Rusty Divine

Live, Love, Learn, Teach

Public Access to Target Shooting in Lancaster County (near Lincoln), Nebraska

Update for 2015:

There are now some other options for target shooting in Lincoln Nebraska. Big Shots is a terrific indoor range, and Outdoor Nebraska has a really good brand new facility for archery and guns.

There are also some Wildlife Management Areas where you may be able to shoot – these are from 2012 so may be different/closed. Always look for the signs posted. Happy shooting:

WMAs

Branched Oak_Target Shootingolive creek_Target ShootingOsage WMA_Target ShootingPawnee WMA_Target Shooting

STAGECOACH_Target ShootingTWIN LAKES_Target ShootingTwin Oaks WMAWAGONTRAIN_Target ShootingWildwood_target shooting

/End 2015 update

I like going to the indoor range, Thunder Alley, in Lincoln. I hear that the Izaak Walton range just east of Lincoln is a great place, too.  But, sometimes I just want to shoot outdoors.

I’ve looked at the NRD website, and app, and cross-referenced with the Nebraska Game and Parks Outdoors site and their Guide to Hunting on Public Lands, 2011 and Public Access Atlas then checked which nearby areas allow at least some target shooting on a map I copied from Nebraska Sportsman’s Atlas, 1995.  I’ve also put a request for information into the Southeast Wildlife Manager listed in the Guide to Hunting Public Lands for more information.

There are only a few spots in Lancaster County, NE, that allow target shooting.  I haven’t ground-truthed any of these yet, but evidently there will be signs posted in areas that are off limits: Wildwood, Branched Oak, Wagon Train, Stagecoach, Olive Creek, and Teal Lake:


View Target Shooting in Lancaster County, NE in a larger map

LDNUG June 2012–Entrepreneur

 
 

Abraham Chavez (@RedPlasticSky) presented at the Lincoln Dot Net Users’ Group tonight about his experience starting his own business – http://mexrico.com.

Abraham’s one of those few people you meet who you might call a unique thinker because he makes an effort to form his own ideas and opinions and is interested in countering common wisdom.  He draws on his experience and on the seemingly many books and articles he reads to develop a way of thinking about life and work at a philosophical level, and then has the will to live that philosophy – a rare combination.

The presentation covered lessons learned in how to start a small unfunded business while you are still working 8-5 at your day job as a software developer.  Here are some of the ideas that he learned or that worked for him:

Pivot – be ready to change your business as you learn the market.  You may design something for one audience and find that it is not wanted there, but with a change of direction can be very desirable in another market.  It’s a good idea to anticipate this and to not try to do all of your design up front so that you don’t become too rigid.

Local – we usually think of putting our software or product out on the national market so that it reaches more people.  Abraham turned that idea on it’s head – there is less competition locally, and you can very easily network in person.  You can market your business as a local thing, and that really does lend a big hand.  Plus, if there’s a national company that does something similar, they may just buy you out so that they can capture the market in your town.

Snowball – sometimes starting small and simple, then pivoting, can lead to a snowball effect that takes you farther than you could ever imagine.  Think about how apple made an iPod->iPhone->iPad.

Constraints – have designers block?  Give yourself some constraints to boost your creativity.  Abraham gave a great example of using a grid with three dots on it.  Use the constraint that drawing your logo has to fit on that grid and has to include those three dots.  Giving your mind somewhere to start is so much better than looking at a blank page.

Reduce Complexity – be zen-like in all things: don’t give your customers too many options, it’s paralyzing (again, constraints are good).  If you don’t need something, get rid of it or don’t do it.  I really liked how Abraham’s business, mexrico, just did one thing: make and deliver tamales.  He started with 7 types, and reduced that to three.  You had to order 6 at a time.  It was so easy for customers – there’s no psychological weight – and it’s like the business model for Caine’s chicken fingers, it’s just drop-dead simple.  Man, I really want some tamales, now.

Out-Source – you can out-source and off-shore everything that isn’t core to your business and that you’re not great at.  Abraham shared a couple of his favorites that he used to get logo and graphic designs, and video, too: http://fiverr.com and http://asksunday.com.

