Boomershoot country in the winter

Last weekend I visited the Boomershoot site to get the weather station (see also here, it seems I always have to work on it in January) and webcam working again. The webcam had been down since November 8th and the weather station went down on December 31st.

I figured there was a good chance the power went down. The power supply is two deep cycle batteries charged by two solar panels and in the winter there is a risk of not enough solar to keep the batteries charged. The math says it should be enough as along as the batteries are not at end of life. But the batteries are getting old.

I took my 2 KW generator and a battery charger and arrived at my new gun range a little before 4:00 PM. It looks a lot different with 20+ inches of snow over it:

20220115_155958

After taking a few pictures there I drove to the driveway at the Boomershoot site. As I expected the driveway was impassable. I loaded up the toboggan I borrowed from Brother Doug and went out to the shooting line where the weather station is:

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I opened up the underground “vault” where the batteries, charge controller, ethernet switch, and power supplies are:

image

I measured the battery voltage. The 12 Volt batteries only had 3.7 Volts. That’s not good. That’s a real problem.

I hooked up the charger and generator and the smart charger quickly brought the voltage up to six volts and went into “maintenance” mode. Crap! It thinks these are six Volt batteries rather than 12 Volt. There was no manual switch to convince it to charge to 12 V.

I went back to my car and found the direct battery charging cable for the generator. I almost left this home because I didn’t think I would need it as I had brought the smart charger. I’m so glad I brought it.

Back at the shooting line I hooked up the direct cable and in a few minutes got the voltage up to about 10 Volts where the smart charge, with a power cycle, became convinced these were 12 Volt batteries.

It was getting dark but there was a nice sunset fading away:

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The next morning I came back to refill the gas tank and check the charge on the batteries. Things were a bit frosty:

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The charger said the batteries were fully charged. That’s not good. These two batteries should have a combined 400 Amp Hours of storage. The charger puts out a maximum of 12 Amps. After being on the charger for about 16.5 hours that is a maximum of about 200 Amp Hours of charge (including the consumption from the electronics and contribution from the solar panels that morning).

For all I know they could have stopped accepting charge after eight hours. There was nothing I could do about it. The only solution is new batteries. And I do not want to do that in the winter. The batteries are just too heavy to make the trip on the toboggan and be lowered into the “vault” with all the snow making access difficult. I’ll go back in a month or two and recharge them.

I couldn’t get the webcam to come back online. It is dead. I confirmed that after bringing it home. It doesn’t even turn on the ethernet switch lights. It seems to be a frequent occurrence at this site. I suspect low voltage to be a contributor. I have a new webcam but I forgot to take it with me. I’m thinking I will make another trip to Idaho in late February and put up the new web cam and charge the batteries then.

I will be spending some time on site a week or two before Boomershoot 2022 (April 29th –> May 1st, sign up here!). I’ll install new batteries, get the local Wi-Fi working, etc. then.

Quote of the day—Michael Crider

Minecraft builder “Sammyuri” spent seven months building what they call the Chungus 2, an enormously complex computer processor that exists virtually inside the Minecraft game engine. This project isn’t the first time a computer processor has been virtually rebuilt inside Minecraft, but the Chungus 2 (Computation Humongous Unconventional Number and Graphics Unit) might very well be the largest and most complex, simulating an 8-bit processor with a one hertz clock speed and 256 bytes of RAM.

Michael Crider
December 15, 2022
This 8-bit processor built in Minecraft can run its own games
[Computer simulations will someday have simulated characters building simulations in their simulated world. It may have already happened—a few decades ago.—Joe]

This will encounter resistance

In some ways this is a very cool idea. But you would have thought these people would have thought this through a little better:

Grow and Eat Your Own Vaccines? Using Plants As mRNA Factories

The future of vaccines may look more like eating a salad than getting a shot in the arm. UC Riverside scientists are studying whether they can turn edible plants like lettuce into mRNA vaccine factories.

Messenger RNA or mRNA technology, used in COVID-19 vaccines, works by teaching our cells to recognize and protect us against infectious diseases.

One of the challenges with this new technology is that it must be kept cold to maintain stability during transport and storage. If this new project is successful, plant-based mRNA vaccines — which can be eaten — could overcome this challenge with the ability to be stored at room temperature.

The project’s goals, made possible by a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, are threefold: showing that DNA containing the mRNA vaccines can be successfully delivered into the part of plant cells where it will replicate, demonstrating the plants can produce enough mRNA to rival a traditional shot, and finally, determining the right dosage.

