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 the end, or simply email handiham@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx You can also listen to the content online: MP3 audio stream: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.m3u Download the 64 kbs MP3 audio to your portable player: <http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3> http://www.handiham.org/audio/handiham.mp3 Get this issue as an audio podcast: <http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham> http://feeds.feedburner.com/handiham _____ Welcome to Handiham World! When did "anything goes" become acceptable? blackboard with ABC on it Today we are going to try something completely different. I want you to relax and close your eyes and empty your mind of all of the worries and details of what you are doing right now. Turn down the radio, turn off the television, and prepare to take a trip backward in time. Now, I don't want to admit that I am "old", but I have been an amateur radio operator for quite a few decades -- since 1967, in fact. For me, this trip back in time will take me to those teenage years in the 1960s when amateur radio first appeared on my horizon and ultimately grabbed my attention with its promise of communications technology and cutting-edge connections to science and learning. These were the days of the great space race when science and technology were really cool things and everyone knows that teenagers go for the "cool" stuff. Gee, today I'm not sure the word cool is even so cool anymore. Some of you will be older than I am and will be able to remember World War II and the exciting and interesting role communication played during those years. Others will be younger but will still be able to remember a time when they became fascinated with amateur radio and its promise of civic engagement in public service communications, new and exciting technologies, and a great way to make new friends. One thing that will be common to all of us traveling backward in time today and remembering those first days of fascination with amateur radio will be a good feeling about those who helped us to learn amateur radio and the civil and friendly nature of the amateur radio service. Sure, there may have been more rules about Morse code and keeping a log book, but the more important consideration was the fact that the amateur radio bands were by and large a safe place for a teenager to hang out, for a kid to learn basic electronics, and even for a grandma to work DX. In fact, no matter how old you are you can probably remember kindergarten or your first few grades of elementary school and how you learned basic civil behaviors like sharing, being polite, not talking while others are talking, and what is and what is not appropriate language and behavior. Your teacher would certainly not allow you to wear a cap in the classroom or get up and start running around during a history lesson. If one of your classmates let loose with a swear word, even a mild one, it would certainly result in a trip to the principal's office and some sort of punishment. Oh, how we hated to stay after school on a sunny Spring day while the rest of our classmates headed out the school door to enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Can you guess where this little essay is going? Well, I have to bring you back to today and reality. Yesterday I was tuning around on the HF bands. Propagation has been rather poor these last few days and I was anxious to find out if there was something wrong with my station after I had been away on vacation for a couple of weeks. You never know; perhaps a feedline had gone bad or something had happened to the antenna system. Anyway, in the course of my travels up and down the HF spectrum I came across a conversation on the 20 m band. As is often the case, I could hear some of the stations on the frequency but not others. Listening for a while allowed me to find out whether propagation conditions allowed communication to the east and west coasts from my location in Minnesota. It turned out to be a more or less informal roundtable net without a formal net control station. In this kind of a situation, stations just take turns and remember who is next in the roundtable discussion. It generally works pretty well in a small group situation where all of the stations can hear each other. Of course I would not consider entering this roundtable myself, because I could not hear at least two of the other stations, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to listen along for awhile to see if propagation conditions would change. That certainly proved to make for some interesting listening. One of the stations started to go on what I could only describe as a rant about former VP Al Gore and how terrible he is and what a liar he is, and on and on and on. Another station picked up on that theme and spiced it up with several derogatory words that I can only say would not be acceptable in polite company -- and that certainly would have gotten him sent to the principal's office for detention had he been in Mrs. Cunningham's third-grade class. Of course at this point my ear was glued to the speaker. How bad could this train wreck of a QSO possibly get? It wasn't long before I found out. The roundtable continued along these lines of character-bashing and complaining with nary a single positive thing to say. In due course, one of the stations started tearing into President Obama, saying, "I won't even call him president; just Obama." But wait, folks -- that's not all. This poor guy got himself so worked up about how awful President Obama is that he dropped