Archive for the ‘news’ Category

…been awhile…

So, its been a while since I posted…

It’s also been a while since I’ve done anything with ham radio. But, that’s changing soon.

I now live in Central Minnesota, in a little town called Big Lake. I miss Hawaii, I miss the EARC group, and I miss the Navy. But, I’m settling in here and finally got my FT7800 out and on the air last week. Turns out, the Sherburne County ARES does a Monday night net on the nearby Elk River repeater. I checked in as a guest the other night and was warmly welcomed.

After a little poking around on their website, www.shercoares.org I have decided to join the group. So, we’ll see where that takes me. At least its good to be using the radio again!

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…busy times and changes…

Well, things have been busy for me. Lots of changes lately. Not a lot of time for computers or ham radio. I am retiring from the Navy. I’ve served 20 years, and am ready to move on.

I took a position as an Operations Training Instructor at a Nuclear Power Plant in Monticello, MN. This is exactly the type of job I think I’ll be good at. It’ll also give me more free time for my many hobbies since it will be Mon-Fri, for the most part.

Even though I am excited to move back to the mainland and start my new life, I am extremely sad about leaving Hawaii and the many friends I made with the Emergency Amateur Radio Club.

Working with them and learning from them has been a memorable experience. If I find another club that is even half as friendly and encouraging and motivating… well, its not likely. They have been great and I hope to stay in touch with them over the years.

Once I get to Minnesota and get a house (with a garage), I’ll get my workshop set up and get a real station built. I’m looking for a rural place with a little acreage, so I can do some cool things with it. Maybe a small tower, a battery station that recharges with wind power, and lots of workspace for projects and experiments.

Anyway, it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, and there will be another couple months until I get all settled in and make some updates. But for now, that’s what has been going on.

See you on the air! 73’s.

…new computer upgrade…

Yes, I was already unhappy with one aspect of my new system as soon as I was done building it. The video card. I originally bought two 3850’s to run a crossfire setup, but ran into problems due to the motherboard I selected.

Anywhoo, the single 3850 was working out great (as you can see from the pics in my previous post), but it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. So, I upgraded.

I have now installed a Radeon HD 3870×2! That’s a dual GPU card with 1GB of RAM. Upgrading to this card has more than tripled my 3DMarkVantage score from the low 2100’s to over 7400.

I’m also running dual monitors now. This single video card can support up to four monitors! For now, I’m getting used to two.

Here’s some pics so you can see how huge this thing is:

3870x2

These are the 3870×2 and 3850 cards side by side.

3870x2

Here you can see the four ports for the monitors.

I had to move some things around in the case (like move my hard drive cage up higher) to make room for this monster.

Oh, and here’s my new Call of Duty 4 Game-O-Meter score:

…world record…

Want to be part of a world record? Download the FireFox3 update on Tuesday, June 17th.

http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/blogs/mcallister_on_software/147039/firefox_3_to_launch_with_a_bang.html

Me? I’m a FireFox user. I was converted about two years ago when I started getting back into hand coding websites with xhtml/css. I was learning quite a bit about browser rendering and standards and compatibility. Up until then, I had thought that the differences between IE and the “other” browsers had to do with the other browsers not being as up to date or as good. Little did I understand at the time that the difference was really that IE was too good to follow the standards put out to make the internet truly multiple platform compatible and render-able(sp?) on multiple types of devices.

Basically, building websites would be easy if everyone followed the same format for rendering the data. Unfortunately, we often have to “work-around” the code to get things to look the same in all browsers. This issue has become more obsolete in recent versions of all browsers, but IE is still the one standing on the corner across the street, waiting for the light to change because they think their light will change first.

But, that’s just my opinion. Are you an IE or FireFox user?

…new computer…

Well, I finally built a new computer. The old one is still hanging on, but it is time to go big. I bought the old one slightly used for $300, over 5 years ago and have only had to upgrade it’s RAM and video card. But, it’s days are numbered. Rather than wait, I got the pieces and parts and put together a decent system for not too much money.

