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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).

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.

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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.

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.

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).

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.

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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.

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."

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

Would you like some iPhone with your ramen noodles?

January 22, 2013 9:43 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Sometimes, an innovative product changes the landscape of the tech world. It illuminates the masses, electrifies the blogosphere, and raises the overall standard of living. And then there’s this – the Anti-loneliness bowl, a ramen soup receptacle that doubles as an iPhone dock.

CES 2013 a meager showcase for consumer electronics

January 17, 2013 2:20 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Microsoft Corp. | Articles | Comments

CES has never been more irrelevant. I wrote those words last year when Microsoft pulled out of CES and the industry was in the thralls of its 3D hysteria, pushing a technological gimmick that no one wanted. Since then, the industry has found a new rallying cry – 4K (or Ultra-HD) – and largely abandoned hopes of shoving stereoscopy down our throats, but the pizzazz is still missing.

Top 10 must-see posts of 2012

December 19, 2012 3:00 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Here’s a rundown of the most read, most popular, most awesome articles on the web from 2012. 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.

Top 10 must-see posts for November

December 6, 2012 3:38 pm | by The ECN Editors | Articles | 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.

Retailers employ crony capitalism in push for online sales tax

December 5, 2012 5:11 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has written a letter to Congress urging them to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act by the end of the year. This "e-fairness legislation" would allegedly "close the decades-old loophole enjoyed by online-only retailers" and "restore free market principles."

What I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving

November 20, 2012 11:46 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

It's that special time of year when we all get bloated from eating too much turkey, get into fist fights at Best Buy over that last doorbuster sale, and enjoy Christmas music that started in June. But there is much to be thankful for, and it goes far beyond my propensity for Holiday-induced mayhem.

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