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.

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.