WAPR News - January 2001

By Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

Happy New Year! Hope you were able to enjoy what some call the "true" start of the millennium, unlike last year when a lot of us were on standby for the big Y2K non-event.

This January 1st. I was going to shut the Green Bay BBS down and devote the facilities used for the BBS to experimentation. However, I decided to change my mind and keep it operational. Like most BBS's, it has suffered from a lack of use. Three years ago we saw 50 or more users, these days it only sees maybe a half-dozen users. This is not a unique situation, a lot of BBSs are in the same boat. And it would be the easiest path to take in this circumstance. However, Joel N9BQM talked me out of it.

He rightly pointed out that when a BBS closes, very often network nodes associated with it are taken off the air. Other BBS systems that are forwarding partners to the closing BBS may also take a look at the situation and come to the same conclusion - it's not worth it with fewer participating stations.

While the network nodes in Green Bay would not close down, this would probably influence our neighbor BBS's negatively - they may also decide to throw in the towel and close up their BBS's. Which may indeed cause other network nodes to go away. Because I don't want to see this happening, 1 have decided to keep the present BBS on the air and work toward putting another type of BBS on the air that would eventually replace what we have now.

I do want to say that I think the current BBS system is sorely in need of updating. We're still using a text-based system, and one that does not function very well in a changing world. What I want to do is introduce a web-based BBS that treats messaging the same way that Internet news is handled. This would allow us to send pictures, search a message database for keywords, and would be a drastic departure from what we are doing now. As time goes on, I'll let you know of the progress of this project.

We'll certainly talk about this and the changing landscape of packet radio when we get together for our next WAPR meeting. The meeting will be held on January 20, 2001 in Pittsville, at the fire station (at the base of the water tower). It will get under way at 10:00 A.M. One note, please don't park in front of the garage doors, they have to be kept clear in the event that the fire trucks get called out.

The lone agenda item we must cover is the election of officers, in particular the board position that opened up with the passing of Ron Nelson, N9CFN last summer. As always, we will have open nominations for other positions We welcome these, as some of the WAPR board members (myself included) have been on the board for a number of years and we are due for new members with fresh ideas. After all of the official meeting stuff is done, we'll catch lunch at one of the local eateries and continue the rag-chewing.

Last month I talked a little about the general decline in the packet user base, and I would like to continue this discussion and expand on it. You'll notice that the accompanying article this month is a survey designed to find out more about the people who use, or have used packet radio in the past, and what would make it more attractive to other hams. Please take a look at it and let me know what you think.

One piece of good news on the horizon to report -the return of the WAPR web page. We've been offered some free web space and will be revamping and adding to what was on the old she. It will be a few months before everything is ready to go, I'll let you know here when it is ready for visitation.

That'll do it for news this month. We're always ready to share your packet news with our readership. Drop me a note at one of the addresses at the top of this page, and 111 be happy to print it here.

Until next time, 73 from Andy.

A Packet Users Survey by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

As a regular packet user, you no doubt have noticed that the airwaves are a whole lot emptier lately. As BBS and other packet service providers only tend to keep facilities operating when they are used, this could spell a lot of trouble for the packet community. Before this problem gets any more pervasive, we'd like to do a little "market research'' in an effort to find out why, and what can be done to reverse this trend.

This survey is aimed not only at current packet users, but former packet users. If you know anyone who may have left packet radio in the recent past, please copy and pass this survey along to them. All replies will be kept confidential, as will any other information that you have volunteered. We'd be most anxious to hear what current and former packet users have to say on the state of our hobby-within-a-hobby Thanks very much for your time.

1) What got you interested in packet radio in the first place?
a) The newness of it
b) The technology
c) The convenience of communicating with others via mail 
d) Other reasons (please elaborate)

2) What do you find, (or did you find in the past) to be the most appealing aspect of packet radio)
a) personal mail service
b) file transfers
c) keyboard-to-keyboard chats
d) reading flood messages (bulletins) on the BBS
e) APRS (Automatic Position Reporting System)
f) experimentation
g) other (please elaborate)

3) What were the biggest problems you had when you operated packet?
a) radio setup
b) TNC setup
c) frequent disconnects
d) unwanted connections from others you didn't want to chat with
e) channel congestion
f) you found the BBS to be intrusive on the-LAN frequency
g) interference problems
h) didn't understand it
i) other (please elaborate)

4) I stopped using packet radio when:
a) I haven't stopped packet use
b) before I got my internet service
c) when I got my internet service
d) after I got my internet service
e) I did all I thought I could do with packet
f) I did not like the quality of the messages on the local BBS
g) when circumstances in my life changed, keeping me from using it.
h) other reasons (please elaborate as much as you want to)

5) Would you consider operating packet radio again (if you stopped) when circumstances changed?
a) Yes 
b) No

6) What would you like to see changed in packet radio (be as specific as you wish, and give as much information as you can)

Please complete this and send via packet, E-Mail or U.S. Mail to:

Andy Nemec, KB9ALN
[email protected]#GRB.WI.USA.NOAM
[email protected]
453 Cottage Grove Ave.
Green Bay, WI. 54304

Back to the WAPR Home Page and Index

Browse the News Archives