Archive for the ‘arrl’ Category

Bumfuzzled

bumfuzzle[ buhm-fuhz-uh l ]
verb (used with object), bum·fuz·zled, bum·fuz·zling. Chiefly South Midland and Southern U.S.
– to confuse or fluster.

Origin of Bumfuzzle

1900–05; bum- (expressive prefix, perhaps to be identified with the initial syllable of bamboozle) + fuzzle to confuse (perhaps expressive alteration of fuddle)

This is how I would characterize my reaction to this item appearing on the ARRL website on January 19, 2020. Just confused and flustered:



My own belief was that CEO Howard Michel WB2ITX was doing a necessary and deliberate job in changing the operational focus of the League’s office and services. The main goal as he stated publicly was to increase the value of League membership. He was a very successful CEO of the much, much larger and more complex association, IEEE.

As a Presenter on the ICQ Podcast, I’ve had the opportunity to regularly interview Howard after each Board meeting of the ARRL so as to get our listeners updated on Board actions that had occurred and were being rolled out. I put him on the spot each time, asking what he had done to increase the value of membership. He always responded with an articulate set of accomplishments and plans. As a Life Member of the League, I thought he was doing a great job, especially walking into an opening where his predecessor was ousted after only a couple of years, amidst much rancor and consternation by members and non-members alike. So I’m bumfuzzled.

League officials, including the just re-elected President, have stated that it’s a personnel matter so there is no public comment. Others engage in conjecture, based upon the nefarious “I heard…” source of information that always occurs in the absence of factual source-based statements. I’ve heard a lot, too. And from a wide range of sources. But not much that is public.

The recent emergence of a “backlash group,” coming on the heels of the previous CEO hiring, censure of a Board member, and the attempted change of officers getting a vote on matters in addition to the long-standing votes of Board members, has pressed for greater openness in League business. This group stated that transparency in League actions is paramount. The myARRLvoice group states the following on it’s web-page:

This group had a couple of supporters get elected to the Board in a recent election. We will see how these two Directors, especially, act to publicly announce how they voted regarding election of the CEO Howard Michel WB2ITX. It’s on the “I heard…” rumor mill that the vote was 9-6 to not re-elect Michel. How did each Board member vote? I asked my Director, David Norris K5UZ, how he voted. Note: I serve as one of his appointed Assistant Directors. He told me that he voted to retain Howard and thought he was doing a fine job. So that is one vote now made public.

How did your Division Director vote? If you don’t know, ask them! And why? Did they take your views into account in the run-up to this Board meeting? They are your voice on the ARRL Board, if you’re a member of the League.

Is the ARRL Listening About Shipping? Or is it just me…

A few months ago, I challenged the ARRL’s new mission to serve members in a more effective way by bringing “value” to members. I suggested that one quick “win” would be to stop selling through Amazon (at a 55% discount) and use that money-per-book to fund “free shipping” for members who purchase books. Many readers just didn’t read beyond the title of “free shipping” before raining down the it-will-just-be-passed-along-to-members rhetoric. This does not understand that the League would make a greater profit margin by selling at the 100% retail price (even with whatever discount the member may receive by being a Certified Instructor, etc.), charging no shipping, and still recouping a higher profit than the automatic 55% “loss” through the standard wholesale discount.

In one of my interviews with Howard Michel ARRL CEO on the ICQ Podcast, he said he ran the numbers and that it wouldn’t work out. I did not directly challenge him on that issue since it’s clearly his call. My thought was that it was a pure and simple strategy to demonstrate his new vision of “increasing value.” But enough with my recommendations, already!

ARRL Cyber Monday FREE SHIPPING on $50+ Coupon

However, perhaps it’s just me, but has the ARRL increased their free or discounted shipping stance in marketing publications? Like other League members, I’m sure, I received the above coupon code for Cyber Monday (after Thanksgiving). It’s FREE SHIPPING on $50 or more. That’s an incentive, especially with the new Handbook out and discounted temporarily at $40. So, I thought I’d grab another discounted book to reach $50 or more and get a FREE SHIPPING discount. On my daily driver desktop, I run Linux Mint on a Dell T-5500 8-core CPU with 72GB of RAM and a gigbit Internet service via ethernet to my commercial class switch. I rarely ever have buffering of websites from my end. Ever. But, boy, did I on this Cyber Monday order at ARRL.org! It took several HOURS for me to get the order through to checkout. I tried several different machines, in addition, just to ensure it wasn’t on my end. It wasn’t as I did a network speed operation test on getting packets to and from the ARRL.org server. It was on that end…because, no doubt, there was a boatload of customers ordering. So that’s the point of marketing offers, no? And I’m very happy to see evidence of it drawing a crowd at the virtual checkout page at the League’s website.

