Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chuck DeVore for U.S. Senate

I first saw Chuck at the Tea Party event I went to some months ago. He's quite the straight-shooter, and I endorse him heartily.

If you're here in SoCal, I strongly encourage you to go to his website, and read his stance on the issues.

He's sure got MY vote!

Thank you!

And let’s make 2010 even better by retiring Barbara Boxer!

Well, you did it. We raised more than $60,000 online this month, our best online fundraising month ever. Over 20,000 people have contributed to our effort to unseat Barbara Boxer with an average contribution size of just over $50.

This is an uncommon effort. Typically, campaigns for federal office are driven by the big donors and special interests. Not so with our campaign. I thank you for your support and for your interest in our race.

The next five months will be formative, as we first seek to secure the Republican nomination on June 8th, then move forward to beat Boxer with our message of liberty, Constitutional governance, jobs, water, and domestic energy. I’ve appeared at 220 events in the past year, driven 21,700 miles, flown 30,100 miles, and met with over 36,000 concerned citizens. I’ve worked hard because I know what is at stake.

I know a lot of our supporters are in a bind financially because they have lost jobs. If a donation is beyond your means right now, please consider referring at least one of your friends to our campaign. Fill in at least one name and email address for us so we can keep in touch with one more potential voter and donor.

Again, thank you for your support. It means much to me and to my family.

All the best for a Happy New Year

Congessional Reform Act of 2010

Shamelessly swiped from my buddy Old NFO:

Congressional Reform Act of 2010

1. Term Limits: 12 years only, one of the possible options below.

A. Two Six-year Senate terms
B. Six Two-year House terms
C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

2. No Tenure / No Pension:
A congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

3. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security:
All funds in the Congressional retirement fund moves to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, Congress participates with the American people.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, server your term(s), then go home and back to work.

4. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan just as all Americans..

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

5. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

6. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career.. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

7. Congress must equally abide in all laws they impose on the American people..

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

8. All contracts with past and present congressmen are void effective 1/1/11.

The American people did not make this contract with congressmen, congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, serve your term(s), then go home and back to work.

While I think something like this has a snowball's chance as long as we have the foxes guarding the hen house, it sure would be nice to yank these idiot's chain with!

Happy New Year!

Ok, so I'm early again....
Let's just hope 2010 will be better than 2009, and that the economy picks up, most of the idiotic gun laws get repealed, and WE THE PEOPLE can get some elected "Representatives" into Congress that actually do what their job title implies.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A "Love" Tax?

Hey, I needed a catchy headline......
The GF/Fiance and I went to get our marriage license today. It was actually a not-too-bad experience, a rarity when dealing with The Gubmint, as we were able to fill out all the required information online, hit the "Submit" button, and it was in the system when we got to the courthouse. We wound up getting stuck behind a couple of couples who were clueless about how this procedure works, and they had to get back in line after they went and figured out a few things, or they had to go back out to their car to get their ID ( ! ). Our time at the counter was only about 15 minutes, but it was SEVENTY BUCKS to get our license. The GF wanted to go before the first of the year, as it's going up to ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS for a Marriage License.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Now I know Los Angeles County, and the entire People's Republik of Kalifornia, are in a major budget shortfall due to the idiots up in Sacramento, but geez...raising the fee for a Marriage License to a hundred bucks?
Oh, well...we've got the license, and All Systems Are GO for the wedding as planned.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Well, it's 18:36 UTC here, so I'm a few hours early, but just wanted to wish all my friends in the blogosphere a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!
My fiance was telling me yesterday that they're not allowed to say "Merry Christmas" at the school she works at.
She says it anyway!
Guess I've taught her not to be PC in the three years we've known each other, and that little "PC" things like this are just another sign of the erosion of the principles Our Country was founded on. Free Speech is now only for those who The Elite have sprinkled their magic-fairy-unicorn-dust upon, and it may only be used to push their rotten communist socialst agenda forward. Anything else gets labeled "Hate Speech", especially saying things like "Merry Christmas", which might offend someone of a different faith.
Tough shit!
And if you're offended, go stuff your head in a barrel of dung.......

