Monday, January 31, 2005

One result of dumbed-down education

This should scare you:
One in three U.S. high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them, according to a survey being released today.

The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get "government approval" of stories before publishing; 51% say they should be able to publish freely; 13% have no opinion.

Asked whether the press enjoys "too much freedom," not enough or about the right amount, 32% say "too much," and 37% say it has the right amount. Ten percent say it has too little.

The survey of First Amendment rights was commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and conducted last spring by the University of Connecticut. It also questioned 327 principals and 7,889 teachers.

That's appalling, but I suppose it shouldn't be surprizing. Civics education has been downplayed for decades in the US and the results are coming home to roost. Instead of being taught about the Constitution and Bill of Rights, kids these days are subjected to indoctrination about diversity and self-esteem. I was graduated from high school in 1986 and remember how Voter Preparation was regarded as a blow-off class.

One has to wonder if this isn't intended. The state-run schools are producing graduates who are increasingly eager to turn over to the state their freedoms.

It sure is frustrating, especially since I have two little ones at home.

(Thanks for GeekWithA45 for the pointer.)

Friday, January 28, 2005

Lab day

I spent most of this morning in our lab with my boss, getting more familiar with the Blonder-Tongue Megaport equipment we use to deliver Internet access to hotel rooms. It's pretty neat stuff, allowing us to bring in Internet access using one of our cable modems, then make it accessible from each room over existing CATV wiring. In essence, it's like setting up a small-scale CMTS and cable modem system within the hotel.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Things have been a bit slow, hence the lack of extensive updates. Here's a roundup of what I've been up to:

Tuesday was a half day for me. Judith was taking a professional education course so I needed to be available to pick up the kids from daycare. It was nice being to spend more time than usual with them. Nothing is as cool as walking into a room, having Alexandra notice me, then have her run up to me screaming "Daddy!"

Yesterday I had a meeting with one of the vendors who handles our outsourced email. We want to consolidate with a single vendor, and naturally they want to be it. After the meeting I got a chance to review our existing contract with them. If nothing else, they have better attorneys than our other vendor, who's proposed contract looks like hell.

Gmail was acting up a bit yesterday afternoon. I wasn't able to login to it using Firefox on either of two PCs on two separate networks. IE worked OK, though. Wierd. It seems to be back to normal, now.

BTW, I have 5 Gmail invites. If you want one email me at davemarkowitz at

Last night I got home and had to immediately run out to get prescriptions filled for both kids. Alexandra has a sinus infection, while Amanda has an ear infection. Both are now on Augmentin. In light of this, I am pretty sure that Amanda will get tubes in her ears, like Alexandra. After taking care of that and making myself a sandwhich for dinner (neither Judith nor I felt like coooking), I flopped down in the living room with my iBook to do some surfing.

This morning I installed Ping Plotter and Multiping, both from Nessoft, onto my test laptop. I'm sure they'll come in useful at some point.

I continue to work my way through Jonathan Hassell's book RADIUS. It's not long, but it isn't light reading. It is well-written and I do recommend it for an overview of the protocol.

There's a new version of Trillian out, which I installed on my test laptop under XP today. I hadn't used Trillian in awhile. So far it works quite well, and feels more like a Windows app than does GAIM. I think I'll stick with it for now. Kopete remains my preferred IM client when running Linux.

Finally, I subscribed to the MacAttorney mailing list. I still retain some interest in the practice of law and should I resume it, I'm leaning in the direction of using my iBook. The mailing list will help me get up to speed on what Macintosh apps are out there suitable for using in a law firm.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Seen today online

"In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal."

