It was a week in which I tried to get some loose ends fixed. I finished the SLA battery charger after I got the 1R8 resistors from my favourite supplier, did the family finances and tried to get the home-directory on my laptop cleared of some junk. In the process I upgraded my logging software, which is CQRlog. It was a major upgrade since the author switched to another back-end database, so it messed up my log quite a bit. I sorted that out and now everything is back in order again.
In the process I noticed that there was an option to look up data on hamQTH.com. Having never heard of this site I checked it out and found it to be a light-weight version of QRZ.com, or as they claim on the web site: Free Hamradio Callbook. It was set up by the authors of CQRlog, Petr (OK2CQR) and Martin (OK1RR). The reason, according to their web site:
Since the owner of one popular server decided to hide all addresses until you are not registered, I decide to write my own. This callbook provides all information for free because you entered data to callbook for free and didn’t get paid for it. So it won’t be right to ask for a payment if you want to publish your data.
Petr’s English is a little crooked, but he means: “At QRZ.com you have to register (and pay) to get access to data that you and others gave for free. With us your info remains free.” You might recall that QRZ.com restricted the xml access to their database last June, shutting out some logging software from auto-filling in some data fields. They also limited
look-ups by registered and non-registered users and hide address details to non-registered users on their web page.
I usually steer clear of web sites that are set up because of frustration about another web site. But this one got me thinking and there is an analogy that came to mind. About 18 years ago a couple of guys set up a CD database, with users contributed content, called CDDB. It grew phenomenally and a company was formed to manage it, which was sold off and made the owners rich men. The new owners then said the info in the database would stay freely accessible, but in
the end the database (with data which users gave for free) was closed for most software packages which accessed it. And if you ever ripped a CD you know how annoying it is to not have access to a database with song titles. Luckily the database had already been cloned and freedb had been set up to replace CDDB.
Now I am not a lazy person and I have always typed in my logs by hand. But with hamQTH.com I now have an auto-fill function available for CQRlog, something I have to pay US$29.95 for with QRZ.com. You could argue that there is no such thing as a free lunch and that QRZ.com has grown to be the default standard. I agree that bills have to be paid and money has to be made. But I also come from a free world and believe in creating and sharing your work for every one’s benefit. As a result I have been using and contributing to the GNU/Linux operating system for over a decade already. My contribution may not have been big, but it doesn’t have to be so: many small contributions do make a huge difference. A contribution of US$29.95 a year is kind of steep in my world. So I give hamQTH.com a thumbs up and have updated my profile with the latest info. If only I had discovered them last weekend when the All Asian contest was going on. Would have saved me a lot of typing.
This weekend is Mid-Autumn Festival in the Chinese world. Look out for some extra activity from East Asia and don’t choke on your moon cakes.
73 de Hans (BX2ABT)