Monday, March 26, 2007

Addition to The Shooters' Bar(SM)

This morning I added C. Scott Shields of Delaware County, PA to The Shooters' Bar(SM). Aside from being an attorney in private practice, he is the mayor of Rutledge, PA, and is running for judge.

I became aware of Mr. Shields via his editorial on the Parker decision on today's

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Range Report

Yesterday I hit the range at Langhorne Rod & Gun Club with a few of the staff members from The Rally Point. I shot my Colt AR15-A3 Tactical Carbine and my Rock Ola M1 Carbine.

I shot the M1 first, zeroing the Bushnell Trophy red dot sight at 50 yards. Ammo was GI surplus RA 52 Ball (110 grain FMJ made by Remington in 1952). I bought a sealed can of this ammo several years ago and have a few bandoleers left. Anyway, the Carbine functioned perfectly, as expected. Once zeroed at 50 yards, I was able to blow out the 10 ring on an SR-1 target, shooting pretty quickly.

The red dot is mounted on an Ultimak rail which replaces the original handguard. I also have a Surefire G2 flashlight attached to the rail with a Viking Tactics mount. It's as slick a setup as I'd hoped for. IMHO it's the best way to mount optics on an M1 Carbine.

Later, I shot the M1 at 100 yards. The group opened up a good bit and point of impact was a few inches lower. However, my plan is to make it a home defense gun so a 50 yard zero is appropriate.

Next up was the Colt. As with the M1, I shot it first at 50 yards because I had to zero its scope, a Hakko 4x21mm illuminated reticle AR-15 carry handle mount scope. I'd previously tried that setup but it places the scope too high for comfort. So, awhile ago I bought a flat top adapter which allows you to attach an AR-15 carry handle mount scope right to the Picatinny rail on an AR-15A3 or -A4 upper.

The rifle wasn't too far off at 50, so I moved to 100 yards and fine tuned the zero. I was able to keep most shots in the 10 ring. At a cease fire, I walked down to the 200 yard target frames, past the "BEWARE OF COPPERHEADS" sign, and hung another SR-1 target. The scope's reticle is an approximately 4 MOA dot in the center, with tapered cross hairs at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. At 100 yards it's slightly smaller than the SR-1's bull. At 200, it's slightly larger than the bull.

Because the dot occluded the bull at 200 yards and I was using a center hold, I was happy to keep most of them in the black. There were a few flyers out into the 7 ring, but I'm not complaining. I would probably be able to get a tighter group at that range with a 6 o'clock hold.

After zeroing the rifle at 200 yards I checked point of impact at 100. The trajectory of the .223 Remington is so flat out to 200 that I'll leave it there as the difference in POI wasn't significant.

I put around 160 rounds or so through the Colt, all of it Federal American Eagle 55 grain FMJ-BT. The rifle functioned 100%, using a couple of black Teflon coated D&H 30 round mags from DSG Arms, along with a couple of late-'60s/early-'70s GI surplus 20s.

I'm quite pleased with yesterday's results. My home defense M1 Carbine is now ready to go, as-is my primary SHTF rifle, the AR-15.

Although I did a quicky cleaning on each rifle before leaving the range, I field stripped both of them and thoroughly cleaned them this morning.

After I finished cleaning the two rifles, I tackled a gunsmithing task I've watned to do for a long time: removing the magazine disconnect from my Browning High Power.

The magazine disconnect or "safety" on the BHP functions to prevent the gun from firing if there's not magazine in the gun, even if a round is chambered. I prefer not to have that "feature" on a defensive gun. But my main reason for removing it is that it makes the trigger pull heavier with lots of creep, making it harder to shoot accurately.

I followed instructions that I found on the 1911 Forum. Tools required were a couple of punches, a nail used as a punch, forceps, and a hammer. The trigger pin came out pretty easily but the pin fastening the disconnector to the trigger was much more stubborn. I eventually got it out by wailing on it with the aforementioned nail, held in the forceps, until it finally budged.

Before reassembling the BHP, I cleaned and lubricated it. I dry fired it after it was back together. What a difference! The trigger is still a bit heavier than I'd like but much better than before. More importantly, virtually all of the creep is gone.

Friday, March 23, 2007


I've been looking for a file and folder synchronization tool for my Macs. OS X includes rsync but I wanted something with a nice GUI. There's RsyncX, but the couple of times I tried it I ran into difficulties. An open source program is always preferable, but I was prepared to buy a proprietary app as long as it had the functionality I need.

