Sunday, September 30, 2012

The struggle for privacy

The news is awash right now with stories of hackers, identity theft and state sponsored electronic snooping. Thought this might be a good time to address some of these issues. First off, I am not an IT professional.....I am a hobbyist; that being said, I would like to offer the following suggestions for those that value their privacy. Also, these are intended as a workable solution and not a purist solution. What I mean by that is, the purist solution requires a high degree of lifestyle change and discipline that most people are going to end up procrastinating on, thus rendering them less than useful.

1) Switch to a hardened browser such as Comodo's Dragon, as most exploits are browser based. Also make sure your firewall settings are elevated.

2) Stop using Google/Yahoo/Bing for searches. Instead use an encrypted, non-logging search engine like Startpage or DuckDuckGo.

3) Use a VPN service. Make sure it utilizes Openvpn encryption standards and has no logging. I know Witopia and Camo List meet these requirements.

4) Keep any personal or important data on a separate drive inside a TrueCrypt volume.

5) Setup an email client like Thunderbird with the Enigmail encryption plugin. Once set up, this will allow you to send highly secure emails to people you choose to share your key with.

6) Use Pidgin with OTR for secure instant messaging. (Adium if you are on a Mac).

7) Use a reputable antivirus suite. I am partial to the sandboxing ability of Comodo and Avast.

8) Download and burn a Linux Live Disk (Ubuntu or Mint are a good place to start). This gives you a non-persistent OS that you can use almost anywhere.

9) Turn off your Bluetooth. Turn off your Bluetooth. Turn off your Bluetooth.

10) Park a piece of black tape over your webcam.

11) Get a security based USB system such as Tails or Liberte. You can boot into them on most computers and they provide some of the most robust security practices available.

12) The strongest encryption in the world is only as strong as your password. You must include symbols, numbers and a mix of upper and lower case letters. And do not use any words that can be found in a dictionary.

These are all easily implemented solutions that will keep you from being the "low hanging fruit" out in cyber land. I would also recommend that you look into switching your operating system from Windows or Mac to a Linux based solution. Most malware is written for the two big operating systems and simply will not work in a linux environment. Linux generally employs better security practices out of the box and being open source, it is much more difficult for state entities to have implemented hidden "backdoors" as they reportedly have in Microsoft and Apple products.

Here are some links to the software listed above:

Dragon Browser



Witopia VPN



Ubuntu linux    Mint

Pidgin Messenger    OTR plugin for Pidgin windows version

Comodo antivirus     Avast antivirus

Tails     Liberte linux

If you have questions about downloading or installing, hit me up in the comments and I will try to help.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Promising concept

Trijicon SRS Reflex battle sight

Would like to get my hands on one of these for some testing. I love the concept.....AA battery (easy availability), runs off of built in solar panel while exposed to light - switches to battery when in darkness and huge field of view. Has a 1.75 MOA dot instead of that 4 MOA monster that Aimpoint employs. I still prefer the "dot in a donut" reticle that EOTech, Vortex and Bushnell employ, but a small dot is better than a big one in my book.  I would expect it has the same build quality that Trijicon has demonstrated with the ACOG over the years.

Could be a good thing to have when electricity starts to become an issue.

Specs are listed HERE

Individual fitness levels and the team dynamic

I have spoken on here before regarding the importance of parity amongst team members, usually in regard to weapons handling and other hard skill sets. I want to address another aspect of this today, namely - fitness levels.

A couple other blogs have pointed out an article from a Denver CBS affiliate regarding the fitness standards, or lack thereof, within the Denver swat team. I think it is important to note that the fitness standards listed are not that difficult in the least.....especially when you consider that this is the department's "elite" tactical team.

This brings me to the point - if you are part of any kind of tactical team, standards must be established and adhered to. Your slow, out of shape team mate will get the both of you killed.

Get your people up to standard, or get them out of the field. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Don't be the last optimist

"When it all crashes down they'll scatter like rodents fleeing a dockside fire, enraged and demanding as only the formerly entitled can be. Life long leeches deprived of a patsy to supply their wants and nurse their delusions will be desperation itself, worse, to their mind an unsatiated want is an injustice, and injustice warrants revenge. You'll do. As looters go, this is the crowd to stay furthest from. Their onboard options are not extensive. They're opportunists, not planners. They self-sort-of-organize, act and disperse, then often as not attack each other."

Must read article from Remus HERE

Latest training fun...

Put on your armor/plate carrier and 6-8 full mags.

