[handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 12 November 2014

  • From: <Patrick.Tice@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2014 14:11:54 -0600

Logo for Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute, part of Allina Health

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for
the week of Wednesday, 12 November 2014

This is a free weekly news & information update from  <http://handiham.org>
Courage Kenny Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end. 

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Welcome to Handiham World.

Cartoon world with radio tower

The problem with clouds

Guy shaking fist at broken computer

No, I'm not talking about the kind of clouds that float in the sky above us.
The ones that are bugging me lately are the computing "clouds", which store
data and perform operations for us from some computer server farm so that
the data or the data processing software do not have to be stored locally on
our own computers or devices.  

Just a few short years ago cloud computing was still pretty new.  Some of
had a few files here and there on a cloud server - maybe some photos and
documents.  But now lots of things are "in the cloud", living on a server
who-knows-where and supposedly available whenever and wherever we are on
multiple devices.  This ideal brings together smartphones, computers,
tablets, and other devices with different operating systems while allowing
us to work on the same documents no matter which device we choose.  In ham
radio, transceivers, VoIP servers, and logbooks reside in the cloud.  

So what's the problem?

All of these systems depend on the internet, and if the internet isn't
available, you may find that your document or software program does not
function as you expect.  As internet connectivity has improved, cloud
computing has flourished, often outpacing the infrastructure that it really
needs to work correctly.  One example is the data file I create to prepare
your weekly e-letter every Wednesday.  The software program, Microsoft
Expression Web, is on my local hard drive while the actual data is on a
cloud server.  This is convenient because the cloud server will protect my
data, making it available and backing it up even if my own computer's hard
drive crashes.  I can also work on the data from other computers when that
is necessary.  However, all of this convenience is only available if I have
good internet connectivity.  Sometimes the connectivity just isn't there at
all, or it is marginal.  When that happens, applications depending on the
data that is expected but that doesn't arrive can misbehave.  I have learned
to save, save, save my data.  Every paragraph or so when I'm writing in an
application that has cloud dependencies needs to be saved.  Just about the
time I forget to do that and get called away for some other task, the
application locks up or crashes because it doesn't get the timely transfer
of data that it is waiting for.  This is usually just an aggravation
resulting in a little bit of extra work, but there have been times when it
meant hours of reconstructing my previous work.  

Cloud VoIP servers can have latencies, too.  Consider the delays that seem
to vary from day to day when we are on the Handiham net.  The net control
volunteers have learned to manage the traffic quite well, but they have to
stay on their toes because one never knows exactly what will be connected to
the various nodes and servers.  Newbies who are not familiar with the
resulting delays can sometimes get frustrated or confused by them.  

Online logging is convenient, but it too can be somewhat "brittle" due to
its dependencies on lots of technologies that must always work correctly,
handshaking and sharing data,  sometimes in real time.  One such example is
networked logging computers at a busy Field Day site.  When it's working -
and it usually is - it is wonderful, adding to the overall efficiency of the
operation.  But when it doesn't, it's sometimes a tech support nightmare!  

As far as I'm concerned cloud computing is here to stay.  What can we do to
make it work better and be more reliable?  Here are several strategies:

·         Make sure that your home network and internet service are working
well together.  Don't tolerate "rat's nest" wiring!  Try to keep LAN cables
neatly dressed and as short as possible.  Remember that your station will
generate an RF field, and RF can get into and travel along LAN cabling,
decreasing data speeds or disrupting the internet and network connections
altogether. If you do experience RFI to your network, deploy ferrite chokes
near the equipment at each end of your LAN cables.  Try redressing LAN
cabling away from RF sources like feedlines.  While DSL can be more
susceptible to RFI than cable internet, either one can hiccup if the RF
field is strong enough. 

·         If working with applications that use a cloud server to save data,
be sure to save your work often.  Make it a habit so that you won't even
have to think about saving.  Never walk away from an unsaved document,
spreadsheet, or logging file.  Always save first, then take a break.  If the
cloud connection breaks, immediately try to save a copy on a local drive. 

·         On VoIP nets like the Handiham daily net, allow plenty of time for
toggling between transmit and receive.  Be patient with the entire connected
system and with your fellow operators.  Remember that the Net Control
Station is in charge and is trying to do the best job of sorting things out
that is possible.  Due to the nature of these interconnected systems, what
you hear may be different than what the Net Control hears.  If you adjust
your expectations, you will have a better experience because you will not be
frustrated if you have to try several times to "get in".  You will instead
realize that this is simply the nature of the beast!  After all, nothing you
can do on your end of the QSO can change the way distant host computers
handle the traffic.  

