A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘Review’ tag

Feedbin

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Yesterday I said I was going to try Feedbin, a potential replacement for Google Reader, when Reeder was updated to support it. This is where I admit that I’m not a patient man, when there is something new and shiny to try out I want to try it right now. Needless to say I decided to open a Feedbin account and give it a try even though Reeder doesn’t support it yet.

I’ll save you a lengthy writeup of my initial impressions and just give a bullet point summary of my thoughts.

The Good

  • It successfully imported my feeds from the file Google Takeout provided me.
  • The site always uses Hypertext Transfer Secure (HTTPS) (I’m still baffled by the number of sites that use unsecured connections).
  • The web interface, both on desktop and mobile systems, is very clean and straight forward.
  • Adding new feeds is very easy (I’m surprised by the number of Really Simply Syndication (RSS) clients and services that fail in this regard).
  • No advertisements.
  • You can easily export your list of subscriptions.
  • The developer is pretty upfront about planned features for the service.

The Bad

  • No way (at least that I’ve found) to rename feeds or tags.
  • No way (at least that I’ve found) to easily delete tags, you have to remove the tag from each feed individually.
  • The interface doesn’t allow you to sort feeds based on tags.
  • It’s currently unsupported by Reeder (this isn’t Feedbin’s fault, but it’s an important feature for me).

The Indifferent

  • It’s not free (which is why there are no advertisements).
  • There’s a complete lack of social media features (I’m not against social media features, I just don’t use them).

Overall I like the service so far. While part of me still isn’t used to paying for an online service the other part of me that enjoys a complete lack of advertisements and other attempts of monetizing user data is quite content. When you sign up on the site it notifies you that your card won’t be charged if you cancel within the first three days. Since I like what I’ve seen so far I’m going to pay the whopping $2.00 and try it for an entire month.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 3rd, 2013 at 11:00 am

Posted in Technology

Tagged with ,

PMC Ammunition Review

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Like numerous other gun bloggers I was contacted by Anthony at LuckyGunner with an offer of free ammunition in exchange for a review. My guess is that these offers are being sent out as part of a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy. I’m OK with that, offering free ammunition in exchange for a writeup that gives another link to LuckyGunner is a perfectly fair trade in my opinion. Unfortunately due to holiday craziness and rather unpleasant weather it took me some time to get to the point of actually testing the ammunition. LuckyGunner sent me 100 rounds of PMC .45 Auto, which I tested in my Glock 30SF, Glock 21, and Beretta CX4 (because I’m the only person dumb enough to get a CX4 in .45 Auto). Due to the weather we’re currently subjected to in Minnesota I did a simple function test. That is to say I just tested if the ammunition worked or not, I didn’t haul out my chronography to get muzzle velocity reading. Needless to say the ammunition worked in all three guns without any trouble. Granted my Glocks have eaten everything I’ve fed them and my CX4 only gets cranky when fed Wolf ammunition so I wasn’t expected any problems.

With all of that said there is one thing I want to mention about PMC .45 Auto ammunition, they use large pistol primers. I reload almost all of my own ammunition and have noticed several companies moving to small pistol primers for their .45 Auto brass. This move pisses me off because nothing puts the brakes on a reloading run like a brass case refusing to accept a primer. One of my biggest criteria for .45 Auto ammunition is whether or not the brass uses large pistol primers. If the brass does use large pistol primers it’s good, if it uses small pistol primers it’s bad. This is because .45 Auto, being a low pressure cartridge, can be reloaded numerous times. Buying factory ammunition is a painful ordeal because it involves paying far more than I can reload for so I try to recoup some of the costs in reloading the casings. The more times I can reload a case the more of my costs I can recoup.

In conclusion I have no problem recommending PMC ammunition. It functions and the cases can be reloaded, which are my only two major criteria.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 29th, 2013 at 10:00 am

My Initiation iPhone 5 Impressions

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On Black Friday I was made aware of the fact that AT&T had refurbished iPhone 5s for sale. This caught my eye because the cost of refurbished iPhone 5s was $100.00 less than brand new ones and still came with the same warranty. On top of that my contract was up so I was eligible for one of those steeply subsidized discounts that are all the rage with cellular phone users. I upgraded my old iPhone 4 for a new black iPhone 5 with 64GB of storage.

