23 Jun 2010

Re: Smartfinder

A bit behind this week with the blogging, too much to do and apparently not enough time to do it (or something like that), anyway last week I reported on being unable to find my wallet (again)  "see previous post...",  so I decided to buy a simple gadget that might at least prevent such further incidents, and help me in my hour of need if it does happen again.
I came up with "Smartfinder" (Details in earlier post) - there are other types of these available but I opted for this one, it's not expensive at around £23.00 inc shipping - its very straight forward

Remove the battery protection films on the main base unit/and which ever colour fob you require, the fob beeps twice to show activation - then test by pressing the relevant colour button on the base - I have used the yellow for keys - now on key-ring, and the blue on my wallet, now lose your keys somewhere and test it !  Batteries last 6 months plus ??  and in normal household use will operate the sounder up to 15mtrs, they say 30m, but thats way off in my opinion - each fob comes with a double sided sticky for putting on flat surfaces, and a hook "Thingy" to hang the base unit - as I said they're NOT expensive, most importantly they work.
Only "Gripe, if you could call it that, is the size of the  fobs which surprisingly are 4cm square, slightly larger than I'd imagined - the base unit is 7.5cm square (sorry don't do inches).
No mention as to what frequency they operate on.
Heres a pic for size against an SD card

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17 Jun 2010

Smart Gadgets

Ever had that nauseating feeling in the pit of your stomach, your just about to leave home, got car keys, phone, wallet - wheres the wallet? when did I last see/use it?
Your mind starts going into overdrive - where did I go shopping - the times I got half way to London going to work and called in to get fuel only  to realize I'd left my wallet on the kitchen unit. I do have a long history with "Mislaying" keys and Wallets as my xyl will testify - though it's a different matter when T H E Y lose theirs, I usually get, why did you move it, it must have been you.
Well this morning I got caught again - just about to leave, Keys/phone/  wallet, oh no, not again !   the usual frantic search commenced, sometimes checking one location three times, back tracking trying to think when I last used, or even saw it, I phoned the local supermarket to see if anything bearing the description/name had been handed in, nothing, I even drove to the station car park with spare key to check my xyl's car (I used it on Tuesday) no sign.
I checked through the house once more, now conceding my wallet  had indeed gone, washing basket, bathroom ah.. I know just check the garage, turned it upside down as I have been working  out there during the last two weeks, one corner has a stack of old newspapers that I'm about to process (turning them into Fuel logs) and there on top in a polythene bag one wallet you can imagine the relief .
So I came in, not to phone the bank, and building society but find some gadget that would help "Prevent" a recurrence, and spotted this:- ok it's a bit drastic perhaps but I'm fed up mislaying keys and wallets.


It's not expensive and if it helps in moments of need its got to be money well spent,  it has a small pendant "Base Unit", and four Fobs - and double sided adhesive to stick on flat surfaces, apparently the units work "up to 30mtrs", though I suspect this will be significantly reduced in normal household use, as to what frequency these things work on I'm not sure, I'm really guessing here - somewhere around 430Mhz ? I only say that as my weather station does,  perhaps some knowledgeable soul will tell us.
Anyway I've ordered one - will report back

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16 Jun 2010


Still  sniffing around the K3, my FT450 is a pretty reasonable (General Purpose) radio, but the inbuilt keyer is awful, try as I may I cannot send decent cw with it,  Iambic ? cannot decide which mode its in, It keeps "slipping in extra dits", and drives me mad - the FT817 is the same (Probably uses the same module).
My original H/Brew cmos keyer broke, and my old "Masterkeyer" got a soaking which did'nt do it any good so have purchased another (dare I say it - MFJ Product) in the form of their deluxe memory keyer, it looks fine (at a distance).....build quality cheap ! but sends very smooth cw - no extra dits !

Back to the K3 - Looks even more tempting here.

Elecraft K3 Assembly in 7 Minutes!

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13 Jun 2010

Trying Fedora

No radio for a few days here as I have been catching up with updating my Ubuntu Linux system  along with a load of scanning which I've been meaning to clear for ages, having had a good session I STILL have loads to do, another time perhaps.
On my travels I have also been looking up some of the latest Linux offerings, in particular "Fedora 13" - I have tried a couple of their previous distro's and in fairness they have all been up to scratch, as compared to the popular "Suse | Ubuntu" distributions.
Downloading the new  image went smoothly, as did the disk burning - I use KDE's  K3B which will run under "Ubuntu" with the set of KDE libraries installed - I use it because it always works 100%, I must have burned 100's of disk's and it has never let me down.

