Breaking My Own Rules

Well, despite my last post, I’ve been breaking my own rules lately. I haven’t been on the air–except for some 2m FM contacts, and those almost don’t count–since Tuesday.

The reason I’ve been so negligent is that I purchased a new computer. Not only did I purchase a new computer, but it’s a Mac instead of the PCs I’ve been using for almost 20 years now. I love the new computer, but it’s eaten up all my time as I get it up and running.

For example, it took me a couple of days to finally figure out how to migrate my e-mail from Thunderbird on the PC to MacMail. At first, I thought I’d use the Opera mail client on the Mac, and that the easiest thing to do would be to import the mail files to the Opera mail client on the PC and then simply copy the file over. WRONG! I don’t know what the Opera mail program was doing, but it worked on the conversion for more than 24 hours and never did finish the conversion.

After doing a little more Web searching, I found a way to convert the Thunderbird mailboxes to a format that the MacMail app could directly import. Now, everything’s working like a charm.

I also had to find some apps to replace those that I’ve been using on the PC, namely Word, Excel, and Access. After seriously considering buying Office for the Mac, I found NeoOffice/J, which makes OpenOffice, an open-source replacement for Microsoft Office, run as a native Mac application. I haven’t done extensive testing with it yet, but I was able to read and edit some Word files that I had created on the PC. Very cool.

Finally, to get around to ham radio in this post, I did manage to find some ham radio software for the Mac in my search for Mac apps. Black Cat Systems has a whole raft of applications that are either directly for hams or would be useful for hams, including:

  • Audiocorder – lets you record audio from any source that you can connect to your Mac.
  • Black Cat CW Keyer – lets you use your Mac to key your rig.
  • DX Toolbox – gathers information on propagation from the Internet and predicts conditions for a particular path. Also displays the current gray line.
  • Elmer – generates sample license tests and keeps track of your progress.
  • iDXCluster – allows you to read postings to DX clusters and post your own loggings.
  • Morse Mania – Morse Code trainer.
  • MultiMode – sends and receives many digital modes, including RTTY, FAX, SSTV, SITOR-B, NAVTEX, PACKET, ACARS, PSK31, ALE, Hellschreiber, and others.
  • RF Toolbox – performs many common calculations including antenna dimensions for a variety of different antenna types, coil inductance and more.

All of these programs are inexpensive. Most cost either $20 or $25, and the iDXCluster program is free. The most expensive is MultiMode, which is $89. And you can download and try all of them for free.

Now, it’s down to the shack to get back on the air.


  1. My latest PC is a $200 to door Fry’s Linspire cheapy. It comes with a lowly 128mb ram, a 40gig hard drive, a Sempron 2200, and everything else integrated. Since I am a Debian devotee, on it went, everything works flawlessly. Got 512mb ram for Christmas, and it works better. Can be overclocked easily. No complaints, and yes it runs Open Office just fine. Won’t do any 3d stuff, but games and Linux don’t mix, and alas, I don’t think the Mac is any better off. There is plenty of Ham apps avail for Linux, and Wine is used to run MorseRunner, Echolink, and SwitcherCad LTSpice.

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