Archive for the ‘Endorsements’ Category

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#15 in a series)

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

My “Secret Ops of the CIA” calendar arrived today. (Previously.)

The WP, for once, wasn’t wrong: it really is a beautiful piece of work, and I think it is worth every penny the creator is asking for it.

(My favorite entry? April. Because 1) my birth month, 2) Stingers, 3) Charlie Wilson.)

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#14 in a series)

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

EZ Frame Fixer
2308 E. Cesar Chavez #A
Austin, TX 78702
512-391-9900

For various and uninteresting reasons, I needed to do something about my prescription glasses. And I wanted to do something relatively cheap that didn’t involve new lenses, since I plan to go see my eye doctor in the near future and will probably wind up with a new prescription.

Lenscrafters doesn’t make the frame I need any longer, couldn’t repair the existing frame, and told me they couldn’t move the lenses to another frame since they were sized specifically for that frame. (I would have figured that frame sizes are pretty standard, but..)

They gave me EZ Frame Fixer’s number and suggested I give them a shot.

Thing #1: When I called and asked if they were open today, the guy who answered the phone said, “I can be.” It appears their “official” hours are Monday-Friday 10 AM to 5:30 PM, but the guy (“Christino”, I think, according to their business card) basically told me, “I live eight blocks away. Come on down, call me when you get there, and I’ll come over and open up.”

Thing #2: So I got down there, and he was already at the shop. Went in, laid the glasses on the counter, showed him what was wrong (the arm on one side had come detached from the hinge)…

Me: “The guys at Lenscrafters said you might be able to solder this, but the hinge may not fold any more. I’m okay with that…”

Him: “No, when I do a job, I do it right. (Emphasis added- DB) It’ll work.”

And it does. He fixed the glasses for me while I waited, charged only $30, and they work perfectly. You can’t even tell they’ve been repaired.

I suspect most people just throw away their broken frames. Why bother getting anything repaired any more, when you can just get cheap crap online and throw it away? But it is nice to find somebody who can do this kind of work if you need it, who will go out of the way to help you on the weekend, and has that old world sense of craftsmanship.

I don’t know what your other choices in Austin for eyeglass repair are, but if you need frames repaired, give EZ Frame Fixer a call.

The story you are about to hear is true.

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Today was pretty much a write-off. You know how it is, one of those days where you end up feeling you got nothing productive done, and all you can do is give up on the day and tell yourself you’ll do better tomorrow.

I was at loose ends for dinner, so I went down to the Mandola’s Italian Market in Bee Cave. (They have some good happy hour appetizer specials, and a soup I like. I wasn’t really that hungry, having had a bowl of noodles from DFG Noodles (one of the few bright spots in the day) for lunch, so I figured a cup of soup and some cheese would do me.)

Anyway, guy behind the counter asks me how my day’s been. It’s slow (this is before the dinner rush on a weekday) so I tell him what I just told you about the whole day being a write-off, etc. I pay, they bring my food out to me, I eat…

…and as i’m sitting there sipping my drink, the guy from behind the counter, Jonathan (not 100% on the spelling there) walks up to me, hands me a chocolate eclair, and says, “Here. This is on me. I hope it makes your day a little better.”

Which it did. What can you say to that except, “Thanks, Jonathan.”? Which I did say, just for the hysterical record.

I’ll also be emailing Mandola’s tomorrow morning, but I wanted to get this up tonight.

Art, damn it, art! watch (#52 in a series)

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

I am backing the Kickstarter for The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car.

Why?

1) He’s not asking for a (relative) lot of money, and the rewards tiers are reasonable. $10 for four bumper stickers? I don’t think you can get bumper stickers for that price at the gun show.

2) Brandon Bird, who I have written about before in this space, is the person behind it. I have faith in his ability to deliver.

Consider this an endorsement. Let’s make The Jerry Orbach Memorial Art Car a reality. You’ve probably blown $6 this week on a bad lunch: why not brown bag it one day and throw a few bucks to the memory of Jerry Orbach?

(Shame he lives in LA, though. There’s a pretty active art car scene in Houston, and he could get an old DPS car from the state surplus store.)

Edited to add: Mike the Musicologist made a good point to me: Orbach seems to mostly be remembered for his LawnOrder work, but he did a lot of stuff before that (as the true cognoscenti know).

On the one hand, I understand why Brandon Bird focuses on Lennie Briscoe (and I find his story about how Briscoe changed his life oddly touching). On the other hand, I agree with Mike too, and wanted to find something non-Lennie to throw in here: I just couldn’t find anything I liked.

Fortunately, Mike saved me the trouble.

(And I’d really like to see that production of “Chicago” with Orbach as Billy Flynn.)

