Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Vacation and range report

I've been on vacation since last Friday. I'll be going back to work next Tuesday. It's a nice break.

Last weekend we went up to New York state to visit with one of my cousins and his family. He has two daughters -- 6 and 10 -- and my girls got to spend a couple days with them. This is only third time they've met and they get along really well, so we're hoping that they'll be able to come down to PA during Spring Break.

The weather was nice today, upper 40s and sunny, and Judith told me to go shooting. Who am I to argue? I went up to Wicen's with my Century R1a1 FAL and Savage Mark IIGL.

This was the first time I'd had the R1A1 out. You may recall that I had to send it back to Century because the hole in the receiver through which the gas piston passes was off postition, causing the piston to bind. Well, they did in fact fix it. I ran 50 rounds of Australian surplus 7.62 NATO through the rifle, from three different mags, and it ran perfectly with the gas system set to "4." (I didn't even try other settings.) I only shot out to 50 yards, where it was grouping in a bit under 2". Most FALs will shoot into about 4" at 100 yards so I'm fine with the accuracy.

This is my second FAL. The first was a Century L1A1 which I grew to dislike, largely due to the unbelievably loud muzzle brake. Rather than a brake, the new rifle has an American made copy of the Belgian short combo flash suppressor/grenade launcher. Even sans brake, recoil was not bad at all for a rifle shooting 7.62 NATO, and the muzzle blast was not obnoxious.

One thing I noticed upon getting the rifle home was that the Aussie ammo is clean. There were no unburnt powder granules in the bore. I don't think I've ever seen such clean ammo before. I have maybe 80 rounds of it left. Unfortunately, the supply of this seems to have dried up and I'll have to stock up on other 7.62 NATO, likely more of the South African in 140 round battle packs.

I put about 100 rounds through the Savage. This was the first time I'd shot it since rescoping it with my Weaver 4x28mm scope in high rings, which are necessary for the bolt to clear the ocular bell. The ammo I was shooting was CCI .22 LR Subsonic Hollow Point. It's very quiet and accurate stuff. When the crappy Savage trigger didn't cause me to yank the shot, I was able to put them all into well under an inch at 50 yards from a rest. Since my Ruger 10/22 also likes this CCI ammo I am going to place an order from Natchezz for at least 1000 rounds of it.

However, like my 10/22 needed a Power Custom hammer to improve the trigger pull, the Mark IIGL needs an aftermarket replacement trigger. Rifle Basix makes one for the Savage rimfire rifles that should bring the pull down to a couple of pounds with no creep. I will probably order one each for the Mark IIGL and my 93GL in .22 Magnum. (Incidentally, I've already tried a Savage home trigger job I found online. It improved the stock trigger but not enough.)

Why all the fuss about trigger pull? It's very simple. It is extremely difficult to shoot a gun accurately if the trigger pull is heavy, gritty, or too long. The effort expended to get the gun to fire has the side effect of disturbing your aim. This is why target rifles and pistols often have trigger pulls measured in ounces, not pounds. I'm not looking to get a pull that low, but something in the 3 to 3.5 lb range with minimal creep would go a long way to allowing me to extract the last bit of intrisic accuracy from these rifles.

A final observation, this time about optics. The Mark IIGL wears a Weaver 4x28mm rimfire scope. My 10/22 sports a Nikon ProStaff 4x32mm rimfire scope. Having now used both at the range, the Nikon is definitely the better piece of glass. It is brighter and the optics are a bit more clear. The price for each of these scopes is right around the $110 - $120 range, depending upon where you get it. So, while in the past I've recommended the Weaver to folks looking for a good .22 scope, from now on I'm going to recommend the Nikon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Springfield XD in .45 ACP

{Tip of the hat to Mad Ogre.}
Springfield Armory is now listing the XD pistol in .45 ACP. Me likey. A friend has one in 9mm that I've fired and I'll take one over a Glock any day. The grip fits my hand much better. I haven't bought one though becuase up to now they've only been available in 9mmP, .40 S&W, and .45 GAP. I already have a Browning High Power for when I want to shoot 9mm; the only other 9mm I have any desire for is a Ruger P-89. And I have no need for a .40 or .45 GAP. But in .45 ACP, well, that's a horse of a different color. It'll be interesting to see when they actually hit the shelves.

Friday, December 16, 2005

70th Anniversary of the DC-3

Tomorrow is the 70th Anniversary of the first flight of the Douglas DC-3.

Seventy years ago, one of aviation's best-known and most-loved airplanes was born. On Dec. 17, 1935, the DC-3 made its first flight.

It was the plane that changed the way the world flew. The DC-3 made commercial air travel popular and airline profits possible. Its commercial and military service over seven decades has made it an aviation legend.

The importance of the DC-3 cannot be understated. As noted in the quote, it's the airplane that made airline service a viable business model. During World War II it was the main transport aircraft for the US and British Empire. The official US Army name was the C-47 Skytrain while the Brits called it the Dakota. The most common nickname, though, was Gooney Bird. It was used to ferry troops and supplies all over the world. It was used to tow assault gliders and to drop paratroops. It served on in US military use until the 60s, and hundreds of Gooney Birds, mostly C-47s made during The War, are still being flown today in commercial service. Can you imagine a 1940s-vintage truck being used to haul freight today? Talk about over-engineered!

I've been an aviation buff since I was a kid and one airplace I still want a ride in is a DC-3.

Computers suck

Computers suck.

I've spent most of the past two days speed testing a new cable modem/gateway on our lab network. Basically all I'm doing is transferring files from a laptop to and from an FTP server and recording the results. Since we use three kinds of CMTSes (Cisco, Arris, and Motorola), I need to test against each one using several tests:

  • DHCP client with SPI enabled.
  • DHCP client with SPI disabled.
  • Static IP with SPI enabled.
  • Static IP with SPI disabled.

Each of the permutations has to be run with the modems provisioned for 18 Mbps down/3 Mbps up, and 30 Mbps down/10 Mbps up (the latter to simulate an uncapped modem, since our provisioning system doesn't allow truly wide open configs).

What's been frustrating has been very inconsistent results. We're using my Apple G4 iBook, my test Dell D600 running XP, and my coworker's identical Dell. We're also using my D600 booted into SUSE 9.3.

My coworker's Dell allows me to get a much higher speed than my Dell running XP or my iBook. But if I boot my D600 in Linux my results are similar to his running XP.

We're also experiencing intermittent flakiness with the CLI FTP clients we've been using but only when connecting to the FTP server through the new gateway. Sometimes we're unable to get a directory listing. We've been using the standard XP CLI FTP client, ftp under Cygwin, ncftp under Cygwin, ftp on my iBook, and finally ftp under SUSE.

It's enough to make me want to grab a hammer.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thumbs up for Gigaparts

Today I received my third order from Gigaparts, the Comet GP-3 antenna and 100 feet of coax terminated with PL-259s on both ends. I ordered Monday, received a prompt email notification, recieved email confirmation Tuesday from UPS, and got the two packages today. Shipping was via regular UPS Ground, so that's damn quick. This pretty much mirros my two prior orders, so I can feel comfortable recommending them for ham radio supplies. (They also sell 'puters, but have never ordered from them before.)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Comet GP-3

I went and ordered a Comet GP-3 2M/70cm antenna, along with a Cable X-Perts coaxial feed line from Gigaparts. The plan to to mount it on top of my house on a 10 foot mast, which I'll either attach to one of the plumbing vents protruding through the roof, or my chimney. I can pick up the mast and mounting hardware locally. It's being shipped UPS Ground so I don't expect it before the end of next week.

This should really improve the performance of my Yaesu FT-7800 at home.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Snow day, sorta

We received our first significant snowfall overnight, about 6" in Plymouth Meeting. (I'll pause while more northerly or western readers finish laughing.) Most area schools are closed today. OK, well, by 0730 I hadn't received a voicemail indicating the office was closed so I headed out to work. I decided that dealing with SEPTA wouldn't be any fun so I drove in.

As usual, in AWD the Expedition handled the snow and ice with aplomb. I'm not one of those ID10Ts who thinks that a 4x4 allows you to zip along over snow as if I was on dry pavement. I kept it slow and maintained good following distance and made it into town without any serious difficulty.

Naturally when I arrived I found a voicemail waiting for my from my boss who had decided to bail for the day and hoped that I did the same. {sigh} The office is pretty empty and I don't want to be driving when the wet roads freeze up, so I'm going to head out at noon, which will give me time to crank up the snowblower for the first time this winter and clear off my driveway and sidewalks.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Need a base antenna

There's no way around it: For best Tx and Rx with my FT-7800R, I'll need to put an antenna on the roof, on at least a short mast. I've gone through numerous reviews at and the Comet GP-3 dual band is looking good.

I figure that I can clamp the Comet to a piece of EMT conduit used as a mast, then in turn attach the conduit to one of the plumbing vent pipes sticking up through my roof. The coaxial feed to the antenna will then go down the side of my house cable-tied to a downspout, and through a hole into my office. The coax run will probably be about 40 - 50 feet.

