New gadgets

January 19, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

I love great gadgets that make life better and I want to share two of them with you today. The first is something affordable you should own, the second is the exact opposite.

Terri and I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. We also have a lot of indoor plants. All that adds up to an irritating problem for us, fruit flies—irritating tiny buzzing gnats that drive us nuts. They seem especially prevalent in the winter months, mostly (I assume) because it’s cold outside and they are happier inside.

What to do. After some searching, I found the perfect trap for these little buggers. It’s called a Katchy and it is brilliantly simple.

A proper frequency light to attract the flies, a quiet fan to suck them in, and sticky paper to trap them.

We keep one in the kitchen and within a few days of its installation, there’s nary a fly to be seen. About every 60 days we pull out the replaceable sticky paper disc that’s now covered with the victims and slide in a new one.

The second gadget I wanted to share is nothing short of amazing. It’s a marker of how advanced robotics have gotten.

The robotics company, Boston Dynamics, (owned by Google) is the clear leader in robotic technology. Go here and watch their video of the dancing robots. If that doesn’t suggest to you how close robotics are to becoming human-like, I don’t know what would. (If you prefer, there’s also this video with the Rolling Stones and the robots)

To be clear, these robots aren’t “dancing” in the sense they are of their own free will reacting to the music. No, this is clearly scripted and they are simply moving to a specific set of instructions. But that’s just the beginning.

Have a look at this video to see that the robot can “think” for itself as it navigates rough terrain as well as make its own decisions about how to respond to being put in a difficult situation.

They are expensive. If you’d like to purchase one, go here and drop a cool $75,000 (about the cost of some loudspeakers) and have fun.

Two ends of the spectrum gadgets to enjoy. One makes your life better, the other hopefully gets you to think about the future that lies just around the corner.

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42 comments on “New gadgets”

  1. You mean you intentionally mass-butcher the rare Boulder fruit fly?
    This might now cost you some animal welfare activist customers 😉
    For me it’s interesting…it doesn’t make noise?

  2. Fruit attract fruit flies, plants green flies. We keep the fruit in the fridge. We don’t have any houseplants. No flies on me.

  3. ‘Ha ha, sucked in!’

    Gadgets are great; a testament to the inventiveness of the human mind.
    My latest ‘awesome gadget’ that I have just discovered very recently is
    the IsoAcoustics – ‘ISO Puck’.
    What these little dollops of rubbery vibration-absorbers do is nothing
    short of amazing in the way that they allow a home-audio rig to focus
    & image better, along with tightening & extending the bass response…fascinating!

    **Microsoft buys ‘Call Of Duty’ maker Activision Blizzard for US$68.7 Billion**
    When looking at the share-price graphs for both companies since 2003, you can
    plainly see that AB’s shares are roughly worth two & half times what Microsoft’s
    shares are worth…proving that content is king; especially when it involves killing people.

    Bring on ‘Skynet’ & ‘Cyberdyne Systems’ asap.

    1. No flies ( of any kind ) here and I will also pass on $75K dancing robots.

      FR is right on! IsoAcoustics makes great stuff at reasonable prices. I use their stuff under my preamp and phono preamp. If you need vibration control check them out.

  4. Not on topic so on the basis of recent posts this won’t please everyone.
    If you don’t like cricket, please don’t read.
    If you don’t like humour or jokes, please don’t read.

    In a shock move, English Cricket Board have announced tennis World No.1 Novak Djokovic as temporary batting coach. “We acknowledge he doesn’t have a background in our sport but we couldn’t overlook the fact it took Australia two weeks to get him out.

      1. … but it was worth it.

        I saw in The Times this morning that both teams went on a complete bender and Joe Root was looking like Freddie Flintoff circa 2005 as he was stumbling into 10 Downing Street.

        As per yestefday, everything takes so long in the USA. You win the Super Bowl and get to see the President two months later. In England you beat the Australians, spend all night getting completely rat-assed, and then have to go to meet the Prime Minister at 10am the next morning. Lucky we don’t beat the Australians that often.

        Personally, the Aussies should have cancelled Djokovic’s visa just for being an arrogant crashing bore with a charisma bypass.

