News items for tag notablog - Koos van den Hout

2019-03-17 Still working and sometimes struggling learning morse 1 week ago
Every week there is an hour of morse training at my radio club, see article CW cursus op PI4UTR (Dutch). And I'm going there every week I can, as learning morse is an important part of my amateur radio resolutions for 2019.

We're training with the G4FON morse trainer which uses the Koch method (order of characters to learn) to learn morse and so-called Fairnsworth timing (playing the dits and dahs of the characters at the high speed but leaving room to think about what you just heard).

I am doing ok, now we're getting to the level of 37 characters I have a hard time remembering the newest characters. Constant exercise seems the only way to fix this a bit, making exercises with just the characters I keep making mistakes in, although I can go blank again on new characters when switching to testing the whole set. As soon as I get reasonable low amounts of errors I'll try to raise the speed (by raising the effective speed, the dits and dahs of a single letter still come at 15 words per minute).

I want to learn this, with the plan to pass the Belgian CW test some day, and get up to enough speed to be able to participate in morse parts of contests and DX contacts. But there will be a lot of practice before I'm at that level.

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2019-03-04 Terug van snowboard vakantie 2 weeks ago
We zijn een week op wintersport vakantie geweest naar het gebied van Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis in Tirol. Ons onderdak was een leuk appartement in Ladis, vlak aan de piste en we hebben ons prima vermaakt met snowboarden en een dag bergwandelen. Na een onderbreking van een paar jaar kan ik nog goed snowboarden en heb me ook weer vermaakt met boardercross en mooie afdalingen.

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2019-01-08 Amateur radio resolutions for 2019 2 months 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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2019-01-02 Migration to new server finished 2 months 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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2018-12-04 Really ending a domain name and the web presence 3 months 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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2018-11-02 Stroomstoring afgelopen dinsdag 4 months ago
Er was een stroomstoring afgelopen dinsdag. Ik ontdekte dat op een hele typische manier: ik werd wakker voor de tijd van opstaan, wat me wel vaker overkomt en ik wilde op de wekker kijken maar die was donker.

Uiteindelijk was de stroomstoring van 06:23 tot 08:07, in een aardig gebied rondom ons huis. Helaas was er in de ochtenddrukte geen tijd om te testen wat het gevolg van deze uitval was voor het storingsniveau op de amateur radio HF banden.

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2017-10-30 I am a paranoid bastard 1 year ago
PGP lock logo I needed to look up some gpg commands and found GPG Cheat Sheet and it had what I was looking for.

Looking at this page I found this gem:
Ok, so what if you're a paranoid bastard and want to encrypt some of your own files, so nobody can break into your computer and get them? Simply encrypt them using yourself as the recipient.
That makes me a paranoid bastard since I use this to store passwords and other secrets.

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2017-10-20 Testing the new fibermast from a remote location 1 year ago
I had time this week to test the fibermast I ordered and I wanted to do this at a location away from houses. Someone suggested the location 'Trintelhaven' which is a small harbour in the dike between Enkhuizen and Lelystad. This is a harbour of refuge in which ships on the Ijsselmeer can find a safe location to spend the night or wait out a storm.

Usually I do my outdoor radio activities at cycling distance, but this was an interesting location, I had the day available and I felt like going a bit further.

The Trintelhaven is originally an island created for the construction of the dike between Enkhuizen and Lelystad, which was going to form the 'Markerwaard'. But that plan was cancelled and now it is the 'Markermeer' (lake) with a new project to bring more life into it.

In the end I learned things about the new fiber mast, played radio, enjoyed the outdoors and had fun.
Read the rest of Testing the new fibermast from a remote location

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2017-10-15 Getting to play VIC-20 games again 1 year ago
VIC-20 startscreen Ages ago my first homecomputer was a Commodore VIC-20. I did basic programming on it and played some games. I remember the game Centipede and loading games from audio cassette.

These days games seem to be enormously complex and expensive or filled with advertisments. I don't like these, the last time I seriously invested time in a game was Pinball Dreams.

I found out about the VIC-20 emulator xvic, part of the vice package. I even bought a cheap USB joystick to use. I never had a joystick with my VIC-20 so it was about time to get one. This joystick is a DragonRise Inc. Generic USB Joystick (yes, including the spaces) and I noticed today it wasn't working right: up and down on the joystick did not work. I found out eventually the left and right on the second stick mapped to up and down, thanks to a simple joystick tester from Joystick - Denialwiki in 7 lines of Basic.

Some searching found DragonRise USB Driver Issue - RetroPie which mentions this issue in hid-dr.ko happened in Linux 4.4 - 4.9.

