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QSO

Back in the days of telegraphy when operators transmitted dots and dashes to form letters and words, they came up with a shorthand for different terms. CQ means “I am calling.” QTH means location. QSO means, “I am in contact.” In modern ham speak QSO means an on-air interaction between stations. Today I had my first QSO in the high frequency bands under my new General Class ham license. I was on the radio today with Bill a more senior ham with whom I worked the drill yesterda

General Ham I Am

That’s the General Class Amateur Radio Operator, the next level above Technician which I passed about a month ago. I figured I would reach for the added privileges while I was still “hot” at exam taking. The iPad app was most helpful and after taking practice exams about 20 times, I was ready. I got just one wrong on the 35 question test. Now I can use the high frequency bands, the ones that usually require large radio sets, accessory appliances, and elaborate antennas. The H

Ham I Am

I am now officially KG7LEA for the next ten years! A week ago I took and passed my amateur radio Technician Class exam, one wrong answer out of 35. I checked this morning and the FAA database has my call sign listed and I am free to transmit on any of the authorized frequencies. I am mostly interested in ham radio to be able to help out in the event of an emergency. I’ve trained as a NERT in San Francisco, as a CERT in Seattle, and have drilled with the local volunteers with

Disappeared

The four-engine plane carried 15 persons, nine crew and six passengers and nary a trace was ever found. One passenger, a Chinese-American (Chinese were not permitted to be citizens then), was reported to be carrying $US3 million for use by the Chinese government in its war with Japan. One modern researcher, Guy Noffsinger, has started a website focusing on the mystery of the Hawaii Clipper and is investigating the theory that the flight was hijacked by Japanese Naval intellig

Rokuuuuu!

I looked back and realized that I did not finish my adventure with my new Roku box. To replay, I ordered a Roku 3 to replace the Roku so I could get more channels particularly PBS. I can get all the programming that is not carried on my local station (which I still support). I also discovered that there are many more channels available than are offered in the online Roku menu, not all free, but lots more stuff. For example, Al Jazeera is available if you have the right code.

Twitter and Crimea

I learned how to follow topics with the use of hashtags. In this case #Crimea will bring up every tweet involving the crisis between Russia and Ukraine and there are thousands. The vast majority of tweets are from people who have no idea what is going on and just retweet retweets ad nauseum until there is no way of telling what is happening. They spent more time including hashtags in their tweets than they did thinking about their messages. Then there are the snarky comments

More Twitter, No More Twitter

I’m not going to quit Twitter, but I doubt that I will spend time tweeting nor will I assemble a following. I can get all the important public safety and transportation tweets, the vast majority of which do not concern me. If I need to know about something going on in the neighborhood I can look it up. I have Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family and email for more serious communication. The individual tweets I have seen so far are pretty inane. I tried to follow

Twitter

I am experimenting with Twitter. I don’t have a particular need for tweeting, but I felt compelled to learn more after an emergency in the neighborhood on a Sunday night. We wanted to know what was going on and none of the radio stations or their web sites had any coverage. I went to Twitter because I knew that the police department uses tweets. Sure enough there was enough of a blurb to help us understand that there was a robbery/homicide. Very tragic. So I signed up and sta

Anticipation

Remember when, for two weeks in December, the truck pulled up in front of the house to deliver that package from the grandparents?  That was such a special moment where the plain box with strange writing in your name on the outside. What was inside? If it was Christmas, inside only delivered more mystery in the form of a gaily wrapped package. There might have been other deliveries through the year, some mail order, but maybe only one. Fast forward to the 21st Century. With o

I don’t know, Roku?

I often consider what normal features of daily life would be incomprehensible 20 or even 10 years ago – smart phones, tablets, online shopping, etc. DVD players were the coming thing 10 years ago and now are on their way to the electronics recycling center. One thing we now can no longer do without is streaming TV. I have Roku, the little set top box that allows online access to venerable Netflix and behemoth Amazon. (Be nice, they are watching.) It allows streaming of dozens

How are you listening?

