Andalucia Steve the dream

The right to bare plastic arms

In the land of the free you don't have the right to bare arms that aren't made by a corporation

The US Department of Defense Trade Controls has just forced Cody Wilson to remove the plans for a firearm made of plastic from his website.

Wilson, a law student from Texas, caused a storm in the US recently when he fired a gun made by a 3D printer. The plans for the gun, a CAD file were put in the public domain by Wilson on the Defence Distributed website, giving anyone the opportunity to download and print their own weapon.

This act was met with criticism from many but in some quarters, it was seen as a victory for those supporting the right to bare arms.

Now the government has stepped in and tried to take the plans offline, however they have been downloaded over 100,000 times and now exist in peer to peer torrent sites.

It does seem very strange that only a month ago, Obama's attempt to introduce background checks for firearms purchases was thwarted by the huge a powerful anti-gun control lobby and yet as soon as it becomes possible for anyone to print a gun the legal action is instant and the lobby are silent.

The reason is clear - gun sales. They didn't want back ground checks introduced because guns sales would have fallen. They don't want Cody Wilson upsetting the apple cart by making it possible to print guns at home because this will also cause the sales to fall.

So much for the land of the free.

[Originally published 5 October 21013]

Dropbox file deletion

How to recover space on a full Dropbox account

In case you don't know Dropbox, it is a company offering online storage. Sign up and you can download an app that monitors a folder on your connected device, be it a computer, tablet or phone. Anything you copy into the monitored folder gets copied up to the cloud server and is then available to any other devices you have that are connected via your account.

I've been using Dropbox for a couple of years now and it has saved my bacon several times when I've deleted files and been able to recover them. The service provides an amount of free space and if you need more you can pay for the premium service. 

I try hard to avoid paying for anything so I'm pretty disiplined about staying within the limit of my free allocation. Yesterday however, an ominous red cross appeared in the Dropbox icon on my system tray. When I moused over it told me the worst. My Dropbox account was full and I needed to upgrade to a paid account.

I knew I was only using 3.5Gb of my  5Gb Dropbox allocation a few days earlier. The Dropbox icon had been busier than usually over the last couple of days but I'd not checked why. Clearly I must have inadvertantly copied something onto dropbox which was bigger than I thought.

I started trying to delete things from Dropbox but after ten minutes I was still over the limit. Also the message said I was over the limit by half a gigabyte - this same amount as it was when the icon first turned red. I wondered at that point that the inability to delete files was a feature of the way Dropbox worked. After a quick search I discovered what was wrong. When you delete files from your Dropbox dashboard, they are merely hidden from you. There is a button on the top menu which allows the deleted files to be shown in the list. If you click on any of the deleted files an option appears that lets you delete them permanently. After that the file's space will be deducted from your overall allocation. This is somewhat unintuitive, epsecially when you're in panic mode!

I was able to deleted sufficient space and soon the red cross disappeared from the Dropbox icon. I found later that I'd tried to copy a software installation file that I'd thought was 15Mb and was mistaken - it was 15Gb. Fortunately I deleted that just in time too, else Dropbox would have continued to try and upload it and I would have been in the red again!

Dropbox dashboard