Random notes, philosophical asides, bookmarks, endorsements, and other things.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Some things I think are interesting, some I want to bookmark, some I want to plug, something for everyone, a comedy tonight! I am going to try to put these in some kind of rough topic order…

“Introduction to GPU Password Cracking: Owning the LinkedIn Password Dump”.

I Sea, “a mobile app that claimed to help users locate refugees adrift at sea”, appears to be a complete fraud.

The developers swapped information, including screen shots of a static image and a weather tool that one person claimed was used to mislead users into thinking they were looking at live images of the sea. Others noted that the app had been coded to tell users that their login credentials were invalid.

Bonus: the NYT mentions my third favorite security blogger, @SwiftOnSecurity. (Sorry, SecuriTay, but I’ve had my photo taken with the Krebster, and I know Borepatch. Third is still good enough for a medal, if this was the Olympics.)

And it isn’t just that the coding is screwy: PopSci makes a pretty strong argument that what I Sea claims to do is physically and logistically impossible.

To provide images of 1 percent of the total area of the Mediterranean would run over $1 million. And that’s just for one set of still photos. If the app were to provide up-to-date imaging, as it claims, the images would need to be refreshed regularly, at $1 million each time. And that cost is for unprocessed data, Romeijn says. Processing will cost more, as will the licensing fees required to make those images available to the public.

And those satellites make one pass a day, so you’re not getting “real-time” imaging, no way, no how.

The Oakland PD mess, summarized. Yes, I’m linking to an anonymous person on Facebook, but much of the information in this summary has already been reported in the media: this is more of a handy round-up if you haven’t been following this mess from the start. (Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.)

And speaking of Popehat: the guys get shirts! Women, too. I just ordered mine: not only is $23 very reasonable for a shirt these days, and not only do I like Popehat, but I think Cotton Bureau does good stuff. (You may remember them from the BatLabels “Henchman” shirts, which are back in print! Hoorah!)

Flaming hyena #32: Democratic congressman Chaka Fattah.

In addition to racketeering conspiracy, Fattah was found guilty of bribery, bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, making false statements to a financial institution, and falsification of records.

A bunch of other folks took the fall with him, including Herbert Vederman:

Through cash payments to the congressman’s children, college tuition payments for his au pair and $18,000 given to help purchase a vacation home in the Poconos, prosecutors said, Vederman bought Fattah’s support in seeking appointment by the Obama White House to an ambassadorship.

(Hattip on this one to Mike the Musicologist.)

Prominent (well, in Chicago, anyway) Chicago journalist Neil Steinberg decides to pull the old “look how easy it is to buy an assault rifle” trick. So he goes to a gun store…

…and they deny his purchase because he’s a drunken wife-beater. (I have seen other versions of this story that state BATF first issued a “delay”, then a “deny” (BATF doesn’t have to give a reason for “deny”), Steinberg threatened to write that they were “denying” his purchase because he was a journalist, and the gun shop then decided to point out that he was a drunken wife-beater. However, this version seems to me to be to be the best sourced, and it doesn’t mention any BATF verdict.)

But at least he had the good taste to go with a Smith and Wesson M&P 15.

Just got paid today…

Friday, March 18th, 2016

…so I feel comfortable asking you to give money to a cause I believe is worthy. As I’ve stated before, my policy is: I don’t ask you to donate for things I haven’t donated to myself.

Short version: Alexis Nicole is eight years old, and a competitive shooter. Her grandfather was taking her for training last week when he was killed in a car accident.

Longer version of the story from Oleg Volk here.

YouCaring page for donations to help with medical and funeral expenses here.

Hattip on this to the great and good Erin Palette.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#13 in a series)

Sunday, March 13th, 2016

The Cotton Bureau is doing another run of HENCHMAN t-shirts.

You can also get HENCHWOMAN t-shirts as well.

And you can get them in youth sizes, and even in a onesie.

These shirts are brought to you by way of the Batman 66 Labels project, aka “my new favorite thing on the Internet ever“. How can you not buy a HENCHMAN t-shirt after seeing this?

Seriously, I own one of the shirts from the first run, and think it is a fine shirt. If you have children, you should purchase at least one for each of them. Orders are being taken through March 23rd.

(I’m not getting any kickback for this: I just really like my shirt, and Batman 66 Labels.)

After action report: Spokane, WA.

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

The Smith and Wesson Collector’s Association annual symposium was in Spokane this year.

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Like an oncoming train.

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Christmas is coming. But you don’t have a lot of time to shop and get physical objects delivered.

What to do? What. To. Do.

Well, if the object of gift giving has a Kindle or something like it, ebooks make fine gifts. And they can be delivered, even on Christmas morning.

