Categories
Security

How to Password Protect a PDF

PDF is a user-friendly, printable, downloadable file format that works across all systems. In our digital age, PDF has replaced many paper documents, making security all the more important. Thankfully, PDFs have password-protected encryption built directly into the format, whether you’re running Windows or MacOS. There are several methods to password protect a PDF. In this guide, we will walk you through each of the methods.

More PDF guides

Password protecting a PDF with Adobe Acrobat

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Step 1: Navigate to the main Adobe Acrobat Pro DC free trial page and click the blue Get Started button. You’ll need to sign up for an Adobe Creative Cloud account, which involves providing your name and email address, as well as creating a new password. (If you’re already a subscriber of Adobe Acrobat Pro DC and have the software installed on your system, skip ahead to step 4.) You’ll also have to input a payment method so that Adobe can charge you after the trial period — be sure to cancel before the indicated date if you don’t want to keep up the subscription.

Once you’ve entered and submitted your information, you’ll be taken to a confirmation page. On this page, click on the Get Started button to start your trial. Then, follow the on-screen prompts to download and install Adobe Acrobat Pro DC.

Step 2: If you don’t already have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed, then you’ll need to install the DC Pro version. Otherwise, it will only upgrade what you already have installed to the fancier version. If asked whether you want to buy or continue your trial, pick the option to continue.

Step 3: Once Adobe Acrobat Pro DC is launched, make sure you’re signed in using the Sign In link in the top-right corner. Then, click the File menu in the upper-left corner, and select Open. Choose the PDF file you want to password protect from its respective save location, and click the Open button.

Step 4: Select File, and then choose Protect Using Password.

Adobe password protect method screenshot
screenshot

Step 5: In the dialog box that pops up, choose your password requirements (whether or not users will need a password to edit or view your document), set your password, and select any Advanced Options if desired. Once you have everything the way you want it, click Apply.

adobe password protect screenshot of final step
screenshot

If you’re sending this password to others, it’s probably best to choose one that you don’t use for other services — which is good advice in general. Recent versions of Adobe will even rate how difficult your password will be to guess, so try to pick a password that gets a strong rating. Preferably, the password will be one that includes a combination of lowercase letters, capitalization, and numbers.

If you’re worried about forgetting your password, you can always use a password manager.

Restricting edits and printing with Adobe Acrobat

Password protecting a PDF document isn’t necessarily a catch-all security measure. Adobe Acrobat DC, for instance, will also allow you to password protect specific tasks such as editing and printing. Here’s how to do just that.

Step 1:  Open the PDF document.

Step 2: Select the Tools tab, and then scroll down to select Protect.

adobe edit restrict screenshot 1
screenshot

Step 3: Select Advanced Options. From the drop-down menu that appears, choose Encrypt With Password. You’ll be asked if you want to change the security of the document. Click Yes.

Step 4: In the Password Security window that appears, tick the box next to the phrase Restrict Editing and Printing of the Document.

Adobe password edit settings screenshot
screenshot

Step 5: Under the Permissions section, choose the types of printing and editing that will be allowed for the document by clicking on the drop-down menus next to the phrases Printing Allowed and Changes Allowed, respectively. Select any other appropriate options for this document by ticking their respective boxes in this section. Set your Change Permissions Password by typing it in the text box next to that phrase.

Step 6: In the Options section, select your compatibility and encryption options. Once you’re done, click OK. You’ll then prompted to confirm your Change Permissions Password. When you’re ready to save your new security settings, hit Save on your document one last time. You have to save your document in order to save your security settings for it.

If you need a full explanation of each security option offered by Adobe, check out their detailed help guide on the matter.

Password protecting a PDF with PDFMate

Not everyone wants to spend a significant portion of their paycheck on a PDF platform with added security capabilities. Thankfully, there are alternatives to Adobe’s premium suite, so long as you don’t mind passing on some of the features and design aesthetics of Adobe Acrobat DC.

Once installed, PDFMate Free PDF Merger allows you to combine specific pages and encrypt entire documents without the hefty price tag. Similarly to Adobe Acrobat DC, PDF Mate’s program lets you set permission passwords for your files, as well as specifying individual passcodes for tasks such as editing, copying, and printing.

Step 1: Head over to the PDFMate Free PDF Merger website, click the Free Download button near the bottom of the page and then follow the on-screen installation instructions. When complete, launch the application.

Step 2: Click the Add Files button in the upper-left corner, and double-click the PDF document you want to password protect.

Step 3: Your PDF should automatically show up in the list of available files. Check the box beside Open Password, and enter your password into the corresponding text field. To turn on password protection while editing, printing, and copying, be sure to check the box next to Permission Password and the corresponding tasks underneath.

Step 4: After you’ve finished adding your password, click on Build in the bottom right-hand corner of the application window. Afterward, a folder will automatically open with your new password-protected PDF. Presto!

Note: Be sure to choose the appropriate Output Settings for your document before you click on the Build button. PDFMate’s default layout settings may mess up the formatting of your document otherwise.

How to password protect a PDF in MacOS

Most image formats and documents are openable with the built-in Preview app in macOS. It also offers basic but necessary editing capabilities, which is why we call it the “hidden” Paint app on every Mac. As it turns out, this same app can encrypt any PDF in just a few steps.

MacOS Preview Export PDF

Step 1: You’ll want to use finder to locate and click on the target PDF file. Right-click on this file, select Open With, and then select Preview on the resulting pop-up menu. If preview is your default app, you can just select open here.. Alternatively, you can open the Launchpad, locate and open Preview, and then locate and open the target PDF.

Step 2:  Once PDF is open, click File before selecting Export from the drop-down menu.

MacOS Preview Encrypt PDF

Step 3: Soon, the Export pop-up window should appear. Enter a name, select a destination, and then check the box directly left of Encrypt.

Step 4: The Export pop-up window will get bigger. You’ll be provided with a space where you should enter your new password. Enter it again in the Verify field.

Step 5: Click the Save button to complete. To ensure that it’s encrypted, open the modified PDF. If the encryption was successful, a password prompt will appear. Re-enter the correct password to ensure that it works properly.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Tech News

Apple may bring MagSafe and SD card slots back to the MacBook

Apple engineers are apparently feeling bit of nostalgia up in Cupertino. After reports the company is apparently planning on killing the Touch Bar, a report from Bloomberg suggests the company is planning to bring back the MagSafe charger and SD card slots.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with MagSafe, it was the company’s way of preventing your laptop (or you) from shattering when you inevitably tripped over the charger. The company began to abandon MagSafe after introducing USB-C with the 2015 MacBook. As great as USB-C is, it doesn’t do much to prevent you from tripping.

