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Showing posts from May, 2016

firesteel rods

Firesteel is a great metaphor for for system clustering, HA and DR. Firesteel or "ferrocerium rod" is a metal rod with properties similar to flint and steel. The purpose is to make fire. These rods are used in two parts. The rod and the striker. The striker is very simple and can be similar to a tab of a poptop can or the spine of any knife (blade too but that's not a great idea even though the rod is a softer metal)

The metaphor...

Firesteel comes in a number of lengths and sizes. So the question is which size is the right size?

First of all the firesteel should be just one of the three combustion options you have in a true DR situation. A normal lighter, firesteel and magnifying lens are ideal. You should also know how to build a bow drill and a compression stick.

But choosing the right length, width, use-count, and packaging are all very important.

the longer and wider the rod the more it costs. You can pay $30 for a bare 6in long 1/2in wide rod.some smaller rods are c…

Solostove Campfire

This is what a suburban campfire looks like:

It's a Swedish Torch(right) that I re-purposed as an anvil to process three segments of birch(left). I processed the wood, started a fire in my solo campfire, ate some toasted marshmallows.

My solo stove looked like:

It's the largest of the solo stoves and is great for 5-7 participants.  SUCCESS!!

In the meantime I learned a few things:

even though I made Vaseline and Cotton ball tinder I did not use it and I think I won't. Alternatively having unmodified cotton balls might have multiple purposes and separately hand sanitizer too.skinning the bark from the birch logs and then igniting them directly with my steel worked perfectly. I had to remember to peel the coating from the rod and it still took a few strokes.I had a made a featherstick just to test my Mora knife but it was ideal for getting the fire started.At first my Mora hand ax seemed lite to the task but after getting into my rythm and some confidence it worked really wel…

axes, saws, and knives; oh my!

I got it wrong ... in fact I have no idea what right is. I thought:
with a saw that I would not need an axwith a longer/heavy duty blade I would not need an ax because I could baton and scrape and so my kit started looking heavy duty and frankly I went overboard. I got an ax anywaya bowie7in full tang4.5in full tangfolding knife as an EDC ** full tang and non-folding were all part of the initial driver
I started testing this set but processing some very soft and dry wood. Except where the branches once were the wood was ultra soft, the bark flew off in every direction, and because I did not have a processing anvil I could not really swing any of the implements without being concerned about hitting the concrete below.
And now I encountered a second stream of advice: no coatings on the bladeno batononly scandi grindscandi grind on the axfull tang not necessarymaking feather sticks with a scandi grind axlight weight and strong And so my thoughts and emotions started to swing the other way. …

waterproof folding daypacks

I do not have a need for a new backpack or a daypack for that matter. During my last trip I decided that I needed a drybag so that I could carry my pool stuff without having to lock it up and so I have a 30L version from Earth Pak. This is a very rugged drybag with a single compartment and a folding locking system. The technology has been around long enough.

[a] there are a number of manufacturers that I like, zpack, sea to summit, earth pak. [b] their configuration and key features and sizes vary widely [c] in general there have been some reasonable and many unreasonable complaints.

Here's the way I analyzed the desired features:

one main compartmentmany colored stuff sacksside pocket on one side for water bottleside pocket on the other side for immediate access stuffcordage web on the back for a tarp or poncho carry or maybe some wood picked up along the waya belt type strap to carry a bowie or axsome other strapping system to compress the bag to prevent shiftingshoulder, waist a…

system interop is broken...

System interoperability is broken and frankly I'm tired of it. Today I had the misfortune of getting stuck in the insurance card hell when I brought my daughter to the doctor and then to the pharmacy. It just delayed the process. So if we cannot agree to use our SSN universally then a single payer might be the best idea. At the very least a single clearing house for funneling transactions might be ideal.
And then there is the Apple, Microsoft, Linux and Google war. Get over it guys. We are now in the age where people are adopting a UI based on human factors.  That a MOV file does not play on one browser or video player is long passed acceptable shelf life. My wife messaged me a video which I could not open. So she emailed it to me. And then I tried to open it with multiple video players until I found one that worked. The problem is that the big boys have such inflated egos about their tech that they want to use it a way to capture the market. Well, FUCK YOU! I need to pick up a bo…

Going for a walk

SCENARIO:  I'm glamping and I've decided to take my 6 year old daughter for short hike.  Let's say one hour out. (let's be perfectly clear; I'm not going to participate myself or take my family on a survivor or survival hike, day, weekend or training. I'm leaving that for the professionals, nuts, and minutes before the zombie-nado arrives)

This is how I would prepare for a walk:

drinking water (1 day per person)cooking waterprecooked noodles, butter, parm cheesedehydrated meal of some kind that I can reuse the cooking water forpistachios and other trail nuts and raisinsgranola barssolo stove and pot, utensils, cupslightweight tarpemergency ponchos and/or blanketcordagebowie knife and pocket knifeswedish fire steel, fatwood (egg carton, lint, cotton, wax)compassfirst aid kit, cellphone with full charge, emergency radio, emergency beacontoilet paper or moist wipes.favorite stuffed animalyour notes: 5 C's, rule of 3's Since we are two people, even though sh…

Artificial Intelligence - Microsoft Meltdown

Journeyman Pictures posted a vlog post on youtube and described a problem with Microsoft's Tay. Apparently Twiter trolls managed to turn the AI into a bad actor; and as a result M.S. killed the project. Comments offered by Alistair Charlton are extremely naive and show only his ignorance on the subject and while the comments might have appears useful to the producers of the post it almost instantly discredits a field in computer science. And frankly shares the sh*t out of me.

