A good primer on the history of the 2nd Amendment

I think the video is a wonderful hour long history of the 2nd Amendment.  Tom did a similar talk at Phreaknic last year, which I saw making the rounds among gun bloggers and can be found here.  I probably should have been one of the folks posting it considering that I’ve been attending and/or helping run that con for a good while now.

This time, he’s talking at Dragoncon, and focusing more on how the 14th Amendment had a big impact on the application of the 2nd (not to mention the rest of the Constitution).

I think that a *lot* of folks need to sit down and watch at least one of these videos before they open there mouths to argue the Second Amendment, and gun rights in general.  I know Tom personally, and he’s a good guy that tends to do serious research before talking about something.  He has had several “drunken rants” at Phreaknic that were honestly more informative and thoughtful than many “serious” talks I’ve attended.

By the way, if you’re into computer security (or computer geekery in general), Phreaknic 19 is coming up the first week in November in Nashville.  I am the director of gaming again this year, and will also be giving a talk on 3D printed guns and other homemade firearms.  We’re going to have better/more professional speakers there as well.  Come on down, say hi, maybe play a few games, drink a few beers, and take the opportunity to heckle me in person!  I might even be persuaded to make a trip to the range with you if you twist my arm hard enough.

Southern Illinois shooting complex to shut down “indefinitely”

Sad news for folks on the Illinois side of the border near St. Louis.  Apparently, the budget fight that the state’s legislature is currently having that has made news because they’re refusing to pay out lotto winnings (which, yes, has resulted in lawsuits) has spread to closing of state run venues.  Specifically, the World Shooting and Recreation Complex near Sparta, Il.

I will admit that I’ve never stepped foot onto this complex, but that is merely due to me living a couple states away.  According to its website, it supports trap, skeet, cowboy action shooting, archery, along with a boat load of standard pistol and rifle shooting lanes.  It also has camping and RV facilities, a restaurant, boat ramp, and a shooting sports hall of fame.  It also has the home to  the Grand American World Trapshooting Championship.  I’m not into trap shooting, but I’m assuming that’s a big deal.

Of course, the big problem comes down to money.  According to the article, the complex costs the state $3million a year to run, and has only been bringing in $1.1million.  Of course, I’m guessing that most of that is getting sunk into the restaurant, which will remain open (they’re only closing the shooting ranges and RV park).

Sounds to me like it’s a similar ploy to when the state of Tennessee decided to close a bunch of state parks “due to budgetary reasons” when the true cost was to send a guy out every couple days to change the trash bags at the start of the trail.  Of course, the real reason was to make people upset so they could pass a tax increase.

Kilted to Kick Cancer: So You Want to Wear a Kilt?

Before I get into it, I want to remind people why I’m doing this.  This month is Prostrate awareness month, and I’m participating in Kilted to Kick Cancer.  Last year, we raised $13,000 for research, and want to beat that this year.  If you’ve got some extra cash, please follow that link and tell them that Team Oddball sent you.

Wow… it’s almost the end of the week, and I forgot to post a picture (I blame Dragoncon), so… here you go!

Why yes, that is a gallon sized flask.

Why yes, that is a gallon sized flask

I figured this year I’d discuss the basics of wearing kilts.  This being the first post, I might as well start off with the simple stuff and discuss the different types.

There’s basically 3 types, starting from newest to oldest:

  • The utility kilt:  This is what I’m wearing above, made by one of the first companies to make them (Utilikilt).  These are a new idea that basically didn’t exist until they and Alt.kilt came around in the early 2000’s.  Now it seems like everyone’s making them.  I’m sure everyone reading this blog is familiar with 5.11’s attempt at making them.  I’d also point to UTKilt as a good manufacturer for cheap ones.  There are some companies that have made them in various tartans, but, for the most part, you’re looking at solid colors.  The biggest benefit these have over the more traditional styles is pockets.
  • The small kilt: This is what most folks think of when you say “kilt,” and has been standard for formal events/uniforms/etc for a couple hundred years now.  These are almost always made using fabric with a tartan/plaid pattern on it, but can be found with solid colors (or if some crazy person decides to make one out of hawaiian print fabric).  Traditionally, they’re made of wool, but you can get them made out of acrylic, rayon, and various other fabrics.  While some companies do offer some with hidden pockets (notably, Sportkilt), if you’re wanting to carry anything, it’s going to have to be stuffed in your sporran (that pouch in the front), or other pouches hanging off your belt.  Oh, and if you’re not hanging things off your belt, the belt is purely for decoration, and many kilts of this type don’t have belt loops.
  • The great kilt: The great kilt is the oldest of the types.  It’s basically a large piece of fabric (typically wool) and a belt.  The cloth is laid on the ground and pleated on top of the belt.  The wearer then lays down on the cloth, wraps it around him, and then secures it with the belt.  This garment serves multiple purposes as outerwear, a hooded cloak if needed, and a bed roll (a 60″ by 6-9yard piece of thick wool will keep you pretty warm, even on a cold damp night in the highlands).  If you’re going to go this route, be warned that it is expensive.  There’s no way to get around the price of that much fabric.  Obviously, there are no pockets, although I’ve seen folks gather the excess fabric as makeshift pockets.

