GSSF Match

So the Glock Sports Shooting Foundation (GSSF) match was this weekend. Although I was planning on attending Sunday I ended up going on Saturday instead. That proved to be a mistake honestly. I ended up sitting around way too much because of the number of people in attendance. I literally sat at one stage for over an hour which is well beyond my attention span (Wait is that something shiny!). The bottom line is if you plan on attending this event next year go on Saturday. That way there will be less people on Sunday so people showing up that day can just speed on through.

Now on to what I thought of the match itself. I started USPSA this year and have found it a lot of fun. I like the running and gunning aspect of the sport. Compared to that the GSSF match was very subdued. Of course the goal of GSSF is to setup a competition where everybody can compete on fairly equal ground. The only way to accomplish this is to remove aspects that most people don’t practice a lot such as reloads and movement. There is nothing wrong with that as it fits the goal of the sport. Basically I can compare GSSF to Bulls eye competition with Glocks. Accuracy is far more important in GSSF than time is (which really screwed me because I didn’t take the time for good accuracy and instead went for speed).

I got pretty bored due to the long waits (once again that was probably self-inflicted for not going Sunday). In USPSA while you’re waiting your turn to shoot you watch the other competitors run through the course. It’s fun to watch because each person can run the course in a completely different manner. Everything can change such as how fast they move, the order they take out the targets, when they will reload, when they will fall flat on their face, when their gun will jam up causing them to either perform a clearance drill or curse Loki for his trickery, etc. GSSF is much more subdued and I have a hard time watching people standing still and shooting targets. Almost all the variables are removed except how well the targets are hit.

The bottom line is I thought the competition was so-so. But I’m also a very impatient man who needs a lot of things happening to be entertained. I need sports with a lot going on to keep me interested. If you’re more into bulls eye competitions I think you’d love a GSSF match. Likewise if you like target shooting at the range but really want sometime more interesting than a single paper target I highly recommend GSSF. On the other hand if you’re into sports such as USPSA, IDPA, and three gun you may find GSSF a bit slow moving. Also there isn’t going to be a whole lot of conversation about different guns there because everybody has a Glock on them (yeah I like seeing all sorts of different guns at competitions, it’s interesting to see what people are using).

Now there is a good case to say I’m bitter because I did poorly in the event. I counter that by pointing out I do poorly in USPSA as well but thoroughly enjoy it. Yeah I did pretty bad at GSSF. Part of that can be attributed to my head simply not being in the game. As I said I got bored due to the long wait times. When I become bored an event becomes more about getting it done as quickly as humanly possible without regard to score. It’s not a good state of mind to be in to shoot a match.

So yeah GSSF wasn’t really my cup of tea but I recommend if you haven’t shot a match you should do it. You may absolutely love it, most people there did. And it is time on the range which can never be a bad thing.

My Take on Top Shots

So the first episode of Top Shots aired but fortunately it also appeared on Hulu so I could watch it (I don’t have cable, nor basic, my television is a fancy computer monitor). I watched the first episode last night and figured I’d post my take.

It’s obvious to me that this is a reality T.V. show. The show is definitely banking more on the drama caused by the interaction of characters than the characters’ capabilities with the various firearms. Yes I know that’s how you get ratings but alas I was disappointed in how little historical information was given on each firearm. Normally I’d expect this but being this is airing on the History Channel I was expecting some, you know, history. At the very least it would have been nice if the show would have had a short thirty second clip on each firearm. Nothing special mind you just something to justify this show being on the History Channel.

Like all reality television shows at the end of the episode somebody was “voted off the island.” This was done by having people vote for who they wanted to kick off the show by shooting targets with said person’s name on it. It was obvious to me that the creators of this show were really striving for some relevancy to firearms there.

But this show is primarily about the drama with the shooting and firearms coming in second. I guess I knew that’s how it was going to be since it was a reality T.V. show but I was expecting at least some justification for it being aired on the History Channel. Having this show on the History Channel makes about as much sense as having wrestling on the Sci-Fi channel… oh wait that actually happened.

