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Christmas Cheer

The Geek Toy Vacuum Cleaner 182

TheDarkpoint sent us a new device sure to be on all neat-nik geek Christmas lists. It's an automatic vacuum cleaner. Cool little device and the polite gift for those who just aren't quite up to clean-snuff.
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The Geek Toy Vacuum Cleaner

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  • by rde ( 17364 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @07:50AM (#1471922)
    Yeah. It sucks.
  • Now we just need to modify it to

    a) automatically return to a charging station when its batteries get low
    b) empty itself when it fills with dirt

    That's about the only way I'll ever keep my carpet clean all the time
  • Wow... never saw that coming...

    Do we really want everything hooked up to the internet? At school, for our senior engineering project many people are doing internet technologies where they connect applicances to the internet. Nothing here is really innovative. It mostly consists of them arranging sensors of some sort on the device and then using a laptop to monitor it. Of course they try to use wireless technology - cell phone modem, or wireless lan to get it to a central computer that is hooked to the internet.

    I'm sure someone is going to hook a toilet to the internet sometime soon...then it will run linux, of course, and count how many flushes, and how big the 'load' is....

  • Heh. The guys I watch Monday Night Football (and pro wrestling with) could certainly benefit from this. I wonder if they'll come up with a unit that'll take out their trash as well.
  • by BenHmm ( 90784 ) <[moc.yelsremmahneb] [ta] [neb]> on Thursday December 09, 1999 @07:52AM (#1471927) Homepage
    I met the inventor, James Dyson, earlier this year; he's quite a cult figure in the UK having re-invented the vacumn cleaner (by removing the bag, and using an internal vortex for suction.)

    anyhow, he's a major engineering guy, and is trying to spearhead a movement to bring engineering and design back into schools.

    he's a top man...check out here []

  • It seems that they have applied for a patent on the spiral as a form that covers a rectangle. (See [].


    Does anybody know what comouters and OS it uses? :-9

  • Will it pick up my computer cables off the floor and vacuum under them? ...or is it just going to eat them?
  • If my room is typical of the geek room, the thing better be all terrain!!

    (Side note: would a better geek gift be Lego Mindstorms so we can create our very own intelligent, robotic vacuum cleaner?)

  • Scope it out... they have a patent pending [] on their "spiral cleaning path." Sorry dudes, but I think this is yet another stupid patent idea. Patently obvious and been done before.
  • Checked out the movie, and sure enough, it uses the general "lawnmower" algorithm (mow the edges, then spiral inwards), with a little collision detection to determine the "edges" of it's space.

    In any case, when you vacuum, it's the corners that count... and this thing didn't even get close to those.
  • by cybaea ( 79975 )
    Dyson has specially developed the first advanced microprocessor-driven SR motor to be installed in a domestic vacuum cleaner, for the DCO6. SR is a new generation of electrical motor technology, producing no harmful carbon emissions, and lasting twice as long as conventional motors with brushes.

    There is probably no doubt that it is "the first ... microprocessor-driven ... motor to be installed in a domestic vacuum cleaner", but does anybody have a clue to how these new "SR" motors are supposed to work? Couldn't find anything on the web site.

  • Do we really want everything hooked up to the internet?

    um...what? where does it mention anything about hooking the vacuum cleaner up to the net?


    Keyboard not found.
  • Will it pick up my computer cables off the floor and vacuum under them?
    Actually, looking at it I'd say it's perfect for those 'under the desk' jobs. It'd be able to get at the dust without eating the cable, and would obviate all that desk-and-box-moving that is such a pain in the arse.
  • I'd have to say this thing looks pretty neat, but It wouldn't do very much good for me. I have a really messy house and my method of vacuuming is to just pick up stuff that gets in the way then plop it back down on the floor. I don't think this little "bot" will do that for me :)
    I didn't read everypage of the website because the thing is kinda slow loading, being slashdotted and all, but what about vacuuming under couches and tables and stuff? It seems to me this is limited to wide open relatively uncluttered spaces, besides am I the only one that things us humans need to quit finding ways to sit on our kiesters all day and let machines do the work for us? I mean vacuuming isn't that bad. Unless you have a really big house, but that why you have an upstairs maid and a downstairs maid :)
    Someone else mentioned (the first post actually, imagine that a useful first post) that this was just a rip off of the robotic lawn mower, now there is a good idea, we have 10 acres of land that can be a real pain to mow, by the time you are done it is time to start over again, it would be nice to just have a continous running bot. Of course them cityfied people with a half an acre don't really need it, but considering I've seen some of them with riding lawnmowers they would probably get it anyhow :) Nothing wrong with that I don't guess, it's still outside and hot or cold or whatever, not like vacuum cleaning in a climate controlled house.
    Oh well, I guess soon we will have devices that breath for us. *sigh*

