Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thumbs Up for LA Computer Company

Because I use my MacBook Pro everyday and plan to keep it for a couple more years, I decided to buy an Applecare Protection Plan for it. An APP can be added to an Apple product either at the time of purchase or within one year of same.

If I bought the APP for the MacBook Pro directly from Apple, the cost would be $349 plus PA's 6% sales tax. My employer has an agreement with Apple so that I can get a discount roughly equivalent to an educational discount, but even that would be $307 plus tax.

In contrast, LA Computer Company sells the same APP for $235, plus about $9 shipping.

I placed my order from LACC on 12/21/07 and it arrived this morning via FedEx Ground. And no worries that the deal is too good to be true, as I was able to register it on Apple's website with no problems.

Mini-14GB and Marlin 336 Range Report

I went out yesterday with my Mini-14GB (pics) and my Marlin 336 (pics), which is pictured earlier in this thread. The GB gave me no end of trouble but the Marlin of course ran like a top. This was my first chance to get it out since putting a Williams Firesight and FP-336 receiver sight combo on it.

The Firesight works really well. It was overcast but the red fiber optic front sight showed up very well. It has a soft glow that makes it more visible than a plain bead.

I ran two kinds of ammo through the gun. First, a couple boxes of Wolf Gold (Prvi Partizan) 150 grain JSP to zero it. Then some Remington 170 grain JSP to verify the zero, because it's my go-to load. I think the Remingtons feed a little more smoothly. Anyway, when I did my part, the rifle will put them all in the 10 ring of an SR-1 target at 100 yards.

One change I made was to remove the Eagle Shooter's Stock Pack shown in the pics. It includes a cheek pad which made getting a proper cheek weld. (I may put it on my FAL if I scope that rifle.)

What a darn fine rifle this Marlin is.

Ruger 10/22 For Defense

Over on THR, a member posted about getting a Ruger 10/22 as his first gun and its suitability for home defense. This is my reply:

A 10/22 is a viable home defense weapon, if not the ideal one.

Keep it simple, don't go crazy accessorizing it if you're going to use it for HD. (Adding accessories can come later once you get something better suited for HD.) There are a few accessories that could be beneficial:

1. A clamp-on weapon light. Most HD situations occur at night and target ID is paramount.

2. Williams Firesight front sight. It's a fiber optic bead that captures ambient light and makes it much more visible. I would avoid a scope or even an inexpensive red dot sight for a defensive gun. A scope's magnification reduces your field of view and slows target acquisition. A cheap red dot make break, the battery may die, or you may forget to turn it on in a SD situation. A peep rear sight coupled with a Firesight bead up front will give you fast target acquisition but good precision as well.

3. RELIABLE 25 round mags. Generally, Ruger 10 rounders are the most reliable but Butler Creek Hot Lips and Steel Lips mags can be very reliable. You'll need to try them in your rifle. Don't rely on any mags until you've put a hundred rounds through them, though.

For SD ammo, avoid the cheap bulk pack stuff. It's often not reliable enough in either functioning the weapon and will have a greater number of duds. My first choice for .22 LR SD ammo would be CCI Mini Mag SOLIDS. .22 LR has marginal penetration so I wouldn't use hollow points. CCI Mini Mag ammo is very high quality. I've shot a lot of it, never had a malfunction in various semiauto .22s, and never had one that was a dud. Mini Mags are more expensive than the bulk packs, so use the latter for practice.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Thompson Calls for High Fences, Wide Gates

Some highlights from THIS article:

"When I am president, I will build a fence," Thompson declared. Amnesty and illegal immigration, he said, are not healthy for the U.S. or Mexico. "We need to be a nation of high fences and wide gates."

When someone asked about what the government could do about AK-47s and the Westroads Mall shooting, Thompson said that assault weapons are not the problem, it is the people using them inappropriately; and it is not the government's place to remove guns from rightful citizens.

"Look at those church shootings," he said, in reference to the Colorado Springs, Colo., shootings that killed five and wounded five on Dec. 9. "That armed volunteer saved countless lives."

Thompson added, "My idea of gun control is a good, steady aim."

Friday, December 21, 2007

"Red December" Kalashnikov Match 12/30/07

Come join the fun at Langhorne Rod & Gun Club in Langhorne, PA on 12/30/07 for their Kalashnikov Match.

Arfcom thread HERE.

TRP thread HERE.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stormy Weather

Saturday night the nor'easter that hit the NE part of the US blew into town.  We got wind and rain, no snow.  Yesterday was pretty crummy; this morning was dry and cold.

Yesterday afternoon I went out back and noticed that one of the arbor vitaes which has been threatening to fall over was leaning a bit more than it has been.  Last Fall it blew into the power line from the pole to the house, causing an outage.  After that, PECO came out and replace the line, running it on the other side of the tree.  A few months ago I had the cable drop redone on the other side of the tree, so the only wire that would be affected if the tree fell would be the Verizon line, which is unused since we have Comcast Digital Voice phone service.  Since the line was unused but I didn't want it to pull anything off the pole or my house, I cut it yesterday using a pole saw.

Good thing, too.  This morning as I was leaving I noticed that the tree fell last night in the wind.  Now I need to cut it up and dispose of it.  I figure that letting nature take care of it saved me a few hundred bucks compared with using a tree surgeon.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Parallels 2.5 Build 3214 Under Leopard

This morning I decided I'd better verify that Parallels was still working, post-upgrade.  Good thing, too, because it wasn't.

When I clicked on the Parallels Desktop icon in my Dock, I got an error message indicating that it could not connect to one of its drivers, and should reinstall.

Build 3214 was still in my ~/downloads folder, so I reinstalled it which fixed the problem.  I verified I could open my XP virtual machines, and also that I was able to tether my Blackberry 8703e to the MacBook Pro for use as an EVDO modem, using Sprint's Windows-only connection manager software.

I still need to see if I'll be able to use my Keyspan USB-to-RS232 adapter in XP running in Parallels, which I have so that I can program my ham radios.

Brother HL-2070N Printer Under Leopard

The primary printer I used at home is a Brother HL-2070N monochrome laser, which is connected directly to my LAN via Ethernet.  This setup has worked very smoothly for me since I got the printer last year.

I didn't notice it until this afternoon when I went to print for the first time since upgrading to OS 10.5, but the archive and install did not migrate over my printer settings.  So, I had to reinstall the Brother.

Only problem is that the Printer Setup utility didn't detect the Brother on my network, even after I installed the updated driver from the Leopard install disc and disabling my MacBook Pro's firewall.  Even though it's a Bonjour-enabled printer, it just didn't show up.

Luckily, the HL-2070N also supports the IPP printing protocol and can be printed to using CUPS.  So, I entered the IP address of the printer and selected the correct CUPS driver, and was now able to print.

This was a bit annoying but I was able to deal with it.  Most Mac users probably don't understand what IPP and CUPS are, so this might be a bit more of a challenge for them.  Also, if you need to use this workaround, I recommend configuring the printer with a static IP address.  Out of the box it's a DHCP client which means its IP can change, which would required you to reconfigure your Mac with the printer's new IP.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Running Leopard

My Leopard install went pretty smoothly.  The process of verify the DVD before doing the actual installation took about a half hour to 45 minutes.  Overall, the installation took about an hour and a half.

After booting into Leopard for the first time I got a couple error messages.  One was from the applet CoreDuoTemp, which is not OS 10.5-compatible, and apparently hasn't been updated for the new OS.  The second error told me that LittleSnitch, the outbound firewall I installed, needed to be updated for 10.5.

After clicking through the error mesages, I ran Software Update and got the machine up to OS 10.5.1.  I then downloaded the latest version of LittleSnitch, which seems to be running OK. Now I'm in the process of exploring Leopard.  A few early observations:

One of the big new features touted by Apple is Spaces, OS X's implementation of virtual desktops.  I used virtual desktops a lot when running Linux but didn't really miss them on OS X, due to Expose.  However, Apple's implementation is neat.  For example, pressing F8 brings up thumbnails of each virtual desktop, and you can then drag and drop applications between them.

I use as my email client.  My installations of GPGMail and Letterbox weren't compatible with the new version, so I need to check for updates.

One very cool feature in Mail is the ability to recognize certain kinds of data in the text of messages.  For example, I was reading a message which included the phrase "Monday at 9:00 AM."  When I moved my cursor over the phrase it was highlighted with a drop down arrow.  Clicking on the arrow gave me the option of creating an iCal event based on the phrase.  Too cool!

Reminders created in iCal now show up in Mail.  You can also write notes in Mail.  Both of these features make Mail more of a PIM than it's been in the past.

The Finder looks quite a bit different, more like iTunes.  At this point it's OK but I haven't decided if I like it as much as or better than the old version.

