Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Skegness Log: 2016-08-23 (MW Transatlantic)

1540 0400 USA KXEL Waterloo IA. KXEL IDs Weak  6547 km
1570 0401 PRU OCU4J Radio Bethel, Lima. OM La palabra de dios, fanfare and religious talk
              Weak  10246 km

Some reasonable signals around this morning, but these were the only ones of interest apart from the regulars. 0200 seemed to be better in terms of signal strength. Signals were much weaker by 0400.

Good DX!

John Faulkner, Skegness, Lincolnshire (JO03dd) 1m ASL

Receiver: Perseus SDR
Antenna:  10ft x 25ft movable flag antenna, at 28 degrees.
Software: Perseus v4.1a; Mestor; Jaguar.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Skegness Log: 2016-08-21 (MW)

1380 0258 USA KRCM Shenandoah TX. Vida AM IDs. Many thanks to everybody at RealDX for 
                   confirming. V weak  7764 km
1130 0300 USA WBBR New York City NY. Bloomberg Eleven Thee Oh ID Fair  5539 km
1510 0300 USA WMEX Boston MA. 15-10 WMEX promo Weak  5245 km
1520 0300 USA WWKB Buffalo NY. Could just make out 15-20 WWKB Buffalo in weak pile-up  
                   5697 km
1560 0300 USA WFME New York NY. Family Radio IDs Fair  5538 km
1660 0300 USA WWRU Jersey City NJ. WWRU Jersey City ID with OM then YL. Off frequeucy at 
                   1660.034 Weak  5540 km
1700 0300 USA WRCR Spring Valley NY. WRCR IDs down in the noise Vweak  5516 km
1010 0349 USA WINS WINS New York City NY. Reference to Wins Newstime Fair  5543 km
1380 0354  ?  UNID OM saying Newstalk at exactly 03:54:06 but the rest obscured Weak
1400 0400 CAN CBG  Gander NL. CBC Radio 1 news jingle heard. Frequency partially blocked by 
                   local noise Fair  3775 km
1430 0400 CAN CHKT Toronto ON. Difficult copy, but heard AM 14-30 CHKT Toronto by YL
                   Weak  5669 km

1540 0400 USA KXEL Waterloo IA. Pile-up but could make out The Voice Of Eastern Iowa .... 
                   KXEL Waterloo, Cedar Falls, Cedar Valley. Fair  6547 km

The first reasonable opening to North America for me this season. Pleased to hear KRCM and KXEL in August.

Good DX!

John Faulkner, Skegness, Lincolnshire (JO03dd) 1m ASL

Receiver: Perseus SDR
Software: Perseus v4.1a; Mestor; Jaguar
Antenna: 10ft x 25ft mobile flag antenna & flag pre-amp

Monday, 15 August 2016

SkywavesDX Forum - Back Soon! (Hopefully)

The SkywavesDX Forum is back online. Wondering why it went down? Read below to find out.

The SkywavesDX phpBB forum has been in operation for almost two years but was forced offline during the first week of August. There was a problem with the hosting company, 123-Reg. Here's a rundown of what happened and a little bit of info into the background of how things work.

The phpBB forum platform requires a certain range of versions of php to function correctly. If there is an incompatibility of php versions, it won't run at all. "php" is a scripting language used by the hosting company which, in our case, were 123-Reg. (Those 'in the know' will now be cringing!)

The problems began about 17 months ago when we suddenly found ourselves unable to update the forum software. Software updates are necessary to keep the forum functioning properly and include new facilities, bug fixes and, more importantly, security updates. However, the forum should continue to function satisfactorily without these updates, providing they are carried out at least occasionally.

When it came to performing the software updates, we decided not to install each update immediately on their release as there can be teething troubles which require software patches and further updates, so it's always a good idea to wait a week or two, or just keep the updates one version behind.

Back to 123-Reg, who stated they were running the latest versions of php on their servers, yet it seems they weren't. Something was obviously wrong, but 123-Reg claimed everything was fully up to date. We knew it was likely to be a php incompatibility issue because of the MySQL error messages which were displayed each time we tried to perform a software update.

