Archive for the 'technobabble' Category

Animated Color Satellite Images from GOES East

goes-s-rockies.gif

When monsoon season is upon us here in the desert, it’s a good idea (and is our practice) to keep an eye on the weather. From the internet, we use both radar and satellite imagery to assess the probability and intensity of thunderstorms in our area.

We recently made the discovery that the GOES East weather satellite imagery is available in animated sequences of several regions at the GOES East Imagery website. We downloaded the image above from the Southern Rockies region in color.The GIF animation above was captured early this afternoon and shows two hours of imagery taken at five minute intervals.

As you can see, at the time, Arizona is mostly under cloud cover. You can watch as cumulus clouds form over the Rockies and other mountains. You can also see the general circulation of air masses during the sampling period.

All the information we glean from the several weather sites on-line help us to adjust the timing of our routine activities (shopping, dog-walking, etc.).

Dumping Norton Antivirus

norton.pngOur subscription for Norton (Symantec) Antivirus Protection will expire in 30 days or so. Today, I saw a charge on our credit card initiated by Norton for automatic renewal of our antivirus protection package.

We have been Norton customers forever, but due to their recent rejection of the NRA, we previously decided to seek internet cyber-protection elsewhere. Besides, the renewal rate was twice what we paid for it the last time we renewed.

I got on their website with my sign-in credentials and requested a refund of the credit card charge. Of course, it wasn’t going to be that simple. They required me to engage in a “chat” with one of their operatives to process the request.

Follows an excerpt of the chat:

Rahul: May I ask why you would like a refund of your Norton product?
Minstrel: I no longer wish to do business with Norton.
Rahul: Could you please tell me the issue. So that I can solve that. We do not want to lose customers like you.
Minstrel: Norton cut its ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA) of which I am a member. I will not do business with anyone who is against my right to self defense.
Rahul: I am sorry for the hassle caused to you. We are still in discussion with NRA team, so if you want to continue, you can still continue with Norton. I can definitely refund your order; however, if you like I can also offer you a 50% refund of the automatic renewal price, and you can continue to use your Norton Product for the next year. Is this something you might be interested in?
Minstrel: No I want to immediately discontinue my subscription.

The bottom line is that they will still charge my credit card for the automatic renewal but will issue a refund for the charge in 7-10 days. Good riddance to bad garbage.

We still have some other issues to resolve with companies that have shown their anti-2A bias. Again, I won’t hesitate to let them know why they are losing our business. I hope y’all are doing the same.

Who, other than Norton, provides good internet security for our Windows 7 and 10 machines? Any suggestions will be helpful.

Vanity Quest Progress

dismissed.jpgSince January of this year, I have been actively applying for a new Ham Radio callsign. I explained in a previous post that I wanted to change my callsign (1) to reflect my actual geographic location, and (2) to get an old-timer 1×2 callsign since I am now officially an old-timer myself. When I was a kid, the old timers had the classic 1×2 callsigns like W6AM, Don Wallace (SK) who was a celebrity among hams. I would like to have a nice W7 callsign like that.

The table at the right is an excerpt from a larger table that shows my applications and the results thereof. This is from the on-line AE7Q amateur Radio Database which links to the FCC’s Universal Licensing System.

As you can see, I actually applied for other than W7 prefixes, mainly because I liked the combination of letters in some of them. The most recent application is at the top of the table. Applications were made and all have been dismissed without prejudice in accordance with the FCC practice of randomly drawing an application for a particular available callsign.

I have a complete list of all the 1×2 7th area callsigns available for the rest of 2018 and will keep trying to win the lottery for one of them. Since the FCC in cahoots with the ARRL have watered down the Amateur Extra license exams and eliminated the 20 words per minute Morse code requirement, the competition is fierce for these very desirable callsigns. Regardless, I may get lucky yet as we go down the list of callsigns.

Trying for a New Amateur Radio Callsign

500px-fcc_new_logosvg.pngI have been considering becoming more active as an amateur radio (HAM) operator. I have had my ham ticket since high school and there is always an underlying interest for me in the radio hobby, no matter how inactive I may be. I am a life member of the American Radio Relay League and still get my copy of their magazine on-line. I read QST every month and get the weekly ARRL email.