And, here are several more adverts e-mailed to members, all with $5 discounted shipping. So, has the ARRL been rolling out a version of this “free shipping” strategy? Well, only some offers reflect actually free shipping but a cap at $5 shipping is also a winning offer, too. I’m delighted at this marketing move by ARRL Product Development Manager Bob Inderbitzen, NQ1R. Keep it up, Bob! This increases value to members who receive the code coupons.

HR2.0 – ARRL West Gulf Division Candidate Interviews 9/28/2019

I had the privilege of recording an interview meeting between the two candidates running for ARRL West Gulf Division Director, in Houston this past weekend.  We were able to livestream the event on Facebook, but the YouTube livestreaming ports were blocked at the meeting location.  However, I did also record the meeting to disk and was able to clean-up the audio a bit, and now the raw video footage has been posted to my YouTube channel.

For those in Texas and Oklahoma who are interested in your ARRL Leadership, please see the video below.  The session is 2-hours long, but some good questions were asked and answered, and I think both candidates gave a good idea of their vision for leadership inside of the League for the West Gulf Division.

Here are the website links for the candidates also:

N5AUS’ Election Page: https://votewestgulf.org
W5MJ’s Election Page: https://www.qrz.com/db/w5mj

 

Ready, SET, Go! No, It’s a Drill…

Today started early, about 5:30am or so, getting email, RSS feeds, and social media perused, worked or avoided so I could communicate on behalf of the Mississippi Section ARES Simulated Emergency Exercise (S.E.T.) from 9am-9pm. I won’t work the entire 12 hours but I did assist our RACES Director, Mike N5DU operate the MS Emergency Management Agency’s EOC Radio Room. A few other hams, like Todd K5TDD, Bob KG5ZDZ, and Jim K0UPW (newly relocated from State of Washington) also came by to assist.

Mike N5DU has a RACES Team that he is growing, putting together continual training for those who can be deployed to other emergency zones around the country and those who will remain local (like me) to operate either at the MEMA Command Center or sheltered in-place at their QTH. It’s always a growth process as volunteer hams come and go, tire of EmComm, or leave our midst due to health reasons. But it takes organized, thoughtful, and diligent leaders like N5DU to keep the ball rolling.

K4FMH (left) assisting Mike N5DU at Communications Center, MEMA

MEMA has grown in it’s technical capability since the 2005 Hurricane Katrina. Our team working the SET today got a tour of the Command Center when integral state agencies, non-government organizations, and selected others have designated “seats” in front of PCs on the floor of the Command Center. The facility meets federal security standards specified by FEMA, Homeland Security, and other relevant regulations.

Our THIS IS A DRILL scenario today was at sudden, significant seismic activity at the New Madrid Fault in Northeast Arkansas. It is pronounced New Maaa-drid, unlike the city in Spain, commonly pronounced Ma-DRID. I texted our Section’s Emergency Coordinator, Robert KC5IMN, the correct pronunciation to relieve him of future abuse at the hands of Emergency Coordinator’s near Memphis!

New Madrid Fault Zone
Source: https://www.americangeosciences.org/geoscience-currents/earthquake-hazards-near-new-madrid-fault-zone

We had a good response and participation during the first four hours with one-hour shifts for net control operators around the state. Steve K5OMK in Starkville did a great job as did the ARES Team in Starkville. They had a lost person beacon chase (successful) in addition to the earthquake activity. I guess that was simulated preparation for the start of Southeastern Conference Football weekends in StarkVegas. Operators in Houston, Vicksburg, and elsewhere worked until we closed the MEMA EOC operation about 12:30pm. They are still at work as I write this blog post. As Assistant Delta Division Director, I’m proud of the work that Malcolm W5XX, Bob KC5IMN, and Mike N5DU have engaged in this annual activity.

The MS Section finished # 1 in ARES Section rankings for the SET in 2018. Whether that ranking continues this year matters not, if we all get more effective, efficient, and engaged in bringing our amateur radio communications game to a higher level. You keep score to motivate teams to get better, not to just win rankings, when lives are on the line. Thank God, it’s just a drill today.

Here’s a gallery of pictures from the MEMA Command Center, Levels of Activation, how this agency is organized into regions, and the radio network operating in the State, called MSWin. A staffer at MEMA today kindly gave us a brief tour.

Bummer: Work Howard Event Canceled

A solid 1960’s saying for disappointing but not tragic events was … bummer! That’s fitting for this announcement from the ARRL with the ICQ Podcast’s endorsement. We’d certainly not want an event, no matter how exciting, to get the W1AW station license in dutch with Part 97. After all, the League should lead by setting examples of following the rules.

Bummer!

“Put Howard to Work” Event Canceled
05/03/2019
Earlier this week, ARRL announced that ARRL CEO Howard Michel, WB2ITX, would be on the air at W1AW on Monday, May 13, giving ARRL members a chance to chat with the CEO and get to know him better as a ham. An issue was raised, however, that this event may pose a potential FCC rule violation.

