The French interactive fiction competition went live over this last weekend with ten games maintaining a fairly consistent ratio of about ten to one with IFcomp over the last few years. A variety of authoring systems were employed including Moiki, Ink, Inform 6, Ren’Py, and Various flavors of Twine. Play time ranged from about fifteen minutes to about two hours.
As in previous iterations of the competition, judges vote on the games by assigning a score from one to ten in the following categories: Overall best work, Technical Quality, Quality of Writing. There is also a special prize for the story that best captures the yearly theme, this year “Ruins and Decay”. Voting is open through 10 January using an online form that can be completed in French or English.
I played the games in a random order and will review them in the same order, below. Note that the competition allows online handles or pseudonyms, some author names might be revised when results are announced.
This six-point peak is near the town of Omodos, known for its wine production, right along the Limassol-Paphos border. It is about an hour and a half drive from Nicosia whether you choose to go through the mountains or along the coast. However, although my GPS was able to plot a route right next to the peak, it took me two visits to reach the peak. Why? It looks like you can just pull over and then cut across a field, right? No. The dark line running along the edge of that field is the shadow cast by sheer stone cliffs a couple hundred meters high.
This year broke a record: eight games were submitted, all of them web-based, with play times from about fifteen minutes to a couple hours. Once again, I’m reviewing them in English so I can get the reviews out quickly and because I think it will reach a wider audience and perhaps lure some folks to try out the games, even if it is with dictionary in hand.
I intentionally played the games out of order, and am now reviewing them in that same order.
This is a state-of-the-shack update. I’ve finally got a few temporary antennas up and am beginning to make contacts from the home station including a tiny bit of contesting.
The first antenna I tried from home was the Buddipole. Before taking it into the field for SOTA operations, I practiced with it one afternoon on the roof. It happened to be the weekend of the Ukranian DX contest, so I did a quick spin through 20m and worked about five stations one after the other with my FT817. I was happy to make any contacts, particularly on a crowded band. No doubt some of the credit goes to the Ukranian operators and their ability to pick out weak signals.
I intentionally activated Cushetank Mountain in the late Spring: the Round Valley Recreation Area charges no admission before Memorial Day, it was not too hot, and most importantly, the number of bugs in the air was tolerable.
The set up is kind of odd: you need to enter the Round Valley Recreation Area off Stanton Lebanon Road, park in the South Parking Lot, and then follow a trail that wraps around the western and southern edges of the Round Valley Reservoir. The trail goes through a dam facility, a summer camp, and past a few houses before it turns towards a campground and the summit.
Hazeltop is another summit on the “not too hard” list within Shenandoah National Park. If you park at the Milam Gap parking lot (38.4784N, 78.4517W), it’s about a 3.3 km hike along the Mill Prong trail to the summit, with a net vertical rise of about 170m. There are some flat stretches to this trail, but also some hilly bits.
This was the first of a series of summits I am hoping to activate within Shenandoah National Park, and proved to be very straightforward. The only twist was avoiding operating next to the government installation at the end of a road leading to the summit. Instead, I operated just a little to the side, but still on the summit.
Last weekend was one of the highlights of my ham radio experience even though I spent most of it shivering and hunched over a pair of paddles on a frigid mountaintop.
Mike, KA4CDN, and I decided to mount an expedition with the goal of activating rare counties for the 2019 Virginia QSO Party. We poured over spreadsheets of prior year activity and looked for places where we might camp on the intersection of two or more counties. We came up with a few possibilities, but ultimately decided to check out Rocky Mountain, which lies at the intersection of Nelson, Rockbridge, and Amherst counties. Additionally, it is centrally located in Virginia, which we thought would give us the best chance of picking up the many multipliers (95 counties and 38 independent cities) in the state.
The Bottom Line
To cut to the chase, despite poor propagation, we did better than we thought we would: more than 850 QSOs and broad coverage of multipliers throughout both Virginia and North America. Best of all, we worked a bunch of people we knew including at least ten members of our home club, the Vienna Wireless Society.
Last week, I put up a new HF antenna and this week, I set the station up to operate in FT8 mode. Below, I describe a minimalist implementation using an Elecraft K3, a computer and two audio patch cords. I am focusing only on items specific to the radio and not found in the WSJT-X documentation.