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Monday, April 29, 2013

3D-printed weapons producer prepares to print world’s first complete working handgun

Last week University of Texas law student Cody Wilson told the Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York that within the next few weeks he will successfully produce a working handgun with 3D printing technology.  The weapon is expected to be capable of firing at least a few shots before breaking or melting and will be printed in 12 parts using ABS+, a sturdy, conventional 3D-printed thermoplastic.  In addition to its 3D-printed components, the gun will also require one small metal firing pin and conventional ammunition.

Mr. Wilson is founder and director of Defense Distributed (DefDist), a controversial non-profit he established last year to explore the possibility of manufacturing weapons with 3D printers.   Mr. Wilson calls his mission the "Wiki Weapon Project". In 2012, DefDist 3D-printed a lower receiver for an AR-15 rifle.  Earlier this year it 3D-printed a 30-round AR-15 magazine, besides obtaining a U.S. federal arms licence.  For some time other gun enthusiasts have been conducting similar experiments (e.g., see my blog post of 31 July 2012 ).

After printing and testing his new 3D-printed gun, Mr. Wilson plans to upload his model files to the Internet so that anyone else can print one.  Debates are already exploding (pardon the pun) on government, legal, and social-media forums over the implications of these pending developments for gun control and civil rights.

One sample discussion can be found on LinkedIn's Disruptive Print Group at:
As of 3 May 2013, participates universally expressed the hope that 3D printing technology will be used for good not evil.

  I conclude that it's probably better to focus on its more constructive applications; for example, in the housing and fashion fields, cars, prosthetics for amputees, and implants for reconstructive surgery (see links below). 

Links on Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed:

Friday, April 26, 2013

Canada Post claims to own Canadian postal codes and the phrase “postal code” in English and French

Canada Post, the Crown corporation responsible for carrying the nation’s mail, became the brunt of jokes this week for the copyright claims it has made--not only on Canada's postal codes, but also the phrases "postal code" in English and "code postale" in French (Canada’s two official languages).
In spring 2012, Canada Post launched a lawsuit against the Internet company Geolytica for providing a free database of Canadian postal codes on line. Geolytica runs the geocoding site, which turns street addresses into geographic co-ordinates so they can be mapped.
Although postal and zip-code data is available for free to companies in the U.K. and the U.S.A., Canada Post charges companies between $5,500 and $50,500 a year for access to its copyrighted postal-code database.  Canada Post’s original lawsuit against Geolytica is based on the claim that Canada Post loses major revenue when people distribute its postal-code information for free.  Geolytica’s counterclaim is that it never stole Canada Post's information, but rather since 2004 has been compiling its own database of postal codes by crowdsourcing the information from on-line users who provided it voluntarily. 
The latest in the year-old lawsuit is that on March 9 Canada Post filed an updated statement of claim alleging that Geolytica and other sites owned by Ervin Ruci violate Canada Post’s trademark on the terms "postal code" and "code postale."
The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic is representing Geolytica pro-bono, because for one reason the high cost of using Canada Post’s data also limits innovation opportunities for developers who want to incorporate the data into geo-location software products.  A court date has not been set yet.
Meanwhile Treasury Board Secretariat president Tony Clement continues to tout the Canadian federal government’s “open data initiative,” which aims to make government-controlled information from hundreds of sources (including safety recalls, food-inspection reports, business licences, and Statistics Canada research) accessible to Canadians.
QMI Agency reports:  "’Other than filling my mailbox with junk mail, misusing the legal system to pursue absurd claims appears to be the way those overpaid pencil sharpeners see as the way out of the woods,’" Ruci wrote on his blog, referring to a recent Conference Board of Canada report predicting Canada Post's annual operating loss will reach $1 billion by 2020."
The Ottawa Citizen writes:  “Ervin Ruci, founder of, said the hassle Canada Post has presented over the collection and use of postal code data should act as a warning to any business trying to using government-created data for financial gain. He pointed to several other businesses, including Canadian Tire and Walmart, that ask for postal code information in order to present customers with a local store’s sale flyer.”
A Citizen reader comments in a letter to the editor:
“Canada Post has forgotten that they exist for the benefit of Canadians not for the benefit of the Canada Post corporation. Their recent desire to keep the words ‘postal code’ for themselves is ridiculous.
“It is equivalent to the City of Ottawa saying that street addresses belong to them so that we would not be able to say ‘24 Sussex Drive’ without permission.
“Instead, we'd have to say something like ‘the big house on the river where [Canadian Prime Minister] Stephen Harper lives.’”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Pierre Karl Péladeau to chair Hydro-Québec and help Quebecor seek National Hockey League team for Quebec City

Further to my post of 15 March 2013 (, on May 15 (a week after he leaves his role as president and CEO of Quebecor on May 8) Pierre Karl Péladeau will become chairman of the board and an independent board member of the Crown corporation Hydro-Québec, Canada’s largest power utility.  Mr. Péladeau reportedly asked for and received this prestigious new role from Quebec Premier Pauline Marois, whose office announced the appointment last week.

