Thursday, June 28, 2007

Senate Immigration Bill KILLED

For now, anyway.

All the Senators who voted in favor of it need to be kicked out the next time they come up for election.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Illegal Immigration

I haven't weighed in on this issue, but today's Senate vote reaching cloture on the illegal immigration amnesty plan -- "reform" my ass -- really got me P.O.'d. Bush and the Senate are well aware of the American People's opposition to this plan, but they're ramming it through anyway.

More out of frustration than expecting that it'll make a difference, I sent the following to my Senatards and Representative:

As one of your constituents, I am writing to express my total opposition to the illegal alien amnesty bill currently going through the Senate. This bill, or ANY form of amnesty for illegal aliens, is completely unacceptable.

The Federal government needs to do two basic things to get a handle on illegal immigration:

1. Secure the border. Statements that we cannot do so are BALONEY. Failure to secure the nation's borders in a time when we face threats from terrorists is flat out dereliction of duty.

2. Enforce existing immigration laws and penalize businesses which hire illegal immigrants.

Amnesty plans for illegals are opposed by the VAST majority of American citizens. Those politicians pushing amnesty are violating their oathes of office and acting against the wishes and best interests of their constituents.

I am in favor of LEGAL immigration which allows people into the country who can make positive contributions to American society. We should not reward illegal immigrants, who by definition, are CRIMINALS.

As an elected official, you took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution and the United States. Please do so.

David S. Markowitz

If amnesty for illegals passes, whatever respect that the American People hold for the Federal government will evaporate. I fear that Americans will see the Federal government as having broken the social contract, with dire results for the Republic.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

IOR Valdada 3x25mm CQB Scope

I posted recently about the Hakko 4x21 scope I have mounted on my Colt AR-15A3 Tactical Carbine. In that post I mentioned that I was considering replacing it with a Trijicon ACOG, in order to get a truly SHTF-worthy piece of glass. Well, I did get a new scope, but not an ACOG.

Two factors militated against the purchase of an ACOG. First was the price. The cheapest I'd be able to get a new TA-11F ACOG would be about $950 plus-or-minus. That's a lot of dough. Second, the ACOGs have short eye relief. The TA-11F has only 2.5" inches of eye relief. I wanted something with a bit more, because I wear glasses, and in case I can't quite get the rifle mounted properly.

After much research I purchased an IOR Valdada 3x25mm CQB scope from MidwayUSA. (If you were wondering why they're backordered at Midway, I got the last one. Heh.) The Big Brown Truck dropped it off yesterday and my first impressions are quite favorable.

IOR Valdada is a Romanian company which has been making scopes and binoculars since the 1930s. They use German-made Schott glass, which is very good.

The lenses are multi-coated to reduce glare, and the scope itself is sealed and filled with nitrogen. This should prevent any interior fogging.

The IOR scope is compact but weighs in at about a pound. It feels very solid. The adjustment clicks for windage and elevation are well-defined. The glass is very clear, definitely better than the Hakko's. The IOR CQB reticle is interesting and incorporates ranging features. The center dot subtends 2 minutes of angle (MOA, about 2" at 100 yards), so it'll be more precise than the ~4 MOA dot in the Hakko.

The scope's reticle is etched on glass and can be illuminated using a battery powered built-in light, which uses CR2032 lithium coin cells. Without illum, the reticle is black. When illuminated, it's red, except for the horseshoe-shaped thingy in the reticle, which remains black.

The scope has a removable Picatinny rail sleeve around the objective lens side, intended for mounting a backup red dot sight, a laser, or a light. I have no plans to use the rails, but intend to leave the sleeve on as protection for the main body of the scope. The scope itself mounts to a Picatinny rail using a built-in mount secured by two captive nuts. This is not a quick-release design. The scope feels very rugged, but in the hopefully unlikely event that it goes TU, I'll need pliers or a wrench to remove it so I can use a back up iron sight (which I need to acquire).

I mounted the IOR on my Colt last night, then bore sighted it at about 25 - 30 yards using a laser boresighter. (A toy house in my backyard stood in for a target.) Final zeroing will of course require actual shooting but this should get me pretty close.

In my post about the Hakko I referred to it as soft of a poor man's ACOG. The IOR doesn't quite fall into that category, since it retails for about $600. However, that's still A LOT cheaper than an ACOG.