Here’s the system (all parts purchased from zipzoomfly.com):

Case: old Antec full tower (like 8 or 9 years old)

Processor: Intel E8400 3.0GHz Core 2 Duo

Motherboard: Asus P35 chipset P5K-E

RAM: 4GB OCZ DDR2 1066

Video Card: Asus 512MB DDR3 HD3850 PCIe x16

Power Supply: CoolMax CUG-600B Green Power 600W

Hard Drives: (3) Hitachi Deskstar T7K500 500GB 7200RPM Serial ATA II w/16MB Buffer (I’m running the 3 drives in a RAID 5, so they are fast – but I also have drive failure protection. Basically, if any one of the 3 drives fail, I can change it out with a new blank drive and the information will be rebuilt from the other two drives. Pretty slick, huh.)

And, I believe, that’s the main stuff. After the combo drive, case fans, processor fan, LCD fan controller and card reader, etc. (oh, and shipping)… I spent about $1200. The computer benchmarks pretty high.

However, I’ve already learned a couple lessons, and if I could go back and do it again already – I’d get a different motherboard. I had originally purchased 2 of the Asus 512MB video cards, planning to do a dual CrossFire system. However, the P5K-E, though it advertises that it supports CrossFire and has two PCIe x16 slots, doesn’t support two cards at x16. Confusing, huh. Apparently the fine print states that the second PCIe x16 slot only runs at x4. So, what a waste. I sold the second video card and am only using one.

Here’s where my system benchmarks for a popular game, Call of Duty 4 (which I don’t play – but was told to check my system against it):

Call of Duty 4 benchmark

And here’s a couple of screenshots from Flight Simulator X. I can’t believe how much better this runs. It is truly amazing!

So, that’s it! What do you think? I’m pretty happy with it…

…finally done…(mostly)

Well, I’ve finally (mostly) finished the EARC website remake. I started with a rough idea of modifying an Andreas Viklund template. I think I have served his ideas well.

Of course, there is more to do… more to update… more to tweak… but the main site is up, and I think it looks great.

So, if you are interested in the Honolulu, Hawaii Emergency Amateur Radio Club, visit www.earchi.org.

…do this one thing today…

Go to this InfoWorld site, and sign the petition to “Save Windows XP”.

http://weblog.infoworld.com/save-xp/archives/2008/04/save_windows_xp.html

…busy days…

Well, I’ve been busy. I’ve passed IS-700, qualified as a Net Control Supervisor for my club, and have taken on every other Wednesday (starting tonight) as the NCS for our nightly net. That’s 3 FEMA courses done. I have at least 4 more that I want to do.

Our last club meeting was at the Hawaii State Red Cross building over by DiamondHead. Wow. Great meeting. Depending on the progress of my various projects, I may volunteer as an amateur radio operator for the Red Cross. We’ll see.

Speaking of projects, one of them is that I’m rebuilding the club website. The current one needs a facelift. I should have it ready to upload in a week or so.

…passed IS-3…

Ok, I took another course today… IS-3, Radiological Emergency Management. This one was EXTREMELY easy due to my Navy job. The course description says it is a 10 hour course, but I finished the course material and the test in less than 2.5 hours.

That’s it for today, but I am looking through the list to see which one I’m going to knock out next.

Any recommendations?

…passed IS-100…

So, I’ve read about other hams completing courses and getting certifications dealing with emergency preparedness and disaster management. I got curious enough this morning to google the most common one I see, IS-100, Introduction to Incident Command System. I sat down at the computer for a little over two hours, went through the presentations, took the exam, and passed.

Now, I’m interested in getting more of these courses knocked out.

https://training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.asp

I strongly recommend these as a way to gain familiarity with the procedures and structures that are used in incident management. Quite interesting, and it may help you see an area that you are qualified for in the event you are involved assisting with an incident.