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Koos van den Hout

Welcome. This is my homepage where I write about my opinion, projects, things I note, things I try and other random stuff. Newsitems have tags for a bit of structure.

Latest news/thoughts/geeking/rants/notablog

2016-10-20 Being way behind in webdesign... 1 day ago
I recently started pondering making the text font on my homepage slightly less black because I saw a lot of pages with different shades of grey looking (to me!) easier on the eyes and more 'modern'. So I finally updated the stylesheet of my homepage (still HTML4, so already outdated) to use a not completely black (#000000) color for all text but something slightly lighter. I changed it to #202020.

And one of the first things I saw right after testing and implementing that change (of course the css file of my homepage is under version control to move it from the development version to the production version) was... How the Web Became Unreadable - Kevin Marks.

I guess I missed the cycle completely. I'll stick with the current colour for a while. I'm not a graphic designer, I am just lagging in sometimes updating design things.

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2016-10-17 (Ofcom monitoring station being sold. Maybe there will be a bargain for an amateur or club in there. ...) 4 days ago
Google+Koos van den Hout : Ofcom monitoring station being sold.
Maybe there will be a bargain for an amateur or club in there.
And what will this do for RF spectrum enforcement by Ofcom...
2016-10-17 Jamboree On The Air 2016 (JOTA) 5 days ago
Afgelopen weekend was Jamboree On The Air 2016, dit is een evenement waarbij scouts uit de hele wereld via amateur radio contact maken. Dit evenement is gecombineerd met Jamboree On The Internet (JOTI) waarbij de chat mogelijkheden via Internet gebruikt worden om de scouts met elkaar in contact te brengen.

Sinds de Veron afdeling Centrum een nieuwe locatie heeft bij scouting groep Peka 18 in Utrecht ben ik ook wat meer aan het volgen wat er met de JOTA gebeurt.

Omdat Wijnand PD5WL een kabel zocht die ik had voor zijn JOTA 2016 ATV experimenten kreeg ik ook gelijk de uitnodiging om even te komen kijken op die locatie. Ik ben zaterdagmiddag gaan kijken en het zag er leuk uit, en ik heb met diverse zendamateurs gesproken daar. En er waren zeker enthousiaste scouts bezig met radio!

Zaterdagavond heb ik ook wat PSK verbindingen gemaakt op de 20 meter band waarvan een met een scouting station van de Rover Crofts groep in Bilthoven met callsign PA6RCG/J.

Ook zijn er leden van Veron Centrum actief geweest: Special Event PE18KA/j bij ons clubhuis tijdens JOTA waar vermoedelijk ook nog meer beelden en verslag van komen.

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2016-10-13 A few pictures added to The Transmission Gallery 1 week ago
I am a fan and regular visitor of The Transmission Gallery and a photographer. But it is not very often I can submit pictures for The Transmission Gallery as it is aimed at transmitters in the United Kingdom.

But on our recent holiday in the UK lake district I noticed on one campsite I had a direct view of a TV transmitter tower. And good, fast mobile data from the same tower. So I took a walk to photograph the transmitter so I could add something to The Transmission Gallery.

So, now available to the general public: Keswick - Pictures taken August 2016 - The Transmission Gallery.

My previous addition to the gallery was in 2010: Wooler - The Transmission Gallery. We have visited the United Kingdom a few times in between but never got close to a transmitter site or the weather hid the site completely in clouds or fog.

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2016-10-12 New for me amateur radio band activated: 15 meters (21 MHz) 1 week ago
LW-10 HF antenna with earth wire
LW-10 HF antenna with earth wire
My full radio amateur privileges let me play on quite a number of radio bands and I haven't activated most of them. Partly due to missing equipment, but partly just not getting around to it.

A fellow amateur pointed out to me that the 15 meter band can be quite interesting for making contacts with some new stations. The 15 meter band is from 21.00 MHz to 21.45 MHz. I sort of do have the equipment for working on that band: the LW-10 longwire antenna for 6 to 40 meters which needs an antenna tuner. In earlier experiments in using the antenna tuner the tuner failed on the 15 meter band.

