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U.S. energy usage and Jevons' paradox

January 18, 2013 11:21 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

ECN recently published a piece slamming Texas for passing a law that "allows Texans to make and sell the old-fashioned inefficient kind of bulbs". The author further states that the goal of the national law Texas is opposing "was to lower U. S. energy usage." It will do no such thing. It will increase electrical usage. We have known this since Economist William Jevons discovered the principle in 1865.

Is Apple changing its mind on touch panel structures?

January 18, 2013 9:33 am | by Calvin, Senior Analyst at DisplaySearch | Display Search | Blogs | Comments

Recently, the supply chain has been buzzing about potential changes in the touch technologies used for future iPhones and iPads, in particular involving LCD suppliers rather than touch panel makers. First came a report that Innolux had delivered TOD (touch on display) samples for the iPhone....

Would these “smart” ice cubes change how you drink?

January 17, 2013 2:24 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Sometimes great technology comes out of bad life experiences. Like the time Dhairya Dand from MIT Media Lab was so intoxicated he blacked out, and came up with an idea for a technology that would prevent people from drinking too much.By placing a smart LED inside molds of waterproof, edible jelly...

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CES 2013 a meager showcase for consumer electronics

January 17, 2013 2:20 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Microsoft Corp. | Articles | Comments

CES has never been more irrelevant. I wrote those words last year when Microsoft pulled out of CES and the industry was in the thralls of its 3D hysteria, pushing a technological gimmick that no one wanted. Since then, the industry has found a new rallying cry – 4K (or Ultra-HD) – and largely abandoned hopes of shoving stereoscopy down our throats, but the pizzazz is still missing.

Texas’ light bulb law: Not the brightest bulb on the tree

January 17, 2013 12:13 pm | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

Each January brings with it a slew of laws scheduled to take effect on the first of the year, and 2013 is no exception. As of Jan. 1, for example, it is now illegal to make or sell new 100-watt and 75-watt light bulbs that do not meet the efficiency standards of the federal Energy Independence and Security Act (nicknamed ERISA).

New Jersey’s power and fuel infrastructure was no match for Sandy

January 16, 2013 12:14 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

The love-hate relationship we have with "the grid" was inescapable during Superstorm Sandy. We don’t think about it much when our homes are lit and appliances are humming – we have the freedom to do anything we want. But when there’s an interruption, there’s that nagging wish to be free from the grip of our local utility....

Are we running out of wind?

January 15, 2013 8:53 am | by M. Simon, Technical Contributor | Blogs | Comments

The first mate gave me a heads-up about about the state of wind energy locally. Gamesa USA is pulling out of a proposed wind farm development in Ogle County, Illinois. saukvalley.com reports....

4k2k: Are we underestimating its value?

January 14, 2013 11:31 am | by Paul Gray, Director of European TV Research, DisplaySearch | Display Search | Blogs | Comments

With the predictable run of 4k2k announcements this CES, most comments have sensibly focused on content availability. This was undoubtedly the single greatest factor in the failure of 3D to create a revival in the TV market.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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