I would be interested in hearing from any readers having experience with the GP-3, or who can suggest another alternative 2M/70cm base antenna that sells for $100 or less. Insights into lightning protection are also welcome.

Pearl Harbor Day

Never forget.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Rimfire scopes

Over on THR someone asked about "A1 Optics" rifle scopes for mounting on a Ruger 10/22. I've never heard of this brand so replied with the following information:

I never heard of A1 Optics so can't opine on them.

Weaver makes a 4x28mm rimfire scope and Nikon a 4x32mm rimfire scope that can be had online for about $110. I have one of each, the Weaver is on a Savage Mark IIGL and the Nikon is on a 10/22. I actually got the Nikon as a factory refurbished unit from Natchez Shooters Supply for $70. I highly recommend either of these over cheaper .22 scopes.

Both have excellent optics but the Nikon gathers a bit more light with the larger objective lens. As rimfire scopes, they have the parallax adjusted for 50 or 75 yards, instead of 100 yards as you'll find with a scope intended for use on a centerfire.

Cheap scopes aren't worth your time. They have poor optics and don't hold up well over time. E.g., my Marlin Camp .45 ate a BSA red dot (that I got for free). You don't have to spend a ton of money for a decent scope, but don't go cheap, either.

Monday, December 05, 2005

VMWare Player

I'm posting this from Ubuntu Linux running inside the beta VMWare Player. The Player is more-or-less a stripped-down version of VMWare Workstation that allows you to run virtual machines created on the full version of VMWare. The Player is free, like Microsoft's Word or PowerPoint Viewers.

Along with the VMWare Player, I downloaded the Browser Appliance virtual machine, which is a preconfigured install of Ubuntu that boots you into a Gnome desktop running Firefox. It's pretty slick, IMO.

This is my first time playing with Ubuntu but so far my impression is favorable. I didn't need to futz around with anything to get the fonts looking good and networking just worked. Here's what it looks like:

I have this all running on my test laptop at work, a Dell Latitute D600 with a 1GB of RAM and a 1.8 GHz Pentium M CPU. It seems to be running well.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Well this sucks

I got onto the MARC Sunday net, but just barely. Even at 10W output the other members had a hard time hearing me. I could hear them clear as day, and before the MARC net, I was able to pick up another net off a repeater in Perkasie, which is even further away. So I don't think anything is wrong with my antenna setup.


More mail server stuff

The Book of Postfix arrived Thursday and I started reading it on the train Friday. So far, so good. It's well-written and easy to understand. Going by the table of contents, it appears to gather into one place most of what I need for putting together a single domain mail server with antivirus and antispam filtering. The proof will be in the pudding, of course.

My test environment is going to be CentOS 4.2 in a VMWare virtual machine. I decided to try out CentOS because as an unencumbered version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, there should be no shortage of documentation on how to get things done. While I haven't run Red Hat myself in quite awhile, it is the most prevalent Linux distro in the US.

So far all I've done is the install, setting the hostname, and changing the default MTA from sendmail to Postfix. I'll get around to configuring Postfix, dovecot (IMAP and POP), ClamAV, and Spamassassin later this week.

December already?

It's hard to believe it's December already.

Yesterday we had a birthday party for Alexandra -- she turns three on Tuesday. The party was nice and today both she and Amanda ran around half the day wearing some princess costumes she got. My little girls are playing dress up already. Oy.

Friday night I tried getting on the MARC 'net with my new FT-7800R but they had problems hearing me. It looks like I had the radio misprogrammed to talk to the repeaters, and I was transmitting on the output freq. I'm still learning both the radio and the programming software. I reprogrammed the radio tonight and hopefully I'll have better luck.

I did figure out a new, hopefully decent, antenna setup. Since my office is located on one of the front corners of the house next to the driveway, I cracked the window and placed my magnet-mount mobile antenna on the roof of Judith's car, then ran the coax inside. This gets the antenna away from nearby objects which can detune it, and gives it a proper RF ground. We'll see in a little while how it works.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

United Way Rant

It's that time of year when many large employers try to get their employees to donate to charities through the United Way. Aside from some degree of altruism, there is of course the PR aspect of this as well.

What happens is that employees get inundated with requests from management brass cajoling them to donate. "Even $5 would make a difference. Be a team player." Etc., etc. In reality, what the company is looking for is a certain percentage of its employees to participate, so that for PR purposes it can say, "Seventy percent of BigAssCorp's employees donated to the United Way. Aren't we good people?"

What bullshit. It's a way for companies to boost their public reputations by guilt-tripping their employees into participating. I'll have no truck with it.

Aside from the fact that I contribute to charity on my own, there's also the factor that because the United Way distributes funds to so many different charities, that at least one of them is bound to support something I oppose. And while a donator can specify which end recipient is to get his money, the list is so long that searching for the best designated recipient is an exercise in frustration.

I donate to charity and it's none of my employer's business to know when, how much, and to whom I donate. I am not a public corporation with books open to anyone who's interested in looking at them.

The political aspect of this whole thing stinks. Employees who don't contribute are stigmatized, for declining to participate in what should be a wholly voluntary activity. In some companies failure to participate can adversely affect opportunities for advancement or getting good projects.

This is a perfect example of how good intentions -- get people to engage in philanthropy -- get morphed into an oppressive tool.

Damn this pisses me off.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Yaesu FT-7800R

My little Yaesu VX-5RS handie talkie radio is nice but I've noticed that because it's QRP (only 5W), lately I'm having problems hitting the local repeater from my house. I can recieve fine, but there seems to be enough atmospheric interference to prevent me from being heard. I think it's a seasonal thing. Even when I was able to hit the repeater reliably, people who I spoke to indicated that my signal was a bit weak.

Since a major source of my interest in my ham radio is emergency communications, this situation needed to be rectified. So, today I ordered a Yaesu FT-7800R mobile 2M/70cm rig from Gigaparts. (I previously ordered from them with good results.) With the new rig I'll be able to transmit at up to 50W on 2M and 40W on 70cm, and should have no problem hitting the local repeaters from home. (I bet 10W should suffice to let me get to the MARC repeater in Paoli.) It should also work well for mobile operating in my truck.

I was seriously considering getting an FT-8800, so that I'd get cross-band repeat capability, but that would've added about $100 that I didn't want to spend to the bill. The relative simplicity of operation of the FT-7800 is a bonus, too, as I continue to get my feet wet in ham radio.

Because the FT-7800 uses 13.8V DC power, I needed something to power it with at home (transceivers typically don't come with an AC adapter). So, I ordered a Yaesu 25W power supply as well. In the future I may add a gel cell battery for extended field or emergency ops.

The other accessory I ordered to go along with the new radio is the ADMS programming software and cable, so that I don't need to punch all the frequencies, offsets, and PL tones in by hand, which would be a massive PITA.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A good day busting caps

We had one of our semi-annual scheutzenfests over at my friend Nick's place today.

I brought my Marlin Camp .45, Ruger 10/22, CZ-52, and Browning High Power, which I wound up not shooting. This was the first time I shot the Marlin since installing a 21 lb. Wolff recoil spring. I'd put a 16 lb. spring in it after I bought it last year, but back in August I shot GeekWithA.45's Camp .45 with the heavier spring and was sold. The gun functions reliably, the already mild recoil is reduced even more, and less gunk blows back in my face from the ejection port. This was also the first time I shot the Camp .45 with the Bushnell red dot sight mounted. The zero will need some fine tuning, which will have to wait until I get it to a real range.

The Ruger ran great with CCI Subsonic HP .22 LRs. These loads are very quiet and I'd mainly bought them for my Savage Mark-II bolt action, but I'm pleased that they work well in the semiauto Ruger. This was the first chance I've had to shoot it with the Nikon 4x32mm scope I picked up a few months ago, and with the Butler Creek Hot Lips 25 round magazine. Both worked well. The nikon scope has nice optics, and I'll have to pick up a couple more of the mags. They are really fun when plinking.

We put about 30 rounds of Yugoslavian surplus 7.62x25 through the CZ-52. Muzzle blast and noise were on par with the CCI Blazer .357 Magnums my friend Rusty was shooting in his S&W Model 19. I made sure to run a few wet patches through the bore before we packed up, because the Yugo ammo has corrosive primers. After getting home I cleaned it well with Ballistol and will double check it tomorrow.

My friend Frank brought along a couple neat toys that I got to shoot: a Vepr-K AK in 7.62x39 and a Berretta Storm CX-4 Storm carbine in 9mm Parabellum. The Vepr is really nice, right up there with my Arsenal, Inc. milled Bulgarian AK. It's even heavier than the milled gun, though, between the RPK-type stamped receiver and the furniture. There is no comparison between a high-end AK like a Vepr or an Arsenal, and one of the cheap Romanian or Egyptian rifles. The latter may shoot and function OK, but the former actually look and feel nice while doing it.

