Outdoors, Green Living, Homesteading, Sustainable living, Green Building


Im a Columnist on Brink of Freedom

Brink of Freedom (dot net) is a new web site and community for survivalist and preppers (pioneers). Their main topics are Fire Arms, Tactical, Economics, Politics, Homesteading, Health and Wellness, Outdoor Activities.

I have about 8 articles there so far and will be publishing one per week every Friday.

Author Listing
My author page with a list of my articles thus far

Java Accounting Ledger V2

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I will work this article up over the next few days about The simple free accounting app version II. This project may be found at Source Forge Java Ledger Project

A simple free accounting app I wrote. is the first post about this app.
It describes the data files. I have not changed the data file format so I won’t repost that info here.

What I have done is in upgrading the console interface significantly. Now we have a screen that is 90 columns wide and about 40 rows long. Instead of scrolling the console you now use the arrow keys to scroll a table on the report screen. Escape exits the report screen.

I’m not sure what happened here but some of these screen shots were changed in the upload. At any rate they give you an idea of what the app displays for you. Keep in mind I’m writing this app for a programmer, me. And its functional at this point. I only reads two data files and then presents these reports.

You will notice some of these are blurry.This is because wordpress resized the images
to fit the articles column width. I made them links to the full size images, simply click to view in full size on any image. Also after you bring up the image you get a zoom mouse pointer, click again to get max size.

These first two are of a balance sheet for a single month.

These next two show a multi column balance report for 5 months.

The next two show chart of accounts.

The next 3 are a journal report for a single month showing day to day transactions.

The last screen shots are Ledger account reports for different accounts.

These last two are ledger account reports for same account different months.


After downloading the ledger.zip file from sourceforge unzip it in a temp folder.
You should already have Java installed and the system PATH variable set to include the jdk/bin folder. Google for that if you do not understand how to do that. I show here
the folder structure. I show changing directories to the accounting/bin folder. I then
list the .bat(batch) files. The batch files contain examples of command line commands for getting various reports. They also function to get certain reports as is by running them. First you must run the classpath.bat file which will setup the jcurses and jdom libraries for use. You must run that batch file first! Then in the bin folder you may
run any of he other batch files to generate reports.

Two of the batch files take arguments. ledger.bat and journal.bat. Ledger takes Month Year and account number in format mmmyyyy ###. journal.bat takes Month Year in format mmmyyyy. You can edit the journal.xml file and accounts.xml file. You can set it up for yourself and customize it for your accounting situation and use it as is.

I admit there are some things that still need to be fixed in the reports. However the data is accurate and useful.

Range Finding, Mil Dot, DuPlex (Plex) Reticle, Parallax, MOA.

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mil dot reticle

Mil Dot Reticle

I’m working on understanding scope adjustments and use. I had always thought mil dot stood for Military Dot Reticle System. Nope, it means Milli-Radians. A Radian is PI at 180 and 2PI at 360 degrees. Milli-Radian is 1/1000th of a Radian. Or it means that the image in the scope at 10x power is 1/1000th the actually size of the object. So a 1 meter tall target at 1000 meters is 1 mil dot tall. A 1 yard tall target at 1000 yards is 1 mil dot tall. A 1 foot tall target at 1000 feet is 1 mil dot tall. A 1″ target at 1000″ is 1 mil dot tall. A 1 cm target at 1000 cm(10 meters) is 1 mil dot tall.

Remember that is at 10 power. So 5x power and the target is now 1/2 mil dot tall. 4x power and its slightly less than 1/2 mil dot tall. A Mil dot at 100 yards is 3.6″ (1/10th of 1yd(36″) at 1000yrds) There is nearly 17 Mil dots in 1 degree and 1 degree is 60 MOA. Or there is .28 or close to 1/3rd mil dots in one MOA. And one MOA at 100yrds is close to 1″. 200yrds 2″ and so on. So you can see that once you get this straight in your head you can really fine tune your POI (point of impact).

