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Re: [CQ-Contest] Assisted or not assisted question

To: "'Paul O'Kane'" <pokane@ei5di.com>, <cq-contest@contesting.com>
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Assisted or not assisted question
From: "Dick Green WC1M" <wc1m73@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2012 14:19:24 -0400
List-post: <cq-contest@contesting.com">mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
> I believe this approach is flawed because the focus is on the end
> result, and it disregards the means, no matter how inappropriate, by
> which the result is achieved.

The problem is that we don't have complete agreement on what means are
"inappropriate". During the CW Skimmer debates on the reflector, many held
the position that its use should be allowed in the Single Op category
because no other human is involved and the information doesn't come from
outside the station. Those people focused on the term "assisted", and
decided that it means "help from another human." A local Skimmer isn't
human, so it's OK. Others who opposed that position tried to claim that the
computer provides "assistance." But they were unable to distinguish the type
of assistance provided by CW Skimmer from other assistance provided by the
computer and other hardware/software, such as SCP, single-channel decoding,
digital mode decoding, automatic band switching, computerized band scopes,

This is what led the CAC to an information-based approach. What's critically
important about CW Skimmer is that it provides the same information to the
operator as packet. Even more important, that information allows the
operator to find stations without tuning and listening, which is the heart
and soul of the Single Op category and what truly distinguishes it from the
Single Op Unlimited (or Assisted) category. This one aspect of operating --
how new stations are found -- accounts for all of the competitive difference
between the two categories.

This is a good time to point out something I've been thinking about during
this debate: it's not all about the competitive difference. The problem is,
if there was no distinction between Single Op and Single Op Unlimited, and
CW Skimmer and/or packet was allowed for any single operator station, then
the operator who prefers the classic Single Op technique would be forced to
use those facilities to compete. Anyone who has competed both ways can tell
you that there is a huge difference. Personally, after a few QSOs, the fun
of point-and-click wears off for me, and I get bored to tears with it. I
much prefer the challenge and fun of tuning and listening, as well as the
thrill of finding a new mult all by myself.

I started out as a DXer back in the early 80s, just before packet came on
strong. I worked my first 100 stations with no packet assistance at all.
Many an evening and weekend I would sit in front of the radio and tune for
hours, hoping to dig out an elusive rare or semi-rare DX station. I can't
tell you how thrilling it was the day I happened to be tuned to an empty
frequency, and a very weak BY station came on and started CQing. That was
when BY had just returned to the Amateur airwaves after a very long absence,
so huge pileups were the norm. I was the first station to work this
particular BY, and no sooner had we finished than a huge pileup developed. I
still remember how exciting and satisfying that experience was. I still feel
that thrill today when I come across and work a needed multiplier in a
contest, especially if a packet pileup hasn't started yet. Even if one has,
breaking through with a well-timed call is very satisfying. It brings back
the old thrill of DXing before packet. Anyone who wants a better description
of this than I can provide should read The Complete DXer, a wonderful and
definitive book on the subject by Bob Locher, W9KNI.

It was not long after my first 100 DX countries that packet spots became
widely available (on 2m, not the Internet, which didn't really exist at the
time.) I had just started a business, so I had less and less time to
operate. Mostly, I fell into simply monitoring packet instead of tuning and
listening. I got a little bit of a thrill when I worked a new one from a
packet spot, but it definitely wasn't the same feeling. I only really got
that thrill when I worked a super-rare one, like Scarborough Reef. Semi-rare
ones were nice, but not much of a challenge. I slowly accumulated new
countries, and eventually got Honor Roll, then #1 Honor Roll. I'm very proud
of those plaques -- it took decades and a lot of work to get them. But I
must say that the thrill went out of it somewhere after the first 200
countries, and that's one reason I switched to serious contesting.

My point is, there's a very real difference in what you have to do and how
it feels to operate Single Op. Even more important than keeping the
competitive playing field level, I felt it was crucial to preserve this
difference for those who, like me, really enjoy the thrill of tuning and
listening for new ones. It's not just nostalgia, but truly a unique way of
operating. Forcing us to use Skimmer and/or packet to compete would have
taken away something we cherish.

In my opinion, the information-based approach does a superb job of defining
exactly what the difference is between Single Op and Single Op Unlimited
with respect to both the competitive factors and the "look and feel".

73, Dick WC1M

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul O'Kane [mailto:pokane@ei5di.com]
> Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2012 9:49 AM
> To: cq-contest@contesting.com
> Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Assisted or not assisted question
> On 03/06/2012 22:50, Dick Green WC1M wrote:
> <snip>
> > There were two problems with completely outlawing CW decoders. One,
> > they had been permitted for a long time, and there's generally a
> > reluctance to take away something that has been permitted.
> It seems to me this is a long way of describing the "do nothing" option.
> > Second, RTTY and other digital modes
> > require a single-channel decoder, and it would have required some
> > special language to outlaw one kind of decoder but allow other kinds
> of decoders.
> Please consider this - it's simple and unambiguous.
>    CW decoders, whether single or multi-channel, are
>    not permitted for Single Op.
> > This is yet another reason that we chose to focus on the information
> > provided by the technology, not the technology itself.
> I believe this approach is flawed because the focus is on the end
> result, and it disregards the means, no matter how inappropriate, by
> which the result is achieved.
> 73,
> Paul EI5DI

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