|And so it begins |
At the end of 2020, I decided it was time to update my PC as it has never been done for over 10 years. The choice I had was to purchase a new PC or rebuild what I have, I decided to rebuild the existing PC I have. I choose this as it gives me what I want, I do the upgrades, order the parts that I want and I can leave room for further upgrades in the future. The items I kept were my ATX tower, 750-watt power supply (as it was very new) GeForce GT 740 video card,1TB Western Digital Black and a 1TB Seagate hard drive for backup purposes.
|One new 2 old hard drives|
The replacement parts were the following:
MSI MPG Z490 This is a very nice motherboard with room for expansion.
The new PC build works great and I finally made the jump to Win10 as my OS. The SSD hard drive is a very nice change and the speed is great. My not so old Western Digital 1 TB hard drive now holds my SSD image files and my Seagate 1 TB drive hold my SSD hard drive clones. By the way, the backup software that I use is Macruim Reflect. It is easy to use and has worked for me without any issues and while using Windows 7 I had to use it twice. If you are a home user the software is free to download and use.
|RAM and CPU fan installed|
While I was doing the build I did had a comment on my blog where a reader made me aware of a site called Ask woody. This site is a great resource for PC users and to have full access a donation is asked for. I made my donation and got full access as it's a great place to learn and get feedback. Did I have any issues with the build......yes I did. For starters the Cool Master CPU fan instructions were TERRIBLE and thank goodness I found a YouTube video on how to install the fan on my i5 chip. EVEN with a video I messed up a bit and installed the fan on the CPU facing the wrong direction and I only knew this once I tried to install the RAM and it did not fit. The fan and assembly had to be rotated 180 degrees and then all was good for the RAM installation. When I initialized and formatted the SSD hard drive I'm not sure what I did but it had to be done again as when the OS was in the process of the install I was getting error messages about the SSD hard drive.
Next, it was time to install all radio programs and the software that runs alongside them. I am happy to say that all software installed without issue and I am up and running and very happy with the upgrade.
Once again I am looking back over the year and as most of you will agree it sure has been a year of changes! I'm not going to get into any politics or pandemic stuff but I will say that COVID has really affected the ham radio world. The Amateur radio community has in my humble opinion reacted to the pandemic in a very positive way. Club meetings are now online, clubs have a system of checking in on their club members throughout the week, worldwide there have been many "stayathome" call signs, we even had a virtual hamfest, radio dealers have in some areas gone to curbside pickup or bolstered their online presence. This list could go on and on but kudos to the radio community for stepping up and making a difference during this very strange time.
Closer to home what does VE9KK's year in review look like? Let's start with the 2020 goals I set out 3 main goals for myself:
- Register for CWop's academy code course.
- Get involved with the local radio club.
-Contacting some DXpeditions.
So how did I do.....I did register for the CWops academy and was set up for the fall class. I received an email with the expectations of the students. They suggest that an hour per day is needed along with the online scheduled meetings. As the start time drew closer the home dynamics changed as my wife was now working from home in our home office/hobby room. I also was busier with the home reno's than I thought I would be. It would be tough to practice in the home office and with the Renos, time was very limited. I decided early to give up my spot so another person with the time commitment could use that slot. These courses are very popular and fill up fast and I did not want to put forth only a half effort. Because of this, I wanted to spend more of my free time using CW.
The club involvement was derailed by COVID as the clubs up this way stopped all meetings and really did not get well into the pandemic.
Contacting DXpeditions again COVID for the most part derailed that goal.
The below picture is from club log and shows my 2020 operations by mode. It would seem my goal of getting more involved in CW was a success. In 2014 my CW op's was 5.44% and in 2020 it jumped to 55.98. I am not sure where the SSB stat comes from as I was never on SSB.
Last year in my blog I asked this same question, but it was before the Expo had started. I received a mixed bag of responses but now that one Expo has completed some of my readers may have a better idea about the Expo and if they will attend this year?
