A couple of weeks ago, I ran across a reference to a hardware tinkerer's board called Arduino. It looked pretty dang cool to me, so I went ahead and ordered one -- which arrived a few days ago.
So far this weekend, I've been having a blast playing with the thing: trying different things just to see what it's capable of, experimenting with a few ideas I've had, and generally just amusing the hell out of myself with it.
Being a computer AND hardware/electronics type, one of the things that I simply had to do was have a try at building a little robot with it, using some of the myriad of loose parts I hoard: battery power, a couple of dinky little DC motors to drive/steer it, and a few rudimentary sensors so I could change the programming in it different ways -- bump-n-run, hide from (or seek) light, mill around aimlessly, and so on.
I've enjoyed myself immensely; Elf, however, hasn't been quite as pleased: having the little 'bot wandering around has thrown a serious monkey wrench in her world. At first, she was curious about it, and followed it around my apartment -- at least, up until it 'attacked' her (changed direction toward her, and wouldn't be dissuaded by the multitude of slaps she gave it). Apparently convinced that it was a feline-oriented Terminator, she then spent a couple of hours watching it from afar so that she'd be ready to defend herself when it ran amok. When she finally decided that it wasn't really trying to kill her, she settled down considerably -- except for the fact that the 'bot kept annoying her. I honestly didn't program the thing to seek her out (it isn't that 'powerful' of a platform); she simply kept laying down in places where it would eventually turn up. About the umpteenth time it disturbed her nap (which she voiced complaints about), she finally decided to take refuge on her cat tree. Now all she does is grumble at it whenever it wanders too close.