I didn't like the Storm. They are certainly very cool looking (hence their use on the new Battlestar Galactica TV show), but it has one of the worst out of the box triggers I've ever felt. The trigger pull is heavy, long, and I noticed some trigger slap. Pistol caliber carbines -- like my Marlin -- can be really fun to shoot, but that trigger killed it for me. I'll probably get a 9mm carbine at some point, but it'll either be a used Marlin Camp 9, or a Ruger PC-9, probably the latter, because I also want to pick up a Ruger P-89 and they use the same mags.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

R1A1 back

The Big Brown Truck arrived this afternoon and dropped off my R1A1 back from Century, along with the 500 rounds of 9mm that I ordered on Saturday from Natchez. (It's a good thing the office closed early, since I had to sign for the rifle.)

Upon opening the box, I was pleasantly surprised to see the cheap blue sleeve that I'd sent the rifle off to Century in had been returned. I didn't really care if I got it back since it's almost disposable, but it's nice to see that they were paying attention. When I took the rifle out of the box I saw an orange chamber flag sticking out of the ejection port, and after verifying myself that the gun was empty, I removed the gas plug.

The first time I removed the gas plug, a week or so ago, the gas piston stayed stuck in the gas tube due to binding. Today it popped right out, as it should. When I broke open the rifle, removed the bolt carrier and bolt, and receiver cover, what Century had done to fix the binding was obvious. The hole through which the piston hits the bolt carrier had been reamed out. With the gas piston spring removed the piston now drops freely through the receiver. It's a little sticky pushing it back forwards, but as I understand it, this is normal when the gas piston spring isn't in the gun.

Judging by the carbon deposits on the piston, it appears that Century test fired the rifle before shipping it back to me. So, I'm cautiously optimistic that it's fixed. I may shoot it this weekend and see.

The Book of Postfix

I just ordered a copy of The Book of Postfix: State-of-the-Art Message Transport from Amazon. In my search for a relatively easy way to implement a Linux or FreeBSD email server, one thing keeps rearing its head. Namely, something like the Qmail Toaster seems dependent upon a relatively small group of developers. I want to get away from that and use a more widely adopted system, in search of a longer useful life. To do that I'll probably need to dig a bit deeper than I would otherwise have to, were I going with a canned package.

Combining Postfix with ClamAV and Spam Assassin should allow me to create a solid, supportable system with good performance.

Once I've had a chance to look over the book I'll post a brief review.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

WebMail extension for Thunderbird

Last night while looking for something else, I ran across the WebMail extension for Mozilla Thunderbird. It allows you to fetch mail from otherwise POP-disabled webmail accounts, e.g., Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail. Basically, it creates a POP-to-HTTP proxy which allows you to access webmail as if it was a POP3 account.

I installed the WebMail extension and Yahoo! plugin on Bagend and gave it a try. It worked fine. This is in contrast to Yahoo POPs, which I tried awhile ago and couldn't get it to work.

WebMail is a nice example of how Thunderbird can be extended to better serve your needs.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Several Updates to The Shooters' Bar (SM)

I made several updates to The Shooters' Bar (SM), my free online list of pro-RKBA attorneys. Most of the additions today were under Washington.

If you a pro gun rights attorney and want to reach out to other pro-RKBA people, no matter what your area of practice is, send me a request to be added to the list, using the same format as shown on TSB. It won't cost you anything.


You may have noticed a new banner down on the right side of the page. It links to Fred Langa's Langalist, which I've been getting for a couple of years now. It's a good source of technical tips for keeping your Windows boxen running smoothly. Fred Langa publishes both free and for-pay enhanced versions of the list, and I highly recommend subscribing. I've gleaned several tips from the list which have helped me with my own machines and clients' PCs.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Ammo Day

I almost forgot, today is Ammo Day -- the national ammo BUYcott. Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, I was able to participate by ordering 500 rounds of CCI Blazer Brass 9mm 115 grain FMJ from Natchez Shooters Supply.

Go order some ammo.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Silly Internet Quiz Results

(Tip o' the hat to Geek With a .45.)

Which soldier type are you?

Which soldier type are you?
created with


What action here are you?

Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with


Busy week

I took off Monday after Judith took Alexandra to the E.R. early that morning. Alexandra appears to have a case of bronchitis but it's much better now, since she went on Zithromax. This is the first time in two years she's had to go on any meds.

Yesterday and today I was over in Mt. Laurel, NJ, attending training on BelAir's wireless mesh networking equipment. This is some really neat gear, using a combination of 802.11a for backhaul, plus 802.11b/g for client access. The units can have multiple SSIDs, which in turn can be matched to different VLANs. I'll be back in the office tomorrow.

I've also been doing some experimenting with FreeBSD 6 and Qmail, setting up a "Mail Toaster" inside a VMWare virtual machine. This is for my private client with the SUSE/CommuniGate Pro mail server. I've been looking into replacing this combination since upgrading and maintaining it has become a royal pain in the ass. E.g., updating ClamAV's engine has become impractical due to dependency hell. Also, it's running SUSE 9, for which support is being dropped next month.

While FreeBSD of course rocks, and the Mail Toaster is rather neat, I don't think it's the right replacement for this client. If it was an entirely new setup I might go with it, but from what I've seen, migrating their existing hardware is going to take too long, due to the necessity of downloading and compiling from source the toaster bits.

What I may do is upgrade the box in steps. First, get them on OpenSUSE 10, then look at moving from CommuniGate Pro to Postfix + Qpopper (since they insist on using POP3 instead of IMAP.) We'll see.

Cracked Iver Johnson .30 Carbine Bolt

I got this email today:

"I had an IJ Carbine in the early-mid '80s. I had to send it back to the factory because the bolt was too soft, and the locking lugs began to peen. It's my understanding that many IJ Carbines had soft parts."

This is a quote from your 17 Sept 2004 post on "THR". I am emailing you because I need some advice.

I bought two former Missouri police dept Iver Johnson Enforcer pistols. I haven't put too many rounds through them, but on one, the bolt cracked. Upon further inspection, I saw some of the peening you described. I could buy a replacement IJ carbine bolt from Numrich, but was their rifle bolt different from their pistol bolt? I'd be better off with a GI or M-1 GI type M-1 carbine bolt, of course (no soft metal in the GI bolts) but upon inspection, the IJ design for my Enforcer was different. Simpler, easier to clean, but different than the GI design.

How did you resolve your soft bolt problem?
And my reply:

I had purchased an extended warranty from the store where I bought my IJ Carbine, so when I noticed the locking lugs starting to peen, I took it back to the store, who shipped it back to IJ. I got it back with a new bolt. Unfortunately, IJ went out of business awhile ago.

What I'd do in your case is to replace the bolt with a USGI M1 or M2 Carbine bolt. I'd prefer the later round style over the earlier flat bolts. The round bolts are stronger, and have more mass. I would not buy an IJ bolt from Numrich, since there's a good chance you'd end up with the cracked bolt problem again.

No matter which bolt you get, I suggest having a gunsmith familiar with M1 Carbines check the headspace. I wouldn't count on it being a drop-in part.

Of the M1 Carbine clones made for the US civilian market after World War II, the Plainfields and Iver Johnson (after they bought Plainfield) were generally the best. Quality deteriorated towards the end of production in 80s, however, as demonstrated with my IJ Carbine, and the two Enforcers mentioned above.

Universal Carbines were generally not too good, and in fact are not true clones. While the Plainfields and IJs will take USGI parts, Universals won't.

More recently IAI made some Carbines down in Texas, but has since gone out of business. From what I've read, they had a lot of problems. The only current manufacturer of M1 Carbines is Auto Ordnance, which is owned by Kahr. I've heard mixed reports about the Kahrbines (pardon the pun) but IMO, they'd be worth a shot (groan) if you are in the market for an M1. I find it neat that the AO Carbines are being produced in WW2 format, i.e., without the bayonet lug and with the "L"-type flip rear sight.

I sure like my original Underwood M1, though. :-)

Monday, November 14, 2005

"WiFi Scoop"

This is neat. Some students down in New Zealand combined USB WiFi adapters and Chinese cooking implements to greatly extend the range of WiFi networks. Huh? Just check out the link.

More network fun

Saturday I went back to my client and did more work on their new webserver. Specifically, I added the SCSI interface card so that I could then hook up their Dell automatic tape loader. Since the special application they are going to run isn't installed yet I (the vendor will be coming tomorrow) the only test backup I could do was of the C:\ drive. I'll check the results on my next site visit.

The other thing I had to do was some troubleshooting of the owner's Thunderbird installation. I wound up removing 1.0.6 and loading 1.0.7, at which point I thought everything was working OK. However, she called me today and told me about some continuing issues. Something is really borked on her system and it looks like I'll have to return and eradicate every trace of Tbird, then reinstall. The other thing that leads me to believe the there's an underlying Windows problem is that all of a sudden her PC isn't seeing the network share where her Quickbooks data gets backed up to. I just love XP Home in a networked office environment. :-|

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Sony sued over its DRM malware

They sure had it coming.

