Does Google want me to hate them?

I generally like Google products. They have innovative products and implement them well. But what is it with them discontinuing the products I depend on the most?

First there was Google Reader.

Google Checkout was discontinued a year ago. I used this for processing Boomershoot payments. They explicitly said I should switch over to Google Wallet for digital goods, which, after a lot of work, I did. I just got that working in September.

Yesterday I got an email from Google (see also Google Wallet for digital goods Retirement):

Hello,

When we first launched Google Wallet for digital goods, we wanted to make it simple for users and merchants to buy and sell online. The industry has matured a lot since then, providing a number of alternative payment solutions to choose from.

As we continue to evolve and improve our merchant tools to meet new market challenges, we are writing to let you know we will be retiring the Google Wallet for digital goods API on March 2nd, 2015.
 
    What this means for you as a digital goods merchant:
       
    •    March 2nd, 2015: You can continue to process payments via Google Wallet for digital goods until we shut it off on March 2nd, 2015.
    •    Remove Integration: If you don’t have your own payment processing, you will need to transition to an alternate solution and remove calls to our APIs before March 2nd, 2015.
    •    Continued Merchant Center Access: You will continue to have access to the merchant center for processing refunds, getting payouts and seeing reports.

Learn more about suggested next steps in our Help Center.

More help
Feel free to contact us for assistance. We are available at any time to help you with this transition.
Sincerely,
The Google Wallet for Business team

I think It’s going to be either Amazon or PayPal that gets my business next. I’m thinking Amazon is the most likely. If you already have an Amazon account then when signing up for Boomershoot you can just use a credit card that you have on file with Amazon. For some reason I just don’t trust PayPal as much as I do Amazon. PayPal has also been really nasty with some gun issues. Amazon isn’t exactly friendly but they aren’t actively hostile either:

This Acceptable Use Policy lists items and activities that we prohibit because they may be illegal or inappropriate in connection with the use of our services. It applies to any person or entity using our payment service and any transactions that we are asked to process. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with this policy. We may modify this policy at any time.

If we believe or suspect that any transaction violates this policy or is otherwise illegal or unsuitable, we may take any corrective action that we deem appropriate, including blocking the transaction, holding funds associated with a prohibited transaction, suspending or restricting the use of our service, terminating the accounts of violators, or any other corrective action.

Prohibited Items and Activities:

Firearms and Weapons – includes ammunition, guns, rifles, shotguns, pistols, other firearms, knives (automatic, spring-loaded knives, throwing, etc.), brass knuckles, or other weapons.

For the foreseeable future Google is going to get extra scrutiny before I collaborate with them.

Geeks with too much time

Via Art we have this partial output from a tracert to 216.81.59.173:

