back to article I was a robot and this is what I learned

For one brief instant, Microsoft was the good guy. Deep within the often customer-hostile behemoth, left after the arrogance and straight on past the victim blaming is the office of Brian First, with the Microsoft Experience Design Group. Alongside a company called Event Presence, Brian made me feel like a real person, actual …

  1. WonkoTheSane
    Alien

    It happens in SciFi too...

    At the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention, held in London's Excel, one of the 10,000 attendees was there by telepresence drone.

    An American who attends the event every year (it hops at least 500 miles or an International border every year), fell ill at the last minute, so he cashed in his airline tickets, cancelled the hotel room, and rented one of these "Ipad on a Segway" devices for the weekend.

    Apparently the only problem he had at the event was being unable to summon a lift without aid.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only ...

    "Microsoft isn't all condescending endpoint antichrists derisively removing control over our operating systems or calculating manipulators relentlessly trying to drive us into the cloud. Not too far under the surface are good people who are trying to restore a little bit of humanity to those who felt they'd lost theirs."

    If only they didn't make it so hard for us mere mortals to penetrate that condescending, derisive surface ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If only ...

      The workers are rarely the problem - like you and me, they're just trying to get the job done without dissing their employer too much because they have to put food on the table.

      The management and sales people, however, make mob defence lawyers look good by comparison, and sadly, these set the tone and strategy.

      This is, by the way, also why I think it's not right to be abusive to support staff - they're just trying to make a living (but note: support staff, not telesales - my honest opinion of the latter is not that different to that of Microsoft management, and thoroughly unsuitable for publication).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If only ...

        What I don't understand is that people abuse sales staff, but not the people doing surveys who update Experian etc who creates lists for the sales staff to use to call you.

        You can creatively abuse them without being rude. Just answer every survey that calls you up. Tell them that you don't have a budget, don't have any plans etc, and several things will happen. Firstly, you'll stop getting sales calls from most companies as they all get their lists from Experian or similar, and they know it's not worth calling people with "no budget" as they can't spend anything.

        Secondly, you won't get (m)any "random survey" calls from Experian to update your details as you get stuck in the "why call them" list.

        Peace and quiet then reigns forever.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: surveys

          Oh, I've come up with a different way to ward off surveys, and so far I have effectively forced a national telco in explicitly filtering me out of any future surveys because they realised I'm quite happy to follow up, and I just received a mea culpa from another company.

          I *hate* surveys, but it has become the new web disease. Talk to someone on the phone who has your email address for billing - 10 seconds later you get a survey email. Visit a website - tadaa, survey popup. You call a company - before you get to choose anything, you're invited to dial "1" so that you'll be passed to a survey later (don't know what happened there as I never chose that option). And so on, and so forth. Eventually I got so royally pissed off that I started to act and I'm *not* nice if you get me that far.

          When an EU company collect your personal details (in any way, shape or form, and that includes email) and hang on to them, they have to state what they will use your details for and gain your explicit permission for that use. ANY use of that data for purposes other than explicitly agreed with you is classed as abuse, and that becomes actionable by whatever setup you have in your country to handle data protection, provided you have first tried to settle it with the offender.

          My emails or call centre conversations thus simply start with the question when and where they obtained my permission to abuse my personal details for surveys, which invariable seems to lead to escalation as it tends to involve lawyers and worse, a legally enforceable request for evidence they know full well they won't be able to produce.

          Strangely enough, they never seem to go for my offer to do their survey provided I can bill them for my time - apparently they only like to use my time if it's free, so f*ck them.

          Surveys are the new data grab. If can't avoid them, make sure that there isn't a single correct answer on it, if it asks for a birthday make sure you're a minor (which makes the data unusable and potentially illegal) and if you must supply your email address again, use spam@uce.gov.

          Because they're worth it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If only ...

          Tell them that you don't have a budget, don't have any plans etc

          I do the reverse. I look up a major company and grab some board data, and use those public details to fill in the survey, making me a decision maker with a budget. It's great to get invites and goodies, and by giving them my "personal" email address they think they have an "in" for preferential treatment.

          I can BS MBA-speak with the best of them, but I do have to swap out names every so often as you can only keep this up for a few months before they want to visit you in your office, and my Leverage/Hustle skills are not good enough for that.

