Better safe than sorry
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Barron’s safe failed to open. This is his story on what it took to get it fixed.

A fascinating read, especially on how long it took to get it open when the locksmith was pretty knowledgeable about where to drill. It also serves as a reminder that no safe will keep out a determined person, but it will just slow them down considerably. Some safes are better at this than others to be sure.

It’s also interesting to see how flaws creep up in even costly models. One would think for $5,000 that this safe would be absolutely perfect, but Barron points out several issue he spotted, such as a break in the fireboard and as well as a few other points.

It seems like a normal dial is the best as far as reliable security, however in my opinion you should never keep anything behind one that might be necessary to reach in an emergency. Electronic locks fail faster & more often than mechanical and I’d worry about them failing at the worst time possible. Adding in a keyed lock to override it seems like a decent enough compromise, but keys have issues as well.

All in all, it was a fascinating read & makes me realize I really need to invest in a quality safe some day. What I have now will keep out smash & grab and younger kids, but any crook with a bit of determination and a decent crowbar would probably get in before I could get home.

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/21/2014 10:39:28 AM | Feedback (1)
When seconds count

You might have to wait longer than 15 minutes for the cops to show. Unfortunately, you might not have 15 minutes

DENVER (AP) — Authorities are investigating whether Denver police responded quickly enough to a woman who was fatally shot nearly 15 minutes into a 911 call about her husband, who she said was hallucinating and asking her to shoot him.

According to court documents, a detective who listened to the 911 call said he could hear her scream and then a gunshot.

This isn’t a “If she only had a gun!” moment because apparently there WAS a gun in the household and for whatever reason, she didn’t have control of it. It’s simply to point out that cops do not have teleporters and cannot necessarily come to your rescue as fast as you need them to.

You need to be your own first responder.

However, anyone who says you don’t need a gun because there are cops? I have a rather large amount of derision for them.

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/16/2014 4:11:38 PM | Feedback (13)
You keep using that word.

I do not think it means what you think it means

Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association.

Emphasis mine.

I’m cool with Bloomie wasting his money, which is exactly what this will do. However, the hilarity is that he thinks he can buy and build grassroots. This is like trying to use GMOs & Pesticides to create the perfect organic produce.

Spend your money, Mikey. It’ll be $50,000,000 out of your pocket and you’ll see what real grass roots look like when we gun owners (not the NRA) make you realize what a crappy investment it was.

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/16/2014 8:56:20 AM | Feedback (6)
A great list of gun blogs

Ken Blanchard has a good list of gun blogs up. I remember when I started really considering myself a ‘gun blogger’, there really weren’t that many of us around. Now? My traffic is way down because there’s a plethora of great bloggers talking about every facet of guns & gun ownership.

And that’s simply awesome.

You see, there’s no competition on my part for eyeballs. I’m so glad you’re here, reading me, and I appreciate all my visitors. But if another blogger can get people to understand and appreciate the liberty that comes with gun ownership, then I’m just as happy that they have readers too, even if it detracts from my pool.

This blog costs me money out of my own pocket. Sure, I have the GunUp ads, and that puts a few pennies in my pocket each day, but that’s really just an offset. I still pay a laaaaaarge wad of cash each month for ‘hosting fees’ - aka a fixed IP at home with Fios and the costs to run the server. But it’s fine with me. I actually get a lot of enjoyment out of it, and that’s what matters.

So, thanks for your readership, but go check out Ken’s list, and find a blog or two that you’re not reading and put them into your feed!

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/16/2014 8:48:05 AM | Feedback (2)
Odds & Evens

Ok, this is something I read about and decided to give it a quick try, and it’s a *really* neat thing to do in music.

Take a quick listen to this clip. It’s not long, and it’s not mixed or even well thought out, it’s just something I wanted to see if I could pull off. Listen to it first, then continue reading. See if you can figure out the interesting pattern I used.

The bass line is in 5/4 time, while everything else is in 4/4. This creates a longer stretch where you can repeat a phrase while maintaining musical interest over the repetition. Since it takes 5 full measures to repeat, it doesn’t get as stale as fast.

Pretty neat trick, and I of course need to work on actually making something a bit more melodically interesting with it, but it’s neat to see that actually work.

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/15/2014 10:20:19 AM | Feedback (4)
Initial test babble seemed good

So I did a brief test this morning on my driving podcast thing, and ignoring the complete lack of content and incoherent babbling, I think the sound worked fine. I used the internal low-cut filter, cutting off everything below 80Hz, and that really seemed to help remove the deep rumble of the road noise.

