Archive for the 'Robotics' Category

Scooba Scare.

May 1, 2006

On Saturday, the Scooba failed! It stopped producing water and just was wandering around dry. I followed the manual instruction and tried to clear it out with a turkey baster to no avail. When I stopped it and restarted it several times, it would release fluid for a little bit and then go dry again. From the forums, it looked like a major clog. I spend a very long time on hold with tech support and gave up.

On Sunday, I left it alone.

Tonight I was going to try calling tech support again, but I thought I would give it another shot. I had never emptied out the clean tank (precious cleaning fluid is like gold) so I just put it down and started it up. It mustered its strength and began doing it’s rotation cleaning and it sprayed water like it was brand new. It went through three sessions and cleaned my entire kitchen. I was very relieved. I have grown quite accustomed to having the Scooba clean the floors. The thought of going back to a mop was just way too depressing. My theory is that the Scooba dried out and when I started it up tonight, the clog passed like a kidney stone.

Scooba, Podcast & Plexi-PCs.

March 27, 2006


I ran my new Scooba all day yesterday. The key is apparently not to let it bite off more than it can chew. It does about 200 square feet at a time. I guess my kitchen is three times that amount, so to get a good cleaning, I’m going to have to section it off into threes and do three separate cleanings. Add the foyer, the mud room and 4 bathrooms and this sucker has its work cut out for it. I shot some video but that’s going to have to wait as I’ve got other stuff happening right now.


My podcast got booted off my favorite forum today. Ostensibly, the reason is content control. Posts can be moderated, an external program such as a podcast cannot. Of course I'm disappointed, but I've said many times that it's his show and he can do what he wants; like it or lump it. It's going to cost me my signature too b/c I promoted the podcast in my blog.

I could be dejected and give up, but I have the podcasting bug now. It's just fun. Plus, it's a big internet out there, full of controversial content. The blog is getting a lot of hits and there are many many forums in which to frolic. I'm going to keep podcasting even if we have to retool a bit before we continue.

The weird thing is that controversy is sort of foreign to me. I'm not very used to it. I think I only had detention once in my entire High School career.


I build computers as a hobby. I’ve done it since the 80s and it’s a lot of fun. This page shows you how to build a clear plexiglass computer case. You can then add LEDs or neon or whatever you want! It occurs to me that you could put 4 motherboards in one of these and have a computer built for KVM. The potential of this thing is amazing. It goes on my lists of projects this summer.

Friday Night Party Line Podcast.

March 25, 2006

With the help of a few friends, my first foray into podcasting is finished and available for download.  It’s the perfect thing for a long drive as it’s nearly an hour long.  But for your time, you’ll get to hear several interesting people talk about the new TiVo Series III, home improvement projects, domestic versus imported beer, hybrid cars versus electric or hydrogen, internet social gatherings and the delay of Microsoft’s Vista OS.  It’s certainly better than listening to a cattle report fade in and out on your car’s AM radio.  It can be found here

I have submitted it to iTunes as well and it’s now under review.

The RSS feed can be found here.

Thanks again to Droobie, Ilana, Nathan, Allie and Doug for making this so enjoyable. We really could have talked for several hours more!

Post Scooba Gadget Desires.

March 22, 2006

I honestly debated about blogging about gadgets I want to buy. It seems superficial, materialistic and of little purpose. But then again that describes most blogs anyway, right? Blogging is definitely a what-floats-your-boat enterprise. It’s the long tail blah-blah where many one hit wonders (or monkeys in a room full of typewriters) occasionally find success. At least that’s what I learned on Rocketboom.Ok, onto the good stuff. The Scooba has shipped. I’m hoping I get it this weekend. And, even though it’s already been done, I’m going to make a video, dammit. I want to preserve my Scooba wrought joy for the ages! This brings me to the first item on my gadget desires list.

The Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD1.

This puppy has been getting a lot of press lately. And no doubt! It’s sleek, it’s cook and it freakin’ puts HD recording in the palm of your hand! Granted it’s “only” 720p, but I don’t even have an HD set! I’d have to watch it on my computer or on the little itty bitty screen it comes with. Something tells me that HD editing is a gigantic pain in the keister, but even if I didn’t edit what I shot, I suspect it would be cool.

Next on the list is the Pleo.


