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Freitag, Februar 29, 2008

Dr. Fu Man Shu's flying disk of death ?


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German below, Deutsch unten!

ENGLISH:

I am really considering to move all this robot stuff to my techblog, but as the latter deals with more technical IT-stuff and not mere usage of the household appliance I am not sure yet.


However, my two household robots iRobot Roomba and iRobot Scooba bought in May resp. April 2007 also have entertaining qualities. It previously had had only one malfunction: the charging board inside the robot Roomba (the vacuum robot) itself was fused as we had listened to the instruction manual telling us to charge the robot 24/7. After not doing that anymore and after repair it had worked without any problem (charger fuse happened in August), but in November it had developed a rather entertaining malfunction. I heard a big crash-boom-bang and found it had flown down our stairs and crashed to the floor below. To my astonishment the robot could still work, but seemed a bit uneasy on its wheels and the front bumper, meant to detect obstructions, was a bit too far in on one side. How did it happen? The machine has a stair-detector which normally stops it at stairs and things like that. I found out soon watching it in operation: the brakes on the front wheel seem to be stronger now than the two wheels brakes in the rear. Naturally, it will lead to the robot ducking at the top of the stair. This can cause an in-balance and make it crash down the stairs. So since then, I am doing the stairs tops by myself.

working since April 2007 without problem: floor washer iRobot Scooba




The poor robot still worked fine, but not close to the stairs, until I accidentally dropped it from low height in December, causing it to detect obstacles where there are non. Repair was again fast (48h here in Taiwan) and cheap (35 Euro converted from Taiwandollar), so I am still satisfied with the machine.

a little entertaining : vacuum robot iRobot Roomba



Would like to know how things will be, if such a robot will be human-sized and 100kg heavy in the future? Listen Mr. policeman, my robot has accidentally lost balance on the stair and crushed my aunt. Yes, I am her sole heir...


Links: previous robot articles:

GERMAN:

Weiter im Reigen des Roboterdauertests. Alte Artikel siehe Links oben. Seit April bzw. Mai 2007 habe ich nun die beiden iRobot Putzroboter "Roomba" (Sauger) und "Scooba" (bohnert), die sich deshalb von anderen Haushaltsgeräten unterscheiden, da sie autonom durch die Gegend flitzen. Roomba fährt autonom seine Ladestation an, wenn er leer ist, während Scooba ein externes Ladegerät hat. Beide saugen bzw. bohnern so 45 bis 90 Minuten in der Gegend herum, Batterien sind vielleicht alle 6 Monate mal neue fällig.
Beides sind eigentlich solide Arbeiter, insbesondere der Scooba, der störungsfrei seit April bei uns herumwischt. Erstaunlich, was er alles an Dreck auf vermeindlich sauberem Boden findet. Er piept dann, wenn man den Schmutzwassertank leeren und frisches Wasser nachfüllen muss.

Sein Bruder Roomba hingegen war nicht ganz so solide. Er lief von Mai bis July sehr gut, doch hatte er im August eine erste Fehlfunktion; er konnte nicht mehr laden. Grund war eine durchgeschmorte Ladeplatine - wir hatten uns an die Bedienungsanleitung gehalten und das Gerät ständig an der Ladestation angedockt gelassen. Tun wir jetzt nicht mehr :-)

Er lief wieder sehr gut, doch im November hatte er eine witzige Fehlfunktion. Es knallte und krachte plötzlich und ich fand den kleinen Kerl am Fuße einer Treppe, obwohl er eigentlich oben an der Treppe saugen sollte (die Treppe selber kann er natürlich nicht). Eigentlich hat er einen Treppensensor, der ihn anhalten lässt. Jedoch gehen mittlerweile die Bremsen vorne und hinten etwas unegal, er bremste am Treppenabsatz wie Donald Duck mit nickendem "Kopf" und verlor so die Balance. Ich frage mich, was passiert wäre, wenn gerade jemand unsere steilen glatten Treppenstufen heraufgegangen wäre, als das Ding auf Kopfhöhe mit wildem Saugeräusch und rotierenden Bürsten angeflogen kam. Gut, dass gerade keine Erbtante in der Nähe war...

Heute ist er repariert (er gab erst 4 Wochen später den Geist auf, als ich ihn auch noch fallen ließ) und saugt wieder brav. Er war allerdings nach dem Sturz etwas mechanisch angeschlagen (Wackeln beim Fahren etc.). Heute ist das aller wieder beseitigt.

Etwas sorgenvoll blicke ich auf die übernächste geplante Generation der Haushaltsroboter, die menschengroß uns sicher auch sehr schwer sind. Was, wenn die die Balance an der Treppe verlieren und eine Etage tiefer durch die Wohnungstür krachen und den Hund erschlagen? Wer haftet dann?

OK, Hunderoboter (von Sony) gab´s ja auch schon...

Mittwoch, Februar 27, 2008

Please deport me!

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I dunno, after returning from my German vacation to "The Rock" (also known as Taiwan) it's getting exceedingly difficult to cope with a fifth year on the Tofu island. Will this avatar help to get me deported?


OK, they said one is not supposed to show funny pictures of oneself, if one ever wants to find a job again, because the HR guys are surfing through the Internet. Well Mr. HR-man, then YOU spend 4 years on the rock in Asia and then tell me! Here.... take the green tea... I have enough...

Dienstag, Februar 26, 2008

Returned home from Return home

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Living in another country can turn things back home upside down in your point of view



After I returned from my vacation from Germany, which is my home country (I left it for Taiwan in 2004), I was a bit shaken. Prices were so high, not only compared to Taiwan, but also compared to former years in Germany. Chocolate stuff, which I bought mostly this time, was up almost 100%. Double prices really shocked me. It's the Chinese drinking all the milk for coffee latte, that's what the German candy industry is saying. Well, whatever.

Other prices made me dizzy as well, especially if I imagine them in our old currency, the Deutsche Mark (DM) and not in Euro. I mean, before the Euro, 100g chocolate (standard "Tafel" packing) was 1 DM for a good but not excellent medium brand. Or 0.95 DM in Sale.

I can still remember the price reluctantly went back to 0.49 Euro, which is about 1 DM, after it was initally higher, but this year (2008) the standard price was 0.79 Euro. Pheeeeeew! Even saw 0.89 Euro. Come on, make it 0.99 Euro and Germans can imagine, Euro is DM again. No wait, doesn't work. A 50 000 DM annual salary is now rather 25 000 Euro.

TV reported, waitresses and hair dresser ladies often earn 450 Euro a month or 650 or whatever. Imagine paying these prices with that salary. No, it's not only chocolate, a little soft sausage (Ruegenwalder, meant to be spread on bread, delicious!) was 1.98 Euro for 250g, that's almost 4 DM !!!! Horrible much! A french salamy of cheap shopping center brand was 1.98 as well for 250g. I am full already.

TV also reported, a lot of such shop keepers and the like would be betrayed by their companies and not get their paid vacation! Germany was always famous for it's long paid vacations. Almost everybody had 25 days per year and office workers 30. Is Germany still Germany?

Well, I guess globalizing economy makes not so rich people poorer and wealthy people more wealthy. If I would start as a computer scientist in Germany now, my salary could climb but quite a number. Salaries for needed people are climbing, while cheap wages get even smaller.

Still my country? Yeah, but seems a bit like trailer-park Minnesota to me (never been there, sure it has its moments as well).