Suit targets Sony BMG anti-piracy technology

By Reuters

Story last modified Thu Nov 10 05:18:00 PST 2005

LOS ANGELES--Record company Sony BMG Music Entertainment has been targeted in a class-action lawsuit in California by consumers claiming their computers have been harmed by anti-piracy software on some Sony BMG CDs.

The claim states that Sony BMG's failed to disclose the true nature of the digital rights management system it uses on its CDs and thousands of computer users have unknowingly infected their computers, according to court documents.

The suit, filed Nov. 1 in Los Angeles Superior Court asks the court to stop Sony BMG from selling additional CDs protected by the anti-piracy software and seeks monetary damages for California consumers who purchased them.

A spokesman for Sony BMG declined to comment.

Full story here.

Google Desktop

One of my favorite features in Mac OS-X Tiger is Spotlight, Apple's killer desktop search tool. It blows away the Find feature in Windows for usability and speed. Earlier this year, Google introduced Google Desktop, which offers similar functionality for Windows users.

After installing Google Desktop, it offers you the opportunity to configure it. You can set it to integrate with your Taskbar, as a floating searchbox, or as a sidebar. I have GD installed on Bagend and my Dell at work, and am currently using it as a sidebar. In the sidebar I have subwindows for Email, News, Web Clips, Scratch Pad, Maps, Quickv View, local weather, and a Todo list.

Following configuration, GD needs some time to index your hard disk. It does this when your PC is idle, so you won't see a performance hit due to GD running in the background.

One advantage of GD over Spotlight is that it will search and index Thunderbird email, even IMAP folders. Spotlight will do this for, but not Thunderbird. GD can also be setup to index a Gmail account. GD will also index your Outlook email, whether it's on an Exchange server and cached locally, or in a .PST file, and adds a plugin for searching from within Outlook. I find this very valuable because Outlook's built-in search is weak, in my opinion.

As with most other things from Google, Desktop is free. Based on my use of it the past couple of days, I definitely recommend it for Windows users with a lot of data.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Armed Citizens and Rioters

In reply to RBT's comments about possible American reaction to French-style rioting, Jerry Pournelle wrote:

Mr. Thompson may find himself facing BATF and Federal Marshals. It is likely that the federal authority will support the rioters, who will only be demanding their rights. ...

... And to jail anyone who defends himself, as a number of Korean shopkeepers found during the last riots here.

I have the greatest respect for Dr. Pournelle, but have to agree with Bob on this issues. In my opinion, the reaction Jerry envisages is more likely in the "Blue" liberal enclaves (IOW, the big cities and states like MA, NJ, NY, MD, CA, or IL). I don't see it happening in the "Red" areas.

After Katrina, a Federal court issued a restraining order in New Orleans to stop the NOPD from disarming civilians who were guarding their own property. While it is apalling that such an order would ever be issued by the chief of police, we do have here a recent example of where the Feds actually came to the defense of citizens' Second Amendment rights against local officals.

For what it's worth, I live in a subdivision in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. I am aware of at least three other well-armed homes on my block within a stone's throw of my house. I have reason to believe that if rioters/looters were to threaten my neighborhood, the amount of firepower they'd meet would give people like Feinstein and Schumer the vapors.

Perhaps mass riots could take hold in urban areas in the US. It's happened before. I can see the politicians who run large cities like Philly trying to disarm their subjects citizens. But neither mass riots nor disarming civilians will fly in the "Red" areas.

Edited to add the following...

Dr. Pournelle replied:

What about Waco, Texas?

The political climate has changed. Waco was what, 1993? That was during the heyday of the most antigun administration in US history. While W's administration is hardly made up of Second Amendment absolutists, it isn't as actively antigun rights as the Clinton administration.

We are now at a point where a majority of states have "shall-issue" carry permit laws, when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 was allowed to sunset, and a law restricting abusive lawsuits against gun manufacturers was just signed into law by Bush.

There may be isolated incidents of ATF disarming Americans in the wake of French style rioting, but I don't think the current political climate will support widespread civilian disarmament.

Monday, November 07, 2005

RMAed the R1A1

Before I go hacking on the R1A1 FAL I want to give Century Arms the chance to fix it. So, this morning I called them up and got an RMA number, then shipped it out (I'm off today). They should get it Wednesday and hopefully will be able to turn it around fairly quickly.

Assuming all is well when I get it back, I'm looking into a couple of customizations. First, I'll probably replace the R1 gas plug with the grenade launcher sight with a standard metric gas plug. The R1 gas plug is a big PITA to remove for cleaning.

Second, the Century plastic STG-58 style handguards look cool and feel good in my hand, but look like they'll heat up after shooting a couple of magazines. Over on the Fal Files, I've seen several good comments about Tapco's T-48 style handguard, and may spring for one, along with their SAW style grip. I'm debating whether to go for the whole set -- handguard, grip, and SAW style buttstock -- since it's about $100. But one of the guys on the FAL Files pointed out that the SAW style butt has a larger buttplate than other FAL stocks, which spreads recoil out over a larger area. If I go for the whole set I may get it in OD.

I'll post a follow up when I get the rifle back.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sony's malicious software

You may have heard by now that at least some of Sony's recent audio CDs contain a "rootkit," which can lead to your PC being compromised if you use it to listen to one of their discs.

In his brief Wednesday post, fellow Daynotes Gang member Rick Hellewell addressed the Sony rootkit issue. He gives a good overview of the problem along with some links to follow. Rick defines the problem thusly:

Here's the problem: if the root kit is installed, then any other process similarly named will be invisible to the user or system administrator. Great opportunity for the virus/worm writers. Or the "Rats" (the guys that install keystroke loggers via virus/worm/"drive-by attack" to gather your bank login keystrokes.

Go follow the links from Rick and get yourself edumacated.

This is especially egregious corporate behavior. Malware -- including spyware, viruses, worms, and rootkits -- is one of the major causes of system instability. It appears that it is very diffcult to get rid of the Sony rootkit without reformatting you hard drive and reinstalling Windows and your apps.

Sony has a legitimate interest in protecting its intellectual property rights. This doesn't give them the right to violate your property rights to your system by using underhanded tactics to get you to install malware on your PC. I would love to see Sony and the company which wrote the rootkit get the shit sued out of them. It would seem to me that Sony is setting itself up for liability for trespass to chattel, unfair trade practices, and possibly worse, depending on actual damages.

I can tell you that I sure as hell won't be putting any CDs from Sony in my computers, and the odds of my buying anything from them ever again (I have a Sony digital camera and camcorder) are basically zero.

Friday, November 04, 2005

FAL problems

It figures. I discovered last night that the gas piston on my Century R1A1 FAL is binding in the hole at the front of the receiver. Based on responses gleaned from posts to, THR, and the FAL Files, one of two things is likely the case: 1) the barrel is improperly-timed, i.e., either over- or under-torqued, of 2) the hole in the receiver is off-center. I submitted the following ticket to Century today:

I purchased a new Century R1A1 FAL a couple of weeks ago from Surplus City in Feasterville, PA. I purchased the rifle new, and have not shot it yet.

While doing an initial checkover of the gun last night, I removed the gas plug for the first time and discovered that the gas piston does not move freely through the hole in the front of the receiver. The piston binds in the receiver. When I removed the gas plug, the piston remained in the rifle instead of springing forward. To remove the piston, I had to push it forward, towards the muzzle, using a Lyman gunsmith's punch. I am unable to replace the gas plug with the piston in place, without jamming it back in and binding the piston in the receiver hole.

Based on some research, it looks like the barrel timing is slightly over- or under-torqued or the hole in the receiver through which the piston passes to contact the bolt carrier is off-center. I do not have the tools or expertise to fix the problem myself.

Will Century fix this problem under warranty? If so, please send me shipping instructions.

If Century pushed back I'll look into reaming the hole, but I'd rather have them fix it. Updates as I get 'em.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

SMC switch issue finally resolved

Several months ago I started working with an SMC6752AL2 managed Ethernet switch. Our hospitality team has an upcoming installation with Ethernet in each of the rooms of a very large hotel. One of the requirements we have for any installation is that a host on one port cannot be allowed to see traffic from a host on another port.

SMC includes a "private VLAN" feature in their managed switches which provdes the host-to-host security we want. However, I discovered when I first tried implementing it that the private VLAN feature also cuts off any remote IP connectivity to the switch. With the private VLAN enabled on VLAN2, I couldn't connect via telnet, ssh, or http to VLAN1 for management.

After going back and forth with SMC's engineers for a couple of months, trying umpteen different configs, we determined that having the management and host VLANs separate just flat out won't work. Since the management IP is on a different logical subnet than the IPs that will be handed out to client hosts via DHCP, we decided to ignore VLAN1, make VLAN2 a private VLAN, and assign the management IP to VLAN2 with an ACL allowing IP connections from only the LAN's default gateway.

That's where we ran into another snag. Something was causing the connections to the switch that went through the gateway to time out. If I had my laptop configured with the gateway's IP and connected directly to the uplink port of the switch I could get in, although the time to setup a telnet or http session was s l o w.

