Thursday, March 30, 2006

Best. Chinglish. Ever.

I just read the following in the README file accompanying a new firmware release for a router I'm testing:

(3) Change the messages, “A CPE (Ethernet) is attempting to hijack the MAC : address for IP Stack1! Thwarting the villian's malicious plot...”, to as follows: “An IP/MAC conflict has been detected. Please check the IP address of any connected device and make sure it is not using an IP address of another connected device.


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A productive day

I took a flex day today so that I could drop off my truck at the service station around the corner to get the required PA state inspection, oil change, and tires rotated. Thankfully, it didn't need any work. It was nice having a day to myself and I was able to get a lot done that I kept getting distracted from, to wit:
  • Cleaned out a large pile of papers and assorted junk from my office. Much got thrown out while some other stuff got shoved in the crawlspace.
  • Stripped the bolt on my M1938 Mosin-Nagant and cleaned out whatever goop the Soviets put in it when they arsenal refurbished it. Hint: non-chlorinated brake cleaner works extremely well for this, but use it outside so you don't kill too many brain cells. I still need to shoot this gun.
  • Replaced the stock cast firing pin on my CZ-52 with a machined aftermarket pin. (The original firing pins are notorious for breaking.)
  • Removed the firing pin and extractor from my Springfield M1911A1 and gave their recesses in the slide a good cleaning. Hopefully the last-round ejection problems I had with the gun the last time I shot it were due to the gunk in the extractor channel.
  • Ordered some Winchester .45 ACP 230 grain FMJ from MidwayUSA, along with a couple reloading items. WWB is my favorite .45 ACP practice load.
  • Downloaded, installed, and ran Crap Cleaner on Bagend.
  • Upgraded Thunderbird on Bagend to v1.5.
  • Found my copy of Bad Company's 10 From 6 and ripped it to MP3 format. What a great disc!
  • Ordered a Firefox t-shirt from the Mozilla Foundation to help support their development efforts. Who can't use another t-shirt?
One thing I looked for but didn't find was a GPLed or freeware program that runs on Windows and will allow me to rip just the audio from a DVD to MP3 format. I found several shareware programs but they all seem to be feature-disabled. The only DVD I have that I want to rip the audio from is Cream - Royal Albert Hall London -- May 2-3-5-6 05, and I don't want to pay $29 just for this, even if it's the best concert video I've seen. I did find one such program for Linux and OS X but I'd wanted to do this on Bagend. Any suggestions?

While Bush and Congress Play the Fiddle ...

... the US is being subverted from within. The picture below is from a March 27, 2006 student protest outside a California high school:

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Nice, huh? Why do I feel like the Indians watching the wagon trains coming over the horizon?

{Tip of the hat to Michelle Malkin.}

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Kool-Aide is strong ...

Last night I was sitting in the living room surfing the net on my iBook, and decided to bring it back into work. It's just too damn nice working in OS X to leave it at home. OS X: as addictive as crack.

Friday, March 24, 2006

SonicWALL 2040

Over the past week I've had the chance to play around in my lab with a SonicWALL 2040 firewall. One of our customers has been experiencing problems establishing multiple IPSEC VPN connections from behind one of our cable modems to a SonicWALL firewall/VPN server which is connected to the Internet via a T1. Unfortunately, their unit is an older, discontinued box, so I wasn't able to truly reproduce their environment, and probably due to this, I could not replicate their problem.

This is the second SonicWALL box I've tested. The first one was last year, a TZ-170. I've been impressed with both units. SonicOS includes a very good HTTP user interface, and allows you to not only setup a solid firewall, but you can also use it to provide a VPN termination server, create a VPN tunnel between two SonicWALL boxes, filter out spam and viruses, and filter web content (with the proper extra-cost options, naturally). The 2040 that I have in my lab now can also be configured to provide connection redundancy and load balancing with two WAN ports.

If you're in the market for a firewall I reccommend taking a look at SonicWALL's line.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


I'm still running Mac-less at work. However, I missed having a second PC on my desk connected to our development network, which doesn't go through the corporate Websense server, so I hooked up my old reliable Dell CPi P-II laptop. It has Slackware 10.2 on it, with the latest patches applied using slapt-get. Slack is my Linux distro of choice for old hardware, since it's the fastest in its out of the box configuration. The main app I run on Slacktop is Firefox, and to minimize overhead I'm using Fluxbox for my window manager.

Monday, March 20, 2006 After Action Report

Yesterday was the latest shoot, down at in Yeadon, PA, and it looks like we gained another shooter -- my wife.

