Thursday, February 16, 2017

Motion sensors on a budget

I think we all love to hate Harbor Freight, but you can score some great deals on useful things.  To whit:

This shows up on the Harbor Freight site under 3 different catalog numbers, but they appear to all be the same product.  It isn't specified how far away or in what arc it can "see motion", but the unit uses 433 MHz to transmit to it's base with a quoted range of up to 400'. You'll need 1 9v and 3 C cell batteries, which means in a grid down scenario you'll need a lot of spare lithium ion batteries and ways to charge them.

Cheap way to stretch your sentries.

A bleg

Not for me, but for someone you may remember, Kim Du Toit.

Kim is the reason I'm here. Kim ran a blog way back when, one of the first ones I read regularly. He was brash and outspoken, and because he blogged under his real name, he paid a price for that in terms of jobs and opportunities lost.

I heard a while back that Kim's beloved wife Connie had cancer, and that there was not going to be a happy ending. In looking for something else earlier today, I found out from WeaponsMan that Connie has passed from this life. Kim, if you ever read his blog, is devastated, because he really loved Connie. However, he's also a realist, and is setting out to rebuild his life without her. That's got to be all kinds of hard.

If you've never been around a prolonged medical battle, let me tell you that the devastation is not only mental and physical, but financial. Kim is facing all of those. We can't do much for him mentally or physically, but we can toss some coin in the digital hat for him at his GoFundMe. As WeaponsMan notes, he's got some very generous friends, but everything helps. In my current situation, I can't do as much as I'd like, but all of us working together can.

Can you help an OG gun blogger? I have.

A new gun malfunction--the saga continues

I've gotten an amazing amount of traffic on my post "A new gun malfunction". (I'm quite grateful for that, by the way. While I've often said that I write for my own reasons, it's always fun to know that others are interested.) I thought you might want to know how that little project is going.

Monday of this week, the Glock 30, which for the time being I'm calling "The Gun That Put the 'Ouch' in Malfunction", arrived home. Tuesday afternoon I took it to the range for a test drive. The first magazine was horrible, meaning that I was peppered with hot brass. The second was nearly as bad and the third, while better, wasn't good enough that I was willing to shoot a fourth. I was, however, more than willing to utter a few choice words.

Wednesday morning, I called Glock's support line and oddly enough connected to the same gentleman I had spoken to the first time. I filled him in on the latest, and told him that I had noticed one odd thing--a sticker on the case that noted "G26 Gen 4 ". I was curious if perhaps some incorrect parts had been used as replacements.

He had to go track down the actual paperwork from the armorer (someone wasn't Johnny on the spot in getting his tickets entered into the system, it seems), but once he had it in had, it comes out that nothing had been done to the gun.  The armorer had ran 60 rounds of two different types of ammo through it and experienced no problems. I can confirm that something was done, because the gun was clean and not lubed when I received it back.

So we discussed the situation. He asked if it would be possible to get some video of me shooting the gun. That I can do, and so it was back to the range that afternoon, gun, range bag, tripod and iPhone in hand. 30 rounds of ammo, a lot of brass pinging off me and a pronounced flinch later, I had 2 minutes of video for them to look at. If I can figure out how to use Adobe Premiere well enough to blur out my ugly mug, I'll post it here. It's...interesting. It was also not as bad as the Tuesday trip; I think the wind had something to do with that.

I uploaded it to my Dropbox, wrote them a blow-by-blow account and sent them a link to the video. About 20 minutes later I got a message back saying to "please send us the gun". This time the armorer is going to get the video to prove that there is something up with the G30.

Oh, and Glock is paying for the trip this time. I wouldn't be doing this any other way, trust me. There is such things as "sunk cost" and "cutting your losses".

I'm grateful that Glock is willing to put the effort in this problem. A lot of other companies would blow off a customer at this point. Perhaps it's because gun companies, smart ones at least, know that repeat business is one of their big profit drivers.

I just hope they can figure out what is going on with it. I have video evidence that this gun does everything from a proper ejection to tossing them over my left shoulder, which was a surprise when I saw that on the video. There is something decidedly off with this particular pistol.

So it's off to get it cleaned up and then back to FedEx. Keep your fingers crossed. I am.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hardening your home

(This one is going to be your 5 Minute Prep piece for today, simply because you can read it in 5 minutes. You may even be able to do some of the tasks in 5 minutes, but trust me, doing all of this is a lot of work. Very worthwhile work, though.)

I keep thinking back to the lady with the 3 inch screws and the false sense of security that gave her. Sure, she had done something to improve her security, which puts her ahead of probably 80% of people, but there is so much that she left undone, and most of it is simple and relatively inexpensive.

