Posts

Showing posts from February, 2019

My latest radio purchase: Eton Executive Satellit

A couple of weeks ago, I opened up Facebook Marketplace, which I do from time to time although I had never bought anything on it and one of the suggested items surprised me. In hindsight, it shouldn't have because Facebook obviously knows more about me than I know about myself. It was a shortwave radio and I do love radios. This particular radio is one I had been curious about for a while and the price was insanely low and the seller was just about sixty miles away.

The radio, which I picked up last weekend, is an Eton Executive Satellit. It was being sold as new in box for the insanely low price of $25. That's right, a radio that typically sells for around $110 new, for $25. It seemed too good to be true.

The pictures were of the radio in the box. I asked if it had been tested. It had. The seller had multiple good reviews. I went for it.

And, I'm glad I did. It ended up being exactly as described.


I did place a piece of Dim It Light Dimming Sheet over the display because the display was just too bright for my liking. Since I took this picture early last week, I trimmed the sheet down to the correct size so it's hard to tell it's even there now.

The reviews of this model are a mixed bag so here are a few of my observations:
  • As many of the reviews I read noted, it does mute while tuning, unlike my analog Tecsun PL-660. This results in an almost unpleasant "pop" with every step of the dial (except when fine tuning single sideband). I found it quite annoying at first but oddly enough, I've sort of gotten used to it over the last week and now I barely notice it at all.
  • Compared to my Tecsun PL-660, the noise floor on the Satellit on MW and SW seems lower so it's just more pleasant to listen to. 
  • Scanning shortwave on the Eton Satellit seems more sensitive and is faster than the scan function on my PL-660.
  • Sensitivity on shortwave seems better on the Eton while selectivity is a bit better on the Tecsun IMHO.
  • Switching between slow and fast tuning is easier on the Eton Satellit than on the PL-660 because you just press in the knob on the Satellit to swap back and forth. 
  • The Eton Satellit is on frequency. My Tecsun PL-660 has become misaligned on the airband and FM and my PL-660 has an older firmware that predates the ability to correct this problem. 
  • Aside from the misalignment on the PL-660, airband performance seems equal between both radios although the Satellit has a squelch function which I have not used since the noise floor is so low on it. 
  • On FM, the Satellit is much better than the PL-660. The Satellit even beats my Sangean PR-D4W on FM.
  • The Satellit does have RDS on FM. I turned off the function to set the time using RDS because we have a station here that seems to be transmitting the wrong time via RDS!
  • On MW, the PL-660 is barely edged out by the Eton because of the Eton's lower noise floor. Aside from that, they seem about equal. Neither radio is as good as my Sangean PR-D4W on MW, of course, but all three radios are impressive on MW. The PR-D4W is just at another level. It's an amazing MW radio, the best I've ever owned.
  • Single sideband is sort of a pain on the Eton. I feel like I can find and then fine tune stations faster on the PL-660 although, just like the muting while tuning, I have gotten used to the tuning system on the Eton fairly quickly.
  • The cover that comes with the Executive version of this radio is sort of odd. The antenna has to slip through a hole on the cover. You can't really leave the cover on while using it. The antenna is at an odd angle if you do. I believe the pouch from the non-Executive model would have been more practical but what do I know. 
  • With all of this in mind, I now keep the Eton on the table beside my chair in the living room. It's become my preferred all-around radio.
And, what a bargain I got! It's easily the best radio bargain I have even gotten. 

So, would I have paid full price for the Eton Satellit knowing what I know now? No. 

If I hadn't gotten this deal and instead I had to buy a radio for full price, I would buy a new PL-660 with the latest firmware which allows you to align the radio yourself. Performance between the radios is quite close and the PL-660 is simpler to use overall plus the charging system on it is better. The Eton Satellit is still using the same charging system as the old Eton E5 (Grundig G5) I had that finally stopped working. 

But, the misalignment, which appears to be a common problem with the PL-660, is a real letdown. Luckily, it's just on FM and the airband so I will keep using my PL-660 some for shortwave and the Eton Satellit will be my main, all-around radio with my Sangean PR-D4W being used when I am serious about listening to MW which is usually just about every night!


Sweater repair

I finally had to repair the pockets of my cardigan sweater. The pockets had slowly separated from the sweater and had begun to resemble loose flaps. This was quite unsightly and bordered on embarrassing.