When I met her, my wife was decidedly anti-gun. Over time I converted her to ambivalency. Yesterday, she came to the range with my dad, brother and myself. My brother has instructor experience and is a good teacher, so at her request I let him handle the instruction while I went to my own booth and shot.

He started off with the very basics -- stance, sight picture, breath control, and the manual of arms for the S&W Model 18. We set a target out at about 5 yards. At first she didn't hit the paper but by the time we left she was printing decent groups centered on the paper.

Afterwards she mentioned that now she wants to go again but next time try a Browning Buckmark, and to get a "nice little pink gun" to keep in our bedroom. :-D

While my wife was learning how to shoot, I ran 55 rounds through my Springfield M1911. On Saturday I'd swapped out the full length guide rod for a GI-style spring guide and plug, because the FLGR makes it a PITA to field strip. I'm not sure if it was the new spring guide or the UMC ammo I was shooting, but I constantly was experiencing last-round failures to eject. After shooting the last round in a mag, about half the time the case would fail to clear the ejection port, and get caught between the magazine feed lips and the front edge of the port. Heretofore, this pistol has been extremely reliable so I'm going to try it with Winchester USA ammo, which it is known to work well in it. If that doesn't fix it I'll try different magazines, and if it's still malfing after that, I'll put the FLGR back in.

I also shot my S&W Model 640 .38 Special snubbie. As expected, it worked perfectly.

Aside from that, a fellow shooter let me run 10 rounds through his Stevens Visible Loader .22 slide action rifle. This was made sometime in the late 19th/early20th Century, and is a neat old gun. In deference to the age of the piece we used CCI CB Caps. With these there was less noise and recoil than some spring piston air rifles I've shot.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Queen + Paul Rodgers Show

Tuesday night Judith and I saw Queen plus Paul Rodgers at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The last time Queen played Philly was during 1982.

Many fans no doubt look at Queen without the late Freddie Mercury as sacrilegious, or at best, a good cover band. But bands do change over time, for better or worse (witness Van Halen with Dave/Sam/Gary/Etc. or The Who with Keith Moon/Kenny Jones/Simon Phillips/Zack Starkey). Worse yet, too many people compare Paul Rodgers with Freddie Mercury, and complain that he’s no replacement.

Of course Rodgers is no replacement for Mercury. That’s fine and in fact, he isn’t trying to be one. However, Rodgers has one of the most distinctive voices in classic rock, and ironically according to Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor back in the 70s Freddie wanted to sound like Paul, who was already a star from his time with Free and Bad Company.

With that out of the way, the concert was excellent. Rodgers’ voice sounded great and unlike a lot of his contemporaries, he’s aged well. My one real complaint about the show is that for the first few songs the guys mixing the sound let his singing be overwhelmed by the music, especially Brian May’s guitar. For example, I could barely hear Rodgers during Tie Your Mother Down. Thankfully, the sound guys got their act together and his vocals came through well during Feel Like Making Love, Can’t Get Enough, and All Right Now.

Brian May is one amazing guitarist. I’ve always admired his studio work and now I know that he’s just as good on stage. His playing is technically adroit and just downright grabs you by the huevos and doesn’t let go.

As with May, Roger Taylor is technically adept and lays down a solid beat. He did a really good drum solo. His voice surprised me. He sang I’m In Love With My Car, These Are The Days of Our Lives, and Radio Ga-Ga. Especially during Days of Our Lives, I could’ve sworn I was listening to Rod Stewart. The similarity of their voices is uncanny.

Queen’s original bassist, John Deacon, declined to join Taylor and May in reforming Queen. So, they have a rather accomplished bass player filling in, plus a second guitarist and keyboardist (unfortunately I forget their names).

Here’s the complete set list, courtesy of

Intro - Beautiful Day
Reaching Out
Tie Your Mother Down
Fat Bottomed Girls
I Want To Break Free
Take Love
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Love Of My Life
Hammer To Fall
Feel Like Makin Love
Drum Solo
I'm In Love With My Car
Guitar Solo
Last Horizon
Bad Company
Can't Get Enough
Another One Bites The Dust
Dragon Attack
These Are The Days Of Our Lives
Radio Ga Ga
The Show Must Go On
Bohemian Rhapsody


We Will Rock You
All Right Now
We Are The Champions


Just a F. Test.

