Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Rally Point - Saturday 8/20/05

As seen on TFL:

Pennsylvania- The Rally Point- Saturday August 20th

Place: Water and Wings gun club.
9173 Janes Lane
East Greenville, PA 18041

Range : 50yd pistol range and 100-500yd rifle range.

Time: 9am-5pm

Admission fee: $20 admission $5 for food Your American Backyard

We have several things in the works and some interesting guests that may be attending. As of now the schedule is this:

10am-12pm, Utah CCW class.
Currently, there are twenty-five states that honor the Utah non-resident
concealed carry permit. The closest states for PA are OH, DE & VA. The
course runs two hours and includes range time. The normal course fee is
$50 but for the shoot we will discount the course for the price of
admission (course fee will be $25). If you are interested in the
course, please reserve a spot as we will need to prepare course packets
prior to the event.

Group photo

Glock Owners Workshop.
Bring your Glock. During the 90 min course we will demonstrate detailed
disassembly/reassembly. We will also discuss routine maintenance (what
little there actually is) as well as resources for Glock parts on the

We will also have a table with our holster line and JSHolsters, LLC logo
wear. For those who attend the shoot, we will offer a 15% discount on
holsters ordered through our online store for 30 days after the event.
Those who stop by our table will have a chance to enter a drawing for
free holsters and logo wear, as well as certificates for training
courses we offer.

We will also have NRA Pistol Instructors present to offer gratis
instruction for first-time shooters. New shooters are welcome.

All responsible firearms owners are welcome!

Please be accomodating to others that attend. Everyone will get range time and please share your toys!

People from all the popular gun boards will be attending.

Seeya there!!

Keep an eye out for future updates and check out for more info. Please introduce yourself when you come out.

Jamie Young
aka Soda Pop

Swedish Mora Knives

Recently I've seen on a couple of mailing lists and forums very favorable comments about the Mora knives made in Sweden. They are supposed to be good quality knives, but very inexpensive -- under $20 each. I decided I wanted to try one out, and so on Sunday night I surfed over to eKnifeworks and tried to order this one. As I tried to complete the checkout I got an error in my browser. I tried one more time and got the same database error, so I didn't think the transaction went through, especially since I never received a confirmation email. (But see below.)

Apparently striking out at eKnifeworks, I pointed my browser at Ragweed Forge, where I ordered a Mora #780 from Ragnar's Swedish Knife Catalog. Ragnar's ordering system is a secure web form, not really a shopping cart. Still, I received an email confirmation of my order within a half hour.

The #780 arrived in the mail yesterday. The haft is made of textured plastic and is comfortable for me. The carbon steel blade was lightly oiled and quite sharp, as a bare spot on my right arm will attest. :-)

Surprisingly, the Swedish Army Knife ("SWAK") from eKnifeworks arrived today. Apparently, my order did go through. I'm not upset, though, because (a) between the two knives I spent only about $30, and (b) it gives me the chance to compare a couple different model from the Frost's Mora line.

Unlike the #780, the SWAK has a stainless blade, and the plastic handle and scabbard are OD green instead of black. Aside from color, the hafts and scabbards of both knives are identical. The scabbards hold the knives pretty securely, certainly secure enough for around the home or farm. I might want something with a strap if I was carrying them in the woods, though.

While the #780 came very sharp, the SWAK came scary sharp. Like new razor sharp.

The knives are light enough that they'd make good neck knives. The blades are fairly thin, which combined with the acute grind makes them good slicers. They are pointy enough to stab with, although they certainly aren't daggers.

Today was trash day so I tested both knives a little after I got home from work. I had a couple of large cardboard boxes that needed to be cut up so they'd fit in a garbage can. The cardboard was pretty heavy and on one box was doubled up, so it made a good test medium. I normally use a Stanley utility knive with the snap-off blade for boxcutting but took the opportunity to try out the Moras.

Both knives sliced through the cardboard well, but cutting the boxes was noticeably easier with the SWAK. After the box was taken care of, I whittled an inch-thick gumwood stick into a fuzzstick, as if I wanted to start a campfire, then contiued all the way through to make a stake. I did this twice, once with each knife. Afterwards, both knives could still shave hair off my arm, although they were noticeably duller than before I started. The stainless blade on the SWAK, being harder, retained its edge better than the carbon steel blade on the #780.

After I get the chance to get both knives dull I'll post about how easy (or hard) they are to sharpen.

My initial impressions of both knives are very favorable. Each came very sharp, ready to use out of the box. Combined with what appears to be good steel and a very good price, they make good knives to have around the house or truck, and I'd feel very comfortable stepping out into the woods with either one on my belt.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Yaesu VX-5RS

I mentioned last week that I decided to get my Ham license. My copy of Now You're Talking arrived the other day and I've started studying. Obviously, the ticket isn't much use without a radio, so I did a fair bit of research at various ham sites online, including reading product reviews at

Several factors were considered when looking at radios:
  • Transmit frequency bands
  • Receive frequency bands
  • Tx and Rx audio quality
  • Ease of use
  • Ruggedness
  • Reputation for quality
  • Price
I decided to pick up a Yaesu VX-5RS from Universal Radio, who has a good reputation from what I've read online. The VX-5R has actually been discontinued but it'll still come with a warranty, and received very high user ratings. I wanted a portable unit so I can use it at home, in my truck, or out in the woods. I also wanted something that can transmit on at least two bands; this radio does three. Finally, the cost is reasonable.

Along with the radio I ordered a DC power adapter for use in my truck, and an adapter to allow me to connect an antenna with a BNC connector to the unit's SMA connector. I also ordered a small, fold-up pocket reference for the radio's features.

