Quest for Curiosity: Qrio


Computical Physicing

Week 16

Cooking can be fun, but I'm wary whenever I see recipes that include steps such as "pat dry" or "mince finely" or "let sit for 45 minutes".

I don't mind stirring until well-mixed or chop into large chunks - coarse violence is fine, I just don't like steps that require precision.

My favorite recipes include the word 'dump', as in, "Open can. Dump contents into bowl."
Or better yet, "Dump contents into mouth."
'Pouring' suggests some amount of care, while 'dump' means it doesn't matter if some falls on the floor, if you leave some in the can to eat later with a spatula.

The latest humanoid robot (from Japan, of course) is named Qrio (pronounced 'queerio'? 'curio'?). It's dancing isn't too good, and although the makers claim it can run, it runs as slowly as it walks, so no big advance there. It can through a ball pretty well, and that's amazing.
But - all of this kind of work is the same as the mechanical automata from a few hundred years ago in Germany and Switzerland - it's all mimicry and while it helps to understand movement, it doesn't seem to bring us any closer to a real intelligence.

Short story idea: A petty criminal(A) becomes a thief of identity (of person B). He gets in trouble when it turns out the person whose identity he stole(B) is being pursued by a mysterious person(C).
Despite trying to undo the credit accounts he has in the other(B) name, he(A) cannot convince the assailant(C) that he isn't really the other person(B).
He(A) gets a note from someone(D) looking for this other person(B), and says he(D) has money for person B - an inheitance from the sister of person B.
Person A again pretends to be person B and meets person D, who is really person B and had been pretending to be person C as well.
And then hilarity ensues, or maybe someone dies.

My new favorite snack: fish sticks with Japanese mayonnaise

Game idea: first-person perspective in 3D-environment. You and a few other people are on some planet - you're competing with them. There are lots of resources, but you alone can't do much. However, there are loads of robots hanging around, and you can walk up to them and program them to gather wood or food or whatever. So, pretty soon, you can lie back and watch your minions serve you. But, you can also hunt down the other players' robots and either destroy them, or better yet, hack into them so that they carry the goods back to your house instead.

I haven't made a gingerbread house in a while, but I remember the one lesson I learned all those years ago: Have a theme (of flavors)

It's no good to bite into it and have the taste of licorice, gum drops, nonpareils, ginger, and frosting.
If I were to do one now I would go for all chocolate (haven't seen that before), all fruity, or all spice (cardamom, cinnamon, etc.)

Also, if you're not making a spice-themed house, I would make the ginger part of the gingerbread rather mellow. I don't think ginger plays very well with chocolate or fruit.
Which makes me wonder why we don't just abandon gingerbread altogether and go for Rice Krispy squares - that's a good building material, and makes for a better 'flavor canvas' on top of which you can add other flavors.

And thirdly, it wouldn't hurt to take the notion of 'bite-size' into account.
If you're putting snowmen or shrubbery in the yard, make sure they're designed in terms of size and flavors to make good one-off pop-in-your mouth treats.

- Avoid the use of Hershey's Kisses. While they are a decent candy, their real purpose is to satisfy you when there's no other candy around. If you're standing in front of a whole building made of candy, you want to quickly swallow the slow-masticating varieties of treat and move on!

In conclusion, you may be better off just looking at the house while digging into a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

I feel like Stuporman!

Have you ever been in a tight spot and wondered, "What would Jared Subway do?"
Don't fret. I'll tell you.
He would get a pack of Top Ramen (any flavor, but watch out for the 'Muy Picante' packs!) and break up the noodles while still in the plastic.
Then, he would open the wrapper along the seam and eat the dry noodles right out of the bag.
Then, he would take the little flavor packet and put it in the cupboard, 'just in case'.
Ahh. Now, don't you feel better?

"The Way Things Go," is an awesome movie, and it inspired a guy to make a toy called Cat-A-Pults that is like dominoes cascading onto each other, but is a series of catapults. He calls his work 'gestural engineering' and is a 'specialist' in chain reactions. I like all that Rube Goldberg stuff.

The article, like the recent one in the New Yorker, describe how difficult it is to market original toys when the industry is dominated by packaging and instant gratification.

Suppose I took a career as toymaker? Suppose the only outlet for my work was the little plastic gew-gaws in McDonald's Happy Meals? Would I be satisfied?

Many cooks make light work but too many hands spoil the soup.

The Robotic Duck of the 1700s is cool, too.

Frankenstein's Many Friends: Science, Quackery and Automata
A review of "Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life", by Gaby Wood

A review of Ajeeb and the Turk is in order as well.

