A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for October, 2014

I’m Sure They’ll Listen to Reason

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A little under one year ago Solid Concepts brought us a 3D printed 1911. What made Solid Concept’s 3D printed handgun different from previous 3D printed handguns was that it was made of metal instead of plastic. The 3D printed 1911 fired 5,000 shots without a problem and was retired. Now Solid Concepts is upping the ante with a 3D printed 10mm handgun that they’re calling Reason:

Here we are, almost one year later, and Eric Mutchler, Project Engineer at Solid Concepts, who was the developer of the first 1911 pistol, has produced a new 1911, this time a bit fancier. Although the gun likely will not appeal to everyone, the detail and lettering on the firearm show just how incredibly accurate the direct metal laser sintering machine used to create it must have been. Using a high powered laser to directly melt metal powder, layer-by-layer, this weapon was produced.

The gun, with the word ‘Reason” printed onto its barrel, is chambered in 10mm auto. This new firearm is much more stylish than its predecessor, with a wave-like design printed into the grip, and a gradient of parallel lines throughout the barrel. What will make this 1911 pistol stand out the most, however, is the preamble of the Declaration of Independence printed onto the front of the grip, making a statement obvious to anyone who sees the weapon.

Although this is a far cry from the Reason weapon system from Snow Crash it’s still a pretty sweet technology demonstration. Combine this design, which looks very functional, with the fact that 3D printers capable of working with metal are going to become cheaper you can see how gun control will soon be as irrelevant as laws against pirating music, movies, and e-books.

We are entering the era where technology makes the state’s authority meaningless. When individuals are capable of manufacturing regulated goods in their home regulations have no teeth.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 28th, 2014 at 10:30 am

Another Reason to Implement HTTPS Everywhere

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There is no reason for a website to not at least have an HTTPS connection available to users. When websites like StartSSL provide free certificates the old excuse of costs is no longer even applicable. Computer hardware has increased to the point where offering secure connection isn’t really that big of a drain on a server. And HTTP is just plain dangerous. Not only can any traffic sent over HTTP be viewed by anybody between the two communicating points but it can be altered without either point knowing. That is what Verizon is now doing to its customer’s HTTP traffic:

Over the past couple of days, there’s been an outpouring of concern about Verizon’s advertising practices. Verizon Wireless is injecting a unique identifier into web requests, as data transits the network. On my phone, for example, here’s the extra HTTP header.1

X-UIDH: OTgxNTk2NDk0ADJVquRu5NS5+rSbBANlrp+13QL7CXLGsFHpMi4LsUHw

After poring over Verizon’s related patents and marketing materials, here’s my rough understanding of how the header works.

[…]

In short, Verizon is packaging and selling subscriber information, acting as a data broker on real-time advertising exchanges. Questionable. By default, the information appears to consist of demographic and geographic segments.2 If a user has opted into “Verizon Selects,” then Verizon also shares behavioral profiles built by deep packet inspection.

This is a dirty trick only made possible over unsecured connections. Secure connections, in addition to preventing anybody in between two communicating points from snooping on the communications, also provides mechanisms to verify that the data wasn’t altered when traversing between its start and end points. This is done with a wonderful algorithm called hashbased message authentication codes (HMAC). If the contents of the message are altered in any way the HMAC will not match and the receiver can verify that the message received doesn’t match the message that was sent. HTTP, unfortunately, has no way of providing this functionality so there is no way to know whether or not the data has been altered in transit.

The bottom line is HTTP needs to die and HTTPS needs to replace it for every website.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 28th, 2014 at 10:00 am

Company Testing Installable Sensor Package for Firearms

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Electronics and firearms. Spoken in the same sentence it can turn an otherwise reasonable gun owner into a very upset individual. The reason for this is because many gun owners see the marriage of electronics and firearms as the gun controllers’ wet dream. I think this is mostly due to the fact that electronics and firearms generally only get mentioned in the same sentence when access control technologies are being discussed. But there are so many more possibilities made possible by loading firearms with electronics. One company has developed an sensor package that inserts into the grip of a firearm that enables several interesting capabilities:

A Silicon Valley startup said Friday that police agencies were field testing its new product: a wireless sensor that transforms officers’ weapons into smart guns with real-time telemetry.

Yardarm Technologies’ sensor is a small device that goes inside gun handles and provides dispatchers with real-time geo-location tracking information on the weapon. The Yardarm Sensor also sends alerts when a weapon is unholstered or fired, and it can “record the direction of aim, providing real-time tactical value for commanders and providing crime scene investigators valuable data for prosecution,” the company said.

What I’m about to say is considered heresy by many gun owners but I really like the idea of this sensor package. First, it’s an optional accessory that doesn’t interface with any of the firearm’s mechanisms so if the package fails it doesn’t render the firearm useless. Second, this technology is being aimed at police officers and I believe it’s time to start tracking the actions of on-duty police officers are thoroughly as they track us. Police departments have invested in license plate scanners, cell phone interceptors, and other technologies meant to track us so it’s only fair that the police submit to the same scrutiny and be made to wear body cameras and have firearms that record valuable information when they’re unholstered and discharged.

