• [FOAR] The power supply connector dance contest... (2/21)

    From FOAR via rec.radio.info Admin@21:1/5 to All on Mon Jul 18 13:48:30 2022
    [continued from previous message]

    Posted: 28 May 2022 09:00 AM PDT http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220529.foundations-of-amateur-radio.txt

    Foundations of Amateur Radio


    When you finally get to the point of pushing the talk button on your microphone, after passing the test, receiving your license, getting your
    radio, building an antenna, digesting the manual, identifying a repeater, untangling its offset, programming those frequencies and keying up, you
    might be surprised to realise that you're lost for words. Something which
    I've talked about before.


    Even if you do have something to say, finding a person to say it to will be
    the next big challenge. Truth be told, the more frequencies you have to
    choose from, the harder it seems to discover a fellow amateur and with
    Internet connected repeater networks, your choice appears infinite.


    So, how do you initiate communication on a repeater? Do you call CQ, ask
    for a signal check, or just kerplunk the repeater to prove that your signal
    is getting in?


    The very first thing to remember is that you have the exact same rights as every other amateur. No amateur is above any other, though hearing some conversations or responses might give you a different impression.


    Before you embark on a long speech, what you need to remember is that your ability to receive is not usually the same as your ability to transmit. If you're using a low-powered hand held radio that's tuned to a local
    repeater, you might be comparing your little stubby antenna, inside your
    home, held at an angle, with that of a high power repeater, with a
    high-gain antenna bolted to a tower installed on the top of a hill. In
    other words, you can hear the repeater much better than it can hear you.


    You'll quickly observe that there are amateurs about who have their radio
    on all day long and they'll often hear every single transmission that hits
    the local repeater and even random frequencies. Sometimes this means that you'll have a great friend to talk to, other times it means that you'll
    have a local troll who in their not so humble opinion determines what is permitted and what's not.


    So, to get things rolling, you should follow the KISS principle, an aim championed by the lead engineer of the Lockheed Skunk Works in 1960, Kelly Johnson, "Keep it simple stupid.".


    With keeping things simple, there is a fierce and ongoing debate around the
    use of the phonetic alphabet on a repeater. With the benefit of experience, having run a weekly radio net for over a decade I'm going to be blunt. When you're identifying yourself to the rest of the community, always use
    phonetics. Only if you've been acknowledged and you're part of the
    conversation should you even consider dropping your phonetic callsign.


    The reason is that your first transmissions will be regularly interrupted
    by others since they're having a conversation and you'll be butting in.
    Even if a net controller asks for check-ins, you should use phonetics,
    since you might not be the only one who keys up at the same time. If you
    and the controller have known each other for years and they recognise your voice, you could consider dropping the phonetics, but don't expect everyone
    to know who you are from a single letter getting through. Some people are better at this than others.


    Whatever you do, don't barge in with a whole story until you've been acknowledged and the microphone has been handed to you. After all, this is
    a public shared space.


    The next thing to consider is the audience you're talking to. If the
    repeater is just local, then the people within range are likely to expect
    your prefix and know who you are, so just your call might suffice, but if
    you connect to a network, that's not likely to be true. If you want to
    actually talk to anyone, you can call CQ, but if you just want to let
    people know you're there, you can say your callsign followed by the
    word "listening".


    If you want to speak with a specific individual on the other hand, you can
    call them using their phonetic callsign, either with or without the CQ.
    Also consider they might be on the other side of their shack working hard
    at attempts to avoid sniffing solder fumes and take a moment to get to the microphone.


    In other words, what you say on your repeater depends on what result you
    want and who else is there. Sometimes there will be a mismatch between the
    two, just saying your callsign might initiate an hour long conversation,
    and calling CQ might give you the local troll telling you to go away.


    Don't let that dissuade you. Even with years of practice, sometimes the
    results are unexpected.


    Talking on a repeater is like being invited to a party. There are going to
    be people you know, people you want to know and people you never want to
    meet again.


    So, be considerate, listen more than you talk and be deliberate in your intentions and you'll be fine.


    Thanks to Sandip EI7IJB for the question, "What are the rules for calling
    CQ on a repeater?" If you have other burning questions, get in touch and
    ask. I'll try to give you a coherent answer.


    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220529.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    ///////////////////////////////////////////
    The Thunder and Lightning that destroyed my station ...

