2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

RTTY Contesting

One of the top RTTY contests is taking place on January 4-5 (1800 UTC Saturday and ends 2400 UTC Sunday). This is the 2014 ARRL RTTY Roundup.

RTTY is one of my favourite modes. It’s about as efficient as CW so QRP or low power (100 watt) stations can be very effective if conditions cooperate (which has been a big problem this year with some contests experiencing the best conditions in decades and others being a total washout).aa5au_0087

To get on RTTY is very easy these days. Both the top contesting software programs (Writelog and N1MM) offer RTTY engines that work within the program with very little setup.

AA5AU, is Mr. RTTY and you’ll hear him running in this contest. Don has a ton of information on his excellent website and has a terrific “Getting Started on RTTY” tutorial.

If you follow Don’s information you can set up your logging program memories to run the entire contest with the push of a button. RTTY unlike CW is a mode anyone can start running (calling CQ) which can be way more fun than search and pounce after a few hours in the chair.

BTW RTTY with a FlexRadio is amazing with the integration of SDR software, Writelog (using MMTTY) or N1MM (using 2Tone) and two monitor screens.

I intend on being on for this one.

RAC Renewal? Nope!

Bill, VE3MEW, sent us the following comment:
My renewal came up at the first of Nov.   I did not renew.
If I spent the $56.00 I would “save” $10.00 on my yearly
Peteborough Amateur Radio Club dues… somehow, the
math does not sound right here…!!
That is a fair chunk of change for 6 little publications
per year that don’t seem to contain much ‘meat’.
I think I get much more from my $39.00 ARRL membership,
even though I am unable to get LOTW to work…!
Years past, I worked my way from Assistant Ontario
Director for CARF up to a Vice President.. Back then,
we actually worked our butts off to serve the amateur
community all across the country.
Bullying, political power struggles and other such idiotics
were not apparent…  we had no time for such antics.
The current operating/managing style of RAC has sent
several excellent volunteers down the road. The loss affects
us all and I look forward to the day when the people
responsible are gone…. even if that means taking the whole
RAC organization with them… off into the sunset, never to be
seen or heard again.


I Was Encouraged To Renew

Yes it’s true. I’ve renewed although this time for the cheaper E-magazine-only amount. I’m looking forward to getting The Canadian Amateur in full colour on my I-Pad. TCA is one of the best things about RAC and should be better valued and promoted within the Canadian Amateur Radio community.

If it were up to me I’d electronically distribute a stripped down 10-page black and white version of TCA to every Amateur Radio operator in Canada who wanted it. And in those 10 pages, in addition to teasers about what was appearing in the full-colour edition available with a membership to RAC, I’d add several pages of compelling copy about why membership in RAC was so valuable and vital to the growth of Amateur Radio in Canada.

As it is the mean-spirited concept that if you give away the milk nobody will buy the cow as voiced by some in RAC suggests that our executive believes there is no appreciable value in a RAC membership if the magazine isn’t included.

That might be truer today than in past years based on performance but let’s be charitable here and say that the few volunteers who remain in the governing circles can only do so much.

However let’s not forget that there is lots that goes on behind the scene and some of these volunteers are working very hard on your behalf. What RAC does so very poorly is promote this work and that’s a great shame as it leads to a basic misunderstanding of what value there could be in our national association.

The board and executive members would do well to remember that they should not be trying to govern a non-profit membership-driven organization but should serve the members with all their hearts and minds and in doing so they might not be so alone.

I am not the sole believer in this concept.

So why did I renew?

What pushed me over the edge was a comment in our President’s Newsletter which came last week via email.

In his rosy report about romping off to B.C. there was a mention of an email to Geoff by presumably a member asking that the RAC website stop linking to a particular club because that particular club’s website was linked to a blog that made unfortunate remarks about individuals.

I’m not sure which blog the member was referring to but Geoff wisely suggested that RAC cannot police the internet (Although I bet the thought was considered.) and that blogs are almost invariably just one man’s opinion and usually do not represent the formal view of any organization.

Geoff is quite right but his statement about representing the formal view of any organization smacks of orthodoxy to me. I mean do you really think the “president’s report” represents the “formal” opinion of anyone with the exception of the writer?

And since “inaccurate information can be found on the internet and that a blog may contain inaccuracies” does that mean that anything or everything from RAC or in the president’s report is without error or even contrary opinion?

