Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Cyclic Existence of Heavy Music - Part II, Other Than Metal

The eighties were also the height of American punk, but punk's inability to break into the mainstream forced the Do It Yourself (DIY) movement. Independent record labels started by band members and scenesters came into existence to distribute music that the major media wasn't interested in. An example would be SST Records started by Greg Ginn; then frontman of Black Flag. Ginn recorded a record with his previous band Panic and had no luck securing a record deal and decided to release it himself by establishing his own label. SST Records then began distributing music from it's home of Southern California's thriving punk scene.

Hardcore remained an underground music while punk experienced a revival in the nineties as 'Pop-Punk' with bands like Green Day. Punk resisted assimilation into the heavy music category by shying away from association with hardcore and especially metal with pop friendly branches like Ska. Granted, there are punk bands that remained true to it's roots but like any music that was taboo in it's heyday, it too had to give way to new music. An example would be when jazz faded from music played in brothels in New Orleans as music you heard while you got some 'jass' into easy listening AM radio stations.

Indie label's distribution was limited and did not have the clout nor financial prowess of the major labels to take advantage of traditional marketing techniques such as securing an end cap display at a retail chain. Instead of competing directly with the majors, indies took a community based approach such as releasing split records. The idea of a split record is to feature two bands, one on each side. The record typically has a few tracks from each artist and one of the bands would be the draw intended to entice listeners to try another band based on association.

It was through compilations from reputable indie labels that many fans heard new bands. Without distribution into retail locations, labels relied on the dying mail order system where you requested a catalog, picked items and sent a check for the merchandise (plus shipping and handling) then awaited its arrival; all correspondence via USPS. Some mom 'n pop record shops would carry these records but they were typically scene specific and traditional distribution was a thing to come.

How did these kids hear about these new bands before the internet? The answer is the under ground magazine, or zine to the initiated. Zine's were put out either by individuals who had close ties to the scene or by indie labels. Zines evolved to take on subscribers and some of these DIY publications were nationally distributed through the postal service. Other than the zine it was word of mouth and live shows that spread the word. As time pass and indies grew in national recognition, they began taking out ads in publications that fans read like Hit Parader and Guitar World.

Necessity being the mother of all invention, DIYers of the era understood the geographical limitation of a scene as well as indie labels. Where major labels planned tour logistics and offered support, these bands got a van and crammed as much gear, clothing, and merch as they could afford and hit the road. It was a slow process with no guarantee of success but it was those that braved it that paved the way for many to come. A great book on this topic is Get in the Van: On the Road With Black Flag by Henry Rollins.

During the nineties when pop punk was making the top twenty charts, the punk bands of the past began to resurface with their back catalog picked up by a new and younger audience who wanted to hear where it began. Bands like Bad Brains suddenly became a household name where in the past it lived in relative obscurity to the mainstream media during the peak of it's career. The punk revival was in full swing with it being used in extreme sports events, game and movie sound tracks, even ivy league colleges were having commencement speeches by political punk alumni.

Hardcore remains the underground redheaded stepchild of heavy music. The bastard descendant of punk diverged on it's own when it became too heavy for punk's liking where traditional punk fans shunned it while the new hardcore fans accepted it's roots. Built on the DIY ethos of it's punk roots and strengthened by the tight knit scene, hardcore thrived underground where it fostered the creation of independent record labels that distributed with fierce brand loyalty. Once upon a time fans could rely on Victory Record's brand to deliver true and good hardcore.

The broader reaches of the World Wide Web in the beginning of nineties combined with the DIY attitude exposed hardcore to new, previously inaccessible fans. The music being heard for the first time by those without a local hardcore scene found themselves becoming immersed into hardcore culture via the internet; giving rise to new momentum by giving indie labels and unsigned bands the tools to strike against major media with the ability to release music worldwide without the need for traditional distribution channels.

With both punk and hardcore heard by a global audience, we wait for those with new gripes, frustrations, politics and scenes to form a new voice to express what that local culture has to say. In part III we will be hearing how those voices will influence music to come.

Check out the next article; The Cyclic Existence of Heavy Music - Part III, Full Circle

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Cyclic Existence of Heavy Music - Part I, From the 80's to the 90's

Just like yourself, I listen to a broad range of music. When asked what kind of music I listen to I tend to fall back on metal, hardcore, industrial, and the various sub-genres that may be difficult to differentiate without being a fan. However, as both a songwriter and a fan of the genre I am not disillusioned into thinking that it will last forever. This may irk some of you but let's face it, music is an industry because it makes money and heavy music represents a small segment of the market.

As far as the recording industry is concerned the popularity of any song is based on the purchasing power and attention span of the core demographic. Still nay-saying? Consider what radio formats exist today and if there are any formats dedicated to metal, hardcore, punk, etc. Sure there are radio stations that play heavier music outside of popular music, but it's relegated to late night slots at a college radio station.

As metal died towards the end of the eighties we had Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax that represented the 'Big 4' of metal bands. When these bands started out they each made a distinct mark on metal - with Metallica being the popular example of Bay Area thrash; Mustaine's departure from Metallica came Megadeth as the rival feud; Slayer as the extreme end of thrash; and Anthrax representing East Coast metal.

There were plenty of bands outside of the Big 4 that saw moderate to good success but the problem with a small business segment is that there is only so much room for competing products. When the metal scene became popular, bands seemed to suddenly appear playing similar material and eventually what started as a proliferation of metal became a saturation of metal and the bloated segment in music became unsustainable in the market. There simply were too many damn metal bands that didn't offered anything new, and to make it worse the scene was beginning to fragment and divide into different camps of metal.

The end of the eighties was when metal and hard rock cemented their symbiotic relationship. Guns N' Roses' Appetite foe Destruction was released in 1987 to obscurity until David Geffen asked favors to include the record's first single, Welcome to Jungle which had an accompanying video to be included in MTV's late night rotation. This was the defining moment when video became as important as the single it's self in a band's survivability in music merchandising and advertising. So important was it that MTV began the Best Rock Video category at their annual MTV Video Music Awards in 1989 with Guns 'N Roses' Sweet Child 'o Mine as the winner up against Aerosmith, Def Leppard, and Metallica. The inclusion of the category helped break in heavier music to the masses.

The beginning of the nineties mourned the death of metal, but really it was an inevitable end that had to occur in order to force it underground where it could be rediscovered among new blood with new ears and new ideas. During this transition, rock birthed the weird off spring that is Alternative, which had an impact on future musicians that was to become the next generation of metal and hardcore songwriters. Until the nineties it was faux pas to listen to metal and popular music which stunted the growth of metal for years, but with metal submerging underground again, it fostered a new scene with new rules. Alternative bands such as Alice in Chains and Sound Garden, who had heavy sounding guitars blended with pop sensible-yet-metal-ish vocals, helped the paradigm shift in the attitude towards what became acceptable in heavy music.

