Monday, February 10, 2020

Today, February 10, 2020

Today, I will work on more today posts.
Today, I did two pushups.
Today, I work in the office.
Today, I will help with the Boy Scout Troop.
Today, I am thankful for our family and having an excellent calm weekend together..
Today, I will abide.
Today, I am at peace.

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Review: The Bullet Hole, Mission KS

TL'DR - good large shooting range and gun store. Bit dated and dusty. I like it.

Now for the novel:

The Bullet Hole is a fine shooting range and gun store in North Johnson County, KS. Been shopping here 20+ years, ever since I moved to town. They certainly do have the largest range in the area, upper floor is 15 or 30 lanes with target carriers out to 25 yards. Lower level is two open rooms for competition events; IDPA, IPCS, revolver, steel challenge and more.  Nice conference room downstairs too.  Lane fees are great - one fee for the annual membership - and you get to shoot free that day - and one flat rate for the lane for as long as you care to shoot.  No hourly fees. Air handlers work well, pulling smoke and lead fumes downrange and out of your face.  Air is directly pulled from outside, so it's right cold in the winter.

After becoming a member at The Bullet Hole (not sure of the time period)  you can rent a wide variety of handguns to try out, and I understand they have recently gotten their machine gun permit and have rental machine guns there tool.  Pull the trigger once - all 20 rounds fire off, unless you let go of the trigger.

While  busy, the employees have always been polite, even when I ask the same question 3 or 50 times in a row (usually about pricing and the colored tags).  Their firearm selection is first rate, focused on personal protection.  Pricing is better than you find at gun shows, and usually competitive with online shops.  They've been very gracious in letting me look and handgun after handgun, knowing I''m not buying anything that day. They've helped me to purchase and installed TFO TruGlo sights on my handguns, fair price, on the spot turnaround and no labor fees.

They offer reasonable prices on factory ammunition, and frequently have bulk ammunition sales.  They also have reloading supplies, although I've never seen any reloading presses set up or for sale.

Their accessory selection (holsters, primarily) has always been an afterthought it appears; they do have some holsters, but they are not in good order on the pegs and you simply have to flip through to see what you can find. I don't blame them - with the diversity of makes, models and types of holsters, limited wall space, and brutal competition online, I wouldn't put a lot of time or energy into holsters.  They could stand to clean it up and dust though.

One less star for the store for cleanliness.  Granted, it's an old building.  Granted, millions of round have been shot in it.  But it could stand a coat of paint, fresh carpet every 3 or 5 years, and a weekly detail clean of everything, and daily dusting. When it's busy, and they've had a ammo truck delivery, it's very crowded, hard to move around in during peak times.  Try to come by at 10AM or 2PM instead of lunch or just after dinner when everyone else does.

As I understand they've recently been bought out and now offer remarkably better communications, dozens of classes from the newest shooter to the grizzled old competition shooter through several vendors, not just the owners.  Very pleased to see that, have taken one of my sons through their basics class and he was *geeked*.  Wife and I did a couples / 2 person self defense class, and she was treated with respect, highly enjoyed the class and still brags on the class to this day. 

Long story short, big range.  Good gun shop.  20+ year customer, will continue to do business with them.

Dell Latitude 7250 12.5" Laptop Computer Review

Ah, yes, reviewing 5 year old hardware.  But it's what I can scrounge and a batch seems to be on the market as refurbished models now - so here's the scoop.
First, I got it at Microcenter.  Easy, quick pickup, exceptionally helpful staff.  In, out, done, 15 minutes, cursory upsell on warranty. (No thanks on a $300 refurb with completely customer replaceable parts. )




Specs:

Dual core, 4 thread Intel i5 5300U at 2.3 ghz. (Broadwell)
12.5" 1900/1080 FHD screen with 10 point touch.
Intel HD Graphics 5500, shared memory.
8GB ram installed in two banks of 4GB each
128GB SSD. 
Backlit 82 key keyboard, trackpad, two discrete buttons, supports multitouch.
Ports: USB2, USB3 (A-Style); Mini Display Port, full size HDMI port, GigE RJ45 port.
Battery in the refurb was in remarkably good condition!