Although I’ve only had the phone for a few hours I feel safe giving my initial impressions. Overall I like the new iPhone. Apple installed a taller screen that, thankfully, is the same width at the iPhone 4 screen (I can still operate the phone with one hand, something that becomes more difficult as phone width increases) and Long Term Evolution (LTE) radios. Another positive change is a mostly aluminum back plate, which I hope it more sturdy than the iPhone 4’s glass back plate (I never broke mine but I know many who did).

Beyond those changes, some notable hardware improvements, and a new connector (which I’ll rant about in a bit) the iPhone 5 is a standard iPhone. If you like the previous iPhones you’ll probably like the iPhone 5 and if you disliked the previous iPhones you’ll probably dislike the iPhone 5.

Compared to the iPhone 4 the iPhone 5 feels like a toy. That’s not to say it doesn’t feel sturdy, the phone doesn’t creak or make any other odd sounds when you press on it, it’s just light. In fact it’s so light that it feels like an empty casing in your hand when compared to the iPhone 4. I doubt the weight difference is going to be appreciated by anybody as it is a very minor thing but it’s still something to note.

Since I upgrade from an iPhone 4 I never had much hands on experience with Siri. Siri is a pretty nice feature and has worked reasonably well for the minor testing I’ve performed so far. I should note that I’ve had great success with voice recognition software on Android so my expectations were high from the beginning. My testing consisted of performing searches, sending text messages, opening applications, and telling Siri to go fuck herself. Overall I was impressed although I must note that many foreign works are not transcribed properly by Siri (try doing a search for Odin, Thor, or any other Norse god and you’ll be amused with the results you get). Siri also has a decent sense of humor. When I asked “Do you know HAL-9000?” the response was “Everybody knows what happened to HAL, I’d rather not talk about it. But if you insist:” and the option to search the web for HAL is available. Little touches like that amuse me greatly and I do appreciate the attention to detail in that regard.

I was surprised to find an LTE signal in my dwelling. As far as I knew AT&T had not rolled out LTE in the Twin Cities yet. Even though LTE comes with the promise of blazing speed I ran a speed test on my LTE connection and was left wanting. The average download speed was a pathetic 4.63Mbps and the average upload speed was an even more pathetic 2.56Mbps. Perhaps the slow speeds are due to the fact that LTE is technically rolled out in the Twin Cities yet or it could be due to a ton of iPhone 5 users connecting to the LTE tower and soaking up all the glorious bandwidth. Either way I plan to do more speed tests in the future to see if things improve.

One of the most notable changes on the iPhone 5 is the connector. Gone are the days of the 30-pin iPod connector that has served use so well. In its place we now have Apple’s new connector which they dub Lightening. What does this mean for you? It means all of those 30-pin connectors you’ve been collecting over the years are worthless. Considering the number of Apple devices I’ve purchased over the years this is a big headache for me. Of course Apple sells a 30-pin to Lightening adaptor but at $29.00 you’re better off buying new cables, which Apple only wants $19.00 for. I understand why Apple is moving away from the 30-pin connector as it takes up a notable amount of room but it’s still annoying.

Speaking of annoying Apple has included one of my biggest phone pet peeves on their newest phone; the headphone jack is on the bottom instead of the top. Granted moving the headphone connector is a minor inconvenience but it still pisses me off. Why should my phone be upside down just to have headphones plugged into it? Unless you’re going to say “It shouldn’t,” don’t bother answering that question because you’re wrong.

Overall I like the new iPhone although I will admit it’s not that much of an upgrade over the iPhone 4. If I had to summarize the difference between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 I would say the latter is merely a collection of nice, albeit minor, improvements that have become available over the last two years. Nothing about it is Earth shattering but I felt it was worth the upgrade cost. My feelings are obviously subject to change based on future experience but so far I’m impressed.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 27th, 2012 at 11:30 am

Atlas Shrugged Review

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A couple of months ago I finally finished reading Atlas Shrugged. While I’ve attempted to read this book a few times before I could never get very far. Needless to say I decided to give it one last try because as a libertarian I’m expected to not only read this book but to memorized it and express my undying devotion of its author, Ayn Rand.