  • "A Festivus for the rest of us!!"
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @07:58AM (#1471940)
    If it can pick up microwave red baron pizzas that have been ingrained into the floor, determine which of my multitude of mtn. dew cans are full, empty, or "flat", and figure out which printouts I want to save and which ones I want to discard... I won't just buy it, I'll *marry* it.
  • I'm cleaning impaired (ok, lazy). While this thing might not be able to do anything for some place that's as authentic of a disaster area as my apartment, at least the beginning steps are being tackled. I may live to have that robotic maid yet!

    I think it's one of the holy grails of science.

  • There was no info afaik on the site regarding the price.

    Who am I?
    Why am here?
    Where is the chocolate?
  • by deefer ( 82630 )
    What a brilliant piece of kit!!!
    I was a bit disappointed there was no "science bit", though - technologies used like NN's, GA's etc...
    I wonder what sort of capacity this thing has? I mean, my front room looks more like a bombsite most Sunday mornings if I have had people over...
    Imagine if this really takes off - and they get the cash to invest more development. A cross between an AIBO and a vacuum cleaner!!! Way to go! Moving further down the line - it could "home in" on it's docking station. Add a shampooing module - it totally cleans as it goes...
    Incidentally, Dyson use a really smart method of cleaning - some sort of vortex anomaly actually sweeps the dust up. So you have no bag to fill up - the sucking force is maintained at a uniform level no matter how full it is... plus I think it's waterproof... Handy for all those red wine spills!
    IIRC, Dyson is one of those eccentric garden-shed type inventors who made some cash with the wheelbarrow with a ball for a wheel, and then went on to make the vacuum. Warms the cockles of my heart to see the nerd mantle being taken up where Sir Clive Sinclair left off...
  • Let's see... expensive and marginally functional robotic vacuum system versus Luddite-proof central vacuum system, used in houses for 30+ years. Now, an automated whole-house cleaning system! That would be something interesting! Wait, no, they already did that... it's called maid service. Sigh. Nice ideas, but not really all that useful.
    Editor, ScowlZine
  • I mean... if you don't have carpet, will this thing just blow hot air?

    Seriously, I'm not _this_ lazy. I can get up and vacuum myself.

  • I saw a similar device demonstrated on Japanese TV the other day, except that it could automatically return to its charging station when it was finished vacuuming.

  • by andyf ( 15400 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @08:01AM (#1471947) Homepage
    How about a solar lawn mower [] instead? I saw one of these in action a couple of years ago. They're pretty cool, they use buried wire to mark the border of the yard, and they just roam freely, constantly cutting grass. And they set off an alarm if someone tries to haul it away without punching in a password.
  • That poor thing wouln't last five minutes in my house - especially if it came in contact with my bedroom! Hmm - I can see this thing fitted with big ol' knobby tires to try and clean my house!

    The Mindstorms are a good idea, but there's one downside... I know I'm not a 'typical' geek for the most part, but, I know I couldn't leave the Lego's alone long enough for it to get any cleaning done. I'd have it assembled, let it start doing it's thing, see a way to improve it, etc. That process could go on forever!
  • This is just a whole site of silly patent applications.

    • Two-speed option [] - how can this possibly be new and inventive?
    • A Spiral covers a rectangle [] - surely this has been done before. Lawnmovers spring to mind.
    • Mood Indicator Light [] - nothing more that a three-colur status light: OK, working, problem. I'm sure I have seen somethng similar somewhere...

    Arrrrrgh! (I still want one, though :-))

  • Well, so much for my plan of building an automatic vaccum cleaner out of lego mindstorms.

    I guess I'll just have to move on to building that automatic lawnmower....

  • > Imagine if this really takes off - and they get the cash to invest more development. A cross between an AIBO and a vacuum cleaner!!!

    Yeah. There's one in the show Teletubbies. It's called the Noo-Noo.

    ObTopic: Now, if only it could recognize when it picked up a stray Lego and reassemble itself....
  • by ScowlZineEIC ( 124307 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @08:08AM (#1471953) Homepage
    How about an obvious improvement: the ability to negotiate stairs? Not everybody lives on a single floor flat!

