I've been on vacation from work with the wife and kids at home since last Friday (until the 30th), so I've actually had time to do some videogame, computer and related things I've been meaning to do for a very long time. As I mentioned in another thread my wife had a cookie party on Saturday, so I took some time away from all the ladies with my dad by retiring to the basement and getting his help with finishing upgrading/repairing the modified Hero Jr robot and PAL-based Exidy Sorcerer, as well as repairing a spare Nintendo DS Lite in an aftermarket case and Microsoft Xbox 360 wireless controller.
I uploaded a quick (~2 minutes), unedited video from my Flip Video camera of my new iRobot Verro 100 Above Ground Pool Cleaning Robot in action (one of my stuffy, talkative daughters provides the unrelated audio...). This is the second time that I'm using it and I must say it's everything that I hoped for. It has very simple operation - essentially just put one of the two types of reusable mesh bags in the collection canister and dump the robot in the pool to do its thing. It takes about two hours, you pull it out of the pool after a 20 minute cool off period, then you dump out and hose off the mesh bag in the cannister, and it's ready to go again. It's not quite as intelligent as the Roomba, which I discussed previously here, but it does what it's supposed to, pretty much cleaning the whole pool in an efficient manner. It's certainly much easier and more effective than me doing it myself manually. Here's the video:
From "What's New Now from Ziff Davis" Newsletter (commentary below the excerpt):
Microsoft seems to have won over skeptical robot developers with the release of its new Robotics Studio product. The product's pretty neat, it lets you program real robots, or virtual instantiations of them that live inside your PC. Even better, it's free to download and play with - you'll just pay when you actually use it to control an autonomous mechatron of your own design. Our story is chock full of details on how Microsoft won over the robotics community, what's new inside the software, and where to download it yourself, for free.
Boy, the Lego Mindstorms NXT is looking cooler and cooler. I still have the original kit and won't be getting this one for quite some time until I break the seal on that one, but this one sure looks great for those who don't already have something like this or want something especially hardcore.
From the RobotBooks.com Newsletter:
RobotBooks.com Newsletter â€“ November 21, 2006
Robot Kits, Robot Books, Robot Toys
To follow up my second technology-related blog of the day after the Sony eBook device, making the rounds via delivery truck on the Internet is news of French firm Aldebaran Robotics announcing the Nao Project.
As we've discussed many times before, the early to mid-1980's featured a type of personal robotics boom to rival that of the personal computer boom. The difference was the computer boom kept on going, while the robotics boom stalled, taking corporate interest with it.
Boy, the robot information seems to keep coming. Soon enough, we'll all have robot overlords to serve. In any case, for now, check out this newsletter update from RobotBooks.com, with lots of interesting new and compiled information for enthusiasts of computers, robots and technology:
As a lifetime technophile primarily interested in computers and videogames, another area that has always intrigued me, but been generally hands-off due to the various barriers to entry, is home robotics. There were some delightful robots and kits in the early to mid-80's to go along with the personal computer boom. However, the personal robotics boom was short lived and ultimately a much smaller niche than even the fledgling personal computer business at the time, dooming them to the domain of the truly hardcore. Today, toy and personal robots and robot kits from the likes of Tomy and Heathkit are still very much in demand. Much more recently, Lego made a strong impact in the home robotics and hobbyist field with their Mindstorms technology and Radio Shack carries an aggressive line of kit robots and accessories. Bottom line, today hobbyist robotics is stronger than ever and more practical than ever, though is still awaiting that "killer app" to truly push it into the mainstream.