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Why 3D-printable guns are a terrible idea

March 1, 2013 9:45 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Mention the words "3D printed guns" and you’ve got an instant, increasingly heated debate on your hands. When you consider there were 16 mass shootings—defined as a shooting with multiple, random victims—in 2012 with at least 88 people dead including children, it’s definitely a topic worth discussing. My take? No one needs a 3D printed gun or the ability to create one.

Big Brother makes our rational choices less rational

February 28, 2013 3:13 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

While writing my February 2013 column about EDRs (event data recorders, AKA “black boxes”), I came across an article on the same topic (http://bit.ly/12YX4Fe) by one of my colleagues. She commented on the reservations I share with many others about the use of the data derived from the black boxes.

The greatest use of (bus stop) technology ever

February 21, 2013 3:13 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Companies often struggle with how to incorporate new technology in a useful way, but Qualcomm knocked it out of the park this week with their new bus stop surprise. Qualcomm, a company that specializes in wireless technology, decided that they could use the combination of smart phones and boredom at bus stops

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Do drone pilots deserve higher medal than combat vets?

February 20, 2013 3:32 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Since when did waggling a joystick become more valorous than pulling a trigger? It hasn’t, you say? The newly-minted Distinguished Warfare Medal — created to honor cyberwarriors and drone pilots — would rank above the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and the military community is incensed.

Paint Your Pizza turns MS Paint scribbles into ugly-looking pizzas

February 15, 2013 10:34 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m nauseated by pizza – this after taking a gander at Paint Your Pizza, a crowdsourcing site that allows you to turn amateur artwork into quasi-edible Neapolitan creations. I stress quasi-edible because I don’t think I could stomach any of these custom-designed "pizzas."

Stores are tracking your every move

February 14, 2013 2:11 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

When you walk into a store, you basically expect that you’re going to be recorded on a security video and surreptitiously watched by sales associates lest you decide to steal anything. But did you ever stop to think what information the store is gleaning from your cell?

Iranian clown car flies ... with the help of Photoshop

February 14, 2013 11:06 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Take that, free world! For all you naysayers out there who thought Iran’s clown car, er ... stealth fighter ... smelled a bit fishy, the Islamic Republic has the ultimate retort: a badly-Photoshopped image of the Qaher-313 set against stock photo #3.

Large-scale free WiFi is still a dream worth pursuing

February 13, 2013 3:34 pm | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

Sometimes, it seems our nation no longer aspires to great things. These days our astronauts hitch rides to the International Space Station on Soviet spacecraft, and just recently, the U.S. Postal Service — once the envy of the world — announced its intention to eliminate Saturday mail service.

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What Walter Cronkite thought 2001 would look like

February 12, 2013 3:41 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Predictions about future technology are always interesting. Sometimes, the prediction is pretty mainstream, like a mobile phone. Other times they’re a little more ambitious. I’m still waiting for my flying car. But one thing is always guaranteed: Predictions about the future are always fun to watch decades later — particularly if they star Mr. Walter Cronkite.

This device punishes you for skipping a workout

February 11, 2013 2:50 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

We’ve all done it. You come home from a long day at the office. Sit down on the couch to watch a little Walking Dead. You feel a little guilty that you haven’t hit the gym or gone for a run, but you figure no one will know. But then your television set turns itself off, then your phone goes down, then your iPad, and then your reading lamp switches off and leaves you in the dark.

Preserving Holocaust stories through 3D technology

February 8, 2013 1:06 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

It seems that a few groups consistently struggle with how to incorporate and use new technology in a manner that is both appropriate and effective for their brand. They often fall short and take advantage of the “next big thing” only to find it doesn’t work or hasn’t been adopted by enough of the public to make a difference. 

Why your car is a better driver than you

February 7, 2013 2:06 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

It came to my attention while working on an article about intelligent systems in cars that people might be a tad touchy when it comes to talking about letting cars do the work when driving.  I’m not talking about infotainment systems or fancy doodads, I’m talking about systems that could greatly improve the safety of cars....

