speech script about hambbs

(Speech notes to a San Jose technology user's group, circa early 1990's)

I was asked to come here to give a short talk tonight on the BBS
I run, the HamBBS, and to provide some information about one of
my hobbies, Amateur radio.  I'll keep my talk as short as
possible due to the Association elections tonight. 
 
Before I begin, I'd like to give a brief background on myself.
I am a member of the United SysOps Association.  I'm a student
at Del Mar High School in Campbell, where I'm also the editor of
the school yearbook.  I'm the vice president of the West Valley
Amateur Radio Association, a 300 member ham radio group in San
Jose, and I am a columnest for Worldradio magazine, a
publication catering to the interests of Amateur radio
operators. I have been an Amateur radio operator for four years,
and currently hold my General class license, which is the third
level of five.  I am also a frequent speaker at ham radio
conventions, which we call Hamfests, across the country on the
importance of youth in Amateur radio. 
  
In my spare time I have been operating the HamBBS, a one node,
9600 baud board, for one and a half years now.  I started the
board with the concept of providing a free service to the
amateur radio community.
 
My experience in BBSing at the point when I became a SysOp was
two years of being a BBS user.  I had recently upgraded my
computer system, and decided to use the computer as much as
possible by starting up the BBS.  My first attempt at a BBS was
using the Procomm host mode.
 
That lasted for about three days, and I upgraded to Wildcat.  I
found Wildcat, version 2.55 at the time, to be quite easy and
logical to understand, and dispite not having tried other brands
of BBS software, I think its probably one of the best around,
for my purpose at least.
 
I had set a goal of 1000 calls and 250 users within the first
year of operation.  I decided that was a hefty goal, and I'd
have to advertise my board extensively to meet it.  I advertised
on Prodigy, other BBSs, and the throw-away computer newspapers.
Last month, after running the board for a year and a half, I had
received my 10,000th call, and 1500th user.  I have been using
Excel to plot the growth of my BBS, and I did bring a copy of
that chart along with me, though I don't plan on following Ross
Perot's example and having a chart for each aspect of my talk.
 
[show and pass around chart]
 
I started the HamBBS with the express purpose of a free public
service to the ham community.  I realized there was a need for
such a board, because I had spent two years trying to locate
software for ham radio, and I was getting quite frustrated with
the lack of a source.  I had to call twenty different board
trying to locate just one piece of software, which I often times
was unable to find. 
 
With the HamBBS, I gathered up all the ham software I could
find, which amounted to roughly 400 programs, got a new hard
disk, and put them on-line.  I didn't realize it at the time,
but I had created a BBS which was desperately needed by the ham
community.   The HamBBS now carries ham radio software, scanner
frequency lists, technical and electronic stuff, amateur
satellite and amateur television information, as well as a host
of information about ham radio.
 
A few months into my sysop career, I felt daring and brought in
RIME, RFNET and TECHNET.  RFNET is an echonet just for Ham radio
topics, with about 10 conferences.  It was quite an education
for me, but the users didn't use the system, as they already
talked to most of the same people via radio. 
 
I have been fortunate in that I have not had any disk crashes or
people trying to crash the system.  My knowledge about computers
and communications has been greatly expanded by being a BBS
SysOp.  One enjoyment I get out of SysOping is helping other
teenagers find out about BBSs, and help them explore the systems.
 
I'm going to slightly switch topics and talk for a few minutes
about Amateur radio, and some of the advancements in that hobby.
It is now possible to get an Amateur radio license without
knowing the morse code.  The FCC has created a codeless license
which allows operation on all frequencies above 30 MHz, which
permitts for local communication, but no communication on the
shortwave frequencies.  The new license class has been quite
successful, and the ham population is growing quite rapidly, as
was the goal of the license.
 
One aspect of ham radio that is of perticular interest to me
because of its computer aspect is a mode of communication known
as packet radio.  Industry is beginning to use this term, and
mode of communication, for LANS.  It is a phrase and mode the
Amateur radio community coined and developed over the last 15
years.  The easiest quickest explanation of packet radio is to
take the BBS system we are all familiar with, and in the place
of a phone line, insert a radio.  Hams use either the AX.25
protocall, or TCP/IP for communications on packet radio.  The
system is based around what we SysOps and BBS users would call a
one conference echonet system, with one level of nodes
accessable to the users, and another level of backbone hubs for
passing on the messages.  Packet radio operates at speeds
ranging from 300 to 19.2 KB. 

One of the things I speak frequently about at Amateur radio
conventions is the importance of youth in amateur radio.  With
phone line BBSs, there is not such a great need, but I would
like to encourage the SysOps to answer your younger users
questions, and encourage them in their interests.  As I
conclude, I would like to thank Beth Hall for inviting me to
speak here tonight, and all of the SysOps who have helped me
join their ranks over the last year. 

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