Saturday, September 24, 2016
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See You on the Road

Solar has been a mixed bag for the last year. The business is on the upswing (see "Tech Watch" in this issue of U.S. Tech) as manufacturers gear up to meet the spiraling demand. U.S. companies are still struggling to match the lower-priced competition from China, which is largely subsidized ...
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One Man's Poison. . .

I grew up in a rather picturesque mill town in Upstate New York, many, many years before manufacturers had to think about environmental issues. The entire county was given over to one principal industry — the manufacture of leather gloves — and the numerous leather tanneries that supported this ...
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Wars Are Awfully Expensive

As our nation winds down from two wars in the wake of 9/11, our military is faced with inevitable spending cuts, as our armed forces transition from a wartime to a peacetime footing. Fighting a war is awfully expensive, and our national economy's lackluster performance is just one of the more visible ...

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No Place Like It


Something very special happened just before and during the IPC APEX Expo: my son Josh and the other two hikers who had been prisoners in Iran for more than two years, went on a book tour to promote their new book, "A Sliver of Light." Many people on the APEX Show floor had seen them ...

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Packrats Beware


I have a confession to make. I am a packrat. This can be dangerous because we live in a small house with very little space for storage. We have a storage shed behind our carport, but that's for things like the lawnmower, some yard tools, power tools and hardware. It's full, very full ...

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There's a Flood in Your Future

To a visitor from another planet, it would become immediately obvious — we live on a water world. In fact, land makes up only about 30 percent of the Earth's surface. Seen from outer space, our world appears to be all blue, the color of the oceans. It is indeed ironic that the oceans, which percolated ...
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What Happened to Analog?

Now that IPC/APEX is once again in Las Vegas (for two years) we have to look seriously at what the year ahead has in store for our industry. Business has never been better, the Dow has settled firmly in its new home above 16,000, and onshoring is alive and well in the USA.
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Complicated Is Better

Walter Salm, Editor
The commercial jet that landed at the wrong airport recently, with a dangerously short runway, makes me wonder why the flight crew wasn't using the automated landing system that would have clued in the pilots very quickly that they were heading for the wrong airport. This kind of stupid error was just so easy to avoid because no one thought to use the automated system for the final approach. Visual flight rules were being used, and this is something that can be chancy at best, given our crowded and over-busy airports and metro areas.

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It Only Gets Better

Jacob Fattal, Publisher
There is never a shortage of important trade shows, and as we head into a new year, we are already running to keep up with a very full schedule. At press time, we were anticipating a bigger than ever MD&M/Electronics West in Anaheim (see Product Preview Page 70), followed closely by the newest iteration of APEX in Las Vegas in March. This year's APEX Expo signals a new kind of schedule: 2 years in Las Vegas, then back to San Diego for another 2 years. Each city has its special attractions, but on the whole, we prefer San Diego because the anticipated life style isn't quite so frantic.

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A Relentless Push


As 2013 winds down, we can look back at a year when "Onshoring" became a major trend — one that's good for business both here and abroad. Many companies have found that there were too many hassles and costs involved with manufacturing in China, coupled with the ever-present threat ...
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Made in U.S.A.


As the voice of today's technology, I supposedly should be up to speed on everything, but I have mightily resisted giving up on my old Blackberry that I had grown to despise, mainly because it was old and well worn — like me. But it was developing some serious old-age problems; it ...
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A Vote of Confidence

The October/November trade show season is upon us, with such commitments as SMTAI and productronica — both of which get Product Preview coverage in this issue of U.S. Tech. As usual, we will be there, along with bonus distribution of the print edition.
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When in Doubt. . .

One day several months ago — or years ago, I forget which — I was asked by someone on our staff about my insistence on changing all percent symbols (%) in the text to the spelled-out word "percent". "Is this a rule of grammar?" I was asked, and replied, "No, it's a matter of style," I replied ...
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Just Do It

At one time, planning the September issue was a lot easier; there was just one major trade show for us, and it was in Rosemont. That show is gone, fragmented between McCormick Place and Schaumburg and in different months. So we find ourselves concentrating on other shows: Nepcon South China in late ...
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The Rockets Are Gone

It was summertime. As a young student at Union College, I stood every weekday morning on a corner across the street from Schenectady's Ellis Hospital, just off the college campus, and was picked up by a school bus painted olive drab. It carried a painted-on U.S. Army license, but there were no uniforms ...
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Filling the Tank with Hydrogen

In 1839, William Robert Grove, a Scottish lawyer with exotic scientific interests, developed what he called the "Grove Cell", a strange kind of electric battery using zinc and platinum electrodes that by 1842 had evolved into the fuel cell. But by 1846, he backed off on the scientific work and started ...
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When Can I Call You?

Getting a live person on the phone these days can be a bit of a problem. Most companies get incoming calls through an automated operator that will offer several choices, including a laundry list of departments — sometimes even a company directory that invites the caller to spell the party's last ...
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Inspiration Can Help

We have heard many gloom-mongers talk about the pitiful state of the American education system, and the fact that so few high school graduates go on to study science or engineering in college. They bemoan the fact that we are still sending far too few young people off to college for technology degrees ...
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Shame on You

Bell Labs has enriched us with a string of incredible technology breakthroughs over the years, but there are three standouts that really lead the pack: the transistor, followed closely by the integrated circuit, and then the charge-coupled device (CCD). Each of these inventions ultimately revolutionized ...
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Garbage Needed


Last month, we talked about a plethora of discarded CRTs from old computers and TV sets. Unfortunately, there did not appear to be a reasonable answer to this dilemma. Now we're looking at another trash category but with a very different kind of back story: ordinary household garbage....

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