Monday, February 28, 2005

Yugo night sights

My dad was over last night for dinner and afterwards we checked out the new toys we picked up on Saturday. At his suggestion I lit up the night sights on my Yugo SKS to see if then they'd glow in the dark. To my surprise, this worked. I have to wonder if they really are tritium, or just glow in the dark paint.

He brought his new Colt Police Positive Special over for me to look at. It was made around 1960. The blueing is really nice and it wear a set of Pachymar Presentation ruber grips, which aren't original although they do have the Colt medallions. The gun's single action pull is OK but the double action is typical Colt: on the heavy side and it really stacks towards the end of the trigger stroke. Blecchh. How anyone could prefer one of these over a S&W K-Frame is beyond me.

One thing the PPS has going for it is that it's light. In fact, it's basically a 4" version of the Colt Detective Special 2" snubby. Unloaded weight is around 26 ounces, which would make it easy to tote. By way of contrast, a 4" K-Frame like my Model 15 is over 30 ounces unloaded.

Snow on the way

The weather wankers are calling for the Philly area to get anywhere from 6 - 12" of snow, with the festivities to start sometime this morning. Naturally, all the supermarkets have been cleaned out of bread, milk, and eggs. It also means that I'll be picking up the kids early today, because the daycare is closing at noon.

Rather than waste time commuting, I'm working from home this morning. I can check my email via Outlook Web Access, but I can't get into our VPN. I'm getting an authentication failure. I've called our IT helpdesk a few times but keep getting an "all circuits are busy" message. I'll try some more but I may not be able to resolve this until I get into the office tomorrow or Wednesday. What a PITA.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Yugoslavian SKS

I picked up a Yugoslavian M-59/66A1 SKS this afternoon for $150 OTD at Surplus City. I figured I'd better get one while they're still available cheap. It's an unissued rifle and came with the original logbook, although without a sling or cleaning kit.

The Yugo M-59 was a close copy of the Soviet SKS, the 59/66 added a grenade launcher to the muzzle along with a modified gas system, and the 59/66A1 added flip up tritium night sights. Unfortunately, my rifle is now old enough that the night sights no longer glow in the dark, although they do give me a 3 dot sight picture, which is slightly better than the blued irons in poor light.

My rifle was packed inside and out in cosmoline. I first tried some Simple Green on a paper towel to clean the stock, but the goop laughed at me. So, I got out the mineral spirits, which did a pretty good job degunking it. I immersed the bolt in mineral spirits while I worked on other parts of the gun, then took it outside and hosed it down with brake cleaner. The firing pin now rattles freely, so I don't need to worry about slamfires.

The barrel is nicely blued, while the receiver is almost a plum brown in some areas. I ran a few patches dipped in mineral spirits through the bore and it looks darn good. The last couple of patches were wet with Kroil and it's soaking overnight. I'll punch the bore again tomorrow then leave it with a light coat of FP-10 or ATF. Yugo SKSes do not have chrome plated bores, unlike virtually all other SKSes you can buy, so you need to oil them or they'll rust.

I believe that the wood is beech; it's in great shape. From what I've read cosmoline will continue to seep from the stock especially after the rifle gets warm. Once the weather gets warmer, I may wrap the gun in paper towels, stick it in a plastic garbage bag, then put the whole thing in my truck to bake for a day or two.

All that extra steel on the muzzle really changes the balance compared with other SKSes. A Soviet or Chinese SKS tips the scales at around 8 lbs. The Yugo is over 9 lbs. The already mild recoil of the 7.62x39 should be even tamer in this piece.

The Yugo SKS is much more nicely made than my Norinco pinned barrel SKS, although to be fair the latter is an exceptionally reliable rifle. It's just ugly. The Yugo has a much better piece of wood on it and the metal finish is far superior. From what I've read online the Yugo rifles tend to be some of the more accurate SKSes although I'll have to try it out to see how much validity there is to this.

