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Is the F-35 a “great national scandal”?

October 15, 2013 1:16 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Comments

In government, the left hand often doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing. Case in point: Days after the DoD got all warm-and-fuzzy over its working relationship with Lockheed Martin and the F-35, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) called the Joint Strike Fighter “one of the great national scandals.”

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Open-source hardware and other stuff

October 15, 2013 9:47 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Comments

More than half (56%) of professional engineers are more likely to use open source hardware such as Arduino and BeagleBone in 2013. Among hobbyists, that figure jumps to 82%. 52% of professional engineers and 81% of hobbyists report being more likely to use open source software in 2013.

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Watch “Star Wars” recreated using an Etch a Sketch

October 14, 2013 2:18 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Comments

The force is strong with this one. I was never very skilled with an Etch a Sketch. And it’s not just my complete lack of artistic ability – my hands are steady as a coffee junkie (small wonder I didn’t become a doctor). But this guy is good – very, very good. Using nothing more than a garden-variety Etch a Sketch, he creates a complete recap of “Star Wars”, and it’s glorious.

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Will the QF-16 be the next step in drone warfare?

October 14, 2013 11:03 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Comments

What happens when a fighter jet is too old to be used in combat by the Air Force, but too expensive to totally dump? It becomes a drone, at least sometimes it does. The F-16 Fighting Falcon was acquired by Boeing after being retired by the Air Force. In turn the aerospace company turned the old school jet into a brand new drone to be used for military training.

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How will ZigBee open up the Sentroller markets for Smart Home device developers?

October 11, 2013 12:53 pm | by Elly Schietse, General Manager GreenPeak Belgium | Comments

The smart home device is about to explode. According to a recent report from Nextmarket Insights, the current home automation systems and services market is about 3.6 billion and is forecast to grow to around 15 billion by 2017. This market growth will be driven by a newly emerging homes service market....

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It’s a man’s world

October 10, 2013 3:17 pm | by Melissa Barnes, Associate Editor | Comments

The lack of women in engineering has been an ongoing issue for some time. In terms of progress, we have seen some marvelous improvements and change for the better. But according to the National Science Foundation’s most recent statistics, an astonishing gender disparity remains....

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Why Twitter is a male chauvinist’s dream company

October 9, 2013 4:57 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Comments

Twitter is in big trouble. The company, which recently began preparing to go public, came under fire for its all-male board and lack of female executives within the company. All of this was pointed out in a NYT’s piece by Clair Cain Miller where Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford Rock Center for Corporate Governance...

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Why the U.S. sucks at math

October 9, 2013 4:47 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Comments

No doubt about it – we're failing our children. We take it for granted that American children lag behind the rest of the world in STEM literacy: In a recent survey, U.S. 15-year-olds ranked 25th out of 34 developed countries in mathematics. We also assume that kiddies are born with a natural affinity for math and science. But what if STEM literacy isn’t an innate skill? What if it can be taught?

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Meet the voice behind Siri

October 9, 2013 2:44 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Comments

Internet, meet Siri. Siri, meet the internet. Surprise! It’s not really Siri. Obviously, Siri is a computer program on the iPhone, but Susan Bennett is the voice behind the virtual assistant. Bennett says the sassy, somewhat martyred, voice was a product of some July 2005 recording sessions for GM Voices.

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Watch dead batteries power smartphones

October 8, 2013 2:02 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Comments

When we speak of “reanimating the dead”, we usually don’t mean dead batteries. And we certainly don’t harness these used electrochemical cells – Frankenstein-style – into a giant, mutated power station. Yet that’s exactly what Thailand’s Vitamilk did by resurrecting a battalion of dead batteries and channeling their energy to power small electronics....

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Why IKEA's solar panels are a great idea

October 8, 2013 12:31 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Comments

Though Americans can already buy solar panels at Home Depot and Lowes, customers in the UK are just getting the opportunity as IKEA, the Swedish flat-pack furniture store, will start stocking the panels.This is such a great step towards mainstreaming the renewable energy market.

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Tool reconditioning fits nicely with lean manufacturing

October 8, 2013 10:23 am | by Jim Norton, Custom Products & Services, Inc., www.custom-products.com | Comments

Although many manufacturing processes have become automated over the past 20 years, there is still a fair amount of manual or hand assembly and rework required. Gone are the days when electronic and industrial assembly required row upon row of technicians carefully assembling circuit boards, electronic modules or entire assemblies without

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New experiments aim to give flow batteries a place in the sun

October 8, 2013 9:56 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Comments

Proponents of solar and wind energy are quick to point out that these energy sources are best because, well, they’re free. But for utilities looking to incorporate these energy sources into their grids, they’re not exactly cheap either.Wind and solar energy storage on the electric grid has always been hampered....

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Peer review is fatally broken

October 7, 2013 1:46 pm | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Comments

"Nobody reads journals," says science publisher Vitek Tracz, who has made a fortune from journals. "People read papers." Tracz sees a grim future for what has been the mainstay of scientific communication, the peer-reviewed print journal. Within the next 10 years, he says, it will cease to exist.

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Fun facts about manufacturing files

October 4, 2013 6:56 pm | by Screaming Circuits | Comments

Circuit boards live and die by their manufacturing files. Without complete and accurate information, the board fab house can't fab the boards, the assembly house can't assemble your boards and nobody can buy the parts. Our old standard, the Gerber file, has been around since about the time King Arthur pulled the inductor out of the solder pot. It's old.

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