Robots & Apple

Raced back from Sioux Falls late last night as my son and I attended a Boy Scout event at the Science Museum where they were hosting a full day course for the Robotics merit badge.  They used the Lego Mindstorms NXT robotic kits.


These things are cool, with a central processing unit called a brick, it has ports to plug in motors, sensors including sound, pressure (to detect collisions), visual (to sense color) and have a simple GUI interface to dragging & dropping commands to control these motors, and peripherals – everything is so configurable down to the sensitivity of the sensors, and a simple USB cord to download your program to the robot.

The day culminated with a robotics competition among all of the boys to see which team of boys could work together to have their robot work its way thru a maze and end up at the designated spot.  I was anxious to get on the road before the expected freezing rain preceding todays blizzard would arrive but as fate would have it, our troop’s boys won their Section to advance to the Finals where they came in a terrific 2nd place despite the winning team having already had an extra hour or two of practice on the very course that was used for the finals – no worries though, it was just for fun – the boys are still a little sore about that (as I would I have been if it were me competing) Smile  They ended just a few seconds short – it was a terrific try – earlier in the day I was thinking our team would get waxed in the prelims as I saw much more experienced teams getting great results early – and then too much late tinkering shot them down.

Apparently even within our own state, I learned there are very competitive LEGO leagues and yearly regional and state competitions across the US.

It really brought back memories of watching Battlebots and Robot Wars with my son so many years ago back when it was on TV


– we were hooked and watched every episode.   We were big “Minion” fans


With all of the crappy, fake reality shows on TV – WHY ISN’T Battlebots ON TV? I guess I am still sore at finding out that American Pickers is so incredibly fake and staged, Storage Wars, Pawn Stars, American Pickers – pretty disillusioned that none of these plausible “reality shows” is even remotely close to reality. I can’t watch these shows now that I found out just how fake they are.   But Battlebots and Robot Wars – they were real. 


In between bouts of snow blowing our driveway in a losing battle today, I spent some time catching up on Techmeme.  I was never an Apply fanboy and still hate those smug Apple TV commercials they used to have but have been watching Apple news for their next thing – their ability to shape the future is not anything I doubt.  So waiting to see their vision of Apple TV has me interested, so today was a bit surprising that it wasn’t a TV they were talking about coming out of Cupertino next, but perhaps a smart watch.  Perhaps being created with a new special bendable glass by Corning called Willow Glass.


A smart watch with Bluetooth built in and tethered to your smart phone allowing you to access the web from your watch, maybe for weather, time (crazy I know), directions from a Siri-interface?, perhaps accessing your calendar, lots of possibilities here but I really liked the ideas that this blogger had.  Former Apple employee and human interface developer Bruze Tognazzini published a blog post earlier this week listing his thoughts on the iWatch, a potential Apple product that made headlines late in 2012.  One of his observations and predictions of the iWatch (that he firmly admits having no inside infromation on, only speculation baed on his knowledge of how Apple thinks and works was this one:

The watch can and should, for most of us, eliminate passcodes altogether on iPhones, and Macs and, if Apple’s smart, PCs: As long as my watch is in range, let me in! That, to me, would be the single-most compelling feature a smartwatch could offer: If the watch did nothing but release me from having to enter my passcode/password 10 to 20 times a day, I would buy it.

Yes – he is right and gets it, what if security for devices and apps could be answered by NFC abilities emanating from a smart watch.  Rather than biometric security options, how about your watch using NFC to communicate with the security of your device (and hopefully apps and sites on that computer) – get that solved, and that solves a huge headache, and that means a huge opportunity

Amid the criticism of Apple as a stock investment is the fact that they have amassed a 137 billion dollar war chest adding an extra 20 billion or so each quarter.  This has brought anger from shareholders and some upcoming fights from the shareholders that Apple needs to start doing a better job of sharing value back to its shareholders and not just simply hoard cash.  But of all places, Jim Cramer of CNBC had an interesting article on this subject making one wonder if Apple does have a grand plan for this huge pile of money – such as buy their own nationwide wireless network, perhaps buy some content providers – buy DIsney?  some interesting ideas in there.

Time to clear the driveway again.


About bradosterloo

.NET Software Developer working for Innovative Systems, LLC in Mitchell, SD
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