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Bob The Builder Gets A Personality Transplant 245

McCarrum writes "Here at 'undisclosed company,' there's been a push to bring a mascot into our IT team. After much discussion and many excellent ideas, the PHB made the executive decision on Bob the Builder. Enter one Bob the Builder talking doll. Talking?! By Crom, that means a chipset! (cue evil laugh) A quick bit of exploratory surgery and a little research later, we purchased the equipment to create EVIL BOB. Want to make your own EVIL BOB? Click the clicky clicky thing!"
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Bob The Builder Gets A Personality Transplant

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  • by Kaz Riprock ( 590115 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:07AM (#6624097)

    And the geocities site linked to slashdot has hit its data transfer cap...who didn't see that coming? Show of hands? Okay, you all can leave now.
    • by localghost ( 659616 ) <dleblanc@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:10AM (#6624111)
      This is their secret plan to get more slashdot subscribers. Post a bunch of geocities crap, so that anyone who wants to read it has to buy a subscription and get to it before it's posted. Of course, this plan will inevitably fail, since nobody actually bothers to RTFA.
    • Is this the slashdot effect in reverse? Arguably plenty of bandwidth but withholding the content? It's been ./'d!!!
    • by akadruid ( 606405 ) * <slashdot@thedrui ... k minus language> on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:17AM (#6624133) Homepage
      DAMN DAMN DAMN I'm a subscriber, so I read the while, stupidly failed to copy it, surfed away and lost it to the geocites cap.

      Basically the jist of the story is, the PHB installs this stuffed, talking, toy. They experiment on it, discover voice box to be un-moddable, and buy a replacement one, using their experience with the voice unit of their diesel generator(?), then program and insert said unit. Site includes more details, and cute pictures of toy, including toy with extracted entrails.
    • Actually, I'm surprised that /. didn't take down the ENTIRE Geocities server. :-D
    • hehe, 1 post? I was saying OMG as I hovered over the link. you can ./ Geocities with 1 person :)

      Actually, that was my first reaction. My 2nd was that its been 10 years since Ihave been there, and it IS a professionally owned site. Perhaps it can withstand the /. these days.

      Who was I kidding?
    • by FatAlb3rt ( 533682 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:54AM (#6624241) Homepage
      go ahead and load up the page on the sound chip [aplusinc.com.tw] and bathe in the bgsound midi splendor that is jingle bells, banjo style (http://www.aplusinc.com.tw/reason.mid [aplusinc.com.tw]).

      it's too early for this...

  • He probably should've hosted it at 'undisclosed company'.com but I guees it would'nt be so 'undisclosed'
  • by Memetic ( 306131 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:13AM (#6624119) Homepage Journal
    Shame the site is down the video of the demo where Bob passed the Turing Test was really impressive.
  • Preview! (Score:4, Funny)

    by jrockway ( 229604 ) * <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:13AM (#6624120) Homepage Journal
    This is what you get for previewing your submitions -- all that testing your link maxes out the bandwidth cap for the site! See why there are so many bad links/dupes on slahdot? It's because the editors don't want to kill the sites fore everyone :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:15AM (#6624121)
    ...since not even paying subscribers had the time to read the content on that Geocities cite and we'll forget all about this before it becomes available again...does that mean that we all can post without reading the article, guessing and writing IANAL and IANAEB (I Am Not An Evil Bob) posts?

    I don't think anyone will notice the difference :-)
  • by the bluebrain ( 443451 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:15AM (#6624124)
    The clicky clicky thing is bwoken!

    A Geocities site slashdotted. Well I never.
  • Mirror (Score:5, Informative)

    by fishmonkey ( 301785 ) * on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:15AM (#6624125) Journal

  • Hrmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:16AM (#6624126) Homepage
    "Bob the IT support guy!"

    "Bob the IT support guy!"

    "can he fix it?!?"

    "No he can't, because that's not his department, it's a software issue and it was raised with management over a month ago"

  • Mirror (with link) (Score:5, Informative)

    by fishmonkey ( 301785 ) * on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:17AM (#6624135) Journal
    Mirror [iinet.net.au]
  • Bob the builder? As a IT mascot? I'm dumbfuzzled... we are talking of the animated doll who are routinly seen talking to his concrete-mixer, arn't we? Not an obvious choise for a IT-department I feel (even thought his motto of "Can we fix it? Yes, we can" seems appropriate).

