Five steps for enjoying your iPhone 6 Plus

Here’s how I managed to enjoy my iPhone 6 Plus, aka iPad Micro 😀

For a while I had the iPhone 5. I chose to skip the 5S model and held on to my upgrade until I saw what the 6 series would be all about. I also had an iPad Mini (first model).

Then two 6 models were released. I visited the Apple store at least three times to play with both models.

On the first visit I discovered that I could trade in my 5. $209 credit toward the purchase of a 6.

The catch? I had to buy in-store. An online upgrade would be a mess to then bring into the store, return it, buy it back, restore the upgrade, apply the upgrade, apply the trade-in.

What a nightmare that would have been.

I had no problem buying in-store. Supply was the issue. I ended up driving an hour and a half to the Apple store in the Mall at Wellington Green in south Florida.

Picked up a white 6 Plus 64gb. Why did I get white? Because black wasn’t available lol. I got tired of waiting. Also picked up an Apple leather cover.

1. Determine how you use your phone most.
I always used mine as a tool first, phone second.
Tool; contact book, texting, remote desktopping, email, and sporadically, iMovie and Pages.
If you use your phone AS A PHONE I would recommend the regular 6. I was leaning that way until I sat down and determined that the phone function was really secondary in my usage pattern.

2. Try them out in-store.
I played with three key functions while in the store: landscape for most everything, iMovie, and Pages. The three things I used most between my iPhone and iPad Mini.
That’s right, I chased the Plus to replace both my phone and tablet.
The additional function keys have turned out to be much handier than anticipated. I’ve drafted query letters and entire chapters on my 6 Plus now.

3. Get an Apple leather cover.
A bit pricey but fortunately it’s worth it.
Feels real good, maintains the thinness of the phone, and allows for a nice, secure grip on the phone.
I had the Apple leather cover for my 5 and was very pleased with it. I also had the Apple leather case for my Mini and was impressed with that as well.
If you appreciate the minimalist approach you can see that the Apple leather cases are well thought out.

4. Use your new iPhone 6 Plus exclusively during the 14 day trial period.
You have 14 days to return the phone, no questions asked, if it really doesn’t work out for you. Make the most of that time by using it exclusively.
I used my store visits to make my determination.

5. Don’t upgrade the software until you’re sure it won’t mess things up.
I used to upgrade right away. Fortunately, with iOS 7, I began to wait, to see how the ‘update’ affected things.
I purchased my iPhone 6 Plus with iOS 8.1 and Set Up As New. I lost my text history but that’s ok. Everything else was always in iCloud (except photos).
I also turned off Auto Updates … period.
I peruse the New Changes first whenever an App update shows up. Then I decide if I want to upgrade it at that time lol.
Same thing with the operating system. If it works great I’ll wait a couple of upgrade versions before I think about making any changes. Again, same thing with Carrier Settings. I’ll wait, see what the online forums says about it.

So that’s it! Enjoy your new iPhone 6 Plus!

How to succeed at your first rifle match

How do you succeed at your first rifle match?

I placed First, Unclassified, in my first match. It was an 80 round (plus sighters) NRA match run at Markham Park in Ft Lauderdale, FL.
I missed being able to shoot my first 8 rounds and still scored a 555/800.

And I used a borrowed rifle. I brought 20rd mags, ammo and golf gloves lol. 😀

I’ve now been to several organized matches revolving around ‘Highpower’, the Civilian Marksmanship Program Excellence-In-Competition matches and the NRA Highpower Rifle matches.

Most matches are run pretty much the same way as safety rules are fairly universal. Just listen to the Match Director.

You’re here to figure out how to succeed at your first match.

* Listen. As a community target shooters are incredibly helpful. They’ll tell you how to stand, when to shoot within your wobble, such as in the standing position (everyone wobbles, don’t worry about it).

* Focus on the front sight … always. If you focus on the target, where is the front sight? The front sight will determine where the barrel points and hence where the bullet goes. So center the front sight in the blur of the target.

* Follow through. Be smooth with the trigger and remain in your position until the shot is truly over. Many times I see people IMMEDIATELY come out of position when the shot is over. Eventually they begin to come out of position AS they are pressing the trigger.
Just relax. Dry-firing your rifle helps considerably.

* Ammo is the most important piece of equipment. Then the sling. So, yeah, that’s right, the rifle is third most important.
I earned my first 4 points for Distinguished Rifleman to place in the top 10% of the Small Arms Firing School using their handout rifle complete with 9,000lb trigger and three round burst selector.
The key? Hornady 75 grain .223 Match Ammo (which they also supplied).

I didn’t have an AR-15 at my first ever match but subsequent experience and the advice of the US Army’s Marksmanship Unit reveals that practice in dry-firing, above all else, is the most productive method for best accuracy on a live range.

My first ever standing target 😀

We’re launching a satellite, a Borg Cube

AMSAT North America (LINK) that is.
I volunteer time to AMSAT, working on the mechanical engineering side of things, specifically the structural side.

Sometime in Summer 2015 we’ll be launching our CubeSat as a secondary payload.

The Chairman, my main character in the Distance In Time series, is an Amateur Extra ham radio operator. AMSAT and CubeSats receive various mentions in the story. 😀

So what’s a CubeSat? It is a 100mm x 100mm x 100mm cube with electronics inside. The cubed 100 is simply called a 1U. If you stack three then you have a 3U design ‘cube’sat.

