News items for tag english - Koos van den Hout

2020-05-17 New countries in the log, now waiting for confirmation 1 month ago
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

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2020-05-14 After years of rants, Windows can still surprise me in a positive way 1 month ago
Windows 10 discovering CUPS printers 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!

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2020-05-12 Changing the CSS grid depending on screen size 1 month ago
Camp Wireless responsive design 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".

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2020-05-06 I discovered the CSS grid model 2 months ago
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.

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2020-05-05 Internal documentation of my home network 2 months ago
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.

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2020-05-03 New country in the log: St. Lucia 2 months ago
St Lucia on OpenStreetMap, map by OpenStreetMap contributors 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.

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2020-05-01 Time for a plot of the number of contacts in amateur radio after a busy month 2 months ago
QSO count plot up to April 2020 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.

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2020-05-01 I'm not intimidated by morse anymore 2 months ago
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.

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2020-05-01 Probable lightning damage to a network switch 2 months ago
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.

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2020-04-29 More 10 meter band fun 2 months ago
This month is somewhere near the absolute minimum of the solar cycle but today FT8 is active on the 10 meter band. I listened to other things on the 10 meter band but when I heard some morse I soon found out it was a beacon from Italy. It would have been nice to do some other mode than ft8 on the band.

But I made the possible FT8 contacts and got bigger distances than yesterday. In the evening I got Asiatic Russia and Belarus in the log.

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2020-04-29 Seeing when it's time to walk to the laserjet printer 2 months ago
I have an aged laserjet 4100 DTN printer at home and it sometimes takes a while to print something. The logs from cups will state that it has been sent to the printer but the printer will still show processing.

Solution: ask the printer for the active pagecounter. This will be updated after the page has really been output, so it will only change when the printer is done with the page.
$ snmpget -v1 -c internal laserjet
iso. = Counter32: 738042

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2020-04-28 A nice 10 meter opening this afternoon 2 months ago
I'm at home at the moment with a few days off from work. Time to play some radio, and with the current stay at home measures there are a lot of stations active.

I spun the dial to the 10 meter band this afternoon and heard signals. There was a nice E-skip opening to Spain and I even decoded some signals from Brazil. With normal ionospheric propagation South-America isn't that hard for most of the Dutch HF amateurs, but it's usually my difficult corner. I made several contacts with stations in Southern Europe, including AM2WARD so that's a new slot in the IARU 95th anniversary stations as organized by the Spanish radio amateurs.

In the weekend I had contacts with other stations part of that activity, including several in morse. Those stations are using fast computer-generated morse so I can't decode everything 'live' but by now I do know what 'PE4KH 5NN' sounds like at rather high speeds.

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2020-04-19 Going horizontal on 2 meters FT8 2 months ago
For all of my FT8 contacts from home until now I used the vertical diamond X-300N antenna on the roof. Most 2 meter DX stations will use a directional horizontal antenna, so I lose some signal when I try to communicate with them.

So last weekend I put the Arrow satellite antenna in the attic pointing out the window with the 2 meter elements in horizontal mode. Pointing out this window means southeast direction so I hoped to make some DX contacts into Germany or beyond.

Beyond did not happen, there was no special propagation on the 2 meter band. But the furthest contact was with DJ5FI with a distance of 360 kilometers. I'll try this again when there is special propagation in that direction.

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2020-04-10 Brand IPA 2 months ago
Beer illustration Not imported from very far, just from the local supermarket.

Again an Indian Pale Ale. There is something about that taste that I like. This one doesn't have a very 'hoppy' taste like some other IPA beers. I would describe the color as a light amber. Almost blonde.

The beer details

Beer nameIPA
Beer styleIPA - India Pale Ale
Alcohol by volume7.0 %

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2020-04-08 I participated in the EA RTTY contest 2020 3 months ago
RTTY Contest on websdr Last weekend was the EA RTTY Contest 2020 edition. I decided to participate beforehand so I set up radio, antenna and macros in time before the start. There was quite some time for the contest available since we're not going anywhere.

