Will AI artists replace human artists?

While many of you folks think of me as being a computer geek and programmer this is a relatively new scheme in my life. I’m also an artist and have been so since the day I was born. I come from a long line of artists and five generations of paintings hang in my living room. I paint, animate cartoons, sculpt, tell stories and a touch of FX make-up. So what do I think about the iOS apps that have Artificial intelligence to create art? Will it replace us, artists? (WARNING going to get philosophical here)

We have to start with “what is art?”

Yep, I just opened that can of worms. While many people feel that art is the ability to draw with a level of skill or paint the perfect tree bowing in the wind. Or even make a photorealistic image of a sunset. It’s more than that.

Art is the physical manifestation that creates emotion beyond the artists involvement

Kevin C Mason

Art should trigger an emotion. Even if that is only the joy of using crayons in children’s colouring book with your kids. Art makes you think, dream and remember. Art will trigger the deepest emotions. Or confused why someone gets paid to throw paint on a wall when “I could do that”

Even if the only person who gets any benefit from the art is the artist themselves it is art.

So what about the AI Art app on iOS?

This week I downloaded the AI App called Wonder

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/wonder-ai-art-generator/id1621278575

I have been using this app to quickly generate art for our D&D game. (Did I mention I am a geek) While I can draw and paint characters myself I wanted to see how the app worked.

The concept works like this. You download the app onto your iPhone. Sign in. Then put a phrase into the search bar and select a style. In seconds the AI creates 2-4 different images.

The app combines artwork that is found on the net and alters it drastically. Filters content etc.

For example, I used the phrase “Robot reading a book”. It took the entire process of opening the app and downloading the results less than 60 seconds.

I have to admit it is fun! For me, it ticks all the ADHD buttons. My love of art and stories, the creativity of using a phrase and the code monkey part of my brain that would love to see the code behind this app.

Problems with the APP

Now, this has more to do with the technique and not the app creators themselves. As I personally feel they have done a great job with the app to the point where I have subscribed and even considered getting a lifetime subscription in order to support their efforts. . . . but

Uncanny Valley

You know those video games where you see the digital version of a person and it makes your skin crawl? That is called “the uncanny valley.” There are many theories of why this happens. My personal belief is it’s a throwback instinct from the caveman days when other species of “humans” would compete for resources. EWWWW A Neanderthal KILL IT !

The app will often throw up images of people where face is not right. Or the hands and legs are way off. (We are talking body-horror levels of NOPE!! ) While this is a problem at the moment never assume that tech will stay the same. After all the computer you are reading this blog post on would have filled up an entire building in 1969

As long as the uncanny valley is a thing I’m not expecting the portrait painter to be out of work.

Copyright & Trademark

My wife and I have had many conversations about this app and its copyright as she is a IP lawyer. (Website coming soon) While the app does protect itself by allowing the artist to take down their works. They even go out of their way to make sure that trademarked items are removed. But you need to understand that taking down copyrighted materials and trademarks would be a full-time job.

As a graphic artist, business or publisher who may want to use this app for quick art you may have problems with copyright & trademark. Do not expect to use this app to create Star Wars paintings to sell on eBay and not get a nasty letter from Lawyers who get paid more in an hour than you do all week.

Missing something

There is a reason why digital art is fantastic but nobody lines up to see it like Van Gogh’s Stary night. Something is missing. The micro mistakes that make a painting unique. The reason why a symphony in person sounds better than the digital version created by midi. The tiny almost imperceivable mistake of the third violinist is .00001 seconds slower than the others. Or the brush has a stray hair that makes each brush stroke unique.

OK cool, but will it replace artists?

In some cases yes. This does mean that graphic artists trying to save some money can spend the money to have a subscription to apps like this. However, when we go back to the original definition above about what is an artist … AI app is lacking something .. heart and soul this is not a lack of talent by the programmer just the nature of art.

Is your Apple device still safe?

The news is flooded with some scary reports of Apple devices being vulnerable to being taken over by hackers. But the Mac Cybersecurity community is wondering why this is news because Apple already released an update to fix the problem.

Let’s talk about this “Hack”

So what is this hack all about? There is what is called a bug bounty. This is what happens when a cybersecurity researcher finds a hole in the security of a major corporation and then reports it to that corporation for money. It’s how the good guys in the hacking world make money.

