Another update to QSOSender3

Back in June I wrote a post about releasing an update to QSOSender3 — an application for Android that simulates ham radio QSOs using Morse code. I had some requests for additional functionality and noticed a few odd user interface and grammatical behaviors by the program, so I’ve released a new version of QSOSender3.

This version will allow you to paste in text or save generated QSOs to retrieve later. I received a request by someone to add this functionality since somehow they used the program during contests, so I thought “why not?” The program can now store four text fields worth of information. I wonder if anyone will try and read a short story in Morse, if so they are better than me.

I can’t imaging what else the users of the program may want, but people keep sending in requests so I try to address them.

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Virtual new caster – What will it mean for ‘the news’?

When I saw this report of the China state news agency Xinhua introducing AI anchors. I had to comment on it. Chinese viewers saw a simulation of a regular Xinhua news anchor named Qiu Hao. There were examples of the simulation speaking Chinese as well as English. I can see how this would be a very efficient way to produce a news program in a number of languages, but it does edge into the uncanny valley. The simulation is not perfect but self-driving cars were viewed as unlikely at the turn of this century.

I do worry a bit about what effect this will have on the current “opinion as news” trend that seems to be taking over many news outlets. I don’t know about you but I am seeing more and more opinion and less facts presented to enable me to make up my own mind about events.

National Cyber Strategy of the United States of America

securityIn case you’ve not heard about it, the White House released the PDF – National Cyber Strategy of the United States of America.

I’ve not read through the whole thing, the intro starts out with

America’s prosperity and security depend on how we respond to the opportunities and challenges in cyberspace. Critical infrastructure, national defense, and the daily lives of Americans rely on computer-driven and interconnected information technologies. As all facets of American life have become more dependent on a secure cyberspace, new vulnerabilities have been revealed and new threats continue to emerge.

Looks like a document worth understanding.

It defines four pillars for a national approach to cyber-security:

  1. Protect the American People, the Homeland, and the American Way of Life
  2. Promote American Prosperity
  3. Preserve Peace through Strength
  4. Advance American Influence

It will be interesting to see how the impacts of actions along these lies will be measured and felt — something technologists should watch.

Crafting a Cantilevered Wine Holder

You’ve likely seen these around:IMG_20180822_070319596

Cantilevered wine holders are a decorative way to display a bottle. We were doing a fund-raising activity, so I made a number of these and decided to document in detail the process to build the wine holder. Only a few bottles were killed during the creation of this document

If you make one, let me know. If you see anything you’d do differently, I’d like to hear about that too.

Life lessons learned

listenThe other day I was asked a question: If you were to tell a group of students what key takeaways you would have to share, what would they be?

I thought for a moment and replied:

1)      Listen – You’ll never learn unless you listen to what’s being said and going on around you. The answer is not always ‘yes’ and that’s one of the reasons iterative development is so prevalent. The more you listen, internalize and appreciate, the greater opportunity to understand even more.

2)      Continue to sharpen the sword – Today, the word is ever changing. Everyone needs to keep learning and improving. There are always new areas to explore and skills to develop. Besides, it keep life interesting too.

3)      Leaders must have followers – If you want o be a be a leader, you need to cultivate your network. One great way to have support, is to first support others. The concept of the servant leader can be critical. Closely related to being a leader, is the need to always have an opinion. It may not always be right, but you will never be able to validate your perspective unless you actually state it – and then listen to other’s perspective. It is better to hop on and help steer, rather than to stand-in-the-way of progress.

That was a quick, stream of consciousness perspective. I’d be interested in your view of lessons learned about self-development you’d share with others.

Laser scribing for Woodworking

Recently, I’ve started a new area of experimentation – laser scribing inserts for woodworkers. Below are a few examples of my initial efforts:

IMG_20180810_051946406These are one inch wooden slugs that have been laser scribed with an image and some text.  My neighbor and I invested in this device together and in order to get our investment back, we’re planning to charge $1.50 per wooden coin for those using an existing design. If someone wants their own graphic, they can send it to me. It will be an additional $15 (one time) for me to set it up. If they want exclusive use of that graphic, it will be $20.

Embedding a wooden coin like this into the back of a project can really set it off and show the pride in your work.

It has been a crazy month

Since the last time I blogged, I have become a board member and performing the role of Advanced Training Director of the Sun City Hilton Head Woodworking and Modelmakers Guild. These are volunteer positions, but that doesn’t mean they don’t keep me busy.

There are over 800 members of the guild. We are in the process of rolling out Eventbrite to manage the scheduling of our training classes. By my best estimate (just for Advanced Training), there are approximately 140 training sessions, across 45 classes and 25 unique topics, before the end of the year. It’s a pretty active group.