One advantage that a file sync tool has over something like Apple's, is that a sync tool just mirrors the contents of a folder to a backup device (in my case an external hard disk). You don't need the backup application to access your data on the backup, since your data is not stored in a proprietary format.

After some Googling this morning I decided to try our ChronoSync from Econ Technologies. I downloaded and installed the limited demo of v3.3. The GUI is well designed and intuitive. It appeared to work as advertised. I checked a couple of reviews online, noting that it got 5 stars at VersionTracker. MacWorld has a review of v3.0. Their only complaint was that some of the icons were ugly compared to what Mac users have come to expect. BFD.

I like it and wound up buying it. ChronoSync costs $30, and it's worth it in my opinion. One feature I like is the ability to create a "container," which contains other backup jobs. ChronoSync also includes an easy to use scheduler. I now have the program setup so that every Friday at 10:30 AM it runs a container which in turn calls backup jobs for my Documents, Library, Pictures, and downloads folders. If I want to, I can run each backup job individually, e.g., if I make some major changes and don't want to wait for the master weekly job to run.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Update to The Shooters' Bar

I added Duke Droulliard of Nebraska to TSB today.

Simpletech Bonzai Xpress Pininfarina Thumb Drive

Last month I bought a pair of Simpletech Bonzai Xpress Pininfarina USB thumb drives from After the mail-in rebate gets here, they'll be free. When I ordered them I figured that at that cost I couldn't go wrong. My plan included giving one to SWMBO for her to backup docs she creates related to her work, and have the other one as a backup for me. I finally got around to putzing with one today and I have to say I am not impressed at all.

Read/write speeds under Windows -- whether XP Pro running in Parallels on Rohan, my MacBook Pro, or on a Dell D600 -- are horrible. Copying files of only a few megs in size takes minutes. I attempted to install parts of the PortableApps Suite. Installing took two or more hours. I tried installing GaimPortable and the installer crashed.

Interestingly, the performance is much better under Mac OS X. On Rohan, the device is quite usable. I checked customer reviews on and and found similar complaints. Some of the Simpletech units seem to be afflicted with poor performance under Windows, but not all. One reviewer who tried it under both Windows and Linux reported poor performance under the former but not the latter. I plan to try my second Simpletech to see if it performs better. I'd be happy to just point at XP as the problem but Simpletech has to know that the vast majority of their thumb drives get used on Windows boxen, not Macs or Linux machines.

I have two other 1 GB thumb drives. One is a SanDisk Cruzer Mini, the other a Microcenter house brand bulk drive. Both have given good performance. I plan to try installing the PortableApps Suite on at least one to see how they compare with the Simpletech. Stay tuned for a follow up.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A NEW JERSEY Court Recognizes the Second Amendment

The case is In the Matter of Firearms Appeal by Dennis W. Peterson, Superior Court of NJ, Warren County. LINK to PDF download of the court's opinion. Peterson was represented by Evan Nappen.

Pertinent part of the decision:

Fundamental fairness is a doctrine to be sparingly applied. It is appropriately applied in those rare cases where not to do so will subject the defendant to oppression, harassment, or egregious deprivation.” Doe v. Poritz, 142 N.J. 1 (1995), citing State v. Yoskowitz, 116 N.J. 679, 712, 563 A.2d 1 (1989) (Garibaldi, J., concurring and dissenting). Egregious deprivation would surely be the result if this applicant were precluded from obtaining a firearms purchaser identification card by virtue of the fact that he consensually surrendered his weapons at a time when it was impossible for him to have known that such action would later subject him to lifelong deprivation of his second amendment right.

Additionally, it is clear that in consenting to the disposition of the weapons seized as a result of the temporary restraining order, the applicant did not intend to waive his right to bear arms as provided by the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution. He therefore could not have knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily waived that right.”
While this is surprising and encouraging coming from a court in NJ, of all places, keep in mind that this case does is not binding on the entire state. Also note that the court assumes that requiring Peterson to obtain permission from the state in the form of firearms owner's card is permissible under the Second Amendment. But the mere fact that the court implicitly assumed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms is noteworthy.

The county prosecutor in the case has filed a notice of appeal, so this one ain't over.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Motorola RAZR V3m and iSync

When Apple released the OS 10.4.9 update last week, they expanded the list of phones supported by iSync. My Motorola RAZR V3m is now officially supported, for both Bluetooh and USB connections.