From there the company will research a fix to the security hole and create a fix via a software update! This is one of the reasons I am ways telling folks to update their devices. But are you safe to use Apple products?

Yes!! you are safe!

Unless you have a job where the prime minister knows your name there is a good chance that none of these hacks will ever be used on you. In fact, I know about only three people that are skilled enough to use this kind of hack. (They are too busy working to fix hacks like this to use them … and they are working for the good guys) Your ex is not going to have the skill set to use this kind of hack.(Their full-time job and degree would have to be in Cybersecurity to even understand how to turn on the software needed) The scammers who call on the phone are not skilled enough to use this hack. If you think they do .. then run software updates and relax.

But why is this a big deal in the news?

I listen to a lot of Mac-related cybersecurity podcasts. (yes I am thank kind of geek). Many reporters are confused about why the mainstream media is making a big deal about this. Apple has already produced an update and all you need to do is run software updates on your Computer, iPhone or iPad and you are protected.

The only thing that seems to make sense is that the iPhone 14 is coming out next month so any news report that you can slap on the word “Apple” will go viral.

Still, worried?

If you are still worried about being hacked then you really need to start by having a good password that is different on every account that you use.

Software does not have to be expensive to work. look at Open Source Software for Mac

I will start off by saying that I can’t spell and the word “Source” is one of those that I never seem to get right. (ADHD & Dyslexia) So expect an error to 10 in this post.

What is Open Source software?

Open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance.

opensource.com

“Source code” is the part of software that most computer users don’t ever see; it’s the code computer programmers can manipulate to change how a piece of software—a “program” or “application”—works. Programmers who have access to a computer program’s source code can improve that program by adding features to it or fixing parts that don’t always work correctly.

opensource.com

For most of you that does not seem like much but 90% of the time the software is free to use. This means that someone like me who is broke half the time can get the software to compete with the larger companies.

But is Open Source Software any Good after all it is free?

The short answer is YES!

The long answer is that every major tech company uses Open source software. Every website or device that has ever been hacked was cracked open by Open source software! This website … guess what … Open Source

While I do have some high-end Mac software Like Final Cut Pro, Motion and Logic I also have some software that I use every day in my business that is open source!

Open Source Software I use on My Mac Every Day

Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program )

The Free & Open Source Image Editor. Basically, it’s like Photoshop without the price tag. This is very powerful software. I have been using GIMP so much that the only reason why I have an Adobe creative cloud subscription is so I can teach how to use it.

I think the best part of this software is that there is a version that will run on any computer. Even the really old computers that should have been recycled years ago.

Digital Painting with Krita

Want to paint without the mess? Krita is the software you want. While some open source software seems to be “Free variations” of some other software. Krita is one of the software that can stand on its own.

Krita simulates brushstrokes and is perfect for the artist who wants to do digital painting. You can even download new brushes and filters. All the images below were created with Krita. See the brush strokes… That is all Krita.

Office Software

The only reason why I have an Office 365 subscription is that my clients ask questions about it and I need to have answers. But honestly I never really use it beyond tech support and teaching classes. (I prefer Numbers, Keynote and Pages honestly)

Libre Office

If you need office software but do not want to pay Microsoft Lebre Office is the way to go. Cross-platform and will “Run on a rusty spoon” (Geek talk for can run on any old computer)

This will allow you to open, edit and share Word, and Excel documents. The only thing you need to remember is to “Export” the files to .doc or .xls.

Get your email with Thunderbird

I never understand why people who pay for a Office 365 account every year because they think it is required to get their email. Thunderbird is free software that does the same thing.

We moved the Opening Date to Aug 13th

Sometimes you have to delay. While we could open the shop bare bones with just enough to do the work we have decided that we do not want to kill ourselves in the process. So we changed the opening date to AUG 13th.

Yarrr! What does opening a phone and Mac repair shop have to do with pirates?

If you are thinking of piracy having to do with BitTorrent …. I’m not that guy. (I have Married a Copyright lawyer…besides, I like open source software ). But there is this quote from Steve Jobs that has always inspired me.

“Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?”