    This brings up another question: what would it take to change the tracking system to actually target the cat instead of avoid it?
    Editor, ScowlZine

  • Are there any electric motor that have 'harmful carbon emissions'?
  • And how about some sort of a monitoring system so that it knows when it is not going to be in your way. Or a crontab-like thing.

    And if you were going to have it vacuum when you were sleeping or doing other things like studying or talking on the phone, you'd want one of those silencer speakers on it that produces the opposite waveform in an attempt to negate the sound. That would be pretty nifty.
  • At the risk of starting (or contributing to) an OT flamewar...

    The use of Xmas in this context is a nice shorthand for "in the spirit of giving and sharing that is common to many faiths at this time of year". My wife got into a painful discussion of this sort a few days ago at work. She and I are of, shall we say, a religious belief that isn't mainstream. Yet we celebrate Christmas, because we have friends and family who do, and we enjoy giving them presents and being part of their celebrations. Our religion celebrates Yule. The presents we happen to give each other are Yule presents, but they're part of our "Christmas shopping". Not holiday shopping, as most of it is for people who celebrate Christmas, and "holiday shopping" smacks way too much of political correctness for our tastes.

    The aforementioned painful discussion was with a cow-orker who doesn't think that someone of alternative beliefs should celebrate Christmas. And more's the pity. Such thought hides the true message of this season, which is that it's time for friends and family to get together and give gifts, most importantly those gifts which can't be packaged in a cardboard box with wrapping paper.

    So don't get bent out of shape over the use of "Christmas". If the sacred holiday of Christmas isn't part of your belief system, then insert whatever celebration is appropriate for you. (Especially for those of you who don't get a day off on or around 25 Dec., and therefore don't like thinking of it as "the holiday season".)

  • The scene... I have left for vacation. I set up crontab entries in a control computer to activate the robot periodically while I'm gone. Little did I know, I had left computer parts scattered around on the floor. Come on guys. Sounds like this item would be a good idea in theory for a geek present. However, considering how many geeks (myself included) have a habit of leaving computers in various states of disassembley all over the place, somehow I doubt it would be a good idea to turn a non-intelligent vacuuming robot loose in a geek's room.
  • The aforementioned painful discussion was with a cow-orker

    I don't mean to bash on anyone else's religion, even though mine is the Right One, but yours is out there. Cow-orking is just plain wrong. Never ork the cow.
  • ObTopic: Now, if only it could recognize when it picked up a stray Lego and reassemble itself....Mike Jittlov had something like that. You should see if he can give you some advice ;)
  • by opensourceman ( 124101 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @08:16AM (#1471961) Homepage
    Episode IV

    A New Troll

    It is a period of civil war on slashdot. Striking from a hidden base, the trolls have won their first victory against the evil galactic moderators.

    During the battle, troll spies managed to steal secret plans to the moderator's ultimate weapon, the post vacuum, an open sourced virtual vacuum cleaner with an enough power to suck up an entire thread of trolls.

    Pursued by the moderator's sinister agents, open source man races to create another off-topic thread to expose the moderator's plans and restore freedom to slashdot...

    thank you.
  • Where does the dirt go, since there's no bag?
  • ") automatically return to a charging station when its batteries get low
    b) empty itself when it fills with dirt "

    Why not have it filter out the organic material (bugs, spiders, slugs, small mammals, etc), put it into a fermentation container to generate methane, which it could then use later to generate energy to charge its batteries?
  • Targetting the cat is easy. Hitting the cat once it decides to jump on furniture would be more difficult than climbing stairs.
  • The Mindstorms are a good idea, but there's one downside... I know I'm not a 'typical' geek for the most part, but, I know I couldn't leave the Lego's alone long enough for it to get any cleaning done. I'd have it assembled, let it start doing it's thing, see a way to improve it, etc. That process could go on forever!

    Hopefully we'll see a similar trend like Open Source for software in the hardware area: You get a working device but are free to take it apart and rebuild it to suit your needs. That's opposite to the current approach, trying to hide how it works and preventing people to change it. In a way, that might be why PC's are so successful and useful, you can open them and insert/remove/replace stuff. It would be neat to see other kinds of hardware follow, you can do it with your car, what about your TV? One size never fits all so being able to customize your software AND hardware is the new way of doing things!
  • by Otto ( 17870 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @08:20AM (#1471967) Homepage Journal
    does anybody have a clue to how these new "SR" motors are supposed to work?

