Friday, December 31, 2004

Tsunami relief

I haven't mentioned the tsunami that's taken so many lives (135,000 as of now according to What could I say?

However, there is something you can do. A monetary donation, no matter how small, to a relief organization like the Red Cross can help. has made it easy for you to donate to the Red Cross using your Amazon account.

Give a little, if you can.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

So much for doing it yourself to get it right

It turns out that I needed to call my plumber to complete the dryer install after all.

A few hours after running the second load of wash I smelled some gas. After getting Judith to confirm that I wasn't having olfactory hallucinations I shut off the supply via the cutoff. This morning I called my plumber, who luckily, was able to make it out today.

It turns out that the source of the leak was the old gascock itself. If it had been left alone it would've been fine but by using it, we caused a leak. So, he wound up replacing the gascock and also added another extension pipe to get the rigid gas line closer to the dryer. While he was here I also had him replace the water shutoff valves and the lines to the washer. We also shut off the supply of gas to the fireplace in our den, since it provides next to no heat and we haven't used it this winter. Since it is old enough to have a pilot light, that'll be a little less gas we have to pay for each month.

I'm happy to give my plumber an unsolicited plug, btw. His name is Lawrence Pizzico and he can be reached at 610-279-8111. He works out of Norristown in SE PA.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


In contrast to the Sears experience, we had a good one with Sleepy's, a bed retailer. The deliverymen just left after having brought in and assembled a new bed for Alexandra. Tonight she'll be sleeping in a bed for the first time. It's going to be interesting to see her reaction.

When you want something done right...

... you often need to do it yourself.

Sears came back this morning to finish the dryer install. They couldn't do it because they didn't have a long enough gas line. This despite the fact that it was the same guys who delivered the thing. At this point I said "fuck it" and decided to do it myself.

So after Dumb and Dumber left I went to Lowe's and bought a two foot black iron gas pipe, a coupler to join it to my existing gas pipe, a can of pipe joint compund (I looked at several and bought one which mentioned use on gas lines), and a four foot flexible gas line, which I wound up not needing and will return.

After getting home I slathered all the threads with pipe joint compound and screwed everything together, using the section of flexible line Sears had left me. I turned the gas cutoff on this line back on and waited about 20 minutes. Not smelling any gas, I gave Judith the OK to put in a load of wash.

Tomorrow I'll call Sears customer service and give them an earful.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Monday update

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Being Jewish, Saturday was pretty much just another day for us, although we did induldge in what's become a tradition for a lot of Jewish folks on that day: have Chinese food for dinner. Around here, if you go to a Chinese place on Christmas it'll be packed with us Hebes. Since we have two small kids, we had takeout, which is a lot easier than sitting in the restaurant.

Yesterday after breakfast Judith and I took the girls up to the Plymouth Meeting Mall to look for Alexandra's first bed (didn't buy anything) and to kill some time before their naps. Alexandra really likes the water fountain. She also likes the merry go 'round, but apparently only if Mommy rides it with her. I took her on it and she flipped out. Luckily, nobody else was on the ride so they were able to stop it early. Oh well.

We got about an inch of snow last night and it's largely melted by now. All the snow I should be clearing with my new snow blower is getting dumped elsewhere.

Both Judith and I are on vacation this week, so after dropping the kids off at daycare we were able to enjoy a nice breakfast by ourselves at the local Cracker Barrel. Since everything they serve is pretty much a heart attack on a plate, we don't go very often.

At about 1100 our new Sears clothes dryer -- replacing the one which died a couple weeks ago -- was delivered. Unfortunately, they couldn't complete the hookup because they didn't have the correct male/female coupling for the gas line. They left it up to me to get the right coupling and call back to schedule completion of the job. I was able to find the right coupler at Lowe's and schedule an installer to come out but not before Wednesday. (I could probably do it myself now, but there are certain things I don't do around the house, preferring a professional to handle them. These include anything to do with A/C current, plumbing, or gas lines. IOW, stuff that can get me killed if I foul up.)