Steve Jobs

I have never been one to play by the rules. Maybe it’s the ADHD or maybe its the Dyslexia. Maybe it’s the technical and creative parts of my brain that are almost 50/50? Who knows. But while many have to take a class to “Think outside of the box” I’m the one who gets in trouble because I ask “why does it have to be a box’? Half the time the only reason I did not get fired is that I am very good at my job. (I think that only Apple and my manager Josh truly appreciated me)

I learned a lot when I worked at Apple. How to look at problems in a new way. Why you should question some rules and break others. and most importantly to be different from everyone else.

“Aye Captian! There be rocks ahead!” but nobody listened to me!

All this time working for other people I have been paying attention. I tried to warn managers and owners of mistakes they were about to make. For some reason, nobody listened and I would jump ship and watch the wreck from a distance.

That time when a company lost world-renowned clients because they moved their support overseas… I warned them. but they did not listen.

The owner told me that we were no longer allowed to give “Advice” to clients because it was “A waste of company time” .. they did not listen when I said they would be our best customers.

The time I told the manager “trying to find a way to blame the client for a botched repair (A defective part) was a bad idea” …. he did not listen.

At the time I told my manager that the KPIs are going to force the staff to “game the system” to the detriment of their reputation. …..they did not listen

The list goes on.. and every time I got in trouble for pointing out the rocks. All this time I thought that there was something wrong with me.

Yarrrr Matey!! It be my ship now!

While we may have no budget. We have almost no staff. We don’t even have a budget for advertising, My mac I use to run my shop is 8 years old. If I told you my budget you would laugh. But now we have to expand because we are running out of space.

While setting up the shop for the opening I had a lot to think about what I have learned from others’ mistakes. While I am fully aware that business is about profit I know better than to listen to its siren song. I see the rocks!

Changes around here!

I’m told that there are no customers on Saturday? …. Ummm why are there so many cars? Maybe we will be open on Saturday. We are really thinking about this!

NO neckties! Wearing a tie does not equate to being professional. It also makes people think about the IT guy from work. NOPE! Not going to do it. Tradies can be covered in mud and still be professional then why not us? (This does not mean sloppy … just no ties)

I tell clients about our 90-day warranty on the repair and make them promise to bring the device back if the repair fails. I can’t fix it if you do not tell me! I need to build trust and the only way to do that is to make sure that I honour my word and make sure every repair is done to the best of my ability.

Talk like a Pirate day on September 19th. Yes, that might mean I dress up like a pirate that day… the only way to find out is to come in. Some may think it’s silly…. well that is kind of the point.

If I can fix it in under 10 minutes and it does not require a part .. it is FREE! And you will be amazed by what I can fix in less than 10 minutes. The same goes for advice. Come in and ask your question! If you need more than 10 minutes let’s talk about a class.

New phone and Mac repair shop located at 51 Main street Lithgow

We plan to open on August 10th 2022! That is not far away! See our other post about what changes we have made to the space

Mac, Phone repairs and Training.

Not only do I fix computers and Phones but I fix people. If you think that you can’t learn computers .. guess what? I can teach you. I have been teaching computers for over 20 years …. Trust me you will not be the worst student that ship has sailed (Got to keep up with the Pirate Puns)

  • Phone Repairs (iPhone and Android)
  • Mac Repairs
  • Refurbished Macs and Mobile Devices
  • Classes for all ages
  • 3D printing, Linux and Robots … OH MY!!

Call for Mac Hardware , OSX , iPhone Repair or Training. Blackheath Mac repairs

Where to get Glass screen protectors for iPhones in Lithgow?

When I first saw a screen protector while I was working at the Apple store in Bondi I honestly did not think it was a good idea. The flimsy plastic made the phone feel cheap and honestly, it did not do much to protect the phone. But that was way before the glass screen protectors.

Setting up a phone repair shop changed my mind.

For the last month, I have been working on opening up the new mac and phone repair shop on Main street in Lithgow. During this time I have been trying to keep the shop running (I rent a desk out of Lithgow Tech Services’ back room) so I always need to have my phone on me. I had just purchased a bunch of glass screen protectors for iPhones and figured I should try one out on my own phone. I am glad I did.

While I already had an idea that the glass screen protectors unlike super thin plastic could help protect phones. Looking at the phone today I can see that it actually worked as the guard is now covered in a few cracks and scratches that would have scared my phone’s glass face.

