News items for tag english - Koos van den Hout

2019-01-14 I participated in the UBA PSK63 prefix radio contest 1 week ago
Like in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 I participated in the UBA PSK63 Prefix Contest in the past weekend. Before I really dove into the contest I first mounted a new end-fed 10/20/40 antenna which can handle more power and tested it.

It took a few tries to get the antenna tuned on the 40 meter band. I tested this with the amplifier which has proven to be really precise about the SWR of the antenna in the 40 meter band, as noted in my post about the ARRL RTTY roundup 2019. I had planned to get this antenna up and running before that contest but that did not work out.

After testing I switched back to 50 watts power without the amplifier because the rules of the UBA PSK63 prefix contest limit the power.

I made a total of 69 contacts as single operator 40 meter. I had a short look at PSK63 activity in the 20 meter band during daylight but it was completely none.

After the contest I tried some FT8 contacts on the 40 meter band with the amplifier active. The amplifier did not like this and went into SWR protection. I must have tuned it perfectly for 7.040 - 7.050 MHz but the SWR is already outside the limits for the amplifier at 7.074 MHz.

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2019-01-12 Enabling some old web userdirs 1 week ago
I received a "complaint" that a very old site on the webserver wasn't working anymore. I am not a person to just stop something without planning that so this was an oversight. It was one of the userdirs on Ivo van der Wijk who hasn't updated the page sinds 1994. No, really, not even the broken links.

In restoring this one and the others I found that php in userdirs is disabled by default nowadays, found via PHP not working in userdir (public_html) - devPlant. Maybe a good idea, but I only enable php on virtualhosts where I want it, so I disabled that rule. I hadn't missed it on my own webspace yet, but a site like Het online dagboek van hester (Renate) in Australie (en daar in de buurt) depend on PHP completely.

While I was looking for the reason the php failed I also noticed that /etc/apache2/mods-available/userdir.conf also has some configuration I do not appreciate, it enables userdirs globally when the module is loaded:
<IfModule mod_userdir.c>
        UserDir public_html
        UserDir disabled root

        <Directory /home/*/public_html>
                AllowOverride FileInfo AuthConfig Limit Indexes
                Options MultiViews Indexes SymLinksIfOwnerMatch IncludesNoExec
                Require method GET POST OPTIONS
I disabled that part: I only want the userdir to work on specific virtual hosts.

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2019-01-08 Amateur radio resolutions for 2019 2 weeks ago
The last time I did those was in 2017: Reviewing my 2016 amateur radio resolutions, and the new ones for 2017 and the hindsight results for 2017/2018 are:
  • Improve the holiday/portable setup with solar power and a lightweight multiband inverted V
    No solar power (due to costs) but the portable setup is improved and tested: the fiber mast I bought for playing radio from several locations including amateur radio from a local park. Now to find more time to actually use it.
  • Keep doing the digimode contests
    That part went better in 2017 and I had less time and/or energy for contests in 2018. Also in 2018 the interference situation got worse. So my net results in contests improved in 2017 and got worse in 2018.
  • Maybe those satellites
    I tried at least receiving them a few times, but no contacts yet.
  • Get a 2m/70cm vertical antenna on the roof of the dormer
    It's there, it has already been upgraded to a bigger antenna with higher gain and it's mostly used for 2 meter FT8. But also for actual talking to other radio amateurs sometimes.
The Sotabeams newsletter had an item "Setting your targets for 2019" which had some nice ideas and which triggered me to write this post. Things I want to try :
  • Keep learning morse!
  • Get more countries on more HF bands in the log
  • Moonbounce on 2 meter
  • Those digimode contests, and maybe a few phone contests
  • Operate HF outside
  • At least one satellite contact

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2019-01-08 Seeing the 451: Unavailable due to legal reasons in the wild 2 weeks ago
Today I tried to follow a link to but I got an error message:
451: Unavailable due to legal reasons

We recognize you are attempting to access this website from a country belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) including the EU which enforces the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and therefore access cannot be granted at this time
And indeed in the headers:
$ lynx -head -dump
HTTP/1.1 451 Unavailable For Legal Reasons
I see the real reason as 'not wanting to comply with European consumer protection laws'. I have no idea how many visitors the site is missing due to this regionblock but since it's a regional weekly newspaper in the United States of America: probably not a lot of the intended audience.

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2019-01-07 I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup 2 weeks ago
RTTY contest on websdr As planned I participated in the ARRL RTTY Roundup contest this weekend. It was possible to participate in FT8 mode but since I had not prepared for that and had no duplicate checking between FT8 and RTTY I decided to use the mode I am familiair with for this contest: RTTY.

