Modern Spartan Systems – Long Term Testing Update – The Snake Gun

Numbers don’t lie so if you want to see those numbers, scroll down and check ’em out.

Definitely seeing a velocity boost evolving during the treatment phase. Looks like SD’s are growing but we won’t know the long term trends on this for another week as there are more shots to fire. Treatment phase is 5 sets of 5 shot groups. Between each group we apply a very light coat of MSS Accuracy Oil down the bore on a patch wrapped around a brush. That pulls the carbon out pretty well and puts another layer of their crazy effective lubricating oil down the bore.

This test data shows 50 rounds of history gathered during bench-rested zero-checking, load development and grouping data collected over the last year with me not cleaning the bore at all on my heavily customized, Columbia River Arms barreled Mossberg MVP .223 followed by another 25 rounds of very recent history from last weekend’s testing with MSS’s cleaning system being used.

Avoiding much discussion of velocities we can look at group sizes. This rifle with this load has been a pretty consistent 1-1.5MOA rifle. It doesn’t like this load, never has, and that has annoyed me because it should be a killer load. During the testing and doing the Accuracy Oil re-application treatments I saw very consistently that the first shot was wild, then the 2nd-5th shots gradually closed in on each other finally ending with shots 4-5 stacking on top of each other. Overall group sizes started at 1.2MOA and by the end of the initial Accuracy Oil treatment plan had reduced to a very nice group under .7MOA with the last 3 shots touching and the first 2 just slightly off that cluster (could have been shooter error but I doubt it). This behavior was consistent from the first string to the 5th string. I have not cleaned the barrel after shooting. I did run a patch down the bore with Accuracy Oil on it though. Before shooting next time we’ll run a few dry patches down the pipe to make sure it’s completely dry and then we’ll see what happens.

Each string below represents a 5-shot set with statistics reported for the string. This load has slowly evolved over the last couple years with a little OAL and a little powder being added between string 1 and string 9. I stopped messing with the load spec after string 9 because I just wasn’t shooting the gun. Now I’m sticking with that practice while we finish up our testing. 75 rounds in to the testing we’re seeing definitely trend line activity but we’ll save the analysis and conclusion drawing until we have more data.

So what do you think? Will this trend continue? Will it even out? Will it reverse? We shall see.

Note: This is not one of my match loads. This is a load I never shoot in competition because it’s not been consistent enough. I’ve wanted to do a little more work on it because it’s a really mild load with long legs. I chose this load because it’s not a one-holer out of the gate so we have some room to see if MSS’s claims are worth taking seriously. So far, they’re at least intriguing.

Stay tuned!

Modern Spartan Systems Discount & Testing Update

Back here in the Meccastreisand armory and man cave, Coach and I have been busy cleaning the entire armory in preparation for a wild thrashing head to head test of Modern Spartan Systems firearm cleaning and lubrication products against the old standby of Hoppes #9 & Sweet’s 7.62 and RemOil. While we’re busy doing that we’ve lined up a special discount for our loyal readers to make your holiday self-gifting a little more pocketbook friendly. Head on over to http://modernspartansystems.com and use code BCLEAN19 to get a 10% discount on your order.

We’re going whole hog with this test. We’ve got the important baseline data gathered in the form of our score cards from each competition we enter. We’re going to be looking for how we do in matches, not just on the sighting bench (the occasional sighting bench will be used however). We’re going after some interesting questions. The question that really matters, “How will using this product actually affect my life?”.  That breaks out into two areas: Time and Targets Hit. In the end it all boils down to those two things. How much life you have to not live in order to take care of your guns so they work for what you want them to do and how many more times will you hit your target than you used to?

For black powder cartridge guns, will MSS Accuracy Oil help prevent the build-up of carbon fouling that makes us have to clean the chamber half-way through a match? Will that make us more consistent shooters in the back half of match? Will not having to clean mean fewer POI changes? How many points is this worth in the real world? So we’ll test using a .45-70 Trapdoor Springfield rifle. An actual antique. We know that after 30 rounds it starts getting plain old difficult to get a round in it due to fouling build-up. Will we be able to make it to 40? Could we stretch it to 50? When it does come time to clean is it going to be a brush job or a mop job?

