AWS launches Backup, a fully-managed backup service for AWS

Amazon’s AWS cloud computing service today launched Backup, a new tool that makes it easier for developers on the platform to back up their data from various AWS services and their on-premises apps. Out of the box, the service, which is now available to all developers, lets you set up backup policies for services like Amazon EBS volumes, RDS databases, DynamoDB tables, EFS file systems and AWS Storage Gateway volumes. Support for more services is planned, too. To back up on-premises data, businesses can use the AWS Storage Gateway.

The service allows users to define their various backup policies and retention periods, including the ability to move backups to cold storage (for EFS data) or delete them completely after a certain time. By default, the data is stored in Amazon S3 buckets.

Most of the supported services, except for EFS file systems, already feature the ability to create snapshots. Backup essentially automates that process and creates rules around it, so it’s no surprise that the pricing for Backup is the same as for using those snapshot features (with the exception of the file system backup, which will have a per-GB charge). It’s worth noting that you’ll also pay a per-GB fee for restoring data from EFS file systems and DynamoDB backups.

Currently, Backup’s scope is limited to a given AWS region, but the company says that it plans to offer cross-region functionality later this year.

“As the cloud has become the default choice for customers of all sizes, it has attracted two distinct types of builders,” writes Bill Vass, AWS’s VP of Storage, Automation, and Management Services. “Some are tinkerers who want to tweak and fine-tunee the full range of AWS services into a desired architecture, and other builders are drawn to the same breadth and depth of functionality in AWS, but are willing to trade some of the service granularity to start at a higher abstraction layer, so they can build even faster. We designed AWS Backup for this second type of builder who has told us that they want one place to go for backups versus having to do it across multiple, individual services.”

Early adopters of AWS Backup are State Street Corporation, Smile Brands and Rackspace, though this is surely a service that will attract its fair share of users as it makes the life of admins quite a bit easier. AWS does have quite a few backup and storage partners, though, who may not be all that excited to see AWS jump into this market, too, though they often offer a wider range of functionality — including cross-region and offsite backups — than AWS’s service.

 


via TechCrunch
AWS launches Backup, a fully-managed backup service for AWS

27 Free Alternatives to Adobe’s Expensive App Subscriptions


Adobe appears to have upset a number of users with another price increase for its app subscriptions. While the hit only appears to be targeting specific countries at this point—you’re spared, North American users—there’s no reason to think that you won’t have to pay more to subscribe to an Adobe app (or its whole suite of creative apps) at some future point. That’s business, folks.

As you can imagine, Adobe’s price increase has set off a flurry of activity on the internet, with many annoyed users jumping onto Twitter threads and blog posts to suggest alternatives to Adobe’s ever-more-expensive subscription apps.

I ran through @burgerdrome’s Twitter thread, as well as an excellent software-recommendations thread started by @TubOfCoolWhip and this handy image of recommendations from “Cullen,” who I would link to if I knew who they were. From there, I created this list of 27 good alternatives to Adobe’s Creative Cloud apps based on what people appeared to be excited about (or recommend in droves).

I haven’t tried out all of these apps myself, nor am I the target audience for them—as I don’t really dabble in 3D animation, alas. While we normally recommend apps we’ve used at Lifehacker, in this case, I’ve included recommendations from the various Twitter users who have suggested them when applicable. (It’s tough, as some apps just got called out by name, which is great for making a list, but not very helpful when describing an app’s features.)

If you don’t like any of these picks, you can always try befriending an educator (or a student) to score that sweet $20/month pricing for Adobe’s full subscription. A word of caution, however: That only works for the first year. After that, you’ll get charged the full, standard rate.

Apps for painting, graphic design, or photo editing

Krita (Windows / Mac)

“I can personally recommend Krita as a viable open illustration program. On the commercial side, I’ve heard good things of Clip Studio Paint and Paint Tool SAI. Krita also has re-editable file layers, filter/effect layers and layer styles.”@AwrySquare

Sketchbook (Windows / Mac)

“I use Sketchbook with my pen display and I can recommend it. It has a decently easy-to-navigate UI and allows you to save in a .psd format for an easy transfer. The only thing it really needs is clipping groups.”@xx_unsung_xx

MediBang Paint (Windows / Mac / Mobile)

“a really good free ipad app for art is Medibang paint. It’s just as simple to use as procreate, and has all the features and more :)!!!”@1lonelyegg

Paint.net (Windows)

