I’ve stopped getting it

I got it earlier. It made sense earlier. It was predictable. In the fall of ’08 when a certain someone was promising to Fundamentally Transform America, and Spread The Wealth Around, it made sense that people began buying guns and ammo in huge quantities, bracing for a new round of restrictions or worse.

That was six years ago. That’s longer than the time between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the A-bombing of Nagasaki, with all the design, procurement, tooling, production and logistics efforts involved in fighting and winning a highly mechanized, all-out war over most of the planet.

So why is there still almost no powder or 10 mm bullets on the shelves?

Yes, I’m venting, and yes I’m sitting on the sidelines complaining while doing nothing about it.

You probably thought Nagant was the first…

…but here’s a revolver (a carbine in this case) patented in 1852, that wedged the cylinder against the barrel, to eliminate the cylinder gap while firing;

It was also a lever action of sorts.

It came to my attention in comments here.

Previously, the Colt’s “Root” model of 1855 was the earliest true revolving carbine I’d known. Although there were repeating flintlock rifles and carbines from much earlier which used a revolving cylinder, the cylinder in those was advanced by grabbing it with the hand and rotating it manually. The flint versions that I’ve seen had multiple priming pans and frizzens, so they would have been a bit dainty in handling.

Another interesting bit of trivia is that Colt’s had a fully enclosed frame revolver (meaning it had a solid top-strap) long before the Remington/Beals, but Colt’s didn’t bother using the idea for their famous Navy and Army models, and they continued making “open top” revolvers right up into the 1870s. To put it another way; there wasn’t really all that much difference in the open top design compared to the enclosed frame designs when using the relatively low pressure black powder charges typical in a handgun of the time.

And let it not be said that the American founders could not have foreseen the repeating rifle or pistol as a fighting weapon. Many veterans of the American Revolution survived well into the 1840s, ’50s and even ’60s, and they didn’t suddenly cry out, “Waaait a minute!– We never expected anything like THIS!!! We’d better re-write that there second amendment thingy, and right now too…!!!” The Colt Patterson revolver came out in 1836 (an “assault weapon” of its day if there ever was one) and I don’t believe anyone in the Supreme Court suddenly re-thought the whole thing about the right to keep and bear arms now that we had concealable, practical, multi-shot firearms. The Colt “Walker” which was far more powerful and fired a bigger and heavier bullet came out in 1847.

What we all knew- safety is job #3

From the Department of “Duh” comes this little Kiwi gem. Seems a researcher ran an experiment on playground rules and child development. Making things too safe, having too many rules, was bad all the way around. Safe=boring and they didn’t learn about natural consequences of acting like idiots.

As a father of two kids, one girl and one barbarian, I see them do things that make me cringe, but I also know they have fun, play hard, and learn fast when you give them a fair bit of rope. Bones heal, bruises are great for showing off to friends. I’m sure I’ve watched them do things that would make the Risk Management head of any school district stroke out. But the kids are the better and healthier for it, and their mom gets a break because she can’t bear to watch.

Hydraulic ram pump

A friend tried to describe it to me a year or so back, but his description didn’t make sense to me. When I saw the “hydraulic ram pump” for sale in the Lehman’s catalog it got my attention.

I’d call it a “reverberatory ram pump” but regardless; it is fascinating. You can google it yourself, or look it up on youtube. In short; it uses a larger flow volume by setting up a resonance to create pressure spikes that lift a smaller flow volume– No power input required beyond that of the kinetic & potential energy in flowing/falling water.

The design and construction is so simple that it could have been done in ancient Roman times. Though I have yet to look up its history, I’m guessing it’s development is much more recent than that.

There are other ways to skin that particular cat depending on the circumstances, but this one wins in the cool factor. What I also find interesting is the small scale on which some of these run. One of them on youtube shows a system running on little more than a trickle.


I just watch the video Uncle put up on January 1:

It’s an hour long which is why I just now got around to watching it. I suspect that only about 10%, at best, of software developers will understand all of it. Non software security people will grasp only 10% of the material.

I had to look up several terms and I stopped it many, many times to more closely examine the classified documents. I am very impressed with the technology the NSA has implemented. That is amazing stuff.

They have tools that can, literally, fly over your home or city from up to eight miles and away infect computers with spyware. That’s just one of hundreds of tools they have.

There was some very serious bad-ass stuff in there that I knew was possible, and actually implemented prototypes of, years ago. They have it perfected and massively deployed. Seeing that they have it deployed explains some things that always bothered me about some of the projects I worked on or was sort of associated with. It all makes a whole lot more sense now.