    Well, the PHB made the executive decision; I guess the blame for Evil Bob resides with him. Still, I feel that maybe Will E. Coyote would be a better pick - can anyone come up with more suggestions?

  • Oh, I so did not expect that to be offline when I saw it was on geocities. I thought it was 1999 where Geocities is not owned by Yahoo and they don't know what bandwidth throttling is. Oh wait, it's 2003, DANG!
  • by FTL ( 112112 ) <slashdot@neil.f r a s er.name> on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:29AM (#6624169) Homepage
    "Yes we can!"


  • by Rob from RPI ( 4309 ) <xrobau@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:30AM (#6624173) Homepage
    Bob the Builder, can we hack him? YES WE CAN! The marvellous transformation of Bob the Builder

    Bob the Builder. A lot of people know him, he is an all round Mr. Fix-it handyman sort of chap. He is the subject of a TV show and videos along with much merchandising. Worshipped by a lot of children gave him confidence, possibly buoyed by these successes he ventured into fresh territory. Hostile territory. Where forces lurked beyond his fixing, forces that warped him into a twisted copy of his former self, made him into something that could change between his former chirpy self and something that looked the same but spoke in many voices most of which are not nice. Here is the tale of how this came to pass.

    As a morale boosting exercise, Bob the Builder was brought into our office. The idea being that if someone was having a bad day then Bob could help them through it. The model we received has a story book with it and you can read along with Bob by pressing the numbered patches on his body. Bob's voice is bright and chirpy and, above all, all so British. About five minutes after having Bob quite a few people started muttering about making Bob say something else, this just goes to show the danger of lobbing an electronic toy in amongst a mob IS Professionals - the desire to hack things became strong.

    So off to google we went to see if anyone else had managed to do the job already. After a bit of a search around we found no hits on hacking a Bob the Builder toy, someone had hacked a talking fish but that was not what we were after. After failing to find anything on Google we did a bit of exploratory surgery by unpicking the stitching. Pulling out the electronic voice box revealed a bit of a setback, the electronics that controlled the voice were sealed under a blob of black epoxy. Evidently, there was no simple way to modify the existing hardware to bend it to our will. Another method needed to be found.

    As it happened, not long before Bob turned up we had been digging into our diesel generator voice notification machine with the view to reprogramming it. The voice recorder part of the machine was the APR9600 [aplusinc.com.tw] made by APlus Inc [aplusinc.com.tw]. This chip can provide up to eight short messages, is programmable on the fly and does not need any MPU to perform these functions. In short, the chip was an ideal fit for what we wanted to do. By paralleling the existing switch points used to trigger the original speech segments and switching the speaker outputs between the original chip and the new one we could give Bob a whole new personality but, more importantly, we could keep the original Bob intact which is something we needed to do. We had a plan...

    Sourcing the APR9600 was surprisingly difficult but we managed to locate one place that sold them locally which saved us importing one from overseas. We needed a container of some sort to hold the circuitry, given the APR9600 is a 28 pin DIP, an old film canister made a reasonable sized container to provide protection for the circuitry. A piece of veroboard was cut to fit into the canister, the very few passive components required for the operation of the APR9600 fitted fairly easily into the restricted space. The circuit is almost exactly the same as the example given in the applications notes for a eight segment recorder, the only difference is that the input is fed via an external active source (clamped by a couple of paralleled diodes) instead of an electret microphone. The APR9600 is a wonderful device, it handles all the anti-aliasing filtering, AGC, digitisation, storage and playback of the sound samples by itself, the passive components are only there to set the sample rate and the AGC time constant. Once the circuit was built, it was tested on the bench - interestingly enough, the first segment of the APR9600 appears to be factory programmed someone saying some Taiwanese - probably as a factory test. After a short debug the device was fully operational an

  • by maroberts ( 15852 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:32AM (#6624179) Homepage Journal
    No we can't 'cos its on Geocities.

    Looks like Spud was the editor who decided to post a story with a link to Geocities
  • Evil?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dogtanian ( 588974 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @06:41AM (#6624201) Homepage
    Lemme see... the site is Slashdotted and not cached, so I'll take a guess that 'Evil' Bob is going to express dodgy political opinions and make sexist comments at passing women.

    Sounds like a fairly run-of-the-mill builder to me...

    For bonus points, pull Bob's trousers down far enough to expose at least 2" of arse cleavage and give him a copy of 'The Sun' (doesn't work if he's meant to be American though...)
    • Re:Evil?! (Score:2, Funny)

      by BuilderBob ( 661749 )

      For bonus points, pull Bob's trousers down far enough to expose at least 2" of arse cleavage and give him a copy of 'The Sun' (doesn't work if he's meant to be American though...)