I didn’t speak from notes… and it showed. In fact, it’s a bit difficult to talk & drive at the same at least in a format conducive to a podcast. Hence why I’m not putting up a sample right now. In trying to talk off the top of my head, I actually contradicted myself in the first sentence and didn’t catch my verbal miscue until I listened to it again. These things go away with a sticky note with 3 or 4 points on it.

So, this should work. So long as I have something to talk about and notes ahead of time to keep me on topic.

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/15/2014 9:07:15 AM | Feedback (2)
Follow the sound of my sultry voice?

So I did a test this AM – I grabbed the Zoom H4N, stuck it in my cup holder, and blabbered on for a few minutes to see if I could do a short ‘podcast’ while I drove into work.

Results? Passable. You have to listen to road noise, traffic, me slurping my coffee, as well as turn by turn commentary on pedestrians, which may or may not add to the ambience, but all in all I think that I might have a good platform for doing 20 minute or less ‘morning rants’ from time to time.

Would you be interested in hearing those?

Topics would range from gun stuff to politics, to random things that tickle my fancy. My voice, according to the insides of my head, is a booming, “Movie Trailer” type sound. According to an external mike, it’s a nasally, goofy timbre suitable for silent films. So you’ll have to deal with that. Plus, if I don’t have good notes, I’ll babble.

Anyway, I rarely listen to podcasts because they tend to be too damned long, something like this might be 5 minutes, might be 20 minutes, which should be a little less annoying (minus the fact my voice is annoying).

Thoughts?

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/14/2014 11:00:02 AM | Feedback (12)
The ever persistent, low level noises of life

Today I broke down and purchased a Zoom H4N for many reasons.

  • I needed to record my acoustic guitar from time to time, and needed a decent way to do it.
  • I need to record small sounds for use in my songs. For example, I have this one song that has sounds of kids playing on the playground – it’s a sound I found online, thus who knows what kind of rights issues I’d have.
  • Sometimes, I need a really fast way to just ‘jot down’ a musical idea I have in my head. I can’t sing worth a damn, but I can hum.
  • Life is full of interesting sounds that, with a little tweaking, can become interesting timbres to be used in music.

I wanted something that could do good stereo and was also fairly accurate insofar as mikes went, and the H4N and it’s older sibling the H2 get great reviews. There are reports on minor noise levels, but from my understanding, you gotta be a real pro to catch them, and it’s well outside my ability (or budget) to really be able to do much about that anyway.

I got it home and played around with it and was instantly impressed. There’s actually more features inside than I’m ever going to use (I seriously doubt I’ll be mixing tracks on it), but it’s really well made and the sound is fantastic.

‘Cept this hum.

In the kitchen, it was high pitched. In the office, it was higher still. Outside was a low rumbling sound. Even in the farthest bedroom in the house with the door shut, it was a hiss.

For a bit, I was thinking the noise floor was higher than reported. I could adjust the sensitivity of the mikes down but then I was having to push the gain to hear things and thus was ending up simply compressing the noise. Noise gates made the recordings choppy. I started to think “Did I just waste a bunch of cash?”

Turns out, I didn’t at all.

In the kitchen, it was picking up my wife’s hairdryer halfway across the house. The office has 2 PC’s running and it heard the fans. The room had the AC running through the vent and outside, even though I’m a mile and a half away from it, the freeway emits a constant rumble. These are sounds I don’t hear because I hear them all the time, constantly. My brain has ‘tuned them out’ and now I suffer from ‘audiosis’ – I only notice the sounds when they’re gone.

The recorder has no such filter. It records exactly what it hears with an amazing fidelity. In fact, I was trying to get some cricket chirping tonight, and it kept picking up the mosquitoes buzzing by (100x as annoying when it’s amplified in your headphones, trust me). However, beyond the crickets was the sound of cars driving on the highway, or the AC units of the neighborhood whirring. We’re surrounded by constant noise that we just filter our mentally.

There are tools that will help remove those sounds, like RX 3 from iZotope, and that’s something I can think of when I’ve got a record label or something. Until then, I’ll just need to do my best by lowering the sensitivity of the mikes and choosing the quietest places to record.

Just an interesting observation.

UpdateHere’s an MP3 that illustrates the sound in my office when I record. The first speaking is straight out of the H4N, the second is using noise reduction. It does an okay job, however it sounds like there are ‘compression errors’ like you heard in old Real Audio clips.

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/12/2014 10:44:04 PM | Feedback (8)