And you can bet Sears is going to hear from me about putting the onus on me for getting the right coupler.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Secure that wireless LAN

One of the prks of my job is that vendors send us equipment to play around with. They often send us several copies of the same unit, so we can take one home and use it on a daily basis to wring it out. Hence the new Netgear WG602 wireless access point I installed this morning. Setup was pretty straightforward, although you do need to connect to the box with an Ethernet cable to login and configure the wireless settings before you can connect wirelessly.

This brings me to the main point of this post: Secure that wireless LAN!

When my iBook booted up, it detected a wireless LAN belonging to one of my neighbors. It is wide open. I was not only able to get an IP and get onto the Internet, I was able to login to his wireless router because it still had the factory default settings.

Tips for securing a wireless network:
  1. When setting it up, change the default administrative password.
  2. After you have your clients associated with the access point, disable SSID broadcast.
  3. Enable WPA or WEP encryption.
  4. Enable MAC filtering, which limits what wireless cards can associate, using their hardware addresses.
  5. Disable DHCP and manually configure the IP settings of your wireless clients.
A wireless network by its very nature won't be as secure as a wired Ethernet, but you can make things a lot more difficult for would-be interlopers.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Optics shuffle

I had a $50 gift certificate to Cabela's and a $30 coupon good on orders for $100 or more, so last week I ordered a Bushnell Trophy red dot sight, which arrived today. The regular price was about $110, but with the gift cert and the coupon I wound up paying only about $40 after shipping.

The Bushnell sight has four different reticles: a 3 MOA dot, a 10 MOA dot, crosshairs, and a 3 MOA dot surrounded by a 65 MOA circle. So far I'm liking that last option. It looks like it'll give me a relatively recise aiming point for smaller or more distant targets, while giving me something large for fast acquistion on close-in targets.

Aside from the sight itself, the Bushnell box contained a set of vertically split 30mm rings, a sun shade extension, a lens cleaning cloth, and a polarizing filter for the objective lens. I have the sun shade on, but not the polarizer.

I decided to mount the Bushnell on my ArmaLite AR-180B and move the PK-01V over to my Bulgarian SLR-101. Since the range was closed the one time I took it out to sight it in, it's not like I'm losing a good-to-go setup.

Hopefully I'll get both rifles out to the range during next week. I'm on vacation and with the exceptions of Monday and Wednesday, I don't have anything planned yet.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

More pistol packin'

To continue the packin' heat theme of this week, I found a new site of interest via Geeks With Guns. Check out for information on which states allow open (i.e., not concealed) carry of a firearm.

10 Steps for Securing Your MS Windows PC

On an email list to which I subscribe we're having a disucssion about spyware. I contributed a post with ten things you can do to prevent your PC from getting infected with malicious software. Here's the meat of that post:
  1. Run Windows Update regularly; if your version of Windows support automatic update checking, make sure it's enabled.
  2. 2. Do not use Internet Explorer as your browser, unless you are viewing a site which requires it. Use Mozilla, Firefox, or Opera instead. I use Firefox. By not using IE, you'll prevent most spyware and web-borned viruses from getting onto your system.
  3. Install the Google Toolbar for IE, because it includes an excellent pop-up blocker, for when you must use IE.
  4. Run an antivirus program and keep it updated. I use and recommend the free personal version of AVG Antivirus.
  5. Use a hosts file to prevent your PC from loading spyware sites.
  6. If you are on broadband use a hardware firewall. Routers that sit between your PC and a cable modem or DSL connection can do a lot to protect your machine. I've had good luck with Netgear equipment.
  7. Don't use Outlook Express for email. It's a virus trap. Use something else -- Mozilla Mail, Thunderbird, or Eudora.
  8. Don't open unexpected file attachments which you receive in email.
  9. Install and run Spybot Search & Destroy and Lavasoft Ad-Aware to clean up spyware. Spybot includes an "immunize" feature which can prevent known spyware from getting installed in the first place. Both can be downloaded from
  10. If you are using a PC with Windows NT, 2000, or XP, your regular user account should not be a "computer administrator." Rather, setup a separate account as a "limited user." That way if malicious software does get onto your computer its impact will be minimized.

