Fun With Photoshop & AI

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with the Adobe Photoshop beta, particularly its AI features, and I must say they’re truly impressive.

Not long ago, my wife and I visited the Charlevoix area. During a walk with a friend, we captured several stunning photos. One in particular caught my attention, and I felt the urge to experiment with it.

Here’s the original photo:

This image of a mushroom was snapped using my iPhone. Curious about the capabilities of the new Photoshop, I opened the image in the beta version and used the generative fill to expand the background. The outcome surprised me. The integration of the artificial part with the real image is smooth.

Taking my experimentation a step further, I modified the mushroom to remove its indentation. Here’s the modified image:

Then, an idea struck me: why not add a mystical touch? I used MidJourney to create a fairy and then integrated it into the photo using Photoshop.

The advancements in Adobe Photoshop, especially with the integration of AI, have left me in awe. The future holds immense possibilities, and I can’t wait to see where technology takes this platform.

AI Unchained Podcast: The Dark Side of AI

I firmly believe that AI is, ultimately, a good thing for the world. However, it also has a dark side. Our best approach to handle it is to learn as much as we possibly can.

I just listened to the podcast episode “AI Unchained”: #003 – The Dark Side of AI by Guy Swann, featuring Alex Lewin, a pro in software development and cybersecurity. This podcast seriously made me stop and think.

It dives deep into the vast possibilities of AI—from enhancing our productivity and creativity to opening up potential threats that are dauntingly magnified. As AI swiftly progresses to manage larger goals through task hierarchies, the concept of a broad, self-spreading, and malicious AI becomes frighteningly more conceivable every day.

Imagine an out-of-control wildfire—that’s how bad the aftermath could be. But what’s our plan, and what can we do to prevent this?

I highly recommend giving this episode a listen. It’s a compelling discussion that highlights the lesser-known aspects of AI. Trust me, it’s eye-opening!

If you want to learn more about AI, I suggest subscribing to AI Unchained.

Stay informed, friends!

Listen on Apple Podcasts here: AI Unchained Episode #003

Writing AppleScripts with AI

For those of us that own a Mac, we are probably all too aware of the handy little tool that Apple provides, but very few of ever take the time to use—AppleScript. This incredibly useful scripting language, developed by Apple Inc., has been a part of the Mac OS for decades. The aim of AppleScript is simple; it is designed to automate the actions of the computer and the software that runs on it.

Despite its English-like syntax which makes it relatively easy to understand, especially for non-programmers, it’s still largely overlooked by the general public. In its essence, AppleScript allows you to create a script, or a set of instructions, to control most aspects of your computer. From opening a set of websites every morning, resizing images in a folder, to controlling complex workflows between different applications—AppleScript has you covered.

AppleScript’s capabilities aren’t just limited to automation, it also allows inter-application communication. This allows different software applications to work together seamlessly, making complex tasks simpler, and enhancing productivity for Mac users.

With such potential, I decided to take a different approach to writing AppleScripts—using OpenAI’s ChatGPT. 

In a simple experiment, I asked ChatGPT to create a script that would organize open Finder windows so they would all be visible on the screen. The AI promptly generated a script that resized and repositioned windows according to the screen’s dimensions. As impressive as this was, it didn’t stop there. The AI was also smart enough to suggest that the detection of multiple screens could be achieved based on the screen resolution. 

Intrigued by this, I pushed the boundaries further. I asked the AI to adjust the script such that if there is one window open, it should fill the screen. If there are two, it should split the screen in two, placing the windows side-by-side. If there are four, the screen should be divided into quarters with each window occupying one quarter. In response, the AI generated a revised script that performed exactly as requested.

To test the AI’s understanding of AppleScript further, I gave it a third task. This time, I asked it to create a script that would adjust the screen display if there were three open windows. One window was to take up the left half of the screen, while the other two would fill the right half, one on top and the other at the bottom. Without missing a beat, the AI presented me with a script that accommodated this three-window configuration.

The speed and efficiency with which ChatGPT was able to write these scripts were remarkable. It would have taken me a considerable amount of time to figure out the correct scripting for these tasks, yet the AI did it in a matter of seconds.

So, what’s the takeaway from all this? It’s clear that we are venturing into a whole new world of possibilities with AI. Tools like ChatGPT are making previously daunting tasks much more accessible and manageable. I encourage you all to experiment with some form of AI, whether it be ChatGPT or something else. After all, staying on top of new technologies is the best way to ensure we aren’t left behind.