As the nineties progressed we saw new acts added to rosters of metal labels like Road Runner and Metal Blade, with bands such as Machine Head, Candiria, and The Dillinger Escape Plan. Major labels were signing heavier bands occasionally to tout them as 'alternative metal' and 'nu-metal' along the way. It was these bands in the nineties that were the front runners that changed the way heavy music was perceived. Without the Big 4 poisoning it's progeny that desperately tried to fit an already overflowing mold of what the major label audience wanted them to sound like, music again took precedence and gave way to creativity over profit.

Now we have to let metal percolate in the melting pot of music and watch it change into something new, bringing in the next generation of musicians to write and play songs that become the anthem of the moment. We will have to wait another decade for that to happen. In the meantime, we will be taking a look at what else is happening in heavy music outside of metal in Part II.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


One of the things I miss about New Orleans is the food. I recently decided to try my hand at gumbo and I settled on a recipe that I liked so I thought to share it with you here. It starts with a 6.5 quart crock pot.

What you will need:

1 1/2 lbs. Bacon (preferably thick cut)
12 oz. Andouille Sausage
2 lbs. Crawfish or Shrimp tails peeled and deveined
1 & 1/4 white onion
1 small bunch of scallions (About 8 to a bundle)
3 Medium Potatoes
2 Large Jalapenos (fresh)
2 Habanero Peppers
1 lb. can of diced Tomatoes
1 lb. Chicken Broth (cartons come in 2 lbs packages, half of one of those)
1/4 cup White Vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 lbs. ~ 3/4 lbs Okra
16 cloves of garlic (I buy them pre-peeled in a tub)
2 oz. Louisiana Hot Sauce
1 oz. Tabasco Sauce
1/8 cup Andy Roo's Creole Gumbo Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Slap Ya Mama Hot Blend
1/8 cup Cayenne Pepper
~1 cup Flour
1/8 cup Basil (dry)
1/8 cup Oregano (dry)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped Cilantro (dry)
Water (Will get the amount later)

For the rice:

2 cups Rice
4 cups water
6 Cloves of Garlic
1 Vegetable Bullion or broth/soup base

Start by pouring half of the carton (1 lb.) of chicken broth in to the crock pot and add the rest of the wet ingredients except for the water (vinegar, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and Tabasco sauce). The can of tomatoes will need to be drained than add the entire can to the mix. Add all of the dry ingredients except for the flour (cayenne pepper, basil, oregano, Slap ya Mama, Gumbo seasoning, and cilantro) and stir till mixed than set the crock pot on high while preparing the fresh ingredients. Keep the lid off as you will be adding the ingredients as you prepare them.

Potatoes should be cut to bite size, onion to be quartered than sliced ~2mm wide than rough chopped. Cut the ends off of the okra and dispose, than chop the okra 5~7mm wide rings. Scallion should be sliced to about 3mm wide wings, garlic should be crushed with the flat of chef's knife than roughly minced. Halve the sausage than cut 5~7mm wide. Crawfish or shrimp tail (whichever is available to you) will ideally already be peeled and deveined but if not, this is the time to do it. Jalapenos and Habaneros should be roughly minced and keep the seeds in. Place the lid on the crock pot and time to cook some bacon.

Cook the bacon only till it produces grease (cook but keep soft). Go through the entire 1 1/2 lbs. and you will be saving the bacon grease in to a pyrex measuring cup between each batch to minimize contaminants in the grease as well to take care not to burn it. Once you cook through it all, slice the bacon to 2~3mm wide pieces and add to the gumbo mix. Add hot water to the gumbo mix to fill up the crock pot until it is nearly full at this point and than replace the lid. The bacon should have produced a little bit over a cup's worth which you will need to strain in to a clean pan set to low heat. Once the bacon grease is warmed, slowly add the nearly cup's worth of flour by slowly stirring it in to create the roux which will be added to the gumbo later. The flour to oil ratio is nearly one to one, you will need to continue to stir in flour until you get a putty like texture. Add the roux to the gumbo once it is hot by stirring it in slowly.

With all the ingredients added, let it cook for three hours or until done. While this is going, prepare some rice. Melt the vegetable bullion in to 4 cups of water and combine with rice in a rice cooker and let cook. Once the rice finish, add butter and stir to your liking. When the gumbo finishes, heap some rice into a bowl and add gumbo and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mount NetApp NFS volume to Linux server (for Windows people)

I recently had to update the disk firmware on a NetApp filer running NFS only (CIFS would allow Windows/NTFS access but needs a license and setup, and certain versions of ONTAP does not recommend running both NFS and CIFS) and after reading the documentation, I realized that the doc fell short for those that are not as Linux/Unix savvy and it inspired me to write something about it here.

The gist of the upgrade for a NetApp filer is rather simple, mount the /vol/vol0/ and browse to /etc/disk_fw and copy over thew new firmware bits.....but if you haven't mounted a NFS volume to a Linux server before, you are likely searching Google right now chanting Whiskey Tango Foxtrot as you may have come across a link to this blog here. Time to fill in the gaps on that doc now;

1.) You are going to need a Linux box

I virtualize all of my servers and I happen to have a Fedora 13 VM running and that is what I used to mount the NFS volume to the Linux server. If you don't have a Linux server but have vitualization technology available to you, there are pre-made VMs called appliances and there are many Fedora builds available. If you are the hardware sort of guy or gal, I'll wait, go ahead and build your dinosaur of a physical server while I drink some coffee.

2.) Getting the NetApp NFS volume mounted to Linux (in my case Fedora 13)

You have likely already looked at several webpages and have an idea of what the syntax maybe but just not connecting? No worries, I will explain in full here. First you need to make sure that the Fedora server's /mnt directory has a valid sub directory for the NetApp volume to mount to. The Mount command is Mount [file type] [from where:what directory] [to where] and the [to where] parts needs an existing path. I used WinSCP for an easy GUI browse of the Fedora server and when you first log in, hit the drop down that reads 'root' and go to /[root] which will re-populate the right side split window with more folders and each of those folders is called a directory. Go into the one labeled 'mnt' than press F7 to create a new directory and call is netapp.