The new Dock is OK, but I already miss the little black triangles which appeared under open applications in Panther and Tiger.  The triangle has been replaced with a little blue ball, which isn't nearly as conspicuous.

That's just scratching the surface.  I'll probably post more as I use the OS.

Installing Leopard

As I write this, I'm installing Mac OS 10.5 Leopard on my MacBook Pro, with my trusty old iBook G4 online in case something happens and I need to access the Internet for a fix.

Before commencing the install, I fired up OnyX and had it run all the maintenance scripts and clean out the various caches on the box. Only after that finished and the machine rebooted did I pop in the Leopard disc. To be on the safe side, I made backups of my Address Book, Firefox bookmarks, and my iCal database. Yesterday I did a full backup of my data to a Firewire drive. I'm doing an "Archive and Install," rather than an upgrade. This option makes copies the old OS to an archive folder, then installs the new OS. Should anything go wrong this should mean an easier restoration to Tiger.

I started the Leopard install at 19:22. I'll post a follow up after it's done.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Pennsylvania “Castle Doctrine” Bill Set to be Heard in House Judiciary Committee!

Friday, December 07, 2007

"Castle Doctrine" legislation, House Bill 641, introduced by State Representative Steven Cappelli (R-83), will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, December 11 at 10:00 a.m. in Room G50 of the Irvis Office Building.

This critical legislation will ensure that law-abiding Pennsylvanians have the ability to defend themselves and their loved ones from violent attack without fear of criminal prosecution or civil action.

Please contact the members of the House Judiciary Committee and strongly encourage him or her to protect our right to self-defense by supporting and voting for HB 641!

Members of the House Judiciary Committee:

State Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone (D-127), Chairman
(717) 787-3525

State Representative Daylin Leach (D-149), Secretary
(717) 783-9114

State Representative Kathy Manderino (D-194)
(717) 787-1254

State Representative John E. Pallone (D-54)
(717) 783-1819

State Representative Don Walko (D-20)
(717) 787-5470

State Representative Ron Marsico (R-105), Chairman
(717) 783-2014

State Representative Lisa Bennington (D-21)
(717) 705-7011

State Representative Dan Frankel (D-23)
(717) 705-1875

State Representative Harold James (D-186)
(717) 787-9477

State Representative Deberah Kula (D-52)
(717) 772-1858

State Representative Bryan R. Lentz (D-161)
(717) 787-8574

State Representative Joseph A. Petrarca (D-55)
(717) 787-5142

State Representative Sean M. Ramaley (D-16)
(717) 787-4444

State Representative Greg Vitali (D-166)
(717) 787-7647

State Representative Chelsa Wagner (D-22)
(717) 783-1582

State Representative Jesse White (D-46)
(717) 783-6437

State Representative Jewell Williams (D-197)
(717) 772-2004

State Representative Tom C. Creighton (R-37)
(717) 772-5290

State Representative Craig A. Dally (R-138)
(717) 783-8573

State Representative John R. Evans (R-5)
(717) 772-9940

State Representative Will Gabig (R-199)
(717) 772-2280

State Representative Glen R. Grell (R-87)
(717) 783-2063

State Representative Kate Harper (R-61)
(717) 787-2801

State Representative Beverly Mackereth (R-196)
(717) 783-2655

State Representative Carl W. Mantz (R-187)
(717) 787-3017

State Representative Bernie O'Neill (R-29)
(717) 705-7170

State Representative Tina Pickett (R-110)
(717) 783-8238

State Representative Todd Rock (R-90)
(717) 783-5218

State Representative Katie True (R-41)
(717) 705-7161

Copyright 2007, National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action.
This may be reproduced. It may not be reproduced for commercial purposes.


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Channukah

Today is the first full day of Channukah; the holiday started last night at sundown. As has become my custom, I will link to my Channukah 2004 post, here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How to Help Win Heller

Academics for the Second Amendment
Post Office Box 131254
St. Paul, Minn. 55113

Academics for the Second Amendment ("A2A") will be filing an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court in support of Mr. Heller (and urging the Supreme Court to affirm the Court of Appeals decision that the DC gun laws are unconstitutional). Our brief will be written by attorneys David Hardy and Joseph Olson with historical assistance from Clayton Cramer. As one of the several pro-gun amici, we'll be taking an approach that focuses on the ratification process in 1791 and the meaning and usage of terms found in the Second Amendment. We will show that no one in America, at that time, could have understood the amendment to preserve a state or government organization's "right" and that everyone who did speak out did so in the context of a meaningful individual right to keep and bear arms.

District of Columbia v. Heller will decide whether or not the Second Amendment protects any American from gun bans and confiscations.

Preparing and filing the amicus brief will take thousands of additional dollars. A2A will be facing attorney fees, printing expenses, filing fees, travel and lodging expenses, etc. We have some money but not enough.

A2A is a tax-exempt educational organization recognized under IRC §501(c)(3) [that makes your contributions tax-deductible]. Our primary goal is to give the “right to keep and bear arms” enshrined in the Bill of Rights its proper, prominent place in Constitutional discourse and analysis.

A2A was formed in 1992 by a number of present and former law school teachers, joined by historians, political scientists, and philosophers of government, who believe it is time to stand and be counted in support of a complete Bill of Rights which includes an individual right under the Second Amendment. The organization seeks to foster intellectually honest discourse on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and, of course, the environment in which academics, judges, politicians, and the public place the rights preserved by the Second Amendment.

A2A has filed friend-of-the-court briefs (A2A was an amicus in the U.S. Supreme Court in Lopez and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Emerson), sponsored academic symposia, encouraged media commentary, supported research and publication, and challenged the legal profession and the public to appreciate the place of the individual right to keep and bear arms in the American constitutional scheme. A major endeavor has been a series of “Open Letter” advertisements signed by groups of University and College professors. The signers cannot be dismissed by the media as “gun nuts” nor can their statements be ignored as without foundation. Their academic records and reputations are too strong for that to occur. The message is simple – the Second Amendment is there, it does preserve a meaningful individual right for responsible persons, and it cannot, without duplicity, be overlooked or interpreted into meaninglessness.

We need your help. If you believe in full and fair discourse on the Bill of Rights, A2A should receive your support. A2A is open to all. You don’t have to be “academic” in order to join. Your contributions are tax deductible. Please don’t ignore this request --- copy this post for a friend, forward it on, and send in your check or use our PayPal account.

Very truly yours,

Joseph Olson
Professor of Law

Note from Dave: A2A now has a PayPal donation button at their site. Yes, PayPal is antigun. However, this lets us use their service to our advantage. If you don't want to use PayPal, please consider a donation via check.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Firefox vs. Safari 3.0

Ever since Apple released OS 10.4.11, which included the non-beta version of Safari 3.0, I've been using it as my deafult browser. Overall, it's worked very well. Compared with the beta, the released version is more stable and works with more web sites. E.g., the Haloscan comments on GeekWithA45's blog no longer crash the browser.

Safari's integration with the OS X Keychain is a big plus in my book. It's more secure than the manner in which Firefox stores passwords. Safari integrates with other Apple software as well, e.g., right-clicking on an image on a web page allows you the option of adding it directly to your iPhoto library.

My one major problem with Safari 3.0 has been incomplete compatability with Blogger's post compostition window. Specifically, I often like to compose posts (like this one, AAMOF) offline in TextWrangler, then paste them into the Blogger composition window. That doesn't work in Safari, the pasted text appears on the page below the text entry block.

Safari also lacks a few extensions which I like, to wit:

  • Linkification,
  • DownlThemAll, and
  • AdBlock Plus.

So, today I downloaded the latest update to Firefox, v2.0.0.10. None of the extensions seem to have been broken. Just as noteworthy, this version seems to be a bit faster than

I'll putz around some with Firefox before deciding whether to keep it as my default, or go back to Safari.

As an aside, now that the first patch was made available for Leopard, I do plan to upgrade to 10.5.1. Just as soon as I get a roundtuit.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Kubuntu 7.10

In my lab I have a Dell Latitude D600 which is setup to dual boot Windows XP Pro and Linux. At first, I had SUSE but sometime last year I installed Kubuntu 6.10 on the Linux partition. Yesterday, I decided to upgrade to the latest version of Kubuntu -- 7.10.

Upgrading from one version of Kubuntu to the next should be fairly straightforward. You go into the K menu > System > Adept Manager and select Full Upgrade. Since I was on 6.10 and the next step up was 7.04, I had to get to 7.10 in two steps.

The upgrade to 7.04 went fairly smoothly. However, the upgrade program overwrote my /boot/menu.lst file, so Windows XP was no longer an option in Grub's boot menu. Making a note of that I went and upgraded to 7.10.

