Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I've been running Camino 1.0.2 for the past few days on my iBook. In the event you're unfamiliar with it, Camino is a native Aqua app but uses Mozilla's Gecko HTML engine.

When I last tried it out over a year ago, Camino was not ready for daily use and I saw no reason to switch from Firefox. That's changed. Although it still doesn't support Firefox extensions (and AFAIK it never will) it's stable and fast. Firefox of late has really become sluggish on any platform, which lead me to start using Opera and Safari more. Both are fine browsers but because Camino uses Gecko, it renders more pages without the little quirks you run into with Opera or Safari.

Camino is worth a try if you're running Mac OS 10.2 or later.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rally Point 8/25/06 AAR

Yesterday was the latest Rally Point Shoot, held at the Langhorne Rod & Gun Club north of Philadelphia. We had about 35 - 40 folks show up. Thw eather worke dout well -- about 80 degrees and overcast, perfect for shooting.

I brought along my Springfield M1911A1 Loaded, Ruger 10/22, Colt AR-15A3, and Arsenal SA-M5.

The last time I shot the Springfield was back in March and it was giving me failures to eject, with many spent cases getting jammed between the breech face and the barrel hood. I am pleased to say that I fired 82 rounds (50 Rem-UMC and 42 Federal AE) through it yesterday with no malfunctions. I am pretty sure that my March problems were due to the magazines. Then, I used a couple mags which came with the pistol. Yesterday I used two stainless steel Chip McCormick Shooting Star 8 rounders. I'll be getting some more of these.

Accuracy at 50 feet was good, too. Before my hands got tired from the .45 recoil I was able to keep all my shots inside about 3 - 4" offhand. A better shot would get tighter groups but for me that's not bad.

I put 100 - 120 rounds of CCI Subsonic HPs through the Ruger 10/22, through both a factory mag and a Butler Creek Hot Lips 25 rounder. The CCIs are accurate, reliable, and quiet.

Later I moved to the big bore range and took out the Colt and Arsenal. Incidentally, if you show up at one of these shoots you'll get to see a lot of cool toys. I saw many AR-15s (one with a can), several AKs, a few Garands, an M-1903 Springfield, a few FALs, an an M-1944 Mosin-Nagant carbine. There was also a suppressed Savage 110 in .308 which sounded like a .22 when it was fired.

I only ran 40 rounds through the Colt, on which I'd mounted my new Hakko scope. I need to zero it at 50 yards to get it on paper before shooting it at 100 yards again.

The Arsenal SA-M5 got a workout. I put 160 rounds through it -- 120 Wolf 55 grain JHP and 40 Federal American Eagle 55 grain FMJ-BT. It prefers FMJ ammo. I had 3 or 4 instances of the JHPs getting hung up on the breech when trying to feed into the chamber. Pulling back the bolt and releasing it allowed them to feed. The steel cased Wolf gave no problems with extraction or ejection, which is as I expected. AKs are designed to siphon a healthy amount of gas from the barrel to cycle the action under adverse conditions, so ejection was vigorous.

Before shooting the brass cased Amercian Eagle ammo, I cleaned the chamber with some FP-10 on a couple of patches. Steel cased ammo does not obturate as well as brass cased ammo, so it dirties the chamber more quickly. I've found that shooting brass cased ammo after steel cased can cause intermittent extraction problems.

The magazines I used in the AK were Bulgarian 20 rounders. They functioned perfectly and since they don't protrude as much as 30s, are much better for shooting from the bench. I plan on picking up a few more of these.

I was impressed with the K-Var handguards on the rifle. I got the gun good and hot but they stayed cool. The built-in heat shields work.

