Granular universal gripper.

One of the trickiest things in the field of robotic engineering is getting the manipulators right. Look down at your hand: you probably have five digits, four fingers and a thumb which are articulated and largely independent of one another (modulo a bit of funny business with the ring and little fingers but, as with many things natural variation comes into play here). Each finger folds and rotates in ways that the science of engineering hasn't quite gotten the hang of replicating. Then a group of scientists discovered an insanely simple design: a small sack full of granules and a …

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Diamond Star Release Party - 3 July 2010.

Last week Catherine Asaro and Donald Wolcott played a live show at Stacy's to celebrate the paperback release of Diamond Star. Hasufin, Mika, Lyssa, and I had hoped to show up at Stacy's about an hour ahead of time to get the sound system set up and checked out but Dr. Asaro and Donald had beaten us by about twenty minutes; plus, we were running about ten minutes late. We spent the next half hour or so sitting around chatting amiably, settling in, and waiting for more people to arrive. They took their places behind microphone and keyboard around 1915 …

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Live at Stacy's - Catherine Asaro and Donald Wolcott!

Please boost the signal - link to this post everywhere!

I realize this is a bit late, I've been laid low by a sinus infection, but thankfully a few of us have been getting flyers put around the DC metroplex.

Saturday night, on 3 July 2010 from 7:00pm to 9:30pm Nebula Award winning author Catherine Asaro and musician Donald Wolcott will be performing live at Stacy's Coffee Parlor in Falls Church, Virginia to celebrate the release in paperback of Asaro's latest novel of the Skolian Empire series, Diamond Star. For one night only the duo will perform songs from …

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Chaos, robots, and Faith and the Muse - all in DC!

Last Friday evening brought with a second attempt at the Chaos in DC meetup in Silver Spring, Maryland. I'd driven out there straight from work because I wound up leaving the office late, and when you factor in travel time it really wasn't a good idea to to do too much driving that night. In other words, there was no way I was going to drive two hours home through rush hour traffic on the DC Beltway, get there when the meetup began to pick up a few things and meet up with Jason, and then drive two hours back …

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Two warmup posts before I try to set my head straight.

I'll spare everyone my usual apology for not posting anything lately and jump right into a catch-up post as a warmup for a longer, hopefully more interesting entry later today.

First of all, earlier this week a cultural icon passed - Bettie Page, queen of the pin-up, died of pneumonia at the age of 85 following a heart attack suffered earlier this month. Page was well known for her line of 'naughty girl' photographs, which featured nudity, lingerie, implied lesbian trysts, and even light bondage (the latter two scandalous for their time). Page stopped modelling in 1957 and all but disappeared …

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This was potentially the geekieest bachelor's party in recorded history.

I roused myself from bed far earlier than I'm accustomed to on Saturday morning, around 0800 EST5EDT or so, for what is traditionally the most memorable event prior to one's wedding.. the bachelor's party. While most of the groomsmen weren't able to attend on Saturday due to their lack of proximity (most of them live at least one state, and usually more than that away from the DC area), the festivities were well attended by close friends from nearby. Shortly before 0900 local time most everyone had assembled on the doorstep: Jason and Jarin arrived first, followed by Grant and …

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Slight change of plans this weekend.

Last weekend wound up a bit in the air due to an emergency at the last minute - one of Lyssa's relatives died unexpectedly and the family was hastily reconvened for her funeral, which was held on Saturday. because I'd been on the road the weekend before, I didn't have to make the trek back to Pennsylvania, much to my relief. Grant picked up Lyssa sometime on Friday while I was at work and returned to their homestead, which left me with some time on my hands. The first thing I did was move my car maintenance appointment back to Saturday …

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Hot, humid, and bored.

One thing about writing posts with Google Docs: You can't divide posts into a header and the part-behind-the-cut with it.

With the advent of June in the DC area comes summer, and temperatures that one would expect of the South: hot, sunny, too damned bright, and damned hot. If you factor in the high humidity which tends to come with summer, call it "hot enough to not want to get out of the shower, let alone leave the house" and you've got it right. Temperatures on Friday were around 100 degrees Fahrenheit if you factored in the humidity (the 'heat …

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