Keeping it up

Not that, you pervert. I logged into my mail/fileserver this morning and ran uptime. Here's the results:
Welcome to the Mitel Networks SME Server.
bash-2.05$ uptime
11:21am up 366 days, 15:22, 1 user, load average: 0.08, 0.02, 0.01
Now that I can say it's been online for a year+ without a reboot, I can get serious about migrating off the e-Smith platform.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

A Day on the Border in California

If you're an American concerned with national security in general and the situation along our border with Mexico, this will piss you off:
Three of us volunteers captured 40 (FORTY) of them (illegal aliens -- Dave) in the past day (Jan 21 to 22, 2005) on this one mile wide property. The volunteers only come once in a while to help the rancher. The rest of the time, his ranch is a wide open path into the USA, not much different from any other mile of border. If they make it 1-2 miles inland, there are lots of houses/shacks/trailers which are "pick up sites." There are only a few Border Patrolmen to cover each 20 mile sector of the actual border, which is only a token effort, just minor window dressing, to show the sheeple that "Uncle Sam is on the job." They basically don't catch anybody, maybe 2% of the crossers by actual truthful and frank (not official PR) Border Patrolmen's estimates. Anyone they catch in this sector is by pure blind luck, or they are the ones which private citizens stop, hold and call in, and they pick up and count as captures. This 2% true catch rate is meaningless, since the illegals just get taken to the border, and cross again tomorrow or the day after, with a fresh 98% chance of success. Pretty pitiful, huh?

Note: "Travis McGee" is the THR username of Matthew Bracken, author of the excellent novel Enemies Foreign and Domestic.

Snow day

We got dumped on good yesterday and this morning, about a foot total. Not much compared with a lot of other places in the country but that's a good snowfall for SE Pennsylvania. So I finally got to use the Troybilt snowblower I got before Thanksgiving.

It works great and beats the heck out of shovelling. After cleaning my driveway and sidewalks I took care of my neighbor, a widow who lives alone and who appreciated the help. I'm glad I got a two stage unit. Even so, the bottom of my driveway was plowed in and it required multiple passes in each spot to clear.

The temp was in the teens with a good wind, so the wind chill factor was in the low single digits. It made me glad that I'm sporting a beard now. My face never got cold. :-)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Firefox bookmarks sync extension

Now this is seriously cool. It's a Firefox extension which allows you to sync your bookmarks across multiple computers. You need an FTP or WebDAV server to store an XML file of your bookmarks, but then it's quite easy to use. It's also a great way to have an offsite backup of your bookmarks.


Last night I spent some time playing around with Camino 0.8.2,'s web browser for Mac OS-X. Of course, since the full Mozilla suite and Firefox are available for Mac, one might wonder why there's yet another Gecko-based project for this platform.

The difference with Camino is that is uses the Cocoa user interface, so it looks like other apps written for Aqua, Mac OS-X's GUI. It fits in better with the Mac desktop aesthetically.

I used it for about 45 minutes or so last night on my iBook and Camino appears to be a competent browser. It has tabbed browsing and a built in popup blocker, like Firefox. Pages rendered similarly to those viewed in Firefox, although items like drop down boxes had the Aqua widget look.

Unfortunately, Camino seems to lack the customizability of Firefox. I didn't see any way to install extensions, which is a killer feature in Firefox. For example, I really like the Adblock extension which allows me to filter out a lot of crap. Hopefully, this is a feature that will make its way into Camino in the future.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

What a day

The site survey I went on yesterday was educational. My background is on the Ethernet and fiber side of things. The survey, on the other hand, was basically a walk-through of the RF (CATV) installation at the hotel, in order to gather data on how to design a proper MDU Internet solution, using the existing CATV wiring to feed Internet access to each hotel room.

That took about three hours and we finished by 1310. By that time a minor snowstorm was moving into the Philadelphia area. I ran into it on the way home while still in Eastern NJ. Unfortunately, as soon as the first snowflake falls around here half the people turn into total morons.

Once I hit Route 42 outside of Philly traffic slowed to a crawl. I saw several cars and trucks pointing the wrong way by the side of the road. It took me until about 1745 to get home, by which time I was completely fried.

