ArmadilloCon 2006: various pictures and the Is Your Science Right? panel
A con-goer named Melissa in the dealers’ room
ArmadilloCon 2006 Fan guest Grant Kruger in the dealer room, in an outfit whose colors match the surroundings so well, it might as well be camouflage.
Austin’s own Robot Group had a booth in the dealers room at the ArmadilloCon, where they displayed some of their projects. I took videos of some of their robots in action.
Here is a robot that draws on an egg.
In this video, a robot, created by the members of the Robot Group of Austin, Texas, draws on an egg. A user can choose from 20 or so simple images, and the robotic pen draws it on the egg. I chose a picture of a saw. It took the robot 2 minutes 21 seconds to draw it, as you can see in the video below.
I also saw this robotic puppy frolicking in the dealer room. I’m not sure if this is Aibo or some other robodog, but it was probably NOT a Robot Group creation.
The robotic dog rolled over on its back — I’m not sure, intentionally or not. It made cute noises, as seen in this video.
A con-goer named Aidan (left) and a writer Rhonda Eudaly at the Fencon party at ArmadilloCon. Fencon is a science fiction convention in Dallas area. Conventions from neighboring cities used to hold room parties at the ArmadilloCon.
Mike and Joe — the sons of the ArmadilloCon 2006 special guest, science fiction author James P. Hogan, at a Saturday night party at the ArmadilloCon.
ArmadilloCon 2006 special guest, science fiction author James Hogan and his son, at a Saturday night party at the ArmadilloCon
A con-goer in a costume of a cloak with stars and a spear
Powerful wizard as he may be, he nonetheless does not have the sixth sense to tell him someone is making fun of him behind his back.
I met this guy in the ConSuite with an iguana on his shoulder. (A ConSuite is a room with food, drink, couches and chairs to relax and have a bite to eat during the convention.) At first I could hardly believe this was a real animal, not a toy or a sculpture, akin to those sold in the dealers’ room. But the guy assured me it was a live lizard. Then, after 5 minutes of sitting statue-like on the guy’s shoulder, the phlegmatic lizard moved its head, and I concluded she was live, after all. She is missing a tail, as seen in the next picture. Her owner said the iguana’s tail burned off when she got too close to a heater. I wonder if, given her temperament, she just could not be bothered to get away from the heat?
So I filmed the creature, just to make sure that her movement wasn’t just an optical illusion. Indeed, if you are patient, you may see her tilt hear head or flap its neck wattles a tiny bit. The 34-second video can be found here:
Iguana from the side
A con-goer in a costume with cat’s ears
“Is Your Science Right?” panel
In the picture below: Kurt Baty (left), Mike Scioli, and Gretchen Phillips on the ArmadilloCon panel “Nanotech, Computers, FTL, and Time Travel: Is Your Science Right?”. Gretchen Phillips is an author of books on Unix system administration and John Quarterman’s wife. Since then I found out there is also a singer with the same name, who also lives in Austin, TX. I suspect they are not the same person.
Fifteen years later, reading my notes from this panel invokes some stirrings of nostalgia for “a simpler time”. You wouldn’t think 15 years is a distant enough past to be viewed as a simpler time, yet here it is. One of the panelist said: “Has anyone taken their pet to a vet lately? Pets have to have a chip injected.” I had already forgotten the time when microchipping your pets was a novelty. And yes, despite the name, this panel was mostly near-future tech-related musings, without any word on fundamental science, unlike what was promised in the title. But the convention panel titles always overpromise.
Then another person said: “It would be good to have glasses with face recognition built in, so that at science fiction conventions, when I see somebody but don’t remember their name, they would remind me the person’s name.” You have to wonder if this person would still say this in 2021, after a year in which we saw how facial recognition technology expanded the powers of police and FBI. This technology was widely used to apprehend protesters in the Black Lives Matter protests and the rioters in the Capitol insurrection. Also, in the intervening years many activists argued that such technologies don’t have any safeguards against stalkers and domestic abusers, thus disproportionally putting women at a disadvantage. One can easily see how facial recognition glasses would empower stalkers.
But all of that still lay ahead in 2006. I hope the same person has rethought their position in 2021.
People were still noting with some surprise that their cell phones were broadcasting their positions, and wondered: “if everybody’s phone is broadcasting, what happens to privacy?” There was some discussion whether everybody will soon be required to let their phone broadcast its position — and that meant, having a phone would be mandatory — because not broadcasting your position would indicate you are a person with something to hide. “Honest, officer, I wasn’t plotting anything, I just forgot to charge my cell phone.”