Tag Archives: technology

The 3D-printed handgun has arrived

I want a 3D printer. I want a really good one. This is in my bucket list:

Eight months ago, Cody Wilson set out to create the world’s first entirely 3D-printable handgun.

Now he has.

Early next week, Wilson, a 25-year-old University of Texas law student and founder of the non-profit group Defense Distributed, plans to release the 3D-printable CAD files for a gun he calls “the Liberator,” pictured in its initial form above. He’s agreed to let me document the process of the gun’s creation, so long as I don’t publish details of its mechanics or its testing until it’s been proven to work reliably and the file has been uploaded to Defense Distributed’s online collection of printable gun blueprints at Defcad.org.

I hope technology can outrun tyranny.

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I should buy Alcoa stock before posting this…

So… worried about cellphone snooping?

What if I told you that the FBI has had the capability to impersonate and man-in-the-middle cell towers since about 1995?

Paranoid yet?

What if I told you that the information about Stingray (the snooping system) has been in the public domain since at least last year, when it was used in a case in Texas? What about the worst possible case, that it’s been in the public domain for more than a decade? (To be fair with the last one, even I, your intrepid news-gatherer, dismissed that out of hand, as Shimomura is pretty much a blowhard)

Now remember, this is five or so years BEFORE the DHS was even thought of, so god only knows what those intrusive idiots came up with in the ensuing decade.

Yet these guys have a black budget in the billions, and we have nary a dime to spend on, say, educating our Army.

Happy fishbowl, suckers!

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HoT migration wonkiness, explained

Hey Hammer of Truth fans, I’ve been busily moving the site away from our hosting provider we loved for seven years over to Amazon Web Services EC2. As you might have noticed, this has caused a few hiccups, which has led to a temporary slowdown in post frequency (because yay distractions and uncertainty).

We’ve gone from a managed hosting environment where I put in support tickets and was told to spend lots of money buying better servers, to a self-serve model where we spend less money but the tradeoff is having to know a lot of technical stuff.

Luckily I know a few things. Enough to break things, and enough to fix them again.

Well, I’m about 98% sure that all these odd little bugs that came up during the migration from one server environment to another have now been worked out now (like the caching issue that displayed a weak, ugly mobile theme instead of our usual kickass design). Frabjous day!

I want to ask all of you to drop a comment here if you notice any problems with the site. Or just to high five us for the success.

Yes, we’re doing regular backups.

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Man making gun parts with 3D printers gets lease revoked, interrogated by BATF

In early August, we presented a novel idea where a DIY maker was able to print upper receivers for handguns using a 3D printer.

Well it seems the manufacturers of Stratasys didn’t like this idea and have revoked a license and physically removed a printer from one customer. From CNet:

Stratasys has voided the lease for the printer Defense Distributed had rented, and sent representatives to physically reclaim it last week.

Further, Beckhusen reports that a visit to the Austin, TX branch of the ATF turned into an unexpected questioning session for Wilson when he went down to investigate the legal requirements of the Defense Distributed project.

Beckhusen also writes that, according to Wilson, “the ATF believes he’s not broken any laws, and that the agency believes 3-D printed guns fall into a regulatory gray area, but that he still needs to get licensed if he’s to manufacture a weapon.

Now legally, making gun parts from scratch isn’t something the BATF is able to regulate unless the parts are made available for sale, but we’re a little surprised that a 3D printer manufacturer would go to such lengths to reclaim a printer.

The lesson here is abundantly clear: if you’re going to use your 3D printers for things that fall into the gray areas of a license agreement (which you should probably read and heavily consider when shopping for printers) — then you’re probably better off keeping your mouth shut or using a pseudonym when sharing DIY schematics online.

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DIY: Digital printer makes lower receiver for gun, cheap

The replicators on Star Trek can’t be far now, except it’s not food the budding tinkerers are thinking about making, it’s guns:

HaveBlue’s custom creation is a .22-caliber pistol, formed from a 3D-printed AR-15 (M16) lower receiver, and a normal, commercial upper. In other words, the main body of the gun is plastic, while the chamber — where the bullets are actually struck — is solid metal.

The lower receiver was created using a fairly old school Stratasys 3D printer, using a normal plastic resin. HaveBlue estimates that it cost around $30 of resin to create the lower receiver, but “Makerbots and the other low cost printers exploding onto the market would bring the cost down to perhaps $10.” Commercial, off-the-shelf assault rifle lower receivers are a lot more expensive. If you want to print your own AR-15 lower receiver, HaveBlue has uploaded the schematic to Thingiverse.