Perhaps I’m misunderstanding. Does the mRNA only affect the DNA of the plants? Or do the plants deliver something that affects human DNA? If the latter then there is going to be some push back.

If the technology exists to deliver virus gene fragments into humans from food then what prevents food, modified by the evil genus in his basement, from creating an infectious (to plants) disease which delivers a “time bomb” infectious disease to human? For the “time bomb” think of HIV. It shows symptoms easily mistaken for something minor then is quiet, but infectious, for a few months before killing the host. If the lettuce infects other lettuce via insects or is airborne a simple infection of a few fields in scattered locations could infect an entire nation before the first person began to show deadly symptoms.

I don’t know how you practically prepare for that scenario.

Brett may have it right.

Quote of the day—Peter Schiff @PeterSchiff

The real problem with #Bitcoin isn’t volatility. Volatility means Bitcoin can’t function as a currency, but it makes it very appealing to traders and speculators. The real problem is that Bitcoin has no underlying value to support its price, making a terminal collapse inevitable.

Peter Schiff @PeterSchiff
Tweeted on January 10, 2022
[That is what I believe too. I mentioned the volatility, appeal to traders, and no underlying value in a discussion with a coworker last month after he told me about setting up the server rack in his garage to mine Bitcoins. My coworker wasn’t accepting my arguments. I tried comparisons to other mined products such as gold and silver. He seemed to understand what I was saying but could not be convinced Bitcoin is a high risk investment.

Schiff claims the following credentials:

Chief Economist & Global Strategist: http://Europac.com, Chairman: http://SchiffGold.com, Founder: http://EpacFunds.com , Host: http://SchiffRadio.com

That Schiff sells gold probably gives him a blinding bias but he, and I, may still be correct. I just don’t know. And that I, and apparently Schiff, cannot make an accurate prediction as to when the demise of Bitcoin occurs gives me concern that we are mistaken in our belief.

I’m more confident in prediction about the financial collapse of the U.S. government than I am of predicting about the demise of Bitcoin. Yet, I still believe.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Hannah Furfaro

Similar in nature to vaccines against disease, addiction vaccines stimulate the body to create antibodies that recognize a drug, and prevent or slow it from reaching the brain. A shot every few months, or once a year, has the potential to seriously ease a person’s path to recovery. 

Hannah Furfaro
January 5, 2022
To fight opioid crisis, UW researchers take new shot at developing vaccine against addictive drugs
[Interesting. I never who have guessed such a thing was possible. But now that the idea has been presented I can imagine “vaccines” for all kinds of things.

The first one that came to mind was one prevent Marxist beliefs. That was quickly followed by the concern that someone would probably develop, and the government would soon mandate, a vaccine to prevent individualism and/or suspicion of large government.

I soon returned to the present day and reality by reminding myself there has been a vaccine for the lethal variants of Marxism since before the mutations first started spreading over 100 years ago. Current prices vary from less than $0.10 to over $5.00 dollars a shot. And, if properly injected, they will cure as well as provide lifelong 100% immunity from infections. Even though the shots are widely available, inexpensive, and effective we still have rising Marxist infection rates. It seems to me there will have to be mandates to achieve herd immunity. This is because the voluntary inoculation rates are so very low..—Joe]

Labradar accessory

I have a Labradar chronograph. It is more expensive than previous chronographs I have owned but as I have outlined before it has some major benefits.

There are some some issues with it too. It’s not required, but there is an app for use on your Android or iPhone. The app improved the usability considerably even though it wasn’t the best design and it would disconnect when the phone turned off the screen.

Then my phone had to be replaced. I bought a Samsung Galaxy S21 5G. Name brand, should be good, right? The Labradar will not connect with it. The phone recognizes the chronograph Bluetooth is up and running but cannot make the connection. It turns out many other people are having the same problem with other Android phones and tablets as well as iPhones.

The Android app hasn’t been updated since it was released on June 14, 2018. I have two very cheap older Android phone scheduled to arrive in a day or two and I’m hoping one of them will work.

Another issue is that you have to have the unit pointed at your target such that the bullet stays near to the center of the radar beam. You are supposed to use the notch on the top as a sight:

image

This is far from the best sight and is marginal at best.

While looking for a solution to the Bluetooth phone application issue I ran across a solution to the sighting issue. Actually, three solutions:

  1. Low profile without a bubble level.
  2. With a bubble level.
  3. Standard height without a bubble level.

I ordered option three on Saturday afternoon (Christmas day!) and it arrive today just four days later.

