Cretan Blog – December 2011

Hello again from a pleasantly mild Crete, although it has been a bit wet and windy at times. Overall though, the past month has been quite peaceful as, apart from there being no tourists about, the XYL went back to the UK for 10 days!

So, the votes have been counted and the Yes Party won. If you did not vote, for whatever reason, you cannot really complain about what happens in the future. Personally, I have a range of issues about the whole saga from beginning to end and, despite what was said at the EGM about being more open and consultative I feel that most of what will be said behind closed doors will still not be made public, even though the space is being made available in RadComic for updates and reports of what is going on.

On the evening of the EGM a notice appeared on the RSGB Website giving the voting result and a couple of statements. The last paragraph of the notice said that on the Website on Monday there would be a report of the informal discussions that were held during the afternoon of the EGM.

I was quite looking forward to this, except that, on Monday afternoon, just two lines appeared reporting what was said by a couple of Board Members. Nothing at all about what the normal Members said or had asked.
Not really sure that they have fully adopted the idea of being ‘Open and Honest’ somehow.

I said some time back that a lot of what I heard and read from the powers that be at the RSGB was total ‘Management Speak’, and after seeing the PowerPoint transcripts for the EGM, I can now say for certain that it is all Management Gobbledegook. What with: ‘USP’, ‘Foot-fall’, ‘MoU’, ‘A Content Management System’ and the rest, they just seem to be trying to confuse us with their waffle. I have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and I’m sure that most of the Members have no idea either, so why do they do it? . . .

RSGB accuracy? No, this is not about financial skulduggery, but about the accuracy of what we hear on GB2RS or read in the columns in RadComic. Imagine then you are in the CQ-WW SSB Contest, you have spent most of Saturday night on 160 working loads of stations and then you hear on the RSGB news on the Sunday morning that the bands used in the contest are from 3.5 to 28Mc/s only.

The CQ people (not my favourite bunch) run the contest from Top Band to Ten, and I am amazed that not one person at the RSGB even bothered to check the rules of such a big contest before giving out the incorrect information, not only on GB2RS, but also on the RSGB web site and in the ‘Sports Radio’ bit of RadComic as well – I know it may only be a small detail but just goes to prove that, as I have said before, no one seems to care anymore at the Radio Society of Greater Bedford (or should that be Berlin?) . . .

Getting on the Internet:
Regular readers will know that where we live is a bit out of the way and that a Broadband connection is not possible via land-line and so we visit an I/net Cafe a couple of times a week down in Elounda. A friend in the village said back in June, that he could get an I/net connection via a ‘Dongle’ from Vodaphone but his signal strength varied between S1 and S5. He was going to pop in and try it out at our house to see if it would work but as we are a few hundred feet lower than he is, we thought the chances would be pretty slim.

Anyway, then summer arrived and we had several visitors and things got forgotten until late in September when my Sister-in-law was sitting on the sofa using her phone. She was downloading her emails and searching for the weather back in Cornwall. Seems she could get a decent signal via Cosmote and so we again investigated the possibility of using a Dongle thingy on our laptops.

It would appear that OTE (pronounced Otay), the Greek equivalent of BT, have been doing a lot of upgrading over the past three months and we are now able to get a 3G signal. So in October a Dongle thingy was acquired and low and behold we have t’internet from the house! We are not sure of the speed of connection but from just checking and sending emails, things look ok and it will do us. This is costing us €30 a month for a 5GB limit on a Pay-as-you-go scheme which is probably more expensive than a similar plan in the UK but the XYL tells me that using the I/net Cafe in Elounda was costing us over €60 a month.

It seems that the Wi-Fi was free – but the beers and coffees were not!

microHam CW keyer
Purchased a microHam CW Keyer a few weeks ago. Well, to be honest I sent the cash off to Wimo in Germany at the beginning of the month and they despatched the Keyer by DHL on 7th November. It finally arrived here on 25th! – So apparently DHL really does indeed stand for Drop it, Hide it, Lose it!