Top States in Absolute Numbers of CCW Permits

We've done percentages, now let's do actual numbers. The top 5 states for number of adults with licenses to carry a concealed firearm are:
  1. Pennsylvania: 525,600
  2. Florida: 332,400
  3. Indiana: 302,000
  4. Washington: 225,200
  5. Tennessee: 160,000

Go PA!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

If you think a 12 gauge pump isn't enough...

...check out this:

To paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson, "When you absolutely, positively need to kill every MFer in the room, accept no substitute!"

Supposed Moms Link

There's a rumour floating around that has somehow "joined" with the Milliom Mom March this holiday season and is supporting the MMM's goals. The origin of this appears to be an affiliate link on the MMM's home page (which I won't deign to link to).

The Amazon affiliate program is open to any person or organization that signs up for it and places the links to whatever they're selling on their web page. It's a big part of Amazon's business model. I can do it, pro-gun groups can do it, and so can anti-gun groups.

If Amazon was "joining" with MMM, then certainly there would be a press release to that effect on Amazon's site. There isn't one; I checked.

Examples of pro-RKBA sites who participate in the affiliate program:

So does this mean that Amazon is "joining" with pro-RKBA forces?

Unless someone can point me to something more concrete, I'm calling B.S. on this one.

Edit: Doh! I forgot I already posted about this. Oh well. I'll leave this up since I go into more detail in this post. I plead too much Knob Creek tonight.

Follow up on CCW %s

Here's a follow up post by Ken, breaking the figures down by "red" and "blue" states.

Here's a Red and Blue assessment of those numbers.

7.45% - Red - South Dakota
6.79% - Red - Indiana
6.76% - Blue - Pennsylvania
5.23% - Blue - Connecticut

x.xx% - Red - Georgia (guessed in)
x.xx% - Blue - New Hampshire (guessed in)
5.12% - Blue - Washington

4.34% - Red - Idaho
4.10% - Red - Utah
3.86% - Blue - Oregon
3.45% - Red - Tennessee
3.15% - Red - Alabama
2.72% - Red - Florida
2.71% - Red - Kentucky
2.67% - Red - Wyoming
2.41% - Blue - Maine
2.18% - Red - Arkansas
2.11% - Red - Virginia
1.94% - Red - West Virginia
1.76% - Red - Arizona
1.75% - Red - Oklahoma
1.70% - Red - Montana
1.70% - Blue - Michigan
1.62% - Red - Texas
1.39% - Red - South Carolina
1.34% - Red - North Dakota
1.00% - Red - North Carolina
0.86% - Red - Mississippi
0.62% - Red - Louisiana
0.58% - Red - Nevada
0.45% - Blue - Minnesota
0.36% - Red - Missouri
0.33% - Red - Ohio
0.20% - Red - Colorado
0.17% - Red - New Mexico

Now the REALLY interesting stuff.

Red States

Total licensees among the Shall Issue states:

Total population living in True Right To Carry states:
648,818 (0.22 percent)

Total population living in Shall Issue states:
141,766,564 (48.84 percent)

Total population living in May Issue states:
2,944,062 (1.01 percent)

Total population living in No Issue states:
4,462,798 (1.54 percent)

Blue States

Total licensees among the Shall Issue states:

Total population living in True Right To Carry states:
619,107 (0.21 percent)

Total population living in Shall Issue states:
43,272,643 (14.91 percent)

Total population living in May Issue states:
78,406,558 (27.01 percent)

Total population living in No Issue states:
18,125,843 (6.24 percent)

Ken Grubb
Bellevue, WA

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Bogus Moms Rumor

Earlier today I was forwarded an alert from the "US Sportsmen's Alliance" containing the statement that has "joined forces with the Million Mom March" for the holiday season. This didn't pass my smell test, so I checked both Amazon's and the Million Misguided Mommie's websites and found no reference to Amazon "joining" with the MMM. The Amazon link on the MMM site is an affiliate link.

Among other organizations which I've seen with an Amazon affiliate link is JPFO.