And finally, for funding?  Abraham swears by contract employment.  He’s been able to find renewable 1-year contracts that pay very well and include benefits, although, he warns it isn’t necessarily a fun path, but it can provide you with the cash you need to get going.

No One Knows They Want Visible Solids in Their Spaghetti Sauce

I just listened to a wonderful talk by Malcolm Gladwell on how people think and what makes them happy.  The most important part to me as a software consultant, is that you can’t just ask people what they want – they won’t be able to tell you.  As a bonus, this talk explains why you have to choose from 14 varieties of vinegar and 47 varieties of cheese when you go to the supermarket.

Malcolm tells the story of how Dr. Moskowitz showed that there is human variability in human preferences.  If you ask most people what kind of coffee they like, you’ll hear an overwhelming number of people say something like “Dark, bold, strong”, when actually a third of people really prefer weak, milky coffee.

Dr. Moskowitz has shown that if you poll people for what they think they want, and then design your product around that feedback, you’ll end up with a sub-par product.  But, if you can separate out your data into targeted clusters and deliver a few variations, your variations will be raised in quality as experienced by the consumers or customers of that variation.

Nearly Everything I Know about How To Invest for Retirement

As a happy coincidence, a blog post's merit is in its brevity and equally a match is my knowledge of investing for retirement, but believe me when I tell you that I know more than I need to.  In fact, here is a great TL;DR (and if that’s too long, just buy this.)

The one free lunch in investing is asset allocation for diversification. 

“Oh, if that’s what’s for lunch, then you better be serving desert,” I hear you quipping, “Diversification? Really?  Do you think we haven’t heard that old song before?”  Well, I hope you have, but I want to make sure you know about the subtle trick that actually makes it work.  If you don’t know this one facet, you will be missing out on incredible opportunities and merry piles of cash.  Those big shots on Wall Street aren’t going to tell you this – they want to keep it all to themselves!  But, you can have this one vital piece of information for the low, low price of three easy payments of $19.95!  Or, just keep reading.

What’s My Number?

Your asset allocation, or the percentages of classes of stocks and bonds you invest in, depends on your proximity to retirement and your risk aversion level.

Are you within 10 years of retiring?  Then start getting out of stocks and into bonds.  The stock market is too volatile to be risking a major downturn.

Does losing 15% or more of your savings in a year make you either queasy or want to punch a dolphin in the mouth?  Then stick more to bonds and index funds of US stocks, like VFINX.

Otherwise, split your asset allocation between these classes of investments (in general order of riskiness, but put some in each):

  • Domestic Bonds
  • Global Bonds
  • Large Cap Domestic Stocks
  • Small Cap Domestic Stocks
  • International Stocks
  • Real Estate Funds (REITS, e.g.)

As a 30-ish, somewhat risk-averse investor, my asset allocation is 10%, 10%, 30%, 30%, 15%, 5%.  If domestic stocks are the meat of this free lunch, then real estate funds are the spice that makes it nice.  I guess that makes bonds the potatoes - don’t fill up on those, and international stocks the wine, complete with their share of headaches.

How to Spread it Out

Between you, your spouse, and all your previous jobs and their potentially lingering retirement accounts, you likely have a lot of options on how to make your asset allocation.  I try to keep things simple by sending my previous jobs’ retirement funds into a Vanguard retirement account because they have some of the lowest management fees around.  I also use that Vanguard account to save any extra money on top of what I’ve put into my current employer’s plan, making sure that I at least get their matching contribution.

I have a 2-year old son who I’d like to see go to college some day if college is right for him.  The way college savings accounts are setup, it makes it risky to invest in those until you are sure that your child is actually going to go to college.  A better option is to fund a Roth IRA, which you can do at Vanguard, because at any time and any number of times you can withdraw the money you have put in without any penalty or reason necessary.  If I put in $5,000 for 10 years and it grows to $80,000 in that time, I can take out some or all of my $50,000 without any penalty or any reason necessary.  Pretty sweet deal!  Keep in mind, though, that it may be a better financial investment to do the tax deferral of a 401k or similar rather than the after-tax of the ROTH.

