Archive for the ‘Public Facing’ Category

Anything but Wireless

April 15, 2013
Sometime I feel a need to explore something or another. I am not sure if I am trying to relive events in my past, or just try things out for fun. A long time ago I was a communications technician in the Royal Air Force and though my life was filled with, well, life I suppose, I never got around to exploring Amateur Radio.
 I knew of HAMs, and completely understood the technology and equipment they used, the way the ionosphere worked to enable them to get great distances with their Morse code, the mechanics of their equipment, transmitters and receivers, but never found the need to actually get the license and try it.
Now I am retired, I have a reasonable computer system and a spare room. Here in this room I play my days away, tinkering, writing, messing about with wires, servo’s, camera parts,  thing-a-ma-jigs and doo-hickies. I discovered that I can explore the radio spectrum using a long wire to a nearby tree, a radio receiver dongle that plugs into a USB socket on my PC and some free software known as HDSDR.
A ‘HAM’ would have a high quality Receiver, a well balanced antenna system, excellent recording equipment, and a relationship with lots of other HAMs with whom they would communicate as and when the heavens, time and weather allowed them.
I have not taken the exam, therefore have no call-sign as they are allocated post exam, so I am not a part of the club. Yes, I hear Morse code, and decode it to read that SP4DNX had a strong signal at 11:04Hrs, but I cannot share that with him as I am unable to transmit, or even get his  details from the net to let him know I heard his contact.
I hear RTTY (Radioteletype (RTTY) is a telecommunications system consisting originally of two or more electromechanical teleprinters in different…) as well, and decoding that I hear people as far away as Italy, Moscow, Scandinavia are broadcasting in the hopes of learning how far their signals carry, but I hear them and cannot let them know.
I am starting to find other things on the radio waves too, things the ordinary listener maybe never hears and that for me is intriguing. I hope to share some of those things here soon.

On-Line Games and Bad People

April 3, 2013

So I retired from work, that is, retired from sitting at a desk all day staring at computer screens and started to find myself at home, sitting at the computer all day, playing games such as World of Warcraft, Eve-online and others. I got hooked, and found myself playing from first thing till bedtime.
With time on my hands, I was able to invest 10 hours, 14 hours and sometimes 16 hours a day fighting bad guys, planting turnips and pvp’ing my way to oblivion. It’s a strange thought, but I had to tell myself that most of the players were way younger than my sixty odd years.

Many of the other players I interacted with were quite possibly, from the way they used grammar, diction and communicative skills, five years shy of their fifteenth birthday. For  some, the image of a sixty year old player was too much to comprehend and they demonstrated this with vile communications, un-civil manners and stupidity that would earn then them more than a slap if their parents were watching.

I have been a communications technician since I joined the Royal Air Force in 1967, I have built and owned computers since they first became available, and one, a kit called the UK101, had a whopping 1k of memory, one thousand  and twenty four bits, smaller than many cookies in this day and age. Yet other players assumed I was stupid, uneducated, prepubescent and or worse, a target for their own filth and venomous attacks.

I have learned playing on-line games requires a considerably thick skin, the ability to effectively remove yourself socially and the need to ignore anything that interacts with you that you find distasteful. If I had children, I would unplug them and send them outside to play, in the fresh air, with physical, not pixel, toys.
The very best aid to surviving on-line games, is the ability to switch off the ‘game’ and do something else, anything at all, but to tear yourself away from doing whatever it is you are doing at the time.

Some of the things I do, is write blogs, grab the camera and shoot at something, work on the engineering tasks I have in the shed, grab the piano keyboard and wind up the headphone volume, write my php for my text tasks, grab the iPad and sit somewhere nice and chill watching youtube rubbish, even grab the flight simulator and fly my aeroplane across the Rockies to San Luis Obispo.

It does not matter what I do, as long as I severe that connection with rude, childish and ignorant people I found on the web playing games.

The more I stop playing World of Warcraft, Eve-online, Aion, Star Wars et al, the better I feel in myself and the more I enjoy my days.

Remove anonymity from the web?

April 3, 2013

Until the birth of the Internet, privacy was what you made it for most people. Celebrities such as senior politicians, movie stars and sports heroes, their lives spilled over into the media, the media that helped them make their fame. They may have had the funds and opportunity to lead a dual life, a secret life divorced from the media, but for the main, if their lives were hyped up by the media, they sacrificed some anonymity in order to reap financial or other reward.

The average person could walk along any street away from their home, in any town, and unless they made an effort to appear conspicuous, they were as anonymous and private as they wanted to be. It was and still is accepted, that if you make no attempt to force yourself into the public eye, publicity will pass you by as silently as the clouds cover the night-time stars. We accepted that any photograph taken in a public place was as free from restriction, as if the observer was at the point the picture was taken.

Then, along came the Internet and introduced more people to the nasty side of normality. Normal people when talking to strangers were polite. If asked who they were, they could, and still can, tell a lie. It is normal to lie to strangers in order to protect yourself, your thoughts or your intentions. Telling a lie is not a crime for the most part.

If a person approached a total stranger, swore at them, called them nasty names and tried to assault them, that person would feel the force of reprisal, counter-attack or the hand of a police officer, and quite rightly so. Yet, with today’s internet demand for anonymity, that person believes he has a right to be obtuse, offensive and as mean spirited as he wants to be without fear of retribution.

Anonymity on the web is not a right, social values are not swept to one side simply because  the internet occupies the time and space between the offender and the victim. If every person who used the internet did so in the knowledge that they could be held responsible for their foul mouthed unwanted interjections, the web would be a much nicer place.

If you would not say it in front of your aunt, you should not be saying it on the web to total strangers. I read an article on the internet pages of a national newspaper and was unsurprised at the vileness of the comments and the scathing attacks on the correspondent and other contributors.

Facebook and Twitter are laced with off colour remarks and opinions, filth, stupidity, foul-mouthed offensive remarks seem to be the norm in this day and age, civility for many seems to be consigned to the scrapheap. Is it time to remove the ability to be anonymous, and time to introduce responsibility for our words and actions on the net?

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