    Posted: 21 May 2022 09:00 AM PDT http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220522.foundations-of-amateur-radio.txt

    Foundations of Amateur Radio


    The other day I was woken by the sound of a thunderclap. It was shockingly
    loud and came out of the blue. A few moments later, it happened again. I exploded out of bed, rushed to the shack, disconnected the beacon power and switched the antenna coax to "safe".


    After breathing a sigh of relief, everything went dark and with it came the distinctive sound of the sudden death of the uninterrupted power supply
    taking with it my workstation.


    With nothing else left to do, I reported the outage to the power company,
    went back to bed, pulled the covers over my head, snuggled in and
    surprisingly, slept pretty well despite the barrage of water hitting my
    QTH. The next morning the power was back on and I discovered that one of
    the residual current devices, the one that powered most, if not all, the
    wall sockets had tripped. I reset it and much to my surprise, most of my
    QTH came back to life.


    I say most, because after breakfast I had a moment to switch on my radios
    and see what, if any, damage there was. I could hear and trigger the local repeater, but HF was strangely dead. I could hear the coax switches turning
    on and off, but the SWR on the antenna was high and it didn't appear that
    the antenna coupler was doing anything. It's powered remotely using a
    device called a Bias-T. You use two of them to transport a power supply
    voltage along your antenna coax. In my case, I inject 12 Volts in my shack,
    and extract the 12 Volts at the other end near the antenna where it powers
    the antenna coupler.


    Occasionally the antenna coupler needs a reset, so I removed the power,
    waited a bit and reconnected. Still no response from the coupler, so I disconnected the power and left it for another time.


    A few days later I had a moment to investigate further, so I went outside
    to check out the antenna and coupler. Both looked fine. I removed and reinserted the power, heard a click, but wasn't sure since a car came barrelling down the road at the same time, so tried again and heard nothing.


    At this point I decided that this warranted a full investigation and
    started putting together a mental list of things I'd need. I wanted to test
    the coupler when it was isolated, I wanted to do a
    time-domain-reflectometry, or TDR test, to see if anything had changed.
    This test uses the RF reflection of a cable to determine its overall length
    and any faults like a cable break, high or low resistance and any joints.
    If you have a Nano VNA or an antenna analyser, you can do this test. It did occur to me that I didn't have a baseline to compare with, so that was disappointing, but I added it to the list.


    First thing to test was to check if the radio had been affected. I turned
    it on, did the same tests and discovered that the Bias-T was still disconnected, which could explain why I didn't hear a click when I tested a second time. Armed with a level of confidence around power, I tried again
    to trigger the antenna coupler and got nothing, dread building over the potential loss of a radio in the storm, I set about swapping my HF antenna
    to another radio.


    At this point I was reminded of an incident, 37 years ago, as a high school student during a class outing. My wonderful and inspirational physics
    teacher, Bart Vrijdaghs, took us to the local University where the head of
    the Physics Department of the University of Leiden gave us a tour of their facilities. He took us into a student lab full of oscilloscopes and tone generators and set-up a demonstration to show us how you could generate Lissajous figures. He was having some trouble making it work and with the impertinence reserved for teenagers I quoted a then popular IBM
    advertisement from 1985, "Of Je Stopt de Stekker Er In", which loosely translates to asking if he had plugged it in.


    I can tell you, if looks could kill, I wouldn't be telling this story.


    Suffice to say, it wasn't. Plugged in, that is.


    Back to my HF antenna.


    Yeah. It was already plugged into the other radio, so, unsurprisingly it
    was unable to send any RF to, or from, the first radio, much like some of
    the advanced telepathic printers I've had the pleasure of fixing during my
    help desk days a quarter of a century ago.


    After all that, I can tell you that HF seems to work as expected. The
    beacon is back online and I have some work ahead of me to create some
    baseline TDR plots and perhaps a check-in, check-out board to keep track of what's plugged in where.


    That and looking for another UPS, since keeping the computer it's connected
    to up and running, at least long enough to properly shut down, would be
    good.


    What other lessons can you take away from lightning hitting nearby?


    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220522.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    ///////////////////////////////////////////
    When should I go on air?