An upcoming MacBook Air, to be released in late 2021 or sometime in 2022, will apparently feature MagSafe once more. It will also feature a pair of USB-4 ports (still using the USB-C shape), and be smaller and lighter than the current MacBook Air. This will be achieved in part by shrinking the bezels.

It’s not clear what form the new MagSafe charger will take — whether Apple will revive the old connector or come up with a new one.

Either way, it strikes me as an odd move. The company recently bragged about no longer including chargers with its smartphones, citing environmental reasons, so it seems weird they’d reintroduce a charger when USB-C is such a reliable connector for devices that fit within its power capabilities.

But according to Bloomberg, the return of MagSafe is an attempt to appeal to Mac loyalists. To that end, it’s reported to be bringing back the SD card slot on the MacBook Pro — a feature we haven’t seen since 2016. That’ll certainly appeal to the may photographers on MacOS; it’s 2020, but SD cards don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon.

Apple apparently also considered cellular connectivity and Face ID on upcoming Macs, but neither feature is likely to arrive this year. There was also a 15-inch MacBook Air in the works, but the project is apparently scrapped for now.

Did you know we have a newsletter all about consumer tech? It’s called Plugged In –
and you can subscribe to it right here.

Published January 22, 2021 — 23:26 UTC



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Categories
Game

Optical vs. Laser Mouse | Digital Trends

Finding a mouse that achieves the perfect balance between sensitivity and accuracy might seem next to impossible. Laser-based mice offer high sensitivity, but they tend to cause jittering. On the flip side, optical mice use LED technology with lower sensitivity, allowing for more accurate movement.

Choosing the best mouse for you can be a challenge. Luckily, we can help you decide based on your budget, the surface you’re using, and the types of activities you’ll need your mouse for.

Guess what? All mice are optical

Modern mice are basically cameras. They constantly take pictures, although instead of capturing your face, they grab images of the surface underneath. These images aren’t meant for posting on social media but instead are converted into data for tracking the peripheral’s current location on a surface. Ultimately, you have a low-resolution camera in the palm of your hand, otherwise known as a CMOS sensor. Combined with two lenses and a source of illumination, they track the peripheral’s X and Y coordinates thousands of times per second.

All mice are optical, technically, because they take photos, which is optical data. However, the ones marketed as optical models rely on an infrared or red LED that projects light onto a surface. This LED is typically mounted behind an angled lens, which focuses the illumination into a beam. That beam is bounced off the surface, through the “imaging” lens that magnifies the reflected light, and into the CMOS sensor.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The CMOS sensor collects the light and converts the light particles into an electrical current. This analog data is then converted into 1’s and 0’s, resulting in more than 10,000 digital images captured each second. These images are compared to generate the precise location of the mouse, and then the final data is sent to the parent PC for cursor placement every one to eight milliseconds.

On older LED mice, you will find the LED pointing straight down, and shining a red beam onto the surface that’s seen by the sensor. Jump ahead years later, and the LED light is projected at an angle — and typically unseen (infrared). This helps the mouse track its movements on most surfaces.

Laser mice use an accurate, invisible beam

Meanwhile, Logitech takes the credit for introducing the first mouse to use a laser in 2004. More specifically, it is called a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser diode (or VCSEL) which is used in laser pointers, optical drives, barcode readers, and more.

This infrared laser replaces the infrared/red LED on “optical” models, but don’t worry. It won’t damage your eyes, because the lasers used by mice aren’t powerful (still, don’t press your luck and stare at it for minutes at a time).

They’re also in infrared — outside the visible spectrum — so you won’t see an annoying red glow emanating from beneath your mouse.

Razer Mamba 2015
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

At one time, laser models were believed to be far superior to “optical” versions. Over time, though, optical mice have improved, and they now work in a variety of situations with a high degree of accuracy. The laser model’s superiority stemmed from having a higher sensitivity than LED-based mice. However, unless you’re a PC gamer, that’s probably not an important feature.

Comparison: Optimal surfaces

All right, both methods use the irregularities of a surface to keep track of the peripheral’s position. But a laser can go deeper into the surface texture. This provides more information for the CMOS sensor and processor inside the mouse to juggle, and hand over to the parent PC.

That matters in situations where the surface may not be ideal for all types of mice. For example, although glass is clear, there are still extremely small irregularities that can be tracked by a laser (it’s not always perfect, but enough for basic mouse work). Meanwhile, we could place the latest optical mouse on the same surface, and it can’t track any movement.

This makes laser-based mice better for glass tables and highly lacquered surfaces, depending on where you want to use it.

Comparison: Sensitivity

Razer Viper Ultimate Mouse
Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

The problem with laser-based mice is that they can be too accurate, picking up useless information such as the unseen hills and valleys of a surface. This can be troublesome when moving at slower speeds, causing on-screen cursor “jitter,” or what’s better known as acceleration.

The result is some incorrect 1:1 tracking stemming from useless data thrown into the overall tracking mix used by the PC. The cursor won’t appear in the exact location at the exact time your hand intended. Although the problem has improved over the years, laser mice still aren’t ideal if you’re sketching details in Adobe Illustrator. They also tend to perform better on simple surfaces that don’t have a lot of information to scan and relay.

However, this issue becomes more complex when you look at settings options. The CMOS sensor resolution in a laser mouse is different than a camera because it’s based on movement. The sensor consists of a set number of physical pixels aligned in a square grid. The resolution stems from the number of individual images captured by each pixel during a movement of one physical inch across a surface. Because the physical pixels can’t be resized, the sensor can use image processing to divide each pixel into smaller pieces.

That image processing can be adjusted, which is what mice sensitivity settings do. So, for example, if you had a laser mouse that was picking up too much data and dancing around your screen, you could lower sensitivity and help minimize that effect. So while laser mice might be naturally too sensitive for some surfaces, this can be mitigated, which levels the playing field for both types of mouse.

