Ah, the Winlink versus NYU-Rappaport clusterfudge in progress. My, my, oh my what a mess the kids have made with this one.
I think G8BPQ summed up the core issue very well here:
“This is not an issue with Pactor but with FBB compression, which has been around on packet as well as pactor for over 25 years. To use it as an excuse to ban Pactor is laughable.” John Wiseman, G8BPQ
Yeah, that John, the guy that rarely publicly comments on such things. I think I saw where even Phil Karn (KA9Q) voiced his concerns over this silliness.
For those asking “what if” the FCC does this or that with this Rappaport vs Winlink mess?
There are some good folks involved with Winlink. Unfortunately Winlink leadership and some of it’s HF gateway operators (and some users) have been their own worst enemy. As such many of us really struggle to feel sorry for them.
Ted Rappaport is definitely Winlink’s worst nightmare come true and a large flock of their chickens have come home to roost. That said, we are gravely concerned for all the collateral damage Ted’s poorly chosen approach here may bring to large swaths of the digital side of the hobby.
There used to be this well founded old ham wisdom about “Police ourselves, work together to solve our problems, and think twice before asking the FCC for their opinion.” Why? It has this nasty way of coming back to bite us all in our backsides.
While I’m sympathetic to some of Ted’s concerns, others are just off the charts ridiculous. Even worse it opened the doors to some more perpetually miserable, easily offended, and overly entitled kids wanting to get in on the dramafest. Wow, all over core problems that could of been solved with some HF bandplan tweaks, Winlink leadership not ignoring ongoing complaints, Winlink HF gateways being A LOT more considerate in frequency choices, and better enforcement against flagrant abuses of our spectrum using the existing rules.
Given the spread of lack of personal responsibility and perpetual adolescence across our society today, I’m not surprised by this mess at all. Even more sadly, I suspect this is just the first legal battle on this topic. Something tells me Ted and crew are not going to give up if they don’t get the ruling they want this time around. Especially if it’s true what some think is actually driving this. All as we head into a new decade full of increasing threats to our spectrum from commercial interests that would love to see our ranks distracted and divided.
Plus let’s not kid ourselves here, Winlink is far from the only bad actor on our HF bands when it comes to piss poor operating, violations, and unnecessary QRM. How much are you hearing about that side of things? ’nuff said.
Did Winlink contact you regarding the Open Message Viewer?
That question pretty much blew up the inbox for a couple weeks earlier this year. No they never contacted me regarding the Winlink Open Message Viewer or about the “A Compromise?” suggestions in one of my 2018 blog postings.
The interesting part was watching how long it took for the bulk of the ham Winlink community to realize it was out there. It was there for awhile before the news on it blew up. A lot of what followed reminded me of that old farmer saying of “If the rooster is crowing then he’s damn sure been in the henhouse.” LOL
IMHO what they did was a good start towards some needed transparency. I think a years worth of archives should be the minimal retention period. Should also be searchable by band and time/date period which would make going back to ID a QRM source a lot easier. Would even be handy for the ARRL to vet the Field Day bonus point messages having at least used some non-LTE (LOL) RF to leave the sites.
Gateway operators and members of the Official Observer program should be able to sign up for ongoing archives via email so they can archive and search for problems as needed. Now that it is undeniable that the Winlink system is being abused by some users, it seems the above would be a good minimal foundation towards real transparency and deterring abusive/violative behaviors.
I have mixed feelings about putting the archives behind a login. There are ways to mask out email addresses and PII data before serving it up publicly while maintaining the original message in case needed by the FCC.
For those I saw commenting “our served agencies are going to freak out over that Open Message Viewer”
Well that’s on you. You clearly oversold yourselves and the system to your served agencies. Anything that sensitive should of never been going over Part 97 airwaves to begin with. You don’t have to say “yes” to everything they want and frankly you shouldn’t be doing so.
It’s NOT the job nor the proper role of ham radio to routinely be the “Plan B” they should already have. Be the backup for their backup and make it clear what you can and can’t do for them. Undersell, over deliver not the reverse. Learn to say “no” to folks that just want you to save them some budget money for backup comm gear they should already have.
We are the Amateur Radio Service not the Emergency Radio Service so know where draw that line. Hint, hint the FCC has previously reminded us of that.
The K4KPN-14 RMS Gateway’s future?
I suspect its days are numbered. Regardless, rest fully assured that I will not loose a single tear as I edit the config file on the Jonesville node/app stack to disable the RMS functions and restart things. You may well hear a “thank you lord” shouted from the radio room LOL. Those that followed the old blog know that I’m not exactly a big fan of Winlink.
The RMS gateway app on that BPQ32 node stack has been and continues to be an optional component of our local AuxComm digital plan in that it “might” be handy in some limited cases. That was turned on after hints and nudging from KY ARES, yet the only consistent ARES usage has been out of Ohio…not Kentucky LOL. Don’t get me wrong, they are welcome on the system, but that’s not our primary service area. Once the Winlink Open Message Viewer and WinlinkArmageddon news hit the ranks then the already minimal usage disappeared over the summer.
Outpost against the KYPN BPQ32 packet BBS has been and always will be our primary local digital messaging strategy, nothing has or is changing there. Frankly these fiascos of late have helped us appreciate the wisdom in building our own locally owned, locally oriented, and locally controlled internet independent packet node and BBS system.
Predictions on the FCC ruling?
Who knows. I want to have faith that the FCC can sort through all the noise and give us a good ruling that doesn’t cripple a radio service that is already struggling to remain relevant and facing increasing threats to our spectrum.
I’m starting to detect they may not be overly happy with the PITA the ARS is becoming for them. Remember they don’t exactly make money off us.
We also need to realize that we don’t have a Riley Hollingsworth working at the FCC anymore. One of the things that makes what Ted & Crew did so darn reckless.
A good ruling could actually bring some clarity to some of the issues brought up here.
That said, if my ARES/AuxComm/CERT team was dependent upon Winlink I would be working on Plan B for my digital messaging needs.