Yeah I’m disappointed to say the least. If feel bad having to say that since the show does at least portray shooting in a positive light which I really appreciate. But it’s a reality T.V. show and I hate reality television. Likewise it’s a good overall concept, a competition where participants are expected to perform courses of fire with a vast array of different firearms. A lot could be done to appease both your average viewer and gun nuts but the creators seem exclusively focused on average viewers (I don’t really blame them it’s a good move as far as ratings go).

Needless to say I won’t be watching this show but I’m glad it’s on air just for the positive portrayal of the shooting sports. I wish Caleb at Gun Nuts Media luck in the competition. It would be great to see him win.

Freedom(TM) by Daniel Suarez

I mentioned during my review of Daniel Suarez’s Daemon that I’d do a review of its sequel, Freedom(TM), when I finished it. Truth be told I finished reading it some time back and never got around to writing this review. Yes I’m lazy deal with it. But for your reading pleasure here is a review on Freedom(TM).

First the spoiler free part of the review. The book is fan-fucking-tastic. I can say with a straight face that the Daemon series is one of the best I’ve read. The combination of characters, technology, and story blend very well together. It’s obvious Mr. Suarez has a real understanding of both modern mature technology and technology still in the prototype phase. The other obvious thing is Mr. Suarez knows how to tell a good story. The book is paced well meaning you don’t have to worry about long sections of the book that really accomplish nothing (also known as filler or padding). Every chapter has a purpose and reveals something interesting and advances the story.

The main thing that attracts me to this series is the combination of real technology and a good story. Daniel Suarez is like combing the late Michael Crichton with computer scientist (Mr. Suarez is a database consultant after all) and other scientists. This series is a technothriller although using believable technology is a believable manner. There are no self-replicating nanobots or faster-than-light ships. What the universe of Daemon does have are fabricators that can created objects out of base raw materials, optical weapons that can blind opponents temporarily, and vehicles which can be remotely controlled via satellites.

The biggest component of any story (besides the story itself obviously) are the characters. Mr. Suarez gives us a variety of characters from your average guy with good intentions to a sociopath on a mission of revenge. All the characters in this book are meaningful (so you don’t have a cast of throw away characters you could give two shits about) and have a purpose (once again not sources of filler material). Each character has some complexity behind them and all the major characters’s lives advance with the story (no forgotten characters in other words).

Be forewarned that there is no recap in this book meaning you really do need to read Daemon first. Personally I always read series novels in order but if you’re not one to do that you’ll be very confused by Freedom(TM).

So that’s the spoiler-free portion of the review, the book is amazing. Now for the detailed review.

Do note story spoilers for both Daemon and Freedom(TM) will be present from here on out. Don’t bitch if you see story elements revealed.

Freedom(TM) picks up where Daemon left off. In Daemon a computer game programmer left behind a daemon process which began executing a series of functions based on news headlines is scraped from the Internet. Ultimately the goal of the Daemon was to find agents to assist in creating a new society in the wake of the currently collapsing one. The Daemon infected the networks of most of the major corporations and siphoned money from them for use by the Daemon’s agents. From there the actual plan executed.

Freedom(TM) mostly reveals the ultimate plan of the Daemon which is to establish a self sustained society. When we pick up Freedom(TM) the world is in the wake of the greatest depression in history. There are no jobs to be had and money is quickly becoming as worthless as it’s true value (fiat money has no actual value). Mr. Sobol, the daemon’s creator, foresaw this and hence designed a mechanism to ensure long-term survivability of society.

This is accomplished by creating communities that have everything needed for all of the population in a 100 mile radius to survive and prosper. In essence a society which can exist without long supply chains or government (any question why I love this series so much). Each self-sustained area or holon consists of farms, schools, fabrication facilities (using 3D printers to construct anything needed), and a renewable power source. These holons are popping up in many areas during the time line of Freedom(TM). The purpose behind these self-sustaining holons is to, in essence, create a distributed society with no single points of failure. Any single holon can be destroyed without it causing troubles for any other holon thus making a durable and reliable society.

It can go without saying that the government and many major corporations (whom the Daemon is stealing funds from) don’t really like this idea. In Freedom(TM) the Daemon agent’s primary opponents is a mercenary private security company who thrives off of the current conditions. As you can expect the government is putting a ton of money into private security firms at this time. The military is stretched too thin and there is a lot of civil unrest.

