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Inaugural SDFARC Net

Amateur Radio Log Entry for WA5PB

Contact:  Stephen Jones  (aka smj)  Call Sign:  W0TTY

Mode:  UHF/VFH via Echolink    Sigs:  55

Date/Time:  Dec. 29, 2009  0730 UTC

Notes:   Great first contact with Stephen!  We were working on the logistics for setting up a regular net for the SDFARC.  Both of us were using actual radio equipment at our own QTH through local Echolink enabled repeater systems.  We discussed issues with the connection, logistics, etc.

WA5PB Blog – vive la différence

While visiting many fellow websites, and while chatting with users on this system, I have come to really appreciate its international nature. To celebrate the spirit of global diversity found on SDF, I have added Google Language Translation to my MOTD blog and am working to add it on my webpages. vive la différence!

Fabrication of a triode vacuum tube

F2FO, amateur since 1959, shows the different stages of the construction of a triode lamp carried by him. This lamp has established links with other amateurs located on 4 continents.
If you want more information, visit his personal website:

K5WLF – an aid for Ham Radio projects

K5WLF highlights a very useful, free software package that aids the in the production of professional quality front panels for various Ham Radio construction projects.

from the K5WLF Blog

The Star of Bethlehem

At this time of year, the nativity of Jesus Christ and the trappings of the Christmas holiday are much on the minds of many millions of believers. Very well, such is the tradition. I certainly would not cast aspersions upon the faith and traditions of so many, and hardly so as I was raised in these traditions as well and still enjoy them with my family to this day. However, as a believer, we are encouraged by the apostle Paul to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” 1Th 5:21 This being the case, I would draw your attention to the highly unlikely nature of the date observed today to commemorate the incarnation birth of our Lord. It is known and recognised by most all that December 25 is surely not the true date but one adopted primarily from Roman culture, having previously been the date of the winter solstice Saturnalia festival and was picked as a transition from pagan Rome to Christian Rome under Constantine, and used to help establish Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire. The date stuck and is with us today! However, if this is not the real date of the birth of Jesus Christ, what is the correct date? Many say that it cannot truly be know. I disagree with this. I believe there is a preponderance of evidence that can surely give us a much better estimate of the date, if not the exact date itself. To this end, I would like to recommend a book to you that I believe to give a serious, and studied approach to the subject that takes into account what people of the era of Christ’s birth would have themselves known and understood. This approach is vitally important in any legitamate historical research as it is not our modern opinions that matter, it is what the people of the time in question knew, believed and understood. When we find clues into these things, then we find ourselves much closer to the truth. The book is The Start of Bethlehem, The Legacy of the Magi – by Michael R. Molnar. Michael Molar, astronomer and numismatist, gives an intriguing account of his chance discovery of a significant Roman coin and of his own research into the ancient astrology of the era to discern what it was that led the Magi to Bethlehem to find the new King of the Jews. What was the date they saw the Star of Bethlehem? April 17, 6 B.C. What was the “star”, why that date? Read the book. It is a very good read for those with scholarly and more casual interests alike. Here is the website:
Revealing the Star of Bethlehem

Regardless of the actual date of our Saviour’s birth, I still wish you a very Merry Christmas and hope the joy and peace of the knowledge of the birth of Jesus Christ enriches you throughout the year to come!

HOWTO – PHP simple webpage hit counter

This is a snippet of PHP code designed to give you a working hit counter for a website.

To set it up create a file called hitcounter.txt, and save it to your webspace. This will be the storage for the hit count data. It will need to have both read and write permissions.

Next, on any web page you want to hit count, add the following code: (this assumes a .php file or .html file that will be processed for PHP)

< ?php include ("counter.php"); ?>

Finally, type or copy the following to a text file and save it as counter.php to your webspace. You will want to adjust the location shown to hitcounter.txt in the code to match your own file structure. Also, you may want to change the text on the echo line, between the quotes, to suit your needs. There is no error checking on the file open or close since one would presume you will have full control over location and state of the hitcounter.txt file.

< ?php $count_my_page = ("/my_web/hitcounter.txt"); $hits = file($count_my_page); $a = $hits[0]; $b = $a + 1; $hits[0] = $b; $fp = fopen($count_my_page,"w"); fputs($fp,"$hits[0]"); fclose($fp); echo $hits[0] . " visits to this website since Dec. 21, 2009"; ?>

HOWTO – PHP page last modified code

This is a little snippet of PHP code that makes a webpage self-aware of when it was last modified and prints out an appropriately formatted message. (assumes that webpage is .php or that .htaccess is configured for .html to be processed as PHP)

// outputs e.g. This file was last modified: December 29 2002 22:16:23 UTC.

$currentFile = $_SERVER[“PHP_SELF”];
$parts = Explode(‘/’, $currentFile);

$filename = $parts[count($parts) – 1];
if (file_exists($filename)) {
echo “This file was last modified: ” . date (“F d Y H:i:s”, filemtime($filename)) . ” UTC.”;

Lieutenant Colonel Allen West

A Thousand Marbles

The following is by fellow ham, Jeff Davis – N9AVG. I have enjoyed it for years since I first read it sometime in 2000. I read it occasionally to remind me about the preciousness of the limited time we have. I hope you enjoy it too. By the way, Jeff Davis has also written a book by the same name.
1,000 Marbles book

Jeff also has an awesome blog!

A Thousand Marbles
by Jeff Davis – N9AVG (KE9V)

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the basement shack with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it.

Walking into the shack, I flipped the switch on the Astron power supply. That fired up the dual-band mobile that is usually set on the local repeater frequency and it also brought my HF rig to life. In a few seconds, I was tuned to 7.040mhz, the QRP calling frequency. Early morning on 40 meters can be interesting and like fishing, you just never know what you might snag.

I turned the gain control up until the volume was comfortable, then I leaned back and scanned the local paper. Another shooting, another bombing, some terrorist group threatening retaliation, and the government debating a tax increase. Well, at least it’s reassuring to see that the world hasn’t changed since the evening news report the night before.

In the background, I heard a station calling “CQ FISTS”. Before I have time to call him a VE3 with a booming signal calls him and so begins another QSO on 40 meters. Before long, that QSO has ended and another was underway.

After a quick coffee refill, I went back to the shack, put the headphones on, and begin tuning around. There was a strong signal on 7.035mhz calling CQ. I returned his call and made contact with a fellow in Kennebunk, Maine. We exchanged signal reports and proceeded to tell each other about our rigs, antennas, and the weather. A few minutes more and my new friend told me he must QRT because he is meeting several of the local hams for breakfast. We signed off, with “73” to each other.

Then I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles”. I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say.

“Well Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital.”

He continued, “let me tell you something Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.”

And that’s when he began to explain his theory of a “thousand marbles.”

“You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.”

“Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900 which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me Tom, I’m getting to the important part.”

By this point, I was completely hooked on this QSO. Forget the swap net, I wasn’t moving from this frequency until I heard what the old man had to say.

“It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail”, he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.”

“So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.”

“I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”

“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.”

“It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. 73 Old Man, this is K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!”

You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter.

Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.”

“What brought this on?” she asked with a smile. “Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”

Advice on surviving in the corporate IT jungle

Stuff I’ve learned at Microsoft. A very insightful article by Sriram Krishnan about how to survive in the corporate IT jungle. Lots of good advice!

Mark Levin – “Media Matters is a criminal enterprise”

A fellow blogger covers Mark Levin’s on air comments about the organisation, Media Matters, grossly violating their 501(c)(3) status.