Launching into Fedora from the CD brings up the Desktop , which happens to be Gnome, same as Ubuntu - and the first thing I noticed was the scanner worked right away - I remember the major hassle trying to get this particular Epsom model to work under Ubuntu, so that was a plus, also the Canon IP4500 worked out of the box, bear in mind this is running from the CD, (Must check the xyl's Laser too -- that's a Canon).
Also the network applet came up in the system tray (Which Ubuntu did not - I had to download it from their repository)

It looked the same as Ubuntu except perhaps for a few minor cosmetic changes to the Desktop, the major difference I noticed on this distribution was the lack  of packaged software, as I remember, even the original Ubuntu  image I downloaded some four years ago had "Most" of the basic software one would expect to get up and running, things Like the Open Office suite - the equivalent of "Micro$hafts" Office, lack of image editing like Gimp, although it did come with Web Cam software and it is plug n play and works fine.
I suspect this distribution may be aimed at the more experienced Linux user - Although it is  very popular and downloading and installing "Packages" IS very easy these days with the various software repositories that ALL the main distributions have - Fedora is no different, and you can add to and build your own custom system. I am thinking along the lines of another Laptop here and it could well be a Linux one - I like the look and feel of the Gnome Desktop as I've been using it for about four years now, the other main Desktop is KDE which you should find on the suse and Mandriva distributions,  I tried that last year - very clean looks and very sharp looking fonts - but I think I'll be sticking with my Ubuntu on this machine for a while yet, over the time I have been running it I've added many packages and it has just evolved - it performs everyday tasks flawlessly and does not crash.

Thumbs up for Fedora despite lacking in software:

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8 Jun 2010

Personalized Web Targeting

This is NOT Radio related but hey   ....
A couple of days ago, or it may have been 5, who knows - I checked out some pricing on some spare parts and supplies for general household installation - in particular "Bathrooms", and on visiting some of my regular web sites afterwards had noticed banners displaying exactly what I'd been checking out, some of these sites do use advertising banners but it had never been a problem.
After a couple of days of this It seemed as though these "Banners" were following me around - just about every other site containing "Advertising Banners displayed the same items I'd looked at, now this problem is'nt new, but it is to me - the problem is by a cookie thats placed within your browser, and every time you land on an associate site up pops this damned banner, they call it personalized web targeting, I bet some  you have probably come across it.
They do give you the option to "Temporarily Disable" the banners, (Though frankly what good that is god only knows) as other "associated partners" would still display them, or you have the option to "Opt out" as they put it, which would put another cookie on your system saying so, (so deleting your cookies would have no effect) what bothers me is that they say information gathered is anonymous, yeah right!
I was going to put up this particular companies Privacy Policy, but thought better of it (I also have not mentioned any names), they are not British...
This is Big Brother, we're all innocently surfing away, and lets be honest, most of us do not pay enough  heed to security and privacy, whilst "They" watch and gather information on your tastes and surfing preferences, then bombard you with unwanted pop-ups and advertising - I  am using Firefox and am hoping by going into the privacy section (exceptions), and typing in the offending web address, then add "Block" this will prevent a further similar incident - deleting all cookies won't necessarily help, as  a lot of sites need active cookies to display, this one is what "they" call a "Persistent" cookie, Right...

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2 Jun 2010

Foxtab for Firefox

Foxtab is an add on, you can find it here it looks pretty good and seems to work well on both my Win and Linux machine - I like the ability to put all the blog pages together under one roof, so it's very quick and easy to find the pages.

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Lots of things been going on during this last week but little in the way of radio, besides which we had visitors over the bank holiday weekend - 6m had been quiet for a couple of days until I listened for a spell during yesterday  afternoon (Tues) around 3:30 and the band was crawling with activity -  in fact I could hear stations from europe on the HT with stock "Ducky",  managed to work a couple and then it went quiet and conditions improved again later, I had a gremlin in the works during a Psk contact on 40m last night, I think it was an LY1EPC special event  who had come back giving a 599, on returning I switched to my "Quickie" report macro set, and the macro layout is different and I must have hit the wrong one - tried to cancel and sent the wrong one again (and again) ! - after a rather prolonged pause a Russian station called him, and I thought I'd lost him for good - in the meantime I'd managed to type ahead, explaining the error - unbelievably he was still there calling me, however I did manage to complete the contact - just one of those times I guess when I was all fingers and thumbs, I suppose it happens to us all at some time??  anyone watching must have wondered what I was doing :-)  thank you very much - the op,  for persevering with that one.
I have now also updated my Linux box to the latest Ubuntu 10.04 - I have checked "some" of the important functions such as "Printing/sound/ and the important software packages in use, as sometimes when upgrading you can lose some functionality, you only have to look in their forums to see some of the problems people encounter, (usually self-inflicted), I have to say the upgrades I HAVE performed have been  stress free, and I have been using ubuntu since vers 6.10 - I did lose sound once from Firefox after an upgrade, which affected You Tube clips but resolved it by installing a fresh java package - I have stopped using the Flock browser, the module for blog posting was unreliable, so its back to Firefox, to which I have added "Foxtab", and I have put all the "Amateur Radio" blogs in there - and set up a cascading window (bit like Mac OS)... so you can scroll through the pages, it looks modern - works with Lin and Win.
Still have plenty of bricks to lay yet for the arbour, waiting for the sun :-) but with all the outdoor work will try my best to monitor the bands.
My next "Project", is to dig out the vertical antenna I built 21 years ago, it was an adaptation from an article appearing in Radcom back in 1989 - titled "The bean tin antenna" ( I used a Waitrose Coffee tin) - it was initially intended for 20m but I made it for 15m and remember setting it up on a 10 foot pole with 8 sloping radials and working SU on  cw  (Sadly unconfirmed),  then whilst away on one of our  Christmas hols in North Wales worked quite a few W's and two VU's so I'm guessing it did work.

Looks like the Wx is going to improve fr the weekend so its back to laying bricks -
Have Fun:

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