Now that you have created the /mnt/netapp directory, you are ready to mount the filer. I use putty to SSH to the Fedora server and here is the command once you have logged in;

mount -t nfs [IP of your netapp filer]:/vol/vol0 /mnt/netapp

The above command declares the file type as NFS by '-t nfs' and [IP of your filer]:/vol/vol0 is the from where:what directory on the NetApp filer and the /mnt/netapp defines what directory on the Fedora server that this volume will be presented to. As a note of clarification, there should be no space between your filer IP and the : above, (e.g. As for why /vol/vol0? That's the default on the NetApp filer's directories of where the /etc folder is, which we will be getting to shortly.

To make sure that the NetApp volume mounted, browse the directory by entering ls /mnt/netapp/etc and if an output shows a bunch of files and directories, congratulations, you have mounted the volume successfully as you are viewing the /etc directory on the NetApp filer that has now been mounted to the /mnt/netapp directory on your Fedora server.

For sake of ease, since I already have WinSCP running, I browse to /mnt/netapp/etc/disk_fw and copy over the necessary disk firmware files using WinSCP. From here on out, use the NetApp disk firmware upgrade instructions. Once you have everything you need, run the following command to unmount the NFS volume;

umount -a -t nfs

There are methods to mount the NFS volume directly to Windows using third party software such as NekoDrive but had issues when copying over data as it seems to retain the NFS volume in memory and will require a high memory machine to be able to complete write operations without error. If you are running ONTAP version 8.1 or later, I have come across a blog post by Cosonok regarding how to enable access directly from WinSCP but since I do not have that ONTAP version available to test, I haven't confirmed it's functionality (I can tell you that the method listed on his blog does not work for ONTAP version 7.3.2). The method that I listed works on Fedora and Red Hat servers (tested Fedora 13, 15, and RHEL 6) and if you use other versions of Linux, keep in mind that some of the syntax may change (instead of mount, it may be mnt, mt, etc). Hope this helped solve your NFS mounting issues.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Making an iPhone 4S bracket for 1/4-20 mounts

I have an upcoming project for Griffin Armament where I will be testing the performance of the M4-SD Tactical Compensator and one of the tests I have in mind will requires video and planned to use my iPhone 4S for this purpose. There are various brackets and mounts available on the market but I didn't find any that allowed me to view the screen while filming that would also provide a solid contact around the phone to prevent the phone from shaking off from the rifle firing near by; looks like I will be hacking one together for the shoot.

I stared with looking around on the web for either a case or a mount that I can use as a base to start and I deiced to go with a window mount type that I found on Amazon which includes a goose neck and suction cup that attaches to the phone bracket. Another item I ordered with it is a bar mount with a 1/4-20 thread screw which is the industry standard screw size for attaching any camera (just like on a tripod). The bar mount I plan to use for attaching directly to the barrel for future use.

As for how I plan to attach the bracket to the bar mount and other 1/4-20 mounts is pretty simple, I headed out to my local homedepot and hunted around for parts and this is what I came out with;

3" x 3" T-Plates
1" Corner Brace
1/4-20 x 7/8 Coupling Nut
Shortest 1/4-20 bolt I could find
(3) 5.8x10mm nuts and bolts

One of the holes in the corner bracket will need to be drilled out to 1/4" wide to fit the 1/4-20 bolt, simply clamp the bracket into a vise (failing that, screw it down into a piece of scrap wood) and drill through one of the holes with a 1/4" drill bit and if you have a way to deburr, you should to avoid a cutting hazard. The T plate will be affixed to two of the holes of the iPhone bracket with two of the 5.8x10mm nuts and bolts with the third set to attach the corner bracket to the T plate. The 1/4-20 bolt will pass through the enlarged hole which will be affixed with the 1/4-20 x 7/8" coupling nut where there will be enough space left in the coupling nut to thread onto tripod and other 1/4-20 camera mounts. See pics below for reference, it's a really straight forward build and should be done in under ten minutes.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

SBR Build Completed! (and How to install the Troy Battlerail Bravo)

The upper parts have finally arrived and have now completed the build as of 9/18/2012; I have been waiting for this rifle completion for nine months and considering the coincidence in length of time, it can be said that my SBR is born. Least to say I'm thrilled and haven't been this excited since a midget discoverd the husky section.

The parts in the build have been covered in previous posts but to recap here for the final build;

Lower Receiver Parts

Colt AR-15 Lower (Pre-Ban)
Magpul MOE Trigger Guard, MIAD grip, & B.A.D. Lever
Geissele SSA Trigger
Vltor A5 Kit & IMOD stock
A.R.M.S. #71L Front and Rear Polymer BUIS

Upper Receiver Parts

Stag Arms Model SBR 11.5" BBL + Upper
Troy 11" BattleRail Bravo
Magpul ladder rail covers
BCM Gunfighter Mod 4
**soon to be added**
Griffin Armament M4SD II Compensator

I zeroed the rifle at 50 yards which also is know as the Combat Zero and if you use an A2 rear sight; it is possible to zero at 50 yards utilizing the Improved Battlesight Zero. The reason I chose the 50 yard zero has to do with how the 5.56mm projectile travels where at a 50 Yard zero the projectile hits Point Of Aim (POA)/Point Of Imapct (POI) and again at around the 200 yard mark and intermediate distances are a relatively flat trajectory that is +/- 1.6" out to the 250 yard range. This deviance is compensated with hold overs which means to hold my POA over the target a known amount above my expected POI at distances outside of the near and far zeroes and once trained with the hold overs, hitting 2" steel targets out at different distances are easy without having to fiddle with the elevation of my sights which makes for faster shots on target in a competition with multiple targtes at varying distances. The reason this zero works is the misconception of bullet travel path that when it exits the barrel, the projectile goes straight and drops down but in reality it is an arch which maintains terminal velocity over a longer distance. When the rifle is zeroed at 50 yards, the barrel is not level to ground pointing straight at 50 yards but at a slight angle upwards to produce an arch in the bullet path that is consistent with your aim where the upward angle is ever so slight to the shooter's perspective that it appears to be straight on. A very awesome explanation has been posted on the m4carbine forum by member Molon that is worth a read if you want to know more about the 50 yard zero and how it works (scroll down further on his post to check out the Revised Improved Battlesight Zero if you are using the A2 rear sight, very much worth the read).

The #71L sights which are the low profile polymer offering from A.R.M.S. Inc. is a pretty good sight, I like the rear sight better than Magpul's because it has the short range notch at the top of the sight already but the front sight needs a little work. The front sight simply has too much flat black with no definition and found it hard to quickly acquire the sight post center in the rear peep. I painted white alignment lines on the bottom and top surrounding the front post as well as the top ~1/4" of the post florescent green. The quick fix makes the sight pop out and is now a significantly easier, faster, and repeatable sight alignment.

