[aprssig] WB4APR SK

Weston Bustraan wbustraan at gmail.com
Wed Feb 9 18:12:08 EST 2022

As an author of brand new APRS client software (within the last year), I
sure hope it's not going to decline, haha.

But I do want to challenge those that might say that, because a particular
technology is old, or isn't constantly having new features added to it,
that it will simply wither and fade away into obscurity. I would direct
your attention to the HTTP 1.1 protocol, or the SMTP protocol. The RFC for
HTTP 1.1 was released in 1997. To this day, it runs the Internet and sure
doesn't show any signs of slowing down. Sure, companies like Google have
tried to supplant it with a newer protocol, but they've had pretty limited
success. Sometimes things just do the job that they were intended to do and
don't need to do more.

I'm a ham on the younger side of things and I got into APRS because I'm a
computer geek and it allowed me to meld computers and ham radio together.
My daughter is 12 (and a ham) and she thinks APRS is pretty cool. I've
shown a couple kids on her robotics team the APRS map and their response is
"wow, that's so cool!". These are kids that have grown up with cell phones
and the Internet.

I still believe in Bob's original vision of APRS. It's a situational
awareness tool. Sure, it can be a vehicle tracking system, or a weather
reporting system, or a messaging protocol, but it still shines in a)
situations where infrastructure is not readily available and b) (believe it
or not) interoperability. You're right, position tracking is no longer
unique, but have you actually tried to do that with mixed devices? The
vendor lock-in is strong, in that world.

I stand ready, as a developer, to add new, cool features to APRS, but I
would ask, what do you want it to do? that it doesn't do right now? I know
I've got an idea or two marinating for when I get time to work on them, but
those ideas don't require any changes to the spec.

I am sad that Bob is gone. I only got to meet him very briefly at the last
pre-COVID Hamvention. But there was nothing any of us could do about his
condition. There is, however, something we can do about his legacy; we can
take his inspiration, keep it going, and make it even better.

73, Wes Bustraan W8WJB

On Wed, Feb 9, 2022 at 12:08 PM R Kirk via aprssig <aprssig at lists.tapr.org>

> Steve, and all…  Maybe this is time to let APRS decline gracefully. Ham
> radio, along with most of us, are no longer spring chickens either. I don’t
> see APRS as thriving in the future regardless of its leadership or
> structure.  There are still a few fun niches but small position tracking is
> no longer unique. Every kid has a cell phone with most APRS capability. I
> don’t think the marvelous wide networking system you pioneered can go on
> for long. The question is whether to leave the system going as is, till
> every one eventually expires, or to pull the plug soon.
> Are manufacturers going to continue to make APRS radios?
> Where are all those new hams? (We're getting pretty old & fat)
> Are you going to give your source code – to whom?
> Are the remaining hosts going to continue to make their servers available?
> Are protocols fixed forever?
> Is most of APRS just a weather network?
> Who’s left to track?
> Want to buy a buggy whip?
> Bob Kirk
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Steve Dimse <steve at dimse.com>
> To: Ian_Wade_G3NRW via aprssig <aprssig at lists.tapr.org>
> Sent: Wed, Feb 9, 2022 10:29 am
> Subject: [aprssig] WB4APR SK
> Yes, it is true. Amateur radio has lost a true pioneer in its transition
> to the digital age. I will certainly miss him. We often argued, but I
> deeply respected him. I'm glad I had the chance to express that to him
> unequivocally before his death. When he was diagnosed he was not expected
> to last 6 months but he made it two years, and it took covid to finish the
> job. He was tough as well as brilliant.
> Bob did not want to make a big deal of his cancer and did not want
> sympathy, so he only told a few people. He did drop a few hints over the
> last two years though. Bob tried to get a group of active programmers in
> APRS to come together, but no one stepped forward. We talked about it, and
> I told him I thought it would not happen until he made his diagnosis public
> and involved the larger community. He did not want to do that, so I agreed
> to help as I could. I have control of aprs.org, and TAPR has the
> paperwork to transfer the APRS trademark.
> The APRS community has some choices to make. I am no spring chicken
> myself, and I have no desire to assume Bob's throne on top of APRS. However
> I am not going to just hand responsibility to a single person. This needs
> to be a community effort and not become dependent on a single person. We
> need to use this sad opportunity to strengthen APRS. I hope people will
> step forward to form a group to assume the leadership role. I would like to
> see a non-profit formed with a real board of directors, bylaws, and open
> membership. But I'm not going to do it - collaboration is not one of my
> strengths either!
> I am sure TAPR will be willing to help in any way it can, and a real APRS
> group should be able to secure a grant from ARDC (ampr.org) for funding
> itself. If you weren't aware ARDC, which has held the IP
> allocation since the beginning, sold an unused quarter of the allocation to
> Amazon for $108 million a couple years back, and has been giving out grants
> for worthy ham radio projects.
> This can be a beginning of a new era for APRS if a few people are willing
> to take on a lot of unpaid, under-appreciated effort. If that doesn't
> happen, I will update the aprs.org pages with new user-defined packet
> definitions and to-calls. I will not be drawn into discussion about
> protocol changes, new icons, or other such minutia. Other than housekeeping
> details, the protocol is not officially changing until an open membership
> group steps up and takes over. Without the ability to change, people may
> decide to implement changes unilaterally, which will not be good for the
> community.
> Bob loved APRS, and he wanted it to thrive after his death. But for all
> his flashes of brilliance he was never good at creating a collaborative
> group. We tried to help him by creating the APRS Working Group in the early
> 2000s but he never did anything with it once we created the protocol and
> stepped aside. It is time for someone to step into his shoes and lead, or
> APRS will decline.
> It is in your hands.
> Steve K4HG
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