The weather liars are calling for a real snowstorm this weekend, starting Saturday afternoon and running into Sunday. They're calling for anywhere between 4 inches and a foot of snow, so it looks like it's finally time to go get some gas for the snowblower. Yeah!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

It'll be slow today

I'm going on a site survey for our hospitality product at a hotel in Beach Haven, NJ, so there won't be much of interest until tonight at best.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


OK, not the line from The Graduate, but can one of my readers recommend a source for Lexan sheets? I have a window next to one of the doors in my home that I want to put a sheet of Lexan about 1" behind, for improved insulation and security. The piece of Lexan will need to be about 11" wide by 79" long.


Neal Knox Passed Away 1/17/05

Posted by Jeff Knox on THR


A Message from Neal
Dad wrote this message to the troops after the doctors gave up on him. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated so rapidly that it didn't get sent out. Mom has attached comments as well.

A memorial service will be held this Thursday at the Manassas Church of Christ at 10:30. Details available at


From the Desk of
Neal Knox

The Firearms Coalition
PO Box 3313
Manassas, VA 20108

Dear Friends,

I’ve always made it a point to deliver the news to you straight – good or bad. Now I’m afraid I have some unpleasant news. As you’re aware, I have been fighting colon cancer for the past year. The doctors tell me that my fight is almost over.

I believe in miracles. I believe in God’s healing power and eternal life through Jesus Christ. I know it will take nothing short of a miracle for me to win this battle.

Should that miracle be granted, I will rejoice; but I rejoice nonetheless, for I’ve been blessed with a wonderful life, a great family, work that I love, and many wonderful friends. Most of all, I thank God for my long-suffering wife Jay Janen who not only put up with me, but has actively supported my efforts for the Second Amendment for nearly forty-nine years.

It’s been a great run!

I had always assumed that long life was my birthright. My father passed away just this past fall at the age of ninety-two.

I counted on the same sort of life-span and was planning accordingly. We’ve barely settled into that house in the country that I’ve been promising Jay for so long. I started rebuilding her classic Mustang convertible and have it in pieces in the basement garage. I’ve laid out a 100- yard range next to the house, and was looking forward to having my dear friend Ken Oehler help me set up a ballistics lab in the basement.

Time for those projects was budgeted into the next generation of the Firearms Coalition. The plan was to have sons, Chris and Jeff, take more prominent roles in the fight, freeing me up to do other things like shooting and writing books. Jeff moved out here for that purpose over a year ago but my illness sidetracked those plans.

I have long wanted to evolve the Firearms Coalition into a resource for grassroots activists and organizations. The goals of the Coalition would be to provide activists with the resources, training, and technology they need to be more effective in the fight.

Now, I hope you will help Jay and the boys as it looks like they will be taking on this important task without me.

There will be more details in the weeks and months to come, including a new book that Chris, Jeff and I have been collaborating on. I regret that I am unlikely to see it in print, but I am confident in their ability to see it through.

I am thankful for you and the many other friends that have blessed my life making me a truly wealthy man. There have been disagreements, even fights, but the goal of freedom has been a unifying force.

I ask your prayers, both for me and for my family, especially for Jay who never expected to see me go first.

I urge you to continue the fight. Continue your support of the ongoing efforts of the Firearms Coalition and keep the grass roots growing.

Thank you for keeping me in the fight for all these years.

As always: Yours for the Second Amendment,



Neal passed away early this morning, January 17. He was surrounded by our children and his brothers and went quickly without pain.

A memorial service has been scheduled for Thursday, January 20, at the Manassas Church of Christ, 8110 Signal Hill Road in Manassas, Virginia. The service will begin at 10:30 AM with a luncheon to follow.

It was Neal’s wish that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Firearms Coalition or to Rainbow Children’s Home in Gainesville, VA.

Neal’s condition deteriorated so rapidly that there wasn’t time to get the above- letter out before his death. He very much wanted to let you, as a faithful friend, know what was going on. We will post more information on the web site,

I can’t tell you how much Neal has loved the difficult work to which he has dedicated his life. It has cost us much while at the same time being extremely rewarding in so many ways. The greatest reward has been the love and friendship that we have found along the way. You’re an important part of that.

