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Saturday, July 31, 2010

From Italy to Virginia: Move update

We're still in a temporary apartment, waiting to move into our new place. The new QTH has some good tall trees suitable for wire antenna support. I have my eye on a room for the shack.

Not much radio activity this summer. I do have my Sony shortwave receiver with me -- I've been listening to 75 meter AM. My Heathkit VF-1/DX60 combo will be coming out of storage, so I may soon be joining in.

My kids got I-phones and are having a lot of fun with them. As we drive along they are in multimedia contact with friends back in Italy (and elsewhere), texting, e-mailing, Facebooking, video-texting, etc. The I-phone 4 is an amazing piece of gear.

Summer reading: I kind of got bogged down in "Is God a Mathematician?" by Mario Livio. Good book, but as he gets deeper into it you really need to focus -- I'll get back to that when things settle down. I'm currently reading "Why does E=MC^2"by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw. I was attracted to the book because it promises to discuss the role of special relativity in things like toroidal tranformers. (There is a section called "Einstein in the Transformer in SolderSmoke -- The Book.") I like the authors' approach to math: they actually explain where the formula for gamma in special relativity comes from.

"Wired" looks at Radio Shack

Art, KG6ZWD, sent this link to me. Looks like Wired magazine has an interesting article about Radio Shack.

http://blakegonzales.com/2010/06/30/growing-up-with-radioshack/

I always liked these stores. They were never perfectly aligned with our needs, and they seem to be drifting even further away, but over the years I picked up lots of good gear and needed parts at these stores. Ideas too! I have those "Mini Notebooks" by Forrest Mims. Great stuff!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Modular Magic from AK2B

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrDYEbRGEds

This video really made me yearn for my shack and soldering iron (all my gear is still on the high seas). OM AK2B is doing amazing modular things in an apartment in NYC. Richard Fenynman would be proud! I was pleased to see the circuits and kits of so many FB radio amateurs (including KD1JV, W7ZOI, and KA7EXM) in this rig. Thanks to Jonathan-san, KC7FYS, for sending this video to me.

Save 20% on SolderSmoke -- The Book

Lulu just announced a big summer sale, good through August 1. This is a good chance to get "SolderSmoke -- The Book" in time for that late-summer beach trip. Just use the coupon code SANTA when checking out. (U.S. buyers may find it more advantageous to use the summer-long free shipping offer.)

Find the book here:

http://soldersmoke.com/book.htm

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back in Northern Virginia, SUMMER SALES

It seems like I have personally moved back several chapters in "SolderSmoke -- The Book." After being away for 10 years, we are back in the same part of Northern Virginia that we lived in before. The SS Shack is still out at sea -- it is due in sometime next month. We should be settled by early September.

The "free shipping"offer for the SolderSmoke book is still in effect. That is for shipment in the U.S. only, but buyers elsewhere can take advantage of a special 15% off option by using coupon code BEACHREAD305 on the U.S. version of the book.

I hope everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is having a good summer, and that our "down under" listeners are having an easy winter.

73 Bill

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Future of SolderSmoke

We're now in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, visiting my wife's family.

I've had some time to think about the future of the podcast. There will have to be a summer pause -- my shack is now in a bunch of boxes, out in the Atlantic ocean somewhere (hopefully above the surface!).

I want to use the move to improve the podcast and the associated blog and websites. Here are some initial ideas:

-- Reaching out to a broader community of Knack victims. It would be good thing could use the podcast to pull in guys who are solder melters, but who are not (yet) hardcore QRP homebrewers.

-- Better audio. I need a real microphone. Maybe a simple equalizer. I need to REALLY get rid of the SSSSSS problem.

-- Easier-to-use software. I'm still using the collection of software that Mike, KL7R, and I threw together five years ago. It all starts with Audacity (which works very well). But then for updating the website I'm using an OLD version of Mozilla composer. Updating the .rss feed is even more rickety -- I manually go in and change the text using Microsoft's notepad. There has to be an easier way of doing all this.

-- Self-hosted blog. I'm currently using Google's Blogspot to host the blog. But I see some advantages in moving to a self-hosted blog. I'd like to have a better comment/dialog feature, something more like the discussion board on the "AM Window" and other similar blogs.

-- More video. Don't worry. I'll stick with the audio podcast. But video is fun and useful, so I want to try to do more videos.

-- More guests on the show. I often say this, but in practice doing this makes it a lot harder to do a podcast. But maybe this will get easier now that I'm in the East Coast time zone.

Let me know what you think. 73 from Santo Domingo

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Miami SolderSmoke

The family and I are now in Miami. We departed Rome on Thursday, made a quick visit to San Diego (to see my brother and his family) and are now in beautiful Miami, right on Biscayne Bay. We'll be here for a few days. No radio activity to speak of -- the move kept me quite busy. But I picked up a good book at the airport -- "Is God A Mathematician?" by Mario Livio. It provides a lot of useful info on some of the math-in-electronics issues that we talk about on the podcast and in SolderSmoke -- The Book.

It was hard to leave Rome, but we are happy to be back in the USA on the the 4th of July. We'll watch the fireworks tonight.
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