Wednesday, May 20, 2009

UNIX Humor


I don't show it a lot here, but I am a geek. I do UNIX systems administration work, and if you don't know it yet, those who work with UNIX have a special humor when it comes to their work. You can find evidence of this in the source code comments of just about any independently-developed open source software project. Running a grep -Ri [enter your choice of colorful word here] * in the Linux kernel source tree for example, will present you with a long list of interesting and exciting commentary on the code or hardware the programmer was working with. This will provide hours of entertainment for the right kind of geek. My personal favorite was a comment, probably typed out of frustration, by whomever was writing kernel code for the Sparc platform eons ago. Sadly, that part of the kernel appears to have gone away in the more recent 2.6 versions. I actually went and downloaded a 2.4 kernel just now to find it. I won't post it here verbatim, to keep the blog family-friendly, but it involves tender intimate relations with a chainsaw. For those of you geeky enough and curious, it's located in arch/sparc/kernel/ptrace.c of the 2.4 source tree.

Anyhow, some of this humor will occasionally spill over into error messages seen by sysadmins like yours truly. I came across one today that had me laughing out loud. Part of my duties of recent involve getting some of the servers to keep proper time, implementing ntpd to accomplish the task. The internal clock on the particular server I was working on had drifted forward a bit since it was last synchronized, so I ran ntpdate to get it current. Some software isn't written to handle a backwards time shift, and I soon found out that this was the case with our ssl-enabled POP and IMAP daemon. It had crashed when I changed the time, and since I wasn't yet very familiar with the server, I had to go and figure out which daemon I needed to restart. A quick check of the logs informed me that it was dovecot, so I went and started the service up again. Now, the nice developers of dovecot added the handy feature that if the service crashed previously, the error message indicating the likely cause will be printed out for you when you start it back up again. I also found that the dovecot developers have a sense of humor. And apparently, dovecot is emo.


[root@mail ~]# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/dovecot start
Starting dovecot.
Warning: Last died with error (see error log for more information): Time just moved backwards by 418 seconds. This might cause a lot of problems, so I'll just kill myself now.

I'll leave you with that. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Search Engine Shenanigans

Taking a cue from Marko over at The Munchkin Wrangler, I thought it would be fun to compile some of the interesting search terms that lead people to my blog. I can't fathom the amount of traffic Marko gets in order to compile such an awesome list of search terms WEEKLY, as it has taken me since January to get what I have below. Even with all that time, my search engine hits can't compare to the awesomeness he gets. This will definitely not be a weekly thing - more like every few months. It is fun, though.

overheard in austin

This is the most popular search result in my logs. People who got to my blog via this search end up at this post. The origins of the "overheard in" sites come from the blog titled "Overheard in New York", a collection of funny, interesting, and disturbing quotations overheard and submitted by folks going about their daily lives in New York City. It has produced a number of copycat sites featuring various cities, but I'm unaware of a site specifically dedicated to conversations "Overheard In Austin", rather there seem to be only smatterings of blog entries on the subject, such as mine.

"open carry california!"

Being that you can only open carry an unloaded gun, the magical buffer zones surrounding the areas that are "protected" from such an activity are ridiculously large, and the fact that California has some of the more ridiculous gun laws in the country, I'd say it's more trouble than it's worth. Then again, pretty soon the state won't have the money to pay for police to arrest you for doing so anyway, so perhaps it won't matter. I'm not going to knock anyone that wants to do it, I just don't see the point.

Actually, I'm aware that this is actually the name of someone's blog. I have no idea how a google search for that term landed someone over here. I don't recall ever discussing open carry or California.

against gun control


all i really need you in my life

This sounds like either a gospel song, or an emo cry for help. I haven't decided which it's more likely to be yet.

blackhawk shotgun cheek rest pad shell holder reviews

If you're referring to the BLACKHAWK! PowerPak made specifically for the SpecOps Stock... It functions well. I have no need for the high pad, as I don't have optics or rifle sights mounted to my shotgun. The low pad is really just some thin plastic over the top of the stock (like a saddle) that holds everything else on. It is the perfect height for using bead sights with the SpecOps, much better than the stock that came with the 870. The PowerPak includes a 5-shell saddle and a small cylindrical watertight container on the opposite side, supposedly for spare batteries for your mounted light or something. I have no real need for the little compartment, and haven't found a use for it yet. If I ever want to keep something quite small from getting wet while toting my shotgun, then I'm ready.