One last thing, the flat panel of the kilt should be facing forward, not the pleats.  I would think that this is obvious, but I’ve seen folks on TV wearing the damn things backwards.



It’s that time of year again!

Hold on… It’s already the 3rd?  How did that happen?

Well, I’m sitting here in Atlanta for Dragoncon, so I’ll make this brief.  As you probably remember from previous years, September is prostrate cancer awareness month, and I will be once again participating in Kilted to Kick Cancer!

Last year, we raised $13,000 to the Prostate Cancer Research and Education Foundation.  Hopefully, we can beat that this year.

And to start the month of with something festive, here’s a kilt that I may or may not be allowed to wear again that I wore to a luau at Hypericon.

Don't be too mad at the guy in red.  He went to Ohio State and doesn't know better.

Don’t be too mad at the guy in red. He went to Ohio State and doesn’t know better.

Okay, Google. Start the Jeep!

So this happened:

Now let me tell you how I got all that to work.

Raspberry Pi 2 w/Case
16GB Micro SD Card
TP-LINK TL-WN722N Wireless N150 High Gain USB Adapter
5db Antenna
SainSMart 4 Channel Relay Module
Wire Jumpers
2A Car Charger
Avital 5103L Remote Start Car Alarm

AutoVoice and the unlock code

The high-level workflow goes like this:

  • Activate Google Now on my Note 4 by saying, “Okay, Google”
  • Send Google Now the command “Start the Jeep”
  • AutoVoice intercepts the command and kicks off a Tasker task
  • Tasker launches Chrome with the URL that corresponds to a PHP page on the Pi
  • That PHP page calls the WiringPi library and sets a GPIO pin to out mode, then activates that pin for 2 seconds and deactivates it
  • The relay card accepts the GPIO signal and energizes one of the relays for that 2 second interval
  • The relay is connected to the Remote Start Activation wire on the Normally Open side of the relay and the Jeep’s Ground on the common terminal, so when the relay is energized, the Remote Start Activation wire is grounded
  • The alarm recognizes that the Remote Start Activation wire is grounded, and kicks off the black-box-to-me remote start process.

Unfortunately, I don’t have it working with my Samsung Gear Live Android Wear watch yet, but I’m confident I’ll get that figured out.

It’s important to note here that I wrote exactly 6 lines of code here, and two of those lines were the PHP opening and closing tags. This is not a project that requires a lot of that kind of expertise. Familiarity, yes, but not expertise.

The Remote Start

When I bought my Jeep, the previous owner had installed an Avital 3100L car alarm. I’ve had a few cars with remote start, so when the alarm started flaking out on me, I replaced it with an Avital 5103L Remote Start Car Alarm. The reason why I went with that remote start is, frankly, because it shares a harness with the 3100L. I didn’t want to have to re-wire the door locks, starter kill, dome light, etc. if I didn’t have to. Plus it was only like $80. Now that I’ve had it for a while, I know I should have spent the extra $30 and gotten the two-way pager model.

Avital is a DEI brand–like Viper, Clifford, and Python. DEI sells an internet-connected alarm add-on module for like $170 plus $70 a year. As of mid-August 2015, their “new version 4.0–coming early 2015” is still not ready yet. My point is that my Avital alarm has a wire that, when grounded, activates the remote start capabilities of the unit.

This is good, because now we can use this dedicated, purpose built hardware to accomplish the most difficult part of all this: Actually starting the Jeep!

Now, my Jeep is a 98. It’s old. It doesn’t have factory security or any fancy RFID keyfob. DEI has modules that can bypass those things, but they cost extra. Installing a remote start is not for the faint of heart, especially in a newer vehicle with 37 different kinds of security. Remote Starts essentially hotwire the car, and automakers have spent the last decade or so trying to make it very, very difficult to do that.

