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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thoughts on the movie "I, Robot".


The image is courtsey of http://www.propstore.com/products.htm?movieIdForm=698&productsKeywordSearchfo....

I just finished watching "I, Robot" for the third time. No, not in a row. First time was in the theater when it was released, second time was on DVD at a friends house a couple of years back. I've been thinking about how tech in movies is catching up with physical reality.

The prop above is from that movie. A detective's ID. The way it works is you simply show it to whatever scanner you're in front of. The robots know who he is from that ID. So today, you now have RFID and Bluetooth. Most of the current ID tech relies on the same concept. All we need is auto-pilot cars with spherical wheels. The robots are here. Just not in people's homes. Yet.

Anyway, RFID and Bluetooth are those types of tech that are scary good. The good news is anyone can find you. The bad news is anyone can find you.

Please, people, be VERY sure of what info you have on the internet. How public do you really want to be? If you value any kind of privacy, keep your cards at home, and your phone with Bluetooth disabled.

Of course, going with the trends, RFID is eventually going to be embedded in driver's licences and state ID cards. Consider keeping those in the glove compartment. Because your car is going to want to know who you are for auto locking mechanisms, you might want to consider installing old-style key locks. And nothing with a card. A good old fashioned metal key.

And this advice is coming from someone who advocates RFID/Bluetooth/WiFi soda machines. I feel like such a whore.....




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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

China Shows First Image From Lunar Probe

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/071126-ap-china-lunar.html

I'm not commenting on this because of the fact that they took pictures. Yes, it's great that they took pictures. But for one line in this story:

"Beijing wanted to use its program to work with other countries and hoped to join in building the International Space Station."

First of all, I'm not a China sympathiser. China has a hell of a lot wrong with it. But so does every other country around the world. The US isn't exactly a role model anymore. But I'm not getting into politics here. My blog today is about space development.

Why isn't China part of the Freedom Station?

They want in SO bad! So why is the US dragging it's feet? Is our military so paranoid that it insists on keeping China out? China can add much science to the global presence in space.

To the Pentagon, I say, stop dragging your feet. You know what they're up to. Let science do it's thing. Let China in!




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Monday, November 5, 2007

Cellular phone robot

http://robotgossip.blogspot.com/2007/01/cellular-phone-robot-cpr.html

The link is to a little item in development in Korea called a cellular phone robot. It looks impressive to me so far. The thing has several features that most simple robots have now. The video explains it all. When it goes to market, I'll be looking to buy one!




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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Third-World Wind Power: First Look

Third-World Wind Power: First Look

This is a pretty amazing concept. It will never happen in first world countries, simply because of the good ol' boys network of power companies and fuel providers. At least not until all hell breaks loose and destroys the infrastructure.




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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

China offers surprise hope in climate change fight

China offers surprise hope in climate change fight

Well, every once in a while, I have to eat my words. This looks like it might be one of those times. A couple of months back, I blogged about how the global warming camp needed to go bother China about it's pollution. The one thing about China: They care a LOT about global appearance. Wanting to be seen as a true world power, they have been taking lots of heat from the activists. And the Chinese certainly don't sit around in endless commitees debating about what and how to do things.

I think I'll do some searching and see what else they're up to on climate change. If there is going to be true affordability for things like solar power, China will probably be the ones pushing it through.

Who'd a thunk it???




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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

World's First Automated Restaurant Opens In Germany

Goodbye Rude Waiters: World's First Automated Restaurant Opens In Germany - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Another article on automated resturants. Better look into getting your resume in order!




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AIC-CI Cookingrobot Chinese Robotic Chef: Science Fiction in the News

AIC-CI Cookingrobot Chinese Robotic Chef: Science Fiction in the News

I came across this story about a year ago and forgot about it. Then I found it again and decided to share. Anybody ready to retire early from fast food service?




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PC World - Commodore Gaming Opens North American HQ

PC World - Commodore Gaming Opens North American HQ

Just when you think a technology is finally ready to go to electronics heaven, it lifts it's head, and in classic Monty Python style proudly exclaims: "I'm not dead, yet!"




