[handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 04 April 2012

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2012 14:55:17 -0500


This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center
Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end, or simply email
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx for changes in subscriptions or to comment. You
can listen to this news online.

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*Welcome to Handiham World.*

[image: drawing of transceiver]

*Goodbye, cassettes.*

[image: Unhappy frowning Pat with cardboard box of assorted tape cassettes.]
The old way of doing audio:  Unhappy Pat poses with box of assorted tape
cassettes.  Each one holds only a portion of an audio book.

[image: Smiling Pat holds up a single Library of Congress digital
cartridge. The small green cartridge is not quite as large as a single
4-track cassette tape.]
The new way:  Smiling Pat holds up a single Library of Congress digital
cartridge.  Each new digital cartridge holds thousands of DAISY book pages
or many hundreds of audio files.

Well, don't say you didn't know this was coming.  Learning Ally and the
Library of Congress have both made the switch to digital audio.  Bookshare
has been digital for a long time already. Now it is time to announce the
final stage in the life cycle of the Handiham tape cassette service, one of
the few remaining analog special format services that is still active.

Over the last decade digital audio has steadily overtaken analog tape
cassettes in commercial applications.  The old cassette format is no longer
supported as it once was in boom boxes, portable players, and automobile
audio systems. The tapes themselves are harder to find and many households
no longer even have equipment to play cassettes.  Anticipating the need for
a digital system to replace this old technology that was also used by
people who could not read regular print, the DAISY Consortium has developed
the DAISY format book system that can couple audio files read by humans to
specific sections and subsections of books.  DAISY can also generate
computer speech from computer text of a book, then arrange it all on a
DAISY book that includes spoken word audio and all of the text, complete
with headings for sections and subsections. Now that the Library of
Congress has completed its distribution of the new DAISY-capable digital
players to replace the aging 4-track tape cassette players, we feel
confident that Handiham members, even those without computers, will still
have access to the new digital cartridges.

Make no mistake; the digital audio is far better than the old cassette tape
audio.  If you are still using tape cassettes, now is the time to check out
that new digital player.  With the new player you can navigate using audio
prompts and find the exact thing in a book that you want.  You could never
do that with tapes.  In the bad old days of taped instruction manuals, it
was nearly impossible to find that part about setting the memories on your
new radio! With the new digital system, that is an easy task.  In the old
days, your audio had to come by postal mail.  Today you can download it via
the Internet and put it on your digital player with a small adapter cable.
Even Handiham members without computers can still receive their new digital
cartridges in the mail, in special mailers similar to the old Library of
Congress tape mailers.  The new system is designed to seem familiar to tape
users, so that they can more easily learn it and make the transition.

The digital cartridges themselves are just a bit smaller than the old tape
cassettes.  They have a hole in one end to facilitate grasping the correct
end of the cartridge, even by a person with some mobility limitations.  The
other end of the cartridge has a small USB connector that plugs into the
digital player.  It slips into the new player only one way, and the
experience feels much like putting a cassette tape into the old player. The
USB plug is protected by extensions of the plastic cartridge to protect it
from damage. This format also keeps it from plugging directly into a
standard computer's USB ports.  That is why blind users who receive their
audio from Library of Congress digital downloads must use an adapter cable
between their computers and their digital cartridges.  We can also use such
a cable to put Handiham digital audio onto the new cartridges.

There is a cost difference between a tape cassette and the new digital
cartridge.  Tape cassettes usually ran under a dollar, and because they are
falling out of use they are available virtually free from people who are
simply getting rid of old technology.  The new digital NLS cartridges are
around $10 to $12 each, but remember that each one holds the equivalent of
hundreds and hundreds of tapes.  And because the new digital cartridge has
a different form factor than a tape cassette, it requires a new specialized
NLS mailer.  These run about $2.50 each.

The way the Handiham monthly digest audio program will operate takes into
account the cost of these two items.  In the old system, we bought tapes
and mailers and sent them to our members.  The members were responsible for
returning the tapes and mailers when they had listened to the audio.  The
return rate was never 100%, so some tapes and mailers were lost to
attrition each month.

