Something Cool (and Wicked?) This Way Comes

Collage of renders from thispersondoesnotexist.comTake a good look at the collage of people here. Now click on the image and take a really closer look and tell me the one thing all these fine folks have in common with one another.

Give up? Okay, I’ll tell you then: none of them are real. These peoples’ photos have been computer generated using artificial intelligence and technology developed by graphics card producer, Nvidia. Don’t believe me? Head over to the website ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com and give it a shot yourself. Once the image is loaded and you’ve had a chance to check it out, refresh your browser and another “person” will be generated from scratch.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking, “Okay, well, what’s the big deal? I’ve seen lots of computer generated ‘people’ before…” Think Audrey Hepburn in the recent chocolate commercial or Carrie Fisher or Peter Cushing in the Star Wars film. But these incarnations are very different in that there are a lot of incredibly talented people (artists, animators, programmers, etc) behind the scenes who spend tons of time and money to create this digital likeness. What’s different about the photos of the people generated on ThisPersonDoesNotExist.com here is that a computer is creating these images from scratch, on the fly each time someone refreshes the browser window. No artists, etc needed here just some powerful computing and cutting-edge clever programming utilizing AI and GAN or Generative Adversarial Network, which uses two neural networks.

Well, that’s certainly cool, right? I mean many folks might already be thinking how much more realistic this means videogames will be within just a couple of generations (videogame platform generations like Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch, not human generations). Sure, and that’ll be really cool, too!

Others might be thinking about the wider, more dramatic changes that technology like this might usher in. Think Hollywood. Specifically, think Hollywood actors. While the idea of virtual or digital actors isn’t new, this incredibly realistic technology is. The idea of virtual entertainers isn’t anything new either. Just take a look at a recent (2018) concert in Los Angeles in which a virtual Japanese “idol”, Hatsune Miku, performs for a live audience. She’s basically a hologram and her voice is synthetic. Yet, look and listen to the crowd – they know the songs, the lyrics, and they respond to Miku. Now imagine how much potential money Hollywood (or anyplace else that churns out entertainment) could make from utilizing this technology in the future. Actors who never age or die unless the role calls for it – and they’re certainly able to be resurrected at any time. It will provide an endless supply of new talent from which to choose.

Now, let’s go a step further…what else could something like this be used for? Like any technology, it could be used for good or bad and I think it’s prudent to assume this type of technology will be used for many “bad” things just as much or more than it will be used for good or innocent applications. How about something like fake news? It’s already becoming very difficult to determine fact from manufactured fiction sometimes and technology like this will make it even more difficult and challenging. Think about the implications for a minute. What if you, the viewer, are truly 100% unable to determine if something you see is real or not? Now think about the wider implications? What if people in general all over the world are truly unable to determine truth from fiction in the future…

Cool technology? Yeah, it is! Does it scare you? Even a bit? If it doesn’t, perhaps it should.

Flickr Purging User Content Starting Today

Flickr logoStarting today (February 5th) the photo-sharing site Flickr will start deleting photos and videos from user accounts if they exceed 1,000 items and don’t pay for a “Pro” account (currently about $50 per year).

Flickr used to be owned by Yahoo but has more recently been acquired by SmugMug (a professional photo-sharing site). Under yahoo ownership, free accounts had access to 1TB of storage space for their photo and video data.

While there are a few exceptions to this 1,000 item limit, for most users of free accounts they won’t apply and anything beyond 1,000 items will be automatically purged.

While there are other cloud-based options like Google Drive etc it’s always a good idea to keep multiple backups of any important data (like your irreplaceable images!), both local and cloud-based. Contact us today to see how we can help back up your important data to be sure it’s safe!

 

Sources:

https://www.engadget.com/2019/02/04/flickr-1000-photo-limit-psa/

https://www.smugmug.com/together/

Small Crypto Exchange Hacked (maybe)

Autumn leaf photoAre you into bitcoins, crypto currency, mining? Many folks nowadays are and the following is something to keep in mind as you pursue this new financial frontier in finances.

The small Canadian (?) Crypto Exchange called MapleChange is reporting that “due to a bug” someone stole all of their bitcoins. They originally said that while they are investigating the hack, they were, unfortunately, going to have to shut down the Exchange, their social media, etc. Everything. Gone. Poof!  No refunds either, by the way.

They have since brought a new Discord channel online for investors affected. Their twitter feed, below, indicates they returning alcoins so some users.

However, others outside of MapleExchange say this smells of an exit strategy of sorts rather than a bug. Whatever this turns out to be — hack, bug, or an exit strategy, be sure you properly research anything before investing your hard-earned money into.

 

Sources:

ethereumworldnews

Twitter

Breakermag.com

Thieves try to steal a Tesla

Thieves steal Tesla carTake a look at a recent attempt of a couple of U.K. thieves to steal a Tesla Model S. They’re smart enough to actually gain entrance to the vehicle without the fob but they’re not smart enough to unplug the charger!