Apparently I’m not a very good libertarian because on an arbitrary scale from 0 to 1 I give Atlas Shrugged a 0.5. Some libertarians are likely to ask how I could avoid giving this tome any rating besides 1. Answering that question and others is fairly easy and if you want a more detailed review please read on.

First let me start by fully admitting my reason for not finishing the book on my previous attempts. The style of writing used by Ayn Rand falls squarely into the category of romanticism. Romanticism is a style of writing that became popular during the Age of Enlightenment and has several defining features, one of which is verbose scene descriptions. I’m not a fan of this type of writing because I have a functioning imagination and therefore don’t need fine details describing a scene. Personally I’m a fan of Isaac Asimov’s writing style, which can be best described as very clear and to the point with little ancillary detail given. Atlas Shrugged is hard for me to read because I find the writing style extremely boring.

Of course that’s not my only criticism of the book. Before delving farthing into the aspects I dislike about the title though I feel it best to explain what I did like (this part will contain spoilers, if you haven’t read the book and don’t want any parts spoiled just stop reading now). The core story of Atlas Shrugged is very good and does a great job of explaining the dangers of government regulations and collectivism. In the story we’re introduced to several extremely successful producers including the main star Dagny Taggart and her male counterpart Hank Rearden. Both Taggart and Rearden are the best in their field (railroad management and metallurgy respectively). Unfortunately the government in Atlas Shrugged mirrors our government today; it’s comprised almost entirely of dick bags.

The United States remains the last major state in the world that hasn’t turned entirely to socialism although it’s speeding down that highway. Members of the government and private industry have become infected with the ideas of the greater good, fairness, and other general collectivist ideals. Dagny’s brother, Jim, is the owner of Taggart Transcontinental, the company Dagney also works for. Unlike Dagney who is a capable and productive individual Jim is a complete putz who concerns himself with altruism (collectivist altruism, not true selflessness). While Dangy keeps trying to run the railroad Jim keeps making backdoor deals with government officials.

Throughout the story Taggart Transcontinental goes from the most successful railroad in the world to a failing company. Taggart Transcontinental isn’t the only failing company of course, every company is slowly dying due to ever increasing government regulation. Atlas Shrugged does a very good job of describing how government regulations can slowly pile up and start decimating private industry. Another thing this novel does well is celebrate the producer of goods and services.

Eventually the super hero of the story, John Galt, is introduced. Being the most intelligent man ever to walk on this planet Galt has come up with a plan to fight back; by going on strike. Throughout the story the most productive people in the United States disappear and it’s later revealed that Galt has been whisking them away to a secret location so their productive ability isn’t assisting the state. All the productive persons whisked away by Galt are hiding in a valley where they practice anarcho-capitalism (even though this is never stated but i’ll expand on that later). The people in the valley are actively practising agorism (once again this is never stated) as they have created a counter-economy separate from state influence.

The core story is the main attraction of this book and it is very good. Unfortunately this core story is buried under a pile of failure. This is the part of my review where I expect to hear calls for my crucifixion by other libertarians. Thankfully as a libertarian I’m well armed and therefore anybody coming to nail me to a cross is going to have a fight on their hands.

I mentioned that the people hiding in the valley were practicing anarcho-capitalism. The valley has no actual government although one former judge has been assigned the task to conflict resolution should the need ever arise. Since everybody in the valley has voluntarily agreed to the judge’s arbitration it can’t be said he is a state in any capacity. So we have a valley full of successful individuals who are practicing capitalism without any state involved.

This leads us to a logical fallacy that exists within Atlas Shrugged. It is stated that government is necessary to protect the people of a country yet the people in the valley prove otherwise. They exist under constant threat of state thugs marching in and arresting the lot of them but they managed to avoid this outcome by concealing their presence (they have a device that creates the illusion of the valley being empty). Likewise Rand explained the necessity of government in her essay The Nature of Government but wrote a story where her main characters, the heroes, demonstrated no such necessity exists. Were this merely a work of fiction I’d pay little attention to such a failure of logic but as this is a work of philosophy it needs to be brought to light, and that brings us to my next major criticism.

