Friday, December 7, 2007

Pleo: PCMag review

Pleo walks and moves smoothly, but it's slow, and
unlike a real puppy, cannot run into your arms. You can make it come to
you by holding its legs for three seconds, but then there'll be a long,
long wait for it to arrive. Pleo has force feedback sensors in its
legs, but they're currently not enabled. That much was obvious whenever
I lifted it by its stomach, which positioned my hand in the middle of
its four legs. Both my 12-year-old son and I had the experience of Pleo
nearly crushing our hands. No damage was done, but the robot seems
unaware that our digits were there.

The rubber skin smells funny, and stroking it is
somewhat difficult—your hand will drag along the brightly colored
rubber flesh.

Charging Pleo's removable battery can take 3
hours in a recharging station that sometimes makes it difficult to
properly seat the battery, and then you get roughly an hour of
playtime. There's no visual indicator or beep that lets you know when
Pleo is running out of juice. It just slows down and eventually stops.
I remember how Sony's AIBO robot dog could actually hunt for its
charging station when it was running out of power. On the other hand,
it was often too far from the base to make it and ended up temporarily
dead on the kitchen floor.

Article Link (PCMag)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Robovie-X 'Bot Fires Missiles at Moving Targets, Plays Dress-Up


Robovie-X is a new robot kit from Japanese DIY maker ATR. Not only can
it use its fully-programmable 17 degrees of freedom and optical
distance sensors to follow moving targets and fire at them with a
surprisingly powerful plastic missile launcher, it can also,
apparently, shed its armor and dress up as a jazz-hands-waving Foghorn
Leghorn or a white-gloved Michael Jackson archer.
Article Link (Gizmodo)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Google Announces Fastest Growing Search Terms

Yesterday Yahoo announced its top search trends for 2007. Google’s list traditionally come later in December (here’s last years list),
but today VP of Search and User Experience Marissa Mayer revealed the
“fastest rising U.S. search terms” on the Today Show. Thank
God the Britney losers either don’t hang out on Google, or else Google has the sense to just filter it out as background noise.

The queries are below. It’s not clear how different these will
be from the year-end Zeitgeist list. Last year Google described how
they came up with the list: “we looked for those searches
that were very popular in 2006 but were not as popular in 2005 —
the explosive queries, the topics that everyone obsessed over. To come
up with this list, we looked at several thousand of 2006’s most
popular searches, and ranked them based on how much their popularity
increased compared to 2005.”
That sounds a lot like how this list would be compiled.

1. iphone

2. webkinz

3. tmz

4. transformers

5. youtube

6. club penguin

7. myspace

8. heroes

9. facebook

10. anna nicole smith

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Things you should not do to your Pleo

We're really enjoying the Pleo manual's list of things you shouldn't do with your Pleo. Officially you should make sure you don't:

  • Abuse Pleo
  • Get Pleo wet
  • Throw, drop, or violently shake Pleo
  • Sit on Pleo
  • Place Pleo near heat or flames
  • Place Pleo in sand, soil, or mud
  • Leave Pleo with other pets or animals capable of biting or damaging him
  • Risk overheating Pleo by covering him with a blanket during play
  • Allow small children to play with Pleo unsupervised

So naturally we had to whip up our own supplemental list. We think you should never, EVER:

  • Let Pleo know where you keep the cash
  • Taunt happy fun Pleo
  • Let Pleo have more than two drinks
  • Divulge to Pleo Bush's famous secret family recipe for baked beans
  • Pretend that Pleo will love you back
  • Feed Pleo after midnight; get it wet
  • Attempt to housetrain Pleo by rubbing its nose in own e-xcrement
  • Call the cops, man, Pleo just needs a place to crash for the night
  • Punch Pleo, especially in the gut -- Pleo knows where you live
  • Let Pleo continuously check in and out of rehab
  • Remove skin, for this is the stuff of nightmares
  • Have Pleo spayed or neutered; Despite Bob Barker's incessant recommendations this will not stop the impending robot revolution

Leave your own below. Fear Pleo.
Article Link (Engadget)

America's vulnerable economy

Signs suggest that the economy could stall in this quarter. By early next year, output and jobs could be shrinking. The main cause is the imploding housing market. Experts said that house prices could never fall nationwide. But fall they have, by 5% in the past 12 months. Residential investment has collapsed, but a glut of unsold homes means that prices have much further to drop. Americans' spending is likely to be dented much more by a fall in house prices than it was in 2001 by the stockmarket's collapse. With house prices lower and credit conditions tighter as a result of the subprime crisis, households can no longer borrow against capital gains to support their spending.

Dearer oil is set to squeeze households further (this week's drop in crude prices notwithstanding). Consumer confidence has already fallen sharply. It cannot be long before consumer spending stumbles, which in turn would hurt companies' profits and investment. The weak dollar will boost exports, but at only 12% of GDP, exports are too small to make up for a weakening of consumer spending, which accounts for 70%.

America's importance as an engine of global growth has been
exaggerated. Since 2000 its share of world imports has dropped from 19%
to 14%. Its vast current-account deficit has started to shrink, meaning
that America is no longer pulling along the rest of the world.

Article Link (Economist)