ZORE X, a high tech gun lock

I received an email the other day:

Hello Joe.

My name Is Yachdav. I’m part of an Israeli team that developed a unique gun lock called ZORE X.

Our bullet shaped lock prevents the gun from being charged and when unlocked it ejects by just charging the gun. It also notifies the gun owner if someone tampers with their gun. Is this something you’d write / post about?
We believe ZORE X will save many lives by both preventing unauthorized use of guns and at the same time making guns more accessible for their gun owners when they need them.

This is our website: http://zore.life/
This is 1 minute a video showing our lock: http://zore.life/youtube

I’m attaching some material about us. I’d be happy to send you more information about ZORE if you’d like.

Thank you very much,

Yachdav

I watched the video and was bit annoyed with the falling brass without primers from the simulated gunfire but my only real concern was battery life and how they handle the dead battery situation. I read their FAQ and found:

What if my battery runs out, will my gun disable with no way of opening it?

No.

  1. Your battery will last for more than a year.
  2. Three months before your battery drains, ZØRE will send you notifications, reminding you to change your battery.
  3. One month before the battery drains, when unlocking ZØRE, it will not allow you to re-lock without changing the battery.
  4. In addition, you are able to set your ZØRE to open automatically before draining out.
  5. If your battery drains out nonetheless, you are able to connect an external battery to give it power, enabling you to dial your code and open it.

And:

What if someone removes the battery from my ZORE?

That is impossible – as long as your gun is locked, no one can remove the battery from your ZORE. The battery is only accessible when ZORE is open.
The battery is accessible only when ZØRE is open. Therefore, when your gun is locked, no one can take the battery out of your ZØRE.

All my concerns about “smart guns” (this isn’t really a smart gun, but it achieves some of the worthy goals of them) were well addressed except for the potential to have them become government mandated. I liked the phone app that tells you if someone has moved (probably accelerometer based, it doesn’t use GPS) your gun. The app also allows you to unlock the gun remotely and helps you train to get to your gun and unlock it quickly.

It would appear to be a good solution for many situations.

Update: I received another email after they read my blog post above. Here is most of the email:

It is important for me to say that the option of government mandating it is something we gave a lot of thought to.

We wanted to make sure there’s no [way] to force anyone to use it – that’s how we came to the conclusion we must separate the lock from the gun itself (or from the magazine – anything that’s involved in actually using the gun).

We’re a company that strongly believes in freedom – and ZORE X’s market is people who make the choice of locking their gun, enabling them a reliable and fast to remove solution. For those who don’t lock their gun – ZORE X is irrelevant. We are making a notification-only device that might be relevant for some of those people – but we intentionally avoided making a products that could [not] bring with it any type of legislation.

I’m attaching pictures of the ZORE Watchdog.

Thanks again,
Yachdav
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Update the software on your Apple device

Just setting the clock on your Apple device to January 1, 1970 will permanently brick it. And it overheats as it dies…

By setting up your own time server and Wi-Fi hotspot it can be done remotely to most Apple devices that come within range.

Update your Apple device software. Or, considering using it to fry an egg on as it’s last functional activity.

Consolation prize

This is very, very cool:

Russian billionaire Yuri Milner plans to spend $100 million over the next few years to begin developing the technology needed to build a giant laser array to propel swarms of postage stamp-size spacecraft off on 20-year-long interstellar flights to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to the sun, the internet investor announced Tuesday.

The tiny 1-gram nanocraft, or “StarChips,” would be equipped with small, ultra-thin light sails and accelerated, one at a time, to 20 percent the speed of light by a powerful half-mile-wide array of ground-based lasers, boosting them to a cruise velocity of some 37,200 miles per second in a few minutes.

From that point on, the tiny spacecraft would sail on their own across the immense 4.3-light-year — 25-trillion-mile — gulf, flying through the Alpha Centauri system about 20 years after launch. Each surviving “spacecraft on a chip” would snap pictures and beam the data back to Earth using tiny on-board lasers, the faint signals arriving four years later.

The G-forces are very high and that would make scaling it up to be a manned starship a huge challenge:

The collimated beam hitting the sail of a nanocraft would accelerate it to cruise velocity in about two minutes, he said, briefly subjecting the craft to 60,000 times the force of Earth’s gravity

When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969 I expected I would be alive to see colonies on the moon and perhaps even visit the moon myself. That seems very unlikely at this point. But it’s plausible that I will be alive to see the pictures taken from within a million miles from Alpha Centauri. That’s something I didn’t imagine and is a certain amount of consolation.

Quote of the day—Jan Koum

I think this is politicians, in some ways, using these terrible acts to advance their agendas. If the White House thinks that Twitter can solve their ISIS problem, they’ve got (a lot of problems).

