Electronics

Their English literature course required us to memorize the authors, the dates, titles and short synopses of about 300 Victorian novels. Calculus was worse, with hundreds of formulas to memorize. The "teacher1 got mad when I asked him where we might find a use for ail this in real life. He didn't know,

I found out how bad it was when, after spending four years in the Navy during WWII, and managing by several flukes not to get killed, 1 went back to finish my last two years of college. I'd passed two years of calculus and had one last course to go. But when I got back I found 1 had zero recollection of the first two years. I had to spend a whole lousy summer re-doing all of ft again and none of it seemed even vaguely familiar.

Most of my college courses called for memorizing data just long enough to pass a test, I knew 1 hated this and was frustrated at the waste of my time, but J was too dumb to get the hell out of there and stop, I'd been brainwashed on the importance of a college degree. You know, no one hiring me has ever even asked about it.

I should have figured it out when I went through the Navy electronics course. That was incredibly good. No memorization involved. I know it's unbelievable that the military could ever do anything right but they sure did. . . at least once.

We1 d sit in a chalk-and-taJk lecture to learn how something worked. Then we'd go into a lab to use what werd just learned. For instance, they explained to us how a superheterodyne receiver works, circuit by circuit. Then we'd have to fix a bunch of fiendishly disabled receivers. We had to understand how they worked to figure out what they'd done to them.

That school was so good they were teaching kids who didnt know a volt from an ohm how to fix anything electronic in just nine months. I learned a hundred times as much in nine months there as 1 did in four years of college.

Right now I'm working in my sneaky way to try and change the American educational system. , ,to get it to dump memorization and go for cognitive teaching.

Meanwhile, how can we go about changing our ridiculous ham exam system to something better? I have in mind a cognitive system with no written exam at all.

If we could do that and assure that newcomers had some understanding of radio, I'd be able to go back to publishing technical articles in 73 But with about 50% of the readers still not sure about transistors and yearning for more tube equipment, the call for digital voice communications and digital signal processing articles is faint. Yet that's either where we're going to head, or we' re going to be blown away.

Oh, I don't mind a couple of old fa.. .-timers., .using AM on 75m. Maybe on one frequency. But I do take exception to their trying to lure others into their foiiy Other than as a museum exhibit, AM should be dead. Old-timers can testify about how long it took after CW was invented before spark was finally eliminated The FCC had to outlaw it to get 'em to stop. "Spark Forever" wasthecry. Sowhafs changed?

SSB is the spark of the 1990s. We' re pathetically behind in technology, but we're making up for it by making sure that newcomers haven't a clue as to how radios actually work.

Weilt I may not be able to convince anyone of the need to change our really dumb ham exams.. .you know, the ones which didn't keep out KV4FZ and K1MAN. . but I will be trying to get New Hampshire to take a leading role in promoting conceptual teaching instead of memorization Thank heavens we're a small state, so it's not difficult to be heard.

The New Ham Exam

Okay, if memorization for our tests has screwed up the hobby, what could we do instead? How can we go about teaching concepts? Well, I went this route in the Novice license study guide I put out around 25 years ago. Then came Bash saying hey, take the easy way, TIE help you memorize the answers to the tests so you can pass it with one weekend of work, He even helped thousands get Extra Class licenses without having to bother learning the code,

I like the idea of all newcomers being taught the concepts of radio by local ham clubs. They'd also teach 3em how to get on the air and make contacts. It would be a combination of teaching and apprenticeship Then the club, once they1 re sure the newcomer knows enough, would issue a iicense The club would continue to be responsible for the hams they accredited.

Thus, someone tike K1MAN would have to answer to his peers when he started causing trouble... and the club would be able to suspend his ticket if he refused to behave. Yes, he'd probably sue. lrd ask for a rule which would suspend the license of any ham bringing a ham-related suit... until the legal action has been completely terminated. That would stop a lot of expensive nonsense.

