Category Archives: Technology

More media coverage!

As more outlets have picked up my Roomba emotional control story, other outlets come forward to cover the story.

Last week, my interview with Dr. Saul Greenberg (who coordinated with my supervisor and myself on this project) was broadcast nationwide on CBC Spark.

Various news sites from around the world spread the word in other languages.


In German!


In Japanese!


In Dutch! And a few more.

I was also contacted for individual interviews for the web sites of Wired and Wired UK.



In British English!

The Telegraph-Journal from my hometown also ran a story on the front page of their weekly Innovate section, with a very large colour photo.


My colleagues in the lab were quite amused as they saw me on the floor for this shot. The carpet, thankfully, was very clean. The Roomba in this photo actually has had its vacuum parts removed, so it’s not responsible for the cleanliness. Is a Roomba still a Roomba if it cannot vacuum?

Overall, this media attention has been a wild ride beyond my craziest expectations. I am very happy for the support this idea has received. You can view my complete project page on my web site.

My Roomba and I have our 15 minutes of fame!

Today, one of my colleagues in the lab, Daniel, came up to me with a bewildered look on his face, not sure what to say. Finally, he tells me I am on one of his favourite blogs. I tell him, surely you have me confused with someone else.


Sure enough, there was my face on The Raw Feed. This was my project. It gets better, because there was more!

A link from this article lead me to MIT’s Information Review blog, which published a review of my project last Friday.


How did this happen? Last week, I attended the HRI 2009 Conference in San Diego, California where I presented my previously blogged first academic publication as a poster. Things went well at the conference! Don’t worry, pictures are coming soon from San Francisco, where I went for a few days before San Diego.

Now I was curious if there was any other coverage of my little Roomba project, so I searched around. I found myself on the front page of BotJunkie as well, a robot blog, with an amusing headline.


Later in the day, my project made its way onto Gizmodo, a rather popular blog that I read from time to time, with another rather amusing headline. The comments are also quite good.


As you can imagine, I’m quite excited at the response that my project received. Now I realize it might actually be my mood which causes my Roomba to develop an attitude and refuse to return to its home base, instead hiding out in the most remote place it can find.

UPDATE: My project has now also appeared on Ubergizmo, this time with a bit more mellow headline.


Based on Alexa and Technorati ratings, both Gizmodo and Ubergizmo are two of the most popular gadget blogs around.

UPDATE 2: My project has just appeared on Engadget. Woohoo! This article sheds light on my little comic.


Recent technology purchases

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, but the winter months are usually slow for me anyway. So today, I’m going to talk about a couple of my recent technology purchases.

Almost two months ago, my cell phone broke, so I was in the market for a new one. I decided to take the leap and sprung for a BlackBerry after researching them online. I already have an iPod touch, so an iPhone is unnecessary.


Now that I’ve been using it for a while, I’m very impressed with the design of the device and its level of features. An interesting feature is that it uses magnets to detect when it is in its holster so it can disable the keyboard and turn off the screen. Even more interesting is how there’s many features of the BlackBerry that aren’t really promoted at all because so many people trust the brand for quality anyway. When Apple revises its iPods and iPhones, it usually adds 1 or 2 new features and markets them like crazy.

I also switched from Bell Mobility to Telus Mobility. I was very unimpressed with Bell’s lack of professionalism with store clerks that know nothing and have no power to help me, and a web site that’s forever malfunctioning.

At any rate, I sent my Samsung M500 back to Saint John so my parents could send it in for repairs and use it for themselves. It’s almost two months after I moved my number to Telus, and Bell still won’t release control of the old phone so my parents can activate it on their own Bell plan. Idiots. I wasn’t on a contract, either.

Just today, I also bought an Acer Aspire One netbook. This is one of those tiny laptops, which I plan to use when travelling and at school.

