Home-made grenade launcher digital camera shown off at DEF CON

With the Black Hat security conference out of the way, it’s time for its unruly, wall-eyed brother — DEF CON — to take center stage. DEF CON is always a source of ingenious hacks and unconventional applications of technology, but Saturday’s presentation of Firefly, the grenade launcher-cum-digital-camera, will certainly rank high up the Sklyraov Meter.

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Visit Uncle Sam’s Really Odd Online Warehouse

If you missed out on Cyber Monday, there’s still lots of time to get a great discount at Crazy Uncle Sam’s Online Retail Outlet, where the discounts are as big as the tax code is complicated. Thanks to several websites sponsored or sanctioned directly by the U.S. government, consumers can help drive down the debt by taking advantage of great prices on government surplus — including everything from old NASA tape recorders to an aircraft service truck to a 4,000-square-foot office complex in Burma. That’s right, it’s a fire sale — and everything in the U.S. government’s warehouses must go, go, go! Crazy Uncle Sam’s Online Retail Outlet offers a plethora of government-run auctions of old items, including cars, boats, computers, machinery and even clothing. And all you have to do is point and click at GovSales.gov, the official retail arm of the White House, part of the Federal Asset Sales Presidential e-Government initiative.

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The Real Soldier Behind the ‘Call of Duty’ Games

Hank Keirsey doesn’t consider himself a gamer. He talks with a slow, airline pilot drawl, believes a man should drink his whiskey neat, and uses a bow with a 65-pound draw weight to hunt deer. But six years ago, the retired lieutenant colonel found himself an unlikely addition to the gaming community. He’s been the military adviser on all six of the “Call of Duty” games, including “Modern Warfare 2,” which set the record for the highest grossing entertainment launch ever. If the defensive perimeter is set up properly or if the soldiers move and sound as they should, he’s why.

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Weapons technology: Top 10 articles from 2008

It’s the stuff of science fiction: robots that can hunt down and kill humans, powerful lasers that can destroy targets without leaving a trace, and a weapon that can supposedly knock you down without even touching you – all of these, and more, came one step closer to reality in 2008.

The developers of these technologies say that they will help to ensure that modern warfare is as efficient and humane as possible. Their critics say the weapons are just the latest in a long line of lethal inventions that have increased man’s brutality to man – successors to the Maxim automatic machine gun, the flame thrower, and mustard gas. Whichever view you take, they introduce new ethical and practical questions.

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US police could get ‘pain beam’ weapons

The research arm of the US Department of Justice is working on two portable non-lethal weapons that inflict pain from a distance using beams of laser light or microwaves, with the intention of putting them into the hands of police to subdue suspects.

The two devices under development by the civilian National Institute of Justice both build on knowledge gained from the Pentagon’s controversial Active Denial System (ADS) – first demonstrated in public last year, which uses a 2-metre beam of short microwaves to heat up the outer layer of a person’s skin and cause pain.

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Rare color photos from World War I

Little is known about each individual photo, they are believed to be digitally colored. During WW1 color photography was in it’s infancy, pioneered by photographer Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud using Autochrome plates invented by the Lumiere brothers. These photos are either digitally remastered or works by Tournassoud.

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