Today I made sure the balun of the LW-10 antenna was grounded with an earth wire to the nearest heating radiator. Not an ideal RF ground but better than nothing. On the second try the antenna tuner did its magic and the radio was happy with the result. And there were no crashing USB devices! There was one thing: I hear a ticking noise when transmitting trough the tuner. That is an indication of stray RF problems in the tuner itself so I added a ferrite core to the power cable of the tuner which did not fix this problem completely.

One thing I really have to do is try to tune above the frequency I want to use.

So the antenna did want to tune and work and I tried some PSK contacts on that band. And success: I made several contacts, including one with PB0ACU. I had a contact before with PB0ACU when I still had my previous callsign so this was a nice return contact. It was clearly not DX, but other contacts were further away. I already received eQSL confirmations for this and a few other 15 meter PSK contacts so this band is now truly activated for me.

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2016-10-10 How to recognize a job advertisment for money mules 1 week ago
Don't fall for it..

I received spam which translates (to me) very clearly to 'be a money mule':
[..] is looking for a qualified representative, reliable, efficient and dedicated to help facilitate their business transactions in Australia. The work is based on administrative / customer service support improving productivity and above all performing basic banking transactions.

We are located in the London If you are satisfied with all the conditions and wish to register, please contact our Human Resources department at [.. generic webmail account ..]
Alerting items:
  • Unsollicited e-mail (spam) sent to a random address
  • Lots of buzzwords but the work seems to be "basic banking transactions"
  • Doing transactions in Australia but located in London
  • Using a generic webmail account

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2016-10-05 A blast from the past! 2 weeks ago
I just saw:
220 pi FTP server (Version wu-2.6.2(1) Mon Apr 30 20:10:54 UTC 2012) ready.

230-This is an experimental FTP server.  If have any unusual problems,
230-please report them via e-mail to .
230-If you do have problems, please try using a dash (-) as the first
230-character of your password -- this will turn off the continuation
230-messages that may be confusing your FTP client.
That's a long time ago, the default welcome file of wu-ftpd version wu-2.6.2(1).

Oh and the current default passive mode of ftp wasn't working, I had to dig up an old client to use the default active mode.

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2016-10-03 Discovering new archiving methods... via malware 2 weeks ago
In the incoming spam this morning:
See attached Bill Of Laden.

[-- Attachment #2: Shipping_Documents.ace --]
I had never heard of .ace files, but I miss some developments. So I asked:
$ file Shipping_Documents.ace
Shipping_Documents.ace: ACE archive data version 20, from Win/32, version 20 to extract, contains AV-String (unregistered), solid
So it is an archiving format, better described at ACE (compression file format) - Wikipedia. There is an unace for linux, and this gave me:
RFQ#0929919882.exe: PE32+ executable (GUI) x86-64 Mono/.Net assembly, for MS Windows
c04e10a084657473828a03a97c82f0a9  RFQ#0929919882.exe
Which is obviously not shipping documents but an executable. Looking at the file showed some dangerous function names.

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2016-10-02 I participated in the Russian worldwide digimode contest 2016 for a bit 2 weeks ago
I tried to get another Miguel de Cervantes special event station in the log and it seemed the easiest way was to participate in the RUS-WW-DIGI Russian worldwide digimode contest 2016.

But the weekend was filled with other things (such as chasing more of those special event stations, bad weather and lousy propagation) so my participation started in the last half hour of the contest, was very short and I made 9 valid contacts which I uploaded as a checklog. I thought I had a contact number 10 but that was after the end of the contest.

The results:
Band  QSOs Dupes Points Mults
160      0     0      0     0
80       0     0      0     0
40       0     0      0     0
20       9     0     29     9
15       0     0      0     0
10       0     0      0     0
Total    9     0     29     9
Claimed score is 261 points
But I got AN400G in the log in digimode, so another slot filled.

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2016-10-01 Avoiding the local noise with help of a websdr 3 weeks ago
Local radio noise at home is at high levels again and the HF propagation isn't cooperating very well. This means that it's hard to make contacts which can be frustrating when I finally get some radio time.

At the moment I am chasing the Miguel de Cervantes special event stations organized by the Spanish radio amateur club with radio operators active all over the Spanish country. With the distance it should not be too hard, but band conditions don't cooperate very well, especially when I can't hear the remote station due to local noise.

