Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Obama's Healthcare Lies

Fact-checking POTUS' speech to Congress:

It is a good thing that other congressmen did not follow Rep. Joe Wilson’s lead. If they yelled out every time President Obama said something untrue about health care, they would quickly find themselves growing hoarse.

Obama's speech did nothing more than continue his campaign of dissimulation.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New MacBook Pro

After several years of using my personally owned Mac laptops for work, I decided recently to let my employer pay for wear and tear.  (An influencing factor is my increasing need to connect my machine to the company network, instead of just the lab network.)  My old company laptop is a 2004 vintage Dell Latitude D600, which was a good machine five years ago but after our IT folks implemented full-disk encryption, began running like crap.  Even with the RAM maxxed out at 2 GB, it is painfully slow to use.

Thankfully, getting approval for Mac laptops has gotten much easier in the past couple of years.  Most users in my company could use a Mac since the primary applications used are Word and Excel.  Our email system is MS Exchange with WebDAVS enabled, so Entourage works as an Exchange client.  The main office apps which don't run on OS X are Project and Visio.  I rarely need to view Project documents and when I do, ask for a copy in PDF or JPEG format.  When I need to work with Viso files I either use OmniGraffle Pro or run Visio on XP inside of a virtual machine.

My justification for a Mac instead of a Dell was twofold: (a) is required to run Apple's OS X Server Admin utilities, and (b) has a native implementation of X11.

It doesn't hurt that the Dell Latitudes we buy cost about as much as a MacBook Pro, so cost really isn't a factor.

Anyway, my new machine came in last week and I picked it up Thursday afternoon.  I finished moving my stuff over to it yesterday.  It's a mid-level unibody MacBook Pro with these specs:

* 15.4" glossy screen
* 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo CPU
* 4 GB of RAM
* 320 GB hard disk
* SuperDrive
* 802.11n AirPort Extreme wifi card
* Gigabit Ethernet
* 2x USB 2.0 ports
* 1x FireWire 800 (IEEE-1394b) port, backward compatible with FW-400
* 1X card reader
* Mini-display port

Along with the laptop I got an Apple keyboard and a Mini-display to DVI adapter.  I need to get a Mini-display to VGA adapter.  I'm using a $15 Logitech mouse, since I don't like Apple mice.

The software load was OS 10.5.8 (the recovery discs have 10.5.7), MS Office 2008, Parallels Desktop v4 with an XP Pro virtual machine already setup and loaded with Office 2007, and Cisco VPN client.  IT is integrating our Macs with our Windows domain using the Directory Utility, and have also installed MacFuse, which I assume is to assist with accessing our Windows file servers.

Yesterday I upgraded the machine to Snow Leopard.  After using it on Rohan, there are a few features which I found I really liked and didn't want to be without.  For example, Expose works better in 10.6 than previous versions of OS X and overall, the system is a bit faster.  If the machine needs IT's attention they'll reimage it with Leopard, but I do not foresee this happening.

The hardware is beautiful and I've gotten used to the keyboard, though I think I still like Rohan's keyboard better. I LOVE the new clickable trackpad, and have configured it so that pressing the lower right hand corner is the same as a right-click.  Finally and Apple laptop with a right mouse button!

The screen is absolutely gorgeous.  Text is crisp and colors are really vibrant.  So far I haven't had any problems with glare under the flourescent lighting in our office or incandescents at home.

The new machine seems to run cooler than Rohan, judging both by the temperatures reported by iStat Menus and how it feels to the touch.

Battery life seems good, but I am still not thrilled with the idea of a laptop battery that is not easily user replaceable.  However, if it comes to the point where the battery needs replacement, I get to pawn the job off on someone else.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Popular Mechanics on Emergency Preparedness

Short article here.  Conspicuously absent is mention of firearms and the knowledge to use them, which is a little surprising given PM's generally pro-gun bent.

Letterbox Beta 4 for Snow Leopard

I use as my primary email client.  One thing it's missing is the ability to take advantage of today's widescreen monitors by placing the folder list, message list, and preview pane side by side.  Aaron Harnly's Letterbox extension for Mail takes care of that.  Beta 4 for Snow Leopard is out and I just installed it.

So far, so good.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Range Day

We had a beautiful day yesterday and I was able to get out to the range for about an hour and a half. I brought a few toys with me: my Old Model Ruger Single Six in .22 LR, Ruger 50th Anniversary Blackhawk in .357, and my Remington 870 Wingmaster.

I started off with the Wingmaster since I haven't practiced with a HD shotgun in awhile. My 870 has a 20" cylinder bore barrel with rifle sights. I had a few different loads with me, a box each of Remington Slugger rifled slugs and 00 buckshot, and a box each of Federal Vital Shock Tru-Ball slugs and 00 buckshot in their Flite Control wads. Both the Federal loads were of the reduced recoil variety.

All rounds were fired at 25 yards. The Sluggers grouped in the 10 ring of an SR-1 military target with a 6 o'clock hold, while the reduced recoil loads have a point of impact about 6" higher at that range. This is because they achieve less recoil with lower muzzle velocity. This results in their spending more time in the barrel.  Thus, they leave the barrel while it's raised higher from the still significant recoil.

The Federal buckshot patterns into about a foot at 25 yards from this barrel (and also in my cylinder bore Mossberg Mariner). It might do a bit better in a barrel with some choke, but this is good enough for my needs.

