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Losing the space race ex post facto

April 26, 2012 11:27 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The United States is conceding the space race...43 years after winning it. The Space Shuttle's ignominious retirement closes the door on an engineering marvel and an American institution. And the public didn’t bat an eyelash. How did we get to this point? How did space travel become blasé? When Neil Armstrong took one small step for (a) man, half a billion people tuned in around the world.  

CES 2012: Microsoft goes out with a whimper

January 16, 2012 8:29 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor, Special thanks to ECN's photographer, Andrew Maiman | Articles | Comments

For a company that changed the world with its PC operating systems and dominated CES for over a decade, Microsoft left a mute impression in its swan song at the world’s largest consumer electronics show. Even the star power of American Idol’s Ryan Seacrest

Gifts for Geeks

December 14, 2011 5:08 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

So you waited until the last minute to complete your shopping list...luckily, your trusty friends at ECN are here to help. And praise the lord for that, because geeks are a tough crowd: They don’t bow to the fashion gods, patronize expensive beauty salons, or play anything that involves cardiovascular activity.

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Army developing self-aware, decision-making network

November 18, 2011 8:39 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The U.S. Army is developing a “self-aware, decision-making network” that will ultimately reduce human decision-making requirements and increase network performance. The Cognitive Algorithm & Network Design Experiment (CANDE) was designed to enable easier network maintenance, reduce human decision-making requirements, increase network lifetime, transfer data with less delay, and reduce energy consumption.

ECN’s Tale of Two Veterans

November 10, 2011 12:27 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The military deserves our eternal gratitude, and this Veterans Day, we extend our heartfelt appreciation for their immeasurable sacrifices...for their blood, sweat, and tears shed in defense of this great nation of ours. You may not know this, but Electronic Component News has two veterans in its midst. Your humble author, formerly 2nd Lieutenant Lomberg, served three years in the Army Reserve.

A proactive approach to healthcare

October 13, 2011 10:42 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

We’ve cured cancer. Well...not quite, but according to some, early detection will eradicate deadly diseases. This was one of many fascinating topics covered at the 2011 Imec Tech Forum. Imec (Interuniversity Microelectronics Centre) is a Belgium-based R&D center that focuses on nano-electronics.

Incandescent ban steamrolls past legislative efforts

July 19, 2011 12:11 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

The Better Use of Light Bulbs Act (BULB) has been defeated in the House of Representatives. BULB would have amended the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, thereby staying the incandescent ban. But it was not to be. With no further challenges, the Edison Lightbulb faces mandatory retirement in January 2012.

Retirement of Shuttle leaves void in manned space program

July 7, 2011 11:20 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

After Atlantis’ two-week mission, NASA will retire the Space Shuttle. Between the Shuttle’s retirement and the completion of the International Space Station in 2020, the U.S. faces a nine-year gap during which we’ll lack the ability to independently ferry astronauts into space. The Space Shuttle fit the textbook definition of government mismanagement. Envisioned as “routine and economical”, the finished product was neither.

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Talkin’ displays in the City of Angels

June 1, 2011 6:50 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

This year, the Society for Information Display (SID) returned to Los Angeles for its annual Display Week conference. Apart from the weather, which mimicked last year’s Seattle venue, the show was a smashing success. This being Los Angeles, we had Hollywood royalty on display—visual effects pioneer Douglas Trumbull (2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner)discussed trends in production and exhibition technologies...

James Cameron promotes 3D for the tube

April 13, 2011 11:57 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

James Cameron is bestowing 3D upon us, whether we want it or not. Cameron has partnered with “Avatar” cameraman Vince Pace to form a venture aimed at “driving the widespread adoption of 3D technology in episodic television, sports and advertising.”

Contrarian corner: The 3DS

April 12, 2011 6:45 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

E3 2010: the mecca for gamers. Nintendo officially unveils the 3DS, and gamers everywhere swoon in fits of ecstasy. I finally try out Nintendo’s miracle handheld, and my impressions are…underwhelming. The mainstream gaming press was a bit less, shall we say, nuanced...

Japan announces domestic stealth fighter

March 8, 2011 12:18 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Responding to regional threats and the United States’ refusal to share F-22 technology, Japan is developing its own stealth fighter. The “land of the rising sun” intends to fly its first stealth fighter prototype by 2014. Japan and Israel have both expressed interest in the “air supremacy weapon”, the F-22 Raptor.

Army to deploy “revolutionary” smart weapon

February 3, 2011 9:23 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The U.S. Army is set to deploy a “revolutionary” airburst grenade launcher, said to be the first small arms “smart” weapon. Described as a “game changer,” the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System (CDTE) could fundamentally transform squad and platoon tactics. Most firefights in Afghanistan take place beyond 300 meters (often up to 500 meters).

