March 2023 Entries
Monday, 27th March, 2023
I bought the three licence manuals from RSGB. I joined as a member and then you get a good discount on them. I’m keen to progress through the licence levels, mostly because I think it’s interesting and gives a sense of accomplishment. The foundation level (the first one in the UK), is pretty generous in what you can do and I could be forever content just to stick to it.
I’m reading the intermediate manual and it’s a nice read, but I am aware I need to start making some notes if I’m going to revise and pass the test. Somethings are “obvious” once you know the gist, some are formula and maths (which are my favourite as that’s easiest for me), and some are plain old statements you need to be able to recall in some fashion. I’ve thought about using index cards or anki app or a tiddlywiki. However, I should probably just do what I did at university and write notes on A4 paper. Although I do think spaced repetition is a good process and given it might be a while before I take the test, I should do it. Just need to figure out how best to sort myself out. Maybe take my regular paper notes and then make anki things. Maybe by section or chapter of the book? Index cards would link up nicely with anki but I don’t want a huge wadge of index cards.
I want the anki method so I can use the phone app so that instead of looking at crap on reddit or the internet, I can do some testing.
I’m procrastinating on it as I “don’t have any lined paper”. So therefore can’t possible write anything down. Even though we have loads of plain paper, a blank notebook or two, amazon, stealing a pad from work, etc….
People make amazing radio things.
A while ago I applied to a job but didn’t get it. Supposedly it was very close and the feedback was consistent with my afterthoughts of “I didn’t do much research, I wondered if it showed”. Their other parting comment was “next time wear a suit and tie”! (but also clarified that wasn’t part of the selection process). I told myself I wasn’t sure if I wanted the job or not anyway. It’s like when someone takes something away because you weren’t using it. “But I might in the future!” I also realised it’s a lot easier arrange to work on things you want to in your own company than join someone else and try it. Of course what you want to do has to be somewhat related to work and adding value.
Oh I forgot the Anki mobile app is £25. Which is fine, and I’ve wasted more than that on many other things, but just not an immediate install.
Sunday, 26th March, 2023
I look a new raspberry pi related things and am tempted to buy them. Yet I have a box full of raspberry pi related things I’ve done nothing with. Although this time it’s different.
Saturday, 25th March, 2023
Feels like I’ve fallen off the wagon on pretty much everything. Haven’t taken a photo since 25th February, digital or film. Don’t think I’ve taken a film photo since New Year’s. Haven’t developed a roll of film since November. DayOne family journal entries have been few and far between and when I do it’s a sentence at best. It doesn’t really matter but it does disappoint me.
Friday, 24th March, 2023
Ugh it’s raining a lot and I didn’t bring my waterproofs for the bike ride home. Wearing jeans too 😩
I decided I really like the Elecraft KX2. Then I see it has a 16 week waiting list. Although at my pace that’ll be about the time I actually setup an antenna. All paths lead back to a Xiegu G90 as a good value, good quality and functionality HF radio. It gets good reviews, with only the downside being poor manual, but the internet can make up for that. Brand new it’s cheaper than many semi-equivalent traditional brand radios. It is only 20W but I’d have to upgrade my license to get more and if I do that then I’m likely to be more committed. I just really like the form factor of the KX2.
The parts for the G4 mac mini arrived last week and have just been sat on my desk. I should install, or figure out how to, mac os 9. and then leave it sat somewhere else for ages.
I never realised, but people who do morse (CW) often use dual paddle keyers, where they can use thumb and first finger to get a good rhythm and motion between letters. Watching a good CW’er is mesmorising.
Wednesday, 22nd March, 2023
March has nearly gone too.
I thought the world of film photography and development was full of options and choices. I feel it is dwarfed by the options and choices in amateur radio. I think they both have a similar type of magic though. Film, when you see that picture develop; radio, when you hear that voice (or morse or digital mode).
