Monday, May 23, 2011

Unicorns and Unicrons

What is the difference between unicorns and unicrons?

While waiting in line at Half Price Books, there was book titled Unicorns on one of the main display islands. Since I often see it misspelled (and often mistype it myself), I asked Olivia if she knows about unicrons, and pointed out the book to her. She corrected me that it was indeed unicorns, and not unicrons.

So, I asked the difference between a unicorn and a unicron.
(Because come on, let's face it, a unicron sounds pretty cool too. Like some sort of supercomputer unicorn or something. "All Hail the Mighty Unicron!")

So, it was explained to me that a unicorn is a horse with a horn on it's head, and a unicron is a pony with a horn on it's head. A pony is like a horse, but smaller.

I can't very well argue that she's wrong, so that's what a unicron now is.

Programming Robots

What is teach box? Definition from

What is teach box? Definition from

teach box
A teach box is a device that registers and memorizes mechanical motions or processes for later recall and execution by an electronic or computer system. The term especially applies to programmable robots.

Robot programming can be divided into levels, starting with the least complex and progressing to the equivalent of human intelligence. The table shows a four-level scheme.

Programming Level Description
4 Human intelligence
3 Complete tasks
2 Sequences of motions or operations
1 Single motions or operations

An example of a level-1 teach box is a remote-control for the doors of a car. When the wireless receiver gets the signal from the remote unit, it locks or unlocks the doors. Another example of a level-1 teach box is the remote box that controls a hi-fi sound system or videocassette recorder (VCR).

An example of a level-2 teach box is the microcomputer that controls a telephone answering machine. When a call comes in, the sequence of operations is recalled from memory. The machine answers the phone, makes an announcement, takes the message, and resets for the next incoming call.

Level-3 teach boxes are used in aerospace, miliatary, and industrial applications. Level 3, just below human-equivalent artificial intelligence ( AI ), is called task-level programming. Programs at level 3 can instruct a robot to execute complete operations, such as shoveling the snow from a driveway or flying an aircraft on a reconnaissance mission.

The intended movements of a robot are entered into memory by pressing buttons or guiding a joystick or other three-dimensional control device. The robot's path, variations in speed, rotations, and gripping/grasping movements are all programmed. Then, when the memory is recalled, the robot reproduces these movements in the exact sequence, and to the exact extent and speed in all dimensions.

Also see artificial intelligence and robotics .

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May Day

When I was in third grade, my grandmother helped me to make May Day baskets. They were tiny baskets filled with candy, toys, etc. But tiny ones.
Together we made enough for all of the kids in the class, so I could take them to school and pass them out.
I had never heard of this before, but I like the idea, and I think that I might try it for my kids next year.