A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for July, 2011

OS X Lion, Full Screen Applications, and Multiple Monitors

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Full-screen mode in OS X Lion seems like a gimmick feature to me so I’ve basically ignored it. After a while I thought about the fact that many of the applications I run are opened on their own dedicated virtual desktop which is kind of like full-screen mode so I thought it would be worth experimenting with the gimmick.

My conclusion is that this feature is still a gimmick. Why? There is no support for multiple monitor setups. If you put an application in full-screen mode on a computer with multiple monitors hooked up the application will be displayed on the primary monitor while the second one will be greyed out. This part makes sense but when you put a second application in full-screen mode is basically creates a new virtual desktop with the application on the primary monitor and the second monitor greyed out. It would seem to me having an option to have the second full-screen application open on the second monitor that isn’t being used by the first full-screen application would make a whole lot of sense.

I’m really hoping VMWare Fusion doesn’t being utilizing Lion’s full-screen API because as it currently sits I can have a virtual machine in full-screen mode on one monitor and other applications on a second monitor.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 27th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Technology

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The Government, First They Banned Felons From Owning Guns Then They Gave Felons Guns

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If people actually paid attention to the ongoing fallout of Operation Fast and Furious there would likely be some outrage. Not only did the Department of Justice (DoJ) allow guns to cross the border and armed Mexican drug cartels which lead to the death of two border patrol agents, but they also allowed felons to purchase firearms:

In the latest chapter of the gunrunning scandal known as Operation Fast and Furious, federal officials won’t say how two suspects obtained more than 360 weapons despite criminal records that should have prevented them from buying even one gun.

Under current federal law, people with felony convictions are not permitted to buy weapons, and those with felony arrests are typically flagged while the FBI conducts a thorough background check.

However, according to court records reviewed by Fox News, two of the 20 defendants indicted in the Fast and Furious investigation have felony convictions and criminal backgrounds that experts say, at the very least, should have delayed them buying a single firearm. Instead, the duo bought dozens of guns on multiple occasions while federal officials watched on closed-circuit cameras.

Congressional and law-enforcement sources say the situation suggests the FBI, which operates the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, knowingly allowed the purchases to go forward after consulting with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which initiated Operation Fast and Furious.

It must be a wonderful thing for the government to have the power to pass laws and then violate them without fear of consequences. First they passed the Gun Control Act of 1968 which prohibited felons, including those convicted of non-violent crimes, from ever owning guns then they turn around and sell guns to known felons.

That’s kind of like the government telling use to live within our means while they rack up trillions of dollars in credit card debt (although they don’t call it a credit card it basically is). Hypocrisy isn’t appreciated by most people.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 27th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Glocks Are Popular With Many People

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Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell let us know that the Violence Promotion Policy Center (VPC) released a new whitepaper titled “The Glock: A Favorite of Mass Shooters.” If you want to read it hit the link, I’m not giving the VPN any link love.

Although VPC is trying to link the image of Glock pistols to mass shooters, as Sebastian noted, the Glock is simply popular. The pistol is loved by police departments, sport shooters, people who carry firearms, and even some collectors. I personally use a Glock 21SF for United States Practical Shooters Association (USPSA) matches and carry a Glock 30SF. If there is any question about the popularity of Glocks just look up the numerous accessories that are available for them. Companies release accessories because Glocks are popular; it’s the same reason there are so many AR-15 accessories.

What I find most humerus about VPC’s whitepaper is that us gunnies are likely the only people who will read it. The anti-gun movement has basically become so irrelevant that the only people who read these whitepapers are either gunnies looking for a laugh and to point out the paper’s sheer stupidity and other people getting paid to talk about how evil guns are. I think the fact that violent crime rates have been going down even though more people are armed now thanks to more liberal (using the classical definition of the word) carry laws speaks volumes. Loosening gun restriction laws hasn’t lead to blood in the streets as the anti-gunners claimed would it would so people simply ignore them and their Chicken Little claims.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 27th, 2011 at 11:00 am