      If he was American then he would be Bob the Construction Worker, and he'd be `unionised' with some friendly Sicilians.

      Of course, the job still wouldn't be finished on time and would still have unforseen costs, there'd just be more incentive to pay him.

      It's funny. laugh, I'm an evil computer hacker leering at your children in

  • by khaine ( 260889 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @07:06AM (#6624274)
    Bob didn't need a mod to make him evil, he already was!

    Think about it for a moment... when was the last time that you met a builder who was polite, well spoken, efficient, well dressed (no builder's bum), fixed things quickly, didn't have a copy of The Sun in his back pocket, didn't drink tea and talk football (soccer) constantly, didn't whistle at women constantly, answered the question "Can we fix it?" with anything other that "It'll cost you" and actually wore a hard hat?

    One you take the talking (possessed) site equipment into consideration Bob seems very much like the Anti-Builder!
    • didn't drink tea

      Actually, Bob the Builder does carry around a thermos of tea. It's one of the few carryovers from the British to American version. (They even changed the hedgehogs to "porcupines," even though they're obviously hedgehogs.)
    • Is it just me or do England's builders sound more cultured than the US's? I meen drinking tea on the job and a copy of The Sun in their back pocket? Try a playboy and a case of beer. That way they are too drunk to remember the price they quoted you only 5 minuits ago and can send you a bill for twice as much.
      • do England's builders sound more cultured than the US's? I meen drinking tea on the job and a copy of The Sun in their back pocket? Try a playboy and a case of beer

        Well, the Sun does have boobies, though I'd daresay that the articles in Playboy are much better written and aimed at a more inteligent audience. Seriously. The Sun is the lowest of the low, the paper that slagged off Princess Di for years, until she died and she practically became the papers mascot for a while. Whenever I want to feel angry ab

        • I pick up the Sun. Another fine Robert Maxwell publication

          Ahem. I think you mean Rupert Murdoch (as in "I'm Rupert Murdoch, Billionaire Tyrant" - although kudos for speaking that line himself in The Simpsons). Maxwell used to own rival tabloid the Daily Mirror, until he fell off his yacht and was buried on Mount Sinai.
          • Oops, I always mix them up. Maxwell isn't dead anyway, he had all the resources required to fake his own death. Bribe the local mortition, bury a coffin full of bricks and voilla, you don't have to face criminal charges anymore, while you retreat to your private island bought with the millions you stole.
        • I'd daresay that the articles in Playboy are much better written and aimed at a more inteligent audience.
          What articles?
      • The Sun is more like the National Enquirer with a topless girl on Page 3. It's not even as respectable as Playboy.
    • by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @09:53AM (#6625128)
      when was the last time that you met a builder who [...] didn't have a copy of The Sun in his back pocket, didn't drink tea and talk football (soccer) constantly

      Wow - British construction workers sound like real badasses.
    • As the father of four, I am very pleased with Bob the Builder as the "Ideal Role Model". Bob occasionally makes technical mistakes (he can't hang wallpaper to save his life - but Wendy is a pro), but he never ever loses his temper or yells or gets discouraged. This is boring for adults, but a good model of the ideal for children - actually I watch it too. I'm just checking to make sure the ideals presented match mine :-)

      Why does a sinless hero lose interest for adults? I think the main reason is that

  • Dang Kids! (Score:4, Funny)

    by ONOIML8 ( 23262 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @07:22AM (#6624322) Homepage
    "As a morale boosting exercise, Bob the Builder was brought into our office."

    At any of the places I've ever worked, that sort of thing would have killed morale. The more I think about it, the more insulting it seems.

    First there is the idea of having a mascot. So the company thinks you're a bunch of high school kids and they're trying to pump you up for the big game?

    Then there's the idea of a cartoon figure for 5 year olds as your mascot. I guess they don't even think of you as high school kids.

    Thank the gods that I don't own a stake in your company. I would imagine that the owners of your company would prefer you guys to be working on turning a profit, not playing with toys you should have put away in first grade.

