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Top 5 free apps for the holiday season

November 20, 2012 9:22 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Back in the dog days of summer, we offered up a list of the 6 must-have apps for a stress-free summer. It was all about keeping kids distracted, watching your spending, and utilizing apps that got you to the relaxation phase faster.Now we’ve entered a season that can feel entirely the opposite of relaxing: holiday season

This watch could save your kid’s life

November 19, 2012 11:35 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

If you’ve ever felt that heart-in-throat, hyperventilating, out-of-body feeling of not being able to find your kid in a park or after school, only to have her reappear after a few seconds of mind-numbing panic, you can understand why someone would want to invent a Lojack for children.

In defense of the Tesla Model S

November 19, 2012 9:10 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

When Motor Trend announced an electric car was their pick for Car of the Year, something tells me you could have heard a pin drop in the car world. An electric car? They must have rigged the vote.Well, my friends, I hate to break it to you, but Consumer Reports just agreed with Motor Trend,


Trending at electronica: More from less

November 16, 2012 11:51 am | by Jeff Reinke, Editorial Director | Blogs | Comments

Okay, so it’s no surprise that the engineering community is continuing to be taxed by a need to shrink both the number of components housed on the board as well as the size of them. So it’s been great to see how a number of semiconductor, power supply, and connector companies are working to provide these solutions.

The future of nanotechnology is now

November 16, 2012 8:57 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I count several popular science fiction writers as friends. I share a political/whimsey blog with one of them, Sarah Hoyt. I was visiting Sarah's personal blog, and the question of the future of nanotechnology — given the upcoming fiscal cliff — came up in the comments. Sarah was of the opinion that the technology would be delayed indefinitely.

Greatest advertising technique of all time (Hint: Involves urinals)

November 15, 2012 4:18 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Here at ECN, we often talk about alternative energy options. Sometimes it’s solar power, other times wind power, and occasionally we dabble in the world of electric cars. But there is one energy option we’ve been sorely remiss in covering: pee-power.

Raspberry Pi, Android accessory access, a Smarter Zeus and 48-Volt Systems ... someday

November 15, 2012 1:47 pm | by Jeff Reinke, Editorial Director | Blogs | Comments

My first trip to electronica has proven both awesome and challenging. Awesome in the number of new technologies that are on display; challenging in navigating a show that is so expansive. Awesome in how much I love Munich; challenging in that my body is not loving the amount of bier being consumed.

This “smart” traffic light could cut commutes by 60 percent

November 14, 2012 11:08 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Were you aware of the fact that you waste one week per year sitting in traffic? One week per year. That is 7 days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, stuck in traffic.  Not only is it a huge waste of time, breathing in the exhaust fumes while you sit and mentally-fume can actually be dangerous to your health


It's about time: Timing and frequency issues in engineering

November 13, 2012 9:30 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Time and timing have been long term interests of mine. Especially so since I got my start measuring tenths of a nanosecond in 1967. I was looking around the www for information on time and frequency and came across a group of amateurs interested in time standards. One of the favorites of these amateurs is buying surplus rubidium clocks on ebay and bringing them to life.

ECN’s Veteran’s Day tribute: Remembering those who’ve served

November 9, 2012 2:50 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

On the cusp of Veteran’s Day, I’m reminded that a disproportionate number of our friends and colleagues served in the military. And that makes me proud to work in this industry. ECN — and her parent company, Advantage Business Media — is no exception. You can’t swing a dead cat (or give a resounding Hoooah!) without hitting a veteran.

Companies I enjoy doing business with

November 9, 2012 9:20 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

My very old Ungar 8800 soldering stand had a cracked ceramic iron holder from decades of use/misuse. So I went looking for Ungar on the www. They are no longer with us. But I found that they are now owned by Weller....

They are bringing back tubes

November 6, 2012 5:50 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Yes, tubes are coming back. No, not the thermionic space bottles of my youth. These are a different kind of tube. Made of small bits of graphene. Carbon nanotubes. IBM reports on their progress in the area. And it is amazing.

Do ultracapacitors make wind energy a sustainable option?