According to a post by Off The Grid News that I trolled up, the breakdown of how a criminal gains entry to a residence is as follows:

  • 4 percent enter through the front door
  • 23 percent enter through first floor windows
  • 22 percent enter through a back door
  • 9 percent enter through the garage
  • 6 percent enter through unlocked storage areas
  • 4 percent enter through a basement window or door
  • 2 percent enter through a second floor window
Based on a few discussions with some LEOs I know and reading the crime reports for a number of years, this looks about right. So what do you do to harden your house?
  1. Lock your doors and windows. You'd be amazed how often a burglar gains access through an unlocked door or window. Don't make it easy for them. 
  2. Don't hide spare keys stupidly. Everyone knows the spare key is under the mat, or the flower pot, or the on top of the door frame. If you going to hide a key outside, get one of the heavy duty lock boxes and put it on there.  I use this one. It's built like a tank. A burglar can get in, but it will take a while and make a lot of noise.
  3. If you can afford it, get a centrally monitored burglar alarm. Every LEO I've talked with says this is the gold standard tool to keep burglars away. They may even kick in a door or break a window to be sure there is an actual alarm (you can buy fake stickers and signs), but when the siren goes off, they nearly always run. We have one, and I don't think you'll get in the house with it on.
  4. Harden your exterior doors. This can take several forms. For wood framed doors, at a minimum you need to look at a product that hardens the door frame and the area around the door locks, such as those from Armored Concepts. Better is to reinforce the entire frame, using kits such as ones sold by Kickproof or StrikeMaster, and then reinforce the area around the locks.

    After we were broken into (the rear door was kicked in), I went with modified hurricane-rated doors front and back. They have 3 locking points and are made of reinforced fiberglass. I used 1/16" aluminium plate on the outside of the door frames to reinforce them and all the screws are extra long and drilled into the studs. The doors themselves have oval windows (a concession to my wife) that are tempered and have a reinforcing film applied (more on that next).
  5. Overhead garage doors are a weak point that is difficult to reinforce. As a rule, the best you can do is to use the provided lock points and a padlock if you plan on being absent for a long period of time. If you have garage door openers, remove that dangling cord from the manual release. If your doors have windows, burglars will break the window and use a long pole to snare it and disengage the release so they can open the door.
  6. Windows are a weak point that can be difficult to deal with as well, especially those that can be reached from the ground or a deck. First, be sure they are locked. There are various high-security window locks, but when you can break in with a rock, I believe they are a waste of money.

    While it may be a waste of time, you can drill into the sashes and slip in a bolt so that the windows can't be opened from outside even if the lock is opened. I've been told that burglars don't like to deal with broken glass, due to noise and the possibility of cutting themselves, thereby leaving DNA evidence. Just be sure you can remove that bolt with your bare fingers in case of a fire.

    More expensive but possibly more useful are reinforcing films, such as this 3M product. As a bonus, you get energy savings. I think this one is going to be added to my to-do list. This is a DIY project if you are the least bit handy around the house.
  7. There are also a lot of miscellaneous things you can do-keep your foundation plantings trimmed down, keep ladders secured, consider a video surveillance system (be sure it has recording capability), make friends with that nosy neighbor, keep a dog and so on.
Being broken into sucks, as I can testify to from bitter experience. Given our current social situation, if you live in a metro area, small to medium city or a suburb I don't think it's going to be bad practice to have hardened home your to at least this level. I think if I lived in one of those areas I might have a roll of chicken wire and staples handy so I could cover my windows, just in case.

This is one of those areas where being ahead of the curve is a good thing.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Keeping important drugs cool when the power is out

There are a number of drugs, the most commonly thought of being insulin, that require refrigeration. What do you do if the power is out and you've made no other provisions?

Obviously, if you're a reader here you've likely made some preparations before hand if you have this need, but you may have friends of neighbors who haven't. Now you can help them out without exposing the depth of your preps.

Making a bit of personal history

At one point in history, online discussion forums were the big thing. In the days when the BBS ruled digital communication, forums were about the only thing we had. Well that, and Fidonet echos.

When the Internet came about, forums exploded. These days, they are so poorly ran, usually by narrow-minded Taliban wanna-bes who can't stand the least thing that offends their world view, that they are unusable by anyone who has an ounce of ability to think for themselves. God forbid that someone post anything that might offend the forum admin's delicate sensibilities.

A while back, maybe a year or more, I had a run in with one of these self-righteous types. Of course, I lost, but I made up my mind that if it happened again, I was going to bail. My time is precious to me, and even though I now have more of it than I did then, it's still precious. So when my post referencing Mountain Guerrilla was yanked, I asked a different admin what was up. The response was an "I don't know" followed by direction to contact that same self-righteous admin, I decided that it was time.

So now, for the first time since I've owned a computer, I'm not active on any sort of discussion forum. This is going to feel a little weird for a while.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Not the guy you want for your test case...

A guy accused of possessing kiddie porn isn't the case you want to take to court to set a constitutional rights precedent. However, the issue of forced decryption of your digital information is a real one. If the government can force you to divulge such things as memorized passwords and passcodes, where is the line that says  "You may go no further in extracting information from this citizen." Right now, the guy has been locked up for 16 months. What if it was information that we thought was related to an upcoming bomb attack? Are we going to authorize torture? "Enhanced interrogation techniques"?

There needs to be a very clear and bright line that the government cannot cross in its search for evidence, and the court system, a part of the government, appears to be sandbagging in any attempts to draw it. This is not good.

You may want to consider storing you important data in offshore repositories hosted in countries with strong personal privacy laws.