I'll post a range report once I get a chance to shoot it.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Firefox 1.0.1 available

The Mozilla guys released a security update/bug fixes to Firefox today. Release notes here. So far I've installed it on my Dell D600 test box under SUSE. So far so good, but if I run into any issues I'll make note of them in a follow-up post.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Checking in

No post yesterday -- Amanda got her ear tubes. The operation went well and she recovered incredibly quickly. By the afternoon, it was impossible to tell she'd been under general anesthesia a few hours before. Pretty amazing for a baby who's only seven and a half months old. In contrast, when Alexandra got her tubes put in at 11 months she was cranky for the rest of the day.

We had to get up at around 0500 to be at the Childern's Hospital of Phialdelphia outpatient facility in Exton by 0645. So by the time we got home at 0900 I was pooped.

You never want to see your child go into the hospital for any reason but in this case it was the right thing to do. Amanda no longer has fluid in her ears for the first time since late November. I'm just glad it's over and done with.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Now this is odd

Darryl H. emailed me at my Gmail account inquiring about how to manually set Windows Master Browser roles. Normally, Google posts relevant ads along the right side of the screen. E.g., when I get mail from the TechnoLawyer list ads for legal software often show up. So what does Google post when the text of the email is asking about how to set browse roles in a Windows network?

Fart machines.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Busy weekend

Yesterday I made a site visit to one of my clients to install antivirus software on their file and mailservers. The fileserver runs W2K3 SBS Edition; I loaded AVG Fileserver Edtion on it. It's set to do daily updates and scans. I went with AVG based on my experience with their free, non-commercial-use version. I've found it to provide good protection on several Windows boxes and it cause much less of a performance hit than Norton Antivirus, which has grown into a bloated pig.

The mail server, which runs SuSE and CommuniGate Pro, got ClamAV installed. For integration with CGP I'm using cgpav. Since I didn't remember to bring my SuSE 9.0 discs I had to grab the RPMs from By doing so I wasn't able to rely on YaST's dependency checking, so I first made a detour through dependency hell and had to also grab gmp to proivde a required library. Freshclam checks for updates every couple of hours, then installs them if available. Since a lot of spam is the product of various worms, I'm hoping that this will cut down on the amount of junk mail they get.

While onsite I also looked at a couple of their PCs. They use Outlook Express (blecch) and Norton Antispam. The latter is causing an odd error the first time OE is started. If they try to right-click on an email to view it's properties, or to move an email to a different folder, OE craps out, but only the first time you do this after booting the PC. If you go into the details provided by Dr. Watson, you see that a DLL being called by Norton Antispam is the culprit. I'm doing another site visit in March and we've already discussed giving Thunderbird a try. We'll also get Spybot Search & Destroy on all their PCs. They are rightly concerned about malware and I'm wondering if a proxy server setup to filter out a lot of the junk wouldn't be a bad idea.

Last night my MIL was kind enough to babysit while Judith and I went out to dinner. She was in the mood for steak so we went to Outback. Unfortunately, the wait was on the order of 75 - 80 minutes. Their steak isn't worth that long of a wait, so we wound up at Ichiban, a local Japanese restaurant that's pretty good. Judith was able to get her steak and I got shrimp and scallops.

Today I watched Amanda in the morning while Judith went out with Alexandra to the supermarket. After they got back I went out to Lowe's, back to the supermarket for stuff Judith forgot, and then the bank. One of the drawers in our kitchen was falling apart so I needed to buy supplies at Lowe's. While there I picked up a Black & Decker jigsaw for all of $25. It came in handy cutting the wood which I used to replace the bottom of the drawer. Yeah, it's a cheap saw but for my light occasional use, I don't need Porter Cable.

Friday, February 18, 2005

"Humanizing Gun Nuts"

Taking a look at the flip side of the gun control issue, Reason magazine has published a review of the book, Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures, by Abigail Kohn.

In Shooters, anthropologist Abigail Kohn argues that both sides of the debate have become so alienated from one another that they effectively form subcultures, and she studies them accordingly. Kohn calls Shooters an ethnography, an anthropological study conducted from within a culture to gain the “natives’ point of view.” Rather than studying gun enthusiasts though literature and statistics, or from behind a duck blind to ensure “objectivity,” Kohn spent time with enthusiasts, interviewing them, taking classes with them, and shooting with them.
The book looks promising.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

What kind of person supports gun control?