The particular rule is §97.113: “A station is also not allowed to transmit communication in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including communications on behalf of an employer.”

Given that ARRL is Michel’s employer and that an effort was made to publicize an event at which members of the organization could chat with the CEO, such an event could be perceived as a benefit to the organization. So, out of an abundance of caution and to avoid any potential violation of FCC rules, or even the appearance of a violation, Michel has decided to cancel plans for the “Put Howard to Work” event.

“I’ve operated W1AW before and will continue to do so in the future,” Michel said. “I hope to meet many of you on the air, but only as part of my regular ham radio activities and not as part of an ARRL-promoted event.”

The “Put Howard to Work!” event was conceived by the ICQ Amateur/Ham Radio Podcast, on which Michel was a guest on March 31. “We are disappointed, of course, at this turn of events but fully understand and endorse ARRL’s decision,” said ICQ Podcast Presenter Frank Howell K4FMH.

Put That ARRL CEO to Work, Would Ya?

In a recent episode of the ICQ Podcast, I had Howard Michel WB2ITX as my interview guest. He’s the CEO of the American Radio Relay League as of late last year. It was important that Howard get interviewed about League matters as he was hired after a brief misfire to replace the legendary CEO David Sumner K1ZZ. As I told ARRL President Rick Roderick in the Q&A session with him a year or so ago at the Mississippi Section Convention in Jackson, MS, “You guys made a mistake in hiring someone from Wall Street to be CEO of a membership non-profit organization. Don’t make one again.” My Division Director, David Norris K5UZ, was seated in the row in front of me, nodded his head and turned to give me a knowing look. From my interview with Howard Michel, and from what else I’ve seen coming from him, they did not make a mistake.

One of the strategic matters that this new CEO faces is the common perception that Chief Executives are walled-off from the organization’s customers or just come out of their catacombs to glad-hand, smile, and ask for something.

Indeed, if you listen to my interview with him here, I think you’ll find that he has a clear but not tight-fisted vision for making the Headquarters more customer service oriented, inclusive, and modern in it’s business operations. This should yield better service experiences for members. Perhaps equally important, it may attract new members to the League as the 150,000 or so current members pale by comparison to the 750,000 licensed hams in the U.S.

One of the strategic matters that this new CEO faces is the common perception that Chief Executives are walled-off from the organization’s customers or just come out of their catacombs to glad-hand, smile, and ask for something. As error prone as this perception is, there is enough of an everyday reality that validates it to the rank-and-file customer base to make it the default mental setting, so to speak. In addition, there’s the “We’re the ARRL. And You’re Not!” barrier (apologies to the comedian Chevy Chase of Saturday Night Live fame).

As I was listening to Howard respond to my questions, I was pondering these matters. It hit me that it might be informative for all involved if there were opportunities to interact with Howard as just another ham operator so as to “see” him that way as opposed to a mostly a face with a monthly column in QST or on the pages of the ARRL’s website. An idea was formulated on the spot: get him on the air in a mini-event so as to work Howard on the air at W1AW!

Howard WB2ITX at W1AW
(original photo courtesy of ARRL. Graphic rendering by Frank K4FMH

So I sprang this on him without any real sense of how he would respond by asking a one of my final questions: How’d you like to make some news? I proposed that we set up a date and time to appear on W1AW’s station on 20 meters and let the ICQ Podcast team promote it as a joint mini-event where hams could “put the CEO to work” by working WB2ITX on the air. He immediately caught the humorous pun in this and agreed enthusiastically.

Please put May 13, 2019 at 2:00pm Eastern Time on your calendars. Tune your antennas, rigs, and amplifiers (if you have them) to 14.254+/- and put that CEO to work! Howard promises a special QSL card from the League HQ for worked contacts.

About That (Expletive) ARRL Proposal to Give Technicians The Whole World

It is my observation that by enabling someone a taste of what can be accomplished on HF (shortwave) spectrum, especially using one of the newer digital modes, that someone has an opportunity for inspiration, perhaps enough to catch the HF fever that is required to move that someone from entry-level to experienced, skilled expert. Right now, the regulations limit the Technician-level license holder to digital operation only on bands that barely propagate (if at all!) during the weak solar cycles. It is a far stretch to postulate that having privileges on dead bands will inspire exploration and tempt the operator to upgrade to a higher license class.

I believe that Technician-class priveledges should be expanded so that entry-level amateur radio operators can get a practical taste of effectively-propagating HF signals on lower frequencies than those frequencies currently available to them for digital operation. And, the allowed mode on these subbands should include digital modes. This “would encourage a sustained interest in Amateur Radio and encourage further development of knowledge and operating skills,” a concept already proven by General-class operators that get enough of a taste that they then pursue the Amateur Extra license.

Comments to me are below the following video section. I also include my response.