Comparison: Gaming

Logitech MX Master

If you look at the Logitech G brand, you’ll notice that Logitech mostly focuses on LED-based mice when it comes to PC gaming. That’s because the customer base is typically sitting at a desk, and possibly even using a mouse mat designed for the best tracking and friction. They want simple and highly accurate results and absolutely no cursor jitter, so this makes sense.

But Logitechs’s biggest competitor, Razer, lists a number of gamer-specific laser-based mice on its online store. Razer prefers laser technology because it offers higher sensitivity for lightning-quick movement in games. On the right surfaces, laser mice can be amazingly precise, so this also makes sense!

Overall, we don’t think that optical or laser technology is, by itself, enough to recommend any particular mouse for gaming.

Comparison: Pricing

When laser mice first came out, they were significantly more expensive than optical mouse. Today, there’s not nearly as much difference between prices, especially since mice come in so many different tiers for features, customization, ergonomics, and more.

This smooths out the differences, especially at the high end. Getting a top-tier mouse is going to cost you $50 to $100 no matter what sensor type you pick. Down at the other end of the market, the most affordable laser mice still tend to be $5 to $10 more expensive than optical mice. Not a huge difference, but worth noting.

So, Which is better?

One essential consideration if you’re struggling to choose between an optical and laser mouse is how you want to use the product.

The laser mouse is generally a superior choice for companies, as it’s versatile and usable across many different surfaces. Chances are you will never encounter an issue if you happen to switch desks at some point.

You can also use a laser mouse for on-the-go or at-home use. It’s easily transportable, which makes it a fantastic option for laptop users.

In contrast, You can better use optical mouses with mousepads. They are also a bit more budget-friendly. You can use these mouses for gaming, for your stationary home desktop computer, and other similar situations in which you are not moving around.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
AI

AI Weekly: The Biden administration, algorithmic bias, and restoring the soul of America

This week, Joe Biden made his case to the American people about how to restore the soul of America and talked about “what we owe our forebears, one another, and generations to follow.”

Biden chose to run for president in reaction to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, South Carolina, and on Wednesday he became the first president to mention white supremacy in a presidential inauguration speech, calling for the defeat of domestic terrorism and the social hierarchy older than the United States. In his speech, Biden stressed virtues like tolerance, humility, empathy, and, above all, unity.

There was a prayerful moment of silence for 400,000 lost to COVID-19 and the message that defeating the forces that divide us is what’s required in order to make the U.S. a “leading force for good in the world.” It was, as the New York Times Daily podcast called it, not unlike a church sermon.

But the Biden administration enters office with one of the longest to-do lists in U.S. history. From COVID-19 to economic recovery to inequality wrought from America’s original sin of racism, and following a lack of executive leadership and a coup attempt, the Biden administration has to address multiple crises, but artificial intelligence is part of the agenda in several major ways set to play out in the coming weeks and the next four years.

Applying civil rights to tech policy

Democratic control of both houses of Congress means new legislation could be on the way to address a range of tech policy issues. Some early signs point heavily to the fact that the Biden administration plans to handle enforcement of existing law and regulation in very different ways than the Trump administration, particularly on issues like algorithmic bias, according to FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter.

“I think there’s a lot of unity on the Democratic side and a lot of consensus about the direction that we need to go,” Slaughter said while speaking as part of a Protocol panel conversation about tech and the first 100 days of the Biden administration. On Thursday, Biden appointed Slaughter to be the acting chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). “For me, algorithmic bias is an economic justice issue. We see disparate outcomes coming out of algorithmic decision-making that disproportionately affect and harm Black and brown communities and affect their ability to participate equally in society. That’s something we need to address.”

Speaking as a commissioner, she said one of her priorities is centering enforcement on anti-racist practices and confronting unfair market practices that disproportionately impact people of color. This will include treating antitrust enforcement and unfair market practices as racial justice issues.

Brookings Institution senior fellow and Center for Technology Innovation director Nicol Turner Lee also spoke during the panel conversation. Without attention to issues like algorithmic bias or data privacy, “we actually run the risk of going backwards.” The question becomes, Lee said, what kind of policy and enforcement support will the Biden administration put toward that aim.

“There’s no reason that you couldn’t start in this administration applying every existing civil rights statute to tech. Period. When you design a credit analysis tool that relies on algorithms, make sure it’s compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Going to design a housing tool? Make sure it complies with the Fair Housing Act. To me that’s a simple start that actually had some traction in Congress,” Lee said.

Earlier this month, Biden appointed civil rights attorneys Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke as associate attorney general and assistant attorney general for civil rights respectively. Both have a history of challenging algorithmic bias at companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. In testimony and letters to Congress in recent years, Gupta has stressed that machine learning “must protect civil rights, prevent discrimination, and advance equal opportunity.”

Finally, last week Biden said he planned to elevate the position of science advisor and Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) head Dr. Eric Lander to cabinet level. Dr. Alondra Nelson will act as OSTP deputy director for science and society. AI, she said in a ceremony with President Biden and Vice President Harris, is technology that can “reveal and reflect even more about the complex and sometimes dangerous social architecture that lies beneath the scientific progress that we pursue.”

“When we provide inputs to the algorithm; when we program the device; when we design, test, and research; we are making human choices, choices that bring our social world to bear in a new and powerful way,” she said.

In the first hours of his administration, President Biden signed an executive order to advance racial equality that instructs the OSTP to participate in a newly formed working group tasked with disaggregating government data. This initiative is based in part on concerns that an inability to analyze such data impedes efforts to advance equity.

Confronting white supremacy in AI

The Biden administration comes into office amid signs of slow progress toward addressing risks associated with deploying AI and recent events that seem to signal the collapse of AI ethics at Google. According to a 2020 McKinsey survey, business leaders are slowly addressing 10 major risks associated with artificial intelligence at glacial rates that seem comparable to the lack of progress on diverse hiring in tech.

Understanding the role of white supremacy in the insurrection seems essential to interrogate as part of the future of democracy in the United States. But links to white supremacy have also been found in the AI industry, and the white default in the intelligence industry persists after a year of efforts to interrogate artificial whiteness and anti-Blackness in artificial intelligence.

Examples of how AI can be found in Biden policy goals include *addressing* the ongoing spread of disinformation and hate speech for profit on Facebook and YouTube, as well as debate happening now over facial recognition.

Another example comes from Clearview AI, a company built on billions of images scraped from the internet without permission. Clearview AI CEO Hoan Ton-That says its tech is currently used by thousands of police departments and, according to Gothamist reporting this week, more than 100 prosecutor’s offices in the United States.

