Reader Input Request (RIR):  As you know, I have started working on the periodic updates and upgrades planned for UrbanSurvival. Just by being here, you’re already a highly esteemed member of our Board of Directors. In order to make sure we continue to deliver a quality product, please take the time to send an email to and let me know as many of your thoughts as possible on the following points.

Display: First question is “What size device screen are you using?”  This one is important because unlike the old days, we actually can “tune” sites to deliver an optimized reading experience depending on “viewport” settings.  Back in the old days, a 1080 browser width was all it took.  No longer, though.

Browser type:  Phone?           Desktop?

(Continues below)


Layout: Next is the current layout basically shows up at “centered” on most displays.  But this could be reduced to a two column display which might result in a bit less scrolling.  The downside of this?  It’s not quite as pleasing to the eye.

Do you prefer 3 Columns (now) or would you like 2 Columns?

Chart Location:  know this is a biggy.  Right now, on desktops and large devices, there are three charts at the top of the website.  These are “served” to us from  They get a minor ad, but we are able to keep you updated on prices of gold and such,

We may have a limit on placing these charts at the TOP of the revised site software.  In the event we do, please let me know:

How important are the charts?  Very?       Not?

Preferred location:  Top?        Side?

Want a Crypto Chart if I can find one?

Yes?       A what?

Page Speed:  This is another one that is important to us:  Do you find page load speed is OK now?

We are always doing our best, but…

Does Urban load fast enough?  Yes?      No?

Social Media:  You know my thoughts on social media (boo, hiss!), but I also realize that you may use it to communicate with your friends.  (We don’t have any, so no social is a no-brainer, lol.)

Do you want social buttons?   Yes?     No?

Best two Socials for you?_____        _______

Color Scheme:

Do you like the blue color scheme, or would you like to see a change?

It’s OK?          Change it to:______________

Comments and Discussion:

There are TONS of reader comments.  More than 24,000.

Would you like to see additional emphasis on discussion?  This might be done by adding some additional functionality to the discussion portion of the site.

Yes, like the discussions?       I don’t care about other people’s thinking?

Thank you.  Copy, paste, and toss in comments and send to

The idea is not to change the basic content of Urban, but rather to keep it as user-friendly as possible.

These are the typical questions that most web site designers would ask, but if there’s anything else on your mind about the mechanics of the site, please pass them on.

Again, thank you.  We now return to our regularly scheduled programming in process…

Best Columns Contest

Every year, the National Association of Newspaper Columnists (which I’m a member of) has a contest to find some of the best columns written in the previous year.

In the past, I have picked out what I thought was some of my best work and sent it in.

To be sure, I’m not very good at column-picking.  So, in order to maybe up the odds, if you remember any columns from the previous year that struck you as especially “good” please let me know which one(s?) so I can include them in the submission this year.

Columnists are an interesting group…and we’ll likely be attending their convention this year up in Cincinnati, Ohio come June.

The conventions float around – giving us all a chance to “immerse” for a few days in different parts of the country.  The Macon, Georgia convention was fun…while the Detroit convention was closer to heart rendering.  In between were the conventions in Hartford, CT and elsewhere.  Though Hartford got us all through Mark Twain’s home which was interesting.

Since Ohio is off to the northeast of Texas somewhere, we may be able to swing through Hannibal, MO on the trip.  That’d give us a chance to revisit another “Twain town.”  Last time through was in the airplane for a refueling stop and we were, as always on a schedule.  We’re trying to learn the art of slowing down a bit.

Ham Corner:  The BIG Switch

Ham radio is often not so much about money, although there are people who do spend $10,000 and up on a piece of equipment.

Come to think of it, if you feel like sending Ures truly a late Christmas (or early birthday) present, click here…  The good news is, for $12,000 plus, you get a free shipping.

Still, at the other extreme, it doesn’t take a lot of money, or power to have fun.  For this?  We have eBay.

This week’s big problem?  On the old Gonset GSB-100 there is only a front-panel switch to manually turn on transmit. Since the panel mounted wafer switch is nearly, uh, 60-years old, finding a replacement would be difficult.  So an external switch makes lots of sense.  You just hook something up to the terminal strip on the back, but that means finding the right external switch.

And here’s the Joy du Jour in ham parts:  Turns out that tattoo artists apparently need enough foot switches that you can pick one up on eBat for under $5-bucks!  Check out the item here.

I’ve regaled you in the past about the value of a foot switch for power tools in the shop, but this is low-voltage switching.  And for this, I’d like to thank all those people who got tattoos.


If there hadn’t been a zillion people getting tats, there would not be foot switches wearing out.  And without the foot switches going out, some entrepreneurial sort in Shezen, China would never has posted on eBay for these dandy foot switches.

I can think of lots of applications for them, specialized this and that’s…but for one, a simple transmit switch is a fine deal.

That leaves only THE BIG SWITCH to kill equipment.

The way (old school) ham radio conversations end, particularly on AM around 3886 KHz on the 75 meter phone band end is often something like this…

“Well, old man, about time to pull the BIG switch.  Gotta be at work early tomorrow, so we’ll be seeing you on down the electric bill…”

South hams might begin “Well, bub…”  While in the Northeast, you might be seen “down the power bill…”  Such are the dialects you pick up.

While a simple outlet strip will provide a “local” BIG switch, back in the day my previous ham shacks featured a 220V disconnect.  In the modern era, the servers are co-located in the same facility, so we leave that BIG switch the hell alone.

The best one ever was a mercury whetted silent 110V switch.  These are getting harder to find, though.  Almost as good – and bright red to boot – is the Leviton 1221-2R 20-Amp, 120/277-Volt, Toggle Single-Pole AC Quiet Switch, Extra Heavy Duty Spec Grade, Self Grounding, Red which with a matching red cover will come to $14-bucks, or so with Amazon Prime.

Initially, this “Big Switch” will live in an outdoor utility box.  Total overkill, but a good foot switch and “the Big” switch are some of the fun accoutrements of an eccentric hobby.

One of these days, we will have an UrbanSurvival CW meet-up on the 40 meter back some evening.  Times and frequencies are open to suggestions…

Whew…back to more mainstream stuff Thursday.  Or, not.

Oh, and thanks get getting tattoo’ed.  Helps ham radio, robotics, science labs, and who else will discover the cheap foot switches?

Write when you get rich, (Or when you have the shipping info on that Icom 7851 for me, roflol…)

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