Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Robots in Webcomics: Kiwi Blitz

Alright, so I found this new comic through Scott Kurtz's PVPonline. It's a project by their intern Mary Cagle called Kiwi Blitz.

For the last few days I have been contemplating reworking the website to perhaps remove And I'll Form the Head and create a webcomic review section. This comic might be the motivation I need! Well, atleast to make a new section specifically for comic critique.

Based on my first impression of the comic, which is a generally quick once over of the last few pages, the comic has the appeal of a Pokemon episode. The art is stylistic but simplistic, and the dialogue is whimsically technological and charming.

"Activating... lower... view window things..." Cagle allows us to suspend our belief and think that "window things" are scientifically founded in a comic environment where riding around in a robot kiwi bird is practical.

I'm gonna go ahead and give the comic kudos. It's gonna go places (in a robot kiwi).

Monday, November 23, 2009

R.O.B. Up In This Brawl

Sure, Super Smash Bros. Brawl is an older game now, but it still has great replay value!

Recently, I've been playing a lot of this game and more times than not our arch-nemesis in the apartment, Dave, plays R.O.B. While most of his strongest attacks are close range, he's got an unusual array of offensive projectiles that make him a versatile foe. 

What's the point of this blog post? I love me some Super Smash Bros. and R.O.B. is a fighting robot. Give me a break! I'm too busy smashing people to write anything too thought provoking. Pick yourself up a Wii and this game and you'll see what I mean. Way too addicting for its own good.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Robots Need Love Too, With Proper Legal Representation

I want to thank Rich for finding this article, and I want to thank Hurray for Mollywood! for the perfect image.

Lets skip to the most interesting part of this article, when Anna Russel, author of the article "Blurring the love lines", warns that when robots are smart enough, they will want the same legal rights that humans have,
“While this humanoid is a giant leap forward technologically, if a self-aware, super-intelligent, thinking, feeling humanoid is developed, the legal system will be hard-pressed to distinguish this creature legally from human actors on grounds not stemming from a religious or moral prejudice.”
One of the biggest legal battles which might arise, according to Russel? Sexual rights. People can't decide what is morally correct now just between human beings, how much more complicated will the laws be when robots are thrown in the mix, especially when the robots will be able to voice their own opinions.

The article was thought provoking, but I'm not sure if we will be able to create a fully conscious robot. And if we can, will we be able to program it to feel emotions, such as love and animosity? If you want more information about this dilemma check out the science fiction soon to be turning documentary Bicentennial Man

I'm still giving kudos to Anna Russel for her foresight. She's just trying to avoid the Matrix becoming reality (because we all know the robots will win if we ever war with them).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A GPS That Yells Back? Robot Interacts With Your Driving

Researchers at MIT are working on a robot that interacts with your driving, not only working as GPS but also giving gentle reminders to drive safely. The idea is that Aida, "Affective Intelligent Driving Agent", is supposed to encourage good behaviors.

What about people who drive while using a cellphone, or eat on their way to work? Aida should also be taught to smack the hell out of the vehicle's passenger like a stern parent. Now that would be revolutionary.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Robot Gaming: Build a Robot 3

Even though I haven't played the first two games, I don't think I've missed anything by skipping directly to this third installment. Also, I didn't need any prior experience building robots, it's easy to learn; drag and drop the pieces, and then click on the pieces to move them around the screen and adjust the dimensions and colors of every single item.

At first it's amusing, then it gets monotonous. Even though I'm talking about the gameplay, I'm also talking about the grating music, even though if you let it run for long enough, it plays "Still Alive" from Portal. That would be a redeeming quality if it wasn't blatantly trying to rip off Valve.

The game is MS Paint, with less features, packaged as Build A Robot 3. It would be a fun game to play with the young ones, but anybody else will probably get bored in fifteen minutes, more or less.  

Monday, November 16, 2009

Geeks Amongst the Meek Now Live!

Geeks Amongst the Meek will be the new main hub for all of my geeky rants and raves. Expect the Manventures to continue over there too, alongside other content that I have planned to add as the new blog grows, such as interviews, projects, and general mischief.

I'll be exporting some of the old content from this blog to the new one, and will continue posting on And I'll Form the Head for anything still relevant to giant fighting robots. You know how it goes.

Peace! Check out the new blogs.

Furby Link Round Up? Why Not.

I thought it would be fun to check out one of the more prominent fads of the late 1990s, the Furby. According to Wiki, and common knowledge, the Furby was one of the first attempts to sell domestic robots. Pretty fascinating, even though they got old really fast.

The people at Phobe got some replay value out of their Furby by performing an autopsy on one. It's disturbing and morbidly amusing, like the Adams Family.

Even though this website doesn't update anymore, there had been research into how to hack the Furby. Some of it is pretty complicated, but this video shows some of the potential behind the manipulation of a Furby.

