Saturday, December 17, 2011


Back in the 90s I did a bit of computer gaming, e.g., Doom, Quake, and Duke Nukem 3D. However, it's been several years since I did any gaming. After seeing a thread about Skyrim which made the point that it allows you to participate in sword and sorcery fantasy more effectively than movies, along with posting a link to an in-game video, I decided to give it a try.

I'm running it on my Microcenter Powerspec B707 PC that I got last year. However, I had to upgrade the video first, which in turn required a new power supply. Today I picked up an EVGA nVidia GeForce GT520 PCI-E video card and a 650W Antec power supply. Swapping the PS was simple and adding the video card presented no problems. It's replacing the box's onboard video; I didn't replace an older video card.

As for the game, wow! I watch virtually no TV and I've been to the theater maybe six times in the last decade. There have been a couple movies which I eventually saw on TV that I'd wished I'd seen in the theater, but as far as I'm concerned, Hollywood could drop off the face of the Earth and I wouldn't miss it one bit. Skyrim, in contrast, has me looking at getting back into gaming. I figure I'll play it for awhile and then start looking at other games.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

New Mobile Format

This morning while poking around in my Blogger Dashboard I saw that they now offer a mobile device viewing option, which I’ve enabled for both Survival & Emergency Preparedness and Blog O’Stuff. Hopefully, this will make both blogs more accessible to mobile users.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Income Inequality, Job Creation, and OWS

One of the memes being pushed by the socialist left and their current lackeys in the Occupy Wall Street/Philadelphia/Oakland/etc. movement is income inequality, or more specifically, that income inequality in and of itself is bad. This is simply wrong.

Like it or not, certain professions are worth more in a monetary sense to society than others. For example, engineering generally pays more than social work, because society places more value on the engineer's product than that of the social worker. Likewise, someone working in finance may earn more than an engineer. And generally, those who create jobs for others are also compensated more than someone who does not create any jobs.

If someone earns more than me, that's no skin off my back. Good for him. If he makes $1,000,000 per year while I make $100,000, dragging his income down because "$ARBITRARY AMOUNT is enough" does not improve my lot. Even it it did, that would not make it right. Just because somebody has something I want doesn't make it right to appropriate it for my ends. The best word to describe such conduct is theft.

One thing the collectivists have either forgotten, or more likely never learned, is that a rising tide lifts all boats. Despite a vast gulf in wealth between the richest and poorest in this country, even the poor are much better off than they were even a couple decades ago. "Poor" people in the US generally have running water, TV (often with a cable or satellite hookup), plenty of clothes, and cars. Hell, a lot of them are fat because they sit on their asses and eat junk food.

Only if someone makes his money dishonestly or at the expense of others, e.g., Bernie Madoff, should we be concerned with how he made it, how much he made, and whether he needs to return it. Unless that's the case, we should encourage entrepreneurship, which results in more jobs, which in turn results for more prosperity for more people.

Now, one thing which does need to be stopped is crony capitalism, in which politicians rewards their donors with lucrative contracts, tax laws, or loans made to credit-unworthy borrowers. E.g., General Electric not paying any income tax, or the ill-advised loans to Solyndra. However, crony capitalism isn't the result of income inequality, it's the result of corrupt politicians implementing big city machine politics on a national scale.

Another thing which the OWS-types fail to understand when they complain that "rich S.O.B.s" haven't started any companies to give people jobs is that starting such a company nowadays subjects you to a regulatory nightmare, pretty much regardless of what industry you're in. When starting a company not only do you need to come up with working capital you also need to retain the services of accountants and lawyers so that you can ensure that you abide by a mountain of laws because the Federal government is involved in all aspects of your business. And this is of course on top of the regulatory B.S. you need to deal with on a state and local level. More than a few entrepreneurs with good ideas have basically said, "fuck it, why bother?"

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Packing and the Friendly Skies

Here's an interesting article describing why if you must fly, having a firearm in your checked luggage may be the best way to prevent your bags from being pilfered.

{H/T Sipsey Street Irregulars.}

Friday, November 04, 2011

Best Comment I've Read Yet About the Cain Sexual Harrasment Claims

Posted by KeithC on Arfcom:

This fucking country, I swear. Two unnamed women say - through lawyers - that a man may have "made them feel uncomfortable during their interactions" and the press is pissing all over itself to make it into a "J'accuse!" moment. Meanwhile, a man who openly admits to snorting coke, hanging out with "college revolutionaries", mentoring under a racist preacher who condemns America at every turn and starting his "community organizing" career in the living room of a guy who's actually blown shit up on American soil in the name of communism is elected to our highest public office, where he presides over running guns to narcos, instructs his DoJ to file suits against states looking to protect themselves from foreign invasion but to avoid investigating civil rights violations of black guys swinging pipes and telling whitey to "vote the right way" and then supports "proud Marxists" as they close businesses and burn public property. Yeah, it was a run-on sentence but it's runaway lunacy so I think I can be forgiven. And that was just the "last week's news" version of the crap he's done. 


The liberal media is scared shitless of Cain, so they're pimping this story for all it's worth while ignoring the very real, documented failings of their preferred candidate.

Men's Warehouse Sides with OWS

I just verified this personally. Men's Warehouse posted this on their Facebook page on Wednesday:

We closed our store near Oakland City Hall today, for one day, to express the company's concern for the issue of wealth disparity in our country. The issue affects our employees and customers across the political spectrum.

Link. (You'll need a FB account to view.)

Really!?!? Screw them. In the past year I bought two suits, two dress shirts, and two ties, plus rented a tux from MW.

They won't see another cent from me now.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The 99%ers

Yesterday I posted some pictures I took of the Occupy Philadelphia crowd that invaded the Comcast Center on 11/2/11. Here are some pictures I saved from the 'net of the Occupy Oakland protests of October - November 2011.

Click the pics for full size images.

Remember that Obama has publicly expressed support for the so-called 99%ers.  As of 11/2 they are rioting in Oakland.

And people have the temerity to say that we as civilians have no need for semiautomatic rifles with large magazines? Bullshit.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

"Occupy Philadelphia" Occupies the Comcast Center

Today the "Occupy Philadelphia"commies decided to try to occupy the Comcast Center at 1701 JFK Blvd. in Philadelphia. It's the tallest building in Philly, and probably the largest symbol of "evil greedy corporations" in the city.

A coworker of mine got caught up when they tried to bum rush the building. He's fine but a few of them managed to get in before building security and police blocked the doors.

