[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 17 July 2013

  • From: Patrick Tice <wa0tda@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 17 Jul 2013 13:06:35 -0500

*Courage Kenny Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 17
July 2013*

This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Kenny Handiham
System <http://handiham.org/>. 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: Pat with headset microphone & Extra Class License Manual from ARRL]
The Extra Class lecture series is on summer break.

So far, so good:  I have been able to complete 38 audio lectures on the
Extra Class and have been pleased to hear from Handiham members who have
found the series helpful and who have passed their exams. As we are in the
run up to Radio Camp, which begins with the campers arriving on Sunday, 28
July, we find ourselves prioritizing tasks that must be completed to make
sure that the camp session runs smoothly and that we are prepared.  The
lecture series is really fun for me to do and I miss making the weekly
audio, but each lecture takes much, much more time to prepare than the 30
or so minute MP3 file might seem to indicate. The best thing to do right
now is to place the series on vacation (or "on holiday" for those of you in
the British realm) so that we can concentrate on the camp session.

One thing for sure is that everyone gets really distracted from the usual
routine in the summer!  It is a time of family vacations, getting outdoors,
and for the kiddos - being out of school. It can become difficult to get
the usual things done when people are so busy, which is why many radio
clubs also take a summer break from regular meetings. One exception is the
Handiham Radio Club, which will meet at the upcoming camp session.  Since
we are an ARRL-affiliated club, we need to have a membership with 51% of
our club members also holding ARRL membership.  There are some huge
benefits to ARRL membership, so we urge our Handiham members to check it
out. Blind members can join ARRL for only $8 per year, which does not
include the print edition of QST, but the National Library Service has the
full text of QST (except advertising) available for qualified NLS members. NLS
services are free to qualified users who cannot read regular
and of course blind Handiham members can use our DAISY book digest to read
a selection of current publications.  I wouldn't be without my ARRL and
radio club memberships!  But don't take my word for it - continue reading
and check out the letter from Frank, N1UW, on our Bulletin Board.
*The dialog is heating up around digital print access.*

With the WIPO treaty agreed
moving forward, access to print media is on the radar screen for more
publishers. As always, there is a tug of war between security and
functionality - and that balance has yet to be reasonably defined.  By
"reasonably" I mean that digital print should always contain text that is
accessible to qualified users and that such text cannot be easily pirated
and shared.  As usual, if only it were such a simple problem as that!
Remember that sighted users must also be offered a compelling experience
while reading a digital book.  If a digital reading platform is too
complicated, slow to load, dependent on all sorts of drivers or external
processes that need to be updated, or that otherwise stands between the
reader and a good experience...  Well, that is a deal-killer, isn't it?
Prediction: Print magazines will be history in a decade.

Sound crazy?  It's not, because internet access is getting to be the norm
rather than the exception, and it is much more efficient to deliver
publications electronically than mechanically and physically. Amateur Radio
publications will take this route along with all other publications.

The current state of the art in digital publishing seems to default to
making digital books "pretty" to sighted readers with page turn animations
and swooshing page turn audio effects. Some publishing platforms include
dictionary lookup of any word you highlight, and all of them (as far as I
can tell) include a search function.  What is common to most is a lack of
accessibility to the embedded text for screenreader users.  Some platforms
(like Kindle) do include a text to speech capability if it is enabled by
the book's publisher.  ARRL has the Q & A format license books in the
Kindle store, and if memory serves me right, the text-to-speech is
enabled.  This feature is hardware-dependent, so you must have the correct
device. Some Kindles also support both a digital print and spoken word
Audible book format, synchronized to each other.  The Audible book feature
is an extra purchase if you are also buying the regular digital book, but
at lower cost to add the audio than if you bought the Audible version
alone.  Of course for this feature to be available the digital print book
must have an Audible book counterpart and the compatible hardware.  I have
purchased a novel and will give it a try on my Kindle Fire.

But back to the PC.  Most of us do at least some of our reading in front of
a personal computer.  The digital publishing platforms - to me anyway - are
a mixed bag.  On the plus side, they are available right at my desk, and
that includes back issues, resizable fonts to make reading easier,
clickable hyperlinks that take me to resources mentioned in the articles,
display advertising that also has hyperlinks to the manufacturer's
products, and no piles of old magazines to put in the recycling bin.  The
search function is a real time-saver.