This morning I went into /boot and found an older version of menu.lst and copied the entry for XP into the new file, then rebooted. "Microsoft Windows XP" appeared in the list of OSes to boot, and when selected, I was able to load it. Whew.

Aside from upgrading the OS, I wanted to check out the Enlightenment window manager. Enlightenment, or "E," is not a full desktop environment like KDE or Gnome. It supports some neat eye candy, but its main attraction is that it's lighter weight than the full desktops, so runs better on lower end hardware. (The Dell runs KDE or Gnome just fine, but I wanted to check out E's usability.)

To install Enlightenment using apt-get from a CLI, I first had to enable additional package repositories in /etc/apt/sources.list. Then, do apt-get update, and finally, apt-get install enlightenment.

E is kinda neat and I'll continue to mess with it, but on systems that can handle a full desktop environment I do find it easier to work in KDE.

So far, Kubuntu seems to run OK on the Dell. I don't use it heavily but it remains one of the more user-friendly Linux distros I've tried. I prefer it over Ubuntu, since it defaults to KDE rather than Gnome for the desktop, though it's simple to install KDE on Ubuntu or Gnome on Kubuntu. For that matter, I may go ahead and install Windowmaker on the Dell, for a NeXTish experience. ;)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

PA Update: WE WON

Yesterday I went to Harrisburg along with GeekWithA.45 and Egregious Charles to attend the meeting of the PA House Judiciary Committee, which was considering three gun control laws. The primary drivers of the proposed legislation were from Philadelphia, and Governor Ed Rendell (D). In an unusual move, Rendell appeared before the committee to testify in favor of the bills. He gave a 45 minute passionate speech, full of the usual anti-gun cliches: "If it saves one life ...," "Common sense ...," "We dont' want to take guns away from hunters...." Blah, blah, blah. Nowhere in his speed did he provide real reasons why the proposed laws would reduce crime.

HB-18 would allow local municipalities to enact their own gun control laws, repealing state preemption which was enacted in 1995. Its supporters contend that this is needed to fight crime.

HB-22 would enact one gun per month legislation. It was put forth as a means of fighting straw purchases.

HB-29 would make it a crime for a gun owner to fail to report to the police the loss of theft of a gun. This was proposed as a means of assisting law enforcement in tracing guns later used in crimes.

HB-18 failed by a vote of 19-10. HB-22 failed 17-12. HB-29 was tabled for later consideration. It is expected to be reintroduced later after its sponsors "fix" certain provisions which other members of the committee had previously expressed reservations about. The motion to table came from the bill's sponsor, Rep. Jewell Williams (D-Philly), who saw that otherwise it was about to go down in flames.

One bill did make it out of committee. It would enhance penalties for killing or attempting to kill police officers.

Afterwards, Rep. Ronald Marsico (R - Dauphin County) reamed Rendell, "Public safety has not been a priority for this governor," and proceeded to catalog a list of ways in which the governor has failed to take meaningful steps to fight crime, such as putting more police on the streets.

Also afterwards, a rep who's name I didn't catch pleaded with the committee for limited gun control measure, such as enacting laws with a 1 or 2 year sunset provision. His desperation was evident.

The NRA and local PA RKBA groups had blitzed PA gun owners with warnings about these bills. There was a decent turnout of pro-liberty folks, not much turnout from the gun banners except for the usual police officers sent for Rendell's photo-op.

Except for a few areas in Pennsylvania (most notably Philadelphia), gun control remains very unpopular. Voting in favor of gun control legislation in most of PA is considered a sure way to get fired by the voters. We'll have to work to keep it that way.

State RKBA Provisions

This post is in response to a very fair question asked by reader Don Armstrong in reply to my Ammo Day post.

When the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791, it was seen as a set of restrictions upon the federal government, not upon the states. It wasn't until after the Civil War and the enactment of the 14th Amendment that the BoR was seen as applying to the states.

What throws a wrench into the mix is the doctrine of "incorporation" which was adopted by the Supreme Court, the highest court in the country. Essentially, this means that until the court "incorporates" a particular amendment in the BoR against the states in a decision, the states can take the position that it does not apply to them.

With respect to the meaning of the Second Amendment, it refers to "the people," which is a term of art used in several places in the Constitution and BoR. In ruling on other parts of the BoR, the Supreme Court has always held that "the people" refers to individuals, not some collective. The court has even referred to the Second Amendment as an individual right in passing, in cases regarding other parts of the Constitution. E.g., US vs. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990).

Yesterday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to hear the Heller case, which challenged the District of Columbia's handgun ban on Second Amendment grounds. D.C. was a good venue for asserting the Second Amendment because it is a Federal territory, not state, so whether the Second Amendment is incorporated against the states is irrelevant.

What makes Heller so important is that it's the first time in 70 years that the court will be directly addressing the Second Amendment and whether it's a fundamental, individual right. "Fundamental right" is another legal term of art, and if the court does hold that the Second is one, then it will incorporate it against the states.

OK, so what about state constitutional provisions on the right to keep and bear arms?

The wording of state RKBA provisions varies quite a bit by state. 43 of 50 states do have such provisions, however. Some of those provisions are weak, e.g., Illinois's provision subordinates the RKBA to the police power, effectively rendering it moot.

In contrast, other states have very strong RKBA provisions, e.g., Pennsylvania. Pennsyvlania's constitional provision reads, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned." (Pa. Const. Article I, Section 21.) It has been recognized by the state supreme court -- the final arbiter of what PA state laws mean -- as an individual right.

There is a list of every state's RKBA provision located at

What about the National Guard?

The National Guard was created in 1903.  The militia referred to in the Second Amendment were the various state militias, consisting of able bodied men who provided their own arms and ammunition.

Monday, November 19, 2007

National Ammo Day/Week

It's National Ammo Day/Week.  Participate in the buycott.  It's for the children.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

PA Call To Action

From Harry S. of the Pennsylvania Sportsman's Association:


It would be helpful if a significant number of pro 2nd Amendment supporters are in attendance Tuesday morning. The Pennsylvania House Committee Votes on the anti-rights bills (HB 18, HB 22, and HB 29) are scheduled Tuesday November 20 at 10:00 AM.

This extraordinary Judiciary Committee meeting has been moved to a much larger room: Room 140 Main Capitol.

It appears that the Governator is planning to pack the larger room with those who seek to demonize gun owners. Therefore, it is ok if you openly ask your members to attend if possible.

It will help if numbers of sportsmen and sportswomen attend - preferably wearing business casual. The media will try to get pictures of people who are dressed inappropriately or who are acting inappropriately in an attempt to portray gun owners as undisciplined.

Guns and knives cannot be carried in the Capitol - it is also a courthouse.
The only gun lockers are in the lower rear entrance.

Please avoid inflammatory signs and do not be baited into making inflammatory statements.

Please meet at the steps of the Rotunda no later than 9:30 AM and obtain 2nd Amendment badges from Melody Zullinger, Executive Director of the Federation of Sportsmen Clubs. And PLEASE comply with all direction from Melody.

We will all be judged based upon how the participants dress and act.

It is important to keep these bills in committee.

Thank you,

Harry Sxxxxxxx
Legislative Committee, Chairman
Pennsylvania Sportsmen's Association

Governor Rendell plans to take an unprecedented step and personally attend Tuesday’s PA House Judiciary Committee meeting to attack gun owners and our constitutional freedoms by forcing bad legislation (HB 18, HB 22, and HB 29) out of committee.
Please contact members of the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee today and keep it up through Tuesday morning.
The Committee Votes are scheduled Tuesday November 20 at 10:00 AM.
Phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses are at the end of this message. PLEASE USE THEM.

At the request of Governor Ed Rendell (D), the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a meeting for Tuesday, November 20 at 10:00am, to vote on several anti-gun measures. The package of bills include one-gun-a-month, a requirement for individuals to report lost or stolen firearms, and legislation that would overturn Pennsylvania’s current preemption law.

House Bill 18, sponsored by State Representative Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), would further provide for limitations on the regulation of firearms and ammunition by local municipalities. State preemption regulating firearms was enacted by the legislature to avoid the possibility of thousands of separate firearm laws across the Commonwealth. Without preemption there would be a myriad of local firearms laws making compliance impossible for law abiding gun owners. In addition, this proposed legislation may also be in conflict with Article 1, Section 21 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania which states "The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned."

House Bill 22, "one-gun-a-month" legislation, sponsored by State Representative John Myers (D-Philadelphia), will prohibit law-abiding citizens from purchasing more than one handgun at a time, and impose a 30-day waiting period between single handgun purchases.