Thank you so much,

Jay Jannen Knox

Monday, January 17, 2005

Neal Knox in ill health

This was posted on 1/14/05 by Tom Gresham ("Guntalk") over on THR:

Many of you know or know of Neal Knox, who has been a tireless fighter for the Second Amendment for more than three decades. Today I received this from Jeff, his son.



You probably know that Dad has been fighting cancer
for the past year... He's taken a serious turn for the

At this point, the doctors have given up and sent him
home with hospice care. We're doing what we can but
mainly it's controlling the pain and praying. Unless
God decides that He has more for him to do here, the
end could come any time.

I wanted you to know.

You're welcome to let people know about this and
prayers are encouraged.


Tom Gresham, Host
Tom Gresham's Gun Talk radio show
This is truly sad news. During the last three decades, Neal Knox fought more than any other one person for our Second Amendment rights. I got the chance to meet him and shake his hand at the 1998 NRA Convention, shortly after the "Winning Team" disgracefully refused to let him speak.

IMO, the best way we can honor Neal Knox's memory is to be as vigilant in the defense of our RKBA as he was.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Ruger Police Service Six Range Report

Last night I finally got to shoot the Ruger Police Service Six that I picked up cheap last Fall. This is a stainless steel revolver chambered for .357 Magnum, with a 4" barrel, and fixed sights. It wears a set of Pachymar Presentation grips. It was probably a police trade-in.

The Security/Service/Speed Sixes were Ruger's first generation of double action revolvers, replaced by the GP-100. The Sixes are roughly comparable to a S&W K-Frame, but a little beefier. With a lot of use, they can develop smooth actions, but by and large a K-Frame will have a better trigger pull.

I put 132 rounds of Winchester white box 150 grain LRN .38 Specials through the Ruger, while my dad ran 18 of his .38 Special handloads which push a 148 grain cast wadcutter at around 850 FPS through it. (We shot at the Lower Providence Rod & Gun Club's indoor range, which doesn't allow magnums.)

All shots were fired double action. As one would expect the Ruger functioned perfectly. Accuracy was OK with the Winchesters but I found it hard to shoot one-hole groups at 7 yards. In contrast, when I shot my dad's S&W Model 10 with the same ammo, I got one ragged hole. It could be the ammo, but it may also be the Ruger's trigger, which while pretty decent isn't as good as a broken-in K-frame like Dad's Model 10. I found that shooting the Ruger well required a lot more concentration than the Model 10.

That said, the Ruger exhibited accuracy more than sufficient for its intended use -- as a sidearm for policemen. Likewise, it would do just fine as a self defense piece for Joe Citizen. It will be interesting to see how well it can shoot with different ammo, though.

As a stainless gun, cleanup was a snap. I ran a BoreSnake with FP10 on it through the barrel a couple of times, and then once through each chamber. I then wiped down the Ruger's outside, including the frame recesss, with a patch wet with FP10, then stuck it in a pistol rug. I repeated the exterior wipedown this morning, following up with a dry paper towel to get rid of the excess FP10.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Mac Mini

Unlike RBT, when I saw the Mac Mini and was impressed. Yes, expandability is limited. Yes, the specs don't "wow" me. Yes, you can get an equivalent PC cheaper. But, this is the cheapest way to get a box that will run Mac OS-X.

Let's say you get a cheap PC with Windows. It still needs an antivirus program, multiple antispyware apps, and a lot of ongoing maintenance to ensure it doesn't get rooted by viruses, trojans, and other assorted crap out there. And while Linux has made huge strides in usability (in many ways it's better than Windows), many specialized commericial apps won't run on it but are available for Mac. Also, Linux printing often remains a real bitch and a half to get running.

A Mac Mini, on the other hand, basically allows you to unbox the unit, hook everything up, and it all just works. The form factor of the Mini gives greater flexibility in where you stuff it, and compared with an eMac or iMac, you won't be tossing a perfectly good display when you replace the box in a few years. For a power user a Mini Mac isn't the right solution but as a second computer or a computer for a kid's room it looks like it would do nicely.