At the disposal of the Daemon’s agents is very advanced technology. Not only do they have access to automated vehicles at this point but they also have small aerial craft that keep the skies clear, non-lethal sonic weapons, and MetalStorm style weaponry. As previously mentioned everything they need can be fabricated at most holons using 3D printers capable of using both metals and plastics as a base material. The Damon’s agents also have access to insurmountable amounts of information provided by a mesh network.

There are two main story arcs going on in Freedom(TM). The first I already mentioned which is current society’s conflict with the Daemon’s society. The second is the quest of Peter Sebeck. If you’ve read Daemon you know Mr. Sebeck. He’s brought back by the Daemon to fulfill a question, justify humanity’s freedom from the Daemon. The Daemon sends Sebeck and his partner around the country visiting several holons and discovering the daemon’s true purpose.

This is where I say go read the book. It’s honestly amazing. The story is unique and interesting. Likewise it’s well paced (I really hate books with long sections of nothing happening) which makes it a page turner throughout.

Comparing the Kindle and iPad

Every since the iPad was released I’ve been getting asked if I’m going to throw my Kindle away and replace it with Apple’s new device. My answer is always no which almost always causes the asking person to inquire why I’m not replacing my Kindle. Well simply put the iPad doesn’t do as good of a job as my Kindle at the one task I bought it for, reading books. So here is a comparison of the two devices as it relates to being e-readers.

Screen Technology

This is the most crucial element in this discussion for me. The iPad has a very nice looking screen. Unlike the Kindle the iPad’s screen is full color and higher resolution. Actually the fact it’s full color is generally the reason I hear from people who say I should dump the Kindle.

On the other hand the Kindle has an e-ink display. It’s a unique display for several reasons. First of all it doesn’t use a back light as LCDs do meaning you don’t get a harsh glow from it at the price of requiring lighting to read in the dark. The second difference between an LCD and e-ink display is the fact e-ink displays only use power when they are changing on screen elements. So long as nothing on the screen changes an e-ink display will not consume power meaning devices using these displays can have amazing battery life. And finally the third major difference is an e-ink display works in direct sunlight. You can read your Kindle on your deck, at the beach, or anywhere else bright sunlight can prevent a LCD from being usable.

Of course these advantages come at a cost. As previously mentioned e-ink displays are gray scale online while LCDs have full color. Additionally the refresh rates of e-ink displays is pretty bloody slow. While you can watch a fast paced action movie on the iPad you can’t even play Tetris reasonably well on the Kindle screen. The slow refresh rate can also make navigating the display laggy.

But it comes down to function. The Kindle is meant, at least for me, to read books. Any additional features are secondary and barley of note. The e-ink display excels at emulating paper meaning reading on the Kindle is as close to reading a real book as you’re going to get today in an electronic device. I absolutely love e-ink displays and would really love to have a cell phone with such a display (to crank up the battery life).

Battery Life

There is no question here the Kindle wins. Once again this shouldn’t be surprising since the Kindle’s screen only uses power when it’s refreshing and the device itself uses very little power otherwise unless the wireless connection is on. I believe Apple rates the iPad’s battery life at roughly 10 hours. I’ve gotten a solid three weeks out of my Kindle with the wireless turned off. With the wireless turned on all the time the battery life still hovers around one and a half weeks. Generally this isn’t a big deal as I recharge most of my devices every night (with the exception of the Kindle). But it’s nice knowing if I have a full day of flights ahead of me I’ll have the battery life to make it.

The other reason the Kindle has such great battery life is because the hardware inside is clocked down a lot. This restricts what capabilities the Kindle has which is perfectly fine for a dedicated device which the Kindle is. The iPad on the other hand has some wicked hardware for a mobile device. You can play games, watch movies, listen to music, and pretty much anything else you would want to do. The iPad is a generic device meaning it has the capabilities to do more but at the cost of not being designable (and thus tuned to) to a specific task. 10 hours is still a pretty respectable amount of battery life for what is essentially a netbook sans keyboard.

