Monday, May 31, 2010

iPod tOuch complaints

The iPod Touch is a fantastic device--I love mine, and don't want to be without it  However, some of its limitations are maddening--in large part because they are arbitrary and artificial, rather than being genuine limits of the system.  Many people "jailbreak" their iPhones, removing these artificial restrictions.

Some of these limits make sense on the iPhone, like limiting certain apps to wifi, or limiting the size of 3g downloads.  Some of the limits on the Touch are plausibly "if you can't do it well, don't do it". Apps are restricted to Apple-Approved, and only Apple apps are allowed to run while other things are going on.   This means I can listen to music via the built-in music app, while downloading from an official Apple source, while using yet another app--but I can't listen to Pandora while doing anything else.  Apple says this is to maintain battery life.  

One of the most annoying needless limitations are how the iTouch handles podcasts.  Podcasts are a sort of audio blog, using the same RSS protocols that most blogs do so new episodes can show up automatically.  Podcasts are yet another feature that needlessly requires a computer to do right.   While the Touch can download a podcast without a computer if it is available on iTunes, it cannot automate the download.--to a large extent defeating the purpose of the podcast. The easiest way to get new podcasts is to go to the podcast section of the music app, note the most recent podcast, then click the "get more episodes" link which will take you to the iTunes store, and show you the most recent podcasts.  While in the store, there's no indication which podcasts you've already downloaded, so you need to remember where you left off.  If you want to download the recent episodes of a different podcast, go back to the music app and repeat.  It is possible to download directly from the store by searching, but that is cumbersome enough that the above procedure is significantly easier.   If you want to keep a list of podcasts, you must keep at least one podcast from each, otherwise that entry disappears.

All of this seems deliberately non-friendly.  Since Apple is Interface above all else except profit, this is almost certainly deliberate, to ensure you use iTunes.

I found the ipod app  "RSS player" to do podcasts.  In theory it should do everything I need--but it is buggy to the point of uselessness.  I shouldn't need it in the first place, but it should at least do its job.   It also makes me wonder what the point of the Apple Store's approval process is. 

Another annoyance is that I cannot delete music directly from the touch, I need a computer.  I also can't save music, except via iTunes., although I can play music from a web page.

I can't sync via wifi, only via USB.  Third party apps are the opposite--they can only transfer via wifi, and NOT via USB.

...and if iTunes for Windows understood the concept of multiple users, much of this would be less of an issue.  We only have one Windows computer in the house, it has iTunes--but even though I have a different user account than my wife, iTunes brings up HER stuff instead of mine, regardless of which account.  There is a way of launching iTunes that lets you select which account, but it isn't intuitive.
--If I remember right, hold Shift, then it lets you pick a profile.

It astounds me that they do some stuff so well, and other stuff that is just as critical to the user experience so poorly.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Watching the testimony of my state senator got me wondering about how my district was set up.  My representative (Strahorn) was obviously a big-city type, but I live in a town of 20,000 surrounded by farms.

My district consists of Miami County Ohio, part of Darke County, the part of Montgomery county containing Dayton, and a little corridor to connect Dayton to Miami county

Miami county has a total population of 98,000,   Population density is 243 per square mile. and the biggest city is Troy at 21,000

Darke County has a population of 53,000, density of 89 per square mile.  Its largest city is Greenville, with a population of 13,294  The district border includes only part of Greenville.

The city of Dayton has a population of 166,000, with a population density of 2852 per square mile.   Dayton is very much a commuter town--lots of businesses, and low-end housing, but with the majority of middle- and upper-class housing in the surrounding suburbs.   I can't see the exact boundaries on the Senate district map, but it appears to be effectively Dayton and a narrow corridor to Miami County, without any of the more affluent suburbs.

I'm very curious how areas so mismatched in demographics, population density and geography came to be considered one district, with the urban portion having such a clear majority.

We really need to find some way to impartially create districts, rather than whoever has power getting to draw them.   Unfortunately I can't think of any good way to do this, because even if it is done through a computer program, the initial parameters are subject to bias

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ohio Restaurant and Car Carry reform bill passes

Ohio has peculiar laws about how people with licenses are allowed to carry a loaded gun in a motor vehicle. (we also have a bizarre definition of loaded that includes an empty gun with a loaded magazine anywhere in the car)  Basically we have a handful of  discrete choices--locked container, closed container in plain sight, glovebox or console, or in a holster on your person. Anything else is a 5th degree felony, as is intentionally touching your gun. Stupid and largely unenforceable law.