134 ms  Episode.IV [206.214.251.1]
129 ms  A.NEW.HOPE [206.214.251.6]
165 ms  It.is.a.period.of.civil.war [206.214.251.9]
131 ms  Rebel.spaceships [206.214.251.14]
130 ms  striking.from.a.hidden.base [206.214.251.17]
131 ms  have.won.their.first.victory [206.214.251.22]
131 ms  against.the.evil.Galactic.Empire [206.214.251.25]
131 ms  During.the.battle [206.214.251.30]
131 ms  Rebel.spies.managed [206.214.251.33]
135 ms  to.steal.secret.plans [206.214.251.38]
140 ms  to.the.Empires.ultimate.weapon [206.214.251.41]
131 ms  the.DEATH.STAR [206.214.251.46]
133 ms  an.armored.space.station [206.214.251.49]
132 ms  with.enough.power.to [206.214.251.54]
134 ms  destroy.an.entire.planet [206.214.251.57]
133 ms  Pursued.by.the.Empires [206.214.251.62]
132 ms  sinister.agents [206.214.251.65]
133 ms  Princess.Leia.races.home [206.214.251.70]
134 ms  aboard.her.starship [206.214.251.73]
134 ms  custodian.of.the.stolen.plans [206.214.251.78]
131 ms  that.can.save.her [206.214.251.81]
132 ms  people.and.restore [206.214.251.86]
131 ms  freedom.to.the.galaxy [206.214.251.89]
135 ms  0—–I——-I—–0 [206.214.251.94]
142 ms  0——————0 [206.214.251.97]
133 ms  0—————–0 [206.214.251.102]
133 ms  0—————-0 [206.214.251.105]
133 ms  0—————0 [206.214.251.110]
135 ms  0————–0 [206.214.251.113]
133 ms  0————-0 [206.214.251.118]
136 ms  0————0 [206.214.251.121]
135 ms  0———–0 [206.214.251.126]
134 ms  0———-0 [206.214.251.129]
134 ms  0———0 [206.214.251.134]
135 ms  0——–0 [206.214.251.137]
137 ms  0——-0 [206.214.251.142]
133 ms  0——0 [206.214.251.145]
139 ms  0—–0 [206.214.251.150]
134 ms  0—-0 [206.214.251.153]
137 ms  0—0 [206.214.251.158]
132 ms  0–0 [206.214.251.161]
135 ms  0-0 [206.214.251.166]
135 ms  00 [206.214.251.169]
134 ms  I [206.214.251.174]
136 ms  By.Ryan.Werber [206.214.251.177]
133 ms  Blizzards.Breed.CCIE.Creativity [206.214.251.182]
133 ms  Please.Try.Again.Tracerote.to.obiwan.scrye.net [206.214.251.185]
138 ms  read.more.at.beaglenetworks.net [216.81.59.173]

Regarding primers…

…and getting testy;
There is total energy, and then there is peak power, time to peak power (which in audio circuitry we referred to as “rise time”) and duration of peak or near peak power. So you’d likely want to be able to graph it as power over time, to “really know” what’s happening. Point being of course that total energy would be somewhat inconsequential unless the power were up to a certain level for a certain period.

But maybe you got it just like that already. If so, carry on. Don’t mind me sitting in the corner and muttering.

Experiments with oil and primers

A week or two ago Ry showed up in my office and said he wanted to do an experiment. He and I have had conflicting information on the contamination of primers by oil. The common word on the Internet and word of mouth is that if you get the tiniest amount of oil on the chemically active portion of a primer then it would go dead.

However Ry had seen Lyle demonstrate this was not true by putting CLP in a shell casing with an active primer then detonating it a minute or two later. I had done similar things myself. I wanted to deprime some cases with live primers and to test the “kill the primer with oil” hypothesis I put a thin oil in the mouth of a shell casing and waited, sometimes a day or more, but they would still fire just fine. Bah! As usual the Internet is wrong. Right?

As we talked about the experiment we realized the Internet story wasn’t quite the same thing as our first hand data. Our first hand data wasn’t of putting oil directly on the primer. It was putting oil in the mouth of a shell casing. We believed the thin oil would make it through the flash hole into the active area of the primer.

IMG_1815CroppedAdjustedIMG_1816CroppedAdjusted

But that was an assumption. It was not a proven fact.

So what we decided to do was soak the primers for few minutes in a paper cup and then load them in a shell casing. We would do several primers then test them at various time intervals, like an hour, a day, a week, and a month. We expected the primers would still be fine after a month and the myth would be busted.

Here are the solvents we tested:

IMG_1802

We used Winchester small pistol primers:

IMG_1806IMG_1812

Here are the primers being soaked prior to inserting on the empty shell casings:

IMG_1803

An interesting thing occurred. The primers soaked in Break Free CLP turned the CLP slightly red after a few minutes:

IMG_1804

And the primers in the water turned the water slightly yellow:

IMG_1805

We also created two control sets. One set had dry primers in a dry shell casing and the other set had dry primers with solvent put in the shell casing.

After we had all the shell casing loaded Ry added more of the solvent to the test shell casings so evaporation would not be a factor in the long term testing.

We then tested both control sets and the test set.