Form Factor

Here again the Kindle wins for what it does. The Kindle’s (standard not the DX) form factor is very close to that of a real book. It’s thin and very light. The iPad on the other hand is larger and heavier meaning is doesn’t keep the form factor of a real book. Once again this is a trade-off between size and capabilities. The iPad has a larger screen and needs a larger battery. The Kindle on the other hand only needs a screen large enough to display a comfortable amount of text and a much smaller battery since it draws less power.


Both devices are wireless capable. The Kindle is able to use cellular data connections (which Amazon calls Whispernet) while the iPad can use either Wi-Fi or, in specific models, AT&T’s 3G network. The nice part about the Kindle is the cost of the wireless data is incorporated into the price of the device and books your download. You never have to pay a monthly subscription for access to the cellular network the Kindle uses while you have to pay up to $30.00 a month for the iPad’s 3G capabilities.

With that said I wouldn’t mind having the ability to use Wi-Fi on the Kindle. Everywhere I go has pretty good 3G coverage but there are a lot of places without. For those locations your only option is to purchase Kindle books on a laptop and transfer them over to the Kindle using a USB cable (included with the Kindle). I hope someday a Wi-Fi card is put into a future Kindle model.

But once again we see the difference between a dedicated device and a general purpose device. The Kindle uses the wireless connection to download books, firmware upgrades, and browse web pages (in a very limited manner via the Kindle’s built-in web browser which isn’t very good). The iPad can use it’s wireless network for everything from browsing web pages to streaming video. Thus the Kindle uses very little bandwidth meaning Amazon can soak up the cost. Still having the ability to download books at almost any time without needing to attach it to another computer is great. Being able to do said task without an additional monthly charge is amazing.


Overall I feel the Kindle is a better e-reader than the iPad for the above stated reasons. With that said the Kindle is also designed specifically for reading meaning the entire device can be tailored as such. The big difference between a dedicated device and a general purpose device comes down to having a master of one trade or a jack of all trades. A jack of all trades can do most things decently but oftentimes is limited in some manner from being perfect on most of those trades. A master of one trade can be designed entirely around that trade making it much better at doing the job.

The iPad will net you move features but it’s not a dreadfully good e-reader in my opinion. I read a lot so it’s worth lugging around an additional device to read on. But I can’t really use it to replace any tasks I do on a laptop. Either way my Kindle isn’t going away anytime soon.

Initial Impression of Ameriglo Night Sights

The previously mentioned night sights I ordered for my Glock 30SF came last night. I’m glad to say installation was a breeze.

When I ordered the sights I also ordered the <a href=""MGW rear sight tool for Glock pistols. I decided to spend the money and get that instead of going through the fun and entertainment of using a punch and hammer to remove the factory rear sight and install the new Ameriglo. The punch and hammer method is generally not a good idea on tritium filled night sights as you risk cracking the glass vials that hold the tritium. Also the punch and hammer method is the easiest way to really mar up the sight if nothing else. Needless to say I figured since I have three Glock pistols already I could easily justify the price for the tool (and I’m a man who likes to have a lot of tools).

The tool has a plate on the bottom that you put the slide in. The plate is the same width as the rails on the pistol so you slide the slide (redundant no?) onto the plate and tighten the plate down. After that you should apply some oil to both sides of the actual sight pusher and from there you simply remove the old sight. Simple.

After removal I took some Gunzilla to the dovertail and areas in front of and behind the dovetail. I also applied some gun Gunzilla to the bottom of the rear sight. This was to ensure the surface was clean and also provide some lubrication to make sight installation easier. Just make sure you start the rear sight by pushing it into the dovetail as far as you can without the tool. This will avoid headaches I believe.

Installation of the front sight was dead simple for the most part. The Ameriglo sights came with a small brass hex screw driver that allowed for removal of the stock front sight (which was screwed on, not staked on as Glock used to always do) and installation of the new sight. The front slight didn’t fit perfectly right into the hole on the slide and had a hair of left/right play. The first time I tightened it on it was slightly crooked facing towards the right (left/right is based on looking at the pistol as if you were holding it). It was a simple correction though as I just had to unscrew the front sight screw, turn the sight slightly, and hold it in place as I tightened it.