Shortly after I transferred into my current position I sent out requests for info to various vendors of content filtering, domain registration, and web hosting serivces. I did so either by sending an email to an address given on the respective vendors' web site, or by filling out an online "contact me" form.

The other day I got into work and there was a message in my inbox which just floored me. It was a reply to an online RFI form that I filled out on 7/27/04. This vendor replied to me nearly six months after I clicked the submit button on his website. I was just floored. How clueless can you be?

One of my coworkers had a great idea. I should save his email and reply to this moron sometime in June or July.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Multiple updates to The Shooters Bar(SM)

While home, I took advantage of the time to post multiple updates to The Shooters Bar(SM), my list of pro-RKBA attorneys.

Additionally, I've started a Yahoo! Groups mailing list for TSB. To subscribe visit

Blecchhh Part 2

I made it into work this morning but only lasted until about 1130. I hate head colds.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


Between a nasty head cold and Amanda waking up at 0330 this morning, I didn't get much sleep last night. So, I called in sick and spent most of the day sitting in front of Bagend reading THR and

I did get to install the new Eagle rosewood grip panels on my Springfield M1911 which I got from Cabela's. The Pachymar rubber grips which the gun came with were functional, but oogly. The Eagle grips needed a little fitting, for which I used my Dremel with a sanding drum set on 1,000 RPM. One of these days I'll post a pic, since the Springer much nicer looking now.

Along with the 1911 grips, I also got an Otis "Tactical" (I hate that marketing term) cleaning kit. It's a pretty neat concept. Instead of a rigid cleaning rod, it's basically a pull-through system using nylon-coated stainless steel cables. You can attach to the pull-through a slotted tip to hold Otis's special cleaning patches , or a bore brush. The cable is rigid enough to be used for clearing obstructions from the bore, something you can't do with a BoreSnake. I don't view the Otis kit as a replacement for a proper cleaning rod, but it's a good kit for field use.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


You may have noticed the beginnings of a Blogroll down on the right. I'll add more as time permits.

Meanwhile, any reciprocal links are of course most welcome.

PC install

This morning I went down to a client's office in Wynnewood to install two PCs he picked up during the week. This is the same client I visited last Monday.

The PCs are HP Pavilions running XP Home. Yeah, they're consumer-grade but he's had very good luck with Pavillions in his small office for several years. The new boxes have P4/3GHz CPUs, 512 MB of RAM, a DVD+RW and CD-ROM drives, and 200 GB hard disks. He got them for about $800 each.

After he physically installed them, I got them on the LAN, removed a lot of the crap HP loads on the hard disks, and installed stuff like MS Office, antispyware apps, and created limited user accounts for the two girls working for him.

I also setup a Maxtor One-Touch 200 GB USB hard drive on one of his existing PCs. It's going to be used for offsite backups of the data on his e-Smith 5.5 Linux fileserver. For backup software we're using SyncBack, a nifty, free program I found last year and which I have running every night at another client.

A couple of the PCs needed updated to their antivirus software as well as Windows, so after taking care of that I automated much of that with the AVG and Windows Update schedulers.

While we worked, I mentioned to my client -- who's company does commerical property management -- that along with a partner I do network cabling. So he may be able to use us for jobs on sites he's renovating. A few cabling jobs each year the size of the one we did last Fall would be a nice supplement.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Had my lawyer hat on

One of the projects I'm involved with at work is reviewing the contract to renew our outsourced email service. Although my boss asked me to review the contract from a business standpoint, it's be wasteful to ignore my legal background. So, yesterday afternoon and this morning I put on my lawyer hat.

We are getting closer to an acceptable contract, but let me tell you, this thing started out as a real POS. I know that had I drafted such a contract back when I was practicing law, my boss would've torn me a new one. For example, the section of the contract dealing with material breach was some of the worst, unintelligible legalese I've had the misfortune to read. It was a paragraph consisting of two or three run-on sentences which ran for about a third of a page. Ugh. So, I broke it down into a couple of subsections and used sentences which wouldn't have resulted in a big red "F" in 10th grade English class.

