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.