“Getpaint.net is a great free Photoshop alternative and @inkscape is a great free Illustrator alternative. Been using those for years, and I have all the Adobe products, but those are still my go to’s. I basically only use my Adobe subscription for Premiere and AE.”@alexcchichester

Pixlr X (Web)

“Pixlr is a personal favorite! I believe they just added a paid option to get rid of ads but there’s still a fully functioning free version”@notjoykeenan

GIMP (Windows / Mac)

“For photo editing,GIMP is pretty much Photoshop but free ! While the UI may be less user-friendly,it can give out nice results !” @FarowlHd

Photoscape X (Windows / Mac)

“Photoscape is free and provides a pretty basic photo editing software! you can do a lot with it like make gifs and batch-edit photos in addition to your basics. been using it for 5+ years and have rarely needed something more” @trisk_philia

FireAlpaca (Windows / Mac)

“well now im glad i stick to sai and firealpaca. at least they arent laggy as shit and confusing to look at” @finnifinite

If you need a little more than that to consider FireAlpaca for your setup, the app comes with plenty of standard and quirky brushes for digitally painting your next great masterpiece (or comic). You can even make your own, if you’re feeling especially creative. For those looking to draw some comics, built-in templates make it easy to create specific layouts for a strip. The app’s “Onion Skin” mode also makes it easy to draw animations, as you’ll be creating new layers, or frames, while viewing the previous frame as a reference point.


Apps for creating storyboards

Storyboarder (Windows / Mac)

“The features on this are pretty good, and you DO NOT have to be able to render/draw well to use this! It can create shot types from key words, which is…. wild. :o” @TubOfCoolWhip


Apps for editing videos or creating video effects

HitFilm Express (Windows / Mac)

“Somone may have already mentioned these two but VSDC Editor and Hitflim are neat free editing softwares.”@NotQueenly

If I’m correct, Hitfilm Express an excellent tool for creating special effects—much more so than your standard video editing app, which might not be quite as fully featured for this kind of work. If you’re just looking to edit and trim videos, and maybe add a simple text overlay, other video apps on this list might be a better fit.

Shotcut (Windows / Mac)

“I found [Shotcut] to be a very good free editor for video editing. It’s worked very well for me and i still use it for smaller things.”@Monkeygameal

If you’re trying to get crazy, like edit 360-degree videos—as PCMag notes—this might not be the app for you. But for basic video editing with a reasonably uncluttered interface, you can’t go wrong with this free app.

DaVinci Resolve (Windows / Mac)

“Because of Davinci resolve I only have the photoshop/ light room bundle. Once I can find a better alternative to photoshop and light room. Im going to ditch that too.” @Breonnick_5

Kdenlive (Windows / Mac—sort-of)

Although this multi-track video editor is mainly for Linux users, you’ll still find some slightly older Windows and Mac builds to experiment with. Since the app uses FFmpeg libraries, you can import any video or audio file you want—pretty much. You also get a healthy number of transformations and effects to play with, which you can keyframe for greater precision.


Apps for 3D modeling, animation, or vector graphics

Blender (Windows / Mac)

“I hate Maya for similar reasons and stick to blender whenever I can.”@IRBlayne

Blender is the big-guns 3D modeling tool that you dabble with when you don’t want to pay for something like 3DS or Maya. The learning curb is steep, but it’s worth mastering if you’re serious about exploring the space. Once you get good, you can do a lot of amazing things with this free app:

Lumion (Windows, free for students)

“If you are a student, the student version of Lumion is FREE. It is an architecture program that renders reeaal fast and does all kinds of neat stuff such as automatic sites, insertable animations of people doing stuff, you can set things on fire, weather settings, and more.”@samanthagiford8

Synfig (Windows / Mac)

“Synfig for animation! it’s vector-based and works similar to Flash, it can’t do interactive stuff but Flash games are kind of dying anyway”@ljamesart

Anything that’s similar to Adobe Flash, but isn’t Adobe Flash, is a win in our book.

SketchUp (Web)

You’ll find this recommendation on the aforementioned “Cullen” list, which indicates it’s a great program for basic 3D modeling. Since it’s (now) completely web-based, you can use it right in your favorite browser on Windows or Mac—or on a Chromebook, I suppose. And, yes, everything you do automatically saves to the cloud, don’t worry.