White base coat

Florescent green applied to post

View from the peep

There are components on this rifle (aside from the short barrel) that I have been wanting to test out and the parts lived up to my expectation. The BCM Gunfighter charging handle (CH) with the Mod 4 paddle which is the medium size latch works exactly as advertised. I resisted buying the Gunfighter CH for the longest time as I was just being a cheap bastard.....until I recently managed to break my CH on my other AR exactly where the BCM literature mentions it. I manipulate the CH one handed with my support hand (that would be my left as I am right hand dominant) and with a standard CH, the one hand manipulation puts all of the stress against the roll pin that attaches the latch/paddle to the handle as well as adding a side way torsion that visibly warps the handle a bit. The BCM CH does not experience the warp as it is a much heavier duty CH compared to the GI and the added rigidity makes the CH manipulation easier. Looks like I will be ordering the second one to replace the replacement on my other AR now.

Comparison shot between the BCM (bottom) and GI (top) CH

Another part is the Troy BattleRail Bravo measureing in at 2.2" wide and 2.44" high which is the update that redesigned the existing TRX and BattleRail line where the new rail is lighter weighting in at 13.35 oz. and attaches to the rifle with less parts for a better, more solid fit and has a closer resemblance to the Alpha series of rails. I shot the SBR for an hour and a half straight while sighting it in and it never got hot, maybe a little warm but nothing uncomfortable at all and with the combination of the Magpul ladder rail covers, I was able to keep a solid thumb over grip on the rail the entire time without any heat issues that would necessitate gloves. At one point when I was adjusting the front sight post, my left hand came in contact with the A2 flash hider just to remind me how burning hot the rifle is (much cursing ensued), it was easy to forget the fact with the rail which did an amazing job at keeping the blistering heat at bay. The only gripe I have with the rail is the finish which I have already started to see wear spots on and it has seen exactly one indoor range trip.

There seems to be no good explanation of the Bravo rail's mounting method or for that matter how it works; so here it is finally, how to mount the Troy Battlerail Bravo. Troy did away with the proprietary nut and uses the existing castle nut on the AR platform which makes for better parts commonality and a simpler installation process. The rail has four screws and tabs and the tabs slide between the barrel and castle nut and the screw tension binds the castle nut between the clips and the rail.

All of the parts

Here the clips slid between barrel and castle nut to illustrate where they will go

You will need to hold the clips inside of the rail and thread the screw in and turn a few turns to keep them in place, the idea is to have enough slack that the tabs will slide in between the castle nut and barrel on their own during installation. Aside from the clips, the rail has keyed sections at the end of the rail that will need to be lined up with the castle nut ridges for installation which you can see highlighted in red. It becomes obvious when mounting that you will need to install the rail off center for the ridges to line up to the castle nut and will than need to be twisted to center for alignment before tightening the screws.

As for the sum of it's parts, the SBR overall functioned flawlessly. I did not experience a single malfunction but to be fair I haven't really put it through it's paces yet either. The Vltor A5 system gave the SBR the reliability of a rifle length buffer system that I was looking for. The FA BCG certainly performed well with a smooth feed, solid lock up, and a very positive ejection at around 4'clock which is where the case should be ejected towards. The dwell time couldn't have been timed better between bolt, buffer size, and tube length in conjunction with spring tension which also makes for a rifle that recoils very flat and straight back that allowed easy follow up shots once I got used to the shorter barrel getting influenced by the bullet spin as it exits the barrel more (the force exerted on the projectile from the rifling forces the barrel to move up and to the left) compared to my 16" AR. As i mentioned in the parts list above, I am waiting on the Griffin Armament compensator to try out in the very near future and will be writing about it here. Now to choose an optic for this rifle....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Few Watch finally arrives, less than stellar impression

After waiting longer than I had to, the watch arrived this morning. Before getting into the watch, there was a delay in production and no communication from Few regarding this delay until I contacted them. Even after contacting them, responses were extremely slow and when Few finally admitted to missing the committed production time, they at least offered me a free additional strap for taking so long. I have to say that I am less than thrilled with Few's communication and hope to see it corrected in the future.

The watch arrived in a nondescript cardboard box which was well packed, inside I found a black leather case, extra strap, watch link tool, and a lanyard adorning Few's logo.

The black PVD finish is pretty even across the watch but is not a particularly durable finish as I already see a spot wearing through.

I am not certain what printing method Few is using but it calls for improvement as fine details are lost and prior to printing, Few needs to either fix a current process if there is one or employ a color matching process as the design I submitted and the dial that is printed are two separate tones of grey. You can compare against my original design in an earlier post, notice that the barrel on the M4 isn't even printed on the final production watch, thanks for SBR'ing it.

Few needs to pay attention to simple things that are so basic I have to wonder if the people who assemble them are even qualified to begin with such as the bracelet width being wider than the lug width and as a result the links next to the lugs do not lie flat and are torqued away. Another disappointing detail is the bezel as well, I chose the black bezel with white markers and what I received is a black bezel with steel markers, the website shows as clear as day that the markers are white as you can compare it against the steel color bezel they have on their design site and can see a definite difference between the white and the steel; all of this feels like simple inattention to detail and could have been avoided had they a better quality standard and a quality assurance process, if one exists at all.

You can see in the pictures below where the bracelet is too wide against the lug and as a result is torquing the bracelet away and creating a gap and bad fit.

The watch so far is keeping time but only been wearing it for a handful of hours and will have to wait a couple of days before concluding on it's time keeping capabilities. Overall I am disappointed, the slow communication and production time may have biased me but the bad fit and finish on top of the less than quality print of the dial, I contacted Few regarding all of my issues and will see what they have to say about it and what may be done about it. If they decide to try to make it right, I think I would be able to maintain a positive opinion on the company but if not than Few just maybe another company in a long line of retailers of sub-par quality goods.