Sure I could just fix my iPhone screen. It is not like I do not repair iPhone Xs all day. But I am too busy working on my client’s phone repairs to work on my own. While the current screen protector is scratched and cracked I’m going to leave it on for a little longer while I set up the shop. I have a new product I want to test later.

Feels like the real thing.

I think what I did not like about the other plastic screen guards is that they like plastic phones. I never realised how much the smooth glass changed how it feels to use a phone…. but it does. The way I look at it .. if I have to check to see if there is a screen guard on the phone then it must be good.

Will not stop a hammer but it is better than nothing.

Look I am too honest to say that the screen protector will make your phone like superman. A direct hit from a hammer or falling face down on a pointy rock will crack your phone even if you have it covered. But what a screen guard will do is make those close calls easier not so close. (That sentence sounded better in my head)

Be careful of those salesmen who try to sell you a screen guard by holding a hammer and swinging it upwards to hit a phone they are holding with two fingers. The screen guard is not protecting it .. it’s physics. By swinging the phone upwards and striking the phone held by two fingers all the energy of the impact is lost. (It’s a stage magic trick)

Scratches! Keys in the same pocket as your phone. Dropping your handbag with your phone on the bottom. or even falling face down on the pavement. That screen protector can do it’s job and save you from a $200 repair bill.

When you get your iPhone repaired get a screen protector for $15 more!

I am not much for promotions but when you get your phone repaired by us get the glass screen protector for $15. We will even put it on for you. It does not even need to be a screen that gets repaired. If you have your battery replaced or need a new mic for your iPhone 11.. That works too!

Still working on the new Mac and phone repair shop!

I think the hardest part of opening the Mac & Phone repair shop is finding the time to do so while staying open. Here I was thinking that I could work on the new shop in between repairs….. but with the other phone repair shops in town closing down I have been flooded with all kinds of new customers. (My existing customers are returning as well)

Still open just may be a little dusty

I’m still working out of Lithgow Tech Services at 53 Main Street Lithgow because my shop next door is too dusty to work on client computers. So until I get the new shop cleaned up and set up for computer repairs I’m going to have to keep working at my current desk. So feel free to drop by and say hi. Will be happy to fix your computer or phone. I may have a bit of dust on my face.

The work so far

We started by painting in the walls but unfortunately, the wall on the other side of the room was still wet from the last flood. So all the sheetrock and paint had to be removed. This is taking a lot of time. While most renters would just slap some new paint and call it done we wanted to make it so when we leave the shop is in better condition than we arrived.

What is the new Address for the Mac and phone repair shop?

When will be we open?

We hope that the new shop will be open sometime in early August. We will see.

Future Proofing how my buiness uses our Macs

One of the interesting challenges that I face with opening up the shop is setting up all the computers and files for expansion. Because I have been working on my own for some time I have all my files the way I like them. Everything can be accessed with the various passwords that I use. Normal computer use. But now that I’m opening up the shop with the express goal of making it so my wife can help out with the retail and training aspects I need to change things a bit.

While just giving my wife the new password would work I have to consider that at some point I’m going to need to hire someone to help with the shop. When that happens even though I am a good judge of character I need o make sure that. I have the means to protect the business if I am wrong.

Instead of just assuming that it will always be me and my wife working I need to build the Macs and network now in a way that will allow expansion.

User Profiles

This should be more common but it is not. User profiles is where each person who uses a computer gets their own access to a computer. This allows them to alter how the computer is used to suit their needs. This also means that if that person were to leave the company for any reason (Good or Bad) it makes it so we can remove their access.

This also means that by altering their access they can have access to only the files they need to do their job. After all, I do not need an iPhone repair Technician to be able to have access to my bank accounts.

While I am a trusting person … having clear boundaries is important.

Secure Backups.


Bad things happen to even the most well-maintained computers. My entire business model is based on this. While cloud backups are a great idea I can’t afford to have online backups of all my data. And with the concept that sometimes I will have clients’ data backed up as well, I need to be sure that I have that security and not in a cloud relying on someone tech guy with no budget to keep everything secure.

So I will be using two or more encrypted backups! Then do a swap of the data off-site. So there will always be data away from the shop in the case of a fire etc.