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fun With My FlexRadio

One of the nice things about having my HF vertical back in operation is that I've *finally* been able to devote some time to getting my FlexRadio Systems Flex-5000A properly set up, and back on-the-air. I hadn't used it in so long that I wound up uninstalling everything on the Windows PC I built to use it, and installing all the latest and greatest stuff from Flex.
I had to upgrade the FireWire driver, and upgrade the firmware in the radio. Never though I'd have to "flash the firmware" in a radio like you upgrade the BIOS in a PC, but then radio has come a long way since I started tinkering in the basement back in the early '60's! While I was at it, I installed the latest version of PowerSDR, which is the software that controls the radio.
The first screenshot was taken earlier today, and shows the operating "console" for my Flex-5000A. All the tuning and volume adjustments are handled by using the mouse, keyboard, or both. The radio has no knobs, although you can use a Griffin "PowerMate" multimedia controller, or a Contour ShuttlePRO to implement the various functions. I have a ShuttlePRO that I use on my audio/video editing PC, so I can just plug it into a USB port on the FlexRadio PC if I "Feel the Need" to turn knobs.
I was listening to 20 Meter (14 MHz) Single Sideband, and the top window in the display shows the frequency I'm tuned to in a Spectrum Analyzer type display, while the window under that shows a "Waterfall" display. The horizontal 'smearing' of the received signals in the waterfall display were caused by my tuning the radio as the waterfall was recording the signals.
The second screenshot was taken later while I was listening to one of the digital transmission modes on 20 Meters, using a program called "MixW2" to decode the signals. MixW is kind of a Swiss Army knife for Hams running digital, as it will decode all of the current modes, display them in a nice window, and log them for you.
My Flex-5000A is a "Software Defined Radio", which basically means the radio just acts as a "Front End" for the RF conversion, and ALL the processing, frequency control, modulation and demodulation is done in software, rather than by hardware in the radio. Since ALL the processing is done in software, the implementation of "Brick Wall" filters is easily done, making adjacent channel interference (a.k.a. "Bleed Over") a thing of the past. While I dearly love my Kenwood TS-950SDX, the last of Kenwood's Big Rigs, and one of the best 'conventional' radios ever made, it can barely hold a candle to the interference-fighting features in my Flex-5000A. Even with the INRAD Roofing Filter kit, and a full complement of INRAD crystal filters in the first and second I.F. stages of my TS-950SDX, there are still times when really strong, close-in signals cause some "discomfort" in the receiver. While I can clean up most of it by using the Slope Tune function in the Kenwood's DSP, and backing down the RF gain some, this can have some other subtle effects if you're trying to copy a really weak signal next to a strong one. With the Flex, I just select either one of the pre-programmed narrower bandwidths, or use the custom function sliders to "make" my own filter, and POOF!, the interference just disappears.
The concept of a Software Defined Radio has been around since the early 1970's, and like a lot of High Tech concepts, was first used by the Military who needed radios that could cover wide frequency ranges, different operating modes, and be easily upgraded. They didn't get popular with experimenters and Amateur Radio operators until the price of high-speed analog-to-digital converters came down. The first radios used a high-end computer sound card to handle the digitization of the I.F. signals and then handled the demodulation/modulation in software. They worked quite well, but were limited by the constraints of the sound card used. The simple built-in sound cards on most PC's don't have the sampling rate and bit-depth required to make a high-performance SDR, and not too many people wanted to buy a $200 sound card to dedicate to "just" their radio.
There are also other SDR's available if you don't want to spend the $$ for a Flex, or if you just want to listen. One of the original, and still one of the best' is the "SoftRock-40" radio, a very simple board-level kit that plugs into a USB port on your PC, and can use either your built-in sound card, or a better one, and runs the (FREE!) PowerSDR software. They're out of the original kits, but Version 5 of the kit should be available soon.
Radio sure has come a long way since I got interested in it!


Went to see the new James Cameron movie "Avatar" last night.
WOW....I'm stunned! Besides having a decent story and good acting, the special effects and CGI were nothing short of amazing. We saw the movie at an IMAX theater in 3D. Now IMAX movies are always enjoyable for me, and the few I've seen in 3D were OK, but "Avatar" was *almost* the best combination od the two technologies I've seen. In some of the scenes the 3D effect was a bit overpowering, but in others it seemed very natural, not typical of the 3D movies I've seen.
The theater we saw the movie in was an IMAX Digital theater, and they don't have the "Seven Story High" screen like the IMAX theater at the Los Angeles California Science Center.
If you haven't seen it, you should go. It's really a visual feast.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Weather Station Back Online!

I spent the day before yesterday getting my Davis Vantage Pro2 ISS (Integrated Sensor Suite) installed on the mast my VHF/UHF vertical antenna is on (the mast is plumb; I was leaning around the corner when I took the picture, and I didn't aim the camera squarely!), and running the cable into the house. After I straightened out a wiring SNAFU (Davis uses a straight-through cable, and the one I bought was a cross-over cable), I had the console up and running and reporting real-time weather. Yesterday I cleaned up the rats nest of cables under the GF's computer desk in the living room, added a KVM to switch between her PC and the Weather Server, dusted off my server and a UPS, and got the server back online so I could get the data out to the CWOP (Citizen Weather Observer Program), and out on the Internet.
I started doing this about 5 years ago so I could get real-time weather information while I was out at sea, and had a ball doing it. One of my responsibilities was to keep our C-Band Doppler Weather Radar running, and I got to interact with our Meterologists on a daily basis. I learned quite a bit about weather in the process, and it turned into another hobby of mine.
The server is an older Dell OptiPlex GX270 (Pentium4 with 2GB of DDR memory) I bought cheap on eBay running OpenSUSE Linux and wview software to collect the data from the station console, send it out to the CWOP, and generate webpages to serve up using Apache.
You can visit the station by clicking on the "Live Long Beach Weather" link in my Link-O-Rama, or by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

We Hold These Truths.....

