An almost ideal home/family defense weapon

For years, my recommendation for a basic, simple home and family defense firearm, for those who are not able or willing to undergo the training necessary to make best use of a different weapon, has been a 20ga. youth-model shotgun.  I discussed it in some depth in this article. However, a new arrival on the firearms scene has led me to update that recommendation.  Ruger introduced its PC9 carbine some months ago, and it’s been selling like hot cakes – so much so that it’s very difficult to get hold of one.  Most gunshops can’t keep them on the shelves. 

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The perils of cheap knives and swords

As part of writing the next Western novel in my Ames Archives series, I’m devoting a lot of attention to knives and their use in the Old West.  There were plenty of cheap ones, but also a surprising number of higher-quality, custom-made fighting blades.  I won’t spoil the book by revealing too much, but it will cover the subject in some depth. As part of it, I’ve been talking with Sven, the knifemaker who made a custom Damascus steel knife for Miss D. a couple of years ago.  He’s going to help me make a very authentic replica of a

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More 3D printed houses, with some unique designs

A project in the Netherlands is pioneering a new design of 3D “printed” house, using concrete “frothed” to the consistency of whipped cream.  It’s called Project Milestone.  You can read more about it at the link;  and here’s a video report. Looks interesting from the outside, but I hope the interiors would have more in the way of straight lines and squared-off corners . . . otherwise getting furniture to fit against the walls will be interesting, to put it mildly! Peter

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40 years of “standard architecture” personal computers

I hadn’t remembered the anniversary, but Extreme Tech reminds us that 40 years ago, the Intel 8086 chip came on to the market – and things have never been the same since then.  (Image below is courtesy of Wikipedia.) Forty years ago today, Intel launched the original 8086 microprocessor — the grandfather of every x86 CPU ever built, including the ones we use now. This, it must be noted, is more or less the opposite outcome of what everyone expected at the time, including Intel. . . . Initially, the 8086 was intended to be a stopgap product while Intel

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This sounds like a really useful invention

I’m sure many of my readers have endured, like me, many miles of driving along a highway reduced to one lane width – or even less – by traffic cones, deployed to keep highway workers safe.  Unfortunately, they may be working in only one spot, but several miles of road on either side of that place may be coned off, to allow them to move up and down the road.  There’s no other way to do it – or, at least, there hasn’t been, until now. Wheeled ‘Robo-cones’ that trundle off when no longer required to shorten roadworks for motorists

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The value of cash on hand is proved yet again

I’ve written before about the need to have a “cash stash” for emergencies.  As far as I’m concerned, that also means carrying with me enough cash for a day-to-day emergency like paying in cash for something I’m buying, in case the power goes out and card machines stop working.  I try to keep a couple of hundred dollars in my wallet, just in case. It looks as if that would come in very handy across Europe right now. Millions of people have been left unable to pay for goods and services in shops, petrol stations and railway stations across Britain

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Dusty!

Courtesy of The Aviationist, here’s an amazing video clip of a USAF C-5 Galaxy transport – the largest aircraft operated by that force – taking off from the just over 7,000 foot runway at Ilopango Airport in El Salvador.  For an aircraft that large, carrying an unknown cargo but clearly heavily laden, it’s quite an achievement. The wingspan of the C-5 is about 80 feet wider than the runway, hence the clouds of dust raised during the last part of the takeoff run, when the jet exhaust is angled down towards them. I’d call that dusty in anyone’s language! Peter

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Privacy? What privacy?

Yet again, we’re reminded that we live in a de facto surveillance state.  It’s just been privatized. The digital privacy world was rocked late Thursday evening when The New York Times reported on Securus, a prison telecom company that has a service enabling law enforcement officers to locate most American cell phones within seconds. The company does this via a basic Web interface leveraging a location API—creating a way to effectively access a massive real-time database of cell-site records. Securus’ location ability relies on other data brokers and location aggregators that obtain that information directly from mobile providers, usually for

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Catch-and-release drones?

I was interested to see this video clip about DARPA’s Gremlins program for air-deployable, reusable unmanned aerial vehicles.  The technology appears to be advancing by leaps and bounds. When you consider this in the light of “swarm” UAV technology, it looks even more interesting.  The day may not be too far away when almost all aerial activity over a heavily contested battlefield will be UAV’s, launched, recovered and supported from distant platforms, which may themselves be manned or unmanned. Peter

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