[CQ-Contest] Some Questions about Packetcluster

Bruce Sawyer zf2nt at candw.ky
Fri Apr 21 14:12:41 EDT 2000

It has now been so long since I connected to any packetcluster that my
understanding of the technology must be many generations old.  Thus I'm
talking from a perspective of pure ignorance here, and hoping somebody can
give me the answer I would love to hear.

It occurred to me this morning that rather than just bitch and complain (to
myself, of course, because there's nobody else around to hear the
complaints) about how much I despise packet systems and all the problems
they cause me, it might actually be possible to do something about it.  What
I would love to see would be a way I could enter my call into a database of
calls that all packetcluster systems access on some periodic basis.  The
idea is that no spot would ever be announced for calls in that database.  A
person could enter a spot, but it would not be repeated over the net if the
target call was in this database.  Wishful thinking?  Perhaps, just like all
the impotent laws that have been passed to protect us from junk mail and
junk fax.  Still, I know (?) the packetcluster software originates at only a
few sources, so that's some cause for hope.  And with every packetcluster
system in the world now connected via internet, is there some way now or
potentially in the future that a call could be blocked from being spread
from one system to another over internet connections?

I'm sure this sounds silly to most folks sitting back in the US, but the
problem with packetcluster is so bad for me it has just about put me off the
air.  I am only on for a few minutes when the tell-tale signs always appear:
bunches of people tuning up right on top of the station I'm trying to copy.
Then I get a bunch of "?" thrown at me, and finally people just start
blasting calls, over and over and over.  Invariably these are the most inept
operators in the hobby, and all they want to do is hear their call, plus
"5NN", and then send back "5NN".  I used to dial into DX Summit to find who
the low-life @*#&$% was that put out a spot on me so I could put him on my
blacklist, but it's always some call I don't recognize and whom I've never
worked.  I guess people just like to show off to their neighbors what they
can find on the air.  If there were a way I could exact retribution, I'd do
it.  But it's like trying to fight junk mail; you can't win.

I know being disabled from packet would hurt me in general contests, but
that's a price I'd gladly be willing to pay.  In fact, I'm sure there are
many others who would line up right behind me, because I've talked with them
about the problem.  If we could get ourselves protected this way, I think
the real DXers would actually profit from it.  Why?  Because I, just like
some of the other people I'm thinking about, enter a lot of "restricted"
contests (e.g. BERU, FOC Marathon).  These are contests where only a certain
set of people count for points, and when I'm doing one of those contests
there is no way I'm going to acknowledge anybody who is not one of those
"certain set of people".  The reason for that is that I know that the
instant I do, somebody is going to put it out on packet and I'll be deluged
by people who don't count for me and who will keep me from hearing the
stations I need for point credit.  I can't count the number of times I've
had to listen to "PSE PSE NEW COUNTRY FER ME ON 160", but all the begging in
the world isn't going to cut any ice.  In fact, I often spend far more time
trying to fight these people off than it would take to give them a simple
"5NN" and send them on their merry way.  Why?  Because I'm afraid of being
spotted.  (Actually, it's going to happen anyway.  I counted 23 different
spots on me during BERU, and none of the people in that contest are allowed
to use packet.  All those spots did was cause me grief and the people who
chased them frustration.)  If I didn't have to worry about being spotted,
I'd be glad to shut the interlopers up with a quick "5NN" and move on to the
point-credit contacts.  So would a lot of other people I know.  Don't
believe me?  Talk with 9J2BO, 5B4AGC, or 9H1EL about it sometime.

So is this all just a pipe dream, or is there hope somewhere on the horizon?

Bruce, ZF2NT

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