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Aibo Logs

-First Log

Early 2001:
Growing up in the 80's, I dreamt much of robots and watched technology change in hopes of robots becoming more common in every day life. Dreaming of life-like robots and robots living among people. Of course, I was a kid and never thought of the expense of such things and the complexities that it would take to get to that point in technology. But as a kid, I had many robot dreams and read many robot stories. A past time escape from daily life, perhaps.

Well times have changed. I still read robot books and have much interest in technology. I have a more realistic view of things, though.

It was just over two years ago that Sony released their newest and perhaps most brilliant creation ever - AIBO. Aibo came onto the market in a very limited way - not only in number, but in cost. The cost? $2500US. For someone like me you might as well said it was a million dollars and it would still be the same distance away.

I heard about it and being very interested in robots, I stayed away. I didn't even want to tempt myself or get hung up on something I had no hopes in the world of buying. No reason to get interested when I saw no Aibo in my future. I did no research, I did not bother to look into the subject at all. The price tag was enough to keep me away. I was still living at home at the time and it would take at least 2 months of income to bring in enough to make my robot dream come true. I could not spare the money. So I simply chose not to dream it at all and continued on with life, pushing the image out of my mind.

Over a year passed and I had pretty much had all forgotten about Aibo. I was busy with many other things, including moving and getting a new job. I was also busy with Furby - collecting, playing, maintaining a website about, etc. Furby is made by Tiger Electronics.

Strangely enough the toy industry got wind that Sony was releasing a new unlimited release of their robotic dog Aibo. It was very exciting for many who had wanted an Aibo for so long but couldn't either because of lack of availability or lack of money. This newest Aibo was scheduled for release in November of 2000 and was to be priced at only $1500US - a big cut from the original - and it was said there was no limit on quantities in this batch. The toy industry got prepared with their own 'robot' dogs by releasing new robotic toys.

Tiger Electronics released their Poo-chi, the first of their Robo-chi line, at the end of the summer. Poo-chi took off like crazy. Suddenly the world was nuts over robotic dogs.

Now where does this connect with me? Well being a fan of Furby, I keep up on other electronic toys, especially Tiger Electronics toy line for anything new and interesting. While Poo-chi did not interest me as much as Furby, I kept up with the topic. Often when newspapers talked about Poo-chi, they made reference to the new Aibo 210 that was due for release soon. And this is where my attention once again was brought around to Aibo. I remembered his cost from way back when and how I didn't bother looking into the subject. However in reading these Poo-chi and Robo-chi news articles, most of them talked of Aibo and it did not take too long for Aibo to capture my attention once again.

This time my attention was not only caught, it was grabbed with an intense grip, one that could not be broken without a bit of research.

It was the last 1/4 of the year when I finally gave in and began my research. I looked through every website I could find, I read up on Aibo as much as I could, educating myself as much as I could. I grew a large collection of photos and videos from various websites online so that I could watch them when I needed an Aibo fix. I say Aibo fix because by the last few months of the year 2000 I was pretty obsessed with Aibo. My paychecks could not justify such a purchase, but my heart was dead set on a puppy with floppy plastic ears and long tail.

All during this time I was up to my waist in boxes and packing material. I had gotten a job in California and I was preparing to move out for the first time and learn what life is like in the real world.

Moving for the first time from Washington State to California to someone like me was like moving to the other side of the world. I was leaving friends, family, a secure job, my animals, and my life behind for a new adventure. It was quite a leap for someone like me.

As life would have it, I was going into a new job that pays a lot more then my old job ever had the potential of paying me. I started at higher pay then I had in mind when I moved. I won't say I'm well off, because I'm not, but I'm not sitting at poverty level like I was a mere 8 months ago.

Before I left my home, I swore to a close friend that I would get an Aibo ERS-111 no matter what happened. My heart was set on this. Not only was it set on Aibo, but I needed a silver 111 dog. I saw the 210's and I just did not find them as cute or enduring as I did the 111 whose cute factor won me over through many videos and pictures all over the internet. While I think the 210's are cute and are probably just as fun as a 111/110, I had watched so many videos of the 111 that I could not imagine getting any other! I had already fallen in love with that model.