We also are one of the few remaining states that does not allow carry where alcohol is served.

Ohio just passed Senate Bill 239 this afternoon, and I watched much of the testimony. Some of the senators in favor were showboating a bit, but were at least logical. We heard recaps of testimony from committee hearings, where former Texas legistlator Suzanna Hupp lost her parents when similar laws caused her to leave her gun in her car, where a Dayton-area resident and license holder was robbed at knifepoint when she had to leave her gun in her car to pick up a pizza, and where a Tennessee woman with a license watched her husband get executed by a stalker when similar laws kept her gun in her car.

Most of those against were from big-city districts--Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland. The most sensible argument was that some law enforcement organizations are against the bill. Quite a bit of the rest was irrelevant, basically trying (largely unsuccessfully) to find some of the standard "I support the Second Amendment but we need to get rid of guns" arguments to fit this case.   "how will we keep people from twirling their guns as they drive".  We also heard "guns and alcohol don't mix" over and over--until those who were for the bill said "That's right--that is why the bill doesn't allow drinking while carrying". 

Senator Ray Miller started ranting incoherently about AK 47's, and the police being out-gunned by 9mm's, neither of which have anything to do with this bill.

Another Senator rambled on about his daddy who carried a gun in his overalls, and would always lock it in the glovebox to go to the Piggly Wiggly or Winn-Dixie, and for the safety of police officers why would we want to carry any other way but in a locked container, or a closed container, or a glovebox, or ...holstered.  He repeated that more than once, with the same pause and mumble of "holstered".

My own senator Strahorn rambled on  "both sides have points, reasonable people can disagree" before coming down against the bill.  If I didn't know his record, it would have taken several minutes to figure out which side he was on.  I'm glad I'm likely to have a chance to vote against him someday.  His district is a weird gerrymandered thing that covers my county, half of the next county west, both mostly rural and small town--but with a tentacle reaching into Montgomery county to attach Dayton and the surrounding urban area that while considerably smaller geographically has more population.

There were several examples of past gun misconduct, either by license holders or by people in bars--but none of the misconduct would be made legal by this bill.  There were also the typical "what if..." and "disagreements lead to bloodshed" hysterics, as if we don't have quite a bit of information from other states showing that both restaurant carry and simplified car carry don't cause trouble.   It was obvious both from testimony and from the results of the vote (roughly 75% in favor) that those opposed were just anti gun in general and not weighing the specifics.

Next I hope we can get this through the House.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Draw Mohammed day

I can't draw worth beans, so I asked my wife to draw Mohammed.  This is what I wound up getting...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Harbor Freight leather tools review

Harbor Freight sells a set of leatherworking tools--an adjustable edge groover, an edge beveler, and an adjustable V gouge.

The edge beveler basically works, but the shape isn't as convenient as the Tandy version--The Tandy has a concave profile in the bottom that helps guide the beveler, especially handy for curves and if you have to make a second pass (which is common for me on curves).  The Harbor Freight basically guides on the corner it is shaving off. .  The beveler is the best of the set.   The Tandy is on the right in this picture.

The edge groover I got is defective--it looks like they skipped machining for the part that actually cuts the groove. (Not surprising for Harbor Freight--they essentially farm out quality control to their customers) The design looks like it would be a bit more convienient, able to adjust without tools. but if it doesn't actually cut, there is not much point.  The left tool is the Tandy groover, the right is the Harbor Freight as received. On the Tandy, the tip is cut even with the hole, so the hole acts as sort of a grater.  I ground the tip of the Harbor Freight tool to match the profile of the Tandy, and it mostly works, although the bigger hole leaves a wider groove. That might be handy for the groove on the back, to account for stitching holes not going perfectly straight. I also discovered that the handle is loose on the tool, coming unscrewed under use.  I unscrewed it completely, applied glue and put it back together.  If that doesn't work, I'll drill and pin it in place.  (or just throw it away...)