Contributing Engineers

A letter from Don Lively W6SJG had a great idea to help our educational system start teaching technology and math. Presuming that this isn't the first of my editorials youVe ever read, and that you are not part of the 50% of the American public which reads no books or magazines at all, and that you've also isolated yourself from radio and TVt it will not come as a major surprise to you that our country is a tad behind on generating new engineers.

I claim that amateur radio is mainly to blame for this disaster. If amateur radio had kept growing at the rate it did from 1945-1963, at 11% per year, we'd today have 3.5 million licensed amateurs, , about double those in Japan, which has half our population.

Further, we'd be generating about 385,000 new licensees this year In the pre-1963 period 80% of these new hams were youngsters (300,000) and 80% of those (240,000) would be going on into high-tech careers as engineers, technicians, and scientists. And we would have already contributed 2,25 million high-tech careerists in that period.

My plan for getting kids started learning the fundamentals of electronics, communications and computers via peer-teaching grades 5-12 in our schools, and forming radio, computer and experimenters clubs should do it, I suggested that local ham clubs would be glad to lend a hand in answering questions for the classes. Ditto local computer clubs... and there are some big ones around.

The Boston Computer Society is hu-mongous, complete with a very active ham special interest group, I know they'd jump to help any school within driving distance,

Don suggested a mother lode of available high-tech volunteers,, .the Ma Bell retirees, With Ma slimming down, like other big businesses, she's turning out thousands of early retirees. This is a great resource for teaching help.

Some states are so tightly controlled by the teachers' unions that it s illegal to let a qualified technical person come in and teach. That's ridiculous, so 1 hope you'll put on the pressure with your state legislature for a change. The teacher and state employee unions are particularly powerful on state levels, so it's going to take some strong parent group action to break their power hold.

New Hampshire permits alternative teachers, so it can be done here. ., even though we have a corker of a teachers1 union.

Between volunteer hams and retirees, we should be able to help youngsters cope with technology... at least the basics. I don't think hams will be too helpful in explaining in simple language how telephone switches, facsimile, computers, and other modern conveniences work, But, unless they've Bashed their way into a license, they should be able to help teach electronic basics.

A New Hampshire Opportunity

The recession has hit New Hampshire particularly hard. I've watched For Sale signs going up everywhere and home prices drop like a rock. It's just about decimated the banks. In fact, the situation got so bad that the legislature decided it was getting time to try and do something about it,

They consulted themselves first. But they didn't know what to do, so they voted to put together an Economic Development Commission, with members from both industry and government, and have them appointed by the legislature and the governor. I know this is going to aggravate the hell out of my detractors, but I was one of the five appointed by the governor.

The goal of the Commission is to provide the legislature with a plan to tackle the short, medium, and long term problems facing our state. This is just the opportunity I'd been wailing for, so I could hardly wait to get started.

The Commission has some real strength. In addition to a couple senators and some legislators, we have the president of the University of New Hampshire, and a number of successful businessmen.

So why am I bothering you with all this, Other than blowing my horn again? Because it's a fantastic opportunity for amateur radio to not just achieve record growth, but to nail down our hold on our bands just at a time when we're 3n serious danger of losing them.

Oh pshaw, you say.. or something less printable. How can amateur radio help pull New Hampshire out of a recession? If you said that, then you either have a terrible memory or you haven't been reading my editorials for the last40 years. Even worse, you may not even see how this opportunity up here in New Hampshire might easily be translated to your own state to help it cope with the world of 2002., . which is only 10 years away!

That reminds me, I'm getting really pissed at King Hussein for frittering away his time with alt this hostility baloney when he should be gearing his people to be successfully competitive in the future. I haven't seen one hint that he's been planning for 10 and 20 years from now.. ,and that's the mark of a good manager.

Is your state busy coping with immediate problems and losing sight of the future? That's what happened in New Hampshire and I donTt think we're unique.

