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Technology forces your teen to stop texting and driving

March 19, 2013 12:19 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Everyone knows texting (or Redditing or Facebooking or Tweeting) while driving is a bad idea, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it. It’s pretty easy to justify if it’s “just a quick text to my mom” or “a quick peek at my email.” It’s just as easy to end up in an accident because you were distracted.

An itch for telecom reform

March 18, 2013 5:00 pm | by Brian Santo, Editor-in-Chief, CED magazine | Blogs | Comments

More than two decades after the Cable Act of 1992, and almost that long since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, it appears that the sentiment that it’s time for wide-ranging, substantive telecom reform is beginning to coalesce among legislators.

Mourning the death of Google Reader (and finding a suitable replacement)

March 18, 2013 3:40 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Like many of you, I was shocked, dismayed, and several other adjectives upon learning that Google Reader will soon go kaput. As a journalist, I sift through copious amounts of content daily, and it would be no exaggeration to say that Google Reader makes my job exponentially simpler, so I took its demise rather hard.

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Lady brains: Dumbing down technology for women

March 15, 2013 3:53 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Manufacturers are constantly trying to find ways to appeal specifically to women. The justification is often that their product—be it pens, cars, or toys—sells with men, but they’re trying to attract more women. It’s a logical thought process: figure out what a demographic wants, market those specific traits, sell more product.

Green energy pirates

March 15, 2013 9:26 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

I got an e-mail from a friend recently railing against what he called (loosely translated by me) "Green Energy Pirates". Let me quote one sentence from his e-mail. "There is a whole slew of companies that move from subsidy to subsidy globally and then abandon 'green projects' when the subsidies dry up."

Using biometrics to avoid credit fraud

March 14, 2013 2:45 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Credit fraud is a growing problem, and new technology isn’t making it any better. With the advent of electronic wallets and fewer cash transactions, maintaining privacy and verifying identity are becoming an alarming issue.

Is the Nobel Prize obsolete?

March 14, 2013 9:29 am | by Cynthia Fox, Bioscience Technology | Blogs | Comments

Over the last few months, the Nobel Prize has generated much controversy—again. More than 3,000 scientists contributed to the most high profile science event of 2012: the discovery of the Higgs boson subatomic particle. Yet the Nobel can only be split between three laureates. Was the Nobel Prize finally obsolete, the press fretted, in one angst-ridden blog after another?

The best use for Google Glass yet

March 13, 2013 9:05 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

There is something universally horrifying about that moment at a party when you meet someone briefly but you can’t recall his name when you bump into him a few minutes later or running into a coworker on the street during lunch and being unable to come up with anything besides "that lady who works two cubes down from me".

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Drone pilots don’t need a “participation trophy”

March 12, 2013 4:31 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Sometimes — and I stress sometimes — the government does work for the people. Case in point: The new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has halted production of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal — awarded to drone operators — in response to veterans' complaints that the "participation trophy" ranks above combat medals like the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Will future technology herald "the end of insight"?

March 11, 2013 9:08 am | by Chris Fox, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

We all know the cliché regarding the robot apocalypse – we’ve even taken a few stabs at it on the Engineering Newswire. As we broach the crest of technology that operates upon the barrier between autonomous and thinking, it is easy to see the inevitability of crossing over. Immersing ourselves in a world not far off from Futurama, where robots have personalities and rights (sort of).

Array fracking extracts oil safely and effectively

March 8, 2013 12:27 pm | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

It looks like we may have more available oil than we thought, thanks to a new procedure called array fracking. What does that mean? It means that the oil boys are drilling the oil holes closer together. And since fracking is about horizontal drilling, that means the wells are parallel to each other.

Robotic bartender uses Raspberry Pi to dispense perfect drinks

March 7, 2013 4:08 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

"Let our bot get you drunk!" If there’s a better sales pitch for the seamless integration of consumer robotics into our everyday lives, I don’t know it. "Bartendro" is a godsend for those who enjoy a good cocktail but don’t like to fiddle with precise measurements (or obscene bar tabs).