MagicaVoxel (Windows / Mac)

Here’s another entry on the “Cullen” list—this time, their recommendation for a voxel/brick 3D modeling program. I’m not much of an artist, nor am I a Minecraft wizard (but I do love amazing pixel art), so I’ll instead leave you with a comment from this inspiring 2015 blog post: “I started with [MagicaVoxel]5 months ago and feel like I have really mastered the tool. I saw a Tweet of voxel art image made on Magica Voxel from Ephtracy. That was when I just finished Monument Valley, which I loved. I had to try that tool and fell in love with it right away.”

MakeHuman (Windows / Mac) 

The mysterious “Cullen” also recommends MakeHuman if you want to fiddle around with creating digital characters in three dimensions. If I’m correct, you can import your creations into another app on our list—Blender—to animate them, which is as close as you’ll get to full-featured rendering software like 3DS or Maya without plunking down a ton of change.

Inkscape (Windows / Mac)

“The vector program Inkscape is a wonderful free alternative to Adobe Illustrator”@GrimdorkDesign

I consistently see Inkscape mentioned as an alternative to Adobe Illustrator around the web. I don’t use Illustrator myself, but if I did, this would be the first app I installed to escape Adobe’s subscription fees.


Apps for editing audio and creating music

LMMS (Windows / Mac)

“If we’re including music/audio editing software, LMMS and Cakewalk by BandLab are both good free DAWs!”@MystSaphyr

“DAWs,” for those not in the know, is short for “Digital Audio Workstations.” If you’re making music, go with LMMS (or Cakewalk, below.) If you need to cut audio or convert something to an MP3, you’ll want an app like Audacity.

Cakewalk (Windows)

(See previous recommendation. Thanks, @MystSaphyr!)

ocenaudio (Windows / Mac)

“I’d like to add Ocean Audio [sic] as a simple audio editor as well as REAPER as an inexpensive & extremely powerful DAW (with infinite trial period)“ @fuzzblob

Audacity (Windows / Mac)

I almost shouldn’t need to say anything about Audacity at this point, as it’s been one of the best free audio editors around for years. It’s my go-to app whenever I need to cut and rearrange audio super-quick.


Apps for desktop publishing

Scribus (Windows / Mac)

In response to a question about InDesign alternatives: “Affinity has one coming/out already. But yeah, only other thing I’ve found is Scribus.” @dukiswa

Canva (Web)

“Pixlr was a really great place to start as an alternative to Photoshop and Canva works well as an alternative to InDesign !!”@lexgts


via Gizmodo
27 Free Alternatives to Adobe’s Expensive App Subscriptions

This “Impossible Screw” Has Mysterious Behavioral Properties

All of us understand how screws and bolts work. So imagine if you encountered a screw that you could advance–but not retract. I.e. you can screw it in, but it won’t unscrew…unless you turn it from the other side. If you’re confused by what I mean, watch this "impossible screw" video and see if you can figure out what the hell is going on, before he reveals the secret:

I can’t think of any practical applications, beyond bringing this to a bar and using it to trick people into buying you drinks.


via Core77
This “Impossible Screw” Has Mysterious Behavioral Properties

Gun Review: Kel-Tec CP33 .22LR Pistol


Thirty-three rounds. That’s 33. The Kel-Tec CP33 holds 33 rounds of .22 LR. Unless, of course, you slap on a little magazine extension and load up 50. Fifty rounds in a pistol magazine. A factory magazine. You have my attention.

Boy oh boy is it easy and fun to go through all of that .22 LR, too!

courtesy Oleg Volk

There’s plenty to discuss when it comes to the CP33, but at first glance it’s all about that magazine capacity, right?

Whether it’s the flush-fitting, standard 33-round clear plastic magazines seen above…

Or extended to 50 rounds with the optional extra capacity baseplate. The 50-round extensions we used were 3D-printed prototypes, but they functioned just as well as the 33-round jobs.

Which is to say perfectly fine as long as you don’t rim lock the ammo. You see, .22 LR is a rimmed cartridge and in order to slide forward out of a magazine and feed into the chamber, the rim of the round being fed must be in front of the rim of the round that’s on deck.

Loading the CP33’s magazines is simple, though it takes some time. The feed lip design is such that avoiding rimlock is taken care of by the magazine and there’s little for the person loading the mag to worry about. However, it makes you slide each round in deliberately, one at a time, pushed to the rear, and it’s a process.