In my humble opinion, over this past year are a few new givens......COVID is still with us and a new type of stain noticed, video conferencing for personal and business has become the norm, working from home is no longer a novelty, most if not all ham radio clubs have cancelled monthly in-person meetings. On a positive note, clubs have stepped up and offered 2 meter weekly net meetings, club meetings via the many video conferencing programs, contesting has been tweaked to allow for events such as field day to be a success, there is a vaccine to bring hope for 2021 and finally on March 13-14 the 2nd QSO Today Virtual Ham Expo begins.
I did attend the online Expo last year but in a very part-time effort. At times, I found it frustrating to find my way around (which I did mention in my online survey to the hosts) navigating to sections of the Expo. I found some seminars a bit "fluffy" in content and some were just an advert. Last year it was free this year it's 10.00 early bird or 12.50 at the door.....virtual door that is. I will say that if I am going to drop 10.00 I will make more of an effort to attend the site more often over the 2 days. I have not as yet decided if I am going to drop the 10.00 but will take some time to look over the changes that are in effect for the 2nd annual show.
My questions to the blog readers are:
-Did you attend last year's QSO Today Virtual Expo?
-If you did what is some of your input regarding the show?
-If you did not attend why not?
- Who is going to attend this year either for the first time as an alumnus and why?
COVID 19 has been with us for some time now and I imagine for some time to come as well. The holiday season is a huge time for retail stores and COVID 19 has added a strange twist for them. They have customers who have no issues getting out and shopping but at the same time, there are those that stay home and choose online shopping. Has the retail world kept up with these changing times? I have done some online shopping over the past months and had far too many "Are you kidding me" moments and these are a few of them.
I ordered some computer equipment recently and not to mention the name but fill in the blanks and you can figure it out........Bacon and _ _ _ _ Anyway I ordered some very pricey items that were in stock, indicated when shipping would happen and free shipping. The order was placed and right away I was sent a tracking number indicating the shipping label was made. Well 8 days later the status was still shipping label was made. It was way past the indicated online arrival day and low and behold on the site that date was nowhere to be found. I then noticed shipping was 49.00 not free. I have to give the company credit that they do have online chat assistance. I use the word "assistance" very loosely as when I contacted them and wanted my money back I was told because a shipping label had been made this was not possible.....how convenient I thought. They sure did take my money very fast and a second later informed me a shipping label was made up to stop any refund. Now I have to wait 5 days until they decide what is going to happen. I do know the items are still at their warehouse with just a shipping label on them.
I had ordered some shower products for a very good friend of mine. I wanted to ship it to them directly and the site indicated I was able to do so. I was never offered in the order process an alternate shipping location other than the address that was on my credit card. I called them and the computer recording told me to go back to the online site to the FAQ and all my questions can be answered there. Not so I ended up shipping the package to myself and then sending it to my friend on the other side of the country. Adding insult to injury this person lived in the same city where I ordered the product from and shipping was next to nothing but I could not do it.....oh but the site said I could.
Now there is an Amateur radio company......well 2 of them that I will for sure mention their names DX Engineering and Radio World in Toronto. Both of these companies I recently ordered items from and they were outstanding! Excellent communications, shipping on time with over the top packaging for a safe shipment. These two companies know how to handle this new exploding online shopping industry. Well, other companies I have dealt with get a failing grade.
I sent a very new SDR radio down to the U.S for repairs a very straightforward process I thought and it went off without a hitch until it DIDN'T arrive at my home. What arrived was a card from the post office saying I had to pay duty and taxes before it would be released! A long story short the SDR company filled in the paperwork indicating it was brand new radio and the full cost of the radio was included in the documentation. The cost was well over 500.00. I paid the amount thinking it would be a simple phone call for a refund.....nope! I got the runaround, excuses and no replies to emails I eventually gave up.
These are just a few of my online dealings and sadly most have been negative and that's sad as this is a new and exploding frontier. Companies are not reaching to be over the top with most if not all aspects of online dealings. I have had my fair share of unanswered emails, very annoying chatbot sessions and finally live chat that has no idea what to say other than their scripted lines.