I just finished, and enthusiastically recommend, Brian Krebs’ Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door. It isn’t quite the general book about spam I was expecting. His Krebsness is mostly writing about the Russian pharmacy spam gangs and their internecine warfare. There’s a lot of good stuff in Spam Nation; I’d recommend it for anyone in your life who has a interest in computers, computer security, or spam.

Another book that I really enjoyed this year is Amy Alkon’s Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, an etiquette guide for the modern age. Much of her advice is based on the latest developments in cognitive science, too, so it isn’t just a list of arbitrary rules. Also enthusiastically recommended, for just about everyone. (With the possible exception of very small children. But if you have a late pre-teen or teenager on your list, I think they could get a lot out of this.)

Annual reminder.

Monday, December 1st, 2014

This is your reminder that, if you use the Amazon link on the right-hand sidebar to do your holiday shopping, I get a small kickback.

Said small kickbacks keep this blog flush, and support my bad habit of purchasing firearms related books. (I am currently pinching pennies towards purchasing a copy of The Rifleman’s Rifle, which is apparently printed on the hide of baby unicorns or something equally expensive.)

Lawrence and Popehat are also deserving of your support, if you’d rather fling money at somebody else.

Speaking of Lawrence, this is also your annual reminder that books from Lame Excuse Books make swell presents for every major and minor holiday, especially if you have an SF fan in your life.

I heartily endorse this event or product. (#12 in a series)

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door, by Brian Krebs.

Blogger, with occasional Krebs.

Blogger, with occasional Krebs.

I actually haven’t read the book yet. (It is at the top of the pile.) But Krebs did a signing here in Austin last night, and he came across as a really nice affable guy. I didn’t get a chance to talk with him much: I’d estimate there were 150 people there for the signing, many of whom were purchasing multiple copies of the book, so time was limited. But he signed everyone’s book, and even posed for photos with those who wanted, and in general it was just a swell experience. Based on that, I have few qualms about recommending that you purchase the book.

Gratuitous gun porn (#3 in a series)

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Before last week, I had not purchased a gun since July of 2012*.

There are reasons for that. One was that I went through a period of unemployment, where I wasn’t purchasing anything but essential items.

A second reason is that it has been hard to find things I’ve been interested in purchasing. My local gun shops have had very few used guns that I was interested in; it seems that people are mostly holding on to guns rather than trading them in. When Mike the Musicologist and I went down to San Antonio, I did find a few interesting used guns, but either the prices were out of line (in my opinion) or (at Nagel‘s) I didn’t have the ready cash available to make the purchase.

When I decided I was going to the Smith and Wesson Collectors Association symposium in Columbus, I thought there was a good chance that I’d break the drought. I don’t buy guns just for the sake of buying guns, but I generally have a mental list of “grail” guns at any given time. The S&WCA annual meetings are a good place to find at least some of those guns, since many of my “grail” guns are Smiths.

I was lucky enough to find two guns that I fell in love with, both at the table of noted dealer David Carroll. I was even luckier in that they were within price ranges I felt I could afford, and that Mr. Carroll was willing to work with me on payment and shipping. (Mr. Carroll is a swell guy. Go buy things from him. Please.)

(As a side note, it isn’t as easy to buy guns over the Internet or out of state as lying liars who lie would have you believe. The S&WCA meeting was in Ohio. I live in Texas. As a non-resident of Ohio who doesn’t have any type of Federal Firearms License (FFL), I couldn’t legally buy a gun in the state. Private sale or dealer, it wouldn’t make any difference; I’d be breaking the law, as would the person who sold it to me. I had to have my dealer in Texas send Mr. Carroll (who is a licensed dealer) a copy of his FFL, Mr. Carroll had to ship the guns to my FFL dealer, and then I had to go to my dealer, fill out a BATFE Form 4473, and provide my Texas concealed carry permit to my FFL dealer before I could take possession of the guns. If I didn’t have a Texas concealed carry permit, I still could have gone through with the purchase, but my dealer would have had to phone in a NICS check. The only thing my Texas concealed carry permit gets me is bypassing the phone call, since I’ve already been through a background check.)

(If I had a limited collectors license, what BATFE calls a “Curios and Relics” (or “C&R”) license, I probably could have brought one of the guns home with me. The “C&R” license is less expensive and less invasive than a full FFL, but it limits you (generally) to guns more than 50 years old. So I still would have had to have the second gun shipped to my FFL, plus there’s the whole “traveling with a gun on an airline” thing, which is kind of complicated.)

(And I’ll admit, it gave me more than a little thrill when I went to my FFL to pick up the guns, and the guy behind the counter said, “Oh, yeah. I saw those earlier. Those are pretty.” They especially admired the one I’m about to write about.)

(I’m sure many of my readers already know these things. The above is for the benefit of new readers, and people who may not be aware of the process. Remember: lying liars who lie, will lie.)

After the jump, photos and words and things.

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