Month: December 2009

Robots taking over from PCs — ASUS preps educational EeeBot Android | Electronista

PC maker ASUS has plans to develop and build an educational robot for kids, the EeeBot, that would run on the open-source Android operating system from Google. According to a Wednesday report, the project will be sponsored by the Taiwanese government to promote Android. A government website describes the project as an affordable robot, with all hardware and software tweaking performed by ASUS.

Robots are the new new thing. Combines robots, one of my favorite PC appliances (the EEE), and the mobile phone revolution. I’m in geek heaven -can’t wait for Christmas in two years …

Food for thought for the virtual desktop community – Most Popular Featured Desktops of 2009 – Lifehacker (via @technologygeek)

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Food for thought on the future of the desktop experience – beautiful hand crafted desktop themes. Seems a shame to even think about running applications … unless equally elegant.

Would any of these play well/poorly in a ‘virtual desktop’ world, or are they so different to the traditional windows/OSX desktop that they just fail?

http://lifehacker.com/5429064/most-popular-featured-desktops-of-2009

Neato robot vac challenges the Roomba with laser and SLAM – needs circular saw attack

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‘Neat’ advance in robot vac state of the art. Whereas roomba uses the minimalistic approach pioneered by Rodney Brookes, the Neato uses a much more traditional ‘big robotics’ approach, with laser positioning and explicit mapping. For an overview see the Wired Gadget lab article at: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2009/12/neato-vacuum-cleaner

Interesting to compare the ‘gadget geek’ article in wired with the press release from an undoubtedly more technical background – talking with enthusiasm about use of the SLAM algorithm, http://www.neatorobotics.com/pr_12_16_2009.html “The Neato XV-11 is the first mapping robot with intelligent path planning and cleaning. Using RPS Technology, the Neato XV-11 has a 360-degree view of a room, allowing it to map the details including walls, furniture, doorways and other obstacles up to four meters away. Unlike other cleaning robots that randomly bounce around a room, the Neato XV-11 maps the room with its RPS Technology. It then methodically cleans floors using SLAM (simultaneous localization and mapping) technology and path planning algorithms to outline the area to clean and then fully clean within the space in a back-and-forth pattern.”

The Australian Conference on Robotics and Automation (http://www.araa.asn.au/acra/acra2009/) had a bunch of papers on extending/applying SLAM. I also understand that these lasers and presumably SLAM were heavily used (pioneered?) in the DARPA autonomous vehicle challenges.

Great article – "There’s nothing native about young peoples engagement with technology" Danah Boyd

… But there’s one cliche in particular that annoys Danah Boyd: the “digital native”.

“There’s nothing native about young people‘s engagement with technology,” she says, adamantly.

The Microsoft researcher, who has made a career from studying the way younger people use the web, doesn’t think much of the widely held assumption that children are innately better at coping with the web or negotiating the hurdles of digital life. Instead, she suggests, they’re pretty much like everyone else.

“Young people are learning, they’re learning about the social world around them,” she says. “The social world around them today has mediated technologies, thus in order to learn about the social world they’re learning about the mediated technologies. And they’re leveraging that to work out the shit that kids have always worked out: peer sociality, status, their first crush.”

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/dec/09/interview-microsoft-research…)

What other common, but incorrect, views do we hold about the internet?
How else does the technoutopian view miss the mark?

Important questions for anyone who cares about the longer term.

Now I need three smartphones

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This is an interesting approach to the mobile device, ergonomics over all other considerations – will be interesting to see market response.

Is this a continuum from Else (elegant ergonomics and basic smartphone), though iPhone (emotional appeal and apps, but additional UI complexity to deal with apps) up to Android (mixed levels of UI/device elegance, but with higher levels of freedom to customize, applications).

Regardless … I _need_ all three.