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PAUL L. MCCORD JR. | K5GLH – OKLAHOMA CITY

paulmccord.net - PAUL L. MCCORD JR. | K5GLH – OKLAHOMA CITY

Google+ Hangout

Ham Radio Google+ Hangout

Last night I joined in my first multi-person Google+ Hangout and it was a blast.  I was invited in by another Amateur Radio operator, Jim, KA6QZU.  The Hangout was called “Ham Radio Nightly Hangout” and eventually others joined the group.  He told me their group has these meetings online every night at 9:00 PM, central time.  Usually I am not up that late because we go to work very early.  I have to say that I really enjoyed the conversation and was amazed at how clear the video and audio was.  If the masses ever discover these Hangouts, they will be hooked.  There was a connection to theTWiT Podcast when Tom, KB4HQA joined in the conversation.  Since this Hangout is a regular occurring, I hope they put up a web site so people can find them.  Maybe even a Google+ page.  I have found a way to keep up with them assuming they keep the same name for the Hangout. I just went on Google+ and searched for the term “Ham Radio Nightly Hangout” and then saved my search results.  That way if anyone posts about it, I will see it.

Anyway, I have always loved ham radio and the Internet.  This is just one more example of how cool they are together. In fact, it seems that ham radio operators and photographers are the most active of any groups I have seen on Google+.  I really would like to become more active in ham radio.  I have really been frustrated since I moved in to our new house that my interface cable between my radio and computer no longer works because my computer has Windows 7, 64 bit version.  I’ve steadfastly refused to buy another cable because I feel I am being forced to buy more equipment for someone else’s gain.  My cable was only a year old when I got Windows 7 64 bit and I refuse to upgrade my equipment every time a new version of the operating system comes out.  The major issue is that radio manufacturers continue to use obsolete RS-232 connections so I had to use an adapter cable that no longer has a driver for the 64 bit version.

In my ham radio world, computers are just as much a part of the hobby as the radio itself.  I occasionally, more often than not, run across those that say “that is not real ham radio!”  My answer to them is “oh well”.  Everything has computers these days and to say that it is not ham radio is foolishness.  Is your TV not a TV because it now has a computer tuner in it?  Is your coffee maker not a coffee maker now that it has a computer timer in it?  Of course it is.  One may argue that in ham radio it is different.  There are many modes such as IRLP, Echolink, Allstar Link, etc that use the Internet to transmit communications.  I don’t think it is different at all as long as there is some aspect of radio being communicated with.  For example… The telephone now uses Satellites, land based transmissions, Internet, etc to get the voice from one place to another.  The end result is that someone, on one end of the conversation is holding a telephone in their hand.  Modern day television is the same.  Computers are just one more tool in the process and a very cool tool at that. :)

I think that computers are very much a part of ham radio and just prove that it is not an antiquated mode of communications.  The ionosphere is still our friend and the computer, Internet work together with it to transmit, process the information so that the signal is better used.  These Google Hangouts are just another way that amateur radio operators can communicate and share their equipment visually.  I’ve had a computer and a ham radio for 29 years and the computer has not hindered my ham radio usage but rather enhanced it.  It is an exciting day to be around if you are a gadget person like myself.

New IRLP Node 7734

IRLP node 7734

Since I do not have my ham radio gear, and do not live in Del City anymore, I had to improvise to be able to talk on the Del City ARC repeaters.  As most of you know, we sold our Del City home in July 2010.  All of my ham radio gear went into storage until we get a new house.  The only thing that I kept out of storage was my dual band, 2 meter, 70 centimeter hand held radio.  We temporarily moved into an apartment in Midwest City while we wait to get our new home.  I can reach the repeaters from this apartment but not very good from inside with the low power that the hand held will produce.

Since both repeaters have IRLP/Echolink capability, I put together another, Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) node so that I can connect into either of the repeaters.  This is the third one that I have put together and this one is for personal use.  It signed on the air May 18, 2011 from Midwest City, Oklahoma.  Sure it can be used for a mile or so but will not have much range for others to use.  Anyone can use it but it will not be of much use for very far.  This new node is a simplex node on 445.95 MHz.  It has a PL tone of 162.2  It has an IRLP node number of 7734 and an Echolink node number of 23943.  The node does not carry the Del City Amateur Radio Club call sign of W5DEL but rather K5GLH for IRLP and K5GLH-L for Echolink.