The Immediate Problem

New Hampshire has suffered more than most other states in this recession because such a high percentage of its jobs were in generation-old high-tech industries which were bound to collapse , . . and now are in the process of doing that.

Massachusetts-based minicomputer companies such as DEC, Data General, and Wang expanded into New Hampshire and became major employers. As I've pointed out in past editorials, the minicomputer industry is, like the mainframe computer industry, doomed by the microcomputer. This technological revolution will also eventually bring down IBM, It's the disintegration of these giant firms which has made New Hampshire suffer more than most other states.

The minicomputer firms arrogantly ignored microcomputers and are now paying the price. They are no longer competitive against computer systems which cost one-tenth as much for the same performance.

I have some fast fixes for the hole the collapse of these minicomputer firms has made in the New Hampshire economy, but in the longer range I'm recommending a fix which should be adopted by every state in the union, as well as other countries. It's a shame that bad planning on a state level has brought this about. I warned Governor Sununu that this was an inevitable result of our dependence on these huge firms.

jn the short term I have a proposal which I believe will turn our economy around within two years. As an entrepreneur I tend to think in terms of self-financing changes, so my reconrv mendations will call for a small venture capital investment up front.. .either from the state or from private sources, backed by the state, Bui it should be able to repay the investment within three years and make a nice profit from thenom

If you're interested in my reports lo the Commission in detail, Hi put them on our BBS as t write them. I've onJy written about 50 printed pages so far, but I've a lot of material yet to be covered.

Now let's get to where amateur radio is going to save the bacon for New Hampshire. ,,and maybe America, and then the world And I'll gel to how you can participate, helping to make this happen.

If you're living in a relatively small state such as New Hampshire, you'll be able to have more of an influence than if you're in a big slate. That's one nice aspect of living in New Hampshire: It's smalF and it has a citizen legislature (the largest in the country), so it's not at all difficult to know the top people I've been good friends with several governors and senators. Heck, my grandfather was a state senator.

The Problem

In the long run New Hampshire (and any other state) is going to be successful if it can attract high-tech businesses. . preferably smaller entrepreneurial high-tech businesses.

Random Output

Continued from page 84 forget about it for the rest of the day? Do you provide snacks for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch? If not, have you recruited volunteers to visit the booths and take lunch orders? Many hamfests get the local Girl Scout troop to provide this lunch delivery sen/ice. The sight of those young ladies bringing you a cold drink after you've been standing and talking for five hours without even a bathroom break warms the heart of even the most disgruntled exhibitor.

Be A Good Business

Let's face it: Hamfests are big business. The same rules that apply to running a good business apply to running a good hamfest. Treat your customers like the important people they are. and they will return. Treat them like you are doing them a favor, and you wifl eventually go out of business. A hamfest s prime customers are the exhibitors— not the attendees.

A company spends thousands of dollars to attend your show. Retailers hope to make that back in sales at: the show. A manufacturer or a company like 73 attends a show for the PR and customer relations vaiue Even if the hamfest is badly run, the retailer will return if he makes money. Not so with your other exhibitors. If the hamfesi organizers are rude, inconsiderate, inconvenient and have bad attitudes, most of the exhibitors will eventually stop attending that show There are hundreds of hamfests every year and we can oniy attend so many If your

The day when low or unskilled workers can survive is passing. The day when a state s economy can depend on low-tech manufacturing.. .or even manufacturing of any kind, for that matter, is passing. Transportation and communications costs have dropped, making it so workers in other countries are afmost in direct competition with ours.

It's so easy to make things over the border in Mexico, at a fraction of our Jow-skilled wages, that production will be forced i n that direction... and to the Philippines where 15c an hour is a good wage. Or to China where slave labor costs far less than that.

This means that the work force of 2002 is going to have to work smarter rather than harder. And that, in turn, means thai we're going to have to make some major changes in our educational system. We re shortchanging Our kids with an antiquated system. We re not teaching them math and science. even though we know full well that if we don't we're going to be sentencing them to failure.

