DSL from my computer. I reset the DSL modem, but that did not make any difference. Next, I used the CD that was bundled with the modem to install the DSL.

I ran the program five or six times and it would quit at the same step in the installation procedure each time (at the point that it was ready to ask me for my account information). This was well after the steps in which the program had successfully set up the modem and accessed the DSL.

It was very frustrating!

I had it! It was late and I needed a break, so I watched the rest of the Red Sox game, then went to bed.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

mushroom field

About the time of year that I have to clean the blue crud from the phone jacks in the house, the mushroom field in the front yard fills up with full a variety mushrooms.

Until three or four years ago, that part of the yard was just "lawn." Then, about three years ago, mushrooms started growing there.

The mushrooms seem to show up overnight, last a week or so, then disappear as quickly as they appeared. I avoid cutting that part of the lawn until they are gone.

This year, there seems to be fewer mushrooms than in past years, but there still is a wide variety  in interesting colors and shapes.

it's always something - update

AT&T's service representative says that the problem is with the telephone wiring inside our house. So, tonight I use Q-tips dipped in alcohol to clean every phone jack in the house.

Almost every summer, we have telephone service problems and the solution is to clean the phone jacks. Cleaning the jacks means that I have to remove a blue-colored crud that builds up on the pins inside the jack. The crud is the result of oxidation between the pins of the phone plug and jack, so I am told.

garden update

Time for another garden update!

It is almost eight weeks since I planted seeds and seedlings in the Earthboxes and so far, we have eaten some home grown romaine lettuce and broccolli.

The broccolli production was poor. The plants grew and looked healthy, but the heads were slow in appearing. When they finally showed up, the weather turned hot and their growth slowed down and were on the verge of flowering. I assume the unusual wet June weather was the culprit and was also the reason why peppers were slow showing up on the pepper plants (I noticed the first signs of peppers only a day or two ago.)

I cut down the broccolli plants after I took this photo and planted broccolli seeds for a fall harvest.

Meanwhile, the tomatoes, beans, and squash are doing well. I think the June weather had a negative effect on their growth, too, but at least the tomatoes started showing up on the tomato plants weeks ago.

it's always something

When I tried to get on line last night, I discovered that I had no access to the Internet. Everything seemed normal: my computer heard my wifi loud and clear and all the lights on the DSL modem were green, but when I tried to send/receive e-mail or access a web page, I got nothing.

I called AT&T and Anita at customer service in Little Rock tested the line. She said the tests indicated that there was something wrong with the line and that she would send a service representative out to check the line today.

Dial-up still worked, so I still had Internet access, but just a lot slower than usual. Makes me wonder if this problem is related to last week's DSL modem problem.

Meanwhile, I got my APRS digipeater back on the air. Turns out that I had everything set correctly, but when I used the lock option to lock all the settings and front panel controls, the transmitter became disabled! So, I just left the radio unlocked and WA1LOU was back on the air.

Something is definitely wrong with the digipeater radio. I think it's brains are scrambled or fried. So, I sat down with the radio's manual and found out how to reset the radio. By then, it was too late to fool around with radio settings and since the digipeater was back on the air, I decided to leave well enough alone and address the problem tonight.

Monday, July 17, 2006

digipeater down

I have been distracted the last few days recovering from my recent adventures in colonoscopy, and I just discovered that my APRS digipeater, WA1LOU, is down. In fact, it has been off the air since Saturday morning.

On Wednesday, I assume that an electrical surge on the phone line took out the DSL modem and perhaps, the wifi base station at home. Thunderstorms were in the forecast, but Laurie does not recall any storms passing through. She might have been away grocery shopping when a storm passed through.

I replaced the modem and wifi on Thursday and everything was back to normal. For some reason, the voice telephone equipment was not affected.

I am not sure whether the wifi base station is bad or not. I had a spare and it was easier to diagnose the system problem with a known working component (the spare wifi) then try to diagnose the problem with multiple potential bad components. I will check out the questionable wifi base station later.

I also found that my Peet Ultimeter 2100 weather station was out of commission, too. Its front panel was blank. Pushing its power button did not bring it back to life. I assumed that it also had been affected by whatever damaged the DSL modem.

For the heck of it, I replaced the 9-volt battery in the 2100 that provides backup power in case of a power outage. Surprisingly, the 2100 came back to life and has been working correctly after I ran it through its set-up procedures. Go figure!

While I was working in the shack Saturday morning, I heard a clicking sound that was not normal. After a brief investigation, I found the source to be the power meter connected to the WA1LOU digipeater transceiver. Each time the transceiver transmitted, the power meter pinged the high end of the scale and caused the click.

Originally, I had set the transmitter for about 25 watts out and had set the power meter accordingly, but now the transmitter was transmitting full power (about 50 watts out) and pinging the incorrectly set power meter.

I assume that whatever damaged the DSL modem must have affected the transceiver, too, resetting the transmitter output to its default value (50 watts out). None of the other options in the transceiver seemed affected, but I did have a difficult time resetting the transmitter output option. I have only had this radio (a Yaesu TM-621A) for a month and had set up its options once, so I don't remember if I had the same difficulty then.

