Sunday, April 30, 2006

Switching gears

Time for a Sunday update. I'm switching gears.

Last Monday I attended the PBI's 10th Internet Law Update, getting me 6 of the 12 CLE credits I need to maintain my law license. This is a really good program but I noticed that it was somewhat repetitive from last year, so I don't think I'll go in 2007. One of the presenters was one of my employer's in-house counsel, so I introduced myself and got to answer the usual, "So why are you working as an engineer?" question.

I also ran into an attorney who I worked with closely back before I switched careers. I hadn't seen him since 1999 and my beard through him off, so he didn't recognize me immediately. It was nice to catch up.

Thursday and Friday I attended PBI's 12th Employment Law Institute. This got me another 12 CLE credits, so I'm halfway done my requirement for 2006 - 2007 (I'm in the 5/1 - 4/30 compliance group.) This was the fourth or so ELI I've attended and they've been uniformly excellent. There is a wide variety of workshops to attend, and I focused on those relating to technology in the workplace.

When I practiced law for a living, plaintiff's employment discrimination made up the bulk of my work. It wasn't the area I wanted to practice in and frankly, I grew to seriously dislike it, for several reasons. One is that most of our clients were very high maintenance, to put it politely. Second, despite how the Supreme Court ruled, I don't believe that the ADA is fully constitutional -- parts of it violate the free association clause of the First Amendment. Finally, it's an area of the law where you see even good people at their worst. Representing management in employment issues was also a lot more pleasant than representing plaintiffs, if for no other reason that we usually got paid in a timely manner. Unfortunately, I found it hard to drum up that kind of business.

In contrast, when handling business, contract, and trademark matters, I found the work to be quite interesting, not to mention a lot less confrontational than litigation. This kind of business was harder to generate, as well.

As it turns out, I've had a couple people approach me recently about handling some legal matters in the nature of setting up LLCs, crafting commercial use policies for websites, and reviewing contracts. Just by participating in various online fora and becoming friends with small businessmen, I've been doing networking. The other thing that helps now is that with my experience working in the business world for the past seven years, I have a better perspective of what clients needs. Most recent law school grads don't, and most never do develop a businessman's perspective. This can only help me.

To be honest, working in technology has gotten to be a little boring of late. Something else I'm concerned with is that tech is mainly a young man's game, and I'm already in my later 30s. I'm a little worried that at some point I'm going to run into a brick wall due to my age. In contrast, having gray hair seems to help a male attorney's credibility. (And I've already got a lot.)

So Friday during some down time I created a spreadsheet listing things I need to do to start up a part-time law practice. It looks like this is something I can do part-time to start while building up a client base. As long as I don't take on any clients who do business with my current employer I won't run into any conflict of interest problems.

One of the things I need to do that'll be of most interest to my readers is what technology I'll be using. To say that law office tech has developed dramatically since 1999 is putting it mildly. The firm at which I practiced used dated technology but wasn't alone in doing so in 1999. For example, our primary app was WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS, running on PCs running MS DOS 6.2 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11 on top of Lantastic. (Lantastic was one big piece of junk, let me tell you.) I do want to keep my practice primarily Macintosh-based, but I'll put up a separate post discussing that.

In the interim, if you're in Pennsylvania and in need of an attorney to help you with a non-litigation business matter, drop me a line with the general nature of your issue (but don't include anything that's sensitive in unencrypted email!) at dave {at}

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Light blogging

Yes, blogging has been light around here of late. I was busy with the kids last weekend, took a CLE class yesterday (PBI's Internet Law Update), tomorrow I need to stay home with Amanda who's sick, and will be taking another CLE class Thursday and Friday.

Today I was in the office and managed to squeeze in a meeting with a prospective vendor, a few informal speed tests of two gateways, and a conference call covering an upcoming network migration. I also tried to sign up for an in-house CCNA class in May but something is wrong with my login to our intranet site and the scheduling calendar would not display.

Other projects I'm working on include an spam and advertising policy for a web BBS of which I'm an admin, another article for, and looking into a business venture.

