Maybe it’s me…

Maybe I’m just getting too damn old. I remember vapourware before vapourware was a thing. A Thomas Salter microscope. Simply buy the X7652765 add-on lens and your life will be awesome. In those days, there was an awful dreaded message “Please allow 28 days for delivery” yes… I know. We actually put up with bullshit like that. Not that I am against the old way of doing things, but I’m sure it only took a week in reality. Then the product was out of stock – then discontinued.

The latest vapourware is the Asus Tinkerboard. If you didn’t manage to get one in the 4.2 nano-seconds after they hit the shops (if they ever did) you can’t actually BUY one. They will tell you all sorts of interesting and groovy facts about how great it is – but you will never see one. I gave up trying to actually see and review stuff before purchase years ago. The shops in the UK at least NEVER have what it is I’m looking for, unless it’s six times the cost of buying it on Ebay and whatever it is is in a packet or in a glass case so you can’t actually TOUCH the sacred thing. It’s apparently too specialist. It’s so specialist that this stuff is plastered all over the internet. I think tech firms are so desperate to get a press release out to tell people how superawesome their product is, that they are now actually in danger of it becoming obsolete by their own new products before the actual device arrives, I’m sure this has already happened to some Mac owners. So now we have Moore’s Law conducted entirely via press release and industry shows. You can see the product in some nice 3d render, there is a prototype at CeBit or NAMM, there’s stuff all over the internet about it including reviews from multiple sources, and then presumably 72 hours before it becomes superceded by the new, spanglier version, which is also never available.

I have actually tried emailing companies to ask them where and when I can buy their products and some actually don’t know. In the case of the Behringer Uphoria, the UMC1820, it was advertised for about three years before being available. It is a VERY rare beast. It is class-compliant. That is to say – it needs NO DRIVERS! EVER! FOR ANY OPERATING SYSTEM! I actually got mine working on OpenWRT on a router. No problem. SO WHY THE HELL IS NO-ONE DOING THIS??!!!!! I bought mine off Ebay at a stupidly low price and nearly died of shock. You can now buy this on Ebay at nearly twice the price I paid from the same company. I wish I had cleared them out of stock now.

Another extremely rare item I won out on is the ESI M8UXL. 8 in 8 out Midi interface – build quality is superb. Class compliant. Looks brilliant and it just works. I finally got mine from Germany second-hand as you will see them listed online in shops, but never any stock. The thing is just the best. But you can never buy one even though it is still listed on the ESI web site.

There are no alternatives.

Maybe you have to live outside the factories where this stuff is made? Japan? god knows.

Sweet bird of paradise

It’s never dark where I live. I don’t know why that should bother me but it does. I mean, it’s crap when I want to do astronomy (why aren’t astronomers call skyentists?) and I can easily navigate the house when it’s ”dark”, but I think a society where it is always light is weird.

The council installed new LED light here a few months ago and it’s now so bright I’m surprised the birds can sleep. Birds are known to alter their behaviour in urban settings due to excessive light. They also sing louder than their country cousins just to be heard over the din, which is another thing humans don’t seem to notice.

Noise and light are what I would deduce humans need if I were a visiting alien. I swear I heard a blackbird imitate a ringtone the other day. Birds of Paradise copy the noise a camera shutter makes, that and the sound of chainsaws.

For whom the bell tolls…

Half-a-Story News Reporting

Yet again I see another example of the Half-a-story news report. This phenomenon has been around for a few years now, and it’s getting worse.

Let’s take the apparently innocuous as an example:

The BBC reports in middle England cheeks flushed mock outrage that :

“?According to the Telegraph, with nine days to go before Christmas Day, York Minster is struggling to find a replacement for the bell ringers it sacked in October.”

This report is from the section http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-38336975

which will no doubt disappear without a trace before the day is out.

The link above is to an article which outlines what happened, but leaves out the crucial part of the story “Why?”

The BBC then goes on to report a juicy morsel from the Times:

?The Times says the message is very clear: “If you cross one campanologist, you cross them all.”

Chortle. How terribly erudite. (a Campanologist is a bell-ringer you see, and it’s funny because it’s clever)

This refers to the issues that York is having, and the refusal of other campanologists from Leeds to step into the breach.