I operated on the 40 meter band Saturday and Sunday evening, and on the 20 meter band during the daylight hours of Sunday. Everything was search and pounce, no responses to calling CQ. I used the power amplifier on the 20 meter band which did help in getting the contacts to almost every station I could decode. The amplifier does not like the SWR from the antenna on 40 meters so I ran without the amplifier on that band.

I made 115 contacts. A number of US stations, already the first new US state confirmed via LoTW. Two more new US states in the log, hope I can get those confirmed too.

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2019-01-02 Migration to new server finished 2 weeks ago
More than a year after I started migrating from homeserver greenblatt to the new homeserver conway the last migration is done and the old server is switched off. The new server is in a good position in the rack, and the old server is still taking up space in there too. It has taken a lot of time, I decided to stop some websites and other unused services in the process and my energy levels haven't always been that great. I have improved several things in the process, which also caused delays.

One thing hasn't changed (which I did expect to change): the power usage of the new server isn't lower! The UPS tells me the output load is about the same. Ok, the new hardware has a lot more CPU power, a lot more memory and faster storage, but I expected the poweruse to go down a bit.

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2019-01-01 Switching to 1-wire over USB and forwarding a USB device to a guest VM 3 weeks ago
The new hardware for the homeserver has no external serial ports, so I could not use the old serial / 1-wire interface that has been doing the home monitoring for years. But I had a spare USB DS2490 interface. So I plugged this into the server and wanted to forward the USB device to the guest VM that runs all the monitoring.

First I had to blacklist all the loaded drivers to have the device available to kvm as-is. In /etc/modprobe.d/local-config.conf:
blacklist w1_smem
blacklist ds2490
blacklist wire
Next step was to attach the device to the right vm. I followed the hints at How to auto-hotplug usb devices to libvirt VMs (Update 1) and edited the definition for the vm to get the host device like:
    <hostdev mode='subsystem' type='usb' managed='no'>
        <vendor id='0x04fa'/>
        <product id='0x2490'/>
But that did not get the usb device attached to the running VM and I did not feel like rebooting it. So I created an extra file with the above and did a
root@conway:~# virsh attach-device --live gosper /tmp/onewire.xml 
Device attached successfully
And then I had to do the same blacklisting as above in the virtual machine. After doing that I detached and attached it from the VM without touching it with simply:
root@conway:~# virsh detach-device --live gosper /tmp/onewire.xml 
Device detached successfully

root@conway:~# virsh attach-device --live gosper /tmp/onewire.xml 
Device attached successfully
After that I had to set up rules for the telemetry user to have enough access to the USB device:
SUBSYSTEMS=="usb", GOTO="usb_w1_start"
ATTRS{idVendor}=="04fa", ATTRS{idProduct}=="2490", GROUP="telemetry", MODE="0666"
And now it all works:
telemetry@gosper:~$ digitemp_DS2490 -a
DigiTemp v3.7.1 Copyright 1996-2015 by Brian C. Lane
GNU General Public License v2.0 -
Found DS2490 device #1 at 002/003
Jan 01 21:53:11 Sensor 10A8B16B0108005D C: 9.500000
Jan 01 21:53:12 Sensor 28627F560200002F C: 17.062500
Jan 01 21:53:14 Sensor 10BC428A010800F4 C: 19.562500
Jan 01 21:53:15 Sensor 1011756B010800F1 C: 11.937500
Jan 01 21:53:16 Sensor 10B59F6B01080016 C: 16.312500
Jan 01 21:53:17 Sensor 1073B06B010800AC C: 18.687500
Jan 01 21:53:18 Sensor 102B2E8A010800F0 C: 29.250000
Jan 01 21:53:20 Sensor 28EF71560200002D C: 16.687500
Working house temperatures again!

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2018-12-30 New GcmWin for Linux 3 weeks ago
The author of GcmWin for Linux responded quickly to my report of being unable to install gcmwin after installing a new Linux version and made a new version available which does run fine on Ubuntu 18.04. Again my thanks to Roger Hedin SM3GSJ for making GcmWin available.

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2018-12-30 First annoyance with systemd on thompson 3 weeks ago
On reinstalling thompson I was not sure whether to pick ubuntu (with lots of package support for amateur radio) or devuan (without systemd). I chose ubuntu to keep access to lots of amateur radio packages but as expected the first systemd problem already got me. Names in the internal network with RFC1918 addresses weren't resolvable.