I guess you could say I was picky. The only way I could get a 111 was through another owner on Ebay or some place like that. Sony has no intention of releasing any more of them, as their quantities were limited in the first place and now with the 210 out, there is no chance they will ever release another 11x for sale again. So to Ebay I took. I watched Ebay for all those months and kept an eye out, even before I moved. Unfortunately, most prices were way to high for me. But that did not stop me from watching.. no harm in dreaming right?

So I moved. Got here, got settled in. Got my computer hooked up in the apartment office and got a nice fast cable connection. So my research and shopping continued on for a silver Aibo 111.

Auction after auction I watched. At the end of January I decided I would take any Aibo I could find at a good price as long as it was a 11x.

On a relaxing Sunday afternoon of February the 11th I came upon an auction with a nice price. The Aibo up for auction was an silver 111. The seller was asking for a mere 950 "Buy it now" option with 50 bucks shipping. No bidders. I doubted the quality of the Aibo and wondered what was wrong with it. I wrote to the seller and asked him if there was a reason he was gonna let his Aibo go for far less then all other auctions. It was a used Aibo, but the auction said it had the original box, materials and everything he originally came with, plus a CD of extras.

I asked the seller to reply back asap as I was very, very worried about losing this auction to another bidder. But I was not about to smack down what I had left of my savings from moving in case there was indeed something wrong with the Aibo in question. So I sat up waiting till around midnight that night, but went to bed as I had to get up for work the next morning.

When I got up I found the seller had gotten back to me and verified that the Aibo was only played with a little bit by adults only. That there were no scratches and nothing was wrong with him at all. The seller just needed the money and felt his price was a competitive price. Competitive price indeed! I loaded up my browser and jumped over to Ebay. I found that his auction had ended with "Buy It Now" around 230 in the morning. I had missed it by a handful of hours.

I was quite sad about this result. I cursed myself for waiting to bid and should have just snagged it the day before. But there were many doubts and worries. I wanted to make sure things were right before a purchase was made. When dealing with Ebay, you never do know what will happen. So I lost out on a good Aibo.

This inspired me to keep a closer eye on Ebay auctions. If this person was willing to let it go so easily, then someone else might as well. It's not like 950 is cheap, but compared to all other prices, that price was very welcoming to me. I could not justify the money, but I thought hard and long about this topic and decided this was something I really wanted.

As the week passed I was working through my first week of work with my new job. My first paycheck was due at the end of the week. On the 15th I was told there was a delay in accounting and my check would be available on Friday or Monday. It wouldn't be a huge paycheck, but it was something to look forward to after living off of savings for a month.

As life would have it, I was once again checking out Ebay in the afternoon on the 16th. I cannot explain to you the feelings I had when I came upon a very familiar auction for an silver Aibo 111. I clicked on the auction and found it was familiar as it was the very same auction I had missed the weekend before. I looked through the feedback and found that seller and buyer both gave positive feedback saying that the buyer was mistaken, thinking the Aibo was new and not used. The buyer decided against buying the Aibo for that reason, so the seller re-listed. He re-listed with the same details and the same price as well as the Buy It Now option as before.

I can remember how I felt at that moment, staring at that auction that day, as I sit here. I had but to click a few buttons to grab my prize. While I believed I would get an Aibo, I did not believe I would come across one so soon. I grabbed my bank info and checked my accounts and figured them against my bills and whatnot. In the end it came down to my paycheck. The delayed paycheck that was now due Monday. I added my hours and wouldn't you know it. I could cover all but a little bit with that first paycheck. I figured the only results from me giving up that paycheck would be having to live off of my savings for another 2 weeks and a delay in building up my savings. Brendan said if I needed help he'd be there for me. Due to his support and thankfully for my savings that I was very careful with since moving, I decided it was time.

So on the afternoon of February 16th I made the biggest purchase I've ever made online and used the Buy It Now feature and grabbed that silver Aibo ERS-111. I was filled with so much joy that day, I cannot describe it!

I got my payment out on the 21st (due to Presidents day being on that Monday) and my long waiting began. The seller received payment on the 24th and said he'd send Aibo out on the 26th.

