Sunday, September 22, 2013

Reset

Kind of did a "reset" over the weekend. Not sure what I mean by this term. But whatever it is, I do it periodically. The reset included two things:

1) I tore down my ham radio installations in my office and my car.

2) I yanked the hard drive out of my laptop that had Arch Linux installed on it and put my SSD with Windows 8 on it back in.

It was just last week that I received a window sticker for my car that said 146.52 on it in a small white oval. The 146.52 is the standard frequency used by ham radio operators who are local to each other so they can call one another direct (rather than using a repeater). Armed with that sticker (which would indicate I'm listening on that frequency) and my callsign on the back window of my car... I figured I might get calls as I tool down the road.

And sure enough. On Friday I was headed up to Salem and someone gave me a shout. We had a nice little chat. It worked!

But overall my involvement in ham radio is a bit of a bust. I know some of the guys on the local repeater. And I knew a bunch of guys in Salem. But not very well. When you stop talking on the air for extended periods of time people tend to forget you exist. So a person either needs to be a regular, or just give it up.

I originally got into ham radio for the social aspect. I would say that most hams are tolerant of operators who are not very technical, but many are not. And now that I'm married, I don't sit at home alone all the time wanting someone to talk to.

Another aspect of the local repeater group (and most repeater groups) is that it's quite cliquish. You're either a "regular" or your not. And this point is brought home almost daily. Not that they aren't nice people for the most part. It's just natural human behavior.

As a result of all this, I don't get on the air much. So I decided to tear down the ham radio installations in my office and car.

In my office I had a mobile VHF/UHF radio setup with a 12-volt power supply and a mobile antenna on a little mast with a ground radial kit. It worked pretty well, but it was ugly and I wanted a more minimalist office environment. I tore that down entirely and packed it away. I will use my handheld if I decide to play radio at all. And it will work just fine with the local repeaters.

I took the stickers off of my car and I removed the antenna mount and hid it under the hood. I pulled out the radio itself, but I left the antenna cable and power cable in place just in case I change my mind (which I've done before). But most signs of the installation are gone.

As far as Linux goes... once again I sort of reached the point where I realized it's a bit pointless. I can spend endless hours tweaking a Linux system. I can install a new distribution every day if I want and configure everything to work correctly in short order. But why?

At some point it's totally "been there, done that". Sure it's neato and everything. But for me I think computers have stopped being a source of wonder and amazement quite awhile back. While it always fun to try something new, it's hard to consider it a hobby any longer. Sure I like tech, but computers, tablets, smartphones... they are all now just appliances. Part of life. The less time it takes to set them up and keep them going the better.

I thought of playing with various Linux distributions in the VirtualBox VM software. And I still might. But it's just not the same as having it on the bare metal. Any wuss can install Linux in a VM. But putting it on bare metal you are committed. You are relying on it.