In the new system, we will ask our members who want to have digital audio
mailed to them by free matter postal mail to purchase their own digital
cartridge and mailer, mark them with their callsign or identification, and
send them to us for processing each month.  We will fill the cartridge and
return it.  That way each individual has a vested interest in their own
cartridge and mailer.  This will make the program easier to manage because
we won't have to maintain a supply of our own cartridges and mailers.  It
also spreads the cost among those users who don't have computers or
Internet services.  It has really become labor-intensive to support a
smaller and smaller number of Handiham members who use the old tape
cassette technology.  As our tape duplicators get older, they are more
likely to make recording errors.  It has gotten to the point where tapes
are sometimes custom-produced for a single member who needs something like
one of our license courses but who has no computer.  So serving that single
member can get quite expensive, while hundreds of other members simply
download their audio from our website with no staff assistance.  The
digital cartridge provides a means of still serving that single member with
good quality audio, even if they do not have a computer.

So what is the plan?

We will continue to support tape cassettes through the end of 2012, but not
for new members, beginning immediately.  All new members will be told about
the new digital cartridge plan.  They will have a choice of either simply
downloading the digital audio they need from our website or providing their
own digital cartridge and mailer.  Members who are currently using the old
tape system will be notified of the new cartridge plan and they will be
given some options about where to purchase the cartridges and mailers.
Members who get their audio via the website will not be affected.

For Handiham World, I'm...
Patrick Tice, handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Handiham Manager

*How to get started in digital audio using the Library of Congress player*

[image: NLS player showing cartridge inserted and also open mailing
container with cartridge in place]

Before you do anything else, you need the player itself.  You must be
eligible for National Library services, though.  You can find the
requirements here:

The signup page is here:

For our members who do not have computers, there is a phone number:
toll-free 1-800-424-8567.

If you wish to receive a packet of information by mail yourself or to order
the packet for a friend, please visit the NLS form page:

Once you are signed up for NLS and have received your player, it is time to
start enjoying Handiham audio digests and audio courses in Technician,
General, and Extra, plus Operating Skills lectures from time to time. To
get started, please contact our main office to let us know what you want,
and then send us a blank NLS cartridge and mailer, both marked with your
name or callsign (or both) so that we know who sent it.  The cartridge will
be filled with your order and returned to you in the reusable mailer.
There is no charge for this, as it is a service to Handiham members.
Cartridges or mailers marked as property of the U.S. Government or other
organizations may not be used for this Handiham service.  You must purchase
your own blank cartridge and mailer.

Where to purchase cartridges and mailers:

Your local State Services for the Blind may either offer extra cartridges
and mailers for sale or be able to refer you to a local source.  There are
also places that serve the entire country.  Be sure to contact your own
State Services for the Blind first so that you know what is available in
your area.  There may be other specialized players available through them
at low cost.  The standard NLS Digital Player will be provided free to
qualified persons.

Here are two national sources for products of interest.  Notice that only
APH caries the mailers.  NFB does carry the cartridges, but not the
mailers.  They also are the only source we have found for a digital talking

APH:  American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.


   Digital Talking Book Cartridge Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price: $12.00

   Digital Talking Book Cartridge: Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00,
   Price: $2.50

   Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839

NFB Store Independence Market:


   Digital Talking Book Cartridge code number AIA32N:  Price $10.00

   USB extension cable for NLS cartridge code number AIA33C: Price $3.00

   Talking Multimeter recently purchased and recommended by a Handiham
   member: Code number AIG67M, price $49.00

   Call us at 410-659-9314, ext. 2216 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, fax us
   at 410-685-2340, or e-mail us at IndependenceMarket@xxxxxxxx


*FRED MAIA - W5YI SK March 28, 2012*

Fred Maia, W5YI, passed away Wednesday evening March 28, 2012, following a
brave battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
The W5YI Group is one of the major VECs in the United States.  A story
about Fred and his long career in amateur radio appears on their website at:

(W5YI Group)

*Troubleshooting 101*

[image: Cartoon guy with toolkit]

*Finding help*

Echolink problems were the subject of last week's column, and this week
brings us to the more general topic of finding help with problems like
Echolink setup or antenna installations.   Although most modern
consumer-grade equipment is designed to automatically set itself up with as
little user intervention as possible, there are still programs and
equipment that, when connected to the Internet, require some user
intervention at the time they are connected to your home network.  Echolink
is a good example.  It works well and reliably once it is set up, but it is
definitely NOT a software program that you just install and start using.
Even the initial registration process can be confusing for new users,
especially those who are not technically-oriented in the first place.  Then
comes the real bear: The configuration of your home network, and that means
setting up a router with port forwarding.  Sometimes computer firewalls or
security software must also be set up.  Antennas usually require planning
and specialized installation, so they often require outside helpers as
well. Echolink or antennas:  two big "I need help" problems!

Perhaps it is worth knowing not only where to find help getting this stuff
configured or installed, but also knowing when to ask for help in the first

When to get help: You need to get help when you have read all the
instructions yourself and have attempted to install and configure Echolink,
but you have not been able to get it to work, and then you have tried
researching the problem on the Internet without success.  You need antenna
help when you don't have the physical ability or the knowledge to install
an antenna safely.

Where to get help: Your first resource should be your local radio club.  If
you don't belong to a club, join one.  Everyone needs help at one time or
another, and a radio club exists to connect like-minded ham radio operators
in a social and educational setting so that club members can help each
other.  You can find local radio clubs by an Internet search, or simply go
to the ARRL website at www.arrl.org/clubs to use the club locator. When you
join the club, bring your can-do attitude along with you.  You are there
not only to learn new things yourself, but to help the other club members
however you can.

Why should I join a club for Echolink help?  Why can't I just call ARRL or
Handihams and have them tell me what to do?

The answer to that is simple.  Someone on the phone is hundreds or
thousands of miles from you and your computer.  They cannot see what is
going on at your computer. Even with remote viewing software they cannot
see whether your system is properly connected physically to your router and
modem.  Echolink setup involving the configuration of a home network is
something best done by a knowledgeable person who can be present to connect
the router properly, then connect to the router's administration system and
forward ports to the correct IP address on your home network.  If you have
no idea what I am talking about, then you are a candidate for exactly the
kind of help from your local club that I am talking about.

*Attitude is everything!*

I recall a fellow who needed help putting up an antenna.  He had sought
help in his local area but he had, for one reason or another, became *persona
non grata  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persona_non_grata> *to everyone
who might try to help him.  He literally made himself so unwelcome that no
one would even consider helping him.  How did he burn all these bridges?
Well, he probably had the attitude that others were there to serve him, and
that they had better be fast about it. Maybe he pestered them by calling
them a dozen times on the 4th of July.  Perhaps he didn't offer his helpers
any refreshments or do any of the necessary preparations like ordering all
of the necessary hardware and cable.  In short, he had made a total mess of
everything and then when everyone in his local club had told him "no", he
called us and expected help.  Unfortunately we had no way to help, because
we recommended the local club to him, and he had already burned those
bridges.  He was stuck.  He was not happy that we could not help him, but
what did he expect?  Surely he knew that no one from Handiham headquarters
could jump into a car and drive a day or two to set up his antenna for
him.  That is why it is important to be as polite and helpful when working
with your local club as you can possibly be.  Do everything you can do to
understand the equipment, software or system that you possibly can
beforehand.  If you need anything special to get the installation
completed, such as coaxial cable or connectors, or perhaps special
hardware, please have it available when your helpers show up.  Do not
expect them to have to bring what you need and pay for it out of pocket.
Provide refreshments or even lunch as a courtesy, as one of our club
members recently did at his antenna installation.