House Bill 29, "Lost or Stolen Firearms” legislation, sponsored by State Representative Jewell Williams (D-Philadelphia), would make it a crime to fail to report the loss or theft of a firearm to police within 24 hours of discovering the firearm missing. This proposal would criminalize victims of crime and is ineffective.

**For more in-depth information on these issues please go to this link –

The following organizations are on record as opposing this legislation:

Allegheny County Sportsmen's League (ACSL),
Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs (PFSC),
Pennsylvania Sportsmen's Association (PSA),
National Rifle Association (NRA),
Gun Owners of America (GOA),
Second Amendment Sisters (SAS),
Pennsylvania Rifle and Pistol Association (PR&PA),
Pennsylvania Gun Collectors Association (PGCA)
Lehigh Valley Firearms Coalition,
Philadelphia Federation of Sportsmen's Club,
Pennsylvania Gun Owners Association (PGOA)
Unified Sportsmen of Pennsylvania (Unified)
National Association of Firearms Retailers (NAFR),
Pennsylvania State Fish & Game Protective Association,
The Pink Pistols
Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association (PAFOA)
National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSA)
Western Pennsylvania 30 Caliber League, Inc
Firearms Owners Against Crime (FOAC) the largest gun owners Political Action Committee (PAC) in Pennsylvania will record any support for any of this legislation, now or in the future, as an anti-gun vote.

It is imperative that you contact the following members of the House Judiciary Committee TODAY through Tuesday to strongly encourage them to OPPOSE this package of anti-gun rights bills! PLEASE focus your efforts on the Committee Leaders and then the ‘Uncommitted Group’ and then the listed ‘Pro-2nd Amendment’ group.

**Representatives listed below are Committee Leadership

State Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone (D-127), Majority Chairman
106 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202127
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2127
(717) 787-3525
Fax: (717) 772-5401

State Representative Ron Marsico (R-105), Minority Chairman
218 Ryan Office Building
PO Box 202105
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2105
(717) 783-2014
Fax: (717) 705-2010

State Representative Daylin Leach (D-149), Secretary
109A East Wing
PO Box 202149
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2149
(717) 783-9114
Fax: (717) 787-0861

**Representatives listed below are Pro 2nd Amendment

State Representative Deberah Kula (D-52)
104A East Wing
PO Box 202052
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2052
(717) 772-1858
Fax: (717) 780-4784

State Representative Joseph A. Petrarca (D-55)
220 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202055
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2055
(717) 787-5142
Fax: (717) 705-2014

State Representative Jesse White (D-46)
102B East Wing
PO Box 202046
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2046
(717) 783-6437

State Representative Tom C. Creighton (R-37)
400 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202037
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2037
(717) 772-5290
Fax: (717) 783-1904

State Representative Craig A. Dally (R-138)
211 Ryan Office Building
PO Box 202138
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2138
(717) 783-8573
Fax: (717) 705-1849

State Representative John R. Evans (R-5)
B12 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202005
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2005
(717) 772-9940
Fax: (717) 772-7099

State Representative Will Gabig (R-199)
410 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202199
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2199
(717) 772-2280
Fax: (717) 705-2012

State Representative Glen R. Grell (R-87)
404 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202087
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2087
(717) 783-2063
Fax: (717) 772-8418

State Representative Kate Harper (R-61)
149A East Wing
PO Box 202061
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2061
(717) 787-2801
Fax: (717) 787-2022

State Representative Beverly Mackereth (R-196)
7 East Wing
PO Box 202196
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2196
(717) 783-2655
Fax: (717) 772-9869

State Representative Todd Rock (R-90)
162A East Wing
PO Box 202090
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2090
(717) 783-5218
Fax: (717) 260-6505

State Representative Katie True (R-41)
143A East Wing
PO Box 202041
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2041
(717) 705-7161
Fax: (717) 705-1946

State Representative Tina Pickett (R-110)
155A East Wing
PO Box 202110
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2110
(717) 783-8238
Fax: (717) 705-1949

**Representatives listed below are Uncommitted on these issues

State Representative John E. Pallone (D-54)
325 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202054
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2054
(717) 783-1819
Fax: (717) 772-9984

State Representative Don Walko (D-20)
121 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202020
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2020
(717) 787-5470
Fax: (717) 783-0407

State Representative Sean M. Ramaley (D-16)
323 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202016
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2016
(717) 787-4444

State Representative Carl W. Mantz (R-187)
53B East Wing
PO Box 202187
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2187
(717) 787-3017
Fax: (717) 772-9869

**Representatives listed below are dedicated Anti 2nd Amendment Fanatics

State Representative Kathy Manderino (D-194)
125 East Wing
PO Box 202194
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2194
(717) 787-1254
Fax: (717) 780-4770

State Representative Lisa Bennington (D-21)
6A East Wing
PO Box 202021
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2021
(717) 705-7011
Fax: (717) 780-4761

State Representative Dan Frankel (D-23)
217 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202023
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2023
(717) 705-1875
Fax: (717) 705-2034

State Representative Harold James (D-186)
317 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202186
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2186
(717) 787-9477
Fax: (717) 787-7517

State Representative Greg Vitali (D-16)
103B East Wing
PO Box 202166
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2166
(717) 787-7647
Fax: (717) 705-2089

State Representative Jewell Williams (D-197)
101 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202197
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2197
(717) 772-2004
Fax: (717) 787-2284

State Representative Bernie O'Neill (R-29)
B13 Main Capitol Building
PO Box 202029
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2029
(717) 705-7170
Fax: (717) 783-3278

State Representative Chelsa Wagner (D-22)
109 Irvis Office Building
PO Box 202022
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2022
(717) 783-1582
Fax: (717) 780-4755

State Representative Bryan R. Lentz (D-161)
106B East Wing
PO Box 202161
Harrisburg, PA 17120-2161
(717) 787-8574
Fax: (717) 780-4777

I'm going to try to be there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mac OS 10.4.11 Update

For Mac users still running OS 10.4 Tiger, Apple released the latest major update, 10.4.11 yesterday.  It's a 128 MB download which according to Apple, includes security and compatibility updates.  It also includes Safari 3.0.4, which is now out of beta.

Before installing major OS X updates it's a good idea to fix disk permissions and verify your hard disk's file structure.  When I did so this morning I discovered that there was a minor problem with the volume header for my MacBook Pro's drive.  Since Disk Utility cannot fix volumes from which your machine is currently booted, I had to wait until I got home to boot the MBP from my OS X install CD1.  Once the OS X installer loads, you can then go into the Utilities menu and run Disk Utility to repair the disk.

Once finished with housekeeping I rebooted from the hard disk and ran the 10.4.11 update from the .dmg file I downloaded this afternoon.  Maybe it's an illusion, but the system seems a little snappier.

I'm experimenting with Safari 3.0.4.  It still doesn't work correctly with Blogger's post composition page.  E.g., if you try to paste text into the Compose box, the text appears on the page below the Publish Post and Save Now buttons.  On the other hand, it's fast.

I will post follow ups if I run into any issues related to the update.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Some House Work

The latest projects we've undertaken around the house have been to put a new tile floor and toilet in our downstairs powder room, and completely remodel the second bathroom upstairs. We had hoped to put this off for a few more years but the sheetrock surrounding the tub upstairs finally completely gave way, so we had little choice.

We used our usual plumber as our contractor. He took care of our master bathroom when we got that redone in 2005, did a great job, so we didn't even consider anything else.

The powder room was finished about two weeks ago and the upstairs bathroom this week. As with the master bath, I handled painting. I hate painting but can do it pretty well, so doing it myself saved me a few hundred bucks. I painted the walls and ceiling before the fixtures were installed, which makes it a lot easier. Today I'm wrapping up by painting the door. As I write this I'm waiting for the primer coat to dry. I'll put on a coat of semigloss in about an hour or so.

The next big home project will be to have our driveway dug up and repaved. I am really hoping to wait a few years on that, however.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mini-14 Rear Sight Removal

I've previously written about the stainless Ruger Mini-14 GB that I bought last year, and which turned out to have a broken rear sight. Windage adjustment was difficult and limited. A couple of weeks ago I got a complete replacements sight assembly from Brownell's.

JasonAC556 at the PerfectUnion BBS provided the following instructions for removing the old rear sight, which worked:

1. Take a small punch and remove the pin that holds the windage screw captive. You will see it on the right side of the sight assembly as you shoulder the rifle.

2. Depress the windage adjustment pin on the left side of the assembly and unscrew the windage adjustment knob until it slides free of the assembly. Be careful to keep the adjustment pin captive so it doesn't fly across the room.

3. Carefully lift up on the back of the sight assembly. The elevation adjustment pin spring and pin will drop free from the bottom of the sight assembly, so be careful not to lose these.

4. You're done!!

I wanted to reproduce the instructions here so that it'll be easier to find by others.