    SR Motor = Switched Reluctance motor

    Let's see here..
    Quick search found this site: []

    There's even a few GIF animations to show how it works.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can't you respondents say anything nice about anything? Ya put it on the floor, push "go", and it cleans your floor! (ok, not the pizza boxes & Mt. Dew cans.) It's a applied technology robot, available off-the-shelf now, and does a job that we've been talking about doing for ages. That's cool! You KNOW you want one.
  • I'll take the dulex model and the "Wedding Fun TM" attachments please.......
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...any eletric lawnmower could ever be. We had two of them outside in Summer an we had that little cave that we just placed everywhere we thought the grass got too high. They dont make no noise, dont need anymore food than your grass, and cut it incredibly the right size. Its amazing, but finally one of them died on cancer and the other one was killed by a fox. Hmmm...I wonder if a sheep could make a better job?
  • Beware - slightly unrelated stuff awaits - Beware

    Well, yes, all electric appliances create harmful emissions. No, not in your house, but at the power plant. Okay, maybe you're on hydropower or solar or windpower or maybe you run your house on fermenting slugs - either way, you're in the minority. And even if you ARE using one of those listed previously, they had to use large machines running on fossil fuels in order to build the dam or the propellers or the solar cells.

    So, the lesson learned is - FERMENTING SLUG POWER!
    (I wonder if they could have a lawnmower that runs on fermenting grass(no, not that kind of grass)).
  • Moderators have to know something about puns...
  • That's how I vacuum my floor, will I get sued?
  • The AIBO-vacuum! It can fetch too!
  • If you're considering the acquisition of a robotic domestic servant, first consider this cautionary tale [], courtesy of Electric Sheep [], a "damn fine" SF webzine from New Zealand.
  • Good article, I like his approach. It will be interesting to see if his company can maintain that style of business as it grows and when he retires. All businesses over time seem to add on beurocratic layers and stagnate, stifiling engenuity.

    Hey! *THIS* is the guy who's been posting all those stupid natalie portman comments as an anonymous coward! The username, the hatred for moderators, the lowercase "thank you" at the bottom, it all fits. We have you now, fool.

  • the Honeymoon Extention Pack!
  • It's great that they have a vacuum that'll clean your floors, but you still have to empty the damn bag out!
  • by Dast ( 10275 )
    Check the name:


    He wants you to get him.
  • by rkms ( 12026 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @08:40AM (#1471995)
    I own a Dyson vacuum cleaner (DC03) and it does a wonderful job.

    Dyson has really shaken up the UK manufacturing establishment; and done it in a very engineering-oriented way. All credit to him.

    Its easy to get carried away when we hear about so many really stupid patents, but Dyson risked an awful lot to build his company; it got its start from his exploitation of the Dual Cyclone technique.

    Perhaps we should make a distinction between software patents (stupid), biotech (dangerous) and the more traditional physical invention types that have (generally) served us very well.
  • I have an ordinary upright non-robotic Dyson vacuum cleaner.

    The body of the cleaner, where you might expect the bag to be, is a big transparent plastic cylinder with another cylinder inside it. There are a couple of downwards pointing cone shaped thingies that fit inside the tops of the cylinders.

    The air swirls around and around the cones until the dirt gets dizzy and drops to the bottom. Because the bin is transparent you can see how full it is, or if you've accidentally picked up anything that you shouldn't have (coins, pets, etc.)

    The absolute best thing about it is that it even sorts your dirt out for you. Big dirt in the outside bin and fine dust in the middle. I don't know why but this pleases me immensely.

    Deefer said:
    >plus I think it's waterproof... Handy for
    >all those red wine spills!

    Unfortunately not. The instruction book specifically warns you not to try to pick up damp stuff. I don't know why, perhaps it would be hard to get the damp dust-sludge out of the bin.

  • Just change to = in the targetting routine...
  • More importantly, how long before some enterprising cracker attempts to hack these things? In the future, when little robot vacuum cleaners become common and can sense when the floor is dirty and needs to be cleaned, will I see articles like the following:


    NEW YORK (AP) -- In what authorities are calling "the worst attack by pro-clutter hackers yet," thousands of Dyson DC17 robot vacuum cleaners burned out today when a swarm of dirt-dumping robots was released into the city. The dirtbots, as the FBI is calling them, invaded homes and left trails of dirt across carpets. While the DC17s attempted to vacuum up the dirt, the dirtbots continued making tracks until the DC17s lost power or their motors burnt out....