The CP33 is so dang fun to shoot (and shoot FAST) and the magazines are slow enough to load that I [jokingly] told Kel-Tec they should start a core exchange program. I’d love to purchase loaded mags, fire them empty, then ship them back for a refund of my core fee. We’ll just send mags back and forth — full from Kel-Tec to me, empty from me to Kel-Tec.

By the way, no, your eyes do not deceive you. The CP33’s magazines really are quadruple-stacked. There’s a clear polymer rib at rear that keeps each double-stack rim side from interfering with the other, and a stainless steel bar that keeps each crossed bullets side from interfering with the other. Somehow the feeding at the top just magically happens.

Good news; should you manage to rimlock a couple rounds — this happened to me two times over the course of about 30 magazines — it’s usually fixable through the skeletonized sides of the magazine. Unloading the fruits of your labor isn’t typically necessary. Or, just ignore a rimlocked round and sometimes it’ll feed anyway or cause a stoppage that you can clear easily enough.

But enough about the magazine capacity. On to the gun . . .

Courtesy Oleg Volk

Holy cow 33 rounds, though, right? That’s wild. Sorry, sorry . . .

But seriously 50 rounds!?! That’s a lot of pew in a pistol. Especially in a standard-format (i.e. not a drum) magazine. In a caliber that’s affordable to shoot in quantity.

Okay so actually over to the pistol and it’s a big ol’ thing, right? It shares a significant amount of frame or “lower receiver” design with Kel-Tec’s CMR-30 carbine (possibly identical), which has lots of shared features with their PMR-30 pistol.

There’s much more rear overhang than a typical pistol. Which is usually a good thing for reliability; plenty of bolt travel provides fudge factor in design and timing.

It also means an extremely long sight radius. I was pinging steel targets past 100 yards with impressive reliability.

Some of that is the extra long sight radius and some of it is the really clear, bright sights. A swappable/removable green fiber optic front sight really pops.

And a fully adjustable orange fiber optic sight is at the rear.

My only real gripe about the feel or impression of quality on the CP33 is also visible in the photo above: I don’t like seeing those injection molding marks in the charging handle, and wasn’t a big fan of how the handle felt in my hand, either.

Excepting Kel-Tec’s standard assembly process of bolting together two clamshell halves to build their firearm frames, this is the only aspect of the CP33’s fit, finish, or overall quality that was below my expectations.

Also helping in the accuracy department is a stellar trigger. I mean truly great. It’s light — I didn’t get to measure it, but I’d guess 3.5 lbs. — extremely smooth, and it breaks crisply and cleanly. Crisp, short reset, too. The Kel-Tec CP33’s trigger is probably better than that of 95% of the sub-$750, .22LR pistols on the market.

As you’d expect, it’s a fixed barrel in the CP33. This, too, contributes to solid accuracy.

Courtesy Oleg Volk

But the accuracy of the semi-auto CP33 exceeded expectations. We shot many examples of the gun and they were all incredible tack drivers. They made every shooter look far better than usual, as we unrelentingly drilled distant targets at a much faster rate than anyone was used to.

Between the great trigger, great sights, and shockingly high mechanical accuracy plus the size, grip, and rimfire chambering that result in a most incredibly flat- and soft-shooting gun, the CP33 hits the mark. Fast.

Though who relies on iron sights? Thanks to the full-length top rail, the CP33 is ready for a red dot.

Thanks to threaded holes in its aluminum upper receiver, it’s also ready for other bolt-ons like thumb rests.

With a threaded barrel, the CP33 is ready to accept muzzle devices like compensators and suppressors. It suppressed extremely nicely — quiet, with no gas blockback or functional issues.

Cut into the CP33’s dust cover is a single M-LOK slot. Judging by the bolt at front and rear of this aluminum section, it looks like Kel-Tec has kept its options open for different dust cover designs, too.

An M-LOK slot provides plenty of options in and of itself, of course. Like a section of Picatinny rail or any number of direct-to-M-LOK accessories.

At rear, Kel-Tec included a steel tab on either side below the charging handle. These could be used for a sling or possibly bolting on some sort of pistol brace in the future.

In the meantime, Kel-Tec will be offering a QD sling socket attachment. Nice.

But the accessory you really want is a suppressor. It’s the best muzzle device possible, right? Hit up Silencer Shop and they’ll walk you through the process. It ain’t that hard!

And a suppressor fits so very nicely on the CP33, too. That barrel shoulder is just the teeniest hair proud of the front of the upper receiver, so there’s no gap. It looks great with a can on it.