We hand loaded the empty shell casings into a handgun and put the muzzle tight against an air pillow used for padding in Amazon shipments. We then fired the gun. If it failed to fire we would cock the hammer and try a second time. If it failed both times we called it a dead primer. There were no primers which failed on the first attempt and succeeded on the second. If it popped the air pillow it was a “vigorous” detonation. If it failed to puncture the air pillow it was a “mild” detonation:

IMG_1809

The dry normally inserted primers would punch a hole through both sides of the air pillow even though there was a significant air gap between the two sides:

IMG_1810

We tested two primers for each solvent. The results with solvent only in the shell casing mouth were as follows:

Solvent Detonation Result
Water 2 vigorous
Break Free CLP 2 vigorous
WD 40 2 mild
3-IN-ONE 1 vigorous, 1 mild
Tetra Gun Lubricant 2 vigorous

This confirmed the tests Lyle and I had done years ago. The primers were still active after putting oil in the case mouth.

Here are the results of the primers soaked in the paper cups with solvent:

Solvent Detonation Result
Water 2 dead
Break Free CLP 1 mild, 1 dead
WD 40 1 mild, 1 very mild
3-IN-ONE 2 mild
Tetra Gun Lubricant 2 mild

We will have updates later after the remaining primers have soaked for longer periods of time but it is clear that the flash hole is a significant barrier to the entry of solvents into the primer compound and the common wisdom of oil damaging primers is true.

Update from Ry after one day:

Solvent Detonation Result
Water 2 dead
Break Free CLP 1 mild, 1 dead
WD 40 1 very mild, 1 dead
3-IN-ONE 1 mild, 1 dead
Tetra Gun Lubricant 2 dead

What pendulum swing?

Yesterday a totalitarian want-to-be said:

FBI Director James Comey called Thursday for “a regulatory or legislative fix” for technology companies’ expanding use of encryption to protect user privacy, arguing that without such a fix, “homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free, and child exploitation victims might not be identified or recovered.”

Comey said he understood the “justifiable surprise” many Americans felt after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures about mass government surveillance, but he contended that recent shifts by companies like Apple and Google to make data stored on cell phones inaccessible to law enforcement went too far.

“Perhaps it’s time to suggest that the post-Snowden pendulum has swung too far in one direction — in a direction of fear and mistrust,” said Comey, speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington in his first major policy speech since taking over the FBI 13 months ago.

What?!!! The “pendulum has swing too far” in the direction of privacy? I wasn’t aware that the government had backed off even a tiny bit from their insistence that they get access to everything. As near as I can tell Comey wants the “pendulum” welded to the totalitarian wall.

Schneier has it right.

Quote of the day—Bruce Schneier

We have one infrastructure. We can’t choose a world where the US gets to spy and the Chinese don’t. We get to choose a world where everyone can spy, or a world where no one can spy. We can be secure from everyone, or vulnerable to anyone. And I’m tired of us choosing surveillance over security.

Bruce Schneier
September 19, 2014
Fake Cell Phone Towers Across the US
[A similar statement can be made about gun ownership.

We don’t get to choose between the everyone has guns and only the good guys have guns. The bad guys will always have guns or at least lethal weapons of some sort. And since they get to choose the time, location, and victim they will frequently succeed in their attacks when the innocent are stripped or discouraged from owning guns.

It’s only when the potential victims have the capability of causing near immediate serious consequences that perpetrators give serious consideration to their life choices. If there are not serious consequences then the case can be made they would be stupid to not to take advantage of those who are vulnerable. If the consequences are significantly delayed, as in a possible jail term a year or two in the future, the perpetrators may not be able to integrate those consequences into the decisions being made in the present.

I’m tired of politicians giving us the false choice of tolerating infringements on our right to keep and bear arms in exchange for imagined security.—Joe]

Scam alert

At 11:46 this morning I received an automated call from 800-331-3172. They said, IIRC:

Your AT&T account has been flagged for possible security violations. Please enter the last four digits of your social security number to avoid service interruption.