Beyond the mindset shifting, how about not having to go into the back half of a match with the rifle shooting differently than it had been? After you clean them they take a few shots to foul-in, so to speak. A clean rifle will usually shoot to a different point of impact than a lightly fouled rifle. How will this new cleaning suite do for us? If we get away with not cleaning in the middle of the match and the rifle is then shooting consistently how will that affect our scores?

We hypothesize that not cleaning will mean not rushing around between relays and that’ll mean up to about 3 more points since we won’t have to break out of our shooting mindset to go clean the rifle. We also hypothesize that not having the mid-game cleaning in play means we should be able to pick up 1-3 additional points. If either or both of those actually happen I know that success is infectious and we’ll feel the effect. When we’re on a hot streak we’ll usually pick up a point or two just on the think-good-do-good principle.

These same principles apply to the other guns we’ll be testing against. With pistols, will my Glock cycle our handloads just a little bit smoother? We load that ammo the way we do knowing full well that it occasionally presents us with type 1, 2 and 3 malfunctions which provides a very useful surprise malfunction clearance drill to keep us sharp. With our long range precision prone guns will we pick up that elusive 3-5 points that haunt our scores but rarely show themselves? Will it take fewer, the same number or more shots to get the rifle to settle down after cleaning? Will we get smaller groups? Will velocity spreads be affected? How about those mystery flyers?

What will happen with our rimfire silhouette rifles? Will our scores increase? We’ve been shooting within 3% of our current scores for about 2 years now. Admittedly we don’t get nearly as much practice as we used to so each match we start pretty well cold anymore. Will my M1 Carbine feed smoothly without that mid-magazine malfunction? How will my shotgun react? Will I finally be able to get that last bloody target and run a clean round?

Well, better lubrication makes things work more smoothly that’s for sure. Lubrication that lasts is a great thing and might as well be a ghost for all the luck I’ve had up till now trying to find. Cleaning products are a whole bigger thing. Anything strong enough to be effective is likely to be strong enough to damage the steel we’re trying to clean. It’s also likely to be toxic as all get out. Will MSS’s cleaning regime be easier on the elbow grease?

Right now we don’t know. We’re stripping and cleaning everything we have right now to get them all back to unfouled dry metal. Once that’s done we’ll go out and get them dirty again. We’ll track groups and velocities to see how long they take to settle down. Then, we’ll clean them again but this time with MSS’s goodies and then we’ll use their metal conditioning protocols and see what changes in the form of velocities and groups as well as in terms of what happens to our scores in real competitive match shooting situations and in our training regime.

So, yes there will be math and we will get a quantitative analysis. There will also be real world results which are qualitative by definition but which lead to quantitative results that can be fairly measured against prior data. Stay tuned.

