Tag Archives: Technology

Man Reportedly Uses 3D Printer to Develop Homemade Railgun

An Imgur user uploaded pictures and video last week of a homemade railgun that he apparently created with a 3D printer. The above-embedded video demonstrates the weapon being used to fire an aluminum rod.


A railgun is a type of projectile launcher that uses electricity and electromagnetic energy rather than explosives and propellants to fire projectiles.

The man, who goes by the username “NSA_Listbot” on Imgur and Reddit, claims that the “railgun is capable of firing copper plated tungsten, aluminum, carbon and teflon/plasma” at speeds exceeding 560 miles per hour. He noted that the “railgun uses 6 300J, 350V, 5500uF capacitors which combined weigh 20lbs and can deliver >1050V and 1.8kJ of energy to the projectile.

It isn’t likely lethal, but it would definitely hurt,” he pointed out in a Reddit discussion on the do-it-yourself project.

[RELATED: New Facebook Feature Alerts Users of State-Sponsored Cyberattacks]

Engadget identified the weapon’s designer as David Wirth and noted, “It indeed works just like a full-sized railgun, using parallel electrodes to fire an ‘armature’ bullet.

Wired’s Cara McGoogan wrote, “Railguns are more commonly associated with military operations and NASA. The 3D printed railgun is far less powerful than military-grade prototypes. In 2012, BAE Systems tested a railgun that can fire at 5,600 mph. The most powerful railgun on record — created by the US military — produced 10.64 million joules.”

Though NSA_Listbot described the weapon as handheld and included features in its design that would at least appear to provide that functionality, McGoogan says, “The claim that the railgun is ‘handheld’ is dubious — the capacitors alone have a combined weight of 9kg. And the gun is almost as long as it is tall.

Another test firing of the weapon, this time with a carbon rod as the projectile of choice, can be seen below. The weapon’s creator said of this attempt, “I have no idea what happened to that piece of carbon- probably just vaporized.

Australian Government May Soon Use Armed Drones from the U.S.

An Australian Senate committee has approved the purchase of armed drones drones from the United States.

The Senate Foreign Affairs released a report calling on Australia’s Department of Defence to make sure armed unmanned vehicles are only operated by Australian military.

News Australia writes:

“In the report, tabled in parliament on Thursday, the Senate foreign affairs, defence and trade committee said the coming Force Structure Review was likely to contain an option for the acquisition of unmanned platforms capable of carrying weapons.”

A policy statement governing the deployment of armed unmanned platforms should be clearly articulated by the Australian government,” it said.”

The report says the drones may be used only in accordance with “Australia’s international legal obligations.” Australia already operates drones for surveillance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Department of Defence said armed drones are an inevitably for the nation.  Defence did acknowledge moral and ethical questions regarding drones and other autonomous weapons systems.

The purchase of drone aircraft from the U.S. has been expected since at least February of 2015, when Darren Chester, Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, said “It would be remiss of Australia not to continue to develop our knowledge of this technology to ensure we are able to gain the greatest benefit from unmanned aerial systems and the best protection for our troops on future operations.”

Currently Britain is the only nation flying armed U.S. drones. It would appear that Australia will become number two as the United States continues to export weapons of war and murder.

The announcement from Australia comes as forty-four veterans of the United States Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines have launched a campaign calling on drone operators to refuse to fly drone surveillance and attack missions. The veterans are working with KnowDrones.com to distribute a letter and airing a 15-second television commercial as part of the “Refuse to Fly” initiative.

The use of armed drones by Britain and Australia should not be a surprise, however. The two nations are walking nearly identical paths towards tyrannical government and a mass surveillance state.

Ross Ulbricht Set to Appeal Life Sentence in Silk Road Conviction

NEW YORK CITY – Ross Ulbricht, the convicted founder of the Silk Road online marketplace, will appeal his two life sentences, according to court documents filed on Thursday. Ulbricht was sentenced on five different counts in late May – one for 20 years, one for five years, one for 15 years and two for life, with no possibility of parole.