But there are minuses to these PC publishing platforms, too.  The text,
although searchable,  is not available for reading to my blind friends who
use screenreaders.  The desktop computer format is often difficult for me
because I feel that I am at my desk working quite enough already and don't
need to spend more to time there doing recreational reading. I literally
get a pain in the neck!  And I don't like the fake book-look formats that
insist on trying to make the computer screen look like a printed page. What
value is added  having a computer screen look exactly like a printed page?
I suppose there are people out there who are frightened of anything new and
will need to be brought along slowly and gently into the digital age, but
to me this is the equivalent of disguising a Toyota Prius as a horse and
buggy!  Good heavens, a web browser is capable of scaling fonts to more
than two sizes and will allow the text to reformat and flow naturally to
the full width of the screen in whatever contrast or font you prefer.  You
don't need a mouse to drag the pages around so that you can read a full
paragraph and you don't need to mouse to the right place on the screen to
turn a fake page.  You don't need to load a third-party application that
may crash, either. Unfortunately, the simple HTML format is not secure and
anyone can up and lift the text to share it everywhere, and that's why we
have these locked-down formats.
*Locked-down or hard to use platforms cause user frustration and ultimate
abandonment of the technology.  *

*If you don't make it easy, people will say adios and move on to the next
thing. But unsecured platforms will pretty much assure that pirates will
steal the content.  What do we really need?  Here is my wish list for a
really good digital reading system:*


   It must be easy to use and available on portable devices as well as
   desktop computers while protecting the content from piracy.

   It must include accessibility built in and available to anyone who needs

   It must preserve context, making the content flow as the authors
   intended, and not cause the reader to come up against seemingly random
   snippets from callout boxes, tables, and the like.

   It must be cross-platform and compatible. The current system of
   proprietary readers and security systems results in consumers having to buy
   several devices and then trying to remember what book is on which device.

   It must be reasonably priced.

Did you notice that it does not need to look like a printed page?  Really,
it doesn't.  Trust me on this. I subscribe to a daily newspaper.  It comes
in a web edition and an exact replica of the printed paper.  The only thing
I ever look at in exact replica version is the comic page.  Seriously!
Everything - and I mean everything - else is easier to read in the HTML
version. HTML 5 is on the horizon <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HTML5> and
will work even better!

One thing that I would like is for the people who write the software for
digital readers to please, please seek input from blind users!  How many
decades has it been since the public sensibility and policy has demanded
that curb cuts and wheelchair ramps be installed in sidewalks and
buildings?  And yet in the digital realm we lag far, far behind in
accessibility.  Even worse, there are still clueless developers who "build"
totally inaccessible digital products right now, in 2013!

It doesn't make sense. Access needs to be more than an afterthought and a
workaround.  It needs to be in the blueprints before construction begins.
And it's good business, too.  With my demographic - aging baby boomers - we
are looking at a lot of folks who will need some assistive technology to
read books.  That's a big market, so why exclude it?
A radio evolves - and so can book platforms

I think we can all agree that as amateur radio operators, we are more
tech-savvy than most and are often able to make things work for us, even if
they are not built with access in mind.  On the other hand, there is a
limit to what can be done without built-in accessibility.  We know this
from using radio equipment over the years as technology evolved and allowed
for better accessibility. Consider the awesome Kenwood TS-990, recently
reviewed on the Active-Elements <http://www.active-elements.org/> website.
This radio does it all.  It incorporates speech accessibility right down
through the menu system, allowing a blind user to drill down through the
menu settings without sighted assistance.  Once things are set up, most
control changes will be made from the radio's front panel. Remember,
though, that this radio didn't just appear as the very first one of its
kind!  No, there were many other models that preceded it, and the
accessibility was initially not nearly so good.  It took a number of models
with upgrades to get where the TS-990 is today.  Think back to the
now-vintage TS-430.  No speech, but an easy to navigate front panel. The
TS-440 series was a game-changer with the optional VS-1 speech chip
installed, even though its speech was limited mostly to frequency readout.
Beeps for mode aided access, too.  The point is that as new models were
introduced, access slowly evolved.

Of course computers and digital text have been around for a long time too.
Why haven't digital books evolved to a highly-accessible format, given the
many iterations that they have experienced over this time?  The answer lies
in the quandary around the accessibility-security balance.  Locking down
content kills accessibility when it is not done correctly.  What is the
correct way to protect content while allowing accessibility?  Darned if I
know!  If you have the answer, share it with us, but one thing that I do
know is that fragmented digital publishing approaches that head in
different directions are not the answer.

Want to read the TS-990 review by Kelvin, M0AID?  Head for
www.active-elements.org  and locate the TS-990 review on the ‘Evaluations
and Reviews’ page, in the Kenwood section. I guarantee that the website and
review are fully-accessible!

Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Courage Kenny Handiham Coordinator
Practical radio

This week's practical radio tip is to try to buy "off the shelf" easily
found items to do some homebrew construction or repair projects. The local
farm supply store is a handy resource if you live in an area where
agriculture is nearby. Electric fence wire can be antenna wire.  Fence
insulators can live their lives as antenna insulators. Plastic irrigation
pipe can turn into a wire conduit that protects coax from critters and soil
acid. Such retailers always carry an impressive array of hardware and
clamps, too.