Functionally, the CP33 runs as you’d expect. Ambidextrous manual thumb safeties in the normal location — they snick cleanly on and off — and a bolt stop where it should be.

Only one control is located outside the norm — at least for us ‘Muricans — and that’s the heel magazine release. I happen to like this quite a bit, as it’s perfect for grabbing with your thumb as you strip the magazine out of the grip. It’s very natural when done that way, and I appreciated it on the CP33 just as I did on my PMR-30 and just as I always have on my HK P7.

Though I didn’t see this occur with any shooters and have never experienced it myself, shooters with large, meaty hands could accidentally depress the magazine release with their strong hand palm. At least according to the interwebs.

So it was extremely cold in Gillette, Wyoming, in mid-November when I shot the CP33 from Florida-based Kel-Tec CNC, Inc.

The guns were cold.

I was cold.

But things ran pretty well. Not perfectly, but pretty well.

Some of the lubrication was gummy in the single-digit temps. There were a few instances where the first two or three rounds didn’t want to feed from the magazine because the bolt was slow — just sticky in the thick lube.

There were a few mid-magazine feeding issues caused by a rimlocked round. Those may or may not have resulted in a stoppage if bolt speeds were higher along with the temperatures.

And by “a few,” I do mean just a few. Maybe 10 total stoppages out of a couple thousand rounds. Overall the CP33 pistol ran pretty freakin’ well. At least as well as most rimfires might in these conditions. Unquestionably better than any .22LR handgun I’ve ever shot with a capacity over 30 rounds.

And it’s fun. Oh man, is it fun. Throw a suppressor on and the CP33 is a hearing-safe, high-capacity, rapid-fire little laser beam of a smile generator. It’s the kind of gun that reminds me how much fun target shooting is.

Kel-Tec’s CP33 pistol was so fun I needed a smoke. Plus it was cold in freaking Wyoming in freaking mid-November.

Kel-Tec’s new gun, the CP33, was so fun I changed my religion. Or it was just really, really cold for this now-Texan.

Kel-Tec’s CP33 was so fun I made reliable hits at 800 yards with a Kel-Tec RFB looking through a 6x Vortex scope with an off-kilter reticle shooting plain ol’ American Eagle ammo. In hindsight this may not be related to the CP33, but I was already in a good mood and determined to keep that going, so missing wasn’t an option.

Why a Florida gun in Wyoming? That I can’t answer. But I’m glad the question was asked, because shooting the CP33 made the cold and snow all worth it. It’s a 10 out of 10 on the fun scale. And did I mention it holds 33 rounds? Or 50!?

Specifications: Kel-Tec CP33 .22 LR Pistol

Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: 33 rounds. 50 rounds with extension (!).
Weight: 24 ounces
Length: 10.6 inches
Height: 6 inches
Barrel Length: 5.55 inches
Sight Radius: 8.64 inches
MSRP: $475

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * *
I experienced a few hitches, but overall these early production models ran pretty darn well with a few brands of ammo. Feeding issues were primarily due to the cold temperatures and thick lube, but there were a couple stoppages due to rimlock.

Accuracy * * * * *
Shockingly accurate. Not only mechanically accurate, but incredibly easy to shoot to its potential.

Ergonomics * * *
The grip feels good in my hands, but there’s room for ergonomic improvement. I’m not a big fan of the Steyr-style rear charging handle, but it’s perfectly functional. The CP33 is a large thing, but once you’re shooting it all clicks.

Customize This * * * * *
Suppressor-friendly threaded barrel, rear accessory attachment point, M-LOK section under the barrel, full Picatinny optics rail, threaded attachment points on either side of the aluminum receiver, and fully-adjustable sights. This is a heck of a lot of customization potential right out of the box.

On The Range * * * * *
Fun in a gun. Have some gun fun with a fun gun. The CP33 is a rapid-fire smile machine.

Overall * * * *
As much as I love the CP33 — and I do! And I’ll be buying one — it isn’t quite a five-star gun. Maybe when Kel-Tec ramps up that loaded magazine core exchange program. Or if the rear charging handle sees some design tweaks or the aftermarket steps in. But if they make enough that they’re widely available and they can be found for the MSRP price or less, I’m all-in and this thing earns a rock solid four stars all day long.


via The Truth About Guns
Gun Review: Kel-Tec CP33 .22LR Pistol

Protect your cores portably: ‘Defense Grid 2’ is coming to Nintendo Switch next month


(Official Hidden Path image)

Hidden Path Entertainment, headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., announced on Wednesday that it will release a remastered edition of Defense Grid 2 on the Nintendo Switch on February 7th.

