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Spurious Oscillations 
Greetings from my shack...
I was up at 4:30am today.
You’d have thought I could’ve finished this email earlier.
This week’s quest to be productive has been at the expense of the moment. I donated a generous portion of my free time studying impedance transformation, velocity factor and deviation ratios. I can safely say that studying for the Full (and therefore final) amateur radio licence has been the hardest educational journey I can remember. I’ve dipped in and out for the last few months but this last week was intense.
The only thing saving my sanity was having friends found for drinks and the occasional bike ride.
At all other times I’ve been wide eyed and receptive for videos, textbooks and livestreams.
I’ve filled three reporters notebooks with scribblings and calculations, yet when I come to put my new findings to the test, very little seems to have stayed in my brain.
So little in fact I’ve come away feeling I wasted those hours. In my last mock exam I got 50% correct. I definitely over thought that one. Second guessing answers has been my downfall.
So two weeks ago I booked another Full licence exam. I needed a deadline. Something to put the pressure on.
Yesterday morning I woke with clenched teeth after a fitful sleep. I walked the dog via the polling station, had a cold shower, made a pint of coffee and sat in front of two webcams. One in my face and the other looking over my shoulder at my workspace.
On my screen, there were two other Hams taking exams. One doing Foundation and the other Intermediate. If you remember I took my Foundation just before lockdown, my Intermediate in the thick of it and my first attempt at Full late last year.
Back then I was woefully ill-prepared for the latter. Although the first two exams had been a challenge, they were nothing like the Full licence. It was as if written in another language. But I’d now spent weeks learning that language. Plus this time I had a plan. I obviously lacked confidence in my knowledge, so I would bypass that by going with my gut.
I really don’t get on with exams. I started in a cold sweat. Hands shaking. I first answered questions I felt I confident with, then questions that required reading the band plans or licensing conditions on the supplied sheets. This got me a chunk of possible marks in the bag and gave me the confidence I needed to move to the technical problems. After I did them I was left with the heavier maths that required transposing equations and squinting at the scientific calculator. They took me right up to the line. I had a maximum of two hours for the exam and hit the submit button with a minute to spare.
There was a pause after hitting the button and then small words popped up on a big white screen.
Congratulations, you have been successful in this exam.
Through teary eyes I told the examiner Dave my result. Dave Wilson (M0OBW) is former president of the RSGB. He looked almost as pleased as me as he remembered my disappointment at not passing the first time. But no one could be as pleased and relieved as I was in that moment.
A Full Licence is evidence that my radio communication skills and knowledge has been tested to the highest level possible in the UK. My available operating power is now eight times what it was. I’ve unlocked new frequencies to explore in the Microwave and mmWave spectrum. But most important to me is that I can operate globally in over 60 international territories.
I was so happy, elated even. I still am.
I’ve taken up way too much of your time with this, but if I have piqued your interest and you’d like to get involved with radio let me know.
If you’re hacker you definitely should get involved. Here are 10 reasons why. For the rest of you, thank you for your patience. I know how some of you feel about this nerdy stuff.
I watched Sound of Metal.
I thought Riz Ahmed was great. I know the film got mixed reviews but it was certainly worth watching.
A great little short by a student I feel might have been into Adventure Time. Love the style.
Want to make a movie with nothing but cheap kids camera and a screen recorder? (OK there might be some After Effects in this but it’s simple stuff.)
I was linked to this Wordpress based solution to what Substack has to offer on Twitter. I’m very tempted by this solution. The only additional thing that Substack may offer is the ability to put your newsletter in front of more eyes. But they’ve never done that for me [not bitter] so I’ve no idea if that’s enough reason to stick with them.
While in WHSmith I felt compelled to purchase Cyclist Magazine. I subscribe to a couple of papery publications but rarely ever pick them up off the shelf. Seven quid seemed really steep but I took it on the chin as it had a ‘bonus’ mag in with it.
There are a lot of pages, and with at least one third being adverts I wondered why the high cover price. As much as I love trees I have a soft spot for a curated bunch of stuff I could possibly find on the internet in a portable tactile package I can focus on without distractions.
But those ads are hard to ignore. And lots of ads makes for lots of temptation. While I wait for ad-blockers for magazines, I’d like a hacked pair of Google Glass that hovers the words “YOU DO NOT NEED THIS” over every advert. Maybe that’s what Apple is still working on.
It’s been approximately 20 years since I last cooked Pad Thai at home.
That’s probably why I forgot the beansprouts (optional) and a slice of lime (preferred) with this iteration. I also didn’t have any prawns but (get me) I did have some crayfish. Roughly speaking you need… 300g of medium rice noodles, 250g of cray fish, 100g beansprouts, some smashed up peanuts, 2tsp tamarind paste, 1 garlic clove, 3tbsp fish sauce, 1 egg, 2tsp sugar, 2 large spring onions, 2tbsp vegetable oil and a lime wedge that I forgot.
In the 18 or so times I have travelled through Thailand I always went to this one Bangkok street food vender who always remembered me and would serve a bucket of this stuff for 30p. I’ve never been able to make it as well as her. If I ever make it back, it will be to discover her secret.
Actor and friend @RobertIrons (you may have seen him in the Crown) brought this round to mine at the weekend. In the bottle were the remains of the first batch from a brand new local gin seller. This maceration is so small batch it’s pretty much home made.
And very nice it was too.
(The other bottles (wine) he brought round were full. Actors don’t walk around with 3/4 empty bottles of gin. i asked him to save me a bit to taste.)
We sat round the fire toasting marshmallows, listening to cassettes and subduing braincells.
This week I was sent 10 JEFF. It’s a crypto Token made with Rally created by Jeff Pulver. He is asking people to use them to tip the artists he regularly has on Pulver.com. I’m interested to see where this goes. Not thinking of having my own coin Yet.
I must have ordered two bike bells from Wish.com. I love the design of the one on the right but you need to get down to bare handle bar to get it on.
Although a little fiddly to fit, the bell on the left has the longest ring at about eight seconds. It’s now on my bike. Perfect for warning unsuspecting walkers, cyclists or wildlife around a blind corner.
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Ultimately there is nothing like hitting the red button...
Not sure who started this. Probably Tesla. But expect more cars to become software platforms
Yes we still have the Documentally community map
A highway pickle mystery is preserved in Missouri
Cycling is ten times more important than electric cars for reaching net zero cities
What working on a farm taught a journalist about visual storytelling
A pigeon guided missile
Thanks for reading.
Last week I didn’t tell you I had a massive exam as I didn’t want the pressure of you knowing. Next week I’m receiving a massive delivery of pebbles incase you are free and have a shovel.
I’ll also be sticking the study books on the shelf and taking down something a little more interesting to read.
Have a great week(end)!
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” ~ Annie Dillard
Live and learn.
See you out there.
If we do go to war with France i’ll be coordinating the wine and cheese smugglers via radio. Let me know if you have a boat and want in.