Macleans has already criticized the appointment as a nakedly political and partisan move by Ms. Marois’s party, the Parti Québécois.  Yesterday’s Montreal Gazette speculates that Mr. Péladeau’s ultimate goal is to become Quebec’s next premier.

His new role is expected to last five years and to save Hydro-Québec over $500,000 (since he has asked not to be paid, and his predecessor, Michael Turcotte, received $125,000 annually.)

Meanwhile Mr. Péladeau will also remain the largest shareholder of Quebecor Inc. (effectively retaining him control of the company that his father founded in 1950) and will also assume a new position as chairman of two Quebecor subsidiaries, Quebecor Media Inc. (QMI) and TVA Group.  He has also been named vice-chairman of the board at parent company Quebecor Inc., and will retain a mandate from Quebecor to seek a National Hockey League team for Quebec City. 
Additionally, Mr. Péladeau is back in the news for his part in an August news conference asking the federal government to disallow a proposed takeover of Astral Media Inc. by Bell Media, since despite opposition the takeover still seems to be actively proceeding.
Pierre Karl Péladeau’s Hockey Project
In 2011 Mr. Péladeau was reportedly instrumental in persuading Quebec’s former Liberal provincial government to commit up to $200 million toward a new National Hockey League-ready arena in Quebec City by offering additional tens of millions of dollars to support the project.  
Then In March 2012 he secured a deal with Quebec City to give Quebecor naming rights for the future arena and exclusive rights to manage the facility.
By the terms of the deal, if an NHL team is acquired, Quebecor will pay the city $63.5 million for naming rights, plus $5 million in annual rent for the arena. Without one, the company will instead pay $33 million for the rights and an average of $3.15 million annually for rent.
Quebec City lost its NHL team when the Nordiques relocated to Denver in 1995.  Although the new arena is expected to be complete by September 2015, no guarantee exists that the city will ever get a team back.
Links about Mr. Péladeau’s career:

Friday, April 19, 2013

Enterprising Canadian printer releases Docket Manager print management system in U.S.A.

Chock another one up to Canadian ingenuity:  Mark Darling (left), who with his wife Deborah owns Track21 Graphix Inc., an Ontario printing company, has just released Docket Manager, their relatively new, Web-based print-management and estimating system, in the United States.  The announcement of this international development came at the first annual conference of the National Print Owners Association (NPOA), now taking place in New Orleans.  Currently more than 30 companies in Canada use the Docket Manager system. 

The Darlings say it works because it was created by print shop owners for print shop owners.  According to a news release dated yesterday, Mr. Darling began developing the system in 1999 after he couldn’t find a sales-and-database-driven equivalent that would fit the needs of his own company and be scalable to today’s Web-connected mobile devices.  Docket Manager is platform agnostic and runs on any computer or mobile gadget with a browser, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

The news release also quotes the Darlings as saying:

“We wanted a very open system that would be friendly to other systems.  [It] had to be fast, it had to be scalable, it had to be able to easily integrate with external systems such as CRM, accounting,  company Websites, Web-2-print, workflow,  imposition, social media, e-mail marketing, and preflight, to name a few.”

"We therefore built the system in a .NET/SQL framework.   We purposely avoided technologies like Flash that have proven to be a problem with mobile devices.”

“After we integrated Docket Manager, we actually went from 10 employees down to 4 employees and amazingly increased our productivity and reduced waste. Other users have shared similar experience regarding the ability to reduce staff after the implementation of the Docket Manager system.”

Besides continuing to grow their customer base in Canada, the Darlings will now also be expanding into the U.S. market through a new partner, Chuck Lobaugh (right), a fellow print-shop owner of Curry Printing in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  Their Canadian headquarters is is located in Dashwood, Ontario, approximately 50 kilometers northwest of London, near the resort village of Grand Bend. has reproduced their entire news release at:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Recent case in California dramatizes importance of proactive accident prevention

In a development at least as sad as the one in my 8-April-2013 post, on Wednesday in San Francisco, the owner and pressroom manager of Digital Pre-Press International both pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the January-2008 death of an employee, Margarita Mojica.  Mrs. Mohica was fatally injured when the cutter/creaser on which she was working suddenly activated as she reached into it.  At the time of her death, she was 26 years old and expecting a baby.

Court records showed that the company’s staff were not trained on proper safety procedures, including turning off a cutter/creaser’s power source before setting up jobs.  The fatal machine also allegedly lacked required safety devices.

