While a student at Susquehanna University for the past 3 years I have often had reservations regarding my decision to major in creative writing. The inevitable question ‘What am I going to do with my degree?’ has been on my mind more intensely as I approach my senior year.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) have filed a legal challenge against a New York City law mandating door-to-door collection of e-waste. Local Law No. 13, taking effect July 31st, forces all electronic manufacturers doing business in NYC to provide free door-to-door collection services for covered equipment.
The Amazon Kindle fiasco brings up a host of issues related to digital property management and individual rights. For those with a personal (read: financial) stake in E-reader technology, it’s a shot across the bow. It puts them on the defensive, as one company (that would be Amazon) has unwittingly put out a negative ad campaign against E-readers.
“Do you own your books?” sounds like a stupid question, doesn’t it? It’s like asking “do you own your socks?” Yet the recent actions by Amazon to reclaim books literally from their owner’s hands have demonstrated that in the digital economy, it isn’t a stupid question at all. We are giving up our ownership of information for temporary ethereal possession, and are at the mercy of those who “rent” that content to us.
America finds itself at a juncture of many roads, with no clear map on which way to turn. The role of government, health care, energy, race, and disruptive technology have presented us with a myriad of choice on which road to take to the future. The important thing to remember is that we are all in the same boat together.
The wonderful communications technology infrastructure we have created has given everyone the power to communicate with anyone else on the planet at a moments notice with images, text, voice, and video. All of the focus is on the software tools such as Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube that are at the forefront of the societal sea change, but it is the newly-risen global information network that is the real hero.
Autocratic nations rarely feel the need to justify their actions. So China’s recent defense of its new internet filtering software was extraordinary. It also rings hollow. Starting July 1, the “Green Dam Youth Escort” software must be pre-installed on all computers sold within mainland China. The net-filtering software is aimed at protecting users from “harmful content.”
Once upon a time, if you wanted to know the future you went to a colorful character who told you your fortune by examining bird guts, tea leaves, or other obscure random pattern generator. They were called witch doctors, clairvoyants, and fortune-tellers. Today we call them business analysts.
There's an old saying, "you can even get used to hanging, if you hang long enough". This industry has been on a rollercoaster for over a decade, between the Dot-Bomb, the Telecom collapse, the Internet, the housing bubble, the bank crisis, and disruptive technologies, we've been beaten about like a Pinata on Cinco de Mayo.
The four soldiers move from their concealed position and “stack” themselves, one behind the other, parallel to the door. The #2 man throws an M84 grenade (flashbang) into the room, then yells “frag out!” The flashbang detonates, and the fire team storms through the “fatal funnel” (door). In those first moments, the #1 man must instantaneously...
For those who’ve never been, Electronics West is one of seven shows (including EW, Medical Design and Manufacturing West, Pacific Design and Manufacturing West, Automation Technology Expo West, Plastec West, West Pack, and Green Manufacturing West) co-located within the Anaheim Convention Center. One badge earned admittance to all, so from 10-12 February, I “attended” each.
By the time you read this column, Barak Obama will be the President of the United States of America. Politics aside, I think that this is a positive thing for many reasons, the most predominant being that this is a President that understands technology. He was in High School when the first generation of computers arrived, and came of age...
As we head into the New Year, looking towards the future, our minds are always drawn to the past. “Auld Lang Syne” means roughly ‘long times past”. Our ruminations on the past vary from individual to individual; one may look back nostalgic, another regretful, and the third satisfied. The most important thing to remember is that the past is past, and we must embrace the future or face the consequences.
All around, 2008 has been a very trying year. Each day seemed to bring a new round of bad news, whether it was the real estate bubble bursting, stock markets plummeting, or the “big three” automakers petitioning congress for a bailout similar to the one given to some of the nation’s largest banks. In the electronics industry, lackluster consumer confidence, fueled by the global economic crisis...
As Halloween blurs into the great amorphous mass that is the combined orgy of Thanksgiving eating and Christmas Holiday shopping, we take the time to look at some of the things we’d like to see in our holiday gift baskets. Beyond the obligatory wishes for world peace and international understanding, there are some nice toys out there, too.
The recent Energy Star controversy must inevitably be discussed in a broader context. To sum up current events: on June 2nd, the EPA violated Energy Policy Act (EPACT) 2005 by releasing a “technical amendment” (version 4.2) to their Energy Star solid state lighting criteria without consulting “interested parties” (i.e. industry).
Everyone is worried about the global economy, and many are afraid that the U.S. electronic design and manufacturing industry is facing dire straights. To those who worry, I say that the primary American electronic markets are amongst the most economically stable places in this crisis, and have some of the most innovative and creative engineers in the world.
While researching for this month’s Industry Focus on Automotive Electronics, I encountered an issue pertaining to infotainment I never considered: government regulation. It arose as the I was asking questions about head-up display (HUD) technology. Industry trends are showing that caller ID, lights for speed, gas and warnings, radio station name...
On June 2, 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (last seen as the supervillains in “The Simpsons” movie) released a “technical amendment,” version 4.2, to the Energy Star residential light fixture specification. Remember when Nintendo introduced the ubiquitous “Seal of Quality?” The great crash of 1983 was caused by a number of factors, not the least of which was lousy software...
“Can you stand another ZigBee presentation?” was the greeting I received from one of the many exhibitors I met at the 2008 Sensors Expo in Rosemont, IL. Indeed, wireless industrial networking devices were in abundance at this year’s show, along with what seemed like an increasing amount of companies presenting MEMS-based devices.
Change is a key word in our industry. Technology has progressed so far so fast it is amazing to see how far we have come in such a relatively short time. We are swept downstream in the relentless river of development, buffeted by currents from so many quarters the pattern seems random. Disruptive technologies shove us in one direction as convergence tips us in another...
Every special-interest group has their own language, and only part of the reason is to exclude others from the conversation. Jargon also helps define common terms necessary to conduct business or discuss philosophies and procedures within the group. Engineering is a very special discipline, and EEs are a further esoteric subset with its own plethora of acronyms, slang and terms.
Industrial intellectual property (IP) offers a powerful tool to communicate and reinforce expectations associated with product quality, consistency, and performance. In all forms (whether brand names, patents, trademarks, design markings, or others), IP additionally can help point the way to reputable “tried-and-true” product solutions and draw clear distinctions in an increasingly complex global marketplace.
Anyone who has survived the last several years in the electronic industry know what I mean when I say that these are very turbulent times. Disruptive technologies in both the hardware and software arenas combined with the relentless pressure of convergence in functionality, marketplace, and the business itself have made life very interesting for electronic design engineers.
For all the new component demos I see each year, particularly those with applications for consumer electronics, I often wonder whether the latest whiz-bang feature that a particular component is intended to deliver for the end-product is really satisfying some sort of demand. In other words, does the end-user have an appetite for that revolutionary new feature?