paulmccord.net

PAUL L. MCCORD JR. | K5GLH – OKLAHOMA CITY

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

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.

Update August 7, 2010

I just wanted to take this time to give an update on what we have been up to over the last week or so.  We have finally settled into our new apartment and put everything away. I still find myself turning down streets toward the other house and have to catch myself.  It is hard to get out of the habit.  We have updated our address with our mail, utilities and our ham radio licenses.  The Del City Amateur Radio Club license would not update over the Internet so we had to print an FCC Form 605 and mail it in.  That one has not updated yet.  On the W5DEL, we changed it to my dad’s address since he is the Trustee.

On another front, our new apartment is just about two miles straight off the North end of Tinker AFB runway.  The image below shows a Google Earth depiction of where we are in relation to the runway.  As you can see, the airplanes fly over the apartment about 500 feet above the ground and are very very loud.  I am not complaining because I actually think it is pretty cool.  I am sure it would bother some people but I enjoy watching them fly over.

Flight Path

As you can see in the picture below, there is a B1-B flying directly over our apartment.  You may notice that it is flying with no paint.  This is because it is going through depot maintenance at Tinker AFB and is doing a functional check flight (FCF).  If I had any brains, this would worry me since this plane is flying directly over my home after being torn down to a point that you can see through it.  Forgive the quality of the picture because it was taken with my 3.2 megapixel Blackberry phone.

B-1B Flying over apartment

When we were looking for an apartment, we were looking cheap so that we could save even more money toward our house.  We settled on an apartment complex on the North Side of Joe B. Barnes Regional Park on Reno Avenue in Midwest City.  There are two apartment complexes over there but we are in the one on the West end toward the post office.

We are next door to the post office, Fire Department, Police Department and a half mile from Midwest Regional Medical Center.  We do hear sirens driving by but surprisingly still less than we did at the old house.  In that house I would hear sirens at all hours of the night.  In all honesty, I have become a stalker of my old house.  Every time I am in that neighborhood to visit my dad, I find myself driving by to see if the buyers have moved in.  Strangely enough, it seems like they turned on both porch lights and went away.  After a week, no one has ever seen anyone over there.

As much as I love posting on this blog, I have been out of the habit for so long that I had to force myself to post anything.  It just seems like the few minutes of freedom and time to myself I just want to relax.  I will post more on here as well.  Between posts, you can see my short Twitter messages sent from my phone on the right side of the blog. I also post to Facebook from my phone as well. Another of my hobbies is photography that I have practically abandoned over the last year.  Seems like the only pictures I have taken were of the house during repairs.  I cannot wait to get back into taking pictures again.  It is so relaxing for me.  Also once we get moved into our new house, I will set up my ham radio shack again.  No huge towers like before but I will have small, low profile antennas.  Many people thought that I gave up on ham radio and that is not true.   In fact, as I type this, I am listening to my trunking police scanner next to the computer.  Keep checking in and I will eventually get back to normal.  This blog is something that I really enjoy so I will not be giving it up. In fact, I just renewed it for three more years a couple weeks ago.  I also renewed the Del City Amateur Radio Club’s website for three more years.  You can be in fear or comfort depending on your perspective, knowing that I am not going anywhere Winking smile.

Del City ARC Site

Yesterday, June 12, 2010 I uploaded the delcityarc.org site to a new server. It was actually a downgrade and I did it for two reasons.

1. The site does not require all the bells and whistles that my personal site does.
2. Price! I have hosted the site on Godaddy.com for the last three years and have been very happy with them but their price has gone up each year.

Godaddy is about as dependable as one can find when it comes to domain hosting. Unfortunately they charge by the month for hosting. The domain registration is good for as many years as you want to register and they do it for a flat rate per year. The hosting charges per month and by the time you pay for domain registration as well as hosting, you are up to $199.00 for three years. With that service, you get all sorts of features including scripting capability. This may not be that expensive but when you consider that it is not the only site that I maintain, it does add up.  The Del City ARC web site does not need all those features because it is not used for interactive communication. The blog is actually linked within a frame to http://dcarc.wordpress.com.

I have moved the site back over to its original hosting spot back in 2002 on Doteasy.com. They have a zero dollar hosting with limited 100 MB storage and 1 GB per month traffic. All you have to do is pay for the domain registration. While this would be inadequate for my personal page, it is perfect for the DCARC site. Since our blog is actually hosted on a different server, the site can do just what it did before. To the end user, there is virtually no change. If I did not announce what I have done, no one would have any idea that anything had changed. I just finished uploading the files into the folder of the new server. The site appears to be working wonderfully.  At the same time, I renewed this site for three more years.  I also renewed my Flickr account for two more years.

If you have any questions, please send an email to members@delcityarc.org.