Another video shows how a group of Furbies were transformed into a hurdy gurdy. This video out of all the others is the most unsettling for me.

Finally, a website documenting and analyzing Furbish, the language of Furbies. Might seem mundane and impractical but someone had to do it!

Oh, and thanks Fortress of Steveitude for the picture. Pretty nice duds!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Farewell My New Robot Friends [By Becca]

Unfortunately my time here as come to an end and I have to return to my regular blog.

I learned a lot about myself in writing about robots; I laughed, I reminisced, I probably even cried at one point.  Thanks for letting me take over Tony!

Oh, and those Pac-man robots are so cool! I wonder if I could get one to chase my nephews around the house and tell them the robot is going to gnaw off their legs if they don't move fast enough?

Pacman Roombas: Some More Info

The other day I posted a link to the cnet article about the Roomba vacuums programmed to simulate the Pacman video game.

If you want more information, head to the projects main website (why I didn't think of this before is beyond me). There's pictures, complicated computer mumbo jumbo, and more links and videos to help get your nerd on. Also, what I was most excited about, was that there was contact information for each programmer listed on this website.

So expect some questions via email, Jack Elston!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Water on the Moon!

Living on the moon might be a possibility again. Eleven hours ago, NASA revealed that they had kicked up a substantial amount of water in their recent probe of the moon's surface.

From the Associated Press, "Having definitive evidence that there is substantial water is a significant step forward in making the moon an interesting place to go," said George Washington University space policy scholar John Logsdon."

Think of the possibilities. A colony off of Earth will be a big step in the right direction of having a Jetsons like future. Lets make it happen people.

Also, I was wondering if the moon will ever be given a proper name? Other planets have named moons, but we just refer to ours as "The Moon". How lame is that? I want some suggestions, damnit. I'm thinking Unicron. He's the size of a moon already!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Different Kind of Manventure [By Becca]

I had the best of intentions in going on a wild and crazy Becca-style Manventure this week but due to unforeseen circumstances and straight up awful planning on my part, I unfortunately won't have time for such shenanigans.

But fear not loyal readers, I will dig through my mental vault and share with you an old-school, Manventurish tale:

This past July, my friend, AllOneWord and I went to a baby shower.  For those of you lucky enough to never have suffered through a baby shower, they are hell but in shades of pastel and with cake.

From the get-go, the day was bound to be a disaster.  We stopped at the Dunkin' Donuts drive-through where AllOneWord somehow misjudged the distance between the drive-through window and her window.

She smashed her iced coffee against the roof of the car and screamed, "Oh My God! I can't do this!" Being the supportive friend I am, I broke down in a giggle fit complete with tears, as did the girl working the drive- through.

Our pregnant buddy neglected to put a street address on the invitation so we spent most of the afternoon driving around Troy, guessing where the Elks Club was.  As it turns out, my GPS Seamus (named by AllOneWord for the disembodied navigator's Irish accent) is only useful if you know where you're supposed to end up.

Poor Seamus. He's not really a lying, sleazy ho though AllOneWord and I called him much worse as he lead us everywhere but the Elks Club.

While making haphazard guesses as to where the Elks Club was, AllOneWord noticed a huge spider on the inside of her windshield. After a brief stream of curses, she whipped off her flip-flop and smashed the spider.

There was a window of time where I pictured us veering off the road and to a fiery death because of the damn spider, but AllOneWord didn't so much as swerve as she savagely murdered the vicious, eight-legged beast.

Somehow, we found the Elks Club and stumbled into the baby shower an hour late.  Our glowing, knocked-up friend had saved two seats for us at the head table, which is always right where you want to be when you show up late.

Droid: Crazy Awesome Phone or Mechanical Menace?

While getting my daily dose of CNN, I was interrupted by one of those nasty little intruding advertisements that websites like to use to infuriate their fan base. However, this one caught my eye with the catchline "Droid has arrived", and meteor like cellphones plummeted through the atmosphere with catastrophic results on impact. Then, a red eye, similar to Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey, appeared and further enticed a robot nerd like myself to actually click on the advertisement.

That in itself warrants respect.

What kind of angle were the Google, Verizon Wireless, and Motorola companies trying to exploit though? Robots can be really scary, buy it or else? While I think the marketing is clever and a great homage to the spooky robot genre, I can see the regular consumer being intimidated by this commercial campaign.

Look at this advertisement for instance

Seriously, who's the target demographic for this? Cylons?

It's basically a big "fuck you" to Iphone users. I guess the pitch is that the Droid is the bully of the phone market, that they want to be abrasive just for the sake of it.

In short, the Droid wasn't hugged enough when it was a child and now it's taking it's aggression out constructively, but menacingly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Fighting" Robots [By Becca]

So, um, it looks pretty awkward when Rock Em Sock Em Robots do more than just punch each other in the face.

