Cretan Blog-December 2015

Greetings from a pleasantly mild and quiet Crete.

All the tourists have now gone, all the coaches have been put away for the Winter, most of the shops and Tavernas have closed and we are left with one or two independent travellers taking in the peace and quiet. Most of November has been very nice WX-wise and so they have been lucky. Even spotted a couple of ‘em swimming . . .

A Bit of Greek Life:
What follows is a précis of a couple of items from a local Greek on-line newspaper and here are a couple of examples of how the Government coffers have lost hundreds of thousands of Euros due to mismanagement and theft.

“Out here there a group commonly known as the ‘Financial Police’ who check on establishments to make sure that receipts are issued, and thus VAT charged and accounted for, and that cash taken is banked in a timely manner.
Here on Crete, at the famous Knossos Minoan site, they found that staff were hardly ever issuing receipts and even if they did, the till was not registered with the Financial Ministry and so, in effect, no money has been collected or paid to the Government in years.
In Athens, at the Acropolis, it is reckoned that in 2014 they had about 3 million visitors but when checked, it was found that over half of these visitors were issued with free passes as it was easier than taking the money.
The article goes on: “Crackdowns against corrupt or inept public officials are always heralded with much fanfare and declarations of “zero tolerance” from whomever is in charge at any given time and then just fizzle out, losing steam and leaving behind just one winner.
The lawbreaker, a species with a very fast rate of reproduction”.
At a press conference earlier this month, the Culture Minister said that electronic ticket machines would be introduced at all archaeological sites before the start of next season but was not sure if, in fact, the machines had been delivered or installed yet.

I would like to see how they get on at Gournia, the archaeological site about 20kms from us. It is so far out of the way that it does not even have electricity in the admission hut!

More taxes!
People who bought a new car during the past five years with an engine capacity of between 1400 and 1600cc have paid no road tax as the emissions, according to the Government, have been so low. Also, anyone buying a diesel car received the same benefit. However, from January 1st they will have to join the rest of us and pay road tax. Here, everyone gets their road tax during December as if you pay late, say in February, you pay double.
This new tax seems ok except that the Government will now reduce the tax on old polluting cars rather than put it up like everywhere else in Europe!

Fancy a smoke?
Again I précis another article:
Introduced in September 2010, like the majority of Europe, Greece banned smoking in indoor public places. However, despite Government pledges of vigilance and heavy fines, smokers continue to light up in the vast majority of Tavernas, bars and cafes as inspections by State Authorities have ceased.
It seems that anti-smoking laws are only respected on public transport, hospitals (though not always) and a small number of very expensive restaurants.
If you wish to complain about someone smoking where they shouldn’t, you should contact the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, however, their 4-digit telephone hotline where you make complaints has been out of action for over two years . . .

Now some bad news:
This year the amount of Raki (the local firewater) distilled has only been about 15% of what it was last year. This is because that the grape harvest was ruined by some heavy rain a couple of months ago and this left grapes rotting or suffering with mildew. Hence a lot of the grapes could not be turned into wine and the resulting left-over mush could not be distilled into Raki.
This comes at a bad time as the Government have just put the VAT rate on Raki up to 23% from 6% so prices will rise due to lack of supply and a tax increase.
Several people have been seen wearing black armbands.