While dealing with the radio problem, I must have messed up some setting or did not connect a cable correctly because indicates that my digi is among the missing. My guess is that I did not seat the module plug in the radio's connector properly (that connection mates the radio to the TNC). I now recall that it is a very tight connection and I had to be sure that the plug was inserted all the way into the socket, not just seated on the lip of the socket, and thus, not making an electrical connection. Hopefully, that is all that is wrong and that I will be able to correct the problem later today.

adventures in colonoscopy

I had my first colonoscopy four years ago and the doctor discovered and removed a couple of small polyps during the procedure. Ever since, I have often thought about my second colonoscopy worrying what the doctor might find this time in my older body. (My father and grandmother had colon cancer.)

Last month, my mother had an edoscopy from the same doctor who had performed my first colonoscopy and I accompanied her to get the results. So, while I was there, I made an appointment for my second colonoscopy, which was scheduled for Friday, the 14th.

The procedure is a piece of cake, but the preparation the day before is awful. I won't go into details, but I assure you, it is the most painful experience I have ever had without being sick or hurt. (Here is the poop on the prep, if you are interested).

My test was at 8:30 AM and they wheeled me into the testing area right on schedule, I was out cold a minute or two later. The last thing I remember was telling the anesthesiologist about EME communications (in response to his question, "How far can you talk with ham radio?") Next thing I remember was waking up in the recovery room looking at the clock, which read 9:05 AM.

I had no recollection of anything while I was under. I did not recall any dreams, nor did I recall that I had any dreams that I could not remember. As far as I can tell, I did not exist consciously or subconsciously. There was just nothing going on. I guess that is how it feels to be dead.

By the way, the results of the test were good; everything was normal and no polyps were found.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Surfin': LED Communications over a 104-Mile Path

After you read this week's installment of Surfin' entitled LED Communications over a 104-Mile Path, you can leave comments here.

satellite tracking software for Mac

Dog Park Software is has announced that version 2.0.3 MacDoppler for Cocoa has been released and a free demo can be downloaded here.
What's New in this release ?

  • Added Icom IC-7000 Driver.

  • Improved Icom IC-706 Driver.

  • Fixed Beacon mode problem.

MacDoppler features:

  • Runs under OS X 10.4 (Tiger) as a Universal Binary on Intel or PPC hardware.

  • Full 2D and 3D OpenGL projection model of earth.

  • Track List sorted in real-time order of next pass.

  • Full predictive dead spot crossing so that a pass is never interrupted by the beam heading passing a dead spot.Speech advisory of next satellite AOS and Maximum Elevation.

  • Horizon Window shows elevation of upcoming passes on a time line.

  • Tuning Dial Tracking allows you to tune the downlink from your radio's front panel while MacDopplerPRO X automatically adjusts the uplink.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

July 11 roadtrip

Yesterday, my daughter, Hayley, and I took a roadtrip from downtown Wolcott, CT, to Johnson State College ("JSC") in Johnson, VT. As usual, I had the WA1LOU-8 APRS mobile station up and running in Land Barge II for the 504-mile roundtrip up (and back down) I-84, I-91, I-89, and VT state routes 100 and 15.

Like our May 30 roadtrip to Sugar Hill, NH, APRS coverage was solid until we approached the Massachusetts-Vermont border, where coverage dropped out until we approached Brattleboro, VT. APRS coverage picked up again, but dropped out north of Claremont, NH, just like it did on May 30.

Unlike May 30, we turned left onto I-89 instead of continuing up I-91, but there was still no APRS coverage until we were about 5 miles south of Montpelier. APRS coverage was very good during the rest of our journey up I-89 and VT state routes 100 and 15. (There was excellent APRS coverage at the Ben & Jerry's factory; a cone full of Sublime Key Line Pie ice cream was excellent, too.)

There was no APRS coverage at our destination, Johnson State College, but for what it's worth, my daughter's Verizon cell phone was useless at JSC, too!

Comparing APRS maps of our May 30 and July 11 roadtrips, it looks like switching my digipeater path from WIDE1-1,WIDE2-1 to WIDE1-1,WIDE2-2 might have improved coverage slightly, but not much.

By the way, just to keep me honest, the July 11 map also shows this morning's commute to the salt mine in Wallingford, CT.

Friday, July 7, 2006

Surfin': Back to Earth

After you read this week's installment of Surfin' entitled Back to Earth, leave your comments here.

104 miles via modulated light

Read all about this amazing DX feat at the Modulated Light DX web site.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

EFF Defends Liberties In High-Tech World

The Electronic Frontier Foundation was born 16 years ago this Monday, taking on the Secret Service as its first case.

read more | digg story

Friday, June 30, 2006

Surfin': A Hundred Pounds Worth of DX

After you read this week's installement of Surfin' entitled A Hundred Pounds Worth of DX, you can leave your comments here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

iPodding in the rain

It is pouring rain here this morning. The rain is falling so hard that after I parked the land barge, I readied my umbrella to walk the 100 feet from my vehicle to the entrance of the salt mine.

