Monday, May 27, 2019

Monday, May 6, 2019

On Removing The Conspiracy Theorists from Facebook (And other Sites)

The power being wielded against Jones et. al., is disturbing, not because of whom it is being wielded against, but rather that it is being wielded at all. The power to remove conspiracy theorists and bigots is also the power to remove those who hold reasonable or non-objectionable views.
I found it interesting that, when GoDaddy moved against The Daily Stormer, the CEO wasn't sure that anyone should have the power that he was wielding, yet he still wielded it to remove the website from the internet.
Conspiracy theorists and bigots are the canaries in the coal mine of free speech. When you take them out, you've established precedent that people with objectionable views can be acted against. And then, inevitably, the goalposts WILL move. Many of those supporting this think that they'll control, or benefit from the those moving goalposts, but they forget one major truth: The Mensheviks WILL be purged.

Today we live in a world where private, non-governmental entities have more capacity for censorship than most governments - and no real legal limits on that capacity. Per

Monday, February 25, 2019

Using the RFguys Motorola Prorib

If you've got an RFguys Prorib, and are using it on a regular serial port, you're probably not going to notice any issues. If, on the other hand, you're using it with a USB serial adapter, you might wish to solder a jumper from pin 5 to the metal shield on the DB-9 connector.
The Prorib doesn't have a manual on/off switch - it relies entirely upon it's auto-on circuit for that. Without a good ground, the auto-on doesn't work. And the ground pin - pin 5 - doesn't always provide a reliable ground, depending on the USB serial adapter. On the other hand, the connector shield DOES provide a good ground, so running a jumper will allow the Prorib to work properly.

Or you could buy one of the various Motorola RIB knockoffs that cost $20-$30 depending on circumstances and seller.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Confronting China

I started reading an article on the new policy of confronting China, when I came across a quote that, quite frankly, struck me as hilariously naive.

“Should we simply let ourselves fall into the Thucydides trap?” asked J. Stapleton Roy, a retired U.S. diplomat who was ambassador to China from 1991 to 1995. “Or is it possible that with skillful diplomacy, China could be stronger and more prosperous in 2025 and not a strategic threat to the United States?”

The short answer to the first question is "It depends." The short answer to the second question is "absolutely not."
There is no scenario where a People's Republic of China stronger and more prosperous than the US is not a strategic threat to the US. It's possible that we might avoid the Thucydides trap, but if we do, it'll be because something other than war caused China to stagnate or even lose power. The Republic of China wouldn't be that sort of threat, but there's nothing short of war that'll leave us with ROC control of the mainland. Assuming that the ROC even WANTS control.

The nation that cracks down on Tibetans, builds concentration camps for Uighurs, persecutes religions, and even squashed the completely inoffensive Falun Gong movement (c'mon, they're basically Yoga practitioners) with awful brutality isn't going to play nice on the national stage. They have territorial disputes with pretty much every regional power within their sphere of influence, and blatantly violate international law and the law of the sea in trying to enforce their territorial claims. This is not a country that is just going to rise into power without abusing it in ways that impinge in the strategic security of the US, or, for that matter, pretty much anyone else. This is a country determined to become top dog, by any means fair or foul, and which intends to use that position for it's own gain, to everyone else's detriment.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Using the Windows software for the Midland XTR and SynTech II radios

When programming the Midland XTR and SynTech II radios, you've got two software options, one DOS based, the other Windows based. Obviously there's not built in support for DOS software in modern versions of Windows. Now, for some old radios, DOS software is your only option, but that's not the case with the old Midland XTR and SynTech II lines. It took me a little experimenting, but I found a procedure and setup that works. In the interests of saving everyone some time, I've provided it below:
1. Download and run Msvbvm50.exe. This installs the Microsoft Visual Basic 5 Runtime, which is a hard dependency for this software. It will not run without this installed.
2. Right click on setup.exe and select "Properties"

3. Select the Compatibility tab.

4.Set it to run Program in compatibility mode for Windows NT and to run as Administrator.

5. Click "Apply".
6. Run the setup.exe file and follow the prompt.
7. Plug your USB serial adapter in (assuming you don't have a built in 9 pin serial port)  and open "Device Manager" from the Control panel.
8. Expand "Ports (COM & LPT)" and right click on (what should be) your only COM port.

9. Go to the "Port Settings" tab and fill out the settings as follows:
Bits Per Second: 9600 bps
Data Bits: 8
Parity: None
Stop Bits: 1
Flow Control: Hardware

10. Click on "Advanced" and change settings as applicable;
Use FIFO Buffers is checked
Both Buffers are set as low as possible.
Make sure to remember the COM Port number, since you'll need to enter it into the programming software.
 11. Run the programming software and click on "Options"

12. Select the correct COM port, as applicable.
You're done! That should save everyone a little bit of time.