IRLP node 7734

This node will help resolve my inability to have reliable communications through our own repeaters.  I have tested it and it performs very well.  I may play around with it and add Allstar Link capability to it and if it works out, I may add it to the other repeaters as well.  As you can see from the picture, it is running on a magnetic mount dual band antenna stuck on top of a metal filing cabinet.  We will be living in these apartments near Regional Park until around August 2011.  If you are near that area, you can likely reach it without much power.  Again, since it is simplex, there will be no courtesy tones or anything like that.  If you hear a once sided conversation, then you are probably hearing the node speaking to me on my weak handie talkie.  I am excited to get this one on the air and so I can get back into ham radio, at least a little bit.

Internet Explorer 9 beta

IE_9beta

I just installed the new Internet Explorer 9.0 beta and this is what I saw from the moment I launched it.  I could not close it through normal means.  I had to Ctrl+Alt+Del and end task on it several times to close it down.  I was getting really irritated that I could not close it down.  This is as far as I could get it to go after launching it several times.  I do understand by the very definition of being beta means that it is not ready for full release and likely to have bugs.  I have heard stories on the Internet that it is supposed to be light weight like Chrome instead of the very slow bogged down monster that is Internet Explorer 8.  My first impression is not very good though I understand it is a beta.  I downloaded the 64 bit version since I am using Windows 7 64 bit.  You know, people have told me in the past that I should not use the version 8, 64 bit version because there are not enough functions available to it.

My point to that is why have a 64 bit operating system if you cannot run 64 bit applications?  Those that know me also know that I am not a big fan of Apple and find myself defending Microsoft on a regular basis.  I have to admit though that Internet Explorer has been a sorry program for the last few versions.  Almost any browser runs better than it does.  I went to Firefox for a while and now I pretty much use Chrome exclusively.  I really want Internet Explorer to have a come back but they are not doing anything to give me hope.  It is interesting to not that I say they need a comeback when they are still nearly 90% of the market share.  What I meant to say, I wish their quality would come up a few notches.  I genuinely hate Internet Explorer these days and only use it as a last resort.  My work forces us to use it and I can hardly stand it.

Let’s just hope the next release works better than this.  I would like to have another option to use that is not slow and takes for ever just to load a web site like Internet Explorer 8 does.

My Dream in Information Technology

It is no secret that I have been fascinated with computers, networking, programming, among other things associated with the information technology (IT) world since the 1980’s.  I had planned to follow the IT field since I was a teenager and spend hundreds if not thousands of hours studying the new technologies over time.  In fact in my 20’s and 30’s I neglected my family so that I could learn the ins and outs of the technology world because at the time I truly believed that was going to be my career choice.  There were times when people would call me to fix or build their computers.  People asked me to help put up a web site among other things.  Around 2000, I gave up on that dream when I was hired by the government.  I was hired in 1999 and took a job with the idea that I would get my foot in the door and then try to cross train into an IT job.  It did not take me too long to realize that most of the IT jobs were contractor jobs and that for me to get one of the jobs I would have to quit my government job and rehire with one of the contractors.

Obviously this was out of the question since the government allowed me to count my military time toward retirement.  I could not see discarding a great job with benefits, security and a retirement just to have my dream in the computer technology world.  So around 2000 I accepted the fact that I was not going to be in the IT field and was a little bummed about it.  On rare occasions I will see a job available that is a government position that shows up but I do not have the proper credentials to qualify.  I still love computers and follow many technology podcasts and articles.  I have stopped studying the way I use to.  If I could get a job with the government in the IT field, I would be the most energetic, enthusiastic employee they have ever seen.  I know this is not possible since the jobs are all contractor jobs.  Over the years since 2002 I have kept my foot partially in the door of this interesting career field by hosting two Internet Radio Linking Project (IRLP) nodes where ham radio is married to computers running on Linux.  This small experiment has kept my interest as though I could play a small role in the IT field.  It was not much but it was something.