Coach & Mecca’s New 6XC Rifle Build – The Saga Begins In Earnest

I guess we could call this “The Log’a of the Saga”.
My coach and I are building new rifles for next years’ match season. We put a year on our last set of pipes and those wore well and got coach into the sport. The game we’re playing with these is styled after PRS but we have prone, obstacle and PRS classes available. Prone is prone only but you can shoot from obstacles if you want. Obstacle is PRS style but with more time than normal PRS matches would allow and usually simpler requirements for moving around the obstacles. PRS is short time and more complex courses of fire from the obstacles. We only get one shot at each target and it’s hit or miss. All this is done on a brutal course you have to walk and the winds are mostly unreadable.
We’ve been pulling top-10 to top-5 finishes very consistently as a team for the last year and we’re looking to try to dominate this year with nothing but top 5 finishes. Part of our strategy is; since we operate as a proper team, to have identically chambered rifles with identically performing loads so we can share rifles, data and the carrying of the load. We can share a rifle for each match and save half of the humping of rifles along the course as well as getting what amounts to a second shot at each target because of the sharing of the rifle. If the first shooter misses, we’ll know how far and why and be able to correct for the second shooter. It’s not cheating, it’s adapting. Nothing says we can’t share a rifle.
I got my ExactShooting.com (check these guys out, they’re amazing) custom sizing die with the custom neck bushings for 6XC. We tried that die on Coach’s existing rifle in 6XC but the combination of the gun being stupid accurate to begin with, the brass having a huge number of fires on it already and the barrel nearing the end of its life meant that we didn’t see any statistically interesting difference going from a Redding neck die to the Exact Shooting die. So, I got us 2 new barrel blanks and a new custom made chamber reamer and a big sack of new 6CX Norma brass from Tubb along with a big bucket load of 115gn HBN coated DTAC’s. We’ll be using an M24/MTU type barrel profile with a finished length somewhere around 25-26 inches.
My die came with a series of bushings which we spec’d for a chamber that requires very slightly turning the outside of the case necks and provides for minimum working of the brass between firing and sizing. We’ll also be running zero headspace to a new case. After firing we’ll bump the shoulders back .0005″ to assure smooth chambering with even bolt closure pressure. Neck bushing diameter selection lets us size the necks in .0005″ increments from .005″ neck tension to .003″ neck tension.
I dropped off the barrels and our actions to the gunsmith last week and went over yesterday to verify that everything was righteous. The smith had them set up with dual point indication on the lathes and showed me that everything mic’d out as it should. He showed me his lathe setup which was very satisfactory. With spuds in each end of the barrel set up on dial indicators I gave the chuck a spin and with the dial indicators set up 29″ apart we got 0 readable change on the dials (you could see a subtle shimmy but not enough to read). Ok, that’s up to snuff.
The barrels we’re using are from Columbia River Arms, formerly Black Hole Weaponry. They’re polygonal rifled 3-groove .243 pipes. I got my reamer from PTG and as it turns out, the pilot that came with the reamer is .002 under size so the first complication has already hit. These barrels don’t have conventional lands. In fact to the naked eye you can’t really tell at this bore size that it’s not a plain ol’ cylinder, so the bushing size issue was something that was anticipated. So, we begin the 3-4 week wait for a new set of pilot bushings if I can’t find another shooter to loan/rent/sell one to me.
In the meantime I need to figure out what theme my rifle will take on for this barrel. I could continue with the hot dog theme but I’m thinking Mega Man 8: Dr. Wily’s Island. I do something goofy with each rifle I build. So far I’ve done two coral snakes, a hot dog and a bowling ball. Weird finishes get in the heads of other competitors and make it easier to pick out my rifle from the racks full of nearly identical rifles whose only usual differentiating factor is the optic the owner put on theirs. Coach has the only rifle in the rack with a classic wood stock.
My Current Rifle (Hot Dog Gun):
[IMG]
Coach’s Rifle:
[IMG]
Mega-Man 8 Barrel & Chassis Finish:
[IMG]

6XC Build, Modern Spartan Systems Product Test, Exact Shooting Die 1st Results

I got my Exact Shooting sizing die and Coach and I tried it out against his brass on his existing 6XC match rifle (below). It’s a thoroughly customized Savage 110 that looks as much like a hunting rifle as it could without being anything like a common hunting rifle. It’s been blueprinted and fitted to a custom stock set up for metallic silhouette competition. You may have trouble seeing it but there’s a very vertical pistol grip with a pronounced palm swell, a very high Monte Carlo cheek piece and a wide fore-end all tightly bedded to the 110 action. It sports a single shot sled and a very rare Canjar single-set trigger. Up top is a US Optics SN3 3.8-22×44 MOA ERGO parallax optic. This bad boy has over 1300 rounds through it and is still going strong but we have to assume it’s got only so much life left. In testing with the Exact Shooting sizing die we discovered that his brass was so highly variant between Lapua 6XC and fireformed RP .22-250 cases and number of firings that we weren’t getting the consistency needed to show any difference on paper or on the chronograph. The thing grouped one-hole to begin with and we were in single-digit SD’s anyway so no surprises there. That said, what we had noticed was its tendency to throw random flyers off quite a few minutes of angle during matches and we had no identifiable cause for it other than the brass or shooter error.

We set up his brass to run .003″ neck tension and .0025″ and .0035″ an found no useful differences on paper. That’s using a .2645, .265 and .2655 bushing with his old brass. When the new brass came in the necks were thicker and so we had to neck turn but that’s getting ahead of things. Thankfully the Exact Shooting die comes with several bushings in .0005″ increments so setting neck tension extremely precisely is as trivial as measuring and selecting a bushing.

In tracking his scores, we see that Coach went from 16-24% to 35% just by changing from his 6.5BR running a Vortex Viper PST scope to the 6XC with a US Optics SN3 scope. Prior to sizing his brass with the Exact Shooting die his scores were peaking at 35%. After we started using the Exact die his scores didn’t shoot up very dramatically if you’re paying attention to the raw score thought they did increase by several hits. But, when you break it into percentages and track that month to month you can see a real difference. The first match on the new dies he scored 46.6%, the second match was 55%. Next month we’ll get a third set of results. His average fluctuation in scores from match to match when there’s no equipment change is +/-6%.

