2020-05-27 PMR channels have been expanded. In 2018, but I found out today
It's been a very long time since I was busy with pure radio frequency scanning. Being active on the sending side too has made me less interested in frequencies where I can only listen. But recently I was looking at what is available, and noticed the marine VHF channels. I could program them all in a scanner, but I decided to use software defined radio to see if anything is active in that band. Late in the evening there is currently no activity. But I set a scanner to scan all known channels and heard some chatter on PMR channels. On one channel was a remark that there was interference and they should switch to channel 14. In my memory analog PMR had 8 channels. So I looked it up and found out analog PMR was expanded to 16 channels on 1 January 2018. There is also DMR446 (same frequencies but with time division multiple access) on the same frequencies and dPMR446 with 32 possible frequencies in the same range. So now the scanner is updated with the new analog frequencies and I can hear a baby monitor, motorcycle driving lessons and a building site.
2020-05-25 Websites get attacked from the very first moment
Sometimes hobby and work intertwine when I'm not expecting it. I set up a domainname and added a dummy website for something related to amateur radio. I have no idea if it will go anywhere, but I thought I'd get the web configuration right. The domain name isn't published anywhere. But, to my surprise:188.8.131.52 - - [20/May/2020:09:14:35 +0200] "GET /.git/HEAD HTTP/1.0" 404 594 "-" "-" 184.108.40.206 - - [20/May/2020:09:14:35 +0200] "GET /.git/HEAD HTTP/1.0" 404 594 "-" "-" 220.127.116.11 - - [20/May/2020:09:14:53 +0200] "GET /.git/HEAD HTTP/1.0" 404 594 "-" "-" 18.104.22.168 - - [20/May/2020:09:14:53 +0200] "GET /.git/HEAD HTTP/1.0" 404 594 "-" "-" 22.214.171.124 - - [20/May/2020:09:15:12 +0200] "GET /.git/HEAD HTTP/1.0" 404 594 "-" "-" 2a00:d680:30:50::67 - - [24/May/2020:16:54:36 +0200] "GET /wp-login.php HTTP/1.1" 404 594 "http://******.*******.**/wp-login.php" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Ubuntu; Linux x86_64; rv:62.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/62.0"I added the domain name and requested a LetsEncrypt certificate on 11 May 2020, I set up the webserver correctly on 19 May 2020. The only 'publication' of the name is via the certificate transparancy log. Somehow this is enough for the first probes for possible security issues. Looking in the haproxy logs finds even more requests on 15 and 18 May 2020. Part of the requests are via http, not https.
2020-05-24 Going for countries on other amateur bands
In the past few days I used the long-wire antenna with tuner to get on 'other' amateur bands. I added contacts on the 17 and 15 meter bands to several countries around my country. Some of those countries were new on those bands, so that's nice. No spectaculair new distances or countries, but a good flow of new contacts.
2020-05-24 Shared my script to optimize outgoing QSL cards
As a radio amateur I like sending and receiving QSL cards. QSL is the Q-code for "I confirm reception" and a QSL card is the way to confirm a contact. I have my own QSL card design and a big box of cards to send out. With contacts I usually do a check if a fellow amateur mentions the wish for cards via the QSL bureau on her/his qrz.com page, because I only want to send cards to interested amateurs. Due to the way I process my cards I can put up to 4 contacts on one card, so it's a simple optimization that if I have one contact that I want to send a card for I also check for other contacts with the same callsign. The qslmaximizer.pl script does this for the CQRLOG database.
2020-05-19 Testing encryption with sslscan including deprecated TLS versions
Keeping encryption settings correct needs a lot of testing to make sure things are right. With external-facing webservices this is easy with the Qualys SSL scan, but for other services than https or services not facing outward a local tester is needed. This local tester is sslscan, a commandline tool but which depends on the shared openssl libraries which have insecure protocols disabled to helps disabling those deprecated protocols. But to test services the client needs to support those old protocols to do the test correctly. So I built a static version of sslscan with static openssl using the instructions at https://github.com/rbsec/sslscan. And that works for the full testing range!Read the rest of Testing encryption with sslscan including deprecated TLS versions
2020-05-17 New countries in the log, now waiting for confirmation
Two new countries in the log, now the wait is for the amateurs on the other side to confirm the contact via Logbook of the World. Or maybe not, but both seemed solid contacts. First was to the island of Curacao, part of the Netherlands Antilles. A lot of Dutch stations will have Curacao in the log because the Americas are the 'easy' DX but with my antenna position it has always been easier to get to the east. Second one was to Kenia, which was a sort of surprise contact, I suddenly saw signals from a station there without any other indication that there was an opening towards Africa. In other amateur radio experiences I've also had some really nice 10 meter openings recently. This is remarkable at the bottom of the sunspot cycle, but I guess sporadic E and other special propagation modes help. So I got some new countries on 10 meter. Earlier North Macedonia and today Albania.Read the rest of New countries in the log, now waiting for confirmation
2020-05-14 After years of rants, Windows can still surprise me in a positive way
Microsoft Windows does fall straight into the "does not work well with others" category for me, but today Windows 10 on my work laptop managed to give me a positive surprise. I wanted to print something at home, and my home network is set up to publish CUPS printers via multicast DNS, both via IPv4 and IPv6 so Linux devices on the network see the printer right away. On selecting "Add a printer" in Windows 10 it just showed me the main home printer as an option and sending something to the printer worked the first time. I did notice the default paper size was still Letter although I have set up A4 everywhere, so that was the only thing left to adjust. Now for the screenshot I removed the printer and tried to add it again and I notice the availability isn't very consistent. I do see a lot of mdns traffic when I start adding a printer!
