Anymal Uses The Elevator Proving Escape Is Futile

So, what do you do when trying to escape one of our future robotic overlords? Well, I used to think that hitting the first elevator I could find would stop most of the quadruped robotic beasts. But now, thanks to Anymal, I know that I was sadly mistaken.

Anymal at the elevator
Image sourced from provided video

Anymal is the soon to be commercially available quadruped robot from ETH Zurich. The robot is designed to be of service in the industrial environment and bears a resemblance to those four-legged robotic beasts from Boston Dynamics. However, Anymal is smaller as it weighs in at only 66 pounds. The robot is designed to work, and it can carry up to 22 pounds or a third of its own weight.

The battery packs in Anymal give it about a four hour hunting time before a recharge is required, so if you can avoid it for longer than that you might be safe. And since Anymal travels at about the speed of a briskly walking human being you could try to run, but unless you regularly run a marathon my money is on the robot eventually catching you.

Since the current mode of Anymal appears to use QR codes to locate the elevator buttons, it might be possible to remove the codes and leave it stranded on a random floor. That is, assuming you would have the time and could beat it to that location. You could also try marking hazardous locations with the retrieved QR code chart, such as open power conduit boxes (which always seem to be handy in the movies). If nothing else, maybe you can use QR codes and try to communicate with it. I’m not sure how to spell, “We come in peace” in QR code, but at times like this a little experimentation is definitely warranted.

The video below shows Anymal in action, and I think it has been sped up by a factor of three or so.  Still, that does not give anyone enough time to take the stairs, trust me.

There is no word yet on the pricing of the Anymal Quadruped Robot, but I would not expect it to be cheap.

DIY Ice Rink To Spice Up The Season

Well, tis the season, or at least getting really close to it, so why not a DIY ice rink?  While it might not be the most popular DIY project, I bet it would be fun. And according to the company, it can be assembled in 60 minutes, without tools.

DIY Ice Rink

Outside of the kit, the one thing you will need is a large flat area. I should probably emphasize the fact that it needs to be flat, otherwise you will have half a rink. But the kit is supposed to be location friendly, with no spikes or stakes required to put it together or hold it down. The DIY ice rink uses clips and a strap tension system to hold everything together,  so if you can build with Lego and put on a belt you should be good to go. Of course the water, once it freezes to ice, helps to keep things rigid as well by pushing against the wells and keeping the tension straps tight.

Well, I may have left something out above. You will also need some cold weather to make it work. So people from Florida and California may find that the product has a limited functional application for you. Except, of course, if you have a very large freezer with a large flat surface. If so, this could be perfect for that DIY ice rink you have always dreamed about.

Now, if you want to do it right you may also need some ice skates and a real coffee machine,  a quality one with the eagle on it and valves. After all, if you have your own custom ice rink then you sure can’t skimp on the toasty beverages to keep everyone warm. While you are at it, I would suggest getting some hockey sticks, padding, hockey pucks, and a couple hockey nets. Oh man, this is going to be fun. But the campfire off to the side with the roasting chestnuts and marshmallows on a stick is purely optional, honestly. And if things get really crazy, we even have instructions on how to make your own ice sword.

The DIY Ice Rink comes in a 20′ by 40′ size, and you can buy that from Amazon. There is also a kid-sized 15′ by 30′, and a huge NHL size available on the website itself.

You can find out more about the DIY Ice Rink from the EZ Ice Website.

Microtransactions Are All In For GTA Publisher Take-Two

Back in the old days, before mobile gaming and its always-on connection was the hot ticket, people simply bought a game title and played it until it was ragged. But today we are finding more and more publishers are shifting to microtransactions for their revenue model. Now it appears that Take-Two, publisher of popular titles such as the infamous Grand Theft Auto gaming series, will incorporate it in all future releases.

Gaming Microtransactions

According to CEO Strauss Zelnick, recurrent in-game spending provided over 42 percent of Take-Two’s earnings in the last quarter.  Going forward, it will be even a bigger piece of its revenue model. As Zelnick explains,

We aim to have recurrent consumer spending opportunities for every title that we put out at this company. It may not always be an online model, it probably won’t always be a virtual currency model, but there will be some ability to engage in an ongoing basis with our titles after release across the board

This change in Take-Two’s business model is in line with other changes we have seen of late. The case for a title to be an ongoing revenue stream is a strong one, and it can be argued that this could be a way to keep players engaged for the life of a game while paying for new development.  Zelnick sees this as the case for Take-Two as he says,

The business, once upon a time, was a big chunky opportunity to engage for tens of hours, or perhaps a hundred hours. That has turned into ongoing engagement. Day after day, week after week. You fall in love with these titles, and they become part of your daily life.

Now, with that description, it sounds like Take-Two would be better off with a regular subscription model. But perhaps their research shows that people were more apt to pay for loot boxes and other forms of microtransactions than they were to shell out for a paid subscription. This may make sense, especially if they take the model of a paid game up front with ongoing microtransactions.

The decision to embrace microtransactions by one of gaming’s most popular publishers would certainly seem to be a death knell to the previous gaming model, where you bought the title outright at the start. But when you consider that most large titles have offered paid downloadable content (DLC)  for some time now, perhaps it is not that much of a change. One thing is certain – the days of simply buying a game to play without an ongoing cost to fully explore it are changing.