So if you're wondering about intermittent activity around here, now you know why.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Adherence to standards

It would be really nice if networking equipment vendors would stop screwing around with accepted standards by either not supporting them fully, or by adding extended functionality.

Along with a colleague, I spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday at one of our customers. We installed a dual cable modem solution to provide a degree of redundancy. Most of our customers get an SMC 8013, which is an integrated unit, essentially a router with a DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem as the WAN interface. This customer is high profile and has a large number of users, so the 8013 wasn't up to the task. What we wanted to do was provide a failover in case the primary modem got overwhelmed by either the amount of traffic being passed or a DDOS attack.

The solution we tried to implement this week involved a Cisco 1811 dual-WAN port router connected to two Cisco uBR 905 cable modem routers. The 1811 has a static public subnet assigned to it, as do each of the 905s. The 1811 advertises its subnet to the 905s using RIP v2, and the 905s in turn advertise their own respective subnets and the 1811's subnet to our CMTS (Cable Modem Termination System, akin to a DSLAM in a DSL provider's network), again via RIP v2.

It worked great in the lab but failed quickly in the field. After a day and a half of scratching our heads I finally ran across the reason why: RIP (v1 or v2) does not support multiple paths to the same network, except in certain vendors' implementations. "Certain vendors" = Cisco.

The configuration was tested in our lab against a Cisco CMTS. Unfortunately, the customer is on an Arris CMTS, and Arris apparently adheres more closely to the RFCs than does Cisco. Sooooo, no workee.

Actually, IMO it was a good thing that this customer is on an Arris CMTS. Had they been on a Cisco CMTS we'd have continued down the primrose path that Cisco's proprietary extensions to RIP lead us down in the lab, and not realized the problem until we tried this configuration elsewhere.

If we used only Cisco CMTSes this would not have been a problem. But because we use other vendors' CMTSes as well, we cannot use the proposed configuration in much of our network. A hell of a lot of time would not have been wasted on a futile effort had Cisco adhered to the accepted industry standards.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Passover Story

A few days before Passover, the Israeli ambassador got up to speak at the U.N.

"Ladies, and gentlemen," he said. "I have much to say. But before I begin, let me tell you an old Passover story, as the holiday is almost upon us."

"When Moses was leading the Jews out of Israel he had to cross the near endless Sinai desert. The Israelites were so thirsty they could hardly go on. So Moses struck the side of a mountain with his staff and a pond appeared with crystal clean water. Now the people rejoiced and drank to their hearts content."

"But Moses wished to cleanse his entire body. So he went over the other side of the pond, took off his clothes and dove in. Only when he came out did he discover his clothes had been stolen. And I have good reason to believe that the Palestinians stole Moses' clothes."

At this point, the Palestinian delegate jumped out of his chair and screamed. "You lying fool! Everyone knows there were no Palestinians at that time!"

"Exactly," said the Israel Ambassador. "And with that, let me begin my speech."

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Wheelgun Range Report

After letting it sit and gather dust in my gun cabinet for far too long, today I went to the range with Dad and shot my Euroarms 1858 Remington .44 cap and ball revolver. I also shot the S&W Model 640 (no dash) .38 snubbie I picked up last week, and Dad's new 50th Anniversary Ruger Blackhawk .357.

We put 5 cylinderfuls (30 shots) through the Euroarms piece and it shoots well. I loaded it with 28 grains of Goex FFFg black powder, Wonder Wads, and Hornaday .457 roundballs. I believe Euroarms suggests .454 balls but I also have a Ruger Old Army and only stock the larger size. The .457 balls give a slightly longer bearing surface and should hopefully shoot a bit more accurately anyway. Caps were CCI No. 10s.

In the past I've always used some kind of grease, e.g., Crisco, Bore Butter, or CVA Grease Patch, over the ball, but I really like using the wads. Much less messy and the gun still cleans up well.

