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Elon’s 8

In a recent interview Elon Musk listed the 8 books that were most influential for his life. I list them here as much for me as for anyone who happens on this post. This is my new reading list. Not that I will be building rockets to Mars but they  certainly will bolster my geek cred.

Imagine my surprise that I’ve already read a couple of them (actually since #8 is a trilogy I’ve read 4).

  1. Structures: Or Why Things Don’t Fall Down” by J.E. Gordon

  2. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” by Walter Isaacson

  3. Einstein: His Life and Universe” by Walter Isaacson

  4. Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies” by Nick Bostrom

  5. Merchants of Doubt” by Erik M. Conway and Naomi Oreskes

  6. Lord of the Flies” by William Golding

  7. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel

  8. The “Foundation” trilogy by Isaac Asimov

    1. Foundation
    2. Foundation and Empire
    3. Second Foundation

More stuff for my Kindle!


Web Masters: does your robots.txt file check out?

I discovered a new tool today and in discovering it, I found that I needed to make some corrections to some of my sites.

The file robots.txt that sits quietly at the root of most web sites tells spiders what they can index and what they cannot. All responsible search engines respect what the robot.txt file tells it to search and what not to search. This file doesn’t, in any way, actually restrict your web site’s subdirectories from prying eyes but it does help the good guys to concentrate on the good stuff and not waste their time on the stuff you don’t want out there.

There is a particular syntax for robots.txt. It is not extensive but I was surprised that some of the software that I was installing didn’t respect what little syntax there is.

I discovered a web page that will check the syntax of your robots.txt file and let you know what needs to be corrected. Just go to http://tool.motoricerca.info/robots-checker.phtml and enter your web site name followed by robots.txt and you will receive a page that verifies the syntax of your robots.txt file and let’s you know what, if anything, needs to be corrected.

APRS on Yaesu FTM-400 not transmitting beacon

OK. I’ve been frustrated that for some reason my FTM-400 stopped transmitting the beacon. I would monkey with settings and test again and I would never show up  at APRS.FI. Dang. I had it working but for some reason it stopped.

Today I stumbled upon the solution. It was not necessarily the explicit settings but one that is usually missed in the instructions. At a later date I will give some more details of my APRS settings but for now I will just describe what I was doing wrong.

There are quite a number of web sites that describe the settings in pretty good detail. They walk you through the configurations in the APRS and the DATA menus and the frustration was that I followed them but had no luck. The one thing that was not described to me was the squelch.

Perhaps to some of you it is a no-brainer and now to me it is a Homer Simpson Doh! moment.

There is a setting under Data:

  • Press and hold the DISP/Setup button for one second to show the setup menu.
  • Select and touch the [DATA] button  and the menu list will be displayed
  • Number 4 is the [4 DATA SQUELCH] option.

There are two choices. RX BAND and TX/RX BAND. I set mine for TX/RX BAND.  I tried both but neither seemed to make a difference.

I neglected to check my squelch level on the band (Band B) I was using for APRS. If your radio detects activity on the band you are using it won’t interrupt that activity to send an APRS beacon. Band A and Band B squelch is set separately. I found that my squelch was turned all the way down on Band B so I was always hearing background noise on that Band. The Data Squelch Condition never detected an open frequency upon which to transmit. Once I turned up my squelch so that only a clear signal, would activate the Band, only then could my APRS find space to transmit.

  • From the main screen touch [SQL] from the bottom menu.
  • On the bottom of each Band the Squelch level will display in yellow.
  • Using the dial on the right of the Band you want to adjust, turn up the squelch until you no longer hear the background noise.

As soon as I corrected this my radio sent out a beacon and my position showed up on aprs.fi . Having fixed this now I can experiment with the other settings for APRS.