It took me less than 25 seconds to install it.

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It fits perfectly and solidly. It deserves the average of five stars on the reviews it is getting.

Now if I can just get a phone to run the out of date app and connect to the unit. I think I could reverse engineer the API and write my own app but that is an extreme last resort.

Update: I tried two different phones:

The View 2 would not connect. The View 3 would sometimes connect five times in a row. Then it would fail 20 times in a row. I returned both of them and ordered a phone using Android 9 with 1 GB RAM. I have my suspicions that it is a timing problem. It seemed that if I were to reboot the phone then immediately try to connect to the chronograph the odds of connecting were better than 50%. But I didn’t try that enough to have a good sample size. I’m hoping that with not much RAM (and reviews complaining about how slow the phone is) that it may reliably connect to the Chronograph. The phone should arrive late next week. I’ll let you know….

Zero click exploit for iPhone

This is amazing (emphasis added):

Project Zero said the exploit effectively created “a weapon against which there is no defense,” noting that zero-click exploits work silently in the background and does not even require the target to click on a link or surf to a malicious website. “Short of not using a device, there is no way to prevent exploitation by a zero-click exploit,” the research team said.

The researchers confirmed the initial entry point for Pegasus was Apple’s proprietary iMessage that ships by default on iPhones, iPads and macOS devices.  By targeting iMessage, the NSO Group hackers needed only a phone number of an AppleID username to take aim and fire eavesdropping implants.

Within Apple’s CoreGraphics PDF parser, the NSO exploit writers abused Apple’s implementation of the open-source JBIG2, a domain specific image codec designed to compress images where pixels can only be black or white.

Describing the exploit as “pretty terrifying,” Google said the NSO Group hackers effectively booby-trapped a PDF file, masquerading as a GIF image, with an encoded virtual CPU to start and run the exploit.

JBIG2 doesn’t have scripting capabilities, but when combined with a vulnerability, it does have the ability to emulate circuits of arbitrary logic gates operating on arbitrary memory. So why not just use that to build your own computer architecture and script that!? That’s exactly what this exploit does,” the researchers explained.

Using over 70,000 segment commands defining logical bit operations, [NSO’s hackers] define a small computer architecture with features such as registers and a full 64-bit adder and comparator which they use to search memory and perform arithmetic operations. It’s not as fast as Javascript, but it’s fundamentally computationally equivalent.”

“The bootstrapping operations for the sandbox escape exploit are written to run on this logic circuit and the whole thing runs in this weird, emulated environment created out of a single decompression pass through a JBIG2 stream. It’s pretty incredible, and at the same time, pretty terrifying,” the Google researchers added.

I wonder how many other zero click exploits are active in the wild right now.

We live in interesting times.

Quote of the day—Dr. Monica Gandhi

I think the mRNA vaccine technology is going to have a huge role to play for other pathogens. The mRNA platform allows the human host to generate a protein of the virus or other pathogen to which to raise an immune response, and has been revolutionary for COVID-19. So, after trying so many other vaccine candidates before for HIV without success, this is a very promising platform to hopefully reach this elusive goal.

Dr. Monica Gandhi
December 15, 2021
Scientists are closing in on an HIV vaccine
[I remember when AIDS first hit the news. People didn’t even know if it was a virus. Just like all the different theories about COVID and the vaccines today there were strange things believed by people about AIDS. I remember one guy who claimed there were studies which proved K-Y Jelly caused it. The better known conspiracy theory is that it was a man-made pathogen created to exterminate homosexual men.

Of course it has been conclusively proven that it is a virus, named HIV, and it is believed to have originated in non-human primates in West-central Africa. Back in the early 1980’s I expected, “They will get this figured out in a couple years.” Forty years later yet another “promising vaccine” is in the works. And it will have all, and perhaps more, of the baggage carried by the mRNA COVID vaccines.

Looking at the parallels of the conspiracy theories associated with this pandemic and AIDS, I have to wonder if the resolutions will have a similar time decay constant.—Joe]

Job security

Every day I take a quick glance at my tools I can see evidence of the constant attempts to gain illegal access to my company’s computer networks. Each day there are 10s of thousands of probes from thousands of IP address.

To the best of my knowledge my company doesn’t do this sort of thing but people on my team sometimes talk about it and wonder if we should do it:

Microsoft Seizes 42 Websites Used by China-Based Hacking Group to Carry Out Cyberattacks on US Organizations

So far, the company said its Digital Crimes Unit, through 24 lawsuits—five of which were against nation-state actors—had taken down more than 10,000 malicious websites used by cybercriminals and almost 600 used by nation-state actors, and had blocked the registration of 600,000 more.