In comments this week, Ton-That said his identity as a person of race as a reason why he’s committed to “non-biased technology,” but Clearview AI has a history of ties with white supremacist groups and seeking out government contracts.

Clearview AI usage reportedly went up following the insurrection two weeks weeks ago. Policy analysts with a history of sponsoring legislation to regulate AI on human rights grounds warned VentureBeat earlier this month that use of facial recognition to find white supremacists involved with the insurrection can lead to the proliferation of technology in society that ultimately impacts Black people.

Healing wounds and making history

In his inauguration speech Wednesday, Biden said “the U.S. will lead not only by the example of our power but by the power of our example.” Many major AI issues will have to be addressed during Biden’s time in office.

The Biden administration may oversee more use of complex AI models by the U.S. government. According to a study released roughly one year ago by Stanford and New York University, only 15% of AI used by federal agencies is considered highly sophisticated. The Biden administration will also take part in upcoming talks about lethal autonomous weapons, a subject European politicians addressed this week. The final recommendations of the National Security Council on AI, a group appointed by Congress with commissions representing Big Tech executives, is due out later this year.

There’s also the need to, as one researcher put it, introduce legal intervention to provide redress and more definitively answer the question of who is held responsible when AI hurts people.

The ceremony in Washington this week, of course, was not just notable in keeping the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power intact. The first woman in U.S. history was sworn in as vice president, Kamala Harris. Then hours later, she swore in Jon Ossoff, the youngest senator in generations; Raphael Warnock, the first Black man elected to the U.S. Senate by voters from a southern state; and Alex Padilla, the first Latino to represent the state of California in the Senate.

It was a statement of commitment to a multiracial democracy where everyone is treated equally and a reestablishment of the rule of law two weeks after a white supremacist coup attempt. Part of keeping that promise — and, as Biden said, leading by example — will be addressing ways in which algorithmic decision making systems and machine learning can harm people.

That spirit is also seen in how Biden decorated the Oval Office with busts of icons like Cesar Chavez, Eleanor Roosevelt, MLK Jr., and Rosa Parks. But he also brought a moon rock collected by NASA into the Oval Office and made Presidential Science Advisor a cabinet-level position.

How the Biden administration chooses to treat the ways in which AI is used in society doesn’t just have the potential to affect how businesses, governments, and law enforcement adopt and use the technology in the United States. It also determines the moral clarity with which the United States can declare that, for example, the way China treats Muslim minority groups is wrong and must change, which the outgoing and incoming presidential administrations both call a genocide. After all, the U.S. would have little ground to stand on for an argument about China using surveillance technology to accelerate imprisonment of a minority group if the United States chooses to do the same.

For AI coverage, send news tips to Khari Johnson and Kyle Wiggers and AI editor Seth Colaner — and be sure to subscribe to the AI Weekly newsletter and bookmark our AI channel, The Machine.

Thanks for reading,

Khari Johnson

Senior AI Staff Writer

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Categories
Tech News

Best USB-C power adapters for iPhone 12: Buying tips, recommendations

If you’ve ordered a new iPhone 12, you’ll notice that the box is a whole lot slimmer than in previous years. That’s because the bulkiest accessory is gone: the power adapter. In fact, Apple has removed the charger from all iPhones it sells, so whether you’re spending $399 on an iPhone SE or $1,399 on a maxed-out iPhone 12 Pro Max, you need to bring your own charger.

Any old charger and Lightning cable you have lying around will work, of course. But if you’ve been using Apple’s old 5W adapter, it’s a perfect time to upgrade. For the first time, Apple is supplying a USB-C-to-Lightning cable in all iPhone boxes to allow for fast charging, so all you need is the right charger.

Watch the wattage

apple 5watt iphone charger Apple

You probably have Apple’s 5-watt charger. It works with the iPhone 12, but settle in, because the charging will be slow. 

The most important thing to consider when buying a new charger is the amount of wattage it will provide to your device. For years, Apple supplied “good-enough” 5-watt chargers in the iPhone box, which take about 2.5 hours to fill up your iPhone. That was fine for the iPhone 5 and earlier, which didn’t support fast charging, but the newest iPhone 12 models are capable of working with chargers that handle up to 20 watts. You can fill up about 50 percent of an iPhone 12’s battery in about 30 minutes with the right adapter.

So you should get a USB-C charger that’s capable of delivering a 20-watt charge. Quite frankly, it’s harder to find one that doesn’t than one that does, but you’ll want to make sure you’re at least getting the bare minimum to allow for maximum fast charging. You’ll also want to make sure the charger supports USB Power Delivery, which any third-party charger almost certainly will do.

Check the size and the specs

Apple’s chargers have always been light, small, and portable, but some third-party adapters make them seem downright bulky. That’s due to the newest charging tech, gallium nitride (GaN), which allows for adapters that are significantly smaller and more power-efficient.

Charger makers have already begun replacing the silicon inside power adapters with gallium nitride, and the size difference is significant. For example, the Anker PowerPort Atom III is 35 percent smaller than the adapter Apple supplies with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, despite delivering the same 60-watt charge. Unless you’re buying one of the models here—which are all GaN except for Apple’s adapter—be sure to check out the dimensions in the technical specs.

Count the ports

Just because Apple only allows you to charge one device per plug doesn’t mean they all have to be that way. Many third-party adapters offer multiple ports on a single wall charger. If you’re going to be regularly charging more than one device at a time, buy an adapter with at least two ports—some have as many as four ports. You can even get a mix of USB-C and USB-A, depending on your needs.

Prongs: To fold or not to fold

After you decide how much power and how many ports you need, just one question remains: Do you want the prongs to fold or not? Some third-party chargers have folding prongs to protect the adapter as well as other items if you toss it in a bag, but Apple’s 20W charger and a few others have protruding prongs. It’s a small thing, but it could make a big difference in your travel bag.

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Categories
Computing

Laptop Buying Guide: What to Look For in 2020 and What to Avoid

Whether you’re loyal to Windows, a Mac fan, or willing to try something new, you should know what to look for in a laptop before making an investment. There’s more to consider than just the operating system. Does it have the screen you want? Are there ports that support your peripherals? Can it play games in 1080p? These are considerations you need to weigh.

