Progress!

    A couple of the Local QRPers came by the other day and beat their way up the hill. They were in the middle of a heated argument and we decided this might be a good way to pass the time while we were waiting for the VK0 boys to show up on the low bands. By the time the QRPers had reached the veranda, the shouting had stopped and they were glaring at each other with their beady little eyes. We made sure they were seated at opposite corners . . . we decided to break the ice with a bit of small talk: "Sure is nice to see the sun return after that cold spell", we said carefully, looking back and forth at them.

    "Yeah, weather's great!", the sleek headed QRPer to our right blurted out, dismissing that topic in a second, "What do you think of this Internet stuff and the Heard Island logs being posted up there for public view?" This was not what we wanted to discuss and we told the QRPer this: "Look, this is an emerging technology, and none of us know it is a good thing or a bad thing for DXing. Let's wait until things settle down before we argue the point." Before he could answer, the second QRPer stood up and began the all too familiar finger pointing and arm-waving. "You can't stop progress!", he said in a loud voice, staring right past us and over at the QRPer who was sleek of head. "You can whine and complain, but computers and the Internet are here to stay. Don't try to fight progress. The Heard Island boys are doing an excellent job down there where it's cold and the climate is harsh and unforgiving!" He turned his attention to us and blurted out: "And the operation is all the better because of the Internet, right?"

    This was starting to remind us of one of the press buildups to a boxing match. A heavyweight one, too, although the QRPer promoting the Internet was only five and a half feet! While the QRPers were still in their corners glaring, we decided to do the usual side step: "Let's ask the Old Timer", we said is a neutral tone. So we hauled them up the hill to the sage and turned them loose. The Old Timer listened to the sleek headed QRPer's pitch: "This Internet stuff is OK in its place", he began, "but it's ruining our hobby. It's going to be the end of DXing. Why, within a day they have the logs up on some computer that everyone can look at." He motioned to the other QRPer and continued, "Why he can even look at the logs and see what bands I worked them on, and what modes too. What business is it of his whether or not I'm in the log? And my hobby is DXing anyhow, not computers and modems and all that suffering stuff! Why do I have to buy all that equipment that I don't understand or want? I want to be a DXer, not a computer nut!"

     The Old Timer nodded and turned his attention to the other QRPer. "He stuck in the past!", he began, "he probably would have argued to keep AM and never go to SSB. He spent three years running down Packet Clusters, until he finally got an old terminal and some used packet gear . . . and now he can't live without the cluster spots! Spark transmissions came and were replaced by CW. AM came along and was replaced by SSB. Now computers and the Internet are threatening packet and even direct QSLs . . . although the replacement of QSLs with their electronic equivalent may be some time off, that's coming too. And we all better be prepared for it! We have to change with the times, and the Heard Island gang are on the leading edge!" By now he was pounding his fist on the table and his voice had reached a feverish crescendo. " DXing has undergone a fundamental change with this single operation, VK0IR!! DXing will never be the same again!"

    Son of a Gun! We were sold! The sleek headed QRPer simply glared at all of us, waiting for a response. The Old Timer took a deep breath and said to him: "Do you have access to these logs? And if you do, is it true that you can look at everyone's QSOs as well as your own?" "Yes", the QRPer responded grudgingly, "sort of. I get my XYL to do it for me. I could do it if I wanted to, but I'm a DXer, not a computer operator!" The Old Timer turned to the arm-waving QRPer and asked him the same thing. "Sure do have access!", he replied, "got a new computer too. 200-Mhz! And a high speed modem and the latest Internet software. There isn't a thing that moves on the Internet I don't have instant access too!" The Old Timer was silent for a moment, then spoke again, "To clarify then, both of you have access to the Internet and both can read the logs, although one of you can do it a bit faster. And neither of you can change whether the logs are there or not, right? Or how often they are updated, or even if a DXpedition uses the Internet at all. Is this all correct?" The QRPers nodded in unison.

    The Old Timer let out a sigh that was a sure sign that he'd been around this track before. "How many QSOs do you have with the VK0 DXpedition? And how many does he have?" he asked the sleek headed QRPer. "Four for me and eight for him", he replied. "Then why are you here?" the Old Timer replied, getting out of his chair and looking sternly at both QRPers. "Why are you here wasting my time asking about computers and the Internet? This isn't about change, or progress, or anything to do with computers and you both know it! It's the same old refrain. Envy has no holidays! Now get out of here!", he roared and the QRPers were off down the hill, scurrying for cover and glancing over their shoulders.

    The Old Timer sat down and looked over at us. "The Eternal Enigmas of DXing never change, do they?", he asked, and we had to admit this was true. The true measure of a DXpedition is not how many QSOs they make, or how well they handle the pileups. It doesn't matter if they work 24 hours a day on all bands and modes, or if the DXpedition lasts two hours or two weeks. What counts is how many times you are in the log . . . and as long as it is more often than your best DX pal, it is a great DXpedition! And it especially doesn't matter how you find out . . . as long as your friend comes in second! Absolutely. Ask any Big Gun DXer and they will tell you the exact opposite. For sure. And if that isn't proof that you have hit the nail on the head, what is? Think about it! But not too long, because your pal might be working VK0IR on 160 while you are thinking! DX IS!


This story is in the public domain and may be reproduced in any format. - VE1DX

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Last updated on Thursday, 12 April 2007