After some searching I found out systemd-resolved had decided the last nameserver advertised via IPv6 was the one to use. As I could not find a lot of information on how to do the ordering I just decided to kick it all out and switch to normal resolving. Some searching found How to disable systemd-resolved in Ubuntu? - ask ubuntu which has the right steps. Back to somewhat normal, the next step is to convince NetworkManager to use IPv6 resolving before IPv4.

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2018-12-28 Serious tropospheric ducting over Christmas 3 weeks ago
Normally, radio signals travel in a straight line and refraction in the ionosphere only happens on relatively low frequencies (below 30 MHz).

Signals in the 2 meter band (144-146 MHz) don't get refracted in the ionosphere, they just leave earth. But in certain weather conditions with stable high-pressure areas layers can form that reflect these signals back to earth or create ducts in the air where the radio signals travel along the surface for much bigger distances than normal.

For Christmas 2018 there was some troposperic ducting predicted on William Hepburn's Worldwide Tropospheric Ducting Forecast. This site forecasts ducting areas based on predicted weather patterns.

To see the actual distances seen in radio contacts I check VHF propagation map based on APRS reception which uses input from APRS messages with location data received at other sites to find long distance contacts. During the Christmas festivities I checked that site from time to time and saw the big distance signal reports mostly over France, slowly creeping North.

So on 25, 26, 27 and 28 December I ran the radio when possible on 2 meter FT8 and got some new distance records and some new gridsquares in the log. New distance record: 639 kilometer to G4RRA. Several other new calls in the log, some new gridsquares. When visiting the qrz pages of those calls I usually see serious setups with directional antennas so they all do the hard work transmitting in my direction and decoding my signal.

This is all still with the 'simple' vertical for 2m/70cm: a Diamond X-300N on the roof. I wonder what I can do on a good day with a directional antenna and a rotor.

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2018-12-23 I upgraded the 'radio workstation' thompson 1 month ago
As mentioned in New 2 meter distance: 506 kilometers I was still running the old wsjt-x because a newer version requires a newer Linux environment. With a bit of time in the christmas holidays available and more and more things depending on this upgrade I ordered a new disk from Azerty so the reinstallation would be easier. The old linux installation on the radio workstation was several Ubuntu versions old, it was still a 32-bit installation because of earlier hardware compatibility issues and something in D-Bus communication gave lots of errors at bootup, so I expected another upgrade to give me an unavailable system.

The new disk came faster than expected, and I did an install with Xubuntu because I'm ok with the Xfce environment.

One problem is back: the system starts with the two monitors swapped and after the screensaver kicks in the monitors somehow end up in mirrored mode.

And Gcmwin for linux failed in the upgrade since it depends on older libraries. Already reported to the author.

Lots of upgraded software, the most important ones in amateur radio are CQRLOG which showed the well-known MySQL problems until I used the version from the CQRLOG ppa. Everything now works fine and all the earlier confirmations of PSK contacts have been imported. And the trigger that all started this upgrade WSJT-X has been upgraded using the WSJTX General Availability Release ppa.

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2018-12-19 New 2 meter distance: 506 kilometers 1 month ago
Today I had a listen on the 2 meter band with FT8 from wsjt-x 1.9.1, which is currently the near-ancient version but I can't upgrade yet (wsjt-x 2.0.0 requires newer Qt libraries which require a newer linux environment).

But I decoded some signals including a new callsign from Germany. It's always nice to work a new callsign so I answered it and the contact was made after a few tries. Only when I checked the gridsquare and the map I saw that DK1FG is a new 2 meter band distance record for me : 506 kilometers. Looking at that qrz page makes clear why that was possible: on that end 8 stacked 12 element antennes are available for 2 meter DX.

Update 2018-12-21: I just saw wsjt-x packages for other ubuntu versions are available in the WSJTX General Availability Release ppa but the 'oldest' Ubuntu version supported is Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS 'Xenial'.

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2018-12-07 Trying to kick spamassassin and perl into the 21st century and prefer IPv6 for DNS traffic 1 month ago
Or in short: Perl considered harmful

I want applications to use and prefer IPv6 whenever possible, so I have a /etc/resolv.conf with IPv6 addresses of the nameserver(s) listed first. But I noticed queries from the spamassassin processes still coming in over the legacy IP protocol. Even when listing them in order in /etc/spamassassin/ spamassassin prefers IPv4. And I want it to prefer IPv6 without leaving out IPv4. I like the redundancy but I want to change the preference. Also: I only want to maintain the list of nameservers in /etc/resolv.conf and not in other locations.