My Top Android Gripes

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Although I’ve switched over to an iPhone as my primary mobile communication device ever so often (usually when a new version of Android drops) I grab my Android handset and test it to see if any of my problems have been resolved. With the release of 2.3.5 for my Nexus S I decided to give Android another run through and I’ve found the following glaring problems:

Virtual Private Networking (VPN) still doesn’t work: How long as Android been out? Something approaching three years now I believe, and it still lacks functioning VPN capabilities. VPN isn’t exactly rocket science as Windows, Linux (which Android is bloody based off of), Mac OS, iOS, Palm OS, and WebOS all have functioning VPN capabilities. Why can’t Google get it working properly in their mobile OS?

No support for CalDAV or CardDAV: CalDAV and CardDAV are open standard protocols for remote calendaring and contact management. Once again I find that almost every other operating system on the planet, including iOS, have support for these two protocols. It seems trivial to me that a company the size of Google couldn’t just download an already completed CalDAV and CardDAV Linux client library and use it to add built-in support for both in Android.

No support for public-key identify certificates: I use self-signed certificates for my mail, calendar, address book, VPN, and HTTPS needs. Although Android has full support for IMAP (although using a separate e-mail client from their star GMail app) Android doesn’t have any way of importing identity certificates (which was a bitch I might add). Although I’ve been able to import my identify certificate Android seems unable to use it to identify TLS connections. When I connect to my IMAP server Android informs me that it can’t establish a chain of trust for for the server’s TLS certificate. Well the public key that establishes that chain of trust is right in the fucking certificate store, why not check there?

No method of encrypting data stored on the device: You know what’s nice about iOS? All of your data can be stored in an encrypted format meaning somebody can’t just grab the phone and download everything without knowing your password (it also makes wiping data from the phone quick as you can just erase the encryption keys). You know what’s not so nice about Android? There is no way to full encrypt everything stored on the phone. Once again full disk encryption isn’t exactly rocket science as Windows, OS X, and iOS all have that capability built-in.

I really want to like Android but Google makes it so damned difficult. If you’re willing to simply use Google’s service Android is decent (although you’re still fucked on the VPN side of things). But when you want to move off of Google’s services and use your own then Android becomes completely unusable. Why should Google care since they want people using their services? Simple, many businesses also need the very things I’ve mentioned. Without these capabilities Google is lacking the ability to make headway into many market sectors that Apple is currently moving into. In addition to that all the problems I’ve listed are gripes that people have posted in the Android support and development forums meaning I’m not the only one wanting these features.

On top of that I’m of the firm belief that a feature advertised in the operating system should work. Android has a preference pane to enter VPN settings and it has a preference pane to import certificates but neither feature works. It looks damn sloppy when your operating system advertises a feature that isn’t functional. Hell, it’s not just that these features aren’t functional, it’s that Android has been out for roughly three years and the features still aren’t functional.

Once again I’ve given Android a chance and found it lacking. I’ll patiently wait for the next Android release where I’ll start this cycle all over again and hope that some of these features are actually working then.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 27th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Technology

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Thank You Captain Obvious

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Today Captain Obvious found fit to inform us of the bloody obvious with the following headline:

Norway killer insane, says lawyer

Yeah, no shit. But I would argue that his type of insanity doesn’t qualify for a defense against the murder or 76 (new number listed on the story) people. If you read (or even skim) his manifesto it’s obvious that he has enough cognitive capabilities to understand the difference between right and wrong (his belief of what is right or wrong is scary though). Just because he managed to justify his desire to kill to himself doesn’t mean he was unable to understand what he was doing was not only wrong but, at the very least, illegal.

I believe he was fully aware of his actions and thus the insanity defense isn’t something I’m buying into.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 27th, 2011 at 10:00 am

A Rather Pointless Endeavor

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Sometimes I look at a newly announced product and simply ask, “Why?” This is rare for me because I recognize that there are many different people with many different needs but sometimes even that fact doesn’t explain the reason a product managed to see the light of day. Canon just announced a new device that is an amalgamation of a Bluetooth laser mouse and a 10-digit calculator.