They are shown in the pics below sitting on the floor up against the glass wall. Police and security are now preventing anyone without an employee ID from entering.

As of 14:00, we can still get out of the building via the underground concourse to Suburban Station, and via the Arch St. exit.

Click the pictures to view them larger.

Oh, by the way, I asked my coworker and he said they smelled pretty bad.

Edit 11/2/11: Welcome to the many new readers who've come here from Arfcom,, and elsewhere! Please take a look around and read awhile.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Book Review: Day by Day Armageddon

Last night I finished reading Day by Day Armageddon by J. L. Bourne. It's a pretty good zombie apocalypse novel.

I found quick reading with an engaging story. It could have benefited from some editing. There are numerous spelling errors, but on the other hand that helps give it the flavor of a hastily written journal, which the format in which it's presented.

The protagonist is a naval aviator who is home from deployment when the SHTF. Shortly after he starts his journal, the zombie apocalypse strikes. The novel follows his adventures for several months in a world now ruled by the undead.

Other reviews have pointed out that the degree of preparation and skills possessed by the main character are a bit far fetched. This may be true. Of course, this is a zombie novel, not a documentary, so the author gets some slack in that area.

Overall, I found it a good read. I just downloaded the Kindle version of the next book in the series, Beyond Exile: Day by Day Armageddon and plan to start it tonight or tomorrow morning on my ride into work.

Book Review: Dead Six by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari

I recently finished reading Dead Six by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari. It's one of the best thrillers I've read. 

The book's format is unusual. Like some novels, it's written in the first person. What makes Dead Six unusual is that it's written in the first person, but for two different characters. Each author wrote the first person narrative for one of the two main characters. You might think this is a recipe for a disjointed story but they managed to mesh the two narratives together very well.

Dead Six includes a lot of action involving secret government agencies, ex-military men, and terrorists. I won't put in any spoilers, but the bad guys get theirs (for the most part), but the good guys aren't invincible. The action is intense and the technical details are accurate.

I highly recommend this book.

Monday, August 22, 2011

TSB and Back Online

I finally have The Shooters' Bar and back online.  TSB remains the Internet's oldest freely available list of pro-Second Amendment attorneys, having its inception as a post on Fidonet back in 1997.

I had been using for photo hosting and that remains my primary use for the domain, but unfortunately all the links I had to the old site are broken. I used Hostgator's automated tool to install Gallery for my image hosting.  When I was hosting it at home I was using Zenphoto.

The box on which they were hosted -- -- got zapped when lightning struck close to my house last week. I decided that instead of hosting them behind my cable modem as I'd previously done, I'd use a web hosting provider instead. After checking out a few I decided on Hostgator, which seems to offer a good balance of features vs. cost.

It was very handy at times to have a Linux box available via SSH and SFTP. I used it for testing remote access to various sites, an SSH proxy, and the occasional file transfer. I haven't decided if I'll gut the case and replace the innards, or maybe just leave my Windows 7 PC on and accessible via Logmein. Or maybe I'll just bag the idea of having an always-on, remotely accessible system.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Shooters' Bar Temporarily Offline

The server on which I was hosting The Shooters' Bar appears to have gotten zapped by lightning. The site will be offline until I make alternative arrangements.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hoppe's M-Pro 7 Gun Cleaner

After reading a recommendation for it as an effective, odorless carbon remover, I ordered an 8 oz. bottle of Hoppe's M-Pro-7 gun cleaner from Amazon last week. This past weekend I gave it a try, and based on the results, I am now a fan.

I gave M-Pro 7 a tough test. I went camping over the weekend and brought two guns with me. The first was my Euroarms Rogers & Spencer black powder percussion revolver. The second was my 1945-vintage M-1944 Mosin-Nagant carbine, shooting some early 1960s-vintage Soviet surplus 7.62x54R light ball ammo.

We shot the R&S with 30 grains of Swiss 3Fg black powder. Swiss powder burns cleaner than Goex, but it's still black powder and leaves behind plenty of fouling. We put about 36 to 40 shots through the gun. Afterwards, no more than 6 patches wet with M-Pro 7 got the bore clean. It was similarly effective on the rest of the gun.

The Soviet surplus ammo we fired through the Mosin-Nagant is some of the dirtiest "smokeless" ammo I've shot, and of course it has corrosive primers. I also put a 5 round clip of Hungarian light ball through the gun. Again, only a few patches wet with M-Pro 7 through the bore got it clean. I followed up with a patch wet with Ballistol to verify that M-Pro 7 hadn't left anything behind, and it too came out clean.

We did our shooting on Saturday, I cleaned the guns immediately thereafter, and then I checked them the following Monday. Neither gun showed any signs of corrosion. I ran a patch wet with Remoil through the Mosin's bore and it came out green, indicating that the residual M-Pro7 and Ballistol left in the bore had been attacking copper fouling.

I am impressed with M-Pro 7. It is odorless with no fumes, not flammable, doesn't require any special ventilation, and according to the MSDS doesn't contain anything especially nasty. After years of using smelly, carcinogenic gun cleaners I think I found my new favorite.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


A main use for my iPad is for note taking in meetings. I've looked at a few applications and have come to like Evernote.  The killer feature as I see it is that it automatically syncs notes via the cloud between my iPad, MacBook Pro, and iPhone.   Your notes can also be viewed online in a web browser.  This way I can access my notes pretty much wherever I am, since I always have at least my phone.  You can also have notes that are local-only, i.e., not synced across the Internet.

Among other things, I plan to start putting my technical reference notes into Evernote so I can easily find them, and so I can access them no matter where I am.

One caveat is that notes are not encrypted, so be careful about putting sensitive data on synced notes. Evernote does allow you to encrypt text within a note, but not the entire note.  Even so, I do not plan on putting online the spreadsheet I use to keep track of my accounts, usernames, and passwords. That will stay inside a TrueCrypt volume.

Another feature with which I'm experimenting is sharing notes.  This can be useful for groups.  So far, the one shared note I've created is Black Powder Revolver Notes, which I've shared with a friend who just picked up his first caplock revolver.

A basic Evernote account is free, while a Premium account is $5/month or $45/year.  Both allow you an unlimited number of notes in your account, but the free account is limited to 60 MB of uploads per month, and the max note size is 25 MB.  The figures for Premium accounts are 1 GB uploads per month and 50 MB per note.  The free version also has some limits on the types of files you can upload. You can see the full list of differences here.