Jan Koum
April 4, 2016
Forget Apple vs. the FBI: WhatsApp Just Switched on Encryption for a Billion People
[Yes. And the same is true of gun control, a lot of banking laws, tax law, and probably 1000 or more other things. WhatsApp is just exploiting a small chink in the armor.

Government back doors to communications violates The Jews in the Attic Test. WhatsApp intent is to keep communication private. This is no small task. I’m certain it is private from your local police force, snoopy neighbors, and most employers. But if a billion people use it that is a very juicy target for nation states. Such a high value target will justify an enormous expenditure of resources to break it. I expect it is only a matter of time before it is broken. But that doesn’t mean that it will stay broken or that gaining access to each conversation isn’t very expensive and cost prohibitive except in extremely important situations.

That said, I have WhatsApp installed on my phone.—Joe]

3D printer tech

I found this (H/T to Anonymous Conservative) interesting:

the only 3D printing systems in the world capable of automatically reinforcing engineering plastics to aluminum levels of performance and beyond, right on your desktop.

Aluminum levels of performance? That probably doesn’t include all parameters and all grades of aluminum but I could imagine it being good enough for a gun barrel accurately shooting hundreds of rounds of low speed, soft lead bullets before needing to be replaced. And if the gun was made correctly replacing the barrel could be quick and easy.

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel expansion test

I recently hand loaded some 180 grain “Gold Dot® Short Barrel®” rounds in .40 S&W. Yesterday I did the promised “chronograph and water jug testing”. Here are the results:

Powder: 3.9 grains of Bullseye
Primer: WSP
OAL: 1.132

10 shots over the chronograph from 10 feet away.

Minimum velocity: 814 fps
Maximum velocity: 864 fps
Mean velocity: 838.1 fps
Standard deviation: 15.5 fps
Power Factor: 150.86

The water filled milk jug test was to determine if the bullets would expand at this relatively low velocity. The 0.401 bullet expanded to just under 0.6 and retained nearly 99% of it’s mass:

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This is very good.

Brother Doug was a little worried that with the lower velocity perhaps a non-expanding bullet would be better for self defense because of the better penetration. Would it penetrate deep enough to “do the job”? I didn’t have any ordinance gelatin but my guess is that it penetrates just fine. They fully traversed three one gallon milk jugs filled with water. This is just under 18 inches of water.

I didn’t expect it would penetrate that far and for my first shot I only used two jugs for depth and put one on each side of the rear jug in case the bullet didn’t go straight after hitting the first jug:

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It fully penetrated the two jugs and I was unable to find the bullet in the berm.

The second time I changed the configuration to just three jugs lined up in a row:

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Again the bullet penetrated all the jugs but I found the bullet just sitting on the ground behind the jugs.

Quote of the day—Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green)

If the US government dictating iPhone encryption design sounds ok to you, ask yourself how you’ll feel when China demands the same.

Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green)
Tweeted on February 17, 2016
[H/T to Tyler Durden.

Of course, as I posted before, Lyndon Johnson once said:

You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.

The problem being that it is difficult for many people to see the “unintended consequences” in foresight. If there is the possibility of a good outcome they will focus on that. In a lot of ways it’s like gun control. “People might be safer if guns are banned because the bad guys won’t have guns to commit crimes with.” Overlooking that the good guys won’t have guns to defend against the bad guys with.

The gun control analogy is an even a better fit when you remember that at one time the U.S. government insisted encryption was a “munition” and was mostly banned from export. It would seem to me that if the Second Amendment were well respected by Congress and the courts then a good lawyer could make the case government resistant encryption is protected by the Second Amendment as much or more so than it is by the First Amendment.—Joe]

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel

As I mentioned a couple times before Speer makes a self-defense bullet intended for lower velocity loadings. They call it “Gold Dot® Short Barrel®”. I needed these for handgun students with difficulty handling factory loads. I loaded 301 rounds (I purchased three 100 round boxes and ended up with 301 bullets) over 3.9 grains of Bullseye and delivered 100 rounds to one of my students last Saturday.

Here is what the 180 grain bullets look like in .40 S&W:

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I’m expecting a velocity of about 850 fps at the muzzle with my STI DVC (5 inch barrel). This compares to about 1025 fps with 180 grain Winchester Rangers out of the same gun. The difference in recoil is significant.

I’ll run them over a chronograph and do some water jug testing (only valid for simple expansion testing) the first chance I get.