In the following video, I share my opinion regarding the ARRL asking the FCC to grant more operating privileges across the many amateur radio allocations on shortwave (HF, or, High Frequencies). The video is my brief takeaway of ARRL’s petition: What is the issue, as a whole, and what the ARRL is addressing–the lack of desire by most current Techs to upgrade. The logic of my perspective concludes that if you give them a taste of lower-shortwave propagation and excitement, then they will want to upgrade. This logic is already proven as applicable by the fact that the General class exists. All this proposal will do is allow the tech to experience what could be very attractive. Just like for the General.

The next two videos are addendums to the first video:

I made a few technical mistakes in the first video. The last video contains corrections and further comments.

Comments Received, and My Response

I have received many responses–some in opposition, some in support. Here are example contrarian responses along with my reply:

[Dear] Tomas David Hood[:] Something for absolutely nothing has never taught anyone anything good, but to want another free lunch. 35 multiple guess easy questions was all that was asked to get general class privileges, but that’s just too hard for the current class. Something for nothing is what sell today, and the ARRL, and probably half the country thinks socialism is the way to reach the new hams I guess. But the ARRL will never get another dime from me. You want a trophy or additional privileges, Get them as everyone else did,, Work for them, study, just a little is all that was asked. Remember, If it didn’t cost anything, it probably isn’t worth anything!

If they are not willing to take a simple test, and yet they want to upgrade, then yes they are the same as saying that we are asking too much, but would participate, you are suggesting, as long as it didn’t require any work or effort on their part, Its a shame.. And I am embarrassed on their behalf… Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could pass that test, but she would probably agree with you, that people are asking them to be smart and study, and that’s somehow probably racist and just over the line for you.

At this point the ARRL should just say, we are not protecting the spectrum, but about selling the ham radio spectrum to the highest bidders. In this case, they be;live that will be the techs who will purchase HF gear, and of course, the ARRL will benefit hugely from the equipment makers desire to market to the group.

My response is:

What the heck is wrong with selling radios?

But, seriously, which of the many Technicians say that they want to upgrade? That’s the point: the majority of Technician-class amateur radio operators are not upgrading. They get on VHF and above, and are stationary, with few realizing that there’s so much more than the aspect of the hobby evident in their local community.

With little to no exposure to other aspects of the hobby, the typical ham in the current ham-radio culture settles for what is presented by local mentors. Weather spotting, DMR, etc.

Because they have current HF privileges that have so little practical use (CW only on lower frequencies; voice on 10 meters which doesn’t propagate well during this period of no sunspot activity…), they see no incentive to delve into what appears like a waste of time.

The proposal is not giving away the farm. It simply adds a small slice on a limited set of HF bands (but where a signal has a better chance of propagation), allowing for Technician-class operators to get a real sense of the potential waiting for them if they pursue the General.

Then, once upgraded to General, they get even more exposure, and hopefully, see why it is great to be an Amateur Extra.

Tomas David Hood what’s wrong with selling radios. Nothing at all, but if I removed the test that drivers take to show they understand the rules and how to drive, then I can sell more cars and more insurance to poor drivers. Do you or anyone else think that’s a good idea. A few tech’s putting their hands on the plate of those high voltage amps, and maybe, just maybe, someone will believe me when I say some basic testing should be required for HF privileges. Now, all they will have is a cereal box license in my book, and in the opinion of many of my friends, so it;s not just me. If I am wrong, then there are a lot of people that are wrong like me, and they will fight for there hobby. I am a ARRL VE, but I will never test another Ham if this goes through, and I will spend the rest of my days making sure any newcomers realize what the ARRL did to what once was a good hobby, and how a few people didn’t seem to understand why giving away free privileges is always bad for our society, and always bad for our hobby.

Actually I have a real case study that is local,, and yes the guy doid put his hand on the plate, and yes he hit the floor.. and yes, after I found out he was ok,, I think it’s plenty funny,, Yes, they need to study more than that.

Me:

Your argument that Technician-class operators will kill themselves because the test is so easy that they will end up electrocuting themselves is yet another Red Herring. Technicians play with dangerous VHF, UHF, SHF equipment, with ominous dangerous aspects deserving respect. If you really think that the General test is the difference between life and death, why even worry? The number of technicians will be nicely reduced to a more acceptable, comfortable number.

I’ve seen Amateur Extra-class operators do the same sort of dangerous, life-threatening stunts.

The issue you are highlighting is a different problem that must be solved separately from the idea of creating a more practical incentive; all tests should be improved in such a way as to foster greater technical knowledge and awareness of all aspects of the hobby.

Better mentoring. Less us-vs-them. More education. More community. All of these should be explored and enhanced. Solve the problem, instead of ostracizing. And, realize that this proposed change is NOT a dumbing-down maneuver to give away the ham radio hobby to the unclean.


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