Evernote is a handy program, especially for tech professionals. I recommend giving it a look.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

How to Make a Lockable Ammo Can

I ran across this video on Youtube showing how to make a lockable ammo can, and thought it worthwhile to pass on.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monster Hunter Alpha

On Monday I bought Larry Correia's novel Monster Hunter Alpha as a digital download from Baen Book's  Last night, I stayed up late and finished it.  MHA may be the best book in the series yet.

Unlike Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta, the main character in MHA is Earl Harbinger, head of the independent monster killing company, MHI.  The book delves into Harbinger's background and provides more depth to the character than in the first two novels.  Along the way, Harbinger encounters a nemesis from his past, a witch with a score to settle, has to deal with a competitor, and has to fight an uber bad ass werewolf.  As always, the Feds make an appearance in the form of agents from the US government's top-top-top secret Monster Control Bureau.

Correia's characterizations and wordsmithing are getting better. His sense of humor provides comic relief, and as with his previous novels it's nice to read a story not riddled with mistakes about guns.  It's also good to read a story in which the author is clearly in favor of the right to bear arms in defense of oneself and one's neighbors.

I give Monster Hunter Alpha an enthusiastic two thumbs up. It is 100% pure awesome, covered in awesomesauce.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Adding e-Books to Kindle in iPad

Since I got my iPad last week I've been using the Kindle app on it to read e-books, instead of carrying both it and my Kindle around. Yesterday, I bought Larry Correia's Monster Hunter Alpha from Baen's, whereupon I realized that there's no straightforward way to load e-books purchased from some place other than Amazon onto the device to read them.  (If you're not using an e-book reader, you can get Monster Hunter Alpha in the Dead Tree Edition here.)

After a minute on Google I found a solution, using Dropbox, which I access from my computers and my iPad.

  1. On your computer put the .mobi e-book file in your Dropbox folder and wait for it to sync. 
  2. Then go on your iPad, open Dropbox and then click on the e-book file. The Dropbox app cannot read the file and asks you what program you want to open it with. Select the Amazon Kindle app, and it'll download the book to the the Kindle apps local data store.

It would be nice if Amazon would let you leverage their Cloud Drive free online storage space for Kindle-format books purchased elsewhere, and then let you access it from the Kindle app on the iPad.

Edit 7/27/11:

Apparently, e-books from are available in a format supported by Apple's iBook app, and to which you can add them using iTunes. Clicky here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

iPad 2

At work my department will soon be receiving about 20 iPad 2s for development use. Since I'll be managing them, my boss felt I should have one for my own use. So, on Monday I came home with a shiny new white 64 GB iPad 2 with both WiFi and Verizon 3G capability. (If I want to use the 3G I'll have to pay for it myself.)

So far, I've been using the heck out of it. The screen is very nice and clear, displaying both text and graphics nicely. Speed seems good for the apps I've used. On my home network I'm getting about 12 to 14 megs down, about 10 mega slower than what I see with my MacBook Pro. The iPad has a slower processor, so that makes sense.

When typing I find that it's much easier if I put the iPad in landscape orientation, providing that the app I'm using supports it.  The onscreen keys are larger in this mode.

My use has primarily been for browsing, reading a couple forums using Tapatalk, and using the Amazon Kindle app. Compared with a Kindle, the iPad is more versatile since it allows you to do more than read books, but as an e-book reader, the hardware Kindle is superior. The grayscale Kindle screen, which isn't backlit, is superior for reading in bright light; there is more glare on the glossy color screen of the iPad. However, the iPad is superior for viewing PDF files, which don't display well on the Kindle.  The Kindle's e-ink display uses a lot less juice than the iPad's backlit LED. A Kindle can go weeks between being charged, while an iPad will go about 8 hours of active use.

Compared with the Samsung Galaxy tablet I got to play with a few weeks ago, the iPad is better. The iPad's larger screen versus the Galaxy's 7" display is more usable. (Obviously a 10" Galaxy would fare better in this regard.) The OS feels smoother, and Safari is overall a better browser than the stock Android 2.2 browser, with at least one caveat, see below.

So far I've bought a couple applications through iTunes: iSSH and GoodReader. I've also installed NoterizeEvernote, an RDP client, and Dropbox. ISSH allows me to access my servers at work over a WiFi bridge onto my lab network. GoodReader allows me to view many file types, including .doc, .xls, and PDFs, and manage files. It also integrates well with Dropbox.

I mostly typed this post in Evernote on the iPad with some final touches on my Mac.  Evenrote is an extremely neat notes and clipping program which can sync your files across multiple platforms and the cloud. (I used Evernote for this post because Safari on the iPad doesn't work with Blogger for some reason.)

Taking notes is something I see as becoming one of my main uses for the iPad, so I need to settle on a good solution for it.

Since this is a company owned device, I was able to get approval to have ActiveSync enabled on my Exchange account, which means I can now get my work email and calendar on it. I'm going to like not schlepping my laptop to meetings.

When I first handled an iPad last year I was a bit underwhelmed. I didn't like how it felt. The iPade 2 is noticeably slimmer and lighter and feels a lot better in the hand.  I can see why Apple has had a he'll of a time keeping up with demand.

For heavy content creation a laptop or desktop remains superior to the best tablet. But for note taking, email, checking my calendar, or light web surfing, the iPad works extremely well.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


I just found out that I made it into the Contagion 2011 Zombie Shoot.

They've scaled it back this year, down to 125 shooters from 200 last year, so things should move a bit quicker this time around.

{Happy Dance}

Monday, July 04, 2011

It's Not "July 4th"

It is Independence Day.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
   Button Gwinnett
   Lyman Hall
   George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
   William Hooper
   Joseph Hewes
   John Penn
South Carolina:
   Edward Rutledge
   Thomas Heyward, Jr.
   Thomas Lynch, Jr.
   Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
   Robert Morris
   Benjamin Rush
   Benjamin Franklin
   John Morton
   George Clymer
   James Smith
   George Taylor
   James Wilson
   George Ross
   Caesar Rodney
   George Read
   Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
   William Floyd
   Philip Livingston
   Francis Lewis
   Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
   Richard Stockton
   John Witherspoon
   Francis Hopkinson
   John Hart
   Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
   Josiah Bartlett
   William Whipple
   Samuel Adams
   John Adams
   Robert Treat Paine
   Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
   Stephen Hopkins
   William Ellery
   Roger Sherman
   Samuel Huntington
   William Williams
   Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
   Matthew Thornton

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Tablet

Over the past couple of days I got the chance to play with a 7" Samsung Galaxy tablet with WiFi and 3G from T-Mobile at work. We haven't activated the 3G so I only got to use the WiFi.  This isn't a full review, just some first impressions.

