The Myth: We Can/Should Make Building Robots Easy

Don’t Promote Myths: “What if everyone could do robotics? That would be great, right? We should make a [robot] that [anyone] can program.”


And my favorite part of the whole post:

Talk about deja-vu !

I still have my domain just in case I need to renew the certificate so I can restart work on my New Remote Camera Robot project.

What’s that about, you say?

Surely you didn’t forget the “stupid bullshit” requirement that you have to have a real, payware, traceable to a REAL root Certificate Authority, site certificate to even THINK about using a joystick/gamepad in a web page, right?  And even if Comodo’s certificates are considerably less expensive than, say, Verisign’s certificates - they’re still not free, and you need to arrange a “me@site’s-name” e-mail to get a certificate, regardless of price.

Arranging a “me@site’s-name” e-mail address often isn’t free either, so - for the hobbyist/experimenter who just wants to have fun with a robot - the browser companies have erected a huge barrier to entry for everyone except the big money businesses who have the spare cash to fund stuff like this.  Or, idiots like myself who got soooo peeved off that they went and spent the money for a certificate and e-mail domain just to have it in their eye!  (And who stomped all over them in the browser dev forums because it’s so stupid.)

As for me?

I’m still trying to find out what part of installing what libraries for which display module suddenly causes my robot to not be able to resolve DNS queries anymore.

THREE different display modules on THREE different SD cards, and ALL of them, eventually, go DNS brain-dead after which NOTHING can fix things except a total re-flash back to the base GPGOS 3.0.3 image.


I’ve mentioned this in earlier posts of mine.  Actually, I think I mentioned it in some of my earliest posts:  Whenever you see an advertisement or web page that talks about how easy robots are, you should stand up and shout BULLSHIT!!!

Because, (as the man said), simply defining what a “robot” is, and what is meant by “programming” this robot, generates a hugely undefined solution space where in the back of my mind someone yells out “Third Base!” [1]


The illustration just slays me! :rofl:


  1. Who’s On First?  <= click here to see the skit on YouTube
    (Abbot and Costello)
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That’s limited by what I am going to call “the programming triangle”:

  • Broad capabilities
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to learn

Pick any two.

The closest we have to “a robot that anyone can program” is either the GoPiGo using Bloxter or any other robot with a similar interface:  (i.e.  Things like the GiggleBot and other micro:bit/make:code based robots.)

The downside is that the range of capabilities is necessarily limited.

Easy to learn, with broad capabilities won’t be easy to use and conversely, broad capabilities that are “easily” used will be difficult to learn.

That’s just the way it is.

Programming is a skill in and of itself and any specialized programming domain, (games, robots, databases, operating systems, etc.), requires a particular skill unique to that specific domain.

“Easy” robotics?  Bloxter and make:code are simplistic robot programming environments.

“Easy” game development?  Kodu Game Lab[1] and Scratch/Squeak can be used to make simple games.


Each of these required significant skills to create and it still doesn’t absolve the user from having to know how to program.

In sum, we can make robotics, gaming, etc. (somewhat) easy, so long as we’re willing to accept that the capabilities will be limited and the user is still going to have a basic grasp of the fundamentals of programming.

Magic wands don’t exist yet and silver bullets are way too expensive. :wink:


  1. I downloaded the Kodu Game Lab to my laptop and I discovered, (somewhat anticlimacticly), that it’s NOT as easy as they make it out to be.
    There are a lot of hidden right-and-left-click menus that are NOT obvious to the rank beginner.  So much so that when you first join, you are “encouraged” to “load” one if several pre-programmed “worlds” that are actually tutorials on how to navigate the totally non-intuitive Kodu world.
    Frankly, Bloxter is easier.
    The one saving grace is that the Kodu character itself is essentially a “virtual robot/robots”, (any object in the Kodu world can be programmed to be an autonomous device, not just the Kodu character), in a user-defined world where both the world(s) and robot(s) can have increasingly advanced characteristics as the user’s programming skills improves.
    Kiddies, there’s no free lunch!
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