the proverbial "F-bomb". Mind you, this is all going out on the air for anyone and everyone with a short-wave receiver to hear. No one in the roundtable group complained about this jeremiad and inappropriate language, at least as far as I could tell. It seemed like everyone in the group was like-minded, joining together in their celebration of stupid, boorish behavior. Okay, so that's bad language being used on the air. My wife and I both drive and since we are often in the car together, we observe other drivers and their behavior. We have developed a theory about bad drivers: "When they're bad, they're bad." What this means is that when we see a driver failing to signal or wandering around the road while using a cell phone or some other careless behavior, it is also highly likely that that same driver will exhibit bad behavior across the driving spectrum. For example, that same inattentive driver is more likely to blow a stop sign if they fail to signal and wander back and forth across the driving lane. "When they're bad they're bad." This same concept applied to the guy in the roundtable who dropped the F-bomb while trashing the President. He went on and on and on talking and talking even though band conditions were changing and the other stations in the roundtable complained over the top of him that they were only getting every third word or so. An operator who has one egregiously bad habit is more likely to exhibit other undesirable and perhaps illegal behaviors on the air, such as failing to comply with identification requirements as set forth in Part 97. When they're bad they're bad. As part of our ongoing operating skills review, I think we need to not only revisit the necessity to comply with basic station identification rules, but we also need to recall a time long ago when we were taught in elementary school to be nice to each other and play well together. Courtesy, respect, thoughtful consideration of other people's feelings -- all of these things are basic to a civil society and good communications skills. Please don't get me wrong; I am not saying that no one should discuss politics or political figures on the amateur radio bands. What I am saying is that respectful civil language is called for at all times when we are using the shared resource of the amateur radio spectrum. Anyone could be listening. Furthermore, coarse, rude, or inflammatory language demeans and degrades the amateur radio experience for all of us -- even for those who were participating in that ghastly roundtable on 20 meters. A coarsening of language pulls everyone down and makes it more difficult to have an honest discussion about any topic. I don't care what your politics are or what your religious or other personal preferences might be. When I first got started in amateur radio, I read and heard from others of the time that it was always best to stay away from topics like sex, religion, or politics while on the air. Of course times have changed. Commercial talk radio and cable television news channels cross over into territory where we don't want to go. Bad language and insulting and demeaning comments along with sexual innuendo might have found their way into these other services, but they are still not welcome in the amateur radio service. If you want to talk about politics, there is no rule against your doing so. If you want to talk religion, you can do that as well. The thing to remember is that as an amateur radio operator you have an obligation -- a duty, if you will -- to maintain the amateur radio bands as a place for anyone to safely visit for a listen. Political discourse can be polite and civil. Name-calling and bad language will only ruin the bands for everyone else. So that is my operating skills lesson for today. Think before you speak and always be polite and civil even when you disagree with someone else. Share the bands and remember that children or newcomers to the short-wave bands may be listening anywhere and at anytime. Always be kind and helpful. And won't you please use your callsign? Use it every 10 minutes during a conversation and at the end of a series of transmissions to comply with the legal requirements, but use it even more than that to help avoid confusion about who is talking and when. When I teach the Technician class for my local radio club, I tell these new hams to be, "Use your callsign often -- you won't wear it out." Patrick Tice, Handiham Manager wa0tda@xxxxxxxx _____ FCC News - Seeking comments on amateur radio emergency communications drills <http://www.handiham.org/node/767> FCC Logo Released: 04/22/2010. PUBLIC SAFETY AND HOMELAND SECURITY BUREAU ANNOUNCES COMMENT AND REPLY COMMENT DATES FOR THE NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING IN THE AMENDMENT OF PART 97 OF THE FCC'S RULES REGARDING AMATEUR RADIO SERVICE COMMUNICATIONS DURING GOVERNMENT DISASTER DRILLS. (DA No. 10-684). (Dkt No 10-72 ). Comments Due: 05/24/2010. Reply Comments Due: 06/07/2010. Contact: Jeffrey Cohen at (202) 418-0799 or Zenji Nakazawa at (202) 418-7949 http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-684A1.doc http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-684A1.pdf http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-684A1.txt _____ ARRL website works great Several of our Handiham members have taken the time to try out the revised ARRL website at www.arrl.org so that they could write to me and let me know how the site works for users of assistive technology. Here are a couple of representative comments * Linda, N7HVF, writes : It seems to work great. I looked up my call sign, and it had some good information. You arrow