·         When using shared cloud services such as a shared Dropbox folder
for editing your radio club's newsletter, be mindful about what you change,
move, or delete.  These services can be great for collaborating on documents
and presentations, but you should have a plan and all participants should
agree on how the documents are edited and saved.  

·         If you use a remote base HF radio service, be mindful of the
shared nature of these stations.  The radio and host computer may live in
the cloud, but down here on the ground there may be others waiting to use
the radio, so be a thoughtful ham, not a radio hog!  The nice thing about
this kind of cloud service radio is that it's available from almost anywhere
there is internet service.  But the bad thing is that one radio has to serve
many potential operators.

·         Cloud-based services can periodically get overloaded or be
unavailable because of failures or maintenance.  Don't assume that you are
doing something wrong on your end without waiting for a period of time and
checking the cloud service again later on.  

·         If you are accessing a cloud service with a mobile phone network,
it is best to stay put in one place while you do so.  The reason is that the
data service from your carrier may switch between high and low speed and
everything in between, including "no service" as you move through areas of
changing signal strength from multiple cell towers. If you find a location
with a solid signal and can remain there while you use the cloud service, it
will work better. Echolink is particularly fussy about changing signal
sources and will drop if you walk from a WI-FI signal and your smartphone
connects to your mobile carrier's data stream.  

So there you have it:  The cloud is your friend, but don't be surprised if
it rains on your digital parade from time to time!

(For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.)

Don't forget our nets...

·         Is your code a little rusty?  Or even non-existent?  Avery, K0HLA,
conducts the Morse Code Practice Net immediately following the Thursday
evening Handiham Net on the Echolink and IRLP-enabled network.  Join Avery
as he covers the very basic beginner introduction to the Morse code.  The
code net begins at approximately 8:00 PM Central Time on *HANDIHAM*,
Echolink node 494492, and on IRLP 9008.  Check-ins are taken both in CW and
on phone!  

Avery, K0HLA, sends Morse code.

Happy Wednesday to you!  Our daily Echolink net continues to operate for
anyone and everyone who cares to check in at 11:00 hours CST (Noon Eastern
and 09:00 Pacific), as well as Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 19:00
hours CST (7 PM).  Tonight N6NFF will pose a trivia question in the first
half hour, so check in early if you want to take a guess.  

·         A big THANK YOU to all of our net control stations and to our
Handiham Club Net Manager, Michael, VE6UE. 

Speaking of nets...

I was listening to several different nets earlier this week, some on the
local repeater and others on HF.  One that really impressed me was the
Maritime Mobile Service Net on 14.300 MHz <http://www.mmsn.org/> .  The net
control station deftly handled traffic that included position reports of
vessels accurately and efficiently.  I recommend giving it a listen between
noon and 10:00 PM USA Eastern Time. Twirl the dial 32 kHz and land on 14.332
MHz, where you will find the YL System Net <http://www.ylsystem.org/> ,
always a friendly place. 

Taking stock:

Let's find out what's going on.  

W0EQO earned certificate for working W0JH special event.
How about this great certificate from the "Remembering the Edmund
Fitzgerald" special event?  I earned it using W0EQO, the remote base HF
station at Courage North.  You could do this sort of thing, too - even if
you don't have your own HF station.  Use an HF remote and open your world!
And kudos to the SARA group for such an efficient delivery of my
certificate.  It arrived by email shortly after the event.  Anyone who has
chased wallpaper before can tell you that sometimes you have to wait and
wait for confirmation.  This was really exceptional service!

·         Final reminder!  Did you contact W0JH during the Split Rock
Lighthouse "Remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald" special event?  If so, please
apply for your certificate.