Iranian "stealth fighter" looks like a clown car

February 7, 2013 11:09 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

So it turns out that the new Iranian stealth fighter may be as genuine as the Islamic Republic’s concern for human rights. The regime unveiled the jet, 'Qaher 313', on Saturday, and the blogosphere immediately went to work debunking what could be one of the laziest forgeries of all time.

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Automobile EDR data collection by the Government must include safeguards

February 6, 2013 10:34 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

In December, The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a proposal that would require automakers to equip all light vehicles with event data recorders (EDRs) that capture information in the moments before and after a wreck similar to the way they are used to study airline crash.

Telepresence robots: Always on call

February 6, 2013 9:26 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

These words from a medical-alert pendant commercial became a humorous catchphrase in pop culture during the 1990s, but Mrs. Fletcher’s plea carries a lot of weight to those who are worried about the elderly or others in need of medical care but without a means of communicating to medical professionals or caregivers.

Online sales tax is immoral, runs contrary to the free markets

February 5, 2013 2:54 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The central fallacy with crony capitalism is that it ignores the invisible hand of the free marketplace. This is precisely what the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is doing with their support for "e-fairness" legislation (i.e., an Internet sales tax).

Top 10 posts for January

February 1, 2013 12:41 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

We had a record-breaking January here at ECN online with our most trafficked month in the history of the website. So, without further delay, 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.

Enfeebled F-35 could impede military readiness

January 31, 2013 3:15 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Picture a Swiss Army Knife with a blunted knife, rusty screwdriver, and a broken can opener. That’s what the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has become — a jack of all trades and master of none. The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) has — over the course of a highly tumultuous development period that personifies the phrase "requirements creep" — become the poster child for bloated government programs.

Did the Justice Department cause Aaron Swartz’s suicide?

January 31, 2013 9:00 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Aaron Swartz was a 26-year-old computer programmer and online activist who died of apparent suicide on January 11, ahead of a scheduled trial where he was charged with 13 felonies.  Swartz, founder of Demand Progress, an online group actively working against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)...

Sensor pad analyzes impacts in football helmets

January 29, 2013 4:27 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Texas Instruments | Articles | Comments

One of the highlights of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was a low-power wireless system that could revolutionize the game of pigskin. The Riddell InSite Impact Response System utilizes a five-point sensor pad lined in the player’s helmet to quantify an impact and, if it passes a predetermined threshold, notifies the sideline.

These shoes will tell you when it’s time for a new pair

January 28, 2013 3:14 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Apple has a lot of great products: iPhones, iPads, computers, laptops, Apple TV and the potential for many more. (Note the lack of iPad mini on this list because it is a dumb product, but I digress.) It seems the company might be expanding into shoe wear with a sensor that will track your steps and tell you when it’s time for a new pair of kicks.

What’s mine should be mine: Ruling makes it illegal to unlock your phone

January 25, 2013 2:29 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Think you own your wireless handset, inside and out? Think you can do whatever you wish with your own property? Think again. Beginning Saturday, it will become illegal to unlock a phone without the express permission of the carrier who locked it.

Will a high-velocity, DNA-tagging police pellet gun deter protesters?

January 24, 2013 3:43 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Gun control is a hot button issue, so it makes sense that police and security firms would look towards expanding effective methods of nonviolent interaction. This becomes particularly important during riot situations with a lot of people and confusion, where police are often outnumbered and overwhelmed.

Obsolete industries won’t drive economic growth

January 24, 2013 12:09 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

An article in the Associated Press, "Big Data and cloud computing empower smart machines to do human work, take human jobs," bemoans the loss of jobs to technology – a highly dubious assertion that crops up every generation like a broken record. And like the damaged piece of vinyl, this argument is immune to logic and reason.

Vibrating steering wheel might prevent car accidents

January 23, 2013 9:12 am | by Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

I’ve talked a lot about intelligent systems in cars that are steering the industry towards a safer overall product by allow computers to take over where human error would mean an accident.There has been talk of new seatbelts, new braking system, and sensors that communicate with traffic lights and other cars,

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