In this guide, we explain what you should look for in 2020, and what you need to avoid. There are many options available to you for both Windows 10 and Chrome OS, whereas Apple limits its MacBooks to a limited number of configurations. Continue on to find out which laptop is right for you.

Mac, Windows, or something else?

The operating system should be your first major consideration. While traditionally that debate was dominated by Apple’s MacOS and Microsoft’s Windows, Google’s Chrome OS is now a very popular alternative typically offered on much more affordable laptops.

While there are certainly comparable hardware and features offered with these platforms, there are some stark differences between them that are important to consider.

Windows

Windows-based PCs are an incredibly diverse category. Dozens of manufacturers make them, and the quality and pricing can vary greatly depending on which model and brand you choose. The fastest models will surpass Macs in terms of performance, and many companies tailor their Windows PCs to a specific purpose, such as gaming or business.

Windows PCs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A standard laptop with a clamshell design and a keyboard-mouse interface is easy to find. Touchscreen Windows laptops can be found even in the lower price brackets, which is not something you’ll see on any Apple MacBook — unless you count the Touch Bar.

More elaborate designs include fold-back screens or even detachable tablet-keyboard combos, such as Microsoft’s Surface Book range. Meanwhile, Apple reserves the 2-in-1 design for its iPad Pro family, as you won’t see a convertible or detachable MacBook.

On the software side, Windows is far more open-ended than MacOS. It’s the standard for game development and many business-related programs, empowering a larger software library. Windows enjoys major updates with new features more frequently too: Biannually versus annually with Apple’s MacOS.

Unlike Apple’s more limited lineup of hardware, there is plenty of choice in the Windows laptop space. Whether you opt for a major manufacturer like Lenovo, Dell, or one of Microsoft’s own devices, you have a ton of options.

MacOS

Macbook Air (2018) Review

Apple has always been protective of its brand, releasing products in very deliberate iterations. Any Apple product will follow its standards, whereas any manufacturer can make a Windows or Chrome OS-based PC with unique specs. As a result, Macs are very user-friendly and stable. And because they come from the same ecosystem, Apple’s resourceful support network can easily help with any problems that arise.

Quality design is one of the hallmarks of a Mac. They are built to look and feel elegant, which translates to a much higher price tag than their Windows and Chrome OS counterparts, especially when configured with lots of storage. Apple computers aren’t known for being cheap.

Macs use fast hardware, but they don’t tend to sport the most powerful graphics chips as seen in Windows-based PCs. Still, those who want a solid computer but do not know a lot about hardware can rest easy knowing their Mac will perform well during everyday use.

Apple’s strict design standards extend to the operating system, MacOS, which is straightforward and intuitive. Unlike Windows, the platform includes a suite of proprietary office and media-editing software, and each application is well-suited for its targeted task.

In many ways, all of this translates to products that are easy for anyone to pick up and use, regardless of a person’s skill level or familiarity with computers. On the other hand, the rigid design of the Mac means less freedom to customize the device. The installed hardware is the hardware you get — there’s no swapping out the memory or storage.

Finally, while there are no touchscreens on Macs, you can use Apple’s Sidecar mode to essentially add an iPad as a second wireless screen with touch support.

Chrome OS

Acer Chromebook 514 review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Google’s Chrome OS is different than Windows and MacOS. Based on the Chrome browser, this platform initially focused on web-based apps and affordability. While the latter still holds true, Chrome OS has evolved over the years to support more traditional desktop software and mobile apps, similar to its rivals.

Chrome OS powers Chromebooks. These devices are typically more affordable than Windows-based PCs and MacBooks due to their lower hardware requirements. They’re ideal for schools and other institutions, and customers who just need a laptop to browse social media and make online purchases.

However, hardware choices are also much more varied today than in the past, with powerful offerings, like Google’s own Pixelbook, which perform and look very much like premium Windows and MacOS laptops. There are even 2-in-1 options like the Pixel Slate or HP Chromebook x2.

Overall, Chrome OS is quick and more versatile today than it’s ever been. Its foundation is still web-centric, but the platform now supports Google Play and Android apps, making it the ideal notebook companion if you have an Android phone. It even mimics Apple’s iMessages, allowing Chromebook owners to text from their laptops without picking up the phone.

Moreover, Chrome OS supports Linux, opening up the platform to traditional desktop software, like GIMP and Steam. The drawback is that the library isn’t as diverse as Windows or even MacOS, and Linux support is still in beta. Still, the maturity of Chrome OS has proven to be a strong contender in a market mostly dominated by Windows.

Overall, if Chrome OS fits the bill for what you need in a laptop, you can save a lot of money by going with a Chromebook.

The types of laptops

There are several laptop categories, manufactured with a certain use or audience in mind. When shopping for a laptop, decide what you primarily intend to use the laptop for and seek out a category that aligns with those interests. Here are some broad categories and a couple of our favorites for each.

Entry-level ($600 or less)

Acer Chromebook 15 Spin Review
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Laptops can be expensive, but manufacturers know that not everyone can afford a $2,000 machine. Buyers who need a laptop for the most basic purposes and want to save money can find great laptops that cost $600 or less.

In general, budget laptops are ideal for people who may not know a lot about computers and simply want a device that can carry out standard tasks. They’re built to last despite the low price, with competent construction and ergonomically sensible keyboards and touchpads.

These laptops are typically light on hardware, meaning you won’t find loads of RAM or high-performance graphics, making them less ideal for AAA games or keeping hundreds of browser tabs open. They’re not incapable of decent performance, just limited as to what you can do compared to higher-priced models.

This is a category where Chromebooks excel, as they ditch some of the fancier features of Windows and MacOS laptops, but there are options from those two camps. For example, the Acer Chromebook 15 Spin and the Lenovo IdeaPad 330S are fantastic. If portability is more important, the Microsoft Surface Go 2-in-1 has a great design and an exceedingly affordable price.

Mainstream ($600-$1,000)

asus zenbook 13 ux333fa

This price range is arguably the best in terms of bang for your buck. These laptops are truly excellent. You get much better internal hardware than the entry-level offerings, but at the cost of premium features, high-powered graphics chips, and fancy materials.

The fact that this section is such a sweet spot for the industry means that you have plenty to choose from. There are laptops with great displays, laptops with powerful processors, beautiful laptops, and ones that are light and portable with great battery life. You may not find a system that ticks every one of those boxes, but the best laptops under $1,000 are some of our favorites.