    Alternatively, given their Mood indicator light [] (patent pending), will these be to the next decade what mood rings were to the 70's?


  • You're a good person, AugstWest. Sharp eye, quick wit, disdain for cow-orking. Orking is generally a bad idea (except for ducks of course, they really don't seem to care).

    'Notice that this appendage to the main message is not a sig.'
  • Maybe attach the mindstorms controller to press the controls? Then a cron job to have it come out once a week? Jetson's here we come!

  • It has nothing to do with Christianity.

  • Yeah, and on the Two Speed System [] as well. Man they must have spent a lot of time on research coming up with the concept of a machine that can move to different speeds. How completely original and innovative! (remember, only difficulty of invention, not implementation, counts for a patent).

    We cannot reason ourselves out of our basic irrationality. All we can do is learn the art of being irrational in a reasonable way.
  • At the risk of bringing on bad karma, I must say that's the funniest post I've read in a damn long time...
  • Are you sure he's the inventor? It's been in use in the United States for a decade now. Up until a couple of years ago, Amway Corp had the US patent rights, and it was only available on the their vacumns. When the patent ran out, Eureka, Hoover, Red Devil, et al, came out with their own "new, revolutionary" versions. In fact, Dyson's DS05 looks almost identical to the old Amway CMS2000.

    Of course, even if Mr. Dyson didn't invent this, he may have patented refinements to it. Or he may be the person Amway originally got their rights from.

    p.s. No, I am not an Amway distributor. I won't be hitting you up to attend any recruitment meetings :-)
  • by El Kevbo ( 81125 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @08:58AM (#1472008)
    Did anyone else catch this: A red glow appears if DCO6 is feeling distressed or threatened, for example by a pet or child ?

    Why does the thought of my vacuum cleaner feeling "distressed or threatened" amuse me?

  • Is not! Very slow, but not /.ed...
  • I wonder if it will avoid stuff like paper, or it will pick it up..
  • So don't get bent out of shape over the use of "Christmas". If the sacred holiday of Christmas isn't part of your belief system, then insert whatever celebration is appropriate for you. (Especially for those of you who don't get a day off on or around 25 Dec., and therefore don't like thinking of it as "the holiday season".)

    Perhaps just treat the Winter Solstice as the main holiday and let the various religions refer to it by their own names? You don't need a religion to get into the spirit of giving and the like. And besides, Christmas is a direct descendant of the old pagan celebrations for the Winter Solstice, as when they were (forcerfully) converted they didn't want to give up their celebration around that time of the year, so the supposed birthdate of the god Mithra was commandeered to celebrate as the birthday of Jesus.
  • by Parsec ( 1702 )
    It would stick out like a sore thumb in my turn-of-the-century house. Lotsa wood and a roaming yellow/grey plastic thing.
  • These things seem about perfect for commercial cleaning applications.(No steps, no stairs, vast open areas) Instead of paying three guys minimum wage and getting spotty results, buy four of these things. Even if they are US $4000, you'd make back your initial investment in five months!!

    I wonder if they'd take care of the staple collection I have under my desk?
  • Amen.

    Possibly worse is the fact that on the same page they say they've got a patent pending on the idea of a light which changes color to indicate the robot's operating mode.

    Maybe this is only ludicrous to me because I've dabbled in robotics, but think about it... You have software which runs in one of a few modes and runs on a machine with no output. So, you hook up a mode indicator. It's for debugging, not for indicating any sort of emotion. Come on - navigating around a chair is a mood?

    I figure it started out as a debugging tool and some marketing moron thought it was cool... "No, no... not a mode indicator... a MOOD indicator!"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    (I did my EE thesis on SRs.)
    They work not by the traditional method of producing an electromagnetic force by passing electrons through a coiled wire, but by the revolutionary technology of harnesing non-motile electrons, or NMEs, which are lying dormant in the wire.

    This produces a much longer time-to-failiure because there are no motive parts to get in the way of the motor. Nearly 0 friction = nearly 0 wear & tear.

    The lower carbon emissions claim is dubious--suffice to say critics of SR studies reveal that it's similar to the early 90s claim that oatmeal lowers your cholesterol, but debunkers showed that their studies relied on you eating oatmeal and not egg yolks for breakfast.

    For more information on this subject, see here []

  • Been done... Popular Electronics published specs, circuit diagrams and logic code for one back in 1990.(I think..) It was a refit of a standard electric mower with steppers on each wheel and a pair of IR 'presence' sensors.