Charges against the owner, Sanjay Sakhuja, amounted to involuntary manslaughter and five felony counts of willful violations of California Division of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations causing death or permanent injury.  If convicted, Mr. Sakhuja faces a $250,000 fine and up to three years in state prison.  Additionally, the company could be fined up to $1.5 million.  If the fines are paid, his sentence may be reduced to just one year in county jail and five years’ probation.

The pressroom manager, Alick Yeung, who was changed with a misdemeanor count of violating the state-s OSHA codes, is receiving three years’ probation.

Earlier, state regulators issued 14 citations against the company for failing to properly train workers, which included $81,000 in fines, and Digital Pre-Press International paid $6 million to Mrs. Mojica’s family, including her husband and young daugher, in settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit.

I hope the day comes soon when no one in the printing industry will carry any more painful memories of these kinds of devastating industrial accidents.  

On a less tragic scale, just this week I learned that two of my friends in related industries, both men in their 30s, are recovering from broken bones resulting from on-the-job accidents in high-pressure workplaces.  

PLEASE be careful out there!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Staying in touch with our roots: New tributes to letterpress printing

If I need to be reminded of the beauty of letterpress printing, I only have to look up from the screen on which I’m writing to the door frame of my office, on which sits a small wooden chase-and-quoin-type frame enclosing exquisitely designed and cast ornamental metal type.  When printed, it reproduces an original inspirational poem written by Phillip Ambrosi, one of Canada’s Old Masters of letterpress printing, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing in 2004.  

The legacy of his all-letterpress operation, Ambrosi Printers (founded 1929) in Regina, Saskatechewan, its products for a prestigious clientele, and the era it represented came to an end soon afterwards, when Mr. Ambrosi decided to close the shop.

"Type is my art; the type is my palette. I've studied it all of my life, and I make it with my own two hands. When I do a job, I compose it," he told me.

"When I'm gone I don't want the local scrap dealer to come and take everything away, so in the next little while I'll dispose of my treasures carefully.”  I am deeply honoured to have been one of his lucky beneficiaries.

You can find the full record of my conversation with Mr. Ambrosi at:

In another tribute to letterpress printing, Neenah Paper, Inc. (Neenah, Wisconsin, and Alpharetta, Georgia) is sponsoring a new Website, conceived, designed, and hosted by Two Paperdolls Letterpress and Design House in Wayne (just outside Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, and featuring Crane 100-percent-cotton fine papers.  Called The Beauty of Letterpress, the site is intended as an online archive of letterpress resources and a gallery of some of the best and most innovative examples of letterpress prints being produced today.  The site is also raising funds to help move and preserve the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin.

The new site welcomes everyone to submit their own work at:
Letterpress printers can also add themselves to the list of letterpress vendors sorted by location at: 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Commemorate today's fatal accident by keeping yourself and your workers safe

A tragic reminder of the life-or-death importance of workplace safety came shortly before 6 a.m. today, when a fatal accident occurred at a commercial printing plant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, evidently involving a tow motor (right).  Lancaster's coroner has scheduled an autopsy for Tuesday morning to determine the exact cause of the worker's death. 

Denise Seeman-Risner, vice president of manufacturing at the plant belonging to R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company where the accident occurred, has provided the following prepared statement from the company:  "All of us are all deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Deepest sympathies to all concerned, their families, and the Lancaster printing community.

Update on 10 April 2013:

More information has been released about the victim, precedents, and investigations into Monday's accident at:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reserve Bank of Australia finally offloads 50% stake in currency printer after graft scandal

I just recovered a lost note to myself from February 2013, reminding me to blog about the following story.  Although at the time it turned out I was too preoccupied with other topics to do it, I thought readers still might still find this information interesting now:
In February 2013 the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) finally confirmed the sale of its 50-percent stake in the currency printing firm Securency International Pty. Ltd. to the UK-based buyer Innovia Films Limited.
The RBA (whose Sydney headquarters is shown above) has been trying to offload its stake in Securency since 2010, when eight former managers and employees at the RBA’s Note Printing Australia Ltd. unit (NPA) and Securency were charged in relation to the bribing of officials in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam from 1999 to 2004 to win bank-note printing contracts.
The recent sale indicates the RBA is “seeking to distance itself from this failure of corporate governance,” said Anil Hargovan, an associate professor specializing in corporate law and governance at the Australian School of Business in Sydney, part of the University of New South Wales.

However, although NPA was also implicated in the Asia bribery scandal, RBA has said that NPA will continue to remain its wholly-owned subsidiary.

Securency was founded in 1996 and is based in Craigieburn, Australia, with a second location in Querétaro, Mexico.  It changed its name to Innovia Security Pty. Ltd. on March 1st, 2013. 

Innovia Films already owned the other 50 percent of Securency before the purchase and has branches in Atlanta, U.S.A.; Melbourne, Australia; Merelbeke, Belgium; and São Paulo, Brazil.