One More Reason To Dump Yahoo Mail

If you have been paying attention to the tech news you would be hearing how Yahoo is looking to sell off some or all of it's assets.  This may concern because if you use yahoo mail it might one day just go away.

I have a yahoo mail account but I do not use it for anything other than junk mail.  Mainly because it has become very slow, does not work reliably and sometimes not at all and now they are starting to play videos in my inbox when I have no mail.  No, they did not ask me if I wanted to watch their videos, they force them on me.  I can click the X and close them but that is an extra step I have to do when I clear my inbox, which is multiple times daily.

Now, yahoo mail is killing my battery.  Yeah, that is right, yahoo is killing my battery.

Let's take a look at a process for Google Chrome before I have logged into mail:

The important thing to note here is that Chrome is not preventing my laptop from going to sleep.  That means if I close the lid or select sleep from the Apple menu, it will go to sleep.

Now let's take a look at the same process after I log in to Yahoo Mail:

Now, Google Chrome is preventing my laptop from going to sleep.  Which means even though I close the lid or select sleep from the Apple menu, by morning my battery is completely dead.

If you are a command line junkie like me, you can also run this command to see what applications (if any) are preventing your Mac from going to sleep:  pmset -g assertions.

Once you run the command, look at the "PreventSystemSleep" line and if it not 0 (zero) then look in the list below for "NoIdleSleepAssertio" to determine which process is not allowing your machine to go to sleep.

If you are still using yahoo mail, it is time to find a new mail provider.  I think I only have 2 or 3 more things I need to move, everything else has been moved, not I really need to move them so I can forget about my yahoo mail account.

The Radio Tower

Since I got back into Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) I have been wanting to put up a tower to mount my antennas on.  I had been making due with some homemade antenna mounts using PVC pipe.  Over the summer the pipes started to bend with the heat and weight of the antennas.

I had been looking around for a used antenna from a silent key (Amateur radio Operator that has passed).  I found one on Craig's List that was never even put into the ground.  It had 4 10 ft sections and the ground post.

This is not a really big antenna tower and looks very similar to a lot of old TV antenna towers.  It is built a bit stronger than those but from a distance it really looks the same.

With the help of my brother in law and step father, the first saturday it got stood up, mounted to the house, guy wires connected and cemented into the ground.  A couple of antennas were mounted but most were put up a couple of weeks later.

First Week (CLICK TO SEE FULL IMAGE)

As you can see we used a rented pull behind man lift which made the process so much easier.  We basically assembled the tower on the ground and used the lift to pick it up assembled and lifted it into the 3 ft hole.  After getting it mounted to the house and putting cement in the hole, things like the guy wires were added and just a few antennas.

2 weeks or so later the rest of the antennas were added.  Again we rented the tow behind man lift from Rentals Unlimited.  That makes it so quick and easy.  It is $250 to rent for the day but it is worth it.  That Saturday I also had the help of my Father In-Law with some of the grunt work like digging holes, etc.

BTW...  I did not mention that I got the 40ft tower and the base for $400.  That is really inexpensive.  The only problem is I do not know who the manufacturer is.

Here are pictures from the completed installation on the 2nd Saturday:

CLICK FOR FULL IMAGE

CLICK FOR FULL IMAGE

You will notice the large bundle of cables at the bottom that look like a mess.  I did clean that up:

CLICK FOR FULL IMAGE

This is the last picture I took.  There is still some cleanup needed in this picture, I did manage to clean it up some more after this picture was taken.  I am still considering adding another 10 or 20 feet to the tower so I have not shortened the cables yet.  If I can ever figure out who the manufacturer is I might grow the tower another 20 feet.

Everything has been grounded and those thin cables you see running into the house have now been replaced with LMR-400 cables to match what is running up the tower.

The main reason I am still wanting to add some height is I am close to the top of a hill, I need just a little more height to get a clear view over the hill.  Particularly for the RocketDish to the MAIPN network.  It is pointing directly at the front of a Catholic Church:

That image is from a camera that is mounted directly below the RocketDish and pointing the same direction.  Just after church the ground drops off into a valley so the church and the few trees around it are what would be impacting my connection to Braddock Heights MAIPN POP.

Here is what I have mounted on the tower as of the time the pictures were taken:

