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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.

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.

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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.

My wish list for the next iPhone

April 4, 2013 10:32 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

A new iPhone is imminent! Man the ramparts! Sound the trumpets! A new coronation is upon us! OK, that’s a tad hyperbolic, but the prospect of a new iPhone has me a little giddy — especially since the iPhone 5 was a huge disappointment and reinforced my decision to snag an early 4S (and not hold out for the inevitable sequel).

Television's next big thing: Smell-O-Vision (again)

April 3, 2013 3:44 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Now that 3D television has failed to take off the way designers were hoping, companies have moved on to a newer, better, greater, bound-for-failure idea: Smell-O-Vision. Haruka Matsukura and a team from the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology have designed an olfactory display system that can work in conjunction with a 2D display.

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Top 10 must-read posts from March

April 3, 2013 10:47 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | 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.

A legitimate case for drones

March 29, 2013 3:32 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

There’s been a lot of chatter in the news (and here on ECN) about drones. These arguments usually come down to questions about ethics, military power and tangentially the military industrial complex, and the relationship of the US with various other countries. It’s rare to see drones talked about in any context outside of military.

Internet sales tax will only benefit the state

March 25, 2013 3:34 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Get ready to pony up more dollars for online purchases. On Friday, the U.S. Senate passed the innocuously-titled "Marketplace Fairness Act" through the upper chamber on a 75-24 vote. The bill would require e-tailers to collect and remit sales tax on interstate commerce, even when the business has no physical presence in the state.

Bendable display technology takes the stage

March 22, 2013 12:06 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Corning, Samsung | Articles | Comments

It happens to everyone who owns a smart phone or tablet. One ill-fated toss into the car or accidental drop on the hardwood and suddenly the screen is too cracked to read. Not only does this render the phone useless until you can get to a store, it can mean spending hundreds of dollars on a new screen or an entirely new phone.  

Technology forces your teen to stop texting and driving

March 19, 2013 12:19 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Everyone knows texting (or Redditing or Facebooking or Tweeting) while driving is a bad idea, but that doesn’t stop people from doing it. It’s pretty easy to justify if it’s “just a quick text to my mom” or “a quick peek at my email.” It’s just as easy to end up in an accident because you were distracted.

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Mourning the death of Google Reader (and finding a suitable replacement)

March 18, 2013 3:40 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

Lady brains: Dumbing down technology for women

March 15, 2013 3:53 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

Using biometrics to avoid credit fraud

March 14, 2013 2:45 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

The best use for Google Glass yet

March 13, 2013 9:05 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

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".

Drone pilots don’t need a “participation trophy”

March 12, 2013 4:31 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

Robotic bartender uses Raspberry Pi to dispense perfect drinks

March 7, 2013 4:08 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

"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).

The Microsoft vision for 2018

March 7, 2013 3:08 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.  

Forget 3D, say hello to 4D

March 6, 2013 12:08 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

USA claims dubious honor: World's top spammer

March 5, 2013 5:29 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

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.

Agita over 3D printed guns is absurd

March 1, 2013 4:26 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

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.

Top 10 must-read posts from February

March 1, 2013 3:12 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | 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.

Mayer’s memo ending telecommuting puts Yahoo in good company

March 1, 2013 12:27 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Blogs | Comments

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."

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