Before leaving I wanted to run a couple of patches through the bore. Like a dumbshit I put a couple of .35 caliber patches on the loop of my Otis cleaning kit and got it good and stuck in the throat of the bore, which is of course .22 caliber. I couldn't push it out. This morning when cleaning I figured out how to get it unstuck: unscrew the cable from the tip then push the loop back out with a cleaning rod. It popped back out of the chamber with just a little bit of pressure. Whew!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Busy Monday

Yesterday I took off so that I could take my Expedition into the shop. When I had it in for an oil change last month I asked my mechanic to take a look and see why it sounds like there’s a hole in a part of the exhaust system. Well, there was a hole in the left exhaust manifold. Due to the fact that unscrewing a 9 year old manifold may result in broken bolts, which in turn would require removing the engine to get the manifold off, he wouldn’t do it. So, it’s at a local Ford dealer. While there I’m also having them add refridgerant to the AC system, lubricate the drive shaft, and do some front end work.

It’s going to be a big damn bill {sigh}. Unfortunately I can’t afford a new vehicle so I have to sink money into this one. Our next new vehicle will probably be for Judith because her ’99 Nissan Sentra is small. At least the dealer paying for a rental car for the day or two I’m without my truck.

While I was home I worked on my next article for Techbuilder.org. I’m using my old Dell Latitude CPiA as a test bed, so I loaded FreeBSD 6.1 onto it. The install went very smoothly. I did have to go back and install a new X server – the framebuffer server – to get the GUI working.

Since the box is cramped on disk space (5.5 GB) and has a slow processor (P-II/366MHz) without much RAM (128 MB) I’m using FVWM as my window manager. It’s got a few more features than the default TWM but doesn’t kill system performance like KDE or Gnome. The heaviest desktop I’d use on this hardware would be XFCE.

Once the article is available I’ll post a link.

Finally, I received two new antennas that I ordered last week from Gigaparts. The first is a Comet SMA-24 2M/70cm for my Yaesu VX-5RS HT. The MFJ 1720S 2M/70cm/6M that I’d been using worked OK but made the radio really top heavy. I couldn’t just site it down without propping it up on something. I was also worried that it was putting undue strain on the SMA connector.

In contrast to the MFJ, the Comet SMA-24 is a very thin and light whip that allows the radio to sit on a flat surface without tipping over. It doesn’t work for 6M but for an HT that’s not a problem.

The Comet is very whippy. Above the base, the antenna wire seems to be coated with a rubber layer with a small nub on the tip. Once it starts moving it takes awhile to stop. To give it a little more rigidity I put a piece of heat shrink tubing on it down near the base, and to prevent poking out anyone’s eye I added a small flag of orange duct tape to the tip.

I also got a Diamond MR77 mobile antenna for my truck and field ops. The MFJ 1729 I bought last year vibrated into unusability in short order. The MR77 is a mag mount antenna for 2M and 70cm, with a PL-259 (UHF) connector on the end of the coax cable. I have a UHF-to-SMA adapter cable for use with my VX-5; the FT-7800R has an SO-239 on the back. Before I put this on my truck I’ll probably seal the antenna/base junction with liquid electrical tape to keep our moisture. I noticed that water did get into the MFJ mag mount and when I disassembled it I saw some rust.

So far I’ve used the SMA-24 for listening but not transmitting, while the MR77 is still in the packaging. I’ll post reports once I’ve had the chance to use them for a bit.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Truck fun

My '97 Expedition has been in need of a trip to the shop for awhile now. According to my regular mechanic, there's a small hole in the exhaust manifold which is the source of some loud noise while the engine is running. I've also heard a couple of loud clunks which sound like they're coming from the transmission, so this morning I stopped putting off the inevitable and made an appointment to take it in on Monday.

If the bolts securing the manifold to the engine block break while trying to change it, the engine will probably need to be removed to get them out, so he won't do it. I'm going to take the thing into a local Ford dealer, which I'd rather not do but it seems to be the best option right now. Tomorrow I'll try to hose down the bolts with Liquid Wrench to minimize the chance that the break off on Monday.

{sarcasm}I can't wait to see how much this costs.{/sarcasm}

Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday update

Saturday we schlepped up to Nutley, NJ (within sight of Manhattan) for a birthday party for one of Judith's cousins. The most direct route is to take the PA Turnpike to the NJ Turnpike to the Garden State Parkway. We hit traffic on the way up, but big sections of the southbound NJ Turnpike were parking lots. So, we took an alternate route home.