  • The dish is a Ubiquity RocketDish with a Rocket M5 radio that is pointing towards Braddock Heights MD where there is a MAIPN node.
  • At the very top is a 7 band HF vertical antenna.  In the spring I am considering replacing it with a 3 band beam and moving this to the ground.  I have found that this works better with the ground plane actually in the ground vs being high on a tower.
  • There is a 3 band (6m, 2m, and 70cm) on the right top of the tower.  This is currently connected to an ID-880h and is my main D-Star radio when I am not using a hotspot.
  • There is a 2 band (2m/70cm) on the top left.  This is connected to a 50 Watt TYT 9800D and is my primary 2M/70CM FM radio.
  • There is a QFH antenna for receiving weather satellites.
  • There is a 440 antenna and a 2m Jpole that are connected together with an MFJ combiner.  This is connected to a Yeasu radio that is used for experimenting with digital data mostly.  It will be the radio for the high power hotspot and can do packet, etc.
  • There is a homemade antenna for receiving ADSB data from airplanes.
  • It is hard to see but there are also 2 ubiquity IP cameras just under the dish.  One facing the same direction as the dish and the other one facing the opposite direction.
  • There is a Oregon Scientific anemometer, wind direction and temperature and humidity sensor.
  • Down the tower a little bit there is a 80 meter dipole mounted.
  • Not too far below that there is a 40 meter wire antenna (gray box).
  • A little further down are 3 mag mount antennas for 2m/70cm on ground planes.  These are mainly used for experimenting and other random things.  For example:
    • One is connected to a 10 watt VV-898 and used for monitoring or listening to things like APRS, etc.
    • One is connected to an ID-880h and is mainly used to connect to my local hotspot and do some packet radio.
    • One is connected to the my local Open Repeater Project test system.
  • Below the 3 mag mount antennas, there is another grey box, this houses a raspberry pi that has a SDR dongle that is connected to the homemade ADSB antenna at the top.
  • You will also see a Ubiquity 5Ghz AC Sector Antenna pointing into the house, this is for testing the Ubiquity gear.  I will do a post at a later time on that project.

If you want to learn a little more about my Amateur Radio hobby, you can visit the Amateur Radio page under the Projects and Hobbies menu item or just click here.

If you are not an Amateur Radio operator I strongly suggest you check it out.  There is no Morse code requirement any more and the radios are dirt cheap.  The thing is, they will work when the Internet or Cell Phones don't.

Update:

Here is the picture from the other camera mounted on the tower, you will see my homemade ADSB antenna in the picture.


Licensing Your Drone For Real

Back in October I wrote about how I was all for having to license your multi-rotor (remember I do not like the work Drone).

Well, it is official now.  The FAA has developed a licensing program.  If you already have a drone, you have 60 days to register it and for the first 30 days, it is free.  After the 30 day period the cost to register the multi-rotor is only $5 so it is not a bank breaker.

My best hope is that through this process education is a priority.  Although I know that even educating people does not stop the idiots from causing problems.

Here are the rules around the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration Rules:

  1. Any Unmanned Aircraft that weighs between .55 and 55 pounds must be registered in the US, it is mandatory.
  2. You must be a US citizen or legal permanent resident and at least 13 years of age.
  3. If you already have an Unmanned Aircraft that is between .55 and 55 pounds you have to register it by February 19th, 2016.  Between December 21st 2015 and January 20th 2016 registration is free.
  4. If you buy a Unmanned Aircraft after December 21st, 2015, you must register before your first flight.  If you get one for Christmas 2015, remember that registration is free until January 20th 2016.
  5. The registration fee is $5 and each registration is good for 36 months (3 years).
  6. When you register you will need to enter some details like your name, home address, email and some details about your Unmanned Aircraft.  You will be given a registration ID that must be put on the Unmanned Aircraft.  The registration has to placed in a location that tools are not needed to be able to read it.

This registration is only for recreational use, there has been no rules around using it for business use yet.

Also, please note that the FAA refers to Unmanned Aircraft which would also affect remote controlled planes.  Most of the news has been around "Drones" but if you fly remote controlled aircraft of any kind, these rules affect you as well.

Currently, you have to register online with the FAA.  There are plans to open an API that would allow registration to be processed by other applications.  This will provide multi-rotors that are controlled by smart phones, etc to be able to register for you without having to visit the FAA web site.

If you have a $40 quadcopter it might be under the weight limit so be sure to check before you register.  There is a link on the registration page that gives examples of what size needs to be registered.  For me the link did not work unless I right clicked and downloaded it.  Here is a link to the PDF that will give you an example of what does and does not need to be registered: http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/faqs/media/UAS_Weights_Registration.pdf

To register you will need to go to this site: http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/

Registration is pretty painless, so go register your multi-rotor, airplane, etc today.

 

Licensing Your Drone

As most of my readers know, I fly drones and love it.  Recently I have been getting questions on my opinions about licensing drones.

First of all, I do not like to call them drones, when people think of drones they think of something bad, evil or destructive.  The military uses drones to shoot at things.  I prefer either quadcopter or multi-rotor.  I do not even mind if you call a hexacopter a quadcopter.

This may surprise a lot of people but I am all for licensing multi-rotors.  There are a few people that do not respect what a multi-rotor can do.  It is these people that give the bad name to this hobby.

Of course there are times that a multi-rotor can fail and as anything man made that is in the sky, it WILL come down.  But if you respect and prepare any damage can be minimized and probably avoided all together.

I would hope the licensing process would help distinguish the true hobbyist from the weekend terror creator.  I would also hope that the license comes with some kind of training.  I really think that so many multi-rotor owners do not know there is such a thing as a five mile no fly zone around an airport.  Not to mention the no fly zones like say Washington DC. 

