Homework? RoboCup Rocks!

This is what they call “homework” now days!  .. Lego Mindstorm NXT 2.0. WHAT?!!!
I had to do my homework first before I could play with my static Lego blocks. Kids today get to not only build cool Lego robots for homework, they also get to program up these fully autonomous Bots and pit them against others in a competition called RoboCup Junior. There are three disiplines: dance, rescue and soccer. My youngest daughter and two of her school friends entered the “RoboCup Junior Regional Competition” held in Hobart on August 21, 2011.

Programming RoboCub Bots

This is my daughter, making programming adjustments to the Bots between rounds, remaining calm despite the pressure and mayhem surrounding her. Yes, she has a broken arm. The Princess Street Primary School girls had only been working on their Bots for eight weeks – my daughter was out of action for two of those weeks. They were the youngest team in the entire competition and the only girls team to compete in the soccer discipline. Most of the other teams were from High School, some even College with members who could have up to two years experience each – a total of possibly six years for a team!

Game-on, the Semi-finals play-off.

There were fourteen teams competing in the Junior Soccer, the girls remarkably got right through to the Semi-finals, the picture above shows them playing the eventual first place winners from Hutchins, whom they actually DREW with even after over-time! The much older boys – and dare I say experienced looking at their Robots – got through on a goal count-back from the previous rounds.

RoboCup Junior Southern Tasmanian Regional presentation 2011

After a very close and exciting Finals match with the lead changing several times, the girls were unfortunately defeated to earn FORTH PLACE, but were mistakenly presented with Third place due to a mix up. An absolutely astounding result given the circumstances, well done girls!

The girl’s teacher could clearly see my enthusiasm as I helped over the day and asked me if I’d like to mentor the girls for the up-coming “RoboCup Junior Australia” National Competition, being held in Hobart on September 24-25.

I had been interested in getting an NXT Robot for years, but didn’t know that much about them and thought of them more as an expensive toy at around $400 for a kit!
Well, now that it’s for my daughters education, what better excuse 🙂

As the teacher has gone away, we’ve been lent two NXT kits to take home and “play” with during the school holidays, as the Nationals are only 4 weeks away. The rules state a mentor (me) can’t help build or program the competing robots and the “teams work is substantially their own”. I intend to learn and build along-side them, but not with them, as they actually know more than me at this stage!

Of course, it’s up to the girls if they want to proceed in the Nationals – I see it as a fantastic opportunity for them to learn from their peers rather than compete, as the aim of the event “is to create an entertaining and educational experience for all involved. To achieve this we all must create a spirit of collaboration, rather than competition”.

More information can be found here: http://www.roboticstasmania.org 
and here: www.robocupjunior.org.au 


For EDGE Agents who check this blog regularly or have subscribed,
here is an EXCLUSIVE reward for your dedication.

A special limited test mission will happen THIS FRIDAY – 26/8.


PURPOSE: Parts will be coming up to test his new G27 wheel which arrived today!
GRID will be played extensively, possibly exclusively.

No other notification will be given for this one-time special event.
Remember, it’s a TOP SECRET test.
Only agents who visit here should be in the know.
Special access code:     User: G27       Password: Theodolite


119819 Mission Debriefing

Parts Raw and Tone frocked up for ladies evening, wearing flowers in our hair, sharing home made Lamingtons, Devonshire tea and Ox tail soup, with a sing-along around the camp fire to keep spirits up due to the lacklustre turn-out.

Well, while some of the above could be true, some of it could be complete fabrication – perhaps the hand sewn floral dresses – perhaps not, only those that were there will know what really happened 😉

Needless to say, we had lots of manly mayhem in GRID – with full damage, collision on, and no driver assists, we all won, lost and some of us DNF, but there were no girlie tears.

After more sing-alongs and sherry around the fire, a bit of a blast at some Black Ops Zombies ensued while Raw downloaded a required update which took too long, so we charged into COD2.

Raw immediately got his eye in Carentan, pinning Parts and Tone down, before jumping to Tunisia, where just 3 points separated us at the end of the round! R, P & Tone, letting the guests win to keep them happy 🙂

Thanks fella’s for what seemed like days of fun!

Pencil in September 2. Not sure why, just pencil it in 🙂
oh, and Parts said his new G27 wheel is on it’s way, so no more blaming his tool for his hopeless driving 😉


110819 Mission Good for GO!!

That would be this Friday, get your GAME ON!
Busy weekend lined up, but I’ve been catching up on the ZZZed’z this week with some early 12am nights – early for me anywayz and keen for some carnage. Parts has expressed interest, and Wood thru him, so let’s rumble 🙂
Remember the new Asus G73SW laptop – stuttering like a pig in GRID with poor frame rate and not performing as it’s generous specs would suggest it should in the shoot’ems, especially compared to my “old” desktop rig? Quite disappointing as it’s emblazoned with the “Republic of Gamers” logo, I was expecting, well, a little more – apart from it’s massive bulk.

I removed some Asus bloatware first, but not satisfied, researched the bejesus out of it last night, when I stumbled on this lenghty forum:
http://forum.notebookreview.com/asus-reviews-owners-lounges/547044-asus-g73sw-owners-lounge-152.html yep, all the way on page 152 I read this from another G73 owner:
“On a different note, I discovered that my laptop is definitely the victim of CPU throttling when running GPU heavy tasks, like described here:
Running Throttlestop once and closing it fixes it. I remember people complaining in this thread about stuttering, and this could definitely be one cause of that.”

I ended up at this forum post:
and then downloaded that little app called ThrottleStop from here:

As a test, I fired up JustCause2 (upstairs, no wheel) and the difference is REMARKABLE!
Also tested it earlier tonight on battery – no noticeable increase in consumption, so all is now AWESOME .. finally.

Allegedly Asus are working on an official fix after initially denying there was a problem.

:( Mission aborted

Agents were contacted today via txt and notified – way to late – that gaming would not take place tonight.
Sorry guys, lots’a late nights have caught up with me and with Salamanca early tomorrow, it was wise for me to bale, I may have fallen asleep at the wheel – nothing new I suppose, eh Wood ;). Lets just say, both ends of the candle have almost met, by a narrow margin of less than 2 hours one evening and about 2am most other nights this week.

I’ll try to build up the sleep bank for next week, but we do have quite a busy weekend coming up next week, so we’ll see how it goes and I’ll try to give you plenty of warning. Cheers, and good night.

110729 Mission Debriefing …

OK, so what happened last time … it went something like this:

Parts decided to turn up for a change to join Raw, Nadz and Tone.

We arced up the firepot, first, though it wasn’t too cold, but the damp wood eventually provided a pleasant focalpoint for our non-gaming socialising. Once the coals were established, we settled into GRID and covered more races than we’ve ever achieved in a single night in the entire gaming history of the EDGE, or so it seemed, with only a few short breaks to rest our pumped arms from the force feedback frenzy of virtual racing. We covered a massive variety of cars and tracks, my personal favorite: demolition derby!

After a bit of a chat around some freshly added logs, we jumped into COD2 where RAW held us at bay with this stealth, quick reflexes and cunning. Nadz memorably downed him once though with a well deserved WHOOPLAH of shear joy! Go Nadz!

After enough continuous gaming mayhem to develop full blown RSI, we shut down and retired to the dying embers for a final chat before departing into the night.

All round, a very pleasant evening, thanks fellas!