Spreading rumors like this one does our cause no good whatsoever.

Welcome InstaPundit Readers

w00t! I got Instalanched!

Welcome InstaPundit readers. I hope you poke around some more and come back.

Percentage of Adults With Carry Permits in "Shall Issue" States

I am reproducing in its entirety a post by Ken Grubb which appeared this morning on the PA-CCW mailing list. This ranks each of the "shall issue" CCW states by the percentage of adults who have a permit to carry a concealed firearm.

After crunching through the 2000 Census and 2003 Census estimates, the numbers in Chris Bird's Fourth Edition "The Concealed Handgun Manual", some official sources online which are a little more current, and filling in a few gaps from a 1998 CCRKBA report, the winners are:

Percent of Adults with a License to Carry in each Shall Issue State

7.45% South Dakota
6.79% Indiana
6.76% Pennsylvania
5.23% Connecticut
5.12% Washington
4.34% Idaho
4.10% Utah
3.86% Oregon
3.45% Tennessee
3.15% Alabama
2.72% Florida
2.71% Kentucky
2.67% Wyoming
2.41% Maine
2.18% Arkansas
2.11% Virginia
1.94% West Virginia
1.76% Arizona
1.75% Oklahoma
1.70% Montana
1.70% Michigan
1.62% Texas
1.39% South Carolina
1.34% North Dakota
1.00% North Carolina
0.86% Mississippi
0.62% Louisiana
0.58% Nevada
0.45% Minnesota
0.36% Missouri
0.33% Ohio
0.20% Colorado
0.17% New Mexico <-- Slight correction 12/22/04, per Ken Grubb

Honorable mentions go to Georgia and New Hampshire. These are "old wave" Shall Issue states--IOW, pre Florida. Because issuance is scattered among many local agencies, no one in either Georgia or New Hampshire is collecting statewide numbers on how many folks are packing. Seems reasonable to place 'em somewhere between the two statistical extremes among the other "old wave" states (South and North Dakota). However, if I were a bettin' man I'd put 'em near the top, and probably above Washington.

Total licensees among the Shall Issue states (excluding Georgia and New

Total population living in True Right To Carry states (Alaska and Vermont):
1,267,925 (0.44 percent)

Total population living in Shall Issue states:
185,039,207 (63.75 percent)

Total population living in May Issue states:
81,350,620 (28.03 percent)

Total population living in No Issue states:
22,588,641 (7.78 percent)

Ken Grubb
Bellevue, WA

Edit: Welcome to new readers coming in via Instapundit (and thanks to Mike for suggesting I edit this post). If you liked this post, you may also find these older posts interesting:
Also, I'd like to draw your attention to The Shooter's Bar(SM), my online list of pro-RKBA attorneys. I hope you enjoy your time here and stop back again.

Static IP Back Online

Whatever routing problem I experienced on Sunday appears to have worked itself out for now. Last night I reconfigured the SMC to use the static IP and got back online.

I ran some ping tests from my iBook and saw some packet loss and the occasional duplicate packet. The latter is an indication of hardware problems. When I re-ran the ping tests from Mail, which is on 10/100BaseT, I had no packet loss or dupes. I'm willing to bet a chocolate chip cookie that the cause of the packet loss and duplication is the craptacular Linksys Wireless-B router which I use as a WAP. (I'll keep it until is croaks, then get either an Apple AirPort or a Netgear 802.11g unit.)

Monday, December 20, 2004

10 more Gmail Invites

I got 10 more Gmail invites to give away. Previous batches of invites came in blocks of 6, perhaps the completely public debut of Gmail is in the wings. Anyhoo, if you want one, drop me a line at davemarkowitz at

Static IP Problems

Yesterday at about 1430 my Internet connection dumped. The modem appeared to be online -- the cable light was solid green -- but I couldn't get out. I rebooted my SMC gateway (which has the modem built-in) but this made no change.

My next step was to do a factory reset on the gateway, which changed the config from my static IP to looking for a public IP via DHCP. Once it rebooted and the changes took effect, I was able to pull a DHCP IP and get back online.