Instead of taking the Garden State to the NJ Turnpike, we got off the former at I-78W and took that west to US-22, across the Delaware into PA, until we got to the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike, I-476. Then 476S to the Norristown interchange and home. Mileage-wise it was probably longer but it took us the same amount of time as the trip up and the drive was much nicer.

I'd planned to go to the range yesterday since the weather was beautiful, but instead got the bug to organize/clean up my office. It's gotten extra cluttered of late to the point where it was bugging even me.
I put a lot of old documents -- ATM receipts, charge slips, old pay stubs -- through the shredder, then installed about ten feet worth of shelf space. This allowed me to get the coffee cans holding empty brass, along with other miscellaneous stuff up out of the way.

The shelves are nothing fancy, just 1x8 pine boards held up with braces and screwed into studs. Since my office is also the laundry room I don't worry about cosmetic details in there.

During my Lowe's run to get the shelving, I spied a few items on closeout that I snagged. They had a Nite Ize Multi Pocket belt pouch which should hold my Yaesu VX-5RS radio along with a few other items. Then there was a Lansky-type knife sharpener, and a butane torch with soldering tips. The knife sharpener should help me retouch the edge on my Benchmade Griptilian, which is made from rather hard steel. I worked on it a bit with my Arkansas stone and didn't make much progress. The only soldering iron I have is pretty cheap, so the torch should come in handy the next time I want to make an antenna.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I've been amazed at the amount of interest I've been getting for the ads I placed on Craigslist for the items that didn't sell at our yard sale last Saturday.

Sunday morning I put up an ad for the crib and changing table, tandem stroller, and three balloon strollers. As I mentioned on Monday I got the first reply in less than five minutes. That woman came over shortly thereafter and bought the balloon strollers and a couple of toys.

Sunday afternoon I got a couple of emails expressing interest in the tandem stroller. After emailing pictures I got one "no thanks" and it looks like the other person may come over sometime today to buy it. If she doesn't, yet another woman emailed me this morning requesting pictures.

Lesson learned: Craigslist is a great place to sell baby stuff once you're finished with it. Adding pictures to an ad will help quite a bit. Any future ads I place will incorporate pictures, which I'll host using my free Photobucket account.

When you consider that posting in Craigslist's "For Sale" classifieds doesn't cost a cent, this is an especially good deal.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Productive Weekend

It was a productive weekend.

Saturday morning we had a yard sale. We advertised it as running from 8:00 until Noon, but the early birds came out. I sold my copy of MS Streets & Trips 2004 at 6:45 AM, just as we were putting things out!

Saturday afternoon I had a site visit at a long-time client. She uses Quickbooks to keep her business's books and for invoicing, and just upgraded to QB2006. Since the upgrade it's been running really slow on her PC and another PC in the office.

It looks like QB2006 is a resource hog. Her PC is a 2.53 GHz Pentium IV with a gig of RAM and not too many other programs running. The other PC is similar. Hey, Intuit, this isn't Photoshop, how about not turning your programs into bloated pieces of crap like Symantec does with everything they publish?

Aside from looking over her PC and making sure it wasn't infested with anything that would cause a performance hit, I also updated their W2K3 file and web servers, and their Linux mail server.

The mail server is on SUSE 9.0 Pro running CommuniGate Pro. It's a bit long in the tooth and becoming hard to support due to a lack of updates. I am going to prepare a proposal for a replacment, based on my TechBuilder.org article about building a mail server with FreeBSD, Postfix, Dovecot, and SpamAssassin. It should perform better and be easier to support once it's setup.

Yesterday I put an ad of Craigslist for the crib, changing table, and strollers that didn't sell on Saturday. Within 5 minutes of placing the ad, I got an email from a woman nearby who just found out she'll be raising a niece's 18 month old. She came over a little while later and bought three umbrella strollers and a few toys. Another woman setup a time to come over tomorrow to look at the crib and changing table. Hopefully, she'll buy the set and then we'll only have to get rid of a double stroller.

I wrapped up the weekend by joining in the MARC Sunday night club net.