          Quite simply, it's marketing in reverse..

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does the telepresence device stop automatically if someone is in the way? Can it tell the difference between a throng that will part - or someone on a collision course?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      No and no. That said, there are two cameras on the unit: one facing forward, one looking down at your "feet". It's not all that hard to advance cautiously...but it is still possible to run into people too.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Can it tell the difference between a throng that will part - or someone on a collision course?"

      Nothing that scythe blades on the wheels can't deal with. Boudica should have patented it.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Picture paints 1000 words

    I'm imagining a Segway with a screen stuck on top, and a computer with Skype and a joystick at the other end. Is that accurate?

    Perhaps if they kitted it out with ED-209's weapons and had a robot voice effect button that would help to get past people.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: Picture paints 1000 words

      "I'm imagining a Segway with a screen stuck on top, and a computer with Skype and a joystick at the other end. Is that accurate?"

      Have a look yourself

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: Picture paints 1000 words

        Definitely needs some ED-209 guns.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Picture paints 1000 words

          Definitely needs some ED-209 guns.

          And a *massive* backdoor in the code somewhere (wasn't it associated with Microsoft? In that case that can't be that hard to find). I can't hink of anything funnier than a herde of these things going rogue and giggling maliciously whilst surrounding random people.

          I'd actually pay to watch that when it happens :)

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: Picture paints 1000 words

            Oohh, telepresence enabled flashmob, I like it!!!

            Endless possibilities. Like having 20 or so of them surround The Executive EditorTM when he's leaving the office, and all of them displaying Stephen Fry's portrait.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Picture paints 1000 words

              And far fewer than 1000 words paint a picture.

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Picture paints 1000 words

        Have a look yourself

        Looking at that site, Trevor Potts has grounds to chase them on false advertising!

        "With a top speed over 2 mph, keep up with anyone."

        Didn't Mr Potts say that he couldn't keep up with a certain someone?

    2. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Picture paints 1000 words

      The robot design is, I feel, somewhat lacking. Luckily there are plenty of designs that could easily be copied and which would certainly make the average IT crowd give you a little more space; a Dalek of some description comes to mind.

      As a design for a telepresence robot, a Dalek isn't actually all that bad. Nice stable wheeled platform, nifty excuse for using a synthesised voice instead of a voice link, plus slightly better body language than that telepresence system. With a Dalek, you can at least tell where it is looking and when it is speaking, plus few people would want to get in your way.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Dalek design for telepresence

        Plus you have the laser gun.

      2. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Picture paints 1000 words

        A Dalek would also be useful as an emergency plumber -- well, for any emergency as long as it's a blocked sink, anyway.

        1. Peter2 Silver badge

          Re: Picture paints 1000 words

          Frankly, the design for the Dalek is better than a lot of the stuff out of DARPA for a military bot for CQB. It doesn't require any advanced technology and is easily buildable with existing technology. Just give it a semi automatic shotgun instead of the laser and half an inch of armour. Bullets won't penetrate that, and if used for room clearance then it'd be used at such a close range that using an anti tank missile on it would either take out the person firing it when the warhead went off, or it'd fail to arm in time due to the safeties in the rocket.

          Thanks to building codes making things friendly for the disabled, it'd have pretty clear access to the building as long as you give it a manipulator arm good enough to press buttons in a lift. Then just roll in with the "EXTERMINATE" effect tied to the gun firing. Would be a nasty bit of psyops as well, imagine hearing EXTERMINATE! <BANG, BANG, BANG> repeatedly and slowly moving towards you.

          I can't imagine the BBC being particularly happy with the licensing for this, but if a working example visited their offices I'm sure they'd reconsider their position. Quickly.

  5. monty75

    Brian First

    I had to read the first paragraph a couple of times before I realised it wasn't about rightwing purveyor of clickbait and angry all-caps illiteracy Britain First.

  6. tiggity Silver badge

    Mobility

    If main issue mobility - why not hire a powered wheel chair for the event?

    That way people will (unless they'rereal scum) give way to you as you move.

    Yes it detracts from the "I'm invincible" image, but an image is all that is: People are not perfect, inherently frail & prone to all sorts of age related deterioration

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Mobility

      Lots of reasons!

