The Clever Monkey

Current Events

Oh look. Another abandoned blog.

Trust me when I tell you that when I posted regularly to the self-hosted Old Blog I would often comment on current events. Often those events were technical in nature, given the technical nature of the blog. But there were often little asides or longer mini-essays that had a more political flavour.

This blog isn’t going to do that.

Now that we are Post-Peak-Blog, no one needs to read my hot takes on world events, technical or otherwise.

The only current events I am going to discuss with anyone right now is one that has a mathematical relationship with voltage and resistance, as I have decided to renew my interest in amateur radio and finally get my Basic Qualification. This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was in grade school.

For me, radio scratched the same itch as computer hacking, and to a greater extent still does. That is to say, it is the exploratory technical hacking and understanding that is of most interest, and not actually using radio to communicate with others that is the main drive for me. Don’t get me wrong: I think people are just fine. I just generally don’t want to talk to them most of the time. So, it is likely I’m going to be one of those silent, digital mode, keyboarding kind of hams. I don’t see myself doing much “rag-chewing” on local repeaters for so many reasons. (Sorry, local nets.)

Anyway, because I’ve tried to complete my Amateur qualifications, like, three times in recent history, I also decided on a bit of a whim to take a bi-weekly virtual course hosted by the Annapolis Valley Amateur Radio Club. The idea was that if I take a course I’ll be more likely to actually take the exam. We are close to wrapping up the course, and because it is possible to do so, I am aiming to ace the exam. (I didn’t take the course hosted by my local club because their website wasn’t up-to-date about the course they offer, and I really did this on the spur of the moment; I found a club hosting a course right now and I signed up.)

I will probably continue on to get my Advanced Qualification. Again, mostly just to have it.

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time researching equipment and thinking about antennas and RC circuits and so on. Now, you do not have to be good at math to be a radio amateur. There are just as many reasons to get on the air as there are amateurs. But, as I mentioned, this hobby for me is about the technical hackery. So, naturally, I’ve come right up against my woefully thin maths education. This is something I am acutely aware of given how many of my peers in this town have at least 4 years of university math education from a very well-known and respected mathematics department.

Now, I know I’m not dedicated enough to review all the high-school math I gave up on the first time around, lo, those many decades ago. But I have been trying to fill in the gaps as best I can to get my discrete math and linear algebra to a point where I can know (more or less) what I’m looking at in a Smith chart or thinking about how some vectors on the complex plane relate to each other. But I’m not going to do the homework.

Basically, it’s about being able to use the Python cmath library in GNU Radio with some confidence. Let’s just say I’m going to rely on Google and Wolfram Alpha to help me fill in the gaps.

For some reasons I will probably talk about in the future, many of my previous hobbies are being retired more or less permanently. So there will be less talk about music and synthesis. Instead, that same interest in digital signal processing will be applied in a less artistic manner.

In concert with this new hobby direction, I’ve decided to try and ressurrect this dead blog, and document some of this journey back to my early interests in radio, electronics, and experimental embedded hardware hacking.

I also bought another dead TRS-80 Model 100, so now I have twice as much retrocomputing “fun” to share.