The overall feel of the Galaxy is much like a large Droid phone.  The OS is Android 2.2 "Froyo."  I mainly used the Android browser, Firefox, Opera Mini, and Facebook.

Size of the Galaxy is almost the same as my Kindle, but it's heavier because of the glass touchscreen.  Workmanship is solid and the device feels well made.   The screen looks very good and the device feels pretty speedy in most applications.  With a 7" screen it's larger than the big Android phones like the HTC Thunderbolt but it can still fit into a back pocket of one's jeans.  However, this is small enough that you'll often want to zoom in on web pages to read what displays as fine print.

AIUI, the WiFi-only version of the Galaxy has a slower processor than the 3G/WiFi version.  Something to consider if you're in the market for a tablet and considering the Samsung.

I did a little bit of reading using the Kindle app.  Text displays nicely but for reading a Kindle device is still better due to the lack of a backlit screen.  The Kindle's e-ink technology provides a non-glare screen that doesn't cause eyestrain like an LCD display. I found that when using the Kindle app on the Galaxy I preferred it set to have a black background and white text, since this was easier on my eyes.

The Galaxy comes with a USB charger but uses a proprietary connector on the device itself. The connector looks much like an Apple Dock connector but they are not compatible. IMO it would have been better for Samsung to have used a regular Micro-USB connection.

Other ports on the Galaxy are a microSD card slot which supports up to a 32 GB card, and a SIM card slot.  The microSD card slot is the biggest advantage devices like the Galaxy has over an iPad, IMO.

The stock Android browser sucks. I didn't realize how badly it sucks until I changed my cell phone from an original Droid to an iPhone 4 back in April.  In my experience, the Android browser doesn't render pages as nicely as Safari on the iPhone, or Firefox or Opera Mini on Android. It's also slower than the other browsers and scrolling on a page is frequently choppy, especially on pages with many objects, e.g.,

The included YouTube app works well.

The stock Gmail application works as well on the Galaxy as it does on a Droid phone.  Compared with the unified mail app on iPhones I like the Gmail app better.  For example, I like being able to delete a message with one tap vs. two or more on the iPhone.

One advantage that Android tablets, including the Galaxy, have over iPads is that you do not need a specific application on your computer to manage the device.  IPads need iTunes for device activation and management, although it's my understanding that this will change in iOS5.  In contrast, an Android device can be activated by itself and if you do connect it to a computer, it mounts just like a USB drive, allowing you to drag and drop files right onto it.

Overall, my initial impression is that the Samsung Galaxy is a good tablet computing device.  How it'll hold up over the long haul I can't say. Both my wife and I have experienced increasing device flakiness with our Droid phones after about a year of use. How much of that is due to hardware and how much due to software I don't know.  Also, were I purchasing a tablet I'd want a 10" screen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Another Pietta 1858 Remington Range Report

Tonight I got my stainless Pietta 1858 Remington back out the range and was able to try a few different things.

Earlier today I took my supply of Wonder Wads and relubricated them with my homemade mixture of beeswax, mutton tallow, and canning paraffin wax.  I also added some more paraffin to the mix to make the lube harder for warm weather.  This worked out really well and seemed to keep powder fouling down better than my first try.

The second thing I tried was using toy caps instead of percussion caps. The kind I used were the plastic ring caps, bought at a local supermarket at $2 or $3 per a couple hundred. In comparison, Remington No.10 percussion caps sell for $6.95/100 at Cabela's.  To use the toy caps I had to first cut them apart with a set of dykes.

The toy caps worked well.  They are a snug fit on the Pietta's nipples.  Most of the caps stayed intact on firing though some split. None caused jams and it looks like it would be much more difficult for the plastic caps to cause jams anyway, compared with regular copper caps.

Out of about 30 shots I did have a couple of misfires on what I think were clogged nipples. The nipple pick I had with me -- a straightened out paper clip -- was too thick to poke all the way through the nipple flash channels.  However, I put a CCI cap on the misfired chambers and they went off immediately.

They aren't as hot as CCI or Remington percussion caps but they didn't have problems igniting black powder so long as the nipples were clear. How well they work with Pyrodex or Triple 7, both of which have higher ignition points, remains to be seen.  Likewise, I'll want to try them on a sidelock percussion rifle to see if they are strong enough to handle the longer flash channel.  At the very least, they are a viable alternative for target shooting with black powder in a percussion revolver.

I am assuming that the toy caps are corrosive. The caps I had as kid certainly were. This isn't a big deal since I'm cleaning with water based solutions that dissolve both black powder fouling and corrosive primer residue.

The final new thing I got to test was Swiss black powder. I bought a pound of it last month with the intention of trying it after I emptied my powder flask of Goex.  That happened as I was loading my last cylinder.  I fired off the three chambers loaded with Goex, then refilled my flask and reloaded.

The Swiss powder is impressive, packing more of a punch per volume than Goex. Shooting a 30 grain load of Swiss 3Fg in the Remington feels like shooting a 30 grain load of Triple 7 3Fg.  It's noticeably more powerful than Goex, judging by the recoil.

Even more impressive is how clean it burns. I fired only six shots with the Swiss, but when I went to clean the gun I was amazed at how clean the bore was, even though I hadn't cleaned it before switching powders. My cleaning patches came out almost entirely clean after only three patches. Based on past experience, if I'd just shot Goex it would have taken at least six or seven wet patches through the bore before they started coming out clean. It appears that the cylinder full of Swiss 3Fg blew out most of the nasty fouling left behind by the previous 39 shots loaded with Goex.  I'm looking forward to my next range trip to see how clean it is, without having to deal with Goex fouling.

As a side note, I went with my dad who brought along his Ruger SR-1911. As of tonight he has 500 rounds through it with only a couple malfunctions. It looks like it's a good choice for a well made, reliable production 1911.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Colt 1862 and Remington 1858 Range Report

Today I took a spin up to Cabela's in Hamburg, PA. I'd hoped to be able to buy a 1,000 round bulk pack of Remington No.10 percussion caps at Cabela's, but found that they don't carry them in that quantity in the store. They only sell the 100 cap tins in the store.  So, along with a few other items I picked up two tins.