Now I already blogged about my robot fetish. I fear that this much hyped robot companion might be just a glorified Furby. For these robots to really hold their entertainment power, they are going to have to have behavior variety that only serious microprocessing can emulate. We’ll see, but I’m sure I’m a big enough sucker to plunk down $200 bucks to see.

After that, I really like the Fossil Frank Gehry watch.


I know, it’s nerdy and honestly there’s two more watches after that that are going on the list, but I’ll wait to discuss those. If you are really curious about them, check my links to see what I’m looking at. The Gehry watch uses this negative/positive display that is so very cool to me yet still passes for a dress watch. I am definitely getting one.

The rest of the stuff on my list I find I have blogged about before. There’s the Alesis mixer, the iRAM card, an Origami device and the Lego Mindstorms NXT 2006. I’d better get crackin’ on putting that spare change in the ol’ piggy bank! I only have a limited budget for toys and the Scooba has taken a chunk out of it. If you want to donate to further my materialistic desires, I’m sure I can send you my paypal address. J

The Death Of Television Has Been Greatly Exaggerated.

March 15, 2006

I finally ordered my Scooba today.  Would you believe that they are backordered?  Apparently a $400 robot mop has more of a market than one would think!  IRobot is shipping the Clorox first.  I wish they wouldn’t do that.  What the hell am I going to do with the Clorox without the Scooba?  They had better not charge me twice on the shipping.  Best Buy is carrying the Scooba now too.  I suppose I could have gone there, but then I’d have to pay sales tax.


I heard an interview on a podcast the other day and I can’t remember which one or who the person was.  Anyway, he said that television is dead and HD is dead and that people should just buy computers.  Now as a person with 14 computers, I would hardly tell someone not to buy a computer.  However, the idea that television is dead is silly.  The day that movie theaters die, so will follow television.  In the meantime, so long as people gather to watch movies together a computer just doesn’t cut it.  The person who said this might be a true loner nerd.  This would be the kind of guy who does not look beyond his sandbox (or basement) and watches whatever he wants to watch whenever he wants to watch it alone on his computer. 


Television is far too simple and flexible to be replaced by a computers.  True, televisions will contain more computer equipment and have computer functionality, but it’s stupid to think that people will want to crowd around a work station for movies and TV shows.  It works for individuals (sort of) but not groups.  Also, when I exercise and watch television, it’s on a TV, not a computer.  Yes, there is a TiVo attached to it, but it’s designed for the specific purpose of getting movies and shows in my face.  While it does things like play blogs now, the primary purpose is for television content storage. 


What will kill television and movies will be an entirely new way to experience storytelling.  It will be some sort of holographic and tactile experience.  I suppose it could be tied to computers, but it will need to freely allow groups of people to enjoy it together or the theater and the TV will still survive.  I doubt this happens in the next 40 years.

Robot Pets.

January 27, 2006

I was going to write about robot pets today but it turns out that it’s a popular topic. So I’m still going to write about them, but I’m going to take it in a little different direction. There is a lot of derivative material out there, after all. You can’t read five tech sites without getting a little overflow. This past week, I was going to scream if I saw another story about the comet dust collector. It’s just dust, people. We got dust off the moon by the pound.  I’ve got years of dust in my office they can have– for free!  We’ve got meteors all over Antarctica. It’s all the same stuff! Ok, anyway, robot pets.I want a Scooba really bad. I mean I want it like Ralphie wanted his Red Ryder BB gun, but I don’t think it will cost me an eye. That’s what I want for my next robot pet.  I want to watch it scrub my tile while I sit back and smugly watch work being performed of which I am not a part. 

I already have the first Robosapien and the Robo-Raptor. It’s fun to make them fight, but they don’t do much cleaning.  When they battle, Robosapien is a wuss who keeps saying “Ouch!” but then sometimes he gets the Raptor in a head lock.

See you can do things with robot pets that you just can’t do with real ones. Cock fights are illegal in my state. Robot pets can fight all day long with nary a complaint from the Animal Protective League.

Moreover, and more to the point, robot pets do not poop. Waste management is a HUGE issue with real pets. Real pets poop all the time! Cleaning up after them is a significant part of the whole living pet experience! Not so with robot pets. No poop and when you are done playing with them, they go up on the shelf or in the closet until you are ready to play with them again… or use them to scrub your floor.