I'm looking forward to getting the Mini-14 out and zeroed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Tasty Finale to the Weekend

This morning J. and her mother took the girls down to Maryland, to see her grandmother. I got to do errands.

After getting back home I spent some time getting reacquainted with my Remington Woodsman 1985 Bullet Knife out back. I also sampled some Latakia pipe tobacco from a tin I picked up on closeout for $2.00 at Holt's. Pretty nice.

Later on we barbecued some steaks. I had a WTF? moment when our gas grill would only half light. The left side fired up OK but not the right. I could hear the gas when I opened up the right side but it wouldn't light. It may be escaping before it gets to the right half of the burner bar. I've already replaced the burner bar and igniter once, and the replacement igniter died on me earlier this year. We've had the grill about five years and even though I keep it covered, parts seem to deteriorate a bit rapidly. I'm not going to sink any more money into it. I think it'll be time for a new gas grill next Spring.

With the gas grill on the fritz I uncovered the Coleman outdoor fireplace/grill and got a bag of charcoal out of the shed. I'd rather cook on a charcoal fire anyway.

My steak was round eye that had been marinating in Jim Beam Bourbon all afternoon. There was just a little bit of Bourbon taste but it helped keep the meat from drying out. For J. and the girls I cooked up a couple T-bones (one is leftover), which had been sprinkled with Lowrey's Seasoned Salt and garlic powder. I washed down my steak with a Hornsby's Hard Cider, a six-pack of which I picked up earlier today.

Not a bad way to finish the weekend at all.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Home Theater

I'm stuck at home today with a cold, or maybe allergies. It's hard to tell. The unusually warm weather we've had so far this Fall have wrought havoc with my allergies.

Partial consolation for dealing with the congestion and snot is that I get to use my new home theater setup. We got an Olevia 227 LCD HDTV a couple of months ago. Picture quality is pretty good but the audio sucks. There's an omnipresent hum at low volumes. When this got to be really annoying I went online and did some research, and it's apparently a design defect. There's inadequate RF shielding between the LCD backlight and the built-in speakers. The only was to get rid of the hum is to use external speakers. (I did email Olevia customer support but they blew me off. This will be the last Olevia product we ever buy.)

Naturally, to use external speakers you need to use an amplifier. I've had a set of Polk Audio bookshelf speakers that I bought in 1990, but didn't have a modern amp. My old amp and tuner were 1979 vintage Onkyos (given to me by an uncle after he upgraded his stereo system). They still sound good but the speaker selector needed repair and of course, didn't have a remote control.

When it comes to home AV components naturally the sky's the limit on how much you can spend. But, I didn't want to spend a ton of money for a new receiver. After doing some research, on Saturday I ordered an Onkyo TX-8222 receiver from Crutchfield. (I bought a couple car stereos from them in the early 1990s and liked the customer experience. This time it was just as good.)

The new receiver came yesterday. Considering I ordered it on a Saturday that's basically overnight, even though it was shipped UPS Ground. YMMV if you live further away.

I set it up with my DVD/VCR player, and cable set top box pumping their audio directly into the receiver, so they don't first pass through the TV. (I did try it the latter way at first but volume was unacceptably low.) With the direct-to-receiver configuration, though, the system sounds great.

Onkyo sells an iPod dock as an accessory. I'm considering buying one since most of my music is on my iPod, and this would be a very convenient way of listening to it at home. OTH, I am toying around with eventually picking up a Mac Mini to add to the system. The Olevia has a VGA input which would handle the Mini's video, and I'd just need an audio cable to run from the computer to the receiver. This would allow me to listen to and view everything I have in iTunes on my TV, along with home movies I make in iDVD. And with a Bluetooth keyboard, I could surf the Internet on a 27" monitor.

But I digress.

Onkyo supplies an AM loop antenna and an FM wire antenna. Reception is OK but nothing great, depending on the station. I'll probably build up a better FM antenna.

So far I'm pretty pleased with the Onkyo TX-8222. It's a good, basic home stereo receiver. It has 6 audio inputs and built-in AM/FM stereo with 50W per channel, which is sufficient to provide clear audio at any volume I'll be using. It doesn't have fancy surround sound but the audio sure blows away any system I've ever owned. The warranty on parts and labor is two years. For under $200 delivered it's a great value.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vehicular Preps

I have a post today about some additional vehicular preps for winter. Check it out.

Updates to The Shooter's Bar

I updated The Shooter's Bar yesterday, including an addition for Indiana.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Off to Denver

Today I'm flying out to Denver, CO for a meeting tomorrow at CableLabs. I'll be flying home Wednesday.

Last night I went through my laptop bag to make sure I don't have any dangerous contraband, like my multitools. Grrrr. Since I can't stand being without at least a pocketknife for more than a day, my Victorinox SwissTool RS, Pioneer Farmer, and my Benchmade Griptilian were placed in a bag which I'll check.

I wonder how many checked bags can be attributed to the stupid ban on pocketknives? I can carry pointed scissors in my carry on bag, as long as the blades are less than 4 inches (~10 cm) in length. So why can't I carry a Swiss Army Knife?

In the aftermath of 9/11, who thinks that it would be possible to hijack an airliner with a knife? The would-be hijacker would get beaten to a pulp by the other passengers.

It's security theater plain and simple.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A Couple Posts at My Other Blog

I have a couple of new posts over on the Survival and Emergency Preparedness Blog. One's on my new Valiant Trading Company Large Survival Golok, and the other is on Mainstay Ration Bars.

Check 'em out.

Friday, October 12, 2007

PA School Massacre Plot ... Or Not?

By now you may have heard the news story about a disturbed teen being arrested for plotting a school massacre in Plymouth Meeting, PA. He's said to have an "arsenal." I have a particular interest in this, since I've lived in Plymouth Meeting since 1979 and graduated from PWHS in 1986.

Something stinks about this. Consider the following:

  • The "arsenal" consisted of mostly airsoft, i.e., airguns that shoot plastic pellets.
  • The DA has stated that while he believes the kid is disturbed, no attack was imminent or even truly in the works.
  • The kid may have solicited another student to help him. I'd really like to know what he said to someone else, if anything.
  • The mom owned a couple of real guns but didn't even keep them at her home.

This morning, we hear that the mom was charged with several felonies: endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful transfer of firearms, and aiding the possession of a firearm by a minor.

Heck, I had a much more impressive, real arsenal by the time I was 14. I am far from unusual even in this day and age. I wonder how many parents could be charged with the above counts because they allowed minors access to firearms. I bet it would be in the millions.

It's almost as if the kid got overheard talking smack like most 14 year olds do, someone overreacted, so he got arrested. The DA then decided there wasn't a real threat, but now the dog and pony show is started and to finish it, they have to charge somebody for something. Another interesting tidbit: DA Castor is currently running for Plymouth Township Commissioner, so there may be a political motivation.

I sure hope that the mom isn't getting Knifonged.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fred Thompson Quote From the Debate

I didn't get a chance to watch yesterday's debate but someone posted the following FDT quote on Arfcom:

I don't buy the concept that any reduction in taxes is lost revenues to the government. The tax payers haven't lost it, it's in their pocket. They know exactly where to find it. We shouldn't confuse the wealth of government with the Wealth of Nations.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A Couple New Knife Posts

I have a couple of new posts over on the Survival & Emergency Preparedness Blog about knives. Check 'em out.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thoughts About Survival Knives

I have a new post, "Thoughts About Survival Knives," over on the Survival and Emergency Preparedness Blog. Check it out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fire Starting Practice

Over on my Survival and Emergency Preparedness Blog I have a couple of recent posts about starting fires. You can check them out here and here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years

I feel the need to memorialize September 11, 2001. It was the Pearl Harbor of my generation.

Last year I wrote of our failure to address the real cause of 9/11 -- the Islamic atittude that it is acceptable to murder non-believers in the name of spreading the faith. Not much has changed on that front. In some ways, we're worse off. For example, November 2006 saw the Democrats take power in the House and Senate, based largely on an anti-war platform. While Bush et al. haven't fully taken the war to the enemy, the Democrats want to fall back on diplomacy, a tactic which time and again has been seen as a sign of weakness by the Islamics.

The biggest American political issue in the past year was illegal immigration. Unfortunately, the flow of illegals across the US-Mexican border is not limited to people looking for better economic prospects. Thousands of "Other Than Mexicans" or "OTMs" also sneak across. And many of them are from the Middle East, sneaking into the country with no doubt nefarious purposes. (Lest anyone accuse me of xenophobia, I am in favor of legal immigration of people who will make a positive contribution to America. But illegal immigrants are by definition, criminals. While many of them are seeking better lives through work, many are here to take advantage of the American welfare state. Witness the collapsing hospital systems in California.)

