Courage Center Handiham World Weekly E-Letter for the week of Wednesday, 22 May 2013
This is a free weekly news & information update from Courage Center Handiham System. Our contact information is at the end, or simply email email@example.com for changes in subscriptions or to comment. You can listen to this news online.
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Welcome to Handiham World.
2013 Hamvention® is a wrap!
Dayton Hamvention® was a great experience again, and it always surprises me how many people I meet there, including some fellow hams from Minnesota - and even though we might live in the same place on the map, it takes Hamvention to get us to actually see each other face to face. Others, like Hap, live in another State, but seem so very familiar because we hear their voices on podcasts or on the air so often. I enjoyed visiting with Hap and recording an interview for the RAIN Report.
I hope to have more photos and stories from Dayton in upcoming editions, so stay tuned.
Patrick Tice, WA0TDA
Handiham.org croaks and gets a makeover
What is it about computers that makes them so prone to going into a tailspin just when you need them the most? Or is that just Murphy's Law at work? Anyway, upon my return from Hamvention, I discovered that Handiham.org had gone down. It was the Drupal database again, something that had plagued the public front entrance to the website for quite some time. After the good folks at Network Solutions restored the site from a backup, I decided it was time to do some much-needed housekeeping and clean up the look and feel of the Handiham website. After all, it is where most people will learn about us and find out basic information about ham radio and exactly what it is that we do. At the same time, we must be careful to make the website as functional as possible for all users. Mobile users make up a greater proportion of website visitors than ever before, so that means that the website must be readable on mobile devices. Many people will use traditional desktop computers, so it goes without saying that the website layout must work for them as well.
I have come a long way in my understanding of website design over the years. Something that just puts your message on the web might have been good enough 10 years ago, but today we expect to not only deliver information to anyone seeking to learn about the program, but we also must be able to deliver program services to our members. When I work on website design I always consider how the page will resolve for our blind visitors and members who use screen readers or magnifiers. One happy consequence of the growth of mobile devices is that websites designed for mobile often work very well for screen reader users. They're less complicated and have a more straightforward flow of information.
While our Main website was out of service for a day or so, our members-only section was never affected, nor was the Handiham remote base website. The Handiham mailing lists were not affected. And, as you might expect, our backup website at www.handiham.net also remained in service.
I hope you find the new website interface easy to use. As we move forward I will be continuing to look for and clean up any problems that might show up. If you do run into any kind of accessibility issue, be sure to let us know about it. There is nothing worse from the standpoint of a website developer than to be thinking that everything is A-OK when in fact something is broken and users are too polite to let you know about it! For those of you who are technically inclined, our website runs Drupal seven with a "Corolla" theme that is based on Adaptive Theme. We hope this will make the website easy to use and accessible to everyone.
Recently I had an enquiry about software for Morse code learning, and here is what I came up with:
May I use the remote base stations to listen to W1AW?
Summer audio fun:
Power outage? Why not - everything else has gone sideways this week.
Yes, this week has been a doozy for things going wrong. Not only did we have the website problem, but several power outages – one of which really messed up remote base station W0ZSW. We don't have any especially bad or stormy weather today but that didn't stop the power company from treating us to a nice 15 minute break from work just before noon. Today's outage turned the ham shack/home office dark and left me scrambling to get the computer files saved in the time allowed by my uninterruptible power supply. The IRLP node went down, Echolink went bye-bye, and the microwave wouldn't work, so there was nothing to heat up lunch while the computer wasn't working. What a waste of time! I don't know how it is where you live, but here in the Twin Cities summertime seems to be the worst for power outages. Some are storm related and last only a second or two. It is easy to understand when a lightning strike causes the power to drop. What is not so easy to understand is why the power goes off on a fine day when there is no excessive air-conditioning load, no wind, and no apparent reason for any damage to the power grid. As I said, this happens much more frequently in the summertime. I am speculating here, but I think that there is construction that probably interrupts the power. The summer season is also construction season here in the upper Midwest. One nice service that our power company offers is the availability of an outage map on the Internet. Of course, this assumes that you have some way to access the Internet during a power outage, but with a smart phone, this is not a problem. Call me crazy, but I think power companies have an obligation to their customers that extends beyond just getting the power back on again as soon as possible. I would really like it if there would be some way to give me a heads up when a power outage is likely to occur, such as during major infrastructure changes to the power grid or the connecting up of a major new section of town or whatever. If the power company knows that maintenance is taking place, doesn't it make sense to let customers know that there could be a power outage within a given time window so that they can be prepared? I suggested this on our power company's Facebook page. I would like to get an auto dialed robotic voice message or a text message prior to an outage so that I can prepare. Sometimes, power outages are unpredictable. We know and understand that. But I just can't believe that every single one of these outages, especially the ones during fine weather, can't be covered by notification events.