Today I got an email with the UPS tracking number. Hopefully, I'll get the radio next week and can at least start to listen on the Rx bands, even if I can't transmit for awhile.

Streaming video system

Reader Al S. requested some details on the streaming video system that I'm testing. I'll have to be very general. The system consists of several parts:

  • A *NIXish server running a custom app which provides the end users with a portal that they can order videos.
  • A managed 10/100 switch with a Gig-E uplink.
  • A server running a *NIX-like OS with a ton of RAID-5 disk space, on which the videos are stored and streamed from. This box has a 10/100 port for management and a Gig-E port through which the videos are streamed.
  • Set top boxes which connect to the TV, and which also have an Ethernet port, where the videos are received. The STBs convert the MPEG-2 video streams from IP data to something TV-compatible.
I'm in the midst of testing the system against our in-room Internet access product we sell to hotels. We need to see how both the video and Internet systems work when large amounts of IP video are sent across our existing setups.

We got everything racked and configured on Wednesday over in Moorestown. Yesterday, I started testing the system against our SMC Ethernet switches. I made good progress but it was slow going. I want to have an STB connected to each port on the SMC, but before I can start a video stream, I need to flash the firmware in the STB. This uses TFTP, gettng the new firmware from the portal server, and takes about 15 minutes per box for it to download and apply the firmware, then reboot. This is taking longer than I'd hoped.

I'd planned to return today to finish the SMC part of my eval, but Judith came down with some kind of respiratory infection so I had to stay home with the kids, who aren't in daycare during the summer. I'll go back Monday.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Still here

Yup, I'm still here. I've been busy at and after work for the last week.

My biggest headache this week has been making arrangements to have a big pile of streaming video gear sent over to Moorestown so that I can do interoperability testing with our hospitality Internet access product. I'd hoped to do the testing here in Philly, but the rack of video equipment draws about 15 amps when powered up, and our lab's AC power is maxed out.

Outside of work, something I've been looking at for awhile is getting my ham license. Although I don't know a lot about radio, it's always been somewhat interesting to me. Besides, I don't have enough expensive geeky hobbies. :-) So, today I ordered a copy of Now You're Talking from Amazon, and should get it next week. This seems to be the most popular book for ham newbies. I'm going to get my no-code Technician's Class license first, and go for a General Class if I really get into it.

As a side benefit, the RF knowledge gained from getting my ham license may be beneficial in dealing with CATV RF issues at work.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

AR-15 & Hakko Scope Range Report

Last month I mounted a Hakko 4x21mm scope to the carry handle of my Colt AR-15A3. Today I was able to sneak out for an hour and a half to the range to try it for the first time.

My results were a bit frustrating. I got to the range only an hour and a half before closing time so I didn't really have enough time to troubleshoot why I couldn't get the windage correct. I placed my target at 50 yards, and with a center hold on a 100 yard smallbore target, my group was about 3" low near the left edge of the paper.

I think that out of frustration I cranked it over to the right too much and now my groups are off the right edge of the paper. I decided that until I can get to the range again with a larger target backer, I'd just be wasting ammo to continue trying to zero the scope. So, I took it off and shot the rest of the afternoon with irons.

Although the carry handle scope is mounted rather high, I can get a consistent weld on the stock using my chin, rather than my cheek.

I had better luck with the Wolff spring I put into one of my 20 round Colt mags. I have three old Colt magazines, the style with the aluminum followers. The springs in them seem a bit weak, so I got a 3-pack of Wolff extra power mag springs. I replaced one and was concerned that because it differed somewhat from the GI springs that function wouldn't be 100%. But based on today's outing it seems OK.

The Colt digested ~90-100 rounds today; 40 rounds of Federal/LC XM-193 Ball, the remainder Ultramax .223 Remington 55 grain FMJBT reloads. The XM-193 is noticeably hotter than the Ultramax, but the rifle functioned perfectly with both loads.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Islamists strike again

In case you've been living under a rock, a series of bombings -- almost certainly perpetrated by Muslim extremists -- swept through London this morning. As of 1500 EST, the death toll is at least 30, with hundreds more wounded. The terrorists might want to ponder the following:

It was not part of their blood, It came to them very late
With long arrears to make good, When the English began to hate.

They were not easily moved, They were icy-willing to wait
Till every count should be proved, Ere the English began to hate.

Their voices were even and low, Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show, When the English began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd, It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud, When the English began to hate.

It was not suddenly bred, It will not switftly abate,
Through the chill years ahead, When Time shall count from the date
That the English began to hate.

- Rudyard Kipling, The Beginnings, 1914.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Happy Birthday Amanda!

Amanda turns one year old today. Happy birthday little girl!


Friday, July 01, 2005

Busy, busy

I've been otherwise preoccupied and haven't had much time for blogging lately. Let's see, I've been ...

  • getting caught up with miscellaneous stuff after being out in L.A. last week
  • playing with my kids
  • meeting with a few different vendors at work to discuss ongoing projects
  • starting new projects at work
Tomorrow I'll be heading up to New York State to help my aunt move some of my grandmother's belongings. Grandma just moved into a new assisted care facility and her stuff needs to be out of her old place. So, blogging will continue to be light.

SCOTUS Justice O'Connor Retiring

Moderate conservative Sandra Day O'Connor is retiring from her post as a justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. It'll be interesting to see who Bush appoints to replace her, and if the Republicans will grow a pair and push her replacement's nomination through the Senate against the inevitable Democrat stonewalling.

I nominate Judge Alexander Kozinski of the 9th Circuit to fill O'Connor's seat. I've read selections from a couple of his opinions and they impressed me as very erudite. Hopefully, we won't end up with another David Souter.