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Playing with the Hero3

Decided to tempt fate and try to get a shot of the surf overtaking my GoPro HD HERO3: Black Edition camera.
All went well and it didn’t get washed out to sea!

IOschedd 0.1.1

I’ve just released the first official version of IOschedd via PyPI.  From the Readme:

 

ioschedd allows a user to fine-tune their IO scheduler on a per-device basis without having to deal with writing crazy udev rules for all of your devices.

This is particularly handy in the following scenarios:

  • Your server boot of a slow on-board IDE drive, but stores all of its data on a fancy RAID controller. In this case, you likely want CFQ or deadline on hda, but noop on sd*
  • Perhaps your server is hosted somewhere out of your control and you don’t have access to change boot parameters (say, it’s netbooted by your provider) and you’d like to make sure your IO scheduler is changed before your application is launched

 

Devices can be specified by either devpath (/dev/sd*, etc) or by syspath (/sys/devices/pci0000:00/…).  Blacklists are also supported, allowing you to set one scheduler by default for a given pattern (let’s say /dev/sd*) but use the default for a given device(s) (blacklist: devpath=/dev/sdb).

The GitHub project includes an example config file and an upstart script.

 

There’s also a separate GitHub project for a chef cookbook to configure the service.

 

The recipes support storing device configurations in node[“ioschedd”][“devices”] blocks as well as node[‘ceph’][‘osd_devices’] which is where the ceph cookbooks store their OSD device configurations.

Assault Weapon Ban

Let me start with a bit of a bit about myself.  I’m a long-time gun owner (including multiple “assault weapons”).  I am not an NRA member.  I vote Democrat.  I do believe Americans have a constitutional right to protect themselves and that even in this day and age it is just as important as it was when the constitution was originally drafted.  I’m all for some kind of reform to prevent future tragedies, but it is always going to be hard for this country to come to an agreement when it is clear that those looking to impose new laws to “save the country” have no grasp of where the actual problems lie and have more interest in keeping up appearances than passing helpful legislation.  I oppose the idea of an assault weapon ban not because I feel the 2nd amendment doesn’t include some room for control, but because I oppose the idea of wasting this country’s resources creating and enforcing laws that are so deeply flawed and mis-guided as those that have been proposed to this day.

Now before I really get into things, let me start by addressing some of the common misconceptions that I find are being repeated most commonly.

  • “Civilians don’t need military weapons” and “Automatic weapons should be kept to the military”
    • True.  They also don’t have access to automatic weapons and haven’t since the 80s.  Semi-automatic weapons are fundamentally different from the weapons used by the military.  It’s true that they look nearly identical and in fact use many of the same parts (thanks largely to the economies of modern manufacturing, just like how a Nissan Sentra shares parts with a Infiniti even though they arguably serve different markets), but they function completely differently and the weapons available for civilian use would be all but useless for military purposes.  Ironically, the one exception to this is with the bolt-action rifle that does see heavy use by military snipers.
  • “Semi-automatic weapons can be easily converted to the fully-automatic weapons that they mimic”
    • False.  While it’s true that it’s technically possible, it requires parts that are heavily regulated as well as modifications to the firearm that if done wrong could result in catastrophic malfunctions.  None of the automatic weapons found on the street were created from semi-automatic weapons.  Rather, they’re generally smuggled military imports.

The problem as I see it is this:  banning assault weapons (by the current definition) will only make things worse.  I’m not saying that because I think it’s a scary world and people need “assault weapons” to defend themselves.  I’m saying it because by the legal definition, an “assault weapon” ban as it is written today only stands to punish good people without providing any tangible benefit to society.