Ulbricht’s attorney Joshua Dratel spoke with TruthInMedia about the decision to appeal. ​

“The sentence is unreasonable, unjust and unfair, and based on improper considerations that have no basis in fact or law. Of course we will appeal the verdict and the sentence.”

In February, the Silk Road trial concluded as the jury reached a verdict of guilty on seven charges related to distributing narcotics, fraudulent documents, money laundering, and continuing a criminal enterprise. The jury took just three hours to convict Ulbricht on all charges.

At least 97 friends and family members of Ulbricht wrote to the judge asking for the most lenient sentence possible. Ulbricht himself wrote the judge asking her to give him 20 years so he might still have his old age.

Throughout the trial and sentencing, Ulbricht’s attorney objected to the judge’s decisions regarding witnesses, evidence, and other facts they say were kept from the jury. One point of contention comes from the discovery that two former federal agents are accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars during their investigation of the Silk Road. The two defendants are Carl Force, a former special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Shaun Bridges, a former Secret Service special agent. Force and Bridges were assigned to a task force based in Baltimore investigating Silk Road. Force was the lead investigator working undercover, and Bridges was a computer forensics expert working on the case.

According to a press release from the Justice Department, Force “served as an undercover agent and was tasked with establishing communications with a target of the investigation, Ross Ulbricht, aka ‘Dread Pirate Roberts.’” Force was authorized to communicate with Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR) online to gather information, but he allegedly went on to create several unauthorized, fictitious online identities.

“The Government’s efforts to keep the Carl Force scandal out of the public eye at trial is in itself scandalous,” said Joshua Horowitz, a defense attorney for Ulbricht. “The recently filed Complaint which names Carl Force as a defendant demonstrates that the Government’s investigation of Mr. Ulbricht lacked integrity, and was wholly and fatally compromised from the inside.””

Whether any of the latest revelations will have any effect remains to be seen.



President Obama signs cyber-security executive order

While visiting Stanford University on Friday, President Obama announced he was signing an executive order meant to encourage the sharing of information, regarding cyberthreats, between private sector companies and the government.

The order was signed at the first summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection, which focused on consumer protection and private-public partnerships against cyberthreats.

While at the summit, the president likened the internet to the “Wild West,” and said the public are looking to the government for protection against cyber attacks. President Obama also called these cyber attacks one of the greatest threats to national security, safety, and economic issues.

“Everybody is online, and everybody is vulnerable,” said President Obama, according to NBC News. “The business leaders here want their privacy and their children protected, just like the consumer and privacy advocates here want America to keep leading the world in technology and be safe from attacks.”

However, groups in Silicon Valley are not jumping on board with the president’s push for new digital securities.

Ben Desjardins, the director of security solutions with the cyber-security firm Radware, said, “The new proposals face significant headwinds, both legislatively from Congress and cooperatively from heavyweights in the tech sector.”  Desjardins also said many companies in Silicon Valley already feel “burned” by the government after the companies learned of the various government surveillance programs through the Snowden leaks.

Scott Algeier, the executive director of the nonprofit organization Information Sharing and Analysis Center, also said this new executive order sounds like a federal takeover of information sharing among people and companies in the private-sector.

The White House has said the executive order is only a framework, and with it the White House aims to allow private companies access to otherwise classified cyber-threat information and ensure information sharing is strongly secure, all while protecting the civil liberties of citizens.

The text of the executive order can be found here for more details.

Police want app ‘Waze’ to be disabled

A smartphone app called Waze, which allows drivers to mark where they spot police cars along roadsides, is under fire by police officers who want the app disabled.

Waze, which was bought by Google in 2013 for $966 million, is a free, social media type app which allows drivers to interact in real-time with other drivers on the road. The app currently has 50 million users in over 200 countries.

Traffic conditions are constantly updated within the app and any route detours or bad road conditions are also made visible for other drivers to see. The app also allows users to mark where they spot police cars on the road, but whether the police cars are part of a speed trap or a DUI checkpoint is not viewable.

