Technology Musings

October 07, 2012

Amusing / A Review of Several Nerf and Nerf-Like Guns


Usually I don't splurge on things like Nurf guns, but our family was challenged to a dual, and I decided we needed to load up.  The kids had been saving money, so they all got to purchase their own gun, and so my only purchase was for my own.  Anyway, I thought I'd post what everyone bought and a short review of each of them.  Here's what we bought:

Below is a picture of all of the guns:

We bought these at Target, and none of them cost more than $25.  In fact, most of them were $10 or less.

The gun with the most "cool factor" was the Nerf Retaliator.  This gun is modular and therefore can actually be transformed into four different styles below:

If you remove the stock and the barrel, you get a very nice basic gun similar to a Skorpion (bottom right).  If you have a stock without a barrel, you get a gun very reminiscent of a UMP45.  If you have a barrel but no stock, it looks a bit like an MP5.  With all of the attachments, it could be really any assault rifle, but it most reminds me of an M4 or FAL.  Now, I should point out, this is pretty much all for show - I didn't detect any advantage of having a barrel attached - but it looks pretty intimidating nonetheless.  

The Retaliator fires well, and with a long range , but is *very* erratic.  In our battle with our friends, I'm not sure I hit *anyone* with this gun.  It is mega-cool, and shoots pretty far, but don't count on actually hitting anything.

The gun that actually shot the best was the Vortex Proton - and I think it only cost $9.  The Proton is one of Nerf's new disc-firing guns.  The disks are Nerf disks so they don't hurt.  However, the disks are *very* aerodynamic, so they actually fly straight!  The Vortex is a single shot, and it takes a little bit to load, but nonetheless I had the best success with it because it was so accurate!  I could be sure to know that the disk would fly exactly to where I aimed it!  The only drawback, as I said, was that it was a single-shot, and didn't even have a spot to hold additional ammo.  So, reloading was problematic because it took time, and fumbling around with ammo was difficult.  I think if you got a multi-shot version of this you would have an amazing gun!  

Another good gun is the Buzz Bee RADS 12.  This is a twelve-shot gun that you pull back on a lever to cock it.  It shoots decently and doesn't cost very much.  Overall I would say that it is a decent purchase, but my 5-year-old was the one to purchase it, and it took too much hand strength to cock the gun.  He could do it, but only if he held it on the ground with one hand and pulled with the other - not very helpful in a gun battle.

The worst gun was the Buzz Bee double-barrel shotgun.  This was not worth buying.  Here are the problems with the gun:


  • It takes a *lot* of effor to load the gun.  You have to pull it apart really hard, and it is not always clear when it is fully cocked (pulling it apart is what cocks it)
  • The bullets have to be loaded into "shells" (to make it more realistic).  This is just a hassle.  My son likes this, but it is unhelpful.
  • The shells eject when you pull apart the gun.  Again, this aims for realism, but doesn't help during a battle, and is just more pieces to get lost.  In fact, in this case, they actually seem to be actively trying to get lost.
  • It only holds two shots.  This seems pretty obvious for a double-barrel shotgun, but the fact that it takes so long to load makes this really problematic.
  • It doesn't shoot very far.  It's moderately accurate, but, really, it has an effective range of about 6-12 feet.

Anyway, my 6-year-old likes it because of the "realism", but I think that if we do too many more battles, he will realize the problems with the gun.

The next gun is the Buzz Bee Tek-3.  This is a tiny gun with three shots.  However, it does not auto-rotate the barrel.  Between shots, you must BOTH cock the gun AND rotate the barrel.  However, for a tiny gun, it packs a decent punch and is relatively easy to use.  At Target, they had a 3-pack for $6.  That's right, 3 guns for $6.  It makes a good backup weapon (like a boot gun).

Also in the picture is an older Nerf gun that we already had - I believe it is a Nerf Dart Tag Strikefire.  This is an old gun, but still shoots decently.  It is a single-shot, muzzle-loaded pistol, but also has holding spots for five additional rounds.  This original came with Nerf Dart Tag darts, but I think it can fire most anything.  It works really well as a simple, basic gun.

Anyway, if you are looking for Nurf or Nurf-like guns, I hope this review was helpful to you!


December 03, 2010

Amusing / Model Rocket Stuff


Playing around with model rockets this week.  I found that you could use crepe paper (or even cellulose wall insulation) for recovery wadding, and that loctite at walmart was a decent substitute for plastic cement.  There's also a link to make your own fire-resistant wadding here, but it looks like you have to pay for the content.

Also, while looking around, I found that someone even came up with a method of making homemade engines (also other sites here, here, and here - that last link also has info on homemade fireworks)!   That's pretty cool, but I don't think I'm ready for it yet.  Also a link for homemade igniters.  

Anyway, I think the only part of that I'm brave enough to try is using crepe paper for recovery wadding, but the rest sure is interesting!

September 29, 2010

Amusing / Why to Not Use Dreamhost for Important Sites


I host one of my sites on Dreamhost.  Dreamhost is very alluring, because of the number of features you get for almost no money at all.  The problem is, Dreamhost has the right to pull the rug out from under you with no warning.

I had spent hours trying to get my rails app to work under Dreamhost.  I had frozen Rails, specified which version of Rack to use, and a number of other tweaks.  Then, today, I go there, and I get the dreaded "Passenger Error".  I logged in, and tried to change some settings, and got nothing.  However, I noticed that the error message continued to display the same line numbers even though I had changed the file.  Wierd.

So I keep messing with it, and even start deleting files.  The errors *still* pop up, no matter which files I delete - it keeps the same filenames and line numbers even though the files no longer exist.  I had assumed that it just wasn't restarting, and maybe it had cached the files.  So I went looking for a force-restart thingy on the Dreamhost panel.

I didn't find one, but I found something else - Dreamhost had, without so much as an email saying so, moved me to a completely different server!  They left the files on the old server, but my domain was no longer pointed there.  Surprise!  I had been working on the wrong server altogether!

So, once I logged into the correct server, I was able to delete my frozen version of Rails, and unset my Rack preferences, and all was well with the world.  But who in the world switches apps to a box with a different configuration without notifying the customer!

If you want to know why you shouldn't buy webhosting for $5/month, this is it.

I'll probably still keep my account, but I'll stick with only having very-low-profile domains there.

June 01, 2009

Amusing / Risk Management Fail


From failblog:

fail owned pwned pictures

February 10, 2009

Amusing / This Friday is the Geek Apocalypse


See here.  On Friday, UNIX time will reach 1234567890.  This is, like, the end of the world :)

January 23, 2009

Amusing / Historically Bad Ideas in Programming


The QCon developer's conference this year has an interesting track - historically bad programming ideas.  However, I have to say that I'm actually a big fan of the null pointer, despite the issues that it gives some people.  The fact is, without null, nil, undefined, or 0 (depending on language), the actual task of programming would be much more difficulty.  And, I would argue, would cost more than the bug-savings that we would get from having non-null type systems.  In order to get around them you would have to write code that is more confusing and more time-consuming, and you might even wind up with the same set of bugs, just moved around slightly.

August 25, 2008

Amusing / How Not to Advertise Websites at Baseball Stadiums


See here.

August 21, 2008

Amusing / Nerd Shopping


From xkcd: