• 02 Oct 2008 /  Tech, Things I Like

    A while ago we took the plunge, canceled our land line phone and switched to cell phones as our primary lines. While this has been a significant cost savings for us, there was one significant downside. You only get 1 phone. With a normal phone line you can scatter phones willy nilly about your evirons. One in the kitchen, one in the living room, one in the office, a couple in the bedroom, and, if you’re rich, one in each bathroom. Going to a cell phone means you only have the one, which you can carry around, but set it down and you do the inevitable race for the phone, if you were close enough to hear it playing your Rockford Files ringtone.

    Enter the Xlink-BT. The XLink-BT

    This little gem wires into your existing phone system. You can either hook it up to the wiring, or just plug a multi-handset cordless phone into it, which is what we did. It then connects to your phone via bluetooth, just like your Borg headset. Just like that, you can use your home phones with your cell. It can connect to 3 cell phones at once, and each gets a distinctive ring, so you know whose phone it is. Once paired with your cell, it will automatically bond when you get in range. The cell phone handset is still enabled when it’s connected to the Xlink, so it won’t steal your calls like the headsets do.

    I did have a few issues initially getting things working, but I downloaded new firmware from the Xlink site and updated the device and everything cleared up. The firmware application is Windows based, but it worked fine in a VMware image. As hard as it is to resist hooking up everything right away, I’d recommend getting the latest firmware first thing.

    This is really a wonderful little piece of kit. It never causes any problems and just works transparently. You can leave your cell plugged into the charger and never have to worry about running out the door with a depleted battery and never have to go looking for the cell when a call comes in.

    There is one complaint I can make. The name portion of the caller id is lost somewhere in the chain. So on your house phone you’ll see the proper number that is calling, but the name will always be “Xlink-BT”. It really is only a minor annoyance though, and I imagine there’s a good reason why they can’t make it work.



  • 17 Sep 2008 /  Firearms, Things I Like

    A while ago purchased 2 stripped AR lowers from Cavalry Arms. I’ve finally gotten around to putting these together.

    If you’re not familiar with the AR rifle platform, the traditional lower receiver is forged aluminum. The action parts, grip and stock are added to this stripped receiver to form a complete lower receiver.

    Lower Receivers

    Cavarms lowersThe Cavarms lowers differ from the traditional in 2 major ways. Most obviously, they are 1 monolithic piece incorporating the lower receiver, grip and stock. The other way is not so obvious until you pick it up. They are molded from an advance polymer, (ok, plastic). This results in a significant weight savings over the traditional lower, a full pound lighter. Another benefit is the ability to mold them in any color imaginable. They have done the obvious blacks, greens and tans, but also yellow, pink, blue, neon green, and even glow in the dark!

    Even with this radically different construction, the Cavarms lower uses standard AR action parts and assembly is mostly the same. There are a few minor differences, but anyone who has assembled a lower will have no problem with the Cavarms assembly. It took less than 30 minutes to completely finish each one.

    I won’t bore you with the step by step assembly process, but just a couple of pics to illustrate. Here is everything before assembly, lower on the, uh, lower. The parts kit is above:Lower and parts

    The extra parts

    And here we have the parts from the normal lower parts kit that are leftover due to the Cavarms construction. Trigger guard, pistol grip, and some assorted pins, fasteners, detents, and springs.

    And, finally, here’s a shot of the 2 completed rifles. The one on the bottom is my “ultralight” and I know it has no sights, it’s a work in progress. Completed rifles

    Sorry for the less than stellar pics, it’s actually pretty hard to take a decent photo of something that’s all flat black.


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  • 20 May 2008 /  Firearms, Things I Like

    This past Sunday, I loaded up and shot my first home reloaded shotshells. Everyone’s aware of the price of gas going through the roof, but the price of ammo is doing the same. A box of shells that cost me $3 early last year is now $6. This, and a reloader that popped up on Craigslist locally for a good price finally pushed me over the edge. Here’s a pic if you have no idea what I’m talking about:

    GrabberTook a little while to get everything working smoothly, but once I had the rhythm worked out, I was cranking out shells pretty quickly. I only dropped shot on the floor twice 😉

    Considering that a weekly trap shoot can burn through 4 boxes of shells, this should pay itself off rather quickly. Reloaded shells are about half the cost of factory loads, and the reloader came with enough components (powder, primer, shot, wads and hulls) to recoup what I paid for it.


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  • 06 Jun 2007 /  Things I Like

    it’s a bird…

    it’s a plane…

    it’s a … Civic?

    So apparently Honda is branching out into the aviation industry. They’ve got a pretty neat looking little jet.

    Finally, something to trade the CR-V in on.

    Check out more at HondaJet.