I prepped the gun by coating the inside of the frame recess and bore with Crisco to keep fouling soft, cleaning out the nipples with a pipe cleaner, and putting a few drops of Ballistol on the cylinder pin. This was the first time I used Ballistol for this. I bought it based on a post by IIRC Mike Weber on THR, who recommended Ballistol for keeping Remingtons running. It works very well. After 18 shots I put a few more drops on to keep the gun running smoothly.

We shot at 7 yards and my groups were one ragged hole, when I didn't jerk the trigger. POI was about an inch to the left of POA. Close enough for government work, as they say.

I had one failure of a cap to ignite on the second cylinder. I'm pretty sure what happened was that it wasn't fully seated on the nipple; the CCI No.10 caps are a snug fit. It went off on the second strike. Some fell off after they were shot, while others stayed on and had to be picked off. I experienced no cap jams, which was a refreshing change from my past experience with Colt replicas.

I'm very pleased with my Euroarms 1858 Remington. It's a lot of fun to shoot and if it was all that was available, I'd feel pretty darn well armed with it, 19th Century design or not.

I forgot to bring my camera so I took the following pic with my camera phone, so please excuse the fuzziness:

{Click on the image for a larger version}

The Smith & Wesson Model 640 functioned perfectly, as expected. J-Frame .38s are no damn fun to shoot due to the recoil, so I limited myself to 12 rounds of WWB .38 Special 150 grain LRN and 10 rounds of Winchester .38 158 grain LSWCHP +P (my carry load). At 7 yards the gun shoots a little to the right of POA but all rounds hit in the "0" zone of an IDPA target. I got me a new pocket gun. :-)

Dad's new Flat Top Blackhawk is nice. It has a 4-5/8" barrel, and the grip frame and ejector rod housing are made of steel, unlike most New Model Blackhawks which have those parts made from aluminum. The grips are hard checkered black rubber.

The gun is a lot smoother than most fresh from the factory Ruger guns I've handled. It has a very nice trigger pull -- a little bit of creep, but a light let-off with no overtravel. Ruger's bluing job was also done better than most recent examples I've seen.

Dad was shooting rather small one-hole groups. I put 6 rounds through it pretty rapidly, and they landed in a nice small cluster.

One of these 4-5/8" Flat Tops in .44 Special or .45 Colt would be a really sweet woods walking gun, I'm thinkin'.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Selecting Cap and Ball Revolvers

Yesterday, I posted a revised version of my article Selecting, Shooting, & Caring for The Cap and Ball Revolver over on my website, here. I hope some readers find it useful.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Wild West Alive and Well

If you've been following the news you've no doubt heard about the Senate's compromise on immigration "reform." (Amnesty for criminals is more like it.) While Congress and the Bush Administration sit around figuring out just how many illegals they'll let off the hook, the southern border continues to leak like a sieve. For example, this morning I read this post by "azredhawk44" on THR:

I've returned from the Minuteman patrol of the border.

Looking at that terrain really bothered me. There are discarded water bottles, makeshift tents from garbage bags, and discarded clothing all over the place. It looks like a troupe of absent-minded 3rd graders have been dropping garbage and walking in circles there for about 100 years.

Only, it's not 3rd graders. It's illegal aliens from Mexico and elsewhere.


The first watch I was on took place at night. I must have heard a hundred illegals in the desert around me, but they were obscured by the scattered mesquite trees, cholla and prickly pear cactus that provided cover for them. Visibility at night was perhaps 50 feet with the naked eye, and 100-200 yards with night optical systems, depending on quality. I had a Gen-I night vision monocular at my disposal which allowed me to spot my first two illegals at about 75 yards distant from me at about 8:00pm.


I had been using passive night vision with no infrared lamp for assistance. This guy was barely in range of my night equipment, so I hit him with my IR beam to help see him. He had night vision too, and saw my IR beam immediately. He froze for about 5 seconds. I got a good look at him via night vision. He had a quality backpack, with a large bail of something up high towards his shoulders. Very squared and boxy. He was bent over slightly to balance the weight.

