Cretan Blog-September 2015

Well, here we are again despite what the Government or Technology can throw at us. It was reported out here that one day the Government will get its act together – it did – it called yet another election!

Practical Computer turns up:
Practical Wireless arrive t’other day. Well, I thought it was Practical Wireless but it should have been renamed Practical Computer or some-such. The last few months it seems that there is more in it for the computing brigade than for anyone else. Yes there are the usual items on radio and the report on the Friedrichshafen show by Steve T-L knocks the RadComic report into a cocked hat but there is more and more stuff in the magazine aimed at the computer whizz-kid and not the average radio chap.

For example, the Emerging Technology bit talks about radio-equipped shopping trolleys that will tell the store where you are and could map out the best way for you to navigate the shop. Nothing to do with Amateur Radio at all.

The section ridiculously called ‘Data Modes’ by Mike Richards again has nothing at all to do with Amateur Radio but is all to do with cheap WyFy and IoT devices.

A What? An IoT device.

Those of you who study advance physics or who are just clever clogs will know that this means ‘Internet of Things’ but to the rest of us means absolutely nothing.
He also seems to throw out a lot of ‘computer-speak’ just to show how clever he is. His latest offering is something called Blynk which apparently was a ’crowd-funded’ project. What is ‘crowd-funded’? A lot of people at a football match all throwing 50p onto the pitch? He then rambles on about doing something with this Blynk and an idiotphone. Why?

I thought PW was a radio magazine and not some Computer Buyer offshoot . . . Similarly, in a rubbish review by Tim Kirby of a non-descript DMR radio he talks about setting it up through a ‘codeplug’. What the hell is that? More computer jargon probably. I think when my subscription runs out I will not renew it. I wanted, and expected, a radio magazine but all we get is page-filling computer gobbledegook.

With Waters and Stanton no longer advertising in the magazine, and thus income being reduced, and with the Rev Dobbs no longer writing for the magazine, I can see that before very long PW will have to merge with Radio User. This resultant magazine can then minimise its Amateur Radio content and just serve the general radio listener and computer geek without trying to specialise.

If you have ever looked at that awful TXfactor thing, you will note that in the interview with Don Field, the current editor of PW, he says that one of the main reasons people buy PW is the adverts. With W & S no longer advertising and Lynchie’s adverts being scrutinised by the Advertising Authorities, readers may not have a lot to look at soon.

I think Rob Manion got out just in time.

Avian Happenings:
Now here is something that does not happen every day. We were driving down the hill towards Plaka. I have the drivers’ door window open and my arm is resting on the door.
I look to my left. Level with the window and looking back at me is a Buzzard. He, or she, glides down the hill about 15 ft from me across the other side of the road.
We are both doing about 30 mph. He, or she, keeps pace with the car for about 100 yards or so before turning left and hovering over the escarpment that falls away down to the sea.

Not the sort of thing you see every day!

RadComic Arrives:
Septembers’ issue arrived and the first thing we see is that John, G3WFM, has been a Member of the RSGB for 50 years! Well done John!

I quote from the start of the letter by MM0XXW –

“I’m sorry to say that nowadays there’s little in RadCom that really holds my attention for too long . . .”

At last someone has the courage to put this in a letter to The Last Word. He is not alone in his thoughts.

I still get the impression that RadComic is put together with a certain amount of panic. Witness the incomplete ‘review’ of the Airspy SDR thing. Not a very informative article, no price of the unit given and to review it without even a basic instruction manual just seems to show that it was all done in a.bit of a rush. The proof reading staff must have had the day off when RadComic was finalised as it is totally lacking again as some chap down in Cornwall is quoted as being in ‘The Southeast’, not once, but twice.

Like you, I received my copy of September RadComic in August and so I expect the closing dates for adverts and articles were mid-July. So by then the RSGB must have printed their 2016 Yearbook so as to put the adverts in. WHY? By the time 2016 comes around half the information in it will be out of date, QSL sub-managers will have changed, repeater frequencies will have changed (I know of one on the South Coast that has already as I have had to change the frequencies in my little Wouxun), Regional Managers and their Deputies will have changed (see page 6 for the first one) so why oh why do the RSGB print the ruddy thing so early?

Yes, I know if they print it in November things could still change but not as many as between now and the start of 2016! And why do they have to say it is “the definitive people-oriented amateur radio reference book” not once but twice? And what is ‘people-orientated’ anyway? Seems like just more management-speak to me.

