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Delving into superconductors

January 14, 2013 8:29 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

Ever since Polywell Fusion caught my attention, superconducting magnets have been a large side interest of mine. I keep track of papers published in the field through IOP Science - Superconductor Science and Technology. They post a list of papers every month which are freely available for personal use for the first month after publication.

Could this circuit board prevent 2,000 infant deaths per year?

January 11, 2013 9:23 am | by Editor | Blogs | Comments

SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants between the ages of one month to one year. The most recent statistics put the number of deaths at about 2,226 per year, nearly seven infants per day.In hopes of lowering the number of infants who succumb to SIDS,

This flashlight can operate on any battery

January 10, 2013 9:23 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Picture this: You’re sitting in front of the television one night watching Ax Men when suddenly the power goes out. Stumbling over to the hall closet, you rummage around on the shelves for a flashlight. Finally, after nearly strangling yourself with a scarf, you locate the light only to discover it needs batteries.

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It's BAAACK: Ready or not, here comes RoHS 2

January 3, 2013 10:42 am | by Ken Manchen, Director of Safety & Environmental Affairs, Newark element14 | Newark | Blogs | Comments

Every North American electronics company that trades in the EU should make at least one New Year’s Resolution: to learn how RoHS 2 will impact them, because ready or not, this regulation takes effect January 2, 2013.

Semiconductor testing: Going back to the future

January 2, 2013 10:19 am | by Dirk de Vries, co-founder of Qualtera | Blogs | Comments

The integrated circuit semiconductor testing process produces oceans of data. This data is used to control product quality, performance and yield, and to resolve issues in those areas. Paradoxically, while the semiconductor industry has been one of the key enablers in the development of the technology responsible for dramatically changing our daily lives, it is conservative in its ways of working.

What is wrong with programming?

January 2, 2013 8:32 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

Poul-Henning Kamp, "one of the primary developers of the FreeBSD operating system", has written a long screed about the current state of programming. He discusses Eric Raymond's The Cathedral and the Bazaar (Eric chimes in with a comment) and has this critique of the Bazaar....

Top 10 must-see posts for December

December 21, 2012 12:34 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | 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.

Designing just for fun

December 20, 2012 3:58 pm | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

I'm in the process of designing and building a 10 MHz time/frequency receiver to pick up the WWV signal and to see if I can accurately reproduce the signal frequency for general lab calibration purposes. Yes, there are better ways to get accurate frequency calibration.

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Top 10 must-see posts of 2012

December 19, 2012 3:00 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web from 2012. 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.

The newest (and most invasive) surveillance technique

December 19, 2012 12:31 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Better watch what you say next time you take the bus; somebody could be listening in. We’re all pretty used to the increasing amount of cameras on public transportation, and a lot can be said in their favor. They provide a safer environment for the driver when dealing with unruly passengers.

Avoid cracked screens: An airbag for your smartphone

December 19, 2012 9:34 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

 As the proud new owner of an iPhone 5, I have but one concern: Can this phone survive my clumsy self? For the past three years, I’ve been the increasingly less proud owner of a Blackberry Bold. It was slow, bulky, people mocked me for having it, and viewing a website was as much fun as going to the DMV, but, man, could that thing take a hit like Floyd Mayweather.

Augmented reality helps retailers get personal

December 14, 2012 12:16 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

We’ve all been there. You’re shopping at your favorite store, perhaps running an errand for someone else. But in order to make the purchase, you need to know if it’s right for you. The sales associate is busy helping someone else, or they may be missing in action. You just need the details about the product so you can get it right the first time without having to return it later....

Exploring the potential of watch crystals

December 14, 2012 9:14 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

Watch crystals are amazing devices. Typical 32KHz clock crystals are very stable in frequency if you can keep them close to their turnover temperature. If you can hold the crystal to within 1 degC of the turnover temperature, it is +/-.04 ppm from the frequency at turnover.

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UN looks for an Internet "fix"

December 6, 2012 3:45 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Quite a few of the member states (colloquially known as "Dictators 'R Us") of the UN want to change the rules of the game. The Internet Game. They want to be able to shut down Internet traffic at will. And they want to do it legally. Whatever that means in the context of nations. Anyway, here is what they ( the miscreants) are proposing.

Top 10 must-see posts for November

December 6, 2012 3:38 pm | by The ECN Editors | Articles | 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.

Should schools use RFID chips to track students?

December 6, 2012 2:53 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

A few weeks ago, I came across an article on Slate talking about a school in Texas that had put RFID tags in the student ID cards that everyone has to wear.  The article—available at the link--was a discussion on whether the tags were an invasion of privacy.

Robotcolypse: When the robots take over

December 6, 2012 2:08 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Well friends, it appears the end is almost upon us. I’m not even referring to the end of the world a la the Mayan Calendar but rather an entirely different kind of a not-so-hostile takeover: robots. We’ve touched on robots taking over before, but this time, it’s getting serious. This robot was designed to actually replace humans.

Saudi Arabia's new "tracking" system for women

December 6, 2012 12:33 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

When you work in the tech world, your days are usually full of creative people doing incredible things; on the darker days, you occasionally stumble on people (or governments) using technology in ways that make your skin crawl. Reports out of Saudi Arabia are saying when

Retailers employ crony capitalism in push for online sales tax

December 5, 2012 5:11 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has written a letter to Congress urging them to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act by the end of the year. This "e-fairness legislation" would allegedly "close the decades-old loophole enjoyed by online-only retailers" and "restore free market principles."

Why Android is beating Apple

November 29, 2012 3:26 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

It wasn’t so long ago the Apple was the phone to have. Yes, there were the holdouts who took a dislike to the brand’s smartphone monopoly, but for the most part, if you wanted a phone that worked, you took a trip to Steve Jobs land. It seems, however, that the tide is now changing....

“Sustainability” is inherently unsustainable

November 29, 2012 9:50 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I recently came across a site (no link will be provided for reasons that will be obvious shortly) that proposed that engineers design products for sustainability (how long is that?). They also propose going one better for really advanced products. Those would be products that pose no risk to society.

Long lines on a PCB

November 28, 2012 12:17 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

On a list I belong to (which prefers to remain anonymous), there has been a long discussion on how to terminate lines on a PCB that uses parts with fast rise times. Of course, circumstances vary and it depends on the rise time, but for rise times on the order of one nanosecond (TTL, AHC, LVC, etc), a resistor from 22 to 50 ohms in series with the source seems to work well.

Giving thanks

November 21, 2012 9:12 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

M. Simon, freelance writer extraordinaire, shares some of the things he's thankful for this holiday. "A few of the things I'm thankful for this holiday. In quasi random order": Atoms, electrons, protons, neutrons, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Thomas Edison and his assistant Nikola Tesla....

7 things I am thankful for...

November 20, 2012 3:21 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

When I was little, at some point during the Thanksgiving season we would write down things we were thankful for. It was usually at school, written on a turkey that I’d made by outlining my hand, and it was usually things like candy, puppies, family, food, and probably whatever else was in my direct line of sight while I was writing.

What I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving

November 20, 2012 11:46 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

It's that special time of year when we all get bloated from eating too much turkey, get into fist fights at Best Buy over that last doorbuster sale, and enjoy Christmas music that started in June. But there is much to be thankful for, and it goes far beyond my propensity for Holiday-induced mayhem.

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