HaveBlue tried to use the same lower receiver to make a full-blown .223 AR-15/M16 rifle, but it didn’t work. Funnily enough, he thinks the off-the-shelf parts are causing issues, rather than the 3D-printed part.

While this pistol obviously wasn’t created from scratch using a 3D printer, the interesting thing is that the lower receiver — in a legal sense at least — is what actually constitutes a firearm. Without a lower receiver, the gun would not work; thus, the receiver is the actual legally-controlled part.

Yes, it’s technically an illegal gun until he registers it. But as inventors like this keep pushing the boundaries of possibility in DIY weaponry, attempts to regulate and control firearms have definitely run into a new wrinkle.

For ways to have your own Maker Bot to construct future guns for you, just follow the handy instructions. I’m guessing we’ll eventually get around to the replicators that take voice commands for food only after we’re able to shoot them if they don’t comply (or tries to poison us).

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Google’s 16,000 cluster bot: It’s all about cats

It’s a neural network developed by “X laboratory” (which is an awesome sounding secret lab and they also are working on self-driven cars in Nevada, fuck yeah) that is one step closer to constructing artificial intelligence in computers. They turned it on, gave it very little direction except to recognize faces and pointed it in the direction of the YouTube thumbnail archives to feed on input — the “answer” it spit out was that it also recognized the composite face of a cat, in addition to humans.

Originally reported by the NYT:

And then, of course, there are the cats.

To find them, the Google research team, led by the Stanford University computer scientist Andrew Y. Ng and the Google fellow Jeff Dean, used an array of 16,000 processors to create a neural network with more than one billion connections. They then fed it random thumbnails of images, one each extracted from 10 million YouTube videos.

The videos were selected randomly and that in itself is an interesting comment on what interests humans in the Internet age. However, the research is also striking. That is because the software-based neural network created by the researchers appeared to closely mirror theories developed by biologists that suggest individual neurons are trained inside the brain to detect significant objects.

Currently much commercial machine vision technology is done by having humans “supervise” the learning process by labeling specific features. In the Google research, the machine was given no help in identifying features.

“The idea is that instead of having teams of researchers trying to find out how to find edges, you instead throw a ton of data at the algorithm and you let the data speak and have the software automatically learn from the data,” Dr. Ng said.

“We never told it during the training, ‘This is a cat,’ ” said Dr. Dean, who originally helped Google design the software that lets it easily break programs into many tasks that can be computed simultaneously. “It basically invented the concept of a cat. We probably have other ones that are side views of cats.”

There’s a long and rich history of cat worship dating back to the Egyptians and further so correlation is obviously something to consider.

Still, I suspect this could go down as the first undeniable “42″ moment in AI computer science, where the answer once again ends up baffling researchers more than the initial question.

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Microsoft finally has a good idea

They’ll fix your computer.

It’s a move that signifies that Microsoft might just give a damn about supporting their OS as vigorously as Apple now that the Steve Jobs factor is no longer in play. As a disclaimer, I am primarily a Mac user as well as a Windows and Ubuntu user (and server monkey), so my allegiance is pretty much with “whatever the hell gets the job accomplished”

From the Wall Street Journal:

In a program unknown to most computer users, the company has been using its small chain of retail stores and its online computer store to sell customized versions of popular PC models that have been streamlined for a cleaner look and better performance. It calls these machines “Signature” PCs. They retain the maker’s brand, but sport a special Signature desktop and configuration. And they cost about the same as the identical stock version of the machine sold elsewhere.

Microsoft also offers a program that, for $99, will turn users’ Windows 7 PCs into Signature versions, if the owner brings the computer into one of its 16 stores, due to grow to 21 outlets in coming months. All Signature computers come with 90 days of free phone support, as well as help at the stores’ “Answer Desks,” which are like the Genius Bars at Apple stores.

I’ve been testing three Signature models and comparing them with the same machines as sold elsewhere without the Signature modifications. I found the Signature versions much cleaner and easier to navigate and faster in a variety of tests.

I’d venture to say if you care about your data not potentially being lost in the process of these Signature upgrades, they will be about as blatant as Apple in selling you an external drive from in the store.

But hey, it’s about time Microsoft went about stealing that whole Genius Bar idea on top of the blatantly follow-the-leader store fronts. More power to them. I’m simply wondering that if they’re just going to copy what’s working well for Apple, can the Xbox tablet be far behind?

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