Current Events

Long Live the Aibo!

aibo.jpg We are sad to hear news that Sony, in a cost-cutting measure, is shuttering the robotics division famous for the production of the Aibo robotic dog. They were a little pricey at $2,000 a pop but they were really sophisticated and quite ahead of their time. Sony provided a SDK which could be used to program emotions and face recognition software allowed the dog to respond to it’s owners.

We also will never get the chance to see 60 Aibo dogs dancing in unison to the Bee Gees. (6.6MB wmv file)


Tyler hacks the pebble system

Tyler’s onto us. Izumi set up a little system with the kids to reward them for good behavior. The way it worked is that we had a jar of glass beads. Whenever they did something that we wanted to encourage, like make their bed without our asking them, clean up their room, or otherwise help out around the house, we’d reward them a pebble or two. Wnen we started, we made a little ceremony of it each night and would hand them the pebbles explaining what each one was for and clearly linking the deed to the payout which they would keep in their own little plastic cup. At the end of the week, we would exchange a pebble for 10 cents and they could then use the money to buy something for themselves.

Over time, there was less and less to reward them because they were regularly making their beds and clearning the table. Sometimes we would take pebbles away if they did something bad but usually nothing especially good happend so days went by without any pebbles.

This morning, Tyler told me he’s figured out a way to get the pebble supply flowing again. He spelled it out to me in plain logic as a grifter would explain his latest scam.

If I’m good all the time, you don’t really notice when I’m good. If I make my bed everyday, you stop giving me pebbles for making my bed. What I should do is stop making my bed for a few days, then make my bed again. Then you notice and you’ll give me pebbles!


The San Francisco way to build community


One of the things you don’t want to do when you’re trying to start a community is create a barrier to entry for potential members. The key to the survival of a community is a rich and diverse membership. One example of this is the San Francisco Motorcycle Club which has evolved and morphed through the years with only one central thread, an interest and passion for two-wheeled motorized transport. But even more than that, they have a very low-key message to potential members poking around on their website (which is endearingly 1990s-esque). This invitation just the right tone. From their website FAQs:

The San Francisco Motorcycle Club is, paradoxically, made up of people who aren’t club-types. Club-types gravitate toward associations because all they’re interested in is the posing. A club doesn’t provide them with instant gratification. Our clubhouse is kept up and filled by people who enjoy motorcycles, and since you seem inclined that way yourself, you’re likely to meet people at the clubhouse who share your interests. Stop by on a Thursday evening or for a club ride and check us out. Do not be deterred by the application process, just stop by and hang out a while. The clubhouse’s walls are covered with 99 years worth of framed photographs, banners, awards, trophies and documents. It’s a veritable museum to San Francisco motorcycling, it’s free to drop in, and you should.

You can learn more about the club and listen to a podcast of it’s history at Sparkletack.