Vicarious Eavesdropping

That little nap yesterday afternoon…Β πŸ˜’Β screwed up my entire night. Didn’t fall asleep until about 3am, and I was up and down almost every hour on the hour from then on out. I don’t know if I was dreaming, since I was watching a huge storm front going through Illinois and Indiana as I was getting sleepy, but it was either that or I just barely slept through what sounded like a huge downpour. πŸŒ§οΈβ›ˆοΈπŸ‘πŸŒ§οΈπŸŒ§οΈΒ As if someone was spraying a hose against the side of my house. (Probably just my imagination.)Β Meh… now I’m just tired and grumpy and have a friggin’ neck / headache again, but hey… at least it’s Saturday. πŸ™‚πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Took my morning meds and some Aleve, so I’ll be feeling better soon. Also, I’ve got a package on the way. 😯 And how can you be in a shit mood when you’ve got a package coming? 😁 Before bed each night, I usually spend a while listening to the scanner, and relaying any interesting bits to Amy, my night-time / insomnia texting wife. 😏 We use that term jokingly, of course… but everyone (if they’re married) has a real spouse, but then you often have a “work wife”, an “internet wife”, a “texting wife”, etc. Anyway, the scanner is great, but I’m far enough from town that reception is sometimes a problem. πŸ€¨πŸ“»

So I found a cheap, wide-band, glass mount antenna with the bitty SMA connector that my Uniden HomePatrol 1 uses – and it’s supposed to arrive today. Hopefully by one of their delivery people that has the GPS system where it’ll pop up a little map, showing where they are, and how many stops until they reach you. πŸ€“πŸ§­πŸšš Gonna tuck the antenna behind the curtain on the picture window, which somewhat faces towards town, so hopefully it’ll give me just enough boost that I’ll stop getting garbled transmissions.

At this point, $20 was about the limit that I was willing to throw at a possible solution, but I did also consider that my metal awnings could possibly used with a magnet mount ground plane antenna. But not only does that start to get outside of my wheelhouse when it comes to antenna knowledge, but they’re also more expensive, and I don’t have an easy way to run the connecting cable into the house. Besdies, I’m not sure I care enough about “perfect reception” to bother doing whatever I’d need to do to get it perfect. 😏 Most services in the area have gone to digital broadcasting anyway, so I imagine it’s only a matter of time before they start using encryption as well – which would make my receiver useless. πŸ˜• Gone are the days of getting a $20 “Bearcat” scanner at a yard sale that would give you access to almost everything you’d wanna listen to.

Okay, enough rambling… just wanted to bang out an entry to help me wake up and get my day started. I doubt I’m gonna be out of the house much over the next couple of days, having no appointments or obligations (and also wanting to avoid the bizarre 90 degree “fall” weather), so that gives me even more reason to anxiously await the arrival of that antenna for one of my toys. πŸ€“πŸ˜Œ It’s honestly too cheap, so I’m not expecting much, but if it gives me just enough gain re: these two specific channels it’ll have been worth it.

Makes me wish for a “Fall Hamvention” … but I probably wouldn’t go to that one either. πŸ˜…Β I miss Hara Arena.

Lurking Celebs

Having some difficulty getting moving today. Just taking it easy and letting it come to me. I’ve already got a few things that I know I want to get done later today, and I think once the sun is completely down it will get easier.

Wandered around on Twitter for a bit when I woke up, and noticed that I got a reply that surprised me on a tweet I had made last night. It’s always a bit surreal when someone famous replies to or likes one of your tweets, but even more so when it’s a celebrity that you’ve always liked. I mean, who would think that I’d get a reply from Piper Perabo the other day when asking about a House Resolution / Senate Bill regarding gun control. I try not to internally fanboy about it too much, remembering that they’re just normal folks like the rest of us.

I’ve been making a ton of progress with my new police scanner. I’ll have to maybe put some screenshots of the various frequencies I’ve got saved in various “favorites” files for it to use. I mean, it can search whatever you want based on your zip code, but it’s always better to customize some lists to get exactly what you’re looking for at any given moment. And it has a recording features which not only names the WAV files according to the department / system / channel it was recorded from, but when it records – it also skips the “dead air” bits… resulting in a complete recording, but somewhat time compressed.

Alright, I’m gonna hop off here and see if I can make something of this day…

EDIT: Increased the font size for the blog entries. I know I ramble, and small text would kind of hide that “feature” of my writing, but it’s just easier on the eyes and also helps my various emoji be recognizable for what they are pretty much.

The Future Is Now

It’s been a long time coming, but all of the public service agencies in my area have finally switched out their radios, and are now using digital transmitting/receiving rather than the old analog systems that had been in place and unchanged ever since I was a teenager. πŸ‘΄πŸ» So the old police scanners that nearly everyone in Lancaster has… they’re essentially worthless now, at least when it comes to monitoring all of the action in town.

I’m not sure if it was a financial or transparency-based decision, but while they’ve upgraded to a fully digital system, they’ve decided against using encryption. The easiest thing to compare it to is the way that television broadcasts have changed over the past 10 or 20 years. No more analog signals, but if you have a digital cable box or digital tuner you can easily pick up the new transmissions. It’s the same thing with the public service radios… it’s just a different means of broadcasting. πŸ€“ If they went with encrypted systems though, it would be similar to how wireless phones use digital signals, but they’re also encrypted so that nobody but the caller and recipient are able to hear what’s being said. 🀨

The bad news? While you used to be able to buy a $40 scanner to listen to police, fire, and rescue… digital scanners are significantly more expensive. So much so that many people can’t or won’t want to make the upgrade to continue following the activity. πŸ™ And, at least here in Lancaster, an always-running police scanner has been about as common in homes as a stove, fridge, or washing machine. 😏

I had actually been considering getting a new scanner myself, going so far as to have “shopped them out” online so that I knew what I would get if the cost didn’t make me cringe so hard… and while I made the decision then that it was too expensive, hitting that little jackpot at Hollywood the other day has changed my tune. πŸ€— Oh, I still cringed when I loaded up the page of the one I wanted, but I went ahead and ordered it anyway.

The Homepatrol-1 units are basically “Digital Scanners for Dummies.” Where most other next-gen scanners are more computer than radio (with endless programming options and tweaks accordingly) the Homepatrol-1 is more about an easy listening/monitoring experience. It has built-in memory with a database that covers the entire United States, and it is updated weekly by the manufacturer – based off of frequency information provided by the users and staff at RadioReference.com

So, with the way our local departments are still going through changes, as the current frequency information is discovered and updated on the site – all I’ll have to do (in theory) is punch up my zip code in the scanner… and all of the agencies and radio options will automagically appear before my eyes. πŸ˜€ So, along with it being one of the cheaper scanners,Β that’sΒ what actually sold me on it. The ability to start using it as soon as I get it, without having to spend hours figuring it out and programming it. It does have many advanced options though, especially through the included Sentinel software that is used for easier/quicker programming… so yeah, it’ll still be something to challenge my nerd brain as well.

I’m sure it probably seems like a frivolous purchase to a lot of people… but living by myself, outside of the city limits, away from the humans… having a scanner running gives me the sense of “staying connected” with a community that I still consider to be home, even if I’m not in the heart of it. (Plus there’s all kinds of other stuff to search for and listen to on top of that…)