I recommend not crashing your plane into San Francisco Bay. The life rafts leak.
I wanted a compact compass for an upcoming trip. Not a real orienteering compass, but something more than a button compass like Suunto Clipper. I ended up with the Suunto M9. At 1.5 inches in diameter, it is roughly the size of a small watch. It features 5 degree gradations and a sighting notch for rough bearings. A ratcheting face with orientation indicators allows you to set direction of travel. To work with the sighting notch and window, the compass card uses a reverse numbering scheme: instead of looking at 12:00 to read your bearing, you look at the 6:00 position. This is unintuitive at first, but easy enough to adjust to. Suunto advertises the compass as waterproof, and the bastion of truth that is the Internet claims it to be divable to at least 200 feet. Tipping my scale at 10 grams, the M9 packs an impressive amount of capability for its miniscule size and weight.
Unfortunately, the Velcro strap it comes with is garbage. It’ll hold it on your wrist, but it is uncomfortable and I question the longevity and security of the attachment after prolonged exposure to mud, sweat, blood, and the tears of my enemies. Fortunately the M9 has 19mm lugs, which matches an old watch I had about a decade ago. I dug out the NATO Regimental strap I had used on that watch, threaded it onto the M9, and now I have a wrist compass I can feel pretty good about.
I only wish it had a global needle, but that would probably require a larger housing.
I’m on my third pair of SKD PIG Alpha Gloves. My previous two pairs have lasted around 15 months. This current pair is on track for the same.
The gloves are lightweight, synthetic, and highly dexterous. While wearing them I am able to tie my shoes, pick up a penny, and load a .22 caliber magazine — all reliable tests for the dexterity of any glove. I wear the PIG Alpha Gloves every day on the bike, and am happy with the 15 month lifespan given both the intent of the glove and their cost.
They are a mechanics gloves, and should be compared to things like the Mechanix Original Covert. The Mechanix were my every day glove prior to purchasing my first pair of PIG Alpha Gloves in 2014. I find that the dexterity is the same in both, but the PIG Alpha Gloves are more comfortable and a bit more durable.
The greatest selling point of the PIG Alpha Gloves over most Mechanix models is the touch-screen compatible fingers. In earlier generations, SKD accomplished this by sewing silver thread into the index finger. This worked when the gloves were new, but quickly failed as the thread became dirty and began to fall out. SKD fixed this a couple years ago by replacing the silver thread with a conductive synthetic suede on the index finger and thumb. I’ve found that this works great, and continues to do so until the whole glove fails.
When the glove does begin to fail, it does so in the fingers. The fingers and palm are covered in ventilation holes, which slowly grow as the glove is abused. After this I find the stitching in the fingers will start to blow out. At that point I move on to the next pair.
The lightweight, synthetic materials of the PIG Alpha Gloves stay acceptably cool in hot weather. They’re not as cool as wearing no glove, and my hands will sweat wearing them, but I’ve never found them so uncomfortable that I want to take them off. The gloves provide no protection from the rain, but they dry within a few hours of being soaked.
Paracord loops on each cuff allow the gloves to be easily secured when not in use. I cut the D-ring off of the left shoulder strap of my Litespeed and replace it with an ITW Grimloc. This is where the gloves live when I’m off the bike.
The gloves do run a little small. I wear a size medium in just about every glove out there. In the PIG Alpha Gloves, size large fits me perfectly.
I purchased a pair of Magpul Core Technical Gloves back in 2015 when Magpul got into the glove game. These are meant to be in the same category of lightweight, dexterous, mechanics glove as the PIG Alpha Gloves and Mechanix, but I found them to be inferior to both offerings. The lack of adjustability in the wrist makes them annoying to put on and take off. The thicker material cuts down on dexterity (while probably improving durability) and makes them too warm to wear in hot weather. The touch screen finger tips are unreliable when the glove is dirty.
Dexterity and durability are inversely related in a glove, but the SKD PIG Alpha Gloves find a happy medium for my use. For poor weather conditions or mountain excursions, I still like gloves like the Kuiu Guide Gloves, but the mechanics glove is a better style for every day use. Right now I think the PIG Alpha Gloves are the best glove of this type on the market. I’ll continue to wear them every day and replace them every 15 months.
We took a short hike up to Ground Equipment Facility J-33 on the West Peak of Mt. Tam. This was the first time I’d been back up there since Field Day 2017. I was able to get two contacts on 2 meters with my VX-8DR, and another two on 20 meters with one of the other operator’s KX3. The club has more photos.
Last October I bought an Elecom HUGE trackball for use at home. I liked it enough that a month later I bought a second one to replace my CST LaserTRAC at work. Elecom is a Japanese company which has a reputation for making nice trackballs that tend to be a little too small for typical Western-sized hands. The HUGE is their answer to that. It’s a well-sized trackball with a smooth operation and a nice selection of buttons, all of which are supported by the Linux kernel.