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Al-Qaida leader: Drone strikes costing fighters, territory

January 27, 2011 8:52 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

In a rare admission of defeat, an Al-Qaida leader in Pakistan conceded that drones are costing fighters and denying the terror network safe havens. This speaks to the continued success of the “drone war”, and will undoubtedly spur proponents of the F-35. According to Ustadh Ahmad Farooq, “There were many areas where we once had freedom, but now they have been lost,” he said.

3D: The panacea no one wants

January 13, 2011 12:22 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

To paraphrase David Farragut, damn the sales figures; full speed ahead! If CES 2011 signaled anything, it was the industry’s intent on shoving 3D down our throats. The most vocal proponent, Sony, claims they’ll “lead the industry’s charge for 3D.” Yet for the industry, it’s more like a holy crusade.

Chinese fifth-gen fighter shatters U.S. illusions

January 11, 2011 9:56 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

China held the first test flight of its fifth-generation J-20 fighter today. Lifting off at 12:50:08 local time (04:50:08 GMT), the Chengdu J-20 recorded a flight time of about 18 minutes. This can’t be overstated—the J-20 could seriously alter the balance of power in the Pacific. When Secretary Gates capped the F-22 Raptor at 187 planes, it was based on the presumption that the era of conventional warfare was over.

Navy launches first aircraft using electromagnetic system

December 23, 2010 5:57 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The Navy made history on December 18 when it launched its first rollercoaster, er, aircraft, using the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) technology. The F/A-18 Super Hornet, piloted by Lt. Daniel Radocaj, was launched from Naval Air Systems Command, Lakehurst, N.J.

The “all-digital future”: Surrendering our property rights

December 13, 2010 7:46 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

We keep hearing about it—the “all-digital future”: easier, more convenient, no need to drive to the store. Download all the content you want instantly. Thus, iTunes, OnLive, Steam, and various other services were born. But this convenience bears a steep price. In our rush to embrace the all-digital future, we’ve sacrificed fundamental property rights.

Gifts for geeks

December 1, 2010 7:25 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

It’s that time of year again! No, I’m not talking about Jolly ‘Ol Saint Nick, mistletoe, or trees with stars on top. ‘Tis the season for giving, but also for spoiling ourselves with the latest gadgets, gizmos, toys, and entertainment. We’re never too old to experience the joy of opening presents!

Air Force wants tougher, ''more survivable'' drones

November 8, 2010 4:27 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

The U.S. military wants its next-generation RPVs to be more survivable in “contested airspace.” At a breakfast with reporters in DC, Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove (the Air Force’s chief of operations, plans and requirements) noted the MQ-9 Reaper’s shortcomings, and stressed the need for tougher, more durable RPVs.

Lockheed Martin showcases incredible “HULC”

November 1, 2010 5:46 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

At the recent Association of the U.S. Army conference in D.C., Lockheed Martin showcased its Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC), the defense giant’s answer to Raytheon’s XOS-2 exoskeleton (the “Real Iron Man Suit”). That’s right: it’s HULC vs. Iron Man.

Canada gets cold feet over F-35

October 19, 2010 9:53 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

A report released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives calls Canada’s planned procurement of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter “fundamentally flawed.” According to the CCPA, “Canada does not need the F-35, either for North American/domestic roles or for expeditionary roles.”

Raytheon unveils wearable exoskeleton suit

September 28, 2010 12:20 pm | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Coinciding with the release of Iron Man 2 on Blu-Ray/DVD, Raytheon unveiled a real-life wearable robotic suit. The second-generation exoskeleton (XOS 2) purportedly is lighter, faster and stronger than its predecessor, yet it uses 50 percent less power. Before one conjures Sci-Fi fantasies of space marines, it’s worth pointing out what the XOS 2 is not—it isn’t a futuristic robotic battle suit.

Consumer rights: Court rules against used software sales

September 13, 2010 10:42 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Articles | Comments

The 9th Circuit of Appeals has reaffirmed the right of software companies to circumvent the first-sale doctrine by “licensing” rather then “selling” its products. The significance of this ruling cannot be overstated—it could singlehandedly destroy the used software market.

“Grey Eagle” UAS to deploy to Afghanistan

September 8, 2010 7:58 am | by Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor | Blogs | Comments

Weaponized versions of the MQ-1C “Grey Eagle” Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) will begin deploying to Afghanistan in the fall. Formerly known as the Sky Warrior, Grey Eagle is the Army’s answer to the Predator. In recent tests at the National Training Center, the Grey Eagle’s on-board laser designator performed flawlessly.

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