      You can't take most powered chairs/scooters large enough for me through the airport. Especially if you are heading internationally. Something something batteries, folding.

      If you want to get a powered chair that I could use, it costs about $35k USD, and takes something like 15 minutes to fold. Also, lots of reports of Airline baggage handlers in the US trashing them.

      Powered chairs and taxis don't work very well at all. US ADA regs for very, very narrow chairs; too narrow for me to use. Thus the "wheelchair cabs" (on the exceptionally rare occasion a city has any) don't suit. Manual chairs can be folder and shoved in the trunk of any old towncar, or into the back of a van.

      The majority of vendor parties (or for that matter, hotels!) that I am expected to go to won't support either form of chair. They especially won't have doors wide enough to support non-folding power chairs. If you have to leave something abandoned at the front desk and hope noone steals it, which would you rather a $35k power chair or a $2.5K manual chair?

      Either form of chair adds a crazy amount of hassle to airports, cabs, hotels, events, you-name-it. Now, that said, I have tried the manual chair thing. There is a problem with that too: I don't need one for my regular life. This means that I am nowhere near fast enough or powerful enough pushing that thing myself to keep up with people. (Also part of the reason is my arms are too short for most manual chairs; the wheels don't come high enough and i have to contort weirdly, which reduces power.)

      For some events you could hire scooters/chairs (powered or unpowered) at the event, but not at all events. Even then, these may or may not meet size/weight/whatever requirements of the passenger, and sometimes are only rentable for the duration, not just for the event floor. (Leading back to the issues above.)

      So it's not that events are undoable, it's that the logistics really, really, really suck.

      1. John 110

        Re: Mobility

        Besides, as my wheelchair-using wife would tell you, wheelchairs and crowded halls don't go together. You can't see over people, (you spend the event looking at more groins than you might be comfortable with) the push handles emasculate anyone you reverse into and you can't get close enough to a booth to actually see anything. Oh and it's hard to handle a drink and a wheelchair. She ends up sitting in a corner relying on people coming to her.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mobility

          as my wheelchair-using wife would tell you, wheelchairs and crowded halls don't go together.

          I used to take a pre-teenaged neighbour's son to various events when I was in my twenties. At that time I could give him a piggy back to give him a decent view in crowds, but not a chance of that once he became an adult. It was a very real problem.

          And wheelchairs take up a lot of floorspace when you are trying to manoeuvre around exhibition aisles.

        2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Mobility

          A standing wheelchair might be more practical in an environment where everybody else is standing.

          http://www.gerald-simonds.co.uk/catalog/index.php?CG_ID=13&CS_ID=44

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Mobility

        You can't take most powered chairs/scooters large enough for me through the airport.

        I'd always pictured you as somewhat slim in nature. Now I'm wondering if I should change that to something closer to the rather portly fellow in "Gamer"? (if you're throwing up right now, you know the one I mean ;) )

        Still, if your telepresense was like his, you'd get plenty of attention, and lots of offers (though not necessarily ones you want... )

  7. Chris Evans

    Event capacity?

    Whilst I can see using telepresence units as being a bit more efficient at events (you could log in and start the moment the doors open) there is limited capacity on the event floor[1]. Given the saving on travel and accommodation and possibly more importantly time It would be a sort after resource.

    So I'd expect market forces to come into apply and you'd have to pay to use one or some other form of distributing the limited resource.

    [1] 'Robot wars' could find a new outlet!

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Event capacity?

      What's wrong with paying to use one? I would.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Event capacity?

        "What's wrong with paying to use one?"

        I'd guess it could be cheaper than the alternative of flights, taxis & hotels.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: Event capacity?

          Meals, too. No $50 per person for "Les Foo Foo's 'Death of a lettuce leaf'". You could eat things you bought and prepared yourself.

          1. Gazareth

            Re: Event capacity?

            "Les Foo Foo's 'Death of a lettuce leaf'" is the name of my next band.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: Event capacity?

              I once stayed at a hotel where the most paletable thing on the menu was "fried ceasar salad". Intrigued, I ordered it - $40! - and I was, I shit you not, just a small head of romaine lettuce someone browned in a pan, and 20g worth of shredded parmesean cheese sprinkled on top.