Just as I am about to turn off my iPod that is playing through the car radio, guess what song randomly starts up next? Now, mind you, my iPod has 6,762 songs stored in it and is programmed to randomly play songs in no particular order. Anyway, the song my iPod started playing was Singing in the Rain by Gene Kelly.

As Mel Allen used to say, "How about that!"

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

States I've Visited

Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Texas were just plane changes at airports in Chicago, Omaha, St. Louis, and Dallas-Fort Worth, but I guess they count as "visits."

create your own personalized map of the USA

Prada Previewed

Maybe I need to get out more.

Since we got a satellite dish, I seldom go to the movies (maybe once per year). To take a break from last weekend's deluge, daughter Hayley wanted to go the movies and asked us to join her. I agreed to take her up on the offer if she agreed to drive (I was exhausted from a hot and humid morning of installing window air conditioners for my mother and sister). She agreed and drove to the nearby Loews movie complex in Plainville, which coincidentally sits right next to a Lowe's home improvement store.

We needed a few laughs, so we decided to see The Break-Up with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Anniston. We bought our tickets and were directed to theatre number 8.

Soon after seating ourselves in the middle of the top row of the stadium seating in number 8, the advertisements and previews began to roll. After 10 minutes or so, something strange occurred that made us believe that number 8 was the wrong theatre.

After a preview for Clerks II, they began showing what seemed to be the opening scene of the feature movie. The problem was that the feature movie was The Devil Wears Prada, not The Break-Up. After about two minutes, Hayley and I both came to the realization that we were in the wrong theatre.

I asked what did she want to do: watch Prada or go find the theatre where Break-Up was actually playing? I just as soon stay and watch Prada. It looked like a funny movie and I hate to walk in on a movie that had already started, which might be the case if we had to leave and find Break-Up.

Just as we were deciding what to do, the scene ended and revealed itself to be another preview, not the feature film. Fooled us!

That was different! Instead of showing a bunch of short clips from the movie, the Prada preview showed one, long continuous scene plunked from the beginning of the movie. (It might be the opening scene from the movie for all I know because I have not seen the movie yet.) Like I said, I need to get out more. I never saw a preview like that one before! (You can view it for yourself here.)

By the way, we both enjoyed The Break-Up.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Surfin': What on Google Earth!

Read this week’s installment of Surfin': What on Google Earth!, then leave your comments here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

just when you thought it was safe to archive your data...

I found this bit of bad news on digg today:

IBM: CD-ROMs Last Two Years, Maybe Five

Mr Gerecke, IBM expert on data storage. told PC World that two years is about the average life expectancy of a burned disc, and if you keep it in a dark, cool place it might last for five.

Here is the rest of the story.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

garden update

The veggies have been in the Earthboxes for about 3-1/2 weeks now. We have already picked and eaten romaine lettuce. Meanwhile, the tomoatoes, broccoli, and peppers are doing great, but we lost some seedlings early on due to the poor placement of the boxes under our gutterless eaves. (The seedlings drowned.)

Meanwhile, the roses have gone nuts. The last couple of years, they did poorly with only a handful of flowers blossoming each summer. I had just about given up on them and was planning to pull them up and plant something else. But, lo and behold, this spring, the roses have more flowers then ever before. I did nothing different this year, so I attribute their improvement to all the rain we had this spring.

St. Louis monolith revisited

Steve Katz, N8WL, e-mailed me about the monolith that replaced the Gateway Arch when I viewed St. Louis using Google Earth. Seems that if you turn off the "3D Buildings" option in Google Earth, the monolith goes away and the arch returns.

Actually, it is hard to see the arch, but it's there... honest!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

new radio at the WA1LOU APRS digi

I am testing a new radio on the air at the WA1LOU APRS digipeater. It is a Yaesu FT-1802M and it replaces a Kenwood TM-621A.

After many years of service, the TM-621A is on its last leg. Its transmitter output is low; I believe that the final amplifier is blown. Also, the front panel no longer lights, so I cannot see any of the radio's settings including the operating frequency! The radio is almost useless with an invisible front panel, but I managed to keep the radio running on 144.39 MHz for over a year in that condition.

I got a good deal on the Yaesu and I hope it serves me as well as the Kenwood.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

new version of Google Earth and the St. Louis monolith

There is a new version of Google Earth and it features 3D textured buildings... just what I've been waiting for.

I started Google Earth, upgraded to the new version, and began exploring. The Manhattan and Boston skylines looked great. What should I check out next?

I remembered how impressed Hayley was when she drove by the Gateway Arch in St. Louis on Sunday afternoon, so I headed west. I was in for a surprise. Instead of the arch, I found a monolith with the shadow of an arch. I guess the software could not interpret a curve and thought it was a rectangle. Despite this, the new version of Google Earth is still great!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hayley's excellent exhausting roadtrip

On Friday, my daughter, Hayley, decided to drive home from school. No big deal except for the fact that Hayley's school is in Arizona, her home is in Connecticut, her vehicle has over 130,000 of hard miles on its odometer, and her sense of direction is challenged.