Many of the smaller multi-rotors that are sold today also have a very limited control range.  Those lower end "toys" do not have features like return to home, etc.  So most when they go out of range keep going further and further out of range until...  The battery dies and then....  They fall back to earth.

I have also heard so many people worried about their privacy.  There are cameras everywhere these days.  That includes on multi-rotors.  Most of the "toy" multi-rotors have a terrible cameras so not much need to worry about that.  I would be more worried about someone crashing one of those toys into your car.

I do use a multi-rotor to do arial photography and videoghraphy.  By the current rules it is illegal to do that and charge for it.  I hope that in this license process, those rules change because there is a lot of beautiful things on this earth that are even more beautiful with a bird's eye view.

You will find there is a lot of sport around the multi-rotor hobby these days.  There are multi-rotor battles that is done in a square arena, there are races that are officiated that use slalom flags to create a race track and path to follow.  There are non official races that race through woods, etc.  I am sure this sport will continue to grow.

As part of this growth there does need to be "regulation" around the hobby.  I am not a fan of the government getting involved into things like this but, just like had to be done with JetSki's here in Maryland on the rivers.  You have to stop the idiots from hurting themselves and other people.  It is sad that it has to be done, but unfortunately I think it does.

 

Weeks 2 and 3 with COIN

In my last post I mentioned about the new COIN 2.0 and my first week with COIN.  I have had it about 3 weeks now and there are some things that still amaze me and have me thinking about the device from a more nefarious point of view.

First, a quick recap about COIN.  COIN is an electronic device that looks like a credit card.  Not only does it look like a credit card it acts like one too.  You can store 8 of your credit, debit and loyalty cards in COIN.  You pick the one you want to use and the either swipe or tap just like your regular credit card.  And there are other security features, etc.  You can refer to my previous post to get more details.

Ok, so the last 2 weeks since my last post have been interesting.  So far I have only found 2 places where it would not work.  The first one is Lowes when I getting some electrical supplies.  It was at the regular checkout not the self checkout.

The card readers are different at the regular checkout and the self checkout so I will give the self checkout a try next time.

The other place it did not work was Popeyes.  The Popeyes I tried it at has an older small credit card machine that everyone uses, it is not built in to the terminal.  So it might just be the terminal is old, not sure.

Here is the other amazing thing, not one person has questioned it.  That really surprises me and concerns me at the same time.  I have even changed cards in front of a couple of them by pressing the COIN button and still, nothing.

So either COIN managed to get every employee and at every location where credit cards are taken trained on what COIN is or we have become way too complacent with credit cards.  I am leaning toward the latter which would also explain how credit card fraudsters can duplicate a card and go use it at a store to buy products and never even get questioned.

This got me thinking, what if a credit card fraudster put in 8 stolen credit cards into COIN?  Then COIN could be used to run up charges on 8 different cards.  Programming COIN is simple and they even provide you with a swipe reader to scan in a card.

COIN has built in some safety features when entering a new card, things like your zip code, etc.  But, if the fraudster has your card information they probably have that information as well.

Let me just add though that COIN does do a good job at keeping your personal credit card information secure.  If your card is further away than bluetooth range from your phone, you must use your secret tap code to unlock it.  And it does wipe the information if you enter the code incorrectly too many times.  I have experienced that my self so I know it works.

I will post from time to time on my experiences with COIN.

And the Call Sign Changed Again....

My call sign changed again and hopefully for the last time.  When I submitted for a vanity callsign the first time there was some error in processing the payment.  So a few days later I resubmitted a second request thinking the first one was dead and was going to submit a request for a refund.

Apparently both did go through because not long after I got the KB3MM callsign I got another one, K3DO.  More than anything it caused a bunch of confusion with the rapid change of Call Signs.  I liked KB3MM because of the MM was easy to remember for most because they just had to remember Mike Myers for the MM.

K3DO is not bad either, it is a 1x2 that are normally hard to come by so I am not complaining, just that the process of getting a Vanity call was a little confusing.  Now that vanity call signs are free of charge the process may be a little bit simpler.

TeamViewer To Replace LogMeIn

I have been a long time user of LogMeIn.  When I say a long time, since it was released.  After all of those years I had more than 50 machines in my account because I do a lot of remote support for family and friends.

A little while back I got the notification that the maximum number of computer I could have was 10 unless I wanted to pay about $200 a year.  I did reluctantly end up paying the annual fee for a year.

A few weeks back a couple of friends introduced me to TeamViewer.  After playing with it some it is a nice piece of software.  It works differently than logmein but also has some more features.

After I adjusted to the differences on how it worked and how it was structured I really liked what it could do.  It is a more than adequate replacement for logmein.  So I am moving all of the computers that are in logmein to teamviewer.

Teamviewer is free for non commercial use which all that I use it for.  There is a minor nag message at the end of every remote control session reminding you that it is free for only non commercial usage, but that is no big deal.

So I am preparing to say goodbye to LogMeIn for good, it has worked well for me and I hope that TeamViewer works just as well.