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Archive for August 2011

Review: Wouxun KGUVD1P dual band radio – the age of disposable amateur radios?

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Are we entering the age of throw away hand-held Amateur Radio’s?

At a price of about $100 the dual band Wouxun radios look like throw-away’s. There is a place for a these cheap radios just like there is a place and a market for cheap (inexpensive) cameras, cell-phones, and any other consumer electronics device that one might want to use in high risk situations.

For example, you might want to take an inexpensive camera on a camping or fishing trip. You might make a decision to put a $100 camera at risk but not a $1500 digital SLR. You might want to listen to music when you workout at a health club or running.  But perhaps you leave your $400 Apple iPod Touch at home and take the $30 generic MP3 player instead –  just in case it gets dropped, smashed, or otherwise destroyed.

The same idea can be applied to the Wouxun family of dual-band hand-held radios. At about $100 these are nearly disposable radios that can provide some good functionality at low-cost. These are radios that you can take on camping trips, fishing trips, base jumping or any other activity where the outcome and risk to consumer electronics devices might be uncertain – at best.

Note: This posting is primarily directed to an amateur radio audience.  No technical background information is given.

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Written by frrl

August 28, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Cultural mesh of Google and Motorola – not so fast, says Google

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A search term of “motorola google culture clash” typed into Yahoo yields 239,000 results. Do you think that a good number of people think there is going to be something interesting taking place with Google’s $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility?

Earlier this year, Motorola split into Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions. Sanjay Jha is chief executive of Motorola Mobility.

From the Wall Street Journal

Mr. Jha’s cultural transformation will be put to the test with the tie-up of two companies half a continent apart, each a product of distinctly different eras. People familiar with Motorola’s inner workings say there is still a big gap from the culture at Google, a child of the Internet age that helped pioneer a free-wheeling style that values improvisation. Though Motorola delivered some hit cellphones, for example, others were slowed by a bureaucratic layer of middle management and little innovation from rank and file workers, say some current and former employees.

Some of the Motorola employees are looking forward to the Google culture. But perhaps, not so fast – from the Google perspective.

Sanjay Jha says that the Motorola culture and the Google culture will “mesh really well”.

Mr. Jha said on Monday that the two cultures will mesh “really well,” but that both companies can learn from each other. “Every culture which is successful gets a certain pride in its cultures and sometimes being challenged is a good thing,” he said.

That seems the opposite of the expectation of a Google spokesman.

Regarding cultural differences, a Google spokeswoman said: “This story is searching for a problem that does not exist. As we have said repeatedly, we intend to run the company as a separate entity.”


The last thing that any culture wants is to be challenged – whether it is a good thing (for who?) or not. To perhaps over simply things a bit, Google is a culture of free wheeling innovation while Motorola is a staid culture of bureaucracy; Google is a culture of meritocracy while Motorola is a culture of entitlement. Last year Google made $8.6 billion for its investors while Motorola lost $86 million for those willing to continue to hold Motorola shares. How much of this financial result is due to culture and the quality of its workforce and executive leadership?

So it’s easy to understand why Mr. Jha of Motorola Mobility would want Google to challenge the Motorola culture to be more innovative.  But it is equally clear why Google would not want Motorola to challenge the Google culture into a sense of entitlement.  So, in the end, “mesh really well” is a benefit to Motorola and a risk to Google.  It seems Google is not willing to take the risk of what is embedded in the Motorola culture.  They will keep Motorola at a safe distance – run ” as a separate entity”, according to Google.

“probably the hardest thing I’ve ever faced in my working career.”

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Written by frrl

August 21, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

FLDigi: Decode HF Digital modes with no cables and maybe no radio

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I heard  a few people talking about a program called FLDigi.  So I thought I would see what it’s all about.

The good news is that FLDigi runs on lots of platforms – FreeBSD™; Linux™, OS X™ and Windows™.  The better news, if you just want to listen/decode the digital modes, is that you might not even need any messy connections between your PC and your radio.  And, if you are really clever, you might not even need a radio.  So, “in the best of all possible worlds”, Dr. Pangloss, you can decode real-time digital activity on the HF bands without even having a radio.  Imagine that!

Note:  This posting is primarily for Amateur Radio folks.  No technical background on digital HF modes is provided

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Written by frrl

August 20, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Review: La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger

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Update: 20 Aug 2011:  This charger has the pesky under-voltage/reverse-charged problem.  That is, if you put in a battery that is below a certain threshold voltage the charger shows “null” in the LCD display and will not charge the cell.  The solution that I found that works is to use a “dumb” charger and put a charge on the cell (about 10 min) then put it in the BC-9009.  Smarter charger will pulse charge the cell at very low current.  If the cell takes a charge beyond some threshold then a standard charge cycle will begin.