After trying unsuccessfully to convince her to reconsider, I Google mapped her roadtrip and spent the next 2.5 days guiding her across the country via her cell phone.

Here are the "highlights" of her 2759-mile roadtrip (from my perspective).

Hayley left Tucson Friday evening. I "accompanied" her through Arizona and southern New Mexico and guided her through the tricky switch from I-10 to I-25 in Las Cruces, NM.

Hayley discovered that she did not have her driver's license. She assumes she threw it away with the ticket and boarding pass from her last air flight.

After she was safely on her way north up I-25, I went to bed at approximately 2:30 AM EDST (all the times mentioned in this blog entry are EDST).

Hayley phoned home early Saturday morning to inform us that she had slept 3 hours in the Albuquerque airport parking garage and that she was back on the road.

She phoned again to report that her car was acting funny; the battery light was lit and the car was running sluggishly. It sounded like an alternator problem to me. (I'm no car mechanic, but the original Land Barge suffered the exact same fate on a roadtrip a few years ago, so I guessed the problem was the same.)

As luck would have it, she was in the middle of nowhere in northeastern New Mexico. The closest populous place was over the state line in Trinidad, Colorado, so I hoped she could make it there.

Hayley managed to get her car to Trinidad, found a garage that fixed the problem (the alternator), and was back on the road in about an hour. (Thank you, Les's Services in Trinidad!)

Saturday afternoon, I guided Hayley from I-25 in the south end of Colorado Springs to State Route 24 and, 66 miles later, on to I-70.

Hayley says she loved the scenery in Colorado.

As the Kansas state line approached, Hayley was tiring fast (at about 6 PM) and she checked into a Comfort Inn in Downtown Burlington, Colorado, for about ten hours of sleep.

She phoned home early Sunday morning to ask me how to add air to her tires. She had never done this before and I had no idea how the air pump at the gas station worked, so it took awhile, but we did manage to check the pressure and add air.

Back on the road, she crossed the Kansas state line and while she was talking to me, she mentioned that she was being pulled over by the state police! I started worrying. She did not have her driver's license. Her car was packed with so many personal belongings that visibility was limited. I started concocting the worst-case scenarios. As it turned out, she was "only" speeding (80 MPH in a 75-MPH zone) and received a $140 ticket. (When she pays the fine, she has to send back a photocopy of her driver's license.)

Hayley found the scenery in Kansas, "boring, but pretty" (not pretty boring).

Since the next 686 miles of her trip was straightforward (I-70 straight through Kansas and Missouri), I took a break from navigation and did some yard work.

Hayley made excellent progress and passed the I-270 bypass around St. Louis before I caught up with her late Sunday afternoon, so I guided her through the city and over the Mississippi River. At least she got a great view of the Gateway Arch, which she would have missed if she took the I-270 bypass.

It was more I-70 straight through Illinois, Indiana, and half of Ohio, so I took another break.

Hayley reported that in Illinois, she discovered the "grossest" restroom of her trip.

I was exhausted and was ready for bed at 10 PM, so I phoned Hayley to give her explicit directions on how to get through Ohio's Columbus, Akron, and Youngstown, to I-80. In my opinion, the I-76 leg between I-71 and I-80 in Ohio is the most poorly marked roadway I have had the displeasure of driving, especially westbound. Driving to the Dayton Hamvention in the past, I estimate that 2 out of 3 trips, I manage to take the wrong exit or miss an exit in the Akron area due to the poorly marked highway, so I was a little worried about Hayley traversing that area.

Fatherly instincts at work, I awoke at 1:30 AM and found Hayley approaching this "dangerous" leg of the trip. I talked to her on the phone until she was safely on I-80 heading toward the Pennsylvania state line two hours later.

Hayley called early Monday morning to say that she was very tired and was looking for a place to rest. She finally found a rest area in Snow Shoe, PA, and slept in her car.

By the time I arrived at work at 7:30 AM, she called to say that she was back on the road. The rest of the trip was relatively easy (I-80 to I-81 to I-84 to home), well marked, and the only "gotcha" being left-hand exits. I briefed her on the directions and did not hear from her again until she was on I-84 with Port Jervis, NY, in sight.

Since using the cell phone in hand is illegal in Connecticut (and maybe New York), she did not call during the rest of her trip except for a brief call telling me that she was almost in Waterbury.

She is home now and we are both exhausted!

    Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Ham Radio for Dummies

    Visited the Wolcott library today and saw Ham Radio for Dummies on the shelf. I knew about the book, but never had it in my bare hands, so I picked it off the shelf and perused it.

    I looked over the APRS section (pages 200-202) and, lo and behold, the book used WA1LOU-8 as its example of an APRS station with a map and all!

    Friday, June 9, 2006

    Wednesday, June 7, 2006

    my $12.99 webcam

    While perusing the electronics section of the local Ocean State Job Lot, I noticed webcams for sale at $12.99 each.

    The webcam had a USB cable, so I figured that although the bundled software was Windows oriented, I might be able to get this webcam to work with my Mac via its USB port. If not, I could return it for a refund.