    They also had a Radio Controlled version in an earlier magazine..

    Anyway, it used tha same sort of 'spiral' pattern Dyson's device does..
  • OK let's try that again....
    hmmm, isn't this the predecessor to the novel "The Doorway into Summer" by Robert A. Heinlen...
    What's next... cryo-engineering so we can all sleep to the year 2003?... oh yeah he wrote that a long time ago, the protagonist slept from 1973 to 2003, after creating "household hannah" (I forgot the real name) an automated vacuum cleaner/housemaid, then went into suspended animation to come back in the future to harass some shady business partners
    oh well, moderate this one down to oblivion, for it IS kinda offtopic.. sorry folks
  • Yow, that was me and a friend that did this! It was way back in 1995, and was a kluge and a half. We used the head actuator from a full-height 5.25" hard drive to yank the flapper in the toilet. That head actuator is a real nice, strong electromagnet if you pulse it with 12VDC or so.

    This was done along with the VT100 and music-on-demand system in the bathroom so you could listen to music (realize that this was long before the MP3 age) while showering, or you could log into your machine while you were logging into the toilet. Unfortunately not just anyone could telnet to the toilet (we DO have to pay for water, ya know) but you could telnet to the control computer if you had an account, and yes, you could flush the toilet remotely, or play music in the bathroom remotely, from anywhere in the world.

    Here's a picture of the control keypad [] that let you choose music and flush the toilet.

    We later got rid of the hard drive (it kept falling off the wall into the toilet) and replaced it with an extra printer [] screwed to the wall. We attached a cable from the printhead to the flapper in the toilet, so that when you sent data and did a carriage return, it would flush. Unfortunately the high humidity in the bathroom made the printer rust and seize up within a week. Eit!

  • I have helped several electronic startups get there products going. The fact that the Dyson product doesn't look like a prototype is evidence of a great deal of risk and effort, and I cannot help but admire someone with the determination to see it through.

    I also agree that for the standard Geek-Lair, it's not yet a useful tool, but these things have to startup and improve. Next year's model will be smarter and more adept. The first version of Linux was not generally useful either. Just damned cool.

  • Yeah, like those £300 `personal appliances` or whatever they`re called, like the palm pilot etc, which have about the same level of functionality as a pen and paper (£0.50), only with the ever-exciting risk of losing all your phone numbers and schedules when you drop it/battery runs out etc....never understood that. Am i
    missing something?

    Yes, convenience and efficiency.

    You need a lot of pens and paper to hold the amount of information I keep in my Palm Pilot. I keep simple, Excel compatible spreadsheets in mine. This allows me to consolidate a myriad of paper books. I can keep my phonebook, checkbook, notes, memos, novels, calculators, conversion tables, and alarm clocks in a box that is about the size of a stack of 3" by 5" cards.

    I can also keep all of my passwords encrypted. Try doing that with a dead tree notepad.

    Ever read Slashdot while riding a car or a bus? I have thanks to AvantGo.

    I dropped and broke my Palm III a week after I got it. I didn't lose a single phone number or appointment because it syncs with my computer every night.

    I originally bought my Palm III for $254.00 American. I recently upgraded to a Visor Deluxe for about the same price. I'm not up on the current exchange rates but I think that's about £170. This is considerably less than what you think they cost and there are cheaper models available. As far as I'm concerned, they are worth every penny.
  • Actualy Chistmas as we know it is the result of the Roman empire's domination of pagan europe. The winter solstace celebration ( Yule ) was a long standing tradition from at least the time farming emurged as a human occupation. Most religions apart form the minority of people who follow a path with a single deity ( yes - monotheism is a minority, the majority of the worlds population follows some form of polytheism ) they would have had to mark the importand times of the year. The Romans were quite fond of mixing local and empire wide traditions. It was a way to subdu the local populations and apease them. Easter is also a combination of Christian dogma overlaying the traditional spring celebration of Oeaster ( various spellings - spoken history languages and all that ).

    Anyhow - this has scant to do with the little robot save it would make for a cool Yule party conversation gimic as the party goes on.
    James Michael Keller

  • I grew up celebrating christmas. At the time, my mother was catholic. (Born methodist, she converted on her 18th birthday.) Later, she went through various other religions, such as several touchy-feely-christian variants (we almost ended up moving to Indiana!), Jews for Jesus, and finally ending up being Russian Orthodox when she died.

