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A to-do list for open-source robots

Google will sell e-books, but is that a good thing? There's definite potential is Microsoft's Spindex for social networking. And here's what I expect a household robot to accomplish.

Now playing: Watch this: Open-source robots

I didn't show too much enthusiasm for Microsoft's new Spindex project in Wednesday's episode of Loaded. But truth be told, I am cautiously optimistic about it.

Spindex is a social-networking aggregator designed to pull in your Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, whatever accounts in one place. Big deal, right? It's when you mix in the ability to add RSS feeds that I get excited. Throw in the ability to bookmark like Evernote, which is a product that I love, and search with Bing, which I really like a lot, and my interest is sufficiently peaked.

I spend a lot of time in my Google Reader. I also spend a lot of time in my social networks. I usually aggregate those with TweetDeck, which is really starting to poop out on me lately, or HootSuite, which means I have yet another tab that is perpetually open. If I could combine my RSS reader and social-networking aggregator into one place that didn't look like a big, fat GUI mess, I would be so happy!

It all rests on the execution. Resist the urge to make this more complicated than it needs to be, Microsoft. And rush along my beta invite while you're at it.

I am also cautiously optimistic about Google's plan to sell digital books, but here is the thing: Google is first and foremost a search engine. So I trust that if I search for the title of a book, it will search not only its own bookstore, but bookstores across the Web. I trust that it will show me the cheapest place to buy that digital book, not just push its own e-commercial interests, right? I would be sorely disappointed if Google didn't index e-books across the Web.

Now about that Sony Surface competitor--why? The Surface is hardly a success worth emulating. If you want to put a computer into everyday household items like tabletops and refrigerators, why not just use Windows 7, which is already optimized for touchscreen? Why build a whole new computer with its own interface just for tabletops? Who wants this?

And while we're discussing things we want, I have a wish list for the open-source robot project. To the 11 research groups that get to rent the Personal Robot 2, here are some programs you can work on writing for the little dude that would make my life so much easier:

  1. Blow-drying program (Must not tangle my hair like one of those infomercial deals!)
  2. Stovetop-cleaning program
  3. Home-organizing program
  4. Clothes-indexing program (It would automatically clean out anything that I do not wear for more than six months.)

Another link from Wednesday's show:

Ning to be free for educators.