When he saw my beam wasn't just scanning, but locked in on him, he bolted back southeast for cover. We followed him with a spotlight, the IR beam and night vision. He was lit up really good until he dived into some cover behind a bunch of cactus. We lost sight of him, but reported him to Border Patrol. He was sitting there behind cover only 100 yards away or so.

It's not just Juan and Jorge sneaking across the border to find a job making $2/hour picking lettuce. It's well-equipped, organized drug smugglers, "OTMs" (Other Than Mexicans), and G-d only knows who else. I'd be stunned to find out that radical Muslims haven't slipped across the Mexican border in the night packing AKs and explosives.

Completely sealing the border is impossible. But the first duty of any country is to maintain its integrity, which means having at least some control over the borders. Right now it's wide open. The Wild West is alive and well in 2006.

Unfortunately, neither of the two major American political parties wants to stem the tide. The Democrats want more lower income people who they can make state dependants for their own power base, while the Republicans (with the noticeable exception of Tom Tancredo) seem to want a steady stream of workers who they can employ on the cheap. This is a recipe for disaster.

Meanwhile, menial jobs that Americans would do if their wages weren't being undercut by illegals are squeezing lower income citizens. And on the other hand, American upper and middle classes are having their tax dollars eaten away by crimes committed by illegals and emergency room care being used for routine medical issues by illegals without health insurance.

Immigration when permitted in a controlled manner is a Good Thing. It may sound jingoistic but I realy do believe that the USA is the greatest country on Earth because of it was created by the best and brightest from all over the world, who immigrated here in search of freedom and the opportunity to make an honest living. That's threatened now by millions of illegals who come here in search of free health care, education, and the whole slew of "entitlements" (barf) which have been created with the rise of the American welfare state. This is not supportable in the long term. Yet the Federal Government fiddles while the foundations of the American Republic are burning beneath them.

I fear for the future of the country in which my children will grow up.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Armored suits next?

Somewhere, Robert Heinlein is smiling:

A Japanese quadriplegic plans to climb to the peak of a Swiss mountain by riding piggyback on a mountaineer who will get some extra muscle from a robot suit.


He would carry Uchida on his back with the aid of a robot known as HAL, Saigo said.

HAL, which stands for hybrid assistive limb, is a type of wearable robot or motorised exoskeleton.

Too cool!

Apple Boot Camp

Hell is continuing to freeze over. Apple is now officially supporting booting Windows XP on Intel-based Macs, via Boot Camp. In Apple's words:

More and more people are buying and loving Macs. To make this choice simply irresistible, Apple will include technology in the next major release of Mac OS X, Leopard, that lets you install and run the Windows XP operating system on your Mac. Called Boot Camp (for now), you can download a public beta today.

As elegant as it gets

Boot Camp lets you install Windows XP without moving your Mac data, though you will need to bring your own copy to the table, as Apple Computer does not sell or support Microsoft Windows.(1) Boot Camp will burn a CD of all the required drivers for Windows so you don't have to scrounge around the Internet looking for them.

Somebody get me a coat.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Mosin follow-up

As I mentioned on Sunday, I left the bore of my M-1938 Mosin-Nagant carbine soaking in Hoppe's No.9 in the hopes that it would dissolve some of the metal fouling. Boy, did it.

I took the rifle out of the closet tonight and when I removed the bolt I saw that it had a green streak of dissolved copper which had dripped down out of the bore. I've never had that happen before.

So, I ran several patches wet with Hoppe's through the bore, but it still looked like there was some fouling. I decided it was time to break out the JB Bore Cleaning Compound. This is a mildly abrasive paste, sort of like jeweler's rouge. It should not be used for regular cleaning, but only when a gun's bore is really fouled. The Mosin qualified.

I scrubbed the bore with a couple of JB-coated patches. Note that if you have JB on a patch and run it through even a clean bore, it will come out pitch black. Don't go overboard with it.

