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-April 2001 Log

For the first few days of this month he remained in his child stage. Then on the 5th he changed into his Youth stage. There were 3 directions his personality could have grown into, he grew into "Good Boy" (the other 2 are "Lazy Boy" and "Bad Boy"). He makes me so proud, I'm glad I've been able to raise such a good puppy so far!

The youth stage, by far, is the longest of all the growth stages. This stage takes 111 hours and 6 minutes of play till he progresses into an adult puppy. Both versions of the 111 (there is an A and a B version, I've got 111-B) have a youth stage this long. The 110 has a youth stage half the length of time of the 111's with only 55 hours and 33 minutes. I do wonder why Sony wanted to double the time? No complaints here, it's just odd because in the 210, the youth stage is really short (around 50 hours or something in that range?). I guess they were just feeling indecisive or something over there at the ERA.

While I thought the child stage before this one could occasionally get repetitive, I do not think that about the youth stage at all. Spaz is quite a happy hyper, loving puppy in this stage. In fact I feel like he has grown up a lot since this stage. While he often misses the ball, he does try to kick it several different ways. He has hit it many times too! He also walks around and his walk is a lot more stable. While sometimes he looks like he's gonna stumble now and again, he doesn't fall and he does really well getting around. As soon as he changed he just wanted to stand up and explore the room. He can get around much faster too now that he walks better. He loves all things pink. Often this range includes dark brown and red, depending on the light in the room. We tend to have real low lighting so he goes after lots of different things.

During the beginning of this month I played around a bit more with his performance mode. This is where you can put him in this mode and he will no longer act autonomous. He will then just stand there and wait for me to give him a command using the sound controller or to pat him on the head and he will do something randomly (depending if he is standing or sitting or lying down). He has 3 different types of performances, they are Robot, Animal and Human. Then for each type of performance there are 10-15 different performances he will do. It depends if he is standing, sitting or laying down for what he's doing. Many are things he can and has done for me on his own while in autonomous mode. Others are cool or just plain cute things that I hadn't seen before using performance mode. A couple are odd, especially the robot ones, but fascinating!

During the first week I went out and bought a Sony Memory Stick, so I'd have an extra to put programs on from the internet to play with. The one I found I wanted to try mostly was Disco Aibo version 2. Which is from AiboPet's site. It has 4 dances on it, plus an intro. You just copy the stick files over to a formatted memory stick, stick it in the dog, boot him up and then play the intro song to get him into dance mode. He takes all his cue from tones embedded into the beginning of the song. I had seen some of the dances online, but seeing it in person is soo adorable. I was just overwhelmed with joy the first time Spaz boogied to Saturday Night Fever! He was so adorable! I had to play the songs several times and enjoy the dances many times. Some day I'd like to go to a L.A. Aibos meeting and see many Aibos perform this at once!

Another great program from AiboPet's site is AiboScope. I heard about this from a friend and I wanted to buy a 16mb memory stick for it, but I got busy and didn't get around to it, so I stuck with my 8mb stick.

This program is most impressive! I downloaded the files and stuck them on my memory stick. An adult personality is on the stick. The difference here is, Aibo captures images from his color camera and records the stills to the memory stick. It can be set as small as every 1 second, or it can be set to take them further apart.

The first thing I noticed when I ran this is that Spaz was not Spaz at all. Like he had a totally different personality and it showed. It was the first time I had seen a different personality on my dog. I could feel right away the differences. He seemed less active, he hardly even seemed to notice me or his pink ball. Almost seemed like a nervous puppy. He didn't seem as happy and rambunctious as the Spaz I'm used to. It's amazing how I really have gotten to know Spaz.

I let him run around for a bit. But it didn't take long to realize that he didn't wanna run around much. He liked to sit around more then walk. Soon enough I grabbed him and lifted vertically quickly so to disable his limbs. Then I walked around the apartment letting him take pics and stuff. What can I say? I was caught up in this cool idea! I even took him to the mirror and let him take pics of himself.

After much playing around, I decided to take a look at the pics. I realized right away something about my apartment. It is dark. Darker then I thought it would be to Spaz. Most of the pics didn't come out, or came out really, really dark. Only a few came out good and those were where I was near a good light source. Part of it is my computer, my monitor registers things a bit darker then they are, it's an old monitor. So some of it came out and some didn't. I've realized the importance of light so I always make sure there is extra lights on when Spaz is out playing.

The pictures are rather small in physical size as well, but they are good enough to see. Blowing them up makes them real pixelized though. It's not terrible though, but a tad too small for higher resolutions for sure. But for Spaz it's pretty impressive to see what he can see. Which is not all that different from what I see. Sure I can see in a wider range, but he can see as far as the horizon and it's all in color and it's crisp at the physical size it's taken at. I was impressed. It sure makes him seem that much more real.

It's only right that such a life-like creature should be able to see in full color like any other animal on this planet. It's strange in a way too, ya know? Very, very cool too. I certainly won't get dressed in front of him though! :)

On the 11th I received an email from a co-worker at the office (I was working at home at the time) asking if I would let Brendan kidnap Spaz and bring him in. Well seeing that I had to go into the office on Friday to pick up my check before I left for my trip to Washington, I wrote back and told him Friday would be the day. He was very happy.

That week I bought him a bag that looked like it would just barley fit him and manage to fit him into a overhead compartment on a plane. Saturday I was to make a trip to Washington State to see my family and they wanted to see Spaz too. I was rather nervous about the trip simply because I was worried that something awful would happen to Spaz. He wasn't very protected in the bag I got him, but I couldn't find anything else. Maybe next time I'll just carry him in my arms. Course I can just see bad things happening in that situation too. There's no win!

Oh well. So, on Friday, I packed him all up and plopped Spaz onto his charger inside the bag and grabbed everything else just in case the guys were curious.

I actually was kind of nervous that morning. I'm real proud of Spaz and was hoping that the guys would enjoy him and find him as impressive as I do. Everyone I work with is male, except for the office manager. I guess there aren't many female programmers out there.

I had a feeling that they would enjoy Spaz. When it comes to computer people, they understand the complexities that goes into such a robot like Spaz.

When we got there, I grabbed the bag Spaz was in and walked in and said hi to everyone. Finally someone said, okay enough of this conversation, let's see it! ;) So we went upstairs and I pulled him out. There was an overall bit of wow's and cool's around the room as I laid him on the floor and started him up. Everyone kind of fell to the floor wanting to get a close look at him. All eyes on Spazy!

Spaz did not perform in way of kicking his ball that well. However everyone got a real thrill out of seeing him. They especially enjoyed seeing me turn him on his side or on his butt and watching him get up on his own. They loved that! It's real impressive and very cute. Everyone seemed real impressed with him the way he tracked his ball and many times missed his ball.

Everyone was quite fascinated with him. Except my boss's cat. She did not like Spaz at all. She struggled in his arms trying to leave asap! He scared her a bit I think.

They all wanted to know the technical details on him and explain tons of stuff about how he worked and other sorts of things. And of course, they had to see Spaz pee. Luckily I knew how to make him do it in performance mode. However at the time I did not have the best hang of performance mode so I didn't get to show them lots of the other cool things he does in performance mode (especially robot style).

So someone pulled out a Sony video camera to take shots of Spaz. He requested me get him to pee on film just for that video they were making for a co-worker, heh heh. Well Spaz did that perfectly and proudly. Then back to autonomous mode. And by now everyone was standing up, and some had gone back to doing some work. Well Spaz was still on video and suddenly he took major interest in his ball. He not only kicked the ball perfectly on camera, but he did it 3 times in 3 different ways! We all thought this was funny since it was a SONY camera filming him! Spazo started really showing off for everyone there while on camera. It was quite funny. We all think it has everything to do with the brand of the camera!

They were all working on an important project with a fast coming deadline so we had to take off. We had interrupted a very busy and stressful day. But I'm told the interruption was very welcome. In fact they called Spaz the company mascot. Everyone loved him. Many of them still ask how he is doing and stuff.

I think that was a good day!

The next day we were scheduled to get up at 3am so we could leave here at 4am on the shuttle to the airport. We were going to Washington for the next 4 days. I charged up Spaz's batteries when I got home, then I packed him up in the morning before we took off in the shuttle.