While Atlas Shrugged is written as fiction is it obvious Rand meant it to be a philosophical work. Rand wanted to write a hand guide to her philosophy of objectivism but must have believed wrapping it in the thin veil of a fictional universe would make it more approachable. Whatever her reason great lengths of the novel are dedicated to explaining objectivism without actually using the term. In fact John Galt spews out an insanely long monolog (I read the book on my Kindle so I lacked page numbers but I heard the number of pages to be roughly 75, which seems reasonable) that explains the finer details of objectivism. This monolog is legendary and for good reason as it’s basically the worst part about this book. Atlas Shrugged would have been greatly improved had Galt’s monolog been remove, placed into a separate paper about philosophy, and a brief summary had been given in place of the monolog.

Let’s talk about the characters. The characters in Atlas Shrugged would be more property placed in early Superman comics. What I mean by this is every character is one dimensional to a degree that’s impossible to overlook. Each good guy is wholly perfect while each bad guy is entirely disgusting. I’m not just talking about actions but even physically; the good guys are all described as representations of perfect human beauty while the bad guys are all beady eyed, fat, or otherwise physical unappealing. Every action taken by the good guys is met with success while the actions of the bad guys are always met with utter failure. I’m a fan of antiheroes like Spider Jerusalem, Marv from Sin City, Dirty Harry, and Snake Plissken because antiheroes are interesting as they have depth. While Snake Plissken is an ass who cares for little besides himself he still ends up saving the day in his own way. On the other hand I never enjoyed Superman because he was boring, he always did the morally correct thing. Unlike the good guys in Atlas Shrugged Superman actually fails from time to time, which creates some interest as you try to guess whether or not his current action will be successful or not.

There are also a concepts in Atlas Shrugged that were introduced and either forgotten or barely expanded upon. At one point the government develops a new super weapon, which I believe was meant to be a criticism of government’s general willingness to spend money on destructive means instead of productive means. With the introduction of this new weapon you would think it would eventually be used against the valley but the good guys residing there are too awesome to be located so that never happens. It was disappointing to read a great deal of buildup regarding this secret weapon only to have it play no significant importance to the greater story. Several other instances of this happen throughout the story.

Atlas Shrugged is my definition of mediocrity. Parts of the book are real page turners while other parts are difficult to get through. Galt’s monolog, by far the worst part of the book, took me a solid two weeks to get through because I could only tackle a page or two at a time before almost falling asleep. I honestly don’t think it’s a good novel and am confused why so many libertarians feel it is one of the greatest pieces of literature ever penned by human hands. If you want a fiction book that covers philosophy I’d recommend some Heinlein. Not only could the man write but his novels were interesting, his characters had depth, and his philosophy was secondary to the story as works of fiction should be.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 2nd, 2012 at 10:30 am

Posted in Side Notes

Tagged with

LR-308 Review

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It came to my realization that I’ve had my LR-308 for roughly one year now and so far haven’t actually written a review about the gun. Since I’m writing canned posts for your amusement I figured this is as good of time as any to finally write my review.

For those of you who don’t know the LR-308 is DPMS’s AR pattern rifle chambered in .308. While many often refer to it as an AR-10 it’s truthfully closer to an SR-25. Like the SR-25, the LR-308 shares many common components with the AR-15 including the trigger group, buffer tune, and stock. The LR-308 also uses SR-25 magazines so you can get inexpensive quality magazines from Magpul (which works perfectly in my rifle) instead of having to track down the far more expensive proprietary magazines used by the AR-10.

For reference this is a picture of my rifle:

I know it’s not the best picture but it was taken with the camera on my iPhone is less than ideal light. Since taking this picture I’ve removed the Magpul pistol grip and replaced it with the original A2 grip. Unfortunately the storage compartment in the Magpul grip kept falling out every time I fired the gun. Some people may ask why I didn’t just continue using the Magpul grip without the storage compartment and to those people I can only reply that I’m somewhat obsessive compulsive and if something doesn’t work 100% I don’t want to use it at all. I’m not actually a fan of the standard A2 grip as I find it a bit small for my hands, which are more accustomed to the large grip of the Glock .45 pistols. In time I plan on swapping out the grip with a Hogue but for now I’m just leaving well enough alone.