I wrote a simple test program to understand what the perl Net::DNS::Resolver is doing. With a standard test program like:
#!/usr/bin/perl -wT

use strict;
use Net::DNS;
my $resolver = new Net::DNS::Resolver();

print join ' ', $resolver->nameservers();

print "\n";
The IPv4 addresses will be listed first, independent of the order in /etc/resolv.conf. Only after changing to:
#!/usr/bin/perl -wT

use strict;
use Net::DNS;
my $resolver = new Net::DNS::Resolver();

print join ' ', $resolver->nameservers();

print "\n";
I will see the IPv6 resolver listed first. But now to convince spamassassin to do the same. Browsing the Net::DNS::Resolver shows the RES_OPTIONS="inet6" option but does not document it. This option confuses spamassassin when starting:
export RES_OPTIONS="inet6"
root@gosper:/etc/default# service spamassassin restart
Restarting SpamAssassin Mail Filter Daemon: Bad arg length for NetAddr::IP::Util::mask4to6, length is 128, should be 32 at /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/perl5/5.24/NetAddr/IP/ line 647.
Compilation failed in require at /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/perl5/5.24/NetAddr/ line 8.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/perl5/5.24/NetAddr/ line 8.
Compilation failed in require at /usr/share/perl5/Mail/SpamAssassin/ line 70.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /usr/share/perl5/Mail/SpamAssassin/ line 70.
Compilation failed in require at /usr/share/perl5/Mail/SpamAssassin/ line 85.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /usr/share/perl5/Mail/SpamAssassin/ line 85.
Compilation failed in require at /usr/share/perl5/Mail/ line 71.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /usr/share/perl5/Mail/ line 71.
Compilation failed in require at /usr/sbin/spamd line 240.
BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at /usr/sbin/spamd line 240.
So that was a bad idea and is not the answer. Looking at the resolv.conf manpage shows that the option indeed does different things which explains why that was wrong.
  inet6  Sets RES_USE_INET6 in _res.options.  This has the
		 effect of trying an AAAA query before an A query inside
		 the gethostbyname(3) function, and of mapping IPv4
		 responses in IPv6 "tunneled form" if no AAAA records
		 are found but an A record set exists.  Since glibc
		 2.25, this option is deprecated; applications should
		 use getaddrinfo(3), rather than gethostbyname(3).
So if I want perl programs to do what I want, I have to change every one of them to set $resolver->prefer_v6(1);. There is no sane default or a global "get into the 21st century" flag.

Changing /usr/share/perl5/Mail/SpamAssassin/ to include $res->prefer_v6(1); does help, but will need to be redone when updating spamassassin.

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2018-12-04 Really ending a domain name and the web presence 1 month ago
On 25 december 2004 there was a special deal giving me the .info names and for free for the first year. Since that moment I kept the names registered and redirected all web traffic to the right version: So the deal worked from a 'selling domain names' perspective: Christmas is a bad moment to review the need for domain names, so the easy solution is to renew it. My decision to stop with these names was made in January 2018.

Traffic to the .info versions is very minimal. With the cost of the domain registration I decided to stop doing that and devised an exit strategy which would result in a domain name that attracts no traffic and is not linked to my other webprojects. On the next renewal date the domain will expire. I have done this before in a different context: when we ended the students personal webspace at

The solution is to start returing HTTP state 410 Gone for search engines while at the same time returning a somewhat user-friendly error page.

Relevant bit of apache 2.4 configuration:
<VirtualHost *:80>

	DocumentRoot /home/httpd/campwireless-expire/html

    <Directory "/home/httpd/campwireless-expire/html">
        Require all granted

    RewriteEngine On
    RedirectMatch 410 ^/(?!gone.html|robots.txt)
    ErrorDocument 410 /gone.html
The gone page is simple: It has an explanation for human visitors and a meta refresh tag to redirect the browser eventually. But to a search engine the status 410 on almost any url will give a clear flag the page is gone and should be flushed from the cache.
Read the rest of Really ending a domain name and the web presence

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2018-12-03 Being active in amateur radio at a strange time on a strange band: new country 1 month ago
Today I had a day off to arrange some stuff and found some time for amateur radio. I decided to put the longwire antenna outside and use the tuner to get on different bands than the standard 10/20/40.

So I was active at a strange time (during a working day) on a band I haven't been active on in months. Soon I saw signals from C5YK who is in The Gambia. After several tries I made the contact and had a new country in the log.

I also tried a lot of times to contact a station from Rodrigues Island but they never heard me.

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2018-11-28 Using mice adopted to my hands 1 month ago
The old rsi problem was acting up again, just like I had RSI in 1999.

