I guess I am no better if I decide to complain about those who seem to make a habit of complaining about the state of ham radio on what seems like a regular basis. I do understand that the Internet is NOT ham radio. Forums, such as those that support our wonderful hobby are public, where ideas and opinions are expressed and exchanged, not always agreed upon. Much like the sphere that encompasses ham radio, individual interests in what draws them to the hobby vary.

Complaints dealing with complainers makes me no better than the next, I know. Much like our hobby if you don’t favor one aspect of the hobby, for example contesting or Emcomm, then you choose not to participate in it. But the Internet, as I eluded to earlier is not ham radio. There are many amateurs I have come in contact with via the Internet who are experienced, very knowledgeable and one I hold in high respect.

Much like any community, the voices of the few usually end up being heard, more so than the masses who are relatively well behaved. Maybe it’s these voices that should heed an old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” Of course that is easier said than done in a public forum. I do agree there are many questions that come up time and time again. For example, the newly licensed Technician who posts, “What first rig should I get?” I do understand responding to the same question over and over can cause some frustration, but should it?

I came to the Internet in search of resources for ham radio and I have found many sites that support my radio hobby. Not all information on the Internet is “good information.” Even coming from forums, information posted in variety of thread can be misinformation or provide no information at all. If you are around forums long enough the same cast seem to cast a negative light upon the hobby. If that is the case, then I do take my own advice and don’t even bother with the thread.

Going strictly by forum activity you would think the hobby of amateur radio is coming to an end. Licensing seems to be given away as opposed to earned, there is no CW requirement, Emcomm is ruining the hobby and young people seem to have other interests these days. I make ham radio enjoyable for one person, myself. I don’t need to worry about things that are out of my control or I have no interest in. I control what I can and continue to enjoy the hobby. Hopefully this trend will continue to many years to come, even if change is necessary.

Access Denied by SmartFilter

“Access Denied by SmartFilter.” This is becoming a more and more common response when I attempt to access web sites from work. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand that the filtering of web sites is probably a common practice at places of employment. I read a statistic, “almost 40 per cent of internet use in companies is non-work related.” So does that mean users are spending more time on the Internet and being less productive? That same story goes on to say, “most visits to pornographic web pages occur during working hours, with two out of every three visits to pornographic web pages occurring during working hours (source). Wow! I would NEVER consider trying to drop in on a porn site at work, even by mistake.

Some of the other common responses from SmartFilter have been due to; Mature, Extreme, Chat and Gambling. I understand that many companies monitor Internet usage. I heard a stat, but I can’t recall where that something like 71% of employers monitor their employees. Now, honestly, I don’t care if I am monitored. I don’t go to web sites I don’t belong at. Some of the sites I attempt to access, like has been filtered for ‘Extreme’ or ‘Mature.’ I assume that is based solely on the word, “terror.” I am slowly loosing access to forums I accessed on a regular basis because this is not considered, ‘Chat.’ Just the other day my access to was taken away for this reason. Prior to that the Urban Terror Forums and Above Top Secret were both taken from me.

I am sure your uninformed Internet user accesses Ebay on a regular basis, wouldn’t you think? I know it happens pretty regular at my employer. When will that web site be filtered for God knows what. Shopping? I admit, I search Ebay now and then for Cougar parts and cars, but don’t spend all 8 hours of work there.

More recently there has been a crack down on streaming media sites. I am sure this is the last thing employers want are users sucking up all the bandwidth watching or any of the other video sites out there. Now, I will admit I still stream audio at night. One by one my radio stations are being filtered out, such as KRXQ in Sacramento. Currently I listen to KOMP out of Las Vegas. I even sat here one night on NASA TV waiting for the arrival of the space shuttle.

I have been approached by some IT guy who told me that streaming audio eats up “serious bandwidth” and not to do it. I did not want to argue with him, when he does not have his facts straight on how little bandwidth is actually used. Not to mention, this was being streamed in the middle of the night, where I will venture a guess that Internet usage is probably very, very low. Again, just a guess on my part, maybe it was the principal of the whole thing. Bring a radio you say? I did, unfortunately it gets no reception in our office, situated on the ground floor with all sorts of interference.

It becomes more frustrating every day when you try to access a favorite site and it has been filtered out. Is this supposed to make me more productive as an employee? Probably, but the fact of the matter is, when I am on the Internet, I have very little work to do. Considering what I do for my employer there is time to dabble on the Internet while doing my job. Multitasking is something I can do, but again, I don’t think my employer, or any employer really gives a shit when it comes to tasking my job responsibility and the Internet.

If they do not want me on the Internet, then you better take my access away, because honestly that will be the only way to stop me. I would not know what to do with myself if I did not have Internet access, that is the age we live in. We need information at our fingertips. And I can honestly say that I have used the Internet for work related items previously. Since our office is no longer has cable television, it’s kinda of difficult to get up to the minute news. God forbid we have a serious crisis, like a terrorist attack or earthquake and no cable television.