  • by putaro ( 235078 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @07:39AM (#6624348) Journal
    My favorite came from the time that a box was needed to put a prototype board into. One of the engineers made a trip to the hardware store and found a battery operated radio controlled doorbell. The case was just the right size. Afterwards the guts of the thing was still lying around so afterhours the ceiling tiles in a VP's office were lifted and the bell was placed in there. The button went to the bulletin board along with a sign reading "Press Me". So, naturally, it got pressed. A LOT. The VP being your typical PHB type never could figure out where the door bell noise was coming from. And he couldn't put two and two together as he was seen, in the lunch room, vigorously pushing the button and asking "What does this do?"

    The piece de resistance was when the engineer in question had a meeting in the VP's office. He took the button off the board and kept it in his pocket, pressing it at appropriate times during the meeting.
    • by MartyJG ( 41978 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @09:07AM (#6624855) Homepage
      We did something to the lovely Training Officer in our IT Support office. We took a pressure sensitive musical button from a greetings card and placed it inside the seat of her office chair. It took her (and the current IT Manager) several days before we could contain ourselves no longer.

      She would sit down and it would start playing. She would comment that it was stupid having the 'Hockey-Cockey' as a mobile phone ring-tone. She would stand up and it play again - and ask where on earth was that noise coming from. The IT Manager would sit in the seat and then run out the room to the computer rooms to find the student who wasn't answering their mobile.

      Oh the fun we had with something so simple :-)
    • At college, there was a kid that could barely set up a network connection in Windows alone use Linux. (Funny he was an IT major.) We took a spare CD-ROM, mounted it inside his computer such that he didn't know it was there, and put a knoppix CD in it. Both of his hard drives were in tact and there were no discs in either of his actual cd-roms. It took him 3 hours before he decided to take off the case and see what actually happened.
    • My favorite was sitting next to some young guy in the terminal room, and switching keyboards on him when he wasn't looking. I'd type everything he typed (as it displayed on my screen) except for carriage-return... he couldn't seem to get it to work.

      I convinced him that he had to hit the side of the terminal, like an old typewriter, in order to do a carriage return (and chided him for not knowing such a basic function of terminals)

      so, there's this poor naive student smacking the side of the terminal every
    • Working with a fellow named (TINS) David Bowman.

      Every so often, I'd patch things so that when he logged in, his screen would display "I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that", then log him out.
  • by fdiskne1 ( 219834 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @07:48AM (#6624371)
    Why does this remind me of the talking bat from Babylon 5 - River of Souls? Starts as a "cheer-you-up" stress reliever saying "I love you!" and "I forgive you!" whenever you hit something with it. Once a hacking tech gets his hands on it, it makes a handsome gift for the annoying lawyer, "I'm an idiot!", "I'm a loser!", "No one likes me!", and "My mommy dresses me funny!"

    • B5 had totally faded from my consciousness.

      I mean, ok, it had it's sins. The acting was sometimes atrocious, the special effects were sometimes laughable, and many of the attempts at creating a Tolkienesque sense of wonder and history and weight failed as a result.

      But those sins are more than wiped out -- a dozen times over -- by the moments of pure, unadulterated brilliance. And most of the time, the acting was good, and the directing was top-notch, and the special effects did their job, and more than an
  • sad really (Score:3, Funny)

    by SubtleNuance ( 184325 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @08:02AM (#6624448) Journal
    Its sad, it seems that no one has their own imagination these days. Instead of *creating* a mascot of their own, this team could only come up with stealing a character, who's sole purpose is to sell toys.

    How about Cary the Coder -- the skinny geek... or Compile Kile a dapper, leather jacket cool-dude? or Jimmy the Bug a vile insect of software-flaws..?

    instead they cant break out of the mass conscienceness, and decided that BobTheBuilder is there own... sad. sad. sad.

    I say F Bob The Builder, Barney and Pokemon... thiere sole purpose is to convert your children into passive consumers, to sell them stuff, keep that crap out of your lives.
  • by BMonger ( 68213 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @08:09AM (#6624509)
    Who wants to start going to Toys 'R' Us (notice it's spelt Us and not U$) and/or Amazon.com and/or where ever and going to buy a Bob the Builder, mod it...

    and return it.
    • Is the Barbie Liberation Front still in business? Yup, seems to be [sniggle.net]
    • by Heisenbug ( 122836 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @11:04AM (#6625701)
      www.sniggle.net [sniggle.net] ("the culture jammer's encyclopedia") links to a couple of little hacks like this. In the most famous one, a group switched a bunch of voice chips between Barbie and GI Joe dolls, so Joe was saying things like "Let's go shopping!" Another interesting if less pointed experiment involved filling a bunch of teddy bears with cement and placing them on the shelves of a major toy store ...
    • As Neil Morrisey (the voice of Bob the Builder, at least in UK, I don't know about America) was in Men Behaving Badly for about a decade or so, there'd likely be lots of appropriately adult lines to get the toy to say whilst having it still plausibly sound like it's still Bob saying them.