Meanwhile, the US government continues to treat its own citizens as more serious potential threats. E.g., in the form of the degrading harassment by TSA agents at airports. Jerry Pournelle calls this "anarcho-tyranny." It's as good a term as any, I suppose.

Before you know it we'll be memorializing the tenth anniversary of 9/11/01. I expect that not much will have changed, unless some Islamics carry off another successful attack on American soil. In that case, things will get worse.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Certificate Warning

I received the following note this morning from a reader:

Unable to verify the identity of as a trusted site.
Possible reasons for this error:
-Your browser does not recognize the Certificate Authority that
issued the site's certificate.
-The site's certificate is incomplete due to a server
-Your are connedted to a site pretending to be,
possibly to obtain your confidential information.
Please notify the site's webmaster about this problem.
Before accepting this certificate, you should examine this site's
certificate carefully. Are you willing to accept this certificate
for the purpose of identifying the Web site

It's due to the link down there on the right for donating to Fred Thompson's campaign. If you don't accept the certificate, the only thing you'll be blocked from accessing is a way to donate to his campaign.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Savage Rimfires Revisited

After a couple of years worth of procrastinating, I finally installed the two Rifle Basix sears I bought for my Savage 93GL .22 Magnum and Mark IIGL .22LR. Both rifles are quite accurate, but came from the factory hampered with heavy trigger pulls. (They were made before Savage put the AccuTriggers on their rimfire rifles.)

I did the 93GL yesterday, and managed to lose an e-clip which retains one of the pins in the fire control group. {grumble, grumble} As a replacement, I took a paper-covered wire twisty tie, burned the paper off, and wrapped it around the pin, making sure the wire was seated in the groove for the e-clip. I then snipped the ends of the tie, and put a drop of Ballistol on it to prevent corrosion. It should work fine, since once the action is in the stock there's no room for the pin to back out.

This morning I did the Mark IIGL. The process was easier the second time around and this time I didn't lose any parts.

Both rifles now have markedly lighter trigger pulls. However, there is still some creep. I'm a bit dissappointed in that. However, they should be much easier to shoot now.

Having recently moved the scope that was on the .22 Magnum over to my RWS 34 air rifle, I needed new optics for the 93GL. So, on Friday I ordered another Nikon 4x32mm ProStaff rimfire scope for it from Natchez Shooters Supply. 4x is plenty, IMO. I have one of these Nikons on my Ruger 10/22 and it's the scope I recommend for any .22 rifle. It's a nice piece of glass, very clear, with excellent light transmission.

I will post a range report after I shoot the rifles.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Fred Thompson to Announce September 6

It's official, Fred Thompson will throw his hat into the ring on September 6th.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Counter Protest

Over at The War on Guns, David Codrea is coordinating a counter-protest to Jesse Jackson's 8/28 anti-gun protest. His suggestion: buy a gun or some ammunition tomorrow while the anti-gun extremists are protesting.

Do it for the children.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Marlin 336 .30-30

I put up a post about my Marlin 336 .30-30, over on the Survival and Emergency Preparedness Blog. Please check it out.

Another Use For Parallels

Earlier this week we got a potential issue with our gateways escalated to us. A customer running a Microsoft Windows server as a VPN terminator was experiencing problems with established tunnels getting disconnected.

Unfortunately, I was out of the office when it got sent to us, so I don't yet have sufficient information to properly troubleshoot it. I'm hoping to get further details soon, but in the interim I setup Windows 2003 in a Parallels virtual machine this morning. If the customer gets back to us I can use W2K3 running on my MacBook Pro as my test box.

It's a lot more cost effective creating virtual test boxes than having to keep real servers around for testing. Not to mention, no additional space is required.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Apple's Laptop Market Share at 17.6%

Wow! According to this article on Macworld, Apple's share the of the notebook computer market has climbed to 17.6%. When you consider how many users are moving to laptops as their primary machines, this shows how much the Mac's market share is increasing.

Fred Thomspon on the RKBA

Some great commentary on New York and the Second Amendment, from Fred Thompson:

When I was working in television, I spent quite a bit of time in New York City. There are lots of things about the place I like, but New York gun laws don’t fall in that category.

Anybody who knows me knows I’ve always cared deeply about the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. So I’ve always felt sort of relieved when I flew back home to where that particular civil liberty gets as much respect as the rest of the Bill of Rights.

Go read the whole thing.

Back in the office

I'm back in the office today after a vacation day on Monday and attending the PBI's Technology Law Forum yesterday.

We had family visit us over the weekend, arriving Sunday and leaving Monday morning. A good time was had by all.

As with the many other PBI CLE classes I've attended, the Tech Law Forum yesterday was very well done. There was one session which I felt was only so-so, but nothing's perfect. I was able to take care of half of my annual CLE requirement, including the ethics credit. (In PA, lawyers must take 12 hours of CLE per year, including 1 hour of ethics.)

This morning I had to do a quick test in the lab of a new feature on one of our commercial cable modems. We got word from someone testing the new firmware (not yet released to production) that it wasn't working. I tested it in the lab and it worked as expected. Shortly thereafter, we found out that the reason the new feature didn't appear to work was that the person reporting the "problem" had their modem connected to a production network, so it was automatically downgrading the box to the production firmware after a reboot. Duh.

For the past several days it's been rainy but much cooler than it was last week. It's been a nice break but it's supposed to warm up again by Friday. I'm ready for Fall.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Changing the Default Terminal in

By default, Apple's implementation of X11 starts an xterm at launch. I wanted to change this to automatically start mrxvt instead. To do so you need to edit the file /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.

Open a terminal and then open the xinitrc file in your preferred editor, using sudo. E.g.:

$ cd /etc/X11/xinit
$ sudo vi xinitrc

You'll need to enter your password. Once the file is open look for the lines which read:

# start some nice programs

xterm &

Put a hash mark/pound sign in front of the second line above to comment it out. I've installed mrxvt using MacPorts, so to start it with a black background and green text, I entered the following line:

/opt/local/bin/mrxvt -bg black -fg green &

Then, save and quit. If you're using vi like me, you'll need to use save the file using the exclamation point to override the read-only setting on the file, e.g:

Now my preferred terminal emulator program starts when I fire up X11 on my MacBook Pro.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I've been spending a fair amount of time lately in a terminal. OS X includes and Apple's implementation of X11 automatically starts an xterm when launched. is OK for working on my Mac but doesn't behave quite the same way as a regular xterm when I'm logged into a Linux box vi SSH. Neither nor xterm have one feature that I find very useful, tabbed windows.

I was using UniTTy for awhile but screen refreshes are slow. Awhile ago, I ran iTerm but ran into problems with how it handled different keystrokes.

So the other day I decided to give MacPorts a try and installed mrxvt, formerly known as materm. It's based on rxvt, a terminal emulator widely used on Linux systems, but adds tabs. Here's a screenshot:

Click on the pic for a larger version.

As you can see, I have it setup with the tab bar at the top using a black background with green characters. I find this color scheme easy on my eyes and is how I prefer to run terminals; the default is black characters on a white background.

So far, mrxvt seems stable and fast. the only disadvantage it has compared with is that I have to run X11 to use it, but otherwise it's very good so far.


The other day I bought all fourteen episodes of Firefly from the Apple iTunes store. I've heard a lot of good things about Fireful, but so far I've not watched any of the series, nor seen the movie Serenity. So far, I've watched the first four episodes.

I am convinced that the network executives who canceled it should be fired.

Firefly is damn good. The basic premise is that the Earth got "used up," so another star system was settled, after many of its planets and moons were terraformed. After settlement, some of the core worlds in the form of "The Alliance" wanted to create a centralized government ruling the entire system. Not everyone agreed, so there was a civil war, but The Alliance prevailed. The show is set six years after the end of the war.

One very interesting thing about the show is the western motif, with a mix of high-tech next to people riding horses, and many of the costumes look like they'd fit in at the OK Corral. (This was a theme Robert Heinlein used in Time Enough for Love, by the way.) The soundtrack sounds like a western rather than SF.

A western wouldn't be complete without gunplay. There's in interesting mix of firearms. In one episode I saw side by side shotguns, a Sako TRG sniper rifle (I think that's what it was), wheelguns, and pump shotguns.

What really makes the show work, of course, are the strong characters and interesting plotlines. Technology -- whether 19th C. or 26th C. -- provides a backdrop to the story. It isn't the story itself.

I also find it interesting that the heroes of the show are those who opposed the strong central government. Coming out of Hollywood, a bastion of leftist groupthink, that's quite refreshing.