It’s very resource intensive to push these things through the legal system. Resources that could be used to harden and/or detect and remediate breaches. There are no easy answers and I don’t fault management for the decisions they have made.

I just know that, for me, as long as there are evil people out there, it means I will have job security.

First warp bubble created

I wish Eric Engstrom were still alive. He died just over a year ago and planned to live long enough to travel to other solar systems in warp drive capable ships. This plan of his was one part of his recruitment speech when he wanted me to join his startup company Chromium Communications.

Today it was announced some scientists accidently created a Nano sized warp bubble. This the first step in creating a warp drive:

I guess I and other friends of Eric will have to take those trips without him.

Good to know

FBI document shows what data can be obtained from encrypted messaging apps:

App Legal process & additional
details
Apple
iMessage
*Message content
limited.

*Subpoena: can render basic
subscriber information.
*18
USC §2703(d):
can render 25 days of iMessage lookups and from a
target number.
*Pen
Register:
no capability.
*Search
Warrant:
can render backups of a target device; if target uses
iCloud backup, the encryption keys should also be provided with content return
can also acquire iMessages from iCloud returns if target has enabled Messages in
iCloud.
Line *Message content
limited.

*Suspect’s
and/or victim’s registered information (profile image, display name, email
address, phone number, LINE ID, date of registration, etc.)
*Information
on usage.
*Maximum of seven days worth of
specified users’ text chats (Only when E2EE has not been elected and applied and
only when receiving an effective warrant; however, video, picture, files,
location, phone call audio and other such data will not be
disclosed).
Signal *No message
content.

*Date
and time a user registered.
*Last date of a
user’s connectivity to the service.
Telegram *No message
content.

*No

contact information provided for law enforcement to pursue a court order. As per
Telegram’s privacy statement, for confirmed terrorist investigations, Telegram
may disclose IP and phone number to relevant authorities.

Threema *No message
content.

*Hash
of phone number and email address, if provided by user.
*Push
Token, if push service is used.
*Public
Key
*Date (no time) of Threema ID
creation.
Date (no time) of last
login.
Viber *No message
content.

*Provides
account (i.e. phone number)) registration data and IP address at time of
creation.
*Message history: time, date,
source number, and destination number.

WeChat *No message
content.

*Accepts
account preservation letters and subpoenas, but cannot provide records for
accounts created in China.
*For non-China
accounts, they can provide basic information (name, phone number, email, IP
address), which is retained for as long as the account is
active.
WhatsApp *Message content
limited.

*Subpoena: can render
basic subscriber records.
*Court
order: 
Subpoena return as well as information like
blocked users.
*Search
warrant:
 Provides address book contacts and WhatsApp
users who have the target in their address book contacts.
*Pen register: Sent
every 15 minutes, provides source and destination for each message.
*If
target is using an iPhone and iCloud backups enabled, iCloud returns may contain
WhatsApp data, to include message content.
Wickr *No message
content.

*Date
and time account created.
*Type of device(s)
app installed on.
*Date of last use.
*Number of messages.
*Number
of external IDs (email addresses and phone numbers) connected to the account,
bot not to plaintext external IDs themselves.
*Avatar image.
*Limited
records of recent changes to account setting such as adding or suspending a
device (does not include message content or routing and delivery
information).
*Wickr version
number.

Prepare appropriately.

Skynet smiles

I sometimes joke about the Skynet of the Terminator movies. And occasionally I get serious about it. But this is the first time I ever had a strong Skynet inspired chill engulf me when read about a new technology:

The 2.6 trillion transistors in the WSE-2 are organized into 850,000 cores. According to Cerebras Systems, the chip’s cores are optimized for the specific types of mathematical operations that neural networks use to turn raw data into insights. The WSE-2 stores the data being processed by a neural network using 40 gigabytes of speedy onboard memory.

Cerebras Systems says that the WSE-2 has 123 times more cores and 1,000 times more on-chip memory than the closest GPU.

I’m not sure why that emotional response occurred. It was as if some threshold had not just been crossed, but leaped over by such a huge margin. The potential threat became, not just real, but something much greater than that. I can’t say that I know or even really suspect that is true. It was just an emotional reaction.

However, see also what Elon Musk has to say about AI:

Never forget that a computer’s attention span is no longer than its power cord.

Prepare appropriately.