If you follow the link to the Times, you can’t read it unless you subscribe to the Times, and presumably had you done that you wouldn’t be reading the BBC about the Times as you would already have read it, unless you use the BBC as a kind of news-filter for the paper or online edition you already read – which is a little convoluted to say the least.

In the part of the page that the BBC links to from the Times, a tantalising clue emerges for the amateur news sleuth:

?”fired by the cathedral this year in a row over child safety.”

Ah! a story emerges from the slapdash new-meeja.

With further digging at the Telegraph, another article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/12/ding-dong-at-the-belfry-as-york-minster-axes-all-its-30-bellring/
states:

?
“Bellringers, who have performed at the Minster for decades, were left in tears after the Dean and Chapter, its governing body, called an emergency meeting on Tuesday and axed them all.
Officials at the Minster said the move was due to health and safety concerns and a need for the Chapter to take control of the tower back. The previous Tower Captain, who was in charge of the ringers, was not accountable to the Chapter – a situation the body wishes to change by creating a new Head of the Bell Tower role following clashes between the groups.”

Aha! yet more emerges. Removing the emotive, we still don’t know what the clashes are about, but there is a possibility that it is personality based, and that the venerable sledge-hammer of the righteous, the clip-board and day-glo vest is being wheeled out once again to produce a desired outcome.

I do like the fact that it was classed as an emergency though, and Tower Captain sounds awesome.

So what is the news here? As far as the Telegraph is concerned, it’s an opportunity for two lots of headline copy with the words “ding-dong” in it, which let’s face it is only one step away from “bell-end”. For the Times it’s all so terribly amusing that “bell-ringers” (tee-hee!) are upset.

Bats in the belfry – I wouldn’t Dean it necessary, dropped a clanger, going like the clappers(geddit?).

The actual news story here seems to be a power struggle or personality clash with some individuals involving the loss of their past-time due to a petty squabble over “control” and the possibly inappropriate invocation of “‘elf ‘n safety” the result of which could be a discontinuation of several hundred years of tradition (if that sort of thing matters to you)

This isn’t even presented as human interest, as the actual human element is reduced to the phrase “in tears” that old staple of the lazy news report, the only part missing here being the hackneyed “children were left” preceding it.

So if you have a spare half an hour, and the article links are correct and the pages they link to have not been removed by the time you get to them, because hey it’s an outside source and “we are not responsible for ANYTHING anymore”, you may be able to piece together what the news actually is. I still don’t know what the dispute is about, no words from those involved are included, no “a spokesperson said” no telephone calls were made to enquire. This is non-news. It’s half a story, badly written about an issue that may actually matter to some, this is not an excuse for rubbish copy with lousy innuendo.

Leave innuendo to Viz, they are far better and funnier and have been doing it for longer (oo-er).

Ham Radio Deluxe – and QRZ.net

This post is about the nefarious goings on within the world of Ham Radio, and more generally the unhealthy relationships that develop online.

I am in no way affiliated to any of the organizations or individuals mentioned here.

First, some background information.

Ham Radio Deluxe was originally written by Peter PH1PH and Simon HB9DRV as Windows compatible software to use a computer to control a Ham Radio. There are many reasons why someone would want to do this, primarily the use of Digital Modes, which are a form of digital encoding to use text to communicate between licenced users of the Amateur Radio bands.

The software was supported by end-user donations, but was never open-source, however it was always provided free of charge to the community.

All went well for a number of years and in May 2010 at the Dayton Hamvention, Simon received the Technical Excellence Award for the development of HRD, which is regarded as quite an accolade within the world of Ham Radio.

In mid-2011, Simon for whatever reasons decided to sell the rights to the software. No licence agreements now exist for the pre-sale software as far as I am aware, the last version of which is 5.24.38 which is freely available on the ‘net for example here: https://www.egr.msu.edu/msuarc/software/ham-radio-deluxe/ and also here: http://www.iw5edi.com/software/ham-radio-deluxe-5-download-links

Wayback Machine has all of them: https://web.archive.org/web/20111222183726/http://www.hrdsoftwarellc.com/HRDv050b2893_Full.exe

https://web.archive.org/web/20120501024748/http://hrdsoftwarellc.com/setuphrd511a.exe

Hey that robots.txt is a bummer. I also know that HRD has tried to get others not to host the files. Oh well, bad luck as it’s all there on Wayback forever.

Please don’t hassle these guys with questions, they are just hosting sites for the software. Things being like they are online, if you want the software, download it now before it goes.