If you want a great gaming laptop in this price bracket, the Dell Gaming G3 is a powerful option, while the ZenBook 13 UX333 remains one of the best laptops under $1,000.

Premium ($1,000+)

Dell XPS 13 2019 review (9380)
Riley Young/Digital Trends

This bracket contains some of the best laptops you can buy today. For a little extra money, you gain longer battery life, improved performance from more powerful internal hardware, larger and higher-resolution displays, and overall better build quality. If you’re a bit more of a power-user and can afford it, this is the class of laptop you should consider most.

Despite the inflated cost of the premium laptop category, there are still plenty of choices. You can pick up stellar laptops in the 13-inch form with plenty of general computing power and connectivity options. If you’re interested in gaming on the side or content creation, you’ll want to jump up to a 15-inch laptop with a six-core processor and a dedicated graphics card.

This category even contains our favorite laptop of the past few years, the Dell XPS 13. If you want something a little heftier and more capable of content creation, the Dell XPS 15 is worth considering too. For gamers, the Razer Blade is the best laptop we’ve ever come across (and there’s a new 2020 version out), while the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme offers real power in a supremely rugged chassis.

If you’re an Apple fan, we’d recommend the MacBook Air. The MacBook Pro is an option too, but that’s more for power users and offers less bang for your buck.

2-in-1

surface pro 6
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

The 2-in-1 laptop combines the convenience and ease of a tablet with the utility of a keyboard. This category includes two specific designs: Convertible and detachable. The convertible can serve as a tablet by flipping the keyboard under the screen. The detachable is essentially a tablet with a removable keyboard but looks and feels like an ultra-thin laptop when combined.

Two-in-ones can provide a lot of versatility but are not necessarily the best devices available. The uniqueness of their design can come with some notable drawbacks, such as weight (especially from the metal hinges on the keyboard) and price. These 2-in-1 laptops are often more expensive than clamshell laptops with comparable hardware.

When it comes to buying a 2-in-1, some are better laptops than they are tablets, and some are better tablets than they are laptops. Think hard about which “mode” you’re likely to use more before buying and do so accordingly.

Our favorite 2-in-1 laptops for 2020 are the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and the HP Spectre x360 13.

Ultrabooks

The term “ultrabook” is technically a specification that Intel used for extra-light, portable laptops designed to be easy to carry while still providing great battery life. They use SSDs, power-efficient Intel Core processors, and carefully designed clamshell bodies. This became a very popular type of computer, and many people began applying the name “ultrabook” to any compact, lightweight laptop that was designed for easy transport.

Today, any lightweight laptop with an SSD and Intel processor may be called an ultrabook, although that isn’t quite accurate (some are now referred to as ultraportables instead). You can find some good examples in our list of the best 13-inch laptops.

Business laptops

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2018) review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Business laptops offer some intriguing features for the average buyer despite targeting professionals. Sure, they might not always offer the looks of more mainstream systems, but they tend to pack exceptional battery life and have more rugged and tough shells.

The biggest downside to business laptops is that they’re usually on the expensive side. They typically offer slightly larger displays paired with great color accuracy, especially if they’re aimed more at video editors and photographers. They are also much more likely to offer better protective systems like biometric validation and professionally oriented software packages due to their greater emphasis on security and privacy.

One of the most iconic laptop lines in the business category is the Lenovo Thinkpad, and the recent X1 Carbon is a fantastic entry in that range. We also love the flagship X1 Extreme — it’s our favorite business laptop for 2020.

Gaming laptops

Razer Blade base model compared
Dan Baker/Digital Trends

Gaming laptops must be built to keep up with the unceasing march of progress. The best tout high-end processors and graphics chips, as well as enough RAM to run modern games. Anything less can render the hottest titles unplayable.

High-tier gaming laptops tend to be bulky, typically to accommodate better desktop-like hardware and larger screens. Their power-gulping components mean that battery life isn’t great — especially on systems with 4K displays. But this isn’t always the case, as our favorite gaming laptops tend to offer a good middle ground or offer more stealth gaming ability.

Alienware’s Area-51m is more of a traditional gaming laptop with super-powerful hardware and a bulky frame, but the Razer Blade is a much more modern take on a gaming laptop design.

What you need to know about hardware

As with any computer, hardware determines what a laptop can do. Better components will naturally be more expensive, so it is important to consider the laptop’s primary role and choose hardware suitable for that purpose. A laptop purchased to browse the internet or write documents, for example, doesn’t need a high-end processor or video card.

CPU/Processor

As with any computer, the CPU is the brains of the notebook and does most of the general work. When the computer needs to access or change data, the CPU executes that task. Better CPUs will be able to process more data at quicker speeds. However, keep in mind that a CPU’s pure clock speed doesn’t necessarily paint the whole picture. If you’re unsure about your options, copy its model number (such as “Core i5-9400H”) into a web search to compare your choices.

The latest offerings from Intel are its Core i3, i5, i7, and i9 series in 10th- and 11th-generation models. You can see the generation in the chip’s part number, shown immediately after the dash. For instance, the i5-9400H is a 9th-generation CPU.  Meanwhile, AMD’s latest notebook chips are its third-generation mobile Ryzen 4000 Series CPUs, though they are a bit more difficult to find in laptop offerings.

When it comes to picking a laptop based on its CPU, newer is almost always better. Try to avoid buying a laptop with a CPU that’s a few generations old. Unless you’re doing something intensive like video editing, don’t worry about buying a chip outside of the midrange. The four cores available in the Core i5-1135G7, for example, offer enough performance for almost anyone.

Graphics

A Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU, is a chip that generates all images you see on the screen. Most lower-end laptops ship with integrated graphics, which means the component is mounted inside the main processor. For instance, nearly all Intel laptop chips include integrated graphics. AMD produces Accelerated Processing Units, or APUs, that combine CPU and GPU cores on the same chip (die) in a similar fashion.

Other laptops have an additional graphics chip/module soldered into the motherboard. These chips are referred to as “discrete GPUs,” and typically can’t be removed by the typical laptop owner. Nvidia and AMD are the primary vendors of these chips.

Nvidia’s latest laptop GPU family is the RTX 20 Series, including the RTX 2060, 2070, and 2080 — with some Max-Q versions which are cooler and quieter.  These will be in the most expensive, most powerful gaming and business-class laptops, though some recent models may be using the GTX 16 Series or the older GTX 10 Series. Laptops based on the RTX 30 Series could make an appearance in Q1 2021.