Sheriff Mike Brown of Bedford County, Virginia has a problem with the app though. According to the Inquisitr, Brown said, “The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action.”

A reserve deputy sheriff in Southern California is also calling the app a “stalking app” according to Gulf News. Sergio Kopelev believes allowing people to mark where police officers are puts officers in danger because anyone with a grudge against police can then easily locate officers.

Jim Pasco, an executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police, agrees with Kopelev saying, “I can think of 100 ways that it could present an officer-safety issue. There’s no control over who uses it. So, if you’re a criminal and you want to rob a bank, hypothetically, you use your Waze.”

While police officers are asking for the app to be disabled, others are defending the app.

Nuala O’Connor, the head of the Washington Civil Rights group the Center for Democracy and Technology, has said according to NBC Washington, “I do not think it is legitimate to ask a person-to-person communication to cease simply because it reports on publicly visible law enforcement.”

O’Connor did raise concerns about how much privacy Waze users can expect since their movements are being tracked when the app is turned on.

As of now, Google reportedly has no plans to disable the app or restrict it in anyway.

“Pre-Crime” Software Can Tell Police Who Will Commit A Crime Based In Part on Social Media Posts

“Pre-Crime” is a concept that was focus of the movie Minority Report. Now, a new software allowing for predictive policing may be coming to a police department near you. “Beware”, made by telecommunications company Intrado, searches billions of records to find and predict potential crimes.

What is most alarming is that this software will not only scour record’s databases for info on suspects but will pull info from social network pages and look for words that could be deemed as “offensive”. With that information a suspect is assessed a threat level.

All of this coming from a software algorithm. Watch the video to hear the conversation between Ben Swann and Derek A. Smith of Excelsior College to learn more about the program.

President Obama wants internet to be considered a utility

After months of plans to create “high-speed” and “slow-speed” broadband connections at different costs, President Obama has come forward urging the FCC to reclassify the internet as a public utility.

“The time has come for the FCC to recognize that broadband service is of the same importance [as the traditional telephone system] and must carry the same obligations as so many of the other vital services do,” President Obama wrote in a statement released on the White House’s website.  “To do that, I believe the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act…”

The internet usage described by the president is not exclusive to laptop and desktop computers however.  Internet usage across mobile devices, such as cell phones, would also be covered.

[T]he rules also have to reflect the way people use the Internet today, which increasingly means on a mobile device,” the statement continued.  “I believe the FCC should make these rules fully applicable to mobile broadband as well, while recognizing the special challenges that come with managing wireless networks.”

As part of the call for reclassification, ARS Technica writes some basic rules would need to be implemented.  Some of these rules include not blocking particular websites, internet speeds should not be throttled, and there should not be a difference in a services speed based on what they pay.

President Obama said, according to the Hill, making two different speeds for internet service would “undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth…”  

This is not the first time President Obama has spoke out against internet “fast-lanes” either.  In October, the president spoke at a town hall meeting in California where he called for a ban on “fast-lanes” but offered no plan on how to do so.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said he agrees the internet should not be advantage to some and not others, but at the same time said he and the FCC were working on a “hybrid” plan which would regulate transactions between websites and internet service providers.

The new FCC plan is expected to be unveiled by year’s end.

New device detects nearby cops, officers not happy with product

A new car device called “Target Blu Eye,” developed and sold by the Dutch company Target Automotive, advertises the ability to warn drivers of nearby police officers, and cops are upset about this.

The device is marketed as a way to warn drivers of nearby emergency vehicles which have not turned on their emergency lights or sirens, signalling their proximity to the driver.

Blu Eye works by monitoring frequencies used by various emergency vehicles, including ambulances, firetrucks, and police cars, and then alerts the driver to the presence of such vehicles.  According to the Free Thought Project, the monitor also works when radars and other equipment used by police even when the equipment is turned off.  Even a turned off police radio on a foot-patrol is reportedly detected by the device.

Naturally, Blu Eye has already been called a crook’s best friend by many people who are opposed to the system.