No this is too convenient a statement.

RAC is an organization of several thousand individuals. The president is but one voice and not necessarily the most informed or even the most intelligent although in Geoff’s case I’d be last to suggest either possibility.

The RAC directors, all seven of them, are individuals again blessed with individual talents and challenges. And then we have the dwindling number of members of the national executive.

Some previous members of the RAC national executive were legendary for their prickliness  and inability to work within a group. They asked ways too many questions and didn’t accept answers that didn’t make sense. t bet many even questioned the emotional and mental stability of at least one individual who really p.o. people.

Of course I am describing myself in the above paragraph and any resemblance to current or former members of the national executive is a flight of fancy and misdirected thinking.

Just saying 🙂

But let’s get back to Sparky’s email to the president. It’s true in this blog at least I do talk about individuals like Geoff and the directors and the national executive. That’s part of what to expect when one takes on a leadership role.

An old fire department captain friend of mine was coaching me on leaderships skills back when I was just a boy and he told me something I never forgot and it was this:

The Indians have the right to bitch and the chiefs would be wise to listen.

Politically incorrect these days but the meaning is clear.

If I were on the RAC executive again I’d want to being me and people like me into the tent. Why? Because it’s way too easy to throw rocks when you’re outside the tent and way harder to do so when you’re sitting in circle inside the tent.

When I was the vice-president of public relations for RAC that was job one as far as I was concerned. Whenever I could discover the identity of a critic I did all that I could to contact directly and see if I couldn’t help them express their concerns more directly and forcibly to me.

You see, what Sparky doesn’t get, is that your critics are still engaged with the organization. They still care. Sometimes they care beyond all measure. What you want to avoid at all costs is to cause your members and your potential members to tune you out.

That’s what’s happening to RAC right now.

Members and potential members are voting with the dollars and aren’t renewing because they are indifferent to what happens to RAC.

Members aren’t volunteering for positions as the “Help Wanted” ad has been running in TCA for months now. This is not a good sign.

I do see we have a new treasurer and welcome Dorothy Brown. I don’t see any call sign associated with her name so I hope Dorothy will become a licensed amateur so she too can enjoy the benefits of our wonderful hobby.

Ms Brown does show up at an opportune time. As president Geoff boasts RAC is back in the black and while I may disagree with the methods employed to balance the books, our financial situation was untenable and we should thank Geoff for his hard work here.

Finally I would implore our RAC leaders to fully embrace president Geoff’s comments that “we must strive to grow this great activity by being open to all and supportive.” Those who continue to serve at RAC might also join Geoff and “practice with civility” in their dealings with members and potential members alike. There’s a couple of former execs who I think  should get a call and apology for past sins noted and forgiveness on all sides.

What a Christmas gift to the Canadian Amateur Radio community and to all of the Sparky’s out there who may object to the way to the way we make sausages but find themselves enjoying the result.

That’s why I renewed. I still care.

To Renew Or Not To Renew

And that’s the question.

I’ve got my second notice and if I wanted to make a small point (okay a very small point) I wouldn’t renew my membership in Radio Amateurs of Canada.

Aside from the obvious “what have you done for me recently” question there is my ongoing profound disappointment in the way RAC has been managed.

RAC always seems to find a way to wield a stick when it would be so much easier to offer some honey.

Case in point is the way RAC sold all our addresses to Kamar from Johnson Insurance. Love Kamar and at least in the ads in The Canadian Amateur he’s got a headset on but of course he would. I’ve just started throwing away everything that arrives in the mail from RAC because none of it is of interest to me.

Worse is the way RAC is now penalizing clubs if they don’t submit their RAC insurance forms on time. Who voted this in? And if it wasn’t voted in, who thinks they can arbitrarily demand clubs fork up $100 if they’re late in renewing.

This is typical RAC behaviour and it’s not in the interests of Canadian Amateur Radio operators and especially not in the interest of RAC affiliated clubs.

This is dumb beyond words and makes sending RAC $56 such a challenge.

I am going to do so in hope and anticipation that the current RAC executive group just quits and goes away and then some of us (and it wouldn’t likely be me) can step in and create an Amateur Radio friendly organization again.

Unfortunately the old boy’s club voted themselves back into office for another two-year term ending Dec. 2015 so…it is with regret that I inform you that the cheque is in the mail.