2020-05-12 Changing the CSS grid depending on screen size
A special feature I realized when working with the CSS grids is that I can change the order in which objects are displayed based on screen width. Or whether they appear at all on small screens. So now I'm working on stylesheets that change the grid to what works better on a mobile device. Which is what a lot of the visitors to Camp Wireless use! On a small screen I want the important content to come first. There is not enough space for the extras at the top, and a mobile visitor wants fast answers to the question "where can I find a campsite".
2020-05-06 I discovered the CSS grid model
In my todo-list is a rewrite of Camp Wireless to stop maintaining PHP and make it more mobile-device friendly. The reason to stop maintaining php is because I don't like it anymore which gives me a risk of having insecure code, which would be really bad for me. I'm rewriting it in Perl which isn't todays choice in web development either but it is what I can program good enough to avoid security errors. The reason to make it more mobile-device friendly is that over half of the visitors to the site are using mobile devices. They want to find a campsite while travelling with a smartphone or other mobile device. I was already using a media selector CSS, with variations for printer, I'm now looking at CSS grids which allows me to device the page into regions that move place depending on the available screensize. This makes separating content from page layout even easier.
2020-05-05 Internal documentation of my home network
A few times I had to lookup something again about the way things work in my setups. I made a remark before that I should set up a documentation wiki at home to keep this information somewhere central. Right before I started with the homeserver conway I set up Mediawiki on a webserver. First on the previous homeserver greenblatt but as soon as web production was migrated to the new server I ran it on the web production server virtual machine. So for a lot of 'how did I' questions there are answers, and some future plans. Also for plans on the house and on amateur radio related things. People who know me from work will just say this is an extension of the trail of MediaWiki based documentation systems I left behind, and they are right.
2020-05-04 A fault in my firewall
I have a Synology NAS at home running DSM, so I had a look at the certificate options. According to the documentation it can get a LetsEncrypt certificate so I tried that. And it worked... which wasn't what I expected. Some testing later found out port 80 tcp was open for every IPv6 address at home. That's now fixed and limited to those few IPv6 addresses that need to be reachable from the outside world. Browsing the opinions about allowing outside access to the webserver on the Synology versus not allowing it showed me some differing opinions, but an article listening some malware and ransomware targetting Synology systems made me decide to close the system. Looking at the nginx configuration on the Synology gives me the idea some of the web-accessible functionality is available via port 80.
2020-05-03 New country in the log: St. Lucia
In my earlier activity on the 60 meter band I had a "maybe" contact to St. Lucia. This is one of the islands in the West Indies in the Eastern Carribian Sea. But in the end the "maybe" contact was no contact. Ok, fine with me, on to the next chance. That happened Friday evening in a 10 meter opening: I came to the radio with the computer decoding FT8 signals ready to go to bed, but I saw J68HZ active as only non-European station, answering European stations. So I had to try! After a number of tries I got a reply with a very weak signal report, so I kept my fingers crossed for the next exchange and it came, closing the contact. And the next evening the contact was confirmed, giving me a new DXCC entity.
2020-05-01 Time for a plot of the number of contacts in amateur radio after a busy month
Time for a new plot of the number of radio contacts. As usual contest months are quite visible and January is for me the month with the most contests. But April 2020 is also quite visible. This last week I had a lot of time for radio due to holiday and not going anywhere. And other radio amateurs also had the time to be active, so there were a lot of new calls to get in the log. Combined with a good 10 meter band opening this added to a high number of contacts for a month with only one contest.
2020-05-01 I'm not intimidated by morse anymore
Today I "chased" the special amateur radio call for the Bulgarian Saint of this month, LZ177GL. The Bulgarian Saints are a set of special amateur radio calls each month, organized in Bulgaria by Bulgarian Radio Club BLAGOVESTNIK LZ1KCP. The callsigns are in honour of saints from the orthodox church. LZ177GL was calling CQ at a rate of about 28 words per minute. My current rate is 12-13 words per minute, so that's quite a lot faster. But it doesn't intimidate me anymore, I can hear the callsign on a few repeats, I can hear when the return is with my full callsign and a 5NN (signal report) or a part of my callsign and a question mark. Or when the answer is for another station. And that's enough to make the contact with the absolute minimum information, exchanging callsigns and signal reports. When I'm convinced my callsign got across I send '5NN TU 73' to finish the contact. I also made some other contacts in morse because I could hear CQ calls and was able to decode them by ear together with some help from fldigi. So my conclusion is that morse isn't "intimidating" anymore. I can understand enough to get an idea what is going on and use it.
2020-05-01 Probable lightning damage to a network switch
Today I noticed weird problems with the network in a desktop computer. It kept losing packets on the local network, with other computers in the same switch having no problems. In the end I switched to a different networkcard in the same computer to get rid of the problem. And that solved the problem. The most probable reason is a lightning storm that came very close yesterday evening. Update: The original 'suspect' was an Intel E1000 network card which had the first problems so I changed to a different card in the same computer. A week or so later similar problems started happening with a different computer on the same switch. I changed the switch which made the problem go away. On opening the suspect switch I saw a capacitor with a big bulge on the top so the internal power is probably unstable, which can be the root cause of really weird problems. Update: The replacement switch has only 5 ports, so I ordered an 8-port switch (my home office needs enough ports). After putting the 8-port switch in place I tested with the Intel E1000 again and it worked fine.