Simple Thoughts on a Complex Mess – LoTW, Run or Drop?

Tonight I received an ARRL email that my K9ZW LoTW (Logbook of the World) certificate is expiring in three weeks, and if I just followed some simple instructions it would all be easy.

Rubbish – twenty minutes later I’m still in the midst of dealing with the quirks of LoTW arcane .tq6 and .p12 file mysteries and the issues of upgrading my computer hardware several times during the three years this certificate existed.

I can renew a credit card in moments online, or I can file in all sorts of truly mission-critical online government data (like with the FAA & FCC licensing branches) in moments – BUT to do deal with LoTW is long winded, convoluted, sensitive to hardware (wonder what would happen if I was running a VM sandbox – say Parallels or BootCamp – and then tried to run the Windows version of LoTW in that ethereal environment?).

I’m going to revisit LoTW in a couple days – perhaps the Certificate Gremlins will let my software work and I might be a better mood – but I am thinking it is time for this Life ARRL Member to make a LoTW statement and just pack in a LoTW.

Computer time is measured in not only “clock time” but in “cost/benefit time.” The first is our usual measure of passage of time, and the second a revisit of that time weighted in what benefit/pleasure we get for our time investment balanced against the costs to do the activity (dollars, technical costs and the time used itself).

LoTW is a failure for me in “cost/benefit time.” It simple is to fussy and a time-eater with so little payback for my personal participation in the hobby.

Maybe my experience is untypical – given that I use several computers on several platforms and update them very regularly – but when doing on-line banking is easy compared to a QSL logging system, that QSL logging system is too flawed to waste time upon.

More in a couple days.



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10 thoughts on “Simple Thoughts on a Complex Mess – LoTW, Run or Drop?

  1. chuck humphrey says:

    K9ZW de N6LOP ( chuck )
    With all the ARRL hype I thought I might be in a very small group , but I spent 20 hours to get a certificate ….. the program required for ??? and have tried to input logs to no avail … so you are not alone and we have moved to a ” this is a nonfunctional , unusable , program “…so if anyone ever needs a varification , I have qsl cards >>>>>>VHF QRPers do grid squares and don’t worry, as awards are optional , the honor system and a shaded set of grid square maps for my memory use is all I need !!!!!

  2. Doug Wetzel says:

    de K7IP

    This is consistent with everything web-ish about the ARRL. It’s almost as though their web ‘designers’ awoke from a Rip van Winkle sleep starting in 1985 and decided to pick up web technology from that point. I had similar experience with LoTW’s arcane procedures, and frankly, had an easier time figuring out GpG public/private keys. $39 well spent every year, that’s for sure.

    It’s just painful to watch.

  3. Mark Morgan KB9RQZ says:

    I tired to set up LOTW and gave up

  4. Jeff, KE9V says:

    I’m in the sam boat Steve. Used it until my certificate expired and then spent days trying to figure out how to renew it before tossing in the towel.

    I can’t believe that I can move thousands of dollars of my money effortlessly from one account to another via a button click with my online bank, but something as trivial as QSLing must be as difficult as 3D chess.

    It makes no sense so I chucked it. No more LoTW here.

  5. Ed - N4EMG says:

    Not to be the one oddball in the crowd, but I recently renewed my certificate and it was a piece of cake. I requested it, they emailed it, I double-clicked the file, and voila, it was done. I did have to remember to delete the old certificate, but that was outlined in the instructions.

    Sorry that you’re not having better luck, but I’ve had nothing but good results with LOTW. However, I can understand how someone might get frustrated if something goes awry. Whenever I do skim through the instructions and FAQ’s, it seems like a lot of folks do encounter problems. I guess I’ve been fortunate.


  6. I don’t know who designed LoTW, but it’s totally byzantine.
    I’ve been involved with computers for over 40 years, and when I saw this I wondered if IBM IBSYS had finally come to amateur radio.

    I too gave up.

  7. […] As it is widely held that any web-transaction system needs to be simple, secure, robust, portable and user friendly there are a whole raft of lessons simply being ignored concerning the klutz ARRL Logbook of the World (LOTW) QSL database system. I’ve written about this clumsy system several times, most recently as part of my decision to drop participation in LOTW as having almost no benefit for me in comparison to the technical pain of dealing with an obsolete software model. LINK Simple Thoughts on a Complex Mess – LoTW, Run or Drop? […]

  8. more than a few of my friends in this hobby have abandoned use of LOTW. The small percentage that have been able to use it without stiffe enjoy it as I do

    I would love for The ARRL to make LOTW use easier to embrace !!!
    It would mean more people using the system and more of my DXCC credits would be available in lOTW increasing it’s value to me

    I agree the internet tools to our member benefits are not as fluid as we wish we saw a big over haul in the league’s website that only broke many of the valuable links we members were using Making a new face on the internet at the cost of lost links and functionality was not worth it to me

    The league does do many things right, but when it comes to the web it is a different story
    They really need to hire some good young tech savy Ham OPS

    Their Twitter system and at least one of the Blogs are designed as broadcast tools NOT communication tools for the members to share thoughts with the league’s Blog and Twitter authors
    This is a failure to recognize what the tools are there for !

  9. George D. Kelly says:

    Couln’t agree more fellas!! I have spent a few hours trying to untangle it myself and have even tried HRD as a platform to use it and just can’t figure it out. I will have to ask for local help. If the ARRL is so hot on using this darn thing they should make it easier to use. You gotta figure most of us in this hobby are over 50 and a great majority are in our 60s so it doesn’t take long for this program to get a foowey wave from us old timers. If ya want a card – drop me one in the mail. Ya know what I am saying there League? Pretty stupid idea so far as far as I am concerned. I only looked into it to accomidate contesters that need my state/county for whatever reason. How about it there League, we could use some accomidation as well. And I agree about their web site as well. Takes you all day to figure out where to get information on items. They must have had a pay cut at the League. 73 de K9WWT

  10. Bill N7VM says:

    Yep – trying to get Logbook of the World to work again on my new computer is like editing a Windows registry in hex. What a piece of junk.

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