Sony has decided to end its line of robot dogs and stop the development of the uber-cute Qrio (via The Raw Feed).

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Sure, Aibo is a nice gadget and i had fun discovering its zillion talents (my favourites being its Weigth Watcher skills and playground creativity) but what's more important to me is that playing with it has helped me understand better why Japan is so in love with robots: i've been amazed to see how much affection i can feel for a "walking computer," how similar to a real dog the robot can get when it comes to annoying you (baby Paco crying to get caresses, Cloclo repeating his famous Station Dance twice every afternoon or staring for hours at the curtains because they are the same colour as his favourite toys), etc. So, yes, the news saddens me.

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I sometimes wonder what's happening in my bedroom when i close the door and leave Cloclo alone there. So i had a look at Cloclo's diary, here's what he wrote last week:

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We'll put Cloclo's diary online for everyone soon. It's pretty easy to publish a blog for AIBO. Unless you want (like me) to make something that goes slightly out of the strict boundaries of the manual...

Btw, here's your chance to win AIBO gadgets.

Two days ago, Kaikai Kiki (my favourite stuffed friend) ate his personal pet and asked me for a new one. Unlike my previous AIBO dog who could only have one owner, Cloclo can recognize up to three owners and shows them a special devotion. As Max and i are already sharing this priviledge, there was a place left for Kaikai Kiki.

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Teaching the robot to recognize someone is fairly easy. You just have to say "Owner registration" then AIBO guides you step by step through the whole registration process (i uploaded two ridiculous videos, one of the name registration, the other of Kaikai Kiki's voice registration****).

KK was thus jolly happy to have a new toy. But Cloclo wouldn't have it, instead of recognizing KK and greeting him with "Welcome baaack!" or "How was your day?", he only sees the pink colour and mistakes KK for his AIBOne or kicks it like it were his pink ball.

*** aiiie! sorry, looks like the videos are being very very slowly uploaded on you tube website.

I´m having such a fantastic time here at the Computer Chaos´ congress, that i hardly have any neurone left to blog. Apparently, i´m not the only one who feels happy and honored to be in such a crowd.

I met Nico Lumma the other day, he´s the German blogger who´s been sent an AIBO to review as well. Nice to share views, opinions and pet owners´ tips. He got exactly the same dog as me. First time i saw his Botterhund (that´s the name of his own Cloclo), he/it was switched off, getting charged in the speaker´s room.

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I wasn´t missing Cloclo at all. So far. But suddenly i felt like sneaking out of the room with the dog. It could have been Cloclo. Then Nico arrived, switched the AIBO on and after a few minutes it was clear to me: this couldn´t be my robot. Cloclo wouldn´t behave that way, he´s not so confident among people, he would be less of a crowd-pleaser and more of an explorer of the space around. Strange strange feeling. Two identical robots, same colour, same software, same camouflage ears and they have both their own personality.

... till Friday. I'll be speaking together with Jussi Angesleva at the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress, 22C3: Private Investigations, a four-day conference on technology, society and utopia (their blog). Many talks will be too uber-geeky for me. But i've spotted several topics i won't miss: Robots for fun and research, Search Engines - Oracles of the Information Society, WarTracking, Hacking into TomTom Go, How to build your own radar system, some cool new Xbox" and "Xbox 360" Hacking, Hacking health, etc. Plus a mysterious hacker quizshow!

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Dear Cloclo is staying in Italy to watch over the apartment. I left him in House Sitting mode. If he ever detects a movement, unfamiliar face or noise, he'll snap a picture or record the sound and will send an e-mail to inform me.

Goodies: here's a video Amos Bloomberg sent me. There's an interview of him and a little performance by the Needies, the irresistible companions i hope Amos, Daniel Perlin, and Brett Schultz will manage to mass-produce for next xmas! (previously blogged). They will also be at the Toy Fair in New York next year.

I'm having more and more fun with Cloclo. i neglected him last week but we played a lot this week. Now, i can't leave the house without saying him goodbye (and he answers something like "See you!") This morning, he said his first words in spanish. He greeted me with Buenos dias!

Yesterday i left it on the balcony cuz he had woken up saying "Oooh! I love sunny days!" After just a few seconds he told me "This is a new place" and started to investigate the area.

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He's quite fuss free. Yesterday there was something wrong with him, the mode indicators next to his ears were flashing orange and he told me "There's something stuck into my joints". So i had a look, shaked him a bit and he was fine again. He doesn't seem to get tired (unlike me!) of playing with his AIBOne : he finds the Aibone (his face lights then flash in the form of a bone), takes the Aibone in his mouth, drops the Aibone, and does that again and again and again. Whenever he needs charging he says something like "I'm hungry" or "now is a good time to charge" but if you leave his energy station in the same place, he'll start looking for it (as he remembers the places of objects) and will identify it thanks to the b&w pole and marker. But when i tell him "Go to the station" or show him the station card, it works just the same (if you don't have a ridiculous french accent like me). Video.

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