I will post a follow up once I get the scope out to the range, which won't be for a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Safari 3.0b Instabilities

Since my last post I wound up changing back to Firefox 2 as my default browser. Safari 3.0b works fine for most pages, with notable exceptions being Blogger and several pages which use Javascript. For example, when I clicked on the Haloscan comments link to one of GeekWithA.45's posts, Safari crashed. I repeated this on a few other pages. Because so many sites rely on Javascript for functionality this is a show-stopper for me.

Hopefully by the time that Safari 3.0 is out of beta this problem will be fixed. I like its speed and integration with other Apple applications. E.g., in Safari you can right-click on a photo on a web page and select "Add to iPhoto library," which is pretty slick.

In the interim, I'll stick with Firefox.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Safari 3.0b and Blogger

Last week after installing the Safari 3.0b I noted that it's now working with Blogger. Hmm, not quite. It's almost there but I've noticed that when I try to paste a block of text into the Blogger composition box, the text actually appears on the page below the box. Also, this morning when I wrote my last post about IE vulnerabilities, I noticed that it wasn't handling carriage returns properly, resulting in some screwed up formatting when I looked at the post in the Preview screen. I therefore had to fix it in Firefox.

I'm not quite ready to go back to Firefox because so far Safari 3.0b has otherwise been very good, and I'd like to continue evaluating it.

A Couple of Windows Vulnerabilities

Today I ran across two Windows vulnerabilities. The first is important, but not especially surprising. The second is amazing.

First, via the Register, a strange spoofing vulnerabilty in Internet Explorer. This one is a bit scary with regards how it seems to spoof access to sites like Paypal and eBay.

Second, found via Slashdot, is a posting in the Ubuntu forum describing how an Ubuntu user running Internet Explorer under IE4WIN validated his PC through Windows Genuine Advantage, so he could download Windows Defender on his Linux box (presumably to then install it on a Windows PC). Yes, WGA validated a Linux box as a legitimate Windows installation! If this isn't a hoax it is further proof that WGA is terribly flawed.

The poster recorded the process to video which you can watch using a player that can handle .ogg files. I use VideoLAN, which runs on Windows, OS X, Linux, and *BSD.

I sent both of these to the Daynotes Backchannel list, so hopefully we'll get some meaningful discussions going on the various Daynoters' sites.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Why Giuliani should never be in the Oval Office

... or any other position of public trust, for that matter:

What we don't see is that freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do.

[ Interruption by someone in the audience. ]

You have free speech so I can be heard.
(Emphasis added.)

Source. This is an excerpt from a speech about crime made by Giuliani in 1994.

Authoritarians like him should have no place in our government.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Safari 3.0 Beta

One of the more interesting announcements from today's Apple WWDC was the introduction of Safari 3.0 Beta.  Normally, a new version of a Mac browser wouldn't be all that interesting for most folks, but this is different.  Safari 3.0b is also available for Windows XP and Vista!  There will no doubt be a lot of speculation as to why Apple decided to jump into the Windows browser market, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's at least partially related to the upcoming iPhone release, which will use Safari as its browser.

I installed 3.0b on my MacBook Pro.  So far, so good.  It's very fast and now appears to work with Blogger (finally!).  It's still beta so I'm expecting bugs, but my first impression is favorable.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Hakko 4x21 Scope Revisited

I've mentioned in the past that I have a Hakko 4x21 Electro Point scope on my Colt AR15-A3 Tactical Carbine. I finally took a couple of pictures worth sharing.

First, a full length glamour shot (click thumbnails for bigger image):

Next, a closeup, showing the flat top adapter I got from Cope's Distributing. The thumb-nut supplied with the adapter did not fit the Hakko's mounting bolt. However, a 1/4x20 locknut from Lowe's fits perfectly. It's probably more secure anyway.

Hakko was Colt's OEM for their 3x20 and 4x20 carry handle mount scopes of the 60s - 80s. These old scopes aren't as good as more modern optics, like Trijicon ACOGs, but they are superior to iron sights for precise shooting (if not as rugged). There is a slew of cheap clones available, but unless you buy a Colt or a Hakko you're wasting your money. CDNN currently has the non-illuminated and illuminated (as pictured above) versions in stock.

