The Future is Now; Talon; Ruffle
The Future is Now
Apologies for leading with a fairly disturbing report over at the Global Network on Extremism & Technology (GNET) that's fully titled: "The Future is Now: The Use of 3D-Printed Guns by Extremists and Terrorists".
GNET is a special project setup by the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) which is part of the Department of War Studies at King's College in London. i.e. it's legit, dependable, open, and verifiable research (a rarity in these dark times).
The report came out a scant few weeks before the assassination of former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe by an individual who used a homemade gun to perform the task, and focuses, primarily, on cases involving individuals linked to white nationalist or far-right ideologies.
I'm linking to it as I learned way more than expected as I headed down the rabbit hole of this DIY firearm/explosives space, and how they've been used by these radicals. I don't keep up much with 3D-printing-proper as the affordable home kit is fairly "meh" and I've seen the somewhat amazing advances in the large-scale space, especially 3D-printed homes/buildings. I knew about the early attempts at 3D-printing of firearms, but didn't realize just how far the reach of the now late pioneer of this movement really was.
I made a leap of reasoning and posited that if I was somewhat in-the-dark regarding this space, others might have been as well. I take some comfort in that making these weapons does take some set of resources and skill — plus some components of some kits are on watch lists in various countries.
I encourage folks to read the GNET article and poke a bit at the details of the FCG-9 and other, similar weapons. I'm not sure the recent DoJ rule against "ghost guns" is going to accomplish much, especially when someone files a lawsuit that the bought-and-paid-for Supreme Court Jesters will side with. And, there's over a month left until the ATF rule takes effect, so hurry up and get DIY killing machines while supplies last (sigh).
As the parent of two male (fairly, for better or worse, privileged) children who are both still in the age range where radicalisation can occur, I'm trying to be as up-to-speed and vigilant as possible. Hopefully, these resources can help others in similar situations.
Talon "aims to bring programming, real-time video gaming, command line, and full desktop computer proficiency to people who have limited or no use of their hands, and vastly improve productivity and wow-factor of anyone who can use a computer". It comes with a free speech recognition engine, multiple algorithms for eye tracking mouse control (requires Tobii special hardware), a noise recognition system, and scripting capability. It works on Windows, macOS, and Linux and is free (apart from that eye tracking device, which isn't 100% necessary).
They've got a playlist of demo videos:
that will do a much better job explaining it than I will.
I'm tossing it in today's edition to make up for the first section, and because the tech is both free and pretty cool. Plus, one never knows when one might need this type of tech. I broke my dominant hand back in Seattle (what seems like ages ago), and this tech would have been far more welcome than the single-left-hand keyboard (that I never really got used to) I had.
I've been calling WebAssembly (Wasm) "Kid Flash" ever since the first incarnation appeared from the working group. Adobe Flash is so dead now, many younger netizens do not even know what it is. For the most part, this is A Very Good Thing™. Flash was fraught with vulnerabilities, never worked on one of the most prolific mobile operating systems (iOS), was a resource hog, and mostly failed miserably when it came to accessibility.
Flash is dead! Long live Flash!
That link takes you to Ruffle [GH], a Flash Player emulator built in the Rust programming language. It works standalone on desktops and in the browser via — you guessed it — WebAssembly. It supports ActionScript 1.0/2.0, and has been in use by The Internet Archive for a while, now, to help preserve everything from inane animations to now, legacy data visualizations.
Despite detesting Flash, many compelling data visualizations were made with it, back in the day (the "D3" of it's time), and Ruffle is one of the few hopes for preserving them long-term (outside of packaging up a woefully insecure Windows VM with browsers that can still run Adobe Flash Player).
Make sure to make time, Tuesday, for the next January 6 Select Committee hearing. ☮