November 5, 2012 12:27 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

The idea of using wind to create energy isn’t exactly new. The first examples can be traced back to 200 B.C. in Persia – a creation of Heron of Alexandria. That particular device simply harnessed the wind to power a machine, so a case could be made that the first real windmills were built a little bit later, in the 7th century in Sistan, modern day Iran.


Apple confronts challenge of low-cost tablets with launch of iPad Mini

November 5, 2012 10:48 am | by Adam Leach, practice leader, Devices and Platforms, Ovum | Blogs | Comments

The introduction of a smaller iPad was much expected by the wider tech community. Ovum sees this as a defensive move by Apple to stave off competition from cheaper and smaller tablets introduced by Amazon and Google. Apple faces a tough challenge with the iPad Mini.

Why I don't trust cars that think for themselves

November 1, 2012 10:32 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Most drivers wouldn't feel comfortable just handing over control of their vehicle to, well, their vehicle, but a new system from Nissan may do just that. The Autonomous Emergency Steering System, as the name suggests, will take over steering in emergency situations in which a crash could be avoided when you remove human error from the equation.

Can video games teach angry kids emotional control?

October 30, 2012 4:00 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Though video games are often blamed for instilling violent instincts in children, the Boston Children's Hospital has developed a game that is designed to do just the opposite. In a recent study published in Adolescent Psychiatry, the children's hospital described a game that they believe will be able to teach children with severe anger issues how to maintain an acceptable level of calm...

Kickstarter, HP calculators, and PCB land patterns, oh my!

October 29, 2012 5:27 pm | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

Gabriel of Gabotronics asked me to promote his kickstarter project as time was running out and he had not yet met his goal. Due to some technical difficulties I was unable to get to the project promotion until today. Sorry Gabriel. But Gabriel is not sorry.

Company develops device that fools red-light cameras

October 24, 2012 12:27 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Red-light cameras are a hot-button issue. One side calls them a necessary safety precaution, while the other questions their constitutionality. Not to mention, since the red-light camera are run by big business that occasionally gets paid by the ticket, it seems a little shady.

Is a pacemaker capable of mass murder?

October 24, 2012 9:05 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

When you are a patient in a hospital, you tend to expect that the electronics are either top of the line or at least functioning correctly. You expect that the devices doctors implant in your body are reliable and safe. These seem like safe assumptions. Unfortunately, you could be mistaken.

Declassified documents describe real-life flying saucer

October 23, 2012 11:32 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

X-Files fans, conspiracy theorists, and the tinfoil hat crowd were right all along! Sorta… In the 1950s, the US government really was building a flying saucer. But it didn’t involve little green men, human-alien hybrids, or David Duchovny; this isn’t what you’d call a "smoking gun."

Power up

October 22, 2012 9:36 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

As the weeks and months go by I am going to be doing a number of hands-on projects. OSH Park will be making boards for those projects available for those of you who want to build something. But it does no good to build something if you don't have power to power it.

The best solution for dealing with space junk

October 19, 2012 2:26 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

There is a lot of junk in space. There’s American junk, Russian junk, Chinese junk, and corporate junk. There are satellite pieces and discarded rocket parts and metal bits. Basically, all the junk is just floating around clonking into other junk and causing general mayhem when they get a bit too close to the stuff that’s not junk.

Could this "shocking" technology save 12 billion dollars a year?

October 19, 2012 9:20 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | News | Comments

One of the biggest challenges in immobile patients is bedsores. Because patients usually end up laying in a bed or sitting in a wheelchair, a lot of pressure is exerted on the skin and tissue over bony areas of the body like the heel, ankle, hips, or buttocks. That unrelenting pressure can often result in bedsores, a difficult- to- treat condition.

Could NASA help paraplegics walk?

October 18, 2012 9:37 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

NASA has been known to make pretty large contributions to society. But they might have outdone themselves on this one. The agency is currently in the research and development phase for a powered armor suit that could one day allow paraplegics to walk. The suit, called X1, is a robotic exoskeleton designed to be worn over the body to assist in leg movements.

Preparing for the wrong catastrophe

October 17, 2012 9:26 am | by M. Simon | Blogs | Comments

I was excited by a report at ECN saying that the world matched the hottest September temperature again this past September. Well that got me to thinking. CO2 is still rising and hot temperatures are only being matched? Doesn't the theory run - more CO2 makes the climate hotter? What happened?

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