This sensor package could potentially be a valuable tool for armed civilians as well. Many drivers have started using mounted dashboard cameras in their vehicles to record evidence if they are involved in an accident. Those of us who carry firearms could benefit from our firearms collecting data on any defensive shootings we are involved in as it could help us prove the shooting was defensive in nature.

Although the term smart gun is a dirty word amongst gun owners it shouldn’t be. A smart gun merely implies a firearm that has electronics on board, not that it has some kind of access control mechanism. The obvious trend of our species is to collect more and more data. That’s because we find data incredibly valuable. So smart guns will become prevalent in the future and firearms without electronics will likely be seen similarly to muzzle loaders today. That isn’t a bad thing. More data can lead to further improvements in firearm technology as well as shooting abilities. What is important is ensuring the data collected can be controlled by the owner. This is no different than currently pervasive technologies. Our smartphone are the most obvious example. They’re data collection devices. The major debates surrounding smartphones isn’t really whether or not the devices should collect data but who should have access to the collected data. This is because a lot of people find the collected data valuable but they want to control who can access it. Smart guns will be the same. Gun owners will find the collected data useful but will want control over who can access it.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 27th, 2014 at 11:00 am

Be Kind to Plants, Don’t Eat Them

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I have no objection of vegetarianism or veganism. What I do object to are the vegetarians and vegans who act like they’re morally superior to us omnivores because they don’t eat animals. They fall into the same trap most of us do, being animals themselves they have very animal centric views. Since they are capable of suffering they believe all animals are capable of suffering (something I agree with). However, they don’t have any way to emphasize with plants so they assume plants are incapable of suffering and therefore eating them is morally acceptable. As it turns out plants are living things and like any living thing they have a drive to live. More research is showing that plants have an opinion on being eaten and their opinion is that being eaten sucks:

Vegetarians and vegans pay heed: New research shows plants know when they’re being eaten. And they don’t like it.

That plants possess an intelligence is not new knowledge, but according to Modern Farmer, a new study from the University of Missouri shows plants can sense when they are being eaten and send out defense mechanisms to try to stop it from happening.

If you derive some amount of moral superiority for being a vegetarian or vegan on the grounds that plants don’t suffer then you can kindly shut the fuck up now. Those of you who refuse to eat meat because of the way animals are treated by farmers still have a valid argument because the way many farmers, namely factory farmers, treat their livestock is pretty disgusting.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 27th, 2014 at 10:30 am

Posted in Science

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Monday Metal: In Paradisum by Symfonia

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Symfonia was power metal band that didn’t last long. Unfortunately it recorded one album and then the band fell apart. But it was a pretty badass album if I do say so myself. The following is the title track from the band’s one and only album, In Paradisum:

Written by Christopher Burg

October 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am

Posted in Media

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Temple Index

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The shooting community has been relatively peaceful as of late. While brush fires from the Great Caliber Wars still still pop up from time to time and the debate over whether or not sport shooting will get you killed on “the street” has yet to be definitively decided there hasn’t been a good community-wide blow. Until now! Yes, somebody has decided to challenge the central dogma of firearms handling. Say hello to the temple index.

The temple index is the new hotness in firearms handling. When you want to operate like an operator in areas of operations you simply need to bring your handgun to the side of your head and point the muzzle to the sky. From this position you can… do things… and stuff.

I knew I heard about this technique somewhere then it hit me, Rory Miller wrote about temple indexing and, more importantly, it’s origins in Meditations on Violence. As it turns out temple index has a very specific purpose:

Rookie officers come to the academy believing that the right way to make a fast entry is with their weapons next to their heads, pointing at the sky. A technique that only existed so that a cameraman could get the star’s face and a gun in the same picture has become something that people who know better try to do. In real life, it is a matter of an instant for a bad guy to grab the barrel and shove it under the officer’s chin. A messy death.

Sgt. Rory Miller (2014-07-18). Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence (p. 29). YMAA Publication Center. Kindle Edition.

So remember when you need to look cool and have a picture of your face with a gun in it to prove you’re operating just temple index that hot rod handgun.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 24th, 2014 at 10:30 am

Posted in Guns and Gear

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Suicide Assistance Hotline

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There are few things, at least in my opinion, more tragic than somebody being pushed to the brink of suicide. It seems I am not alone in my thinking since resources have been set aside for things like suicide hotlines where people contemplating suicide can call and hopefully get talked out of it. Unfortunately a call to a suicide hotline can result in police officers being dispatched to your location. At that point the suicide hotline may very well become the suicide assistance hotline:

The 35 year old man, who neighbors describe the as a quiet, friendly man, was divorced and now lived in the home with his girlfriend and her children. According to Detective Matthew Gwynn of the Roy City Police Department, the man called a suicide hotline around 4 a.m. and threatened to kill himself. The Weber County Consolidated Dispatch Center sent officers to the resident.