The Microsoft vision for 2018

March 7, 2013 3:08 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

A few weeks ago, we took a look at Walter Cronkite’s 1967 prediction of a media room in the year 2001 and, setting aside the 1960s aesthetics, he wasn’t too far off. Humans are always trying to figure out what the future of technology will be. It’s fun to imagine what would happen if Google Glass became the new iPhone or 3D printing allowed for on-site organ creation. These things could change the world as we know it.  

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A bug in the drone wars

March 7, 2013 12:52 pm | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

A new element is being added to the drone wars: Micro Drones. You can watch a five-minute video by the Air Force that looks at the development of M.A.V - Micro Killer Drones. Done in the usual dominating voice that the people promoting superior military technology seem to like for their videos.

Learn from success too

March 7, 2013 9:20 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions | Blogs | Comments

Too easily, we forget that we should also examine how we achieve those occasional perfect outcomes. As we immerse ourselves in continuous process improvement, we get in the habit of tearing down and examining everything that doesn’t meet expectations, go according to plan, or work efficiently enough.

Forget 3D, say hello to 4D

March 6, 2013 12:08 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Leave it to MIT to come out with 4D printing, just as 3D printing seems to be really hitting its stride. They can’t just leave well enough alone, can they? We’ve talked a little bit about the potential of 3D printing and the pretty amazing things they can do, so now we’re moving on to 4D.

USA claims dubious honor: World's top spammer

March 5, 2013 5:29 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

That slick email from the Nigerian prince promising fabulous riches just might originate from Peoria, USA. According to research from SophosLabs, the United States of America – home of baseball, apple pie, and spam, apparently – sent 18.3% of the world’s junk mail.

Marketing schemes through the Google [looking] glass

March 5, 2013 9:14 am | by Chris Fox, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Last June, Google announced a unique device that is supposed to incorporate their technology into your everyday life. In fact, their sights seem to be set on invading every moment your eyes are open with convenient updates, recording capabilities, and, of course, an easy-to-use search engine.

Obama’s brain project: A hall of mirrors?

March 5, 2013 9:04 am | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

One of the famous line drawings of the artist M. C. Escher portrays a realistically drawn hand holding a pencil. The line drawn by the pen turns out to be the cuff of a shirt sleeve, from which emerges a second hand ... which grows out of the paper somehow and holds a pencil, whose line is the cuff of a shirt sleeve, from which emerges the first hand.

A drag on windpower

March 1, 2013 5:02 pm | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

ECN recently published an article from Eurekalert! on the limits of large scale wind power. I thought it might be a good idea to go to the source to find out if the posted article reflected the actual paper. The first thing I found without any effort at all (it was in the abstract) is that the Eureka people got the previous maximum-estimated wind source number wrong.

Agita over 3D printed guns is absurd

March 1, 2013 4:26 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Hobbyists, tinkers, and DIYers are the unsung heroes of our industry — "hackers" in the original sense of the word. But conflating "hobbyists" with "guns" causes fits of hysteria. And it’s entirely unwarranted. The handwringing over the imagined capability to print 3D guns and the associated moral implications is absolutely absurd and betrays a basic misunderstanding of firearms and physics.

Top 10 must-read posts from February

March 1, 2013 3:12 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web. Take a look at what you missed the first time around or check up on an old favorite to see the conversation in the comments. Keep checking out the Lead at www.ecnmag.com and follow us on Twitter @ecnonline for our most up-to-date articles.

Mayer’s memo ending telecommuting puts Yahoo in good company

March 1, 2013 12:27 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Blogs | Comments

Marissa Mayer created quite a hornet’s nest when she issued a memo effectively ending the work-at-home option for Yahoo employees. In the memo, obtained by AllThingsD, Mayer writes, “To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side."

Why 3D-printable guns are a terrible idea

March 1, 2013 9:45 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Mention the words "3D printed guns" and you’ve got an instant, increasingly heated debate on your hands. When you consider there were 16 mass shootings—defined as a shooting with multiple, random victims—in 2012 with at least 88 people dead including children, it’s definitely a topic worth discussing. My take? No one needs a 3D printed gun or the ability to create one.

Big Brother makes our rational choices less rational

February 28, 2013 3:13 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

While writing my February 2013 column about EDRs (event data recorders, AKA “black boxes”), I came across an article on the same topic (http://bit.ly/12YX4Fe) by one of my colleagues. She commented on the reservations I share with many others about the use of the data derived from the black boxes.

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