One of the things I now did was add a left-side mouse on the linux desktop at home. I have used a left-side mouse for a number of years on a linux desktop and used the instructions from the xmodmap manpage:
       Many  pointers are designed such that the first button is pressed using
       the index finger of the right hand.  People who  are  left-handed  fre‐
       quently  find  that  it is more comfortable to reverse the button codes
       that get generated so that the primary  button  is  pressed  using  the
       index  finger  of  the  left  hand.   This  could be done on a 3 button
       pointer as follows:
       %  xmodmap -e "pointer = 3 2 1"
But I now have two USB mice, one with a forward/backward button and a clearly right-handed design and one simple one on the left. And it is possible to selectively swap mouse buttons on only one input device with xinput.

The list of all inputs:
koos@thompson:~$ xinput list
⎡ Virtual core pointer                          id=2    [master pointer  (3)]
⎜   ↳ Virtual core XTEST pointer                id=4    [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Logitech USB-PS/2 Optical Mouse           id=9    [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎜   ↳ Logitech Optical USB Mouse                id=10   [slave  pointer  (2)]
⎣ Virtual core keyboard                         id=3    [master keyboard (2)]
    ↳ Virtual core XTEST keyboard               id=5    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button                              id=6    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Power Button                              id=7    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Burr-Brown from TI               USB Audio CODEC  id=8    [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ VIA Technologies Inc. USB Audio Device    id=11   [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ daskeyboard                               id=12   [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ daskeyboard                               id=13   [slave  keyboard (3)]
    ↳ Dell WMI hotkeys                          id=14   [slave  keyboard (3)]
Setting the button order happens with xinput set-button-map which needs an ID. Solution in .xsession:
xinput set-button-map $(xinput list --id-only "Logitech Optical USB Mouse") 3 2 1

Oh, and in that other operating system I use (Windows) one of the problems is the user can't set mouse button order per device. And technical specifications of left-handed mice do not list whether the buttons are swapped in hardware.

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2018-11-25 New country in the amateur radio logs 1 month ago
This weekend I had some time and energy to power up the amateur radio set and trying to get interesting contacts. All in FT8 digital mode as the local interference levels are high. I do my voice contacts at the radio club or out in the field.

This Saturday I managed to make a contact with 5T2AI on Mauritania, a new country in amateur radio for me. At first the other station did not receive me but using the power amplifier helped to make the contact.

I also did a lot of attempts to get a contact with the current radio expedition to Rodriguez Islands but failed.

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2018-11-23 Automatic ls colours can be slow 2 months ago
I noticed certain commands taking a while to start, including a simple ls. At last I got annoyed enough to diagnose the whole situation and found out the problem is the combination of symbolic links in the listed directory pointing to filesystems behind automounter, one mounted filesystem coming from a NAS with sleeping disk and ls --color doing a stat() on the target of a symbolic link to find the type of the target file to be able to select a colour.

My solution: find the source of the alias and disable it.

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2018-11-20 Fixing old deeplinks to twitter 2 months ago
Remember the twitter #! hashbang urls? I'd rather not. Those URLs were active from 2010 to 2012 and have been eliminated. But I got reminded today as it seems they are now silently failing. I checked the archive of my own website to fix all those links.

I try to keep all old URLs working. Unless the content completely goes away.

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2018-11-16 Changing the way I listen to podcasts 2 months ago
I bought the iRiver ifp-795 in May 2005 to listen to podcasts, mostly while cycling to and from work.

But I need to find time to download new episodes on the laptop and copy them in the right order to the storage of the mp3 player. There is an another device which can do all this and can play the mp3 files too: my android smartphone.

So I looked for an Android podcast player which can deal with podcast feeds not in its own directory. After reading an overview article and browsing the play store I found RadioPublic and managed to add my favourite podcasts.

Adding a feed it didn't know was a bit harder than expected. I want to listen to The ICQ Amateur / Ham Radio Podcast but it wasn't listed. So I tried to add the RSS feed myself by typing the URL which failed. Adding it only worked out after I opened the RSS feed in my browser on android and copied and pasted the url to the 'search' field.

The application has a nice playlist and I can order the downloaded episodes in such a way that I don't get several episodes from the same show in a row.

Ok, I found one downside: it seems impossible to add an mp3 downloaded via the browser to the RadioPublic playlist.

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PGP key 5BA9 368B E6F3 34E4 local copy PGP key 5BA9 368B E6F3 34E4 via keyservers pgp key statistics for 0x5BA9368BE6F334E4 Koos van den Hout
Other webprojects: Camp Wireless, wireless Internet access at campsites, The Virtual Bookcase, book reviews