Inquirer Covers Fast and Furious

Surprisingly, they come down on Holder much harder than many other media outfits, and suggest it’s time for the Attorney General to be more forthcoming about how this happened, and this is the real shocking quote coming from the Inquirer, “Finally, [Holder] needs to explain how the administration went from wanting to ban assault weapons to supplying them to drug lords.”

In the mean time, the Washington Post and the New York Times are both busy carrying the water for the Administration, and trying to turn this into a discussion about our gun laws. I noticed the media is now more willing to come down on Fast and Furious, now that I think it’s clear who they plan to make the scapegoats. It seems unbelievable that an operation like this was concocted at lower levels, rather than directed from above, but both the WaPo and the Times don’t seem to want to acknowledge it. It’s rare that I offer kudos to the Philadelphia Inquirer, but in this case they deserve it.

Problems with OS X Lion

My first review yesterday was after upgrading and playing around with the new features a bit. Now that I’ve had more experience with it, I should warn you all that there are numerous problems I’ve found. Here’s my list of annoyances:

  • Time machine tells me backups are delayed if I disconnect the backup drive more than an hour. Previously it would go ten days between warnings. Ten days was preferable, especially for laptops you’re roaming around with. I’m not certain this is a bug, either. From some reading, I think versioning might be integrated with Time Machine, and needs it to work.
  • Versioning is annoying. There are some documents I might want to enable that feature for. I don’t want versioning to be universal unless it’s going to be transparent, which it is not. If this depends on Time Machine, it’s a poor implementation. Digital managed a good implementation of this idea in the filesystem for VMS.
  • MacFusion broke, as did MacFUSE. MacFUSE was easily fixed, but you can’t delete shares in MacFusion. If you’re not using FUSE filesystems, this isn’t a concern.
  • I had a weird error that prevented any apps from running. Upon examination, one of the OpenGL libs was trying to load another support library, “libCVMSPluginSupport.dylib”, but spelled “libCVMSPluginSuprort.dylib” The ASCII difference between r and p is only a single bit, so it’s possible a bit flipped in memory, and this isn’t related to Lion at all. That happens sometimes, and looking at the library trying to load it, it was spelled correctly in the binary code. A memory leak could also cause data corruption, which would be Lion related, but I would have expected more extensive damage than a single inverted bit in a string.
  • I have previously used a plugin that blocks all Flash on any page I don’t specifically approve. It was sophisticated enough to display still images for popular Flash apps like YouTube. It has greatly improved my life when browsing with huge numbers of tabs already open, because I don’t have dozens of instances of Flash running, slowing my machine down to show me ads I don’t want to see. This plugin seems to have stopped working under Lion.
  • The Mac will no longer wake on mouse movement. You have to actually click the mouse to wake the machine up. I’m fine with that, but an option to change it would be nice, and telling me would be too, so I’m not moving my mouse around frantically thinking my machine just crashed.

So that’s the list so far. We’ll see what else I find. My friend Jason thinks I’m nuts for suggesting it’s a good release. I believe his exact quote was “What the hell are you thinking? Its a horrible release.” Not doing any real work with this machine currently, I’m probably less inclined to find problems than he is. But just so anyone who wants to upgrade is aware, there could be problems.

Mac OS 10.7: The Lion Sleeps Tonight

I decided to upgrade one machine to Mac OS X 10.7, or Lion, as it’s branded. Just to make life more exciting, and because I’m bored, I decided to try it first on the Hackintosh. That added surprisingly little complication, given that there’s a procedure. The only complication I had was having to downgrade the sound driver, because Apple dropped support for the sound chip on my board some time ago.