On the way back I stopped at Dixon's and wound up buying an Uberti Colt 1862 Pocket Police percussion revolver.  My dad had a Second-generation Colt 1862 when I was a kid that I enjoyed shooting so I recently developed a hankering for one.

The Pocket Police is one of the less common 19th Century percussion Colt revolvers. Colt made made from 1861 through 1873 and I've read different production figures given, from 20,000 to about 47,700. It's a 5-shot .36 caliber revolver built on the small frame originally used for Colt's .31 caliber guns. The originals were made in several barrel lengths; my replica has a 6.5" barrel. It weighs about 26 oz. The overall size is similar to a Ruger Single Six.

The Uberti's external finish is very nice but the action is not as smooth as older Ubertis I've handled and shot. For example, my Uberti 1851 Navy came from the factory with a very slick action. I may do a complete tear down and carefully polish the internals.

I put 20 rounds through the 1862 tonight using 12 grains by volume of 3Fg Triple 7 powder, a Wonder Wad, a Hornady .375 ball, and Remington No.10 caps. It took me about 10 rounds to get on paper at 10 yards.  My target was a paper plate and it turns out that the gun shoots about a foot and a half high at that range, due to the tiny front sight.

Unfortunately, I ran into some trouble with the '62. After the 13th or 14th shot, the lug attached to the underside of the barrel, to which the loading lever is latched, fell off. It landed on the table I was shooting over and I was able to tap it back into place but after several more shots, it fell off again. I decided to call it quits with the Uberti then. I'll reattach it tomorrow after making a few divots inside the dovetail so that it stays in place.  Darn annoying.

The small frame Colts seem even more prone to cap jams than the larger framed models like the 1851 Navy or 1860 Army.  There's just less room for the cap fragments to fall out of the gun.  I had several spent caps fall off the nipple and lodge between the hammer and frame. It's a good idea to invert the gun every time you recock it, to let cap fragments fall free. The Remingtons and Rogers & Spencer handle cap fragments much better than the Colts.

However, the Colts are much less susceptible to binding from powder fouling than the Remingtons. I attribute this to the Remington cylinder base pin that has part of it cut away to clear the screw which retains it and the loading lever. The cutaway area lets powder fouling in. The Rogers & Spencer has a cylinder base pin similar in size to the Remington, but lacks the cutaway section, and handles powder fouling very well.  The Colt base pin is larger in diameter than either, doesn't have any cutaways to let fouling in, and has grooves in it to hold grease.

Because of problems with several new guns I've taken to always bringing more than one gun with me whenever I go shooting. So, after cleaning off the Uberti, I did some shooting with my .36 Pietta 1858 Remington "New Army Police" (Remington never marketed a gun with that name).

My load was the same with the Remington although I increased the powder charge to 20 grains. Unlike most percussion revolvers which shoot high from the factory, this one actually shoots a little low. One of these days I'll bring a file with me and take a little off the front sight to raise the point of impact.

To keep the powder fouling under control I pulled the cylinder base pin after every 6 - 12 shots, wiped it off, and relubed it with Ballistol. I think it might be less prone to fouling with better lubed wads. The Wonder Wads I used tonight are lubed with Bore Butter, which works fine but they could use more of it. For example, last week when I shot my Euroarms 1858 .44 I used my homemade wads with much more lube, and the gun didn't bind as much.

Overall, the Pietta Remington was a pleasure to shoot. Recoil is mild due to the light ball and the heavy gun (it's built on the same frame as their .44s.) Accuracy was good with my 10 yard, one-hand group being about the size of my palm. I was pleased to see that it shoots .375 balls well. I'd bought this box over ten years ago for use in my Uberti 1851 Navy. In the '51 .375s group like I'm shooting a smoothbore, but the gun is very accurate with .380s.

Overall a good day. I'll post a followup on the Uberti once I get the kinks worked out.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Unetbootin is a nifty open source utility for creating bootable USB flash drives of various Linux and BSD distributions. Such drives are useful for installing an OS on a machine which doesn't have an optical drive.  I've also found that doing an OS install from a flash drive is usually faster than doing it off a CD or DVD since disk read/write is faster.

Up until recently UNetbootin ran on either Windows or Linux. I noticed this morning that there's now an  OS X version.  I grabbed it and I'm now creating a bootable flash drive with Ubuntu 10.04 Server LTS on it for an upcoming project.

Incidentally, this is a good use for small flash drives you get as promos. The 1 GB unit I'm currently using was used to distribute the course materials for the PBI Intellectual Property Law Institute I attended last month.

It's possible to create a bootable flash drive for installing Windows, but doing so requires different tools. I'll tackle that in another post.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Range Day

Today started out being a potentially very crappy day but wound up being quite good.

The past couple of days I was having problems starting the '07 Nissan Xterra that I bought back on April 23.  I was also hearing some sort of noise at low speed. Yesterday I called Peruzzi Nissan, the dealer from whom I bought the truck, and made an appointment for this morning.

The starting problem turned out to be a bad battery. They told me that they checked it and it had a bad cell.  The noise I was hearing was a loose heat shield that they tightened. I was at Peruzzi for about an hour and a half and got home around 10:00 AM.  It seems to be starting and running fine now but I guess the real test will be if either problem recurs. I really hope this is the last time I need to take the Xterra in for unscheduled service.

Since I'd already scheduled a flex day and we had a beautiful Spring day with the temp in the low 50s, I decided to go to the range.

I brought my "Cowboy Pimp Gun," a Ruger Single Six in .32 H&R Magnum. I named it that due to the faux ivory grips and color casehardened frame. I also brought my Euroarm 1858 Remington percussion revolver.

Today I shot at 25 yards and started with the CPG.  With PPU 98 grain LRN .32 S&W Longs it shoots about a foot low at 25 yards. The trigger has almost no takeup or creep, but is heavy, probably at least 8 pounds.  My groups were nothing to brag about.  I may look into getting a trigger job.

The Euroarms got more of a workout.  Last week I'd made up 20 combustible cartridges, something I haven't tried before.  They consisted of a .457 Hornady round ball and 30 grains of Goex FFFg black powder inside a cartridge case made from nitrated cigarette rolling paper.  Such cartridges made from nitrated paper or intestine were very common in the 19th Century, especially during the Civil War and for several years afterward.  Properly constructed they greatly aide in quickly loading a caplock revolver.