The Remington 870 has a factory recoil pad, which is less punishing than a hard buttplate, but these loads all have significant kick.  Before shooting, I therefore put on my PAST Field Recoil Shield.   This is a rubber pad about 3/8" thick and makes a noticeable difference.  Even so, after 15 rounds I'd had enough. I wound up not shooting the Remington buckshot.

A budget minded person could do a lot worse for a one gun battery if he got a used Remington 870 with a short barrel for home defense, and a long barrel with choke tubes for hunting and shooting at clays.

As always the Ruger single actions were fun to shoot. I ran some Federal bulk pack 36 grain high speeds through the Single Six, and some Winchester .38 Special 148 grain wadcutters through the Blackhawk.

Adapt and Improvise

When law abiding people are subjected to oppressive gun laws which make it difficult to obtain weapons, accessories, and ammo, they improvise.  Over at the Firearm Blog there are a couple of posts describing how a gun enthusiast in Nigeria is making the best of a bad situation.

According to the first post, Nigeria's gun control laws are very strict and civilians are pretty much limited to shotguns.  Unfortunately, Emmanuel was only able to obtain a Turkish made shotgun with a pistol grip stock, sans butt stock.  Pistol grip only (AKA "PGO") shotguns have very limited use.  Compared with a shotgun having a conventional stock, a PGO shotgun is much harder to shoot well.  Improvising with a piece of steel rod and a walking stick, Emmanuel made a butt stock so that he can more effectively use his shotgun.

In the second post, Emmanuel recounts how the only ammunition available is birdshot.  Birdshot is fine for birds and small game but a poor choice for self defense.  It doesn't offer enough penetration to reliably reach vital organs and stop a determined aggressor.

Once again, Emmauel improvised.  Using a metal plate, a nut and a bolt, to make a mold, he extracts the birdshot from shells, melts them, and casts his own slugs.

Go check out the links, they are worth your time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

9/12 Washington, DC Tea Party

Over at Matt Welch reported from the 9/12 Washington, DC Tea Party:

* Big crowd. Do not believe any description that says "thousands." If there weren't at least a healthy six figures there, I will permanently revoke my head-counting license.

Picture here.

* Nineteen out of 20 signs were hand-made.
My reaction to that picture: Holy crap!

The Obama, Pelosi, and Reid et al. better wake up.  If they can motivate Libertarians and Conservatives to take to the streets in these numbers, they are pissing off the majority of the American people.  How many Americans who didn't attend agree with those who did?  I'll bet it's about 10 non-attendees to each participant.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Snow Leopard Impressions

Now that I've been using Snow Leopard for a few days I have some impressions to share.


Boots fast.

Applications run faster.

More free disk space.  Snow Leopard is smaller BUT it also changes the way it calculates used and free disk space.  Under Leopard Finder showed there being about 322 GB free.  Under Snow Leopard it's about 353 GB free.

Updated Expose is nicer in that it aligns the small windows to grid.  Also, clicking and holding on an open application's dock icon pops up small windows for each running instance.  (Similar to Windows 7.)

AddressBook now syncs with Gmail Contacts, even if you don't have an iPhone.
AirPort drop down menu now has signal strength indicators.


The Apple server administration utilities were wiped out by the upgrade.

Still waiting for Letterbox extension for to be made compatible.  Letterbox allows viewing of the mailbox list, message list, and preview pane side by side.  Apple should incorporate this functionality into Mail.

Had to re-setup Bluetooth pairing with my Blackberry 8330.

Had to reconfigure Bluetooth Dialup Networking (DUN) with my Blackberry.  In the Advanced properties of the Bluetooth connection, had to set up the Modem as Generic Dialup Device.

In Mail, Apple changed the keyboard shortcut to empty the Trash from CMD-K to SHIFT-CMD-BACKSPACE.

The polls on do not work in Safari 4.0.3.  The boxes to select an option do not appear.  Oh well, back to Firefox.

Snow Leopard ships with a version of the Adobe Flash Player which has vulnerabilities.  You need to go to to get the most current patched version.   


My exployer hopes to migrate to Exchange 2007 by the end of 2009.  Until then I will not be able to try the Exchange integration in Mail, iCal, and AddressBook.  I'd like to dump Entourage if it works well.

Remembering September 11, 2001

There really isn't anything I can say this year that I haven't said in past years.  Please just take some time today to remember those we lost eight years ago.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Snow Leopard

I am now running Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard" on Rohan, my MacBook Pro.  Previous Mac OS upgrades (10.3 to 10.4, and 10.4 to 10.5) went very smoothly.  Not so this time.

In preparation for the upgrade I uninstalled programs which I knew would be incompatible: e.g., CrossOver v7 and iSlayer Menus.  I then used OnyX to run a full system optimization, including cleaning out various caches and verifying the hard disk.

The Snow Leopard installer crashed on my three times with a message that an error had occurred.  Reviewing the installer log didn't reveal anything out of the ordinary.

On the third reboot the install finished (it appeared to pick up where it left off after each prior reboot).  Once logging in, SL informed me that incompatible software had been disabled and moved to the /Incompatible Software folder.  A Read Me file in that folder stated that Parallels Desktop 2.5 had been disabled.

Apparently, when I uninstalled Parallels Desktop 2.5 (probably last year), the uninstaller did not remove its kernel extensions.  (Thanks, Parallels. Grrr.)  When I replaced the hard disk in the machine recently, I first cloned the disk using SuperDuper!, which brought over those obsolete .kexts.  I suspect that the presence of these kernel extensions caused problems with the upgrade.

Anyway, we're now up and running.  I haven't used it enough to start making observations but will do so as time permits.