The owner of the vehicle does admit to not doing a couple of things that could have actually prevented the bad guys from gaining entrance including setting a PIN and using a Faraday pouch for the fob (while would block fob’s signal).

But it just goes to show that even “sophisticated” criminals who use technology aren’t always the brightest.

Source: electrek

 

Custom Built Computers

Custom computer build back photo

Did you know we custom-build computers too?! While we’re very proud to say we’re an official Dell reseller and these are great, high-quality computers, we also recognize that some folks prefer something other than what a “stock” system might have to offer.

We can either build a system to your specifications or we can custom-design one specially for you based on your needs and wants and then build it! Not sure exactly what you’re looking for but you know you want something fast and awesome? Give us a shout!

Have an awesome case in mind along with a great new motherboard and graphics card that’s going to ensure you’re able to play the latest MMO or FPS at top resolutions and screen rates? Check!

Are you a video freelancer and needing to be able to edit efficiently in 4K while still dazzle your clients with an awesome-looking machine when they visit your office? Check!

Have a custom computer already but maybe it’s time to update it to give it a little more “pep”? We’ve got you covered!

Whatever your custom computer needs, contact us today to see how we can get you moving in the fast lane with the cool kids!

Custom computer build side photo

Custom computer build front photo

World’s Largest Contract Chipmaker Recovering After Ransomware Attack

World’s Largest Contract Chipmaker Recovering After Ransomware Attack

Apple iPhone TSMC chipmakerTaiwan tech firm and Apple chipmaker, TSMC, said it was recovering from a ransomware attack over the weekend. Apparently one machine was online when it shouldn’t have been and this lead to the infection of more than 10,000 of their manufacturing machines in multiple factories. The ransomware was a variant of WannaCry which is a type of ransomware cryptoworm used by bad guys to encrypt computer data and hold it for ransom. TSMC says they are now back in full production again.

Always make sure you have a good antivirus program installed and up to date! Just as important, make sure you have a good, solid back up of any data that’s important to you!

Source: Reuters

Microsoft Edge Allows for Web Logins without Remembering Passwords

Microsoft Edge logoMicrosoft Edge Allows for Web Logins without Remembering Passwords

 

By leveraging Windows Hello hardware, users can now log into websites using things like IR cameras, fingerprint readers, external security keys, and PINs without having to remember your passwords. Microsoft believes that having these additional means of logging in will not only allows users to log into website more easily, they also think this will assist users with security concerns, and that makes sense from the standpoint of things like key loggers (if a user doesn’t type his password into a field then a key logger can’t grab the password). While this may be true, please keep in mind that the bad buys are always on the lookout to crack the latest security ideas. Additionally you should be sure to follow existing best practices when it comes to passwords. This means be sure you have a safe backup of all your passwords, don’t use the same credentials for multiple sites, etc.

To try this you’ll either Windows Insider Preview 17723 or you can wait for Windows 10 version 1809 to be released.

Source: Windows Blog

New Hours — We’re Now Open Saturday’s

Open sign for new hoursHaving computer or other technology problems but really busy with work or kids so it’s hard to contact us through the week? For your convenience and to better serve you, we’re happy to announce that starting today we’re open Saturday’s from 9am – 2pm. So give us a call or stop by today and let us serve your technology needs!

CatManDu Also Offers SmartHome and Security Devices and Services

Target protectWhile you may know that we’ve been in business serving the computer needs of the Panhandle for the past 15 years, did you know we’re so much more than that? By partnering with Premier Alarm Solutions, located here in Amarillo, we’re now able to offer quality security and smart home devices and services too!

Premier Alarm Solutions is locally owned and operated in Amarillo. Here are just a few of our offerings:

  • Residential and commercial cameras and security systems
  • SmartHome devices that can integrate with your alarm system
  • Free consultations

Please check out some of our other services and packages that we offer.

Don’t be a target for the bad guys! Contact us today to see how we can help protect you!

Premier Alarm Solutions Logo

CatManDu Now Offers Local Technology Concierge Service In Amarillo

We’re proud to annouce that we’re now offering our Technology Concierge service. This exciting service let’s you connect directly with a local technology expert — your very own Technology Concierge who can assist you with any technology-related question or problem you may have!

Need a new router but don’t even know what a router is?! Contact your Technology Concierge — they can help with that!

Looking for a new Internet Service Provider because you’re tired of Netflix “buffering” while you’re trying to binge watch your favorite series? Don’t keep suffering! Contact us today to how a Technology Concierge can assist you.

Is your computer running slowly but you don’t want to take it to that “big box” store? Sign up today and let your Technology Concierge help you!

These are just a very few examples of how our Technology Concierges can help you with your technology-related questions or problems. Please check out our Technology Concierge website at cat-man-du.com, give us a call at 806-350-8324, or stop by us and see us in person at our physical location (that’s right: we’re “real” people and we’re local — we’re your friends and neighbors!) at:

8501 SW 34 Ave.
Amarillo, TX

We look forward to serving you!