Update 9/14/2012:

I've decided to keep the watch since I like most of the parts of the watch and is hard to find a suitable replacement in the price range and besides, I do work on watches and will likely get to re-working the dial myself later versus waiting on Few to get their act together. As for my opinion of Few watches, do not get the steel bracelets as they do not fit their cases; I am not certain if the case is OEM'ed by FEW, outsourced for production, or use an existing case design from a supplier but they need to learn a thing or two on how to test these things out on CAD and then onto rapid prototyping before charging people money for something as simple as a band not fitting which should have been discovered during prototyping if not quality assurance. If FEW is the designer of the case, they are simply terrible at industrial design to let an out of spec lug or bracelet slip by. I would avoid their PVD as well as it is not a good quality PVD and I wouldn't bother with a custom dial unless it is really simple since they screen print and would of been nice to know what resolution screens they use to minimize design detail getting lost. So if you are in the market for a dive style watch where you can swap out some features, it's a good pick but for true customization, leave it to craftsmen who understands what quality is. I also tried contacting FEW to see if I can get a partial refund on the bracelet and the botched dial, I am still waiting to hear back.

update 9/28/2012:

After waiting several weeks for a reply, Few has agreed to refund me $46 USD which is the cost of the bracelet that does not fit and the custom dial that was not executed well. The email process did take a long time but I am glad in the end of them refunding me for the less than stellar quality parts. The partial refund at least does show that Few as a company wishes to make things right with the customer.

Friday, August 31, 2012

How to export a list of Exchange 2010 Distribution Groups and membership details

I was asked today to make a document which lists all if the email addresses, distribution groups (DG), and DG memberships. If it was a small organization with a small mail server this wouldn't be a huge issue but when the number of DGs are well past a hundred than the task may seem daunting. I had no time to sit here and look through each and every single DG to see who the members are and enter it all in a spreadsheet so I decided use the Exchange Power Shell to see if I can get all of this information.

A quick search on the web reveals that this is indeed possible but methods from MS show how to get the membership information from a single DG and is not dynamic enough to read across an entire organization as it requires you to know the name of the DG and enter it each time. After some trial and error, I finally found out which portion of AD, ADSI, and Exchange values that the Exchange Power Shell can read and here is the script that will output a text file that includes User, User Name, and email address associated with a given DG;

write-output “” > C:\outputDGmembers.txt get-distributiongroup | Sort -Property DisplayName | foreach { $name = $_.displayname $output = ‘Group Name: ‘ + $Name write-output $output >> C:\outputDGmembers.txt Get-DistributionGroupMember $name | Sort -Property DisplayName | Select DisplayName, Alias, primarysmtpaddress >> C:\outputDGmembers.txt write-output “” “” >> C:\outputDGmembers.txt }

If you need more information in the output, you can add the appropriate values after the word 'Select'. As for getting the email addresses, an excellent script is available at Flaming Keys' site which simply works like a charm. Below is a re-post from Flaming Keys, please check out the site and read the whole article which explains each step.

# ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- # Script: Get-AllEmailAddresses.ps1 # Author: Chris Brown http://www.flamingkeys.com/ # Date: 25/07/2011 00:03 # Keywords: Exchange, Email, SMTP # comments: # # Versioning # 25/07/2011 CJB Initial Script # # ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- # Import the E2010 modules if available, otherwise import 2007's. if (Get-PSSnapin Microsoft.Exchange.Management.PowerShell.E2010 -Registered -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue) { # Found 2010, add it Add-PSSnapin Microsoft.Exchange.Management.PowerShell.E2010 } else { # Add 2007 Add-PSSnapin -Name Microsoft.Exchange.Management.PowerShell.Admin } # Create an object to hold the results $addresses = @() # Get every mailbox in the Exchange Organisation $Mailboxes = Get-Mailbox -ResultSize Unlimited # Recurse through the mailboxes ForEach ($mbx in $Mailboxes) { # Recurse through every address assigned to the mailbox Foreach ($address in $mbx.EmailAddresses) { # If it starts with "SMTP:" then it's an email address. Record it if ($address.ToString().ToLower().StartsWith("smtp:")) { # This is an email address. Add it to the list $obj = "" | Select-Object Alias,EmailAddress $obj.Alias = $mbx.Alias $obj.EmailAddress = $address.ToString().SubString(5) $addresses += $obj } } } # Export the final object to a csv in the working directory $addresses | Export-Csv addresses.csv -NoTypeInformation # Open the csv with the default handler Invoke-Item addresses.csv

Now back to work on something else...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tattoo machine parts - Coils

At a simple glance, the tattoo machine coil is a an electromagnet coil, a ferrous steel core with thin gauge enameled copper wire wound around it. You can find coils wrapped at different wrap counts that indicates the amount of copper wire used to wrap around the core which is a base indicator for the relative strength of the coils. There has been various configurations and experiments with the coils over the years and most ideas being novelties and an interesting footnote in tattoo machine history at best. An example of this would be a ghost coil, which was typically an unwrapped coil core in the rear position of the frame which was meant to re-radiate EMF from the adjacent core with a goal of reducing weight but in reality it was a poorly powered, front heavy machine. You will find, just like any industry; the snake oil salesmen that will tell you how awesome ghost coils are and listen; if the likes of Lyle Tuttle tells me that they ran like hell back then, I'm inclined to agree and I can't imagine them getting much better since they were first tried in the thirties.

Unlike the vast availability and selection of tattoo machines you see today, they were once upon a time hand made by a very small group of people. You didn't have options to select from and you got what was available to your geographical reach especially considering that the internet wouldn't exist for a few more decades. The only way tattoo machines from foreign destinations arrived in the states are from tattooists travelling and sailors. Port towns had an advantage of seeing things that inland cities never encounter and you see tattooers from back in the day establish shops in port towns as tattoos and sailors were and still are synonymous (when I was tattooing in NYC, I knew I had rent made when the ships were sailing in, this was true for every shop I worked in near a port). The exchange of information was a very small scale and only between tattooers as it was a close kept secret once upon a time and you had tattooers back then that typically did it all, make the parts and machines as they were not mass produced and tattoo. The parts that were used were on the BBS system (Beg, Borrow, Steal) and they all start as raw material. To give you an idea, the now famed Micky Sharpz dial machine were so-called because it used dials from old British payphones when they were upgraded. The British payphones once upon a time used cast iron for the dials and he (Micky) got them for free since the old phones were simply discarded.