The Sunday Times spoke to the Association of Police Officers in the UK, who said, “It is an offence to impede or obstruct the work of the police, and this includes warning drivers about police activities to combat offences on the roads.”

Dan Bizley, chief engineer for Blu Eye, said, though it warns people of nearby emergency vehicles, it cannot distinguish between the type of emergency vehicle.  “As it does not distinguish between a police car, ambulance or fire engine responding to an emergency,” said Bizley, “this particular device is sadly just as likely to be bought by a minority of motorists who wish to evade being caught behaving illegally.”

Because Blu Eye does not distinguish or  interfere with the signals and frequencies used by emergency vehicles, there is no legal precedent to make the device illegal, at least in parts of Europe where the device is sold.

Jan Rijks, the Dutch inventor of Blu Eye, also said, yes the system can be used to potentially evade police, but if you are driving in an urban setting, the device would constantly be lighting up with warnings as emergency vehicles and personnel are everywhere in cities.  Rijks did say the device makes people “more aware of their speed and driving behaviour” since they are getting warnings, and this results in safer drivers. 

Currently, the device is only available in Europe for the hefty sum of about $1,600, but according to a FOX News report, Rijks said a US model is currently in the works and could be available in the next year.

Cronyism At Its Finest, U.S. Government Arguing Against Aereo Before SCOTUS

“The question is, do they want to be broadcasters? If you want to be a broadcaster, you are required to program in public interest in convenience free to air.”

The United States Supreme has begun hearing arguments over whether or not streaming company Aereo can continue to share broadcast content with customers without paying a fee to broadcasters. The case is American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc..

The nation’s highest court has now heard oral arguments over whether the online TV streaming service infringes on the copyrights of broadcasters. If you are not familiar with Aereo, it is an ingenious company backed by billionaire Barry Diller. Aereo allows subscribers in 11 different U.S. cities to pay a monthly fee of $8 to stream and record broadcast television shows directly to mobile devices. How this happens is very important to the case. Aereo only grabs over-the-air the signals which are already free to the public. When a subscriber logs onto Aereo’s website to pick out a program to watch or record, Aereo assigns them a specific, dime-sized antenna. The subscriber has their own specific antenna and is renting that exclusive antenna as long as they are a subscriber. Why is that important? Because if you live in any city in the United States with broadcast programming, you can do the very same thing yourself with a digital antenna connected to your TV.

Over the past few months, a group of American broadcasters have insisted that Aereo is stealing their content and must pay a fee in order to rebroadcast their content. Already, lower courts have agreed with Aereo’s case that the company is taking free over the air content and providing access to it to the public.

The big question before SCOTUS: Whether Aereo “publicly performs” a copyrighted television program when it retransmits a broadcast of that program to thousands of paid subscribers over the Internet.

Aereo insists that it does not “publicly” perfom copyrighted shows, but gives private access to each individual subscriber through their unique antenna.

What should be an argument between private companies however, has not stayed that way, as the U.S. Government has been granted permission to argue on behalf of broadcasters.

According to Deadline the Supreme Court has granted a request from the Deputy Solicitor General’s to appear during Aereo hearing in support of the broadcasters,

“Motion of the Deputy Solicitor General for leave to participate in oral argument as amicus curiae and for divided argument GRANTED,” said the SCOTUS yesterday. The granting of the motion comes more than a month and a half after the federal government’s top legal office filed a brief supporting the broadcasters in their showdown with the Barry Diller-backed streaming service.

Already, Justices of the high court seem to want to rule against Aereo. To do so, could harm streaming and cloud services such as Google Inc, Microsoft Corp, DropBox Inc and Box Inc. Which could be why Justice Sonya Sotomayor is claiming that Aereo should simply be classified as a cable company.

“I read it and say why aren’t they a cable company?”
says Sotomayor.

The reason… Aereo is NOT a cable company. Aereo is a subscription antenna. If the company were forced to be considered a cable company, it would also be forced to pay re-transmission fees.

Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia makes the case to CNN’s Brian Stelter, saying do broadcasters want to broadcast or not?