Did I say easy? Oops I meant to say difficult. Not because of the sight but because I learned a lesson I should have already known. Only apply Loctite after you’ve done an installation run without it. Yeah I put Loctite Threadlocker (the blue stuff) on the front sight screw to it wouldn’t become loose during shooting. Well when I saw the front sight was crooked I had a fun time removing the screw again (I eventually got it with a combination of the front sight tool and a vice grip). So word to the wise, install the front sight, ensure it’s on correctly, and then take it off, apply Loctite, and install it again. Just save yourself some headaches.

So installation was dead simple (like everything else on a Glock thankfully).

I haven’t gotten the gun to the range so these initial impressions of the sights are from looking at them only. First the sights I got were a combination of a front green sight and yellow rear sight. I really like this color scheme now that I’ve seen it in the dark. The front sight is slightly brighter than the rear sight dots making it stick out well. This is accomplished by the fact the vial in the front sight is slightly larger but also the front sight is picked up a bit better since it’s green (the human eye is most sensitive to green, which is why night vision goggles display in shades of green).

The sights are quite bright but not harshly bright. The dots are very crisp and clear. One added advantage that I wasn’t expecting was in the dark I can actually sort of make out the three sights without my glasses on (my right eye, the dominant one, has the worst case of nearsightedness that I think you can have without being declared legally blind). The dots are horribly blurry but I can line them up properly.

The white circles surrounding the tritium vials really stand out in a lighted area. I feel I can acquire a target much faster with these than the stock Glock sights (which I’ve never really been a fan of).

I’ll have more after I actually get them out to the range (hopefully this weekend). But initial impressions are very good.

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

I mentioned a few days ago that I’ve been reading Daemon by Daniel Suarez (Once again not an affiliate link) and that I would write up a review of it after I finished. Well I finished it so here’s your review.

Although this is listed under the science fiction section Daemon is more of a techno-thriller. Think Michael Crichton in that Mr. Suarez takes a technology concept and expands it into a story. In Mr. Suarez’s case he actually takes multiple technologies and uses them in this book. Fortunately he also provides information on the technologies he brings up on his website.

Before even rolling into the story I want to bring up one of my favorite parts about this book. Mr. Suarez is a computer consultant writing a book involving computers. That means most of the stuff in the book are technically correct (although not highly detailed in any manner) or plausible. There are a lot of malicious hackers in this book and it’s refreshing to actually read a book where the hacks they are performing are believable and no centered around navigation through a 3-dimensional space where they have to align virtual cubes together to create a computer virus that can break firewalls through some kind of techno-magic.

But enough about that let’s get on with the story. I’ll try to do this without any major spoilers but it’s going to be bloody difficult. Daemon follows a series of different people who are all connected by the same thing, the death of Mathew Sobol. Mr. Sobol was one of the greatest computer game programmers in the world (think John Carmack of id Software only smarter) and was the man who brainstormed several of the most popular computer games of his time. Until his death he headed CyberStorm Entertainment which was the most famous computer gaming company out there due to the aforementioned titles. Well in his death he left behind a little present, a daemon.

As you can guess a rather broad type of characters are presented. One of CyberStorm’s other programmers is killed and the local police force are brought in to investigate. Likewise the story also involves a few identity thieves, new reporters, and even a man spending time in prison. It’s a nice assortment of characters and all of them are given enough time in the book to flesh them out. That time is well spent since given the wide assortment of characters they are all interesting and actually do provide something to the story.

But back to the daemon. The little bugger was programmer to perform a large assortment of different tasks that it slowly executes throughout the book. In essence it reads online news articles and looks for key words that trigger it’s next event. For instance it was originally activated after reading Mr. Sobol’s obituary. I would like to expand on this but honestly the best part of the book is following the progress of what the daemon does and I really don’t want to spoil that part. Let’s just say the author does a good job of keeping it a mystery through the beginning of the book and when its purpose finally revealed the book gets very exciting.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the biggest things I look for in a book is pacing. I don’t like boring parts where nothing of consequence is happening. Daemon thankfully is well paced where each chapter advances the story. Nowhere in the book did I get bored and wish I could skip ahead. I do have to say though the ending is kind of abrupt but does make headway for its sequel Freedom (TM) (a review of which will be posted after I complete reading it).

