Saturday, February 09, 2008

Kudos to the ARRL

I'm a Life Member; but not a particularly enamored one.

I find fault with the League for failing to take a strong stand in favor of the CW requirement in Amateur Radio licensing. We've seen what a "smoke and mirrors" deal that turned out to be! I also am not quite the fan of their "regulation by bandwith" plan; and I'm definitely suspect of their (what I consider to be) ill-advised love affair with WinLink.

But when they get something right, they get it right; and since I'm not shy to offer my criticism, I have to be fair and not be shy about giving them their due, either.

I haven't uploaded anything to Logbook of the World in over a year. I decided to rectify that situation about a week ago. I figured I'd get all up to date. So I went to LOTW, and figured out what my last uploaded QSO was; and made an ADIF file for all the most recent. It turned out to be over 1200 QSOs, by the way.

However, when I uploaded them; I found out that a bunch (over 1000) of them didn't "take". A little investigation as to the properties of my certificate showed, that while the certificate itself hadn't expired, the certificate would only accept QSOs up to December of 2006.

Not a problem! I simply went through the process of renewing the certificate and put in a "ending date" as high as I possibly could. In this case, the latest date I could enter was December 31, 2009. So I did that.

Two days later, the new certificate came in the e-mail, along with the .tq5 attachment. As per the e-mail, I double clicked the .tq5 attachment and the Trusted QSL Certificate program came to life. It did away with the old certificate and seemed to unlock the new one I had just applied for. I proceeded to sign may ADIF file with the new certificate and uploaded those over 1000 QSOs that didn't "take". Much to my chagrin and horror, they didn't take this time, either! My results message was that the processing of my QSOs had been aborted because my certificate had been "superseded". Superseded by what? I checked the certificate under the "properties" area and the serial number showed I was using the correct one. I was disappointed.

In my opinion, LOTW is unnecessarily complicated. I also use eQSL and find it much more intuitive and easier to use. Ironically, I'm not a big fan of electronic QSLs, preferring the traditional way the most; but I do like to be up to date with both electronic QSL powerhouses.

I was annoyed and vexed and was willing to let it just be. But then I saw the link on the LOTW page where I could contact the League with problems. I figured "What the heck" and fired off an e-mail with a cut and paste off the error message that I had received. I figured that if I ever heard from the League, it would probably be in a week or two.

I was surprised to see an answer the next day, sitting in my e-mail inbox! It was from Kathy Allison KA1RWY. She explained that I had tried to update the old certificate and was using that. Now, that was incorrect, because when I had double clicked the .tq5 attachment, it got rid of my old certificate. But then she added something that caught my attention. She told me to go into the Trusted QSL Certificate program and manually re-apply the .tq5 file (instead of double clicking) and then upload my log again. That worked! The program accepted my QSOs and I am up to date.

Being a curmudgeon, I did not expect such a fast response from the League. While their answer wasn't quite spot on, they did give me the information I needed to figure out how to get the job done. Thank you ARRL (in particular, Kathy Allison KA1RWY). You really came though this time!

73 de Larry W2LJ

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