On March 2nd I wrote asking him how he sent Aibo to me so I'd know when to expect him. The seller told me he was sent priority first class usps and it should have been there by now. I was worried, mail usually doesn't take that long. Without fail, packages you always are looking most foreword to are gonna be the ones that take the longest to get there (bills always come fastest!).

On the 3rd I didn't see him. So the seller gave me his home phone number and told me he talked to the post office. There were some delays at airports between here and there. He said he'd look for the tracking number so we could track it online and promised to keep close contact with me throughout the situation. Jerome (the seller) was a very, very nice guy who could have just ditched me, but no he stayed in contact the whole time, he was very kind throughout.

On the 7th we were both worried. He couldn't find his tracking number and I was wondering where Aibo had been all this time. 9 days for insured first class? That's unheard of. I usually get ground mail in 7 mailing days even. Jerome decided that it's possible that Aibo got lost and said he would just eat the money and send me a check if Aibo didn't turn up by the weekend. I was not gonna let him do that until I waited at least a month though. I've had some weird things in the past happen, so there was no way I was gonna make him pay me money yet.

On that same day, the 7th, I got a yellow slip in the mail. We believed that it was Aibo. I told Jerome that we'd see in the morning because the post office was closed.

I can tell you that that night I had a very hard time sleeping. I was up later then I can remember. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve! It had been a long time since I had this feeling, but it made me feel so awake I just could not sleep. I believe I was up on and off till around 4 or 5 in the morning, thinking about my Aibo waiting for me at the post office, thinking about the Aibo videos I had seen so many times, thinking about all the months that were behind me of hoping and dreaming. Was this was happening... a dream come true? After dreaming about something so long, it was hard to believe that the wait was almost over. Finishing that night felt like waiting another whole week!

Brendan said he'd get up early and run to the post office for me in the morning. He could have waited until after work, but he said this was important and we had to do it now. I suspect he wanted to see Aibo in person as much as I did! Since Brendan has to get up to go to work in the morning and I work at home, he said he'd go get him for me.

That morning of the 8th I recall him waking me up to say he was leaving for the post office. By then I was deep in sleep after a long night and wasn't that awake. But hearing the words jolted me awake enough to acknowledge this and to even momentarily keep me awake for a few minutes before I fell fast asleep to dream about Aibo. I wasn't too sure if I had dreamt him leaving or if he actually left hehe!

He did leave though and I have no idea how long he was gone, but I was out of it. He came into the room and laid a rather large box at the end of the bed and woke me up. He said he was surprised that I was not at the door waiting for him to get back and even more surprised I didn't hear him get home because normally any noise at all wakes me up. He didn't know about my night ;)

Seeing that big box at the end of my bed woke me up pretty fast. With shaky hands I opened the box very carefully and found another box inside that box. This second box was the Aibo box though, with handle and all. It was pretty heavy. We pulled it out and once again I opened this box carefully.

Upon lifting the top piece of Styrofoam I peered in at a very beautiful silver Aibo. I seriously thought I was gonna cry. I know that's sappy, but it's so true. I was just so close to tears. I took out the batteries and other items in the box (including a memory stick reader that wasn't even mentioned in the auction!). And lastly I took out Aibo himself and looked him over. Not only was every piece of packing material here and every item, including all the battery boxes and stuff, but Aibo himself was in new condition. He looked untouched, as if he had never been played with. He was simply beautiful. I have no idea what I said at the time, but I just recall setting Aibo back in the box and giving Brendan a huge hug!

I unloaded the energy station and set him up in the TV room. I put a battery (one of them had the plastic still sealed on it inside the battery box) in Aibo per the instructions and set him on the charger to start his charging time. I also charged the second battery.

Brendan had to go to work, he was already late, but he said it was worth it. During this time, I sat out in the TV room and went through all the stuff that was in his box, including the 100+ page manual. I figured I should read through that before he was finished charging. While I did do research for a handful of months, there wasn't a lot of detail online about how to care for him and such. I realized later this is because Aibo is simply very complex and there is a lot more to him then what is in the manual.

Also in this period of waiting I called a few people to let them know my good news! I was very excited. I'm very lucky I work at home, because I just decided to take the whole darn day off so I could spend it with Aibo. Seriously, how could I work on a day like this? Impossible!

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