Solution: listen on the websdr in twente and transmit on my local radio with maximum power (100 watts). The delay in the audio from the websdr means I have to adjust my timing but it is good enough to get my callsign across and check whether the other side received it correctly. So I manage to make a few more SSB contacts, since this works better on SSB than on digital radio modes.

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2016-09-29 Not very obfuscated malware code 3 weeks ago
In the incoming spam I noticed some unsollicited attachments, always a sign of danger. In this case with excel files (application/vnd.ms-excel) so I checked those with olevba, part of the oletools package.

And indeed there was macro code to be run at startup, with multiple warnings about suspicious behaviour, such as usage of "command" which can run PowerShell commands.

Having a look at the code showed very clearly that the macro was up to no good! I am used to quite interesting attempts at obfuscating macro code, so it was funny to see this bit with olevba:
Call Shell("rund" & "ll32.exe " & firmaVENIKOVNETUUUKA & ",qwerty", vbHide)
The url where the malware is downloaded was also quite readable in the macro.

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2016-09-28 Zonnepanelen voor op de camping 3 weeks ago
Van de ervaringen van de vakantie in de zomer 2016 staat nog de wens om iets met zonne-energie te doen voor bij het kamperen.

We hebben op engelse campings al meer zonnepanelen gezien, dus het idee is zeker niet nieuw. En toen ik ging zoeken kwam ik draagbare zonnepanelen bij Gerritsma Makkum kleine zonnepanelen tegen, wat bijna exact de oplossing is die ik zoek. Ik zou een niet te zwaar draagbaar pakket willen met wel de optie om direct USB devices op te laden. Ik denk dat ik begin met de 12 V 7 Ah accu opladen met zo'n zonnepaneel en zien wat dat doet voor de energiewensen van mobiele telefoons en de lamp voor 's avonds lezen. Misschien later een accu met meer capaciteit zodat er ook meer buffer is voor amateur radio activiteiten.

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2016-09-26 I participated in the CQWW RTTY contest 2016 3 weeks ago
This weekend was the CQWW RTTY contest 2016. I participated when possible between the normal weekend things like garden work and a family visit.

This is a very international and longstanding contest which runs 48 hours. I worked a few new countries including China, Montenegro and Aland Islands and less new Ceuta and Melilla, Madeira island (which I never worked since changing callsigns). In total I made 128 contacts which is a nice score.

Comparing this to the 54 contacts I made in the CQWW 2015 RTTY contest makes this a nice improvement. This year I used the endfed antenna outside, I had access to more of the 40 meter band and I started preparing for the contest on Friday evening.

After working through the logs the number of contacts did not change. Results uploaded via the cqww contest log website and to the Veron Afdelings Competitie.
Read the rest of I participated in the CQWW RTTY contest 2016

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2016-09-22 Amateur radio antenna camouflage 4 weeks ago
I am considering putting a vertical antenna for the 2 meter and 70 centimeter amateur bands on our roof. But I would like such an antenna to be as invisible as possible. One step will be to put it on the back of the dormer, as close to the center of the roof as possible. This would make it hard to see from the front side and from the backyard.

Another option for making an antenna less visible dawned on me when I saw an antenna at our radio club recently that was spray-painted in a red/brown colour to blend in with brickwork: it is possible to pain the outside cover of an antenna as long as the paint does not interfere with the radio frequencies.

Searching some more about this option I found an article at Diamond X50 Antenna Camouflage which describes an elaborate attempt at camouflaging a Diamond X50 antenna.

My choice of colour would be some sort of grey colour to be less visible against the average sky around here.

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The person

Father, cat owned/owner, Unix/Linux fan, Internet user, reader, recumbent byciclist, snowboarder, ipv6 fan. For those who don't speak Dutch: how to pronounce Koos van den Hout.

The job

Specialist information security at Utrecht University with a modern Profile page.

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Koos van den Hout, reachable as koos+website@idefix.net. PGP encrypted e-mail preferred.

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Meningen zijn die van mezelf, wat ik schrijf is beschermd door auteursrecht. Sommige publicaties bevatten een expliciete vermelding dat ze ongevraagd gedeeld mogen worden.
My opinions are my own, what I write is protected by copyrights. Some publications contain an explicit license statement which allows sharing without asking permission.
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