This particular sweater, one of two that I bought on clearance at the local outlet mall, probably in 2003, hangs over the chair in my home office and never leaves the house. I use it on chilly days when I don't want to turn on the heat and on warmer days when the air conditioning is going full blast but I don't want to turn it down because the sun bakes the side of the house where the home office is later in the afternoons.

I've worn it many times and I probably don't wash it often enough but it serves me well and has a nice Perry Como vibe to it.

Here it is, folded back, right before the repair procedure commenced. I used a wonderful product called Liquid Stitch and glued those pockets nicely back in place and then I placed stacks of books on each pocket to apply pressure for a few hours. Sewing them would have required finding a thread that matched and who has time for that? Liquid Stitch has never failed me and is perfect for lazy people like myself.


Don't look too closely at that picture because I am sure you would see corgi hair on there if you did (I just saw one) and I've had to resign myself to having corgi hair somewhere on me at all times. I keep trying to clean it all up but he sheds faster than I can sweep and vacuum.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a second sweater that I bought on that day many years back which is identical aside from being a slightly darker color. It has gone on the lam. It used to live in my bedroom closet and was rarely worn. I guess it was a backup sweater. Don't laugh. Mr. Rogers had a closet full of them but even he could only wear one at a time.

Everyone in the house says they have no idea what happened to it but I am sure one of them took it on a chilly day and misplaced it, hopefully somewhere in the house. I would hate to have it lost permanently and I doubt anyone would have worn it outside of them house since these sweaters are terribly out of style.

Ploink ploink ploink

It is still raining here and I am sitting at the kitchen table, typing this out on my newly-fixed and back in service Asus Transformer (more on that in a bit) and I am listening to the rain coming down. I can hear it hitting the panes of glass on the window beside me and also, I guess, colliding with the deck that is right on the other side. Or maybe that is the sound of the rain making contact with the gutter that runs along just to the upper right of where I sit.

Ploink ploink ploink.

It has been raining for what seems like weeks. We've probably had a foot of rain here this month and dark, gloominess and flooding are our constant companions now. School is out today because they didn't want to risk getting students out of their homes only to have no way to get them back if this is just enough rain to push the creeks and streams into the roads. So far, so good but the heavier rain is still on the way.


Ploink ploink ploink.

I normally don't hear the sound the raindrops make because I am either listening to podcasts (I'm all caught up) or music on the radio or some streaming device (I just didn't think to turn either on when I walked into the kitchen for my cup of coffee and here is the Asus Transformer working again so why not sit down and type out something) but at this moment there is mainly silence which amplifies the ploink ploink ploink.

Oh, yes, you are wondering what happened to my trusty Asus Transformer. I had it installing updates a few days ago and it suddenly powered off and would not come back on. The charging icon would show charging on the screen if I tried to power it on but the power was too low to actually fire up the device. Very odd.

The solution was to take the cover off the device (not for the faint of heart and yes, I did make a little crack but who cares - it's old and no longer under warranty) and then physically remove the battery connector for a few minutes. I guess it was a reboot for the charging system. I plugged it back in and the battery showed as full and the Transformer was completely, eh, transformed from being a useless slab of electronics to a fully working machine again.

But, what a pain. Can you imagine having to do that to an iPad? No, because Apple wouldn't have made a device which requires such an operation from time to time to keep it going.

Ploink ploink ploink.

My coffee is ready. The sound of the rain is nice but I think some jazz would be even nicer so I will return to my desk now and turn on some music.

Dim

It's gloomy here today. In fact, it is so dark at times that I nearly need to turn on the lights and it's not even 1PM yet.

It was a dark and gloomy day. Apologies to Charles M. Schulz.

I resist turning on the lights because I am not a big fan of artificial lighting and I will do as much as I can with as little natural light as is available before giving in and turning on either the drafting lamp attached to my work desk or the small lamp that sits on a dresser directly behind me.

I especially don't like overhead lighting but I'm not exactly sure why.

Maybe it has to do with my wearing glasses for the last four decades and how much brightness and glare seems to bother me more with each passing year.

Maybe I am carrying on a trait of my great-grandmother who would often sit in her chair until it was totally dark, seeing no need to get up and turn on a lamp, which could be quite creepy because I would come home and turn on the light and there she would be, in what was a few seconds before a completely dark room.