In general, look for funds with both low management fees (under 1%, many of Vanguard funds are under 0.2% because they are software-managed)  and a 4-or 5-star Morningstar ratings.  An R-squared of 90 or higher can be a good sign that the fund is not volatile in comparison to the benchmark, which would be 100.  You can find some of this information on Google Finance and Morningstar, including information on how to fit them into your asset allocation (more on this below).

Too much to handle?  Hire a fixed-price financial advisor for a consultation.  The advisor should charge somewhere around $1,000 or less and meet with you at least twice.  The advisor should help you determine your asset allocation and look at all the funds you have in your retirement accounts to help you pick the best ones.  You will learn a lot from a good advisor!

Tracking Your Investments

Now that you have picked your investments you may want to track how they are doing and how well your actual asset allocation is tracking against your goal. 

I can tell you one frustrating thing from experience – you cannot tell how well your investments are doing from your brokerage reports.  They seem to intentionally make it impossible to see a simple year-to-date yield percentage because they show just how much your investment has grown over time, including your contributions!  Well, that looks great, but I want to know how much they have earned me!  Of course the account has gone up in over-all value, you nit-wits, I’ve been putting money into it!

In order to calculate an accounts Gain in dollars (Gain = Market Value – Contributions) and Total Return % Year-to-Date, I use Microsoft Money Plus Deluxe (Sunset Edition) [For Windows 10+ you'll need to put this file into the folder C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Money Plus\MNYCoreFiles] It’s now free because MS has stopped supporting the software.  When you sign in, just check the box to sign in offline.  They have somewhat debilitated the Investing menu – it just takes you to a web page instead of getting you to the investing tool you’ll need.  So, click on the “Shortcuts” icon in the tool ribbon, and then add “Portfolio” to your shortcuts (the View should be selected “Custom”).  Then, a Portfolio menu button should appear in your tool ribbon, and you’ll be able to use that to enter your accounts, funds, and prices.  You can configure your columns so that the grid shows your cost basis, gain, and TR.  This warrants another blog post in itself, but feel free to drop me a line with questions about it.  (As an aside, I also use Money to manage my checking and savings account balances.  My bank – US Bank – lets me download transaction data in Money format and I just import it right in)

I created a spreadsheet to calculate my actual and goal asset allocation.  The Accounts are entered in column A, and their funds in column B and symbols in C.  The account total is then entered in D. Skip column E for the moment, and put select a cell in column F.  Now, click Tools > Goal Seek and set the “To Value” to the market value of that fund, then set “By Changing Cell” to Ei where i is the row you are in.  That will set the value of column E for you so that you don’t have to calculate it.  Then I check Morningstar to figure out the asset allocations inside of the fund and fill out columns G through L.  Column M can be left alone, it should add up to 100%.  In row 26, you can enter your goal asset allocation.  The spreadsheet will calculate the actual asset allocation, compare it to your goal, and then tell you in row 28 how much money you need to withdraw (positive numbers) and move into other classes (negative numbers) in order to meet your goal.  (I need to create an app that does this for you, but when I do I’ll ask for money – so enjoy this spreadsheet while you can!)

The Big Secret

OK, now it’s time for the big reveal.  This is the one key thing you need to know about asset allocation to make it work for you: Rebalance Quarterly!

Rebalancing may sound obvious, but there is a subtle trick to it that saves you from your own emotions – it forces you to sell high and buy low.  Imagine it’s time to rebalance and your Large Cap Domestic funds have done really well, but your International Stock is in the pits.  Well, you’re going to have to sell some Large Cap Domestic to buy some International Stock in order to bring the balance back into line with your asset allocation.  Don’t think about it, just do it!  I know it can be hard, but it really works [citation needed :)].

Investments_template.xls (25.00 kb)

Entity Framework (EF) Migrations–Quick Cheat

This isn’t quite a cheat sheet, but it is a quick reference to the workflow for using EF Database Migrations.

I’m also using MvcScaffolding on my controllers with the –Repository flag to stub out my controller, views, and repository.

 

EF_Migrations

Calculating Running Totals using TSQL in SQL Server

The fastest method I’ve found of calculating running totals in tsql is to use a temporary table.

