Monday, September 27, 2010

-- --- ·-· ··· · -·-· --- -·· ·

So for those who do not know, the title of my post this hour says "Morse Code" in, well, Morse Code.  Morse Code was the VERY FIRST digital mode of transmitting data across airwaves, which happened long before a microphone came along.

Morse code is a method of transmitting textual information as a series of on-off tones, lights, or clicks that can be directly understood by a skilled listener or observer without special equipment. The International Morse Code encodes the Roman alphabet, the Arabic numerals and a small set of punctuation and procedural signals as standardized sequences of short and long "dots" and "dashes", or "dits" and "dahs". Because many non-English natural languages use more than the 26 Roman letters, extensions to the Morse alphabet exist for those languages.

Morse code speed is specified in words per minute (WPM) and associated with an "element time" equal to 1.2 seconds divided by the speed in WPM. A dot consists of an "on" element followed by an "off" element, and a dash is three "on" elements and one "off" element. Each character is a sequence of dots and dashes, with the shorter sequences assigned to the more frequently used letters in English – the letter 'E' represented by a single dot, and the letter 'T' by a single dash. A speed of 12 WPM is therefore associated with an element time of 100 milliseconds, so each dot is 100 ms long and each dash is 300 ms long, each followed by 100 ms of silence.

A related but different code was originally created for Samuel F. B. Morse's electric telegraph in the early 1840s. In the 1890s it began to be extensively used for early radio communication before it was possible to transmit voice. In the early part of the twentieth century, most high-speed international communication used Morse code on telegraph lines, undersea cables and radio circuits. However, on-off keying, variable character lengths, the limited character set and the lack of forward error correction are inefficient and poorly suited to computer reception, so machine-to-machine communication generally uses frequency shift keying (FSK) or phase shift keying (PSK) and encodes text in the Baudot, ASCII and Unicode character sets.

I've been spending a few minutes here and there over the course of five months attempting to learn Morse Code, or CW as its more widely known.  A little known to the internet fact about me, I'm an active licensed Amateur Radio operator that you could sometimes catch on HF radio frequencies mostly in the 14mhz range.  20 Meters as its known (for the 20 meter wavelength of 14MHz) is one of my favorite bands and typically what I operate both at home and mobile.  While I enjoy chatting it up on a local 145mhz FM repeater, most of my HF operation is normally a relaxed state during contests.  Never really got into "rag chewing" on HF.

The guy who really helped me along with the hobby got me obsessed with operating known as "QRP" or weak signal low power transmission and the common mode of operation on QRP is typically CW (Morse Code.)  This has been something I've wanted to learn for years just never was able to accomplish.  It wasn't until recently where I really stated to put some effort into it, just wish I could quit my job and dedicate my life to ham radio.  haha.  That'd be nice.  Much as I've put most of it off I'm actually starting to really learn a lot of the alphabet.  It seems like a daunting task, but I can copy many letters and a few words in the 30 words per minute range, and can even send a few misc things in excess of 40 words / minute.

Was just thinking that I'm getting frustrated that I don't have more time to dedicate to just learning the code and seems like its taking forever.  My "elmer" gave me some code recordings that put on my ipod in order to try and learn.  This has taught me the letters A, B, refined C, D, E, and F.  The recording starts with sending the letter at a slow speed then slow increases it.  Starts with A, A, A, A, A, A, A, A, then witches to B.  B, B, B, B, B, B, B, B.  At that point it starts sending ABBBABABABBABAAABABA at random with increasing speed.  Next it'll move to C, then D, then send C and D, etc.  Thing is they say to only spend 15 to 20 minutes a day on it or you'll burn yourself out but the problem is when I want to start reviewing my progress that'll typically end up burning that 15 to 20 minutes before I even start on new letters.

My overall progress is A, B, C, D, E, F, K, M, O, Q, R, S, T, and the Numerical Zero.  The neat thing about Morse digits is how they progress, unlike the alphabet.  1 is ·----, 2 is ··---, 3 ···--, 4 ····-, ·····, -····, --···, etc..  Those should be pretty easy to learn, as you notice there is one dit in 1, two dits in 2, and so forth. 

Last week

Well, This would be my last week in the Piece Of Shit (Point of Sale) industry.  Not going to miss it.

