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You won’t find selfies on this Instagram account

December 13, 2013 3:26 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

Drones are becoming almost as prevalent in the skies as they are in the news. From “Amazon Prime Air” to military drones in overseas conflict, it seems like these are devices that aren’t going away any time soon. For London-based artist and activist, James Bridle, this is a troubling fact. One of Bridle’s most well-known endeavors is Dronestagram: an Instagram account that posts pictures of drone strike locations...

"Our Drone Future" predicts frightening Big Brother dystopia

December 12, 2013 4:48 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

You didn’t think we’d just use domestic drones for delivering packages and monitoring suspected animal abuse, did you? Of course not — we wouldn’t be furiously debating the legality and ethics of "octocopters" air-mailing copies of Harry Potter. No, the dark undertone of domestic drone usage is their application as omniscient law-enforcement devices, Big Brother-style.

Is this the end of Moore’s law?

December 10, 2013 2:56 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Moore’s law is unsustainable. This statement is the elephant in the room of a lot of electronics discussions as we rapidly approach a few different landmarks in semiconductors.  Researchers are concerned that the unsustainability of Moore’s law might mean the end, or at least the abrupt slowing down, of electronic development at the height of the digital era.

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Why is this government agency still using floppy disks?

December 9, 2013 5:11 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Every so often we drag out a past relic of technology to gawk, reminisce and remember before shoving it back into the proverbial vault for a few more decades. We’ve featured introductions to new technology and how-tos on using a computer. 

Amazon’s drone-delivery service is a pipe dream (for now)

December 6, 2013 2:54 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Forget same-day delivery. Amazon wants to make 30-minute deliveries a reality with a quasi-futuristic fleet of miniature drones. But for a service built on speed, “Amazon Prime Air” may have a long shelf life. Don’t hold your breath (or place your orders) anytime soon.

This next-gen USB connector always lands on its feet

December 6, 2013 1:17 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

Everyone has struggled to plug a device into a USB port at one time or another. There’s a 50/50 chance of choosing the correct orientation, and we usually manage to pick the wrong one every time. It’s the electronic version of the “toast always lands butter-side down” or “a cat always lands on its feet” phenomena, and we just want to charge our iPods.

The Nigerian prince isn’t the only online hoax

December 5, 2013 4:29 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

Ben Franklin once said “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.” That’s doubly so for the World Wide Web, the breeding ground for Nigerian princes, get-rich-quick schemes, and all manner of hoaxes. No one likes to be scammed. Whether a hacker steals all of your personal information or you just wind up feeling a bit silly...

3D-printed heart uses urine to power robot (seriously)

December 5, 2013 10:24 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

In the buzzword story of the year, researchers at the University of the West of England created a 3D-printed heart robot heart that runs on urine. That’s right, a printed organ that pumps pee through a robot. This hot topic cornucopia was actually the result of a theory that urine was capable of making electricity.

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Why replacing waiters with tablets is a good idea

December 4, 2013 2:51 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

This, friends, is a dining option for people who hate other people. Earlier this week, Applebee’s announced that they will replace waiters (to a degree) with tablets at the table. These tablets will be used to take orders and pay the bill, plus they’ll feature games that diners can play while they wait. The tablets, which are Intel-backed startup E la Carte Presto tablets, will total over 100,000 pieces of hardware.

Smart bras track your mood

December 4, 2013 12:48 pm | by Melissa Barnes, Associate Editor | Blogs | Comments

Do you or a loved one have an emotional eating problem standing in the way of your weight loss and healthy living attempts? Well, now there’s a bra for that. Microsoft recently reported it has been working on a “smart bra,” equipped with a generic remote access sensing platform (GRASP).

Bridge devices translate into longer life for NTDS systems

November 27, 2013 10:20 am | by Chris Warner, ECN Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

“It’s like turning around an aircraft carrier.” This analogy is often used in the business world to indicate how hard it can take a large entity to change direction, usually amounting to months or even years. But for the United States Navy, which is charged with turning these massive vessels, turning around an aircraft carrier pales in comparison with keeping communications networks up to date.

Here’s what the ECN Editors are thankful for this year

November 26, 2013 3:18 pm | by the Editors | Blogs | Comments

Say what you will about Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa. For our money, the “most wonderful time of the year” is Thanksgiving, when the fall foliage sets the scene for family, football, turkey, more football, and dessert (in that order). And though “Black Friday” has crept into Thursday, there’s much to be thankful for this year. Here’s what the ECN staff had to say....