The truth is, that I have had a hand-held VHF/UHF radio for almost five years and only use it once in a while. The radio goes with us in the RV when we travel and is available for emergencies or just for “rag chewing” with other hams.

That brings us to the reason for this post. I have had my current callsign since 1979 or so, and it is a special one that identifies me as a top-of-the-pack Amateur Extra Class licensee. It also, unfortunately, identifies me as being from California by virtue of the numeral “6″ embedded therein. I currently reside in, and am proud to be a citizen of Arizona for which the identifying numeral should be a “7.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a program which allows amateur radio operators to apply for a “Vanity” callsign. I have submitted several applications for desired callsigns but the competition is so great that I have had my applications dismissed thus far. The FCC uses a raffle system to randomly pick a winner for a given callsign and I have competed with twenty to fifty other applicants. I intend to keep trying, however, as the callsigns become available.

One of the applications I made was deeply disappointing. I went to the trouble of finding a “silent key” which is a term used for a ham that has passed on. I found one such ham here in Arizona and submitted some paperwork to the FCC which included his obituary. The FCC cancelled the callsign and it became available. I wanted this callsign since the prefix was a classic W7 and the suffix was my first and last initial. Even more disappointing since the eventual recipient was in the “9″ call area. I am old school and believe in having the regionally appropriate numeral.

As I said above, I am still trying. I have my hat in the ring for three different callsigns at this time.

Monthly Generator Run

Generator Run Day

It has actually been a little over a month since we fired up the little 3KW Honda Generator. We ran it for a while today in the truck bed parked by the “orchard” next to the RV Driveway.

We took advantage of the electricity generated during the run and trimmed up some of the stubble from the lemon tree where the mule deer had eaten the outermost leaves. They did that last year too, but the tree came back with a lot of growth to compensate. The lemon tree, on the left in the clickable image above, looks a lot better than it did before using the hedge trimmer on it. I didn’t take a before picture.

I was going to change the generator oil after this run, but decided to do that next month and help The Better Half who was working on her Xeriscape Garden in front of the garage.

Today was ‘Run the Generator Day’

Clickable ImageWe try and maintain a schedule to run the little Honda EU3000is generator from time to time in order to keep it ready for use. However, due to a couple of extended excursions in the big RV, we let the regularity lapse a bit. It was long overdue, but today, we got it running again. It was a bit hard to start, but the generator finally started after several tries.

We originally bought this generator to power up our travel trailer. Now, however, we have the Class A diesel pusher which features an integral Cummins Onan 6KW diesel generator.

These days, the Honda only gets used for several things as needed, including running garden tools in areas where there is no commercial electricity. This includes the west rock and cactus garden for bush whacking and cactus clean up and once in a while down the road when native vegetation grows into the roadway.

It ran for thirty or forty minutes today using one of the big RV’s A/C units as a load. Next time we run it, an oil change will be due for the Honda.

LED There Be Light

LED Fixture Installed

Over six years ago, we bought a couple of fluorescent light fixtures for the garage as the house was being built. Each fixture had two four foot tubes and the ballast, starter, etc. As we look back at getting these lights, we recall settling for a cheap house brand from one of the big home improvement stores in Surprise, AZ.

Last week, one of the tubes in one of the fixtures crapped out. We were going to get a replacement tube, but when trying to remove the diffuser, it broke. At that time we also noticed that one of the plastic parts containing the electrodes on the end of the tube was broken away from the housing. We made the decision to upgrade the fixtures to a more modern solution.

We opted for a couple of LED fixtures available from Amazon.

  • 4-Foot LED linear flush mount features an impact-resistant polycarbonate diffuser with brushed nickel cast aluminum decorative end caps
  • Integrated LED provides 3,460 lumens and 4000K cool white color temperature
  • Energy star-certified and listed for damp locations
  • UL-listed to US and Canadian safety standards
  • Delivers general ambient lighting for surface-mount ceiling applications

Installation was pretty simple, really, with toggle bolts holding the frame to the ceiling and wire nuts making the electrical connections. The fixtures are better looking than the ones they replaced and put out as much or more light with a similar color temperature.

The Better Half helped with the installation and took the (clickable) image above and the inset while I was preparing the house wiring to receive the new connections.

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