Do I have a responsibility for some level of power protection as a homeowner?
Yes, of course I do! I did not lose my work on the computer because I have an uninterruptible power supply. An alternative would've been to work on a notebook computer that has its own built-in battery supply. I know that as an emergency communicator, I need a source of backup power should there be an extended outage. For that situation I have a gasoline generator. Since lighting is important, I keep LED flashlights in known locations. I keep the batteries charged in my handheld radio. While I am aggravated when the power company fails to deliver, I know that I have a plan to protect my computer files and to keep emergency power flowing to things like the refrigerator and the basement sump pump.
Plan ahead to be ready for a summer emergency!
Handiham Nets are on on the air.
Last Wednesday evening we ended up with a substitute NCS at the last minute - it worked out well, though - It's great when we can be flexible enough for the net to get picked up by a volunteer. This morning's net almost turned into an informal rag-chew and roundtable when no NCS showed up. It's one of those summertime things. People get busy during the fine weather just doing outdoor stuff, and getting on a net might not be convenient. Ironically, today was one of the first times in ages that I have actually showed up EARLY for the morning net. I was checking out the port triggering on the router and ran the Echolink application, so what the heck. No mistaking anything we have for WX today for "pleasant" or "Spring-like". It's a lousy, cold, rainy one up here - a perfect day to retreat to the ham shack!
Thanks to N4STF for picking up this morning's session and to KB3ZUK for grabbing the reins last Wednesday evening.
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? Will I guess we'll just have to tune in and listen!
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:
A dip in the pool
It's time to test our knowledge by taking a dip in the pool - the
AMATEUR RADIO question pool, that is!
E0A06 asks: Why are there separate electric (E) and magnetic (H) field MPE limits?
Possible answers are:
What do you think? Frankly, RF exposure is sort of an afterthought to many ham radio station owners - but it shouldn't be! The FCC is probably going to revise exposure standards, an indication that knowing about MPE and designing stations to be safe is a high priority. All of the choices above are correct, so answer D is the right one. When planning your station layout and antenna and feedline systems, it is (or should be) part of the planning process to measure for safe distances between your antennas and your family and the neighbors.
Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to comment.
This week @ HQ
The May DAISY digest for our blind members is ready for use, and...
New! The Icom IC-706M2G manual read by volunteer Lyle Koehler, K0LR, is in the manuals section in DAISY format. As with our other DAISY offerings, the book is in a single zip file that may be downloaded and unzipped to your computer for transfer to an NLS player or other compatible DAISY reading device. I have a report from a DAISY device user that the manual is very good and easy to navigate.
Radio Camp application packets are still available.
We will feature:
For a Radio Camp application, email Nancy at email@example.com or call her at 763-520-0512.
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 callsign 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.
Digital Talking Book Cartridge Catalog Number: 1-02610-00, Price: $12.00
Digital Talking Book Cartridge Mailer Catalog Number: 1-02611-00, Price: $2.50
Order Toll-Free: (800) 223-1839.
The Library of Congress NLS has a list of vendors for the digital cartridges:
Get it all on line as an alternative: Visit the DAISY section on the Handiham website after logging in.
Stay in touch
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 763-520-0512. If you need to use the toll-free number, call 1-866-426-3442.
Handiham Manager Patrick Tice, WA0TDA, may be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 763-520-0511.
Mornings Monday through Thursday are the best time to contact us.
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.
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.
That's it for this week. 73 from all of us at the Courage Handiham System!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for changes of address, unsubscribes, etc. Include your old email address and your new address.
Courage Center Handiham