So, when we get off of analyzing paper targets and into match conditions the difference is 11.6%-20% improvement in score from not using the Exact die to using it. That’s far enough outside his average fluctuation that we can regard this as statistically relevant and significant because the ONLY change that’s been made is what die we’re using to size his brass. It’s also showing sign of an upward trajectory that we may not have found the far side of yet. If he shoots 60-65% next month that will be a sure sign.

Coach setting up for stage 2. Scotty and Meccastreisand spotting and keeping score.

Now I’ve got 2 new barrels in from Columbia River Arms. 27 inch blanks in 6mm with 1:8 rifling twist on 3-land polygonal Caudle type rifling. We’ve got a custom chamber reamer being cut which will keep brass at minimum dimension. We’ve got new brass that’s been neck turned to fit the new chamber and we’ve got Coach’s old barrel to do initial load development with so we don’t send any shots we don’t need to down the new barrels.

A pair of blanks and a custom reamer gets 2 identical chambers.

At the same time, because we’ve got 3 barrels in 6XC that will be available we’ll be testing some cleaning and lubrication products from Modern Spartan Systems. I’ve seen their Timken bearing race friction test and was surprised enough to give them a shot. Coach & I will be running one test which is to recondition his existing 6XC barrel using their product line and see what that does on paper as well as under match conditions. We’ll also be leaving 1 of the new barrels untreated and running the other barrel with the Modern Spartan Systems cleaning and lubrication products. I can hear you objecting now saying stuff about Coach and I being different shooters so how will we know and blah blah. Well, the reason we’re building 2 identically performing and identically chambered rifles is so that we can bring only 1 rifle to a match, splitting carrying it and being able to improve our scores by having effectively a follow-up shot on every target. That will cause a bump in our scores right away so we’ll test that with Coach’s existing 6XC to get an idea of what a second-strike opportunity does to our scores.

Testing on the old rifle illuminates the gain we’ll get from sharing a rifle. Sharing a pair of rifles with only one major difference (use of MSS products or non-use of them) and switching back and forth from one match to the next gives us the ability to clearly see what the cleaning and lubrication does for us over and above the sharing of a rifle. Looked at over several matches  this is a great way of showing where differences in scores come in and gives a good way of assigning causal factors. None of this is ever likely to show up on paper. Even if it did, the statistical differences found in short range group size testing and velocity testing where the differences are relatively small is not helpful. We want to see what happens to our scores. That’s where the rubber meets the road so to speak.

Carbon Destroyer

Crystal Clear

Accuracy Oil

So how about some specs? Well, our custom 6XC chamber will use a .270″ neck which provides .003″ of total clearance. That’s very tight on purpose. We don’t want brass being worked hard and .003″ means just enough clearance for good bullet release without overworking the necks. The body diameter at the web will be .472″ which gives .003″ total clearance to our brass out-of-the-bag and should not suffer from sticky bolt lift like some 6XC’s can as our die sizes to minimum leaving a base at .469″. Freebore is being set to give us an initial bullet seating depth that puts the shank/boat-tail junction of the bullet .030″ below the neck/shoulder junction of the case with 115gn DTAC bullets. We’re targeting 2950fps for the eventual load which should be doable on about 40 grains of something like H4350 or H4831 but we will try Reloader 23 and H1000 and similar magnum-y powders. Things could come in +/- 75fps from that so we’ll see how it all breaks out when we get there. Both barrels have to shoot the load identically for us to be happy which promises to complicate load development.

We’ll be taking the Modern Spartan Systems cleaning product suite for a little ride on more than the new 6XC barrels over the coming months. Others including TiborasaurusRex have taken this stuff for a test run but nobody seems to have done much scientific testing and reported on it so we’re going to. This test is going to require something like 100-150 rounds per gun and will be carried out across nearly 100 guns over the next several months. We’re going to try it on Trapdoor Springfields, Sharps rolling block .45-70’s, black powder cannons, metallic silhouette race guns, .22LR match bolt-action rifles & semi-auto pistols, 1911’s, Glocks, Springfield XD’s, Colt/S&W/Dan Wesson revolvers, shotguns, military surplus rifles, plain ol’ hunting rifles, AR-15’s, front-stuffer .50cal black powder cap-lock rifles & pistols and more. We’ll do a test of performance & reliability, then fully strip-clean each gun, then do the test again after treating them with MSS goodies.