    Posted: 14 May 2022 09:00 AM PDT http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220515.foundations-of-amateur-radio.txt

    Foundations of Amateur Radio


    When you obtain your license there's a whole lot of learning to be had
    before you even get started with your first transmission, but when you get there you'll discover that learning has just begun and the rest of your
    life will be beset with challenges, quests, discovery and dawning understanding.


    One of the early and recurring questions is around the best time to be on
    air. Before I get into the why, the answer is, right now.


    This interminable question will continue to haunt you throughout your life,
    and the most pressing answer will be shaped around the missed opportunity. You'll discover tools that assist with predicting propagation, web-sites
    that explain what the various layers of the ionosphere do and how they
    affect your ability to use radio to make contact with other amateurs.


    There's learned discussion around testing and tracking propagation, special modes that help create your own maps for your own station and you'll
    discover an endless supply of experts who will advise you when you should
    power up your transceiver and call CQ.


    Whilst I've only been an amateur for a short time. In the decade to date
    I've learnt one thing about propagation. Despite all the tools, the
    discussion, the maps and forecasts, there is no substitute for actually
    getting on air and making noise. Over the past while I've been watching the propagation from my own shack using a 200 milliwatt beacon and I've
    discovered that running 24 hours a day, every day, well, almost every day,
    my signal gets to places far beyond my wildest dreams.


    I have also discovered trends. That is, the average distance of the signal reports is increasing over time. This isn't a linear thing, not even a recurring thing, much like the ebb and flow of the tides, varying from day
    to day, a little bit at a time, inexorably making your shoes wet when you
    least expect it.


    While to some extent we've tamed the prediction of the tides with complex
    and interrelated cycles, discovered by using Fourier transforms, we're
    no-where near achieving this level of sophistication for the ionosphere and
    its associated propagation.


    Just like predicting a specific wave is still beyond the capabilities of a
    tide table, predicting the ability of a radio wave to make it from your
    antenna to that of another amateur is beyond any tool we have today.


    Another way to look at predicting the complexity associated with the
    ionosphere is comparing it to weather forecasting. We have national
    forecasting bodies, with millions of sensors, super computing cycles that
    dwarf most other research, a global network of satellite sensors, roughly a quarter of which have some form of earth sensing capability, transmitting terrabytes of data every day and still we cannot determine where on Earth
    it's going to rain tomorrow.


    The ionosphere, whilst it's being monitored, is not nearly as well
    resourced. It's not nearly as visible to the average person as the packing
    of an umbrella and the political perception of need is nowehere near as
    urgent as getting the weather right.


    So, absent accurate forecasting, finding a better way to determine when to
    get on air is required. That said, I've discovered that regret is the
    biggest motivator to get on air. The day after a contest when a friend made
    a contact with an amazing station, or the lunch break where I didn't power
    the radio on to discover a random opening to a clamouring horde of calls looking to make contact.


    So, my best advice to you is to get on air whenever you can. You might not
    make a contact every time, but you'll discover what the bands look like
    right now and you'll have the chance of hitting the jackpot with a rare
    contact and truth be told, I think your chances of making a contact are
    higher than winning the lottery.


    When you do take that step, you'll start discovering the ebb and flow of
    the bands, discover the characteristic sound that each band makes and what
    a band sounds like when it's open and when it's not. You'll hear stations
    far and wide, discover that while there are trends in propagation, there
    are no rules. From one moment to the next, you'll discover the thrill of hearing something unexpected.


    One thing to consider, if you get on air for the sole purpose to make
    contacts, you're likely going to be disappointed. It's like fishing. Most people don't get up at some crazy hour, sit on a damp jetty, freezing parts
    of their anatomy off for the sole purpose of catching fish.


    So, get on air and make some noise, today.


    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220515.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    ///////////////////////////////////////////
    Augustin-Jean Fresnel, Zeppelins and a picket fence ...

    Posted: 07 May 2022 09:00 AM PDT http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220508.foundations-of-amateur-radio.txt

    Foundations of Amateur Radio


    In our hobby we regularly invoke line of sight when we discuss the VHF and higher bands. It's a simple concept to help describe when two transceivers
    can hear each other. The process evokes an image of a beam of light
    travelling unobstructed between the antennas at either end. Some might
    picture a laser, others a flashlight, both are useful to become familiar
    with some of the concepts.


