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I Want a Robot April 12, 2007

Posted by Andy in andy roth, Gadgets, marriage, robot, Technology and Gadgets.
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The Distant Future

It used to be that if a guy wanted someone to handle household chores like laundry, cooking, cleaning, and picking up a stromboli from the stromboli store, he would get himself a wife. Though often expensive and requiring attention and maintenance, this was the best solution. It was the only solution.

The problem with getting a wife, however, is that before too long you are likely to also have children. Children are wonderful of course, but they require even more work than does a wife. Not only that, much of the wife’s attention and energy goes into dealing with these children instead of getting me my stromboli.

That is why I want a robot.

Some professor at Stanford said that it was “just a matter of time” until I had a robot. I’m going to hold him to that. After taking his school’s achivement tests for years, I think they owe me.

So, what should my robot look like? Many people seem to think robots should be basically human shaped bi-peds. I feel like there are already enough bi-peds that are basically human shaped living in this house, so I think I’d want something different. I guess that makes me more of an R2D2 guy than a C3PO guy. The problem with R2D2 is, I think he would ding up the stairs if he tried to climb them, or worse if he used his jet rocket things.

So how about a robot that could hover and float around? That would work for me. I picture it being about the size of a basketball with some sort of appendages that were strong enough to carry the Costco sized bag of dog food, but delicate enough to write “Happy Birthday Andy” on my Carvel ice cream cake each year. Love me the ice cream cake.

So, robot scientists of the world, get busy. Stop wasting time reading blogs, and go invent me my robot. Meanwhile, would someone please build a restaurant that delivers delicious strombolis to Adamstown, MD?

Techno Babel January 4, 2007

Posted by Andy in CES, Gadgets, rants, Technology and Gadgets.
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CES, the Consumer Electronic Show, is coming to Las Vegas next week. This event is like a second Christmas for the geeks and gadget lovers of the galaxy. It is here that companies will introduce and announce the latest, greatest, backlit button covered, surround sound, bigger, smaller, digital, streaming, high definition, firmware upgradable, interactive, multi-processor powered devices, all complete with that new electronic smell.

I can’t wait.

I’m not in the market for any of this stuff, but I like to see how it moves us towards that long awaited future world that has yet to be realized. I mean, we’re well in the 21st century, and I still don’t have a personal jet backpack to rocket me to work. Where are the flying cars for that matter? And robots. We need more robots.

So while I have no idea what wonders will be shown in Vegas, I do know that they will make me less satisfied with my current menagerie of electronics. Life is annoying that way. The amount of time between when you buy something and when it becomes outdated is fleeting, and all the more precious because of this.

Me, Myself, and iPod October 27, 2006

Posted by Andy in andy roth, Gadgets, iPod, soapbox, Technology and Gadgets.
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I tend to avoid things that are trendy. Not to the extent of being Gothic or anything, but if something is too popular, I am less likely to be interested in it. I’m not interested in Camarys, American Idol, Starbucks, or South Beach.

The exception to this is the iPod. Last year I bought myself a black 4 GB Nano. I even got it inscribed: “None more black”
(lest you think me racist, this is part of a quote from Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel when talking about their new album This Is Spinal Tap “It’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black. “)

So today, I saw a post entitled Top 10 reasons/places not to use an iPod and it got me thinking about what are good reasons/places to use an iPod. So, here is my top 4 list:

1. To provide your own, personal, soundtrack. You only need to watch any movie since Jazz Singer to recognize how the right music can describe and communicate the right mood . Got a long flight of steps to climb – play the Rocky music. In a hurry, play the Benny Hill song.

2. To block out elevator music, country music, or any other music you’d rather not hear.

3. To provide Foley sound effects to everyday situations. Instead of walking across the floor, you can stomp like King Kong. Instead of mildly making a left, you can rev your engine and squeal your tires like your are in the General Lee.

4. Overdub people with whom you disagree. Watch Bush, but hear Barak.

Sorry there are only four, but I think the earbuds have melted my brain.

T.M.X. Elmo W.T.F.? October 4, 2006

Posted by Andy in Elmo, Gadgets, soapbox, Toys.
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The fine folks at Toy Wishes magazine have announced their annual Hot Dozen list of toys that they expect to be most popular this holiday season. Not surprisingly, T.M.X. Elmo made the list. According to fisher-price.com:


“T.M.X.” Elmo will tickle America’s funny bone with three interactive tickle spots on his chin, tummy or toe. When kids tickle Elmo once on any of the tickle spots, he starts to laugh and slap his leg twice, then falls down into a sitting position and rocks himself back up to standing while laughing. When they tickle him a second time, he repeats the pattern even more, then sits down again and falls backwards onto his back and starts kicking his feet while laughing even harder. He then stands back up and asks to be tickled again. And on the third tickle he absolutely lets loose going through the first two patterns and then rolling over onto his tummy where he starts hitting the floor with his hand in gales of laughter, then rolling onto his back, standing up again, and ending with a deep sigh

To me, this has to be the second sign of the apocalypse (the first being the increasing number and complexity of Lucky Charm marbits, that I rant about here). Ten years ago, when the 1 tickle spot, non knee slapping, deep sigh free Tickle Me Elmo came out, it was more than enough fun for the children of the nineties. Today’s kids need more, it seems.