I did not feel like going back to compiling my own kernels for this laptop, but there is a simple solution in Ubuntu 16.04: use hwe (hardware enablement) kernels. These seem to be aimed at the long term support server versions, but they fix my joystick problem and I can play centipede.

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2017-07-21 Received slow scan TV images from ISS while I was sleeping 1 year ago
I read about the current ARISS Celebrates it’s 20th Anniversary through SSTV Event and noticed the planned times weren't really compatible with my day/night cyclus. I know, as a hardcore radio amateur I should be up at the weirdest hours for rare events but I also like my sleep a lot and my wife really dislikes alarms at weird hours.

Automation to the rescue: I decided to record all of a night of ISS signals on the computer with audacity and decode images from it later. The computer adjusted the radio for doppler using gpredict. Since I don't have an automatic rotor for satellite antennas I used the VHF/UHF vertical. This may seem strange but the weakest signals from ISS are when it is right above the horizon (which is when the vertical has the best reception). And as noticed on earlier SSTV events that compared to other amateur satellites the ISS has a strong signal.

So I left it running for a night and checked the results afterwards. The result was a 9 hour recording and audacity decided to hang after stopping the recording. I made a backup copy of the audio data just to be safe and restarted audacity. Luckily it recovered the project fine after restarting.

With a recent version of qsstv I decoded the recorded audio and searched for ISS passes in the recording.

The result is 13 decodes in one night. It turns out it received audio from a number of low passes that I did not see in gpredict because I have gpredict set up to skip low passes (those that don't come above a 20 degree angle above the horizon). But the strong signals from ISS make those show up in my radio anyway.

Decoded and seen the numbers sofar: 11 (partially), 12, 9, 10, 9, 10, 9 (partially), 9, 7, 8.

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2017-01-04 Reviewing my 2016 amateur radio resolutions, and the new ones for 2017 2 years ago
Mobile radio for 2m/70cm in radio shack, CC-BY-SA Again on reddit /r/amateurradio there was a thread HNY! What are your 2017 Amateur Radio resolutions? so I checked the results for My 2016 Amateur Radio resolutions and thought about what I want to do in 2017 with amateur radio.

So, first to review what I hoped to do in 2016:
  • Pass the exam for the full license on 2 March
  • Participate in "Mills on the air" in May
Prepared, and failed: antenna wasn't working and by the time things were fixed the 40 meter band wasn't cooperating.
  • Making amateur satellite contacts when the weather permits
No contacts made, I got an antenna rotor and built a holder for the arrow antenna on that rotor, but I only used it to receive SSTV from the ISS.
  • Participate in a few digimode contests 'seriously' (preparing, using an outside antenna, optimizing score). Sofar I usuallly go 'oh there is a contest I'll throw in my call and see if I can score some points'
Done: did better in a few contests compared to my 2015 scores. Also worked on and improved my contest macros. I even did a little voice contesting.
  • Bring some radio stuff on summer holiday (a full license makes this possible in a lot more countries around here)
Brought the radio and an endfed antenna on a holiday in northern England. Found out the endfed gets into problems when cold (which was probably also the reason "Mills on the air" failed first). And by the time the weather was nice enough for the endfed to work again the battery of the radio was drained.

So, for 2017:

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2017-01-01 Leaped into 2017! 2 years ago
Jan  1 00:59:59 greenblatt kernel: [2538111.748198] Clock: inserting leap second 23:59:60 UTC
I usually distribute the leap second file to all servers I control to make sure there are no strange problems around it.

I wish everyone a good 2017!

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2016-12-05 NL-Alert? Doe mij voorlopig ook maar een echt luchtalarm 2 years ago
Vandaag was weer een NL-Alert controlebericht en als ik zo de geschiedenis inkijk van ontvangen infoberichten op mijn telefoontoestel denk ik dat het voorlopig niet verstandig is het 'ouderwetse' luchtalarm uit te schakelen.

Ik heb een dual-sim telefoon, die op de netwerken van Vodafone en T-mobile zit. Dus in theorie krijg ik 2 keer per jaar 2 berichten.

Uit de huidige geschiedenis:
  • 2015-12-07 12:00: om 12:01 ontvangen via t-mobile
  • 2016-06-06 12:00: niets ontvangen
  • 2016-12-05 12:00: om 12:03 ontvangen via vodafone
Op 2016-06-27 was er een echte reden tot nl-alert, en die heb ik via vodafone ontvangen.