down until you find the topic you want and then hit enter. I was concerned if it works with JAWS and it does. * Ken, KB3LLA, writes: I just took a look at the site. It seems to be accessible. I do like that you can search for a ham by either call sign or by name in the same box. Couldn't find our club though. In the store, some of the items were links but didn't read as links. They were read by JAWS but didn't say "link" when the virtual cursor landed on them. I was still able to click on them. I couldn't find a sitemap, which I liked because I could list all of the links on the website in the JAWS-links list box. Another big change that I noticed when browsing the new website myself is that there is no text-only version available, and that seems to be a trend in websites since the browsers are so user-configurable for accessibility. It is easy for a low-vision user wanting larger fonts to simply tell the browser to increase the font size, ignore colors, etc. I have tested www.arrl.org in Firefox and the text enlarges properly without overflowing into the photos as sometimes happens with poor web design. Voice input computer users (think Dragon Naturally Speaking) will also want to have accessibility via voice commands. I've done some preliminary testing with Dragon and it looks like the site is navigable. The new ARRL site is certainly attractive and user-friendly. I have tried using Google to search for some of the information that used to be available on the old ARRL website. When you do this, as ARRL has already warned, you may come up against a "page not found" message. This is to be expected because it will take Google a while to find and catalog all of the new pages on the website. Presently there are many pages still listed in Google searches that refer to resources that are no longer on the Internet. Let me give you an example to show you what I mean. On the new ARRL website there is plenty of valuable information about affiliated radio clubs. This information is found at: http://www.arrl.org/find-a-club. I know that because I went to the new ARRL website and navigated to the section about radio clubs. However, if I had gone to Google and searched for "ARRL big club list", I would have been taken to a "page not found" message. Simply going to Google and putting in "ARRL big club list" used to be my favorite way of quickly finding the list of clubs. With the new ARRL website structure, that old page no longer exists -- except in the memory of Google, at least for now. In due course Google will have re-indexed all of the ARRL website pages correctly and that will make the Google searches more accurate. Until then, if you are having difficulty finding something on the ARRL website, try the search box directly on www.arrl.org rather than using Google. _____ DX spotting with accessible software A few weeks ago I got an inquiry from a guy who was blind but not a Handiham member about whether there was any blind-accessible DX spotting software. For the life of me, I couldn't think of any nor could I find anything in a search on the Internet. Yes, I knew that Ham Radio Deluxe does have a DX spotting feature, but I hesitate to recommend that software to a blind user, especially someone I don't know, because it is such a full-featured software that it can be rather daunting for a screen reader user to figure out. To this day I still hear from blind users who say HRD is not accessible or only somewhat accessible while others, presumably who are able to use their screen reading software at an expert level, to say that HRD is blind-accessible. In other words, it pretty much depends on the ability of the user to take advantage of all of the features of today's modern screen reading software. But that doesn't really get me any closer to a relatively simple DX spotting program. I decided to ask on the blind-hams mailing list, where Kevin, K7RX, bailed me out by suggesting XMLog. Of course! Even though I had recommended XMLog many times as a simple, standalone blind-accessible logging program, I had forgotten about its DX spotting feature. Indeed, this excellent free software does a good job as a DX spotting tool. You can find it at: <http://www.xmlog.com/> http://www.xmlog.com/ _____ Quick Review: Sabrent USB 2.0 Digital HDTV Tuner for PC By Ken Silberman, KB3LLA The tuner is just a fat USB stick with an F connecter on one end and a USB on the other. The hardware was recognized, and the software installed pretty easily. I had some trouble with the software installation, where I deviated from the instructions, primarily because the writers' first language was not English. A blind person can independently install the hardware and software. The software displays two windows, the video window and a control window of buttons. You alt-tab between them with JAWS. The buttons are unlabelled graphics, but I don't know how much or if I'll need them because most of the controls are in fully accessible menus and submenus under the applications key. In any case, the graphics can be labeled with sighted assistance if that becomes necessary via the JAWS graphics labeler. I'm getting stations. JAWS reads the call sign of the stations and which HD channel it is: HD1, HD2, etc. The screen is frozen. I think that this is because the little back-of-the-set antenna, that is provided with the unit, isn't very good. I'll have to get a better one and try again. Consequently, I haven't tried the remote control yet. It is just a thin, square unit with a matrix of buttons. I think that one could learn them, or you could list their functions in an Excel spreadsheet. Of course, one could always use the