[handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 28 April 2010

  • From: "Patrick Tice" <wa0tda@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: <handiham-world@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 28 Apr 2010 15:44:08 -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!

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

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


FCC News - Seeking comments on amateur radio emergency communications drills

 <http://www.handiham.org/node/767> FCC Logo

Released: 04/22/2010.


(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



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


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:


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

.         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"

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&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 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:

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!


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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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.


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  • » [handiham-world] Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 28 April 2010 - Patrick Tice