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Ham Radio Licenses Top 700,000, An All-Time High

John Goerzen Re:Computers aren't interesting anymore -- finally (358 comments)

I remember the days as a child playing with my electronics project kit from RadioShack. It seemed that it could do everything - burglar alarms, sirens, even simple radios. Even let you accidentally wire things up in a short and cause some batteries to burst...

It's been interesting to watch RadioShack. They morphed from the good place to get connectors, resistors, and fun things into a run of the mill phone and TV shop. Or did they?

Wired ran an interesting article called The Lost Tribes of RadioShack talking about a potential revival of the maker hobbies. I blogged about it too (Once, We Were Makers). There is one local franchise RadioShack that has a huge amateur section in the back, complete with cable by the foot, antennas, hams on staff, amazing service, etc.

What I'm trying to say is: You're exactly right. I used to love to tinker. I thought I didn't anymore, outside of programming. I learned last year, when I got my ham radio license, that I was wrong. Amateur radio is just Open Source in hardware.

There is no accomplishment in being in Kansas and talking to someone in Japan via the Internet or telephone. I'm sure I do this without even realizing it frequently. How about doing the same using only a $7 antenna and no third-party infrastructure at all? No satellites, no buried cables, no telephone or cable companies -- just my rig and the one in Japan?

I realize it's not at all unique to be able to do this among the amateur radio crowd, but it still gives me a thrill. I love it.

about 3 years ago

Ham Radio Licenses Top 700,000, An All-Time High

John Goerzen Re:Book for a newbie? (358 comments)

Yes. Well, in a sense, yes. The handbook is more a reference book. Giant, and frankly, overwhelming to a newbie. You need to know where to start. Even if the License Manual is a subset of the handbook, it will help focus on where to start (with an emphasis on the things needed to get the first license), help explain WHY people care about them (which a reference work won't), and also has some sidebars on what people do with their new licenses.

Having passed the tests and been active with the hobby, I have the handbook close by and never refer to the license manual anymore. BUT - when I first got started - it was with the license manual, and the handbook wouldn't have helped me much there.

about 3 years ago

Ham Radio Licenses Top 700,000, An All-Time High

John Goerzen Re:Book for a newbie? (358 comments)

You might try the ARRL Ham Radio License Manual. It covers the why, the how, and also teaches you everything you need to know for passing that first license exam.

about 3 years ago

Ham Radio Licenses Top 700,000, An All-Time High

John Goerzen Here's why to get involved with ham radio, and how (358 comments)

I've seen a lot of comments here ask "why bother, given the Internet?" That attitude kept me away from ham radio for years, too. I wrote up a bit about what changed my mind:


And here's a page with some information on how to get started:


I also recommend some books and exam practice sites on that page.

Incidentally, another aspect of amateur radio is packet radio - AX.25, which is a networking protocol similar to, but distinct from, the TCP/IP stack. Guess which OS has the best support built into the kernel? I've had a lot of fun with packet, both in its traditional and APRS (positioning beacons) forms.


about 3 years ago

Ham Radio Licenses Top 700,000, An All-Time High

John Goerzen Re:Not totally accurate (358 comments)

I got my tech and my general in July 2010, and my extra a few months later. I have seen NONE of this.

I've experienced the community as tremendously positive, supportive, and encouraging. Sure, I've had encouragement to learn CW -- which I'm working on -- but only as a "here are some other great things you can do if you take this step." Not a grousing, grumpy sort of thing.

I know there are that sort of people out there. Maybe the locals in Kansas are friendly. Maybe the thousands of QSOs (conversations) I've had on HF have somehow been randomly lucky. One person mentioned the grumps on 80m phone - that band has a reputation for attracting that type of people, so I simply avoid it most of the time. Problem solved.

about 3 years ago

The Decline of the Landline

John Goerzen Re:No surprise (435 comments)

Where is this cell phone with less downtime?

I can think of ONCE in the last ten years where a landline hasn't been working. And that because the entire town was knocked out due to a severed cable (and cellphones were knocked out too.)

Cell phone outages are a daily occurrence.

And what problems for the maintenance guy? It's two pieces of copper. What is mysteriously failing for you all the time?

Landlines, for me, Just Work.

more than 4 years ago

Preparing To Migrate Off of SHA-1 In OpenPGP

John Goerzen Re:Reencrypting Stored Secrets? (152 comments)

SHA-1 doesn't encrypt things. It makes a hash of them, to verify they haven't been modified.

There are no secrets encrypted with SHA-1 because SHA-1 doesn't encrypt things.

more than 5 years ago

Debian Switching From Glibc To Eglibc

John Goerzen Not Just for embedded devices (565 comments)

I think there is some shallow reading going on here.

eglibc has a number of features that are useful in general. It happens that embedded systems have a strong need for these features, but they are generally useful as well. I've discussed it with one of the Debian glibc maintainers, and he said that eglibc is basically a patchset atop glibc implementing new features and fixing bugs. I think of it similar to the relationship between go-oo.org and OpenOffice. Distributions have to fix these bugs anyway, because upstream won't. So why not adopt a standard patchset to do so collectively?

This has no implications for a change of focus away from the desktop or anything like that.

more than 5 years ago

Quality Open Source Calendaring / Scheduling?

John Goerzen Re:EGroupware, Thunderbird, Lightning (492 comments)

Forgot to add: Thunderbird+Lightning gives a very nice unified platform across Linux, Mac, Windows.

about 7 years ago


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