Maybe less light just seems more cozy.

So, here I sit, glad that the clouds have thinned out just a little over the past few minutes and I won't have to turn on a lamp, at least for now.

A tale of two tweets

I opened Twitter this morning and found that Frozen 2 was trending. Yep, they released a teaser trailer for Frozen 2 and Twitter went nuts.

Well, kind of nuts. Frozen 2 and other Frozen 2 related words like Elsa and Olaf are trending but only in the thousands of tweets.

Maybe Twitter is losing it's mojo.

Anyway, I thought of something I felt was mildly funny (barely) and tweeted it as follows:
If this was the 80's, they would have called it Frozen Again: Back in the Deep Freeze.

Ha Ha Ha! Right?

<crickets>

I was looking at that tweet and I clicked on the little "View Tweet Activity" and in 30 minutes, I had a very paltry 14 impressions. Of course, I had no hashtags and was doing nothing at all to try to break through the noise of Twitter to viral goodness.

That's when I decided to retool my tweet. I copied it, deleted it, pasted it back and added the official Disney hashtag for the movie and mentioned "Frozen 2" in the tweet. I also made a minor change to the wording of my tweet.
That's how you "win" Twitter folks! Hashtags! Strategery!

Hold on to your seats, folks. This tweet is going to rocket up through the stratosphere.

Or maybe not.

In the nine minutes after I tweeted this version, I already had 53 impressions! I felt pretty good.

Sadly, several hours later I see that I topped out at 72 impressions.

I guess I just don't have what it takes to be a social media guru or tweets have the life span of McDonald's fries.

Is it social media or is it just a website?

I was reading something this morning (that I sadly did not bookmark for later and apparently wasn't memorable enough to remember aside from what I am about to write about) which mentioned what the writer thought was the "Facebook killer" we've all been waiting for when we all know there is no such thing.

This is one I haven't heard of before and I'm not going to share it here because I don't want to be responsible for anyone joining it out of the misguided thought that it is different from any other social media website no matter what they say in their mission statement or whatever they call it.


Unlike Ello, this one is free to start but has charges as you go on. Need more gigs of space than they allow you? You go from free to $5 a month. If I'm paying for space, it's really like I'm paying for a website. When does it stop being social media and start being a website. Couldn't I just create a site like this one right here or buy one over at Wordpress?

Want to have a Messenger-like component? They charge for that. A page for a business or side project? They charge for that also. Etc. etc. I can see how this place could bombard you with pleas to spend money but maybe they won't. I'll never know. I won't be signing up.

Why? Because the format of a site is not the problem. Human beings are the problem. Facebook could be perfectly fine if it wasn't for the people on there sharing garbage and people who share garbage will find a way to share garbage anywhere. And when I say garbage, I don't necessarily mean they are sharing political or inflammatory things. They are just sharing garbage. Pointless garbage. Pointless garbage drives me just as nuts as political opinions and maybe even more so.

Oh, well. Social media sites will come and go. We're only fifteen years into Facebook and about twelve and a half into Twitter.  Something better is out there in the future. Making the exact same thing that is already out there but charging for it is not something better. It's just more of the same.

Experiments in podcasting

I have had an Anchor account since late last year. I had played around with it thinking their app might be a bossjock replacement but luckily, we have Backpack Studio now so there has been no need to use it.

I remembered the account just yesterday because Spotify bought Anchor and Gimlet Media and I downloaded the app again and looked at it but thought, will I ever have a use for this?

Well, this morning, I am on the Discord and told the group that I was on the way to McDonald's and Doug suggested I record that trip so I ended up with a short audio file that I guess I could have made a part of an Up In This Brain episode but I decided to take the opportunity to finally use that languishing Anchor account so here we are - the birth of yet another podcast!


The clips don't blend together as well as I would have liked. I recorded my audio on my iPhone with Voice Memo and imported that clip along with the intro and outro into the Anchor app. I probably could have edited it a bit. I don't know. I just imported and created the file.

Notice there is no episode number either. I think for this little experiment that it will be ok to not track the episode number.

The feed is here:
https://anchor.fm/s/76b24dc/podcast/rss

I know - that's a pretty generic and weird address but Anchor also adds you to Apple Podcasts and Spotify and other platforms. They said it will take two or three days for that to happen.