Here’s the ARRL on the sale: http://www.arrl.org/news/hb9drv-sells-rights-to-ham-radio-deluxe

Quite a few people were somewhat annoyed that the donations that they had made to support the software had now effectively gone to a private company.

Allegedly there was some disquiet at the time that Open Source Software components in the code were now being charged for, which would be a possible breach of GNU licensing, this may have been censored from QRZ.

This is where the drama begins. An end user writes a support ticket:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByRns7FgcZWzaUpiTjJIWkhXQ0k/view

Yep – he actually wrote that on the ticket. If that copy disappears – no problem. 😉

So what we have is an attempt at extortion. Plain as day. No whitewash is going to paint over exactly what was said. Remove an honest review of some software, and we’ll unlock the code, don’t and you’re screwed. The guy paid $99 for this. This is incidentally now illegal under US law, law passed some days later.

Here’s the timeline (credit to reddit)

Thur Dec 15th

/u/dlichterman posted a thread with a link to QRZ.com’s forums about a user who claimed that the Staff at Ham Radio Delxue (HRD) hacked their computer.

OP on QRZ posted documents to his support ticket. According to the ticket, HRD support “blacklisted” OP disabling his software. In order to have access to the software, OP was required to remove a negitive review that he posted on eham.net by staff

On Twitter.com, there is history of issues with @hamradiodeluxe.

Threads on both reddit and QRZ start becoming active. Others who have issues with HRD support start coming out.

Thread on eham was started about this subject on 12/14/2016

Known internet archivist Jason Scott (@jasonscott) was told by HRD on twitter that the support ticket was “Copyrighted” and was looking into alleged libel issues source

Friday Dec 16th

User on QRZ.com found HRD’s license check server. Started querying OP’s callsign to return as “Blacklisted”

QRZ owner deletes thread, posts his own thread with explanation while omitting possible “blacklist” and extortion (since deleted/merged). Precedes to lock new thread when called out about missing information

Another user on QRZ made another HRD thread. This time targeting the actions of QRZ Admin and staff.

In 2009, proof that HRD pays QRZ.com money for advertisements. Proof of conflict of interest.

Rick, One of the HRD owners (out of 3) responded on the QRZ and Eham forums about the incident claiming OP wasn’t hacked. Owner attemped to call OP.

According to OP, Co-owner (Rick) left voicemail threatening lawsuit for release of “Copywrited” support ticket

On reddit, /u/fohdeesha made a thread where he compared reviews about HRD on eham.net against callsigns on the check server. A decent amount of callsigns from “poor reviews” showed up as “blacklisted” on the check server.

QRZ.com owner unlocked the original thread and merged all the HRD related threads together. All out Streisand Effect.

HRD blocked incoming connections to the check server. ALL “Blacklisted entries” were removed.

HRD Co-Owner (Rick) posted on QRZ.com the following

We we have an official statement soon, but we do not condone anyone that blacklisted any ham for a bad review

As of today, Randy, Mike and I went though the license server and removed all blacklisted hams. That’s not good business or good policy.

More to come.

Lot of discussion continued

Ex support staff member of HRD (left on his own in April) replied on the QRZ thread that he was being setup as a patsy for creating the blacklist. He claimed he had chat logs (Citation needed).

Sat Dec 17th

2nd owner of HRD (Mike) posted an apology and information about what happened on both on QRZ and eham forum

I want to make a statement of apology on behalf of HRD Software.

We regret that we have been unable to maintain our high standards of quality in our service to one of our customers. I have reached out to this customer to correct this regrettable situation. I am looking forward to speaking with him.

We apologize for what has happened here. I have stepped in and personally taken corrective actions to ensure that this mistake does not get made again.

It is not the policy or practice of HRD Software, LLC to retaliate, in any way, when negative reviews are made about our company, its products, or our employees. If this has happened in the past, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again. We will strive to avoid, even the suspicion of, such things in the future.

Best wishes in your continuing enjoyment of our hobby.

Regards, [Contact info redacted]

After some more discussion, HRD co-owner (Rick) adds to the apology on both QRZ.com forums and eham

Jim,

No one is going to be sued. I made a serious mistake and error of judgement in this and many cases and I am truly sorry.