I immediately hung up.

How do I know with absolute certainty it was a scam? They called my Verizon phone.

Quote of the day—Rama Lakshmi

India’s $72 million Mars orbiter is the cheapest interplanetary mission ever. Modi said that India’s Mars mission cost less than what it took to make the famous Hollywood space movie “Gravity.”

Rama Lakshmi
September 24, 2014
India becomes first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, joins elite global space club
[If India had a more gun friendly political atmosphere I might consider moving there. They still have a lot of messed up political ideas, corruption in government, and religious/class/caste issues but as the United States crumbles it is on my short list of refuges if things get really bad.—Joe]

This is not a challenge

From Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, Forget Fingerprints, Officials Can Track You All Kinds of Ways:

Another important step in the future of biometric identification is storing information in one portal wherein multiple government agencies will trust the credentials, said John Boyd, director, defense biometrics and forensics, U.S. Defense Department. The challenge remains to carry out the many efforts to identify people effectively but still protect privacy.

That’s quite a challenge. In my book as soon as the government has that type of information the worst of all possible offenders has the information you least want them to have.

It’s a lot like the “challenge” of finding a way such that the person that wants you and your family dead and as well as you and your family both get what you want.

This is not a challenge. This is a time to tell them to leave you alone and then back it up with force if needed.

Google Wallet

Does anyone use Google Wallet to pay for things?

The reason I ask is because I am setting up the Boomershoot entry website to use Google Wallet for credit card payments. I get a better rate than with PayPal or Amazon and, at one point, their terms of service were more gun friendly. But now their current terms of service in regards to weapons aren’t much different from PayPal’s terms of service.

What I didn’t realize until I was doing some testing was that you have to create a Google Wallet account with name, address, as well as credit card information. You can’t just give your credit card information and pay. This takes more time and one more business has your credit card info and has the potential to lose your credit card info to thieves.

I expect far more people have Amazon and PayPal accounts than they do Google Wallet accounts.

If you were purchasing an entry to Boomershoot and paying with a credit card would the additional Google Wallet account creation be an issue for you? If it makes a difference you can still pay with a check money order via snail mail.


Mostly off-topic but I found this clause in Google’s buyer terms of service interesting:

2.2 USA PATRIOT ACT NOTICE

To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each individual or business that opens an account or requests credit.

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet

I recently really, really needed to get someone’s phone number quickly. I ended up paying a few dollars for one of those websites that offer detailed information on people. I got the phone number and “unlimited” use of the service for a month. So I asked for information on myself and a few other people of interest.

To the best of my knowledge most of the information was accurate. But there was one item that was really, really wrong.

According to this one service I am a ATF agent.

Test everything

The picture below is from a computer backup I was doing over the network.

TransferRate

This was with the existing file on the target drive being overwritten. For new files the transfer rate is nearly constant and a little above the peak shown here.

I suspect the algorithm used by either the driver or the controller for the hard disk for update an existing file results in a large number of seeks of the head. The file copy program (Robocopy in this case) could work around the problem by deleting existing files before doing the copy. But the designers of the program may not have been aware of the problem with this particular hard drive.

In my situation I don’t care a lot because it can just run as a background task and it doesn’t much matter if it takes 10 minutes or 300 minutes (yes, the transfer rate is over 30x slower). But for some people it might.

As always, thoroughly testing your products, processes, and assumptions is important and either this one wasn’t fully tested or management marked the bug as “Won’t Fix” and shipped it anyway.

Having presided over numerous Boomerite failures I know how easy it is to say, “This change shouldn’t matter” or “This has to make it better, no need to test it.” There is a reason many companies have a test team that is independent of the development team and may even have a reporting chain independent of engineering.

This, almost, paranoia about testing can be generalized to a lot of things in your life. Have you ever changed a tire on your current vehicle? I bought a used vehicles a few years ago and discovered a day or so after I bought it that it didn’t have a jack in it.