There’s also a growing number of options out there with an Intel CPU combined with AMD Vega graphics core and dedicated video memory on a single module. They can be impressively powerful and are worth considering if you find a laptop sporting that hardware at the right price.

AMD discrete laptop graphics like the RX 5500M and 5600M offer vastly improved performance over integrated solutions, though they are far less common than Nvidia’s solutions.

Audio

Although some laptops offer adequate sound right out of the box, such as the MacBook Pro, most laptops don’t have the room to fit decent speakers inside the casing. Most laptops provide ports to connect headphones or external speakers if you want a more immersive listening experience.

Memory

RAM, often referred to as system memory, refers to dedicated hardware for temporarily storing and accessing information for immediate use. All current tasks store data in RAM, like the web browser currently displaying this guide.

Essentially, the more RAM, the more information a computer can call up at any given time, and thus the more things it can do at any time. However, unlike storage (see below), RAM does not store data indefinitely. Once RAM loses power, all held data is lost.

How much RAM do you need? 8GB is the sweet spot for most. You’ll want to jump up to 16GB or more, though, if you’re running intensive applications or doing any kind of content creation.

Storage

The amount of storage space on a laptop’s internal drive(s) is how much data it can hold in total indefinitely. All data, from installed programs to downloaded music, reside on an internal storage device. These devices either rely on traditional platter-based hard drive technology or NAND Flash technology. Chromebooks tend to use the latter in small amounts.

In contrast to RAM, data in storage does not necessarily need to be in use. An installed program that is currently not active takes up storage space but not memory. Many modern laptops now use solid-state drives (SSDs) which are faster and more reliable than traditional hard drives, but more expensive when comparing identical capacities.

An SSD uses NAND Flash to store data, which doesn’t have moving parts. It offers a dramatic performance boost over a conventional hard drive – which does have moving parts — and can provide the most dramatic improvement in laptop usage when buying a new system.

Make sure your next purchase has an SSD as the primary drive. If you need more space, grab a big external drive too.

Ports

Ports can quickly become confusing on a laptop due to a complex labyrinth of terminology. Make sure to focus on the USB ports that you need.

Most laptops tend to offer USB-A ports to support legacy devices, like peripherals and external drives. They’re rectangular with squared corners and only works with a one-side-up connector. This interface supports USB 2.0 (480Mbps), USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps), or USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), depending on the laptop manufacturer.

Thinner laptops like Ultrabooks and MacBooks generally do not offer USB-A ports due to their size. Instead, you’ll see one or more USB-C ports. This interface is smaller, narrower, and more rounded than USB-A. It’s generally used with several technologies including Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps), USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB 3.2 Gen 2, and DisplayPort, depending on the laptop manufacturer. USB-C requires a different, thinner either-side-up connecter.

If you plan to connect a second external monitor for more large-screen work, make sure that the laptop has the right connections for that monitor, such as USB-C, DisplayPort, or HDMI. You may find VGA on old models, and video output is possible through USB-A using DisplayLink drivers and the appropriate adapter.

Touchscreen support

Touchscreens were once exclusive to high-end laptops mostly because the hardware was expensive and touch-based screens didn’t seem practical. What helped merge the two technologies was the tablet craze and the PC market’s need to regain its footing. Enter the touch-centric 2-in-1 PCs and the overall reduction in manufacturing costs. Touchscreens are now more common — even on some budget designs — unless you own a MacBook.

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Windows 10 has gone a long way towards making these touchscreen and combination designs more viable. The interface and software are designed with touch in mind, including conventional programs like Office and the Edge browser. Third-party software, like Google’s popular Chrome browser, also offers great touch support.

While touch may seem to be an interesting feature given that you smudge up a smartphone every day, consider if it’s important on a laptop. Touch makes sense on a 2-in-1 device, and even on laptops that can lean back in Stand Mode. If you don’t think a touch screen on a clamshell design will be practical, however, don’t dump extra bucks into a feature you’ll never use.

Best time to buy your laptop

One of the most common questions about buying a new laptop is when to shop to get the best deals. There’s no strict rule for securing a cheap but good laptop. But there are a few different ways you can time your purchase window to find a good deal. Consider these timelines if you’re in the market for a new laptop. 

Black Friday and Cyber Monday: These two dates in November are probably the most obvious ones for finding amazing deals. However, act fast, as laptop supplies tend to run out quickly. If you wait for the post-Thanksgiving rush, it may be hard to get the laptop you want, so you may not want to wait too long.

You can get ahead by heading online beforehand to see where the best deals — and shortest lines — will be. Doing your research in advance is a smart strategy.

Back-to-school season: Many retailers offer lower prices to help accommodate students who need new laptops for school. The fall is a great time to shop if you want to get a more affordable device with a steep discount, even if you aren’t a student heading back to class.

A couple of months after a big release: Generally, companies will lower the price of older laptop generations when they are all set to release a new model to the world. This is the manufacturers’ and retailers’ attempt to eliminate the outdated models and open up space for the new ones.

In reality, there are minimal differences between laptop generations. This is why the pre-release months offer another excellent opportunity to snag a good deal on a laptop you like.

Another tip is to search manufacturer websites to stay up-to-date on what’s in the queue and when these new devices will be released to the public. Signing up for their newsletter could be beneficial, ensuring that you never miss a deal. You can always unsubscribe after you find the perfect laptop.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Tech News

Google Search on mobile is about to get a big visual redesign

Google is about to roll out a redesigned Search on mobile, the company said in a blog post today, explaining the adjustments users can expect. Google describes the updated UI as a ‘major visual redesign,’ one that is intended to simplify things for users, bringing ‘information into focus,’ improving the readability of text, and more.

First things first, Google says the redesigned Search interface on mobile makes it easier for users to focus on the content, reducing some of the clutter from design elements. Beyond that, the redesign is also intended to make it easier for users to read content as they browse.

The text has been made bolder and larger, the result of which is easier scanning across search results for the content you want. Google has also added more of its own font into the mix, the one you see on Gmail and Android devices.

“Bringing consistency to when and how we use fonts in Search was important, too, which also helps people parse information more efficiently,” explained Google’s Aileen Cheng, who led the redesign. Beyond that, Google’s redesign uses color to highlight important things in search, emphasizing content first with colors used ‘more intentionally’ in places to guide the user’s eyes.

