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LanceLetter - Windows 11 Limitations; Pepper Robot; Firework Alternative

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LanceLetter

July 6 · Issue #236 · View online

Stuff that matters.


Written while I slow-barbequed chicken under a Fourth of July sun

Under the sun (Credit: Lance Ulanoff)
Under the sun (Credit: Lance Ulanoff)
Windows 11 Preview
I wanted to get an early start on Windows 11. I mean, who wouldn’t want to experience the radically different interface and those widgets?
Seriously, I’ve run beta versions of upcoming Windows releases since the days of Windows 95 and had no intention of stopping now. Then I tried to install it on a Surface Laptop 2.
Unfortunately, Microsoft’s Windows Insider program told me my PC doesn’t meet the minimum system requirements. I’d heard of some systems that lacked TPM 2.0 running into issues and erroneously assumed that was my issue, too. Problem is that this system has TPM 2.0, and it’s enabled.
At this point, I don’t know if it’s a bug (Microsoft did report one that incorrectly lists systems as incompatible) or if there’s another issue I’m missing. Suffice to say, I’m pretty bummed out and, no, I won’t install the beta on my main production system.
Out of Pepper
I know, I seem stuck on robots (which I managed to call “roots” last week), but I can’t tell you how frustrated I am at the snail-like pace of humanoid robot development. Last week we found out that Softbank is probably discontinuing its Pepper robot, one of the more promising personal automatons on the market. (This statement may or may not belie that information).
Pepper is roughly four feet tall and has well-articulated hands and arms, a cute face, and a screen for direct interfacing. No legs but at least Pepper can roll around on a wheelbase. Pepper is also interesting because it can interpret your emotional state based on facial expressions. The AI isn’t housed inside Pepper, though. Instead, it feeds the info to Softbank’s cloud, which feeds it back to the robot, which then engages with you based on that interpretation.
Pepper has never made it to the home and instead popped up at Microsoft Stores, fast food restaurants, and as greeters at other corporations and shops.
Perhaps Pepper isn’t dead, but it certainly isn’t seeing yearly hardware advances and I don’t think the software has changed much since launch, either.
What I’d like to see is the people at Boston Dynamics, who are making some of the most agile (and maybe scary robots) partner up with people like Pepper’s creators (it was originally built by the French firm Aldebaran Robotics SAS) and make something that’s mobile, friendly, and that has Pepper’s emotional intelligence.
Perhaps it’s time to turn all my attention and hopes to Boston Dynamics, which is now a part of Hyundai. They’re got Spot (a dog-ish robot), some incredible humanoid stuff (Atlas) and, it seems, BTS.
Boom vs. Buzz
I know I’m alone in this but why can’t we replace fireworks with drones? You know the drones I’m talking about, the ones that swarm and can configure themselves into massive, animated lightshows . They can make big signs, flags, figures, and even simulate fireworks. They make a buzzing sound but since they’re so high up in the air, you often don’t even hear it.
Contrast this with fireworks: Extremely loud, smoky (smelly), they leave debris everywhere, and can be unpredictable and dangerous. Programmable drones are far more predictable. I know this will never happen, but a tech enthusiast can dream.
The Apple Previews Are Here
If you’re up for it, you can now test-drive all the platform betas Apple announced at WWDC21. I’ve been running a few of them: iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey. They’re all quite stable and full of fun and useful updates. The other good news is that none of them radically change the look and feel of any of the platforms.
I had some first impressions of iPadOS 15 and iOS 15.
Bye, Jeff Bezos, and thanks for all the 2-day-delivery fish
Hope you enjoyed your holiday weekend
See you soon
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