It starts with the parts

Consider before buying a coil set what the core is made of, ideally you want a ferrous metal core (no stainless, no plated) with good electromagnetic conductivity. Most of the coils you can buy today will work but how well? Lets start with considering which is better, a solid core or a hollow core? If you answered solid, congratulations; density certainly does correlate to the produced strength of the Electromagnetic Field (EMF). Coils are mounted by passing screws through the bottom of the frame and thread into the core of the coil. The type of screw you use here will vary EMF (screw should be unplated steel) as well as how far in the core is tapped. Ideally the core should only be tapped as far as necessary for the screw to secure the coil to the frame to take up the mass of the core from being drilled and tapped to aid in achieving the best core density possible to produce as even of an electromagnetic field as possible. A trick to take up space in a coil core that has been over tapped is to stuff it with metal shavings or steel wool. Short of buying heat treated 1050 cold rolled round stock and tapping it your self, I do realize that finding out what a company uses for the core material let alone how it is tapped maybe difficult to come by; this assuming the company that you are buying from isn't outsourcing the core or the entire coil. This is where contacting reputable companies come in, do your research as it really is worth it. I often encourage people to make their own coils as I mentioned earlier how the machines were made onsite by the old time tattoers, well; the techniques of ye olden days can be applied to day. Methods to make coils can be found with a simple search on the web and they truly aren't that difficult to make, they just take time to make. If anything, do your self a favor and make a coil winding jig before trying. As for buying them pre-made, I recommend coils from Pulse International, those ladies and gents at Pulse are very much into the craftsmanship from small parts out to completed machines.

I dug up some of older coils that I've retired as I have since made better coils out of better materials. From left to right they are 10, 8, and 12 wrap coils.

I tapped the core half way down back then, I figured out later in life that I should measure how far to tap versus marking a drill bit for known workable depths.

A very overlooked step when building a machine is the coil height in relation one another. The height is corrected by employing one or more various thickness steel shims below the coil on the shorter of the two coils. The idea is to get the coils lined up physically to get them to produce the even EMF for the machine to run as smoothly as possible no matter which way it's held or what kind of resistance it encounters. When the coil heights are mismatched, you will experience performance degradation in the machine and also cause the armature bar to prematurely wear down. An easy way to tell if the coils are at the correct height is by mounting them to the frame and depress the armature bar down, if the armature bar touches one coil and not the other, that would be the higher of the two coils and the latter must be shimmed.

The Pulse Intl. machine (which is my favorite shader to this day) where you can see the shim under the left coil and the resulting height adjustment across the top of the coil.

Seth Ciferri machine with coils that I've designed to be phase corrected to produce a very even EMF. Since the coils were designed and fitted to the machine, no need for shims. You can see the tool marks on the close up on the bottom of the cores. They don't have to be pretty, they just have to work well.

By now you wonder the number of wraps on a coil are and which one should be chosen. This comes down to what type of needle you use and what kind of tattooist you are. If you are novice you should stay away from bug pins and use 8 wrap coils to minimize running the machine hot and causing damage to skin until you get more time with a machine in your hand and learn the nuances in tattooing from skin to machine. If you are experienced, you likely have tried various sizes and come to a decision which size suits your needs best as artists often do when deciding which paint brush is needed. Some cases a large wrap coil is unavoidable when using extremely large group shaders (we're talking breaking the 21+ needle group magnums) to have it reliably and evenly deposit ink. Can you run the monster groups with smaller coils? Sure, but just simply not as well. It's the difference when hitting the gas on a four cylinder and a tuned straight six, they'll both go but one just does it better.

I've got some tattoos I need to finish on a few people, it maybe time to come out of retirement for select pieces.......

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The bestest mac 'n cheese everz!

I have been cooking a mac 'n cheese recipe that is simply addicting; I make it once and everyone wants more.... I stared making double batches and that barely covers the demand. The recipe was never measured and I eyeballed everything for years, I finally had the time to measure it out so here goes the ingredients list.

1 lbs. Medium Shells (yes, I'm aware that it's not the 'mac' part)
1 lbs. Velveeta cheese
1/2 cup mixed shredded cheese (min. 3 cheese mix and must have cheddar in it)
1/2 medium white onion
1.5 Tblsp Brown sugar (Can be light brown, doesn't matter)
Butter (we'll get to the individual measuring in parts)
Milk (it's by sight and feel, a bit more on that later)
Basil (again, by sight and well, I'll show you later in the post)
Bread crumbs (I usually use the Italian style)

You will need the following gear;

Large sauce/fry pan (I use a 5qt Calphalon 5005)
Medium frying pan
3qt oblong Pyrex baking dish
Large pot for cooking pasta 1 Tblsp measuring spoon
1/2 cup measuring cup

Start boiling some water to cook the pasta and while that is going, mince the white onion. In a medium frying pan, melt 1 Tblsp of butter and saute the white onion over medium heat until they turn opaque. Add the 1.5 Tblsp of brown sugar as the onion's color transitions and continue to caramelize over medium heat and store in a bowl for later use. While the pasta cooks, slice up the 1 lbs. of Velveeta so that it will melt faster and put aside as the prepped Velveeta for later as well. With the pasta finished cooking, drain and replace pasta back into the pan.

Stir, stir, stir!

In a large sauce pan, melt 2 Tblsp of butter over medium heat than add a splash of milk and the Velveeta slices until it melts to a creamy cheese sauce (I have a huge sauce pan that I can fit all of this into, depending on your pan size it may take more than one go at it).

Add the pasta to the creamy cheese sauce and the very important thing is to keep stirring to prevent the cheese from clumping and burning, continue stirring until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the caramelized onions next than the 1/2 cup of shredded cheese and you may want to add a splash of milk as you add the shredded cheese to maintain the creamy consistency, if it is really hard to stir than it is likely too dry. Once it's all mixed, shake on a layer of basil to evenly cover the top and mix that in as well. With all ingredients thoroughly mixed, take it off the heat and is now ready to be transferred to a Pyrex baking dish.

Just basiled

Pour the deliciousness in a 3qt oblong Pyrex baking dish and cover the top with breadcrumbs. Place the Pyrex in the oven at 350~400 degrees until the top layer browns slightly, careful not to dry it out!

Let cool before eating, or it will be like eating molten lava; albeit delicious molten lava.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Unable to delete VMDKs in VMware (vSphere)

I have been trying to P2V a Win 7 desktop and had to make another attempt when it produced an error at 14% completion where the VMW KB workaround suggests to P2V a single volume at a time. The desktop in question has 3 virtual disks plus the Win 7 boot partition so on my next attempt, I went to P2V just the FAT32 boot partition and C:\ when I discovered that the LUN I created on the SAN shows insufficient space...WTF. I launch vSphere client and double check that I deleted the VM that was created during the previous P2V attempt and it was indeed gone. Suspicious, I check the volume to find that there remains 2 VMDKs from the previous P2V attempt that vSphere did not successfully delete nor did it spit out an error about it either. I right click one of the disks and select delete just to get an error that simply states: Cannot delete file....super. Typically an error like this is seen where a VM has locked the volume but there is no VM to speak of so the typical method to unlock a volume will not work here.