My paper cartridges, on the other hand, need some work. I need to use a mandrel with more of a taper to ease loading into the chambers and to cause the paper to rupture more when the round is rammed home.  I did have several ignition problems, probably due to an excessive amount of paper at the base of the cartridge. For my last 5 shots with the paper cartridges, I put a few grains of powder from my flintlock priming flask in the chambers before loading the cartridges. These all went off on the first cap.

Note that if you are shooting a percussion revolver and on a round the cap pops but the charge does not fire, if you then fire the next round in the cylinder there is a high likelihood that you'll get a chainfire. What happens is that when the cap from the failed round fragments it unseals the back of that chamber. When you fire the next round there is flashover and it's enough to get both chambers to fire. This happened to me a couple times today until I realized what was happening.  (I have actually been meaning to test this because with a properly fitting lead ball in a good condition revolver, I do not see any way it is possible to have a chainfire from the front end of the cylinder. As far as I'm concerned, the most likely source of a chainfire is from a missing or poorly fitting cap.)

One thing I noticed when shooting the paper cartridge is that they smell different from loose powder and ball. It took me awhile to figure out the aroma, but it bears a resemblance to the smell of a spent model rocket engine.

After my cartridges were used up I pulled the cylinder and found bits of paper in the chambers, which I cleaned out before continuing with loose powder, ball, and wad.

For the remainder of my shooting I used Hornady .454 balls and 30 grains of powder measured with a flask. Compared with the .457s I've used before the smaller balls load a lot easier and still give acceptable accuracy. I will probably use them from now on in the Euroarms and my Pietta 1858 Remington .44. I also plant to try them in my Rogers & Spencer to see if they are as accurate as .457s. I'll continued to use .457s in my Ruger Old Army as that is the specified size for it.

The wads I used today were from the first batch of homemade wads I made a couple weeks ago. To make them I ordered some 1/8" thick hard white 100% wool felt from out of Little Rock, AR. I'd read about Durofelt on The High Road and their product came highly recommended. I also picked up a set of hollow punches from Harbor Freight. I used the 7/16" punch that I'd reamed out to about .45" using my Dremel.  After punching out the wads I lubed them by soaking them in a mix of mostly beeswax with some mutton tallow, melted in a double boiler. Once the lube solidified the wads looked like little lube cookies.

Note: Melting mutton tallow on the kitchen stovetop is almost guaranteed to piss off the wife.  It reeks.

I'm quite pleased with my homemade wads and don't see myself buying Wonder Wads anymore. While the Wonder Wads work fine, the homemade wads hold more lube, seem to keep the powder fouling softer, and the gun binds a bit less. I'll have to see how my lube mixture works in hot weather, as I might want to add a little paraffin canning wax to the mix to stiffen it a bit.  As-is the mix might work well for lubricating the cylinder base pin of caplock revolvers.

Overall, a pretty good day.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

iPhone Battery Note

Last night I fully charged my iPhone before turning it at about 10:20. I left it on overnight with WiFi enabled to see how much of a charge would remain this morning. When I checked it at about 7:00 today I was pleased to see that it was still at 97%. My Droid would've been well below 90% even when it was new.

Nevertheless, the lack of easy access to the iPhone's battery led to me to purchase Duracell Instant USB Charger, yesterday from Amazon.  I'll keep it in my bag as an emergency backup should I need it.

Monday, May 02, 2011

So does this mean that ...

... we'll no longer have to take off our shoes and get molested by TSA flunkies before boarding an airplane?  No?

Thought so.

US Navy SEALs...

They be climbin' in yo window and snatchin' yo people up!

And in some cases puttin' a bullet in yo head!

(With apologies to Antoine Dodson.)

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Recent Black Powder Shooting

Yesterday I did something I haven't done since the 1980s, shot in a black powder rifle match.  My club held our "Spring Fellowship" match.  We only got a half dozen shooters but it was a really fun day and I came in third.  Here's my last target of the day, with one shot fired at each bull.

By the time we got to this target we'd been at it for a few hours and I was pretty tired. I was having problems with my flint not sparking and managed to yank the shot on the bottom middle bull out of the black.  Can't complain about the bottom left bull, though.  ;-)

We shot at several targets offhand from about 30 yards.  Small targets.  IIRC, 4 of us shot flintlock rifles while there were a couple caplocks.  I shot my customized left hand Dixie Tennessee Mountain Rifle.  It's a .50 caliber flintlock which has been remade into a Pennsylvania-styled rifle.  My load was 65 grains of Goex FFg black powder, a Hornady .490" round ball, and pillow ticking patches.  This is a mild recoiling, accurate load.

Lately when shooting patched round balls, I like to cut my patches ahead of time.  I found a couple of years ago that a John F. Kennedy half dollar is the same size as a patch for a .50 caliber round ball, so I use one as a template and cut and lube a bunch beforehand.  Compared with cutting them on the muzzle it saves a lot of time at the range. The patches were lubed with Track of the Wolf's Mink Oil Tallow patch grease.  It has a very mild smell and works really well as a patch lube and to keep fouling soft.  Yesterday I mostly wiped the bore after every other shot, but a couple times went three shots between wiping.  I use Windex for cleaning the black powder fouling.  It's cheap and works as well as anything else I've tried.

Most of my range time in the past couple of months has been shooting black powder guns.  My father turned 70 back in March and along with my brother, we bought him a Euroarms Rogers & Spencer percussion revolver from Dixie Gun Works.  While I was ordering the revolver for him I added a second one to the cart for me.  This is mine:

This is the Euroarms "London Gray" finish, which as I understand it is some sort of nickel plating.  It's not stainless.

It's become one of my favorite pistols.  The R&S handles powder fouling and cap fragments as good or better than a Ruger Old Army, which is the penultimate development of the cap and ball revolver.  Unlike Remingtons, it doesn't bind from powder fouling, and unlike Colts, it's not susceptible to cap jams.  Plus, even with the poor 19th Century service sights, it's accurate.  I shot this target at 50 yards about a month ago, using a two-hand offhand hold:

Although I pulled a few shots to the right edge of the paper, most of the 25 shots were within the -1 zone of the IDPA target, with about half on the paper plate.  Load was a .457 Hornady ball, a Wonder Wad, 24 grains of Goex FFFg black powder, and a Remington No.10 percussion cap.

A Couple of Major Upgrades for Me

I haven't posted much on this blog recently but I've had a couple of significant (to me, anyway) upgrades.