You know what program all computers have on them? A calculator. It’s true, even your damned cell phone has a bloody calculator built in. Since our computers already have calculator programs included what do we want a mouse that also has a built-in calculator? I could think of a great many other, more useful, gadgets to include in a mouse.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 26th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I’ve Been Saying This About Bitcoin For a While

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As I hang out with a large circle of liberty minded people the topic of Bitcoin comes up frequently. Generally there are two schools of thought when it comes to Bitcoin; the school that believes Bitcoin is our salvage from government controlled money and the school that thinks Bitcoin is a fad that will die out soon enough.

Although I find many things to like about Bitcoin anonymity isn’t one of them. People often tout Bitcoin as being anonymous and state that as a huge plus. The problem comes from the fact that every Bitcoin transaction ever made is forever stored in the Bitcoin network. This means if somebody is able to tie a Bitcoin wallet ID to a person they could begin the process of tying other walled IDs to people. This can be done pretty easily through data mining (or, if the first wallet ID was discovered through computer access, potentially looking through the user’s Bitcoin address book).

Well somebody finally did some experimentation and demonstrated what I’ve been saying:

Anonymity is not a prominent design goal of Bitcoin. However, Bitcoin is often referred to as being anonymous. We have performed a passive analysis of anonymity in the Bitcoin system using publicly available data and tools from network analysis. The results show that the actions of many users are far from anonymous. We note that several centralized services, e.g. exchanges, mixers and wallet services, have access to even more information should they wish to piece together users’ activity. We also point out that an active analysis, using say marked Bitcoins and collaborating users, could reveal even more details. The technical details are contained in a preprint on arXiv. We welcome any feedback or corrections regarding the paper.

Arguments about the merits of Bitcoin as a competing currency to currently government controlled monies are still relevant but please stop claiming the advantage of anonymity. If you want the most anonymity in your transactions use physical commodities. Any electronic currency system needs to ensure transactions are valid in order to prevent counterfeiting, and thus devaluation. The only way to do this is to know the entire history of each monetary unit which necessarily involves keeping records of every transaction. As transactions occur between individuals some method can always been used to tie a specific monetary unit to a particular person.

Physical commodities aren’t reproducible without physical effort which negates the need to have some kind of record of every transaction that commodity has been through.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 26th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Posted in Technology

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My Review of Captain America

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I watched Captain America this weekend and thought I’d give everybody my thoughts on the movie (because my opinion is so important). The movie itself can be summed up by the following:

From a film titled Captain America this shouldn’t be surprising to anybody (although I did hear one person tell me that the biggest problem with Captain America was that the film was overly patriotic, I believe it was also a revelation to this individual when he discovered water is wet).

Obviously there could be some spoilers so if you’ve not yet seen the movie and wish everything to be a surprise stop reading now.

Captain America follows a scrawny Brooklyn kid wanting to join the Army during World War II. He keeps getting rejected because he’s medically ineligible for service, but damn it he keeps trying by going from recruitment center to recruitment center hoping one of the medical examiners will miss is numerous ailments. A scientist just happens to come across the kid at a recruitment center and decides he’s the perfect candidate for an experiment.

The experiment involves jacking the kid up with some magical serum that turns regular men into super awesome men that can jump higher and run faster than even the best athletes. It’s a superhero move so the story doesn’t have to make sense, just sit back and enjoy the ride. The beginning of the movie involves Chris Evan’s face CG’d (computer graphic’d) onto the body of a much smaller and scrawnier actor. Honestly I found this a bit distracting but it certainly was a better option than having a completely separate actor play little Captain America and then replacing him with a larger actor partway through the movie. Trust me you can easily ignore the obvious CG for a while.

The main bad guy is played by Hugo Weaving who happens to be one of my favorite actors, this was a huge plus in my book. Tommy Lee Jones plays, well, Tommy Lee Jones which is always good. After some time Captain America is tasked with fucking up Hydra’s (a fictional Nazi research brigade) new weapons that appear to be some kind of plasma cannons. Once again reality takes a back seat because this is a damned super hero movie, not a historical piece.