The way to remove the locked volume where a VM does not exist is through shell and if you haven't poked around on the ESX shell or are unfamiliar with Linux, this may seem like a daunting task but I promise you that it is not. First if you have not already, enable remote shell access to your ESX or ESXi host and once that is established, use a program such as Putty to remotely connect to your target host. If you are running your hosts off of a SAN like myself, it honestly does not matter which host you access so long as that host has access to the SAN volume in question where the VMDKs are located. Once connected via putty, run the following command to figure out where the volume exists;

[root@yourhost ~]# lsof | grep name_of_vmdk.vmdk

The above command will reveal the path of the vmdk assuming that it does exist, the output should look something like this;

vix-async 8586 root 136u REG 0,18 319959334912 377047

Notice the 4 digit number in the above output after vix-async which is the ID number you will use to terminate it's running processes with the following command;

[root@yourhost ~]# kill -9 8586

With all processes pertaining to the ID terminated, we will change the working directory to where the VMDK is for simplicity's sake;

[root@yourhost ~]# cd /vmfs/volumes/915udud0-6b77a6b7-05a-992ba5sest69/

Once there you will delete the VMDK and you will be asked to confirm deletion as a redundancy check to ensure that the deletion is intended by typing Y or N;

[root@name_of_directory ~]# rm name_of_vmdk.vmdk
rm: remove regular file name_of_vmdk.vmdk? y

That should have removed the locked VMDK and have freed up space on your volume.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

SQL 2008 R2 SP1 0x84B20001 error

I recently built out a SQL 2008 R2 server and went to apply Service pack 1 and came across error code 0x84B20001 where it specifically error on RS_Server_Adv. Initial digging on the web states that I should run a repair installation of the shared components path with the original media which did not fix the issue and still has the same error. The error occurs at the beginning of the installation of SP1 which suggests that it is checking the installation to verify that it meets requirements such as version and installed components.

The RS_Server_Adv is the Reporting Services component which I installed because it was a specific requirement for a project and one I rarely ever install. Since I suspected that the error was checking installed components first, I crawl the registry to find that there is indeed a registry key called RS_Server_Adv at HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL Server\MSA=RS10_50.YOURINSTANCENAME with a value of 4. Since it is a brand new build on a virtual machine, I take a snapshot and start altering the value, starting with 0 which did not fix the issue. Rebooted and tried again, still no go. Back to the registry and changed the value to 1 than tried the installation and what do you know, the installation works!

the installation completes and I reboot and ran SQL to make sure everything was working after the value alteration and everything seems to be working just fine.

My 1911

I have always loved John Moses Browning's 1911 design ever since I was a kid and when I first received my LTC-A in Massachusetts, my first purchase was a Para-Ord LTC in stainless steel which is a commander length barrel 1911 with Para's proprietary extractor. A lot of people bash Para but I never had a problem with it, the pistol shot tight groups and never suffered the failure that many experience with Para's overly complex extractor. The pistol was sold to my brother Luke and we have since converted it to a series 70 set up with a shim from Brownells and it shoots even tighter groups now that the trigger doesn't drag on so many parts. The reason why I chose the Para LTC was because of a lack of choice at the time that I bought it since Massachusetts restricts what pistols can be purchased. The pistols must go through a vetting process where the manufacturer is expected to ship three of the model that they wish to submit to be reviewed and it must pass muster between the Massachusetts Office of Public Safety (Mass EEOPs) and the Attorney General's office.

I mentioned that it was sold as I wanted to fund another project, a custom 1911 build. Since my first pistol purchase I have shot various pistols and owned a range of them and I came back to the 1911 but wanting a full size this time around and I wanted the classic as it should exist; Series 70 style workings and minimalist setup. Everywhere I looked all I saw were Series 80's and decided that building one is the only way to get what I wanted without spending thousands on a custom or an old Colt which fetch a premium in Massachusetts as there are no new Colts available since Colt does not want to navigate this state's many gray areas of the laws for manufacturers and distributors nor wish to participate in the pistol vetting process. For those of you that are wondering what the difference between Series 70 and Series 80 are, it is 1911 nomenclature that distinguished Colt 1911 models that were differentiated as Series 70 and Series 80 based on if it had a firing pin safety or not; the 70 did not and the 80 did. The addition of a firing pin safety added parts to both frame and slide and it forced the shooter to have to depress the trigger all the way and follow through for the firing pin safety to be moved out of the way and allow the firing pin to travel and strike the primer. The other benefit to the firing pin safety is that it minimized the possibility of an inertial discharge: in case the gun is dropped and risk the firing pin travelling forward from the fall's inertia, creating an unintentional discharge.

An illustration of how the Series 80 parts engage with one another

The pieces laid bare

The downside of a firing pin safety is that the parts that move the safety is manipulated by the trigger's bow and it functionally made a heavier and grittier trigger as a result of the additional parts that either directly (Lower sear lever) or indirectly (Upper sear lever, firing pin safety) touch the trigger.

Trigger bow is the part that passes back to the sear spring and is shaped to allow the magazine to pass through it.

I wasn't planning on dropping my 1911 but accidents do happen and I was concerned with the possibility of an inertial discharge when I came across an article on how a gunsmith during the evolution of the action shooting days figured out that if you use a lighter firing pin, say that of a 38 super/9mm firing pin for a .45 that the weight reduction was enough to prevent an inertial discharge (I unfortunately do not recall who the gunsmith was, I want to say it was perhaps Armand Swenson).

The .38 super firing pin (bottom) tapers to a finer point than that of a .45 firing pin (top)

I contacted John Lawlor over at Remsport for frame and slide and I dig their stuff, the overruns are fairly priced without compromising the quality of the components. John had some barrels on hand as well and decided to grab one while there. I went with a carbon steel frame and slide since I planned on a classic black oxide 1911 and most of the small parts are form Wilson Combat. The hammer is a commander hammer simply because I like the appearance of it and the trigger is a plain Jane 1911 trigger, nothing super special. the .38 super size firing pin is the Wilson Bullet Proof Firing Pin which is a really high quality firing pin that I should see years of service from. The front sight is a Trijicon tritium sight and the rear sight is an adjustable sight by Kensight. The grips are the slim line grips from MIL-TAC Knives & Tools which I absolutely love and plan to use in future builds. The grips provide a positive surface and hasn't slipped on me yet no matter how much sweat and dirt I had on my hands. I use a flat mainspring housing for the same reason I have the slim line grips: I have small hands. The flat mainspring housing reduces the radius my hand has to wrap around to grip and is easier to handle for my hand size. The mag release is an over-sized release which never catches on any holster I use and has been simply awesome.