      If they were to get them back and in passing, heard one exclaiming "Sha-mon, Motherfucker!" (with a sample of the Michael Jackson character from Bo-Selecta), they'd notice straight away whether or not they heard the actual

  • Another idea... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DJPenguin ( 17736 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @08:31AM (#6624624)
    It would be great if you could extend this with a PIC or something, so that Bob would be his normal self, but say something evil every so often to really confuse the PHB...

    Or maybe a small RF reciever so he could be remotely triggered to say something evil? Hmmmm... I like that one :)
  • by FearUncertaintyDoubt ( 578295 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @08:36AM (#6624647)
    "Yup, here's your problem. Someone set this thing to 'Evil.'"
  • Bob for nerds (Score:3, Interesting)

    by M. Silver ( 141590 ) <silver&phoenyx,net> on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @09:06AM (#6624849) Homepage Journal
    Nerds who are *really* interested in Bob should go see the Live show. The in-laws took our then-two-year-old, and we went along.

    The vehicles are really well done... all sorts of RC servo stuff going on there. (The characters are good, too, as mascot-type suits go, but that's not as cool.) Aside from the fact that it was TWENTY-FIVE BUCKS A TICKET even for the nosebleed section, I'd've liked to have been all the way down behind the controllers' booth.

    It's a little unsettling to see/hear them singing "Mambo No. 5" knowing all the original words, but still.
  • Evil Bob? (Score:3, Funny)

    by JimPooley ( 150814 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @09:35AM (#6625013) Homepage
    If it's Evil Bob shouldn't it be saying stuff like
    "Through the darkness of future past,
    The magician longs to see.
    One chance out between two worlds,
    Fire, walk with me."
  • by msheppard ( 150231 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @09:42AM (#6625054) Homepage Journal
    From [9F04] [snpp.com]

    Doll: Guess who, Fat boy!!
    Homer: [blinded, bumping around, with the doll strapped to his head]
    Marge! Marge! Look!
    Marge: [from the kitchen] Oh, my God!
    Homer: [staggering into the kitchen] The doll's trying to kill me and the
    toaster's been laughin' at me!

    Homer and the Killer Doll roll about the floor and Homer has his face dunked
    in the dog dish (``Eeeew! Dog water!'') Marge calls the number on the
    Krusty doll box (1-900-DON'T-SUE).

    Marge: Your doll is trying to kill my husband! [pause] Yes, I'll hold.

    Marge lets the Krusty Co. repairman into the kitchen, to see Homer on the
    floor, the doll yanking at his tongue. Picking up the doll, the repairman
    identifies the problem.

    Repairman: [pointing to a Good/Evil switch on the back of the doll]
    Yup, here's your problem. Someone set this thing to ``Evil''.

  • by pfafrich ( 647460 ) <rich@DALIsingsurf.org minus painter> on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @10:53AM (#6625618) Homepage
    The supplied like to Bob the Builder may not be the official one. Which accoding to my younger friends is Bob the builder [hitentertainment.com]. Its actually kept a lot of kids in the hood amused for a good long while, despight being a very unslashdotish flash site.
  • I though every one knew that EVIL BOBs (bitmap object) come in the BMP format, they even started off life twisted.
  • cool idea (Score:3, Funny)

    by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @12:01PM (#6626207) Homepage
    I wrote a bit called "Hurt Me Elmo" for Bob & Tom a few years back (on the FunHouse CD). I actually considered the possibility of having someone manufacture the little box to replace Tickle Me Elmo's factory installed laughing/jiggling box. The backlash could have generated some sales, and probably a lawsuit...

  • Microsoft Barney (Score:3, Informative)

    by coaxial ( 28297 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @02:15PM (#6627273) Homepage
    Something like this has been done before, only with something much more evil, Microsoft Barney. While the hacked Barney [uci.edu] doesn't have freeform language, it does have freeform movement and can be remotely controlled.
  • Oh boy... (Score:3, Funny)

    by buckeyeguy ( 525140 ) on Wednesday August 06, 2003 @03:54PM (#6628001) Homepage Journal
    it's a short, dangerous step from Bob the Builder to one of these gals [realdoll.com]. Great mascot, bad for productivity.
  • Lamest mascot ever!

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson