back to article US teen cuffed for disposable camera 'Taser'

A 14-year-old Connecticut student was on Wednesday charged with "possession of a weapon at school, breach of peace and attempted assault" after turning up at his Clinton classroom with a "homemade weapon" fashioned from a disposable camera. According to Connecticut's WFSB, the Morgan High School student had opened up said …


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  1. Michael


    The school officials should snap out of it .... before it develops into something more.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Jeremiah Dunn is clearly an idiot.

    You cannot be "demobilized" by an electric shock this weak.

    My younger brother helpfully introduced me to the delights of opening up a disposable camera many years ago by shocking me in the exact same way, and unlike a police taser device, I did not collapse to ground, convulse, risk a heart failure and piss my pants.

    But it's ok for the police to use tasers, that's just fine.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    In other news..

    "Bricklayer charged with posession of an offensive weapon after he was seen holding a brick. A local police officer explained 'you could quite easily hit someone over the head with a brick' "

  4. Steve
    Thumb Up


    demobilizing - isn't that what happens when you're discharged from the forces?

  5. Mark


    Just as well he wasn't carrying a piece of paper too: the cuts you can deliver will cause extreme pain..!

    I mean, WTF, really. If it's dangerous to have a SERIOUSLY underpowered "taser" then why is the much more damaging version the plod get to play with considered safer than any other means of assault?

  6. Alec Harkness

    2nd ammendment

    So, let's see if I understand this? Carrying a broken snappy-snaps camera is an imprisonable offence, but the right to carry around fully-automatic machine guns is protected by the constitution?

    Stooopid Americans.

  7. Tim Russell

    "an electronic demobilizing device" I think not...

    Quote "an electronic demobilizing device"

    FFS it's not an electronic demobilizing device, it is an unmodified disposable camera!

    If there was a sticker on the back saying danger of electrocution do not open, I'd understand.

    Are the police willing to ruin this kids life when all he was doing was showing an active scientific interest in a readily available camera... oh and being a normal teenage plonker like we all once were! (Or at least most of us)

  8. G4Z


    I suppose you would be on dodgy ground bringing in 'Operation' on the last day of term as well...

  9. michael

    sounds like a april fool

    kid arested for making a shocking camra I rember hand buzzers and things for april fool

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Oh FFS ! Anyone with a 6rd grade or higher science education should realize that that's how camera flashes work... Take a condensator, charge it, release stored electricity in a burst to achieve flash. But noooo... Cameras are now considered dangerous weapons ! How long before they're banned inflight ? (it may already be the case, it's been a while since I flew to the biggest prison in the world)

    Next step : "a man who's been hit by lightning is suing the US meteorological office for not having been given sufficient advance warning, and also for the fact that 'dat lighting think hurt, dangit ! it should of been outlawed by the guvmint !'. US congress is considering banning low pressure areas and threatening-looking clouds in the interests of national security."

    B. Franklin is probably rolling in his grave (quick, strap a generator to him and use it to shock some sense into the bloody US of A !)

  11. Owen Sweeney

    Digital camera?

    Remember, fingers can take your eyes out too!

  12. Ishkandar


    Have you finally realised that Americans cannot speak English !! They speak some kind of gibberish called "American" !!

  13. Andrew

    Unnamed Minor.......

    Err but they gave the name of the father...... pretty sure it could be worked out from that by anyone near by.

    Ive pulled disposable cameras apart and accidentally discharged it into my arm .. it hurts a bit, but mostly feels a bit fuzzy and tingly for a while afterwards.

    Worst one Ive managed was an electric shock from a plasma lamp through a motherboard (don't ask), up one arm, across chest and down the other arm. And that was quite painful, and I felt iffy for about an hour afterwards.

  14. Matt Bradley
    Thumb Down

    The rewards for an inquisitive mind

    In the land of the free.

  15. James

    The real crime is

    that the boy adapted the camera himself. It wasn't produced by a commercial organisation which charges huge sums of money and pays taxes to Good Ole George.

    If he'd been "United Shockers, Inc." under contract to the military or police it wouldn't have mattered how many people he'd rendered unable to be mobile !!

    Mines the cynical jacket with the upturned collars

  16. Paul

    I wonder if they should arrest all A-Level Physics students..

    because I (very painfully) remeber the lesson where we built our own capacitors. Two 1'x1' metal plates, and about 3000V across them. Now that COULD give a real shock.

  17. 4a$$Monkey
    Thumb Up

    It’s a good job law enforcement wasn’t so stupid when I was young

    ... because my friends and I would have been shipped off for a long holiday in Cuba for some of the stuff we made in our extra-circular science and technology studies!

    Thumbs up for making a Taser from a disposable camera. Well done kid.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They do give a shock

    "My younger brother helpfully introduced me to the delights of opening up a disposable camera many years ago by shocking me in the exact same way, and unlike a police taser device, I did not collapse to ground, convulse, risk a heart failure and piss my pants."

    Try charging the flash first ;o)

    Disposable cameras have a capacitor to power the flash and believe me, it outputs one hell of a poke. I'd be surprised if you didn't fall over after getting shocked by this.

    "Someone" i know was given a disposable camera without the front panel on when "they" were younger by a "friend" and "they" got a bit of a buzz from the terminals. So "they" charged up the flash and put it on "their" mates arm and he dropped to the floor!

  19. Alex

    That's it...

    .. penalise an inquisitive pupil for finding out for himself how things work..

    Good job Sir Isaac Newton didn't go to that school...

    Copper Dunn - you are a considerable cretin! Leave teaching to the professionals..

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    You must be joking...

    What about all the commercially available toys and games that do just that...!?

    Hey, 20 years ago when I was at school I even made one myself using a Maplin DIY electronics kit!

  21. Stratman

    Here you go.....

    All the instructions you need to build three different versions:-

    Projects 82-84.

  22. Jon


    Actually most disposable cameras do have a little warning printed onto the plastic about electric shock risk. but it is far too low to damage anyone.

    Our physics teacher actively encouraged it, taking apart a camera and let us feel the shock (volunteered of course). We also made a back emf cattleprod for my Alevel physics project, unfortunately the only voltmeter the school had was too slow to register so we didn't believe it was working. kzzrrrt it was.

    Nowadays a teacher like this would probably be fired for making science too much fun.

  23. Danyer

    He should be charged under DMCA

    He should be charged under DMCA. He used a device in a way the manufacturer did not intended. He *openend* the disposable camera and he had a look inside. It is disposable, you are supposed to dispose of it, not to reuse. Make more garbage, the planet needs it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Please remember

    a) That this incident involves the school authorities and the police. Neither of these groups user common sense, they use the rules. And if the rule state that 'an electronic device, capable of giving a shock' is a weapon, then he's just broken the law. "Step inside the cell Kid, and say hello to Bubba"

    b) This happened within the USA. Land of the constrained, and policed.

    Paris, cos she knows all about flashes and flashing.

  25. Adair Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Let the blood run free.

    I wonder what they would have done to my mate and I sitting in class; me holding a strip of paper by finger and thumb at each end, he hacking it in half with a stanley knife until, inevitably, the paper got so short that he hacked into a finger instead. We were far more worried about trying to hide the ensuing torrent of blood than the 'knifing'. Happy days.

  26. Dennis

    Re: In other news..

    A large number of men have been charged with Indecent Exposure. As the policewoman explained: "They all have the equipment. Sooner or later they would have exposed them. We stopped them before this happened. It's really disgusting how men are allowed to go around and don't have to wear proper restraints."

    I'm still wearing my flasher mac. Here, take a look.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    not so silly

    your average disposable camera containing a 330uf 330v photo flash capacitor packs just under 18 joules of energy, thats sufficient to cause temporary paralysis of the extremities (definatly an arm - speaking from experience here) and sufficient to trigger cardiac arrest or seizures in sensitive individuals (and possibily non sensitive individuals depending where on the body the shock is delivered)

    for comparison the average BOFH cattle prod packs only 2-3 joules (though id guess THE BOFH's cattle prod packs a lot more...)

    finally it is generally accepted that 50 joules is a lethal shock energy to humans so youd only have to bodge 2 more capacitors into the camera to have a lethal weapon


  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'd take away those sharpened pencils too, officer.

    It's ironic that even as the internet allows us to get news from around the world, many major news stories are ignored, but "look at the 'stoopid' American" stories sometimes manage to get major coverage

  29. Paulcutts
    Thumb Up

    well done lad, sign him up

    Although there is a seriousness about this. I have myself made a tazer from a disposable camera with a flash after reading about it. I think that this lad has shown great intelligence and although misguided, it still a brilliant use of science to help his situation.

    I accidentally zapped myself with my home made tazer and they are quite harmless, painful but harmless (actually 2 friends hurt themselves laughing when I stunned myself but this doesnt count)

    IT Angle


    Certainly gives a bit of a poke, but nothing I would consider dangerous (even when fully charged). That said, as a child I once put 240v mains through my arse.

    I now work in IT...go figure.

  31. Adam

    Didn't cause me any harm *twitch*

    At an old job we had a disposable camera come apart. Thinking the capacitor was discharged, I poked it with my finger... Bang!

    It was definitely unpleasant, I leapt two feet in the air and my heart was racing for a few minutes, but I really doubt it could have done much damage. Was probably surprise as much as the electric shock. Getting nipped on the ankle by a puppy when you don't expect it has a similar effect.

    Anyway, doesn't this school teach electronics, ever? What do they do when the inevitable happens, i.e. a kid wires an electrolytic capacitor backwards across a power supply then calmly retires to a safe distance to see what happens? ;-)

  32. Anonymous Coward


    Haughwout? Electrickery? It's all a bit Harry Potter isn't it?

  33. PaddyR


    "shock from a plasma lamp through a motherboard", no, really, we do have to ask

  34. James Bray
    Thumb Down


    I remember doing this at school all the time with my camera. It's just that the flash charges up in a buffer and if you touch a certain bit inside it discharges into your hand.

    Doesn't "immobilize" in any way, and is probably much weaker than an electric fence that you are legally allowed to have around any property you own.

    Another overreaction by the left wingers in the country.

  35. Steve

    @AC and @ Jon

    Do you know anything about electricity and electronics?

    Far from being "weak" ~300Vdc across a 200-400uF flash cap CAN be really nasty stuff - easily as bad as a 230Vac mains shock - it's more or less the same voltage. The effective resistance of the cap is easily low enough to hold its voltage when under 100mA load (10x safe limit); in fact they're good for many amps (that's how you get the powerful flash). Sure there's not enough energy to turn a victim into toast but an elderly person may well remain permanently 'demobilised'.

    PS: I've designed many a switching power supply and have numerous patents in electronic design.

  36. Alan Parsons

    I had one of these...

    ...back at school. A friend and I made it, but we didn't use a disposable battery, we had one of those old flashes that mounts on the top of a proper camera. It took 6 AA batteries and had a 'test' button so you could set the flash off without the camera attached. We had two long nails stuck out of the plastic case and just took the leads off the bulb holder and wired them to the nails instead. It did _seriously_ hurt, but was more useful for opening other people's lockers as if you hit the test button with the nails held against a metal plate it would make a bit of a hole.. One quick lap of the lock and then a bit of brute force and ignorance and a locker could be pwned pretty fast :)

  37. Spleen

    Re: 11:00

    "It's ironic that even as the internet allows us to get news from around the world, many major news stories are ignored, but "look at the 'stoopid' American" stories sometimes manage to get major coverage"

    You've got to remember that these are the guys who consider themselves willing, able and entitled to police the world. Therefore their ability to police themselves is of immense interest to everyone.

  38. Pete Silver badge

    Ban wooly jumpers and nylon knickers

    If we're talking electric shocks, what about static electricity?

    Presumably if you accidentally give someone - or yourself a shock that's OK. But if you do it deliberately that classes your clothes as a dangerous weapon.

  39. Mike


    This is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard, no wonder the science scores in the US are dropping faster than the housing market. I wonder how much Jail time I should get for the little boxes I used to make in school?? They were powered by 5 9V batteries that charged about 6 5000mf caps at about 3kv. I would switch them on leave them sitting (and humming) and just wait for someone to try to pick it up. Heck, we used to have contests to see who could hold on to them the longest. Fun stuff. Sure, we used to get into trouble for that kind of stuff, a stern lecture from the dean, but jail time for weapons, gimme a break.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    common sense?

    is it my imagination but are majority of educational institutions are set up to kill common sense?

    next thing they will tell kids that 9v battery can kill them if they lick them....

    or if you stop breathing for more than a second you will sufficate?

    or if you spin in place ten times the earth will stop?

    or if you make ugly faces your face will stay that way?

    and my personal favorate: evolution does not exist!

  41. Joe K

    Arrest all the geeks

    What about that kid from the 60's who tried to build a small nuclear reactor from his own fission pile in his garden shed.

    I'm sure he'd be hung, drawn and quartered by Bush's minions these days.

  42. Niall Campbell

    Piezo Electric Lighters..

    In my day's at school, we'd take these apart, come up close to the unsuspecting and give them a jolt.

    Mines the one with the arrows on it. I'm expecting the boys in blue round any time!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How'd the teacher get shocked?

    I'm sure kid Macgyver will be popular in reform school.....Bottom line is the kid shocked the teacher by modifying a household item....

  44. E

    Officer Barney Fife in search of a crime

    I know the kid. Take a look at the video of the Dad "shocking" himself. He isn't mimicking "THE SHOCK", he is actually doing this. Every media outlet did not choose to show this demonstration. He opens the camera, pushes the button to activate the flash and shockingly touches the camera. He didn't fall or become immobilized. Sad thing that the offense (now being charged as a felony) races across the internet and news channels "in a flash", but his exoneration will not. Why don't you all here who know something about basic high school science email the High School that choose to bring in an officer to trouble shoot this issue instead of a science teacher. Presumably they had a science teacher in the building ... well considering what happened maybe not! Morgan High School, Clinton Connecticut USA. Help this Honor student regain his honor.

  45. this


    Ah nostalgia!

    We used to fill the chem lab sinks with gas through the tap drip-hole in the cover (a heavy wooden thing) with the bunsen burner hose and light the drip-hole just as the lesson ended. Nice little pilot flame until we were away down the corridor, and hopefully the next class filing in. Eventually an explosive mixture achieved in the sink and a really nice explosion, flash etc.

    Then there was the caustic soda of course...

    Now that's what I call a proper education.

  46. Dave

    Loud Bangs

    I guess it's a good job I'm no longer at school then. I have fond memories of taking a large electrolytic capacitor (ex-TV) charged to about 300V into school one day and discharging it by shorting the terminals on a metal table leg with accompanying loud bang. Fortunately, when the French teacher came to examine evidence, it was obviously harmless and not capable of doing anything. I wouldn't have tried it in the physics lesson...

    As for chemistry, ammonia solution and conc hydrochloric acid were our staple joke, producing clouds of ammonium chloride out of thin air. Especially as the first year class had a lesson right after ours. The teacher got wise to the "Sir! Sir! There's smoke coming out of the sink".

  47. P.Nutt

    Fire in the hole!

    If that officer was anywhere near my school back in the day he would be diving for cover and calling in special forces assistance and most of the school sent to Gitmo as we had an operational Scud missile years before Iraq ever did.

  48. stuart Thompson


    De-mobilizing my ass!i discovered exactly the same thing when i was a kid, the capacitor for the flash will give you a nice little jolt and maybe a numb arm at best.

    The only chance of demobilization is for the person with the "Taser" when the get a quick slap for shocking the wrong person.

  49. kain preacher

    @By Alec Harkness

    "So, let's see if I understand this? Carrying a broken snappy-snaps camera is an imprisonable offence, but the right to carry around fully-automatic machine guns is protected by the constitution?

    Stooopid Americans.


    You know if you are going to bash a country on its laws at least no the laws.

    You can only have a fully automatic weapon i 13 states. A you must ask permission from the state and federal government.

    Oh yeah the permit application for the federal gov is around $1200 . Then you have the Fees from the state which is around $600 to $1200 depending on the sate.

  50. Anonymous Coward


    God I remember pulling apart an old crank-handle phone on my grandparents farm and taking the bell generator to school. I had a length of twisted pair wire and a trailing two-prong plug attached to the terminals with the specific intent of fun and mayhem zapping other students with a 50VAC jolt (I forget the actual current output, but it sure kicked like a horse!). It took a team of 2 to operate - one to sneak up unsuspecting victims and press the prongs of the plug on bare flesh - the other to hold the generator (which was small enough to hold in one hand) and crank the handle like mad at the right moment.

    Harmless fun, but imagine doing that these days ...

    Actually now I think about it - once we were done with that fun, the powerful magnets were put to amusing (at least to a schoolboy) use erasing 5 1/4 inch floppy disks, which were a quite new thing at the time :-)

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    All cameras are Tasers?


    1) Every camera with a flash is going to have capacitors.

    2) Any charged capacitor can shock you.


    All cameras are Tasers.

  52. Stratman

    Do Playmobile do a toy camera?

    Time for another reconstruction, methinks.

  53. John Wolff

    This has nothing to do with Bush, or his minions.

    Schools in the US are run by the left-liberal-fascist education establishment, not by Bush-Cheney and their ilk.

    Luckily, most American kids are too smart to be taken in by their Marxist crap, so we end up with prodigies like this young man all the time.

  54. Anonymous Coward


    This is ludicrous... only a couple years ago when I was in high school, my friends and I who were running sound for the musical amused ourselves by making chains out of all the partially-used batteries left over from the wireless microphones (they had to be changed after every act of every show and rehearsal, so they would usually be about 2/3 drained. Add in a 2-act show and 13 mics... we had lots of batteries). However, we did not zap each other with them, but convinced quite a few 'unsuspecting' teachers to hold the ends and get a small shock.

  55. Bill Gould
    Thumb Down

    Only in the U S of ... uhm... R?


    I'm so very glad that I'm long since done with school and that I have no little spawn in school. They seem to simply be dens where kids go to be herded around by the dumbest society had to offer - after electing its officials.

  56. Daniel B.

    @Bell Generator AC

    Um.. IIRC, last time I checked, my phone line's voltage was 60VDC. Though I haven't used phones that old, most I've gotten my hands into were rotary-dial bakelite handsets that were still in widespread use here in Mexico back in the 80's!

    Zapping devices are commonplace amongst secondary school and highschool students, why oh why is this classified as a "lethal weapon"? That would mean all our shock devices are "lethal" as well...

  57. SevenT
    Gates Horns

    Too many cops

    You know you have too many cops around when this kind of thing constitutes tracking down "criminals".

    Orwell was on the right track, he just didn't quite have the right social set up.

  58. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    The future of duh

    Science is scary. Science is a threat to humanity. Screwdrivers are for opening boxes, hammers are for walnuts, saws are for trees. Soldering irons are for killers. Anyone who tinkers science is a deviant criminal or a terrorist. Jail them to restore peace to the ignorant!


    400 milliamps Is Enough To Kill

    So, it seems from reading the comments that the defenders of this "toy" say it's harmless. I did a little research:

    This person here says he built a disposable camera taser that generated at leaset 400mA (milliamps) of current:

    "Yes, those are burn marks around craters created by a disposable camera taser. This thing has some serious power. I pulled out my fancy multimeter and tested this thing out. With the camera I bought, I charged up the capacitor for about 5 seconds, and measured the DCV and mA in the capacitor. I was shocked at what I found. This thing was at 330v and 400mA only after 5 seconds of charging. I kept my multimeter probes on the capacitor and watched the numbers. It kept climbing, slowly but surely."

    And here, this person says that 70mA (0.070 amp) is enough to Kill "Yes!! It isn't the voltage, but the amperage that kills.The damaging effects of shock are the result of current passing through the body. This current depends on voltage applied and also on the electric resistance of the human body. A current of .005 amps is painful. At .010 amps involuntary muscle contractions occur. Loss of muscle control occurs around .015 amps. A current of greater than .070 amps can be fatal. It only takes .070 amp to kill ! Current(I) = Voltage(V) divided by Resistance(R)"

    Now I'm not saying that arresting this kid wasn't an over reaction, but I wonder how some of this person's defenders would feel if this so called "Toy" had killed a member of their family?

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dangerous weapons, available at your local camera store WITHOUT A PERMIT! OMG!

    "an electronic demobilizing device is considered a dangerous weapon"

    The Nikon SB-800 we have in work clearly qualifies under this rather wooly description, and that's without pulling it apart to get at those lovely juicy capacitors!

    I say this because I was using it off camera and hand-held (so it was on and ready to fire), and as I picked it up off the table my wedding ring accidentally shorted out exactly the right pins to trip the flash. It was pointed right at my face, a few inches away, zoomed in all the way and on maximum power. I was pretty effectively "demobilized" (surely incapacitated is the right word here, anyway, demobilized is what happens when your time in the armed forces is up) for a few seconds, and somewhat impaired until the huge rectangular pink blob cleared from my vision several minutes later! Puts out quite a lot of heat at that power and range too, incidentally. Can't be at all good for the eyes.

    Of course you don't need to short anything out. Just shove it in someone's face and punch the red FLASH button on the back. Then run like hell (or club them into submission with the flash unit before they recover).

  61. Kaitlyn Kincaid

    old days not so old...

    I remember back in the '90s when I was nearly expelled and charged with attempted arson... for looking at a picture of fish through a magnifying glass while sitting in a seat near the window (it was sunny).... a 1" plastic magnifying glass that would have been low quality for a Happy Meal.

    Thankfully my dad talked some sense into the twit of a teacher and pointed out that I would have had a hard time lighting a fire with that thing if I was on the surface of the sun itself.

  62. Nomedias
    Thumb Down

    Hand-wringing morons

    I don't know who disgusts me more; the hand-wringing scared-of-their-own-shadow fools who support this crap or the politicians who pander to them in order to show the appearance of doing something.

  63. John Michael

    not the only one

    I remember getting assault with a "weapon" crossed out on my HS papers. It was replaced with "fruit" after a food fight that sent a kid to the hospital with a fractured cheek bone and apple all over his face... So I can relate...

  64. Stewart Haywood
    Paris Hilton

    I'm in serious trouble.

    If I streach my white cotton + something man made socks to their maximum extent and then fire them across a dark room, they light up green for several seconds as they fly. My daughter and I fire them at each other several times a week. Her long white tights are even better! I'm sure that tracer rounds are illegal.

    Paris, because I bet her tights light up too.

  65. Steve

    @Daniel B

    "Um.. IIRC, last time I checked, my phone line's voltage was 60VDC. "

    ...and what do you think the current limit to the phones supplies are set to? Certainly not at camera flash currents that's for sure!

    The voltage is set high merely to overcome cable dissipation over the long distances.

    For anyone who is interested: I have bought a heap of large, very low ESR, Evox Rifa capacitors and two copper sheets. With only half of them connected and charged to a mere 10V, the spark shower from a screw across the terminals easily travels over one meter. It was also enough to bugger my digital watch.

    The rig is rated to 63V :c0

  66. Alan Hargreaves
    Black Helicopters

    Goodbye High School Physics

    If the rule states that 'an electronic device, capable of giving a shock' is a weapon, then when are Van de Graaf generators going to be banned from Physics classes?


  67. Sean Nevin

    @ all the people going on about current, voltage etc.

    Voltage and Current go *together*. They cannot exist independently. Two points might have a potential difference (voltage) with respect to each other, but without a connection they have no current.

    That said, yes 70mA can kill you; primarily by means of ventricular fibrillation. At a point past 110mA, the heart simply stops and restarts. This is what defibrillator does. That piece of equipment usually runs at 3000+ volts. The high voltage is needed because the resistance of the human body, through the skin anyways, is very high. They also use a conductive gel.

    The little device employed by the wayward (pfft!) student won't kill anyone. Period. Even *IF* you were to connect it directly across someone's chest (which seems doubtful seeing that anyone smart enough to build one of these for fun is probably not that stupid) it still won't conduct enough to do harm. Remember the high resistance of the body? Resistance causes the voltage to drop across a conductor. With less voltage you get less current.

    The skin contact resistance of the human body is about 5k to 10k. At 300 volts (and let's assume a resistance of 10k right hand to left hand) according to Ohm's Law the current flow would be I = V/R or I = 300/10000 = 0.03A or 30 mA.

    Speaking personally, I too built a little stunner out of a camera flash and brought it to school. After they got over the initial fear that all stupid people have when they see something they don't understand (is that magic!?!?) they had a great time playing with it. They even asked me to build them some of their own.

    It's becoming a very sad world; a place where curiosity and wonder are cruelly stamped out and replaced with indoctrination. This reminds me of that piece entitled "Mentor's Last Words".

    "My crime is that of outsmarting you, something you will never forgive me for."

    We need to separate school and state. There is a great article about this actually by a fellow named Sheldon Richman.

  68. Anonymous Coward

    THOMAS HOEY and another idiot with a fancy multimeter.

    Lookie here! My "fancy" meter reads xxx.

    Sigh, if you only had the education/knowledge/experience to qualify you to actually interpret the results in an intelligent way other than transcribing what you read on the display, (or on a website) but then that would be asking too much I suppose... and what would I have to write about?

    I guess I shouldnt be so hard on you, Ive known some EE's who get this wrong. What a suprise, someone on the internet is wrong, etc, etc.

    When you measure current with any "fancy" multimeter, its basically at 0 ohms - a condition that the human body normally does not come even close to. Dry skin resistance can easily (and normally) be in the 10's to 100's of Kilo ohms.

    When you measure the voltage on a multimeter, its across bascially infinite resistance, which almost means almost 0 current. Like microamps small. Which allows the voltage reading to be much higher than it would be across a load which ISNT infinite.

    Sure, you will get a "poke" from this thing, but nothing sustained like a real taser. Tasers deliver their shock consistently over many seconds - truly immobilizing the target. The tiny charge circuit on a compact camera flash is nothing like this.

    Or 330v line voltage. Which has no problem delivering as much current as the load allows, for as long as it is "needed". Which kills people very dead. On the other end of the spectrum, the US Navy has a documented case of a seaman being accidently (had to put that in there these days) electrocuted to death by 30 volts AC.. - but the poor guy was standing & soaked in seawater (My uncle was a tech for the Navy - read this out of one of his manuals).

    The point is, unless youve been swimming in the ocean, or in a chlorinated pool, in the tub, etc, (notice these are all places electrical devices are generally not allowed!), and you take one electrode in one hand and the other in your other hand, and you wear a pacemaker.. well you get the idea I hope.

    "Now I'm not saying that arresting this kid wasn't an over reaction, but I wonder how some of this person's defenders would feel if this so called "Toy" had killed a member of their family?"

    Wrong. Get a perspective. I think 99% of the people who have posted have got it right - This kid didnt do anything wrong, didnt intend to do anything wrong, didnt hurt anyone, didnt intend to hurt anyone and the chances that anyone could be hurt were pretty much 0%.

    We *are* a country of over-reactions when it comes to someone else - but we have no problem dieing in droves from heart attacks and cancers.

    Now where was I?...

  69. Bruce Clare

    So if I have a black belt...

    Does that mean they have to chop off my hands and feet before I can attend school.

  70. Syren Baran


    Ok this capacitor has a current of 400mA. Given DC a capacitor doesnt have a current, it has an electrical charge (measured in coulomb). Given the numbers, 330V and 440mA, the resistance of that capicator would be 750ohm, so no capacitor.

    FFS, he wasnt even measuring anything, he was short cuirciting the capacitor.

  71. Lee Jenderko

    Technical check

    Tasers use high frequency, very high voltage AC to cause muscle tissue to rapidly deplete body sugar causing unconsciousness. TASER prongs are designed to not penetrate far enough into the flesh to let current levels reach a lethal level in the heart tissues.

    Cameras generate 300 Vdc, just like a defibrilator designed to change heart rythm. Whether 300Vdc will kill depends on where it is applied. It can stop the heart, especially in anyone who has a heart defect.

    Commercial off the shelf "stun guns" (not TASERS) come with instructions specifying where to touch someone. They specifically avoid specifying chest hits.

    You can kill with a properly charged and applied modified camera. You can't kill by sticking your finger into an opened up one unless you do a really good job of sticking a left and right hand finger into the camera at the same time. I've been hit with 270Vdc 4 times in the last 5 years from 27 kilowatt power supplies. And its a lot safer than getting hit with 60Hz (or 50 Hz) wall power which makes your heart try and run 60 times too fast.

    Is the camera hazradous. Hell yes. So is a can of deodorant, hairspray etc and a match. Or a bottle of ammonia and clorox poured together.

    Suspend the stupid little shit. Fine his parents $1000 for being too stuipid to teach him not to do dangerous things. Modify the school district code of conduct to forbid cameras, hairspray and anything else the little shits can kill or maim each other with (like the old metal pronged Fro combs every carried in my day) and let the issue die.

    PS I hope the world airports have banned carry on of disposable cameras. LMAO I know they don't my wife just flew with two in her carry on.

  72. Rhys
    Paris Hilton

    What would they say to the standard 9v battery

    They type with two snap cap contacts on the top... The usual way to check they are fully charged is a quick lick across the contacts, which makes your tongue tingle and go numb with the current flow... are 9v batteries now going to be illegal?

    Paris Hilton, because she has exactly the same number of braincells as they average US Lawyer and police office... AKA, Nil.

  73. NozeDive

    Now I have move to Canada.

    I live in a friggin police state.

    I pulled open a disposable camera on a field trip once. I charged the flash, and then contacted the leads to the metallic table my group was sitting at. We all got zapped. Then I zapped myself while touching other people. No one died, or was even knocked out. Tasers will ruin your day, but a camera shock will just piss you off.

    Mine's the one with the disposable camera in it. Boy they're fun!

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @at all those that think this is lethal

    Yes, this can be lethal. If you discharge it via two copper plates lodged in the rib cage on oposite sides of the heart. You will need a lot more power when you discharge it on one hand only. I havn't done any calculations on it, but I am landing on that you will die of your hand being burned off long before that happens. This is why sticking two fingers in the outlet is just "fun" when the fingers are attached to the same hand, not so fun if they are attached to two different hands attached to the same body.

    Anyway, this is a thing you resolve by the teacher telling the kid that he shouldn't be doing that. This is not a case for any law enforcement.


    "The unnamed teen was suspended for 10 days following his arrest, but remains in school pending an appeal."

    Will he be released from school when this thing blows over?

    Paris because I think she was released from school at an early age.

  75. Anonymous Coward

    @"400 milliamps Is Enough To Kill "

    Its a little more complicated than that, to kill some one you would need the right combination of voltage and amperage, for example, static electricity can be several thousand volts and totally harmless, while a twelve volt car battery at over a thousand amps is also harmless. It has to be a high enough voltage ("pressure") to penetrate the skin and high enough amperage (current) to fry the tissues. The exact numbers depend on where the electricity enters the body, where it exits, the skin's resistance, state of the ground, and what stage of pumping the heart is in when it receives the shock, so there have been people killed by ordinary 125V/20A mains voltage while others have lived through a lightning strike.

    That being said, I've had many an adventure with capacitors, most memorable was the time a picked up a prototype board for a little tube amp I'd built not knowing some one had plugged it in a few minutes earlier, resulting in 400V from a 470µF filter (Bigger than a camera cap) through one arm and out the other. It hurt for a few minutes, and made me drop the board but I didn't explode or "immobilize" in any way. I've had some great ones from antique TVs and radios too.

    (PS: Enough with the 'Merica bashing, our proportion of idiots is equal to any other country, but unfortunately our idiots are in charge, and very, very, loud.)

  76. QrazyQat

    yeah, right

    "Another overreaction by the left wingers in the country."

    It's the rightwing that's pushed the "zero tolerance" policies as part of their "if it moves, jail it" approach to society.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brings back memories

    We used to prove who was the bigger man by keeping a 9V on our tonues the longest. Painful and made the tongue numb, but no big deal. I think the throwing stars we made at age 12 in shop class were more dangerous. At least the shop teacher was cool enough to warn us not to use them in class. He was missing one and a half fingers though...

    We progressed to silver nitrate (which we didn't realize was somewhat poisonous in large concentrations) to get back at some idiots that picked on one of the black kids at school by turning their skin black. The school was more than a bit upset that a couple gallons of it came up missing and the stain it made on the school grounds didn't help either. Of course, being geeks in high school, we had to protect our own when given the opportunity.

  78. Denis

    Clinton cops clueless

    Sgt. Dunn clearly has a knack for hyperbole - perhaps the real crime here is the school over reacting to what was clearly a high school prank.

  79. VampyreWolf
    Dead Vulture

    Electronics Fun

    Hell, 1/2 the stuff we did in my electronics technician course would get you sued in the lawyer state known as america.

    10mA 20kVDC shocks (and thats 10mA on the average skin resistance) were entertaining. Considering that a static shock is 20kVDC, you can do the same thing with a good carpet any day. A number of folks in my class installed the caps on their power supplies wrong, resulting in a dozen good BANGs over a couple days.

    I've got the guts for 3-4 disposable cameras, and a bug zapper here that leaves beautiful welts off 2xAA.

    Why do I get the feeling that the ppl making a fuss about this case have never been shocked with 110VAC, never mind a 240VDC charger? You play with this stuff long enough and you get shocked repeatedly. Camera flashes are a mild entertainment, just walk up and zap someone on the elbow for a good laugh.

  80. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Heh heh heh


  81. Steve

    So many fallacies....

    @ Sean Nevin

    So are you telling us that the UK mains voltage of 240V is safe? <boggle>

    @ Syren Baran, "so no capacitor" what on earth are you talking about? ever heard of ESR? besides, the current capabililty is way above 400mA (I did say that above), it all depends on how it is measured - especially if done with a multimeter (remember, that type of meter take slow asynchronous samples instead of a peak measurement). Those craters were done by currents way in excess of 400mA (I have PLENTY of experience in this area, look at my previous post).

    @ Rhys, 9V is fine, I test PP3s like that regularly. You won't be pushing your luck until you see white flashes !!!!!! (don't ever try it)

    People keep comparing this thing to tasers, so can anyone say what the current output capability of a taser is ? (at a given loading). Also, a taser is usually deployed with the two probes close together such that any current flow is local to that area; that's not necesarily the case with being allowed to touch such a voltage source with both hands - the current path path will flow through a much larger volume. Also, the path still goes through two skin layers, the rest of the body has comparatively low resistance.

    Also, the pulses from tasers are very short, usually in the microsecond range; the resultant pulse from touching the capacitor will be much, much longer!! (the discharge time at 100mA is very easy to calculate, you'll find it is much longer than one's reflex time)

    To sum up: there are many variables to consider when comparing against tasers: pulse time, current path, current capability, individual health, skin sweatiness. To say 'the innards of a camera flash cannot harm anyone' is totally false.

  82. Adrian Crooks

    Just because it doesn't kill doesn't make it OK

    The article does not tell the whole story. Was the student threatening to stun people? When the teacher tried to confiscate it was the discharge purposeful? If the answer is yes to either then the kid should be roughed up good and proper.

    If you disagree then I say fine, as long as you agree that it is also fine when I kick you in the crotch. Inflicting pain on someone not appreciative or deserving of such treatment is not acceptable. The arguments I see here are as dumb as the ones for water boarding.

  83. Steven Raith

    SLR camera flashes?

    "I say this because I was using it off camera and hand-held (so it was on and ready to fire), and as I picked it up off the table my wedding ring accidentally shorted out exactly the right pins to trip the flash. It was pointed right at my face, a few inches away, zoomed in all the way and on maximum power. I was pretty effectively "demobilized" (surely incapacitated is the right word here, anyway, demobilized is what happens when your time in the armed forces is up) for a few seconds, and somewhat impaired until the huge rectangular pink blob cleared from my vision several minutes later! Puts out quite a lot of heat at that power and range too, incidentally. Can't be at all good for the eyes."

    As a young Mr Raith, I did many silly things - making petrol bombs and throwing them off cliffs, sticking my fingers into light sockets, and so on. All inadvisable when a mature, responsible grown up. Allegedly.

    The single most stupid move I ever, ever did was discharging the SLR flash from a Pentax camera at point blank range into my face, more towards the right side.

    Before that day I had 20/20 vision, or at least as close to that as you can discern from a ten year old getting an eye test. Ever since then I have been quite badly short sighted, my right eye especially so, and need milk-bottle depth lenses to see to an even vaguely decent degree - I can't even get up for a piss in the morning without putting my glasses on.

    So camera flashes can do serious damage to your eyesight.

    If you want an example of the sort of heat those things can kick out, try taking a packet of Golden Virginia baccy, hold it right up to the flash, and set it off - and watch the smoke curl off as the ink on the dark green plastic packing burns off. Obviously dependant on the colour and material, but gives you an idea....and I did that to my eyes. Oopsy.

    Maybe we should ban SLR cameras? ;-)

    [he says, patting his battered old Canon 300D....]

    Steven R

  84. Glyph

    Not lethal, but not necessarily funny

    First the obligatory "I got shocked once" anecdote. My HS physics teacher told me to discharge the Leyden jar after our charge experiments. Said she would do it but she was pregnant.... That should have been a clue, but at least I didn't wet myself. I shorted it in one arm and out the other.

    If it was consenting male bonding type pain between friends, a good kick in crotch or 300v discharge can be funny. Otherwise it was bullying and results in socially inept students wearing black trench coats and shooting people, and deserves some corporal punishment (the bullying not the shooting).

    Shocking the teacher means he either grabbed it in a violent manner, grabbed the exposed metal bits in ignorance, or the student shocked him intentionally. Which I rate as funny, funny, or corporal punishment worthy, respectively.

  85. Darren7160

    Isn't politics funny?

    One person seems to think that it is the left leaning "liberals" who are responsible for this stupidity, while my thought was that it was the right-wing control freaks that want to criminalize anything not within their idea of what is "right". Please, as we review the depth of stupidity and loss of reason and freedom, remember, this is because of the right-wing conservatives were in power... not the "liberals" to which some want to attribute all life's ills. When it comes to fear and protecting us from the world of "What if's..." it is the fear mongering patrons of our National Village Idiot who are responsible. Not us liberals.

    Mine is the raincoat, because everyone is trying to tell me it is raining while they are in fact...

  86. rachel

    RE: Second Amendment

    Although the right to bear arms is protected by the constitution - fully automatic weapons are illegal unless you have a special license and are not using them for their intended purpose (ie. just displaying them) Also, anyone considered a felon, even after they've served their time, cannot bear arms. At least our cops carry guns when a call comes in 'Help, there's a burgler in my house and I think he has a gun' ...the cops actually show up in under 5 minutes and try to save you rather than give you a crime reference number and wish you all the best.

  87. Martin Usher

    The heavy hand of the felony...

    Nobody picked up on this. This is over-reaction to an extreme and its a typical way that prosecutors who aren't quite sure of their case use to bludgeon the poor sod who's in their clutches into submission.

    You can also blame all those "tough on crime" legislators. That's not a "liberal" platform....

    Its no fun being at school these days -- both in the US and the UK.

  88. Anonymous Coward

    @the wing-nuts

    My mind boggles every time I see statements like this:

    John Wolff: Schools in the US are run by the left-liberal-fascist education establishment, not by Bush-Cheney and their ilk.

    James Bray: Another overreaction by the left wingers in the country.

    Clearly you guys are remarkably immune to any kind of intervention from reality, so I'm going to have to shout:


    Sheesh! Those things you call "liberals" are right-wingers by anyone else in the world's standards. That's why everyone else is getting confused and saying, "Hang on, isn't it right-wingers who are control freaks and want an orderly society with everyone forced to obey and comply where left-wingers are a bunch of hippies who believe in personal freedom and liberty and human rights?"

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: demobilizing

    Yep, demobilizing is when you are discharged.

    The word should have been immobili(s/z)ing.

  90. Jon Minhinnick

    Ah, the old days...

    ... when you put your hand on a van der Graaf generator, and point your finger at the (turned on but unlit) bunsen burner. Crack! Poof! Now lit.

    And the lithium (then sodium, then potassium) in water. And wondering what would happen if you got some toluene and nitrated it. And those balloons of hydrogen/oxygen (2:1 mix)

    Science is fun!

  91. Steen Hive
    Thumb Down

    @so many fallacies

    "To say 'the innards of a camera flash cannot harm anyone' is totally false."

    Of course not! I mean you could accidentally swallow them, or something.

    You appreciate that saying, for example, 'water cannot harm anyone' is totally false too, by the way?

  92. James Prior

    @ Steve ref 240 being safe

    I've been zapped by 240v from a UK outlet a couple of times. Not a mark on me. I'm not saying it's a good thing, especially if you have any conditions that make you more vunerable. But a zap doesn't mean your dead.

    As for disposable cameras .. well I used to work in a photo developing lab. They definately all have warning signs on the back of them. They also make a nice big bang if you throw them into the bin when charged. Never zapped anyone with one though.

  93. Andy Davies


    I thought disposable cameras were just for frying rfid's <g>

    AndyD 8-)#

  94. Steve

    Yet more....

    @ Steen Hive

    Should I even grace that with a response? Let me clarify that statement for those who cannot understand the concept of context: "To say 'the voltage from a camera flash circuit cannot harm anyone' is totally false.". Happy now?

    @ James Prior

    Perhaps you should re-read what I said about the 'variables'. I too have received a mains 240V shock, also not a scar, but it did result with a significant involuntary physical response (as much as you would love to believe it - no I didn't soil myself) and that was only across my hand, not through my body.

    I wish people had a better understanding of the subtleties of these things.

  95. Chris

    You guys are missing the problem.....

    with my country of origin and residence - the wildly wonderful USofA.

    All of this overreaction is not a result of our moronic president's war on terror or the impending wiretap police state. It's a result of our woeful civil law system in which you can sue for being fed a hot battered piece of fried cod. (I personally enjoy a hot codpiece every now and again.) Personal responsibility does not exist on this side of the pond (although you easterners are not far behind.)

    Take little Johnny and his shocker for example. If the police and school didn't prosecute little Johnny would probably go around shocking people until he shocks the wrong person. Then said wrong person goes home and whines to his parents. His parents happen to be lawyers who specialize in personal injury. They then proceed to sue three people - the boy who did the shocking, the school that refused to expel the shocker, and the police (or district attorney) who did not file charges against the shocker.

    A university I once worked at was sued because a student climbed out his window and fell after an evening of binge drinking. They settled out of court.

  96. Dave Moffatt
    Paris Hilton

    Rings a bell...

    Working as a telephone engineer you get a lot of shocks working in exchanges, usually only 50 volts (exchange battery) but if you're unlucky it's an ISDN or a DACS (95v) or at the worst - ring current. It's not pleasant but it feels about the same as discharging a camera flash into your arm.

    Paris - because she's just bloody shocking.

  97. Jon Tocker

    "electronic demobilizing device"

    Direct from the "GW Bush School of Speakifying".

