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An itch for telecom reform

March 18, 2013 5:00 pm | by Brian Santo, Editor-in-Chief, CED magazine | Blogs | Comments

More than two decades after the Cable Act of 1992, and almost that long since the Telecommunications Act of 1996, it appears that the sentiment that it’s time for wide-ranging, substantive telecom reform is beginning to coalesce among legislators.

Unleashing engineering creativity: The Kano model

March 18, 2013 2:32 pm | by Joe Berk, Principal Member, Eogogics Engineering Faculty | Blogs | Comments

How do we decide which features to include in new products? That’s a great question. If we miss important features or include unnecessary features, customers will reject our products. If we include unexpected and exciting features, though, we can delight customers and jump ahead of the competition.

Is the Nobel Prize obsolete?

March 14, 2013 9:29 am | by Cynthia Fox, Bioscience Technology | Blogs | Comments

Over the last few months, the Nobel Prize has generated much controversy—again. More than 3,000 scientists contributed to the most high profile science event of 2012: the discovery of the Higgs boson subatomic particle. Yet the Nobel can only be split between three laureates. Was the Nobel Prize finally obsolete, the press fretted, in one angst-ridden blog after another?

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Will future technology herald "the end of insight"?

March 11, 2013 9:08 am | by Chris Fox, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

We all know the cliché regarding the robot apocalypse – we’ve even taken a few stabs at it on the Engineering Newswire. As we broach the crest of technology that operates upon the barrier between autonomous and thinking, it is easy to see the inevitability of crossing over. Immersing ourselves in a world not far off from Futurama, where robots have personalities and rights (sort of).

Learn from success too

March 7, 2013 9:20 am | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions | Blogs | Comments

Too easily, we forget that we should also examine how we achieve those occasional perfect outcomes. As we immerse ourselves in continuous process improvement, we get in the habit of tearing down and examining everything that doesn’t meet expectations, go according to plan, or work efficiently enough.

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.

Marketing schemes through the Google [looking] glass

March 5, 2013 9:14 am | by Chris Fox, Managing Editor | Blogs | Comments

Last June, Google announced a unique device that is supposed to incorporate their technology into your everyday life. In fact, their sights seem to be set on invading every moment your eyes are open with convenient updates, recording capabilities, and, of course, an easy-to-use search engine.

Obama’s brain project: A hall of mirrors?

March 5, 2013 9:04 am | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

One of the famous line drawings of the artist M. C. Escher portrays a realistically drawn hand holding a pencil. The line drawn by the pen turns out to be the cuff of a shirt sleeve, from which emerges a second hand ... which grows out of the paper somehow and holds a pencil, whose line is the cuff of a shirt sleeve, from which emerges the first hand.

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Pass the Marketplace Fairness Act

February 27, 2013 3:35 pm | by Rex Solomon, Houston Chronicle | Blogs | Comments

On July 1, 2012, online retail giant Amazon.com began collecting and remitting state sales taxes in Texas. As a small-business owner and president of Houston Jewelry, I can say from experience that this was cause for celebration in the Texas retail community.

Re-understanding “integrated” supply chain

February 19, 2013 1:08 pm | by Alan Nicol, Executive Member, AlanNicolSolutions | Blogs | Comments

Somewhere along the way, it became the norm to give up control of component supply and call it “business improvement.” Re-think the standard mode of buying stuff from others if you can do it yourself.

Engineering the future: Do we know what we’re doing?

February 19, 2013 12:53 pm | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

I assume many of my readers are either engineers or interested in engineering and its effects on society, so what I am about to say may surprise you. It is simply this: Engineers are playing a role in American society that may end American society as we have known it up to now. Let me explain.

Manufacturing’s evolving workforce

February 14, 2013 2:39 pm | by Bob Dean, Executive Director, Business Transformation, Cisco | Blogs | Comments

Pop culture references manufacturing as the factories of the 1800s or modern-day overseas sweatshops — full of mind-numbing, remedial tasks in dark and dingy factories. Today’s manufacturing environments tell a much different story: clean and safe environments with employees managing advanced machinery that drives innovation and productivity.

America's growing minerals deficit

February 11, 2013 5:10 pm | by Daniel McGroarty | Blogs | Comments

After every election, there's a mad scramble in Washington over the must-make-it-happen agenda for the newly inaugurated president and Congress. There are welcome signs from the White House's own Material Genome Initiative that securing America's access to critical metals and minerals will be high on the list.

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Power: Less is more for 2013

February 7, 2013 3:10 pm | by Bryon Moyer, Mouser Electronics | Mouser Electronics | Blogs | Comments

Power has come of age as a defining parameter in electronic systems. Whether maximizing battery life, keeping an enclosure cool, or passing large currents more efficiently, projects now start with power in mind. In 2013, we will see the continued migration of power technologies from research to commercial availability.

Automotive electronics in 2013 and beyond: Batteries bear a burden

February 7, 2013 2:58 pm | by David Carey, Mouser Electronics | Mouser Electronics | Blogs | Comments

This year will see automotive electronics designers approach power management (PM) more like their mobile industry counterparts. While it may seem a fringe concern, the burgeoning security, convenience, connectivity, safety, and infotainment features of tomorrow’s vehicles will drive design and component choices that address standby power consumption.

Health care reform: Will the medical device tax harm the industry?

February 6, 2013 3:57 pm | by Sean Fenske, Editor-in-Chief, Medical Design Technology | Blogs | Comments

Obviously, the overwhelming majority of the industry is not in favor of the medical device tax associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka, Obamacare). There are the remote pockets of support within the industry where people say that the tax, as part of the whole picture, will be a positive.

A new U.S. war: Restoring our competitiveness

February 6, 2013 3:26 pm | by Gordon Zuckerman | Blogs | Comments

If the United States economy is to restore itself to earlier levels of full employment, prosperity and financial soundness, the American manufacturing community must engage in a national effort to resurrect its global competitiveness.

FTC wanders down the wrong path

February 6, 2013 3:01 pm | by Andrew Berg, Senior Editor, Wireless Week | Blogs | Comments

Friday’s announcement of Path's settlement is illustrative of the way regulation works when you're trying to safeguard consumers from technology that the regulators themselves don't understand. It's also the way regulation works when you're trying to drum up press that illustrates how you catch the bad guys and make them pay.

SSLs see bright future in automotive platforms

February 6, 2013 2:43 pm | by Chris A. Ciufo, Mouser Electronics | Mouser Electronics | Blogs | Comments

The world is positively aglow with rapidly changing technology trends in solid state lighting (SSL) LEDs. According to the Department of Energy (DOE), costs dropped by a third in 2011 to about $12 per thousand lumens and will be on their way down to $2 per thousand lumens by 2015 (Strategies Unlimited, August 2012).

Will 12V solar disappear in 2013?

February 5, 2013 3:08 pm | by Jon Gabay, Mouser Electronics | Mouser Electronics | Blogs | Comments

The established solar architecture based on 12V photovoltaic panels, batteries, charge controllers, and inverters will continue to give way to grid-tied inverter architectures. This approach to harvesting solar energy brings with it a lot of key benefits.

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).

Mars or bust

February 5, 2013 9:10 am | by David Mantey, Executive Editor, PD&D | Blogs | Comments

Could you go to Mars? Sacrifice everything; friends, family, and (possibly) future in order to be one of the first colonists on the red planet? Maybe if you were the first to plant a boot print in the dusty red sand, you would have some sort of historical notoriety....

Wireless networking in 2013

February 4, 2013 4:57 pm | by Jack Shandle, Mouser Electronics | Mouser Electronics | Blogs | Comments

The outlook for wireless networking keeps getting brighter as more devices — some as large as automobiles — become connected. Megatrends also drive wireless growth with the single most important being the conversion of electricity grids into Smart Grids, which in turn creates markets for smart meters and smart homes.

Boeing’s 787 battery eggs: All in one lithium basket

January 31, 2013 11:13 am | by Karl Stephan, Consulting Engineer, Texas State University, San Marcos | Blogs | Comments

Excuse the tortured metaphor, but the old advice about not putting all your eggs in one basket applies to engineering as well as to other fields.  The implication is that if the basket with all your eggs slips and falls, you’ve lost everything.  Boeing hasn’t lost everything, but the battery troubles besetting its new 787 Dreamliner could not have come at a worse time.

A disturbance in the Force: The smartphone market is changing

January 30, 2013 2:45 pm | by Andrew Berg, Senior Editor, Wireless Week | Blogs | Comments

Can you hear it? That's the sound of the device market changing. It sounds a little like the whispers that RIM just might have something with BlackBerry 10. It also sounds a little like rumors that Amazon has the right kind of content ecosystem to launch a smartphone of its own.

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