I did order some coax, cables and other bits and pieces. I’ve changed antenna design in my head about six times and still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do. Part of it is about experimenting with different designs within the limits of your garden. I think I want to start with something subtle in the garden. Maybe just a run along the wall or on the side of the house, before I start trying to string things up in the air. It’s unfortunate I don’t have a convenient tree at the bottom of the garden, as that would be the obvious choice and likely an antenna that most wouldn’t even notice. Watching videos of people doing things and it seems just about anything can work. The other tricky part is getting the coax cable into the house so that I connect it to the transceiver. Probably to start it’ll just be through a window or door, but long term it would be nice to have it piped to the office, or at least garage.
Speaking of transceiver, no idea what I’m getting there. Mostly don’t want to spend too much just yet. Every evening a friend and I have been talking about what to get and what antenna to setup and we end the evening having read a thousand websites and watched a thousand videos and feel exhausted from it. Occasionally going “maybe let’s just not bother”. The trouble is, there doesn’t seem to be much in the £300 price range. There are some older models out there but seems so hit and miss. All ebay listings are “for parts or not working” as it seems the common scam is to buy one, rip out or fiddle with the insides, and return as “broken” for ebay to side with the scammer. However, it means there’s no recourse for actual non-functioning radios. I’ve yet to find the UK forum of used gear. So then you go to a dealer but now every 80s radio is £500 minimum. Might as well buy a new one for £650 but now that’s much more than I wanted to spend…!
And so the evening cycle continues.
Monday, 20th March, 2023
AI is going to get real now with the upcoming integration into Office. The thousands of people doing every day work things should now get (assuming people know what to do and it works) much more useful work done and have AI do all the crap that comes with doing work.
People have made some amazing tools related to amateur radio. This guy, k6tu, has an incredible website that calculates your high frequency propagation range based upon solar activity, antenna design, location and generates nice pdfs of world maps every hour of the day.
Why have a blog?
Friday, 17th March, 2023
Not got round to writing much recently. Got a free trial to Diablo 4 beta. I know it’ll be the same as all the rest.
Keep looking at antennas to build but do nothing about them. I should at least buy the cable so if the mood takes me I can build it one day.
Money has a value you can attach to it. It’s impossible to quantify the value of strong relationships in your life.
GPT in the shell., together with GPT in the VS Code.
Tuesday, 14th March, 2023
I seem to be in a much better mood today, so that’s always nice. That’s even with the little one waking up at 3am wanting a cuddle, and me not getting back to sleep and reading for an hour. I’m always torn between trying to go back to sleep and risk lying there awake thinking of all sorts of things, and reading my kindle so as to not think about stuff and become sleepy but risk being awake longer as I’m gripped by the book.
I read, and I think that’s the best of the options. I’m on the second trilogy of the Realm of the Enderlings books. I can’t get into it though and keep wishing for the characters in the previous trilogy. I’m sure once I work my way into it more I’ll be okay, but it is tempting to skip to another set of books in the series about characters I know.
Chatting to my friend about amateur radio (who just got licensed like me) and we go between not knowing why things work, not knowing why various boxes are needed, to building new antenna and buying transceivers all the way back to just closing the can of worms and ignoring it altogether.
It feels like a weekend project to get started, but I never have a weekend.
Trying to organise a date with my local radio friend I just met. He’s been on the air 40 years and couldn’t meet this week as he is taking part in a 80m CW contest. CW means morse code, and 80m means a huge antenna! He’s also recommending I try morse….maybe one impossible thing at a time.
Working Copy added the ability to generate commit descriptions using AI. Wonder what it’ll say when I try it for this blog!
My mum had a session with the department for work and pensions, well a subcontractor they use, to determine if she is still eligible for the benefits she gets. She had a stroke about 9 years ago and has since not been able to work. She would love to work and misses it. Also doesn’t help she spends a lot of time alone at home. Last time she had this assessment she has to take the government to court as they refused and also blatantly lied and falsified reports. I need to call her this evening and see how it went but she was dreading it for weeks. The subcontractor gets paid by the number of people they get off benefits, and I suspect they’re not accountable to anyone, so you can see the problem. My mother is a medical professional - nurse, midwife, theatre staff - so knows what’s what in medical terms. Goodness knows how people manage who don’t know all this.