The rest of the movie can be summed up as Captain America kicking Nazi ass. If there is a person on this planet that can’t bring themselves to enjoy some good old fashion Nazi killing then make sure you never take movie advice from them. Nazi killing is always a plus in movies and Captain America has plenty of it.

Obviously all is well at the end as Captain America wins the day. After the credits finish rolling a trailer for The Avengers is played and informs the audience that the movie come out next summer.

On Chris’s scale of arbitrary ratings I give this movie a four out of five racoons. Why racoons? Fuck you that’s why, it makes just as much sense as stars. Either way this movie entertained me and that’s all I ask in exchange for a good rating. The movie didn’t get a full five racoons because it’s not Jurassic Park, didn’t star Clint Eastwood, and Iron Man was nowhere to be found. Still it was a fun movie so get your ass to the theater to watch it (or don’t, I really don’t care what you do).

Written by Christopher Burg

July 26th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Side Notes

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Senate Demonstrates Opposition to UN Arms Trade Treaty

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The United Nations (UN) is nothing by a giant inter-government circle-jerk. I imagine UN meetings to be composed of members nations sitting in a giant room and telling each other how awesome they are and how much the stupid slaves need them. With this understanding it’s no surprise that the UN doesn’t believe civilians should have the right to keep and bear arms; after all if those stupid slaves could be a threat to the glorious governments of the world it would be harder to shut them up and make them obey orders.

Currently the UN has been promoting its Arms Trade Treaty which is nothing more than an attempt to further disarm non-government entities of the world. It’s nice to know that our current “representatives” like to pay lip service to the Second Amendment which has caused a good chunk of the Senate to write Obama and inform him that the UN Arms Trade Treaty will be opposed:

As of this morning, a majority of 51 bipartisan members of the U.S. Senate have signed letters to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton saying they will oppose any Arms Trade Treaty that includes civilian firearms ownership. These strongly worded letters caution the President and Secretary of State to uphold the Constitution of the United States. As Senator Moran’s letter warns, “(A)s the treaty process continues, we strongly encourage your administration to uphold our constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership. These freedoms are non-negotiable, and we will oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty presented to the Senate that in any way restricts the rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens to manufacture, assemble, possess, transfer or purchase firearms, ammunition and related items.”

Of course it would have been better if the language were changed to, “These freedoms are non-negotiable, and we will oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty presented to the Senate.” Don’t tack on all the flowery shit at the end, just say you’ll outright oppose ratification of the Arm Trade Treaty regardless of what it says. For starters the United States shouldn’t be participating in the UN at all, but we certainly shouldn’t be signing UN treaties. The UN is nothing more than an orgy of big government supporters and no person can support such an organization and be a proponent of liberty.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 26th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Gun Rights

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Norway’s Maximum Prison Sentence Isn’t Exactly a Maximum

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Some of the buzz surrounding the recent tragedy in Norway is dealing with the fact that the maximum prison sentence you can serve in that country is 21 years. A lot of people are rather upset that the man who has admitted to the attacks which killed 93 people may spent a paltry 21 years in prison. Oh ye of little faith. The state always makes exceptions in their rules that allow them to punish somebody more severely than generally believed. Norway does have an exception to their maximum 21 year prison sentence rule:

Norway’s mass killer faces a maximum jail term of just 21 years. Astonishingly, that is the longest sentence available to judges in Norway’s benevolent justice system.

[…]

Only in exceptional cases, if officials consider a prisoner is still highly dangerous, will sentences be extended for additional five-year blocks.

Judging by the man’s actions and material he’s produced I’d say justification for him being a continued danger to society wouldn’t be hard to come by. The man who claimed responsibility in this case very well could spend the rest of his life in prison so long as he’s judged a continued threat to society every five years.

Never believe stories that claim a state has established limitations on the amount of punishment they can dole out. In this case I believe the attacker deserves far more than a mere 21 years in prison and I’m betting he’ll get far more.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 26th, 2011 at 10:00 am