Another tester in my department experienced major packet loss on his SMC on Friday night/Sat. morning, but only when using his static IP config. When set to pull an IP via DHCP it worked fine.

Apparently, some kinks in our network still need to be hammered out.

Tonight I'll try reconfiguring my unit with the static IP config to see if I can get back online. Hopefully, whatever was causing the problem will have been resolved by then.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Valley Forge Gun Show

After the kids went down for their afternoon naps this afternoon, I snuck out to the Valley Forge Convention Center, where a fun, err, gun show was being held.

The last show I attended was a week or two after the Assault Weapons Ban sunset, and I noticed a lot more rifles with all the evil features (flash hiders, folding stocks, etc.) there today. Some vendors are still smoking dope when it comes to prices, though. For example, I saw a stainless Mini-14 GB with a $975 price tag, and another selling beat-to-hell Colt AR-15 20 round mags for $25.

I limited my purchases to some accessories:
  • A pair of 1945-dated GI shoulder strap pads for my musette bag. I don't think they are repros even though they look new. They don't smell new, if you know what I mean. I wish I'd had these when I was using a musette bag as my book bag in grade school, because the unpadded straps are not too comfortable.
  • A pair of GI M1965 trigger finger mitten shells. They should be nice and toasty this winter (I already have liners).
  • A pair of GI 20-round M-16 mag pouches; they hold 3 each and I currently have 6 20 round M-16/AR-15 mags.
  • Two NHTMG AR-15 mags dated 9/04, right after the sunset. NHTMG is the company which OEMs AR-15 mags for Colt. They were $16 each.
  • Two boxes of American Eagle .45 ACP ball.
I was tempted by some $85 Mosins but kept my desire for more new/old rifles under control.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

SMC Wireless Access Points

Yesterday and today I spent some time testing out a pair of SMC 2586W-G wireless access points. These are WAPs, not wireless routers. The main reason we're looking at them is for use with our commercial MDU product as a way to extend Ethernet coverage.

The SMCs include bridge functionality. I.e., you can create a wireless link between a pair of them in order to extend the size of a WLAN. My setup wass follows:

(Router) - (Patch cord) - (WAP) - (~75' through a couple walls) - (WAP) ---- (Laptop)

I first established the range of a single WAP then placed the second unit near the periphery of it's coverage. I then connected my laptop wirelessly to the LAN created, hopping on using the second unit. To test how robust the link would be I slammed it with traffic: SMTP; IMAP, HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP. It handled the load pretty well but I found that the units overheat easily if placed near warm equipment. When they overheat, they lock up.

If deployed with their environmental limitations kept in mind, they seem like pretty decent little boxen.

A Nation of Wimps

From Psychology Today:

Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for their children. However, parental hyperconcern has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they're breaking down in record numbers.

It's a long article but well worth reading.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Bill of Rights Day

Today, December 15th, is the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Many folks today don't realize that without the BoR, the US Constitution would never have been ratified. During the debates over the ratification of the Constitution, opponents of a strong Federal government (the Antifederalists) were concerned that without some written declaration of rights, the Federal governement's power would grow to an oppressive extent. In contrast, the Federalists worried that by enumerating specific rights, other unenumerated rights would be seen as free to trample upon.

I'd say the Antifederalists were optimistic. Even with the safeguards enshrined in the BoR, the Federal government has morphed into something the Framers would probably rebel against, largely due to Congress's abuse of its power under the Commerce Clause, and the Federal judiciary's acquiesence. So much for a government of "limited and enumerated powers."

With that rant out of the way, I present to you the text of the Bill of Rights, including the oft-overlooked preamble:


Congress of the United States begun and held at the City of New York, on Wednesday the fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and eighty nine.

THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two thirds of both Houses concurring, that the following Articles be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States, as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all, or any of which Articles, when ratified by three fourths of the said Legislatures, to be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution; viz.

ARTICLES in addition to, and Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, proposed by Congress, and ratified by the Legislatures of the several States, pursuant to the fifth Article of the original Constitution.

Amendment I - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II - A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III - No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV - The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V - No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI - In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII - In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII - Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX - The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X - The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Some days you're the windshield...