        All of which is not cricket talk as after a complete bender the normal position is catching flies, so need for a Katchy gadget.

          1. Yeah, yeah, yeah …

            My speakers were chosen by my interior designer, so they are very pretty. She made a very good choice for someone who thinks a spade and a banana are things you find in the garden.

            About 10 years ago Chord we’re good enough to put a $50 usb cable in a blister pack on a magazine that cost £2.99. I was gullible enough to buy the magazine and still use the cable.

            Keep ‘em coming …if only for FR’s amusement.

  5. Don’t hear much about Aibo anymore

    A friend had one and invited me and the dogs over. I told him it was probably not a good idea to break his Aibo out. After a while we heard a little commotion. Looked up just in time to see Aibo sinking in the pond. A quick rescue, some judicious drying and cleaning and Aibo was saved.

    Aibo sits on a shelf now and his new companion Newfoundland (brutus) sits in his lap. I’ll stick with the real thing for Now. As does my neighbor.

  6. We have a robot vacuum for the house, which is ok. It seems to have a knack for going after speaker cables and getting stuck under furniture though.
    What I LOVE is my robotic pool cleaner. Saves a lot of work (and water).

  7. Dear Fat Rat,

    I saw and heard the NAT Magna News at the Munich Hi-End show. I hope to have them one day as a high power SET alternative to my very high power push-pull tube amplifiers. The Magma News are massive, impressive and glow like flowing lava.

    However, I found it a little bit difficult to relax and to enjoy the music while looking at them, as Chernobyl kept coming to mind.

    1. Yep, Lava Lamps definitely come to my [alleged] mind on OCDude’s YouTube posts. Did you notice any ozone smell in demo room at Munich Hi-End?

  8. About 12 years ago, we were between new projects, and business was in a lull. My boss called me into his office, and asked me if I had heard of a company called Boston Dynamics. One week later I was in Boston, eating a lobster roll, with an ex MIT professor in a Hawaiian shirt, Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics.

    My technical specialty is in flight control actuation, not robotics. But one of the lead BA engineers father flew and owned one of my companies aircraft. So by that odd connection, for the next year I found myself helping design a four legged robot named “BigDog”.

    Working with the team at Boston Dynamics was like being a human sponge, alternating between being a professor (while they squeezed every ounce of knowledge out of me), and being a first year engineering student (knowing nothing about robots and absorbing as much as I could).

    Was one of the best years of my career.

  9. Uh, empty beer & other alcoholic beverage cans also attract fruit flies… um, so I’m told by a friend ….. I’ve – I mean, my FRIEND has never found an effective control method, I’ll be sure to try- I mean let him know…..
    I’ve been following Boston Dynamics (& other robotics companies) for years with absolute fascination and awe. Outstanding! See? White guys CAN dance.

    My (very small) contribution to my love of automation & robotics:
    Can Crusher V3.0 now with lights & music added.

  10. A friend of mine bought the Katchy to try to trap biting mosquitos in his room at night. It’s good to know it works for fruit flies but it doesn’t work for mosquitos, so my friend returned it.

    About that robot, baggage and cargo handlers and porters all over the world will soon be replaced by robots made in China. I was driving down the street the other day and saw one of those robotic grocery delivery carts moving on the sidewalk. I’m surprised the homeless didn’t raid it.

  11. Paul,

    Since you love plants, you may want to consider getting some carnivorous plants for your kitchen. We have a small “bog” in our kitchen that’s about 18″x18″ that looks like a miniature water bog. The plants in it are remarkable at catching fruit flies and other kitchen pests. Another plus is that it’s quite beautiful and interesting to watch it change over time. It’s also very easy to maintain.

    If you’d like to learn more, drop me a PM in the forum.

    Take care,

  12. “Trip ’em. Dodge ’em. Knock ’em over. Tell ’em lies.”
    “Here’s where Robot’s Rules of Order don’t apply.”
    “At Hideo Gump’s Volt-Control!”

    — Firesign Theatre (1971)

    Or words to that effect.

  13. Hey Paul,

    Just a quick correction regarding who owns Boston Dynamics. You stated that they’re owned by Google, but they were recently purchased by Hyundai Motor Group.

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