First, I finally decided to replace my 1997 Ford Expedition, which I had since 2003. The brake problems back on April 4th were the final straw. This was the second big repair bill I had on the Ford since the Fall and with a 14 year old truck, I just saw more big bills coming. Even though it was in generally good shape car parts in general start failing due to age, and I figured it was only a matter of time before I got stuck somewhere.

So, I did some looking around online and on April 23, I bought a 2007 Nissan Xterra with about 29,000 miles on it from Peruzzi Nissan in Fairless Hills, PA.  I got what I think is a decent deal. I negotiated the price down to a bit over $18K, got $3K for the Ford in trade, put another $2K down, and I'm financing the rest. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have a car payment again but I should now have a reliable vehicle that gets better gas mileage than the Expedition.  My new ride:

I've wanted an Xterra since they first came out about ten years ago.  So far, I'm loving it.

The other upgrade was to my cell phone. I'd been using one of the original Motorola Droids since Black Friday 2009. For most of the time I owned it I was happy with it but the past couple of months it felt like it was degrading.  I.e., slowing down and crashing a lot more than previously.  After rooting it, I tried a couple ROMs (Bugless Beast and Cyanogenmod).  Cyanogenmod was generally good at first but after a short while, the phone started misbehaving again.  I considered another Android phone like a Droid X or an HTC Thunderbolt as a replacement, but last Friday I went to the Apple store on Walnut St. in Philadelphia on my lunch break to look at the iPhones.  I checked out an iPhone 4 on Verizon, liked what I saw, and decided to give the Apple phone a try.  I got the 16 GB VZW model, a bumper to go around the phone, and a car charger.

I've only had it a couple of days but compared with the Droid it's much faster, the UI seems smoother, and overall feels more polished.  I still don't like that you need tools to get at the battery or that storage is non-expandable.  OTH, I never filled the 16 GB microSD card in my Droid.  As for the battery, I'll pick up an emergency cell phone charger.

A couple specific items on the iPhone which are better than the Droid are the maps application and the camera, both of which load much more quickly. The iPhone camera takes better pictures, too.

Call quality seems equivalent to the Droid.  I use only a fraction of my 450 minutes each month but use the heck out of the data features, especially email.  I'll be able to get ActiveSync enabled on my Exchange account at work and then iOS's native Exchange support will allow me to get my mail and calendar, without installing any extra software.  A few coworkers use iPhones for their work email and calendar and reported they works well.

OTH, the Android OS's support for widgets is a point in its favor, as is the better customizability when it comes to notifications. For example, the Android phones make no differentiation between ringtones and test message notification tones.  On the iPhones, ringtones are different from text message notification sounds.  So, while I was able to make some customer ringtones in iTunes and copy them to the phone, I couldn't use one for text messages; I'm stuck with the sounds Apple loaded. LAME.

If you use a Mac the integration between the computer and phone is impressive. For example, when I did my initial setup iTunes read the configuration of the email accounts I had setup in and transferred them to the phone. Likewise, you can sync Safari bookmarks on your computer and the iPhone.  (I've had an on-again/off-again relationship with Safari on the Mac. I will say that Safari on the iPhone is quite a bit better than the stock Android browser.)

I still have a great deal to learn about the iPhone and will try to post about new things I discover.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gas Pump Activism

Not the usual "boycott the gas stations on such-and-such at date."


Monday, April 04, 2011


Yesterday I was driving on I-76 when I needed to hit the brakes because some idjit decided to pull into my lane ahead of me.  As I did something felt like it popped and the pedal went almost all the way to the floor.  At first I thought, “Dumb ABS” but then realized something was amiss.  Aside from having to push the brake pedal all the way in, the parking brake now won’t go off.

So after getting the kids off to school I took the truck up to the service station at the end of my street.  I wonder what this is going to cost to fix.

One very nice thing about having a 14 year old vehicle is that I have no car payments.  On the other hand, I had to have some suspension work done on it back in the Fall.  It may be time to start looking for a new set of wheels.


ETA at 16:30:

Well, there goes another $1600. It needed a new brake booster, a seal, brake lines to the rear brakes (which required dropping the gas tank), and brake fluid flush.  While the gas tank was off I also had them swap out the fuel pump since it has about 120K on it.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I’m spending today and tomorrow at the PBI Intellectual Property Institute.  The course materials were distributed as PDFs on a thumb 1 GB drive, which is a nice alternative from a pile of the normal yellow paperback books.  I brought Hobbit, my MSI Wind netbook with me but the PDFs PBI created have problems displaying in Foxit Reader.  So, I wanted to tether Hobbit to my Droid and download the Adobe Reader installer.

Unfortunately there’s no WiFi and yet again, PDAnet decided to not work.  Previously it’s been mostly usable under Windows but the Mac port was very flaky.  Today, I couldn’t get online in Windows 7.  I decided to give Easytether a try.  I installed it through the Android Market, then downloaded the desktop client on my Droid and transferred it to Hobbit via USB.

So far, so good. I’ll give it a try for awhile and if it continues to work well I’ll buy it.  For $9.99 if it continues to work it’ll be worth it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Bought an Amazon Kindle

Up until my mid-20s I could have been classed as a "compulsive reader." Even through college, I devoured fiction and non-fiction books (mostly sci fi, fantasy, and history) constantly.  As a kid, when bored I was known to pull out a random volume of the Worldbook Encyclopedia and get lost for a couple hours.  (Yes, I was a nerd.)  Then, I went to law school and had very little time for recreational reading.  Simultaneously, I got hooked on online fora -- first via FidoNet, then the Internet.  Thus, my book reading became very intermittent.

When I left my job as a field engineer for an office job back in 2004 I started commuting via train.  Rather than getting back to reading books I got myself an MP3 player (Creative Labs, IIRC), and then in 2005, a 60 GB iPod.  I've been rotting my brain with rock and roll ever since.

Last Friday my iPod locked up solid.  It wouldn't mount as a disk on my Mac and I had to let the charge run down.  In the interim, I loaded up the SD card on my Droid with a bunch of music so I have something to listen to.  I currently have the iPod connected to my Mac and hopefully it'll work OK after charging.

But I've been wanting to get back into reading more and took this as a motivator to do so.  This being the 21st Century, I decided on getting an e-reader, and currently the standard to judge them by is Amazon's Kindle.  On Saturday, I picked up a 3rd generation WiFi-only Kindle at BJ's Wholesale Club.  I went with a WiFi-only unit since I have WiFi at home and at work, and it also allows you to access AT&T WiFi hotspots for free.  So I didn't feel the need to get one with 3G.