You have a gun to defend your home and loved ones? Have you ever pied the corners of your home with that shotgun? Have you looked at possible choke points for stopping a home invasion? How about looked at what happens to misses or shoot-throughs from likely shooting positions? How do those speed reloads you practice for USPA matches work out for you when you are at the top of the stairs in your birthday suit?

Progressives want the government to have more power to implement “social justice”. Ask the tens of millions of people that went into the Gulags of the USSR how that worked out for them. Oh, that’s right, most of them that weren’t shot after their forced confessions were worked and starved to death. We don’t need to run that test again. 100+ million people have already been killed during the testing done by various progressives regimes in the 20th century.

Anti-gun people want to register guns. Ask Canada how that worked out for them.

Does your bug-out kit included canned goods but you forgot to include a can opener?

You’ll discover many such things when you test.

Replacement for tracers

Via Mitchel M. on the gun email list at work:

The interesting part starts at 1:46.

This may mean that the new “tracers” could be safely used when the fire risk from normal tracers is too great. I’m a skeptical they can match the brightness of the pyrotechnic based tracers. But they probably would work for many applications.

And of course there are application where incendiary rounds will be needed when tracers might have worked.

Electronic Marques

Interesting idea. The US Constitution authorizes operations against pirates. Article 1,Section 8, Clause 10 “To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;”

It also covers issuing letters of Marque and Reprisal, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 “To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;”

Why not do the suddenly obvious and issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal to private corporations to go after international electronic pirates, foreign agents who are attacking our corporations and infrastructure electronically? Makes sense to me.

The high point of our weekend

Barb, both my brothers, and I went for a walk yesterday to check out one of the WiFi Nanostations I put up to get a new internet connection to brother Doug the last time I visited the farm. Doug just has a temporary installation for the solar power and the mounting of the Nanostation is still the steel fencepost I used but it is still working:

WP_20140622_004

The signal strength at this station was about 10 dB lower than the last time I was there and by realigning the antenna we regained 3 dB but we were unable to account for the other 7 dB loss.

It was only a short distance away so I suggested we visit the highest point on the farm. According to the GPS on my phone the altitude is 3161 feet (+/- 10’) above sea level.

From there I had brother Doug take a picture of Barb and I:

WP_20140622_011Adjusted

As you can see in the background there is a very nice view from there. Some of the geological features are 30+ miles away.

Windows Phone app reviews

My two Windows Phone apps have some reviews now. All are five stars!

For As the Crow Flies:

  • by Antonio
    5/18/2014

    Thank you for this app. Useful for me as a firefighter because I can only live a certain distance from the firehouse “as the crow flies” so this app very useful. Simple but worked perfectly.

  • by Kevin
    4/12/2014

    Very accurate, easy to use.

For Field Ballistics:

  • by Bryan
    5/1/2014

    Seriously a cool app for shooters.

Double action!

No, it’s not a porn video, though some moms may demand it.

Recently I read Col. Cooper on the subject of double action. His thesis is that DA means the gun has two action modes; Single action, wherein you thumb-cock the piece, and trigger cocking, wherein the trigger does the cocking and the releasing. Two modes of fire (thumb cocking and trigger cocking) hence the term double action. Therefore he said that the term “double action only” is nonsensical.
Continue reading

A new Internet connection

Off and on for a couple years and then starting in during the week between last Christmas and New Years I have spent a LOT of time trying to get a good Internet connection to my brother Doug. I have a good connection at Boomershoot Mecca but Doug and his family are blocked by the woods behind their house from Teakean Butte which is the source of my connection. They have a satellite connection that cost a lot of money, is unreliable, has HORRIBLE ping times, and poor transfer rates.

Mecca is 1.6 miles from our Dad’s house and is blocked by a small hill. Doug’s house is about 75 yards further still. And Dad’s house, a machine shed, and the hill block their view of the Boomershoot site. So we had to find a way around the hill just get it to Dad’s place. From Dad’s place it is a pretty easy hop around the machine shed. But first we needed to get to Dad’s place.