    My dad, meanwhile, had been born jewish (in germany, raised from the age of 13 in a jewish orphanage here in San Francisco) but agreed to let the kids be raised catholic (etc.) and to go to mass. He slept; we nudged him when he started to snore too loudly. Now, he is in a nursing home, the Jewish Home for the Aged. We have to remind him that he's buying chanukkah gifts for the kids, not christmas gifts.

    Now I am antagotheistic. (Mostly athiest, but I sincerely hope there is a god so I can beat the living shit out of him.) My wife is more agnostic/athiestic. We mostly celebrate the solstice, but have a christmas tree and give christmas gifts, and so on.) When someone says "Merry Christmas" to us, we say thanks and offer the same to them.

    As far as I'm concerned, the christians commandeered the pagan solstice holidays, so there is no reason I can't commandeer christmas for my own use. Turnabout is fair play. Also, I'm far too lazy to explain to people that I don't believe in Christ, so I don't celebrate christmas, etc. That can also lead to having to sit through attempts at being converted, etc. Better just to say Merry Christmas and know in your mind that you really mean May the coming seasons bring you much happiness.

  • {It's 2:40pm EST, and it appears that the /. effect strikes again: I can't get a response from any longer.}

    I'm in agreement that this thing isn't going to do well in a typical geek room; even if it can successfully navigate obstacles, that'd leave about %0.2 of my workroom's floorspace sparkling. The rest is covered with parts, printouts, and assorted spelkus.

    However, it'd be ideal for the living room.
  • hehe... the thought of putting it in an enclosed circle and watching it go round and round or simply blinking the "Im in trouble, a kitty is tring to eat me!" LED simply makes me laugh...

    BTW - Everyone got the video [], it's funny as hell (3.5MB though)
  • by h2odragon ( 6908 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @09:48AM (#1472035) Homepage
    "Welcome to the First Church of Applientology; I'm your host, L. Ron Hoover..."
  • by UncleRoger ( 9456 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @09:49AM (#1472036) Homepage
    I'm honestly surprised that no one has realized that this is the same idea that Robert A Heinlein (All Hail!) put forth in his book "Door into Summer" many years ago.

    I wanted one then, and I want one now.

    If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it. A little outdated technology-wise, but still an excellent story with good engineering, time travel, and a cat. What more could you ask for?

  • sorta off-topic..
    I wonder is he related to celebrated physicist Freeman Dyson?
    Just how hereditary is genius anyway?
    Good article, btw.
  • She and I are of, shall we say, a religious belief that isn't mainstream. Yet we celebrate Christmas, because we have friends and family who do, and we enjoy giving them presents and being part of their celebrations. Our religion celebrates Yule.

    Yer a Wiccan, yippy, just say it, no need to beat around the bush and pretend your ashamed of it... My GF is a Wiccan, I'm a Baptist, point out to your christian Cow-Worker that Christmas was moved to where it is in the calendar precisely to encourage the Pagan populace to celebrate it,and that the Christmas Tree, mistletoe, and Holly are all druidic symbols. Anyone who is worried about celebrating 'Pagan' holidays needs to take a look at some of the bizarre rituals christians have built into their holidays, Easter Eggs (Druidic Fertility ritual), Christmas Trees, all manner of 'Pagan' characteristics.


    Merry Fucking Christmas mister Pagan! (Nods to SP and Mr. Garrison)

  • what do you need the extensions for? Sucking is its life!
  • I suggest you go find the most informative post I wrote a bit earlier which explains just how non-christian the holiday really is. Christmas should be for everyone, As far as I know every major religion and most minor ones has a holiday around that time. Christmas is about being good people for once, the way we should be all the time..

  • by Murphy(c) ( 41125 ) on Thursday December 09, 1999 @10:40AM (#1472052)
    I don't know if any of you have watched the avi, because you're gonna have a nice clean room, well that is only the middle of the room. The thingy stops about 30cm before any object. Well it's a nice try, but don't get rid of your girlfirend just know ...


  • AugstWest dun said:

    I don't mean to bash on anyone else's religion, even though mine is the Right One, but yours is out there. Cow-orking is just plain wrong. Never ork the cow.

    Just how the hell does one ork cows, anyways? I've heard of cow-orkers, but I can't imagine what the hell it is...transforming cattle into big green fellas? Goblinising cattle (in the Shadowrun sense) and if so (in the Shadowrun sense) does this mean Shadowrun wendigos (aka vampy-orks) are really man-eating cattle? Getting a bunch of Da Boyz into ranching? Just how the hell does one ork cows?