*And here's the really important thing to remember:  ALWAYS say thank you!*

Email me at handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx with your questions & comments.
Patrick Tice
Handiham Manager

*A dip in the pool*

[image: cartoon kid doing math problems]

It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the question
pool, that is!

Today we are taking a question from the General Class pool:

G4D03 asks, "Which of the following can be the result of an incorrectly
adjusted speech processor?"

Possible answers are:

A. Distorted speech

B. Splatter

C. Excessive background pickup

D. All of these choices are correct

Did all of those answers look pretty good?  They should: The correct answer
is D, All of these choices are correct.  My reasoning in including this
question in our dip in the pool segment today is that good operating
practice dictates that all of us know how to adjust our equipment to
transmit a properly-modulated signal that is easily understood and that
does not result in interference to other users of the band. Nothing says
"bad operator" than a signal that is distorted and splattering across the

*NASA Science News: Power of a Solar Storm*

[image: cartoon sun]

NASA Science News has produced an excellent story on the enormous amount of
energy pumped into the Earth's thermosphere by the sun. The YouTube video
is accompanied by an excellent audio track that is self-explanatory as a
standalone medium that can be enjoyed by our blind members.

"A flurry of solar activity in early March dumped enough heat in Earth's
upper atmosphere to power every residence in New York City for two years.
The heat has since dissipated, but there's more to come as the solar cycle



Credit: Science @NASA

*Remote Base Health Report for 03 April 2012*

[image: W4MQ software screenshot]

We have a new beta website for the remote base software. You may check it
out at:

*W0ZSW is on line.
W0EQO is on line. *

Please check the latest operating tips on the remote base pages:

The link to the daily status update pages:

Our thanks to volunteer engineer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, for his help
maintaining the station databases and updates.


[image: Cartoon dog barking at mail carrier]

Handiham Radio Club President Ken Silberman, KB3LLA, shared a link that he
liked, an article from Braille Monitor, an NFB publication.  The article,
entitled, Advanced Technology for Producing Tactile Materials*, *appears in
the April 2012 edition and may be found at the following link:

*April Events by N1YXU is ready for viewing.  Laurie writes: *

*Now that the weather is starting to show signs of Spring, my husband has
begun the annual prep work on the antennas and towers in our yard. I hope
you are taking advantage of the nicer weather to work outside as well.
There are quite a few events this month that should grab your attention. If
you’re going to be in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area over the weekend of
April 7th, be sure to stop by RARSfest (details are below). Maybe we can
say hello in person. Until next month…. Regards, - Laurie Meier, N1YXU
n1yxu@xxxxxxxx *

Read the events column at:

*This week @ HQ*

[image: happy cartoon guy wearing earphones]

Nancy returns to the office on Wednesday, 4 April.  Pat is out of the
office for an all-day meeting on 4 April. Please keep phone messages short
and to the point so that we can answer as many as possible.  Staff time is
limited, and lately we seem to be getting many calls, so brevity is a

PICONET has returned to summer hours.  That means that this Upper
Midwestern HF net is no longer on for the 3:00 to 4:00 PM CDT hour.  All
other PICONET hours are still active.  More at Handiham Nets:

Bob, N1BLF, has completed the April 2012 Worldradio audio digest for our
blind members. Check it out in the members section.  Thanks, Bob, for
another great job of recording.

April QST audio digest is now also ready for our blind members in DAISY
format, playable in your Library of Congress digital player.  Handiham
members who use these players and who would prefer to receive a copy of the
monthly audio digests on the special Library of Congress digital cartridge
should send a blank cartridge to us in a cartridge mailer (no envelopes,
please), so that we can place the files on it and return it to you via free
matter postal mail.  Your callsign should be on both the cartridge and the
mailer so that we can make sure we know who it's from. Blank cartridges and
mailers are available from APH, the American Printing House for the Blind,


   Digital Talking Book Cartridge Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price: $12.00

   Digital Talking Book Cartridge: Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00,
   Price: $2.50

Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.

April QST audio digest is now also ready for our blind members in DAISY
format, as a digital download for your computer DAISY player or to place on
your digital cartridge or other portable DAISY player. Visit the DAISY
section on the website after logging in.