Next week, on December 15th, is the 218th anniversary of the ratification of our Bill of Rights. On the way home last night, I listened to a remarkable radio program on Sirius/XM. It was called "We Hold These Truths", and starred one of my favorite actors, Jimmy Stewart, and a cast of other well-known actors.
If you click on the link, you'll go to a website that has the audio. It's just amazing. It runs about 60 minutes, and is available as a podcast.
With all that's going on these days, like the MASSIVE government grab for power and control over our lives, rumors of using the US Military to confiscate our arms, and the calling of Conservative Americans "Right Wing Terrorists", I thought it was time to remember one of the most important documents of all time. It makes us uniquely American, at least for now. With the current "President" having stated that the Constitution is a "living" document, I think every American should take the time to re-read our Bill of Rights, and take it to heart.
These are NOT "Living Documents"! They are what they are, and were written down so we could refer to them, and use them as the LAW of our Country! If you want to change them, there's even a process spelled out in them so you can AMEND them. They are NOT open to interpretation, the are what they are! What the current administration is doing is ILLEGAL, flat and simple. Nowhere in our Founding Documents does it say the government has the power, right, or responsibility to do the things this current administration is not only proposing, but has already done.
And now, without further fanfare, I present the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution. Please read it, and notice how many times it mentions "The People".

Congress of the United States
begun and held at the City of New-York, on
Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Note: The following text is a transcription of the first ten amendments to the Constitution in their original form. These amendments were ratified December 15, 1791, and form what is known as the "Bill of Rights."

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

December 7th, 1941

A moment of silence, please, for those who were lost on this day 68 years ago.

Thank you.

My Dad went down to the recruiter a few days after December 7th. He wanted to enlist in the Navy, as he had a trade (Machinist) that he felt would be useful. He failed the physical for the Navy due to being color blind, but was told about openings for men like him in the Seabees, which he then enlisted in. I don't remember where he did his Basic Training, but I do remember him telling me about spending some time in Port Hueneme, and his time "Island Hopping" across the South Pacific. He made light of the fact that the Seabees would usually go in ahead of the "regular" Army, generally with, or right after, the Marines had landed, so that they could get to work building and/or repairing the piers and airstrips required to support further military operations.
Dad didn't like talking much about The War as I got older. When I was just a young 'un, though, we watched "Victory at Sea" every Sunday on NBC. Later on in life, when I asked him things about where he was during certain operations, he just clammed up. I guess a lot of WWII vets are like that, and I respect them in not wanting to relive those past events.

Thank you all who are still with us for your service to our country, and to the world. The world would be a very different place today without your service.
God bless you all.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Why I Run Linux

Well, to start with, NO viruses, malware, trojans, or other bad stuff. Linux has had excellent security built in to it from the very beginning. A major difference between a Linux (more properly, a GNU/Linux) platform and a Windows platform is that a Linux platform has a strong implementation of the "Permissions" concept. This strictly divides the "User Space" from the "Administrator Space", meaning a malicious program (a.k.a. "Drive-By Download") will NOT be able to install itself and cause all kinds of grief because it does not have "Permission" to do so. This can sometimes be a PITA if you try install a program as a "User", and the program requires "Root" (a.k.a. "Administrator") permissions. Most programs these days will tell you what they require, and it's a lot better than it was in the old days. There's also methods to put the program in a 'protected' area that will allow it Root privlieges, but keep it from going anywhere it's not supposed to.
I like to 'tinker' with stuff, and since Linux gives you full control over your hardware, you can just about make your PC roll over and bark, if you want. Another advantage is that if you're into programming, or want to learn, most Linux distributions come with all the programming tools you'll need, for free. To buy similar tools for use on a Windows platform would cost hundreds of dollars, or even more for some of the advanced developer's suites out there.
When I first started using Linux back in 1995, there were always problems with hardware support, and some of the early Office type programs were quite, uh, shall we say, 'primitive'? I remember taking about a week to get my modem working correctly, and then another day or two to figure out how to download Netscape, and get it installed. These days with distributions like Ubuntu, it's 95% plug-and-play for your hardware, and the Firefox browser and OpenOffice suite will install automatically.
*SOME* devices, particularly "GDI" printers and scanners, will have hardware that requires the Operating System to do most of the work, and these won't work, or work very poorly, with Linux. When in doubt, use Google to find out if your hardware is Linux compatible.
I won't go much further here, as there are literally thousands of websites devoted not only to Linux in general, but also for all the different distributions out there. If you interested, two excellent books to start with are "Running Linux", and "Linux in a Nutshell", both available at Amazon, Borders, or from the publisher, O'Reilly.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Get Well, Mike!

One of my favorite bloggers, Mike Vanderboegh, has been in the hospital. I wish him well! We NEED guys like Mike to carry the 2A and Freedom fights forward with the courage that they show.
Godspeed, Mike!

Supras and Stereos.....

 The repairs on the Fisher RS-2010 are proceeding, but a bit slower than I expected. The failed transistor is an obsolete part number, so I ...