Things started slow, I couldn't get as much contacts in the log on Saturday as I had in the EAPSK63 contest 2020 on Saturday.

But on Sunday the contacts started happening and I ended with 143 contacts in the contest. 110 on the 20 meter band and 33 on the 40 meter band. I logged 26 unique provinces in Spain.
Read the rest of I participated in the EA RTTY contest 2020

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2020-04-07 Troy Hunt: No I won't link to your spammy article 3 months ago
A recurring theme in rants here: link request spam written to look like a serious and personal request to improve an article on my site.

Troy Hunt seems to get a lot of those too, so he wrote No, I Won't Link to Your Spammy Article.

So we can now all stop doing stupid 'search engine optimization' and go back to sharing actual good content.

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2020-04-04 Found the probable reason of the DNSSEC subzones problem 3 months ago
I think I found the most probable reason of the earlier problem with DNSSEC signed subzones. I was trying this with a domain for which I don't have control over one of the secondary nameservers.

In one of my showerthought moments I decided to try another domain where I have that full control (just less nameservers) and was able to make it all validate correctly after some tries. Forgetting one or more of all the steps needed to correctly create a domain with DNSSEC and getting the delegation right will give errors.

So I guess running a nameserver with all DNSSEC options disabled hinders validation.

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2020-04-03 I participated in the Dutch Digital Activity Contest April 2020 3 months ago
PE4KH claim in the 2 meter Dutch Digital Activity Contest April 2020 There is a new 'activity' promoting digital modes on the 2 meter band. It's short, which is probably why it's called an activity rather than a contest. And it's on a weekday evening. Information in Vanaf nu elke maand een VHF-UHF Digitale Mode Activiteitscontest - VHF en hoger Veron (in Dutch). On the first Wednesday evening of the Month it will be on the 2 meter band, on the second Wednesday evening of the Month it will be on the 70 centimeter band.

I participated 1 April 2020 and made 22 contacts within the activity. Several new calls for me in the log, so that's always good. The contestlog processing website generates a map with locators after submitting a log, so I use that map in this newsitem.

The preferred mode is FT8, and some participants were using the FT8 software in 'EU-VHF mode' exchanging serial numbers and 6-character maidenhead locators. My wsjt-x decided to switch on receiving such an exchange. The interesting part was that in a few of the next contacts the software also switched but other contacts failed with that information so I switched back to normal FT8 with the 'EU-VHF mode' disabled.

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2020-04-02 Beeping -- --- .-. ... . loud enough 3 months ago
Kent morse practise oscillator built
The Kent morse practise oscillator built
To practise my morse at the radioclub I looked for a simple morse practise oscillator and found Morse practise oscillator kit - Kent and ordered it at the beginning of Februari. It took a while for it to arrive, but it arrived and I built it in one evening.

It's a quite simple kit. Which means the power for the whole circuit runs via the morse key, in theory about 120 mA. And that is more than the octocoupler on the CW output of the nanokeyer I built is willing to deliver (50 mA). So I can't use the practise oscillator straight away, there will need to be a small amplifier in between.

Some searching suggests I can use a transistor as 'power amplifier'. Time to look at what I may have (which is not a lot) or find a transistor somewhere.

Solution: order a bunch of transistors in a collection so I have some in the junkbox.

Oh and: The dashes and dots in the title are the word 'MORSE' in morse.

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2020-03-25 It's 2020 and github doesn't support IP version 6 3 months ago
Several of the machines here at home have IPv4 to the outside world disabled, simply to find every ancient service or program that still lives in the old world. Today I found one of those while installing dehydrated to automatically renew Let's Encrypt certificates.

Indeed, github has no IPv6 support. It tries to be a modern service, but lacks an AAAA record.

The solution is simple: use a webproxy to solve this. The only reason I still have a squid webproxy running is to be able to access IPv4-only http/https services from those hosts, so setting the http proxy in the global git config helped. I'm just surprised github doesn't support IPv6.

Update: After some searching I found Github users have been asking about IPv6 connectivity since at least 2018 and the "solution" is that they currently don't support IPv6 and the request is on some list.

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