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This steering wheel accessory lets you surf the web (and kill pedestrians) while driving

March 12, 2014 12:44 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

We all like to text our friends, write memos, watch movies, and change diapers while behind the wheel, but how do we do so ergonomically? The AutoExec Wheelmate Work Tray allows you to be productive, keep your eyes off the road, and do so efficiently.

New jet-powered UAV is the future of asymmetrical warfare

March 5, 2014 8:09 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

While politicians and privacy advocates squabble over regulations for domestic drones, General Atomics has been hard at work developing the next unmanned terror of the skies for America’s foreign adversaries. Meet the Predator C Avenger, the future of asymmetrical warfare.

Watch kids react to rotary phones

March 4, 2014 10:52 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Watching kids befuddled by legacy technology is like shooting fish in a barrel — easy, but oddly enjoyable. And the “Kids React” series on YouTube runs with that premise, and one of their latest subjects — rotary phones — will make even 30-something college grads feel old.

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We don't need "smart" gun control

February 26, 2014 7:01 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The nation is about to mediate a very serious gun control debate, and it has nothing to do with “assault weapons.” Rather, the advent of “smart” guns could bring about the mandated obsolescence of “dumb” firearms. Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) has introduced legislation that would mandate all new guns be “personalized”....

Navy's laser weapon is thwarted by Mother Nature

February 21, 2014 8:13 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Sci-Fi geeks rejoice — the U.S. Navy’s shipboard laser weapon will deploy this summer. *Cue John Williams soundtrack* But the Laser Weapon System (LaWS) — while dirt-cheap to operate — is hamstrung by Mother Nature: Inclement weather — plus a host of other conditions — could limit its effectiveness. Bummer....

John Kerry: Climate change is a "weapon of mass destruction"

February 18, 2014 12:53 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Indonesia, and from the confines of a U.S.-funded cultural center at a Jakarta mall, Kerry described anthropogenic (aka, man-caused) global warming (AGW) as "perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction".

How far should the 1st Amendment protect domestic drones?

February 14, 2014 9:27 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Does the “right to know” trump privacy rights? Should journalists exercise restraint in coverage of sensitive topics? At what point does a slavish devotion to the 1st Amendment absolve the press of any moral responsibility? These are very old questions, but they’ve become particularly relevant in the age of 24/7 citizen journalism....

Crony capitalism vs. online gambling

February 11, 2014 2:25 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The 10th amendment is back in style, apparently. Back in 2011, the Justice Department issued a legal opinion on the Federal Wire Act of 1961, essentially reversing its longstanding ban on internet gambling. “Interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a 'sporting event or contest' fall outside the reach of the Wire Act,” it read.

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Why has the U.S. surrendered its global lead in engineering?

February 10, 2014 12:08 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

President Obama’s State of the Union address focused heavily on the domestic tech sector, and now we know why — a recent report by the National Science Board (NSB) charted America’s eroding share of the “global scientific landscape,” and its conclusions are troubling. Since 2001, the global R&D performed by Asian countries has overtaken the U.S.

The F-35 is "a failure waiting to happen"

February 4, 2014 1:19 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Here’s an oldie but goodie. Last year, Four Corners — an Australian current affairs program — did an expose on the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and their conclusions were ... none-too complimentary. Like their American counterparts, Australia is pursuing a one-size-fits all solution....

The Simpsons skewers Google Glass

January 27, 2014 4:05 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

You know you’ve hit the big time when the Simpsons — the longest-running sitcom in American history — crack wise at your expense. Their latest target: Google Glass, *ahem*, “Oogle Goggles”. And the satire — of Google Glass, augmented reality, and the ironic disconnection from reality that being connected 24-7 brings — is spot-on.

NASA: 2013 sustains global warming trend (since 1880)

January 22, 2014 4:53 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Because I love the smell of controversy in the morning... NASA has once again stoked the climate change debate, calling 2013 the seventh warmest year on record since 1880. According to a report from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), 2013 tied 2009 and 2006 for that dubious honor....

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.

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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?

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.

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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