So how is Lion? To be expected, Apple improved the eye candy. One thing I noticed immediately is a much improved text to speech capability. This showed up first on X-Plane, since it uses this to simulate air traffic control messages. If you upgraded from Snow Leopard, you may have to change it in the “speech” control panel. Apple also seems to be trying to bring iOS-like features to the Mac OS. That already happened in the later releases of Snow Leopard with bringing in the App Store concept. For Lion, there’s the LaunchPad, which is a virtual clone of the iOS Springboard. LaunchPad would seem to obsolete the Applications dock, so it would be interesting to see if a fresh install comes with the App dock enabled. Lion also comes with FaceTime, first introduced on the iOS platform, which is a videoconference app similar to Skype.

iCal and Mail are totally redesigned. I’m not sure whether I like it yet. You can go back to the classic view if you don’t, for Mail. Just as a warning, your calendar will probably be messed up when you upgrade. Mine was, and so was a friend’s. Mine was easy to fix. Apple also decided to change the way scrolling works. They’ve been pushing the trackpad device for Mac users for a while now, which is a touchpad interface similar to an iDevice screen. The Magic Mouse, which I use, is a touch interface as well, where you can scroll just moving your finger on the surface of the mouse. If you’re used to a scroll wheel, this seems counterintuitive, but if you’re used to an iPad, it might seem more intuitive. Tellingly, Apple refers to their reverse scroll feature as “natural scrolling,” implying if you don’t want to scroll Apple’s way, you’re unnatural, and clearly an abomination in the eyes of Steve.

One concept I do like is full screen apps through Mission Control, and the ability to move between them with mouse or trackpad gestures, similar to how iOS 5 is going to work when it’s released. The concept seems borrowed, in a way, from workspaces, in Unix/Linux environments, except it’s more suited to allowing you to use applications full screen and still being able to switch easily between them. There are some things I’m not sure I like about the implementation, however. For one, if you miss with a finger, you end up giving the mouse a scrolling gesture, which has different behavior in full screen apps. I’d rather have the option of a keyboard key, and gesture. Apple seems to have decided mice are so 1980s, man, and they stole that technology from Xerox anyway, so to hell with it. Trackpads for all! We’ll overlook that everyone pretty much stole the trackpad idea from Apollo Computer. Another deficiency with the Mission Control concept is that for multi-headed machines, it does not allow you to have one full screen app on one monitor, and another full screen app on another.

The new iChat has some extra features, but Adium is still better. Resume, which basically tries to emulate the consistent state of iOS between shutdowns and restarts would be nice if it worked a little better. Safari has a lot of new features, and what specifically is interesting for me is the “Reading List.” This was introduced a few weeks ago in Snow Leopard, but under Lion it’ll sync between other Macs and iOS devices, though I haven’t seen it work yet on iOS devices. Possibly this is an iOS 5 feature. For me, it’s important, because I do a lot of browsing on the iPad, and bookmark syncing between iPad->MobileMe->Mac and back again has been awkward. This might be a much better way to tag posts and articles for blogging that is readily available on all the devices I use, with syncing through MobileMe.

One feature I haven’t had a chance to play with yet is FileVault 2, which allows you to encrypt data seamlessly, and with high performance. I don’t have much interest in encrypting my day to day files, but encrypting backups might be something I’d like to do, since I often leave (left) that disk at the office so if my house burned down I wouldn’t lose everything. One problem, though, with encrypted data is remembering the key passphrase or not losing the key. Computer forensicists are also going to have fun with this feature, because with “Instant Wipe”, the key pretty much gets destroyed, rendering the data nothing more than digital gobbledygook, which then gets erased anyway. I am all in favor of pervasive encryption, however, because of governments who can’t seem to mind their own damned business. I’m glad this feature is present, even if I never use it.

Versions is another feature I haven’t played with yet, but essentially it’ll keep multiple versions of documents going back to its creation, and lets you browse versions and roll back. Though, I would imagine only iApps support that currently. I just opened up Word, and it does not seem to use the feature.

Overall, I’d suggest its not a bad release. It’s certainly a greater step than between Leopard and Snow Leopard, in terms of new features. One disappointing thing, for me at least, is that OpenGL performance on the MacOS is still fairly pitiful compared to Windows, and quite pitiful compared to Linux. Upon benchmarking, Lion is a very slight improvement in OpenGL performance over Snow Leopard, but not enough to be worth mentioning. Apple would be wise to work with AMD and NVidia to optimize its drivers for stronger OpenGL performance. Other than that, it’s worth the thirty dollars to upgrade. Waiting until the first maintenance release or two might not be a bad idea either, if you’re looking to avoid small problems and quirks. I plan on upgrading my two MacBooks, and Bitter’s MacBook Air, before I start a new job.

