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Going through smartphone withdrawal

April 25, 2013 9:34 am | by Meaghan Ziemba, Editor, WDD | Blogs | Comments

I recently attended a concert in Madison, WI. I placed my phone in my back pocket to avoid carrying a purse and to have it easily accessible when I wanted to update my status and snap a few photos. Unfortunately, after a visit to the facilities and a horrifying plop, I knew that I was in trouble.

Please turn out the lights

April 24, 2013 9:18 am | by Krystal Gabert, Editor, Food Manufacturing | Blogs | Comments

When I was a child, my brother and I would play a little game, flipping on light switches and counting the minutes until my dad turned them off. He told us that someday we’d pay the electric bill and he’d have the last laugh, watching us pad around turning out lights just like he had.

Management techniques: After-action reports

April 23, 2013 8:03 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

CBS News Money Watch has a great post up on how to improve management effectiveness. That includes both self and corporate management. The technique is common in the military but not so common in the corporate world. It is the after action report.


iBeetle: Everything you never wanted in an infotainment system

April 22, 2013 2:59 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

We’ve talked A LOT about safety and innovation when it comes to infotainment systems in cars. We've talking more regulation, less regulation, new systems and crazy ideas. The discussion revolves primarily around how to integrate electronics 

Should engineers be licensed?

April 22, 2013 2:20 pm | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

Not long after I chose electrical engineering as a major in college, someone asked me if I was planning to take the EIT exam. What was that? It stands for “engineer in training” and it is the customary first step in obtaining a Professional Engineer (PE) license. To the best of my recollection, it didn’t cost that much and I went ahead and took it....

Fine-pitch soldering

April 22, 2013 9:18 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

I hand-solder. I hand-solder surface-mount devices. So far, my standard practice is to use parts no smaller than 0603s (inch), and for ICs I get them with pitches no smaller than 0.65 mm. This causes problems when I need a component that is too small for me to solder on a board with techniques I have been comfortable with up to now.

This is the most ridiculous phone ever

April 19, 2013 3:48 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

The words “mega” and “phone” should never be combined when it comes to cellphones, but that didn’t stop Samsung from making the most ridiculous phone yet. The company has blown away the competition when it comes to screen size with their new 6.3 inch (diagonally) and 5.8 inch Galaxy Mega phones. For the sake of comparison, the Apple iPhone 5 is 4 inches.

System extends 100 displays by daisy chaining from one display to the next

April 19, 2013 3:46 pm | Product Releases | Comments

Digital connectivity solutions provider Gefen today announced the availability of its new Daisy Chain HD System, which creates a large infrastructure for wiring displays using CAT-5 cable. The system includes sender, splitter and receiver units—all interconnected in a daisy chain concept.


Ubiquitous computing: A gadget for every body part

April 19, 2013 12:50 pm | by Stephanie Carmichael, Contributor | Blogs | Comments

As a culture, we’re obsessed with cool gadgets, and we’ve come a long way from the household coffeemaker. Now we’re creating motion-sense devices that can control others from afar with just a flick of the wrist. Enter the Myo armband, which shows how dependent on technology we’ve become. We want to do everything with one fancy gizmo.

Multi-conductor cable provides safe, reliable data transmission

April 18, 2013 12:09 pm | Nte Electronics Inc | Product Releases | Comments

NTE Electronics is now offering a full line of high quality multi-conductor cable.  Providing safe, reliable, high performance data transmission, this type of cable is widely used in many different applications such as computer peripherals, robotics, PA systems, intercom systems, remote control circuits and many more.  

How to manage creative types (with a minimum of fuss)

April 17, 2013 1:14 pm | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

The First Mate and I were discussing this Harvard Business Review article the other day, and I noticed a lot of allusions to myself. The article is about how to manage creative types. There are seven main points (numbered), but I'm only going to comment on a few.

Schools should take a pass on essay grading software

April 16, 2013 4:16 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

One of the joys of high school and college was receiving my blue essay book back from my teacher or professor. I couldn’t wait to read their comments in the columns of the book, especially when one of my essays was laden with jokes or sarcasm. But that was often a two-way street, as when my thesis statement would indicate my essay was going to go in a direction my instructor found dubious.

DoD cancels “participation trophy” for drone pilots

April 16, 2013 4:03 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The DoD has finally backed down. And I applaud their decision. Following months of negative feedback, the DoD has officially scuttled the Distinguished Warfare Medal. The DWM — intended for drone operators — would’ve ranked ahead of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart (two combat decorations) in the order of precedence.