provided remote to program one of those talking remotes. The Surfboard, I believe, is the name of the talking remote that I have. I haven't seen the station grid, probably because of the poor reception. It's not locking onto anything. The box comes with the tuner with USB cap, telescopic antenna and antenna cable, software on a mini CD, USB cable, and print instructions. I think that this thing is going to be great once I get a better antenna. _____ Out there Anne, K1STM TIPSnet Manager, writes: In a letter to Connecticut hams, our Section Manager asked us to tell all a favorite ham radio story that means a lot to us. Yes, John, the TIPSnet mailing list is too quiet, so let's tell everyone a story or happening that means a lot. Most of you know how John and I met and became a couple so I won't go there and bore you again. I will however tell you a little something that happened to me while living in Willimantic, CT and before I met John. I was very active in the National Traffic System and handled many messages. One evening I took a message to deliver to a woman from someone in Japan. Since I handled many messages from our service people to families I didn't give it much thought as I called to deliver the message. The recipient was not home so left it with another person. A few days later, the recipient called me and said something like, "You have no idea how much that little greeting meant to me. I hope someone does something for you today as nice as you did for me." Every time I get frustrated with something ham radio related I think of that experience and know we touch people in many and important ways. I hope my inbox gets full of your little stories! You can fill up Anne's inbox with your favorite ham radio stories by emailing k1stm@xxxxxxxxxxxx TIPSnet is on every Tuesday and is carried on the Handiham Echolink conference server. More at http://www.tipsnet.org/. _____ Blank sun There are no Earth-facing sunspots today, bringing the current stretch of spotless days to 13. More at: http://www.spaceweather.com _____ This week @ HQ * Ken Silberman, KB3LLA, gives us an audio introduction to the new National Library Service digital player. Members log in and head for the NLS Digital Player directory in the manuals section, or else just navigate to the Audio This Week page. * Bob Zeida, N1BLF, has completed the May 2010 Worldradio audio digest for our blind members. * We have also finished reading the May, 2010 QST audio digest and Ken Padgitt, W9MJY, has completed the May 2010 Doctor column from QST for our blind members. Handiham members who use adapted audio can log in to members only for the digest. If you qualify for National Library Service audio books, you can get the entire issue of QST, once the issue is read and cataloged. . Shipping address for Handihams: Our shipping address is different than our mailing address, though we can still get packages and mail at either address. The thing is, it is much, much easier if packages, such as equipment donations, are sent directly to our headquarters office. This is the same address where Radio Camp will be held. Camp Courage Handiham System 8046 83rd Street Northwest Maple Lake, MN 55358-2454 Please don't call the Camp Courage number to reach Handihams. The phone at the main Camp Courage office for all departments is (320) 963-3121. However, we do not always get phone messages left at that number in a timely manner, so if you wish to leave a phone message, be sure to call: Pat: 763-520-0511 Nancy: 763-520-0512 Nancy and I will get your calls or voicemails at those numbers no matter where we are working. We are on Twitter! Look for us on Twitter by searching for "handiham". We invite you to follow us. Handiham web page posts are now "tweeted" automatically! 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. Wednesday Echolink net news - Net time is new for GMT, now that we are on Daylight Time. Wednesday evenings the Handiham Echolink net is on the air. Please join us and check in or simply listen in, as you see fit. We are on the air Wednesday evenings at 19:30 hours Minnesota time (7:30 PM) or GMT: Thursday morning at 00:30 Z. _____ 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 <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 patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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 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 Nancy at: 1-866-426-3442 or email: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Handiham members with disabilities can take an online audio course at <http://www.handiham.org/> www.handiham.org: . Beginner . General . Extra . Operating Skills That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System! Pat, WA0TDA Manager, Courage Handiham System Reach me by email at: patt@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Nancy, Handiham Secretary: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Radio Camp email: radiocamp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx _____ 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. . By wa0tda at 04/28/2010 - 20:36 . Login <http://www.handiham.org/user/login?destination=comment%2Freply%2F769%23comm ent-form> to post comments . Printer-friendly <http://www.handiham.org/print/769> version . Send <http://www.handiham.org/printmail/769> to friend _____ Courage Center Handiham System 3915 Golden Valley Road Golden Valley, MN 55422 E-Mail: hamradio@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Toll-Free telephone: 1-866-HANDIHAM (1-866-426-3442) FAX:(763) 520-0577 Be sure to put "Handihams" in the FAX address! We look forward to hearing from you soon.