    I think we should be told. Maybe the Grits Boy knows...I sure as hell don't ;)

    Never having orked a cow, but having known more than one werecow,

  • It's worse.

    It's much worse.

    They appear (on the same page) to have applied for a patent on a light that tells how its doing. Nevermind that old mainframes used to have a bunch of those lights (OT: IMO the media wants to bring the blinkenlights back) but also Sony's AIBO flashes different colored lights depending on its mood.

    So there. Not that the patent office reads slashdot.
  • If you've ever seen "The Iron Giant" you'll know that when a robot's eyes turn red you better run for cover. And throw away anything that even looks a little bit like a gun.

    DC06 Sales Line: "Don't mess with a Dyson, unless you want to die, son!"

    Regards, Ralph.
  • Yer a Wiccan, yippy, just say it, no need to beat around the bush and pretend your ashamed of it...
    Actually, since he celebrates Yule, he's probably Pagan, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Wicca is one form of Paganism. Druidism and Discordianism are others. Let me recommend ESR's Frequently Asked Questions about Neopaganism [].

    Me, I'm a Zen-Pagan-Taoist-Athiest-Discordian. I'll be visiting my parental units for "Christmas" on the 25th and have my friends from the Circle of Laughing Thunder over for a Yule celebration on the 26th. (That turned out to be the most convenient day for everyone, even though the Solstice and a full moon fall on the 22nd.)

    We're completely off-topic, so if anyone want to discuss further e-mail me. (Remove "spambefuddler-" from the address above.) Happy (insert-holiday-here)!

  • ...then smart geek chicks can be sexy again!
    Hey, smart geek chicks have always been sexy, at least IMHO...
  • In one of the web pages, it says that the automatic cleaner will have the ability to negotiate "short" steps (they actually have a graphic of the thing going up & down a flight of stairs).

    I want to know what the price guestimate is going to be! I've got allergies, and I'm really lazy about vacuuming - it would be worth a lot to me to have something like this vacuuming my house very day!
  • What?

    Here is a non-Christian who does: 0241&cid=40

    I am not a Christian and I celebrate christmas.

    There are even Catholics who don't believe in god.
  • by jfunk ( 33224 )
    "Hi there little guy..."
  • I had heard of Electrolux making a tiny one that can get into all the crazy nooks and crannies that regular vaccums cannot. I think they claimed 90% coverage, while average regular coverage is around 75% (reciting from faded memory, could be wrong numbers). I couldn't find any mention on their site but I did find their Real Fridge Cam, which I found a bit amusing. []

    Aha, a good ol' Google search returned their link: []. Apparently, it goes over cables without any trouble. That's impressive.

    For other robot vacuums, here's a short list:

    I want that Electrolux one, though.

    I haven't seen the Dyson one from the article. The site appears to be down hard.
  • A regular motor uses brushes (blocks of graphite) against brass plates to do the switching.

    At least the ones typically used in vacuum cleaners do. Series motors start fast and spin fast.

    And they probly mean ozone, not carbon.

    Both. Brush/commutator motors gradually grind up the graphite brushes. The motor is in the exhaust air path (to cool it while keeping dirt out of it), so the graphite dust tends to be blown out into the room unless caught with an additional filter.

    There's not enough to re-dirty your rugs. But graphite dust accumulates in lungs and is bad for them.

    It's a very small amount of the dirt your lungs are exposed to. But why let them be exposed to any extra crud at all, now that hall-effect sensors are available to replace brushes? It's a nice selling point.

  • The bloke who tried to patent the waterbed got his application thrown out because Heinlein had already described waterbeds in "Stranger in a Strange Land".

    So "it's in Heinlein" ought to be as good a reason for a mechanical contrivance to be unpatentable as "it's in Knuth" is for an algorithm ....
  • The website doesn't seem to mention a price. Anyone in the UK know the going rate?

    I want the pet avoidance feature to have programable agressiveness. I need something to terrorize my cats while I'm gone.

    I also want to know if it comes with a cow catcher feature so it can collect the legos as it goes (no, not from it's predecessor, but the lego mindfield most parents are familiar with)

    I think it would be easy enough to modify it into a Van de Graf generator to charge the outer shell. That would solve the external harassment issues 8^)
  • The MIT robotic micro ants have mood lights. They are used for debugging. Link to ants [].


Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.