    I took my purchase home and trimmed away its plastic packaging (very neatly in case I had to return it). A CD-ROM and small installation booklet was buried inside the packaging. Neither made any mention of a Mac.

    For the heck of it, I plugged the webcam cable into one of my Mac's USB ports and tried running the usual suspect applications, but as I expected, nothing recognized the webcam.

    Next, I went online, Googled, and came up with six Mac webcam applications. I downloaded them all, installed them on my Mac, and all but one did not recognize the webcam.

    macam did recognize the webcam (it displayed the message "connected to webcam"), but I could not get video from the webcam to display in the macam window. I played with all the settings in the software, but got nowhere fast.

    To make sure that the webcam actually worked, I took everything to work and installed it on my Windows XP computer at the salt mine. It worked fine. I don't have any experience using webcams, so I can't really compare, but I thought that the picture was pretty good, too.

    I took the webcam home and tried it again on my Mac, but still no luck. I gave up and carefully repackaged everything in the plastic container with plans to return it to Job Lot for a refund real soon now.

    Before real soon now, I returned to the macam web site and noticed that a newer version of the software was available. I downloaded it and installed it on my Mac.

    Once again, I carefully removed the webcam from its package and plugged it into a free USB port. I ran the software and it recognized the webcam just like it had previously, however, this time it did display video from the webcam. (applause)

    Tuesday, June 6, 2006

    bear in mind

    The lead front page story in today's local newspaper was that yesterday morning, a black bear was wandering around a neighborhood about 1.5 miles from my home in Wolcott. The locals were relieved when it was reported that "Wolcott's animal control officer had chased it over the town line and into Bristol."

    Good work! I bet that bear will never show his face in Wolcott again.

    Last fall, all signs pointed to a bear visit at our bird feeder one morning and last summer, I spotted bear droppings less than a mile from my house along a hiking trail. I used to worry that my wife might encounter a bear one day while she is walking the dogs, but now that the animal control officer is on the case, my worries are over.

    Monday, June 5, 2006

    roadtrip redux

    In my blog entry for May 31, I wrote about my roadtrip to New Hampshire with APRS running in Land Barge II, "The TH-D7(G) indicated that its APRS packets were being digipeated throughout the roundtrip, but when I arrived home and checked the APRS track on the Internet, it showed a gap between Greenfield, MA, and Brattleboro, VT, and a complete lack of Internet coverage north of Claremont, NH."

    I revisited the data and discovered that one APRS packet north of Claremont, NH, did make it back to the Internet afterall. That successful packet originated from our destination in Sugar Hill, NH, which is no big surprise since that location offered a great view of the whole Presidential Range (see the photo that I shot across the street from Polly's Pancake Parlor).

    Friday, June 2, 2006

    Numbers Stations Move From Shortwave To VoIP*

    *That's the headline of a story that appeared on Slashdot.

    Back when shortwave listening was my only radio hobby, I read all about the mysterious number stations in the radio hobby press and I even managed to find a few while tuning the low bands with my Hallicrafters S100 receiver. What fun I had in those good old days!

    Surfin': Field Day --- Three Weeks Away

    Read this week’s installment of Surfin': Field Day --- Three Weeks Away, then leave your comments here.

    where's LOU now?

    Now that I have APRS up and running in Land Barge II, I added Where's LOU now? links on this web page for quick access to the findu APRS database.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2006

    using WIDE1-1,WIDE2-1

    Yesterday, we took a roadtrip in Land Barge II to Sugar Hill, NH. Our route was I-84 to Hartford, I-91 to Wells River, VT, Route 302 to Lisbon, NH, and Route 117 to Sugar Hill and our destination Polly's Pancake Parlor.

    The TH-D7(G) indicated that its APRS packets were being digipeated throughout the roundtrip, but when I arrived home and checked the APRS track on the Internet, it showed a gap between Greenfield, MA, and Brattleboro, VT, and a complete lack of Internet coverage north of Claremont, NH (see map).

    The path in the D7 was WIDE1-1,WIDE2-1. I will reset the path to WIDE1-1,WIDE2-2 and see if that improves matters.

    Monday, May 29, 2006

    wa1lou-8 on the road again

    I finished installing my mobile APRS station, WA1LOU-8, in Land Barge II today. See you on the road maps again!

    Sunday, May 28, 2006

    a British invader dies

    from Freddie and the Dreamers star dies

    Monday, May 22, 2006; Posted: 8:17 a.m. EDT (12:17 GMT)

    LONDON, England -- British pop star Freddie Garrity, former lead singer with 1960s band Freddie and the Dreamers, has died at the age of 69.


    Surfing and the British Invasion sparked my interest in rock 'n' roll. So, I note the passing of one of the early invaders from Britain, Freddie Garrity.

    Friday, May 26, 2006

    Surfin': Virtually in Dayton

    Read this week’s installment of Surfin': Virtually in Dayton, then leave your comments here.

    Surfin' index

    I spent a lot of time cleaning up the Surfin' Index... fixing HTML code, fixing errors, adding entries that slipped through the cracks, etc. If you notice anything wrong, please let me know so I can fix the problem.