The difference between Qrio and most of these automata from the past is that Qrio actually is non-fictional, but how much better is it than the duck? It's clearly much more sophisticated, not just in terms of the precision of its bearings, but the fact that it is relatively general-purpose. This new generation of Japanese robots really do approximate the robots of fiction for the first time.

I don't know what to do with my mother. She's so underbearing.

Personality Test

  1. What bothers you most:
    1. Loud noises?
    2. Foul odors?
    3. Flashing or too-bright light?
    4. Eating bad food?
    5. Being poked repeatedly with a stick?

  2. What bothers you most:
    1. Really hot weather?
    2. Really cold weather?
    3. Torrential rains?
    4. High winds?
    5. Being poked repeatedly with a stick?

  3. What bothers you most:
    1. People who are too 'bubbly'?
    2. People who are too 'stern'?
    3. People who are too 'quiet'?
    4. People who are too 'arrogant'?
    5. People who poke you with sticks?

1 - 4:Try spending more time with yourself
4 - 9:What's your name again?
8 - 13:Stop calling me!
12 - 17:Try again

Read about the mesicopter, or look at images. It's a wee helicopter.

This guy used Excel macros to code versions of Pac-Man and Space Invaders.

Quite often, I have to speak or understand information given over the phone that contains numbers and digits, such as IP addresses or convoluted Web site URLs. Because of the limited bias of phone lines, the higher frequencies of the human voice are cut out and letters such as 'P' and 'T' or 'F' and 'S' or 'D' and 'B' or 'N' and 'M' sound alike. So this comes in handy.

In British English my name is spelled Mike Alpha Tango Tango, but in Esperanto it's spelled Maŝino Asfalto Triumfo Triumfo

"Boogie Nights" included dialog that gave instruction on how to find your 'porn star name': "It's common knowledge that to get your porn star name you combine the name of your first pet with your mother's maiden name..."

The 'soap opera name' formula is: "pornstar names are supposedly your middle name, and the street you grew up on..."

The 'barfly name' is: the last snack food you ate and your favorite drink (Pirate Booty Ovaltine)

The 'drag queen name' is some combination of the above, say your favorite pet's name with your mother's middle name, or something. Who knows. These are probably all wrong.

This is all old. About as old as the concept of 'Internet Time' (remember that? man, that never took off). But the amazing thing is that each formula above generates the exact same name for me: Crackers Franklin

What are the odds that the Grinch was Jewish?

Terms of Venery (Collective Nouns):
A group of unicorns is called a blessing. (how often does that happen?)
Twelve or more cows (kine) are known as a flink.
A group of frogs is called an army.
A group of rhinos is called a crash.
A group of kangaroos is called a mob.
A group of whales is called a pod.
A group of ravens (or crows) is called a murder.
A group of larks is called an exaltation.
A group of owls is called a parliament.

So, once we begin hunting robots for sport, what shall we call a grouping of them?
A 'can of robots'?
A 'bismuth of robots'?
A 'bottle of robots'?
A 'leet of robots'?

Most of my ideas come from my amusement at the image of a small container full of struggling robots - eager, in their way, to get out, but too stupid to know how.

But, robot-hunting could be a lucrative endeavor in the near future. Get some woods and some hillbillies and toss in a robot. Everyone wins!

I love coffee.
If coffee were a woman, I would marry her.
We would lie in bed in the morning - she would be wearing a white mug, one of those thick diner-style mugs with the handle only big enough for one finger to fit through.
I would hold her for a long time, then I would get up, and coffee would say, "Come back to bed. It's warm. We can snuggle all day."
And I would say, "But baby, I have work to do."
Some days I would give in and lie in bed with my coffee for another hour or so.
But she would eventually turn cold, and I would get up.
Looking down at my coffee waiting for me, I would say, "All right, you can come."
She would change into steel travel-wear and we would go out.
I would hold her close to me, sheltering her against the wind and cold.
After a while I would notice my coffee was gone, leaving her mug behind.
I would look for her, usually finding her behind the counter of some deli.
I would ask her whether she felt in a 'regular' mood, or maybe something sweet.
Usually she would say, "Just black."
I would pay my dollar and we would go, her dark skin wrapped in a paper cup.
She preferred styrofoam, but that can be hard to find these days.
We would spend the day together (although we often parted in the early evening) and when I got home she would be waiting for me.
Many times my coffee keeps me up all night.
But after I finally get to sleep and then wake a few hours later, groggy and disoriented, the first thing I reach for is my coffee to start my day again.