This morning I, or maybe I should say the Del City Amateur Radio Club (DCARC) to which I am the president, received an email asking if we were interested in joining a technological experiment in the Oklahoma City area that I cannot discuss the details.  I researched this group and verified their credentials to see if it were real or just another spam message.  It is amazing how receiving this email has really sparked my enthusiasm and interest.  I know it is nothing big and nothing that would earn a living but it has awakened my “make believe IT professional” that is buried deep inside me.  This experiment may be nothing but I am very interested and will follow it through as far as they will allow me to.  I will reveal what it is about as soon as I am allowed to.  I will say that having the Del City Amateur Radio Club associated with it will be very exciting.  Our resources are low but the enthusiasm is high.  We have managed to keep these two IRLP nodes on the air for eight years with no outside help other than that of our leadership.  I am very excited and hope this project comes to reality.  I will definitely do my part to make sure that it does happen on our end.

Location based services

There seems to be a lot of buzz on the Internet about the concern for privacy with the new location based services on social networking services.  I think a lot of this is a little blown out of proportion.  Several months ago a service called Foursquare came on the scene where you could download applications to your phone and check in at various restaurants and venues.  You can post online where you are and give a review or any other comment about the place you are visiting.  Prior to that there was a lower profile Google Latitude.  Now that Facebook has added Places, people are bent out of shape about privacy concerns.  My answer to this is to use common sense practices and this will not be a concern.

Some of the worries that I hear posted online are that you are subjecting yourself to getting robbed or attacked because you are telling the world where  you are.  I think these are real concerns but they do not have to be concerns at all.  If you practice good common sense then you will not have to worry about these.  For example, don’t announce to the world your home address.  Try not to post from your home telling people “I am at home” so that potential “bad guys” will not know where home is in the first place.  Secondly if you post that you are out at a restaurant, it does not mean that your house is free to be broken into.  Just because I am at a restaurant does not mean that every person at the house is with me.  It does not mean that I do not have huge guard dogs.  I guess what I am trying to say is that it is not necessarily dangerous to post that I am at a restaurant unless I also post that no one is home and I have no pets.

If someone really wanted to break into your house, they could find you.  I can go to the County Assessor’s web site and look anyone up by name and find out their home address.  This fact does not change whether I am using an online location base service.  Also just because I announce that I am out does not mean that my house is ready to be robbed.  Any potential burglar will still have to assume the same risks as if I had not posted my location.  I mean, what happens if a burglar goes to a house and sees no cars and tries to break in?  He or she could possibly get mauled by some large dogs or even worse run into a family member holding a gun in their face.

Also I do not believe announcing online where you are makes you anymore likely to be a victim while you are out.  Again, if someone really wanted to attack them, they could look them up on the County Assessor’s web site and stalk them to find them out in public.  Also one could assume that when someone goes out to a restaurant that they are with someone else.  I am not saying there are not reasons to be cautious but rather not worry about this privacy issue like it is that bad.  I say if it really bothers you then do not use them.  Just as the privacy crowd on Facebook.  If you do not post private things, then it cannot be released to the public.  I think that if a person just uses common sense safety practices, many of these privacy concerns could be alleviated. I just think that life is too short than to sit around worrying about being a victim.

Am I wrong?  If you disagree, I would like to  know.

Last Pass

There is a pretty cool new tool out there to keep all of your Internet passwords.  I don’t know about you but I get tired of trying to keep track of every password that I have especially since many of them have different requirements.  Well I have been hearing a lot on the Internet about a company called LastPass where they store all of your online passwords on your PC and they encrypt them.  By encrypting them, no one can hack into your computer to gain access to this information.  This way you only need to remember the LastPass password and it will do all of the rest.  It also allows you to have pre-filled out forms that will auto fill online requests for information.  This way you do not have to fill out your email, address, phone number and all that personal information every time you sign up for something.  It does allow you to pick and choose which sites it stores information for. 

LastPass also lets you synchronize your browsers so you can have access to your information anywhere and at anytime.  LastPass also allows you to encrypt your information in other files on your computer.  This way, even if someone did gain access to the sensitive information, they could not read it without your LastPass password.  The amazing thing is that it is free to download to your computer.  They even have versions for PC, Mac, and cell phones.  They allow you to put secure notes in your vault so that you will always have a place to store private information without revealing it to others.  Even if someone stole your computer, they could not get your information.  You can store bank account or Social Security information without worrying about others being able to gain access to it.  I have been reading about what a great product this is from many sites around the Internet.
Another cool feature is that since the information is stored on your computer, then it cannot be subpoenaed from a court.  The reason is that LastPass does not have the information to release.  It is your information and is encrypted so you do not have to worry about others gaining access to your things.  Try it out.