After I watch all of Firefly's episodes I will be buying Serenity.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Hot Saturday

Well, I wound up not going to the range today. It was already in the mid-80s and humid by 10:00 AM, with the forecast being for mid-90s by the afternoon. Blech. I was planning to go to Wicen's Range but the firing line isn't covered. I didn't want to sit out in the hot sun so I bagged it. Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler so maybe I'll sneak out for a little while.

I did get something accomplished, however. My orders from Brownell's and MidwayUSA arrived on Thursday. The Brownell's order was a Limbsaver recoil pad for my Stoeger Uplander, while the MidwayUSA order was a few different kinds of 20 gauge ammunition. One box each of Federal #8s and #9s, along with four boxes of #3 buck, plus two boxes of Remington #3 buck. All 2-3/4" shells. I also got a two-pack of A-Zoom snap caps and a couple more .50 caliber ammo cans.

I wiped down the ammo cans (they were pretty clean to start with) and put the shotgun ammo in one. I filled the other with 800 rounds of Prvi Partizan 5.56MM M-193 that I got a few weeks ago from AIM Surplus. I have one 200 round sleeve left over, which I think I have room for in one of my other cans. My Brother P-Touch was then used to make labels for the can so I know what's in them.

After getting the ammo squared away I mounted the Limbsaver on the Stoeger. I'd already shortened the stock so I just needed to use the included template to locate the screw holes for the pad, then sand it to fit.

the next time I put a recoil pad on something I will use a dummy block of wood to hold it, because I managed to scrape the stock a few times with my belt sander, even through the masking tape. A professional gunsmith I'm not.

Dinged up stock aside, I'm really looking forward to trying the Stoeger with the new butt pad. With target loads it was pleasant to shoot even with the OEM hard plastic buttplate. The soft, cushy Limbsaver should make it really nice.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Packet Sniffing

I mentioned in my previous post that I've been collecting data for a couple of our vendors to help fix some bugs discovered by our field. One of the problems concerns FTP PASV mode, so the vendor wanted packet traces of the failed and successful connections.

I used Wireshark on my MacBook Pro to get the traces. Unfortunately for my purposes today, traces from on of the FTP servers I was connecting to contained a password that I did not want to disclose (FTP sends passwords in plain text, which is why SFTP or SCP are better options when available).

So, to sanitize the TCPDUMP file before shipping it off to $VENDOR, I used the command line tool editcap to delete from it the packet containing my password. Unfortunately, the binary version of Wireshark I installed on my Mac didn't include editcap.

Parallels to the rescue. I fired up my CentOS 5 virtual machine, installed the complete Wireshark package via "yum install wireshark," and was then able to run:

# editcap foo.pcap sanitized.pcap 10

This took the capture file called foo.pcap, stripped out the 10th packet (which contained my password) and then created a new file called sanitized.pcap.

I could then safely send off the capture file.


This week I got to spend more time in the lab than I have in awhile. I was investigating four bug reports for two different products. I was able to replicate two of the bugs but the others eluded me. Hopefully the data I collected will be used by our vendors to fix the problems.

This morning I bade farewell to Judith and the girls. They are going down to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware today and will be returning tomorrow night. This will be the girls' first time at the beach, so I'm hoping that J. remembers to pick up a disposable camera to record the event. (We decided against taking our digital camera to the beach, due to the sand.)

While I love the beach, I haven't been able to enjoy it for several years. About ten years ago I noticed that too much sun exposure causes me to break out in hives. Obviously, the amount of sun you get at the shore exacerbates this. I've tried a variety of sunblock but until about three weeks ago nothing helped. I think I've finally found one that'll allow me to stay in the sun longer -- it's meant for infants with an SPF of 60. We use it on Amanda. I used it a few weeks ago at a pool party and didn't break out, even after three hours in the sun.

With the girls gone I can hang out and do whatever I want. Hookers and blow ain't my thing, so "whatever I want" means that maybe I'll just drink beer, belch out loud, and watch Star Wars tonight. If I feel wild maybe I'll leave the toilet seat up.

Tomorrow I plan to go shooting. I'd like to get my Marlin 336 sighted in with the receiver sight I mounted earlier this year. I've also been thinking of playing musical scopes again. My Savage 93GL .22 magnum currently wears a Bushnell Trophy 6-18x scope, which is really too big. I may move the Nikon 4x32mm Prostaff scope from my 10/22 to the Savage. 4x is plenty of magnification for out to 100 yards or a bit more.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Updates to The Shooter's Bar

I have made some updates to The Shooter's Bar:

  • Updated the information for David McCleary of Michigan,
  • Added Michael Douglas King of Georgia, and
  • Added Daniel Stoner of Oklahoma.
The Shooter's Bar remains, as far as I know, the oldest and largest freely-available online list of pro-gun attorneys. I started it as a free public service in 1997 on FidoNet and shortly thereafter migrated it over to the Web. Attorneys who wish to be listed should send me an email with the following information:

  • Name
  • Firm
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Fax
  • Email address
  • Website URL
  • Bar admissions
  • Areas of practice
  • The RKBA organizations to which you belong
You do not need to be a firearms lawyer to be listed, you just need to be pro-individual RKBA.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Setting up a Backup Email Server

Tomorrow I'm scheduled to install a mail server at my main client's second office. This will serve as a backup MX to their primary mail server, in case the Internet connection drops at their main office, or the primary MX fails in some way.

For extra redundancy, the second office has a different ISP than the main office, so if their ISP suffers a system-wide outage, the second office shouldn't be affected.

I pretty much duplicated the primary MX's configuration, with the exception of setting the box up as a secondary MX, per the instructions on

For hardware I recycled the HP tc2120 server that I installed at the main office several years ago. It originally ran SuSE (v8, IIRC) plus CommuniGate Pro. (I like CGP, but it's very expensive and doesn't do anything for this client that open source software won't do.) This box was replaced with a Dell SC440 running CentOS 4.4, Postfix, Dovecot, Squirrelmail, and MailScanner last Fall. The reborn HP is running the same software. The only hardware upgrade was to bump the RAM from 256 to 768 by adding a 512 MB DIMM from Crucial.

Once the backup MX is in place I need to take a look see at the office's network infrastructure, so that I can recommend a file server and backup option for the site.

Fun stuff!

A BEST BUY in Chicagoland

Or, making gun grabbing schmucks look stupid.

Over on THR, "Templar223" recounts his tale of gathering up a pile of old, mostly non-functional firearms (including a starter pistol which could only shoot blanks), taking them to a gun "buy back" in Chicago, and getting a $100 pre-paid credit card for each gun.

In the end ...

So, Guns Save Life ended up netting $1700 worth of MasterCards from the event after those who split their donations with the club were “paid” in cards. The club has sold a dozen of its own cards to members for cash.

The last five of the cards are going to be spent at Darrell’s Custom Guns in Cayuga, IN for two CZ bolt-action .22s to be given away to two lucky kids participating in the NRA Youth Shooting Camp coming up over the first weekend in August.

All of the money (and then some) will be spent purchasing ammo for the kids to use during the camp or the rifles. The camp, located in Bloomington at Darnall’s, is the longest running NRA Youth Shooting Camp in the nation.

NRA Youth Shooting Camps teach young people gun safety and safe and responsible firearm use. Kids get a chance to shoot shotguns, rifles, handguns, black powder guns, archery and so much more as instructed by State and/or NRA Certified Instructors (like me) and/or Olympic-level shooting coaches.

The value of training new shooters far exceeds that of the junky, rusty, pot metal that got turned it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My First eBay Autcion

I am selling a Crucial 1GB SODIMM RAM module on eBay. Please feel free to place a bid. :-)

It is still sealed in the factory antistatic bag, in the original Crucial shipping carton with the installation instructions. When I upgrade my MacBook Pro earlier this year, I ordered two modules when I should have ordered only one. My loss is your gain.

This is the first time I've put something on eBay, although I've bought several items there. I used GarageSale to create the auction page and list it. It's pretty intuitive. I bought it as part of a MacUpdate bundle last week. The main reason for my purchase of the bundle was the inclusion of Tech Tool Pro, which normally goes for $99. The whole bundle cost only $49.95.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

My Reintroduction to Scattergunning

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I bought a Stoeger Uplander 20 gauge side-by-side last week. I have always been much more of a rifle and handgun shooter, although I did some dove hunting with an H&R Topper 12, and a Pedersoli percussion 12 bore double many years ago. In the past 10 years I've probably fired less than 30 rounds through shotguns, mostly slugs through a Norinco 1897 trench gun which I subsequently traded off.

Anyway, today I went and did some trap shooting with my dad and brother. Aside from the Stoeger I also brought an H&R Topper 20 gauge. I bought this a year or two ago, mainly because it came with a .22 Hornet barrel. Today was the first time I fired it as a shotgun.