--Create a temporary variable
declare @RunningTotal money
set @RunningTotal = 0

--Setup a results table
declare @results table(RowId int, CustomerId int, TransactionDate date, TransactionType varchar(50), 
    Reference varchar(50), Amount money, DaysSince int, RemainingAmount money, RunningTotal money default 0)

--Insert everything except the running total
insert into @results(RowId, CustomerId, TransactionDate, TransactionType, Reference, Amount, DaysSince, RemainingAmount)
SELECT  
    row_number() over (order by art.Date, ardt.Name),
    art.CustomerId,   
    art.Date, 
    ardt.Name AS [Transaction Type], 
    case IsNull(art.Reference,'') when '' then art.DocumentNumber else art.Reference end as Reference, 
    art.Amount,
    datediff(d, art.date, getdate()) daysDiff,
    art.RemainingAmount
FROM         
    dbo.ARTransactions AS art INNER JOIN
    dbo.ARDocumentTypes AS ardt ON art.ARDocumentTypeId = ardt.ARDocumentTypeId
WHERE     
    (art.CustomerId = @CustomerId)
    and (art.RemainingAmount <> 0 or datediff(d, art.date, @StatementDate) < 30)
order by
    art.Date, 
    ardt.Name

--Now, update the running total using our temp variable
update @results
set @RunningTotal = RunningTotal = @RunningTotal + RemainingAmount

--Return the results
select * from @results order by RowId

WASP-B Trap Shoot League, Nebraska

2012 WASP-B Schedule

Here is the 2012 WASP-B schedule. You can come shoot at any one of these even if that’s the only shoot you decide to try.

April 15: Bellevue

May 27: Nebraska City

July 8: Valley

July 15: Ashland

August 12: Lincoln T&S

September 2: Papillion

September 16: Finals at Bellevue

 

Ed Divine

Mom_Dad_HouseMy father, Ed Divine, was an avid trap shooter.  When I was a young boy, I’d play “army” with the silver and golden men shouldering their shotguns that he had taken off the trophy pedestals won over the years, many before I was even born.  He enjoyed loading his own shotgun shells and had worked for a time for Western Gun and then Pacific Tool Company (of Pacific Reloader fame) before it was purchased by Hornady.

Each summer for over 40 years he would shoot in the WASP-B trap shoot league (WASP-B => Wahoo, Ashland, Seward, Bellevue; I believe).  He often said that the WASP-B was a little like a secret society because you almost had to know someone who shot the league who could tell you how to get to all the different trap clubs that are scattered around southeastern Nebraska.

He taught me to shoot, and my mom, too, and now we carry on the tradition each year.  This post is dedicated to his love of the sport of trap shooting, and I hope he would be proud to see that I am trying to help others find their way into this still hard-to-find league.

 

WASP-B League

WASP-B Trap Shoot

Each summer there are six regular shoots, and one prize shoot.  The location of the first shoot each year is also the location of the finals shoot, and it rotates to a different club each year.  Each shooter picks a club to shoot for, and that club is responsible for handing out any special prizes for its best-in-class shooters.  All ages are welcome; the WASP-B league is really a learning league for folks of all skill levels.  It is very low-pressure and forgiving to newbies – a great place to try out the sport and meet some other shooters.  You can shoot at just one, or two, or however many you want, and you don’t have to pre-register; just show up.

 

What to Expect

A typical trap shoot day begins at 8am on the Sunday of the shoot, although you can show up anytime up until 3pm to shoot.  First, you find the club house and the folks taking the dues (cash or check only) [Note: don’t bring your gun into the clubhouse, and when you are carrying it around keep the action open and unloaded].  If you’ve shot before, you’ll have a registration card with your name and class on it (if not, ask them how to sign up).  Show the card to the folks and pay your shooting fee (as of 2012 it is $11 per shoot).  They’ll mark you down on a sheet with up to four other shooters; the group of you is called a “squad”.  You may get to pick your post (your starting position), and if you are new to the sport pick any post except post 1, because that post is the squad leader who has a few minor responsibilities.  They’ll also tell you your “house” or “trap”, which is the number of the low box on the ground where the blue rocks are slung out from.  You can ask them how much wait-time to expect, they usually know if you need to hurry and get your gun or not.