Beyond that I also replaced the standard DPMS trigger group. The stock trigger was extremely gritty and not at all uniform in its pull weight so I decided to replace it with a Geissele SSA. The SSA is an amazing trigger that breaks clean and requires little in the way of pull weight. Of course for the price they’re asking it should be making me breakfast in the morning as well but as they say buy once, cry once.

You can also see that I attached a Magpul Angled Fore Grip 2 (I first purchased an first model Angled Fore Grip but the wings wouldn’t allow me to slide it one past the front sling attachement point). The vertical fore grips I’ve played with before have left me wanting whereas holding onto a Picatinny rail is nothing but an exercise in pain so I went somewhere in between. I have to say I really like the angled fore grip as it offers several different methods of gripping onto it and the angle is more comfortable to me than placing my hand against the hand guard flat.

Finally I swapped out the standard DPMS charing handle for a BCM Gunfighter Mod 4. While the AR style charging handle ensures one will always have to remove his face from the butt stock to charge the rifle I can at least do it with one hand easier. I like the larger latch as it allows me to manipulate the handle while wearing gloves much easier than the stock one.

Beyond the above mentioned modifications my LR-308 is basically a DPMS affair. The upper has a forward assit (which I’ll never use but it looks kind of neat), free floating quad rail hand guard, and a 20″ heavy barrel. What may not be apparent is the fact that the upper receiver is a flat top with an attached sight/carry handle combination. Why not fancy optics on a .308? It’s because I setup the rifle for use in 3-gun heavy metal division, which requires a .308 or larger caliber and iron sights only. I can always unbolt the carry handle and drop an optic onto the rifle if I so desired.

Now that I’ve talked about the features of my rifle you’re probably wondering how it shoots. I one word beautifully. While I’m not sure on the maximum accuracy of the rifle since I only have iron sights and nowhere beyond 200 yards to shoot it I can say it’s more accurate than I am. Without issue the rifle holds 1 minute of angle at 100 yards (the best I can do with iron sights).

Recoil is very mangeable. While my M1A SOCOM 16 isn’t very difficult to shoot I can say I notice the recoil on that rifle more than my LR-308. Most of this is probably due to the fact the M1A is a far lighter rifle but part of it is also likely due to the way an AR pattern rifle operates. Since the bolt goes straight back into the butt stock and is inline with your shoulder you don’t get the rifle attempting to pivot up at the grip.

With all this said the rifle isn’t perfect. One ding against it is the sheer weight, the gun probably weighs between 11 and 12 pounds. This isn’t a big deal for a 3-gun competition since you’re only moving with your rifle for a few minutes at a time but carrying this monster around in the woods during deer season wouldn’t be a lot of fun. Most of this weight can be attributed to the 20″ heavy barrel. Although I fully admit the barrel is heavy it also doesn’t heat up to the point of throwing rounds as quickly as my M1A SOCOM 16 does (once you dump a magazine through the rifle the barrel has heated up an absurd amount).

Beyond that there isn’t much to say. If you’re familiar with the AR-15 platform you’ll be right at home with this rifle. The only major difference is size, the LR-308 is scaled up to accomodate the larger .308 round. The controls including the magazine release, bolt release, and safety all function identically to a standard AR-15. Like a standard AR-15, the LR-308 also utilizes direct gas impingement, a system many mall ninjas revile for its lack of tacticoolness. Then again the people complaining about the gas system are also likely the people complaining about the rifle being a DPMS, a cardinal sin to the mall ninjas who feel the quality of the rifle directly correlates to the price.

Those looking for a quality .308 that won’t bust the bank I can highly recommend the LR-308. While I admit it isn’t as wizbang cool as a SCAR 17 it also won’t cost you even half as much and you can actually find magazines for this rifle (with that said I really want a SCAR 17 so if you’d like to donate one please e-mail me and I’ll let you know where to send it).