Apple out, Dell in

Reluctantly, I've gone back to my comapny-issued Dell D600 for work. I'd much prefer to be using OS X, but I decided that I didn't want to continue putting the wear and tear on my iBook. Also, I couldn't put my iBook on the main company network, so I had no way to print from it, which was a royal PITA. So, yesterday I moved all the work-related files on the Apple back over to the Dell.

The main applications I'm running are:
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • MS Outlook 2002 for work email and calendaring (we have an Exchange server, unfortunately)
  • MS Word 2002
  • MS Excel 2002
  • Trillian for AIM and Yahoo Messenger
  • MS Wordpad for small word processing docs
  • Google Desktop for local search and the Todo plugin
  • Irfanview

Some other apps I have include:
  • MS Visio 2003 for diagramming
  • Cygwin
  • Mozilla Suite
  • MS PowerPoint 2002 for the presentations which are an inevitable part of corporate life.

The Dell does have a larger screen that runs at higher resolution (144x1050) than the iBook's 12" 1024x768 screen, plus it allows me to run a second 1024x768 display. I have the second monitor placed to the right of the laptop with Outlook and Trillian on it. I keep the other apps on the main screen where the higher resolution is handy. I've found that this setup allows me to be more productive than I'd be with only the single screen.

My Apple won't be neglected. It'll remain my primary computer at home and when I do my independent consulting. By not schlepping to and from work and using it there, though, I hope to extend its lifespan.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Reminder: Rally Point Shoot March 19th

I'm posting about this again because we're coming up on the next Rally Point gathering, this coming Sunday March 19, 2006 at in Yeadon, PA.

Full details here.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Valley Forge Gun Show Report 3/12/06

Along with a friend I went to the Valley Forge gun show yesterday. Some observations:

  1. 7.62x39MM ammo supply was almost nonexistent. One vendor had some Hungarian MFS 7.62x39, and another had some tracers, but other than that, there was none to be found.
  2. The 5.56x45MM NATO ammo situation was similar. I saw several vendors with SAAMI-spec .223 but little 5.56MM NATO. One guy had a good supply of LC XM-193 while another vendor had some Guatemalan 5.56 surplus. I saw two sellers with the new Wolf Gold 5.56MM M-193. This is made in Serbia by Prvi Partisan, has brass cases, and is non-corrosive. I shot a lot of PP .303 British and 6.5 Swede when it was imported by Hansen in the 1980s and it was very nice ammo.
  3. There was plenty of 8x57MM Mauser and 7.62x54R surplus.
  4. There were plenty of surplus Mosin-Nagants of the M1891/30, M1938, and M1944 varieties. There were also a large number of No.4 Lee-Enfields, a few Turkish Mausers, many Yugo SKSes, and some Yugo Mausers.
  5. My friend was on the lookout for a Makarov but we saw only two: a Bulgarian for which the seller was asking $220 firm, and an East German priced at over $300. He’ll shop around more. Maks aren’t as common as a few years ago but he should be able to find one for under $200 with some shopping around.
  6. AR-15/M-16 magazines are plentiful and cheap. New USGI 30 rounders go for about $10, don’t spend any more on one. Unless you live in a state with its own assault weapons ban (e.g., NY) there’s no settle for used pre-bans selling for the price of a new magazine.
  7. Plenty of 30 round AK mags for $15 - $20 each. Very few 20 rounders. One vendor had Romanian 75 round drums.

I bought no guns but did pick up a few items, i.e., parts to convert my Springfield M1911 from a full length guide rod to GI-type recoil spring guide; a couple Viet Nam-vintage Simmonds 20 round magazines for my AR-15; a .50 caliber ammo can, and 200 rounds of the aforementioned Wolf M-193.

My friend did buy a new toy: a hex receiver M91/30 Mosin-Nagant rifle with a 1929 dated Tula barrel and laminated stock. The vast majority of 91/30s have round receivers, so this is probably an earlier gun. It was arsenal refurbished after The War and then placed into storage until surplused, so it’s in very nice shape. We ran a few patches through the bore after getting it back home. The bore looks nice with minimal wear to the rifling, although there’s some metal fouling. We left it soaking in Ballistol and my friend will do a thorough cleaning job later.

Friday, March 10, 2006

May I take your order?

This is the funniest thing I have seen in a l o n g time. Warning: do NOT have anything in your mouth when you read it.

Been busy putting out fires

It's been a busy week. A number of our sites, each of which supports a large number of simultaneous users, have been repeatedly knocked offline. Naturally, this is pissing off customers and people in my company.

In some cases it looks like we've been the victim of several DDoS attacks. We've been looking at how to make our service more resilient and are reaching some conclusions, but you'll forgive me if I'm vague on the details.

