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Former Air Force Major General headlines ECN IMPACT Awards

May 6, 2014 8:58 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The ECN IMPACT Awards celebrate innovation across the design engineering landscape, and the awards ceremony’s keynote speaker could teach us all a lesson or two on leadership. Formerly a Major General in the United States Air Force, Steve Sargeant parlayed his impressive military career into a top leadership role with a prestigious test and measurement company....

Russian official: The US should use trampolines to get to space

April 30, 2014 9:45 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Back when Russia first began “acquiring” Ukraine, NASA immediately cut all ties with the Slavic republic, except for efforts related to the International Space Station (the US relies on Russian spacecraft to get to the ISS). And now, after a fresh round of US sanctions, a Russian defense official has a helpful suggestion — the US should use trampolines to get into space....

Think tank: Russian stealth fighter is superior to the F-35

April 23, 2014 1:00 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Air Power Australia is no fan of the F-35. Let’s get that out of the way. For years, they’ve been panning the Joint Strike Fighter, praising the F-22, and warning about emerging threats from Russia and China — threats that could best the F-35 in single combat....

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Astronaut pee could help get us to Mars

April 21, 2014 8:16 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Urine, made up of more than 95% water, is one of the cleanest fluids in the human body. And on a protracted space mission lasting more than a year (one-way) — to Mars, for example — that fact becomes critically important....

Solar-powered plane can "fly forever"

April 16, 2014 8:25 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Aviation pioneers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg — who previously had circumnavigated the globe in a balloon — plan to make history again with the Solar Impulse 2, which will undertake the first solar-powered flight around the world....

Military plans to use drones as flying Wi-Fi hotspots

April 11, 2014 10:38 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

For civilians, a dearth of Wi-Fi is a minor inconvenience. First-world problems. But for our troops in the field, a lack of connectivity can kill you. No connection means no close-air support and no reinforcements. Hence the military’s push to turn drones into mobile Wi-Fi hotspots....

Watch an engineer deal with moronic requests from marketing

April 8, 2014 10:34 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

This sketch provides a decent approximation of what meetings feel like for engineers — or anyone with a technical job, really — as they try to interpret the vague, confusing, and otherwise bizarre requests from non-technical people. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this on occasion....

Samsung dupes Obama: Why “selfie advertising” needs to stop

April 4, 2014 2:05 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

What do President Obama, Brad Pitt, and Jennifer Lawrence have in common? They’ve all become unwitting props in a viral Samsung advertising campaign that relies on spontaneity, selfies, and tricking people — including the most powerful man in the world — into becoming brand ambassadors....

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TSA deploys drones to watch you from space

April 1, 2014 8:47 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Citing the ongoing domestic terrorist threat (aka, the “most dire threat to national security since Grandma Betty at the airport”), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has deployed a fleet of drones with the ability to destroy dangerous contraband like baby formula and remotely monitor “shady individuals” like 10-year-olds and grandparents....

Stop the madness! Facebook’s purchase of Oculus won’t trigger Armageddon

March 31, 2014 8:56 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The alternate title for this piece could’ve been “The Internet entitlement mentality” (part II), because that’s what Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus has triggered in millions of disgruntled techies and industry analysts. On Tuesday, March 25, Facebook acquired Oculus VR for approximately $2 billion....

This giant crab robot is straight out of your nightmares

March 25, 2014 10:04 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Picture the most horrifying crustaceans on planet Earth (or Science Fiction), toss in some H.G. Lovecraft, and you’ve got the Crabster CR200 autonomous underwater vehicle — the creepiest robot since that female droid from Metropolis (but without the sex appeal and with a healthy dose of *%^& your pants)....

Who will win the wireless power dogfight?

March 21, 2014 10:37 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

It’s like Betamax and VHS. The United States and the Soviet Union. Tom and Jerry. The furious tussle between direct induction and resonant magnetic induction played out at the 2014 Applied Power and Electronics Conference (APEC). This is a desperate fight that’ll determine the future of wireless power....

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.

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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.

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.

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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