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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

ROBOTS DREAMS: Is A Vending Machine A Robot? (Video)

ROBOTS DREAMS: Is A Vending Machine A Robot? (Video)

I took the time to watch this video. It's okay if you're into the whole Japanese thing. I was led to believe that there were actually robotic soda machines being made now. Needless to say, this really has nothing to do with soda machines. And I posted a comment expressing as much.

So here I am thinking about the whole robotic soda machine concept. And the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Not just for the soft drink industry, but for public WiFi and networking in general. What is the biggest single obstacle facing public access? Hotspots. Seriously. Say for instance that Earthlink contracts with a metro area to provide WiFi. The biggest cost is setting up antennas. But what if instead of the hassle of leasing pole space on streetlamps and telephone poles, they were to set up links through soda machines? The damned things are EVERYWHERE! Don't think so? You obviously haven't been paying much attention in your town. Nearly every third business, from the giant corporation to the local mom-and-pop storefront has a soda machine in front, looking for that extra few dollars.

If the giants like Coca-Cola and Pepsi were to manufacture robotic soda machines with Bluetooth and WiFi networking to each machine, it would be ridiculously easy for Earthlink to simply lease the machines necessary to cover the metropolitan area. No climbing poles for maintenance. Coke and Pepsi get free or inexpensive advertising. The city gets its entire area networked. And no one has to miss out on their soft drink of choice. Out of Mr. Pibb in one machine? It tells you BEFORE you drop your bucks in! And trust me, the emphasis is on bucks. The cost of WiFi comes from somewhere.

"Hello, Joe, yesterday you had a Coke. What would you like today?"

"I'll have a Sprite, please."

"Sorry, I'm out of Sprite, but there is a machine on the next block that has just been stocked!"

"Thanks, buddy! I'm on my way!"

"See you next time!"

7/21/07- postscript

Vending machines also don't give a damn if you use change to buy your drink, either. Give a pocket full of change to a human behind a counter, and the chances are good that person will at best stifle a sigh, or at worst, ask if you have paper money.




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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Entry for June 13, 2007

The "global warming" camp is getting in everyone's face lately. If you haven't noticed, you have your head in the sand. Yes, global warming is happening. But it's not entirely because of humanity. Why do all the activists live in the democratic countries? Why don't they ship a boatload over to places like China? Oh, that's right. Because they'll get executed or jailed for speaking out against the government. Never mind that the "3rd world" countries are the worst culprits for global warming conditions. Get out of my face. I've done all I can. You people are preaching to the choir.

Earth is getting ready for some massive upheavals. It happens on an average of every ten to twelve thousand years. Guess what? We're the lucky ones who get to experience it. All the pointers are predicting 2012. I won't go to extreme of a precise date. Nobody is that accurate. I don't care what you say about people like Nostrodamus and Cayce. The two theories I'm leaning toward is either an astroid strike, or a major magnetic pole shift. Maybe both. And not necessarily in that order. Everything you've learned about plate tectonics happens after that. Supposedly the Atlantians tried to warn us about this, but we're too politically correct to look in the only place left with the info to discover wat happened. The chamber under the Sphinx's right front paw has been "discovered", even though it was already foretold. But for some reason, it has not been entered. And all the other locations around the world have either disintegrated from time, or were distroyed by war or other human interference. But most of us already suspect this inevitability. After it's over, we'll be able to ask the Atlantians ourselves.

Yeah, I sound like a "the end is near" crackpot. Well, guess what? It is. Preaching about the dangers of global warming now is too late. You needed to be around during the industrial revolution. But global warming is just an indicator of something that is going to happen that only God can stop now. My question to you is, are you ready to meet your Maker?

Instead of preaching, you need to be praying. Because it's gonna happen. I just hope the rock falls on my head. I hate painful suffering.




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Monday, February 19, 2007

Entry for February 19, 2007

I've taken my "October Moonbase" offline for a bit. Physical Reality isn't cooperating with me. Neither are finances. It's kind of hard to build a moonbase out of LEGOs when you can't afford to buy 'em. I'll announce when I have it back up.

