413: New Pet

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New Pet


In this comic, Megan and Cueball make a new pet by putting an EEE PC into a hamster ball, allowing it to roll around.

The Asus Eee PC was one of the first subnotebook computers available on the American market, noted for its small size and coming pre-installed with Linux. With a diagonal size of 11 inches, it would take a big hamster wheel to carry it like this.

Omniwheels are wheels with rollers mounted on the edge to allow the wheel to slide sideways. The wheels in the drawing look more like Mecanum wheels, which have rollers mounted at an angle to the edge. Both Omniwheels and Mecanum wheels are used in omni-directional drive systems, like you would use to drive a hamster ball from the inside.

A Roomba is a self-directed robotic vacuum cleaner made by iRobot.

python is a programming language popular among geeks running Linux. Among other features, it has a large number of easily installed 3rd-party libraries which make it easy to add features to programs. In this case, Cueball is importing the "soul" library to give the new pet a soul.

The title-text refers to the One Laptop per Child project spearheaded by Nicholas Negroponte around 2005, with the goal of building an inexpensive, durable sublaptop that could be distributed to children in developing countries to give them an educational edge.


[Megan is placing EEE PC inside hamster ball. Cueball scratches head]
Cueball: What are you doing?
Megan: Mounting your EEE PC in a hamster ball.
Megan: Well, the TCO of a cat is like $1000 year, so we're saving money.
[Cueball is typing]
Megan: Microcontrollers are all wired up. How's the brain coming?
Cueball: I've taught it obstacle avoidance and blogging.
Cueball: Aww, look, it's making friends with the Roomba."
Roomba: Beep!
Diagram: Webcam, RF links, bearings, omni wheels, magnets, EEE PC, omni wheels, battery
[Hamster ball bounces down flight of stairs]
Hamster ball: Bonk, bonk
Off-panel: Man, I hope it's OK that we're laughing at this.
[Megan picks up ball]
Megan: I think my mothering instinct took a wrong turn somewhere.
Cueball: You mean an awesome turn.
[Cueball is typing]
Megan: Too bad we can't give it a soul.
Cueball: Sure we can.
Cueball types: import soul
Megan: Oh, right. Python.
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Is anyone else tempted to do this for real? Because I certainly am. 23:24, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

Even more possible now with the newer, smaller raspberry Pi computers. Someone PLEASE do it. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

NEW PROJECT. Alexbuzzbee (talk) 14:36, 16 March 2015 (UTC)
Here is the comments section on the xkcd site: http://blog.xkcd.com/2008/04/22/hooray-robots/#comments (Sorry. Don't know how to make it a link.) There are a number of proposed designs and several readers who claim to be making one. There are 248 entries so I only skimmed over them. ExternalMonolog (talk) 20:48, 21 January 2014 (UTC)ExternalMonolog
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