As long as they love each it's ok.

And Now A Word From The Robot Mariachi Band

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lego Factory Ran 24/7 By Robots

Becca has been banned from posting on the blog for posting way too much awesome content. Take your classy robot pins elsewhere.

Speaking of awesome content, I started to read up on the whole Lego robots thing after Becca wrote this link round-up and found some staggering information. The Lego Factory manufactures 19 billion toy pieces every year as it is mainly controlled by robots that keeps the manufacturing process going all year round.

The student robotics contests, it seems, are a means of employing future engineers for the production of more legos! Now it's all starting to make sense.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Robot Pins [By Becca]

I was so enamored by these robot shoes that it sparked my curiosity about what other awesome robot products are available.  I had no idea there was such a large market for robot pins.  I think they'd go nicely with the robot shoes.

Now that I've accessorized the spiffy robot shoes, there's a good chance Tony will change his password and ban me from his blog...but it will be worth it because that's a damn cute robot if ever I've seen one. 

Roundin' Up The Robots [By Becca]

The only thing I ever built with Legos were lopsided houses and huge walls that looked like, well, huge walls made out of Legos.  These kids are infinitely cooler and way smarter than I ever was.

A green robot sounds like an oxymoron to me but here's a robot made out of recycled type-writer parts, and his scared yet ridiculously awesome cat.  The last picture seems to be of a creepy, pedophile robot exposing himself in a futuristic park to other young robots, but I think it's up for interpretation.

"What Dr. Hall is advocating is a future in which we let robots handle whatever load they can, freeing up the rest of us to live more leisurely."
Isn't that why we have child-labor and illegal immigrants? What will become of them, Dr. Hall, you lazy, selfish sleaze?

Sweet. Literally -- they're robot cupcakes with frosting and Twizzlers and marshmallows and pretzels and I'm now starving, damn cupcakes.

I might of gotten a little teary when I saw this. I used to try to steal my older brother's My Pal 2 on a regular basis but it's hard to hide a talking, barking robot when you're a foot and a half tall.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Robotic Introduction [By Becca]

Hey, I'm Becca and I'll be taking over Tony's blog this week. I have to confess robots and technology are not usually my thing, but this week I will be all about them, so be patient with me as I delve into Tony's world! 

My usual blog is about my job as a waitress and waitressing can feel pretty robotic at times; I'm conditioned to say "Hi! How are you?" when I hear a door open, for example.  And adding some sick robots to my restaurant, or even just a robotic third arm, would make my job a whole lot easier.

I'm excited to increase my robot knowledge and I hope to do justice to Tony's awesome blog!

Leaving On A Jetpack

I'm going to fight alien invaders for the rest of the week over at Dana C.'s blog Mundane Mischief.

Becca F., mastermind behind Waiting on Wisdom, will take the reigns for the rest of the week as second in command. Wish her luck! (She needs it).

A Questionnaire for Joss Whedon

After Tuesday's tantalizing news break, I became more interested in Joss Whedon's involvement with the auction of the Terminator Franchise.

I figured I'd try to reach him with a few questions regarding the subject. Even if this message never crosses his sight, it's always fun to speculate how he would answer! So here we go:

1. Assume that you bought Terminator for $10,000. Would you put the extra $59,990,000 the auction estimates to sell the franchise for to good use in production of more Terminator films? Or would you save the extra dough?

2. Let's say you didn't spend the $59,990,000 on Terminator. How would you spend it? I'd live like Bruce Wayne (even though if Bruce Wayne woke up one day and found he only had $60 million left he'd probably kill himself and every criminal in Gotham.)

3. Would you go television series or film first? Or were you thinking of any other alternative mediums? A Terminator table-top game would be bad ass.

4. Would you try to get Arnold involved again? Who do you think would make awesome replacements? Gerard Butler for T-600 or bust!

5. You said you'd also take the Batman franchise for $10,000 as well. What do you do if you got your hands on that hot ticket?

6. You can buy any series for $10,000. Which would you buy? Which wouldn't you touch with a ten foot pole?

7.Not related, but certainly important, if you had a robot that transformed into anything, what would it be? I'd want  a  robot polar bear, because when you're face to face with a polar bear you know you're boned. If it transforms into a crazy fighting robot in front of you, you know you're double boned.

I think these questions are appropriate! I'm hoping for the best.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Airplanes Should Blow Your Mind On A Daily Basis

A long, long time ago I wrote about how people will constantly be marveled by the advances of technology. This sentiment was reaffirmed by a little old lady that I see every day when I walk to class.

She stopped me one day and pointed at the sky, "You see that?" She was looking at an airplane overhead with astonishment.