The Future of Online Security: The Power of Passkeys

The realm of online security has come a long way from the early days when ‘password123’ would suffice as a security measure. Fast forward to the current digital landscape where we deal with a multitude of online accounts, and the demands for a stronger, more efficient method of authentication is greater than ever. Enter passkeys, the revolutionary login solution that provides a more streamlined, secure, and straightforward approach to online authentication.

So, what are passkeys?

Imagine signing into your accounts without the need to enter a password. Yes, that’s right, no passwords! Passkeys offer a novel solution to the problem of password creation and memorization. Powered by the API WebAuthn (Web Authentication), a joint project between the FIDO Alliance and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), passkeys provide an opportunity for users to quickly create and sign into their accounts without the need for passwords. 

These powerful keys consist of a pair of public-private cryptographic keys. The public key can be shared publicly, stored by the website or app you want to sign in to, while the private key remains secure and secret, used to decrypt data that’s been encrypted with your public key. Importantly, this private key is never shared with the website, enhancing the level of security offered.

One major advantage of passkeys is their ability to deter phishing and social engineering attacks. With this technology, you never share your credentials with untrusted websites, adding an additional layer of protection against cyber threats. 

Transitioning to Passkeys

Companies like Apple, Google, Microsoft, 1Password, and Bitwarden are championing the adoption of passkeys. Services like Bitwarden plan to launch passkey management, allowing users to store passkeys in their vault and sync them among devices. Meanwhile, 1Password is working to integrate passkeys into their password manager, supporting users to manage all that’s important in their digital life.

Many major websites are already supporting passkeys, including Google, eBay, BestBuy, and NVIDIA. This list is expected to grow significantly as we move further into 2023 and beyond. Furthermore, there is a community-driven index at which provides an extensive list of websites, apps, and services that offer signing in with passkeys.

The Benefits of Passkeys

Passkeys present several key benefits. They offer strong, default security as each passkey is unique and associated with a single account. This eliminates the risk of weak or reused passwords. Additionally, with passkeys, users are protected against phishing attacks since private keys never leave their devices. Also, there’s no need to remember or type out your passkeys; they are stored on your device and retrieved automatically when you need to sign in.

The Impact on Businesses

The transition to passkeys is not just a win for end users, but for businesses too. With stronger account security, businesses are less likely to suffer data breaches. Since passkeys can’t be stolen via phishing attacks, businesses will have less worry about user accounts being compromised.

In a nutshell, passkeys promise to herald a new era in passwordless authentication, simplifying the login process while bolstering online security. As we move towards a future where passkeys become the norm, users can look forward to a more streamlined, efficient, and secure way of managing their online accounts.

Avoid Mobile Payment Fraud

The popularity of digital payment methods like Zelle®, Venmo, and PayPal has been shadowed by a rise in associated fraud and scams. It’s vital to distinguish between fraud (unauthorized access and use of your account) and scams (where you’re deceived into making a transaction). Both can be avoided with certain precautions.

Common digital payment scams include social engineering, such as phishing and bank impersonation, and more specific strategies like utility scams, marketplace scams, and “pay yourself” scams. To keep your transactions secure:

1. Only send digital payments to individuals you know and trust.

2. Beware of any request to send money to yourself, a common scam tactic.

3. Confirm that contact details match the intended recipient before transferring funds.

4. Never share sensitive account information like passwords, PINs, or temporary access codes.

5. Remember that legitimate banks, like Fifth Third Bank, will never ask for your login information.

By following these steps, you can ensure your digital transactions are safer and directed to the correct individual or company.

Get more detail from this FifthThird post.

Apple Reinforces its Privacy & Security Stance with a Suite of New Features

Today, Apple has once again strengthened its commitment to user privacy and security with the announcement of several powerful new features. These enhancements provide users with even greater control over their data, bolster existing safeguards, and introduce several fresh concepts, all grounded in Apple’s unwavering belief that privacy is a fundamental human right.

Apple’s Privacy-First Approach 

Apple has long held a reputation for valuing user privacy, weaving it into the fabric of every product and feature it creates. The latest announcement by Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, confirmed that the company is doubling down on these values, further bolstering its efforts to keep users firmly in control of their data. This philosophy is evident in the significant updates to Safari Private Browsing and the expansion of Lockdown Mode, among other features.

Major Updates to Enhance Data Control and Security
Enhanced Safari Private Browsing

Apple’s pioneering private browsing feature in Safari sees a significant update, offering advanced tracking and fingerprinting protections to further impede websites from identifying a user’s device. A new locking mechanism safeguards browsing data even when users step away from their device.