    If there's a pole between the two, a laser beam, unless it's particularly powerful, won't go through to the other side. A flashlight beam on the
    other hand might fit around the pole and still be visible at the
    destination. That illustrates that objects can get in the way of a signal, reducing strength and sometimes blocking it entirely, but it's not the only effect at play.


    Imagine a building with a mirror glued to its side. If you shine a laser at
    an angle at the mirror, you can reflect the light off the mirror and essentially still land on target. This is useful if you want to avoid an obstacle directly between you and your destination.


    The reflected light travels a different and slightly longer distance than direct light would, but if there's no obstacles, both will arrive at the destination.


    This is an example of a multipath, where the same signal arrives at its destination using multiple different paths.


    If you've ever used HF radio, making a contact on the other side of the
    planet, it should come as no surprise that radio waves travel in more than
    just straight lines. Depending on frequency, radio waves can be affected by phenomena like ionospheric reflection and refraction, atmospheric ducting
    and even bounce off water, the ground, mountains, hills and objects like buildings, aircraft and even water droplets, along their path.


    Each of these cause a radio signal to take multiple paths to arrive at the destination.


    It gets better.


    A radio signal that travels along a different path takes a measurable difference in time to get to its destination when compared with another
    path for the same signal. From a radio signal perspective, this difference
    in time is also known as a phase shift.


    Now consider a single radio signal that travels along two paths, just like
    our laser beam and mirror. If you imagine a radio signal as a sine wave,
    you can draw the two signals on the same chart. They will be in lock-step
    with each other, since they're the same radio signal, but they won't be on
    the same place on the chart. In relation to each other they'll be shifted
    along the time axis, since one took longer than the other to get to the destination.


    At the destination, the receiver hears a combination of both those signals. They're added together. That means that what's sent and what's received are
    not the same thing and why it's a great idea to use phonetics in radio communications. In some cases the two signals help and strengthen each
    other, they're said to interfere constructively, and sometimes the signals hinder and cancel each other out, or interfere destructively.


    Said in another way, a radio signal can arrive at a receiver along multiple paths at the same time. What's heard at the receiver is essentially a cacophony, caused by each slightly different path. Since the signals are essentially all the same, some of these signals reinforce each other, where some cancel each other out.


    This effect isn't absolute, since the different path lengths aren't all
    exact multiples of the wavelength of the signal, they're all over the
    place, but there will be groups of paths that help and groups that hinder.
    This phenomenon was first described by Augustin-Jean Fresnel on the 14th of July, 1816 in relation to light and we now call these groups, Fresnel zones.


    Fresnel zones are numbered, one, two, three and up. The first or primary Fresnel zone is the first group of radio signals that helps strengthen the signal, the second zone is the first group of signals that hinders. The
    third zone is the second group of radio signals that helps and so-on. Odd helps, even hinders.


    I should point out that a Fresnel zone is three dimensional. The primary Fresnel zone essentially has the shape of a Zeppelin stretched between the source and the target. The secondary zone is wrapped around the outside of
    the primary zone like a second skin, but it's thicker in the middle.


    In practical terms, what this means in point-to-point radio communications
    is that your antenna needs to be located in a place where most of the
    signal arrives. The rule of thumb is that the primary Fresnel zone needs to
    be at least 60% clear, but ideally 80%.


    If you're in a situation where a receiver is moving, say in a car, you can imagine that your antenna is moving in and out of direct line of sight to a transmitter, but it's also moving between the various Fresnel zones. If you were to move your antenna from the first Fresnel zone to the second and
    then the third, the signal would be strong, then weak, then strong again.


    If your receiver is an FM receiver and it's moving from the first zone to
    the second, it could fall below a threshold and the signal would
    effectively vanish. Continue to move from the second into the third zone
    and the signal would sound like it suddenly reappeared as it climbed above
    the threshold. Do it fast enough and the signal sounds like it's stuttering.


    That stuttering has a name. In amateur radio we call it picket fencing or flutter and it's commonly heard in mobile situations on FM transmissions on
    the VHF and higher bands, but it can be caused by other changes in
    propagation distance, for example an antenna moving in the wind. The higher
    the frequency, the less movement is needed to experience this.


    To add to the fun of radio, the same threshold effects, actually called the
    FM capture effect, can be caused by other phenomena, like two stations of similar strength on the same frequency, or interference from the
    electronics in your vehicle.