...and other days you're the bug. I feel like the bug today.

It started at about 0230 when Amanda -- who generally sleeps through the night -- decided she was hungry. Although Judith got up and fed her I didn't get back to sleep for over an hour.

When my alarm clock went off at 0600 I had to drag my butt out of bed. I didn't bother shaving as I got ready for work (maybe it's time for a beard again, anyway).

As I was driving up my street to take Alexandra to daycare, I realized that I'd left my wallet at home. (Insert long string of expletives here.) So, I turned around and went back to the house to get it. I left the truck running while I went inside.

After coming back out to the truck I found that I had locked myself out, with Alexandra still inside. (Insert really long string of foul language here.)

I called Judith, who was at the daycare having just dropped off Amanda. She got home in about three minutes (the daycare is around the corner) and unlocked the truck. I was then able to drop off Alexandra and get to work without further incident.

This is the first time I ever locked myself out of a car. And yes, I'm going to get a spare key to put in my wallet.

Monday, December 13, 2004

iChat Audio Chat

iChat is the AIM-compatible IM client included with Mac OS/X. It includes an audio chat feature which I just got done using. My boss, who is a big Mac fan, saw that I was logged on and "called me." The sound quality is very good, as good as a regular phone, although I had headphones on because I'd been listening to some Allman Brothers MP3s when he called; the sound from my iBook's onboard speakers wouldn't have been as good.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

"'It looks like the end of the world. Hell has come to earth"

The endgame of the Nazi soldiers in Warsaw was brutally clear: "By 1945, there will not be one Jew left in Europe." Yet, as the residents of the city's Jewish Ghetto began their desperate, doomed 27-day uprising against systematic slaugher, one young woman hiding in a lice-infested, bomb-blasted bunker bagan to record a diary of the last days.

Written from her underground hideout, while fighting raged all around, the six-page journal has only just been unearthed from archives in an Israeli museum. It is now being put on display for the first time at the Ghetto Fighters' House in western Gaililee as the sole surviving contemporary chronicle of life during the 1943 urban insurrection. It begins five days into the revolt and describes in harrowing detail how she and 45 fellow Jews in the shelter are starving, terrified and awaiting certain death.

Read the rest here.

Never Again.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

It followed me home

Honest, I just followed me home.

My Compaq laptop has been having problems charging its battery lately. I need a laptop when I do my side consulting work. So ... I picked up an Apple G4 iBook today at Microcenter, where they were running some good deals.

The iBook that followed me home has these features:
  • 12.1" screen
  • 256 megs of RAM, upgradeable to 1.25 GB
  • 1.2GHz G4 CPU
  • 30 GB HDD
  • DVD-ROM/CD-R drive
  • Airport Extreme 802.11g wireless NIC
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • 56k modem
  • Mac OS 10.2.3 Panther
It's nice and light and the keyboard is pretty good. The layout is taking some getting used to, as is the UI. But it's extremely nice to have the killer Mac OS GUI but still be able to drop to a Bash prompt.

So far, I've installed several familiar apps: Firefox, Thunderbird, 1.1.3, Gimp, and X11 (upon which OO.o and the Gimp rely). The Mac came with AppleWorks and a 30 day demo of MS Office for Mac which I'll probably delete, plus the various Apple iThings like iTunes, iPhoto, etc.

Since the Compaq is still useful as long as there's an AC outlet handy, it will be re-purposed as Judith's "upstairs PC." I just need to clean some stuff off it first. And Bagend will remain used as my desktop but I'm thinking of also making it my mail and file server. It has plenty of horsepower for the server job and can be kept secure, since it's running SuSE Linux.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Limiting the tenure of Federal judges

Federal judges receive lifetime appointments to the bench. The rationale behind this is that once they are confirmed they will be no longer beholden to political influence, since they don't have to worry about impressing either their appointors or the electorate.

The down side to lifetime tenure is that it's damn near impossible to get rid of a bad judge. The sole remedy for doing so is impeachment. When was the last time you heard of a Federal judge getting impeached? I thought so.