Posted via email from Paul L. McCord Jr.

Social Networking

 

I ran across this video that someone shared on Google Buzz this evening.  It is pretty eye opening about how fast these social networking sites have proliferated.  I can remember just about a year ago, Facebook had around 200 million members.  About three months ago I heard they had 400 million users.  Just this evening, I read on Google Buzz that Facebook had 540 million users.  This is just phenomenal.  Watch the video and read the statistics.

Del City ARC Web Site

For those that follow my posts both on my web site and on the Del City Amateur Radios Club’s web site, I need to let you know that www.delcityarc.org domain is about to expire in July.  This domain is going to be moved to another provider over the coming weeks so it may be unavailable from time to time.  Since it may be offline briefly, I am posting this on my own web site and on the club site just so you will be able to find the status.  The new site will be unable to host the blog onsite.  The blog itself with be hosted on the wordpress.com site.  Since the blog is already being viewed within a frame, it will be virtually undetectable from the average user.  The actual club blog will be located at http://dcarc.wordpress.com/ instead of on the actual domain.  The main page http://www.delcityarc.org will be hosted on another site while to the average user, there will not be a change.  The new offsite blog will be pointed to from the main page into an internal frame.

You may be asking yourself why we are doing this.  The reason is the hosting cost.  Currently I host both domains through my provider at an expensive rate.  I pay extra because I like having the ability to run scripts, have xml databases, allow more traffic among other things.  Both of these domains are about to expire within a month of each other and I am unwilling to pay the extra costs for both pages.  I can move the Del City ARC page to a more budget plan with less functions and save some money.  Since my personal blog gets more traffic and I use it more, I am more willing to pay the extra rate for it.  As I said before, it will be virtually undetectable to the average user but it will save us more than 50% of the cost. If you have any questions, please post them via email to our members@delcityarc.org address.

Thanks,

Paul

A-Moral?

This morning I was mowing the lawn while listening to the “This Week in Google” podcast on my mp3 player.  I was listening to episode 42 when they spend the entire podcast speaking about Facebook and their perceived privacy issues.  They spend a considerable amount of time pointing out what they believed to be Facebook’s arrogance by making our information public on the Facebook.  They began to focus on the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his lack of moral standing on protecting the privacy of their users.  I could not believe my ears when I heard Leo Laporte use the word “AMoral” when referencing Zuckerberg.  The term means to lack morality or to lack a sense of right and wrong.

This brings me to the question that has been thrown in my face in the past.  This question is “What makes your morality, to be moral for me?”  They context of the question is that since my morals are based on the Bible, then my morality is irrelevant to them since they do not believe in God.  Essentially saying that morality is relative to your standards or belief system.  These people deny my belief that something is right or wrong because I use the Bible as a gauge, or measuring stick.  If this is true then I can just as easily say to them, what makes what they say right?  You can see the paradox that develops with this argument.  To think that morality is relative is self defeating because to to believe this, the person must believe that morality is absolutely relative.  Since in relative morality asserts there are no absolutes, then the argument is self defeating.

There have been many times that I have heard these people like Leo Laporte claim they do not believe in God.  If they do not believe in God, then the Bible that speaks of HIM, is just a myth.  If this is true then a morality that is based on a Biblical view must be a myth as well.  This leads me to ask by what morality to they make this judgment on Mark Zuckerberg.  How can he be amoral if there is no standard by which to measure right and wrong?  I single out Leo Laporte probably unfairly only because he is the single voice of the “This Week in Tech” podcast network.  The reality is that the vast majority of those in the technology broadcast movement also do not believe in God so they do not have the luxury of having the Bible as a standard of right and wrong.  They typically go farther then just not believing in God by speaking against religion as a whole, virtually discounting all religions.  If there are no  immovable standards by which they measure morality then how do they make this claim about Zuckerberg?