The Raspberry Pi 2

I finally broke down and bought one after Barron plugged it on GBVC EP27. And yes, it was my plan all along to use it for this purpose since I knew about that remote start activation wire.

In addition to my home wifi network, my employer provides a guest wifi network that I can have the Pi connect to. I haven’t gotten this part fully worked out yet, but the plan is to have the Pi connect to my OpenVPN instance at home and route the commands through that. I don’t want other people on the guest network to be able to randomly start my Jeep during the day :)

In order to make sure the Pi can actually reach the guest network, I bought a TP-LINK TL-WN722N Wireless N150 High Gain USB Adapter specifically because it has an external antenna connector. I also bought a 5db Antenna, but I’m not sure that’s actually getting me anything. Fifteen years ago I had a little magnet-mount 2.4ghz antenna specifically designed for WarDriving with an Orinoco card and I hope to find something like that. It was a great little antenna.

The Relay Card

The GPIO pins on the Pi can only handle a very tiny amount of current. It may be possible to set up the Pi in such a way that the relay card is necessary, but the card was only a few dollars and I can use the other relays for other things, like rolling down my windows or turning on my rear defrost.

In order to avoid the possibility of frying either the Pi or the Alarm brain, I got the relay card to isolate the two.

The card can be powered by the 5v line on the Pi 2. I’m not sure if I’d want to power all 4 relays simultaneously for an extended period of time, but for my purposes this is fine. One thing to note is that my card activates a relay if it is receiving a 0 on the GPIO line, not a 1. I had to compensate for that.

The Pi Software

I’m not going to lie: I totally followed this fabulous Instructable to get me to a point where I could hit a single page and activate a relay for 2 seconds. I didn’t do steps 5 or 6 because it wasn’t necessary for me.

Here is the entirety of the code that I wrote for this project:

system ( "gpio -g mode 4 out && gpio -g write 4 1");
system ( "gpio -g write 4 0");
sleep ( 1 );
system ( "gpio -g write 4 1");

That’s saved as RemoteStart.PHP. Hit http://your.pi.ip/RemoteStart.PHP and BOOM! Relay fires for 2 seconds:

Hard, eh?

The Android Software

I bought Tasker about a year ago because everyone says it’s awesome and I had $10 of Play credit to use. As part of this project, I also installed the AutoVoice plugin for Tasker, and then bought the unlock code because it was $1.34 and in order to use the 7 day trial version, the developer wanted me to sign up with an account on some gaming site. Eff that. Take my money.

Now, I thought that AutoVoice was to make this work with my Android Wear, but I was wrong. This is to make this work with regular Google Now.

The AutoVoice page on Play has a pretty good video tutorial so I’ll refer you to that for how to set up the AutoVoice portion.

For Tasker, you want to set up a Task and call it “Start the Jeep” or whatever. Add a “Net” action for “Browse URL” and put your URL in there. Hit the play button to test it: Your default browser should open and go to that page. If not, something’s not right.

On the Profiles tab, create a new Event Profile. Select Plugin->AutoVoice->Recognized. Do the Speak Filter thing they demonstrate in the video tutorial and say “Start the Jeep.”
The Enter Task dialog will pop up. Select the task you created.

NOW THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! You have to actually activate Tasker! I didn’t at first and was angry–AutoVoice was showing a popup (sprite) saying that it recognized my “Start the Jeep” command, but then it wasn’t doing anything! If you don’t have a lightning bolt icon in your system bar up top, Tasker is not active.

Test it out!

Putting it all together

So now that all the pieces and parts are working, we put it all together in Proof-of-Concept form:
Pi Remote Start

And everything should work…as long as you’re connected to your network.

Gotta love it.

Don’t you love how you have to spend the first part of the argument with a left winger arguing that yes, Obama and the Democratic party as a whole wish to ban guns.

I had a rather lengthy Facebook thread where that was the argument.

Active Shooter Near Me

Looks like someone decided that shooting folks at the movie theater is cool thing to do, and did so down the road from me.

This is still a “developing story.”  At this time, we’ve got cops surrounding the place, and there’s reports that the SWAT team is responding.

Here’s what we do know:

The shot(s) happened around 1:15.

The mall and ice rink next to it have also been lock down.

I can confirm that the theater has no nifty little “no guns” stickers on the doors that protect us all.