“The question is, do they want to be broadcasters? If you want to be a broadcaster, you are required to program in public interest in convenience free to air. Anybody with an antenna can pick it up. I don’t understand why the location of the antenna changes that equation in any which way, shape or form.”

Collectivists Posing As “Anarchists” Demand $3 Billion From Google

San Francisco, CA- A group of anti-capitalist protesters referring to themselves as “anarchists” demonstrated outside the home of Digg founder and Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose on Sunday, and demanded that Google hand over $3 billion to fund the creation of “autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California.”

The protest was allegedly organized by a group called The Counterforce, and they call Rose a “meta-leech” who is to blame for the rising cost of living in the Bay Area. Rose has invested heavily in several tech startups, and these startups have moved to the Bay Area to run their businesses. The protesters claim that the tech companies that Rose invested in are overtaking the area and driving out people who are less wealthy:

“Venture capitalists enable these tech-workers by funding their startups. With the success of each startup, more and more ambitious tech-workers flock to the city and displace underemployed service workers to the cities at the far reaches of the BART line. These workers must then commute back to San Francisco or Oakland every morning, in most cases to perform menial tasks for the entitled scum who drove them out in the first place.”

The Counterforce group abhors capitalism, technological companies and innovations, and entrepreneurs. In their public statement, they believe this $3 billion will create a society where “no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free. With this three billion from Google, we will solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area and prove to the world that an anarchist world is not only possible but in fact irrepressible.” The Counterforce takes themselves seriously, too- if Google doesn’t acquiesce to their demand, they say to “get ready for a revolution neither you nor we can control.”

Rose has agreed with the group in their frustration over the Bay Area’s cost of living. “That said, I did agree w/ them that we need to solve rising rents, keep the SF culture, and crack down on landlords booting folks out,” said Rose on Twitter. “SF is such a great place, definitely need to figure out a way to keep the diversity.”

This isn’t the first time The Counterforce has targeted Google. In January, a Google engineer faced protests from them concerning his work on the company’s self-driving car.

Interestingly, this protest group was able to make their demonstration possible because of Google. In their statement, it’s noted that Microsoft Word, MacBook, Samsung Nexus (powered by Google), Gmail, and Youtube are among different tech products and services used by The Counterforce in their protests.



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Snowden Urges Tech Companies to Create More Security Products

Edward Snowden urges tech companies to build more security products to help fight against government spying. Using better security technology that is easy to use, Snowden hopes to slow down government spying on innocent citizens.

“The people in the room in Austin, they’re the folks who can really fix things and enforce our rights through technical standards, even when Congress hasn’t yet gotten to the point of legislation that protects our rights,” Snowden said while speaking to the South by Southwest Conference in Austin via streaming video that was routed through seven proxies.

Snowden went on to criticize the volume of information that the NSA and other government agencies are collecting. He pointed out that “We’ve reached a point where the majority of Americans’ telephone communications are being recorded. We’ve all this metadata that is being stored for years and years and years.”

Snowden added that “We’ve actually had tremendous intelligence failures … because we’re monitoring everyone’s communications instead of suspects’ communications,” Snowden said. “That lack of focus has caused us to miss leads that we should have had.”

The entire Snowden talk:

Do you think using capitalism and better technology will slow down government spying? Let us know in the comments below.

Google’s Rubin Buys Eighth Robotics Company, Boston Dynamics

New York Times broke the story yesterday that internet giant Google purchased military robotics contractor Boston Dynamics. The deal was reported Saturday and apparently closed on Friday, Dec. 13th.

Boston Dynamics is the eighth robotics company Google has bought in the last six months. Tech heads are very familiar with Boston Dynamics for their groundbreaking robots such as humanoid PetMan, BigDog, Cheetah, and WildCat. They even have their own YouTube channel with views in the millions of their humanoid and animal-like robots that run faster than humans. Boston Dynamics from Waltham, Mass., has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon’s DARPA. The 21-year-old company has designed robots that can climb walls and trees. Marc Raibert, who is a huge figure in robotics, started the company as a spin-off from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology.)