The Magazines:
PW arrived and seemed bulkier than usual and had a bit more stuff of interest this time.
I was, however, amazed to see my comments sent to Roger, G3LDI, about NFD, printed in full. They were just comments sent to him on his recent remarks, and also those made by Jim Bacon G3YLA, in the magazine a couple of months ago. No doubt I will get more emails from people agreeing, or more likely, disagreeing with my views. T’was ever thus . . .
I also read in PW that using all this new DMR or D-Star rubbish is no good if you are mobile as the signal degrades so as to become unreadable at times, unless you stop. What is the point of all these DMR or D-Star or ConFusion mobile radio adverts then?
Despite there being a bit more stuff of interest, PW still contains much for the computer geek. There is much talk about Arduino (Who She?) and even in the ‘basic’ article by Mike Richards about getting going on Data there is a section about building your own Blueteeth interface. Why? If it is meant to be a simple ‘Getting Started’ piece, why not show a simple interface and not jump straight into something that few people understand or let alone can build.
RadComic arrived and, oh joy, I now have a sticker to put on my car, van, boat or XYL.
Question: Why is ‘amateur radio’ written without capitals? It would have looked so much better if Amateur Radio was written thus . . .
I may get into trouble here but as this is my penultimate Blog thing, I worry not.
There is a review of a Ten Tec rig on Page 45. There is no dial on the thing. The thing starts up on, say, 7.030 and in order to change frequency you turn the knob on the front. To where exactly? Do you count the clicks and hope that you remain in-band? Want to change band? No problem – first take a screwdriver and take the case apart . . . And why buy a rig and then modify it? Crazy.
What a total piece of rubbish put out by such a brilliant company – what on earth were they thinking?
Again the computer geek was well catered for this time with the review of the SunSDR rig. Written by Mike Richards again (Does this man ever leave his typewriter?), it was full of gobbledegook. I mean, who understands ‘FPGA decimation’ or a video card that ‘supports Open GL 1.5’?. I’m sure he puts all this stuff in to (a) show how clever he is and (b) pad the article out as he probably gets paid by the word. He waffles on about ‘virtual cables’ and expects the average reader to be fully conversant with such twaddle.
I’m not and I bet you’re not too sure either, and anyway, isn’t FPGA something to do with golf?
While on the subject of SDR, did you see the advert on Lynchie’s page for the MB1?
If you look at his site, apart from the cost of the thing, the other thing you will notice is that a lot of the spec is written in Russian!
No, another less than average edition of RadComic I’m afraid . . .

I was sorry to read that Peter Dodd is SK.
Yes, I know I pilloried his antenna articles but this does not mean you don’t feel for someone who had been seriously ill.

You pay your money etc:
A friend was looking to buy a new Kenwood TS-590SG.
He phoned Lynchie and asked if he could order it and pick it up at the West London Radio Show thing a few weeks ago.
Lynchie said they would not be attending as they were only 4 miles away and did not want to hump a load of gear just down the road. So they lost a nice sale
W & S were phoned with the same request.
Yes they said, they could do that – Great. My friend ordered the ring and also ordered some headphones and a new lead to run from his SignaLink USB Interface to the new rig.
He attends the show. He collects the rig and headphones. They give him the wrong lead.
No problem they say. We will pop one in the post on Monday.
They don’t.
He waits a week and phones them.
“Oops, we forgot. Put it in the post now Sir” etc etc.
They don’t.
My friend phones again.
This time they say they put it in the post with the instructions that the lead must be plugged into the microphone socket. Seeing as the lead is meant to have a 13 pin DIN on the rig end that plugs into the ACC2 socket, I don’t see how you are meant to do this.
So, fully qualified, knowledgeable staff at W&S then . . .
Anyway, a week later nothing had appeared.

I may be out of touch but I seem to recall that the Foundation License power limit is 10 watts.
I will not comment on the fact that this License was meant to be band and power limited when it was first promoted but will just stay for one minute on the power limit.
I worked a chum on 14 Mc/s PSK the other day. He has had a ‘proper’ Licence for well over 25 years, CW and all. He lives just south of London and was running 30 watts PSK31 to a long wire. His signal was solid and readable, let’s say 579. 200 c/s away was another station just south of London calling CQ. He was exceptionally strong. He was not over-modulating but was a good 10-15db over 9. This was M6TET whose power limit was meant to be just ten watts. There was no way he was running this power. Even with a beam and 10 watts he would not be that strong . . .
What a good example of the workings of the Foundation License conditions – not.

Happy Crimble es 73s

Dick. SV9RPE.

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