On an unrelated note; we have a gizmo at work that pumps a soapy chemical similar to Rid-X thru the pipes to the outside grease traps. It's a very simple affair. A timer, battery pack, and pump. That's it. The reason I mention this, is a couple of weeks back the thing wasn't working, so I had changed the battery pack. It also turns out the timer was turned off. Well, a few days ago the manager asks me if the "McFree bot" was working.

Bot?

Now I would NEVER have considered that thing a bot. But part of a defination of robotics is automation. And the pump is definately automatic. Not autonomous. but automatic. Yes there is a chip in place to run the show. But, I mean, c'mon, it's a simple mechanism. There is a mindset change happening in society. What I think of as a gadget, others are now calling a bot.

Robotics is definately on the move, to loosely use a term. One day in the VERY near future, we're gonna be seeing these machines and not pay them any mind. Until one day you're out of a job. They won't take over the world. They have no use for it. It's physical. Their domain will be virtual. All you need to do is hit the off switch, and they're nothing but so much plastic, metal, and silicon. If you ever come across a machine that has learned to put it's power switch in front to protect itself, then we'll have problems.

No, I'm not going to be around when the machines are smart enough to replace people in mass. But the people that WILL be around are already entirely comfortable with the concept of burger flipping machines and a colorful speaker inside the lobby of the local fast food place with a perfect electronic voice offering you choices and specials.




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Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The passing of Mr. John Tobin

Hmm, where to start...

I received a call around 8 pm tonight. An "older" acquaintance of mine has passed on. His name is John Tobin. I received an email earlier in the day saying that he had been admitted to the hospital with advanced pneumonia. I knew it wouldn't be long. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's some years back. The last time I had heard anything about him was a little over a year ago. He didn't recognize anyone.

I first met John through another close friend of mine, Dylan. John was Dylan's seventh grade teacher "back in the day". We were all model railroaders then. Dylan had learned that "Toby" had a layout in his basement. Dylan had a 4 x 6, and I had a single loco that I ran at his place. I remember the day that Toby broke down and let Dylan in to see his layout. His exact quote to me was "I smell trains!". About a half year later, I was admitted in as well.

Over the years, the two of us were treated to all that John knew about the hobby. What were the differences in brands. Horn hook couplers verses Kadees. Tyco verses Athearn. Kato verses Bachmann. And brass track verses nickel silver. And we learned the duller sides of the hobby too. Track cleaning, cork roadbed shifting, and knocking your head on too many duck-unders. But most of all, I remember the tremendous fun we had in a dark damp basement in Chicago.

But time marches on. The yuppies were advancing on Toby's neighborhood. He and his wife were both retired by then, so a family decision was made to sell the brownstone they owned and move to smaller digs. John had thoughtfully made a video of the old layout, and took tons of pictures over the years. Dylan was offered what I considered a prize centerpiece of that old layout. A double track arched truss bridge. When I was first there, it went across the two foot isle between the layout. I loved watching the trains cross it. I got a few boxcars, and an AHM "Big Boy".

But the signs of age were starting to show on John. Even though the new basement was just half the size, the layout framework never did go together right in his own mind. The last time I was there, it was just framework, no track. And finally, my wife and I moved to Michigan. So I never did see if the layout got completed. About five years ago, I saw Toby for my last time. I was down to Illinois to celebrate Dylan's 40th birthday. John thought of just about everything. Get together with the old train buddies at another friends home layout. Beer. Cake. And reminiscing about the "good old days". The ironic thing was that Toby almost got lost coming to the meet.

Dylan had been the one that had emailed me. And tonight, when he called to say that Toby was gone, his voice was so audibly shaken. He didn't grieve this much when his folks passed away. But I knew he did grieve. He just hid it better.

So now, I sit here, with a gin and tea next to me. And reminisce. And think about that bridge that Dylan still has. And I'm sure will never part with until his own demise.

I raise my glass in a toast: Here's to you John.

Don't knock your head on the duck-unders on God's model railroad.

Rest in Peace.




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