So-called “assault weapons” are used by the people committing these tragic acts not because they’re more effective at this task than other firearms, but because they’re glamorous.  These people want to use what their favorite movie hero (or villain) used in the latest movie.  Let’s say that the assault weapon ban were to be re-instated tomorrow.  Because of the way the laws are written, people would be encouraged to modify their current weapons (which in CA and some other states are already limited to holding only 10 rounds, having fixed magazines, etc) to only slightly modified versions which strangely would then be legally able to hold as many as 30 or more rounds.  That’s because these laws, as written, only bar 30rd magazines from being bought/traded/sold or used with so-called “assault weapons”.  They’re still legal to own and to be used with any weapon not considered to be an “assault weapon”.  The proposed and past bans have clearly been written to appease peoples’ fears rather than protect society.  Now you see why gun people tend to rally against such laws.  It’s clear that they aren’t being put in place to make anybody safer and I’m willing to bet that if some actual common sense legislation were to be put forward then we’d see much less resistance.

Now, you may ask what, legally, is an “assault weapon”.  It’s almost certainly not what you think (and probably far more complicated than you would have suspected).  In fact, it’s *so* complicated that most police don’t know the rules, let alone your average gun owner.  In fact, if a person isn’t sure whether their rifle is legal, there is *nobody* they can contact to get a definitive answer from.  Not their local PD, not the ATF, not anybody.  To show just how complicated this process is, here is a flow chart that explains the process of determining what is and is not considered an assault weapon (by current CA laws, which largely mirror those of the original 1994 Federal ban): flowchart

 

Basically, it comes down to a few key parts:

  • The action (is it a semi-automatic?)
  • The ability to accept a detachable magazine.
  • The grip (does it have a pistol grip either in the front or the back or a thumbhole?).
  • Does it have a flash hider?
  • Does the stock collapse (even if it’s just an inch, if the stock moves it’ll cause you trouble)?
  • Does it have a grenade/flare launcher (probably the least of most peoples’ problems).

Aside from the first two points, you may notice that the rest of the list seems rather arbitrary.  It’s also full of things that the average person probably doesn’t know the first thing about.  Your average gun owner likely isn’t going to know the difference between a flash hider and a muzzle brake and that difference could land you in prison.  The definition of a “pistol grip” is also a gray area.  Now, does that grip make the gun more deadly?  Likely not.  How about the fact that the stock can grow or shrink by a couple of inches (which is often a feature added for proper fitment of the firearm more than anything else)?  Do you know how these particular features became the definition of a banned firearm?  They’re used in gun that look the most frightening to people so people feel safer when they hear that they can no longer be purchased.

Now you might say that nobody *needs* a gun that can fire a projectile with every pull of the trigger.  The problem is that’s a feature of nearly every type of gun sold these days.  Pistols?  Check.  Shotguns?  Not always, but often.  In fact, they’re quite popular in the ever-frightening sport of skeet shooting.  Rifles?  More than you may think.  You know what?  Even the old-school cops ‘n robbers revolver works that way.  I’ve never heard anyone suggesting that revolvers be banned.

I think it’s clear that something needs to change.  Unfortunately, that something is not what has been put forward to this day.  Maybe it’s more training for firearm owners (you already need to pass a basic safety exam to purchase a pistol, but no such test exists for other firearms).  Maybe it’s better mental health programs.  Heck, maybe it *is* some kind of control over what civilians can purchase.  However, the answer is clearly not the legislation that has been put forward.  Those laws only stand to put good people in jail for not understanding the confusing laws while criminals continue to either ignore them or keep using the remaining, more dangerous, firearms that are being ignored.  Remember, even *with* a firearm ban, there’s still a whole range of threats that need to be addressed.  In both the Oregon and Connecticut shootings, the weapons used were stolen.  It isn’t just civilian firearms that get stolen; police have firearms stolen each and every day.  Bombs are not difficult to make.  Heck, semi-automatic firearms aren’t difficult to make (these days even 3d printers are being used to make most of the necessary parts).  It’s clear to me that no matter what else is done, something has to happen to either address the societal problems that cause people to perpetrate these crimes or to protect this country’s citizens when something does happen.  So why the focus on such flawed, misguided legislation?  Fear, plain and simple.  So lets get our heads out of our collective asses and start some intelligent discussion about effectively address these issues that are plaguing us today.