Hard work, but actually pretty interesting.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I'm being quoted

After asking me if it was OK and getting approval from his boss, reader Geoff Timm, who is a geek for Uncle Sam, emailed out a document to his colleagues based on my previous posts, 10 Steps for Securing Your MS Windows PC and Secure That Wireless Network. On top of my contributions, Geoff added a listing of assorted residential gateways from The general idea is to get it into the hands of end users who are experiencing problems on their home computers.

Thanks, Geoff. It's good to be recognized. I hope the piece does some good for you.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

More laptop fun

I got my new Dell D600 setup as a dual-boot XP Pro/SuSE 9.2 Pro box today. When I first tried this, YaST was able to resize the disk's single NTFS partition fine, but after creating the partitions to be used under Linux it bombed while trying to format them. It may or may not have been something I did. So, I rebooted into XP, deleted the Linux partitions, and rebooted into the SuSE installer. It was then able to create my swap and / partitions.

The rest of the installation went smoothly, including the setup of GRUB to default to SuSE, but with an option for booting Windows. (And yes, I made sure it works. XP comes right up after you select it.)

YaST pretty much automagically set things up so that I have read only access to the NTFS partition. I was able to set my home page in Firefox to my portal page saved under My Documents on the NTFS partition.

The onboard 802.11g wireless NIC was also properly recognized and after installing KWiFiManager, it's easy to setup the adapter to access different WLANs.

Based on this experience I don't hesitate to recommend SuSE 9.2 if you're looking to dip your toes in the Linux waters but aren't ready to discard Windows entirely.

New AOL IM Name

For anyone who cares, I'm now using dmarkowitz527 when I login to AOL Instant Messenger. My Yahoo! Messenger ID will remain the same at dave_markowitz.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Back to the grind

The longest vacation I've taken in years ended today. Nobody likes to return from vacaction, but today was a pretty good day.

First off, I had my annual performance review, which went quite well.

Secondly, the Dell Latitude D600 laptop which we ordered for use as a test box came in while I was on vacation. w00t! It's basically an upgrade version of my daily use machine. Same CPU (P4M @ 1.4 GHz) but with 1 GB of RAM, an 80 GB hard disk, and a DVD-ROM drive. It was supposed to have a DVD burner but our purchasing department fouled up. (We got a second, identical unit for my co-worker, and his also came with the DVD-ROM, so I don't think it's a Dell SNAFU.)

The only software that came on the Dell aside from XP Pro was WinDVD, so I spent the afternoon installing stuff like antivirus, antispyware, IM clients, Ethereal, and various other utilities. Since I'll eventually need something on the box for taking notes, I decided to give Abiword a try, since it's so lightweight. I've putzed around a little bit with it on Linux, but not in quite some time. I'll probably load it onto Bagend at home.

I'll add some more stuff on the Dell tomorrow, as well as turning into a dual boot machine with SuSE 9.2 Pro.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Countries I've visited

Found this morning via a link from Ramble On!, Dave T.'s blog, is a site (link below) which will make a map showing which countries you've visited. Pretty neat. Here's where I've been:

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Edited to correct the link to Dave T.'s blog.

Updates to The Shooter's Bar(SM)

Today is a company holiday, so I get one more day for my vacation. Back to the grind tomorrow.

This morning I added J. Michael McCormick of PA to The Shooter's Bar(SM). I currently have close to 40 pro-gun rights attorneys listed on TSB. It's one of the (possibly the) biggest online lists of pro-gun lawyers, but I'm always looking to add more.

While I had Mozilla Composer open, I also did some long overdue cleanup of the index page for my Shooting & RKBA pages, as well as the home page.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A rodent for the iBook

I shot down to Microcenter this afternoon and picked up a Logitech optical mouse to use with my iBook. It didn't come with a mouse, and I don't care for Apple's one button mice, so I got another Logitech. There are a couple reasons I don't like Apple mice: they're only one button and they don't have a scroll wheel.

I've always had very good luck with their mice, this is probably the fourth or fifth one I've bought. None has ever worn out, I've just moved on to newer and better models every few years.