Find out here.

Not the crowd I'd want to be associated with.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Astaro Follow Up

I got permission to use a Dell Dimension P4 for testing so this morning I was able to load Astaro Secure Linux 5.1 to kick the tires. The text-mode installation went as smooth as can be, finishing in a little over 10 minutes.

The box has only one NIC so all I was able to do was explore the GUI, but so far I am very impressed. Aside from a full feature set, Astaro's interface is well-designed and pretty intuitive.

I'm going to see if I can round up a second NIC so that I can do a real test. I'm not sure if this will require a reinstall although given how easy the install is, I don't really mind if that's required.

Obviously this isn't a real review but I thought I'd share my favorable initial impression.

System Rescue CD

Knoppix is often touted as a good choice for using as a bootable rescue disc. There's nothing wrong for using it as such but a more specialized live CD is available. Strangely enough, it's called System Rescue CD. A complete list of the tools available on the CD is available on the project's home page.

One tool found on the System Rescue CD which I've used in the past is Darik's Boot and Nuke. If you select DBAN at the boot prompt, you'll boot into a very specialized live Linux system which allows you to securely erase the contents of a hard drive by overwriting it repeatedly with other data. (Merely reformatting a hard drive does not erase existing data.) DBAN is especially useful for companies or individuals decommissioning and selling off or donating old PCs. They can be booted into DBAN, the drives wiped, and then the you don't need to worry about confidential data being disclosed.

Monday, February 14, 2005

New Linux distros to try

My research of content filtering applications led me last week to Astaro Security Linux. Aside from enabling one to easily setup an x86 box as a Linux firewall, Astator offers a content filtering option which might be useful for our situation at work. It certainly bears investigating, so I downloaded the ISO for it last Friday and burned a CD. I have a box at home on which to try it, although I plan to see if I can scrounge something up at the office, too.

Today I grabbed the ISOs for Slackware 10.1 CDs 1 and 2. I first tried getting them via Bittorrent using Azureus installed on my SuSE laptop, but it kept crashing. It's possible that's because I'm behind a firewall and port 6661 isn't open. In any event that meant I needed to get it using a browser.

I was able to get the ISOs for both CDs using Firefox but I'm glad that I checked the MD5 sums before burning them to disc. Neither file was good. I went back and got them using Opera and this time the downloads were not corrupted. Interesting.

To burn the discs I used K3B, which is by far the best GUI burning app I've used on Linux. It compares favorably with Nero Burning ROM on Win32. Indeed, the developers appear to have taken cues from Nero. Since my laptop doesn't have a burner, I used an old LaCie USB CD-RW drive I found in a closet. The combination works well.

I'm not sure yet what I'm going to throw the latest version of Slackware on, but rest assured that I'll post a writeup once I do.

I'm not dead

I just haven't posted since last Wednesday.

We had a nice weekend. Saturday morning we visited with friends who just moved into a new (to them) house over in Lafayette Hill. Judith and I like it a lot -- 4 bedrooms, a den, full basement, a room they'll make into a library/study and a 2 car garage. To be candid, we're a bit envious. (A garage would be great but what I really miss not having is a basement.)

After moving into our home in 2001 neither of us thought we'd want to move again until we're ready to retire. However, we've been feeling a bit cramped in our house, especially since Amanda arrived. Due to the way the real estate market has been the past few years we've already built up considerable equity in the place. It's worth real consideration of moving into a bigger place in this area. But we won't jump into anything, that's for sure.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Followup on tax stuff

Feedback from readers Al and Paul have caused me to reconsider the Quicken/Quickbooks choice. For my needs Quicken may be enough. Since I already have it I'll check it out.

Thanks, guys.

NOD32 Antivirus

I am looking at installing NOD32 Antivirus on the SuSE/CommuniGate Pro mailserver and Windows 2K3 SBS file server at one of my clients. I'd welcome comments from anybody who's used NOD32 for a mail or fileserver.