Event details for certificate:

o    What:  Remembering the Edmund Fitzgerald (Split Rock Lighthouse) Nov
1-Nov 2, 1500Z-2345Z, W0JH , Two Harbors, MN. 

o    Who:  Sponsors were the Stillwater (MN) Amateur Radio Association,
Courage Kenny Handiham System, and Radio City. 

o    How to get a certificate:  Email Stillwater Amateur Radio Association,
W0JH, via: 

Certificates will ONLY be sent via e-mail in PDF format. More info: 

·         Both HF remote base internet stations are up and running:  W0EQO
at Camp Courage North and W0ZSW in the Twin Cities East Metro.   

o    Please remember that Skype is the preferred audio source for both
radios, but is REQUIRED for transmitting via W0EQO.  Users who try to make
do with IRB Sound on W0EQO will get reports of dropouts and intermittent
audio when transmitting.  

o    I see that there are some things that need updating in the remote base
support pages.  Please let me know if you run across things that are
confusing or incorrect.

o    We would like to get a remote on the East Coast.  Any ideas?  The ideal
setup would be a club-supported project since there would be enough tech

·         New office hours: 

o    The Handiham office will be closed on Fridays beginning this week.
This is part of a new schedule we started this week in which we provide
somewhat longer office hours on Monday through Thursday going forward into
2015.  This will help us to serve more members on the West Coast a little
later in the day.   

o    How services will be affected: 

§  There will no longer be a Friday New Audio Notification email from

§  Instead, this message will be sent out on another day, usually Thursdays.

§  Our website will be available 24/7 as always, and if there is an
emergency notification or remote base outage, the website will be updated
accordingly no matter what day it is.  

§  The two HF remote base stations are also available every day for your

§  Our nets continue as usual.  

§  The telephone and email will not be answered on Fridays. 

New audio:  If you are a Handiham member and want a weekly reminder about
our new audio, let us know. (If you are already getting the Friday reminder,
don't do anything - It will come earlier in the week.) 

Thanks to our volunteer readers:

o    Bob, N1BLF 

§  Bob's December 2014 Magazine Digest is posted for DAISY format zip file
download for our blind members. (Added on Tuesday 11 November.)

o    Jim, KJ3P

o    Ken, W9MJY 

·         December QST is out - ARRL has posted the digital edition online
for ARRL members.  Inside: 

o    Build a 1.5 kW “Centennial Amplifier” for 80 through 6 meters

o    Add a handy external power control accessory to your transceiver

o    See the 2014 ARRL Field Day results                 

… and much more. 

·         Be a NASA Summer Intern!  Ken, KB3LLA, sends out a call to
students who are interested in STEM careers.

·         Looking for a free software media player that won't hog all your
computer's resources?  Check out the open-source MPC-HC: Media Player
Classic Home Cinema.  I have tried many media players, and some are so huge
that they take up significant hard drive space and are always trying to do
things like sell me something instead of just playing the files I want.
They take forever to load, too.  It is a breath of fresh air to use MPC-HC,
which loads in a few seconds and has the usual easy to learn keyboard
commands. According to the Sourceforge page, "MPC-HC supports all common
video and audio file formats available for playback."   It is only for
Windows, but is supported on many versions.  You can choose the correct one
on the download page.  
Learn more about this excellent free software on its Sourceforge page.

o    Still not sure about MPC-HC?
<http://sourceforge.net/projects/mpc-hc/editorial/?source=psp>   Read this
editor's review.

·         MAGic 13 Screen Magnification Software Public Beta: There is a
free public beta of the screen magnification and speech software from
Freedom Scientific.  Check out the public beta page.

·         Something completely different from The Guardian
<http://www.theguardian.com/us> : Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox take part in
Monty Python sketch
ython-stephen-hawking-brian-cox-eric-idle-video?CMP=ema_565> – video.  The
Guardian is a winner of the Pulitzer prize and a great source of news.  It
has a tech section that is quite good.  

·         Radio Camp News: We are considering Radio Camp dates for 2015.  In
play would be the time period from Tuesday, August 18 (arrival) through
Monday, August 24 (departure),  We think this will allow campers who travel
by air to get cheaper tickets.  Please note that camp planning is in its
early stages and we have not set the exact timing yet.   
Great room in cabin two.

·         You can pay your Handiham dues and certain other program fees on
line. Simply follow the link to our secure payment site, then enter your
information and submit the payment.  It's easy and secure!

o    Handiham annual membership dues are $12.00.  The lifetime membership
rate is $120.00.

o    If you want to donate to the Handiham Program, please use our donation
website.  The instructions are at the following link:
DONATION LINK <http://www.handiham.org/drupal2/node/8> 

73, and I hope to hear you on the air soon!  

For Handiham World, this is Pat Tice, WA0TDA.  

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!

ARRL diamond-shaped 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
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  • » [handiham-world] Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 12 November 2014 - Patrick.Tice