Synced folders over a local network

While some folks like Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive and Mega file sharing programs do not suit my needs because I need to really control how the data is shared. So I use software called Syncthing. This is software that allows folders to be synced (Not shared) over the network. So all files are always up to date all the time.

Because of the selective sync, it means that computers and user profiles will only have specific folders synced.

This will also make sure that Key folders are synced to the Mac that is backed up all the time. (Making it so only one computer needs to be backed up … not five)

Naming conventions and notes

With my ADHD I am a chaotic person …. until you see my case notes. They are clear and methodical. Every time someone brings me a device that needs to be repaired it is documented. Every step of troubleshooting of an odd software case is documented. In the unlikely case of something going wrong, I have documentation to not only find out what went wrong but protect the company if the nature of what when wrong was not our fault. (Liquid damage, Data loss before the system was brought int etc)

Because of this the process of taking notes, Keeping paperwork and what to record and what not to record will be clearly documented. (Like we do not ever record credit card numbers or passwords EVER)

By naming files correctly we avoid the mountain of “Untitled Documents” while looking for notes on a repair or invoice. We also make sure that everyone knows what to look for when they need to find a file.

Separation of Personal and Work data

This is another one of those things that are important. Many of small business owners should consider this….. but don’t. My computer has different profiles to keep my personal life and my work life separate. I have had a client have notifications from a dating app pop up during a presentation with their client. They were very embarrassed. (Even though the client did not care)

For us this means an Apple ID just for the shop devices. Not that I mind that Disney Plus shows the latest Star Wars series comes out next week as a pop-up notification while I am at work I also do not need my Daughter who just sent me a text of my Wife’s Suprise Bday party to show up while my wife is serving a client. By having an Apple ID just for internal work will help to avoid this kind of mishap.

Different networks for internal and Guests

While we will be sharing our wifi with folks who come in .. Their wifi will be restricted to access the internet only. Making sure that nobody can access our internal network will be important.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been given a wifi password for a Cafe and have seen not only other guests on the network but the manager’s computer in the back. While the chance of someone coming in and hacking is slim it is better to be safe than sorry.

This also means that our guest’s Wifi passwords will change often.

Finding the balance between ease of access and security

Cybersecurity is a sliding scale. The extreme sides are the ease of use where everyone can access all data easily and the other is everything is so secure that productivity is lost due to the number of security steps needed to do your job.

It is a common problem with IT guys to make things so secure that everything becomes difficult to use. For myself being tech savvy and with redundant methods of getting things done, this is not a problem. But what happens when I hire someone who is going to focus on retail?

This is why having a real and accurate look at what our real security needs are is important.

Client Data Privacy

Want to see me angry! I mean really angry? When I see another tech misuse a client’s data! Ohh that makes me angry. I go out of my way to respect clients’ data sometimes to the point of making a job take longer because I need to get permission to access a folder that looks like it may be private (Bank account records, photo libraries etc)

For example, I have ways of removing someone’s Photos database without looking at a single photo. In situations where clients’ data needs to be backed up onto one of our machines, we use specific computers with hard drives that are securely wiped after the job is done. Or only have data on hard drives that is purchased by the client.

While I know many of my clients would love to have me keep records of their Apple ID passwords that is a big fat No!

By having a clear policy we avoid all kinds of mistakes that could result in a bad day.

This is just the beginning

Yes, this is a lot to think about. However, it is better to do it now than to have to make this sort of change two years from now when we need to hire someone.

Apple & Google pay safer than credit cards in your wallet

I am not always one of those people who dive head first into new tech! No really! I was one of those people who said that Video cameras on smartphones were going to be a dud! (Yeah … maybe stock advice from me is not the best idea) Paying for things from your phone was one of those things. I thought that it would never catch on. Then I started to use it.

Why is using your phone to pay for things safer?

While some people do not trust Apple or Google to have access to your credit card numbers you are probably the same person who hands the credit card to the server at a restaurant to pay for your meal. Let’s break it down why your smartphone is a safer way.

Banks already do a good job of protecting you from credit card fraud.

So before you think that I’m going to disparage banks for their security on credit cards think again. They do a great job of protecting you. However, there are some times when it is too late and the damage is done. The iPhone or Android device has an extra passcode in order to use the Apple pay or Google Pay feature.

