Posts categorized "Miscellaneous"

2 Days Left To Comment to FCC About Ham Radio Usage In Emergency Communications

FCC logoTo all my friends and readers who use amateur (ham) radio, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking comment on the use of Amateur Radio in emergency communications such as disaster response.


As the FCC public notice states:

the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC or Commission) Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau seek comment on the uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio Service communications in emergencies and disaster relief. As set forth below, comment is sought on issues relating to the importance of emergency Amateur Radio Service communications and on impediments to enhanced Amateur Radio Service communications. Stakeholder entities and organizations, including the Amateur Radio, emergency response, and disaster communications communities, are particularly encouraged to submit comments.

The public notice goes on to pose a series of questions around the importance of amateur radio in emergency communications - and a series of questions around the impediments to enhanced amateur radio communications.

Later in the document it explains the filing process, including the manner in which comments can be filed electronically over the Internet.

I'm not a ham radio user myself, although I've always had an interest but just never made the cycles to go through the process. I have, though, seen the incredible use that has been made of ham radio in emergency situations.

If any of you have opinions on the questions raised by the FCC, they'd like to hear from you!

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My MacBook seems to be stuck in "Borg emulation mode" (red light) with no access to the built-in speakers

200709290557So it seems I've done something to mightily mess up my new MacBook Pro. The other night while in my hotel room at AstriCon, I was using my headset for some Skype calls and then had it in when I started to play some music. Wanting to listen on the built-in speakers, I just pulled the headset out and was then surprised to hear no audio. If I plugged the headset back in, I could hear audio fine. Remove it, no audio. It was about then that I noticed the red light coming out of the side of the MacBook Pro. I didn't know what this was and tried several other things before finally just forgetting about it.

The next day at AstriCon, I was on the IRC backchannel when someone else in the same physical room as I was figured out who I was and then asked why my MacBook had a red light coming out of the side. In further discussions with others on the channel, it turns out that Apple has done something that on one level is rather cool. They've overloaded the functionality of the headphone jack so that it is both a regular 1/8" audio jack and also a S/P-DIF "digital output", essentially an optical connection. I'm assuming you'd do this if you had high-end audio equipment and wanted a very pure signal going out to that equipment.

In any event, I seem to be stuck in S/P-DIF mode with no access to the internal speakers. I'm not alone, though, as I found two other mentions (here and here) in the Apple Support forums. But, get this, the answer seems to be:

simply take the headphones and place them in and out the socket until the light goes off.

Yes, indeed - keep plugging and unplugging your headphones until the MacBook clues in to the fact that you don't have a S/P-DIF cable connected! They were joking, right? Apparently not, because one person said this fixed it for them.

Alas, this did not work for me... I inserted and removed my headphone jack a dozen times with no effect. In fact, I took out another headset and tried it a dozen times, too. Tried different intervals. Thought about trying to say some magic words. (The words I was saying would be unprintable in a family magazine.) Looked around for a goat I could sacrifice while bowing in the general direction of Cupertino but couldn't find any (and that would be rather messy in a hotel room in any event)...

So there I am... with a MacBook that still looks like something out of the Borg of Star Trek, beaming it's read light at all around me. I did try mucking around with the MIDI settings, which others seemed to say fixed it, but that, too, seemed to have no effect. I guess I'll be visiting the Apple dealer from whom I bought this two weeks ago when I get back to VT.

Any MacBook users have any other thoughts? suggestions? magic incantations?

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