The local hardware store probably stocks plastic pipe and fittings.  These
can be turned into housings for dipole center insulators or baluns, or
both.  Some hardware stores even carry lengths of aluminum tubing.

Scraps of electrical wiring can be born anew as 2 meter vertical antennas.
Cut a 19-1/4" length and solder it into the center of a SO-238 connector,
then cut 4 20-1/4" lengths for radials, solder one to each of the four
mounting holes in the connector, bend them down and away slightly from the
plane of the connector, and you have a 1/4 wave ground plane antenna. Leave
a little wire loop at the top to allow you to pass a string through to hang
it up. Where can you find out how long to cut a radiating length for any
given frequency?  Try a Google search or the always-useful ARRL Handbook.

"But wait", you say. "I can't read the Handbook."

Ah, but you can.  My handbook is on my computer's hard drive as a
searchable PDF - and I could read it using the NVDA
screenreader<http://www.nvaccess.org/>if I needed to do so.  (I have
NVDA and I've tried it.) The book comes with
a CD right inside the back cover. You can install and enjoy a reference
copy on your computer and still have the physical book on your bookshelf.

You will have questions about materials - let's say wire that you might use
for antenna projects.  If it conducts, it can probably be pressed into
service.  You can find a discussion in the Handbook. Later today I'm
heading to Home Depot to grab a roll of mason line.  What do you think it's
for?  Hint:  Radio Camp is coming up on July 28.
Bulletin Board

[image: cartoon robot with pencil]
Building ARRL membership in affiliated clubsImproving your club’s ARRL
Membership Count

One of the requirements for being an Affiliated Club is that 51% or more of
your club members are also members of the ARRL.

Most clubs easily exceed this requirement but too many barely squeak by.
Many amateurs view ARRL membership as merely a magazine subscription. Many
do not have an appreciation for what the League does for not just ARRL
members but also for all radio amateurs. They also do not understand the
extended benefits and extra information available to them as members.  For
sure these are difficult economic times and even the low annual membership
dues are beyond the reach of some.  But more often than not, most hams are
not members because they haven't experienced first-hand the benefits of an
ARRL membership.

How can we help them see what's going on?

The home page of www.ARRL.org <http://www.arrl.org/> offers a 90-day guest
account...for free.  Make mention of this free guest account offer at your
next club meeting and challenge non ARRL members to sign up and give it a
try.  Remind them to go past the home page and explore the product reviews
and technical information that is not generally available. Will this help
increase your ARRL membership count?  I don't know, but it doesn't cost
anybody anything to take advantage of the guest membership offer and it
just might make a difference in one ham's mind.

73, Frank Karnauskas, N1UW
MN Affiliated Club Coordinator

*Resource:*  Create an on line guest account at ARRL:
Radio Camp Handiham Club Meeting Agenda

[image: Transceiver with braille book]

Radio Camp week: The exact date and time are still open.

   - Call to order by President Ken Silberman, KB3LLA.
   - Roll call.
   - Elections.
   - Radio nets discussion to be lead by Net Manager Matt Arthur, KA0PQW.
   - Encryption petition discussion lead by President Ken Silberman, KB3LLA.
   - Remote Base report and discussion to be lead by Handiham Manager Pat
   Tice, WA0TDA.
   - EmComm discussion to be lead by Phil Temples, K9HI.
   - Old business.
   - New business.
   - Adjournment.

Handiham Nets are on on the air daily.

If there is no net control station during any scheduled net time, just go
right ahead and start a round table discussion.

[image: TMV71A transceiver]

*We are scheduled to be on the air daily at 11:00 USA Central Time, plus
Wednesday & Thursday evenings at 19:00 USA Central Time.  A big THANK YOU
to all of our net control stations!  What will Doug, N6NFF, come up with
for his trivia question tonight?  I guess we'll just have to tune in and
listen!  Tune in and see how you do with the question this week, or just
check in to say hello. *

*We maintain our nets at 11:00 hours daily relative to Minnesota time.
Since the nets remain true to Minnesota time, the difference between
Minnesota time and GMT is -5 hours.  The net is on the air at 16:00 hours
GMT.  *

*The official and most current net news may be found at:
http://www.handiham.org/nets *
*A dip in the pool*

[image: Pat shows off his new Plantronics USB headset!]

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

*Let's go to the General Class pool and examine a question about the 10
meter band:*

G1A11 asks, "Which of the following frequencies is available to a control
operator holding a General Class license?"

Possible answers are:

A. 28.020 MHz

B. 28.350 MHz

C. 28.550 MHz

D. All of these choices are correct

Let's say you are acting as a control operator at a club station or at one
of the Radio Camp stations. You already hold an Extra Class license, and a
General Class licensee comes up to you and asks if it would be okay to use
the radio on the 10 meter band.

