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Ask a Geek Anything Issue 10

Good morning, and welcome to Ask A Geek Anything, issue 10

The sort of column that would get us stoned by ISIS… Of course just about anything will get you stoned by ISIS, so I guess that isn’t much of a descriptor… We’ve been at this for ten weeks now, and we’re storing a couple more of the “all hands answer this questions, like last weeks, against future need, but we could use some more questions, if there’s anything that you wonderful readers out there are just dieing to ask.  (Seriously don’t die on us, just ask your question, we need the readers)

The first Question comes from Unpublished in Pittsburgh,  who asks: Indie publishing used to entail several steps and document conversions through different software programs. Has it gotten easier?

Well I actually had a small Publisher (, The Pymander Press.  Hi Guys!) So I’m going to let Declan Finn take this one… Take it away man…

Yes. Infinitely so. Go into something like Createspace, it’s a relatively smooth and streamlined process that is almost idiot proof. I say almost, because there is always a more perfect idiot out there. These programs will take internal pages in several ways, up to and including PDFs and plain old .docs. If you don’t mind scouring the document to make certain that the system hasn’t screwed up your book margins, you can post as a plain old document. If you want to have your margins and format set in stone, use a pdf. Also, something like Createspace has no problem converting to Kindle (though it’ll send you over to a different system, like Kindle Direct Publishing).

Thanks Declan, next up, Natty Bumpkin asks: What impact does barrel length on a rifle make? 

As the resident gun nut, I’m going to take that one…

Well Natty, it depends upon whether you’re swinging it or shooting it.  If I wanted to be a grammar Nazi, I would say it makes the rifle hit harder, because you have a larger movement arm when swinging the thing.  However, what I suspect you’re asking is “what impact does changing the length of a rifle’s barrel make on shooting performance?”

To a practical extent longer barrel equals higher velocity and more potential accuracy.  However I’m going to hedge my bets on that.  There’s a max length for each caliber beyond which you just aren’t going to get any further advantage in velocity… No I don’t have the table for that, and suffice it to say that with modern loads, you’re wasting your time going any longer than about 40 inches unless you’re shooting something in the major league sniper category (we’re talking 338 larpa, 50 BMG etc… here) Once you go too long, you’re actually loosing velocity to drag as the gas has expanded as much as it’s going to. (rule of thumb, if you’re shooting 6 inches plus of flame out the end of your barrel, you’re using too slow of a powder for the weapon barrel length you have)  Further, with longer barrels, unless they’re what’s called a “bull barrel” meaning a damn thick piece of steel, or a fluted piece of steel (the flutes on the barrel make the weapon act as if it was a barrel that thick, without all the weight) the longer the barrel, the more opportunity you have for:

operator induced vibration, (your shaky hands, sparky), Recoil induced errors (if the bullet takes a measurable time to leave the barrel, and you’re shooting freehand, you and the rifle may be traveling back and up from recoil before the bullet leaves the barrel.  More of a thing in Black powder than with modern, but still a factor), and harmonic resonance induced errors (the barrel will vibrate at a frequency dependent upon lock mechanism, chamber design and some stuff so esoteric that I would have to look it up.  By lock mechanism what I’m talking about is, if it’s a semi or full auto firing from from an open bolt, (that means the bolt doesn’t rotate and “lock” before the cartridge goes boom) the slam of the bolt is still generating vibrations down the barrel when the bullet is traveling down the barrel… Folks, this shit is all happening in micro or nano seconds, we’re talking almost nuclear explosion speeds.)  All of these and more, are more of an issue with longer barrels. So there’s a sweet spot for each cartridge and load, each stock mounting and lock type that is the most accurate.

Since most folks won’t buy a 40 inch barrel and cut off half inch lengths until they find the perfect barrel for their load, we instead find a load to match the barrel.  This involves loading a few rounds with the bullet that you want to use, at a guess on powder charge (by guess, I mean within the powder manufacturer’s recommended load weight range for the cartridge and bullet you’re using, and start LOW in that range!) and then increase the powder charge slightly, and load a couple more, and so on… Then taking them out to a range, and from the bench, try them out until you find the “sweet spot”… Generally you’ll see accuracy increase up to a point, then start to decrease… (I have a 700BX in 300WSM that’s the exception, it wants the hottest load I’m comfortable won’t blow up the rifle, the hotter the load, the more accurate the damn thing is, and since it’s capable of cloverleafing at 300 yards, that’s saying something)  for short enough barreled rifles and I mean we’re talking Class three weapons here, (what the BATFE calls a SBR or under 18.5 inches) you’re better off using pistol powder, but that’s really advanced gun-geeking, and if you don’t know EXACTLY what you’re doing you’re likely to blow your rifle up, and be picking pieces of it out of your skull, so DON’T.

OK, now that we’ve beat that to death, CMJwyrd asks: I am not a techie geek. (My DVD player is a combo-deal with a VHS player.) Can I play a Blu-Ray DVD in a regular DVD player?

And our lovely Amanda Fuesting answers: The short answer to this is no. The more detailed answer is that a DVD player can’t play Blu-Ray because Blu-Ray disks contain more information in a different format than a standard DVD. However, a Blu-Ray player can play a DVD.

OK, and we’ve built up enough questions, that I’m going to bring back the TLA section of AAGA, where we offer definitions for old school (or newfangled) words from Geekdom:

We’ll start with one of my all time favorites: TANSTAAFL!  This is a phrase coined by the late Great R. A Heinlein in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” which I listed last week as my all time fav SF&F.

literally, There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.  To break it down, back in Bob’s time there where Bars etc, that offered a “free lunch”… These were spreads on a table made up of Salty ass foods, smoked meats and cheeses, pickled things, crackers etc… All promised to make you thirsty… Then they jacked up the price of beer by a dime or two each to pay for the spread, and turn a little extra profit.

Figuratively (and I’m looking at YOU BARRY SANDERS) anything that’s “FREE” like, oh say: “College should be free”, or “School kids should all get free breakfast and lunch”, ISN’T FREE, someone is paying for it, and generally a lot more than if they just bought the stuff themselves.  RAH noted, and I’m putting this in my own words here, gold is a damn soft metal, and malleable…In fact, it’s SO soft, that a little rubs off on each hand that touches it… So the more hands it passes through on it’s way from the guy that made it, to the guy that is supposed to get the benefit from it, the less actually makes it there. by the time it passes from the workers hand, up through the tax collector to the tax accountant, to his boss, all the way up the federal chain, then all the way back down, from congress though the Secretary of Education… on down to the school cook that’s making those free lunches, well there isn’t much left of what originally was quite a tidy sum.

Well I need to get this out tonight so you lovely folks can see it in the morning after the editors clear up all my spelling and grammatical errors, so have a wonderful Friday, and we’ll see you next week.


About morrigan508

A retired submarine sailor and former cop, author of the John Fisher Chronicles, as well as a contributing author of the Otherwhere Gazette.

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