browning hi power argentina matte finish

Yeah, that's pretty much the only finish they come in.

clothing that i really need blog

Well, that's not really what this blog is about, but I would suggest checking out 5.11 Tactical's line. I heartily recommend the Holster Shirt and the Tactical Shirt. Both are great for concealed carry, and the Tactical Shirt has many nice features, such as secret pockets and multiple places to stash a pen.

fm hi-power grip removal

It's the same as with any other Hi-Power. There are two screws about halfway up rear portion of the grip. Take those out, and it comes right off.

is that a pistol in your pocket

Yes. Yes it is.

liberals in austin

They are many, but they are not necessarily like those in the Northeast or West Coast. See the link in the first item on this list for more details.

model 444 ultralite 44 magnum revolver

The first gun I ever considered buying. I was cured of the urge by a good friend who directed me to something more sensible. Unless you have a very specific need for it or would like to bruise your hands and develop a serious flinch, you probably don't want to get one.

pachmayrs that fit feg pa-63

I'm not sure such a thing exists. Honestly, I'd take the money and put it towards getting a better gun. I love my PA-63 and all, but they aren't the most comfortable guns to shoot, and the slide bite tends to draw blood after a while, unless you have small hands. If it's all you've got, work on adjusting your grip, which helped me considerably.

what are the negatives with knoxx specops shotgun stock?

Compared to a normal shotgun stock, any pistol gripp long gun stock is going to be slower to shoulder from a normal carrying position. Many folks experience a loosening of the bolt that holds the stock to the receiver, though I'd venture to say that these folks probably didn't use the recommended blue locktite mentioned in the installation instructions. Beyond these two things, I can't think of anything negative about the stock. I absolutely love the thing.

who are you really?conclusion

Just a guy in Texas.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Shooter Range Report

I mentioned yesterday morning that I was heading out to the range with a young lady who has been a friend of the family for over two decades. We'd not talked much in the last couple of years, so when she said that we should do something together, I naturally suggested going to the range. She accepted, and told me about her only previous shooting experience with her then-boyfriend. It was reminiscent of some of the "What NOT to do" posts I've been reading recently. From her descriptions, he'd set her up with some sort of .40 S&W handgun, gave her no proper instruction, and let the recoil do the rest.

So we set a range date for Saturday morning, with barbecue to commence afterwards in nearby Lockhart (the barbecue capital of Texas). Saturday came, and I arrived at her family's house. We reviewed the Four Rules together again, and I with started a familiarity lesson in the use of the firearms I brought along for the day. A good hour and a half later, we prepared to head out.

She hadn't expected us to spend anywhere near the time we did working on safety and operation lessons, and as it was nearing noon by the time we approached Lockhart, we opted for lunch first. We picked Smitty's Market, and had a nice meal of brisket and pork ribs, topped off with cones of Blue Bell ice cream for dessert.

Once we were sufficiently stuffed full of meaty goodness, we headed to the range. We started out with the Walther P22 at a range of 5 yards, using paper plates as targets. Going into this, she'd let me know that she was afraid of guns mainly due to inexperience, and that her previous experience had not helped. Knowing that the best way to remedy such a problem was to provide a safe and fun shooting experience, I looked for a more secluded part of the range for better personal interaction.

Much to our benefit, it was a somewhat hot day and range traffic was sparse. We happened to come up just as the last CHL shooting qualification test let out, and got the entire bay to ourselves. We started at a relaxed pace, and assured her that I would be there to help her with anything and to answer whatever questions she had. We got our targets stapled to the boards and placed, and she took her first shot. The first piece of brass came back and hit her in the chest, reaffirming why I recommended not wearing an open-top shirt to the range. I'm glad I remembered that little piece of advice. She was obviously nervous, so we spent time discussing specifics of the guns and ammo, and what they do and do not do. Apparently the myth that guns just "explode" is alive and well. I explained what conditions would cause such a thing to happen, and than it is almost entirely an ammunition problem, most often associated with improperly loaded handloads or squibs. As time went on, she got a little more relaxed.