Shadow use has been minimized and results now span edge-to-edge, ultimately providing more ‘visual space,’ according to Aileen. Rounding it all out is the use of roundness in new places, something that better reflects the same roundness we see in the Google logo.

Google says the updated design will roll out on Search for mobile in coming days.

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Categories
Tech News

Apple is reportedly testing two folding iPhones

We’re not even a week into the new year and already we have our first compelling rumor of 2021. According to the Economic Daily News, which has a somewhat shaky track record but did accurately predict the iPhone SE more than a year before its release, Apple has a couple of folding iPhone prototypes moving their way through development.

Apple’s folding phone ambitions have previously been revealed through rumors and patents, but the Economic Daily News sheds a bit more light on the technology. The publication says Apple is actually developing two new devices with plans to bring just one of them to market. One of the devices reportedly has a dual-screen design that comes together to form a single screen, while the other opens vertically like the Galaxy Z Flip.

The report says that Apple is testing both models at its Foxconn factory in Shenzhen to gauge the durability of the hinge. The hinge has been something of a pain point in early foldable phones, with Samsung delaying the launch of the original Galaxy Fold due to reliable issues and the Razr falling short of Motorola’s claims. Both companies focused on improving the hinge with successor models.

galaxy z flip gap Michael Simon/IDG

Apple is reportedly testing the hinge on two new iPhone prototypes, including one that folds like the Galaxy Z Flip shown here.

It’s likely that these iPhone prototypes will look very little like the final product. Apple is known to test prototypes of products in dummy cases to limit leaks, and the Economic Daily News cautions that the models being tested are not working phones.

But still, it’s exciting. I’ve tested several folding phones and while the technology is still in its infancy, it’s quite cool. Folding phones could be as transformative as the first smartphones if someone gets it right, and Apple could very well be the company to do it. Early issues like the gap when closed, a visible crease in the center of the screen, and a jumbled interface are all things Apple could fix by the time it brings a folding phone to market.

galaxy z flip fold Michael Simon/IDG

A folding iPhone could fix many of the problems we have with today’s folding phones.

The Economic Daily News estimates that the first folding iPhone won’t launch until at least 2022.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

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Game

Epic addresses claim that Fortnite account data is being leaked

Epic Games has released an official statement on claims that Fortnite account data, namely email addresses, are being leaked. The allegation seemed to kick off with a tweet from pro player Yung Calc, who tweeted a message encouraging players to disable the ‘Show on Career Leaderboard’ setting over concerns that their emails were being leaked.

Yung Calc has since deleted the original tweets after pressure from players and Epic’s official response to the allegation. In a tweet on its Fortnite Status Twitter account, the company said that it has investigated the potential issue and found that there isn’t one — your account data isn’t being leaked.

Though it’s all a bit messy, the gist of the concern seems to be that some pro players have experienced being suddenly logged out of their games. This, the idea goes, must mean that someone has attempted to reset their Fortnite password, which would only be possible if they knew the player’s email address.

Yung Calc’s tweets claimed that hackers were accessing players’ email addresses via the leaderboards, hence his suggestion that players should disable this feature. Doing so, however, would also mean their game stats couldn’t be tracked by, for example, Fortnite Tracker.

Players shouldn’t disable their leaderboards out of fear of having their account data leaked. What is true is that some players have experienced sudden unexpected logouts for reasons that remain unclear. Epic didn’t say whether it has a fix inbound to correct this issue.



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AI

A college student used GPT-3 to write fake blog posts and ended up at the top of Hacker News

College student Liam Porr used the language-generating AI tool GPT-3 to produce a fake blog post that recently landed in the No. 1 spot on Hacker News, MIT Technology Review reported. Porr was trying to demonstrate that the content produced by GPT-3 could fool people into believing it was written by a human. And, he told MIT Technology Review, “it was super easy, actually, which was the scary part.”

So to set the stage in case you’re not familiar with GPT-3: It’s the latest version of a series of AI autocomplete tools designed by San Francisco-based OpenAI, and has been in development for several years. At its most basic, GPT-3 (which stands for “generative pre-trained transformer”) auto-completes your text based on prompts from a human writer.

My colleague James Vincent explains how it works:

Like all deep learning systems, GPT-3 looks for patterns in data. To simplify things, the program has been trained on a huge corpus of text that it’s mined for statistical regularities. These regularities are unknown to humans, but they’re stored as billions of weighted connections between the different nodes in GPT-3’s neural network. Importantly, there’s no human input involved in this process: the program looks and finds patterns without any guidance, which it then uses to complete text prompts. If you input the word “fire” into GPT-3, the program knows, based on the weights in its network, that the words “truck” and “alarm” are much more likely to follow than “lucid” or “elvish.” So far, so simple.

Here’s a sample from Porr’s blog post (with a pseudonymous author), titled “Feeling unproductive? Maybe you should stop overthinking.”

Definition #2: Over-Thinking (OT) is the act of trying to come up with ideas that have already been thought through by someone else. OT usually results in ideas that are impractical, impossible, or even stupid.

Yes, I would also like to think I would be able to suss out that this was not written by a human, but there’s a lot of not-great writing on these here internets, so I guess it’s possible that this could pass as “content marketing” or some other content.

OpenAI decided to give access to GPT-3’s API to researchers in a private beta, rather than releasing it into the wild at first. Porr, who is a computer science student at the University of California, Berkeley, was able to find a PhD student who already had access to the API, who agreed to work with him on the experiment. Porr wrote a script that gave GPT-3 a blog post headline and intro. It generated a few versions of the post, and Porr chose one for the blog, copy-pasted from GPT-3’s version with very little editing.

The post went viral in a matter of a few hours, Porr said, and the blog had more than 26,000 visitors. He wrote that only one person reached out to ask if the post was AI-generated, although several commenters did guess GPT-3 was the author. But, Porr says, the community downvoted those comments.

William Porr

He suggests that GPT-3 “writing” could replace content producers which ha ha these are the jokes people of course that could not happen I hope. “The whole point of releasing this in private beta is so the community can show OpenAI new use cases that they should either encourage or look out for,” Porr writes. And notable that he doesn’t yet have access to the GPT-3 API even though he’s applied for it, admitting to MIT Technology Review, “It’s possible that they’re upset that I did this.”

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