Could a mil dot reticle be used for short ranges such as air gun ranges? sure. A table could be made to help you with this. I’m not totally convinced that my math is correct here. So check me on this. I made a spreadsheet as such. Mil Dot is 1/range/(%of10x*1000). % of 10x is power /10.  In this case 4 power scope.

foot mil dot range ft x power % of 10x
1 20.0 20 4 0.4
1 13.3 30 4 0.4
1 10.0 40 4 0.4
1 8.0 50 4 0.4
1 6.7 60 4 0.4
1 5.7 70 4 0.4
1 5.0 80 4 0.4
1 4.4 90 4 0.4
1 4.0 100 4 0.4
1 3.6 110 4 0.4
1 3.3 120 4 0.4
1 3.1 130 4 0.4
1 2.9 140 4 0.4
1 2.7 150 4 0.4

MOA is Minute of Angle or 1″ at 100 Yards. Actually 1.047″ at 100 yrds. My new BSA scope has 1/4 MOA adjustment for both windage and elevation. This means 1/4″ at 100 yards. So this would be 1/8″ at 50yrds or 1/16″ at 25yds.  I have decided to zero my Chinese air gun at 20yrds because it is shooting at only 420 fps. This gives me a kill zone from 4yds(12ft) to 22yds(66ft) of 2″ diameter.

Once zero is set it can be moved with the elevation adjustment. At 20yds 1″ is about 20 clicks. A person could also re-zero at 25yds, 30yrds and 15yrds noting how many clicks is needed to reach each zero point. However the ballistics and kill zone changes dramatically when you change the zero point. You really need to know at each 0 point how high the pellet will rise above the line of sight. Will also need to know where it drops a few inches below line of sight.

plex reticle

DuPlex Reticle

Above is a common reticle which can be used for range finding. This is the reticle on my BSA 4×32 scope. I have yet to find out specs for it such as MOA of the thick to thin line transition you see in the image. Or how many inches that is at 100yrds from left to right or up to down. Many of these scopes are 30″x30″ at 100yds. So with lack of proper information I may have to use empirical methods for figuring this out with my particular scope. Once I have done that I will publish the results here. This process should be simple enough. I will setup something with 1″ or 2″ marks on it at 100yds from viewing position. Then count the number of marks from center to left or whatever. Double the results.

Saying the inner cross hair boxes 30″x30″ at 100yrds that means a coyote at 100 yards would nearly fill the box. A crow 8″ tall would be half the distance from outer box to center of cross hair. If the crow is at 25yrds then it would fill the box top to bottom. Its a matter of ratios. Its also a matter of knowing the average sizes of the game you are hunting. Also one can range objects such as fence post, pop can, bottle or other refuse. Just about anything you already know the size of in the field of view. Then when game moves into that position you have a jump start on estimating its range.

Using Parallax adjustment to determine range.  I think this blog link can explain better than I so here it is     “Parallax and Scopes”. This BSA Air Gun Scope I bought has a parallax adjustment on the objective bell up front. It shows 7.5yds to 100yds to infinity. It has markings on it for ranges between 7.5 and 100yds. As that article suggest they probably are not accurate. Also the article says that on lower powers such as this 4 power scope and at closer ranges such as air gun ranges parallax is not a huge problem. This may mean it will be more difficult to use this adjustment in ranging targets.

Basically you change your gaze or focal point forward and back, this will cause some movement to appear in the reticle between the target and the cross hairs. If you notice this movement you have parallax and then can adjust the setting until there is no parallax. The markings on the bell adjuster will give you the range. Conversely if you know the range by some other method, then you can reach up and set it to that range and know that most of the parallax is removed. Also that article said that parallax has nothing to do with focus adjustments. My scope comes with a focus adjustment on the front.

Small Projects I want to do sometime (todo list)

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When will I get to work on these projects and complete them? Maybe never. At least I have time to make up a list. And these will require funds and tools as well.