I ask by what standard does one measure right and wrong if it is not measured against a religious standard?  This question is usually answered in essence saying that it is wrong to cause harm to others.  Who defines harm?  Who defines what is acceptable in society?  If a person does not use a religious standard that is immovable then a person’s morality is subject to change with the society.  This seems innocent and acceptable if it is looked at independent of any situations.  The problem with having a relative moral stand is that causing no harm can be redefined.  For example, the German government in the early 1940’s believed they were helping society by removing Jews from society.  They managed to convince themselves into believing that Jews were less than human and therefore their “cause no harm” belief did not apply.  These Jews were not considered people that deserved to be protected.  Since the majority of people in that country during that era thought that way, then one could say that it was moral to kill Jews.  It is dangerous to have a relative moral stand in my opinion.

If people could be convinced that one group of people are are less human than others in one society then it can happen again.  I have heard people speak that education is the answer.  They say that educating people is the answer to all the woes of the world.  This seems reasonable on the surface but then that pesky relative morality comes back in.  Education as a general term is usually seen as a good thing but more and more often it can be manipulated.  Education can and does get used as a tool to spread a belief system.  A simple omission of relevant information, and the use of rhetoric can change the meaning of things.  For example, the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  The original intent was to eliminate religious coercion while at the same time prevent the restriction of free religious expression.  Somehow over time, the education system of the United States has managed to convince people that any expression of  of religious speech by anyone associated in the government on any level is strictly prohibited.  In addition to this, the education system has managed to convince many that there are selected groups of people that deserve preferential treatment and cannot be spoken of negatively in any way.

Again, I ask by what standard to these people teach us what is right and wrong?  By their own measure, they have no moral standing to tell me what is right just as I do not have a standing to tell them.  I for one believe in the Bible and so I do have a measuring stick by which I measure right and wrong.  My standard often conflicts with theirs.  I think it is often less honest to impose a moral standard on others when they do not have an immovable standard.  This is because the motive is often self promoting and that is why I question all this Facebook anger.  When a person posts on the Internet, they are giving their personal information on a public platform.  They have to know this and if they don’t then they should be more careful where they post their information.    This notion that Mark Zuckerberg is amoral as stated by one that does not  have an absolute morality makes me laugh.  In my opinion, anyone that does not believe in an absolute right and wrong seems hypocritical to claim someone is amoral.

The more I listened to this podcast while I was mowing the lawn, the more incensed I became.  I kept trying to make mental notes to myself so that I would remember some quotes.  I did not mention most of them on here because this post would go on forever.  I was struck that a podcast labeled “This Week in Google” spent more time talking about Facebook than Google.  I think I have made my point that I do not agree with many things they say while still listening to them.  The reason I do this is because one of my hobbies is being a technology enthusiast.  Since in our country most of these types of industries come from one metropolitan, I follow these individuals.  Honestly, I do not think it is a good idea to be in lockstep beliefs with any one person anyway.  It is perfectly acceptable to take in many opinions to shape one’s own opinion.  In the end though, my disclaimer is that I will use the Bible to measure whether or not I believe it.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my opinions.  I realize that not everyone agrees with them but hey!  We all have them ;-)

What Happened to Internet Explorer?

You know something? A couple years ago I started hearing people bashing Internet Explorer and I thought it was just a bunch of people with sour grapes. I thought these people were just so anti-Microsoft that they were piling on. I hear it all the time. Over time though, there has definitely been some noticeable changes. Internet Explorer has become so clunky, slow and unstable. I asked myself on several occasions if these other browsers like Firefox and more recently Chrome were really faster or if Internet Explorer was getting worse.
I do not have any definitive testing methods to show this but I am of the mind it is both. Not only do we have faster browsers than ever before but Internet Explorer seems to be getting slower relative to its own past performance. I am all for better web performance with all of these new toys but I am still confused as to what happened to Internet Explorer. Like I said before, it seems like they have slowed, even when measured against themselves in past performance. It is in Microsoft’s own interest to stay on top so I am left to ask what has happened in their company that has caused their performance to go down that much?
I am wondering if maybe it could be that some of their smarter developers have jumped ship to go to other companies. Does Microsoft not know that their browser seems to be taking a nose dive in performance? What happened to them? I am not a big Microsoft fan but rather just amazed how someone that has been on top forever (it seems) to suddenly just drop off a cliff. What happened to them? If anyone knows this question, I would like to know. I mean real answers and not just “Microsoft is the Devil” mantra. There are always going to be those but there is a very noticeable decline in Microsoft’s web browser. This has been something that has been on my mind for a while. If you know real answers to this, I would like to know.

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