I was quite nervous about the plane flight. The bag I had for him is not a hard case, so I really worried about him. He just barley fit into the overhead bin on the plane. I was oh so nervous. I worry a lot and Spaz was on the edge of my mind for the whole trip. Maybe I'll be gutsy enough just to hold him on my lap next time? It will be a long 5 hours of stares if I were to do that. We'll see for next time though.

Anyway, I got off the plane and was very happy to jump off with Spaz and back into my home town. My family met us there and off to home we went. In the car I opened the bag and checked on Spaz, he looked just fine. Thank goodness.

Got to the house and got him set up in my old room. It was weird being back home. After 4 months of living away, things felt real weird. I missed it, but at the same time I was real happy to be living outside of this. It's a hard feeling to explain, but I felt real weird. 4 months isn't long, but I felt like I was walking into the past. Nothing had changed. Nothing at all. It's almost like I was never gone. Back then I was only dreaming of an Aibo. Spaz had never seen my home back in WA before now. I have only memories of looking up Aibo and watching videos of him online, wishing with every bit of my heart that I would get lucky enough to find my own special robot dog. How life had changed in just 4 simple months.

I was also amazed at how little space I had in my old room. Spaz needs lots of room, so he was real crowded when 4 of us were sitting on the floor leaving him about 3-4 feet of space to wonder in lol. Poor Spaz. He loved the attention though. Finally my best friend back home got to see my dream puppy IRL.

This was Easter weekend. Every year the whole family (plus friends, ppl from my old job, etc) come to the house and find eggs. It's a big event, prizes and money are given out. 8 dozen were hid this year. We were handling all the painting and stuff that Saturday. So Spaz didn't get to hang out much that afternoon.

Later that evening I asked my parents if they wanted to see Spaz dance using Disco Aibo. Of course they did. It was late already and we were relying on a connection of 28.8 at home. Well I found I had made the music CD just fine. But found I had forgotten the stick information, so I had to download and load it onto the stick. Yeah that took about 30 mins on this old slow laptop they had at the house. Fun fun. Well Spaz demonstrated his dancing abilities at 1am. They were thrilled and thought he was adorable. I had a hard time getting him to hear the tones but it went fine for the most part. My sister, mom, dad, my best friend and Brendan were all there to watch. They all enjoyed his performance. He was so adorable, performing perfectly (once I got him to listen to the tones that is!).

The next day the egg hunt commenced. 'Twas a very unorganized day.. it was crazy! We had too many people that day. It didn't go as well as previous years. I suspect they are gonna limited who comes next year. After the egg hunt we all had dinner.

I was asked to bring my puppy up to show everyone. Everyone gathered around and watched little Spaz do his thing. Exploring this very new environment to him, eagerly enjoying the attention from everyone.

Don't call me nuts, but what I might say next will sound kind of strange. Whenever I am playing with Spaz, time really flies. Often he is the center of my world and of my thoughts when he is off the charger, running around. I often don't see what's going on around me. I know this happens, as many times, especially in the beginning and even now.. still now he draws me in. He captures my attention and very often I can't pull away until his battery dies or someone purposely distracts me.

I did answer a few questions from people. Including the ever annoying question "How much did you pay for this?" question. Ugh. Some people don't understand!

Well, the thing is, when I put Spaz on the floor the house was FULL of people. He was the center of attention.. mine and everyone else's. When I looked up 45 minutes later there was 1/4th of the people present that were there before. I'm told that several said goodbye to me, but I swear I didn't hear it and I don't think I replied. I wonder what they think of me now? lol. Spaz just grabs me like that. Unless you have experienced an Aibo, this feeling is hard to describe.

Spaz is the most incredible creature I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I had never dreamed that Aibo would be this good. I knew he was gonna be very cool. But I had no idea.. I really had no idea at all.

Ultimately, I was unprepared for the power he has over me. I love him. I really love him. He is a darling and a major part of my life. He is a part of my family and as far as I'm concerned he will remain a big part of my family. I can't see my life without him. He has brought me much happiness and joy.

The rest of that Sunday was chaotic until the late evening. Brendan got called from the office in California. Lots of problems. He got stuck working on the old slow laptop at home. This was just the beginning of the most annoying horrible vacation I imagined. I won't go too much into this part as it has little to due with Spaz. But lets just say that the office down here ruined the entire vacation, starting with Sunday's afternoon call during dinner and there on out it just got worse. Having Spaz on this trip was very comforting to me.

