They Know Where You Are

New technologies can pinpoint your location at any time and place. They promise safety and convenience-but threaten privacy and security

12 min read

The terrorist blast had destroyed the office building. Piles of glass and concrete littered most of a city block, the air was thick with dust, debris still smoldered. The police had no suspects but had already sent out an all-points alert. Then, when troopers pulled a van over for making a couple of risky lane changes, they found a pile of fertilizer sacks and an empty fuel-oil drum in the back. A duffel bag held a change of clothes, a small kit with a new razor and other toiletries, and a .45-caliber pistol. The truck had been stolen, and the driver wasn’t talking.

Within an hour, some 1000 km away, an FBI team walked into a Wal-Mart with pictures of the arrested man. One of the cashiers recognized the face. ”There were four of them,” she said. ”One of our regular customers said they were friends visiting from out of town—but that guy’s a loner. He lives out on County 15.”

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Robot Gift Guide 2022

Your yearly selection of awesome robot gifts

7 min read
A collage of 9 photos of robots, including quadrupeds robots, wheeled robots, and drones.
IEEE Spectrum (Robots: Companies)

It’s been a couple of years, but the IEEE Spectrum Robot Gift Guide is back for 2022! We’ve got all kinds of new robots, and right now is an excellent time to buy one (or a dozen), since many of them are on sale this week. We’ve tried to focus on consumer robots that are actually available (or that you can at least order), but depending on when you’re reading this guide, the prices we have here may not be up to date, and we’re not taking shipping into account.

And if these robots aren’t enough for you, many of our picks from years past are still available: check out our guides from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012. And as always, if you have suggestions that you’d like to share, post a comment to help the rest of us find the perfect robot gift.

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The Women Behind ENIAC

A new book tells the story of how they broke a computer-science glass ceiling

6 min read
Two women programmers preparing a computer to be demonstrated.

Jean Jennings (left) and Frances Bilas, two of the ENIAC programmers, are preparing the computer for Demonstration Day in February 1946.

University Archives and Records Center/University of Pennsylvania

If you looked at the pictures of those working on the first programmable, general-purpose all-electronic computer, you would assume that J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were the only ones who had a hand in its development. Invented in 1945, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was built to improve the accuracy of U.S. artillery during World War II. The two men and their team built the hardware. But hidden behind the scenes were six women—Jean Bartik, Kathleen Antonelli, Marlyn Meltzer, Betty Holberton, Frances Spence, and Ruth Teitelbaum—who programmed the computer to calculate artillery trajectories in seconds.

The U.S. Army recruited the women in 1942 to work as so-called human computersmathematicians who did calculations using a mechanical desktop calculator.

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Get the Rohde & Schwarz EMI White Paper

Learn how to measure and reduce common mode electromagnetic interference (EMI) in electric drive installations

1 min read
Rohde & Schwarz

Nowadays, electric machines are often driven by power electronic converters. Even though the use of converters brings with it a variety of advantages, common mode (CM) signals are a frequent problem in many installations. Common mode voltages induced by the converter drive common mode currents damage the motor bearings over time and significantly reduce the lifetime of the drive.

Download this free whitepaper now!

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