Today, SMC sent me some new opcode for the switch. I tftped to the box, rebooted, and FINALLY, I was able to remotely manage the switch. Now I can move on to other things.

What a relief!

Echolink conference

Yesterday I mentioned that I picked up a webcam with a built-in mic on Sunday for use with various IM and ham-related VOIP programs. Last night I participated in my first Echolink conference.

In a nutshell, Echolink is one way to extend the reach of VHF ham radios by connecting them to the Internet. Much ham activity on VHF (e.g., the 2M band) is via local repeaters. Repeater typically receive on one frequency then retransmit on another. I try to get on a MARC net at least once a week.

However, even though a repeater can greatly extend the usable range of VHF communications, VHF cannot compete with the HF bands for true long range commo. Unless, of course, you throw the Internet into the mix.

There are several systems which connect VHF repeaters to the Internet to allow world-wide communication using low power handy talkies, including IRLP, eQSO, Yaesu's WIRES, and Echolink. The access Echolink, even from a PC, requires you to hold a valid amateur radio license. eQSO on the other hand, does permit non-licensed operators to participate in "rooms" with no radio link.

The official Echolink software is for Windows, but there are Macintosh and Linux clients as well. There are two basic ways to access Echolink.

First, if there's an Echolink-capable repeater in your area you can connect to it with your radio, dial up another Echolink node, and talk to people on that node, who may be on a radio or a computer.

The second way to is to use the Echolink client and a computer with a sound card, speakers, and a mic to connect to a node. This is what I did last night.

The organizer of last night's conference scheduled the time and the node, and participants logged in. We had a couple who connected via radio, others used their PCs, while the organizer himself didn't have a mic on his PC, so he used a radio to connect to a repeater while simultaneously logged on at his PC, so he could read text messages and see who was in the conference.

I was impressed with the overall audio quality. Everyone was quite clear, better than some other VOIP programs I've tried AAMOF. The guys connected via radio did breakup sometimes, but those using their PCs and a mic were crystal clear.

Since this was the first time for most of us, last night was largely devoted to figuring the whole system out. Future conferences with this group will probably have a topic list for each meeting.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Firefox 1.5 RC1

The more adventurous among you may be interested in trying out the first release candidate for Firefox 1.5. I loaded it on my iBook this morning and so far haven't run into any major problems. It did break the "downloadthemall" and Bookmarks Sync extensions, so unless I go back to 1.0.7, I'll have to wait until they're updated. Likewise, it broke a Mac-only theme I was using (I disremember the name), so it dumped me back with the default theme. So, I installed the Aquatint theme, which looks nice and makes Firefox look more like a regular OS-X app.

I noticed that the Preferences box is a bit more Mac-like than in previous releases. Also, the delete key now serves as a "Back" button, a feature I've always liked on the Windows ports of Firefox, Mozilla, and Netscape. For some reason this has been absent from prior Mac (and Linux) builds, without a way to implement it.

Logitech webcam

On Sunday I picked up a Logitech QuickCam Communicate STX for use on Bagend with various IM programs as well as ham-related VOIP systems like Echolink and eQSO. Installation was pretty straightforward, although it seemed to hang the box during the initial audio calibration. I've seen this on another XP machine with Logitech's software.

Last night after my Echolink account was validated I connected to the test server, which plays back to you anything you say to it. I had to adjust placement of the webcam so that the built-in mic was able to pickup my voice, but aside from that didn't have to tweak it at all. I'm planning to participate in a 'net tonight with some of the Arfcom SF guys, so we'll see (or hear) how well it works for real.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Partial server install

This morning I made a site visit to one of my clients. They are going to start using Ideal Planroom for their customers and so needed a new server installed. They got a nice Dell Poweredge dual 3.0 GHz Xeon box with a bunch of SCSI disk space. I'd been expecting to setup all the hardware today, but the tape autoloader and equipment cabinet, including the rackmount keyboard and LCD monitor, haven't arrived yet.

In the meantime, after doing my regular maintenance on their file and mail servers, we got the new Dell out of the box and temporarily hooked it up to their LAN so I could verify its hardware configuration and complete the initial Windows 2003 Server config, including installation of IIS.

The tape autoloader and cabinet are supposed to arrive Monday. Assuming they do come in, I'll go back in a week to finish the installation.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Federal Govt. Recognizes the Second Amendment as an Individual Right

Amid all the hoopla regarding the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act (S.397), passed last week by Congress and signed this week by the President, largely overlooked are the Congressional findings included in the law:

(a) Findings- Congress finds the following:

(1) The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

(2) The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the rights of individuals, including those who are not members of a militia or engaged in military service or training, to keep and bear arms.

As pointed out at the Volokh Conspiracy, courts are not bound by Congressional findings when interpreting constitutional provisions, however, such findings may be influential in a particular case. This is a Good Thing, and hopefully gets us a bit closer to the time when courts routinely recognize the 2A's status as an individual right on par with free speech, etc.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

In contrast with Louisiana ...

... at least one Floriday legislator thinks that citizens should not be disarmed due to the declaration of an emergency. Found in Arfcom's General Discussion forum:


October 25, 2005 (321) 984-4848


TALLAHASSEE - Representative Mitch Needelman (R-Melbourne) today announced the filing House Bill (HB) 285 to preserve the right of citizens to lawfully possess weapons during an officially declared state of emergency.

"Recent events in the New Orleans area during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina demonstrate that citizens' right to keep and bear arms are especially important during a state of emergency," said Representative Needelman, a retired State Law Enforcement Officer. "The very basis for the Second Amendment is to empower citizens with the right to self-protection-and when is self-protection more critical than in a time of disaster?"

HB 285 clarifies the authority of the governor during a declared emergency by asserting that "nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to authorize the seizure, taking, or confiscation of
firearms that are lawfully possessed."

The New York Times reported in early September that legally possessed firearms were being confiscated from law abiding citizens, quoting the superintendent of police that "only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons." A Louisiana state statute allows the chief law enforcement officer to "regulate possession" of firearms during declared emergencies.

"HB 285 will ensure that the unconstitutional stripping of citizens' rights does not occur during emergencies in Florida," said Representative Needelman. "We have an opportunity to reassert the right to bear arms and avoid the clear violation that occurred in Louisiana."

HB 285 has been filed for consideration in the 2006 Session of the Florida Legislature. The Legislature is slated to convene on March 7, 2006.

It would be nice to see something similar at the Federal level.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Brazilians reject gun ban!

By a margin of about 64 to 36%, Brazilians have rejected a civilian disarmament scheme. Obviously something needs to be done about their violent crime, but disarming victims isn't it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Support for Brazilian gun ban weakening

Brazil is set to hold a referendum on whether or not to ban civilian sales of guns and ammunition. As with all other civilian disarmament schemes, the purported goal is to reduce violent crime. Reports I've read over the past couple of weeks indicated that the referendum was certain to pass.

But a funny thing happened when Brazilians were able to hear both sides of the debate:

Before the referendum, support for the ban was running as high as 80 percent. But in the weeks before the referendum, both sides were granted free time to present their cases on prime-time TV, and the pro-gun lobby began to grow.

In a survey released Wednesday by Toledo & Associates, 52 percent of those questioned said they would vote against the ban, while 34 percent would support it. The poll questioned 1,947 people in 11 Brazilian state capitals on Oct. 8-15, and had a margin of error of 2.2 percentage points.

"Most of the media supported the ban, so before the television spots, nobody gave it much thought, but when the pro-gun lobby got equal time the opinion really shifted," said Jessica Galeria, who researches gun violence for the Viva Rio think tank. "They were smart, using images of Nelson Mandela, Tiananmen Square and the Berlin Wall to link owning a gun with freedom."

The media greatly influences public opinion. If the media presents only a certain point of view then it is easy to sway public opinion in a desired direction. But force the media to let the marketplace of ideas flourish, and the end result may be quite different.

A liberal-dominated media wont to present only its own editorial opinion as unbiased news has cursed the US for decades. Thankfully, the Internet has changed this for the better. Yes, the 'net is full of filth, but the low barriers to entry enable all viewpoints to be heard, even those that mainstream media dislikes.

This is a perfect example of why communications monopolies and censorship -- by the government or corporations -- are bad.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Gun day

The weather today was crummy -- rainy and chilly. With outdoor activities off the agenda, I found myself at Surplus City this afternoon.

I've been considering giving the FAL platform another try, and wound up getting a new Century R1A1 FAL. The parkerzing job looks nice, it was clean inside, and the barrel appears to be new after running a couple of patches through the bore. I'm not sure if the thing on the muzzle is a brake or a flash suppressor, but I think it's the latter. It's no-ban style, i.e., it has the recesses to allow bayonet mounting. The cocking handle is obviously a used part and shows some wear. The lower reciever is originally from a full-auto rifle, and the selector will rotate all the way forward to the auto position, although of course the rifle will only shoot semiauto. There's a grenade launcher site mounted over the gas port adjustment. It came with two magazines, so I'll need to pick up some more. Luckily, FAL mags are cheap. The furniture is US-made. The butt is pretty conventional for a FAL, while the plastic handguards are styled after the steel handguard on the STG-58 FAL variant. One thing I find annoying is that Century doesn't put a sling swivel on the butt, so until I do so there's no way to attach a sling to the rifle. In any event, I hope to get it to the range before Thanksgiving.

