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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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?
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".
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.
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).
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.
"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).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
We’re now at the midpoint of Y2 of the 3 year EcoCAR 2 competition. In the last few months, the 2013 Chevy Malibu was disassembled– almost to the point of body-in-white. Further, much of the rear sub-frame was