Jim, I apologize publicly to you. I do have diabetes and sometimes this affects my judgement and it did in that voicemail I truly regret it. I’m talking to my Doctor about changing my medications so I wont have any more low sugars.

Randy, Mike and I are discussing my future with HRD.

Rick – [Redacted]

Apologies also posted to their twitter feed @hamradiodeluxe and their Facebook account

Facebook user claims he was hassled by HRD staff when he wanted a refund

Some users were not happy with the apology and diabetic excuse. HRD owners not acknowledging blacklist

Lots of discussion with 2nd owner of HRD trying to define what “blacklist” means

HRD deletes Facebook apology after critical replies.

2nd owner of HRD explained in detail about the retailation and blacklist in a post on QRZ.com

Co-owner of HRD (Mike) stated on the QRZ.com forums that they will edit their EULA and “fix it”

Sun Dec 18th

News of what is going on making its making its way to other circles

Mon Dec 19th

The register (A known international publication) published a story about HRD. Thread on reddit discussing the article

HRD twitter account deleted

Another HRD “Blacklisted” user stepped forward on the QRZ.com forums

Tue Dec 20th

Wronged users of HRD are starting to come forward

The Register is looking into Tips about deceptive statements from HRD

Another (former) HRD user steps forward. User ordered renewal, loaded software to be “Blacklisted”, User asked support, HRD refunded user and stated he was blacklisted for being a member of certain Yahoo group(s). Source

Wed, Dec 21

The Register released an updated article about the HRD situation

HRD Co-Owner known for being hostile in support is still dealing with customers even after the negative attention. Note: Original reply in thread was by Co-Owner (Rick) then changed to admin account.

More evidence on QRZ.com forums of blacklist from co-owner of HRD

Mike (co-owner) stated in an e-mail that 35 people were blacklisted.

Mike (co-owner) made a statement on Reddit in the Mega Thread. Account is unconfirmed! Edit: User self deleted the comment here is a backup

Slashdot article about HRD blacklisting

Thur, Dec 22

More evidence of mistreatment from HRD Co-owner Note: Not affliated with HRD at the time. (NEW 06:14)

These blacklisted callsigns can be checked on HRD’s server. The address was found by monitoring traffic between the HRD programs and the server (not by me – it’s on reddit). Please note – this is in no way illegal, the address is publicly accessible. The use of telnet across the internet shows a distinct lack of knowledge or disregard for security. There is/was an attempt to scare people as a message stating your IP address will be logged was added upon checking a callsign. If they weren’t logging IP addresses, quite frankly that would be idiotic.

To access HRD’s server: telnet 23.238.213.146 3162

Testimony of customer support: http://gm4jr.co.uk/hrd.html

Testimony of QRZ activity: http://www.hamsexy.com/qrzfiles.html

Slashdot: https://slashdot.org/submission/6578039/comapny-disables-software-of-buyer-who-posted-bad-review

The Register: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/12/19/ham_radio_app_bad_review/

Blacklisting question https://web.archive.org/web/20161216083336/http://forums.hrdsoftwarellc.com/forum/hrd-6-x-peer-support-forums/hrd-6-2-other/37452-am-i-blacklisted-for-free-trial-doesn-t-work-my-call-it-does-with-another

Eham.net reviews: http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/3498?page=1

The guys at HRD are not above using the “old version” email database to spam people with “upgrade” offers to the “new” software

Taking on someone else’s code is quite hellish, I know because I have done it. What is clear to me is that you have here are some huge egos with dollar bills in their eyes and little or no passion for a product that is just cash to them, who also have no idea how to program code, who are way out of their comfort zone. Most companies employ helpdesk staff to get shat on for management’s moronic decisions, the schmuck on the end of the phone who has no control over anything that you yell at when things don’t go right, yep, I was one of those too. This outfit didn’t even do that with the code they bought. They foolishly allowed a vindictive dev onto helpdesk whose adopted baby can do no wrong.

Standard practice was once to blame the end-user or Microsoft for software failures, and hey a small percentage of the time even with well written documented code, that will be the case. It’s complicated. Those days are over now though, the model has moved on, and blaming everyone else when your software simply does not work is not going to wash in 2016, release a patch, get with the program or get out.

I return to the lack of ability, the guy who made the original review stated that you could write a patch in a day to sort it out, I believe him to be correct – there are two reasons that isn’t going to happen.

