News from the AZCDL

HB 2607, the AzCDL-requested Campus Carry bill, was filed on Monday, February 9, 2009, the last day for bills to be filed this session. HB 2607 removes the authority of a governing board to prohibit a person who possesses a CCW permit from carrying a concealed firearm on the property of an educational institution (i.e., College or University).

Also submitted was SB 1270, which would allow for Vermont-style concealed carry (prohibiting, of course, criminals and those in the course of criminal action) without permits. Open carry, as usual, would not be affected.
I’m a strong advocate of both bills, particularly as I open carry regularly wherever I go off-campus (excepting where it’s prohibited, obviously). Being able to carry concealed on campus would allow for myself and other responsible individuals to have the means to defend ourselves from violent criminals which, unfortunately, do not cease their criminal acts at the city-university border.
Since I can already legally open carry in most public places without any sort of permit or license, why should I not also have the right to carry concealed as well? Is there a major difference between having my gun covered by a shirt and not covered by a shirt? People who carry, both openly and concealed, have not been any sort of statistically significant problem here in Arizona, so why not?

Finally, some ammo…

I was up in Chandler this weekend visiting Sarah and her sister, Heidi. Heidi wanted to go to Dick’s Sporting Goods to buy something as a gift for her friend’s birthday. While we were there, I browsed around the gun counter and came across a 150-round pack of Ultramax .223 factory reloads.
The price was quite comparable to what one could get for the same quantity from various mail-order sources, if they had any in stock, and I was willing to give Ultramax a shot as I had used some of their pistol stuff before and it had been fine. With the employee’s permission, I opened the box and took a look at the bagged, loose-packed ammo inside. It was all Federal (both commercial and Lake City), Winchester, Remington, or PMC brass, all polished to a high shine, and all with no split necks or other deformations. While the cases themselves may have had different neck lengths, all the cartridges had the same OAL (on the cases with a slightly shorter neck length the cannelure was visible, while with slightly longer case lengths the cannelure was covered by the neck).
When I was loading the ammo into magazines at home, I inspected each cartridge. Every one looked to be in good condition, all the primers were seated below the back of the cartridge, and no defects that I could find. I’ll let you know how well they work the next time I’m at the range.
I’m doing my part to help out the enviroment by recycling ammo, both by reloading my own and buying factory reloads from reputable companies. It’s always fun to mention that to green types. 🙂
Now, if only the ammo companies could somehow ramp up supply to keep up with demand. This whole every-store-sold-out-all-the-time thing is getting old, fast.

Laptop Battery Life

I have a Dell Inspiron 1521 laptop, which came with Windows Vista. I’ve got it dual-booting between XP and Vista at present (with Ubuntu Linux in a VM due to hardware-specific issues — it runs great in the VM).
Battery life in Vista is about 3.5-4 hours, while battery life in XP is 1-1.5 hours. It appears that this difference is due to Vista’s superior CPU speed adjustment (the laptop has an AMD Turion 64 X2) capabilities; it keeps the CPU throttled down more, resulting in higher battery life.
Does anyone know any way to improve battery life in XP? The Power Management control panel is set to Portable/Laptop, and the settings are all reasonable for good power management. Is there any additional software that one can install that can tell the system to do more aggressive CPU throttling while on battery?

Deadly Hands

One of my cow-orkers (sounds so much worse than co-worker, right?) studies Mixed Martial Arts. He claims — to my hearty laughter — that if he were involved in some sort of fight, and came before a court due to said fight, he might receive a harsher sentence due to his hands being “deadly weapons”.
Now, I’ve heard the age-old myth that the hands of professional boxers, trained martial artists, etc. need to be “registered as deadly weapons”. Of course, this is bunk. A brick could be a deadly weapon, yet one is not asked to register it. Indeed, I own numerous firearms and I am not asked to register them. Would the TSA require the removal and checking in the cargo compartment of one’s hands prior to flying? As I said, an absurd myth.
He claims that laws in several states allow for hands to be classified as deadly weapons, and the owner of said hands can be penalized for using them in violent acts. In the age old tradition of science, I told him “cite or GTFO” (also known as “prove it”). He has yet to come up with any sort of facts on the matter. Would any of my readers have any information readily at hand (no pun intended) that would indicate the facts either way?
I could believe that someone might be charged with “assault with a deadly weapon” if they used their fists and had some disproprortionate advantage, such as great size or strength, compared to their victim, but I doubt that your average person, even a martial artist, would be charged as such if they were caught fighting by the police.