The NSA people should congratulated on the awesome technology they have developed and deployed and then they should be sent to the gulags.

Random thought of the day

Almost everyone knows that leaving the refrigerator door open in the summer doesn’t, on the whole, make your house cooler. But did you know that in the winter you could use your freezer to make ice, store it in the ice-house for summer use, and make more ice you would be using the refrigerator as a heat pump and warm the house? This would make more efficient use of the electricity for heating than if you used that same electricity to heat your home directly with an electric furnace or baseboard electric heat. Part of the heat comes from the electricity used to run the freezer and the rest of the heat comes from the water you put in the freezer. You remove heat from the water, causing it to freeze, put the heat into the air, which raises the temperature of the air.

Plus, when you use the ice you stored in the winter the next summer you save on your summer electric bill as well.

Yeah, I know. What a geek. That what you get when read the blog of someone who thought their thermodynamics class was fun.

New Product

It’s the UltiMAK model M15 optic mount for the Yugo/Serbian M92 (A.K.A. PAP) AK pistol.

There have been a lot of requests for this. The first batch went into anodizing today and should be shipping by next week.

As always; yes it’s slightly shorter than the original piston tube. Yes, it’s supposed to be that way. No, that won’t have any effect on carrier cycling whatsoever. Yes, it’s the very best place for a dot sight on your AK. It’s also the right place to mount a pistol scope. No, it doesn’t need to be removed for cleaning.

I won’t get into the issue of the utility of an AK pistol. Several of the guns I own don’t have much real utility in the strict, modern sense (the reproduction 1861 Colt Navy percussion revolver comes to mind). Then again, some people are SBRing the AK pistols, providing a sub-gun-sized, shouldered shooter with a lot more power (and muzzle blast) than a 9 mm or a 45, plus ammo and magazine compatibility with a regular AK carbine.

If you’re sans a zans for cans…

…then use your bare hands (from a man from different lands).

And he didn’t even cut himself. I could’ve benefitted from this knowledge a few times in the past. Much less messy than shooting it with a 10 mm pistol. I’ll have to try it of course, as soon as I get home tonight.

ETA; soup, vegetable and fruit cans, etc., are not made of tin. They’re made of high quality steel. The others, like regular beverage cans, are aluminum, but you knew that. I’m not sure where the term “tin can” came from originally. Maybe they were tin at some point, but the steel cans are soldered, i.e. “tinned”, and maybe it comes from that. If get interested enough I can always google it.

Tin is very weak compared to steel, and it isn’t magnetic. We do use a fair amount of tin in bullet casting of course, so I always keep some handy.

Open source maps on Garmin GPS?

I got a Garmin GPS for Christmas, a hand-held one ideal for backpacking. Pretty neat. But then I looked closer, and had a “what the hell?” moment. It has no topo maps. Not even regional low-res 100k maps. Nothing. A few political outlines, major roads, major water obstacles like Lake Washington. You have to buy topo maps as extras. I thought the whole point of a GPS was not to point at a spot in a blank area and say “you are here.” Heck, I can get that with pencil and paper, and know general direction with a compass.

So I went to the Garmin site. They want a hundred bucks for a Northwest 24k topo map. Another hundred for a CA/Nevada topo. Another hundred for “mountain west.” Another hundred for Alaska. Another hundred for 100k US. And so-on. Holy COW! If you get around much, you could easily spend far more on maps than on the GPS unit itself. The unit I received had been bought on sale; any two of those are more than the unit cost.

I dug around a little bit online, and there are some references to using open source (USGS, TIGER, or whatever) topo maps, but nothing very specific or detailed that seemed like the right path. Anyone know any good sourses for free open source 24k topo maps and directions for putting them onto Garmin handheld GPS units? If I can get pointed to some that look like they will work, I’ll try it and let readers know how it goes.

Epson MX-80 dot matrix printer

I bought this printer when I got my first computer in May of 1984. It’s nearly the identical age as my son James. And, appropriately, I stored it in James’ closet for many years before he moved out. From my discussion with him last night that was a bit of a sore point with him over the years. He told me he frequently uses the story about the printer in his closet of an example of me being a packrat or something. I’m not sure why he would think it is evidence of that but whatever.

As I was unpacking in my new Clock Tower residence I came to the printer and decided it was time for it to go to the great recycling pile in the sky. But it was painful. It still looks to be in pretty good shape. Barb L. offered to try selling it for me which eased the pain some.

She has a bid of $50 for it! Amazing.