Anyway it is basically a Winkey and I had hoped to use it in contests with the N1MM software as it would allow me to change bands on the rig and have the logging software change bands at the same time. That was the plan. I spent several days shouting, swearing and throwing things about the shack as I could not get the beast to do anything but just sit there . . . Then Dimi, SV9COL, gave me a call and he went through the complete set up with me.

Over 90 minutes later we had it up and running, well, sort of, as microHam software does not include the new Kenwood TS-590 so, although I can now get N1MM to send CQ and my reports, it cannot follow my band changes. It also does not remember the settings for the speed control, and assumes that I always want to send and receive everything at 40 WPM!

I await further info from Josef, OM7ZZ, as to how to overcome these problems. In the meantime, if you were even thinking about getting a microHam CW Keyer, unless you are a computer expert, with degrees an’ all, can understand virtual ports and handshaking, I would seriously advise against it . . .

Fur coats for UA
Now, here’s another ‘Not A Lot of People Know That’ thing.
Yes, I know it is Winter and cold but just pretend for a moment that it is July or August, you are in Crete for your holiday, the sun is shining and it is about 35c in the shade.
So what do you go out and buy?
A sun hat, an ice cream or maybe some suntan lotion?
No, you go and buy a fur coat or two.
Yup, fur coats.
Both in Elounda and in Aghios there are fur coat emporiums (or should that be emporia?) and all seem to do a quite a good trade during the Summer months. However, for a real choice you need to drive up to Gouves where there are at least a dozen different fur shops.
I can hear you asking yourself, “Why buy a fur coat?”
.. and “Why so many shops, and why here?”
Well, it would seem that our Russian guests find that the furs are a lot cheaper here than at home and so they buy several to take back to UA-land. When they get home, they resell the furs at a profit and virtually pay for their holiday!
As I said, Not a lot of People Know That!

Talking of our Russian friends, it was interesting to see that Russia did not return to ‘normal’ time at the end of October, but stayed on Summer Time. A friend in UA9 says that there is not much difference where he lives and the only problem he and his company have come across is that all the computers changed time automatically and had to be reset, as did all Mobile phones. I understand that once again there are moves in the UK to ‘experiment’ with not changing the clocks but opposition from north of the Border may stop it.

Highlight of the past month for us just has to be the visit to Knossos, the ancient Minoan site just outside Heraklion. We have been several times before but a couple of weeks ago a few of us were taken round by the Curator of the site. We got to see parts that the tourists do not get access to as well as seeing the ‘serious’ side of the site where artefacts and finds are stored, catalogued and restored. Some of what they have discovered seems so unbelievable – like the fact that the Minoans used to do a basic form of brain surgery! They have evidence that holes were drilled into peoples’ skulls to relieve pressure, possibly for something like migraine relief, and that there is evidence that this ‘operation’ was carried out more than once on some individuals – and all without anaesthetic!

We also learnt that Knossos itself was not just the palace but also quite a large town in its day, of maybe up to 10,000 people and that even before the Minoans built the town, there was a Neolithic settlement on the site.
A really fascinating day . . .

Xmas on Crete
Sitting talking with some friends the other night, and, apart from putting the world to rights, we were discussing some of the pros and cons of living in Crete. One of the top ‘likes’ was the fact that, although Christmas is celebrated out here, it is no-where near as commercialised as in the UK. So much so in fact that adverts on the TV for toys, perfumes and other tat only start in December and not the day after the August Bank Holiday as in the UK.

Hope to see some of you at the Christmas Bash on 15th of next month – in the meantime, have a Happy Christmas, a Peaceful New Year and Gud DX in 2012.

Blog Update. 1st December.
This may be reported in RadComic but the basics are that VHF only, Class B Licences out here, call series SW1-9, are having access to the HF bands and their calls are being changed to the SV1-9 series. So, if, like my friend Alex, you have the call SW9MBO, you suddenly become SV9MBO.

Not sure yet how this affects those without a proper Morse Exam signing SV9/M0XZY for example while on holiday.

Another change is that the SY prefix will no longer be issued. This is used for special events and some contests. All in all, a downward step I think.


Dick.. SV0XBN/9. (Email:

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