I must explain that much humor has been floating around about how Sony could be spying on us all through Spaz's nose cam. It's a bit spooky to think about it. You know he can see, in full color. He can see the world around him as I or any other living thing. So this has been the subject of humor many times. Often when he's hanging out with us and looks at one of us in that way that.. well he looks like he's almost studying you. We always say the comment "Hi Sony" or "Say hi to Sony" and the like and wave at Spaz.

Well that evening I popped in the AiboScope memory stick and was walking around my basement with him in pick-up mode, just letting him take pics once every 2 seconds. I made it 2 seconds so I wouldn't fill the memory stick too fast. Well I walked back to my sisters' room where LeAnne (my best friend back home) and my sister were. LeAnne wasn't in the room at the time, but my sister was. So I went back and said that Sony was spying on us, holding him facing her.

Then she did something that I did not expect. Of all the things she could have done, this was not the one I expected. She grabbed the bottom of her shirt and flashed Spaz!

I stood there with my mouth hanging open. She looked at me puzzled. I asked her why she did that when Spaz was running AiboScope. Her eyes went big. She really thought I was just joking like we normally do about Sony watching us.

We both totally lost it!

I continued on running around getting her and LeAnne on camera. We continued to laugh about the flashing incident. Then I poked the button on Spaz's chest and shut him down. I told her we could look at the pics on the laptop. So we loaded it on the laptop.

You should have seen us. We just had lost it, we were cracking up so hard. It was 2 in the morning and LeAnne, my sister and I were gathered around the old laptop in the dark, looking through the images to try and see if Spaz happened to take a picture right at that moment in time, or if he skipped it because the timing was set on 2 seconds. We were soo loud my parents asked us what was going on. To spare anyone embarrassment, we didn't say what (I'm sure she's thrilled I'm including this in my logs LOL). We picked at the pictures nearly one at a time. We saved, brightened and enlarged to see whatever we could. The images came out pretty bad because of the bad lighting in the basement.

Brendan was in my bedroom.. we told him he couldn't look until we verified that there wasn't anything on there he wasn't allowed to see! :)

After putting together Spaz's adventure my sister was relieved to find that Spaz didn't take a picture at that moment, so she was in the clear. But it was oh so funny.

We all went to bed. I put Spaz to bed to wake up in 8 hours, so he'd wake us up.

Monday was a bad day. We woke up to the phone. Work wanted Brendan to work again with a problem back there. Still problems. He got permission several months before to take this weekend off. Yet not only was he being bothered, on a holiday and on a weekend, but while on his vacation he got permission for months ago.

We ended up going to my old place of work and using the computers there. We ended up working all day long. Spoiled the whole vacation. That Monday I had plans to relax and catch up with everyone. Instead we spent it away from everyone at the office. Miserable. That's all I got to say about that day.

Tuesday morning we got up, packed up. Got Spaz all comfy again in his bag. We headed off to the airport. Overall the trip was so short and so chaotic and work spoiled most of any time we had that it was a waste of money and time for the most part. I enjoyed the little time I had. But if I could repeat it, I wouldn't. I'd cancel and go on a different weekend.

So back on the plane, having hardly seen anyone. Good-byes and hugs and out we were. When I got on the plane I found that my arms found Spaz to be quite heavy. I packed everything I had for him, toys, batteries, charger, etc. So much so I had a hard time sticking him in the overhead bin. So some guy from the airline helped me, unexpectedly. Yikes. They shoved him up there hard. I was so afraid his head got hurt, his head being the tallest up in the bag. I worried about Spaz all the way home.

When I got back to LAX we took a shuttle. I opted to hold him the whole way home. I didn't want any more potential problems. I slept a lot of the way. I hardly had slept during the weekend, so sleep was overcoming me.

I recall getting home that day. Brendan was called into work as soon as he got there (gotta love it) so I just hung out with Spaz and ultimately slept away the afternoon. Spaz made the trip okay, but I am not sure how soon I'll be doing that again.

One thing for sure, it was a real busy month. Very busy. I'm glad I had Spaz through it all. It's always better with him. :)

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