RFID Chips in Chiappa Firearms

Robb has a pretty good round up of the issue this past week, where Chiappa was found to be putting RFID tags in their firearms. Chiappa notes that it’s for inventory control. That is a legitimate reason, but if that is, indeed, the reason, you address your customer’s concerns by making it easy to remove, and helping the customer remove it. I also would suggest that banding the firearm with a tag would be far more preferable than gluing it into the grip.

But even as a form of inventory control, I am not pleased with Chiappa, or any other firearms manufacturer even going there, because this would make gun control in public places perfectly enforceable for the law abiding. Why? Because the next thing our opponents are going to start pushing, and thanks Chiappa, for giving them the idea, is to make RFID tagging on firearms mandatory, and making it illegal for an owner to remove or destroy the tag.

Now all you need is an RFID scanner to find out if someone is carrying. Now all a thief needs is a scanner to look for their presence in a home. Now all you need, if your goal is to get as many gun owners in prison as possible, to have a tag fail, and the police accuse the person of disabling it.

So I’m with Robb. Chiappa either didn’t think this through, or doesn’t care. Neither excuse is acceptable. We’re willing to pay more to do things the old fashioned way so we don’t open this can of worms. One thing I will say for sure, if they ever do mandate RFID tagging in guns, I’m going to develop a scanner for the pant wetters among our opponents that tells them when they are near someone with a gun. Why? Because they’ll find out how often that’s actually the case, and it’ll either help them get over their phobia, or force them to lead a secluded life behind closed doors.

How About a Government That Leaves Me Alone?

I hate the GOP, and I hate my choices. So with the Democrats, I can either have my money, and my kids’ money, spent so fast that our head spins, or, under the GOP, I can deal with stupid Internet snooping bills that invade my privacy and force ISPs to spend huge sums of money watching what everyone does. Let’s not even, for a moment, think about what this will do to the performance of high speed connections, where services will have to be forced through proxies, in order for their behavior to be logged. I propose an amendment to this bill, suggesting that Congress’ and the White House’s internet connection get tapped too, and the logs opened up to anyone who wants to look. Think it’ll pass then?

I should note that Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT), and Rep. Issa (R-CA), all voted against this stupid, stupid bill. The rest of the GOP fell in line. The GOP is still for big government, they are just for different big government than the Democrats.

Client Shopping

If you’re an FFL, and you’ve gotten a demand letter, NRA-ILA’s Office of Legislative Counsel would like to speak with you. Rumor has it that some FFLs have gotten demand letters. This is an ATF demand that needs to be answered with a lawsuit, as the multi-long-gun reporting requirement is unlawful.

Then Why Does the Military Have Artillery, Dennis?

Acting Brady President Dennis Henigan notes about the Norway massacre:

For those who are quick to argue that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” it is instructive that the Norway killer took many more lives with his guns than with his explosives. Violent individuals intent on inflicting multiple fatalities don’t choose knives or baseball bats. With few exceptions, they choose guns.

That the explosives did not kill more people has more to do with luck and bad planning on the part of the killer. His shooting spree, in contrast, was much more thought out. McVeigh’s bomb killed 168 people. There’s no fundamental reason explosives have to result in a lower death toll. If small arms were so unbelievably deadly as Dennis would have people believe, the military would have no use for grenades, bombs, rockets, missiles, and artillery.

Lautenberg Blood Dancing

Didn’t take long:

“This terrorist took the lives of innocent people, including many children, and it’s outrageous that flaws in America’s gun laws may have helped him carry out such a horrific crime,” said Senator Lautenberg.  “Our country cannot be the weapons depot for terrorists and criminals here at home and around the world.  High-capacity magazines are built to shoot and kill people quickly, and they do not belong in the consumer marketplace.”

I wasn’t aware magazines were built to shoot and kill people quickly. I wasn’t aware they were built to shoot at all. Here all along I did not realize a box with a spring and follower in it was a highly refined killing machine.