Not the actual collection being tested but the actual collection does in fact contain at least one of each of those, and then some.

We’ll be testing for groups, velocities of course but also for ease of cleaning as well as how long to copper equilibrium for those guns shooting jacketed bullets and resistance to leading on those shooting plain cast lead bullets that are going way too damned fast. There will be a big focus on corrosion resistance too since many of these guns are black powder shooters and all are exposed regularly to dust which is both thick and highly alkalai and has caused us issues with inducing surface rusting over the years. There are also a couple tests we have planned which we’re keeping under wraps for now so nobody steals the idea. Suffice it to say, those could make for some really interesting findings. Or they could make for a null result. Never know. Stay tuned!

Upgrade Time: BallisticXLR Version 10.3 Is LIVE!

Version 10.3 is officially live. This much anticipated upgrade includes a new Loophole Shooting feature, an improved Calc Form, tons of minor formatting fixes and other improvements to make your long range shooting experience as rewarding and successful as possible.

NEW! Loophole Shooting Feature: In response to high demand the new Loophole Shooting feature has been implemented. This includes the required minimum vertical size of the loophole required to place a shot on target with the loophole placed 10 feet (3 meters) from the shooter. There is no other external ballistics application in the world that integrates this feature with your primary DOPE. At this time the Loophole data is only on the 100yrd/m increment Full Sheet tab. This is with the assumption that if you’re shooting from behind a loophole that you’ve got more time to set up your shots including setting up a sniper range card, justifying the extra data that’s on the 100m full-sheet tab compared to the 100yrd/m half-sheet tab. If there is sufficient demand we’ll add it to the 100yrd/m half-sheet tab in the next patch release.

Loophole Technical Details: The Loophole Shooting feature provides you a loophole size in inches or centimeters required to make the shot without hitting the edges of your loophole or the barrier it’s been created in. This feature requires careful measurement of your scope height. The level of precision required is now in the .0x inches zone but only if you plan to use the Loophole Shooting feature. If you do not ever need to use this feature then .1″ of slop in your measurement of scope height will be inconsequential.

Why Loophole Shooting: When BallisticXLR was partnered with the RexReviews project with TiborasaurusRex, Rex explicitly forbade providing this feature to the masses. Now that we’ve gone independent, we don’t have to withhold it anymore and in keeping with our custom of providing you the most capable system regardless of who might get upset about it, it’s now been released to the public. We are committed to providing continuous upgrades with new major features and minor features that are already planned as well as responding to the requests of those that use BallisticXLR.

Other Improvements: Major and minor improvements have been lavished upon BallisticXLR version 10.3 which, as our flagship product, it richly deserved. Some improvements include a simplified and improved Calc-Form, font size and color changes to make for easier reading in low light situations. We’ve put new Sniper Data & Shot record cards in to replace the older FM-23-10 derived versions. Quick start instructions on the inputs page have been clarified and simplified. Borders, colors, shading, contrast and may other elements of style have been tweaked to provide an improved user experience.

As always, the simple download is only $10. You should really consider getting a support entitlement as ballistics is a complex science and setting up a ballistics package as full featured as BallisticXLR can be a little daunting for the uninitiated despite our best efforts to make it as simple as possible. A basic Bronze support entitlement is only $50 and comes with a copy of BallisticXLR. We also have Silver and Gold support levels which increase the number of allowed support requests and reduce the maximum response time. All support entitlements also come with free upgrades for one full year! Don’t miss out on new stuff or 1:1 personalized help when you need it!

Existing Download-Only Customers: If you have purchased a download-only copy of BallisticXLR (does not include BallisticPRS or BallisticDLR) within the last 30 calendar days and would like the upgrade to Version 10.3, email ballisticxlr@gmail.com with your paypal transaction number & date of purchase and we’ll upgrade you free of charge.

Existing Support Entitlement Holders: If you purchased a support contract & download within the last 365 days you are entitled to a free upgrade to Version 10.3. To redeem your upgrade, email ballisticxlr@gmail.com with your paypal transaction number & date of purchase and we’ll upgrade you to Version 10.3 free of charge. This upgrade does not extend your support contract.