    Thursday, May 25, 2006

    100 fastest growing tech companies... none here

    Today, has a story about the 100 fastest growing tech companies. Since my day job is technical writing for a tech company here in Connecticut, I checked out the list.

    No surprise that the company I work for is not on the list, but I was very surprised that not one of the 100 was located in Connecticut! That is a sad state of affairs for the Nutmeg State.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006


    It was colder last night (39° F) than the night before, but not as windy, so the veggies survived another cold spring night. The forecast is for warmer weather for the rest of this week, so that is good news for my peppers and tomatoes.

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    veggies in

    This weekend, I planted vegetables in my five Earthboxes: romaine lettuce, bell peppers, string beans, broccoli, and Early Girl tomatoes.

    The temperature was unseasonably low last night (41° F) with a stiff wind blowing most of the night. I feared that the peppers and tomatoes might suffer, but they looked fine this morning.

    playing on my iPod this week

    I've been listening to my most recent online music purchases, a diverse mix of oldies and recent releases: 20 All Time Greatest Hits by James Brown, Living With War by Neil Young, and Not Ready To Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks.

    virtually in Dayton

    I did not go to the Dayton Hamvention this year for a couple of reasons.

    Steve Ford, WB8IMY, from ARRL headquarters did go and he had a Dayton Hamvention blog going throughout the weekend. Between his blog, participating in the TAPR-Dayton board meeting by phone, and WA5KUB's live video from the Hamvention, it was like being at the Hamvention without driving 735 miles for 11 hours.

    On Friday, Steve asked people reading his blog what they would like him to photograph at the Hamvention. I e-mailed Steve and asked him to take a photo of the folks at the TAPR booth, which is where I spend most of my time during past Hamventions. Steve responded with this photo that appeared in his blog Saturday. (That's John Koster, W9DDD, and Sheilah Bible, N7HPR's XYL, in the photo.)

    Friday, May 19, 2006

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    new-N APRS paradigm works!

    Bob Bruninga, WB4APR, posted this on the APRSSIG today:

    Taking a fresh look at the local network last night I noticed that
    the New-N Paradigm has made a tremendous difference.

    80% WIDE2-2 or less!
    11% are using W3...
    9% are still using RELAY and WIDE. (was 80% in 2005)

    This is the Washington/Baltimore area which is the highest
    density APRS on earth. And with over 250 stations and
    over 50 digipeters showing up in the area, the channel
    still has some dead times of many seconds, sometimes as
    many as 10 seconds between packets. (at ground level)
    making it much easier to be heard and thus, better

    The real evidence is in the packet counts per hour per station:
    Only a half dozen or less stations are hitting routine packet
    counts of over 20/hr. Whereas before, we had probably
    2 dozen stations with packet counts of 50 to 100/hr. All
    caused by all the DUPES of the old RELAY and WIDE system.

    The New-N Paradigm WORKS!
    Spread the word...

    Tell them to GOOGLE for "fix14439"

    de Wb4APR, Bob

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    half a foot of rain

    Yesterday, May 12, 2006, 6.21 inches of rain were recorded by the WA1LOU weather station. Unbelievable!

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Surfin': It's the Shacktopus, Baby!

    Read this week’s installment of Surfin': It's the Shacktopus, Baby!, then leave your comments here.

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Friday, May 5, 2006

    Friday, April 28, 2006

    Surfin': Ninety-Nine Hobbies In One

    Read this week's installment of Surfin': Ninety-Nine Hobbies In One, then leave your comments here.

    Thursday, April 27, 2006

    plagiarize this!

    I read in today's paper that Pultizer Prize-winning author, Doris Kearns Goodwin, will be the keynote speaker at some local conference. Here we have a plagiarist who has been caught red-handed being treated with kid gloves... almost being honored, so to speak, and probably collecting a nice honorarium for her trouble.

    As a writer, nothing bothers me more than plagiarism. Writing is hard work and I strive to write without plagiarizing. Then I see successful writers like Goodwin not only getting away with plagiarizing, but being treated with respect as if nothing ever happened.

    It reminds me of the story of a local car wash that I occasionally patronized. Turns out that the owner of the car wash was pushing drugs to schoolchildren from his place of business. He got off on a technicality, but I swore that I would never patronize his business again and I never have. Yet, I see cars lined up at his business everyday and it drives me crazy... why would anybody do business with someone who is trying to push drugs on their children? (Recently, this bum got caught again. I hope that the law did a better job this time and is able to put this guy away for a long time.)

    Another plagiarist, Mike Barnacle, lost his job with the Boston Globe because of his crime, but he managed to find work elsewhere. He has a regular stint on the Don Imus radio program where he is treated like a king by Imus' gang of yahoos, who usually treat more honorable people with less respect.

    Then there is the case of the bum who wrote the Da Vinci book. An English judge found that the bum did not steal the ideas for his book from another writer, despite all the evidence to the contrary. I guess money talks and that bum walks.

    Is there no justice? I must be naive because I just don't get it.

