Cretan Blog – August 2012

Hello again from a pleasantly mild Crete where we are currently having daily temperatures of around 32°C, although one day we did get to 37°C. However, just south of Heraklion they hit 42°C one afternoon. As I say, pleasantly mild.

As I write this, I expect that you are currently being saturated by the Olympics and I can honestly say that when the XYL and I planned our retirement and move, I think one of the first things on our list was to be away from the UK by the time the games happened. It must be hell over there, what with the traffic restrictions, overcrowded Tubes and busses and even restrictions on using your own HT.

My July copy of RadComic duly arrived albeit a few days late because – you will love this – our postman was on holiday for a week! Yorgos (George) our postman knows everyone in our village, Plaka, Pano Lumas and all places in-between. This is why you can just send me a letter that just says my name, our village, and Crete, and it gets here. This can be in English or Greek – anyway, he has a holiday and we get no post!

Although I had a quick look at RadComic on the web, it was good to be able to read it at my leisure including the answer by Don Beattie to a question about putting the magazine ‘on-line’. If you read his response, [Page 93 – Ed] you can see that again it is just a fudge as he does not answer the question fully, only saying that epublishing is an evolving technology and that it is not available to them (the RSGB).

I really do beg to differ. However, I will not go over the same ground as last month only to say that in response to the article on page 25 of the Aug RadComic, in mid-July I have wrote a considered argument to the ‘Strategy’ team and await a full and frank answer.

Foreign Language Dept:
Last time I had a small pop at the descriptions about wine and some of the feedback I received agreed with my observations. I do not speak French, hence the thing last time about Merlot which I still think should be spelled Merlow, however, here’s a better one for you.

We do a little bit of painting out here although Art is too long a word for what we actually do. Anyway, one thing you often see in art magazines are articles about people who paint outside. No problem with this but they call it ‘en plein air’ which translates as “in plain air”.

Why do they have to use a French phrase that looks and sounds exactly the same as it does in English? Could it be that, along with a lot of other stuff, these arty-farty people try to make things sound more important than they actually are or are they just trying to impress us? . . . Or is it all a load of Jason Pollocks?

Holiday Time.
We have decided to take a holiday. Although living on this Greek island we have decided to go to another one for a break. My Mate, JJ, ON3ND, is flying to Kos at the end of August and when the XYL gets back from the UK in early September, we are going to fly over and see him for a few days.

It should be an interesting experience as we have never met despite corresponding via email and letters for around 10 years. The other thing is that he speaks no English and, as mentioned earlier, I speak no French and I only leaned recently that JJ puts all my emails through a translator programme to get a rough idea of what I am on about.

But hey, it will not matter: we are Radio Amateurs; we speak a common language – CW.

Comment Posted:
My letter to the Strategy Group has been placed on-line for all to read but I have still not received a direct answer. The only change to my letter was that they did not allow my italics on a couple of words as I think this would emphasis the seriousness of my argument.

The RSGB ask for comments to this ‘Strategy Group’ but you are only allowed one comment and you cannot answer a comment that is placed in response to your initial thoughts or ideas. In other words, you can answer my ramblings and say what you like but I am not allowed to counter your argument.

It does seem a bit strange. Also, to view your own comment, you have to sign in as you would do to look at the members section, i.e. Call and password. However, there is no way to ‘log out’, you just close the comments page and that is it, or so you think. Should you then try and look at the RSGB web site after looking at the comments, you will be pestered to fill in your Call and password details again and again and again.

Dealing with the Radio Society of Greater Bedford is getting more and more frustrating . . .

Regarding the Above:
About a week after posting my comment on the Strategy Group thing, I received an email from Chris Page, G4BUE. He wrote to the RSGB Group along similar lines to my letter but having not seen my comments first.

He quotes the cost of joining the ARRL and receiving QST via email as being cheaper than joining the RSGB. You also receive QST the day it is published and do not have to wait at least 10 days before the RSGB allow it to be out on their web site.

I would like to think that the RSGB would get off their fat Freemason’s arses and actually do something about this . . .

Our Eagle Perch:
The carob tree at the bottom of next doors garden, which has been part of our boundary since we have been here, is no more. Our friendly Eagle will now have nowhere to perch when he visits.

The tree split last year and half of it fell away into an olive grove below us but the part that was left seemed healthy and produced loads of Carobs again this year. Then, for no apparent reason, last week, she fell over.