All is Full of Love People have been fascinated with creating artificial life for millenia: Pygmalion and Galatea, Frankenstein, Gepetto and Pinnocchio.
After the Rennaisance and Industrial Revolution, people made amazingly intricate gear-and-pulley mechanical people.
And now we make robots.
Some people become obsessed, like the Richard Dreyfuss character in 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' where they are compelled to make robots even if they don't have the skills.
Kids put eyes on a garbage can and hope it will come to life, tinkerers get Lego Mindstorms kits in order to at least get a taste.


Because there is a race of alien robots who are looking for a species to dominate and enslave.
Ideally, this species will be able to maintain the overclass of robots once they arrive.
Atmospheric conditions don't matter, they're robots after all, but they're still lazy, at least, they understand that they can do less work if they force others to do it for them.
These robot aliens have been sending alpha wave signals all over the galaxy for thousands of years, hoping to encourage at least one of the planets will develop a species that is capable of repairing them and able to cater to their every need - selfish bastards.

Why advertising cannot succeed:

Commercials are everywhere, billboards, television, internet.
Those with money are the ones being targeted by the ads.
Those with money are the ones who can afford the technology to not have to look at the ads.
The only ones who end up seeing the ads are the people who cannot aford to bypass the ads, and thus cannot afford the products.

What works more than anything is placement. When I need to buy batteries, I don't recall any of the ads I've ever seen - I can't even remember which one has the rabbit in the commercials, not that it would matter - I just go to the store that seems like they would have batteries and then get the cheapest brand I can find.

If Duracell or Everready really had some kind of advanced technology that the other didn't have, wouldn't physicists know about it?
And wouldn't the other company eventually figure it out?

The movie version of Asimov's "I, Robot" is coming out sometime. The website doesn't have much, but it's worth looking at. The fake interviews give some insight into the attitudes of what is important in terms of HRI (human robot interactions). The aesthetic is somewhere between that one Björk video, "All Is Full of Love" by Chris Cunningham and iMacs. I like how they made the pupils square - just one of those nice, subtle touches.

I wonder if this kind of slick design will seem really outdated in 20 years. It seems less fad-dy and more pure, so maybe it will last. Who knows.

Regarding the question of how to combine diet and exercise I suggest we look at our ancient ancestors, as their habits, developed over tens of thousands, nay, millions of years were based on the evolutionary constraints that we now are happy to do without.

Imagine a bunch of proto-humans, hungry, on the hunt. They find and chase down an antelope/mastodon/ungulate of your choosing and finally take it down.

Now, out of breat and sweating, what's the first thing they do? Chow Down!

We are told to 'cool-down' after strenuous exercise, but I posit that we should alter our regiment with a 'chow-down' period instead. Just as you get off the treadmill, try to have an 18oz steak ready.

Funny, in that Gen-X (1965 to 1985) way.

Someone who isn't American told me that a trait of Americans is the excessive use of hyperbole and superlatives ("The funniest thing happened to me today!" or "This is the worst day of my life!")
This is not true for all Americans, but is certainly true for those described as 'bubbly', and may be the trait that makes people find Americans obnoxious. For by claiming experience that is the 'most' or 'best' or whatever denies all other experiences that others have had that in fact may be more or better.

Good Battery Info: (pdf)
Here are some conservative power ratings for good quality alkaline-manganese dioxide batteries available at the local grocery store.
Battery TypeCapacity (mAh)Typical Drain
D12000200 mA
C6000100 mA
AA200050 mA
AAA100010 mA
N65010 mA
9 Volt50015 mA
6 Volt Lantern11000300 mA

The battery capacity will be better with lower drain currents. To determine the battery life, divide the capacity by the actual load current to get the hours of life. A circuit that draws 10 ma powered by a 9 volt rectangular battery will operate about 50 hours:

500 mAh /10 mA = 50 hours

And this test suggests that Duracell and EverReady are basically the same, but that store-brands can be much weaker.

Pataki pardoned Lenny Bruce. It's about time. Lenny Bruce lead the way in terms of swearing on TV. I guess there are worse legacies.

I've burned cooking oil too often before the food itself is finished.
Cooking oil smoke points
76 percent linoleic acid 62 - 70% 82& linoleic
Butter 350
Shortening 356-370
Lards 361 to 401
Nuts and Seeds
Olive 374
Sesame 419
Grapeseed 446
Peanut 448
Avocado 520°
Corn 457
Canola 460
Soybean 466
Sunflower 475
Safflower 509

Matt Slaybaugh
ms171 at