The HUGE can be made even more comfortable by tilting it. This elevates the ball, leaves the wrist in a slightly more natural position, and also helps to address the position of the scroll wheel, which is otherwise slightly too far back. Some people have printed stands to hold the trackball at an angle. About a month ago I saw someone tilt the HUGE using aluminum keyboard feet. I thought that looked like a great idea and easier than trying to get something printed, so I went to AliExpress and ordered a pair of black feet from one seller and a pair of red feet from another.
When the feet arrived I attached them with hook and loop squares so that I could expriment with different positions and take them off if I didn’t like them. The position that I’ve settled on provides a comfortable angle, and the trackball still remains stable during use. I think it’s a great improvement. If you own a HUGE, it’s worth picking up a couple feet to elevate your ball.
Last year I demonstrated setting up the USB Armory for PGP key management. The two management operations I perform on the Armory are key signing and key renewal. I set my keys to expire each year, so that each year I need to confirm that I am not dead, still control the keys, and still consider them trustworthy.
After booting up the Armory, I first verify that NTP is disabled and set the current UTC date and time. Time is critical for any cryptography operations, and the Armory has no battery to maintain a clock.
$ timedatectl set-ntp false $ timedatectl set-time "yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss"
My keys are stored on an encrypted microSD card, which I mount and decrypt.
$ mkdir /mnt/sdcard $ cryptsetup luksOpen /dev/sda sdcrypt $ mount /dev/mapper/sdcrypt /mnt/sdcard
Next I’ll export a few environment variables to make things less redundant later on.
$ export YEAR=$(date +%Y) $ export PREVYEAR=$(($YEAR-1)) $ export GNUPGHOME="/mnt/sdcard/gpg/$YEAR-renewal/.gnupg" $ export KEYID="0x70B220FF8D2ACF29"
I perform each renewal in a directory specific to the current year, but the
GNUPGHOME directory I set for this year’s renewal doesn’t exist yet. Better create it.
$ mkdir -p $GNUPGHOME $ chmod 700 $GNUPGHOME
I keep a copy of my gpg.conf on the microSD card. That needs to be copied in to the new directory, and I’ll need to tell GnuPG what pinentry program to use.
$ cp /mnt/sdcard/gpg/gpg.conf $GNUPGHOME $ echo "pinentry-program /usr/bin/pinentry-curses" > $GNUPGHOME/gpg-agent.conf
After renewing the master key and subkey the previous year, I exported them. I’ll now import those backups from the previous year.
$ gpg --import /mnt/sdcard/gpg/$PREVYEAR-renewal/backup/peter\@havenaut.net.master.gpg-key $ gpg --import /mnt/sdcard/gpg/$PREVYEAR-renewal/backup/peter\@havenaut.net.subkeys.gpg-key
When performing the actual renewal, I’ll set the expiration to 13 months. This needs to be done for the master key, the signing subkey, the encryption subkey, and the authentication subkey.
$ gpg --edit-key $KEYID trust 5 expire 13m y key 1 key 2 key 3 expire y 13m y save
That’s the renewal. I’ll list the keys to make sure they look as expected.
$ gpg --list-keys
Before moving the subkeys to my Yubikey, I back everything up. This will be what I import the following year.
$ mkdir /mnt/sdcard/gpg/$YEAR-renewal/backup $ gpg --armor --export-secret-keys $KEYID > /mnt/sdcard/gpg/$YEAR-renewal/backup/peter\@havenaut.net.master.gpg-key $ gpg --armor --export-secret-subkeys $KEYID > /mnt/sdcard/gpg/$YEAR-renewal/backup/peter\@havenaut.net.subkeys.gpg-key
Now I can insert my Yubikey, struggle to remember the admin PIN I set on it, and move over the subkeys.
$ gpg --edit-key $KEYID toggle key 1 # signature keytocard 1 key 1 key 2 # encryption keytocard 2 key 2 key 3 # authentication keytocard 3 save
When I list the secret keys, I expect them to all be stubs (showing as
$ gpg --list-secret-keys
Of course, for this to be useful I need to export my renewed public key and copy it to some place where it can be brought to a networked machine for dissemination.
$ gpg --armor --export $KEYID > /mnt/sdcard/gpg/$YEAR-renewal/peter\@havenaut.net.public.gpg-key $ mkdir /mnt/usb $ mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/usb $ cp /mnt/sdcard/gpg/$YEAR-renewal/peter\@havenaut.net.public.gpg-key /mnt/usb/
That’s it. Clean up, shutdown, and lock the Armory up until next year.
$ umount /mnt/usb $ umount /mnt/sdcard $ cryptsetup luksClose sdcrypt $ systemctl poweroff