Written by Christopher Burg

January 19th, 2012 at 10:00 am

Glock 30 10-Round Magazines

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As my company is shutdown all week I have a nice little vacation going right now. For the first time in what seems like forever I was able to hit the range and decide to do a little practice with my Glock 30SF. While I love my 30SF there is one thing about it I don’t like, the 10-round magazines. I’m not sure what Glock was thinking when they manufactured these magazines but getting that last round into the magazine is tough. I don’t mean tough like a math test but tough like 300 Spartans being expected to hold back Xerxes’s entire fucking army. Worse yet if you do get the 10th round into the magazine without destroying your thumb or magazine loader you’re going to have a fun time slamming the magazine home if the slid isn’t locked back. Did I mention having the slide locked back and lead to another issue, when you release it there is no guarantee it will fly forward as that 10th round is often in no mood to move forward.

With all that said the magazine spring wears down over time and becomes usable. I honestly recommend pulling the magazine springs out of new 30SF 10-round magazines and working them for a while (just compress a few coils again and again until you’re bored. Why this is required on new factory magazines is beyond me but I know Glock isn’t one to admit mistakes and thus this problem will likely never be corrected.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 28th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

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As this is still a new movie I’ll try to avoid giving away any major spoilers but alas this review is not entirely without them. If you still haven’t seen the movie I recommend you go see it, if you’re looking for an entirely amateur review by a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character continue reading on.

While the new Sherlock Holmes movies are based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters and elements are taken from his writings most of the experience is new. I think the new writers have done a spectacular job of keeping the most critical elements of the story; Holmes and his characteristics, an entirely competent and capable Watson (most movies portray Watson as a bumbling idiot, nothing like the character in the origional writings), and in this movie they made a very convincing Professor Moriarty. Unlike the original writings the new movies have been far more action oriented, which is good considering the change of medium requires different elements to remain entertaining.

Anyhow this move finally introduces us to Moriarty, Holme’s arch-rival (who only appeared in two of the original writings). To say Moriarty is a total bad ass is an understatement, the man was the original super villain and equally capable as Holmes. This is one of the few movies I’ve seen based on Sherlock Holmes that does Moriarty justice. Instead of focusing on the man’s evil intent A Game of Shadows focuses heavily on his intelligence and comparability to Holmes. The movie is basically one giant chess match between Holmes and Moriarty… except with more explosions and far more gun play.

Yes the movie contains a great deal of gun play. Whereas Holmes and Watson periodically carried a pistol the original writings contained relatively little gun play. Considering the fact movies need to contain more action that movies if they are to be entertaining (in my opinion at least) the increase in action scenes was only logical. Lots of stuff blows up and/or gets shot.

I thought the story was well done and presented the strengths of both main characters. As the movie is a new release I’ll not delve into the overall story to any detail but I will say it’s good.

Overall I greatly enjoyed the move and on the Christopher Burg Scale of Arbitrary Ratings compromising fractional scores between zero and one I give A Game of Shadows a .9024. I highly recommend seeing it although I may be somewhat bias as Moriarty is one of my favorite literary characters of all time and this movie truly does him justice.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 27th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Side Notes

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Hobo With a Shotgun

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This weekend I had the opportunity to watch one of the few films that delivers exactly what the title promises. The movie is titled Hobo With a Shotgun and does in fact have a Hobo with a shotgun.

There isn’t much to say, the film is an exploitation piece so the gore content is extremely high while the story and writing are almost non-existent. You know what? That’s OK when the goal of the film is to replication exploitation films of yore. Instead of explaining the film I think two quotes pulled from the movie can actually sum up everything perfectly:

Drake: When life gives you razor blades… you make a baseball bat covered in razor blades.

After stating that Drake picks up a baseball bat that is covered in razor blades (and then hits somebody with it). The move it extremely literal. But the most iconic dialog in the entire film has to be the following:

Abby: You can’t solve all of the world’s problems with a shotgun.

Hobo: It’s all I know.

Seriously with awesome lines like that how can you go wrong? I attributed the second line to Hobo because the Hobo’s name is never given at any point in the film.

So what’s my rating on it? I don’t really have one, you should be able to tell for yourself whether or not you want to see it based on the information found at the provided IMDB link.

Written by Christopher Burg

August 23rd, 2011 at 10:30 am

Posted in Media

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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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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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