Poison Ivy Almost Gone

This morning I woke up to go to work and was still itching pretty bad though you could barely see it.  This evening when I came home from work I noticed something was different.  No itching at all!  After four and a half weeks it is finally on its way out and all I can say is thank God!  This has been a rough month with the never ending itching and even worse the allergic reaction to the medicine.

During this time I had two very big events my life and that was graduating OU and the other was seeing my family in New Mexico for the first time in 21 years.  The enjoyment of both of these events were a bit lost because of having the most severe poison ivy outbreak known to the human race.  For those of you that saw it, you know what I am talking about.  For the rest of you, I will spare you the pictures but I do have some. 🙂

While we were gone on our trip my oldest son Kevin was a hero.  He did not get to go with us on our vacation because he forgot to tell his boss about it until it was too late to let him off.  I was upset for a while but that was changed when some bad guys broke into our house while we were gone.  My son captured two of the three and the police caught the other one.  Everyone of them were over 18 years old so we are pressing charges.  He walked in on them inside the house.  Just yesterday he was at work and helped to capture a thief at his work.  I told him that being a police officer may be his calling.  The bad guys come right to him.  I am so proud of him and the way he handled the situation.

Now that I am feeling better this weekend I have to work tomorrow.  That is okay because it will be a short day.  I am working a straight eight hours from 6:30 am to 2:20 pm.  That should go fast and I will be able to squeak by with a decent weekend after all.  Our WIN System repeater was blocked this week because of a stray signal that was mistaken for intermod.  This happened once before in 2007 when a local ham was transmitting amateur television (ATV) on 439.25 MHz.  This local ham is very close to the repeater antenna and has a very high gain antenna.  I am not sure if that is what happened this time or not.  Another possibility is that another new ham was trying to get into the repeater with a handy talkie (HT) and was not getting into the system very well.  I am hoping that was the scenario because that is an easy one to fix.  We have since been unblocked but we are reluctant to connect back up until we confirm the source of the signal.

Just the other day I posted about the new Microsoft search engine Bing.com and how cool it was.  A story came out today that shows that in just three days, it has taken the number two search engine spot world wide over taking Yahoo.  I have mixed feelings about this because I have always loved Yahoo and still think they are very relevant.  At the same time I am really pulling for Bing to succeed.  I really do like the way it operates.  Well I have rambled long enough so I will get this posted.

IRLP Upgrade

This weekend the Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) sent out an upgrade that would vastly improve the audio from node to node.  This update changed out two files, the imike, and ispeaker.  This allows nodes to connect to each other with uncompressed audio making an incredible audio quality.  This increase in audio quality also increased the bandwidth required to stream the audio by 100%.  Now the stream requires 80 Kbps to carry the audio virtually solidifying the requirement for broadband Internet.

To date, there are only five reflector channels that are capable of handling the uncompressed audio.  These are 9200, 9003, 9739, and 9755.  Nothing has changed on the reflectors except that the owners of these listed have set up those channels to select UNCOMP as the default codec.  It is likely that not all reflector owners will opt to use this uncompressed audio because of the incredible demand for bandwidth.  Since most of these reflectors are operating on donated bandwidth, they may be reluctant to double the bandwidth required if there are many users like the WIN System which typically has 50+ nodes connected 24 hours a day.

Any individual node that calls another node will be able to experience the improved quality of audio.  Both of our repeaters have been updated to the new audio though our 443.3 repeater may not be noticeable because it is connected to the WIN Sytem 24 hours and they have not upgraded their channel yet on the 9453.  I have been amazed at the improved quality as it is virtually perfect.

Another improvement that came with this, most users will not notice because it happens behind the scene.  Before, when a node would connect to a node for the first time, it would automatically download two .wav files. These were the announcement files that you hear when connecting or disconnecting from the other node.  After you visit many nodes, the node hard drive begins to fill up with many audio files making it difficult to do a backup.  Also since many of the nodes are using older computers, they sometimes have smaller hard drives.  With this upgrade, the nodes now stream these connect and disconnect announcements from the IRLP servers so nodes owners are no longer concerned with filling up a hard drive.

Dave Cameron, VE7LTD, the creater of IRLP put out a beta test version of this upgrade last Wednesday and more than 250 nodes participated with zero errors.  On Thursday night, he decided to push the upgrade out on the nightly updates.  On Friday morning, all nodes should have received this upgrade.  We are thrilled with the performance on both of our repeaters.  Since both of them are on broadband Internet connections, this higher bandwidth requirement was not an issue with us.