I've never used a V gouge, and I don't really have a need for one. I was eventually able to make  a gouge, but it is very difficult to control. It feels like the tool needs to be sharpened to work well, and needs too much pressure to make guiding it easy.   However, it is entirely possible I don't know what I'm doing, and am using this tool completely wrong.   There were no instructions for any of these tools.

Although the quality of the Tandy tools is functional rather than  outstanding, it is far, far better than the Harbor Freight equivalents.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Yet another holster

This one is a candidate to replace my Minotaur for my 3" XD, the gun I carry the most.  (I heartily recommend the Minotaur--works well, reasonably priced, versatile, and quick shipping)  The clips are metal from Tandy Leather, if I keep this for myself I will likely replace them with kydex.  I used Chicago screws, in part because these clips only have one position so adjustment has to be based  on multiple positions on the holster.

I took asymmetrical molding to an extreme--Almost no molding on the back, just a touch around the slide lock, take-down levers and trigger guard.  I'd thought I had gone a bit deeper on the trigger guard,  but it still has excellent retention without being hard to draw.  The reinforced mouth is meant to be above the belt in my usual carry position so it doesn't add bulk, while still allowing easy one-handed re-holstering.  The the design makes it possible to comfortably carry  quite high, although I might modify the design to lower the top of the pocket for a dedicated high ride, especially for a longer barreled gun.  I'll reserve final judgement until I can wear it for a day or so--I wore it a bit before I dyed it, but I couldn't wear it today because the dye takes a day or so before it quits rubbing off on clothing.   I'll wear a gray shirt just in case...

If I wind up wearing this adjusted to sit high, I'll probably do another version with a lower mouth.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Random, non-holster post

I brought the camera while walking the dogs, hoping to get pictures of the baby ducks and geese we have seen every day for the past few days.  None of them showed up that day, but the next day when we didn't have the camera they were back....

We often pass this river level marker on a bridge.  I'd wondered if Leopold was the same one as the scope and optics manufacturer.  It turns out that Leopold started as a company that repaired surveying equipment, Stevens contracted with them to manufacture a water level indicator he had designed, and only much later did they start doing scopes.

While waiting for Bella to catch up, saw this hornet-like bug cutting a groove in a wooden fence post.

And in other news, allergies somehow made me lose my good glasses, the only pair of bifocals I own.  My eyes have been getting abnormally itchy at night, and I wound up going to sleep on my recliner relatively early, not so much because I was tired, but because my eyes felt better closed.   Oralia woke me to go to bed.  In the morning when I got up, my glasses were not in their usual spot by my bed, and even with a spare pare, they are not in any logical place I can think of--I've searched all around my bed, my desk, the bathroom, the kitchen and the recliner (even inside the recliner) and come up empty.   It took a couple weeks to get used to my bifocals, but now  I miss them, I'm back to taking my glasses off for close work.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Asymmetrically-molded IWB Tuckable holster

I decided to try a tuckable holster this time.   I roughly pre-molded the front side, before sewing--still using the foodsaver bag, but with a piece of scrap masonite in the back instead of the back side.  This complicates sewing just a bit, but results in a smoother back against the body--I think the trade is worthwhile.   I also went with very wide radius curves, avoiding any small pressure points except at the rear of the slide where there really isn't an alternative.  Once the sewing was done, I re-wetted,  and did the finer molding.  Clips are from Comp-Tac, left over from another project.  I need to find a good substitute, because their addition roughly doubles the material cost of the holster.  Screws go into T nuts, meant for woodworking with upholstery leather as a backer.

This is comfortable enough that I may begin carrying my 4"XD more, and I may make a version for my 3".  Not too many improvements necessary, and not enough to justify making another for this gun--the only thing I am likely to significantly change in the future is the attachment point for the clips--Holsters are more tuckable if the screws are in the bottom hole of the clip, but currently that position leaves the grip too close to the belt. to be useful,  I'd also need to change the way it attaches if I use the metal clips that I can easily obtain.

There are a few holster makers that don't like tuckables, and say that a gun under a tucked shirt is too slow to get to to be useful.  I somewhat agree with this, but I prefer clips, and most clips are tuckable.  You don't have to tuck, and the design gives more clearance between the grip and holster, allowing a lower position.   I have also had a couple of times where plans changed, I needed to remove a layer of clothing for comfort, and an untucked shirt would have been conspicuous.