When I worked on Windows Phone 7 for Microsoft there sometimes a risk you could load a new version of the O/S you had just built on the phone and it would fail so catastrophically that it couldn’t even boot up enough to load a new O/S to replace the broken one. We called this “bricking your phone”. You had turned your smart phone into an object that was about as useful as a brick.

A few days ago Barb L. decided she needed to use the self-cleaning feature on her oven. The oven is fairly new and she had always cleaned it by hand and sometimes with oven cleaner spray. But this time she “dinked around” with the controls and got it to do a self-clean. After about two hours she decided it was probably done and turned it off. She went back to the oven a while later and the door was still locked. The display was off and all the controls were dead. She went to breaker box and cycled the power. It was still dead. She left the power off over night and turned it back on. It was still dead with the door locked.

Barb is the only person I have ever heard of that is able to brick an oven. That takes some special talent. She’s a keeper.

I thought so!

Several years ago a friend suggested I read Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe. I read the book but was pretty annoyed at it. Among other things that I thought were faulty one of the claims was that a low radiation environment was required for life. I was skeptical. Sure, all life as we know it is damaged by radiation but that doesn’t mean that some life form couldn’t evolve that actually required radiation, right? Wouldn’t intelligent life from that evolutionary chain conclude the earth would be lifeless because the lack of radiation required for certain of their life processes didn’t exist?

It turns out we now have life on earth that flourish in a high radiation environment. You can thank the Chernobyl disaster for that.

More on “Barrel Harmonics”

There is incontrovertible proof that those who talk about barrel harmonics do not know what they’re talking about, and that proof is in the very term they use to talk about it.

First; the term “harmonic” is a very specific term for an integral multiple of a fundamental vibration frequency. Since a barrel is (usually) a somewhat irregular object tethered at one end, I question whether most of them have a harmonic overtone series at all (like a guitar string or the air column inside a flute) or a primarily inharmonic one, like a bell or a cymbal. “You keep using that word…”

Second; the fundamental frequency of the “resonating” barrel is being ignored (by the language at least) yet the fundamental is often, or probably, more significant, i.e. it probably has a higher amplitude than the higher frequency vibrations. That’s usually very much the case with a vibrating body unless it’s being dampened at the fundamental. So why, particularly, are we discussing overtones (harmonic ones or inharmonic ones) and not the fundamental?

Third; don’t even talk to me about barrel harmonics, or barrel fundamental vibration, or inharmonic barrel overtones (A.K.A. “partials”) on an AK or a 30 Carbine, et al barrel. Just don’t.

I once had to do this with a class of music majors during a seminar I did at the U of Idaho. We were talking about advanced tweaks, the last one percent, of what goes into the design and structure of a musical instrument to make it a really fine one, and the students were responding as though I were talking about major issues. My fault. I should have been more clear at the outset.

So here it is; you don’t address the last one percent on your AK. It’s not a beanfield rifle. Please. There are several other factors that totally overwhelm the last one percent (like the previous 99 for example) and so if you address the last one percent as though it were “the issue” you’re ignoring the issues that matter.

My HP-35 calculator died

When I went to college in the fall of ‘73 they were teaching engineering students like me how to use slide rules. But the HP-35 scientific calculator had been introduced in 1972 and a few other students had them. It was an amazing thing. The HP web page (linked above) says:

HP asked a local market research firm to do a market study. They did and determined that the HP-35 Scientific Calculator would never sell because it was too expensive. Bill said “We’re going to go ahead anyway.” The product was so popular that HP couldn’t make them fast enough.

Bill remembered, “We figured, in the first year, if we could sell 10,000 calculators, we’d break even. We sold 100,000.”

I played with one for a little bit and then went to the University Book Store and bought one. It cost $300. That was a lot of money then. An entire year of school with books, tuition, room, and board was on the order of $2000.

I brought it back to my dorm room and the engineer across the hall from me came over and we played with it until dawn. It was absolutely amazing.

I eventually owned several different HP calculators. I programmed them and spent a lot of time “crunching numbers” for my electrical engineering problems.

I had gotten at least two different battery packs in the late seventies for my ‘35 when the old NiCads died and then ran it on the charger for years. The power switch got a little flakey and some of the keys got some bounce in them and I would have to sometimes fiddle with it to get it to work right. But it always would come through for me.

My HP-35 sat on the shelf a lot after I got newer calculators but when I set up my reloading bench back in the mid ‘90s I got it out and left it there. I would use it for estimating how many rounds I could get from a pound of powder or muzzle velocities and “power factors” from alternate powder charges or bullet weights.