    You can instantly tell the cop's a semi-literate redneck who probably had the nickname "Bubba" for most his life and regularly chews cud^H^H^Hgum - but not while he's walking...

    "Put down thart theer eeeelectronic demobilizin' device boah an' come ovah heah with yo' hands up afore ah blow yo' heyad ahf."

  98. A J Stiles


    I used to work for a company that manufactured electronic ignition controllers for gas boilers (modern ones, instead of having a pilot light burn up enough gas every day to cook a roast dinner just on the vague off-chance that the controls may call for heat, generate a series of sparks to light the burner when heat is required).

    These babies were easily capable of producing a centimetre-long spark, at a rate of about 4 sparks per second, and I felt the full force more than a couple of times.

    Note that a "pulsed DC" shock, such as you'd get from a charged capacitor, is probably the safest kind as you don't need to take any evasive action.

    AC from the mains is safer than steady DC from many batteries in series, because you get 100 chances a second (at 50Hz) to let go of it. With DC, your muscles tend to contract and make you grip the terminals tighter -- though you do have to touch both terminals. With AC, if one terminal is earthed, the surface of your body and the earth form the plates of a capacitor -- and AC can flow through a capacitor, as it charges, discharges and recharges in the opposite polarity.

    230 volt mains is rarely lethal. On building sites they use 110 volts, centre-tapped to earth so if you only touch one terminal then you only get 55 volts. (And also, it makes the tools less useful to thieving pikeys.) The big advantage of 230 vs 110 in the home is that you need fewer amps to get the same number of watts: an 8 kW shower heater is drawing 36A at 230V. This would be even more critical if we built houses out of wood, as opposed to brick or stone .....

    I also once accidentally spot-welded my metal watch strap to the terminals of a high current 12 volt power supply, but that's another story.....

  99. Walking Turtle

    It really is not the Heat...

    It's the Humiliationeers. Good Officer Friendly was never so savage as these Hulking Neckless Wonders and generally shave-headed ones.

    Now Google { sheriff wheelchair dump quad } and have another ultra-violence cop(NOT) viddy. Now keep following the links. Believe me, they are Out There.*

    Evil Prima Donna Terrorwar Artistes. With guns and riot gear and all. Not Bad Cops. Bad Cops are not *this* kind of bad. These Uniformed Ones on the Publick Payroll, imho, are in fact not cops at all.

    Not "Constables of the Peace", to be sure. One of THOSE knows straight-up, right from the core outward, how to KEEP the peace when there is peace to keep, and how to best RESTORE peace when Peace turns up broken or wounded. ALL of THOSE, imho, are from Heaven.

    But Evil Prima Donna Terrorwar Artistes, sad to be telling, reliably prefer to provoke abjectitude and terror rather than provide the means of peace of any sort at all, this side of the grave. I think that all such as these are emphatically NOT from Heaven. Far from /those/ Gates, they are from, to be sure. I smell CULT. No mistake.

    Evil Prima Donna Terrorwar Artistes in Cop Drag, I can give 'em that. "COP", I cannot and do not. Calling things what they are not and never were is how the whole USDC Carpetbagger Executive Terrorwar Kerfluffle got going, Story Problems and all, now is it not?

    Legendary fact: The Evil Prima Donna Terrorwar Artiste Mentality rolled into town one day, all the way from Foggy Bottom DeeCee. She rode in on the wings of three free-falling towers, two jet airplanes, one zero-operable NORAD Air Defense Radar System gone all joysticky somehow, that day, and one heckuva' Big Zero of a Big Lie Propaganda Catapult Job in Spades. Then it stayed for lunch, promising to pay handsomely once it ate, for it was SOOO-OO-O Hungry. Then it up and ate two-thirds of the town... The nation...

    Now these days, one finds more and more Good People are forced out and on the run, rousted by rogue EPDTAs for all manner of specious and foul vendetta-reasons, from coast to Very Shiny coast. But nobody sorts any of 'em out from the swelling hordes of /nouveau-/ homeless Bubble Mortgageers and other globalizationally-displaced persons in our growing Cheneyvilles and Dubya'Towns, so it "Ain't Haaa-aa-appening" by too many accounts.

    No Habeas Corpus, No Recourse. EPDTAs seem to "dig" that item, y'know? Iffen it ain't black helicopters at three AM or the Goon Skwad at five, why, it's bound to be nuthin' but vultures intent on precipitatin' another high noon showdown...)

    Um, Good Officer Friendly never EVER made up his Bad Guys just to please himself, ever, at all.. But hey - who's that burly, shave-headed, neckless jackbooted chap on Inner-Pocket duty in the cloakroom tonight?

    Thanks for the pint - best be going - no coat, no trouble for me - I still have me raggy ol' favorite sweater that I walked in with on, Mate. Looks like us Yanks're gonna' hav'ta' just look Old Plug-Ugly straight in the Taser, and one lawful, peaceable way AND another, act every day to justly, sweetly, strongly, safely, effectively, beautifully just...

    Increase the Peace.

    Reverse the Curse.

    Reject ALL terror.

    (You KNOW you WANT to.)

    * Thank Heaven for the strength and courage of those brave and honest officers who have risked their all to make these and many, many similarly shocking items into the Publick Internet Record. Google Video and YouTube top management: kindly EDUCATE yourself, and have NO COMPLICITY with the EPDTAs who pressure you to censor the Open Internet and the Good Lawful Publick Record therein!

    Genuine Gentlepersons in C.O.P Uniform, I salute you all!

    + WT +

  100. Richard

    takes me back....

    i remember doing a similar thing while i was at school, it involved a large capacitor and a couble of wires hanging out of an old camera....

    made some nice burn marks as i recall.

  101. Andre


    Ahh, brings back memories. I once "demonstrated" my ioniser+tinfoil capacitor experiment at school. After half a dozen really LOUD sparks, someone suggested I touch it. Needless to say someone *else* beat me to it, and I got a stern lecture from the deputy head about not shocking fellow students.

    Wish I'd had the know how back then to show 'em a Lifter, that would have pwned :)

    We had an epidemic over here of idiots zapping people on buses with these things, and taking the igniters from old gas lighters etc. They actually had to stop the sale of those nice battery powered gas lighters thanks to the idiots using them as makeshift TASERs (take of end cap, nuff said).

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