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Top flops from CES 2014

January 22, 2014 10:00 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

What’s the only thing dorkier than a Segway? That’s right — Google Glass. They look like the drunken lovechild of the Borg and Jean Claude Van Damme from Universal Soldier. So naturally, they littered the CES show floor like weeds, belying the user’s fashion sense, professionalism, and any semblance of self-respect.

iPotty rots your child’s brain while he potty trains

January 21, 2014 10:13 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Or how to get your child to forever associate Apple with poop... No one likes using a toilet — especially not tykes. So why not add a little incentive? A reason to keep little Jane or Johnny firmly rooted on their keester. But a miniature version of something you’d find in a man cave? Not so much.

How Boeing converted F-16s into unmanned aerial targets

January 17, 2014 4:45 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

Boeing test pilot Jason Clements goes through final flight checks in the cockpit of an F-16. He makes sure all his switches are set, the throttle is free and clear, and the lights are on. Clements does a final radio check, and the jet is ready for takeoff. He then steps out of the cockpit and closes the canopy via remote switch. The F-16 takes off with no human occupant. What in the world just happened?

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CES 2014: The weird, strange, and unique

January 15, 2014 2:19 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor, photography by Melissa Spivak | Blogs | Comments

Every trade show has these — the oddball products, tech demos, and general weirdness that accompanies any large gathering of people vying for your attention. Sometimes, the exhibits exude innovation and leave a positive lasting impression on all who beheld its splendor. And ... sometimes they become the butt of jokes for years to come. The following is the weirdest, strangest, and otherwise unique products I saw at CES 2014.

Top 10 must-see posts of 2013

December 30, 2013 11:44 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Here’s the top 10 most popular, compelling, controversial, and highly-trafficked stories from 2013. These were the posts that led the most discussions, excited the most readers (for better or worse), and caught your collective eyeballs. So check out some old favorites, or catch up on a post you may have missed — and find out what all the fuss was about!

From General to CEO: One man’s journey from the battlefield to the boardroom

December 23, 2013 12:47 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

I’m proud to work in an industry with such a disproportionately high number of military veterans. Many of our colleagues previously served the nation with honor and distinction, trading ACUs for business suits and M4s for fountain pens. Case in point: Steve Sargeant, CEO of Marvin Test Solutions, formerly a Major General with the United States Air Force.

"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.

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.

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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....

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....

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....

We finally have drones with "frickin’ laser beams"

November 5, 2013 4:43 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Dr. Evil would be proud. Lasers have always been the next frontier (some would say pipe dream) of weapons development. But recent developments have brought Sci-Fi closer to reality. And now this — the Pentagon has awarded a total of $26 million to defense contractors to develop a laser countermeasures system for manned and unmanned aircraft.

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This hypersonic Blackbird can launch weapons from space

November 4, 2013 3:43 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In aviation, it doesn’t get more chic than the SR-71 Blackbird, the Rolls Royce of the sky. From 1964 till its retirement in 1998, this supersonic, Mach 3+ reconnaissance aircraft played a crucial role in the Cold War (and afterward) for over three decades. But ever since the Blackbird went to the Boca Raton of the skies, aviation buffs have been pining for a successor. And now they have one. And it’s glorious.

Should the government regulate Google Glass?

October 31, 2013 4:22 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Every new technology or consumer widget must inevitably run headfirst into the regulatory powers of government — often in conjunction with automotive safety. So this was no surprise: San Diego police have pulled over a motorist and ticketed her for wearing Google Glass, touching off the latest battle between federal legislators and the private sector.

WWII vet screws with the TSA

October 25, 2013 4:49 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

If you haven’t met the TSA – meaning you somehow haven’t flown anywhere in the last 12 years – know that they’re the crotch-grabbing, nude-scanning, senior-citizen harassing government agency in charge of airport security. And they really hate shoes. But the mighty TSA has apparently met its match in an 87-year-old, half-deaf World War II vet.

Board game indoctrinates kids on global warming

October 24, 2013 10:23 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

I’m torn here. As a child’s toy, MELTDOWN – the “first board game that melts” – is extremely clever. I probably would’ve loved playing with the cute little polar bears and fake ice floes. But I can’t ignore the transparent attempt to indoctrinate children on the theory – yes, the theory – of global warming.

Are we addicted to smartphones?

October 22, 2013 4:13 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor, Photography by Melissa Spivak | Blogs | Comments

Do you own a “Crackberry” or, god forbid, an iPhone? Is it always within arms’ reach, and do you compulsively check it every 5-10 minutes? Do you scour your smartphone with no clear purpose in mind? And do you have a strong desire to resist this “constant connectivity”? You may be experiencing “pushback”, according to a new paper from the University of Washington. But is this a symptom of smartphone "addiction"?

This women’s makeup can launch drones

October 16, 2013 2:06 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

At long last – this red-blooded American male might finally wear makeup. And no, this isn’t an “admission” of sorts. But the ability to control electronics with metallized false eyelashes and conducting eyeshadow could simplify my life and improve my fashion sense.

Is the F-35 a “great national scandal”?

October 15, 2013 1:16 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In government, the left hand often doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing. Case in point: Days after the DoD got all warm-and-fuzzy over its working relationship with Lockheed Martin and the F-35, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) called the Joint Strike Fighter “one of the great national scandals.”

Watch “Star Wars” recreated using an Etch a Sketch

October 14, 2013 2:18 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The force is strong with this one. I was never very skilled with an Etch a Sketch. And it’s not just my complete lack of artistic ability – my hands are steady as a coffee junkie (small wonder I didn’t become a doctor). But this guy is good – very, very good. Using nothing more than a garden-variety Etch a Sketch, he creates a complete recap of “Star Wars”, and it’s glorious.

Why the U.S. sucks at math

October 9, 2013 4:47 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

No doubt about it – we're failing our children. We take it for granted that American children lag behind the rest of the world in STEM literacy: In a recent survey, U.S. 15-year-olds ranked 25th out of 34 developed countries in mathematics. We also assume that kiddies are born with a natural affinity for math and science. But what if STEM literacy isn’t an innate skill? What if it can be taught?

Watch dead batteries power smartphones

October 8, 2013 2:02 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

When we speak of “reanimating the dead”, we usually don’t mean dead batteries. And we certainly don’t harness these used electrochemical cells – Frankenstein-style – into a giant, mutated power station. Yet that’s exactly what Thailand’s Vitamilk did by resurrecting a battalion of dead batteries and channeling their energy to power small electronics....

This dating website caters to ghosts

October 4, 2013 10:08 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Who says being dead has to kill your love life? Yes, a dating website actually caters to ghosts, because of course it does....and no, this isn’t a joke (at least in the sense that the website actually exists). The Internet’s limitless potential for putting the sum total of humanity’s accumulated knowledge at a keystroke has the incidental effect of uniting lonely singles who prefer niche preferences, but ethereal spirits? That’s a new one.

Top 10 must-see stories for September

October 3, 2013 3:30 pm | 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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