Sales Volume

At 6:00pm I get an email from Midway letting me know that 17-round Glock 17 magazines are in stock.
At 6:45pm, I visit Midway’s page to see about ordering some. Out of stock. They’re expecting more on the 19th of February.
Midway’s entire stock of Glock 17 mags sold out in less than 45 minutes? Damn. I’m impressed.

Market Research

I’m a huge proponent of free speech (I’m a blogger, duh), and encourage people to voice their opinions on a wide variety of subjects. That’s part of what makes this country great.
Of course, I always encourage people to think before they speak, particularly when interacting with people of differing opinions. Indeed, it would make sense to do a bit of research to see how well people react to your message prior to publishing it, particularly if you’re trying to convince people to come around to yoru point of view.
Why do I mention this?
Dead babies.
[readers look puzzled]
Yes, dead babies. There’s an anti-abortion-rights group on the university mall today (the same group was here last year, and were here for a week; I expect them to be here the same amount of time). Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with this. Free speech and all.
However, I do have a problem with these guys: they’ve setup 30′ tall graphic pictures of aborted fetuses and a variety of equally gruesome photos.
While I certainly see where they’re coming from, the fact that they’re displaying gigantic photos of dead babies is a wee bit of a turn-off for me and doesn’t convince me to adopt their viewpoint. Quite the opposite, in fact.
I suspect that a bit of market research would have helped them out a bit. It probably would have told them that people don’t react well to huge pictures of dead babies, particularly in the middle of a university right next to the student union where everyone goes to eat food. I’m curious what their overall responses were in the years past, and if they expected anything different this year.
Moral of the story: think before you speak, and try not to gross out people you’re trying to convert.

NRA Annual Meeting/2A Blog Bash

It looks like the NRA Annual Meeting is starting for us mere mortals on Friday the 15th of May. Alas, I won’t be able to make it on Friday, as it’s the last day of finals. I’m not sure if I have any exams then, but it’s likely knowing my luck.
I should be there on Saturday and Sunday, though.
I’ve gotten some registration material from the NRA, but just want to confirm: is the annual meeting free for existing members (I’m a Life Member), or need one pay some sort of cover charge to get into the exhibit halls? I figure one needs to pay extra for the banquets and whatnot, but I’d hope the exhibit halls would be free for members. Can anyone confirm or deny this?

Super Bowl

When Arizona scored its last touchdown, I thought we had it. I thought we managed to pull things around from the Steelers’ epic just-before-halftime surprise interception, run, and touchdown. (I’m not a Steelers fan, but hot damn was that an awesome play. I never thought I’d see a big dude run that fast or that far.) I thought we managed to pull victory from the jaws of personal fouls, flag-happy refs, receivers who can’t catch worth a damn, and terrible defense.
But alas, it was not to be. The Steelers managed to squeak by and win. My hearty congratulations to them.
My congratulations also to my friend Louis for making his own from-scratch tomato sauce, which is exceedingly delicious, and to my beautiful fianc?e Sarah, who gave me her recipe for lasagna. Granted, I modified it slightly by adding even more ground beef than originally called for, so as to increase the awesomeness (Note: Success!). Alas, Sarah wasn’t in town this weekend, so Louis and I went to the Dog House[1] for the Super Bowl and prepared the sauce and lasagna there.
During halftime, we ignited (with rather prodigious amounts of lighter fluid and the resulting huge flames — direct quote: “Is the bottom part of the grill supposed to be on fire?”) the charcoal grill and grilling bratwursts and hot dogs. Of course, the normal assortment of chips, dip, and other snacky foods were available.
My voice is a bit hoarse from cheering and yelling throughout the game.
Even though Arizona lost, it was a damned good game and much fun was had today.
[1] The house that my friends Rita, Teresa, Alex, and Colin rent. So named as they wanted a faux-fraternity name, and so used the Greek letters “Delta Omega Gamma”, or “Dog”. As it has a large living room, TV, and couches, it is often a scene of social gathering, drinking, etc.