Think about the proper response:

   1. "Sure, go ahead!" or
   2. "Yes, I will help you as a control operator."

Unless they need help running the radio, you can leave them alone to
operate on 10 meters.  The reason is that General, Advanced, and Extra
Class licensees all have the same privileges on 10 meters, which means that
the correct answer to the pool question is D: All of the above, and which
of course also means that you can allow the General Class licensee to
operate the station independently on that band.

Please e-mail handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx to comment.
This week @ HQW0EQO & W0ZSW are on line.

[image: W0EQO station in the server room at Courage North.]
*Both stations are on line as of this morning. We are not expecting any
outages, and band conditions are improving lately.

Summer in the Upper Midwestern USA - It means higher absorption on 75
meters and a healthy dose of thunderstorm static as the dew point climbs
and storms roll through Minnesota. The 160 m band is all but useless this
time of year but you may find some stations on after sunset - provided that
there are no lightning crashes wiping out the band! Absorption due to solar
radiation is so high during the long daylight hours that the band is
virtually dead, with only ground wave contacts possible. Meanwhile, the
PICONET soldiers on, keeping its summer schedule on 3.925 MHz on the 75 m
band. Yes, there can be days when the thunderstorms make for a high noise
level, but generally the absorption is not as bad on 75 m as on 160 m and
some daytime contacts are possible. You will find this friendly net on
between 0900 and 1100 CDT every day but Sunday. There is an afternoon
session on weekdays from 1600 to 1700 CDT. Most of the net control stations
are in northern Minnesota, so W0EQO is your best bet for a solid contact if
you are using it as a remote base station. There is information about our
remote base stations at http://handiham.org/remotebase. The 40 m band is
generally reliable summer and winter, throughout the solar cycle. The
MIDCARS net on 7.258 MHz can be heard most days and provides road and
travel reports, especially from mobile stations. It is in the Midwest.
Reports of activity on the 6 m band are still common as good VHF
propagation continues into July - a nice surprise! Listen on 50.125 MHz or
try some beacon frequencies and see what you can hear. A comprehensive list
of 6 m beacons is at the G3USF website:

*Practice Exams:*

   - *Did you know that we have a listing of practice exam websites?  Here
   it is:
   http://www.handiham.org/drupal2/node/28 *

*The July 2013 
for our blind members is ready for use in the DAISY section after
you log in.  NLS cartridges for July have been mailed. *

*QCWA Journal for July has been

*August 2013 QST in DAISY will be available on Friday in the members
section. *

* *

*[image: Pat holding up NLS digital cartridge and mailer]
Don't care to download via computer? This digital cartridge and mailer can
bring you Handiham audio digests each month, plus we have room to put the
audio lecture series or equipment tutorials on them, too!*

   - *If you have trouble logging in, please let us know.  *
   - *All Daisy materials are in zip file format, so you simply download
   the zip file you need and unzip it so the Daisy book folder can be accessed
   or moved to your NLS or other Daisy player.*
   - *Tip: When in the Daisy directory, it is easy to find the latest books
   by sorting the files by date. Be sure the latest date is at the top. The
   link to sort is called "Last Modified".  *
   - *You can also find what is on a web page by using CONTROL-F.  This
   brings up a search box and you can type a key word in, such as "July".  You
   may find more than one July, including 2012, but you will eventually come
   across what we have posted for July 2013. *

*Interested in the VE program and becoming a volunteer examiner? The new
ARRL VE Manual 2013 version is available in beta Daisy format with complete
text and 
Download 74 MB zip file and unzip to play on NLS digital player.

   - CQ for June is now available for our blind members in the DAISY
   section.  We do not have the July issue ready yet.
   - Our thanks to Bob, N1BLF, Jim, KJ3P, and Ken, W9MJY, for reading this
   month.  Look for these DAISY materials in the members section.

*Digital mailers are important: *If you do mail a digital cartridge to us,
please be sure that it is an approved free matter mailer. Otherwise it will
quickly cost us several dollars to package and mail out, which is more than
the cost of the mailer in the first place. We don't have a stock of
cartridges or mailers and not including a mailer will result in a long
delay getting your request back out to you.

*DAISY audio digests are available for our blind members who do not have
computers*, 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 call sign 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,
Inc. <http://www.aph.org/>

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

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

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

The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital

Get it all on line as an alternative:  Visit the DAISY section on the
Handiham website after logging in.
Stay in touch

[image: Cartoon robot with cordless phone]

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 Program Coordinator 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.

The Courage Kenny Handiham Program 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.

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 Handiham Weekly E-Letter in MP3
format <http://handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3>
Email us to subscribe:

That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Kenny Handihams!
Coordinator, Courage Kenny Handiham Program
Reach me by email at:

Nancy, Handiham Secretary:

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-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
handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  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, 17 July 2013 - Patrick Tice