Our educational system is heavily entrenched and has been aoie to resist every effort so far to make substantial changes In a recent address to the largest chamber of commerce in Mew Hampshire, Governor Gregg explained that the teachers union is one cf the most powerful lobbying forces in our state.

Okay, we want a high-tech oriented and educated work force by 2002 so we'll be able to attract high-tech firms to the state. That means we've got to make some major changes in our show isn't the best—from the exhibitor's view—then we will simply attend a different show.

The Best

So, , you may be wondering where the good and bad hamfests are. Since I'm in a particularly magnanimous mood this month, I will refrain from naming this year's worst hamfest, (It's too bad. It was my first time in that particular city, and I reafly liked the area, but the hamfest was so badty organized—and the organizers were so untruthful, uncaring and unbusinesslike— 73 will never again be seen al that particular gathering.)

As for the best, the hands-down winner is the Houston Com-Vention. The folks running that show, especially Richard Shankle. are pros at putting on a hamfest. They treat the exhibitors like gold, and the people in Houston are chock full of that famous Texas hospitality. Houston is nowhere near the biggest hamfest of the year, but Richard and the entire crew made us feel so welcome, and were willing to do anylh ing to make our jobs as exhi bitors easier, that I can guarantee you that 73 writ return next year. Every once in a while, during setup and each day of the show, someone would come by our booth to see if we needed anything I think I was asked at least a dozen times, "What can we do to make this hamfest better?'1 Congratulations to everyone involved with the Houston Com-Vention. You all did a great job.

Come to think of it. the Dallas Ham-Com was a close second. Maybe it has something to do with Texas. El whole educational system within the next year! We haven t got time to horse around.

But, whine the educators, we don't have the math and science teachers well need and it'll take at leasl 10 years to develop and accredit them to teach. That's only if we agree to go along with the present system. I'm proposing what's called a paradigm shift.. going about this a whole new way,

I'm proposing that we start next fall with an eight-year course in the fundamentals of electronics, communications and computers, all taught via a weekly publication much tike Radio Fun, which guess who would publish. The kids would get together every day in groups and discuss the material with each other. This is called peer-teaching and it's worked fabulously in a few trials.

To help these peer groups we'd make available consultants for them to invite in from the business and retirement community.

This weekly publication would, in addition to having the week's study material, also have columns encouraging kids to form school radio, computer, and electronic experimenter clubs, The key to getting them to learn would be to make it furT The clubs would make it even more fun.

Since we have hams in every part of the slate, we'd be able to enlist many of them as volunteer consultants for these classes. Pius, we'd be able to draw upon computer groups and hightech retirees.

By making learning fun for a change, we can not only generate thousands of high-tech career workers for 2002 bult f befieve, also get amateur radio into high gear for the first time in almost 30 years. With a bunch of kids coming along, anxious to experiment with our almost unused microwave bands, and eager to stari using digital voice on our lower bands, we're a lot less Mable to lose our frequencies.

Will I be abte to sell the idea to the Commission and then to the legislature over the resistance of the NEA? We'll see. Surely at least one ham must be in a position to try and get a similar movement going in another state.

If we can fix our short-term problems quickly and then lay the groundwork for a future high-tech work force, we're going to have to fight off newcomers to the state. We have the lowest taxes in the country right now. And. despite our problems, we've been rated the "most Irveabie state." There certainly isn't a more oeautiful state, nor one with more opportunities. And we attract vacationers in spring., summer, fall, and winter. Indeed, tourism is our largest industry.

Just as amateur radio has fallen behind in technology, New Hampshire bet the farm on minicomputers and is paying the price. The microcomputer publishing center i ouill in Peterborough provided an incredible opportunity, but instead of building on this strength, the town made it almost impossible for new entrepreneurial businesses to get started. Now Peterborough is paying a particularly heavy price. EQ

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