Turning the world’s biggest landfill into a NYC solar power plant

November 26, 2013 3:00 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

In a recent Engineering Update, we took a look at Japan’s largest solar power plant, which boasts the capability of powering 22,000 homes with its 313 acre facility. Now, we’re checking out New York’s newest solar project. This solar facility will be located at Freshkills Park on Staten Island and was, at one point, considered to be the largest landfill in the world.

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Revolution on wheels

November 22, 2013 4:21 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

Morph Wheels sounds more like a rejected children’s toy idea than a legitimate advancement in mobility technology, but it’s real, and it’s going to have a huge impact. It’s one of many new foldable, space-saving inventions coming into the market. People tend to crave convenience in whatever they purchase and anything that they can slip into their pocket will fit the bill.

Watch our new missile defense system destroy a fighter jet

November 22, 2013 3:08 pm | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

While it may seem like most countries around the world are focused on the Patriot Missile Interceptors, the United States is already looking to its next missile defense system. In fact, the military has moved on from looking at systems to testing them.

Will pills become the new standard of online security?

November 22, 2013 1:03 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

It’s no secret that the internet is a minefield. There are hackers and thieves at every turn waiting to steal your personal information and everything else you love. And now the NSA has front-row seats to watch it all happen. This is all pretty scary, so we tend to cling to anything that offers us a semblance of security and safety, even if it means swallowing another pill with our multivitamin every day.

The first robot suicide

November 21, 2013 2:22 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

At least that’s what hysterical media reports would have you believe. The standard account goes something like this – tired of doing its master’s bidding (er, cleaning), an iRobot Roomba 760 made history by committing the first robot suicide. The poor guy chose an especially gruesome way to kick the bucket, committing self-immolation by driving itself onto a kitchen hotplate....

PhoneBloks are Legos for adults

November 21, 2013 1:20 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

Finally, adults don’t have to relinquish the joy of playing with blocks! Most of the fun in Legos lies with the customizable nature of the toy and the ability to stray from the image on the box to create something truly unique. Dutch designer Dave Hakkens channeled this childhood pastime into a new kind of functional and distinctive smartphone design called PhoneBloks

Fiber-to-the-Antenna systems bundle up for the elements

November 21, 2013 10:12 am | by Chris Warner, ECN Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

You can’t drive very far without seeing a cellular tower. As more Americans curtail or ditch their landlines in favor of mobile phones, and increasingly smartphones that require high-speed internet, network operators must keep pace with the incredible amount of data traveling through their infrastructures.

Where are all the girl engineers?

November 20, 2013 11:04 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

I recently went to a “Pumpkin Sling” (aka Punkin’ Chunkin’) where participants designed trebuchets to see who could get theirs to throw a pumpkin the farthest. A lot of the teams were made up of kids, who all did an incredible job building the machines. I was particularly inspired by a young man from a Cub Scout troop who very clearly outlined how the machine worked and how they had built it.

This NASA-inspired shower could lessen the global water crisis

November 14, 2013 12:28 pm | by Allegra Sparta, Editorial Intern | Blogs | Comments

Growing up in a rural area I learned to expect cries of “Turn that shower off, you’ll run the well dry!” while getting cleaned up for school. Having a well was the price you’d pay for living in the middle of nowhere, away from a reservoir-supplied water source. But apart from my teenage battles, a real problem lurks, one of global proportions.

The largest, most ambitious challenge to Net Neutrality

November 13, 2013 8:42 am | by Chris Warner, Executive Editor | Articles | Comments

This summer, I learned one of the few cable TV channels I sometimes watch is no longer available to me without upgrading to another “tier” of channels. None of those other channels appeal to me, so I simply decided I would do without the channel. My decision was pretty sound, but I believe my choice was not a choice at all.

3D-printed metal guns are nothing to worry about

November 11, 2013 4:24 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Well, it was bound to happen. A company has finally succeeded in fabricating a wholesale 3D-printed metal gun. But this should cause considerably less hand-wringing than the “Liberator” and its follow-up, the “Grizzly”. To quote the Hitchhiker’s Guide, don’t panic.

Should we use drones to prevent animal abuse?

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

Hunters beware: PETA may be watching you – or rather, its “customers” will if they purchase a specially modified Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 to “spy on hunters and catch them in the act as they terrorize animals and break game laws.” The animal-rights organization introduced the “Air Angels” drone on its site in an effort to cut down on “illegal” hunting activities or anything it deems immoral....

This rock-climbing robot will haunt your dreams

November 8, 2013 9:27 am | by Kasey Panetta, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

 Every so often, you see a robot on the internet that is so macabre-looking it belongs in a horror film. There is a quality about these robots that’s not quite robot, but not quite human. Generally, in the technology community, nine out of ten of these robots come out of the Department of Defense sponsored Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (a.k.a DARPA). (If you need proof, check out DARPA’s PETMAN)

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