On a more positive note, I've started using Microsoft Entourage on my iBook more frequently for work email. Two things made this possible: 1) getting the correct WebDAV server settings for our Exchange farm, and 2) a patch that MS put out last year which resolved an issue with Entourage mangling calendars on an Exchange server.

I've used Outlook in several successive incarnations for about seven years. Since Day One, I've thought it sucks donkey balls. It's a gigantic bloated slow pig. I'd rather not even have to use a groupware app at all but it's kinda necessary given my employer's corporate culture. I could restrict myself to Outlook Web Access but that's not nearly as convenient as a local client. My ideal solution would be to use's Exchange connectivity and have Apple add WebDAV suppport for Exchange servers to iCal. That would be cool.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Emergency preparations on a budget

Rather than reposting it on this blog, please see my post on TRP about emergency preps on a budget here.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Thoughts on selecting .223/5.56MM ammo

My primary defensive carbine is a Colt AR-15A3 Tactical chambered for 5.56MM NATO. This rifle has a barrel length of 16 inches and a twist rate of one turn in nine inches (sometimes designated 1:9 or 1/9). I've done a fiar amount of online research into what sort of ammunition I should use. Two primary sources for info are the Ammo Oracle and the Arfcom AR-15 Ammo Forum.

Based on these sources it appears that the heavy bullet loads at 5.56MM pressures (see the Oracle for the difference between .223 and 5.56MM specs) are the most effective, because they fragment the most reliably. They are also the most expensive, and I like to practice with something more equivalent to my defense load.

Aside from wanting to practice with the same or similar load as to that which I'd rely on for defense, I have to take into account the 1:9 twist of my Colt. The heaviest loads require a 1:7 twist to stabilize. A 1:9 may be able to stabilize bullets up to about 69 grains but beyond that it's doubtful.

I'm avoiding M-855 spec ammo (62 grain with steel penetrator) because (a) it does not fragment as reliably as M-193, and (b) it's more expensive. If I thought that I'd need the extra penetration then I'd buy some, but absent a Hurrican Katrina type SHTF event, I don't.

So, my primary pick is Federal Lake City XM-193 of which I've laid in a stash. Future availability of this load appears to be questionable, however. So, for practice purposes I have Federal American Eagle .223. This is about 100 FPS slower than M-193 spec ammo but for practice out to 100 yards it's not significant, and my Colt runs good with it.

I'm not an ammo snob and if Wolf .223 ran well in the Colt I'd use it for practice. Many people have had good luck with Wolf in their ARs, however I am not one of them. When I tried it I got several bolt over base failures to feed. I do have about half a case left and it runs well in my Mini-14, so that's the gun in which I'll use it up. Note that I do not recommend Wolf for defensive use, because the bullet jackets are thick and the FMJs don't fragment, while JHP fragmentation is uncertain.

Winchester's Q3131 and Q3131A loads are essentially identical to Federal XM-193 and should be interchangeable from an end user's point of view. They may be more available than the Federal in the future.

Federal has posted the results of gelatin tests of several different .223/5.56MM loads on their website, here (PDF file). What I found interesting about the gelatin results is that although the 55 grain American Eagle load has a longer "neck" on the permanent cavity, overall disruption appears to be roughly equivalent to the fancier "tactical" loads. So, if true M-193 spec ammo availability dries up in the future, the AE .223 55 grain FMJBT loads look like a good substitute for civilian defensive use.

The good news with respect to M-193 spec ammo is that a batch of Guatemalan surplus M-193 just hit the US; AIM Surplus has it. Also, Wolf is now importing M-193 made by Prvi Partizan in Serbia. PP ammo was imported into the US under the Hansen name back in the 1980s before the whole Balkan shitstorm of the '90s, and was very good. I shot up a bunch of it in .303 British and 6.5x55 Swedish. So, I am optimistic that the Wolf Gold M-193 will be good as well. Along with a friend I'm planning to go to the Valley Forge Gun Show on March 12th, and hope to pick up a few boxes to try out. If it shoots as well as I hope, I plan to add more to my stash.

Switch pounding fun

I think that SMC fixed the issues I was having with the SMC 6752 switch in my lab, with a new version of the firmware and a new configuration to enable port-to-port isolation while still allowing remote management access. So, I'm running some traffic across it and periodically testing the console interface to verify it hasn't locked up (a bug I discovered in the last minor firmware version I had). So far, so good.

I'm looking forward to putting this project behind me, for sure!