More robo-geekie-ism

dont_cross_the_streamsSpent the day following some of the FIRST Regional competitions online again. The Toronto Regional was fun to watch because I know so many of the teams. But in typical internet fashion, after the lunch break, the feed went to crap.

It started out with a good feed, the video was clear as can be expected, but you could tell it was a token effort by One camera angle that never changed and the audio went on and off like they just cranked up a noise gate. Nothing kills the excitement of a robotics match like silence whenever the announcer isn’t talking.

(I read a posting on Chief Delphi, an unofficial FIRST robotics forum, that the TV crews had been cut back drastically due to economic cutbacks. They were probably lucky to get them there at all. Many of the regional video coverage isn’t done professionally at all, just put up on ustream or Stickam.)

But once they got into the final rounds, the connection got really spotty. The video was so bad you couldn’t see anything in the score area and the robots were blurry. That is when you got it at all. I switched to the Palmetto Regional for a while just because it was watchable. They were being fed out of Clemson Univ. and the quality was better. They had the same woman announcer as we had at Philadelphia. Continue Reading…

Robotic overload

I spent the day as I probably will spend much of tomorrow, watching several FIRST Robotics competitions online. As you may or may not know, I am a Mentor, or advisor, to our local High School’s robotics team, The Warlocks. We have been part of the program since 2005 and before that were half of a joint, two-school team.7a26762ecb4831364b5189d4e2b978c1_l

Take a stupid toy that I might buy to play with a puppy, and make it the center of a game that 1800 high school teams are set to play. What happens? Well, the entire stock of the toy instantly disappeared. The only outlet, Wal-Mart sold out in days and the manufacturer, importer, actually, had no plans to have more made. But, FIRST must have procured enough in advance to ensure the tournaments would go on. Continue Reading…

The only thing weirder than Americans…

The only thing weirder than Americans is how the rest of the world perceives us.

Spain Fallas

Two stories from Germany’s Der Speigel online illustrate this. Both have a really weird way of paying tribute to Barack Obama. Above, in an article about traditional “falla” sculptures in Valencia Spain, they show Obama as a bride, being courted by other world leaders.

Mmmm... Obama Fingers!

The other one is a story about a totally politically-incorrect product that actually came out in Germany – Obama Fingers. Read about it here.

Technically, it’s support…

Tech Support. Technically, it’s support, but in reality, it’s not much help. In fact, I think it’s just the opposite. I think they try to discourage you from getting any resolution to what they assume is a perceived problem. Heaven can help you if your problem is real.

My DSL modem is sick. It’s getting old. I’ve had it since 2001. The only time it gets a break is when the power goes out. It’s a Westell, which meant nothing to me when I got it and means little more now. A beige piece of plastic with some blinky lights on it that sits on a desk near a computer and winks at us non-stop. The case is discolored in the middle, both bottom and top by it’s own self-generated heat. I picked it up the other day and it rattles. Should it rattle? I don’t think so. Continue Reading…

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