As I was unpacking my gun room today I plugged it in and it would not turn on. I don’t know if it is the power supply, the power switch, or something else. It doesn’t really matter at this point. As of last month I have had it for 40 years.

I have another HP calculator I’ll put on my bench. If it lasts 40 years from when I bought it then it should last for at least another 10.


Computer security just got harder

This has been coming for quite some time (H/T to Jeff):

Triulzi said he’s seen plenty of firmware-targeting malware in the laboratory. A client of his once infected the UEFI-based BIOS of his Mac laptop as part of an experiment. Five years ago, Triulzi himself developed proof-of-concept malware that stealthily infected the network interface controllers that sit on a computer motherboard and provide the Ethernet jack that connects the machine to a network. His research built off of work by John Heasman that demonstrated how to plant hard-to-detect malware known as a rootkit in a computer’s peripheral component interconnect, the Intel-developed connection that attaches hardware devices to a CPU.

I wrote and demonstrated to some folks in D.C. a prototype of something like this in 2004 or 2005. Even before that lots of people knew it was possible.

You can remove all hard disks from your computer, install empty ones, and as the computer is booting up for the first time infect the new hard disk before the O/S even attempts to boot off of the CD drive. Of if you wanted you could just refuse to boot.

Imagine a stealth virus that infected some large percentage of all computers then on September 11th would only perform one function—format any storage device it had control of.

Sleep well.

NSA decryption

From Leaked Slide Shows NSA Celebrated Victory Over Google’s Security With A Smiley Face:google-cloud-exploitation1383148810

That’s good to know. What that means is that either they can’t break the encrypted messages directly or that it is more work to do so. So they do it by attacking the Google servers that do the encryption and decryption.

That means encrypting my data on my computer before it hits the Internet makes it more difficult or impossible for the NSA to read. Hence:


One big happy family

This ought to make you feel all warm and fuzzy.

The same company that made the healthcare.gov website (on a no-bid contract, naturally) is the same one that created the Canadian gun registry that cost roughly twenty times the original estimate and got scrapped a decade later after being found to be both useless and seriously defective.

But they want us to just trust their good intentions, ’cause they are so smart and transparent. Yeah, riiiight.

Field Ballistics bug fix

I fixed a minor bug in Field Ballistics. The new version is It is available on the Windows Phone store now.

The bug was that under certain situations you could delete the last target. Other places in the app required that at least one target exist at all times. After deleting the last target the app would immediately crash.

As a side note: I submitted the changed version Sunday evening. It made it through Microsoft certification in less than three days.

Quote of the day—Anshel Sag

Having the ability replicate the human nervous system and some of their thought processes is a good thing to have, but I just hope that there are some very strict checks and balances within these systems. You know, to prevent a Skynet-like event where the robots become self aware and start to realize that the world is a better place without us. It’s a crazy thought, sure, but giving computers the ability to think and feel like humans is also a bit crazy too.

Anshel Sag
October 11, 2013
Qualcomm Takes Us One Step Closer to Skynet with Zeroth Neural Processing Chip*
[The propagation time of human nerves and synapses are many orders of magnitude slower than the electronic analogs because, contrary to the common misunderstanding, biological signals are transmitted via a chemical chain reaction not electrical signals. Electrical signals propagate at nearly the speed of light. IIRC it’s roughly 1 mSec per foot versus 1 nSec per foot. That’s one million times faster.

Imagine being engaged in physical combat with someone that has a OODA loop that is a million times faster than yours. The Terminator/Skynet universe of Hollywood may give you hope that wouldn’t be the reality of it. In that universe the machines were slow to observe and make decisions. In reality their actions would be, for all intents and purposes, instantaneous. If they were to use projectile weapons the compensation for all the environmental conditions, target direction and velocity, and all possible target responses would be calculated and if needed multiple projectiles would be launched to cover the responses.

At work, today, I’m working on something that writes computer code. Given a simple description in a few dozen lines it writes thousands of lines of code that compile and run without error. It completes the task almost before you can lift your finger from the “Enter” key. This same code would take a human many hours, if not days, to write.

Imagine a world with the industrial capacity of machines that not only build machines but can design them as well. There would be automated tools that build better tools and machines without human interaction. And those tools and machines could build better tools and machines than themselves.

It could be utopia. Or it could be a Terminator universe where the battle against an individual human is over in milliseconds and the battle for the entire planet is over in hours.

Sleep well.—Joe]

* See also Qualcomm Zeroth Processors official: mimicking human brain computing