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Tax stuff

Tonight I finished putting together the materials needed to file our 2004 income taxes. Since I do some side work I need to put my expenses and revenues into intelligible form, which I do in the form of an spreadsheet. I then print this out and give it along with all my receipts to our accountant.

What I really need to do is start using something like Quicken or QuickBooks to keep track of all this stuff. Quicken is meant for personal finances but a lot of small business use it. Still, I'd rather use something that adheres to GAAP, which means I should shell out for Quickbooks. It's a shame that I need to do that, since my iBook came with Quicken already loaded.

Anyway, Judith will be dropping off all of our stuff with our accountant next Saturday, so we should find out what sort of refund we'll be getting soon.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Saturday Night's Alright For Shooting

I'm back home enjoying a Newcastle Brown Ale after spending a couple of hours with my dad at the range. I ran 150 rounds of Winchester-USA .38 Special 150 grain LRN through my 4" S&W Model 15. This was the first time in quite awhile I shot the Model 15, which was the first decent handgun I ever bought, back in 1996.

My shooting tonight was ok, though not as good as I can do. I was having problems focusing on the front sight, which is attributable either towards fatigue, having been sick for almost a week, or being closer to 40 than 30. Anyway, I was still keeping all my shots on a paper plate from 7 yards, firing double action only, shooting rapidly.

I think I'm going to change the grips on it. It currently wears a set of Pachymar Gripper Pros. They leave the backstrap exposed and don't fit quite flush. This leaves an area with a bit of a protruding ridge which digs into my palm, which bothered me even with the mild loads I was shooting tonight. I think I'll get a set of Butler Creek rubber grips which cover the backstrap. They should make shooting the Model 15 more comfortable.

After 150 rounds, the S&W was filthy. That's ok, I don't mind a little cleaning. Lately when shooting one of my pistols I've taken to a quick wipedown and a couple passes through the bore and chambers with a BoreSnake, but I felt that the Model 15 needed a more thorough cleaning. So, I broke out the cleaning kit while Dad was still banging away and used a rod, bronze bore brush, and patches. I swabbed out the bore and chambers several times and left them wet with Hoppe's No.9. I'm going to let the gun soak overnight and run dry patches through tomorrow, then leave it with a coat of FP-10 to prevent any rust.

I also got to shoot one of Dad's Russian Nagant revolvers (he has more than one, they're cheap). This one was made in 1919 at the Tula Arsenal, then later rebuilt. To sum up my opinion of the Nagant as a military service weapon: It's a good gun for the other guy to have. While an interesting historical curiousity, it's fires an anemic round and the trigger, even in single action, sucks. With serious concentration a Nagant can actually be quite accurate, but it's not what I'd regard as being easily shootable. Honestly, I'd rather be armed with a .36 caliber Colt Navy percussion black powder revolver if I had to defend myself. I might even take a .31 Colt Baby Dragoon or Wells Fargo model. The ballistics would be aboutt as good and I'd be more confident I'd actually hit what I was aiming at.

"Women will get sterile just looking at you."

On Krautboy's blog:

Okay, I like Star Wars as much as the next person who was a child during the late 70's/early 80's, but there are some people who are just a little *too* into it. These people go to conventions. They dress up. Some better than others. I of course choose to share with you the latter group. These are all pictures from a Star Wars convention from a site my co-worker decided would be a good idea to share with me. Now, I share with you.


Thursday, February 03, 2005


Home sick again today.

Judith and I have been paying about $50/month to Verizon for telephone service, just for local and Philly Metro. (For long distance we've been using our Verizon cell phones.) Having spoken with several people who've switched to Vonage and with one exception, have been extremely satisfied, we decided to look into VOIP to save some money. (My employer is in the process of rolling out VOIP service but I was told by the local engineering manager that my area won't get it for quite some time, due to the amount of plant reconstruction that's going to be needed to support it.)

