Monday, June 21, 2010

Open vs Closed

Commentary by Cousin QRM

The recent tiff between the German and the Spaniard HQ stations regarding last year's I-R-R-U Contest (motto: Are You? I Are) has dredged up a new re-occurring theme among the contestrati – Open versus Closed Logs. We haven't quite figured out where in the schedule the Open Log debate should fit on CQ-Contest, so its occurrence is still somewhat random.

In this instance, the Spanish HQ team alleged some definitely unkosher behavior occurring in the German HQ team's log after a review of said log. The German's did not appreciate being the focus of this new Inquisition and denied their team did anything wrong. Besides, they couldn't be responsible for the actions of some over-zealous fellow countrymen, and anyway, the Spaniard's log didn't look exactly squeaky clean, either.

One of the outgrowths of this controversy has been a revival of the arguments pro and con regarding making contest logs open to all gawkers. The Open Log contingent argue that contest sponsors should make all logs available for inspection, since there are no secrets to contesting except keep your butt in the chair and work stations, and if you don't want your logs open, just what are you hiding?

The Closed Log contingent point out that the latter argument was used very effectively back in the 1950's by one Senator Joseph McCarthy, a reference that probably loses resonance outside of North America. Some of the Closed Log coterie argue that there ARE secrets in their logs, and they have nothing to do with phony Qs or rubber clocking. Besides, forcing a contester to open his log for all to see violates his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, another reference that loses resonance outside of the North American borders.

Cousin QRM has thoughtfully weighed the points of both sides in deciding where he and the LIDS should come down on this controversy. After careful deliberation, Cousin QRM has decided to side with the Closed Log crowd. It is far too risky that sneaky competitors will glean critical information from a careful analysis of the LIDS logs. Our hard won competitive knowledge, skills and advantages could be easily erased by clever bit-shifters.

In fact, now that this threat has been brought to our attention, we're getting down right paranoid. How do know we can trust the contest sponsors with our log? Once they finish tabulating our score, what else are they going to do with that log? Hey, the log checkers are contesters, too. Now, I don't want to cast aspersions on the many honest, hard working volunteers who do the log checking for all the contests we enjoy. But it only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch, girl, at least according to the Jackson 5. Again, we just can't take that chance.

A contester can be hoisted upon his own petard with an open log, too, as demonstrated by last year's CQWW logs which showed certain Big Guns operating outside of their 160m band allocations. Now, we're all allowed a mistake or two getting too close to a band edge. Just because it wasn't noticed for over two hours during a run doesn't mean it wasn't an honest mistake. Right?

We're also getting worried about those QSL cards we receive following each contest. Could they, perhaps, be a surreptitious way to finagle key portions of our logs out of us? What a brilliant strategy! And all these years we thought we were helping out WAS and county hunting paper chasers. Now, we see the real motive. This goes far deeper than anyone could imagine.

So, effective immediately, Cousin QRM and the LIDS will not be submitting logs for ANY contest, anymore. No logs, no LOTW uploads, no QSLs. Nuthing! No matter how much K5ZD begs, we're not sending in our logs. That doesn't mean we're giving up contesting. Not at all. We'll still be in their fighting just as hard as ever, but we won't send in our logs. Just can't take the chance the wrong eyes might see our award winning secrets. It's a shame too. I'm pretty sure this is the year we will win Multi-Multi on both modes of CQWW. Oh well, guess you'll just have to take our word for it when we announce our claimed score.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Say Cue Feel Day

Next weekend, North American amateur radio operators will crawl from their basement and attic radio rooms, known as 'shacks', and face the bright light of day and oppressive heat of summer to take their radios and antennas to open fields and picnic shelters everywhere to participate in the annual Feel Day.

Feel Day is an exercise to simulate how radio amateurs would function in an emergency situation, such as an extended Internet outage, and would have to actually revert back to the fundamentals of amateur radio, that is, actually using radios. For many amateurs, this is the only time of the year that their monitor glow tan is supplemented through natural means. Sans the modern conveniences of computer control and Internet spotting networks, they are forced to exercise the age old skills of grasping a tuning knob, tuning through a band and listening to signals. These ancient skills have most acutely atrophied among the modern DX'ers and contesters who have perfected the cluster based 'click and shoot' skills so prevalent today. But fortunately, the hand position of gripping a round tuning knob is not significantly different from that used to grip a computer mouse. Although the immobility of the tuning knob has causes some confusion, most mouse-based radio amateurs quickly adapt. Users of trackballs have been reported to have significantly more difficulty adapting to the tuning knob.

Many amateurs find the exercise of ancient skills tiresome and tedious. But they can find relief and comfort in another of Feel Day's tradition - the Feel Day feast. After a grueling hour or two in front of a radio, the weary amateur can retire to the refuge of culinary delights. While the extent of Feel Day feasting varies by group, whether it is a well stocked cooler or an elaborate grilled buffet, one can be certain that it will not include any items made with tofu or with the words 'low fat' on it's label. Some amateurs come to Feel Day and never touch a radio the entire time, but plant themselves at the food tent for the duration.

Whether it's dusting the cobwebs off a J-47 key or dusting off a bowl of campfire chili, Feel Day has something for all radio amateurs. While many spend months planning and anticipating it, after 24 hours outdoors in June battling bugs and Murphy, they understand why it's only done once a year.