Why the government should ban cellphones while driving

April 16, 2013 10:28 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

This term “nanny state” is an interesting one. It’s a term people throw out when they feel the government is infringing on their right to do something stupid. Frankly, if people could be trusted to police themselves, we wouldn’t have any laws at all.

Connection system protects the user from DC arcing during mating and unmating

April 15, 2013 3:49 pm | Anderson Power Products | Product Releases | Comments

Anderson Power Products announces the launch of the Saf-D-Grid Ultra Short Receptacle. The Saf-D-Grid connection system protects the user from DC arcing during mating and unmating. This innovative design enables the safe connection of DC electronic devices to a DC micro grid powered by high efficiency DC sources.

We all need Google Fiber

April 15, 2013 1:16 pm | by Joel Hans, Managing Editor, | Blogs | Comments

Almost a year ago, Google launched its first broadband internet network, Google Fiber, in Kansas City (the Kansas and Missouri versions both), with speeds that severely overshadowed currently-available cable and DSL providers for a fraction of the cost. Consumers were able to sign up for 1 gigabit download speeds for a mere $70 a month.

Silicon Valley has nothing on manufacturing

April 12, 2013 5:45 pm | by David Mantey, Executive Editor, PD&D | Blogs | Comments

Manufacturing floors don’t have Lego stations and pool tables — and yes, OSHA may take issue with throwing empty cans from the mini bar into the same bin as the scrap metal from the lathe, but that doesn’t mean that the industry has any fewer engineers flocking to it.

Iran invents “time machine,” beats Doc Brown to the punch

April 12, 2013 10:23 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

From the same folks who brought you the flying clown car comes this: An Iranian scientist claims to have invented a time machine. No, really. I cannot make this stuff up. Ali Razeghi registered "The Aryayek Time Traveling Machine" with the state-run Center for Strategic Inventions. He claims it can "predict five to eight years of the future life of any individual, with 98 percent accuracy"....

The nanny state should loosen its grip on cell phones

April 11, 2013 3:24 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

We’ve written a lot on ECN about automotive safety and its intersection with cutting-edge technology. Texting, Facebooking, and web surfing pose an existential concern for distracted drivers (not to mention pilots, train conductors, and boat captains), but the nanny state has really overreached on this one: A California court recently found a motorist guilty of distracted driving for checking a map on his iPhone.

Who’s the fool? – Profound discoveries or elaborate pranks

April 11, 2013 9:44 am | by Chris Fox, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

We all know the old adage that surrounds the first day of April. We’ve all taken part in or fallen victim to an April Fools prank at some point. In the contemporary realm, April Fools has taken on an entirely different persona. April 1 used to be a day where the bully in school could yell out the hallmark and get away with tripping you in the hallway (kind of)....

Star Wars on the high seas: Navy plans to deploy shipboard laser by 2014

April 9, 2013 3:35 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Some bad news for Sci-Fi fans: The Navy’s new shipboard laser system, Laser Weapon System (LaWS), won't shoot spiffy beams of light of the sort used to kill stormtroopers, Cylons, and Klingons. But it will fire a focused infrared laser that can down drones, disable small boats, and — in the future — engage missiles and enemy jets.

The creepiest robot yet

April 9, 2013 2:28 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

There is an interesting inverse phenomenon involved in creating humanoid robots: The more lifelike they are, the creepier they become. It’s not something that makes complete sense if you think about it. Theoretically, as robots become more human-like, they should begin to blend more into society and become less weird. 

The Facebook "phone" that no one wants

April 8, 2013 2:56 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Well, well, well. It looks like Facebook has finally decided to join the big boys and create their own phone. It’s the phone that absolutely no one was waiting for. To quote the parody video below, “Stop. Don’t do that. Nobody wants it.”

Should a computer grade your essay?

April 8, 2013 10:09 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

One should never swap quality for instant gratification. Yet that’s exactly what EdX, a nonprofit educational organization founded by Harvard and MIT, is doing with their automated grading software that promises “instant feedback” on students’ essays. Creativity need not apply.

Data pirates

April 5, 2013 9:23 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

As if we didn't have enough to worry about with government tracking and collecting information on our every move, we also have to be on the lookout for data pirates. Although, if the pirates get their hands on the government databases, the problem begins to look like a single problem with diverse parts.

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