Thanks,
Paul, K5GLH

Update Two Twelve Twenty Ten

What an amazing week.  A week ago it was a sad day when I had my tower taken down and sold.  The WIN System antenna was placed on my dad’s (W5QO) tower about 1/2 mile North of here.  The 443.3 repeater is back on the air at this new location with the antenna mounted on the Southwest side of the tower.  We were concerned how we were going to install the IRLP node on the repeater because there is already another node (3867).  Since both repeaters are now at the same location, they are using the same Internet service.  If you know anything about IRLP, Echolink, or any other streaming service, you know that audio and control commands happen on certain ports.  The ports are the same on all nodes of like systems.  Most people forward those ports to the node using a router.  The problem is that you cannot forward the same ports to more than one computer simultaneously.  This causes a unique problem because simply having a router will not be enough to have more than one node on one router.

We were left with either changing locations of the IRLP node and transmitting the signal to the repeater or getting another Internet account at the same address.  Transmitting the audio to the repeater from a remote location is not the desired method for various reasons.  For one thing the audio is not as clear by doing it this way.  We prefer to have the IRLP node connected directly to the repeater.  Secondly, having the node at a remote location makes moderating it more difficult.  By having it connected directly to the repeater we solve these issues and others.  We did some research and found it would not be that expensive to purchase another Internet Protocol (IP) address for the same Internet service.  This eliminates the problem of forwarding ports to more than one computer.  Now the 443.3 repeater’s node (8440) has its own IP address so that it does not require any ports to be forwarded.  For the purposes of security, we have to block all ports except the ones that are needed.

As of last night, 11 Feb 10, both repeaters are back online with both nodes fully operational.  We remain an affiliate of the WIN System so once the audio levels are set on the 443.3 repeater, the WIN System will return 24 hours a day.  The antenna is currently not as high as it was before it was moved but we are evaluating our options to remedy this limitation.  Either my dad, W5QO, Larry, KD5MAF, or myself will keep you up to date on the operation of the systems.

Thank you,

Paul, K5GLH

Future of Repeaters

On February 6, 2010 the K5GLH tower came down.  This is the tower that hosted the 443.3 MHz repeater (WIN System).  This was a move that had nothing to do with the Del City Amateur Radio club but rather to help facilitate the sale of my home.  As I have posted before, we are planning to buy a new home but we need to remove the tower because many potential buyers may see it as an eye sore.

Taking Tower Down

This was a sad moment for me but it was a necessary move to be able to sell our home for the most we can.  I took 87 pictures of this removal and have them on Flickr.

Taking Tower Down

In this picture you can see the top section coming down.

Taking Tower Down

As you can see in the photo above the last section is being removed.

Taking Tower Down

In this photo you can see the spot where the tower once was.  This is a very sad image to me although I know it was a necessary move.  I know many of you are wondering where this leaves the 443.3 MHz repeater.  Well the antenna that was on the top of this tower can be seen in the photo below.

Taking Tower Down

This antenna has been installed on a side mount on the same tower that the 145.25 MHz repeater is installed.  As soon as weather permits, this will be connected to the 443.3 repeater in the new location.  This being a side mount installation on the Southwest leg of the tower will likely result a null to the Northeast.

Taking Tower Down

In this photo you can see the UHF antenna being installed in its new configuration on the W5QO tower.  This will be the new home of the 443.3 MHz repeater.  At some point this antenna may be raised to the top on a candelabra type installation.  Keep an ear open for this repeater when the weather clears up.  This was a very busy weekend getting the tower taken down and the antenna being reinstalled at the new location.  I am hopeful that everything goes smooth on the new tower.  The IRLP will be a new challenge and may have to be moved as well to enable both nodes to work.  Each node requires its own unique external IP address to be able to operate.  This is because both nodes use the same ports and a router could not forward the same ports in two directions.  This is a small problem that will be resolved in the coming days.  The club officers were in agreement that we needed communication with the members as to the status of this move.  This post is being posted both on the club blog as well as my personal blog so that this information will be the most widely disseminated.

Thanks,

Paul, K5GLH

Delayed Dismantle

15

In our preparation to sell our home we have been trying to restore the house to a sellable condition including taking down my ham radio tower.  Today was supposed to be the day that it was taken down and sold.  Unfortunately the buyer could not come out today so it will have to wait until next weekend.  I have mixed feelings about selling the tower because as a ham radio operator I have always dreamed of having my own tower.  Unfortunately this is not compatible with a new home in the city.  Not to mention it is not attractive to many people.  The tower was installed August 3, 2003 and will likely come down next weekend.  To a ham radio operator, having a large tower is very attractive but not to the average person.  When we move, we will still have antennas in a low profile configuration.  I will likely still have a dipole antenna for high frequency (HF) operation.  I will also have a small vertical for VHF and UHF.  A large antenna of this sort requires a large area and some understanding neighbors.  I have no intention to give up my radio hobby but will just learn to do it in a more discreet way.  The antenna on the top belongs to our UHF repeater that will be taken down and re-installed on my dad’s tower with a side mount.  Currently the repeater is down because I had to pull the feed line loose so the tower can be disassembled.

