Posts by Steve Borsch
A Mysterious Story…
It was the summer of 1990 and my wife Michelle and I were in London for an adventure. It was a fun time and she had arranged for us to meet an old colleague of hers (and his partner) for a dinner at their townhouse one evening.
Michelle is a planner and really good at it. Me? Not so much, especially when on a vacation (I love to poke around and be spontaneous). That said, I felt like I should probably reach out to the one guy I knew in London, a fellow I’ll call Blake, who had gone there to open an office for a US-based brokerage company. I knew Blake, but not well. Still, he was a nice guy, we had mutual friends, so Michelle kept encouraging me to call him. I didn’t want to take time away from our own time together, even though I felt guilty the whole time for not reaching out to say hello.
We got on a London Underground subway train to head to her colleague’s townhouse which also required a short connection to a different line. As this first train stopped at our transfer destination, we saw the other one pulling in to the station across the way! “Let’s go!“, I cried out and we exited and raced up the stairs, across the footbridge, down the opposite stairs and she was pulling me toward one car but I said “No” and pulled her to a different car.
“Phew! We made it,” I exclaimed. the train car was packed with commuters. We got to the next station and people got off. Then the next station and people got off. Then another one. Now there were far fewer people on the train and, as I glanced up, standing three feet from me was Blake!
He looked at me, broke in to a grin, and said “Borsch! What are you doing here? Why didn’t you call me?” I stammered out a response, we chatted for a few minutes, and then we arrived at our stop. We said our goodbyes while all I could think was “How the f**k did THAT just happen?”
Coincidence? Possibly, but I don’t believe in them.
Michelle was absolutely convinced (and is to this day) that it was my thinking about Blake that brought for this encounter. As I’ve tried to analyze this incident (and I’ve had several others in my life that are similiar, by the way) I think about these points and have so many questions:
- London’s population in 1990 was 6,775,000 but swelled to over 9 million during the day with people commuting in to the city. What are the chances that I’d have pulled Michelle in to the exact car—and at the correct end of that car—to be able to feet away from Blake?
- How could we have been traveling on the Underground at the exact same time to end up simultaneously being in that train car?
- What if I’d taken Michelle’s lead and gone on the other train car she was pulling me toward?
While I could go in to my own theories as a non-physicist (e.g., quantum entanglement means everyone we interact could have some level of entanglement with each of us) but that’s a discussion for another time. The mystery story is more fun and puzzling.
Be interested if something like this has happened to you. Comment below.
How Real is AI?
Since late 2022 it’s been nearly impossible to ignore all of the onrush of writeups, videos, and wild over-enthusiastic reactions to the major steps that have been made with artificial intelligence (AI), specificially OpenAI and its ChatGPT.
Like you have probably been doing, I’ve been staying aware of the baby steps, hyperbole and complete bullshit as it pertains to the fear AI will take over the world and destroy humanity as some pundits (and blowhards) intimate will occur.
Yes, cool things are happening with synthetic media (i.e., generative AI media) as well as text creation by ChatGPT-driven chatbots.
This is why I was pleased to see this discussion about “The Bing AI Overreaction” by Leo Laporte’s TWiT show Windows Weekly. Guests were long time Microsoft analysts Paul Thurrott and Richard Campbell. After watching this it *might* tone-down some of the over-enthusiasm and hyperbole of Bing’s “AI search” capabilities.
Best Deepfake Yet?
Watching a new deepfake video I’ve embedded below was *very* sobering to watch this morning. It points out how incredibly far we’ve gone with deepfakes and, most importantly, how I found this one almost impossible to detect as a fake video.
The obvious tipoff this is fake is that both Cruise and Hilton look much younger than reality (because the fake actor & actress are actually much younger than the ‘real’ celebrities) but from a technology perspective I couldn’t detect this as a fake. Even the voices were spot-on.
The video is short and, because it was on TikTok and I was led to it by a Reddit post, decided to screen record on my iPad in order to capture it to embed here in this post (and I also wanted to keep this one as a major milestone deepfake).
I can’t even describe how deeply troubling this is as this deepfake capability will be weaponized politically and I shudder to think what will happen as the 2024 presidential election process begins. So instead of a critical-thinking baseball sized cap to wear, we’re all gonna need a ten-gallon cowboy hat going forward!
Containers on L.A. Trains Being Robbed
Is this nuts or what? No, I don’t mean Inside Edition doing some actual serious reporting, but rather that not much is being done by L.A. police to stop it.
The laws that trivialize theft of this nature don’t factor in all of time, effort, energy and expense that a shipper goes through.
That said, imagine all of the people waiting for these packages? If there are a thousand package boxes lying on these tracks, think of the 1,000 people expecting them and adjusting their schedules to be at home?
How Much Memory Does My MacBook Pro 14″ Need?
Ten days ago I decided to replace my aging 27″ iMac Pro with the 14″ model of the new MacBook Pros for 2021. Knowing that my needs have changed, and my preference was to have a laptop that I could take anywhere with me as I traveled around, I opted for one of the new machines and the 14″ model was the perfect size.
