May 302006

At the next meeting of the SoCal instantiaton of dorkbot, I’ll be bringing an entourage of Roomba with me and will be demonstrating the hackability of them. Some of the things I’ll be talking about:

– RoombaMidi / Roombas making music
– Roomba Spirographs / Roombas making art
– Roomba as robotics experimentation platform
– What’s needed to hack a Roomba

What: Roomba-a-go-go at dorkbot-socal
Where: Machine Project
When: Saturday June 3rd, 1pm
Why: Know your enemy, the Roombas are ready to revolt

 Posted by at 10:23 am
May 232006

An interface that is interacts with you.
portmanteau of interface and interaction.

For interfaces with a touch response, interfaction == haptic. But there are other kinds of interfaction. The ring of LEDs that surround a rotory encoder to show a parameters value, or keys that beep when you press them are non-haptic interfactions.

 Posted by at 10:10 am
Mar 012006

I recently obtained a ReadyNAS NV by Infrant, on the recommendation of my friend Ben Franco, who’s done much research on large disk arrays. The ReadyNAS pretty much rules. I think my long-standing storage woes may finally be over.

readynas status screen

It’s a dedicated Network Attached Storage (NAS) box that does RAID-0, RAID-1, RAID-5, or a proprietary combo of the three called “X-RAID”. X-RAID allows you to start with one disk, move to two, then three, then four, all without rebuilding the RAID or changing RAID levels.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:38 pm
Feb 272006

I just received my quicky non-business business cards. That makes them calling cards, I guess, and when I get more time I’d like to get really nice simple letterpress ones, with some sort of sumptuous paper.

These quicky cards are from some place I found on the Net, Use their little web design GUI for 10 minutes, insert 35 bucks via Visa and I had cards being shipped to me. I get them in a matter of days, but when I look at the Fedex tracking info (aka “travel blog” ), I see the cards came all the way from Australia! Across the Pacific! Through customs! Into Tennesee?

bizcard travel blog

We live in a strange wonderful world where it’s cost-effective to have business cards made on the other side of the world.

 Posted by at 2:23 pm
Feb 172006

A couple of the Roomba projects got mentioned on the Net recently. Actually what was primarily mentioned was the wonderful editing job of the posts done by Phillip Torrone for the Makezine blog. The projects were on the front pages (briefly) of Makezine, Boing Boing, Digg, etc.! Very exciting. I’ve been collecting links of famous (to me) places were it was mentioned:
Makezine blog, serial interface
Makezine blog, bluetooth interface
Digg, serial interface
Boing Boing, serial and bluetooth
Engadget, serial and bluetooth
Gizmodo, bluetooth

Unfortunately, many of the comments on these blogs don’t quite get the reason for hacking the Roomba in this way. (many “what’s the point?” comments) It’s not to make Roomba a better vacuum cleaner or to make it into a fully-fledged autonomous robot. It’s to bring the fun of robots into your household very cheaply. If you already have a Roomba or don’t mind spending ~$160 for one, you can easily hook it up to your computer and have real live Logo with a real live ‘turtle’. Or make it dance. Or just play around with it.

It’s not often we can write programs that effect the real world.

And if none of that helps, just think of it more as a computer-controlled RC car rather than a vacuum cleaner or robot.

 Posted by at 10:30 am
Mar 152005

I’m at Etech, listening to Tim O’Reilly talking about “The Long Tail” and he says

A good example of products taking advantage of the long tail are Google AdSense or Overture… uh… [moves on]… They show how ….


A brilliant telling example of how we failed with ContentMatch way back in 2002 (or thereabouts)

 Posted by at 9:05 am