Here I go again, bitching about yet another shitty/sucky ham radio “service”. This time, it’s about SMSGTE, a relatively popular APRS-to-SMS gateway service. This is just a dumb thing for hams simply to play with.
Similar to my bitchy rant about Hamshack Hotline, SMSGTE offers little value to hams and the hobby. All too frequently, hams are signing up for these “services” not knowing how any of it works, unable to improve it, fork it, decentralize it, etc. Again, this fragments the hobby and stymies advancement and development of ham radio. And I’m sure fucking tired of clueless hams getting all exited about, and using, bullshit.
All too often, these “services” pop up, and hams circle-jerk about them and use/propagate them. These services are what I call “black holes”. Because they are just that. They are closed and proprietary services, and it’s fucking up ham radio.
What we need, are “solutions”. A solution, would be an open system or project, welcoming collaboration, improvements made by other volunteers (vs. one person or an exclusive conclave). A solution that is open, fosters creativity and advancements in technology.
Let’s use some well-known examples of “solutions” used in ham radio (non-exhaustive).
- MMDVMHost (and related gateway software)
- Asterisk PBX (used in many reflector and gateway applications)
- Many more
All of these are wide open source, and have countless users and install bases. They have advanced the hobby exponentially in a very short time. Conversely, lets look at SMSGTE, a closed “service”, and compare the user base:
(Source: SMSGTE homepage) 6000 users isn’t jack shit. And it’s because it’s closed. That’s what happens, folks. Open solutions will always have huge adoption rates, and will lead to more advancement and less fragmentation. Always.
Let’s use an open vs. closed example to prove my point;
The SharkRF OpenSpot (which is an oxymoron, since the device is proprietary and closed-source), used to be the most popular hotspot/firmware on the very large, BrandMeister DMR network. In May of 2017, OpenSpot enjoyed a handsome 33% install base of all repeaters/hotspots on the large network1.
Then the amazing and venerable Jonathan Naylor,
G4KLX’s, MMDVM hotspot
software/firmware gained traction, and fostered community development, more
functionality and advancements; and as of November 2020 (in three short years),
completely eclipsed all closed-source vendors, and enjoys a whopping 71+%
install/user base on the entire network2. This also included the awesome
Pi-Star hotspot software.
This proves, that open vs. closed software/systems/services will always win, advance technology, and help to prevent fragmentation.
G4KLX said it best…
A closed system in the face of an equivalent open system will never win.
…and he’s correct. In the 28+ years of my open source contributions, use, deployments (corporate and otherwise) and evangelism; this has proven to be the case every time.
I can appreciate the concept and thought behind SMSGTE, but whoever created the “service” just another ham propagating garbage, not understanding that their service is of no help to ham radio. In essence, their execution and goals are piss-poor.
These weird, small and centralized “services” are such black holes, that they can disappear at any time. And yet, SMSGTE mentions its service as “a means of reaching loved ones when out in areas uncovered by cellular services” (right on the homepage). Similarly, Hamshack Hotline touts it’s “service” as yet another whacker tool for emergency and disaster communications. Yet, I’m supposed to have faith and confidence in these black holes? No fucking way; and hams need to be more discerning and start thinking this way, too.
Let’s rip apart some of the SMSGTE author’s comments about the “service”…
All development on the APRS/SMS gateway applicaton [sic] is done by me. I am not a professional programmer, nor am I an expert on APRS. All development is done on my own time, in my basement. I have no intent to sell or profit from the application, only to offer a service to the amateur radio community.
This (honest) comment alone from the service’s author, should send hams running for the hills. But most hams are dumb, and follow group-think. They don’t ruminate or discriminate as I do: “So it’s a closed, one-man show with zero community involvement to help improve, audit, decentralize, etc.; and can go away at any time.” One person, in his basement, and people are actually using the service!?!?!
I appreciate his notion of providing a free “service” to hams. But just like Hamshack Hotline (and other closed garbage ham services/software), it’s not free, It’s gratis.
SMSGTE currently operates as a Windows Forms application on a server in a secure data center.
Here, the author admits to using inferior and insecure technology to develop and host the application. But again, hams are dumb, and don’t realize anything Microsoft in ham radio, fucks it up. Give me ONE example, of a major “service” on the web using Windows Forms, or even a major open source ham radio technology. I’ll wait.
If you have ideas or suggestions that might improve the gateway, please use the contact form to contact me.
Translation: “I’m in control here, and I control the source code I don’t want anyone to have it or improve it. So you need to ask me for features/improvements, and I may consider them. Open source solutions can improve and advance technology organically, but I don’t do that here. I prefer to hinder advancement, while lying to myself and other ignorant sheep hams, boasting that I’ve created something cool and valuable.”
The most ironic part of all this: at the bottom of every SMSGTE web page, is a call to action; “Spread the love”.
Uhhhh… There’s no love to spread, folks.
I’m sure getting tired of these strange services and pieces of software popping up, that don’t do anything positive for the overall advancement of ham radio. But I’m more tried of ignorant hams actually drinking the shitty kool aid by using them, and even getting excited about them. Trust me from my own experiences and contributions: these are not things to get excited about. Run away from them and evangelize (and/or create) “solutions”.
Source: The ever-so-helpful and absolutely wonderful ham operator, Toshen (
KE0FHS), published these statistics, as he astutely tracked these trends. Scroll down a tad, to the green “aside note” labeled, “BrandMeister repeater usage stats”.
Toshen, if you’re reading this, consider using anchor elements for your aside notes; so that folks can link to them directly! :^) ↥
Source: BrandMeister Home Page; Repeater Models/Firmware Versions Charts (scroll to bottom of page). ↥