Before going to the range, I went over to Dick's Sporting Goods, where I bought the Stoeger, and picked up a couple boxes of Remington clay pidgeons, along with a box of Remington STS #9 shot target loads. I also had a 100 round value pack of Remington #8s.

We burned through all 125 rounds of 20 gauge ammo and both boxes of pidgeons. I did surprisingly well for someone who hasn't done any wingshooting in a decade or more. I figure I busted around half of the birds I shot at, even managing to bag a double or two.

The Stoeger weights a little over 7 lbs. and with the target loads was pleasant to shoot. I plan to shorten the stock a little to improve the fit, and add a recoil pad, because at some point I will try it with buckshot.

The H&R Topper weighs maybe 6 lbs. and kicked noticeably more, even with the thick factory recoil pad. I did pretty well with it but the Uplander is a lot more fun to shoot. The H&R would make a heck of a backpacking gun, though, since it's so light.

One thing caused some consternation, though. A number of the Remington bulk loads required two hits of the firing pin before going off. This occurred only with the Stoeger, never with the H&R, which really whacks the primer. I didn't experience this with any of the STS loads, only the bulk rounds, so I'm hoping it's the ammo. I plan to try some different ammo before thinking about sending the gun in for warranty service.

One of the reasons for getting the Uplander was as a potential home defense gun. I seem to shoot well with it but I'm reconsidering it for that role, as it has extractors, not ejectors. While I think that 2 rounds of 20 gauge buckshot should handle pretty much any HD situation, having to manually pull empties from the gun significantly slows a reload. I'm pretty sure that I don't want this in a defensive gun.

My brother brought his 870 along with a few boxes of Estate 12 gauge target loads. It was pretty obvious that he's spent more time with a scattergun than I have.

After we exhausted all our ammo we went and picked up enough unbusted clay birds (not just ours) to file 2+ boxes. So the next time we go trap shooting we don't even need to buy targets.

Today was fun. I plan to repeat the experience.

Hornet Follow Up

As it turns out, hornets are not covered by our contract with the exterminator. The call would've cost me about $100. To heck with that!

After getting home from the range and getting the guns inside (story for another thread) this afternoon, I ran out to Lowe's and bought two cans of Ortho Wasp and Hornet killer spray. The nasty foaming stuff.

At about 1700 hornet activity appeared to be low, so I hit the nest with a can. I was concerned that it wasn't getting fully saturated so I got out my pole saw and snipped the branch it was hanging from. As it dropped SPLAT! right into the puddle of Ortho that had dribbled off, I dropped the saw and ran like hell.

A few minutes later I snuck back into the yard, retrieved the spray, and emptied it onto the nest and a few hornets flitting around it.

A little while later I looked outside and saw a bunch of hornets hovering around where the nest used to be. Round two -- ON!

I emptied the second can onto the branches where I saw hornets resting or hovering around.

My backyard is now a chemical warfare zone.

Tomorrow I'll go check on the body count.

Unwanted neighbors

This morning I looked out the kitchen window and saw this:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's a fracking hornet's nest almost as big as a soccer ball. It's too high for me to reach with an improvised flamethrower and because I live in a surburban subdivision, I can't blast it with a shotgun. So, since we have a contract with a pest control company, they'll get to deal with it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Guns don't kill people, Phila. does

Running in the Philadelphia Inquirer, no less.


Guns don't kill people, Phila. does

By John Lott and Maxim Lott
When Mayor Street spent 15 hours waiting in line for an iPhone recently, the city was not impressed by his love of new technology. Rather, Street had to answer to a passerby asking, "How can you sit here with 200 murders in the city already?"

Local politicians say they know the source of the problem: the lack of gun control. Gov. Rendell recently complained the state legislature "has been in the control of the NRA." Street blames the increasing murder rate on "the dangerous proliferation of guns on our city streets." Last Tuesday, two City Council members announced the novel legal tactic of suing the state government to let Philadelphia pass its own gun laws.

The desire "to do something" is understandable, but new gun laws aren't the answer.

In the five years from 2001 to 2006, Philadelphia's murder rate soared more than 36 percent while nationally, the murder rate increased only 2 percent. Indeed, only two other cities in the top 40 experienced a sharper rise in murder rates, according to FBI crime statistics.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, July 16, 2007

D.C. Will Appeal Parker

It's official: Washington, D.C. is appealing Parker to the Supreme Court ("SCOTUS"), the Court of Appeals case which ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms, in the process striking down the thirty year old handgun ban in the capitol.

There is no guarantee that SCOTUS will grant certiorari, i.e., hear the appeal. However, the issue is ripe for SCOTUS to hear it, since there is a split among the circuits.

In my opinion, the chances for a decision favoring the individual-rights understanding are better now than they have been in decades.

Proposed OSHA Rule Yanked

Labor Department Announces It Will Revise Overreaching OSHA Explosives Rule

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it will significantly revise a recent proposal for new “explosives safety” regulations that caused serious concern among gun owners. OSHA had originally set out to update workplace safety regulations, but the proposed rules included restrictions that very few gun shops, sporting goods stores, shippers, or ammunition dealers could comply with.

Gun owners had filed a blizzard of negative comments urged by the NRA, and just a week ago, OSHA had already issued one extension for its public comment period at the request of the National Shooting Sports Foundation. After continued publicity through NRA alerts and the outdoor media, and after dozens of Members of Congress expressed concern about its impact, OSHA has wisely decided to go back to the drawing board.

Working with the NRA, Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) planned to offer a floor amendment to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill this Wednesday when the House considers this legislation. His amendment would have prohibited federal funds from being used to enforce this OSHA regulation.

Such an amendment is no longer necessary since Kristine A. Iverson, the Labor Department’s Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, sent Rep. Rehberg a letter, dated July 16, stating that it “was never the intention of OSHA to block the sale, transportation, or storage of small arms ammunition, and OSHA is taking prompt action to revise” this proposed rule to clarify the purpose of the regulation.

Also, working with the NRA, Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) gathered signatures from 25 House colleagues for a letter, dated July 11, expressing concerns about this proposed OSHA rule. The letter calling the proposal “an undue burden on a single industry where facts do not support the need outlined by this proposed rule” and “not feasible, making it realistically impossible for companies to comply with its tenets.”

The OSHA proposal would have defined “explosives” to include “black powder, … small arms ammunition, small arms ammunition primers, [and] smokeless propellant,” and treated these items the same as the most volatile high explosives.

Under the proposed rule, a workplace that contained even a handful of small arms cartridges, for any reason, would have been considered a “facility containing explosives” and therefore subject to many impractical restrictions. For example, no one could carry “firearms, ammunition, or similar articles in facilities containing explosives … except as required for work duties.” Obviously, this rule would make it impossible to operate any kind of gun store, firing range, or gunsmith shop.

The public comment website for the proposed rule is no longer accessible. The Labor Department will publish a notice in the July 17 Federal Register announcing that a new rule proposal will soon be drafted for public comment. Needless to say, the NRA monitors proposed federal regulations to head off this kind of overreach, and will be alert for OSHA’s next draft.

{H/T to Braz1956 at THR.}

New Boomstick - Stoeger Uplander

I had the hankering for a scattergun so yesterday I got a Stoeger Uplander 20 gauge SxS with 3" chambers and 26" barrels. It has extractors, no ejectors, double triggers. It was made in Brazil. The stock is some plain jane hardwood stock, and needs to be chopped so it fits me better, and have a recoil pad added. The barrels have IC and IM (between M and F) choke tubes. It swings pretty nicely and takes down into the barrels, forearm, and butt/receiver with the press of a lever. It's a bit stiff but I expect it to loosen up.

Even with the 26" tubes it's not too long. I might make it my primary HD gun if it patterns buckshot OK.

I mostly shoot rifles and pistols, but I've had a few shotguns over the years, e.g., a Winchester Defender 20 bore, a couple H&R Toppers in 20 and 12, a Norinco "Winchester" 1897 trench gun, and a Pedersoli percussion double 12. I had to sell the Pedersoli while short of cash about 10 years ago and it's one gun I've missed. I like side by sides and shot the Pedersoli better than my other shotguns. The Stoeger reminds me a bit of the Pedersoli, except for loading from the other end.

Along with the gun I got a 100 round value pack of Remington #8s and a 20 gauge Hoppe's Bore Snake.

After leaving Dick's I got her home and cleaned up. It came coated with brown preservative which cleaned up easily with some Ballistol, patches, and the range rod I use with my .69 caliber M1717 French musket. Being a smoothbore, when I shoot it I'll probably just run the Bore Snake with some Ballistol through the barrels a couple of times, wipe down the exterior, and call it good.

I hope to get it out next weekend.