Members Only Website Update:

Handiham.org open enrollment is over, but Handiham members who do not have
log in credentials for the site may request them by emailing
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx This step was taken to curtail the hundreds of
account requests from spammers and other non-members each week.

*Tonight is EchoLink net night.*

[image: Echolink screenshot]

The Wednesday evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United States Central time,
which translates to 00:30 GMT Thursday morning.

The 11:00 daily net will be heard at 16:00 GMT.

EchoLink nodes:

HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)
KA0PQW-R, node 267582
KA0PQW-L, node 538131
N0BVE-R, node 89680
N9GMR-R, node 640860
W0EQO-R, node 309436

Other ways to connect:

IRLP node 9008 (Vancouver BC reflector)
WIRES system number 1427

More information about repeaters and nodes may be found at

*Stay in touch!*

Be sure to send Nancy your changes of address, phone number changes, or
email address changes so that we can continue to stay in touch with you.
You may either email Nancy at hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or call her at
763-520-0512.  If you need to use the toll-free number, call

Handiham Manager Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or by phone at 763-520-0511.

Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us.

Answers to many questions about radios, Echolink, nets, and the Remote Base
stations are all at www.handiham.org.

*Supporting Handihams - 2012. *

Now you can support the Handiham program by donating on line using Courage
Center's secure website. It is easy, but one thing to remember is that you
need to use the pull-down menu to designate your gift to the Handiham

Step one: Follow this link to the secure Courage Center Website:

Step two: Fill out the form, being careful to use the pull-down Designation
menu to select "Handi-Hams".

Step three: Submit the form to complete your donation. If the gift is a
tribute to someone, don't forget to fill out the tribute information. This
would be a gift in memory of a silent key, for example.

We really appreciate your help. As you know, we have cut expenses this year
due to the difficult economic conditions. We are working hard to make sure
that we are delivering the most services to our members for the money - and
we plan to continue doing just that in 2012.

Thank you from the Members, Volunteers, and Staff of the Handiham System.

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager

Handiham Membership Dues

Benefits of membership:


Handiham renewals are on a monthly schedule - Please renew or join, as we
need you to keep our program strong! You will have several choices when you


   Join at the usual $12 annual dues level for one year. Your renewal date
   is the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends for one

   Join for three years at $36.

   Lifetime membership is $120.

   If you can't afford the dues, request a 90 day non-renewable sponsored

   Donate an extra amount of your choice to help support our activities.

   Discontinue your membership.

Please return your renewal form as soon as possible. Your support is
critical! Please help.

The Courage Handiham System depends on the support of people like you, who
want to share the fun and friendship of ham radio with others. Please help
us provide services to people with disabilities. We would really appreciate
it if you would remember us in your estate plans. If you need a planning
kit, please call. If you are wondering whether a gift of stock can be given
to Handihams, the answer is yes! Please call Walt Seibert at 763-520-0532
or email him at walt.seibert@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Ask for a free DVD about the Handiham System.

It's perfect for your club program, too! The video tells your club about
how we got started, the Radio Camps, and working with hams who have

Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free. -- Help us get new hams on the air.

Get the Handiham E-Letter by email every Wednesday, and stay up-to-date
with ham radio news.

You may listen in audio to the E-Letter at www.handiham.org.
Email us to subscribe:

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at





   Operating Skills

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!
Manager, Courage Handiham System
Reach me by email at:
patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

Radio Camp email:

*ARRL is the premier organization supporting amateur radio worldwide.
Please contact Handihams for help joining the ARRL. We will be happy to
help you fill out the paperwork!*

[image: ARRL Diamond Logo]

The weekly e-letter is a compilation of software tips, operating
information, and Handiham news. It is published on Wednesdays, and is
available to everyone free of charge. Please email
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc.
Include your old email address and your new address.

Courage Center Handiham System
3915 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN 55422

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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 04 April 2012 - Patrick Tice