              I was not impressed.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Event capacity?

                'I once stayed at a hotel where the most paletable thing on the menu was "fried ceasar salad".'

                A few years ago we stayed at one of the chain hotels near Kings Cross. The end result was an email to them explaining why their Caesar salad wasn't.

              2. Kiwi Silver badge

                Re: Event capacity?

                I ordered it - $40! - and I was, I shit you not, just a small head of romaine lettuce someone browned in a pan, and 20g worth of shredded parmesean cheese sprinkled on top.

                Some of my friends wonder why I prefer the likes of McDonald's over "fancy" restaurants. I think you can figure out the answer...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "... for the hour or so I spent trying to follow Phoummala around ..."

    So, you were stalking her then?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Sort of. I ineffectually tried to stalk her. Then I'd lose sight of her. Then she'd appear out of a portal with that frown. She'd tap her foot in an exasperated fashion and shoo me along in the direction she was wishing to travel.

      I think saying I was stalking her implies a level of success at following her around that is completely unwarranted. :)

  9. Mark Walker

    Best article on El Reg in a long while

    Thanks Trevor, I really enjoyed the vivid description of your experience

  10. bigphil9009

    Brilliant Article

    Trevor, that is a quite brilliant article, at once revealing and humanising, which is quite a feat in an article essentially about non-human interaction. We've clashed on these pages before, particularly around that ol' "spinning rust" thing, but let's let bygones be bygones and I wish you well on your adventures with this technology - will you be attempting to use telepresence at other events too? Further follow-ups on this would be very interesting!

  11. theOtherJT

    Fascinating read.

    Do you think the problems you encountered were more technological (the machine not being fast/manoeuvrable/tall enough to keep up) or human (people being dicks because you're "just a robot") and if the problem was more down to people being, shall we say, unhelpful, do you think they'd be less likely to be discourteous to the thing if it were faster/more manoeuvrable/more imposing rather than looking somewhat like someone had glued a circa 2005 LCD monitor to an upright vacuum cleaner?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Fascinating read.

      So, this comes in layers.

      First: the robot is plenty fast. It is able to go probably 5x as fast in a straight line as I was using it. The problem isn't the raw speed of the device, but the constant start/stop.

      I think that better algorithms could actually help this. A more advanced unit could handle the start stop better then a human, and perhaps maintain a better long-term speed than manual driving could. You plot the course, use the UI to show the robot how fast you WANT to go, and it could then do its best to start/stop and/or navigate around obstacles. Here, technology can solve part of the problem.

      The second part of this equation really does involve humanizing the robot. The robots need to be more "Android-like". We've had plenty of research to show that people can form emotional connections will all sorts of robots, from robotic garbage cans to semi-autonomous receptionists. The key is to make it approachable. Cute and non-threatening helps, but quirky helps too.

      I think the hardest part is honestly that the robot has a human fact on the screen whilst traveling. If it didn't, if it had an animated robot face during traveling, it might actually elicit more sympathy. (The face would suit the body, and we are less disconcerted by that.)

      More research would help here. I hope I get the chance to help do some of it.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: Fascinating read.

        Possibly make the body of the telepresence unit slightly more customizable? (i.e., the ability to change the color of the unit via LEDs, etc.) possibly the ability to swap the outer shell might be cool; (i.e., for a sci-fi themed convention, put dalek shells on them, or some such.)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fascinating read.

          "Possibly make the body of the telepresence unit slightly more customizable?"

          Fit it with a cattle prod to make them move out of the way?

  12. DougS Silver badge

    It can never succeed beyond the novelty stage

    If you get to the point where 5-10% of show attendees are using one, it won't be a novelty any longer, they'll just be annoying for most who are there 'in the flesh'. Heck, based on many attendees not getting out of your way, maybe a lot of them have already encountered 'robots' and are past the novelty stage already so maybe even 1% would already be well past the tipping point.

    I would think that trade shows would be less accommodating if they started to be used in any sort of numbers, because what's the point of having a trade show AT ALL if people can attend remotely? It is like having a big virtual hall of video conferences (one per booth or per session, plus ad hoc for people having sidebar discussions) that you can choose to seamlessly switch between.