Also, because judges naturally want to be replaced with someone ideologically similar when they retire, they often stay on the job longer than they should, hoping for a president who shares their political philosophy to be elected and who can then appoint a successor.

So, this morning on Findlaw, I read with interest the article "Life Tenure for Federal Judges: Should It Be Abolished?," by Edward Lazarus. He discussed this issue in more detail than I have here, and proposes a Constitutional amendment to replace lifetime appointments with terms lasting 18 years, which cannot be renewed. If you have the slightest interest in this, check it out.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Penn State recommends against IE

Wow. Penn State's IT department is now recommending that you use something other than Internet Explorer, due to the unending flow of IE vulnerabilities. When a major university is telling its students to not use a Microsoft product, you can tell there is a real backlash brewing.

Babylon5 Theatrical Movie

I just saw this courtesy of /. The first B5 theatrical movie begins filming in April.

Best. Sci-fi. Series. Ever.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Happy Chanukah

Today is the first full day of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, commemorating the successful rebellion of the Jews against their Hellenic overlords and the subsequent miracle in which the Temple's one day supply of oil lasted for eight days. (There's a good overview here.)

At least in the US, Chanukah has largely become the "Jewish Christmas," a commercialized holiday devoted to giving and receiving gifts. But there is a much deeper significance to the story, even if you don't believe in the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days.

The Maccabees -- the Jewish rebels who tossed the Greeks out on their posteriors -- didn't win with pleas for tolerance or even harsh language. It was an armed rebellion. Too many Jewish Americans gloss over this fact during all the holiday shopping, menorah lighting, and wolfing down potato pancakes.

The point that American Jews need to take to heart from Chanukah is that sometimes the government is not here to help and the only way left to preserve our freedom is through force. That means the willingness and means to use force. In 2004, the means of force are firearms and that's why it pisses me off to no end that so many Jewish Americans support gun control, especially in light of the most blatant act of antisemitism in history -- the Shoah (Holocaust) -- being a mere 59 years ago.

Obviously not all Jews in the US support gun control (me being an obvious example) but I'd say the majority of us do, and that kind of historical blindness will only serve to come back and bite us in the rear end.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Mozilla Thunderbird 1.0 Available

The hackers at released Thunderbird 1.0 to the world today. Since wasn't as bogged down as it was when Firefox 1.0 was released, I downloaded and installed it on my Dell Latitude this afternoon. If I run into anything funky I'll make note of it here.

Remember Pearl Harbor

Never forget.

Feedback on 1&1

Reader Brett E. sent me the following email:

Hi Dave,

I have had a vanity site up for a few weeks on their Linux Hosting - Home package. I was primarily attracted to cheap too. $5/month and it included a domain registration. So far, no problems.

Hope this helps a little.

Brett E.
Thanks! Anybody else? Post a comment here and share your experiences.

It was only a matter of time

I noticed the other day that I'm starting to receive a bit of spam in my Gmail account. So far, Google's filters are catching them all and dumping them into the spam folder. Hopefully, it won't become the torrent that I get in my other accounts at Yahoo!,, and

Speaking of Gmail, I have one invite left. If you want it send a message to me at davemarkowitz at

Monday, December 06, 2004

Blocking ads and parasites with a HOSTS file

My friend Todd sent me a copy of the HOSTS file that you can download here. In the creators' words:

The Hosts file contains the mappings of IP addresses to host names. This file is loaded into memory at startup, then Windows checks the Hosts file before it queries any DNS servers, which enables it to override addresses in the DNS. This prevents access to the listed sites by redirecting any connection attempts back to the local machine. Another feature of the HOSTS file is it's ability to block other applications from connecting to the Internet, as long the the entry exists.
I loaded it onto my work laptop and will use it for a little while, then see what Spybot and Ad Aware turn up. But it looks promising.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

1And1 Internet?