With regard to my comments about PW becoming a computer magazine, RadComic comes a close second as under ‘New Products’, there is a lot of gobbledegook in the Solid State Storage item. I mean, does anyone know what ‘sequential read’ is, or what about ‘random transactional performance’? Just a lot of page filling stuff because the editor chap cannot fill it with proper radio news.

Oh, and I like the new soldering iron with an ‘intelligent contoured handle’, what did it do, join MENSA?  My soldering iron just has a handle, like any other soldering iron. Why make it something it is not?

On Page 8 there is an item on the ‘President’s review of contesting’ and a link to a pdf publication is given. Did any of you take a look at the paper? I was hoping to read a full and detailed account of a review with suggestions for rule changes and some such, but what do we get – a précis of some basic ideas. Nothing more. There is a lot of ‘management-speak’ with ‘facilitator’ being the first and ‘moving forward’ but what on earth is ‘churn’? This is a new one on me . . .

As I understand it, the HF and VHF Contest Committees were recently merged so as to improve things. Pity then the President’s review says there should be separate ones!
There was also discussion about a Club whose ‘activity’ night coincided with the CW AFS contest and so distorted the scores for some people. The answer was to suggest to the Club that they suspend their activity because of AFS and that a joint approach be made to all club members to explain how their activity can distort RSGB contests results, and the effects that this can have on both organisations and their members.

My answer? Tough!

If the Club I belonged to had an activity period to encourage Members to get on the bands, on whatever mode they choose, and this happened to coincide with an RSGB contest then so be it. I would doubt that Club Members would have so many local QSOs that it would screw the RSGB results to any great degree, and what if it did? I am sure that there are many local Club Members who enter AFS just to work their friends and no more, so do these people screw the results? Of course they do . . .

Looking forward to the new-look RadComic? Easier to read? More colour? I sense a dumbing down somehow – but I will reserve judgement until I see how bad it really is!

Greek Stuff:
Here is the latest news relating to the Greek economy:

The last bail-out thing that they arranged recently contained several clauses that the Greek Government must implement. These all involve the privatisation of things such as the airports (see below), electricity distribution and some of the sea ports. They also said that the water companies in Athens and Thessaloniki should be privatised.

This last condition is really good, seeing as it comes from Germany and France, who are currently buying back the water companies in Berlin and Paris that were privatised a decade ago as they are so inefficient and have put prices up instead of keeping them under control! A question of ‘Do as I say, not as I do’?

Also, to raise revenue the Government have put 23% VAT on private education. Pity then that they did not check the rules first as the European Union told the Greeks on 28th of August that you are not allowed to put VAT on education.

Before this Government got in, the previous lot (New Democracy) also went to the EU and asked for cash. They were given a few quid and one of the stipulations was that the Greece must privatise its airports. So the last lot put them up for sale and the preferred bidder was Fraport, which runs Frankfort Airport and ironically is majority-owned by the State and Local Governments in Germany.

The last lot agreed to sell the airports but Fraport are not stupid as they only bid for the 14 profitable ones, leaving the other 30 in the hands of Government. Then this last lot (Syriza) got into power and stopped the whole thing as they did not agree with the sale of public assets, let alone for such small amounts. Now, because of the last lot of EU cash they have been given, and the terms of getting the cash, Syriza have had to agree to the sale of public assets and so have finally agreed the sale of the 14 airports to Fraport. This has given the Government about 1.2 billion Euros spread over the next 50 years with an annual rental of around 23 million Euros.

However, this means that the German Government will profit from the deal while the next Greek Government and subsequent ones, will still have to subsidise the rest of the loss making airports.

I know this may seem a bit out of place in a missive like this but recently the comments in the media out here have been:

‘The war is over: let the occupation begin’

Bad News:
Just to add to the QRM, the Greek and Israeli Governments have agreed to build an Over The Horizon Radar installation on Crete.

Oh Joy!

Edited Out:
Last month I did a piece about a Nikon camera I had purchased and my comments were thought a bit ‘excessive’ by the editorial staff at LEFARS Towers and so it was removed. However, the comments were shown to Peter, G4FQF (whose photo is on Page 88 of Sept RadComic by the way), and who takes pictures for a living. He came up with some suggestions as to what my problems could be (other than the fact that I do not know one end of a camera from the other).

I am afraid that most of the talk was way above my head what with apertures, iso 100 and ‘the amount of the depth of field’ (?), that after changing the memory card thing inside it, as was suggested, and finding things just the same, I have given up and the camera has been added to the ever growing pile of technical stuff that we do not understand . . .

I will never mention buying a rubbish Nikon Coolpix S2900 camera again.


Dick. SV9RPE.

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