1. Arrogance

2. They don’t know how to

This patch would also have to be re-applied every time MS updates anything as you have no idea what is going to break your obsolete code.
So re-write the code? See item 2.

Here’s the deal when you write code dependent on a operating system you have no control over – you keep up with them or fail. You certainly don’t start blaming everyone else under the sun for your failures, even if the cause is a software change you had no control over. Are HRD subscribing to any tech channels from Microsoft? buy in on any tech support from them? Obviously we are not talking any MSCE certs here – that is the world you buy into if you are a commercial coder for MS systems. If I was to pay $99 dollars or a program that says it can support what I have – I expect it to do so. There are guys selling apps for 79 cents on the app store that have more of a clue.

To the HRD guys if you ever stumble across this – yes you hate it. I would expect that your next move will then be to threaten, write takedown notices, and yell and scream. It doesn’t matter. By then this page will be archived forever, even if you succeed in a takedown or a google strike on a non-US host for what is actually an opinion piece. The ticket is on a google drive now – want to try taking Google to court? The damage is done. You did it to yourselves… and that’s what really hurts. You CAN stop digging at any time.

To those who either get free stuff for support or are paid to support HRD in the forums, (c’mon now, we can all spot you!) and perhaps saddest of all, those who just attempt to defend HRD, I say this: I wish you a great deal of luck, because you will need it. Your world is money and ego based and you will inevitably lose. This is a major victory for anybody who is remotely interested in killing greed and corruption, and those that believe that offering an opinion should not be met with threats, accusations and censorship, just because you didn’t like it. However it is Pyrrhic. There are multiple losers here, the people who paid for a buggy product and in some cases non-existent support, the people who donated to the original program and were cut off, the people silenced by QRZ and ultimately the community that now cannot trust any commercial software or QRZ at all due to ego and greed. There are some winners: Fldigi, the original base of HRD, and open source software that will, if there is any justice in the world at all, utterly crush HRD out of existence, and we all lose what could have been great.

Ham Radio Deluxe is now a byword for why commercial software can never be trusted.

Nicholas Cage – Left Behind – way behind

Oh no, the career car crash is sill occurring – please make it stop.

Left Behind – Oh please yes! the hilarity outweighs the possibility even of death.

His hair is like a bird, yet still the crap continues.

Left behind is an excerable diatribe of almost herculean proportions – I enjoyed Battlefield Earth far more, it had more of a plot line.

Utterly terrible propoganda, and I am not even sure who for.

Risible excrement.

Raspberry Pi – Bare metal and hatred

Aha.. a use for the thing, sounds interesting.. time to research… what is this, a strange phonomenon. Of the many articles I have found about this subject, there seems to be a weird response to the people asking. Hate. I have seen two clear examples on one subject attacking he OP for asking about this subject.

I have a theory.

The people blasting the guy asking (after supplying answers to questions that were not asked) have invested a lot of time and effort in learning about their chosen subject, not only this, but they have earned a degree of ¨guru¨ status on their chosen board/BBS whatever.

They have to appear knowledgable about all aspects of the subject, and here comes some kid asking about stuff that is beyond their knowledge.

They are Board King with 208379 answered questions to their subjects, they MUST ANSWER! their status as a guru is under threat!

So they try and steer the question around to something that they know, and when that does not work – employ the time honoured strategy of humiliation and be-littleling, also emplying the alcolyte army to bully the subject away.

It is not a crime not to know something, nor is it deserving of hate to ask.

This has NOTHING to do with the subject and EVERYTHING to do with little ¨?eroes¨ on their little dung-heaps.

I will try to never behave in this way.

http://kariddi.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/raspberry-pi-bare-metal-part-1-boot.html

Raspberry Pi

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

What an almighty cock-up. First of all, quality control goes out of the window as thousands of boards are produced with the wrong 8p8c connector (the irony) then I wait six months for the order, it arrives and within three weeks there is a better version on sale. You bastards. Add this to the non-open sourceness of the thing as it has proprietary blobs of code in it, and you can stick it. Do not attempt to tell them how you feel, the “board wars” are alive and well, with acrimony, bannings, wailing and gnashing of teeth. I recommend Olimex, they are true open source, no whining, and an industrial quality product. They will happily listen to suggestions from their user group and elsewhere, and their r&d to production is incredibly swift. Raspberry Pi? non merci.