    And finally, I should point out that the higher the frequency, the smaller
    the Fresnel zones, and the more susceptible to an object in the path a
    signal is, but you already knew that, a pole will block a laser beam, but
    not a 2m conversation on the local repeater.


    So, line-of-sight isn't just a straight line, it's a whole lot more fun.


    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220508.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    ///////////////////////////////////////////
    The Science of Amateur Radio

    Posted: 30 Apr 2022 09:00 AM PDT http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220501.foundations-of-amateur-radio.txt

    Foundations of Amateur Radio


    The amateur radio community is as varied as humanity across the globe. It represents an endless supply of ideas and experiments that continue to
    attract people looking for something new and exiting.


    On the face of it, our hobby is about radio and electronics, about
    propagation and antennas, about modes and contacts, but if you limit your outlook to those topics you'll miss out on a vast expanse of opportunity
    that is only just beginning to emerge.


    Until quite recently, computing in amateur radio was essentially limited to logging and contest scoring. It has evolved to include digital modes like
    PSK31 and the advent of smaller, faster and cheaper computers in the home
    has brought the possibility of processing unimaginable amounts of data
    leading to modes like WSPR and FT8.


    In the past I've spoken about how amateur radio means different things to different people. Making contact using a digital internet enabled repeater
    is sacrileges to one and manna from heaven to another. Between those two extremes there is room to move and explore. Similarly where one uses
    valves, another expects an integrated circuit. One wants low power, the
    other wants every Watt they can lay their hands on. Contesting versus rag chewing, nets vs contacts, SSB vs. CW, FT8 vs. RTTY. Each of these attracts
    a different part of the community with different outcomes and expectations.
    For some it's about antenna building, others going portable, climbing a mountain, or setting up in a park.


    Those are all traditional amateur activities, but the choice and
    opportunity don't end there.


    The longer I play with computers the more I see a convergence in the world,
    a coming together of technologies and techniques. I've talked about some of this before when in 1994 I produced a competition broadcast promotion for
    the radio station I was working at, using just a computer in the era of reel-to-reel tape and razor blades. My station manager couldn't quite put
    his finger on what was different, but with hindsight it represented a
    landslide change in how radio stations have operated since. Mind you, I'm
    not saying that I was the first, just the first in that particular radio station.


    In many ways computing is an abstract effort. When asked, I like to express
    it as designing something intangible in an imaginary world using an made up language and getting paid real money to make it happen, well, numbers in my bank account at least.


    Within that context, amateur radio is slowly beginning to reap the rewards
    that come from the exponential growth in home computing power. While the majority of humanity might use the vast amount of CPU cycles to scroll
    through cat videos online, that access to processing power allows us to do other things as well.


    For example, right now I'm playing with the dataset that represents all the WSPR spots since March of 2008. As of now there are around four billion
    rows of contacts, containing data points like a time-stamp, the
    transmitter, the receiver, the signal strength, location, direction, and
    more.


    As part of that investigation I went looking for documents containing the
    words "RStudio" and "maidenhead", so I could consider creating a map in my statistical tool that allowed me to represent my dataset. In making that
    search I discovered a thesis by a mathematician who was using the reverse beacon network in an attempt to predict which station could hear which transmitter at what time.


    In reading the thesis, which I opened because I was looking for an example
    on how to convert a maidenhead locator into geo-spacial data types in R, a popular statistics platform, I discovered that the author didn't appear to
    have much, if any, amateur knowledge or experience, but they approached
    their task, attempting to predict as a mathematician what we in our
    community call propagation, based on a public dataset, downloaded straight
    from the reverse beacon network, created by amateurs like you and I.


    This interaction between science and the amateur community isn't new.
    Sometimes it's driven by science, other times it's driven by amateur radio. There's a team exploring the ionospheric prediction models that we've used
    for decades, popularly referred to as VOACAP or Voice of America Coverage Analysis Program, based on multiple evolutions of empirical models of the ionosphere that were first developed in the 1960's, headed by both a
    scientist and an amateur, Chris KL3WX.


    With the advent of WSPR and the associated data collection some experiments have started to compare the reality of propagation as logged by WSPR to the predicted propagation as modelled by VOACAP. One such experiment happened
    in 2018 where Chris and his team at HAARP, the High-Frequency Active
    Auroral Research Program, set out to make transmissions at specific times
    and frequencies, using the amateur community logging of WSPR spots to
    compare their transmissions to the predictions.