To get the JB out of the bore and for further cleaning, I followed up with several patches wet with Kano Kroil. This is a pentrating oil, not specifically intended for use as a gun cleaner, but is used as such by a lot of people, including very particular benchrest shooters. (It's good to have around the house even for non-shooters. It's a better penetrating oil than WD-40.) I ran enough Kroil patches through the barrel until they came out clean, then left the bore wet. I'll come back tomorrow or Thursday and see what else comes out.

URL Link Extension for Firefox and Thunderbird

This morning I installed the URL Link extension in both Firefox and Thunderbird. From the official description:

URL Link is a small Firefox and ThunderBird extension that allows you to select a non-URL in a mail/news message or web-page, and open it in a browser window.

For emails, it reconnects links in emails which have been broken across several lines, and also replaces spaces with the URL character code %20 so that you may follow emailed network 'file:' links (which it auto-detects from Windows X: or servdir references).

I frequently receive emails containing long URLs that get broken when either the sender's or my email client inserts a line break somewhere in the middle of it. This allows me to select the URL, right click, and open it in my browser. You can also use it to select any text and have it automatically inserted into your browser's address bar.

Since most people you send email to will not have the URL Link extension, it's best to enclose long URLs in greater-than and less-than signs, e.g., the "<" and ">" characters. (I've tried posting an example with them around a sample URL but Blogger reformats it.) With those characters around the URL, most mail clients will recognize the URL and make it a hotlink, even if a line break gets inserted inside it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Day at the range

Today my brother Josh and I went up to Wicen's Farm Shooting Range. Josh brought the Rock River Arms Entry Tactical Carbine (AR-15) that he got a couple of weeks ago, along with his Glock 22 .40. I brought the H&R 158 .22 Hornet that I got a month or so ago, a Mosin-Nagant M1938 Carbine, and a Smith & Wesson M-640 (no dash) .38 Special snubbie that I picked up yesterday. Unfortunately we ran out of time and didn't get to shoot the pistols.

Josh's RRA functioned 100% with the GI mags and some PMC M-193 Ball and Winchester bulk pack .223. Accuracy was so-so, but the 1:9" twist of his rifle may shoot better with bullets heavier than 55 grains. It was also quite windy which didn't help matters.

The H&R .22 Hornet shot pretty well. It took me awhile to get it dialed in. Whoever had it before me had cranked the elevation on the Weaver K-4 all the way up, or nearly so. To get it shooting about an inch high at 100 yards, I had to bring it down at least 50 clicks. Once it was approximately zeroed, I was able to get about a 2" group. Without the wind and with a better trigger, I wouldn't be surprised to see the gun shoot MOA. My ammo was Winchester 45 grain JSP factory loads.

On the opposite extreme, my M1938 Mosin is quite probably the most inaccurate rifle I have ever shot. At 100 yards I was able to keep 15 shots within the "-1" zone of an IDPA target (similar to the "B" zone of an IPSC target). And this was with a 3" orange dot sticker stuck on the target as an aiming point. I would've been happy if the gun had put them within 6" but this is ridiculous.

The ammo I was using for the Mosin was 7.62x54R Hungarian light ball (147 grain bullet), a case of which I received last week from AIM Surplus. As with other surplus 7.62x54R, this stuff is dirty. We put 20 rounds through the gun today and the bore was filthy. Shooting it probably dislodged some old fouling as well. Since it's corrosively primed, I ran a few patches wet with Windex through it at the range to flush out the potassium chlorate residue, then followed up with Hoppe's No.9. I'm letting the bore soak overnight in Hoppe's, to get rid of more fouling.

It's too bad the rifle is so inaccurate, especially since this has the smoothest action of all of my four Mosins. The only time the extraction was sticky was when one case split vertically on firing.

It'll be interesting to see how the Hungarian ammo does in my Finn m/1891 or m/1939, or my Ishvesk M-1891/30.

Most of my recent rifle shooting has been with semiautos, but I found it very satisfying shooting a single shot and a bolt action. It's past time I took out a muzzleloader.