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McD's Musings

(and rants)

September 25th, 2012

Wah hoppen to jjmcd? @ 01:36 pm

OK, this is long overdue.  As many of you are aware, I am not leading the charge on the Release Notes this release.  And although I've been hanging around on IRC quite a bit, I rarely have much to say these days.

It ain't that I don't still love ya.

This fall a number of things have colluded to make it impossible for me to spend as much time as I would like on Docs.  I do anticipate things will get a lot better after October.

Many of you know that I am the Section Emergency Coordinator for Michigan.  That has me spending a lot of time in Lansing with the State Police.  This is nothing really new, *BUT* ...

This year the State of Michigan is rolling out a new Critical Incident Management System.  I have been quite involved in the development of that system, seizing the opportunity to ensure that features are included which are useful to amateur radio.  This, of course, takes time, and a lot of that time is surrounded by two hour drives each way.

Perhaps instigated by this rollout, my responsibilities with the Michigan State Police have increased.  Instead of simply coordinating amateur radio activities, I now have responsibility for all auxiliary communications for emergency response.

Also on the government front, every eight years each nuclear power plant is required to run what is called an "ingestion pathway" exercise.  Since Fukishima, the NRC has really ratcheted up these exercises.  This is the first that Michigan will be doing since that event.  When we do any of these nuclear plant exercises, we do two drills and then the actual exercise.  During the drills there is less going on out in the field, but from my perspective in the State Emergency Operations Center, they are all the same.

Except in this case, the final exercise will be multiple days instead of one. In the past, even when we had an ingestion pathway exercise, I wasn't involved in the second day anyway.  This time I'm not so sure.  In fact, we have little insight into what to expect except a LOT more Federal participation than we are used to.  I was at a "Federal Outreach" a couple of months ago, and it sounded ominous.

The first drill is tomorrow.

Saturday I am speaking at the Ohio Linux Fest.  Of course, getting ready for that takes time, and me being me, probably takes more time than it needs to.  The good news is that next week that will be behind me.

Speaking of OLF, where are the Fedorans?  I don't see any familiar names on the speaker list where in previous years it looked like a FUDcon. I don't think I even know of anyone else who is going.

But the big time eater is SET.  Every year amateurs across the nation hold what is called a Simulated Emergency Test.  Typically, this is a pretty low impact event, but in Michigan, we have chosen to use this as an exercise to help us improve our skills.

Over the past couple of years, we have begun using FEMA's Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP) for our exercises.  As you might imagine, this adds a huge amount of work to preparing for and evaluating an exercise.  However, the results are more than worth the effort.

Most times, I have an assistant who does much of the heavy lifting.  However, this year he has a number of personal demands on his time, so he hasn't been able to assist much.  The task takes a fair bit of training, including a number of FEMA courses, so is isn't something I can quickly grow someone into.

Once I get past October, things should look a little more normal.  But I don't know, I need to keep doing it to myself.

Back in 2003 I did an online course on PIC microcontrollers.  The course was amazingly well received; thousands of folks took it.  When we were first talking about it, I was thinking we might get a dozen.  One of the QRP clubs kitted a board to go with the course, and after a few months they cried uncle; they just couldn't keep up.  Eventually the board was commercialized, and it is still available and still selling.

PICs have changed a lot, and I am toying with doing a course on the newer dsPICs.  These have way more capability, are a lot easier to use, and cost barely more than the old ones.  With the help of a couple of other folks, I've been working through what a board would look like if I were to do this.  And then there's the whole deal of what will it cost to manufacture, is there enough of a market, etc. etc. etc.

The good news is that after October, the SCHEDULED items die down, and hopefully things will return to their normal level of chaos.

Meanwhile, many thanks to all the folks who have stepped up to be sure the Release Notes are the best ever.
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Date:September 25th, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)


I'll be around at OLF.
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Date:September 25th, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC)

Re: Fedorans

Oh good deal. At lease SOMEBODY will be there carrying the Fedora flag.

McD's Musings

(and rants)