I’m going to go into a little more detail here which may present itself as spoilers. If you don’t like to have any element of the story revealed stop reading here. I’ll try to keep the spoilers vague as to not reveal much about the story itself but you have been warned.

One of the concepts that begins to be explored in Daemon on the idea of a distributed society. What does that mean? Well it means it a society where there is no central authority and large centralized governments aren’t able to evolve fast enough to keep in pace with ever expanding technology. More or less it’s a libertarians dream come true. The book revolves around the ever expanding daemon. Due to its purpose the NSA, FBI, CIA, several private corporations, and even DARPA are brought in to investigate it. On the other hand various groups of geeks are working against the government entities’ purposes. As you can imagine the geeks use every technological trick in the book to accomplish their goals. They also do it in a decentralized manner which the government agencies find difficult to counteract. I don’t think I can expand on this any further without revealing key plot items though.

This is honestly a hard book to write much about because most of the good parts require revealing important story elements. The bottom line though is that it’s a damned good read. It’s interesting even for the non-geek although I wouldn’t hand this title to your grandmother as she’ll probably be in even more fear of computers. But if you have an interest in computers, a good story, and some ideas libertarians would love (although I’m in no way implying the author meant to include libertarian ideals, they just fit with what is happening in the book) grab this book.

Also for your big time geeks out there that will inevitably complain about the impossibility of the technology involved, shut up. It’s a work of fiction, read it as such.

Update on Generation 4 Glock 17

Well I was able to do some more troubleshooting on my Glock 17 and it’s inability to feed ammunition without holding it extremely firm (In other words having enough body mass to ensure reliable operation). Well I can say the problem can be fixed by using hot ammunition. I took the gun to the range again this weekend with the same person that had troubles with the gun when shooting it. After loading the gun with some hotter ammunition the gun cycled perfectly.

So I’m going update my recommendation on the Generation 4 Glock 17. If you’re a person of small stature you may want to ensure you either hand load ammunition yourself or buy ammunition that’s loaded up hotter. Most of the cheap 9mm ammunition may cause failures to feed as it’s loaded down.

Nice VPN Service

Since I travel once in a while for my job I find myself in locations where a secure network can’t be ensured. My phone does have tethering software on it so I often use it but it’s slow and has issues getting disconnected at random intervals.

Thankfully this day and age wireless networks are everywhere. Hotels, Starbucks, airports, etc. But these networks are not secure and should be considered hostile at all time. This was the reason I looked into the previously mentioned Wi-Fi device that could connect to 3G cellular data networks. Of course as I previously stated they wanted a contract and honestly the devices are far more expensive than I could justify since I only really need such a device a few times a year.

That meant either continue using my unreliable phone tethering or use hostile wireless networks. Hostile wireless networks can be used securely though through a protocol called Virtual Private Networking (VPN). VPN is a mechanism where you connect to a remote VPN server. The VPN server acts as a proxy which all your traffic is sent to and from there is sent to its actual destination on the Internet. The key here is all VPN traffic is encrypted so other people on the same network can’t see what you’re doing. So even if you’re connected to an insecure wireless network you can encrypt all your traffic by sending it through a VPN connection.

Most companies that send people around the country provide a VPN connection for their employees. Mine is no exception but I thought I’d try an experiment and see what solutions I could find for those traveling and not having a company provided VPN service available to them.

The easiest, cheapest, and most secure (In the form of privacy of your traffic) method of using a VPN is to set a server up at your home. This way you can remotely connect to your home network through the VPN. Unfortunately for me this is impossible since I live in an apartment complex that also provides me service as an ISP (It’s free so I don’t argue). The downside is this ISP also routes all my traffic through their firewall meaning I can’t actually connect to any of my computers there remotely. Due to this fact I decided to look at using Amazon’s EC2 service to setup a VPN server. Overall it would be a good idea but it’s kind of pricey since Amazon charges you for the number of hours your EC2 instance is running.

Finally I looked into a service mentioned by Leo Laporte on This Week in Tech quite a few times call HotSpot VPN. HotSpot VPN is simply a service that sells VPN connections. It’s not a secure as using a server setup at your home since all your traffic does get routed through their VPN server. But it’s a damned side better than being on an insecure network since HotSpot VPN as a reason to maintain your privacy, money (Granted that’s absolutely no guarantee and in the security business the phrase is trust no one. But security is also a balance between having secure systems and convince.).