    Interestingly they did not match. Just think about that for a moment. The
    tool we love and use all across our community, VOACAP, doesn't match the reality of propagation.


    My own playing with WSPR data is driven by the very same thing that I use
    to be a better contester, a burning curiosity in all things. My VOACAP prediction experience has been poor to date. Setting up my own WSPR beacon
    is the first step in attempting to discover what my actual propagation
    looks like, but in doing so, it's also a possible contribution to the wider challenges of predicting propagation based on a dataset with four billion spots. One such approach might be to create an ionospheric prediction map
    based on actual data and compare that to the models as well as the
    published space weather maps and combining these efforts into a machine learning project which might give us the next generation of ionospheric prediction tools, but only time will tell.


    No doubt I will have to learn more about statistics and machine learning
    than I expect, but then, that's half the fun.


    So, next time you think of amateur radio as being limited to valves, transistors, soldering, antennas and rag chewing on HF, consider that there might be other aspects to this hobby that you have not yet considered.


    What other research are you aware of that relates to amateur radio?


    I'm Onno VK6FLAB
    This posting includes a media file: http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220501.foundations-of-amateur-radio.mp3

    ///////////////////////////////////////////
    The art of troubleshooting the digital world.

    Posted: 23 Apr 2022 09:00 AM PDT http://podcasts.itmaze.com.au/foundations/20220424.foundations-of-amateur-radio.txt

    Foundations of Amateur Radio


    The lure of digital modes and the opportunities they bring are enough to
    tempt some amateurs to begin a journey into integrating their radio and computer to make a new world come to life. This isn't without pain or challenge, but the outcomes are so enticing that many embark on this
    adventure every day.


    As a person who has made this trip it's heart warming to see the joy writ
    large on the face of an amateur who makes their first FT8 contact on a home brew wire dipole rigged together on a Sunday afternoon to take advantage of
    the latest opening on the 10m band.


    On the flip side, it's heart breaking to see an amateur falter at the first hurdle, attempting to make their computer talk to their radio and giving up because it just won't work. At first this attitude bewildered me in a
    community of experimenters, but over time I've come to understand that sometimes an analogue approach isn't suited to the digital world. There
    isn't really a place where you can attach your multimeter and see why the serial connection isn't working, nor is there any universal document that
    can walk you through how to set things up.


    So, for you, if you're in a place where you've all but given up, let me see
    if I can find words to encourage you to keep trying. I'll skip the
    propaganda about going digital and move straight to making it work.


    This might come as a surprise, but in the digital world, things are built
    in complex layers of interdependence. Said in another way, using an
    analogy, to turn on a light you need flick a switch, which depends on power
    to the switch, which depends on power from the fuse box, which depends on
    power from the street, which depends on power from the substation and so-on.


    If you flick the switch and the light stays off, you need to figure out
    which part of the chain failed. Did it fail at the bulb or at the
    substation? If the street is dark, do you need to check the fuse box or the bulb? That's not to say that either, or even both, can also be faulty, but there's no point in checking until the street has power.


    From a fault finding perspective, the number of variables that you have control over, in the case of a light bulb not switching on, is strictly limited. You can control the bulb and the fuse and in most cases that's
    about it, the rest of the chain is outside your direct control.


    In attempting to make a computer talk to a radio you can be forgiven in thinking that the level of complexity associated with such a trivial task
    is just as direct and straightforward. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. It's
    not your fault. A popular slogan "Plug and Play" made people think that computers were easy to use and control.


    The truth is a far darker reality. One of the hidden sources of frustration
    in the digital world is the extreme level of complexity. In our quest to standardise and simplify we have built a fragile Jenga tower of software
    that can collapse at any point. Most of the time this is completely
    invisible but that doesn't cause it to be any less real. Computers are
    simple, but only if you control the environment. And when I say control, I
    mean take ownership of each change.


    Updating the operating system? Installing a new application? Adding a new peripheral? Changing location? All these things, innocuous as they might
    seem, can fundamentally alter the behaviour of your environment.



    [continued in next message]

    --- SoupGate-Win32 v1.05
    * Origin: fsxNet Usenet Gateway (21:1/5)