Since I'd previously setup iSync on Rohan (my MacBook Pro) to work with my V3m using a third party plugin, to get it to work with the updated iSync I had to (1) delete the plugin, (2) delete Rohan from the phone's Bluetooth prefs, and (3) reset it back up from scratch. I also rebooted Rohan to clear any cached settings.

ISync allows you to specify which group of contacts you want to sync, either "All" or a subset thereof. I don't want all of my contacts on my cell phone so I created a new "Cell Phone" group in Address Book and configured iSync to sync only it. It now works like a charm, at least for phone numbers and email addresses. I'm not syncing fax numbers and Verizon has the V3m locked down so you can't sync calendars. I find the latter very annoying and may look into hacks which unlock that function.

Aborted DSL Install

Yesterday morning I went over to a friend of my parents to help her setup a new DSL connection. Verizon shipped her a Westell DSL modem/router along with a CD containing Flash-based instructions on how to connect her PC to the gateway and install the DSL filters on her phones. It was rather well done, IMO.

Unfortunately, the modem would not lock. To isolate the problem we took the Westell gateway down into her basement and plugged it into her NID. Lo and behold, it locked. This is the second time I've seen this happen when trying to install a DSL modem in an older house. The old internal wiring simply won't support the DSL signal.

She's going to call Verizon to get a home run from the NID to her home office. The Westell gateway does have wireless, but aside from the fact that her PC does not, she's not computer savvy at all, and there's no way she'll be able to troubleshoot the inevitable wireless LAN problem. So, the best bet for the long term is to get a home run into which she can plugin the gateway. (I don't have the tools to do the home run myself, or I would've.)

The key thing to take away from this is that if you have an older home, it's likely that your internal wiring won't support a DSL connection on a lot of the jacks. You can either install a home run, or install the modem near the NID and extend the LAN internally using wireless or HomePlug (Ethernet over electrical wiring).

Oh, in case you're wondering, the reason that I didn't suggest she get a cable modem is that she doesn't have cable TV (nor satellite, for that matter) and has no coax in her house.

Ice Storm

Friday we had an ice storm like I haven't seen since the winter of '93 - '94. During the day we got a mix of freezing rain and sleet, and people starting leaving the office early to get home before it got too bad. I left at 4:00 to catch a 4:18 train, which should've gotten me in around 5:00. No such luck.

The train was a few minutes late to start, then was further delayed due to a problem with a switch. We finally got into Chestnut Hill (the end of the line where I get off) at about ten to six. There was already at least an inch of sleet on the ground.

Upon reaching my truck I found it frozen shut. I was able to get the driver's side rear door open then climb into the driver's seat and push the front door open from the inside. It took me about ten minutes to clear off glass enough so that it was safe to drive home. I have been using a generic knock-off of Rain-X wiper fluid, which makes it easier to clean snow and ice off the windshield. I took it slow on the drive home and made it home without problems.

Saturday when I went out to clean off the sidewalks and driveway, the now-compacted 3" layer of ice and sleet laughed at my snowblower. I had to break it up with a metal shovel first, then go over it with the blower. The next time we have a storm like this I'll go outside with the snowblower while it's still falling and clean off the loose stuff while I can.

Yesterday I bought a can of Dupont Silicone spray lube and applied it to the weather stripping on the doors of my truck, along with the metal surfaces they contact. Hopefully, that will take care of the freezing shut issue.

Three feet of snow would be preferable to this kind of storm.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Updates to The Shooters' Bar

I completed a cleanup of the HTML code for The Shooters' Bar and added a few more attorneys to the list. The updated page is now up.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday already?

Time sure flies.

Last Wednesday I finally got home at about 22:45. We didn't land in Philly until about 21:00, so by the time I got my bag, back to my truck, and drove home from the airport it was late.

Thursday I had a couple of meetings, and also built up a CentOS 4.4 Linux box to use as a secure file server for another department on an occasional basis. It's made from scrounged hardware and in fact, the first hard disk I had in it died just as I was about to say it's ready.