I wasn't the only one to pick up a new toy today. My brother Josh went to Seneca Arms in Green Lane, and found a beautiful Smith & Wesson Model 19-3 made in 1974. It's still in the original box, with all the papers, including the protective wax paper that the gun shipped wrapped in. It had the merest trace of a turn ring on the cylinder. The gun looks new, even though it's 31 years old. It was so nice that if I'd bought it, it would be a safe queen. He also bought a box of Federal .38 Special 158 grain Nyclad HPs, which I convinced him to not shoot, as they are discontinued and will be a collector's item.

Since the Model 19 is his and not mine, after dinner Josh, my dad and I hit the indoor range at the Lower Providence Rod & Gun Club. The Smith shoots. He shot a 6 round group that could be covered with a half-dollar. Josh also had his Springfield M1911, which he's still working out extractor issues with, and a Browning BuckMark.

Dad brought his S&W Model 625. This is a recent production gun with the built-in lock and the frame mounted firing pin. The action has slicked up a lot since he got it (it was atrocious at first), but it'll never get to the level of Josh's or my 625s, which are older models with lighter hammer springs.

I brought my Springfield M1911 Loaded and Browning High Power Practical. Ammo was Sellier & Bellot FMJ in both .45 ACP and 9mm. I've had good results with S&B, up until tonight. The High Power ran fine, but the Springfiled kept choking on the S&B. It's extremely reliable with Winchester White Box and Federal American Eagle, but I experienced several failures to eject with the S&B .45 tonight. Several times, extracted cases became jammed in the magazine's feed lips, with two different mags. At the end of the night I had a single .45 round, which I fired after loading it directly into the chamber without a mag in the gun. It ejected downward, through the magazine well, which was simply bizzare. S&B .45 from the same lot has run just fine in my Ruger P90 and IIRC, my Marlin Camp .45. I think I'm going to standardize on WWB or FAE .45 in the future, though.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Different views on S.397 Part 4

Finally, from The Firearms Coalition:

From The Firearms Coalition:

The House of Representatives today passed the Protection of Lawful
Commerce in Arms Act with amendments added by the Senate to require
trigger locks be sold with all guns sold by dealers (current law
requires trigger locks be sold only with new guns). The bill also
redefines armor-piercing ammunition in a manner that amounts to no
substantial change, and calls for a study by the Attorney General of
performance standards of body armor and ammunition. Such standards
already exist (that's where the vest classifications, Type II, Type IIA
and so on come from).

Some of our friends worked very hard against passage of the bill because
they considered the amendments cause for killing the bill. We disagree.
While we don't like the amendments, the bill is a net gain for gun owners.

This is a case where, as my late, lamented father Neal Knox used to say,
"the perfect is the enemy of the good." It is only the most recent
example the other side adapting while the pro-gun side has remained stuck.
The time has come to take a couple of pages from the
anti-rights crowd's playbook:

· Work for strategic incremental changes

It isn't hard to spot cases where the other side has grabbed small
victories. Amendments to the Lawful Commerce in Arms Act provide only one
example. But the important incremental changes are strategic such as
separating gun rights from other civil rights by banning gun
ownership for certain misdemeanors.

There are many opportunities for the pro-rights side to make incremental
changes going the other way. Some could be truly far-reaching.

One example is a clean-up of the "sporting purposes" language of the 1968
Gun Control Act. According current law, the only justification for
civilian ownership of a firearm is if it is "particularly suitable for
sporting purposes." Maybe it's time for Federal law to recognize the
legitimacy of armed self defense. It would certainly make an
interesting debate.

· In politics there is no fourth quarter

Once a bill is passed there is nothing to prevent going back for another
bite at the apple. The other side did it in 1986 when they attached a
machine gun ban to the McClure-Volkmer Gun Owner Protection Act, the first
time in American history that any firearm had been banned.

No rule says if we've passed one bill that we can't pass another, or that
we can't take back next session what we lost in this one.

Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. The game, God willing, is
never over.
Of the different views presented, The Firearms Coalition's most closely match my own. I don't like the mandatory inclusion of trigger locks with all guns sold. In many cases, trigger locks are more dangerous to the gun owner than an unlocked gun. But, this bill as a whole is an incremental step in the right direction. We have slowly been winning back our rights on the national level. We can't expect to get them all back at once, and I regard the trigger lock thing as a temporary sop, something we can come back to next year and rid ourselves of.

Different views on S.397 Part 3

Next up, CCRKBA:


BELLEVUE, WA – Passage today by the House of Representatives of S. 397 was hailed by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) as an important tort reform accomplishment that will put an end to junk lawsuits against the firearms industry.

"This important legislation will stop the anti-gunners cold in their attempts to bankrupt firearms manufacturers, distributors and retailers," said CCRKBA Chairman Alan M. Gottlieb. "It closes an important loophole through which extremist gun grabbers have been trying to use the courts to crush gun ownership in this country, when they could not get Congress or state legislatures to do their bidding."

"This common sense legislation," added CCRKBA Executive Director Joe Waldron, "is long overdue. It sends a clear signal to the anti-gun lobby that mainstream America has had enough of their attempts to have their political agenda forced on us all by the courts.

"In the past six years, since the first lawsuit was filed by the City of New Orleans," Waldron recalled, "tens of millions of dollars have been spent by the industry defending against these harassment legal actions. That's money that could have been spent on research and development, and safety education efforts."

Noting that none of the dozens of municipal lawsuits so far filed has ultimately prevailed, Gottlieb stated, "It was obvious from the outset that these lawsuits were designed more for generating headlines than helping crime victims. Yet agenda-driven politicians, supported by the anti-gun lobby, kept going to court, and the reason is now clear. They wanted to break American firearms manufacturers, not for the public benefit, but because they simply hate guns. They hate the people who make them, and especially the people who own them.

"For too many years," Gottlieb concluded, "the small, but very shrill gun control lobby has pushed legislation to take our gun rights, and used an all-too-cooperative media to distort the truth about gun owners and the Second Amendment. When that didn't work, they resorted to the courts and a handful of mercenary, politically-motivated attorneys, all in an attempt to destroy a fundamental civil right by financially devastating a perfectly legal industry. Their extremism has been dealt a serious blow, and in the process, an important step toward legal reform has been taken, and American gun owners should thank every member of Congress who voted for this measure."

Different views on S.397 Part 2

Here's the NRA-ILA's press release:

Historic Victory For NRA
U.S. House Of Representatives Passes
The "Protection Of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act"

(Fairfax, VA) - Today the United States House of Representatives passed the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" (S. 397) by a bipartisan vote of 283-144. The legislation now moves to President Bush's desk for his expected signature.

Commenting on the passage of this landmark legislation, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said, "This is an historic victory for the NRA. Freedom, truth and justice prevailed, and today S. 397 is one step closer to becoming the law of the land. No other industry is forced to defend themselves when a violent criminal they do not know, have never met and cannot control, misuses a legal non-defective product. American firearms manufacturers will now receive the same fair treatment."

The "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act" seeks to end predatory and baseless lawsuits initiated nationwide by the gun control lobby. These lawsuits sought to bankrupt a lawful, highly regulated industry by holding the manufacturers and retailers responsible for the unforeseeable acts of criminals. S. 397 passed the Senate in late July with a bipartisan vote of 65-31.

Joining LaPierre in commenting on this victory, NRA Chief Lobbyist Chris W. Cox added, "Our judicial system has been exploited for politics and Congress put a stop to that. Passage of the 'Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act' would not have been possible without the support of the 257 House co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle. We appreciate the tireless efforts of Rep. Cliff Stearns and Rep. Rick Boucher and the Republican members of House leadership who worked to move the bill in this chamber.

"We are a safer country today because Congress passed this critical legislation and acted to save American icons like Remington, Ruger, Winchester and Smith & Wesson from politically motivated lawsuits. Our men and women in uniform abroad and at home now will not have to rely on France, China or Germany to supply their firearms," Cox added.

During Senate debate earlier this year, the Pentagon stated its concern over the consequences if the American firearms industry was litigated into extinction. The Department of Defense stated that it "strongly supports" S. 397 citing, "that passage of S. 397 would help safeguard our national security by limiting unnecessary lawsuits against an industry that plays a critical role in meeting the procurement needs of our men and women in uniform."

"I would like to thank our members who played a pivotal role in making this bill a reality. Together, we have saved the American firearms industry and protected the sanctity of the Second Amendment," concluded LaPierre.