Quote of the day—BioViva Science

In fiction and the popular imagination the quest for youth is associated with a bevy of unsavory characters: pharaohs, vampires, and Saturday morning villains. Yet the real face of longevity research is us, all of us. All of us who have ever had to watch a friend or family member lose everything to an age-related illness, all of us who have had to sit by while a “natural” process executed an innocent person. What sort of perverse imagination could think anyone deserves to die in this way?

BioViva Science
Email sent on November 11, 2021
[I’ve had many people tell me something to the effect of there being something wrong with wanting to live for much longer than the currently expected lifetimes. The reasons were varied and none were compelling to me. Probably the best was something to the effect that there needed to be “room” for new people with new ideas to prevent a stagnation of civilization and possibly technological advancement.

The worst was rather personal.

As my mother was sliding away with Alzheimer I had a friend cheerfully tell me I should enjoy the natural aging. As that is what she did as her grandfather as his brain failed and he could no longer recognize family and friends or speak coherently.

I didn’t accept her advice then and I don’t now.

There is evidence scientists are close to effective treatments if not outright cures for dementia. With my family history I see this as a race between scientists and time. I have a rather keen interest in this race as my life has a much higher than acceptable risk of being decided by the winner.—Joe]

Slowly at first then rapidly

Shortages of both goods and services combined with massive government spending are resulting in inflation. And now there are predictions of increasing electrical power outages:

Longer, more frequent outages afflict the U.S. power grid as states fail to prepare for climate change

Across the nation, severe weather fueled by climate change is pushing aging electrical systems past their limits, often with deadly results. Last year, the average American home endured more than eight hours without power, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration — more than double the outage time five years ago.

I suppose you can call it “climate change”. Assuming it’s the political climate you have in mind. From the same article:

…state regulators largely have rejected these ideas, citing pressure to keep energy rates affordable. Of $15.7 billion in grid improvements under consideration last year, regulators approved only $3.4 billion, according to a national survey by the NC Clean Energy Technology Center — about one fifth.

After a weather disaster, “everybody’s standing around saying ‘why didn’t you spend more to keep the lights on?’” Ted Thomas, chairperson of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “But when you try to spend more when the system is working, it’s a tough sell.”

Politicians are demanding “green electricity”. But most types of “green electricity” are unreliable and more expensive. And at the same time there are demands to remove hydroelectric dams. Then they demand electricity be “affordable”. The grid is aging and stretched to the limit by increased consumption, decreasing production, and regulators don’t allow rate increases to replace and improve the equipment. Socialism, it’s the poison pill working it’s evil upon humanity.

A phrase comes to mind which was commonly used in regards to the “eco-freaks” when I was electrical engineering school, “Let them freeze in the dark.”

But the problem is it won’t be those who created the problem who “enjoy” the fruits of their work. It will be those who are out of political favor who will be last in line to get their share of the rationed electricity, food, medical care, etc.

Our situation will likely slowly deteriorate on all fronts then as all the reserves in the system are consumed it will be a rapid, catastrophic, and systemic failure. Prepare appropriately.

I need to include good backup electricity for my underground bunker.

Quote of the day—kot-begemot-uk

Hal, put your signature on the patent application
I am sorry Dave, I can’t do that

kot-begemot-uk
September 24, 2021
Comment to UK Appeals Court Rules AI Cannot Be Listed As a Patent Inventor
[Interesting topic. Currently the world courts are divided on the subject.

In August, an Australian Court ruled an AI can be an inventor. A U.S. court agrees with the UK ruling that an AI cannot be listed as an inventor.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Jennifer Granick

Trawling through Google’s search history database enables police to identify people merely based on what they might have been thinking about, for whatever reason, at some point in the past. This is a virtual dragnet through the public’s interests, beliefs, opinions, values and friendships, akin to mind reading powered by the Google time machine. This never-before-possible technique threatens First Amendment interests and will inevitably sweep up innocent people, especially if the keyword terms are not unique and the time frame not precise. To make matters worse, police are currently doing this in secret, which insulates the practice from public debate and regulation.

Jennifer Granick
Surveillance and cybersecurity counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Exclusive: Government Secretly Orders Google To Identify Anyone Who Has Searched A Name, Address And Telephone Number
[As I have mentioned before I’ve been impressed with Granick on Internet freedom issues.

Avoid the use of Google. They are evil. Use DuckDuckGo or something similar, use a privacy window in your browser and consider using a VPN such as Private Internet ACCESS.—Joe]