Category Archives: Education

A Reply

Hans, a Dutch ham radio operator has a great blog: Ham Radio Blog PD0AC. Today there was a post from a ham bemoaning the loss of the good old days, and how we have lowered the standards, etc., etc., etc. I tried to post this as a comment, but all the formatting caused Hans site to burp. So here you go.

To those of you who are not hams or English majors, I’ll try to do something more interesting tomorrow.

ORIGINAL:

Now days any retard can memorize 40 questions and pass the technician exam. Then they buy a $40.00 handy talky and are all suddenly audio and RF experts.

Listening to the local repeaters is like going to kinder garden everyday. What a boring bunch of no nothings it has become. It’s so dummed down that my dog has a technician license. It’s a wasteland of people with zero expertise and no personality. Frankly I am glad I left it behind.

And I hold an Extra Class (20 wpm) ticket and First class commercial license.

Because you are promoting the importance of intelligence and education, I’ve edited your comments with regard to grammar, spelling, punctuation, and content. Errors are highlighted in yellow; corrections and comments are in red.

Now days any retard (Merriam Webster’s definition of this word when used as a noun includes the comment often offensive can memorize 40  forty
(the accepted convention is that all numbers less than one hundred one are expressed as words, not numerals. The technician test is thirty-five questions, which are drawn from a pool of 426; the statistical probability of memorizing forty and passing the exam is negligible.)  questions and pass the technician exam. (It would be more practical to memorize the correct answers rather than the questions.) Then they  (the plural pronoun they is inconsistent with the singular noun retard to which it refers)  buy a $40.00
(forty dollar)  handy talky  (conventionally spelled handie-talkie)
and are all  (
The plural pronoun all is inconsistent its noun antecedent, which in this case is, once again, retard.) suddenly audio and RF experts.

Listening to the local repeaters is like going to kinder garden  kindergarten  everyday  every day. What a boring bunch of no nothings
know-nothings  it has become. (Does it refer to people, conversations, a repeater, or the experience? It is not used to refer to people. These same comments apply to the following use of it’s as well.)  It’s so dummed
dumbed  down that my dog has a technician license (A federal offense in violation of Title 47 CFR §97.9(a) Operator license grant, which states that “The person named in the operator license grant…) It’s a wasteland of people with zero expertise and no personality  lacking personalities. Frankly I am glad I left it  (there is no noun antecedent to which it refers.)
behind.*

And I hold an Amateur  Extra Class (20 wpm) ticket  license
and First class  Class  commercial license. (I’m not sure what you mean by a “First class commercial license.” In 1984, the Federal Communications Commission discontinued the First Class Radiotelephone Operator Licenses and replaced it with a special lifetime General Radiotelephone Operator License.
Are you referring to one of these or did the FCC issue you some type of special license?)

When I passed my check ride as a pilot, the examiner handed me my paperwork with the traditional statement, “Congratulations, you now have a license to learn.” So it is with amateur radio. New hams get their licenses and through experience and experimentation learn why things work the way they do; why they had to learn what they had to in order to pass the exam. As they add experience they figure out new things that you and I never knew were possible.

* Thank you; so are we.

Greetings and Salutations

(Close of a letter to the President of Pennsylvania)  Your Excellency's Most obedient and most humble servant - Thomas Jefferson

(Close of a letter to the President of Pennsylvania)
Your Excellency’s
Most obedient
and most humble servant -
Thomas Jefferson

Good day,

It’s interesting, and perhaps a little embarrassing, to compare communications styles over the ages.

Paul the Apostle begin his letter to the Church in Thessalonica with, “Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonica which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace. We always thank God for you all, mentioning you in our prayers continually.”

It was common in Colonial times to begin a letter with a variation of, “I hope this letter finds you and your family well,” and even George Washington closed his letters with “Your obedient servant, G. Washington.” It was such a common complementary close that it was often abbreviated as “Your obdt. svt.,”

When I was learning to write, we began each letter with, “Dear” even if we had never even met the person, and usually closed the letter with “Sincerely.”

Today, few write letters; as a matter of fact writing anything of length or consequence, being content to text, tweet or snap a selfie.