Monday, 13th March, 2023
Spent a while messing with the new (to me) G4 mac mini. Installed the RAM upgrade, taking it from 256 MB to 1 GB. Cleaned out two dead spiders and some dust and have left it open ready for when the IDE to mSATA and mSATA drive arrive.
I wasted an age trying to figure out why the internet wasn’t working on it. At first I thought it was DNS, as I could ping websites and
Particularly important if I’m going to install OS 9 on it. As I said, I wasted a lot of time on that.
I was exceptionally grumpy this morning at work. Hopefully I didn’t offend anyone. Not exactly sure why, although my radio beeping at 4am wouldn’t have helped.
Saturday, 11th March, 2023
My parents are staying and have to leave a day early. Notice how I’m not saying unfortunately.
The Mac mini arrived and worked. Looks like the guy was using it as his machine and just deleted files but left all his software. Imagine using it as your main computer still! Running Mac OS Panther. Currently gouging out the underside trying to get it open to upgrade the RAM.
Friend and I are trying to decide what HF (high frequency, 3-30 MHz) transceiver to buy. It feels like picking a camera. No single one is perfect and they all have trade offs and differing prices. I’m also aware of myself thinking “but what if I need to do xyz with it?!”. I suspect the same number of times I’ve done portrait sessions and sports photography.
The transceiver is probably the easiest part. What antenna to build is the tricker one. Although they’re much much cheaper in comparison so probably should just pick one and start with it and then try another.
Need to order a msata to IDE PATA 44 pin adapter to put a ssd in the G4 mini. I think the msata is a different size to the nvmes I have, it certainly looks smaller. The 2280 or 2820 or whatever those numbers are.
Thursday, 9th March, 2023
Found some RAM for the G4 mac mini on ebay, I’m currently the winning bidder at 99p! Two sticks of 1 GB, so I’ll have a spare. I should look into the IDE/mSATA adapater stuff too, as I suspect it’ll be an order from aliexpress and take 3 weeks from China to arrive.
Went into the office today and my hands were freezing cycling in, even with my ski gloves on. My pinky still felts a bit funny a couple of hours later.
Wednesday, 8th March, 2023
Another day working at home.
Spent ages looking at amateur radio stuff. End up with about 100 tabs open and read and watch lots of things but still feel no further forward with knowing anything.
Won a Mac mini G4 on eBay. £25. Plan to install Mac OS 9 on it for some classic mac. Maybe upgrade it or just leave as is. Seems like there are SSD options via a ATA IDE to m2 pci msata adapter in the size of a 2.5” drive. Although Mac OS 9 can only handle up to about 190 GB, so a 128 GB one will be fine and likely super cheap. Just so it’s not super slow from the ancient mechanical hard drive. It can go up to 1 GB RAM and comes with 256 but feel like I can manage without that. I’ll look at the price and if it’s really cheap then I will but if it’s some odd old size that’s £30 to upgrade then it’s not worth it.
It’ll probably turn into a once and done project but there we go. Will need to buy a CD-R as I assume I can’t boot from a USB? Have to look into that.
Tuesday, 7th March, 2023
What a lot of snow today! ☃️ That was unexpected.
I’ve found a new ham radio friend via a work colleague’s husband. He’s been doing this for over 40 years! I dropped him an email and he’s replied and offered all sorts of help and advice. I want to go to the local meetup but it’s not at a great time for me. Maybe I can sort that out soon. Otherwise he’s invited me to his house to see all his setup. I’ll try and act cool and not reveal the exorbitant number of hours I’ve read forums and watched youtube videos (yet still don’t understand anything)!
Thinking of HF (high frequency), like 10m/28 MHz, as it seems the solar winds and sunspots or whatever are such that transmission across the Earth is really good at the moment. People with small radios in the UK reaching America, Australia, Argentina, all sorts. I think that would be fun.