Defense Grid 2 is a “tower defense” game, where players must protect vulnerable assets from enemy attack by setting up layers of fortifications, obstacles, and automated weapon systems. You rarely if ever take direct offensive action. Instead, you build up a potentially elaborate series of defenses that slow, stop, redirect, or destroy the enemy’s onslaught.

In DG2 in particular, your goal is to keep hordes of invading aliens away from your outposts. You can set up systems that shoot down, reroute, block, or slowly whittle away at the advancing aliens before they’re able to reach, grab, and escape with the floating cores that power your defenses. The game features “couch co-op” on the Switch, with each player using a Joy-Con controller.

In its press release, Hidden Path wrote that the Switch port “marks two longtime dreams our team has had: to bring you a Defense Grid game you can take on the go, and offering the game on a Nintendo console.”

In 2013 through 2014, the making of Defense Grid 2 was chronicled by Russ Pitts in a series for Polygon, beginning from its earliest planning stages. The game was initially funded via a successful Kickstarter campaign, but when that proved insufficient, an angel investor came aboard to bring the game closer to completion. The result, in 2014, was critically and commercially successful, and led to a VR port two years later.

The 2019 Defense Grid 2 features the original 26-mission campaign, as well as Aftermath, an additional chapter with five extra missions that was formerly exclusive to the game’s VR release. As with the other versions, it will ship with platform-specific leaderboards, which let you track your performance on each stage against other members of the game’s Switch community.

Hidden Path Entertainment was founded in 2006 by a group of ex-Microsoft developers, and made its debut with 2008’s Defense Grid: The Awakening. Its other releases include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, the updated 2013 Steam port of Age of Empires II, and last year, the real-time strategy VR game Brass Tactics.

Defense Grid 2 will be available digitally for $19.99 via the Nintendo eShop, and those who pre-order the game will receive a 10% discount. DG2 is also available via Steam for Windows, Linux, and OS X; on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One via both consoles’ online marketplaces; and has been released for virtual reality on the Oculus Rift and Samsung GearVR.


via GeekWire
Protect your cores portably: ‘Defense Grid 2’ is coming to Nintendo Switch next month

Spider-Man’s European vacation gets cut short in ‘Far From Home’ trailer

Even your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man needs a vacation. Between all of the mild-mannered studenting and Avenger-style world saving (not mention what transpired during Infinity War), Peter Parker could clearly use a break.

The first trailer for July’s Far From Home finds Parker going Griswold, for a little European vacation, sans-suit (and Lindsey Buckingham soundtrack). But a surprise visit from Howling Commando Nick Fury, naturally, turns things on their head [implied record scratch sound effect].

This time, Spider-Man does battle with a suitably emo Jake Jake Gyllenhaal as the globe-headed Mysterio, with help from some new suits — including what appears to be an homage to Steve Ditko’s original underarm webbing.

Far From Home has a tough act to follow after the absurdly wonderful Spider-Verse — not to mention some explaining to do following the events of the last Avengers. Though we should be up to speed by the time it rolls around. Endgame is due out in April, with the new Spider-Man arriving on July 5.


via TechCrunch
Spider-Man’s European vacation gets cut short in ‘Far From Home’ trailer

Game of Thrones Season 8 (Teaser)

Game of Thrones Season 8 (Teaser)

Link

Game of Thrones final season doesn’t kick off until April, 2019. HBO keeps the torch of hype burning with this teaser showing the remaining Starks visiting the crypt of Winterfell. It’s as intriguing for who’s in it as it is for who’s not.

via The Awesomer
Game of Thrones Season 8 (Teaser)

Gun Activists: Let’s Prepare for Current Anti-Gun Political Situation


Opinion

Second Amendment Activist Protest Activism Take Action
Gun Activists: Let’s Prepare for Current Anti-Gun Political Situation

United States of America – -(AmmoLand.com)- This month, the seating of a new anti-gun Congress, makes for a good chance to provide Second Amendment supporters who are new to actively working to protect our rights some pointers, as well as to give those who have been long-time activists a bit of a refresher (it never hurts). We all know our objective is to preserve the Second Amendment. But how do we get there from here?