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2015-07-24 Less flash but still playable audio 3 years ago
I like to sometimes add audio to items here on my homepage. In a format accessible for anyone with both download and play in browser options. Until now this was done using a flash-based player but lately flash has not been the secure option.

With the latest browsers it is quite possible to have an html5 audio player, but to keep it accessible for every visitor I also want to keep the flash audio player available. So I looked up how to do that and found Using HTML5 audio and video.

The linked audio is also available as attachments to the homepage RSS feed which is the standard for podcast feeds but since the recordings of satellite passes don't have an audio explanation or introduction they are not very usable as a podcast feed.

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2015-02-23 Preparing for upgrades and testing speed improvements for my homepage 4 years ago
As part of a needed upgrade on my homeserver I will also have to deal with Apache 2.4 and the changes needed there. Because some other things will change completely like asterisk I used an old server with comparable packages to do the same upgrades and test the results.

As keen visitors to my page may have noticed I am interested in the performance. This test-setup also gives me room to experiment with some possible new methods. I have to establish a baseline on that server first since it has different hardware.
Read the rest of Preparing for upgrades and testing speed improvements for my homepage

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2014-11-24 Updates to my homepage 4 years ago
With some newsitems here on my homepage getting longer I started to feel the need to make a more blog-like format possible with items with an introduction and longer text. And titles here and there to give a better title to newsitems that deserve it. So some changes to the database format, support scripts and all the scripts generating pages.

The changes were big enough to update the version number so now it is 4.5.

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2014-03-07 (#) 5 years ago
Brilliant xkcd recently, number 1337: Hack - xkcd.

xkcd 1337 hack
Hackers (1995) - imdb movie database

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2013-06-18 (#) 5 years ago
I used to integrate my twitter feed into this page but the latest twitter api changes have broken that again (twitter rss feeds are gone at the moment). At the moment I switched to Twitter RSS but that is a third-party service with little information about the person(s) behind it.

Changes in the 'Twitter API' were noted in a lot of places, also at WordPress/Facebook/Twitter, Round 4 -

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2013-04-07 (#) 5 years ago
Ergens tussendoor zag ik ook nog dat het Vrijdagbericht van 29 maart op mijn bladeren in wie er nog meer ligfietsen en amateur radio combineert (engels) had opgepikt. Niet dat het helemaal overgekomen was wat van wie was, maar goed, altijd leuk zo'n vermelding.

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2013-03-24 (#) 6 years ago
Gisteren ben ik voor het eerst naar een beurs geweest gericht op radio-amateurs. De landelijke radio vlooienmarkt van de Bosche Radio Amateur Club. Ik was uitgenodigd door een vriend en ik had besloten dat het gezinsleven er toch wel tegenkon dat ik een deel van de zaterdag ontbrak.

De term 'vlooienmarkt' was ook duidelijk terug te zien in de stands, er was een hoog percentage aan verkopers van losse electronische onderdelen en oude electronica modules die hergebruikt zouden kunnen worden voor projecten. Het aandeel verkopers van nieuwe kant-en-klaar apparatuur was klein. Ook waren er wat standjes waar hobbyisten zelf enthousiast vertelden over hun clubs en hun hobby zoals de VERON, werkgroep kunstmanen en de Surplus radio society. Mensen die enthousiast vertellen over hun hobby en ook op zo'n dag iedereen weer eens zien die ze verder eventueel alleen via de radio spreken.

Ik heb er ook wat dingetjes aangeschaft: een extra accu en een antenne verloopplug voor mijn porto en wat ferriet klemmen om apparaten in huis te ontstoren.

Persoonlijk heb ik sterk de neiging deze beurs te vergelijken met de HCC-dagen. De drukte op de vloer is deels vergelijkbaar, het aanbod heeft overeenkomsten (er waren zeker ook aanbieders van computeronderdelen) en de sfeer heeft overeenkomsten. Het aspect bekenden uit de hobby ontmoeten is duidelijk aanwezig voor veel bezoekers. Ik ben ook mensen tegengekomen die ik langs andere wegen ken die tegenwoordig ook iets doen met amateur radio. In vergelijking met de HCC dagen waren er ook een paar aanbieders van spullen die erg verdwaald leken (bijna letterlijk spiegeltjes en kraaltjes) maar die niet te klagen hadden over aanloop. Ook is er sommige jaren een file bij de A59 en zijn er parkeerproblemen. Ik weet nog wat de HCC-dagen in de stad Utrecht konden aanrichten.

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Other webprojects: Camp Wireless, wireless Internet access at campsites, The Virtual Bookcase, book reviews