    Nonetheless, I will continue do my part: I will not plagiarize and I will not support those who do (or those who support the plagiarists).

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Abbey Road webcam

    This is a cool little webcam at Abbey Road in London. During the day time there are so many people... try to catch them imitating the famous Beatles pose.

    read more | digg story

    Monday, April 24, 2006

    April Showers...

    The rain gauge ticked off 3.4 inches yesterday on top of 0.12 inches on Saturday, so it made for a very wet weekend.

    The culvert on the west side of our property was bone dry for weeks, but by mid-afternoon Sunday, it could not handle the runoff fast enough and there was a small pond developing along the south end of the west property line.

    So, I spent a lot of time this weekend cleaning the garage and have seven garbage bags full of stuff removed from the garage.

    Friday, April 21, 2006

    Surfin': Bits and Pieces*

    Read this week’s installment of Surfin': Bits and Pieces*, then leave your comments here.

    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    playing on my iPod this week

    Capitol just released The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 by the Fab Four.

    Do I really need another copy of Early Beatles, Help!, Beatles VI, and Rubber Soul? I already have them on vinyl as well as on the British vinyl and CD versions of those albums. But being the Beatles completist that I am, I will probably buy the set sooner or later.

    Meanwhile, on the iPod, I have been playing a lot of surf music this week: Dick Dale, the Ventures, Jan and Dean, et al. Cowabunga!

    i dig digg

    Slashdot used to be my main Internet source for techy and nerdy news. WA1U recently mentioned how his allegiance had switched from Slashdot to digg, so I checked out digg for a week or so and I definitely dig digg more than I dig Slashdot.

    I will continue to check Slashdot for awhile, but digg is now my main source for news about "stuff that matters."

    Saturday, April 15, 2006

    forsythia plants and daffodils peaking

    The forsythia plants and daffodils seem to have peaked flower-wise this week on Compounce Mountain.

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Surfin': A Quick APRS Resource

    Read this week’s installment of Surfin': A Quick APRS Resource, then leave your comments here.

    By the way, If you register to use the APRSWiki, you will need a user name in "WikiName format." WikiName format is capitalized words "squished together," i.e., capitalized words without spaces between the words. Thus, "Stan Horzepa" is not in WikiName format, but "StanHorzepa" is.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    Microsoft writes a law for Oklahoma giving it the right to inspect your hard drive, delete your files and applications, and call the police if it finds anything “illegal”… is your state next?

    This is no joke. Read all about it here!

    playing on my iPod this week

    Since his death last week, I had been listening to a lot of Gene Pitney tunes.

    One thing led to another...

    While watching the Jack Rabbit Slim's scenes of Pulp Fiction over the weekend, I said to myself, "Myself, you must track down that Ricky Nelson song that the Ricky Nelson impersonator sings at Jack Rabbit Slim's." So I iTuned Ricky Nelson and discovered that "Waitin' In School" was the mystery song. I downloaded Ricky Nelson: Greatest Hits (Digital Version) and have been listening to a lot of Ricky Nelson this week.

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    the weekend

    Saturday, it rained, snowed, and sleeted, so it was a good day to stay inside and finish my income taxes, which I did. I'll go over them one more time to make sure I have not missed anything, then I will print the forms and mail them in later this week.

    Sunday, the weather was a big improvement over Saturday. It was sunny, but a little on the cool side. When I walked the dogs at 9 AM, I could have worn gloves because it was that cool.

    I did some yard work in the morning. I picked up the branches that fell in the yard over the winter, then I considered the 25-foot tree trunk that broke off and fell perfectly into the vee formed by another tree where its trunk split in two. The broken tree was lodged tightly in the vee and it was at a difficult height to work with (about 5 feet above the ground).

    I thought that the broken tree would be easy to cut apart because it was rotting, which is why it fell in the first place. I tried chopping it with an axe, but that was a difficult task because I had to chop it so high off the ground. So, I abandoned the ax and got out my big 5-foot crowbar. I stuck the crowbar in the vee below the broken tree and managed to loosen the broken tree from the vee, but I could not get enough leverage to lift the tree out of the vee.

    So, I climbed into the brush behind the vee tree, took a deep breath, and lifted the broken tree out of the vee. I managed to lift it out of the vee and drop it to the ground. Wow! That was a real workout as was evident by my heavy breathing for the next five minutes or so!

    After I caught my breath, I dragged the tree into the woods across the street and called it a day yard work wise.

    I took Laurie shopping and cleaned the mess in the bathroom where a cat knocked some soil from the aloe vera cactus plants. My original aloe vera is having babies for the second time and one of her babies is having babies (grandchildren). (About 8 years ago, I bought a little aloe vera plant - about 6 inches tall - at Job Lots for a buck or two. It is huge now and has spawned lots of children. I gave some away, but still have four of the kids that are catching up with Mom in size. Amazing!)

    We walked the dogs around 3 and I tuned in the Sox game on the radio and television. They won again and are off to a 5-1 start. For a change, all the moves they made during the winter are all working as planned. The pitching has been just about perfect and the defense has been excellent! Go Sox!

