[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 04 August 2010

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2010 16:09:07 -0500

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham
System. Please do not reply to this message. Use the contact information at
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Welcome to Handiham World!

Daisy book version of Handiham World Summer 2010 is released

AMIS is your friend - screenshot of AMIS Daisy reader

DAISY books provide spoken word audio that is connected to text. The Summer
Handiham World will soon arrive in regular print, but that isn't much good
to our blind members, except for the giving envelope that will be enclosed.
We are hoping that our members will help us out with a little extra this
summer so that we can keep our services coming. 

Now we are offering a Daisy version of the newsletter, and we think you will
enjoy it. The print edition of the newsletter doesn't have the complete set
of articles that this Daisy version has.  The reason is that a print
newsletter is limited to only 4 pages. We can make our Daisy version as long
as we want. 

Why should you use a Daisy book? Well, that is a good question.  You may
have been satisfied with cassette tape books for the past 30 years or more,
and the tapes played nicely in your Library of Congress audio book player.
Indeed, that technology has served our Handiham members very well over the
decades, but it has its shortcomings. Tapes would sometimes not be recorded
properly. Occasionally parts of the audio would be cut off when the tape
wasn't quite long enough. Once in awhile a tape would break and wind itself
around the capstan or rubber drive wheel in the player and really make a
mess. The cassettes themselves did not hold much program material, even in
the 4-track format used in LOC players. The audio quality was poor, and even
worse in 4-track mode where the tape speed was half the normal speed. If you
wanted to find a particular article or chapter, you either had to guess
which tape it might be on (a typical book had multiple cassettes) and which
side and track it might be on. This was seldom a big deal if one was
listening to a novel, but if you were reading some kind of a textbook or
reference book and wanted to find a particular topic, well, let's just say
you had your work cut out for you.

DAISY is an acronym that stands for "Digital Accessible Information System".
It is properly spelled in all capital letters, but generally when I write
articles I capitalize only the D so that Daisy production software will say
"Daisy" instead of spelling out each letter. In this article, I have mixed
both spellings. Maybe some of our readers who use Jaws or Window-Eyes will
let me know if those screen readers differentiate between the two spellings.
I do know for sure that the Daisy production software behaves as I said,
spelling out Daisy if all the letters are in caps.

That little trick is just one of many that I have learned in producing
accessible materials for our Handiham members. Even so, every time I work on
another production I learn something new. I could say plenty more about
that, but I still haven't told you about the advantages of reading a Daisy
book instead of a cassette tape book. A Daisy book can be played, which
means to say listened to, on the new Library of Congress players that are
currently being issued. You can also listen to a Daisy book on your
computer. Often times  the Daisy book can be simply downloaded via the
Internet, which allows the user to bypass the time-consuming process of
using regular postal mail. Your Library of Congress player can play the
Daisy book that you download to your computer if you wish. If you don't like
the Library of Congress player or you think it's too large to carry around
when you are going places, you can buy a commercial Daisy player that will
double as an MP3 player.

Since Daisy formatting includes the text of the book, you can use your
player to search for a term within the text and skip directly to that part
of the book. Or you can browse the book's contents and go to the section of
the book, say a particular article, that you want to read. There is no more
fumbling around with a box full of cassette tapes that get mixed up, since a
Daisy book can fit on a single USB cartridge or in a single folder on a
personal computer.

The audio quality of a Daisy book is very good to start with, and it stays
that way no matter how many times you play it. A Daisy book doesn't wear
out, break, and get tangled up like a cassette tape.

Are you ready to learn more?

How to get started:

You will need a DAISY book reader. You can easily read DAISY on your
computer, but you need a software program to do so.  AMIS is a free of
charge, open source DAISY book playback software. Version 3.1 is the latest
stable release of AMIS. You can view the release notes, learn the latest
news, or download AMIS by visiting Daisy.org:

Next, you will need to download the Daisy book, in this case the Handiham
World Summer 2010 newsletter itself. It is a zip file, and you will find it

Unzip the file with an unzipping utility (built into later versions of
Windows or freely available), and place all the files in a single folder.
Then use AMIS to open the book. The file you want AMIS to open is
speechgen.opf. All the files from the folder must be in the same folder for
AMIS to read the book.

I don't expect all of our readers and listeners to figure this out without
running into a few problems. As with anything that must be learned, being
patient is definitely a virtue. If something doesn't work the first time, go
back through the instructions and make sure you didn't skip some vital step.
The DAISY website has a frequently asked questions page just for AMIS, and
you can find it here:  <http://www.daisy.org/faq/amis> 

Hopefully you will find that reading Daisy books is both easy and fun. If
you haven't tried Daisy yet, this is your chance!  If there are any
volunteers out there who want to help us make books into Daisy format,
please let me know. It does not require a huge investment, and you may even
have all of the computing equipment you need. I am considering making some
tutorials and also teaching Daisy book use at our next Radio Camp session in
August, 2011.


Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham Manager  <mailto:wa0tda@xxxxxxxx> 



cartoon dog barking at postal carrier

Paul, W8IRT, writes:

Dear Pat,

Heading for Cape Cod & will run the Friday Handiham group from there on
August 6th, 13th and 20th. A change in coverage, as noticed on past
vacations. Works pretty good with antenna 100 feet from saltwater & a bare
mile from open Vineyard Sound. Hope the antenna is still up when we pull in.

Take care y'all, 73, W8IRT

Editor's note: The Friday slow speed CW net is 7.112 MHz CW, 09:00 - 12:00
ET, plus whatever time is needed to wrap up the last contact. If you are in
the 40 meter coverage area for New England, be sure to check in. 

And still more...

