-- This past weekend the bands were the "nicest" I have seen in many, many years. I spent a few hours on 40, 20, 15 and 10 meters. In all cases, the atmospheric noise (QRN to us OT's) was the quietest I have heard in a long time. My 100 watts and a stick (ground-mounted trap vertical) made me feel like a "big gun" working "search and pounce." I tuned up the band. When I heard an interesting callsign, I waited my turn, called, and made the contact. Very clear reception. Even though I only had a few hours to operate, this contest was one of the most enjoyable that I can remember.
Of course, CW is my "thing." I started the event with my keyer set at 30 words/minute, and increased it as the hours went on, and as other ops could copy. I will admit that I do use a good bit of computer-integration in my station. One application compiles the log and creates my outbound code messages. This app then "talks" to my electronic keyer, which keys the rig. All incoming decodes are done "in my head."
I remember contesting back in my early days. No way could I do all that now. We used to operate a club station, and it took 2-4 guys to operate, log, check for duplicates and get coffee. My current shack doesn't have room for anyone but me. . .