KubeGrid: Using Kubernetes to Supplant Common Grid Computing Engines

This is not my normal fare. If you’re not a computer geek you may find the following paragraphs a little bit technical and quite possibly uninteresting because of that. I’d encourage you to read on though as what you should come away with is a new way to look at the problems you face and a strategy for dealing with them that will bring you much personal satisfaction or at least will cause you to pull the least amount of hair out of your head as possible.

Start here: https://kubernetes.io/docs/concepts/workloads/controllers/jobs-run-to-completion

There is never anything really new in the world of computing. All we have are problems that have been solved before and new flavors of those same problems and solutions. What really changes is that people forget that we’ve already solved all of the really difficult problems many years ago. We had to because they were new problems when computing was something fresh in industry. Now that computing is pervasive what we have is a repeating cycle of identifying problems to be solved and figuring out how they’ve been solved before or ignoring the past (at our peril) and creating entirely new solutions which are in fact, just different colors of the same solutions we came up with before… if we’re lucky. That amounts to a statement like, “Well, we have a really complex problem, so here’s a stunningly complicated solution.”

I, for one, detest the idea that complex problems need newly invented ultra complex solutions simply because the problem appeared superficially (or actually is) complex or new. There is no problem so complicated that a very simple solution cannot be identified if you think about the problem the right way. There are insanely few problems which are in reality the least bit new. At best, they’re just the same problem in a new shape or color, so to speak. In a moment, you’ll be introduced to my preferred method of solving problems which always yields fairly simple solutions. It does that because it works like the thought process of early Macintosh computers. Early Mac’s were built; seemingly, with a notion something like, “Give them so little memory and processing power that they won’t be able to do anything anyway.” I must at this point give a wink and a nod to Douglas Adams who originally made that exact statement and from whom I’ve borrowed it. There’s a certain amount of sarcasm in that but hang with me and you’ll see my point.

What I mean by all of that is, simplifying the problem comes down to really seeing where the actual fundamental problem is (Mac users, of which I am one, wanting to do very intensive computational tasks on end-user grade hardware is the fundamental problem.) and not where the superficial problem is. In this case the superficial problem is one of Mac’s being the preferred platform for those doing computationally intensive tasks; like video editing for example because they’re user friendly, as opposed to Windows which is user unfriendly and UNIX/Linux which is downright user-hostile. UNIX/Linux server-grade hardware would be the right way to do these computationally intensive tasks but they suck to use for humans. So Mac users are the fundamental problem. They picked the wrong tool. Apple responded by making sure that the user would realize that and would eventually put those workloads onto higher end hardware. Now we have video editors doing very small bits of editing on very small bits of video on their Mac and then sending many such snippets to a larger compute cluster for rendering and final processing to come out with a whole “thing”.

Those familiar with “Grid Computing”, “High Performance Compute” and other flavors of the topic know that what you’re really dealing with is a system that understands bounded resource blocks and workload. What it amounts to is you have a bucket of resource (CPU/Memory/Disk/Network) capacity and a bucket of workloads that have a discreet moment of being started and which will run to “completion”. You want to dispatch computation jobs to be executed, allow them to run to completion and then report on the status and resources taken to accomplish that. What you don’t want to do is worry about uneven load profiles, manually intervening when jobs fail or systems lean over, or figuring out which host to execute a job on.

Some systems like LSF/OpenLava and others were created back in a day where there was a huge variety of capability as far as horsepower and there were lots of proprietary hardware platforms. Those factors joined with factors like making sure that software licenses which were few in number were always in use, fair share allocation of computational horsepower & software licenses and organizationally induced prioritization of this project versus that project.

Today, hardware performance is orders of magnitude better and we’re not so much worried about computational horsepower so much as footprint cost efficiency. Back in the old days we’d run on-premise clusters of large numbers of very expensive servers in very expensive data centers. Nowadays we Cloud Service Providers which can provide enormous amounts of extra computational capacity on-demand which can be spun up only for as long as it’s needed and then spun down immediately afterward to minimize run costs. We’ve eliminated the sunken portion of data center run cost from the equation.

As we all know, most of the really great inventions in history were made by eliminating something from a prior invention: A magnificent martini is made that way by the elimination, or at least minimization, of the Martini (vermouth) from the equation. In the same way, eliminating the concept of owning actual servers and putting the load in the cloud enables organizations to radically alter the cost associated with operating high performance computation grids.

