Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Listen to Ham Radio Online with the ETGD WebSDR

June 1, 2013 1 comment

I just discovered the fascinating Wide-band WebSDR operated by the amateur radio club ETGD at the University of Twente in the Netherlands.

websdr board

PA3FWM built a fascinating wideband SDR using a Xilinx FPGA, high-speed ADC and gigabit Ethernet interface to receive most of the entire shortwave and amateur radio bands at once and allow tuning and processing in software via an HTML5 or Java web browser.

websdr capture

I’m listening to a station on 9760 kHz right now, which is broadcasting what sounds like classical choral hymns and dialog in Italian and Latin, so it could be a Vatican shortwave broadcast station. The interface is easy to use, and right now 142 users are tuning in from around the world.

It’s definitely worth checking out. I like shortwave listening but even with a great converter and my RTLSDR, my location just isn’t optimal for receiving the kind of signals I’m interested in – this web option is a lot of fun to go exploring.

Odd Web Site Behavior

April 16, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m moving towards hosting the majority of my content on an on-premises server, versus the mix of hosted services I’m using currently. I’ve been running into some issues, though, that maybe one of you who is reading could help with…

The issue appears to be: some users, for no particular reason I’m able to identify, are unable to access any of my web sites.

My web domains are pointed at my server’s public, static IP address. The DNS records are valid, and DNS resolution works as expected always returning the correct address. The server responds to ping, and can complete a trace route. But, for users who this problem effects, it’s as if the server doesn’t respond. From my mobile device, for instance, I receive an Error 504 Gateway Timeout, the cell phone network’s caching proxy can’t receive data from my server. Port scanning reveals the ports are open and accepting connections on the server, but bonnection requests time out with no received data from a system on a Time Warner connection, as well.

This is all occurring while other users are logged in and actively using some services, so it seems unlikely to be an issue with the server itself failing. Even more vexingly, it’s intermittent. My mobile web site was working yesterday. It is not working today, from my cell phone.

If anyone has troubleshooting suggestions, I’d love to hear them.


Categories: Commentary, Computers, Internet


October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Twitter failed. Hard.

July 26, 2012 Leave a comment

So badly, in fact, it looks like their scripting mark-up isn’t even being processed.


Not what I expected to see from such a web giant.

via Boing Boing

Free Mapping and Tracking for Android [My Tracks]

May 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Beautiful weather has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest and I’ve been taking advantage of it as often as I have time. One thing about living where it’s grey and rainy for so much of the year, it really almost forces me to go outside and be active when it’s nice out. I’ve been riding my bike around, and wanted an easy way to keep track of my stats like speed, distance, which trails I was riding and altitude. Turns out there’s a free and easy way that integrates well with Android: Google My Tracks

My Tracks uses your phone’s GPS to record your position and plots it on a map, where you can upload it to Google Maps or export your track as an industry-standard KML file for analysis in another application.

You get a print out of your statistics at the end, and can optionally insert markers with interval statistics on a custom schedule. The app has been around for a few years but has become much easier to use lately. My last ride was 12.9 miles long at an average moving speed of 7.5 miles per hour:

Total distance: 20.78 km (12.9 mi)
Total time: 2:56:35
Moving time: 1:43:56
Average speed: 7.06 km/h (4.4 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 11.99 km/h (7.5 mi/h)
Max speed: 34.62 km/h (21.5 mi/h)
Average pace: 8.50 min/km (13.7 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 5.00 min/km (8.1 min/mi)
Min pace: 1.73 min/km (2.8 min/mi)
Max elevation: 179 m (589 ft)
Min elevation: 93 m (304 ft)
Elevation gain: 984 m (3228 ft)
Max grade: 12 %
Min grade: -17 %
Recorded: 5/26/2012 12:21 PM

The application also integrates with a Polar brand heart rate monitor over Bluetooth to record heart rate statistics along with the other information. I don’t have that option yet, but plan to add it fairly soon. This is a great free app that everyone should know about. It’s not just useful for mapping a trail, either – you could use it to mark where you left your car, see where you’ve been in an amusement park, or record the location of interesting landmarks you see while wandering around the city. Check it out!

My Tracks

Don’t Let Congress Destroy the Internet

November 16, 2011 Leave a comment

I tend to stay away from political commentary on my blog, but this is too important not to talk about. The PROTECT IP act currently the subject of hearings in Washington, D.C. is set up for a fast-track to pass. Testimony from the technology industry is being prohibited in the committee, so technologists and infrastructure companies aren’t being allowed to have any say in the bill that will effectively set up the “Great Firewall of America” and allow Hollywood to become the ultimate arbiters of what content isn’t allowed to be posted online, backed up by the Department of Homeland Security. Unless the possibility of spending five years in Federal prison because you posted a video of yourself singing a cover of a pop song to YouTube is something you enjoy, it’s time to take action.

Send this form letter, or write your Congressman a personal message. Don’t let the Government, in partnership with the entertainment industry, execute a power grab possibly exceeded only by the PATRIOT act.

Google just killed Google Reader – and they don’t even understand why.

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Yesterday, Google officially rolled out the “much anticipated” (by them, perhaps) revisions to Google Reader which removed most of its compelling functionality and added integration with their social network Google+.

We hope you’ll like the new Reader (and Google+) as much as we do, but we understand that some of you may not. Retiring Reader’s sharing features wasn’t a decision that we made lightly, but in the end, it helps us focus on fewer areas, and build an even better experience across all of Google.

I’ll start off with the glaringly obvious usability features. The first one, of course, was best expressed by an anonymous Internet comment that it “looks like a browser with the stylesheets turned off”. It’s mostly white, with a handful of navigation buttons around the top, and an excessive amount of whitespace. The navigation buttons have been rearranged and are in a row along the top, where the previous and next item buttons were previously at the bottom, and the new code doesn’t prefetch as well or scroll as smoothly. Result? It takes a lot longer to get through items. This is a big problem if you use Reader like I do. I skim the contents of about 250 feeds every day, for between 1000 and 2000 news items, but only spend time reading the most interesting ones. It’s taking me between 2-4x as long to get through my unread items as it did previously.

The worst issue, though, is that it’s removed the social functionality from Reader and forces you to use Google+ for your news item discussion. The discussion about this fact seems to center about the fact that it’s not obvious about how to share your new items, to the point where former Google Reader product manager Brian Shih trashes the new revision:

“It’s as if whoever made the update did so without ever actually using the product to, you know, read something. Reader is a product built to consume information, quickly. We designed it to be very good at that one thing. G+ is an experience built around browsing (similar to Facebook) and socializing. Taking the UI paradigm for G+ and mashing it onto Reader without any apparent regard for the underlying function is awful and it shows,” says Brian.

Google, of course, attempts to counter this argument but completely misses the mark. They released a nice blog post showing how to share an item more easily, because it’s a bit non-obvious.

The fundamental flaw, though, isn’t that it’s more challenging to share an article. The real flaw is that it’s now 100% more difficult to actually have a social discussion about the articles you’ve shared.

“Old” Google Reader had a convenient view of showing who was in your sharing circle and highlighting comments they’d made, seen in this WebProNews screenshot:

“New” Reader completely lacks any commenting functionality built in. This means you need to visit 2 different web sites to have a discussion. One web site to read and share the content, and another web site to talk about it with your friends. That’s a 100% increase in the number of steps needed to have a discussion. Trying to make reading the news more social by making it more difficult to have a conversation about the items, is extremely counter-intuitive  at best. Mostly, though, it just reinforces what Brian Shih said above: that they don’t know what they’re doing.

Reader Comment threads were something I looked forward to every day. They’ve been effectively eliminated from my life at this point. Many of the people following my Reader feed specifically preferred not to sign up for Google+, and even the ones who are “users” of Google+ use it in the sense they log in once a week to see how little content there is and feel better about not using it.

I’m not surprised they’ve taken this approach to drive new traffic to Google+ – it’s been in a pretty sharp decline since it was released. They just waited too long between announcing it, and opening it to the public, combined with the fact that it makes a lot of people nervous to have one company with complete access to e-mail, web search behavior, photos and social networking all in one place. Facebook is enough of a privacy nightmare, being specifically designed to break European data protection laws (things we don’t have in the United States) but at least they can’t read my e-mail, too.

I really think this is the end of my time on Reader. Many of the people I previously talked to, just won’t be signing up for Google+ to continue using it. I have no reason to use Reader in Google+ if I don’t have anyone to talk to, and my Reader shares have always been restricted to a very close-knit, hand selected group of people. Now I’m looking for an open-source replacement we can migrate to on an open server. If anyone knows of one, let me know.

Goodbye, Google Reader. We’ll all miss you. And I don’t think Google is going to learn anything from this experience, either.


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