1) Perform 20 pushups
2) 60 seconds heavy bag
3) 10 dips
4) barbel curl, press & squat x10 (80% max weight)
5) 10 or max pullups
6) dumbbell farmers walk 60 seconds
7) Fast rope climb

Repeat 4 times

Vary as necessary, but you get the gist. You can make a poor man's climbing rope by braiding three sections of half inch utility rope. 30 feet is a good height, but work with what you got. Can also improvise a heavy bag out of an old military duffel bag. This is not an all or nothing exercise.....max effort is what counts.

Now....try performing this on your next range day. Add a shooting station after every third exercise. Unfortunately, gunfights happen when you are tired, stressed, hurting and shaking.

This will make you strong, boost your stamina and improve your stress shooting techniques. Oh, and keep a log...

I will be fielding a shooting course shortly built on this premise........

Sweat now - or bleed later

Saturday, September 15, 2012

And there it is...

Sorry for the light posting......I am overseas currently and as you can see from the news, things are "busy" right now.

Sink your teeth into this startlingly honest interview with none other than uber globalist, Henry Kissinger...

....the incredible hubris of these people! Might want to get your house in order...

(By the way...that is Kissinger with Pinochet in the pic above)

Edit: A reader pointed out that this story links to a satire site, something I should have checked on before linking, so enjoy it for what it is.........I really should just stick to guns, tactics and shiny things...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Useful Diversion #2

If you have not seen the film "Max Manus: Man of War", it would be worth your time to check it out. Inspiring true story of the Norwegian resistance during WW2.....

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sudden battle...

"The price of freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle anywhere, any time and with utter recklessness."
-- Robert Heinlein

Lt. Heinlein seemed to have a firm grasp of the special relationship that liberty and firearms share.....

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Urban living in a new world ?

Author and former Navy SEAL Matt Bracken has a very interesting bit of reading - HERE

....paints a rather dire, but wholly probable scenario.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

True enough...

" The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgement of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."
-- Winston Churchill

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Go-Bag question and answer...

This question was posed to me the other day and I thought I would address it here as it is a very relevant question.

"If you could only have three small items in your Go-Bag/ Survival kit what would they be?"


1) Poncho liner (or poncho depending on area)
2) Metal water bottle
3) Knife


Apply the Rule Of Three's. You can survive 3 minutes without air - 3 hours without shelter - 3 days without water - 3 weeks without food. Of course there are variables....some guys in the dive community can go longer than 3 minutes without air....if you are in a nice 70 something degree climate 3 hours without shelter obviously will not kill a desert, you may not make it 3 days without water.....and so on.
   A poncho liner compresses small, is durable, cheap and fairly effective at preserving warmth. I prefer a steel water bottle as I can boil water right in it for sterilization or cook up some chow. A quality medium size fixed-blade knife can serve countless functions, from shelter prep to self defense. You can also find sheaths with a built-in flint rod for fire starting....or make one yourself for cheap.

   It goes without saying that you would want a few more items in your bag, but this is an answer to a specific  question. It also addresses the issue of our tendency to over pack. Break it down to the absolutes then add on from there. Sticking with our "three's" trend, lets add three more items to our pack.

4) Poncho (or liner if your #1 was Poncho)
5) Flashlight
6) Paracord/550

   A poncho will help keep you dry and even aid in camouflage if the situation calls for. A flashlight, besides providing light, can be used to signal for help or even be used as a strike weapon up close. The batteries can also be used as another fire starting method. Paracord has so many uses it boggles the mind.....from shelter crafting to using the guts for fishing line or snares. You will see a lot of guys replace their boot laces with paracord, so they always have an emergency supply on hand. Paracord bracelets and knife handles are other ways to keep a supply on hand.
   Lets add three more items...

7) Trashbag
8) Mesh/laundry bag
9) Altoids Tin sew kit

   The humble trashbag can be used for shelter, collecting water, solar still, keeping critical clothing items dry during rain or water crossings. I love the mesh bags with a drawstring can use them as a fishing net, a makeshift refrigerator or a bear bag. A small sew kit will allow you to make repairs to clothing, fashion fishhooks.....I even had to use it to suture a gash in my foot while in the mountains....not fun but it worked in a pinch.

Sidenote: I keep a compass on my watch, but if you have maps you want to use you will want a "real" compass and a protractor. Also make sure if using civilian maps like USGS, you have an appropriate protractor (like the one SurvivalTech makes) as the military protractor will not match up with the civilian map.  

   So right there you have nine items that would fit into a rather small bag or could even be put in the mesh bag or rolled into the poncho and tied with paracord......

It's all about giving yourself options and the rule of three's is a good place to start.