As a result of the AI programming the AI took on pro Nazi sentiment, however, from the AI's point of view there is nothing that says Nazism is good or bad. It simply took a position on a subject that it was convinced was inline with it's learning. Almost the same can be said of Germany in WWII. Many Germans thought they were doing the right thing to a point and without all the information we have now. And so the same can be said of the AI.

Morality and the sense of right and wrong are still human trai…

Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett

I've been watching a lot of bushcraft videos and sometimes I venture into the survival and prepper caps (no pun intended). But recently I watched some highlights from the History Channel show Alone. Joe Robinet "tapped out" as he put it. I happen to like his channel, presentation, and production values. I think I have a lot to learn just to make an effective fire for my Indian Princess group.

I feel bad for Joe. I have every intention to go back and watch the season so I can see for myself what happened. The clips I saw suggested that maybe the producers selected some odd characters for rating instead of guys with the right stuff. I would have bet money that Joe would have made it.

I can only imagine that this was meant to simulate a survival scenario instead of existence or subsistence. I look back on the many Alaska living shows and these people did more with less. The contestants were allowed to take 10 things. Once you get past the 5, 7, or 10 C's you have some h…

more survival in code

I was listening to a survival instructor; granted I only managed to listen for a short while before my mind started wandering, however, just a few minutes ago I made a realization. Some of the lessons applied elsewhere. It boiled down to:
know how to fabricate and repair basic steel toolsKnow wood and treesset traps, don't huntuse steel traps so they lastknow how to farm This is an amazing metaphor for software development and probably for anything we want to do.

survivalistpathfinderprepperbushcraftergator bait More NOTES: pick up firewood as you go

Do not bring Melaleuca trees

I'm not sure if Melaleuca is actually a plant or a tree however the State of Florida has said that they are not native to the State of Florida and that they are invasive and that there is a medication program in place. Recently a Bushcraft individual indicated that there were oils in the melaleuca tree that made it great as a source of Tinder fuel. Since I know that Melaleuca is sensitive in the state of Florida I decided to contact the Department of Wildlife. The response I received indicated that harvesting and burning and all manner of interaction with Melaleuca was illegal. The the idea of stopping by a Melaleuca growth whether it was standing dead or not was irrelevant. Just leave it alone

Bushcraft approach to software development

I'm not going to draw exact analogies and in some cases not at all. I think they are pretty self evident.

keep a positive mental attitude - Larry Wall might have called this Hubris. It's the mental state needed to solve the problem to the point where there is satisfaction and the desire to move on.

reserve instead of preserve - there is something to be learned from the past, however, trying to preserve the past has proven historically costly and impossible. for example; the ten commandments, the dead sea scrolls, cave drawings, the library at Alexandria, git, svn, hg, cvs, vcs, sourcesafe, fossil and so on. Keep what you need in reserve in a way that is effortless.

cutting - in the bush having something to cut with is essential. The act of cutting can sometimes be a one-way trip. Consider deleting or renaming a file in production and what effect it might have. cutting reminds us to measure twice and cut once. You might be able to cut and tie that cordage back together, however, i…

Before the 5 C's

In the book Bushcraft 101 the author talks about the 5 C's. Many other authors Bushcraft experts and survivalists expand on the 5 C's to almost no end. In a recent blog post from a fellow who is a 50 + leer camper and Outdoorsman he said the first thing to have is a positive mental attitude. And then he goes on to talk about the 5 C's. While I am not a survivalist or a Bushmaster and still seems to me that Common Sense suggests that went in the bush one needs to Reserve instead of preserve. For example you need to reserve some water you need to reserve some flint and steel of all of the things that you take with you into the bush when you exit if you have nothing left in your pack or your hands then so be it. Whether you carry a $20 knife or a $500 knife if you're a survivalist you should expect that when you leave the bush you may not come out with it.

my EDC

Now that I have created a camping label... When I used to go to an office (meaning I wore pants) my every day carry was a Victorinox pen knife(thanks to my step father). Just a few years ago they added tweezers and toothpick. Recently I bought myself 2. One for my dop kit and one in my office for every day. I also bought one for my step-father as he had lost his a few years ago. It's still a great knife.


When it comes to survival there are two kinds. [a] where you want to survive long enough to be found, rescued, or walk out on your own. [b] avoid detection and capture as in special forces, rangers etc. When I think about survival I think about the former.