The Importance of Backups

Congratulations! By reading this post, you have demonstrated that you are among one of the better-informed people on earth. Not only do you have a computer and access to the internet, but you are aware of blogs and evidently subscribe to or read at least one. Good job.
Granted, my humble scratchings are certainly not the most best around — if you want timely, witty, and funny writings, you’d best find those elsewhere.
That said, you — like myself — clearly use a computer for various purposes. Perhaps you have a blog of your own? Almost certainly some music, digital photographs, and important documents? Do you keep your financial and tax records on your computer? What about an inventory of your guns? Health information and medical records?
What would you do if your computer was damaged or destroyed and that data was lost? Whether it’s something “ordinary” like a computer virus, dropping the computer, theft, a house fire, storm, or flood, or something less common like the ATF raiding CavArms and confiscating every computer, disk, CD, and piece of paper in their offices, the risk of data loss is very real. Hard disks are delicate pieces of precision machinery and can fail for any number of trivial reasons — I’ve had one work just fine, and five minutes later be dead as a doornail with no warning.
What if your email provider suddenly locked you out of your mail, or mistakenly deleted your mail or account? It’s rare, but Google Mail (among others) have done this on occasion.
What, then, can one do? Easy: backup your stuff.
It doesn’t need to be fancy, but you should seriously consider the frequency and type of backups based on the importance of each item. Since your tax documents aren’t updated frequency, it might be prudent to just copy them once a year to an external drive and put the drive in your bank safe deposit box. It might be also be a good idea to print out the documents and include them with the drive, in case the drive fails somehow. You might want to back up your business records, scientific research, or Ph.D. dissertation once (or more) a day to somewhere off-site. At the worst, you’d only have to re-do one day of work. Burning a DVD or CD with your family photos and mailing them to your sister in Omaha might be good, so long as your sister doesn’t lose or break the disk. Making a copy of a WordPress MySQL database isn’t that hard, and one could keep it at home, ready to restore if things go wrong.
Of course, having to manually do backups is a pain and external hard disks can be expensive. After the first month or two, you might just say “to hell with it” and just not bother anymore, defeating the purpose of keeping backups.
Fortunately, some smart people have come up with a good solution: online backup services. You simply sign up for an account, install a small program, and for a nominal monthly fee they’ll store all your files off-site. Everything is done automatically over the internet, with your data being transmitted and stored securely using strong encryption. I use Mozy and pay $4.95/month for unlimited storage. If you need to backup 2GB or less, there’s no charge. Other services include Carbonite and JungleDisk, the latter being a client for Amazon’s S3 enterprise-grade storage service.
The first backup with Mozy can take several hours or days depending on how much stuff you have and how fast your internet connection is. After the first large backup, only new or updated files are copied, making future backups very fast. My first backup took about 12 hours, and subsequent ones only take a minute or two. The backups take place in the background, so you likely won’t notice any slowdown of your computer or internet connection.
Restorations are easy: you can restore a file or folder by right-clicking on it and choosing the suitable menu option. You can access your files securely on their website using a different computer if your main one was damage or lost. If downloading the files from Mozy would take too long due to their great size or a slow internet connection, you can even pay them a nominal fee and they’ll FedEx you DVDs of your data.
I have Mozy set to backup files on my laptop twice a day when my computer is idle, and will often execute a manual backup immediately after saving an important document, just to make sure that it’s securely stored offsite. Sometimes I’ll email a copy to myself as well.
All this talk about backups may seem silly and very Chicken Little-esque, but after losing critical, irreplaceable data for the first time (several years ago), I developed a “never again” mindset. Since then, regular backups have saved my hide (and two years of digital photos, in one case) on several occasions. Very well worth it indeed.