"Airplanes are pretty cool, aren't they." I said and smiled politely before telling her to have a good day. That moment was just interesting to look back on, because I know one day I'm going to stare at a teleportation machine or something and say "Isn't that the most incredible thing you've ever seen?"

The person I'm talking to might be a smart ass, though. "Who hasn't seen a teleportation machine?" He'll goof to his friends after I had left, "Guy probably drives his car like Barney Rubble, too." They probably won't make that comment because they'll have forgotten who Barney even was. Sad.

Friday, November 6, 2009

F.A.Q. Numero Uno

Someone asked me, "What was the first movie about robots that made me so interested in the subject?"

I answered, "The Brave Little Toaster. Even though he wasn't a robot, he was a little piece of technology that really made an impact on my childhood. He taught me how to be brave, damnit! He couldn't teach me how to be a toaster, so I'll go halfway and say he did an alright job with the whole being brave thing. And nobody wants to be little, unless you're Vern Troyer, then you've got the market for being little by the sack."

"That's offensive!" That someone responded.

"Dude, that guy is making bank. Sometimes I wish I were a foot tall so I can star in the next Willy Wonka film" The person walked away, and I felt bad. Now I think that my F.A.Q. will only be one question long. If you're reading this, frequent asker, and I think you might, I want to say I'm sorry! Ask me more questions that won't insult people. What's my favorite icecream flavor? Chocolate. It's so tasty.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Joss Whedon Makes a Serious Bid for Terminator Franchise

And his serious bid was $10,000. No joke.

Even though Joss Whedon, creator of the Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse series, isn't offering a substantial amount of dough, (the auction, according to CNN, is supposed to accumulate around $60 million) Whedon promised that his direction would rejuvenate the series.

In his bid he hinted at some changes he'd like to make based off of his opinion of the Terminator Salvation film, "Christian Bale's John Connor will get a throat lozenge. This will also help his Batwork (ten grand for that franchise too, btw.)"

My take on this jab at the Terminator franchise auction?

1) Whedon needs to back the hell up from the fragile beauty that is the new Batman films. If Bale's contract is terminated (harhar) then what stops director Chris Nolan from up and leaving (besides millions of dollars)? There is the slight possibility that we'd have to deal with Joel Schumacher again. Dear lord, no.

2) Even though his auction was in jest, I think Whedon has some real interest in acquiring the Terminator franchise. Sure he probably won't put up sixty big ones to outright own it, but that ain't stopping him from directing a couple of films, or more interestingly a television series?

Now let's assume that Whedon was able to buy Terminator for $10,000. Do you think he'd do the franchise justice? My bet is that there would be some real sexual tension between the T-600 football jock and the 25-year-old going on 18-year-old high school bombshell. It's time to buy me a TiVo!

What I Hate About Human Contact (As Opposed to Robot Contact)

"We meet again." The hypothetical hippie was sitting on my porch, waiting for me to get out of class.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Get So Many Random Spontaneous Questions That I Sometimes Burst Into Flames

Some hippie asked me today, "What are your five favorite animals?"

Without hesitation, I answered "Sabertooth Tiger, T-Rex, Triceratops, Mastodon, and Pterodactyl."

The hippie responded, "Those aren't animals! Those are dinosaurs."

"Sorry that my answer doesn't make creationists cream their pants", I responded to the hippie's objection, "but I do have a certain affection towards the platypi." 

"Did you know that they have an awesome traveling  robotic animal zoo which features a robotic platypus?" the hippie inquired.

"No, I didn't!" I enthusiastically exclaimed, "But how did you know I like robots?"

The hippie shrugged, "I'm a writing device, you see. I can be used to better assimilate homework assignments into your blog posts."

"Well, thanks I guess. I'll see you when I see you!" And with that, the hippie tipped her straw hat and flew off into the sun.

Holy moley am I sleep deprived.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Robot Halloween Costume Round Up, Yall!

I know Halloween's over, but if I got to suffer Christmas already then you can deal with some awesome costumes a couple of days after the holiday!

1. Look at this guy's gams over at oobject. I wonder how he was able to move with all that extra height (stilettos are still out of my grasp of comprehension.)

2. Another impressive model that probably took years to manufacture. Thanks Dave Moodle Dad!

3. Skullheadonpants at Deviant Art made a Gir costume for his eight year old. Don't know who Gir is? The eight year old probably didn't either. Educate yourselves.

4. There are probably a million costumes of transformers on Youtube.

5. To end, Jew-ish proves that all you need is love (and a pop to the chin once in a while).

Here's to Halloween, the least lame holiday of the year!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mini-Manventure: Salem On My Mind

I was planning on weaving an epic tale through this post filled to the brim with my wacky adventures accompanied with photographs. But the camera never charged so there are no pictures. Instead, I will give you sample of a Salem, Massachusetts Halloween.