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Neil Martinsen-Burrell
Works at Stats With Neil
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Everything old is new again: Back to Firefox

Chrome was a great diversion from Firefox back in the late 2000s and ever since Google has been ratcheting up the lock-in with features like syncing across machines and mobile devices.  But it hasn't been all rosy: Chrome gets slower and more bloated as it grows in features (just like Firefox was doing when Chrome rose to prominence).

Also, I've been having increasing concerns with the level to which Google is hoovering up my data in order to make jillions of dollars on my data.  So, I'm switching back to Firefox.

It's feature-competitive now with syncing and mobile (not that I need mobile any more) and it's one of the grandparents of the FOSS movement. Welcome back to the future!
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Firefox here, on all platforms. Chrome never wowed me. Caveat: the browser is not a primary platform for software I develop. It's just a tool or occasionally a secondary interface to some feature. 
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Neil Martinsen-Burrell

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Tonight's lesson in human anatomy with my two year old was significantly complicated by the fact that she already knows that I'm the only one in the family who eats peanuts.
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Now we're getting serious about CW

It's getting cobbled together slowly but surely.  I've been learning the code and I'm finished with the alphabet and the numbers and starting to think about an actual QSO.  That meant it was finally time to see if I could make the sounds the way I've been hearing them.

The straight key was one of my first radio-related purchases on eBay and the little Twin Tee code practice oscillator was my first (and second!) homebrewed circuit.  They've been packed away for half a year while I took a little SSB detour.  But now, the key is mounted in its natural habitat (a scrap of 2x4) and I find that I've got a cold solder joint on the key jack, but after a couple times through the alphabet I felt like I would be able to copy what I was sending.

Later this week it will probably be time to get on the air.  Any suggestions about where to put the call out?  Good places to find someone willing to plod along and repeat themselves a lot?
Rich Gillin's profile photoNeil Martinsen-Burrell's profile photoSteve Parks's profile photoPaul Lannuier's profile photo
Good work! Don't stop now! Keep it up.

Learning Morse is like learning to play the Violin. It's not Fun!

But one you get there the rewards are very gratifying. Beyond Fun!


Mike. WA4D
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Headset recommendations for VOIP/Hangouts?

I'm going to be doing lots more calling from my laptop and I'm tired of sounding like I'm calling people from the bottom of a well.  I already use Hangouts a fair amount for business and I'm sure I'll be doing plenty of those too.

Personal learning network: what is a good headset for these purposes?  My primary computer is a MacBook Pro, but there are others in the mix, so small bonus points for something multiplatform.

Thanks in advance.
Rich Gillin's profile photoAivaras Kivilius's profile photoRoger Keulen's profile photoTom Nathe's profile photo
Thanks everyone.  I appreciate the suggestion of a nice fixed mic and I would like to get there eventually, but for now I need something I can throw in a bag and take to the co-working space or on various couches wherever I get a chance to work.  Plantronics seems to have some inexpensive options to get me started.
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Misc shack gear for sale

Here are a few things that I'm parting with for various reasons.  Comment or message me if you're interested.  Shipping of your choice would be additional.

1. Two large air variable capacitors. These came out of an MFJ 962C so should be fine up to 1.5 KW. They are supposedly for 10-250 pF and they have a 5mm spacing between the stator plates. These have no damage and no visible arcing and were working great when they were pulled. Originally bought for my own tuner project that never got off the ground. $40

2. Tapped variable inductor. From the same tuner as the capacitors above it is a very nice piece with silver plated wire on the coil and the taps. Twelve position rotary switch for 11 taps and one position shorting out the coil. Two ceramic standoffs on the bottom. $10

3. Johnson Antenna Mate tuner. It's a CB tuner rated for 15W, but it is a nice small enclosure and should work FB for HF QRP. $5

4. Heathkit IM-38. Vacuum tube RMS voltmeter. No probes, cracked plastic front, scraped off paint on sides. This was an eBay impulse buy, so take it off my hands $0
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Gorgeous Gender and Identity Writing

Someone in my circles had a link to an article by +Ashe Dryden ( that led me to a couple more articles by +Maddy Myers ( and ( that made me very excited to see the writing coming out of the tech community on gender and identity.

The experiences of women in our world should be the primary source of our understanding of those experiences and I was happy that these authors and articles exist.  In the face of extremely distressing stories of discrimination in technology (What, you thought we were different? Nope. People suck.) it is nice to see personal experience and critical analysis coming together.

Kudos to them both.
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For sale: Tentec Model 243 VFO

Up for sale is a Tentec Model 243 VFO for the Omni A/B/C/D radios.  Two separate VFOS means you can switch easily between frequencies, work split or even listen on two different frequencies at the same time.

Unit is in excellent condition with no cosmetic damage.  In complete working condition except the dial pointer doesn't retract all the way to the left edge.  (For Omnis with digital readouts, this has no negative consequences.)  Comes with original manual.

$100 plus shipping of your choice at cost.  First firm email to gets it.  Can accept PayPal, check, money order, cash, etc.
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FOR SALE: Pristine Kenwood TS-520SE

For sale is a Kenwood TS-520SE HF transceiver in excellent condition. I bought this from the original owner last April after I got my license. It has been well cared for since it was originally purchased in 1980. It was his first radio and now my first radio. I'm selling it because I am upgrading to a solid state rig with WARC capabilities.

* 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10m CW/USB/LSB
* Full output (100W) on each band
* Tube finals with tunable tank circuit matches up to 4:1 SWR
* 110/220V built-in power supply
* Loud internal speaker
* Built-in frequency calibrator and WWV receive

* No scratches, no dings, no missing screws
* Original handle in perfect shape
* Original instruction manual with schematic and maintenance instructions
* Original tubes, no repairs, no modifications
* Original power cord

This is a classic HF rig in exemplary condition. For nostalgia, collecting or just starting out this radio would be a great choice. Just the radio, no microphone.

$325 plus shipping method of your choice at actual shipping cost. AK/HI/International no problem. First firm email to gets it. PayPal, USPS money order, check, cash: if I can spend it, I'll take it.
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+William Jourdain I don't think I got your emails.  I will try responding directly to you.
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Neil Martinsen-Burrell

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Dr. Neil, Math Professor 2006-2013

I will not be returning to +Wartburg College  in Fall 2014 after my leave of absence.  This has been a difficult decision to leave a wonderful set of colleagues and a profession that I enjoyed a lot.  The decision is based on a desire to relocate to Decorah, Iowa.  As we have been during my leave, we will continue to live and work in the Decorah community.  I will be starting a statistical consulting business focused on graduate students from non-mathematical fields.

I am glad for the time I taught at Wartburg and the people that I worked with.  I am grateful for the mentoring and friendship that they have given me.  The academic life can be both challenging and rewarding and their company has made it easier and more fulfilling.  I wish all the best to my colleagues and to the college.
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We will miss you!
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Independent Statistics Educator
  • Stats With Neil
  • Wartburg College
  • University of North Carolina
Teacher, geek, father
I'm an independent statistics educator.  I work as a consultant with graduate students and companies who aren't statistics experts.  I've been involved in teaching math for over fifteen years and I love to share my experience.

In other news, I'm also a gadget lover, a ham radio operator, and a farmer.
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