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

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.