National Rifle Association of America
Institute for Legislative Action

Different views on S.397 Part 1

You may have heard the Congress has finally passed a law to protect firearms manufacturers from frivolous lawsuits. E.g., once bush signs the bill, people will no longer be able to sue gun makers in Federal court for damages caused by criminal misuse of their products. E.g., Joe gets murdered with a Ruger handgun, and Joe's wife sues Ruger for damages, even though the Ruger pistol was sold in accordance with all laws. This is akin to Joe's wife suing General Motors for wrongful death after he got run over by a drunk in a Chevy.

Passage of S.397 was not without discord amongst the ranks of gunnies. For example, GOA wanted the bill killed because it includes a section requiring that trigger locks be sold with all guns, and another section concerning armor piercing ammunition.

I'm going to post press releases from three pro-RKBA groups to show their varying takes on S.397's passage. First, from GOA:

While gun control passes in the House, GOA expresses a big THANK YOU
to all of its members and activists who waged a lone battle of
-- And you can be encouraged that your calls made a HUGE difference
in one area

Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408

Thursday, October 20, 2005

"The anti-gun provisions in S. 397 would probably be stripped out in
the House if all the gun groups were working together with GOA." --
Rep. Ron Paul, Sept. 15, 2005

It's a shame really.

Rep. Ron Paul is totally correct. Working united, we could have
encouraged the House leadership to bring up a CLEAN bill.

H.R. 800, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, garnered
well over 250 cosponsors and would have passed the House easily if
the leadership had brought up this bill rather than its Senate
counterpart, S. 397.

Unfortunately, GOA was the ONLY national group that was not calling
for passage of the Senate bill, which contained new gun control. And
likewise, GOA was the ONLY national group that was pressing for
passage of the clean bill, H.R. 800.

The House today passed S. 397 and sent it to the President. Because
he has promised to sign this legislation, it is all the more tragic
that House and Senate leaders refused to send him a clean bill.


As we have mentioned before, S. 397 imposes a mandatory "gun tax" by
forcing every gun buyer to purchase a trigger lock and takes us to
the verge of mandatory trigger lock usage.

The bill provides immunity (from lawsuits) for those who use trigger
locks, but there is no such immunity for gun owners who keep a
firearm available for self-defense WITHOUT a trigger lock.

The push towards trigger locks may very well follow the push for
mandatory seat belts and motorcycle helmets. And if our country ever
takes that next step -- and straps every gun owner with
California-style lock-up-your-safety legislation -- then we will need
to remember this day as the day that laid the foundation.

Mary Carpenter certainly will. She is the grandmother who has had to
live with the fact that two of her grandchildren were killed in 2000,
because no one in the house could get to the family weapons to
protect themselves against the pitchfork wielding thug.

People in the home had been trained with firearms and knew how to use
them. But the guns were locked up in compliance with California
state law. Gun owners can go to
on the GOA website to view the public safety ad -- produced by Gun
Owners Foundation -- which features Mary Carpenter and her tragic

Another amendment which passed as part of S. 397 would give impetus
to adopting a "penetration standard" for armor piercing bullets by
commissioning a Justice Department study of the issue. If a
"penetration standard" were adopted, a gun-adverse administration
could probably use it to ban virtually all ammunition.

The Senate passed its gun control-laden version as Congress was
getting ready to go out for their summer recess. At that time, Rep.
Marilyn Musgrave's office had promised to mobilize pro-gun members in
the House to oppose the Senate version, by asking them to join her in
approaching the leadership in favor of H.R. 800. A Musgrave-led
effort such as this would have made it much more likely that the
House bill would have been considered. Unfortunately, Rep. Musgrave
decided to do nothing, and the voices that were demanding S.397 --
gun locks and all -- carried the day.

You can see how your Representative voted by going to on the House of Representative's


GOA is glad that Congress has passed legislation that is intended to
stop predatory law suits designed to destroy the gun industry. That
much is very good, and GOA supports that 100%. GOA hopes that the law accomplishes what its sponsors intended.

Also, GOA would be remiss if we failed to mention that there is at
least one "silver lining" in this entire ordeal. Don't forget that
your hard work KILLED the Feinstein semi-auto ban this past summer.

Remember several months ago when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wanted
to offer a renewal of the semi-auto ban to S. 397? Gun Owners of
America asked Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to use whatever means
possible to block her anti-gun amendments.

Well, that request fell upon deaf ears. So we asked you to lobby
him, since his office had been incorrectly asserting this strategy
couldn't be done. (Some in his staff were even claiming there was no
Senate rule allowing the majority party to block bad amendments.)

But after GOA members and activists like you applied the heat, Frist
took another look. He then used parliamentary rules to "fill the
amendment tree," which is exactly what we asked him to do. "Filling
the amendment tree" is a technical term which explains how the
majority party can offer amendments in such a way as to block the
minority party from offering other amendments.

Democrats were beside themselves. On the floor of the Senate, Harry
Reid (D-NV) complained about the strategy Frist had employed:

"I have nothing in my memory that [Sen. Frist] has ever done this
before; that is, immediately going to a bill and FILLING THE TREE SO
NO OTHER AMENDMENTS CAN BE OFFERED. [Emphasis added.] I have never,
ever known him to do this. It is so unusual. It is not in keeping
with how he has done business here during his tenure as majority
leader. While filling the tree is within the rules, it is done very
rarely. And again, I am surprised that Senator Frist did this."
(Congressional Record, July 27, 2005, pp. S9104-5)

You guys achieved this significant victory! You guys were
responsible for making the sure the Feinstein ban was never offered
on the floor of the Senate. You guys deserve the credit.

It was just so unfortunate that, after achieving this great victory,
Frist blinked. He could have blocked EVERY SINGLE anti-gun
amendment, but he allowed two to be offered, namely, the trigger lock
amendment and the armor-piercing study.

So take heart... your hard work did accomplish much. You convinced
Frist to block Feinstein's ban in the first place. And that was no
small undertaking.


Some have faulted GOA for remaining "no compromise" throughout this
battle. They claim that by sticking to our guns, we were endangering
the chance to pass this legislation that might have the effect of
protecting gun makers.

First, please realize that this underestimates YOUR collective power.
This ignores the power of the grassroots. Remember, GOA was also
told that blocking the Feinstein ban couldn't be done through
parliamentary procedures. But together, we convinced the Senate
Majority Leader to think differently, and we accomplished a
tremendous feat together. Don't ever underestimate the strength of
the gun rights community working together as one!

Second, as a pragmatic matter, the desire to compromise ignores one
simple fact: we could have EASILY won this battle to pass a clean
bill! Consider:

* A filibuster-proof majority of Senators had cosponsored S. 397

* A super majority of Representatives had cosponsored H.R. 800 -- a
bill which contained NO TRIGGER LOCKS in it.

* The President had said he would sign a bill, even if it had NO

Add to this the fact that the bills passed both houses of Congress by
HUGE majorities (65-31 in the Senate, and 283-144 in the House).

So why couldn't we insist on a bill that had no trigger locks? What
was the problem? Why couldn’t we stare down the anti-gunners and
just say, "We're going to pass a clean bill because you don't have
the votes to stop us."

Winston Churchill once said that, "If you will not fight for right
when you can easily win without blood shed, if you will not fight
when your victory is sure and not too costly, you may come to the
moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and
only a precarious chance of survival."

Early on, we had the upper hand. GOA was insisting on a clean bill.
Why do some think that was too much to ask?

The answer is quite simply this: the spirit of Neville Chamberlain
lives on, from one generation to the next. Some people just always
seem to have the desire to placate the other side, even when they've
got the muscle to get things done right.

Winston Churchill didn't buy it, and neither should we. Speaking to
the failings of appeasement, Churchill said, "An appeaser is one who
feeds a crocodile -- hoping it will eat him last."

Well, at GOA, we don't appease. We prefer to shoot the crocodile.

Again, thanks to all of you who worked so hard and stood with us.
Your efforts have not been in vain.



"Actually, the organization that does a better job of [keeping me
informed] is Gun Owners of America. I'm on their mailing list, and
we know when something pops up and we're informed as to what's going
on so we can write our emails and make phone calls to our respective
representatives." -- C-SPAN caller from Pensacola, Florida (October
20, 2005)

We are always glad when we hear our members say they find our alerts
worthwhile. GOA is here to keep you informed. And so, if you've
never officially joined GOA, please consider becoming a member by
signing up at or call

You can become a GOA member and help protect the Second Amendment
with a contribution of $20 a year -- or a mere 5 cents a day!
I'll follow up with posts from The Firearms Coalition, NRA-ILA, and CCRKBA.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Been awhile

I hadn't realized that it's been so long since my last post. Here's an update.

Saturday I hauled Gondor over to my parents' house and set it up for them. Aside from cleaning off all of Judith's files, I installed the hard drive from their old PC as D:\, thereby moving over their files. I setup D:\ as their data drive, leaving C:\ for Windows and their apps.

Other hardware I migrated over from their old PC included 2 Inland USB 2.0 PCI adapter cards, giving them 6 USB ports, and a 256 meg DIMM, bumping the box up to 768 megs of RAM total.