This past weekend there was a gun show in Valley Forge. It was absolutely mobbed. I suspect that a lot of people were there to buy stuff that the Dems want to ban, e.g., magazines and black rifles. I picked up a couple of USGI 30 round M1 Carbine mags, a t-shirt, a pair of Nomex pilot's gloves (good for shooting in) and a Czech surplus bread bag. The latter is a nice little canvas shoulder bag which is a good size for a day hike, a modern day possibles bag if you will. It had that "sat for a few decades in an Eastern Eurporean warehouse" smell, so I washed it in warm water with Oxyclean then set it out to dry. That didn't kill the smell entirely so last night I hit it with Febreeze. If it's stinky tonight I'll soak it overnight in water and Murphy's Oil Soap, then hang it outside for a day or two.

Unlike the last show I went to a few months ago, there was a good supply of 7.62x39 and 5.56mm ammo. The milsurps were mostly Mosin-Nagants with a few Mausers and Lee-Enfields thrown in. I don't recall seeing any Swiss rifles, though at least one vendor had 7.5mm GP-11 ammo.

Several dealers had Colt AR-15s, more than I can recall at most shows. In particular, several had the AR-15A2 Government Model carbines (A2 upper, telestock lightweight "pencil" barrel), one of which I want to get at some point.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Homeward bound

I'm killing time in Denver International Airport (DEN). I got here well ahead of time so I could check my bag and clear security. A little while ago I learned my flight is delayed at least an hour and 45 minutes. It's probably due to the weather in Philadelphia. I'd much rather wait in the terminal than onboard the plane.

DEN has WiFi provided by AT&T for $7.95 per day, which is reasonable. Even if I don't get reimbursed by my employer I can deduct it from my taxes, so while I'd rather have free WiFi, I'm not complaining. It's reasonably fast and I've been able to check both my work and personal email without any problems, along with a bit of web surfing. I even managed to snag an electrical outlet so I can recharge my laptop.

Edit: My flight is now delayed until 15:05 Denver time. Yay.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

CableLabs Conference

I've been in Denver, CO since Sunday attending the CableLabs Winter '07 conference. It's been interesting seeing what's coming down the pike for the cable industry. Things like mobile video, higher Internet access speeds, and VOIP. A lot of the time has been devoted to the back end stuff that customers never see but is critical for providing services. I've also spent time talking with several vendors about their products to see whether they'd be of interest to my employer.

Tomorrow I fly home. The weather forecast for Philly is calling for snow, so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that we won't be delayed.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Heading to Denver Tomorrow

I am flying to Denver tomorrow to attend the CableLabs Winter 2007 Conference this week. I'll be flying home Wednesday.

While packing tonight I had to sanitize my laptop bag, which I carry on, to avoid getting flagged as a terrorists. The items I normally carry which I had to remove include my Gerber Multiplier, Victorinox CyberTool 41 SAK, and a lighter. All but the lighter got put in the duffle which I'll be checking; you can no longer take lighters or matches on airplanes in the US. But for the fact that you can no longer take pocket knives on airplanes, I wouldn't have check any luggage.

I also carry things like Afrin, a tube of Neutrogena hand lotion, Visine, and Purell in my laptop bag. Those have to go into a one quart Ziploc bag.

Stupid fracking TSA regulations.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

A Couple of Upgrades

Today I performed a couple of upgrades on Rohan, my MacBook Pro.

The first was to download and install the latest production build of Parallels Desktop. Coherence is now out of beta. I'd wanted to try it but not while it was still a release candidate. Anyway, this makes Parallels even more impressive than before. Running Windows in Coherence mode makes it look like the Taskbar and the rest of your apps are just overlaid on top of your OS X desktop. In a sense, it's similar to having the video output of remotely-running X11 applications display on your local desktop, although the icons of running Windows apps will appear in the OS X Dock.

The second upgrade was to add another 1 GB of RAM, bringing system memory to 2 gigs. OS X runs fine in 1 GB but when running Parallels, I wanted to be able to allocate at least 512 MB of RAM to XP. XP in Parallels runs much better with 512 MB than 256 MB, as I'd had it before. Much, much snappier.

I'd ordered a 2 GB upgrade kit from Crucial. Thinking that I'd have to yank 1 GB in a pair of 512 MB SODIMMs, I was surprised to find that Rohan actually shipped with a single 1 GB SODIMM of Samsung RAM from the factory, with one slot free. Doh! I will try it for a couple of days with the OEM RAM and one of the two Crucial SODIMMs, to ensure there aren't any incompatibilities. Assuming there aren't I'll return the extra SODIMM.