Also, advertising is on although I don't have enough listeners to qualify, I guess. I would love to hear what ads they put in this. Maybe that will happen eventually!

So, I'll keep it.

I'll use this feed for one-off segments and little weird stuff that I want to share quickly without editing. I'll probably put the Anchor app on my phone so I can record directly into it on the fly and share things immediately when the mood hits.

Three cheers for creativity! Woo hoo! Woo hoo! Woo hoo?

Peeking over the fence

I peek out over the fence into the vast internet as I type this out.

This blog post is my "Helllllllllooooooooo, ooooouuuttttt tttttthhhhheeeeerrrrreeee!?"


I keep retreating back to the blog and away from social media because I am really trying to limit my exposure to all of the noise. And by noise, I mean all of the things I don't want to see and the things I don't want presented to me via angry/uninformed/half-informed/biased social media but instead via a respectable news source, reported on by people with (hopefully) as little bias as possible.

Alan Jacobs wrote about this recently, explaining that he does not have Facebook nor Twitter nor does he watch the news but instead reads the news once a week so he completely bypasses the online outrage over certain events.

I'm too scared to go that long without the news. I find myself having to check in on the news at least a few times a day because I have no news apps on my phone so nothing would automatically notify me if Russian missiles were heading this way or the west coast had been hit with an earthquake and then slid into the ocean.

I don't have news apps because I believe that an automatic notification of either the missiles or the earthquake or many other awful things wouldn't do me a lot of good so why bother? Why get pinged in real time about all of the terrible breaking news in the world? What good does it truly do?

Thanks to social media, we not only get our news delivered instantaneously, we also get it delivered with a healthy amount of biased commentary and a not-so-healthy at times amount of fact.

And, have you noticed that a handful of people ruin your social media feed? I have about six people on Facebook always posting crap I can't stand. Everytime I open the app, it seems like one of their posts is waiting to greet me. Sure, I can unfollow these people but then why be connected there at all? (Note: I have unfollowed a few. They are in my Hall of Fame, digitally shunned forever.)

It's like we (society, or at least our online society) want to be outraged, lashing out at the slightest comment. I am always amazed at the people who will turn something I thought was funny into a reason to respond back with something nasty, negative or sarcastic. When it happens, as it did recently, I retreat a bit more and I'm sure I will think "Why bother?" the next time I see something I think is funny and worth sharing.

I wonder, is it a platform problem or a people problem? I think it's both.

The platform bombards us with data/opinions/gripes/terrible news/etc to the point that we're always on edge and the negative things we see online seem to far outnumber the positive things we see online because the people contributing the most online are the ones spending the most time online and they are the ones the most on edge so it's a vicious cycle of frustration.

I wonder if we have gotten used to this vicious cycle or maybe it's FOMO? Or, maybe it's that the amount of time they have contributed to this online life is now so great that they feel that retreating even a bit would be an admission that some or all of that time was wasted.

Maybe the internet has brought them a community they can't replicate in their personal lives. Maybe they really think that what they are sharing is unique and wise and that they are performing a service for the ignorant rest of us.

I have chosen to retreat quite a bit from social media. I write here and not on Facebook and I open Facebook less and less. What I write here autoposts to Twitter thanks to my robot but I don't have Twitter on my phone.

I still peek over the fence. I toss a few words and podcasts over now and then just to see where they will land but it is nice and comfortable back here so I plan on staying put and maybe even building my fence just a tad higher.

Finally February

The gloomiest month, the big letdown after Christmas month, is finally over.

It's February and the F might as well stand for fool as I am trying to fool my mind into thinking that we're on the way to spring while trying not to think about how we're not even half-way through winter. Maybe, just maybe, it won't be a terribly cold and snowy February no matter what the rodent does tomorrow.

It seems like it's been chilly since October but I think a lot of it has to do with all of the rain we've had since the end of September. In fact, after tomorrow, rain is in the forecast for all of next week starting Monday. Blurgh!

Whatever happens, I'm ready to get out of the house a bit more than I have over the last few days (Thanks, Polar Vortex. Please don't come back.)

The forecast the weekend is:

So, this computer is going to be off (actually, as soon as I hit publish on this post) and I'm going to get out and enjoy this little taste of spring while I can. I hope you have a fantastic weekend wherever you happen to be.