Vonage has two plans for residential customers: Basic w/500 minutes anywhere in the USA and Canada, or Premium Unlimited. Basic costs $14.99/month while Premium is $10 more. We signed up for the Basic plan on Saturday. The box with a pre-configured Linksys RTP31 VOIP router came today.

Most users would connect the Linksys to a cable or DSL modem. However, since I already have a router, and need that router to keep my static IP, I hooked it up behind my SMC8013 modem/router, leaving the WAN port to pick up its IP via DHCP. It's generally recommended to have as few hops between you and the VOIP callee, so we'll see how this works. If necessary I can reconnect my old Motorola modem and plug the Linksys into it.

I made a few test calls from the Vonage connection to my cell phone. Until we get our number switched over from Verizon we have a temporary number for receiving calls on the Vonage line. However, calls from the Vonage line show up with my home number on caller ID. Interesting. Since Verizon hasn't switched us over to Vonage, the POTS line still works as normal.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Sick again

The sinus infection I've had since Sunday had me feeling like total crap this morning so I called in sick. This sucks.

After breakfast I plopped myself in front of Bagend and did some playing around. Since I'm hadly using Mozilla Composer anymore I installed Firefox and Thunderbird. (Actually, I had them installed but they were FF PR-1 and TB 0.8. I upgraded both to 1.0.) Then I spent some time adding a few extensions to FF, namely, Forecast Fox, Adblock, and Bookmarks Sync.

I took a break from rotting my brain online :) to install the Wolff extra power springs in my two Okay-brand 30 round AR-15 mags. When I ordered them I'd intended to get new springs for my old 20 round AR-15 Colt mags, but clicked the wrong button. Since I have the two Okays I let the order stand, although I still do plan to replace the springs in the old Colt mags. Hopefully after doing so they will be reliable in my AR-180B.

While farting around with gun stuff I ran a couple patches wet with FP-10 through the bores on my AR-15 and my AR-180B, using the Otis cleaning kit I picked up last month from Cabela's. The AR-180B lacks a chromed bore and I wanted to ensure that it had a good coat of oil.

I did the AR-15 more for shits and giggles than a real need to do so, but it showed me that I could've done a better cleaning job after the last time I shot the rifle. It was by no means filthy, but it could've been cleaner. So, I broke it open and wiped down the innards with FP-10 on a patch, paying particular attention to the locking lug recesses in the receiver, and under the extractor claw on the bolt.

The Otis cleaning kit is pretty damn neat, beating the old USGI buttstock kit hands down. The only advantage the GI kit would have is in driving out a stuck bullet or maybe a stuck case. Were I headed to the sandbox, I'd definitely include an Otis M-16/M-4-specific kit with my stuff.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

More lab time

I spent another couple of hours this morning in our lab trying to test new firmware for our Blonder-Tongue Megaport Gateways and Outlets. We needed to upgrade the firmware on the outlets. To do so, you first login to the MPG using the BT management app, then select the upgrade option for the MPOs from a menu. Doing so pops up a dialog box prompting you for the file path on a TFTP server, from where it'll pull the firmware file and put it on the MPOs.

It appeared to work for one MPO but not the other. Rather than using the same app previously used to login to the MPG, to connect to an MPO to see what firmware it's running, you need to use a different program which does its communication on Layer 2. Unfortunately, I can't get that application to run on the Dell Latitude D600 I'm using. I've tried it using the onboard Broadcom Gig-E NIC, and an old 3Com PCMCIA 10/100 NIC. We also tried it on another Dell with a Broadcom Gig-E NIC, also without success. Both laptops are running XP Pro SP2, and I'm thinking that's the problem. Yet my boss was able to get the app to run on his Apple Powerbook running Windows 98 in a Virtual PC emulator. Arrgghh!

Maybe if we become a large enough customer for BT's MPGs/Os, we can get them to write a single app that will allow one to do the initial setup, ongoing config, and MPO upgrades. As it is now, initial setup needs to be done through a browser, then the two other Win32 apps are needed for ongoing maintenance. That's ridiculous.

Shortly after bagging it in the lab, I caught a train home. Judith had a professional development course tonight so I had to be home early to pick up the kids at 16:00.