  • charcoal maker
  • making activated carbon with salt solution and charcoal maker
  • homemade water filter with both charcoal and ceramic if possible
  • 5 gal charcoal foundry
  • wood gassifier  generator
  • steam engine generator
  • vacuum packer from car a/c compressor.
  • freeze dryer from 1/2 horse vacuum pump.
  • auto alternator welder
  • hydrogen welder
  • auto alternator power gen
  • wind powered water pump
  • ram pump
  • program the heat sensors with java and that phigits controller
  • Shaving horse
  • riving horse
  • foot powered wood lathe
  • log arch
  • boring machine
  • test: air cooling with pipes and ground, cost per btu to power fans
  • test: liquid cooling with ground and hand dug wells or other. geothermal. cost per btu to circulate liquid and operate heat exchangers.
  • home made wood cook stove using kwool and steel.
  • cob bread oven
  • brick wood cook stove and oven.
  • setup security system using linux and zone minder software
  • rotary inverter using auto alternator
  • solar oven
  • solar toilet
  • solar powered electric furnace for melting metals.
  • put a motor on a bicycle
  • two man and one man go cart
  • small plywood boats and canoes based on some plans I found on the internet
  • ethanol still
  • methane digester
  • solar water still
  • stove top water still
  • hand water pump single person operation
  • hand water pump larger volume double person operation.
  • solar hot water heater
  • rocket stove
  • rocket mass heater
  • wood drying kiln
  • sand forge
  • micro-hydro power
  • home made battery cells
  • fire piston
  • wood and leather below
  • veggie oil lamp
  • Tallow candles
  • astrolabe
  • soup can propane torch forge

PC Game Free Civilization

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Free Civ (Civilization)

This post is about my favorite free pc game Free Civ at http://www.freeciv.org
This is a free version of a game based on Sid Myer’s Civilization II. Which is a game I have also spent much time playing in the past. I bought and played Civilization IV as well and like it. I don’t recall a Civilization III. Another great game by Sid Myer was “Alpha Centauri” Which is “beyond Civilization” where mankind sets out to colonize a planet in the nearest solar system 16 light years away. I’ve spent many hours playing that one as well.

Alpha Centauri (example)

What do I like about these games? Well its the game play. I’ve heard folks say the graphics sucks. That all depends on your perspective. The graphics is light and the game play is heavy. This type of game is similar but more complex than board games of the past such as Chess, Risk, Axis and Allies to name a few. It plays exactly like a computerized board game. Imagine Chess with 100’s of pieces! Imagine instead of a board that is 8×8 one that is 64×64 or much larger. Instead of being played in an hour or so a free civ game usually can take days to play. And instead of 20 to 50 turns try 400 or more.

In the case of free civ the game board can be laid out in almost any configuration you have seen in board games. I go with the traditional Civilization Diamond shaped board. The diamonds give a slight isometric perspective that is psuedo 3D. I believe you can do square or hexagonal as well in the game options. One thing about free civ is that the game is highly configurable with many many options. In this post I’ll tell you about a few I like.

Civilization begins in the year 4000 BC and continues turn by turn up to as far as you can go but generally 2000AD and further. In the early years a turn is 50 years long and as you reach 1900 the turns are shorter in years at only 1 year per turn. This is why you can do 6000 plus years in only 400 turns. Generally the game is getting close to being over by 2000 AD and beyond where technologies are maxed and only a few players are left. In free civ all players begin in the stone age with basic stone age abilities. Though there are options which allow each player to begin with a few random technologies. However you will quickly find that if you do not manage research your nation will be left behind and conquered rapidly. If you do not research properly then you must ally with a nation that is on top to keep from being eliminated.

In Civilization you are the head of state and make all decisions for your nation and its progress. I’ve heard this type of game called a God game but I’d rather not call it that. You are playing an emperor, president, general, dictator, king etc. And in free civ you may choose your government over time. Each type of government has various benefits which affect the growth and management of your nation.