PCBWay emailed me, having noticed my blog 😘, offering to sponsor a PCB or 3D print for the next project, with the return of offering a review to them. Ah if only they knew how few people I reach 😅. But a free PCB is not to be sneezed at. Have to see what I want to do…wondering if I could use someone else’s PCB and upload it for another project…
Monday, 6th March, 2023
Best save up and wait for the M3 macs. Also gives me time to work out why I need it.
Spent a while thinking of building a new computer or a raspberry pi arrangement in the shell of an old mac, like a Macintosh Plus, or buying some Power mac G4 to run Mac OS 9. However, I then asked myself why and whilst it would be fun for a brief moment, I’d end up with more junk that wasn’t really that useful. Think I still have a winning bid on something but I won’t be upping it if someone else out bids me.
I do have fond memories of Mac OS 9. My family didn’t have a mac but some of my friends at school did and we played a lot of Warcraft 3 and other games together. I found the interface so amazing compared to the Windows 3.11 I’d used or the Acorn whatever we had at school. The computers were priced far out of reach for us at the time. I enjoy the memories of it, and seeing the distinct styling of mac os back then really brings those memories to the front of my mind. However, to use it today as a computer, there’s no point. It probably can’t do things I need it to, and everything is just harder. Maybe if there was some specific piece of software that I wanted to use which was no longer available then maybe…i think if I came into owning a vintage mac for free or very little cost, I’d put in some effort, but to spend >£100 on it seems dumb. Spending £1,500 on a new mac however….😅
If I want a quick nostalgia experience then there’s https://macos9.app/ and if I’m more serious and have a modern mac then there’s emulation. Or there’s a variety of themes for GNOME that I can use to replicate it.
Love this issue comment.
Saturday, 4th March, 2023
Volunteered (by my wife) for the playgroup fair today. I was on face painting duty with a granny. My! that was an intense 2½ hours! We did about 70 faces between us for kids aged 2-8. I had prepared some print offs for the kids to chose from, all of them were pretty good, except the unicorn. That was the one I spent the longest over trying to find something that was too hard, or wouldn’t look weird if I didn’t it get perfect. I settled for a small unicorn on the cheek with rainbow - it didn’t look that bad…I did three of them but they weren’t that great. However, everyone seemed to like it and we brought in a good amount of money for the charity. Another mum brought me cups of tea and I only stood up when it was over!
Friday, 3rd March, 2023
Took huge amounts of stuff to a charity store to donate today. They didn’t take books, but we only had one box of those, but got rid of so much other stuff. Bliss 🥳 I might try one of these online book buying places just to get rid of them. Don’t care if they give me 10p a book, just want rid!
Bought some stickers and notebook for my sister’s birthday next week. Have to resist the temptation to keep them for myself! They’re quite feminine so maybe I won’t but I choose them as I liked them, so never say never.
Might even write a “real” blog post today.
I want to do something different, but it’s hard breaking the habit. 🌐🕸🎮🤖💻🖱️💽🦾🖥️⌨️💾👨💻👩💻🧑💻📶📱🤳
Wow! A letter and photo every day]! I notionally said I’d do one a week and have yet to make even one.
Absolutely want to use Tinderbox. (watch it at 1.25x speed!)
I’m debating removing comments and search from this site. I don’t think they’re necessary. I’ve had one comment in the whole time and the search isn’t that great. I’ve thought about trying to fix it but never got round to it. If I want to search, I can use VS Code, where I mostly write this, but I’m also considering importing the notes into a new Tiddlywiki. I have a json file that jekyll builds which I should be able to import straight into TW. I might just try it now…
It works pretty well!
Thursday, 2nd March, 2023
I like looking at pictures of other people’s shelves.
Bought Discourses, Fragments, and Handbook by Epictetus, for some good life thinking.
Day off tomorrow. What shall I waste it on 😅
Wednesday, 1st March, 2023
Some at work who I really like and have worked for before said they’re going to have a new position in their team. I want to do it, but I’ve only just taken on other responsibilities which I don’t think people will be best pleased if I ask to move. I sure wouldn’t be if I was the boss.
March now. An observation, not a command. I’ve got lots of things I could do but not sure what to do.