The Kindle came with a quickstart guide and a charging cable. The charging cable can be plugged into a computer's USB port for either power or transferring files, and also includes an A/C-to-USB adapter. Unfortunately, it does not use a standard micro-USB cable.  See below. A spare charger is $20.

I also bought Amazon's leather case with a built-in LED reading light that gets its power from the Kindle. With the case on the device feels more like a book and seems well protected.

I. Am. In. Love.  While I'd briefly considered getting a tablet, the Kindle has some advantages.  First, at $139 it's a lot cheaper than an iPad or Xoom.  So far, the reviews of Android-based tablets have been mostly meh.  Second, with wireless turned off, a fully-charged Kindle should not need recharging for nearly a month.  Third, and to me most important, the Kindle's "e-ink" display is perfect for reading text.  I probably spent about 20 hours over the weekend reading books on the Kindle and I had no eyestrain.  There's no way that I could say that if I'd been using a tablet with a backlit screen.

One of my favorite publishers -- Baen Books -- has been especially good about embracing e-readers and providing content for free via and  I downloaded several of John Ringo's novels via the latter over the weekend and so far have blown through Into the Looking Glass and Vorpal Blade, and I'm now about halfway thorugh Manxome Foe.  (Links are to the paperback versions since they aren't currently available through Amazon's Kindle store. Go to the Baen sites for e-book versions.) But don't worry, I'll be buying some e-books to support Baen's authors once I get through the free stuff.

You can buy Kindle books from Amazon right on the device but so far I've used my Mac to browse the Kindle bookstore.  If you have One-Click enabled for your Amazon account and you have the device connected to WiFi, you get your book within a minute or two.  This morning I purchased Finland's War of Choice: The Untidy Coalition of a Democracy and a Dictatorship in World War II.  (The Winter War and Contiuation War have been of interest to me for a long time.)

The Kindle's UI is simple and very good.  Reading a book on the device is much like reading a "real" book.  Instead of physically turning a page you just press the right or left arrow key.  If you turn the Kindle off it comes right back to where you left off, when you power it back on, no need for a bookmark. You can set book marks and make annotations.  There's also the ability to access a dictionary from within a book you're reading.

The Kindle also supports MP3 format files so you can listen to music while you read, or listen to audiobooks. It includes a WebKit-based browser, but having a grayscale-only screen, browsing pages with any kind of images is going to be a less than optimal experience.

E-book files tend to be small and Amazon claims that it'll hold up to 3500 of them.  The ability to carry around a library in a package which will fit into a large pocket is remarkable.

I can't recommend the Kindle highly enough.

Edit 3/29/11:

I am apparently a moron. Because the micro-USB port on the Kindle is rectangular instead of a trapezoid like normal micro-USB ports, I needed to rotate the plug but didn't notice that.  It will in fact use a regular micro-USB cable. {sigh}

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Quote of the Century

"How come Jimmy Carter's always going off to watch ballot boxes in Nicaragua and Liberia when Chicago's so much closer to home?"

--Tamara K.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Rooted my Droid

On Sunday I took the jump and rooted my Droid phone.  "Rooting" a smartphone gets you administrative access to the device, which in turn allows you to do some neat things like
  • Make a backup image of the ROM's filesystem to the SD card.
  • Run applications that allow you to do things not enabled by default, such as turning your phone into a WiFi hotspot.
  • Run alternative ROMs.
To root the Droid, I followed the instructions found here.   One of the first things I did after rooting was to install ROM Manager, and make a backup of my existing setup to my SD card.  I then installed the Astro File Manager and had it make a backup of all the apps I had installed.  With that done I went into ROM Manager and used it to download and install the Bugless Beast ROM.  Per the instructions I allowed it to wipe the data cache, which also has the effect of removing all the apps you've installed.  One feature of Bugless Beast that I like is that it will automatically restore your applications from some backup formats, including Astro File Manager's.

I've been running Bugless Beast now for a couple days and so far, so good.  By default it overclocks the Droid's CPU to 800 MHz.  This made the phone feel a bit warm so I set it back to the standard 600 MHz.  At some point I may try CyanogenMod or other ROMs.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

According to Leftists ...

... this graphic from the Democratic Leadership Council is perfectly acceptable political discourse:

... but this is  unacceptable, inflammatory rhetoric:

I guess it's OK as long as Democrats are doing it.  Hypocrisy?  Naaaah.

More Lies From the Mainstream Media

The blood of the victims of yesterday's shootings in Arizona was hardly dry before lefty pundits started accusing Jared Loughner of being a right-wing nut, and blaming Sarah Palin and the Tea Party for a creating a climate where such an act was inevitable.  And viewing the comments on various news stories shows that these pundits do indeed have an audience willing to lap up their drivel.  But jumping to such conclusions only makes you look like an idiot.

It turns out that Loughner shows many of the signs of paranoid schizophrenia, and has been described by at least one former classmate as a "left-wing radical."  LEFT-WING.  Loughner's list of favorite books on his YouTube page reflect his schizophrenia, including works from Ayn Rand (an odd choice for him), George Orwell (a socialist), Hitler's Mein Kampf (National SOCIALIST), and The Communist Manifesto.  What Tea Partier would include that?


Unfortunately, Loughner is only the latest in a long line of left-wing crazies to perpetrate violent acts.  For example:

* The riots in 1968 at the Chicago Democratic Convention
* The Symbionese Liberation Army
* The Weather Underground
* The Animal Liberation Front
* The Earth Liberation Front
* The Unabomber
* The guy who flew his plane into an IRS building last year
* The Black Panthers and the New Black Panthers

And that's only examples from the USA.  If you look beyond our borders it's clear that it's been the LEFT who has committed more murders to advance their agenda than any others in history.  Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot were all left-wingers.  And so was Hitler ("NAZI" is an abbreviation for National SOCIALISM.) How many millions did they murder?

The mainstream media likes to gloss over these acts because in some degree, they view the perps as being on the same side.  After all, members of the MSM overwhelmingly identify themselves as left-wing Democrats.  Every time the MSM puts blame for left-wing violence on the right, they are not only covering for their buddies, they are committing libel.  It's disgusting.

Thank God we have the Internet today to challenge and expose the MSM's lies.