    How are the conference organizers going to make money (if it is for profit) or create a boondoggle for free travel for the organizers / referees if it is non-profit from a bunch of video conferences? They aren't going to want to see this go past the novelty stage.

    About the only redeeming value of attending a conference / trade show (something I used to do several times a year, but not for a long time now) is that you can basically get a free vacation somewhere nice (and warm if you live where its cold and choose the right one) and aren't expected to put in normal hours of work - or even put in any hours. If you are sitting at your desk 'attending' a conference (whether via telepresence or the hall of video conferences) your boss will probably expect you to be able to check out at a moment's notice if something comes up. And at the end of the day, you will not be in some vacation spot, or getting vendors buying you a nice dinner and taking you to a party with an open bar.

    That 'vacation spot and free food/drinks' are about the only thing that could possibly make up for dealing with travel and hearing vendors drone on with a bunch of promises they can't keep, etc.

    1. ma1010 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: It can never succeed beyond the novelty stage

      Yes, but you're overlooking the fact that it's a matter of preference for many of us. Some people, such as yourself, enjoy traveling. And that's good. Me, I'd rather take a beating than spend a packet on cabs and tickets, not to mention the horror of TSA or whatever gestapo occupies the airports, not to mention the crowds, the l-o-n-g walks (or runs if you're trying to get to that connecting flight with moments to spare because your incoming flight was late), ludicrous prices of "we've got you" food and drinks, lost luggage, the rude wankers you have to deal with everywhere, and all the other "pleasures" of travel. Also, I get claustrophobic and really uncomfortable in large crowds, which I think telepresence would help alleviate.

      There's also business reasons in favor of this technology. Think of the savings in travel costs for a business that's footing the bill for the travel/hotel/food.

      I don't see events going out of style due to this. You'd still have to pay to attend the event, albeit via "robot," so the event organizers can still make a profit. It's also a business opportunity for those providing the robots. You won't get a packet of swag to take home, but that's the only real downside I see.

      There will always be a lot of people who relish travel, and many others may feel that using telepresence is just too "creepy" or just not for them. But for those physically limited or who just really hate travel, something like this could be really wonderful. And the fees for "renting" a "robot" would probably be a lot cheaper than traveling, so telepresence could make it possible for more people to attend an event distant from their homes.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: It can never succeed beyond the novelty stage

        Where did you get the idea I enjoy traveling? Did you miss the part about not having attended any conferences for years? I find they are almost always a giant waste of time, being somewhere warm and/or with interesting things to do was the only benefit but isn't worth the other hassles post 9/11. If I'm going to deal with airports I'll take a REAL vacation where work is the last thing on my mind.

        My point was that conferences will fight it tooth and nail, because the whole conference model goes away. If sales people aren't going to press the flesh, they aren't going to set up a booth to talk to a bunch of robots. And if they are using a robot themselves, they'll just set up a webcast and invite potential customers on their own schedule instead of a specific week someone else has selected. A guy who wants to do a presentation can similarly set up a webcast, what's the benefit of having it matched by a bunch of other guys doing the same with similar topics in a particular week?

        If enough people feel like you do and want to attend conferences or trade shows robotically, you'll quickly find there are none left to attend.

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: It can never succeed beyond the novelty stage

      It seems odd to spend a lot of money and effort to move a videoconferencing screen around a venue when every stand will have a PC that you could already skype to. The robot doesn't provide anything more than mobility since it doesn't offer gestures or contact. It might provide some presence - to get you noticed - but apparently not enough to move other attendees out of the way.

      So it seems interesting in a novelty way, but doesn't really bring any practical improvements. Did you find any advantages over a non-mobile screen, or is it just that at an event like this, the presenters are geared up for a human-shaped visitor ?

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: It can never succeed beyond the novelty stage

        That's a much longer conversation, but really boils down to "the presenters are just not set up for it."

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: It can never succeed beyond the novelty stage

      I was envisaging taking this to the limit. Apart from exhibitors, or at least the construction crews for their stands, everyone attends as a telepresence. It would mean the venue could be in the cheapest possible shed with no worries about Elf 'n' Safety, fire regs, etc. The lower cost would offset the promoters' ability to screw the attendees for extras.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: It can never succeed beyond the novelty stage

        If you're going to reduce the conference hall to a shed, why not go the whole way and reduce it to a virtual space?