I am considering dropping the dough for an ACOG, since my Colt's primary role is as a defensive rifle, and the ACOG's optics are better, and they are more rugged. That said, this setup works well and can be thought of as a "poor man's ACOG." This rig using Federal American Eagle 55 grain FMJBT ammo and it'll put most of them into the black on an SR-1 target at 200 yards. Since the center dot in the scope's reticle fully occludes the bull at 200, that ain't half bad IMHO.

More Updates to The Shooter's Bar(SM)

I added Lew Weiner of California and Richmond McCluer, Jr. of Minnesota to The Shooter's Bar.

Friday, June 08, 2007

I'm With Fred

You may have also noticed the new links to I'm With Fred, Fred Thompson's new site for his incipient presidential campaign. Yes, I'm supporting him. The current crop of officially-declared Republican candidates don't include anyone I can support. Thompson should be formally entering the race soon. It's been evident for awhile that he's running. is another step in that direction.

Here is a site showing his voting record in the Senate.

On a side note, as you can see, I played around with this site's color scheme. It should be a bit easier to read now.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Updates to The Shooter's Bar(SM)

Today I updated The Shooter's Bar(SM) entry for David Gross, and added Steven K. Marden, both of Minnesota.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Blackberry 8703e EVDO Internet Connection on a Mac

By virtue of the fact that I'm a floor captain, I am issued a Blackberry by my employer. Last week our old Nextel BBs were replaced with new Sprint 8703es. Aside from the onboard Internet access, they can also be used as an EVDO modem for your laptop. Unfortunately, the Sprint PCS Broadband software is Windows-only. However, after much googling, I learned how to set it up so that I can establish the connection in XP under Parallels Desktop, then using XP's Internet Connection Sharing, "tunnel" through it and access the Internet using OS X. AAMOF, I'm doing it as I write this.

The instructions below are based on those posted by "Ken" HERE.

Use Parallels Build 3188 (Earlier version may or may not work.)
I used a Windows XP virtual machine. W2K may work but I haven't tested it.
I have Sprint Mobile Broadband.

1. Install and get the EVDO device working in Windows, using the USB connection.

2. In Parallels
Devices Menu
Choose RIM - Handheld

3. Disable the DHCP in Parallels
Parallels Desktop Menu
Uncheck DHCP

4. Enable Connection Sharing on Windows Modem
Open Properties for the Modem
Check everything
You may need to disable the Windows firewall

5. Choose your Network device in Parallels Virtual Machine (VM should be
Network Adaptor
Host-Only Networking

6. Choose your Network device in Mac
System Preferences
Parallels Host-Guest OS
Renew IP address

7. Connect with Sprint Mobile Broadband in Windows.

8. Minimize your XP VM, and you should now be able to access the Internet from

It works pretty well here in my living room. I probably won't use it much, since whenever I use my Mac I generally have access to a high speed connection. But, this will come on handy when I travel and I'm killing time in an airport. Some airports have free WiFi, but most charge for it. The Sprint connection feels about as fast as the airport WiFi connections I've used in Philadelphia and Denver. I'm getting around a meg down, and about 100 kbps up.

Edit 7/3/07: OS 10.4.10 breaks Parallels Desktop Build 3188's USB functionality. I describe the symptom and a fix HERE.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Victorinox Swisstool RS Multitool

I posted a review of my new Victorinox Swisstool RS over on my Survival and Emergency Preparedness Blog. Check it out.

More Script Testing

I was unable to test the router reconfiguration Perl scripts on my CentOS 4.4 box at work the other day. I'd forgotten that it's outbound access is strictly limited by our firewall and it's therefore unable to download from CPAN. I could have sneakernetted the Net::Telnet::Cisco source code over to it, but frankly, it's not worth doing so. We know it runs on Fedora Core 4, Mac OS 10.4.9, and Kubunu 6.10.

I did try one version of the script on Solaris 10 x86 running on my Mac using Parallels Desktop, but discovered that installing modules from CPAN on Solaris is a bear, due to Sun using one compiler and CPAN using another. I'm sure that I could get it to work but as noted above, we already have three platforms known to work.

Yesterday I was out of the office for training, but last night I installed CentOS 5 into a Parallels virtual machine to do additional testing of our router reconfiguration Perl script. No dice. Installation of Net::Telnet::Cisco failed with some weird errors.

Today I've done some additional testing and I am currently in the process of documenting how to use the scripts. Our operations group will actually implement them, not my group.