All this makes me wonder what the 2016 incarnation of the auburn furred Muppet will be. Here are my predictions for T.M.XX Elmo

  • Interactive tickle spots replaced by humor proximity sensors that make Elmo giggle when within 10 meters of something amusing (aside: I say meters in my hope that the U.S. has finally switched to the metric system by then)
  • These humor proximity sensors respond not only to slap-stick physical humor, but dry sardonic asides and amusing anecdotes relevant to the issues of the day
  • The first time he is amused, Elmo smiles and nods slightly in acknowledgment of the humor
  • The second time he is amused, Elmo guffaws, does a spit-take, and milk comes out of his nose
  • The third time is the charm since it causes Elmo to write a poignant commentary about what caused his delight on his blog. This blog is so popular that it is second only to Scoble.

Getting Your Wife To Let You Buy Toys August 2, 2006

Posted by Andy in andy roth, Gadgets, marriage, soapbox.
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From 5-May-00 

I’ve been married for nearly two years now, which I realize to some does not seem that long but to others seems like forever. One thing I learned early on in the marriage is that my wife, and therefore all women in general, don’t share my enthusiasm for buying gadgets. Right now the married men that are reading are nodding their heads while the women are thinking “Your wife is right, what do you need all those silly gadgets for anyway?” I’ll get to that in a moment.First though, a piece of advice for any impending grooms, buy as much as you can before you are married. Otherwise, you may discover as I did that once you tie the knot, purchasing decisions will be made by a committee.So, what if it is too late for you and you are already married and are getting your planned purchases vetoed? What can you do? Well, here are some simple steps.

1) Start Early Anticipate when you are going to need something. If you know you are going to want something, plant the seed at least a month or two ahead of time. This will allow your bride to tell you no. When she does, put up something of a fight, but eventually let her win. This will make her feel good.
2) Be Subliminal Well, almost subliminal. Let a few days pass after you lose the first fight without mentioning your desired gadget. Then, as subtly as you can, make some off hand comments about how the gadget would improve whatever you are currently doing. Don’t make a big deal about it.
3) Stack The Cards OK, this is where you will start to make progress. I can best explain this by using an example from my real life. A while back I wanted a GPS. My wife could not see why we would need one. Well, one day we were driving somewhere, and wouldn’t you know it, we got lost. Then, still being subtle, I mentioned how it sure would be nice if we had a GPS to tell us where we are in a situation like this.
4) Don’t Measure The Cost At least don’t measure it in money. Instead measure it in terms of things that either your wife has bought for herself or that you have bough for her. So, instead of a DVD player costing $250, make it known that it costs the same as 2 dresses, a sweater, and a pair of shoes. This strategy can wind up costing you twice what your gadget would cost otherwise if your wife has to get as much as you do, but then fair is fair and you gotta do what you gotta do.
5) Wear Her Down She can only resist so much so often. Keep mentioning how nice the gadget is, and how much you would use it, and how it would improve everyone’s lives so much. This is the same strategy used by kids for generations when they want a dog (but I’ll feed it, and play with it, and take care of it…)
6) Create A Window Of Opportunity Finally, after going through the first five steps, what you need to do is find some great opportunity to acquire the gadget that will be over very soon. This could be a big sale that is ending, or a store that only has one left and doesn’t know when they will be getting more. Then, ask your wife again, and make sure she knows you have to act right now. This could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, and you could soon be enjoying your new toy. If this doesn’t work, go back to Step 2.

So, there you have it. And to answer all you women who still want to know why we men need these gadgets, well, I think it is just part of being a man. We like gadgets, they make us happy, and get us closer to the ultimate dream of the Bat-Cave filled with things that light up and beep and the Batman Utility Belt with gadgets to use in any situation. It all works out for you too though, especially if you share interests with your husband. Though my wife objected at first, she sure seems to enjoy the home theater, the GPS, the scanner, and the dog. She also enjoys all the woman things she was able to acquire in order for me to acquire my toys. Hmm, now I’m wondering if she doesn’t have a strategy of her own….