The city in free civ is a huge part of the game. City management can become quit a chore. The free civ writers have made a great effort towards AI(artificial intelligences) assistants called Governors. Use the governors wisely and it will make game play much more enjoyable. Though don’t trust them completely, often I have to alter them or turn them off. Also they tend to select items for production that I’d not prefer at the time.

The game has a great set of reports which I use constantly. Research, Cities, Nations, Demographics are among the most important. The others are sometimes useful. The Cities report is very important and allows you to perform batch operations on sets of cities. It allows you precise control of selections of sets of cities based on all kinds of criteria. Number one most important city improvement is ‘city walls’. As long as no enemy can get to you no walls are needed but once you are found the walls must come up. Walls will work well until far into the future tech. If you don’t know exactly what you are doing going up against a walled city is suicidal in the first 3/4’s of the game which is about the first 300 moves or up until about the 1800’s to 1900’s.

The world wonders that your nation may construct over time are incredibly important. And through each age different wonders are more important than others. Once one nation constructs a wonder no other nations may construct it. To name a couple Great Wall, Pyramids, Statue of Liberty, Eifle tower etc. Wonders take many turns to complete, into the hundreds. However there are three ways to construct them much faster. One is to disband more expensive units in the city which is constructing the wonder. The best way is to use trade caravans or trucks to help build the wonder but you must first research trade technology. The third way is to finish off the construction by buying it with money. Usually wonders are far too expensive to buy from the start however.

Each of the civ games had various units that over time change because they are obsoleted by technological changes. I am going to provide you with a spreadsheet for analyzing free civ units for defending and attack strength with given modifiers. freeciv.xls. In free civ terrain, roads, railroads, cities, forts, walls, fortification (different than forts ‘dug in or entrenched’), veteran status and situations affect units movement, attack and defend stats. Its good to learn these as you can. Different civ games have had different and interesting units and just because free civ has a given set doesn’t mean it couldn’t have other interesting types of units and game rules. The problem is that if you get too many types of units and too many rules the game is no longer a game but work. Still its interesting to play the different civ games to see different rules and units. For example I think Civ IV had slavery and slaver units.Alpha Centauri has a completely new set of space age units.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) in free civ is pretty good, however I often think the “Normal” AI is cheating, and I’m sure the harder AI’s are cheating. This is because cheating is a technique used by AI programmers to increase difficulty level. I think they cheat by giving production bonuses mainly. Or by reducing production time. However you may select before game play the AI level for each AI and let me suggest you begin with Novice or Easy AI for all of them. If you want however you can make one Normal AI then if in the game you get see that he is about to end it you can let that process go through and loose the game or you can change the AI level for that AI during the game play in the Nations report. Another way you can cheat is to save the game, then leave the game and load it back, just before you start you can take the strongest player over and start it up as the strongest player, then give his cities to your player, again save and leave. Then switch players and start again.
Why would I want to cheat? After playing a game for 10 hours or more its sad to realize that I don’t get to play with the advanced technologies and units. It seems you pass through certain ages and never get to do combat with the units of that age. So its a way of changing the scenarios.

In free civ there are many nations to choose from or you may let the computer pick one at random for your player on start. There are ancient nations and medieval nations and modern nations. You may even find aliens and smurfs in the list. The main thing that different nations do is give different flags and city names. In some versions of civ one nation may begin with different technology than other nations. The nation without the technology to start must research it or steal it with a spy.

Free civ has great support for network play between multiple human players over the net or otherwise. You may even notice to play solo you have to start the free civ server. I have not played it much this way however because its difficult to find another player that is online when I am and has the same time available that I have. Though let me say that two players might play for a couple of hours then one would save the game. I think the game can be restarted at a later time so that it could be played over multiple sessions. There is a version of free civ called “Long Turn” free civ where only one turn per day is run. This means that a single game will take a year or more to complete. I have not done this but it looks like an interesting alternative. Google for “Long Turn Free Civ” I think you have to sign up and wait for games to begin. You could be in multiple long turn games at once. In this type of game you are playing against all human players I think.

