I’ve been digging through a lot of web pages about some Ham Radio topics the past day or two. Digging is a good description, as I could use a shovel to help out.

I’ve been trying to learn a few things about APRS and Packet Radio. I’ve been away from them for a long time. Actually, I never tried APRS, but I was quite heavily into Packet at one time and APRS uses packet radio. I still have equipment that I should fire up and play around with.

But in preparation for my bike tour, I ordered a new radio that has a TNC and GPS built into it. It is supposed to be a self-contained APRS station. So I have been looking for information to prepare me to use it.

It’s not that there isn’t information out there. There is almost too much and there is no way to figure out what is good and what is bad.

I don’t know what it is about Hams, but they – in general – make lousy web pages. First, there is no clue to the information’s age. Some of what I’ve found, I would guess has been there, unchanged, since the late ’90s.

And try to find software. I don’t know anyone who still uses DOS, but there are plenty of Ham packet programs for it out there. Most of the packet and APRS programs I find references to either go to pages that no longer exist, or tell me little or nothing about the program. One highly recommended APRS program was free, but I had to join a Yahoo group to download it. Others start right out in an esoteric discussion without telling the basics, or letting me know what the program will do for me.

Then there are the sites themselves. Folks, monitors have gotten wider. We don’t use 640×480 screens any more. Why do they design the blandest of web sites with endless text stretching from the left edge to the right edge of the screen? My neck is getting sore from scanning back and forth and I’m getting dizzy! And the gray background went out with the Mosaic browser.

Maybe they want to be able to use their packet stations to read the web sites?

It seems as if they want to be known as technology pioneers, yet they are so slow to adopt much of it, that they come off as Luddites. I’ve seem more “Website Built using Notepad” badges in the last day than I have in the last year. Sure you can make a website with Notepad, if you know what you are doing… These people need every crutch they can get.

I’m just sayin’…

I stepped back from that part of Ham Radio a few years ago and am returning to it again. It’s like I haven’t missed anything and nothing has progressed.