Here’s a cool IM-bot, which let’s you know when your friends are online. This one is for Linux
but it shouldn’t be too hard to make it yourself using a PIC 16F628A or any other microcontroller.
To make the device, you first need a push puppet. A push puppet is a small articulated character composed of several body parts held together by several strings that run through them under tension. The strings are all connected to a large spring-loaded button under the base. When the button is pressed, the strings go slack and the puppet collapses. When the button is released, the strings pull the puppet back to its normal erect shape. More information on push puppets can be had at http://www.pushpuppets.com/. Push puppets are cheap toys for small children, and can be found at most serious toy stores. Mine is a wooden dog from the “farm animals” series, made by Toys Pure. I paid 2.77€ for it and I find it much cuter than the Availabot guy. What’s more, it doesn’t “drop dead” like the Availabot guy when the button is pushed, but instead drops its head and bows its knees, which I find nicer.