A couple of days later Elpida’s son arrived with his chain saw and began to remove the parts of the tree that were crushing the XYLs vegetables and Banana tree. It was quite sad looking at the fallen tree but by counting the rings we guess the old gal was over 200 years old.

RIP Haroupo.

Newsletter (and RadComic) Arrives:
The Spring edition of the newsletter arrived here on 18th July – not bad seeing as it was only posted in Loughton on the 16th! Question: Why are there 5, yes 5, count ‘em, pictures of the Editor in the Newsletter?

I must say here that what a diverse Club LEFARS is. Apart from an excellent Committee who seem to be able to organise anything, we also have people who are at the leading edge of Amateur Radio technology. Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum, some of us still mourn the loss of the EF50.

The article by Dave, ‘TAZ, about the Flex-3000 was excellent and is the sort of thing that should be in RadComic rather than just the ‘brochure reviews’ we get sometimes. It was interesting to read exactly what you have to do to get the beast working including having to buy extra stuff like this VLC (?) thing and setting up a ‘virtual com port’. This info is never mentioned by the Emporia who sell the rigs and, of course, never mentioned in the adverts.

All-in-all, an excellent article which gave us an insight into the new and complicated world of SDR.

However, as I am not a computer expert, a great deal of it went over my head (Sri Dave), things like ‘virtual com port’ and RSSID (What the hell is that?) were wasted on me. Also, Dave did not say how he set it up so that could see the ‘rig’ on one screen and his PSK QSO decoding on another because I can see no way of watching the ‘rig’ and your QSO with Vlad at the same time. I did not quite understand in the screen shot why the frequency showed somewhere way up the band but the display looks remarkably like a PSK waterfall, normally around 14,070.

Here I must admit to frightening my last remaining brain cell and downloading the software so I could see it in ‘Demo Mode’ but I could not get my head round how you could do simple things like tune the rig (with the mouse!) and then turn the volume down at the same time when the mouse is already being used to tune the thing.

Sri agn Dave, an excellent article but this modern stuff is not for me. Give me a rig with knobs on so that I can tune it and vary the bandwidth or the volume at the same time.

Reading Mr Editor’s Notes, I see he is asking if we would all like to go on-line to receive the Newsletter. What to do? I do like receiving the Newsletter in the mail but the cost of sending just three editions to me out here scrubs out my yearly subscription so I think I should opt for the pdf version. I will send the request to ‘admin’ and see what happens.

I also see from my email today, 18th July that one Member has received his August edition of RadComic already. Why so early? Pretty soon it will be like so many other publications where you get the Christmas issue sometime in September.

August RadComic duly arrived seemed a bit of a mish-mash to me. I know my eyesight is not what it used to be but I cannot be the only one who cannot see the silly little screen shots as shown in the Kinetic review. And why two articles on Sequencers? You don’t get any for years and then two come along at once.

Company Impressions.
I have only dealt with Nevada of Portsmouth once. This was at the London Radio Show some years ago where I bought a GP3 WARC band vertical. The salesman was G3SED who, to my mind was curt, verging on rude.

In the past 10 days I have had heard two things about Nevada which I find disturbing. First was when my friend enquired about a vertical and the cost of sending it to Belgium.

Not really wanting his business they quoted 50 quid postage! When he eventually got the same aerial from a company in Spain, postage was 16 quid. How can Nevada justify the difference?

As it happens, the following day our guests arrived and while chatting it transpired that a 2m Hand-held that was purchased from Nevada some 10 months before had stopped transmitting as the speaker Mic had failed. Emails went unanswered and it was not until a letter was send quoting ‘merchantable quality’ and ‘guarantee’ that any answer was received at all. After returning the rig for repair nothing was heard for several months. A phone call produced the response “Would you like it sent back?”

Not what I would call ‘customer orientated’!

Sign Off.
With entertaining guests, little actual operating has been done recently. I played for about 15 minutes in the IOTA but failed to work the local Club who clocked up over 3,000 QSOs in the 24 hours. This could put them in the top 5 or 6..

Of course, with guests here we have been out and about a great deal and at times have been ‘playing tourist’. When we went to Knossos we stood at one particular spot and told them this and that about the things we were seeing as we were told by Don the Curator of the Site. All very good except that when we turned round we had several Japanese tourists listening to every word and following us like we were some form of official guide!

Time to take the guests down the beach I think.

Yammas and as the man says: “Keep pounding the Brass”

73  Dick. XBN/9.

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