Pet Man Robot

According to the NYT story, Google executives stated they will “honor existing military contracts, but that it did not plan to move toward becoming a military contractor on it’s own.”

Bigdog Robot

Google has also bought robotics companies Holomni, Redwood Robotics, Schaft, Industrial Perception, Meka, Bot & Dolly, and AutoFuss. The desire for robotics comes from their 50-year-old executive & robotics engineer Andy Rubin, who is famous for building Google’s Android software into the world’s dominant force in smartphones.

For now Google is staying quiet on specific uses for the robotics technology, however they indicate it will not be aimed for consumers but rather manufacturing, such as electronics assembly. This may help Google compete against retailers like Amazon in the future, and help them automate parts of the supply chain that are currently performed by humans. The robotics may replace jobs in manufacturing and distribution centers, as well as the stock rooms of retail stores. Google has started experimenting with package delivery. In San Francisco, Google already makes home deliveries for Walgreens, Target, and American Eagle Outfitters. Mr. Rubin says Google has a 10-year vision. There’s talk of the robots even doing elder care and disaster recovery. The eight current acquisitions include US & Japanese firms that pioneer robotic arms, vision, and grasp. Mr. Rubin is also interested in sensor technology. Google will not currently state how much they paid for Boston Dynamics.

Google's Andy Rubin

For those interested in seeing robots live, fly to Miami next weekend for the Robotics Challenge sponsored by Pentagon’s DARPA. The competition is open to the public, has a $2 million prize, and will feature 17 robotics teams performing human tasks in eight simulated disaster response scenarios. Google will be entering Boston Dynamics robot “Atlas”which is similar to humanoid “Petman.”



Google Update Turns Phone Into Possible Tool For Others To Spy On You

According to TechNewsDaily.com, last week Google implemented a new update to its Chrome browser. The update has a new feature called WebRTC (real time communication). This new standardized feature allows for websites and applications to use your system’s camera and microphone. Google

If you think your privacy is safe with Google- think again. According to Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who is co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, “The new Google privacy policy is: You have no privacy.” Combine this with Google recently handing over more than 11,000 individuals’ personal information to the government, and you can probably see how this new standard feature could become a go to tool for those seeking to see and hear you without you knowing.

Previous to the new update, apps and websites had to use a browser plug-in for audio and visual correspondence with a user. A user could easily disable, or choose not to install one of these plug-ins if they so happen to be concerned. However, users who try and disable the feature on Chrome will not be allowed to do so.  Furthermore, you cannot refuse the automatic update either, unless you have the know-how to turn off automatic updates on chrome. Chrome does require websites and apps to “ask for permission” to use the feature. However, anyone with even limited computer technology can bypass this in moments.

“The risk isn’t really larger than having Flash installed,” Ullrich told SecurityNewsDaily via email. “Flash already had the ability to access the camera and microphone, and had some vulnerabilities that allowed websites to trick the user into enabling the camera/microphone via clickjacking.”  However, users can choose whether or not to have flash, or disable it.

Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer are working on including WebRTC in future versions.

Google did not immediately respond. However, days after news started to circulate they provided the following statement:

“We are working closely with the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] to ensure there is a high standard of security and transparency with the GetUserMedia API [which enables WebRTC in Chrome], including ensuring the user is in control of whether and how media is used, and to make any usage transparent through in-product notifications. For example, the user needs to give permission for a site to use the camera by clicking ‘allow’ and a persistent notification that the camera is turned on will be present until the camera is turned off to remind users. Because both the user consent (infobar) and notification mechanisms (system tray and persistent bubble) are in the browser, it’s isolated from website content and therefore much harder to be broken by malicious sites.”

It is not immediately clear how this new technology may affect those who use Chrome and other browsers. However, it does seem to raise some valid concerns.

Tip: If you are concerned about your browser privacy while searching try ditching Google for DuckDuckGo. Using DuckDuckGo allows you to search completely free of most any privacy concerns.