We moved on to shooting a Marlin Model 60 .22LR rifle at 10 yards. She found immediately that she liked the rifle much more than the pistol. Aim was much more natural (as I would expect), and her consistency improved the more she shot. We worked a bit with grip and stance, and moved on to working with the Browning Hi-Power. While the loud report and recoil was a bit daunting at first, she found that the larger and more complete grip made it easier and much more fun to shoot. After she was comfortable with the gun, I grabbed the camera and got some great shots with brass in the air, such as the one below.

Time flew by, and before we realized it, the time was nearing 5:00. It's a ways back to Austin, and it was election day for the local mayoral and city council elections (I needed to be back before the polls closed at 7:00), so I put up a couple of Dirty Bird targets to give her something to take home. She shot her favorite gun - the Marlin Model 60 - again from 10 yards, and got all 17 shots inside the 9 ring. We wrapped it up and headed back. She thanked me profusely for taking her out and having the patience to help her work through everything. It was definitely my pleasure. She had a great time and is already wanting to go out again, even arranging to bring her brother and sister along for the next trip.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Heading to the range.

I've got some range time arranged with a family friend today. I've seen several posts in the past couple of weeks about guys who think it's funny to take their girlfriend to the range for the first time with little or no instruction, give her some hand cannon and let her beat herself up with the gun. My friend is one of these unfortunate ladies. What's worse, is that he knew full well that she was afraid of guns in the first place.

Fortunately, she's no longer involved with that bastard, and has the courage and will to take steps to overcome her fears. We're going to have a proper safety briefing and familiarization with all the weapons she will be potentially operating before heading out today. I've already tasked her with memorizing the Four Rules as her homework, so we've got a good start already.

We'll be starting out with the Walther P22 and Marlin 60, and move on from there if she's comfortable doing so. I took note of JayG's methods and went out and bought a package of paper plates - 80 for $2,59. Sure beats targets for cost. I am bringing along some "Dirty Bird" splatter targets, so she has something to take home and/or show off, but we'll start off with the plates first, for simplicity's sake.

I'll post a range day report this evening.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Blast from the recent past.

A friend posted this 2003 IBM commercial recently. It's kind of creepy/eerie , especially the personification of Linux as a child. One of the things that might be immediately concerning are the somewhat socialist undertones.

There is, however, a distinct difference between the open source software movement and political socialism. Specifically, participation in OSS development is completely voluntary with the goal of creating something for the sake of meeting a need, or within capitalist structures - namely companies like IBM who benefit financially from its development on the whole. Open Source Software by its very nature is transparent, and anyone who wishes may modify it to fit a specific need or preference. Linux is a beautiful example of what can be created when a large community gets together with the aim to create something to fill a need without a corporate or government bureaucracy handing down edicts to benefit its own narrow goals of obtaining money and power.

Here's the video.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Status update and blogroll additions.

I apologize for the lack of original posts as of late. I have been attending to the business of securing new employment, and simply haven't had time to do much here. The discussion in the preceding posts hasn't really progressed, simply because I haven't had time to pay attention to it. I may get back around to it eventually, but not right now. Too much to do. I have secured gainful employment once again, so once I normalize my routine, I'll get back to the serious business of writing new entries.

I've been collecting new blogs for a blogroll addition over the past couple of weeks, so I'm going to go ahead and post them here.

Confessions of a Gun Toting Seagull is the writings of a private charter pilot and fellow gunblogger conspirator, aepilotjim. I've been meaning to add him for a while, but the notion has always escaped me when I did blogroll addions in the past. Now that's remedied. has a lot of practical tips for self-defense and use of force. Good reading when you're thinking of "what if" scenarios.

Sipsey Street Irregulars - lots of good political commentary, gun-related and otherwise.

Shangrila Towers - a geeky fellow whose writings are interspersed between technical gadgetry, movies, music, and guns. Sitemeter informed me of my addition to his blogroll, and I was flattered at his description of my blog: "He posts less frequently than I do, but the posts are much longer and more detailed - nice for grabbing a mug of coffee and pondering.". Welcome to the blogroll, Mulliga.

ricketyclick is a good mix of political and gun-related content and interesting oddball entertainment pieces. Whee!

Ballistic Deanimation - an almost exclusively gun-related blog, with the occasional saddening or funny story regarding the state of society. Appears to have BOFH tendencies, which makes my SysAdmin self giggle.