You have to know your card is stollen to report it missing

IF you drop your card or it is stolen from you in a way that you did not notice it could be some time before you or the banks starts to notice odd transactions. By having your cards on your phone you always have access to those cards in a handheld vault.

While we may not notice that your card has been stolen, You always notice when your phone’s battery is less than 30%. Making it more likely that you are going to be aware of where it is at all times

You can remote wipe your phone

One of the advantages to security on phones is the ability to remote wipe them. This makes it so you can destroy the cards in your phone from across the planet if you need to, And it is much easier than calling your bank to have a card deactivated.

Takes up less space

There are a few of you who have a whole list of cards. Your wallet must be really thinking. Whereas the cards with Apple Pay take up no space at all.

Resistant to RFID Scraping

This is a method of using an RFID transmitter to get your credit card numbers. The worst part is that it can happen and you never know it. While the banks are always working on ways to prevent this from happening there will always be someone who has found a way around it.

Unlike real cards, your phone only transmits when you are using the card. This gives your bank account an extra layer of protection versus being scraped.

Drawbacks of using Apple Pay

While I am a fan of this tech there are also some drawbacks. They are not big ones but they are important enough that every smartphone user should consider before leaving their credit card at home.

No battery no money

I did have an issue once where I needed to pay for something and my phone battery was flat. So it kind of defeats the purpose of using the phone if you carry your cards around anyway.

Now offering refurbished iPhones & iPads

I’m very picky about the services and products we offer. So when I found a distributor for refurbished iPhones, I had to take another closer look. I did my research, checked reviews and even made a few phone calls. I even ordered iPhone 8 for my wife. She has been using it for about three months now and she has been very happy with the results.

So why get a refurbished iPhone?

There are a lot of reasons to get a refurbished phone but I’m going to list a few here.

Great Price for an iPhone that works!

One of the biggest reasons to get a refurbished iPhone is the price. We all have expensive hobbies like living indoors, eating and trying to keep petrol in the car. So why do we need to get a new iPhone? Do we really need to be on a new plan? While I have always felt that you get what you pay for with Apple and the iPhone is worth every penny. (IF you buy a cheap Android Phone you will really see the difference) but I often do not see the need to pay full price for a phone that has features I will never use.

In most cases, you don’t need the latest iPhone.

I will never complain about getting the newest iPhone. However, I still do not use all the features of my iPhone Xs. Most people are happy with the basic features. Most of the features of iOS work across iPhones anyway.

Better for the environment.

The world would be a lot happier if we did not change our iPhones every year. Using a refurbished iPhone is better for the environment. The resources have already been used. So you can use the new to your iPhone without any guilt about the environment.

Supporting a Lithgow Business

By getting your Reconditioned iPhones through me you are keeping my lights on and I thank you for that. Every little bit helps. Maybe if I sell enough of these phones I can afford to get an upgrade myself.

Extra services with a smile

Not only can I sell you the phone I can teach you how to use it. I can transfer your data to the new phone and I can add a screen protector and a case while we are at it. All with the idea that you will come back at some point. If I do a really good job at customer service you might even tell someone else about me.

Warranty on All iPhones

All our iPhones have a six-month warranty that covers the function of the phone. (Sorry if you drop it or liquid damage that is not covered) but not only that I want to know if there are any issues with the phone because I can not fix it if you do not tell me.

What iPhones do I carry?

At the moment we are doing everything in a special order, but as I have more and more happy customers I will buy reconditioned iPhones to have in stock! Drop into the store and let’s see what I can order.

Little scratch saves you money

Most of the Refurbished iPhones are in very good condition but a few will have minor cosmetic damage. (Some that you may not even notice) The prices of iPhones that have minor damage have already been dropped. And when you consider that you are just going to put a case on it anyway. Does it really matter So you get a Price drop for a scar that will hide under the iPhone case 🙂 sounds like a good deal on a phone to me.

Currently using Refurbished iPhones in our business

It is one thing to say that the phones are good quality it is another to actually be using them in our business. We can not afford to have issues with our phones to the point where I will not load the new version of iOS on them just in case there is an issue. So when I say that we have been using reconditioned iPhones for about six months and have not had an issue I mean it.

Come take a look at our selection of Refurbished iPhones today! If you do not see something you like we can order you one.