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Internet sales tax will only benefit the state

March 25, 2013 3:34 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Get ready to pony up more dollars for online purchases. On Friday, the U.S. Senate passed the innocuously-titled "Marketplace Fairness Act" through the upper chamber on a 75-24 vote. The bill would require e-tailers to collect and remit sales tax on interstate commerce, even when the business has no physical presence in the state.

Nuclear power: The future of human civilization

March 25, 2013 10:23 am | by Tom Ligon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

This is not an article about the environment. This is not an article about oil. This is an article about the long-term future of human civilization. Are you with me so far? Are you in favor of human civilization having a future, not just for another hundred years, but for thousands ... tens of thousands?

The best way to improve distributors, according to engineers

March 22, 2013 4:43 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

How do you deal with distributors? Distribution is a key aspect of the engineering process, and it's important to choose the right distributor. You need dependibility, reliability and transperency to make the relationship between distributor and manufacturer work. 

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The LED rundown

March 22, 2013 2:16 pm | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Articles | Comments

The life of a light-emitting diode (LED) isn’t as simple as some advertisers may lead you to believe. Manufacturers offer numbers like 100,000 hours as the expected lifetime of high-powered LEDs, but those numbers reflect calculations done using optimum conditions and specification points.

Bendable display technology takes the stage

March 22, 2013 12:06 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Corning, Samsung | Articles | Comments

It happens to everyone who owns a smart phone or tablet. One ill-fated toss into the car or accidental drop on the hardwood and suddenly the screen is too cracked to read. Not only does this render the phone useless until you can get to a store, it can mean spending hundreds of dollars on a new screen or an entirely new phone.  

Soldering and other tools

March 22, 2013 9:17 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

I don't have a lot to say today. I'm busy on the bench building things. But I have come across a few good tools and soldering helpers, so I thought I'd provide a few links. Harbor Freight has a couple of good items. Yes. I know it is easy to buy junk there, which is why I thought I'd mention these two items.

Level the playing field between retailers and e-tailers

March 20, 2013 9:38 am | by Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring | Blogs | Comments

As a former local elected official, I know that tax revenues need to come from somewhere and that they should be levied on as fair a basis as possible. It’s a delicate balance, one that does not come easily. Government must be responsible in its spending and should not abuse its authority to effect change in the marketplace....

Fighting to reclaim manufacturing in America

March 19, 2013 1:34 pm | by Kristopher Settle, Energy Curtailment Specialists | Blogs | Comments

American manufacturing is battling for its vitality right now. Yes, the industry is still a global juggernaut; producing 18.2 percent of all manufactured goods, which tops the list globally (still over half a percent more than China).

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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.

Unleashing engineering creativity: The Kano model

March 18, 2013 2:32 pm | by Joe Berk, Principal Member, Eogogics Engineering Faculty | Blogs | Comments

How do we decide which features to include in new products? That’s a great question. If we miss important features or include unnecessary features, customers will reject our products. If we include unexpected and exciting features, though, we can delight customers and jump ahead of the competition.

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.

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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".

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.  

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.

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