        Just wait until the sales people realise that their virtual booth can be as big and flashy as they can imagine!

        1. D@v3

          Re: Virtual booths

          You could have a collection of them, that you could take your time browsing. Collections of text and videos and pictures. You could probably even have several open at the same time, and, switch between them to make comparisons. It would be like a large Interactive Network of sales sites. There could be links between such 'sites' so say a 'booth' selling storage, could 'link' to a booth selling racks, and there would be so many links between these 'booths' that it would end up being like a whole web of sites......

          1. 's water music Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Virtual booths

            there would be so many links between these 'booths' that it would end up being like a whole web of sites......

            I really can't imagine that catching on

        2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: It can never succeed beyond the novelty stage

          The problem with this is that the show floor isn't the only reason people go to conventions. There are the lectures, the hands-on-labs and the parties to consider as well.

          The real advantage is the ability to interact with other human beings in and adjacent to your career path in informal settings. This human-to-human interaction is hard to fully replicate in a virtual setting...although with proper VR, we just might get there. I honestly don't see why a second life-style VR conference wouldn't work, except that we straight up don't have the code written yet.

          Given Microsoft's keen interest...a use for Hololens at last? :)

      2. Jonathan Richards 1
        Joke

        To the limit... and beyond!

        Then, you could make the stands virtual, too, eliminating the need for physical telepresence unit movement, and you'd have... oh! a web-site!

        [Edit: I see that I was beaten to the punchline by several posters funnier than I. Ah well!]

  13. Herby Silver badge
    Joke

    Robots: "Danger Will Robinson"

    With a telepresence droid, I couldn't resist.

    Could happen, you never know.

  14. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Great, realistic article

    When I was a kid I loved computer shows and tech exhibitions. Plus traveling and anything techy. When I finally grew up and got a "real job" and got to go to some of these things, I still had some stars in my eyes. Now, I feel like an old, jaded, wrung-out IT worker. Some tech still gets me excited or at least doesn't fight me. (like Linux, vs. MS's increasingly more complex, ill-vetted, and sometimes incomprehensible offerings)

    I think the novelty finally wore off as I gimped my way through a crowded airport on a damaged Achilles tendon, barely making my connecting flight, in extreme pain. Then 3 days of working to put together a (small) server room with no working A/C in Texas heat. (the equipment wasn't on yet and the A/C was leaking condensate into a circuit breaker box so it had to be shut down)

    There are still some things that get me excited about technology and revive the sense of play that any tech person worth his or her salt needs to learn and thrive in this industry (IMHO), but increasingly insane management and "marketing first" strategies make it increasingly difficult to like what I do. Oh, and Skype sounds like an epithet uttered when something goes badly wrong: "It's all Skyped up now!" While I'm not totally down on that product, Webex still does it better, if less integrated, and Skype is awful for remote sessions, and unpredictable for audio.

    *Grumble* (Maybe I've just had a bad week or two) I'll finish my growler of microbrew and shut up now.

  15. phuzz Silver badge
    Megaphone

    The title just made me think of this song.

  16. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Does this come in a drone version?

    Wheeeeee

    (Has XKCD or Dilbert already done this? Dilbert recently built himself an electronic drone soul. I think it lasted about three days.)

    In either case, I think a water pistol on the device would be sufficient offensive capability. Or more offensive if it isn't actually water. Practise on the cat.

    Augmented reality goggles for flesh people and other drones so that they can see telepresent people as real. Like Pokémon Go with techies.

    As for being groped... I think Stephen Fry said on his "QI" show that he could put off school bullies who liked to wrestle by saying, "Stop! I'm getting an erection!"

    A bit difficult to live up to that when you're driving a cybernaut, but it could have a suitable telescoping attachment. One that buzzes loudly, I think. While you moan passionately.

    Or you could just switch on your electric razor next to the microphone.

    Even if they don't believe it, they're going to be the one who's embarrassed.

    Or, if the person isn't unattractive, you might even exchange phone numbers.

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