• I, robot. In science fiction, robots enslave or exterminate their creators. In reality, they're relegated to grunt work. Louisiana State University is developing Robogator, which will use a motion-detecting camera and software to target birds that prey on commercial catfish and crawfish farms. The eight-foot, solar-powered scarecrow won't just frighten birds away with its faux gator looks'it'll pack a water cannon, too. Meanwhile, University of the West of England researchers are developing a slug hunter. SlugBot, a proof-of-concept machine not intended for commercial sale, will spot slugs with an infrared scanner, grab them with a claw and drop them into a fermentation tank that converts them into fuel for the robot. Yuck. Maybe such revolting jobs will make robots rise in revolt. Visit www.ias.uwe.ac.uk/~i-kelly/tta.html.

  • Do drop in. Virtual visits are all the rage. With White House tours suspended, citizens were able to take a virtual Christmas tour of the trimmings at www.whitehouse.gov/holiday. Another site allowed a PC pilgrimage to Mexico City's basilica of the Virgin of Guadalupe, at www.virgendeguadalupe.org.mx. Visitors could even submit e-mail petitions.

  • Cache me if you can. The new sport of geocaching crosses orienteering with Global Positioning System use. Players use GPS receivers to find a cache of interesting objects, which they can retrieve or leave in the cache. It's promoted as 'the sport where you are the search engine.' Instructions appear at www.geocaching.com. If you come across a prize find, tell buzz@postnewsweektech.com.
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