HAMNET South Africa would like to welcome our new SARL Office Administrator Kelley Heslop to her post, and wish her many happy days of interaction with all us crazy folks, as we go about playing radio, and being of service to the community. We hope we don’t drive you mad, Kelly!
Things are looking up a bit, as far as dam levels around the country are concerned. All provinces have recorded higher dam levels this week compared to last week, except the Eastern Cape which is static, and the Western Cape, whose levels have dropped by 2% since last week. Gauteng, Mpumalanga, North West and Northern Cape dams are all now fuller than this time last year, which is most reassuring.
Sadly, the Western Cape has been battling huge fires this week, with large tracts of land and some properties in the Helderberg and Grabouw area devastated, and around Simonstown, where a huge fire broke out dramatically on Wednesday. This resulted in road closures, large scale evacuation of suburbs, and even herding of baboon troops away from the fires, while small animals like buck, tortoises and snakes were rescued and released elsewhere. Fifty horses were moved from Glencairn stables. Rumours of arsonists seen starting the fires abound, as the authorities investigate their causes.
Meanwhile, over Europe, Emergency communicators are preparing for bad weather, with very low temperatures, storms, snow and potential floods.
Greg Mossop, G0DUB says that RAYNET groups in the UK have been either active or on standby for the last few days to deal with the effects of flooding on the East coast of the country. He has also seen on Twitter that some ADRASEC groups in France have been ready to respond to the weather conditions and now, through Facebook, a notice that 330 000 homes in France have lost their electricity supplies.
Snow and ice have extended down to Greece, and Adrian YO3HJV says that, in Romania, they had heavy snow and Orange Codes for very low temperatures during the week, but no severe alerts were issued for them (RVSU), so they only had to pass routine type traffic.
In some counties there were Red Codes for snow and freezing weather but fortunately, in big cities, the schools were closed. Also in the Eastern counties of Romania, almost all roads were closed during Orange and Red Codes for severe weather, so there were no significant problems.
They had some warnings issued for potential power failures in some areas from the National Electric Energy Company for the next few days but they are prepared for that. There are also some severe alerts issued for the next week but there is no confirmation yet. They are using this relatively warm weekend to prepare for the worst.
In anticipation, in Bucharest, they started a Winlink2000 gateway on UHF and a very wide area digipeater, which is heard consistently in Bulgaria and can pass information through LZ digipeaters up to the extreme South West of Romania.
They mainly use Office 365 for routine traffic and have issued some training videos to their members on how to set up and use RMS Express as the tool of choice for Emcomm in RVSU.
Thank you Adrian for that insert.
For a way of dealing with another type of fire, a new smartphone app could help smokers stick to their New Year’s resolutions to quit smoking.
Cigbreak Free works like a regular smartphone game, with players having to complete tasks to progress through levels and gain rewards. However, it also incorporates a combination of 37 behavioural change techniques designed to help smokers quit. Some of the techniques are so subtly embedded in the game, that the player will be unaware of their presence. The app also includes a quit journal where users can calculate how much money they are saving.
Games creation processes lecturer Hope Caton, who was involved in the design of the app, said: “The good thing about a smartphone gaming app is that you can play it anywhere. Craving is a short-term thing, so if you get a craving at 11am, you can play the game in the warm until it passes, rather than going out into the cold for a cigarette. You’ve also got something to do with your hands other than smoke.”
The app will be coming to Android and iPhone platforms.
HAMNET in the Western Cape is looking forward to a busy first quarter of the year, with several sporting events up ahead. The first is the el Shaddai sponsored 99er Cycle Tour which happens on the 11th February outside the Durbanville area. We will be providing 18 operators for that event, including APRS tracking of rovers and ambulances. A week later, we will assist at the Lions Journey for Sight and Service on 19th February, also a cycle tour, and also requiring APRS tracking and about 7 operators.
Then, in March, we always assist at what used to be called the Cape Argus cycle tour, and now called the Cape Town Cycle Tour. We are not the primary communications organisation here, but usually assist Delta Search and Rescue by providing radio operators. And finally, over the Easter weekend, we support the medical division of the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon on 15th April. Here we provide 16 operators, but use the City of Cape Town’s Tetra radio system, and a proprietary cell-tracking system, used in all the vehicles on the course. The organisation and planning of all four of these races is at an advanced stage, and all HAMNET members in the Western Cape are invited to volunteer their services for one or all of these events, by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.