The company  work for seemed to think it was a good idea to buy up a couple shitty companies that put their own shit out of business by supporting endlessly the oldest garbage equipment and software you could really imagine using.  Naturally, I was one of the poor suckers that got pulled into that trap.  Screw this shit, not going to miss any of it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feel like a pin cushion...

I've been really busy the last few days an with all the things going on haven't had a chance to catch up with my postings on here!!

Went to a Neurologist the other day to see why my left arm keeps falling asleep.  First thing he does is start strapping electrodes to my fingers and arms, along with a little green ground.  Starts talking to me about other misc stuff to keep my attention off what hes doing, then starts applying gel to this strange looking gizmo..  This thing he measures, marks, then applies it to your skin to issue an electric shock.  It wasn't a LOT of juice, but man that made my arm / fingers twitch really bad!  Overall that wasn't a bad experience, then he changes the approach after digging out a sealed package.....

Now we pull out a needle with a wire attached to it then plugs it into his machine.  This he stabs into my arm at various places to actually listen to the electrical pulses given off by my nervous system which comes out sounding like a ticking white noise static..  When he stabbed it in you heard a little scratching noise while it moved around but went silent after he stopped moving the probe.  At that point he held his arm over mine and asked me to lift up, push down, or grip something tightly.  When you start to move your arm that's when the scratching / clicking / popping / static noise starts to accelerate out of control.  This is letting him know at various places the pulses are arriving where they need to go and aren't being sent erratically.

What was found during this test was a delay between a nerve that passes right across your elbow. I attribute this to sitting at my desk holding a phone to my head and resting the elbow on the desk!  What's my solution for this?  QUITTING MY JOB!!  Too bad I'm not staying here, I'd file workers comp and take a leave of absence.. lol.  Maybe with some luck my new employer will have better accommodations for a work environment than what I'm currently suffering through.  The other good news, doctor reports I do NOT have carpel tunnel, which I still think exists... My hands cramp up really bad when I type for a long period of time, even if I'm in a comfortable position.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

New Job

Not a whole lot of time for this post.  Just wanted throw it out there anyway however.

Got a phone call yesterday from the perspective employer I interviewed with last week and they wanted to offer me a job.  The position sounds a lot better than what I've wasted the last 2 1/2 years of my life on, plus its a seasonal with strong potential for full time hire.  Most likely I'll have to suffer through 10 months of work with 2 months of "paid vacation time" when they 'lay off' the seasonal people for the year, then I can collect unemployment.  Talking to a few people who worked for the same company, knowing my skills and background there is a pretty strong possibility they'll just keep me.

Basically have 24 hours to make up my mind.  The pay isn't as much, but its an hourly position where I'm not required to give my soul to the company...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bought a new TV

I've been pretty busy lately so not much time between work and other things to post on here the past couple days.  Back in 2005 I bought a Samsung DLP TV from Nebraska Furniture Mart through a friend that worked there and actually got a pretty good deal on it.  Did the smart thing and bought a 3 year warranty just to make sure it would last me a few.  Fast Forward to 3 years and 2 months after purchase guess what happens!  The TV starts to die! 

Power the set on and sit down to watch.  One of two things will take place;  Either the TV will operate for HOURS flawlessly, or it'll sit there and freeze up every 30 seconds and make the damn thing impossible to watch.  Figured out after I got pissed at it one day that ripping the power cord out the rear and plug it back in, the damn thing will run 10 hours without a glitch!

What's the ongoing problem with it though?  It won't display an analog signal anymore.  Period.  Give it an HD digital signal and the picture is GREAT, supply it analog and you get a green checkerboard.  A PC input or input from the HDDVR looks fantastic, and I hate to get rid of the thing but its up for sale.  Would like to get a couple hundred for it, since they're selling for $500 in full working condition.  Honestly I'd keep the thing if I had a place to put it.

So anyway, I went to NFM last night interested in buying an LG Infinia 50PK750 Plasma which was on sale from $1299.99 to $969.99 with a $75.00 NFM Rewards card!  Once I got there and located the TV I was pissed, the thing was back up to full price!  I was just there on Saturday, nobody told me the sale ended dammit!  This young guy comes over and asks if we're doing okay and I was too mad to even speak so my cohort explained the situation.  After a few minutes on the phone I had a sales slip for $969.99 from him, then bought the 4 year warranty from him to boot.

At this point I haven't had much time to really check this thing out, but I did get it setup and the old tv removed from my home theater system. Picture looks VERYgood, even on the shittier channels.  We'll see how it goes.  :-D