What I like about HotSpot VPN is you can but a yearly subscription, monthly subscription, or a few days worth if you only travel sporadically like me. For this test I bought a three day pass for something around $5.88. That’s pretty cheap and well worth it in my book. Setup in Mac OS is simple (I’m not sure about other operating systems since I’ve not done much with VPNs in them) and requires you only enter your e-mail address for the user name and the password they e-mail you. It’s working great on this hotel wireless network and isn’t dropping my connection constantly like my phone does. I tested it on my home network before taking it out into a hostile environment and the data is encrypted so other people listening on the network aren’t going to be able to see what you’re doing it. Speed is so-so since all your data has to go to their servers and then to its destination but tethering my phone always yields even slower connections.

Overall I think it’s a good service for those who travel, don’t have a company provided VPN connection, and are unable to setup a VPN server at their home. There isn’t much else to say about it since it’s a pretty straight forward service that performs and straight forward feature.

Also since this is a review I need to give the FCC required disclaimer. The FCC can go sodomize itself with a retractable baton. That is all.

Robert Buettner’s Orphan Series

I’ve been promising to do more posts on Godless Sodomite Fiction and thus far failed to deliver much. Well I’m going to help correct that slightly right here and right now. For those of you whom like military science fiction I present you with a great series written by Robert Buettner called the Orphan or Jason Wander series (Yeah it doesn’t really have a series title like The Lost Fleet or Vampire Earth series. Also note that the link isn’t a referral link.). For the purposes of this post I’m going to call it the Orphan series to make life easy on me.

Buettnet’s Orphan series consists of five books: Orphanage, Orphan’s Destiny, Orphan’s Journey, Orphan’s Alliance, and Orphan’s Triumph. The entire series follows the life of Jason Wander who starts as a new military recruit in book one and ends up retired at the end of the series.

I’m not going to go through each book, that’s up to you if you decide to read the series. But I do have to go through Orphanage to establish a groundwork upon which to write about the series. Although there are going to be slight spoilers they will consist of nothing more that can be obtained by reading the back of the book’s cover.

Anyways Orphanage is a tribute to Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. The stories are very similar and that’s by plan not a lack of originality. An alien species had parked its butt Ganymede and decided to start throwing really large rocks at Earth. The rocks are guided and the alien race has the ability to render our nuclear weapons inert. Needless to say Terra gets pummeled pretty hard. Enter Jason Wander, a kid with no real outlook on life. As is typical in a book an event happens that changes his life (Because that’s what makes a book interesting and worth reading). See Jason is a fuck up and keeps appearing before a specific judge. The judge gets sick of seeing Jason’s ugly face and finally gives him a choice, join the military or go to prison. Jason chooses the first option and enlists in the army.

Meanwhile the aliens keep hating on Earth. Eventually Jason’s family is killed leaving him an orphan (Clever huh? I bet you didn’t see that coming when you read the name of the series.). Shit happens and eventually he finds himself recruited for a mission that is heading to Ganymede to fuck the alien’s collective shit up. The mission consists only of soldiers who are war orphans and hence are felt to be the most pissed off and therefore qualified to kill alien scum.

That’s the premise of the first book. Needless to say Buettner’s tribute to Starship Troopers is beautifully executed and he adds enough of his own ideas and story elements to make Orphanage a great book that doesn’t feel too much like it’s idol. In the next four books the story comes into it’s own.

One of my pet peeves in books is poor pacing. I’m not a fan of boring parts in books and very often stop reading a story for quite some time because I hit a lull. Buettner shows an amazing skill for proper pacing. The end of each chapter leaves something interesting to be unlocked in the next one. I always found it hard to put these books down because the answer to something I was dying to know seemed to lay on the next few pages. When I obtained me answer an new puzzle would present itself and I found myself having to read more yet. Putting down these books and going to sleep required an act of extreme will.