Rather than get into a TLDR situation, I’m going to break things up. How to listen to audio books and podcasts. Most listening these days is private rather than public or communal. Everyone is plugged into their own thing through their portable devices. As I mentioned, this is a loss. It’s possible to play the audio book (or podcast or music or news) through a speaker system so that more than one person can share the experience at once. The devices plug into speakers and ther

Selling and Buying

Today I bought and I sold via Amazon.com. I tried to buy toys for my grandsons the old fashioned way, but when I got there, the toy store was gone. I walked into the mall and they don’t have a toy store there. So I drove ten miles to another store. But they had only one of the things on the list. After two hours and twenty miles all I had to show for it was some dumb Play Doh. I went online and ordered the things off the Amazon list which I should have done in the first place

What are you reading? Hearing?

I usually have two books going at once, one a work of fiction and the other some kind of history book. With the Kindle I can have three or four going at once. I’ve been nibbling at the Memoirs of Ulysses Grant for more than a year, but that doesn’t count in the two. The basic Kindle has a limitation in history since maps don’t do well and maps are pretty important. The iPad* does maps better, but it’s not as convenient as the Kindle. The iPad is prettier, but heavier. The iPa

My video

In 1963, I heard a single by the surf rock band, the Marketts, called “Out of Limits”. I like the fast paced, heavy bass of the music and somehow visualized jets taking off from an aircraft carrier. Most of my visualizations at the time involved airplanes. Surf rock fell out of vogue in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, but every once in a while the tune would come up on a radio and once again I saw the Navy jets being catapulted off a flight deck. Then with the advent of digital downlo

Home Movies

I just completed a couple of desktop home movie projects, another genre of the technology revolution. I was a participant in the growth of amateur movies starting with silent Super 8, graduating to sound, then to video tape, then to digital. Now I’ve done home movies, really good quality, on my phone. How great is that? Thomas Edison gave us the motion picture, but it was a commercial and industrial mystery with little being done by the amateur. Camera equipment was expensive

What are you reading? Steve Jobs

I am reading the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson which I recommend from a number of viewpoints. First, it’s well researched and well written. Isaacson talked to dozens and probably hundreds of people and had the advantage of unlimited access to the subject himself. And Jobs was, at best, a difficult subject. Jobs picked Isaacson and then took his hands off the project. His only area of influence was the cover design and he was, reportedly, his typical butthead self

Podcasts

Yes, an entire year since the last post. Not that I haven’t had anything to write, I just haven’t written it here. Here’s hoping I do better. One thing I have discovered recently is the world of podcasts. These are web-based audio and some video shows produced by everyone from big-time mainstream Hollywood and New York entities to universities, National Public Radio, and individual academics reading their papers, down to individuals ruminating into a microphone from their kit

Don’t Settle?

The unfortunate passing of Steve Jobs has highlighted his accomplishments and his vision. But one bit of of his wisdom might require some qualification or at least discussion. Steve emphasized following what people love and not compromising that. Indeed, he pressed his engineers to solve insoluble problems, and they did. He didn’t settle for their expert advice. There is much to be said for persistence. Since he was writing the checks he could be as persistent with his engine

Video Lynchings

The recent kerfuffle over the dismissal of a civil servant who was framed by a doctored video underscores something I’ve believed for a long time: you can’t always trust the camera lens for the whole picture. In this last case someone boogered with the tape intending to embarrass the NAACP and ended up embarrassing the Obama White House. Here in Seattle we are in the middle of a couple of controversies over video taped police actions. Ever since the Rodney King thing salaciou

Drill Ban

I get irritated with the clamor to ban offshore oil drilling because of the current disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. I wish people would take a breath. The Deepwater Horizon accident is like a horrible traffic pileup on the freeway caused by someone driving drunk and over the speed limit. And then we discover that the highway patrol was off eating donuts. Do we close the freeways? No. Oil platforms have blowout preventers, immense, complicated safety valves that, well, prevent

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