The obvious answer is to put a repeater on the hill between Mecca and Dad’s place. But we don’t own the hill. The nickname we have for the owner is “Wicked Witch of the Boomershoot”. So you can imagine how well such a request might be greeted with. I wouldn’t be surprised if she complained about us transmitting electromagnetic waves over her property—if she knew about it.

Anyway the best we could come up with was putting a repeater on a hill I own 1.7 miles from Dad’s house. Yup. We go further way to get a better signal to Dad’s place.

The ordinary Nanostation2s should work for several miles under ideal conditions. But this isn’t an ideal situation. We are probably actually just out of line of sight. In December I couldn’t get things to quite work unless I chose a different hill which belongs to cousin Alan. We probably could have gotten permission from him but at that location we needed to have two Nanostation2s, one pointed toward Mecca and the other toward Dad’s house.

I ordered a parabolic reflector hi-gain external antenna and came back the end of February. And found to my delight that I had good signal strength with just the Nanostation2s, completely different results that when I had done my tests in December. I still wasn’t able to get a high bandwidth connection but I was pretty sure it was a configuration issue on my part. Doug purchased the equipment he would need to get solar power on my hill to power the Nanostation2 and I planned to come back in a few weeks and do my part with the configuration of the Nanostation2s.

I went back in April and again tried to get a connection. Now the Nanostation2s alone didn’t work. The signal strength was back to what I had in December which was too low to be usable. What is going on? I suspect some differences in the ground conductivity or something. I just don’t know for certain. Again I gave up for the moment.

This weekend with the help of daughter Kim, Jacob, and Jeff I did some Boomershoot cleanup, mounted more solar panels on Boomershoot Mecca, and took down a solar panel that Doug was going to use for the repeater. I then proceeded to do some more signal strength testing.

I put up a twelve dBi antenna (a Nanostation2 has a 10 dBi internal antenna) on my hill attached to a Ubiquiti BulletM2 (the same one I used at Boomershoot with great success) and with the parabolic (24 dBi) antenna on a Nanostation2 at Dad’s place was able to get good signal strength. But for some reason the bandwidth sucked. Probably a configuration issue I guessed.

Doug wanted to avoid mounting anything on the outside of Dad’s house so I moved the parabolic antenna to the BulletM2 on my hill and used the internal 10 dBi antenna on a Nanostation2 at Dad’s place. It should only be a 2 dB loss compared to the 12 dBi antenna we were testing with before.

Signal strength was good but the bandwidth was in the toilet. I’m talking throughput to the Internet on the order of 60 kbs download and 10 kbs upload. It has to be a configuration issue. I spent hours trying all kinds of things with no success.

I finally decided the BulletM2 on my hill had to be the problem. So Monday afternoon I put in a Nanostation2 in place of the BulletM2 driving the parabolic antenna:

WP_20140526_010

It worked. Just this minute I have 2.11 Mbps download and 0.68 Mbps upload from my computer through a WiFi access point in their house, a switch, five Nanostations (remember I needed to hop around the machine shed), the router at Mecca (two miles away via the Nanostation path), and to the outside world.

Tomorrow I bring my Verizon Network Extender to test out in their house. I’ll finally have them connected to the rest of the world in a civilized manner.

Update: Early (6:19) in the morning the connection to the rest of the world was less busy and I got this result:

SpeedTest

Yeah. I’m all thrilled about something that is considered poor service by anybody in a major city but this is out in an area where it’s tough to even get cell service. Only Verizon and Inland Cellular even have a hint of service here. And then it is very spotting and intermittent. You have to travel at 20 miles, as the crow flies, to get service from AT&T or T-Mobile.

Their satellite ISP has an advertised (but never realized) download rate of 1.5 Mbs and upload of 256 kps plus a download data limit of 17 Gbytes per month. Ping times are in the 1.25 second range. If you watch a few movies and do a bit of web browsing you exceed that data limit. This is so much better and they will have a solid Verizon connection in their house in a few hours.