Buettner also does an excellent job on character development. Too many series end up having characters stagnate in later volumes. The Orphan series seems to always manage to further embellish characters without making it appear over the top. Jason goes from being a worthless punk kid to a grown man capable of accomplish his work. Other characters are given equal amounts of attention as well. It’s rare for me to have strong memories of side characters but I can rattle off the names and general situations involving almost all of the major side characters in this series.

Of course being a science fiction godless sodomite fiction series there are plenty of gadgets and gizmos. The practicality of the advanced technology mentions written by Buettner impress me. The soldiers in the series wear powered armor called Eternads. The armors contain water purifiers, water storage systems, air conditioners, heaters, oxygen generators, and even a pad on one arm for wiping snot from your nose. All of these features of powered by a battery that recharges itself via the movements of the person wearing the Eternad. Because of the nature of the aliens being fought the guns later in the series fire flechette ammunition.

Being this is a military science fiction series geopolitical politics comes into play. Many events from Jason’s career are brought to light including those involving being a military “consultant” for other countries. This is more important of an event at the series progresses but I can’t really expand on it without giving away plot points and spoiling some of the series.

I really like Buettner’s portrayal of soldiers. He’s very Heinleinesqe in that he has a positive portrayal of the foot soldier. It’s a nice change in pace from many stories that portray soldiers as wanton killing machines with the IQ of a wild boar. I do appreciate this aspect of the series.

Anyways the series is a great way to spend some quality time reading. I urge you to take a look at the first book if you’re into science fiction of any kind.

Glock 17 Generation 4 After Range Report

I promised I’d do an after range report on the Glock 17 Generation 4 so here it is.

The gun shoots beautifully. I never fired a previous generation Glock 17 so I can’t compare mine to any other one. But the double recoil system seems to do its job well. Aimed rapid fire is very doable and the recoil is almost nothing. At 21 feet I was able to dump the 17 round magazine in very short order and keep all the rounds in the middle of the human silhouette target. Accuracy out to 25 yards (The range’s maximum) was great. Placing rounds into the head of the target was not issue at all (Not that it has been with any other gun but the groups at that range were pretty decent for me).

The gun is picky on the shooter though. I let the person I was shooting with fire a magazine out of the gun. She never made it through the magazine though because in her hands the gun kept failing to return to battery. Now she’s a small person at five feet tall but she handles an EAA Witness in .45 without a problem and has had no problem with my 1911, Glock 30SF, or Glock 21SF. But that Glock 17 would not properly operated so I’m baffled to say the least. I finished off the magazine with no issue and put about 200 rounds down range without a single failure. I’m guessing the gun requires somebody with at least a little mass to keep it stiff enough to cycle well. That could be due to the new telescopic recoil system but I’m unsure. Either way it’s something to note.

The back strap system certainly raised my ire. I’m not really a fan of the setup after trying to attach the “L” back strap at the range. Getting the trigger pin out isn’t an issue nor is clipping the back strap into place. But getting the longer pin through properly proved to be difficult. The back strap pieces don’t align absolutely perfect on my gun so you really have to push them in to get the pin through. The included tool is a joke and unusable for the task it was designed for. It’s so flimsy that when you try to push the trigger pin into the gun is bends before the pin begins to move. Do yourself a favor and get a real 3/32″ punch (Which is all the Glock armor tool is). The easiest way to get the pin in that I’ve found is to use a dramatically over sized punch to push the pin through both holes and use the 3/32″ punch to push it properly into the grip holes.

Either way it’s not a fast tool less swap like the M&P palm swell. I think Smith and Wesson had a better design as far as inserting or removing their palm swells. What I do like better about the Glock back strap is it extends the length of the entire grip not just the palm area. For me that makes it more comfortable and consistent feeling. It Also adds width where I really need it, at the top of the grip. That way my trigger finger doesn’t feel like it’s going to wrap around the trigger twice. But the execution of attaching and removing the back straps is dreadful at best. Likewise the back straps themselves feel flimsy. I’m sure they’ll stand up well but they sure feel like they could snap if you look at them wrong.

Overall I really like the gun through. It shoots well, unless of course if you’re too small apparently. Having 17 rounds in the magazine is also great (I’m coming from a .45 background where 10 to 13 rounds is impressive). Just don’t plan on swapping back straps often.