I will still have remote control access to both of our repeaters.  It has been a lot of work trying to get the house back in shape to sell.  It did not help with the recent cold weather causing water lines to freeze.    I think the house will appraise at a higher value without the tower behind.  This is the reason we want to take it down sooner than later.  For those of you that depend on our 443.3 MHz UHF WIN System repeater, do not be concerned, because it will be back up soon.  It will be moved to the same location as the 145.25 MHz repeater.  If you have more questions not addressed here, let me know.

I Dislike Contesting!

CQ Contest CQ Contest, this is kilowat five golf lima hotel. CQ Contest CQ Contest,CQ Contest CQ Contest.  This is Mike three papa papa papa. CQ Contest CQ Contest. CQ Contest CQ Contest.  This is November seven Alpha X-Ray Lima. CQ Contest CQ Contest. CQ Contest CQ Contest this is whatever whatever whatever. You are 63.  Roger…  You are five and nine into Michigan.  CQ Contest CQ Contest. CQ Contest CQ Contest. This is Kilowat eight zanzabar romeo sierra.

If this sounds like a bunch of gibberish, you are not alone.  The hobby of ham radio seems to be plagued by these never ending contests that take the entire band with never ending CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest.  I too feel this is as appealing as fingers on a chalk board and eating glass at the same time.  Today I turned on the 20 meter band and it was nothing but CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest all the way across the band.  This usually prompts me to turn the radio off because it could scare off a sasquatch.  If you are one of those that likes to get on the radio and just talk, then good luck today because it is nothing but anarchy and chaos… CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest,CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest,CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest, CQ Contest CQ Contest.

I will never understand what the appeal of this CQ Contest CQ Contest,CQ Contest CQ Contest is all about.  Maybe it is just me.

 

The End.

Towers Fixed

You may remember last week I posted about a storm that came through and caused some damage around my dad’s house along with mine.  This storm caused a lot of hail damage to my car, bent the repeater antenna on my tower and also on my dad’s tower.  I just did not have the time, nor the desire to climb the tower and try to fix the damage.  As I get older, I do not feel comfortable climbing the tower to work on antennas when I do not have a safety harness.  Well my dad is very resourceful and managed to find a tower climber and fixed both antennas yesterday.  It is nice having a dad that use to be in the radio industry for many years.  That is one crisis that is not a problem anymore.  Thankfully the repeaters were not affected in the first place.  both the two meter and the 70 cm repeaters still work fine and it was just the repeaters themselves that were affected.  Disaster is averted! :)

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.

Internet Radio

Internet Radio

This weekend I bought myself a new toy and boy do I love it.  This goes right along with things that I speak about all the time and that is the Internet and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).  This new toy is a Grace wireless Internet Radio that uses wifi, 802.11 b, or g to connect to my wireless network.   It works with a web site called Reciva that lists thousands of radio stations worldwide.  You can sign up for a free account and then customize this page to include your favorite stations, and podcasts.  You register your radio through this site and then you can jump to your favorite stations.  You do not need the web site to get to your web sites because  you can search through stations by location, type, call letters, or by search.  Above you can see that I was listening to the Leo Laporte, TWiT live stream.  This is pretty amazing as the quality is absolutely amazing.  The photo below shows that I was listening to KSFO in San Francisco.  Since I am in Oklahoma City, you can see this would be impossible without the Internet.

Internet Radio

I have tuned in BBC in England, as well as stations in many other places we have lived.  As most of you know, this radio is not necessary to listen to stations online as you can go to any of their home pages and just click on the link.  The benefit of the radio is that it makes it possible without using the computer at all.  This radio has some amazing sound for its size though it comes with a cable so you can connect it to your home stereo.  I am so satisfied with it though if you lose Internet, it takes a bit to come back online.  The antenna you see above the radio is nothing but a regulare wifi antenna that is adjustable so you can move it where it is not visible from the front.  This radio is very sturdy and feels like it weighs five pounds.

I have seen some streams that are as low as 16 kbps and as high as 128 kbps.  Even the lower ones sound pretty good.  I like the ability to add stations to Reciva’s web site.  I sometimes listen to the WIN System, a ham radio linking system originating from San Diego’s K6JSI.  I was able to go to the WIN System’s web site and copy the universal resource locator (URL) and then paste it into the Reciva’s page.  The URL is the web site address for those of you that are unfamiliar with the term.  This made it accessible from the radio’s menu.  Another thing that I love is that you can go to a web site that has podcasting available and copy the RSS feed and paste it into the Reciva site and make it readily available to my new radio.  I am very excited about how easy this thing works.  I can listen to an FM radio station on another continent on my home stereo.  How can you compete with that?  The down side is that I paid $179.00 for this little radio.

Most people would not be willing to pay that much for this but once they see it in action, they are convinced.  My son and I spent hours last night tuning in stations from distant lands.  I could go on for hours but I just wanted to share the new toy.  For those radio operators that enjoy things like this, it is worth the expense.  I recommend it for sure.

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