But how much memory would I really need? I’ve always purchased as much RAM as I could afford, but these new M1-based CPUs are so efficient, I knew I could probably get by with less. Plus, the two Apple Geniuses I spoke with when in the store — who quizzed me about my needs at length — said I could easily get by with 16GBs of RAM and the Mac Pro version of the M1 CPU.
But I was not convinced…that is until I watched this video which, while not GeekBench like analysis, pushed me over the edge and convinced me to go with the 14″ model and only 16GBs of RAM…so I bought it that day:
I also picked up the LG 34WK95U ultrawide display along with a new OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock and a fast Sandisk 4TB Extreme Pro SSD disk. I’ve got the perfect set up for what I need today, as well as for the next several years.
One more thing…
On Apple’s website they call these machines and their new M1 Pro CPU “scary fast” and the M1 Pro Max “scary faster.” I can attest to the fact that, now running this MacBook Pro 14″ in my own office with my apps and files on it, HOLY CRAP IS THIS THING FAST!
Photoshop used to open in about a minute. Now Photoshop opens in 6.5 seconds. It’s that way with all of my apps. Damn…is this thing ever fun to use.
So if you’re in the market for a new machine, I highly recommend it.
Signal and Cellebrite … the Controversy Continues
If you care about privacy and the security of your communications, Signal app is likely already on your phone, tablet or computer. If not, it should be and you should be using it.
Some time ago I became troubled that Cellebrite, an Israeli “digital forensics” tool, was law enforcement and government’s method of choice to extract data from iOS and other devices. Whether used for warranted legal investigations by law enforcement, or by oppressive governments looking to stifle dissent in their countries, the company once boasted that they could even hack Signal.
That was too much for Moxie Marlinspike and Brian Acton, the founders of Signal Foundation, who refuted Cellebrite’s claims in this blog post a few weeks ago.
Rather than go in to a lot of detail, let me instead point you to In epic hack, Signal developer turns the tables on forensics firm Cellebrite by Riana Pfefferkorn from the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. It recaps the entire controversy well.
Suffice to say that I do have concerns that Signal has poked the bear … and in this case the bear is Congress, the Justice Department, the National Security Agency, and any intelligence or law enforcement. I am certain that all of the above would rather have it continue to be trivial and simple to mass surveil the U.S. population and track us through our digital devices.
Perhaps this poking will accelerate U.S. laws being enacted to continue to erode end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) communications. This will make us all more susceptible to surveillance, but most importantly to hacking. Once a backdoor is put in, or some company finds a way in to gain access to our device’s data, hackers will quickly gain access too.
Yes, I do have concerns that E2EE makes law enforcement and intelligence gathering more difficult. But the tradeoff is literally making billions of people vulnerable to catch a fraction of them breaking the law. These agencies have significant tools in their arsenals and don’t need to make us all weaker to do their jobs.
While I’m the most benign person on the planet when it comes to secrets or having something to hide, there is NO WAY that I want my phone, tablet or computer to be MORE vulnerable rather than less. Same thing with my communications: What I say in a text message, voice or video call is no one else’s business over and above myself and the person(s) I’m communicating with at the time.
How I See Today’s Facebook
National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Final Report Has Been Published
It’s finally published. This report is a stunning body of work and emphasizes the overwhelming need the United States has to be a (the?) dominant player in artificial intelligence (AI).
National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Final Report
Sniff…looks like my iMac is going to be “retired”
Today Apple added the first Retina 5k iMacs to its “vintage” product list. That means that parts availability will be OK until they run out, and then no longer supported for repair or Genius Bar support. See Apple Adds First iMac Models With Retina 5K Display to Vintage Products List for more.
In a way I’m sad to see my my iMac 27-inch from late 2014 being put out to pasture, though it’s served me well and I look forward to the new iMacs coming with rumored new designs and a desktop version running Apple’s screamingly fast Apple Silicon.
When I purchased this machine in December of 2014, I did so with end-of-year money in my company. It has 32GBs of memory, a 1TB SSD, and a core i7, and I paid around $4,800 for it.
Though expensive at the time, it’s been an outstanding machine. The average cost was $800 per year for the six years I’ve owned it and I can unequivocally state that the return on my investment was definitely worth it!
Voting in California
Wow…today is the day my wife and I decided to complete our vote and now we’ll drive it to the Orange County Registrar of Voters to deliver it personally (vs. using the on-purpose-slowed-down U.S. Postal service).
We love our country and democracy and take our voting right as sacred, regardless of the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt) cast on this election by that temporary occupant in the White House.
What a difference voting out here in California has been though. There were 12 Propositions on the ballot, each of which required a lot of study and consideration. The tough part is most, if not all of them, have some sort of unintended consequences which are very difficult to see in advance.
Hope everyone who votes here in CA considers these as carefully as we have, all while deeply appreciating the profound responsibility we all share in making the best decisions we can when voting.
Wherever you live in the United States, please vote…no matter what it takes to do so. If your state supports it, vote as early as you can. It’s a privilege, a right, and a duty.