Since Gondor is built around commodity parts, e.g., standard ATX format mobo, 3.5" IDE disks, etc., it'll be easy for me to upgrade it when the time comes. But given my folks' needs, I suspect the old box will server them well for a few more years.

I tried to setup my old Linksys NAT router as a firewall for them, but something must've happened to it while it sat in my office for the past year or so. It didn't want to talk to the 3Com NIC in Gondor, so I trashed it. I have one more spare router to try, otherwise I'll have them pick up a new Netgear.

Saturday night Judith and I went out to the Lucky Dog Saloon in Whitemarsh for dinner, sans kids. My MIL volunteered to babysit and we took advantage. The ribs at the Lucky Dog are outstanding. I tried a pint of Arrogant Bastard Ale while we were waiting to be seated, but I found it too hoppy for my taste. The Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout I had with dinner, on the other hand, was outstanding.

Much of yesterday afternoon was wasted while I twiddle my thumbs, waiting for Pep Boys to install a new battery in my truck. Starting the Expedtion yesterday morning, it sounded like it was having a hard time turning over. Later, when I went to Pep Boys, it barely started. Apparently the battery was leaking around the negative terminal. So, for $79 I got a new Energizer with a 24 month free replacement warranty installed. The truck starts right up now.

This morning at work I tried yet another config on the SMC switches in my lab. I'm trying to get SMC's "private VLAN" feature working but as soon as I activate it, I lose IP connectivity to the box. I'm working with SMC on this but beginning to lose patience.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A lazy day

I'm having a lazy day today. We're getting the dregs of Tropical Storm Tammy so it's expected to rain all day, and I don't feel like doing anything especially productive.

Last night my MIL took the girls so that Judith and I could rearrange the computers. We decided to have her start using Bagend and move her computer desk into my office, which gives us a lot more room in our den. I felt this was feasible since most of my home computing is done on my iBook with my feet propped up in the living room, and she uses my old Compaq laptop from be a lot. Before agreeing to this, I made it clear that the amount of girly foo foo shit that she had on the desk when it was in the den was going to be severely limited after the move. I want to control the decor in one room of the house.

First, I created a separate user account for her on Bagend, then move her data and bookmarks over from Gondor.

After that, I cleaned out a lot of stuff from my office and moved my old, smaller computer desk and a book case out of the way. We then put her desk in, along with some of her stuff. The new desk has a hutch on either side, so we each have one. We're using her desk chair which is a major improvement over the old POS I was using.

My book case, which was custom built for my grandparents around 1950, got moved up to the dining room. Once I figure exactly where to put it I'll fill it up.

Since Bagend has both USB and parallel ports, I connected both my Samsung ML1710 laser printer and J.'s HP DeskJet 694C, in case we need to print something in color. I may do some rearranging so that I can connect my Epson flatbed scanner and leave it there, but may need to pick up a longer parallel cable.

I've been debating what to do with Gondor. I could use it as a test box. With a P3/733 and 512 MB of RAM it's still quite usable. But we're trying to get rid of some of the clutter, so I think I'll clean it up a bit and give it to my parents. They have a Compaq with a P3/667 and 384 MB RAM, so this'll be a noticeable improvement. I can scarf a 256 meg DIMM from their old PC and add it to Gondor, so XP will run even better for the light usage they task their PC with.

Sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

IPv6 Training

Today I was over in our Mt. Laurel, NJ office for the first of two day's worth of IPv6 training.

IPv4, what is currently used for the vast majority of IP networks, including the Internet, has a 32 bit address space. The latest projections are that with the increasing demand for IP addresses due to ever increasing Internet usage and stuff like 3G and 4G phones, the IPv4 space will be exhausted somewhere in the 2008 - 2011 time frame.

In contrast, IPv6 has a 128 bit address space, making it several orders of magnitude larger than IPv4. It also includes better built-in security and improvements in routing and automatic address configuration.

Sun Microsystems maintains some web pages with information to get you started on learning about IPv6.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A full weekend

We had a full weekend around here.

Yesterday morning I visited a client to clean up and secure one of his three PCs. I got one of them a couple of weeks ago and will probably go back to do the third in a couple of weeks.

After I got home from there, I hit Lowe's and picked up a shower curtain rod for the master bathroom, got that hung, and did a little touch up on the walls. There were a couple spots that needed to be patched after I painted and failed to remove the masking tape before the paint dried. (Duh.) I hit them with some drywall mud and now need to reprime and paint a few spots. But I got to break in the new shower. w00t!

Last night we had friends who we hadn't seen for a few years over for dinner. I barbecued boneless chicken breasts, and I have to say, I have that down pat. They were damn tasty.

This morning I visited another client who just moved and needed her home network rebuilt. While there I did the normal "fluff & buff," i.e., replaced an outdated install of Panda AV with AVG Free, installed Spybot Search & Destroy and AdAware, and an antispyware hosts file. This was on her desktop and laptop, so it took awhile.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

New-Skin Antiseptic Liquid Bandage

I had the occasion to try out some New-Skin Antiseptic Liquid Bandage tonight, after I gashed the palm of my hand while taking out the trash.

This stuff is good for relatively small cuts, especially on areas where it would be inconvenient to have a regular band aid, e.g. the palm of your hand or a finger. I've used super glue before for this sort of cut but wanted to try out the New-Skin that I had in my home first aid kit. I also wanted the antiseptic properties of the New-Skin.

After washing my hands well with soap and water and drying them, I applied the New-Skin, using the brush attached to the inside of the cap. Initial impression: HOLY CRAP THAT STINGS! I'd be reluctant to put it on a child because for about 2 or 3 minutes after putting it on, the wound hurt worse than when I gashed it. I've never noticed this when putting superglue on a cut.

After a few minutes the pain subsided and the cut is now pretty much unnoticeable unless I turn my hand over and look at it. So, I can recommend New-Skin, but with the caveat that you probably don't want to use it on a small child.

Blogroll Update

If you check out my Blogroll over on the right, you'll see that I've deleted the link to Kim DuToit's blog and replaced it with a link to The Gun Guy, who has a remarkably similar style. ;)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I scored a Coleman lantern for free

Well, not really free. I've worked at $BIG_CORP for almost 5 years, so they sent me a catalog with a bunch of stuff in it and told me to pick a gift. I need another vase or clock around the house, but they had the Coleman NorthStar battery powered lantern, model # 5359, which I selected.

It's made mostly out of plastic and while not fragile, doesn't seem as robust as the metal gas burning Colemans. The clear part around the bulb is made from polycarbonate and protected with a steel cage.

It uses 8 D-cells and a 13W flourescent tube. It has Low and High settings for the tube, plus a nightlight. Coleman claims continuous run times of 8 hours on High, 20 hours on Low, and 100 hours for the night light.

I tried it out after dark and it's pretty bright, even on low. The nightlight is ok, I supposed that if my eyes were more night-adapted it would help me from tripping over something on the way to the latrine.

This will be handy in case of a power outage. It'll light up a room and I don't need to be concerned with adequate ventilation inside or flames from candles. I'll probably pick up some lithium batteries for their long shelf life and extended run time, and stick it on the shelf until needed.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

After Katrina, Gunbattles ...

Amazing. Reuters put out a story showing civilian defensive gun use in a positive light. They even managed to not demonize AK-47s.

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - After the storm came the carjackers and burglars. Then came the gun battles and the chemical explosions that shook the restored Victorians in New Orleans' Algiers Point neighborhood.


Citizens organized armed patrols and checked on the elderly. They slept on their porches with loaded shotguns and bolted awake when intruders stumbled on the aluminum cans they had scattered on the sidewalk.


A Texas woman who runs a Web site called served as a link between those who stayed and those who had left. With her help, they stockpiled an arsenal of shotguns, derringer pistols and an old AK-47.

They were put to use the next day.

"Some looters came up and pulled a gun on the wrong group of men," said Harris, who said he did not fire a gun himself and declined to say who else was involved in the battle.


Remainer of the story here. {sarcasm} So, "assault weapons" aren't just for criminals. Who woulda thunk it? {/sarcasm}

Home Again Today

I'm home again for the second day in a row. Tuesday night I started sneezing incessantly, which was followed up with major congestion combined with a nose running like a faucet. At first I thought I definitely caught the cold from Amanda but the other possibility is that Judith brought it home from school. As a fourth grade teacher, she's exposed to a plethora of germs. She rarely gets sick but sometimes brings the germs home to pass on to me. Joy.

Yesterday I was wiped out and congested, but still managed to work a half day from home.

Today I'm tired and feeling sinus pressure, even after taking pseudophedrine.

On the bright side, the living room and dining room are finally done, except for the floor which needs some cleanup. The rooms look great. The guys remodeling our master bathroom are doing an excellent job and just as importantly, working quickly. Most of the new tile is in the shower and they should be ready for me to put a coat of primer on the walls by Sunday or Monday (I'm painting the room myself to save a few hundred bucks). If it's ready for the primer by Sunday that'll be great, because I'll be able to get it on before any of the fixtures are installed, which will be a lot easier than if I have to mask and paint around them.