“There were people in the home at the time the call was placed,” Det. Gwynn told ABC4 News. “They left the home shortly thereafter.”

Roy City Police and the Weber Metro SWAT Team tried to convince the man to surrender and get help but seven hours after the initial call, something dramatic occurred in the garage causing SWAT officers to open fire.

People whose training mostly focuses on using force are probably not the type of people you want to send to a person who just declared that they are suicidal. What is interesting about this case though is that the police are investigating it as a suicide by cop incident. In order for that to be a possible reason for the call it would require the caller to know that the suicide hotline would dispatch police officers. Furthermore it would be reliant on having officers dispatched that are more prone to shoot a suicidal man than attempt to dissuade him on committing suicide. It’s also interesting that the police, so far, haven’t released any information regarding the actions the caller took that instigate the police opening fire (or, for that matter, what a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team was dispatched instead of regular police officers).

Hopefully the media actually covers the details of this case because I believe they could be very interesting.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am

Wet Willies Now Felony Assault

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Wet willies are a schoolyard prank that are likely older than schools themselves. As far as I know nobody has actually been injured, killed, or made ill as a result of a wet willy. But none of that matters because the rules in this country are made up and the punishments never match the crime. A Mankato man gave an officer a wet willy and is now facing felony assault charges:

A wet-willy has landed a man in trouble with police.

Police told our sister station in Mankato that 24-year-old Riley Swearingen put his pointer finger in an officer’s ear while waiting in line for a bus early Saturday morning.

Since it involved bodily fluids, police say it rises to the level of felony assault.

I’m surprised the officer didn’t simply stream “Office safety!” and gun the man down. I guess arresting him and charging him with felony assault does count as restraint in this wonderful police state of a country.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am

Representative Mike Rogers Wants Edward Snowden Charged With Murder

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When you find out that you government is doing something unlawful and tell the world in the hopes of getting it to change its behavior what do you end up getting? If you said deserved reward for uncovering unlawful activity you are incorrect. If you said being accused of murder by a Congress critter you are correct:

Republican Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, told an meeting in the House of Commons in London on Tuesday evening that Snowden was a “traitor” who was now living in the “loving arms” of Russian spies.

“The [US] government has pressed charges on Mr Snowden,” he said. “We are treating him, as I would argue, the traitor that he is.” Rogers added: “And by the way, and this is important, I would charge him for murder.”

“He took information that allows force protection, not only for British soldiers, but for US soldiers, and made it more difficult for us to track those activities. Meaning it is more likely that one of those soldiers is going to get their legs blown off or killed because of his actions,” he said. “Anybody that provides information to the enemy is a traitor, period, pure and simple.”

By supposedly removing protection from American soldiers he is responsible for their deaths? By that logic every member of Congress and the president should be charged with murder. They are the ones that have removed the protection of the oceans that lie between this country and the Middle East from the country’s military personnel and put them directly in harm’s way.

Again I will reiterate that Snowden did the right thing. The United States government has been on a “If you see something, say something” kick since 9/11. Snowden saw something and he said something. The problem was he saw something that the government didn’t want him to say anything about and it therefore changed its mind and should have changed its motto to “If you see something illegal being done by the government shut the fuck up, slave.”

Written by Christopher Burg

October 23rd, 2014 at 10:30 am

Yoshitomo Imura Will Spend Two Years In a Cage

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Yoshitomo Imura decided to create some firearms using a 3D printer. What made his attempt different than most of the attempts we hear about is that he lives in Japan, a country known for its strict weapon control laws. What made his attempt stupid was that he bragged about doing so on the Internet. Because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut is will not spend two years of his life rotting in a cage:

Yesterday, a Japanese man was sentenced to two years in prison for manufacturing 3D-printed guns. Yoshitomo Imura, a 28-year-old from Kawasaki, was arrested in May after posting a video of himself assembling his very illegal firearm to YouTube, which probably wasn’t the best idea on his part.

The right to bear DIY weaponry is still a contentious issue in most of the world. But if guns are illegal in your country—as they mostly are in Japan—then it makes sense that the law isn’t suddenly going to side with you when you decide to have a crack at making one in your garage. Imura appears to be the first person in the world to receive a prison sentence for making 3D-printed guns.

I applaud Imura for what he did. His act of defiance demonstrated that gun control laws are ineffective. However, when you’re breaking the law you shouldn’t brag about it unless you plan to make a big scene in a courtroom because that’s where you’ll likely end up.

What does surprise me is the sentence. Considering Japan’s weapon control laws I’d have imagined a longer sentence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he’s not going to spend more time in a cage but when he was arrested I was expecting the sentence to be longer.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am