Anybody out there use 1And1 Internet for their web hosting? I'm happy with Pair but 1And1 is cheap. A guy at work has some stuff hosted with 1And1 and is happy, but I'm looking for a larger sample.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Rats, foiled again

Not only was I less successful last night that I'd hoped for, today I got screwed out of a good time at the range. I called up the place where I shoot and got their ansering machine. It said their winter hours were Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 9:00 - 4:30. So, I expected they'd be open.

Wrong. I got there only to find a sign on the door to the range house indicating that they are closed during the week during buck season. I.e., today and next week. (Insert long string of expletives here.)

I figured that since I was already halfway there, I might as well take a ride up to Cabela's in Hamburg, since I knew there'd be things I need that I could pick up. I walked out of the store with:
  • A spare magazine for my Savage 93GL .22 Mag.
  • A .30 caliber Bore Snake
  • Two .50 caliber ammo cans
  • Two boxes of Ultramax .223 55 grain FMJ remanufactured ammo
  • A Cabela's teddy bear for Amanda
  • A chocolate bar
So the day wasn't a complete waste.

Forget Lysol, get out the Raid

After much dicking about last night with Spybot, Ad Aware, Norton Antivirus, and even Knoppix, we would up using the HP system restore option to clear up my neighbor's PC.

I'd had high hopes for Knoppix using the captive-NTFS option to give me r/w access to the hard disk, which would've allowed me to delete the corrupted Temporary Internet Files, but I couldn't get it to work. I need to experiment with it on my own hardware and see what I need to do to get it running, because it's potentially a very valuable tool.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Time to break out the Lysol

After dinner tonight I'm going over to a neighbor's house to disinfect his PC. It's been infected with Download.Trojan and who knows what else. Apparently, NAV has detected it but can't delete it. So today I updated my PC Toolkit USB flash drive with the latest versions of Spybot, Ad Aware, Trend Micro's system disinfection tool, among other things. I'll also bring over my Knoppix 3.6 CD to run f-prot, in case the box is really fouled up. This should be interesting.

Coincidentally, Slashdot is running a couple of pertinent articles today, here and here. In light of some of the comments posted to the second article, I think I need to print up some flyers and do some advertizing. I can always use a few more bucks.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Time off

The end of the year is rapidly approaching and I have five and a half vacation days that I need to use or I'll lose them. So, I'm starting off by taking off on Friday, seeing as the weather forecast looks decent. Naturally, I intend to go to the range.

I have several guns that need shooting:
  • The Ruger Police Service Six revolver which I bought a few months ago but still haven't put a single round through.
  • The AR-180B and its newly installed brass deflector and red dot sight.
  • My Savage Mark IIGL .22 LR and 93GL .22 Mag bolt actions, both with newly-mounted scopes.
  • The Bulgarian AK.
I'll probably limit myself to the Ruger, AR, and AK this range trip. I'll try to fit in another trip later in the month so I can sight in the rimfires. It looks like my load of choice for the .22 Mag will be CCI Maxi-Mag JHPs. They shoot accurately in my rifle, are readily available, and should work well on varmints; I'm hoping to take the rifle woodchucking sometime. (A friend's in-laws have a farm where they need to keep the 'chucks under control and he said I can come help.)

For the Mark IIGL, I bought a couple boxes of CCI .22 LR subsonic HPs which I'm hoping shoot well. If they do shoot accurately, they will make nice, quiet small game loads, should I ever get back into hunting.

Uh oh

I tried to make a backup of my mail server last night using e-Smith's built-in "backup to desktop" utility. It's supposed to backup all your data in a .tgz file that gets downloaded onto the desktop machine you're logged into the admin interface from. Well, it didn't work. I have about 7 GB of data on the box and after running for a few hours, the utility crapped out on me.

So, it looks like I'll need to build a replacement mail server sooner rather than later. My initial plans are to setup another machine running a fairly stripped-down SuSE 9.2 Pro with Postfix as the MTA and an as-yet-to-be-chosen IMAP implementation. As I mentioned recently, I'm considering running a Citadel BBS on the new box, but that will probably come later, after I had more time to experiment with it.

Still, mail's current uptime as of this writing is 312 days, 17 hours, and 45 minutes. The box has been quietly humming along since the last power failure we had that outlasted my UPS.