The Bad

Booting up the first time, it behaves just as you'd expect Windows 10 to start up - load stuff, link to your Microsoft account, set PIN etc.  However, once booted, you could NOT get many of the Win10 Builtin apps (like the Microsoft app Store) to fire, at all.  8 hours troubleshooting, created extra local users accounts, refreshed the OS to new twice, ran a screen full of Powershell commands, no go.
So, after a full business day off fussing with it, I grabbed the Lenovo mini laptop and made a Win10 install USB stick.  Fired the Dell back up, hit 'F2' and simply moved USB boot above on board hard drive.  Formatted the 118 GB partition after it boot up from the USB drive and did a fresh install of Win 10.
Word to the wise - it will restart during installation. If you miss that, and still have the USB flash drive in there, it will start the install over, creating two installations of Win10 on your hard drive. Watch the install while it runs until you can remove the USB drive.

The Good

Once the fresh copy of Windows 10 was installed - and it activated all on it's own, not taking the product key on the bottom of the laptop (?) - it ran fine.  All apps ran as expected, was able to set up Your Phone, network, printers, network shares, Bluetooth (listening to Pink Floyd on Youtube over AKG Y50BT cans right now)  
I have never used a touchscreen laptop.  I find it (at least on the bitty 12" model) very nice to check boxes and tap OK buttons.  Faster and easier than waving the mouse around to find the pointer and hit the right button.
The screen is frelling brilliant.  Deep dark blacks, saturated colors, true FHD screen.  Exceptionally impressed with the screen.  Rivals my (same age) Retina MacBook Pro, although the MacBook does have a higher resolution.  Keyboard is well within tolerance - large key caps, backlit, good key feel when typing.  And that's from a guy who, for 22 years+ would not type on anything but an IBM Model M Buckling Spring Keyboard.

Speed, so how about speed?

It's a dual core i5 from 5 years ago.  It's not going to handle your 53mpxl RAW photos or 8K video editing.  Or much video editing at all (although I guarantee I'm going to load DaVinci Resolve on there just for the fun factor).
Loads Chrome, Firefox, Edge (legacy), Edge (chrome) all fine.  Updated to the latest version of Windows. WiFi was easy to connect, solid and quick.

Conclusion?

Still TBD if this is an all-day laptop; initial reports showed a 4 hour battery life; I'm going to run it through a few conditioning cycles and see how the battery life holds out.  Overall, a steal. Brilliant hand feel from the textured polycarbonate case to the palm rest. Excellent screen, no problems with performance for office / school work or web and video surfing.  A 4 star Good Buy rating from me if you can find one.

(ObDisclaimer: I was not compensated for this post. All products mentioned should not be considered an endorsement, and were all paid out of pocket by me)

Enjoy your new laptop!

Will England

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Review: ORA:CLE

ORA:CLE ORA:CLE by Kevin O'Donnell Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Grabbed this off a discount rack decades ago - before I'd heard of the company by the same name. Great pulp sci-fi, a world dominated by aliens, cities completely re-forested to battle the high C02 levels and global warming, citizens that never leave their apartment, having everything delivered from online orders through their 'mass transciever'; public and job meetings taking place in virtual environments where everyone is working remote. Very prescient of today's Skype, Internet shopping and climate change. But, with a twist! The protagonist finds a problem in the shared story everyone has agreed, to, and with that information, his life is at risk. Does he dare act on this new information that could literally kill half the population, but free them from alien domination?

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Ham Radio - 160 meter vertical antenna

In a small yard, you have limited options for setting up an antenna for the lower bands of HAM Radio. This article gives a good overview of a helical wound vertical antenna that can be used in a small space. Going to have to try this out. It's vaguely portable as well for field day or operating while camping!
http://www.hamuniverse.com/k6mm160metervertical.html 

Monday, January 20, 2020

Powerlet Motorcycle Power Adapters are back!

Powerlet, a long time leader in secure, durable, rugged motorcycle and powersports 12v sockets, plugs, wires, mounts and accessories, is back in business!  Check them out at https://www.powerlet.com/


https://www.powerlet.com/