We now had a real problem. Would 123-Reg eventually fix this problem? We assumed so as we knew it wouldn't only be SkywavesDX which had been having these problems, so we decided to wait and see. Besides, the alternatives, i.e. changing hosts, would be a nightmare in itself. (In fact, we have since discovered that this php issue was a common problem with 123-Reg.)

As long as Skywaves was running, that was the main thing, but we were aware that a major forum software update which required a newer php version would probably spell the end of SkywavesDX at some point in the future. As it happened, the forum didn't even get that far! On Saturday August 6th, there was a total breakdown of SkywavesDX with a new MySQL error which, yet again, pointed to 123-Reg being the problem. We contacted 123-Reg and asked them to fix the problem, but no replies were received. On August 8th, the decision was taken to promptly go through the upheaval of changing hosts.

1%1 Internet were chosen as they have the highest uptime of all the major hosting companies and I know people who have used them without fault. This includes an entire technology college who use 1%1 Internet and who have never experienced a single problem with 1%1 in several years! So the domain transfer and changover process has begun, but the problems haven't stopped there.

Although the transfer process was initiated almost a week go, it still hasn't actually taken place. 123-Reg are dragging their heels for some reason, but we do have a date of August 18th for the transfer to have been completed. Once this has happened, it then takes up to 24 hours for the new domain to fully propagate around the internet, so we still cannot see SkywavesDX being back before the 19th at the very earliest.

My own experiences of domain transfers are all horror stories. The worst experience I had was with a company called Web Mania. I decided to transfer my domains from them a few years ago due to a few issues, but they wouldn't release them. After SIX WEEKS of trying and many emails to them, most of which were ignored or fobbed off with standardised replies, I was forced to involve OFCOM, who got them to release my domains IMMEDIATELY! (OFCOM were equally as effective with two separate problems I had with Virgin Media. One regarding a mobile phone issue and another with a home multimedia package.) It became apparent that Web Mania were trying to steal my domains as they were TLDs (Top Level Domains) and therefore quite valuablem. (I was once offered £1000 for the Skywaves domain by an American marketing company. Needless to say, I refused as it was then used by our group.)

The fact is, all hosting companies seem to be as bad as each other. My own hosting problems didn't stop after moving from Web Mania to Dataflame as they too presented me with many problems. Also, their own servers were hacked one day and my personal web space became an illegal Lloyds TSB Bank login. Dataflame firmly put the blame on me and never apologised for their own security breach.

So, all things considered, I wouldn't be surprised if the SkywavesDX phpBB forum is offline for a while longer, but we are keeping a very close eye on things and aim to get the transfer done as soon as possible. As things stand, I anticipate the earliest return date for the forum to be August 20th. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Skegness Log: 2016-08-04 (MW Peru)

1540 0257 PRU OCU2X Radio Turbo Mix, Cajamarca (caj) Presumed. Seems to be around 1540.5
              and another 
carrier is very close by - two stations or maybe a peculiarity of
              the carrier? 
Possible OM ID at 02:57:37.  Weak  9906 km
1470 0300 PRU OAU4B Radio Capital, Lima/Pantanos de Villa (lim) Two IDs and full top of the 
              hour announcements by OM, then YL. Lively programming style Fair  10266 km **
1500 0300 PRU OBX4I Radio Santa Rosa, Lima/San Miguel (lim) OM ID at 03:01:57. Offset now at 
              1499.811 Fair  10259 km
1570 0300 PRU OCU4J Radio Bethel, Lima (lim) Bethel Radio OM ID at 02:59:39 Fair  10246 km

** Personal first

A good Peruvian morning.

This morning's UNIDs:

A Portuguese station appeared on 1440 with a lot of lively OM announcements either side of 0300. This was the only peak and it carried on until 03:08. There may be a couple of IDs in there.

1380 was the other UNID with melodic music, peaking here at 03:05. YL vocals and flute, then possible ID just before 03:06. Straight into another melodic song. OM comes in at 03:06:25 with possible ID. Unclear.

No sign of a carrier on 1010 (looking for Radio Cielo).

Good DX!

John Faulkner, Skegness, Lincolnshire (JO03dd) 1m ASL

Receiver: Perseus SDR
Antenna:  10ft x 25ft movable flag antenna, at 28 degrees.
Software: Perseus v4.1a; Mestor; Jaguar.