This happened in a neighborhood called Hickory Hollow… which is well known for gang activity and many stores have left because of the crime rate (the mall died once because of it, and reopened with a completely different name in hopes of avoiding the stigma of being in Hickory Hollow).

I do, indeed, live damned close (it’s the next freeway exit) to this shopping area, and actually used to live in easy walking distance to this theater.  There’s a very damned good reason why I will go out of my way to go somewhere else.

Based on what little we know, I’m thinking that this guy wasn’t looking to rack up the body count.  Middle of the day at a theater isn’t usually a “target rich” environment.  Given the nature of the area, I’m going to guess that this will turn out to be thug on thug violence.  Obviously I’ll be watching this one closely.

*update* Local news is reporting that the shooter is dead (probably shot by the cops).  The only other injuries that are being reported are 3 people that got pepper spray in the face and one person that had a cut on his arm (sounds like it was minor) from a hatchet that the shooter was also using.

*update 2 [wizardpc]*…Aaaaand the locals are now reporting he had an airsoft pistol and no real firearms.

Oh, this stupidity again.

A while back, I wrote about the stupidity of Metro Nashville’s opinion that they can still ban guns at concerts in parks because… uh… going to a concert isn’t recreation.

Well, the state Attorney General has put out and opinion that states that no, they can’t do that.

Nashville Metro’s Legal Director’s response?  “We’re going to continue to ban guns anyways.”

He even says that someone’s going to have to sue before the city considers changing it’s mind.

It’s only, you know, state law.  Nothing much.

…and the horse you rode in on

I know, I’m a couple days late on this one, but I’ve got to rant about it.  If you haven’t already heard, a couple who lost their daughter in the theater shooting in Aurora, Co decided to sue 4 websites that sold the killer ammo.  They lost… badly.  Not only did they lose, but they now owe over $200k in legal fees.  Oh, by the way, just to twist the knife, Lucky Gunner has decided to donate their portion of the money to a pro-gun org, to be chosen by vote here.

Now… would these grieving parents scuttle awaay and lick their wounds?  Of course not!   They’ve gone onto national TV to declare that the evil, horrible judge has probably forced them into bankruptcy!

To save you from watching the video in the link above (and if you’re like me, the shouting at the screen and possible blood spewing out your ears), let me address a few of the points.

Right of the bat, the judge didn’t put you into this situation.  They did.  This is the equivalent of suing the gas station that sold the gas in the car of a drunk driver that plowed into a school bus.  It was a stupid lawsuit, they, and the lawyers that represented them, should be ashamed of themselves.

They claim that the NRA paid for the lawyers for the defendants.  Really?  I haven’t done much research into it, but Lucky Gunner claims that they paid for their own damned lawyers, and I haven’t seen the NRA using that cost as a reason for me to give them more money.  Even if they did, so what?

The host mentions that the Brady Campaign “filed the suit on their behalf.”  Oh, so I guess it’s ok if the largest lobbying group in their field pays for the lawyers if it’s on their side?  Oh, also not mentioned is that both the wife and husband work for the Brady Bunch.  Of course, if the Brady folks were so righteous, they should be the ones picking up the bill, but that would rob them of another “victim of the evil gun lobby.”

They claim that this wasn’t about money, but an attempt to change the laws.  They… sued… private companies… to make new/change laws… what?!  I’m not a lawyer, but that’s not how this works!  That’s not how any of this works!

They claim that they would have more rights if a kid shot theirs in the eye with a bb gun.  Really?  Little Ralphie could sue Daisy for shooting his eye out?

I’m thinking that this was planned from the beginning.  If, by some insane chance, they won the case, hurrah! some evil ammo dealers hurt/out of business.  If they lost, well, claim it was the evil gun lobby that destroyed this couple’s finances.

To the couple, I must say “I’m sorry for the loss of your daughter, but… F you and the horse you rode in on.”

Well… I guess there is interest

Well, that’s at least the second person to ask me if there’s going to be a Bidet Shoot 3 this year, so… I guess I should try to figure something out.

Of course, it won’t be this month, since next weekend is the only weekend in June I’m not already doing something, and I’m not going to have time to plan anything anyways due to being a director of Hypericon (in… uh… two weeks?!).  Anyways, the folks that attended last year talked about wanting to maybe move it to the fall to try to avoid heatstroke.

Maybe September?

Also, the location for the first two shoots is great, but I would like something a bit closer to me.  Anyone know of a range that wouldn’t mind us taking over one Saturday in the Nashville area?