That is a good question, but before you know how to get there from here, you first need to know where “here” is. So, the first step for a newly-politically active Second Amendment supporter isn’t to set up a protest of some anti-Second Amendment politician. It’s to hit the books and the internet search engines – because you have a lot to learn. Defending the Second Amendment involves more than spouting off in a comments section, where everyone already agrees. All too often, the Second Amendment supporter who goes off half-cocked ends up helping Bloomberg.

You need the facts on Second Amendment issues. NRA-ILA has a number of fact sheets that can give you a good handle on the federal issues we face. You don’t have to be a member to access them, either. But that is not all you need to learn in order to effectively defend the Second Amendment in the political arena.

You need to learn more about your local community – who represents it in your local state legislature and Congress, how they have generally viewed your Second Amendment rights. You even should learn what the current laws are at the state and federal level. This knowledge matters because an argument that would work well in rural Kansas or Wisconsin isn’t going to work in the suburbs of Philadelphia or Washington, D.C., and a message that works in the suburbs could be counter-productive in New York City, Seattle, or Boston.

The approach should also change based on your elected officials’ track record on the Second Amendment. If they are loyal friends, often a “thank you for your support” is all that is needed, as well as their sense of what the situation is on thre ground in your particular legistlature. If they are on the fence about some issues, politely discussing the facts – especially when you can show them that gun-control extremists are not being factually accurate – could win them over. As for determined opponents… well, you smile sweetly for the cameras, agree to disagree, and work to vote their anti-Second Amendment butts out the next time they are up for election.

NRA FrontLines
NRA FrontLines

Why hit the books so much? Well, when people protest, the media will come to cover the protests at some point. It may only be your local newspaper or TV station, but don’t knock it. Many big-name reporters with national profiles got started at smaller outlets, so if their experience with Second Amendment supporters is a positive one, it will have benefits down the road. It also gives you a chance to reach your local community. But that only works if you are knowledgeable about the issues, and aware of the situation.

Find Support: NRA FrontLines

Another thing to do to help your learning process along is to see if you can find other Second Amendment supporters in your area. One good way to do this is to join a network like NRA-ILA’s FrontLines. This way, you will not only have the benefit of working with others who have experience in being politically active in defense of your Second Amendment rights, but you will also not feel alone or isolated. In an era where the Second Amendment faces social stigmatization, this is far more important than you can imagine.

If you are reading this, then you have the objective of protecting our Second Amendment rights and securing the legacy of freedom and an effective means of self-protection for future generations. But you cannot figure out how to achieve that objective unless you are aware of the current situation. Only then can you figure out how to get there from here.


Harold Hu, chison
Harold Hutchison

About Harold Hutchison

Writer Harold Hutchison has more than a dozen years of experience covering military affairs, international events, U.S. politics and Second Amendment issues. Harold was consulting senior editor at Soldier of Fortune magazine and is the author of the novel Strike Group Reagan. He has also written for the Daily Caller, National Review, Patriot Post, Strategypage.com, and other national websites.


via AmmoLand.com
Gun Activists: Let’s Prepare for Current Anti-Gun Political Situation

Trove of Decapitated Skeletons in England Sparks Archaeological Mystery


One of the skeletons—with its head between its feet—found at Great Whelnetham.
Image: Archaeological Solutions

Archaeologists are trying to figure out why so many bodies at a 1,700-year-old site in Suffolk, England, were buried alongside their decapitated heads.

Excavations at Great Whelnetham are now complete, but for the archaeologists who participated on the project, the work is far from over.

The dig at Great Whelnetham, near Bury St. Edmunds in England, was in preparation for residential development, but it wasn’t supposed to yield very much. The geology of the area consists of very fine sand, which doesn’t lend well to the long-term preservation of bones, explained Andrew Peachey, the lead archaeologist behind the project, in a radio interview with the BBC. Soon after excavations began, however, the Archaeological Solutions team uncovered two poorly preserved Roman skeletons near the surface, prompting further investigation.

Then they found another skeleton. And then another, and another.

Archaeological Solutions team members at work at the Great Whelnetham site.
Image: Archaeological Solutions

In total, the team uncovered 52 skeletons at the 4th century AD site, of which a surprising proportion—around 40 percent—were missing their heads, as the East Anglian Daily Times reports. In total, around 60 percent of the skeletons uncovered at Great Whelnetham were classified as “deviant,” that is, burials inconsistent with conventional Roman practices (such as laying the dead on their backs). Peachey told the BBC that the skeletons, though decapitated, were not without their associated skulls. Some of the skulls were tucked under legs, some placed between feet, or laid at the bottom of the grave, and yet other skulls were found alone without the rest of the body.