I got a good deal on a model nearly identical to this stock picture from a local classified listing. It features a 120 GB hard drive, 1 GB RAM, 2 SD card slots, 2 hour battery, and integrated webcam/mic. So far, I’m pretty impressed with how well it runs Windows XP. It also only weighs 2 pounds and is smaller than most textbooks.

For me, technology is fun, a hobby and also a necessity. It’s very convenient to be in a grocery store, see something, and be able to Google a recipe from my BlackBerry so I get all the things I need. I also like to travel with a computer so I can update my blog and post pictures, but my regular laptop is a bit overqualified for that job, and adds unnecessary weight.

I used to think Google Maps was good

Gone are the days when a bird’s eye view of where you live is something you can only imagine or see in an airplane. Google Maps has for years allowed you to type in any address and zoom in on it right on your computer screen. At least this is how it is for many cities outside Saint John. I’m not entirely sure where Google gets its imagery from, but I think it needs a bit of a refresh for the Saint John area. Let’s take a look at Google Maps for Uptown Saint John:

Not a pretty sight. There’s three sets of images coming together and only the greener section in the top right is actually high resolution when you zoom in. Harbour Station is barely visible at all!

Until today, I have just given up and assumed there are no higher resolution images available for Saint John. This was until I tried out Microsoft’s Live Search Maps:

The imagery in this similar view from Microsoft’s service is much better, so much better in fact that I was able to zoom in on my own neighbourhood and discern my father’s trailer parked in the driveway outside my house, whereas I can barely see anything at all on Google Maps. Microsoft’s system also seemed a bit faster and more responsive, without any ugly copyright watermarks splashed across the maps. This is saying a lot for Microsoft since I was using a non-Microsoft web browser in a non-US location, circumstances that usually lead to a better experience with Google’s services.This puts my respect for Google down a peg since they, as the supposedly hip and fast moving innovators, are always too quick to attack Microsoft for being the slow-moving dinosaur, when the roles actually seem reversed somewhat here.

The Moorings web redesign goes live

My newest web project has gone live. I was tasked to do a redesign of The old design was created from a template about 5 years ago, and the owner decided it was time for a change.

Here is my design:


This project was different for me in many ways. This was the first time I used a larger fixed-width design with large photographs everywhere. This can often be a nightmare, but I feel it really added value to this site in promoting the beautiful imagery surrounding this development.

You can view more information about this project in my Portfolio or you can visit the web site itself.

New computer

The biggest news for me lately is that I bought a new computer through an auction at work. Since the computer I was using was going onto 6 years old, it was time for an upgrade. My new machine is a business class machine with Pentium 4 3Ghz processor, 1 GB RAM (upgraded by me from 512), 320 GB SATA hard drive (added by me to the 40 GB it came with). Other less technical conveniences including a quieter operation, smaller overall size, and 8 USB ports. Even the 17 inch CRT monitor it came with was an upgrade for me, and it’s nice to enjoy being able to more things at once with less waiting time.


I already have everything of mine set up on this machine. I am thinking of trying out Sabayon Linux, which Doug at work highly recommends to me. My distrust and dislike of Microsoft products has been growing in recent times. I think their monopoly will eventually end as differences between operating systems become less important as everything moves to open standards over the web. Microsoft is a company that just isn’t cool and they always try to force things on the market the first time around instead of giving people what they really want when they want it. I could rant all day about Microsoft, but I will spare you some of that for now.

A couple weeks ago now, the Saint John High School web site (which I continue to work on) passed its milestone of 1,000,000 million visitors since 1994. In an ironic twist, a St. Malachy’s (rival high school) graduate received a school history book as recognition for being the lucky visitor. We’re still working on an article for the front page of the site to acknowledge this. Things get a bit slow in the summer.

Shortly after the milestone, I rolled out an update to the site layout that I had been working on for a few weeks which updates the look, and improves many things.

Old section page (since the front page didn’t change as much):


New section page:


More colourful pictures and icons were the order of the day.

I intend to get back to blogging a bit more, as I think of things to blog about. I’ve had many ideas over the past month, but I’m also kinda lazy at times.