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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Yi Yao has The Knack!

Hi Bill,

I discovered SolderSmoke a few years ago by listening to another pod
cast. Ever since, I have been hooked on this podcast and listen to it
whenever I have time. I have finally caught up and finished episode
142 today. I love the enthusiasm and spirit of discovery and creation
that goes into the stories in SS.

The first time I heard about amateur radio was in high school. It
seemed to be a overly nerdy thing at the time and I wasn't sure what
it was. However, after I started listening to SS, I discovered that
this is something that I wanted to do. So, on New Years Eve with the
kind help of a local examiner (Ori, VA3XW), I wrote my basic and
advanced exam and passed with honours. In Canada, we only have 3
categories: basic, advanced and morse co
de. I am very excited about
this and I am glad that SS made me make the jump.

You know, every time the word knack comes up, it is portrayed in a
negative way. Someone is "afflicted" with the knack or shows knackish
"symptoms" as if it was a horrible disease. I would like to change
this perspective.

I hereby declare myself blessed with the knack. Ever since I was a kid,
I disassembled various electronics around the house (to the dismay of
my parents). I knew when I was doing something right when I could put
something back together and it worked, or later, it worked better than
before. Despite my parents' persuasion to pursue other branches of
non-technical studies, I made up my mind to study electrical
engineering (must have been a teenage rebellion thing). Nonetheless
I finished school and found a job doing electronics design which I
love. Some of the people that you meet in this field are just
phenomenal. It has been a good career decision and I think it is truly
amazing. Thus, I see the knack as being a gift which I was fortunate
enough to hold.

I think one of the most important aspect of the knack is the desire to
understand and have self reliance on what we use on a daily basis. I
repair my own bikes and I've never bought a ready made computer.
Having a home machine shop greatly helps in this regard too. My first
oscilloscope I designed and built myself:
I have also resolved to build my first rig instead of buying one.
However, work is really busy these days, and it doesn't look like I
will be able to do this soon. One of these days, I will construct my
own rig and wiggle the ether.

I am currently visiting Silicon Valley here in California. There is
much to visit and do here. For example, the De Anza Flea Market
happens every 2nd Saturday (which is my first introduction to a swap

The Computer History Museum is amazing:

For a limited time, you can see Jim William's work bench at the
museum. If you thought your workbench was messy, you haven't seen

Now, imagine having the world's most smartest electronics engineers
having dinner together. That's what the Analog Aficionados Party is about:

On top of that, there are a lot of trade shows which you can go to
check out the latest and greatest of test equipment. They don't have
the same feel as some of my analog oscilloscopes, but they are shiny.
As you can see, this is a paradise for anyone blessed with the knack.

Anyhow, this email is long enough and I hope your eyes haven't glazed
over yet. My best regards to you, Billy, Maria and your wife.

Yi Yao
Our book: "SolderSmoke -- Global Adventures in Wireless Electronics"http://soldersmoke.com/book.htmOur coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers: http://www.cafepress.com/SolderSmokeOur Book Store: http://astore.amazon.com/contracross-20

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