The cemetery contained skeletons belonging to mixed population, including one small child and two to three kids around the age of 10. Most had lived to middle age, both men and women, and some were quite old.

Some skulls were tucked under the legs.
Image: Archaeological Solutions

In most Roman-era cemeteries in England, archaeologists expect to find some culturally unconventional burials, but as Peachey told the BBC, it’s quite rare to find such a high proportion of deviant burials at a single site, suggesting the presence of a specific population with a specific burial tradition. These so-called deviant burials were likely not deviant to those who participated in them.

Speaking to the BBC, Peachey said there’s “nothing particularly macabre” about the burials, and that they weren’t the result of executions. The heads were carefully removed after the individuals had died, and cut from the front just behind the jaw. Peachey said his team is still analyzing the skeletons to understand more, “but we can only speculate on why this ritual might have taken place,” he said.

During this period, the Romans tried to remove local traditions and supplant them with their own, but some communities resisted, holding on to their cherished beliefs and rituals. This might be an example; some indigenous English cultures venerated heads as part of the soul, leading Peachey to wonder if this could explain the strange burials seen at Great Whelnetham. Another possibility is that this population came from a different part of the world, bringing a unique burial practice along with them, he told the BBC. To test this possibility, Peachey’s team is planning to conduct an isotopic analysis of the bones to determine where this population may have originated.

Image: Archaeological Solutions

An intriguing possibility is that these people were slave laborers, Peachey told the BBC. Their relatively good health, as seen in the bones, is a possible indication of this, as slaves were a valuable part of the working population and an “expensive commodity,” he said. It’s possible these people originated from somewhere in Europe or elsewhere, and were brought to England by the Romans to work in the settlement.

Indeed, a striking feature of the skeletons is how healthy and well built these people were. They had “incredibly well developed muscular arms and upper body,” Peachey told the BBC, a potential sign of agricultural work. They had access to a plentiful diet including sugars and carbohydrates, which likely contributed to their poor dental hygiene, including dental lesions, abscesses, and tooth loss. But for the most part their teeth were very well healed. Some skeletons exhibited signs of tuberculosis, which was common among agricultural populations at the time, according to the East Anglian Daily Times.

Lab work on the remains should take another six months, followed by a formal scientific study. It’ll be interesting to see what the researchers uncover, regardless of the results.

[East Anglian Times, BBC]


via Gizmodo
Trove of Decapitated Skeletons in England Sparks Archaeological Mystery

Kel-Tec’s secret is out: The KS7 shotgun and CP33 pistol are here


Kel-Tec’s secret is out: The KS7 shotgun and CP33 pistol are here

KS7 and CP33

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Two new guns will be presented by Keltec at SHOT SHow 2019: KS7 shotgun and CP33 pistol.

KS7 is the lighter, slimmer evolution of KSG line, with a single 7-shot tube (extendable to 10, and also available with a longer barrel). It’s a pound lighter than KSG empty, about two pounds lighter loaded.

 

The main changes from KSG are the flared forend and the protected triangular fiber optic inside combination sight channel and carry handle. The handle and the sides of the pump are equipped with MLOK slots.

The resulting weapon is very light, handy and easy to control even with one hand. 18.5″ cylinder bore. The longer barrel will be threaded for chokes.

The gun is lighter and shorter than MP5A2 submachine gun!

CP33 (Competition Pistol, 33-shot) uses innovating quad stack magazines in which the cartridge separator is also the spring guide. The magazine feeds quickly enough to support 2000rps machine pistol, so it’s very reliable in a semi-auto. The long rail on top accommodates red dots or scopes, and the muzzle is threaded for a brake or a sound suppressor.

The stainless “pedal” from Tandemkross aids in rapid fire control, and a similarly shaped extended safety is also available. The magazines are dimensionally identical to MPR30 mags but the new design makes them much easier to load.

CP33 is very suppressor friendly, with no gas blowback. The barrel is 5.5″ long.

Neutral balance make it very easy to shoot accurately. The target shown below was at about 25 yards and was shot unsupported with iron (fiber optic) sights. It’s a very fun gun and easy to shoot well.



via All Outdoor
Kel-Tec’s secret is out: The KS7 shotgun and CP33 pistol are here