Thank you for those of you that use our nodes/repeaters.


WWLS Grows at Expense of KATT

As an amateur (ham) radio operator I tend to pay attention to things involving radio and television broadcast in the Oklahoma City area. I spent my teenage years in the 1980’s listening to rock music KATT-FM 100.5. They are an icon of Oklahoma City as they have been on the air since I believe 1976. As a teenager in the ’80’s I was devastated when KXXY 96.1, then called 96X went country. They made their transition by playing the song “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” over and over again. They played it for something like 24 hours straight. In my eyes and my friend’s eyes it was a national crisis. At least we still had “The KATT” we could listen tol

I remember vividly it was 1982, 1983, or 1984 (my senior year) that KATT played an April Fools joke pretending to go country. They played country music for hours in the morning. This was serious to me as well as my friends. This was another national tragedy to me. I went to school wearing my Sony Walkman listening to it desperately hoping to hear some good news that it was not true. This crisis was the number one topic of discussion at Del City High School that day. No one could concentrate on learning at school when our country was enduring a crisis of this magnitude. An event of this size was worse than the Sooners losing the National Championship. Schools should be released in mourning of the loss of our beloved KATT. It was later revealed that it was just an April Fools joke but it made the national news because the phone lines were jammed for hours. This joke was perfectly timed shortly after the other station KXXY had changed to country feeding off the frenzy of that event. Now I am 42 years old and I really do not listen to rock music anymore preferring Christian to my old rock.

All these years later though, I still look at KATT as a part of my childhood memories and though I really do not listen to that kind of music anymore I still have a soft spot for them. With all the buzz of Oklahoma City getting a new NBA Basketball team I have been listening to WWLS-FM 97.9. I have grown to love this station as well although they are only 6,000 watts effective radiated power (ERP). Recently I have been hearing commercials advertising that WWLS would be changing from 97.9 to 98.1 and will be increasing their signal five times the current signal. I started doing some searching around on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) web site. I stumbled upon a page that shows WWLS changing their city of reference from Edmond, Oklahoma to The Village and increasing their power from 6,000 to 31,000 watts ERP. Their tower will be increasing from 315 feet, or 96 meters to 1541 feet, or 471 meters. This should increase their signal significantly around central Oklahoma.

After doing further searching I stumbled on another page that gives some extra details. This upgrade of WWLS FM could not have happened if a couple of other stations had not modified theirs stations. One of which is the KATT-FM radio station. As I spoke of before, they have been a long time station of Oklahoma City and have also been a powerful 100,000 watt ERP station. According to this new information, both WWLS, and KATT are owned by the same company, Citadel broadcasting. They have agreed to lower the power of KATT from 100,000 watts ERP to 31,000 watts ERP. In this same transaction, they move WWLS FM from 97.9 to 98.1 and increase their power from 6,000 watts ERP to 31,000 watts ERP.

I am not sure I like this arrangement as this cuts KATT’s signal down to less than a third of what it has been for more than 30 years. I like the increase in power of WWLS but not at the expense of KATT. I am not sure what the new coverage area will be but it must make an impact. I have received KATT near the Texas border in the past. I am sure there will be negligible difference if you live near the Oklahoma City metro but the fringe areas are surely likely to see changes. In the past KATT has always been a part of the group of power houses that had nearly 100 mile ranges. Like I said before, I really do not listen to that style of music anymore so my feelings on all this are mainly nostalgia. This has always been a hobby of mine. Anytime a new tower goes up in the Oklahoma City tower farm on the North East side, I usually go to the FCC web site to see what is going on. Anyway, I thought this was worthy news to share for those that are interested in radio.

Yahoo to Rebuff Microsoft

You may remember last week I posted a message about Microsoft making an unsolicited bid to take over Yahoo for $44.6 Billion last week. The buzz going around on the Internet today is that the Yahoo board has met secretly and decided they would not even consider an offer of less than $40.00 per share. Last week at the time of the bid, they offered $31.00 per share because Yahoo had lost value in their shares in recent days. Since that offer last week, Yahoo’s shares have gone up considerably and Microsoft’s shares have decreased. This should be interesting to watch because Yahoo wants to stay independent. I have always had a soft spot for Yahoo because they were one of the original pioneers of the Internet back in 1995. I would hate to see that history destroyed. I am sure there will be more information come from this in the coming days so keep an eye open for this.