Since the initial build, I have made some changes to my 1911 as well as plans for future changes. The front sight now has fluorescent orange tape sealed with nail polish to aid in a faster sight picture acquisition as I found when shooting pins at my range, the front sight was easily lost. The idea for the fluorescent tape is not my own but one I found from Pistol-Training.com's article on the DIY Hi-Vis sight. I placed some skate board grip tape above the trigger on the support hand side (That would be the left hand for me) to give traction to where my support hand thumb sits on the frame and to train my thumb to hit the grip tape and away from the slide for a true thumbs forward hand position. The barrel has been trimmed down on a lathe so that it sits flush with the barrel bushing and this was purely an aesthetic decision. I decided that I want to change out the sights to Trijicon's HD Night Sight set in yellow since the human eye has more green 'cones' and can see the green to yellow spectrum better than the only other option which is orange. The set also comes with a fixed rear sight that is a ledge type design that allows one hand weapon manipulation for cycling the slide using the sight and the U shaped notch is over-sized compared to typical rear sights to allow faster sight acquisition as well.

1911 atop a couple of Wilson Combat 8rd magazines, those magazines are reliable and feed very well.

View from the other side

Muzzle detail, you can see how the fit looks with the barrel cut to fit the bushing. The process is really simple, with the pistol assembled, mark with a sharpie where the barrel protrudes past the bushing than chuck it up on a lathe and trim down than re-crown the barrel, some light sanding and buffing and it is now fitted exactly to length.

The orange on the front site blade plus shot of the top serrations which break up reflected light on top of the slide. This is the second application of the orange tape as it eventually came off, which is why on the second time around I liberally applied the clear nail polish.

Sight picture to see what the orange looks like.

Sight picture with focus on the rear sight

View of the front strap checkering and the undercut.

Close up of the grip tape I applied.

Rear of the pistol where you can see fit and finish of the beaver tail safety and the flat MSH.

View of the breach face

How the barrel and frame meet to provide a ramp for the next round to load

Without the slide to see how the barrel interacts during the cycling operation, first picture would be when the slide is back to engage the barrel to the frame to reload and the next where the barrel lifts to lock against the slide.

Barrel properly throated to aid in reliable feeding no matter the ammunition type.

The ejection port which is lowered and flared.

A lightly flared magazine well.

Grip detail

In the locked back position

Magazine inserted to show how far the Wilson mag sticks out of the bottom.

All of the components were hand fitted piece of piece to ensure the best fit to this particular pistol. The starting point is the slide to frame fit. Depending on machining tolerances, the process can be an arduous one or a relatively fast task. The frame and slide fit decently enough to about 3/4 of the way on before lapping to fit. The barrel is then fitted where you have to fit the pivot's size than the barrel hood to ensure a tight lock up when the pistol is in battery. The barrel's needs to be throated as the original dimension was designed for military ball ammunition and is inadequate for feeding other types of ammunition and can contribute a failure to feed (FTF) as a result. The throating shouldn't be so aggressive as to make the rounds slide out of battery and shouldn't so tight that shorter hollow point ammunition doesn't get stuck where the barrel and frame meet.

The trigger is fitted to the frame next and first see how the trigger rides within the frame and figure out if it is riding true. If it is not, the trigger bow is bent out of true and ideally use a stirrup die which makes truing a snap. Once trued, see if the trigger fits and start noting where there is interruption in travel and that will be where to use a fine grit stone to file and smooth the surface for a well fitting trigger that travels true. Most smiths will use a combination of Arkansas and India stones to accomplish this task, I use Boride which is an engineered abrasive company and specifically the ones designed to remove EDM scaling seems to work particularly well for gunsmithing, they even have a gunsmithing specific kit which is an assortment of stones and is a great deal. The engineered abrasives I find lasts linger, are fraction of the cost of Arkansas or India stones, and are consistent when replaced.

Once the trigger is fitted, the grip safety can be fitted to the frame. See if the grip safety even fits the frame in my case, the grip safety from Wilson seemed over sized and I believe was meant to be fitted. Once filed down enough to fit to frame, I cut down a punch I didn't need to create a pin to hold the grip safety to the frame and went to work on it with a dremel to rough fit to frame. With the rough fitting done, I cut about a foot long length of 2" wide sand paper off of a roll that I bought at Harbor Freight and hand sanded until smoothly fitted to frame. The trigger to grip safety fit will be done later as I need to wait for the rest of the trigger group to be fitted.

The sear engagement I felt was easier than what most described, years of fabrication experience certainly helped. Idea is to true the sear engagement to make the trigger pull as smooth possible, which means to file the metal to a flat and true to one another's surfaces between sear and hammer. There are various jigs available to accomplish this task which I do not have available to me but do have various sized vices, various magnification eye loupes, and various files and engineered abrasives plus a really steady hand (ten plus years of tattooing also helped). If you find that you do not have a jig, just take your time as you are performing subtractive work in that you are removing material and can not add any back on, and check the engagement regularly as you go. A simple jig to check sear engagement is to use a transfer punch through the hammer and sear pin hole on your frame to a block of wood, I went through and found crap punches I no linger user and cut them down and drill a hole partially through the wood block and friction fit the punches in place to mount the hammer and sear to check the surface engagement.

With the critical parts fitted, time to fit the rest of the small parts and the final fit of the grip safety. The safety will need to be fitted and it's a trial and error process and take your time, no reason to screw the pooch by rushing through the safety fitting. The safety needs to positively stop the hammer from falling as well as move in and out of the safe/fire positions. The mainspring housing will need to be fitted, see how far it fits and mark with a sharpie and slowly file until the MSH fits smoothly without binding. Get the rest of the trigger group and trigger installed, time to see how much you will have to file the grip safety's engagement against the trigger bow. Take your time as it is really easy to over file here and if you do, all that time spent fitting the grip safety will be for naught as it will not effectively stop the trigger travel when in the safe position. File a little bit, try, repeat.

With the rest of the pieces fitted, sand to smooth and polish before oxidizing. The buff/polish is really important as the outcome of the oxidization process is only as good as what you put in to begin with. Oxidization can be done at home, mine was sent out along with all small parts to be done to have a uniform look. If trying the home method, there are various resources available on the web and I personally want to try the bone pack method for bluing and the hot oil method for oxide.

All of these steps ensure properly fitted parts which contribute and accuracy and a build to last a life time or longer. I went with a slightly looser slide to frame fit as I wanted something that would function no matter what, unlike race guns with extremely close tolerances that has the potential for malfunction from binding if to much foreign material is introduced to the slide rails. Yes the old girl shows wear and tear but I personally like it, the more shet's used the more character she acquires.