Several of our readers and listeners have written or called to ask about the
availability of more information on the Wouxun talking handheld radio. This
radio has significant blind accessibility features that include voice
readout of the display.  Buddy Brannan, KB5ELV, has made an excellent "quick
start" guide to this radio for blind users and posted it on the blind-hams
mailing list. We have converted the guide to Daisy book format, which you
can find here:

If you prefer to read the guide in plain text, we also have that available:

Some of you may be interested in what the blind-hams mailing list has to
offer. I'd use caution joining the blind-hams list if you are having trouble
keeping up with email. Although a very useful resource, it is an active list
with many posts. I use my email program to filter posts from blind-hams into
a separate folder, which collects hundreds of posts sometimes before I have
a chance to look at them. 

To subscribe, send mail to LISTSERV@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  with the command
(paste it!):



Do the bands seem crummy?

You are not imagining things and your antenna hasn't fallen down. The high
frequency bands are not in very good shape at all today, and the reason is a
coronal mass ejection from the sun that reached Earth in the past 24 hours.
Space Weather News at http://spaceweather.com reported that during the early
hours of August 1st, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded a complex
global disturbance on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Most of the sun's
northern hemisphere was involved in the event, which included a
long-duration C3-class solar flare. 

Check http://spaceweather.com for more information on the current situation.


Summer QSL Card Series Continues

WA0TDA QSL card showing Minnesota License plate

Sometimes it is fun to make your own QSL cards. Last week we looked at cards
made by K3BRJ.  This week, since no one sent me anything, I'll show you my
current QSL card, which is also a home-made design. I began with a digital
camera and my brand-new Minnesota automobile license plate. It was an
opportunity to get a nice, clear digital image of the WA0TDA plate that
arrived to replace my old ones, which were dented and covered with bugs -
and I don't mean Morse code bugs!  I took a digital photo and used Adobe
Photoshop to replace the content on the green stickers in the lower two
corners. On the actual plate, these stickers have the month and year of
expiration and information specific to the registered vehicle. Of course I
didn't need that stuff, so I replaced that information with something more
useful on a QSL card: my email address and grid square.  Since the license
plate needs to be mounted on the vehicle, it has four holes for bolts.  I
Photoshopped screw heads into those so that they wouldn't look like empty
holes. Now the license plate part was finished, so I used Microsoft
Publisher to create some text fields below the image.  These allow me at add
my full name and mailing address as well as information about the contact
that I made with the other station and a personal note. My personal note to
George reads: "Thanks for the QSO, George. My old cards were out of date, so
you are the first to get this brand-new design!"

This card was the first of this design, and I sent it to George, N0SBU.  I
don't typically send out a lot of cards, so it's a rare one!

If you have a card to share, send me a digital image or a paper copy and
include a few words about the card and a QSO that led to the exchange. I'll
share it with our readers and listeners.


This week @ HQ

*       Pat, WA0TDA, says: I will be at Camp Courage HANDIHAM HQ on
Thursday, August 5 working on station infrastructure as we continue our
remote base project. I will be out of phone and email contact for part of
the day.
*       George, N0SBU, says that the August audio tape digests are in the
*       Radio Camp will be in August next year, according to current plans.
I will post dates when they are available.
*       The Book & Tape Catalog has been updated for our members:

*       What about net controls? Tonight is net night!  The Wednesday
evening EchoLink net is at 19:30 United States Central Daylight time, which
translates to +5 hours, or 00:30 GMT Thursday morning during North American
Daylight Time. In the winter, the GMT schedule is +6 hours. Connect from any
Internet-enabled computer in the world, and come out on Twin Cities repeater
N0BVE on 145.450.  If there is no designated Net Control, there will be a
simple roundtable net. Inexperienced net control stations can quickly get in
over their heads. Of course everyone needs to start somewhere to get
experience in the first place, but the Wednesday evening net is not the
place to do so. We urge our experienced net controls to take this hour, or
else to at least participate in the round table. We are open to suggestions
about how to train and certify more net controls for the Wednesday evening
net. It is especially difficult to run this net in the summer, as many of us
are out and about doing other things. I can't emphasize enough how important
it is for the person in charge of the net to know how to do that job!  This
is a job where good intentions cannot substitute for being able to keep
track of stations checking in, directing them to keep the net on topic,
being able to take charge, and keeping the discussion both civil and fair,
so that everyone who wants to participate can be included. Although we don't
have any "official" net control list as some nets do, perhaps we should.
What do you think?   

EchoLink nodes:

KA0PQW-R, node 267582
N0BVE-R, node 89680
HANDIHAM conference server Node 494492 (Our preferred high-capacity node.)

Other ways to connect:

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

Stay in touch! Be sure to send Nancy your change 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 toll-free at 1-866-426-3442. Mornings are the best time to contact us. 


Supporting Handihams

graphic showing figure using wheelchair holding hand of standing figure

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 program.

.         Step one: Follow this link to the secure Courage Center Website: 
<https://couragecenter.us/SSLPage.aspx?pid=294&srcid=344> &srcid=344 

.         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 2010.


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

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, Handiham Manager

Handiham Membership Dues

Reminder: 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 renew:

.         Join at the usual $10 annual dues level for one year. Your renewal
date is the anniversary of your last renewal, so your membership extends for
one year.

.         Join for three years at $30.

.         Lifetime membership is $100.

.         If you can't afford the dues, request a sponsored membership for
the year.

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

.         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 disabilities. 
Call 1-866-426-3442 toll-free.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
<http://www.handiham.org/> .

Email us to subscribe:

Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at
www.handiham.org <http://www.handiham.org/> : 

.         Beginner

.         General

.         Extra

.         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: 

Nancy, Handiham Secretary: 

Radio Camp email: 


ARRL Diamond logo

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!

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 wa0tda@xxxxxxxx for
changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and
your new address.



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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 04 August 2010 - Patrick Tice