Most of the clubs have a sign for which squad is shooting, and which squad is on deck, and most of the clubs have 5 or more squads shooting at the same time, so usually you won’t have to wait for more than one squad to finish.

When your squad is up, take your position at the 16-yard mark (the closest to the trap house) on the post your name marked by when you paid.  There will be a score keeper who sits back a ways from the 16-yard who has the sheet and can tell you your spot if you forgot.  Don’t put more than one shell in your gun, and generally don’t close your gun until the person to your left has fired.  When it’s your turn, shoulder your gun, sight it around the top of the trap house, and say, “banana” and watch for the rock to fly.  (Ok, actually it is more common to say “Pull” or “Yaaaaa” than “banana” – there are voice-activated automatic rock throwers at all the clubs now, so say whatever you like, but draw it out long and low so they pick up on your voice) 

Limit your movements – try not to be turning around or bending down a lot, it’s distracting for everyone else on the line.  Each shooter takes turns shooting once, then you repeat until you each have shot five shells.  At that time, you all move to the next post to your left and the score keeper calls out how many rocks you broke out of the last five.  Once you shoot at all posts, 25 shots total, you take a break and go back to the gun stand to get another box of shells ready.  After about 5 minutes, you come back to the post you started on and shoot another 25.  And then your done!  You can go home at that point, but I’d recommend getting some pie and a cup of coffee before you go.

100_0536On the final shoot of the year you will be assigned to a 25-person group that is also called a class.  Don’t confuse this class with the class listed on your card, it is just the group’s designation.  It does, however, indicate how well you’ve done that year because the 25 shooters with the best season average go into class A, followed by the next 25 in class B, and so on.  The good news is that if there are say 13 classes (A to M, say), then there will be 13 prize tables with nearly identical prizes.  So, you are competing with people within your range where the person in your class that day who gets the best score gets to pick their prize first, followed by the second best, and so on.  I think they sometimes have shoot-offs, but it may be for best overall or best veteran – I’m not sure, and I’ve obviously never been in one!

Defeated BrowserQuest

 

Just spent a fun hour playing Mozilla's new HTML 5 retro MMO game, BrowserQuest (more info).  They are using node.js to do web sockets, which allow them to communicate bi-directionally between the browser and the server.  Since it's just HTML5 and Javascript, you should be able to play it on your mobile phone, too.

After playing for about 30 minutes, my browser (Chrome) crashed and I had to restart my computer to get my mouse pointer back.  I was relieved that BrowserQuest also uses HTML 5's local storage, so I was able to pick up the game right where I left off!  

And, of course I had to play until I won (that's me below after defeating the final boss)!

 

Win7 Auto-login via Registry

I sometimes need to setup a computer to automatically login to windows on restart.  Here's how to do this:

 

  1. regedit to  HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\winlogon
  2. set AutoAdminLogon to 1  to turn it on
  3. set or create the strings for:
    1. DefaultUserName
    2. DefaultPassword
    3. DefaultDomainName

IP Address and Domain Restrictions - IIS6 and IPv6

I have a WCF service running on an IIS 6 server that I wanted to restrict access to.  I have one outside domain that has a static IP address, and one internal website that uses the service.

When I checked the IIS logs to see what IP addresses were hitting the service, I saw the expected external IP address, but for the internal address it was in the form of IPv6.  I wanted to use IIS' "IP Address and Domain Restrictions" tool, but IIS 6 does not support IPv6 with this tool (although it looks like IIS7 does, sort of).

The IPv6 in the log file results from a web site installed on the same box as the WCF service that references the WCF service.  So, in the web.config the service reference was something like: http://abc-server/myservice.svc where "abc-server" was the name of my server.  When I changed this to the IP address of the server, like this: http://192.168.111.12/myservice.svc then the IIS logs showed that the internal website was using the IPv4 address instead of the IPv6 one.

At that point it was fairly straight forward.

  1. Open IIS, select the website with the service to protect
  2. Open the IP Address and Domain Restrictions
  3. Add Allow entries for both the external IP address and the 192.168.111.12 internal address
  4. Open the "Edit Feature Settings" link in the right side and select "Deny" for "Access for unspecified clients"; don't check the "Enable Domain Name Restrictions" since we're using IP addresses