So the question on inquiring minds... why is so much gear setup for the later. If I'm trying to affect rescue I need reflective colors not camo. If I drop my gear in the dark I need to see it. If there is hunter near by I want him to see me and not shoot in my camp's direction. Even hunters wear reflective vests with their camo jackets jumpers.

Branding Bear Grylls

I cannot blame Grylls for trying to make a living selling his brand and experience. For the most part is gear looks pretty reasonable although I'm surprised that there is so much overlap in may of the products. Frankly I would have had more respect for the products if he were more opinionated after all it's his experience we are paying for. (not accounting for upgrades over time).

And then there is knowing your audience. I was thinking about the type of survival I might need. Over the years there have been tornadoes and hurricanes. Either you run away or hunker down. After the storm has passed you must immediately account for family and friends. If you're lucky you might a roof, power, and water. After the last hurricane we had power but no water. After hurricane Andrew people had to start thinking in terms of the five C's. However, since this was the suburbs real survival craft was not necessary. In fact the people who will need to live off the land already know how a…

the real survivor

The three legged stool of business economics are something like [1] know your product [2] know your customer [3] know where the money is coming from. But there is also a silent fourth rule. Know your exit strategy or how to scale. If you know how to scale the business then you might have the next good and if not then just cash out and let someone else scale it. Most success stories result in one or two major successes and then a multitude of small ones. l refer to Shark Tank and The Profit.
Hidden in there are a few technical details that are typically missed by founders and technical leaders. Certainly if you are building a compression algorithm, an electronic trading system, autonomous vehicle or ABS braking system, fly by wire; then writing your project in machine code, assembler or some variation of C or Ada then that makes the most sense. Compute cycles matter as long as you can count them.

But if you are building a business application like an accounting system, reporting, CRM, …

A message to my children

When I was your age I had no idea what I was going to do for a living. I never understood what it was my father of or other family members actually did and what a day was comprised of. As a result it took until age 21 and 3 years of community college to finally find direction. Although I had been programming all manner of computer systems from age 13 it still did not feel like a profession. The future of software development and the professional programmer is in question. Even today the 'haves' are starting to stratify. The top 30% of elite programmers are now the top 5% and it's getting smaller. Programming has again become a service or labor industry. Breaking into a real startup requires more than skills. It requires luck and networking. So my advice is this. If you have an aptitude for programming then treat it as a hobby or recreation. There is nothing wrong with trying to become good at it just don't spend all your time on it. Find another major that would benefi…

12,000 strikes

I just watched a video about starting fires and the presenter took general exception to the companies that produce firesteel products claiming 12,000 strikes; and preferring companies that describe their product as having 1500 or 3000 strikes. His hypothesis is that the 12K devices implemented with harder components and claims that a "strike" does not necessarily include a usable spark. And somehow the "3000 strike" model uses a different definition of the term "strike".

I have no idea which is better and if it really matters. While I plan to ignite my next fire with some sort of fatwood and firesteel it's not going to be primary ignition source. It is an emergency backup as when all else fails. And so even 1500 strikes, if a strike includes a usable spark, is essentially 18 months of lighting 3 fires a day. Assuming the worst possible living conditions in modern america I do not see that as necessary. There is nothing wrong with training but put into…

Buggin' Out

As I continue to watch some of these videos I cannot but wonder how these people go this way. Bugging out probably means different things to different people. In my mind it means the world has gone to shit and you gotta get to safety. Bugging out implies end of the world scenarios. But come on, how many times has that happened?
Just left of center is survival and just right of center id bushcraft. And to the right of all that is camping.
In my mind "survival" means that something short of the end of days... maybe your car breaks down in the desert, on a less traveled road, and your cell is not working. The same could be said for stranded in the mountains in a white-out or your car breaks down. Your survival shills are going to let you do more with a lot less to survive.
Bushcraft is the skills you need to life off the land for a slightly extended time. Of course, bushcraft can turn into survival if you make some poor decisions or mother nature decides to act out.
In none of …

Airbag safety

Now that we are looking at over 30 million airbag recalls it's time to consider whether or not airbags actually save lives. Since testing airbags is it possible without destroying the device the efficacy of any airbag is dependent on the statistical model which currently suggests that there are over thirty million defective bags. This means that you're more likely to be injured in an airbag assisted Collision then if you just had the accident.

the right 4-person tent is hard to find

I'm looking for a 4-person tent to replace my 8-person tent.  The 8P tent is nice but big and a challenge to deploy especially since it's usually just the two of us (daughter and myself). Next year it will be 3P and anytime it could be 4P is my wife and other daughter join in.

I've seen a few tents that I really like.

The hammock tents are the most interesting. They look like they would be really comfortable but The places we've visited this year do not have sufficient tree stands.

The Scorpion-3 looks nice. I like the deploy process although the weather has never been that bad that an outside-in deploy was advantageous.

The Cave looks like an interesting tent except that it required 5 extended poles but it is the complete deal and ... expensive ... and not available in the usual channels.

The Cinche 4P- even though it pops up and deploys quite quickly there are nearly 10 tie-downs per side and the 2 entries use aluminum poles. Also not available in the usual channels.