Welcome to Handiham World!
Photo: Pat, WA0TDA, holds up the the new ARRL 2010 Periodicals on CD-ROM and TravelPlus® for Repeaters CD. Both will be available for our Handiham members to try out at the Radio Camp in August.
Have you ever wondered where you saw that article about the antenna that you could build yourself and that would actually fit into your real estate? What month's QST was it that had the review of the rig you're thinking about buying? What's in QEX, the "Forum for Communications Experimenters"? What about the National Contest Journal?
If you're anything like me, you probably subscribe to several magazines and don't really have the time to read every article. I always go through the contents and page through to see what jumps out at me, and in the process I find plenty of interesting articles that I am going to read later or save for reference. Before I know it, the next month's magazines arrive and I am falling behind in my reading. I'll have much more time in the winter, so the magazines go on the shelf in my ham shack, ordered by month. Sometimes the articles I wanted to read just never get read, and the reason is that they are too hard to find. It may be that I don't even recall the title of the article or the author's name, just the general topic. True, the periodicals search tool on the ARRL website will be helpful, but sometimes I can't locate the article I want because my shelves are not organized as well as I would like.
I can see to read the print articles. Doing this kind of a search when you are blind can be a much more daunting task. That's one of the reasons we will be installing the 2010 ARRL Periodicals CD-ROM on a Windows computer equipped with JAWS®, a popular screenreading software program by Freedom Scientific. The upcoming Handiham Radio Camp provides exactly the right opportunity for us to test the accessibility of the Periodicals CD using a screenreading computer operated by experienced blind amateur radio operators. The idea of having an entire year's worth of QST, National Contest Journal, and QEX, the Forum for Communications Experimenters, available on a single CD with search capability seems a lot better than saving print publications on a shelf - or shoeboxes full of audio tapes or even the new flash memory digital NLS "books". Most of us just don't have the space to save more than a couple of year's worth of old print magazines, and even if we do manage to keep them all in order, finding a particular article can be a chore, so we are looking forward to exploring this ARRL CD during Radio Camp.
One book we have never put onto tape for our blind Handiham members is the ARRL Repeater Directory. Think about it for awhile, and you'll realize why. Not only would it be like reading the phone book, but it would also be impossibly difficult to use because you could never find anything in it, especially in audio cassette format. Imagine back in the days of books on tape what such a book would be like for a blind user. It would be a box full of cassettes, and one would have to keep them organized carefully. Even then, who wants to listen for hours to find the right spot on a tape that has just the repeater information you need? The lack of an accessible repeater directory for blind hams has been a problem, and even those of us who can see to read a print version can find the lookups of repeaters while traveling a hassle. That's where the ARRL TravelPlus Repeater Directory on CD comes in handy. While I seldom plan to tote along a notebook computer just for repeater lookups while driving cross country, I do appreciate the pre-trip planning capabilities of the ARRL software. Once can print out a list of repeaters within a user-defined distance along a planned route. That saves the hassle of paging through a print repeater directory during your trip. I find it much more intuitive and easier to use, but what about our blind Handiham members? Would there be some features of the ARRL TravelPlus CD that could prove useful? That is what we are going to find out at Radio Camp in August when we install the software on our JAWS computer and see what we can do with it.
Handiham Radio Camp is August 8 through 13, 2011 at Camp Courage near Maple Lake, Minnesota. The camp repeater, W0EQO-R, is connected to the HANDIHAM Echolink conference and the Vancouver, BC IRLP node 9008. We also plan to have our own experimental low power IRLP node 7051 on the air. The camp station is W0ZSW, and will be operating on the HF bands.
News of Mumbai bombings arrives on Handiham net
I was surprised to hear about terrorist bombings in Mumbai, India from Vispi, VU2WLL, on today's Handiham Echolink net. He says that he and his sister are both all right. The news media have conflicting numbers of casualties. There will no doubt be much more information later on today as this story unfolds. In the meantime, our thoughts are with the people of India as they cope with this senseless violence.