Several weeks back I wrote an introduction to my first amateur radio transceiver, a handheld Baofeng BF-F8HP. While researching these radios I kept reading blog posts and reviews indicating that performance is marginal on most stock “rubber duck” aerial antennas.
I decided my first amateur radio experiment should be to try my hand at adding a counterpoise wire to the radio chassis to see if I can quantify any performance gains over the stock antenna. Rationale for this decision was simplicity—I already had all the tools and supplies needed down in my basement from other projects.
It was five minutes to noon and cold rain fell hard against a troop of girl scouts as they ran with poster-board projects from the door of the Hopewell Branch public library to their parents’ idling cars.
I’ll wait five more minutes, I thought as I sat dry in my own car watching through the rear-view mirror. The exam doesn’t begin until twelve-fifteen. Maybe I’ll catch a break in the rain.
I spent two months preparing for my Technician exam and set my eyes to attend the closest license session, a twenty-minute drive from my home that was sponsored by the Delaware Valley Radio Association (DVRA). By the time exam day arrived I had taken several online practice tests and passed most with a comfortable margin, missing only two or three questions on each attempt. I’ve got this, I thought.
Any sensible writer or blogger knows the act of writing inner-most thoughts and feelings is analogous to swallowing a tortilla chip with a sore throat—painful! But it’s the act of publishing our writing that really wratchets up the risk we take as writers.
To write well requires an immense leap of faith. My current publishing struggle can be summarized in the form of the question, How or when is someone going to use my words against me in the future?
The left-pane of the three-panel image shows the Google Chrome browser displaying news article suggestions by default. To disable this:
Enter chrome://flags in the browser search bar
The middle-pane of the image shows various browser settings in this well-hidden menu.
Scroll down to the setting labeled Show server-side suggestions on the New Tab page and select Disable in the dropdown box. Press the Relaunch Now button that appears at the bottom to save the settings
The right-pane of the image displays new, blank Google Chrome tabs without any news article suggestions.
Talented fiction writers are skilled at drawing upon their readers’ five senses–sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. But what if a writer had a way to truly immerse their readers into an environment where one could literally smell the zeppoles from the carnival stand or feel the forceful rush of wind from a moving passenger train past the platform? The technology exists—sort of—in the form of near field communication (NFC) tags paired with mobile smartphone and tablet technology.
NFC tags are a form of radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips that cost mere pennies and are often sold in the form of self-adhesive stickers. Requiring no self-contained power, NFC tags are easily programmed from freely-available software. And when an NFC tag is physically “tapped” by an NFC-enabled smartphone or tablet, the tag issues commands to the smartphone to take an action like setting an alarm, starting an application, or for the purpose…
Five days from now I will visit my local library and sit for the Level 1 Technician Ham Radio License exam. I feel confident I will pass the exam largely from the help I received by three study resources below.
Depending on your age and prior knowledge of Ham radio operation, you may believe that knowledge of Morse code is required as part of the examination process. This is no longer true as of 2003. Knowledge of Morse code is no longer a requirement to achieve a Ham radio license!
The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual
I began my adventure studying for the Level 1 Technician Ham Radio license exam by reading through The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual only once. I admit I felt intimidated when I reached chapter two, but I pushed ahead regardless of thoroughly understanding some of the context and lessons. I purchased the Amazon Kindle electronic version for $19.95 as opposed to the $29.95 soft cover. I experienced some formatting issues with the two-column practice questions and answers, but it isn’t a large enough roadblock to purchase the softcover book if you’re already comfortable with e-readers.
The Ham Whisperer on YouTube
After reading The ARRL Ham Radio License Manual I discovered The Ham Whisperer on YouTube, specifically Andy’s Technician License (Updated and good through June 2018!) playlist. The format of the video series is excellent as Andy walks through the question pool, culminating each lesson with a brief quiz of the actual exam questions. I really like that each lesson is structured in approximately ten minute sessions. More can be found on Andy’s website here: hamwhisperer.com.
Simultaneously while working my way through The Ham Whisperer playlist I would take a random practice exam from HAMSTUDY: Technician Class (2014-2018). I took two practice exams per day over the period of two and a half weeks. My first six exams I failed miserably but slowly started to watch my scores climb into the 80% up to an average now of 96%. The point here is repetition as actual exam questions and answers are presented. The exams are structured well and include the correct answer and a brief explanation upon conclusion of each exam.
I recently stumbled upon Quest, software created and distributed under an open-source license by Alex Warren for individuals to write and play text adventure games and interactive fiction. The platform is extremely flexible, allowing reading/playing in either a web browser, downloading to a PC for offline play, and even allowing the option for creating mobile application distributions.
Writing Quest Stories
Quest comes in two varieties for writing your own stories. You can either download the open-source software for Microsoft Windows OS to create your masterpiece locally on your machine, or you can create a free account on the website to build your story online. Key features include:
Do you remember any notable events from the year 2011? Pop culture websites tell me it was the year the band R.E.M. disbanded after thirty-one years, comedian Russell Brand and singer Katy Perry filed for divorce, and actor Charlie Sheen was fired from the hit television show Two and a Half Men.
I don’t recall significant personal life events attributed to 2011, but records show me in July of that year I bought a Dell XPS 17″ laptop to replace a two-year old Dell netbook that was a tad too small for everyday use. I still use this laptop six and a half years later.