Motherboard has a great article about Agility Robotics‘ Cassie. Cassie is a bipedal robot that’s currently available for purchase, but all it can do is walk around. Which leads Jordan Pearson to make this point:

A pair of working robot legs is great, but they won’t deliver a package containing your new pair of headphones on their own. For that, you need arms and eyes.

A robot pair of legs, while cool, isn’t going to take over the world. Autonomous systems like this are going to change things even more than the PC or the smart phone, and to succeed I think AR needs to get some inspiration from the PC industry: Standard connectors.

Standards are great

One thing that enabled the expansion of personal computers was creating standard connectors for peripherals. This allowed people to hook up all kinds of devices to their PCs, from scanners to cameras to hard drives to missile launchers. This increased the utility of PCs. It also meant that if your PC died or you wanted to buy a new one there was a pretty good chance you wouldn’t waste your investment in peripherals, and you could upgrade to new peripherals for a fraction of a cost of a new PC.

What this has to do with Cassie

Cassie is the equivalent of a really great peripheral. It’s good at one thing – walking – but without being able to do more it’s not much of a robot. Now imagine if there was a socket on top where you could put different attachments. Say a cargo pod with a camera that’s programmed to follow you around, like some drones are able to do now. You’d have your own personal shopping companion.

Potential ideas for attachments go far beyond cargo. Different arms, sensory, and navigation could be added to expand Cassie’s capabilities. And by opening up the platform to development they’ll allow other companies to build attachments. Amazon could build specialized picking/packing arms that could also work with their Kiva robots. Black and Decker could make a line of yard care tools that work with Cassie, allowing it to do everything from rake leaves to clean gutters to mop your floors.

Agility Robotics has a similar advantage to what Apple had back in the early 80s. They were the first to get into a massive market with a great product. Opening their platform to expansion would offload the work of all the other systems to other companies, so they can focus on making really great legs.

Update: Apple has released an update that fixes this bug. If you’re using OS X High Sierra you should update. If you’re not, keep reading because setting your root password is a good thing to do anyway.

What happened

Apple has a major security bug in the latest version of MacOS that allows anybody to get full admin (root) access without a password. As a result, people are a little peeved about it:

What to do about it

You can fix this even if you’re not using the latest version by setting your root password. First, open a Terminal window and enter this command:


sudo passwd -u root

This will ask you for your password, and then ask you to enter and confirm your new root password. Note: You don’t see what you’re typing or any asterisks when you enter passwords in the Terminal. Just relax and make sure you enter the password correctly:


Password:
Changing password for root.
New password:
Retype new password:

Finally, make sure to use a password that isn’t the same as your user account, and that’s either stored securely (I like LastPass) or is easy to remember but hard to guess.

If you aren’t an admin user you’ll see an error message like this:


USERNAME is not in the sudoers file. This incident will be reported.

Don’t freak out because the “reporting” is just making a note in a local file. (Or is it…) You won’t be able to fix this, but somebody who uses your computer must have an admin account, so ask them and they’ll be able to fix it. Or you can use the instructions on Apple’s site.

I expect Apple should have a fix for this soon, because it’s really bad.

You might not think it affects you, but the EU’s stringent privacy laws force multinationals to respect everyone’s privacy because it’s cheaper to build one system that’s EU compliant than one for each major legal regime. And the stiff punishments help, too.

I telecommute from a rural town and have one ISP to choose from. If you repeal net neutrality there will be nothing stopping them from blocking specific content, and to do that they’ll have to block VPNs as well. This is because VPNs would allow users to work around the content restrictions. Without the ability to VPN into my office I will not be able to work remotely, which would place a sever burden on my family as my home office is over two hours away and I would have to spend money commuting. I would also be away from my family much more.

My wife also owns a retail store with an online presence. Blocking access to customers would severely reduce her sales. Our margins are low, considering she sells used sporting goods, so she needs access to customers in order to stay profitable. Without this there’s a chance our small town will lose another business.

Please, we are small business owners and hard working tax payers. We need a free and open Internet to at least try for the American dream.