Here’s our prototype: (GALLERY LINK)

As you can see it really is just 10cm cubed.

So what’s this all about, what’s our involvement here?

Amateur Radio, aka Ham Radio.

There is a VHF/UHF transceiver in the satellite along with a scientific payload. This satellite carries a science payload for a northeastern university.

We’re going to talk about the transceiver side of things. VHF and UHF communications are line of sight. That means that as long as one antenna (not radio) can see the other antenna the distance between the two is essentially meaningless.

Our CubeSats operate in a 600km orbit, approximately. It’s no problem using a 5w handheld transceiver to speak with another operator within the cone of coverage.

What’s the point? Advancing the Radio Art.

Title 47 – Part 97
Subpart A—General Provisions
§ 97.1 Basis and purpose.
The rules and regulations in this part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:
(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.
(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.
(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.
(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.
(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

Many astronauts and cosmonauts are ham radio operators as well. Want to talk with the ISS? Get your Technician License. Easy peasy (LINK)
Here’s a link to a youtube video LINK of a ham talking to Col Doug Wheelock on the International Space Station.

Back to the CubeSat.

Those dark sections are stickers representing the solar cells. Two for every side to catch sunlight as the satellite ‘tumbles’ across the sky. It’s called tumbling but it’s really just a slow rotation.

The satellite is powered by ‘A’ cells. Not AA, not AAA, just A. NiCad ‘A’ batteries to be exact. Yeah, you read that right, NiCad. NiCad is an extremely well proven technology and NASA isn’t real big on secondary payloads getting ultra creative. And, yes, Li-ion is considered ‘creative’.

The antennas, one for VHF the other for UHF, are simply spring steel wire wrapped around four corner posts. The end is held in place with fishing line, Dyneema in our design. Yep, fishing line lol.
Once in orbit, about 45 minutes after release from the rocket structure, the fishing line is burned simply by using a hot resistor. The antenna then literally unwinds to return to its normal shape, hence the reason for using spring steel. In this case the antenna started out as straight wire.
The failsafe with fishing line is that UV light will weaken it and then it will break on its own (in case the resistor fails). It may take a few months but the satellite is up there for years.

Check out the photo gallery for more pics (GALLERY LINK)

Don’t tell anyone but this is how the Borg Cube came to be ………. 😀

Small Arms Firing School 2010

Also known as SAFS.  Held every August at Camp Perry, OH.
Sponsored by the Civilian Marksmanship Program, the CMP. CMP SAFS link
(pic gallery and video below)

The Chairman, my main character in the Distance In Time series, earned his Distinguished Rifleman badge (at the age of 19). I added that based on my own experience in the competition, which began with a local NRA Highpower match quickly followed by SAFS.
The Chairman being a DR also factors in later on in the series 😀

The CMP Highpower rifle program is where you gather the points to earn the Distinguished Rifleman badge. CMP DR Badge LINK

SAFS is a school where a non-DR can gather 4 of the necessary 30 points to earn Distinguished Rifleman.  You just have to place in the top 10%.

I’ll make that even clearer, it is 10%, not a certain score.  The top non-DR sets the score, from there it’s all those within 10%.  So if the top guy scores 300/400 then the remaining shooters only need to shoot 270 or better. If the top guy shoots 399/400 the cutoff rises accordingly.

It is here that I earned my first 4 points toward Distinguished Rifleman.

The CMP National Matches and Excellence-In-Competition matches are similar, just that they’re 500 points.  Again, it’s the top shooters that earn the DR points, not a certain score level.  This way you’re always competing against the group,  not the scoreboard. There are various requirements that help offset any funny business, such as a minimum number of shooters necessary in order to award points.

It is probably the best thought out scoring system I’ve come across for any form of competition.

In addition a spec rifle is used; Garand, M14 or M16 as outlined in the RULEBOOK.
The M16 format, at least as of 2014, is:
6.2.3 U.S. Rifle, Caliber 5.56 mm, M16
The rifle must be an M16A2 or M16A4 rifle issued by the U.S. Armed Forces or a commercial rifle of the same type and caliber. M16 rifles must be chambered for the 5.56 mm cartridge.

It is with this setup in mind that I decided that I wouldn’t simply be a collector of certain firearms but a competitor and I went with a Rock River Arms National Match AR15-A2 rifle:
Barrel: Wilson air gauged stainless steel, 20in, Wylde chamber (.223/5.56), 1/8 twist rate, A2 flash hider, A2 integral front post sight/gas block
Handguard: RRA free float handguard
Trigger: RRA NM 2-stage trigger. Failed in 900 rounds. Now using a Geissele SSA trigger
Front Post: 0.072
Rear sight: NM 1/4×1/4, .030 hooded aperture in fixed upper handle receiver.
Standard A2 pistol grip and A2 buttstock

Another benefit of SAFS is that they provide the rifle, ammo and magazines and you are required to use their rifle and ammo (you could use your own mags though). Everything else: spotting scope, stand, mat, logbook, sling, etc you had to supply yourself.

Not having to bring rifle and ammo actually greatly simplified my flight from Miami, FL to Camp Perry lol.

Here is a Flickr Photo Gallery (click on the photo), and below that, a short video I put together.