You probably have a collection of old battery chargers around.  I bought a new charger each time I acquired some sort of unique battery technology.  For example, I have a collection of Rayovac 15 minute charge 2000 ma batteries; those require a special charger.  Nothing like pumping massive amounts of current into a battery.  I have a collection of 1 hr charge Duracell batteries  and that came with a special charger.  And then I have a whole history of Ni-Cad technology batteries and chargers.  I have a drawer full of battery chargers.

All the chargers I have a pretty much do the job but they do it secretly and silently.  They don’t tell you much about anything.

So, when I bought some new Sanyo Eneloop batteries I thought I might upgrade my charger.  When I ordered the Eneloop batteries from, Amazon was johnny on the spot with a few recommendations.  One of the recommendations was the La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger.  Now here is a charger that wants to tell you things.

At a price point of $45 you get a lot of stuff.  Not only do you get the battery charger but you get a collection of batteries, battery holders, and a nice bag.

Included with the package is four AA 2600 mA batteries, four AAA 1000 mA batteries and 8 Battery carriers for C and D cells.  The advantage of the carriers is that it allows you to use an AA battery in a C or D battery form factor.

My GE Super Radio wants four D cells.  I could never bring myself to buy rechargeable D-cells so the radio has only run on AC power.  Now, with the D-cell carriers included with this charger I can put the (included) 2600 mA AA batteries in the GE Super Radio using these carriers.

Did I mention the bag?  Nice bag.  I think I will use it to carry by digital camera and accessories.

So what’s the big deal with the La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger?

The big deal is that at a $45 price point you get this

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Written by frrl

August 14, 2011 at 4:38 am

Review: Kindle vs iRiver Story HD Ebook Reader

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It’s the battle of the Ebook readers.  While I am still struggling with the whole concept of Ebook readers you can take a watch of this very comprehensive side by side comparison of the Amazon Kindle versus the iRiver Story HD Google Ebook reader.

One notable difference I will mention is that the iRiver does not have audio capability.  For some, the capability for an Ebook reader to read (text to speech) a book to you is really a huge win – not to mention that the Kindle can play  MP3 files and also surf the web with its built in web browser.

This is a very long hands-on review of 45 mins.  So, get a cup of coffee and take a watch.
(Spoiler: want the bottom line – skip ahead to minute 40 of the video)

From Dave over at the EEVblog.


Bonus – Tear down of the iRiver –

Written by frrl

August 3, 2011 at 6:27 am

The C-word: Consensus

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How many times have you heard the C-word – you know, Consensus?

In a corporate environment you hear that this or that team or committee will meet to reach a consensus on this or that topic or decision. Is consensus-building always a good paradigm for decision-making?

I remember a quote by Margret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the UK…

Consensus is the absence of leadership

What is the case against consensus decision-making?

The case goes like this… If teams are assembled to plan initiatives, agree on direction, and agree on the means of achieving goals they will act together to take the hill.  But perhaps, maybe, the opposite occurs.

Once a corporate culture rewards consensus building then the majority of people in the company or on a team recognize that the straightest path to success in that organization is to conform to prevailing views or conventional wisdom as opposed to challenging them.  And the prevailing views may be those foisted on the team or company by the obsolete  icons of the past, the loudest people in the room, the team bully, or the worst case the cadre of corporate sociopaths ( read about the 1 in 25 here)

Does it does matter who is right? Or has the truth or can demonstrate its veracity?  Do you just “agree with the majority” – even though you disagree – just to “get along” and conform to the corporate policy of “consensus decision-making”?

Anyone who has seen the classic movie “Twelve Angry Men” from 1957 knows what I mean

In that movie,

12 Angry Men explores many techniques of consensus-building, and the difficulties encountered in the process, among a group of men whose range of personalities adds intensity and conflict… The jury of 12 retires to the jury room, where they spend a short while getting acquainted before they are called to order. It is immediately apparent that they have already found the defendant guilty and intend to return their verdict to the court without taking time for discussion–with the sole exception of Juror number 8 (Henry Fonda). His is the only “not guilty” in a preliminary vote.

The jurors get to the jury room, its hot and muggy, and they all have other things to do later that day. The initial consensus is that the guy is guilty.  They vote and there is one hold out of “not guilty” – that’s juror number 8 – played by Henry Fonda.  As the movie progresses, Juror number 8 fights the consensus of the other 11 jurors and eventually wins them over through careful analysis and challenges to already held beliefs about the situation of the case.

Consensus Decision-making is really a pact

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Written by frrl

August 2, 2011 at 4:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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