    Friday, April 7, 2006

    Thursday, April 6, 2006

    Good Night, Good Luck, and Good Grief

    It bugs me when incompetence wins over competence.

    Katie Couric is a talking head and not a very good talking head. At best, she is average, but she does have a big following. I don't understand why. I guess some people like her because she is so perky. (Personally, perky people bring out the worst in me; I just want to punch them in the face and bring them back to reality.)

    Also, she supposedly has a big following because she has great legs. She does not have great legs; few munchkins have great legs and she is not one of them. However, she does flaunt her legs at every opportunity and so it goes.

    For decades, CBS News has been the home of very competent journalists, for example, Edward R. Murrow, Robert Trout, Douglas Edwards, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Eric Severeid, Roger Mudd, Harry Reasoner, etc. Currently, the excellent Bob Schieffer occupies the CBS Evening News chair (following in the footsteps of Edwards, Cronkite, and Rather.) When I watch the news on television, I turn to CBS first… always have, always will until now.

    Evidently, the word is that CBS has hired Couric to replace Bob Schieffer on the CBS Evening News. Obviously, they did not hire her for her journalistic skills because she has none. They hired her because she has a big following. Whether her following will follow her from the AM to the PM remains to be seen, but I can tell you that the CBS Evening News has just lost one long-time viewer (me).

    Rockville Rocket

    My favorite rock 'n' roll cooner, Gene Pitney, died. He was only 65 and died in his sleep while on tour in the UK.

    Gene was from Connecticut, born and raised just up I-84 in Rockville, although there was no I-84 back then. During the 1960s, the "Rockville Rocket," as the local deejays called him, had one hit after another and seemed to be a guest on the Brad Davis television show* every week.

    It is hard to pick out a favorite Pitney song, but if push came to shove, I would pick "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." A great song and one of my favorite movies.

    Yesterday, I set my iPod to play Gene Pitney songs all day long.

    * The Brad Davis Show was a Connecticut version of American Bandstand. It aired on channel 3, WTIC, Saturday afternoons for years. Connecticut Bandstand was another local version of American Bandstand that aired weekday afternoons on channel 8, WTNH just before or after (I can't remember) American Bandstand. I remember that one of their sponsors was an early frozen pizza (I can't remember the brand). My sister and I convinced our Mother to try it out. She did and it did not compare favorably with Jimmie's Pizza at the bottom of Stiles Street. I also remember that the Holden Sisters, who lived across the street, had their 15-minutes, or more like 15-seconds of fame, when they appeared on Connecticut Bandstand. I wonder whatever became of them?

    Wednesday, April 5, 2006


    Took the Pies out for last call around 11 PM and the sky was clear. Woke up this morning and it was snowing. The ground had a thin layer of snow, but the pavement was just wet. By the time I arrived at work, the snow was starting to stick to the pavement.

    It's too late for snow, but I've said that before!

    Monday, April 3, 2006

    Surfin' Update: Customizing Firefox for Ham Radio

    Here are instructions on how to install the items mentioned in this week’s installment of Surfin’: Customizing Firefox for Ham Radio:


    1. From, click on the propfire.xpi link to download it to your computer.

    2. From Foxfire, select File > Open File to open the propfire.xpi file that you downloaded to your computer.

    3. Foxfire opens a Software Installation window to install propfire.xpi. Click the Install Now button.

    4. Quit Foxfire and restart it to complete the installation.

    Call Sign and APRS Search Engine Plug-ins

    1. Go to the referenced web site.

    2. Click on the appropriate link to install the search engine plug-in.

    3. Foxfire opens an Add Search Engine window; click on the Yes button to add the search engine. The new search engine will appear as a selection in the pull-down Search menu in the upper right corner of the Foxfire window.

    Saturday, April 1, 2006

    TAPR/ARRL Digital Communications Conference call for papers

    TAPR/ARRL Digital Communications Conference issues call for papers: The 2006 TAPR/ARRL Digital Communications Conference (DCC) has issued a call for papers. The event is slated for September 15-17 at the Clarion Airport Hotel in Tucson, Arizona. This year's conference celebrates the 25th anniversary of the founding of Tucson Amateur Packet Radio (TAPR).

    The deadline to submit conference papers is July 31. Authors do not need to attend the conference to have their papers included in the conference Proceedings. Submit papers and presentations via USPS or e-mail to Maty Weinberg, KB1EIB, ARRL, 225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111 .

    Friday, March 31, 2006

    Friday, March 24, 2006

    Surfin': Lightning is Striking Again

    Read this week’s installment of Surfin’: Lightning is Striking Again, then leave your comments here.

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    your FCC is working for you

    Stuff like this is why AT&T was broken up 20 years ago...

    from Slashdot:

    FCC Backs a Tiered Internet

    Going to be extorted writes ""FCC Chief Kevin Martin yesterday gave his support to AT&T and other telcos who want to be able to limit bandwidth to sites like Google, unless those sites pay extortion fees. Martin made it clear in a speech yesterday that he supports such a a "tiered" Internet." Could this be the end of internet innovation?"