Kubernetes has the ability to dispatch arbitrary code execution to nodes. The cluster is aware of what nodes are part of the cluster and how much load they’re under so it’s relatively easy to code in a little Python/Ruby/C/Whatever to interface with a SQL or NoSQL database to build a list of jobs needing dispatch and to get them dispatched. When there becomes a queue of jobs due to lacking of free resources the code can, with very simple boundary configurations, elect to launch new execution node instances on the CSP (Cloud Service Provider) infrastructure of choice or to persist with the queue having some non-zero depth.

The efficiency to be gained is not simply in the fact that the company no longer has to own large numbers of servers and to pay for the continuous operation of those servers regardless of their being fully utilized or not. A huge gain is in the simple fact that CSP’s tend toward pricing based on utilization of network bandwidth and data ingress/egress from their assorted block or object storage systems but not from in-cloud usage of those very same storage sub-systems. The actual cost of the CSP provided CPU cycles, memory utilization and in-cloud storage access is heavily subsidized by out-of-cloud network/storage IO charges. High performance compute grids are almost universally highly intense in their utilization of CPU and memory and are notoriously weak in their need to import/export large amounts of data from the computational environment.

The next big change we see is that jobs are not actually arbitrary in large part. Many jobs are regularized. That is, they are routine and come about as a byproduct of the development process. When you complete a piece of code, it needs unit tested and regression tested. When you design an ASIC it generates follow-on load which is predictable. Many organizations rely on grid computing to run routine, regular reports, analytics and business processes. These are things that can be statically defined either in code or in databases. It’s a standard workload. Everything else is arbitrary workload.

So what we have here is an incipient change in how HPC gets done. The hard part had always been dispatching jobs. Now the hard part is architectural. Orchestrating job dispatch has been made trivially easy. Discerning what is a static job versus what is an arbitrary job and causing Kubernetes configuration to be automated is the current challenge. This is actually trivially easy to accomplish because of the ease of determining the static versus arbitrary nature of any particular job.

I’m not saying that there’s no effort in creating the necessary bits of code and building the necessary back end systems to accomplish these goals. What I’m saying is that we no longer need to pay IBM’s (or whomever) extortionist license fees for LSF (or whatever) and we no longer need to maintain extensive farms of servers, difficult to manage and highly specialized grid computing engines which require expensive-as-hell HPC experts like myself. All you need now is a basic bitch sysadmin who knows extremely common and popular technologies like NoSQL/SQL, Python/Perl/Ruby, Linux, Kubernetes, Docker, etc… There are maybe a few thousand people in the USA that really know how to make IBM’s LSF grid computing software work and to troubleshoot it. There are probably a million or so Linux sysadmins (also like myself) who know NoSQL/SQL, Python/Perl/Ruby, Linux, Kubernetes, Docker, etc… and even if they don’t know one of more of those things, they’re all easy to learn if you’re already a Linux sysadmin. They’re easy to learn for us because they were bloody well meant to be. If we’re to use them, and we’re a lazy bunch which is why we automate everything we can figure out how to, it has to be easy to learn, easy to use and easy to automate or we won’t do it.

So, now that I’ve given you this off book use case for Kubernetes, get out and use it. Yes it’ll take a few weeks longer than LSF would to implement but in the end it’ll cost you millions of dollars less to maintain and you won’t have to pay IBM’s (or anyone else’s) heart thumping-ly exorbitant license fees which are deliberately structured to extract every possible last cent from your organization.

Go (to heck Big) Blue!

Sniper School – 111 – Dude! Where’s My Bullet? How To Use BallisticXLR.

Here it is. The long awaited video demonstrating in easy terms how to use BallisticXLR for simple and not-so-simple long range shots. It’s been kept brief so you don’t get bored or lost and there’s precious little repetition because you can always rewind if you need to.

US Optics B-17 Review – Very Nice!

Epic scope. My only gripes (except the price point) are very minor quibbles in reality. Same perfect tracking, same great glass (actually some of the best ever in a USO), some real improvements in the turret setups. Some things are not so much improvements as changes but you can’t turn your nose up at a USO.

September 23rd Long Range Precision Rifle Match – Video

I did well. I was on track to be in the top 3 but as it heated up I got a little heat exhausted and started making mistakes and bad shots. No excuses… it was me and I blew it. So, here’s 1 crap stage and 2 great stages. Make sure to like the video and subscribe to my YouTube channel.

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