Wishing you a fine Sunday with family or friends, I remain yours truly,

Steve

CDC and Ebola

Spanish flu treatment center Smithsonianmag.com

Spanish flu treatment center
Smithsonianmag.com

My congressman ran a poll asking his constituents if they were confident in the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) ability to combat Ebola. He’s probably sorry he asked, because this is how I responded. Obviously these are my own opinions (aren’t they always?), although I did try to check basic facts (number of dead in World War I, etc.)

I spent 30 years in the healthcare industry, starting off in a technical clinical discipline, and later, after completing my graduate degree I moved into management and was a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Administrators. My current position includes support for emergency management.

CDC is very good at doing certain things, but their best work has involved basic research, which doesn’t mean “simple” but getting to the root issues behind a scientific question. Basic research is often the most result oriented because instead of jumping to a search for the solution, it instead focuses on learning about the problem without preconceived notions. The classic example was when Dr. Fleming noticed that something was affecting the other bacteria in his experiment. By studying this “something” he discovered penicillin.

It appears that in recent that the attention of the leadership of the CDC has been drawn away from basic scientific research and become more focused on political issues, which well may have impacted their effectiveness. For example, there are reliable reports that CDC has spent significant effort to shut down doctors who believe in treating chronic Lyme disease. Some physicians believe that the organisms that causes Lyme disease, and an associated disease, babesiosis can become dormant in a patient, but when triggered by trauma, or other events, the symptoms become active again. Although not scientifically proven, patients have reported improvement when treated with a regimen of certain antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs.

The CDC has not proven these conditions do not exist, which is understandable given that it is impossible to prove a negative. However, they have taken this issue on as a crusade and allegedly gone so far as to classify this as a Homeland Security issue in order to justify the use of legal authorities and law enforcement techniques.

Unfortunately, they have not been quite as enthusiastic at adhering to basic, proven infection control techniques they haven’t exerted the same amount of effort to adhere to basic protocols resulting in the exposure of CDC personnel to anthrax and the loss of at least one container of viable small pox. Incidentally, small pox was the first chemical weapon when the blankets of small pox victims were given to Native Americans, thereby intentionally introducing the disease to the indigenous population of North America.

I’ll give the CDC the benefit of the doubt. I think they can handle this IF the politically appointed and wanna-be-police types get out of the way. Should we cut off contact with western Africa and deprive them of essential expertise, medicine and equipment? I think not. While it may be politically unpopular, until effective treatments or vaccines are perfected, quarantine may be the most logical step. The health professionals actively working with Ebola patients at the handful of designated hospitals are the best trained and equipped. However, mistakes are made, equipment fails, and while the doctors, nurses, therapists and technologists may follow the protocols correctly, is it possible for a housekeeper or a maintenance person to become infected? I think so.

It may be wise to quarantine people who have been exposed to Ebola. The Ebola hospital staffs may just have to live and work within the confines of the facility for the duration. It’s an inconvenience but our military men and women have been living with such inconveniences for the past eleven years, all the while being shot at, rocketed, mortared and the target of suicide bombers and IEDs.

If the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy – the Navy’s 1200 bed hospital ships are not being deployed elsewhere, they could provide medical care as well as quarantine. Those exposed and being monitored would not have to live in military austerity, but instead could be housed in nicer accommodations to make the experience less painful; a hotel leased by the government, or perhaps a cruise ship. Nice accommodations, but safely out of circulation until everyone is sure that the individual is not infected

If everyone exposed to Ebola were quarantined for 28 days, it just might prove to be significantly cheaper to pay for lost wages and accommodations for these people than to let the disease spread. If the CDC puts the science and safety first, they’ll succeed. If the politics and power struggles take precedence, stand by. Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. The “Spanish” flu of 1918 is estimated to have killed between 50 million and 100 million; by comparison, the total death toll of the Great War (World War I)— all military and civilians—is estimated at 43 million.

Bottom line—let the scientists do their job.

Windows 10

Not the real logo  - or is it?

Not the real logo
- or is it?

After the fiasco of Windows 8, Microsoft has decided to forego Windows 9 and jump right to Windows 10. There may be several reasons for this:

  1. By skipping a number they can bypass all the customers who would suggest that Windows 9 was just the repair for the Windows 8 disaster and should be free.
  2. They’re emulating the observation that until the reboot, fans had noted that, “Even number Star Trek movies don’t suck.”

Good luck with that.

Here’s my well-worth-the-price free advice.

There’s a time for a tool that has a wide range of capabilities. I love my Gerber that fits in a small holster on my belt and can be configured as pliers, wire cutter, screwdriver, bottle opener, knife, etc. If you reference “Swiss Army knife” people immediately visualize the hand red handled tool and the concept of versatility. Both are wonderful products, but if I were being wheeled into surgery and saw either of those on the tray, I’d run out of the room, even if already under those high power pre-op drugs.

Neither a man nor a tool can be all things to all people.

So, last night I rooted my tablet that I use for software defined radio to allow it to speak Linux as well as Android.

Maybe Redmond should review the following educational video (85 seconds).

Shimmer

https://screen.yahoo.com/shimmer-floor-wax-000000185.html

The Worst Thing to Happen to an Inventor

Thomas Alva Edison

Thomas Alva Edison

When Thomas Edison was asked about his failures while trying to develop a practical light bulb, his reply was, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”*

Inventors are driven to ask why; to find out what comes next. So are they happy when they get everything just right?

For inventors, the thrill of the hunt is the chase, not the kill. When all the challenges are met, all the goals achieved, it’s time to either take it apart and try something different, or else immediately find a totally different challenge.

Our minds tell us, “I’ve successfully found out how to do this; now in order to learn I need to try something new.”

* The World Bank. 1994. World Development Report 1994: Infrastructure for Development. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press…” (via Google)http://darwin.nap.edu/books/NX006728/html/35.html

Time, Time, Time

See what’s become of me.

Another masterpiece from Simon and Garfunkel. Great cover by the Bangles. Totally awesome guitar riff.

In the real world – time means that, just like everything else I possess, I am passing my time to others. My daughter’s soccer tournament; my son’s college preparation meeting.

This is how it’s supposed to be.

However, unlike so many challenges in life, it’s got a great guitar riff.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnZdlhUDEJo (Simon and Garfunkel 1966)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taf8fYP9Y-A (Bangles 2008)

Life and music; music and life. They go together so well – almost as if there were some Supreme Being helping us through all these challenges.

But, if you read scripture, you know that God loves music, so there’s no surprise here.

And a one, and a two….

 

Pity My Wife

Christopher Lloyd, genius as Emmett Brown, genius

Christopher Lloyd, genius as Emmett Brown, genius

If you’re a fan of Back to the Future (yes, I know it’s an oldie; well, it’s an oldie back where I come from) you may noticed that Doc Brown was a bachelor in 1985, 1955 and 2015. Did you ever wonder why?

Of course not.

One hundred twenty-seven clocks and a studio apartment-sized amplifier (with a very slight chance of overload). The guy talks to pictures, and names his pets after famous scientists; and all the scientists are male – where the heck was Marie Curie given his polonium fascination?

Then there was his unquenchable thirst for knowledge. (“Is this a robbery?” “No, it’s a science experiment!”)

Emmett Brown was the penultimate absent minded, obsessive compulsive, mad AND absent minded scientist. It was only when, after trying three other time periods, he finally met the right woman. A teacher with a love of real science who was also enamored with science fiction. The one woman for him.

Incidentally, it’s curious that his time machine needed to hit 88; when ham radio operators send “88” in Morse Code it means “Love & Kisses.”

On the other hand, my wife is the only woman for me. However, for her it’s kind of like living with Doc Brown. I drag home all kinds of things to feed my science habit. Don’t look in the bottles and jars on my microscope table unless you really like unusual insects and such.

Wife: “What’s this wire?”

Me: “It’s part of a project; you know.”

Wife: “You got another package today. What is it?

Me: “It’s connecting cable to allow RS-232 TTL signals to be interpreted on a standard USB bus.”

Wife: “Well, you ask a stupid question and you get…”

 

Wife: “Why do you need another computer tablet?”

Me: “Well, the other ones are busy and this one will be running software defined radio.”

Wife: “But didn’t you just sell one on eBay?”

Me: “Yes, but that couldn’t run actual Android, so none of the apps I need will run.”

Wife: “Well, you ask a stupid question and you get…”

Now, in all fairness I do have some good points, I cook; I help around the house; I chauffer kids, and when it comes to their science projects, it’s all mine. I even handle the student driver issues. However, to the other wives out there—if you get frustrated by clothes left on the floor; if you don’t understand why your husband who has a PhD in electrical engineering can’t run the dishwasher; if your husband collects old cars, or beer cans, or golfs every weekend…

Feel fortunate—you don’t know how lucky you are compared to my wife.