• 05 Dec 2008 /  Firearms, Tech

    I believe that everyone has a right to defend themselves, and the right to the access to the tools to be effective at that goal.

    Palm Pistol

    New Palm Pistol

    To that end, Constitution Arms has developed a palm pistol designed to be used by the elderly and disabled, or anyone who is unable to use a standard handgun. As you can see from the rendering here, its ergonomics are quite different from a standard handgun. I can see how this would be easier to use by someone with limited hand dexterity or strength. It has even been approved as a medical device, so it can actually be prescribed by a doctor and is eligible for insurance coverage, that’s certainly interesting. I applaud Constitution Arms for taking on this challenge and developing this firearm.

    Old Palm Pistol

    Now, the concept of the palm pistol isn’t really a new one. Here’s one example from France in the late 1800’s. There were several other designs along these lines. The primary purpose was as a hide-away gun to stick in your vest or hat for dire situations, but as you can see, it resembles the new one quite closely in basic form. This particular example is in the, quite anemic, .32 rimfire caliber with a 10 round capacity, but as they say, “Any gun is better than no gun“.

    So why am I writing this? Is it really to laud Constitution Arms for their vision and civic responsibility? No, it’s not. While I still do commend them for taking this on, I think there’s a rather large problem with their design. Unlike the 1800’s version above, the new model is in an acceptable defensive caliber, 9mm, which is good. However, also unlike the 1800’s version the new model is single shot. While still keeping the “Any gun is better than no gun” axiom in mind, this is a severe limitation. Given that this is targeted to people who are already at a defensive disadavantage, giving them only one round of 9mm (or any caliber) is simply not enough. 1 shot, even if well placed is not a reliable attack ending response, and gives you no recourse for multiple assailants.

    So, I’m challenging Constitution Arms to build upon this first step and develop a handgun that will provide those that really need it, an effective defensive tool. Please feel free to send one to me for testing.


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  • 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.



  • 22 May 2008 /  Parenting, Tech, Work

    National Engineer’s Week is this week and I was asked to do a presentation on software engineering to about 40 local middle school students. I was a bit unsure how to approach this as it’s not the audience I’m used to dealing with. I’ve presented to rooms full of executives before, but I was more nervous about this. I’ll leave the obvious jokes about maturity levels as an exercise for the reader.

    Now that it’s over, I’d say it went very well (thanks to advice from my lovely wife). I was last on the agenda, so the kids were a bit drained and antsy, but I managed to keep them occupied and interested. I had an activity planned in which some volunteers represented parts of a very simple program, a bubble sort. I had them physically act out the operation of the algorithm and when it was completed they could see the results (the volunteers were now in alphabetical order). They were actually enthusiastic about participating in this little exercise, which was probably my biggest fear. It would have gone much differently if I had to drag kids up, or bribe them with the M&Ms that a certain someone suggested I bring. It was inspiring to see some of the kids watch the process, expressing confusion as it wasn’t immediately obvious what was happening, but then as it progressed, they got what was going on. I think they really enjoyed it.

    The blatant pandering of using a screenshot of Super Mario Galaxy and one of the Google map to their school actually resulted in cheers. So I’ll keep that in the toolbox for the future.

    One thing that didn’t work was sarcasm. If you know me, you know how integral that is to my daily life and the kids mostly just didn’t get it. I guess I should have seen that up front, but at least some of the teachers got some chuckles out of it.

    Overall, I really enjoyed the experience, the kids asked a lot of good questions, though several were about salary. I hope they all got something from it.

    Here’s my presentation, if you’d like to see it.


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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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  • 20 Feb 2008 /  Doom

    In case you aren’t aware, there is a lunar eclipse this evening. Neat.

    Coincidentally (?) there is also an errant satellite that will be shot down during the aforementioned eclipse. Also neat.

    I see this going one of 2 ways, either completely uneventfully, or horribly, horribly, wrong.

    The former option probably doesn’t require much exposition. Missile, Satellite, Boom. It’s the latter, and far more interesting option that is not quite obvious, so I’ll lay it out for you.

    Some aspect of the eclipse will cause the missile to fail to impact the target. It may be that the alignment of the Earth, Sun and Moon causes a slight change in the gravitational field of the Earth that messes up the guidance system, or maybe just a rather important Navy officer gets distracted by the spectacle, not important which. This error causes the missile to continue traveling through space until it finally strikes our poor, defenseless Moon. The resulting explosion is enough to fracture the little planetoid into several chunks. As the eclipse subsides it reveals the shattered Moon to the horrified population of the earth.

    Over the course of the next few months, the orbit of our own planet around the Sun is affected by this change. The Earth’s path becomes more elliptical bringing us both closer and farther away from the Sun at the extremes. The result is stifling summer temperatures and brutal winter conditions. Over time, the climate degrades further and further and we are periodically peppered by the smaller chunks of debris from the moon.

    Eventually, the increased radiation from the close proximity to the Sun mutates those who spend too much time outside into bloodthirsty zombies (there are always zombies). The population dwindles as more of us become, or are consumed by, these zombies, and the environment becomes increasingly toxic.

    Finally, despite the efforts of a plucky oil drilling crew, the largest pieces of the moon come crashing into the Earth, instantly wiping out huge chunks of the remaining populace. This event pushes our orbit even farther out of alignment resulting in complete, yet spectacular, destruction as we collide with Jupiter.

    I’m sure everything will be fine, but would it really hurt to just push the missile launch off until tomorrow?


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