Quote of the day—Tim Cook

The U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

Tim Cook
February 16, 2016
A Message to Our Customers
[Such a concession to the government would fail The Jews In The Attic Test. No further discussion is required.—Joe]

Code practice oscillator

Roberta just posted about telegraph keys and coincidently I ran across this as I was continuing to unpack boxes that hadn’t been touched in 20 or 30 years:

CodePracticeOscillator

The battery is new and that is all it took to make it functional. It’s a code practice oscillator that Brother Doug and/or I built back in the late 60’s or early 70’s. Once upon a time we put in a half-hearted effort to learn Morse Code but neither of us succeeded at learning the skill.

This will be interesting

Cosmic breakthrough: Physicists detect gravitational waves from violent black-hole merger:

Scientists announced Thursday that, after decades of effort, they have succeeded in detecting gravitational waves from the violent merging of two black holes in deep space. The detection was hailed as a triumph for a controversial, exquisitely crafted, billion-dollar physics experiment and as confirmation of a key prediction of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

It will also inaugurate a new era of astronomy in which gravitational waves are tools for studying the most mysterious and exotic objects in the universe, scientists declared at a euphoric news briefing at the National Press Club in Washington.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves. We did it!” declared David Reitze, the executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), drawing applause from an  audience that included many of the luminaries of the physics world. The briefing was watched around the world by physicists who have long waited for such a detection.

I’m hoping this will lead to the development of “warp drive”.

Quote of the day—Maj. Gen. Robert Scales

Presidential involvement in small arms has been strategic and game-changing in our history. Obama comes along and tells the Army that, in this administration, money is going into small arms to build — not a deadly weapon, not an effective weapon, not a dominant weapon, not a lifesaving weapon, not a technological cutting-edge weapon — but a weapon that prevents accidental discharge. Give me a break.

Maj. Gen. Robert Scales
Former commandant of the U.S. Army War College
January 31, 2016
Obama’s eye-opening order to Pentagon: Make combat weapons safer, not more lethal
[He is doing just what he said he would do. He is fundamentally transforming our country.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Iain Thomson

NSA tiger teams follow a six-stage process when attempting to crack a target, he explained. These are reconnaissance, initial exploitation, establish persistence, install tools, move laterally, and then collect, exfiltrate and exploit the data.

During the reconnaissance phase agents examine a network electronically and, in some cases, physically. They work out who the key personnel are, what email accounts matter, how far the network extends, and maintain constant surveillance until they can find a way in.

Iain Thomson
January 28, 2016
NSA’s top hacking boss explains how to protect your network from his attack squads
[Via Bruce Schneier. See also NSA Hacker Chief Explains How to Keep Him Out of Your System.

Most of this process applies to physical as well as information security. Use this information wisely.—Joe]

Sean’s dream is coming true

Laser weapons are being tested right now and they are getting close to having them on military planes:

a number of other companies are also working on lasers that might be suitable for use on the AC-130. Lockheed Martin, the aircraft’s manufacturer, is developing a 60-kilowatt-class laser for the Army, for example, and Northrop has advertised its interest in developing airborne lasers as well. AFSOC has studies under way to determine the best solution.

And they are getting small enough to put on a small truck:

General Atomics has developed another version that fits in a box 12 feet long, 4 feet wide and 2 feet tall.

60 kW is a lot of punch. A six inch diameter magnifying glass collects about 15 W (1/4000th of the power of the laser) and quickly fries an ant.

And these are going to get smaller too. A 1 kW laser rifle would seem to be plausible and useful for some tasks.

I know it could make Sean’s dream come true.

Malware for good

What if someone created a computer virus which illegally infected as many systems as it could via the Internet and made them more secure against attacks by unauthorized users?

Would you call that malware? How about vigilante malware?

The further we dug into Wifatch’s code the more we had the feeling that there was something unusual about this threat. For all intents and purposes, it appeared like the author was trying to secure infected devices instead of using them for malicious activities.

Wifatch’s code does not ship any payloads used for malicious activities, such as carrying out DDoS attacks, in fact all the hardcoded routines seem to have been implemented in order to harden compromised devices. We’ve been monitoring Wifatch’s peer-to-peer network for a number of months and have yet to observe any malicious actions being carried out through it.

In addition, there are some other things that seem to hint that the threat’s intentions may differ from traditional malware.

Interesting.

But what you have to wonder is, why didn’t the software writers for these devices (these are embedded systems for the “Internet of Things”) include the capability for automatic updates and eliminate the need for some “vigilante” to do it for them?

First rocket VTOL?

This is pretty cool. Via Drudge. With video.

A rocket with landing gear. We saw that in books and SciFi movies all our lives. Never thought it would take this long, but apparently it’s difficult.

Better book yourself a flight. You get four minutes of free-fall, and the best “roller coaster” ride yet. Once they can go orbital it’ll cost more for a ticket I bet.