Free Civ has an extensive help system both in the game interface itself and online in a wiki at http://www.freeciv.org. Use them. There is more to the game that I have not touched on such as different Government types i.e. Democracy, Republic, Communism, Monarchy, Anarchy and more. And some of the games in the series have different governments such as Dictatorship and Fascism which free civ does not have. I didn’t talk about taxes, science and luxury and citizen happyness. One comment about money, for the longest I didn’t build markets. If you are having trouble with taxes and are in the red every round add markets and trade routes. You can’t always raise taxes to solve the money problems, though I think our modern politicians seem to think that’s the only answer.

Some improvements to the game that I’d like to see are grouping of land and sea and air units for mass movements. The only way you may do that currently is with a transport ship or a carrier. I’d like to see the ability to set one unit to follow another unit. They don’t have to catch up until the leader stops. Or even formations for sea, and air units where one leads. Also why can’t the APC unit carry 2 to 5 foot units. Why can’t a special helicopter or plane carry 2 to 5 foot units and the plane could carry a few mounted or mobile units. The flight carry is emulated with the air drop feature later in the game. I guess they didn’t want the follow thing because any unit set as leader then becomes a carry transport unit in effect. But when moving large numbers of ships and planes across the map it can become quit a chore during game play. So I’m not exactly sure what a good answer might be. I guess though when following a leader the terrain modifiers would still affect units differently meaning either the leading unit must slow or the other units must catch up. This might be a difference between transport and follow.

I didn’t talk about worklist and production list. But its easy to setup list of build items for cities. Another improvement I’d like to see is that when you hover population it will show number of cities, and number of all citizens.

I haven’t talked about shields, trade and food. Each square around a city produces shields which is used to produce units and city improvements and wonders. Food makes new citizens. Trade becomes gold, science and luxury. And there is much more to know about these three in various situations.

Some of the important up front game options you may set that I like are size of the map, and distance between cities. For the longest I liked large maps and cities 3 tiles a apart. But the your city list can become quit large and the management task can become overburdening. I now like cities to be 4 or even 5 tiles apart. This waste some of the map in unused tiles but it lightens the burden both the computer resources and the player. This brings another point on lower end computers fewer cities or smaller maps is better. Fewer players is better as well. I have experienced white outs of parts of the user interface and a computer AI taking forever to move 100 ships or planes or land units around. Sometimes the game interface even locks up. The answer is fewer players, smaller maps and more distance between cities. Another option I like is to be able to colonize single square islands. Though these may only be captured with a few unit types when attacking. There are options for varying the type of random terrain generated that I like to mess around with as well. That breaks up the monotony of playing on maps that look exactly the same all the time. Once you get the game going
go to the options, local client, overview, borders layer ‘on’. This is a nice option which shows the tile ownership in player colors. It helps you to locate enemies when they get down to only a few cities.

Also I’d like to see a stats panel that shows graphs for all kinds of information that you may add to the view. This will compare your civilization to the others over time. Similar to say Microsoft’s Age of Empires game. I think the game does log to a log file if you like. So a person could review a game stats if he made his own graphing app. Also free civ recently went to a Lua api for making game enhancements which might be good for mods such as this. I have not looked into it and I am not sure when I’d ever get such time to write a mod for it. This Lua api is used in other popular games such as World of Warcraft for mod writers.

You may at the beginning set up teams between you and other players or AI, these can’t be changed at all once set not even through diplomacy. For example you can pair yourself with a few novice AI and pit yourself and those AI against a Normal AI just for fun. Also if you want to see the full overview map click the vertical control on the left to detach it from the main window then drag it open until the whole map is revealed. Most of the time I have it this way and drag it around if needed.

Good luck and have fun.