App and Photos Privacy Improvements

Apple has enhanced app privacy by equipping developers with more data about the practices of third-party software development kits (SDKs) they use. This allows for more accurate Privacy Nutrition Labels and adds an additional layer of protection against misuse. The photos app also sees an update with a new embedded picker feature that ensures only selected photos are shared with apps, keeping the rest of the photo library private.

Communication Safety and Content Warnings

Communication Safety, a feature designed to safeguard children from inappropriate content, now extends to video content. Parents can disable these warnings, which are activated by default for child accounts in their Family Sharing plan. Similarly, Sensitive Content Warning helps adult users avoid unwanted content, using the same privacy-preserving technology as Communication Safety.

Powerful Security Protections

Updates to the password and passkey sharing feature make the process easier and more secure. Users can now share a set of passwords via iCloud Keychain, which is end-to-end encrypted. A new feature in Safari autofills one-time verification codes received in Mail for a more secure and convenient login process.

Lockdown Mode has been expanded to provide additional protections against potential threats from mercenary spyware. The mode offers safer wireless connectivity defaults, optimizes network security, and strictly limits certain functionalities, drastically reducing the attack surface.

Innovative Privacy and Security Features

Check In, a feature designed with user safety in mind, allows users to notify selected contacts when they have reached their intended destination. The NameDrop feature provides a secure way to share contact information via AirDrop. Live Voicemail offers real-time transcription of voicemail messages, providing users with greater control over their call handling.

These security and privacy advancements reiterate Apple’s commitment to user data protection. They demonstrate that the company not only upholds privacy as a fundamental human right, but also leads the industry in implementing practical, user-friendly features that put control back into the hands of the users. Look out for these features coming in free software updates this fall.

You can get more information at Apple.

Apple reveals the introduction of the Apple Vision Pro, their first spatial computer

This is not intended to be an endorsement of Apple’s new device. It is simply to let you know about this new product.

The announcement from Apple at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) reveals the introduction of the Apple Vision Pro, their first spatial computer. This new device aims to provide a blend of digital content with the physical world, offering a three-dimensional interface that is responsive to a user’s eyes, hands, and voice inputs.

Key Features and Highlights:

1. Vision Pro and visionOS: Vision Pro operates on visionOS, the world’s first spatial operating system. This provides users the ability to interact with digital content as if it is physically present in their space. The ultra-high-resolution display system packs 23 million pixels across two displays, backed by custom Apple silicon.

2. Infinite Canvas and Multitasking: Vision Pro allows apps to function beyond the limitations of a traditional display, enabling users to multi-task more effectively. With support for Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad, users can create a large, portable 4K display.

3. Immersive Entertainment: Apple Vision Pro promises to transform any space into a personal theater experience. This includes viewing movies and TV shows, and experiencing three-dimensional content with an advanced Spatial Audio system.

4. 3D Camera and Spatial FaceTime: Vision Pro features Apple’s first three-dimensional camera, allowing users to capture, relive, and immerse themselves in memories. In FaceTime, calls become spatial experiences, with life-size tiles and Spatial Audio.

5. visionOS and User Interface: Built on macOS, iOS, and iPadOS foundations, visionOS supports the low-latency requirements of spatial computing. It also features EyeSight, a feature that lets users stay connected to those around them while using Vision Pro.

6. Design and Materials: Apple Vision Pro is made from advanced materials and is designed for comfortable wear. It features a custom aluminum alloy frame and a three-dimensionally formed and laminated glass lens.

7. Hardware: Vision Pro features micro-OLED technology in its ultra-high-resolution display system. It also has an advanced Spatial Audio system and a high-performance eye tracking system. All of this is powered by Apple silicon in a unique dual-chip design.

8. Privacy and Security: Apple Vision Pro includes a new secure authentication system, Optic ID, which uses the Secure Enclave to protect a user’s iris data. Also, the eye tracking information and data from other sensors are processed at the system level, keeping a user’s private information secure.

9. Price and Availability: The Apple Vision Pro will be available starting at $3,499 (U.S.) early next year.

This new product aims to revolutionize personal computing, following in the footsteps of the Mac and iPhone, by introducing users to the world of spatial computing. With features such as spatial FaceTime, a 3D camera, and spatial operating system, Apple continues its trajectory of innovative product development.

You can learn more at Apple.